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“You Can Be Off By 1 In A G’matriah”

For all of us who love G’matrias (the art of using the numerical value of the Hebrew letters to find correlations in the Torah), we know that there is a rule called “Im hakollel“. This is where we add 1 digit to a G’matriah so that it will equal and correlate with the numerical value of that which we’d like to compare/connect it to. On the surface of things, it may seem like a way of “beating the system”, whereby as long as you are “close enough” – you are allowed to draw a parallel. This is a mistake. Rather, the allowance for the “im hakollel” (the arbitrary addition of 1 digit) is representative of the value of the actual totality of the item as a concept!

For example; suppose you have a table. This table is made up of four legs and a slab of wood on top (5 pieces in all). Each individual piece of wood in isolation has a specific and limited value (a wooden leg might be worth \$1 etc.). However, when you create a synergy between all 5 pieces and fuse them together (in a specific sequence), you now form a new concept called a table! Each individual piece is now subservient to a higher calling and thus becomes more valuable as a table than the sum of its (individual) parts. This is the meaning of the concept of “im hakollel”! That is to say, that the extra digit which we add on, is representative of the totality of the specific sequence of numbers (and their arrangement) which transforms it into a new and greater concept than existed previously.

This is why a Jew is called a “Yehudi”. We are defined by our mutual association to all of our brethren in our shared goal of being servants of Hashem! When we stand together with our fellow Jews in solidarity of purpose, we become ever greater than the sum of our individual parts!

<Heard From Rav Shimshon Pincus>

Prayer and Supplication – Parshas Vayechi

Parshas Vayechi

“Asher lakachti m’yad ha’emori b’charbi u’bkashti” (Chaf Beis)

The targum on this Pasuk defines the word B’charbi as “Tzalusi – Prayer” and the word “B’kashti as “Vahusi – Supplication”. What are the differences between these two modes of prayer?

Our precious Siddur and seder Hatefiloh which was enacted by the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah is defined as Tzlausi – Prayer. This is where we use the power and dynamite of our Forefathers, Avraham, Yiztchok and Yaakov who each created the respective Tefilos of Shacharis, Mincha and Ma’ariv (“Avraham Tikein Tefilos Shacharis, Yitzchok Tikein Tefilas Mincha, Yaakov Tikein Tefilas Ma’ariv”).  Our Avos Hakedoshim infused these Tefilos with their special energies and when we repeat these Tefilos, it is their spiuritual energy which carries our Prayers up to the Kisei Hakavod! The 2nd mode of Prayer, called “Vahusi”, is where a Jew calls out to Hashem outside of the framework of our (3 times) daily Tefilos. Indeed, there is a dispute between the Rambam & the Ramban regarding which one of these two modes of Prayer are more ‘Lchatchila”. Rambam holds that a person is mechuyav to be mispallel at least 1 short Tefila each day. However, the Ramban argues and says there is no Chiyav M’daoraisah to be Mispallel every day and it is only when a Jew finds himself in a difficult situation that he becomes Mechuyav M’daoraisah to cry out to Hashem to save him from the Tzara (we do not pasken like the Ramban). Essentially, the Ramban holds that the mode of “Vahusi – Suppliaction, is even more important than our standard mode of Tefilah.

What is an exmaple of supplication? Supplication is not dependant on our Siddur and is not limited to the zemanim of Shachris, Mincha or Ma’ariv. Whereas a person who davens the daily Tefilos, will use the wings of our Avos to reach Hashems’ throne, a person who calls out from personal pain to the Ribbono Shel Olam – and at any time of the day, is sure to reach the Kisei Hakavod on their own!

<Heard from Rav Shimshon Pincus>

Mesiras Nefesh and Our Environment

Much of our behavior patterns can be attributed to our surrounding environment and influences.

Take the term “Mesiras Nefesh”. What does it mean to sacrifice for Hashem? Consider a woman who goes out to work so that her husband can learn full time in Kollel. For many, this would constitue and act of Mesiras Nefesh. However, some women may tell you that for them, the ability to leave the house and the kids for awhile is “Chayei Nefesh – Enjoyment”! Consider the term “Masmid”. Today, if a bachur gets up early and learns for 3o minutes before davening, he is considered a “masmid”. However, in previous generations, hasmada was subject to a totally different standard and was categorized by someone who learned for hours on end! So who is the one who is truly a masmid and who is the one who is truly moser nefesh? The answer is that both examples are correct..and it is simply a matter of the environment in which you live. Therefore, although there are many ‘examples’ of mesiras nefesh, I would say that if you had to apply a definition to the term, it would be a persons’ desire and sacrifice to break a specific pattern of  (their) life and to take a step up and a step forward in their avodas Hashem!

<Heard from Rav Shimshon Pincus>

Prayer Is “Good To The Last Drop”!

<Heard from Rav Shimshon Pincus>

I was once daveneing Shacharis in the “Shtieblach” in Meah Shearim (Yerushalayim). Anyone who is familiar with the Shtieblach, knows that it is a “Minyan factory” with minyanim around the clock.

I noticed this precious American Bochur removing his Tefilin towards the end of davening and watched him make a beeline for the door. Being the person who I am, I couldn’t contain myself and I approached the Bachur and asked him in English if he was American? He replied that he was, upon which I said to him, “You must enjoy Turkish Coffee”!

Of course he looked at me as if I was crazy! So I explained to him that in Israel, many people drink Turkish coffee, which leaves a film of dirt/residue at the bottom of the cup calld “botz”. The cup is discarded when people reach the top layer of the botz. I told him that he is treating the davening like a cup of Turkish Coffee! He is davening up until Tachanun and then he is discarding the rest of the davening (ashrei, uva l’tzion, shiur shel yom, aleinu, kaddish,) as if it were “botz”!

However, I told him that as an American, he should treat davening like the Americans treat a good cup of freshly brewed Maxwell House Coffee.;….”GOOD TO THE LAST DROP”!

A Chiddush In Tefiloh – We Are Never Orphaned From Hashem

I thought of a Chiddush this morning during Shacharis.

One of our biggest struggles in gaining an appreciation for our davening, is the thought that Hashem doesn’t care about our isolated Tefilos. We sometimes believe that we are simply “too bad” and that Hashem has forsaken us Chas V’shalom. We fail to realize the power of every Tefiloh.

I previously quoted these beautiful words  of Rav Shlomo Ibn Gavriel, who composed a beautiful statement to reach out to Hashem from a place of despair. We would do well to always remember and to repeat these special words, so that we may derive chizuk from them. I also previously wrote about the incredible lesson (heard from Rav Pincus) which we learn from Menashe Ben Chizkiyahu Melech Yehudah, whose story serves as a reminder that Hashem will never forsake us (see here).

However, today I thought of a new Chiddush.

I once heard from Rav Yaakov Meir Shechter Shlitah, who expressed that we should daven to Hashem not to forsake us and not to “throw us away”. In this vein, I was thinking, we know that Hashem is both our Father and Mother. Hashem breathed life into us and sustains us (As we say in Baruch She’amar, “Boruch Gozer, Umekayeim – G-d creates and sustains.). Hashem gave us a piece of himself, kaviyachol. This divine spark – this “chelek alokai mima’al, is alluded to by Chazzal when it says “Ma’an dinafak, m’dilei nafak  – G-d breathed a piece of himself into us”. Indeed, every Jew has the ability to tap into the divine and as a result of our genetic makeup!

We can easily understand that when we lose a physical parent, we become orphaned as a result of a divine decree. However, our true Father and the Father of all of creation, is our Father in heaven. Once we fully understand and appreciate that we are children of Hashem, we realize that we are never truly orphaned, since Hashem always was and always will be.

Furthermore, for us to become “orphaned” from Hashem Yisborach, means that Hashem must choose to turn himself away from us! Indeed, this is our frequent and subconscious fear – which causes us to lack in our appreciation for each one of our Prayers. We are afraid that we have become orphaned from Hashem! This is reflected in Rav Shechters’ suggestion that we plead to Hashem to not “throw us away” – to not turn himself away from us, Chas V’shalom.

However, I was thinking that we read in davening every day that Hashem is the ultimate protector of Yesomim and Almanos (orphans and widows). As we say in Pesukei Dizimrah, “Yasom V’almana Ye’odeid”. This is G-ds’ promise to never turn himself away from an orphan and to always shield and protect orphans. Perhaps this teaches us a chiddush in Tefiloh. That is, our ability to reach out to Hashem and to say to him; “Look, only You can make me an orphan, both in this world and in the next. However, you also promise to shield and protect your orphans. Therefore, I beg you to heed my prayers and to please not turn yourself away from me in the first place!

Positive and Negative Energies and The Beauty Of Learning Torah! – Rav Shimshon Pincus

Hashem created his world with positive and negative energies. This concept is known as “Zeh Le’umas Zeh” . G-d set up his world so that these two energies are in constant conflict with each other. This means that there is always a delicate balance between these two forces and wherever you find one energy, know that on the other side of that coin/equation, exists the same potential energy in the other direction.

The Gemorah tells us that if somebody should report that the Capitol of Esav (Chur) and the Capitol of Yaakov (Yerushalayim) has been built, do not believe him. These two energies are in constant conflict and cannot be mutually dominant at the same time. In order for one to dominate, the other must be suppressed. This is the meaning of Zeh Le’umas Zeh.

One of the biggest evils that assailed our people in the times of Tanach, was the forces of idolatry. Today, in modern times, we have no idea what this concept means. It is indeed a foreign concept to us. I will tell you that the attraction of idol worship, was not a simple desire to bow down to sticks and stones. There existed a deeper attraction to this, which is not the crux of this discussion. Suffice to say, the Jewish people were ensnared in the grip of this powerful energy. The Gemorah tells us that the Anshei Knesses Hagdolah (the holy men of the great assembly), which consisted of 120 of our leaders with many prophets among them (these great people, like Chaggai, Zacharia, Malachi, Chananya, Mishael, Azarya, Ezra, Zerubavel etc.. were the authors of our precious Siddur), got together to beseech Hashem to rid the Jewish people of this evil. They said to Hashem; “We know that you gave us this evil so that we may face it and resist it and in so doing, be blessed with eternal reward. However, we see that we simply cannot vanquish this evil from our midst, so we implore you to please remove it from us. We do not wish to have the trial and tribulation of this evil, nor do we seek any reward for resisting it. Please just take it away from us. The Gemorah tells that a piece of paper fell down from the heavens with the word “Emes – Truth” on it. We know that the signature of Hashem is Emes. G-d was indicating his agreement to the request of our sages and indeed he abolished the attraction to idolatry from our midst. It is for this reason that we do not feel tempted by idolatry today (and certainly not in its previous form).

(Parenthetically, it says in the Gemorah that when our sages saw that Hashem had granted their request, they once again called out to Hashem and begged him to abolish the evils of lust, immorality and adultery, which ensnares our people. However, they understood that were Hashem to abolish it in its entirety,  men and women would never feel a healthy attraction for each other and people would not marry! So they asked Hashem to remove only the unhealthy attraction between sexes. The Gemorah says that Hakadosh Baruch Hu did not agree to this request, since G-d does not do things “halfway”. It is for this reason that we continue to battle this evil until today.)

The Vilna Gaon tells us that at the same time that G-d abolished the negative force of idolatry, the positive force of (and capability for) prophecy was also removed from our people! We see from here that G-d always creates things (and sustains things) in a blance. There is always a balance between forces of good and evil and it is our job to stay on the right side of the (same) coin.

Of all of the evil energies that G-d placed into our world, there is one overriding energy that assailed the entire world for many centuries; this was the Theory of Evolution. Today, this theory has been rendered somewhat moot by a culture and society which lives in the moment and lusts after the pleasures of instant gratification. In our modern world, we really don’t care or think much about where we come from. - Give people an ice cream and they feel good! However, way back in time and until not very long ago, this absurdity, stupidity and concept of absolute nonthingness (Theory of Evolution) was the pervading theory of the day. It is really mind boggling how millions of people can look at the complexities of the human body and its millions of components and claim it is the result of an accident! The human eye, with its billions of parts working in complete sync with each other, the human heart, the spleen etc. all accidents!!?? The beauty of nature and G-ds world, attributed to an accident!! How stupid can man be!!

The Pasuk in Iyov asks a question. “Ki yesh Lakesef Motzah….” etc. The Pasuk asks where can silver be found?…and gold?.. The Verse goes on to describe how silver can be found in the mines and gold etc. Then the Pasuk asks the question, ”V’hachochma, Me’ayin Timotzei”? – Where can one find wisdom? However, the holy Mekubalim read this as a statement, rather than a question. “V’hachachma, Me’ayin Timotzei!’ – Wisdom can be found in the Ayin“.

What is the meaning of the term Ayin? The term Ayin connotes something without limitations or boundaries. Ayin, is something which cannot be quantified. We know that everything in the world is subject to boundaries and proper quantification. However, the only thing in the world which is infinite and not subject to any type of confinement or classification, is Hashem our King! Hashem is beyond limitations or boundaries. This is the meaning of Ayin! Ayin, refers to Hashem! “V’hachachma, Me’ayin Timotzei”! – Wisdom can be found in Hakadosh Baruch Hu!

Here we find a tremendous and deep manifestation of the concept and attraction of these two energies; - of positive/negative – good and evil.

The beauty and glory of Hashem, and the emptiness and void of Evolution, are just two sides to the same coin! One is the positive and enduring force of all that is good (our Almighty G-d) and the other (Evolution), is the negative and destructive force which represents the (potential) evil baseness of the human spirit.

Here is where the evolutionists were so successful (over and above the cultures of the various Nations of the world which preached and worshiped all kinds of things. The Greeks worshiped the superiority of the Human body, etc.).

The Theory of Evolution, takes the beauty of the G-d and his existence and the responsibility to be subservient to him –  and flips it over on its head and rejects it by claiming the existence of nothing and a responsibilty to nobody! It takes the meaning of “Ayin” – which truthfully points to the existence of an Almighty G-d who is beyond quantification, and flips it over to assert that the word  ”Ayin”  indicates nothingness – and a world resulting from a total accident!

This theory, is the negative energy which is in direct conflict with the positive energy and knowledge of an Almighty G-d, who creates and sustains the World and everything in it. This is an example of the conflicting energies which represents the concept of “Zeh Le’umas Zeh”.

However, we mentioned earlier that in our modern World, we are not so concerned anymore with the question of where we come from. What are our tools of worship today? What negative energies and forces do we battle against, in our Modern culture and society?

I believe that today, our tools of worship are – fun, games and entertainment! I believe the word ‘worship’, is indeed appropriately applied here. I was once talking with someone and I expressed my opinion that people who gorge themselves with food, do so as a hobby when they are bored. He told me that I was mistaken. He argued that people who eat excessively are actually worshiping their food! Indeed, our society revolves around certain ”idols” and it is the negative forces represented by these idols which we must battle if we are to remain true to our ideals and beliefs.

What is the attraction of these pursuits? I believe the answer is simple. When we engage in these forms of pleasure, we feel as though we are alive!

There is no greater form of personal pleasure than to feel the thrill of your own existence!

During the day, we work to earn our bread. There is no thrill in our mundane and necessary activities. However, at night we seek to unwind and to ‘feel alive’ by engaging in all forms of entertainment.

Indeed, it is no “fun” for us to work in order to make an honest living. This pursuit is necessary and we therefore do not enjoy it as a form of entertainment. However, when we pursue something for no other reason and no other objective other than to simply entertain ourselves, this is where we derive the most enjoyment, since we feel alive!

Chazzal teach us that nightime is a particularly dangerous time for humanity. It is a time when evil and destructive forces are unleashed. The Pasuk alludes to this, when it says “Toshes Choshech, V’hi Laila, Bo Tirmos Kol Chaysei Ya’ar - Darkness descends and it becomes night, and all of the ‘animals’ – forces (of the night) are unleashed”. As a result of these natural forces of evil which are unleashed at night, Chazzal teach us that nightime is a time for sleep, or for learning Torah (since one who learns Torah cannot be harmed). Now here comes Thomas Edison who ‘lit up the night’ with his invention of artificial light! Now we have become like chickens who are forced to lay eggs (at night) and the night is turned into day! We utilize the night in pursuit of all forms of entertainment.

Let us take a moment to analyze the attraction of a novel or a movie. Why do we become so enraptured with and captivated by a good movie? When we watch a movie and see Tom, Dick and Harry shooting at each other and jumping off trains etc., the reality is, there is no Tom, Dick, or Harry! These are simply fictitious characters who enable us to find a release from our reality and to ’enjoy’ life by living vicariously though them!  The same thing is true when we get ‘lost’ in a novel of fiction and the like. These trivial pursuits are ultimately fleeting and provide no long term sense of satisfaction. We are simply hiding from the reality of our lives in our momentary distractions. The minute the movie/book is finished, we are thrust right back into the reality of our often difficult cirumstances…which has now been made even more difficult. We begin “chasing our tails” by seeking to fill the ever growing void with the elusive sense of happiness.

The salient point in all of this, is that we feel alive when we are engaged in any type of ‘playing’. It is for this reason that we derive infinite (if not momentary) pleasure, from all forms of fun, games and entertainment! When we do something without an objective, we feel alive. You can pay someone to kick a ball back and forth and he won’t find any enjoyment in it because there is an objective and a job to perform. However, were this same person to engage in a game of soccer for his own personal enjoyment, he can be at it all day (and for no pay) and feel alive!

The beauty of Torah!

Now let’s explore the opposite side of this equation and phenomena. We mentioned earlier, the idea that there are positive and negative energies reflected in all of creation. What is the positive energy counterpart to our quest for satisfaction through the pursuit of emptiness in the form of arts and entertainment?

In the Hebrew language, there is a fabulous word called “Sha’ashua“. Sha’ashua – means “fun” (and the pursuit of having fun). The elusive pursuit of “fun” is categorized by all that we mentioned earlier. Where else do we find the word “Sha’ashua”? We find this in the words of David Hamelech, when he sings to Hashem, “Lulay Sorascha Sha’ashuai”! – Your Torah is my plaything/my fun!

Furthermore, our holy Seforim teach us that before Hashem created the world, he was “Mishtasheia B’atzmo” – He found satisfaction with himself, Kaviyachol and his Torah. (We have absolutely no concept of what this means. Nevertheless, this is what the Seforim tell us..).

We are also taught that Hakadosh Baruch Hu created the world using his holy Torah as its blueprint. The Torah Hakedosha is the blueprint for all of creation. As Chazzal teach us, “Istakel B’oraiso Ubara Alma – Hashem looked into the Torah and created his world.”

There is nothing more precious to Hashem than his Holy Torah! Hakadosh Baruch Hus’ ‘plaything’, kaviyachol, is his precious Torah – and it  is within the Torah that we glean the ‘wisdom’ of Hashem! Torah provides us a glimpse into Hakadosh Baruch Hus’ ways – as Moshe Rabbeinu was mispallel to Hashem, “Hodieni es Derachecha, Ve’eydoacha – Show me your ways, so that I may “know you”. To ‘know’ Hakadosh Baruch Hu, is to learn his precious Torah.

Therefore, when we engage in the pursuit of Limud Hatorah, we are literally grabbing hold of Hashem!  A person who learns Torah is literally ‘playing’ with Hashems’ ‘playmate’ – and in so doing, he is engaged in the most thrilling expression of life!

There is no greater and more satisfying experience than to feel like we are one with Hashem! Learning Torah, is the conduit by which we can achieve true and lasting happiness and “fun” in this world! This, is the positive energy that can replace the negative pull of meaningless and empty pursuits of games and entertainment.

Chazzal promise us that we can find every bit of joy which life has to offer in the pursuit of Limud Hatorah.  Chazzal tell us, “Ta’amu Ur’eu Ki Tov Hashem – Taste these words of Torah and see how delicious and good it is for you”! All we need to do is to develop a taste for the Torah Hakedosha and we will experience the most intense and lasting sense of pleasure in this world!

Finally, we sometimes tell ourselves that there is no point for us to learn an isolated Daf Gemorah or Halacha. We imagine that ’success’ in Torah is if we become a big Rabbi or Rosh Yeshiva. We convince ourselves that unless there is an ultimate goal and objective in mind, we will not accomplish much with our Limud Hatorah.

This is a HUGE mistake.

We learned earlier that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is “Mishtasheia” with his Torah – that Hashem loves learning Torah! Let’s ask ourselves, why does Hashem learn Torah? Does Hashem learn Torah because he desires to become a big Rosh Yeshiva?! Of course not!!

Hashem is simply ‘playing’! Hashem is reveling in the beauty and enjoyment of his precious Torah! The same is true for us.  To learn Torah Lishma in any measure, is to literally grab hold of Hashem and there is no greater pleasure than this in the entire world!

Indeed, we find that we are alive when we engage in ‘playing’ with Hashems’ Torah and for no other reason or objective other than to be close to our Creator!

<Heard From Rav Shimshon Pincus>

The Torahs’ Praise Of Yaakov Avinu

Written for this blog and submitted by Shmuel G. ( 7 – year old Bachur learning inYeshiva M’kor Baruch)

It says in the first Pasuk of Parshas Vayeshev, that Yaakov Avinu settled in the land of his Fathers (Megurei Aviv). We know that when the Torah mentions a Tzaddiks’ name, it usually goes on to say something great about the Tzaddik. However, in the next Pasuk, it says; “These are the sons of  Yaakov”…and the Pasuk mentions Yosef Hatzadik and goes on to mention great things about Yosef.

Question:

Why did the Torah not mention the greatness of Yaakov Avinu?

This is not the first time it mentions Yaakov Avinu. However, it is the first time that it mentions Yosef. I think that Yaakov was probably a bigger Tzaddik than Yosef and in the previous Parshas it does mention Yaakov Avinu, but now we are introducing Yosef, so the Torah talks about the greatness of Yosef.

Why Yaakov Avinu Recited Krias Sh’ma On Yosefs’ Shoulders

Parshas Vayigash 2009

The pasuk tells us of the moment when Father and Son embraced each other after their long separation. Yosef Hatzadik wept and his Father, Yaakov recited Krias Sh’ma.

That Yosef wept, is quite understandable.  However, why did Yaakov Avinu decide out of all times to recite Krias Sh’ma??

Although Rav Chaim Soleveitchik Z”L has a practical pshat on this question based upon Halacha, some Ba’alei Avodah would like to offer the following beautiful Pshat:

At this incredible event and at this precious moment, when Yaakov Avinu is overcome with incredible and indescribable feelings of love for his child, he makes a decision to channel these feelings and emotions towards Hakadosh Baruch Hu. He showers Hashem with those feelings of love and Hakaras Hatov instead of reserving them for himself!!

He took a precious and singular moment in his life and he capitalized on it!

Our Lesson From Menashe Ben Chizkiyahu Hamelech

Chazzal teach us that Chizkiyahu Melech Yehudah was amongst the greatest leaders of our people. He enacted laws that would cultivate Gedolim and Talmidei Chachomim in all of Klal Yisroel and our people flourished under his reign. Yet, Chizkiyahu saw with prophecy that he was destined to have a child who would be as wicked as he was righteous. He was thus afraid to produce a child. However, he was advised not to engage in influencing and tampering with the destiny and master plan of Hakadosh Baruch Hu. It was not his ‘cheshbon’ to influence the heavenly ordinances.

He understood the message and bore this child whom he named Menashe. Sure enough, Menashe grew up to be one of the most wicked people in our history. Where his Father had promoted spirituality, Menashe stifled it. Under his reign, our leaders were killed and their “blood flowed through the streets”. Torah learning was forbidden and idolatry carried the day. Chazzal tell that  Menashe was ultimately captured by opposing forces and thrown into a cauldron of burning water. As he lay trapped in the water with his flesh burning off his body, the Gemorah says that he began to call out to all of his idols by name, imploring them to save him from his predicament! He begged this idol, the other idol etc. Of course, none of these idols whom he had worshipped his entire life, came to help him in his time of need! Finally, the Gemorah relates that when Menashe was at the end of his rope, so to speak, he called out to Hakadosh Baruch Hu with the following proposal:

He said “Hashem, please help save me from my predicament – for if you do not, then “kol anpin shavim” – You are all the same! Meaning; – Menashe was telling the Ribbono Shel Olam – “look, I called out to all of my Idols and they could not help me. Now I am calling out to you. If you cannot help me either, then you are just like them; you are all the same!

The Gemorah relates that the Angels quickly intervened and closed the Sharei Shamayim (Gates of Heaven) so that the pleas of this Rasha would not reach the Kisei Hakavod! What happened next is a complete mystery. Hakadosh Baruch Hu “drilled a small hole” in his heavens to allow the voice of the dying Menashe to come up to his throne and he proceeded to save Menashe’s life in a most miraculous way (as the Gemorah tells).

This story is a complete mystery! For one thing, why did Hashem decide to save the life of this Rasha – who had spent his entire life rejecting Hakadosh Baruch Hu while attempting to wipe out all vestiges of spirituality from our people? Moreover, when Menashe finally did reach out to Hashem, look at the seeming Chutzpah- hubris with which he approached this! He actually makes conditions with Hashem! He equates Hashem with his worthless idols and says that If Hashem doesn’t help him, then he is the same as the rest of those idols!! The sheer chutzpa of this statement! Of course the idols were not in a position to save him! They cannot! However, if Hashem were not to save him, it would be completely justified…after all, he didn’t deserve it!

There are really two puzzling questions here

1. Why did Hashem save him?
2. What was the meaning behind Menashes cryptic and seemingly brazen plea to Hashem?

The answer to these questions is incredibly beautiful and a lesson for all of us.

Menashes’ plea to Hashem was beautiful and profound in its depth. He was actually telling Hakadosh Baruch Hu the following:

“Look, I know what a Rasha I have been all of my life and that I am completely unworthy of your salvation. However, my Father (Chizkiyahu) always taught me as a child, that our Father in heaven displays kindness without boundaries or limitations. I was taught that your mercy for your children is without borders and not impeded by and contained within the framework of any yardstick or measure. Therefore, if you do not save me now in my time of need and despair, this would be an indication that I have simply strayed too far and that I am beyond salvation. This would mean that it is actually possible for a human being on this Earth to sin so badly, that he would actually place himself beyond the scope of your mercy. This means by extention, that your mercy is finite; that it is limited by the constraints of finite boundaries. If this is the case, then you are not the Hashem I was taught about in my youth!!

Upon hearing his pleas, the Malachei Hashareis moved quickly to block his prayers from advancing to the Kisei Hakavod. However, Hashem destined otherwise. Hashem created an opening for Menashes’ tefilos to reach his heavenly throne and he actually granted him his request and saved his life!

Why?

Hashem wanted to make an example of Menashe and to teach all future generations that it is never “too late” to do Teshuva and to repent. Indeed, there is no such thing as a Jew straying too far from the fold…there is no such thing as Hashems’ patience and mercy being overridden by the sins of a Jew.

No Jew is ever beyond salvation, because G-Ds’ mercy and patience is without boundaries or limitations!

Indeed, the lesson we take from Menashe ben Chizkiyahu Melech Yehudah, is both profound and timely. It is never too late for a Jew to do Teshuva and come closer to Borei Olam!

<Heard From Rav Shimshon Pincus>

Catch The Moment In Your Life!

All of us have moments in our lives, where we are suddenly hit with a lighting bolt of spiritual inspiration. We become enthused and excited.

Sometimes, the actual trigger is the result of a happy or sad encounter or episode. In all instances however, these moments are precious gifts given to us by Hashem, in order to arouse us from our slumber so that we may utilize them as a springboard for achieving greatness! If we do not utilize these moments properly, it is like taking something precious and simply throwing it in the mud.

How do we take advantage of these moments?

The Pasuk tells us “Im tairu es ha’ahava, ad shetechpatz” – Chazzal exchange the word “tairu” for the word “te’oreru” – to be inspired, and read the pasuk as follows: “Im te’oriru es ha’ahava, ad shetchpatz” – If you become inspired with love for Hashem – then, “ad shetechpatz” – (the word “techpatz” comes from the lashon “chefetz” – item) turn it into something concrete; something tangible.

This is a call to us not to let these moments slip away and instead to utilize them as a stepping stone to further achievement and to greatness! Make a commitment to become a better Jew, do a Mitzva, say a Prayer, do a Chessed, etc.

Catch the moment in your life, since ultimately, these are the moments that make your life!

<Heard From Rav Shimshon Pincus>

(Rav Chatzkel Levenstein Zatzal, the famous Mirrer Mashgiach, grew up in his younger years under difficult circumstances. This forced him to go to work at a very young age, where he subsided on a meager living working long hours. Every Friday, Rav Chatzkel would receive his stipend for the entire week. One Erev Shabboss, when Rav Chtazkel was in the Mikvah, somebody reached into his pants hanging on the hook and robbed him of his entire weeks pay! Upon exiting the Mikva, Rav Chatzkel soon realized that he had been robbed of his entire income for the week. Needless to say, he was devastated.

Here came one of those precious moments, which Rav Shimshon Pincus referred to above.

Rav Chatzkel sat down and quickly made a Cheshbon Hanefesh – he searched his soul – and he thought to himself; see how one individual has managed to rob me of an entire week of my life – let alone a weeks worth of income! How can such a thing be? How can I allow myself to be in a situation where my life is so precariously influenced by an outside element beyond my control?

Upon further reflection, Rav Chatzkel came to the realization that there is indeed one lofty pursuit and career path which can NEVER be taken away from an individual - and that is the pursuit of holiness and spirituality! It was then that Rav Chatzkel made the decision to drop everyhting and to immerse himself completely into the sea of the Torah and spirituality!

Rav Chatzkel was able to catch and capitalize on this crucial moment in his life and the rest is history! His beautiful legacy lives on and on until the coming of Mashiach.

What a lesson for all of us! We are constantly given these precious moments and cues, let us learn how to make the best of them!