The Vilna HaGaon ztk’l teaches that if it were not for yissurim, we would not be able to stand in the next world. Our merits and misdeeds are weighed and our merits are lightened since they are often done with a lack of sincerity and joy. In contrast, our misdeeds are heavy since often they are committed with desire and excitement.
The word yissurim is derived from the word ‘mussar’ (rebuke). Discomfort, challenges and hardships are ‘wake-up’ calls to convey the message that we are currently ‘traveling down the wrong path’. Such wake-up calls are actually a Divine chesed, enabling us the opportunity to pay merely pennies on a one million dollar debt.
Feel and heal exercise of the day:
Put one hand on your forehead and one hand in the back of your head and calm your thoughts. Think about the path you are traveling towards. What can you change about it to enable more meaning into your life?
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.
How many of us are ‘disappointed’ with life’s circumstances? We have so many questions to which many there appear to be no answers. Yet, there is emuna.
Emuna stems from wisdom of the soul not of the bodily mind (seichel). It is a place that is beyond bodily awareness and understanding. For this reason, we live by the motto, ‘When intellect kicks out, emuna kicks in’. Emuna takes us to places far beyond worldly logic.
The neshama is a piece of eternity – Infinite wisdom. Therefore emunas borders are boundless and without restraint. No matter how deep we probe man’s logic cannot feed the ‘emuna mind’. The soul’s essence extends far beyond the power of worldly reason.
In Tehillim (130:7) it is written: “Israel will hope to Hashem for with Hashem’s kindness and with Him is abundant f’dut (redemption)”. We await the time for Hashem’s compassion to be openly revealed. Endless care is raining down on Israel yet our eyes cannot see and our hearts may not comprehend. We turn to emuna and the teachings of the Torah where it states time and again “You are My children”.
As a result we are infused with love, happiness and security that dismiss any thoughts of abandonment, unworthiness or punishment. Emuna is our answer.
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.
There is a beautiful passuk in Sefer BaMidbar “…ka’ashear yisah ha’oman et hayonek (… carry them in your bosom as the nurse carries the suckling…) (see Parshat Behaalotecha (11:12).” This verse describes the unwavering security and satisfaction a baby experiences after nursing. The baby is not concerned about her next meal, but content and dependent on her mother for all her needs.
We often utter the words ‘End of Days’ casually, without contemplating their true meaning. The Chofetz Chaim ztk’l teaches that the generation that will greet Mashiach (our generation B”H!) will be required to constantly examine their emuna. Like a person constantly checking his pockets to reassure himself that his precious savings are still safely ensconced there, so too we need to continuously pay attention to and confirm our levels of emuna.
The Navi Zecharia teaches that Hashem rejoices in every bit of our avoda we perform to strengthen our emuna.Our reward in this world will be the blissful feeling of security and satisfaction similar to that experienced by a nursing baby. And in the next World we will all merit to see the positive effect of every emuna-strengthening act and thought.
For many of us the “End of Days” represents a time of harsh Divine decrees. Heavenly prosecutors will attempt to force us to reach a point of teshuva and bring justice for transgressions committed. Many of us are currently confronting surprisingly harsh challenges and nisayonot. Though these penalties may seem cruel or unjust, we must remember that we are not privy to Divine calculations.
We do not have the ability to understand the inner workings of the Divine machine the direction that the bolts and nuts turn or the purpose behind each tiny nail and screw. Thus, it is our emuna that will buoy us to believe that there is purpose to every part, twist and turn, of the Divine machine of life and that it is all for our ultimate best.
Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of all those injured in yesterday’s horrific bus accident in Israel and l’havdil l’iluy nishmat the precious souls who passed away. May Hashem envelop us with extra doses of emuna through these difficult times where judgment is tightly stretched over the Klal and may we unite with one another in simchas only, Amen.
Please share your comments, thoughts and questions in the comment section. Would love to hear from you.
Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Refoel Yosef Baruch ben Chava. May Hashem shower him with yeshuot and nechamot, a complete healing refuat hanefesh and refuat haguf among all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen.
We undoubtedly do not call challenges upon ourselves. Yet when we experience hardships we are forced to face the truthful reality of existence; Ein Od Milvado, there is No One other than Hashem. As a result of the removal of the false notions that we are in control, we are gifted with clarity of vision and now can interact with our loved ones in a more authentic way. All relationships are strengthened when people are real and true to themselves. Many times this comes after going through difficult situations.
And although we don’t ask to be tested, we have much to gain as we can sharpen our coping skills with each successive challenge. With repetition we actually change the nerve pathway settings that are responsible for channeling our emotions. That is why it is so imperative to practice new habits until they become second nature; essentially forming new neural conduits. Practice what? Practice letting go and letting Hashem run the world. We are not privy to know exactly what Hashem’s plans are, but we can accept the events in our lives as being the best that they can be.
Hashem has only one interest; shower the Jewish people with compassion and give them many possible opportunities to earn eternal reward. We cannot go through life alone, we need Hashem in every way, place and time. When we seek Him, we see Him, even in the smallest details of life. Then we truly recognize that we are never alone, He is here with us in our happiness and as well as in our sorrow and this recognition enables us to gain the most out of every experience.
Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Yisrael Meir ben Roza, the young man who was trampled at the funeral of Rabbi Wosner ztk’l. May Hashem shower him with a complete healing refuat hanefesh v’refuat haguf among all of those who are sick in suffering in Klal Yisrael, b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen.
Some of the reasons why it is so difficult to cope with our nisyonot:
1) Pride; we feel that we are undeserving of such hardships, but the truth is we are undeserving of everything that we have because everything is a gift
2) Lack of patience; the yeshua will come in due time.
3) We focus on the past. Don’t look back just look forward to a new start. Remembering how long the difficulties have lasted wears us to the core.
4) “Ba’asher nafalti kamti.. (From within my fall I will rise).” There are times when we feel we have fallen into a pit of despair without any means of being able to get up. Even though it seems like the world around us has darkened and that Hashem, chas v’Shalom has hidden His face from me, be aware that this is a descent for the purpose of ascent. My distance will bring me closer to Hashem. From within my decline lays my incline. From within? Yes. My strength is there within the decline and it will be revealed to me from within the difficulty. Thus I will be given the koach to lift myself up again.
Knowledge is power. When we dig deep into the reason why we are struggling to accept our hardships, B”H we will be rewarded with the tools to battle them.
Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to Klal Yisrael – a special prayer that we all unite, wipe away the baseless hatred and pettiness which divides us. May we heed the Heavenly message and love one another through joy and not only through sorrow, Amen.
This is a moment where our entire nation is being tested on how loyal we are to Hashem and how humbled we stand in the face of such harsh decrees. Will we assume the responsibility that every one of us has since we are a nation who is accountable for one another by fault and action? Will we tidy up our act and clean out our chometz? Or will we chas v’Shalom be brought down to our lowliness, retreat within ourselves and grow in anger over not being able to comprehend.
The pain is divinely planned, yet how we handle it is our moral free choice. The only way to make our way through the immense unbearable pain is to be enveloped by the knowledge that there is a bigger plan. As said in the beginning of this article no answer would make us a better people or serve to make us more moral and compassionate.
We must mourn and be wounded by our tears. There is not a pill in the world that will wipe this shocking ache away. Now we can understand Moshe Rabbeinu ztk’l when he asked Hashem, ‘Ad matai?’ We are entering the final stages of this journey of exile; so close yet so far. B’nai Yisrael felt the same just before they left Mitzrayim. Hashem’s response comforted Moshe then and B’H has the power to console us now, the attribute of justice, Elokim, is but another aspect of Hashem’s compassion, Hashem, as is written in Shemot (5:22), ‘And Elokim spoke to Moshe and said to him, ‘I am Hashem’.’
The pain is part of the redemption process; the confusion ultimately leads to clarity. If we remain silent and allow ourselves to cry over our loss, we will eventually hear the soul’s plea guiding us to where we need to go.
Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of the mother and daughter Gila bat Francis and Tzipporah bat Gila who were critically injured in this past Shabbat’s fire in Brooklyn. May Hashem send them a complete healing b’riut hanefesh v’briut haguf among all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen.
The Jewish soul understands and accepts, nonetheless still mourns. The mourner sits on a low chair and is encouraged to focus on the spiritual side of life; to take the bitterness and rebuild. We see destruction with the same eye that focuses on transformation. The Jew is commissioned to work towards rebuilding Jerusalem with all of its spiritual counterparts that symbolize the wholeness of the human spirit. That is our personal and national consolation and comfort. We are broken-hearted nevertheless still move forward and look to heal.
I can’t help but feel eerie over the thought that this tragedy comes on Shabbat Vayikra the parsha that elaborates on the korbanot in the Mishkan. This inexplicableness is quadrupled when you look at the date of Rosh Chodesh and learn that it is the yahrtzeit of Nadav and Avihu ztk’l – “And Aharon was silent… “(Vayikra 10:3). In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth. Our inner cry should not lead us to question but in due time to restore the damage and build a life filled with more compassion, unity and love of one another. This is what naturally pours out of us after experiencing such a tragedy and this is what we must hold on to even when life returns somewhat to normalcy. (the conclusion tomorrow)
Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated in loving memory of our seven beautiful neshamot who passed from this world this Shabbat. The pain is immense and words cannot describe. We must mourn for the loss and step up to the holy task we have been commissioned to do. May the zechut of our teshuva serve to elevate the neshamot of these precious angels and envelop the family with strength, emuna and clarity. May it serve as a refuah shleimah for the Mother Avigail bat Tzipporah and the daughter Tzipporah bat Avigail among all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen.
Today we are a nation in mourning; there is no running away from this reality. We are called the ‘Tylenol’ generation – living at a time where we wish to remove all discomfort and pain, NOW. Yet an inescapable part of life is the unexplained tragedies that leave us broken and confused. We are driven to ask ‘why’… but would any answer suffice? So long as we dwell in this lowly world and live with a tremendous sense of distance from our Father in Heaven, our minds and hearts can never be consoled by any ‘logical’ explanation… ever. Asking ‘why’ is questioning the unquestionable and seeking to answer the unanswerable. To ask ‘why’ is destructive since it suggests we are innocent and feel the decree is unfair. Yet our measuring barometer is calibrated only to this world and doesn’t take into account other Heavenly spheres and events.
The fact that we even ask ‘why’ testifies that we believe that there is order, there is justice and there is meaning. Pain and tragedy trips our understanding. We are desperate to understand since greater comprehension enhances our sense of belonging – confusion makes us feel like a stranger in this world. Yet we must realize that living in this world cannot help but leave many questions unanswered – most suffering is a mystery to us mortal beings. All we can do is extract lessons; we cannot demand justification. ‘Why’ in Hebrew is Lama, yet with a slight change in accent we can read it as L’ma, for what. The Jewish approach to hardship is ‘Where do I go from here?’ and ‘How can I return to my original place from which I have strayed?’