Yom Ha’Zikaron

We just watched a video of the funeral of one of the soldiers who was killed this summer during the war. One soldier. One soldier, a huge void in the world. And there are sixty six more. And all the civilians. And the people who’ve died to terror attacks, unspeakable tragedies that should never have happened.

If G-d allowed it to happen, then it must be good. Why does it hurt so much?

For me, it’s not just human pain, but guilt. These are the pains before Moshiach, but they are not inevitable. They are to wake us up and bring us together. If we were already there, the pain we now feel, the pain of mothers and fathers and sisters and fiancees and brothers and wives and children, might not have happened.

Maybe this is what G-d intended. Guilt, however crushing, is not the answer.

All we need to do is to remember the pain. Remember how we feel when our nation is attacked. Remember that pain every time you forget the value a single soul has. Remember this pain EVERY TIME you encounter another Jew. Treat them as though the fate of the world, the fate of every human being, rests on how you treat this person.

Because it does.

So Inspired

Read the original here, or look below. A thank you to the owner of Mevakesh Lev for giving open permission to me to share such posts.

Mizmor Li-toda!

With gratitude to and with the help of Hashem Yisborach, I have reached the milestone of 2000 recorded shiurim on line. I say this not to boast [for arrogance makes one smelly and I don’t want to be that] but to thank Hashem and the countless people who have been listening and reading over the last 9 years since I entered the world wide web.I often have my doubts and hesitations as to whether it is the right thing to be part of the Internet world because as we know, רובא דרובא דרובא דרובא – the vast-vast majority of the Internet is at best dvarim betialim, frivolous matters, and all too often much-much worse, but I hope that Hashem has nachas ruach from my attempt to try to add Torah and Kedusha to the many who are there anyway.Money

Besides the benefit of spreading Torah that I already mentioned, there is another benefit – money. Lots of money.

Meaning – I get paid zero-zilcho-efes-kloom for all of the Torah that I spread and that is the way it should be. Torah is NOT a means to earn a living – it is too holy for that. Those who take money in order to learn and teach Torah only do so in order to save themselves and families from starvation. When not necessary, it should not be done. So it is very gratifying that after years of having to take a [albeit miniscule] salary for teaching Torah, the Internet afforded me an opportunity to teach for nothing. Or better – for nothing material but for everything spiritual.

So I want to pray to Hashem that He, in His infinite mercy, allows me to continue being involved in Torah day and night שלא על מנת לקבל פרס.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the many who appreciate my efforts and have been helping me in my efforts to spread Torah and light, especially for the last four years since I left yeshiva.

So thank you Hashem and thank you beloved friends. Many of you I know personally and many-many more I don’t, but I thank and love you all.

Bi-ahava,
Me 

No Music– More talking (but of course, No lashon Harah)

I often wondered what having no music over Sfirat Haomer has to do with the message of the time. of course, it makes us, (me, me) miserable, but so could many other restrictions. Why music?

This restriction has a modern day effect only a Navi could have foreseen. On the school bus each morning and evening, most people who aren’t chatting listen to music. It’s a wonderful way to recharge for the work ahead.

You have no idea how much more sociable the bus was last Monday. At first, everyone was simply kvetching and commiserating. Those who could swapped recommendations for a capella. But by the end of the long ride, everyone was chatting happily.

Even I was drawn in. Why? Though I had an audiobook to listen to– my headphones broke over Pesach cleaning! So while at first it began with some harmless conversations about ‘G-d doesn’t want to make us miserable, so obviously there’s a point to this.’ (Which, by the way, is my motto during Sfira. We’re supposed to learn from the experience.)

And yet, (gasp), yesterday I talked the entire ride home with a friend. In my defence, I was hyper and off the wall and she’s leaving for seminary next year, but still.

During Sfira, it’s nice to see that a restriction can no only upset us, but serve as a springboard for growth. In this case, the growth is in the exact area we need to improve during this time.

May our efforts in increased achdus during these days bring us to Shavout in the Bais Ha’mikdash, SOON!

An Old Friend

An anonymous reader recommended this post. Read it here: –>  or below

Friday, March 6, 2015

Hello, Old Friend

I met up with an old friend the other day. I’d spoken with him fairly recently, but it had been a while since I’d seriously opened up to him. I’m not really sure what made this time different, other than the fact that I’d been drinking. Still, for the first time in way too long, I felt heard, as if he was seriously listening. I spoke in that  non-self-reflective way, opening up in a manner that I can truly do, only when speaking with close friends.


It felt good, but as I spoke, I had this terrible gnawing feeling. I started thinking about the fact that soon our meeting would be over. I began to  become self-conscious of the fact that I better say everything I had to say, as I was unsure when the circumstances that had led to this conversation might happen again. I don’t know who  is responsible for our recent divide, although I can’t deny that I am far from blameless.


So there I was, with a combination of the joy that came from opening up to a friend, combined with the recognition that I better not waste a moment of our time together. Then, it was time to go. Reluctantly, I parted, sadly taking my leave. Without turning my back, I bowed and took three steps back.
Yihiyu l’ratzon imrei pi v’hegyon libi lifaniecha, HaShem Tzuri v’Goali.

 

Thank you to the person who sent me the article, the person who allowed me to use it, and to all you loyal readers!

Have a wonderful Shabbat!

Davening for the ill 1

davDedicated for a refuah shelema (full recovery) for Tuvia Avraham ben Chaya Zisha, among others.

For an idealistic perfectionist, some Mitzvot (commandments) can be tough. You can give charity to some poor people– but not every single one. After all, then how would you buy yourself food for Shabbat and Yom Tov? Nor can you do kiruv in the entire world simultaneously.

But one mitzvah allows you to encompass the entire world in one go. In Shmoneh Esrai (also known as the Amidah) during the bracha of Refa’enu, where we beg Hashem to heal the sick, is a special prayer one can add to mention a certain name. The text, fairly simple and straightforward, closes with the words בתוך שאר חולי ישרא-ל — among all the sick people of Yisrael.

Isn’t that amazing? When I daven for my friend’s father or Mim’s little brother, I am literally also praying for the thousands of other people who need it.

Hashem, please heal them all soon.

Mid-conversation consideration

I arrived at shul last night for megillah reading (I walked, and it was lovely out) and sat down in an open seat with an empty chair on either side. At about five minutes before the reading was to start, I looked up to find that the four older girls who’d sat down by me, two on each side, were talking over my head. They were trying to work out why some other friends weren’t here and compare notes on which ones had a megillah reading already aranged for the night.

I didn’t mind just sitting there and letting them talk, but wouldn’t the girls be more comfortable not talking over a (however much shorter) head? I had no problems moving to the end of the row to let them talk in peace.

While I was waiting for the right time to speak up, one suddenly turned to me. “Oh! I’m so sorry. We’ve been talking over you all this time!” I rushed to tell her that it was no big problem, I didn’t mind, and I was happy to move if it was more convenient for her. But no, she continued, telling me that it was ok, I was fine where I was, and that she really was sorry. Put me in a great frame of mind for megillah reading.

Thoughts on Purim :)

A belated Chodesh tov to all!

Some homemade thoughts on Adar and Purim for inspiration and fast day distractions. Sorry for digressing so much, since these are rather deep and complicated ideas.

One of the central themes woven into the fabric of Purim is the idea of concealment and masks. Of the outside hiding the inside, of working in the shadows. It is part of both the ‘mashal’ (the obvious, written Purim story) and the ‘nimshal’ (a careful examination of what’s not mentioned. There are some great articles about that on Aish and Chabad.)

But masks aren’t just a fixture of Purim. Our bodies, too, are masks. They clothe the neshama (roughly: soul), allowing it to live in a material world. Depending on the way you use your body to express yourself, you can either hide or reveal some of your inner depth.

It is the nature of Jewdism to have more hidden than revealed. If everything was open and exposed, the world would be a very different place in terms of ‘abstract’ concepts such as free choice, learning Torah, etc.

Ideally, the body hints or echos the soul. (This is essential to the concept of Tznius, ‘hiding’ the body. If the soul is so great that it even shows in the body, then the body is also holy and needs cover and protection.) But sometimes, people’s outsides’ don’t match their insides. This can be in the tragic case of people who look ‘frum’ ‘charedi’ ‘normal’ ‘holy’ on the outside, but inside they are the sort of people that we are not proud to call our own.

This is a sad and rare case. But there are two others that are more common. Since the nature of the soul is to be hidden, we can’t see other people’s internal growth. People who dress and act the way they always have might be the most refined and kind individuals underneath. Physical changes, especially when you are around people who know you well, can be much more difficult and intimidating. Far easier to take on giving extra tzedaka every week then to chop off the dreadlocks and wear a kippa. Some find it much simpler to refine their language or swear off texting for a month than to ‘un-dye’ their hair and wear longer skirts, or even a skirt at all. Far easier to daven mincha then to, say, stop wearing jeans.

There is another type of person in this catagory. There are people, great tzadikkim, who seem like average, pious individuals on the outside, but inside contain great depths of holiness and purity. These are people who seem like the stories of bygone years– because you never discover it until they have left the world.

So the next time a person’s actions don’t seem to reflect thier soul– think again. And remember, the same is true of you.

Have an easy fast and a joyous Purim

Elevating the mundane 1

My parents (thank you thank you thank you) bought me a tablet for use at school. One of the many ‘useful and popular’ preloaded apps (I’ve already deleted about half of them!) was a newsfeed. It was preloaded with feeds for sports, worldwide news, health and fitness, media, entertainment and other news. (Forget that there were about 3 other apps already on there that had those things. Gashmiyus! Mindless bittul zman!)

I deleted all the pre-loads, and contemplated deleting the app as well. But before I did, I decided to do one quick search. Maybe they had a creativity blog I went to occasionally? They did. And that got me thinking. And searching.

Hey! If they had interior design, why wouldn’t they have access to Torah sites as well?

3 sites worth of Torah, fed straight to my tablet. Keeps me off the internet? Check! Keeps me reading Torah? Check! Am I thrilled? CHECK!