Wednesday, 30 March 2011

One Cannot be Equally Devoted to Both! A Lesson of Value

Imagine for a moment - you actually have some free money available to do some good with. The Mitzvah of charity stares you in the face, and within moments (every day!) you're confronted with a variety of opportunities of where to give the extra Tzedakah. A man looking disheveled knocks on your door. He needs help! An orphan - never having had a father - needs to build her home. She too needs help. Let's not forget the whales who are battling in the ocean on a daily basis - because there are many there out at sea, in need of our urgent assistance! To which cause do we give our hard earned money?! 

It sounds like an easy question. There are so many causes that using our money where we believe it will do the most good must be the right answer - every time! But are we always as honest in evaluating our value system as we ought to be?! After all, what do we do when we can choose between purchasing an attractive new car (beyond the norm of necessity) and an orphan approaches us *then* with his/her needs in life?! Or what about when it comes to purchasing the latest technological gadget available today (with a new one coming out tomorrow!) and a family sunken in debt just trying to make ends meet. What do we do then?!

Or how do we choose to spend our fortunes when it comes to a choice between paying another honestly without the need for bargaining, trickery or simply not paying - and instead using the money for a new pair of Tzizit, new Tefillin, or the largest most beautiful Mezuzas available?! Would it really be so terrible to focus (just this once!) on *my* needs and let others take care of themselves (after all they too should work for their own money!)

The story below is an amazing one and brings out the truth that so many of us face every single day of our lives. Are we prepared to read it with honesty and weigh out our own value system of where we choose to spend the money which G-d has blessed us with?! Or are we still caught in the trap of "My strength and the power of my own hands" - has brought me all my wealth?!

The story below is taken from "Chiku Mamtakim" - stories about Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and I found it on today's "Stories to Share" - a beautiful one page summary of the Amud HaYomi of Mishna Berurah. It seems that only with a regular study schedule of Jewish law can one begin to learn the truth of what it really means to be a good person. It takes much work and effort, but the learning is necessary in order to know what we need to do in order to refine ourselves, to work off any selfishness that might exist within ourselves and transfer this into true Jewish giving.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was once consulted by a man  who claimed that he could purchase the very same Shas from  which the Vilna Gaon himself had learned.  “It even has the  tallow marks from the Gaon’s very own candle,” the man said blissfully. “I can pick it up for a mere thirty thousand shekels. Does the Rav think I should do so?” 

Thirty thousand shekels was a huge sum of money in those years. Nevertheless, this man felt it was worthwhile to pay this sum of money for a Shas that the Vilna Gaon had used. 

Rav Shlomo Zalman did not agree. “Instead of wasting so much money, why not take my Shas? It is also old and we can drip candle wax on it too, if that will make you happy!” 

Some time later Rav Shlomo Zalman called this man and told him about a widow who needed to marry off her children. “In order to pay all of her obligations she needs thirty thousand shekels...” 

When it was clear that the wealthy man would not be forthcoming with the money, Rav Shlomo Zalman commented, “Know that one is either excited about a collector’s item for  which he is willing to pay thirty thousand shekels, or he is moved by the pain of a widow who requires thirty thousand to  marry off her children. Apparently, one cannot be equally devoted to both!” 

Don't forget - a widow is not just a spider - she's a real person who has lost her husband. She might even need an extra dollar to maintain her usual lifestyle of life.

If you value the importance of a Jewish life more than the value of a book that was learned by a great man, do check in at where you can find a number of beautiful projects such as helping couples to start their married life together and taking part in supporting Torah scholars (the one's who actually study those "old" books.)

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Great Value of a Beautiful Wife: Dedicated to Those Special Women...

We read stories about the Tzaddkim at the Melave Malka (the fourth "Shabbat" meal) as we see the Shabbat out - to bring blessing into our next week - to take a message with us and hold on to it as we work through another six days - until another special day of rest.

This story from Ascent of Safed is dedicated to all those beautiful women who value their husbands, support them in doing more goodness and kindness in the world, and who value the Torah as the ultimate guide in helping us all reach these beautiful goals. May those on the receiving side be worthy of giving back to them appropriately to thank them in some way for their truly altruistic kindness.

In loving memory of ARYEH-LEIB HAKOHEN ben Eliyahu & Malka (Leon A.) LAUTERBACH, 
who just passed on to his heavenly reward on Shabbat Erev Purim.
The Feminine Antidote

The Midrash says that Aharon's two oldest sons, Nadav and Avihu, died young at the time of the dedication of the Tabernacle in the desert because they never married. However, the Torah verse (Lev. 10:1,2) specifically says that they died for having brought alien fire to the holy altar. How are we to reconcile these conflicting reasons?

Consider the possible answer provided by the following story.

Rabbi  David of Zubeltov, son of the rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kosov, once became so ill that even the best physicians despaired of his life.

Not so his wife, Rebbetzin Pesya Leah, daughter of the eminent Sassover Rebbe. She refused to make peace with this decree. She sat by her husband's bedside and did not cease her praying and weeping. "Please, G-d," she pleaded tearfully; "let my saintly husband recover."

The good woman's fervent prayer split the very heavens and, despite the doctors' gloomy prognosis, the patient began to improve slowly. Soon her husband was back on his feet, leading his flock as before.

Reb David'l knew to whom he owed his recovery. He was well aware of his wife's devoted prayers. Once, in the company of his closest chasidim, he said, "Now that I am healthy again, I understand why the Midrash says Nadan and Avihu died because they did not have wives. If they had had wives like my own worthy Rebbetzin Leah, who would have prayed for them, they would surely have been saved from death despite their having brought improper fire before G-d!"

[Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from "Tales of Tzaddikim" (ArtScroll) by G. MaTov]

Connection: Weekly Reading – 10:1-2

Biographical note: 

Rabbi  David of Zubeltov (1797 - 25 Iyar 1846) was the son of Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kosov and the son-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov. He became a rebbe in his own right at the young age of 29. He was held in great respect for his wisdom, even by the other rebbes of his generation.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

The tragedy in Ithamar just a few days ago (last Friday evening) needs no introduction to anyone who keeps up with world events. 

What many people might not be aware of are some of the follow ups after this tragedy. For example did you know that the PA may well be in the process right now of naming a square in "honour" of the terrorists - for the horror (our language) ("success" - their language) that they have perpetrated? Or did you know that Iran Praises the Savage Murders:

"Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency told Iranians that the attackers “managed to kill all the five Zionists who were in the house…. The Palestinian combatant has returned home safely after conducting his mission successfully." - Arutz Sheva

But many don't know something else... While there were those looking to destroy innocent people for their own delight, one young innocent boy - Yoav Fogel HY"D (11 years old) saw life differently. In fact, following a Torah way of life - learning it and taking it to heart, he had placed a special card above his bed. Perhaps he looked at it before he went to sleep, and again when he awoke - and perhaps a few times during the day too. Being by his bed - one can imagine how important it was to him.

On this beautiful card (included in picture above), the following is written:

"A Prayer about loving one's friends

May it be Your will Hashem, my G-d and the G-d of my fathers that You should make me meritorious to be able to love every single Jew as I love myself, and to fulfill in the best possible way the Mitzvah of 'Love your fellow as you love yourself'

And so too may it be Your will my G-d and the G-d of my fathers, that You should put it into the hearts of my friends that they should love me with a powerful love and that I should be accepted and favoured by everyone. And I should be beloved and charming and find favour in all those who see me.

Just as water mirrors a face, so too does the heart of one man mirror the heart of the other. And everything should be for the sake of Heaven.

To fulfill Your will AMEN!"

There is a natural commitment to loving one's fellow Jew... but loving another like oneself can be extended to all of G-d's creatures as Hillel taught - Be one of the students of Aharon HaKohen, love peace and pursue peace, "Ohev et habriot" - love all creatures, all people and everything that G-d has created in the world - and bring them closer to Torah.

Isn't life so different for so many people?! What makes us different as a Jewish nation? The Torah!

While on one side of the world, an innocent child awakens each morning to want nothing more than to pursue peace - wherever he can, on the other side of the world, there are those who awake to plot evil conspiracies against purely innocent people - the very people who try so hard to work on themselves to desire nothing more than to love another like themselves.

This is the nature of a Jew. It is his nature because his soul is great. But even with that, he does not settle for what is given to him as a Divine gift. He realises that contrary to popular belief about everyone just "being a good person" in life without a need for some objective law book (an understatement for the value of Torah), he is completely dependent upon the values that it teaches.

With our own minds, we can make anything up. We can turn the most violent behaviour into a Mitzvah and even receive praise from the rest of the world for it. To continue upon such a path of life - to believe that one can come to be a "good person" based upon one's own limited thinking, is to eventually end up "on the other side of the world."

The good, the bad and the ugly... You decide who fitted into which category in this last tragedy. As for me, I'm grateful I have the Torah. There is nothing in it - except for life, goodness, kindness and beauty. If you're not already "connected" and involved in a Torah path, do yourself a favour, turn to the very first words of the Torah, "In the beginning G-D created the heavens and the earth," and begin to give up on the "wonders" and "brilliance" of the human mind, and appreciate that becoming humble to G-d, means one becomes humble to truth, goodness and kindness. There's much to learn in the Torah from basic history to law, from stories - to the deepest secrets of the universe.

Of course, there is "the good, the bad, and this ugly" all the time... but every day,  each of us will need to confront it and ask ourselves *honestly* if indeed we have our values right or whether or not we must strengthen ourselves not just in thought and speech but most importantly in action - in making a difference in the lives of others. 

How do we know what to do?! The answers can only be found in the Torah - for everything is in it. Turn it over and over... for everything is in it.

If you are needing help in making a commitment to Torah study or Mitzvah observance, check in at and contact Rav Eliyahu for one-on-one online lessons or make your commitment to help newly married couples set up their homes. Now is the time as we remember all the Achashveiroshe's and Haman's of the world, and use what goodness we have to give over - to help those in true need. It is our surest way of defeating those who continue to plot against us every single day!

Wake up each morning to think goodness, speak it and do it. Remember it always! Sharing the tragic stories such as these will be of help only when we push ahead to increase in goodness and kindness and not just discuss it.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Farbrengen of the Lubavitcher Rebbe - Purim 1973 - One Hour Video Clip

If you're getting ready for Purim and wondering what it's all about, press the play button on the video below, sit back and enjoy a Farbrengen of the Lubavitcher Rebbe - Purim 1973. There's some singing to listen to as well as two beautiful and inspiring Sichot. Make sure you have a full hour to spare, as you won't be able to stop watching from the moment it begins!

(Please click on the "Full Screen" icon on the bottom right of the video -
next to the HQ button - to see the video in full screen.)

Visit Jewish.TV for more Jewish videos.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Learning from a Jeep - and even a Nut! (Video clip included!)

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that we are to learn from everything. That's why everything that exists in the world exists - in order for us to learn from it. Whatever we see or hear - teaches the Baal Shem Tov - we must use in our Avodat Hashem - our service of G-d. It must be there to teach us how to be better, how to see G-d more and how to connect with doing the right things in life. 

How many of us stop to consider the traffic around us and wonder if there is anything to learn from it?! We're mostly interested in reaching our destination! Road rage is simply the offspring of busy traffic - so who would ever bother meditating on other drivers, cars and the movement of life around us?! It's far easier to simply get angry...

Of course, changing one's attitude to all that going on around us - could actually help us in appreciating the traffic and begin to view it in a whole different way! But who has time for that?!

So what could we learn from a jeep?! You'll have to watch the video clip below to appreciate it all, but here's what I gained from it. Indeed, if everything I see and hear is meant to be a lesson in my service to G-d, then these are the lessons I gained from seeing and hearing the video below:

  1. We can't do everything on our own!
  2. When we work together, there's so much we can do!
  3. When we work together, we can succeed!
  4. There's no need to be jealous of another's role in life (because we're working together - remember?!)
  5. We must appreciate the role the other has - because that will help me succeed too!
  6. Working together means we can do things so much faster!
  7. If we can put on a good display to show others that we can work together - we can actually obtain their admiration too!
  8. Today's generation don't seem to understand the concept of working together and how wonderful it can be - that's why they get so excited when they finally see others doing it!
  9. We've all got somewhere to go... and we need something to help us get there!
  10. We most often find ourselves needing the exact same vehicle to get to the same destination! It's best to realise how much we have in common!
  11. There's no need to shout at everybody to make sure a job gets well done!
  12. Even the barest grunt, can be enough of a sound to let others know you've done what you have to and are ready for the next step!
  13. There will have to be someone in charge to make sure things work smoothly - but sometimes, you'll never know who...
  14. There's a lot of fun in working together!
  15. Whether it's a wheel that does the turning, an engine that makes sure the wheel will eventually turn, a seat to sit on, or just a bar to connect two different parts - they really are all needed!
  16. Sometimes everything can look like it's worth nothing... but often - just a second glance will make one realise just how much of a difference even one "nut" can be!
  17. It's easy to take things apart...
  18. It's also easy to put it all back together again!
  19. What makes something amazing is to have seen it in parts - and how it all manages to finally come together!
  20. Following all the rules above ensures for a successful ride in getting to one's destination...
  21. Most people think that 5 minutes is not really worth that much. Think about this... in less than 5 minutes, you could build a car... or you could even learn 21 valuable points about life!

If team work is something you admire - you'll know that the greatest team in the world - ever - is a husband and wife. Together, they actually bring into the world everyone who we see walking around. Without them - there would never be the opportunity for any of us to involve ourselves in other team work.

So... if team work is important to you - that you value them, and your own role in making the difference in another's life, we encourage you to take a part in our Bayit Chadash - Wedding Project - helping those in need to be able to successfully start their own lives together!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Watchmaker of the World (with video included!)

It is hard to believe, but with the progress of technology and so many wonderful things in the world, there are still so many that believe that worlds appear from nothing (by themselves of course!) and frogs appear from thin air. These frogs some day turn into apes, and within millions of years, these apes eventually become men (though one may think things to be just the opposite!)

With all our knowledge, we turn to the intricate makings of the inside of a watch. Filled with cogs, wheels, screws and springs - all perfectly aligned with each other so that the hands of the clock work perfectly enough to make sure we know what time of the day it is (though we once again find so many who simply never know this either!) Asking the great scientist of today whether these wheels and cogs could come together of their own - perhaps through dropping the screws and wheels from one's hands in one shot, one would be met with a seriously creased frown which would immediately follow with a finger positioned close to his brain area as it would automatically rotate around and around as he would shake his head and walk off, perhaps even allowing a few silent words to escape his lips.

But ask this same genius whether the world could come together on its own, he would pull out thousands of proofs to show how such amazing creations as the miracles of this world could come about - all on their own.

Isn't life amazing?! It's filled with so many different types of people - who so often to their own disadvantage forget their own inconsistencies - in life itself.

This beautiful video below puts so much in perspective. So next time you look at your watch to see what time it is, remember to think about the real value of time - as it is so directed by a Creator who has given us this moment in life to achieve a goal that He desires from each of us. If you're serious enough about life to appreciate that, you'll also know that that "tick" of life is to be directed to learning Torah, to fulfilling another Mitzvah and bringing goodness and kindness into the world. Tick-tock... Tick-tock... The Watchmaker is watching.

~ The Watchmaker ~


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