ShOVaVIM TaTEight Weeks of Personal & Worldwide Redemption Week #4k 72_Names: https://livekabbalah.org/the-72-names-of-god 13_attributes: https://livekabbalah.org/the-thirteen-attributes Read and learn more about this Parasha: https://livekabbalah.org/beshalah Join our course program: https://livekabbalah.org/live-kabbalah-courses Join our Zoom Program: https://livekabbalah.org/weekly-zohar-tree-of-life-study-live Support our efforts to provide you with more materials, donate to Live Kabbalah: https://livekabbalah.org/donations
ShOVaVIM TaT Eight Weeks of Personal & Worldwide Redemption Week #3 Read and learn more about this Parasha https://livekabbalah.org/bo Join our course program: https://livekabbalah.org/live-kabbalah-courses Join our Zoom Program: https://livekabbalah.org/weekly-zohar-tree-of-life-study-live Support our efforts to provide you with more materials, donate to Live Kabbalah: https://livekabbalah.org/donations
Parasha SHEMOT - nomes. Repare que uma das primeiras interações que temos c/o mundo é pelos nomes? Quantas pessoas anônimas que passaram por sua vida e que te ajudaram você se lembra? --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/daviddahis/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/daviddahis/support
The Jerusalem Post Podcast with Yaakov Katz and Tamar Uriel-Beeri This week, Yaakov and Tamar discuss the protests opposing judicial reforms in Tel Aviv, the so-called "civil disobedience" seen among the opposition, and as a bonus, they answer some questions about Ben-Gvir, the Temple Mount and linguistics. Then they are joined by Dr. Yosefa (Fogel) Wruble, a renowned Biblical and Jewish law lecturer, to discuss the modern implications of this week's Parasha, as well as the Book of Exodus as a whole. Our podcast is available on Google Play, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Parasha VAYEHI e viveu. O mais importante, lembrar do passado para saber quem somos ou influênciar os que estão a nossa volta visando o futuro? --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/daviddahis/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/daviddahis/support
Vayechi Prophecy, STOLEN MONEY, Sefardic Peyot, PURPLE DRESS, Metzitzah B'Peh -STUMP THE RABBI (147) Someone that's new to Torah asked for a list of prophecies shown in the Torah. In this Shiur by Rabbi Yaron Reuven we'll enjoy learning some of countless prophecies shown in this week's Parasha and see how they are more relevant to each of our lives today than ever before. Enjoy. https://youtu.be/c7_QS49hvXQ
Vayechi Prophecy, STOLEN MONEY, Sefardic Peyot, PURPLE DRESS, Metzitzah B'Peh -STUMP THE RABBI (147) Someone that's new to Torah asked for a list of prophecies shown in the Torah. In this Shiur by Rabbi Yaron Reuven we'll enjoy learning some of countless prophecies shown in this week's Parasha and see how they are more relevant to each of our lives today than ever before. Enjoy. https://youtu.be/c7_QS49hvXQ
Why CAN'T we live simple happy life? Why do we need to face challenges in order to achieve any true and lasting achievement? Read and learn more about this Parasha https://livekabbalah.org/vayehi Join our course program: https://livekabbalah.org/live-kabbalah-courses Join our Zoom Program: https://livekabbalah.org/weekly-zohar-tree-of-life-study-live Support our efforts to provide you with more materials, donate to Live Kabbalah: https://livekabbalah.org/donations
The Torah in Parashat Vayigash tells of Yaakob Abinu's move from Eretz Yisrael to Egypt with his entire family. We read that Yaakob went to Egypt together with "Kol Zar'o" – "all his offspring" (46:6). The Torah then seems to unnecessarily repeat this point, that all of Yaakob's offspring joined him in Egypt: "His sons and his sons' sons [went] with him; his daughters and his sons' daughters and all his offspring, he brought with him to Egypt" (46:7). What does this second verse add? Once we've been told that Yaakob went to Egypt with all his offspring, why does the Torah then need to specify his sons, his sons' sons, his daughters, and his sons' daughters? The Or Ha'haim (Rav Haim Ben-Attar, 1696-1743) offers a fascinating explanation of this verse, suggesting that the Torah here is delineating two different groups of Yaakob's offspring. The first group "went with him," just as he did, with the same mindset and outlook. Yaakob knew that he and his family were going to Egypt to begin the fulfillment of the prophecy given to his grandfather, Abraham, that his descendants would be persecuted in a foreign land. He understood that this was not going to be easy or pleasant, that his offspring were going to suffer terribly at the hands of the Egyptians. Nevertheless, he went to Egypt wholeheartedly, fully accepting Hashem's decree. The verse here tells us that Yaakob's "sons and his sons' sons went with him" – meaning, they went to Egypt in the same manner as he did, without any ambivalence or hesitation, trusting in Hashem. There were others, however, about whom the verse says, "he brought with him to Egypt" – implying that they needed to be coerced into moving to Egypt. This group did not have the same level of faith, and were hesitant to begin the decree of exile and persecution. After presenting this interpretation, the Or Ha'haim references the teaching of the Midrash (Shemot Rabba, 1) that the bondage did not begin until those who had moved from Canaan to Egypt had passed away. It was only after that generation in its entirety perished that G-d brought the pain and suffering of slavery upon Beneh Yisrael. The Or Ha'haim explains, "Perhaps this was for them a reward for willingly accepting the King's decree…for the remedy for suffering is acceptance." In this passage, the Or Ha'haim here reveals to us the answer to one of the most frequently asked questions asked by believing Jews: How should we respond to our problems and troubles to make them go away? The Or Ha'haim identifies for us the "antidote" to adversity, stating, "Sama De'yisureh Kabuleh" – "the remedy for suffering is acceptance." If we want to spare ourselves troubles and hardship, we need to accept everything that Hashem decrees should transpire. Yaakob's family members who went to Egypt wholeheartedly, undeterred by the decree of hardship, were rewarded by being spared that decree. This is the remedy – to humbly and unquestioningly accept everything that Hashem does. The Or Ha'haim concludes this passage by referencing a comment by the Zohar (Vayakhel, 198a) explaining the verse in Tehillim (146:5), "Ashreh She'Kel Yaakob Be'ezro, Sibro Al Hashem Elokav" – "Fortunate is he who is helped by the G-d of Yaakob; who places his hope in Hashem his G-d." The Zohar states that the word "Sibro" ("his hope") should be read as "Shibro" – "his crisis." In times of crisis and hardship, we need to reinforce our Emuna, our belief and conviction that everything Hashem does is for the best. If we do, then we transform "Shibro" into "Sibro" – we bring hope into an otherwise painful and overwhelming situation. We all occasionally find ourselves dealing with adversity in one form or another. The Or Ha'haim here teaches us that the most effective remedy which we can make use of to help ourselves during periods of hardship is Emuna, placing our faith in Hashem, and accepting everything He does without questioning Him.
Parasha VAYGASH - E se aproximou. Quais as 3 características externas que ajudam a manter-nos ligados ao judaísmo? Se não podemos consertar o mundo podemos faze-lo a nós mesmos e aos mais próximos? --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/daviddahis/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/daviddahis/support
Logic is very limited and boring. How can we create real Quantum Leaps? Our planet is facing huge challenges. A new era is coming. Why do we have to go through this crisis? How can we achieve safety? What is the fight about? Read and learn more about this Parasha https://livekabbalah.org/vayigash Join our course program: https://livekabbalah.org/live-kabbalah-courses Join our Zoom Program: https://livekabbalah.org/weekly-zohar-tree-of-life-study-live Support our efforts to provide you with more materials, donate to Live Kabbalah: https://livekabbalah.org/donations
On Hanukah, there is a special Torah reading throughout the Holiday. The selection, found in Parashat Naso, relates the Korbanot (offerings) of the Nesi'im (Princes) at the dedication of the Mishkan. The connection to Hanukah is based on the Midrash Pesikta that states that the Mishkan was completed on the 25th of Kislev but was dedicated later in the month of Nisan.The Sephardic custom differs from the Ashkenazim in a number of ways. First, the reading begins with the passage of Birkat Kohanim (Preistly Blessing), since the miracle of Hanukah happened through the Kohanim. The proper custom is not to stop the first Aliya at the end of Birkat Kohanim, but to proceed into the next passage in order to connect each Aliya with the topic of the Nesi'im. Hacham Ovadia rules that if someone did stop there, B'diavad, it is not a Beracha L'vatala.The second difference is that the Sephardic custom is to read only one Nasi per day, whereas the Ashkenazim read the current day and the next day. For example, on the second day of Hanukah, only the passage of the second Nasi is read and repeated in order for there to be enough Pesukim for all of the Aliyot.A third difference concerns how to break up the reading on the final day of Hanukah. The custom is to read the eighth day of the Nesi'im by the Kohen and Levi, and then the Yisrael goes back and reads the eighth day from the beginning through the beginning of Parashat Baha'alotha.The Halachic principle on Hanukah states, "En Mashgihim B'Hanukah"-The Halacha is not particular about mistakes in reading the Torah on Hanukah, as long as three Aliyot were read. If they inadvertently read the wrong day, B'diavad, they do not have to go back and reread the correct day. Moreover, even if they read the regular weekly Parasha, they fulfilled their obligation. This also applies to a case in which they began reading from the correct place, but then continued the details of the Korbanot from a different passage, according to R. Svi Pesah Frank and Hacham Ovadia.Every Hanukah also has Rosh Hodesh. On that day, two Sifre Torah are read from, the first for Rosh Hodesh and the Second for Hanukah. When Rosh Hodesh falls on Shabbat Hanukah, three Sifre Torah are read from. Six Aliyot are read from the regular Parasha; One Aliya from the Rosh Hodesh passage and the Maftir is for Hanukah. This follows the principle of "Tadir Kodem"-the more frequent Misva is performed first. Also, Hanukah is read last in order to connect it to the Haftora of Hanukah.
After vanquishing the Greeks from Jerusalem, the Hashmonaim set out to cleanse the Bet Ha'mikdash, which had been defiled by the Greeks, and they dedicated the Bet Ha'mikdash anew. As the Gemara famously relates, all the oil had been defiled, with the exception of one small flask which was found untouched, still bearing the Kohen Gadol's seal. The Hashmonaim used this oil to kindle the Menorah, and it miraculously sufficed for eight nights, until new oil could be produced and delivered to the Bet Ha'mikdash. Many commentators raise the question of why the Hashmonaim insisted on using specifically pure oil. The Halachic provision of "Tum'a Hutra Be'sibur" allows performing the service in a state of impurity when the majority of the nation is impure. Seemingly, this should apply to the kindling of the Menorah with impure oil when the Temple was overrun by impurity. Moreover, it is unclear how the oil had become Tameh (impure) as a result of the Greeks' intrusion into the Temple. A non-Jew touching something does not bring Tum'a (impurity) upon that item. And thus many scholars maintained that the oil in the Bet Ha'mikdash was acceptable for the lighting of the Menorah according to Torah law, despite having been handled by the Greeks, and it was disqualified only Mi'de'rabbanan (by force of Rabbinic enactment). We must therefore ask, couldn't this Rabbinic edict have been suspended under the extenuating circumstances in which the Hashmonaim found themselves? Why did they insist on using only pure oil, if the impure oil was fit for use on the level of Torah law? One answer given is that the Greeks had used the oil they found in the Bet Ha'mikdash for idol worship. This indeed disqualified the oil for use even under the circumstances, since the oil had been defiled through its having been used for pagan rituals. Some commentators, however, explain that the Hashmonaim did not want to rely on any leniencies, or to compromise standards even one iota, because this marked the dedication of the Bet Ha'mikdash. When starting something new, nothing short of the very best is acceptable. Only the strongest foundations can support a large building. The Hashmonaim understood that they were building the foundations of the renewed Bet Ha'mikdash, and so they insisted on maintaining the highest standards of purity and Kedusha, without any compromises or leniencies. A story is told of the Aderet (Rav Eliyahu David Rabinowitz-Teomim, 1845-1905), a towering Lithuanian sage who was brought to Jerusalem to serve as the city's Chief Rabbi. Immediately upon arriving in the city, he was invited to officiate at a wedding as his first role in his new position. Already at the beginning of the ceremony, he made a mistake – when reciting the Beracha over the wine, he accidentally recited, "She'ha'kol" instead of "Bori Peri Ha'gefen." He then immediately recited "Bore Peri Ha'gefen," the correct Beracha. The people were astounded – and very disappointed. There is a well-known Halacha that if one mistakenly recited "She'ha'kol" over a food or beverage which requires a different Beracha, the Beracha is valid after the fact. The people could not believe that the Rabbi chosen as the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem forgot this simple Halacha, and recited a Beracha unnecessarily. When he was later asked about the incident, the Aderet explained why he recited a new Beracha. He said that when the Rabbi recites the Beracha under the Hupa at a wedding, he does so on behalf of the groom. He is the groom's "Shaliah" ("agent"), in a sense, with regard to the Beracha. Hence, he must recite only the Beracha which the groom wants him to recite and thus authorizes him to recite. Unquestionably, a couple at their wedding want to begin their marriage with a strong foundation. They want things done optimally, in the best possible manner, and not on the level of "Be'di'abad" – in a way which is acceptable only after the fact. Therefore, even though generally one who mistakenly recites "She'ha'kol" has fulfilled his obligation and does not recite a new Beracha, in this particular instance, the Rabbi needed to recite a new Beracha – because the Hatan expected him to recite the optimal Beracha, and not a Beracha which is valid only after the fact. This might also explain why we light not just a single candle each night of Hanukah, which suffices to fulfill the basic obligation, but an additional candle each night, following the "Mehadrin Min Ha'mehadrin" – the highest standard, as the Gemara teaches. As we celebrate the rededication of the Bet Ha'mikdash, the building of the foundation for the renewed Mikdash, we follow the Hashmonaim's example and strive for the highest standard of performance, seeking to fulfill the Misvot in the best way possible, without any shortcuts or compromises.
True Success can happen while following a very clear set of rules. Our planet is facing huge challenges. A new era is coming. Why do we have to go through this crisis? How can we achieve safety? What is the fight about? Read and learn more about this Parasha https://livekabbalah.org/mikkets Join our course program: https://livekabbalah.org/live-kabbalah-courses Join our Zoom Program: https://livekabbalah.org/weekly-zohar-tree-of-life-study-live Support our efforts to provide you with more materials, donate to Live Kabbalah: https://livekabbalah.org/donations
En este programa el More nos habla de la figura de Iosef como sobra del Mesias que Sufre conocido en la literatura rabinica como el Mesias Ben Iosef. Ademas, nos habla de la relacion que tiene este con el Mesias Ben David y como Yeshua Ben Miriam con su vida y obr califica para sr el Mesias ben Iosef.
We read in Parashat Vayeshev of the hatred that Yosef's brothers felt toward him. The background to their hatred is the special love shown to Yosef by their father, Yaakob, who made him a special garment ("Ketonet Pasim" – 37:3), as well as Yosef's bringing negative reports about them to their father (37:2). The Gemara in Masechet Shabbat (10b) comments that a parent must ensure not to show favoritism to one child over the others, noting that "because of the extra two Sela'im-worth of fine wool that Yaakob gave to Yosef more than his other sons, his brothers envied him, and this resulted in our forefathers descending to Egypt." Yakaob's favoritism toward Yosef fueled the brothers' hatred which ultimately led them to sell him as a slave to Egypt, such that the special garment given to Yosef can be said to have indirectly caused the Egyptian exile. A number of commentators raised the question of why the Gemara emphasizes that the garment weighed "two Sela'im." Why is this detail relevant to the message being taught, that one must ensure to avoid showing favoritism to one of his children? Some Rabbis offered a deeper explanation of the Gemara's comment, suggesting that the Gemara alludes here to a hidden message latent within the garment which Yaakob gave to Yosef. Elsewhere in the Talmud, in Masechet Megilla (18a), the Gemara teaches, "Mila Be'sela, Mashtuka Bi'trein" – "A word is worth a Sela, silence is worth two [Sela'im]." Very often, remaining silent is far more effective, and powerful, than speaking. Yaakob gave Yosef a garment made from two Sela'im of wool as an allusion to the importance of silence, which is described as having the value of two Sela'im. As mentioned, Yosef regularly brought his father negative reports about what he perceived as his brothers' misconduct. Of course, his intentions were sincere and pure; we may reasonably assume that Yosef was well versed in the laws of Lashon Ha'ra, and knew the conditions that must be met to allow speaking negatively about other people, including the condition of pristinely sincere motives. There is no doubt that Yosef was not looking to cause trouble or to earn his place as Yaakob's favorite son, but rather brought this information to Yaakob's attention so he could address his sons' behavior. Nevertheless, under the circumstances, with brewing tensions, Yosef should have remained silent. Not everything that can be said should be said. This is why Yosef's garment is referred to as "two Sela'im-worth of fine wool." Yaakob gave Yosef two Sela'im to impress upon him the great value of silence, which is worth "two Sela'im," twice as much as a spoken word. It goes without saying that we should not be speaking negatively to or about people out of anger, spite or revenge. This is clearly forbidden. But the Gemara here indicates to us that even when our intentions are noble and sincere, criticism is not always wise. Very often, silence is far more prudent, far more effective, and far preferable. Even when we see value in saying something, we need to consider the possibility that refraining from saying it will yield a more desirable outcome. Let us never underestimate the precious value of silence, and let us always ensure to think very carefully before expressing any sort of criticism or negativity.
Evil and injustice can turn us into eternal victims, however, we can turn them into our biggest assets. Our planet is facing huge challenges. A new era is coming. Why do we have to go through this crisis? How can we achieve safety? What is the fight about? Read and learn more about this Parasha https://livekabbalah.org/vayislah Join our course program: https://livekabbalah.org/live-kabbalah-courses Join our Zoom Program: https://livekabbalah.org/weekly-zohar-tree-of-life-study-live Support our efforts to provide you with more materials, donate to Live Kabbalah: https://livekabbalah.org/donations
The opening verses of Parashat Vayishlah tell of how Yaakob Abinu was gripped by fear upon hearing that his brother, Esav, was approaching with an army of four hundred men. He turned to G-d in prayer, pleading that G-d rescue him "from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esav" (32:11). The question naturally arises as to why Yaakob prayed for protection both from "the hand of my brother" and from "the hand of Esav," which of course seem to be one and the same. A famous answer to this question is presented by the Bet Ha'levi (Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik of Brisk, 1820-1892), who explains that Yaakob refers here to the two different ways in which Esav could have planned to meet him. First and foremost, Yaakob feared that Esav would come and wage a fierce war, seeking to kill him and his family, to avenge Yaakob's taking his blessing many years earlier. But Yaakob also considered a different possibility – that Esav would come as his "brother," seeking love and friendship, with the aim of luring Yaakob away from his beliefs and values. Yaakov pleaded to G-d for protection from both "Esav" – the hostile, violent man who sought to kill him – and "my brother," who might seek brotherhood and closeness, which would pose a grave spiritual threat to Yaakob and his family. The Bet Ha'levi explains on this basis the Torah's description of Yaakob's fear: "Va'yira Yaakob Me'od Va'yeser Lo" – "Yaakov was very frightened, and he was distressed" (32:7). Yaakob was frightened by the prospect of Esav coming to wage battle against him, and he was distressed by the prospect of spiritual "warfare," of Esav coming as his brother, in an attempt to establish close ties with him, which could lead Yaakob away from his beliefs and traditions. Indeed, the Bet Ha'levi adds, Yaakob in the end required both forms of protection. Esav initially came with the intention to kill Yaakob, but then, after they met, Esav invited Yaakob to join him, asking that they form a partnership ("Nis'a Ve'nelecha, Ve'elcha Le'negdecha" – 33:12). Yaakob refused, and they parted ways. Hashem thus answered both of Yaakob's prayers – that he be saved from both Esav, and "my brother." He was saved from Esav's hostility, and then from Esav's attempt to lure him through his friendship and affection. These two threats are represented also by Yaakov's struggle against an angel, which attacked him as he went to meet Esav. The Sages identify this angel as Esav's heavenly angel, Satan himself. The Torah says that when the Satan saw that he could not defeat Yaakob, "Va'yiga Be'chaf Yerecho" (32:25). This is commonly understood to mean that the Satan "struck" Yaakob's thigh, dislodging his hip. But the word "Va'yiga" literally means "touched." We could explain, then, that the angel did not strike Yaakob – but rather touched him softly, affectionately. When the Satan saw that he could not defeat Yaakob by force, with hostility, it changed tactics – and treated Yaakob kindly and warmly, like a loving brother. Yaakob emerged from his confrontation with the Satan with only one injury – the injury sustained by the Satan's gentle touch. The violent blows did not cause Yaakob pain afterward; he suffered long-term pain only from the Satan's warm friendship – because this is the real danger, when other nations draw us too close to them, and lure us to their values and their way of life. As the Torah tells, we commemorate Yaakob's struggle with the Satan to this day by refraining from the "Gid Ha'nasheh" – the portion of the animal corresponding to the part of the thigh where Yaakob was hurt. We don't need to remember the Satan's violent attack on Yaakob; we are already well aware of the dangers of anti-Semitic hatred and hostility. This needs no reminder, no commemoration, and no emphasis. We do, however, need to be reminded of the dangers of "Va'yiga Be'chaf Yerecho," of the other nations' gentle "touch," their close friendship. While we certainly must appreciate and welcome their friendship, we must be very wary of their efforts to influence us, to entice us away from our traditions and ideals. Here in the United States, we are suffering terribly from the debilitating "blow" of "Va'yiga," of Esav's gentle touch. America has welcomed us warmly and granted us freedom and rights, allowing us to practice our faith without fear. While this is, on the one hand, a great blessing, it has also resulted in the tragic "injury" of rampant assimilation. For the most part, we do not need to fear the hatred and hostility of Esav here on these shores, but we do need to fear "my brother," the effects of close contact and involvement with general society. We are to stand guard and ensure that we maintain our beliefs, values and traditions, and never fall into the trap of Esav's gentle touch.
Parashat Vayeseh tells of Yaakob Abinu's experiences during the twenty years that he spent with his uncle, Laban. During that time, Yaakob married Laban's daughters, begot many children, and worked for Laban as a shepherd, enduring very difficult conditions wrought by Laban's dishonesty and guile. Finally, after twenty years, Yaakob took his family and his flocks, and set out to return home, to the Land of Israel. Laban pursued Yaakob, and after a heated exchange, they made a truce and agreed to part ways. The Torah relates that at that point, "Va'yashab Laban Li'mkomo" – "Laban returned to his place" (32:1). The question arises as to why the Torah needed to inform us that Laban returned home. Was this not self-understood? Did we expect Laban to remain for the rest of his life on the road where he had caught up to Yaakob? Rav Abraham Saba (1440-1508) explains that the Torah in this verse is not telling us about Laban's geography, that he went back to his home in Haran. Rather, it is telling us that Laban remained the same person he had been previously. For twenty years, Laban had a private audience with Yaakob Abinu, one of the greatest men who ever lived. The Sages speak of Yakaob as "Behir Ha'abot" – the "choicest" of the three patriarchs, a man whose image is engraved upon G-d's heavenly throne. Being in the company of an outstanding Sadik, normally, has a profound impact upon a person. I recall the opportunity I had as a youngster to pray one morning with Rav Moshe Feinstein (1895-1986), an experience that left an indelible impression upon me. Exposure to towering spiritual giants is exceedingly impactful. And yet, after Laban spent twenty years with Yaakob Abinu, he "returned to his place." He was the same corrupt, wily, evil person that he had been beforehand. How does this happen? How could somebody be in the presence of a righteous person and not be impacted by it? The answer is that Laban consciously resisted this influence. He made the decision that he did not need or want to grow, that he wanted to remain the same person. And somebody who is not interested in growing is not going to grow, even when exposed to spiritual giants – even Yaakob Abinu! – because he intentionally resists the influence that they exert. I recall that many years ago there was a man who would attend my Se'uda Shelishit lecture each week. He would sit in the front row, and I could tell by his face and body language that he thoroughly enjoyed the talk. Suddenly, he stopped coming. After a while, I happened to meet him somewhere, and I asked why he had stopped attending the class, and whether he no longer found them enjoyable. He explained that he enjoyed them very much, but that it was becoming impossible to hear the Torah insights I was sharing without being changed as a result – and he had no interest in changing. He wanted to stay the same as he was, and so he decided to stop attending the class, because if he continued hearing the words of Torah, he would be impacted by them. This is what we might call the "Laban Syndrome" – the desire to specifically not change, not grow, not improve, not become better. When somebody makes a conscious decision not to change, then nothing will change him. The next verse says, "Ve'Yaakob Halach Le'darko" – "Yaakob went along his way" (32:3). Whereas Laban remained the same as he was, Yaakob set out "along his way," seeking to advance, to progress, to grow even more. As great as he already was, he wanted to become even greater. This is the example that we, the descendants of Yaakob Abinu, must follow. Rather than fall into the "Laban Syndrome," and remain stagnant, we are to always strive to learn more, to grow in our understanding of Torah and to grow in our observance of the laws and values of Torah. We should never feel fully content and satisfied with who we are now, but must rather always continue "along the way," seeking to become better and better, each day of our lives.
The Torah in Parashat Toldot tells the story of the blessings which Yishak Abinu wished to bestow upon his older son, Esav, but which were taken by the younger son, Yaakob. Yishak informed Esav of his desire to bless him, and instructed him to go out to the field, hunt an animal, and prepare the meat for him, so that in the merit of this Misva he would be worthy of his blessing. After Esav left, Ribka, who heard Yishak's commands to Esav, plotted to have Yaakob receive the Berachot, instead. As Yishak was blind, Ribka needed only to dress Yaakob in Esav's special garments so he would feel like his brother. The Torah says that Ribka dressed Yaakob in "Bigdeh Esav…Ha'hamudot" – Esav's "precious" garments. The Sages explain that these garments had been passed down since the time of Adam, and had the special power to attract animals. In fact, this is how Noah brought all the animals onto the ark – by attracting them through these garments. Esav received this clothing and would wear it when he went hunting. The animals would be drawn to him, and this is how Esav could easily catch them. Esav used this power for the sake of the Misva of Kibbud Ab – honoring his father, as he would quickly catch animals and prepare meat for Yishak. According to the Midrash, these were the garments in which Ribka dressed Yaakob when he came before Yishak disguised as Esav to receive the blessings. Rav Zalman Sorotzkin (1881-1966), in his Oznayim La'Torah commentary, notes the obvious question that arises from the Midrash's comments. If, indeed, the "Bigdeh Esav Ha'hamudot" were the garments which Esav wore while hunting to prepare meat for his father, so why wasn't Esav wearing them at this time? Yitshak had just commanded him to prepare meat; seemingly, this was precisely the time when Esav would wear his special garments to help him out in the hunt. Why were they at home? Rav Sorotzkin offers several answers, one of which is that Yitshak specifically asked Esav to hunt the animals naturally, without using his special garments, so that he would need to work hard and thereby earn reward. As the Mishna in Abot (5:23) famously teaches, "Le'fum Sa'ara Agra" – the harder one needs to work in fulfilling a Misva, the greater his reward is. Yishak wanted Esav to be worthy of the great blessings which he now wished to grant him, and so he told Esav to go out and hunt an animal without the miraculous power of the special garments, which made hunting quick and easy. When it comes to performing Misvot, we should not be looking for shortcuts, or for the easy way out. The quality of our Misvot depends, to a large extent, on the hard work and effort that we invest in them. And so we must not expect Misva observance to be easy, and we certainly must not despair when challenges and obstacles get in the way. We must remember that it is specifically through the exertion of effort that our Misvot become precious and valuable, and bring us immense rewards.
Parashat Hayeh-Sara tells the famous story of Eliezer, Abraham Abinu's servant, whom Abraham sent to Aram Naharayim to find a girl for Yitzhak. Eliezer's mission was successful, as he brought Ribka, a righteous granddaughter of Abraham's brother, to Eretz Yisrael to marry Yitzhak. When Abraham assigned to Eliezer this mission, he assured him that G-d would "send his angel before you" to guarantee his success (24:7). Who was this angel? The Shela Ha'kadosh (Rav Yeshaya Horowitz, d. 1630) explains that this was none other than the angel "Matat-Ron," the chief of all the angels in the heavens. The Torah here refers to Eliezer as Abraham's servant "Ha'moshel Be'chol Asher Lo" – who controlled all of Abraham's property (24:2). The Shela writes that Matat-Ron has the corresponding role in the heavens, governing all the other angels, and this angel was dispatched to accompany Eliezer and ensure the success of his mission. For this reason, the Shela explains, the Torah in this section sometimes refers to Eliezer as "Ha'ebed" – "the servant," and at other times, "Ha'ish" – literally, "the man." The Shela notes that in some contexts, the word "Ish" refers to an angel that was sent to this world to fulfill a certain mission. In this narrative, then, the word "Ha'ish" refers not to Eliezer, but rather to Matat-Ron, the angel who accompanied him and guaranteed that he would succeed. Indeed, the Midrash teaches that when Ribka's family saw the wealth that Eliezer had brought with him, they tried to kill him by poisoning the food that they served him, so they could seize his riches. However, an angel switched the dishes, taking the plate served to Eliezer and placing it in front of Betuel, Ribka's father, killing him. This angel was Matat-Ron, the angel sent especially to protect Eliezer and ensure his success. The Shela adds that this explains the verse at the conclusion of the story (24:61), which tells that Ribka and her helpers followed the "Ish" ("Va'telechna Ahareh Ha'ish"), and then says that "the servant took Ribka" ("Va'yikah Ha'ebed Et Ribka"). The "Ish," as mentioned, refers to the angel. The angel's job was to assure that Eliezer would be able to bring Ribka out of her family's home. Once the mission was accomplished, the angel left, and thus after Ribka went with the "Ish," the angel, it returned to the heavens, and "the servant" – Eliezer – took Ribka to marry Yitzhak. This story reassures us that particularly when it comes to the area of Shidduchim, we must place our trust in G-d, and firmly believe that He has sent His angel to find every person his or her match. The right Shidduch will come when it is supposed to come, and nothing can ever get in the way. Hashem even dispatches His angels to make sure it happens. The story is told of a yeshiva student in Hungary who posed a very difficult question to his Rosh Yeshiva. The Rosh Yeshiva did know the answer, and so the student wrote to several of the leading Torah sages of the time. One of the Rabbis sent a brilliant answer to the question, and the student was amazed. He asked his Rosh Yeshiva for permission to travel to meet this certain Rabbi, and the Rosh Yeshiva agreed. Along the trip, the student lodged in an inn, and he met there another yeshiva student. They began talking, and the other student informed him that he was a disciple of the Hatam Sofer (Rav Moshe Sofer of Pressburg, 1762-1839), who had sent him to deliver a letter to a certain Rabbi. It turned out that the Rabbi he was sent to was the same Rabbi that the first yeshiva student was going to visit. The other student asked him if he could bring the letter for him to save him a trip, and he agreed. He continued his journey, reached the Rabbi, and spent a number of days learning Torah with him. Before he left, he said, "I almost forgot – I met somebody on the way here who needed to deliver a letter to the Rabbi from the Hatam Sofer!" He handed the Rabbi the letter, and he read it. He then closed it, looked at the yeshiva student, and said, "Mazal tov! I am pleased that you will be marrying my daughter!" As it turned out, the Hatam Sofer had written to this Rabbi that he should have his daughter marry the boy who brought him that letter… When G-d decides to make a Shidduch, not even a righteous Sadik like the Hatam Sofer can get in the way. Let us, then, stop worrying, place our faith in Hashem, and trust that an angel has already been dispatched to find each and every person their intended mate.
Parshat Vayeira: The Promised Son - English only. Comparing the Parasha with the Haftarah and Brit Chadashah readings, we find several similarities involving prophetic births. Posted November 16, 2022.
The Torah in Parashat Vayera tells the well-known story of the destruction of Sedom. Two angels were sent by G-d to rescue Lot – Abraham Abinu's nephew, who had chosen to live among the wicked people of Sedom. The angels instructed Lot to leave the city with his wife and daughters, but "Va'yitmahmah" – he "tarried" (19:16). Finally, the angels grabbed Lot, his wife and his two unmarried daughters, and brought them outside the city. Rashi explained that Lot tarried because he wanted to first collect his money and possessions. He was a wealthy man, and did not want to leave the city without his belongings. The Nahalat Yaakob (by Rav Yaakob Lorberbaum of Lissa, author of the "Netivot," 1760-1832), raises the question of how Lot could have possibly thought to delay his escape from Sedom for the sake of his money. Why would he risk his life by remaining? If somebody heard that a bomb would soon be exploding in the building where he was currently situated, he would immediately flee for his life; he would not take an extra few minutes to gather his belongings. What was Lot thinking? The Nahalat Yaakob explains based on the Midrash's comment that Lot was rescued from Sedom because of the two "pearls" that would emerge from him. After the destruction of Sedom, Lot's wife was killed, and Lot and his two daughters found temporary residence in a cave. Assuming that the entire earth had been destroyed, Lot's daughters made the drastic decision that they needed to cohabit with their father in order to conceive and perpetuate the human race. On two successive nights, they gave their father wine, he became inebriated, and they had relations with him. They conceived and gave birth to Amon and Moab, who founded nations known by these names. The nation of Moab produced Rut, who joined Am Yisrael and became the great-grandmother of King David. Amon produced Na'ama, who married King Shlomo, and whose son, Rehabam, continued the chain of the Davidic dynasty. This is why Lot was rescued from Sedom – because of these two righteous women who would join Beneh Yisrael, and from whom the Mashiah would descend. The Nahalat Yaakob explains that this is why Lot was not worried about delaying his departure. He assumed that the city could not be destroyed as long as he was present, because he was needed. Knowing that he was destined to beget two woman who would produce Mashiah, he felt confident that he would survive, and so he took his time. The Nahalat Yaakob adds that this is why the cantillation note above the word "Va'yitmahmah" is the unusual "Shaleshelet" note. The word "Shalshelet" means "chain," and thus alludes to a legacy, the chain that descends from a person. The "Shalshelet" appears in three other times in the Humash, all in contexts relevant to a chain of descendants. It appears in the context of Eliezer's search for a wife for Yishak Abinu (Bereshit 24:12), when he was entrusted with the task of finding a woman with whom Yishak would build the Nation of Israel. Later, a "Shalshelet" appears over the word "Va'yema'en" which speaks of Yosef's refusal to have a relationship with his master's wife, who desired him (Bereshit 39:8). Yosef rejected her advances because of the "chain" of righteous individuals who were destined to descend from him, such as Yehoshua. Finally, a "Shalshelet" appears in the context of Aharon's sacrificing the sin-offering through which he earned atonement for the sin of the golden calf, and became worthy of establishing the family of Kohanim (Vayikra 8:23). The Nahalat Yaakob explains that this is why the "Shalshelet" note appears also here in the story of Lot's delayed departure from Sedom. He felt comfortable taking his time because of the "Shalshelet" that he knew would descend from him. Of course, Lot was wrong. Although he was being rescued on account of these two "pearls," Rut and Na'ama, Jewish destiny did not actually depend on him. The souls of these two righteous women were within Lot's daughters, and G-d could have arranged for them to propagate through a more conventional union. Regardless, the angels had compassion on Lot and took him by the end, bringing him out of the city in order to save his life.
Parashat Lech-Lecha begins with Hashem's first words to Abraham Abinu – commanding him to leave his homeland and settle in the Land of Israel. The Or Ha'haim (Rav Haim Ben-Attar, 1696-1743) raises the question of why the Torah does not mention that G-d appeared to Abraham. Normally, when G-d speaks to a prophet for the first time, it says that He first appeared to the prophet and then spoke to him. Here, however, we are told that G-d spoke to Abraham, and only later, when Abraham reached Eretz Yisrael, the Torah relates that G-d appeared to him and promised that this land would be given to his offspring (12:7). Why? The Or Ha'haim answers that Abraham became worthy of beholding G-d's presence once he fulfilled G-d's commands. Subsequent prophets, the Or Ha'haim explains, were already rooted in sanctity because they descended from Abraham Abinu. But Abraham himself, who was the first to recognize Hashem, needed to earn the privilege of a prophetic vision through obedience, by obeying a command given to him by G-d. Therefore, G-d did not at first appear to Abraham, but rather spoke to him, commanding him to resettle in the Land of Israel. Once Abraham obeyed and arrived in the land, G-d appeared to him. The Or Ha'haim's comments perhaps answer also a different question, regarding the great miracle of Ur Kasdim, where Abraham was saved from a furnace. According to a well-known Midrashic tradition, Abraham was brought before the king, Nimrod, because he publicly renounced idol-worship and insisted on the belief in a single G-d. Even at the threat of death, Abraham refused to rescind his faith. He was thrown into furnace, and he miraculously survived. Curiously, the Torah does not tell this story. It alludes to this miracle through the name "Ur Kasdim" (11:28; see Rashi), as the word "Ur" means "fire," but it is not told explicitly. We would have assumed that this extraordinary display of courage and self-sacrifice would be significant enough to be mentioned to provide us with some background into Abraham Abinu's character and devotion to G-d. Yet, the Torah omits this episode, and instead begins the story of Abraham with the command that he move to Eretz Yisrael. The answer, perhaps, is that as great as this display of faith was, it was done voluntarily. Abraham went into the furnace of his own volition, without having been commanded to by G-d. This was certainly inspiring – but a person's primary obligation is to submit to G-d's will, to properly and devotedly obey His commands. As the Gemara (Kiddushin 31a) teaches, "Gadol Ha'mesuveh Ve'oseh Mi'mi She'eno Mesuveh Ve'oseh" – one who fulfills a Misva which he is commanded to perform is greater than one who voluntarily fulfills a Misva which he is not commanded to perform. The greatest act we can do as G-d's servants is to carry out our duties, to fulfill our obligations. Of course, we are encouraged to extend beyond our basic obligations, and to achieve to our maximum potential. But our primary point of focus must be on obedience, humbly obeying Hashem's commands, and doing all that He instructs us to do.
The opening verse of Parashat Noah tells us, "Et Ha'Elokim Hit'halech Noah" – that Noah "walked with G-d." The Seforno (Rav Ovadia Seforno, Italy,1474-1550) explains this to mean that Noah dealt kindly with other people, and sought to help them, just as G-d dispenses kindness and helps people. Specifically, the Seforno writes, Noah reprimanded his contemporaries, in an attempt to convince them to cease their evildoing and conduct themselves properly. Whereas many assume that Noah did not try to lead the people of his time to repent, the Seforno claims that Noah indeed expended great efforts seeking to uplift and inspire the sinners of his generation. He followed G-d's example of kindness by working to help the people of his time improve their behavior. In fact, the Seforno writes later (6:10) that it was only once Noah began reprimanding the people of his time that he was blessed with children. The Torah tells that Noah begot children at the age of 500 – at a much more advanced age than others – and the Seforno maintains that this was because he was granted the blessing of children only after he started making efforts to lead his contemporaries to repent. Of course, as we know, Noah's efforts were unsuccessful. His teachings had no effect upon the people, and they persisted in their evildoing, until eventually G-d decided to annihilate all of mankind. We might ask, why were his efforts unsuccessful? How is it possible that he was unable to impact anybody? The answer might be that Noah did not truly believe that the sinful people of his time were capable of repenting. In order for a teacher or rabbi to succeed in inspiring those under his charge, he needs to approach his work with conviction, with passion. He needs to believe wholeheartedly everything he says. If he is trying to convince people to change, he needs to believe in his heart that they can change. Noah, it seems, lacked this conviction. He spoke dispassionately, because he doubted whether he could have any impact. He assumed that the people had fallen too low, that they had drifted too far from proper conduct, to ever improve. Noah failed to realize that very often, it is specifically when people hit "rock bottom" that they are open and receptive to calls for change. Many Ba'aleh Teshuba became influenced to embrace religious observance after having fallen to the lowest depths, when their lives became empty and devoid of meaning and substance. When a person reaches this point, he is looking to change – and it is precisely then when one has the greatest chance of influencing that individual and inspiring him to change. The people in Noah's time were capable of change specifically because they had sunken to such depths, because they had become so evil and debased. But Noah doubted their capacity to change, and so his efforts were tepid and ultimately unsuccessful. We should never doubt a person's ability to change. No matter where a person is, no matter how distant he might be from G-d, from Torah, and from a Torah lifestyle, he is capable of changing and returning to observance. Once we recognize this truth, and acknowledge the great potential within each and every person, regardless of his current state, we will speak with greater passion and conviction, and will then be able, with G-d's help, to inspire our fellow Jews to draw closer to Torah observance, one step at a time.
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The opening verses of Parashat Bereshit tell that at the time of the beginning of the world's creation, "the earth was ‘Tohu Va'bohu'" – meaning, filled with confusion and nothingness – "and there was darkness upon the deep." Then G-d proclaimed, "Let there be light," and light was created. The Or Ha'haim Ha'kadosh (Rav Haim Ben-Attar, 1696-1743) explains these verses as an allusion to the Jewish Nation's exile. The expression "Tohu Va'bohu" in Gematria equals 430 – thus alluding to the 430-year period from the time G-d informed Abraham about the Egyptian exile until Beneh Yisrael's redemption from Egypt. Moreover, the Aramaic Targum Onkelos translation of the Torah translates the word "Bohu" as "Rekanaya" ("emptiness"), which alludes to the Babylonian exile. The prophet Yirmiyahu (51:34) says in reference to Nebuchadnesar – the Babylonian emperor who exile Beneh Yisrael – "Keli Rek" – "an empty utensil." Thus, the word "Bohu" contains a subtle allusion to the Babylonian exile. The Torah then speaks of the darkness that filled all of existence, which the Or Ha'haim understands as an allusion to our current exile, which has lasted for millennia. The Or Ha'haim writes that our exile is described as "dark" because of the suffering our nation has endured at the hands of hostile nations, and because of the Yeser Ha'ra (evil inclination), the sinful lures and temptations which become ever more prevalent and make it especially challenging for us to properly devote ourselves to Hashem. However, the Torah tells that G-d pronounced that light should shine – and, sure enough, there was light. The Or Ha'haim writes that no matter how dark our exile becomes, no matter how difficult the challenges are, Hashem will eventually proclaim, "Yehi Or" – "Let there be light," and the darkness will give way to the brilliant light of redemption. When we look around, and consider the state of Am Yisrael in our time, we might feel disheartened and fall into despair. The "darkness" described by the Or Ha'haim has only intensified in the nearly 300 years since he wrote these words. True, we might not face the same kind of persecution as that which the Jews suffered in the past, but the "darkness" wrought by the Yeser Ha'ra is much thicker and drearier than ever before. Technology has given the Yeser Ha'ra power that our ancestors never imagined it having, and so many precious souls have fallen into this trap. In many ways, our exile is darker now than it ever was. Right at the beginning of the Torah, the Or Ha'haim makes a point of giving us the encouragement and optimism that we need, to avoid despair. He assures us that even when darkness fills the earth, G-d will bring the great light of redemption, save us from all the difficulties and struggles that we face, and create for us a new world, one in which we will be able to faithfully serve Him as we are meant to.
This is Torah Talk for the week of October 16th, 2022 Deut. 34:6 He buried him [וַיִּקְבֹּ֨ר אֹת֤וֹ] in the valley in the land of Moab, near Beth-peor; and no one knows his burial place to this day. The “him” who was buried is Moses – but who buried him … and how? This week's […]
The Talmud in Masechet Sukka describes the special celebration that was held each night of Sukkot in the Bet Ha'mikdash, which was called the Simhat Bet Ha'sho'eba. This celebration featured euphoric singing and dancing, and even juggling. The greatest sages would dance with unmatched fervor and intensity. We commemorate this event by conducing our own Simhat Bet Ha'sho'eba celebrations during Sukkot, singing and dancing with immense joy and festivity. What is the reason behind this practice? Why do we hold such an event specifically on Sukkot, and not on the other holidays? The answer is found in the famous comments of Gaon of Vilna (1720-1797) to explain the meaning of the holiday of Sukkot. The Torah (Vayikra 23:23:43) tells that we reside in Sukkot during this holiday to commemorate the "Sukkot" in which our ancestors resided during their sojourn in the desert. According to one view in the Gemara, which is accepted in the Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 625), this refers to the Ananeh Ha'kabod, the miraculous "clouds of glory" which encircled our ancestors as they traveled. The Vilna Gaon explained that after Beneh Yisrael worshipped the golden calf, G-d removed these special clouds. Although He continued sustaining them by providing the heavenly manna and the miraculous well of water, He denied them the benefits of the Ananeh Ha'kabod, which made the conditions especially comfortable and even cleaned Beneh Yisrael's clothing. These clouds, which were more of a luxury than a necessity, expressed G-d's special love for His people, like an expensive piece of jewelry which a husband buys for his wife. Once Beneh Yisrael betrayed Hashem by worshipping the golden calf, these clouds were taken away. On Yom Kippur, Hashem announced that He forgave Beneh Yisrael, and would not destroy them, but the Ananeh Ha'kabod returned only several days later – once they began building the Mishkan. After having given gold for fashioning an idol, they now generously gave their gold and other precious possessions toward the construction of a Sanctuary for G-d. Having shown their unbridled devotion to G-d, the Ananeh Ha'kabod returned, signifying the full restoration of Beneh Yisrael's prior relationship with G-d, to the point where His love was now expressed just as it had been before the sin of the golden calf. The Vilna Gaon explained that this is what we celebrate on Sukkot – the return of the Ananeh Ha'kabod, which signified the full restoration of our special relationship with Hashem. If, indeed, Sukkot marks the rectification of the sin of the golden calf, then we can perhaps gain insight into the meaning behind the Simhat Bet Ha'sho'eba celebration. The Torah says (Shemot 32:19) that when Moshe returned from the top of Mount Sinai, and he saw the people dancing around the golden calf, he was incensed, and he threw the stone tablets down to the ground, shattering them. The commentaries note that what angered Moshe was not the sin per se, but rather than joy and festivity surrounding the sin. As human beings, we are going to make mistakes and act wrongly on occasion. But what makes our misdeeds especially grievous is when we commit them happily, with enthusiasm and excitement. As part of the Tikkun (rectification) of the sin of the golden calf, we must reverse our ancestors' fervent celebration of the golden calf by showing joy and enthusiasm for the service of Hashem. This is what the joy of Sukkot is all about. Immediately after Yom Kippur, during the days when our ancestors generously donated materials for the Mishkan, we spend money for the Misvot of Arba Minim and Sukka, and we are busy and excited preparing for the Yom Tob. And then, during Sukkot, we excitedly sing and dance to celebrate our special relationship with Hashem. Over the course of the year, we have at times failed to show proper enthusiasm for the service of Hashem. We occasionally displayed greater excitement for things such as money, entertainment, lavish vacations and material possessions, than for our relationship with our Creator. On Sukkot, we correct this mistake by celebrating with Hashem, by experiencing and showing sincere, genuine joy over our status as Hashem's children, which is truly the greatest source of joy and excitement possible.
This is Torah Talk for the week of September 25th, 2022 Deut. 31:1 Moses went and spoke these things to all Israel. Did he really? He was already speaking to them! So where did he “go”? The Dead Sea Scrolls may have the answer. This week's handout: 52 Vayelech 5782-83 Learn Biblical Hebrew! Donate via […]
This is Torah Talk for the week of September 18th, 2022 Deut. 30:3 The Lord your God will restore your fortunes [וְשָׁ֨ב אֶת־שְׁבוּתְךָ֖] and take you back in love [וְרִחֲמֶ֑ךָ]. What does this grammatically strange expression really mean? “Take you back in love” may provide the answer! This week's handout: 51 Nitzavim 5782 My second “Bible […]
The pasuk says in this week's Parasha, Ki Tavo , ושמחת בכל הטוב – we are to rejoice with all of the good that Hashem gives us. In this world, when a person appreciates what others do for him, those people are happy to give him more. But when a person denies the good, it makes others turn away from giving him. At the end of the year, when we are going to request of Hashem to give us a new year of blessing, the best thing we could do is to first appreciate how much He has given us already. One of the reasons people don't appreciate is because they feel that everyone else has more than them and everyone else is happier than them. But they are very mistaken. The sefer Orchot HaYeshiva tells the story of a young man who went to see Rav Shach, zatzal , and lamented that it seemed to him that his friend, who had gotten engaged at the same time as he did, seemed to be happier than him. He was asking the Rabbi if he should perhaps break off his engagement. Rav Shach replied, “The boy you are talking about was here before and he had the exact same complaint. He thought that you seemed happier than him.” This is the nature of man, to always think that others are happier than he, but in actuality, Hashem gives each person exactly what he needs to be happy, to do his job. If we could only focus on what we do have rather than on what everyone else seems to have, we would be so much happier. Just saying the Birkot HaShachar in the morning with kavana can bring a person such an appreciation for Hashem. The Chochma U'Musar writes, before we say each beracha , we should think about what exactly we are about to thank Hashem for and then appreciate it to the fullest. For example, he said, one of the berachot is פוקח עיוורים – that Hashem gives eyesight to the blind. Simply, we are saying when we go to sleep we can't see and each day when we wake up, Hashem gives up the ability to see once again. We are supposed to imagine the feelings of a blind man, lo alenu , and then imagine that all of a sudden, a doctor came up with a medication that could cure the blind. How much joy would a blind man have finally being able to see? That is the amount of appreciation that we are supposed to show Hashem every single day because nothing is a given and just because a person has something today doesn't necessarily mean he'll have it tomorrow. It is only because of the chesed of Hashem that we are able to enjoy the blessings He gives us each and every day. We also have to feel so fortunate that we have the zechut to serve the Melech Malchei HaMelachim HaKadosh Baruch Hu . The sefer Mizmor L'Asaf writes, when a person enters the shul in the morning, he should be overcome with hakarat hatov that Hashem gave him the privilege of entering His home to come and speak to Him. The more we appreciate, the better our avodat Hashem will be, the happier we will be and the happier Hashem will be to give us even more.
In the beginning of this week's Parasha , Ki Tetzeh , the Torah speaks about the בן סורר ומורה – the wayward son who veered off the proper path. The Gemara tells us in Masechet Berachot (daf 8) that having a child in the family who is off the derech is more difficult for the family than the war of Gog u'Magog . Unfortunately today, many families are going through this suffering. Even parents who have honestly dedicated themselves to giving their children the proper chinuch are experiencing this nightmare in their home. Their lives have been completely overturned and they long for the day that their child will come back. Baruch Hashem, we have seen many of these children indeed return to the ways of Torah and mitzvot, and we hope to see many more. Parents should never give up on trying to bring their child back. Even one line of inspiration or one experience can completely change their outlook on life. The parents need to pray that Hashem sends their child the right shaliach to give him or her the inspiration they need to come back. In one moment, all of the bitterness and hardship could come to an end. A man, who we'll call Avraham, related that he was planning to travel overseas for a family wedding and made all the necessary arrangements. He ordered a driver to pick him up at 7:30 am, having to be in the airport by 9:00, which was about an hour and a quarter from his house. That morning, Avraham somehow overslept and woke up at 6:40. If he would leave at 7:30 as planned, he would miss minyan . On the other hand, if he went to minyan , he might miss the flight and the wedding and lose the money he spent on the flight and disappoint his whole family. He decided he had to go to minyan and he was going to do his best to still make it on time. He called the driver and said he's going to start paying him from 7:30 as they agreed, and he explained how he woke up late and wanted to go to minyan first. He prayed the entire tefila and then got into the car, leaving at 8:20. On the way to the airport, the driver shared his unfortunate life story with Avraham. He said he used to learn in an excellent yeshiva and was a top bachur, and now he looked completely secular. Realizing that Avraham was in doubt about the veracity of his story, he started quoting gemarot that he remembered from his past. Avraham then asked him what happened. He replied, he had a friend that for whatever reason he began to compete with. Who would get up earlier? Who would learn more? Who would get higher grades? That pressure caused him to push himself too far until he fell apart and became disgusted with everything he was doing. He continued, “Today, as I was waiting for you, I said to myself, look at him, a Jew who is willing to give up everything in order to pray with a minyan . He could miss his flight and suffer many consequences, but he wants to do what Hashem wants. This is a Jew not serving Hashem to compete with someone else, or for some personal gain, but rather with true sincerity. I suddenly realized this is for real. If you could do it, why can't I? I could pray with minyan as well, and tomorrow I'm going to start.” He finished off by thanking Avraham, telling him that this experience just changed his life for the better. We never know what might inspire someone to come back to Hashem. Everyone is different and gets inspired differently and Hashem could always send the perfect messenger to give the inspiration that He knows will work. Parents should spend extra time in the beracha of השיבנו אבינו לתורתך in the Amida to beg Hashem to guide their children in the right direction. Shabbat Shalom.