Category Archives: Chizuk From Yerushalayim

SUCCOS: WHAT’S IN YOUR HARVEST?

Rebbetzin Rachel Verbov earned a master’s degree in Jewish History from Touro College. She has been teaching in seminaries in Israel for 19 years and was the Assistant Principal of Afikei Torah Seminary in Yerushalayim. She is the editor of the Jewish Woman’s Organizer, a Personal Life Coach, and a Kallah teacher. Rachel gives Taharas Hamishpacha Refresher Courses and Coaching Workshops on Self-Awareness & Shalom Bayis. She lives in Beitar Illit with her family.

I am a city girl, born and bred on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Growing up, there were no farmers on the entire island. Harvest? What’s that?

This summer, I took my kids to England to visit my in-laws. My mother-in-law is the proud farmer of what she calls her ‘allotment’. She plants her seeds with great planning and care. My kids treasure their time digging and collecting potatoes and onions with Grandma which we all then enjoy for dinner!

A harvest is a crop or produce. Let’s ask ourselves, “What have we produced this year?” What is our yield? Which values have we lived by and what kind of results did they bear?

Let’s say we value honesty, do we pay the amount agreed upon or do we find excuses not to pay in full? (Tuition, shul membership, worker’s fees) Let’s take another example, if we value emunah, do we express our faith through daily tefillos or do we dwell for long periods on our doubts? Say we value relationships, are we nurturing them? because they don’t develop by themselves. Do we call our Bubby every Erev Shabbos? Really listen to a friend who is in distress, and buy our mother her favorite chocolate bar on Mother’s Day?

Everything we do reaps a result. A more focused and thought out lifestyle can achieve the results we are aiming for. When we take the time out to leave the noise of our daily routine and check-in to our ‘succah’ of inner life and explore our true self stripped of the noise and graffiti of the world, we can discover our personal path and boldly plant our year according to our true wishes.

Chag Sameach! And may you all be wonderful farmers and reap lots of produce!

A Short Inspiring Story: How Much Hashem Loves Us!!

A beautiful and touching story that will give us much to think about. The story was told over by Rav Go’el Elkarif who said he heard it from the person to whom it happened.

There is a fellow who owns a jewelry store in Eretz Yisroel. One day, not long ago a nine year old girl walked into the store and said, “I am here to buy a bracelet”. She looks through the glass cases and points to a bracelet that was three or four thousand dollars. The man behind the counter asked her, “You want to buy that bracelet?” And she says, “Yes”. He says, “Wow, you have very good taste. Who do you want to buy it for?” She says, “For my older sister”. He says, “Oh that is so nice! Why do you want to buy your older sister this bracelet?” The little girl says, “Because I don’t have a mother or father, and my older sister takes care of us. So we want to buy her a present, and I’m willing to pay for it”. She pulls out of her pocket a whole bunch of coins that totaled seven shekel, eighty agurot, which is a little less than two dollars. The fellow says, “Wow! That’s exactly what the bracelet costs”. He wraps up the bracelet and says, “You write a card to your sister while I wrap the bracelet”. In a short amount of time, he finishes wrapping the bracelet, he wipes away his tears, and hands the little girl the bracelet.

A few hours later the older sister comes in and says” I’m terribly embarrassed. My sister should not have come here. She shouldn’t have taken it without paying.” He says to her, “What are you talking about?” She says, “What do you mean? This bracelet costs thousands of dollars. My little sister doesn’t have thousands of dollars, she doesn’t even have ten dollars. So she obviously didn’t pay for it”. The fellow who owns the jewelry store says, “You couldn’t be more wrong. She paid me in full. She paid seven shekel, eighty agurot, and a broken heart. I want to tell you something. I am an alman, I lost my wife a number of years ago. People come into my store every single day. They come in and buy expensive pieces of jewelry, but all these people can afford it. When your sister walked in, for the first time in so very long since my wife had died, I once again felt what love means”. He gave her the bracelet and wished her well.

Says, Rav Go’el Elkarif, we come to the Ribono Shel Olam and we want to buy something very expensive. We want to buy life, but we cannot afford it. We don’t have the money to pay for it. We don’t have the zechusim. So we come to the Ribono Shel Olam and we empty our pockets, with what? A kabbalah here and a kabbalah there; I’ll keep cholov yisroel during the Asrers Yimei Teshuva, I’ll keep pas yisroel like the Mishnah Brura says, I’ll pick up the phone and call someone who is lonely, I wil learn an extra five minutes mussar, I will be kind, I won’t speak lashon harah for two hours; something small. The Ribono Shel Olam says, “Oh, you don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve felt what love means”. The Ribono Shel Olam sees how much we are willing to do, how much we love him, and he says, “You know what? You have touched my heart. Here it is, paid in full”.

Teshuva Tip and Insight!

Mrs. Chana Silver is a popular teacher of varied subjects at several seminaries in Jerusalem, as well as a lecturer for Aish Hatorah’s Discovery Programs and Ner L’elef Kiruv Training. She has 30 years experience in education and kiruv. She has worked with, taught, and counseled teens, troubled teens, and young adults for many years. She has lectured round the world to many different types of people on a variety of topics. She is a crises intervention counselor as well as the head tour leader for Legacy/ Nesivos trips to Poland and Eastern Europe. She is the site manager/coordinator as well as the author of the column ‘Dear Chana’ on the site www.jemsem.org. She is a dating mentor, and a marriage adviser to couples.

Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Mrs. Silver now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and children. With her warm Southern charm and positive outlook, She has a unique way of taking vital, pertinent issues and fusing them with classic Torah hashkafa, contemporary ideas, and psychology, to produce a down to earth, focused, and realistic approach to the challenges that we face today.

Rabbeinu Yona tells us that a person should look at him/herself as a

Tzir Ne’eman – A Faithful Ambassador.

A Loyal Emissary of GD.

WE REPRESENT……… GD!!!

Each one of us is on a Mission From GD.
He Manifests Within Us
We are an Extension of Him.

We are Totally Intertwined!

Our Job: To spread Malchus and Kavod Shamayim
To Live Our Lives – Being A Living Breathing Kiddush Hashem.

What does this mean?

We must be Loyal, Dependable, Devoted Agents of Hashem.

We must be Conscienctious Envoys of GD, in every way!

Everything we do – EVERYTHING WE DO, counts and matters!

We Must Speak and Act in Ways that Personify Him, in all we do, with everyone we come in contact with.

A Faithful Ambassador has an Outstanding Relationship with his King/ President = Mitzvos Bein Adam L’Makom

A Faithful Ambassador has a Superb Relationship with the people he/she is around = Mitzvos Bein Adam L’Chaveiro.

Teshuva is repairing and starting fresh in these areas.

BE AWARE – THAT YOM KIPPOR IS NOT M’CHAPEIR FOR MITZVOS BEIN ADAM L’CHAVEIRO

Now is the time

SEE YOURSELF AS THAT FAITHFUL AMBASSADOR OF GD!
STRETCH UP- AND BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! HASHEM SURELY BELIEVES IN YOU TO GET IT RIGHT!!

Improve What Needs Sprucing up!- Because YOU are an Important Someone!

A Faithful Ambassador would do whatever he/she needs to do because Their job depends on it!

So Does Yours! See Yourself as the Extraordinary Neshama that you are!

YOU have a Life in this World to Live – and YOU Stand To Gain Eternity!!

There is a lot at stake – because your job is a big one!
GO FOR IT!!

GMAR CHASIMA TOVA!!!

(Part I) Yom Kippur – Rejoicing (?) With Affliction

Rabbi Hadar Margolin teaches in many seminaries in Yerushalayim.
The main focus of his classes is – how to attain more simcha.
He has also authored several books on the topic.
Rabbi Margolin in collaboration with Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky has produced
the “Simcha Course” –
a lecture series on “Simcha”, with practical guidance on growing in this most crucial middah.
To see more on this, please click here.

I was but a young lad, perhaps 16 years of age, when I saw something in shul that changed my Yom Kippur experience of that year. The insight of the Yesod Veshoresh Ha’avodah that some anonymous fellow had hung up on the wall has continued to transform every Yom Kippur of mine since.
How do people approach YK? Let’s face it, it’s a difficult day. No eating or drinking for 24 hours is physically demanding. The Torah itself calls it a day of עינוי (affliction). Certainly, it would seem, NOT something to look forward to, or to rejoice with. No need to elaborate; everyone who has experienced a YK knows what I’m talking about.
A simple insight of the Yesod Veshoresh Ha’avodah changed this perspective.
He writes, that a person should rejoice with the difficulty.
Rejoice!
Why?
Because it’s hard.
Because a person gets more reward for doing a mitzvah when it’s a challenge, when he has to overcome difficulty.
Because Hashem cherishes especially those who do mitzvos when they have to contend with hardship.
After all, how many chances do we have during the year to do a mitzvah that is really hard? Such an opportunity, when we have it, should be treasured!
Further, he says: the more difficult it gets, the more pleasure Hashem gets from us; hence, the more one should rejoice! Towards the end of the day, when it starts to get really tough, one should think: I wish this could continue another few hours! (P.S. is that what you were thinking last year?)
Now, the ironical insight:
Two people standing near each other in shul, late afternoon of YK. One is looking at his watch ticking the minutes ever so slowly, thinking: “when will it be over already?” The other one is with a heart full of simcha, grateful for the experience he is privileged having. Which one of them will end up eating first?
The answer is illuminating – neither. They’re in the same shul, finishing together.
The only difference is, that one has had a grudging approach to YK, and the other has had a wonderful spiritual experience, and is fulfilling the mitzvah in its full grandeur – בשמחה ובטוב לבב, with tremendous simcha and gratitude. And, of course, with much more reward from Hashem.
Which type of YK experience would you like to have?

Archives

Elul 5759 – Chizuk for Chodesh Elul

15 Elul 5759

From the Desk of: Rabbi Yehudah Bulman

Dear Talmida (tichyeh),

For many generations, “Elul” meant cherdat ha-din (fear of the judgement) and cheshbon ha-nefesh. Is that what you feel? Or do you feel dejected that (in your opinion) another year has passed and you haven’t accomplished what you had set out to do in avodat Hashem?

Perhaps you’ve even slipped.

Who hasn’t?

True, we should never be satisfied with our madreiga but that just means that we are expected to aspire to greater madreigos, not half give up and krechtz about it. Let me ask you, what good will it do if you’re despondent? If you are full of yiush and atzvut you certainly cannot serve Hashem properly. “Ivdu es Hashem b’simchah!”

So let’s try to change our perspective. Rav Wolbe writes in Ale Shur, “Rosh Hashana is the day of man’s creation, and that is what is special about the day – that every person can become a new creation” (Alei Shur II, p. 413).

“A new creation.” How much we must thank Hakadosh Baruch Hu for the tremendous chesed of being able to start again! Yet we sometimes feel that we can’t start again, that it’s just too late. The Chafetz Chaim has something to tell us about this feeling:

When the yetzer ha-ra sees someone who did several serious sins and is afraid that [the person] will do teshuvah, he uses the strategy of exaggerating [the seriousness of the sins] way more than they really are and deludes the person into thinking that he no longer has any way of correcting himself and, therefore, he might as well enjoy himself in this world.
This form of yetzer ha-ra is mentioned in Yechezkel, “And you, son of man, tell the house of Yisrael: ‘You say “our sins and iniquities are upon us, and because of them we are rotting away, so how can we live?”‘ Say to them, ‘As I live — the words of my Lord Hashem/Elokim — I do not desire the death of the wicked one, but only the wicked one’s return from his way that he may live; repent, repent…'” (Yechezkel 33:10-11)

The truth is that when someone returns to Hashem, Hashem comes back to him as well and draws him near as if he had never sinned, and none of his sins will be recalled. Chazal say on the possuk, “Hashem, Hashem Kel Rachum”: “I am He before the person sins and I am He after the person sins and repents” (Rosh Hashanah 17b). [Chazal] mean by this that Hashem treats us differently than humans treat each other. If someone offends another human and then returns and apologizes, nevertheless, their level of friendship will never be the same as it was at first, but by the Holy One this is not so, for it is as if the person had never sinned.

So, dear talmida, please remember that this is a time when you can start again and go right back to the madreigos you yearn for.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

But I haven’t spoken with you in a long time, so why should I assume that you’ve slipped at all? More likely you haven’t slipped, but as time goes on, it’s getting harder to “hold on.” Perhaps your environment is pounding on your inner spiritual fortress which you so painstakingly built while you were here. Or perhaps you’re having a hard time remmebering what you’re fighting for.

If this is the case, allow me to share some of the Chafetz Chaim’s advice:

In these [challenging] times, it is a mitzvah for those who fear Hashem to get together sometimes and give each other chizuk in matters of avodas Hashem, and all their words will be recorded in the “book of rememberance” before Hashem.” (Shem Olam (ibid, Chapter 1))
So, if you can, get together with some of your friends who, like you, aspire to avodas Hashem and give each other chizuk. Even if you live (or go to school) far away from your friends, you can “get together” by phone, and you can spend time with them on a Shabbos.

What will you gain by these discussions? The Chafetz Chaim says this is like lifting an object. Most people can lift light objects. A strong person can lift a heavier load. If it’s a very heavy load, even a very strong person won’t be able to lift it by himself. But if he calls a few friends they can lift even that heavy load together. That’s what you’ll gain. Together you will be able to overcome even the “heaviest” nisyonos.

The Chafetz Chaim adds that “the main hischazkus should not be just in thought but in deed.” I must admit that I don’t know exactly what he meant, but perhaps he simply meant that your hischazkus has to be concrete: practice doing something which will make you stronger in your avodas Hashem. For example, if you decide that you want to daven better, then decide which aspect or part of davening you will work on first, and do it.

So strengthen yourself and your friends, take a deep breath, and start again!

Chizki V’imtzi

B’virkas kesiva v’chasima tova,
Yehudah Bulman