Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sold his OlamHaba - Redeemed it by Mitzva providing for poor bride.

With tears in his eyes, R' Mottel cried to The Rebbe of Apta, "Rebbe, please help me, I need one thousand rubles to marry off my daughter and I have exactly one ruble to my name!"
"Well, one ruble is also something", said the Rebbe, "Go and purchase the first piece of goods that comes your way. Surely, G-d will bless you."

R' Mottel had faith in the words of the Tzaddik and so, encountering a group of rowdy merchants on his way home, his interest was aroused.

"Looking to buying something?" one merchant called out mockingly.

"Yes," he replied," I have one ruble."

"One ruble! Ha! Well, I have something I can sell for one ruble-my portion in the World to Come!"

And so, a contract was drawn up. Both the buyer and the seller signed their names, and Reb Mottel handed over the coin. The merchants' laughter filled the air.

When the seller's wife inquired what the laughter was about, her husband responded, "You see that beggar over there? I just sold him my portion in the World to Come!"

"What!" she cried. "You sold him the only thing of value that you own!? I want a divorce!"

The merchant was shocked. Didn't she know that this sale was just a joke? But his wife was perfectly serious.

So, the merchant called over Reb Mottel. "I'm afraid our little bargain is off." he told him, "I'll give you back your one ruble, and you give me back my paper."

But, Reb Mottel refused. "I am very happy with my purchase. I have no intention of returning it."

"How about if I add a few rubles compensation for the 'broken contract,'" he chuckled.

"No thanks," replied Mottel. "I won't settle for less than one thousand rubles!"

"What! Are you mad? One thousand rubles??! Forget it! Keep your paper!"

But the merchant's wife insisted. "I promise that if you don't buy that paper back, I will have a divorce this very day! I won't spend my life with a man who sold his portion in the World to Come!

The merchant realized he had no choice. He gave one thousand rubles to Reb Mottel who handed him back the document. Reb Mottel then told the seller's wife the words of the Apter Rebbe. She was so impressed that she went to visit the Rebbe herself.

"Was my husband's portion in the World to Come worth only one ruble?"
she asked the Rebbe, painfully.

Responded the Rebbe: "The truth is, before he sold it, it wasn't even worth that much. But when he redeemed it by 'buying' the mitzva of dowering a bride, the value of his Future Life soared, for such a mitzva cannot be measured in money!"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rachel Imeinu - Our Matriarch

Today, the eleventh day of Cheshvan, is the anniversary of the passing of our Matriarch Rachel, the most beloved wife of Yaakov.

When Rachel died, Yaakov and his family were only a short distance from the city Bet Lehem. Yet, Yaakov did not bring his dear wife Rachel into that town to be buried, nor did he bring her home with him to Hebron, but he buried her on the side of the road.

Why this seemingly uncaring behavior?

Yaakov foresaw that following the destruction of the First Temple, when the Jews would be driven from their homes and forced into exile, they would pass on this very road. Burying Rachel on the roadside would give these discouraged Jews the opportunity to cry out to Rachel. They would take courage from her presence, and she would beseech G-d on their behalf.

The prophet Yermiyahu describes what actually happened:

A voice is heard on high,
Wailing, bitterly crying.
Rachel weeps for her children
She refuses to be consoled
For they are gone.

And G-d's response:

"Restrain your voice from weeping,
"Hold back your eyes from their tears.
"For your work has its reward and your children shall return to their border."

According to the Midrash, at that time the other Patriarchs, Matriarchs and Moses, too, begged for mercy. But G-d remained silent. Then Rachel lifted her voice, and only she elicited the promise of redemption.

"O Lord of the Universe," she argued. "Consider what I did for my sister Leah." And immediately, G-d's mercy was aroused and He responded, "For you, Rachel, I will bring Israel back to their place."

Instead of a burial spot in the family plot in Hebron, she accepted a lonely burial, on the side of a deserted road. She did this in order to be there for her children who would live tens of centuries later

Rachel is the ultimate Jewish mother, sacrificing for our well-being and security. This feeling of limitless love and motherly concern is what draws people to her tomb to this day. Her grave will always remain a House of Prayer for she is a mother to all Israel, and continuously awaken mercy on our behalf.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Avraham's tests/our tests and challenges.

Avraham, the father of all nations, was the first true pioneer. He stood up to an entire world and trail blazed a spiritual path to life, forever changing history.

How can we emulate Avraham and acquire his courage in our own lives? Our father Avraham was tested with ten challenges, and he withstood them all. Does this mean that every man of faith needs to be challenged as well?

By virtue of being created in the "image of G-d", every soul contains enormous reservoirs of extraordinary potential. However, these powers remain dormant when not actualized. A true test of one's character is a challenge that actualizes our potential and brings the best out of us by revealing the powerful forces we carry within.

When we pass a difficult test in life, a deeper part of our soul is revealed, to the point that it can actually bring on true transformation of the human being.

Just as Avraham endured ten challenges, one more difficult than the previous, we, his children, too undergo in our lifetimes similar challenges. With one important difference-Once Avraham proved himself, his children do not need to be challenged with quite the same intensity.

The key thing to always remember, with every fiber of our being, is that these are all challenges that we have the power to withstand, and will help catapult us to greatness.

Avraham's story is our story. His travels paved the way for our own. His endurance empowers us with the ability to not just survive, but to thrive and to reach true greatness.

If that doesn't give us confidence and inspiration that we too can make it through our difficulties, then what will?