Thursday, October 14, 2010

7th of Cheshvan

We are taught that on the 7th day of the Hebrew month of MarCheshvan the Jews in Israel begin "to pray for rain; fifteen days after the festival of Sukkot." In the time of the Beit HaMikdash, even the pilgrim who had the greatest distance to travel back home from Jerusalem (after spending Sukkot there), had already returned home by this date and he wouldn't be inconvenienced by the rain that was now being prayed for.

Thus, till now, the spiritual high enjoyed by the Jewish people during their pilgrimage still continued. But, starting with 7th of MarCheshvan, all the Jews were already home and thus in a state of spiritual descent relative to their lofty state while in Jerusalem.

A Jew must continuously rise from level to level in holiness. Therefore, the Jewish people's spirituality after returning home from Jerusalem possessed a quality superior even to that of their lofty state during their pilgrimage.

Most Jews during those times were involved in agricultural matters. He was able to perform the agricultural commandments relating to Israel as well as drawing down holiness within all his physical affairs. This is something he was incapable of doing while he was in Jerusalem and at the Beit HaMikdash.

G-d desired to have a dwelling place in this physical world. We accomplish this by drawing down G-d's sanctity and permeating the mundane with holiness--taking physical objects and performing mitzvot with them.

While in Jerusalem, the person is mostly occupied with sacred matters. Thus, it is specifically on the 7th ofMarCheshvan, when the Jew returns to his home, that he begins to express the quality and merit of a personal spiritual service that involves elevating this material world, transforming the physical objects themselves, so that they become the actual dwelling for G-d transforming this world into a dwelling place for G-d.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

7th of MarCheshvan - Ahavas Yisroel - Jewish Unity

The 7th day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, is when the Jews in Israel begin "to pray for rain; fifteen days after the festival of Sukkot. In the times of the beit hamikdash during Sukkot, the entire Jewish people were in Jerusalem. By the seventh of Cheshvan, even the pilgrim who had the greatest distance to travel back home from Jerusalem had already returned home. It was then that the prayer for rain commenced, so that no one would be inconvenienced by the rain that was now being prayed for.

The delay of the prayers for rain until the last pilgrims reached their homes, is the concept of Jewish unity.

The Rebbe points out that despite the millions of acres of fields, orchards, and vineyards in need of these rains, the thousands of farmers passed up on their own desires, their livelihood – all until one Jew, the last one, finally returns home. The Rebbe teaches us a tremendous lesson. The fact that the Jewish People don’t ask for rain doesn’t mean that they’re all suffering just for the sake of one Jew who hasn’t come home yet. The benefit of that Jew is for my benefit! This is the true benefit of every Jew, passing up his own personal interests to the point that it becomes to his benefit that this Jew will return home without being inconvenienced by the rainfall.

The needs of another Jew are my needs!

The unity expressed by the seventh of Cheshvan relates to us as individuals.

Understandably that during the pilgrimage festivals, the essential unity of the Jewish people is expressed, however the 7th of cheshvan teaches us that Jewish unity remains even after each Jew returns to his own home and his individual lifestyle.

May we continue to work on Jewish unity in every way possible until the ultimate revelation of total Jewish unity and the unity of G-d and the entire world with the coming of Moshiach, NOW!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Card playing in Gulag/Check your own pockets....

One of the activities prohibited in the Gulag was card playing. It was considered a severe crime, and harsh punishment was imposed if one was caught violating this prison rule.

Somehow, the inmates managed to smuggle in a deck of cards and would while away their free time with the forbidden game.

The guards were told about the breach and came to inspect the prisoners' quarters. They found nothing.

As weeks went by, and the games continued, the guards were baffled. Were these uncouth prisoners really outsmarting them? They wondered.

They finally decided to put an end to this. They carried out a surprise inspection, checking every inch of the barracks as well as the bodies and clothes of the inmates.

They found nothing.

As soon as the inspectors left, the cards re - appeared, and the games continued as usual.

How was that possible? The inspectors had checked every possible hiding place.

Eventually,the secret was let out.

You see, they were professional pickpockets . As soon as the guards would enter the barracks, they would slip the cards into their - the guards' pockets. Right before they would leave, they would slip them back out again. Obviously it never occurred to the guards to check their own pockets...

The lesson is clear. If you want to make an accurate assessment of reality, start your search by checking your own 'pockets'.

Often when we make our spiritual and personal inventory, we instinctively look to place blame on those around us. "My parents are responsible," "my education is responsible," etc. Everyone is blamed except oneself. That is an easier and less painful way to do things, but it is not effective in the long run. In order to really put your life into order, we must not overlook our own "pockets."