The Mystery of Teenagers at Samson the Mighty Grave

Shimshon HaGibor / Samson the Mighty was a Nazir / a Nazarite. A Nazarite is not allowed to drink wine, eat grapes or consume other grape products. He was a Judge, tremendously strong and a fierce defender of the Jewish people. His physical might was from heaven. For the Rest of the story – see the Book of Judges (chapter 14-17).

Just recently someone knocked at my door to collect money. He told me his cause was to raise money for Shabbat meals for Young teenagers that come to visit Samson’s grave. He, the caretaker, was perplexed when he saw so many youth visiting there.

He asked them why they come. They told them they wanted to connect with someone who is strong and powerful. They admired his might and apparently his plight in defending the Jewish people.

After youth many seek truth. They want to find real meaning. Apparently this is a step in  their search for meaning in life. The Shabbat meals give them a taste of Judaism and give them a taste and feel of meaning.

Apparently the secular education did not satisfy their person. They did not find the satisfaction or meaning they wanted.

The Sefer Hovot HaLevavot / Book Duty of the Heart – explains that a person is composed of a body and soul. This soul is on a high spiritual plane. It is not satisfied by physical pleasures. Doing good and following Torah is what gives it satisfaction.

Their soul drew them to the mighty. But the mighty Samson recognized that his physical and spiritual strength came from the Mighty One above – from Hash-m / G-d.

Elifaz is Saved by Yeshiva – The Influence of a Place of Torah

Esav / Esau – in this week’s parasha / weekly Torah reading – VaYetze – instructs his son Elifaz to kill Esav’s Brother Yaakov / Jacob. Elifaz encounter’s Yaakov and tells his uncle that his father instructed him to kill Him. Elifaz is concerned about following his father’s orders as he thinks that Honoring one’s parents – supersedes killing Yaakov.

Yaakov tells him – there is a way to accomplish both – killing Yaakov and Honoring parents. Yaakov tells him “Take all my money. A poor person is considered as if he is dead.” Elifaz learned that in the Yeshiva – either with Yaakov or Yitzhak / Issac his grandfather.

Several lessons :

Help People to Do Good

If you can help a person do a Torah Mitzvah – help him or her.

The Power of a Yeshiva / Torah Study Hall and Torah Study

The Steipeler Gaon, Zt”l – Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky learns from this The influence of sitting in a Yeshiva has great power. Elifaz – who was ready to kill his uncle did not do so – because he learned in a Yeshiva.

Just in sitting in the Yeshiva has an influence – learning Torah there has even more of a positive influence. If a person is tempted by his or her evil inclination – bring the evil inclination to a Torah study hall. Hash-m says “I created the Yetzer HaRa – I created Torah as an elixir.”  It also says in Talmud Kiddushin (30b) :

A Sage from the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: My son, if this wretched one, the evil inclination, encounters you, pull it into the study hall, i.e., go and study Torah. If it is a stone it will melt, and if it is iron it will break, as it is stated with regard to the Torah: “Is not My word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29). Just as a stone shatters a hammer, so too one can overcome his evil inclination, which is as strong as iron, through Torah study. With regard to the second part of the statement: If it is a stone it will melt, this is as it is stated with regard to the Torah: “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come for water” (Isaiah 55:1), and it states: “The water wears the stones” (Job 14:19), indicating that water is stronger than stone.

Of Chinese Food & Pleasure

Many a year ago – I ate at a Kosher Chinese restaurant called Moshe Peking in Manhattan. People say after Chinese food one feels hungry. Why? Many theories exist. It is low in protein. It is high in carbohydrates. It’s the salt or MSG. Whatever.

Some pleasures are similar – one has a short pleasure but shortly after they feel lacking. Why?  Material pleasures give a person a temporary high. Material things are temporary. We have a high level soul – that is eternal. The Material does not satisfy the spiritual soul.

It is difficult to discern what is a material pleasure – because material pleasures may be mixed with spiritual pleasure. Let’s say you go to a restaurant. Now you are generous and you flip the bill or pay for the group. The eating was material pleasure – but the act of being generous is a spiritual pleasure.

Some don’t discern – so they think that the eating gave them the pleasure – but it was really the kindness you did during the meal that gave you the pleasure.

 

Use Emotions Positively – Don’t Fret, Get Upset or Regret – Get Blessed

It occurs daily that people upset others – including yourself. G-d sends us these gifts as a way for us to reflect upon life and our actions to become better.

If that person – who insulted you – didn’t do it – someone else would take their place.

So – the best is to not get upset – because you recognize it is a message from Hash-m to improve. So improve.

Sometimes we are so upset that we want bad to happen to others – or even ourselves. Sorry – that is not usually productive.

Use Emotions Positively

So use your emotions for the positive and instead of wishing bad on others – wish good for yourself. Instead of wishing that a person who hurt you loses money – use the deep emotions to bless yourself to make more money.

In last week’s parasha – Toledot – Esav was upset that his brother – Yaakov / Jacob – received the blessings from his father. We would have expected the Torah to say that Esav was upset that He – Esav didn’t receive the blessings from his father Yitzhak / Issak. For Esav it was more upsetting for him that his brother received the blessings that he didn’t receive the blessings.

From this We can learn to sort out emotions – to wish good for ourselves rather than to be upset that someone gained.

The World Created with Truth

The Signet of Hash-m / G-d is Truth.

The World was created with Hebrew Letters. Each day was created with a sequence of 3 letters – starting from the hebrew letter Bet like bet of Bereshit. Each Letter has a numerical value. Gematria is determining the value of words with these values. Alef = 1. Bet = 2. Yud = 10. Kaf = 20. Kuf = 100. Resh = 200. Shin = 300. In gematria Ketana = each letter has a single digit – so Yud = 1, Kuf = 1, Resh = 2. Shin = 3

(Alef is starts the 10 Commandments with the word Anochi (I am) – that starts with the letter Alef)

Emet means Truth in Hebrew. Emet in Hebrew is written Alef Mem Tav = 1 + 4(0) + 4(00) = 9

Each day was created with three letters. Each time you add them up it comes to 9 – representing truth.

Day One was created with Bet Gimel Dalet – 2 + 3 +4 = 9

Day Two was created with Hei Vav Zayin = 5 + 6 + 7 = 18 = 1+ 8 = 9

Day Three was creaated with Het Tet Yud = 8 + 9 + 1 = 18 = 1 + 8 = 9

And so on.

Sheker = falsity is written Shin Kuf Resh = 3 + 1 + 2 = 6

If the world was started with Alef – that has one three letter sequence as Kuf Resh Shin (the letters of Sheker) = Each three letter sequence would equal 6 – signifying falsity. Thus each day was created with a three letter sequence starting with Bet – signifying truth.

If you start with Alef – the three letter sequence adds up to six:

Alef Bet Gimel = 1+ 2 + 3 = 6

Yaakov was the Forefather that is known for his carefulness regarding Truth.

In parasha Toledot – When his mother Rivka told Yaakov to get the blessing from his father Yitzhak – by pretending he was His brother Esav – he dreaded doing it. He didn’t want to lie.

It is apparent from his words to his Mother “Perhaps my father will touch me and I will appear as a trickster and bring upon myself….” Genesis (27:12)

“Perhaps” is a word to express hope of happening not distress of it happening. He should have Said “Lest my father touch me….”

The Vilna Gaon explains that Yaakov / Jacob would have rather been caught by his father than to have expressed a lie.

הרב שקד בוהדנה | פרשת תולדות | ה׳תשפ״ב – ראשון לציון

Four Ways to Stay Calm When in a Rush

I used to take the subway to school. I was late for class. And as you’d expect – when in a rush – the train stops between stations. The announcer gets on “We are experiencing a longer than usual stop light. Please be patient.” His announcement makes me more anxious to get to class. But then I think to myself “By me getting upset – will this cause the train to move faster?” Apparently not. That thought calms me down.

At time we are anxious to get somewhere – so we turn on “I’m in a rush mode” Just turn that mode off. Turn on “I’ll get there when I get there” or I’ll get there when G-d wants me to get there mode.”

People sometimes rush to the red light. I figure “What – should I speed to get to the red light faster?”

I’m in a rush – driving a cool 55 mph. Some guy – goes into my lane driving 30. It’s the solid white lines on both sides and or other cars aren’t letting me in. Should I get upset at the other driver? No. Like he said “Oh – let me annoy that driver by driving 30 mph.” No. He just drives that way. Maybe G-d organizaed it that way to test my patience muscles. If I flinch with anger – I lose. If I stay calm – I win.

 

The Spiritual Cry or Grudging – a Wise Choice?

He took my pencil. I am angry. I won’t talk to him for 10 years.

Smart?

OK. Sometimes the stakes are greater than a pencil – but is it worth it to grudge your best friend, spouse, brother or family member for it?

Think it through. Be real.

What if you found out that the person you had a grudge moved away. Would you still be upset?

The Spiritual Cry

In last week’s Parasha – Avraham – comes to Eulogize his wife Sarah and to cry for her. In the Torah the word to cry is written with a small Kaf. It means that Avraham minimized his crying – because he didn’t want people to think that he put into question G-d’s justice.

Another reason was Avraham was in control of his emotions. He cried what was necessary. My Rebbe taught me “Our Mind should control our emotions not vice versa.” Does it make sense to be angry at the person who took your money – he or she was a messenger from G-d. If that person didn’t do it someone else would have taken the money. Learn from the message – perhaps you have to be more honest with others.

Another reason brought by the Zera Shimshon is that – there are different types of cries – one is for the material loss another was the spiritual loss. If one cries the latter – then G-d collects their tears and stores them in his treasure house. Sarah was Avraham’s soul mate – the small kaf is telling us he was crying for the spiritual loss. Another reference to the spiritual cry – is prompted by the question – Why doe the verse say that Avraham came to “Eulogize and Cry.” First a person cries then they Eulogize? One answer is that his cry was a spiritual cry for the spiritual loss.

A man and a wife – if married properly are soul mates. Each one completes the other. Each one can build the other spiritually – through doing kindness, serving G-d and Torah.

This is a possible explanation of Pirkei Avot – On 3 things does the world stand On the Torah, On the Avoda (Service of Hash-m) and on Kindness. To make a world stand – these things are needed. To make a marriage last – these things are needed.

G-d wants you to have peace – as it says “Don’t Hate Your Fellow in Your Heart.”

 

Is it Smart to Hold a Grudge?

I’m in a rush. I pull into the passing lane. I need 55 mph. He’s going 40. “What’s with this slow poke? What’s this guy doing. Learn how to drive! This is the fast lane!” The anger wells up.

Typical mind thoughts. It happens to me – I used to think somewhat that way – I learned to think a bit different.

I figured “Yes – this guy chose the exact time just to pull right in front of me to annoy me when I am in a rush!?” Doesn’t make sense. This guy was driving the way he usually drives – G-d arranged that this guy be in front of me when I am late. G-d is putting me through the stress test. – Will I get angry? – Will I get upset at the guy? Will I understand that G-d organized it this way as a test.

If it is the latter – there is no reason to get angry. G-d knows what he is doing. He put this “slow poke” in front of me to let me stretch my patience muscles.

OK – now let’s stretch it a little further. Someone takes your new pocket calendar – you have important names and addresses that you need.

Should you Get angry? Hold a grudge? Obviously, he or she cannot take what is not theirs. But how do you react? Will you be upset? If it was destined to happen to you – – it would have happened to you in another manner. Think: Would this happen to you in another manner if he didn’t take it? Perhaps your dog would have chewed it up?

If you think he is a messenger of Hash-m that wants your best interest – you can find a way to not hold a grudge. In Torah it says “Don’t hate your fellow in your heart”

Clean yourself. Clean your emotions.

 

Connecting with G-d, Man and Self – the Jewish Way

This week’s Parasha / Torah reading is Vayera / and He [G-d] Appeared.

G-d Visits Avraham

Hash-m / G-d appears to Avraham after the third day of his brit milah / circumcision to do bikur holim – visit the sick. Avraham – sees travelers and is so desirous to do the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim / inviting guests – he asks G-d to wait for him while he does the mitzvah.

Angelic Visitors

The 3 visitors are really angels. The angels ask – “Where is Sarah your wife?” Avraham answers “she in the tent.” (Bereshit / Genesis 18:9) The angels come and inform him that he will have a baby boy. Sarah laughs and wonders if she will birth children when her husband is so old. Avraham also laughs inside when he hears the news. G-d asks Avraham “Why did Sarah Laugh? Why did she say that she was old?”

Torah of Kindness

The Torah starts with Hesed / acts of loving kindness – Hash-m clothing Adam & Hava / eve – and ends with acts of loving kindness – Hash-m buries Moshe. Avraham is the Av / Forefather – that is exemplary in hesed / kindness.

Three Things upon which the World Stands

Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers contains teaching of qualities for a person to emulate to reach perfection. It says in pirkei avot Chapter 1 – mishna 2 “Shimon Ahatzadik says … Al shelosha devarim holam omed – al hatorah, al haavoda ve algemilut hasadim.” The worlds stands upon 3 things – on Torah, On Divine service – prayer & on acts of loving kindness.

Three Things for Spiritual Satisfaction in Your World

We usually understand this mishna on a macro level – as the reason that the entire world survives – is because of these three things. But we can also understand it on a personal level – that the reason why a person lives – meaning has meaning and fulfillment in life – is because of these three things.

Judaism – How to Connect

Judaism is the the ultimate teacher of making connections. There are three ways to connect in life – connecting to our fellow person, connecting to G-d and connecting to ourselves. The Torah is teaching in the mishna 3 ways to connect – Our world stands because of the Torah – that teaches us to connect and better ourselves, prayer allows us to connect with Hash-m and doing acts of kindness is our manner of connecting with others. Each of them giving us spiritual satisfaction.

The Source of Satisfaction

We are basically souls clothed in a body. What gives the soul satisfaction is what makes us happy. The Three things above give our soul satisfaction and make us happy. Things that are the opposite make us not happy.

Let’s take connecting with others. It is best done through doing kindness. A great thing that we learn that we gain satisfaction more from giving to others than from receiving.

To Have satisfaction – we develop our relationship with Hash-m. Thus prayer and learning Torah – helps us to develop that relationship. Someone said “When I Pray – I talk to G-d. When I learn Torah – G-d talks to me.”

Torah teaches us how to be a stable person. How to deal with situations. What attitudes are healthy in life. What is a healthy productive lifestyle. It affects our mentality to allow us to ultimately achieve more of our potential in life. It helps us to put our priorities in place. (See article on Torah teaches Marriage – Society teaches Divorce)

Why do the Angels Ask – to Help Increase Appreciation of Others

In the parasha  – the angels ask Avraham “where is Sarah?” Avraham answers “She is in the tent” Why do they ask that question? –

Rashi – the Torah Commentator – says they ask the question to endear Sarah to Avraham. Avraham will answer she is in the tent & it will help him to realize Sarah’s great modesty. He will thus appreciate her more.

It is a mitzvah to make a person love another person more. You are motivating Veahavta lereacha kamocha – you shall love your fellow like yourself. And we do not do the opposite – to speak badly of others – because it causes gratuitous hatred – sinat hinam.

Why did G-d not ask Why Avraham laughed? – to Help Avraham Connect with Himself

Hash-m asks “why did Sarah laugh?” he didn’t ask why did you Avraham laugh

One answer is – because Sarah was a bit skeptical. Avraham was not. If Sarah was a bit skeptical – it was a reflection on Avraham.

Avraham was possibly skeptical about another matter – like when he asked G-d “How will he know that his descendents will really inherit the land. Avraham should also look into correcting himself. Hashem was  teaching Avraham to be connected to himself – knowing what really is motivating him and to teach him to better himself as well.

Changing words for peace

Sarah was astounded that her old husband would have a child. Hashem told Avraham  says that Sarah said that she – not Avraham – was too old to have children. He did this to not ruin the peace between Avraham and Sarah.