MidrESHET Hayil

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pesah 5773- Don't Let the Bread Rise This Vacation, YOU Be the One to Rise to the Occasion!


Devar Torah Pesah 5773-
 Don't Let the Bread Rise This Vacation, YOU Be the One to Rise to the Occasion!

Ingredients for Massah: flour and water.

Ingredients for Bread: flour and water.

Um, if the ingredients for Massah and hamess are exactly identical, then why in the world are we running around since before Hanukkah time searching for every bit of bread and hamess in every corner and crevice of our homes when it's made of EXACTLY the same thing as Massah? What's the difference??

To be considered hamess, flour from the five grains and water must come into contact for over eighteen minutes and fermentation has to have occurred. Massah then is flour and water that has been in contact for less than eighteen minutes and no fermentation has occurred. Even though they are both made of literally the same ingredients, the thing that differentiates massah from hamess, which if eaten during Pesah is punishable by karet(where the soul gets cut off), is nothing but TIME. The factor that accounts for one's soul to be eternally cut off from its source isn't flour and it's not water, it is TIME. If flour and water are in contact for even one second over the eighteen minutes, they are rendered hamess, and anybody who eats it is deserving of karet, Lo Aleinu, Lo Al Af Ehad. One second makes the difference of not only life and death, but of Neshama and no Neshama. ONE SECOND.

In fact hamess (חמץ) and massah (מצה) are so similar, that if you look closely, they are made of basically the same exact letters; they both have a mem (מ), both have a sadik (צ), and one has a hey (ה) while the other has a het (ח). Look at the letters. Hey (ה) and het (ח) are exactly the same shape, it's just that the het (ח) in hamess has just that one little extra piece on the left side connecting it to the top while the hey (ה) doesn't. Just one extra piece.  Just one piece that turns 'massah' to 'hamess'. Just one extra second that makes massah turn into hamess. Just ONE second.

The message of Pesah is clear: time is of the essence.

Haz"al teach us, Missvah Ha'Baah Le'Yadekha Al TaHmissenah
 מצוה הבאה לידך אל  תחמצנה .When an opportunity to do a missvah arises (no pun intended), don't let it delay, don't pass up on it. Do it right away! The word TaHmissenahhas the same root as the word hamess. When we leave something to do for later, when we delay the missvot we could be doing right now, we are making them into hamess; we render them invalid and inexistent. I'm actually realizing right now that the word Missvah (מצוה) looks just like the word massah (מצה). When you have massa in your hands, don't let it turn into hamess; when you have a missvah to do, do it within the eighteen minutes, don't delay even one second, because you may very well end up with useless hamess in your hands.

When you wake up in the morning, daven right away! Don't wait until eleven o'clock to say Berkhot haShahar. When you get your paycheck, separate ma'aser right away! If there is a Sefer you've been meaning to read, go buy it and start reading it, don't push it off! If you have to call relatives to wish them a Hag Sameah, don't push it off! When you get a Devar Torah in your e-mail, don't push it off, open and read it right away!! ; D When a missvah comes your way, don't let it delay!

This exactly is the middah of zerizut, of alacrity. Being a zariz (somebody who exemplifies the middah of zerizut) does not mean that you do things quickly to finish them off; things will not get done properly this way, and you will probably have to work double to correct the mess you made the first time. I'm sure you have heard the quote 'haste makes waste'. There is a Farsi saying 'Adameh Tambal Doh Bar Kahr Mikoneh'; a lazy person works twice. He works once quickly thinking he got the job done, and he works a second time to compensate for the lack he left the first time. Being a zariz means doing things efficiently, getting them done in time to the best of your ability.

When Benei Yisrael left Misrayim, they didn't just do it quickly. They did it well thought out and planned. When they left, they left with dough on their shoulders. That means the dough was prepared before they left, they weren't measuring out a cup of sugar and checking the eggs as they tied their belts and slipped their shoes on to dash out the door. Think, think well, then do. Once our actions are well thought out we are able to then carry them out efficiently.

Being a zariz also means doing these things with enthusiasm! It's not about just doing the act, it's about the willingness to act! Don't do things with resent, don't drudge around or make faces. Rise to the occasion! When there is something that must get done get up and go! Do it! Yalla!! If you're going to do it anyways, better that you do it with joy!

When we sit around the Seder table, it becomes very tempting to mumble through theHaggadah or to take a nap while the head of the household drones through the passages. But it is written in the Haggadah itself, Bekhol Dor va'Dor Hayav Adam Lirot et Assmo keilu Hu Yassa Mimisrayim, in every generation a person must see himself just as if he is leaving Egypt right then and there. Engage yourself, get involved, get others involved! Do it with enthusiasm! Really imagine and feel yourself leaving from the bondage of Misrayim on your way to physical and spiritual freedom.

Be'Ezrat HaShem, in this zekhout may we all merit freedom from our own personal bondage, big and small, and merit a Geulah akin to that of Benei Yisrael in Misrayim. May HaKadoah Barukh Hu answer all our tefillot le'tova u'le'berakha anytime we call out to Him, without delay! May we all develop the middah of zerizut to do missvot and hesed in this world with alacrity and enthusiasm! May we be the massah in this world and not the hamess! And finally, May we be zokhim to bring forth the Geulah with Mashiah ben David THIS YEAR IN YEROUSHALAYIM, AMEN!!!!

!!!!חג פסח כשר ושמח

Ariellah Samimi
Based on the beautiful shurim of Rebbetsin Ginzburg and Rebbetsin Kalazan

Make Your Neshamah Fly!

Friday, March 22, 2013

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 beconsistent! 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!!!!
Ariellah Samimi

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

Inspiration: Rabbi S. G. Ginzberg

Make Your Neshamah Fly!

Friday, March 15, 2013

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

Make Your Neshamah Fly!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Parashat VaYak’hel-Pikudei- A Few Words Can 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. 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 Neshamah a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!!!!
Ariellah 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!

Make Your Neshamah Fly!

Friday, March 1, 2013

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

Please learn the following for the Refouah Shelemah of Sarah Miryam bat Tamar,  Avraham Yossef ben Sultana, and Michelle bat Simin and the ilui Neshamah  of my grandfather, Ataollah ben Elazar. Todah Rabbah!

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

Mi'She'Nihnas Adar Marbim BeSimhah! Adar is the month of happiness, and Pourim 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.
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….

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 Parashah will help us do so….
In the beginning of Parashat Ki Tisa, 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 INDIVIDUALLY 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. HaKadosh Barukh Hu gives us so SO much! Do we realize this? 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 Midrash 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 zekhout of this past Pourim and in the zekhout 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 Simhah of Pourim last us through the year!
Ariellah Samimi
Based on the passionate and inspirational teachings of Rav Milstein

Make Your Neshamah Fly!