Tisha BeAv


20/20 Vision

July 26, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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The basic tenet of emuna is taught in Megillat Eicha (3:38), “From Shamayim does not emerge evil…” Evil does not have a hold on existence; all that comes from Hashem is either revealed or hidden good but still it is all good. Correct spiritual vision involves piercing the surface of all that we see and look beneath. Indeed this is one of life’s greatest challenges.

There is a higher truth and a greater good that we are meant to see and experience. Truthful vision is born out of emuna; trusting there is goodness hiding inside the seemingly bad. Indeed this is the pathway from exile to redemption, lifting the veil of reality and revealing the loving-kindness of Hashem’s handiwork.

So long as we are in exile, we live a broken existence. Our greatest challenge is to trust there is wholesomeness ‘behind the scenes.’ Hashem ‘left’ the world unfinished so we may co-partner in the creative process and improve the world and ourselves. If we see the world as ‘bad’ it is because we are in the middle of an existing reality not yet complete. We cannot take one element and discard the rest but should remember that we are on the way to completing the picture.

Hashem’s intentions are pure and wholesome when they leave Shamayim. He leaves a part of creation unfinished for us to uplift and repair. In doing so, we perfect our vision and bring about our own redemption.

Where are you?

July 25, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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In Parshat Devarim Moshe Rabbeinu asks, “Eicha Esah Levadi” How can I bear alone (on my own) your trouble, burdens and quarrels?” (Deut. 1:12). Hidden in the word Eicha we find many powerful messages. The gematria of Eicha is 36, equal to the number of prohibitions for which one gets karet, spiritually cut-off chas v’Shalom. Therefore, one of the intents of Eicha is to propel us to reconnect to our inner truth and repair what is broken in our lives. We are destined to go from churban (destruction) to chibur (connection). How?

The first time the word Eicha is found in the Torah it is presented as a question asked by Hashem after the sin of Adam HaRishon. Hashem asks, “Ayeka” (same letters as the word Eicha but pronounced differently). Adam HaRishon is asked, “Where are you?” During the mourning period of the three weeks, we too are urged to search for our inner truth.

Just as Hashem looked to find Adam then He wishes to see us as well. Even though we too carry a bundle of faults, Hashem still ‘longs’ for us. The passionate call of a Ba’al Teshuva who calls out to Hashem for guidance and compassion uncovers the greatest light from darkness. These are the days of yearning intended to piece together the brokenness of our lives.

The road from darkness to light is found in the question “Where are you?”

Crown of Existence

July 24, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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There is an underlying universal message in all that happens in this world; one nation, one heart with one desire. We all lack something – the basis of all pain is that we are in exile away from home and apart from our truthful selves. The greatest suffering is ignorance; we remain oblivious to that which we truly desire. What do we really want? Happiness and pleasure.

The crown of existence hovers above our head and connects us to the endless source of Hashem’s light, Ohr Ein Sof. The Kabbalists call this our keter (crown); a link the infinite source of existence. Hidden in the crown are the jewels of creation; G-dly delight in its purest form. Hashem’s ‘wish’ for us is that we live with this lofty crown securely on our head at all times. However many of us love to shop the world and change the décor, jewels and color of our crown. Unfortunately, we often seek other pleasures and abandon our royal garb disregarding her inherent G-dly value.

Consequently, Hashem send us reminders of our lofty status in the form of rebuke. Hashem wishes to shower us with delight in its highest form; attachment to Him the source of all pleasure and happiness. Mi Bara Kol Ayleh – Who created all this? The answer is found in our crown. However unless we desire to wear our Heavenly garments we cannot experience true delight in this world and often may mistake fake alternatives for the real thing.

May today’s daily dose of emuna serve as an iluy nishmat for Yosef, Chaya and Elad Solomon HY’D who were brutally taken from this world this past Shabbat. May their souls bask in the Divine radiance with their royal crown of existence among all the righteous who have departed from this world, Amen.

In Your Hands

July 18, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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Taken from – http://www.divreichizuk.com/id101.html

Rabbi Fischel Schachter told the story of a woman, a Holocaust survivor, who settled in America after the war and was married for twelve years without having children. One day she was sitting in a doctor’s office on Madison Ave. in Manhattan, and the doctor, going over her charts, said to her, “Madame, please listen to me. I am saying this for your own benefit – give up. Medically speaking, there is nothing we can do so you can have children. When hair will grow from my palm, that is when you will have a child.”

The woman left and boarded the Madison Ave. bus. During the ride, she contemplated her life. She recalled the horrors she experienced as a young girl in Poland, when the family had a trap door beneath the dining room table and they would go and hide under the floor when the Nazis approached. She volunteered to be the one to close the door, put the carpet over it and then hide on top of a piece of furniture. She would sit there, all curled up, and listen in terror as the Nazis searched the house, smashing furniture as they went from room to room. Time and time again, the family was saved. But finally, the Nazis noticed a soft spot on the floor, and they discovered the trap door. This young girl watched as the Nazis dragged her family away. She was the only one who survived the war.

Once she got to America, she desperately wanted to begin a family. And now, after twelve long years, her hopes were shattered.

She said to herself, “I have no reason to get off this bus.” And so she stayed on the bus, sitting there the rest of the day. Finally, the driver informed her that he was driving the bus to the garage for the night, and she needed to disembark.

“I have nothing to live for,” she muttered.

“Listen, lady,” the driver said, “I’ve had a hard day. I don’t know what your problem is, but you’re not going to solve it by staying on this bus.”

She got off the bus and said, “Master of the world, You were with me all along. You saved my life countless times. You brought me here. You let me start my life over, and so it is in Your hands. I have no right to give up. The bus driver is absolutely right – You didn’t save my life for me to live on the Madison Ave. bus. Please tell me what to do. I won’t give up. I will continue serving You no matter what.”

A year later, she had a child.

That child grew up, got married, and has his own grandchildren. By the time this woman passed away, she had enough great-grandchildren to make that doctor’s hair stand up.

Rabbi Fischel Schachter added that he heard this story firsthand from the woman herself , whom he knew quite well. She was his mother.

The Rabbi concluded by saying that there are going to be times in our lives where our hopes will be shattered, and everything we’ve been banking on will suddenly be lost. At such moments, we can easily fall into despair and feel a sense of betrayal. But we must not give up. We should instead say, as his mother did, “Hashem, I don’t have to understand, but everything in my life is in Your hands. I will try my hardest to succeed in the difficult position You have put me in.” If we can do that, then we have emunah, and we open the doors to salvation and blessings that would never have been available to us otherwise.



Shining Light

July 17, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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The soul is ‘hired’ to act as an important agent of Hashem – in charge of redeeming sparks. However because this world is ‘dark’ (hides Hashem’s light) she often ‘forgets’ her task and feels disconnected and alone. But she is not; the Shechinah joins her in darkness and guides her way.

The Jew’s essence is the Shechinah; wherever we go She goes. The Shechinah is with us as we tread on the path of life; our destiny is intertwined with Hers. The Sages teach that the Shechinah is troubled by our troubles; She willingly lowers Herself into the lowest of the lows in order to partner with us on our mission of tikkun olam.

Tikkun Olam, rectification of this world, can only take place while dwelling in this world. We are earthly agents on a Divine mission that can occur only on earth. It is for this reason we are meant to live in this world in order to repair from within; shine Divine light and awareness of its G-dly essence. Our mission becomes increasingly challenging as time passes; the holy sparks become harder to find and redeem. The darkness refuses to part with the light and relentlessly holds her captive.

We certainly have our work cut out for us; yet the real ‘Take Home Lesson’ is to never forget that we are not fighting the battle alone. Hashem is always with us; shining His love onto our every step.

Ready for Change?

July 12, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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We are in this world to change; often that’s challenging and even scary. Rav Kook ztk’l teaches that change is a grounds for positivity since it draws a picture of movement to a better place. Even so, change does mean going into the unknown; something that requires courage. Change also involves giving up something in order to acquire something new; a shedding of the old in place of something different.

Yet Torah requires and instructs us to change; it is one of the greatest challenges to stand strong and admit we must adjust our ways for the sake of self-improvement and further growth. We should learn from the past and apply this wisdom to transform our current reality.

For instance, upon learning the harmful impact stress has on our emotional, spiritual and physical health we should place greater emphasis to deflect it from our lives. It is not enough to simply say “I wish I could change”; we need to work to fix it with greater zeal. We can take 3 minutes a day to deeply breathe in emuna and positivity while exhaling toxic negativity. We can imagine blowing up a balloon and place our anxiety in it and watch it drift away. There are endless techniques to choose from.

When there is a will there is way – that is a Jewish axiom to apply prior to any effort. Check how much you really want to alter your situation. Before attempting to change visualize how great it will be once you reach your goal B’H and pump yourself with exciting energy.

Think of a Sorrow

July 11, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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Think of a sorrow… any sorrow whether you are directly affected by it or someone else… its origin is in our current exile and the pain of the Shechinah.

We don’t easily connect to this on a daily basis, but today we must. Today we mourn as a nation for the collective and individual losses, pain and suffering of our people as we await Oneness and unity.  Living in a fragmented world has many implications all of which we have come to witness some way or another. How sad it is to feel incomplete, sometimes alone and misunderstood, even uncared for and degraded.  If only we were a united people, the Oneness of our Creator would be revealed.

Today we begin to repair a shattered area in our life and work to remedy it in the upcoming three weeks. Take one thing you want to correct and give it your entire will and might. Invest your thoughts, speech and actions to fix one part of your life for the sake of Shamayim; to help repair the world person by person, piece by piece. The list is long, but choose one thing and focus on it for the next three weeks; not for you, but for Hashem, for the redemption of our people.

It is up to us, the people, to bring our own redemption. Our sages teach “Lo b’Shamayim hee” it is not in Heaven but on earth. In this world we are given Heavenly power to move the world around. Let’s get started.

Life’s Gifts

July 10, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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“And you shall love Hashem, your G-d, with all your heart and all your soul and all your resources” (Devarim, 6:15). Masechet Avot teaches there are three levels of love of Hashem: with the heart, soul and resources.

Love of Hashem ideally should be unconditional; however it generally emerges out of condition and in time elevates to absolute love. Intellectually we recognize that all of life’s gifts come from Hashem and that He intimately takes care of all our needs. However the pathway to feeling His unconditional love is by stirring the heart to appreciate all of life’s gifts and acknowledging how much He loves us.

Every good idea, every thought, every feeling, our body, our soul, every small detail… our children, our spouse, our family, our money… everything is a gift.

Think about it. Where did it all come from? We often falsely believe that we earned it all with the help of Hashem. But this is not so… He gave, gives and will continue to bestow life’s gifts to us. We didn’t help at all!

The obligation to ‘love Hashem your G-d’ begins with an intellectual awareness that we are completely dependent on His unconditional loving-kindness. This in turn stirs our heart with a constant desire to draw closer to Him at every given moment.

Thunder & Lightning in your life

July 5, 2017
Orit Esther Riter

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A little girl walked daily to and from school. Though the weather that morning was questionable and clouds were forming, she made her daily trip to school. As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped up, along with thunder and lightning.

The mother of the little girl felt concerned that her daughter would be frightened as she walked home from school, and she herself feared that the electrical storm might harm her child.
Following the roar of thunder, lightning, through the sky and full of concern, the mother quickly got in her car and drove along the route to her child’s school.

As she did so, she saw her little girl walking along, but at each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up and smile. Another and another were to follow quickly, each with the little girl stopping, looking up and smiling.

Finally, the mother called over to her child and asked, “What are you doing?”

The child answered, smiling, “Hashem, just keeps taking pictures of me.”

How do you see the ‘thunder & lightning’ events of your life?

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