Posts Tagged ‘Shviras HaMidos’

Chanukah – Now, Then, and Forever – 5770

Posted by Rabbi Dovid Boruch Kopel
December 11, 2009 - כ"ה כסלו ה' תש"ע
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The great Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore Rav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg zt”l said on several occasions that the Moadim that we experience annually are not anniversaries. They are reliving that initial experience once again. I heard from the Rosh Yeshiva of the Telshe Yeshvia in Cleveland Rav Mordechai Gifter zt”l that Moed comes from the word vaad, a meeting or commencement. That means that every Moed that we have is a chance to have a meeting with the Ribono Shel Olam in a way that we cannot have the rest of the year. That means that through a Moed we come to embrace something that we cannot gain the rest of the year. We then take that newly found treasure and incorporate it in to our lives. Just as we must breath constantly so too we must go through the year with these breaths of closeness constantly. We are both physical and very much spiritual. That means that just as we need physical nourishment so too we need spiritual nourishment. That nourishment is found through the toil of Mitzvos and the learning of Torah. The Mitzvos exist in several manifestations, i.e. in a location, in a time or through a physical action. Those are the three different natures of Mitzvos that we find. Some are capable of being observed throughout the year, while some are limited to certain time periods. On the other hand, some are all year long but are only in certain locations. The last group being to only certain people and certain aspects of the person. The Moadim incorporate these three natures of Mitzvos and utilize all of them in combination with the Holy Shabbos to give sustenance to Man and allow him to do his duties of this World.

These meetings with us and the Almighty are our opportunity to grasp the essential nutrients that we need for the year and this moment itself. That means that each Moed of the year has its own special aspects to give us. Therefore, it is logical to say that each one of these aspects must come in a certain order. As we said in the previous article the revelation of the aspects of each Moed are very particular and unique to each one. Therefore each Moed must come the same time every year to allow us to grab those nutrients at the right time.

The Rabbinical Moadim are slightly different. The Biblical Moadim were commanded at the same time. That means that they were all essential to us at the time of their commandment. The Rabbinical Moadim (Purim and Chanukah) were enacted after each other with due time in between them. If that is the case then the aspect that we need to grab by the later one must have not been necessary by the first one. In fact the Moed of Purim occurred several hunded of years prior to Chanukah. That being true whatever had been needed for the Moed of Chanukah to occur it was not needed at the time of Purim. With that said we have a deeper question. Within the order of the Moadim the Moed of Chanukah comes prior to the Moed of Purim. As per what we said before that whatever aspect we needed to grab by Chanukah it was not needed by the time of Purim. If that is true why is it needed for us to relive the experience of Chanukah prior to Purim!?

I believe that this question can become much clearer by looking at another question. It is clear that Yitzchak Avinu is written of the least out of the three Avos. Why is that? Perhaps we can suggest the following reality for this question. Generally speaking, Mankind has a desire to see his accomplishments immediately. Waiting to see the results of your hard work is a very difficult task for many as it requires great belief that you are doing that which is necessary to produce the result you want. When you see the results immediately you get the satisfaction of knowing your work paid off. To our dismay, this shortcoming is something every one of us deals with daily. This is found both in our physical and spiritual lives.[1] It is the Mesiras Nefesh that we put in to all of our lives that defines who we are. Such emphasis on one point for one’s entire existence is a great deal. That is as I have said in the past the act of giving up your chance to continue to do that task that is greater than all of them. The greatest possible benefit we can have is through the observance of Mitzvos. Those Mitzvos provide us with Life and purpose. To give up that benefit by giving up your Life for its greater cause is surely greater than all that you could have been granted in this world. You are cutting yourself off from further benefit by performing the greatest act of glorification of the name of the Almighty possible. You are giving up your chance to exist for yourself, to rise to an existence past Life itself! That is the reason why Yitzchak Avinu need not be written in the Torah at length. His Life personifies the midah of Din. The ultimate din is through purging your existence from this world. The other Avos represent much more complex midos that require a greater precedent. Giving up your life for Kiddush Hashem is the top of the levels that you have reach in your observance.

Now we can take this understanding and apply it to our question about Chanukah and Purim. The chag of Purim deals with the genocide of the entire people of Yisroel, regardless of there beliefs. The chag of Chanukah has nothing to do with a nation, rather it is purely against the culture of Yisroel. The Greeks wanted to assimilate the People of Yisroel not destroy them. Thus killing the definition of the Jewish People, as we are a chosen nation that is not among the other nations. Purim came prior to Chanukah because there lives at stake were first put into question. It is much easier to be willing to give up your lives for the sake of something as great as Torah but its even easier when it is for yourself. The Jewish people were given the miracle of Purim to appreciate the lives that they have for being a separate nation from the rest of the world. That led to a new acceptance of the yolk of the Torah and its Mitzvos on the chag of Purim. The chag of Chanukah is the miracle that we withstood the force of the nations to assimilate to be one people. We won the battles against the Greeks, but above all the kedushah of the Holy Temple remained. That pure oil started the flame of Torah that exists on Chanukah. It is much easier to give up your life by Purim than keep your standards of living by Chanukah. Though it was below the People of Yisroel as the time of Purim to assimilate among the nations as they only needed inspiration in the mitzvos. The People of Yisroel at the time of Chanukah were battling the pressures of the Greek Culture which was much more difficult to keep, as they are more deeply rooted in minus.

On this Chanukah may we all take in the bright lights that lay before us. May we grasp the great ohr that is revealed to us that had been reserved for the righteous. May we internalize that light and allow it to shine through our actions from this year to the next. Through this Chanukah we can light the dark path that lay before us, the path that is so evident. Let that light direct us to the new mikdash, to fill it with a new light of Torah and Avodah.

  1. I really don’t like to split that as the goal is to make them one. Though whenever I mention physical and spiritual it doesn’t mean that everything should be done for the sake of the spiritual. I am emphasizing that the activities that we do in there raw form exist in both platforms. []

Machshuvah, Moadim / Tekufos , ,

Making Decisions

Posted by Rabbi Dovid Boruch Kopel
July 22, 2009 - ב' מנחם אב ה' תשס"ט
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I would like to talk to you about making decisions. I am mostly talking to myself and trying to remind myself about how to act but I think that we both may benefit from this. I really just want to review some of these ideas some of which may be very appropriate for us and others not.

A bochur in Yeshiva once told me he wanted to leave the yeshiva dormitory and move out of the dormitory and into an apartment adjacent to the Yeshiva. He said that he wanted his privacy. I responded to him “How are you going to work on your ben adom l’chavayroh?”. I explained that “When you live by yourself you decide when the lights are on or off,  however when you live in a yeshiva dormitory you live among three other bochurim and you find yourself compromising on many issues. When you finally get married you aren’t just compromising on the lights and the temperature, you are even compromising on your whereabouts and the actions that you do.” The bochur nodded and seemingly understood the message I was conveying.

Living with people forces you to know how to give in to others and how to respect other peoples’ privacy. When two people get married, the “I” becomes a “We” and the concept of the individual becomes much smaller as the gaping hole between the two people fills in as they unite as one. It is integral that they make decisions together in the utmost way.

As Bnei Torah we have been trained to think and make an account of all of the conditions involved in our actions. You may say that non-jews also must do this. While that is true, there is no comparison between the two. We must think if everything we do is in line with what the Torah dictates of us. We must think if the current status is permitted or prohibited and if it may evolve into a Chillul Hashem rm”l.

A Ben Torah is not someone who takes decisions lightly. The Ben Torah is taught through deep analysis of the Talmud, as well as his constant introspection of how to decipher a situation and compare the pros and cons. He is taught how to analyze all the possibilities and make a proper comparison to gauge a similar scenario and expected outcome. That way, when the time comes and we are presented with a scenario, we are able to react instantly and act as we have in similar scenarios.

Making decisions can be very difficult if you are unable to properly see all of your possibilities and are unable to make a hierarchy of importance. Sometimes you must take into account the level of importance of the matter at hand, as opposed to another person’s perception of the same issue. A scenario may involve several people that will all be affected by your decision. There are times where your decisions affect others and then there are times that their decisions affects them. They may both be troublesome, however the more people that are affected, the greater the responsibility present.

Two married people have a very special bond that exists. Their pocket is the same, their residence is the same, and in many ways, they are the same. A marriage makes a bond greater than any other structure in the world. That is why a decision between husband and wife tends to be much more delicate than other decisions.

For example, look at a disagreement between husband and wife as a “civil war”, as opposed to a typical war scenario. When you have a civil war, your own nation is being harmed. G-d forbid a dispute between husband and wife should ever rise to the point of “war”, nonetheless, the comparison is valid. Each individual of a disagreement (“war”) is affected. The closeness that is shared between a husband and wife implies that when your wife is upset you are going to be upset.

A problem may not always be possible to resolve where everyone is happy with the decision made; that is of the utmost difficulty. Even an internal conflict that one person may be having may be impossible for him to perfectly deal with a situation. A couple must settle for peace and a solution. The most important part of a decision is that both parties agree to make the decision, regardless of whether it is what they both originally wanted. In essence, this is how they have decided to resolve the matter at hand and therefore it must be recognized as a decision agreed upon by both parties.

Making a decision isn’t about a number of votes or raises their voice higher. It is about “This is what we are going to do”. That means that the person who makes the decision must stand up for his decision, and so to speak…clean up the mess. That doesn’t mean that the other party should ever say “I told you so”, rather they should help as well.

When the person who decided to make the decisions sees it failing, it will eat them up inside. It could be they made the right decision and this is just how Hashem decided it should turn out. That is what it means to be responsible for your decisions. That doesn’t always mean that you are guaranteeing it’s success, as we have no such a guarantee for anything in life. Your responsibility is that you did everything to ensure that you made the right decision, not that the expected outcome will come to fruition. Rather, that you put in all of the time, energy, and thought into what you have decided.

You will be much happier with your marriage when you don’t point your finger at that person saying “Look, it didn’t work.”, but instead saying “Look, I know you made a thought out decision and this is how it turned out”. A mature individual will want the result, but will be satisfied with the proper actions done.

We are people who believe in the constant yad Hashem and never take something for granted. If we are given another day of life in this world, then it is because Hashem willed it to be so. If we are not rm”l, then it is because Hashem did not will it to be so. If a little boy is taking his daily walk and out of nowhere, he trips on a rock that had never been there before…it was not purely out of accident that such an event took place. Hashem willed for that little boy to fall.

When we try to do something, we must keep in mind that we can only do all that is in our capabilities. To determine all that is in our grasp, we must first know ourselves. Some people are nor simply very decisive, yet some are. If you know that you are not capable of making decisions…make the decision to not make a decision (until you feel confident that you can).

There are certain types of decisions that we make but are unable to do so under certain circumstances. If a bright light is glaring in your eye and a salesman asks you which color paint do you want…you cannot answer since the light is affecting your vision. We must know ourselves and know the things that inhibit our perception to make a proper decision. Being frustrated, tired, impatient, and upset are the more common traits that can lead to making a poor decision. Half the battle is knowing that one should not be making such a decision.

When communicating with another person regarding a decision, sometimes you may have to be blunt and say “I’m sorry, but I am unable to take part in this matter, I’m sorry”. One doesn’t always have to give an explanation, as sometimes less information is better. Even though communication is of the utmost importance, sometimes the point cannot be clearly explained or the person does not feel comfortable explaining their scenario. While it is clearly better to explain yourself, realize that sometimes the better outcome is by simply saying what you feel and that you wish not to further elaborate. Saying “I’m sorry if you respect me, you will realize that I am unable to make this decision right now”. Saying this is much better than getting worked up and creating something  into a large mess. It takes a lot of courage, but sometimes biting your lip and saying “I’m sorry, I cannot make this decision” is the correct decision.

To determine all that is in our grasp we must know ourselves. Some people are simply not very decisive, some are. Like a person who is intoxicated obviously they are not capable of driving. If you know that you are not capable of making decisions…make the decision to not make a decision until you feel confident that you can. There are certain types of decisions that we make but are unable to do so under certain circumstances. If a bright light is glaring in your eye and a salesman asks you which color painting do you want…you cannot answer since the light is affecting your vision. We must know ourselves and know the things that inhibit our perception to make a proper decision. Being frustrated, tired, impatient, upset are the more common traits that can lead to make a poor decision. Half of the battle is knowing that you should not being making such a decision. When communicating with another person regarding a decision sometimes you may have to be blunt and say “I’m sorry but I am unable to take part of this matter, I’m sorry”. You don’t have to always give an explanation sometimes less information is better. “I’m sorry if you respect me, you must realize that I am unable to make this decision right now”. Saying this is much better then getting worked up and making something that could have been resolved into a large mess. It takes a lot of courage but sometimes biting your lip and saying “I’m sorry I cannot make this decision” is the correct decision.

In conclusion, me all make decisions daily. Some are small and some are big. With some, we are able to see the outcomes instantly, yet others will have delayed results. We must be responsible for our actions and be confident when we make decisions. After a decision is made, it is futile to start looking back and questioning what you had done. If there is no way to fix it, then leave it. You can learn from your past experiences, but do not use them to cause pain to others.

Remember that your decisions can affect several parties and that sometimes you will have to live with your mistakes. Always know that your decisions are only half of the outcome, as you do not know if Hashem will allow for your decisions to come to fruition. Always use your past as a building block for your future and not a wound of your past. This is one of the great challenges of Life.


Shidduchim and Marriage , , , ,

A Living Sefer Torah – Parshas Terumah 5769

Posted by Rabbi Yosef Tropper
February 26, 2009 - ג' אדר ה' תשס"ט
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ועשו ארון עצי שטים… וצפית אותו זהב טהור מבית ומחוץ תצפנו… (כה:י-יא).

“They shall make an Aron of shittim wood… you shall cover it with pure gold, from inside and outside you shall cover it…” (25:10-11).

The makeup of the Aron was one wooden box surrounded by two golden boxes, one on the inside and one on the outside. What is the significance of this fact?

Chazal tell us that the Aron represents Torah. Let us understand the two materials which it was build from, gold and wood. Gold is a precious commodity and is thus used many times throughout Tanach and Chazal to signify the priceless Torah. What is wood? We find a verse which can be read as a hint to the fact that man is compared to a tree, “ki adam eitz hasadeh, for man is like a tree” (Devarim 20:19). Therefore, I suggest that the gold of the Aron represents Torah and the wood represents man who is connected to Torah. The message being that they must be joined as one. What does this mean? Man’s purpose is to take his physical being (wood) and surround it with Torah (gold).

The Gemarah in Makos (22b) exclaims, “how foolish are those who stand up when a Sefer Torah enters the room but do not rise for a live Talmid Chacham!” The Gemara in Moed Katan (25a) states that if one is in a room when someone passes away, Heaven-forbid, he must rend his garment for he has just witnessed the burning of a Sefer Torah!

Every person has the capability to make himself into a living Sefer Torah, embodying and implementing all of the elevating principles of Torah into his daily life.

Let us take the Sefer Torah parable further. A Sefer Torah is comprised of two components: animal hide parchment paper and black ink forming the D’var Hashem, the word of God. The Midrash tells us that Hashem created man from both the Elyonim, spiritual entity, and Tachtonim, lower earthly matter. Thus, man is comprised of a physical part and a tremendous spiritual part. Our raw body is animalistic, but the Torah teaches us to elevate the physical and train ourselves to grow in spirituality! Therefore, becoming a living Sefer Torah is exactly what our purpose is, to take our animal (parchment) and to engrave D’var Hashem upon it!

I would like to share with you a phenomenal story which I personally verified with the person involved, Rabbi Yitzchok Wolf, Executive Director of the Seymour J. Abrams Cheder Lubavitch Hebrew Day School. It was 1989, and Rabbi Wolf was in need of funds for the day school. They had just launched a program whose mission was to provide Russian immigrants with a Jewish education, connecting them back to their roots that the iron curtain had tried to separate them from. Mr. Seymour J. Abrams, a renowned philanthropist, was CEO of Brickyard Bank of Chicago where the day school held an account.

One fateful day, a conversation took place that would forever link Mr. Abrams and the school. Rabbi Wolf was casually talking with Mr. Abrams, who then wished to expand his extensive Judaica collection. At the time, Chabad was a powerful organization in Eastern Europe and Mr. Abrams, was hoping to enlist their help in obtaining some Judaica from Russia. He mentioned to the Rabbi that he very much wanted to get hold of some precious Judaica and old Sifrey Torah located there. The Rabbi had a brainstorm and promised him that he would have the Sifrey Torah in a few hours! Mr. Abrams was perplexed by this offer. How could this job be carried out so speedily?

Rabbi Wolf then left and returned shortly after. With him he brought two young Russian boys who had just arrived with their parents from the Soviet Union. “Here they are,” said the Rabbi. Mr. Abrams requested an explanation. Rabbi Wolf then passionately declared, “here are the  Eastern European Sifrey Torah that you wanted, they are living Sifrey Torah!” Mr. Abrams saw the children’s innocent faces and their deep desire to connect to their Jewish heritage. He was truly moved. With tears in his eyes, he expressed to the Rabbi how touched he was by the demonstration and asked to know how he could help them. Immediately, he paid a full scholarship for the two boys. The school’s relationship with Mr. Abrams grew steadily and in 1992 he generously sponsored the dedication of the entire school, which now bears his name. His philanthropy has continued ever since and we pray that God grant him only health and success to continue his generosity. All of this began with the appreciation of how precious a Jewish soul is and how every person is a living Sefer Torah! I sincerely thank Rabbi Wolf for sharing this truly touching and relevant story with me. It is a lesson for all of us.

The commandment for the making of the Aron differs from all the other vessels of the Mishkan. Instead of starting with the word ועשית- you shall make, it begins ועשו- they shall make. This teaches us that every single person is capable of making an Aron. Each one of us can rise to the challenge and take our physical body and surround it with Torah, thus becoming a living Sefer Torah!


Parshas Terumah , , , , ,

Flying Through Life – The Journey From Yesterday To Tommorow

Posted by Rabbi Dovid Boruch Kopel
February 2, 2009 - ט' שבט ה' תשס"ט
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The Big Picture

The notion of “what comes up must come down” can be a startling reality. Is everything bound by the rules of gravity pulling us down? Perhaps it is only things that don’t propel themselves. It is as the great Baalei Mussar suggest: if you are not moving up in spirituality then you are falling down! Life must be constantly driven as there are several forces that will bring it down. Not only are there forces that will compromise the intent but they will also cause a misdirection. Nothing is simply set into motion and forgotten about. There are always opposing forces ahead.

The observations we make within the physical realm are often adaptable to the metaphysical. We all have a trajectory that we are following, but over time we may shift off course. We must constantly evaluate and adjust to the conditions that we face in order to achieve our goals. There are times where our current speed and direction is not noticeable as we are slowly drifting off course. Such an acute shift may not be noticed unless viewed from afar. The misalignment is not visible and often neglected until due evidence is brought. The instruments on hand are only as good as the one who interprets them. Even poor instruments can suffice when you can keep the scale in mind. You finally made it right above your landing spot. Touch down softly and embrace the new discovery.


Unlike most take offs ours begins with the pilot sleeping. We aren’t cruising at a high altitude, and are not serving beverages. There really isn’t much going on. Why is it that our lives begin in such a state? Unable to function in the normal sense, unable to perform the mitzvos until later in life. It would seem to be a fair question had we assumed that childhood lacks the ability to carry out the will of Hashem. I always used to answer this question by making reference to the order of study that Chazal[1]dictate. We are told that at the age of five one should learn the Written Code of Torah, followed by the Oral Law of the Mishnah at the age of ten. This Mishnah always seemed to perplex me as children are instructed to learn but alas they are not obligated to follow. That must mean that the level of understanding is enough to grasp something worthwhile but nonetheless not enough to be held responsible for. It may in fact go further than that. It is my belief that the younger years of childhood are there as a stepping stone in taking upon the tremendous yoke of the Torah. The Almighty wants us to follow His Torah perfectly and therefore gives us an opportunity to learn it without having to worry about its observance in our beginning state. This is a nice idea until I heard an answer from my great Rebbi, Rav Nochum Lansky Shlita. He said that what I said doesn’t fully answer the question, as a child does not learn anything prior to the age of three. As the Mishnah here says the age of five, but the Rambam does bring down that when a child begins to speak begin teaching him certain pasukim. My theory fails to explain the need for childhood prior to that age. My Rebbi made an interesting interpretation on the gemara[2] says that Rebbi Akiva waited his entire life (כל ימי חיי) for the moment in which he would be able to carry out the mitzvah of giving one’s life for the glorification of the name of the Almighty. Asked  my Rebbi why does it say kol, meaning entire? He answered that even when Rebbi Akiva was a child this was his desire. He said this in contrast to some that would say that Rebbi Akiva was alluding to the time in his life when he was not a learned individual. When I asked what he were to answer in response to that he said that isn’t kol, it seems that for Rebbi Akiva to say all of his life must mean more than his adult past. What we learn from this according to my Rebbi, and even within my little understanding is that the small steps we take in the beginning carry great weight. I asked Rebbi what was it that Rebbi Akiva could have possibly done to express this idea, Rebbi responded by saying that the depths of your soul contain that special task. It is even at a young age when you are a simple creature you still emit this deep will that will eventually be the life force that carries you through your life.

Setting the Destination

You are airborne. Do you know where you are going? Is your destination set? Is this a non-stop flight…or are you taking your time? In our lives, we only have a one-way ticket. True – with the great gift of teshuvah we are able to undo the past and preserve the future. Do we look at teshuvah as a modification of the past in which it opens the horizons for tommorow, or perhaps it is settings us back on the course that we are originally taking. What’s the difference you may ask!? The difference is do we look at teshuvah as remapping the past or simply correcting the future. It is my firm belief that it is both. As the great Rambam spells out to us that the process of Teshuvah requires both regret of the past as well as a decision to cease future occurrences of the “step in the wrong direction”. It is evidently clear that both are needed and that they are two distinct aspects. Honestly this requires its own discussion but I will simply say that even though the fixing of the future usually implies to regret of the past it is not always so. In fact the parable we looking at can bring out this concept. If we went one-hundred miles off course we want to get to the destination that we planned on, at our current location we can simply compensate for our mistake and change our direction to account for the error. In such a case it is possible that we didn’t care about the wrong doing we took in the beginning we only realized that we must change our course now. That is a lack of regret that is needed in the process of teshuvah.

The flight began and we are travelling at top speed. Trust me, auto-pilot isn’t a good idea. You are surely going to crash? Why? The computer knows where it is going. Our auto-pilot is made to train pilot how to pilot a plane, the pilot would never learn how to fly the plane if the auto pilot were fully functional, therefore we must set the auto pilot in a way in which the pilot must overcome it and direct the plane using his manual and map instead of relying on the on-board computers. You should be asking…why do we need to do that, if the plane can really fly well enough by itself why do we need pilots at all? The answer is because the head of the airline wishes to train his pilots to be able to control planes that malfunction. A good pilot will know how to respond to all conditions and accommodate for all failures. When things get really rough chas v’shalom he will be able to make a crash landing and evacuate the passengers effectively. We must always daven for protection from the worst and aspire for continued bliss. Set your course, grab a hold of your life and all those who are touched by it.

Staying on Route

Every plane is different. Different sizes, occupancy, features etc. Even within planes there are many different types for different purposes. There are prop planes, gliders, cargo planes, jet planes, drop planes, I don’t know so many but I’m sure there are many more. Each plane has a specific role, one that is befitting for one purpose may be a failure for another. It is likely that pilots also have their specialty. Without question there are discrepancies between the planes that would require specific training. Within the numerous factors involved in flying the slightest imperfection can have startling results. The performance of an aircraft is twofold; its upkeep and its piloting. You can have the best pilot in the world but there is not to much you can do if you are out of fuel. You are not the Maker of the aircraft, but you are currently responsible for it. Before every flight you have an obligation that you check your vitals and their functionality. If something is off, it must be fixed prior to take-off.

In order to reach your destination as efficiently as possible you must follow the quickest route with optimal speed. If your nose is angled too high you will experience air resistance causing turbulance as well as slowing you down. You must keep your self level, in touch with what lays below you as well as what hover above you. You must know your place and embrace it, not too high or low. In order to remain at the current altitude you must keep the pitch of the plane straight and balanced. The truth is that you want to constantly soar above avoiding all that lurks below. In order to do that you must keep your nose up and increase speed to accommodate to the change in resistance. Don’t jump too quickly as a change in altitude too quickly will disrupt the cabin pressure. The best advice to elevating properly is through steady constant elevation.

Suddenly Falling

Your  beacon is set, your coordinates are correct, altitude and pressure are fine. All looks clear and peaceful. Let go for a second it watch it all drop. The weather conditions change you must accommodate for them, quickly and cleanly, don’t rock the boat you don’t want to spill anything. The destination may be clearly set but sometimes your path is not as clear. Laying before you are two options how do you decide? A thought-out decision is a must, but both options have ups and downs. What do you do? You call traffic control, you ask for aid. Look up to the heavens, and ask the One who guides every inch of this world for direction. Your radio communications seem to be broke, you don’t hear a response. If you were truly desperate wouldn’t you keep trying? Hoping they listen. He is always listening…you may not see blinking lights but He is always listening. How will you know? He made the instruments well enough that you will be able to guide yourself safely under all conditions. Why put it past Him, it is his plane after all? So you can’t understand it…who made you an aerospace engineer…that’s what I thought. There are always possibilities that you didn’t consider and even if you did try again. In addition to asking traffic control for aid, you can radio your mentors, an experience pilot. One who had studied the ways of the heavens and below, one who helps others and has been in the same seat as you. Ask him, he is wiser than you and has learned from the best. Sometimes reading the manual yourself can help, but other times you will simply miss the point. Not everything is as clear as day, don’t expect it to be. Look for yourself, but when in doubt seek clarification…don’t just “give it a try”, you have an enormous responsibility in your hands. Your life is a given, but the entire crew and the passengers aboard, they are all at your grasp.


This is only a small explanation to this mashal. The truth is that a good mashal can have several understandings. If you have another perspective or other factors that I left out please let me know.

This mashal may or may not be clear to you what the nimshul is, and even it is not every single detail may be. I cannot possibly clarify everything as there is no end, but the big things I can. The plane is your existence. Your consciousness is the pilot. The journey is your Life. The head of the airline is Hashem. The traffic control is your tefillos to Hashem. Auto Pilot is your yetzer hara. The experienced pilot is a Rebbe. The manual is the Torah. The instruments are the natural wonderments in the world. The crew are the people directly involved in your life, aka your wife, family, students etc. The crew is Klal Yisroel, all that you do impacts them as well whether you notice or not.

  1. Avos 5 21 []
  2. Brachos 61b []

Hashkafah , , , , ,

Questions and Answers About The Alter

Posted by Rabbi Dovid Boruch Kopel
January 22, 2009 - כ"ז טבת ה' תשס"ט
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Rav Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman , , , , , ,

The Shidduch Crisis Part 1 – Dating Sensitivity

Posted by Rabbi Yosef Tropper
January 14, 2009 - י"ט טבת ה' תשס"ט
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This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Shidduchim and Marriage

There has been much written about the issue of Shidduchim or lack thereof over the last few years. Many have pointed their fingers at the statistical disproportion between the large number of girls and the shortage of boys. Many have talked about the difference between a “good” boy and a “good” girl. Others have blamed the age differential of when each gender begins dating. Others have claimed that not enough people are getting involved in actually suggesting matches. The list goes on, as we all painfully know. Whichever reason you see as the crux of the matter, there is one issue which I feel compelled to point out here because of its great importance and yet its virtual neglect from public discussion. Perhaps it is this issue which is truly preventing people from coming together. That is: Are the daters doing their part to act with proper care, consideration, and sensitivity towards others? Are they being taught and are they putting into practice how to be the “mentsh” that both girls and boys always state that they are looking for?

I hope that we will find ways to enhance the lives of our dear fellow people. Please let my words find merit on their own accord. If you feel that I have raised a good point, then I am happy; if you disagree with me, I respect your opinion as well. So here is an extrapolation of what is on my mind.

Our Nation is known as compassionate and caring toward others. However, unfortunately, many people are getting hurt daily in the process of finding their mates. Why is this so? Perhaps people realize the great responsibility and seriousness of choosing a spouse; they see the great lifetime ramifications that depend upon this decision and thus they become extra protective and cautious for their own safety. This may cause an inadvertent neglect in factoring how their words or actions could hurt other people. It is my hope to tap into people’s true sensitivity in order that we can realign our actions to be consistent with our Torah understanding of true Derech Eretz.

I am going to ask a series of questions. I understand that many of them can be answered, and some of them very well. Perhaps I am missing information, perhaps I am being too judgmental or extra sensitive, or perhaps you are not guilty of anything listed below. Indeed if some or all of my words do not apply to you then I salute you for being such a considerate person who thinks about others! Perhaps then I will be able to strengthen your resolve towards sensitivity. All I wish to show is the many areas of sensitivity and consideration which I think should be thought about more by our young men and women, and their parents, striving to build their home for Hashem. The questions are meant to stimulate the mind to point out the issues and to represent the numerous feelings and sentiments as they have been expressed to me by those that raised them.

Remember that before you can walk in someone else’s shoes, you must first take off your own! Try to see and feel the side of the victim, you will find this most enlightening. This way we will heighten our awareness and learn how to make this world a happy place for all. All of the stories are true to the best of my knowledge.

  • Are we courteous and respectful as the Torah dictates from us?
  • Why is it permissible to speak any lashon hara, slander, and justify it by calling it “research” or “I feel that this is relevant”? Why can we insult people or hurt their feelings so freely?
  • Why do people blatantly lie?
  • How do people know what the “dater” will find attractive, intelligent, lively or fun, that grants them the right to inform people not to go out with someone? Doesn’t everyone have different tastes? Do we not find ourselves surprised all the time by people’s ultimate selections?!
  • Why do all of his/her friends have to know, and in great detail, about every single girl/boy they ever met or were suggested and “knew” that she/he wasn’t “good enough” for them?
  • Why do people not return phone calls? Why do people make suggestions and not call back with the details that they promised? Why do people neglect to reply with an answer to suggestions that they were offered? Why do people not call politely to remind them?!
  • Why do people dismiss a Shidduch suggestion with two lethal words- “THAT family?!” “THAT seminary/Yeshiva?!” “THAT Shul?!” “THAT city?!” or even “THAT Shadchan?!
  • Why do boys complain that they couldn’t find the girls house, because no light was left on, and when they finally thought they found it, no sign or number was in sight to dispel their doubts?
  • Why was a boy given a 45 minute unannounced impromptu test and psychoanalysis, by her parents, on everything he ever learned and the detailed recounting of his ultimate life goals, as he waited nervously before meeting the girl for the first time?
  • Why was one boy who called a woman for information three days before Pesach told that he should call back after Yom Tov as she was too busy then, only to be called on Erev Pesach by that exact woman asking him for information about his friend for her daughter?!
  • Why do boys complain that girl’s written profiles contain no vital updated information, wrong ages, wrong numbers and too vague descriptions? Why do girls complain that boys don’t even have a written profile? Couldn’t things be much better clarified by giving over a clear written document?
  • Why can’t people write their actual date of birth, education, present occupation, family details, descriptive personality and haskafa of themselves and what they would appreciate in a spouse along with any other pertinent information which they know would be of relevance?
  • How did a boy who dialed a reference number which he was given on a printed profile end up on the phone with the prospective girl’s mother?
  • Why do official references say all the time, “I’m sorry, I don’t really know that person!” Why don’t people choose references who are articulate, patient and updated about their life goals? Why don’t references just call their friend directly to clarify the questions which they cannot answer? Why not give a large selection of references, with a short relationship description, so that there are many people to be called in case some of the references cannot be reached?
  • Why do so many people refuse to speak or write a profile for themselves leaving it all to their parents? So many Shadchanim say that they only realized who the person was when they met or spoke to them in person to hear what they themselves were looking for and not what their parents wanted?!
  • If one is mature enough to get married, are they not mature enough to speak to the Shadchan themselves between dates? Surely one can discuss what they will say with their mentor(s), but why play broken-telephone by sending messages through others?
  • Why do people ask insensitive and irrelevant questions, such as, “list me off all of the prospect’s character faults!”?
  • Why is it common practice for a boy or girl to wait a week or two or longer for an answer? Do people not know how much stress and anxiety this causes?
  • Why do people turn exchanging Dor Yeshorim numbers into such an issue? Why can’t it just be done, and not mean anything, whenever one side asks for it, whether it’s before the dating begins or any time after? The entire process takes literally 2 minutes (try it and you’ll see)!? Why do people lose their Dor Yeshorim number or not have it available, thereby looking careless? The official paper is not needed, one can simply write down their nine digits and carry it in their wallet! Why isn’t it done as early as possible before two people become quickly emotionally involved?
  • Why are people so tense, serious and uptight on dates, wouldn’t one represent their real self better if they just relaxed and opened up gradually instead of attacking? Why was a girl’s first words to a boy as they pulled out of her driveway, “so what are your life-goals?” and “tell me about your entire family?” What happened to formalities or “how was your trip here?”
  • Why are people so quick to jump to conclusions, why don’t we talk and clarify things together?
  • Why did a Shadchan dismiss a Rosh Yeshiva’s concerns about why a Shidduch fell through by simply stating, “I never would have set them up in the first place!” ? Are we God?
  • Why was a person dumped after many long and serious dates without being talked to in person, or even over the phone, and even the Shadchan who called to inform them that they were not getting engaged had no explanation to provide?
  • Why do so many boys and girls not have a trusted Rebbe or Mentor to speak to? How do they think that they can navigate the complex issues and dangers of dating on their own or by only speaking to friends their age with insufficient life experience to guide them properly?
  • Why do people double-date?
  • Why do so many people only focus on themselves and not try to make the other person comfortable? Even if one is not having a good time and recognizes that their date is not for them, can’t they still exercise common courtesy to another human being?
  • Why are so many people so quick to dump? Relationships take time to develop and very often so does attraction!? Why are so many people so quick to get engaged? What’s the rush?
  • Why do so many people not communicate their concerns and questions directly to the one they are dating? Isn’t that something important for a partnership?
  • Why do so many girls only speak to their Rav, without even speaking to a Rebbetzin or trusted woman mentor who can help her with her feelings which her Rav does not specialize in and will advise her of this as well? Why do boys not ask their mothers and sisters for advice on how to understand the opposite gender?
  • Why is so little appreciation given to the boys and especially to the girls who spend hundreds of dollars and hours traveling in just to date? If one is not comfortable expressing appreciation verbally, doesn’t he/she at least deserve more than one short date?!
  • Why do people do a timed-date, how could you develop a relationship with someone by telling them that the clock is ticking, “the date must be from four to six”, without a sensitive justification?
  • No one said you have to marry this person, but why should they walk away from dating you with much pain and questions on your middos?

I anxiously wait to hear your valuable feedback. I reiterate that I am not looking for answers to these questions, there is always an answer available! I am looking to heighten sensitivity awareness! I suggest that this turn into a group project of reawakening consideration and thoughtfulness! I know that everyone wants to be nice and respectful. I think that this is a great project to work on for those seeking to get married as well as those wishing to grow together in their marriages! If you agree with me, please write your support and recommendations for this proposition. Please add your observations and advice. If you disagree with me, please raise your objections and we will clarify this together. My intentions are not to offend anyone, and I apologize if I did, I only want to increase success and happiness in our Nation.

To sum it all up, Shidduchim is about finding the right person, at the right place, at right time, and in the right manner! May we all be zocheh to live with health, happiness and harmony!


Hashkafah, Shidduchim and Marriage , , , ,


Posted by Rabbi Dovid Boruch Kopel
January 10, 2009 - ט"ו טבת ה' תשס"ט
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The Lion is deemed the King of its environment as it is a predator and not preyed upon. Wearing its mane, the Lion roams about in packs at the top of its food chain while depending upon the other animals for sustenance. A Lion may seem like a King however there is one drastic difference the Lion’s niche is innate; no thirst for power leads to this royal stature, rather the natural instincts that it was born with. A Human King may wear a crown and often born into royalty but the entire makeup of his kingship differs. The Lion is born a King and lives according to his instincts; however the King lives according to his instincts to live like a King. This facile difference is the major gap between Mankind and Beast.

Desire is the yearning that fuels a Human as opposed to a Beast. A Beast only has desires of bodily needs; the essential factors that it survives upon are hunted for and once acquired the Beast ceases. In some rare cases a Beast will take more than it needs; in such a scenario that Beast will take until it has reason not to which is based upon its other instincts such as stomach pain from gluttony. A Beast is born with a desire to have relations, it may not have any understanding that a offspring will result from it rather just as it is hungry it will eat so to by procreation. Only the Human has desires that extend past its bodily needs. A Human will die if it does not appease that which its body needs, however Man has the ability to overturn his desires and refrain from them. This ability is the force that drives Man to whatever undertaking it desires; this being the premise to Man and the lust for his crown.

Man and his desire coupled with a society will shape that which it needs to the extent that it may precede his true necessities. This corresponds with the idea that Man is able to actively destroy himself; it is obvious that his desires are unique within a scope of great variance there may be some constant factors. This consistency is often shaped by society rather more specifically shaped according to his ambitions are. This concept may be represented by the King’s Crown.

The realization that society is the greatest influence on ones desires is not absolute. If that is true theoretically if a Man were secluded from birth in a habitat in which he could self-sustain himself. It is likely that he would live a life like a Beast. If he never knew of any means of communication, or any other Humans he would probably be content with what he had. He would entertain himself and live according to the true innate instincts. One is not able to comprehend that which he is not introduced to. In this case this Man would never desire to eat a food that he has not been introduced to, rather he may stumble upon the idea that there are other foods and would want to eat them. However, if he was secluded on an Island he has never seen anything past it so he may desire to know what else exists but that is all. Unless he knows that something exists he cannot yearn for it. The exception to that may be companionship. It is probable that the desire of the opposite gender is an innate desire. The composition of that individual; physical, emotional and other aspects of a person are greatly subjective and therefore are not completely innate. Though since Man knows he exists, just like he can long for the knowledge of other foods he may long for the existence of the Humans. The desire to reproduce and the lack of knowledge of any other Human would most likely leave him depressed and eventually suicidal. The other innate desires he is capable of suppressing but the constant seeking is enough to destroy someone.

This desire of reproduction is related to the desire to communicate. Had there been to urge to reproduce an Animal would not do so. The world was created in such a way that Man and Beast needs to reproduce which is obvious. The less obvious idea is the need to communicate. There is no doubt that the idea of reproduction is not just a means of ensuring the populous rather Mans personal sense of internal growth. The converse of the feeling of lacking is not full rather complete. The feeling of lacking is that there is a longing for something that one cannot explain and everything becomes numb to suppress this longing. The relationship of two counterparts is a physical and mental need that is innate. The presence of that other person provides the missing piece to the puzzle of his longing. In reality this relationship is a means of growing attached both physically and mentally and becoming dependent upon each other. Over time the outcome is that the two fuse to a complete entity that complements each other.

On the metaphysical level the two people together provide corresponding personality traits that are befitting to the others development in maturing each other together. In addition to the innate desires Man is born with, he is also born with a personality. A personality is an obscure word that describes the pitch of ones means of communicating and co-existing with others. If our theoretical man on the island were to stub his toe he would feel pain and may cry and scream but through time he will stop as the nerves in his toe stop expressing to the nervous system that there is pain. If he constantly feels this pain like constantly being pricked with a sharp object he will at first not be able to bear the pain but eventually he can overcome the pain. He will continue to feel the pain but his tolerance to how much pain will bother him will decrease. The same is true by one’s personality. If a person have a roaring temper but received a prick from a sharp object he could either learn to deal with the pain or control his temper. This pricking is a resultant of companionship for the most part but also by general society. In order to coexist with other either one is pricked and learns to control himself or learns to tolerate the pricking.

This second option where a person would cease to control himself even if he is pressured to stop is the concept of argument. An argument is when the opposing sides refuse to agree. Peace is not the absence of different sides rather the ability to tolerate the other sides. That may mean adjusting aspects on each of the opposing sides and maybe even seceding. The desire that was mentioned earlier is what causes disharmony. When one desires something that cannot coexist with the other that desire has the power to occupy ones life leaving everything else behind.

The power that society can have is to dictate the guidelines of what is desired. The need longing to coexist with other will fuel the person to want to meet to those guidelines.


Hashkafah , , , ,

Responding To Difficult Times

Posted by Rabbi Dovid Boruch Kopel
January 4, 2009 - ט' טבת ה' תשס"ט
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It is an amazing observation that is so simple in its root. The things that show the greatest Yad-Hashem may be perceived as the utter lack of such. There are individuals who have a “healthy” mindset where they see the Yad-Hashem constantly in our everyday lives. Such people will always take the best of those events that occur in the world and respond accordingly. There are others who sees everything with a tinge of chaos, nothing is logical, nothing is fair – you get the point. The first group of people can accept those events that we don’t understand their source. The others choose not only to not accept but they go even further and say that things are unjust and asks questions that begin with “why” and end with “it’s not fair”. Such people are often miserable, and it is a real shame. It’s such a shame because the things that are here in this world for us to remind us of our mishaps are those such events. It is not by chance that catastrophic events occur in the world. It isn’t by some roll of the dice that certain groups of people are targeted more than others. It is not pure coincidence that the Jewish people are always in the center of the media. No, none of this is true. It is because this is for us to realize that something is wrong, very wrong. The scariest part is when we don’t even see the signs. We are so far aways that the signs to help us are foreign!

The Almighty made an amazing system in the human body. We have defense mechanisms in our nervous system that allows us to sense pain or extreme temperatures and react to them. The sense itself is only an indication for us to react accordingly. Meaning the sensation of agony that we feel when we touch something hot is to cause us to move our hand away to prevent any damage. The pain itself is minute in comparison to had there been no indication and the inevitable conclusion of severely damaging your hand chas v’shalom. If a person was about to walk in the street unaware that a car was approaching. In response to that another individual heroically pushed the man out of the way resulting in him falling to the ground and bruising his leg. The injured man begins getting hot and excited in response to the pain he is currently suffering. The hero says in shock, “I saved your life”. The injured man responds, “Yeah, but you hurt me.”. I don’t think anyone can honestly say that the injured man is responding appropriately. What a fool, I would say. Your live was saved what is a little pain?! My dear friends we do this everyday! We are swept out of the way from death and left with a mere paper-cut. What is our response? “Yeah, but you hurt me.”. Why do we do this? Is it because we don’t really sense the danger initially, or are we that sick that we cannot overlook the momentary pain!? I think we can gauge this by seeing our response in a similar scenario. If the hero saved us with not a scratch, how thankful would we be? I hope that we would be at least “very” thankful if not ecstatically thankful. Therefore you may conclude that the momentous pain is actually concealing this emotion and submerging it below. How can that be? Such an appreciation, why would it fall to this minute pain? The answer is because we let it. We have a tendency to lose sight of appreciating the gifts that we are constantly given. When the smallest opportunity comes to avoid having to feel appreciative to someone we will take it. This selfish nature is deeply rooted in man and is a very powerful force. The only way to treat such a great threat like this is with a secret weapon that the Chazal tell us.

Chazal[1] teach us: “חביבין יסורין עליך”, or “Love the suffering that befall upon you”. You may ask why in the world should you react that way? The answer is because all that happens to us is just and fair. It is needed for us and it is the best thing for us. The yisurim that we are given are compared by Chazal to the raw meat that is sweetened by salt. We all know that salt has a unique ability that it absorbs liquids, when raw meat is covered in salt the result is that the blood is absorbed into the salt. I thought that the reason why the Chazal compare the salt sweetening the meat because it won’t have any more blood. However says the great commentator the Maharshah that it is the entrance of the yisurim in the meat as opposed to the meat being sweet due to the absence of the blood. That means that it is two-fold, both the absence of the blood as well as the presence of the salt sweetens the meat. That is a comparison given to explain the relationship between yisurim with the avonos that we do. The yisurim absorb the avonos, but they also improve the individual as well. The yisurim brings you to a level that you weren’t at prior to the avonos. This is an understanding that can explain the statement of Chazal that a Baal-Teshuvah stands at a place that even a Tzadik Gamor stands. That is due to the acceptance of the yisurim that one experiences he returns to where he had before with an added sweetness to the Ribono Shel Olam.

These yisurim help rid us of our wrong, and give us a push in the right direction as well.  We have so much at our grasp! These words of Chazal are the keys to all the locks in our lives. The first step to getting in control is by seizing it! The tools are here, are you? We have the ability to change our focus and direct our attention on the aspects of life that are so much neglected. Realize that even the worst of times is really the best for you.

Now that we have an idea of how to look at things in a finer light. We can just briefly adapt this concept from a individual basis to a global one. As you may or may not know, the world was created for a purpose. The Jewish People are the head of the campaign of this purpose. We are the sole members who cause the success and failure of this campaign. Everything else in the world, are here to aid that purpose. They are essential for us to utilize but that is all. Therefore all of the events of this world are due to our actions, and that alone. The Jewish People are responsible for all the catastrophic events and all the wondrous ones as well. All of them are a result of our actions. This is simply the system of the Jewish People being treated like one body. This idea is something I hope to bring out in another entire article, but until then this idea is important to know. We are all one. That isn’t just a good line, but rather a truth to the deep secrets of this world. The People of Yisroel are one body. That single body is treated with the same system of yisurim as aforementioned above. We are given the opportunities as a community to see our wrong-doings and repent appropriately. That being a communal effort all are affected by it. The sinners and righteous are treated as one group[2] therefore we must all act in response to those yisurim. Those of use who attempt to perform the Mitzvos of the Torah are not “as” liable for the yisurim but we are still of course responsible. For the very fact that we are obligated to see that others do not transgress as well!

When we see things in our personal lives, as well as our lives generally speaking. We should try not to focus on the “Why is this happening to me?” with emphasis on the “me”, rather focus the “why”. The answer will always be the same, because you need it. If not you yourself then you as a part of the People of Yisroel. If you are experiencing these events in your life that is the biggest reminder that you are the one that can help. If not why is it happening to you? It is happening to you so that you do something about it. Respond to the events in your life by taking action to fix, not to question. Don’t try to understand the “me”, sometimes not even the “why”. There are times we won’t fully understand at all, but always realize there is a reason. When all things look dismal – look up. This is your chance, right now. If not you then who? If not now then when? If there was ever a time where you are being given your chance to do something, it’s right now. When you are down. Keep looking up and realize the time is now, and I am going to take charge of my actions.f

  1. Berachos 5, b []
  2. Though the Rambam in Hilchos Teshuvah states that the punishments are based on the majorities there are of course those who break free from this calculation []

Hashkafah, Mussar , , , ,

Man and His Fellow

Posted by Rabbi Dovid Boruch Kopel
November 25, 2008 - כ"ח מרחשון ה' תשס"ט
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The sole purpose of our life is Kiddush Hashem1i. This understanding is reflected on the attitude that we are commanded to live our lives as Ovday Hashemii. The only way to achieve Kiddush Hashem is in accordance with the servitude of the carrying out of Mitzvosiii. The Almighty gave Moshe Rabbaynuiv the Torah with an immutable tradition from Sinai until today which has enabled generations of Jews to function and worship according to the Torah. while they are obligated in several ways to learn and guard the Torah in order to follow it2. It is the l’shmor v’laasos3v of the Mitzvos that are written by the obligation of Kiddush Hashem4 and are the foundation of Torah. The Sages teach us that there are three basic aspects of the learning of Torah5: its learning alone, its teach to others and its carrying out. Truly the Torah makes an impression on all that live by its teachings, additionally the Torah provides the framework that one can grow within his own spiritual growth as well as interaction with others. The growth in Ruuchniusvi is limitless however the time to grow is merely a Lifetime.

If one looks at the early obligations of a male this seems apparent. A child is ready for chinuchvii at the time when he can recite the verse of Torah צוה לנו משה. After that we learn6 that he should begin learning Chumashviii at the age of Five, learn Mishnayosix at the age of Ten, at the age of Thirteen he is obligated on a Torah level to perform Mitzvos, and begin learning תלמוד at the age of Fifteen, and the Mishnah goes on to state more specifics. From the time of Twenty and onward, he is liable to punishment as well as serving in the army. Thus proving that with age and progression comes with the ability to adhere closer to the Torah7. We believe that through age one is closer to Torah. The most kavod is given to the oldest of a group, as this is an apparent halachah in all aspects of the Torah. We know that every year we are expected to do ודוי and teshuvah. This is truly the way that we improve in terms of our adherence to Mitzvos. We are required to reflect our past year and decide what factors we must improve upon. The idea of teshuvah can truly be tied in with the aforementioned premise of life. There is an obligation of walking in the way of the Almighty this is interpreted to teach us to follow the virtues of the Almighty in all ways. Thus we live our lives in the mannerisms of the Almighty with the details of the Torah, all for the eventual goal of providing Kiddush Hashem.

As we learn, the reason for קרבנות is not because the Almighty needs them, rather to fulfill our desire to give back. We learn from the sages that there is no end to the praises of the Almighty that is why in the עמידה we limit the amount of adjectives describing the virtues of the Almighty to הנורא,הגדול והגיבור a question is asked as to why we don’t extrapolate on the virtues of the Almighty the simple answer is because there is no amount of words to describe the endlessness, so we limit it to the ones from the the Anshei Kneses HaGadol. We see that in all natures of the Torah, the attitude is aimed towards preserving the sacredness of the Torah. Above all, the strive for perfection like the Almighty is based off the fact that we are בצלם אלקים. This gives us the need to better ourselves in all ways possible.

We know that in terms of the Mitzvos we are obliged to fulfill; can be viewed in many different means of organization. One method is the relationship of the commandment and those who follow it. We know that there are two and some say three relationships. Between man and the Almighty which include all commandments in the long run, but on a simple level contain all aspects of Mitzvos where the one obligated has no need for interaction with anyone else. As opposed to commandments between man and his fellow. This is simply the way one interacts with his fellow. However, on a deeper level this would also be included in the interaction with the Almighty as well since all things affect kavod shaim shemayim. The last category is between man and himself. This is the inner struggles that one faces in terms of his adherence to the commandments. In reality, all the categories of these commandments are truly the same, as everything interacts together. The end result is everything one does will effect the other type of commandment.

Taking what has been said in account, as time progresses man is expected to achieve a great deal more adherence to the commandments and becoming closer and closer to perfection. If everyone took all that was said in account at every moment of the day that they were permitted to, the attitude towards life would be nothing other then being a Servant of Hashem. What happens? Why isn’t our adherence to the commandments, not like this? With this known, why do we have mishaps with others? The answer is simple. We are not perfect, only given the ability and directions to become so. With outside influences, we become distracted from what is important, and we begin to loss our grasp on what is truly the רצון השם. There are two basic types of people in this sense. One being the people whom make mistakes, realize them, and take necessary steps towards safeguarding them, these are the people that live Torahdik lives. The other type of person in this sense, is the one whom places emphasis in the wrong areas of his life. He conceals himself from the truth because he is so involved in other aspects of this world, that the truly important aspects of life are not given the attention they deserve. It is possible that one may be both people that is most prevalent among many people of our time. These are the people whom have dwindled down to the various sects of Judaism whom lack adherence to the true laws of the Torah. They place emphasis in secondary goals of their lives, as opposed to focusing on the truth. May the Almighty have רחמנות on these people and give them a the ability to come back to observance of the Torah full heartily.

The tendency to do sins, even for the first type of people is still possible. The truth is, there would never be an idea of teshuvah had there not been sin8. The sin is the beginning of what we do in order to better ourselves in our ever longing goal towards perfection9.

The obligation of אהבת ישראל is a basis for the overlying concept of the way we treat others. Within our lives, we are required to have a good standing relationship with the other individuals that inhabit this world. It is prohibited to hate another Jew to the extent that to even think of doing a prohibited act between a fellow is prohibited. The only difficulty is that people differ from one and another. One is shy, one is friendly, one is quiet the other is loud, one is more intelligent, one is more simple. The fact is that the Almighty created a very vast and wide range of people. Thus making the obligation of living peacefully with your fellow even more difficult.

The תלמוד is written with the utmost precision in terms of words, their order, and even their spelling. A person can deeply analyze a piece of תלמוד and end up with a certain understanding of it. There are certain guidelines he can follow within that learning that are consistent within all of תלמוד the problem is, people are not. People have הרגשה. People have experiences and other factors of life which cause them to live and act in a certain respect. Their actions, and thoughts don’t always seem logical, and sometime simply aren’t. However, there is an obligation to treat every Jew (there are some exceptions)10 with respect, kindness, and follow the virtues of the Almighty in doing so. Since the beginning of time Man has had difficulty in interacting with one another. The Torah doesn’t wait long to show deception, lying, murder, as well as many of the other common wrong doings of man to his fellow. Even within following the letter of the law, is not so simple in terms of people. There is no real שלחן ערוך for you and your fellow. That is because one must treat every person differently in terms of how to communicate without upsetting his or her well being.

The first step in understanding your fellow is to begin to understand yourself. Your own tendencies, habits, mannerisms, and the like. Knowing how you bother others, as well as what others like about you are both integral. Knowing all the sides of your personality and your means of communication can allow you to know what factors to look for in others. So too, if you see things that others do that do not coexist with your well being, make sure to prevent yourself from doing the same.

To elaborate on this concept one should consult the great Sifrai Mussar on this subject of knowing oneself, but perhaps we can list a few ideas. Understanding yourself is not the solution rather the beginning to a solution. Since each person is different from his fellow knowing yourself won’t always protect another’s emotions to a scenario because we cannot necessarily relate to their past and present. This of course requires everyone to at least expect the fellow to react the way you would, though do not be shocked to find that itself may not be true. It is noteworthy to realize that the attribute of being stubborn and not open to the allowance for change that make first impressions so important. A constant thought should always run through your mind that even one word or one gesture said or done can shift another’s impression of you. Your care about what others think of you is something to be discussed later, as it requires some explanation. The chezkas or a mechanic status that is assumed based off of prior reasoning is sometimes much harder to break than it should be. Misconceptions of others can be placed without not words but just by the clothing worn or the people associated with, and that is a reality regardless of its justification. Countless times the Sages teach us that one must assume that a person of generally proper actions who for sure seen doing something that was less than proper he is assumed to have done teshuvah and only if he repeats this action countlessly can you have any question in him. In such a situation you are still always never sure, even if you think you are sure.

To dan l’kaf zchus is the obligation, that is two-fold. Perhaps one may think that means you have to be creative and think of a hypothetical scenario that would make it possible that what you saw is actually permissible. Perhaps, we can say its nothing more than there can always be an option that you didn’t think of. It is only the haughtiness of a person that can lead him to think that there is no other option. Furthermore even if there is no other option there is still the fact that you don’t know the circumstances that led to that action. If that is true, how is it that one can ever have an obligation of Tochachah?

The Torah obligation of giving Tochachah11 is not as simple as one may think. The idea being that the other person ends up feeling good about themselves after the matter is brought to their attention. Going back to the two types of people that exist, the latter would be someone whom would take great offense in such a implication. People whom have misguided lives, will also take a helping hand the wrong way. If your entire goal for living is to perfect yourself, you want nothing more than someone else to help you do so. However if that is not your true intention, you will feel criticized and will be offended. Offense is not something virtuous. Feelings of guilt, and insult have no purpose. Even in terms of ones observance in being a servant of the Almighty guilt is not helpful. Guilt is when the other person or entity wanted the thing done, or not done. The Almighty doesn’t need your Mitzvos, he is providing a deed to us, one that is of unimaginable greatness. Instead of just handing us the World to Come, we are given the ability to work for it. To show how must be appreciate the chance. We are given the ability to live a life of fulfillment and beauty by have this world in order to have even greater appreciation for the next world. If someone is insulted that means that they think they matter. They have no right being insulted. Every person should think and know that the Almighty would have created the world just for them. That is the truth. However, within that the world is inhabited by all of the people and creatures here. When someone is insulted they are putting themselves at a level where they have an attitude of puzzlement how one could say or do such a thing. This is a sign of being haughty, and that is for sure not within the goals of the Torah. When a fellow does a wrong doing to you, it should be taken with a great deal of quietness. As it is very easy for one sin to become several. If one reacts the way the Torah says, with dignity, and respect for the the Torah, as well as observance of its laws, only good can come from that. It is the attitude that you give off in a poor situation, that people can see how you truly are. They will imagine how virtuous the Almighty is if this person is merely trying to live along the same path. Therefore we know that there is a commandment of providing Holiness to Hashem.

The difficulty is that most people have difficulty in admitting such an obligation exists. In doing so, they are forcing themselves to change the very nature of their lives. Their lives are no longer “theirs”, rather only a tool in which they have to utilize in order to achieve the ultimate goal of perfecting oneself like the Almighty. However the Evil Inclination strengthens our desires to sway from this goal. In all mannerisms, we are given some means of perversion from the path in which we truly must take. In the end, the decision is our, though there only one true path the desire of Hashem. Once one has truly gotten to the point in which he is going to devote to his live to serving Hashem, he must now be able to accurately distinguish between that which is the desire of Hashem, and that which is really the Evil Inclination. There is no exact rule to determine such an undertaking, had there been surely more people would have control of their actions, rather more people would take control of their actions. However that is not the case, and people must fend for themselves in determining the more precise means of analysis in order to truly determine how each and every one of the actions a person makes may effect his life. This effect can vary from a nearly insignificant means to something of great matters. The truth of the matter is that it is not within our grasp of this world to be able to know the impact of our actions. Had someone been given the option to see what his actions caused, logically he would modify his actions. If a child burns his mouth on a hot piece of food, he puts the next piece in his mouth and sure enough the same burning sensation occurs. Now, if the child is distracted for a short period of time, giving the food time to cool off. If he tries putting the food in his mouth, he is satisfied with the fact that did not get burned. The first two times he felt the pain he received, but since he was able to eat the third piece, he will most likely forget that the first two times ever occurred. He could reason that since now he didn’t get burned, for some reason the other times I was burned, but now…He could very well rationalize his emotions in to a theory, or he could take himself out of the situation and analyze all the events that occurs and his perception of them at the time in reflection to his perception of them now. With little thought the factor of time seemingly is the cause for this phenomenon. It wasn’t that the food was never hot, rather the heat diminished as the time elapsed. Logically speaking the child would be more cautious and given the same scenario once he would determine the food is hot, he would wait until it cools down. However, chances are the child either doesn’t remember his previous incident, or has yet to learn from it. This analogy is obvious to any scenario when it comes to sin. The only difference is that a child burns himself is an immediate and undeniable sensation. Kares, is the exact opposite. The punishment one receives for forcibly transgressing a biblical prohibition of the desecration of Shabbos is Kares. Kares is simply taking years off of your life and separating oneself from the Almighty. Kares in all aspects is the opposite of how we are supposed to live our lives; a long life getting close to the Almighty. We see that there is punishment in this world as well as punishment in the next world. The people whom truly lack any fear of the Almighty cares neither about this world or the next world.

Kares is placed on as the first Mishnah in Kresos says that there are thirty-nine cases that have a punishment of Kares. Most of these cases deal directly with chokim m’shemayim. These are for the most part dinim in which the simple outlook of them doesn’t necessarily seem to make sense. This is what is truly a test of faith and the ability to push oneself to do the will of the Almighty full heartily. There are two positive commandments in which when neglected for a certain duration will result in a punishment of Kares. They are Milah, and Karbon Pesach.

A note worthy observation, דברים שבבל אינו דברים except when it comes to אונס. People whom have pondered the purpose, the meaning, and true essence of life do not necessarily practice it. There is a theorem that exists in Mathematics that can provide a way to look at such a thought. Let’s say there is a person standing in a room with a door. In order for him to reach that door he must walk the length of the distance between the place in which he stands and his goal. However, if you take that numerical distance, and halve it you are left with a number that will infinitely extend towards zero, though never touching it. The understanding is that in mathematics there is an infinite amount of space in between you and the door, however we of course know that you are capable of reaching that door as long as you walk the distance. Going back to our original case, the person whom wants to reason and rationalize he will never reach his goal. However, if one proclaims the truth and walks the distance he must he will get to the door. Things that are matters of the heart, meaning thoughts aren’t really thoughts except for matters in which it is in accidental occurrences.

People do not like being criticized. If the person is a ירא שמאים the person will eventually realize the true benefit of the critiziee’s input.

A persons convictions are so strange that he himself isn’t truly aware of them. חז”ל teaches us that we must have constant דעת that the Almighty is as the verse says אנכי יי. However, if one could do that and still do a sin something is very wrong within him. Therefore one must conclude that either they do not have constant דעת of the presence of the Almighty or the man is not sane. So what is that drives people to do עבירות? Is it the opposite of the force that one has to do Mitzvos? The reason one is supposed to do Mitzvos is for no reason other than the fact that he is commanded to do so. In the realization that the Almighty has constant control of all that is, and that the Torah is that of the רצון השם. One does what he is told to. Since people do the Mitzvos osay and ח”ו they do the Lo Saaseh they are contradicting themselves. Thus one must conclude that either the actual driving force to do Mitzvos osay is not the Torah that would serve to reason how one could do עבירות. However, there of course is the יצר הרע. Even if one does Mitzvos osay with the proper intentions, and attempts to do so by Mitzvos Lo Saaseh the truth is that the true רצון השם which is the Taryag Mitzvos can be thwarted to and from until the צוי may fit into ones רצון בפני עצמו. Since he only adjusted the צוי he can continue to go on doing what can be called רצונו השם, meaning his desire of השם. When one truly wants to do something, and believes that it precedes his עבודת השם he may often end up beingעוקר the truth and replace it with an excuse.

When a person claims he wants something, then when given an opportunity to get that but lacks the ability to proceed accordingly due to certain difficulties the ‘want’ was not strong enough in his mind. Is there a difference between knowing the difficulties from the time of claim, or prior to. Often people lack care in detail, therefore they neglect viewing something from all standpoints. The halachahx according to all opinions is that in order to receive מלקות, one must have עידים and אזהרה prior to doing an act of חלול שבת in order to receive סקילה. There is discussion in terms of what his response must be, meaning if he must clarify his recollection of the עונש and that today is שבת and that the action at hand is in fact אסור. In an analogous case, a man hires an individual to follow him around all day wherever he goes, that if he says לשון הרע he will wound him until he is unconscious. Such an idea is absolutely absurd, and of course against the Torah. However, rather effective. The סנהנדרין gives מכות for all prohibitions with an action with the exception of three, and those that result in the same resultant as the prohibited act through a variant methodology (לפי הרמב”ם). The idea of מלקות which of course is a דין מן הTorah (there is also מלקות מרדות which is דרבנן) is seemingly a קנס. If one had the knowledge12 of such a קנס the person would take that into account prior to making his claim. People13 would never do anything if they were aware of such consequences. Several factors must be elaborated upon to understand how they can do so.

The greatest הנאה in this world is that of Torah though one second of הנאה doesn’t compare to the amount of הנאה in עולם הבא. This is a very difficult concept to grasp, though simply understanding the Torah is not part of this world rather the essence of the world, both this and the next. Therefore there is no contradiction. Is the pain and suffering in this world also not comparable to the next world?

We are עבדים as expressed throughout דברי חז”ל. We were given the option to choose between חירות and עבדות. The change was between the מר….

Why must be with others? Why must we live and grow alongside our fellows and exist as a communal unit? Is it not enough that we keep the Mitzvos of the Torah? Just let me grow into a mensch for a few years, learn Torah, do Mitzvos then I can handle anything!? Just like we are given a span of time prior to our obligations begin to prepare ourselves for our duties, so too all of Avodas Hashemxi is given that preparatory period. The same Almighty that obligated us to say krias shma bi daily also commanded us to not hold a grudge on our fellow. This is not a matter of righteousness, rather the letter of the law. This is not a stringency, or a action of the pious, rather the minimal expectation of the Almighty. We must constantly be aware of this notion, that even though that the learning of Torah is correlated as a fulfillment of all of the Mitzvos of the Torah the tremendous responsibility of not causing someone embarrassment is given the severity in the eyes of the Sages as killing someone. It is that thought that should wake us up to how important it is to realize that the words one says mean something, even in a joking fashion. As the Sages tell us in regards to the priority of a positive obligation over a transgression the Gemara14 says that perhaps you would have thought that because one is obligated to honor his parents, if they were to decree you to desecrate the Sabbath you are not permitted to. Says the Gemara it is the same Almighty that obligated you to honor your parents for his kavod that obligated you to keep the Sabbath, and “all of them are obligated for my kavod“. That is to say that all Mitzvos are for one sake and that is because the Almighty has obligated us to perform them.

1וכן אמרו חז”ל בספרא פרשת אמור סוף פרק ט ז”ל המוציא אתכם מארץ מצרים על תנאי הותאתי אתכם מארץ על תנאי שתמסרו א”ע לקש את שמי להיות לכם לאלקים על כרחכם אני ה’ אני נאמן לשלם שכר עכ”ל. ע”ז אין מספקתי כלל שכלל חיות מיוחס לקדש שם שמים בתוך בני ישראל, וזה עיקר הדין בתוך ב”י לאו בחוץ כמו שכמה חשבינו, טעות הוא. אפשר גבי חילול חלילה כיון בתוך ב”י כתוב בסיפא הקרא אע”פ העיקר בתוך ב”י. איך יכול מקדש שם שמים בתוך ב”י ע”י מה שכתוב בפסוק קדמו ושמרתם מצותי ועשיתם אתם וכו’. לי באומר לי זהו גם ההיהמשך לעניני מועדים בפרק אחרונה שכתב הספרא לשון אני ה’ אליקיכם כלומר אני נאמן לשלם שכר, אפשר זהו שכרותים ע”י התו”מ אלה המועדים. אשר תרקאו ע”י הקבלת העבדות מתוך מצרים אע”פ שחז”ל דרשינן זהו קידוש החודש. הפשטות שאנחנו תקראו החגים, אפשר זהו ע”י הקבלותיהם בידי התורה הקודשה בידי העול התורה יומם ולילה.

2ע”ש חידושי רבי ראובן ע”מ סוכה גבי הילני המלכה ודיני חינוך. אין כל כך קושיא כיון דחינוך לאו על הקטן אלא על הגדול וקטן הוא החפצא המצות חנוך. אבל לעולם הקטן צריך מרגיל כדי לעשות כל דברים בדיוק. לשון תפילה שאמרינו השיבנו לתורתך וקרבינו מלכינו לעבודתך וחזרינו בתשובה שלימה לפניך עכ”ל צ”ל לשון לשניך וחזירונו באים כאחד. איך שייך לעשות תשובה מרחוקה אם נקי וטהור לגמרי? תשבות ראשון שאמרו בלשון רבים, אבל ותו הוא צריך עומד לפניך אע”פ הוא נקי מחטא ל”ד הוא עומד לפניך. כלומר מי הוא ברא מתחילה בלי חטא נמי אינו שלם במדות. הוא נקי אבל זהו אינו דומה לבעלי תשובה הוא נעשה חטא ואחר כך גבור על יצרו ומקיים רצון הבורא ולא יצרו, אלא נעשה כך הוא רצונו לעולם. וזהו הלפניך הוא עומד לפניך בתשובה למעלה מנקית חטא אלא נקי ותו קדוש ועומד מלא רוחניות. וכנ”ל פשוט.

3לשמור ולעשות – כתוב כמה פעמים ותנ”ך ותפילותינו אבל גבי פסוק בפרשת אמר פרק ט ז”ל ושמרתם זו משנה ועשיתם זו המעשה וכל שאינו במשנה אינו מעשה. ושמרתם את מצות ה’ ועשיתם אותם ליתן שמירה ועשי’ במצות, אני ה’ אני נאמן לשלם שכר עכ”ל. הגר”א באד”א שם כתב ד”א באמצעה משמע שהם שתי מהלכים של הפסוק. אפשר לומר חילוק זה בין אם ללמוד תורה פועל שינוים בעצם או ע”י הלימוד מזהיר אדם כדי לעשות המעשים כהגון, עיין לקמן גבי נקודה זה.

4כ”כ בכמה ברייתות שת”ת כנגד כולם. זהו פשוט, אלא צ”ל שאפילו המעשה בעצם לאו בידי מעשה אע”פ זהו חשוב מאד חלוקה התכלית הת”ת. עצם הלימוד וכן אמרו רש”י בפרושו בספר קהלת פ”א בפסוק ג’ ד”ה תחת השמש ז”ל תמורת התורה שהיא קרויה אור, שנאמר (משלי ו,כג) ותורה אור, כל עמל שהוא מחליף בו את עסק התורה מה שכר בו עכ”ל. וע”ז אמרו השפתי חכמים פשט שתמורת התורה זהו יתרון כיון העצם לימוד התורה חשוב מעשה משא”כ גבי שאר מעשים הם עמלות בעלמה והתכלית השכר משא”כ תורה שנים השכר העמלות והקנין תורה ממילה.

5אבות פ”ד מ”ה ז”ל רבי ישמעאל אומר: הלומר על מנת ללמד מספיקין בידו ללמד וללמד; והלומד על מנת לעשות מספיקין בידו ללמד וללמד, לשמור ולעשות. רבי צדוק אומר: אל תעשם עטרה להתגדל בהם, ולא קרדם לחפר בהם. וכך היה הלל אומר: ודאשתמש בתגא, חלף. הא למדת, כל הנהנה מדברי תורה נוטל חייו מן העולם עכ”ל. ופיוש רבינו יונה ח”ו הרישא נקיט גבי מעבירין על פשט אמיתת כיון אינו להבין בידי מעשהים אלא אם כן לא יורד לסוף אמת אלא אם לומר כדי מבין פשט אמיתת ממש. וכן מה שכתבי הלימוד בעצם זהו שייך בכלל ר’ ישמעאל אלא הדין “לימוד בידי מעשה” זהו דין גבי זהירות המעשים ע”י הלימודו לאו איירי גבי משנתינו כאן כיון אהא מעשה נקיט גבי מדרגת הלימודו. אבל לעולם נראין שאין מצוה אלא כולל כולהו. אם חד לומד ואינו מגיע מעשים אין כלום אלא כתוב הרמב”םבפ”ב מהלכות תשובה אע”פ אחד נעשה עבירות השכר לימוד יכול מעמד הוא אם הוא לעשות תשובה ולאו כל כך כמו מתחרט במ”ע חלילה. אלא צ”ב לקמן בקונטריסי שמו ובלכתך בדרך.

6אבות פ”ה מכ”א

7כתוב באד”א על ישעיה פרק א פסוק ב ד”ה בנים ע”ש בדיוק החידושים נפלאים בדבריו. וכן סדרתי מש”כ ע”י זה. זהו הג’ חקירה באות 3. ותו גבי בן אדם למקום חבירו ועצמו זהו רומז למעלה. שיש ימי עליה ימי עמידה וימי ירידה, אלה הן החמור, שור, ואדם. החמור רודף אחר התאוות ושור רוצה כבוד ואדם הוא ימי זקנה כאשר יש חכמה. וכן שמעתי מפי מרן הראש ישיבה רב אהרן פלדמן שליט”א שבימי זקנה הוא הימי ליצנות. כאשר יש ירידה הגשמויות ואין בו תאות כנערות ואין רוצה כבוד אינו אלא ליצנות וזהו הירידה כיון מיתה קרובה על פי טבע וזהו מקום ירידה ח”ו. ותו הערתיו שכל ג’ גבולים שייך בכל תקופות אע”פ הם עיקר בתקופותיהם. וכל ימים כאשר יש גידל יש גידל בירצו כנגד. כלומר הכח היצר גבי נער קטן מאד כלפי צדיק, אינו מיאש היצר אלא גדול אצלו. ותו גבי גשמיות כנראה שימי זקנה יש דמיון לימי ינוקה כאשר אין יכול עושה צרכיו ורך ופרק וכו’. זהו החילוק כאשר הוא רוב רוחניות הגוף מקושר עמו אבל בזקנה הגוף נמי קלקלה אבל הרוחניות אינו שינוי אלא יש נסיונות ככתבתי.

8The sin of the Etz HaDas shifted the world into an existence with the Truth and False mixed together. In this newly convoluted environment a concept of D’var Rishus or doing something for one’s own sake. This separation from living a Life of worship of the Almighty is the sole hardship that befell Man and his Free Choice. The choice is ours, to do for ourselves or to do for the Almighty.

9Not necessarily reaching perfection in its actuality rather reaching ones own personal semi-perfection. The greatest truth is that there is no perfection but the Almighty, and all are able to grow and improve without any limit.

10The Torah prohibits the sympathizing of those who are heretics from the principles of the Torah and one must not associate with them.

11It is without question an obligation on all people in an event that it may given in the proper fashion. This is discussed at length in Chofetz Chaim and should be approach with great preciseness. There is a maaseh from Reb Yisroel Salanter regarding the sefer Chofetz Chaim he claimed regarding the process of Teshuvah from L’shon Harah that the one who was spoken about was not aware may not be notified that such an event took place in order to ask mecillah for it. The reason is because you are not allowed to hurt another Yidd’s feelings for your Teshuvah. This is the same concept here that eventhough you are obligated to tell this person the right way to act you may not hurt them. One may ask, how can the Torah both obligate the mitzvah of Tochachah as well as Ahavta l’rayechah kamochah if you will always hurt the other. The truth is that the greatest ahavah for your fellow is by showing them in the right way of acting. Then why is it that we see how careful we must be when being mochiach our fellow? That is simply because we may have additional agendas in the middle of our words. The feeling of haughtiness as well as not saying with sincerity and kindness. Sadly there is also the person who is so far away who doesn’t even think that what you are saying it Emes and that is most common in our times. A persons first reaction to tochachah is usually denial, its the easiest thing to do. For more explanation on this look at the sifrei mussar or my little to say on the matter in Tochachah - you need to know.

12 past belief, meaning the reliance on the belief so strongly that it is fact

13 אנשים שמאמין בהי”ג עיקרים של הרמב”ם בפהמש”ר במסכת סנהנדרין פרק חלק

14.יבמות ו

iKiddush Hashem – Glorification of the sanctity of the Almighty.

iiOvday Hashem – Servants of the Almighty.

iiiMitzvos n. pl.- The 613 obligations that are commanded by the Almighty.

ivRabbaynu adj. – Our teacher.

vl’shmor v’laasosThe observance and following through with the actions of the Mitzvos.

viRuuchniusSpirituality; association with existence past a physical manifestation.

viiChinuch n. - Education

viiiChumash n. – Literally the Five Books of the Torah: Bereishis (Genesis), Shmos (Exodus), Vayikra (Leviticus), Bamidbar (Numbers), Devarim (Deuteronomy).

ixMishnayos n. pl. – The compiled and written Oral Law that had been handed down from the Almighty to Moshe Rabbaynu on Sinai that is the explanation and derivation of the written law the Tanach. (Mishnah sing.).

xHalachah – The law.

xiAvodas Hashem - The servitude of the Almighty.


Hashkafah, Mussar , ,

Boruch Elokaynu Shebaranu L’Chvodo

Posted by Rabbi Dovid Boruch Kopel
November 20, 2008 - כ"ג מרחשון ה' תשס"ט
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This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Chashivus HaAdam

We say everyday in our tefillos:

ברוך אלקינו שבראנו לכבודו והבדילנו מן התועים ונתן לנו תורת אמת וחיי עולם נטע בתוכינו. הוא יפתח לבנו בתורתו וישם בלבנו אהבתו ויראתו ולעשות רצונו ולעבדו בלבב שלם למען לא ניגע לריק ולא נלד לבהלה.

Since this is at the end of davenning it somehow gets caught being between Ashrai and Aleinu not given the proper attention it deserves. This is of course our fault not because of the order of the davenning. I don’t want to get too far off topic I would like to take this opportunity to turn our davenning up on notch.

Our tefillos were established in place of the Korban Tamid that was brought everyday as a protection to Klal Yisroel. Our tefillos were instituted in a way to allow us to represent ourselves in the sacrifices place. This is evident in our prayers, as they must be with complete devotion and must be performed in a certain way. The general concept of tefillah has many different parts to it but our tefillos are performed with three steps Shevach, Bekashah and, Hodah (Praise, Request, and Acknowledgement). This is as the great Chazal explain our entrance into the palace of the Almighty. First we walk in and prostrate ourselves to the greatness of Hashem[1] then we ask for all of our needs[2] then we acknowledge all the good that we have been given. It is this path of going up and back down that is also associated with the Karbonos. We don’t just give a sacrifice, you must go from chamber to chamber of the Beis HaMikdash going from one level to the next. The Siddur HaYavitz[3] writes in his explanation of the tefillos that the procession of our tefillos go from one level to the next starting with Brachos going to Psukai D’zimrah going to Yishtabach and so on. We are raising ourselves to levels of kedushah as we finally enter the Kodesh HaKudushim the Shemonah Esrai which is the actual tefillah. I have already gone off on a tangent and will explain this at another time I just want to conclude this point by saying that the end of the davenning is the procession as we leave the palace of the Almighty. Is it not prohibited to take large steps away from a Beis Kenesis[4]!? Then the way we leave our davenning also must be with care and kedushah.

Now that we can focus a little about the chashivus of our davenning from beginning until its conclusion maybe we can see the great lessons that we can learn from this. To give a loose translation of the test which is found after Ashrai at the end of Uva-L’tzion, Praised our Lord for he created us with honor and separated us from the wandering and gave us the Torah (in its written form) that has been instilled in our lives. He should opens our hearts with his Torah and puts on our hearts with his love and trepidation and to do the will of the Almighty wholeheartedly which is my we haven’t been affected by emptiness and out-poured into utter panic. This will be explained much clearer,but we have to start somewhere.

Boruch is very simply translated as “Praise” a similar word, however the Nefesh HaChaim points out that the Almighty doesn’t need our brachos in any way. If that is so, we come back to stage one why do we have brachos why do we have tefillah good, if this still bother you try looking here. We must say a brachah as a tool to praise the Almighty so he can give us a brachah (in that connotation it means the effect of the brachah as opposed to the words). This brachah is to acknowledge the greatness that we have been given called a Birchas Hodah. Unlike what we may think, the nature of the brachos are pure, the Shevach (Compliment) is unusual to us, as if a person is asking for something. So to a person will thank you for all you have done for them, right away we are wondering if there is something else I can do for this person as they have just reminded me of all the great deeds I have done to them. The tefillah is pure, it is the utmost praise and acknowledgement by not mixing them together. Therefore this brachah is not asking for continued salvation, rather it is the pure simcha of the realization of all that we have from Hashem.

What do we have? What is it that we are praising Hashem for day after day? That we were created for respect. Who’s respect? His respect. This is incredible we are praising Hashem for creating us little creatures of nothingness, we have no existence with him and what do we thank him for creating us to respect him!? This is so magnificent I cannot sit down while I write this, that all that we are here for is to provide the greatest kavod to  the Almighty! That is our essence and our goal in this world to provide Kavod Shaim Shemyaim. But why are we so happy about it!? Not only because of what it enables us to do in respect to the alternative lifestyle, rather because we were created with such a greatness that our lives are to provide kavod to the Almighty! We are the agents of the kavod of the Master of the Universe, he comes to us to spread his name around the world. How do we respond to this responsibility? With a brachah, a brachah for the source of our existence, that which gave purpose to our lives, that should make you feel like you are most special being in the world. Know, its true. This obligation makes us the reason for our existence and the reason for why there is an existence at all, to spread the kavod of Almighty.

The glorification of Hashem is both the foundation of our existence but also the reward. The difference between Torah V’Mitzvos more than anything is that by all other actions are motivated by its result. By Torah the action is the result! The spiritual growth that you go through in doing your holy duties are the most precious treasure that we have. This great reward is what gives us direction in our lives and separates us from all those who wander lost looking for some purpose in their lives. It is the nature of Man more than anything else to have a purpose and see its fruition. Whatever he finds to satisfy this seeking will be embrace with all his abilities. When he finds something more suitable or an expected difficulty he will suddenly drop everything and leap towards his newly discovered passion. It is the Torah that Hashem gave us והבדילנו מן התועים ונתן לנו תורה אמת חיי עולם נטע בתוכינו that has instilled our people for generations, nothing else. This is encapsulated by the statement of Rebbe Akiva[5] that a Jew without Torah is like a fish out of water, it cannot survive.

The last part of this tefillah is by asking for aid in our observance of Torah. Please open our hearts to the Torah, both through ahavah and yirah. Then we will be able to serve Hashem completely. The words בלבב שלם literally means with a full heart, however the double beis has an added meaning. Chazal tell us in the pasuk in Krias Shema when we say ואהבת את ה’ אלקיך בכל לבבך וכו’ the double beis is coming to tell us that even with your Yetzer HaRa. This means that your tendency towards evil is present even in your worship is a tremendous leap. to change It is understood that every letter in our tefillos is with great depth and not only asking for our hearts to be opened toward doing Avodas Hashem, but even our Evil Inclination should! Meaning to say that is not limited to just our long term observance but even the short term. Though there its seems there may be different approaches to this matter, it seems that the great Alter of Slabodka was of the opinion that until the coming of the next era with Meshiach Tzidkaynu we cannot completely rid ourselves of the Yetzer HaRa. The internal war of good and evil though present and active is much more controlled and maintained. With that understanding I would like to suggest that we are not simply asking for the destruction of such an evil, rather that even it should be influence by Torah. This does not seem to be a simple concept, or one that I fully grasp. Regardless, I think that it is the mature Yetzer HaRa not to just to do against the Torah but to do its will for other reasons. This concept is known as Lo L’shmah or not for its calling. This is a innyin in itself that is out of the scope of this, but I believe it is the explanation of this tefillah. That is, we ask Hashem to please have the Torah open the depths of our heart. For what reason? If not we will be left with emptiness and panic, much of what we see today. The person who does not seek a life of Torah is left with a searching with no purpose and full of constant fear of all. It is the Torah, and it alone that may guide those who take its path to a life full of sanity and reason. Even to the extent that your internal conflicts are striving for great measures even though they are rooted by poor reasoning. It is much easier to do something for the wrong reason than to not do something for the right reason. It is that concept that sets a Torah life, to do the right actions even when its not done for the best of reasons. With the goal that through your continued Avodas Hashem you will be able to do things entirely in line with the Torah. It is this tefillah that was say everyday, with hope that our realization of how special we are. How we are created with a purpose that no one else can fill. How it is through this journey we take with the Torah guiding our way that separates us from all who ignore it. With that B’azer Hashem Yisborach we should all be zocheh to take steps forward with all of Klal Yisroel. Only following your path, and no one Else’s. To do all of it for the only valid reason of a true Eved Hashem. This is what makes up our lives, and this is what makes us have a Life. That realization alone can be a shield on our lives and bring Meshiach who is so close straight ahead in the path that we follow.

  1. I’ll have to explain this some other time []
  2. This also needs explanation []
  3. A great Kabbilist []
  4. It is, says the gemara in Berachos 6b []
  5. Brachos 61b []

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