A Flicker of Hope

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A Flicker of Hope

December 13, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

Chanukah is the festival of emuna, the light that glimmers in midair and has the power to dispel darkness in an instant. The glow of light is a flicker of hope and testimony that Hashem can do anything.

Everything that occurs in life is sunlight enveloped in blackness. All is hidden and concealed before the human eye so that we may choose our path without readily seeing which way it leads. Our soul knows and drives us to choose spirituality, yet our body sways us to material avenues. The constant battle between cloudiness and clarity is the journey of a lifetime.

Chanukah is a holiday where we physically act to increase light in our homes for all to see. When things look dreary, hopeless and desolate especially as the days are shorter and physically there is less light shining in the world, we declare, “There is no despair in this world at all!” HaKadosh Baruch Hu instructed us to engage in the deed of lighting the menorah so that we can personally participate in the creation of light.

The emuna that the Maccabim portrayed by fighting against the Greeks, against all odds for a chance to win, brought about their yeshua. They trusted in Hashem’s intervention and saw themselves as a child of Hashem in dire need of His help. That was the key to their salvation. “Hashem, we are Your children, please help us”; that brings victory! It was not natural to survive. Now it is our calling to display that same emuna as the Maccabim.

 

The Victory of Light

December 12, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

Our war for light is a fight for the truth to be revealed. When we live in darkness we are cut off from reality – we do not benefit from HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s presence or take pleasure in our relationship with Him. We are left empty and alone – separate.

However, within this darkness we can find ourselves; it is a road to self-discovery to make positive changes in our lives. The Ba’al Shem Tov HaKadosh teaches that the greatest difficulty we endure is when we live in darkness and don’t realize that it is dark. We reside a blackness and sense it being brightness.

The galut becomes comfortable and we adjust to our surroundings not feeling that anything is wrong or out of place. How can we find our way through that? A fundamental rule in psychology is that you cannot help someone if they refuse to be helped. How can we work towards the geula if we don’t sense discomfort in the galut?

This is the delusional power of the yetzer hara. Rebbi Nachman ztk’l brings down that during our generation the yetzer hara will be renamed – the power of delusion! We are lacking our natural habitat and yet accept it. Therefore it is here where we need to fight.

Tonight, when we light the menorah we must turn to Hashem and ‘demand’ the geula. We should tell Hashem that we refuse to live in darkness and need light – Borei Olam’s light, the light of truthful reality. Chazal teach us that this is the tefilla that Hashem ‘craves’ and ‘yearns’ for. A demand for Him to reveal Himself and for His name to be universally recognized and glorified.

A fight on the emuna battleground is what it should be called. Our constant conflict between body and soul, clarity and confusion, emuna and doubts must be done with once and for all.

Tonight, request light; peaceful light in your homes, intimate light in your relationship with Hashem, loving light in Klal Yisrael, joyful light in every home, healing light for the sick, zivug light for singles, baby light for childless parents, blessed light for our parnassa, and the light of teshuva to the wandering souls in B’nai Yisrael. This is one war we all need to fight together … and cannot afford to loose!

Challenge on Purpose

December 11, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

Attaching rich meaning and purpose to life’s challenges equips us with the vital gear to combat them. A person would be happy to dig a hole no matter how difficult the task appears, knowing that he will be planting a garden in that pit and soon enjoy a beautiful floral display.

In fact often times it doesn’t matter if we personally benefit from the hardship rather than someone else; as long as it is of value. Willingness to work out at the gym is likely to be stronger if we hold onto the foresight and long term goals associated with healthy exercise.

It is basic human instinct to resist difficult occurrences. Nonetheless it is of great significance as it adds to character growth. The level of greatness that one can attain through challenging times is possible particularly because he is lifting himself up while feeling weighed down.

Could it be that we have been chosen to show our strength by example to others while we experience difficulties? Maybe the troubles are meant to elevate us personally in ways that were previously hidden?

Yet, the possibility always stands that we may not comprehend the reason why and not be able to answer the ancient question, “Why me” or “Why them” or “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Yet we have a better chance of accepting even that which we cannot grasp with our limited mind by learning Emuna. Knowing that Hashem eternally loves us and is guiding us through life moment by moment, day by day ties purpose into challenge.

Spiritual Singing

December 6, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

Music is merely a type of revelation of the soul and its feelings. The soul manifests itself in the words that a person utters his joyful and/or painful thoughts and feelings. Our holy texts teach us that when a person’s suffering overwhelms him c’v, he can no longer speak, but can only cry out and moan without words. In the same way, a tune, which is comprised of sounds of joy or bitterness, arouses a person’s feelings, and within these feelings the soul surfaces and begins to express itself.

Our task in life should be to dedicate ourselves to Hashem. Thus, in order to connect our soul to Hashem’s holiness, we should accustom ourselves to spiritual singing and music. Just by merely closing our eyes, swaying back and forth and envisioning ourselves standing in Hashem’s presence can mend a broken heart. At first we sing in order to arouse our soul from its slumber. However, little by little we will feel that our soul has already begun to sing on its own.

Our soul ascends and descends along the passage of life. The tune comes together, and lifts up our soul and brings it closer to Hashem. This does not necessarily occur only with a brokenhearted tune. It can also take place with a joyful tune. Anytime, anyplace – whenever you feel that the time is right, you can sing; and you do not have to raise your voice, for a person can sing in a hush, and his voice is heard in the heights.

Parah Adumah

December 5, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

The laws of the red heifer are incomprehensible to the human mind. We cannot understand everything in life. We are probed with questions, confusion, uncertainties – the Parah Adumah is a reminder of how limited our minds are.

What advice does the Torah offer in such cases where even Shlomo HaMelech ztk’l , the wisest of all men, could not grasp this Torah teaching? Emuna Temima (simple unadulterated loyalty and faithfulness to the Torah’s infinite wisdom, no matter how incomprehensible they may be!). There are endless events and ideas in this world that we will not be able to grasp. The only notion we need to remain faithful to is that Hashem is running the universe perfectly; without any glitches!

Oh, how much we plan; dotting our ‘I’s’ and crossing our ‘T’s’, going through the logical process. Nonetheless, the Ultimate Designer and Master Planner knows better. The list of questions; why’s and what’s just seems to get longer with no ‘Heavenly loudspeaker’ announcing any resolution for them.

To those who wish to live a life of emuna- they hear the answers. To name a few of the possible responses: ‘It is not the right time’, ‘Be patient’, ‘The delay is necessary’ and even ‘No, I can’t give that to you’ – to name a few.

In life there are delays and denials necessary to perfectly carve our eternal future life. Accepting reality at times for what it is is the top code of living a healthy balanced life. As the Kli Yakar ztk’l teaches in his commentary on Shmot (25:10), “The purpose of knowledge is to know that we don’t know.”

We do not know and do not understand. This is the greatest acceptance of them all!

I Lost My Keys… Again!

December 4, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

 

Tzaddik B’Emunato Yichyeh – A righteous man lives by his Emuna. Mankind wishes to strive upward and spiritually elevate him/herself always. The Navi Chavakuk ztk’l explains in three words how to attain it; righteousness comes through living with Emuna. Emuna should be interwoven into our thoughts, speech and deeds under every and all circumstances. Emuna needs to be sewn into the fabric of life. The following real life scenarios will help bring clarity on how to apply emuna into ‘rountine’ incidents that many of us have experienced.

It is a hot day. We make the effort and travel to a public office to straighten out some errands. The line is long, people are impatient, we giggle in our place awaiting our turn to come. It finally arrives. We approach the clerk and are told that we are missing an important document and without it we cannot complete the process. How much Emuna is needed right then and there to accept this circumstance with love?

You are in a rush and must leave Now! Oy, where are those keys? I know I put them here…. What agony… Who is to blame? Me, someone else?

In Mishlei (19:21) Shlomo HaMelech ztk’l teaches, “Many thoughts are in man’s heart, but the counsel of Hashem – only it will prevail.” What is the difference between a machshava (thought) and eitza (counsel)? Thoughts are simply that – thoughts of a final objective. Yet counsel is the outcome itself. The most carefully laid-out plans will not come to fruition if not in accordance to Hashem’s will. As my Safta a’h used to say: “You can stand on your eyelashes…” it simply won’t be if Hashem doesn’t will for it to be.

Remember that next time you are in line or misplace your keys…

Hard to Access

November 29, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

Today’s Daily Dose of Emuna is sponsored L’iluy nishmat Tzvia bat Mordechai a”h. May her soul bask in the Shechinah HaKedosha among all the righteous who have departed from this world, Amen.

The Chofetz Chaim ztk’l teaches a parable that clarifies the understanding of the importance of constant review and repetition of emuna learning.

It is likened to a man who draws water from a well on a freezing 20 degrees below zero winter day. He stores the bucket of water outside until he wishes to use it. However to his amazement after a few hours he finds the water frozen solid. The amount of work now required by him to enjoy some of the water is tremendous; he will have to chisel his way to enjoy but a few drops.

However if he was wise he would have made sure to check on the water every so often. As a thin layer of ice would begin to form on top he would have simply had to give it a quick stir in order for it to break apart and prevent the formation of a solid block of ice.

We take an insightful teaching from this analogy as this resembles our avodah when it comes to learning emuna. Emuna requires constant review, evaluation and integration in our lives or else it will freeze and become difficult to access. The world outside is cold and numbs our emuna senses.

Therefore we must constant dip ourselves into the warm and loving study of emuna to keep our souls well nourished with the ‘water’ it so desperately needs to drink!

Completely Healed

November 28, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Sagi ben Anat. May Hashem send him a complete healing refuat hanefesh v’refuat haguf amongst all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’karov b’rachamim, Amen.

Stories of the tsaddikim are stories describing Hashem’s personal intervention with this world; a meeting between Shamayim v’Aretz (Heaven and Earth). Tales of tsaddikim awaken our soul driving us to seek a closer relationship with Hashem. After hearing stories of the righteous men and women of Ahm Yisrael, our hearts yearn with a fiery flame to devote ourselves to be a more perfect Eved Hashem (loyal Jew). These stories are likened to a prayer.

One day, a man who appeared obviously distraught and worn down, knocked at the door of the Chazon Ish. He told the Chazon Ish that he had felt ill for a few days, and eventually he had felt so ill that he was hospitalized. The doctors performed a battery of tests, and they found a virulent infection which had invaded his body. They sadly informed the man that he had only fours day to live; they did not have any medication that would be effective for this infection.

The man broke down sobbing as he finished his story, and the Chazon Ish soothed him and calmed him down. The Chazon Ish opened a Chumash Bereishis, and turned to the first pages of the parsha. He said to the man, “Look what Hashem created on the first day,” and the Chazon Ish began to recite all the things which Hashem created on the first day of creation. “Look what Hashem created on the second day,” and again the Chazon Ish read the pasukim, and listed one by one the things which were created on the second day. He continued with the third day, and the fourth day. “So, if the Creator of the World was able to create so many things in four days, don’t you believe that in four days He can create a medicine for you which will heal you completely?” The Chazon Ish encouraged the man not to give up hope, but rather he should daven for himself, and plead with Hashem that He heal him from his infection. He reminded him that the gates of Tefila are never locked, especially before the tefila of a sick person, which is tefila at a time of tzara.

The eyes of the man lit up at the Chazon Ish’s words. He began to daven fervently for himself, and since he was following the instructions of a holy man, a unbelievable miracle occurred. A new medicine was imported to Eretz Yisroel from America in the following days. This sick man was one of the first people that the medicine was tested on, and it became clear that the medicine was effective for the infection which was ravaging his body. Within a short time, the man was healed completely. (Barchi Nafshi)

 

Planted in Us

November 27, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

In Sefer Bereishis we learn about Yaakov Avinu’s wondrous dream as he leaves Beersheba for Haran. He sees a ladder standing firmly on the ground, reaching upward to the heavens. Angels are going up and down “v’hinei Hashem Nitzav alav (Behold, Hashem is standing above him)”.

The Izhbitzer Rebbe ztk”l explained that there are two words that can be used for standing. One is omed, which simply means standing there, and the other is nitzav, which implies being planted in place. A human being is an omed. He always has the choice to stay in one place or move away. A nitzav has no such choice; it is planted in its place like a stone.

By using the expression of nitzav, Hashem was telling Yaakov a beautiful message, “Dear child, I have no choice but to be with you.” Hashem wanted us to realize that no matter what, no matter where, He would always be planted and bonded with us. Hashem’s connection with us is forever, something that can never be moved nor shifted. We may ascend and descend the ladder to Heaven, sometimes rising and sometimes falling, but Hashem will always be planted above us and within us. No matter where we are, because we are Hashem’s children, He will be with us.

What a powerful message! It gives one a sense of tranquility despite the world’s thunderous storms.

The Joy of Feeling Hashem

November 22, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

Filling our lives with mindfulness that Hashem is with us, intimately involved in every thought, deed and word, embraces us with complete joy. There is nothing as sweet and pleasant as meriting a warm hug by Hashem after we experience His personal involvement in our lives.

One of the main emotional states that stop us from sensing this closeness is sadness. When our hearts are twisted and embittered, even in the very hour that Hashem is helping us, we will not be able to feel His nearness. Our minds become constricted and hearts turn dull, deadening all emotions.

Depression numbs the heart and mind causing it to become disoriented through life’s travels. A downtrodden mindset cannot relate or internalize goodness of any sort. A practical solution to combat this state is to strengthen our mindfulness and awareness of life’s gifts at those intervals when we are inspired and on a spiritual high. This timeframe leaves in its tracks a state of expanded consciousness which stays aflame even after the moment passes. It injects us with lasting joy and strengthens our mind to actively fight sadness whenever it arises.

Once we accustom ourselves to being joyful, people will be drawn to us like magnets. Being that almost everyone is packed with sorrow and confusion, when they spot a person with a delightful glow, they yearn to ‘rub elbows’ and learn from their ways. This is proof of how much the world covets the image of a happy person and wishes to live so.

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