Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Baby Steps

Focus on the goal, they say.

Keep moving, even if you're taking tiny steps, is what you hear.

In life, sometimes it's hard to stay focused.

Sometimes, the goal seems so far away, so out of reach. It feels...almost frightening to look ahead. To think ahead.

We wonder...what will be?

What does Hashem have in store?

At times like these, it may be helpful to shift your focus. Instead of focusing on the goal, you need to take some time to be present.

Celebrate your little accomplishments.

Focus on the baby steps you are taking. Teeny tiny baby steps that will take you...ever so the place you are hoping to reach.

Because, Hashem is guiding you. He is leading you along the path of life-that is sometimes bumpy, sometimes smooth and sometimes curvy and confusing.

But He is always there...with matter which part of the journey you are on.

And when you are struggling to achieve things that seem way beyond your reach, it can be disheartening...and that's when it's important to stop for a move the lens over...and take note of the small things you are doing that are helping you move forward.

Baby steps.

Little steps.

Movement...sometimes so minuscule it's almost hard to notice how big each step really is.

But it's progress.

And it's better than staying where you are.

Because staying in the same place is really moving backwards.

How so?

If you would be moving one internal inch forward every day, then at the end of the week you will have moved seven inches. But if one day you don't move that one inch, you took a step back, and at the end of the week you've only moved six inches, six inches of internal change. You've lost an inch of change...and you're one step behind.

You've moved back.

Every little step you take is a reason to be proud.

It's tough...but you did it once. And you'll do it again.

Each step you take gives you the motivation, the push, the inner strength to keep going, to keep moving. To take another step. And another. And hopefully another.

Yes, the goal may seem overwhelming when you look at what you are aiming for.

That's why it's so crucial to zoom in on each step, notice and celebrate the little accomplishments...because they will get you to your ultimate goal. 

With each step, you put one step in front of the other...and you will get there.


Only you know.

So go ahead...and take those small steps, one at a time.

And when you fall back, because so many times it does happen, don't get discouraged. You can do it...and you will. Pick yourself up, and start again. Even if you got pushed back to your starting point. Even if it seems so frustrating to have to begin all over again. Even if things seem so difficult. You did it before, you took those small steps...and you were starting to get there. And you will.

Life happens. Some things are not in our control. We don't understand why Hashem makes us experience challenges...but through those tests we will exercise our spiritual muscles.

The only things we can do-and we must do-is try. Again and again.

No matter what, we must keep trying.

We must keep moving.

Tiny, little, baby steps.

Take those at a time.

It will be worth it.

And don't forget to ask Hashem for help along the way. He is guiding you. He is with your side. It may be difficult, but when you remember Who put you through this challenge, you will also remember Who to turn to for help. Because He is always there. Always listening. And always there to help. He is your Father...and He loves you.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Number Eight

Another yartzeit is approaching.

Another year to reflect and remember. 

Another reminder.

A reminder...that life is short.

A reminder...that life goes on.

A reminder...that although there are so many paradoxes in life, they are intertwined. They are connected. Yes, life is short. Yes, losing the life of a loved one is difficult. Yes, the yartzeit is painful. But life does go on. And along with all that, this one day is a powerful tool, a tool that can be used for connection and introspection.

Every year, my family gathers together at the kever of my brother and we daven together. With a minyan of men, kaddish is said and someone makes a siyum.

I always read and reread the words on my brother's tombstone and it strikes me every time I see it. Those words are so true.

Shalom...kishmo kein hu, oheiv v'rodeif shalom.

Shalom...he was like his name, he loved and pursued peace.

I think about life...and how at the end of life all that is left is the mitzvos and good deeds we have done. How sometimes we get distracted and we pursue things that are fleeting...but in the end, all that matters is what kind of person we became, how we have helped those closest to us, what kindness we have done, whose lives we have enriched by touching them...and...what we pursued.

Do we pursue peace?

Do we do what it takes to keep things peaceful? At home? At school? At work? With our neighbors?

What do we pursue? What do we run after?

What are we busy with?

How do we spend our time?

Time...the most precious thing given to us on earth.

Time...we can never get it back.

Time...once a second has passed, it is over.

The only thing left of the time we have here is how we utilize it.

Every year, something new hits me and I take a new message from the yartzeit.

But there are certain messages that are constant, certain reminders that will always be there.

There is so much we want to accomplish in the short time we have in this world. 

And we never know when our last day will be.

Shalom a"h never knew. Did he ever dream that after climbing up the tree, he would fall...and it would be over? Did he ever imagine that this would be the last fun thing he did with his friends...before his soul left him?

He didn't know...and we never know. 

That is not to say that we should live with a constant fear of the unknown, on the contrary, we should try to appreciate the time we have while we have it, the people close to us and whatever we have been blessed with...before it is taken away.

We are here to accomplish, to become better while we are in this world. The biggest message we can take from all of this is-use your time wisely, while the clock ticks, while the heart beats. 

Like R' Scheinberg zt"l said, "You need to cover ground before the ground covers you." 

How powerful.

How true.

May you be able to use the time you have in this world to the fullest, doing good things and making those around you happier. May you be able to grow in your avodas Hashem, in your emunah, in your connection to Hashem and may He give you many opportunities to do mitzvos and good things!

To read more about Shalom a"h whose 8th yartzeit is tomorrow, Wednesday, Yud Zayin Av, click here and here and here.

L'ilui nishmas Shalom ben Chaim Nosson

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


There are some contradictions in the halachos of Tisha B'av that make one wonder about the nature of the day. On one hand, we act like mourners, sit on low chairs, do not wear leather shoes and do not greet one another with a friendly "hello". On the other hand, Tisha B'av is called a Mo'ed, a yom tov-not only because it will be a yom tov when moshiach comes, but because now it can be viewed as a festival. This is why men do not say tachanun-a tefillah that is not recited on yomim tovim and other days of celebration.

How can Tisha B'av be viewed as a festival? Where is the joy in this sad day? And what can we take from the intense mourning of this day...that will bring us some measure of comfort?

The Chasam Sofer explains something interesting about the fact that we still mourn for the Beis Hamikdosh so many years after it was destroyed. There have been many nations in the history of the world who have gone through loss and destruction, yet none of them mourn; they have all been forgotten with the passage of time. Egypt, Spain, Rome-each nation had their high point and then fell. But we, the Jewish People, not only are we still around, but we still cry over our loss, so many years later. 


Our chachamim tell us that there is a gezeirah, a decree from Hashem, that the memory of one who died will fade as time goes on. It is possible for someone who experienced the loss of the death of a loved one to be consoled, to move on and even...even to forget. But because of this same gezeira, if someone mourns someone who they think is dead but really is alive, they will never be able to be consoled. No words, no stories, no inspiration...even the passage of time will ever comfort them. They will not be able to overcome this grief.

In the same way, other nations who have lost their power and greatness, who lost their country, who are no longer a People, can be consoled; they can overcome their loss...because their loss is final, it is complete. There is no hope for them. They will never be able to go back to their previous glory. The status they once held is considered "dead" and they become forgotten as time goes on.

However, the Jewish People can never be consoled over the loss of the Beis Hamikdosh. 

As it says in Megillas Eichah, ein la menachem-they have no one to comfort them. I always saw this as something so sad...for a different reason. When my family sat shiva for my brother, the stream of people coming to comfort us didn't stop. So many people came to try to offer words of consolation and to be there for us, with us in our pain. But when the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed, there was no one to comfort the Jews-for they were all in the same boat. They were all hurting. They were all experiencing famine, death and loss. Who could offer words of comfort in such a setting? No one. They were all in it together.

But that's not what the Chasam Sofer is saying. He takes a whole different spin on that phrase. Why can we not be comforted over the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh? 


Because it is not a permanent destruction. It is not a permanent loss. No matter how much time passes, our hearts still ache, our souls still yearn to return...because we will return. We cannot forget the pain...because it is not a permanent "death", it is but a temporary loss.

As it says in the first passuk in Eichah, ha'ir rabasi am, haysah k'almanah-the city that was great with people has become like a widow. And Rashi says, she is like a widow...but she is not really a widow. She is like a woman whose husband went to a foreign city with the intention of returning to her.

The very fact that we are still crying on Tisha B'av, that we still mourn the loss of the Beis Hamikdosh, that we still long for and hope to return to Yerushalayim, is in itself the greatest source of consolation. The greatest nechama.

This is the reason why Tisha B'av is referred to as a mo'ed, a yom tov, and why those tefillos that are not recited on festivals are omitted on this day. We can feel comforted and yes, even rejoice inside while we mourn...for we know that it is specifically because we are still mourning that we know we will once again return...return to our Father, return to our Land and return to the former glory we as a nation once had.

This shabbos, Shabbos Nachamu, is a time when we can find comfort in the fact that we are still here. We spent Tisha B'av in a mode of longing and yearning, as we (hopefully) cried, wished and hoped for the geula. Although we are still waiting for that day to come, we can be comforted by the fact that it will come...that we have never forgotten...and that our Nation is still alive.

May we be zoche to experience the true nechama and live to see the day come when Kol Hamisabel Al Yerushalayim...all those who mourn over the rebuilding of Yerushalayim...will actually see and experience the joy when the Beis Hamikdosh will finally be rebuilt!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why I Cry

I look up at
The deep blue sky
And slowly
Form in my eyes
And I 
Begin to cry

Why do I cry?

I cry because
When I am in pain
When I am hurting
I know how to cry
It's almost...easy
The tears just come

When I am overwhelmed life struggles challenges difficulties
I know how to cry
Those tears
Spring forth from my eyes

So why?
Is it so hard to cry?
When the month of Av
Comes around
And I should be thinking
Hashem's pain
Hashem's loss
Our pain
Our loss
A house that once was
A nation that once was
The glory that once was
A relationship that once was

Why can't I cry?
Why don't I feel the pain
Why is it
So hard to feel
To make it real
To me?

When I'm having it hard
When someone hurts me
Those tears flow
So freely

When I'm simply taken over
By so many little things
And sometimes
Sometimes bigger things

I can cry

But...Hashem's pain?!
The thought of the kosel
The thought of the shechina in galus
The thought of all that we are missing?
Why doesn't that make me cry?
As simply
As effortlessly
As easily
As my own pain?
As my own life?

I lift my eyes
Up to Your skies
I think about
Close to me
That hurt me
That touch me
That inspire me
To cry

And I realize...
They are all connected.

It may be easier
For me
To shed tears
Over personal losses
Over personal hurts
Over personal frustrations personal life

And I see
I understand
That it all comes from
The same place

A place of emotion
A place of longing
Of yearning
And of hoping

So...although I may not
Be able to cry
Shed real tears
Over bigger losses
Bigger pain
Deeper losses
Deeper pain
I know...
That inside
My heart is crying

And Hashem
Who is bochain libos u'chelayos
Who knows
Who sees
And Who understands
The inner workings
The inner chambers
Of my heart

He knows
He sees
And He understands

The inner sigh
The inner cry

Real tears.

I lift up my eyes
Look up at the shimmering blue sky
Without real tears
But I cry inside 
And Hashem
I cry.

May we reach the day of u'macha Hashem dim'ah mei'al kol panim. Amen.

Monday, July 1, 2013

God’s Invisible Love-A Poem

A friend of mine, LDL, shared the following poem she wrote and gave me permission to post it here.

Sometimes, when you read something and you know who it is coming from, it has a much stronger impact. Although you don't know her, the author of this poem has experienced a lot in her life. The fact that she was still able to write these words, even though she has been through so much makes reading it all the more powerful.

Sometimes when we don’t think and are in pain
We feel like in our life there is no gain
Shattered broken and alone
With nowhere to go

Keep in mind there is someone that cares
He is high up in the sky
Not a day goes by
Even with our fears
Know for us he is there

God listens to our cry
And wipes our tears
He is hugging us tight
And whispers, it will be alright

Someday you will see
That all was meant to be
Its just in the moment
When were numb and blind
Worrying that happiness we wont find

God is smiling to you
Saying, I love you my dear
I might be invisible
But I see your tears

I am holding your hand
Don’t be scared
It’s time to let go my child
With closed eyes
I spread my wings
Let go of my pain
Its time to fly

I know he’s here
Always at my side
Watching from above
Showering me with his love.