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

Friday, December 23, 2011

The message of the dreidel.

A dreidel is only able to turn when the hand on the top spins it and makes it go.  This is like our lives.  Without the hand from above (Hashem) our lives are worthless.

Heard on a Torah Twelve Step meeting from Jenette in Panama.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I held the Baal Shem Tov's Siddur.

Sometimes you just feel like you have to do something.  This Shabbos when I read about the Auction of Important Judaica at Sotherby's I got it in my head that I had to see it.  I couldn't find someone to go with me so I hoped into my car and went by myself.  One person said, "I can't believe that you are driving for two hours to see a Siddur in a glass box."  Never in my wildest dreams did I think that they would let me touch it.  Well not only did I see it but I got to hold it.  I am so glad that I went, and it shows me that if something feels important to me, it is worth it to follow a dream.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Building an eternal creation.

Sometimes when a builder builds a tall building he puts up a scaffolding to help him to build.  Would he ever dream of building it out of gold?  Of course not, the scaffolding is only temporary.  This is a good Mashal of our lives.  Our lives are temporary, but the eternal creation of our neshamah is for ever.  We should put the emphasis on the eternal creation and not our physical existence.  

Parshat Vayishlach: Faithful Follower
Teacher: Mrs. Shira Smiles Class:

Parsha For Our Lives 5772

Added: December 05, 2011 


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Learning to Live the Torah

When Yakov says, "I lived with Lavan"  we learn from this that he kept all 613 mitzvot.  How can we say that he kept all of the Mitzvot?  The answer that Mrs. Smiles gives is that by learning all of the mitzvot and having the intention to carry them out, to the best of our ability, we are credited with keeping them.  She adds that this means not just keeping the mitzvot, but keeping the intent of the mitzvot.  She gives the example of Tznius, which does not only mean modest dress, but modest behavior.  I was recently reading the following post from Neil Harris:   http://uberdox.blogspot.com/2011/11/reb-moshe-and-broken-tape-recorder.html  where he told the folloing story that illustrates this idea, of not just learning Torah, but absorbing it.

Some years ago, in Rav Reuven Feinstein's yeshiva, there were two boys who had an argument.  What happened?  Let's call them Reuven and Shimon.  Revuen lent his tape recorder to Shimon and Shimon dropped the tape record and it broke.  And they were arguing.  Revuen said, "I lent you the tape recorder and you broke it.  You have to get me a new one."
Shimon says, "It wasn't my fault, it was an accident."
And they were arguing and decided that they would go to the Rosh Yeshiva, which is a good thing.  They went to Reb Reuven Feinstein, they went to the Rosh Yeshiva to ask him what's the halacha then.  This is what happened.  Rav Reuven Feinstein was absolutly astonished by the question.  Not with nachas, he was astonished.  He said, "You're learning all year since September, your learning the gemara.  Everyday you have charts on the blackboard.   You're learning the gemara "Bava Metzia" that teaches that when someone borrows something he's responsible when it breaks.  If you borrow something you're responsible."  Rav Reuven was so distrubed by this.  He couldn't understand how's it possible that the boy, how could he not know that? That's all they're learning and they're getting 100s on their tests. שואל חייב באונסין , it's a gemara.  It's all over the gemara.  If you borrow, you're chai'ev (responsible).
So, he was so upset, Rav Reuven went to his father.  He went to Reb Moshe, Zecher Tzaddik V'Kodesh L'Vracha.  He went to Reb Moshe and he asked, "How can it be that the boys did not know that?"
So, Reb Moshe said, "Because what they've seen in their lives has no relationship to what they're learning in yeshiva.  It's completely irrelevant.  They do not see their parents living the lives that they learn in the seforim, nor do they see it so clearly in the yeshiva."  That's what Reb Moshe said.
They would never dream of making a connection between what they learned all year and how to practically live.  It might have been taught, but it wasn't given over.

Dvar Torah from:

Parshat Vayishlach: Faithful Follower
Teacher: Mrs. Shira Smiles Class:

Parsha For Our Lives 5772

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Things to give up-from an Alanon Group

> 1. Give up trying to be perfect. – The real world doesn't reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done.
> 2. Give up comparing yourself to others. – The only person you are competing against is yourself.
> 3. Give up dwelling on the past or worrying too much about the future. – Right now is the only moment guaranteed to you. Right now is life. Don't miss it.
> 4. Give up complaining. – Do something about it.
> 5. Give up holding grudges. – Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness.
> 6. Give up waiting. – What we don't start today won't be finished by tomorrow. Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action.
> 7. Give up lying. – In the long-run the truth always reveals itself. Either you own up to your actions or your actions will ultimately own you.
> 8. Give up trying to avoid mistakes. – The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you're too scared to make a mistake.
> 9. Give up saying, "I can't." – As Henry Ford put it, "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are right."
> 10. Give up trying to be everything to everyone. – Making one person smile can change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world. Start small. Start now.
> 11. Give up thinking you're not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won't feel totally comfortable at first.
> 12. Give up setting small goals for yourself. – Many people set small goals because they're afraid to fail. Ironically, setting these small goals is what makes them fail.
> 13. Give up trying to do everything by yourself. – You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with. If you work together, you will be far more capable and powerful than you ever could have been alone.
> 14. Give up buying things you don't need. – Manage your money wisely so your money does not manage you. Do not spend to impress others. Do not live life trying to fool yourself into thinking wealth is measured in material objects.
> 15. Give up blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can live your dream life depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. When you blame others for what you're going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
> 16. Give up making mountains out of molehills. – One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: "Will this matter in one year's time? Three years? Five years? If not, then it's not worth worrying about.
> 17. Give up trying to live up to the expectations of others. – Work on it for real and exceed your own expectations. Everything else will fall into place.
> 18. Give up the `easy street' mentality. – There is too much emphasis on finding a `quick fix' in today's society. For example taking diet pills to lose weight instead of exercising and eating well. No amount of magic fairy dust replaces diligent, focused, hard work.
> 19. Give up making promises you can't keep. – Don't over-promise. Over-deliver on everything you do.
> 20. Give up letting your thoughts and feelings bottle up inside. – People are not mind readers. They will never know how you feel unless you tell them.
> 21. Give up beating around the bush. – Say what you mean and mean what you say. Communicate effectively.
> 22. Give up avoiding change. – However good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That's the one thing you can count on. So embrace change and realize that change happens for a reason. It won't always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.
> 23. Give up your sense of entitlement. – Nobody is entitled to anything in this world. We are all equal. We breathe the same air. We get what we give. We get what we earn.
> 24. Give up waiting until the last minute. – Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.
> 25. Give up being dramatic. – Stay out of other people's drama and don't needlessly create your own.
> 26. Give up being anti-athletic. – Get your body moving! Simply take a long, relaxing walk.
> 27. Give up junk food. – You are what you eat.
> 28. Give up eating as a means of entertainment. – Don't eat when you're bored. Eat when you're hungry.
> 29. Give up foolish habits that you know are foolish. – Don't text and drive. Don't drink and drive. Don't smoke. Etc.
> 30. Give up relationships with people who bring you down. – Saying "no" to right people gives you the time and resources required to say "yes" to right opportunities. Spend time with nice people who are smart, driven and likeminded.
> 31. Give up being shy. – Network with people. Meet new people. Ask questions. Introduce yourself.
> 32. Give up worrying about what others think of you. – Unless you're trying to make a great first impression (job interview, first date, etc.), don't let the opinions of others stand in your way. What they think and say about you isn't important. What is important is how you feel about yourself.
> 33. Give up trying to control everything. – Life is an unpredictable phenomenon. No matter how good or bad things seem right now, we can never be 100% certain what will happen next. So do you best with what's in front of you and leave the rest to the powers above you.
> 34. Give up doing the same thing over and over again. – In order to grow, you must expand your horizons and break free of your comfort zone. If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting.
> 35. Give up following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Don't find the easy way out. Do something extraordinary.
> 36. Give up persistent multi-tasking. – Do one thing at a time and do it right.
> 37. Give up thinking others are luckier than you. – The harder you work, the luckier you will become.
> 38. Give up filling every waking moment with commitments and activities. – It's okay to be alone. It's okay to do nothing sometimes. Think. Relax. Breathe. Be.
> 39. Give up making emotional decisions. – Don't let your emotions trump your intelligence. Slow down and think things through before you make any life-changing decisions.
> 40. Give up doing the wrong things just because you can get away with it. – Just because you can get away with something doesn't mean you should do it. Think bigger. Keep the end in mind. Do what you know in your heart is right.
> 41. Give up focusing on what you don't want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you'll often find that you're right.
> 42. Give up taking yourself so seriously. – Few others do anyway. So enjoy yourself and have a little fun while you can.
> 43. Give up spending your life working in a career field you're not passionate about. – Life is too short for such nonsense. The right career choice is based on one key point: Finding hard work you love doing. So if you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don't stop. You're on to something big. Because hard work ain't hard when you concentrate on your passions.
> 44. Give up thinking about the things you don't have. – Appreciate everything you do have. Many people aren't so lucky.
> 45. Give up doubting others. – People who are determined do remarkable things. Remember, the one who says it can't be done should never interrupt the one doing it.
> 46. Give up fussing with every beauty product on the market. – Good looks attracts the eyes. Personality attracts the heart. Be proud to be you. That's when you're beautiful.
> 47. Give up trying to fit in. – Don't mold yourself into someone you're not. Be yourself. Oftentimes, the only reason they want you to fit in is that once you do they can ignore you and go about their business.
> 48. Give up trying to be different for the sake of being different. – Nonconformity for the sake of nonconformity is conformity. When people try too hard to be different, they usually end up being just like everyone else who is trying to be different. Once again, be yourself.
> 49. Give up trying to avoid risk. – There's no such thing as `risk free.' Everything you do or don't do has an inherent risk.
> 50. Give up putting your own needs on the back burner. – Yes, help others, but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
> ~ Author Unknown

Monday, December 5, 2011

A personal reflecton on Gam Zu L'Tova

As you may have noticed I have not been able to post much for the past nine months.  Someone that I am very close to has gone through a major medical crisis.  Baruch Hashem, now that it is almost over I can look back and see that many of the things which caused us so much pain at the time were actually the source of future Bracha.  The biggest thing that stands out in this area was that there were 2 ways of treating the problem with medicine or with surgery.  When the medicine failed I was devastated.  At the time that he started taking the medicine we had to sign that we knew that the medicine could cause cancer but we were told that it was a one in 20,000 chance.  Recently I met someone who was that one, and he had to have the surgery anyway and deal with cancer.  Now as I look back I am so grateful to Hashem that the medicine did not work!  I am so grateful to Hashem that he is running the show not me.

Feeling the Kedusha of the Menorah

The Baal HaTanya says that you can not fill a cup of water with wine. You have to empty the cup in order to fill it.  The same holds true for spirituality.  If your mind is full of physicality you will not be able to absorb spirituality.  When you light the menorah you have to make sure that your mind is not focused on physical things so that you can feel the Kedushah of the menorah.

Chanukah: Sfas Emes Part 1
Teacher: Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller Class:

Jewish Calendar II (Chanukah


An important thing to keep in mind when posting and commenting on line.

Day 72 - To a Non-Jew

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 8:12

At one time or another, we hear derogatory remarks about Jews. It is tragic enough when such remarks are made by Jews to Jewish listeners. Even more tragic is when they are told by Jews to co-workers, business associates, or others who are not Jewish. The subject of these remarks might be an individual Jew, a specific group of Jews, or Jews in general.

The Chofetz Chaim declares that to speak loshon hora about a Jew when the listener is a gentile is a much greater sin than when the listener is a Jew. One who is guilty of this sin “disgraces the honor of Israel and desecrates the Name of Heaven.”

There is yet another reason for the particular severity of this sin. When one speaks loshon hora to a fellow Jew, there is a possibility that the listener will not be quick to accept the report as fact—especially if he is someone familiar with the laws of loshon hora. Gentiles, on the other hand, certainly do not have a predisposition towards judging Jews favorably. Upon hearing the derogatory report, the gentile will be quick to believe it and pass the information on to others.

When a Jew denigrates other Jews in the presence of gentiles, he is, in essence, contradicting the purpose of his own existence. Our mission in this world as a people is to spread the honor of Hashem by serving as His representatives before the rest of the world. We say in Shema each day: “V’Ahavta es Hashem ElokechaAnd you shall love Hashem, your God (Devarim 6:4). Our Sages teach (Yoma 86a) that we demonstrate our love of Hashem by making His Name beloved in the eyes of others. When a Jew studies Torah, speaks pleasantly to people and deals honestly in business, then people say, “Praiseworthy is the father who taught him Torah; praiseworthy is the teacher who taught him Torah. See how beautiful and correct are his ways and deeds.”

Thus the damage caused by relating loshon hora to gentiles goes far beyond loshon hora, which is devastating in itself. Instead of using his abilities to increase Hashem’s honor, the speaker has been guilty of chillul Hashem (desecration of Hashem’s Name).
from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Assoc.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In a Shiur by Rebbetzin Kalmonovitz she said that Hashem gets tremendous Nachas from us telling stories of the Tzadikim becuase it inspires us to improve ourselves.  Therefore I am posting this from:
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com |

  Two reporters, Israel correspondents from international secular publications, called the other day. Each was seeking the "truth" about supposed controversies within the fervently-Orthodox world.
I told both the same thing: Stop wasting your time on fringe groups and trivial issues. If you want to understand the "ultra-Orthodox" community, first find out why over a 100,000 people attended the funeral of Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, with tens of thousands of adults sobbing openly and unashamedly. If you want to understand a person or a community, observe what he or they honor: "[A] person [reveals himself] according to what he praises" (Proverbs 26:21).
Who was the remarkable man whose passing inspired such grief?
When Rabbi Finkel took over the reins of Jerusalem's Mirrer Yeshiva from his father-in-law, Rabbi Beinish Finkel, zt"l, in 1990, he had already been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Many wondered how he could carry the burden of a yeshiva (rabbinical academy) that numbered 1,000 married and unmarried students. Yet under his leadership the yeshiva expanded rapidly. New buildings were built; another branch was started in a community outside Tel Aviv. One sage quipped that Rabbi Nosson Tzvi might as well put a roof over the entire neighborhood and call it Mirrer Yeshiva. Today, 6,000 students learn in Mirrer Yeshiva's many study halls, making it the largest yeshiva since the closing of the Talmud, perhaps the largest ever.
"Even when I lie down, I can't rest because of the trembling," from Parkinson's Disease, he told one of his brothers-in-law, "so I think of ways to spread Torah." Our Sages say that the Ark carried those who carried it. And so it was with Rabbi Nosson Tzvi. After one long flight to Los Angeles, a crying stewardess told those who came to the airport to meet him, "Promise me you'll never let him do this again. How could you do this to this holy man?" When people accused his brothers-in-law of "shlepping him" on grueling trips, they replied, "We don't shlep him, he shleps us."
He used his debilitating disease to build more Torah and to teach. A rich businessman refused his request for a large donation. "I can't," he said. The sage told him, "I can't either, but I do anyway." He received the donation.
Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, was once was brought to see Rabbi Finkel, along with a group of prominent businessman. They had not been told of his Parkinson's, and instinctively averted their eyes when he entered the room. Soon they heard a bang on the table and Rabbi Nosson Tzvi commanding them, "Look at me." "I know you are all busy men," he continued, "so I'll be brief. What is the most important lesson of the Holocaust?"

He proceeded to describe the situation of the Jews arriving in Auschwitz and other death camps, after being packed into cattle cars for days, without water or facilities of any kind, and then being separated from their loved ones. When the lucky ones reached a barracks, they were given one blanket for six people. They could choose to share it or each one could try to grab it for himself. They chose the former. "The greatest lesson of the Holocaust," he concluded, "is the triumph of the human spirit. Now, each of you return to America and share your blanket with five others."

Someone once asked him for advice on how to learn Torah, even amidst afflictions. Rabbi Nosson Tzvi told him that he didn't know: "I learn with great simcha [joy]." He refused to take the strongest medicines to control his disease for fear they would cloud his mind or rob him of his memory. The sage often learned in a freezing room to be able to meet his daily quotas in learning.

When he mounted the podium in Mirrer Yeshiva to give a lecture in the main study hall, he had to hold fast to two shtenders (lecterns) to remain upright and he never knew whether he would be able to control his tongue sufficiently to speak. Once he was thrown by a violent tremor from his position lying on a couch onto the floor, in the middle of learning with a student. Even before he could be helped up, he was asking his study partner to repeat the interpretation he had been offering.
Just as one would not begrudge the money spent to ransom a loved one, he viewed his ordeals as trivial price to pay for teaching and building Torah, and not as self-sacrifice. Everywhere he went, people of all ages rushed to be within his four cubits and witness a soul that had so transcended the limits of the imperfect vessel of his body.
OUR SAGES GIVE several possible explanations for the tests with which a tzaddik ( saintly person) is afflicted. Sometimes those tests serve to actualize his potential; sometimes to publicize his greatness. I will never forget the first time I saw Rabbi Nosson Tzvi, over thirty years ago, at the wedding of a former student. I had no idea who he was, but I could not take my eyes off of him. A Mona Lisa smile did not leave his lips the entire time I watched. It conveyed goodness and love and joy in a student's lifecycle event. I asked someone, "Who is that man who looks like an angel?" The special qualities were already there.

With love he inspired thousands of young men to reach heights that they never dreamed possible. In Mirrer Yeshiva, under Rabbi Nosson Tzvi, it did not matter where you were from, your family connections, or how high your IQ: Rabbi Nosson Tzvi was prepared to help each student reach his potential. He never forgot that he arrived at Mirrer Yeshiva, a lanky teenager called Nattie from a coed Jewish high school in Chicago, wearing a Cubs hat (though, he quipped, the golf clubs were left behind.) From his days as a young newly wed until he was felled by a sudden heart attack, he made it a practice to establish study sessions with any student who requested one.

A senior sage several decades Rabbi Nosson Tzvi's senior once came to visit him. Despite Rabbi Nosson Tzvi's protests, the older scholar insisted it was incumbent upon him to visit someone who knew 3,000 students by name. "I'm not sure if I know each one by name," Reb Nosson Tzvi said, "but I love each one." All those who entered the Mir found out that it was true.
A ba'al teshuva (one who reclaims his heritage through observance) recently arrived in Mirrer Yeshiva from Ohr Somayach could not find the special penitential prayers in an unfamiliar prayerbook. His humiliation was rising by the second, until Rabbi Nosson Tzvi, who had somehow noticed his discomfiture, came rushing over with a siddur open to the proper page. Such stories are legion: Rabbi Nosson Tzvi checking on young disciples in their sealed rooms during the Gulf War; Rabbi Nosson Tzvi personally taking a lad who fainted in a lecture to a doctor and then insisting that he move into the crowded Finkel home; Rabbi Nosson Tzvi looking for an apartment to rent with a student about to be married; Rabbi Nosson Tzvi, just back from a fundraising trip abroad, crying at the beginning of his Friday Chumash (Bible) class because "I missed you all so much."
Those who were sure the sage would not remember them from years before in the yeshiva were astonished to be greeted as "My Chaim," in a long receiving line, or to be reminded of a difficulty they had posed to the sage a decade earlier. Some sought to avoid imposing on Rabbi Nosson to officiate at their weddings, which entailed him arriving in a wheel chair and being assisted by at least two others to the chuppah. To no avail. Inevitably they would receive a call in the middle of wedding that the Rabbi Nosson was outside and wanted to wish the new couple Mazel Tov. A former student from America begged him not to attend his son's bar mitzvah at the Western Wall. "I missed your wedding fifteen years ago; I'm not missing the bar mitzvah," Rabbi Nosson Tzvi told him.
"Not a blade of grass grows unless an angel strikes it and says, 'Grow," our Sages teach. Rabbi Nosson Tzvi was that angel for tens of thousands of students and dozens of promising young scholars whom he appointed to give classes in Mirrer Yeshiva. But above all, it was his smile, the way he grasped your hand in both of his.
Mendy entered Mirrer Yeshiva after an indifferent career in other rabbinic schools. But Rabbi Nosson Tzvi was always ready to provide another chance. Towards the end of a long five-month winter zman (semester), the sage announced that he would like the unmarried students to commit to studying Talmud 12 hours a day, without any breaks. It never occurred to Mendy that the sage could mean him. A few days later, Mendy was approached and asked why his name was not on the sign-up.
Mendy could not believe that he had noticed the absence of his name among hundreds of names. But when he saw the Rabbi Nosson Tzvi was serious, he too signed up. The first days were very difficult. But after dropping into bed exhausted on the third night of the new regime, Mendy found himself dreaming about the Talmud in his sleep. The next morning he told this surrogate father what had happened. Rabbi Nosson Tzvi started dancing with him spontaneously in the packed study hall.
Now you know why we are weeping.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Wonderful Collection of OA sayings-Thanks Goldie

it works if you work it

those who judge do'nt matter, those who matter, do'nt judge

if you don't share it, you wear it

you come fror the vanity, you stay for the sanity

if you dont want to fall off the cliff, dont walk on the edge

the things you dont want to do are the things you really need to do

better a wrinkled prune than a fat plum

the problem in front of me is not as bad as the problem behind me

one bite is too much, but a thousand is not enough

the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary

if you do what you've always done  you get what you've always gotten

only hashem can lift my mental obsession, and i have to ask for it one day at a time

i am responsible only for my own actions

if i fail to plan,i plan to fail

practice progress not perfection

overeating is a state of mind not a diet problem

Hashem doesn't want us to do anything compulsively

Hashem is doing for us what we couldnt do for ourselves

Hashem took me to it, Hashem will bring m through it

trust, rely, and depend on Hashem

we eat because we are  Hurt  Angry Lonely  Tired

do'nt stuff your face, face your stuff

hurt people - hurt people

nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels

work is what i do between meetings

time takes time

dont pick up-no matter what

when you watch your weight, you lose your program- when you watch your program, you loose your weight

with Hashem help i can do anything

success is a journey, not a destination

trust Hashem, clean house, serve others

you dont need will power , you need Hashem power

yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery today is a gift, thats why we call it the present

say no without feeling guilty, say yes without feeling resentment

we are responsible for what we do no matter how we feel about it

either you control your attitude or it controls you

a head full of program prevents a body full of food

the monkey's off my back , but the circus is still in town

we need to put less faith in our efforts and more effort in our faith

NUTS not using the steps

FEAR  forgotten everything's all right

FEAR  false evidence appears real

FEAR face everything and recover

fear is the absence of faith

fear is a darkroom where negative thoughts are developed

dont leave before the miracle 

develop an attitude of gratitude

i didnt cause it, i cant control it, i cant cure it-- just let Hashem do it

we are skating on thin ice any time  we seek comfort in anything other than Hashem

worry doesnt prevent disaster, it prevents joy

worry does not empty tomorrow of its struggles, it empties today of its strengths

acceptance is the answer to all my problems today

worry is like a rocking chair- it keeps you busy but it doesnt get you anywhere

pick up the phone,not the food

service is slimming

keep it simple,surrender

a mistake is not a mistake, its a learning experience

sliver ->slice -> slab -> slob


happy moments-----------------praise Hashem
difficult moments---------------seek Hashem
quiet moments------------------pray to Hashem
painful moments----------------trust Hashem
every moment-------------------thank Hashem

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lech Lecha- One Day at a Time

When Hashem told Avraham to leave his birthplace, Hashem did not tell him where he was going.  This was a major part of his Nisayon.  To know that he had to do Hashem's will, even if he didn't know what it was in the long term.

Avraham's Nisyonos are ours.  Every day when we wake up we have to focus on doing what Hashem wants us to do that day.  We don't have to know what the long term plan is, we just have to focus on doing Hashem's will that day.  The difficulties, and setbacks that come up are often Hashem's way of directing us to where he wants us to go, and we have to be flexible and make the most of what Hashem sends us.

Based on Rabbi Parkoff's book  "Trust Me"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mazel Tov!

My second anniversary of back to back abstinence. I have now lost 87 pounds and am off of more then 10 medicines.  My doctor says, "OA is saving your life."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

True Transformation

The Rambam says that the wise man is a man who only has an appitite for healthy food. Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz asks how is posible for a person t acheive this-he answers through knowledge.  Just like a licked up lolipop in the garbage can not apealing to us but it to a little kid, we can ue true wsdom to change the way we look at food and become a true wise man.  We can transform ourselves.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How can we call Haazinu a Shira when there is so much punishment in it?

The answer is that punishment is not something that Hashem does to take revenge on us, it is something that Hashem brings on us because it is good for us.  We understand that everything that Hashem does is for our ultimate good.  When we stand in front of Hashem before Rosh Hashanah we may feel discouraged when we think of the ways that we didn't do that we promised we would last year.  It is tempting to fall into despair and to feel that there is no use in even trying. We have to know that even when we are deserving of punishment, even though we seem to push Hashem away, he is always there.  In an effort to direct us in the right direction, Hashem will send nisyonos our way, but it is not to push us away, it is to bring us closer.  

from the Shiur 

Parshat Nitzavim & Vayelech: Symbiotic Song Teacher: Mrs. Shira Smiles

Lately I have spoken to many people who are all bordering on despair.  They feel that their lives have become so difficult that they do not know how they are going to keep going.  I feel that this answer is a very powerful insight to help us to get past this feeling.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thoughts as we enter Elul.

To the extent that we are able to nullify ourselves, we become closer to Hashem.

from:   Elul: Month of Relationships
Teacher: Mrs. Shira Smiles

It is Rosh Chodesh Elul today and I am sitting in the hospital waiting for someone to get out of surgery.  I am grateful to Hashem for putting me in a position of helplessness as I wait for good news.  It brings me to a place of realizing that all of our plans are meaningless without Hashem's plans for us.   As I look around at all of the sick people around me, I realize again what a gift good health is.  As we contemplate the new year, we should be aware of all of the blessings in our lives.  If we can eat and breathe and walk and we have a roof over our heads, we have a lot to thank Hashem for.  Last year at this time, I never dreamed that I would have such a hard year.  Baruch Hashem I have the chance to beg Hashem for a year of good.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Facing our fears head on.

Many years ago when I was facing a very difficult time, my son's Rosh Yeshivah told me to think of the worst case scenario and accept that I could handle it, then I would not have to live in fear.

Since starting OA I was afraid of how I would handle maintenance.  How would I stick to the program while I didn't have the reinforcement of losing weight.  I always assumed that once I reached goal weight I would be able to increase my food.  Much to my surprise, I started to gain weight on the same food plan and actually had to cut my food plan.

Last week I was sitting with my family in an ice cream parlor watching them eat their ice cream.  Amazingly enough, I was OK.  Even with my reduced food plan.  I did not need to run away and hide.  I did not suffer.  I just sat there and watched them.  It suddenly hit me that here I was facing a situation that I dreaded, and it was no big deal.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gateway to Geulah

Each day during the Three Weeks this new web site will post a different story of Ahavas Yisroel. The hope is that these stories will inspire us to to strengthen our own efforts in this area.

The first one is a powerful story:  Gateway to Geulah

By Sara Yoheved Rigler


Oceans of Ink

The Bais Hamikdash is not being rebuilt because of the sin of Loshon Hara.  If all of the oceans in the world were ink, and all of the heavens were parchment we could not fully describe the sins of Loshon Hara.

from a Shiur by Rabbi Zev Leff about the root causes of Loshon Hara.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why are there so many tragedies in the summer?

A friend of mine's child was playing in a driveway near a large box of recycled glass.  Somehow the glass all shattered and spilled on the driveway and the child fell into the glass needing over 40 stiches.  First of all we have to learn that we should be very careful about our recycled glass.  The other message that her Rav told her is that in the summer many people take vacations so there is less Torah learning going on.  Torah learning provides a protection for Klal Yisrael.  Therefore we should all take some time to increase our learning this summer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Torah Perspective on today's Tragedy from a Shiur by Rebetzin Kalmonovitz

There are many lessons from the horrible tragedy of the young boy who was brutally murdered.   The first lesson is that we are still in Golus.  It is easy to think that here in America everything is wonderful and easy, but the reality is that this is Golus, and we have to daven for Moshiach and not get too comfortable in this Golus.  When Hashem gave us the Torah it was established that our children will be our guarantee for the future.  When our children are taken away from us, it shows that our Torah is in question.  We have to look for a source of protection for Klal Yisrael. 

When Balack wanted Bilam to curse the Jews, he could not do it.  Therefore Bilam advised Balack to get the Jews to sin through immorality.  When he succeeded in getting them to sin, thousands of Jews were killed in a plague.  We learn from this that the greatest protection that we have is our tznius.  We all have to examine ourselves to find ways of improving our tznius.  This does not just mean clothing, but in all parts of our lives. The way we talk, how we relate to people of the opposite sex in our work environment, our homes, and many other things.

When asked, "How do we explain this to our children" Rebetzin Kalmonovitz said, "This is a Korbon for all of our generation, this neshamah is going up to Shamayim with all of the Tehillim and Tefilos that were said on his behalf, which makes this Korbon even more valuable.  Because we don't have a Bais Hamikdash to bring a Korbon, this became a Korbon Tzibur to be mechaper for all of our avonos.   At a recent Kinus Rabbi Wosner in Eretz Yisrael said that when a man is learning in Kolel and his wife is not acting with the proper level of tznius, the zechus of the man's Torah learning goes to the wrong side.  People who are Klei Kodesh have to be especially careful of their tznius.

When asked, "How can we emotionally deal with the fact that this was done by a fellow yid?"  Rebetzin Kalmonovitz said that the Yidden are the Lev of the world.  When something this horrible can happen then it shows how sick the world is, and how badly we need to do Teshuvah.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Coping With Crisis

Rabbi Kirzner ztl teaches us that from this Kepital Tehillim we learn that during a time of crisis we often think that it is best to focus only on our physical nisayon and leave the spiritual for later.  When in reality we have to remember that by focusing on spiritual pursuits we will make our suffering more bearable.

Tehillim Psalm 63 - Coping With Crisis Kirzner ztl, Rabbi Yitzchak

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The pain of seeing our mistakes.

Recently I have been going over my books preparing for an audit.  I found that the most difficult part was finding my own mistakes.  Looking back and saying, "How could I have made such a dumb mistake."  I suddenly realized that this is the pain of Gehenom (in a tiny way).  When we get to Shamayim and we see what we could have been it will be unbearably difficult.  I have resolved to try harder to live my life in such a way that I don't have to look back and see as many mistakes.  I hope that I can keep even a tiny part of this resolve alive.

Rebbitzen Kalmanowitz - Chovos Halevavos Shiur in Monsey

Every Wednesday at 10:45 at 6 Ash Steet this summer.  For more info contact tioablog@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Gift of Abstinence

Thank You HaShem, words just aren’t enough
There’s no way I could have done this without Your love
I came to meetings and listened to people share
Made outreach calls to women who care

They said “keep coming back – the gift will come”
Gave me hope and encouragement when I had none
I wanted to do it my way but finally had to admit
I needed to let go of controlling life as I wanted it

I heard people with serenity and I wanted that too
But I couldn’t understand why I had to leave the food
Why can’t I eat what I want and connect to HaShem?
But no matter how I tried, I couldn’t be like them

I wanted to meditate, to get up early and daven
To say Brachos over food, and not need to repeat them
To be patient and kind and present for my family
to stop fighting with myself over food constantly

But I still had self will, and I couldn’t let go
Still kept on thinking I needed to run the show
And then suddenly it came – I really don’t know how
HaShem gave me the willingness to start right now

42 days later – I can’t believe it’s true
Abstinence is a gift that can only come from You
Weighed and measured, my food is clean
Nothing in between – not one little bean

It sounded so restricting, so harsh and so strict
But this freedom from choice is truly a gift
No more “i can have a little now – lunch was quite small”
Or “I really need more, I wasn’t so full!”

I now know clearly when the food thoughts come
That really I need to connect to someone
I turn to HaShem and ask what I should do
Trying to fulfil His Ratzon as a good Jew

I try to meditate each and every day
On three healthy meals – Brachos I say
I’ve got a long way to go in my Avodas HaShem
But I’m so grateful each day that I can start again

No longer am I going to bed so full of self-hate
Scared to wake up and deal with my “fate”
Struggling and struggling with no peace in sight
This way gives me clarity – it really feels right

I daven for you all that you’ll get the gift too
And that I’ll hold on to the willingness to do what I have to do ...

With much love to you all in recovery,


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kaporos Avonos(forgiveness from sin) without pain.

To the extent that we feel Hashem's love, we are zocheh to Kaporos Avonos.  When we do a sin we build a separation between ourselves and Hashem.  When we feel Hashem's love we melt those separations.
from a sefer by Rabbi Tzvi Meyer Silverberg.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

To merit a hidden light that no angel can fathom.

The Chofetz Chaim quotes a midrash which states that every time a person refrains from engaging in forbidden speech, they merit a hidden light that no angel can fathom. And that midrash is talking about a single moment; one can only imagine what lies in store for a person who can hold back from speaking ill of others on a consistent basis. Obviously, we should strive for good behavior simply because it's the right thing to do. But if you need a little incentive, that's a pretty good one.

Remaining silent has divine origins. The Talmud (Gittin 56b) evokes the praise of God following the Second Temple's destruction as "mi kamocha ba'ilmim Hashem" - "Who is like You among the mute ones O God" (this is a play on words of the phrase "mi kamocha ba'eilim Hashem" - "Who is like You among the mighty ones, O God"). It is referencing how God remained silent in the face of the profane conduct of Titus. This is the Creator of the Universe we're talking about - and it's concerning the destruction of His home on earth - and yet He's willing to exercise restraint! All we have to do is let go of our egos a little bit and try in our own small way to emulate God's characteristics when someone happens to say or do something that personally offends us.

Making our displeasure known with those with whom we disagree is often not worth it. Do we really have to get in our two cents every time we come across some subjective difference with a fellow Jew? Even when someone has objectively hurt us in some way, we have to make sure that our subsequent behavior is constructive. Unless we're fairly certain that rebuking them would have a positive effect, it's best to maintain our composure and simply keep quiet. All we can do is make the best decision based on the information we have at the time. Sometimes we'll still make a poor choice despite thinking before speaking, but at least we'll be more cognizant of our behavior and less likely to hurt someone else.

We have to pick our fights in life. There are times when speaking up is extremely important. For example, when it comes to fighting evil - especially something as serious as radical Islamic terrorism - good people of all stripes must speak out and act. But in the micro realm of life, keeping quiet is usually the best way to go. For example, when it comes to relationships between individuals - especially people we see day in and day out - letting things go is often a wise choice. Routinely following this mode of behavior is a great way to keep the peace. We don't have to be passive; we just have to use some self-restraint.

Our generation greatly values people who speak their minds. In many respects, this has been a positive development. However, a better world will only be achieved when silence is valued just as much - if not more. As the proverbial saying goes, "speech is silver; silence is golden."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hidden reality.

Sometimes when we play hide and seek with a baby, the baby thinks you really aren't there if they cant see you. In the same way, we often feel like Hashem is not there because we can not see him. But just like the baby learns that the person was really there, we have to know that Hashem is really there all of the time.
from a Shiur on Naaleh: Perek 39: Gog's End
Teacher: Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller Class: Yechezkel II
Added: May 23, 2011

I have been going through a very difficult time lately. Knowing that nothing is random and everything is from Hashem has kept me going.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tefillat HaShlah -

 The Shlah wrote that the eve of the first day of the Hebrew month of Sivan is the most auspicious time to pray for the physical and spiritual welfare of one's children and grandchildren, since Sivan was the month that the Torah was given to the Jewish people. He composed a special prayer to be said on this day, known as the Tefillat HaShlah - the Shlah's Prayer.

In 2011, the day for reciting the prayer falls on June 2, 2011, before sunset.

You can find it in Hebrew here:

and in English here:

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


for personal reasons I have been too busy to post so I am putting a link to previous Shavuos posts:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The power of Tea

Since the only free "food" that I have is my herb tea I found this post very inspiring.  It is from Shirat Devorah http://shiratdevorah.blogspot.com/2011/05/rebbe-elimelechs-tea-mug.html

Rebbe Elimelech's Tea Mug

Reb Mordechai of Neschiz was a disciple of Rebbe Elimelech. When the Rebbe passed away, Reb Mordechai inherited the Rebbe’s tea mug. The Rebbe would say that when one drinks tea, he is in the spiritual realm of Asiyah, the World of Action, and he can do many things that otherwise he could not do.

Once, a barren woman asked Reb Mordechai to intercede on her behalf to Rebbe Elimelech that he should pray for her to bear children since the doctors had given up hope. “Go to him during tea time,” was Reb Mordechai’s advice. She did and received a blessing. Indeed, Reb Mordechai used to say, “Many barren women were blessed with children because their plight was mentioned to me while I drank tea from Rebbe Elimelech’s mug.”

The holy Rebbe Meir of Premishlan taught that this is hinted at in the prayer “Tehei hasha’ah hazos she’as rachamim — May this time be an auspicious time of mercy.” The word for “may,” תהא, can be read as תה, “tea.” Therefore the prayer can be read: “Tea time is a time of mercy.” In fact, the Gerrer Rebbe, the Chiddushei HaRim, used to say that Reb Mordechai of Neschiz was able to resurrect the dead using the tea mug of his Rebbe, Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk.

[Ohel Elimelech 130]

ps: I recently discovered :
Rooibos (Red Bush) is a reddish plant used to make an infusion and grown in South Africa. In the US it is sometimes called red tea. It has many of the antioxidant benefits of green tea, but because it does not come from tea leaves, it has no caffeine.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Join Rav Itamar Shwartz, shlita, the author Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh the week before Shavous to prepare for "Kabbalas haTorah."

To register for a Intensive Seminar  or for additional info please call 516.668.6397 or email info@bilvavi.us

Sunday May 29th - Flatbush -

Intensive Seminar 1:30, 2:45, & 4:00 (3 different shiurim) - Ateres Shloime (29th & K) Flatbush - Men and women are invited – Appointments available before and after - No charge for admission - $20 donation comes with your choice of a CD of MP3s of shiurim by Rav Shwartz or shiurim by Rav Moshe Weinberger teaching Bilvavi and Da Es Atzmecha - $200 donation comes with CD and sefer of your choice. Contact 516-668-6397

Monday May 30th - Monsey -

Memorial Day - Intensive Seminar 3:00, 4:15, & 5:30 (3 different shiurim) NOTE: 5:30 shiur with english translation - Men and women are invited – Ohr Someach, 244 Route 306, Monsey- Appointments available after. No charge for admission - $20 donation comes with your choice of a CD of MP3s of shiurim by Rav Shwartz or shiurim by Rav Moshe Weinberger teaching Bilvavi and Da Es Atzmecha - $200 donation comes with CD and sefer of your choice. Contact 914-645-4199

Tuesday May 31st - Atlanta, GA -

8:30 PM: Drasha at Beth Jacob - 1855 Lavista Road NE, Atlanta - Men and women are invited. Sponsorships still needed. Contact: 404-290-8927

Wednesday June 1 - Boro Park -

8:30 PM: Talmud Torah Toldos Yaakov Yosef Sqvare– 1373 43rd St. (men only) Sponsorships still needed. Contact: 516-668-6397

Thursday June 2nd - Lakewood -

• 8:30 PM: "The Avodah of Chodesh Sivan" @Beis Medresh of Westgate, 49 Radin, Lakewood • 10 PM: Maariv followed by a a siyum and a seuda and a drasha @ Cong. Shemen L'Mincha, 11 Engleberg Terrace, Lakewood. (men only) Contact 732-966-7743

Shabbos - June 4th - Woodmere & Far Rockaway

• 9:30 PM Friday night Oneg Shabbos - Niggunim - at the Nudman's home @361 Sutton Pl., Woodmere • 8 AM Shacharis - drasha after davening - Kahal Nesiv Hatorah – Rav Binyomin Forst: 444 Beach 6th Street, Far Rockaway • Shabbos afternoon drasha 6:45 PM in Congregation Aish Kodesh, Woodmere. Sponsorships still needed. Contact 516-668-6397

INTENSIVE SEMINARS (of three consecutive drashas) in either FLATBUSH or MONSEY. Men and women are invited. No charge for admission - $20 donation comes with your choice of a CD of MP3s of shiurim by Rav Shwartz or shiurim by Rav Moshe Weinberger teaching Bilvavi and Da Es Atzmecha - $200 donation comes with CD and sefer of your choice. For additional info please call 516.668.6397.

The sponsorship for a full drasha is $1,800. Sponsorship for Intensive Seminar is $200.

Contributions are tax deductible pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Sponsorships are available for smaller amounts. Please fill in the amount and select which drasha you would like to sponsor. If you would like to dedicate your sponsorship as a merit for someone, please include that in the comments section (In memory of.. In honor of...).

Drashas are delivered in easy to understand Hebrew.

Sale of Bilvavi seforim and CD's at discounted prices at all drashas.

All proceeds dedicated to printing Bilvavi seforim for free distribution.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Computer Needed for a Paralized 15 year old Bochur

Do you have a computer that you no longer need? Paralized 15 year old bochur is teaching himself graphics to help add meaning to his life.

He needs a Mac Computer with an intel processor to run the software that he needs and his family can not afford to buy him one. Your unused computer can do a huge mitzvah.

if you can help contact npascal@chesed247.org

Hashem Never Ignores our Tefila

Many times when we daven and we feel like Hashem did not answer our prayers we think that it means that the answer was no.  Rabbi Nissel discusses four different ways that Hashem answers our prayers. Sometimes Hashem answers them in the way we want, and sometimes it is in the way that Hashem knows is best for us.  For a very inspiring Shiur go to:

Shelanu: 4 Ways That Hashem Answers Your Prayers # NB 678

by Nissel, Rabbi Menachem

We've often heard people say - I asked, but God said no. While this can be an admirable response to the denial of something we desperately want, were our prayers simply cast to the wayside? Rabbi Nissel proves that tefillah really works, even when we think we've gained nothing out of it, showing how answers can be disguised in ways we can't recognize without truly looking carefully.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Don't make other people's problems your own.

We learn that Hashem gives us the ability to handle our problems.  Sometimes we make someone else's problems our own and we feel overwhelmed.  We have to remember that Hashem does not give us the strength to handle other people's problems.
from a Shiur by Reb. Heller about Tefilah from Naaleh.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An inspiring quote from Stephen Hawking

Q. Given all you’ve experienced, what words would you offer someone who has been diagnosed with a serious illness, perhaps A.L.S.?

A. My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.

Friday, May 6, 2011

What do I want to be on the day of my death?

In a Shiur by Bilvavi Miskan Evneh, Rav Schwatz spoke about the importance of having goals that you want to meet before you are Niftar.  As I listened to my tapes of the Shiur, I kept thinking,"If I reach my goals for the end of the day I am thrilled, how can I possibly know where I want to be when I die".  The possibiltiy of meeting a long term goal never seemed real.  Now that I have learned how to set a long term goal and follow through, it is waking up new hopes for the future. 

Recently I sat next to an older woman at a Simcha.  After complementing me on my 86 pound weight loss, she told me that she figures at her age she is going to roll into the grave fat and decrepit, and what difference does it make.  This brought me to thinking back about where do I want to be on the day of my death.  One thing that I know is that I want to be a person who operates out of thought and not out of desire.  I want to make long term plans and goals and stick to them.  While I may not always meet my daily goals, I know that there is always tomorrow and with perseverance I can make major changes in my life.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Don't see the world as a finished project, see it as a symphony in progress.

Look around the world and realize that Hashem is continuing creation at every moment.

from Rebetzin Heller's Daily learning program.

I am more and more impressed with Rebbetzin Heller's daily learning project on Chovot Halevavot.  It is brief but focused and it helps you to work on one goal each day for spiritual growth.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

BE more. It only takes a few minutes a day!

•What's stopping YOU from being the person you want to BE?

•What is a deep relationship?

•What does trusting G-d really mean?

I recently  joined a daily learning program from Rebetzin Heller.  It is a really excellent program.  It is well worth the cost-$14.95 a month.  Originally I wanted to go hear her speak this Sunday but it wasn't going to work out with my schedule.  Then I realized that I would have spent more then that on gas to get to the Shiur and back, so I decided to treat myself to her daily learning program.  I really love it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Pin Cushion

Monday, May 2, is Holocaust Day this year in Israel

In the early summer of 1939, a mere two months before the Nazis invaded Poland, Kaila Burda said to her husband Gamaliel, “I’m at wit’s end. Chasia wants to go to the summer camp with her girlfriends from school. Why not send her?”

“Kaila, these are troubled times. When will you understand that we can’t stay here any longer. Chasia is the only Jewish child in her class. I’d prefer that she stays at home.”

“But she has nothing to do but draw. She sits at home and draws pictures all day long! She needs to be outdoors and play with other children.”

Gamaliel shrugged his shoulders, “It’s not safe, but have it your way…”

Chasia went to summer camp. When her first day was over, she was a bloody mess, escorted home by one of the sixth-grade teachers. “We can’t take responsibility for your daughter,” she said in Polish to the appalled Gamaliel and Kaila on their front doorstep. “She’s the only Jewish girl in our school, and the other little girls know it. They played a game of 'seamstress' and they made your daughter the pin cushion…”

After Kristallnacht in Germany, anti-Semitism in neighboring Poland was fast on the rise too...

Continue reading The Pin Cushion, the amazing story of my own mother,(Rabbi Laser Brody) Chasia, may Hashem bless her with long and healthy days, in this week's issue of Breslev Israel web magazine.

Friday, April 29, 2011

This story makes me think of Yosef Mokir Shabbos- and reminds us that Hashem is in charge of our financial future.

FUNATO, Japan – There are no cars inside the parking garage at Ofunato police headquarters. Instead, hundreds of dented metal safes, swept out of homes and businesses by last month's tsunami, crowd the long rectangular building.

Any one could hold someone's life savings.

Safes are washing up along the tsunami-battered coast, and police are trying to find their owners — a unique problem in a country where many people, especially the elderly, still stash their cash at home. By one estimate, some $350 billion worth of yen doesn't circulate.

There's even a term for this hidden money in Japanese: "tansu yokin." Or literally, "wardrobe savings."

So the massive post-tsunami cleanup under way along hundreds of miles (kilometers) of Japan's ravaged northeastern coast involves the delicate business of separating junk from valuables. As workers and residents pick through the wreckage, they are increasingly stumbling upon cash and locked safes.

One month after the March 11 tsunami devastated Ofunato and other nearby cities, police departments already stretched thin now face the growing task of managing lost wealth.

"At first we put all the safes in the station," said Noriyoshi Goto, head of the Ofunato Police Department's financial affairs department, which is in charge of lost-and-found items. "But then there were too many, so we had to move them."

Goto couldn't specify how many safes his department has collected so far, saying only that there were "several hundreds" with more coming in every day.

Identifying the owners of lost safes is hard enough. But it's nearly impossible when it comes to wads of cash being found in envelopes, unmarked bags, boxes and furniture.

Yasuo Kimura, 67, considers himself one of the lucky ones. The tsunami swallowed and gutted his home in Onagawa, about 50 miles (75 kilometers) south of Ofunato. He escaped with his 90-year-old father and the clothes on his back. But he still has money in the bank.

That's not the case for many of his longtime friends and acquaintances, said Kimura, a former bank employee.

"I spent my career trying to convince them to deposit their money in a bank," he said, staring out at his flattened city. "They always thought it was safer to keep it at home."

The number of safes that have turned up in Ofunato alone is a reflection of the area's population: In Iwate prefecture, where this Pacific fishing town is located, nearly 30 percent of the population is over 65.

Many of them keep money at home out of habit and convenience, said Koetsu Saiki of the Miyagi Prefectural Police's financial affairs department. This practice is likely compounded by persistently low interest rates, leaving little financial incentive for depositing money in a bank.

As in Iwate, local police stations in Miyagi are reporting "very high numbers" of safes and cash being turned in.

"It's just how people have operated their entire lives," he said. "When they need money, they'd rather have their money close by. It's not necessarily that they don't trust banks. But there are a lot of people who don't feel comfortable using ATMs, especially the elderly."

A 2008 report by Japan's central bank estimated that more than a third of 10,000-yen ($118) bank notes issued don't actually circulate. That amounts to some 30 trillion yen, or $354 billion at current exchange rates, ferreted away.
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