Learn step by step instruction on how to make a challah.
Hashem placed our souls in this world and provided us with a toolbox. This toolbox is filled with emuna, strength, acceptance and clarity. It is also packed with warm memories we experienced in the upper realms before coming down to this world. We use these tools to build our higher selves.
There is endless value in every step we take to elevate this world and infuse it with G-dliness; aka emuna. Distress in life is caused mainly due to our desire to assert our will over Hashem’s will. The root of all dissatisfaction and anguish is when our plan clashes with G-ds. Essentially the problem is rooted in our ego and arrogance to be in control.
The outcome of attempting to live independent of ratzon Hashem is a living a life we are not meant to live; we have separated from being the person we are supposed to be. The Children of Israel are equivalent to the five books of the Torah. In the event we disconnect from Torah named the tree of life, we in effect miss out on living. This is a common pitfall for people who lose sight of the goal of life and focus only on personal gain.
Creation was intended as a means to earn a share with Hashem for eternity. We must stay focused on the end goal; otherwise we run the risk of severing our lifeline, our vitality. We should dig into our toolbox of Torah knowledge and tefillah on a consistent basis in order to identify with the bigger picture.
The mitzvot are the physical expressions of our emuna, of our G-dliness. If we attempt to act against G-d we attempt to be our own god. Yet this is counterfeit pleasure and will not lead to lasting happiness. We cannot chose to live without G-d since He is the only true reality; we exist within G-d and G-d is manifest through us. Living a life of Torah and mitzvot in essence comes naturally since our life force wishes to remain just that; connected to life. This can only be achieved by connecting to our soul’s root, by digging into that toolbox filled with goodies and reminders. The tools provided enable us to build a beautiful life here in this world and B’H in the World to Come.
I will be taking a long break through the Summer to finish writing the second ‘Turnaround’ book named ‘Turnaround Your Health’ – A working emuna guide with insights on ailments and illness plus spiritual and practical exercises.
For sponsorship opportunities and dedications please write OritRiter@gmail.com. Weekly Shabbat audios will continue to be posted. B’H looking forward to meeting many of you on my upcoming Summer Emuna tour.
With warm emuna hugs, Orit Esther
Studies show that man continuously searches for meaning and is left saddened if left living without a clear goal. To this end happiness = purpose. Hashem created us with purpose; a soul that persistently wishes to rise above challenges, grow and ascend to great heights.
The soul does not find her place in this world; she demands that a bond be forged between Hashem and every part of this lowly world. In the event that this demand is left unmet, she radiates uneasiness, unhappiness and haunts us to no end. Therefore it is vital to repeatedly remind ourselves why we are here thereby creating balance and harmony while experiencing trials and tribulations. As we reiterate to ourselves there is greater meaning ‘right here and now’ we are filled with inner peace. Although we may still struggle to pay this months’ rent, we connect the limited reality to an eternal reality.
The purpose of life is not happiness – it is living with purpose, which eventually creates inner joy. As the Torah guides us through the weeds and gardens of life, we are at peace; we know we are traveling with the ‘Best Tour Guide’. However if we ignore the soul’s voice as she screams in pain that time is passing without substance, meaning or stronger connection to Hashem, we run the risk of cutting off our G-dly connection and feeling empty.
We are not lost; we are not subject to happen-chance. We are here for a purpose; knowing this is the strongest foundation to build a life of happiness.
Rabbi Chaim Vital ztk’l explains the works of the AriZal HaKadosh. Existence is founded on four base elements: fire, air, water and earth. It is important to understand these fundamental features which are found in our soul. Although each soul includes all of these components, each of us has one element which is most dominant.
Positive aspects: intellect, desire to elevate and grow, passion, brought out by lighting candles in the name of tzaddikim and/or Shabbat candle lighting. It’s our G-dly spark, our soul’s root on high. It is represented by our korbanot. The world of Atzilut – the highest heavenly realm.
Negative aspects: anger, stubbornness, demand of honor, rebels authority
Positive aspects: modesty, humility, happiness, articulate speech, our intellect, brought out by tefillah. It’s our neshama, the study of Torah. The world of Briah.
Negative aspects: idle chatter, lies and slander, lashon hara
Positive aspects: openness, seeing the big picture, indulgence in pleasure, brought out through our emotions. Disgust for unnecessary physical pleasures. It’s our ruach. The world of Yetzirah.
Negative aspects: draw towards physical delights as a means to an end, lust, jealousy
Positive aspects: driven to act via our Divine force, feeling grounded, a drive to do, feeling satisfied with life, serving Hashem with simcha, brought out by hafrashat challah. It’s our nefesh. The world of Asiyah – our world.
Negative aspects: sluggishness, sadness, grief, hopelessness, inability to move and grow
By exploring these elements and matching them with our character traits, we enable ourselves to perfect our vessel, our desires, to hold on to the Divine light that continuously pours into this world. Torah observance, involvement in mitzvot and tefillah are the only way to tame and discipline our animalistic tendencies and acquire the tools we need to fulfill our unique task in this world.
Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Chaya Raizel bat Rachel. An additional name has been added for her. Please continue to pray for a complete healing for Chaya Raizel bat Rachel among all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering, b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen.
The Nefesh Elokit is literally a ‘piece of G-d’ and cannot be blemished. The soul’s ‘ailments’ are caused due to her endless yearning to fulfill her task and stay connected to Hashem. The nefesh is perfect; she is entirely G-dly and needs only to work through the medium of the body to use it to spread G-dliness in the world. Through refining the selfish and animalistic nature of the material world she accomplishes her unique task.
Before the nefesh descends she is shown her entire life; complete with the distractions and false enticements. She takes an oath to be righteous; she will always remain loyal to her desire to improve and refine this corporal world. She is allotted all of the necessary tools she needs to survive spiritually. She is given these tools in installments throughout her life as she needs them and earns them (by means of tefillah, Torah study and good deeds). The soul is equipped with emotions and intellect all focused on doing Hashem’s will. However as the soul merges with the physical body, who also comes with her dose of intellect and feelings, she finds herself fighting with another force.
The Zohar brings down the 613 mitzvot are essentially 613 channels through which the soul attains eternal elevation. If the soul does not completely finish its mission it must return once again. Gilgul (reincarnation) in gematria (numerology) = 72 = chesed (compassion, kindness); the soul gains eternal elevation through reincarnation since it places her in a higher place to bask in the Divine radiance.
The Jewish people have the merit to carry this G-dly spark, the nefesh. Our inner core is perfect and unique to us. B’H may we value and apply it to make this world a better place.
A Jew’s purpose in this world is to connect every aspect of earthly life to Borei Olam. As we create a holy abode on earth we make Hashem, so to speak, ‘feel at home’; we take the physical reality and inject it with spirituality. The measure of Divine revelation corresponds with our personal efforts in this world; this world is a stepping stone to the World to Come.
The soul enters this world and wishes to fulfill its purpose; to infuse the body with holiness and elevate it to become a loyal servant to Hashem’s will. The soul attains remarkable spiritual heights as it dwells in the body; greater than any revelation it can attain in the World of Truth. How? It is exposed to a spiritual desert in this world. It must hold onto whatever it can to survive. The battle to motivate the body and involve it in mitzvot creates an everlasting bond to the essence of Hashem.
Without doubt the soul greatly enjoys the closeness it experiences to Hashem in the World to Come. However she reaches an even greater level of joy as she strives to elevate all of the higher worlds, the angels on high and souls residing in the higher worlds as much as possible while sojourning in this world. This process creates waves of joy in Shamayim as well and has a profound ripple effect on the entire cosmos.
Gemara Brachot (11b) instructs us to serve Hashem from joy even during times of difficulty; even by night praise Hashem as though it’s day. Living a life of emuna and bitachon demands inner strength and intense ratzon; a life committed to learning and absorbing an emuna attitude. Life is challenging and the time to work on one’s emuna is not when we are in the midst of a hardship.
It is a demanding task and one of our greatest difficulties to see Hashem during times of concealment. Our relationship to Hashem varies depending on how readily we perceive His presence or not. Undoubtedly during times of gilui Panim (the ability to feel Hashem) we serve Hashem with joy, however we must learn how to attach ourselves at times of hester Panim (concealment) as well. Although Hashem’s presence never changes, our experience varies based on our perception. Hashem is always the same Loving G-d; zore’a tzedakot, matzmiach yeshuot and boreh refuot. This knowledge should strengthen our trust and joy no matter what life hands us.
We ask every morning ‘do not challenge me’ and certainly prefer to live a life without challenge. However growth is achieved through tests and the hurdles of life in fact help us realize greatness. Life brings with it heartbreaking trials and tribulations; the dilemma of human suffering is no small matter. Yet unless we view human existence on earth as connected to a greater eternal existence, we only see one thousandth of the puzzle.
Hashem is always with us, pumping us with the necessary strength to achieve G-dliness. Through thick and through thin Hashem is directing us to the ultimate good and time of redemption.
Think about it – Hashem is watching, caring, protecting, safeguarding and waiting to hear from you at every moment. Rav Tzaddok HaCohen of Lublin ztk’l teaches that a fundamental part of having emuna in Hashem is the belief that Hashem is looking out for our ultimate best. It might come out in the form of tough love, but “Tough love is also love.”
It is all in the attitude. As we infuse our mind and heart with the understanding that Hashem loves us to no limit, we equip ourselves with the necessary tools to accept all challenges as being for our best. Difficulties should be seen as ‘repairing kits’ that shift our mode of thinking; not as measures to cause us anguish. From here we learn the importance of a positive approach; it is all good, a blessing in disguise.
There is a simple yet proven practice brought down by Rav Chaim m’Volozhin ztk’l that empowers us to live with strong emuna and acceptance. It is founded on the principle that nothing controls our destiny but Hashem and thus Rav Chaim taught that by repeating the words Ein od Milvado and implanting in our heart there is no other force but Hashem; we can break free of any encounter that manipulates our connection with Hashem.
Thus is the power of emuna and bitachon. Fundamentally emuna is the constant practice of reminding ourselves how much Hashem loves and cares for us even if life is not exactly what we hoped for. Talk to Hashem, air out your concerns, you may not be granted your requests but you will certainly gain a tremendous feeling of closeness and feel Hashems loving embrace.
Matan Torah celebrates the greatest gift given to the Jewish People; our holy Torah. The first commandment conveys the message that Torah learning should not be based on blind faith but on firm knowledge as is written, “Ani Hashem Elokeicha”. This statement testifies first-hand there is none other than Hashem as we had personally witnessed on Har Sinai.
We are commanded to have emuna; to trust in the Torah wisdom transmitted through our Holy Sages as though we witnessed it personally. Emuna is absolute clarity and certainty that leads to loyalty; allegiance to Torah instruction. One way to reinforce our trust in Hashem and the words of Torah is through contemplating the irrational prophecies that are unfolding before our very eyes; they testify to the Divine origin of the Torah.
Even though we cannot go back in time to personally experience Matan Torah we can mend the fragments of current reality by seeking out the totality of Hashem’s providence in this world. The memory of Matan Torah was seared into every mind and heart; we can relive that experience every time we see Hashem’s intimate intervention in our lives today.
We rely on the tradition handed down from generation to generation. In order to receive the Torah we should learn Torah, establish knowledge through Torah wisdom and remain faithful to it under all circumstances. The experience of Har Sinai remains alive in each of us as a demo in order that we remain inspired to live in that Oneness again. It was from this experience that our emuna was born.