Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why Do Little Children Suffer?

Q: I understand that the reason that there is pain and suffering on this world is so that we can have kapparah on our aveiros. If that's the case, why do little children and babies have suffering?

A: I was once talking to a friend about this very concept. I came to the following conclusion: yes, we have to go through pain in our lives - because they erase our aveiros and make us into better people. However, at what point in a person's life should they begin to experience pain? And at what degree of discomfort should the painful experience be? Is 9 years old a good time to start? Maybe wait til a person is a little older...until they're 12 years old. But no. That's not how it works. A baby cries to show that s/he is uncomfortable. Hashem knows that in order for us to be able to tolerate and live through pain, He has to start us young - from the very beginning of our lives. Then, when things get harder, more painful, we are able to go through it and it's not like it's the first time we were ever exposed to something that hurts.

To a baby it might be hunger. To a toddler it might be a bump or a bruise. To a child it may be a bigger cut or scrape. A teenager or an adult that gets sick with a sore throat is in pain. Someone breaks their leg, it hurts. That's physical pain.

Then there's emotional pain. To a baby it can be when his mother leaves him with a babysitter - he feels the pain of separation. To a toddler it hurts when someone takes their toys away or doesn't share with them. A first grader might cry when she realizes she left her lunch at home - she feels forgotten. And as a person gets older, there are bigger things that hurt.

Remember that to each person, their painful experience is HUGE. It is their whole life! Whether it's the girl who left her snack at home or the student who didn't do well on her test - it feels just as major to her as the one who failed her road test and the girl who was rejected from the high school/seminary of her choice. It hurts them just as strongly as the potential employee who was told "no" by his prospective boss and the girl who got a "no" from a guy she was dating.

When it comes to feeling with other peoples pain, keep this in mind - don't belittle the pain other people are going through because to them this is their world. This is their life. The pain you are going through may seem greater and it hurts you so strongly but that doesn't take away from the fact that someone else is in pain. So feel with them, listen to them and be there for them - it will help them feel so much better!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Worshipping the Sun?!

Here's a really good answer to a question asked to R' Avigdor Miller zt"l.

Why does the Torah say other gods, instead of false gods, elohim acherim?

The Torah many times says Elilim. The word Elilim comes from the word Al which means nothing, they're nothing gods. But the most important point is, to realize that all the powers of the world are in the hand of the King,
Hashem Melech; and elohim acherim means other powers. So even though a person believes in a Borai, at the same time he wants to show respect to the sun. Now you cannot say it’s a false sun. Very important function in the world that the sun performs. The sun is true. As a power it’s also true, the sun is a power. But other powers should be understood as subject only to the King who rules all the powers, and that's why you cannot say everything is false.

People worship the moon, the moon is a power; it has a big influence on the world. Winds, soil, rivers, are powers, they're not false, they're true, only Hakadosh Baruch Hu is the one who controls all the functions of all the powers in the world. That's why they’re called elohim acherim, other powers, not false powers. It's only false in the sense of worshiping them, but we have to know, the original avodah zara was to believe in Hashem. The original idolaters all believed in Hashem, only they said He delegated His powers to various underlings. The sun is one of His agents.

That seems at first sight to be a Kosher'e idea; but no. Anybody who will show obeisance to the sun, to show respect to the sun, is making an error of avodah zara. The sun is nothing but a shamosh, that's why they called it the shemesh, it's a shamosh, a servant to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Osim B'ayma Retzon Konom, they do with fear the will of their creator, they have no choice of their own. And that's why in the days of the Bayis Rishon when there were some backsliders who worshiped idols, it wasn't a case of a meshumad or assimilationist who changed his religion, or forsook Hashem. No, they believed in Hashem and yet they thought that by worshiping these powers, they're going to get a certain benefit as a result.

That's avodah zara, they're put to death for that, and nevertheless some were very frum in their loyalty to Hashem. Today it seems to us ridiculous because it's out of style, but in the days when the whole world worshiped idols it was very difficult to resist it. And therefore people who were loyal to Hashem stumbled and fell into this snare of the deception of avodah zara.

To subscribe to the emails that are sent out once a week with answers to the questions asked to R' Avigdor Miller zt"l, click on
this link.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pain - Questions and Answers

The following two questions were submitted anonymously using the form on the right. (I usually do not post more than once a day, but the first question was just asked and must be answered immediately and so I'm posting this now and not waiting until tomorrow.)

Q: If one has a close friend and knows something that this friend is doing that is abusive to herself but has promised not to tell and is afraid of what might happen what should one do?

A: Your friend is lucky to have you in her life - someone who really cares about her. The fact that she told you that she is hurting herself is a message for you that she is screaming for help. She is in pain and needs someone to jump into her life and help her out immediately. Although it is hard for you, you must tell someone who can help her.

Your friend might get upset at you for telling someone. But as a good friend, this is your obligation. You want the best for her. The fact that she is hurting herself is a sign that she is in much deeper pain - she is hurting herself physically to cover up for the emotional pain she is in. She must be going through a lot and needs you to do something for her. So even though you promised not to tell, you need to, you must tell someone so that she can get the help she so desperately needs.

Know that even if she gets upset with you now, one day she will thank you for helping her get out of the mess she is in right now.

Wishing you lots of hatzlacha in helping out your friend!


Q: I recently heard a rabbi speak. When he was speaking, he said that whatever challenges Hashem brings we should be happy. Why should I be happy? Why isn't accepting it good enough? For example, I have a brother with special needs and why should I be happy? Of course I learnt to accept it. During the holocaust were the Jews happy being sent off to gas chambers? Were they suppose to be happy?

A: Wow. It must be quite a challenge for you to have a brother with special needs. But I want you to know that you can be happy even though you are going through pain. How? By focusing on what you do have. I cannot speak for those who went through the holocaust - their challenge was too great for me to fathom. I can speak for people in our generation who are going through big and hard tests. Even though Hashem makes us go through difficulties, a person can still be happy by thinking about and thanking Hashem for the good things He DOES have!

When you visit a doctor for the first time, you are asked to fill out a paper. One section lists a whole bunch of sicknesses and you have to check off if you were ever diagnosed with any of them. For example: Allergies, Altzheimers, Bipolar Disorder, Cancer, Diabetes...and it's a long list. If you can say that you were never diagnosed with even ONE of these things, you have many reasons to be thankful!

When you focus on the good things you have in your life, you can be happy. Every person has challenges. But those tests you go through should not pull you down and make you depressed, instead, realize how much you have to be grateful for and thank Hashem for that!

Here's just one post I wrote a while back on appreciating your eyesight. There are so many things that work right in your body, each one deserves a post on its own! For now, concentrate on the things in your life that are good, that are a blessing and you will be able to find the strength within yourself to be positive and happy!


This is the hope of every Jewish mother - to have good children. Every Friday night, she lights candles, covers her eyes and davens for her children, the future of Klal Yisroel.

This beautiful and touching video highlights the different stages in a child's life. This is what every mother davens for - that her children should live a happy and fulfilling life.

וְזַכֵּנִי לְגַדֵּל בָּנִים וּבְנֵי בָנִים חֲכָמִים וּנְבוֹנִים, אוֹהֲבֵי ה', יִרְאֵי אֶלֺקִים, אַנְשֵׁי אֱמֶת, זֶרַע קֺדֶשׁ, בַּה' דּבֵקִים ,וּמְאִירִים אֶת הָעוֹלָם בַּתּוֹרָה וּבְמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים, וּבְכָל מְלֶאכֶת עֲבוֹדַת הַבּוֹרֵא

Just a thought - every erev shabbos, your mother davens for you to be the best child possible. She wants only good things to come from you and wishes all the brachos in the world to be showered upon you. So the next time you are about doing something you shouldn't, reading or watching something that really isn't good for your neshama, stop for a moment and think about your mother's tefillos. Think about her hopes and dreams for you. Is this something she would want you to be doing? watching? reading? seeing?

Every parent wants their child to be good. What does good mean? This song tells us what is truly important - they should be smart, they should love and fear Hashem, be honest, holy, connect to Hashem (devek is the hebrew word for glue), and they should light up the world with Torah, good deeds and mitzvos.

THIS is what is important in life. Not looks, not money - but actions and middos! When children use the talents they were given to help others, that is what each parent davens for!

Think - are you acting in a way that is a fulfillment of your mother's tefillos for you?!

Daven for your (future) children - every tefillah counts!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Understanding Pain - Part 3

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 and Part 2 of the answer.


The truth is, the next world is not that far off at all! It's just that all too often we are so preoccupied with other things to give it a moment of our time. We don't think about it much. How many times during this past week have you thought about the fact that you are not here forever and there will come a time when you will stand before Hashem and He will judge you for everything you did in this world? I haven't really thought about it much until I read your email with your question.

But this can change. It's not that hard to think about it just for a few seconds. Think about someone who is not in this world anymore. Everyone knows someone who passed away recently - and if you are lucky enough not to know anybody close to you, think about my brother Shalom a"h for just a moment. He passed away just two weeks before his 16th birthday. Nobody is here forever and nobody knows how long they will live. When you take note of the fact that sometimes Hashem decides that it's best for a specific person to live a shorter than usual life (shorter than what we think is usual), it's a reminder that you should take advantage of the time you have in this world and use it to the fullest.

When a person stands before Hashem in the next world, he will see that so much good came from the fact that they went through painful times down here. Yissurim, pain, erases a person's aveiros, their sins. It's a known fact. When a person goes through hardships, their aveiros are literally erased! Imagine what a gift that is! Hashem is giving you a chance to get rid of some of the things you did by giving you something difficult right now!

Of course it's hard. Of course it hurts. But that's the point. If it would be easy it wouldn't be painful. And we may not have grown the same way.

The Jewish Nation is compared to an olive because when you squeeze it, the best oil comes out. The same way, when we, the Jewish People, are "squeezed" - when we go through hardships, the best comes out - one starts to see how great a Jew is when they are in pain! A person can reach great levels of closeness and connection to Hashem when things are hard for them. This is the reality of life.

There is a story told about someone who had a very hard life. He went to a rebbe to ask him for a bracha so that things should get better. While he was waiting in the waiting room to be seen, he fell asleep and had a dream. In his dream he saw himself in the heavenly courts awaiting judgement. The malachim started bringing all his mitzvos, all the good things he had done in his life, onto a scale. Wow, they were piling really high. Inviting guests with a smile, honoring his parents, keeping shabbos properly, learning torah - he really did a lot with his life.

But then they started bringing the aveiros to the scale. Brachos without proper concentration, embarrasing someone in public, looking at the wrong things, speaking negatively about other people. Woah. He had done many sins in his life.

Slowly, the scale started to tip towards the dark side. There were lots and lots of things he did throughout his lifetime, things he didn't even remember he had done, that he was now going to have to pay for.

Then, something interesting happened. Another malach came along and started to add the yessurim, the painful things he had gone through in his life, to the mitzvos side - and slowly, the scale started to shift. The weight on the good side was going up...up...up...

The man started to shout, "BRING MORE, BRING MORE!! I WANT MORE PAIN!!"

And then he woke up.

He woke up to hear his own voice shouting, screaming, asking for more pain in his life! He realized that in the next world, it becomes clear that pain is actually a good thing!! It serves as a tool to erase our aveiros - literally!

Think about this next time something happens that is hard for you - and let this message seep into your bones. That pain, although it hurts, is good for you. It erases your aveiros in the best way possible for you - and it's given to you by your Loving Father to make you into a better person.

May Hashem bless you with the ability to accept the tests He has given you and use them as stepping stones for growth to the highest level possible!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Letter - Tefillah

Someone emailed this to me - she wrote this for a tefillah class and I'm posting it here with her permission.

On his deathbed, a father wrote this letter to his son.

Dear child,

I know you are suffering and in pain. I know you miss me and things are hard. I am enclosing a name and number of someone who can help you with all your problems.

I have someone who will help you learn. He has all the tools to help you get 100 on every test. He is never to busy and you can call him at all hours.

This someone has all the money in the world; so don’t feel bad to ask.

This someone has the power to grant your every request big or small.

Just call out to this “Someone”.

I’m going to give you this someone’s address and phone number so you can reach him.

Actually, you can dial any number to reach him and his line is never busy. His address is everywhere; you don’t have to search. He’s with you at all times throughout your day, and is watching you even as you are reading this letter.

Just know He is your father and call out to him. As I’ve said, His line is never busy. They call this someone Hashem, He created the whole world and surely He can help you.




Make a connection. The more you talk to Him the more He’ll help you.

I love you.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

When Saying Shema

I posted this once before but I think it's something we can all use a reminder for since we say Shema every day.

Here's a really good answer to a question asked to R' Avigdor Miller zt"l.

If you would like to get more emails like these, they are sent out once a week. You can subscribe by clicking on this link.


When saying S'hma Yisroel, what should you think about?


First thing is, Kavana P'shuta, you have to know the translation of the words and think the translation. But I will give you a good suggestion. Every day you can put in another Peirush in that. S'hma Yisroel Hashem Elokainu Hashem Echod, Echod means He is One. What does One mean? That if you will travel to the North Pole, there Hashem is too. If you travel to the South Pole, He is there too, and in between by the way. Not only is He there, he is in between too. You go all the way to the West, or to the East, wherever you go, you will find Hashem. So if you travel to Tokyo, and you are all by yourself in a hotel, and you have a lot of money to spend, and a lot of leisure, know that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is looking at you. You have to behave. You behave. If you go all the way to Hungary, in a hotel in the mountains, you have a lot of money. Behave, because Hakadosh Baruh Hu is looking at you. If you are in the North Pole all by yourself. Behave, Hashem is looking at you. And if temptations come, then you have to behave like He is on the spot, which He is. So every day think at least this thought. Mizrach, Maariv, Tzafon, Darom, Maaloh, Umatah, He is One everywhere. Now you do this for homework one day, the next day think like this.

Hashem Echod
, Hashem is One, there is only one interest in our lives. We have a lot of interests, but He is the One interest. So when I go to work, it's only of Hashem that I am thinking. When I get married, only for Hashem. When I am raising children, only for Hashem. When I eat, only for Hashem. Even when I Daven, I am davening for Hashem, remember that to, it's a good idea, by the way. And so, Echod means, in all the things I do in this world, He is the only interest I have.

The next day, think
Hashem Echod it means, Hakadosh Baruch Hu is in this world, Ata Hu B'olam Hazeh, V'ata Hu B'olam Haba. Hakadosh Baruch Hu is in both worlds. So beware of Him in this world, and fulfill His mitzvos, because in the next world we will be together with Him too. You can not take a dive off the Empire State building and get rid of Him. No. "Im Esak Shamayim Sham Ata" (Tehillim) if I will go up to the Heavens, Dovid said, there You are. If I will go down to the depths of the sea, there You are. Everyday you can add another kavana if you want, in Echod.

Another Peirush you can say in Echod means. You are the only One that exists, nobody else exists, it's all imagination. NOBODY EXISTS in this world. Nothing exists, no sun. Hakadosh Baruch Hu imagined the sun, and it came into being. If He would withdraw His imagination, there wouldn't be any sun. When you look at the sun, or the moon, you are not seeing anything. You are seeing only the D'var Hashem, B'dvar Hashem Shamayim Nasu, its only His word that you see. When He said "Yehi", let it be, U'vruach Piv Kol Tzvam, L'olam Devarcha Nitzav Bashamayim, Your word is standing in the Heavens. That's all you see, the word of Hashem. There are no trees, no people, no houses, nothing. There is only Hashem. He is the only One that has real being, like the Rambam says in the beginning of Hilchos of Yesodai Hatorah. Hashem Elokim Emes, He is the only true being. Hu Levado Emes, He is the only One that is true. All the rest in the world is not real, it's only imagination. That's a meaning of Echod.

So I gave you a few things to think about. When you finish with them see me for further homework.

Monday, February 14, 2011


This was posted once before but it's a good one and I wanted to put it up here once more so you can gain from it.

"Worrying is like a rocking chair, it keeps you going but gets you nowhere."

I was thinking about this when I was worrying about something. I kept thinking, "what if this happens?!" and "what if that happens?!" and then I said to myself, "You know, there are so many things that could go wrong but don't and all you have to do is put your trust in Hashem. Hashem loves you and only has the best things in mind for you. All you have to do is believe in Him."

I had to keep thinking these thoughts and reminding myself that I am totally in Hashem's hands. Hashem loves me and wants to keep me happy so why should I worry so much? And besides, it's true that worrying won't accomplish anything productive at all! All it does is make you nervous. And that wont really get you very far!!

So why do I worry so much? I think it's because I need to strengthen my emunah in Hashem. Because if I really trusted that Hashem only wants to make me happy and only wants to do good for me, I wouldn't worry so much. In fact, I wouldn't worry at all!! Now, it's easy to say that I shouldn't worry at all, but there are things on my mind and I do think about the things that could go wrong in my day, in my week ahead and in the month that is coming along. But no! Hashem does not want us to spend our time worrying and thinking negative thoughts. He wants us to think positive and trust in Him. Thinking positive is very productive because then you want to follow your thoughts.

It's like this: If I wake up in the morning thinking, "Oh no! It's raining outside! It's gonna be a horrible day..." then, yes, chances are that my day wont turn out so nicely. But if I wake up that same morning and say, "Modeh Ani! Thank you Hashem that I am alive and healthy! Hey! It's raining outside! I'll take an umbrella and I'll be fine." The rain didn't go away but my attitude is what will make all the difference!

So next time you have thoughts that make you nervous, think about the rocking chair, it just moves back and forth, back and forth...but doesn't get you anywhere! That's what worrying is like, it keeps you thinking those same, "what if" thoughts again and again but you end up in the same place, without moving at all!

Read the comments on it too. Last time I posted it some questions were answered there!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Giving From the Heart

He almost didn't see the old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her.

Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn't look safe; he looked poor and hungry.

He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you.

He said, "I'm here to help you, ma'am. Why don't you wait in the car where it's warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson."

Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt.

As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn't thank him enough for coming to her aid.

Bryan just smiled as he closed her trunk. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way.

He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance they needed, and Bryan added, "And think of me."

He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight.

A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn't erase. The lady noticed the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan.

After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a hundred dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get change for her hundred dollar bill, but the old lady had slipped right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin. There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote: "You don't owe me anything. I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I'm helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you - Do not let this chain of love end with you."

Under the napkin were four more $100 bills.

Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard.

She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, "Everything's gonna be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson."

What a powerful story indeed. As the old saying goes “What goes around comes around”

As I sat there, thinking of the giving and receiving story, I realized that the concept is so easy and simple to follow. What I have to do is to open my eyes wider and seek for opportunities where I can be of help to someone, anyone today. Be it a kind word, or just merely a smile; a pat on the shoulder or just simply a phone call. I want to be Bryan Anderson. I really do. Now, let me ask you a question: Don't you want to be one too?

Thank you Shaina R. for emailing this story to me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine's Day, Every Day

Here's a great video from aish called Valentine's Day, Every Day.

I'm not sure why but this video is not showing up in Google Reader. Come directly to the blog to watch it. Trust me, it's worth it!

It gives across such an important message! Why should we have ONE DAY a year to express our love for the people who are important to us? Shouldn't we do that every day?

Every day, we thank Hashem for all the things He gives us - from big to small. In shemona esrei, we thank Him for things that seem so basic, almost like they're a given. I once read that when you thank Hashem for giving you knowledge (in the bracha of ata chonen l'adam da'as), you should thank Hashem for the fact that you remember your own name and where you live! Who would even think of that - it seems like, of course I should remember where I live and what my name is! But no! It's not a given, it's a gift!! And you have to constantly thank the One who gave it to you!

In the birchos hashachar, we thank Hashem for our eyesight (pokei'ach ivrim), clothing (malbish arumim), waking us up in the morning (matir asurim). Thanking Him for little things are really important - because they are not so little after all! There is no one day in the calendar to express our appreciation to Him for all the things He gave and continues to give to us; we utilize every day, every tefillah to thank Him for what we have!

And it's the same thing with human relationships. If there's a special one day a year to express our love for the people that mean the most to us, what about the rest of the year?! It's important to show our appreciation to our parents, spouse, children and friends all the time! By telling them thank you for the little things they do - which really are not so little (do you know what it takes to have supper ready for the family? Or to keep the house clean? or to think of that perfectly thoughtful birthday present?), you are showing them that they are important in your life and they mean a lot to you!

Expressing appreciation to those who are closest to you does not have to be exclusive to one day in the calendar. Celebrate Valentine's Day every day!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Daddy Dear

Here's a beautiful video - now listen to the words of the song...the sound of the boys high pitched voice make it so much more touching!!

Here are the words of the song, Daddy Dear.

Daddy dear, tell me please
Is it true what they say
In the heavens there's a cup
That gets fuller each day
And I've heard that Hashem
Keeps it close nearby
And He fills it with His tears
Each time that we cry

Zeidy told me, Daddy dear
Did he tell you the same
That when sorrow strikes His people
Hashem feels all the pain
Tell me why does He cry
Far away in the sky
Tell me why, Daddy dear
Are there tears in your eyes

Little one, little one
It is true, yes it's true
Zeidy told me years ago
And his dad told him too
Fathers cry for their children
And Hashem does the same
When we hurt, so does He
Yes he feels our pain

Tears of pity from His eyes
In his cup sadly flow
Till one day when it's full
All out troubles will go
We will dance, we will fly
In the sky like the birds
And I cry, little one
'Cause I'm touched by your words

One more question, Daddy dear
Answer please if you will
Just how deep is this cup
Tell me when will it fill
Don't you think it is time
That the sun forever shine
Don't you think it is time
Dear Daddy of mine

Little one, it is time
And I've questioned that too
So Let us ask Him together
Together me and you
Father dear, do You hear
Our worries, our fears
Will your eyes ever dry
Is your cup filled with tears

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mitzvos-Even When We Don't Understand

I posted this a while ago and wanted to share it with you once more.

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!

Monday, February 7, 2011

What Do You Pray For?

Watch this video and think about the fact that Hashem runs the world and can give you anything! Every little detail of your life is planned by Him! So when something goes wrong or there's something you really want, ask Him for it!

Nothing is too big or too small for Him to do!
(Note: If you are reading this in google reader and it does not show up, please come directly to the blog to watch the video.)

I also think it's adorable to see what little kids ask for - the innocence of a little child, to know that you can ask G-d for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING - from making friends to (my favorite) owning Toys R Us!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Two Messengers - A Mashal

The Chofetz Chaim provides an astonishing mashal which we can and must each learn from.

A man of great wealth sent two different representatives to purchase precious stones for him to a far away land. To one, he gave 1,000 gold coins, and to the other he gave 100 gold coins. Both were sizable sums, but the greater amount was entrusted with the more responsible sh’liach.

The representatives went on their way together, proud of their assignment and determined to do well. Their spark and ambition began to give way towards their own personal needs, and they realized that they could ‘live a little’ by spending just a little bit of the money with which they had been entrusted. After all, they would be certainly be able to easily make up the money spent with some wise purchases at the end of their destination and they needed to take care of themselves today.

It wasn’t very long before the 1,000 gold coins became 200 in the hands of the first agent, and the 100 dwindled to 40 in the hands of the other. Both began to get a bit nervous, and their jitters suddenly exploded into a reciprocal ranting.

The more entrusted one yelled: “How can you compare yourself to me?! You have only 40 gold coins to your entire name and I have five times as much!!"

To which the lesser agent responded: “What an incredible fool you are! What are you boasting about! Those 200 gold coins are not yours, you are only a sh’liach who has been entrusted with the money to bring back gems. In fact, you are much, much poorer than me, for I spent 60 coins of our sender’s money but you squandered and owe him a whopping 800!! You are going to have a lot more of explaining to do! I don’t envy at all the shame and disgrace that you will face and the heavy price you are going to have to pay for your enormous derogation of responsibility!”


The nimshal is stark and clear. We here in this world are all sh’luchim, agents of Hashem from the higher worlds, entrusted with a mission to rectify and cleanse our souls - each in accordance with the level of wisdom and responsibility which Hashem has placed within us.

It would be ridiculous for a person to consider himself superior to his friend, or in any matter be haughty - for his wisdom, wealth or talent is not his - but was given to him for a special and dedicated purpose - his unique and singular mission in life.

A person must exercise great care to fulfill that mission with that which he has been equipped - for if one acts responsibly, it is truly a real and attainable goal. Along the route, one must be especially careful not to allow himself to be sidetracked with the wiles and guile of the Yetzer Hora-allowing this indulgence after that desire, this hankering after that immoderation - none of which disappear after ‘their use’ but instead continuously pile up into what can mount into an embarrassing and unexplainable heap and mess.

One must most certainly appreciate the hours that he has each day for Torah and Tefillah and not allow them to be squandered, unaccounted for, or spent away rather than serving their purpose. Each day, and the precious hours that it is comprised of, can go far in taking those gold coins one has received and fulfilling their entrusted mission - practically, meaningfully and successfully!

What an important message!

Taken from a recent Hakhel post.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What Are We Doing Wrong?!

Here's a question someone asked:

I just can't. I flip out when I hear stories lo aleinu like I'm hearing daily lately…young couples getting divorced, peoples parents dying, young people getting sick right and left…the list is endless and its almost so normal that it doesn't pull at anyone’s heartstrings anymore. But what is Klal Yisroel doing wrong? There must be a reason. I know we are supposed to always see the blessings Hashem gives and I do. He gave me an awesome life with tonz of blessing and strength to handle any hardship. So I know we have to look at all the good but all these messages are not meant for us to ignore. How can I also stop myself from thinking worried negative thoughts when I keep on hearing these tzaros of yidden?

Yes, your question is a real one. People are dealing with crazy amounts of pain these days. It's so hard to understand it all.

It doesn't mean that the entire nation is at fault. Of course every person that hears about a tzarah should take a message from it and see how they can change. But we are living in a time filled with pain - not because we are doing terrible things and Hashem wants to punish us. It's because we are so far away from Him - we are on a much lower level than the generations that came before us. And Hashem wants to be closer to us. He wants to be connected to us. So He sends us situations that make us turn to Him. He wants us to relate to Him on the closest possible level! How will that happen?

We are a generation that is blessed with so much good! Hashem has given us all the conveniences we could ever hope for! Washing machines, sinks that bring us water the second we turn the knob, refrigerators, freezers, cell phones, stores overloaded with so many choices of foods, drinks, snacks and treats...the list goes on and on. We have so many things that should make us turn to Hashem and thank Him. The very things that should make our lives stress free and give us MORE time to spend on spirituality and growth keep us so busy we don't even have an extra minute! We don't have to go down to the river to wash our clothes - we just pop them into the washing machine and some forty-five minutes later they come out sparkling clean. Then we just throw them into a dryer and another hour later everything is dry and ready to be folded and put away!

But instead of having more time to spend getting connected to Hashem, we are busier than ever. So how does Hashem remind us that He exists? By sending us pain. By telling us, "I love you. I want to connect to you. I want you to talk to me but you are too busy."

It's not that our generation is bad. It's that we are too busy with other things so we need more reminders. Hashem loves us all. He wants to hear from us. It's known that when things are hard it gets us to turn to Him.

If we were all to turn to Hashem and thank Him every time we hear good news, maybe He wouldn't have to send us so many painful situations to get us to connect to Him!

Also, when you hear that other people are going through hard times, it is a chance for you to daven to Hashem to beg Him to give them the strength to go through it and to help them come out of it stronger!!

I hope this helps you!

torah& mitzvos will bring the sunshine to the world of darkness:)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why is Everyone Running on Empty?

One of the great ironies of modern times is that man isn't happy. Throughout almost every strata of society and every segement what you find is that people seem to be down, stressed, pushed to the limits and running on empty.

If we were to describe our wealth to people of a different generation, they probably wouldn't believe us. Kings in prior times didn't enjoy the luxuries that we do. The reality is that we are wealthy beyond belief. We enjoy comforts and abundance that are historically unprecedented. And it's not just the extremely affluent. The average tax-paying citizen of today lives in opulence and splendor that previous generations couldn't dream about.

We Have Arrived - Are We Happy?

In short, we are wealthy beyond belief. We have riches that far, far exceed our needs. As a society, as a nation, and as individuals, we enjoy prosperity and abundance. We benefit from creature comforts that were unthinkable a generation ago. Everything is so readily available, so accessible, so easy. And so I have one question: now that we have so much, are we happy?

For centuries, all that man desired was freedom from tyranny and a homeland where he could enjoy liberty and safety. Armies went to war for it, entire generations sacrificed all that they had for it, and we now have it. We are there. We have finally arrived. Living in a free society with almost unlimited opportunity, we are easily able to find sustenance and enjoy unheard of wealth; we have it all. But are we happy? Now that we are there, is it all that we thought it was? Is this the dream that we were seeking? Are we any happier today than our ancestors in previous generations?

Drinking When You Are Thirsty

In a memoir written many years ago, a teenager describes what life was like for him growing up in the 1920's in the deep South. Hunger was a part of life; it was just a given. He got up in the morning hungry, and went to bed even hungrier. Often, he left home in the morning without eating breakfast, because there was no food in the house - literally nothing to eat.

One morning while walking to work, he passed a neighbor's house and noticed that the garden hose was left out. He turned on the spigot and began drinking and drinking until he filled his belly, hoping to stop the hunger pangs. It worked. His stomach no longer grumbled for food...till the water passed. Then he was left hungrier than before.

For many people, that is life. They feel emptiness inside, a longing for something. What it is they can't quite tell you, but it gives them no rest. They try to fill it with money and honor, possessions and luxuries, all the while hoping it will satisfy that void inside.

But it doesn't work. For a while they are distracted, for a moment their attention is diverted, but then the quiet time comes again, and they find themselves as empty as before. And the worst part is that for the life of them, they can't figure out why. "I have so much, yet I feel so poor! What's wrong with me? What's wrong with life?" The problem is that they are trying to fill their souls with things that sparkle and shine, but are as fleeting as fireworks on the fourth of July.

The neshamah within me isn't satisfied and can't be satisfied with anything so cheap, so she calls out for more. Instead of heeding her call, many people try to fill that vacuum with more glitter and gold. But the nishamah isn't impressed. So while they fill their bellies for a time and forget their pain, that gnawing hunger comes back to haunt them even more acutely than before.

I Need More

"But what's wrong? What am I missing? I thought I had it all. I guess I just need more." Then in a headlong rush to quell that vacant feeling inside, they pursue careers and promotions, honor and prestige, acquisitions and hobbies, distraction after distraction, running, running, running - anything, just to not think about the emptiness inside. From cars to homes, planes to cruises. Buy a boat, then a yacht. Next a Rolex, then a Rembrandt. Luxuries, parties, extravaganzas... anything, anything to fill that void inside. But it never works. They wake up in the middle of the night and mouth the words, "There has to be more to life than this."

There is. There is so much more. But if man doesn't search for it, he won't find it. And if he doesn't find it, he is destined to be miserable. To achieve happiness and peace of mind, man has to know that he has a soul, and then he has to know what it needs to be satisfied.