Sunday, January 25, 2009

When you come across water

I forgot to fill you guys in a while ago on one of my favorite HaYom Yom's when it came up again this year. (I don't have it in front of me, so I could be a shtickel mistaken.):

The Rebbe writes in Hayom Yom that the Freidiker Rebbe met someone carrying water, and said, that the Baal Shem Tov said that when you come across water you should say that the Ba'al Shem Tov said that water is a Siman Bracha.

It's one of my favorites. Along with some other really great ones. Some we had recently, actually. Like about two people getting together, with just one Yetzer Hara but two Yetzer Tov's...

And I may be biased, but the Hayom Yom for my birthday has gotta be one of the most powerful ones....

And here's a cool tidbit of knowledge that most people don't know:
The Rebbe actually started writing another Hayom Yom, well actually different entries that he would later put into the calendar as a new Hayom Yom, for the next year. In the old Chitas's you can find that they printed the first 40 new ones that the Rebbe had started writing, but then stopped.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I was right the whole time!!

I had written a philosophical post earlier (here) about how you can decide who a person really is.
After I posted it, I felt like I had babbled on (or is it: blabbled? probably babble...) and said pretty much nothing.
But then!!!!
But then I heard Rabbi Cohen give us a Shiur on Basi LeGani, where he brought a Maamer from Samech Vov (on page 500 or something, and I'm only up to 200 or so) that the Rebbe Rashab says the exact same thing!! That how can I call a person an Ish Chesed? Because he gives tzedaka? That is what he does. Not who he is. On the inside, though, we all have the Koach and Midos for Chesed, and Chochmah, and Tipshus! So the only way to describe people is the middle step- how much of the true inside of them (which most people are equal) are they displaying?
It's deep, I know.
Rabbi Cohen gave us a Mashal, but I forgot it now. It was something about a guy who likes having rachmanus, so he never opened the door for the poor person knocking... But maybe that was to explain how we cannot put ourselves into our actions, we cannot put our hisoir'rus of the midos into the actual midah...
Anyway, I was pretty amazed when I heard it, knowing I had already typed it. Now I just have to see the Ma'amer inside, or wait until I get there, but that's 400 pages later...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dvar Torah (For real this time) from last shabbos

I was sick, so it wasn't my fault that I couldn't post this before Shabbos.
But as I mentioned before, the first Sicha on Shemos of Chelek Lamed Vov is one of my favorites.
Since I was sick, and couldn't work more on writing up the whole thing, here's the synopsis:

What is Bitachon?
It does not just mean that you believe Hashem will do good for you, since Hashem is very kind. For what would be when Hashem does not save you (Chas V'Shalom) from your dire situation? Do you not have confidence in Hashem?
The first answer is that Bitachon is based on Emunah. It is based on the belief that everything that happens is from Hashem. Therefore, if Hashem saves you in the way you need, you can be at ease and happy, knowing you were saved, and it is from Hashem. But even if Chas Vshalom you are not saved, you will be in the exact same mood and Menuchas HaNefesh, since you know that this is also from Hashem, and it must be Hashem is punishing you for some Averios that you did, and were not worthy this time of Hashem's salvation, and this punishment is actually for your eventual benefit (although you may not be able to discern it), since this is 'cleaning up' your nefesh from its sins.
This cannot be the answer either, the Rebbe explains.
In the parsha is recounts how Moshe was afraid that his killing of the Egyptian taskmaster would be public knowledge, after Dasan and Aviram revealed their own knowledge of the event. Afterward, Paroah did find out, and Moshe had to run away to Midyan.
The medrash says the the top Prophet, and top of the Avos both were promised to be taken care of by Hashem, and were still afraid. Moshe, from our parsha, and Yakov Avinu when he was afraid after he heard Eisav was approaching him with hundreds of armed men, looking for trouble.
Two opinions are brought in the Medrash if Moshe and Yakov were correct or not in their fear. Both opinions agree that the fear they each had was that maybe they had done some small wrongdoings, warranting them unfit for Hashem's bracha. One opinion views this as noble. Another views this as not having true Bitachon in Hashem.
Why, though? You have true, 100% trust that Hashem will do good for you, especially if He promised it to you, but what is wrong with thinking that your one little mistake could have ruined it?

To answer that, the Rebbe brings in what the Tzemach Tzedek says, "טראכט גוט וועט זיין טוט", or: Tracht Gut Vet Zain Gut. Didn't help? "Think Good, and it will be Good."
The Rebbe explains that true Bitachon is when you are so confident Hashem will do good for you, that that itself is the cause for Hashem to indeed do good for you.
The positive mindset (and of course it's not that easy. It takes lots of work to make Hashem the one and only thing you rely on. You must cast yourself totally in His Hands.) actually brings the positive result. If you rely on Hashem with no other calculations, then Hashem repays in kind, also without any calculations, like whether you are worthy or not.
So Moshe and Yakov were incorrect in assuming that Hashem would care that they were not worthy. They did not have true Bitachon in Hashem.
And therefore, that is why Hashem caused the bad to come to them!!!
The Rebbe explains that the only reason Paroah found out about Moshe killing the Egyptian was because Moshe was afraid that very thing would happen. Had Moshe been completely confident in Hashem, without any fear, them Paroah would never have found out!!!!!

Incredible, huh??!?!?!!?
One of the main lessons we can learn is that just having Bitachon in Hashem, and that Moshiach is coming will itself cause that Moshiach should come!!

Now, the Rebbe does say that in our daily lives, when we want to have true Bitachon in Hashem, we must also make a Keli for Hashem's Bracha. It is no contradiction to have complete Bitachon in Hashem, and still have a business, in order for Hashem to give you Parnasa.

And Stam, the Rosh in LA always brings the following Mashal about Bitachon:
A guy is Nebach drowning in the river. If there are passing logs nearby, and he tries to grab them to hold on to, that's not Bitachon, and maybe not even Emunah. If there are only some small twigs, and he's hoping that will save him if he grabs on, that is Emunah that Hashem could save him. Only when he has nothing to save him, and the river is rushing him towards the waterfall, and yet still he is smiling because he knows Hashem will save him- that is true Bitachon!

Guest Post- Painting tip #1

I'm trying out a guest writer. This is the first time. I take no responsibility in what he/she says.

Am I ready to paint my dining room?
I can't believe my friend even asked me. Me? How much do I know about someone being ready to paint? But then I thought about it, and decided that I might indeed be able to help her out.
To decide whether you are ready or not, we first must discuss what it actually means to paint. On the one hand, you need a solid, firm, steadfast wall that will not crumble when pushed or hammered. And then the paint of course must have the proper consistency, be the right color you want, cater to the needs of the room. And then of course there is the combining of them both. You must do it in a way that will not get you painted and dirty, or any of the other furniture. If you think you actually have these things, then yes, I would say that's a big step to deciding that you are ready to paint.
And I know it's corny, but once we're speaking about painting, I have to throw it that famous joke:
What's black and white and red all over?

(The best compliment is a parody.) (Right?)

I'm vulnerable after all

That's right. I am only human, so it seems.
The dreaded Influenza has struck at last. Even the flu shot I got over Tishrei couldn't stop the all-powerful disease.
The worst part about being sick is trying to hide it from the bochurim. I give them excuses why I can't show up to seder.
Because if they only knew that I was vulnerable like this...
I mean, they look up to me as pretty much the perfect role model. I have to put on a brave face and a strong exterior for them. I dread to think what effects it could have on them to see their hero so downtrodden like this, from tiny bacteria. (Is that even the cause of the flu? probably, right?)

So yeah, being sick pretty much stinks. And that's why I couldn't post my Dvar Torah before Shabbos this time.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I can't compare to fish

Once a week, I learn on the phone with a Shliach's son in pretty much the middle of nowhere important. He's 10 years old. (The program is called MyShliach. Get it? Sheli-Ach? Yeah, I don't find it so brilliant either.)
Anyway, this week, in the middle of our call, he told me: "Yossi, um, my family is kinda putting in new fish into our,"
Me:"So you want to go and watch?"
Him: "Yeah, pretty much."
Me: "Yeah, no problem. Go ahead. Call me back when you guys finish."

I just can't compare to new fish, I guess.

A D'var Torah( MAYBE!!! ), and better late than never

You can never rely on my internet accessibility.
Or rather, I can't.
Anyway, I wanted to share a small thought I had about this week's Parsha with ya'll.
In the Brachos which Yaakov give to his sons, after Shimon and Levi he says how he had to deal with problems after Shchem, which Rashi explains that after Shimon and Levi totally pulled out a can of whoop&%$, sorry, I mean, when they kicked royal @%#%. Okay, let me try one more time. When they wiped out and killed every single person in Shchem, the neighboring villages and dwellers were upset (for no reason at all. Totally without cause!!). For some reason, they were mad at the Jacobson brothers (that would have been their name, by the way), and at the whole Yaakov clan, and started a big war.
If you ever read the Meam Loaz, it explains the entire war, down to the very last details, about how one of the brothers lost his shield, and exactly how many soldiers fell off the battlemants when Yehuda roared, and so on.
It also recounts how Yakov was the real hero in the war. He was a sharpshooter with the bow and arrow, saving son after son.
He basically had to step in and clean up their mess.

When I first read this story a few years ago, one image came to my mind.
That of an old, beer-bellied (just for the humor, I'm sure Yakov was a conscientous drinker) man rolling his eyes as he's watching what's happening, and squeezing into his Spandex SuperHero Suit that he used to wear decades ago fighting evil. Now he steps out, and his stomach shows, and the back of his pants rip, and he goes running off with his bow and arrow.
Stam, just a funny image. It really was a cool story if you never read it before.
Okay, gut voch.