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.
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.
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.
One of the best investments we can make in our lives is fostering strong, healthy relationships with those we love. These relationships serve to strengthen our mind and physical health. These attachments show us that we matter to someone else, provide us with opportunities to look outside of ourselves and to give to others.
Unfortunately, the rat race of life often robs us of the time needed to devote and maintain these unions. As a result, many of us suffer without understanding why. We are seemingly thrown into exile – isolated from the world around us and those we love. Though we see the physical form of our loved ones, we cannot feel their loving presence or appreciate their love for us.
The same is often true with our relationship to God. The world carries us away on a rollercoaster ride, distracting us from focusing on life’s essence.
In such cases, we must take a few steps back, recharge, realign and focus on receiving the love that is being directed at us. How? To rebuild the relationship, the first, basic thing to do is to recognize the other’s presence and feel them in our hearts. How can we begin to connect to a Creator if we haven’t dedicated the time to first recognize His existence?
It is vital to implant in our consciousness that there is a Creator – a basic awareness of the presence of God in our lives. As it says in Psalms: “I have set God before me always” (Psalms, 16:8). By doing so, we essentially ‘invite’ Him into our life and are able to begin developing a relationship with Him.
So how do we rejuvenate this relationship with our Creator in order to feel His love?
Live consciously with the thought that there is purpose to life: A first step is to actively focus on the fact that nothing happens on its own. We are placed in this world to fulfill specific tasks and must remain mindful of the quest and continually search for purpose. Simply put God is closely involved in every aspect of a person’s life. Think of life’s events as personal notes intended to convey messages. Gradually as we tune in to this idea we will be able to decipher their meaning more readily.
Be aware of life’s gifts: A second step towards fostering this relationship with God is to focus on appreciating everything He has done for us. Next time you find something you have been looking for, show your appreciation by thanking God. Or the next time you miss your bus, actively look for one aspect of goodness in that occurrence, even if it’s just the fact that it gives you an opportunity to practice this exercise.
Daily events provide continuous opportunities to appreciate the goodness of God in our lives. The warm smile that greets you during a stressful day or the kind words that someone utters your way are some of the ways God interacts with you. Through these experiences we can sensitize our perception of God’s personal intervention, His constant presence, His love and care for us.
Express your faithfulness through action: The Sages suggest another way we can use to build a strong connection with God which is hinted to in the word mitzvah (Torah’s commandments), the Hebrew root of which is tzavta (companionship). Through engaging in various mitzvot we may partner with God’s will through our deeds. Furthermore, Torah study gifts us with a glimpse of infinite wisdom, since He reveals Himself through the holy letters.
Keep working on enhancing the relationship: However, as with any relationship, we must expect ups and downs in our relationship with God. Life is full of stress and trying encounters which throw us into darkness and feelings of being abandoned. Yet, it is of utmost importance to stay loyal and faithful despite of the challenges. This is the definition of unconditional love.
When we find ourselves in the dark, we must remember that we are not alone. The walls are only illusions. We learn this from the verse describing the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai: “… and Moshe drew near unto the fog where God was” (Exodus, 20:18). Any separation is an aspect of fog, cloudiness and darkness. However, the numerical value of the words ‘the fog’ in Hebrew is equivalent to the numerical value of the Shechinah (the Divine Presence). From this, we can deduce that God is present even when we are in a place of confusion and are experiencing loss of clarity or cloudiness of mind.
In such dark times, one way of reminding ourselves that He is still there is by simply inviting Him using simple words such as ‘God, I need You in my life.’ Communication is essential when forming a healthy connection between two parties and our relationship with God is no exception. Talking things through while respecting the other’s feelings is paramount for enhancing any relationship. Hearing the other side out and trying to place ourselves in their shoes as best as possible establishes long term feelings of validation. Just as we talk with others, we need to talk to God, trust Him enough to openly reveal ourselves to Him, and listen to His response.
It is crucial to extend time and effort to foster our relationships. Recognizing the other’s presence, searching and appreciating their kindnesses, following their suggestions, being loyal and faithful even when it seems that they are distancing themselves from us, and communicating our innermost thoughts may all consume a hefty amount of emotional energy. However, when we exert enough effort, we will be rewarded by finding that both during the joys and vicissitudes of life, the sunshine and the clouds of confusion and fogginess, they are right there with us.
Similarly, God is right there, lovingly directing our every step. Just as we connect to others in all walks of life, we will be rewarded by seeing God in every path of life.
Today’s daily dose is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Yosef Shlomo ben Yakov Dov who was involved in a serious car accident. May he be blessed with a complete refuah shleimah amongst all those sick and suffering in Klal Yisrael b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen!
Rashi ztk’l explains that the neshama yetirah (additional soul) that we receive every Shabbat has a dual purpose. The outer purpose is to gift us with an expanded heart so that we can more readily feel and sense creation in a more heightened state. We can then experience the delight of Shabbat with greater magnitude.
The inner purpose for being granted an additional soul is so that we can focus our entire mind on Hashem. It is in this way that we receive a boost of kavannah in our tefillot. Additionally, we are now on a higher level of understanding the depth of Torah and can bask in the pleasure of this awesome knowledge.
Being that Shabbat offers such a spiritual experience, the soul is able to overcome the body’s desires. Therefore, the mind is open to receiving new Torah insights and this brings us great happiness on Shabbat. The gates of Torah understanding are opened on Shabbat, and as a result, we feel an intense connection which ultimately increases our level of emuna.
Rashi continues to explain that this is one of the hidden meanings of the verse in Shir HaShirim, “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth.” Hashem is informing us that on Shabbat the deepest Torah secrets will be revealed as though we received them directly at Har Sinai; face-to-face and mouth-to-mouth.
On Shabbat, any Jew who wishes to come close to Hashem through attaining additional Torah wisdom is granted a free pass. Delight depicts a state in which the entire body rejoices over this attachment. In essence, for anyone who so wishes, on Shabbat the body can more easily become dominated by the soul. The force weighing down the body is lessened, and we are free to fly to amazing peaks.
Today’s daily dose is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Rivka Chana bat Sara Leah. She is a nineteen year old girl who suddenly became sick and now is awaiting a liver transplant. Let us beseech Borei Olam and ask that as quick as it came it should quickly disappear. May Rivka Chana bat Sara Leah have a complete refuah shleimah amongst all those sick and suffering in Klal Yisrael b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen!
Happiness is connected to the purpose for which we are living. It is living with an acute awareness as to the reason we are here on earth. This is closely woven into the importance of being true to ourselves. Our internal feelings must be in sync with that which we try to display to the outside world. That holy point of truth, the G-dly particle within, namely our soul, must be given room for expression since this is where all happiness originates from.
The pursuit of happiness is too important to give up on. Most people agree that it is an integral part of life. However, few people invest the time and effort to make it part of their reality. Unfortunately, many of us simply accept the notion that we will ‘just have to get through life as best as possible and make due with whatever life brings’; a very depressing thought. Happiness is certainly tied into acceptance, but living life should not be about miserably receiving that which cannot be controlled.
Joy is seeing Hashem everywhere and in everything since Hashem is testimony to the greater purpose of living. In other words, our linkage to Hashem as we follow His instructions for living enables us to be the best that we can be. We become full as we realize our potential to the maximum extent possible. We live on a higher plane and are connected to a loftier ideal.
The Torah teaches us that inner delight is not a result of whether our road in life is carved with struggles or not. It is the product of believing that Hashem will sustain us through it all until the end of time where it will be widespread and known to all.
Life in itself is a reason to be happy for it gives us the one chance to build our eternal future, to be part of something bigger and greater than this world has to offer. Viewing life through lenses of despair is not living out the will of Hashem. In time, we will see the goodness behind every moment of hardship.
To close, life is a blessing. The unbreakable rule is to live it by having emuna in Hashem that everything in time will reveal its perfect end.