I previously pointed out, how Rav Shimshon taught us that the proper way to develop feelings of love for another person, is by giving instead of receiving. He pointed to the importance of being a giver and not a taker. I was thinking, perhaps the same lesson and message can be applied to oneself? By feeding your body with the lasting nourishment of spirituality and learning to give of yourself, to yourself, you develop a deep personal happiness.
Rav Shimshon Zatzal, taught us that a picture is NOT “worth a thousand words”. In fact a picture is worthless in that it tells an outright lie.
As an example, he asked us to consider a picture of two women lighting candles on Erev Shabbos. The women themselves look the same. Each one is lighting candles. Consider, however, one woman is silently praying for he older daughter to finally find her soul mate, whilst the other is praying for her wayward son to return to the proper path. While the picture itself is the same, the silent tears, the searing pain in their hearts and their fervent supplications to Hashem are very diferent!
We all present as “pictures” as we take this walk through life.
Sometimes, the picture looks the same, but the dynamic is different.
Now is such a time.
With Tisha B’av behind us and many heady days of summer left to enjoy, I wanted to share a quick thought which Rav Shimshon taught us and which really resonated with me over these past several days.
We are so caught up in the minutia of our mundane existence, that it’s virtually impossible to access, let alone scale the lofty spiritual heights which a Day like Tisha B’av demands of us. How can we possibly conjure up wellsprings of emotion and shed tears over the churban, when we are so laden with the grime of our personal excess and materialistic pursuits?
Yet, Rebbe taught us to understand that on a day like Tisha B’av, if one cannot truly feel the pain of the Shechina in Galus – if we cannot tap into our spirituality and access the emotions trapped beneath the surface, then we ought to cry at the very least– not for the greater churban, but for our own personal churban and our inability to cry!!
We ought to cry over that which we cannot cry!
Such true words and oh so powerful!
I think about the lesson Rav shimshon taught from Menashe Ben Chizkiyahu Hamelech and it gives me strength to forge ahead!
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This past Shabbos was the Sheva Brachos for my dear Sister and Brother in law!
At the seudah I was asked to be the master of ceremonies and I noted that many of the speakers invoked Gematria’s to draw a correlation between the chosson and kallah and their families. One speaker in particular, related a Gematria which was actually off by one digit and he prefaced his remarks by apologizing for the slight discrepancy in the numerical valuation.
However, in my ensuing words, I mentioned that the speaker was redeemable and certainly had no reason to apologize, for such a Gematriah is indeed correct. I explained with a beautiful thought which I once heard from Harav Shimshon Pincus to explain why when it comes to Gematrias we can actually always be off by one digit. This phenomenon is known as “Im Hakollel” and I actually wroted about it back in 2009 right here.
Harav Meir Stern Shlita, once told me that we know that Hashem decrees 40 days prior to the creation of an individual, exactly who his or her life mate will be. Of course, he then provides us with free will to choose our soul mate and our decisions ultimately effect and affect our destiny. However, the decree that we are to be betrothed to a certain spouse only carries us to the marriage canopy. After that, says Rav Meir, it is our mandate and responsibility to ‘make it work’ for a lifetime. A successful marriage requires a shared, consistent and sustained effort on the part of each spouse. Rav Stern told me that we say in Baruch She’amar, ‘Baruch Gozer Umekayeim’ – Hashem creates everything ‘yesh me’ayin’ (literally from nothing) and then he sustains everything constantly.
Our Hashkafa tells us that from the most vibrant and active life form, to the most dormant and inanimate object, everything that G-d creates needs to be sustained by him every solitary second of the day, otherwise it would cease to exist in the most literal sense of the word.
This is true in most areas. However, when it comes to the institution of marriage, Hashem is only Gozer – he decrees that it should be. However, it is the couple’s job to be Mekayeim – to see to it that the marriage remains viable and continues to thrive.
The term ‘love’ is perhaps the most distorted, abused, manipulated, misunderstood and misappropriated term in our entire lexicon.
Many people have a misguided approach to love where they believe that to love is to receive. When you are the recipient of something special, it arouses feelings of love for the person you received it from. While this might be an incidental byproduct of being gifted with something, it is not the Torah’s definition of how one actually builds love.
To actually build love, our Hashkafa tells us that we should seek to be a giver and not a taker.
When you give to another person, whether of yourself, your time and/or your resources, over time (and as a natural byproduct) you cultivate stirrings of love for that individual. Ask any parent who wakes up to tend to a crying child at 2 am and they will attest to the endearing and overwhelming feelings of love they cultivate for that child in those selfless acts of giving over the course of many child rearing years.
My brocha to our dear Chosson V’kallah is that the mutual affection which they feel towards each other at this juncture, should blossom into full blown love and Ahavas Hanefesh as they embark on their career together.
As they stand on the cusp of their life, they should take much pride in their significant roots and harness their zechus avos to propel themselves forwards and forever upwards!
We love you both.
A Gutte Voch – Shavua Tov!
My family spent this past Shabbos with my parents who hosted us on the occassion of an Aufruf we had come to celebrate for my soon to be brother in law.
Sitting around the shabbos table, we were discussing the concept of Emunas Chachomim and my mother related a beautiful story she just heard recently from an old teacher who she maintains a connection with until today.
There was a woman who came to the last Lubavitcher Rebbe Z”l to pour out her heart after 12 years of marriage without children. The Rebbe listened to her closely and asked her to confirm that she had been engaged once prior to her marriage and had broken off her engagement quite suddenly. She replied in the affirmative and the Rebbe instructed her that before she could be blessed with children, she would have to seek out her old Chosson to ask him for his forgiveness for having broken his heart.
“But Rebbe, it’s been 12 years, since I last saw this man, where can I find him, she asked?”
The Rebbe instructed her to take a flight to a distant city and spent time in the area and there she would find this individual.
This broken woman booked a flight without haste and made her way to this city, where she spent days wandering the Jewish neighborhoods, shuls, eateries etc. looking for her elusive former chosson whom she hadn’t seen for 12 years. She made inquiries and spoke to people – all to no avail, this man simply didn’t exist!
On the last day of her stay, in her utter despair and misery, she decided to take a stroll in a local park before flying back home.
Walking through the park, she happened to notice a man sitting alone on a bench.
Could it really be! Is it possible!! Surely, my eyes are playing tricks on me, she thought to herself – for there on the bench sat her long lost chosson!
She ran over to him and broke down in front of him. She told him her story and begged him from the depths of her soul to forgive her for breaking his heart. He forgave her with a full heart and blessed her with health, happiness and children.
One year later, this woman gave birth to a healthy baby boy!
At the Bris, the father decided that he must publicize this story to perpetuate K’vod Shamayim and to illustrate the Koach of a tazddik. He related the story in its entirety and when he was done, he noticed excited conversations taking place amongst some of the guests.
He quickly went over to learn the source of the commotion and was asked by some of the chevra whether his wife truly found that gentleman whom they knew she had been engaged to?
“Of course, he exclaimed”! Why do you ask?
“Well, you see, they replied – this man actually passed away several years ago”!!
That’s the end of this incredible story.
After my Mother finished the story, the family was abuzz with questions.
For one thing, did the Rebbe orchestrate an open miracle for this woman?
In addition, why did he have her fly out to a distant city and jump through all these hoops as it were, to find her salvation?
I thought to myself, this story is exceedingly similar to a story that took place with Harav Shimshon Pincus Z’L.
I decided to relate the story and promised that I would offer my analysis at the end, which I believe answers the aforementioned questions posed by my family.
Here it goes:
There was a young man who lived in Ofakim who was married for several years without children. One day, when he was feeling particularly despondent, he came to the beloved Rav Shimshon to pour out his anguish.
Rav Pincus asked him to come back later in the evening after Maariv. When the man approached the Rav after maariv, Rav Pincus asked him to take a ride with him in his car and the two of them proceeded to drive out into the Negev in silent contemplation.
All of a sudden, the Rav pulled the car off the road and veered into the woods, driving inexplicably between the trees in the dense forest before coming to a complete stop. The Rav turned the fellow and said to him as follows “My beloved —, here we are in the middle of nowhere, I would like for you to get out of the car and think about your situation. Please understand the gravity of your predicament and realize that there is nobody in the world who can help you out of it, except for your father in heaven! Daven to Hashem because only he can help you and I’ll be back soon to pick you up”!
With that, the Rav drove off and left this man to his own devices.
This man proceeded to pray as he never had in his life. The years of pent up anguish, of dashed hopes and endless doctors and treatments, found release in the torrents of tears he shed in that dark and lonely spot in the forest.
His body wracked with the sobbing of his broken heart sought solace and salvation in this terrifying place where he could finally be free of his inhibitions and talk to Hashem like a son to a father. And boy did he talk!
When the Rav came back some time later, he found a man whose tearstained countenance bespoke one who had just communed with his creator….
A year later the family was blessed with a baby!
That’s the end of the story.
Now I shared the common theme which I believe connects these two stories and which I opined would perhaps answer the questions posed by members of my family.
Can it be said that the individuals in these two stories had ‘Emunas Chachomim’?
Did these two great Jewish leaders enact open miracles for these people to bring about their respective salvations?
I believe, that the ‘miracles’ which they clearly performed, was to deeply understand the critical necessity of enabling these people to reach out to the only source of their success in the deepest and most meaningful way possible and then facilitating that connection in a most unusual and creative manner.
In the first story, the Lubavitcher Rebbe sent this poor woman to a distant city and literally on a ‘wild goose chase’ to look for a mirage.
Imagine what she must have felt like in those waning moments before her return flight, as she walked in that park. She could taste the profound failure of her quest. It was indeed at that moment when she was at the very end of her rope, with no way out, that she found Borei Olam and connected with Hashem in the deepest and most intimate way. When all of the other layers, calculations, considerations and permutations were peeled away, the one thing which remained was the reality of G-d!
Once she forged this connection in Tefilah, she was zoche to a child!
In both stories, when the individuals came to the starkest realization that Hashem is ‘Hakol Byado, Ubeyado Hakol’ that is when they merited to see a Yeshua.
Food for thought.
I once published a thought that Rav Shimshon shared with us regarding Mesiras Nefesh and how it means different things to different people. I found myself thinking about this concept again this morning, while thinking about implementing certain changes to my own personal status quo.
The concept of making certain sacrifices in order to pursue a specific path and direction is nothing new and is as old as the human race. It also transcends barriers of faith and religion. People make sacrifices for a myriad of reasons, including family, career and the like.
“Mesiras Nefesh” however, is something entirely different.
Mesiras Nefesh is the act of sacrificing a piece of yourself, for the sake of Hashem!
Mesiras Nefesh is where you make a concrete decision to uproot something which has become an intrinsic part of yourself or your lifestyle, in order to move closer to Borei Olam.
For some of us, it takes the form of throwing out the TV. For others, it means installing a filter on a computer or smart phone. Maybe for some, Mesiras Nefesh is more subtle and involves a commitment to abstain for a period of time from reading secular newspapers, magazines and tabloids.
In all instances, any pro-active desire to effect positive spiritual change in our lives can be considered Mesiras Nefesh. Each Jew on his or her own individual level is Moser Nefesh, when they decide to better themselves in any way.
Rebbe taught us that Hashem cherishes these sacrifices because they come from within us.
‘Yeshikeini Mi’neshikos Pihu’ – When we give a Kiss to Hashem, we receive one in Return.
What will you do today for Borei Olam?
<Heard From Rav Shimshon Pincus Z’L>
Remember the now famous story of the kidnapped Israeli soldier, Nachson Wachsman. Do you remember how Klal Yisroel stormed the gates of heaven to plead for his salvation from the hands of those bloodthirsty terrorists?
Ultimately, however, Hashem decreed otherwise and the terrorists who kidnapped him, killed him in a most brutal and public way.
I will never forget how disillusioned I was afterwards. Here the Jewish people prayed in unison as one and yet, God seemingly didn’t hear our prayers.
However, Nachshon’s mother Esther had her own thoughts to share and in her very public display of faith, she explained how Hashem did indeed hear all of our prayers, but he simply said no.
She went on to state that although a parent always listens to the cries and pleas of a child, the parent in knowing what is inherently best for that child will sometimes answer in manner that is contrary to what the child desires. This too is a response and stemming from a place filled with as much love, compassion and empathy for the child. She thanked Hashem for the time that she did have with her child and for the gift that was Nachshon.
I well remember how this explanation resonated within me and served to soothe my broken spirit.
I once saw a slogan that stated “Before you ask God for that which you are lacking, thank him for what you have”.
In light of the above, it can be said that to thank Hashem for what we don’t have is as important as thanking him for what we have. After all, it is Hashem who decrees what our lot shall be and in his infinite wisdom, he knows what is best for us.
The Rosh Yeshiva in Passaic, NJ, Rav Meir Stern once told me that the words “thank you” is similar to the words “think you”.
When someone does us a good turn, we are often in a position where we cannot specifically repay that person in kind. Therefore, to show our gratitude, we express our thanks or “thinks” as it were, to indicate to that person, that with our mind, spirit and heart, we recognize the good they have done for us and are appreciative for it.
Expressing our gratitude for all that Hashem bestows upon us, or withholds from us, is then a catalyst for personal growth.