Mar 25, 2009
Mar 17, 2009
We had a very special guest speaker! Mrs. Chaya Hoffman speaks about her mother's incredible journey and survival through the Holocaust. A truly inspirational speech.
Mar 12, 2009
Mar 3, 2009
Mrs. Raize Guttman
Last week we started the blessing of thankfulness. This blessing is really a new and continuation of that blessing. This is considered part of the blessings of thanksgiving and yet we are asking for peace. In this blessing we begin to ask Hashem for all sorts of things, peace, life, goodness etc.The first question is, if this blessing is part of the thanks, why do we suddenly start asking for so many things? It sounds like we’re back to the requests
Whats going on?
The answer is a foundation of Jewish life. One of the greatest expressions of thanks to G-d is asking Him for more. When we ask for more we acknowledge that He is the source of everything. The word hodaah means thanks and to acknowledge or confess. A major aspect of thanking Hashem is to confess/acknowledge that everything comes from G-d. How do we make this grand a statement that everything stems from Him? By asking for more!
When we want to thank a person for something, we give to them. We give a present, compliment, smile etc. we give to express our appreciation. If someone would give us something and then ask for more, it wouldn’t be very nice. If you give your daughter a new necklace and then she asks for another one, you would not be very pleased!
If we think that we’re giving Hashem something by doing a mitzvah, were very wrong. There's nothing that G_d needs so there's nothing that He lacks. The only way to give to Him is by taking, thanking and asking for more. This is Hashems greatest pleasure. We constantly ask for more and more and by doing so we make a big declaration that Hashem can do anything and nothing is out of His power.
This idea explains the interesting punishment that the serpent who enticed eve to sin got. This serpent received a curse – G-d said that the serpent will crawl on his stomach and eat dust. Whats the curse? Wherever he’l go he’ll have food! G-d was saying to him “Get out of my life and don’t bother me. You are independent” To be independent of G-d is the worst curse that there could be. The greatest blessing is to be dependant on G-d. Its interesting that it says about Leah, that she had 4 sons. Her 4Th sons name was Yehuda. Which means to thank. After she had Yehuda and said “This time I express such unbelievable appreciation for having 4 sons!” She figured everyone would have 3, and she was so overly thankful. And after that she stopped giving birth for a while. A couple of years later she had Yissachar. Why? She stopped asking! She felt that Hashem gave so much to her, how can she have the “Chutzpa” To ask for more?? But its not chutzpa! If G_d gives you good, THANK HIM and ask for more!!! Its not too hard for G-d. We are saying “Gd you are omnipotent and all powerful.” The last bracha of the shmoneh esrei. What is it that we’re asking for? ”The last is the most beloved” This is most beloved because it’s the blessing of peace. Rashi tells us “If there's no peace, there’s nothing”. Before I continue, I want to discuss the concept of bowing before we say modem. In the beginning of the shemoneh esrei in the praise section, we bow twice: in the beginning and the end of that paragraph. We bend our knees and bow our heads. This signifies our subservience to G-d. then we come to the end and we also bow twice. But when we say “modem” We bow differently. At the end of the modem, we bow without bending our knees. It’s a different kind of bowing because its not a subjugation, it’s an expression of so much gratitude. It’s a nodding of the head rather than a bowing of the knees. Modim has the focus of “Thank you Hashem for everything”. If we look throughout history, we see that in Hashems eyes, the most beloved thing is that people should get along with each other. The temple was destroyed because there was hatred. The only way to build is when there's kindness and peace. Three examples to show how beloved peace is to G-d. Abraham had a bris [circumcision]. He was in terrible pain and it was the hottest day ever. Hashem took the sun out of its outer shell so no one would go out and disturb Abraham. Hashem himself came to visit Abraham instead of sending him guests. G-d is asking him how he’s doing. All of a sudden 3 Arab nomads come towards Abraham's tent. G-d sent him guests, who were angels in the forms of guests. He jumped up and said “Gd, thank you for coming to visit me- but I have something more important to do! I have to take care of my guests!” G-d was not insulted, he was very proud of Abraham. Talmud tells us “Its greater to welcome in guests than to greet the divine presence.” G-d says, don’t worry about my honor. What I really care about is that you should take care of one another. We see how G-d puts himself aside so that there should be peace between people. The generation after the flood is called the generation of Bavel. They decided that they would conquer G-d. We’re going to build a tower up to the sky and wage war with G-d. All the people got together in unity and they went about to build this tower. Both of these generations were punished. The generation of the flood was punished for stealing and not treating each other nicely. He destroyed them all. If there is no kidness G-d decided to restart. The next generation, everyone was very kind to each other. They all love each other and work together. They have a great goal. How does G-d punish them? He just mixes up their languages. This is how all the languages came about because G-d mixed them up. If we would look at these two situations, and I was G-d – one generation would steal one grape from the proprietor until the guy had no grapes left. They were very tricky in the way they stole. They didn’t value one another. The next generation, if I were g-d I would say “These people want to wage war with me!” It sounds worse that that they want to conquer G-d. he said, its so nice that they are working together! I'm not going to bring a plague or hurt them, I'm only going to mix up their languages. By the flood? They stole from each other! The purpose of the world is kindness. We see another example of how unity peace and brotherhood is more important in the eyes of G-d than the relationship of us and Him. The third example which is very appropriate for today. There are two holiday that sound similar. Purim and Yom Kipurim. Yom Kipurim means a day Like Purim. If I would ask you whats the holiest day of the year, you’d say yom kippur! But its not true. Why is purim greater?On Yom Kippur we’re like angels, we go to shul, we stand all day, we don’t eat we don’t drink. Were focused on us and G-d. a day between man and his maker. Purim is a day where we are all day long involved with other people. We have to give shalach manos, gifts to the poor, we have to have a meal together. We are involved all day long. G-d tells us the purpose of life in this world is your relationship between man and man. On Purim we have many opportunities to enhance that relationship to show love, brotherhood and kindness to one another. On yom kipur, even though it’s a very holy day, we don’t have opportunities to enhance our relationship between man and man. Its between man and g-d. When you come up to the next world, that’s when you’ll be totally focused on your relationship between man and G-d. You wont be able to do kind things for other people in the next world. Its about enjoying the radiance of the schechina. This short world that were in now, we are meant to “Chap a rein” To grab as many mitzvos as we can between man and man. To create shalom, peace love and unity among people. Since Purim has a greater potential for heightening the relationship between me and man, it is holier than yom kippur.Purim is the holiest day of the year. The purpose of these examples is to show us how shalom, love, unity and peace is truly the most beloved and important thing to G-d.What is peace? Now that we know its so important lets figure out what it is!Peace is not the absence of war. It is every individual working together with his special talents and abilities and appreciating the abilities of the people around him. Every individual working together towards one goal.When a Jew meets another Jew “Shalom Aleichem” And they answer “Aleichem Shalom” In order for us to have peace we need each other. All Jews are connected. For there to be true peace in the world, we need each other. This knowledge alone should help us get along together. It doesn’t always have to be the way I want and what I say. Some times it will be my way, and some times yours. We will each take our individual strengths. Instead of rubbing each other the wrong way we should focus on the good in each other and try to achieve this goal of peace. In this bracha we ask for 3 different types of peace. Which is taken from the three verses of the priestly blessing of peace. “May g-d bless you and guard you” “may he shine his face to you and favor you” “ may G-d lift his face towards you and grant you peace”We ask for all of these three ideas in this blessing. We start by saying “Please give us Peace, goodness, blessing, graciousness, kindness and mercy” This is referring to the peace that encompasses all of these ideas. This is inner peace. Having peace of mind. This highest form of peace, or Rav Shwab explains –“ the wonderful feeling that your soul is at peace with G-d.” its an inner acceptance and peace of whatever is happening around you. Story with Avigdor who is 4. We were sitting in the living room, and yesterday Baruch Hashem we had a thunder storm and it was just beautiful. Avigdor and I were sitting in the living room and the wind started blowing and making whooshing sounds. Avigdor asks me “What is that?!” I told him it’s the wind blowing and that Hashem is making the wind blow. Avigdor says “mommy, that’s Hashem talking to me!” I said “What is Hashem saying to you??” “He is saying I love you Avigdor!!” All of a sudden there was a flash of lightening and he said “Ma, you see how much Hashem loves me?? He just took a picture of me!”To feel so beloved in the hands f hashem. We wish this inner peace on us and all of the Jews. There's a beautiful prayer in English, that I say all the time because it expresses all the things we want to say. “G-d, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I cannot accept, and the wisdom to know the difference.” That’s the first level of peace. The second level of peace is“Our Father grant us all together with the light of Your face.” This is true peace and unity among all Jews. We are asking for true brotherly love. When we request this, Hashem will reciprocateJust as the Jews all camped by Mt. Sinai with one heart. It was in the merit of this unity that we received the Torah. At the end of grace after meals we say “G-d give strength [Torah] to the Jewish people, only if He has blessed them with peace.”G-d spoke face to face with every Jew by Mt. Sinai. Each of them became a great scholar. This is why the gemarrah says, Torah Scholars increase peace in the world. If you’re always having fights, controversy and friction with other people, you can’t be a Torah scholar. G-d shines his face to those who try to make peace with everyone. What does the “light of G-ds face” mean? What does it mean when we say ‘her face lit up’ it means when a person smiles from ear to ear. Light was the first thing that G-d created. We know on the first day of creation G-d created light. It’s the fasted creation. First you see the lightening, because light travels faster than sound. Light travels over a thousand miles per second. Why is light the fastest creation> Because when one smiles on someone, it has an amazing power to in a split second enter the other persons heart. When we say to G-d “The light of Your face” We are meant to emulate Him and spread peace in the world with a smile. It’s a amazing to see how a person can feel so low, and you flash them a smile it can sometimes completely change a mood. The power of light is the power of your smile. We say, G-d please bless us all of us as one. Only through the power of us being one – G-d will shine his face upon us as a gift for us shining our faces on others.
“Because it was with this light that You gave us Living Torah, Kindness, Charity, Blessing, Mercy, Life and Peace” With G-ds smile He gave us Torah. Torah is meant to be alive. With this beautiful light of his face he gives us Torah and says “live it up!!” Don’t just do mitzvos, live them, experience them and love them. The desire to do kindness for others is a special blessing from Hashem. Its not just a given and we should pray for it. To love to do kindness for others is the main point. We continue to detail the blessings of shalom. We should give charity to one another. Everyone should bless each other. We should show one another mercy. We should help everyone to live a normal life. What people need we should help them to live. Go and help others. And Peace is mentioned again, just in case you got into a fight, you should make up and reestablish peace!The third type of peace is the absence of war. This is what we say “It should be good in your eyes, to bless the entire nation of Israel always with Your peace” That is G-ds protection. At all times, somewhere in the world there is bloodshed, fighting and warfare. If we could observe the world from space we would see that someone somewhere is murdering someone. We say “at every moment, at all times we are totally dependant on your blessing of peace”. This is what we ask for in the last part of the bracha.We end off this beautiful blessing with “Blessed are you G-d who blesses His people Israel with Peace”This mentions all three types of peaceinner peacepeace between all JewsProtection from our enemies and any sort of dangers that are lurking
May we be zoche to true peace in every sphere. And with this we have concluded the last blessing of the shemoneh esrei.
Q: How is Yom Kippur like Purim if historically Purim comes later than Yom Kippur? A: We are talking about the essence of the day being since the purpose of life in this world is to focus on our relationships with people. Since Purim focuses on people there's more potential of growth than a day like yom kippur. So we say that Yom Kippur is a very holy day but it doesn’t have the potential of Purim. A lot of people destroy there Purims from drinking. A person should drink just so much that their spirit soars. Not to get so drunk that you throw up all over the floor. The reason for all this is because the Yetzer Hara tries so hard to destroy the holiness of the day. Purim is a great day of prayer! Make sure to talk to Him on Purim because we have this beautiful potential of love and peace on Purim. We have such a tremendous opportunity to Pray to G-d. Imagine if all day your children got along and there was no fighting. You as a parent would be so happy you’d be willing to do anything on Purim!