MidrESHET Hayil

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Parashat Lekh Lekha- Go Even Though You Don’t Know


Parashat Lekh Lekha- Go Even Though You Don't Know


6. And he believed in HaShem, and He accounted it to him as righteousness.

ו. וְהֶאֱמִן בַּה' וַיַּחְשְׁבֶהָ לּוֹ צְדָקָה:


I was to once supposed to move into an apartment for a short while, and the night before the

big move, I was told that I would no longer be able to move in. How can you change this last minute? I asked. To ease my discomfort, I kept thinking about reasons how or why this could be happening. I thought I had it all set, I was so excited to move in. I understood though that HaShem wants it this way and so of course, I accepted the situation. I thought some more and realized something. It didn't all change last minute, it was supposed to happen this way all along, HaShem just revealed it to us last minute.


Sometimes in life we think we know exactly how things are going to go, and other times, we have absolutely no idea what HaKadosh Barukh Hu wants of us, but regardless, only HaShem knows what will truly happen and the fact of the matter is that to us this is concealed.


Even our own Avraham Avinu (at this point known as Avram) faces this fact! The Ribono Shel Olam tells Avram at the beginning of the Parashah, 'Lekh Lekha Me'Arssekha….El HaAress Asher Ar'eka'. Go for yourself from your land…Go!! To where? Just go!! I'll show you the way... To the land that I will show you….


AVRAM AVINU HAD NO IDEA WHERE HE WAS GOING!! HaShem tells Avram to get up and go, and he goes. He doesn't as questions, he doesn't complain, he doesn't cut corners or give excuses. He says, HaShem this is what you want? This is what's best for me? I'll do it.


For this, HaKadosh Barukh Hu says to Avraham Avinu 'I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will exalt your name; and you will be a blessing.' Rashi explains that this was a guarantee of offspringwealth and reputation, respectively. Why?


When one is constantly traveling (as Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imenu were instructed to do), it is exactly those three things that he or she is unable to do. How can Avraham Avinu's wife bear a child if they are too busy constantly relocating themselves from one place to another? How can they possibly amass wealth in a city where they are not established? Even more so, how can they attain a reputable name if they do not live somewhere long enough for others to even recognize them? Yet Avram Avinu had so much Emunah in HaShem that He will lead them and take care of them and fulfill this promise.


In life, sometimes HaShem asks up to get up and go even if He doesn't tell us where. Next time you don't understand what can come of a situation or how you would even get out of it, next time you are confused or terrified or want to give up hope has ve Shalom, remember that you're not seeing the whole picture; you're not meant to, HaShem intends it to be this way. The destination is already planned for us in advance, only it is just revealed to us later on. Only HaShem knows everything, He sees the big picture. If He asks you to go, get up and go, what's the difference if you know the destination or not if you're still going to the same place? HaShem does this so we could gain rewards and benefits along the way and that we can come to an understanding of things on our own along the way of this journey without it being spelled out to us. If we knew in advance, we would only mentally acknowledge the facts of our lives and it stops there, but this way, this beautiful way, we personally internalize everything that goes on in our lives, our experiences very much become part of us. Don't worry about the destination, focus on making the best of your journey. Just accept life with open arms and don't think you are the one who chooses it all. You don't choose your destination, but you choose how you are going to get there. Go where HaShem guides you; not anywhere else—and do it with love, appreciation and beSimhah! Do what you think is right, do what you think is required of you, and the rest will be covered. Have the Emunah that HaKadosh Barukh Hu will send you the good you deserve regardless of if you think it would even be physically impossible to receive it. Avraham Avinu had the Emunah that even though there seems to be absolutely no possible way for him to receive offspring, wealth and reputation that it would happen. Just look who his descendants are today.

                Be'Ezrat HaShem may we develop the steadfast Emunah and Bitahon that HaKadosh Barukh Hu is constantly guiding our lives even though we ourselves don't know where we are headed. May we trust that He knows best for us, and lovingly and willingly accept what He chooses for us.  BH like this we will never have to worry about anything at all, just only that we should be doing the right thing and having proper Yiraat Shamayim and a thriving relationship with the Ribono Shel Olam. May we always recognize the Hashgahah, Divine Providence, in our lives and be appreciative of it!! In this zekhout may we merit the coming of Mashiah ben David beKarov, Amen!

Wishing everyone a very special Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!

Ariellah Samimi

Make Your Neshamah Fly!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Parashat Noah- Noah, the DeLEGate for Kindness


Parashat Noah- Noah, the DeLEGate for Kindness


This week we commemorated Shimon HaSadik's Hiloula/Yahrzeit. Who is Shimon HaSadik you ask? He is the one who said 'The world is stands on three things: On Torah, on  Avodah ( 'Service' which refers to Tefillah), and on Gemilout Hasadim (Acts of Kindness)' (Mishnah in Pirkei Avot 1:2 ). Rabbeinu Yona explains that 'the world stands' on these three things means that these three virtues are the purpose of creation; creation happened in order to bring these things into being.


Haza''l teach us that Noah and his sons did not sleep for all twelve months since they always had to be up to feed the animals. Noah and his sons worked tremendously hard in order to ensure the comfort and survival of these animals Rashi brings forth a Midrash on Parashat Noah that Noah was once late to feed a lion so the lion bit him in the leg. WHAT? But look how hard Noah was working! How come HaKadosh Barukh Hu planned it this way that the world had to be destroyed through a flood and Noah would have to work so hard to build a Tevah (Ark) and gather all these animals and take care of them? We see in Parashat Bereshit that HaShem created the world just by willing it to happen this way, why didn't He destroy the world using the same method? Do you know how much work Noah had to do in order to complete what HaShem required of him?? What was the point of making Noah work this hard and what does it mean that a lion bit him in the leg because he was fed late?


Let's find out.


The Midrush teaches us that up until the time that the Torah HaKedoshah was given, there was no 'Torah' required of us that Shimon HaSadik refers to. Likewise, before the Mishkan was built, we had no Avodah, Service, that we were required to do. The only thing that we were required to do was the third leg of Gemilout Hasadim, Acts of Kindess, that the world relies on. Until the Torah was given and the Mishkan was built, the world solely depended on Gemilout Hasadim. Rashi brings the Gemara in Sanhedrin that tells us, although the generation of the Maboul, flood, was guilty of many sins, the Maboul was brought only on the account of the 'hamas' that was in the world, because of the corruption, theft and cheating  (the opposite extreme of Gemilout Hasadim) that went on between people. Since they did not hold up the only pillar that the world relied on, there was no purpose for the existence of such people. This is why the Ribono Shel Olam decided to completely erase these people. This is why He sent the Maboul.


Noah and his family were the only ones that did enough kindness in the world and so HaShem did not want to get rid of them. They were therefore given the enormous task of restoring this kindness, this Gemilout Hasadim, in the world. This is why HaShem did not simply destroy the world as easy as He had created it—there was a rectification to be done. This is why Noah had to work so hard.


Okay but poor Noah, couldn't he at least keep his leg?


We just learned that the world stands on three legs. During Noah's time, the world stood on one leg-- that of Gemilout Hasadim. When Noah was late to feeding the lion, he was weakening the hold on the world's sole leg. When Noah weakened this leg, HaShem weakened Noah's leg. This was a reminder to him to do his task right, to strengthen the leg that the world stands on.


Noah had to go to great lengths to ensure that the kindness in this world was rebalanced. Given the magnitude of his task, feeding the lion late was an infraction of his job. This shows us how important Gemilout Hasadim, acting kind and sensitive to others is. Noah was chosen to perpetuate kindness in the world but we have to take over after him in fulfilling this mission. In reestablishing kindness in the world we cannot afford to slack off or be late, we cannot afford to create faults. Often times we tell ourselves, I am as kind as can be! I give Sedakah each morning, I open up my pockets anytime a person asks! Who can be kinder than me? or I am definitely doing my part with Hesed! Anytime I am asked I do exactly what others request of me, I make sure to do it just right! But even with all of this, our Sedakah and Hesed may not count has veShalom if we don't do it with kindness, with a smile.  When we are asked to do a Missvah, do we groan and moan and make faces that we have to do it? When a person asks for Sedakah do we just throw it in their direction and walk by? It is not enough just to do Hesed, but we must do it beSimhah! The person on the receiving end needs the warmth and kindness of another individual more than the actual accomplishment of what they are requesting of us. Even if we do not have enough time to offer to wash the dishes or if we do not have change in our pocket that day, we could still offer a smile and kind words, and this is more Hesed than anyone could ever ask for. Sometimes the smile and warmth is worth far more than the time or money we give others.


Haza''l tells us that every time we do a Missvah, we create a Malakh, an angel. What many of us don't know is that how we do the Missvah determines what kind of Malakh we create. If we do the Missvah or Hesed in a complete fashion—beSimhah Rabbah, without complaining or doing it halfheartedly—we create a complete Malakh that is Shalem If however, we do a Missvah not the most fitting way, it is true that we create a Malakh, but that Malakh will come out crippled, and who wants a crippled and deformed Malakh to escort and protect them? Not me.


The point is clear. Torah and Avodah are tremendously important, but without Gemilout Hasadim, the world cannot hold itself up. Just like a chair needs a minimum of three legs to stand up, the world needs three legs as well. Be'Ezrat HaShem, let's make sure that when we do our Torah and Avodah, that we can incorporate Hesed in there as well. Let all of our actions be in kindness, and in this zekhout, may we do the Tikkun for Noah's generation and rectify the amount of Hesed that must be brought to our special world. The quicker we are able to do this, the faster we will bring Mashiah Sidkenu BiMeherah BeYamenu, Amen!


BH the next time we have an opportunity for Torah and Avodah, let's make sure that we do it with warmth and kindness, with a GIANT smile and with diginity. Whether it is davening, respecting parents and elders, learning, giving Sedakah or anything else in Avodat HaShem, let us do it beMiddat haHesed!



Ariellah Samimi


Based on a Devar Torah from Geshmak Torah at www.gtorah.com

Make Your Neshamah Fly!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Parashat Bereshit- Here’s Something About Nothing.


Parashat Bereshit- Here's Something About Nothing.


My family and I had gone out for dinner to a restaurant. As we were sitting waiting for our meal, I took a few sips from the glass of water sitting in front of me. My brother of course, chugs the whole cup. When our waiter returned with a new ice cold pitcher of water, he only filled my brother's cup, not mine. I took this personally--I was offended.  I realized though that the waiter only pours water in the cups that are empty, not the ones that are already half full, even if we drank from it already and wanted a slight refill. Here I learned something valuable which quenched my thirst more than water could:


Only something empty can be filled.


In Parashat Bereshit, the Ribono Shel Olam reveals to us how He, in His Infinite Wisdom, creates the world. HaShem takes nothing and makes it into matter, in which He them forms into the world. HaShem didn't make the world based on matter extracted from somewhere else; the source of the world is pure nothingness. This is a very deep concept to think about.


Rabbi Tzvi Freeman says something so beautiful. If I tried to paraphrase it, I would do him no justice, so I will include an excerpt from what he writes:

'In the beginning, [HaShem] created everything out of nothing. He could have decided to make everything out of something, but He knew that nothing is better material than something. Because something is already whatever something is, but nothing can become anything.

That's why, at least as far as this universe is concerned, the only way to become a real somebody is by being a nobody first.'

Wow. You don't know how many times I read this passage. This is such a profound statement.


Only an empty person can be filled. One of my Rebbeim once told me this. The Ramba''m says the same thing, too, in Iggeret Ramba''m. 'Tashpil Et Assmekhah veYisa'unkha HaMakom'—you lower yourself and HaShem Himself will raise you up.


HaKadosh Barukh Hu could have started writing the Torah HaKedoshah from any other point. Rashi points out that technically, we should be starting from the first Missvah of Rosh Hodesh. But in actuality, we don't do this. HaShem wants us to know that before we begin doing any Missvot, before we want to learn any Torah, we must make ourselves into an empty vessel that can only be filled (with pure and holy things, of course). The moment we fill ourselves up with an ego, the more we fill ourselves up with anything else, the less capacity we have of being filled with what actually matters. That's when we really will become empty, Has veShalom.


HaShem's main concern isn't just keeping the Missvot-- it's our wanting and willingness to keep them. It is our dedication to them. It's how much we open ourselves up to be receptive of them, how much we fill ourselves up with them and not with other nonsense. This is what matters to HaShem.


Something that can help us achieve this is knowing what this vessel that we have to fill is made of. When HaKadosh Barukh Hu forms Adam, He literally blows of Himself into Adam to give him a breath of life. When I blow into something, part of me exists in that something, in that vessel, right? So doesn't that mean when HaShem blows into Adam that part of HaShem exists within him? And since every single one of our Neshamot are part of Adam's original Neshamah, doesn't that mean that we have part of HaShem inside us? Now, do you see it fitting to fill yourself up with anything other than Torah, Missvot and Simhah? I think not.


Part of HaKadosh Barukh Hu resides in each and every one of us. We must know this and always remember it. We are all filled with G-dliness. Knowing this, how could we ever think of placing anything else inside us that doesn't level up? Would you ever put diesel fuel in a Ferarri? No way! Has veShalom!! Only premium! You wouldn't want to ruin your most prized possession, would you? Our Neshamot can't handle diesel, we require nothing less than premium.


Before Adam eats from the Ess HaDaat, the Tree of Knowledge, the Torah tells us that he was made of 'Or'. After he eats from the tree, the Torah tells us that HaShem cloaks him in 'Or'. What's the difference? Before Adam fills himself up with what he's not supposed to, he is dressed in 'Or' spelled with an Alef—he is dressed in 'light'. After he eats from this apple, he still wears a garment of 'Or', except now, it's spelled with an Ayin. This changes the entire meaning of the word. He is now dressed in 'skin'. He loses his shine. He filled up with diesel, not premium.


Nowadays, were not doing much better. Rabbanim are always warning us to stay away from iphone, ipad, ipod ('ipaid'….too much). This is our generation's biggest yesser hara and distraction. This is what our generation fills itself up with. Let's be honest, most people own at least one of these devices (I actually own an ancient ipod myself that is rusting in the depths of some drawer somwhere). Did you think what company this all comes from? You guessed it. Apple.  We are filling ourselves up with Apple and its contemporaries. It's ironic how our first sin was with an apple, and yet we continue to sin with the very same Apple. We don't need an app to tell us this. Don't lose your shine. Don a garment of 'Or' with an Alef, not an Ayin.


Be'Ezrat HaShem, may we learn to humble ourselves in front of HaKadosh Barukh Hu so that we can be filled up and raised by HaShem Himself. May we develop the right priorities in life. May we realize what we are truly made of and the potential that we have. May we become more in touch with the 'Helek E-lokit MiMaal'- the 'G-dly Part from Above' (our Neshamah) which is embedded within each and every one of us. We are made 'BeSelem E'lokim', in the 'Form of HaShem'. Rabbenu Behaye in Hovot HaLevavot explains that it is not enough to just resemble HaShem physically, but we must act like Him too and resemble Him spiritually. Let us do just that.


Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh! BH we are already starting the year off wonderfully!!

Ariellah Samimi


Disclaimer: I have nothing against the Apple company. I admire their innovation. However, the amount of emphasis we place on their products or any other technological device, regardless of its company, is almost ridiculous. We have to start living in the real world, not a cyber one. Remember, 'Or' (light), not 'Or' (skin). There's a difference. Don't settle for diesel when you have premium.


Gosh, life was so much more simple when Apple and Blackberry were just fruits…. ;D 

Make Your Neshamah Fly!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Parashat VeZot HaBerakhah- Ivdu Et HaShem beSimhah!

Parashat VeZot HaBerakhah- Ivdu Et HaShem beSimhah!

5. And Moshe, the servant of HaShem, died there, in the land of Moab, by the mouth of HaShem.

ה. וַיָּמָת שָׁם מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד יְהֹוָה בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב עַל פִּי ה':

Over Sukkot, I couldn't help but to keep humming (okay, singing out loud—like, real loud) the song to 'Ivdu et HaShem beSimhah'—Serve HaShem in Happiness. Of course the emphasis of this pasouk is placed on the word 'HAPPINESS' by most people, even me, but I want to focus a little on the word 'Ivdu'—'Serve'.
                At the end of his life, HaKadosh Barukh Hu refers to Moshe Rabbenu as an 'Eved HaShem' the 'Servant of HaShem'. In the pasouk that informs us of Moshe Rabbenu's passing, this is the way HaShem wants him to be seen and remembered as—a servant of HaKadosh Barukh Hu. What does this mean? Out of all things,  a servant? Not a trustee? A confidant? Rav Elchanan Wasserman brings a Rada''k that explains that just as a servant is there to always fulfill his mater's every wish, this is how Moshe Rabbenu served HaShem—HaShem's will was Moshe Rabbenu's will, there were no questions. Moshe served HaShem with his entire self—his heart, Neshamah, body, abilities and volition. It wasn't that Moshe Rabbenu was doing his own thing, and on top of that also served HaShem completely. He was completely for HaShem, there was nothing else that was of his interest.
                The Ramba''m says that each and every one of us can be just like Moshe Rabbenu. WHAT? Are you serious? Yes I am. Maybe we cannot reach the spiritual heights that he did, but Rav Wasserman explains that we can dedicate our entire selves to HaKadosh Barukh Hu just like Moshe Rabbenu did. Moshe Rabbenu gave his entire being to HaShem Yitbarakh and look where he it got him. Rav Wasserman is here to tell us that we are capable of devoting ourselves on this level as well.
                Sukkot is one of the hagim that we are able to serve HaKadosh Barukh Hu with our entire selves—in more than just one way. Rebbetsin Kohan taught me that there are two Missvot where we are able to perform with our entire bodies. One is the Missvah of Mikveh, where we immerse our entire selves in natural water. The other one is the Missvah of Sukkah, where we enter the Sukkah with our entire bodies and live there for seven days. In this way, the Sukkah is akin to the purifying effects of the Mikveh. There is also another way of serving the Ribono Shel Olam with our entire selves on Sukkot, and that is with the Lulav and Etrog. Huh? But don't we just shake it with our hands for like two seconds and that's it?
Let's learn what the Lulav and Etrog are all about. We learn that each of the Arbaah Minim, the Four Species represent our main parts of the body. The Etrog represents our heart, the Lulav represents our spine, the Hadas represents our eyes and the Aravot represent our mouth. These are the main faculties by which we serve HaKadosh Barukh Hu. When we shake the Lulav and Etrong were saying, HaShem, here is all of me. Here are all my limbs. I am dedicating them to You. I am all Yours.
Sukkot is a time of year that is the most and least materialistic at the same time. While we basically live in a hut for a week, we are given a Missvah to eat the best meats and wine, to wear new clothing and don fine jewelry. This makes sense though. We are supposed to take these material things and elevate them. We must use them only to serve HaShem completely, not for our own personal benefit. This is how HaShem wants us to serve Him. The last letter of the Torah, in Parashat VeZot HaBerakhah, is Lamed. The first letter of the Torah HaKedoshah, in Parashat Bereshit, is Bet. This spells Lev; heart. We can learn the Torah back and forth, but the connecting factor, the thing that keeps it going, the thing that creates the link in the cycle is none other than our 'Lev', our heart. This is what matter most to HaShem. So now, we aren't only serving HaShem, we're serving Him with our entire heart--beSimhah, with Happiness. This takes us back to our original pasouk, 'Ivdu et HaShem beSimhah!'

To me, Zot HaBerkhah—This is the Berakhah.

Be'Ezrat HaShem, May we all be zokhim to become servants of HaShem in the true sense of the word. May we devote ourselves whole heartedly to HaShem, our Creator and serve Him not only completely, but with immense joy and happiness as well. This Sukkot may we elevate ourselves and all our belongings to serve only HaShem. This upcoming Simhat Torah may we dance our hearts out with the Torah HaKedoshah, overjoyed that we have such a treasure. May we reach levels as high as Moshe Rabbenu and may we spend all our days in true Avodat HaShem! In this zekhout may we merit the ultimate Avodah—that of the Beit HaMikdash—BE'KAROV, AMEN!

Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh and a most marvelous Hag!
Ariellah Samimi

Information and inspiration by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Make Your Neshamah Fly!