Tuesday, November 30, 2010
It is with a little bit of appreciation - that is the light that can help us pull through on the hard days. Here is a way for you to start to feel happy once again when you feel down or upset.
Go into a really dark room or stay where you are and...close your eyes for a full 30 seconds. Imagine the world is completely dark and you cannot see a thing. Use your imagination in those thirty seconds and let your mind wander...try to think what a day would be like without being able to see. You wake up in the morning and brush your teeth, feel for the toothbrush, paste...try to put your glasses/lenses on...get dressed...eat breakfast...and see how long you can keep your thoughts going for.
Once those thirty seconds are up, open your eyes and APPRECIATE!! You actually CAN see! And not just anything but so many colors and shapes, sizes and things...you can keep yourself out of danger, make better decisions (how would you decide what to wear in the morning - and make sure you took out the right color shoes for whatever you chose to wear that day) and your life is so much sweeter and so much better...all because you can see!!!
Take some time to think about this and realize what a gift you have - there are people who are not blessed with the gift of sight and would pay any amount of money to be able to see for just a day! And every morning you wake up and the whole world is in front of you! You come home from a long day and you can see where each thing in your house is, you can see the delicious food you eat, you can see the beauty of nature, you can see yourself in the mirror!!
You have two eyes that work perfectly - better than any camera you'll ever find!
Spend some time thinking about this awesome gift you've been given - by Hashem, your father who loves you so much and wants you to enjoy your life and be happy and thank Him for the good He has given you!!!
Monday, November 29, 2010
The Rabbeinu Yonah teaches that bitachon is hope. When statistics say that something is impossible, K’lal Yisroel still has hope, for Hashem can do anything. What we simply do not know is if Hashem, as the HaTov and HaMaitiv wants it to happen. We don’t know and often cannot see the Tov in events that occur. This is where the next step in bitachon comes in. We believe that notwithstanding our subjective hope, what really happens is all good. One may have davened for what he thought was good for him, but when the opposite occurred, Hashem indicated that in reality what he davened for was not the best for him. When we properly exercise our bitachon, we do not know what the outcome will be, for it depends on the Cheshbonos of the Ribbono Shel Olam.
Chanukah teaches that “Ain Od Melvado-there is nothing but His Will” is really the metziyus, the reality. In everyday life, this is hidden by nature, but in special moments (such as Chanukah and Purim, and perhaps other special times in a person’s life), Hashem makes it visible. It was a clear statistical impossibility for thirteen people (no matter how able bodied they were) to defeat tens of thousands. Hashem willed otherwise-and the rest is history that we celebrate -which reignites the flame of bitachon within us every year.
HaRav Salomon continues with a beautiful teaching of HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl (in Sefer Ruach Chaim to Avos 2:4). There, HaRav Chaim brings the famous Kepital in Tehillim (23)--”Hashem Roii Lo Echsar-Hashem is my shepherd-I will lack nothing.” Dovid HaMelech compares himself to a sheep whose whole existence depends on the shepherd. He leads them in a way that they won’t be injured-all is for their benefit even if they have no understanding. Dovid HaMelech teaches us all to follow the shepherd and feel secure, for even if one may be tired and harassed, he can have full confidence that the shepherd is leading him in the path that is really best. Sometimes we see the good, but often it is not visible. Knowing this, the Shivtecha-the stick that hits me, and Mishantecha-the stick that I lean upon, are really the same stick. Thus, Heimah Yenachamuni-they together assuage me because I have bitachon that everything is LeTova-for the good-for it all comes from the One who is All Good.
At the end of this week's Parsha, Parshas Vayeisheiv, Yosef HaTzaddik places some eminently justifiable reliance on the Sar Hamashkim-after all that he did for him. However, the end was, as the last word of the Parsha testifies-Vayishkacheihu-and he forgot him. [On the other hand, Dovid Hamelech exclaims-V’shavti Bevais Hashem L’Orech Yomim-I look to nothing else and to no one else, other than dwelling together with Hashem for length of days.] With this, Yosef learned that our hallmark for survival in galus among all those around us who in fact do us a favor if they only ‘forget us’-is looking to Hashem for anything and everything. The lesson learned is quickly brought into practice in next week’s Parsha as Yosef starkly and clearly advises Paroah, Biladai-it is not me, it is Hashem who makes all determinations and all decisions, and it is to Him that we must turn-in all dreams, and in all realities!
(Taken from a recent Hakhel post.)
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
And there's no logic as far as you can see.
Some of us cry, some of us don't,
But most of us ask, "Why me?"
But there is logic behind it all,
A reason for our tears.
And the only one who knows that secret,
Is Hashem, who really cares.
It’s like this mashal I once heard,
That sort of helped me understand,
Where Hashem is compared to our father,
And we're compared to children in his hands.
You see, when a child is with his father,
He doesn't look if it's okay to cross the street,
He can just close his eyes and take his father's hand,
Then follow in the lead.
Because a child trusts his father implicitly,
He knows he'll never be lead astray.
I know that He'll look out for the dangers that I might miss,
And then he'll lead the way.
If we follow our father, Hashem,
He'll lead us on a direct path.
And then we find that our that our questions may be answered,
Before they're even asked.
Of course we all have the option,
Of letting go, and taking our own lead.
Though it's so much easier to rely on a father,
Who takes care of all our needs.
But every father has his secrets,
That is understood.
And some of these things should be kept hidden,
It's all for his child's good.
Yes, every child will sometimes get hurt,
It's just something we can't understand.
But in the end it'll all be okay,
If we keep hold of our father's hand.
This mashal gave me a bit of knowledge,
That brought tremendous relief.
I now know that it's not about understanding,
But just a matter of belief.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Are you allowed to make deals with G-d?
I'm not that close enough to Him to be able to tell you what is and what is not allowed. This is not something I've seen written in a halacha sefer - "One may/may not make deals with Hashem for things s/he specifically wants." I will just suggest to you that there is a certain way to live life in which you will come out feeling happy and not upset when things do not work out the way you would like them to.
Why would a person want to make a deal with G-d? Partly because they want to feel like they are in control. Hashem, I'll do this and then you'll do that, deal? [Shake hands] But it doesn't work that way. Hashem is not your friend who you can just make deals with and then hope He will pull through at the end, as long as you kept your side of the deal. Hashem is the One and Only G-d who created the world and all that is in it - so it's only normal that there are going to be things that happen that you may not understand. It's something that as difficult as it is to accept, makes so much sense. How could a human being who is so limited understand the ways of Hashem?!
Did you read this post that I recently re-posted on the blog? It explains this concept really well - how Hashem is so beyond us that it is just impossible for us to understand His ways.
Making deals with Hashem will only lead to disappointment. The reason for this is that sometimes you will see Him "pulling through" and doing His side of the deal and other times you will see that He wont. If you tell Hashem, "I'm going to give x amount of money to tzeddakah and you make sure that I will have xyz happen to me." Hashem may have a reason why it is not good for xyz to happen to you. So if you give the tzeddakah (or make any other change in your life) and then you don't see the yeshuah you wanted, you will be frustrated and upset. And what about the times it does "work"? It's possible that the thing you wanted was good for you at that specific time and Hashem gave it to you - and you would have gotten to that point whether or not you would have made that deal with Him.
What's important to focus on is being a good Jew. Improving your middos. Watching the way you speak. Fixing up your tefillah. Being happy for other people when good things happen to them. Bringing Hashem into your life. Focusing on the good things you have. Strengthening your emunah and trust in Hashem that all He does is for the best.
There's no guarantee that the specific things you want to happen will happen to you but one thing is for sure. If you are constantly trying, striving to be better, you will be a happier person - regardless of whether you get those things you so desperately wanted - because you will know that Hashem loves you and only has good things in mind for you, even if you don't understand it at the moment.
My bracha to you is that you should be able to strengthen yourself to follow Hashem no matter what circumstances you find yourself in and your life should be filled with so much good that you will be too busy thanking Hashem for all you have to focus on making deals with Him!! He should send so much goodness your way that you will be overwhelmed with gratitude for all the blessings you have!
Please can the one who asked this question let me know that you read this answer, if it helped and if you still have questions about what I wrote. Thanks!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Why do we call the Avos or others from tanach by their first names and we call our Rabbis by a respectful title?
What a great question! I love hearing the questions you readers have and seeing how you think things through! You sound like someone who has a true desire to give the proper respect to all people - that is a middah we should all learn from and try to emulate!
Although I have not seen a source for this answer, I am taking the liberty to write up an answer that I thought of on my own.
Our Avos are called with the title father, Avraham Avinu, Yitzchok Avinu and Yaakov Avinu. This should remind us that they can be compared to our father in a very real way. We can and should learn practical lessons for life from the things we read about them in the Torah. Hashem wrote each thing down for a reason - because there is a message for us, the future generations to take from what happened.
They are not meant to be Avos in an unrealistic way. We are supposed to be able to view them as our REAL fathers. The things they went through and the challenges they endured are meant to give us strength - that we can go through these things too.
I remember when I was in Eretz Yisroel davening at Me'oras Hamachpeila, the place where Adam and Chava, Avraham and Sarah, Yitzchok and Rivka, Yaakov and Leah, are buried. It was such an overwhelming feeling when it hit me that this is where they are really buried! This is the place where our Avos - the ones we heard all those stories about - they are HERE! It's not just a joke, it's a REAL THING!! And then I thought about the different things I learned about them in the past, in school, things I've read about their nisyonos...and I davened, I said, "Hashem, please, give those people who are struggling with the same things our Avos struggled with, give them strength to go through and overcome their challenges..." I thought about each of the Avos and Imahos - Avraham and Sarah had so much to deal with - waiting for children, having to raise two different children - Yitzchok and Yishmoel...the Avos dealt with so many challenges that people in our generation are going through - shidduchim, parnassa (Yitzchok and the wells - every time he dug underground and found water, he was chased away and had to start all over again...) think about what each of our forefathers went through and realize that this is not just some story that we learn year after year - this is something real and true that happened!! And this should help us realize that Hashem gives us the strength to overcome any challenge we might face - because He has been with us from the beginning!! And He will be with us throughout our lives - there will never be a time that He wont be with us!!
So perhaps this is one of the messages you can take from the fact that we call our Avos by their names - this makes it much more personal and closer to our hearts. They were our fathers and we can learn from the things that happened to them, gather strength to go through our challenges - because Hashem will pull us through each time!
Another thing is that maybe our generation needs to call our own Rabbis by more respectful titles so that we respect them more. If we look back towards our Avos, of course we will view them respectfully and on a much higher level than us! But the Rabbis in our generation, we might think to ourselves that they are just like us (or almost on our own level). So we need to call them by respectful titles not for them - but for ourselves. So that we always remember to honor them, treat them properly and never to forget that they are much higher than we are and much greater than we are and they deserve the respect that we give them.
I hope this helps you!
Also, please can the person who submitted this question comment to let me know that you read this answer and if you still have a question about what I wrote?
Friday, November 19, 2010
(This was posted before... Enjoy!)
When Shabbos comes, after all the hours of preparation and last minute rush, the mother of the house lights Shabbos candles. She says the bracha, covers her eyes and begins to daven. This special time of welcoming Shabbos into our homes is used as an opportunity to ask Hashem for good children. It is also a chance to ask Hashem for anything and everything. When your mother lights candles, you can also stand there with her and daven for your own personal needs. Daven for other people who have not yet experienced the beauty of yiddishkeit. Daven for people you know who need health, shidduchim, yeshuos, parnassah, shalom bayis. Daven for those neshamos who have left the path of Torah and that they should want to come back to Hashem.
There is a special holiness in the Shabbos candles. The neshama is compared to a candle because just like when you hold a candle in your hands, whichever way you turn it, the flame will always go upwards, a neshama always seeks to strive higher and get closer to Hashem. No matter which way you turn it-no matter what situation a person is in, their neshama always screams from inside-it wants to get closer to Hashem!
When Shabbos comes, we are given an extra neshama-a neshama yeseira. This is why Shabbos is a day where we can achieve higher levels of ruchniyus. It can be compared to a balloon. When you blow it up, there is more room in it. On Shabbos, Hashem blows this extra neshama into you and that is why you can grow even more on Shabbos-if you use the time you have to come closer to Him.
Also, on Shabbos, Hashem says, I want you to enjoy all the goodness and brachos I put into this world. Make extra special foods! Buy things you like to eat and enjoy all the pleasures that I have put in to this world and then, THANK ME for the great things I gave you!! Hashem wants us to enjoy Shabbos! He wants us to be happy! He wants us to use the brachos He gave us to come closer to Him and thank Him for all the good things He gave us!!
Spend time with your friends, read something you enjoy and relax! It is your day!!
When Shabbos is over, we also light a candle. The extra neshama-which is compared to a candle-leaves us. I was once at someone's house for Shabbos and right before the father came home for havdalah, their little boy, who must have been about 5 years old had this sad look on his face, held his heart and said, "Mommy, I'm so sad, I feel my neshama yeseirah leaving me!!" Imagine that! The innocence and purity of a little child! He was able to picture it and really let the feeling into his heart!! Isn't that precious?
So this Shabbos, when the candles are lit, take a few moments to daven for yourself, your future and for all the people you know who need yeshuos!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
This is one cute idea on a new twist to suffering!!
A man went to the barber shop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they talked about so many different subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of Hashem the barber said:"I dont believe that Hashem exists."
"Why do you say that?" asked the customer.
"Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that Hashem doesn't exist. Tell me, if Hashem would be real would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If Hashem existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving father would allow all of these things."
The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barber shop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt.
The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber, "You know what? Barbers do not exist."
"How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber. "And I just worked on you!!"
"No!" the customer exclaimed. "Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like the man outside."
Ah but Barbers do exist!!
"What happens is, people do not come to me."
"Exactly!" affirmed the customer. "Thats the point! Hashem too does exist! What happens is people don't go to him and do not turn to him for help."
He is ready to "cut your beard" you just did not go in and ask him!! (Hashem is the best barber he trims away your pain its soo good!!)
As you turn to Hashem and have a real heart to heart talk with him you will feel some of the pain leaving you!! Bec. you are going to the One who can cure everything!!
How do I do this??
Take a walk by yourself or go into a room where you can be alone and just start with one min. "Hashem you know i had a hard day today... my teacher yelled at me, telling me i am irresponsible bec. I did not have my work with me"....or I upset my mother this morning and now I am in such a bad mood!! (def. not you maybe your friend you could tell this too... you never have a hard day!! just kidding) so now wait for Hashem to answer you...
maybe someone will call you at night and say please can you babysit for me I need someone like you who is very responsible... now you see hashem made her say these words to make you feel better, just bec. you did not have your work does not mean that you are forever labled irresponsible...
Or when you come home you help your mother with a smile and she totally forgets about the morning... she says thank you soo much for your help...now you feel soo much better.(by the way when you leave from beg. of the day till end, people forget how they were in a bad mood over a small tiny thing!)
so these are the messages that we have to look out for so that when we come to him we will see Hashem really being there for us!!
this def. does not do justice to real suffering its just a cute idea!!
The message is prob. pretty clear, Hashem wants us to talk to him and ask him to help us so that he could be there for us in our pain! well someone might say, Hashem is the one who gives me the pain why should I want turn to him??? Don't we all at times feel like, Hashem why are you doing this to me??? Where are you when I need you the most? However we have to look for him and notice all the little things that he does. When you actually sit down and have a conversation with Hashem the way you talk to a friend you will feel so much lighter! how? bec. HASHEM HAS A STORAGE BOX WHERE HE TAKES AWAY PAIN FROM PEOPLE AFTER YOU SHARE IT WITH HIM HE TAKES IT AND STORES IT AWAY AND YOU DONT FEEL THE PAIN HALF AS STRONG AS BEFORE!!
If you open up your heart and your mind to hear the messages that hashem is sending you, you can hear them for real.
Live your life with your eyes wide open not just to look, but to look and see
what messages has Hashem sent to me!!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
The joy and excitement Yair saw within the yeshivah walls aroused his curiosity. He allowed himself to be drawn into conversation with a few yeshivah students. On his third trip there, Yair was already sitting down for a few minutes to sample Torah study. When Yair finally told his parents what he had discovered in the yeshivah, his father became enraged.
"No son of mine is going to become a backward, bearded chareidi! You are no longer to deliver to that route and you are forbidden to visit that yeshivah, or any other yeshivah, ever again!"
Yair knew that one must obey one’s father, except when a parent explicitly commands a child to disobey the Torah. He continued to clandestinely visit the yeshivah. But his father found out, and he reacted violently. Yair, however, was determined. He inquired as to other available yeshivos, left a note wishing his parents well, and left without revealing his destination.
His father searched for him and forced him to return home. Not only that, he blamed the Rosh Yeshivah of Lev V’Nefesh and filed charges against him of brainwashing his 18-year-old son and of engineering his flight from home. The trial aroused great interest, and the trial date found a packed courtroom eagerly awaiting to hear the proceedings. Yair’s testimony did not help the prosecution at all. Yair insisted that he had not been coerced to attend the yeshivah; it was of his own volition.
While Yair was recounting his story, the judge presiding over the case, an elderly man, seemed a bit distracted. He would intermittently take his eyes off the speaker to gaze intently at Yair’s father. When Yair left the witness stand, the judge announced, "I would like Mr. Eitan to step forward."
Yair’s father was surprised as he stepped up to the witness stand. The judge asked if he was of Eastern European descent, if his name back in Europe was perhaps "Stark". Mr. Eitan was clearly taken aback, and he stammered that the judge was indeed correct. "And are you originally from Pinsk?" asked the judge. Mr. Eitan nodded meekly.
The judge continued, "I remember you well. You come from one of the finest homes of pre-War Pinsk. Your father was a deeply religious and highly respected man. Your mother was renowned for her kindness. She would cook meals for the poor and the sick regularly. I remember well when, as an 18-year-old, you openly departed from your parents’ ways. When you publicly desecrated the Shabbos for the first time, your father aged overnight and seemed to be constantly in mourning. Your mother would shed a river of tears every Friday night when she lit the candles. I often wondered what became of all her tears. I’m not the most religious person, but I know that there is a G-d who runs this world, and I could not understand how the tears of so righteous a woman could be ignored in Heaven.
"Today my question has been answered. I see that her tears were not shed in vain. Today, almost 50 years later, her grandson has returned to the ways of his ancestors. Mr. Eitan, I’m sure you recall that on more than one occasion, friends of your parents pleaded with you that for your parents’ sake you should at least refrain from public transgression. As I recall, your response was, ‘I’m now eighteen and I make my own decisions. I can live my life any way I please.' And you dare to file charges because your eighteen-year-old son has returned to the ways that you abandoned?”
Friday, November 12, 2010
Can you imagine a world without Shabbos?!
Can you imagine a week that never ended?
Can you imagine an existence that offered no rejuvenation?
It's hard to imagine surviving without Shabbos.
Thank you Hasem for this precious gift of Shabbos.
A day to reflect.
A day to grow.
A day to recharge.
A day to live for real.
A day like no other.
Can you imagine a week of only Shabbos?
Soon, very soon, moshiach will arrive to herald the news.
Every day will be Shabbos, yes every day.
Yom Shekulo Shabbos.
No more pain.
No more troubles.
No more galus.
No more illness.
May it come soon.
May it stay with us.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
This is the question that was asked: Stories like those you write of your brother do the opposite of inspiring me. they frustrate me to no end. its the very picture of tzaddik v'ra lo. there are times i read stories like these and i feel almost sure that being too good,too holy is a sure way to shorten your life. you read the obituaries in the papers and they are full of young righteous people. your brother did everything right. i'm sure he earned arichut yamim, so why didn't he get too see 16? i don't find any peace in hearing its hashem's will. that kind of answer reminds me of when i was a kid and my mother would tell me "because i said so, thats why" . its a throw away answer and leaves me no wiser than before i asked. if a boy like this didn't have the zechutim to save him, if the couple in dubai didn't have the zechutim to save them, if talia applebaum didn't have the zechuyot to save her, what hope is there for us regular folks? why should God grant me life and not them? I'm sorry if this rubs salt on a wound but i need to know.
To read the beginning of this topic, click here.
At the Shabbos table this week, we discussed this question. We know people young because they are tzadikim from a posuk in last week’s parsha. In 10:3 it says “bikrovay akadesh”. Hashem says He will make Himself Holy through those who are close to Him. When Hashem judges even the greatest tzadik with exact judgment, it is a lesson about His Perfection. Only G-d is perfection. Even these great men have flaws, since they are human. So much more so the wicked!
Rashi explains that when Hashem said “venikdash bichvodi”, “I will be made Holy through my honor”, it can mean “venikdash bemichubodai”, “I will be made Holy through those who honor Me”. Moshe told Aharon that he thought the one through which Hashem would make Himself Holy was either Moshe or Aharon. Now Moshe saw that Nadav and Avihu were greater than Moshe and Aharon, because Hashem chose them to make Himself Holy. We understand that to mean that Moshe and Aharon were HOPING to be worthy of increasing Hashem’s glory. They were eager to be “punished” so they could be medium for Hashem’s kavod. They were Michubodai – ones who glorified Hashem. That was their only ambition in life. (Remember Rabbi Akiva saying his whole life he was waiting for the chance to give up his life for Hashem.) Hashem chooses people like that to increase the world’s knowledge of His transcendence. Hashem usually does not use people who are not eager for such a big part of kavod Hashem, who love their nefesh more than they love Hashem. So, it is not only fair, it makes perfect sense. The tzadik who dies young to strengthen awareness of Hashem considers himself fortunate – he considers it tzadik vetov lo! He considers it a zechus to be elevated as a sacrifice for Hashem’s honor. We regular folk can almost consider ourselves “safe” from the “danger” of Hashem choosing us for such a mission. We don’t want it, understand it, or appreciate it. And Hashem only reveals His holiness through those who live to honor Him.
This relates to the arichas yomim question. The Rambam (Teshuva 9) explains there is no way Hashem can give reward for Mitzvos in this imperfect world. All the Torah’s positive effects for doing good in this world for doing Mitzvos are not reward. They are the means to do even more good, so you can earn even more true reward in the next world.
ג כָּל אוֹתָן הַדְּבָרִים אֱמֶת הָיוּ, וְיִהְיוּ, וּבִזְמָן שֶׁאָנוּ עוֹשִׂין כָּל מִצְווֹת הַתּוֹרָה, יַגִּיעוּ אֵלֵינוּ טוֹבוֹת הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה כֻּלָּן; וּבִזְמָן שֶׁאָנוּ עוֹבְרִין עֲלֵיהֶן, תִּקְרָא אוֹתָנוּ הָרָעוֹת הַכְּתוּבוֹת. וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אֵין אוֹתָן הַטּוֹבוֹת, הֶן סוֹף מַתַּן שְׂכָרָן שֶׁלַּמִּצְווֹת; וְלֹא אוֹתָן הָרָעוֹת, הֶן סוֹף הַנְּקָמָה שֶׁנּוֹקְמִין מֵעוֹבֵר עַל כָּל הַמִּצְווֹת. אֵלָא כָּךְ הוּא הֶסֵּעַ הַדְּבָרִים.
ד הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא נָתַן לָנוּ תּוֹרָה זוֹ, עֵץ חַיִּים, וְכָל הָעוֹשֶׂה כָּל הַכָּתוּב בָּהּ, וְיוֹדְעוֹ דֵּעָה גְּמוּרָה נְכוֹנָה--זוֹכֶה בָּהּ לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא; וּלְפִי גֹּדֶל מַעֲשָׂיו וְגֹדֶל חָכְמָתוֹ, הוּא זוֹכֶה. וְהִבְטִיחָנוּ בַּתּוֹרָה שְׁאִם נַעֲשֶׂה אוֹתָהּ בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְטוֹבַת נֶפֶשׁ, וְנֶהְגֶּה בְּחָכְמָתָהּ תָּמִיד--שֶׁיָּסִיר מִמֶּנּוּ כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הַמּוֹנְעִים אוֹתָנוּ מִלַּעֲשׂוֹתָהּ, כְּגוֹן חֹלִי וּמִלְחָמָה וְרָעָב וְכַיּוֹצֶא בָּהֶן. וְיַשְׁפִּיעַ לָנוּ כָּל הַטּוֹבוֹת הַמְּחַזְּקִים אֶת יָדֵינוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת הַתּוֹרָה, כְּגוֹן שֹׂבַע וְשָׁלוֹם וּרְבוֹת כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב--כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא נַעְסֹק כָּל יָמֵינוּ בִּדְבָרִים שֶׁהַגּוּף צָרִיךְ לָהֶן, אֵלָא נֵשֵׁב פְּנוּיִים לִלְמֹד בְּחָכְמָה, וְלַעֲשׂוֹת הַמִּצְוָה, כְּדֵי שֶׁנִּזְכֶּה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר בַּתּוֹרָה אַחַר שֶׁהִבְטִיחַ בְּטוֹבוֹת הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, "וּצְדָקָה, תִּהְיֶה-לָּנוּ . . ." (דברים ו,כה).
ה וְכֵן הוֹדִיעָנוּ בַּתּוֹרָה שְׁאִם נַעֲזֹב הַתּוֹרָה מִדַּעְתֵּנוּ וְנַעְסֹק בְּהַבְלֵי הַזְּמָן, כְּעִנְיַן שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "וַיִּשְׁמַן יְשֻׁרוּן וַיִּבְעָט" (דברים לב,טו)--שֶׁדַּיָּן הָאֱמֶת יָסִיר מִן הָעוֹזְבִים כָּל טוֹבוֹת הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, שְׁהֶן חִזְּקוּ יְדֵיהֶם לִבְעֹט, וּמֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶן כָּל הָרָעוֹת הַמּוֹנְעִים אוֹתָן מִלִּקְנוֹת הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, כְּדֵי שֶׁיֹּאבְדוּ בְּרִשְׁעָם. הוּא שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה, "וְעָבַדְתָּ אֶת-אֹיְבֶיךָ, אֲשֶׁר יְשַׁלְּחֶנּוּ ה' בָּךְ" (דברים כח,מח), "תַּחַת, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-עָבַדְתָּ אֶת-ה'" (דברים כח,מז).
ו נִמְצָא פֵּרוּשׁ כָּל אוֹתָן הַבְּרָכוֹת וְהַקְּלָלוֹת, עַל דֶּרֶךְ זוֹ: כְּלוֹמַר אִם עֲבַדְתֶּם אֶת ה' בְּשִׂמְחָה, וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם דַּרְכּוֹ--מַשְׁפִּיעַ לָכֶם הַבְּרָכוֹת הָאֵלּוּ וּמַרְחִיק הַקְּלָלוֹת, עַד שֶׁתִּהְיוּ פְּנוּיִים לְהִתְחַכַּם בַּתּוֹרָה וְלַעְסֹק בָּהּ, כְּדֵי שֶׁתִּזְכּוּ לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, וְיִיטַב לָךְ לָעוֹלָם שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ טוֹב וְתַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים לָעוֹלָם שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ אָרוּךְ. וְנִמְצֵאתֶם זוֹכִין לִשְׁנֵי הָעוֹלָמוֹת, לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה הַמְּבִיאִין לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא: שְׁאִם לֹא יִקְנֶה הֵנָּה חָכְמָה וּמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים--אֵין לוֹ בַּמֶּה יִזְכֶּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "כִּי אֵין מַעֲשֶׂה וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן, וְדַעַת וְחָכְמָה, בִּשְׁאוֹל . . ." (קוהלת ט,י).
ז וְאִם עֲזַבְתֶּם אֶת ה' וּשְׁגִיתֶם בְּמַאֲכָל וּמַשְׁקֶה וּזְנוּת וְדוֹמֶה לָהֶם--מֵבִיא עֲלֵיכֶם כָּל הַקְּלָלוֹת הָאֵלּוּ וּמֵסִיר כָּל הַבְּרָכוֹת, עַד שֶׁיִּכְלוּ יְמֵיכֶם בְּבֶהָלָה וּפַחַד, וְלֹא יִהְיֶה לָכֶם לֵב פָּנוּי וְלֹא גּוּף שָׁלֵם לַעֲשׂוֹת הַמִּצְווֹת, כְּדֵי שֶׁתֹּאבְדוּ מֵחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וְנִמְצָא שֶׁאִבַּדְתֶּם שְׁנֵי עוֹלָמוֹת: שֶׁבִּזְמָן שֶׁאָדָם טָרוּד בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה בְּחֹלִי וּבְמִלְחָמָה וּרְעָבוֹן, אֵינוּ מִתְעַסֵּק לֹא בְּחָכְמָה וְלֹא בְּמִצְוָה שֶׁבָּהֶן זוֹכִין לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא.
Whenever we fulfill the commandments of the Torah, we will receive all good earthly matters. Whenever we violate them, all the mentioned evils will happen to us. Nevertheless, the goodness is not all the reward for fulfilling commandments consists of, and the evils are not the entire punishment received by sinners.
This is how Hashem decides all matters: HKB”H, gave us this Torah, which is a support of life. Anybody who does what He wrote in it and knows everything in it is complete and correct will merit life in the World to Come. He will merit [a portion] according to the goodness of his actions and to the extent of his knowledge. The Torah assures us that if we fulfill the Torah with joy and pleasure and always act according to it, then illness, war, famine, etcetera, which could prevent us from doing so, will go away. Plenty, peace, richness, et cetera, which will aid us in fulfilling the Torah will come our way. This way, we will not have to occupy ourselves all day in [getting] bodily needs. We will be free to learn and gather knowledge and fulfill commandments to merit life in the World to Come. As the Torah says after it promises goodness in this world, "And it will be an opportunity for us, if we are careful to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us".
The Torah also tells us that if someone willingly neglects the Torah to chase valueless activities...the True Judge removes all the goodness of this world that they had but used to reject Hashem. He will bring on them all the evils that will prevent them from getting life in the World to Come, so they will be lost in their wickedness...
Hashem fulfills all the blessings and curses in this manner. If one serves God with joy and follows His ways, he will get that much blessing. Hashem will remove all the curses from him so he will be free to become knowledgeable in Torah and busy himself in it. This way, he will merit life in the World to Come. If one does not gain wisdom and if one has no meritorious deeds, then with what will one merit life in the World To Come?! ...
If one ignores God and offends through food, feasting, adultery, or similar activities, he will get all these curses and remove all the blessings. His days will end in panic and fear. He will not have the opportunities or perfect body to perform mitzvos, and he will not merit life in the World to Come. Then he will have missed two worlds. When someone is troubled in this world by illness, plague or hunger he does not busy himself with learning or mitzvos, which he could use to merit life in the World to Come.
We see now that arichas yomim is not a reward for serving Hashem. Hashem gives arichas yomim to people who use their days wisely, so they will have more days to use wisely! Occasionally a person can gain more by not living long. Sometimes, when a good person dies young, he or she can do more tikkunolam through dying than they could have done had they lived 120 years. Think about Rav Shimshon Pincus. When he was alive he was unknown. It is unlikely he would have had such enormous impact if he were still alive. A person whose purpose in life is to perfect the world looks forward to the opportunity to increase his kvod shomayim leverage exponentially. Hashem offers the opportunity to such a person.
This was posted once before but a comment on a previous post promted me to put this up here for you to read again.
Someone asked the following question: Stories like those you write of your brother do the opposite of inspiring me. they frustrate me to no end. its the very picture of tzaddik v'ra lo. there are times i read stories like these and i feel almost sure that being too good,too holy is a sure way to shorten your life. you read the obituaries in the papers and they are full of young righteous people. your brother did everything right. i'm sure he earned arichut yamim, so why didn't he get too see 16? i don't find any peace in hearing its hashem's will. that kind of answer reminds me of when i was a kid and my mother would tell me "because i said so, thats why" . its a throw away answer and leaves me no wiser than before i asked. if a boy like this didn't have the zechutim to save him, if the couple in dubai didn't have the zechutim to save them, if talia applebaum didn't have the zechuyot to save her, what hope is there for us regular folks? why should God grant me life and not them? I'm sorry if this rubs salt on a wound but i need to know.
I thought it would be important for me to ask this question to someone a little bit more knowledgeable than myself, even though I do have what to say to answer this question from my own perspective. The following is what R' Dovid Levine wrote to me but I just want to explain something before posting his answer.
It is difficult to answer this question without knowing the background of the person asking it. There is know way to know what her circumstances are, the level she is on right now and where she is holding hashkafically. Even so, I will post the answer that is somewhat universal and everyone can relate to. (I would recommend reading it a second time because I think there is a lot to gain from rereading all of it.)
Having said all that, here is the first part, a more general answer that he gave me.
I am hesitant answering such questions in writing. You don’t know who the person is, what their background is, their degree of religious practice and knowledge, what pain they are feeling, what their sensitive spots are, in what terms to couch the answer...And much more. Still, you probably must answer since it was asked.
The underlying assumption of this question is that G-d and I are equals, on the same page, able to “understand each other”. Just as I assume I can understand another person, I can understand G-d. If I find fault in my friends actions and choices, I lay the blame at his or her feet. I don’t infer that my reasoning is faulty. This is less than gracious when it comes to my friend (I never have a hard time justifying my own choices, so why don’t I assume my friend has valid reason for his or her decisions?). It is invalid about G-d. My G-d created heaven and earth, and all that is in it. I was not there when He formed earth, and I could never measure the heavens. I don’t know how He made the enormous subterranean force that grinds tectonic plates into one another, raising mountains. I don’t know how those plates float on the liquid core. I don’t know how He made the lava boiling up from under the plates enable life to exist by creating a balance of oxygen and carbon in the atmosphere. And I don’t know why He brings earthquakes that cause massive destruction.
I don’t know how He gathered the seas, or how He keeps them from overflowing the land. I don’t know how He powers tidal flow that is essential for life. I don’t know how He made ice the only substance that expands when it freezes, protecting water-bound life in the winter. And I don’t know why He make tidal waves that sweep away masses of life and beauty.
I don’t know how He makes the sun rises and sets every day. I don’t know how He changes the seasons, and how He gets the animals and plants to match the rhythm of seasonal pattern. I don’t know how He makes the wind blow or the rain fall. And I don’t know why He makes droughts or monsoons or hurricanes or tornadoes that wreck people’s lives.
I have never been to the depths of the sea or even visited all the continents. I didn’t know when I would be born and I don’t know how long I will live.
I couldn’t rotate the earth, much less spin the solar system around the sun, and certainly not swirl this Milky Way galaxy with its hundred-billion stars. (A million seconds is 12 days. A billion seconds is...32 YEARS! To count the stars in our galaxy would take over 3000 years – almost since Matan Torah. And that is just one out of over 200 billion galaxies!) And I can’t coordinate the events of someone’s life.
I don’t know how my heart or liver or kidney work. I can’t scratch the surface of the complexity of DNA. And I don’t know why these systems stop functioning or cause suffering through cancer and break down.
I can’t hunt for a lion or supply food for the birds or cause deer to give birth. I don’t know why some birds sing beautifully and some birds have stunning plumage. I don’t understand why some animals care for their young and some young fend for themselves. I couldn’t decide which animals should eat their offspring, and which animals should feed on their parent’s bodies.
I didn’t make the horse fast or the snail slow. I didn’t make the tiger brave and the sloth timid. I couldn’t make a bird that flies or a fish that swims.
My G-d is greater and wiser than my understanding or yours. If you understand why your G-d decides something and how He carries it out, he is not my G-d. A G-d who always needs to act according to my understanding is not much of a G-d.
This is G-d’s answer to Iyov’s question (which is in essence your question), all the way at the end of the sefer in chapters 38-40.
I don’t accept what G-d does in blind faith. It makes perfect sense to me that a G-d is beyond my grasp, that I should not be able to explain what He does. I don’t believe that is what He wants me to do with my life – spend it pondering the imponderables.
I do know this: G-d has no pleasure from the life or death of the righteous or wicked. If He needs my service, He is not G-d. He gives me life for me, not for him. I don’t know why or how, but since He is infinite and unchanging, it must be for me. I might try to apply some superficial understanding to make going on easier for me to accept, but I must never confuse those flavorings for real reasons or causes. Still, I know it is not for Him, so it must be for my benefit.
My brother was a good boy and he also died at 16. I might try to make it more palatable by saying he was a good person so G-d took him away in place of many others. Maybe yes, maybe no. But I can’t expect to understand why he dies any more than I understand why or how I am alive! I know it was not for G-d’s benefit, so it must have been for us. Good people die and bad people die. And they all die for a good reason – for them to reach their goals and for us to reach our goals. This does not mean I am happy or joyous when they die because I know it is good. That would be cruel and insensitive. It is good because it fulfills G-d’s will, which is finally for the benefit of creation and me. It still hurts. And that too is for the benefit of the purpose of the world. I need to use that pain as well to be successful in my mission. Part of that mission is to increase my knowledge of G-d’s control, unity, and greatness.
Some young people die. Most of us live much longer. Everyone is so confused and tortured by the short life of the few, but no one is too concerned or wonders too much about the long life of the many. I want to know why someone did not wake up on the 5475th day of his life, but they took 5474 mornings until then for granted. Both are for the same purpose – to know G-d.
You can be good and live long or short, you can be bad and live long or short. I don’t do good because I want to have zechusim to bribe G-d into giving me lots of goodies, whatever I think those goodies might be. I am good because that it the best thing to be. Good happens to good people – that does not mean they have lives of fun and candy. It means they have all the tools to do what they want most – to fulfill their mission in life. Sometimes it is through having a short life. Sometimes it is through living until an old age. Wicked people also get the tools to do what they want – to destroy themselves and others. And they lose the tools to do what they need to do, which is to do good. The Rambam explains all this in the ninth chapter of Hilchos Teshuva.
Our problems begin when we lose site of G-d’s greatness and our deficiency. We want to sit G-d on a couch and psychoanalyze Him and diagnose Him with some human frailty. And them we get angry with Him for acting so badly! G-d is too big for any couch. And he has no needs at all, ever, in any way. Finished. So why do these things happen? For us. For us to accept His judgment and serve Him with. For us to grow with. For us to use for good. That is what Nochum Ish Gamzu meant when he said “Gam zu letovah” – this too is for good – for the perfect good of creation – to know and serve our Great, Mighty, and Awesome G-d.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Davening is not a chore
Davening opens up every door
Davening is not relegated to a certain kind
Davening is simply speaking your mind
Talk to Hashem; He is waiting to hear
Because, to Hashem, YOU are very dear
There is nobody else in the universe but you
And your very own HaKadosh Baruch Hu
Yes, the Yetzer Hara will try to distract
But you must do whatever you can to stay intact
A broken heart, troubles, dismays or a fall
No matter, Your Father is there to answer your call
NEVER despair; no matter how problem ridden
Hashem is SO CLOSE even though He seems hidden
Stand strong. Stand proud. Stand tall
You are a a member of the best nation of all
Find the beauty in yiddishkeit, it's there for every Jew
No matter what happened in the past, you can always start anew
Things may sometimes seem cold, impossible and black
But soon, real soon, your tefillos will bring the good times back
Hashem is collecting each and every tear
And every tefillah that is sincere
Thursday, November 4, 2010
HaRav Yaakov Neiman, Z’tl (Rosh Yeshiva in Petach Tikvah), was once raising funds in America. He did not know any English, and after having knocked several times on a well-to-do individual’s door without response, he was approached by the person’s neighbor who knew a little bit of Yiddish. HaRav Neiman explained to him as best he could that he had been attempting to contact the person on whose door he had knocked to raise much-needed funds for his Yeshiva. The neighbor welcomed him into his home as a guest, and invited him to stay until he could actually make contact. That evening, he finally contacted by phone the well-to-do individual he had been seeking, and made an appointment with him. HaRav Neiman, when taking leave of his short-term host, asked him “What can I do for you?” The host responded that he would really like to have a child. HaRav Neiman gave him a bracha that within the year, he would have one - and, in fact, he was blessed with a son within the year.
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, upon hearing the story commented that HaRav Neiman’s bracha was fulfilled not only because it was the bracha of a Talmid Chochom, but also because it was a bracha that flowed from a sincere feeling of HaKaras HaTov, sincere gratitude, for what this caring person had done for him. It is for this reason, HaRav Kanievsky continues, that Yitzchak Avinu had requested his son to bring him good food prior to giving him a blessing, so that the blessing would be all the more powerful.
We are all faced with situations every day - in the home, at work, in the store, and even in Shul - where we are either the giver, or the recipient of good bestowed upon us by another. While it may be bolder for someone who has done a favor or helped someone out to ask his recipient for a heartfelt bracha, it most certainly would be in order for the recipient to initiate the blessing, and give a bracha to the giver for something that he knows is needed.
We all know that negative words have reverberating affects in celestial spheres (See Introduction to Sefer Chofetz Chaim). Since Hashem’s “Middah Tova” (attribute of reward) is much greater than His Midas Puraniyos (attribute of punishment), we can very readily assume that a bracha of one person to another in this world has even more powerful effects in the Heavens than the words of lashon hara or negative speech.
Undoubtedly, the brachos and the compliments one person gives to another pleases HaKadosh Baruch Hu greatly. Making the effort to unite, to make another feel good, simply to wish another to be successful and well, is a simple, but essential, step in the bringing of the geulah, our final redemption. It is important to note, however, that Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, takes us a step further, as he teaches, “Simcha L’Ish B’Maaneh Feev…-A man has joy with the response of his mouth” (Mishlei 15:23). When one speaks in a loving and appreciative tone, blessing others in a way that he himself would like to be blessed, it is the speaker himself, who will feel the joy and contentment in his very own words…it is the giver who feels a sense of accomplishment and of G-dliness, as he emulates Hashem’s ways!
(Taken from yesterday's Hakhel post.)
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I was going in for my fifth c-section and I was terrified! I imagined all the worst incidences in all past four c-sections amplified and rolled into my upcoming operation. I decided to phone Susan, a good friend of mine who was also a repeated c-section case for her support.
Susan had been through a lot, and thus was able to see things in perspective and offer sage advice. In fact, after her second c-section she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Baruch Hashem, after much prayer, and a year of heart wrenching treatment she was proclaimed cancer free. Unfortunately though, the drugs that they had used were so strong, that she was told that there was only a 10% chance that she would be able to become pregnant again.
After she had given me the necessary support she asked me "So what are you going to do with the pain?"
I wasn't quite sure what she was referring to... "I guess grin and bear it" I replied
"No", she answered, "Please pray for me. Each time there is pain please pray that Hashem will give me more children."
I was quite taken aback at her request. "Who I am to pray for this woman? I am just little old me?"
But then I heard her words echoing in my head "There is nothing to do with the pain, its going to be there anyway. So you might as well use it for something worthwhile..."
And so it was. Throughout the surgery and recovery period, each time there was pain, I pleaded that Hashem should allow her miraculously to have more children.
And yes, 2 weeks after the circumcision of my son, she was pregnant!
Just before her third c-section, Susan phoned me for support.
"What about the pain?" she asked, "I am so nervous about it".
"Susan," I replied "why not find someone to pray for each time there is pain. You and I both know that it's going to be there anyway, so you might as well use it for something positive."
"But who am I?" Susan retorted, "I am not anyone grand - I'm just little old me"
While Susan was in treatment for her cancer, she had met a woman named Sarah who also was diagnosed with end stages cancer. Baruch Hashem, Sarah had survived, but she was told that due to the strength of the drugs, that already in her late 20's she had started to go into premature menopause, and therefore would never be able to have more children.
And so it was. Throughout her c-section and recovery period, Susan, prayed with all her might that Sarah should be able to have children.
Two weeks after Susan's son's circumcision Sarah was miraculously pregnant!
Yes, Hashem listens to even "little old me"... You don't have to be great for Hashem to listen to your pleas...
Taken from Traditions of Kindness