It’s the night of Pesach with all the family and guests joined together around the Seder table. After Kiddish the Bal HaBais breaks the middle matzah, wraps up the larger piece for the Afikomin and puts it snugly behind his pillow. Later in the seder someone points to the place of the afikoman and whispers to the child, “Snatch it now, quickly, while he’s not looking.” The ... << MORE >>
The rain washed down the windshield in torrents undeterred by the wipers. The driver wiped his bleary eyes and the world swam. Only a few more miles, he thought and I will be able to deliver the medicine from the pharmacy and go home. He glanced at the directions scribbled on a wrinkled paper. Here’s the turn. There’s ...
In a few impacting pesukim in the beginning of Sefer Shemos, the Torah sets in motion the political and emotional forces that were to keep the children of Israel in bondage for the next two hundred and ten years. These same forces have operated as a snare throughout history and are present today, only the stage setting has been specially designed to lure this generations unwary into its web of spiritual bondage. The mindset ... << MORE >>
It’s just a just time before takeoff, friends have dropped off packages of gifts for their loved ones. We wondered how we were going to fit them all into our bulging suitcases. Before we knew it the car service driver was beeping. We quickly stuffed our cases closed and hoped the zippers would hold ...<< MORE >>
Purim is the perfect time to invite guests who think that Judaism is stodgy and restrictive. As we stomp all over Haman’s name during the Megilla reading, and then sit down to a meal that’s more liquid then solid, I most enjoy watching Purim dismantling all of their pre-conceived notions. I ...<< MORE >>
Rx PRESCRIPTION : PURIM - MEHAPECH HU
Usage: MOOD ENHANCING
DOSAGE: Twenty four hour spiritual “infusion” that keeps us elevated for the whole year.
SUPERNAL “INGREDIENTS” : The four essential sacred “compounds” are Mikra Megillah, Shelach Manos, Matanos Le-Evonim and Seudas Purim ...<< MORE >>
A study was conducted by a team of researchers from New York University who used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), in an effort to determine whether the trait of optimism can be identified with a particular area of the brain. The subjects were told to think about the outcomes of important future events as they were being scanned. The scans showed that ...<< MORE >>
Since everything in the physical realm has a spiritual connection let us try to unveil the metaphysical underpinnings that corresponds to the four elements of air, earth, water and fire in relationship to the three dimensional reality of person, place and time.
In relationship to people, air can be perceived to symbolize the ethereal realm of our higher consciousness, while the earthliness in us is the innate power of our ...<< MORE >>
The inspiring ideas of this beautiful Torah thought in Pasuk 34: 29-35, is found in the drashas of the Casam Sofar brought from the Yalkut Reuvani and additional kidushim by one of the Rosh Hayashivot before World War 2. In-order to give us a greater appreciation of the preciousness of the thought for the general reader, I have expanded and elaborated on them .
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The cheit ha’egel continues to travel with us down the corridor of time, no less virulent today than at its inception some thirty three hundred years ago. Today, as in previous generations, we are compelled to insulate ourselves against its toxic effects, but to do that we must first recognize its virulent potential.
In these spiritually barren times, ...<< MORE >>
“DE-FEETING” HAMAN / AMALEK
Purim is the perfect time to invite guests who think that Judaism is stodgy and restrictive. As we stomp all over Haman’s name during the Megilla reading, and then sit down to ...<< MORE >>
I was riding on public transportation a few months ago when a young person, sporting a ponytail and dressed in jeans and a t-shirt peered over my shoulder at the sefer I was reading. It was a copy of Mesilas Yesharim with an English translation. I imagined that he would not give it a second glance, but to my surprise, his eyes lit up, he smiled broadly and ...
GIVE UP ... AND GET MOVING
When G-d (Hashem) wants us to change, first He gives us an opportunity to do so on our own by providing specially directed means and methods and special days throughout the year in which we can examine our deeds, choose to make amends and alter our modes of behavior. Sometimes, when we have not quite managed to make the necessary changes by ourselves, He ...<< MORE >>
The Glorious Proliferation of Trees
From the metaphysical to the metaphorical, from the mechanical to the medicinal, trees are sources of wonder and joy, nourishment and nurture. Metaphysically speaking, the Torah teaches that the Tree of Life was a link to eternal existence. Metaphorically speaking, the Torah compares mankind to the trees in the field (Devarim 20,19), and indeed, we exist in a symbiotic relationship with them – so much so, that we speak of ourselves as being “rooted” in reality with ideas that “bear fruit.”
In their mechanical ...<< MORE >>
“He who recites the chapter of the (Manna) ‘Heavenly bread’, written in Torah section (Parshas Beshalach) (16: 4-36) every day is assured that he will not lack food” Talmud (Gem. Yerushalmi). The commentator (Levush) explains that this chapter teaches that G-d provides each day’s substance – just as He provided the manna each day in the ...<< MORE >>
After the exodus from Mitzrayim and passing through the Yam Suf , the Torah tells us of the miraculous “Heavenly food” that sustained our entire Jewish Nation for forty years in the desert. “Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Behold I shall rain down for you food from heaven; let the people go out and pick each day’s portion on its day, so that I can test them, whether they will follow My teaching or not’.” Thus begins the ...<< MORE >>
At the esoteric level, the four seasons correspond to four of the Divine attributes. First the patriarchal spiritual powers – referred to as ...<< MORE >>
Did you ever ask yourselves how to explain, the three sections of prayer of first words of praise, followed by requests and then finalized with words of thanks, to someone who doesn’t see any connection between the cause and effect of such actions becoming effectual?
Perhaps we can use the following (moshal) analogy to better understand how the sincere expressions of our heart can help to elicit abundant ...<< MORE >>
Unfortunately there are some people that feel that adhering to Jewish laws (halacas), especially the twenty four plus hours on Shabbos, feels overly restrictive and limiting. How can we therefore explain to others how to truly appreciate the inner beauty and expansiveness that is actually achieved through strictly adhering to each halaca and keeping the Shabbos?
First let us clearly acknowledge that the nature of everyone is to feel free and unrestricted, ...<< MORE >>
G-d is (Echad) one, Hashem and that Divine Oneness is never more apparent then in the deep and subtle connections between language, even secular language, and life. In this case let us take the English language, and examine the messages that travel just below the surface of the words themselves, for here too we can find meaning and significance.
“A is for ...<< MORE >>
Since everything that exists in the physical world has a spiritual counterpart, let us try to see if there is any correlation between the three security mechanisms that are made for physical protection for our homes and three other spiritual “security systems” that we “install” that not only protect us but also greatly enhance our lives.
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Let us explore a harmonizing correlation between the joyous holidays of Chanukah and Purim How so?
The main tribute of the leader in the Chanukah story, Mattisyahu ben Yochanan, is that he was the Kohan Gadol. The main accolade of the leader in the Purim story, Mordacai HaTzadik, is that he was the Gadol Ha-Dor. How do these two important roles complement one another in avodas Hashem?
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There are two popular holidays in the Jewish calendar that can be celebrated even as we perform our ordinary weekday activities. Even though they have no special Yom Tov or Shabbos requirements they do much more than just commemorate events in history. Chanukah with its lighting of the menorah with, ideally, olive oil and Purim, in which wine is the drink of choice, have ...<< MORE >>
Chanukah, unlike the Yomim Tovim, seemingly requires very little of us; we are not asked to refrain from most of our daily tasks. We achieve this zeman’s spiritual goal by lighting the menorah on each of the eight nights of Chanukah, at the appointed time, and in so doing we declare the ability of the compassionate Creator to rekindle our (neshamos) souls even as we experience the depths of galus.
What is ...
After Yaakov and his family crossed the Yabok River, Yaakov returned to retrieve pachim ketanim — small flasks. There, the Sar of Esau confronted him; what followed was the definitive battle for supremacy between the forces of good and evil. This battle continued to rage throughout the night until finally, Yaakov emerged victorious at which point he was informed of what his new name would become.
The stage was set for this momentous battle by Yaakov’s interest in recovering some ...<< MORE >>
What would you answer if someone sincerely asked you: “What is the need of all the myriads of Jewish laws and customs, after all aren’t they just traditional rituals of our forefathers without much significance for us now in the 20th century?” Let us use the following paradigm to try to explain how so called “rituals” like (Kiddush) the blessing of wine on the Shabbath and holidays, the washing of the hands and saying the blessing over the (challot) ...<< MORE >>
Upon awakening from sleep, we resume our life’s journey. From the moment that the holy Jewish soul is returned to the body, a fresh opportunity is presented to actualize our lifelong process of growth. How do we achieve this lofty goal?
Chazal explain that sleep is the period of time when our soul (the neshama) ascends to the supernal realms. The vacuum left behind causes a temporary influx of what we call – tum’ah – ...<< MORE >>
“Hashem said to Abram, who was then living in Ur of the Chaldees, a cosmopolitan city of idol worshippers: “Go away from the land, from your relatives and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” So Abram left Ur and settled in Eretz Canaan where he ...<< MORE >>
Over the past several decades the roles of both men and women in contemporary society have shifted dramatically leaving both genders in the midst of an identity crisis that simply did not exist in earlier generations. So many people today unfortunately caught up in this generational “tug of war”, are finding it more and more difficult to understand and appreciate their purpose and position in this world.
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We are all familiar with Hashem’s oath to Avraham Avinu after the Akeidas Yitzchak - or are we? “The angel of Hashem called to Avraham a second time from heaven. And he said, ‘By myself I swear – the word of Hashem – that because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only one, that I shall surely bless you and greatly increase your offering like the stars of the heavens and like the ...<< MORE >>
Did you ever ask yourself what is the deeper significance, on a personal level, of this week’s cryptic Torah portion in Parshas Lech Lecha (14: 1 – 24) that relates the story of the four powerful Kings, whose armies after conquering the armies of the five kings, took Lot, the nephew of Avraham, as one of their captives?
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Have you ever stopped to think about just how much in our lives depends upon (teivos) words? Although in theory, we could manage the basic tasks of survival ...
We live in two realms simultaneously – the physical world that we can see, hear and touch and the spiritual world of the neshama which is connected to Hashem and is accessible through thoughtful contemplation. The Succah is the extraordinary instrumentality that allows us to make a smooth transition from the see – hear - smell touch world of the physical to the place of our neshama-consciousness. In the Succah, we can actually experience the transformation; Whether we have carefully observed and absorbed this process ...<< MORE >>
From Caterpillar to Butterfly
Just as we can observe dramatic changes within the creation, such as the transition of the relatively graceless dawdling caterpillar into a gracefully ...<< MORE >>
From Caterpillar to Butterfly
Just as we can observe dramatic changes within the creation, such as the transition of an unassuming dawdling caterpillar into a gracefully airborne butterfly, so also we at times observe quite dramatic changes in the course of our lives.
The sukkah is a, so to speak, spiritual cocoon that can help us remove any “roofs” of perceptual limitation and replace them with the supernal lattice covering --s’chach --which allows ...<< MORE >>
Modern technology has brought many advantages with it, especially when it comes to making our material life more convenient and efficient. Telecommunications is certainly no exception, and since everything that exists in the physical world has a spiritual counterpart, it is worthwhile trying to understand what we can learn from the now commonplace telephone and its wireless counterpart - the cell phone from a fresh Torah perspective. ...<< MORE >>
We Jews are ancient, expert travelers in time. We are given special times, from our holy Torah and wise Sages, in which we can help mend, renovate and elevate the entire creation. The whole month of Elul along with the first twenty two days of the month of Tishrei are a case in point. ...<< MORE >>
Of the normal fears that people have, one of the most insidious is the fear of failure. ‘What if I don’t succeed? What if I will be perceived by others and my myself as a failure?” How do we ask ourselves these questions. They come up in major life decisions all the time – for example:” Which profession should I enter? Where should I live? ...
"It shall be that when you cross over the Jordan, you shall erect these stones, of which I command you today, on Mount Ebal, and you should coat them with plaster. There you shall build an alter for Hashem, your G-d, an alter of stones; you shall not raise iron upon them. Of whole stones shall you build the alter of Hashem, your G-d, and you shall bring upon it elevation-offerings to Hashem, your G-d. You ...<< MORE >>
Have you ever asked yourself how it is possible to achieve a perfect scorecard in one’s lifetime? After all isn’t there an expression that says we learn through our mistakes? Also, it is written that “a tzaddik fall seven times …” It might be worthwhile for us to revisit the passuk) in Bereishis that set the standard for this seemingly impossible goal. “When Avram was ninety-nine years old, Hashem appeared to him and said, ‘I am the Almghty G-d; walk before Me and be perfect.’” - Genesis (Bereishis) 17:1. ...<< MORE >>
It is written in the Torah that “When you come into the Land… set a king over you; only he shall not have too many horses for himself, so he will not return the people to Egypt in order to increase horses, for Hashem has said to you, you shall no longer return on this road again. And he shall ...
I was once riding on public transportation when a young person, sporting a ponytail and dressed in jeans and a t-shirt peered over my shoulder at the book (sefer) I was reading. It was a copy of Mesilas Yesharim with an English translation. I imagined that he would not give it a second glance, but to my surprise, his eyes lit up, he smiled broadly and asked me, “Is this the new one that’s just out. I ...
The 15th day of the month of Av (Tu b’Ab) is one of those special days on our Jewish calendar that can almost be missed if we don’t pay close attention because, unlike other holy days, it does not require us to leave our weekday activities and immerse ourselves in special mitzvoth. Yet it contains a treasure trove of spiritual wealth that is available for us to mine. We enter the treasury through a portal called “awareness.”... << MORE >>
Is it coincidental that just at the same period of time the recently formed Israeli government is beginning to implement very devastating financial cutbacks, that would especially effect the larger Orthodox Jewish families and religious institutions, that the entire body of twenty eight nations of the European Union have just drafted new very restrictive financial guidelines, that if implemented would be devastating for Israeli banks, businesses and the overall ...<< MORE >>
Tishah B’Av is one of those rare days in the Jewish calendar that seamlessly interfaces with the ordinary weekday. On Tishah B’Av we are not clothed in our regal Shabbos or Yom Tov clothing nor do we partake in any festive meals and therein lays its power and strength. Indeed, this day is quite unique in that it is dedicated to relinquishing some of our most basic ...<< MORE >>
Let us begin by using a 21st Century (moshal) example of travel that “journeys” into the “highways” of our hearts and “byways” of our minds in order to enhance our relationships with others. Possibly one of the (Torah’s) Five Books of Moses intentions for recording for all posterity each of the “moving” and “parking” violations, in the course of our Nations journeys and ...<< MORE >>
Bein Hametzarim - “between the tragedies.” Caught in the vise between - the 17th of Tamuz and the 9th of Av - days in which our Temple (Bais Hamigdash) was destroyed as well as many other calamities befell us – it is difficult to perceive any redeeming aspect of this tragic period. However, we have long understood the spiritual value that lies within adversity. For example our Rabbis (Cazal) inform us of the benefits we derived from our period ...<< MORE >>
Reb Shaya came to our door one evening and asked if he could tell us a story. He knew that we “collect” incidents that reveal the amazing intricacies of Hashem’s hashgachah pratis and we are especially inspired by examples of outstanding emunah and bitachon.
When we heard Reb Shaya’s account of what he lived through and witnessed during the Holocaust, we wanted to ensure that this amazing tale of mesirus nefesh does ...<< MORE >>
GIVE UP ... AND GET MOVING
When G-d (Hashem) wants us to change, first He gives us an opportunity to do so on our own by providing specially directed means and methods and special days throughout the year in which we can examine our deeds, choose to make ...<< MORE >>