Author Archives: Orit Esther Riter

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Stand by your fellow man

June 27, 2018
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

The 17th of Tammuz is a day of great tragedy for the Jewish people. On that day, Moshe broke the Ten Commandments. Rashi explains that the tablets were made of special sapphire stones, large in size and too heavy for any human to carry, but the Divine light that radiated from the etched Hebrew letters helped ease the burden of carryng such large stones, making them miraculously lighter. However when the letters “witnessed” the sin of the golden calf  they “flew off” the tablets returning them to their original weight ultimately causing Moshe to drop them.

Another explanation may be that Moshe broke them in order to discourage G-d from implementing His plan to annihilate the Jewish people for their sin and encourage Moshe to lead a new chosen nation. By breaking the tablets, Moshe was saying to G-d that he was a sinner along with the Jewish people and their demise was his as well.

Through this Moshe saved the Jewish nation even though their emuna was weak and their loyalty to G-d was questionable. Although Moshe had no way of knowing that G-d would later agree to provide a second set of tablets he understood his responsibility as the Jewish people’s leader; stand by your fellow man.

May we all merit to have the emuna and wisdom that Moshe showed on that day and save our nation from tragedies in this merit, Amen.

Breaking down the Walls

June 26, 2018
Orit Esther Riter
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The walls of Jerusalem were breached on the 17th of Tammuz which led to a series of horrific events. One of which was that the Kohanim were unable to continue to bring the offering “Tamid” due to the shortage of sheep. Another that the Roman general Apostomos burned a Torah scroll setting a precedent of burning more Jewish books for centuries to come. In addition, an idolatrous image was placed in the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple. All of this led to the ultimate destruction of the Second Temple three weeks later on the 9th of Av.  It is brought down by our wise Sages, that for every year the Third Temple isn’t rebuilt it is as if the Temple was destroyed during that generation.

The Temple is described as the meeting place of Heaven on earth; literally a place where every human being could walk into and just ‘know’ with every fiber of their being that there is no other existence but G-d.  In current times we need to break down many of the walls that separate us from G-d and look through the cracks of the broken concrete to find a glimmer of His presence. How much we have lost and how much we need to yearn and pray for the Heavenly chambers to be rebuilt here on earth once again. We must break down the borders that separate one Jew from another and reside in the same place in one another’s heart.

May we all merit to utilize the 17th of Tammuz to do a personal and thorough soul seach and pray with all of our hearts that G-d redeem us speedily and with abundant mercy.

It’s Hot.. It’s Tammuz

June 25, 2018
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

Tammuz is the fourth of the summer months that begins with Nissan; the hottest month of the year.

The material world has its spiritual origin in the supreme worlds, hence the intense heat of the month of Tammuz is indicative of a spiritual state as well. It is written in Tehillim “For Hashem is a sun and a shield.” The name “L-rd” (Y-K-V-H symbolic to Hashem’s revealed compassion) is parallel to the sun and the name “G-d” (E-L-O-K-I-M symbolic for Hashem’s intervention through nature), is parallel to the shield – the closure of the sun, which protects us from its great heat.

The great heat of Tammuz derives from the strong illumination of Divine Presence in creation, expressed in the name “L-rd” (Y-K-V-H). Hashem shines His love more in this month than other months. During this month we should actually begin to appreciate the reason why Hashem filterizes His intense light and love so that we do not become ‘overheated’ by it.

The sun’s warmth can be the most pleasurable experience within measure; all things in life are appreciated when given through proper filters. Hashem loves us more than we can imagine or bear to contain.  However, this warm love needs to ‘drip drop’ into our lives in a way that we can appreciate, by working towards revealing our own warmth and G-dliness; thus enabling us to merge into the Oneness of Hashem’s intense love.

Pray to Pray

June 20, 2018
Orit Esther Riter

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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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BS’D

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.

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