A Time to Act

📖: Beshalah/בשלח

*In this week’s Parasha the Jews are before the Yam Suf / Sea of Reeds with the Egyptians pursuing them.  They cry out to Hashem to save them. Hashem says to Moshe “Why are you crying out to me? Speak with the Children of Israel and Travel on!” At that time Moshe lifts his staff and the sea splits.”

There is a time to beseech help from Hashem. There is a Time to ask for guidance from Hashem.  There is a time to act. G-d was telling Moshe – now is the time to act.

By them having faith in G-d and themselves and making a tangible effort, Hashem split the sea for them. (See Ramban on Shemot /Exodus 14:15)

At times we may wonder why G-d is not answering prayers. He may be willing to answer. But He may just be waiting for us to take the first step towards that goal or to spiritually elevate ourselves to be able to merit the blessing or both.

It’s Just G-d Saying Hello.

About 10 years ago or so I was in Yeshiva with my friend Avraham. He told me that he was changing the names of his phone extensions in his rooms and somehow they got automatically changed to names that he wanted instead of the ones that he had entered. I told him, perhaps you were dreaming. No. Perhaps you programmed them and you forgot. No. Perhaps a friend came over and changed them. No. I tried to find a rational reason for how they changed. None of my propositions fit what actually happened.

He said “Hash-m” can do anything.” I agreed. “So what is the problem of Him changing the names of my extensions?”

I replied “Why would G-d do such a thing?” I can understand if he would make you meet someone to help you in some matter, but why would G-d want to change your phone extension names?”

“I don’t Know” he answered, “it just happened?”

This past Motzi Shabbat / Sortie of Shabbat, I was at a Melave Malka / the Fourth Meal after Shabbat. The speaker was Rabbi Feifer. He told 4 stories about Hashgacha Pratit / Individual Supervision by G-d.

Rabbi Feifer was in a local Kosher Mini-market. The manager, recognizing him, asked him if he had time to answer a question. Sure, he replied.

“Once a year I usually drive to Florida with my family after Shabbat. I went and stayed a week. After Shabbat was over I started driving back to New York. At about 7 o’clock in the morning – I was tired. I decided to pull off on one of the exits in North Carolina to get some sleep in a parking lot. After my nap, I go out of the car and I notice a fellow Jew. I approached him to say hello and the person turns out to be my old boss. I asked him what he was doing there. He said his daughter wanted to see one of the amusement parks in North Carolina. I asked myself, what are the odds of meeting my boss in the middle of North Carolina.” He asked the Rabbi “Why would G-d do such a thing?”

Some people would call it coincidence but – the Torah says everything is orchestrated by G-d.

The Rabbi thought of a story that happened recently in Israel. An organization in Israel – called Lev Le’achim – invites secular Jews to learn in a Yeshiva to acquaint themselves with Torah.The Yeshiva decide to take a group of boys to Tzefat for a Shabbaton / Shabbat Outing. A secular boy who was staying at the Yeshiva was invited to attend. They told him it would cost about 350 – 400 shekels. He replied, I’d really like to attend but I don’t have the funds. But I learned in the Torah this week that any expenses made for the honor of Shabbat will be reimbursed by Hash-m. “He says borrow on My account and I will pay.” So I will go but I will pay you after the Shabbaton. They agreed.

After the Shabbaton they made the calculation – each boy would have to pay 388 Shekels and 66 Agorot. He asked them for a couple days to pay for the trip. When He arrived to his dorm room, he saw a letter. “Dear Son, we wanted to wish you a happy birthday. As a gift we decided to give you one of each denomination of Israeli Currency.” There was a 200 Shekel note, a 100 shekel note, a 50, a 20, a 10 shekel coin, a 5, a 2 and a 1. A 50 agorot and a 10 and a 5 and a 1. Totalling – 388 Shekels and 66 Agorot.

Rabbi Feifer mentioned that in a taxi in Israel – the cab driver asked him how to say the hebrew word for “Nes” in English. He replied “Miracle.” He said “do you understand? It is 3 words?” “What 3 words?” “Mi Rak El” which translates to “Who? Only G-d.” (Some say Jews made the Latin Language.) He also mentioned the word “Coincident” is “Kah” – translated as G-d. and the word “incident.”

Rabbi Feifer said sometimes G-d just sends a message to say hello. I’m here. I just wanted to remind you. What we sometimes call coincidence – is really G-d saying Hello.

I’m So Handsome – I Turn Heads – A Solution to the Lightness of Being

People are basically smart. So what causes us to do the dangerous, the foolish and the wrong? People have basically what they need. Why do we feel empty inside?

It is the things that turn our heads.

Primary Values vs. Secondary Pursuits

A person knows deep down the primary values of life – it’s good to get married. It’s good to have children. It’s good to give them good values. It’s good to live a wholesome lifestyle. It’s good to live healthy. It’s good to be clean. It’s good to be clean from sin. It’s good to be productive and not waste time. It’s good to pursue spirituality – closeness to Hash-m. It’s good to learn Torah.

But many people go off the path. We spend our times pursuing nothingness. Until the lightness of being wakes us up.

A baby cries. He feels a lacking. He wants to be fed, changed or to be held.

Give him a toy and he will be distracted for a moment, until he realizes his need was not met. He is still hungry, he is still cold, he is still wet.

So you give him another toy -until the toys no longer satisfy him.

It’s the same for us. We feel a basic need. We get a toy – let it be an ipad, a smart phone, a tv, facebook, internet, xbox, whatsapp, news, amazon. You name it. It turns or heads. We focus on the secondary and leave behind the primary.

So when we get tired of our toy, we get a new one.

But we cry inside because the toy doesn’t serve our primary need. Some become depressed. Some quit life. Unfortunate – because the answer to their lacking was in their grasp.

As a youth, I personally was on the secondary track. Following beauty and banality. Till G-d sent me a painful message. I feel lucky to have listened to the message – to return me to the primary track. Some learn about the primary life through pain, some through feeling the incredible lightness of being, some through a moment of truth, some through gratitude to Hash-m / G-d. Some never find the path for following the handsome is tempting.

Observing Torah – the only divine law whose giving was witnessed by millions of people – helps us keep us on the primary track rather than pursuing secondary toys.

Hanukah – Things to Pray for Each Night

The Kedushat Levi says that each night of Chanuka is mesugal, an auspicious time for different things to daven / pray for:
1st night -not to be lonely or depressed
2nd night– Shidduchim, Shalom Bayis, to find your marriage partner and marital peace
3rd night- Good children, Happy children and healthy (Chasam Sofer ztk’l says when you cry in front of the candles you can be sure your tefilos / prayers are answered)
4th night– 4 lmahos / 4 Matriarchs – To be a healthy and wholesome woman/mother in the 4 walls of your home, of true essence
5th night — Chamisha Chumshei Torah, The Five books of Torah. Daven / Pray that your husband should be a ralmid chacham / Torah Scholar as well as your children. By the 5th night more of the menorah is lit up than not. Pray for more light in your life, for clarity.
6th night – Simcha / Happiness – You can have everything and still be sad, therefore pray for joy and happiness
7th night – Happy and Peaceful Shabbat – zmiros / Jewish Song Sing, Divrei Torah / Words of Torah said by your Seuda.Shabbat / Meal of Shabbat is the source of all berakha / blessing.
8th night– mesugal / auspicious time to pray for barren women. 8 is above nature, powerful day to pray.

Kedushat Levi says if you are planning to start something new, if you start it on Chanuka it will be blessed, Bezrat Hash-m / with the help of G-d.

Swallowing the Bitter Pill and Sweetening the Aftertaste

Two things threw me off the other week.

One – a guy told me off before I was to make speech.

The Second – a guy corrected me during a speech.

Life goes on. Uncomfortable. But because it is uncomfortable it does not mean that it is bad. I looked into my own misdeeds and found two incidents that may have been the cause of these reactions.

But after some introspection – I realized that the comments were not necessarily just punishments – but suggestions for me to improve.

I took their points into consideration and hopefully said a better speech the next time around.

So should I hate these people.

No. On the contrary, they did good for me. They helped me improve my speaking skills.

Learn from Avraham Avinu / our patriach. King Avimelekh took his wife Sarah captive. When he returned her and apologized – Avraham did not hold a grudge. He blessed him to be healed and healthy.

Life at times may throw you off. Be ready for the swing and do not be thrown off by a hook.

Comedians are ready. They know hecklers in the audience. Some react well. Some are thrown off.

But if we base our lives on self-improvement these comments – should evoke thankfulness in us. If someone tried to help you – even if it was not in the most pleasant way – let it slide – they did you a favor to help you become better.

Go on. Carry on. Move ahead – it is not worth your hate. It is not worth your emotions to hold a grudge.

I know people who hold grudges. “A” did this to me. I will not speak with him. I will avoid him or her for years and years until one day they realize their foolishness and regret. People have grudges against me. I don’t know why. But all is for the good. Let them be. I have no ill will towards them.

King David had the right attitude. When Shimi Ben Gera insulted him – he told his soldiers not to harm him. He said that it is not him who is insulting me – It is G-d sending me a message for self-improvement through him.

Once a young man had a jealous friend. He was of the age to get married. When people inquired about the young man for a possible match with their daughter the jealous friend would always supply negative information. The boy was upset. He asked his Rebbe – “Why is this person doing this to me? He is driving away many potential mates.” The wise rebbe responded – “G-d does all for the good. Perhaps you love your Torah learning so much – that it would take you much time to go out on a date, and get acquainted and then find out it was not a good match. Perhaps G-d is helping you to use your time to Study rather that to deal with all dating process. When the right one comes Hash-m will put them on your path.”

That’s what happened. The father of the woman he ended up marrying – did not use his jealous friend as a reference.

Look at the good in the bitter. Look at the light in the darkness. Look for the good in all situations.Don’t become bitter – become better. Every minute is a new minute to be happy. To let go of a grudge and bitterness. Choose happiness. And live a happier life.

G-d wants our good – it is up to us to have enough faith that G-d does only good and to be creative enough to figure out what is good about any situation.

Technology Control & Texting Etiquette

Control.

Life is about control. Controlling ourselves.

In control of our emotions and thoughts, we live a life of happiness. Letting the situation control us, we are swayed by the winds of emotion.

Judaism is about control and limits. To let our mind control our hearts and not vice versa. Leading us to make smart decisions that we will not regret and will be happy with in the long term.

Below is an interesting list of limits that we can place upon ourselves to live a more meaningful life with building relations between ourselves and others or G-d, instead of relations with us and technology.

Pushing Out Negativity, Bringing In Positivity (or Positivism – if you prefer)

It is interesting that that squiggly line that appears under misspelled words – For the word “negativity” no red squiggly line appeared – for the word “positivity” a red squiggly did appear.  Perhaps it is an indication of the lack of  positivity? Perhaps “positivism” is the real word?

Where does that negativity come from anyway?

Four words stop us in life

“I Can’t”

it creeps up in our material and spiritual aspirations.

I can’t become a great business man. I can’t become a doctor. I can’t expand my store sales. I can’t get a degree.

or

I can’t do do shabbat. I can’t keep kosher. I can’t say a blessing on food.

and

“If Only”

if only i will win lotto, i will be happy. if only i land that job, i’ll be happy.

if you want something – go and make your effort – pray to hash-m and if it is good for you G-d will give it to you.

once a woman saved a child’s life. she lifted a car that was on top of a young boy. she was interviewed by tv news. they asked – her “how does it feel like to be a hero!” she said – terrible. they asked – why? she said – after that incident she realized how much potential she had – and she didn’t use it all her life.

Change the “I can’t” to “I can.”

Change the “if only” to “it’s good”.

make small steps towards your goal.

say thanks to G-d for all that you have and for all that G-d did for you till now in that domain.

you’ll get farther that way in life.

Why People Love Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is so diverse. People of all nations of all kinds. It is a place for all people to talk to the G-d that said “Let there be light.”

I was wondering why people feel so comfortable there. Apparently, G-d is the father of all. There are three partners in the creation of a person – a Man, a Woman and G-d. The man provides the white – like bones. The Woman provides the red – the blood and flesh and G-d provides the soul. (Talmud : Niddah 31a)

Jerusalem is the place of the House of G-d – where the Holy Temple will be erected in the future.

Apparently – a parent whose child comes home wants the child to feel at home. That’s the way that G-d wants his children to feel at home. So he arranges that the time they spend in Jerusalem is agreeable.

Jerusalem is also the center of where souls originate – thus the soul longs to go to it’s place of birth.

There’s no place like home,