Sanctify yourself through the permissible... Yevamos 20a

Divrei Torah to provide Chizuk in the struggle to balance spiritual and physical needs.

L'Iluei Nishmas Mirkah Bas Yosef

Monday, November 29, 2010

Chanukah is special time for our Tefilos.

When we light the Chanukah candles and say the Bracha, "L Hodos u L'Hallel" our thanks and praises create an Eit Ratzon, a time when we are especially close to Hashem.  We should use this time to ask Hashem for special requests.

from the Shiur on Naaleh: Chanukah: Inner and Outer Connection

Teacher: Mrs. Shira Smiles

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The light of Chanukah is the light of appreciation.

Chanukah is a time of giving thanks. Part of giving thanks is keeping quiet.  If we really appreciate everything that Hashem gives us, we will understand that every thing that happens to us is for our good. Our ability to know how to use our mouth, and not  to complain and speak improperly creates Kedusha.  The power of silence is that it is a tool for building inner knowledge.  There are no words to express the deepest ideas. By controlling our mouths we are opening ourselves up to inner knowledge. When we think that we can express anything we want, we are acting as though we have the ability to express anything and we lose our ability to use silence to understand deeper depths. 

On Chanukah we can use silence as a tool for gaining spiritual insights. When we light the candles we are lighting a spark in our own soul.  We can use this spiritual spark to see how much we have received from Hashem.  The light of Chanukan is the light of clarity of being able to see all of the gifts that Hashem has given us. 

Chanukah: Inner and Outer Connection

Teacher: Mrs. Shira Smiles

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Harbeh Shluchim L’Makom.

 If you are not getting what you think you deserve from a person , Hashem can find a different person to give it to you, and if Hashem doesn’t think that you should have it then it is better that you shouldn’t have it. Get rid of the illness called Resentment.

from: Depend Solely on G-d

Teacher: Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller Class: Bitachon: Meaning of Trust on Naaleh

Friday, November 26, 2010

Make Hashem your best friend.

Everyone has times in their lives when they are alone.  These are the times to work on making Hashem our best friend.  They times are for a purpose, they are times of growth, times of connection to Hashem.  We develop our relationship with Hashem by doing Mitzvot with passion.
from: Depend Solely on G-d
Teacher: Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller Class: Bitachon: Meaning of Trust on Naaleh

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Philosophy of Food

Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin writes that the primal desire of man is to eat of the forbidden. Adam and Eve succumbed to that desire, and as a result it has remained predominant in the human psyche since that eventful day.
Philosophy of Food  by Rabbi Binyomin Forst   on aish.com

The only difference between hope and despair is a good night's sleep.

One of my daughters brought this saying home from school and at times it is a lifesaver.  Yesterday was a very hard day.  I was in a bad mood.  I was afraid that I would do something that I would regret (pick up).  So I went to bed early.  It is much easier to face some problems after a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Struggle For Simcha

When we feel that we’re missing something, we often feel sad. A Jew’s soul naturally thirsts for spirituality. Filling this void with material things only creates a false sense of happiness. We need to ask ourselves, “How much do I enjoy Torah and mitzvot and developing a connection with Hashem?” If we don’t feel a bond with our Creator, then there is no desire to create beauty and joy in the relationship. We need to work on bringing Hashem into our personal lives and infusing our avoda with passion and enthusiasm.  When we have an awareness of where we come from, our achievements and goals, and where we are ultimately headed, then we can begin to understand the purpose of life.

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Mrs. Shira Smiles

Monday, November 22, 2010

Don't fall into temptation.

Last night I went to a Shiur by Rebbetzin Heller. she was talking about overcoming Nisyonot.  She pointed out that when Yosef was in Potifar's house and Potifar's wife wanted him, he thought that he had failed the test because he wanted her too.  Despite the fact that he thought that he had failed the test, he did not give in and fall into temptation further.  He strengthened himself with the image of his father and didn't give in.  He could have said, " I failed the test, the sin is even just wanting her, and I did want her, so I might as well do whatever I want since I failed the test" but he didn't do this, he realized that even when you do something wrong you should stop then and there and not do anything else wrong.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Henei Mah Tov

I just returned from an OA Shabboton.  I was so moved by the Achdus. warmth and caring that was shown by every "branch " of Orthodox Judaism from the most modern to the most chasidic.  It was a remarkable experience to see the way that everyone treated each other. 

At the end of the Shabbaton when close to 200 women formed a big circle and sang Henei Mah Tov together, it felt like we had all become united as one group without divisions.

When you stop and think that most of the ladies in the Shabboton have made a dramatic change in their health and their lives, that is a very impressive accomplishment!

The Importance of "Little things"

This Shabbos was the Yahrzeit of my mother, Mirka Bas Yosef (who I have dedicated this blog to), please have her in mind when you read this Devar Torah.

Yakov went back to retreive the small pots that had been left behind.  We learn from this that the Chachamim value their possessions.  This may not seem to make sense, why should a few small possessions be so important?  The answer is that everything that Hashem gives us, was given to us to use for a reason, and can be a means to attaining kedusha.  If we value everything that we own, we will be able to make the most of all of the gifts that Hashem gives us and we will be able to grow more spiritually.

from a Siyum by Reb Yakov Pascal in memory of Mirka Bas Yosef

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fighting the idols of our time

When Benei Yisrael were in Mitzrayim they had to tie a lamb to the bedpost.  This was a major act of defiance because it was the Avodah Zarah of the Mitzrim.  In our times we have to fight the avodah zarah of secular society, whether it is "Hello Kitty" or other pop figures.

from a Shiur on Kol Haloshon by Rebbetzin Kalmonovitz

For a real pick me up listen to:

"HaSimcha Tamid BaLev" - Erez Levanon, HY"D


This CD suddenly showed up on my mp3, I forgot how much I love this song.  It never fails to make me feel better.  Follow this link, it will let you play the song.

for  more about him go to:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Self control as a path of spiritual growth.

Last night I was at my regular shiur about Tefilah (by a Rebbetzin who does not want to be quoted) based on the book by Rabbi Shimshon Pinchus about Tefilah.  We were learning about the idea of Amidah- standing before Hashem.  Our teacher said that the more that we nullify our body the closer that we come to Hashem. 
 This morning I got up early to weigh a lot of portions of food for the future.  Sometimes it is very difficult to weigh out 8 ounces of vegetable and have to put that extra onion back, but I realized this morning that every time I put back that extra piece of vegetable, I am exercising self control that is nullifying my self and bringing me closer to Hashem.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If you want to be a real nonconformist in today's society-conform.

  Today's society values relative truth and each person doing what they think is right.  In today's world it is important to accept Hashem's rule and truth despite outside influences.
We have to accept the challenge of accepting Hashem's agenda for us and not our own.

from the Shiur-Discovering your personal freedom from Rabbi Yitzchack Berkowitz

This morning my OA literature talked about how everyone's truth is relative, I was glad to have this insight from Rabbi Berkowitz to keep me grounded.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Following Hashem's agenda

Unfortunately many children view school as something that they have to tolerate, and find a way to beat the system.  Instead of trying to grow and learn in school they are busy trying to find ways of getting by.

Even more unfortunately many adults look at life this way.  Instead of looking for ways to grow and become a better person they are looking for ways to beat the system.

Everything that happens in our lives is from Hashem to help us reach perfection and shlaimus.  We have to follow Hashem's agenda for us and not our own.  Much of the suffering in our lives comes from our refusal to see life in Hashem's terms instead of our own.

from a Shiur on Aish.com by Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz

Saturday, November 13, 2010

One small step

"Let us return to the words of the Vina Gaon: "One who goes in the ways of Hashem must go gradually, step by step. The key word is: gradually. One rung at a time. A person's task is, whatever spiritual state he is in, to take one step further, only the little bit the he can maintain now, and he should keep up this one addition constantly until he becomes accustomed to it, and then he can move on. This is exactly what Hakadosh Baruch Hu expects of him-that he should do what he is capable of now."

from the Mishpacha Magazine 27th of Elul 5770 page 19 Rabbi Moshe Grylak

This Shabbos I happened on this old Mishpacha magazine and opened to this page. It really spoke to me. Sometimes it is frustrating to look at all of the accomplishments that we wanted to gain and didn't. This reminder that we have to focus on small steps was very important to me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The greatest pleasure.

 Physical pleasure is short lived. People think that it is self love to give themselves physical pleasure. But being and having are not the same thing. Real connection is the real happiness. This is a spiritual pleasure. Spiritual connection is the greatest pleasure.

from a Shiur by Rebbetzin Heller

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The dual focus of a Jew.

When Yaakov overcame the angel of Esav, the angel called him Yisrael. Yaakov implies a narrow focus while Yisrael connotes openness. A Jew must maintain a dual focus. Sometimes it is microscopic, such as
focusing detailed attention to halacha. Sometimes it is telescopic, assuming the responsibility of spreading Hashem’s word to the world. In Parshat Yitro, when Hashem commands Moshe to speak to the women,
He said, “Thus you should speak l’bait Yaakov, to the house of Yaakov” because women are meant to focus on the internal part of Torah. The rest of the Jewish people are Yisrael. As much as Torah is for us, we
need to influence others externally through our example and teachings.

from: Parshat Vayeitzei: A Holy Nation

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur on Chassidut by Rabbi Hershel Reichman

In today's world women often have to focus on both sides of the equation, which is a difficult task.  We need to seek balance.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sometimes the truth is scary.

from Lazer Beams

Another tool for fighting resentment.

Hashgacha Pratis: today's quote from Rabbi Lazer Brody is another was of fighting resentment.  If you focus on all the things in your life to be grateful for you will not be able to focus on your resentments.
Quote of the Day
"A bitter person is never grateful, but a grateful person is never bitter." Lazer Brody, Stop Crying CD  http://lazerbrody.typepad.com/

Resentment Poisons our Neshamah

I have been very aware lately of the negative effects of resentment.  It is a poison that we take when we don't realize that we have to accept Hashem's plan for ourselves and not our own plans.  We have to realize that everything that happens in this world is coming directly from Hashem for a reason, so there is no reason to resent anything.  This post from frumstepper  http://frumstepper.blogspot.com/  is so good that I wanted to share it:

Resentment? Poisoning Ourselves

From 24 Hours a Day, Nov. 7: " When we try to get revenge, instead of making us feel better, it leaves us frustrated and cheated. Instead of punishing our enemies, we've only hurt our own peace of mind. It does not pay to nurse a grudge, it hurts us more than anyone else.... If we are resentful, we will be resented."

There are some good sayings about resentment: 1.Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die, and 2. Resentment is letting others live rent-free in your head.

Both of these say it all. When we resent someone, the only one to suffer is us. The other person usually has no clue as to the whole dialogue and script that is going on in our heads. We have written an entire play, which we go over and over, adding elaborate comments and replies, but we are the only audience to this. The person who is the main character (other than ourselves) has no idea about all of this. We allow this to niggle away at us day after day, month after month, year after year, until it literally eats a hole into our souls. Likewise, it's like taking poison and waiting for someone else to drop dead from it. The one who is hurt is us! Not only this, but we present ourselves as bitter, angry people (which is true!) and others will not want to be around us. If we share this "script" with our friends, they may wonder when they will be next in our line-up of hated people. It really is a poison that trickles into our bloodstream, destroying us in the processes.

Giving up these resentments might seem harder than it actually is. Learning how to let things go, how to see the good in others, and to be able to see that they are not bad people, though they might have behaved badly in some instance , being able to to look at ourselves and to understand that it is usually our own pride and stubbornness that has gotten in the way- these are all things that can be helpful in dropping the resentments that are our own stumbling blocks to healing and to happiness.

The question is: can we see that holding on to resentments does not really hurt the other person, and is actually destroying us instead? That is certainly a good motivation for practicing this new way of being. In our 12 step program, we learn how to "clean up our own side of the street
, and not to cling to our perceptions of having been "wronged" by others. It's simply not worth all the effort expended and all the pain it is causing (to us!!). Try it, and tell me if I'm wrong!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In life we have to cross a very narrow bridge. The most important thing is not to be afraid. [Likutey Moharan II, 48 - Rebbe Nachman of Breslov]

The following is from the letters of Reb Noson of Breslov:

All your downheartedness and depression is just another barrier that has set itself in your path which must be broken. Above all, you must work to break depression, which is more harmful than anything else. Gevalt! Do not be afraid, my beloved son! Do not be afraid! G-d really is with you! Remember what our master, teacher and Rebbe said: "G-d is great and we have no comprehension at all of His greatness. G-d stands by each of you, wherever you may have fallen. There is a phenomenon whereby everything turns into good, for His greatness is unfathomable.

I spoke once with someone and asked him "Were you the first person born?" [Job 15:7] This is what Job's friends asked him in response to his bitter complaint.

Rashi explains their question as "Were you born before Adam, the first man, so that you are in a position to know what has happened to every person in the world?"

Each person can apply this thought to whatever he is going through, be it in connection with his physical needs and livelihood, or with regard to his own personality traits and behaviour. Were you born before Adam, the first man, that you understand what is behind what every person goes through?

The whole reason a person is placed in this world is to go through all that he must! He must be as strong and as solid as a rock to bear everything in life. Whatever a person experiences, he must hope and yearn and wait for G-d, and under no circumstances should he despair of G-d's mercy.

from the blog


Defining our needs

Every morning in the morning Brochas we thank Hashem for giving us what we need, and for giving us strength, among the other important things in our lives.  It is amazing how important it is for us to really define our needs.  Rebbetzin Heller says that if we don't have what we think we need for ourselves or our families,  either we didn't need it, or it is going to come from another source.

Now that have been on OA for overy a year, I am learning that I can live with much less then I used to think that I needed.  I am grateful to Hashem for giving me the strength to follow the food plan that has allowed me to redefine my needs.  Learning to eat in moderation has brought me to redefine my needs in life, and helped me to become more confident in my ability to control other aspects of my life. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

How do we define ourselves?

Chazal tell us that if forty days go by without any discomfort, it is a sign that a person is receiving his olam haba in this world. This world is physical and the next world is transcendental. Therefore, a person who is emotionally attached to physicality is not ready for the next world.

Using gashmiut is good, defining yourself as physical is bad. 

from  Rebbitzin Tzipora Heller on Suffering

On Parole

In this week's parsha Toldos, we read about the blessings which Yitzchok blessed his son Yaakov. These blessings apply, of course, not only to Yaakov but also to the Jewish people for eternity. One of the blessings is "Cursed is everyone who curses you, and blessed is everyone that blesses you." (Bereishis 27:29) As more details on the story of an Arab ex-convict on his way to converting to Judaism are revealed, the more astonishing it becomes. The following true story which is currently on-going, will inspire us all to see the great lengths non-Jews are going through to join the blessed nation.

Yaniv Ben-David, an Arab from the territories and Haifa whose official name until recently was Busmon Abu-Ras, found Judaism and Hashem while serving a 12-year term in prison. The full miraculous story has come out in three interviews, including one with Arutz-7’s Hizky Ezra and another on Radio Kol Chai with the head of the Civil Administration, Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, known as "Poli."

Yaniv’s speech is liberally sprinkled with “May Hashem’s Name be blessed” and the like, as if he had grown up all his life in a traditional Sephardic neighborhood. But in actuality, his story is very different. Without getting into details, he explains that he became involved in criminal activity of which today he is very ashamed, but that once in jail, no one in his family ever visited him. “My crime was not related to terrorism, Heaven forbid, chas veshalom,” he says, “but I don’t want to discuss it.”

“Some of the Jews in prison with me,” he relates, “began talking to me, and said things like, ‘There’s something special about you, something that doesn’t seem to belong to that world that you came from... You seem to have a spark of Jewishness... Specifically, one very special guy began teaching me about Judaism, and little by little, I began to enter the world of holiness and Torah and the Chosen Nation, etc., may Hashem’s Name be blessed...”

At the same time, however, that he was undergoing changes in his religious outlook and identity, the prison authorities were preparing him for another change: Early release from jail, back into the areas of the so-called "Palestinian Authority" – where he knew there were many who would seek to kill him for his connections with Jews and Israelis.

Here’s where Providence stepped in. Gen. Mordechai relates: “I was driving shortly before midnight on Route 443 to Modiin where I live, when I saw a strange sight at the checkpoint, and I stopped; apparently, everything is truly from Heaven. I saw this young man, Yaniv, crying and sobbing at the checkpoint, and he told me an amazing story – of how he had come close to Judaism while in prison, and how all his requests and pleas to be recognized as a former prisoner whose life would be endangered in the PA were turned down, including from the Supreme Court. I had trouble believing this, but I saw him quoting Biblical verses and all... Meanwhile, he was stuck at the checkpoint; the soldiers wouldn't let him cross, and he refused to enter the PA. I did some quick checking with the social worker in the prison and with the prison rabbi, and they said very complimentary things about him, such as that he had been released for good behavior, and how sincere he was... I had no immediate solution for him, but I was able to have him brought to a nearby IDF base for a couple of days, and then, after some not-simple struggles with the Shabak and other bodies, we were able to find a place for him...”

Yaniv is now studying and living at a yeshiva in Jerusalem, whose name and location he will not disclose.

Both Gen. Mordechai and Yaniv do not cease to express their amazement at the Divine providence of the story. Yaniv said, “Poli is truly an agent of Hashem, blessed be His Name, sent specifically to save me. He is a true tzaddik [righteous person]...” Asked what he would have done had Poli not happened by at that time, he said, “I would have waited there all night, and put on my tefillin in the morning...”

“I was standing there at the checkpoint, I saw two Arabs coming close to me – I was afraid not only for my life, but even more that maybe they would take my tefillin! For them to take my holiness, the holiness of Hashem, I couldn’t take it!.. But I said, If Hashem wants me to put on tefillin next to these Arabs, I’ll do it! I stood and screamed out, Shma Yisrael, Hear O Israel, Hashem is our Hashem, Hashem is One!”

“...And then Hashem sent Poli to save me. I had already been rejected by all the courts, and I went to the synagogue and said, ‘Hashem, thank You for all you have given me – the good and the bad. If this is Your will, that I return and have to die for the Sanctification of Your Name, then I’ll do it... But Hashem sent the general Poli; Hashem never abandons anyone who doesn’t abandon Him, Blessed be His Name forever.”

Yaniv, who is towards the end of his formal conversion process, says he does not know exactly when he will become an official Jew. "Meanwhile, I'm enjoying learning Talmud, praying, etc... When I pray the Amidah, it is not from this world; I see lights..." He acted as the gabbai (sexton) of the prison synagogue. “Gathering people for the prayers, setting up the prayer books – this is where I feel my holiness, this is my blood, this is my life, nothing else, may Hashem’s Name be blessed.”

He related, as well, that he was forced to withstand many difficult situations in prison: “Hashem sent me many tests, but I believe that, with His help, may He be blessed, I was able to stand up to them.” On the day of his release, the deputy commander of the prison, a Bedouin, wanted to cut off his peyos - sidelocks – customarily grown long by religious Jews. “I told him, without fear: You can kill me, you can do anything you want – but no one will ever touch my payos, my holiness. I didn’t care about anything; it was unthinkable that I would lose my holiness, my payos... How could it be that someone wanted to take my holiness!”

Yaniv related that when he first began to observe Jewish customs in jail, “there were some goyim there [Arabs] who mocked me, and even threatened me. I couldn’t understand those people, that nation: I find something for my soul, why should they care? ... But I was not afraid. I felt that I would rather die to sanctify Hashem's name, than not be observant.”

He said that he hopes to continue studying in Yeshiva, and in the future, to possibly give lectures about Judaism and Torah: “The Jewish people – for some reason, I just don’t know why - many of these holy people don’t observe Hashem’s will. I hope I can help them to truly return to Hashem, and bring the Messiah – who is here, by the way; as soon as everyone observes two Shabboses he will be revealed... This is a very difficult generation, a very, very hard generation, Hashem knows, there are very strong temptations. But the place in which stands someone who returns to Hashem, even a righteous person cannot stand..."

"I want to tell all of Israel: Just like a convert loves Hashem with all his heart – I do His will with all my heart, He performed great kindnesses for me, and I serve Him with all my essence, with perfect faith and with serenity, even though I went through many tests – so too Hashem loves Israel... Hashem took care of me. Hashem never abandons anyone; we just have to try to perform His will; give Him an opening the size of a needle [as the Sages say – ed.] and He will open entire worlds for us..."

If a non-Jew can express these opinions and aspirations, how much more so Jews! We can be inspired by this story to be the best Jews possible and to merit the blessing "Cursed is everyone who curses you, and blessed is everyone that blesses you." Good Shabbos Everyone.
This is from a regular email that I get Erev Shabbos to subscribe go to:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Turn your Torah Into Tefilah ...Rebbi Nachman

How was it that Esav was able to decieve Yitzchak?  The answer is that he looked like a Tzadik, he learned Torah, but he did not internalize it and make it part of himself.  We have to be careful when we learn something to examine ourselves and see how we can make a change in our lives.

We should daven to Hashem to help us to internalize what we have learned.

from: Parshat Toldot: Preferential Parenting

Teacher: Mrs. Shira Smiles

ikar and tafel- what is our goal?

As we go through life, we will constantly encounter ikar and tafel. Tafel is earning the salary to support our families. Ikar is spending time and learning with the family. Does it make sense to get upset over such tafels as losing a business deal or earning an average grade in school? Isn’t it more important to be thankful to Hashem for all the real blessings He gives us?
The mission of man is to combine this world with the next world, to meld the physical with the spiritual. Our world is finite, Olam Haba is infinity. The limited pleasures of this world do not compare with the beauty, wonder, and closeness to Hashem that we will experience in the next world. That is the world we should focus on.
from: Parshat Toldot: Obstacles in the Path of G-d

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur on Chassidut by Rabbi Hershel Reichman

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This video from Aish is one of the most powerful videos I have seen.

"Only when you are so old do you realize the beauty of life"
from this video interview with a 106 year old holocaust survivor.


click on this link to watch it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Always strive to reach greater heights.

In Parshat Toldot we read how Yitzchak and Rivkah both prayed to Hashem for a child. Rashi explains that Hashem listened to Yitzchak over Rivkah because one cannot compare the prayer of a son of righteous
parents to the prayer of a daughter of evil lineage. Yet Chazal teach that baalei teshuva are ranked greater than tzaddikim. They also teach that Hashem listens to all who call out to him in truth. What made Yitzchak’s prayer greater than Rivkah’s?

Rav Dessler explains that Yitzchak could have easily continued along the path of Avraham. Instead he worked hard to forge his own path in avodat Hashem. He was not content to follow a routine. Instead, he
invested enormous effort to make gevurah, self discipline, his own way of serving G-d. In this way he was greater than Rivkah, who simply moved from outright evil towards righteousness. This is one of our greatest
challenges. A person should not be satisfied with the level he has reached, but should constantly strive to reach greater heights in serving Hashem.

Parshat Toldot: Potent Prayer

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Mrs. Shira Smiles
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