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It has become by many the norm to try protect themselves with all kinds of insurance policies ranging from life, medical, dental, home, auto and many others forms of insurance. It seems quite ironic that so much money and apprehension should be spent on trying to secure the corporeal side of life while so many of these same people don’t “insure” their spiritual side of their lives. Many would answer that they don’t invest in spiritual “insurance” because they don’t believe in anything that they don’t know for sure there will be a payback, however in fact they all are believers because any insurance and investment company that offers future payment is making promises based on the “belief” that up the road the company will not go bankrupt and they will fill their end of the contract. Some of the biggest “rock solid” Corporations that went bankrupt during the height of the recession caused many of their employees to lose part or all of their future promised retirement fund. So, yes we are all “believers” but the difference between people is what they choose to believe in!!!

Even though the need for everyone to have free will to choose, the true value of fulfilling spiritual matters (mitzvos) is not revealed to us at the present time, but doesn’t it at least make sense to “hedge” your investments in a way to “cover all bases”. After all if you discover that there really is a future world in the spiritual realms and you didn’t invest in it, you are going to feel left out and very disappointed to say the least.

The Jewish nation had been slaves in Egypt with harsh labor. When it came the time for redemption, Hashem sent Moshe and Aahron to talk and tell Pharaoh to set free the Jewish people, however with a hardened heart Pharaoh refused even under the threat that the Egyptians would be smitten with (macot) plagues. The Creator initiated Moshe and strengthened his belief by showing him that his staff could miraculously turn into a snake and then turn back into a staff. What is the significance of this wonder? Perhaps we can say that Hashem wanted to teach all of us that even the snake, which symbolizes the (yetzer hora) negative inclination is also totally under His control, therefore that Pharaoh also who represents evil in man also is totally under My dominion. This means that no person or event in life is independent and outside the control of the Creator.

Another possible lesson to be derived by the staff turning into a snake and then back to a staff is to teach us that even if at some point in life a person falls under the spell of the snake – ie- desires – of this world, with the help of Hashem a sincere person will be helped to do a full teshuva – ie. turn back into a staff – and now even be given even greater powers of holiness than ever before as was the case of Moshe’s staff that was used in performing some of the ten macot.

Then an additional substantiation that Hashem controls everything in life was shown to Moshe before the plagues began. Moshe’s hand turned instantly leprous (which is a sign of the withdrawal of the life force) and then in an instant the same hand was miraculously healed. What could be the meaning and significance of this bizarre event? Hashem also wants to assure Moshe and us that not only does He control everything in this world including the evil inclination (yetzer hora) but He also is the controller over all phases of life including our health.

Let us try to see parallels with the ten macot and relatable diseases that plague society today.

The first plague was that all the water in Egypt was turned to blood. What is the significance of this plague specifically taking place in this way? Water is a basic source of life. Science tells us that not only is eighty percent of the world filled with water but the human body also consists of about eighty percent of water and other fluids like blood. Let us explore this further by understanding the nature of man. A natural occurrence that happens to someone when they get upset is there blood pressure goes up. That means, so to speak, the aspect called blood which parallels – gavurot – strict judgment asserts itself over the attribute of – chesed – altruistic kindness which correlates to water. Medically it is well known the dangers of elevated blood pressure and any other blood related diseases.


The second plague to befall the Egyptians was that of  the crocking frogs. What application in our lives can we find in relationship to this plague? This perhaps can be seen as the next stage of persistent grumbling – ie. croaking – when the anger manifests itself as complaining.

The third plague was that of lice. This happens what when a person’s anger reaches the point where they feel that others are constantly bothering them. “under my skin”. This means they allow other people to irritate them rather than seeing them as being sent from H. to test their medios of patience, tolerance and respect.

The forth plague was that of the wild beasts. Once anger becomes excessive it can unfortunately lead to one lowering their dignity down to the level of, as the expression goes, acting like a wild animal.

The eight plague was that of the locusts which ate anything that was still left out in the fields. By the time a person reaches this degree of anger that will consume – ie. destroy – everything around them.

The ninth plague of darkness could be hinting to the well known expression that anger “blinds” a person from seeing the truth.

The tenth plague of the death of the firstborn. Being angry is likened to serving advoda zora which is a kind of “death” to the soul – ie. the firstborn

These ten levels can be  controlled through following the guidance of our Torah. We say before going to sleep the following words of the Torah: “If you diligently head the voice of Hashem, your G-d, and do what is proper in His eyes, and you listen closely to his commandments and observe His decrees – the entire malady that I inflicted upon Mitzraim, I will not inflict upon you, for I am Hashem your healer. We see from here that the ideal “healer” is one who “heals” through preventive “measures” . Therefore the best advice is to endeavor not to get angry in the first place which will lead to meriting the ability to go out from Mitzraim – the consciousness of  contraction and into the higher consciousness of expanded awareness seeing everything emanating from the Divine with purposeful design.



As Told to Y.B. and S.E. Falk by Rabbi Waxman Monsey N.Y.


B.S.D                                                                                                          ‏י”ב–אייר–תשס”ז


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 not suffer the fate of many other stirring stories of incredible heroism in the service of Hashem that no doubt took place in the raging inferno of Europe in World War II but are lost to us.


We hope that this story of how one Jew’s extraordinary courage and sacrifice reveal the wondrous workings of the Creator’s awesome master plan will serve to illuminate the path for succeeding generations.


At the tender age of fifteen, Reb Shaya was deported to Auschwitz and from there to a work camp in Eastern Germany. He considered himself relatively fortunate because, unlike many others, he found himself in a camp where the guards did not beat the prisoners senseless or awaken them cruelly in the middle of the night. Nevertheless, they were fed little and suffered constant hunger, while enduring long hours of back-breaking labor in bitter cold with a minimum of clothing.


Among the many unfortunate souls in that camp, there was a very righteous Jew by the name of Chaim. He was an older man, yet he volunteered to work with a group of five strong, young men who were assigned to tote heavy metal rails to build a railroad loading station. Young Shaya also noticed that Chaim never ate his soup, which was the only hot dish given to the prisoners during the freezing evenings.


Shaya’s curiosity prompted him to ask Chaim for an explanation. Chaim, who had been the Rav of a (shtetl) small community before the war, explained that to save a life, a Jew is permitted to work on Shabbos, and any of the assigned jobs were permitted because their lives were in danger if they refused to do them. However, carrying the heavy rails on Shabbos would only infringe a prohibition of the Rabbanim rather than the stricter prohibition of the Torah. Performing other tasks like cutting or digging on Shabbos, which were less back-breaking, but they would involve the severer prohibition of de’Oraisa from the Torah.


As for the soup, Rav Chaim explained, he gave his daily portion of soup to bribe the camp “barber” to shave him with a hand-operated shaver rather than a straight-edged razor. Indeed Rav Chaim tried to avoid being shaved whenever possible. To avoid calling attention to his unshaven face during the daily roll call, he tried to stand in the middle of the four hundred plus prisoners.


On one occasion this strategy failed and the commandant noticed him for the first time. He called Rav Chaim forward and asked him where he worked.  The commandant, seeing that he was an older man, questioned the overseer why this man was assigned to the hardest work detail. The overseer informed the commandant that Rav Chaim not only volunteered but that he never took a day off, and was also one of the very best workers. The commandant insisted that he be transferred to a less demanding assignment.

Rav Chaim admitted to Reb Shaya that he took no time off because he didn’t want the other five men on his team to bear the extra burden his time off would have entailed.

Moreover, Rav Chaim whispered a nightly Torah lesson in the bunk that he and Shaya shared with six other men.  Those softly spoken words of Torah that Rav Chaim had so lovingly committed to memory in a different time and place provided solace and inspiration through the long dark nights in the camp.


Rav Chaim also carefully and clandestinely and at great risk kept track of the Jewish calendar by marking the days on pieces of paper that came in the bags of cement and were smuggled into the bunkhouse. He informed all the Jewish inmates of the arrival of Rosh Chodesh and the Yomim Tovim. The behavior of this tzaddik not only heartened and strengthened Reb Shaya, but remained with him as a lifelong example.


They were separated when most of the prisoners, Rav Chaim included, were taken on a forced march of hundreds of miles to flee the oncoming Russians before liberation. Reb Shaya, too ill to move, remained behind and miraculously survived. Now, more than sixty years later he told us the epilogue to this story.


Reb Shaya settled in Brooklyn after the war. One Shabbos more than thirty years later, a visiting guest sat down next to him in shul. After davening, he introduced himself to the visitor, who did not appear to be very religiously observant, and asked his name and from where he came. The man said that he had lived most of his life in Eretz Israel but was born in a shtetl in Europe. Reb Shaya gasped as he recalled that this was the town where Rav Chaim had been the Rav. Reb Shaya began to recount Rav Chaim’s unforgettable acts of tzidkus and mesirus nefesh in the camp during the war.

The visitor listened intently to each word and began to cry. When he regained his composure, he revealed that Rav Chaim was his father and that this was the first news he’d had of him since they were separated during the war. The two men embraced warmly and emotionally.

As a young man with no surviving relatives after the war, Rav Chaim’s son had been sent to an irreligious kibbutz in Eretz Yisrael by an organization that rescued orphaned survivors. A number of years later he married a girl from the kibbutz and they had one son.  Twenty plus years later, that son served as a tank commander during the Six Day War. In the first few days of the war, under intense shelling, the young commander lost a number of tanks and men under his command. During a quiet moment in the night, exhaustion overcame him and he slept. While he slept, he dreamed that he saw a pious-looking man who said that he was his grandfather and assured his grandson that he would survive the war if he began keeping Shabbos and the other mitzvos.

Awakened by loud shelling and still under the spell of his dream, he decided to commit himself to learn what it meant to be an observant Jew. By the end of the next day’s intense battle this young man’s tank was the only one of his entire command that was not destroyed.

True to his promise, after the war the young commander left the irreligious kibbutz where he had been raised and went to Yerushalayim to begin learning how to keep the Torah.

When he started living a life of Torah and observing the commandments, he asked his father and mother if they would also begin by keeeping the laws of Shabbos and kashrus. His parents were in a quandary. His mother had learned absolutely nothing about Judaism in her atheistic kibbutz and his father has stopped observing anything long before. They consulted some rabbis in Israel and listened to what they had to say. They happened to have a trip scheduled to the States at that time, and they decided to seek the guidance of one of the renowned (Admor) Grand Rabbi while in America. Their appointment with the Rebbe was scheduled for the next day of this “chance” meeting with Reb. Shaya.

Rav Chaim’s son, then with tears in his eyes, added that now he knew why he had to come to New York and why he had come to pray in this shul and had sat down next to Reb Shaya. This was clearly the Hand of G-d, pointing him along the way to a renewed commitment to his Jewish heritage.

After this astonishing experiencing, Rav Chaim’s son and daughter-in-law left the secular kibbutz and move to a religious community, where they were able to lead a Torah-observant life along with their son. Perhaps Rav Chaim’s extraordinary devotion to the sanctity of Shabbos and keeping the mitzvoth was the spark that remained hidden for many years and later ignited the souls of his grandson and then his son.

How wondrous are the ways of Hashem!




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 the theological “technology” that enables  a relatively small flame that burns only  for a brief period of time to light up the “spiritual darkness” that envelops the world?

It is well documented that light and sound can have a profound effect upon the human psyche, affecting health and mood.  Alternative medical practitioners, utilizing these principles, have developed light-wave and sound-wave therapies which are growing in popularity. It is claimed that these therapies allow the body and psyche to “re-balance and realign” themselves.

To us, as Jews this should come as no surprise as we have been blessed  with the holy Torah that has guided us with the inner secret wisdom of spiritual rectification at its source– at the level of soul. Thus we begin our year on Rosh Hashanah with a unique (mitzvah) commandment in that through listening to the sounds of the shofar we become spiritually retuned in harmony with the Creator’s  “blueprint”, in plan and purpose, for our neshamas.  This supernal “sound wave therapy” helps to guide us in our spiritual journey throughout the New Year.

Due to the harshness of the long galus, Chazal have added to our “prescriptions” of spiritual antidotes, a subtle but highly effective “lazer light wave therapy.” The precisely directed (neiros) lights of Chanukah possess the inner illuminating power to dispel even the most obscurant darkness. 


Now let us examine more closely the flames of  Chanukah and their profound symbolism.  Chanukah represents a bonding of the spiritual with the physical, as seen through the menorah holding the oil and the wick as the flame hovers above. What is the significance of the flame always ascending upward above the wick, the oil and the menorah? This is a physical expression of a spiritual truth that reveals the relationship between the neshama and the (guf) body.  Even as the flame hovers over the wick and the oil unlocking their energy bringing  forth a radiant light into this world, so too the neshamah infuses the body with lofty goals that reveal spiritual treasures previously hidden within the creation. Without the fuel, the wick and the menorah – the flame would not exist but without the flame – the fuel, wick and menorah would remain inert elements.

To what does this compare?  When Moshe Rabbanu ascended to Heaven to receive the Torah, the angels protested saying that the Torah should remain  in Heaven.   Moshe responded that the mitzvoth of the Torah could only be fulfilled in this world by human beings that were given (bechira) freedom of choice.         This means that down here on earth there are certain “spiritually conducive atmospheric conditions” that don’t exist in the heavens.


Through this mitzvah of kindling the light of  Chanukah beginning from 25th of Kislev, (which is alluded to by the 25th word of the Torah being – ohr – light) we our privileged to tap into the “light from Above” – the (Ohr ha-Ganuz) hidden light. This supernal beneficence at this auspicious time brings with it insight, clarity and purification.

Oh yes, before we conclude, let us also not forget to enjoy and appreciate the latkes or other fried foods that will be served on Chanukah. This custom celebrates the role of the flask of pure oil found in the restored Bais Hamikdash. Shemen zayis symbolizes wisdom. Perhaps by eating these foods fried in shemen zayis on Chanukah we are simultaneously proclaiming, as well as benefiting from the plentiful flow of Divine wisdom that is available at this auspicious time.

(Shemen zayis is the desirable component of one of the praised seven fruits of Eretz Israel (shivas ha-minim). It is obtained by squeezing the olives with intense pressure. A well know (moshal) example compares the potential within each Jew to the untapped value with the olive, in that our best achievements are often produced when we are under pressure to meet a challenge.)                      May our eight day dosage of ner Chanukah’s “supernal illumination” revitalize us, helping to dispel the “darkness” of (galus) the exile and ushering in  the long awaited final (Geulah) redemption, shining in radiant splendor, soon in our days.




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 small flasks. What could the Torah be hinting to when it informs us that the pachim were small? What relevance does their size have to the lessons in this episode?

Although many people assume that “bigger is better”, sometimes we find that very low-key events or small items actually are the “key” to accessing new horizons of achievement and success.

A key is a relatively small and inexpensive item, but it serves to open important doors. Without one’s keys a person could find oneself without entry into ones own home, car or office.

Like keys that open physical doors, the words of holy Torah open mental and spiritual portals, therefore let us try to “key-in” on the meaning of the name uttered by the Sar of Esau when he announced: “No longer will it be said that your name is Ya’akov, but YiSRAL, for you have striven with the Divine and with man and have overcome.” (Vayishlach 32:29).

The Creator entrusted the “key” to insights and wisdom embodied in our holy Torah to Avraham Avinu. This tradition (“key”) was handed down to his son Yitzchok, who later gave it to his son Yaakov. Apparently at that time since the Bnei Yaakov were beginning their transition from a single family into a nation of millions, it was deemed the appropriate time for the Creator in His infinite wisdom to, so to speak, design within the developing Bnei Israel a tamperproof supernal combination lock for the Torah that only the Jewish people could access.

What is this mystical combination code that binds us with our unbroken tradition all the way back to the Avos? We know that a person’s name reveals his or her spiritual essence, purpose and potential. Therefore it behooves us to unlock one of the deeper meanings within the name given by the Creator to the entire Jewish nation as well as this same name given for our holy land. The Ari Z’l  reveals in a few short words one of the mystical secrets of our national name by informing us that the five (osios) letters of the name Y’SRAL are the acronym – roshei teivos – of the names of our three Avos and four Imahos: The Yud of  Yitzchak and Yaakov is coded within the Yud of Y’SRAL; the S of Sarah within the Shin; the R of Rivka and Rachael within the Raish, the A of Avraham within the Alef and the L of Leah within the Lamed. Imbedded with our Nation’s name and the name of our land is the spiritual genetic combination of all our Avos and Imahos! The name Y’sral, the “key” – combination code – to our existence is an example of a single word in the Torah that contains worlds of meaning and value.

May we, the Bnei Y’sral, soon merit the final geula allowing all of us to once again live peacefully in our promised land – Eretz Israel.



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 concealed within these days of joy and celebration, like olive oil that is extracted from olives and wine that exudes from grapes, heretofore untapped hidden powers that can aid us to help to rectify and elevate the entire creation.

How is this achieved and why is it necessary? When Adam and Chava ate the forbidden fruit, violating the specific commandment of the Creator, the yetzer hara became internalized causing an admixture within all mankind of tov and rah. Since four of their five senses – of touch (feeling), sight, hearing and taste – acted as accomplices to the primordial sin, we need to now use those very same senses, in the performance of mitzvos and acts and chesed, to rectify this cosmic error which continues to reverberate throughout the generations.

Partially because of a lack of enough sensitivity and an increase in senseless enmity (sinas kinom), that was a major cause of the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, our Sages wisely gave us specific additional mitzvos that focus on strengthening our sense of awareness thereby reawakening our sensitivity in our relationship others. How can this best be achieved?

We can learn how to rekindle the proper feelings between each other, through the teachings of the holiday of Chanukah which call for bending over and lowering ourselves, as the naros are ideally below ten tefakim, so as to be able for the flame of the helper candle, known as the shomus, to touch the Chanukah neros until that are lit up. So too in our relationship with people sometimes it is necessary to bend over in order to share our soul’s “flame” help kindle – ie. inspire – our brethren. The “message” hidden within the Chanukah lights is so enlightening that it even has the ability to remove the surrounding darkness for those who are still out in the shuk  – ie. – the marketplace of spiritual obscurity, thereby inspiring them to be included in the mitzvah when they joyously proclaim: (Sheasa nesim la-avosanu ba-yamim ha-haim bizman ha-zeh.  that Hashem made miracles for our forefathers in this time.

After Chanukah rekindles our feelings for others and gives us clearer insight on how to be best be of help to them, Purim in its own unique way teaches us not only how to be good listeners, while hearing the reading of the Megilla, but to also learn how to hear – ie. understand – the true needs of others so as to best share our blessings with them. How is this achieved? We accomplish this through the other three mitzvos of the day which are sending gifts – of food that need no preparation – to friends, giving charity generously and opening the “doors” of our homes and hearts for a tasty  meal and flavorable  experience.

    Sending  readymade foods to friends perhaps on a deeper level sends a message to all our acquaintances that just as this food needs no preparation, we are always ready and  prepared to accept you just as you are.

                May we, through these mitzvos, once again regain the proper level of love and respect between all of us, thereby meriting the final Bais HaMigdash soon in our days.








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?

The Rabbis (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 – spiritual impurity. Upon awakening this tum’ah recedes to our hands with our sages giving us the knowledge of how to remove it by re-sanctifying our hands.

But even before we do that, t he first thing we do in the morning is say “modeh ani”, proclaiming our humble gratitude to our Creator for showing His confidence in us by restoring our soul to our body, giving us another day of life in which to fulfill Torah and mitzvoth. We surely appreciate that the renewal of our life each day is a gift — a fresh opportunity to actualize our lifelong process of spiritual growth.  How do we achieve this lofty goal in a practical way? We will look a bit more deeply into the spiritual connection between our voices (in which we start the day with “mode ani…” and our hands(that we wash in a uniaque fashion).

The Malbim explains that the hands represent the earthly power and might that lie within the domain of Yaakov Avinu’s brother Eisav; but the voice, which emanates from the realm of the soul lies within the domain of Yaakov.

When Yaakov approached Yitzchok for his brachos, Yitzchok touched him and felt the “hands of Eisav” but heard the “voice of Yaakov”, and thus made the immortal declaration:  “…hakol  kol Yaakov —- ve hayadayim yedai  Eisav.” (Toldos 27:  22)

Looking more deeply into these words, we come to learn that, according to the Malbim, Hashem desired that Yaakov be given both spiritual and material gifts and blessings, however, material blessings would come to Yaakov not by means of natural cause and effect, but only through hashgacha, through his voice – Torah and supplication (tefillah). If however, G-d forbid, Torah learning and tefillah were to be diminished then the flow of material blessings would also decrease.

Interestingly, the nusach of netillas yadayim, the first blessing of the day, provides a profound insight:  “Blessed ( or: The Source of all) are You, Hashem, our G-d King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us on the washing –“netillas yadayim” – of the hands. Notably, the Sages did not choose for this blessing the word “rechitza” meaning “washing” but “netilla” meaning “taking”, as  in the bracha of  the lulov  where we say “al netillas lulav,” on the taking of the lulov, Perhaps a deeper reason for the selection of this – nusach  is  that just as the mitzvah of lulov is accomplished through the  act of “taking hold” of  the lulov, so also do we achieve spiritual success with the use of our hands – our ma’aseh yadayim –  by  “taking hold of “ , i.e., controlling and directing  our actions toward the fulfillment of the will of  Hashem.  May we soon merit to raise our voices and hands together in a unison greeting the Moshiach and the final redemption soon in our days.


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.

The Torah provides for us in this weeks Parsha Chayei Sarah an invaluable insight within the story of the (shiduk) engagement  between Yitzchak Avinu and his wife to be, Rivka.  It came to pass that our forefather Avraham Aveinu sent his servant  Eliezer to Avraham’s relatives seeking a wife for Yitzchak.   Hashem  guided  Eliezer and  gave him the opportunity to observe Rivka’s extraordinary (midos) character and good deeds (ma’asim tovim) through her altruistic act of chesed. It was her very selfless act of kindness that allowed  Eliezer to understand that he had found that unique neshama who would be the appropriate bride for Yitzchak. In anticipation of this eventuality, Avraham had sent with him special gifts for the kallah and her family to consummate this stage of the(shiduk) marriage proposal.

The gifts given over to Rivka were a golden ring called a nezem, and two arm bracelets (Chayei  Sarah, 24:22.), therefore there is to endeavor to deepen our understanding of the profound symbolism that lies within these gifts.    Since our Torah is an eternal document for all times and all places, these pieces of jewelry are as much a gift for the Jewish woman of today, as they were for Rivka (Imainu) our matriarch in that they are capable of offering insights that can help to rejuvenate and revitalize each women’s connection with her proper role even in the midst of  our spiritually troubled and discordant times.

The words and actions of  righteous Jewish woman emanate from the neshama, the soul which is rooted in a very pristine place deep within.   Is it then any wonder that the gift for Rivka was a – nezem – a ring which was used in the place which is the gateway for the entry of the soul – the place where the Creator breathed the soul of  life into Adam  (Bereishes 2:7).

Our Holy Torah, through this parsha, takes this opportunity to realign material and spiritual values thereby closing the gap between them, teaching each women the secret of seamlessly blending within herself a life of holiness that incorporates softness and strength, kindness and discipline, generosity and restraint. It is authority that is most effectively expressed in the absence of overt power – by innuendo rather than by confrontation.  For all its subtlety don’t think for a moment that it lacks purpose, direction or strength.  It is the antibiotic camouflaged in the spoonful of ice cream.  It is pure empathetic compassion, objectified, tempered by practicality, seasoned by good judgment and used for the purpose of  nurturing and healing those  souls given over to her care.

This ring has within it a further message that connects the past with the present in that it had the weight of a (beka) a half –shekel– and that too is significant.   Each Jew was required to give a half shekel gift,  a one time gift for the building of the  Mishkan as well as a yearly donation of this amount to be used for the communal sacrifices. (Ki Sisa: 30:13; Shekalim, 1:1; Megillah 29b).

The gift of the half shekel was one that every Jew was required to contribute toward the building of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle.  It  was dedicated to the adonim — the silver sockets that held the boards which formed the walls of the Mishkan.   These sockets are the foundation of the walls of Mishkan, where we made our home with Hashem, even as the woman  is the foundation of the home she establishes with her husband.

Eliezer also gave Rivka two arm bracelets weighing ten golden shekels.  The two arm bracelets represent the two tablets of the law; and their weight of ten shekels symbolizes the Ten Commandments. (Chaya Sara, 24:22, Rashi).  The ring and the golden bracelets are both, being circular, suggestive of  the fact each woman is able to complete the connection of the Torah with this world through becoming a conduit using her unique energy that is provided by her holy soul and binding it with the performance of good deeds and acts of  kindness. Through these works of (chesed) kindness every woman is able to greatly rectify this world as a emissary of Hashem through her home and hearth thereby allowing a holy dwelling place for the (Shekina) Divine presence.





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 sand on the seashore and your offspring shall inherit the gate of its enemy. And all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your offspring, because you have listened to My voice.’” (Vayeria – 22:15-17), What is the nature of this promise? After all, if we are likened to the lofty, exalted multitude of stars, what is being added by the words that compare us to the minuscule sand on the seashore?

To add to this quandary, the Midrash Or HaAfelah informs us that this pasuk teaches us the inevitable consequence of our momentous choices:  When the Jewish nation complies with the Creator’s will, we will resemble the stars of the heavens, whom no nation can dominate, however when the Nation is defiant, then it will resemble the sand of the seashore that is trampled by every oppressive foot. The Medrash suggests that this promise to Avraham is not exclusively a blessing, for it also contains an admonition. Since we are told that this promise is Avraham’s reward for the Akeidah: – “. . .  because you have listened to My voice”, how can we properly understand this Midrash?

Perhaps we can find a solution to the implication of this Midrash, in the pasukim, by considering two well known but seemingly paradoxical paths in the service of Hashem that are actually complementary to each other.  One path is to serve Hashem, like the stars of the heavens, by seeing the gadlus haBorei — the majesty of the Infinite Creator, while the other path is achieved through seeing oneself, like the sand of the sea, through

the lens of shiflus atzmo – our relative minuteness. Through learning Torah we can come to see the gadlus haBorei in every facet within the creation, whereas our tefillos are designed to aid us in reaching a place of equanimity through humbly recognizing our total dependence on the benevolence of the Creator. Just as the waves of the sea wash over the sand constantly purifying it, so do the “waves” of our nusach in tefillah flow through us constantly purifying and realigning our “attitudinal coastlines” according to the will of Hashem.

Furthermore, perhaps we can surmise that even though being compared to the sand of the seashore contains an admonition, there is also imbedded within it a blessing for just like sand when trampled upon maintains its unique resilience and unity, so how much more so is the grandeur of our holy Jewish nation has demonstrated time and time again its resiliency in weathering throughout our shifting historical galus the political, theological and social “storms” that that, have tried to erode away our idealism and solidarity”. Fortunately the blessing given to Avraham Avinu and his descendants to be like the sand of the sea assures us that even though some of the nation has drifted away from the service of our benevolent Creator, soon refreshing “tides of holiness”, captained by Malcus David, will float everyone back to his or her place within the nation so as to be in position to usher in the final geula and rebuilding of our holy Temple. We see expressed in the Min Hameitzar of Hallel as it is said: – “You pushed me hard that I might fall but Hashem assisted me” and then the Hallel continues with the inspiring expression: “The stone despised by the builders has become the cornerstone.”

Another wondrous moshal that can be culled from our being compared to the sand of the seashore; just as grain of sand that becomes imbedded within a oyster can be miraculously become the catalyst for the formation of a precious pearl, how much more so can we, the Jewish nation, that has been swallowed up within the troughs of galus, use this challenging opportunity to reveal the “pearls” of our potential.

May we also soon merit the words at the conclusion of the blessing promised to Avraham Avinu: “And all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your offspring, because you have listened to My voice.”


Avraham and Noach are both called Tzadikim yet in some aspect Avraham’s perfection was considered on a much higher level. How can we understand in practical terms for us in this generation that there are different levels of righteousness that can be attained?Let us use an analogy that will shed light on this holy matter. Picture someone that is suffering from a headache, runny nose and cough all at the same time. One level of doctor will give him aspirin for the headache, an antihistamine for the runny nose and  cough syrup for the congestion. Within a short period of time the sick person will feel relief from all three discomforts, however tomorrow all these symptoms will probable reoccur. A more educated doctor will besides possibly these immediate remedies for temporary relief will also give him an antibiotic to take for a number of days in order to uproot the internal infection that is causing this uncomfortable symptoms. A even more educated doctor besides prescribing all of the above will also offer suggestions to help avoid the problem in the future such as increased regular intake of vitamin C and other nutritional supplements, improving the diet, working on personal stress management. There were some other tzadkim besides Avraham and Noach who were on the first level of advising other on how to relief their immediate “uncomfortable symptoms” by taking spiritual aspirin etc.. Then there was Noach who also advised others on how to temporarily uproot the “illness” by taking spiritual antibiotics. And then there was Avraham Avinu who would also give advice to the spiritually ill on how to permanently uproot any potential spiritual “illness” from overwhelming them. This then helps us understand and appreciate the great difference between Avraham’s level of perfection and Noach’s.



Have you ever stopped to think about just how much in our lives depends upon tevos?  Language is a repository for human traditions and culture. Each nation uses words in order to communicate their collective sociological and historical perspectives and experiences.  These words, however, are descriptive, but not creative.

Lashon Hakodesh is a unique language in that G-d used it to create, as well as constantly recreate, the entire universe. Thus the DNA, the blueprint of all reality, exists within the letters and words of the Torah.

When (Hashem) G-d brought the flood waters to inundate the world, He directed Noach to build a teiva.  In Lashon Hakodesh, “ark” and “word” are cognates, that is, they are both composed of the same letters.  This is not mere coincidence.  There is a profound spiritual message in that equivalence.

This “Ark” was constructed of specific dimensions which were shin amos long; nun amos wide and lamed amos high. Interestingly, the three letters, nun, shin and lamed, which are embedded within these dimensions, form the rashei teivos for the three major motivators of human behavior – the ruchnious influence emanates from the neshama, the intellectual powers develop from the seichel, and emotional expression springs forth from the lev.

Just as Noach’s teiva contained that which could reestablish the entire eco-system of this world on the physical level, our tevos through Torah and Tefillos contain within them the power to rectify this world at all levels (including the neshoma). Therefore we can see a fascinating relationship between the dimensions of the teiva  and ourselves. How so?


Just as Noach’s teiva travelled in the direction of its length which was “S”hin amos, so to the words that we speak “travel” in the attitudinal “direction” guided by our “S”eichel. That is to say it is our “S”eichel that assists us to “navigate” through life.

Also just as the width of the ark, which was “N”un amos, is the dimension that provides the ships balance and stability, how much more so is our “N”eshama, the most essential “dimension” of our essence, in that it provides not only the proper “balance and stability between spirit and matter but also can bring one to a state of equanimity (histakavut) and devakus.

Last but not least, just as Noach’s ark, which was “L”amed amos high, bobbed up and down as it drifted on the high seas, so too the emotions that spring forth from the “L”ev highlight the vibrancy of one’s personality.


May our tevos, of Torah and Tefillah, “steer” us safely throughout our “voyage” in life, thereby meriting to reach our “port of destination” – the final geula – soon in our days.