Daily Email Archives

Bulletin Archives

Summer Archives

Public Announcements

Shatnez Publications

Past Events

Hakhel Recordings



Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin



Special Note One:  A question to think about while walking home:


Where the first place in the Torah that money is mentioned?  Why do you think that this is the case?


We look forward to your thoughts.


Special Note Two:  Chazal teach that “Tefillos Avos Tiknum…”--our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov instituted our three daily prayers.  The source for Avraham establishing Shacharis is in last week’s Parsha, “VaYashkeim Avraham Baboker--and Avraham arose early in the morning…” (Bereishis 19:27).  The source for Yitzchak Avinu establishing Mincha is in this week’s Parsha, “VaYatzay Yitzchak Lasuach--Yitzchak went out to supplicate in the field towards evening” (Bereishis 24:63).  (Yaakov’s establishment of Maariv is at the beginning of Parshas Vayeitzei.)


As we have noted many times before, the Parshios of the week are always instructive--always provide a message to us--as to how we should be conducting ourselves at that time.  It is well known, for instance, that the Chazon Ish recommended naming a newborn child with the name of a great Torah personage from the week’s Parsha in which he/she is born.  So, that leaves us with a conclusion that we should be spending time during these weeks in improving our daily Tefillah.  Hashem, of course, has also given us some additional stimuli to improve our Tefillah during particular brochos of Shemone Esrei:  The ridiculous proposition regarding the division of Yerushalayim must spur us to have Kavannah in V’liYerushalayim Ircha, the rise of neo-Nazism (especially in Eretz Yisroel) appears to be an obvious message to supplicate more when reciting V’Lamalshinim.  Similarly, on a personal level, if someone close to you is not feeling well, the Hashgacha Pratis for you may be to increase your feelings in Rifaeinu.


Let us take the time to make a concerted effort for those things that we know that only prayer will help, and really improve our Tefillos  for them.


Special Note Three:  In this week’s Parsha, we also learn that Yitzchak Avinu was consoled after the passing of his mother, Sara (Bereishis 24:16).  In fact, the Rambam codifies the mitzvah of performing Chesed, which is based upon “V’Ahavta Lereacha Komocha,” in Hilchos Aveil, the Laws of Mourning (14:1).  When one properly comforts a mourner, he is doing a Chesed to both the living, and to the departed (ibid., 14:7).  As great as providing comfort may be, finding the right words to say may be even more important, yet difficult.  The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 376:2) importantly tells us what one should not say. “Do not say, however, ‘What can one do?  One cannot change what happened,’ for that is not consolation but blasphemy.”  The Aruch HaShulchan (ibid., at paragraph 5 ) explains that making such a statement implies that you must resign yourself to what happened against your will, rather than comforting the mourner with words of faith, with words that Hashem loves us all and that only He, in His infinite wisdom knows what is best.  HaRav Shamshon Refoel Hirsch, Z’tl, echoes this thought and adds that it “is the murmuring of the helpless against his helplessness, not the recognition of the blessed wisdom of G-d” (Horeb page 433, cited in Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, page 93).

HaRav Feivel Cohen, Shlita, in the recently published Badei HaShulchan on Hilchos Aveilus (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 376:2, seif 27) extends this thought and writes that it is prohibited to make any kind of statement such as “What can one do?” to anyone who is in any kind of difficult situation, in any Tzara, whatsoever.  Obviously, one can daven, learn Torah, do mitzvos and especially Chesed, as a zechus for oneself or others--but one should never, Chas V’Shalom, question Hashem’s Supreme Judgment.

One additional note.  The Pasuk in Iyov states: “Hashem Nosan, Hashem Lokach, Yehi Shem Hashem Mevorach--Hashem gave, Hashem took away, may Hashem’s Name be blessed.”  HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, explains that the blessing referred to in this Pasuk is not necessarily for the taking away, but for the giving.  We bless Hashem for every moment that we had the “Nossan”--the gift--of the person, now departed to a higher world, with us.  Every moment of our lives is a gift, and every moment that we are able to share in someone else’s precious life is a similar gift.  We have much for which to be thankful.



Special Note One:  We present below what we believe was the most thoughtful response regarding the lessons to be learned from the eyesore of an unfinished building:


“I always enjoy reading your daily email, it's a true inspiration.  Thanks for making me think.  Below are my thoughts on the question you posed today:  When the workers started to build they must have been full of enthusiasm.  But as time moved on, they lost their enthusiasm, because this is the nature of a person.  We get excited to start something new, but as soon as we get used to it, we slack off in our work.  Aaron Hakohen was just the opposite, as we learn from the Torah in Parshas Beha'aloscha.  His enthusiasm for lighting the Menorah stayed the same throughout the year, like it was on the first day.


“Another idea we can take by spotting an unfinished building is a logical approach.  The people who wanted the building up probably didn't put enough thought into the outcome of the project.  They didn't consider how much money it would involve, etc.  When we want to start a project we have to make our Hishtadlus and try to figure what will be in the long-term.  We have to think before acting.  This is why we have a brain that makes us superior to animals, who act instinctively.


“A third thought, that should occur to a person that sees an unfinished building is the following:  When we start doing a Mitzvah we have to finish it properly.  The person who finishes a Mitzvah is considered as doing it.  Moshe Rabbeinu started separating the Arei Miklot already in the desert.  But it was Yehoshua who later separated the additional three towns as Arei Miklot, thereby completing the Mitzvah of Arei Miklot.  The Torah considers Yehoshua to be the one who did this Mitzvah.  How you start is important, but it's how you finish that counts!”


We add only that each one of us can view our lives as a building that we ourselves must finish.  Rather than creating an eyesore, we should try to construct an edifice that is more beautiful than even what was originally planned.


Special Note Two:  This past Sunday (16 Cheshvan) was the Yahrtzeit of HaRav Shach, Z’tl.  HaRav Shach not only set a standard for all in his dedication to Torah study, but raised the bar as well in basic care and concern for our fellow man.  The following story excerpted from Rav Shach on Chumash (Artscroll, page 38) beautifully highlights conduct that we, too, can emulate.


“Vayashkeym Avraham--Avraham arose early in the morning” and saddled his donkey (Bereishis 22:3).


He hastened to fulfill the commandment as soon as it was possible (Rashi).


One time, an acquaintance of Rav Shach from Petach Tikva came to consult with him regarding a certain Shidduch that had been suggested for his son.  The Rosh Yeshiva told him that he would find out some information, and would clarify a few points about the person involved, before giving an answer.


The man returned to Petach Tikva, and Rav Shach set himself to the task.  That evening, he got the information he was seeking and as soon as the buses started running in the morning, he traveled to Petach Tikvah--a trip that involved taking two buses.  Since it was still early in the morning when he arrived, and the Rosh Yeshiva did not want to disturb his acquaintance, he wrote down his answer, put it in the man’s mailbox, and headed back to B’nei Brak.  By 7 o’clock he was in the Yeshiva for morning prayers!


Hakhel Note:  It is interesting that HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, explains the Viduy confession of “Ritzas Roglayim L’Hora--running towards evil”—not as actually running to sin, but simply as “zerizus shelo b’mekoma--misplaced or misdirected alacrity.”  We must understand that there is only a certain measure of zerizus that a person can extend, as he is bound by his physical limitations, and we must be careful to use it in the manner that Avraham Avinu did, as followed by HaRav Shach--in fulfilling our real purpose in life.  The next time you feel yourself acting "B'Zerizus"--ask yourself why--and make sure before continuing that you are honestly satisfied with the answer!




Special Note One:  It is interesting to note that the Gematria of Chesed is 8+60+4--72.  There is a dispute as to whether the Sanhedrin HaGadol-the Great Sanhedrin, which represents Din (justice) of the highest order, consisted of 70 or 71 members.  The number 72, then, represents something that is beyond all Din—which is Chesed.


HaRav Moshe Cordevero, Z’tl, in the classic sefer Tomer Devora explains the 13 Midos of HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  In explaining the Midah of “Chesed L’Avrohom” (Micha 7:20), HaRav Cordevero writes:


“This attribute applies to those whose conduct goes beyond the requirements of law, like Avraham Avinu.  Hashem will conduct Himself towards them in a way that goes beyond the requirements of the law.  That is, he does not demand the strict execution of justice.  Rather, he goes beyond the letter of the law, just as they do.  This is the aspect of ‘Kindness to Avraham’--Hashem displays the attribute of kindness to those whose conduct is like Avraham’s.”


We all recognize how necessary element acts of Chesed are in being considered a “nice guy”, or a “good person.”  However, it is essential for us to realize that acts of Chesed for the Torah Jew are much more than that.  Not only was Chesed a building block of creation (as Dovid HaMelech teaches in Tehillim (89:3), “Olam Chesed Yibaneh”), and not only was the world rebuilt at the time of the Flood by Noach’s acts of Chesed to all of the creatures in the Ark, but even Klal Yisroel itself only can begin and take root with the Chesed of Avraham Avinu.  Before reaching the level of devotion of Yitzchak Avinu (who symbolized Yirah), or attaining the level of service of Yaakov Avinu (who symbolized Torah Truth), Klal Yisroel must first be imbued with the Chesed of Avraham.


Let us take a moment to look at some of Avraham’s specific, classic acts of Chesed, which were so important that the Torah describes them over and above the undoubtedly tens of thousands of acts of Chesed that he performed in his 175-year life span.  Last week, we saw Avraham’s great personal sacrifice (with no monetary reward) for the sake of his nephew, Lot, who had rejected him and separated himself from his tutelage and influence.  This week we see how, as a 100-year old man, Avraham serves apparently the simplest of wayfarers, and shortly thereafter pleads to save the lives of those who were his antithetical opposite, whom the Torah describes as “Roim V’Chatoim L’Hashem Meod--bad and sinful to Hashem greatly” (Bereishis  13:13).


To Avraham Avinu, Chesed was not that which he thought was nice, useful or even good or right.  Instead, it was the emulation of the Midah of Hashem.  Hashem is “Chassid B’Chol Maasav--benevolent in all His actions” (Tehillim 145:17).  Hashem cares not only for the pious, wealthy, indigent, or desperate, but for everyone at all times in all situations.  Hashem even cared enough about a world already so quickly corrupted after the Flood that He refused to destroy them, and instead sent Avraham Avinu to be His emissary throughout the land.


So when we “do Chesed,” it is not because of social mores, or because we are extremely civilized or good-hearted.  Rather, it is because the Torah teaches “V’Halachta B’Drochov--and you shall walk in His ways” (Devorim 28:9) (Mitzvah #611)--which is actually our source for the Mitzvah of Kindness.  Our Chesed transcends the physical act of taking someone by the hand, presenting someone with a good meal, driving someone to a Simcha or even providing someone with a kind word or good advice.  Rather, our act of kindness should be an act of Avraham Avinu, an act of Ruchniyus--an act of emulation of the Middah of Hashem.


When it comes to “70” or “71”, man (in this case, the Sanhedrin) must judge another man for the foibles and mistakes of humanity.  When one raises himself to “72”, he elevates himself to a Midah of Hashem which, as the Tomer Devora writes--only Hashem can recognize and repay!


Special Note Two: We provide a few additional questions to think about while walking home:


  1. Everything that we experience is for a purpose.  When one passes an unfinished building in his neighborhood, what should he think about, and how can he use what he has seen for his benefit?  Does it make a difference as to why it is unfinished?

  2. After the Flood, as Rashi explains, Hashem left some of the hot springs available to heal us (Bereishis 8:2).  Similarly, with the destruction of Sodom, we were left with the healing qualities of the Dead Sea area, another positive benefit out of destruction.  What is the lesson here?

  3. Why did Avraham Avinu have to go through ten Nisyonos--the ten tests--culminating with the Akeida at the end of this week’s Parsha?  After all, as we all know and appreciate Avraham Avinu, couldn’t he have just taken the last test and passed, obviating the need for the first nine?!


As always, we look forward to your comments.




Sometimes, we get too used to the gifts around us to fathom their greatness, and do not treat these gifts with the proper appreciation or with the due respect.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch teaches (10:1) that “One who is careful with the holiness of his Tefillin--not to speak “Divrei HaVolim V’Sichas Chulin--unnecessary words or even ordinary conversation”--while wearing Tefillin will cause his days to be lengthened, and will surely be a Ben Olam Haba…”  What a unique formula for increasing one’s life span!


Tefillin are, of course, not the only Mitzvah which demands our special attention and high level of respect.  Men most certainly should be careful for the short period of time in the morning that they don their Tefillin to realize what they are wearing.  However, at other times during the day, when one realizes that he is performing a Mitzvah, he should also attempt to perform it with the “Kovod Rosh,” with the reverence that it deserves.  So, the next time (and perhaps from time-to-time when) you enter a Shul, go shopping for Shabbos, make a brocha, review the Parshas HaShavua, or do even the simplest Chesed for another--Stop, Reflect, and Revere!



Special Note One:  In a previous Bulletin, we had raised the issue as to whether one can provide a concise Torah definition of “life”.


HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, relates that his rebbe, HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, defines life as “that which a person can never have enough of.”  This is truly an amazing definition, for it teaches us that essentially every person must define life on his own.


To some people, money is life, because that is what they cannot get enough of, to others, it may be music, and to others, it may even be sports.  Hashem, of course, would like the Torah and Mitzvos to be how you define life, as the Pasuk states “ Lishmor La’asos……Ki Hu Chayeichem…--be careful to perform all the words of this Torah, for it is your life…(Devorim 32:46,47).”  Indeed, Chazal reiterated these words when they instituted the nussach of “Ki Heym Chayeinu--for it is our life” in the Maariv prayer.


With this definition, no one could claim that he has had “enough” of life, for life is only defined as something that one truly wants and pursues.


It is interesting to note that the Shem M’Shmuel writes that if a person’s aspirations are for Ruchniyus, spirituality, in this world, then these aspirations continue in Olam Haba, and he continues to soar from madregah to madregah--from level to level--in the next world as well.  His “life” actively continues there for he could never  have enough in the here and now.  On the other hand, one whose “life” is defined by materialism, or any aspect of it, does not have much place to go in the next world, which has no materialism in it.


We should make sure that we do not distort the definition of life.  At the beginning of each day, as we sit down to map out or begin to perform the various tasks, chores, responsibilities and duties of the day, we should ask ourselves, “How will I define life today?”



Special Note Two:  As we all know, today is the yahrzeit of Rochel Imeinu.  The Pasuk in Yirmiyahu (31:14) writes that Rochel cried over the exile of her children and that Hashem, in turn, responded to Rochel that she need not cry further.


HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl, while once at Kever Rochel, was overheard to have said that although Hashem had instructed Rochel Imeinu not to cry, he, “Chaim,” was asking her to cry for her children.  The question is clear--if Hashem told Rochel Imeinu not to cry, how could HaRav Shmuelevitz--“Chaim”--seemingly go against this order and ask her to cry?


Some say, that HaRav Shmuelevitz himself answered the question by explaining that while a father (Hashem) could tell his daughter to calm down and not cry, a child (such as HaRav Shmuelevitz) could ask his mother to show a special care and concern for her children.


A second explanation is given in the name of HaRav Moshe Aharon Stern, Z’tl, who teaches that Hashem, by telling Rochel that she didn’t have to cry, was actually inviting further supplication and tears.  HaRav Stern draws the parallel to Hashem’s response to the sin of the Golden Calf, where He tells Moshe Rabbeinu “Leave me alone and I will destroy them,” even though Moshe had not yet asked for mercy from Hashem for the Chait HaEgel (See Shemos 32:10 and Rashi there).


There is an extremely important lesson for us here.  HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, notes that the Bais HaMikdash is referred to as the “Sukkas Dovid HaNofoles” (Amos 9:11)--as the falling/fallen booth of Dovid.  He explains that the word “Nofoles” is meant to inspire us to picture a person or a precious object as it is falling and as it finally falls.  He or it is not in its natural or proper position.  Something that is falling or has fallen, must be picked up and placed where it is supposed to be.


The Navi teaches that Rochel Imeinu cried for her children.  HaRav Shmuelevitz asked her to keep crying.  Likewise, the Navi tells us that we must recognize that the Bais HaMikdash is Nofoles.  We, too, must do everything in our power to pick it back up.  How?  May we suggest that at some point in the day we follow in the footsteps of our Mama Rochel.  We should take a moment out to envision the fall in front of us--and do what we can to stop the fall by asking Hashem to raise up, and keep up, that most precious possession, to him and to us, the most special place on earth, the Bais HaMikdash.


May the words of Hashem to Rochel--“there is a reward for your actions--and your children will return to their borders” ring true for our actions as well, speedily and in our day!



Special Note One:  On one of the Questions for Thought we posed in a recent email, why do we both close our eyes **and** then cover our closed eyes before reciting the Shema, we received the following response from a reader:


“Someone told me (not sure in whose name) that covering our eyes is the equivalent of returning the world (in our minds) to tohu va’vohu, the primordial state in which Hashem was absolutely Echad!”


We note that although we have not verified this , it is said that HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl, addresses this question, and answers that there is a difference between closing the eyes and covering them, and explains why one must do both.  Closing the eyes is a symbol that one is engaging in internal reflection--he is looking in--and contemplating Hashem’s mastery over all places, all people, all things and all time.  However, this is not enough--for there is a lot in the world out there which could spoil and ruin that which you know and conclude is true on your own.  So many out there mock, scorn, or scoff at our way of life, our “ancient” beliefs which (they claim) are so unbefitting for our especially “advanced” times, that merely being in the presence of those in the world around us could, at least subconsciously affect even the purest emunah and bitachon (faith and trust in Hashem).  Thus, we first close our eyes, showing that within ourselves we are whole in our belief, and then we cover our eyes to demonstrate that no outside influences, no external event, no outside pressures, and no inappropriate, licentious or subhuman conduct of others will adversely impact upon our beliefs.


Special Note Two: R’ Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, while once in Paris, noted that in a particularly posh hotel, a customer is charged several francs for a cup of coffee that otherwise costed only a few ducats to make.  In thinking about it, Rebbe Yisroel reflected, the hotel was entirely justified in charging this amount.


When one sits in hotel, beautifully decorated with carpeting, marble, artwork, moldings, designs, furniture and exotic plants, there is a sense of pleasantness, serenity, and personal satisfaction.  Moreover, in addition to the ambiance, Rebbe Yisroel realized that the cup of coffee itself, presented in these special surroundings and in a fine cup and saucer, will actually taste better as it is imbibed.  It is a very different drink--simply because of where it is and where you are.


Likewise, Rebbe Yisroel noted, when a person partakes of even a cup of water while sitting in his home with his feet on earth, as the sun shines through his kitchen window, and as he takes a breath of life-giving air, sees blossoming flowers, and hears different birds chirping outside, oh how he should appreciate that “ordinary” cup of water!  It is certainly not worth the “ducats” that an unappreciating cat, horse, rhinoceros, or elephant would pay for it, but it certainly is worth the several “francs” that a human being should be honored and excited to pay.


Indeed, HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl, teaches that the movement of your lips in making a brocha is not merely a prerequisite to partaking of the drink in the cup, but a necessity, in much the same way as the necessity of lifting of the hand to get the cup to your mouth.  Rather, one should take a brief moment and reflect upon the “Gaonus”--the unfathomable Genius, which created you, the cup, the drink, and everything around you.  One should appreciate what he is making a blessing upon and to Whom he is reciting the Blessing.


We note that the word “Baruch” in Hebrew is translated not only as a word of praise and thanks, but also as in indication that Hashem is the Source of everything.


Whether we are making a Brocha in our regular Tefillos, over a mitzvah that billions of others in the world do not have, over a special event in your life, or even over a cup of tasty bottled spring water, just that extra moment before reciting the word “Baruch” can move you out of a rhinoceros’ setting in the Amazon jungle--and into the finest five-star hotel in Paris!


Special Note Three:  In this week’s Parsha we find a stark contrast, as pointed out by HaRav Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in his great work Growth Through Torah, as follows:


The Pasuk (Bereishis 12:5) writes: “Vayaitzu Loleches…VaYavou Artza Canaan--and they left to go to the land of Canaan, and they came to the land of Canaan.”  What is the Pasuk teaching us?  Where is the lesson here?


The message, Rabbi Pliskin teaches, is enormous for everyone!  The Torah teaches by this Pasuk that Avraham Avinu set out to get somewhere--and he arrived there.  Terach his father, however, who also set out from Ur Kasdim together with his son, did not get to Canaan, but instead stopped in Choron, “and settled there” (Bereishis 11:31).  The rest is history.  Terach died in Choron, and Avraham Avinu and his descendants have the eternal right to the land that Avraham reached--Eretz Canaan!  Avraham accepted upon himself to accomplish his goal and refused to become side tracked by the pleasures--or even the vicissitudes--of the situations around him.  To succeed in any venture, you must complete what you start.  You must be driven, and not lose sight of what you really must accomplish.


In fact, Rabbi Pliskin continues, it is a very important goal that you are attempting to accomplish; you should even become obsessed with it.  While obsessions can be negative, they can also be very positive.  A person should never, ever quip “I never finish what I start.”  Rather, a person should recognize his own importance, and move aside the deterrents (however expertly dressed up by the Yetzer Hora) in order to fully and finally realize his objective.


The year is in front of us.  Let us take this great lesson presented to us by the Torah so early on in the year, so that we accomplish and reach our destination--this year--and in life!


We conclude Neilah on Yom Kippur with Kabalas Ol Malchus Shomayim.  We accept Hashem’s Kingship over us--now and forever.  While this may be a difficult concept for those who have been raised in Western Society, and for those of us who are impressed by their own shrewdness, wisdom, prowess or strength, the fact is that it is as absolute as the truth gets.  It is interesting to note that the penultimate Pasuk of the Shiras HaYam (Shemos 15:18) is “Hashem Yimloch Le’olam Voed--Hashem’s malchus will last forever.”  The teaching is so fundamental to our daily life-that this Pasuk is actually repeated ten (!) times daily during the course of our three daily prayers (Nusach Ashkenaz), and even once in Kriyas Shema Al HaMita!  We will leave it to you to double-check our count in your next three tefillos.  If someone could give us the Nusach Sefard/Sefaradi/Ari counts, it would be most appreciated.  In all events, as we go through events in the day in which we sense that there is more to what happened than meets the eye--that there had to be a reason why you met up with him, or for why that certain unexpected thing happened, or even why you just missed the light--bring to mind and state this Pasuk--and you can touch daily that most sublime moment of Neilah on Yom Kippur!



Some questions for thought as you are walking home:


a.  Is there a Torah definition of “Life”?


b.  When reciting the first Pasuk of Shema, why do we both close our eyes and then cover our closed eyes?


c.  If you had five minutes with a Gadol HaDor how would you want the script of your conversation to read?


d.  The Moshiach is coming TODAY--how will you--and will you not--spend the time prior to his arrival?  Remember--this could be today!!



Special Note One:  This week’s Parsha, Lech Lecha, highlights for us how far Avraham Avinu went in order to save his captive nephew (Bereishis 14:14).  We are taught “Ma’aseh Avos, Siman L’Bonim--the deeds of the forefathers are a sign to their children.”  We should take a special note of the fact that the great efforts of Avraham Avinu are recorded in **this week’s** Parsha and take action **this week**to help at least those currently in captivity whom we know about.  What is the “action” of a Jew in this circumstance?  The Torah gives us the answer: “HaKol Kol Yaakov V’Hayadayim…” (Bereishis 27:22)--unlike the rest of the world, our words speak louder than our actions.  We add that when HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Zt’l, spoke to those assembled for prayer in Yeshivas Mirrer Yerushalayim on behalf of the Entebbe Airport captives, he urged those there to consider the Entebbe captives as their very own close relatives, and pray as such.


We provide, once again, the names of the three Israeli soldiers being held for over one year of their lives!


Eldad Ben Tova

Ehud Ben Malka

Gilad Ben Aviva


Recent news events concerning heightened negotiations relating to the captives may be a further reminder from Hashem that this week is an auspicious time for us to remember the soldiers in our Tefillos.


On a very related note, we remind everyone to likewise pray for Jonathan Pollard, Yehonasan Ben Malka, who is also being detained in our very own country for an extended period of time.



Special Note Two:  A bumper sticker reads: “I vote that we give up!”  In reviewing the first three Parshios of the Torah, we find that a cornerstone of the Torah’s teaching is to absolutely and unequivocally perish the thought of “giving up”.  Adam, after sinning and being exiled from Gan Eden, had the courage and determination to have another child--Shes--whose descendant, Noach, is the progenitor of mankind forever.  Kayin, after his dreadful sin, demonstrates the willpower and resolve to do Teshuva as well.  Noach’s fortitude and perseverance before, during, and after the Flood, saves not only mankind--but the entire world--from extinction.  Avraham Avinu is ridiculed and degraded even by his own father, thrown into a fiery furnace, and told by Hashem to leave his country to a land inhabited by the descendents of the cursed Cham.  Nevertheless, his love, dedication, and purpose lead even Cham’s descendants to refer to him as the “Nesi Elokim--the prince of Hashem.”


At this time of year, there are those who could feel depressed, or at least dejected, or down on themselves.  After all, Yom Tov was over a little over a week ago, and many seem to be back to the same drudgery without visible signs of improvement.  The Torah, in these recent Parshios, however, shows how much, much greater obstacles were overcome by those who met the individual challenges that faced them.  What is needed is the fortitude to keep the Kabalos that we thought of or made and an uplifted spiritual state at least in some way, such as when reciting Shemone Esrei or Brachos during the day.


If your Plan A as to how this year would be different needs some tweaking, or perhaps a real adjustment or even a change, now is the time to focus and fix , so that the rest of the year can be, quite literally, elevated and successful.


Hashem has given us a special Bracha in that, because it is a leap year, even now we still have just about 12 months until next Rosh Hashana.  Let’s get ourselves together--and not yield and capitulate, not surrender and acquiesce--but raise ourselves, just as Avraham Avinu in this week’s Parsha, was raised above nature and the stars (Bereishis 15:5)--in order to really and truly reach the potential that we can, should--and must!!




Remember the day that your parent, sibling or friend let go of the seat of you bicycle, and let you ride down the block on your own?!  Although a bit shaky at first, the ride became more sure and steady as you proceeded down the path.


HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl, teaches that, in much the same way, with the education and training we have received over the period beginning with Rosh Hashanah and concluding just yesterday on Isru Chag, Hashem has now just released us to ride on our own.  We must be confident in our ability to succeed, and make sure that we do not regress to the point in time which preceded the very special period we have just passed through.  Quite to the contrary, we should exert all efforts to ensure that we succeed at our new undertakings.


As Rabbi Pincus puts it--the Esrog dealers should not be the only ones who walk away from Yom Tov feeling accomplished--their success should serve as an allegory for each and every one of us, as we plan at making the year that lays ahead our most successful one ever!

Other email archives