Author Archives: Orit Esther Riter

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Roses or Thorns?

June 27, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

Ba’erev Yaleen Bechi, vla’boker rina…. (In the evening one lies down weeping, but with dawn – a cry of ecstasy {delight})” ~ Tehillim 30:6.

Our lives are likened to a roller-coaster ride; up, down and all around. When we are up, in a positive mindset, we are able to accept even the bitter moments with more ease, patience and calmness. You simply accept.

The opposite is true as well. When we feel down we smell the roses but are troubled by the thorns. It puts a damper on our ability to enjoy their fragrance and may even stop us from taking one more ‘whiff’ of their blossoming scent. Therefore, we must always strive to submerge ourselves with optimism. When we think rosy… all is rosy; even if the thorns stand in our way.

When Dovid HaMelech ztk’l describes our evenings filled with tears, he is suggesting the negative times when we are in despair. “But with dawn” points to the times of a positive outlook, the moments when we can see beyond the horizon, see everything in a confident light and this moves us to cry tears of joy.

The lesson to take home: no matter what, we should force ourselves to focus on the roses in every situation and literally fight to stay in a positive thinking mode; with emuna in Hashem, this is doable. The impact of our mindset is more powerful than we can imagine.

It shines light on the saying, “Life is all about perception; not about circumstances.”

Unnatural means

June 26, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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There is a remarkable parable that illustrates the importance of trusting only in Hashem and none other.

There once was a man who became fatally ill. The doctors lost all hope yet the man sent for his Rav to advise him of a cure. The Rav advised that he take seven chickens and boil them for seven days to the point where it condenses the liquid to fit into a spoon.

As he poured the liquid into the spoon and was about to drink, a spider fell into it rendering it unfit to drink. His family was horror-struck and anticipated his death to come shortly after. Yet, he began to recover and in a few weeks was completely healed.

When he was asked how he recovered his reply was, “When I realized that I couldn’t drink the liquid and that all means of healing were taken from me, I turned to Hashem and cried from the depths of my heart to send me a complete healing. It is the true Healer Who healed me.” When we remove all faith placed with people, cures and solutions to ease our difficulties and in its place rely purely and simply on Hashem Yitborach, we merit His goodness.

Elevated emuna translates into action; our thoughts, speech and actions are profoundly affected by our emuna. Bitachon is the bridge between that which we know and that which we feel and eventually impacts that which we do. When we remove all faith in ‘natural means’ we essentially unclog the pipeline of Divine goodness and enable it to flow freely into our lives.

Uninspired

June 21, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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BS’D

How do we awaken enthusiasm in our avodat Hashem? It is common to be drawn down by routine. How do we remain inspired? Connected? Chazal offers some practical insights.

Though our hearts may not be fully enthused to do a mitzvah, as the Nike commercial goes, ‘Just do it!!’ We learn this trait from Avraham Avinu ztk’l when he rose early in the morning to perform Hashem’s command. When the opportunity rises to be involved in performing a mitzvah, see it as an invitation from Hashem, a one-time call just for you! Just do it!

Beware of the negative trait of laziness. Rav Luzzatto ztk’l in his famous book ‘Path of the Just’ teaches that mankind is controlled by the force of gravity, pulling him down into a state of heaviness. It is ‘natural’ to feel ‘heavy’ and ‘weighed down’; it is beyond our control. However we aren’t to surrender to our natural tendencies but to battle and refine them.

The voice of the evil inclination shouts “What! Again you’re doing a mitzvah?!” He attempts to rob the zest and joy out of our good deeds. He continues to invade our mind by telling us, “You’re tired, why bother? It makes no difference.” Remain oblivious to this scheming tactic of the yetzer hara. Pull yourself up and get moving.

Lastly, Chazal teach we are allotted a quota of energy in our lives. When we over-extend our strength towards the pursuit of comforts and worldly pleasures, we deplete ourselves from the vitality needed to invest in our spiritual pursuits. Let’s use our energy wisely

A Change of Perspective

June 20, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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BS’D

One day the old water carrier passed by the study hall with his pails. Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov ztk’l (“Master of the Good Name”) often stood outside the front door and talked with his disciples. Whenever he saw the water carrier, he interrupted their conversation and would ask him, “Berel, my good man, how are you doing today?” The water carrier would usually offer a polite response, “Baruch Hashem, thank G‑d!” and continue on his way.

But one day the water carrier had a look of melancholy in his face. “Rebbe, it’s nice of you to ask a poor man, but how should I feel? Not good! No! Day in and day out I carry these heavy pails. My back hurts, I am getting older, you know . . . My boots are in tatters, but I have no money for new ones. My family is large. The burden is too much. My children need food, shoes and clothes, and . . . ach, it’s too much to even begin talking about . . . And those new houses at the end of the town want more and more water, and they are built up on the slope of the hill, and the water is so heavy, and I am so tired, so very tired . . .” And with a sigh he picked up his pails and walked away dragging his feet, with a twisted back and bent shoulders. He did not look back. The Baal Shem Tov said nothing.

A few days later the Baal Shem Tov again stood in front of the synagogue with his students when the water carrier passed by. “Berel, good to see you, how are you today?” The water carrier stood still. He beamed. “Baruch Hashem, Rebbe, I am doing fine. I have work, so I earn money to feed my family. I am blessed, because I have a large family, so many sweet children … I am happy that I can buy them food to eat and pay their teachers. And those new houses they recently built at the hill need a lot of water, that’s extra income for me. Baruch Hashem! Thank you for asking a simple man how he is doing. Baruch Hashem, G‑d is good to me!”

The Baal Shem Tov smiled and blessed him with some encouraging words. The water carrier lifted his heavy buckets and went joyfully on his way, and the water in his pails reflected the light of the sun.

The Baal Shem Tov’s disciples were puzzled. Why was the old water carrier so much happier all of a sudden, with his same pair of tattered boots and his same old pails of water?

The Master of the Good Name looked at his disciples and knew what they were thinking. “Did you hear what Berel just said?” he asked them. “He said Baruch Hashem, thank G‑d, because he knows that all blessings and everything else comes from G‑d. A few days ago he did not seem to remember that, he did not thank G‑d for his lot, so he was depressed. Even when things are difficult, there is always so much to be thankful for, so you praise and thank G‑d. You acknowledge that all you receive is from G‑d, and you feel better. Berel’s pails are as heavy today as they were a few days ago, and he is still poor, but his perspective has changed. Now he sees what is important and what is not, and he is very aware of the One who provides him with everything he has. As a result, he is happy and content.”

No Expectations

June 19, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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BS’D

Gratitude frees a person from the constant drive for more; it instills a sense of ‘Wow, I have so much’. The soul enjoys the tranquility and basks in the inner satisfaction of having all it needs.

Living in the present encourages us to have gratitude; we are never certain what the next moment brings. Life is an unfolding process that reveals itself piece by piece; therefore who can say what is beneficial or harmful if we aren’t shown the complete picture?  We only have now – and for that we must be thankful.

We should attempt to understand the hidden parts of our lives however often we simply cannot. After the sin of Adam HaRishon everything in life became an admixture of good and bitter; there is good and bitter found in every hardship.  Time and again we generally experience the good in due time after it appeared to be the worst and most trying.

Indeed, acquiring an inner attitude of thankfulness is a challenge; yet the benefits are far reaching. It affects our interaction with others – we become more kind and compassionate, willing to overlook the ‘little things’.  Ordinary acts become reasons to celebrate and express appreciation.

There is a well-known axiom, “No expectations – No disappointments.”  Your washing machine worked yesterday – why think it’ll work today when you turn it on?  Appreciate the little details: ice cold water on a hot summer day, a warm latte’ on a cold morning. Your car started yesterday? Why assume it will today?  Sink into your couch after a long day and be thankful for its embrace. The list goes on…

Being thankful releases us from resentment towards anyone or anything and as a result we are covered in a blanket of peace within and without. Gratitude is the foundation on which meaningful relationships are built; namely the one we have with Hashem, ourselves and others.

Just a Little Light

June 14, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

The core work of the soul is to develop her ratzon (desire to attach to her spiritual source).  The fiery desire of the soul is described as a burning flame lifting herself up and seeking to bond with her eternal root. While doing so she touches other souls and ignites them without detracting from herself.

Indeed the main work of the soul is to shine light onto shadows and penetrate darkness. For that she needs tremendous power; the driving force being her ratzon (her inner desire & longing) to illuminate. Without the existence of darkness light would go unnoticed and unappreciated.

Since she originates from the higher realms she is awarded with the ability to fight her way through all sorts of blackness. Through holding tight to Hashem, the giver of light, no matter what challenges come her way, she is fed boundless light. What keeps her grip tight?  Her ratzon to light up and spread goodness onto others.

The soul is named a candle since this is her essential nature; to fortify her desire each day anew, no matter how difficult it is. The stronger her will the greater the light she is given and stronger her impact on dispelling darkness.

Shower of Blessings

June 13, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
one comments

BS’D

How do we increase the potency of the blessings we give to others? It is more than muttering words, it is about reaching deep within and mustering up all the care and compassion that dwells inside and sharing it with another. It is a prayer. We pray that the other sees and experiences only good.

Blessing someone is an act of genuine chesed since we are ‘sharing’ our kindness with another.  In addition, we heighten our level of sensitivity to them and thus are able to practice the mitzvah of ‘ve’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha (loving thy neighbor as we love ourselves)’ in a more heartfelt way.

In order to uplift the blessings that we give let us take a closer look into the Hebrew word for blessing, bracha. Bracha shares the same root letters as the Hebrew word for pool, breicha.  This implies that when we give a blessing we essentially draw from this reservoir of Divine abundance and act as a channel for it to spill forth onto others. Essentially we become the pipeline through which Hashem showers His goodness onto others in this world.

Next time you want to shower Hashem’s love and light remember to bless them with good thoughts and words; you serve as a ray of G-dliness onto others. We carry a spark of holiness that can literally change another person’s life simply by digging deep and accessing that light.

Keep that in mind. Bring down the blessings for others.  We all need them!

The Road to Happiness

June 12, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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BS’D

Talking positively makes a profound impact in this world and in the spiritual realm; unfortunately this applies to the effect of negativity as well. Our thoughts may appear to have little effect if any, after all, who knows what I am thinking about. Yet there is spiritual influence that occurs as a result of our thoughts. Uplifting thoughts mobilize positive influence that can actually materialize; the same is true of broken thoughts.

When our minds are filled with emuna it becomes the catalyst for Hashem to shower Divine assistance. Relying on Hashem brings blessing onto our efforts and gives us strength to face challenges.

Cheerful thoughts, speech and actions spreads joy up, down, right, left and all around – to ourselves and everyone around us. Optimism crushes the barriers in this world measure for measure; just as a person faced with difficulty goes beyond her natural tendencies so too may Hashem ‘break down’ the blockages and actualize that which we are hopeful for.

Being b’simcha in essence ‘causes’ the upper realms to follow suit as it brings Hashem endless simcha. The positive outlook and happy disposition we think, speak and act upon has a remarkable impact on high and awakens great fortune worlds away for others; a sign of how we truly are areivim zeh la zeh (responsible for one another).

Intertwine

June 7, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

We search long and hard for the pathway towards Shalom; inner wholesomeness filled with love and acceptance. Yet Shalom implies peace within oneself and among the Jewish people. Within each of us lives inner conflicts as we yearn for inner harmony. The uniting factor is to find Hashem in everything.

In order to love another we must love ourselves. The Ba’al Shem Tov HaKadosh teaches that love of the Jewish people is identical to the love of Hashem. Being that we all carry a part of Hashem we are an extension of G-dliness and should love that part in another unconditionally.

We continuously seek to sustain our soul with love, understanding, acceptance, sympathy and other forms of positive validation. Yet when we run low and those around us cannot provide us with it we should ‘bypass’ (literally do spiritual bypass surgery) and run to Hashem for nourishment.

Love is a gift through which we bind one to another. We were taught the beautiful lesson of love when our soul lived on high. We witnessed how fire and water and other opposing forces lived in peace to sanctify Hashem’s name through complete self-sacrifice.

Jewish souls are intertwined with one another; in each soul there a component of every other soul. Therefore we are commanded to love one another to the fullest extent; the power of brotherly then multiplies and creates a world of love.

Glow of Love

June 6, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

Every day we recite in our tefillot: “Blessed are You Hashem who chose His nation Israel with love…” and “You love us with an eternal love…” Hashem loves us unconditionally.

The Torah also commands us: “And you shall love Hashem your G-d.” When the Torah makes a commandment pertaining to our actions, we can do our utmost to fulfill them, but how can the Torah command us about our emotions? Love cannot be forced.

The Chassidic masters explain that an immense love of Hashem is embedded in every Jewish heart; we must simply open this channel of love. The mitzvah to love Hashem obligates us to cleanse our hearts and reveal what is hidden under many layers of ego, negativity, and transgressions. We are not forced to love Hashem; but uncover the love that already exists.

Every Jewish heart holds a G-dly spark; a luminous glow of holiness. The yetzer hara tries to destroy it but cannot. He therefore tries a different tactic – to cover it until no one sees or feels their bond to G-dliness buried underneath.

This is the meaning of the verse: “And it will be because you will listen… and I will love you.” The verse is telling us that we will feel Hashem’s love! Although His love for us is always present, it is not always felt. If we will keep the Torah, thereby removing the cover off our hearts, we will actually feel Hashem’s deep love for each and every person.

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