"Where does it say that you have a contract with G-d to have an easy life?"

the Lubavitcher Rebbe

"Failure is not the enemy of success; it is its prerequisite."

Rabbi Nosson Scherman

27 Feb 2009

Mishloach Manos for 185$

The laws of shalach manos state that on Purim day, every person should send at least two portions of different foods to at least one person to demonstrate friendship and achdut among the Jewish people. This obligation pertains to every man, woman and child from the age of Chinuch. One should send food that can be eaten immediately without any further preparation.
Two different foods to one person. I repeat. Two different foods to one person. So, how did we spiral out of control to 15 or more foods to 100 people? I was shocked to find a magazine advertsing shalach manos baskets ranging up to 185$. You can do the calculations of ordering such a basket for all your friends.
A number of years ago, a good friend and I decided that we would not be sending each other shalach manos. And guess what? We have remained the best of friends.
This Purim, I hope to focus more on Matanos leevyonim. I am going send a friend a modest package of two different foods, along with a card stating that I have donated some money to a tzedakah organisation in her name.
I don't need lavish baskets containing nosh that can't possibly be all eaten before Pessach. Besides which, I read a Reuters article this week with the headline, "Diabetes soars in Britain".
It begins with the statement, "Cases of diabetes are soaring in Britain, according to new research, with medical experts linking the rise to higher obesity rates caused by unhealthy diets and lack of exercise."
Two weeks ago, I heard a lecture by a nutritionist about healthy eating and how important movement is for an individual. She took out Rambam, Hilchos Dayot, Perek Daled to lend credence to her words. When I returned home, I read through the Perek. Nowhere does the Rambam recommend licorice, chocolate coconut bars and the like as staples for a healthy diet.
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy Purim.

26 Feb 2009

Thank you, Hashem

I must confess, although I am way past "junior" age, I enjoy reading the Junior Mishpacha magazine. This morning, as soon as I had received the Mishpacha magazine, I turned to the page entitled "Tales of Tzaddikim". I like reading the stories and being inspired. On the previous page I happened across a poem written by 11 year old, Rosi Steinfeld called "Thank you, Hashem". I would like to share the poem with you.

I wake up and start to pray
With my whole heart I say,
"Please Hashem in every way,
Make everything be okay."

Hashem gives me my voice to sing
And gives me money to buy a new ring.
He gives me almost everything.
He lets me see the flowers in the spring.

Hashem sometimes gives me ice cream.
And of cake maybe some.
Baruch Hashem I'm not dumb.
And none of my body parts are numb.
Baruch Hashem, I don't live in a chicken coop
And I have a good group
When I'm sick I can have chicken soup.
And Hashem lets me have a hula hoop.

And when my younger brother is upset,
This for me is just a test
To know that Hashem is the best
And I say this full of zest.

I have to admit that I glossed over my Modim prayer this morning. But, right now I will take a moment to say, "thank you, Hashem".

Want to take part in writing a poem called "Thank you, Hashem?" Email me at devorah@live.co.uk and I will post the best poems on my blog. Looking forward to hearing from you!!!!

25 Feb 2009

Solutions to the water crisis

The Jerusalem Post published an article by Hillel Shuval, professor emeritus at Hebrew University, entitled, "The roots of the water crisis".
His opening paragraph begins with the ominous words, "This country is facing one of its most severe water crises, triggered by the harsh droughts of 2006-2009. However the crisis is no less the result of the long-term chronic problem of overutilization of its limited natural water resources."
His solutions are posited at the end of the article.
" We must end wasteful water subsidies to agriculture. It is illogical and immoral to dry up the urban parks, gardens and green areas, while exporting flowers grown with subsidized drinking water to Europe. New ways must be found to maintain as many of the agricultural communities as much possible by subsidizing green areas as the Swiss do, but not by subsidizing water......"
The article ends with the author's opinion that "A solution to our water crisis is possible, but requires giving up many deeply imbedded dreams and visions of the past."
I respectfully disagree and feel that the solution to the crisis can only come from visions of the past - to the acceptance of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
The second paragraph of the Shema prayer clearly states,
There it is in a nutshell - the solution to the water crisis.

Update on Segulah for Shidduch

Baruch Hashem, I have had some responses to my segulah for a shidduch posting and I have received a number of names. Please read the posting entitled Mishenichnos Adar and help me assemble a list of people to daven for a shidduch hagun bekarov and bekalut by contacting me at devorah@live.co.uk.

21 Feb 2009

Mercaz Harav Terror Victims

As the first yarzheit of the victims of the Mercaz Harav terror attack is fast approaching, a book has been published in their memory. To order, please call Yaakov on 646-810-8743 or email memorialbook@yashlatz.com.

March 6, 2008 Doron Mehereta hy"d, Ro'i Rote hy"d, Yonadav Haim Hirschfeld hy"d, Yochai Lipshitz hy"d, Yonatan Yitzchak Eldar hy"d, Neriah Cohen hy"d, Segev Pniel Avichayil hy"d and Avraham David Moses hy"d.

1 year later- Avraham David who? Neriah who? This week, during their yarzheit, I for one, don't intend to forget the eight kedoshim. I would like to do something leilui nishmatam. Since I enjoy listening to the shiurim on www.torahanytime.com, I will click on their website on Rosh Chodesh Adar, the yarzheit of the eight bachurim, and will donate money to show my hakarat hatov to all involved in bringing torah thoughts to the masses leilui nishmat Doron Mehereta hy"d, Ro'i Rote hy"d, Yonadav Haim Hirschfeld hy"d, Yochai Lipshitz hy"d, Yonatan Yitzchak Eldar hy"d, Neriah Cohen hy"d, Segev Pniel Avichayil hy"d and Avraham David Moses hy"d.

20 Feb 2009

He who is rich

Reading Hamodia, I came across a devar Torah by Shloime Kohn which gave me alot of chizuk during these trying financial times. He writes,
"The Mesorah notes that this is one of five pesukim which begin with ki marked by Munach gershayim. Each one of these pesukim indicates a strategy to obtain a respite(Munach) from the hardships of exile(Gershayim), or for hastening the redemption therefrom.
I will now relate the third passuk about financial struggles in galut.
"For (ki) the tribes of the Children of Reuven and Gad according to their ancestral houses and half the tribe of Menashe have already received their heritable property. (Bamidbar 34:14) Those that received territory east of the Yarden, were not entitled to an inheritance in Eretz Yisrael. This teaches that one cannot inherit on two fronts. Those who are wealthy should be concerned that Hashem is rewarding them for their good deeds in their lifetime, so as to eliminate them from the World to Come. On the other hand, those who struggle in this world should know that it is for their benefit, so that they receive their reward in its totality in the next world. This principle enables one to accept and bear the hardships of galus with love."
During these trying times, when many have been affected by the economic downturn, I hope to remember the above written words.

18 Feb 2009

I hope He is happy with me

Two days ago, a relative of mine was on a flight with an elderly gentleman whom she recognised from the neighborhood. Since they were seated next to each other, they began to converse. The man told my sister-in-law that he was on the flight because he was on his way to his grandson's wedding, due to take place the following evening. My sister-in-law wished him a hearty mazal tov and "a sach mehr yahren of simchos"(many more years of happy occasions). The man replied, "I don't have many more years. But all I can say is when I get up there,(pointing his finger upwards) I hope that He is as pleased with me as I am with Him".
This man had not had an easy life. For one, he was a holocaust survivor. Moreover, he had a sickly grandchild. But, in his waning years, he focused on how happy Hashem had made him and how he hoped he would find favor in His eyes.
May we all be zocheh to find favor in His eyes.

Guard your tongue

The following is an email I received today from the Chofetz Chaim heritage foundation:
"Three young Satmar Chassidim, on a promise of a free trip to daven in Lejensk, delivered a package to Japan- NOT KNOWING that a seemingly frum man would put their lives in danger by making them the transporters of illegal merchandise. And were caught and imprisoned.
Japan punish their prisoners in a most harsh manner.
The boys sit in separate, tiny cells, with no beds, no sunlight, no human interaction, no connection to the world for a day, another day of solitude, another 24 hours of loneliness, on and on and on...
It's been 11 MONTHS with no end in sight.
Yoel Zev ben Mirel Rissa Chava
Yaakov Yosef ben Raizel
Yosef ben Itta Rivka
Don't forget them!
Don't forget about Yossi, the youngest, who was not even eighteen when he arrived in Japan. Alone in his cell, without nary a chair, without enough room to stretch his legs, the thin blanket to sleep on taken away every morning. Yossi, who looks forward desperately to his haircut every 2 weeks so he can see another human being, whose skin is shriveling, whom those involved declare that it's a miracle that he is still sane, who hasn't seen his family in half a year. Yossi, who doesn't know if he has any hope for a future...
It is up to us, to Klal Yisrael's tefillos, to save them!
NOW is the time to start being more careful in Shmiras Halashon as a Zchus for our suffering brothers.
And don't forget to keep davening for their yeshua every day!!!!!!"

This morning I read the two halachos in "Guard your tongue" by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin which are to be learned according to the daily calendar established by Harav Segal zt"l of Manchester.
Chapter 2, halacha 3 deals with laws concerning loshon hora that is common knowledge.
Rabbi Pliskin writes "Therefore: Even Loshon Hora that is well-known should not be repeated."
He ends the halacha with an example, "Mr. Gold read in the New York Times that Mr. Cohen was arrested for an infringement of the law. Even though this is obviously well-known, Mr. Gold should not relate this information to others."

Today, in the merit of the boys who are in prison in Japan, I will endeavour to stay off all websites which contain loshon hora.

17 Feb 2009

Jewish leaders

Ladaat.net reported that Prime Minister Olmert visited the Kotel tunnels and expressed his hope that Gilad Shalit would be freed soon. The accompanying picture of Olmert with a yarmelca atop Olmert's head gave me great pleasure. Hopefully, our Jewish leaders will reconnect with their roots and follow the ways of the Torah. Additionally, they should read the IsraelNationalNews opinion article by Moshe Kempinski entitled "A Humbled Leadership". He begins the article by stating, "True leadership of the people of Israel must always be a humble leadership. That was true of Moshe as they left Egypt, and it was true of King David after his difficult and event-filled rise to leadership."

15 Feb 2009

Those who remain silent

Mishpacha magazine published an article this week entitled "Slow burn. The Grudges we Bear". It quotes a Gemara which says that the world stands in the merit of those who remain silent at the time of a quarrel, and those who endure insult and do not respond are like "the mighty rising sun".
This morning I learned 2 halachos from the sefer, "Guard your tongue", according to the daily calendar set up by Harav Segal in Manchester. The first halacha began with the words, "When it is difficult to remain silent". It then goes on to describe a social situation where you are in the company of people who are gossiping and you are unable to leave them. Even though you might appear unsociable, it is nevertheless forbidden to speak loshon Hora.
The halacha ends with the words. "Concerning such situations the following words of our Sages definitely apply: For every second that one remains silent he will merit reward of a magnitude that is beyond the comprehension of malochim (celestial beings" (Igeres Hadra).
Not for nothing is the maxim, "Silence is Golden". Next time, I want to lash out during a quarrel, or I want to contribute to the gossip that is being spoken, I will consider the fleeting pleasure of the moment compared to the sublime pleasure of the greatest magnitide to be attained if I abstain from speaking, instead.

14 Feb 2009

Ray Charles and Jackie Mason - tsaros

13 Feb 2009

Plane crash in Buffalo, New York

Reports have come in about a plane crash of a flight that originated in Newark with a destination to Buffalo, New York. The New York Post has reported that all 49 aboard have died. A particulary salient comment posted by one of the readers caught my eye. Let's take his words to heart, carry out an introspection on ourselves, and rectify what needs to be rectified before it is too late.
"Life is like a vapor. We, none of us, can know what a new day will bring. We need to examine ourselves, to know if we are ready for that trip into eternity."

12 Feb 2009

Please be Mispallel for the boys held in a Japanese prison.

Approximately 10 days ago, a friend called me up to ask if I would take upon myself to recite Tehilim for 40 days to help bring about the release of the 3 yeshiva bochrim who are in a Japanese prison for drug smuggling. My friends are I were asked to recite the letters of their names from the Tehilim of the Chida. Of course, I accepted. It takes me about ten minutes a day to say the prayers before and after the recitation of Tehilim, plus the actual sentences corresponding to the letter yud.
Yesterday, I saw an article in the Jewish Press about their heart rendering situation. Today, my recitation of Psalms took on an added dimension as I empathised with what they were going through, after reading "Hanging In the Balance: Nightmare in Japan".
Please take some time to click on the link http://www.thejewishpress.com/pageroute.do/38162%20.
After being apprised of their anguish, I am sure you will find it in your heart to daven for Yoel Zev ben Mirel Reesa Chava, Yaakov Yosef ben Raizel and Yosef ben Ita Rivka.

11 Feb 2009

How can a Feivel be a Buddhist?

Rebbetzin Jungreis wrote a column in the Jewish Press about her husband and the acts of kindness he performed, even to his last, when he was in the hospital, suffering from incurable cancer. She spoke about his seeking out patients and offering them comfort. One patient on the floor was a Jew named Philip who had renounced his faith and became a Buddhist. She wrote,
" My husband could not bear the thought of a Yiddisheh neshamah being lost, and as difficult as it was for him, he sought him out.
"What is your Jewish name?" my husband asked in his sweet gentle voice.
"I'm not Jewish," he answered. "I gave up Judaism some years ago, when I became a Buddhist."
"Even so," my husband assured him, "a Yiddisheh neshamah is a Yiddisheh neshamah, and remains so for eternity. Now tell me, what is your Jewish name?"
"I don't remember," he replied, his voice tinged with annoyance.
"Do you remember your Bubbie? .... What did she call you? " my husband asked.
At the mention of his Bubbie, tears gathered in his eyes and in a choked voice, he whispered, "Feivel."
My husband reached out to put his arms around him - no easy feat when you are attached to IVs.
"Feivel," he repeated, "how can a Feivel be a Buddhist?"
The other day, I read about an Israeli man who had traveled to India and had become a leading expert on Reiki. Somehow, he was able to reconnect to his Jewish roots and returned to Israel, determined to follow a religious way of life. The author writes that the secular parents of the man would have been happier to welcome their son as a Buddhist monk, rather than as a charedi man.
Thankfully, these two yiddishe neshamas were able to see the truth, and have returned to their Jewish roots.

8 Feb 2009

Gossip may have brought about evil eye

A headline in Ynetnews caught my eye.
"Residents of 'cursed' building seek rabbis' advice"
The article goes on to report, "After three of their neighbors die of cancer within one year, panicked residents of apartment building in haredi Ramot neighborhood approach prominent religious leaders, who suggest gossip may have brought about evil eye.
One apartment building in Jerusalem was struck by disaster three times in the last year, when three of its inhabitants – fathers to multiple-child families, died of cancer.
Fearing that their building might be cursed, the distraught residents turned to several leading rabbis for counsel, and were advised to begin holding "Shmirat HaLashon" lessons aimed at preventing people from spreading gossip, and thus protecting them from the evil eye."
Heeding the afvice of Rabbi Shteinman and Rabbi Fuchs, the women residents have begun to attend weekly classes.

Happy is he who is content with his lot

Over the weekend, I read a book entitled "The Invisible Woman". The first sentence of the prologue really struck home.
"Someone once told me that being happy is not wanting what you haven't got but wanting what you already have."
As the Ethics of the Fathers states, "Who is rich? He who is happy with what he has"
From now on, I will try to focus on the positives in my life and thank Hashem for all the good he has bestowed upon me.
I once heard a lecturer who advised the audience to think of five positive things to thank Hashem for when reciting the blessing of Modim in the Shemoneh Esrei. It does make a difference to your prayers.

click cartoon to enlarge

4 Feb 2009

You can never lose if you give tzedakah

This afternoon I heard a shiur where the lecturer related an anecdote about a former Chevrom Rosh Yeshiva. In the 1950s, he had traveled to America to collect money for his yeshiva and a wealthy man loaned him the princely sum of 20,000$, to be repaid at the end of 20 years.
The years passed and the rabbi traveled to America to repay the loan. He rang the bell of the lender, but, to his consternation, realized that the wealthy man no longer lived at the residence. After repeated attempts to trace the man's wheareabouts, the rabbi was able to find the man living alone and destitute. The rabbi explained the purpose of his visit and how he wished to repay the loan. The formerly wealthy man told the rabbi, "everything has been taken away from me. Now you came to take away the zechut of supporting a Torah institution?". The man declined to accept the money as he wished to hold on to the merit of the mitzvah. He might have lost all his worldly possessions, but he certainly didn't want to lose the positive balance of his heavenly bank account.
Rabbi Wallerstein recently spoke about trying to collect money for his institution in these times of financial stress. He stated that when people give money for tzedakah, that money can never be lost and is credited to them for eternity.
The YeshivaWorld website posted the following message. "This Shabbos, Parshas Beshalach / Parshas HaMan, has been set aside by our Rabbanim nationwide to make an Emergency Parnassa Appeal. Unemployment is across the board: Agudath Israel, The O-U, Young Israel, and other major Jewish organizations have all united to participate with the Emergency Parnassa Initiative to help Klal Yisrael."
Let us reach out to give to those less fortunate. And remember, whatever we give, we can never lose.

Rivky Holzberg Hy"d remembered

The following is an email I received today which I would like to share with you:

Sometime during the shiva for Rivky Holtzberg Hy"d, a young woman came into the Rosenberg home. She told Mrs. Rosenberg that she had something for her,and handed her a small package. Curious, Mrs. Rosenberg opened it and gasped. Inside was Rivky's diamond ring and one of her nicer Shabbos dresses.
"How did you get these?"
The young woman gently told Rivky's mother, "Let me tell you my story."
"I had been traveling in India. Somehow I ran afoul of the law and ended up in an Indian jail. You cannot begin to imagine what an awful, horrible,primitive place it was... The only redeeming factor is that the jails there are quite disorganized, and those who are in charge are corrupt. Somehow I managed to escape.
"The first place I ran to was, of course, the Chabad House. Everyone knew that that's where you went when you needed help. Rivky welcomed me, fed me,and told me that it was vital that I get out of the country. I knew that - but I was very afraid. What if they would check me, check my passport? Then Rivky gave me one of her Shabbat dresses and her diamond ring. 'If you look very dignified, a well-dressed married woman with a ring on her finger, they won't look too closely at you. They will leave you alone. A woman with a diamond ring is in a different class. She's a respectable woman. She's not a criminal, someone who has escaped from jail. They won't bother you.'
"I took the dress and the ring and as you can see, I got out safely. And now I have come to give you Rivky's dress and her ring that she lent to me."
Rivky's mother took the possessions of her beloved daughter. Then she told the young woman, "I recently saw Rivky and noticed that she wasn't wearing her ring. When I asked her about it, she told me 'zeh b'shlichut.' It's on shlichus."

2 Feb 2009

Segulah for income

In these times of financial turmoil, let us remember who provides our sustenance. I was reading a post on the Lazer Beams website and came across a reminder to say parshas hamon this Tuesday. The parsha of this week is Parshas Beshalach, which contains the pesukim relating to the manna which fell from heaven. Rabbi Lazer Brody writes that "it is a segula for a good income" to recite these pesukim "twice mikra and once targum" during this opportune time. Click on the link below for parshas hamon.

Achdus is the answer

Let's change that slogan to read, Disunity is a cancer, Achdus is the answer - Reach out to your brother.