Monday, January 31, 2011

Why is Life so Difficult?

I got this as an email and am amazed at how it fits so well into the topic of pain and the question I'm in middle of answering.

Financial worries, health issues, trouble with children, in law problems, marital conflicts...the list seem endless. One of the questions a thinking person should ask is why? Why is life so hard? Why are there so many issues, worries and anxieties that afflict man? And worse it doesn't stop. Just when things are starting to move smoothly, something else pops up-and undoes it all. It almost seems orchestrated. The perplexing part is that we aren't talking about wicked individuals. We're talking about good people. People who do what they should be doing-and yet they suffer in very real ways. The question we need to ask is why?

We accept that Hashem is more giving and loving than any person we could ever imagine or envision. And Hashem is very capable. Hashem could have easily made man very differently. Hashem could have made life very differently, and there wouldn't be any suffering. Not a little, not a lot-none. And so the question that begs being asked is why. Why is life so difficult? Why does it seem to be so hard?

To understand this we need a different perspective of life.

Progressive weight training

A rather yeshivishe fellow went to a power-lifting gym to learn how to work out. As a kid, he had little experience with sports and was clearly out of his element. Recognizing this, the coach showed him various exercises and worked closely with him.

One day this fellow was overheard saying, "That coach, I don't know what's with him. Every time I get the exercise right, he goes and adds more weight to the bar. What's wrong with him?"

The point this fellow missed was that progressive weight training is all about increasing the load. The goal of the activity is to coax the body to grow. By gradually increasing the work load, the body is called upon to respond. The work should never be easy. The nature of the activity is to incrementally increase the demand placed on the body, thereby causing it to grow.

This is a good parable because in life we are put into many situations. If a person doesn't understand why he is on this planet, he will have many questions. Why does it seem that there is a never ending stream of difficult situations? Why is it that when I finally get things under control, a whole new set of circumstances arises that sets everything out of kilter? Why can't life just be easy?

The point that he is missing is the very purpose of life. Hashem put us on this planet to grow. Many of the challenges and situations are given to us specifically for that reason. It isn't by accident, and it isn't because Hashem doesn't pay attention. Quite the opposite, these situations were hand-designed to demand from us. They are catalysts to change who we are.

In weight training, the movement of the bar isn't the significant part; the demand on the body is. So too in life, the situations I face are far less significant than my reactions to them. Who I become is a result of my attitude and the way I handle my challenges.

The end result is that life is beautiful, but it isn't a walk in the park. A life properly led will have moments of doubt, pain, and confusion. That doesn't mean that we are on the wrong path, and it doesn't mean that life doesn't make sense. Quite the opposite, if life is going too smoothly, it's a bad sign. Since the purpose of life is to grow, we need the challenges of life to help us reach our potential.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shalom Rubashkin is on all our minds what can we do?WE CAN ALL UNITE TOG. SEE HOW EVERY KIND OF SINGER HAS COME TOG. TO SING&SPREAD MORE LOVE...

We must hear and see things and let that open our hearts to be more loving to everyone our sisters, brothers,mothers,fathers & FRIENDS...
U BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD!!! Whenever there is a person in front of you there is room for kindness!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Understanding Pain - Part 2

Here's the question that was submitted anonymously using the form on the right.

When trying to help a loved one in a time of
nisayon, its so easy for you to just say "it's from Hashem". But when you are the one going through a nisayon, knowing its all from Hashem doesn't make you feel any better. Although you know its from Hashem, the next world seems so far off and you can't imagine why He is putting you through this. What can help you, in your moment of pain, realize that everything is really for the best?

Make sure to read
Part 1 of the answer.


There are other reasons why Hashem put pain into this world. You need to strengthen yourself at all times - especially when things are good - that everything is from Him and everything happens for a good reason. Why during the good times do you need to strengthen your
emunah in Him? Because this will lay the foundation - this will be the groundwork - so that when things get hard you will have what to fall back on. You will feel it so strongly in your heart that it's all from Him and for the best!

I always say this but I'll say it again. People ask my family how we were all so strong and dealt with my brother's passing the way we did. When people came to be
menachem avel they couldn't believe how much chizuk they got. They thought they would have to comfort us but they left our house feeling truly uplifted. (Now don't get the wrong message - people definitely gave us a TON of chizuk during the shiva but at the same time, we were also able to strengthen those who came.)

So how were we able to stay so strong? It's because we didn't start working on our
emunah the moment the hardship came along. It's something that was part and parcel of the chinuch in our home. It's the way my mother raised us. Always bringing Hashem into the picture. Showing us how we have to trust in Him at all times. And she was able to lay down such a strong, solid foundation of emunah and instill in our hearts such a firm belief in Hashem so when this came our way (and it was HARD, don't get me wrong), we were able to continue strengthening ourselves and others.

It's also important to notice Hashem in the little things that happen. Because when you remember to acknowledge every happening to Him - especially the little things - making the bus, finding a parking space, having a good meal for dinner, getting along with your neighbors/friends/coworkers, it strengthens you and will help you continue to trust in Him when the bigger and harder things come your way. You'll know it so strongly in your heart of hearts that no matter what is going on it's because Hashem loves you!

Every so often, look at yourself in the mirror and say, "Hashem loves me just because I'm His child." This can be a very powerful and empowering experience - reminding yourself time and again that He loves you!

Another reason why Hashem may put you through a certain difficult experience is to get you to work on a certain middah and this is the best way to get you to work on that specific thing. You may need to work on your patience or your anger but if things went smoothly you would not need to work on it at all! How could a person who never had anyone rub them the wrong way work on controlling their anger? How could someone who never encountered someone different than them work on their patience?

When a teacher has a student who doesn't grasp the concept she is trying to teach as quickly as the rest of the class, she has to work on finding a way to explain it clearly to her. But if all her students just "got it" right away, there would be no challenge and she wouldn't perfect her teaching skills.

Your skills in this world get perfected, you are able to deal with people who are different than you, when things are a little difficult - not when things are smooth! Because easy times don't cause any changes on your part! It's the hardships that make you notice that you have to change certain things about yourself and the way you relate to others!

And there's still more to say...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Understanding Pain - Part 1

The following question was submitted anonymously using the form on the right.

When trying to help a loved one in a time of nisayon, its so easy for you to just say "it's from Hashem". But when you are the one going through a nisayon, knowing its all from Hashem doesn't make you feel any better. Although you know its from Hashem, the next world seems so far off and you can't imagine why He is putting you through this. What can help you, in your moment of pain, realize that everything is really for the best?

This is a really important question. Sometimes, it's so much easier to give other people chizuk when they are going through hard times. To tell them that "it's all from Hashem and it's for the best". But when it comes to your own personal trials and tests it's not so easy. All of a sudden it hits you and you say "Why? Why Hashem are you doing this to me??"

I once heard someone say that a person should not have emunah for someone else. When someone you know is going through a difficult time, you should not be saying, "don't worry it's all gonna work out in the end." No! You should be doing all you can to help them out as if they depend on YOU only for the thing they need! You shouldn't say, "Hashem will send you your shidduch/the job you need/the friends you need..." You should go out there and try your best to do whatever you can to help them out! Don't have emunah for them that it's gonna work out - YOU do what YOU can to make it happen! And if you can't do anything to help them (You don't know any potential candidates/you don't have the right connections to help them find a job...) then you should daven your heart out to Hashem to bring them their yeshuah.

But when it comes to your own nisyonos, your own tests, that's when you need to strengthen your emunah that everything comes from Him. So what should you think? What should you tell yourself to help pull you through?

Everyone has hardships. Know that you are not the only one. People may look like everything is going well on the outside but each and every person is experiencing challenges and every person needs to strengthen their trust in Hashem.

It says Es asher ye'ehav yochi'ach - Hashem sends challenges to those that He loves. Know that if Hashem is putting you through a hard time it's because HE LOVES YOU!! He wants to connect to you and He wants you to turn to Him. So when things are going fine and dandy it's easy to forget about Hashem. But when things don't go the way you want them to, that's when all of a sudden you remember, "Hey! Hashem is the One that runs my life! He's the One who made this happen. I should really turn to Him and ask Him to get me out of this."

It's like the classic father-son mashal. (Imagine the days before cell phones for a minute.)
The son is away at college and gets a monthly allowance along with a letter from his father updating him on what's going on in the family. The son cashes the check and spends the money. He doesn't write home to tell his father how he's doing. He's too busy studying and spending time with his friends.
But the father misses his son. He wants to hear from him. So one month he sends the letter without a check.
The son feels silly writing a letter asking the father for money without saying anything else. So he writes a letter telling his father how he's doing and updates him on how his studies are going. And he ends of the letter with a "by the way...did you forget to send the check this month?"
This is what his father was waiting for! He wanted to hear from his son because he missed him!! The son could think, Why did my father hold back the money from me? Doesn't he know I need it? Doesn't he love me?
But that's precisely why he didn't send the money - BECAUSE he wanted to hear from his son!!

And it's the same with us and Hashem - sometimes He may hold something back from you or puts you through certain situations just to get you to turn to Him. He loves you and misses hearing from you! He misses that close connection and so He reminds you that He's here - close by - just turn to ME because I'm the only One who can help you!!

To be continued...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Echo Called Life

A man and his son were walking in the forest.

Suddenly the boy trips and feeling a sharp pain he screams, "Ahhhhh." Surprised, he hears a voice coming from the mountain, "Ahhhhh!"

Filled with curiosity, he screams: "Who are you?", but the only answer he receives is: "Who are you?"

This makes him angry, so he screams: "You are a coward!", and the voice answers: "You are a coward!"

He looks at his father, asking, "Dad, what is going on?"

"Son," the man replies, "pay attention!"

Then he screams, "I admire you!" The voice answers: "I admire you!"

The father shouts, "You are wonderful!", and the voice answers: "You are wonderful!"

The boy is surprised, but still can't understand what is going on. Then the father explains, "People call this 'ECHO', but truly it is 'LIFE!'

Life always gives you back what you give out!

Life is a mirror of your actions.

If you want more love, give more love!

If you want more kindness, give more kindness!

If you want understanding and respect, give understanding and respect!

If you want people to be patient and respectful to you, give patience and respect!

This rule of nature applies to every aspect of our lives.

Life always gives you back what you give out.

Your life is not a coincidence, but a mirror of your own doings.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Prayer - A Poem

I woke up early one morning,

And rushed right into the day,

I had so much to accomplish,

That I didn't take time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me,

And heavier came each task,

"Why doesn't' Hashem help me?" I wondered,

He answered, "You didn't ask!"

I wanted to see joy and beauty,

But the day toiled on gray and bleak,

I wondered why Hashem didn't show me,

He said, "But you didn't seek."

I tried to come into Hashem's presence,

I used all my keys at the lock,

Hashem gently and lovingly chided

"My child, you didn't knock!"

I woke up early this morning,

And paused before entering the day,

I had so much to accomplish,

That I had to take time to pray.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Did You Dance Today?

Rabbi G. Kosovar, a well-known elementary school principal in Yerushalayim, went with a delegation of principals to visit Beit Chinuch Ivrim, a school for the blind in Jerusalem.

A young man of about 16 years old, came over and felt Rav Kosovar's head and then face, and asked him "You are a rabbi, true?"

"True." Agreed the Rav.

"Tell me" demanded the boy, "Rabbi, have you danced today?"

Now this was getting confusing. "Danced?" Rav Kosovar asked him. "It's 10:00 in the morning, where might I have danced?"

The bachur responded with great feeling, "You opened your eyes this morning and saw the world around you... I would give my life to see the world before I turn seventeen! I've never seen anything, ever, since the day I was born. And you opened your eyes today, seeing, and you didn't dance!!?"

When we lift our siddurim, and see the holy letters before our eyes and say the bracha in birchos hashachar of "Baruch Ata...pokeyach ivrim", let us think for even the briefest moment how it all could have been different...praise Hashem, and let your heart dance!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

How One Word Changed My Life

Over ten years ago I decided to quit my job and go travelling around the world. Just before I went on my travels I flew to visit my cousin in Tel Aviv. On the flight back to London I was asked if I minded moving seats as a married couple wanted to sit together. I obliged and they moved me to a seat next to a very religious looking man. Even though I had spent a week in Tel Aviv I had not met any Jews as religious as this man appeared to be.

Having gone to a non-Jewish school; brought up in a non observant home, I had never spoken to a religious Jew before, and thought he looked completely antiquated. After a few moments the man looked up at me, smiled, said HELLO and introduced himself. The thought going through my mind was what does this man want from me? We could not been more different in appearance, he with a long beard, white shirt and black suit and I with long hair in a pony tail wearing jeans. However despite all of our external differences I really warmed to him and we ended up talking for the entire journey.

At the end of the flight he asked me for my phone number so he could stay in contact with me. Although I was suspicious of his intentions I gave him my number all the same, as I reasoned that I could always avoid his call if need be.

I spent the next seven months traveling the world and did not think of him once. At the end of my trip I decided that I really missed my friends and family and decided to surprise them and come home a week early. My family all ate lunch together to celebrate my safe return and just as we were finishing our meal the phone rang. My father picked up the phone and passed the handset to me. I was in shock...It was the Rabbi I met on the plane. How did he know I was home? What did he want?

We spoke briefly and we agreed that we would stay in contact. For the next few years the Rabbi phoned me from time to time. I ended up calling him my guardian Angel as he always called me when I was facing something challenging. He was always pleasant and never judgmental.

One time he told me that he was flying to London and I decided to meet him at the airport. This ended up being a common occurrence and once or twice a year I would meet him for a chat at various airports. On one occasion he flew into Gatwick and was planning to go to Newcastle to visit his poorly father. I collected him and decided that we would do a road trip together.

During the journey we talked at length and when we finally arrived in Gateshead at about 2am we decided to stay at his parent’s house. As we entered the house I could not get over the huge quantity of books lining the walls. Who was his father? I left the following morning and drove back home mulling over my experience. Several weeks later I received a call from the Rabbi saying that his father had passed away. He told me that although his father was going to be buried in Israel there would be a something happening in Stamford Hill. I had never been to Stamford Hill before, and I stuck out like a sore thumb.

Over the next few weeks I saw numerous newspaper articles about the death of his father, I even saw a photo of a sea of black hats with a little red Yamulke in the midst, which I recognized as my own.

Unfortunately I never met my Rabbi’s father, the late Gateshead Rov, Rabbi Betzalel Rakow, but I know that he must have been a great man, to have a son like my Rabbi.

Over the years that followed I became slowly more religious, and now thank G-d I am married to a wonderful woman, have three beautiful children and live a religious life. Words cannot express how grateful I am that I met my Rabbi, whose kind words and determination to stay in contact with me completely turned my life around.

One can never know the long lasting effects even for many generations to come of just saying hello and a few kind words to a stranger.
Try it! All it takes is ONE WORD to make a person feel good!

Just One Word is a project of The Lite House. Do you have a story where a good word changed your life? Email it to thelitehouse1 [at]

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On My Birthday

Today, Vav Shevat is my hebrew birthday. There is so much to think about on my birthday and so much to be thankful for. I look back at how much has happened this past year and I'm amazed and in awe at how much can change in a person's life.

I was blessed with another daughter who is so precious. I can look at her for hours and see the Hashem through her - how such a tiny human being has a perfectly working body, a heart pumping blood through her veins, a digestive system that works just right, eyes that blink every few seconds. It is so incredible how something so little has a body that works the same way as an adult!

A birthday is a time for me to notice how much I have and thank Hashem for it. It is also a time to try to commit myself to become better, to change in one area so that next year I can look back and be happy with what I see.

When I was in seminary in Eretz Yisroel, my birthday came out on shabbos. I made sure to stay somewhere within walking distance to the Kosel and was able to say the whole
tehillim. Now I'm not able to even think about such a huge feat because baruch Hashem I am busy with my children. But I know that this is my job right now - this is my tehillim and thanks to Hashem! Taking care of them and watching over my children, Hashem's children - that's my priority. My job is not to lock myself in a room and daven for an hour. Hashem gives each person a role and right now I am meant to be taking care of my children. Iy"h when I become a grandmother and have free time during the day, I will once again be able to daven and say tehillim on my birthday.

The role of a mother is so important - she will raise her children to be the next generation of people to follow the torah and do the mitzvos. What can be more crucial than that?! She has to fill her childrens' hearts with love for Hashem and love for Judaism. Davening then becomes a conversation with Hashem throughout the day, instead of taking out a siddur at a specific time each day.

I know that many people give brachos on their birthday. I don't know if I can say it better than I did last year - the bracha was so overflowing that when I reread it just a few minutes ago I thought I cannot redo it because there's so much in there. So here's a link to
last year's bracha and may it come true for all of you!

Monday, January 10, 2011

You Have Value - a Video

If you cannot watch youtube videos, you can click here to view this video on the original website.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Man Is a Tree

Now that we are in the month of Shevat, here is a great article from aish comparing man to a tree with a little more depth.

Enjoy it!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rosh Chodesh Shevat

Today is Rosh Chodesh Shevat - the first day of the month. There is a lot to learn from the fact that every month we celebrate Rosh Chodesh. It is a message to all of us that there is always a chance for renewal. No matter what happened last month, this month is starting anew and you can start again.

The phases of the moon give us this message. The moon starts out very small and then gets bigger and bigger towards the middle of the month and then it gets small again. This is the story of the Jewish People. We started out small, then at some points in our history we got bigger, expanded, were successful and then again we got small. We experienced pain, persecution, embarrassment as a Nation but there was always a chance for us to shine. No matter how many times we were hurt in our history, we were never and will never be fully annihilated. Just like the moon, which at times is so small you can barely see it, but yet it's always there and will always shine, the Jewish Nation will always survive, even if it seems like they are almost extinct. Hashem promised us that we will endure forever.

And each person can take this message to heart - just like the moon expands and grows, even when it seems like it's so tiny and has no chance, every person has a chance to grow and change, even if it seems like there is no hope.

This month specifically, the month of Shevat has special significance to a person's growth. It is the month that is Rosh Hashana L'ilanos - the Rosh Hashana for the trees. It is the month where Hashem decides how the trees will grow and blossom. Some people have a custom to daven for a good esrog (for the following Succos)now for this reason.

Ki Ha'adam Eitz Hasadeh - a person is compared to a tree. There are many explanations for this comparison. One way to explain it is that just like a tree needs water to thrive and grow, a person needs Torah, which is compared to water, to be able to grow spiritually.

Torah is compared to water for a few reasons. Firstly, just as water is cleansing, the words of the Torah are purifying. Also, water is something anybody can drink and appreciate. It's not like wine where you have a certain status or class and that is how you can come to really enjoy that drink. It's the same with Torah - anybody can learn it and a person should never think, "I'm too little to learn this." A person should never be embarrassed to learn from someone else. Everybody has what to learn and share when it comes to Torah!

Just like water quenches the thirst of a person and leaves them feeling refreshed and energized, when one learns Torah or hears an inspiring thought, they feel like their thirst has been quenched! They feel refreshed, they feel energized! Torah has the power to give a person a new and exciting feeling about whatever they have just heard!

Torah is our lifeline - without it we would not be able to survive. It is the Torah that has kept us alive throughout the generations. By holding on strong to the Torah and keeping the mitzvos, we were able to continue to exist no matter what we went through.

Logically and statistically, it doesn't make sense that the Jewish Nation is still around. So many people have tried to destroy us yet they were never successful. How can that be? It is because Hashem promised to us that He will never let us be totally wiped out. And since we held on strong to the Torah and mitzvos even in the hardest times, we are still around to tell our story.

There's a famous quote from Mark Twain about the Jews and he questions: what is their secret?!

The Torah is our secret!

A gutten chodesh! May this month be one of spiritual growth and may you appreciate the Torah as the greatest gift Hashem has given us!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why Do I Feel Alone Sometimes....

This was posted by Chaya Sara last year but has such a good message, I wanted to post it again.

Written by: Y.Roitenbarg

Rivka and Sara embraced each other enthusiastically when they met unexpectedly in Mexico. Both were far from their homes and families. Rivka was in Mexico on a business trip and Sara had come to visit her grandmother, who was ill. Onlookers who witnessed their joyful meeting assumed they were long lost-friends who had just reunited after many years.

They did not know that Rivka and Sara both live in the same town back in United States, and see each other around town often. However, back home, they hardly have time to greet each other or have lengthy conversations. Since they are busy with their own lives and different circle of friends.

They are not enemies, and they are not best friends; they are simply two people living busy lives, by chance-in the same town.
Interestingly, when Rivka and Sara found themselves far from home, both strangers on foreign ground, they greeted each other warmly. Here, they openly displayed their affection for each other.I n Mexico,where they both felt so alone, they recognized each other and felt so good that at least one familiar face around. They felt so much closer to each other because no one else knew them!! (It feels sooo good to go somewhere and actually know someone when you don't know anyone in the crowd!!)

The above analogy illustrates an often forgotten principal. We have an open invitation to bring Hashem into our lives, but when we are on "home ground",settled and comfortable in our daily routine, we hardly ever take the time to truly 'greet' Hashem and get to know him.
Hashem knows how to attract our attention. He knows if he singles us out and puts us to the test and bring us to 'foreign ground',we will feel alone and isolated. He knows too,that we will then turn to him,and embrace him like a long lost friend.
We will turn to him with all our emotions, and say please Hashem only you can help me!!!
The next time you feel alone, lost, and forlorn; remember you are alone with Hashem. Open your heart and embrace Hashem, and He will be there for you.

Sometimes Hashem really wants to hear from us and really wants to get close to us because it will make us the happiest. So Hashem moves us to a place where we feel like Help!! I'm so Alone I don't know what to do!! And then we just cry out to him with all our hearts and then we are zoche to see him right there waiting for us with open arms!!! he just needed you to notice him! when everything is fine why will you call out to Hashem only when things get crazy we wake up!!

If you have an alarm clock only if it rings will you wake up otherwise you'll just hang out in bed as long as you can!! As soon as someone comes with a cup of water (just kidding) you jump out of bed!! so too, Hashem does not want us sleeping out potential away so he makes us go through something where only he can help you and if you fill up your cup of zechusim with mitzvos you will be zoche to never feel alone!!!!!! Because he will be there for you every step of the way!!