Sunday, March 22, 2015


I'm still reeling.

I can't digest this. The enormity of this tragedy...the depth of this pain...It's just to much. 

How will these parents go on?


How can it be that a beautiful family of 8 children is suddenly reduced to a family with just one child? A girl who until now had 7 siblings is now an only child. How can that be?

I have so many questions. Questions I'll (probably) never get answers to.

There are no answers when something so big and so incredibly sad happens.

It's just too much.


I don't know. 

We can't know. 

We can't understand Hashem's ways.

We don't know why this had to happen.

But...I need to take a message. I need to do something. I can't just cry without changing.

I think about fire. has such power. 

With fire, one can cook food on the stove, light up a dark room and bring warmth into a cold place. Fire brings peace onto a family when shabbos candles are lit.

But fire can also be so destructive. It can burn a house, it can take people's lives.

It all depends on how it is used.

I think about that. I think about it good and hard. 

There are many things that have this power. The power to build, the power to destroy.

Our words.

Our time.

Our phones.

The internet.

How do we use...Our words?

Are we building or destroying? Are we bringing people up or knocking them down?

How do we use...Our time?

Are we using it constructively, building, doing, changing? Or are we letting time pass, wasting precious moments by not fully being present, by doing things that destroy our souls?

How do we use...Our phones? 

Do we use them to build...relationships? To bring people up? To listen, support, encourage, share positive things? Or are we using those phones to say things that are mean, hurtful and so destructive? 

How do we use...the internet? 

It is such a powerful tool. But just like fire, if it is not used properly, if it is not contained, it will destroy. Our lives, or souls, our relationships...and our very own children. 

Are we building or destroying? Are we creating or ruining....with the very special gifts we've been blessed with?

I can't know why this happened. No one can know. But I can ask the other kind of why. Like R' Rietti says, maduah and lamah both mean why. Maduah, which comes from da, keeps a person in the past. They want to know, to understand...the details, what caused this and what the reasons are. But we can't really know why it had to happen. Why Hashem gave us such a terrible blow. 

The second why, Lamah, comes from Li-mah, to what. What is this bringing me to? How will this horrific tragedy propel me to make changes, to move forward, to become better?

THAT is the only why each of us can answer.

Maybe we can each spend some time thinking about why...what this can bring us to change.

Very soon, we will be burning our chometz, getting rid of the ten pieces of bread we hid after cleaning our houses for pesach. 

Can we also look through our closets, drawers and shelves to see if there is anything in there that should be burned in that fire? Do we have clothing, books, cds or magazines that are not good for our neshamos? Are we hurting our souls with the things we are feeding it?

Let's rid our homes and our souls of things that are not good for our spirituality.

Let us throw the negative forces into the fire, purify our souls so that we can give meaning to the only why we can answer.

May Hashem comfort the Sassoon family...because we cannot think of words of comfort. May Hashem comfort each of us with the ultimate nechama in this month of geula so soon.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Davening For Others

Although Purim is over, we can continue to take messages from this special time throughout the month of Adar...and beyond. I want to share one powerful lesson right from Megillas Esther with you.

Before Queen Esther went to face Achashveirosh, she told Mordechai she would be fasting and asked him to have the Jews fast and daven too. She had not been called by the king in 30 days and feared for her life. If he would not stick out his royal scepter in favor of his queen, she'd be put to death. It was terrifying.

At the same time, the Jews also had the threat of death hanging over their heads. As per Haman's decree, all Jews were to be killed on the fourteenth day of Adar. One reason for this terrible gezaira was because the Jews ate at the party of Achashveirosh. To be mechaper for this aveirah of eating and drinking, the Jews did not eat or drink for three days and nights. They were allowed to do other things that are forbidden on some fasts, like smearing creams and lotions because that was not part of their original sin. When they fasted and davened, they did teshuva and returned to Hashem with all their hearts, accepting the Torah upon themselves with love.

It is interesting that when Esther sent the message to Mordechai to have everyone fast, the words used are, "tzumu alay"-fast for me. Why did she say "for me"? 

We know, "hamispalel b'ad chaveiro..." if someone davens for someone else and they need the same thing, they are answered first. Why? How does this work?

In shamayim, they are so used to hearing people daven for things they need. When someone davens for another person, it makes a huge impact Up There.

When you daven for a friend, it's because you are in pain that they are having it hard. When Hashem sees that u care so much about someone else, to the extent that their pain becomes yours, that you take the time to daven for them, He looks at you and says, what about what YOU are going thru? I'm going to give you, the one davening, a yeshuah. 

Esther's message to the Mordechai was, if the Jews daven for me that I shouldn't die when I go to Achashveirosh and they are supposed to die, Hashem will save them from the decree of death! By focusing on Esther's pain and fears when they too are experiencing pain and don't know if they will live or die, Hashem will look down at them and remove the terrible gezaira from all of them.

Why do we daven for others? Because we want to have our own tefillos answered or because we genuinely care?

Why do we give tzeddakah? So that we should get the shidduch/job/yeshuah we're waiting for within a specified amount of time or because we want to become givers?

We (should) daven for others because we really care about what they are going through. We (should) give tzeddakah because we want to become more sensitive and more giving to others...not so we can get the yeshuah we are waiting for within a certain time frame.

May we be able to do good things for the right reasons, davening for others and watching those tefillos (and our own) get answered, becoming more sensitive and caring human beings.

Isn't that what life's about?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Purim Poem-Meaning

I know it's almost a week after Purim, but I didn't get to post my Purim poem for this year. So, here goes... :-)

Purim is a day when we celebrate
A miracle that was really great
With Haman’s decree we were to be annihilated
But then it all turned around in a way no one could have anticipated
What was the real reason for this decree?
It was because the Jews ate and drank at Achashveirosh’s party
By mixing with the goyim to this degree
They were showing they cut off from Hashem completely
And since Hashem is the Source of life, the only one who gives
They lost their chance, they could not be allowed to live
But after fasting and davening and crying their hearts out
The Jews began yearning and returning, there was no doubt
For once they turned to Hashem, they finally realized
That the Torah and mitzvos are a treasure, a real prize
And once they did that, they connected to the source
They were deserving of life-real life of course
So the V’nahapoch Hu of Purim was a true turnover
A literal techiyas hameisim for the Jews in Shushan and all over
They wouldn’t be killed by the goyim who were given permission to
Instead they could fight back so they could stay alive and start anew
Now the message we can take on this Purim day
Beyond the costumes and themes and partying away
Is that a life with meaning and true connection
Where we strive to be our best, even if we can’t achieve perfection
That’s what really counts and adds life to our every year
We need to recognize the treasure we have, the Torah we hold so dear
And add meaning to our lives, to our every day
So that in a year from now, we can look back and say
“I am so proud of where I am and what I achieved
I became better, stronger, closer, more connected to the King of Kings!”
For that is our goal in our life here on earth
To fill each day with deeds and actions that have eternal worth
My bracha to you is that you should be able to make the right choices
Even when you are pulled in many directions and hear different voices
May you have the clarity to know and the strength to do the right thing
And may each day of your life be filled with true meaning
May you be able to internalize the message of Purim and take it to heart
Living each day to the fullest-today’s the best day to start!

A Freilichen Purim!