Author Archives: Orit Esther Riter

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Pray to Pray

June 20, 2018
Orit Esther Riter

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BS’D

How many times have you tried to pray yet not a single word comes forth clearly? Our minds wander off in a distance. Rebbe Nachman ztk’l teaches that Hashem created this situation down to the last detail in order that we reach deeper into our inner point of truth.

The barriers of the mind may come in different shapes and forms- confusion, airy-headedness or even despair. Yet, the hindrances can turn into openings when we see that these blockages are put there by Hashem to bring us closer to Him.

If we thought for a moment that we could control our thoughts, Hashem shows us we cannot; our mind is a jungle.  We need to pray to Hashem that we can pray to Him (I wrote this sentence correctly).

The most powerful mode of communication is prayer yet it is given to us as a gift. We may have thought that we have the ability to overcome mindless chatter; however, we cannot do so without the help of Hashem.

When we see this truth of how much we need Hashem to assist us in ‘talking to Him’, we will have achieved one of the main purposes why we pray in the first place!

Choose Differently

June 19, 2018
Orit Esther Riter

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Rebbe Nachman ztk’l writes in ‘Mayim’ that no matter what compels a person to act in a certain way, we each have the free will to overcome the challenges and respond differently.

With that, we should change the way we view the world around us. Many times when we meet dissatisfaction, we blame others and are unwilling to own up to our part; we see ourselves a ‘victim of circumstance’.  However, Rebbe Nachman firmly taught it all comes down to a person’s ratzon, as one desires to change so can she.

We may choose to see life differently now and greet whatever comes our way as a springboard to reach higher heights. When one desires to become the best athlete, they go to the coach that can get ‘the best out of him’.

Hashem is our coach and training us to be the best that we can be. It is our choice to see life in this light and respond through this viewpoint.

Why & How

June 18, 2018
Orit Esther Riter

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I recently read an article from Rabbi Sacks in which he quoted Nietzsche (a German philosopher) “One who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”; in other words when one losses emuna in Hashem, one’s purpose in life begins to die. The ‘why’ in life is in order form a close-knit relationship with Hashem and reveal the G-dliness that lies within each of us.

Living a Jewish life points to living a meaningful life where we believe we are loved, cared and cherished by Hashem. In fact, this is the only reason why the Jewish people have been able to survive such horrific circumstances thus far; our emuna is our strength!

There is meaning and purpose in everything even if we cannot understand or feel it. As Rabbi Sacks writes, “Find it and your ‘why’ will carry you through almost any ‘how’.

The Power of Clarity – Part II

June 13, 2018
Orit Esther Riter
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(Cont’d from yesterday)

Painful experiences are a result of dinim (judgments). When we suffer, a few things may occur simultaneously. Firstly, our da’at (mental and emotional state) may travel further into exile. Our mind and heart may not accept the concept of ‘Gam zu l’tova (this is also for the best)’. We may be thrown into a state in which we cannot see the bigger picture or the purpose of the hardship.

As a result, we may be left feeling lost, confused and distant from Hashem. We may even sense that we are insignificant and unloved which may make us feel despairing. In this unhappy state it is difficult to give or accept love to ourselves, to others and to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.

Chazal brings an amazing insight as to how to sweeten the judgments and lessen our pain. We must go to the root of our pain and view it through our da’at. That is, we must look at the event again and rationally conclude in our minds that it is somehow and in some way for the best. Then, we must gradually allow our emotions (our heart) to digest this rationale.

In other words, we must ultimately view the event through emuna lenses. Higher consciousness helps us deal with the pain since we now associate it with a rational purpose from a more objective and expansive viewpoint. We no longer feel that we are subjects of happen chance. Through this renewed level of understanding, the dinim can slowly change from bitterness to sweetness.

The Power of Clarity – Part I

June 12, 2018
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

How joyful we should feel when contemplating that Hashem chose us of all nations; the inherent value we hold is greater than we can imagine. At moments of darkness and difficulty, we may not come to appreciate what this means however Hashem called His Torah a valued treasure since it offers us a remarkable opportunity to connect to Him.

Da’at is mental and emotional clarity, which generally develops with maturity. Thus, the pain sets in before we develop the necessary tools to maturely and rationally process and deal with the hardship.

Children are often not able to absorb and process their pain as easily as mature adults. Most young children (and adults who have not achieved da’at) do not know how to react to such pain and may either repress their feelings or inappropriately lash out.

Suppressed feelings may thus emerge at various points in their lives. They may become more aware of the agony inside, but not necessarily where it is coming from or why they are suffering.

During the course of our lives, we all traverse paths of darkness (where we feel alone or treated unfairly by others and Hashem, chas v’Shalom. We eventually grow stronger from those experiences. Every descent is followed by an ascent. (to be cont’d tomorrow)

Praying with Emotion

June 11, 2018
Orit Esther Riter

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Rabbi Yoseph Soloeveitchik of the Brisker dynasty ztk’l taught that tefillah is the method in which the soul expresses itself through words and is able to release the turmoil within.    How do we pray?  Out of rote because this is what we were taught we must do or with powerful sincerity filled with emotional outburst?  For most, it varies each day.

The challenge is to allow ourselves to get in touch and let go of those emotions. Many of us though subconsciously wish not to acknowledge them.  It is only in times of great difficulty or by contrast immense joy where we can no longer contain them, that we  find Hashem and wish to speak to Him.  Then why are we ‘instructed’ to pray when the feelings are not connected to the lofty essence of tefillah?

Simply speaking, Rav Soloveitchik writes, it is because every day we must view ourselves in the midst of a crisis, c”v.  Every moment we should see ourselves and the world around us in desperate need of the redemption to take place.  If we take notice of the tefillot in the siddur we will find that at times the words express feelings of elated joy and gratitude and yet at other times we profess humbleness and shame and beseech rachamei Shamayim.

The reason is so that we can see Hashem in all our path of emotions; those we encounter in our daily routine and the stormy feelings that arise from the soul.  The spectrum of feelings all lead us to one address; it is all from Hashem and we cannot do anything without His loving care and intervention.  We are forced to acknowledge the emotions, feelings of dependency and vulnerability to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and cast them to His care.

Tefillah is an amazing method that Chazal have devised to ensure the crumbling of the ego and the humbling of the soul.

 

Was, Is & Will Always Be

June 6, 2018
Orit Esther Riter

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Suffering is more unbearable when it feels meaningless or accidental. Viewing suffering in this way may make us feel alone, isolated or unfairly treated. However, when we toil and begin peeling away the layers of emotional pain, we are able to reach our core being and the point of truth connecting us to Borei Olam.

This awareness elevates us to a new dimension – a higher consciousness and understanding of the hand of G-d and Divine Providence behind everything that happened to us in the past. There bitterness can slowly change to sweetness. From weakness we are gradually strengthened.

This increased awareness of Hashem’s presence and love represents our coming out of the darkness of exile (galut hada’at). Finally, we realize we were never alone or abandoned. HaKadosh Baruch Hu was, is and will always be with us. However, it is only now, after we endure this often slow and painful therapeutic process that we are able to accept this truth intellectually and subsequently feel His Presence in our hearts.

Seven Qualities

June 5, 2018
Orit Esther Riter

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We are all searching for menuchat hanefesh, an inner state of tranquility and composure; a reassuring sense that everything is all right.

Rabbeinu Bachya ztk’l author of the well-known sefer Chovot Halevavot writes in the Gate of Trust that in order for us to fully trust in someone else and live with such genuine trust that we are being taken care of, he would have to embrace all of the following seven qualities; otherwise  we would not be enable to be completely tranquil:

* That person must love us and have great compassion for us.

* That person must know everything there is to know about us and what we need.

* That person must be powerful enough to help us.

* That person must know how to help us; the correct and best way.

* That person must be present and available at all times.

* That person must have such power that nobody else can harm us unless they allow it.

* That person must be absolutely generous towards us and want only what is best for us.

Certainly, all of these qualities cannot be found in any human being. They are only found in Hashem. He loves us and has compassion for us. He is all-knowing of what we need.  He is all-powerful and knows just how to help.

Therefore He is the only one who can benefit us and will not cause us any harm.  He is always watching over us and there is never a time where His ‘watching eye’ is not hovering over us.  He is in complete control over the world  and therefore no one can cause us any harm.  Last but not least He is absolutely generous and wants only what is for our best.

What’s the purpose?

June 4, 2018
Orit Esther Riter

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Rav Pinchas of Koritz ztk’l one of the Ba’al Shem Tov’s students asks the question, “What’s the purpose of a momentary stirring of the Jewish heart to do better when in fact it is short-lived and they return back to their ‘old’ ways?”

His answer comes in the form of the following parable: Imagine a king’s son was kidnapped and held hostage; visualize the pain of the king yearning to see his son. He understands that his son’s release might be impossible yet the thought of seeing him for just a few moments a day warms his heart and serves as a ‘band aid’ over his aching heart. This in spite of the pain that his son would have to return to captivity after those few moments.

The lesson is clear; even if the pathway to teshuva appears as though it is ‘2 steps forward and 1 step back’ and complete teshuvah is unrealistic to achieve at this time, the stirring of the Jewish heart is ‘desired’ on high by Hashem even if for a few moments and that person returns to their previous spiritual fall afterwards.

Believe it: Hashem loves you!

May 29, 2018
Orit Esther Riter
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Most people don’t believe that Hashem loves or even likes them. How is it that we don’t see the beauty, love and care gifted to us by Hashem? Unfortunately human nature is such that recognition of Hashem’s compassion and attentive care comes when difficulty arises. Suddenly that place of goodness shifts to a place of pain. The fact that we distinguish between the two states demonstrates that hardships are out of the ‘ordinary’ agenda of life.

We must strive to cherish ourselves as much as Hashem treasures us. For some reason we do not feel worthy of Hashem’s love and blessings. When we daven we do not actually expect Hashem to fulfill our wishes. Our tefillot are intermingled with doubts of whether we merit the yeshua (salvation).

Therefore the next time we daven it should be with a firm stance that the Borei Olam loves and listens to every tefilla even if it seems otherwise. Hashem fulfills our wishes as He determines best in line with His infinite wisdom and His plan for creation. However, He directs and guides every facet, down to the microscopic detail with tender compassion and infinite love. He sees the bigger picture; past, present and future and knows what yields the most favorite results for us.

If we do not love ourselves, how can we feel love of our Creator or anyone else for that matter? If we do not cherish and value our lives we as though insult Hashem by proclaiming that He as if made a mistake when He created us. Think about it and let the change begin within.

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