Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thoughts After the Fifth Yartzheit

Last year, after posting many stories and thoughts about Shalom a"h and sending around emails about him, I got a letter from someone that really touched my heart. You can read that letter over here.

I was so amazed at how this girl took the message to heart and took something concrete upon herself after she heard all the special things about my brother. That to me is the most comforting - when I see that other people do mitzvos and change themselves because they were inspired by the things Shalom a"h did. You see that the little things that people do, those are really big. That's what made him special. That he went out of his way to do small acts of chessed.

When I was in high school and had to stay late for some extra curricular activities and I was hungry, Shalom biked right over with some delicious supper for me. As soon as I called my house, he stopped whatever he was doing, got the food for and brought it over as if it was no big deal. He was always ready and available to help everyone with whatever they needed.

One thing I wanted to share with you is that the boy who was up in the tree with Shalom (and was having a conversation with him right before he fell down) just got married - on the night of the yartzheit. So although his chuppah was before sunset (so it counts as the day before), he was dancing and celebrating his wedding on the yartzheit itself - and I'm sure Shalom a"h was dancing on high and smiling along with all the people at the simcha. The boy's mother called my mother to invite her to the first sheva brachos which would take place on Shalom's 5th yartzheit - and the chosson would be making a siyum l'ilui nishmas my brother! Is that not amazing?!

Yesterday was also my nephew's first birthday. He was born on the yartzheit and was named Shalom Baruch after Shalom a"h. It was such a nechama for our family that a baby boy was born on this special day. I wrote about it last year right here, how I truly felt that Hashem was giving us a hug and comforting us all along. Since Shalom was niftar before he had a chance to get married and have children, having relatives named after is a way of continuing on his name, his legacy.

The message I try to take from this day is that a person never knows how much longer they have to live. And once a person is niftar, that's it! There are no more chances to do more mitzvos or improve one's character! We must take advantage of the time we have while we are here to do things that make us better people, to improve the lives of others and come closer to Hashem.

Shalom a"h focused on the little things. He found ways to do small acts of kindness for other people, quietly, without getting attention for the things he did. He didn't want anyone to know how special he was. He just wanted to be the best person he can be - which he was. Now, it's up to us to learn from all the things he did and try to follow in his footsteps.

Yesterday, I lit a candle and davened and cried. The reason why we light a candle on someone's yartzheit is because the neshama of a person is compared to a candle. It says "ner elokim nishmas adam." There is a burning desire inside each and every one of us to do the right thing and aim high. Whichever way you turn a candle, the flame will always go upwards. Try it! Turn a candle upside down and watch how the flame still burns upwards. This is to show that a person's neshama always wants to reach up and come closer to Hashem and no matter which way you turn, what situation a person is in, there is always that flame, that desire to be a good person and reach for the stars!

Also, when you light one candle from an existing flame, you do not diminish the light that the original flame had. This is how it is with spirituality, with neshamos and with learning from other people. You can give and give and it wont take away from the original light. When we learn from my brother and try to be like him, he will shine so brightly and we too will illuminate our own lives.

May we all be zoche to follow in Shalom a"h's ways and take advantage of the time we have here to come closer to Hashem each and every day!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tomorrow: My Brother's Yartzheit

My brother's 5th yartzheit will iy"h be tomorrow Wednesday, Yud Zayin Av, July 28th 2010. I wrote a few posts about the story and about him which you can read here, here, and here. I also wrote a poem about him which you can read over here. (These are long and detailed posts so you will need time and thought to read it properly.)

This year, I have another reason to be thankful (and sad...a little bit) because a little over a year ago, I was zoche to have a son and name him after my brother. We named him Shalom Baruch -Shalom was after my brother a"h and we added the name Baruch. It was very hard and emotional but at the same time it was comforting.

It was hard because I could just imagine how close my brother would be with my little son - he was so good with kids and he loved all the nieces and nephews. They would have been such good friends! I can just imagine Shalom a"h scooping up my baby and giving him a huge hug and kiss with the biggest smile on his face. But, it was not meant to be.

It was hard because naming my son after my brother a"h made it even more real in a deeper sense. It made it more concrete - that Shalom a"h is not alive and we are naming someone after him.

And I miss him.

But it was comforting. It made me feel so good to be able to name my child after my special brother. It gives some sort of closure in a way that makes me feel lucky that I was able to have a child that will carry on my brother's name. I want my little SB to know all about the things that made Shalom a"h so special so that he can try to follow in his footsteps.

Every year, when I get to the yartzheit, it's as if I get my own personal reminder that life is short. That I must take advantage of the time I have now and use my time wisely. That a person never knows when their last day will be and so they should take advantage of the time they have here and use every moment to the fullest.

We live in a fast-paced world. Cell phones and the internet make people so much easier to reach - text messaging, IM'ing, everything moves so quickly. We need to take a moment to STOP and think about where we are headed. We need to think about how we can use our time to accomplish and improve ourselves.

The internet is such a huge time-waster. You sit down at the computer to "just check your emails" and before you turn around, it's already so late and you wonder, "where did all that time go?"!! Because one thing leads to the next and someone sent you an email with a link and then you were on another site and remembered something else you wanted to do and you just get caught in this web (literally!) and slowly the clock just ticks (or maybe not so slowly) and then it's too late because you can't go back in time. And instead of using your time productively, you may have instead spent it browsing and shopping and reading things online...when instead you could have used your time for other things - like helping your family, spending time with friends (real time, not internet - chatting time!!), reading books, developing any talents you might have!!

There are so many things to learn from Shalom a"h - some messages you can take from this day is: Use your time wisely. Think of ways to make others happy. Go out of your way to do an extra chessed each day. Feel your neshama with soul-food every so often by getting inspiration.

And can I ask you a favor? If there's anything you can do l'ilui nishmas my brother, can you leave a comment letting me know that you did/will do something for him? It will really make a difference in my day tomorrow and comfort me - because I will know that he was not forgotten and that his neshama is going even higher and higher.

His name is Shalom ben Chaim Nosson.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Your Filter

Full of anger shouts the faucet,
rushing, gushing in a stream,
“you’re a bother, you old filter,
you’re a nuisance, you make me scream!

“Always there and in the way,
when my waters wish to play,
when we want to dance and leap,
first, through you we have to seep,
and you tell us: what’s the rush?
why the noise? Why don’t you hush?

“Oh, you filter, full of holes,
can’t you let my waters roll?
can’t you let my waters spray?
up and down and every way?
it’s so much fun to make a splash,
but through you we cannot crash.”

Says the filter soft and quiet,
“faucet, faucet, stop your riot.
stop your splashing in the sink,
listen well and stop to think.

“I was put here for good use,
to filter out the dirt that’s loose,
to get rid of little bugs,
and the sand that tries to plug
all the pipes and stop the flow.
Drinking bugs is a sin you know.

“I stand watch, I stand guard,
day and night, I work so hard,
to make sure that the water’s pure,
and what you drink is clean for sure,
So that when you take a sip,
you won’t need to watch your lip.”

And thus the argument was won,
with a lesson for everyone.
Can you guess the message here?
I think it’s stated very clear.

Use the filter that is yours,
Locked behind your own closed doors,
Filter words before leaving your lip,
and make sure you never slip.
Don’t be in a rush to speak

inspect the words still in your cheek.

I don't know who wrote this but the message is really good. You can create your own filter by watching the words you speak before letting them slip out of your mouth.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Davening for Moshiach

This morning, I reread this post, which was posted last year after Tisha B'Av. I think that if you read it (and the comments too!) you will gain a lot from it.

We are all waiting for moshiach and we want him so badly. What we should try to do is keep the message of Tisha B'Av with us and not just bounce right out of the day. Think about it for a minute-the Bais Hamikdosh was still burning on the 10th of Av! We don't fast because our rabbanim felt it would be too much for us to fast for two days in a row. But this is why we wait until after chatzos (about noon time) before doing laundry and listening to music-because Hashem's holy house was still burning!!

One thing we can do to make sure we don't forget the power of the day of Tisha B'Av is to try to remember the churban and daven for the geula every single day. Although this may seem difficult at first, the truth is that mention this in shemona esrei a few times. We say Re'ay v'anyeinu, Hashem, see our pain...u'gealeinu, and bring us out of galus! Tekah Beshofar Gadol, Hashem, please, blow that shofar! V'lirushalayim ircha b'rachamim tashuv, Es Tzemach David, Sim Shalom...don't we need peace in this crazy world already?!

We need to try to have extra concentration by these tefillos. How? By thinking about the reasons why you want moshiach to come and what will change when he comes. Take an extra moment each day, while you are saying any one (or all!) of these tefillos that mentioned to think about what hurts you, what bothers you, what pains you and what you are missing out on so that you can deepen your feelings for why you need and want moshiach to come. Think about the pain and suffering of others - people who need yeshuos in any area and beg Hashem to bring an end to all of it!!

If we keep davening for the geula and having an extra measure of kavannah by these specific parts of davening, we will be showing Hashem that it bothers us that moshiach isn't here and that we want him to come already and hopefully that will help bring him closer!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

After Tisha B'Av

Tisha B'Av is now over but the message we can take from this day should stay with us. One of the main purposes of a fast day is to get us to do teshuva. If we stay where we are and don't decide to change, then what was the point? We need to show Hashem that it bothers us that we are still in galus and that we really want to come out! We need to make real changes so that Hashem will see that we care and we don't want to be in this dark and bitter galus anymore.

We know that the
Bais Hamikdosh was destroyed because of sinas chinam which means baseless hatred, having bad feelings towards someone with no good reason at all. So to correct this, we need to have ahavas chinam, love other Jews for no good reason other than because they are Jews! We need to work on ourselves so that our hearts are overflowing with love for one another so that we wont ever want to hurt someone intentionally and we should keep on looking for ways to be kind to others and make them happy.

The famous story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza talks about how a man was making a party and somehow the invitation got sent to the enemy (Bar Kamtza) instead of to the friend (Kamtza). When Bar Kamtza showed up at the party, he was embarrassed publicly by the host of the party and was forced to leave. He was so angry about this that he reported to the Government and this was the first thing that actually brought about the
churban, the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh.

The question is, why is this story called on Kamtza's name if he wasn't even at the party? He had nothing to do with it! In fact, he may not have even known that there was a party that night!

The Maharal says (I heard this at a speech by R' Viener) that having a good friend is only good if it is not to the exclusion of anyone else. We all know about how much we want to feel part of things and included in the group and how it hurts to be excluded. Cliques are very dangerous. We have to make sure to include other people in our friendships and go out of our way to make others feel like they are part of it too. So yes, Kamtza was responsible too since he and his friend, the host of the party, did not include Bar Kamtza in their friendship.

This is the message we need to take from Tisha B'Av. We fasted, we cried, we davened and we hoped. And moshiach still isn't here. We need to work on being more pleasant and friendly to others. We need to include others, be more aware of other peoples feelings, say a kind word, try to compliment more often instead of criticize, speak positively about others instead of put them down and think of ways to make others feel loved and appreciated so that we can show Hashem that we are changing for the better and that we really want moshiach!

Thoughts on a Fast Day

This was posted before but you can read it again and take the message.

Today is a fast day. Each and every Jew should stop and think, "Why am I fasting today? What is it that I am remembering?!"
It is so hard to remember when we don’t have the memories. How can we remember the bais Hamikdosh when we have never seen it standing? How can we remember the avoda of the kohanim if we never saw them bring up karbanos to Hashem?
Can we ever imagine the beauty of the harmony of the songs of the levi’im?
It’s so hard. It’s hard to picture that which you have never seen. It’s hard to feel like you miss the bais Hamikdosh if you’ve never been there before.
So how does one deepen their feelings and await the rebuilding of the bais Hamikdosh?
By thinking.
Think about what we have.
Think about what we could have.
Think about what we are missing.
Look around you. There is so much pain in the world.
Young children who are becoming adults are leaving the most beautiful path of life and exchanging our mesorah for the "street life." They are throwing away diamonds in exchange for cheap glass.
People are struggling to make a living. They work so hard and try to put bread on the table. They try one job, another and yet another but they just can’t seem to make it.
Young children are losing parents. A house that is meant to be run by a father and a mother begins to fall apart when the mother is gone. The children have to learn to take charge, make the suppers and do the laundry. The children have to do homework with their younger siblings and tuck them under their blankets and kiss them good night.
Parents are taking their sick children from one hospital to the next, from one specialist to another, waiting and hoping. They watch their child slowly deteriorate before their very eyes, until…those dreaded words…baruch dayan ha’emes...
People are dying in the most unnatural ways, at the most unexpected times. We are constantly hearing about accidents that make no sense. Every day, another story.
Don’t you think Hashem is trying to tell us something?!
Isn’t it about time that we wake up and take the message?
Hashem wants you to turn to Him!
He wants you to take one step closer to Him and make that change!
He wants you to dig deep inside yourself and see, Who am I?! What is it that is really hard for me?! What change can I make to become a better eved Hashem?!
Ask yourself these questions.
Get yourself some answers.
Make the change.
And when you show Hashem that you are willing to make that change, He will show all of us that He is ready to change the world!
And then He will rebuild the bais Hamikdosh and we will all go to Yerushalayim with moshiach!
It is up to YOU to bring moshiach today!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Funeral Director

Last Thursday, I was informed of the death of a woman who I did not know.
She was relatively young, only 64 years old. She left behind three sons and grandchildren. It was a stifling, steamy hot humid day; the temperature was hovering over ninety degrees.
The funeral was held in Far Rockaway. I drove out from New Jersey to officiate at the funeral of a woman I never knew.

At the conclusion of the funeral, I asked the funeral director- who was Jewish, and was also driving the hearse containing the nifterres (the deceased)-if he (as they usually do) has a knife for the kriah (ripping of the garments).
He handed me the knife, I helped the mourners with the kriah and returned the knife to the funeral director. We continued to the cemetery in Elmont, New York for the burial.

As we arrived at the cemetery we proceeded to carry the coffin to the grave and we commenced the burial. Everyone took turns with the shovels and we all assisted each other in the burial of the nifterres. The day was stifling hot and most of the men removed their jackets as their brows were filled with sweat and their pants became dirtied as the hot dust swirled around.

The sons and the sisters of the nifterres were overcome with grief.
All of us were exhausted and spent. We were drained both emotionally and physically.

We felt the heat of the sun and the pain and grief of the mourners.
It was an emotionally laden experience.

As the levaya came to a conclusion, we proceeded back to our cars.
As I sat down in my car I was drained and weary from the events of the day. Every funeral is painful; every levaya is filled with grief.
However, perhaps because of the heat and because of the relative young age of the nifterres-I was tired and wasted.

Suddenly, I look up and see the funeral director standing at my car window.
As I look at him he says, "Did you give me back my knife? It's the only one I have and I cannot find it."
I felt terrible at the thought of not returning his knife and began to search my pockets.
I said to the fellow, "I cannot find the knife, I am so sorry. I will replace it for you".

About ten minutes later after everyone had returned to their cars and we were about to exit the cemetery, I realized that I better get the address of the funeral director to send him a new knife.

As I approached his car, I apologized for losing his knife. He said in what appeared to me to be in complete seriousness, "Don't worry, I have a whole list of problems with you!"

I was stunned.
I had just met this man about two hours ago. Our interactions seemed to me to be limited to my borrowing his knife. Was there something I had said or done during the funeral which had offended him? My mind was racing in its attempt to figure out what I did to offend this man that he now has a 'list' of things which he has a 'problem' with.

I looked at him and said with total supplication, "I am so sorry, please tell me what I have done to offend you?"
His face broke into a broad smile as he said,

"Oh, I 'm just kidding around. You have done nothing to offend me and don't worry; I found my knife, you gave it back to me.
I like to joke around with people.
By the way here is my card and I am licensed in New Jersey as well".

I smiled meekly as I took his card and returned to my car.
As I sat down, I realized I was shaking.

"What's wrong with this picture?" I asked myself.
We have just completed burying a 64 year old mother of three. It is about 100 degrees outside. We are all exhausted and our clothes and shoes are filled with the dust of the earth after burying a Jewish mother, and this man informs me that, "I like to joke around with people"!

I also like to 'joke around'.
However, as Shlomo HaMelech taught in Koheles 3:4: (There is...) "A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time of wailing and a time of dancing."
This was not a time 'to laugh'!

After thinking about this on the drive home, I realized that because this man is always involved in death and burial he has become hardened and no longer is touched by the tragedy of death which to him is a regular part of life.
Death has become the norm in his life.

As I drove on, I thought of the fact that we are now in the midst of the Three Weeks (and now the Nine Days) - the time of national mourning for the Beis HaMikdash.

How do I find it possible to 'joke around' today?
How can I crack a smile and a laugh when I'm supposed to be in the midst of mourning for the destruction of both Batei Mikdash?
Am I not exhibiting the exact same callous and caviler behavior which I found so distasteful in the funeral director?
How can I smile and 'kid around' when at this time of the year, thousands and thousands of Jews were being killed and ultimately the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed?

Have I become as casual and cavalier in my reactions to death as the funeral director?

As I drove on I stopped feeling so smug about myself and so scornful of the funeral director and I started feeling more and more ashamed of myself for my lack of feeling.
Have I become unmoved because of the fact that I have lived every day of my life without a Beis HaMikdash?
Is my skin no longer responsive to the pain of the nation?
As I drove, I felt sadder and sadder; not so much for the nation but, rather, for me.

I was saddened by the realization that the Churban (destruction) has become routine in my life; something standard and unexceptional and most troubling, almost natural.

As the realization hit home, I pulled over to the shoulder of the highway and I cried.
I cried not for the Beis HaMikdash; and not for the destruction of Yerushalayim.

I cried for me, and for the realization that I too had become a funeral director.

Taken from

Tisha B'Av - A Video

If you are trying to view this in google reader and are unable to watch this video, come to the blog to see it, it is worth it!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Own Geulah: Some Thoughts on Tisha B'Av

When was the last time you cried? Do you remember how you felt, where you were,how you wished you could step outside yourself and live someone else's life for a day? Do you remember why you cried? Try to remember. Maybe you don't even have to remember. Maybe you're going through something right now that's eating at you, consuming you, you can't forget and you can't move on because it is so solidly there, taking up space, the "elephant in the room." Everyone goes through this. Everyone has felt this. You're not human if you haven't. But why? I remember asking myself this question when I was going through something particularly painful. Why do I have to experience this pain? Why does this have to be a part of life?

Pain is a funny thing. It can stop your heart and cause you to forget everything, and then just as easily disappear into nothingness when the issue is resolved and things are back to the way you want them to be. There's darkness, absolute and impenetrable, and you can't see out; and then just as suddenly as it came, it disappears when one small, tiny speck of light becomes as bright as the sun, leading you out of the cold and into the warm comfort of another chance, a new beginning. This is your life. This is mine. This is the history of our people.

It's a fast day. You can't eat, you can't wear your regular shoes. You can't act as if it's every other day minus the food. You cannot pretend this day is not significant. This is your reminder of who you are and where you came from. We are all experiencing pain. Maybe you don't notice it all the time, but it's there. Maybe you can sense it, when all is quiet and it's you, only you, alone with your thoughts. There's something missing;something vital. No matter who you are, each person goes through their own personal exile; and each person,with the help of their Creator, experiences their redemption. We, individually and as a nation, are experiencing exile. We've lost our true connection; we've lost the most vital link to reality. We stumble through darkness and try to choose between right and wrong, never really knowing,truly knowing,what is real and what is all just illusion. How much longer are we going to allow ourselves to tread water, struggling to keep afloat when the next wave might bring us under? How much longer can we attempt to escape the doubt and confusion that threatens to swallow us whole?

Listen to your soul crying to be truly recognized, see the tears, those you can see with your eyes and those you can't, feel the pain of millions of people, of thousands of years. Realize. It could be over so soon. Like a passing dream, it will recede into something you can barely recall, something you will never have to experience again. It doesn't have to be like this. Make it end. Bring the geulah to your own personal galus, and to that of the nation you belong to. Forget what divides you;extend the hand that is rigid and cold, unwilling to forgive. We can do it together. We will do it. What we need, all that we're waiting for, is you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Imagine If...

By: Chaim Bashevkin

I look up in
This roasting heat
To a sky without a cloud
And in my mind
Diverse views meet
And I start to think aloud

What if no clouds
Would fill the sky
And it's forever blue
And no rain would fall
On our parade
What would I ever do?

And if the sun
Would shine each day
And everything would grow
What if I think
At Heaven's gate
I truly do not know

What if no one
Were ever ill
And hospitals were bare
And people would have
All the cash
And spend it without care

What if no one
Would ever come
Knocking on my door
And Sunday mornings
We could learn
And breakfasts never more

What if no one
In shul would squabble
'bout a chair or seat
And smile and
Say "Shalom"
To everyone they meet

What if learning
Would not cost a dime
And parnassah would
Be so easy
That we'd all have the time

To sit and learn
And no da'agah on our mind
And dole out joy
Kiddush Hashem
To all of His mankind

Imagine if
Each gentile
Would point fingers and say
"Please teach us how
To live our lives
In your Holy Torah's way"

And all will join together
By cars, by boat, by plane
To see the holy mountain
Where His Majesty does reign

And now I look
Once more on High
And see dark clouds above
Remembering that
In a week
Comes once more Tisha B'Av

But my imagination
It will not dissipate
Unlike the clouds that surely will
As I anticipate

All the great things
That I saw
Will surely soon appear
And clouds of darkness
And of gloom
Will quickly disappear

For shining brightly
Through the clouds
Hashem's glory will show
And Tisha B'Av
Will celebrate
A world we soon shall know

Mitzvos-Even When We Don't Understand

I was recently at a bris and heard a very powerful thought from R' Viegler that I wanted to share with you.

Yishmael had a bris milah when he was 13 years and Yitzchok had it when he was just 8 days old. If you think about it, which one seems greater, the one who had it when he was an adult and was able to understand what was going on or the one who had it as a newborn baby and had no say in the matter? I'd say for sure the adult who agreed to have a bris milah at 13 years of age, with all that it entails! A baby doesn't even realize what is going on and doesn't give his consent to what his parents do. And why is it that we give our children a bris milah when they turn 8 days old? Shouldn't we wait until they are old enough to understand and agree that this is what they want to do? Won't their reward be so much greater?

To better explain this, let's try to understand what the difference is between Yishmael's doing a bris at 13 and Yitzchok at 8 days. Yishmoel says, "You see, I'm so great! I tell Hashem that now that I am old enough to understand your ways, I am ready to do this special mitzvah." In essence, he is saying that as long as he understands the reasoning behind a mitzvah and it all makes sense to him, he will do it.

Yitzchok, on the other hand, says, "Hashem, you are so great and there is no way I can fully understand the things you do. Therefore, I am willing to go through the bris milah at such a young age, an age where my mind is not mature enough to understand why I am doing it. And this is the message of my life. I will do mitzvos because I love you and because you commanded me to, not because I understand the reasons why you told me to do them."

This is the message that we wish to convey to our children when we do the bris at 8 days old. You may not understand why we do it but you must remember that this is the essence of a Jew. Although we don't always understand the reasons for why Hashem does things, we will always believe in Him will full faith that He has the best in mind for us. We do the mitzvos because He commanded us, not only because we understand. Because if we only do mitzvos because we understand them, what will happen when there is something we don't understantd? Will we stop? No! Because we don't work that way! We do things out of love for Hashem, love for His Torah and mitzvos! We are so lucky to live this way!!

That is not to say that we cannot ask, that we cannot try to understand. On the contrary, the questions we ask and the answers we get deepen the love we have for the mitzvos and make us fulfill them with more enthusiasm. (I even wrote a post about that here.) But we have to realize and appreciate that we do the mitzvos because Hashem commanded us to, even when we don't know why. What an important message to give over to our children!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Crying for Moshiach

A story is told of a mother whose life was threatened during childbirth; her unborn child's life was threatened as well.

The Doctor said that he couldn't save both; it will have to be either the Mother or the baby.

The Mother decided that she would give up her life for her baby.

And so it was, the Doctor saved the baby and the Mother passed away. The baby was a boy and years passed and it was the day of his Bar-Mitzvah. His father took him to the Kever of his mother so that he could daven.

It was emotional for his father but the child was unemotional and passive. He didn't cry and he wanted to leave quickly so that he could get on with the Bar-Mitzvah celebrations.

After they left, his father turned to him and said, "How could you not cry, this was your Mother and she gave up her life for you!"

If we don't make an effort to concentrate on the loss of the Bais HaMikdash we are as unemotional as this son!

Hashem destroyed his Bais HaMikdash in order to spare us! He took out His wrath on wood and stone rather than annihilate the Jewish people! How can we not cry over it?

Do we begin to understand what we are crying about? Why we should cry? We need to spend some time, now during the nine days, to think about what we are missing! We are missing that unbelievable clarity and closeness to Hashem that existed during that time! We are so far away, so distant and want to be so close...

So spend some time during the next week thinking about why you want moshiach to come and then daven hard for it...because we need him badly!!


A teardrop is a precious thing
A gift from Hashem above,
To soften pain, make whole again
A broken-hearted love.

Like a raindrop- a pure tear
Can bring immense relief
It can make a person grow
Much stronger through his grief

And when with sorrow one is faced
This diamond is a shame to waste
For it you weep just for yourself
The tears will not yield all their help

So when you cry, think of another
Someone with pain, an ailing brother
Think of the ones who cry for bread,
Think of those suffering in bed,
Think of the deaf, think of the blind
So many tragedies you will find

And when you share your tears with them
Those tears will be gathered by Hashem
And places into a heavenly cup
All the tears of pity will add up

And when the world has its full measure
Of suffering-then will come the pleasure
Then will we see the glorious days
Of Moshiah’s times, a brand new phase.

And so when I cry, I cry for others.
For suffering children and mothers

For all the pain that is on earth
I cry for all my tear is worth
And pray for a better, happier day
When Moshiah will finally come to stay

Monday, July 12, 2010

Think About It

Now that we are in the nine days, it's time to really think about the churban and what we can do to bring moshiach closer.

We have so many opportunities throughout our day to do mitzvos. And like we've all learned when we were younger, each mitzvah you do adds a brick to the bais hamikdosh and yes-it is true! Each mitzvah you do helps bring the geula closer!

It's hard to imagine what we are missing when we never lived in those times. But it shouldn't be too hard to feel, to really feel that we want it back-even though we never experienced life with the bais hamikdosh. It takes a little bit of thought but once you think about it, you will realize how much we really NEED moshiach to come already!

Take a few minutes to think about the things going on around you. There is so much pain in the world. When moshiach comes, that pain will end. People who are sick will become healthy, orphans will be reunited with their parents...and the list goes on and on. There are people who are struggling financially, people with emotional problems, parents and children who need a big band-aid to improve their relationship...and all these things can and will be fixed one day!

We are busy with so many things throughout our day and what we can do is elevate our actions so that the mitzvos we are doing anyway become filled with enthusiasm and excitement. This way, they wont just be actions, mitzvos that are plain and simple, they will be great! How can we do that?

So here's the tip. You need to take an extra minute before you do something to actually think about what you are about to do.

Let's start with brachos.

We spend plenty of time each day eating. Don't you think that by spending a few extra moments before putting the food into your mouth, that bracha can reach a higher level?
The bracha of mezonos-thank you Hashem for giving me food that keeps me full and satisfied!
Shehakol-that everything Hashem created is an extension of His will. Everything exists only because He wills it.

These thoughts take a few extra seconds of your time, but by really thinking about what you are saying as you are saying, you add so much to the bracha you are saying!

There are plenty of other mitzvos that you do throughout your day. If you make yourself aware and try to think about what you do just a minute before you do it, your mitzvah will become so much greater! It's the kavannah, the thought that goes into it that makes all the difference!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Awareness Makes You Alive!

Although this was posted once before, reading it again can really have an impact. Enjoy!

This was an e mail sent by B'yachad. I think its soooo cool if you read it with your heart, and an open mind, you can learn some great new ideas!! In what way can we grow that we actually can feel a real change inside ourselves??

AWARENESS is the key. It’s the first step to create balance in your life. When you are aware of what’s going on, where you are, what you are doing, and what you are thinking, it is only then that you have more freedom to choose. Making wise choices depends on how much awareness you bring to the moment.

Rav Shimshon David Pincus explains: Pretend it’s Rosh HaShana (the New Year). What do we do? The VERY FIRST thing to do is to KNOW that today is Rosh HaShana. We must be aware that it’s a special day.

Let’s say a Jew is driving on the highway. He realizes that the sun will set soon and he didn’t pray Mincha yet. He pulls over, gets out of the car, and prays Mincha. Of course, it’s very noisy with all the cars passing by. It wasn’t his greatest prayer because of the distraction around him, but he figures that tomorrow he can pray another Mincha and it will be better than today’s.

Now pretend it’s Yom Kippur. This same Jew is in a synagogue. It’s time for Mincha. He’s been there all day, fasting and praying. He’s very weak and tired. He says, “Well, if I don’t pray well during Mincha, I’ll have another chance tomorrow.” Does this make sense to you? NOOOOO!!! Why? Because today is Yom Kippur. The power and essence of this day atones for all the mistakes he made throughout the whole year. A prayer on Yom Kippur is VERY different from a prayer on every other day of the year. If he is aware of this, he can make a good choice and pull his strength together and pray to Hashem from the bottom of his heart, with as much effort and concentration as possible. If he doesn’t know this, then he loses out big time!!!!

When you have awareness, you will be amazed at how much you can change the quality of your life. How much of the time in your day are you fully present? For example, when you eat, how much of the time are you really there, with your attention on eating? And how much of the time is your mind wandering to past memories, present worries, and future dreams? Are you tasting the flavors of the food and chewing intently and enjoying the aroma of the food? Are you thinking about eating in order to nourish the body and be healthy to do the mitzvot (commandments)? Do you realize what a gift it is to eat and enjoy the food??? All Hashem asks is say thank you not mumble it so under your breathe that you dont even know if you said it or not!! Maybe once a week you could just take a bencher and read it in English. You will see what you are really saying and feel so much luckier abt how much you have!!!

When you sleep, how much of your energy is being given to the problems of the day and worries of how things will work out? And how much of your energy is directed at experiencing a deep, restful sleep and recharging the whole system so that you can be healthy to do mitzvot and get closer to Hashem?

When you have a conversation with someone, are you maintaining eye contact and listening to them and trying to understand them? Or are you thinking of what you’re going to say next? Are your eyes wandering to what’s going on around you? Are you fully present?

We are out of balance because we are not awake. We’re not there. Increasing awareness can help us get back in balance (emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically).

Unfortunately, many people in this world are on autopilot. They are not thinking. They are not seeing. They do the same things every day, a routine, and they don’t include thought in it anymore. It’s automatic. Is this life? Can we call that “living”? If you want to feel alive and happy and like there is meaning in every second of every day, then AWARENESS is the key.

Be present in your life. This is called mindfulness.

In certain divisions of Hewlett-Packard, after going through training sessions of how to stay mindful, they started doing things to help wake themselves up. For example, some people made a screen saver which would say, “Wake up!” or “Breathe…Smile…Relax” in bright colors. One person found a “WHOA!” sign and put it in the corridor so that when employees pass by, they would see it and remember to slow down and find their balance. Some people set their watch to beep every hour. When it beeps, it reminds them to wake up and be mindful.

The first step is awareness---to know where you mind is going. Where are you directing your energy? Without knowing this, you cannot redirect your energy and focus to something else because you have no clue that you need to!!!

Rabbi Yissocher Frand teaches that during the times of the first Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple), the people also did things by rote. Bringing sacrifices became a habit. This was the challenge of that generation.

When bringing a sacrifice to Hashem, so much thought and emotion is involved. If someone brings a sacrifice to atone for his mistakes, then he is supposed to look at the animal being slaughtered and burned on the Mizbeyach (Altar). He is supposed to feel that it should have been him, but it’s happening to the animal instead. He is supposed to do teshuva (return to Hashem) and work on himself to be better. If he brings a sacrifice to show thankfulness to Hashem, then he has to recognize the great kindness that Hashem did for him and truly appreciate it. Basically, their mind has to be there. They have to be focused. It is not a time to space out. At the time of the 1st Beit HaMikdash, the people bought the animal, brought it to the Kohen, and told him to sacrifice it. It became a habit. They left the intent and thought out of it. And what was Hashem’s reaction? “Of what use are your many sacrifices to Me?” says Hashem. “I am sated with the burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle; and the blood of bulls and sheep and hegoats I do not want.” (Yeshayahu 1:11) There was no spirituality involved, so Hashem didn’t want such offerings. There was no thought, no feeling.

Hashem wants us to LIVE. When you’re saying a blessing, are you really there saying a blessing? Where are you when you’re talking to a friend? Where are you when you’re watering your plants? How about when you’re cleaning for Shabbat? What about when you’re walking down the street? You are where your mind is. So the question is: WHERE IS YOUR MIND? Bring it to the present moment and LIVE.