Dec 30, 2018

Raize Guttman 12-30-18 (22 Tevet 5779)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 22 – Verse 2

A Jew must constantly be moving forward, he is not supposed to stand still. We believe in moving upward in holiness. The greatest pride for Jewish parents should be when their children surpass them in Torah and yirat shemayim. Our children, our students, whoever that we have an effect on, they are all considered your children. Being an example and transmitting Torah to future generations.

This is what we learn from the Akedah Yitzhak. It is not just about Avraham passing a test and becoming great. It's about Avraham passing a test and then passing on that great ability to serve Hashem with such great self-sacrifice that Yitzhak could pass the test too. And then they pass it to the tribes and onto the entire Jewish people.

Dec 23, 2018

Raize Guttman 12-23-18 (15 Tevet 5779)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 22 – Verse 1

In this shiur we begin the story of the Akeidah Yitzchak (the binding of Isaac). It is one of the best known stories in Torah. In it, Hashem orders Avraham to bind his son, Yitzchak, on Mount Moriah in preparation for sacrificing Yitzchak.

It came to pass that Hashem tested Avraham, He said to him, “Avraham.”
Hineni (הנני) "Here I am.” Avraham responded, not knowing what Hashem was about to ask.

This shiur will help you with everything you need to know to fulfill your mission in this world.

Thank you to Yachet Leah Geller for sponsoring this shiur in full for an elevation of the soul of her sweet sister and our cherished GEM alumna, Rachel (Roz/Roslyn) Croog, Rachel Tzipora bas Chaim Dov Ber ע״ה (GEM 9 Israel Trip). We miss her!     It is also in the merit of an elevation of the soul of their dear father, Rav Chaim Dov Ber ben Eliezer, ז״ל , who passed away a year and ten months ago, just shy of the age of 100. 
May they both have an elevation of their soul in the merit of our Torah learning.

May our learning also be a merit for:
A Refuah Schlema Perel bas Chana. 

 A l'ilui neshama to Sara bas Frank Adelman ZT"L

Dec 16, 2018

Raize Guttman 12-16-18 (8 Tevet 5779)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 21 – Verses 32 - 34

Avraham’s chesed came from his ability to see GDliness in everyone and he wanted to bring it out in them. Avraham proclaimed Hashem’s glory with all the chesed he did.

We too need to not just do kindness for others, but to do kindness for others for the right reason and with the right intentions. And that is to sanctify Hashem’s name and to bring him nachas and make him proud.

Our learning today is in the merit of our dear Gem sister Perel bat Chana, may Hashem grant her a refuah schlema.

Nov 25, 2018

Raize Guttman 11-25-18 (17 Kislev 5779)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 21 – Verses 22 - 31
Brief discussion about Chanukah.

Avraham makes a covenant with Avimelech in Be'er Sheva. For this covenant Hashem made punishments that impacted future generations. The lesson in this for us is clear, we need to be careful of who we associate ourselves with. We need to make certain that anyone who wants to befriend us, that this person is not going to pull us down in anyway or take us away from our goal in this life. Chose the people you associate with, and only be with people who pull you up.

Nov 24, 2018

Raize Guttman 11-18-18 (10 Kislev 5779)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 21 – Verses 17 - 21

Hashem has such mercy and kindness on Yishmael even though he will be awful in the future. He judges him for where he is at now. We too should see how Hashem judges us for who we are now. Do not give up hope! Hashem can make anything happen.

Some people grow up and some really grow up to become a gadol.

Nov 11, 2018

Raize Guttman 11-11-18 (3 Kislev 5779)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 21 – Verses 15 - 19
Rosh Chodesh Kislev - Hashem Loves Me Stories

The water that Avraham sent them off with now was gone, as Yishmael was sick. Hagar starts crying to Hashem, but it is about herself, not her son. We learn here about the tefillah from the one who is sick. Davening for yourself is even greater than when other people are praying for you. It was not Hagar’s prayer that Hashem answered bc she was basically praying for herself and her own pain. She had contradictory feelings, even though she learned from Sarah, she still had the self centeredness being born Pharaoh's daughter.

An angel comes to tell her, that Hashem has heard the voice of the young boy b’asher hu sham, (from where he is now). Teaches us not to judge someone from their past or their future, but where they are right now.

Hagar is then shown a well of water, they are saved and Hashem proceeds to inform Hagar that Yishmael will live and grow into a huge nation. How did she not see the well that was right in front of her eyes? In this we see the famous prayer to Rav Benyamin if you lost an object. Everything is in the realm of the blind until Hashem enlightens a person’s eyes.

Miracles and nature are the same thing, the only difference is the frequency of them. Miracles happen infrequently and nature happens frequently. Everything is a fingerprint of Hashem, whether it is natural or a miraculous, it does not make a difference. It is up to us. Every one of us is blind, until Hashem enlightens us and opens up our eyes. We have to ask for this, pray for this, beg Hashem for it. Please Hashem open my eyes so I can see you.

Nov 4, 2018

Raize Guttman 11-04-18 (26 Cheshvan 5779)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 21 – Verses 13 - 14

Hashem is comforting Avraham, don’t worry, Yishmael too is your son and he too will become a great nation.

Yitzhak possessed the middot of gevurah to serve Hashem in all circumstances in all situations. Yitzhak could stand up to the evil inclination. Yitzhak needed to be strong, and whole in order to pass that strength onto us. Because without it the Jewish nation could not survive in this long and bitter exile. It was too dangerous to risk having Yishmael around who could have been a negative influence on Yitzhak and may harm him or kill him. We know he was already jealous from his birth of Yitzhak.

Avraham sends them off with bread and water.

Oct 28, 2018

Raize Guttman 10-28-18 (19 Cheshvan 5779)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 21 – Verses 10 - 12

Sarah tells Avraham that Ishmael and Hagar have to go.

In the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (5:22) it states, “Anyone who has one of these three traits is a student of Avraham Avinu – Ayin Tovah (a good eye), Ruach Namucha (ahumble spirit) and Nefesh Shefala (a humble soul).”

Our learning today is dedicated to to the elevation of the souls of the 11 victims who lost their lives at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh Saturday morning.

Also we dedicate our learning to the elevation of the souls of Betzalel Dovid ben Ezriel (Raize's beloved father-in-law), who passed away this week and to Zelda bas Arieyeh Leib (Andrea's beloved Mother), who's yahrzeit is on the 20th Cheshvan,

Oct 21, 2018

Raize Guttman 10-21-18 (12 Cheshvan 5779)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 21 – Verse 9

Sarah identified to Avraham during Yitzhak weaning party that Ishmael was laughing in a mocking & cruel way. She said he has to go.

We learn there is laughter that brings you close to Hashem and laughter that brings you away from Hashem. Mocking & sarcasm are not a way to behave.

Today’s Torah learning is dedicated to the refuah schleimah of Andrea's beloved cat Charlie.

Oct 14, 2018

Raize Guttman 10-14-18 (5 Cheshvan 5779)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 21 – Verses 7 - 8

Hashem Loves me Stories - Chodesh Cheshvan

Avraham threw a "great" party after 24 months for the weaning of Yitzak. "Great" meaning all the prominent people of the generation were there. This party was to publicize the wondrous ways of Hashem - to give praise and esteem for Hashem in keeping his promise making this miracle happen. Who does all these amazing things?! It is only Hashem!

Today’s learning dedicated to the memory of Janet's beloved cat Waffles.

The Talmud states that “the Holy One, blessed be He, does not deprive any creature of any reward due to it." Further according to the teachings of the Arizal animals do in fact have independent souls, and they do go to heaven. (The Arizal is generally considered the final arbiter for all Kabbalistic teachings.) The Arizal explains that every created entity possesses a “soul.” This includes everything from rocks and other inanimate objects to animals and, of course, people. This soul or “spark of G‑dliness” not only sustains the creation’s existence, but it imbues the creation with its purpose and significance in the world.

Oct 7, 2018

Raize Guttman 10-6-18 (28 Tishrei 5779)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 21 – Verses 2 - 6

Unfortunately, there is no recording of this shiur, due to technical difficulty.

I am posting notes below instead.

Verse 2 - And Sarah conceived and bore a son to Avraham in his old age, at the time of which Hashem had spoken to him.
When Hashem had the angel appear to Avraham & tell him that Sarah would have a child it was on Pesach. This angel made a scratch on the wall and said to Avraham, when the sun makes a full year circle, that is when Sarah gave birth. On the 15th of Nissan one year later she gave birth.

Verse 3 - And Avraham named his son who had been born to him, whom Sarah had borne to him, Isaac.
The Torah keeps repeating this over and over to amplify this miracle. Both Sarah and Avraham could not have children and yet Hashem made a miracle. Even the impossible is possible. In the end everything will be good.

Verse 4 - And Avraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as Hashem had commanded him.
8th day of his life is when circumcision is set for every Jewish male.

5 - And Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born to him.
The name Yitzchak means "he will laugh." - in the future. People are going through difficult times and it feels like a 100 years that someone can suffer and yet he will laugh. Also talking about the times of Moshiach when everyone will laugh. Yitzchak helps us get through the pain of life.
Power of laughter, miracles and making the impossible possible.

Yitzchak is made up of 4 letters, the Midrash says of these:
(yud)is the numerical value 10. 10 commandments – he will be the progenitor of the Torah
(yud) is an Abbreviation for y'zeh chek. A law will go out to the world. He will be the father of the nation that will receive the divine law.
(tsadeh) The numerical value is 90. Sarah was 90 when she gave birth to Yitzchak.
(Chet) has the numerical value is 8. Yitzchak has his bris was on the 8th day. He was the first Jew to get his bris on the 8th day (on time). Avraham in contrast Yitzchak his bris when he was 99.
7 is the number of nature, so 8 represents supernatural. A Jew can come past his desires and become holy. He represents the supernatural.
(Kuf) – is 100 – Avraham was 100 years old when Yitzchak was born to him.

Verse 6 - And Sarah said, "Hashem has made joy for me; whoever hears will rejoice over me.”
H filled my life with joy, laughter, happiness after 90 yeas of waiting.

Rashi says we see what an amazingly righteous woman she is. So many people got well & so many prayers were answered. The world was filled with joy in her merit.

Rav Palm says Sarah’s happiness would not be complete if all these problems existed. So, many barren women were remembered with her; many sick people were healed on that very day; many prayers were answered with hers, and there was much joy in the world.

We need to think about other people. A person cannot just think about himself. Happiness only comes through going beyond yourself. Wishing others what you wish yourself.

Nosay B'ol Im Chaveiro (carrying the burden of your friend). Feel the pain and the joy of someone else as if it is your own. Because really we are all one and connected. We are one person with one heart. This is how it was at Har Sinai.

Why is it easier to feel others pain than joy? Because there is no jealousy in pain.
When people have a Simcha do we always run to share in it? There is a bit of jealousy in joy, many times we just don’t want others to have more good than us.

Remember you should love your fellow man like yourself, that is what Torah says. We should wish for others exactly what we wish for ourselves. Hashem had to heal and answer everyone’s teffilos because Sarah could not feel her own joy if others did not feel their joy.

09-30-18 (21 Tishrei 5779)

No class due to Sukkot VII (Hoshana Raba)- diaspora & Shmini Atzeret - Israel

09-23-18 (14 Tishrei 5779)

No class due to observance of Sukkot.

Sep 16, 2018

Raize Guttman 09-16-18 (7 Tishrei 5779)

Yom Kippur

It is said that 3 books are opened in heaven on Rosh Hashanah , one for the completely wicked, one for the completely righteous and one for those in between. And since the extremes of complete righteousness and complete wickedness are few and far between, Rosh Hashanah functions, for the majority of people, as the opening of a trial that extends until Yom Kippur. Aseret Yemei Teshuva (days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) are an important component in the process of repentance & change.

Unetanah tokef (the famous pious poem) discusses the fact that between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur there is an opportunity “to avert the severe decree” through three actions: teshuvah (repentance/to return), tefillah (prayer), and tzedakah (charity).

The requirements for repentance include a change of mind, a feeling of regret, and a determination to change, along with an effort to repair the effects of one’s misdeed.

Raize highlights many practical and meaningful ideas as to how we can understand, rein-act & return to our one and only source Hashem.

Our learning today is dedicated to our beloved Chaya Rivka bas Miriam in celebration of her birthday. May she continue to be an inspiration to us all!

Sep 5, 2018

Raize Guttman 09-02-18 (22 Elul 5778)

Rosh Hashanah

Raize Guttman 08-26-18 (15 Elul 5778)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 21 – Verses 1
Rosh Hashanah

We read this pasuk on Rosh Hashanah - how significant that we are learning it today! In this verse Hashem "remembered" Sarah, and she became pregnant. A big part of our Rosh Hashanah services is about Zichronos (Remembrances). In the shiur today Raize gives over this concept of remembrances to remind us that Hashem never forgets us and the special relationship we as the Jewish people have with him.

The greatest way we expressed ourselves to Hashem in our entire history was when we went out of our comfort zone and followed Hashem blindly into the desert. Zacharti lach chesed ne’urayich - lechtech acharai bamidbar – I recall the kindness of your youth - you followed Me into the wilderness.”

Lechtech - take a small step in a new direction - make a kabala
Acharai- accept Hashem's will that everything is the way it should be - everything in it's right time.
Bamidbar - go out of your comfort zone into the wilderness

May we all be zoche, to truly be inscribed for a Shanah Tovah u’metuka – a deliciously sweet year - and be able to actualize these 3 ideas.

Our learning today is l'ilui neshama for our dear GEM sister Rachel (Roslyn) Croog.

Aug 19, 2018

Raize Guttman 08-19-18 (8 Elul 5778)

We continue with our discussion of Elul.

One of the major ways of connecting in Elul is through tefillah (prayer). The word tefillah is derived from the Hebrew word pileil (which means to judge), and the act of engaging in tefillah is described in the reflexive “lehitpaleil, (to judge or to analyze oneself). Authentic prayer requires self evaluation where one takes a long, hard and honest look at himself in the shadow of Hashem's presence where nothing can be hidden or denied. Tefillah is a way to look inward and get to know what my emotions are all about. Have I been living up to my potential? Have I used the gifts that God has given me properly?

Avodah shebalev (service of the heart), our sages teach us this is done through prayer.

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 20 – Verses 12 - 18
Avraham prays for Avimelech. We learn how powerful it is to pray for another person.

Today’s learning dedicated to the memory of Yoshua Hanoch ben Moshe Zalman, and Shmuel ben Shepsil Meir.

Our thoughts, love and prayers go out to our dear Gem sister Rivka Jacobs.

Aug 12, 2018

Raize Guttman 08-12-18 (1 Elul 5778)

Rosh Chodesh Elul

Today is day one of the very auspicious time leading into the Yamim Noraim (High Holidays).

It is taught that the Hebrew letters ELUL (aleph, lamed, vav, lamed) are an acronym for the verse from Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs), Ani L'Dodi V'Dodi Li - I am my beloved's and my beloved is to me.

Elul is all about relationships – it is all about connections – to ourselves, Hashem and others.

We say Chapter 27 in Psalms. It is the most beautiful expression of this entire period.

Aug 5, 2018

Raize Guttman 08-05-18 (24 Av 5778)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 20 – Verses 8 - 11

In verse 11, we come to a very famous Torah verse where Avraham says, "Surely there is no fear of Hashem in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife."

We discuss Yiras Shamayim (fear of heaven) and exactly what that means.

Jul 30, 2018

Raize Guttman 07-29-18 (17 Av 5778)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 20 – Verse 7

Jul 22, 2018

Jul 15, 2018

Raize Guttman 07-15-18 (3 Av 5778)

The Nine Days

What is the purpose of the 9 days and what are we supposed to be doing?

This is the period of the mourning for the destruction of our 2 Holy Temples. The Gemara in Yoma states that the First Holy Temple was destroyed because of the 3 Cardinal sins
gilui arayot (adultery), avodah zora (idol worship) and shichut damin (murder), and the 2nd Holy Temple was destroyed because of sinat chinam ( baseless hatred.)

We need to do a cheshbon hanefesh ( to analyze & account for these reasons the 2 Temples were destroyed), so we can serve Hasehm with avodah shebalev, merit redemption from this long gallus and be zoche to see the rebuilding of the 3rd Temple.

Jul 8, 2018

Raize Guttman 07-08-18 (25 Tamuz 5778)

Bein ha-Metzarim (the 3 weeks), 9 days and Tisha B'Av

3 weeks are the 21 days between the 17 Tamuz and 9 Av.
The Three Weeks, and especially Tishah B'Av itself, is a time of introspection, when Klal Yisrael as a whole tries to feel the pain of the Churban Beis Hamikdash and relate to it on a personal level.

Jul 1, 2018

Raize Guttman 07-01-18 (18 Tamuz 5778)

Shivah Asar B’Tamuz – The fast on 17th day of Tamuz

Jun 24, 2018

Raize Guttman 06-24-18 (11 Tamuz 5778)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 20 – Verses 2 - 6

Avraham said about Sarah his wife, "She is my sister," to Avimelech the King of Gerar, and he sends someone and takes Sarah.

From these verses we learn:
* We need to purify our intensions.
* We need to use what Hashem gives us properly & to it's fullest potential.

Jun 22, 2018

Jun 10, 2018

Raize Guttman 06-10-18 (27 Sivan 5778)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 20 – Verse 1

Avraham leaves the land of the south.

From this verse we learn out a person has to combine 2 things in service of Hashem – Sur mei’ra (turn away from evil) and va'aseh tov (do good).

Jun 3, 2018

Raize Guttman 06-03-18 (20 Sivan 5778)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 19 – Verses 34 - 38

Both of Lot's daughters got pregnant. The eldest daughter names her son Moab (“from my father") The younger names her son Ben-Ammi (“son of my clan”), a more veiled & modest reference to the situation.

It is unimaginable for us, but our Sages say that the story of the daughters of Lot was in order to extract two good sparks & this was all part of Hashem’s master plan. The two sons of the daughters, grew into two mighty nations, Moav and Amon. From Moav descended Ruth, the famous convert who was destined to become the great grandmother of King David, and ultimately of Mashiach. Rus is known as "Ima shel Malchus" (the mother of royalty). From Ammon descended Naamah, wife of King Solomon, and mother of his firstborn son and heir, Rehoboam who was the first King of House Judah.

May 27, 2018

Raize Guttman 05-27-18 (13 Sivan 5778)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 19 – Verses 30 - 33

Lot and his daughters flee the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The angels told him that the city Zoar would not be destroyed & they should go there, but afraid of staying in Zoar, they went into the hills outside, where they took refuge in a cave. The daughters believe that the whole world has been destroyed & therefore they assumed it was their responsibility to bear children and enable the continuation of the human race. They set into a plan which was abhorrent and immoral but seemed to them to be the only possible action to take. They decided to get their father drunk with wine and slept with him.

Raize Guttman 05-20-18 (6 Sivan 5778)

No class due to observance of Shavuot

May 13, 2018

Raize Guttman 05-13-18 (28 Iyar 5778)

Counting the Omer - middot of Malchut

Shavuot Shiur

Shavuot is the day Hashem revealed himself to the entire nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai and gave us his Matan Torah.

All of our holidays/festivals are called a moed. A moed is a meeting place. These are days we can "meet up" with Hashem. These are days that give us spiritual energy - Not physical energy by giving us days to rest and not go to work. These are days to tap into the deep spiritual energy available in the world. We should learn Torah, daven, say Tehillim. Shavuot is the day Dovid HaMelech was born and the day he died and he wrote Tehillim. Find a way to bring down the sparks of holiness and have them come inside of you. Do what you can do to feel spiritual. Talk to Hashem, he is right there. He spoke to us on Har Sinai, so why cant he speak to us now?! But if you want him to speak to you then you have to open the conversation. He will talk back to you, you just have to start .

May 6, 2018

Raize Guttman 05-06-18 (21 Iyar 5778)

Shavuot Shiur

Torah fills the world in the same way it did over 3300 years ago. On that great day Hashem gives us Z'man Matan Torah – the gift of Torah every single year for all time.

Apr 29, 2018

Raize Guttman 04-29-18 (14 Iyar 5778)

Pesach Sheni - The 2nd Passover

Sefirat ha Omer - Middos Hod

Lag B'Omer

Apr 22, 2018

Raize Guttman 04-22-18 (7 Iyar 5778)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 19 - Verses 26 - 29

Counting the Omer - Middos Netzach

Apr 15, 2018

Raize Guttman 04-15-18 (30 Nisan 5778)

Rosh Chodesh Iyar

Iyar is the second of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar.

The mazal for Iyar is the shor (an ox). It is unique amongst all of the months of the year, as it is a full month of Chol Hamoed. Every single day in Iyar, brings with it the opportunity to perform a mitzvah, with commandment to count the Omer.

Apr 8, 2018

Raize Guttman 04-08-18 (23 Nisan 5778)

Sefirat ha Omer (Counting the Omer) shiur

Pesach night is a special gift called an isruta de leela (an uplifting from above), and after nightfall on the 2nd night we count 49 days later & arrive at Shavuot night where Hashem sends the great gift of Torah down into the world just as he did on Mt. Sinai over 3300 years ago. We do not merely pass through the days between Passover and Shavuot — we accumulate them.

During Sefirat ha Omer we count the days by working on making ourselves into a suitable vessel for the showering of Torah Hashem give us on Shavuot. By working on our character traits during the 49 days we spiritually prepare and refine ourselves.

49 Days of counting 7 Middos (traits). All other traits come from these 7 traits & if you work on them, you are working on all your middos.

Raize Guttman 04-01-18 (16 Nisan 5778)

No class due to Pesach observance.

Mar 25, 2018

Mar 18, 2018

Alisa Taub 03-18-18 (02 Nisan 5778)

Pesach Shiur

Alisa poses a fascinating question - Why do we have the mitzvah to tell over the story of the exodus from Mitzrayim at our Seder but we have no bracha on it, until the end of the Seder after Hallel?

Mar 11, 2018

Raize Guttman 03-11-18 (24 Adar 5778)

Pesach Shiur

Getting rid of chametz is so much deeper than just cleaning our homes. It is about getting rid of the chametz inside of ourselves. If we get rid of our physical chametz, we will eat the spiritual on Pesach.

Today's learning is dedicated to the memory of Dovid Binyamin ben Avraham Elyah.

Mar 5, 2018

Raize Guttman 03-04-18 (17 Adar 5778)

Getting ready for Pesach

How to hold onto the joy from Purim and have it propel us into Pesach which is one month away. Everybody already comparing what they are doing & not doing, which leads to a lot of stress.

Feb 25, 2018

Raize Guttman 02-25-18 (09 Adar 5778)

Purim Shiur

Purim is the only holiday when we experienced Hashem when he was hidden in the cloak of nature, and even so we found him. The message of Purim is that life seemingly looks like it's about different events that take place and they are meaningless. But even when things look "natural" and "not so clear", we recognize Hashem in the mundane and seemingly natural ways of life.

Today's learning is dedicated to the righteous memory of Rav Shmuel Auerbach, for the refuah schlemah of Dovid Binyamin ben Malka, Yoshua Hinuk ben Golda, & Chaya Rivka bas Miriam.

Feb 20, 2018

Raize Guttman 02-18-18 (03 Adar 5778)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 19 – Verses 17 - 25

Feb 11, 2018

Raize Guttman 02-11-18 (26 Shevat 5778)

Rosh Chodesh Adar

When one enters into the month of Adar, one elevates his joy.

Feb 4, 2018

Raize Guttman 02-04-18 (19 Shevat 5778)

After a brief discussion on Tu B'Shevat,
we continue with Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 19 – Verses 14 - 16.

The angels implore Lot to gather all his family and leave Sodom quickly before Hashem destroys the city. Lot goes to get his 2 other daughters who were not living with him. He speaks to their husbands & tells them to leave and they in turn laugh & mock him. Lot then tarries until the next morning as he was worried about saving his money. The angels grab his hand, along with his 2 daughters and wife and place them outside the city.

In Torah, Man is compared to a tree, we are the only 2 of Hashem's creations that go against gravity and grow upward.

Materialism took Lot away from Hashem.
In order to stay on our path of watchfulness, we must remember to always:
1 - involve ourselves with holy and spiritual things.
2 - be serious and take things seriously and have appreciation.
3 - pick good friends that help us grow.

May we be zoche to always grow upwards in our spirituality & relationship with Hashem.

Jan 28, 2018

Raize Guttman 01-28-18 (13 Shevat 5778)

There was no class today due to technical difficulties.

Jan 21, 2018

Raize Guttman 01-21-18 (5 Shevat 5778)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 19 – Verses 9 - 13

The mob is very displeased with Lot’s judgment on how to treat guests & are becoming violent as they are ready to break down Lot's door.

The angels teach us that people have to be cautious in dangerous situations. Don’t just rely on miracles. There is a fine balance between hishtadlus (personal effort) and bitachon (trust). Everything comes from Hashem, but Hashem is waiting to see how we take the initiative to help ourselves.

The angels also teach us that sometimes a person can be so influenced by his surroundings that he does not see clearly what is right and what is wrong anymore - he becomes blind. As long as he knows that certain behaviors are considered wrong or an abomination, then he can protect himself and save himself from it. It could happen that someone close to us; dear to us, does something or acts in ways that are immoral - or they ridicule us or go against what is right. So when you find it is impossible to protect yourself from their actions, then we have to separate ourselves from that person. As painful as it is, we have to remain strong and clear in our values.

Jan 14, 2018

Raize Guttman 01-14-18 (27 Tivet 5778)

This week is Rosh Chodesh Shevat, the 11th month on the Jewish calendar. Each month conveys it own unique message & symbol that teaches us about the power of the month. This month's symbol is a D’li (a pail/bucket). (דְלִי). A bucket has one function - to draw and carry water. In other words, to be a vessel of transmission. A pail's whole essence is one of serving.

On Rosh Chodesh Shevat Moshe began his 37 day elucidation of the Torah to the Jewish people. Moshe was a huge dli that brought up the water (The Torah) to the house of Israel, so they should drink.

The theme of this month of Shevat is the concept of renewal and rebirth. As it is within nature, so too this special time alludes to the potential for restoration within each person, for the Torah uses the metaphor "Is the tree of the field a man?" (Devarim 20:19). Just as renewal is within the grasp of the natural world, so too it is within our grasp. As the trees around us receive this new spark of Hashem's energy, so too can people be affected by it as well.

Celebrating Rosh Chodesh is the first mitzvah we received as a nation. As we welcome this new month on the calendar, let us also welcome a new beginning into our lives!

Jan 7, 2018

Raize Guttman 01-07-18 (20 Tivet 5778)

Parsha Vayeira - Chapter 19 – Verses 4 - 8

Lot is now back at his home with his 2 guests (the angels). An angry mob is outside demanding Lot bring them outside so they can "be intimate with them." Lot goes outside alone &offers his daughters to the mob in lieu of the guests.

These verses bring down how mixed up a person can become when they are living amongst wicked people. We can lose clarity on what is right and wrong, and the bad behaviors become habituation and then part of our nature.

Today our tests are so great because in our generation, with a click of a button we can bring Sodom into our homes and bedrooms. We have to constantly catch ourselves. Hashem created us all with a conscience. It may be buried under layers and layers of bad behaviors, but even so it is still there and it is still pure & will always remain pure.

We need to wake ourselves up & feel what is right and what is wrong again. And always be with people who are going to help us grow and raise us up as this is the way to keep our vision clear and our conscience bright.