Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bringing Back the Lost Tribes in Time for Geulah!

An encouraging note from Hakhel:

Special Note Four: We continue with our focus on the Tenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Teka B’Shofar. The Sefer Seder HaYom writes that there is something very special about this Bracha that goes even beyond the previous Bracha of Go’el Yisroel, in that we ask for redemption not only personally and in our current situations and environments--but this time we seek “Hashkeit U’vitcha B’Artzseinu Ka’asher Batechila”--for us to return to our original wholeness and wholesomeness as we existed when the Bais HaMikdash was first built. This means (as is brought in the Siddur HaGra) that we are davening here that the Aseres HaShevatim, part of whom disappeared into the dark mountains, and part of whom disappeared beyond the Sambatyon River, will be brought together with us once again. Even those who are “Nidchei--dispersed or pushed away, will be brought back together! Fascinatingly, the Seder HaYom adds that the term Yisroel, the last word of the Bracha, does not only refer to the people of Klal Yisroel, but to Yaakov Avinu, known as Yisroel. How?! Yaakov had three sons, each in a different kind of Golus--Yosef, who everyone had given up on; Shimon, who was alone and in trouble; and Binyomin, for whose life he very much feared. It is from and for all of these different types of Golus that we daven--so that we can come back B’Simcha Gedolah from each and every kind of Golus--to a united Geulah! Remember--M’Kabeitz Nidchei Amo Yisroel!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Things to Think About and Work on During the Three Weeks

Courtesy of today's Hakhel email:

Special Note Two: Together, we continue through the meaningful Three Week Period. We provide the following timely recommendation that is spreading through our community worldwide:

As you recite the fourteenth bracha of Shemone Esrei, Vlirushalayim Ircha three times daily, spend just an extra few seconds of time and effort to concentrate on the plain meaning of the words, and on the nachas and simcha Hashem and K'lal Yisroel would have with the rebuilding of Yerushalayim and the Bais Hamikdash.

Some Helpful Points:
 You may want to highlight the bracha in some way in your siddur to remind yourself.
 A tear from time to time, if possible, is also meaningful.
 Try to keep a written record of the times you had kavana (maximum three times per day!)


Special Note Three: In the Haftarah of Teshuva, Shuva Yisroel, the Navi Hoshea teaches us that we are to do Teshuva "Ki Koshalta Ba'avonecha"--because you have stumbled in **your sins.** The Navi is careful to point out that one person's sins may be quite different from the sins of another, and that a person must personalize the process. Moreover, the Navi is enjoining us not to merely blame the world's ills upon the 'real resha'im',or even on the 'tinokos she'nishba'u' worldwide (including those who may be in so-called powerful positions in Eretz Yisroel itself and worldwide). Instead, if the Bais HaMikdash is not rebuilt, if the dreaded machalos continue to afflict the old and young, if the worldwide nuclear threat is real, if a world racing ahead technologically is being terrorized by madmen based upon so-called religious precepts, if the international economy (and individual Parnassah) are sorely hurting, then we have to look not outward, then our fingers are not to point here and there, but we are to look inward for the 'avonecha' that we should be healing our bodies and souls of. Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us in Mishlei (21:2)"Kol Derech Ish Yoshor B'Ainov-- a man views his actions as upright". The Rabbeinu Yonah explains that the Pasuk teaches that it is natural for a person to justify his Middos and his conduct. Therefore, the Pasuk cited concludes "VeSochen Libos Hashem--but Hashem resides inside his heart". The Rabbeinu Yonah explains the end of the Pasuk to mean that Hashem intervenes in our lives in order to inspire us to rectify our mistakes (translation from Artscroll Tanach). The events surrounding and, indeed, pervading us today appear to be that direct intervention-- the Sochen Libos Hashem.

In one of the shortest Pesukim in the entire Torah, we are taught in last week Parsha (Bamidbar 26:11)"Uvnei Korach lo maisu--and the sons of Korach did not die'. Chazal explain that they did Teshuva and that, accordingly, a place was designated for them at the apex of Gehinnom. There is an obvious question here --if they did Teshuva, why did they still end up in Gehinnom, albeit at a high point?! HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita answers that their Teshuva was done **after** the earth had already opened. If their Teshuva had been done literally MOMENTS earlier, they would have remained alive in this world! Indeed, at the outset of the Sefer Sha'arei Teshuva, Rabbeinu Yonah alerts his readers to the folly, naivete, and recklessness of one who delays Teshuva. It is for this reason that we wait not until Elul to remind ourselves and our readers of this life-giving need.

We each have to start somewhere. As we have mentioned in the past, HaRav Moshe Cordvero, S'tl in the classic Sefer Tomer Devorah(Chapter 4) writes that one should remind himself to do Teshuva in some way every day. If you really need a jump start, we can mention that a reader advised us (THIS IS UNCONFIRMED) that he had heard in the name of one of the Gedolei HaDor that current world conflict and turbulence is directing us to improve in the area of Ona'as Devorim ( to rectify bad relations among people). The reader added that he heard in the name of another Gadol that to improve our current plight talking in Shul must be curbed (as the Tosfos Yom Tov had commented in light of the 1648-49 Pogroms). Our note is that the common denominator between the two is improvement in the area of speech and silence--knowing what to say--and when and where to say it.

Let us take the Three Week opportunity in which we are currently enveloped to demonstrate to Hashem--and to ourselves--that we understand what we have to do, and that we are acting upon it!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rejoicing with H-shem at the Geulah

I just saw this email from Praying with Passion - a beautiful series on the whole but these are such uplifting insights - and exactly focused on the topic of this blog that I had to share them:

Tefillah Focus Of The Week:
הללוי-ה שירו לה'Rejoicing With Hashem

הללוי-ה, שירו לה' שיר חדש, תהלתו בקהל חסידים. ישמח ישראל בעשיו, בני ציון יגילו במלכם. יהללו שמו במחול...Meaning:(The simple translation of the prayer):
Hallelu-kah! Sing to Hashem a new song, let His praise be in the congregation of the devout. Let Israel exult in its Maker, let the children of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise His name with dancing...
Word to the Wise (Meaning within the word):
תהלתו בקהל חסידיםWho is the verse describing when it says, תהלתו בקהל חסידים, “Let his praise be in the congregation of the devout ones?” Sforno (Tehillim 50:5) explains that this refers to those who hold onto the Torah and mitzvos in exile. Upholding the Torah and mitzvos when we see Hashem’s open loving-kindness and compassion conforms to our sense of fairness and justice. However, in exile, Hashem’s loving “hand” is often times hidden. חסידים refers to those who preserve their bond with Hashem despite the hardship of exile, to those who have served Him and clung to Him for so long. To love Hashem in such a difficult situation is considered as going “above and beyond,” which is the definition of an act of piety.
One summer day in 1941, before the enemy took them all away to be killed, Rav Elchonon Wasserman addressed fellow townspeople in the courtyard of the home where he had been staying. Rav Elchonon spoke quietly and calmly as was his practice. Not even the sound of his voice was changed; on his face was his customary earnestness.
‘In Heaven it appears that they deem us to be righteous because our bodies have been chosen to atone for Jewry. Therefore, we must repent now, immediately. There is not much time. We must keep in mind that we will be better offerings if we repent. In this way, we will save the lives of our brothers and sisters in America. Let no thought enter our minds, G-d forbid, which is abominable and which renders a [sacrificial] offering unfit. We are now fulfilling the greatest mitzvah.’
Theme: (An essential concept of the prayer):
The Jewish people, who have been loyal to Hashem throughout the exile, will rejoice with Him when the times of Moshiach arrive.

Insight: (Deeper meanings of the theme):

In Hashem's PresenceThis mizmor, שירו לה’ שיר חדש refers to the future, when the final redemption comes. This is hinted with the word ישמח which contain the same letters as the word משיח (Siddur HaYavetz). As the verse testifies, when the final redemption is upon us, ישמח ישראל בעשיו, the Jewish people will rejoice with our Maker, just as a child delights with his father’s presence after a prolonged absence. The rejoicing will not come simply in response to the abundance and delicacies of the redeemed world, but rather, our joy will be in the revelation of Hashem’s presence and the establishment of His rule over the world.
Shlomo HaMelech (Koheles 7:2) teaches: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting (for that is the end of man) and the living should take it to heart.” The simple meaning of this statement is that this brush with mortality motivates the visitor to examine his priorities. However, there is a deeper, core lesson in the prayer one says upon departing from the mourner, “May God comfort you among the rest of the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”
In effect, one tells the mourner that his sadness is shared by the entire Jewish people. All Jews have lost the comfort and security of living in the presence of our Beloved One. From that loss, all other losses unfold. One who understands the deeper meaning of this prayer will indeed feel spurred to re-order his priorities, not only because life is so short, but more so because he will be motivated to do whatever is necessary to hasten the day when the Shechinah’s full presence is restored, the day when all sorrows will end, when we will rejoice with our Maker.

Visualize: (Images that bring the prayer to life):
Coming HomeA young father begins a new business that requires him to travel abroad for six weeks. Each day, the children ask their mother, “When is Daddy coming home?” She keeps assuring them that he will indeed return. They are too young to understand weeks and months, but she does her best to keep their hopes up.
Finally, the big day arrives. The children’s father walks through the door and his children leap into his arms. Soon, he is pulling a wide variety of fascinating gifts out of his bags – dolls, toys, candies and jewelry of every description. The children are nearly drunk with delight as they examine their new treasures. But when their father heads into the kitchen to get some refreshment, the children drop their toys and run after him. Now that they’ve got him back, there’s nothing they want more than to be near him.
In the same way, when the Jewish people are once again able to experience Hashem’s closeness, the physical bounty inherent in redemption will be only a side-benefit. Basking in Hashem’s presence will be our greatest joy. The peace and plenty we will enjoy will only exist to free us to expend all our energy in connecting to our Father in Heaven.

Try This:
Imagine that everything you need for your physical well-being and happiness is right at your fingertips, and that you do not take it for granted. Each and every gift is a constant source of delight and gratitude to Hashem. Imagine that full, contented feeling – the feeling of living in a redeemed world – when you say the words: ישמח ישראל בעשיו.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Geulah Every Day!

From today's Hakhel email:

Special Note Two: We now reach the Seventh Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Re’eh (Na) Veanyeinu--the bracha of Geulah! HaRav Yonasan Eibeschutz, Z’tl, in the Sefer Ya’aros Devash, provides important guidelines and guidance in this bracha. “In this Bracha, one should daven for Geulas Yisroel--not because we will then be the princes of the land and leaders of mankind, which will in fact be the case, but rather so that we can once and for all finally attain Shlaimus and bring an end to Chillul Hashem--as it is permanently replaced with Kiddush Hashem--and this is what we mean by U’Ge’alainu Meheira LeMa’an Shemecha. We should also have in mind that even if we are not worthy of being saved--Hashem can act through his Great Mercy by miracle--outside of and beyond teva-- to redeem us even if we are undeserving--and this is the essence of Ki Go’el Chazak Atta.” HaRav Eibeschutz concludes that even if one did not see the Ultimate Geulah today, he must recognize and appreciate that EVERY DAY we are redeemed from enemies--some more overt, some less overt, who seek to harm, hurt and destroy us in any way they can devise--and Hashem saves us from their designs. This is why the bracha concludes in the present tense--Go’el Yisroel--because we truly experience Geulah every day--and should show our appreciation to Hashem for it. Indeed, it may very well be that if we properly recognize Hashem’s great graciousness to us in our daily Geulos--we can be zoche Middah KeNegged Middah to the great and final Ge’ulah--speedily and in OUR day!