Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Kabballos and Segulos

While my (husband's) grandfather was sick, I took something really small upon myself as a zechus for his refuah shelaima. The situation did not look good and from a medical standpoint there was nothing left to do. The doctors gave him six months to a year to live and all that was left to do was to pray. And pray we did. 

Kabballos. It's an interesting thing. Why do we take things upon ourselves as a zechus for ourselves or other people? Why do we do it?

I knew why I was doing it. Yes, I was doing it as a zechus for my grandfather's refuah...so that he should get better and outlive the doctors prediction. But what would happen if that was not meant to be? What if Hashem had other plans?

When we take something upon ourselves for a specific reason, as a zechus for a specific thing and then we do not get what we wanted, we are in big danger. We are playing around with something very serious-our emunah in Hashem.

Do we believe that when we do something good and ask Hashem for something in return, he will definitely give it to us? If He does not give it to us-be it acceptance into a specific school, camp or seminary, the job or shidduch we want within the time frame that we ask for it, or a yeshuah in a personal matter-will we stop believing in Him or in the power of our good deeds?

That can be very dangerous. 

We don't understand Hashem's ways. We don't understand why He says yes sometimes and no at other times. Why is it that sometimes when someone does a segulah (warning: hazardous word!) or a specific good deed as a zechus for something they want, does it sometimes work and sometimes it does not?


First, it is not meant to "work". This is not a business deal. Hashem does not operate the way a vending machine operates. Put in a coin, press a button and get what you want. 

Is that what we are here for? To try to manipulate Hashem into giving us whatever we desire?

Of course not.

We are here to work on ourselves. To become better, more giving, caring people. People who follow the Torah, do the mitzvos and keep the halachos we are meant to keep. 

So when we take something upon ourselves, we need to remember WHY we are doing it. We are saying more tehillim so we can connect to Hashem more. We are giving tzeddakah so we can become more caring, sensitive and benevolent people. We learn more halachos so we can start to keep them. We say brachos properly and slowly so we can increase our appreciation to Hashem for the good that He gives us. 

If Hashem chooses to give us more good after we did something extra, kol hakavod. That's wonderful. But that's not why we should be taking these good things upon ourselves. That shouldn't be the goal.

Why not?

Because what happens when we do not get it? What happens when Hashem has other plans? 

We loose faith in the whole system. The system that we set up for ourselves that is not real, that is not true.

I'm sure there are people who can go on and on with stories of tried and true segulos...things that they say "worked". And guess what? For all those stories, I am sure that there are stories of segulos-those same ones-that people did...and did not "work". I know plenty of them. For whatever reason, Hashem did not send that yeshuah, did not send that shidduch, give that couple a child, cure that sick person...and either it had to wait or it didn't happen at all.

My grandfather passed away on Friday. 

When I took that teeny thing upon myself, something I knew was doable yet would take work and constant concentration and focus on my part, I don't think I thought about the end result. If he would make it or not. I just wanted his life to be prolonged, for him not to feel pain...for him to be healed. I knew I was asking for a miracle. And I knew that Hashem could do anything. 

But...now that it's over, will I stop? Will I be angry at Hashem for not giving me what I wanted? Do I have any regrets for taking something not-so-easy upon myself?

No way.

And I will continue doing what I've been doing. I will not stop. It will be a zechus for his neshama to go higher...and it will also have an affect on me. I will become a little different by keeping at it. 

If this kabballah helps me be different, follow one halacha the way it was meant to be done, increase my awareness of Hashem in my life in just a small way, it was worth it. I have no regrets for doing something and not getting what I wanted. Of course, I wish he would be healed, I wish my grandfather could come back to life and we'd have more time to spend together...but that part is in Hashem's hands. 

I needed to do mine. 

And I did.

Without expectations.

And I will not stop.

Hashem gives, Hashem takes...yehi sheim Hashem mevorach. May Hashem's name be blessed. 

May this post be a zechus for the neshama of David ben Aharon a"h to go higher. May you continue to look down at us with pride and may the mitzvos we do every day elevate your soul.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Today-Yud Aleph Cheshvan

I posted the following thought in the past, but I want to share it with you again and add a little more to it this time.

Today, Yud Aleph Cheshvan is Rachel Imeinu's yartzeit. It is a very powerful day, a day when our tefillos can be accepted on a deeper level.
I remember learning the following in 10th grade from my teacher, Reb. Slomowitz…(b’shem omro, I hope it brings the geulah real quick because we really need it!)

When we speak about Rachel Imeinu, we say, “Kol B’ramah nishma…Rachel mivaka al baneha ki eineinu…” a voice is heard on high…Rachel is crying about her children…

The word mivaka seems to be grammatically incorrect. The definition of mivaka is to cause someone else to cry. The question is, why do we use this term for cry? If Rachel is crying for us on high, (as we know that Hashem says that her tears are going to bring the geula, not the tears of any of the avos) why is the term "causing to cry" used?! It should probably say, Rachel boche, Rachel "is crying" because she is constantly crying for us to come out of galus!

The answer is, that Rachel Imeinu is crying because we Jews are not crying! She is trying to get us to cry out of the pain of galus because we seem to forget where we are. Hashem puts us through so much pain and suffering in galus and our job is to cry out to Him and BEG Him to take us out! But instead, we try to ignore the pain we are in and try to run away from it by using all sorts of escapes and distractions. We forget that we are in galus by making ourselves comfortable here. We try to enjoy life to the fullest instead of remembering that we are supposed to be davening to come out. What we have to do now is cry out to Hashem and beg and plead for Him to take us out!

I realized today...how often do we think about this? How often does the fact that we are in galus cross our mind?

Not too often, probably.

We cry out to Hashem to help us deal with our personal problems, we ask Him to bring yeshuos, refuos, give parnassah and bless us with peace and happiness. But do we remember to ask Him to redeem us?

So today, let's take a minute to think about it, really think about it. 

And daven. And ask. 

Rachel is trying to get us to cry, to feel uncomfortable in galus. If you've ever been at her kever, you will experience yourself what it means to see people come there and cry out to their mother-as if she is their real mother. People daven, beg and plead for their personal yeshuah to come. They cry on her kever as if it is their mother's shoulder. I've seen it. I've done it too. It is a special feeling...a feeling of close connection and love and...something that's hard to describe in words. To come out of there feeling as if you unburdened yourself and left a part of you with Someone who heard is incredible. 

Although we cannot be there today, let's take the message of this day into our hearts and daven to Hashem to take us out of this galus.

It's time...don't you think?!

One day-hopefully soon-Hashem will tell Rachel Imeinu, “Minee koleich m’bechee v’einayich midim’ah,” Rachel, you can stop crying, because “v’shavu banim ligevulam,” Bnei Yisroel will return to their boundaries!

May we all have the zechus to see these very words come true!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Special Moments

My friend, R.P. wrote this after she went to a simchas beis hasho'eiva and gave me permission to post it here. Can you relate to this? Has it ever happened to you?

Sometimes I feel a real deep inner feeling
Deep inside me
That is fulfilling
And I wonder about it
And I realize
That it's moments of real deep inner connection with you, Hashem
It's feelings of a complete sense of inner happiness and peace
It's sparks of true inspiration that you send throughout my life
It's the peak of what I can reach and live up to
But it's only a few moments long
And as soon as it's gone,
The desire grows stronger,
And I want it back,
But I know the work is up to me,
To take those precious moments
And try as much as I can to reach that peak of what I felt
And to make it a part of me,
To be everlasting.
Those moments also help me continue and move on, when it's becomes hard
When you feel so far away
And I remember about them
And it becomes easier for me
Those moments are a special gift from you, Hashem.
I just want to thank you for them.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

So Lucky

I love our nation. I am so lucky to be part of the Jewish People. I know it good and well but there are times that I feel it.

Yesterday was one of those times.

I was waiting quite a long time for a bus and my baby was getting antsy. After a few minutes of kvetching to come out, I took him out of the stroller.

"Cuppa." He was thirsty. His sippy cup was empty. He got mad.
And he started to cry.
I had no time to go buy another water bottle for him because the bus showed up just then.

(First moment)
I was holding my cranky baby in one hand and wheeling the stroller towards the bus with the other when a girl came over, held onto the bottom of  the stroller and helped me onto the bus. No questions asked, of course! This is what Jewish people do! 

I couldn't pay the driver with my screaming baby in my arms. I wheeled the stroller to the back of the bus while struggling to calm him down. One woman held the stroller in place so it shouldn't roll away. When another woman saw me holding the money but unable to get to the front to pay the driver, she offered to do it for me. And she did. (That's moment number two and three.)

A few minutes later, my baby still yelling (and kicking :)) and refusing to sit in his stroller or on a seat, a mother offered to give him a bag of chips. (moment number four.)
I thanked her but explained that he just had a whole bag of chips while we were waiting for the bus. Now he was thirsty but there was no more water left in his sippy cup.

Within seconds, another woman reached into her bag and pulled out a new water bottle and gave it to me. She refused to let me pay for it. (moment number five.)
As soon as my son saw the water bottle, he started to calm down. I opened it, poured some water into his sippy cup and the bus was completely quiet...all eyes were on my baby drinking with such intensity. He was thirsty.

The bus got to my stop but my baby was still not strapped into his stroller. I didn't have to blink before a young girl stepped in front of me and helped me off the bus. After all, this is what is done. There was no need for me to ask anyone for help! (moment number six.

Thank you, all the mothers and girls on the bus who showed their care and concern for another Jewish woman, another little crying baby. I doubt you'll be reading this, but I do want to thank you from the bottom of my bursting heart-bursting with pride to be part of a nation like ours. 

Thank you, Hashem, for giving us the Torah that teaches us how to treat others with such love.

I feel so lucky. So lucky to be part of a nation that instills good middos and ahavas chinam into the hearts of their young children...children who grow up to be caring mothers, not just caring about their own children, but caring about all of Hashem's children.

May the zechus of the ahavas chinam displayed and the incredible "Mi K'amcha Yisroel" feeling I experienced yesterday bring so much bracha and gezeiros tovos onto our special nation. May we be able to unite in ways like these-doing chessed for one another throughout the year.