Saturday, December 27, 2008

Yevanim Nikbitzu

יְוָנִים נִקְבְּצוּ עָלַי אֲזַי בִּימֵי חַשְׁמַנִּים, וּפָרְצוּ חוֹמוֹת מִגְדָּלַי וְטִמְּאוּ כָּל הַשְּׁמַנִים. וּמִנּוֹתַר קַנְקַנִּים נַעֲשָׂה נֵס לַשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים, בְּנֵי בִינָה יְמֵי שְׁמוֹנָה קָבְעוּ שִׁיר וּרְנָנִים

“The Greeks gathered against me, then in the days of the noble ones [the Chashmona’im]. They breached the walls of my towers and defiled all the oils. But from the one remnant of the flasks a miracle was wrought for the roses [Bnei Yisrael]. Men of insight – eight days they established for song and jubilation.” (Maoz Tzur)

The Kedushas Levi, Reb Levi Yitzchak Mi’Barditchav, asks an intriguing question: What's the reason that Chazal established an obligation for us to light Neiros Channukah for these 8 days-corresponding to the neis (Miracle) of the Menorah that occurred back in the day? Why don’t we have the same thing by other nissim that we’ve had- like by Pesach and Purim? Why aren’t we told to do some type of Mitzvah with water on the 7th night of Pesach , since that night was Kriyas Yam Suf (The splitting of the sea)? Or some Mitzvah with wood (eitz) on Purim for the neis of the hanging of Haman (al ha’eitz)? And the things we DO commemorate on Pesach weren’t even for nissim! The Maror is for the bitterness of our experience as slaves in Egypt; the Matzah is a sign of our freedom; since we left so quickly, the dough didn’t have time to rise…! So what's the chiluk (distinguishing factor) between the neis of Chanukah, for which we have a specific commemoration. And other nissim of Yom Tov, for which there is no obligatory commemoration?The answer he gives is moradik (awesome)! The other nissim done for Klal Yisrael were done for the purpose of saving us. Those nissim were the vehicle through which Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim, and saved us from being wiped out by Haman harasha. But the neis of the oil was more special (so special that there is an obligatory practice of lighting candles to commemorate it, and we even daven a full Hallel!). Through this neis we were given a glimpse of how much Hashem cherishes our efforts in serving Him, in our observance of His Mitzvos. The explanation is like this: The Halacha is that if someone is an oness (something out of his control impedes his ability to perform a certain mitzvah) he is pattur from doing that Mitzvah. The Gemarah in Brachos even says that if he thought about doing the Mitzvah, and then something prevented him from doing it, it’s as if he actually did it! So once the one day worth of oil they found was used up, they were pattur from the Mitzvah! And still, Hashem made a neis and had the oil last for another 7 days- This is a clear showing of the chiba (preciousness) Hashem feels (kevayachol) towards his children’s avoda (service). The Miracle of the oil wasn’t necessary- it was totally extra- an expression of love.
~
(Top pic courtesy of
ChabadTalk.com)
(Bottom pic courtesy of
AishAudio.com
)

Monday, December 22, 2008

You Gotta Check This Out...

PLEASE check out this post on my friend's blog. I think its important everyone sees this...
B'lev Echad
[And while you're there feel free to check out other vortlach and stuff on his blog-He's got some pretty juicy stuff on there]

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Zara Chaya


זַרְעָא חַיָּא וְקַיָּמָא, זַרְעָא דִּי לָא יִפְסוֹק וְדִי לָא יִבְטוֹל מִפִּתְגָּמֵי אוֹרַיְתָא

“…Offspring that live and survive, offspring who will not interrupt and who will not cease from the words of the Torah.” (Yekum Purkan-[Shabbos])

This Tefilla, which praises those who involve themselves in Torah, follows the Torah reading on Shabbos. It blesses them with offspring that will constantly be involved in Torah. Why is it so important for the children to "never interrupt" and "never cease" from the words of the Torah? Why does the Tefilla find it necessary to use this double lashon? I heard a mashal (parable) from R' Nissan Kaplan Shlit"a that I think will shed some light on the issue. It goes as follows: Someone has a hot water urn filled with water that they want to heat up. They plug it in for 5 minutes and then unplug it while they go out of the room for something. They return 10 minutes later and plug it back in for another 5 minutes before they are interrupted once again. This goes on until the urn has been plugged in for a total of 25 minutes and yet, the water was still cold! They wonder how this could be! They know their friend had their urn plugged in for just 10 minutes and their water was boiling hot! He assumes the plug must be broken and he tries it somewhere else... The mashal goes on but I think the point is clear. The only way for someone to make a real kinyan (acquisition) in Torah; to have Torah really affect their life, is with consistency. 'The sum is greater than all of its parts.' An hour of learning straight is exponentially greater than 3 scattered 20 minute shifts.
When we leave the Beis Medrash we shouldn't 'unplug' ourselves from the Torah we learn there. As we kiss the Mezuza on the way out we should have in mind that we are taking the Beis Medrash with us. Only with this mentality will we be able to achieve real d'veikus with Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Being an emesdike Eved Hashem (a true servant of G-d) is a constant job without rest. Hashem has blessed us with a constant opportunity for gaining meaning, accomplishment, and ultimately-eternity.
~
(Top pic courtesy of
here
)
(Beis Medrash pic courtesy of Shor Yoshuv)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Melech

וְיֵדַע כָּל פָּעוּל כִּי אַתָּה פְעַלְתּוֹ, וְיָבִין כָּל יָצוּר כִּי אַתָּה יְצַרְתּוֹ, וְיֺאמַר כֺּל אֲשֶׁר נְשָׁמָה בְּאַפּוֹ, ה' אֱלֺקֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֶלֶךְ, וּמַלְכוּתוֹ בַּכֺּל מָשָׁלָה

“Let everything that has been made know that You are its Maker, let everything that has been molded understand that You are its Molder, and let everything with a life’s breath in its nostrils proclaim: Hashem, the G-d of Israel, is King, and His kingship rules over everything.” (Rosh Hashana Shmoneh Esreh)



What's pshat in the 2 different terms used here? We have פָּעוּל, which means ‘made,’ and we have יָצוּר, which means ‘molded.’ The Malbim explains that these words refer to two different types of people on different levels. The word ‘made’ implies something imperfect that is continuously being worked on towards completion. On the other hand the word ‘molded’ implies a finished product that is faithful to its inner essence. So this Tefilla is referring to different types of people who will ultimately come to recognize the Borei Olam. First to a common, imperfect person, and then it goes on to someone who is more fully developed, closer to his/her shleimus (completion).
I believe it’s the Chovos Halevavos who speaks of the unbelievable simcha (happiness) that one achieves when he b’emes recognizes the existence of Hashem as his Creator and King. This amazing simcha stems off the recognition that we exist in this awesome world that Hashem has created, and even more so that we are His chosen nation, his beloved children As the passuk states: “Banim atem L’Hashem Elokeichem.” “You are children to Hashem your G-d.”
~
(King pic courtesy of
here)
(Sunrise pic courtesy of
here
)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Avinu Malkeinu (or U'vini Mal'kieni)

[When I found out the words to this song a while back I was shocked! It was so pashut! How did I not get it!?]

אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ, פְּתַח שַׁעֲרֵי שָׁמַיִם לִתְפִלָּתֵנוּ

"Our Father, our King, open the gates of heaven to our prayer." (Avinu Malkeinu)

What are we trying to accomplish by praying? If Hashem knows everything, and He gives us exactly what we need at any given moment, then what are we praying for? If someone Chas Veshalom is sick, then that's how its supposed to be no? Hashem isn't making them sick for no purpose. I'm sure Hashem has His reasons, who am I to ask Hashem to change the way things are? Why attempt to change perfection? There are many answers to this connundrum (I don't know if that word fits but I like it so why not?) but I'll share with you one very fundamental one that I heard some time ago. I believe its from Rav Dessler.
When we pray, we aren't saying "G-d, in my humble opinion, I think You are doing things a little wrong. Let me help You out and tell You what has to be changed..." Of course not! Who are we to second guess G-d?! So the point of tefilla is as follows: According to where we are holding in our Yiddishkeit, (spiritually) at any point in time, Hashem is tending to our needs perfectly. So by us davening, we are basically saying "Hashem, I know You give me everyrthing I need, and I would be nothing without you, but I want to uplift myself by praying to you, bringing myself closer to You, and as a result I am not the same person I was when I started praying. I am a new, better person. So all those things that I've been experiencing, I don't deserve them anymore, I'm a different person now!" Sometimes Hashem may even send certain hardships our way just to remind us to pray to Him, to gain a closer connection with Him-because that is what we should be constantly working on.
That is one of many explanations- please, if you know of any others, feel free to share with the velt.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ve'amar Bayom Hahu

וְאָמַר בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, הִנֵּה אֶלֺקֵינוּ זֶה, קִוִּינוּ לוֹ וְיוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ, זֶה ה' קִוִּינוּ לוֹ, נָגִילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה בִּישׁוּעָתוֹ
"And [His nation]will say on that day:Behold, this is our G-d; we have hoped for Him, that He would save us. This is Hashem; we have hoped for Him; we shall rejoice and be gladdened at His salvation." (Yeshaya 25:9)

We speak about the times of Mashicah where Hashem will make Himself known to the entire world and everyone will have absolute clarity as to what is the truth. But R' Tzadok Hakohen speaks of a person having his own personal Geulah. The real Geulah that each one of us can have is to come to the realization on our own that Hashem is in complete control over every single little detail of the universe and that everything has a purpose, everything. Once we come to that realization we reach this unbelievable simcha and a state of euphoria of having absolute clarity and closeness with Hashem. But how do we accomplish this? We look at a blade of grass blowing in the wind. Seemingly there is no significance to this, how can we really get to the point where we truly believe and know the emes-that this little blade of grass is being controlled by Hashem and that there is a purpose for it swaying back and forth exactly the way it is? The reason why we aren't in tune with this recognition is because in our own lives we don't recognize the importance of each and every moment we have and action we take. If we can't recognize this within ourselves, then how would be sensitive to recognize it in everything around us?! The only way to have that awareness of Hashem's constant involvement in this world is for us to work on our own lives; work on calculating all of our actions and how we spend our time throughout the day. Once we become a baal (owner/controller) over our own lives, then and only then will we be able to recognize the significance of every little detail of the world around us. Once we reach that point we can really bring Hashem into our lives and feel his presence constantly.
~
(Pic courtesy of GreenView)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Toras Hashem Temima

תּוֹרַת ה' תְּמִימָה, מְשִׁיבַת נָפֶשׁ, עֵדוּת ה' נֶאֱמָנָה, מַחְכִּימַת פֶּתִי

"The Torah of Hashem is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of Hashem is trustworthy, making the simple one wise." (Tehillim 19:8-Pesukei D'zimra for Shabbos/Yom Tov)

At Har Sinai, when Hashem began to tell us the first of the Aseres Hadibros (10 Commandments)the experience was so awesome that our souls left our bodies. That is, all of Bnei Yisroel passed away. What restored life to our people? The Torah did. THIS is what this Passuk in Tehillim means when it says "Toras Hashem temima, meshivas nafesh". "Hahem's Torah... restores life".
Now this is a nice idea, but in reality, how did it work? How did the Torah revive Klal Yisrael? The Sfas Emes explains that the Torah has this power of restoration because it is the vehicle through which Hashem chose to make His Presence manifest in the physical world. Therefore, by living a life based on Torah we are connecting to Hashem. This is what the Passuk means when it says that the Torah restored our souls. The Torah enabled us to re-establish our relationship with Hashem. Meaning the Torah does not only have the power of reviving us physically, but even to revive us spiritually; to (re)gain a closer relationship with Hakadosh Baruch Hu (especially after a Bein Hazmanim spent out of Yeshiva!)-which is ultimately our purpose here in this world. We should all be zoche to a real simcha (happiness) with our Torah this Simchas Torah, and we should feel that simcha throughout the year, inspiring us to immerse ourselves in Torah more this year than any year of the past.
~
(Top pic courtesy of the Jewish Outreach Institute)
(Bottom pic courtesy of flickr)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ata Vichartanu

אַתָּה בְחַרְתָּנוּ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים, אָהַבְתָּ אוֹתָנוּ, וְרָצִיתָ בָּנוּ, וְרוֹמַמְתָּנוּ מִכָּל הַלְשׁוֹנוֹת, וְקִדַּשְׁתָּנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתֶיךָ. וְקֵרַבְתָּנוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ לַעֲבוֹדָתֶךָ, וְשִׁמְךָ הַגָּדוֹל וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ עָלֵינוּ קָרָאתָ

"You have chosen us from all the nations; You loved us and found favor in us; And exalted us above all the languages, and You sanctified us with Your commandments. You brought us close, our King, to Your service and proclaimed Your great and holy Name upon us." (Shmoneh Esreh for Yom Tov)

"You have chosen us from all the nations..." A famous Medrash speaks of how Hashem offered the Torah to all the other nations before offering it to Klal Yisrael. As the Medrash goes, when Hashem offered it to each nation, they each replied "What's in it?" and Hashem responded with the one Mitzvah that that nation has trouble with. When Hashem offered it to Esav, for example, Hashem said that you can't murder, and that's what Esav is all about! When Hashem offered the Torah to Yishmael, Hashem said you can't steal, and that's what they do for fun! etc. etc. But When the Torah was offered to us, Hashem didn't say "You can't speak lashon hara" or any of the other major problems plaguing our nation today, he offered it and we accepted it. So why is that fair? Why does it seem that Hashem tried to avoid giving the Torah to all the other nations, but willingly gave it to us? There are many answers to this Q but the one that really hit home for me was this one: When Hashem offers you something, its gold! There's no need to ask questions! Maybe its not right for you?...impossible! Hashem would only give us the best of the best, He's Kulo Tov(completely good)! So when the other nations responded "What's in it" they were demonstrating their lack of trust in G-d. They were expressing their misunderstanding of the reality that G-d is The Man. Once they asked that question Hashem knew that the Torah wasn't for them. So He told them "Yeah you prob wouldn't want it anyway, you'll have to change yourself and work hard according to the restrictions that come with it..." But Klal Yisrael knew the deal. Hashem offered us the Torah and we responded "Naaseh V'nishma." "We will do and we will listen" We didn't even need to know whats in it, because we knew its for sure whats best for us. And that's why we were zoche (merited) to get it, because we knew the emes. We knew and still know today that G-d gives us only the best, never anything less.
~
(Pic courtesy of CAJE)

U'vchein Tzaddikim


וּבְכֵן, צַדִּיקִים יִרְאוּ וְיִשְׂמָחוּ, וִישָׁרִים יַעֲלֺּזוּ, וַחֲסִידִים בְּרִינָּה יָגִילוּ

"And so too, (When Mashiach comes) the righteous will see and be glad, the upright will exult, and the devout will be mirthful with glad song." (Shmoneh Esreh, Yamim Noraim)

The three types of man mentioned here; The righteous, the upright, and the devout, are three categories that men fall into. The Sfas Emes explains that they are listed in ascending order of worthiness. Righteous people (Tzaddikim) are those people who do the will of Hashem even when they “aren’t feeling it.” They push past their strong temptations for other things and they follow Hakadosh Baruch Hu even though they may not understand the Justice of His ways. The upright (Yesharim) are those people who have such perfect faith, that they never question God’s will or ways. As a result, they are in a constant state of joy; more so than the merely ‘righteous.’ [This is all according to Rashi’s opinion in the Gemara in Taanis 15a, that the upright are greater than the righteous. However, the Rashba over there holds that the righteous are greater. Seemingly this is because they have to put in more effort to go against what they want to do, and instead do what they know they should be doing. Someone who is constantly willing and joyful when it comes to his/her Avoda has less struggle, so the schar (reward) and accomplishment aren’t necessarily as great. -Unlike my Bio-Psych Professor, Hashem grades of effort.] And finally, The Zohar Hakadosh explains that the devout (Chassidim) are those who try to serve Hashem by doing more than the minimum requirements of the law; in effect they do Chessed with Hashem, kavayachol. So basically the moral is- We should all be Chassidim!!
~
(Pic courtesy of Judaic Art Exchange)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ein Kitzva

אֵין קִצְבָה לִשְׁנוֹתֶךָ, וְאֵין קֵץ לְאֺרֶךְ יָמֶיךָ, וְאֵין לְשַׁעֵר מַרְכְּבוֹת כְּבוֹדֶךָ, וְאֵין לְפָרֵשׁ עֵלּוּם שְׁמֶךָ. שִׁמְךָ נָאֶה לְךָ וְאַתָּה נָאֶה לִשְׁמֶךָ, וּשְׁמֵנוּ קָרָאתָ בִשְׁמֶךָ

"There is no set span to Your years and there is no end to the length of Your days. It is impossible to estimate the angelic chariots of Your glory and to elucidate the hiddeness of Your Name. Your Name is worthy of You and You are worthy of Your Name, and You have included Your Name in our name." (Chazaras HaShatz Yamim Noraim)

This piyut is drawing a sharp contrast between feeble man and Almighty Hashem. The one preceding it, which ended describing the mortality of man, read: “We are but a dissipating cloud… flying dust, a fleeting dream…” The first words of this piyut, however, seem superfluous. First it says “There is no set span to your years (Hashem)…” and then it says “…and there is no end.” These two phrases mean almost the same thing but there is a slight difference. A ‘set span’ refers to an amount of time, so we are saying that Hashem has no life span, as it were, of like a billion or a trillion years. An ‘end’ refers to a deadline; so in effect, we are saying that Hashem’s existence is endless; He has no beginning and no end, which is coincidentally the 4th of the Rambam’s Ani Maamins.
The piyut ends with “And You included Your name in our name.”
Here are a few explanations of this:
-The Last 2 letters of יִשְׂרָאֵל are 'א' and 'ל' ; a Name of Hashem.
-When the Torah names the families of the Jews in Bamidbar, Perek 26, the letters of Hashem’s name, 'י' and 'ה' are added to each name. For example: שָׁעוּל’s Family is called הַשָׁעוּלִי.
-If you spell out each letter of Hashems name ('י'and 'ה') You get yud, vuv, daled, and hei, and yud, and those letters spell out יְהוּדִי, Jew! (My favorite)
~
(Clock pic courtesy of CoolChaser)
(Kippa pic courtesy of
here)

Friday, October 3, 2008

I'm going to try to post some songs pertaining to Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succos/Simchas Torah over the next little while because I'll be having some extra time... Over Rosh Hashana davening I came across a buncha great ones. Once again if anyone has any requests please feel free to leave comments.
-CR

Monday, September 22, 2008

Achas Sha'alti

אַחַת שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵאֵת ה', אוֹתָהּ אֲבַקֵּשׁ; שִׁבְתִּי בּבֵית ה' כָּל יְמֵי חַיַּי, לַחֲזוֹת בְּנֺעַם ה', וּלְבַקֵר בְּהֵיכָלוֹ

"One thing I asked of Hashem, that i shall request: [Would that] I dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life, to behold the delight of Hashem and to visit His Sanctuary." (Tehillim-27:4)

These words are bursting with Torah. I’ve heard many amazing vortlach on the different parts of this Passuk but I'll only share one with you. (If anyone has any others to add please leave a comment. And maybe I'll end up adding more as well)
The Passuk begins: “One thing I asked of Hashem...” And then it superfluously adds “That I shall request.” What's the deal with the double lashon? Just say “The one thing I ask for is…” I heard a beautiful answer to this question from my Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Naftali Yeager Shlit”a. He gave a mashal: When a genie offers you one wish, for anything at all, your mind starts racing. You think to yourself “There are so many things I want; wealth, beauty, health, happiness, honor…” the list goes on and on. Finally you make your decision. You chose one of the many things you’ve taken into consideration, and give up the rest. That is how it works when dealing with a genie, but lehavdil eleph havdalos with Hakadosh Baruch Hu, the decision is easy. There are no cheshbonos, no calculations. If there is “One thing I ask of Hashem…This is the thing I want,” nothing else even comes to mind, the choice is clear. All I want is closeness with Hashem; a relationship with Avinu Shebashamayim.

Back!

Shalom Everyone,
Sorry it’s taken me so long to start posting again. I’ve been crazy busy with Yeshiva and college and what-not. Be’ezras Hashem I'll be posting at least a song a week from now on.
I hope everyone’s summer was great! Stay tuned…
-CR

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sorry...

Shalom Everyone!
I just wanted to inform the velt that today I will IY"H be leaving for camp and I will be gone for the next 2 months. I won't have my laptop with me so I wont be posting more songs till I get back. But have no fear- This gives everyone a great opportunity to chazer (review) all the songs posted thus-far, especially with all of the weddings going on this summer B"H!
Please feel free to leave comments with ideas for songs or any criticism whatsoever.
Kol Tuv- I'll miss you all...
--CR
ps. Make sure to "spread the words!!"

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ahavas Olam

אַהֲבַת עוֹלָם תָּבִיא לָהֶם, וּבְרִית אָבוֹת לַבָּנִים תִּזְכּוֹר

"A love that is eternal may you bring them, and the covenant of the forefathers upon the children may you recall." (Musaf for Rosh Chodesh)

My good friend, Rav E. L. Shlit"a, shared some ideas with me that he saw from Rabbi Zev Leff Shlit"a, explaining the two concepts mentioned in this Tefilla, namely: Ahavas Olam (Eternal Love), and Bris Avos (Covenant of the Forefathers). The Dover Shalom (Rabbi Shalom Rokeach, the first Belzer Rebbe) speaks about how this Eternal Love is referring to the times of Mashiach when Hashem's love for us will clearly be seen once we are no longer in exile under the subjugation of other nations. He also adds that with this Eternal Love and the covenant with our forefathers, Hashem will make the Mizbe'ach (altar) in the 3rd Beis Hamikdash eternal; there will never again be a churban (destruction). Another famous pshat, also told over in the name of the Dover Shalom, is that this bris mentioned here is the Bris Bein Habesarim that Hashem had with Avraham avinu, a covenant stating that Avraham's children will be many and basically that Hashem will ultimately redeem them, among other things. Finally- it is important to note that although the Zechus Avos (Merits of our Forefathers) may have run out according to Chazal, the Bris Avos is a Bris Olam, an eternal covenant.
B'derech agav- I've been attending a Kiruv Training Seminar over the past few weeks and in discussing proofs that the Torah was divinely written, and not made up by some guy, this concept of Bris Olam was brought up. If someone was trying to make up a Torah for people to follow, and claim that it was given to them by G-d, why would they take a chance and write that the Jewish people will last as a nation forever? It's a huge risk! Not only that but the Torah
continues to say things contradicting that prediction! It says how the Jews will be scattered around the world, they will be hated and persecuted! If I were trying to convince people that the Jews would last forever, I would say the total opposite! How will they ever survive if they are constantly persecuted and thrown out of their land? So it's pretty clear that no one in their right mind would make something like that up. So, like Abie Rotenberg said: "It had to be Hashem." (And btw- not only is it totally ridiculous for someone to make these contradictory predictions up, the crazy thing is-it's exactly what happened!!! Just look at Jewish History! A proof that Judaism is the true religion is simply the fact that we are still around. It's absolutely Yad Hashem (the Hand of G-d)! (Find out more about this typa stuff at Aish.com and Kiruv.com)
~
(Top pic courtesy of
Kumah.org)
(Bottom pic courtesy of HolocaustResearchProject)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yosis Alayich

יָשִׂישׂ עָלַיִךְ אֱלֺקָיִךְ, כְּמְשׂוֹשׂ חָתָן עַל-כַּלָה

"Your G-d will rejoice over you, like a groom rejoices over his bride." (Yeshayahu 62:5 words are changed around a little bit)

This Passuk (which is also mentioned in Lecha Dodi) is speaking of Hashem's relationship with Yerushalayim when once again His Shechina will rest within her In the coming of the Beis Hamikdash. The Malbim addresses an interesting question. If one looks at the relationship between Hashem and Yerushalayim/the Jewish people over the past 1939 years since the destructing of the 2nd Beis Hamikdash, it seems more like it will be a REmarriage when Hashem brings Mashiach to us with the 3rd Beis Hamikdash. It seems more like we are divorcees to Hakadosh Baurch Hu at this point-But from the Passuk it doesn't sound like that! Whats pshat? So The Malbim would like to say that from this Passuk we see that the future marriage between us and Hashem wont be like a normal remarriage, which isn't as filled with extreme joy as a regular marriage. Rather, the remarriage between us and Avinu Shebashamayim will be as happy and exciting as a newly married couple. We should celebrate this chasuna very soon BB"A.
~
(Pic courtesy of
JerusalemPartners
)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sos Asis

שׂוֹשׂ אָשִׂישׂ בַּה', תָּגֵל נַפְשִׁי בֵּאלֺקַי, כִּי הִלְבִּישַׁנִי בִּגְדֵי-יֶשַׁע מְעִיל צְדָקָה יְעָטָנִי, כֶּחָתָן יְכַהֵן פְּאֵר, וְכַכַּלָּה תַּעְדֶּה כֵלֶיהָ

"I will rejoice intensely with Hashem, my soul will exult with my G-d, for He has dressed me in clothing of salvation, in a robe of righteousness has he cloaked me, like a groom who axalts [himself] with splendor, like a bride who bedecks herself with her jewelry." (Yeshayahu 61:10)

Why is there a change in Hakadosh Baruch Hu's name? First it says "I will rejoice intensely with Hashem(Adon...)," and then it says "My soul will exult with my G-d(Elokai)."
So- it is a well known concept that Hashem's name is used differently in different places to pinpoint certain attributes of His. When the name "Adon..." is used it connotes Hashem's attribute of Rachamim-mercy. And when the name "Elokim" is used, it expresses Hashem's attribute of Din-Justice. That being said, Rabbi Yoseph Kimchi points out that in the first phrase the verb is in a double form, alluding to both the Guf (
body) and the Neshama (soul). Both of these aspects of a human being rejoice in G-d's mercy. The second phrase, however, is in singular form, and only the Neshama is mentioned. This is because only the Neshama, which can endure far more suffering that the Guf, can appreciate the attribute of justice and rejoice in it. [It, therefore, rejoices when it is purified by Hashem's attribute of justice]
וְטַהֵר לִבֵּנוּ לְעָבְדְּךָ בֶּאֱמֶת "May Hashem purify all of our hearts so we may serve Him fully in truth!!"
~
(Chuppah pic courtesy of
NeedlePointShop)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ko Amar Hashem

כֺּה אָמַר ה': זָכַרְתִּי לָךְ חֶסֶד נְעוּרַיִךְ, אַהֲבַת כְּלוּלֺתָיִךְ, לֶכְתֵּךְ אַחֲרַי בַּמִּדְבָּר בְּאֶרֶץ לֺא זְרוּעָה

"Thus said Hashem: I recall for you the kindness of your youth, the love of your nuptials, your following Me into the Wilderness, into an unsown land." (Yirmiyahu 2:2)

This passuk is referring to Klal Yisrael's amazing faith in Hashem when they followed Him into the desert after being taken out of Mitzrayim. They left without any food other than the Matza baking on their backs; not knowing how they were going to survive. They just knew one thing: Hashem was leading them in a certain direction, so that was obviously the best way to go. They knew, as we still know today, that Hashem would NEVER steer us wrong. If he asks something of us, we are guaranteed that not only are we capable of accomplishing it, but also that it's the best possible thing for us.
In the Torah when it talks about the holiday we call 'Pesach' it doesn't call it by that name. It is called 'Chag Hamatzos' The holiday of Matza. So why do we call it by a different name? I heard from R' Moshe Bamberger that the theme of Pesach is love. This difference in names is a sign of the "conflict" between us and Hashem as to how to approach Yetziyas Mitzrayim. We see it as a clear sign of Hashem's unlimited love for us. He rocked the Egyptians with 10 makos and on the last one he "passed over" (Pesach) us and only killed the Egyptian first born. So to celebrate this affection we feel from Hashem, we call the holiday Pesach. But on the flip side, Hashem sees it differently. He sees Yetziyas Mitzrayim as a sign of our faith and love for Him. He saw us rush to follow Him into an unsown land. We rushed so quickly that we didn't even wait for our bread to rise, and as a result, we have Matza. So that's why Hashem calls the holiday "Chag Hamatzos."
If only we were to realize how much Hashem loves us, life would be so much more enjoyable. 'Kol mon de'avid Rachmana, letav avid!!' Everything Hashem does is for the GOOD! The Boss is on our side! He's got our backs! We have it made!

~
(Top pic courtesy of TravelBlog)
(Bottom pic courtesy of DailyJews)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

L'maancha Elokeinu

לְמַעַנְךָ אֶלֺקֵינוּ עֲשֵׂה וְלֺא לָנוּ, רְאֵה עֲמִידָתֵנוּ, דַּלִּים וְרֵקִים. הַנְּשָׁמָה לָךְ וְהַגּוּף פָּעֳלָךְ, חוּסָה עַל עֲמָלָךְ

"Act for Your sake, our G-d, and not for ours, behold our [spiritual] position - destitute and emptyhanded. The soul is Yours and the body is Your handiwork; take pity on Your labor." (Yom Kippur Night - S'lichos)

The same question we asked by "Lemalla" we can ask again here (but this time ill give an answer). What does it mean "Act for Your sake, our G-d??" Hashem doesn't need us to tell Him what He needs to do for His own sake! Who are we?!
In the question we can see the answer... When B'nei Yisrael are on a low level, looking at hard times, non-believers mock and ask "Where is their G-d?!" Therefore on Yom Kippur night, when we are begging for our lives, we ask Hashem to help us for His Own glory. We don't deserve His mercy on our own merit because we are spiritually destitute, we are totally dependant on Him...Who are we?!
Teshuva is such a beautiful gift that Hashem has given us. In human court, we can beg, plead and apologize all we want, but if we damaged someone, the damage has been done, you can't take it back. Ma she ein kein Hakadosh Baruch Hu, with his limitless mercy, gave us the ability to totally erase any wrongdoing we've done! To not take advantage of this opportunity (which we have all day everyday, not just during the Yamim Ne'oraim) would be a real shame. Hashem is just waiting for us to return to Him(Teshuva- the root is shuv; to return). Don't let this amazing opportunity slip by!
~
(Pic courtesy of Amit)
I've been informed by my mac-user friends that they are no longer having trouble reading the Hebrew. That being the case I think I'm going to stop doing the transliterations. I don't mind doing them, but if there is no need then its just a waste of time. If ANYONE still wants the transliterations please leave a comment and I will gladly continue to write them...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh


בִּלבָבִי מִשְׁכַּן אֶבְנֶה לְהַדַר כְּבוֹדוֹ, וּבְמִשׁכַּן מִזְבֵּחַ אָשִׂים לְקַרְנֵי הוֹדוֹ, וּלְנֵר תָּמִיד אֶקַח לִי אֶת אֵשׁ הָעַקֵדָה, וּלְקָרְבַּן אַקְרִיב לוֹ אֶת נַפְשִׁי הַיְחִידָה


Bilvavi mishkan evneh lahadar k'vodo, Uv'mishkan mizbei'ach asim l'karnei hodo. Ul'ner tamid ekach li ess aish ha'akeidah, Ul'korban akriv lo ess nafshi, Ess nafshi hayechidah.


In my heart a sanctuary I shall build, to the splendor of His honor, and in the sanctuary an altar I shall place, to the rays of His glory. And for an Eternal Flame I shall take me The fire of the Akei'dah [Yitzchak's would-be sacrifice]; And for a sacrifice I shall offer Him my soul, My one and only soul. (A piyut from "Sefer Chareidim" by R' Elazar Az'kari- author of Yedid Nefesh)


In his sefer "Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh," R' Itamar Shwartz emphasizes the important point that our existence in this world is for the purpose of being davuk to our Creator; to be close with Hashem. As Dovid Hamelech says "V'ani, kirvas Elokim li tov" "And as for me, closeness to G-d is good" Also- as we say by every kriyas haTorah "V'atem ha'dveikim ba'Hashem Elokeichem, chaim koolchem hayom" "And you who cling to Hashem your G-d, you are alive, all of you, today." Meaning to be alive means to cling to G-d. One who isn't constantly concentrating on getting closer to his/her creator, isn't living in the truest sense. As the Zohar Hakadosh says, all the 613 Mitzvos are eitzos (advice) for us; each an opportunity to get closer to Hashem. If one looks at it that way, Yiddishkeit is never a burden, with 613 commandments that we must do, but rather its an amazing opportunity for us to serve Hashem through His 613 Mitzvos; each of which being another way we can gain a closer relationship with Him.
A he'ara of my own: In this physical world, limited by space and time, "closness" is judged by distance between 2 things; inches, feet etc. But if we look at the olam haruchni, the spiritual world, there is no such thing as space and time. So how is closeness measured there? I was taught that it is by similarity. By ruchniyus, the more similar one thing is to another, the closer they are. That being the case, it would seem that for us to be closer to Hashem, we must become more like Him. Now this is a well known concept. "B'tzelem Elokim nivra es ha'adam" Man was created in the image of G-d-so we are like Him already and we have the ability to become more like Him. "Ma Hu rachum, af ata rachum..." "Just as He is merciful, so too you should be merciful." We see how we should live our lives based on imitating the different attributes of Hashem. So here's my he'ara- I'd like to suggest that on Shabbos Kodesh we are closest to Hashem; more than any other day of the week. Of course that alone isn't my chiddush b/c tons of sefarim speak about the holyness of Shabbos and how Hashem comes and "chills" with us here, more on Shabbos than any other time. My chiddush is as follows: We work 6 days a week and rest on the 7th and we recognize that Hashem created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th. SO: during the week when we work, our work is nothing compared to the work Hashem did during sheishes yi'emei be'reishis! He created the world!! Ay, but the rest that Hashem did on Shabbos, that we can actually come close to doing. One thing ca'nt be more at rest than another. If ur not working, then your not working! So I'd like to submit that b/c of that fact, that we rest on Shabbos just like Hashem rested on Shabbos- that makes us so similar to Him and therfore gives us the opportunity to feel real closness to Him each and every Shabbos.[I just wanted to throw that out there- if you like it take it, if not, just throw it right back...]
~
(Mishkan pic courtesy of Messianic Torah Truth Seeker)
(To buy Bilvavi Mishlan Evneh click
here)-I highly recommend it!
(Hat tip to DixieYid)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Amar Rabbi Akiva!

אָמַר רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא: אַשְׁרֵיכֶם יִשְׂרָאֵל! לִפְנֵי מִי אַתֶּם מִיטַהֲרִין? מִי מְטַהֵר אֶתְכֶם? אֲבִיכֶם שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם! וְאוֹמֵר:"מִקְוֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל ה'." מַה מִּקְוֶה מְטַהֵר אֶת הַטְּמֵאִים, אַף הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מְטַהֵר אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל

Amar Rabbi Akiva: Ashreichem Yisrael! lifnei mee a'tem mee'taharin? Mee mi'taheir es'chem? Avichem She'bashamayim!...Vi'omer: "Mikvei Yisrael Hashem." Ma mikveh mi'taheir es hat'mei'im, af Hakadosh Baruch Hu mi'taheir es Yisrael.

"Rabbi Akiva said: Fortunate are you Yisrael! Before Whom do you cleanse yourself? And who cleanses you? Your Father in Heaven!...And it also says: "The mikveh of Yisrael is Hashem." Just as a mikveh cleanses the contaminated, so does The Holy One Blessed Be He cleanse Yisrael." (Yuma 85b-Mishnah)

[Sorry this is a little late-this is probably the most sung song on Lag Be'Omer]
Many times when you're in Yeshiva, and you are having a hard time accomplishing what you want to accomplish, depression and yi'ush sets in; you just wanna throw in the towel. You're Rabbeim give you chizuk, telling you not to look at what has happened in the past, and don't look at what may happen in the future, you have to look at right now; right now what does Hashem want from you? What can you do to bring yourself closer to Him (obviously i don't mean to be foolish and not plan ahead, rather I mean sometimes one tries to be misgaber (strengthen himself) over something but they think about how, even if right now they will be able to control themselves, in the future, they'll probably fall again, so they think "What's the point?"). You're given a guarantee by your Rebbi that if you keep pushing it, constantly working on yourself in learning and perfecting your midos etc. then there is no way you won't succeed. It's a guarantee! Do what Hashem wants from you and you will be matzliyach(successful); Hashem wouldn't ask of us something we are unable to do! It's that simple! But, even after hearing this, sometimes we just don't see the hatzlacha (success). We think we are really giving it our all and its just not clicking! We start thinking "Maybe this whole Ben-Torah thing isn't for me..." RABOSAI!! How long have we been "giving it our all?!" 1,2, maybe 3 or 4 years?! And when did we start searching for the emes and living a true Torah life? At 18, maybe 20 years old? GUYS!! Rebbi Akiva was 40 years old when he first picked up a sefer! 40!!! And through his hasmada (consistent effort) he became the one that Hashem chose to continue Torah among Klal Yisrael! He was zoche to have a talmid by the name of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who was megaleh (revealed) the deepest ysodos (foundations) of Torah to us with his writing of the Zohar! Chevra!-we have a 20 year head start!!! And we are considering defeat after just a few years?!! And we all know that the older you get, the harder it is to drop the habits and routines you have acquired. And still, Rebbi Akiva did it right and pushed himself, and because of him we still have Torah today! He taught us the greatest lesson we can take as bnei Torah, or as any ben/bas aliyah (someone wanting to grow in their yiddishkeit- i.e. everyone): IT'S NEVER TOO LATE! DON'T GIVE UP!!-Hashem wants to help us grow so badly, but unfortunately we tend to give up right before He was going to give us that big push we've been waiting for to make us soar! "B'derech sh'adam rotzeh lei'leich, kach me'halichin oso" The path that a person wants to take, it is that path that Hashem will help him/her on(for either good or bad). All we have to do is truly want it, and put in the effort; real effort. It's a guarantee...

~
(Top pic courtesy of CrossPointe Youth)
(Bottom pic courtesy of art.com)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ein Aroch Lecha

אֵין עֲרוֹךְ לְךָ ה' אֶלֺקֵינוּ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, וְאֵין זוּלָתְךָ מַלְכֵּנוּ לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. אֶפֶס בִּלְתְּךָ גוֹאֲלֵנוּ לִימוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ, וְאֵין דּוֹמֶה לְךָ מוֹשִׁעֵנוּ לִתְחִיַּת הַמֵּתִים

Ein aroch lecha Hashem Elokeinu ba'olam ha'zeh, vi'ein zoolusicha malkeinu li'chayei ha'olam habba. Efess beel'ticha go'aleinu leemos ha'mashiach, vi'ein domeh lecha moshy'einu lees'chiyas ha'meisim.

"There is no comparison to you Hashem, our G-d, in this world; and there will be nothing except for You, our King, in the life of the World to Come; there will be nothing without You, our Redeemer, in the days of Mashiach; and there will be none like You, our Savior; at the Resuscitation of the Dead." (Birchos Kriyas Shema, Shabbos day (Nusach S'fard)

The basic message in this Tefillah is simple: "Ein Od Milvado," There is nothing other than Him (Hashem). Our existence is totally reliant on Hashem's constant outpouring of mercy and kindness; in this world and the next. Its all in Hashem's hands.
My friend Joey pointed out to me that R' Chaim Volozhin, in his well known sefer Nefesh HaChaim, says a yesod pertaining to this idea that I find absolutely and profoundly incredible. Instead of cheapening it by telling it over in short, I'm going to try, with Hashem's help, to write it out in English as best as I could. R' Chaim writes: "In truth, there is a big and amazing concept that has the ability to remove any will and control that anything in the world can have on a person, and as a result nothing can have any affect on a person (who thinks about the following concept). When a person establishes in his heart to say 'Behold Hashem, He is the True G-d, and there is no strength in the universe other than Him, and everything is full of only the simple Oneness of the Blessed One,' and he nullifies his heart, a total nullification, totally ignoring the existence of any other strength or desire that there may be in the world, and he makes his pure thought totally subservient and attached only to the One Master Blessed be He, THEN Hashem will automatically nullify from him all the strengths and desires in the world, such that nothing can do him any bad whatsoever." (Nefesh HaChaim, Sha'ar 3, Perek 12) This is a very lofty concept, and I don't claim to understand it completely, but to my limited understanding, this is what I have come up with: R' Chaim is trying to drive home the important point that EVERYTHING is constantly under the supervision of Hashem; that Hashem gives everything that ever existed its strength. Without Hashem, nothing could ever exist. For something to no longer exist Hashem doesn't have to will it not to exist, but rather stop willing it to exist. This being the case, Hashem can, whenever He so wishes, change what we call "nature" in any way. So the Nefesh HaChaim is saying that if we internalize this reality, that nothing is out of Hashem's control, then nothing can harm us.
There is a story told of the Brisker Rav that illustrates exactly What R' Chaim Volozhin is saying. Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik ZT"L was attempting to escape during WWII in a car. The car was stopped and he was sitting in it as a Nazi soldier began to walk over. As the story is told, The Brisker Rav just sat there saying to himself "Ein Od Milvado, Ein Od Milvado..." over and over again, internalizing the same massage given over in the Nefesh HaChaim. The Nazi came up to the car, reached for the door handle, and then just turned and walked away... "Siz Duch Altz Hevel Havalim, Ein Od Milvado!!!"
~
(Pic courtesy of Tzfat-Kabbalah)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Amein Yi'hei Shi'mei

It came to my attention recently, from speaking with some friends, that some people don't pronounce the words to Kadish properly. I too, until a little while ago, was pronouncing these words incorrectly. They are very important words said many times a day, how can it be that we've been mispronouncing them? Aside from the fact that we barely look in the Siddur, especially during things we are constantly saying, like Kadish, I think a big factor is that the words are in Aramaic, which could be very similar to Hebrew except with different pronunciations. So i think many people are used to Hebrew so they get mixed up. Here are the words with the nekudos. Just take a nice hard look right now-especially at the nekudos, and you may be surprised (hopefully not)
אָמֵן.יְהֵא שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא מְבָרַךְ לְעָלַם וּלְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָא

I transliterated them as best as I could but I'm afraid with these words its a little more difficult.
"u" is pronounced like "u" in "up." Also "i" is like "i" in pit (unless its part of "ei"). And "a" is like "a" in far...I hope its understandable.

Amein. Yi'hei shi'mei rabu mi'vurach li'ulam ooli'ulimei uli'mayu

"Amen. May His Name that is great be blessed forever and for all eternity." (Kadish-duh)

A few common mistakes: Its "Mi'vurach," NOT "Me'vorach. And- li'ulam ooli'ulimei uli'mayu, NOT li'olam ooli'olimei oli'mayu.

I just recently learned the Halachos of Kadish in the Mishna Berura so I'd like to share some things from there that are noteworthy. (Listed in the order they appear in Siman 56)

  • Chazal say that anyone who answers "Amein. yi'hei shi'mei..." with all of his strength, his (evil)decrees are torn up.
  • The Rishonim explain "All of his strength" to mean all of his concentration, with his whole body; with heart and soul. It shouldn't be just words coming out of his mouth without feeling.
  • One must be very careful to refrain from speaking during Kadish (The M"B brings down a couple of spooky stories about what happened to certain people who spoke during Kadish-its not pretty)
  • One should pause between "Amein" and "yi'hei" because the "Amein" alone is responding to what the Chazan said, and then we continue with out own statement of praise-"yi'hei..."
  • Although, as mentioned before, it is recommended for one to say it in a loud voice, one must still be careful not to do it in such a way that it will cause people to sin by poking fun at it.
  • Answering "Amein. yi'hei shi'mei..." is a huge Mitzvah; greater than Modim and Kedusha!
  • If one walks into Shul when the congregation is in the middle of saying "yi'hei shi'mei rabu..." he should answer also, starting from "yi'hei" but leaving out the "Amein", because he didn't hear the first part which is what the "Amein" is responding to.
  • Remember- Concentrate on the words and their meanings!! These words are incredibly powerful! (This one I threw in myself...)

~
(Pic courtesy of
sz-wholesale)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Va'ani B'chasd'cha Ba'tachti

וַאֲנִי בְּחַסְדְּךָ בָטַחְתִּי, יָגֵל לִבִּי בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ; אָשִׁירָה לַה', כִּי גָמַל עָלָי

Va'ani b'chasd'cha ba'tachti, yagel libi bi'shua'secha; ashira la'Hashem, ki gamal a'lie.

"But as for me, in Your kindness I trust; my heart will exult in Your salvation. I will sing to Hashem, for He has dealt kindly with me." (Tehillim 13:6)

The introduction given to this chapter in Artscroll's interlinear Tehillim says: "Exile is like a long, dark, seemingly endless night. But as long as faith and trust in G-d are maintained, one is not defeated." In this psalm, Dovid Hamelech prophetically speaks on behalf of all of Klal Yisrael in galus. It is also a prayer of an individual in a time of distress when the suffering seems unbearable and endless. Dovid asks Hashem "For how long will you forget me?...Until when will you hide your face from me?" He is asking Hashem until when will klal Yisrael have to suffer by the hand of its enemies. If one looks at the History of the Jewish nation, it is clear that we have been oppressed on a consistent basis for basically our entire existence. Dovid goes on-"Until when will my enemy be ascendant over me?...Answer me Hashem...Lest my enemy boast: I have overcome him!; [lest] my tormentors rejoice when I falter." And then he adds the beautiful words of our song-"But as for me, in Your kindness I trust..." Dovid is telling Hashem that although our enemies declare that we have no savior, we know better. We see from Hashem's unbelievable kindness, which we graciously accept although we may be undeserving, that we can put our trust in Him to save us. However bad things may seem to get, we turn to Hashem and sing "We trust You!!" Because we have no doubt that our Father in Shamayim will never sell us short. We just think about how Hashem gives us everything- our health, sustenance, understanding... every second of every day, and we can rest assured that no matter what we are going through, its ALL good!
-Akuna ma'tata!

~
(Top pic courtesy of
AishAudio)
(Other pic courtesy of
PaulRevereRides)