Monday, March 31, 2008


When I found out where these words were from I was SHOCKED! The Yiddishe accent really threw me off...check it out-
וּבִשׁוּעָתְךָ תָּרִים וְתַגְבִּיהַּ קַרְנֵנוּ לְמַעְלָה, וְהוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ בְּקָרוֹב לְמַעַן שְׁמֶךָ

"U'vishuas'cha tarim v'sagbiyah karneinu lemalla, v'hoshi'einu be'karov lma'an Shimecha."

"Through Your salvation may You exalt and raise our pride up high, and save us soon for the sake of Your Name." (Birchos Hashachar-(Nusach Sefard))

For a change of pace-I have a Question. What does it mean "לְמַעַן שְׁמֶךָ" "For the sake of Your Name?" We see the same thing in the first Beracha of Shemoneh Esreh- "...u'meivy go'el livnei b'neihem lema'an Shemo be'ahava..." Why are we telling Hashem to redeem us for His sake? Hashem doesn't need to do anything to make His name great! He is perfect in every way!! Who are we to advise Him what to do "For the sake of His Name?!!"
I remember asking this question to a friend of mine during Purim Shana Aleph- I believe he gave me an answer but I really have no recollection of what he said. If anyone has an answer to this question please leave a comment answering it!! I have some ideas but I'd like to hear what everyone else has to say...Thanks!

Zochreini Nah

וָיִּקְרָא שִׁמְשׁוֹן אֶל ה' וַיֺאמַר, ה' אֶלֺקִים, זָכְרֵנִי נָא וְחַזְּקֵנִי נָא אַךְ הַפַּעַם הַזֶּה, הָאֶלֺקִים, וְאִנָּקְמָה נְקַם-אַחַת מִשְּׁתֵּי עֵינַי מִפְּלִשְׁתִּים

"Shimshon called out to Hashem and said 'Hashem Elokim! Remember me and strengthen me just this one time, O G-d, and I will exact vengeance from the Plishtim for one of my two eyes'." (Shoftim 16:28)

Shimshon Hagibor was left helpless. The Plishtim had cut off his hair and gouged out his eyes. He was forced into entertaining thousands of people who couldn't wait to see him die. At this point Shimshon demonstrated for us a big yesod in Yiddishkeit; he cried out to Hashem. The situation was hopless! He had no strength and was totaly vulnerable but he knew the truth. He knew that everything is from Hashem. He knew that he could be the weakest of the weak, but with Hashem's help anything is possible. According to nature there was no way he could have pulled down those pillars holding up thousands of cheering Plishtim! But Shimshon knew that there is no such thing as nature. Hashem defines reality and He can portray it however He pleases. So Shimshon asked Hashem for strength to exact vengeance from the Plishtim, and Hashem came through.
We all have our situations where we feel like a Shimshon; tied in chains, totally hopeless. But if we stop and think we will realize that it is NEVER hopeless. Hashem is always there waiting for us to cry out to him! There is nothing He can't Help us with! Whether its a tough Tosfos, shidduch, or illness, Hashem has the answers. All we have to do is put our trust in Him. "Karov Hashem l'chol kor'av, l'chol asher yik'riuhu b'emes." Close is Hashem to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him sincerely."
Like the Magid Me'Mezritch says: There are three things we can learn from babies: They're always happy, they never sit idle, and when they want something- they cry for it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ben Bag Bag Omer

בֶּן בַּג בַּג אוֹמֵר: הֲפֺךְ בָּהּ וָהֲפֺךְ בָּהּ, דְּכֺלָּה בַּה; וּבַהּ תֶּחֱזֵי, וְסִיב וּבְלֵה בַּהּ, וּמִנַּהּ לָא תְּזוּעַ, שֶׁאֵין לְךָ מִדָּה טוֹבָה הֵימֶנָּה

"Ben Bag Bag says: Turn it over and turn it over, for everything is in it. Look deeply into it, and grow old with it, and spend time over it, and do not stir from it, because there is no greater portion." (Avos 5:22)

Obviously this Mishna is referring to the Torah Hakedosha. While standing by the Kosel one erev Shabbos a friend of mine told me over the following in the name of his Rebbi: The Torah can be compared to a love letter. When someone receives a letter from a loved one he reads through it over and over again. He analyzes every word, every comma, every cross out. He wants to understand EXACTLY what his loved one meant to say at every point throughout the letter. The same is true by the Torah. It is a love letter from Hakodosh Baruch Hu. As Ben Bag Bag put it, we should but turning it over and turning it over. The more we delve into it, the more we understand Hashem and His amazing universe. The more we break our heads on it, the more Chochmas Hashem we bring into ourselves. Hashem wrote us a love letter that contains EVERYTHING within it. Once we tap into it, meaning and emes will fill our lives, because "there is no greater portion."
Remember-When we Daven we are speaking to Hashem. When we learn the Borei Olam is speaking to us...

V'chol Asher Ya'aseh Yatzliyach

כִּי אִם בְּתוֹרַת ה' חֶפְצוֹ, וּבְתוֹרָתוֹ יֶהֶגֶּה יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה. וְהָיָה כְּעֵץ שָׁתוּל עַל פַּלְגֵי מָיִם; אֲשֶׁר פִּרְיוֹ יִתֵּן בְּעִתּוֹ, וְעָלֵהוּ לֺא יִבּוֹל, וְכֺל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה יַצְלִיחַ
"(Rather in the Torah of Hashem is his desire, and in His Torah he meditates day and night.) He shall be like a tree deeply rooted alongside brooks of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and whose leaf never withers; and everything that he does will succeed." (Tehillim 1:2,3)

R' Hirsch comments on the phrase "פַּלְגֵי מָיִם", or "brooks of water," that the word "פַּלְגֵי" denotes many brooks streaming from one common source. He says that the same holds true by the Torah. The Torah saturates those who learn it in all aspects of life, making their lives fruitful.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Anachnu Ma'aminim Bnei Ma'aminim (MBD)

יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּטַח בַּה', עֶזְרָם וּמָגִנָּם הוּא
אַנַחְנוּ מַאַמִינִים בְּנֵי מַאַמִינִים, וְאֵין לָנוּ עַל מִי לְהִשָׁעֵן, אֶלָא עַל אָבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָׁמַיִם

"Israel, trust in Hashem; their help and their shield is He!" (Tehillim 115:9)
"We are believers, children of believers, and we have none (else) to rely on but on our father in heaven." (Medrash Tanchuma)

The Beis HaLevi quotes a Medrash Rabbah in Miketz that says:"Fortunate is the man who places trust in Hashem(Tehillim 3). This is Yoseph. He wouldn't turn to man for help-for we see, because Yoseph asked the sar hamashkim to put in a good word for him to Paroh, he got 2 years added on to his sentence."
There is an obvious contradiction in the Medrash! First it says that Yoseph was a huge ba'al Bitachon, one of the greatest ever. Then it says how he relied on the sar hamashkim to help him out! Whats the deal??
The Beis HaLevi (Parshas Miketz) explains Bitachon as follows: Everyone's level of hishtadlus (effort) that they are required to put in is based on their level of Bitachon baHashem. Someone with a very high level of Bitachon; someone who really understands and accepts that EVERYTHING is from Hakodosh Baruch Hu, needs to put in less effort than someone with a lower level of Bitachon. That being the case, if someone puts in more effort than is required of them, then they are in the wrong. They are basically saying that what they get is solely based in their efforts alone. And, as stated in the Beis HaLevi, they will be punished; now they will NEED to work harder in order to get what they need.
So now the Medrash makes sense. Because Yoseph was such a ba'al bitachon, that's precisely why he was punished with 2 extra years in prison! For Yoseph to ask the sar hamashkim for a little help was too much hishtadlus since he was on such a high level of Bitachon! For people on a lower level of Bitachon it would make sense for them to ask for this small request to the sar hamashkim. But for Yoseph Hatzaddik, it was too much hishtadlus. That's the level of Bitachon that Yoseph was on. (As heard from Rav Moshe Bamberger, Mashgiach Ruchani of Beis Medrash L'Talmud in Queens)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Shoshanas Yaakov (Chag Purim Sameach!)

Happy Purim!! We say this after both Megilla readings. Think about the words this year!!

שׁוֹשׁנַת יַעֲקֺב צָהֲלָה וְשָׂמֵחָ, בִּרְאוֹתָם יַחַד תְּכֵלֶת מָרְדְּכָי. תְּשׁוּעָתָם הָיִיתָ לָנֶצַח, וְתִקְוָתָם בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר. לְהוֹדִיעַ, שֶׁכָּל קֺוֶיךָ לֺא יֵבֺשׁוּ, וְלֺא יִכָּלְמוּ לָנֶצַח כָּל הַחוֹסִים בָּךְ. אָרוּר הָמָן, אֲשֶׁר בִּקֵּשׁ לְאַבְּדִי, בָּרוּךְ מָרְדְּכַי הַיְּהוּדִי. אַרוּרָה זֶרֶשׁ, אֵשֶׁת מַפְחִידִי, בְּרוּכָה אֶסְתֵּר בַּעַדִי, וְגַם חַרְבוֹנָה זָכוּר לַטּוֹב

"The rose [that is] Yaakov was cheerful and glad, when they saw together the royal blue [robes] of Mordechai. You have been their salvation eternally, and their hope throughout generation after generation-to make known that all those who put their hope in You will not be shamed; and they will never be humiliated-all those who take refuge in You. Accursed be Haman, who sought to destroy me; blessed be Mordechai the Jew. Accursed be Zeresh, the wife of my terrorizer; blessed be Esther, who shielded me. And also may Charvona be remembered for good." (End of brachos after the Megilla reading)

Who is this Charvona who should be "remembered for good?" The pasuk tells us that Charvona was the one who volunteered the news of the large tree, 50 amos tall, which was standing in Haman's house. Rashi there adds that Charvona was actually stressing how bad Haman was, that he had the audacity to build a gallows on which to hang Mordechai, the very man who had saved the king's life. So Charvona seems like a pretty good guy right? Well if we take a closer look we see quite the opposite. The Gemara in Megilla (16a) tells us that Charvona was actually involved in Haman's plans to kill Mordechai! How else would he have known the exact height of the gallows(Torah Temima)?! Or even known about the plan to kill Mordechai altogether?! So the Gemara concludes that Charvona was a rasha.
So again- why remember him for good? We see in a Gemarah in Avoda-Zara that there are a number of people who achieved Teshuva in one moment; changing from Resha'im to Tzadikim. Charvona is a case of someone who, when he realized the truth, made a total turnaround, changing form a "bad guy" to a "good guy." Purim is a day where Shamayim is completely open and Hashem is just waiting for us to bring ourselves closer to him. Take advantage of it!! It's never too late to do complete Teshuva, never.

Added Objective...

I think I'm going to not only do simcha songs, but also songs sung on other occasions. Like Shabbos, Yomim Tovim, Kumzitzes etc. We'll see how it goes... Please leave comments! Tell me what im doing right/wrong!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Yodu LaHashem Chasdo

I wanted this to be the first song I posted because I think it's one of the most played songs at simchas, and one of the least known. This was one of the first songs I "sang along to" that made me begin to realize how ridiculous it is that I barely know what I'm saying...

יוֹדוּ לַה’ חַסְדּוֹ; וְנִפְלְאוֹתָיו, לִבְנֵי אָדָם. כִּי-הִשְׂבִּיעַ, נֶפֶשׁ שֹׁקֵקָה; וְנֶפֶשׁ רְעֵבָה, מִלֵּא-טוֹב

"Let them give thanks to Hashem for His mercy, and for His wonders to the children of men! For He has satisfied the longing soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with good."(Tehillim 107:8,9)

If you look in this perek of Tehillim (107) you'll see the words "יוֹדוּ לַה’ חַסְדּוֹ; וְנִפְלְאוֹתָיו, לִבְנֵי אָדָם" mentioned a total of four times. The Gemara in Brachos (54b) explains that if you look closer you'll see that by each of the four times mentioned, there is also a mention of the four situations in which one is required to bentch gomel; crossing the desert, crossing the sea, recovering from illness, and being freed from jail. The Gemara says that this is the source for the times we are obligated to bentch gomel; to thank the Borei Olam for getting us out of a "sticky" situation through His abundant chesed.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Our Objective:

Have you ever been to a simcha where everyone is going nuts, dancing around in circles with the music blasting, and you're "singing along" to the songs? I think we've all been there, but the question is- Do we really know the words? Many a time I've found myself just mumbling along, not knowing a single word. I look around trying to read people's lips, trying to make out the words (cmon you know you've done that!). I think to myself "What am I doing??" These are the words of G-d; The words of Tanach and Chazal... the most amazing, inspirational words. Words that have the ability to really touch your Neshama. And I'm standing there pretending to know the words?! I can be having an aliyah every second I'm on the dance floor! If only I were to concentrate a little less on who is looking at me dancing, or what I have to do next to be the craziest guy there, and concentrate more on what the words that are blasting in my ears are, and what they mean, then every simcha could be an unbelievably uplifting experience! If only we could concentrate less on Samuel, Jack and Johnnie, and start getting "drunk" on Shlomo, David, Ravina and Rav Ashie!!
But therein lies the problem; for the most part, the general "we" don't know the words!! And even if we do, we still have no clue what they mean!! We just run around screaming like a buncha maniacs, making things up as we go along!!
So that is where this blog comes in. I would like to attempt to somewhat solve this big problem of ours. Slowly but surely I hope to compile as many simcha songs (and eventually other types of songs) as i possibly can, with their words, source, meaning, and maybe even something a little deeper.(of course, comments left with requests for info on other songs are greatly appreciated and highly recommended)
Hopefully, with Hakadosh Baruch Hu's help, together we will be able to end this epidemic of our constantly asking "What are the words??" And soon we will all be dancing and singing together in Yerushalayim (knowing exactly what it is we are saying), with the building of the third and final Beis Hamikdash BB"A!