MidrESHET Hayil

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shabbbat HaGadol Parashat Tsav -Take the Fire HIGHER!


Shabbbat HaGadol Parashat Tsav - Take the Fire HIGHER!

6. A constant fire shall burn upon the Altar; it shall never go out.

ו. אֵשׁ תָּמִיד תּוּקַד עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לֹא תִכְבֶּה:

Pirkei Avot teaches us that among the ten nisim (miracles) that took place in the Beit HaMikdash, one of them was that the fire on the Mizbeah (Altar) would never extinguish, even when Benei Yisrael were on their journeys. As a child I was always amazed by this little fact; despite water and wind, this fire would keep burning! The more I keep thinking about it, the more powerful this concept becomes in my mind. It takes a lot to keep a fire continuously ignited! How does one do it?

First let’s focus on what makes this Shabbat so special, and the key to our question will automatically present itself to us. The Shabbat immediately before Pesah is referred to as Shabbat HaGadol. The first time Benei Yisrael celebrated Shabbat HaGadol was in Misrayim, on the tenth of Nisan, five days before their redemption. On that day, HaKadosh Barukh Hu gives Benei Yisrael their first missva which applied only to the Shabbat of that generation, but not to future generations: On the tenth day of this month [Nisan]... each man should take a lamb for the household, a lamb for each home (Shemot 12:3).

Benei Yisrael are commanded to take their lamb and tie them to the bedpost for four days and then take the blood of this lamb and to smear it on their doorposts so that HaKadosh Barukh Hu will salvage them on the night of the Redemption.

When HaKadosh Barukh Hu, told Moshe Rabbenu to take this lamb for Korban Pesah, Moshe Rabbenu answered: ‘Ribono Shel Olam! How can I possibly do this thing? Do You not know that the lamb is the Egyptian god? If they see us slaughtering the lamb, they will surely come after us!’  HaShem replies: ‘For as long as you are alive, Benei Yisrael will not depart from here before they slaughter the Egyptian gods before their very eyes, that I may teach them that their gods are really nothing at all.’ (Midrash Raba)

And this is exactly what happens.

Put yourself in the place of one of the Benei Yisrael. We were slaves for these people for 210 years, they did whatever they wanted with us, they killed our children and used them for bricks, they tortured us, anguished us, detained us, they forbade us to live normal lives lest we all be killed, and now in the middle of all this, we take their gods and literally slay them before their eyes without expecting severe retaliation. Just imagine if a tourist goes to India and accidentally kicks a cow (their god, bar minan). They will murder him on the spot! Meanwhile, this guy was a free man not under their jurisdiction, and he didn’t even slay the cow, he just kicked it! Now imagine an ENTIRE nation of minimally 3 million people all butchering the god of the Egyptians before their very eyes….and just to rub it in, put the remaining blood of the lamb on their doorposts so it could be publically seen.

You don’t think Benei Yisrael were scared out of their minds of what would happen???? Who were Benei Yisrael in the eyes of the Egyptians to even rise up and leave from their bondage? And now, it’s not like they’re murdering Egyptian civilians, that would be one thing, but they’re murdering Egypt’s divine gods! So much worse!

But what happens? Not one Jew is touched. Benei Yisrael leave as free men and use these very lamb to make Korban Pesah. On that night HaShem slew the Egyptian firstborn and on that night Benei Yisrael were able to slaughter the Korban Pesah and eat it. When the Egyptians beheld their firstborn slain and their gods slaughtered, they could do nothing….

Do you see now how a fire can remain constantly lit?

When a person remains this committed to HaKadosh Barukh Hu, there is nothing in the world that can extinguish his fire, not even the most powerful empire in the world like Misrayim was at the time. Look at the steadfast commitment and Trust in HaShem Benei Yisrael had. This is why they were deserving of a Geulah.

It is not simply enough to be committed; most of us are. We daven, keep Kosher, Shabbat, Seniut. But how consistent are we in doing it? Most of us could ignite the fire, but how many of us can keep it lit?

To keep this fire always burning, no matter where we are and when it is, even if it seems strange to us, even when we are on our journeys, even if it is against everything everyone around stands for, as long as HaKadosh Barukh Hu requires you to do it, our fire must remain lit, we must do it! Do it with passion! THIS is what brings the Geulah!

Benei Yisrael were scared for their lives when HaShem Yitbarakh required of them to slay the lamb in front of Misrayim, but they decided they are even willing to die on Kiddush HaShem and risked being mass murdered so they could do Rasson HaShem. If we are willing so much to die for a Kiddush HaShem, why don’t we LIVE for Kiddush Hashem??

Says Rebbitsen Yemimah Mizrahi in the name of Rebbisten Kanievsky zt’’l that during Hadlakat Nerot of Shabbat HaGadol, it is a segulah to take something small upon ourselves that we will be consistent with in order for the negative decrees that were decided upon us will pass over us and our homes. Yes, we all try not to speak lashon hara, we are committed, but let’s be consistent! Sure, we all understand we must act and dress with Seniut, we are committed, but let’s be consistent! Of course we all know to speak pleasantly with others, we made that commitment since we learned how to talk, but let’s be consistent! We are all committed to keeping Shabbat Kodesh, Kashrut, Sedaka and Ahavat Yisrael but let’s be CONSISTENT!

Take one thing upon yourself, and instead of committing to a hundred and one things, let’s remain consistent in just that one thing. Be’ezrat HaShem in this zekhut, may we only be blessed with positive decress from Shamayim. May we all attain a steadfast commitment to Torah, Missvot and Middot, no matter where and when we find ourselves and who we find around us. May the passionate fires inside us continue to burn and never extinguish! Be’Ezrat HaShem may we all be zokhim to finally witness the constant fire burning on the Mizbeah in the Beit HaMikdash THIS year, AMEN!!

Shabbat HaGadol Shalom uMevorakh!!!!
Ariella Samimi

**PS, you know what’s so special about a fire? When it is shared with others, it doesn’t take away anything from itself. Think about it ; )

Inspiration: Rabbi S. G. Ginzberg

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Parashat VaYikra-No Need to Stumble to be Humble

Parashat VaYikra-No Need to Stumble to be Humble

1. And He called to Moses, and HaShem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying,

א. וַיִּקְרָא אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֵלָיו מֵאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵאמֹר:

Sefer VaYikra consists mainly of instructions and ramifications of how to bring a korban, a sacrifice, to HaKadosh Barukh Hu (as well as some other direct missvot). So for the next two and a half months at least, I will guide you through all the exciting and inspiring details of how to slaughter ox and sheep and bring them as korbanot to become closer to HaShem. I know it’s very thrilling and all but please, try and contain your enthusiasm here, I don’t want to put anybody into shock….

Sefer VaYikra begins when HaKadosh Barukh Hu calls Moshe Rabbenu into Mishkan for the first time. ‘VaYikra el Moshe’. When we look at the pasuk in the Torah, the aleph of the word VaYikra, the first word of the Sefer, is written smaller than the other letters.

We don’t see that often. How come? Did HaShem run out of ink when He was writing this pasuk? Was there a budget cut in the publication of the Torah?

The Hakhamim tell us that the small alef at the end of the word VaYikra alludes to the humility of Moshe Rabbenu.

The Midrash tells us that when HaShem spoke to Moshe at the burning bush, Moshe tried to hide, but HaShem declared, ‘Go, and I will send you to Paroh.’ Meaning, if you don’t liberate them, no one else will. At the Yam Souf, Moshe set himself aside, but HaShem proclaimed, ‘Raise your staff and split it.’ If you don’t split the sea, no one else will. At Har Sinai, Moshe Rabbenu once again set himself aside, but was instructed, ‘Ascend to HaShem.’ If you don’t ascend, no one else will be permitted to.

At the Mishkan, Moshe Rabbenu stood aside yet again. HaShem finally demanded: How much longer will you lower yourself? This hour awaits no one but you! At that point, ‘VaYikra—HaShem called unto Moshe.’ Of all the people HaShem could have called, he called only to Moshe Rabbenu.

Despite all this honor and privilege, despite the fact that he was arguably the most important person in the world, Moshe Rabbenu continues to maintain such humility that HaKadosh Barukh Hu has to literally go out and call him to tell him he is supposed to enter the Mishkan.

We all can draw such hizouk from the humility of Moshe Rabbenu. But what exactly is the connection between humility and the letter alef? Why would we think of humility the first second we see that little alef in the pasuk?

Says Rav Gurkow, it is rather fitting that HaShem Yitbarakh chose to allude to Moshe Rabbenu’s humility by diminishing the size of the letter aleph. For the aleph had, on an earlier occasion, demonstrated its own humility. 

Rabbi Akiva taught: The twenty-two letters with which the Torah was given are engraved with a pen of fire upon the awesome throne of HaKadosh Barukh Hu. When HaShem sought to create the world, the letters appeared before Him, each yearning to be the first letter with which the world would be created.

The letter tav appeared and said, ‘Master of the universe, would that the world be created with me, for the very word ‘Torah’ begins with me’ But HaShem turned it down, and the tav withdrew. Next came the shin, but it too was rejected. And so it was with each letter. Last to approach was the beit, who asked that the world be created with it, considering it is the opening letter of Baruch Hashem, the traditional divine berakha. HaShem accepted the beit’s plea and began creation with the word Bereishit, “in the beginning.”

All this while, the aleph stood silently by. HaShem called to it and said, “Aleph, why do you remain silent?” The aleph replied, “It is because I have no strength with which to address You. Their numerical values are great, whereas mine is small: beit is two, gimmel is three, and so on, whereas my value is merely one.”

HaShem replied, “Aleph, have no fear; your place is at their head. You are one, so am I, and so is the Torah which I will give to my nation, Israel. I will begin it with aleph, as it is written, ‘Anochi, I am the L‑rd your HaShem.’

Obviously we can all understand the power of humility, but how do we reach such levels?

 HaRamban tells us in Iggeret HaRamban, that a humble person is one who overcomes anger, doesn’t respond to others in a loud, has his head bent low, and does not look at a person in the eye when he speaks to them….

Of course we can do all these things, but what is a person supposed to view himself as, what is he supposed to think of himself?

Rabbi Schneur Zalman explains:

The first man, Adam, was 'the handiwork of HaShem,' and HaShem attested that his wisdom was greater than that of the angels. Adam was aware of his own greatness, and this awareness caused him to overestimate himself and led to his downfall in the sin of Ess HaDaat, the Tree of Knowledge.

Moshe Rabbenu, who possessed a Neshama deriving from the highest levels of divine being, was also aware of his own greatness (he did not put himself down!), but this did not lead him toward self-glorification. On the contrary, it evoked in him a broken and anguished heart, and made him extremely humble in his own eyes, thinking to himself that if someone else had been blessed with the gifts with which he, Moshe, had been blessed, that other person would surely have achieved far more than himself. Thus HaKadosh Barukh Hu testifies in the Torah that 'Moshe was the most humble man upon the face of the earth.'

In the letters of the Torah, there are three sizes: intermediate letters, oversized letters, and miniature letters. As a rule, the Torah is written with intermediate letters, signifying that a person should strive for the middle path. Adam's name is spelled with an oversize aleph in Sefer Bereshit, because his self-awareness led to his downfall. On the other hand, Moses, through his sense of insufficiency, attained the highest level of humility, expressed by the miniature aleph of VaYikra.

It becomes clear that those who flee from glory are crowned with it, but those who chase glory never quite reach it. As humble people, we are aware of our strengths, we don’t put ourselves down! But this by no means is a reason to hold ourselves in a higher regard than others. On the contrary, when we realize these gifts we have only come from HaShem, when we realize how small we are in comparison to HaShem, it puts us in our place.

As the first letter, the aleph could have demanded first rights to creation, but it didn’t abuse its greatness. And as a result, it was selected to be the first letter of the Aseret HaDibrot, the Ten Commandments. Likewise, Moshe Rabbenu, as the leader of the nation, could also have demanded entry into the Mishkan, but he didn’t. He humbly objected. Ironically, his humility was also his greatness, and it was only on account of his humility that he was invited to enter the Mishkan.

Be’Ezrat HaShem may we all develop an awareness of our greatness, but also the sensitivity that we are not better than others; we are only partners in this world. We must realize that we all have the capability to change the world (we really, really do) but this is not reason at all to lend ourselves to arrogance, we are only a minuscule speck on the face of this earth. In this zekhut may we achieve true humility comparable to that of Moshe Rabbenu!

Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!!!!

Ariella Samimi

Based on the teachings of Rabbi Lazer Gurkow, Rebbestin Ginzburg, and Chabad.org

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Parashat VaYak’hel-Pikudei- A Few Words Could Mean the World


Parashat VaYak’hel-Pikudei-  A Few Words Can Mean the World

Please learn the following Devar Torah and accomplish what you learn for the iluy Neshama of my special and beloved grandfather Ata ben Elazar, today is his yahrzeit. May his Neshama continue to be elevated in the highest realms of Gan Eden and may his memory be a blessing to all!

43. Moshe saw the entire work, and lo! they had done it--as HaShem had commanded, so had they done. So Moshe blessed them.

מג. וַיַּרְא מֹשֶׁה אֶת כָּל הַמְּלָאכָה וְהִנֵּה עָשׂוּ אֹתָהּ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְ־הֹוָ־ה כֵּן עָשׂוּ וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה:

On his first El Al flight to Israel, the security, to ensure he isn’t a terrorist, asks Rabbi Yosef Tropper why he sings Eshet Hayil on Erev Shabbat. Um, okay? ‘I sing it for my mother!’ he responded so he can finally get to his gate. Congratulations Mr. Tropper, we now know you won’t bomb the place because you sing sweet symphonies to your mother on Friday nights, you may now proceed to your gate….

In all seriousness though, why do we sing Eshet Hayil on Erev Shabbat?

Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian zt”l describes a great mystery which he set out to solve. When he first came to learn under the Alter of Kelm, Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv Broida zt”l he was in awe of the Alter’s wife. Rebbetzin Chaya Leah appeared to be some sort of a superwoman! She has all the cooking done, the house neat and tidy, raised children giving them proper hinukh, and on top of all that was dedicated to every need of the Yeshiva, she raised them as well!…AND she was able to do it all with utmost grace and poise. How did she do so much and still maintain her enthusiasm and vigor?! From where does a person draw such strength??

This mystery was solved the first time that Rav Lopian was invited for a Shabbat meal. When they entered the house after Shul on Erev, the Alter gave his wife a magnificently warm greeting and enumerated to her all of the appreciation he had for her hard work to organize, cook and care for the family’s needs. She was beaming. After making Kiddush and HaMossi, the Alter smiled at the Rebbetzin and told her that her Hallah was the sweetest and most delicious that he had ever tasted. The pride and joy found on the Rebbetzin’s face explained everything to Rabbi Lopian. When someone feels truly appreciated, recognized and validated, they experience a magical surge of energy that inspires them to continue their great accomplishments. That joy and fulfillment is truly powerful.

….and all it takes is a few words from us, nothing more.

Shelomo HaMelekh relates to us in Sefer Mishlei, (perek 18, pasuk 21) ‘Death and Life are in the hand of the tongue.’ With our words we can infuse such life into others. Look what power HaKadosh Barukh Hu is giving us, the power to sustain life! Not with health and medicine, money or riches but with words!

If we have such power in our hands (well, mouths) why don’t we use it? WHY DON’T WE USE IT??? There is no excuse for us not to, it doesn’t take much from us!

Think about a time when your hard work was recognized, when your efforts were appreciated. How good did that feel? Why not give that to someone else? Remember a time when you needed that little boost, and a nearby stranger offered you the warmest smile that just melted your heart. Aren’t we all capable of giving that simple smile?

When you see somebody putting in effort, go up to them and tell them they are doing a wonderful job and that they should keep it up. It’s really all a person needs to keep going….When somebody does even something small for us, let’s actually look at them and thank them genuinely with a smile. How hard is that to do?? Say thank you to everybody, not just our Rebbeim and Rebbetsins; how about the secretary, the waitress, do we thank the cashier and wish them a good day? Even if we remember to say thank you, we murmur it and dash off to our next destination. Say it and say it right! It seriously makes all the difference!

When encourage someone, we give them so much more confidence, we make them feel that they have support, that someone believes in them, that their efforts are worth it and that they should keep continuing, it brings them higher, it gives them a push to strive for more. Do you honestly feel right withholding that from someone? Go ahead and encourage those around you, look what you can do for a person! Aren’t you changing their lives like this? ALL BECAUSE OF A FEW SIMPLE WORDS!

When reading the Parasha, I was so inspired that after Benei Yisrael follow HaShem’s every commandment and instruction how to build the Mishkan, Moshe Rabbenu takes the initiative to bless Benei Yisrael from himself and encourage them for a job well done. Of course Benei Yisrael would do an amazing job, they’re building a home for HaShem! But even so, Moshe Rabbenu recognizes the importance of praising another for their work and giving proper encouragement….EVEN if it’s for something that had to be done right anyways.

Be’Ezrat HaShem, may we all develop the sensitivity to recognize the accomplishments of our fellows and to commend them for it. May we encourage those around us to continue to do more and more missvot so that we may once again have the zekhut of building the Beit HaMikdash and to be praised once more for a beautiful job well done!!!!

Wishing each special Neshama a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!!!!

Ariella Samimi

Here are a few tips for offering encouragement to others:

1.  Offer praise for ordinary accomplishments. Look for the little things that most people take for granted. Make it personal. Look the other person in the eye and share your words with real meaning.

2.  Show appreciation. Watch for the slightest improvement in someone. Be specific. Avoid clichés like, “You’re doing a great job.” Instead tell the person exactly what it is that you appreciate about him or her. Is it their timeliness, work ethic, the way they treat customers or the way they ran the meeting? Perhaps it’s someone’s weight loss, efficiency, or tidiness.

3.  Let someone know you are praying for them. This makes someone feel like they are your priority, that you are often thinking about them.

4.  Offer words of cheer for someone depressed, discouraged, or overwhelmed. A timely encouraging word can give a person the energy to keep going.

5.  Honor the person who has reached a milestone. Don’t hide it. This will give them the support and confidence to reach even more accoplishments.

6.  Compliment someone when they aren’t expecting it. Look for something that other people may have overlooked. Tell them what it is and why you think it was worthy of notice.

7.  Always say please and thank you. Always means every time, even if it’s their normal responsibility, such as cooking a meal, typing your report, or cutting the lawn

Make it a habit to hold the door for someone and exchange a smile. their smile will carry over to the cashier who will in turn share it with the next customer, who will pass it on to her best friend, who will pass it on to her daughter, who will pass it on to her Morah the next day in school, who will pass it on to her students, who will share it with their families and we can see where it can go! JUST ONE SMILE!
Kol Tuv!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Parashat Ki Tisa- A Smile Shouldn't Take a While....

Parashat Ki Tisa- A Smile Shouldn't Take a While....

Mi’She’Nihnas Adar Marbim BeSimha! Adar is the month of happiness, and Purim arguably is the happiest day of the year J We are told by Haz’’al to be overly happy and joyous on this day.  But can we seriously be instructed to be happy on demand? Most people aren’t in control of their emotions….Can I really be expected to instantly become happy?

And the answer is, OF COURSE YOU CAN SILLY!

I’ll tell you how.

You have probably heard this before, it’s nothing new, but the point isn’t to hear it new, it’s to DO it new.  It has to penetrate into your heart, not just your head. Let’s look at this approach a different, fresh way. Looking into the Parasha will help us do so….

 The method to being a happy person is to focus on what you have, not what you don’t have. If you can do this, and not just say it to yourself, it is a GUARANTEE that you will become, and remain, a happy happy person. No one will be able to take that smile off your face….

In the beginning of the Parashat, HaKadosh Barukh Hu instructs Moshe Rabbenu to set out and count each and every person of countable age in Kelal Yisrael. So Moshe Rabbenu goes out to each and every tent and doesn’t enter (to respect their privacy) but rather waits by the entrance until a bat kol (voice from Heaven) calls from Shamayim and notifies how many people live in that tent. And so he continues….

But wait a minute! IF A VOICE FROM SHAMAYIM IS TELLING MOSHE RABBENU HOW MANY PEOPLE IN THE TENT, THEN WHY DOES MOSHE RABBENU HAVE TO EVEN GO OUT AND INDIVIDUALLYU COUNT ALL OF BENEI YISRAEL? SHAMAYIM ALREADY KNOWS!!!! For what possible reason would HaKadosh Barukh Hu make Moshe Rabbenu go around the heat of the desert knocking on each and every door when HaShem already knows the answer to His own question!

HaKadosh Barukh Hu in his infinite wisdom wanted to teach us a beautiful lesson here. Until you don’t count what you have, you won’t realize its’ worth. If we don’t count our berakhot, we will never realize how much HaKadosh Barukh Hu blesses us with. Even when we aren’t on our best behavior, HaShem continues to provide for us and give us life. Even in the middle of doing something not so good, HaShem continues to give us the ability to see and air to breathe!

The pasuk says And He gave to Moshe, when He had concluded speaking to him upon Mount Sinai, two Tablets of the Testimony (31:18)

This means that when Ribono Shel Olam handed the Luhot HaBerit to Moshe Rabbenu, the people had already made the Egel haZahav, the Golden Calf!  The Midrah Rabah points out that even when Benei Yisrael were making a secondary god against HaShem, HAKADOSH BARUKH HU WAS STILL WRITING THE LUHOT FOR THEM! Look how much HaShem loves us and gives to us!! Aren’t you amazed?

Sometimes when we don’t have ONE thing small, we start to overlook all the good things that we have. Barukh HaShem we can see, we can hear, we can breathe, talk, read, write, walk, we have all our limbs, we have family and friends that love us, HaKadosh Barukh Hu loves us, Barukh HaShem that we are Jewish, that we have food to eat and a place to sleep. How about electricity and running water? Indoor plumbing?? That’s a good one…. Have you ever thought how lucky we are that HaShem gave us such thing as an imagination? A voice? Sensation in our fingers? Taste buds to taste food?? Colors, and not just black and white world, music and humor?? And these are just the general things! Just imagine all the little details in our lives that we tend to overlook! We should start becoming more aware of our surroundings and stop taking things for granted….

Rav Noah Weinberg of Aish HaTorah zt’’l set up a mashal that illustrates this point beautifully. Consider you are sitting in your office on the 82nd floor of the Empire State Building when a big, tough man barges into the room aiming for the window wanting to jump. As he takes a sprint, you lunge forward and tackle him down in an attempt to stop him. ‘Give me one reason not to jump!’ he says, ‘Speak to me’ you tell him. And so he begins a fifteen minute discourse on all his problems in life, and they are the worst you have ever heard, you almost feel bad not letting him jump in the first place. And now he’s sitting there waiting for you to answer him with just one reason not to jump. Gulp.

Suddenly a divine moment of inspiration falls unto you and you tell him, ‘Let me ask you something. On top of all the troubles that you have, if you were also blind, and right before you are about to jump, HaShem gives you the ability to see, would you still jump?’

‘Certainly not!’ he replies.

‘So what’s stopping you from living? Blindness?’

Do we really have to have things taken away from us to realize the things we have? There will always be good things in life and things that may not seem so good. You can choose to focus on either one. There will rarely be a moment when everything seems only good to us, more often than not we will always have something missing in life (or at least feel that way) so it’s better to take what he have and just focus on that instead of letting what we are missing infiltrate the berakhot we have. We have the choice where to focus our attention, and therefore we DO have the choice to be happy.

Be’Ezrat HaShem in the zekhut of this Purim and in the zekhut of Mordekhai and Ester, may we learn how to count our berakhot and focus on the things we do have and may we always always always be be’Simha, and moreover, to share it with others! From today on, take it upon yourself to only see the good, and to even write it down every single day, and Be’Ezrat HaShem you will begin to see how your life will change for the better….may the simha of Purim last us through the year!

!!!! חג פורים שמח
Ariella Samimi

Based on the passionate and inspirational teachings of Rav Milstein

Megillat Ester-Nigleh Hester (The Hidden is Revealed)

Purim 5772

Megillat Ester- Nigleh Hester (The Hidden is Revealed)

Be’Ezrat HaShem, in the days of Mashiah (hopefully very soon!) Purim will be the only holiday that we will celebrate out of all the hagim that we currently celebrate. From all the hagim, Purim seems to be the least serious one. Why would we ever designate it to be THE holiday that we will carry over to celebrate in the days of Mashiah? Pesah and Succot would seem more appropriate….

If we look closely, all the other holidays have an element of remembering supernatural  and miraculous things. On Pesah we remember the plagues that took place in Egypt as well as Keriat Yam Suf. On Shavuot we commemorate the giving of the Torah HaKedosha. Hanukkah is the festival of the lights that burned for eight days. Um, what’s the miracle of Purim? Meanwhile, THIS is the holiday we want to celebrate in the days of Mashiah when everything is a miracle?

Exactly. This is the holiday we want to celebrate in the days of Mashiah because the miracle of Purim is a hidden one. During the days before Mashiah, we celebrate hagim like Pesah and Shavuot to remember the time when there were once open and revealed miracle. However, during the times of Mashiah, when obvious miracles are being performed, we must not forget about the hidden miracles in our lives—and Barukh HaShem we have Purim to remind us of that.

 The story and miracle of Purim revolves around revealing what is hidden. Over and over again we see hints in the Megillah alluding to this point.  In fact, the word Megillah itself has the same root as the word nigleh, which means ‘revealed’. We also see that the identity of Ester HaMalkah is hidden as a Jew; That is why she is called Ester, which has the same root as the word nistar which means ‘hidden’. Put the two together, Megillah Ester, their meanings read Nigleh Hester….REVEAL WHAT IS HIDDEN! HaKadosh Baukh Hu also remains hidden in the story; the name of HaShem does not appear once in the entire Megillah. Of course, the entire miracle of Purim is one that is hidden.

Therefore, if we look deeper into the text, we can understand further Purim’s message of revealing the hidden. At the end of the Megillah, when Kelal Yisrael begin to feel their salvation coming, they are able to go out and eliminate the entire nation of Amalek. However if we inspect the words of the pesukim, Ahashverosh never gave Benei Yisrael the permission to actively go out and take the initiative to kill Amalek; he only gave them the permission to defend themselves in the case Amalek should attack first.

Benei Yisrael was just literally on the brink of annihilation, and now they have the courage to overlook the king’s instructions and wage war with another nation?! How are they justified in doing such a thing?

The Ponevezh (Ponevitch) Rav, who founded Benei Berak, once asked the Hazon Ish why it was that when it came to collect money for universities, people would write a one-time ten million dollar check and the university was set, but when it came to Yeshivot, he would have to go door to door and ask each person for a contribution, in which case they would give him donations of eighteen dollars or thirty six dollars and the like. The Hazon Ish gave him a brilliant and inspiring answer.

On the way to the Arei Miklat (cities of refuge that somebody who killed by accident is able to run to) there would be signs along the way giving directions of how exactly to get there. However, nowhere in Eress Yisrael were there any signs directing us to the Beit HaMikdash! Why was this so?

Think about it. If murderers were walking around Eress Yisrael knocking on ear door asking where the nearest Ir Miklat is, then all the families would be exposed and desensitized to something like murder. ‘Oh, where are you going? An Ir Miklat? Why would you be going there, you murdered someone?’ and the more Benei Yisrael would have this conversation, the more they would think murder is a common thing and become more accepting of it. It is for this reason that HaShem instructed us to give them directions to the Ir Miklat; the murders would go straight there without asking anybody any directions and it would not be known. Conversely, there were no signs leading to the Beit HaMikdash so that when people would go around asking for directions, all Benei Yisrael would hear is about the Beit HaMikdash and be compelled to go visit themselves. (Likewise, when universities get a one-time donation, HaShem does not want its name to go around too much, but when we have to work hard going from person to person to ask for contributions for a Yeshiva, we are spreading the name of Torah among Benei Yisrael).

When Benei Yisrael initiated the war with Amalek, they were being proactive about Rasson HaShem, the Will of HaShem, and that is why it was okay for them to do so. They went around spreading the name of HaShem, they set out to sanctify the name of HaShem in this world and do what He asks of us. Our task in this world isn’t to just wait around for things to happen, we must get up and do them! We must take the initiative to spread Torah and Midot and reveal them; otherwise, they will remain hidden. From Purim we learn that although things may seem quiet on the surface, in actuality, there is much more going on that meets the eye, we just have to look to find them. And when we find them, we must make them known!

Be’Ezrat HaShem, may we all develop the koah, inspiration, passion and initiative to spread Torah and be Mekadesh Shem HaShem in this world. In that zekhut may this be a month of simha, berakhot and yeshuot. May all our difficulties turn into our biggest sources of joy and celebration! Purim is a very strong time for tefilla, May HaKadosh Barukh Hu answer all our tefillot leTova uleBerakha!!!!


Ariella Samimi
Based on the wondrous teachings of Rabbi Schiffenbauer

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Parashat Tessaveh- Don't be Resilient; Be SILENT

Parashat Tessaveh- Don't be Resilient; Be SILENT

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33. And on its bottom hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson wool, on its bottom hem all around, and golden bells in their midst all around.

לג. וְעָשִׂיתָ עַל שׁוּלָיו רִמֹּנֵי תְּכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי עַל שׁוּלָיו סָבִיב וּפַעֲמֹנֵי זָהָב בְּתוֹכָם סָבִיב:

34. A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, on the bottom hem of the robe, all around.

לד. פַּעֲמֹן זָהָב וְרִמּוֹן פַּעֲמֹן זָהָב וְרִמּוֹן עַל שׁוּלֵי הַמְּעִיל סָבִיב:

35. It shall be on Aaron when he performs the service, and its sound shall be heard when he enters the Holy before the Lord and when he leaves, so that he will not die.

לה. וְהָיָה עַל אַהֲרֹן לְשָׁרֵת וְנִשְׁמַע קוֹלוֹ בְּבֹאוֹ אֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ לִפְנֵי יְ־הֹוָ־ה וּבְצֵאתוֹ וְלֹא יָמוּת:

Did you know that Parashat Tessaveh is the only Parshah in the Torah since the birth of Moshe Rabbenu in which the name of Moshe does not appear (with the exception of the book of Devarim, which consists wholly of a first-person narrative spoken by Moshe Rabbenu himself). Says the Baal HaTurim, the reason for this is that, when Benei Yisrael sinned with the Egel, the Golden Calf, Moshe Rabbenu said to Ribono Shel Olam: 'If You do not forgive them, erase me from the book that You have written'. Thus, the name of Moshe Rabbenu does not appear in this Parasha; instead, the main focus of the Parasha is the Kohanim.

Among eight special garments that a Kohen Gadol wears, one of them is a robe with alternating pomegranates and bells fastened to the bottom in order to make a sound before he enters the Kodesh Kedashim (literally the holiest place in the world).

Did HaKadosh Barukh Hu not know that the Kohen Gadol was approaching that he had to be announced?

The Midrash Raba answers this question.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said: There are four things which HaKadosh Barukh Hu hates, and I too dislike them... [the fourth thing is,] one who enters his house suddenly (withtout announcing himself, usually by knocking....)--all the more so when he enters his neighbor's house....

From the bells and pomegranates on the Kohen Gadol's robe, we learn to knock before entering a room in order to show respect to those inside. Yet, we can learn even another lesson from these bells and pomegranates on the Kohen Gadol's robe.  While the bells signify the use for our ability to make sound, the pomegranates represent silence; they do not make any noise.

There are times in life when staying quiet is the smarter course to be taken. Haz''al teach us that if words are worth one coin, silence is worth two. Sometimes it is better not to speak.

But why? Wouldn’t it be more helpful to speak up and clarify things? Staying silent is the last thing that can help a situation! The more I explain, the more clear things become….no?

In the Talmud, there is a concept known as ‘shetika ke’hoda’ah’. Silence is accepting. When somebody would speak in court and nobody would object, it is considered as if they agree to the verdict. What we have to understand about being silent in the face of life is that when we do so, we acknowledge a situation and we are accepting of it. When we feel the need to respond, we are essentially saying we object, we think we know better. Sometimes it is not our job to respond, sometimes we have to give in and agree to the challenges we face. By doing so, we are able to move forward.

Rabbi Akiva and his students were on a voyage where they had to cross a body of water in order to proceed. As the students reached the other side, there was no sign of Rabbi Akiva; they thought he drowned. As the students began to mourn the passing of their beloved Rav, Rabbi Akiva swims onto shore. Amazed, they ask him,’ Rebbi! We thought the waters took you! How did you manage to make it out alive?’ ‘Simple,’ he answered. ‘I held on to a plank of wood and anytime a wave came, a bent over instead of fighting it.’

From Rabbi Akiva we learn a powerful lesson. When we encounter a wave in life, we shouldn’t try to resist it; it will take over us. Instead, we should bend over and accept what is in front of us, and once the wave passes over, we can continue to swim. This is exactly the reason why Aharon HaKohen is deserving to wear the bells and pomegranates. He embodies this silence of acceptance that is so important for us to have. When he hears the news that his two dear sons were burnt to death because they sinned, the very day the Mishkan was being dedicated, the pasuk says ‘VaYidom Aharon’. Aharon was silent. Upon hearing possibly the worst news in his life, Aharon HaKohen didn’t object, he didn’t get upset at HaShem, he didn’t scream and cry and pity himself. Aharon HaKohen didn’t try to change what happened; he accepted what happened with trust that this was what Ribono Shel Olam wanted for him. This is why he was fitting to be the Kohen Gadol. This is why he was deserving of an entire Parasha dedicated to him.

In life, we are going to have to go through what we have to go through, we might as well do it in a positive, happy way! Accept what your life is, and think of the best way to go through with it. I assure you that fighting it won’t get you farther than if you were to go with the flow and genuinely make the best of what you were given. If we even realized how many berakhot we are given in life, we would never dare to speak up and ask otherwise, we would be silent in deep humility and appreciation for what we have been given.

Be’Ezrat HaShem may we all develop the humility to understand that HaKadosh Barukh Hu knows what is best for us and constructs our life based on this, and it is not our job to object and try to change it. May we all learn to accept what we are given graciously and make the best of it!

Although silence is a beautiful thing, one of the times where we should not be staying quietis during Zemirot Shabbat Kodesh! Sing your heart out loud!

Wishing everybody a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!!

Ariella Samimi

Based on teachings of Rebbitzen Ginzberg, Rebbetzin Stern and Rav Millstein