Rabbeinu Bachaye explains that the Korban Olah is a Kapparah for bad thoughts. Bad thoughts are not embarrassing as we haven't carried out our plans. Everyone is guilty of having bad thoughts and our job is to suppress them. However the Chatas is for actual bad deeds.
In order not to shame the sinner, says Rabbeinu Bachaye, when he stands in the middle of the Bais HaMikdash in public, we stand him in the same place as the person who brings an Olah so no one will know if he is really guilty of crime or not.
If this is how careful the Torah is not to embarrass a sinner, we can understand how important it is not to embarrass someone who has done no wrong!]]>
Zimri was from the Dor Deiah. This generation lived 40 years in the desert subsisting on Man, heavenly food from Shamayim in simple conditions. They spent their days drinking with thirst the Torah of Hashem. Materialism did not enter anyone's mind. These people were on the level of Malachim. Zimri was not merely from the common folk of this generation, he was one of the leaders of Shevet Shimon. His mistake with Kasbi cannot be taken at face value. So what happened?
Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz explains that many great people erred because they saw the greatness of the future generations that would come from them. Korach saw Shmuel HaNavi as his future descendant, and was sure that he was more righteous than Moshe Rabbeinu. Achitofel saw that Shlomo HaMelech would come from his granddaughter Basheva, and assumed that he himself would be king and therefore rebelled against Dovid.
Zimri saw that a Nasi of Bnei Yisroel would marry a princess of Moav and an heir from their union would exact revenge on Moav. His mistake was that he was only the head of part of Shevet Shimon and not the Nasi of the Shevet. Similarly Kasbi was not the daughter of a proper King and she was also not worthy of this.
So who was this Nevuah talking about? It referred to Boaz who was the sole leader of his generation and Ruth who was the daughter of Eglon the King of Moav.]]>
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 550:2) says that it is permissible to shower (as well as the four other forbidden pleasures) on all fast days other than Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur.
The reason says the Mishna Brurah (6) is that when they accepted these Taaneisim upon themselves, they only accepted it for fasting, since all the stringencies of Tisha B'Av would be too difficult for the people to keep. Therefore, says the Mishna Brurah, a Baal Nefesh should keep the stringencies of Tisha B'Av on all the fasts (excluding not wearing shoes and Tashmish B'Lel Tevila).
When do these stringencies apply for those who keep them? The Shaar HaTziyon brings in the name of the Shelah HaKadosh that this applies from nightfall and not only the morning of the fast. The reason is, as the Mishah Brurah points out in (565:9), that although we stop eating only in the morning, the Taanis begins at night. Therefore a Baal Nefesh should abstain from all things prohibited on Tisha B'Av from nightfall according to the Shelah HaKadosh.
The Pischei Tshuvos points out that even those who are machmir on the stringencies of Tisha B'Av from the night before, do not stop eating and drinking the night before as it weakens the body and is not simply a matter of abstaining from pleasure.
Important Note: We bring this tshuvah as a starting point for discussion and not to convey any halacha. We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. One should learn the tshuva to verify the accuracy of our interpretation. Please understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.]]>
Matza is called poor bread as it is as basic as can be, made simply from water and flour. Why do we celebrate with poor bread on the night we are celebrating our freedom from slavery?
Rav Dessler says that the fact we left Mitzrayim with just matza to eat and the fact that we slept at night in simple huts, in a Succah, was not a product of our difficult circumstances. It was not because we were on the run and in a desert. It was because Hashem created for us the ideal situation. Nothing is beyond the capability of Hashem and He could have provided us with mansions along the way, with fine food and good wine. Our poor bread and simple huts were our plight because nothing could have been better for us!
We were chosen to be a Holy nation, that means exhibiting and apathy for worldly pleasure and becoming driven and exhilarated by spirituality. "Yaeh Aniyusa LiYisrael", poverty is befitting of Jews. "Lo Nitna Torah Elah L'Ochlei Mun", the Torah is only give to those whose diet is the heavenly Mun. Only those who are nourished by spirituality can absorb Torah properly.
Maybe the continuation of the Hagadah is following through on this thought. "Kol Dichfin Yeisei V'Yeichol", all those who are hungry should come and eat. We are not attached to our food and are able to give it out to those in need with a happy heart. "Kol Ditzrich Yeisei V'Yifsach", whoever needs should come and partake in Korban Pesach, in our spiritual feast.
Hashata Hacha, this year we are still in the galus of gashmiyus. Next year we should be zocheh to be in Yerushalayim and live heavenly lives on earth. Hashat Avdei, this year we are slaves to our desires. LaShana HaBa Bnei Chorin, next year we should be free people, soaring unchained from our physical impulses that misguide us.
The whole purpose of freedom from Mitzrayim was to receive the Torah. "Ein Licha Ben Chorin Elah Mi SheOsek BiTalmud Torah", only someone whose life is all about Torah is a truly free man. Just like our ancestors over three thousand years ago, as we embark on our journey towards freedom on the Seder night, we begin by preparing our food for the journey. Matza the free man's bread.]]>
The Gaon and Tzaddik Rav Yaakov Edelstein was one of the most uniques Gedolim of our generation. He was one of the great luminaries of the generation yet he was the Rav of a modern secular Israeli city, Ramat HaSharon. He was one of the great Mekubalim of the Dor, having learned the secrets of Kabbalah from the sacred "shoemaker" of Bnei Brak, yet he was an approachable Litvishe Dayan and Posek.
The last two years of his life were difficult ones where a series of illnesses left him without the capability to speak, and he communicated by writing. At one point he recovered enough that his caregivers felt they can teach him how to speak again.
The therapist asked him to write down the two words that he wanted to start with. Rav Yaakov wrote "Amen" and "Todah". Two words that say it all, Bein Adam LaMakom and Bein Adam Lachaveiro.
The famous Ramban at the end of Parshas Bo says that the underlying reason for every mitzva, and the reason for the entire creation, is for man to acknowledge Hashem as his creator. Amen is a short two syllable word that simply and succinctly accomplishes this mission. With your little Amen you justify your existence and the existence of the entire universe.
The same goes with the word Todah. People crave recognition. By thanking someone you give him recognition that he is worth something and that you need him. Nothing can satisfy him more. You acknowledge his importance in your world and the world at large. It is the essence of Bein Adam LaChaveiro.
It takes a gaon and a tzaddik to come up with something so simple and so brilliant, even as he struggles on his sickbed. Yehi Zichro Baruch!]]>
On the revered night of Lel HaSeder on Pesach we have a special mitzvah of Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim, telling the story of how we were rescued from Mitzrayim. Yet every day of the year we have what seems to be the same mitzvah of Zechiras Yetzias Mitzrayim, which we fulfill by mentioning it in Krias Shema. What makes Pesach special and what is the difference?
One of the answers given is that on Pesach we retell in detail the entire story and relive it as if it happened to us. To do this is not practical on a regular basis, nor would it be productive since it would lose its special excitement. Once we have done this on Pesach, it is sufficient each day to "remind" ourselves of what we spent hours discussing on Pesach night. All we need to do is make reference to it and we've accomplished our goal. That is why the mitzvah on Pesach is Sipur to "retell", while all year the mitzvah is "zechirah" simply a reminder.
Maybe we can add that on Pesach there is a Mitzvah to envision oneself leaving Mitzrayim. This is not just the a duty of the imagination. Many great people take it a step further and spend time discussing how Hashem rescued them from their own personal Mitzrayim.
Going through life we each have our own trials and tribulations and Pesach is a time to reflect on how at the time, we thought we would never see daylight, yet somehow things sorted themselves out and we are still standing. We have made it to another Pesach despite it all. We have much to thank Hashem each year on Pesach night. Just as he rescued our forefathers, even today He continues to rescue us in our darkest hour.
If we take advantage of Pesach and recognize Hashem's redemption in our own personal lives, then Zechiras Yetzias Mitzrayim each morning and evening takes on a new dimension. When we wake up to face another rough day we can take solace in the fact that we personally have witnessed Hashem rescue us when we thought there was no hope. And when we end a most difficult day that didn't turn out the way we needed it to, we comfort ourselves in knowing that Hashem is watching us and in due time it will all be for the good!]]>
Dovid HaMelech tells us in Tehilim (49:18) כִּי לֹא בְמוֹתוֹ יִקַּח הַכֹּל, when you die you won't take everything with you. The Gerrer Rebbe the Beis Yisroel asks, the word "everything" implies that some things you will take with you after death. but not everything.
This being the case, the pasuk cannot be referring to material objects, since you can't take "any" of your material items with you. Therefore he deduces that Dovid HaMelech is telling us we can't even take all our mitzvos with us. This seems strange. Why can't we take all of our mitzvos with us to Olam Haba? Why are they left behind in the material world?
The Gerrer Rebbe says the next few words of the pasuk reveal the answer. לֹא יֵרֵד אַחֲרָיו כְּבוֹדוֹ, his honor will not follow him to the world of truth, the eternal world. Any mitzva that was done for the sake of Kavod has no place in Shamayim, and will not go with you. These mitzvos will be left behind in the world that reveres Kavod. A world suited for them. You did it for the sake of benefiting in the material world, and in the material world they will remain forever.]]>
In the short list of qualifications for judges that Yisro told to Moshe Rabbeinu, two of them seem to be in conflict with each other. A judge must be an "Ish Chayil", a man of great means and stature, and "Sonei Botza" a person who hates money. How can we reconcile these two traits?
In order to do so we need to understand why money is the root of all evil. We must figure out why man has such a great desire for money. Why does it drive so many people and their life's quest? And moreover why is it so bad? Why does the Torah tell us that money corrupts?
Imagine your seven year old child coming to you one morning and asking for ten dollars. Why, you ask? The child answers that he wants to make sure that he will have enough food to eat for the day. You give the child a pat on his cheek and tell him not to worry, you will provide him with food, just like every other day and he need not worry. The next day the child asks for 0. Surprised you ask what for this time. He explains that with rising medical costs he wants to be covered in case he needs to see a doctor.
While this scenario is preposterous, the same goes for us in our relationship with Hashem. Hashem is our loving father who provides us with everything we need. We don't need oodles of money sitting in our bank account. Sure we need lots of money to get all the things we need to get through life, but those things are concrete and have a price tag, however money per se is totally useless.
Just like your child can come to you and say, Daddy I need new books, and toys, and snack, and and and, so to Hashem waits for us to turn to him to ask him to give us all the things we need both big and small. You can ask Hashem for a nice clothing and a new car, and you know what, he even appreciates it and will reward you for asking. Do you know why? Because your request is proof that you recognize that Hashem is the source and the sole provider.
In contrast, money promotes the exact opposite feeling. Money is abstract and with money in the bank you have a feeling of confidence that whatever arises in life, your money can bail you out. The bigger your bank account the more confident and independent you feel. No matter what calamity arises, with money you will prevail. HaKesef Yaaneh Es HaKol, money is the answer to everything. We want money because we want independence, namely independence from Hashem! The idea of having money and being independent of Hashem is just as silly as the notion of our seven year old child being independent of us.
Interestingly if you look at the things we ask for in Shmoneh Esrei, none of them can be purchased with money. With money you can buy lots of books and have a huge library but you cannot buy wisdom. You can afford the best doctors and medical care but you cannot buy health or longevity. You can't even buy prosperity for the next year. You can buy access to Gedolim, but you cannot buy a true relationship. You can buy a big house but not a happy home.
The judges needed to be men of means and stature to garnet respect from the people. But they were all Tzaddikim totally devoted to Hashem and therefore hated money. We see from here it is possible you can still be very rich and not be affected by money. Go ahead and spoil yourself to all the good things in life (although that isn't too healthy either but that is a different story), just don't lust after money itself because that will totally destroy you. If you are fortunate to have some extra hanging around put into good use so that it can bring you up rather than drag you down.]]>
Avraham was the father of our nation and Chazal teach us, "Maaseh Avos Siman LaBanim", what happened to our forefathers foretells what will happen to us. We put a lot of stock into every detail of Avraham's life as portrayed in the Torah, and we see how it is played out over and over again in our history. On an individual level Avraham instilled in our genes many wonderful traits. Most common among them is the Middah of Chesed and the ability to give our lives for our faith.
There is another aspect of Avraham's life that can give us the strength to pull through our darkest hours and biggest challenges in life. Avraham was given ten difficult tests and when he passed them all, Hashem declared that He now knows that Avraham is a Yirei Elokim. This was an amazing honor for Avraham to achieve.
Although I haven't seen it brought down anywhere, maybe as children of Avraham, in life we have ten tests we need to pass. When we pass those tests, Hashem will declare for all the Heavens and earth to hear that we, yes plain simple us, is a Yirei Elokim. While we are not Avraham Avinu, each one of on our own level faces many challenges in life. If we clear the hurdles, we made it!
We can't know what those ten tests are, and there are certainly many things we must do in between, but if we look at each big challenge we face in life as one of those opportunities to move to the next level, it will harden our determination as we don't want the opportunity to slip away.
We should all be zoche to answer Chazal's challenge to us, to ask ourselves, "Masai Higiu Maasai L'Maasei Avosai", when will my deeds reach the level of the deeds of my forefathers. When will we be confirmed as a Yirei Elokim?]]>
Rav Moshe Shternbuch says that we see from here that the most painful rebuke is not a good screaming at, but rather being forced to confront the truth. Yosef did not scream or threaten, rather he softly told them that he is their brother whom they tried to destroy. Upon seeing how wrong they were, they experienced the worst embarrassment of their lives.
Similarly says Rav Shterbuch in the name of the Baal Shem Tov HaKadosh,the pasuk in Tehilim says, "Kel Nekamos Hashem". At the end of time Hashem will avenge those who have sinned against him. How? The pasuk continues "Kel Nekamos Hofia". Hashem's revenge is simply to appear! After all of history when Hashem finally reveals Himself openly to the entire world, everyone will be be mortally embarrassed when they grasp the lowliness for each and every one of their sins.]]>
A man living in Vienna was struggling to support his family. He decided that his fortune lies overseas in the Guldineh Medina of America, so he bought a ticket travel there and start anew. While he was not one to run to Rebbes before making important decisions, he decided to heed his friends advice and go to the saintly Chortkover Rebbe for a Bracha before embarking on his new life.
He was greeted very cordially be the Rebbe who gave him a heartwarming bracha for his success. On his way out the Rebbe stopped him and said, "When you get to America please sends regards to Hashem." The man a bit befuddled turned to the Rebbe and asked, "Why? Is there a different Hashem in America then in Vienna?" The Rebbe then retorted and said, "If the same Hashem is in Vienna, why do you need to go America for Him to give you parnassa?"
[Ed. note the story as cited above is complete and nothing more needs to be added. For the sake of closure and for those who enjoy a good ending we will continue.] The man took the Rebbe's message to heart and decided to stay in Vienna, accepting the loss of the money he spent on the boat ticket to America. The name of the boat was "The Titanic".
Important Note: Stories are not checked for factual accuracy and are told as heard and remembered through the generations. It is the lesson that can be learned from the stories that we strive to pass on.
Rosh HaShanah is the day the world was created and Hashem became King. Every year on this day we coronate the King anew. Why is Rosh HaShanah a day of judgement? The pasuk in Mishlei says, "Melech BaMishpat Yamid Eretz", the main function of a King is to maintain order in the land. Therefore the first order of business is to see where each citizen stands and what will be his fate.
It is brought down in the Zohar and other places that one should not make personal requests on Rosh HaShanah, for it is a disgrace to the King. Our entire focus should be on the glory of the King and His coronation. We should concern ourselves with what we can do for Hashem, and not what we'd like Hashem to do for us.
Yet Rav Yisroel Salanter and most gedolim today say that we may make personal requests, for in our generation most of us are not on the level that we can truly say that we spend the day in awe of Hashem's glory. At least by asking for personal requests we show that we acknowledge that Hashem is the King, and to Him we turn for help.
Rav Leib Chasman explains with a Mashal. On the day of the King's coronation a royal banquet was held. All the ministers were present, and the magnificently decorated hall inspired awe, glory, and fear. During the ceremony a pauper dressed in rags, who somehow managed to sneak by security, runs up to the king and starts screaming that he has no food to eat and he is desperate for some potatoes for his family. The guards pounced on him at once and removed him. Yet even as the ceremony resumed the mood and atmosphere had soured and the prior glory was not restored.
In a similar but very different version of the story the pauper throws himself at the King's feet and says my master my king, my family has been impoverished and suffering for years. We have tried every avenue to extract ourselves from this situation to no avail. Your are the all powerful, and we know you to be kind and merciful. We are all your loyal subjects, and you and only you can help us. Our lives are in your hands alone, and we give our entire being to your service. Please have mercy!
Beyond all the glamour of the event, this moment is the true coronating moment of the king!]]>
In ten days from now we will standing in Shul at the pinnacle of Tefila of the year, Musaf of Rosh HaShanah. And what will we be saying with tremendous Kavana? None other than Aleinu L'Shabeiach! Yes, the tefila that ends every davening, which we usually say when we are physically or mentally halfway out the door.
Rav Hai Gaon writes that Aleinu should be said with your head covered because the praise of Aleinu to our Creator is unequalled among all other praises and is the greatest praise in the world. The Rokei'ach writes that Aleinu is the Shir HaShirim, the song of all songs and we should concentrate with our whole being when singing it to Hashem, for it is "Mifuar, uMihudar, uMiutar, uMikudash, uMirumam" glorious, beautiful, the crowning jewel, holy, and elevated. The Mishna Brura says that when we say Aleinu, Hashem stands with His entire Heavenly entourage and answer Ashrei Ha'am.." fortunate are the people!
A look into the history of each nation and each people will reveal that they were each built on corruption and immoral pursuits and ideals. Proof of this is each nation's ultimate demise. Their rotted foundation crumbled and left a pile of rubble with not enough true substance to recover and rebuild. A deeper understanding of history will make you feel truly privileged to be Jew, a servant of Hashem and an adherent to His Torah.
In Europe during the Holocaust there were Yeshivos who danced to their killing field carrying their Sefer Torah and singing Aleinu. Even as they were being marched out to their death by their bloodthirsty tormentors they felt like they were the fortunate and victorious nation.
The Ramban says our laxness in the way we say Aleihu is a prime example of what Chazal say that "Kol HaMikudash MeiChaveiro" anything that is holier than his friend, "Charev Yoseir MeiChaveiro" is destroyed more than his friend.
On Rosh HaShanah we will all daven with great Kavana and say every syllable of Aleinu with deep feeling. But what about today and what about Erev Rosh HaShanah, and even Maariv Rosh HaShanah night? If we disappoint the Malachim the entire year, three times a day, can we really expect them to show up and be impressed when we wake up on Rosh HaShanah? If we wake up a minute before it is too late, our Rosh HaShanah can be completely different.]]>
The Medrash (Shmos Rabba 29:9) says that when Hashem gave the Torah the birds did not chirp, the oxen did not bellow, the Ofanim did not soar, the Serafim did not say "Kadosh", the waves of the sea did not crash, no creature spoke. The world was completely silent as Hashem said "Anochi".
The gemara (Shabbos 89a) says that after Moshe took the Torah from Shamayim, the Satan asked Hashem, where has the Torah gone. How can it be that the entire creation stood still as they witnessed the giving of the Torah, yet the Satan, who is a Malach and is privy to what is happening in Heaven, completely missed the entire episode? All the nations of the world heard it in four languages as the foundations of the world shook, and the Yetzer Hara didn't notice?
Rav Chaim Zaitchek elaborates on Tosfos's answer and explains that the Torah is light and during Matan Torah the light of the Torah flooded our otherwise dark world. The world shone like never before and never again. Every creature was exposed to this light and saw the truth for a single moment in time. However the Satan is the epitome of darkness, as that is his entire being. His purpose is to cast darkness on the world and cover the light of the truth. This being, so no light, however bright, can turn on the light for the Satan, for then he would cease to be.
When a person casts himself in the dark, even if the truth stares him in the face he won't see it. It is up to us to step out of the darkness and allow the light to shine in. Our goal on Shavuos is to open our eyes and bask in the beauty of the Torah, its commandments and its way of life. Once we see the light, we will think twice before turning back. דרכיה דרכי נועם וכל נתיבותיה שלום]]>
Why must one go specifically to a Kohen when he sees a potential Tzoraas? Why can he not go to any Talmid Chochom who has mastered the halachos of Nega'im?
Rav Itzele Volozhin says that the five kinds of tzoraas is a result of five fundamental sins. Tzoraas on one's body comes from overindulging in bodily desires. Tzoraas of Begadim is a result being obsessed with external beauty and constantly running after new clothing. Tzoraas of the head is caused by bad character, corrupt thinking, and haughtiness. Tzoraas in the beard is for sins of the mouth such as Lashon Hara and mockery. Lastly Tzoraas on the walls of one's home, where one is required to remove all his possessions, and ultimately destroy the house, is a punishment for chasing after wealth and possessions.
A person afflicted with tzoraas does not need someone to treat his nega, he needs someone who can heal his mind and soul. While any expert can distinguish a tamei nega from a tahor one, only a Kohen, the Ish HaChesed and the embodiment of Ahavas Yisroel, can get into the head of the Mitzora and help him climb out of his misery and make him whole again.]]>
There is a Mitzva to daven to Hashem for all your needs. The Anshei Knesses HaGedola created a standard Nusach for Shmoneh Esrei, to cover all the essentials. Nevertheless Hashem still wants to hear our personal requests from our heart, especially since Shmoneh Esrei, that is repeated three times a day is often said by rote.
How and when is this done? The Shulchan Aruch (OC 119) mentions three places in Shmoneh Esrei where perosnal tefilos can be added. First, and best, is during each bracha, where one can make a personal request which is related to that bracha. There are a few rules one should know before doing this.
- One must start with the Nusach of Chazal, and only then insert their personal tefila.
- The tefila should be personal and not for the Tzibbur.
- It is preferable to add things right before the Chasima (Boruch Ata) but then to add words after that match the Chasima.
- One should only add requests that are for now and not for the future. For example if a person needs parnasa he can ask, but a wealthy person should not ask Hashem to let his wealth continue.
- It preferable to add a Tefila in Lashon Kodesh, but the most important thing is that it should come from the heart, in any language he can communicate.
- The request should be succinct.
- One should not add a tefila that he says all the time, since it will look like he is adding to the Nusach of the davening. At the very least he should skip any additional tefilos once a week.
Although the best time to ask personal requests are during the relevant Bracha, during the bracha of Shomei'a Tefila one can ask whatever he wants, including request for the future and the tzibbur, but he should still keep it to a minimum. Lastly one may add personal tefilos after Yihiyu L'Ratzon and add as much as his heart desires!]]>
Chazal tell us (Yuma 21a) that the Aron HaKodesh took up no space in the Kodesh HaKedashim. If you measured from each side of the Aron to the wall, you would get the total of the entire area, with no space left for the area the Aron sat on. This was a great Nes.
Rav Moshe Feinstein in Darash Moshe asks, if the Aron which held the Luchos took no space then certainly the Luchos themselves should warrant such a miracle and take no space. Yet the Gemara in Bava Basra (14a) tells us specifically that the Luchos filled up the entire space inside the Aron.
We learn from here, says Rav Moshe, a very important lesson. A person must be like the Aron Kodesh. He must fill up his entire being with Torah. If he leaves any part of himself lacking Torah and does not learn the Torah in its entirety, then he will be "missing something" and will be rendered incomplete.
However after he has filled himself with Torah he needs to act with total modesty. He needs to take the major heft that he has imbued himself with, and act as if he takes up no space. And on the flip side he must also realize that the precious Torah he has filled himself with, is "Kulo Ruchni" pure spirituality, and stands above any boundaries and space in this world.]]>
Chazal tell us that at first Hashem started to say the Dibros, but His voice caused the Neshamos of Bnei Yisroel to leave their bodies. Hashem then brought them back to life by sprinkling them with dew. Why did Hashem do this? He obviously knew they would not survive and would die at the foot of the mountain before Kabalas HaTorah.
When Hashem created the world he looked into the Torah which was the blueprint. All creation, all wisdom, and all morality come from the Torah. The world is simply an illusion meant to deceive us and tempt us away from the Torah. Any morality in the world not consistent with the Torah is not true morality but rather corruption cloaked in morality.
Any person raised on worldly values cannot truly embrace and fully embody Torah until he rids himself of his worldly values and begins anew. Rather than learn from the Torah how one should live his life, instead he will try to read his preconceived notions into the Torah. This would be not only a corruption of his own life, but he would corrupt the Torah as well in order to suit his needs.
Bnei Yisroel after centuries of Egyptian exile and absorbing their mentality, could not continue to exist in their current state when confronted with pure unadulterated Torah. After "dying" and eradicating their existing notions, Hashem sprinkled them with the "Tal Torah". He brought them back into existence with a clear slate, on the basis of Torah. Only then did Hashem hand over His precious Torah to the descendents of his beloved followers.]]>
Kavod, we know, is something to run away from. Kavod corrupts, the quest for kavod destroys everything. So how is it that not only are we permitted to give others kavod, but we are encouraged and even demanded to do so? What about Lifnei Iveir, is there a pill more poison than kavod?
Rav Meir Chadash the Chevron Mashgiach and Talmid of the Alter of Slabodka explains with a Mashal (not exact but this is the gist of it). A poor fellow approaches a wealthy member of the community and asks him for a loan to start a business. The rich man tells him that he'd love to help, but before doing so he needs to ask some questions. What will you use the money for? How can I be sure you won't use it for the wrong purpose? How will your business grow from it? After hearing his answers and being satisfied with them, the rich man writes him a check for the amount he requested.
Six months later the rich man calls the poor man and asks him how business is, and if he ready to repay the loan. "Baruch Hashem business is great and I have the funds to pay back the loan as agreed", replies the borrowers. "However" he adds, "before writing you a check I have a few questions to ask you. What will you do with the money..."
This is almost laughable! When you give someone something out of the generosity of your heart you can ask all the questions you want. But when you give something to someone that you owe him and it belongs to him, you don't ask any questions.
Kavod is not a treat you give your friend based on the generous spirit in your heart. You owe everyone Kavod! Everyone is a Tzelem Elokim and the Kavod is theirs. So when you pay your dues, don't be so brazen to start asking too many questions. Give it to them with a smile and move on!]]>
Marrying off your children is probably one of the greatest challenges a person goes through in this world. If you live in Eretz Yisroel and are looking for a top learning boy, it will require astronomical sums by any standards and certainly for the average member of the frum community in Eretz Yisroel, even if they are working baalei batim. Most people are lucky to earn enough to get through the month. Even if one can save, how much can they possibly save? This is the hurdle after the engagement, and of course there are no shortage of hardships and challenges finding a the right boy and getting everyone to say yes.
But that is not it! That is not the aspect of Shidduchim that is actually difficult. That is the easy part, since it really has nothing to do with us. This is Hashem's job. "Hakosh Baruch Hu Yosheiv U'Mizaveg Zivugim." Parnasa is not in our hands either, it comes from Hashem.
So what makes Shiduchim so difficult then? Aren't we on this world to be challenged and to grow? Why does Hashem make Shiduchim such an energy spending force in our best years? Why distract us from working on true growth? The answer is that Shiduchim poses great challenges to us, as one of life's most important missions is to develop emunah, to understand that we are not in control. Marrying off children is the perfect vehicle for Hashem to teach us this lesson. Only the most arrogant can come out of it still believing that their destiny, and the destiny of their children, is in their own hands. The lesson is not only learned on the way to the Chupah, but continues to reverberate for years afterwards, as you deal with your young couple and your Michutanim whom you were sure you checked out down to the last T. The lessons in emunah taught through this process can't be learned anywhere else.
When a younger person starting shidduchim for their kids asks an older person how he managed to marry off children, the answer is always the same. "Don't ask me how I managed. I did it somehow, but unfortunately, what happened with me is a crazy story and it is not relevant to you." Someone once asked Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman why don't see open miracles in our day. He responded by looking around the room and asking, "Has anyone here ever married off a daughter?" No one needed to raise their hand, his point was self understood!
Kasheh Zivugan Shel Adam K'Krias Yam Suf. Kashem Parnasa Shel Adam K'Krias Yam Suf. Splitting the sea, marrying off children, and earning a living are all so hard. Yes indeed it is hard to see bleakness before your eyes with no earthly way out, yet somehow believe in a Hashem who you cannot see or hear, who can't in your mind be smart enough to figure it all out, when you know you are at a dead end with no solution in sight.
No one escapes the challenge of Shiduchim. For those who have already bought into this reality it is an exercise to push them to their limits as they give their guts, and sweat out the long uphill road to its successful happy conclusion. For others it becomes a road littered with painful lessons, twisting and turning their world from side to side, as they endure hardship and bewilderment at every turn, until they too come to accept the truth that awaits them at the end of the road. Either way it's a road you have no choice but to travel, and it will take you to a beautiful place.
Hatzalacha & Besoros Tovos!]]>