MidrESHET Hayil

Friday, May 31, 2013

Parashat Shelah-He Who Puts You To It Will Pull You Through It

Please learn the following Devar Torah for the ilui Neshamah of Shemuel ben Daniel. Tehei Nishmato Serurah beSeror HaHayim.

Parashat Shelah-He Who Puts You To It Will Pull You Through It

8. If HaShem desires us, He will bring us to this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey.

ח. אִם חָפֵץ בָּנוּ ה' וְהֵבִיא אֹתָנוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת וּנְתָנָהּ לָנוּ אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר הִוא זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ:

In an interview with 'G', one of the soldiers of Commando 13- not only the best soldiers in the country, but the best soldiers in the universe- he was asked about a certain mission that ended with a big loss.
 'Tell me, isn't this an embarrassment to soldiers such as you?' the interviewer asked. 'G' answered in a serious tone. 'You're asking at a command level,' he said. 'They told me to go, and I went. And if tomorrow they tell me to go again, I'll go and get hit again.'

When a person is on a mission, there is nothing stopping them. They do what they have to do because they know that a higher, more intelligent authority is guiding them. Even though the mission seems scary, and even though we don't know what we are getting ourselves into, and even if it may seem pointless or harmful to us, we do it. Why? Because we know that there is obviously a reason why we are being asked to do such a thing. I'm sure 'G' did not know what was awaiting him when he was asked to go on his mission, but he got up and went. He had to fulfill his mission.

Parashat Shelah (pronounced 'Shlach' by some) is spelled שלח. It means 'to send'; 'Send for yourself spies'. These spies were sent on a mission, just like we are in life. When they get back and start discouraging Benei Yisrael from entering Eress Yisrael, Calev jumps right in and reassures them 'If HaShem desires us, He will bring us to this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey.' He tells them, I know you are scared, I know you don't know what to expect, I know you think that you have it better now, but trust me, if HaKadosh Barukh Hu wants something for you, He will set it up for you. You're on His mission. Not only will He put you to it, but He will pull you through it.

Sometimes we are put in a situation, but we don't know why we are placed there. Sometimes we think to ourselves that no good can come from it….so we are reluctant to take action. Even more, has ve'Shalom we start to despair. Sometimes we think there is no way out. This is when שלח turns to חלש, weak.

But we must remember, we are messengers. We are sent on a mission and we must fulfill it.

 If you ever find yourself in a situation, know that HaKadosh Barukh Hu put you there. Ask yourself,
'Whose messenger am I right now? What does HaShem want from me right now?' You will find great answers. You will find direction. You will find strength.

You will complete your mission.

The entire thing is not to be afraid. We see in the Parashah what happens to someone who is afraid. Selaphehad is killed because he cuts down wood on Shabbat. He was mehalel Shabbat; he aborted his mission. His own name indicates his fear. 'Sel Pahad'- afraid of his own shadow. Don't be afraid. Just do your mission. HaShem will surely lead the way, He will take you to a land of milk and honey.

Be strong. If you can't be strong for yourself, be strong because people look up to you, be strong because your strength will be passed down to your descendants. The strength you draw will reach farther than you think. When HaKadosh Barukh Hu changes Sarai Imenu's name to Sarah, Sarah objects, HaShem! I worked so hard for this yod in my name, I passed ten trials for this yod- I was dragged in to G'rar, I was given to Pharaoh, I was barren for decades, I'm not prepared to let go of the yod. I suffered for it! How can I replace a yod, which equals 10, with a heh, that equals 5?

Not to worry, says HaShem. All that ability to withstand trials I'll pass on to your descendant who wil need it one day; I will pass it on to Yehoshuah bin Nuun. And this is exactly why in this Parashah, HaKadosh Barukh Hu adds a yod to Hosheah's name, to make it Yehoshuah. HaShem transfers this strength of Sarah Imenu to Yehoshuah, so that when he does enter Eress Yisrael, he will have the ability to withstand any trials there.

We must understand that HaKadosh Barukh Hu was going to give Benei Yisrael the land of Eress Yisrael anyways, THEY asked to place spies for themselves, THEY created their own worries and problems. HaKadosh Barukh Hu already had the best set for them, they just were unsure and afraid and thought by taking matters into their own hands they could calm themselves down. All they really had to do was wait; they would get there shortly. But by pushing it, not only did they become more afraid and discouraged, but they made their wait even longer- 40 years!

Sometimes, while waiting for things, we become impatient. This impatience leads to anxiety. We start doubting, start asking too many question, start going around in circles, but all we have to do is just WAIT. It's that simple. You're on a mission, realize that. Fulfill it.

When a baby is hungry, he begins to cry and cry. He doesn't stop until the baby bottle reaches his sweet little mouth. But all until this point, even when his mother is preparing his milk for him, he continues to cry. He doesn't realize that this whole time his mother is preparing food for him. He only stops once he directly gets what he has been crying for. We are the same, we cry and cry, even when HaKadosh Barukh Hu is preparing our yeshuah(deliverance) for us, we don't realize that all along He is in the midst of preparing it for us. We only stop when we get what we haveve been asking for. And then we start crying again for something else….

Be patient. Be strong. If HaKadosh Barukh Hu wants something for you, don't worry, He will help you get it. We might not understand the process while we get there, but know that anything you face, you're a soldier of HaShem, you're on His mission.

Mission Complete.

May we all gather the koah, the strength, to withstand our trials and grow from them. May we realize Who our Commander is. May we fulfill our missions to the best of our ability. Be strong!

Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!

Ariella Samimi
Based on the teachings of HaRabbanit Yemimah Mizrahi

Make Your Neshamah Fly!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Parashat BeHaalotekha- Free Fish? Something’s Fishy….

Parashat BeHaalotekha- Free Fish? Something's Fishy….

5. We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt free of charge, the cucumbers, the watermelons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.

ה. זָכַרְנוּ אֶת הַדָּגָה אֲשֶׁר נֹאכַל בְּמִצְרַיִם חִנָּם אֵת הַקִּשֻּׁאִים וְאֵת הָאֲבַטִּחִים וְאֶת הֶחָצִיר וְאֶת הַבְּצָלִים וְאֶת הַשּׁוּמִים:

The Missvah of 'BeHaalotekha' is given to Aharon HaKohen, when he 'goes up' to light the Menorah. This Missvah was given to him specifically now because in last week's Parashah, when the twelve representatives of each Shevet brought a korban, Aharon HaKohen did not bring one. He felt deprived of such a Missvah; he also wanted to serve HaKadosh Barukh Hu!....and this is why he was given the beautiful Missvah of lighting the Menorah each and every day. 

This very feeling also translated to those in Benei Yisrael who were given the opportunity to bring Korban Pesah again during Pesah Sheni. A group of people came to Moshe Rabbenu and told them because they lived far or were impure, they were not able to bring Korban Pesah on Pesah itself and felt deeply deprived that they couldn't bring it the first time. They begged for a second chance. They did not want to miss out on such a beautiful Missvah!

In this Parashah, there is also another group of people who feel deprived; except they feel deprived of food. A few times in the Parashah, Benei Yisrael ask Moshe Rabbenu to provide them with meat and vegetables. One of these times, they remind Moshe Rabbenu that they once even had fish for free in Misrayim!

What do they mean? They didn't even get simple straw for free in Misrayim, how could they possibly have gotten fish for free there! Anyways, the mahn they ate could taste like anything they wanted, they could have just wished for it to taste like fish, what's the problem here?

Could Benei Yisrael seriously be complaining about food? They obviously had fish available to them….they weren't really asking for fish; they were complaining about something else.

The Sifri says that when Benei Yisrael say we remember the fish we got 'for nothing', it meant without the responsibility of the Missvot.  Now that Benei Yisrael were obligated to observe the Missvot, their sustenance was dependent upon observance. In Misrayim, they still haven't received the Torah HaKedoshah, it was 'easy' for them there, but now that they received the Torah, it felt 'burdensome' to them, so much so that the Rambam says that in this Parashah, Benei Yisrael left from Har Sinai like children run from school; they did not want to learn anymore, they did not want to hear about anymore Missvot.

This was one of the things that Benei Yisrael didn't do right in the Parashah. Yet, the Torah is so sensitive not to show Benei Yisrael in a negative light that even though we 'sinned' once more, that it doesn't want to list them one after another. To separate these two incidents, the Torah interjects two pesukim in between. How?

Famously, the pesukim of 'VaYehi B'Nsoa HaAron' are added right here in between the two 'wrongdoings'. These two pesukim are enclosed by nuun hafoukhim, upside down nuuns (נ), sometimes backwards. Rashi explains that these nuuns are to indicate to us that this is not the proper place for these pasukim.  Really there are 7 books of the Torah: the portion from the beginning of Sefer BaMidbar until now is one Sefer, these two pasukim are another Sefer, and the rest of Sefer BaMidbar is another Sefer; altogether this is three Sefarim, plus the other four Sefarim of the Torah really makes seven.

The Keli Yakar explains that the word 'nuun' means fish. A fish naturally turns toward the water, it does not want to stay out of the water for even a second; the water is its life source! A backwards nuun, a backwards fish, swims against the water's gradient, against is natural environment. When Benei Yisrael turned away from Har Sinai like school children, they were 'swimming' away from their life source! We acted as a backward nuun - a backward fish!

That explains why the nuun is backwards, but why are they both upside down? The Me'am Lo'ez points out that these two nuuns refer to 'Na'aseh ve'Nishmah' which both start with the same letter nuun. Benei Yisrael's hasty departure from Har Sinai rendered their 'Na'aseh ve'Nishmah' as void. Their 'Na'aseh ve'Nishmah' was flipped over. They wanted fish for free! They wanted to eat without having the responsibility of Missvot; no proper shekhitah needed, no cleaning meat, no waiting six hours after meat to eat dairy. They wanted to eat 'freely'.

Do we feel that some Missvot are burdensome to us, or do we feel that when we do not have the opportunity to do them, that we are deprived of them? Are we passionate about Torah uMissvot or do we do them by rote? Do we wake up in the mornings and recite 'Modeh/Modah Ani' with deep gratitude and vigor, or do we mumble it and go back to sleep? Do we refrain from eating bread because Birkat HaMazon feels like a burden? Do we not daven because those extra fifteen minutes will lose me customers in the store? Or does it feel the other way around? These customers are getting in the way of my davening! Barukh HaShem I have yet another opportunity to bless and thank HaShem! We must realize, MISSVOT ARE A PRIVILEGE!

Don't do things passively. Even a fish that is not alive will appear to be swimming along a river, but that is because he is being carried along by the water's current; he does no work of his own. But who wants to be a dead fish? We are supposed to be those live fish! The ones that swim!

Aharon HaKohen wasn't excited to light the Menorah each day because it was made of one, smooth and elaborate piece of 24 karat gold; he was excited because, even though he would be lighting the Menorah each and every day the same thing over and over again, he had the opportunity to serve HaKadosh Barukh Hu in such a beautiful way. Even after 40 years, he was still as passionate about it as he was the first day!

There was once a man passing by a field, and he saw a Rav with his tefillin on milking a cow. He thought to himself, Wow, look at how this man disrespects his tefillin, he does his davening while he milks his cows! He said to himself, this can't be…. He thought again,Look at how much this Sadik elevates his work! Even when he milks his cows he has tefillin on!

We are supposed to continuously be doing Missvot and stop only to take care of our physical needs, not the other way around. The Shelah HaKadosh has a concise berakha, 'HaKadosh Barukh Hu, please allow me to learn Torah and do Missvot, and anything that gets in the way of me doing so (Parnassah, Health, Shalom Bayit) please take care of it for me!'

We must be passionate about the Torah! It is our life source! Just like we eat three times a day to feel satisfied, we must be involved with Torah and Missvot just as often, if not more, in order to satisfy our Neshamah. When we hear our stomach rumbling, we immediately get up, prepare a delicious meal and take our sweet time to eat. But do we feed our Neshamot this way? Are we so careful with the needs of our Neshamah and tend to it any time it is hungry? Food for thought….

Be'Ezrat HaShem may we get our priorities straight. May we develop such a passion for doing Missvot until a point where if we don't do them, we feel truly deprived. May we feed our Neshamot better than we feed our bodies. May we be those live fish that swim with such intensity at great lengths! May immerse ourselves in Torah, which just like water to a fish, is our life source. In this zekhout may we be blessed with all that is good!

Wishing every special Neshamah a beautiful Shabbat Shalom u'Mevorakh!
Ariellah Samimi

Make Your Neshamah Fly!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Shavuot 5773- If You Think The Torah is a Story Book, You Might Want to Take Another Look


Shavuot 5773- If You Think The Torah is a Story Book, You Might Want to Take Another Look

Think about the person you love most. Don't you just want to know everything about them? Don't you want to know how you can get to know them better? To bond with them closer? To spend every second with them?

In this entire world, who do we love most? HaKadosh Barukh Hu! But we can't see Him, we can't feel Him or hear Him….how could He expect us to know Him, let alone to love Him?

There is a story of a King and his Wife who have been writing love letters to each other back and forth. When the king discovers that his beloved wife has been unfaithful to him, he sends her away. After many years, he begins to miss her and decides to forgive her. To his surprise, when he calls her back, he finds her sitting there still waiting for him. He asks her, 'My Beloved! How were you able to wait for me for all these years?' She answers 'Your love letters. I read them to myself everyday and realized how much you really love me. It helped me get through all this time.'

The Torah is HaShem's love letter to us. He asks us 'Eikh hentamtem li kol ha'Shanim?'How did you wait for Me all these years? And we answer to HaShem, your love letter, your Torah got us through all these years!

Without the Torah HaKedoshah we would be completely lost.

The Torah serves us two main purposes: to become familiar with the missvot in order that we can do them and elevate ourselves, and it also is the main conduit through which we can know HaShem and become closer to Him.  The deeper we study  Torah, not only do we become proficient in knowledge and halakhot, but the closer we become to the Being that we love most in the entire world!

Haz"al tell us that Shavuot is considered to be a wedding between HaShem and Benei Yisrael. HaKadosh Barukh Hu is the groom, we are the bride, and the Torah HaKedosha is our Ketubah. Shavuot has no Sukkah and no Massah. So what are we supposed to bind to in order to feel the hag? HaShem himself! In order to do that, we must become familiar with His 'instruction manual', the Torah, to understand how He really works. We must understand that learning Torah isn't the main goal we try to reach, it is only the means of acquiring our goal: to become closer to our hatan, our groom, HaKadosh Barukh Hu Himself! A zoug, a couple, doesn't bind to the Ketubah in a marriage, they bind to eachother! The Ketubah is just a legal document. Likewise, we don't just bind to the Torah, we bind directly to HaShem Himself.

The first word of the Aseret HaDibrot, the Ten Commandments, is Anokhi. The Talmud (Shabbat 105a) says that this is an acrostic that stands for Ana Nafshi Katvit Yahavit,  which means 'I have written myself into this book that I am giving you.' HaShem is giving us the answer, RIGHT HERE! You want to become closer to Me? You want to find Me? Look for Me in this Sefer that I am giving you! I'm right inside!
This is why the event at Har Sinai is called Matan Torah, the GIVING of the Torah, and not Kabbalat HaTorah, the ACCEPTING of the Torah. HaKadosh Barukh Hhu gave us the Torah. It doesn't mean everybody accepts it. It is in our hand to do the accepting. Every Year.

We accept the Torah over and over again every year.  It is not something that happens automatically. It is something we must do ourselves. We are almost like converts that take the Torah upon ourselves by choice.

This is why we read Megillat Rut on Shavuot. Rut was born into the nation of Moav, she wasn't born into Benei Yisrael. She marries the son of Naomi, a Jew. When she sees the beauty and Emet of the Torah, she tells Naomi that she is ready to give up her life as a wealthy princess in Moav (during a time of a powerful famine) and to convert, staying with Naomi who was reduced to poverty over the years.
When Naomi tries to discourage her, look what Rut says

וַתֹּאמֶר רוּת אַל־תִּפְגְּעִי־בִי, לְעָזְבֵךְ לָשׁוּב מֵאַחֲרָיִךְ; כִּי אֶל־אֲשֶׁר תֵּלְכִי אֵלֵךְ, וּבַאֲשֶׁר תָּלִינִי אָלִין, עַמֵּךְ עַמִּי, וֵאלֹהַיִךְ אֱלֹהָי׃
בַּאֲשֶׁר תָּמוּתִי אָמוּת, וְשָׁם אֶקָּבֵר; כֹּה יַעֲשֶׂה ה' לִי וְכֹה יֹסִיף, כִּי הַמָּוֶת, יַפְרִיד בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵךְ׃
But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back from following you. For where you go, I will go; where you sleep, I will sleep; your people are my people, and your G-d my G-d; where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may G-d do to me, and so may He do more, if anything but death separates me from you. (Rut 1:16-17)
The first time I read this I really had tears in my eyes. If a goya from the lowest nation in the world, who is not even allowed to enter Kelal Yisrael realizes how important HaKdosh Barukh Hu is, is so committed to the Torah, loves HaShem this much, WHY CAN'T WE DO THE SAME?
Rut's name is comprised of the letters resh, vav, tav, which add up to a numerical value of 606. Every human being in the world, whether or not they are part of Kelal Yisrael, must abide by the Sheva Missvot Benei Noah, the Seven basic Missvot given at the time of Noah for all of humanity (not to steal, not to kill….).  If we add those seven commandments to the value of her name, we get 613, the number of Missvot in the Torah.
The essence of Rut was the discovery and acceptance of the 606 Missvot she was missing. If we could learn to emulate Rut in passion, acceptance and commitment to the Torah, we are fitting to receive the Torah just as it was giving on Har Sinai and absorb all the kedushathat the hag has to offer. Every Year.

Be'ezrat HaShem, May it be HaShem's will and ours, that we develop a heshek, a passion for the Torah and accept it upon ourselves again each and every day on the same level that we once accepted it on Har Sinai. May we understand that the Torah HaKedosha is anything but a simple book; it's what is the direct connection between us and HaShem; take advantage of ituse it to its maximum. If you want to become close to HaShem, indulge yourself in the teachings of the Torah, there you will find Him. We have been counting for so long since Pesah, the time is finally here! Make the most of it! Enjoy your cheesecake, but realize that there's so much more to this hag than we realize. Draw as much kedusha from these days as possible and harvest it for the rest of this year until next Shavuot, where iy''H we will celebrate Shavuot in the Beit HaMikdash, Amen!

!!!!חג שבועות שמח

Make Your Neshamah Fly!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Parashat BeHar BeHukotai- The Product of the Land is Not From My Hand


Parashat BeHar BeHukotai- The Product of the Land is Not From My Hand

Imagine a world where you know HaKadosh Barukh Hu exists, but there is no such thing as missvot. You would wake up in the morning, no Modeh Ani, no Netillat Yadayim, no davening. Then you would proceed to eating breakfast, no berakhot before food, no berakhot after. Comes time for Minha; nothing to say here. Feels weird, right? How would we connect to HaShem in such a world? He seems so distant this way! Since we do missvot automatically, sometimes we don't stop to consider what life would be like without them—empty. Do you see now how doing missvot are the prime connection between us and HaShem? Missvot are constant opportunities to bond with HaShem. If we didn't have missvot, has ve'Shalom it would be so easy to forget HaShem within even a day. Missvot serve as constant reminders that HaKadosh Barukh Hu exists and that He is the One in control.

One such missva is that of shemitah. In Parashat BeHar, we learn that every seventh year in Eress Yisrael, every single Jew must stop working the land. For six years we work the land, and HaKadosh Barukh Hu promises us that if on the seventh year we refrain from working the land, He will bless us with an abundance of three times what grows each year—one for the sixth year, one for the seventh year, and even one for the year after, the 'eighth'  year.

Out of all the missvot given on Har Sinai (that's why this week's Parashah is called 'BeHar'- 'On the Mountain'), why is shemitah so important that it is mentioned especially now? It only applies to farmers working the land, and only to those in Eress Yisrael! But we all learn something so important from shemitah that it becomes the entire basis for accepting the entire Torah.

In Talmud, a farmer is known as 'Emunah'. More than any other profession, a farmer requires the most Emunah in order to be successful. After planting a seed, other than watering it, there is not much else in his control to ensure that his crop will grow abundantly. He can only pray. A farmer relies on his Emunah. When HaKadosh Barukh Hu, in His infinite wisdom, commands us to take every seventh year off from working the field, He is telling us, It is not you who makes it all happen, it is all ME. When the crop grows well, it's not because you picked the best soil and the best seeds and watered it just the right way, it's because HaShem makes it that way! Even if you take an entire year off from working the land, not only do you not lose out, you gain threefold! Only Bitahon has the power to achieve this.

This is why the pasuk says 'Ki Tavo'u el ha'Aress ASHER ANI NOTEN LAKHEM', 'When you come to the land that I AM GIVING YOU'. HaKadosh Barukh Hu is giving us this land, it is not the product of our hands! Sometimes, when we work very hard on something, it becomes very tempting to think that it was our own efforts that got it for us, 'Kohi ve'Ossem Yadi Asah Li Et HaHayil HaZeh'. But this indeed is not true. HaShem, and HaShem only is the one giving you all this berakhah. If a person truly understands this, they have no problem taking a year off from working in order to learn Torah and focus more on their ruhani, spiritual side. If anything, what a privilege!

Okay, but most of us aren't farmers. What can we do to demonstrate this special Bitahon in HaShem? Shemitah is every seven years, but we have something even more often that we may not realize has the same concept behind it—Shabbat Kodesh! Every seventh day, we take a day off from working and declare, HaShem, YOU are the one who is in control, not me. Whether or not I work does not make a difference, all my berakhah comes from YOU. Today I will rest from physical work so I can have the privilege of indulging in my Neshamah's needs, since I know that my physical needs are already being taken care of by YOU HaShem. And of course, we all know, whoever does not work on Shabbat in fact gains more during the week—on many levels. Shabbat isn't something designed to make us feel restricted, it is  truly a gift from our Abba in Shamayim who is telling us, Don't worry, take the day off today, take care of what really matters, I've got the rest covered.

What we have to realize is that whether it be on Shabbat Kodesh or shemitah, HaShem Yitbarakh does not need the work of our hands; He can instantly replicate it Himself. What He wants from us is our Emunah, Bitahon, and adherence to His Missvot. That can only come from us, HaShem won't do it for us. 'HaKol be'Yedei Shamayim, Huss me'Yiraat Shamayim'; Everything is from Heaven except for Fear of Heaven itself. We are blessed with every seventh day, and every seventh year to do just this—to work on things that we in fact, are in control of.

This is why in Parashat BeHukotai we have a choice, 'Eem beHukotai Telekhu', IF you go in the ways of My missvot. What does this mean? That we can choose whether or not we do the missvot. IF we do them, HaKadosh Barukh Hu promises us that we will be blessed, and IF not, then has ve'Shalom, the opposite. Again, HaShem controls the entire world, but the only thing that is in our control is the choosing how much Yiraat Shamayim, Fear of Heaven, that we have.

Some people feel that by doing the missvot they are sacrificing a lot, and by putting all our faith in HaShem they are risking too much. But this is not true! Sheker! Exactly by devoting ourselves to HaShem and putting our lives in the Hands of HaShem who is far more powerful than us will we yield all the more berakha. If we rely on our own limited efforts, we will bear limited results. But if we let the Master of the entire world take care of it for us then don't you think you will end up with much more?

The most expensive coffee and cake in a hotel in the city costs around 150 dollars. I'm not sure why somebody would spend that much but if a worker in the same hotel takes a lunch break, the owner of the hotel tells him he could take whatever he wants for free and to enjoy it. Decide, do you want to be an independent businessman who has to always support himself fully, or do you become a devoted worker of an all powerful corporation and enjoy all its perks?

Be'Ezrat HaShem may we all come to the realization that we are devoted workers of HaShem and because of this, we may benefit from every privilege and enjoy from every pleasure that comes along with it. May we understand that Bitahon is a direct funnel from us to HaShem in Shamayim that brings to us all the berakhot in the world; just like the pipe can't have any holes or damages in it, neither can our Bitahon, otherwise, we lose out on what was supposed to originally come to us. May our Bitahon be complete! In this zekhout, may we merit every berakha directly from Shamayim and realize where it is truly coming from!

Wishing every beautiful Neshamah a Shabbat Shalom u'Mevorakh! Enjoy this special privilege!

Ariellah Samimi

Make Your Neshamah Fly!