Tuesday, January 20, 2009

K'Ish Echad BiLev Echad

In Sefer Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh (Alef), Rav Itamar Shwartz, shlita, teaches in Seif 106, that H" is called a "Hidden G-d" (Yeshayahu 45:15). Where does he hide? In a person's heart.

We've all heard droshos on K'Ish Echad BiLev Echad. But if we dwell upon what the Bilvavi teaches here, it can change our world. If H" is hiding in my heart, then H" is hiding in your heart as well. He's also hiding in Reuven's heart, Shimon's heart and Levi's heart. He's hiding in the heart of your neighbor, your wife, your husband, your kids, and even those who you MIGHT find it difficult to get along with. It's our common denominator as Am Yisroel. When you look at any Jew, know that H" Yisbarach is hiding in that person's heart, just as He is in yours. If H" is hiding in his or her heart, then you should love that person "with all your heart".

Each of our soldiers went into Gaza with H" hiding in their hearts. Am Yisroel, with H" hiding in each and every one of our hearts, davened on their behalf. K'Ish Echad BiLev Echad.

Just an observation. No tefillah goes unanswered - look at the headlines in the days following the Operation Cast Lead:

Israel Discovers Gas! (IsraelNN.com) - Published: 01/18/09

Arab World on Verge of Collapse (IsraelNN.com) - Published Jan/19/09

Who knows what will be in the day's ahead? Klal Yisroel! Let's keep davening, keep learning, keep saying Tehillim - and let's look at each other in the Heart - knowing that H" is hiding there, within each of us.

Unite Klal Yisroel - Unite!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A " Group" of Flowers in the Garden

I saw a beautiful piece in Likutei Moharan (Samech Hei) that gave me great hisorerus. Rebbe Nachman Zt"l is talking there about how each word of Tefillah, and each time we daven, we are "gathering" beautiful flowers and roses. He compares it to a person walking in a field, and picking flower after flower to make a bundle - an Agudas Achas. The person then walks some more and makes another Agudah, and joins them together to make a beautiful bouquet. In the same way each letter of tefillah makes a word, and words create sentences, and sentences combine to make brachos, and brachos continue to make sugiyos - of Avos, Gevuros, Kedoshos, and onward... The Rebbe says there how great and wondrous this gathering is, that a person gathers and collects from the words of tefillah.

I was thinking when I learned this piece - if the gathering of letters and tefillos create such beautiful bouquets for the Ribbono Shel Olam, Kal V'Chomer, imagine the Nachas Ruach we give to H" through the GATHERING together of those who speak those letters and tefillos.

Klal Yisroel, Be Karov, Stay Karov - Live B'Shalom, and let's greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu together, B'Shalom.

Achdus in Gaza!

This article needs no explanation - It screams Achdus Yisroel!

Fighters' Jewish Spirit Returns

Tevet 19, 5769, 15 January 09 11:53by by IsraelNN Staff

An IDF rabbi shared this personal testimony...

I had the privilege this week [the week before the ground offensive into Gaza - ed.] of accompanying the Golani Brigade's Regiment 12 soldiers. I am the regiment’s rabbi, in reserves, and I was called up to serve just like the all the rest, to “aid Israel at its time of tribulation.”

As a long-time ba'al-teshuvah [returnee to observant Judaism], a rabbi in a yeshiva who usually walks around wearing a jacket and hat, I now had a major change of atmosphere: my black “uniform” became one of dusty dark green, the hubbub of the Torah study hall was replaced by not-so-pleasing army slang, and my wife's delicious food was given up for the “delicacies” of the mess hall, most of which I don’t eat because of one stringency or another.

We spent most of the week in wet tents, with the terrible cold preventing me from sleeping at night. (I apparently wasn’t working as hard as the other soldiers, because they fell asleep the second they hit the pillow.)
My work, as an official of the Army Rabbinate, was to give encouragement and strength to the soldiers, give out Books of Psalms [Tehillim] and distribute special prayers for those who go out to battle.

Psalms for AllAnd what did I discover down there in southern Israel? My brothers! The Golanchiks, about to go out to war, want to hold on to the Rock of Israel! There wasn’t a soldier there who didn’t equip himself with a Tehillim in his pocket or combat vest - but the big surprise we had was when we gave out tzitzit [four-cornered shirt with the required ritual fringes attached]. Usually only the yeshiva guys take them, but this time, every soldier there seemed to want one!

“Rabbi, bring me some tzitzit, my whole tent wants.” “Hey, achi [my brother], take one of these, it’s better than the ceramic vest!” These were the types of calls we kept hearing over and over. Every package of tzizit that we opened was snatched up within seconds.

There was one young fighter who came to the synagogue whose face fell when he heard that there were no tzitzit left. He was totally bereft, until one of the officers who wasn’t going out to battle took off his own tzitzit and gave it to him, saying, “Take it, achi (in the Golani you can’t say something without achi), you need it now more than I do.”

The Ma'ariv evening prayer of Friday night, Parashat Vayigash, was simply unbelievable. The Rabbinate realized that the synagogue was too small to fit all the hundreds of soldiers, and so it turned the soccer field into an impromptu synagogue, with prayerbooks, Holy Ark, and everything else.
Whoever did not take part in that Kabbalat Shabbat [Sabbath Welcoming] service, is like one who never took part in a Kabbalat Shabbat service in his life! Almost the entire Golani Brigade, officers and soldiers, yelling out the Kaddish and Tehillim prayers. If it wasn’t for the uniform I was wearing, I could have almost thought that I was at a Yom Kippur service in one of the large yeshivot!

No Questions AskedOur loving Father, too, was there, enjoying every minute of His sons gathering around Him. Our Father doesn’t ask, “Where have you been until now? Why do you remember Me just when you go out to war?” He welcomes all His children and embraces them with love.
After the Sabbath meal, held in an atmosphere of a great “high,” we were privileged to be able to hold an Oneg Shabbat for the soldiers. Chief IDF Rabbi Avi Ronsky was with us the whole Sabbath, and he warmed our hearts with stories of the Nation of Israel, on compassion, on brotherly love, and more. We sat outside with cake and sunflower seeds in the cold, but inside our hearts it was warm.

During the Sabbath, we had to travel to the places from where the soldiers would leave for Gaza. We arrived and the soldiers were imbued with combat spirit, getting ready, trying to get in a last cigarette. Many soldiers tried very hard not to smoke that Sabbath, after I explained to them the importance of observing the Sabbath. They would come up to me every five minutes and ask if the Sabbath had ended yet.

We prayed Ma'ariv there, recited Havdalah [the Sabbath-ending blessing] over grape juice, a lighter [instead of a candle] and an orange [in place of spices]. And then it was time to go in. The Regiment Commander gathered everyone for last-minute words of strength, and explained to them about the “corrective experience” we were about to impart to the enemy.

When he finished, the Deputy Commander read aloud the prayer before going out to battle. “Repeat after me,” he ordered, and a whole regiment of hundreds of soldiers yelled out, “Ana Hashem hoshia na! Ana Hashem hatzlicha na! [O G-d, save us! O G-d, grant us success!]” After the prayer, the Deputy Commander asked me to blow the Shofar, just as thousands of years ago when we conquered the Holy Land.

Perfect CoordinationThough I’ve blown the Shofar in public before, this particular time was something that will remain with me my whole life. And then, as if I and the Israel Air Force were in perfect coordination, the very second that I finished blowing the Shofar, our planes bombed the enemy area, as if it were a signal to begin the ground offensive.

The soldiers lined up in two columns, and as I parted from them with handshakes, I thought to myself, “What a special nation we have! This is how a Jewish army looks as it goes out to war – not with boastful ‘We will win’ stickers, but rather ‘We will win with G-d’s help.’”

No DisputeI will just end by saying that where I live in Modi'in Illit, we have a clever interpretation of the verse ‘G-d’s voice is powerful’ – the word for power is spelled with the letters kaf and chet, which we say are the initials of kova and chalifa [hat and suit], our usual garb. But as of this week, we now know that they are also the initials of the kumta chuma [brown beret] worn by the Golani soldiers. There, too, the voice of G-d is heard – and “lo pligi” (there is no argument between the two, both are right).

Click here to see a video of tzitzit distribution in the IDF, organized by kulanuachim

translated by Hillel Fendel

© Copyright IsraelNationalNews.com

Friday, January 9, 2009

Parshas Vayechi & The Message To Assemble!

In parshas Vayechi, the last parshah in Sefer Bereishis, Yaakov Avinu is about to die, and the first Rashi in the parshah says that once Yaakov passed away, the eyes and heart of Israel were closed because of the suffering of Mitzrayim. Rashi says there a Davar Acher, that the pasuk Vayechi Yaakov is "closed" because Yaakov wished to reveal the Keitz HaYamim to his sons.

I heard a beautiful shiur From R' Shmuel Zucker from Yeshivas Derech HaMelech (http://www.derechhamelech.org/audio/ravzucker.html)
discussing these ideas, as well as from R' Shmuel Brazil from Yeshivah Shaar Yoshuv (email me if you'd like me to forward you R' Brazil's shiur). R' Zucker points out that Parshas Vayechi is the parsha of L'Asid Lavo, where Yaakov Avinu makes Yosef swear to bury him in Eretz Yisroel, which is the Artzos HaChaim (the land of techiyas Hamesim) - The Makom of Olam HaAsid. As Yaakov Avinu is about to reveal the Keitz HaYamim to his children, the Shivtei Kah, Yaakov called for his sons and said "Assemble Yourselves..." - He'Asfu V'Agidu Lachem Es Asher Yikrah Eschem B'Achris HaYamim.

The point is so simple, yet so deep - as Klal Yisroel prepares for the Keitz HaYamim, which is so close that we can taste it, we have to "Assemble" ourselves. We have to Gather Together!

Yaakov Avinu was talking to us. Chaverim, during these turbulent times, we need to focus on this message. H" is behind all that is going on in the world. Every detail, every event is coordinated by H" with divine precision. The King is knocking on the door for us to hear, and we must listen to the words of the Parshah: Let's Gather Together! He'Asfu! Assemble!

Klal Yisroel - We should merit to be B'Shalom, and to hear the words of Yaakov Avinu and Moshiach Tzidkeinu saying that finally, the Keitz has arrived, bimhera veyamenu.

Gut Shabbos.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Achdut Before Ge'ula - Guest Post From Yeranen Yaakov

Yasher Koach to our Brother in Blogging - Yeranen Yaakov http://yeranenyaakov.blogspot.com for this cross post:

Ahdut Before Ge'ula

I've mentioned this idea before, but it bears repeating.The entire sefer Bereishit deals with infighting between brothers. It begins with Kayin against Hevel, Ham against Shem and Yafet, Yishmael against Yitzhak, Eisav against Yaakov, and finally, the brothers against Yosef.

As the verse says הנה מה טוב ומה נעים שבת אחים גם יחד. Why does it say "גם יחד"? This teaches you that it's a חידוש when brothers show togetherness.

Finally, in Vayigash, the brothers and Yosef make up with each other. But even more so, in Vayehi, we find 2 brothers that had no problems with each other at all - Ephraim and Menashe. Menashe was not jealous of Ephraim for getting the right-hand of Yaakov Avinu. This is why we bless our children with the verse that Yaakov Avinu uses: ישמך אלקים כאפרים וכמנשה.

And notice what comes right after he blesses Ephraim and Menashe:ויקרא יעקב אל בניו ויאמר האספו ואגידה לכם את אשר יקרא אתכם באחרית הימיםHe starts to want to talk about the End of Days.

The Ahdut of Ephraim and Menashe is the Ahdut we need during the time before the Final Redemption.

(See this video by R' Chaim Richman which also mentions this same concept.)

Notice that Akiva posted on how the whole of Israel is coming together during the war:
Radio stations, secular radio stations (!!!), are saying tehillim (psalms) on the air. Holy congregations are praying for the soldiers welfare and success. Chesed organizations (charities) have swung into action - preparing care packages for soldiers, preparing relief options for shell shocked southern residents under constant bombardment. Internal divisions have fallen away, all are taking steps to support and prepare....


Israel is standing together. Nervous, expectant, together. We may bicker and pick at each other. But like a family, it's all in the family and when in trouble we stand together.

May this Ahdut continue so that we may merit the Final Redemption.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ha'Sam Gevulech Shalom

B"H, we were zoche to receive a beautiful insight into the inyan of "Shalom" from our chaver Reb Yerachmiel from the Baltimore Community Kollel (Be sure to tune into his shiurim at http://dixieyid.blogspot.com/search/label/Balt.%20Comm.%20Kollel%20Chaburah ). Tizku L'Mitzvos.

"In the 2nd Hallelukah in our daily shacharis davening (Kapitel 147), we praise Hashem as follows: "Ha'Sam Gevulech Shalom" - "HASHEM, Who Places Peace In Our Borders".

Dovid HaMelech's words here are a special shevach to HASHEM, who has the koach to make our borders peaceful. The borders of our homes; the borders of our yeshivos; the borders of our workplaces; and, most importantly (and pashut peshat), the borders of Eretz Yisroel.

To me, those three words summarize the dream of Klal Yisroel while we're in galus, before the coming of our ultimate dream - Yemos Ha'Moshiach.

It's a chaval if this kapitel were to be, chalilah, skipped or not said with extra focus by so many of us each day, particularly given the current matzav in Eretz Yisroel. Now is the time to encourage people to be mechazek their daily tefillos and to stress this particular kapitel of tehillim during davening. It's clear that this pasuk is a pivotal one. It is staring at us longingly from our siddurim each and every day - but are we staring back at it and saying it with the same longing?"

H" Yisbarach, it should be your will to place peace within every inch of our borders.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Our Neshek Is Shalom!

Once again, the Jewish People are facing an Eis Tzarah. Now faced with a constant barrage of missiles from our enemies, missiles falling on Holy ground in Eretz Yisroel, into the lives of our brothers and sisters, our army is now on the ground in Gaza, fighting to protect our people. Who can sleep knowing what our soldiers are faced with? Kehillos all over Klal Yisroel are reciting Tehillim, begging H" for rachmanus and the safety of our soldiers. We need H"s help. H" is referred to in our tefillos as the "Ish Milchamah" and as the "Baal Milchamot". Chaverim, we need H"s help to fight and win this war, and to save our Holy Land.

I have tried to learn Torah, do acts of chesed, and daven and say Tehillim for our soldiers, and for the Yeshuah Sheleimah. But I've come to the conclusion that I have to try to do more. I'm not a soldier, and probably couldn't even hold a rifle correctly, but I want to fight for Eretz Yisroel in any way I know how. And so, I'd like to try in whatever way I can to spread achdus and shalom in my little world, and throughout Klal Yisroel as best I can.

We've all heard lots of talk about division and the LACK of shalom in our world. We've heard about polarization, and machlokes between different types of Kippas, Rachmana Litzlan. Everything has its time, and the time is ripe to work on this Avodah - of attempting in whatever way possible to make Shalom in Klal Yisroel.

As the famous saying goes, "Everything I ever needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten.." It's elementary that we ALL need to get along. How many of us have heard the line, "Can't we all just get along?" ad infinitum. What parent can tolerate when his children are not b'shalom? The slightest rift in a family creates emotional tidal waves within parents. WE are the family of Klal Yisroel. We need to be b'shalom. When you learn through Tanach, you see over and over again how H" can't tolerate any lack of shalom amongst his children. The King needs peace amongst his children, his subjects.

In truth, couldn't this really be so simple. If there was a course called Yiddishkeit 101, wouldn't the basic knowledge that we all need to be b'shalom be the obvious prerequisite. Living b'shalom - it's simple - it's the foundation of it all. We need to make shalom. In our homes, in our schools, in our shuls, in our communities - within Klal Yisroel.

I know a tzadekes that has a child that is sick, Rachmanah Litzlan (he should have a refuah sheleimah, b'karov). Last year, she contacted everyone she knew to beg them to put aside any past machlokesim - to make peace in any small way they could, in her son's zchus. What an inspiration this was. After all, Ayn Shalom, Ayn Klum - Without Peace, we have nothing! With Peace, we have it all.

I heard a shiur last week from an Adam Gadol who brought out some amazing yesodos on the power of Shalom in Klal Yisroel. As you may know, the literal translation of the word "Vayishma" is "and he heard." In Shmuel Alef, 15:4, however, the pasuk says, "..Vayeshama Shaul es ha'am" - in this context, the word "Vayeshama" means that "Shaul 'gathered' together the people." Thus, the word Shema can also connote gathering together.

With this understanding, he taught, we can understand the pasuk "Shema Yisroel, H" Elokeinu, H" Echad!" in a new and amazing way. "Shema Yisroel" - When Yisroel, the Jewish People, are gathered together - b'achdus, THEN H" IS OUR G-D, H" IS ONE. If we are not B'Achdus, if we are not gathered together, then we are creating a barrier for H" ECHAD, H" is One. How can we say "H" Echad", if the Jewish People, who are a chelek of H", are not B'Achdus - Gathered Together - B'Shalom! Shema Yisroel - Gather together Yisroel!

The way to get to the Keitz, to Yemos HaMoshiach, is with "Shema Yisroel" - with the gathering of the Jewish People - in Shalom! Think about it, Three times a day we say the Amidah - the last word of the Shemoneh Esrei is ... Shalom! The path we travel along within the Shemoneh Esrei is to reach the tachlis - which is the last word - Shalom!

We've all heard the the language of the prophet Ovadiah (1-18), “V’Hayah Beit Yaakov Aish, U'Beit Yosef L’Havah." Beit Yaakov AISH. This Adam Gadol pointed out that Aish is spelled Alef Shin. Alef Shin stand for Emes and Shalom. The Shoresh of Beit Yaakov, the Jewish People, is Truth (Emes) and Peace (Shalom).

As you know, After the Torah reading on Mondays and Thursdays, we say a series of Yehi Ratzon prayers, followed by "Acheinu Beis Yisroel". Why, asked this Adam Gadol, doesn't Acheinu start with Yehi Ratzon, like the tefillos that precede it? Answer: Because there is no greater Ratzon to H" than when Yidden say Acheinu for each other. When one Jew worries about another, and davens on his or her behalf, saying "Acheinu Beis Yisroel" - there is no greater Yehi Ratzon than this.

We're at the end of the Ikvasa D'Moshiach, and the King, H" Yisbarach, is about to establish his Kingdom openly in the world once again. The King needs to have shalom within his kingdom. With the sound of Maoz Tzur still ringing in our ears, and the Koach of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol still in the air, our nation needs "a few good men - or women - to join the Army of Achdus. During the times of Purim, it took one man - Mordechai, to change the world. Mordechai, with complete and total Emunah and Bitachon in H", knew that the Yidden needed salvation. He had a holy fire inside of him, and used that fire to ultimately bring about the salvation of our people. He placed that fire into the heart of Esther HaMalkah, and in turn she risked her life, to approach Achashverosh, against all odds, to save the Jewish Nation. Earlier in history, after the Yidden left Egypt and encountered the Yam Suf in front of them, and the enemy behind them, they also felt there was no way out. It wasn't until Nachshon ben Aminadav began to walk into the ocean, up to his neck, that the sea split and the nation passed through on dry land.

The lesson is so pure. So simple. We need to have Emunah and Bitachon that H" is about to bring about our complete salvation. We need to have the Mesirus Nefesh of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol, Esther HaMalkah, Mordechai HaTzadik and Nachshon ben Aminadav. And we need to use our Kochos to make Shalom within Klal Yisroel.

We're looking for soldiers to help the Army of Achdus. I would like to ask for your assistance in gathering together inspirational Torah on the power of Shalom and Achdus within Klal Yisroel. If you know of inspirational pieces by Gedolim, please send them our way for publication and distribution. If you happen to be close with an Adam Gadol that would be willing to write a Drasha on the power of shalom and achdus for distribution, please send them to us. If you have any ideas for shalom and achdus projects or initiatives, send them over. We would love to start distributing a Shabbos email with content on shalom and achdus.

With our soldiers facing a sha'as sakanah, let's make an Army of Achdus to bring about Shalom within Klal Yisroel, and to arouse H"s compassion so that the Ish Milchamah will bring about the ultimate and final redemption for our Holy people, B'SHALOM, bimheira v'yamenu.