Thursday, March 31, 2011
B"h I've conquered shmoneh esrei, ashrei, and shema. And I can say that I am very proud of my concentration and understanding of those tefillos. But what about the rest of them? Do you think I'll ever get that far that I can really pay attention by every hallilukah, etc? You have to take things step by step, no? Why do they pile on so many tefillos whith out teaching them to us when we were younger?
I want you to know that I really respect you for asking this question! I see that you are someone who wants to grow and perfect your tefillah and you are not satisfied with just saying the words without the proper concentration. Here is part 1 of my answer to you.
There's a quote, "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you will still be among the stars." Applying this to tefillah and specifically to your question, I would say that you need to aim high. By aiming high, even if you don't reach your goal, you'll still be getting somewhere.
R' Shimshon Pincus zt"l compares tefillah to dynamite. How is a bomb able to cause a giant wall to crumble? The power of a bomb lies in those little particles that are inside of it. When that bomb is thrown against the wall, it's the little pieces of powder that give the bomb the ability to break mountains. How does tefillah have so much power? It's in those little letters combined to make words, written by the anshei knesses hagedolah with ruach hakodesh. The words themselves are filled with incredible power and just by saying them, you can break barriers and make things happen. Just by saying the tefillos, you are accomplishing so much!!
The way you'll be able to reach the level of concentration you are hoping to get to in even the "little tefillos" is by realizing that they are not so little. They may be short, they may be tefillos you say every day really quickly, but the first step is to tell yourself that there is amazing power behind these words. They were written by people much greater than us and there are deep meanings in these words.
No, you will not be able to reach the proper level of concentration overnight. But you can get there if you try to do it one by one. And it's normal if sometimes your mind wanders and you are not fully focused on the meaning of each and every one. By telling yourself that you will never get there you will not be able to even reach the first step! That sounds like a tactic of the yetzer hara.
The Chofetz Chaim in his introduction to sefer shmiras halashon says that the yetzer hara uses this specific approach to get people to talk without thinking. He says, "the laws of shmiras halashon are so detailed and will rule every aspect of my life. The only way I will be able to ensure that I never violate the rules is by not speaking at all. Since this is impossible, I might as well just throw it all away and just say whatever I want whenever I want."
There is still plenty more to say on this topic but I want to hear from you first. How does this help you? Do you still have questions?
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Here is a link to an article discussing this topic.
I also wanted to share a really good article from Aish.com that I posted last year. Enjoy it!
How to put your ego in check and let your soul shine through.
by Rabbi Chaim Levine
Ah Spring. Hay fever, Spring fever. The sound of lawnmowers being restarted after months of hibernation. What spring would be complete without houses full of neurotic Passover cleaners, scurrying around hardware stores looking for everything from sandpaper to gas torches.
To the uninitiated perhaps all this Passover cleaning looks a bit mundane. Hopefully by now you know better, and the questions on your mind are more like:
- What exactly does bending down to scour out the space under the fridge have to do with purification of the soul and achieving true freedom?
- Can we use herring for Marror?
- Can one use a Dustbuster to pick up chametz?
Let me reassure you that before Passover there’s not much more you can do for the old inner spirit than bowling for breadcrumbs. Why you ask? This is how it works:
You may have noticed that in Judaism we approach the spiritual through our involvement in the physical. Sitting by a river meditating is nice, but real spirituality comes from making the mundane sacred.
Further, we see the physical as bridge to the spiritual because Judaism recognizes that the physical has been created as a visceral mirror for abstract spiritual concepts. Case in point: cleaning for chametz.
The Sages say that the wick of the candle is a metaphor for the body and the flame is a metaphor for the soul.
The Talmud states that actual mitzvah of cleaning out your chametz is to be done with a candle. After the chametz is found, it is then to be burned in a flame.
The Sages say that the wick of the candle is a metaphor for the body and the flame is a metaphor for the soul. Just like however you position the wick, the flame always points upwards to the heavens, so too, no matter what you do with your body, your soul always stays true to its source. Your essence always remains pure and good, no matter what you do with yourself.
(I like to call this the "weebles wobble but they don’t fall down" theory of the soul.)
ALL PUFFED UP
Chametz -- the air that puffs up dough into bread -- is the ego. Just as chametz makes bread look bigger than it is without adding any substance, so too an ego filled with self importance is ultimately nothing but hot air.
How to we remove the ego? The answer is through the seemingly mundane act of Passover cleaning.
We take the candle and shine it in the darkest hidden cracks, exposing the chametz. When we look at ourselves through the lens of the soul we expose the chametz hiding within and recognize it as a puffed-up illusion. Once exposed, it goes up in smoke.
SEASON OF FREEDOM
Passover is the season of freedom. But freedom can only come if you have released yourself from being a slave to your ego.
If your ego has you in a death-hold, if you run after success because you think only success will you be happy, if you need other people's praise and reassurance to feel okay about yourself, you are a enslaved. If you can’t control your anger, or you are trapped by your fears, then you aren’t free. Burning away the chametz of your personality frees you to the life of the soul.
There is another spiritual idea that comes from chametz that, when understood, teaches the true nature of the ego.
Chametz is nothing but puffed up matzah. But what chametz is actually made out of is nothing less than matzah itself! So too there is an idea that the ego is nothing but a corrupt twisted desire that actually has its basis in a drive coming from the soul. For example:
- The soul wants only to give, to help humanity and fix the world. The ego’s perverted version of this noble drive is the desire for power and control, the urge to conquer the world.
- The soul wants to connect with the Divine. The ego wants to use spirituality to serve its needs (this is the basis for idol worship).
- The soul wants to connect with other people meaningfully. The ego corrupts this desire into a drive to manipulate and take from people.
By seeing that often the ego is nothing but a corruption of a noble desire we can easily move past it and choose to be truly free.
Here are a couple of exercises that you can try this Passover.
- Ask yourself: "What ego-driven behaviors are enslaving me? What would life be like if they weren't there?" Ask God for the wisdom and understanding to see them for what they are.
- Try so see that some of the biggest problems your ego gives you are actually a corrupt form of something beautiful from the soul. Then pursue the noble, pure expression of that ego-driven behavior.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The Kedushas Levi explains that when Rivka went to draw water for herself, Hashem accommodated her and made the water rise toward her since she was a tzaddekes. However, since Eliezer had requested water from her, she would now be fulfilling a mitzvah. Hashem did not want to ease her burden, since doing so would lessen her reward. Therefore, He made her work as hard as any other person in order to accomplish the mitzvah.
What a wonderful thought! During this short and sometimes pressured period between Purim and Pesach, we sometimes may wish that things could be a bit easier, and could go just a tad more smoothly. That might not always happen, but we should most definitely be encouraged and energized by the fact that Rivka Imeinu did not have it easy either--and that was especially so--so that the sweat and toil involved with the Mitzvah in the here and now could go a very, very long way in the forever and ever. As you perform your tasks in preparation for the Chag, remember that whatever you are doing is not for the day or for the week, but for the eternal and everlasting thereafter!
Taken from today's hakhel post.
Monday, March 28, 2011
I am posting two links on the topic of "Why do good people die young?"
Especially in light of the terrible tragedy in Itamar - yes, we have so many questions and are seeking answers. They are long posts, but the time you spend reading them is time well spent.
Part 1 explains how Hashem is so much greater than us, so beyond our understanding that as much as we know, we cannot understand.
Part 2 discusses more in detail why good people die young and why to them, they do not view it as something bad but as something part of the bigger picture.
I hope you gain as much from these as I did when I read them.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The following post was taken from OhrShimshon.Do clothes make the man or man make the fashion is the question often posed by the fashion cognoscenti in the secular Fashion capitals of the world; Paris, Rome, Milan, and Madison Avenue. Their answers and the “fashionable” clothes they manufacture cater to and elicit from the baser human instincts.
Le’Havdil, our Torah Hakedosha takes a different perspective. In Parshas Tetzaveh, Hashem commands Moshe: Ve’Ohsisa Bigdei Kodesh L’Aharon Oh’Cheey’choh L’Chovod U’Lesifores.
Rav Shimshon Pincus, ZT”L says that the Torah’s message on Fashion re: the singular, beautiful, and holy clothing worn by the Kohanim during their Avodas Hashem in the Bais Hamikdosh applies to all of us for we are all “Kohanim”. ‘Ve’Atem Tiyu Lee Mamleches Kohanim V’Goy Kodosh’. Each one of us, Klal Yisroel, stand and serve constantly before Hashem with our Tefilllos, Kiyum HaTorah, Mitzvos, and in our interactions with the secular society we live in.
And therefore says Rav Pincus, we are just like the Kohanim in the Beis Hamikdash, each one of us has the obligation to be clothed in “Levushei M’Yuchad”, so that we are recognized as Me’Shorsei Hashem.
What is the definition of a Jewish “Levushei M’Yuchad” asks Rav Pincus: They have three characteristics:
1. The clothes should be Tzenua-modest,
2. They must not contain Shatnez,
3. They should contain a Levush of Mitzva, i.e.; Tzitsis.
Clothes, says Rav Pincus, protects us not only from the external elements, cold, heat, etc. but also protects us internally, our Neshama from succumbing to our baser human instincts and behaviors. The proper clothing has a level of Kedusha that serves to protect us from harmful external influences.
Rav Pincus notes that the first people to wear clothes were Odom and Chava as it says: VaYa’as Hashem Elokim Le’Odom U’LeIshto Ketonos Ohr Va’Yalbeesheim”.
Rav Pincus references the Chazal in Bereishis Rabbah that notes the Milah “Ohr” (with an Eyin) is a remez for the word Ohr (Aleph-light) to indicate that one who clothes himself with clothes that are “Levush M’Yuchad” will be zocheh to be clothed and protected in and by the Ohr-Light of the Torah.
I think this is an amazing concept. We need to focus on the beauty behind the mitzvah of tznius instead of telling girls about all the things they can't do. Too short, too tight, too flashy...let's instill this in our hearts - how special we are and since we are part of a holy nation we should dress in a way that reflects who we are! We are compared to Kohanim in the Beis Hamikdosh - what could be more special than that?!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
When a child is born
The parents are rejoicing
While the angels above mourn
The baby is not capable
His parents take care of his every need
From the diapers that must be changed
To the food they are sure to feed
As he grows up slowly
He learns to do things on his own
Now he can care for himself
As he is already grown
The cycle of life continues
As the child becomes a man
He can now provide for himself
As life goes according to his plans
Then he grows even older
Things get harder to do
Now he begins to rely on others
The cycle now continues
The parents who provided for him
Are now long gone
It's time for him to try
To find help so he can move on
It's hard to be old
It's hard to age
No one could imagine
What it's like to be at the next stage
The wheel starts moving
And yes it moves real fast
Time passes by
It flies by oh so fast
Now the man who used to be a child
Relies on his children to be there
He needs them to do simple tasks
And they take turns taking care
The cycle of life that began with his parents
Now continues as his children see
That he needs them to be there
And watch over him wholeheartedly
This is the message I am trying to bring out
That life begins and ends this way
We rely on others from the very beginning
And at the end it is also the same
Let's try to keep in mind
That we are not here forever
This is something very important
For each of us to remember
If we took advantage of our time
And spent it wisely too
We'd look back at our life
With pride in everything we did do
Friday, March 18, 2011
Even if you've read this before, trust me, it's definitely worth rereading!!!!
I LEARNED SOME NEW THINGS THIS YEAR BUT DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO TYPE IT ALL UP SO PLEASE ACCEPT THIS GIFT…AN AMAZING DVAR TORAH ON PURIM FROM R’ SHIMSHON PINCUS ZT”L!!
Purim is a time where we see Hashem revealed to us through the natural things that happen to us, not through major miracles…
He says that megillah comes from the lashon of l'galos, to reveal because thru reading the megillah, Hashem is revealed because we see that every detail was planned with such accuracy…Esther becoming queen and marrying Achashveirosh…saving the whole Jewish nation with the help of her uncle, Mordechai who was one of the ministers of the king…All these details looked like a regular story, a king kills the queen, picks a new one…but really, Hashem is behind the whole story! And that’s why His name is not mentioned once in the megillah, because He is behind it, and we have to look out for Him!! And so too, each detail of every person’s life is planned to perfection! And this fills our heart with such love for Hashem that we wish we could give him back!! But how can we give back to Hashem?
There are 2 types of giving.
One: give someone to fill a void, ex: someone gets hurt, you buy them a present (a bike for a child in an accident)
Two: you love someone sooo much, you just want to give them a gift to show them how much u love them not because they need it. (ex: a dozen roses)
On Purim, we give both types, but only after we have heard the megillah and feel that tremendous love towards Hashem.
One: matanos l’evyonim-we give to many people because they are missing out and need the money
Two: mishloach manos-we just read the megillah, in which Hashem was revealed to all of us and we are all filled with such love for Him that we want to give Him a present...but we cant because He has everything already! The best thing you can give to someone who has everything is to give his children, so we give it to His children-mishloach manos-which is a present we wanted to give Hashem but give to His children instead!!
Isn’t that an awesome thought and an unbelievable way of looking at it?! I’m telling you, when I read this, my heart was filled with such LOVE for Hashem…DO YOU REALIZE HOW MUCH HE DOES FOR US????!!!!!! Just the fact that you woke up this morning and are healthy and well and able to read asher yatzar and see and hear and understand and even the fact that you can read this post!! We have sooo much to thank Hashem for!!!
So let’s use this day of Purim (and the time before) to thank Hashem for all the never-ending gifts He gives us…and the more you thank Hashem, the more He will want to give!!!
Have a beautiful and inspiring Purim!!
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Purim is a day of great celebration
Because we as Jews merited a miraculous salvation
We were in danger of being completely wiped out
But HaKadosh Baruch Hu heard our cries and our shouts
It was in the zechus of our tefillos and the teshuva that we did
That Hashem spared us from destruction-each and every yid
Let's take the message from the Purim Story deep inside our hearts
And try to work on fixing something-it's never too late to start
Sometimes we get distracted by costumes and themes
But let's not forget the nes purim and the lesson that it brings
Let's strengthen our resolve to daven with more concentration
And ask Hashem to redeem us-the entire Jewish Nation
Just like the yiddin in Shushan saw a big miracle in their times
Let's hope for a nes purim in our very own lives.
Let's all daven and beg for this galus to end
When Moshiach ben Dovid, Hashem will finally send!
Please note, if you found this poem and are planning to use it for personal use, I would appreciate if you can email me or leave a comment to let me know.
On Purim, there was a real v'nahapoch hu for the Jews in Shushan. Everything turned up-side down - literally! First there was a decree for the entire Jewish Nation to be wiped out and then suddenly it all changed. The decree was changed so that the Jews could fight back and they won against their enemies!
Here is another link about the power of tefillah on Purim.
Also, today is Ta'anis Esther - the day the Esther asked all the Jews to fast on her behalf and on behalf of the entire nation. This was the beginning of the turnaround and the miracle of Purim. Before she went into the palace of the king, she said Perek Chaf Beis (which is why many people say that specific perek today.) It begins with the words keili, keili lama azavtani - so many times we feel that Hashem has left us and we ask Him, where are you? Why did you leave me?
We all have moments in our lives when we feel that Hashem is hiding and we so desperately want to see His face. We want to understand WHY things are happening. Life can be so confusing and we are searching for answers.
Megillas Esther shows us that even when it seems like Hashem is hiding, He is really there - behind the scenes. The word megillah comes from the root of l'galos - to reveal. And the name Esther comes from the root of nistar - hidden. Because through reading the megillah, we come to realize that yes, He may be hidden at times but the megillah helps us reveal Him and notice Him in the Purim story. So if Hashem is so obvious in the Purim story, then imagine how much He is involved in our own personal lives!!
May each of you be zoche to use the power of this holy day to daven and ask for the right things and may you always feel Hashem by your side!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
If you ask, Hashem will hear. And if you think He didn't answer you last year, don't be mistaken. Your tefillos are going somewhere.
I heard a mashal that compares it to a freezer. Sometimes, the time is not right for that specific tefillah to be answered. So Hashem saves the tefillah - he puts it in the freezer and then when the time IS right (and only Hashem knows when that is), He will take it out and "defrost" it for you and your yeshuah will come!!
I have a request to make from all the readers of this blog. My sister, Chaya Sara, coauthor of this blog is b"h 30 years old. It's a bracha that she is alive, happy and accomplishing so much with her life. B"h she helps many teens at risk, she speaks to parents and teens alike, helping them along this bumpy road we all called life. She inspires everyone wherever she goes. She speaks for school functions at Shabbatons, Chagigas and other gatherings.
She is still waiting to get married. My heart goes out for her and wishes so strongly for her to find her other half.
Do you want to be part of this mitzvah? I want to organize something on Purim day - so that we can utilize the power of this day to pierce the heavens and beg Hashem for her to experience her own personal miracle of Purim.
I want to try to have the entire tehillim completed on the day of Purim by all the readers of this blog - as a zechus for her. There are a lot of followers and people who read this in google reader so I'm hoping that I can organize it between all the readers of this blog.
Do you want to join? Leave a comment or send me an email at inspirationalinformation1 [at] gmail [dot] com letting me know how many perakim you are able to say (and if you have a preference of a specific few perakim) and I will let you know which ones to say.
If you want to have her in mind in your daily tefillos, her name is Chaya Sara bas Charna Raizel.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
THE POWER OF A TZIBBUR: Any Tzibbur, acting together, can bring about Refuos and Yeshuos (healings and deliverances) that all of K’lal Yisroel, acting individually, may not necessarily accomplish. The Gemara in Rosh Hashana (18A) teaches that Hashem is ready to accept the Teshuva of a Tzibbur the whole year the same way that he accepts the Teshuva of an individual in the Aseres Y’mei Teshuvah.
In the Megilla, we learn from the words of Lech K’nos ( 4:16 ) that Mordechai and Esther elected to gather all of the Jews in Shushan to daven, instead of asking everyone to do something on his own.
The power of Tefilla is immeasurable. It can break the harshest of decrees. Our cries brought about Yetzias Mitzraim. Moshe Rabbeinu’s pleas broke the decree of destruction at the time of the golden calf and brought us victory against Amalek. In fact, our Tefillos broke Haman’s decree to destroy the entire Jewish people during this time of year.
OUR GOAL: HAVE KAVANA IN THE FIRST BROCHA OF SHEMONE ESREI: According to the Shulchan Aruch (101:1), one is required to have Kavanna in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei. According to the Mishna Berurah, this means that one should not daven at all until he feels that he will have Kavanna in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei. This is how important the first Bracha is.
Our goal is to activate the power of Tzibbur and the power of Tefilla together by asking each member of the Tzibbur to have Kavanna in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei when davening each day from today, through Purim. Please especially have Kavanna when reciting the words “Ozer” (Helper), “U’Moshia” (Savior), “U’Magen” (Shield):
Ozer--a Helper, who thwarts an existing immediate danger from overpowering a person (example: you have already been attacked and the attacker is defeated);
Moshia--a Savior, who cancels danger threatening to overpower a person (example: prior to his attacking, the attacker runs away);
Mogen--a Shield, who prevents trouble from reaching you in the first place (example: the attacker never leaves home).
See Michtav M’Eliyahu 4:65 as brought in Praying with Fire (page 117).
IMAGINE THE Z’CHUSIM: The z’chusim which can be created by the thousands of us getting together to have Kavanna--in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei, are literally astounding. Davening properly, that is, having Kavanna for the simple translation of the words of the first Bracha, which we are all capable of doing with little effort, can convert a Shemone Esrei that perhaps should not have been said, into a true prayer to Hashem. The results will B’EH be Refuos and Yeshuos for K’lal Yisroel.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Often, people become annoyed by this kind of behavior, especially on Purim when they may feel beleaguered by the onslaught of a seemingly endless flow of solicitors. Not so R' Chaim Volozhiner. He graciously gave the pauper a second monetary gift and even spent a moment talking to him. The world famous Rov and Rosh Yeshiva asked the poor man if perchance he had a gut vort, a nice Torah idea about Purim to share with him.
The pauper responded, "The Midrash says that Mordechai knew that the heavenly tribunal agreed with Haman's decree to harm the Jews because they had to be punished for their sins. However, the tribunal has two different ways of sealing its decrees. If the decree is sealed with a seal of blood, it is permanent and can't be rescinded. If, on the other hand, it is sealed with clay, then there was still a last chance for the Jews to repent and thereby shatter the clay seal. Mordechai was deeply concerned lest the decree was sealed in blood. When he met Eliyahu Hanavi who informed him that the decree was only sealed with clay, Mordechai was overjoyed because there was still hope for the salvation of the Jews.
'I would like to know, honored Rabbi, whether there is some remez - a hint of this concept on the text of the Megillah itself'."
Before R. Chaim could reply, the pauper continued and demonstrated a textual source for the derivation of this idea from the Megillas Esther (3:9), where it says "Yikasev Li'Abdam" - it shall be written down to destroy them. The Hebrew word "Li'Abdam", may be broken into two words to read "Lo B'dam" - not with blood. Simply inserting a space in this word describing Haman's decree reveals this key fact about the hidden Divine decree.
The next time R' Chaim visited his Rebbe, the Vilna Gaon, he repeated this vort to him. The Vilna Gaon's response was, "The very same Eliyahu Hanavi who brought this good news to Mordechai in Shushan many centuries ago, revealed this Scriptural proof to you on Purim."
This incident teaches us how important it is to be patient with the poor. If R' Chaim had been impatient with the pauper when he approached him a second time, and had rejected his request, then R' Chaim would have forfeited his opportunity to have 'gilui Eliyahu' - a revelation of Eliyahu Hanavi. Beware! You never know who is knocking at the door.
(from Tuvcha Yabiyu Vol II, p. 278, Tzedakah Treasury p. 256)
Sunday, March 13, 2011
God's guiding hand is sometimes felt gently, and other times more forcefully. But the message is there just the same. by Dina Coopersmith
How do we find God when His face is hidden?
teaches us how to relate to God in a time when seas don't split, when bushes don't burn, when plagues don't befall our enemies.
The story of Purim occurred after the destruction of the First Temple, when the era of prophecy was coming to a close. People no longer saw open miracles. It was a time of concealment.
Where do we find "Esther" in the Talmud - Chulin 139b)? In the verse: "And I will hide (astir) my face from them on that day." (
Rashi: "In the days of Esther there will be hester panim (hiddeness of God's face)."
GOD'S GUIDING HAND
Have you ever felt God clearly in your life? A time when you felt a force greater than yourself somehow shaping and leading events?
I remember a time when I felt that guiding force. I had just met the man who was to be my husband. But I didn't know it then. To make a long story short, we broke up because our lives seemed to be heading in different directions.
Shortly thereafter, I was called by a total stranger, out of the blue, and offered a job in a position completely outside my realm of expertise. I took the job simply because it aroused my curiosity.
To this day I don't know why I was called for this interview. But as a result of that job, I met up again with my ex-date. I also ended up changing my choice of career, some of my attitudes, and even one or two character traits. And two years after our initial meeting, I married my husband and embarked on a future with him that would never have been in my script, had my life gone according to my "plan."
We are not in full control even though we often imagine that we are.
Judaism posits that God shapes every single event in our lives with direct supervision. Nothing is pure chance. Our circumstances are not coincidences. Everything is directed.
AMALEK, THE NATION OF CHANCE
Others do not share this view.
Amalek was a nation that first battled against Israel on their way out of Egypt.
Remember what Amalek did to you on the way when you left Egypt, that he chanced upon you on the way. (Deut. 25:17-18)
In the Torah, Amalek is described in Hebrew as a nation who karcha ("chanced"). This word comes from the root mikre, meaning "happenstance or coincidence." Thus we learn that the belief in chance is Amalek's essence.
How else could they have disregarded all the miracles that the Jews had experienced -- theand the Exodus, culminating in the splitting of the Red Sea -- and have still dared to fight against those same Jews?! They must have said: "Mere coincidence!"
Haman, a descendent of Amalek, decided to get rid of the Jewish people of Persia. He cast "lots" (purim in Hebrew) to determine a date in which to kill them. He wanted it to be a random event.
The Jews, on the other hand, use lots to allow for Divine intervention to be revealed. Upon entering thein the days of Joshua, the division of land among the tribes was done by lottery. This allowed God's will to express itself without human choices getting involved in such an important endeavor.
When Mordechai sends a message to Midrash explains:, telling her about Haman's plan, the text reads kol asher karahu -- "everything that happened." As the
Mordechai called for Hatach and said, "Go tell her (Esther): 'The grandson of karahu, ("chance,") has come upon you!' As it says in the Torah: 'Who chanced upon you on the way.'" (Midrash - Esther Rabah 8:5)
That nation we know from our national past as believing in meaningless and randomness has again reared its ugly head.
PURIM STORY: ANTITHESIS OF CHANCE
Each event in the Megillah is natural and possible, and seems to be orchestrated entirely by human beings and their choices:
1) A king gets drunk and decides to call for his wife to appear before the guests. That could happen.
2) The wife, Vashti, refuses to appear before the king. The king decides to kill her. Esther is chosen queen. That's possible.
3) Haman chooses to kill Mordechai and ask permission from king. Could Be.
4) The king has insomnia one night and remembers an old favor he needs to repay to Mordechai. Possible.
But when ALL of these incidents happen to coincide, when ALL the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle come together in one huge "coincidence," they form nothing short of a miracle.
It may be hidden, but a directing force becomes obvious all the same.
Each event which Haman thought he controlled, turned out to bring about his downfall. His suggestion to kill Vashti, the queen, caused the positioning of Esther as redeemer. His suggestion to use the kings robes and horse -- born of his desire to honor himself by parading around on the king's horse -- became the perfect reward for Mordechai's deed. And the hand-built gallows he intended for Mordechai were those used for his own hanging.
Throughout the Megillah story, God directs events and takes advantage of people's free will choices to form a tapestry of purpose and destiny -- the redemption of the Jewish people.
THE ERA OF HIDDENESS
Throughout the entire story of Purim, the name of God isn't mentioned. It is an era of hiddeness of God's face (hester panim). But more than ever, it is clear how God is running the show. There are simply too many "coincidences." The links fit together too well.
Another point to keep in mind: The Megillah spans a nine-year period. When it is compressed into one book and we read it in half an hour, we see with perspective and hindsight how every painful event was working towards a purposeful end. However, when we're in the midst of a difficult situation, we tend to see only the darkness and confusion.
The particular message of the day, then, is to understand God's guiding hand in history and in the mundane affairs of this world.
Olam, "world," comes from the root ne'elam, "hidden." God's name doesn't appear. But when all is said and done, His presence is recognized everywhere. He is not concealed. He only appears to be. It is up to us to find Him in every event of our lives.
We need only read between the lines.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Every Yom Tov, says the gemara in Pesachim (68b), is "Chetzyoi LaShem V'Chetyoi Lachem" (half for Hashem and half for you). Of course it is all for Hashem but our celebration has two parts. One part in pure spiritual devotion like davening and learning and the other part is more earthly through eating (albeit with the goal of Kiddush Hashem).
What about Yom Kippur, where is the Chetzyoi Lachem as we are wrapped in talis and fast all day? The Vilna Gaon answers that the Lachem part of Yom Kippur is Purim. Purim is the completion of Yom Kippur. It is the physical half. Moreover say Chazal, Purim is the holier half as Yom Kippur is only Yom "K"Purim a day whose kedusha only approaches the incredible kedusha of Purim.
Rav Shimshon Pincus says that some Meforshim explain the connection between the two with the Chazal that says "Kol HaPoshet Yad Nosnim Lo" (whoever opens his hand is given to). Just like on Purim where we are obligated to give tzedaka to whoever stretches out his hand, so to on Yom Kippur Hashem gives us whatever we ask for. Purim is a day where Hashem also gives whatever we ask and is more effective than Yom Kippur when we need to fast and daven to get it. Purim we can be in a state of obliviousness "Ad D'Lo Yadah" and still get what we need.
Rav Shimshon Pincus himself offers that there are three days of celebration of Matan Torah during the year. Shavuos where we celebrate the first Luchos with the hearing of them on Har Sinai, Yom Kippur when we received the second luchos, and Purim when we finally accepted the Torah by our own volition without being forced. This was the most joyous kabalas HaTorah that came from a physical revelation that the torah is in our best earthy and heavenly interest. That is why on this Kabalas HaTorah we celebrate in a most earthly way.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Answer: With your friend is moving out of the country, you must be having mixed emotions. It's hard for you because you feel like you wont have her nearby but if you think about it, I'm sure this was a big decision for her and is the best thing for her right now. People don't just pick themselves up and move to another country without thinking about it so I'm sure that there is a good reason for why she's going.
Keeping that in mind will help you think about her for a minute - that it must be hard for her too. She is leaving a place of all her comforts to go on to a strange, new country. Even if she's been there before, it's still a change for her and change isn't easy.
Just because she is moving doesn't mean you are not going to be able to stay in touch with her. There's a saying, "absence makes the heart grow fonder" which means that when someone is far away from you, it makes this emotion in your heart feel stronger for them so you'll love them even more. The fact that she's moving will deepen your feelings for her and can in fact make you become closer than before!
You can still keep in touch with her. These days, we are blessed with telephones - generations back didn't have that! You can call your friend, send her letters, faxes and emails with updates on how you are doing and you can hear back from her as well. It's such a bracha that we have all these methods of communication today!
After my brother, Shalom a"h, was niftar, I thought about this - I was going to seminary in Eretz Yisroel and was going to miss my family so much! But to me it was a whole different story, totally different emotions than other girls who were there and also missing their families. Why? Because I knew that when I would get home at the end of the year, I would see my family once again - but my brother, he I would only see once moshiach comes and we are zoche to techiyas hameisim. (Of course there are no guarantees and something could happen over the year c"v but I felt that I'd see them all once I got back.)
So appreciate that you'll get to see your friend again - and if she is too far away and you don't think you'll be seeing her, at least you'll be able to speak to her or write to her! It's not like she's leaving you forever! You can keep in touch! How lucky you are to have such a close friend!!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
It's a scary thought. One day, I'll be sitting shiva for him, talking about him and the things we can learn from his life.
At the levaya, when my father tore his shirt and asked his father for forgiveness, I was very shaken up.
It shook me to the core.
One day, I will have to ask my father for mechilla. Do I treat him perfectly? Do I honor and respect him to the degree that I should? Do I listen to him when he talks to me and repeats a long dvar torah or do I sometimes tune out and tell him at the end that that's a really nice thought?
It's a wake up call.
I need to check if my bein adam l'chaveiro is in perfect order or if there are things that could be fixed up a little bit.
I shouldn't have to wait until Elul to ask other people for forgiveness.
I should do things properly in the first place so that I don't have to ask them at all. If I treated everyone the way I should, there would be no need to say I'm sorry.
This is a powerful lesson for all of us.
Let's not wait until it's too late to ask for forgiveness.
Let's treat people properly, with respect, love and sensitivity.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
He was a quiet and humble, very humble person.
He had a sign hanging on the wall of his study that said:
ADVICE – TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
WHEN YOU HAVE A DESIRE TO TALK, TAKE A DRINK OF WATER. “LESS TALK SHOULD SATISFY YOU.”
[FROM TIME TO TIME, YOU SHOULD REITERATE THIS STATEMENT (IN PRIVACY)] IN CASE YOU WANT TO STATE YOUR OPINION ABOUT SOMETHING THINK TWICE, TALK ONCE.
(LIKE THE CARPENTER SAID, MEASURE TWICE, THEN YOU WILL CUT ONCE, MEASURE ONCE AND YOU WILL HAVE TO CUT TWICE.)
AFTER THINKING TWICE – THINK AGAIN. THEN COUNT TO TEN. THEN THINK AND ONLY THEN TALK.
READ THIS PAGE EVERY DAY.
This is what he personified. He didn’t just speak whatever was on his mind. I think this advice is golden. If only we’d think before we let those words escape our lips, we may not have caused so much pain to others. We may be able to cause someone’s heart to swell with pride if we would have thought of the right words to use to compliment.
Think before you speak. It sounds so simple. It’s something we can work on every day.
Let’s take this lesson from someone who lived by the advice he gave to others.
L’ilui nishmas Avraham Nechemia ben Aryeh Leib
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Did you ever see little kids looking at their parents albums? They'll all be saying the same thing. Oh my! Look at those hairstyles, look at those clothes...That's SO odd! How could you ever wear such styles?
It's all in whose looking at it.
So now, try to picture the celestial judges looking at you in the album. Realize that those short skirts really don't look so cute anymore! The things that are so in style and trendy down here on this world are viewed in a whole different light in the next world!!
Does this change your perspective in any way? Do you think this thought can help you dress properly in the future?