Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Russian Soldiers /vodka . Direction of head.

One night, In old-time Russia, in Czar Nikolai's army, a few soldiers decided to secretly climb over the fence to pay a visit to the local inn. At the inn, they thirstily drank their vodka, their much longed for drink.

After a while one of the soldiers cried out: "Hey, we have to hurry up and get back to our base before inspection so that they don't catch us missing!"

The soldiers quickly paid and starting running back to the army camp, but having drunk too much one by one, they fell to the ground, at the side of the road.

It was their bad luck that just then one of the officers passed by and found them lying there drunk.
The next day, of course they were summoned to appear to the commander's office. The soldiers were trembling with fear, knowing they may be severely punished for what they did.
The commander spoke in a harsh voice explaining to them the army laws that they had transgressed.
Suddenly though, he changed his tone. His voice became softer and he said; "I also like to have some vodka from time to time. I understand your reason for escape, i am aware that it has been a long time since you were last allowed to visit the inn. Thus i have decided not to punish you for this act!"
"However", barked the commander pointing to one soldier, "Everybody is exempt from punishment - except you! You will be penalized because when i passed by on the road i noticed that all of the soldiers were lying with their heads in the direction of the army camp - except you. Your head was in the direction of the inn!"

We all have our ups and downs in our service of G-d. It happens that sometimes we may fall. However, what is important is - in what direction our heads are.

The downfalls lose their impact when we keep sight of our direction.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Grab the Jewels - i.e. the Mitzvot - NOW.

There was once a king who, wanting to show his appreciation to his new general for winning the war, offered to allow him to go into his treasury house for an hour and take whatever he wanted for himself.

The general was thrilled. He prepared a large sack and waited anxiously for the day. But then the king regretted his decision. Not wanting to renege on his promise the king's advisers advised the king to place musicians at the treasury house and have them play the most beautiful music. This would distract the general from despoiling the king's treasury.

Sure enough the plan worked. The general became paralyzed and fixated with the music. By the time the general realized that he was losing the chance of a lifetime, the hour of opportunity had passed. He wound up with just a few small items, but lost all that potential for riches because of his distraction with the orchestra.

Rav Eliyahu Lopian said this parable refers to this world. G-d puts us in this world and tells us to "grab the jewels", i.e. – the mitzvot. However, at the same time, G-d gives us distractions of life. We become fixated with these distractions. One day, someone taps us on the shoulder and says, "It is time to leave this world." We look back and bemoan the fact that we have missed our opportunity of mining this world for the spiritual treasures that were available to us. We leave the world empty handed or at best, we leave with our sacks half full.

When the mitzvot are just there for our taking, it is hard to imagine that there will come a time that they will not be there anymore. We need to foresee the future and take the proper implications from that vision.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Everybody has FREE CHOICE! Choose wisely, be good!

No matter who you are, or what your situation is, you can always make the choice to do the right thing. G-d gave you the gift of 100% free choice.

Our sages explain that if we merit, G-d will hasten the redemption for us, but if not then it'll come in its regular time. It's the very actions we do that cause Moshiach to come. G-d carefully constructed a perfect system that the result of any good deed is a better world. The redemption is not a reward, it’s just part of nature, it’s how G-d originally planned the universe.

Therefore, every single act that we do directly impacts the world as a whole either for the better or for the worse. As soon as enough good is done, Moshiach will automatically arrive. G-d created this system and gave us the free choice to use it.

We bring Moshiach. It’s completely in our hands.

It says that G-d heartened Paroh's heart. What does a hardened heart mean? Did Pharaoh no longer have free choice? The truth is that G-d still allowed Pharaoh free choice despite hardening his heart.

The mystics explain that G-d did not alter Pharaoh heart. Pharaoh’s heart became hardened automatically after a lifetime of evil and G-d sent Moses to warn him about the next plague despite his ‘hardened heart’ because everyone has 100% free choice.

Pharaoh, despite everything he had done which had hardened and desensitized his soul, still possessed a spark of good, a sliver of power to turn himself into a good person. There is no such thing as I can’t.

G-d always gives a person the tools he or she needs to do the right thing. No one is ever beyond the power of Teshuva, of returning to G-d and his good ways.

Every good deed we do not only makes our heart a little ‘softer’, more sensitive to spirituality, but automatically brings the entire world one step closer to Moshiach.

We are always in control, and we always have100% free choice. What we do with it is up to us! Let's choose wisely!