Friday, August 30, 2013

We're Almost There! Stay strong!

Have a great Shabbos!!
I know many of us are worried about events in the world.
I believe, however, that it will all be good for Israel, with Hashem's help.
Hashem says in the Haftora of Va'etchanan, "He turns the leaders of countries into nothingness and the judges of the world into emptiness." All the leaders of the world think they are in control and that they can effect outcomes. Hashem says that they are nothing.
Let's keep that in mind.
I believe that Hashem is in the mode of redeeming us and not hurting us.
If we take a look at the Paragraph of Teshuva in this week's Parsha, Chapter 30, verses 1-10, we see an exchange with Hashem we do a little of Teshuva and Hashem does a lot for us in return. The Malbim says it is a 10 step process to getting closer to Hashem. If you look closely you will see that we, at this time in history, are already at verse 9!!! We are almost there!!
Just a little more.
That should give us great strength and motivation to work on ourselves during this Rosh Hashana. Because we are almost there. Just a little more improvement, a bit more correction and working on our Torah and spiritual goals and we can reach it.
Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova

Friday, August 9, 2013

Judge Not Until You Judge Yourself

Now for a Dvar Torah on This week's Parsha - Shoftim
The Torah tells us that we should set up a system and structure to communicate, clarify and enforce the laws.
But it uses an extra word. Instead of saying "You should assign judges and officers" it says “You should assign FOR YOU judges and officers”.
Many of the commentaries explain that this means that each and every person should do self-reflection. And you should constantly be judging yourself to see if you are doing what you should.
Rav Yeruchem Levovitz explains that it is divided into 2 things:
Judges and officers. And we should apply that to our own self-reflection and development.
Judges teach and clarify the law -
So we must make sure we do what we can to learn and know the laws
Officers enforce the law - So we too must work on ourselves to correct where we need correcting and improve where we need improving.
But the trick is (and this is what truly will make someone unique) is being real honest with ourselves about our shortcomings and what needs improvement.
This is especially our work for this time of year as Chodesh Elul has started and Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur approaches.

It's Really All Up To You

Last week’s Parsha is Re'eh. Moshe has just reviewed for the Bnei Yisroel the past 40 years of travels and before he starts to review some of the rules, he gives them words of inspiration.
He tells them that after all I have said, what you do is up to you. And "See you have before you Bracha and Klala" which is inaccurately translated as blessing and curse.
Rabbi Hirsch explains those words beautifully.
He says that Bracha comes from the word for "moving forward" or progressive development.
and Klala comes from the word "digressing".
And the message of the 2 mountains opposite each other from the same valley, one very arid and dry and one very lush and green, is extremely powerful.
The 2 mountains have influence of the same exact environment, yet one uses it to the fullest, to become lush and green. And the other doesn't take advantage and has become empty and dry.
We too have the ability to move ahead and grow from what life gives us or complain and digress.
We can take the things that Hashem gives us, and even though it may not be the best situation we still can grow from it and turn it into Bracha. Or we can choose to think it is bad and digress from it.
The choice is ours completely. As they say if life gives you lemons you can make lemonade and maybe even profit greatly from it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Themes of The Book of Devorim

This Shabbos we will start reading the Book of Devorim. Which is Anglicized as Deuteronomy (which means basically, review)
but is translated as "words".
It is Moshe Rabeinu's final words to the Jewish people who he faithfully led for the past 40 or so years.
Every year I try to find the pattern and themes of the Book of Devorim.

I have not been successful.

I do not believe this is the uncontrolled ramblings of an old man.
I know that there is a rhyme and reason for how and why Moshe says what he says and when.
There needs to be a theme for each Parsha, for example. And even though there are repetitions of certain concepts many times, they have to be repeated for a contextual reason.
The choice laws that Moshe reviews here have to be done for a certain purpose. Why certain laws were reviewed and others not. Why that particular Parsha in which those laws are reviewed is chosen, also has to have meaning.
For instance why the Laws of Kashrus in Parshas Reah, etc.

In this week's Parsha, Moshe recounts the story of the Jewish people in the desert, going in order, starting from before the receiving of the Torah when he structured the Court system, then the spies, and then suddenly at Chamishi, he jumps approx 40 years to the end of the the Bnei Yisroels travels to the conquering of the various lands that were conquered. Why?

So I think that basically over the years I have come to understand maybe the theme of the first 3 Parshas.
Devorim - the Am Yisroel, the people.
V'eschanan - the Torah
Ekev - The land of Israel.
But it is not exclusive or conclusive.
And then???
Your thoughts are welcome.

Friday, June 21, 2013

So We Should Know Who We Are

My how time flies!!!
I haven't written anything here for a very long time! I gotta stop that.
To ALL a wonderful Shabbat.
Don't forget Tuesday is the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz
This Shabbat we read Parshat Balak.
Balak was the Moabite King and he and his people were afraid of the Bnei Yisroel due to the power they showed as they made their way out of Egypt to the Land of Israel.
To deal with that, Balak hires Bilaam, the Diviner, to try to find a way and time to send curses onto the Jewish people. Instead however, he praises and speaks glowingly about the Jewish people.
What is the Torah trying to tell us? What is the point of devoting so much space to what a practicer of the dark arts thinks of us? Even though he beautifully describes the qualities and uniqueness of the Jewish people, but do we need to hear it from him?
One thing is that it is nice sometimes to hear what others think of us and it is nice to get a recommendation from others about us. But that should not be our real motivation and actually we should not do things just to please others.
I think a story my Father ZT”L told me fits in very well. After WWII my father went back to Hungary to learn in a Yeshiva, awaiting approval to go to America. After a time he found out he was able to go to the US and went to his Rabbi for a letter of recommendation. The Rabbi told him to come back the next day.
When he came back the Rabbi told him, “Here is the letter. The truth is that you really won’t need this where you are going, they won’t care about what’s in this letter. But I am giving you this letter so YOU should know who you are. It’s not going to be easy over there, so I never want you to forget who you are.”
The Jewish People were about to go into Israel out of the direct influence of Hashem and Moses. G-d didn’t want them to ever forget who THEY are.