Sunday, August 7, 2011


At one time or another we all come face to face with an event that appears so terrible that it threatens us emotionally and psychologically. How are we to view the difficulties of our life, when everything appears bleak and we cannot see beyond the limits of our own pain.
Contrary to our experience of challenging events, the Torah tells us that "Nothing bad descends from Above". Everything that happens is inherently good, for it stems from G-d, the "epitome of goodness".

We are coming toward Tisha B'av, when we mourn for the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. When we had the Holy Temple - we were in a spiritual freedom. G-d's blessings were perceived as such, without the obscuring veil of nature. Meaning, we were able to see the Divine revelation and we recognized that everything was directly from the hand of G-d.

However, in the state of exile that we find ourselves now - we are unable to perceive the G-dly spirit that is controlling our destiny. In reality, nothing has changed - the world is still controlled by the Divine Designer - it is only our perception that has changed.

On the surface exile appears to be a terrible punishment for our sins, but the challenge of exile is what unleashes the greatest most potent forces of our soul.

Despite the countless regimes that have oppressed us, one constant has remained and that is our unwavering faith in G-d. There is nothing that the Jewish people who lived during the times of the Holy Temple could have done to express such deep soul-commitment. Only we, who live in the darkness of exile have been challenged to tap the deepest, most powerful resources of our soul.

We must view difficulty not as a negative experience, but a the greatest facilitator of growth. And while these situations are often beyond our control, our attitude IS within our control. We have the ability to accept the challenges as they were meant to be - opportunities for positive growth. Although we may never fully understand why certain things happen, ultimately, they can - and therefore must - make as better people.

Parshat Masei - Aharon's passing

In this week's Torah portion of Maasei, we read about the journeys of the Jews in the desert, and about the different places where they camped. One of those places was Hor Hahar, where Aharon the High Priest passed away. And it says that Aharon passed away on the first day of the fifth month.

Chassidut teaches that on the anniversary of a person's passing, everything he strived for during his life, all his holy work, gets added strength and brings about change in the world. This is true of every Jew, and especially true of a great tzaddik like Aharon HaKohain.

We can see a clear connection between Aharon's work and the date of his passing. The first day of the fifth month is Rosh Chodesh Av, it's a sad time for the Jewish people. It's the beginning of the nine days during which we mourn the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash.

The Torah states that Aharon passed away, "on day one" of the month. The word "one" reminds us of Aharon's special work. He was a person who loved peace and pursued peace, He would do all he could to stop arguments and help people join together in unity.

Our Rabbis tell us that the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash and the exile which followed happened because of a lack of unity. If this is so, then creating more unity takes away the reason for the exile, and when there is no reason for this exile then it will come to an end!

So that extra power of unity which comes on the anniversary of Aharon's passing, [which is this coming Monday] is just what we need to help us during these sad days.

We must follow in the path of Aharon, as our Rabbis tell us: "Be like the students of Aharon - love peace and pursue peace." And just as Hor Hahar was one of our nation's last stops on the journey to the Holy Land, the journey of the Jewish people throughout the centuries will reach its destination - the redemption! Amen, now!

Sholom! PEACE!

The Midrash relates that when G-d wanted to create man He asked the attributes what they thought about it. 'Chesed'/ Kindness, said, create man because he will perform acts of kindness. 'Emes'/ Truth, said, do not create man for man fills the world with lies and deceit. 'Tzedek'/ Righteousness, said, create man because he will give charity. Lastly 'Sholom'/ Peace said absolutely not. People quarrel all day and there is no peace. To break the deadlock G-d threw 'Truth' to the ground and ruled two against one in favor of creation.

R' Bunim of Pshische says, 'Why did G-d throw away 'truth'? Why didn't He throw away 'Peace'? Because we can't exist without Peace.

R' Bunim once passed by a construction site and noticed that a worker was having a hard time fitting two pieces of wood together, for one side had something sticking out of it and it wouldn't fit peacefully into the other. So what did he do? He carved into the wood of the other piece, making space for this piece to fit in smoothly.
Turning to his followers, he said, "You see how peace is made between two conflicting parties? Don't force the stubborn one to give in to you - But rather make space in yourself for the other side to fit into you. Then you can live in harmony.

Peace is the greatest thing of all. The Mishnah says, ""G‑d did not find a vessel that could hold blessing other than shalom (peace)."

The rebbe of Lublin said, It is better to live with your relative, friend or neighbor in a state of a false peace than to be honest and live in a true state of conflict.
Even though it is not a true peace, but because it carries the name - sholom/peace it will [we hope] eventually lead to true peace. However, conflict just gets worse and worse. It gets blown out of proportion till its fire can be too difficult to extinguish.

Sholom is peace. Sholom is G-d's name.

Make this a peace filled day!