Daily Emunah Given Daily by Rabbi David Ashear. Please check back frequently to get the latest content.
If a person is going through a struggle, although he is hoping to get himself out of it as soon as possible, he can utilize the opportunity he has, while it is there, to grow to great heights. The Rambam writes in his Iggeret Teman , if someone is able to be happy with a difficulty that Hashem sent him, it is a great honor to Hashem and, ultimately, Hashem will bring the person honor in return. The Sefer Charedim writes, if someone would stay connected to Hashem and think about Him, even while he is experiencing trouble, "אין לך עבודה גדולה מזה – there is no greater service than that." And in that merit, Hashem will save the person and bring him honor. When a person is hurting, he has a natural tendency to complain and bemoan his fate. But, if he could overcome that and thank Hashem for everything He is doing, he'll become so great. The Gemara says in Masechet Taanit (p. 8), if a person is happy with the afflictions he is receiving, recognizing that they are for his good, he'll bring about salvation not only for himself but for the entire world. Therefore, if anyone is feeling down about their lot in life, or about something difficult they are going through, they can immediately turn those feelings into the most valuable time of their life by working on themselves to thank Hashem with joy. Even if they can't bring themselves to thank Hashem for the pain, to thank Hashem for everything else they have in their lives is also an invaluable avodah . The sefer Vaveh HaAmudim writes, it's a great segula for a person to become healed from a sickness if he would begin thanking Hashem for all the other parts of his body that are healthy. For example, if someone had a chronic issue with his leg, he should thank Hashem and praise Him that his eyes are functioning, that his head feels fine, that he is able to hear, and so on. He should not say, "Why do I have to have this problem while all of my friends are completely healthy?" In this week's parasha , Yaakov Avinu fought with the שרו של עשו-Esav's angel , and afterward, he thanked Hashem for saving his life, as it says, "כי ראיתי אלוקים פנים אל פנים ותנצל נפשי." The sefer Baer Mayim Chaim points out that Yaakov came out limping after that fight. He could have thought, My grandfather Avraham was saved from Ur Kasdim without a scratch on him. Hashem saved him in a war against four kings and he had no injuries. Why did I have to get hurt in this fight? Yet, Yaakov never entertained such a thought, it was just the opposite, he thanked Hashem that he was alive and able to continue functioning exactly the way he was. Right after that showing of appreciation, the pasuk says, ויזרח לו השמש – Hashem used the sun to completely heal Yaakov of his limp. That is an example of this segula . Thanking Hashem that everything else is working and then, mida kineged mida , Hashem healing the limb that is not working properly. Everything Hashem does for us is good. He wants us to recognize it. When the Mashiach comes, we'll then understand clearly how even the hardships were good. But before that, we have the opportunity to have emunah and believe it, and thereby earn eternal rewards. Shabbat Shalom.
The Gemara in Masechet Pesachim discusses the first korban Pesach that was ever brought in Mitzrayim . The question arose regarding the blood applications which are generally required for every korban to be placed on a mizbe'ach (altar) . Being that there was no mizbe'ach in Egypt, where did they apply the blood for the korban? The Gemara then says, indeed, there were multiple mizbechot in Mitzrayim , the lintel and doorposts of every single Jewish home turned into a mizbe'ach, and that is where they made the blood applications. We yearn for the Beit HaMikdash to be able to offer korbanot to Hashem. But in the meantime, we have opportunities to offer korbanot from right where we are. A Jewish home is a mini Beit HaMikdash. Chazal tell us, the table on which we eat is considered a mizbe'ach . We can elevate all of the mundane around us and imbue it with so much kedusha when we follow the ways of Hashem. Every moment in this world provides endless opportunities for us to achieve great heights. Unfortunately, it may happen that people who were once on a high level in avodat Hashem suddenly lose steam and no longer have the drive to continue on that path. How could that happen? How could they turn away from all the golden opportunities that they were presented with? One way for that to happen is when a person wanted something very badly, crying day and night to Hashem to give it to him. And then after weeks and months of heartfelt tefilot and still no progress, the person might have felt somewhat betrayed. He said to himself, "It was so easy for Hashem to give this to me. Why couldn't He just help me?" Sometimes what he was asking for was something he felt would bring him closer to Hashem. And when he didn't get it, he thought, all I'm trying to do is grow in religion and get closer to Hashem and He's stopping me from doing it. If so, I might as well stop trying. A woman asked me, "How do I have emunah that what Hashem is doing to me is good when it is seemingly preventing me from reaching higher levels in religion?" I told her, "Hashem is not turning you away. He's enabling you to fulfill what your soul came here to fulfill. If you will continue serving Hashem the best way you can, despite the fact that He's not giving you what you are asking for, that avodah will be worth much more than what you think you should be doing to serve him." Sometimes, we beg Hashem for something and, in our minds, we have so many plans of how we are going to use it to get closer to Him when He gives it to us. If we don't get it, it's only because He knows we could accomplish more by continuing to serve Him in our current situations than we could if we got what we asked for. We should never lose energy because we haven't been given what we are asking for. If we have emotional stress when we don't receive what we ask for, instead of turning away from Hashem, we should use the pain to soar to great heights. The Gemara says if a person stubs his toe and blood comes out, that blood goes up to Hashem like a korban olah . Emotional pain is far greater than physical pain. So if a little blood from stubbing a toe is considered like a korban olah , imagine what emotional pain is considered, especially after offering so many heartfelt tefilot and not being answered. If instead of complaining, we accept with love that Hashem knows what He's doing, and we continue to serve Him despite not getting what we are begging Him for, the value of that avodah is unfathomable. Every moment of life provides different opportunities for growth. When we get what we ask for, we cry tears of thanks and praise, thanking Hashem for His endless kindness. And when we don't get what we ask for, that is when we could soar to great heights by continuing to grow and pray, even though our inclination is telling us to go the other way. If we could cling to Hashem and hold on very tight during those times, we'll truly be fulfilling a part of our life's mission here.
The power of forgiving is great. The more difficult it is to do, the greater the merit the person gets for doing it. When we forgive others, Hashem forgives us. A person who has been wronged or humiliated might say to himself, "How is it possible for me to forgive someone who hurt me so badly?" The person may have suffered for days, weeks or even years, as a result of what someone else did to him. It's a very difficult feat to accomplish, but our Rabbis have suggested ways to go about doing it. One approach is to talk to Hashem first, to beg Him to give the strength and ability to forgive. A person could say, "Hashem, you know how much pain I have suffered. You know how difficult it is for me to forgive. I know everything comes from You, and I am supposed to look at the wrongdoer as a puppet, but I am just flesh and blood, and it is extremely hard for me. Please help me do it in Your honor." A person could also take a pen and paper and write, " L'shem yichud ..." about the fact that he is going to forgive, and then write it should be l'ilui nishmat a loved one, or in zechut for someone else and that it should atone for all the person's sins, whether during this lifetime or a previous one. The greatest gain that a person will get is that he will be doing the ratzon Hashem. And of course, there will also be side benefits that come along with it. A man told me he has had an ongoing lawsuit regarding the mortgage on his house, and it has been dragging out for years. If he loses, he's going to be thrown out of his home. As well, recently, his father-in-law had gone into the hospital and was on a ventilator not doing well. He and his wife spoke to a rabbi for guidance on how to access Hashem's mercy. The rabbi asked them if they were in a dispute with anyone. His wife said she hasn't spoken to her mother in eight months. The rabbi told her, "Go right now and ask forgiveness. Go and make peace and, b'ezrat Hashem, that will help you." It was extremely difficult for her to do, but she talked herself into doing it. Last week, at 1:00 in the afternoon one day, she started writing a text message to make peace with her mother. While she was in the middle of typing the message, the lawyer called and said, "Good news! We just won the case on the mortgage." After five long years, the moment she was going to forgive is when Hashem gave her the victory. She then sent the text message. Five minutes after that, the hospital called and said her father had an improvement in his condition. They felt that Hashem was talking to them so clearly and were so excited to share this story. Another woman was in the hospital with Covid and the doctors told her husband she had a pulmonary embolism, which is massive blood clots in the lungs, and her life was in jeopardy. Her husband spoke to a rabbi who told him, if there is anyone that you are in a dispute with, make peace with them; it will be an enormous zechut . There was someone who had hard feelings towards him. He went to that person's house and made amends. Within hours, his wife took a major turn for the better and was released from the hospital just a couple of days later. The doctors were in awe. This is the power of shalom. It is extremely difficult to forgive, or to apologize, but it is well worth it.
There are people who are constantly facing challenges. Just when it seems like one challenge may be ending, another one arises. They try to have emunah, but it is extremely difficult. A woman told me she is dealing with multiple challenges for many years and is constantly trying to give herself chizuk to be able to accept them properly. She has been learning emunah every day with a group of friends for many years. They got to the last page of the last volume of the particular book they were learning and then asked each other what they would do the following night. Nobody was sure what they should learn next because they wanted to learn emunah. Someone then said, maybe tomorrow the new volume would come out. The next day, one of these women was in a bookstore late in the afternoon and she saw, in the back, one of the men from the store opening a box that just arrived. And amazingly, it was the next volume of the book they had been learning. It is so clear how much Hashem values people trying to work on their emunah. Even if they have their ups and downs, they want to react properly and they are trying to give themselves the tools to do so. They are going to be rewarded for all eternity for every ounce of effort they put in to trying to increase their emunah. An episode which took place in her life was able to give her a lot of chizuk . She is a single mother with one of her children being special needs. A few years ago, she was told that this daughter of hers needed a very complicated surgery that would not be covered by her health insurance. Furthermore, although a local hospital would be able to do it, there was a specialty doctor in New York who was highly recommended for this particular procedure. The woman did not have anywhere near the money that it would cost to do that procedure and to fly to New York, but she knew she had to do the best for her child. She was able to raise part of the money and then, through an askan , got the hospital to agree to take just a down payment, allowing her to pay the rest later. The rest would be an exorbitant amount of money, but she knew she had to do it for her daughter. So she flew with her daughter to New York which was itself a very difficult experience. Her daughter needs to be held down to prevent her from doing damage and that was an extremely difficult task in an airport and on a plane. They finally arrived at the hospital and prepared to meet the doctor who would perform the surgery. When the doctor checked her daughter he said he saw some congestion and couldn't do the surgery like that. The woman said how difficult it was for her to get there with her daughter and that she would stay somewhere local for the next couple of days until the congestion went away. The doctor then said he wouldn't be able to do the surgery for another three months. The woman said she felt like that was the worst thing that could have possibly happened. Besides for all of the time and money she spent getting there, not to mention all the difficulties transporting her daughter, now she was going to have to do it again? To make matters worse, the doctor told her he wouldn't do the surgery until he was paid in full. The woman said she was told she could pay later. The doctor, as well as the other hospital staff there, treated her very nastily and she left very upset. She told the askan that got her the appointment of how nastily they treated her. Eventually, she came back and got the surgery done according to the terms of the original deal, paying only a portion of the cost up front. Baruch Hashem, the surgery went well and afterward she received a phone call from one of the heads of the hospital, apologizing for the way she was treated three months before. This head of the hospital told her, she didn't want anyone walking away from them with negative feelings, so she asked if there was anything she could do to make it up to her. The woman replied she couldn't afford the large balance that she owed the doctor as well as the hospital and would be very appreciative if she could help her with that. The woman said, “Consider it done.” And just like that, her entire bill was erased. She said, what she thought was the worst thing was really a salvation for her. She would have been in such large debt for such a long time to pay that bill. And now, she finished with it in a second. She tries to always remember that story so that even when it does get very difficult for her, she reminds herself it is always chesed Hashem, even when we don't understand it.
The Gemara tells us that every person is considered like an entire world. And therefore, any causality in Klal Yisrael is a major tragedy. We hope and pray that not one more person will die during this conflict. At the same time, although there has been so much tragedy on October 7 and beyond, we must also appreciate the chesed of Hashem protecting thousands of lives that, in the normal way of things, should have also been a part of that massacre. There were 3000 terrorists, all armed with weapons, that could have killed dozens of people each. Even if each one of those terrorists killed one person, that would have made the numbers almost triple of what they actually were. Even amidst the chaos and horrors, Hashem was there protecting those whose lives were meant to continue. In Ofakim, the terrorists got to a shul with 500 people praying and nobody there had any ammunition. However, instead of entering that shul, they turned around and went to Mishor Hagefen, a neighborhood four minutes away, a place where a lot of policemen live. That was the first place that the group of 40 fully armed terrorists had confrontation. And baruch Hashem, the police there were able to fight off the terrorists and they never went to that shul. Afterward, maps were found in the terrorist's clothing showing that the shul was actually their number one target there. I heard a similar story with over 500 boys in a yeshiva also being saved in a miraculous way. One of the Golani soldiers said that they were only 30 people with only one cartridge each and they were able to kill over 100 terrorists who were fully equipped with ammunition. Not one bullet of theirs missed its target. Each one hit a different terrorist in the head. As well, during the dangerous fighting in Gaza, the soldiers have reported numerous miracles that they have witnessed with their own eyes. One of the commanders wrote to his father that they are seeing Hashem openly. “The enemy is throwing grenades at us, and they aren't exploding,” he said. A group of 50 soldiers sat to eat in Gaza. One of the soldiers was playing with his gun and mistakenly shot a few bullets. The soldiers were alarmed and all jumped to protect themselves. Then they looked around and saw that the accidental bullets ended up killing a terrorist who had just come out of a nearby tunnel. There are numerous other stories circulating, each one more miraculous than the next. Hashem is involved every step of the way. No terrorist has any power. Only Hashem decides what happens. We don't understand why anyone has to die. Hashem has calculations that take into account the entire history of the world and beyond. We are only guests here for a small pocket of time and we are so thankful that we are always in His hands. Although we mourn the death of every individual, we are also so thankful for the miracles and yeshuot that Hashem is giving us. And may we see them culminating in the coming of the Mashiach and the Geula Shelema bekarov .
In this week's parasha, Vayetzeh, we see the awesome power of prayer and good deeds. Chazal tell us that Rachel Imenu was not capable of having a child. But because she was willing to give up her potential husband Yaakov to her sister Leah, to save her from embarrassment, Hashem changed nature and gave her a womb to have a child. But even then, after Rachel did that special deed, she still needed tefillah to complete the salvation. As the pasuk says, "וישמע אליה אלוקים." When Leah was expecting her seventh child, she felt bad for her sister Rachel. If that child was to be a boy, it would mean Rachel would have less of the shevatim than the maidservants. So Leah prayed that the child should be a girl. And the Gemara says her prayers changed nature, because that child was supposed to be a boy, and Hashem switched it. We never lose hope in any situation we're in, because we always have a way to be helped. The Sefer Emunah Shelemah tells a story about Rabbi Yosef Yoel Kahane, the grandson of the Shomer Emunim. He got married about forty years ago, and like all couples, he and his wife were anticipating having children. Year after year, they waited, but things were not looking good for them. Rabbi Kahane said he went to a great mekubal for a beracha, and the mekubal told him, "I'm sorry, but you're not going to have children." He went to another tzaddik who told him the same thing, and then advised him that he should have students, and they will be considered like his children. Rabbi Kahane, however, never gave up. He knew Hashem could do anything, even if there was a decree in shamayim that he would not have children. It had already been thirty one years since his wedding, and there appeared at that time to be no ray of hope for him, but he still believed. He decided to go to Kever Rachel every single morning to pray. He would arrive a few hours before tefillah began and say the entire Tehillim with heartfelt tears. He never missed a day. After an entire year with still no progress, the Evil Inclination tried to break him saying, "Why are you paining yourself going through all this trouble. It's not working anyway. The rabbi knew that every word of Tehillim and tefillah that he said was never in vain. Each word was, in and of itself, the greatest gain he could possibly get. Tehillim and Tefillah are mitzvot like any other, and earn us eternal rewards. The rabbi persisted, and for another entire year he kept the same schedule going to Kever Rachel every morning, hours before the tefillah, and reciting the entire Tehillim. At the end of the second year, on the 12th day of Adar Sheni , in the year 2011, his wife gave birth to twins after thirty three years of marriage and mekubalim telling him he would never have a child! His tefillot and good deeds defied all odds and broke decrees. Hashem changed nature for him. Rabbi Elimelech Biderman told that Rabbi Yochanan Lazer Katz from Williamsburg called him recently to tell him about an open miracle that took place in his kehillah. In his Shul, Imreh Shefer , they are very careful to never talk during Tefillah. A man started praying there recently, and he had been sick for the past two years. The congregation as a whole accepted upon themselves for his refuah that for forty days they would not talk in shul, even when they prayed in other shuls. Baruch Hashem, that man was healed, but that's not the miracle that that rabbi called to tell Rabbi Biderman about. Another congregant's wife was diagnosed with a cancerous growth. She went for a second opinion, and had an MRI taken, and it showed the same growth. She went to a top specialist who charged an exorbitant fee. He ordered two different tests, both of them showing the same growth. He scheduled an immediate surgery for that week, which was November 5th, this past month. The surgery took longer than expected. Right when the surgery began, her husband prayed and spoke to Hashem from his heart. He said "These past forty days I have held back opening my mouth in any shul I prayed in," and he said it was extremely difficult. He continued "I'm going to do it, Hashem, for at least another six months. Please have mercy on my wife and heal her." After the surgery was finished the doctors came out and said, "We never saw anything like this." They were holding all four pictures of the tests which showed the growth. "We searched and searched. It's not there. There is nothing inside of her." Prayer and good deeds can do wonders. They are always available to us and we should take complete advantage of them. Shabbat Shalom.
When Yaakov Avinu left his parent's home, running away from Esav, he made a pledge to Hashem that if Hashem would guard him and take care of all of his needs and bring him back home safely, then he would bring korbanot on a specific מזבח -(altar) that he was setting up then. And indeed, when he came back safely, he fulfilled that pledge. When a person accepts upon himself to do something in avodat Hashem, it gives him great zechut and brings about salvation. The Penei Yehoshua wrote in the introduction of his sefer on Mesechet Berachot that one time he was in his home in Lemberg where he was the rabbi, and, all of a sudden, there were dozens of explosions. Rachmana litzlan , 36 people died, including his daughter, mother and grandmother. He was lying under a huge heap of rubble and was unable to extricate himself. Many people came to try and move the large stones, but nobody could. Seeing that he was in grave danger, the Pnei Yehoshua made a vow to Hashem that if He saved him, he would gather together students and teach them Torah with very deep analysis, getting to the truth of each sugya in Shas. Suddenly, a miracle took place and the rabbi found a way out on his own. He then fulfilled that pledge, plummeting to the depths of every sugya and producing the wondrous work Penei Yehoshua . A man told me, a couple of years ago he lost his job and was having a lot of difficulty finding a new one. In the meantime, the various chesed organizations and yeshivot that he had been accustomed to supporting continued calling him for donations. Each time he extended himself and gave them. His wife told him, “It would make sense for us not to give tzedaka , being that we have no income coming in.” Yet, he kept giving, albeit in smaller increments. One day he received a call asking if he wanted to buy a raffle ticket on behalf of a yeshiva. And then they offered him a greater chance of winning if he would add to his pledge. He agreed and made the donation. His wife once again asked him how he could give when they weren't having any income. And he said, “This is our greatest zechut .” The next day, they called to say he won the prize for $10,000. Fast forward six months, and he still didn't have a job. He went to his rabbi and asked him what he should pledge to do for Hashem as an additional merit to get a job. The rabbi asked him if he had Instagram on his phone. The man said that he did. The rabbi told him to pledge to remove it and never get it back again. The man listened and instantly removed it. The very same day, after waiting nearly a year to find a job, he received a phone call from a company that his wife sent his resume to. It was a long shot that he would even get an interview with this company. And right after he did that heroic act, they called him. And after the meeting, they hired him. He has been at that job this entire year and couldn't be happier there. He then admitted to me that he spent close to six hours a day sometimes on that app and is so happy that he removed it. He now has so much more time and utilizes it for learning Torah and spending it with his family. Yaakov Avinu taught us how to access extra siyata d'Shamaya by taking upon ourselves extra hidurim in our avodat Hashem.
One of the areas that Chazal tell us to excel in in the days preceding Mashiach is gemilut chasadim . There are endless ways in which a person can help others. I recently met with the head of an organization called Lev Echad . One of the things this organization does is help make shidduchim . The rabbi told me, “you can't imagine the pain I have seen in older singles.” He has a database with thousands and thousands of singles over the age of 30. Most of them have not even received one phone call with a suggestion in years. “A woman told me, she is ashamed to be seen by her relatives who constantly tell her to stop being so picky. She said little do they know she hasn't received one suggestion in years.” A shadchanit related, she called a divorced woman and offered her a shidduch not realizing it was her ex-husband. She was mortified when she found out. That woman saw her in the street a few weeks later and told her she had given her a new spark of life. The shadchanit was surprised to hear that being that she gave her the worst possible suggestion. The woman explained, “I thought that not one person in this world cared about me. I was so delighted to find out that someone was actually thinking of me and trying to help me get married.” We can give people life just by letting them know that we care. And that is gemilut chasadim on the highest level. Doing something to help a person get married is a wondrous chesed . The rabbi who runs Lev Echad said he was pushed by multiple Gedolim to do something to help make more marriages. Recently he met with one of the Gedolei Hador and asked the Gadol if he could call him to get his assistance in moving along shidduchim that run into issues. The Gadol replied in the affirmative. The rabbi then asked the Gadol , “Will the Rav take my calls right away or will I have to keep calling like everyone else?” The Gadol told him, on Purim he normally gets thousands of singles lining up at his home to get berachot for a shidduch . He needs two bodyguards there to ensure that he doesn't get injured from a potential accidental pushing that may occur. This past Purim, one of the bodyguards, who is not religious, asked the rabbi what all the people were waiting there for. He told him that he gives them blessings to get married. The bodyguard then said to the rabbi, “You should also probably be proactive in helping them get married, maybe by setting up some type of dating system.” The rabbi told him he agreed. Six months later, this bodyguard called the house of the Gadol and asked to speak with him. When the Gadol picked up, the bodyguard told him who he was and then asked him, he was just checking to see if he did anything yet to help the singles. The Gadol said to the rabbi who leads Lev Echad , “When he asked me that question, I was ashamed. Not from him, but from HaKadosh Baruch Hu . I didn't do anything to help His children get married. You want to know if I'll answer your calls when you call me? Absolutely! I will make myself available if it is going to help bring about a shidduch .” The rabbi told me there was a boy who was the top learner in his yeshiva but hadn't gotten one phone call for a shidduch in over two and a half years. The reason was because he has a fake arm. Now, with Lev Echad's new system of networking across Israel, in a few days this boy got seven different suggestions. We all need to excel in gemilut chasadim and there are numerous ways to do so. May Hashem help us help His children.
A woman who lives in Yerushalayim told me that ever since the war broke out, she has shifted her focus in tefila to praying exclusively on behalf of Klal Yisrael for shalom, for health, and for the geula shelema . It has become a much more serious time and she couldn't see herself making her usual requests for parnasa and shidduchim for her children, amongst many other things. Recently, she went to Kever Rachel and saw many different people praying for many different things there. Some were relatives of hostages, some were relatives of soldiers and some were just people crying out to Hashem for their own personal, regular needs. She thought about how great Hashem is and how He helps every single person with their own individual problems and needs, and that gave her a new perspective on tefila . She said to herself, of course I need to continue praying hard for Klal Yisrael, but that doesn't mean I have to leave out the tefilot for my own needs. Hashem is unlimited, and He could help with everything. So with newfound chizuk , she continued with all of her tefilot regarding the war and added all of the personal tefilot that she was accustomed to making. As a working woman helping her husband learn Torah, parnasa is always a priority in her tefilot . With another cabinet breaking in her kitchen, she could not help bemoan the fact that her kitchen was completely run down and not really in livable condition, so she began praying to Hashem to give her a new kitchen. This, with the understanding that with her salary there would be no way to afford one. She mentioned this to her daughter as well and, amazingly, just two days later, her daughter said she saw a sign somewhere offering an entire kitchen free of charge. It was from a woman who was renovating and still had her existing kitchen in great condition. The daughter called the number to say she wanted the kitchen for her mother. The woman on the other line said that she was the seventieth person requesting the kitchen and she was going to have to draw a lottery to decide who was going to get it. A couple of days later, the daughter got a call saying that she was the winner, her mother was getting the kitchen. She was so excited, she called her mother to tell her the wonderful news. The woman felt like she got a personal gift directly from Hashem. Here, she prayed for a kitchen with no money to buy one and almost immediately she got one. A couple of days after that, the kitchen owner called this daughter back saying she received a call from one of the other people who requested the kitchen and that woman was practically in tears. She said she was renovating her own home but ran out of money and currently had no kitchen. “She was hoping very much to get my kitchen. She asked if the person that won would be mivater and give it to her.” The daughter said she would tell her mother and they would ask their rabbi what to do. She came home and told her mother of the request. The woman's initial reaction was, “0f course I'll be mivater . This is just olam hazeh things. I would never want another person to be in tears over something that I won. Furthermore, just like Hashem got me this kitchen, He can get me another one in an instant.” The daughter then said, “But Ma, look how badly you need a kitchen, and my husband already drove three hours, spending the entire day today picking up that kitchen, putting it in his van and bringing it here for you. He would be so upset if he found out you weren't taking it.” The woman then called her rabbi, asking him what to do. The rabbi told her, “Being mivater is very noble, but if it is going to cause pain to your daughter and son-in-law, you have to take the kitchen for yourself.” As always, the woman obediently listened to the rabbi and now she has the kitchen she needed so badly about to be installed in her apartment. Hashem helps everyone and can easily take care of all the big things in the world and still takes care of all the little things as well. It is true that during serious times we may realize that what we thought we need is not really such a need, but if we do have needs, we should never be embarrassed to pray for them.
We have no comprehension of how much each mitzvah does for a person. Reshit Chochma quotes from the Zohar HaKadosh that when a person does a mitzvah, it creates a spiritual garment for him, a special light that clothes the neshama. And it is those garments that a person needs to be able to enter the גן עדן התחתון – the Gan Eden down here in this world after he passes on. And only from there will he be able to move on to the גן עדן העליון – the Upper Gan Eden. Every mitzvah imbues a person with sanctity, like we say in the text of a beracha אשר קדשנו במצוותיו – that Hashem sanctifies us through the performance of mitzvot. Our entire purpose in this world is to fulfill mitzvot in the circumstances that Hashem puts us in. And so, whenever a person accepts upon himself to improve in a mitzvah or to start keeping a mitzvah, it does wonders for his neshama and it arouses an abundance of Heavenly mercy. A woman related that on the day of the massacre on October 7, she looked outside her door through the peephole and saw six terrorists with drawn guns chanting something in Arabic. She couldn't believe what she was looking at. They were moments away from breaking into her home and shooting her. It appeared as if her life was going to end. She looked up towards Hashem and said, “ Boreh Olam , I promise You, I will keep every Shabbat for the rest of my life if you save me. Please protect me and my children. I have so much more to do in this world before I go. I'm ready to start now.” The moment she finished talking, the six terrorists turned around and walked away, skipping over her house. She then went with her children into her bomb shelter and stayed there until they were rescued hours later. She said afterward, “It was like an open miracle.” She is so thankful to Hashem now every single day, for the life He gave her, and she began performing the mitzvot like she never did before. Baruch Hashem, one of the hostages, Ori Magidish, was rescued a couple of weeks ago in an amazing way. Secret service, dressed like Arabs, went into the place she was being held and were able to take out the terrorists while whisking her away without being discovered. It was a daring and heroic mission that was blessed with Sitaya D'Shamaya . Days before that there were videos being sent around about all of the mitzvot her family, and particularly her mother, were doing to merit her salvation. The piercing cries that her mother let out, pleading with Hashem, were awe inspiring. Every word recognizing His control and His ability and His love for her. The tefilot were from the depths of her soul. There was a large gathering that she organized to do the mitzvah of hafrashat challah and another gathering bringing the zechut of Torah into their home, amongst many other mitzvot. And then, all of a sudden, the news came back – her daughter was saved in this miraculous way. The power of tefila and mitzvot is inestimable. There are large amounts of mitzvot being done now from people all over the world in the zechut that all of the hostages come home. We are all praying and we are all doing whatever we can to help them and, b'ezrat Hashem, the merits from these mitzvot should cause that everyone comes home safely bekarov . Amen.
There may be times when a person feels that Hashem is ignoring him. He cries out in tefila multiple times a day but doesn't see any answers. Is Hashem listening? he thinks to himself. Does He see how badly I want this? We must always remember that our main purpose in this world is to accomplish spiritually. One of the greatest merits a person can get is when he helps the masses. This is called זיכוי הרבים . But not everyone is in a position where he is able to do great things on behalf of Klal Yisrael . But that does not mean that Hashem will not help him do it anyway. In the beginning of this week's parasha, Toledot , we read about Yitzchak and Rivka praying very hard to have children. The Zohar HaKadosh writes, one of the reasons Hashem wanted them to pray for so long is because their tefilot were helping so many others who needed tefilot . Yitzchak and Rivka were bringing blessing to the entire world with their tefilot and were being credited with an unbelievable זיכוי הרבים for it. They didn't see anything from their tefilot , but every one of them was accomplishing a different yeshua . Rashi writes on the words ויעתר יצחק that Yitzchak was pressing very hard with his tefilot . Although it took so many years for him to see the answer he was looking for, he kept getting stronger and stronger with his tefilot until Hashem finally blessed them with children. When a person asks his friend repeatedly for something, it becomes a burden because obviously the friend doesn't want to give it. However, when it comes to Hashem, He loves when a person keeps asking and He loves it even more when the person asks with emotion and tears. That's because Hashem wants to give. He is only holding back because He knows the prayers are accomplishing much more to the person than the object in which he is trying to get from them. There is a concept that when a person does pray with complete emunah and recognition of Hashem's capabilities, the zechut of such a tefila is so great it can bring about an immediate answer. A childless couple related that about ten years ago they were ready to despair of ever having children. They cried, they prayed, they received berachot from Gedolim , but nothing ever changed. They had been childless for close to nine years and the doctors were not optimistic at all. They had already failed nine treatments, each one of them was long and difficult, not to mention the enormous expenses that came along with them. They were literally at a point of breaking when they read an article in a bulletin regarding the capabilities of Hashem and the attitude a Jew is supposed to have when statistics are stacked against them. This article gave them a tremendous amount of chizuk and it taught them that the nine failed treatments said nothing about another possible treatment. Every day is a new day and Hashem can change things in an instant. They got this chizuk right before Chanukah and that Chanukah they prayed by the candles with a newfound emunah and bitachon . Within two weeks of Chanukah, they discovered the woman was expecting and it happened with no treatments whatsoever. Baruch Hashem, they had a healthy baby and, since then, added an additional four children to their family, all born without any treatments. Tefila is wondrous and is always beneficial. And tefila with real hope and bitachon shakes the Heavens. Shabbat Shalom
It says in the Midrash that the geula from Mitzrayim was in the zechut of achdut , a special brotherly love between Moshe and Aharon which influenced Klal Yisrael . We were not saved from the decree of Haman until the people united with each other. The Shechina dwells only where there is achdut . This is one of the criteria necessary to attain the final Geula as well. Hashem, the Torah and the Jewish People are all one. The Torah is supposed to be something that unites us, not Heaven forbid cause rifts. If we will act the way the Torah wants us to act, we will automatically nullify all the hatred. I heard a beautiful story which combines the ways of Torah and achdut . Yehuda, who learns in a kollel in Bnei Brak, was driving on the highway a few months ago when he saw a family standing outside their car. He stopped to ask what was wrong. Yaakov, the head of the family, was standing with his wife and young daughter and Yaakov said they had run out of gas. Yehuda said it would be his pleasure to go to a gas station and bring back some gasoline for them. Yaakov was very appreciative, saying they had been there for nearly a half an hour without anyone stopping to help them. Yehuda went and returned fifteen minutes later with the gasoline and handed the container to Yaakov. Yaakov thanked Yehuda and asked him how much money he owed him. Yehuda said, “I just did a mitzvah and I don't take money for mitzvot. It's my zechut.” Yaakov offered money again and Yehuda made it clear he was not going to accept it under any circumstances. Yaakov was touched by the gesture. He took Yehuda to the back of his car and showed him a bumper sticker that said something to the sort of “Trample all charedi Jews.” He said, “I had this on my car for two years, and now, the first time I have an interaction with a charedi I see how beautiful you are.” He apologized to Yehuda and then ripped the sticker off his car and ripped it up. Yehuda asked Yaakov where he was from. Yaakov replied that he lived in Kibbutz Be'eri near Gaza. Yehuda was not familiar with that particular location, but he said he wanted to keep a connection with him, so he took down Yaakov's phone number. Two weeks later, Yehuda called Yaakov, reminding him of their encounter. Yaakov was so happy to hear from him. Yehuda told him a short story about Shabbat that he wanted Yaakov to relate to his young daughter. Yaakov loved the story and said he would tell her. From then on, Yehuda called Yaakov weekly every Friday to tell him a story that he could relate to his family. One Friday, Yaakov said to Yehuda, “I want to understand a little more. Aren't you guys so bored on Shabbat? What do you do all day if you are not able to use your phones or go anywhere?” Yehuda told Yaakov that Shabbat was the best day of the week. He said he wanted to invite him at a future point to come to his home and experience Shabbat with him. Initially Yaakov said Bnei Brak was off limits, but after some coaxing, he finally agreed to come. Yehuda asked his rabbi what he thought the best Shabbat would be to invite him as it was coming close to the time of the Yamim Noraim. His Rabbi said the best day would be Shabbat Simchat Torah. Besides for the Shabbat experience, he would also see the festive dancing and love between everyone. Yehuda told his rabbi, on Simchat Torah he was planning on going to his parents in Sderot. The rabbi said to him, “maybe if you would invite your parents they would want to come to you. Then Yaakov could see your kibbud Av v'Em as well.” So Yehuda asked his parents if they wanted to come and they were delighted to. When that Shabbat came around, Yaakov and his family, as well as Yehuda's parents both came to Yehuda in Bnei Brak. By the time the Shabbat ended, it became apparent that Yaakov and his family had their lives spared. Yehuda's parents, as well, lived in a place that got bombed and their lives were saved too. Besides for the amazing hashgacha peratit here, the beauty of the story is the unity which took place. B'ezrat Hashem, we will all unify and love each other like brothers, no matter what level of religion anybody is on.
Our job in this world is to make the right decisions in the circumstances that Hashem places us in. If we do the will of Hashem, we will always be successful no matter what the results are. We are given the ability to choose to do what is right, but results are always decided by Hashem. Very often we are tested, and we must know, we never gain by choosing wrong and we always gain by choosing right whether we see it or not. A man from Elad named Naor told that he found a wad of bills on the floor gathered together in a rubber band. He picked it up and saw it was 5000 shekels, a nice sum of money that he definitely could have used. He called up his rabbi asking what to do. It was determined that since there was an identifying mark on the wad of cash, he should hang up a sign and announce his find. It was difficult for him because he needed the money, but he listened to the rabbi. Sure enough, somebody came and identified the sign and he gave him the money back. Just a few days later, out of nowhere, a friend of his called him over and said he had something he wanted to give him. Astonishingly, it was a check for 5000 shekels. That is when Naor realized Hashem was testing him and, when he passed, He gave him the money in a permissible way. We are to try our hardest to always do what is right. Sometimes the decisions are not so easy because we are not sure if what we are doing is right(it's always a good idea to consult with a Rabbi). If we try our hardest and are l'shem Shamayim , Hashem will be sure to bless our efforts. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Friedman from the Noam Siach told a story that his brother-in-law Rabbi Sender Blau related to him. Rabbi Blau himself heard about an individual who was going through very difficult struggles and was suffering terribly. Rabbi Blau didn't know the man so well but really wanted to help him. He thought to himself, “If I randomly call him, it probably wouldn't work, but perhaps if I write him a letter it would.” Hashem blessed Rabbi Blau with a gift of being able to write very well and so he sat down and wrote the most beautiful letter of chizuk in his own handwriting. He then took the letter to the printing shop to have it typed up and laid out in a nice way. When the typesetter finished the letter and gave it back, Rabbi Blau read it and reread it again and then had second thoughts about giving it to that person. He was worried, since he didn't know him so well, he may get offended by it. Maybe he didn't want other people knowing so much about his problems. So he decided not to give it. A few months later, Rabbi Blau attended a wedding and, suddenly, that man came over to him with tears in his eyes, telling Rabbi Blau he was envious of his share in Gan Eden. The Rabbi wasn't sure what he was referring to. The man said, “You don't know how much you did for me. This past year I have been going through such hard times and many people tried to give me chizuk , but nothing ever helped. For a short time I worked in a printing business and my job was to work on a computer as a typesetter, typing up other people's work. One day a letter came in from you, Rabbi Blau, and I was given the job of typing it up. As I was typing it, I felt like every word was talking directly to me. Every challenge I was dealing with was referred to in that letter. The beautiful words ignited a new light of chizuk in me, they literally infused me with a sense of revival. I read it another couple of times and cried from it. I felt like it was a letter given to me straight from Hashem. I printed a copy for myself and I read it all the time. It made me a new person.” Rabbi Blau wasn't sure what to do. He wrote a beautiful letter but didn't want to hurt this person's feelings, but he had the best intentions. Hashem blessed his efforts. Amazingly, Hashem brought the letter to this person that Rabbi Blau wanted to give it to, without him going through the uncomfortable experience of actually giving it to him. If we are l'shem Shamayim and we try our best, Hashem will bless our efforts.
Regarding parnasa , a person is obligated to make a normal effort in order to make money to support his family. The Chovot HaLevavot in the Shaar HaBitachon writes that this hishtadlut is considered a mitzvah. And therefore, a person should have in mind before going to work that he is going to do the will of Hashem and fulfill the mitzvah of hishtadlut . In general, Shulchan Aruch rules that mitzvot require kavana , and especially a mitzvah like this which does not appear to be a mitzvah. In order for a person to get the credit for doing the mitzvah, he needs to have intentions that he is doing it for the sake of the mitzvah. There is a card attached to the bottom of this email (click links) that somebody made the effort in creating to help us remember each day to have this kavana before going to work. It is also important to note that we are only required to do what is in our regular capabilities. If a certain hishtadlut that is available would be overbearing and take a major toll on a person's life, he would not be obligated to pursue it. In that case, he would be able to comfortably rely on Hashem to take care of his needs without that hishtadlut . I read a story that a man told about himself. About a year and a half ago, Hashem blessed him and his wife with twins. His wife had been working to help support the family and she took a three-and-a-half-month maternity leave to take care of the new babies. As the date of returning to work was approaching, they realized it would be nearly impossible for her to leave her household responsibilities. Besides taking care of the new twins, she had many other children to attend to, as well as everything else that comes along with running a household. She also needed a couple of hours in the day to rest after being up with the babies for hours each night. Together, they decided she would have to leave her job for at least a year. The questions they had were, how would they pay their bills, losing out on her income? And would her employer agree to give her her job back when she would be able to work a year later? The husband was a rebbe in yeshiva and, practically speaking, did not see a way to earn more money at his job. So they did not have any answers to these questions, but they knew this was all they could do and so they fully relied on Hashem to help them pay their bills. At the start of the school year, the father of one of the boys in this rebbe's class called to tell him how happy he was with his work. His son came home so happy each day, excited with the learning. He said he wanted to give him a gift as a token of appreciation. The rebbe thought he would probably get a box of chocolates or the like, but the man continued and said he wanted his bank account information. Two days later, the rebbe was surprised to discover that 8000 shekels had been transferred to his account. This did not just happen one time. He received another deposit just before Tu B'Shvat, another one in honor of Purim, another one before Pesach and a final one at the end of the year. When he made an accounting at the end of the year, the sum total of all those bonuses (and they were not always the same amount) came out to exactly what his wife would have earned from her job that year. It was exact, shekel per shekel, not one more and not one less. And to top it off, when the year ended, his wife's office called to tell her they were anxiously awaiting her return. We have a responsibility of hishtadlut and it is a mitzvah to do, but only if it would be considered a normal effort. Once it becomes abnormal, we are exempt and can completely rely on Hashem. https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/2hmihjt1gs4ag64xbylyy/IMG_0616.jpg?rlkey=dyacus68qy37jnlkkkbcmpr7v&dl=0 https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/d5lm7c51w2tnde9zlab5g/IMG_0617.jpg?rlkey=rv1sco6zuykwf3uajw46da3g3&dl=0
The Tzvi L'Tzaddik writes that chodesh Kislev is a preparation for the Geula HaAtida . It is the month in which the Chanukah candles reveal the light of Mashiach . The Maharsha writes in Masechet Baba Metzia (80b) that Rosh Chodesh in general is a day that is designated to pray for the Mashiach . There are numerous requests in the tefila for Hashem to rebuild the Bet HaMikdash and reestablish the mizbe'ach once again to bring korbanot upon. We need to utilize the day to pray with all our hearts for the Geula . We say in Halel, כל גוים סבבוני – all of the goyim surround us. The Brisker Rav explained, this is referring to Yishmael, who completely surrounds Eretz Yisrael on all sides. How do we defeat them? The pasuk says, בשם ה' כי אמילם – only with the name of Hashem will we be able to cut them down. The pasuk in Melachim 19, describing the powers of Hashem, uses the words מפרק הרים ומשבר סלעים – smashing mountains and breaking rocks. The word סלעי"ם in that pasuk is rosheh tevot (acronym) for סוריה, לבנון, עזה, ירדן, מצרים – Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Jordan and Egypt, the five Yishmael nations surrounding us. It says further, סבבוני גם סבבוני – there are also those surrounding those who surround us. This refers to Turkey, Iran and Iraq. How do we defeat them? בשם ה' כי אמילם – also with the name of Hashem. It says further, סבוני כדבורים דעכו כאש קוצים – they surround us like bees. And Rashi in Devarim , perek 1, says the characteristic of the bee is it strikes man and immediately dies. So too סבוני כדבורים , these nations surrounding us strike like the bee. They don't care to die as long as they sting. How do we defeat them? Once again, the pasuk continues בשם ה' כי אמילם . This means our best weapon in defeating this enemy is by using our voices to cry out to Hashem. The Ramban writes, there is the מצות עשה from the Torah to cry out to Hashem in times of trouble and the Maharam Shik writes, the greater the trouble, the bigger the mitzvah is to pray. As we are witnessing with our own eyes, the trouble extends across the globe, our enemies are everywhere we turn. The only advice is to call out to Hashem. The mefarshim tell us, when Hashem defeats our enemies at the Final Geula , it will become obvious to the entire world that He runs it, and everyone else is powerless. There will be no doubt that the victory belongs to Hashem and, from then on, there will never be persecution again. The Zohar HaKadosh writes, in the End of Days, one of the terrible rasha'im who will rise up against us is named Armilus and he is going to be obliterated. The Malbim writes, at that time it will not be clear from people's names who are the ones referred to in the Nevi'im and in the Midrashim , for example, Gog U'Magog . However, Rabbi Menashe Reisman pointed out that Nasrala is the same gematria as Armilus. We aren't sure who is who, but it doesn't matter. All we need to know is that we need Hashem to help us. It is incumbent upon everyone to use our greatest weapon, our mouths. We need to learn more Torah, we need to cry out more in tefila. And then, b'ezrat Hashem, we will see the fulfillment of the pasuk בשם ה' כי אמילם .
Rabbenu Yona writes that the tenth test of Avraham is in this week's parasha Chayeh Sarah . Avraham was promised that he would be given the Land of Israel and then, when all he needed was just a burial plot for his wife, he couldn't find one, until he had to pay an exorbitant amount of money for it. Avraham acted as the prince of Hashem that he was known to be and paid all of the money with ease. He did not question Hashem and thus, once again, passed his test. It is the way of great people to be happy to show their love of Hashem and serve Him, in the face of potential questions. In general, there are different attitudes in emunah that people have when confronted with challenge. One attitude is to complain and ask Hashem why it is so hard and why everyone else seems to always get what they want and he doesn't. A second attitude is to bear the difficulty and understand that he is supposed to accept it with emunah. The person works on himself until he is able to continue on without complaint. A third attitude is to be excited that he has an opportunity to show Hashem how much he believes in Him and how much he loves Him. This person actually enjoys serving Hashem with difficulty because of his great love for Him. When Avraham Avinu was in pain from his brit milah but was still yearning for guests, Hashem made the angels that were coming appear to be people. Rav Shmuel Birnbaum asked why didn't Hashem just cool down the heat, which would have enabled regular people to start going out again [since Hashem earlier raised the heat to prevent people from going out and coming to Avraham's tent in order to allow Avraham to rest after his brit milah ]. Furthermore, Avraham was running to take care of his guests. It would have made it much easier for him if the temperature would have been cooler. The Rabbi answered, Hashem knew how much Avraham loved serving Him with chesed and the harder the challenge would be, the happier Avraham would be to do it. Like if a man loves hiking and he would be told there is a very difficult hike on a mountaintop, he would be so excited to go do it. When Yosef HaTzaddik was thrown into jail after overcoming one of the most difficult nisyonot in history, he didn't need to hold himself back from complaining, he didn't think, “Is this fair? I served Hashem the greatest way possible and now this happens to me?” He was happy to show even more love to Hashem by serving Him under duress, specifically after he did such a heroic act. When he asked the Sar HaMashkim and Sar HaOfim why they were sad one day, it's because everyone in the jail was always happy because of Yosef's influence on them, who was in a constant state of joy all the time. The moment he came out of prison after twelve years, Phar aoh immediately saw a spirit of G-d in him. Someone in jail for twelve years should have been in a state of depression. But not Yosef. The goal in emunah is to reach a level where we don't have to fight with ourselves to be able to serve Hashem when it is hard, but rather to be excited to do it. During the First World War, the Chofetz Chaim once spent Shabbat in a field in the middle of nowhere in order not to violate Shabbat. He said later how happy he was that entire Shabbat to be able to keep it in such a difficult circumstance. Our greats looked at challenges as opportunities to serve Hashem with true love. That is the highest level. And as we mentioned previously, the more times a person does serve Hashem when it is hard, the more he'll come to love Him and the more he loves Him, the easier it will be to serve Him during those challenging situations. Shabbat Shalom
The nature of man is the more he loves something, the less he'll find fault in it. Part of the job of emunah is always finding the good in everything Hashem does. As a person's love of Hashem increases, he'll naturally see the good in everything that takes place in his life. And therefore, love of Hashem is a very important part of having emunah. How does a person increase his love of Hashem? By increasing the amount of effort and toil that he puts into his avodat Hashem. The more a person gives to someone and the more he sacrifices for that person, the more he'll come to love that person. The same applies with Hashem. The more we give and sacrifice for Him, the more we'll love Him, and thus, the more emunah we'll have in Him. I read a story about Rabbi Avraham, the brother of the Vilna Gaon, who was known to be a great tzaddik and gaon in his own right. He and his wife lived in a city far from Vilna and he used to travel often to Vilna to visit his brother. He would learn with his brother for hours and gain so much from his kedusha . During that time period, travel was very difficult, but that never stopped Rabbi Avraham from making his visits. One of his relatives once asked him why he didn't just move to Vilna so that he could see his brother all the time without having to make those difficult journeys to do so. Rabbi Avraham answered that he would love to live in Vilna, but because of his wife he would never do it, and he explained why with a story. He said, “many years ago it became known before the holiday of Sukkot that there was a shortage of mehudar etrogim in the market. My wife and I tried very hard to find one, but we were unsuccessful. One day, my wife found an etrog by a certain merchant that was the most beautiful etrog she had ever seen. Her joy knew no bounds. She was determined to get it for me no matter what the cost was. When she asked about the price, the given amount was astronomical. So she went and borrowed the money and put our house on lien to do so. That Sukkot, we merited to fulfill the mitzvah the best way possible. When the time came to pay back the money, we didn't have it and, with no other choice, we were forced to sell our home, With the leftover money, we bought a much smaller house. If you are wondering how my wife reacted, having to move homes from a nice spacious house to a much smaller one, I'll tell you what happened next. To get to shul from our new house, we have to pass by our old house. My wife has a minhag to go to shul to pray every single day. And so, she ends up passing by our old house twice a day, going there and coming back. Every time she passes it, she stops, looks at the house and then begins speaking praises and thank yous to Hashem for giving her the zechut to give up her home in the performance of a mitzvah. She gets so much pleasure during those moments of talking to Hashem, I would never take that away from her. And that's why I'll never move to Vilna.” Perhaps another person in her position may have become bitter that Hashem didn't give her the money back to pay for the etrog . This Rebbetzin has sacrificed time and time again in her avodat Hashem that her love of Hashem became that strong. All she could ever do is praise Hashem, no matter what happens. She honestly felt the zechut in being able to sacrifice more and more for Him. That only comes from love and in order to get that love, it first has to come through sacrifice. We don't have to give up our homes, but we have so many opportunities on a daily basis to sacrifice our time,money, and comforts to do the will of Hashem the best way possible.
הבוטח בה' חסד יסובבנו – whoever has bitachon in Hashem will be surrounded by Hashem's kindness. There is a blessing of extra Heavenly help given to a person as a reward for his bitachon in Hashem. A person may not be worthy or destined to receive a certain blessing or benefit, but because the zechut of bitachon is so great, it will come to him anyway. The pasuk says, ברוך הגבר אשר יבטח בה' והיה ה' מבטחו – simply it means fortunate is the one who trusts in Hashem because then Hashem will be his guarantor and give him what he is trusting in Him for. The Baal Shem Tov explained, there is something called a boteach , a mavtiach and a muvtach . The bote'ach is the one who puts his trust, the mavtiach is the one in whom he puts his trust and the muvtach is the object or reason for his trust. For example, a person puts his trust in Hashem(the Mavtiach ) to give him parnasa , but it's the job(the muvtach) that he has that enables him to trust in Hashem. This person is not a full bote'ach . A full bote'ach does not need any potential cause to give him bitachon . He knows Hashem could give him parnasa in any way that He wants. This is what it means, ברוך הגבר אשר יבטח בה ' – fortunate is the one who puts his trust in Hashem – והיה ה' מבטחו – and it is Hashem alone that is his reason to trust. He is the mavtiach and He is the muvtach as well. That is real bitachon . And a person could test himself to see if he has it. Imagine, a person needed to borrow $10,000. He already asked everyone he knew and they all turned him down. He went to every gemach in the city and was turned down by them as well. He tried to calm himself down with the realization that Hashem could help him in an instant, in a way he may have never thought of. Suddenly, he thinks of a friend he didn't ask yet. Naturally, he would begin to feel calmer, even if he didn't know for sure that this friend had money. And even if he had the money, who said that the friend would agree to lend it. Even so, the person would still feel calmer because moments before he had no options, and now he had one. This potential option would give him hope and a feeling of calm. In this very common scenario, we would be witnessing somebody who does not have full-fledged bitachon . Someone with complete bitachon in Hashem does not need a potential idea to make him feel calmer. If he really believed that Hashem could send him a yeshua in any way that He wanted, he would not need to find comfort in a good idea. In truth, the person in our story really has no idea if his friend will help him. The calming feeling that he gets is because he made up in his mind that it is a good option. In reality, nothing changed from the moment before he thought of that option to the moment after. A person could train himself to get the same calming feeling with the knowledge that Hashem could do anything. If he is able to feel trust in Hashem and calm himself down with the knowledge of His abilities and mercy, then he will have true bitachon and that is the mitzvah which merits him to be surrounded by Hashem's kindness. This applies in all areas of life, not only money. Bitachon is a great mitzvah, but it requires real work of the mind, then the mind has to penetrate the heart to feel calm. The goal is not just to get what we want, the goal is the mitzvah itself, to feel calm because we know that we are in Hashem's hands.
The pasuk says in Kohelet, את הכל עשה יפה בעתו גם את העלם נתן בלבם , and Chazal are doresh the missing vav in the word העלם /world to mean that Hashem hid from Man something very important about the world. He makes our hearts feel that this world is the main purpose of Creation. Rabbi Menashe Reisman gave a mashal of a movie producer with great wisdom who is able to make his audience feel that what is happening on the screen is real. And during different parts of the movie, their emotions constantly change. At one point, they are very afraid. At another point, they start crying. And then they are calm and happy. Kavayachol , that is how Hashem made this world. People think that everything depends on their positions and status in the world. They think it is worth it to invest all their time in building themselves up in this world. It seems as though wealth and honor are what really matter the most. It's only through the Torah that we are able to understand that this world is just a vestibule, a path to get to the Next World. One day, Hashem is going to turn the lights on, and we will see with our own eyes what we thought was so important was really הבל הבלים . The only thing that matters is our performance of Torah and mitzvot. In this world, there are a lot of questions. It seems like bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. Why is this person financially successful and that one isn't? Why is this person married and that one is not? Why does this one have children and that one doesn't? All of these are very strong questions in the reality that the main purpose is for this world. But once someone knows there is a much bigger picture and this world is just a drop in the bucket compared to the Eternal World, then the questions aren't so strong anymore. Rabbi Avraham Genichovsky used to pray in a vatikin minyan every day in Bnei Brak. One day, out of nowhere, right in the middle of the day, one of the members of the shul passed away. He wasn't old and he wasn't sick. And at the funeral, someone asked the Rabbi a question, he said, “It says in Chazal if someone prays vatikin he will not get damaged that day. And so how did this man pass away suddenly on a day that he prayed vatikin ?” Rabbi Avraham looked at him and said, “You think leaving this world to go to the Real World is called damage?” And he gave this person a mashal . He said, “Imagine somebody paid top dollar to get a first-class ticket on a flight from, let's say, America to Israel. What if the flight would get in two and a half hours earlier than expected? Would the person complain saying it's not fair, he deserved more time in first class? He would be happy that he arrived at the real destination much quicker. Someone who did his job in this world properly does not consider it damaging to get to the Real World earlier than expected.” Those who truly know what this world is about do not have so many questions. The Shomer Emunim writes in his Ma'amar Emunah in perek 7, one of the tikkunim necessary to be made before the Mashiach comes is in the area of emunah. If a person will have simple emunah, he can bring about a tikkun for the entire generation. His emunah will stop many tragedies from taking place. Imagine if someone would have a lot of questions about the difficulties he is going through and instead of complaining, he wholeheartedly accepts the will of Hashem and continues to do his avodah happily. The tikkun he would make would be unparalleled. We are now living in the End of Days. We can all contribute to making the ultimate tikkun in emunah by purifying our hearts and trusting in Hashem. B'ezrat Hashem, that will give us the zechut to merit the great light of Mashiach bekarov .
There are many situations in which people have great needs but the odds of them getting what they need are extraordinarily low. The natural feelings in those situations would be to despair of getting help. It could be a doctor giving a patient a negative report, it could be a specialist telling a couple they most probably will never have children, it could be a financial analyst telling a person his business will never succeed, and the list goes on. What is the proper attitude a person is supposed to have when facing those bleak scenarios? The pasuk says in parashat Shoftim , כי תצא למלחמה על אויבך וראית סוס ורכב עם רב ממך, לא תירא מהם . The pasuk there is speaking about the Jewish People going to fight a war and it says, if they saw a nation much larger and stronger than them charging towards them, they were not allowed to be afraid. And the pasuk concludes with the reason, כי ה' אלוקיך עמך, המעלך מארץ מצרים – because they had Hashem on their side. The same Hashem who obliterated the entire Egypt, the greatest superpower at the time. Rabbi Matityahu Solomon, shlita , explained, a charging nation that is more numerous and powerful seems like it presents a major problem. According to the natural way of the world, it would appear that death was imminent. According to the statistics, the Jewish People would have no chance at beating the opposing army. For that the Torah tells them, winning wars has absolutely nothing to do with statistics or odds. It does not matter at all how strong the opposing nation is. The reason- because wars are decided by Hashem and only Hashem. And therefore, there is nothing to fear. Not only was there nothing to fear, the Torah even gave a negative commandment forbidding the people to fear. Rabbenu Yonah in the Shaareh Teshuva writes that although that command was speaking to the Jewish People at large regarding wars of mitzvah, it applies to every single individual whenever he is facing adversity. In the words of Rabbenu Yonah, והוזהרנו בזה שאם ירא אדם דצרה קרובה, תהיה ישועת ה' בלבבו ויבטח עליו . We are being told here that if a person ever sees that trouble is imminent, he should realize, Hashem is the only One in charge. He should feel the salvation of Hashem in his heart and rely on Him to produce it. This means, when the doctor says the odds of becoming healed are extremely slim, that is a calling on the patient to recognize he has Hashem and, to Hashem, odds don't matter. That reality should be so strong in a person's mind that it should enable him to overcome his natural fear and feel calm, knowing that he is completely in the hands of Hashem, the One who loves him so much and always does what is best for him. So it comes out that whenever a person is facing these types of situations, he should know, he has a mitzvah from the Torah to ignore the odds and feel confident in the salvation of Hashem. He should continue making the normal hishtadlut and he should pray to Hashem and know that to Hashem there is never such a thing as odds.
Avraham Avinu's tent was open on all four sides because he wanted to spare his guests the trouble of going around to find the door. Avraham is called the pillar of chesed that the world stands upon, yet all of his chesed is merely hinted to in four words in the Torah "ויטע אשל בבאר שבע". The one example of chesed that the Torah does elaborate upon in this week's parasha Vayera is about the chesed that Avraham did with angels, who don't even need chesed to be done with them. Why was this the one example chosen? Mefarshim tell us, what impresses Hashem, kavayachol , the most are the mitzvot that we do when it is difficult. In this instance, Avraham was sick. It was the hottest day in history, and he still did his chesed with the same fervor and enthusiasm. This act of chesed is what made all of his other acts of chesed so much more valuable. Rabbi Zilberstein explained this concept with a story told to him from a trustworthy man. This man told the Rabbi about a dream he had. In his dream he saw himself being judged by the Heavenly court and it wasn't going well for him. Then, a defending angel said, "He deserves to be treated better. He made sure that for his entire life he never ate something not-kosher." Then, a prosecuting angel said, "Yeah, but almost all the stores in his neighborhood sold kosher food." Then a defending angel said, "That's true, but one time when he was away and kosher food was unavailable, he sacrificed not to put anything in his mouth that was even questionable. He searched and searched until he found something kosher. And since that is how much he valued the mitzvah, the kashrut that he kept his whole life has the same value." This defendant's words were accepted in Heaven. That means our deeds done under trying circumstances uplift all the other ones we do when it is easy. People may complain when they run into obstacles, especially when they are trying to fulfill mitzvot. They might even think that Hashem is pushing them away, chas v'shalom . But in actuality, Hashem is giving them an opportunity to sacrifice for the mitzvah and thereby increase the reward that they will gain every other time that they do that mitzvah. For example, if a person is in an area that he is not familiar with and he looks up information about finding a minyan there, and it says there is going to be a minyan the next morning at 6:45 am in a place that is 30 minutes from where he is staying. He wakes up the next morning and makes sure to get there early, only to find that the doors are locked and there is no one in sight. After waiting 15 minutes, it becomes apparent there will not be a minyan in that shul. He then begins looking to see if there are any other minyanim in the area. He finds there is an 8:00 minyan 45 minutes from where he is. He looks at his watch and sees if he leaves then he can still make it. But then he thinks, I already tried. I woke up early, I drove for a half an hour to get here and it didn't work. Maybe I'm just going to pray by myself. Then he strengthens himself and says, No, I'm going to sacrifice for minyan. And he drives for 45 minutes and arrives just in time to a full crowd and prays there with minyan. That experience would upgrade the value of him praying in minyan all of the other times in his life by hundredfold. That would be the one example that Hashem would write about him if He wanted to describe this man's praying with minyan. It was well worth it for him to drive two long drives and to wake up early, to have that minyan experience. It will define his adherence to praying with minyan. The same applies with every mitzvah that we do. We don't enjoy experiencing the difficulties involved in accomplishing them, but we have to know when those difficulties come up, they are our keys to success. Hashem sends them with love and admiration. He knows we could rise to the challenge and in them lies all our glory. Shabbat Shalom
The danger in Israel is at a very high level, yet its residents are walking the streets calm and cool. If we ask them why they aren't fleeing the country, they will ask us why we aren't going there. Rabbi Menashe Reisman explained this phenomenon with the Sefat Emet in parashat Behar who said that there is a special blessing in the Land that even the common citizen has a very high level of bitachon there. He brings it from the midrash on the pasuk וישבתם לבטח בארצכם – in the Land of Israel the people will dwell in security. With this, he explains that the mitzvah of Shemita is only in Israel, because only there can every farmer have the bitachon to leave their lands fallow for an entire year. Something that seems reckless to the common person is a matter of fact to those who live in the Land. The Bat Ayin extends this tranquility even outside of Israel to those who keep Shabbat properly. He says they can get that same segula of feeling secure at least on the day of Shabbat. Rav Yechezkel Levenstein was living in Israel during a very dangerous time and he wrote a letter to his children who lived in chutz l'aretz . He told them, “the fear and trepidation that everyone is talking about is only outside of Israel. Where we are, baruch Hashem, there is no fear. Especially us living in Yerushalayim . And if you'll ask me what is the cause of this, I would say perhaps it is the blessing in the Torah of וישבתם בארץ לבטח .” Rav Yechezkel Sarna was also living in Israel during that dangerous time and he wrote in his sefer Daliot Yechezkel the following: “Israel is in extremely troubling times now, but everyone here is calm and tranquil.” He admitted that it seemed very strange that all those who lived outside of Israel were living in extreme fear and those living in Israel, where the danger actually existed, were completely calm. The same phenomenon exists today. Gedolei Yisrael even told those in chutz l'aretz to come back to Israel to learn, even though Israel is a makom of sakana and the Rabbis are always so careful when it comes to life. It is a strong question of how they can say this, but the question would only come from someone living outside the Land. Those living in Eretz Yisrael have a completely different perspective. It can't be explained, it's a special segula of the Land. Of course the people in Israel have to be careful and heed all the warning sirens and make the proper hishtadlut to be safe, but we are happy to know that their everyday lives are even calmer than ours. They are enjoying the special beracha of the Land. May Hashem bring us all there with the coming of the Mashiach bekarov . Amen.
It says in the Pirkeh d'Rabi Eliezer , perek 29, Bilaam said out of the seventy leshonot (languages) that Hashem created, he only put His Name in one of them: Yisrael. With one exception: Yishmael. And since, in this regard, Yisrael and Yishmael are equal, אוי מי יחיה משמו אל – Woe are to the ones who have to live with the people whom Hashem put His Name in. Why did Hashem put His Name in Yishmael? Says the Pirkeh d'Rabi Eliezer , because Hashem is going to hear the cries of His own Nation as a result of what the offspring of Yishmael will do to them in the Land in the End of Days. The Rambam wrote in his Igeret Teman , there is no nation that wants to harm and do evil to us as much as Yishmael. They are a nation who are filled with sheker and are able to make the world think they are innocent victims. The Maharal asked, we know there are four main exiles: Edom, Paras, Madai and Yavan. If in the End of Days we have to experience the galut Yishmael, why isn't he on the list of galuyot ? The Maharal answered that the four kingdoms listed all have in common that they derive their powers specifically by subjugating the Jewish People. Yishmael, on the other hand, was given his own power because he is an offspring of Avraham. It's brought down, when the Mashiach comes, there is going to be a grand seuda with the greatest people of all time in attendance. And when it comes time for the Birkat HaMazon , they are going to ask Avraham Avinu to lead the zimun , but he is going to decline, saying he can't do it because he had Yishmael. All of the Avot, as well as Moshe Rabbenu and others are going to pass the cup up, until it gets to David HaMelech and he is going to make the zimun, as it says, כוס ישועות אשא ובשם ה' אקרא . I once heard a question, didn't David have a wicked son also, Avshalom? Why would he take the cup if Avraham didn't? One answer may be, the reason Avraham is going to pass up the cup is not because his son was a rasha . In fact, Yishmael did teshuva at the end of his life. Rather, it's because he will witness the destruction that Yishmael brought upon his beloved children, destruction that we have witnessed with our own eyes. All of the other nations want to harm us because they are jealous that we are the chosen people, while Yishmael feels he was chosen as well and is motivated out of pure evil. Rabbi Menashe Reisman elaborated, there was never another people who screamed “G-d is great!” while doing their acts of destruction. They think they are fighting in the name of G-d. And while they are saying “G-d is great” in their acts of terror, we are screaming out, “ Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokenu Hashem Echad ”. We know that our power is greater, if we utilize it properly. A man told he had two daughters in harm's way when Yishmael was attacking on Shemini Atzeret. They called up their father that day in a panic. He told them to hide and he kept repeating the words Shema Yisrael for them to say, as they didn't know it. He was repeating every word and they hid for six hours, saying Shema Yisrael , Shema Yisrael , And the terrorists passed by them numerous times without detecting them. The only thing Yishmael is here for in the End of Days is to get us to cry out to Hashem. That is the essence of their name. Let us utilize our greatest weapon of tefila to bring the Mashiach now. Everyone needs to pray heartfelt tefilot . A person can pray for whatever they want. They just need to call out to Hashem with sincerity. All He wants is to hear our voices. He wants us to understand this is His world and He is in charge. The more we follow the mitzvot , the more powerful our prayers will become. Let us call out to Hashem with sincerity and real emotion at every tefila and b'ezrat Hahsem we will celebrate the geula bekarov . Amen.
There is a claim against Noach that he should have prayed to save his generation like Avraham prayed to save Sodom. And for that reason, the pasuk calls the Mabul מי נח . The Midrash tells us: after the Mabul, Noach asked Hashem to never bring a Mabul again and Hashem agreed. Then Noach asked Hashem how he was able to destroy His beautiful world in the first place. Hashem replied, "Now you ask me that? You should have prayed before the Mabul that it shouldn't have happened." It says regarding Avraham Avinu, he stopped praying for Sodom when he found out that there weren't even ten righteous people there. And the reason he stopped at ten is he learned from Noach, because by Noach there were only eight righteous people with him, plus Hashem. And that's why Noach didn't pray to prevent the Mabul. So, Rabbi Simcha Wasserman asked, based on this, "Why did Hashem tell Noach that he should have prayed to prevent the Mabul? After all, the rule is you don't ask to save a place on behalf of less than ten righteous people." Rabbi Wasserman answered that it didn't have to be the rule. If Noach would have prayed, he could have prevented the Mabul with only nine righteous people or even less, but because he decided ten was the number, that became the rule. We learned from here. We should never limit Hashem's capabilities and decide on our own what we think is possible to happen. We can stunt the power of Tefillah when we make too many calculations if things are possible or not. How great is our Emunah expected to be in hoping for our Hashem's salvations? Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein quoted the Ramban regarding Sarah Imenu laughing when the angel told her she would have a child the following year. The Ramban asked, "Why did Hashem have a claim against Sarah for that? After all, she didn't know that her guests were angels. She thought they were simple wayfarers. She also was almost ninety years old, way beyond the age of childbearing. What did she do wrong?" The Ramban says, She should have still believed that at her advanced age having a child was possible, because a Jew is expected to believe that nothing is hard for Hashem to do. There is no such thing as standard when it comes to Hashem. Everything exists by the will of Hashem. היפלא מה' דבר ?. At every moment, Hashem is recreating the entire world. Like it says המחדש בכל יום תמיד מעשה בראשית "If something appears to be out of the realm of possibility, it is our job to say, "It's not the causes that cause things to happen, it's only Hashem." An older woman can still have children. A deathly ill patient can still be cured. אפילו חרב חדה מונחת על צווארו של אדם , even if there's a sharp sword on a person's neck and death seems imminent, אל ימנע עצמו מן הרחמים , he's still supposed to hope and pray for Hashem's salvation. If we believe היפלא מה' דבר and we pray with emunah, we can have salvation that would not have come had we not believed that. It's up to the person to believe and pray. Hashem is unlimited and wants us to feel that way. And even if a person is not supposed to pray for an open miracle, he could still pray for Hashem to help him in a way that's not considered an open miracle. Hashem could do anything. It's up to us to believe it and pray with that Emunah and B'ezrat Hashem, we will see the greatest yeshuot.
The Midrash at the beginning of this week's parasha , Lech Lecha , gives a mashal to explain the first time Avraham heard the voice of Hashem. The mashal is of a person traveling on the road and he sees a building on fire. Nobody is doing anything to put the fire out and it is in jeopardy of spreading. The person says to himself, “It looks like there is no one in charge of this building.” Then, all of a sudden, the building owner calls to the person from one of the windows and says, “I am in charge of this building.” The Mefarshim explain, Avraham figured out that Hashem created the world, but as he began to ponder different things that were happening in the world, it appeared as if there was no one in charge of it. And then Hashem called out to him and said, “I am running the world.” Hashem did not tell Avraham why things were happening the way they were, he just told him not to worry because everything was under complete control. “Yes, the building is burning, but I'm doing it. There is a reason for it and that is all you need to know.” Avraham was called the Rosh Hama'aminim – the first one to have emunah in Hashem. Emunah does not mean that we have the answers to difficult questions. It means we believe Hashem is in charge and we trust that He is doing what is absolutely best. Today, we are living in a time when the ‘building is burning'. We have witnessed the most horrific tragedies. There are thousands of people in mourning, thousands of people with anxiety, not knowing what is going to happen with their loved ones, and millions of people on edge, not knowing what the future holds. We do not have the capabilities to understand what Hashem is doing, but we must know, the building owner is in charge. He has it all covered. He is in complete control. In every tragedy, Hashem peers from a crack in the window and shows us that He is here. We have heard dozens of stories of different people how they were saved, many of them in miraculous ways. We can never know why one person got saved and the other one didn't. We don't know why this one was taken hostage and that one wasn't. We don't know why certain hostages have been released and others haven't. We can't explain anything. Even when it comes to people who violate Shabbat, our Rabbis have taught us, they are considered tinok shenishba . People born into families who haven't been religious for generations, they don't violate Shabbat because they want to go against Hashem; they simply don't know better. Rabbi Menashe Reisman said, if we would be able to see the history of each person how he ended up in the life that he is in, we would most probably see so much good that he has done and would completely understand why he doesn't know a thing about Torah and mitzvot. Rav Chaim Vital writes, there are deep secrets in Shamayim as to why someone would be born into a completely irreligious family, secrets far too complex for us to understand. Every soul has a different purpose for coming into the world and Hashem puts every neshama in the exact family and place that it needs to be in to do its job. It's not our job to explain the ways of Hashem, it's our job to trust that He is controlling everything and doing exactly what is necessary for each person's benefit. This is the message that Hashem gave to Avraham the first time He spoke to him and this is the message that every Jew must take to heart. Everything is under control. As for us, we have to do our job of following Torah and mitzvot to the best of our ability and everything else we leave to Hashem. Shabbat Shalom.
הקול קול יעקב והידיים ידי עשו . The goyim fight with their hands and weapons while we fight with our voices – the voices of Torah and tefila. אלה ברכב ואלה בסוסים – they have chariots and horses to fight with – ואנחנו בשם ה' אלוקינו נזכיר – but we fight by calling out to Hashem our G-d. They are subject to the rules of nature, while we transcend nature. In all the wars that Klal Yisrael was involved in, we always knew how powerless we were. All our strength comes only from Hashem. אין לנו על מי להישען רק על אבינו שבשמים . That has always been the key to our success. All the way back when we were trapped by the Egyptians at the Yam Suf, until today, when we cry out to Hashem for help, only then do we get saved. Today is the yahrtzeit of Rachel Imenu. She continues to pray for us in Shamayim like it says, רחל מבכה על בניה . About a decade ago, we were involved in a ground invasion of Gaza and every soldier entering that territory was in grave danger. The Rabbanit of Rav Mordehcai Elihayu, zatzal , told that the day before the operation, she told her husband, “Our children are going into the lion's den. Go to Kever Rachel and pray to Hashem to save them. Ask Rachel Imenu to pray on their behalf as well.” As she recalled what happened afterward, she said she was filled with goose bumps. The Rabbi went and said, “Rachel Imenu, I am appointing you as an agent to watch over your children so that no harm should befall them.” Soldiers who were on the battlegrounds would later tell about the amazing miracles that they experienced. As they were about to enter a certain home in Gaza, suddenly a woman dressed like an Arab appeared and told them not to enter. She said, “They are waiting for you there. The building will explode.” The soldiers then went to another home and, once again, the woman was there telling them not to enter. This happened a third time and they asked this woman who she was. She said, “I'm Rachel, your mother.” Sure enough, all three homes exploded and, baruch Hashem, these soldiers came back alive and well to tell of the miracle. Hashem has millions of ways of saving us, but first we must truly believe that we have no one else other than Him. Because the Israeli Army today is known to be powerful and America is backing it as well, this job becomes harder to do. We must never get fooled by what meets the eye. The pasuk says in Hoshea , אשור לא יושיענו, על סוס לא נרכב ולא נאמר עוד אלוקינו למעשה ידינו . Rav Chaim Shmuelovitz explained this pasuk during the Yom Kippur War. He said אשור לא יושיענו means we can't put our faith in America. על סוס לא נרכב means we can't put our faith in our Air Force. ולא נאמר עוד אלוקינו למעשה ידינו means we can't put our faith in our Army. אשר בך ירוחם יתום – we have no one to rest upon other than Hashem. Our prayers are what win wars. Baruch Hashem, our soldiers know this as well. They are begging us to pray for them. They are arming themselves with tzitzit and tefillin . We must not let up. We must continue storming Shamayim for Hashem to protect us and to bring the Mashiach tzidkenu .
Please join the leading Rabbis in Israel TODAY, Wednesday, 10/25/23 live at 1:25pm (NY/NJ/FL time) at Kever Rachel for a powerful and unified Tefilah as we come together to pray for Israel during this challenging time. Click here to join: https://gocast.co.il/central- live/ Our Avot and Imahot were from the greatest people who ever lived. They brought so much satisfaction to Hashem and were so loved by Him. Yet, their lives were filled with difficulties. They had to wait years and years to have children. They had to cry buckets of tears and pray thousands of tefilot until they finally got their yeshuot . Esav and Yishmael, on the other hand, had children right away with no difficulty. They were able to marry right away also with no difficulty. One might ask, does that seem fair? The answer is, if this world was only about this world, that would be a good question, but there is so much more than meets the eye. We have so much to achieve in this world of toil in order to live on forever in the real world of eternity. One of the greatest ways to elevate ourselves is through heartfelt tefila and, usually, when a person has a very pressing need, that brings out the most heartfelt tefilot . We are in this world on a mission. We need to get as close to Hashem as possible and when we find ourselves in need of salvation, it usually brings out the spiritual part of ourselves the most. And then, after all the heartfelt tefilot , if we see that glorious salvation from Hashem, it brings us to such a state of closeness to Him. We feel overwhelming gratitude knowing that it was Him who helped us. The Bet Yisrael from Ger once said about a young man who got married right away, then had a baby boy right away, his parnasa was completely taken care of, his shalom bayit was perfect, the Rabbi said, “How is he going to recognize Hashem in his life?” Now it is true, there are people who know how to cry tears of gratitude to Hashem for the blessings He has bestowed upon them, however, it is obvious that those who first didn't have and had to spend countless hours of heartfelt tefila and only after received their needs, their tears of gratitude are much more heartfelt, and their journey has brought them much closer to Hashem. So, although we all prefer to have everything we want right away and we may feel that Hashem is angry at us when we don't get what we want, that is not the case at all. Hashem withholds things for our own benefit. He loves to hear us pray for our own good. We can't imagine how great we become from each prayer. This is what life is all about, forging a bond with HaKadosh Baruch Hu . People who have been waiting so many years to get married, or so many years to have children, or so many years for whatever other need that they have, they should know, they are part of a very elite group which includes the great Avot and Imahot . Sarah had to pray for decades to have a child. There is no such thing as saying, “I tried prayer already, it didn't work, so I'm going to stop.” There is so much more to life than just getting what we want as quickly as possible. Our greatness is determined by the way we act before the salvation comes. Hashem told us that, kavayachol , He has needs as well. His Throne is not complete. He needs us to do our jobs, ישראל מפרנסים את אביהם שבשמים . So just like we have a yearning for Hashem to take care of our needs, kavayachol , He also has a yearning for us to take care of His. When we go to pray and beg for what we need, we should also beg for the geula and the Mashiach and for Hashem's Name to be glorified once again. Then, kavayachol , we are doing for Him as well. When a person is lacking in life, it is not a punishment, it is a blessing in disguise, but only on condition that he answers the call and uses that need as a catalyst to get closer to Hashem.
One of our main jobs in this world is to bring glory to Hashem. Hashem wants all of His children to follow Torah and mitzvot. And when His close ones act the way they are supposed to, it will automatically inspire the rest of His children to follow. Rabbi Binyamin Pruzanski told two of such examples. The first was about Sruly who was returning from America to Israel via Rome. As he was waiting in the airport to check his luggage in, he noticed a group of irreligious Israeli students, who had been studying in a medical school in Italy, waiting to check in as well. One of those students had a bag that was overweight. He was trying to argue with the attendant that it was just a few pounds over, but he wasn't getting anywhere. His friends, as well as the other people behind him were getting impatient, telling him to move to the side and just pay the overage. Sruly decided to help out. He went over to that man, named Itai, and said to him, “I have extra room in my suitcase. You can put some of your things in my bag and when we get to Israel, you can take them back.” At first Itai refused, not wanting to take help from a chassidic Jew. But Sruly insisted and finally Itai agreed. In the middle of the flight, Itai approached Sruly to properly thank him and then asked him if he had tefillin that he could borrow. Sruly said, “Yes, of course,” and took them out from the overhead compartment. Then, Itai asked if he could show him how to put them on. He said, “I want to tell you, I have never put on tefillin in my life. When I was stuck at that counter and everybody else was getting aggravated at me, nobody cared except you. I said to myself, if you could help a total stranger like that, it must have been from the Torah that you follow. I want to know more about it and I would love it if you could help me.” Sruly made a kiddush Hashem by doing a very simple chesed . He brought glory to the Name of Hashem and brought one of His children closer to Him. The second story was about Reuven from Bnei Brak. He was looking to wave down a taxi and finally spotted one. When he got into the back seat, he noticed something unusual about the driver. He was a young man with a trimmed beard wearing a suit and tie. He looked like he was on the way to a wedding. Reuven couldn't contain his curiosity and asked him why he was all dressed up. The man said he actually got married the night before. Reuven said with astonishment, “What? A chatan is not supposed to work right after his wedding!” The man explained, he was over his head in debt and couldn't go a day without work. Both he and his wife came from poor families and they had to come up with all the money themselves for the wedding. Reuven never heard of a chatan so poor that he had to go to work the day after his wedding. Determined to do something to help, he wrote out a check for 1000 shekels and handed it to the driver. He said, “Please, take this as a wedding present and promise me that after you drop me off, you'll go straight home to your wife.” Overjoyed by the thoughtfulness of his passenger, the driver assured Reuven he would do just that. A few days later, Reuven received a letter from the wife of that driver. She wrote how she waited so long to get married but was struggling now so much with the financials that it was ruining everything. She added that when her husband left for work the day after their wedding, she burst into tears. But then, when he came early with the money that he got, it changed everything. When she was told that the one who gave him the money was a religious Jew, she was so impressed that she accepted upon herself to light the Shabbat candles and keep Shabbat. We have no idea of the impact we can make when we go out of our way to help somebody else. Especially when our actions give off the impression of how beautiful the Torah and mitzvot really are.
A person's emunah is very precious to Hashem and when a person has every reason to complain, or to be angry, yet he still has emunah, that raises him to the highest levels. That is one of the ways in which a person can catapult himself to greatness in a very short amount of time. Our nation, throughout history, has had steadfast emunah. The hardships and difficulties that we have to endure only make our relationship with Hashem even stronger. The pasuk says in Shir HaShirim , מצאוני השמורים הסובבים בעיר הכוני פצעוני – the watchmen who make rounds in the city, found me, beat me and wounded me. The Chofetz Chaim used to think when saying this pasuk , the Jew throughout history had to take so many punches and bruises, even people who were supposed to be guarding us attacked us instead. The Jew has been tormented, disgraced and ridiculed everywhere he goes. Yet despite all of our hardships the pasuk continues, אם תמצאו את דודי מה תגידו לו – when Hashem will finally reveal Himself in the future and we will see the radiance of the Shechina , what are we going to tell Him? שחולת אהבה אני – that we were lovesick for Him. No matter what we went through, our love never dissipated. This is the glory of a Jew, to love Hahsem no matter what happens to him. But it goes even further. Chazal tell us, when Nevuchadnezar threw Mishael, Chanania and Azaria into the fiery furnace, miraculously they walked around unscathed. Nevuchadnezar was so inspired by that open miracle, he began singing praises of Hashem, praises so great that they threatened to put to shame all the songs and praises that David HaMelech gave Hashem in Sefer Tehillim . But then an angel came and hit Nevuchadnezar in the face and he stopped his praises. The question was asked, why would Hashem stop him from praising Him? Isn't a man supposed to have free will? The Kotzker Rebbe explained, Hashem wasn't stopping Nevuchadnezar, He was testing him. David HaMelech was able to sing the praises of Hashem while he was suffering the most difficult yissu r in. What happened when Nevuchadnezar got one hit? He couldn't continue his praises. He would not praise Hashem amidst pain. The Jewish People, on the other hand, not only do they not stop praising Hashem when in pain, the difficulties that they go through cause them to praise Hashem even more. The pasuk says, לאוהבי ולשומרי מצוותי ; Rabbi Natan in the Machilta explained, this is a reference to those who live in Eretz Yisrael and have to suffer at the hands of the goyim while trying with all their might to serve Hashem with Torah and mitzvot. They say, “Why am I being taken away to be killed? Because I do brit milah on my sons? Why am I taken to be burned? Because I learnTorah? Why am I taken to be crucified? Because I eat matzah on Pesach ?” The Midrash concludes with these words, המכות הללו גרמו לי לאהוב אבי שבשמים – the beatings that I take only cause me to love my Father in Heaven even more. Rav Chaim Shmuelovitz explained, they are not saying because we love Hashem so much we are able to endure the suffering, but rather it is the fact that we serve Hashem amidst the suffering that causes us to love Him even more. When someone sacrifices for someone else, it brings them closer and causes them to love more. It is during the most trying of times that we have the ability to increase our love for Hashem. Serving Him when we have reason not to, makes us so much greater and establishes an unbreakable bond between us. At this time, Klal Yisrael needs a lot of merit. Our ability to be moser nefesh and serve Hashem now, although we are crying inside and we have reason perhaps to look the other way, this will give us tremendous zechuyot and, b'ezrat Hashem, the merits of our increasing our avodah should protect us and give us the zechuyot needed to end this galut bikarov . Amen.
The pasuk says in Shir HaShirim , הגידה לי שאהבה נפשי איכה תרעה – Rashi explains, this is ruach hakodesh comparing the Jewish people to sheep who are beloved to their shepherd. We turn to HaKadosh Baruch Hu , our Shepherd, like a woman who turns to her loving husband. And we say הגידה לי שאהבה נפשי – tell me, the One who I love so much, how can Your sheep graze when they are amongst wolves who want to devour them. The pasuk continues: איכה תרביץ בצהריים - The midrash says this is referring to the חבלי משיח -the pangs of Mashiach , which are compared to the afternoon sun. The afternoon sun is very dangerous to the sheep who may become dehydrated from it. So the sheep cry out in distress to the shepherd to get rid of the sun from the world, but they don't know how much benefit the sun gives the world and how much benefit they get from the sun. The pangs of Mashiach are very difficult to deal with, but we must know, as always, even the difficulties are there for our benefit. How is it possible that anything good could possibly come out of holy Jewish people being brutally murdered in such a horrific way? We have no understanding of the ways of Hashem and we don't know 99.99% of His calculations, but a great rabbi once gave a little insight on another occasion when Jewish people were brutally murdered just because they were Jewish. The Rabbi said, besides for the fact that those people were considered kedoshim and chassidim for dying al kiddush Hashem, they also were being credited with all the millions of good deeds and improvements that the entire Jewish people had achieved as a direct result of their horrific deaths. Rabbi Menashe Reisman told a story of one of the people who were murdered on Shemini Atzeret. It was a man who was once part of Yeshivat Tifrach. He had since veered from the path and was at that festival on Shabbat morning. The Rosh Yeshiva came to be menachem avel after the burial, being that he used to be the Rosh Yeshiva of the niftar . When he started speaking, the boy's father said to him, “You don't need to give me any chizuk . My son came to me in a dream after he was buried. His face was glowing. He told me he was learning privately with HaKadosh Baruch Hu בכבודו ובעצמו .” We cannot imagine how high his neshama reached, to the greatest heights, from what took place. But it is hard for us to feel any consolation while we are still mourning and the danger is still lurking. The midrash already told that in the days preceding Mashiach , Hashem is going to call upon the Nevi'im to come and console us, but we will not be consoled. The Nevi'im will go back to Hashem to tell Him, עניה סוערה לא נוחמה – that His people cannot be consoled. And then, Hashem will come Himself to comfort us, like it says אנכי אנכי מנחמכם . He will then restore life to those who have passed on and they will once again be reunited with their families. ולא ישמע עוד חמס בארצך – we will no longer have Hamas in our midst. שוד ושבר בגבולך – or calamity and destruction in our borders. The Navi describes the Mashiach by saying, ברוח שפתיו ימית רשע – by the breath of his mouth will he kill our enemies. כי הנה ה' באש יבוא - Hashem will come with fire to eliminate all of those who tormented His People. שישו את ירושלים גילו בה כל אוהביה – those days are going to be the happiest days since the time of the world's creation. ועמך כולם צדיקים – everyone will be righteous. כי עין בעין יראו בשוב ה' את ציון – we will see Hashem returning to Tzion with our own eyes. These are the glorious days ahead. Now, we are still in the thick of the darkness, but the light will shine once more. And then, לא יהיה לך שמש לאור יומם והיה ה' לך לאור עולם – we will no longer need the sun for daylight because Hashem Himself will be our light. For now, we must hold strong, we must maintain our steadfast emunah in Hashem and we must improve to become the best ovdei Hashem we can be. And then, b'ezrat Hashem, we'll be zocheh to dance with the Mashiach bekarov . Amen. Shabbat Shalom
The Chovot HaLevavot writes that the bote'ach b'Hashem does not get distressed from the things that would normally distress a person. For example, if someone is not able to sell his merchandise or collect money that he is owed. Another example that he gives is if someone develops a health problem. How could it be that those things would not disturb the bote'ach b'Hashem ? It's because he knows for a fact that Hashem worries about his needs more than he does, and He chooses the best outcomes for him, better than he could ever choose for himself. He knows, if he knew why Hashem was giving him these things, he would be thanking Him to no end. He would understand that there could be nothing better for him than exactly what is happening. That is enough to keep him calm and composed. He doesn't need to know the reasons. He only needs to know that Hashem is in complete control and is determining every last thing that happens to him and is doing it with unending love and mercy. We are living in a very fearful time. People have a great deal of anxiety and understandably so. It is so important for a person to recognize that no matter what is going on and no matter who seems to be in control, everything that happens will only be determined by Hashem. Everything that takes place to our people as a whole and everything that happens in each individual's life is only controlled by Him. Hashem is still choosing the best possible circumstances for every single person to be in, in his own life. Of course, we are supposed to respond to this with better avodat Hashem, with more intense tefilot , with more unity and ahavat Yisrael , with more Torah and more mitzvot . We are to know that every little deed we do matters and has a major effect on the entire situation and the world at large. We spoke yesterday about improving in Torah and gemilut chasadim . The Chofetz Chaim also said that for a person to be zocheh to ותחזינה עינינו בשובך לציון – to see with his own eyes HaKadosh Baruch Hu , once again, rest His Presence in Yerushalayim in the Bet HaMikdash , he has to be careful what his eyes look at. Pure eyes will merit to take delight in seeing the radiance of the Shechina in the glorious days ahead. So, on one hand, the difficulties are supposed to motivate us to be the best that we can be and they are not meant to handicap a person with fear and trepidation. But at the same time, we must always remember the basics: Hashem is, was, and will always be the only One making all decisions at all times. And while Hashem is governing the affairs of the world at large, He is still intimately involved in every single person's life. A man told me his wife recently went to the hospital to deliver their child. When she arrived, they told her it was going to be a very long labor, so she asked her husband to please go get her a book to read. He came back later with a book on emunah which she read from. Unbeknownst to them, the child had Down Syndrome. The man told me, baruch Hashem, they are very happy and enjoying their baby immensely. Right before his wife went into the final stages of labor, she read a piece from that book and it was all about how great the neshamot of Down Syndrome children are and how they are going to be at the forefront to greet the Mashiach . That is what is giving them so much strength now. Out of the tens of thousands of books that her husband could have chosen from, he brought her back the one book that had the exact words that she needed to read before starting this new chapter in their lives. That is HaKadosh Baruch Hu lovingly telling them, You have to go through this for your best, but don't worry, I will be with you every step of the way. This is how it is in every person's life. Hashem is always with us and He wants us to know it.
There have been many times over the generations that were considered to be auspicious for Mashiach to come. Whether or not Mashiach actually comes depends on us . Now is definitely one of those times. On Succot, we read the Haftarah of the War of Gog U'Magog and the Tur brings from Rav Hai Gaon, that it's because that war will start on Succot and תחיית המתים will be on Pesach. Rabbi Menashe Reisman quoted the Gemara which tells us that Shemini Aseret is called Succot regarding bringing the makeup korban for someone who missed it at the beginning of Succot. Hashem shook up the world on the last day of Succot and we are still in the middle of it. It says in Zachariah ( perek יד ) that a day will come when all the nations of the world will come to Israel for war. May Hashem protect us. Rabbi Meir Shapiro wrote, in his sefer אור המאור , over a hundred years ago, many hints that the year תשפד which we just began, is a potential year for Mashiach. One of the hints he brings is that in Mitzrayim during Makat Choshech, it was revealed to the Jews the same light that will appear in the days of Mashiach and it says there, ולכל בני ישראל היה אור במשבתם the word במשבתם is the same numerical value as תשפד . The Chafetz Chaim wrote, in his sefer Chomat HaDat , that just like the redemption in Mitzrayim took place after the Jews cried out to Hashem, like it says ונצעק אל ה , so too, in the future, the Jews will need to cry out Hashem to bring Mashiach. Hashem wants us to yearn for it and pray for it with all of our hearts. We all want Mashiach to come, but we don't want it to happen through a difficult war. What can we do to protect ourselves? The Chafetz Chaim once said, imagine if we could ask the great rabbis of yesteryear like the Ketzot HaChoshen, or the Netivot what we should do at a time like this. We would all be so excited to seek their counsel. Imagine if we were able to ask Maran Bet Yosef or the Rama what to do. We wish we had Rav Chaim Kanievsky here with us to ask him, but this would be a much greater opportunity. Imagine the Rif or the Rambam would come back into this world and we could ask them what to do. The Chafetz Chaim said we have something much greater than all of them. We have a great Tanna , Rebbi Eliezer HaGadol, who told us exactly what we need to do. The Gemara says in Masechet Sanhedrin (98,B) that the students of Rebbi Eliezer once asked their rabbi, what should a person do to be saved from the Hevleh Mashiach . The rabbi told them they should delve into the study of Torah and in acts of kindness, it does not say just to learn Torah and do acts of kindness, but rather a person needs to delve in Torah and delve into performing Gemilut Hasadim . Just like a businessman does not rest until he achieves success in his business, we have to go over and above in our learning Torah and worrying about other people's needs. A person can choose, when he gets home from work, to open up a sefer or a Gemara and try to break his head comprehending the deep wisdom of Torah- that is called delving in Torah. The Chafetz Chaim wrote, when someone knows that another person is angry at him, it hurts that person a lot . Being a peacemaker is a tremendous c hessed . Taking away negative feelings and allowing people to move on happily is a great form of c hessed . Giving someone c hizuk and taking away anxious feelings from his heart is also a great c hessed . Praying for someone is a great c hessed . We can help so much from wherever we are, with heartfelt prayers on behalf of others. At this time of difficulty, people from all circles are uniting in a common cause. We need unity for Mashiach to come. Maybe if we will accept upon ourselves to continue loving and helping others, who don't share the same philosophies as us, beyond this time, that would be a tremendous zechut . May we experience the great light of Mashiach B'Karov, Amen.
The Gemara(Avoda Zara)says, When Hashem sends yesurin/afflictions upon a person, the yesurin take an oath that they will not leave the person until their designated day to leave arrives, at the exact minute they're supposed to leave, with the exact medication that's supposed to remove them. Rabbi Menashe Reisman quoted the Chatam Sofer who said that this only applies if the person does not make Teshuva in the interim. However, if, when the yesurin come, the person cries out to Hashem and accepts to become better, the yesurin will leave earlier. And even though the Gemara says the yesurin take an oath that they can't leave early, that oath is on condition that the person does not change. Which means, even though, for a person's own good, he has to go through certain afflictions sometimes, it is always in the person's hands to end those afflictions earlier. Our greatest tools are always Tefila, Teshuva and Maasim Tovim . In general, afflictions serve to bring about kapara , but we can achieve kapara in other ways, namely teshuva . In the days of the Chatam Sofer, there was a war going on, and he said then that a person must know that in Shamayim there is an exact time that this war was to begin, and there's an exact time that the war is supposed to end. And so too, today, without a question, Hashem has an exact date when this war will end. However, we can make it happen earlier with our teshuva and good deeds. Every improvement we make goes a very long way. Every Tefila goes a very long way. The Mesilat Yesharim writes in Perek יט , that if a person thinks to himself, Who am I to pray for the Geula? Will my prayers really bring about the kibbutz galuyot and the Mashiach? The answer is, Of course they will. It is to combat this claim that Chazal tell us, Hashem created man alone to teach us that everyone should say, “The world was created on my behalf, ..Hashem will change the entire world just because of me .” Every single Jew has this awesome power, and now, more than ever, we need to take advantage of it and have more focus. When we're praying, we need to have more kavana in the beracha of Bonei Yerushalayim . We need to have more kavana in the beracha of Et Semach David . We need to have more kavana in the beracha of Teka B'Shofar, and Hasheva Shofetenu. When we say the words Umalchut Harish'ah Mehera … we can have in mind that Hashem should get rid of these horrible terrorists. When we say Rachem in the Birkat Hamazon , if we focus more, we can bring about the greatest yeshuot . We're asking Hashem to have mercy Al Yisrael Amach, v'al Yerushalayim Irach …. So much is riding on our tefilot and good deeds. If everyone will improve in their deeds and in their tefilot , the Geula will arrive. B'Ezrat Hashem, we should see it soon. Amen.
One of the punishments that Adam HaRishon received for his sin was that the ground became cursed. The sefer Moshcheni Acharecha writes that before the sin of Adam, if he would've seeded the Earth, it would've produced 40 years' worth of bounty, and the crop would have been the most robust and tasty possible. After the sin, however, the ground would only produce after much effort on the part of Adam, and even after all of his efforts, it would only produce a small amount, and the crop would be much more inferior than it used to be. This was a terrible curse. Now Adam had to spend hours upon hours of his time working, and after it all, he would still get much less than he used to get when he only had to put in a little effort. The Chiddushei HaRim says this curse was given with an abundance of mercy, as illustrated from the following story: One of the Chiddushei HaRim's students had a prosperous business and was very wealthy. However, one day the business went sour, and the man lost all his money. In a short amount of time, he found himself struggling just to put food on the table. The man went to the Chiddushei HaRim, his Rebbi. The Rebbi told him, Hashem is big. Pray hard for help. The man said he would, but then he asked the Rebbi if he should get in touch with his relatives in America to ask them for help. They were extremely wealthy and could easily help him. The Rebbi told him, A bsolutely not . The man listened and continued praying for a yeshua , but the situation got even worse, so the man went back to the Rebbi, this time in tears, saying he couldn't continue on without money. He begged the Rebbi to allow him to send a letter to his relatives to ask them for help. The Rebbi stood his ground and once again told him not to. He then gave his student chizuk to turn only to Hashem for help. The man went back home and, seeing his hungry children, was not able to withstand the test, so he went against what his Rebbi told him and wrote a letter to his relatives in America. He described what had happened to his business and how dire the situation had become. When they received the letter, their hearts opened up and they sent him an exorbitant amount of money. He had enough to open a new business, and in no time it became successful. But then, a new issue arose. The man got sick and had to go to the hospital. While there, his condition kept worsening until the doctor said there was no hope. He called for the Rebbi to come to give him a beracha. When the Rebbi arrived, he said, “ I don't think I can help you. I knew that in Shamayim, it was decreed that you were supposed to die, but Hashem, in His infinite mercy, took away your business and your money instead. I told you not to go to your family for help because I knew what this kapara was doing for you.” Imagine, when this man was crying out day and night for help with his parnasa and never saw an answer, he must have felt that Hashem wasn't listening to his Tefilot . He may have even become angry seeing how his family was suffering. But little did he know, Hashem was giving him the ultimate help. He was giving him life, and that's the biggest blessing he could have gotten! Hashem told Adam that if he ate from the tree, he was going to die. But then instead, Hashem gave him a lot of kapara , including cursing the earth, and that enabled Adam to live for hundreds of more years. It seemed harsh, but it was filled with mercy. We don't know what's good for us. It is incumbent upon us to always pray hard for what we need, but at the same time, we must know that Hashem is always acting out of love and mercy, whether we get the salvations we're hoping for, or not.
Dedicated in Honor of Jack Terzi There are hundreds of thousands of Jews in danger at this moment- Mothers who said goodbye to their children going to battle, not knowing if they will ever see them again. People being held hostage by the cruelest beings on the planet. Tens of thousands of people mourning the losses of their loved ones. Frantic parents continue to search for their children, and thousands of people are injured, many of whom are fighting for their lives. It is incumbent upon us to do whatever we can to help. Baruch Hashem, people from all over the world are sending supplies and food, and in most cases it's Pikuach Nefesh . People who are home-bound are literally out of food. Ashrechem Yisrael ! People are doing everything in their power to help those in need. Rabbi Menashe Reisman quoted from the Chatam Sofer in Parashat Baha'alotcha that the first Sedaka everyone has to perform is giving of their hearts to their fellow Jews. We have to be Noseh B'Ol Im Havero and feel the pain that our brothers are suffering. How can we enjoy ourselves with the regular pleasures of life when so many people are suffering? When it comes to things as simple as sitting in the car and listening to music, a person should say, How can I relax and enjoy myself when my brothers and sisters are worried about their very lives? Every moment of enjoyment and relaxation that we give up, to share in their pain, goes a very long way. Taking time out to go to tehilim gatherings and chizuk gatherings rather than going out for dinner, are wonderful things that show that we are sharing in their pain, aside from all of the zechuyot that they are bringing about. The Chatam Sofer writes in Bamidbar יא that although every person who experiences difficulties is supposed to accept them with love and happiness, everyone else around them is supposed to feel pain for them. And even if we see that the people suffering are accepting it with joy, we don't say, ‘ Baruch Hashem, they're accepting it, so everything is fine.' No! Everybody else's Avodah is to feel the pain that they should be experiencing. From the words of the Chatam Sofer, it sounds like the more others feel the pain, the easier it becomes on the ones going through the difficulty. If, Lo Alenu , a missile hit a certain area, a parent whose child is there will call to see if the child is okay. When the child answers the phone, the parent will breathe a sigh of relief. But the parent can't just go back to sit on the couch like before, because many others have been affected by that missile. Many whose lives will never be the same. The more our hearts feel for others, the less they will have to suffer. The pasuk says, when Hashem called to Moshe from the burning bush, He said, “ Moshe Moshe ,” andis there is no break between the first Moshe and the next one as there is when Hashem called to Avraham twice. The Midrash explains this with a mashal of a man who is carrying an extremely heavy load, and calls out to a friend walking by, to help him. When he calls him, he calls his name twice “ Yosef, Yosef, please! I need your help !” If the Midrash didn't use this mashal , we wouldn't be able to say it, but kal v'yachol, the nimshal is that Hashem was in such pain over the slavery of the Jewish people that He was calling to Moshe to help Him relieve some of the burden. When someone shares the pain, it takes away from the one experiencing it. Our family is hurting. It's up to us to remove some of their pain. This is a great form of Sedaka . B'Ezrat Hashem, if Hashem sees us uniting in such a deep way, it will arouse Him to bring the Geula . Let us all keep this upcoming Shabbat the best we ever did. And may the zechut of Shabbat stand for us and protect us. Shabbat Shalom. URGENT APPEAL From iTorah.com https://itorah.com/campaigns/ special "Kol Yisrael Arebim Zeh La'zeh" All Jews are responsible for one another. Please donate to and provide for your brothers and sisters in Israel who are suffering and need your help! Our campaign will be used to fund purchases of… • Providing 2,000 meals PER DAY to IDF Soldiers around the country • Sisiyot and Siddurim for the soldiers • Supplies for the displaced • Battle Gear for families for protection • Food & Necessities • Financial Aid to Families whose wage earners have been taken from work and deployed into battle.
URGENT APPEAL for ISRAEL from ITORAH.COM https://itorah.com/campaigns/ special We can not go about our days regularly while there's a war going on with our people. Those who do not normally attend Minyan should be attending Minyanim now. Those who do not normally learn Torah should be learning Torah now. Those who may be lax in certain areas of kashrut must be extra careful during these times. Rav Shach said to his yeshiva before an impending war that the only advice was for everyone to improve themselves, especially in the areas of Limud Torah, Kashrut and Shemirat Shabbat. Those who are learning already have to learn better . They have to use every minute of their learning time for learning and not talk about other things. Someone who has difficulty doing any particular mitzvah should say to himself, ‘ I must strengthen myself now and do that mitzvah to help the situation. I have to be strong and overcome my laziness and Yetzer Harah.' Someone once went to the Chafetz Chaim for a beracha and the Rabbi replied, “ You're better off asking Shabbat for Beracha because it is the true source of all blessing.” Rav Shach said keeping Shabbat properly will save us from war. This Shabbat, we all have the opportunity to keep it the best we ever did, and that includes utilizing the time for learning and spirituality. The pasuk in Parashat Ki Tese says, כִּי ה' אֱלוֹהֶיךָ מִתְהַלֵּךְ בְּקֶרֶב מַחֲנֶךָ לְהַצִּילְךָ וְלָתֵת אֹיְבֶיךָ לְפָנֶיךָ That Hashem will walk in the midst of our camp and save us from all of our enemies. וְהָיָ֥ה מַחֲנֶ֖יךָ קָד֑וֹשׁ וְלֹֽא־יִרְאֶ֤ה בְךָ֙ עֶרְוַ֣ת דָּבָ֔ר But first, our camp has to be holy and that comes about through dressing modestly. Anyone who has difficulty with this mitzvah can help bring about protection and salvation by accepting to do the mitzvah properly. And even if the person is not able to do it permanently, at least do it now . We have the greatest power of all- the One who created the world, the One who obliterated Mitzrayim , and the One who has defeated our enemies time and time again throughout the course of history. All we need to do is His will. The first thing we have to realize is that we have nothing other than Hashem. There is no army that can help us. There are no powerful countries that can help us. The pasuk says, אִם ה׳ לֹא־יִשְׁמׇר־עִ֝֗יר שָׁ֤וְא ׀ שָׁקַ֬ד שׁוֹמֵֽר If Hashem does not guard the city, then all the efforts of the guards will be in vain . We may have the best military personnel, the best strategies, the most sophisticated weapons and tanks, but if we don't have Hashem guarding, all of it is worthless. Chazal tell us, in the end of days, the days preceding Mashiach, we must come to the realization of אין לנו להשען אלא על אבינו שבשמים that we have nothing else to rely upon other than our Father in heaven. We could accomplish that right now, in our own minds. We need to work on ourselves not to feel confident in the powers of man, but rather to know that all of man's strengths only come from Hashem. Whatever He says goes. The armies will just be carrying out His will. If we really believe that, then we'll do our utmost to improve our deeds because that is what He wants. B'Ezrat Hashem , in that zechut , we should see the Geula Shelemah B'Karov, Amen! URGENT APPEAL From iTorah.com https://itorah.com/campaigns/ special "Kol Yisrael Arebim Zeh La'zeh" All Jews are responsible for one another. Please donate to and provide for your brothers and sisters in Israel who are suffering and need your help! Our campaign will be used to fund purchases of… • Providing 2,000 meals PER DAY to IDF Soldiers around the country • Sisiyot and Siddurim for the soldiers • Supplies for the displaced • Battle Gear for families for protection • Food & Necessities • Financial Aid to Families whose wage earners have been taken from work and deployed into battle.
URGENT APPEAL for ISRAEL from ITORAH.COM https://itorah.com/campaigns/special איכה ירדוף אחד אלף - How could it be that the enemy was able to kill so many of our people? Our hearts are breaking for all the families whose lives have been turned upside down. Our stomachs are churning, hearing about the atrocities that are taking place. We yearn for the day that Hashem will exact vengeance from our enemies. We yearn for the day when the Mashiach will stand upon the roof of the third Bet Hamikdash and tell us, הגיע זמן גאולתכם ואם אין אתם מאמינים ראו באורי שזרח עליכם “ The time for your redemption has come. And if you don't believe me, look at my light that I'm shining upon you.” At that moment, Hashem will shine the light of the Mashiach upon us and we will live in complete bliss and tranquility. Now we are experiencing the birth pangs of Mashiach. The Vilna Gaon asks why the Geula is compared to Ayelet Hashachar- the point of night closest to dawn. As the night progresses, it becomes darker and darker. And before dawn it becomes the darkest. That is also the way it is in child labor. The closer it becomes to the time of delivery, the harder the contractions become. When the contractions are almost unbearable, then the baby finally comes out. So too with Mashiach, when the pains become unbearable, as we are witnessing right now, we know the Geula is imminent. The world is not a free-for-all. Nobody can harm us unless it is the will of Hashem. Throughout history, the enemy was only able to infiltrate because of our shortcomings. When we do what's incumbent upon us, our enemies will have no power. One of the things we need to improve in is being unified with each other, to end the machloket , to make peace with everyone. Now is the perfect time. Everybody's hearts are a little softer. We all want good for each other. When the Jewish people are unified, we are untouchable. How beautiful it is to see the hundreds of thousands of Jews gathering across the world to say Tehilim , crying out to Hashem from the bottom of their hearts. When the Jews were in trouble during the days of Haman, Esther said to Mordechai, “ Go and gather all the Jews together.” Our power is in unity . And when we are unified in helping each other do the Ratzon Hashem , there is nothing greater than that. Call the person you haven't been speaking to and tell him, “ Let's make peace to help our brothers and sisters in Israel.” It is so beautiful when we look out for each other. Somebody told me his cousin was on the Gaza border fighting to protect us, and he was shot in the stomach. He had his own car there and ran to it to go get help. But before he got there, he saw a fellow soldier who was shot in the face. He stopped to help bring this soldier to his car. They managed to escape the scene and go to a hospital. Baruch Hashem, they are both alive and stable. The parents of the other soldier thought for sure their son died there on the border. They had no idea that he escaped. When they finally found him alive in a hospital and found out that this other soldier risked his life to save him, they cried tears of thanks and praised this soldier to no end. Am Yisrael Chai. We are a nation who cares about each other. Let us perform the ultimate display of care and make peace with our ‘ enemies ' for the sake of peace. And of course, let us improve in any way we can in our Avodat Hashem, and may we see the Geula B'Karov, Amen. URGENT APPEAL From iTorah.com https://itorah.com/campaigns/special "Kol Yisrael Arebim Zeh La'zeh" All Jews are responsible for one another. Please donate to and provide for your brothers and sisters in Israel who are suffering and need your help! Our campaign will be used to fund purchases of… • Providing 2,000 meals PER DAY to IDF Soldiers around the country • Sisiyot and Siddurim for the soldiers • Supplies for the displaced • Battle Gear for families for protection • Food & Necessities • Financial Aid to Families whose wage earners have been taken from work and deployed into battle.
There are no words that can adequately describe the agony and pain that Klal Yisrael is suffering at this moment. While our brothers and sisters are being brutally murdered, we are praying hard for the violence to end. May we hear good news very soon. Everybody wants to do something to help, and fortunately for us, there are many ways that we can. The Chatam Sofer writes, ‘There is no such thing as tragedy for nothing. We are not like the fish at sea where one fish can just come and swallow another. Everything that happens in every single person's life is done B'Hashgacha Pratit.' We don't understand the ways of Hashem. We don't know why certain people had to die in such a horrific manner, but we do know that the enemy has no control. How is it possible that the Israeli intelligence did not know about this? The pasuk says in Parashat HaAzinu, רְא֣וּ עַתָּ֗ה כִּ֣י אֲנִ֤י אֲנִי֙ ה֔וּא וְאֵ֥ין אֱלֹקים עִמָּדִ֑י אֲנִ֧י אָמִ֣ית וַאֲחַיֶּ֗ה Hashem tells us He is the only One in charge of life and death and nobody else has any say. In the very next pasuk, Hashem took an oath that He will destroy our enemies and our people, and our land will be appeased. Just the other day we read in Parashat Zot HaBeracha that all Hashem has to do to wipe out our enemies is say the word Hashmed / destroy . We will dwell in security and have the most enjoyable lives, but when that will happen depends on us. The pasuk there calls us Yeshurun , which the Midrash says means when we act the way we are supposed to , then Hashem will ride across the heavens and help us. Rabbi Menashe Reisman quoted the Or HaChaim who said all of the difficulties that were predicted by the Neviim before Mashiach comes do not have to come to fruition. If the Jewish people merit, the Mashiach will come with no tragedy. And even if tragedy has already taken place, it can end in an instant. It all depends on us. Hashem is shaking us up at this moment, and if we want to bring about peace, we have to step up and answer the call. Of course, we need to say Tehilim and pray hard for Hashem to save us, but we must also accept upon ourselves to improve in areas which need improvement. Everybody knows where he needs to improve. The harder it is to do, the greater the zechut will be and the more it will do to end this war. Our wars are fought by Hashem, and He is the only One that we need to impress. Before Rosh Hashanah this year, the rabbis were quoting the Aruch LaNer who said that in a year that Rosh Hashanah falls out on Shabbat and the shofar isn't blown, it is Shabbat itself who advocates on behalf of Klal Yisrael. The shofar is what causes Hashem to go from His Kiseh HaDin/Throne of Judgment to His Kiseh Rachamim/Throne of Mercy. Shabbat has the same power to accomplish that, but, says Aruch LaNer , that it is conditional upon us keeping Shabbat properly. Hashem has infinite calculations for everything that He does, and therefore it is not a coincidence that on the first day after this year's judgments have been finalized, Hoshana Raba, the attack on the Jewish people began on Shabbat itself. Perhaps if we can guard Shabbat better now, it will cause our Guardian to guard us. Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein said last week, that whoever undertakes to learn two Halachot every Shabbat with his family members, and accepts to follow those Halachot exactly as he reads them, he guarantees the person will have a good year filled with yeshuot in Ruchaniut and Gashmiut and that Hashem will fulfill all the wishes of his heart for good. May we hear Besorot Tovot B'Karov. Amen.
Eliyahu Hanavi related in the Tanna Dabeh Elihayu, perek 18, that a man once asked him why there are couples who have not been able to have children. Eliyahu answered, It is because Hashem loves those couples with a complete love and is so happy with them. Therefore, he wants them to reach the highest levels through praying heartfelt tefilot to have children. One of the reasons that our great Imahot became Imahot was because they prayed so much to have children. Sarah Imenu prayed for over seventy years, Rachel for fourteen, and Rivka for ten. Each emotional tefila that they prayed elevated them to a higher spiritual level until they became as great as they did. When Elkana asked his wife Hannah why she was crying so much, הלא אנכי טוב לך מעשרה בנים – aren't I better to you than ten sons? The Midrash says, the word " אנכי " there is out of place. It should have said: הלא אני טוב לך מעשרה בנים . The Midrash explains, the word אנכי there is referring to Hashem yitbarach who said ‘ אנכי ה . Elkana was telling his wife, “Don't feel bad, you became so close to Hashem and that is better for you than having ten sons.” The levels she rose to with her tefilot made her so great, and that is how Elkana comforted her. Besides for the spiritual elevation a person gets through heartfelt tefila , each one of the tefilot also produces blessings. Sometimes we see the blessings in this world and sometimes we don't realize them until Hashem reveals them in the Next World, but for sure a blessing was produced with every heartfelt tefila . Leah Imenu was able to see immediate blessings from her tefilot . She married Yaakov, she had six of the 12 shevatim and she was buried in the Maarat Hamachpela . Rachel, on the other hand, had a harder life and she is still praying, רחל מבכה על בניה . Rachel did not see all the fruits of her tefilot in her lifetime, but Chazal tell us it is because of her prayers that the entire Jewish Nation will merit the binyan Beit HaMikdash , the zechut of which is enormous. Her tefilot were accomplishing the greatest tikkun of all, but she was not able to see it while she was praying. A person should never lose faith in his tefilot, even if the specific request he has been making has not come yet. The Gemara says in Masechet Taanit that the entire world was being supported in the merit of Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa, while he sufficed on the bare minimum. Rabbi Eliezer Tauber, zatzal , explained, a person who does not have so much money is obviously being asked by Hashem to pray for parnasa . Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa's tefilot for parnasa were so powerful that because of them, the entire world was being fed. All he saw was the small amount that Hashem gave him each week, but when he got to Olam HaBa , he found out that his tefilot were supporting the entire world. A billionaire who gives millions and millions of dollars to tzedaka does not have the same merit as Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa. Although he was poor, he is credited for giving tzedaka to the entire world. That is the power of tefila . A childless couple may not have seen the fruits of their tefilot yet, but rest assured, their prayers have produced an abundance of blessing. One couple's prayers may have brought about hundreds of childbirths. The babies may not have been born into their family, but the babies will be credited to them. In the Future, they may see thousands of offspring that are considered their children. All the mitzvot that those children did and all the Torah that they learned were due to their tefilot . Tefila is one of the most powerful forces on this earth. Every heartfelt tefila always accomplishes something. And, it also raises the person to a higher spiritual level. Therefore, whether we see what we are asking for or not, we should always continue praying with all our emotions.
When Yaakov Avinu set out to find a wife,Hashem tested him in the mida of bitachon . Yaakov knew thatLavan(his prospective father-in-law) was only interested in money and thereforehe made the necessary hishtadlut , taking with him his family fortune.But Hashem brought it about that Yaakov was robbed of his money and, in thenatural way of the world, seemingly would not be able to marry into the familyhe wanted. Yaakov then thought about it and said, I don't have any jewelry,I don't have a ring, I don't have a bracelet, but I have Hashem and that's allI need. This was the test of Yaakov, to either despair or to put his trustin Hashem. And he succeeded in passing it. It was at that time that Hashemappeared to him and told him He would be with him in everything that hedoes. The Chovot HaLevavot writes, itis the way of a baal bitachon to speak to Hashem in a personalway. Whenever anyone is confronted with a situation in which his means of helphave seemingly failed him, his response should be, Hashem, I don't have thisone to help, I don't have that one to help, but it's okay, because I have Youand when I have You, I don't need anybody else . We try to make hishtadlut because that's what Hashem told us to do. When the hishtadlut fails,that is when our bitachon is being put to the test. Of course, wheneverwe make hishtadlut we have to realize it is really Hashem, but when the hishtadlut fails the test is great. At that point, a person has a choice to make. He caneither say, all of my options have been exhausted, I have nothing left todo. It looks like I'm doomed to failure. Or the person could say, Hashem,I now see that people can't help me. I got the message – it's not people orefforts that bring about results, it's only You. And I know my best option isstill available. If the person really believes what he issaying, then he will merit to what the Gemara teaches in the Masechet Menachot (29), " כל התולה בטחונו בהקב"ה, הרי לו מחסה לעולם הזהולעולם הבא – Hashem will take that person under His wing in this world andthe Next. If someone has been trying to make money, butall his efforts have been failing, he should know, he has a great opportunityin front of him to exercise his bitachon and come to the conclusion thathe has Hashem, the only One who really matters. The same applies to all areasof life, whether the person is looking for a shidduch or for a cure toan illness and all his efforts have been failing. That is the moment he canpractice his bitachon and catapult himself into a different sphere,alone with Hashem above the natural way of the world. The work is to honestlybelieve and feel at ease with the knowledge that we do have Hashem. We once gave a mashal to put it intoperspective. Imagine a man was told by his doctor that he has a terminalillness, lo alenu, and has just six months left to live. He then adds,"There is one doctor in the world that can cure your illness, but the wait timeto get into him is three years." With no hope, the man decides to go to adistant island and live out his final days in peace. While there, he goes witha family member to an empty beach to take his mind off his sorrows and theynotice there is one other person on that beach. The family member takes a closerlook and tells the man, "That's the doctor who has the cure! He's lying there,all alone, with no line. Now's your chance!" Filled withhope, the man runs over to the doctor and tells him his plight. The doctorsays, "Don't worry, I'm going to help you." The feeling that man had when herealized the only doctor who could help him was right there, so easilyaccessible to him, that's at least the feeling we are supposed to have when werealize we have Hashem, the only One who could help and is so easily accessibleto us. If we can work to get that feeling, we will have true bitachon and b'ezrat Hashem be zocheh to all the blessings that come alongwith it.
If a person was asked to define what emunah means, the answer would most probably be “the belief that Hashem exists.” However, as Rabbi Zamir Cohen pointed out, when the Torah speaks about Hashem's existence, it does not use the word emunah, but rather ידיעה, which means knowledge. It says וידעת היום והשבות אל לבבך כי ה' הוא האלוקים. We are to know that Hashem exists. Besides for the fact that Hashem already revealed Himself in front of millions of people at Har Sinai, and then wrote in the Torah that no other nation will ever claim that G-d spoke to them like that, it is readily obvious to anyone who is honest with himself that Hashem is here with us. A surgeon who became a baal teshuva was asked what made him start believing in Hashem. He said whenever he did surgery, and opened the stomach of a person, he was in awe of how everything was set up in the body with such wisdom and perfection. An Israeli historian who became a baal teshuva was asked the same question and he said it was from learning sefer Daniel and seeing all the history that he already learned being predicted way before it happened. That sefer clearly showed him there is a Hashem who knows the future. Our Torah is filled with clear proofs about Hashem's existence. Moreover, there are millions upon millions of hashgacha peratit stories with each one of them providing clear proof of Hashem. We have witnessed with our own eyes the Divine inspiration that Hashem gave to our Chachamim. And therefore, with all of this, we don't need to believe in Hashem, we already have knowledge of Him. So what exactly is emunah? One example of where the Torah uses the word emunah is when Hashem told Avraham that he was going to be the father of a great nation, although at that time he did not yet have children. There it says when Avraham heard that, והאמין בה' ויחשבה לו צדקה – he believed in Hashem and Hashem considered that a great act. Obviously, in that story, emunah cannot refer to the belief in Hashem's existence because Hashem was talking to him. Avraham did not need to believe in Hashem's existence, but he did believe in what Hashem was telling him. He trusted that Hashem would fulfill His word. That is what emunah is and we have the same mitzvah to believe what it says about Hashem in the Torah – כי כאשר ייסר איש את בנו ה' מיסרך – everything Hashem does for us is good. He's always leading us in the path that is best for us. If someone had a broken engagement or lost a job, for that person to believe that those were the best things that could have happened to him – Hashem saved him from marrying the wrong person, Hashem knew that working in that job any longer would have been detrimental to him, that is emunah. And when a person internalizes this message, day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year, then he is ready to graduate to the next level called bitachon where his emunah penetrated his heart to the point that he feels like he is always in a state of tranquility. He feels that he is in the Hands of Hashem every moment of the day and he knows Hashem is guiding him to give him exactly what he needs. Bitachon is where he applies all the principles of emunah that he learned and is able to put them into practice, which manifests itself in the way he feels: calm, no anxiety, no sadness. Of course, there are many levels of Bitachon . It is never all or nothing, but the more a person is able to feel tranquil with the knowledge that Hashem is with him, the greater is his level of bitachon.
The Alsheich HaKadosh writes in parashat Emor that the underlying meaning of us taking the Dalet Minim – the Etrog , Lulav , Hadasim and Aravot - on Sukkot is for us to realize that every last detail of our lives is totally in the hands of Hashem. How do the Dalet Minim teach us this? The Midrash says regarding the pasuk which gives us the command to take the Dalet Minim " ולקחתם לכם פרי עץ הדר " – the Etrog – is also a reference to Hashem, as it says”, הוד והדר לבשת ." the Lulav – “ כפות תמרים " is a reference to Hashem, as it says, " צדיק כתמר יפרח " – the Hadasim – עץ עבות are a reference to Hashem, as it says, " והוא עומד בין ההדסים ." And finally, – the Aravot – “ ערבי נחל "are also a reference to Hashem, as it says, " סולו לרוכב בערבות ." This means, we are taking these four species which are made by Hashem and we are shaking them. But isn't everything made by Hashem? The Alsheich explains further, every blade of grass has an angel appointed over it and the angel tells it to grow. For that matter, everything in the world that grows has its angel appointed over it. However, regarding these four species only, Hashem did not put them the hand of any angel. Every aspect of their growth is done completely by Him. And therefore, Hashem told us to hold these four species and recognize that we, as well, are totally under His Hashgacha . Nothing else in the world can affect us, not even an angel. Nobody has any control to harm us. We are completely b'Yad Hashem. It goes further. Rabbi Menashe Reisman quoted from Rav Yaakov Moshe Panett who brings down the Arizal who said, even though there are only four letters to the Shem Havaya of Hashem, each one of those letters correspond to a different book of the Five Books of the Torah. How is that possible? The fifth book is represented by the kutzo shel yud , the tip of the letter Yud , which is so holy that it cannot be contained in a regular letter. And that tip corresponds to the Sefer Bereshit , the first of all of the Chumashim . The rule is, wherever we find four levels corresponding to the Four Letter Name of Hashem, there is always a fifth and higher level corresponding to that kutzo shel yud . We know it says in the L'shem Yichud that the Four Species correspond to the Four Letter Name of Hashem, but we know we're not allowed to add a fifth species. So what corresponds to that kutzo shel yud ? The Rabbi answered, this is what it means in the beginning of the pasuk , " ולקחתם לכם – take yourselves along with the Four Species." We, the Jewish People, are the ones represented by that kutzo shel yud . We are Hashem's prize possession. All of the mitzvot are there just to elevate us. Hashem has extra hashgacha on those Four Minim, just to teach us that His hashgacha is upon us. And that is what matters to Him the most. So on this glorious holiday of Sukkot, when we are performing these beautiful mitzvot, we should have in mind how precious we are to Hashem and that He is with us with every move that we make. We are totally under His control. Nobody else has any effect on us. The Sukkah is the Sila d'Hemnuta – the shade of Emunah. There as well, we are in the embrace of Hashem. How fortunate we are to be so connected to Hashem, the מלך מלכי המלכים, הקדוש ברוך הוא . Chag Sameach .
One of the areas that we are tested in on a daily basis is parnasa -how we earn it and what we do with it. If someone is blessed with a lot of money, he has one type of test – recognizing it's all a gift from Hashem, staying humble, giving charity. If someone is struggling with parnasa , he has a different type of test – recognizing that that is also from Hashem for his best, staying close to Hashem during his struggle, keeping his integrity, and hoping and praying to Hashem to send him a salvation. We must always believe that Hashem could help us in an instant. One second a person could be wondering how he's going to pay for food and the next second be wondering which charitable organization is he going to give ma'aser from the abundance of money that Hashem just sent him. A man, who we'll call Ezra, told me his business has been struggling terribly and it got to a point that he literally ran out of money. He was sitting in his office one day before the holidays, figuring out how he was going to pay his current bills. He had a second business, on the side, that dealt in cellular phones which he hadn't been actively involved in for many, many months. He decided to try that avenue and he randomly chose a contact that he hadn't spoken to in years and attempted to call him and see what he had to offer. When the contact picked up, he asked him if he had any cheap merchandise for sale that he could possibly resell to one of his buyers. The person said that he had a very old model phone that he wished he could get rid of and he told him the name of it. When Ezra heard the style number, his eyes lit up. “How many of them do you have?” he asked. The man replied, “A few thousand.” About eight months prior to this, a buyer called Ezra asking if he could supply him with five thousand of that model phone. At that time, Ezra didn't have any and everyone he called said they were discontinued and they didn't have them either. He asked this wholesaler how much he would charge him per phone. The wholesaler than said, “Well, what do you want to pay?” Ezra ended up getting a very cheap price. He called the buyer that contacted him eight months ago and that buyer said he was still interested. The current wholesaler had other items this buyer was interested in as well and, instantly, Ezra made $30,000 profit from this turnover. He was singing the praises of Hashem to me, saying he can't believe how quickly Hashem sent him a yeshua from literally being down to his last dollar to having $30,000 in an instant. Another man told me, he received notice from the IRS that he was going to be audited for his 2017 taxes. The original date for him to go to their office was set for Rosh Hashanah. He explained it was a Jewish holiday and they rescheduled for right after Sukkot. The man had given a lot of charity that year and they were demanding receipts for all his donations. The man spent a lot of time making phone calls and trying to get those receipts from the organizations that he gave to. There was one yeshiva in Bnei Brak that he made his two largest donations to and he needed two separate receipts for them. He tried many ways to get in touch with the rabbi he gave the donation to but he was unsuccessful. It was the day before his meeting and he was extremely nervous. He spoke to his own rabbi and the rabbi told him to be mitchazek in emunah that all of this is being brought out by Hashem and nobody else has any say with what happens. That afternoon, in his office in Manhattan, a secretary paged him saying a rabbi from Israel was there to see him. He couldn't believe his eyes when he saw it was the rabbi from the yeshiva he was trying to get in touch with to get those receipts from Bnei Brak. He was there once again, asking for the annual donation that he gave him. The man said, “Rabbi, I need your help much more than you need mine now.” The Rabbi was able to get him the two receipts by that night and the next day he had them with him when he went to the meeting. He was thinking the whole time, This is from Hashem. I don't fear anybody except Him . When it was his turn, the representative told him and his accountant, “My goal is to complete your case within six months.” Then he got really nervous. He thought, Six months? But he was mitchazek in emunah again. The representative started asking questions, asking for various receipts for his donations. Amazingly, he was only asked to produce the receipts for the ones he was able to obtain. They skipped over all the donations that he didn't' have a receipt for. Then the representative asked for those two big receipts that he gave to the yeshiva and he handed them to him. The representative said, “Wait a minute.” He took the receipts somewhere, he came back about five minutes later and he said, “We're closing the case right now. You're free to go.” The man's accountant said, “I never saw that in my whole career.” Hashem brought him a yeshua in a wondrous way, delivering the tzedaka receipts all the way from Israel to his office, at the exact moment he needed them. No matter what situation a person finds himself in, he should always hope to Hashem for an instant yeshua .
We are excited to announce the release of a new book, the Living Emunah on the Parashah. B'ezrat Hashem, it's the first of its kind, and it's now available from ArtScroll and can be ordered using the link below, or can be found in any local bookstore https://www.artscroll.com/Books/9781422627402.html When a person realizes how intimately Hashem is involved inhis life, it brings such a good feeling. It brings a sense of calm andtranquility. He understands that everything that is transpiring in his life isbeing orchestrated by his loving Father who only wants his best. So even whenthings are not going the way that he hoped, he's still able to remain in acomplete state of happiness, knowing with a clarity that whatever is happeningis exactly what is meant to be happening. Hashem knows our innermost feelings.He feels what we're feeling. He knows what we're going through. That itselfshould give a person chizuk to persevere through times of challenge. When a personsees so clearly Hashem's loving care for him, it strengthens his Emunah in avery big way. A woman told me that one year ago, before Rosh Hashanah,her father received a gift from a Yeshiva that he helped support. It was abeautiful set of black leather-bound benchers. Being that he is Sephardic andthe benchers were nusach Ashkenaz , he really had no use for them. Thenext time he went to visit his daughter at her house, he brought over the setand gave them to her. She said "Dad, I also have no use for these."He told her, "Please find someone who could use them." So she leftthem on her front table for the time being. That erev Shabbat was thefirst time she could remember that she finished her Shabbat preparations early,and she decided to go sit out on her front porch to relax a little. When shewent outside, she saw a religious man walking by. She immediately thought ofthe benchers and ran in to get them. She sent her son to go give them to thatman telling him that they have no use for them and would be happy if someoneelse would use them. Initially, the man refused the extravagant gift, but afterthe woman told him from her porch that he would be doing them a favor by takingthem, he accepted them. Fast forward one year to this year during the AseretYemei Teshuva. This woman got a knock at her door from a Mrs. Goldberg whomshe did not recognize. Mrs. Goldberg said, "I'm here to thank you. I meantto come so many times this year. I just never got around to it. Last year, atthis time you gave my husband the leather-bound benchers. You have no idea whatthat meant to me. You see, last year we had the hardest year financially of ourlives. My husband told me we were not going to be able to buy anything new forthe Yom Tov of Sukkot. I totally accepted it. But there was one thingthat I really wanted— new black leather-bound benchers. I did not tell oneperson about it, not even my husband. Only Hashem knew what was in my heart.Then my husband came home that erev Shabbat and said he managed to getme a Yom Tov present, and explained how. When I saw what it was, I feltlike I got the biggest hug from Hashem. He knew exactly what I wanted, and Hedelivered it right into my hands." The hashgacha of this storyis mind blowing—for that woman to be on her porch at that time, and just thenthe one man whose wife wanted those benchers so badly happened to be walkingby. This episode gave that woman so much strength. Although she was having ahard year, she realized Hashem was in total control and taking care of everyone of her needs. And that gave her the most chizuk.
The sukkah represents the hashgacha and protection Hashem has for us. We pray every day ופרוש עלינו סוכת שלומיך , we want to be enveloped by Hashem's protection on all sides. While sitting in the sukkah we are supposed to remember how Hashem enveloped our ancestors in the desert with His loving Clouds of Glory. With those clouds, Hashem took care of all of their needs down to the last detail - He paved the roads for them, protected them from the harmful animals, cleaned and pressed their clothing while they were still wearing them, protected them from the hot sun and the cold nights, from the winds and from the elements. When we sit in our sukkot , we should remind ourselves that today, as well, Hashem protects and takes care of all of our needs. According to Rabbi Akiva, we're supposed to remember that Hashem housed each Jewish family in their own structure in the desert as well. Rav Chaim Shmulevitz explained, this shows us how Hashem not only cared for us as a nation, but as individuals as well. Each family was provided with exactly what they needed to be able to construct their own home. For us as well, every person is provided with everything he needs, directly from Hashem. He takes care of us and gives us everything we have. In today's times, He does it from behind the scenes. We don't have miraculous clouds surrounding us, but if we open our eyes and notice, we'll see Hashem guiding us every day of our lives. What might appear to be a wrong turn or a wrong number is Hashem's way of leading us to the places we need to be. Recently, a man stayed in the hospital over Shabbat to be with his wife who was a patient at NYU. His son came along as well. During the day, the father told his son to go visit a friend of his who was also a patient there in room 1425. The son accidentally went to room 1525 instead. In that room was a Jew who had been in the hospital with Corona since March 30, for over 5 months. He had been intubated for a long time and miraculously survived his very long battle. Since it was Shabbat there were no other visitors so the son stayed there for a while talking to him. When he went back upstairs he told his father he mistakenly went to the wrong room, but he was happy he went because the man appreciated the visit very much. That evening, the father decided to pay that man a visit. While he was there, he told him a short devar Torah to give him chizuk . He quoted a pasuk in Tehilim , "ויספרו מעשיו ברינה", which means we tell over the doings of Hashem with joy. The man asked, "The word סיפור usually connotes a new story, but when it comes to Hashem, nothing is new to Him. He knows everything." The man answered, "It's referring to informing individuals about the great deeds that Hashem had done for them. Many times people have no idea about the miracles Hashem did for them and it is incumbent upon others to inform them so they could appreciate them and rejoice in Hashem's salvation." He went on to tell this patient how fortunate he was to be alive, that he had no idea about all the miracles Hashem did for him during the time he was intubated and more. The patient appreciated it and got a lot of chizuk from it. The next day, an administrator from the hospital who happens to be a religious woman went to visit that patient. She was involved in his case and periodically went to check up on him. While she was there, he told her this devar Torah that he had heard the day before about appreciating all Hashem did for him. She was very impressed. That same day, she called one of the doctors in charge of the rehabilitation center at Rusk asking if this patient could be admitted. She told him it would do wonders for him and would enable him to finally leave the hospital. The problem was, to qualify for that rehabilitation center, the patient had to be at a certain level mentally and when the doctor heard who the patient was, he said absolutely not - someone who had been totally out of touch for months and is not fully aware of what's going on could not be admitted. The woman then told the doctor, "You are mistaken. I can assure you his mental capabilities are very strong now." And she proceeded to tell that doctor, who was an unaffiliated Jew, the devar Torah which he just told her. The doctor was impressed, he went down to meet the patient and allowed him to come to the rehabilitation center. Baruch Hashem, in just a couple of weeks there, he improved a great deal and is just about ready to finally come home. It turned out that devar Torah was the catalyst to get him the help that he needed. It is only because the son "accidentally" went to the wrong room that all of this started. A simple hashgacha pratit story, seeing how Hashem guides us from behind the scenes all the time. Chag Same'ach and Shabbat Shalom .
The Midrash in Bereshit Raba tells us when Hashem divided the Lower Waters from the Upper Waters, the Lower Waters began to cry. They said, “Woe unto us that we are not zocheh to be close to our Creator.” Hashem told them that because they had such a yearning to be close to Him, they were going to be used for two special mitzvot in the future, both performed on the mizbe'ach. The nisuch hamayim on Sukkot and the salt used for every korban. The question was asked, who got the better deal, the Upper Waters or the Lower Waters? We say every day in the tefila in Yotzer Ohr that Hashem has angels standing in the heights of the universe who proclaim loudly, in unison, words of the Living G-d. They are all beloved, pure, powerful and holy. They all carry out the will of Hashem with awe and reverence. They open their mouths with holiness, purity, song and music and they bless, praise and glorify the great Name of Hashem. Then they accept upon themselves the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom from one another and they give consent to each other and then they say with awe, Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh, Hashem tzivakot, melo chol ha'aretz kevodo. And then the Ofanim and Chayot HaKodesh angels soar with a thunderous sound in response to the Serafim angels and they give praise by saying, Baruch kevod Hashem mimekomo. Imagine that scene in Shamayim with tens of thousands of angels. And yet, every one of those angels would give up what they do to have the merit to come down to this world for one moment to do one easy mitzvah. Because they know how much one mitzvah down here accomplishes in Heaven. Much more than they could ever accomplish. In fact, when a Jew opens his mouth down here to praise Hashem, there is an angel in Shamayim who silences all of the other angels, because one word of praise from us is worth more to Hashem than all of the praises of all of the angels combined. It is true that they are closer to Hashem now, but by us doing mitzvot in this world, we can become closer to Hashem for all eternity. And so, for sure, the Lower Waters got the better end of the deal, as they were able to be used in the performance of mitzvot here in this world. The value of even one good deed in this world is beyond our comprehension. Rav Yosef Karo, the author of the Shulchan Aruch, wrote a sefer called Maggid Yesharim, which is a compilation of everything he learned from the angel who used to come and visit him. He wrote there that on one Simchat Torah, he was so sick he couldn't get out of his bed and he missed the hakafot. The next morning, the Malach came to him and said “the Atika d'Atikin, The Ancient of the Ancient, which is a reference to Hashem, found a zechut for you. And in the merit of that zechut, He is allowing you to keep your neshama.” The zechut was that one time a Jew was taken into custody by a foreign government and they were causing him a lot of distress. Maran, Rav Yosef Karo, was able to intercede by writing a letter which saved that man. And for that act, Hashem was saving him. He wrote, he woke up that morning completely healthy as if nothing happened, although just hours before he was deathly ill. Every deed we do is so precious. And if a person is going through a difficulty and it is so hard for him to be happy, but yet he continues doing the mitzvot, those mitzvot become infinitely greater and the zechuyot that they produce are endless. We should value every opportunity we have to do any mitzvah in this world.
We know that Hashem runs the world at large and our lives individually. We know that everything Hashem does is the absolute best for us. But somehow these concepts don't always register when we need them to. There are times when a person works very hard to achieve a certain goal; he makes all the necessary hishtadlut and hopes for the outcome he is anticipating. But if he doesn't get it, he becomes very disappointed. At those moments, it's very hard to truly take to heart that Hashem was controlling everything and did bring about the best possible outcome. It requires the person to pause and think about what is really happening, to bring the emunah that he already has to the forefront. If someone can do that, besides for the endless rewards he will receive for it, it will also help him to become much calmer and feel soothed. A woman who has had her share of difficulties told me the following story. Besides her battle with cancer which, baruch Hashem, she is doing very well with, she encountered a very big issue last year with her son in his yeshiva. Apparently, the rabbi that he had was not the best fit for him and over the course of the year the boy went down in many areas. The woman was doing her best to encourage him and help him stay afloat, but it was not a simple task. He needed various therapists and specialists to help him with all the problems he encountered. Although the rabbi was very good, his personality just did not fit with this boy's personality. Starting already from the second half of the year, the woman was addressing the issue of who the boy's rebbe would be the following year. After discussing it with people who knew, it was determined there was one rebbe that would be the perfect fit for him and hopefully be able to bring him back to the way he used to be. There were a couple of other rebbeim who would potentially be good for him and there were some that she was told to make sure to avoid. They were also great rebbes , just not for her son's personality. So she spent the second half of the year, as well as the summer, making meetings with all the different heads of the yeshiva, describing what she and her son went through and what was necessary to be done to correct it. She gave it 110% effort, not wanting to settle for anything but the best for her child. A week before yeshiva started, she asked what class her son was going to be in. She was told she would not be allowed to know that information until the first day of school. That day she had to be in Sloan-Kettering for a procedure and wouldn't be able to bring her son to the yeshiva. When the procedure ended that day, she immediately called the yeshiva to see who her son's rebbe was. They refused to tell her. When she finally got home that evening and her son arrived, she asked him which class he was in. She was shocked to find out that the one rebbe that she was told wouldn't be good for him was the one that he got. She was beside herself. How could this possibly have happened? She thought. She literally did everything in her power to avoid it. She called the school to try to switch the class but it wasn't an option. Her mind began racing with all the flashbacks of all the difficulties of the previous year and she became very nervous about what the future held. But then, she stopped herself. She took a breath and reached deep down and pulled out all the emunah she had gained over the years. She said to herself, This doesn't make any sense, but it doesn't have to. Hashem is the One who decided which class my son should be in. No people have any say other than Him. This is the class my son needs to be in, and therefore, I'm going to accept it with happiness. That night, she felt so calm, with a feeling she thought she could never have after what she had gone through the previous year. Baruch Hashem, it has been a month into the year now and her son is doing wonderfully with this rabbi. The woman's ability to pause and take a step back and recognize that only Hashem made that decision is truly inspiring. That is real emunah. It is a wondrous avodat Hashem and it also brings the person so much peace of mind.
When Yonah was thrown overboard in the middle of the ocean, he began to drown and felt that death was imminent. The pasuk says, Hashem miraculously brought a large fish to that exact spot where Yonah was and the fish swallowed him. And then, miraculously, Yonah remained completely intact, breathing normally inside the fish. Chazal tell us, it was so comfortable for Yonah there that he didn't even feel any distress. Hashem, on the other hand, wanted Yonah to pray and, when he didn't pray, Hashem caused that fish to spit Yonah back into one of the deepest parts of the ocean. Once again Yonah felt like he was going to die and, once again, Hashem sent a large fish to swallow him, but this time it was very cramped for Yonah inside that fish and Yonah understood, Hashem wanted his prayers. Yonah then prayed from the depths of his heart. And then, Hashem completely saved him by bringing him to dry land. When a person begins to experience hardship, one of the messages he is supposed to be taking is that Hashem wants his prayers. If the situation gets worse, he needs to increase his efforts in tefila. Hashem wants a person's prayers because He knows how much the prayers benefit the person spiritually. There is endless reward for every heartfelt tefila and, as an additional bonus, Hashem will also give the person the answer to his tefila . The main reward for tefila is in the Next World, but prayers give us benefits here too. The more heartfelt a tefila is, the more value it has. Hashem has infinite ways of helping people, ways in which we would never dream. But first, we have to produce the tefilot that warrant those great salvations. Those are the tefilot with emotion and tears. Rabbi Binyamin Pruzansky told a story about Rabbi and Mrs. Adler who worked in summer camps in the Catskills. Their son Binyamin, who was learning in a yeshiva in Chicago, was making a siyum on a masechet that he worked hard all year long to finish. It was scheduled to take place during the two days off that they had in between the two halves of camp, and so they made arrangements to be there for him. When that day finally arrived, Rabbi and Mrs. Adler drove for two hours to Laguardia Airport and made their way through security up to the gate to board the flight. But when they gave in their boarding passes, it was discovered that Rabbi Adler's last name was not written on it. Instead, it has his first name and his wife's first name. And they would not allow him to board with it. This was their only chance to make the siyum in time and so Rabbi Adler ran back to the ticket counter and bought a new ticket with his correct name. He ran back just as the boarding was closing, but for some inexplicable reason, they told him this boarding pass had a problem as well. Nothing the rabbi said would change their mind to let him on. As the doors were closing, he told his wife to go ahead, but she delayed and then it was too late, the doors had closed. They were so distraught. It was so important to their son for them to be there for him and now they were going to miss the siyum . Overwhelmed by the stress, Mrs. Adler began to cry. As the tears rolled down her face, she used the opportunity to pray to Hashem. She said, “Hashem, please make this work out. I just want to be there for my son.” As they walked back, they made a wrong turn out of the gate and then Mrs. Adler's phone rang. It was her son Binyamin asking what time they would arrive. Mrs. Adler didn't want her son to hear her crying, so she handed the phone to her husband. Just then, her husband spotted Rav Elya Brudney, the Rosh Yeshiva of Mir and asked him to give their son a beracha on the occasion of his siyum . The Rabbi took the phone and gave him a heartfelt beracha and then asked the Adlers why they looked so distraught. They told him what had just happened. He said he is also going to Chicago and his flight got canceled and there are no other flights, so an askan arranged for him to take a private jet there. The Rabbi asked the askan if he could bring along this couple and he said yes. Just like that their problem was solved. One heartfelt tefila to Hashem and they were on a private jet, headed to their son's siyum . Prayer is amazing. We need to use its power as much as we can.
This Shabbat is called Shabbat Shuva – the Shabbat of teshuva. We know we don't repent for our sins on Shabbat, so why is it called the Shabbat of Repentance? The Yesod v'Shoresh HaAvodah brings the Chazal which says, whoever keeps Shabbat according to halacha will be forgiven for all his sins. At this time, we all need forgiveness. Our avonot have been piling up over the course of the year. If we will keep this Shabbat with all of its details, abstaining from melacha and business talk, sanctify the day with Torah study and enjoy the Shabbat the way it is meant to be enjoyed - that will be our zechut and that will give us mechila. During these days, teshuva is the mitzvah at hand. We need to think about what we did wrong and sincerely repent. As we know, in Hashem's infinite mercy, He cleanses us from our sins through different forms of yissurin. Every little inconvenience we experience in this world helps us remove the blemishes from our souls. It's called kapara. The best way to remove those blemishes without yissurin is by doing teshuva. But there are certain averot that require more than teshuva for the sins to get erased. Yissurin come and finish off the job. We know yissurin help us immensely, we would much rather experience the temporary hardships in this world, rather than the eternal ones in the Next World. But we would also prefer to be cleansed without having to experience any pain at all. Rabbenu Yonah, in the fourth chapter of Sha'areh Teshuva gives us wondrous advice on how to avoid yissurin in this world and still get full atonement. Everyone wishes they could just end all the hardships they are experiencing, and this advice will help. First, he writes, giving tzedaka saves from yissurin and if a person can't afford tzedaka, getting others to give will accomplish even more. Acts of kindness also take away yissurin. If someone invests his own time and energy into helping other people, that will take away from the suffering he was supposed to have. Whether he spends his time visiting a sick patient or helping someone organize an event for charity, or helping others with shidduchim and the like, every moment invested in chesed wards off yissurin. Torah study also takes the place of yissurin. Look at how kind Hashem is! Not only is learning Torah enjoyable, not only do we get rewarded for it, it even takes the place of suffering a person was supposed to get. Then Rabbenu Yonah writes further, if a person is already experiencing different types of hardship, but instead of complaining about it, he says, “Hashem I know this is best for me, I accept what you are doing to me with love.” That is a segula to prevent, in his words, “היסורין הרבים הראויים לבוא עליו - the abundant of afflictions that should have befallen him.” And he quotes a pasuk in Tehilim to prove it. This is an amazing segula. If someone, let's say, has been out of a job and suffering tremendously from it, it might very well be possible for his own good that he needs to be out of a job for a few more months, but if he'll say, “Hashem, thank You for putting me through this. It must be I needed this to cleanse myself. And in Your infinite kindness, You're allowing me to purify myself in this world.” Those words, with sincerity, can remove the necessity for the additional months of being jobless. Those words are so powerful, they take the place of the potential suffering that should have come. Then Hashem will open his eyes to find a job to work at. The same is true for all yissurin. Accepting them with happiness stops the remainders from coming. The main thing is, we want to be the pure children of Hashem we are supposed to be. If we could make teshuva, keep Shabbat properly, do additional good deeds and be satisfied with the way Hashem deals with us, we'll become purified and we will be able to enjoy this world and the Next. Shabbat Shalom.
In memory of Beverly Sasson A'H by her son Maurice The pasuk says, טוב וישר ה' על כן יורה חטאים בדרך – Hashem is good and upright and that is why he directs the sinners back on the proper path. It is only because of Hashem's unending goodness that He gives us the ability and helps us make teshuva and get rid of all of our sins. All year long whatever happens that hurts us, we say happily, "It's kappara ," and we accept it from Hashem. Kappara means the affliction is giving us atonement for our sins. In general, all of hardship and difficulty leads back to this same concept: It is Hashem in His infinite mercy giving us atonement in this world so that we don't have to get it in the Next World. But there is another way to get atonement that doesn't hurt. In fact, we even get a mitzvah for doing it. That is teshuva. Whenever a person sins, his immediate reaction should be to make teshuva and get rid of all its harmful effects. Rabbenu Yonah writes, by making teshuva right away, a person can gain so much. Besides for getting rid of the transgression, it will help the person be stronger not to do the sin again when the opportunity arises. He says, doing a sin a second time is much worse than the first because once a person sees that he is subject to falling in a certain area, it is incumbent upon him to try to prevent it from happening again. Teshuva accomplishes that. Furthermore, when a person sins and repeats the sin, Chazal tell us, the person loses feelings of guilt toward the sin and psychologically feels that it is okay to do again and that is very harmful. If we would only do teshuva immediately after we sin, it would save us from so much trouble. Nobody wants to go against Hashem, and therefore it is easy to say we are sorry and regret what we did. And even if a person feels he may repeat the sin in the future, that does not preclude him from fixing what he did in the past. If it happens again, he will deal with it then. But why not remove the negative effects that have already began to take hold? The Mabit writes, each part of teshuva is a mitzvah in its own right and can be accomplished independently of the other parts. Just admitting that we sinned is a mitzvah, just regretting what we did is a mitzvah and just accepting not to do it again is a mitzvah. Learning to do teshuva right away can save a person from parnasa problems, from health problems and from any other problems that are possible to come in this world. Chazal tells us, during these days of Aseret Yamei Teshuva, Hashem is closer than any other time of the year. The Rambam writes that now, more than ever, our teshuva is easily accepted and accomplishes so much. It's so easy to do, all it requires is a little time and thought. Let us utilize the wondrous gift that Hashem has given us and purify ourselves with our words and our hearts. And b'ezrat Hashem, we should all be sealed in the Book of Life. Amen.
One of the greatest gifts that Hashem has ever given us is the ability to make teshuva. A person who may have spent the entire year ignoring certain mitzvot and doing different averot can correct it all with a few moments of teshuva. There are things people have done that they wish they could turn the clock back on and do differently. Teshuva is exactly that. Hashem allows us to actually change the past. Whatever a person has done can get completely erased. And if a person feels bad that he sinned because of how great Hashem is and how much Hashem does for him, that's called teshuva out of love, and that transforms the sin into mitzvot. At this time specifically, during the Aseret Yemeh Teshuva , our teshuva is easily accepted. At the time we need it the most, Hashem makes it the easiest to accomplish, while a person's year is still hanging in the balance. During the trial itself, a person has the ability to erase all of his crimes and make the judgment the most favorable possible. It is very simple, all the person has to do is just admit what he did wrong, regret it, and accept to improve going forward. Nobody should feel that what he did is beyond teshuva. Hashem specifically took us to be His nation while we were on the 49 th level of tumah . The Jewish people at that time were on the lowest level possible and just seven weeks later they were as close to Hashem as possible. The Rambam writes regarding teshuva, whereas before teshuva the person was very distant from Hashem, after teshuva he is beloved, desirable, close and dear to Hashem. The Kedushat Levy writes in Parashat Shemini regarding the Chazal which says במקום שבעלי תשובה עומדים אין צדיקים גמורים יכולים לעמוד that Hashem actually gets more pleasure from a sinner who made teshuva than from a completely righteous individual. The reason is because the ba'al teshuva had to fight off his strong evil inclination to stop his wrongdoings. It is so special to Hashem when we fight the yetzer hara to do His will. The Kedushat Levy writes elsewhere, if we contemplate the fact that we are so insignificant in comparison to Hashem, yet we have the ability to bring Him pleasure with our avodah , that should ignite our hearts to be filled with joy and excitement to serve Him. We can't imagine how much He enjoys every little thing we do, and therefore, we shouldn't underestimate it. Rabbi Zilberstein told a story of a man who would always come to shul about seven minutes late, no matter what time the minyan started. If it was a 7:00 minyan, he would get there at 7:07. If it was an 8:00 minyan, 8:07. One day, the rabbi asked him about it and the man said, "What's the big deal? A few minutes here, a few minutes there, the main thing is that I come." This practice continued for quite some time until one day this man walked in exactly on time. The rabbi asked him what changed. He said that Hashem taught him a very powerful lesson and he explained that the day before one of his warehouses caught fire and he was there at the time. He called the fire department and waited anxiously for them to arrive. Every minute that went by, another part of his warehouse became consumed in flames. By the time they finally got there, they were only able to salvage a very small part of it. He asked them why they took so long and one of the firemen, feeling insulted, said, "We just got delayed a few minutes. The main thing is that we got here. What's a few minutes anyway?" Those words struck him like a lightning bolt. Those were the same words he used when telling the rabbi about coming to shul late. He realized the value of every minute and accepted upon himself to be on time to shul going forward. Hashem adores everything we do in the spiritual realms. Every second is valuable. If we haven't performed the way we are capable of until now, we can easily make teshuva and erase the past and start afresh.