Friday, December 28, 2012

Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

I wanted to share a very powerful and inspiring message from this weeks parshah, Parshas Vayechi. Before Yaakov blessed Menashe and Efrayim, he said to Yosef, "Panecha lo pilalti v'hinei her'ah osi elokim gam es zarecha"-I did not imagine seeing your face, and here G-d has shown me even your offspring! (Artscroll translation)

We see from here something incredible. Sometimes, when we are in a difficult situation, we don't see a way out. There is no light to look out for or even attempt to get close to the end of the tunnel and we are too engulfed in darkness and pain. But a Jew must remember, Hashem could do anything!

When you are going through hardships, and can't begin to imagine an outcome anywhere near where your mind wishes it can go, keep in mind that Hashem could take you even further than that. the single girl going through a difficult family situation and wishing for a way out of her pain, to the childless couple waiting, wishing and hoping for the day when they too will become parents, to the parents running from doctor to doctor with their sick child, to the breadwinner struggling with finances...and to everyone else in between-working through their own day-to-day challenges, know that Hashem is with you every step of the way...and He can bring you a yeshua that surpasses your wildest dreams!

Look at Yaakov Avinu and how he was told that his most precious, beloved son died. Did he ever dream he would see the day where he would be blessing his own grandchildren, the offspring of his son he thought was no longer among the living?

This is the message we can take from this weeks parsha.

When things seem so overwhelming and you can't see a way out of your problems, when everything seems too big and you just want to give up, remember this message and let it empower you to keep pushing, to keep going.

Hashem doesn't need ideas from you of how to get out of your current situation and how to change things for the better. When you daven to Him from he depths of your soul, ask Him to take you out of your darkness in a way that He sees fit. In a way that only He can do. He can take you to far off places..,places further than your imagination has ever gone to!

Imagine for a moment, a holocaust survivor, holding her grandson in her arms...watching him grow and mature into a young man...sitting at his bar mitzvah...and then rejoicing at his wedding. Then...she gets to experience even more joy in her old age. Her grandson becomes a father...and she becomes a great grandmother. Would she have ever pictured the moment when she would hold a great grandchild in her arms, sitting on the couch surrounded by her growing family of grandchildren and great grandchildren? When she was going through so much pain in her younger years, during the holocaust, her mind could not have stretched that far. But here she is. She lived to see he day, to experience nachas and joy that cannot be described in words. And it was Hashem who brought her to this point.

May you be able to continue trusting in and holding on to Hashem no matter what He throws your way and may He surprise you with brachos and yeshuos beyond your wildest dreams!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Asara B'Teves-a Poem

Many, many years ago
The siege began
Jews walking to and fro
Not allowed in or out
It took time
Became less available
As it was consumed
Consumed our People
People began to die
Slow, painful death
Death of hunger
Death of thirst
So much pain
All over the streets
Of Jerusalem
Today was the day
It all began
Today was the beginning
Of this bitter plan
Hashem let out His anger
On a building of stone
And now we are left
So much kedusha
Is gone
So much pain
In its place
We are so far way
Oh so far away
From our Source
From our Father
From where we should be
Is a day
When we fast
Stay away from
And drink
For what purpose?
To think
To think thoughts
Thoughts of teshuva
Thoughts of change
Thoughts of reflection
And introspection
And correction
So even those
Who are eating
And drinking
On this day
It's not about the food
From which we stay away
It's about what's going on
Inside of you
The soul
The soul of every single Jew
Should be the source
The source of change
Inner change
Instead of
The change that began
On this very day
So many years ago
When the siege began
No one allowed
Or out
The source
The beginning
Of ultimate
Let today be
The beginning
Of change
Of transformation
Of becoming
A better you
So together
Every Jew
Can merit
The rebuilding
Of that holy building
Bimheira Biyameinu

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Concept

I'm sitting with my son talking to him when I notice a bruise on his lip. He's a fairly wild kid with bundles of energy, so it's not unusual for him to bang himself.

"When did you get that boo boo?" I ask him.

"Tomorrow." he says.

I love his answers. I love how he expresses himself. It's adorable.

Sometimes his responses to when things happened are things like yesterday or last totally off the mark when I put it in context.

My favorite one is... "Remember when we went to the zoo? Tell me, when did we go?"

His response..."Last morning."

It's too cute.

My son has no real concept of time. Yes, he understands it in his head, and that's where everything makes sense to him, but he cannot express it correctly. He cannot show that he really gets it. It may sound like he doesn't know what he's talking about, but from the look of concentration on his face, I know that he gets it. He just doesn't know how to say it.

Hashem doesn't either have a concept of time. But it's not because He doesn't get it...not at all. It's because He is so way above us that He is not bound by things that are limited like time.

Hashem is unlimited. He can do anything. He created the world and everything in it. He watches over me and you every moment of the day. Each thing that happens to me is calculated, is measured, is exact.

And since He is so much greater than each of us, He cannot be confined. There is no concept of time when it comes to Hashem.

Do I fully get it?

Not really...but I'm trying. And my son opened my mind a little bit...and he's helping me learn.

There is no yesterday, tomorrow...or even last morning.

It's all one.

Hashem Echod...Hashem is One.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When There's a Way Out

The story of Chana and her seven sons.

It's a story that is so hard to understand.

How did a mother watch all her children, one after the next, get killed?

Was she proud that they stood up for what was right?

That they didn't give in?

Did she wish one of them would have succumbed?

Will we ever know?

I want to focus on a different part of this story for a minute.

When the last child, the youngest of all seven, stood before the king and was asked to bow down, he refused. Just like all his brothers.

The king had mercy on this little innocent child. He decided to give him a little opening, a chance to remain alive. He threw his ring to the ground and asked the child if he would pick up the ring. Although this would mean bowing down to the idol, since that wouldn't be the little boy's intention, it would be fine...right? He would just be bending down to pick up the ring of the king. Wouldn't that be okay?

His life would be spared. He would be able to continue living! Should he do it? Would he do it?


The child, this pure, little innocent child did not give in. He did not grab on to his last hope for life. He saw a loophole-an opportunity to do something just a teeny bit wrong but a little right at the same time. And he didn't give in.

How many times in life are we open to loopholes? How many times do we see a way out and we run?

Can we remain strong? Stick to our convictions? Stick to what's right and do it even when it's hard?

Just something to think about...and a powerful lesson to take from a little child who gave up his life so as not to do the wrong thing...even when there was such an easy way out.

Such strength.

Such rock-solid emunah he must have had to be able to withstand a split-second test.

I am jealous of his mother.

Not for what she had to go through...but for the chinuch she gave her children so they were able to withstand such an incredible test. Each and every one of them was able to overcome it.

May you be able to stay strong and do what is right...even when there's a way to escape...even when no one will know.

Because Hashem Above always knows. He sees the deepest parts of your heart...that no one else will know about. He understands your challenges and your struggles.

May you always be able to stick to doing what is right.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lingering at the Chanukah Candles

I heard something about Chanukah that I wanted to share with you.

There are specific halachos of what types of wicks are allowed to be used when lighting candles for shabbos. Interestingly, certain wicks that are not permitted to be used for shabbos candles are allowed to be used to light the Chanukah menorah.

There is an amazing lesson we can take from this.

We know that a flame is compared to the neshama of a person like it says, ner Hashem nishmas adam.

We can see from here the those neshamos who are not affected by the kedushah of shabbos, who are not touched by the purity and holiness of the shabbos candles, can be affected by the Chanukah lights. There is something so special and uplifting about the Chanukah candles that it can touch anybody and can bring them to greater heights in their avodas Hashem.

The key is to let it in. To open up your heart and to let the purity of the flames enter your very being and allow it to penetrate your soul.

I think the answer to how you can be affected by the holiness of the Chanukah candles is dependent on what you do after those candles are lit. Do you quickly walk away and get busy with other things or do you linger there for a bit longer?

You can spend a little bit of time at the menorah after the flames have been lit and let the fire ignite your soul. Just look at the candles, at those burning lights.



And pray.

Use those few moments at the candles...for a spiritual awakening...for growth and inspiration.

Talk to Hashem.

He's your Father.

He's listening to you.

Tell Him about whatever is inside you. Things that are bothering you. Things you want. Changes you'd like to see in your life. Changes you wish you can see in yourself. Ask Him for help.

And...don't forget to thank Him. He gives you so much blessing. Think about those things too...and show your appreciation.

The time you spend at the candles can be utilized for moments of introspection and connection.


There is something interesting about candles. If you hold it in your hand, no matter which way you turn the candle, the flame will always be reaching upwards.

And the same is true with a neshama, with every Jewish soul. No matter which way you turn it, no matter what situation a person is in, there is always that pintele yid, that Jewish flame inside of them. There is always a yearning to become better. A Jew can be put in the most trying situation but their soul is like a flame, always reaching upwards-to greater spiritual levels.

When you stand in front of the Chanukah menorah this year, look at the candles and watch the flames go higher. Let that little spark, that pintele yid inside your soul be ignited by the beauty of the Chanukah candles. Daven to Hashem to help you reach higher heights in your avodas Hashem, to keep climbing up and up just like those candles.

And may the flame and excitement inside your heart never be you can take this special inspiration with you long after Chanukah is gone.

Have a happy and enlightening Chanukah!