Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. 

There are so many messages to take from this eight-day holiday that illuminates our long, dark winter. 

Besides for the miracle of the Chanukah lights-that although there was only enough oil for one night, it burned for an additional seven nights, there was also an amazing victory of rabbim beyad me'atim-the large army was given over into the hands of the few. The Jews had no chance of winning this war, yet they went out and fought. They placed their trust in Hashem, davened to Him and did what they had to do.

What a lesson for us to take! 

As Jews, we need to stop holding on to studies and statistics and place our trust in Hashem. We need to do our hishtadlus, do what needs to be done in our personal situations and then let go of all those predictions.

There are statistics now for just about everything.

The amount of car accidents, infant deaths, people living with depression...the list goes on and on.

The percentage of Americans who are still unemployed, searching for jobs.

Statistics can be frightening. They can make us look at the numbers and give up hope.

The amount of people who will never recover from specific cancers.

The amount of people who will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. 
I just heard a crazy statistic for that. One in two people will have a diagnosis. Does that make sense?! How could a human being live with such a fear...knowing that they might be one of the two "chosen" to deal with a life-threatening illness? And the way they say it can be prevented it is by taking care of our bodies, eating healthfully and going to a doctor every so often to make sure our bodies are in check. But assuming we do all that, we can't know what will be. We must remember that ultimately our health is in Hashem's hands. 

There are studies for how many people die each year from unnatural causes. 

For the amount of babies born with birth defects or health issues.

And for the amount of families living below the poverty level.

And for the effects of certain foods on our bodies-to the extent that if everything is taken so literally, I think we would stop eating each fruit and vegetable and live on water alone because there is a danger connected to every single one. Many of them can increase the intensity of migraines (if you are one of those who suffer from them) and stopping to eat just about everything should be able to make them go away, right? :) And no chocolate of course! Who can live without chocolate? Not I... :-)

There are statistics stating how many children grow up in single parent homes, whether because of separation, divorce or the death of one of their parents. 

It's scary to see these numbers.

And then someone came along and added to these statistics-the percentage of girls who will never get married. That made me really angry. How could they publish studies like this and take away the hope of girls who are waiting to move on with their lives?? Did they take into account that there is a Ribbono Shel Olam who runs the world and that He designated someone for everyone? There are girls who get married for the first time to someone who was married before. Was that taken into account too? The amount of men who either lost their wives or got divorced and were looking to remarry...and married one of those single girls? I'm not saying this is the only answer, but statistics like these upset me. If publicizing the numbers the way it was done will cause more pain to girls in shidduchim, I don't know that it was the right thing to do.

At the end of the day, we must remember Who is in charge, Who runs the show.

And this is the message we can take from Chanukah.

As Jews, we need to release our grasp on those numbers and strengthen our hold on Hashem. We need to rely on doctors, shadchanim, neighbors and friends a little less and depend on Hashem a little more.

The chashmonaim didn't take the numbers into account. If they would have had a full count of the amount of soldiers and elephants coming towards them, would they have tried to lift an arrow? But they went out. And they fought. 

And they won.

Rabbim beyad me'atim.

Because statistics don't mean anything when Hashem is the one fighting.

And when they went searching for a jug of oil and there was none to be found, did they give up hope and say it was statistically impossible to find one? 


They kept searching.

And when they found just one, they lit it, even though from a statistical standpoint there was no chance for the menorah to keep burning until they would have more oil to light it again.

And it stayed lit.

Because when Hashem is keeping the flame alive, it will not get extinguished.

This Chanukah, when you stand before the menorah and watch the man of the house light it-or if you will be home lighting on your own, take this message of emunah into your hearts. Let your faith in Hashem go up one notch as you internalize this powerful message of Chanukah. Of never giving up hope. Of letting go of the numbers. Of holding on to Hashem.

Because statistically, realistically, He can do anything.

Happy Chanukah!

Monday, November 25, 2013

When There's a Way Out

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

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.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fwd: Fwd: Fwd:

We've all gotten one of them at some point. A text or email asking us to daven for someone who is sick. 

What is your natural reaction to one of those forwards? Do you pass it on? Do you say tehillim first? Do you just delete the message?

There are some people who are quick to pass on tehillim names. The email or text comes in, they pass it on and feel satisfied that they did theirs. They may even forget to say the perek because they were busy figuring out which ten people (or more if they really want to feel righteous :)) they could pass the name on to.

I have a problem with tehillim forwards. 

They have made us so callous. Unfortunately, they are sent around so often that it's hard to take heart. To see each name as an individual. As a person suffering who really needs our tefillos

There are times that emails are sent around and around and around without verifying where they came from and if the person still needs those tefillos. It is sad. I personally have gotten tehillim names after a person passed away r"l or after the person was healed. I've gotten emails about the surgery that was going to be "TODAY" in big bold letters...and I've had to scroll down through names and email addresses, only to see that the surgery took place a week and a half before.

So I decided to do what I think makes sense. I don't forward tehillim names unless I know-firsthand-who the person is and what their condition is. 

I'm not so rigid though. If a friend is passing on a name and she can speak to someone who knows the choleh firsthand, I'll pass it on too. The main thing is that the name shouldn't become another one on the list that is just mumbled without feeling. I don't need specific details of how the person is doing, I just need to get some kind of update so I know whether or not the person still needs those tefillos

So what about all those forwards?

I don't pass them on.

Instead, I say one perek of tehillim for that person and pray to Hashem that he/she be healed. 

Passing on the names without knowing anything about the person makes it so cheap. We don't value the person behind the tehillim name anymore. We don't feel with them.

Of course, there is something special about the way we can pass on a name within minutes and how people stop whatever they are doing to daven for someone who is sick. 

But at what cost?

We have lost our hearts.

We have lost the feeling behind a name. 

We have lost the personal touch.

When we were little girls in elementary or high school and someone came in and wrote their grandfather's name on the blackboard, we all davened with such fervor, with such intensity, begging Hashem to heal our fellow classmate's grandfather. 


Names are passed around like old news.

And it's sad. 

Sad that our hearts have become hardened. Sad that we don't take on each name we hear with the seriousness and emotion it deserves.

But what can we do?

We get too many names, too many forwards, r"l and the list keeps growing. And we have no idea who sent it and why we are saying tehillim for each specific choleh.

When we know what their situation is, it makes it so much more real to us...and we could daven with more feeling.

I don't know if there is a solution to this. Unfortunately, there are so many names, so many people who need our tefillos...and we are not capable of healing them.

But there is one thing we can try to do. 

We can try to connect to the ones we do know. We can daven for the sick people we do feel connected to...and beg Hashem, the only One who can, to heal them.

As for the other names that are passed around, I think it is best to say a perek for them and ask the one who sent it if they can give you updates so you can know if you need to keep davening. 

Please, let's try not to make these names just another name. Forwarding tehillim names non-stop takes away the heart. Say your perek. Don't forward just to feel good about yourself. It only cheapens the growing list of cholim. It chips away at the emotions in our hearts and holds us back from feeling along with those who are fighting to live.

May Hashem have rachmanus on all the sick children, parents, grandparents...on every single patient and may He heal each of them with a complete refuah shelaima
May He listen to the heartfelt tefillos of those who are davening for these cholim and let them experience nissim-so they can show the doctors, nurses and medical staff who really runs the world and how powerful our tefillos are!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Light in the Darkness

Today is Rosh Chodesh Kislev. 

Kislev is the month of miracles. It is also the month where we can find light in the darkness, find hope in the midst of despair, find an inner spark of strength that will help us carry on.

It is starting to get dark earlier. The clock was just changed and the days are getting shorter. You must remember that morning follows every dark night. Every single one. No matter how dark things may be, there is always a little flicker of hope. Of trusting Hashem that things can and will change for the better. 

Hashem can do anything! He has the ability, resources and the power to cause anything in our lives to change at any given moment. With our limited eyesight, we sometimes think we know what it will take to make those things happen, but Hashem is beyond our understanding. He doesn't have a human brain and doesn't "think" in human terms. He is so above us and so capable of anything, that he can perform miracles-because He is our G-d. 

Golel ohr mipnei choshech v'choshech mipnei ohr-Hashem rolls away light before darkness and darkness before light. It is a cycle of light and dark, but the light will always follow the dark night. Life has ups and downs, there are times when we feel weak and want to give up and times when we feel empowered to face our fears, to move forward and to keep trying. Who gives us this strength? 


Who makes day follow night? Every single night?


When you go to sleep at night, you know without a shadow of doubt that when you wake up in the morning, it will be day. It may be dark, rainy and gloomy some days, but it will be a new day. A chance to start fresh, to leave yesterday behind you and to try again, to correct yesterdays errors and to make today better. You never doubted that morning will come again. 

Perhaps you can instill that same rock-solid faith in your heart, knowing, really knowing, that after the dark time there will be light. That Hashem will send a yeshuah, that He will help you through your challenges and instill strength and willpower to keep going, to keep trying...and He will make things better for you. That it will not stay dark forever.

And just like the chashmonaim found a teeny jug of oil that kept the light of the menorah burning for eight days, may whatever little light you have to hold on to keep you going, keep your inner flame burning and may you see miracles in your own life and in the lives of those around you.

A gutten Chodesh!