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yechida's reflections
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Re: yechida's reflections 24 Nov 2019 00:45 #345324

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Torah.org dvar torah -Toldos on NOT GIVING UP

Yitzhak’s servants dug in the valley, and found there a well of springing water” Beresheet 26:19

The events surrounding the sale of the birthright of the seed of Abraham and the dramatic intrigue of the “theft” of the blessings of Yitzhak are interrupted by seemingly mundane, unimportant details of disputes between the servants of Yitzhak and the subjects of Abimelekh over digging of wells. The commentators, realizing that every detail included by Hashem in His Holy Torah is of utmost importance for eternity, explain the wells to relate to future events in the history of our people, especially the Temple periods. The strange names of the wells reveal insights as to the causes of the destruction of the Batay Mikdash our holy Temples.

There is also a timeless, ethical lesson for all. One should always fight adversity and persist to complete a worthwhile task. If Yitzhak Abinu a’h dug a well but failed to find water, he dug elsewhere until he succeeded. If enemies disputed his rights to the water, he went to another site and dug there. Eventually, he found water that no one disputed and he called the well Rehovot -wide space. This is the way a person should approach adversity whether in material projects or spiritual pursuits. Should one have difficulty in one’s initial efforts to learn Torah, one should not despair because at the end of the day success is imminent. [Hafetz Hayim]

A story is told about Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichov a’h who was on a mission to raise funds to pay the ransom for some Jews who had been abducted. After traveling to many towns and villages he was yet unsuccessful in collecting the required funds. He began to doubt his decision to take on this effort. “Perhaps I was wrong to accept this responsibility. I have not raised the money and I have lost weeks of time that I could have spent learning in the bet midrash [study hall].”

One day Rabbi Levi Yitzhak was witness to the arrest of a Jewish thief by the authorities. After giving him a good beating the authorities locked him up in the local jail.

“You should learn a lesson from this and never attempt robbery again,” advised Rabbi Levi Yitzhak.

“No way” replied the thief, ‘If I failed today that doesn’t mean I won’t succeed the next time.”

“If a criminal does not give up in his wicked pursuits how much more so must I persist in order to achieve Torah goals. If I don’t succeed today — that doesn’t mean I will not win tomorrow,” said the great sage to himself.

In 1979, about three years after I had returned to my study of Torah on a daily basis, Rabbi Noah Weinberg, Shlit”a, the Rosh Yeshivah of Aish Hatorah in Yerushalayim came to visit our small synagogue on the New Jersey shore. During seudah shelisheet [the 3rd Shabbat meal] I strategically sat next to the Rav. “I have been trying to learn Gemara [Talmud] with one of the young Rabbis in our Kollel”, I related to him, “Yet every time I prepare it seems like I just don’t get it right. I think it just might not be for me.”

Don’t give up, ” he advised, “Just keep on trying and one day you will begin to understand.”

His words of encouragement gave me the impetus to keep on trying. Now, over twenty years later, I proudly can say learning Torah is my greatest joy in life –a pursuit that was successful due to persistence. If at first you don’t succeed –try –try again!

Shabbat Shalom

Raymond J Beyda

Re: yechida's reflections 01 Dec 2019 00:32 #345616

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A short insight from torah.org on not flaunting & averting jealousy

You shouldn’t whine about getting a 99 on the final instead of a 100 in front of students who got 50’s and 60’s.”

“Let them study harder, and besides, who tells them to be jealous.”

“And Rochel saw that she was not having any children… And Rochel envied her sister (who had a few children).” (Biraishis 30:1)

Of course, jealousy is not good ( right now, I will just say, see the Messillas Yeshorim / The Path of the Just or the Orchos Tzaddikim /The Way of the Righteous for ideas of how to not feel jealousy), but it IS a “normal” human trait.

Therefore, we should always be sensitive to others’ feelings and not cause them to feel jealous.

(I’m not saying to earn less money or have lower grades or not to try having wonderful children, but not everything must be flaunted.)

Always try making others feel good !!

Re: yechida's reflections 07 Dec 2019 23:49 #345815

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Torah.org dvar torah on the value of time (Raymond Bayda)

Yaakob was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn” Beresheet 32:25

Yaakob Abinu a’h survived his encounter with Laban only to face his wicked brother Esav. Since the animosity that Esav felt had not subsided in the 20 years since Yaakob fled to Haran to marry and build a family, Yaakob prepared for war. Prayer, strategy and bribery were the three elements of his defense. Firstly, he prayed to Hashem to protect him as He had promised on Har Hamoriah the night Yaakob slept there and dreamt his “ladder dream”. He then split his camp into two so that should Esav encounter one camp the other could flee to safety and insure the survival of the Jewish people. Lastly, he sent to his brother an entourage bearing gifts of cattle and valuables in order to bribe his brother and to get him to forgive and forget.

Under the cover of dark Yaakob ferried his family and possessions across a river called Nahal Yabok, in order to place a body of water between his camp and his brother’s soldiers. After completing the transfer, Yaakob went back across and was left alone on Esav’s side of the river. Rashi cites the Talmud’s interpretation. Yaakob had forgotten some small earthenware jugs and risked his life to go back into danger to retrieve them. The Sages comment: “From here we learn “to the righteous, their money is dearer to them than their bodies.” Since the honest person struggles to earn every penny without deception the money that he earns is dear to him.

Of course, our Rabbis are not suggesting that one risk one’s life for even significant amounts of material wealth. Their intent is that to the righteous, the spiritual use of honestly earned money has a value that should not be treated with indifference.

Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt’l wrote that every moment of life is a precious opportunity for spiritual achievement and therefore, a person should be very particular about the use of every minute of time. One, he proposed, should minimize the amount of time spent on acquisition of the things of this world. The Hafetz Hayim said, “Many feel time is money when in fact money is time.” If a person squanders materialistic possessions, one will then be forced to expend more precious time from his or her life to acquire more to sustain them self.

Rav Hasda was a wealthy sage in the times of the Gemara. When he would walk through an area where there were thorn bushes, he would lift his robes exposing his legs to the painful scratches and cuts of the thorns rather than allow his robe to become damaged. If he was rich why would he subject himself to pain rather than let the garment rip? He too realized that this would cost him TIME — the time it would take to earn the money to buy another robe. He chose to suffer physical pain rather than lose a moment latent with potential for spiritual growth. [Baba Kamma 91B]

There is a remez — a hint — to this attitude in the message that Yaakob Abinu sent to Esav. He enumerated the wealth he had earned while in the employ of his father-in-law Laban –“Vayehi lee shor, v’hamor…” ["I have acquired oxen and donkeys…”]. The Gemara explains that the word “Vayehi” indicates sorrow [M[Megillah 10B]Yaakob was hinting to Esav –The wealth I have accumulated causes me sorrow when I think of the time I had to invest in order to get it.” His preference was for spiritual achievement not material success.

We too must learn from our Patriarchs and Sages. Everyone was created with a mission. The goal is to create a beautiful abode for eternity in the World to Come. The most important tool we were blessed with to perfect our eternal home — is TIME. Every moment in this world is an opportunity to earn untold spiritual wealth for one’s future. The righteous knew that one must survive and support themselves while here in this world — but they felt sorrow over every moment they had to waste in the pursuit of survival. One should take this lesson and make it one’s credo — “No price can be set on my possessions — they cost me time to acquire.” Keep what you have. Preserve your time wisely. You will become rich — forever!

Shabbat Shalom

Re: yechida's reflections 09 Dec 2019 00:00 #345845

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powerful poem on self worth

The Power Of Self Worth

Love yourself and see your beauty
before others take a glance,
let your light shine always don't wait for a second chance.
You only have today
who you are can change tomorrow,
go the extra mile forget
about life's sorrow.
The things you work the hardest for
have a pay off in the end
learn first to love yourself,
because then and only then.
You'll finally understand
your purpose here on earth,
love yourself and celebrate
the power of self worth.

Written By Kathy J Parenteau
05/23/2014

Re: yechida's reflections 09 Dec 2019 03:14 #345850

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yechidah wrote on 09 Dec 2019 00:00:
powerful poem on self worth

The Power Of Self Worth

Love yourself and see your beauty
before others take a glance,
let your light shine always don't wait for a second chance.
You only have today
who you are can change tomorrow,
go the extra mile forget
about life's sorrow.
The things you work the hardest for
have a pay off in the end
learn first to love yourself,
because then and only then.
You'll finally understand
your purpose here on earth,
love yourself and celebrate
the power of self worth.

Written By Kathy J Parenteau
05/23/2014

Beautiful and motivating. Thank you

Re: yechida's reflections 15 Dec 2019 01:20 #345941

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From Torah.org by R Shafier

A most valuable lesson on the mindset amidst suffering & discomfort

The most difficult period in Yosef’s life

Yosef was about to begin the most difficult period of his life. His own brothers left him to die in a pit of scorpions. He would soon be sold numerous times as a slave, then he would spend twelve months being hounded by the wife of his master, followed by imprisonment in a dank, dark dungeon where he would not see the light of day for twelve years. Clearly, Yosef was heading for hard times.

Rashi tells us that this posuk shows us the great reward that is given to tzaddikim. When Yosef was bound and sold as a slave, the wagon that took him down to Egypt was carrying spices that emitted a fragrant smell, as opposed to the normal cargo that gives off an obnoxious odor. Clearly, HASHEM loved the tzaddik and arranged for something out of the ordinary to protect him.

The obvious question on this Rashi is that if the Torah wants us to show the reward for tzaddikim, it could have done a much more convincing job by saving Yosef from this entire event. If HASHEM is watching the tzaddikim, then why couldn’t He just save Yosef from all of the suffering that he was about to endure?

A comfortable pillow in the ambulance

This is comparable to a situation in which a man is in a catastrophic car crash that breaks almost every bone in his body. The Hatzalah crew rushes to the scene, puts him on a stretcher, and as they are speeding to the hospital, his friend riding with him says, “Look how HASHEM watches over you. They even put a comfortable pillow under your head.” One would have the right to ask, “If HASHEM is concerned with this person’s well being, then why didn’t He arrange for the drunk driver who hit him to crash into a pole instead of his car? Save him from the ordeal; don’t give his broken neck a comfortable pillow to lie on!”

Some life situations are inevitable

The answer to this question seems to be that there are certain situations in life that are unavoidable, not because HASHEM isn’t capable of preventing them, but quite the opposite, because HASHEM orchestrated them according to the needs of that person or that generation.

Yosef was to be sold as a slave and in that state, brought to Mitzrayim. As the prelude to his future, the future of his family, and the future of the Jewish nation, this was a vital ingredient. Ultimately, for his destiny and for the good of the Jewish nation, this situation needed to happen. It was part of the master plan.

However, even within the difficult times, HASHEM showed loving kindness to Yosef. He had to be sold as a slave, but why should he suffer unnecessarily? The Arabs normally carried petroleum; why should Yosef have to suffer the offensive odor? For that reason, HASHEM arranged something very uncharacteristic: the caravan was carrying perfume and not oil.

All suffering is carefully weighed and measured

There is a great lesson for us to take from this. In life, we will suffer through many situations, trials and tribulations. Not only are they are part of life, they are needed – for us, for our growth so that we can reach the purpose for which we were put on this planet. In that sense, they are inevitable, not because HASHEM is uncaring, but because we need them. They are for our good. In the scheme of life, they serve us well, but with them comes some suffering. The amount of suffering that a person experiences on this planet is weighed, measured and administered in exact dosages. The pain is delivered precisely and exactly, not an iota more and not an iota less. We get exactly the measure we need.

Many times it is clear to see that HASHEM is bringing pain, preplanned and preordained, right to my doorstep. But it is hard to see that it is for my good and that HASHEM is doing it out of loving kindness.

Seeing the Kindness in the torture

When I discover the kindness within the torture, when I find the “comfortable pillow in the ambulance,” this can change my perspective on the entire situation. It reminds me that HASHEM cares for me and has brought about this event for my good. I may not see it as good, I may not understand how it is for my best, but it is clearly orchestrated by HASHEM. I see that HASHEM has gone out of His way – if it could be – to make part of my situation more comfortable. This shows me the great love that HASHEM has for me. It allows me to know that just as the pillow was planned out of love, so too were the rest of the circumstances. This viewpoint colors the entire situation in a different light, allowing me to understand that it was brought by HASHEM, and despite the pain and suffering, it is something that I need for my good.

Re: yechida's reflections 15 Dec 2019 19:59 #345969

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What is Yissurim Shel Ahavah? It is suffering that God gives to righteous people who use it in order to become more spiritually productive. These are people who will themselves work to keep pace with their Avodas Hashem—Service of God—despite debilitating pain, be it physical, psychological, or both. God gives them this suffering to draw out the righteous new levels of commitment that they themselves might not have tapped into, already having achieved personal greatness.
"If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?"
feel free to reach out @  ahavayirah@gmail.com

Re: yechida's reflections 21 Dec 2019 23:16 #346121

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The Sweetest Gift In Life: Peace of Mind

Pharaoh was disturbed that he had no interpretation of his troubling dreams. He heard about a person named Yosef who was a master dream interpreter. Pharaoh was very keen to see Yosef as soon as possible. Pharaoh sent for Yosef and “rushed him from the dungeon”. Yosef took a haircut, changed his clothing, and was brought before Pharoah [Bereshis 41:14].

Rashi explains that he took a haircut and changed his clothing because of ‘kavod malchus’ [giving due honor to the king].

Rashi implies that the haircut and change of clothing was Yosef’s idea. The meaning of the first verb in the pasuk [verse] (va’y’reetzuhu) is THEY took him out (of the dungeon). If the pasuk meant to say and THEY gave him a haircut, it should have continued “vayegalchuhu”. Instead, it says “vayegalach” [and HE took a haircut]. Likewise, it should say “vayachleefu” [and THEY changed his clothes] instead of “vayechalef” [and HE changed his clothes]. The singular subject of the verb regarding tak ing a haircut and getting a change of clothes indicates that these were all Yosef’s ideas.

Rashi explains that his motivation was ‘kavod malchus’.

Imagine this scene: Yosef is pining away in jail all these years. It is already two years since he asked the wine butler to mention him to Pharaoh. Nothing happened. One day the jailers knock on his door and say “Okay. Pharaoh wants to see you.” Yosef could have been thinking “This is just what I’ve been waiting for. This is my ticket out of jail!”

But when the jailers are rushing him to see the king, he interrupts them and says, “Wait a minute. I need to see a barber.”

 They take him to the barber, he gets his haircut and they again start rushing him to the palace. Once more he protests, “Wait a minute! I need to go shopping. I cannot go before the king in prison garb. This would be disrespectful to the king.”

What does this say about the peace of mind and serenity of the soul (yishuv ha’daas / menuchas hanefesh) of Yosef?

The demonstration of tranquility continues when Yosef comes before Pharaoh. The king tells him, “I’ve heard you know how to interpret dreams.” Pharaoh is well known to have no patience whatsoever. He does not tolerate incompetence very well (witness the fate of the Baker and the Wine Butler for the most minor of offenses). Pharaoh was a tyrant and a murderer. Today’s tyrants are Cub Scouts compared to Pharaoh. He had no world opinion whatsoever to worry about.

Despite this reputation, Yosef’s first response to Pharaoh is to contradict Pharaoh’s statement and in a self-deprecating fashion, explain that only G-d would be able to give Pharaoh a satisfactory explanation of his dreams. In effect, he told Pharaoh: “I can’t do a thing to help you on my own. We’ll have to see if G-d will allow me to interpret the dreams for you or not.”

From where does Yosef get such peace of mind and coolness? The answer is that Yosef is the quintessential example of a Ba’al Bitachon [a person that is absolutely confident that everything that happens to him is the Hand of G-d]. With such an attitude, one can rest assured that he has nothing to fear. There is no need to rush. There is not need to worry. “My fate is in the Hands of the Master of the Universe.”

The Chovos HaLevovs (Bachye Ibn Pakuda) writes that the main benefit for a Ba’al Bitachon is menuchas hanefesh [peace of mind]. We all know how hard it is to be a Ba’al Bitachon. When one’s financial situation is not going well, when — Heaven forbid — there is illness in the family, it is very difficult to be a Ba’al Bitachon. But it provides a tremendous advantage. The greatest benefit is that there is nothing to worry about. The true serenity that all of us cherish comes from Trust in the Almighty.

Rav Matisyahu Solomon asks from where Yosef managed to draw such strength of confidence. Rav Matisyahu Solomon answers by citing the pasuk in Parshas Vayeshev: “And his master saw that Hashem was with him, and whatever he did Hashem made succeed through him.” [Bereshis 39:3] Rashi comments on the words “and he saw that Hashem was with him” (ki Hashem ito) (based on the Medrash, when explaining how Potiphar was able to discern this about Yosef): “The Name of Hashem was constantly on his lips” (shagur b’piv). No matter what happened to him, he would always psych himself out and say: “This is what the Almighty wants.”

This was not just lip service. Yosef said this over and over until it had a profound effect on him and he MEANT it. It is easy to talk a good game. It is another thing to “walk the talk” and live a good game.

If a person talks in those terms enough, eventually he will think in those terms and ultimately if he thinks in those terms, he will come to the level of Bitachon [Trust] in the Almighty through which he will truly achieve a serenity and tranquility that allows him to calmly face all of life’s travails.

One can ultimately stand in front of the most powerful human being in the world and not be fazed in the slightest. He will be in a relaxed state, knowing that the Ribono shel Olam is in charge and His Will will prevail.

In our own lives, we’ve seen prisoners of conscience who came out of the Soviet Union or who survived Nazi concentration camps. We ask ourselves — how did they have such fortitude? How is it that they were able to survive those horrors without breaking? They had this measure of supreme Bitachon. It is a very hard level to achieve, but once one has achieved it, he has attained one of the sweetest gifts in life.

Re: yechida's reflections 28 Dec 2019 23:52 #346309

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From torah org-battling jealousy by R Pinchas Winston

“You did not send me here, but God, and He made me a father to Pharaoh, a lord over all his household, and a ruler over the entire land of Egypt.” (Bereishis 45:8)

Parashas Mikeitz is almost always Shabbos Chanukah. It is, by far the parshah that deals with the topic of Hashgochah Pratis—Divine Providence— more than any other. As Yosef tells his brothers in this week’s parshah:

“You did not send me here, but God, and He made me a father to Pharaoh, a lord over all his household, and a ruler over the entire land of Egypt.” (Bereishis 45:8)

Usually it is the other way around. Usually it is the guilt-ridden party that tells the victim, “Look, what happened to you was Hashgochah Pratis. So, if you have a complaint take it up with God! We were just His messengers to carry out His will.” Not this time. This time it was the perpetrators who felt completely guilty for having misjudged and then mistreated their brother, and who did not know how to clear their names. This time it was the victim who tried to lessen the culpability of those against whom others would have no problem taking revenge for their role in one of the worse breaches of family trust.

Nevertheless, the brothers still not get it, as we see at the end of Parashas Vayechi:

Yosef’s brothers saw that their father had died, and they said, “Perhaps Yosef will hate us and return to us all the evil that we did to him.” So they commanded [messengers to go] to Yosef, to say, “Your father commanded [us] before his death, saying, ‘Say to Yosef, “Please forgive your brothers’ transgression and their sin, for they did evil to you. Now please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” ‘ ” Yosef wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also wept and fell before him, and they said, “Behold, we are your slaves.” But Yosef said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for am I instead of God? Indeed, you intended evil against me, [but] God designed it for good, in order to bring about what is at present to keep a great populace alive.” (Bereishis 50:15-20)

The brothers, of course, had lied. As Yosef well knew his father would never have said such a thing to his brothers because Yosef knew that his father would never have suspected him of taking revenge. Yosef’s brothers had fabricated the story because they were afraid what Yosef might do to them now that their father was no longer there to stop him.

“But,” Yosef chided them, “if God wants you to suffer for what you did to me, does it make a difference what I feel? And, if God does not want to punish you for your role in my kidnapping, can I harm you anyhow? Wasn’t it you, Yehudah, who not long ago told me:

“What shall we say to my master? What shall we speak, and how shall we exonerate ourselves? God has found your servants’ iniquity, both we and the one in whose possession the goblet has been found.” (Bereishis 44:16)

What was the fundamental difference between Yosef and his brothers, and what does it have to do with the number 11? (The significance of the number 11 is discussed in a separate essay.)

The answer requires a person to understand what it is precisely that Amalek does to spiritually destroy a person. You can’t fix what you don’t know broke. Once again the key information is in the Torah itself, elucidated by Rashi.

The Torah says:

And he said, “For there is a hand on the throne of God, [that there shall be] a war for God against Amalek from generation to generation.” (Shemos 17:16)

Why is “throne” written Chof-Samech and not Chof-Samech-Aleph? And why is God’s Name divided in half? The Holy One, Blessed is He, swears that neither His Name nor His throne will be whole until the name of Amalek is completely eradicated. (Rashi)

Rashi explains the verse rather matter-of-factly. The truth is that this is a very Kabbalistic idea. What does it mean that neither God’s throne nor His Name is complete, and how does Amalek affect that?

The Divine Name, of course, to which Rashi refers is, Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh, the Name we are meant to unify by rejoining Yud-Heh and Vav-Heh. In other words, we are supposed to unify the 11, the gematria of Vav-Heh, with the 15, the gematria of of Yud-Heh. Once we do, the World of the Kingdom of Shaddai will have been completely rectified, and Amalek will have been destroyed forever. (The concept of “World of the Kingdom of Shaddai” as mentioned in the prayer “Aleynu” is part of a separate essay.) What does this mean, practically-speaking?

It is easier to see this in action than it is to explain it. After Yosef revealed himself and the brothers made peace, Yosef did something remarkable:

Yosef gave them wagons by Pharaoh’s orders, and he gave them provisions for the way. He gave them all, to each one [several] changes of clothing, and to Binyomin he gave 300 [pieces of] silver and five changes of clothing. (Bereishis 45:21-22)

This was remarkable because the Talmud states:

Rava bar Mechasia said in the name of Rav Chama bar Guria, who said it in Rav’s name: A man should never treat one son differently from the other children, for on account of the two sela’s weight of material which Ya’akov gave Yosef in excess of his other sons, his brothers became jealous of him and the matter resulted in our forefathers going down to Egypt. (Shabbos 10b)

In fact, the Talmud questions Yosef’s actions:

Is it possible that this righteous man should fall into the very mistake from which he himself had suffered? (Megillah 16a)

The Talmud answers the question, but rather obscurely, saying that Yosef did it to make a point:

Rebi Binyomin bar Yafes said: “He gave him a hint that a descendant would issue from him who would go forth before a king in five royal garments, as it says, “And Mordechai went forth from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue, etc.” (Megillas Esther 8:15). (Megillah 16b)

Tell that to Yosef’s brothers who may not have caught the hint, or even believed in it. From their perspective, Binyomin was being favored over them. Though they still may have felt remorse for how they had treated Yosef, they may have wondered if what they had done was the reason why Yosef was now antagonizing them.

There is no question that Yosef was making a point to his brothers, but in the larger context of all that had transpired since they first turned against him:

He again dreamed another dream, and he related it to his brothers, and he said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream, and behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were prostrating themselves to me.” And he told [it] to his father and to his brothers, and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Will we come I, your mother, and your brothers to prostrate ourselves to you to the ground?” So his brothers envied him . . . (Bereishis 37:9-11)

Thus, the entire episode began with jealousy. Yosef wanted to remind his brothers of this because jealousy is an important trait when it comes to Hashgochah Pratis. This is also what God told Kayin back at the beginning of the history of sibling rivalry:

But to Kayin and to his offering He did not turn, and it annoyed Kayin exceedingly, and his countenance fell. And God said to Kayin, “Why are you annoyed, and why has your countenance fallen? Is it not so that if you improve you will be forgiven? If you do not improve, however, sin is lying at the entrance, and to you is its longing, but you can rule over it.” (Bereishis 4:5-7)

Both Kayin and Hevel had offered sacrifices to God, Hevel from the best of his flock and Kayin from the least. Consequently God acknowledged the sacrifice of Hevel while ignoring that of Kayin, which made Kayin jealous enough of Hevel to want to murder him. So inherent was this in Kayin that his name has letters similar to those of “kinah,” or “jealousy.”

However, God told Kayin, the situation had nothing to do with Hevel. It had to do with Kayin himself and the sacrifice he had brought. Hevel received what he had deserved as a matter of Hashgochah Pratis, and not at any cost to Kayin. No one can take something away from a person that belongs to the person. He can only take something away from a person that seemed to have belonged to the person.

This is the deeper meaning of what the rabbis say:

Who is a happy person? One who is happy with his portion. (Pirkei Avos 4:1)

This does not simply mean that if life serves you lemons, make lemonade. It means that the moment a person realizes that everything he has, or does not have, has been Divinely orchestrated. He will accept his portion and stop feeling cheated in life—even when it appears that he is being cheated in life.

Thus the secret to happiness in life is not simply accepting one’s portion in life, but accepting that it is his portion because God has given it . . . and only it. Even should jealousy drive a person to acquire what his neighbor owns, or worse, steal it, he will never truly own it in the full sense of the term because from God’s perspective it is not meant for him. A person may acquire a lot, but he can only truly own what is meant for him.

This was what Ya’akov was teaching us through his confrontation with Eisav. In the end, what could have been a full scale war and fight to the death ended up being a discussion about who is going to keep a gift:

Eisav said, “I have plenty, my brother. Keep what is yours.”

However, Ya’akov said, “Please, no! If I have found favor in your eyes then take my presents from me, since I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of [an angel] of God, and you were pleased with me. Please take my offering which was brought to you, for God has favored me, and I have all.” (Bereishis 3:1-11)

The rabbis point out the difference in the language that Eisav used to describe his financial position, and that of Ya’akov to describe his:

I have all: All that I need. Eisav, however, spoke haughtily, saying, “I have plenty,” [meaning] much more than I need. (Rashi)

Inherent in Eisav’s approach to life is jealousy. Eisav, and his descendants, easily become jealous because they live with the belief that a person has what he does because either he gives it to himself, or fate does. From this perspective a “neighbor” can have something you can want for yourself and make you feel as if you’re lacking while you do not have it. Everything else that goes wrong in society stems from this corrupted approach to life and Divine Providence.

This is what Amalek knows and uses to his advantage. He uses the fact that God moves property around through people and events to distract people away from the Hashgochah Pratis behind all of it. He does whatever he can to convince people that it is people who wrong people, even against the will of God, so that the victims will blame the perpetrators and overlook the Divine Providence in the events of their lives.

This is the Vav-Heh of God’s Name. It represents the part of Hashgochah Pratis that can become vague enough that people can confuse it for the will and actions of men only. Even though Yehudah told Yosef, who he had still thought was the viceroy of Egypt, that God was behind the bizarre turn of events that were ensnaring them, he acted as if Yosef was in control the situation.

Yosef was telling his brothers, through those very events, that his ruse could only be successful if God was the One making it succeed. If they had seen this back at the beginning when he first had his dreams and his father had shown him favoritism, they would never have come to the point that they could sell him into slavery. Instead of holding Yosef responsible for their troubles they would have turned to God and worked it out.

“Yes,” Yosef told them, “I was able to put you through the ringer and turn your lives upside down. But, at the end of the day, am I in place of God? Obviously not. I would not have had the idea to do what I did had God not arranged it, and I certainly would not have been successful if God had not approved it.”

When a person reaches this level of understanding, not just on the level of his mind, but on the level of his heart, he acts with the force of 11 and unifies Vav-Heh with Yud-Heh. And, not only does he project the light of the Menorah to the world, he himself, like Yosef HaTzaddik, becomes a human Ner Shel Chanukah. This is the ultimate accomplishment in life, and rectification of Creation.

Re: yechida's reflections 03 Jan 2020 15:09 #346496

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Daily Reflections

Jan 1-5

Jan 1

Transforming your inner self

Transforms the World

For individual soul

Is the inner dimension

Of our World

Jan 2

Amazing wonder

How God delights

In us mortals

Serving Him

Jan 3

Intimacy with one’s wife/husband

Though only one of many

 crucial aspects of marriage

is vitally important

& a great gift

From God

Not to be taken lightly

Jan 4

Let not the Blessings in my life

Cause me to become arrogant

Instead-be grateful

Utilizing this gift properly

Jan 5

May my inner & outer life

Align

In perfect harmony

Re: yechida's reflections 05 Jan 2020 00:12 #346508

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From Torah.org-Rabbi Frand

Parshas Vayechi

Guaranteed Protection from the Evil Eye

In Yaakov’s blessing to Yosef, he states: “A son of grace is Yosef, a son of grace to the eye; girls stepped up to gaze.” [Bereshis 49:22]. Rashi elaborates on this blessing: Yosef was so handsome that the Egyptian women went to great lengths to get a glimpse of him. Egyptian girls would climb up the walls when he went by, so that they would be able to gaze upon his beauty.

Is this the way we talk about a person known as “Yosef the righteous”? Do we describe him by saying he was “drop-dead gorgeous”, that he was “a real knock-out!”? Heaven forbid! The Torah is not discussing a movie-star that women swoon over when they see him approach! What, then, is the meaning of this pasuk?

Rashi adds a further insight into this pasuk: “They also expounded it as referring to the fact that the evil eye will not affect his offspring.” The pasuk is not coming to tell us that the praise of Yosef was the fact that he was so handsome that women wanted to gaze upon him. On the contrary, the point is that despite the fact that everyone wanted to see him, he was given a special blessing that the “evil eye” [ayin hara] not rule over him. According to this interpretation, the words Alei Ayin in the pasuk are expounded as Olei Ayin, mean they supersede the evil eye and can not be affected by it.

The Talmud [Berachos 20a] states that Rabbi Yochanan used to sit by the ritual immersion pools (mikveh) at night so that when the women would emerge from their immersion, they would see Rabbi Yochanan, who was exceedingly handsome. [This is based on a Kabalistic idea that the child one conceives immediately after immersing in the mikveh will be impacted by the first thing a woman sees following her immersion]. Rabbi Yochanan’s colleagues asked him whether he was not worried about Ayin Hara [the evil eye] to do such a thing (bragging about his beauty, as it were). Rabbi Yochanan responded that he was not worried about Ayin Hara because he was a descendant of Yosef, who was immune from the effects of the evil eye.

The question is why Yosef would be immune from an “ayin hara”? Classically, we would think that he is a prime candidate for being vulnerable to the evil eye (since he is the focus of all the women’s attention).

The Shemen HaTov addresses this question by reference to a Medrash [Bamidbar Rabbah Nasso 14] which discusses a special quality of the Mishkan in Shilo. Normally, sacrificial meats have to be consumed on the premises of the Temple compound. Mishkan Shilo however had the quality that one could consume meat sacrificed there as long as one was within sight of the Mishkan (b’chol haroeh). The Medrash goes on to say that Mishkan Shilo was built within Yosef’s territory in Eretz Yisrael and since Yosef did not let his eyes feast on that which was not his (when tempted by the wife of Potiphar), therefore measure for measure, he was protected from the evil eye and likewise the Mishkan of Shilo’s effect extended to everywhere from where it could be seen.

In other words, the praise of Yosef HaTzadik was that when all the Egyptian women were looking at him, he was not looking at them! He guarded his eyes and therefore he was protected from the evil eye. This is the antidote to Ayin Hara. Everyone in the world is worried about “Ayin Hara”. They are the scariest two words in our vocabulary! But Chazal teach us a way to protect ourselves from it. When we watch our own eyes (from straying), then we will not be affected by the gazing of other people’s eyes either!

This too, perhaps is what Rabbi Yochanan meant in the previously quoted passage from Gemara Berachos. When Rabbi Yochanan said he was a descendant of Yosef he did not necessarily mean that Yosef was his biological ancestor. He meant that he was Yosef’s spiritual disciple. He was not concerned about the evil eye, because he knew that he was not looking at the women when they came out from the Mikveh. For this reason, he could be confident that there was no impropriety on his part and that the evil eye would not affect him either.

Re: yechida's reflections 05 Jan 2020 12:57 #346520

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Jan 6

Please allow me

The wisdom

To know balance

Between healthy self confidence

& unhealthy arrogance

Jan 7

Please Grant me wisdom

To differentiate between

healthy humility

& crushing self-bashing

Jan 8

Please grant me

A healthy mind

Regulating

My emotions

In proper measure

Jan 9

Help me be kind

Even when withholding

Of the flow of expressed love

Needs to take place

Let me do so

With love & compassion

Jan 10

Wish that people

Experience joy

Let their happiness

Be my happiness

Filling me

with their  joy

Jan 11

My personal

Sholom Bayis

Not complete

When my nation’s

Marriages

Are going through a challenge

For every marriage

Is God’s garden

Jan 12

Breathing

The forgotten joy

Of the healthy

Renew

Within ourselves

That joyful reality!!!

Re: yechida's reflections 10 Jan 2020 16:24 #346633

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Jan 13

Filling out an initial dental form

So grateful to God

For all the diseases

He saves me from!!!

Jan 14

It’s a gift-an opportunity

At a mincha prayer

To place a dollar

In the charity box

Jan 15

Torah study

Is where all

Jewish Minds

Meet

Jan 16

Sugar -perhaps in coffee

Not added to soup

Salt-perhaps added to soup

Never added to coffee

Utilize both the sugar & the salt

Of our words

In correct wise measure

Bringing out the greatest potential

In others

Jan 17

God receives pleasure (“nachas”)

From our good deeds

& in turn

We feel

That pleasure from him

Jan 18

Every tribe’s particular blessing

Incorporates & intertwines

With their brother’s blessings

Via their Unity

Jan 19

Early christians

Erred greatly

Desires to

Eradicate hatred

Nevertheless

Promoted that very hatred

For many bloody centuries

Perhaps only now

When the muslem killings

Reached them too

Are they beginning

To slowly rectify

This long-lasting

Baseless hatred

Jan 20

My individual soul

Connected

To the national soul of Israel

As One

Jan 21

Our individual good deeds

Influence

Even troubled people

To become better

Improving even

The animal, vegetative

& mineral worlds

Elevating them

By our individual acts

Of goodness

Jan 22

Don’t despair

From the external chaos

Of the world

For its inner life & essence

Is leading us

In hidden ways

Towards our ultimate redemption

Jan 23

Externally-generations may look spiritually weaker

But internally stronger

As the collective power of Israel

Increases exponentially

With the accumulation of Torah & good deeds

Through the generations

Jan 24

Brilliant infinite light

From all the sacrifices & good deeds

Of all the generations past

Currently stored & hidden

Until the Ultimate Redemption

To be revealed then

Jan 25

May You & only You

Be my “comfort zone”

My inner essence of purity

& calmness

Within

As I move out of my “comfort” zone

To grow & be close to You

Re: yechida's reflections 12 Jan 2020 00:30 #346645

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From Torah.org-by R Raymond Beyda

Carrying is Caring

Parshas Shemos

 “It happened in those days and Moshe grew up, and he went out to his brothers and he saw their sufferings.” [Shemot 2,11]

Although Moshe Rabenu grew up as a prince in the palace of the Pharoah, he learned from his mother that he was not an Egyptian but instead, he was a Jew. He felt a need to go out of his secure, comfortable surroundings in order to view the plight of his brethren. The verse simply states that he saw their suffering but Rashi reveals the depth of his emotional attachment to the slaves that he saw struggling in the mud. “He put his eyes and his heart” into it. Our sages teach this is a trait called “noseh b’ohl im habero” — “carrying the load along with your friend.” It is in the merit of Moshe’s excellence in this trait that earned him the position as Savior of his people and gave us the leader who not only freed us from bondage but also brought us the Torah and led us to the boundaries of the Promised Land.

Rav Haim Friedlander zt’l says people are naturally “self” oriented. Even when people do acts of kindness they may be motivated by selfishness. Someone who is uncomfortable seeing pain or suffering might help others thinking they are acting in a “giving” manner when they are actually sub- consciously removing from sight that which bothers them. The act may benefit the one in need, but the motivation comes from the id — the “givers” selfish drives.

In 1895 there was a fire that destroyed many homes in the city of Brisk. The great leader of the Jewish community, Rav Haim Soloveitchik zt’l, tirelessly worked day and night to restore the dwellings of all those families who had lost their homes in the blaze. He also refused to go home to bed, but rather slept on the floor of the synagogue until every family had a place to live. He did not merely know about their plight and he did not merely help them out of their troubles — he FELT their pain and could not rest until their suffering was relieved. He felt that they were really part of him.

Another story is told about the Hafetz Haim zt’l who cried and prayed constantly during World War 1 because he knew how much his brethren were suffering all over Europe. Many were subjected to pogroms, others were drafted into battle for the countries in which they lived and others lost their homes in the changing boundaries of Europe’s map. One night his wife woke up and found that he was not in his bed. She found him sleeping on a wooden bench with his head resting on his hands. “Yisrael Meir”, she said, “Why aren’t you sleeping in your bed? Where is your pillow?”

“How can I sleep in a bed,” he replied, “When so many of our people are suffering the ravages of war?”

He too did not hear about the troubles of another without FEELING as if the problem was his own.

Today, we are aware of a lot of Jewish suffering around the globe. We are all hungry for news from the battleground in Eretz Yisrael. But there are many Jews who are falling prey to assimilation even here in the United States. France has been showing an increase in Anti-Semitic crimes. There are still Jewish communities in Muslim countries and in the Former Soviet Union. Many of our people have financial problems, while others cannot find a mate. Some who are married have no children and others who have children fall ill to horrible diseases. What does Hashem want? Perhaps He wants us to be noseh b’ohl im habero –to help in carrying the load — by praying, giving charity and assistance to those in need. But most importantly, to feel that another Jew’s problem is my own. His or her problem hurts me like my difficulties. It was this attitude that made Moshe the leader of our salvation from Egypt and perhaps if we can truly evoke that unity in our people today, Hashem will bring the final redemption with the coming of Mashiah speedily and in our days. Amen.

Re: yechida's reflections 18 Jan 2020 23:28 #346793

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Vaara

From Torah.org

PARSHAS VAERA- KINDLINESS IS G-DLINESS by Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

And Pharaoh sent for Moshe and Aharon and said to them, ‘I have sinned this time. HASHEM is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.” — Shemos 9:27 After months and months of rebellion, Pharaoh finally admitted that he was wrong. The Dos Zakainim explains that the makkah of barad moved Pharaoh more than any other. And it was because of one factor: Moshe had warned him that the hail would kill anything living. Again and again, Moshe cautioned Pharaoh to take his livestock and his slaves inside. Because Pharaoh was repeatedly warned to save the living creatures, he was moved and recognized his error. This Dos Zakainim is difficult to understand. Why would this detail cause Pharaoh to admit that HASHEM was right? He witnessed the greatest revelation of HASHEM’s mastery of nature—and it didn’t move him. He watched as Mitzrayim, the superpower of its time, was brought to its knees. That didn’t move him. Why should this single factor have such an effect? This question is best answered with a moshol.

The Nature of the Human Henry Ford, while a brilliant businessman, was not known for his kindliness. In fact, he used to brag that he never did anything for anyone. The story is told that while he was going for a walk in the fields with a friend, they heard yelps coming from a nearby property. A dog had gotten caught in a barbed wire fence and couldn’t get out. Ford walked over to the fence, gently pulled on the wire, and freed the dog. When he returned to the road, his friend said to him, “I thought you were the guy who never did anything for anyone.” Henry Ford responded, “That was for me. The dog’s cries were hurting me.” This story is compelling because Ford didn’t care about anyone but himself. He didn’t choose to be kind. He didn’t want to feel the pain of others. In fact, he tried his best to squelch this sensitivity. But it was still there. He couldn’t stop himself. He was pre-programmed to have mercy. In his inner makeup, there was that voice that said, “Henry, the poor animal is in pain. Go do something!” Even though he prided himself on selfishness, he couldn’t quell that voice inside. It bothered him to hear a creature in pain. When he heard those cries, they reached down to his inner core, to that part of the human that only wants to do good, proper and noble things. That part was touched. It saw an animal in pain and said, “Don’t just stand there, Henry. Do something. That poor animal is suffering.”

Let Us Make Man This is illustrative of the basic components of the human. When Hashem created man, He joined together two diverse elements to form his soul. These are his spiritual soul, what we call his nishamah, and his animal soul, which is comprised of all of the drives and inclinations needed to keep him alive. The conscious “I” that thinks and feels is made up of both parts. The nishamah comes from under the throne of Hashem’s glory. It is pure and holy and only wishes for that which is good, proper and noble. Because it comes from the upper worlds, it derives no benefit from this world and can’t relate to any of its pleasures. The other part of man’s soul is very different. It is exactly like that of an animal, with all of the passions and desires necessary to drive man though his daily existence. We humans are this contradictory combination. Within me is an animal soul made up of pure desires and appetites, and within me is a holy nishamah that only wishes to do that which is right and proper. The animal soul only knows its needs and exists to fulfill them. The nishamah is magnanimous and only wishes to give. These two total opposites are forged together to create the whole we know as the human. Touching the Soul

This seems to be the answer to the Dos Zakainim. Pharaoh was a human being, and as all humans, he had a sublime side to him. He may have spent years ignoring and pushing it down, but it remained within him. What he experienced during the plague of hail was pure chessed. His enemy was concerned for his good. There was nothing that HASHEM had to gain by protecting the cattle and the slaves of the Egyptians. The only motivation was generosity, goodness, and a pure concern for others. Seeing this warmed even the callous heart of Pharaoh. He recognized this wasn’t driven by lowly motives. He understood that he was dealing with something outside of the realm of normal human interests. He saw HASHEM. Being like HASHEM This also helps us understand one of the great ironies of life. The selfish person is focused on his needs and his wants. The generous person is concerned about the welfare of others—even at the cost of his own needs. We would assume that the selfish person would happy. After all, he is singly focused on what’s good for him. But the generous person has the good of others on his mind—surely he can’t be as happy. He has to worry about the good of others. Yet, just the opposite is true. The more a person is focused on others’ needs, the happier he is. The more he focuses on his own needs and wants, the unhappier he will be.

When man develops the trait of giving, he achieves inner peace, balance, and harmony. When he ignores it, he suffers. His sense of self becomes fragmented. One part of him is demanding, “What’s in it for me?” and the other side is crying out, “What have I done for others?” The more a person develops the nature of giving, the more he becomes like HASHEM, and the holier he becomes. This why kindliness is so basic to being a Torah observant Jew. If it could be, HASHEM is all-giving, kindness, and mercy. Many mitzvahs train us in these traits because this is the greatest elevation of the human—to be as much like HASHEM as humanly possible. While it takes focus and attention to bring out the higher part of our personality, it is ingrained in our soul and so it comes naturally to us.

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