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.
There is a beautiful secret found in the words “v’Ani Tefillati” (Tehillim 69:14). R’ Ya’akov Abuchatzeira ztk’l teaches that the gematria of Elul is equal to “v’Ani” and “Tefillat” is equal to Tishrei.
The outpouring of Rachamei Shamayim during the months of Elul and Tishrei propels each of us to do teshuva and forces the Heavenly gates open for it to be accepted on high. The energy of these months is found in the passuk, “Dirshu Hashem b’heematzo kra’uhu b’heyto karov” (Seek Hashem when He is found, call Him when He is near) (Yishayahu 55:6). Due to the luminous rays of Hashem’s thirteen middot of Rachamim during Elul we are showered with a newfound love of our G-dly soul and a desire to reach high spiritual remedies.
Because of this inner awakening, we merit the continuum of the passuk above “Elokim b’rov Chasdecha Aneini b’Emet Yishecha” (Hashem with Your abundant kindness, answer me with the truth of Your salvation). Here too we find a wonderful hint in the gematria of the word Yishecha which equals the word “Peshuta”.
There is a custom during the month of Elul to add into the tefillot “…Ki Yemincha Peshuta Le’kabel Shabim” (…for Your right [hand] is outstretched to receive those who return). As we merit to come close to Hashem His right hand (compassion) draws us into His loving embrace.
Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to my Rivka bat Miriam z’l. May her memory be blessed and may her neshama bask in the Divine Shechinah among all the righteous who have departed from this world, Amen.
The power of teshuva is found in one’s mouth; by virtue of speech. When one speaks, she gives expression to her soul and awakens the G-dly spark within as written in Shir HaShirim, “My soul came forth when he spoke”. Indeed, true yearning is found in words spoken from a broken heart; to the point where one can find her soul about to part because of the pain caused by separation. The Gemara depicts this state in Ta’anit 8a where it is written, “A person’s prayer is not heard on high unless he places his soul in his hands.”
The mode of prayer by tzaddikim is to break open one’s heart and ask Hashem to bring him out of darkness to light. We are a stiff-necked nation and we should use this stubbornness to remain strong and firm in our tefillot. Rashi teaches that we must pray repeatedly until our prayers are accepted and plead with Hashem to bring us closer to Him.
It makes no difference whether we feel we are praying properly or not. Words express the emotions that need to come forth and find precious favor in Hashem’s eyes. In fact sighing and groaning while longing to come close is all it takes to open the door to one’s soul.
Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to my great uncle Ya’akov Picker ben Aharon z’l. May his memory be blessed and may his neshama bask in the Divine Shechinah among all the righteous who have departed from this world, Amen.
A Jewish King shares the heart and mind of the Jewish people. In that vein as servants the Jewish people should feel connected to their king and ‘naturally’ desire to do what the king asks. The Jewish King always has his people’s best interest in mind.
Being that Hashem is our King our minds should ‘think alike’ and our hearts should ‘feel’ the same. This perfect alignment draws down abundant blessings onto us and the Klal. In fact this is the concept of living with Mashiach; bringing into line our will with Hashem’s will. When the King rules His subjects must surrender to His governing. The collective soul-energy of one nation with one desire draws down immense Divine light into the world.
On Rosh Hashanah we surrender our soul to Hashem and accept Him as our King. During the ten days of teshuva we offer heartfelt prayers of regret over our sins; thereby giving our hearts to Hashem. On Yom Kippur we surrender our body by giving up food, drink and bodily pleasure.
As a result of the avodah we did in Elul, over Rosh Hashanah and B’H will do during the ten days, we completely surrender all three levels of our soul and merit to break down all barriers that might have separated us from bonding with Hashem.
Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated L’iluy nishmat Chava bat Chana a’h. May her soul bask in the Divine radiance among all the righteous who have departed from this world, Amen.
As we remove the negative traits we make room for Hashem’s love to enter and our desire to bond to Him increases. The reason being self-discipline is the tool which breaks the yetzer hara and breaks down the barriers that block Hashem’s presence.
The call of the teruah is not only the call of Hashem to us but also our call to Hashem. The tekiah is a long unbroken blast, the shevarim are three blows and the teruah is nine blasts. The tekiah represents a sigh of love, the shevarim symbolizes a sort of groan that comes before the tears and the teruah is similar to uncontrollable sobbing.
The teruah is seen as a fusion of love and awe which brings Klal Yisrael to sigh over the lack of revealed Kingship in this world.
The shevarim are felt in the form of Hashem great fiery love for us to which we let out groans and tears.
The teruah injects us with Hashem’s great love which causes us to love Hashem even more leading to a greater love between us.
The powerful sounds of the Shofar should fill us with awe mixed with great longing to return to Gan Eden where we felt Hashem’s closeness and love and never doubted His continuous presence.
Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Rav Yaakov ben Chaya Fradl Esther. May Hashem bless him 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 special feeling during the month of Elul and subsequent ten days of repentance. This atmosphere makes it easier for us to awaken the inner longing for attachment to Hashem. We should strive to feel “There is only You Hashem in this world.” This love is in concealment at this time, but it still exists.
The sounds of the shofar allude to love. This sound is meant to cause us to call out to Hashem and not chas v’Shalom to bring judgment on us. In fact the teruah expresses joy as it is closely related to the word hari’u, to shout for joy. The mystical books teach that although the sound of the Shofar reminisces a lament it causes Ahm Yisrael to draw Hashem’s love to them. Joy can also be released by shedding tears.
Rosh Hashanah is the only holiday which the moon is hidden. This hints to the idea that Hashem’s love is constricted. In spite of that our love for Hashem burns strong in our heart. In fact due to the experience of Hashem’s awe we become more aware of His presence.
The essence of Rosh Hashanah is not judgment but to awaken our desire to bond to Hashem. This can be learned by seeing the word teruah as related to the word reut, friendship and bonding. Through hearing the Shofar we merit uniting with Hashem in the most profound way.
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 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.
We may begin this month of Elul with our backs turned away from Hashem, wondering whether Hashem has ‘turned His back’ on us as well. Yet, if we turn around, we will see that Hashem is still facing us, with endless compassion, patience and grace.
Healthy relationships are built on unconditional giving, treating others’ needs as equivalent to our own. Unfortunately, our yetzer hara often puts the ‘me’ in front of the ‘you’, leading us to become frustrated or disappointed in life and how we are treated. Elul is the month to minimize our egos, this part of us that likes to ‘play G-d.’ Instead, we can strive to place Hashem’s needs before our own.
Hashem created teshuva before He created existence. He knows we are not perfect and that we need a method to ‘return’ to Him. The Zohar teaches that there are 3 powerful tefillot (all in Tehillim): tefilla l’Dovid, tefilla ;l’Moshe and tefilla l’Ani. Yet, even more exalted than the tefillah of Dovid HaMelech or Moshe Rabbeinu are the prayers of the “ish ani”, the downtrodden and broken-hearted man. Hashem considers a person who prays heartfelt words of desire to come back to Him and repair the damage he caused via his transgressions as the most beloved of all!
Despite the daunting nature of facing our sins and the spiritual work we may need to do during the days of Elul, embedded in this month is also a remarkable opportunity for closeness to Hashem. The energy of this month is represented by the words “Ani l’Dodi v’Dodi li” (I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is for me).
But why don’t we always feel and intense love and closeness to Hashem? Hashem is always yearning to be close to us. It is only our sins that block us from this closeness. During the year our egos blocks our hearts or souls and therefore we struggle to feel Hashem’s love for us and our love for Him. However, in Elul when we manage to confront our sins and admit our mistakes, we are humbling our egos and admitting “We need You Hashem in our lives. We can’t live without You anymore!” This ego-busting, humbling process of repentance serves as the most powerful force to clear the block between our hearts and Hashem.
Rav Kook ztk’l teaches that there is a flow of life force that emanates from the soul’s longing to purify the world. Our souls desire to do teshuva even while we transgress, since our soul knows the truth that constantly cleaving and connecting to Hashem is our greatest true desire. We want to trust in Hashem, yet we are in conflict when we feel we ‘need’ certain things that Hashem does not ‘give to us’. We think to ourselves, “Surely we know ourselves and our needs best?”
Actually, deep inside our neshamot know that Hashem knows best. Though our souls know what we need, we are blinded by our body. Hashem knows our needs better than we do. His restrictions are His way of protecting us. Hashem has infinite wisdom and is the Source of creation. As we increase our emuna, we repair our relationship with Hashem and learn to trust that He sees everything and knows what is in our bests better than we do.
Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Chaya Raizel bat Dina. 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.