Break Down the Barriers

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Break Down the Barriers

September 28, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

As we remove the negative traits we make room for Hashem’s love to enter and our desire to bond to Him increases.  The reason being self-discipline is the tool which breaks the yetzer hara and breaks down the barriers that block Hashem’s presence.

The call of the teruah is not only the call of Hashem to us but also our call to Hashem.  The tekiah is a long unbroken blast, the shevarim are three blows and the teruah is nine blasts.  The tekiah represents a sigh of love, the shevarim symbolizes a sort of groan that comes before the tears and the teruah is similar to uncontrollable sobbing.

The teruah is seen as a fusion of love and awe which brings Klal Yisrael to sigh over the lack of revealed Kingship in this world.

The shevarim are felt in the form of Hashem great fiery love for us to which we let out groans and tears.

The teruah injects us with Hashem’s great love which causes us to love Hashem even more leading to a greater love between us.

The powerful sounds of the Shofar should fill us with awe mixed with great longing to return to Gan Eden where we felt Hashem’s closeness and love and never doubted His continuous presence.

Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Rav Yaakov ben Chaya Fradl Esther.  May Hashem bless him with a complete healing b’riut hanefesh v’b’iut haguf among all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen.

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The Shofar from a Different Angle

September 27, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

There is a special feeling during the month of Elul and subsequent ten days of repentance. This atmosphere makes it easier for us to awaken the inner longing for attachment to Hashem. We should strive to feel “There is only You Hashem in this world.” This love is in concealment at this time, but it still exists.

The sounds of the shofar allude to love. This sound is meant to cause us to call out to Hashem and not chas v’Shalom to bring judgment on us. In fact the teruah expresses joy as it is closely related to the word hari’u, to shout for joy. The mystical books teach that although the sound of the Shofar reminisces a lament it causes Ahm Yisrael to draw Hashem’s love to them. Joy can also be released by shedding tears.

Rosh Hashanah is the only holiday which the moon is hidden. This hints to the idea that Hashem’s love is constricted. In spite of that our love for Hashem burns strong in our heart. In fact due to the experience of Hashem’s awe we become more aware of His presence.

The essence of Rosh Hashanah is not judgment but to awaken our desire to bond to Hashem. This can be learned by seeing the word teruah as related to the word reut, friendship and bonding. Through hearing the Shofar we merit uniting with Hashem in the most profound way.

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4 Elements of Judgment

September 26, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

Judgment is perceived in a negative form; however there are great benefits to it.  The Malbim ztk’l brings down that when Klal Yisrael does teshuva in recognition of the possibility of harsh decrees; Hashem annuls the difficulties.

There are countless other benefits to why there is judgement:

  • Judgment was given to Klal Yisrael out of love. Judgment filters falsehood from our midst and enables us to properly do cheshbon hanefesh. As a result we can come closer to our truth; Hashem’s monogram.
  • Judgment enables us to more readily accept Hashem’s decrees. When we fail to properly asses our spiritual standing we are not conscious of our faults.  There we run the risk of feeling we were treated unfairly and unjustly.
  • Self-judgment: when a person judges herself in this world, the higher court does not judge her. Each transgression is judged and ruled upon once. For certain, our ruling will be softer than the heavenly tribune.
  • The Alter of Kelm ztk’l explains that our tefillot of Rosh Hashanah begin with the words “Avinu Malkeinu” – first Avinu Our Father and then Malkeinu Our King. We see Hashem as a warm loving Father yet are also accountable for our wrongdoings.  Judgment takes place by a Father who ‘desires’ the best for His children.

Judgment may be uncomfortable, but it comes from a place of Infinite love.  The message of judgment, “I care enough about you to look deeply into your lives and see where you are holding.”

Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Esther Hadassah bat Chana. May Hashem bless her with a complete healing b’riut hanefesh v’b’iut haguf among all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen.

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Teshuva & Elul ~ Part III

September 21, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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We may begin this month of Elul with our backs turned away from Hashem, wondering whether Hashem has ‘turned His back’ on us as well. Yet, if we turn around, we will see that Hashem is still facing us, with endless compassion, patience and grace.

Healthy relationships are built on unconditional giving, treating others’ needs as equivalent to our own. Unfortunately, our yetzer hara often puts the ‘me’ in front of the ‘you’, leading us to become frustrated or disappointed in life and how we are treated. Elul is the month to minimize our egos, this part of us that likes to ‘play G-d.’ Instead, we can strive to place Hashem’s needs before our own.

Hashem created teshuva before He created existence. He knows we are not perfect and that we need a method to ‘return’ to Him. The Zohar teaches that there are 3 powerful tefillot (all in Tehillim): tefilla l’Dovid, tefilla ;l’Moshe and tefilla l’Ani. Yet, even more exalted than the tefillah of Dovid HaMelech or Moshe Rabbeinu are the prayers of the “ish ani”, the downtrodden and broken-hearted man. Hashem considers a person who prays heartfelt words of desire to come back to Him and repair the damage he caused via his transgressions as the most beloved of all!

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Teshuva & Elul – Part 2

September 20, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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Despite the daunting nature of facing our sins and the spiritual work we may need to do during the days of Elul, embedded in this month is also a remarkable opportunity for closeness to Hashem. The energy of this month is represented by the words “Ani l’Dodi v’Dodi li” (I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is for me).

But why don’t we always feel and intense love and closeness to Hashem? Hashem is always yearning to be close to us. It is only our sins that block us from this closeness. During the year our egos blocks our hearts or souls and therefore we struggle to feel Hashem’s love for us and our love for Him. However, in Elul when we manage to confront our sins and admit our mistakes, we are humbling our egos and admitting “We need You Hashem in our lives. We can’t live without You anymore!” This ego-busting, humbling process of repentance serves as the most powerful force to clear the block between our hearts and Hashem.

Rav Kook ztk’l teaches that there is a flow of life force that emanates from the soul’s longing to purify the world. Our souls desire to do teshuva even while we transgress, since our soul knows the truth that constantly cleaving and connecting to Hashem is our greatest true desire. We want to trust in Hashem, yet we are in conflict when we feel we ‘need’ certain things that Hashem does not ‘give to us’. We think to ourselves, “Surely we know ourselves and our needs best?”

Actually, deep inside our neshamot know that Hashem knows best. Though our souls know what we need, we are blinded by our body. Hashem knows our needs better than we do. His restrictions are His way of protecting us. Hashem has infinite wisdom and is the Source of creation. As we increase our emuna, we repair our relationship with Hashem and learn to trust that He sees everything and knows what is in our bests better than we do.

Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Chaya Raizel bat Dina. May Hashem bless her with a complete healing b’riut hanefesh v’b’iut haguf among all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen.

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Teshuva & Elul ~ Part I

September 19, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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We are all in need of tremendous rachamei Shamayim, both individually and collectively as a Jewish nation. It is a mitzvah to respond to every crisis which we face by crying out to Hashem in tefilla.

All our emptiness and feeling of lack originally stems from a lack of spirituality. Our neshamot are crying to be heard and paid attention. Teshuva is a gift which is the antidote to this spiritual sickness. “For I am Hashem who heals you” (Exodus 15:26). As we come to understand ourselves and strive to fulfil ourselves spiritually, we bring comfort to our soul.

Elul represents 29 days of fixing and restoring our broken marriage with Borei Olam. Repairing our relationship with Hashem starts with 3 simple words, “I’m sorry”. We have 29 days to explore our true state, our misdemeanors, and to outline the reasons why we are sorry.

Elul represents a spiritual turning point of the year. It is a time of self-accounting and contemplation reflected through prayers and the blowing of the shofar. We seek refuge in Hashem and hope that He will hear our heartfelt prayers and accept our true regret.

During Elul, we can ask ourselves deep and honest questions such as:

  • Am I upset with Hashem, chas v’Shalom?
  • Do I have complaints?
  • Do I need to ‘forgive’ Hashem before He forgives me?
  • In what areas do I continue to make mistakes?
  • What can I do to improve?

The AriZal teaches that the true Elul experience is the fleeing of one’s sins in fear and desperation and the search for Divine protection. Rav Soloveitchik ztk’l teaches that the selichot we daven during Elul are different than everyday tefillot. They are a tza’aka (a deep cry). Selichot are more intense and compulsive. They are encapsulated by the words, “Aneinu Hashem Aneinu!” a plea for Hashem to answer us.

Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Eliyah ben Yeshua. May Hashem bless him with a complete healing b’riut hanefesh v’b’iut haguf among all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen.

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Awaken the Desire

September 14, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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Doing mitzvot are like connectors which bond us to Hashem, thus nourishing and consoling her. Dovid HaMelech writes (Tehillim 63:2), “…Tzama Lecha Nafshi; Kama Lecha Besari… (My soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You). Although our soul experiences endless craving we may not be aware of it at all times. Singing and doing mitzvot b’simcha awaken her desire and makes us aware she exists.

Singing our prayers is a great way to stir our hearts; shira itself is a service of joy. The mystical teachings explain that zemer (song) relates to zemer aritzim, cutting down tyrants.  These oppressors separate us from Hashem. Song tears down these persecutors thereby uplifting our emotions.  During the month of Elul, love is in the air.  By singing we as though, take Hashems hand and bring Him back into our life.

What powerful feelings of love stir our heart; we go from self-centered to G-d-centered.  We step away from the way ‘we’ see and think and get a glimpse of the way Hashem ‘sees and thinks’.  When we strip away the façade of the body we can hear our soul.  What does she say?  “I rely only on You Hashem. I anoint You as King, You are the Only One True Source to existence.”

Every moment of temporal life then can be saturated with eternal potential and significance.

Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Lynn Matiya Tzivia. May Hashem bless her with a complete healing b’riut hanefesh v’b’iut haguf among all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen.

 

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The Craving Soul

September 13, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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This month is filled with bracha. What is a blessing? Rashi explains a bracha simply: getting a lot when you do a little. We merit great abundance without having to invest a lot of time and effort. This is the power of Elul.

Unfortunately many of us don’t open up the gift called Chodesh Elul. We hide from ourselves and from Hashem. Adam and Chava also tried to hide from Hashem. How can we imagine hiding from ‘Eyes’ that see it all? We can’t. Admitting our mistakes and feeling the pain of embarrassment is part and parcel with the atonement process.

Let us not assume that the teshuva process is a one-time event. It is a gradual process. Development and self-growth occurs in stages and requires patience. It is an up-and-down process, no instant change. We are not expected to finish it, but to start. Teshuva is based on one founding principle; ratzon, a heartfelt desire to make the wrong right. In fact Rebbe Natan ztk’l the foremost disciple of Rebbe Nachman ztk’l teaches the entire reason the soul comes down into this world is for her to crave and seek Hashem and His Torah. The farther away from the object of love, the greater one’s desire to have it.

In this world our soul achieves wholeness through her ratzon to unite back with Hashem. Our longing to bond with Hashem is what opens the pipeline of bracha this month.

Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the complete refuah of Dov Nechemya HaCohen ben Rachel Chaya Sara a beautiful young man who has been battling a horrible spout of cancer for so long.  May Hashem send him a complete healing, b’riut hanefesh v’b’riut haguf among all Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’rachamim, b’karov, Amen.

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The Grand Ballroom

September 12, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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I recently heard an amazing vort given by Rav Lugasi Shlit’a. It describes the unbelievable opportunity Hashem gives us during Elul to recount and realign ourselves emotionally and spiritually.

Think of this month in the following manner. You are invited into a grand ballroom rented for a month by Hashem Himself. This room is filled with top lawyers. It is equipped with comfy chairs, air conditioning, background music and all the works. We are all invited to enter this room from Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul without charge until Yom Kippur. Everyone is invited; no racism.

In this room the lawyers give insights on how to be acquitted on our day of judgment. These lawyers in affect come in the form of sifrei mussar, Torah classes, our ratzon to right the wrong and times we allot to do cheshbon nefesh (self-accounting). We have one month to get our ‘act’ together and do some serious thinking and realigning.

Who opened this room and service to Klal Yisrael? The prosecutor Himself, Hashem our Beloved Father. Hashem wants to close the books and have us cleared of all charges. All year long we need to find our own lawyers and prepare the case on our own. This month we receive a special flow of Divine assistance from Hashem Himself. Thank You Hashem!

Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Dovid Yosef ben Leah. May Hashem bless him with a complete healing b’riut hanefesh v’b’iut haguf among all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen.

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The Jewish Soul

September 7, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

The Jewish soul never rests, she constantly seeks out her Creator and longs to unite back.  She is goal oriented and demands purpose. Additionally she wants to make a contribution to this world and wants to be involved in life changing endeavors.  Without it she is uneasy.

Balance and harmony are achieved when the soul is involved in meaning.  The purpose of life is not happiness – but a life of purpose which creates inner happiness. A person is at peace when they live in sync with their souls’ purpose; with the 613 messages of the Torah. There is a voice inside that screams ‘pain’ whenever we stray from our life’s mission.  Therefore we must get to know ourselves and discover what our higher meaning is.

The Jewish people are called the ‘Children of Israel’ and are equivalent to the five books of the Torah.  Hashem created the world for the sake of Torah and Klal Yisrael.  When we aren’t in touch with our soul in essence we are severed from life; since Torah is called ‘The Tree of Life.

Mitzvot are physical expressions of our emuna, our G-dliness. Mitzvot are the means by which we translate our G-dliness to human language.  Mitzvot are messages from Hashem how to connect with others; we need them to feel true to ourselves. We should treasure the opportunities to reveal our G-dly spark each time we study Torah, daven or do acts of kindness for another.

During Chodesh Elul we strive to heal our ailing soul and connect her back to Hashem.  How? By doing more than usual. Studying Torah with extra love, doing mitzvot with greater joy and praying with more heart.

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