Sunday, January 29, 2012

Getting a Ticket

I got this email and wanted to share it with all of you.

I don't know what I was thinking.

Yesterday I drove three friends down to Baltimore for my roommates wedding and we drove back up to Jersey after the wedding. Six hours of driving, five hours of dancing and eleven hours of being with the same three people. B"H we got there and back safely, even in the crazy rain.

The ride felt like forever because I had to be extra careful not to speed. Usually I'll speed a little, just a little, but on this road, there were so many police pulling people over that it just wasn't worth the few minutes I'd save driving fast.

Every time I saw someone pulled over (as an aside, if you see someone pulled over, don't look at them, they are embarrassed as it is), my heart sped up, my stomach dropped, and my grip on the wheel tightened.

With every car pulled over, I glanced at my speedometer and slowed down. Although I wasn't the one being pulled over, by other people being pulled over, I was reminded that I too should make sure I'm not speeding.

No one has a perfect life.

Everyone has tzaros in some form of another. How many times do you hear a story of something that happened to someone, get an email or text telling you to say tehillm for someone, and your heart speeds up, your stomach drops, and you go on with your life?

When things happen to others-whether they are Jewish or not, they are meant as a lesson to you too.

Before Hashem does anything, He takes into account who will hear about it and who will be affected. If it reached your ears, it was meant for you too. If you see someone being "pulled over", if you see someone going through something or "getting a ticket", it's meant for you.

It's meant for you to look at your own life speedometer and to slow down. When bad things happen to others, look at yourself, look at what Hashem could be telling YOU.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Thank you R.P. for emailing this to me.

To My Dearest Child,

We have to part for now, for you are about to embark on a most special journey. I’m sending you on this trip so that you can strengthen yourself, and reaffirm your devotion to me. Here is the starting point and there is the end where I’ll be waiting to reunite with you. You’ll be given a suitcase with everything you will need for the trip. Make sure to take stock of your tools and utilize them to help make your trip most effective.

The road you take will swerve with frequent ups and downs and plenty of obstacles that will stand in your way. As soon as you overcome an obstacle you will find yourself closer to me than ever before.

Don’t forget to study the map I gave you for it is the most valuable possession on this trip. I will guide you with each turn you take, and will indicate when you should stop and ask for directions. The billboards along the way will try to entice you to veer from the path. Don’t be deceived! Keep your eyes focused on the map & follow it religiously. Share it with others who might be lost or searching.

There will be small pleasures along the road to enhance your trip. Stop to eat, to rest, & enjoy. But beware. These pleasures are just means to help you efficiently reach your goal. Don’t get caught up in their web, because you’ll have a hard time getting back on track. Be careful not to fill up your bags with things you don’t need because any garbage you collect will tie you down and make it harder for you to reach me.

You will make friends along the way. Cherish them, give to them, and hold their hands as you travel towards me. There will be times that you might feel lonely, but don’t be frightened. I’m watching you closely, & I’m eagerly waiting for you at the end. I am available at all times should you feel the need to speak with me. I can hear your every word, even the slightest whisper.

There will be many things you see & experience along the way that you will not understand. Just remember that you only see what’s right before your eyes. I have the view from above, where I see it all. I personally have tailored the journey just for you, with every detail designed to ensure a successful trip.

Your days on this trip are short in numbers but great in potential. Use each one to it’s fullest, traveling towards me at all times.

And remember-this is no ordinary journey, this is the journey of your lifetime.

Your Loving Father

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This message is sooo beautiful ot help us understand how to build the best relationship with hashem esp. what to feel when hashem doesnt answer you the way you want!!

Rosh Chodesh Shevat

I posted this last year and wanted to share it with you once again.

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 24, 2012

The Right Thing

In life, most of us want to do the right thing.

Sometimes it's very clear. It's obvious. You look at a situation and you know what you are supposed to do.

Other times, it's not that clear at all. You need to turn it over in your head, you may need to speak to some people (but not too many people, because that can end up confusing you) and figure out what that right thing to do in that situation is.

Sometimes it's easy to do it. It doesn't take much on your part and you can make the decision and follow through.

Other times, it's very, very hard to do the right thing. Even once you came to the conclusion that this is what you should be doing and you KNOW it's the right thing for you, actually doing it takes a lot on your part.

It's when you are dealing not just with logic, with what you know in your head is right, but when you're dealing with your emotions-that's when it gets hard.

When your heart is torn in two places at once and one part of you says one thing and the other part says something else, that's where the conflict lies. When your emotions are involved, it gets hard.

But if you know that you are making the right decision and what you are doing is what is right and good, you will be able to do it even if it's hard. No matter how hard it is.

What does it mean to be ma'aveer al hamiddos? When you are in a situation where your heart tells you to do one thing but your brain and your head tells you to do something else, when you have to look past the hurt that you've been through and do what is right even if it's hard and even if it's painful for you...that is being ma'aveer al hamiddos.

When someone hurt you and you don't hurt back.

When you go to the next level and do what is right even if it's hard.

When you are done and you look back you can say, I did the right thing.

Keep those two words in your head when you are making a decision like this.

Is it the right thing?

Yes, I may be right and I could do xyz but who will be hurt if I do that? Do I really want to hurt someone else?

We are put into this world to perfect ourselves. The mitzvos bein adam l'chaveiro aren't always easy. When you do something because it is what you should be doing, even though it is hard for you, you are perfecting your character and becoming a better person.

It may be hard but it will be worth it.

When you look back and see what you gained from doing what was right, you'll be glad you did matter how hard it was.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Little Tiger

I sometimes wonder if little kids books are really meant to give important lessons to the adults who are reading them to their children.

Tonight, I read Read to Tiger to my son. It's a cute little story about a boy who is trying to read a book and the tiger behind the couch keeps doing things to get his attention. He dresses up like a bear and says "roar", he blows a whistle while he plays with the boy's toy train and each time the boy yells at the tiger to please keep quiet and the tiger listens meekly and will try to behave. This keeps happening until the tiger takes a peek at the book and sees a picture of another tiger, gets excited and asks the boy if he can read the book too. So together, they snuggle up on the couch and finally everyone is happy. The boy can read in peace and quiet and the tiger is being entertained with something that keeps him interested.

This gave me a lot to think about. How many kids and teens are just like this little tiger? Searching for attention. Needing to be noticed. Craving a hug. Waiting for someone to listen. But the people who matter to them, the people who they are looking towards for just a few minutes of their time are too busy trying to read their book without any distractions...and it gets too noisy and they yell...can't you just keep quiet and keep to yourself instead of getting in the way?!

When a kid starts acting out, making any kind of noise, it's happening for a reason. The kid is trying to get you to notice them and take interest in them and see what it is they need so badly.

The kid wants you to "snuggle up on a couch" with them and read a book together. They want your time, your attention, your love and they want you to listen to them.

Teens who are acting out are doing it for a reason. They need something. They need someone to listen to them. Girls in high school have a lot of questions. They can get the answers if they are listened to by someone who cares. But if they are laughed at and ignored or worse-put down, they can start going down, downhill...

This is an important tool in chinuch with even the youngest children. When my son starts throwing toys (What? He does that? YES!), he does it for either of two reasons. Either he is so tired that it's the only thing he could do at the moment-throw anything and everything in sight. Or he wants attention. He wants me to stop making supper, cleaning up, texting (ahem) and sit with him on the floor and play with some toys or sit on the couch (way more comfortable :) ) and read a book together.

We all have that little tiger inside us-a part of us that craves love and attention. There are both positive and negative ways to get it. Not all people want to take the time to figure out and work through the positive ways of getting proper recognition. Sometimes it's easier to misbehave, to act out, so other people will notice them. But then they may get pushed away, further and further...They get noticed for a minute but are not wanted around. And so they'll try again...until they realize that just like in the story, when people come together and recognize each other for what they can contribute together as a team, they'll feel loved, they'll get the positive attention they need and they will feel happy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Respecting Jewish Women

Thank you Talia Weisberg, creator of Bleep! for emailing this to me.

I recently heard Rabbi Yechiel Spero, a teacher at Baltimore’s Talmudic Academy and author of the popular ArtScroll series Touched by a Story, speak. I was indeed touched by the following story that he shared.

According to her children, Rebbetzin Kanievsky zt”l only got upset two times in her life. One of the times was when someone arranged for her to speak with a group of girls. These girls were very modern, and they were not dressed according to the rules of tznius. She was happy to speak with them anyway, and they met her at the shul where she davened three times a day, every day, outside of her home.

A man walked by and he saw the girls. Horrified at their mode of dress, he started yelling at them, “How dare you come into our neighborhood dressed like that! Shame on you for talking to the rebbetzin dressed like that!”

Rebbetzin Kanievsky started crying, extremely upset, and shouted at the man, “How dare you talk to them like that! You’re being mevazeh a bas Yisrael!” She ran upstairs to her husband, Rabbi Kanievsky, who she never disturbed. She cried and just kept saying, “He was mevazeh a bas Yisrael, he was mevazeh a bas Yisrael!”

I think this story adequately shows that the kavod (respect) of a Jewish woman should not ever be compromised. Whether she’s wearing a burqa or bikini, if she has a Jewish soul, she deserves the same respect. If someone on the level of Rebbetzin Kanievsky had no problem speaking to women not dressed according to tznius, then what right do the rest of us have to judge?

Another message I took from this story is this: you can see when someone is a truly great person by what makes them upset. This is what Reb. Kanievsky got angry about! It bothered her when the girls were not treated with respect. It gives you something to think about-what upsets you? What makes you really angry?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rose Among Thorns

The following speech was given this past week on a shabbaton (not by me :-) ) and I wanted to share the message with you.

Good Shabbos everyone! It is wonderful to be here together tonight. Still, we are missing something valuable by being away from home. Many of our parents give us brachos every Friday night. Our fathers come home from shul, and in that moment of kedusha, they bench us. What bracha do our parents give us? Girls are benched to be like Sarah, Rivka, Rochel and Leah. Our brothers are benched with a posuk from this week’s parsha, Yesimcha Elokim k’Ephraim v’ch’Menashe.

If we bench girls to be like our Imahos, why don’t we bench boys to be like our Avos? Why do we bench them to be like Ephriam and Menashe?

Someone once told me a story that supposedly happened with the Shpoler Zaide. The Shpoler Zaide had a chossid who made his living working in a tavern. All day he served wine, beer, and schnapps to local goyim. The atmosphere in the tavern was far from ideal for a frum Jew. The chossid felt he had to struggle to keep up his standards of ruchniyus, davening, and limud hatorah. He decided to go his rebbe for guidance.

The chossid cried to his rebbe, "Every day I deal with drunks and low-class people behaving almost not like humans. I constantly need to fight against the negative influence of the environment. I wish I could change my job so I would be surrounded only by erliche, emes’e chassidim, good Jews. Then I could be a real yirai shomayim, a true eved Hashem.”

The Shpoler Zaide answered him compassionately. “You wish you had enough money so you could stop working in the tavern among the goyim. You would sit and learn all day in a beautiful Bais Medrash full of people learning and davening with geshmak. Then you will be able to serve Hashem the way you should. You feel you can't be a real eved Hashem in the environment you are in now.

"The truth is, the opposite it true. Hashem already has thousands of servants who are in a great environment and have no challenges. He has a whole shomayim full of malachim with no yetzer harah. Every malach only wants to do Hashem’s will with his whole being. If Hashem wanted more of those servants, He would have made you a malach.

“But Hashem wanted something different – something better from you. Hashem wanted a servant who is willing to struggle to serve him. Hashem put you in this place of tuma right now so you would long to be close to Him. You look forward the whole day to those few holy words you can utter before your Creator. The longing, yearning, and purity you struggle to create in your tavern full of drunks is more precious to Hashem than the service of malachim up in shamayim.”

The Shpoler Zaide taught this precious Yid: HKB”H is not looking for a flower among flowers. He wants the rose among thorns. Hashem wants to praise us, “kishoshano bein hachochim, keyn rayosi beyn habanos.”

Why is serving Hashem through struggle, being a rose surrounded by thorns, so valuable? The gemara teaches, “tov echad b’tzar mi’meah shelo bitzar, one mitzvah you struggle to do is better than 100 mitzvos without a struggle”. Rav Dessler z”l asked, how much pain does it take for the mitzvah to be 100 times more valuable? The gemara says the smallest significant measure of suffering is putting your hand into your pocket to take out three coins and only coming up with two. If doing the mitzvah takes a little extra effort, as much as putting your hand into your pocket twice instead of once, your mitzvah is worth 100 times as much. And what if your struggle is twice as hard, if it is like needing to stick your hands into your pocket three times? Your mitzvah is worth 100 times 100, ten thousand. And if your struggle is as hard as reaching into your pocket one MORE time? Your mitzvah is worth 100 times 100 times 100 – one million times as much!

You can see why Hashem wants His flowers to be beautiful roses among thorns. A Shoshana beyn hachochim is infinitely more precious to Him!

Now we can understand why Am Yisroel chooses to give our children the bracha Yesimcha Elokim k’Ephraim ve’chi’Menashe. The Yalkut Yehuda explains: Ephraim and Menashe were the first Jews born and raised in galus, in a secular environment. They were surrounded by Mitzrayim who descended from cursed Chom, a low nation full of avodah zarah and znus. Besides their parents, they had no yidden to serve as role models and give them chizzuk. In that atmosphere, Ephraim and Menashe grew to be as great as the Shvotim, and Yaakov Avinu chose them to be Shivtey Koh alongside his own children. Ephraim and Menashe are the models of Shoshana beyn hachochim, being beautiful roses among thorns. And that’s why we bench our sons to be like Ephraim and Menashe.

Every precious and beautiful Shoshana in this room has her own thorns – her own “tavern”. We have our challenges – our personal struggles and weaknesses. And those struggles are what make us special, valuable, and beautiful. May we be zocheh that HKB”H should say about us, “kishoshano bein hachochim, keyn rayosi beyn habanos.”

Good Shabbos!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I posted this once before and wanted to share it with you again...

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!

We will now be focusing on 6 constant mitzvos that are the building blocks to our love and absolute belief in Hashem!! There will be 5 other videos of charlie harary inspiring us to live our lives in the best way:) stay tuned!!