Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Lightning Bug's Lesson

Early each morning while it is still dark outside I walk through a nearby park on my way to work. Along the path in the park I sometimes see deer, rabbits, raccoon, and possum. Yesterday, I noticed lightning bugs for the first time this summer. Encountering a brief flash of light directly in front of me, an idea popped into my head.

Just as a lightning bug creates light from within itself, a Jew performing a mitzvah illuminates the darkness of golus with the light of his G-dly soul.

The lightning bug is truly a living example of what I wrote in this post.

For it is You who will light my lamp; Hashem, my G-d, who illuminates my darkness.

(Tehillim 18:29)

The Connection Between Light And Secrets

The Hebrew word Or (light) has the same numerical equivalent as the word Raz (secret). Whoever knows the "secret" in every thing can bring illumination.

(Baal Shem Tov)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


The person working in an executive office is acutely aware that his proximity to senior management has both positive and negative benefits. Since he is under management's watchful eye he has to ensure that he constantly produces so management perceives him to be a good worker.

His fellow worker in an office or cubicle outside the executive suite is not subject to this same level of intense scrutiny. While initially this may seem to be something positive, it is not entirely positive since the worker outside the executive suite is not rewarded as frequently or as generously as his co-worker inside the suite. Management is most cognizant of the workers that they see on a daily basis.

This situation is analogous to Hashem's direct supervision of Eretz Israel. The Torah (Devarim 11:12) states that Hashem's eyes are always upon Eretz Israel "from the beginning of the year to the end of the year". While He sees things going on all over the world, His most intense focus is on Eretz Israel.

In a practical sense this means that the "reward" of the observant Jew living in Eretz Israel is greater than the "reward" of the observant Jew who lives outside Eretz Israel. It also means that Hashem is more exacting with the Jew who lives Eretz Israel than the Jew who lives outside Eretz Israel.

The person working in the executive suite must always remember that his actions alone dictate whether he is allowed to remain there. Being in the executive suite carries special responsibilities. It is not something to be taken lightly.

And You, Hashem, have kindness, for You repay a man according to his deeds.

(Tehillim 62:13)

Settling In Eretz Israel

By settling in the Eretz Israel, a person gains insight into G-d's providence over the world.

(Rebbe Nachman of Breslov)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Picture From My Family's Shtetl

Guest Posting From Chabakuk Elisha: A Thought From Shabbos Shelach

This past Shabbos was especially warm in New York. As to the physical warmth, I always thank G-d for giving man the ability to invent air conditioning in recent history (and making it fairly affordable). As to the spiritual warmth, I noticed a few words that are enlightening for those of us (especially me) who still remain in the dark.

In Parshas Shelach, the Degel Machaneh Ephraim quoted his grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov:

"External fears and worries come to a person in order to awaken and remind him to connect to his true inner fear of G-d. When one employs his fear of Heaven, all external and mundane fears are nullified."

To illustrate the point, I remember a story of a certain wealthy chossid of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. This chossid was a sincere, learned and refined man, and he was also a successful and wealthy businessman. Unfortunately, he had fallen on hard times and was in dire straits so he came to the Rebbe to ask for help.

After describing the burden and circumstances with which he was faced, the Alter Rebbe responded:

"You are telling me what you need from G-d, but how about what G-d needs from you?"

To this, the chossid immediately fainted.

Upon awaking, he asked for, and received, a schedule of activities to follow, from his Rebbe, and in a short time was restored to his former status.

To be sure, when we are beset with seemingly overwhelming difficulties, it is no simple task to stay calm and look past them with ease. But this seems to be the message for us - look within, and therein lays the solution. Our struggles are a symptom, let‘s address the problem.

Where is G-d?

Where is G-d? In the place where He is given entry.

(Kotzker Rebbe)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Chaf Sivan (20th of Sivan)

Today is the 20th of Sivan. This day was once a day of mourning in the tiny shtetl in Volhynia where my family comes from. In 1650, the rabbis decreed that the Jews in the Kingdom of Poland observe the 20th of Sivan as a fast day in memory of the tens of thousands of Jews murdered during Gezeiros Tach v'Tat (the Chmielnitzki massacres of 1648 and 1649).

In his sefer "Yesh Nochlin", Rabbi Sheftel Horowitz wrote, "It is known that the third destruction, which has transpired in our own time in the year 1648, during which a great many were killed, was literally comparable to the destruction of the First and Second Temples."

Today I plan to give tzedakah in the merit of these kedoshim, not knowing if my ancestors were among them.

Note: More information about the horific events of 1648-1649 can be found in Rabbi Nasan Nata Hanover's sefer "Yeven Metzulah", translated into English as "Abyss of Despair."

* This year I also relate to the 20th of Sivan on a personal level since it marks the first anniversary of my son's bris.

More Serious Than Eating Pork

A person can recite Psalms and pray all day long, but if he/she harbors malice in the heart toward other humans, the prayers won't be answered. Atoning for eating pork is a lot easier that atoning for hate, revenge, or slander.

(Rabbi Lazer Brody)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Gathering Manna In A Modern World

The Gemara (Yoma 75a) mentions that when the Jewish people were in the desert G-d delivered a person's daily manna according to that person's individual merit. While a rasha had to travel a great distance to gather his manna, a tzaddik's manna was delivered right outside his tent.

Perhaps today we receive our manna in a similar, but slightly different manner. If we are worthy, we are given a job that we find meaningful and personally fulfilling. But when we are not worthy, we are forced to work in a job that is outside our area of interest - solely for the purpose of obtaining a paycheck.

I am still pondering this interpretation that was suggested to me. What are your thoughts?

UPDATE: See here for my friend Chabakuk Elisha's insightful comment to this question.

The Precious Key

What is a Chassid? Someone who possess a precious key, a key that opens all the doors, even those that G-d keeps closed. And the key is the niggun, the song of joy that makes our hearts thrill. The niggun opens the gates of heaven. Melancholy closes them.

(Rebbe Naftali of Ropshitz)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Nachas From My Daughter

Of all the things people tell me about my children, I got the most nachas from my brother-in-law's recent compliment on how frequently my two year-old daughter says "thank you".

While some people may put their primary efforts into ensuring that their children excel academically, I am more concerned about raising my children to have middos tovos.

There are few things more important than teaching children to express gratitude for the things they receive in life. Raising a child to be a little genius without placing an equal emphasis on raising him to have warm and caring heart is a recipe for disaster.

Rabbi Yochanan said to them: Go and see which is the best trait for a person to acquire. Said Rabbi Eliezer: A good eye. Said Rabbi Yehoshua: A good friend. Said Rabbi Yossi: A good neighbor. Said Rabbi Shimon: To see what is born [out of ones actions]. Said Rabbi Elazar: A good heart. Said he to them: I prefer the words of Elazar ben Arach to yours, for his words include all of yours.

(Pirkei Avos 2:13)

Being Exacting With Children

It is forbidden to weigh down one's children with a heavy burden by being overly exacting with them, since this may prove to be a stumbling block. Instead, one should forgive them and ignore their lapses, because a father has the option of waiving the respect due to him.

(Shulchan Aruch - Yoreh Deah 240:19)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Practical Advice To Control Thoughts

Chassidus places an emphasis on a person's ability to control his thoughts. Rabbi Nasan Maimon provided excellent practical advice how to accomplish this in one of his Likutey Moharan shiurim. Rabbi Maimon related Rebbe Nachman of Breslov's teaching that it is impossible for two thoughts to occupy the mind at the same time. Once one is aware that his mind is occupied with bad thoughts or fantasies, Rabbi Maimon suggested counting whatever is around him, whether it trees, fingers on his hands, or tiles on the ceiling. The process of counting immediately occupies the mind and expels the thoughts he is trying to banish. It is an extremely simple but effective technique.

Purifying The Mind

Make sure that you don't allow your mind to become chometz -- leavened. Don't dwell on bad thoughts or desires at all. These thoughts are rooted in the side of death. If they come into your mind, just reject them and push them out completely, because ultimately they ruin the mind and make it impossible to pray properly and experience genuine joy. You should try and avoid even the merest hint of thoughts like this. You should be as careful about it as we are to avoid even the merest speck of chometz on Pesach. Evil thoughts are the leaven in the dough, and the law regarding leaven on Pesach is that we must destroy it completely so that it can neither be seen nor found. Purify your mind and empty it of any thoughts like this.

(Rebbe Nachman of Breslov)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What Is The Origin Of This Niggun?

Each night when I put my one year-old son to bed I say Shema for him and sing him to sleep with "Kumi Roni" [track #3]. Does anyone know the origin of this niggun? The liner notes in the Yosef Karduner CD says something about the Maggid of Mezeritch.

I would appreciate any information that anyone has on this. Thank you.

* Also, does anyone know the origin of this niggun [track #1] that I sing to my daughter.


Rabbi David Sears responded:

"Rabbi Nachman Burstein shlita combined this old niggun with the words "Kumi Roni BaLayloh." Breslov tradition has it that the melody was written by the Maggid. Andy Statman once recorded it, too, on 'Songs of the Breslever Chassidim: Today.'"

Geneivas Zman - Stealing Time From Others

A person who is habitually late may not realize that the punctual person waiting for him views the lack of punctuality as a sign of disrespect. This person's actions indicate that he does not have any regard for another person's time.

If one looks through the books of our heritage, where does one find the idea that it permitted to be habitually late?

Where does one find the idea that time is not precious and that time should be wasted?

What justification can the habitually late person find for his actions other than pointing a finger at the lack of punctuality of "other people"?

Theft of time is every bit as serious as theft of money.

(Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto)

Ticking Away

Time that you waste is your life, ticking away and gone.

(Piaceszna Rebbe)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Milk And Honey Under Your Tongue

I am currently in a shaky period with my job. Until last Friday it was extremely difficult to keep myself from worrying about this situation. As a the sole breadwinner for my wife and two small children, I do everything in my power to make sure that I can always support them.

Ultimately, my parnossa comes from Hashem. My job is only the means in which I receive this blessing. Each morning before leaving the house to gather my daily manna I follow the advice of the Degel Machaneh Ephraim who wrote, "Everyday one must daven for his parnossa."

In order to resolve my problem at work, I decided to go over my boss's head and talk to someone who serves on Hashem's executive corporate staff. I asked Rabbi Lazer Brody for his assistance to approach the Melitzer Rebbe (a descendent of the Degel Machaneh Ephraim) for a brocha of parnossa.

Last Friday, I received an e-mail from Rabbi Brody with the following words:

"I spoke to the Rebbe after shacharis this morning and told him all about you - he gave you a tremendous brocho....that you should have milk and honey under your tongue always, a sign of good parnassa."

I have complete faith in the tremendous power of this tzaddik's brocha and know with certainty that now I have nothing to worry about.

Channeled Through A Tzaddik

All the blessings of Heaven are channeled through a tzaddik to those around him.There is a channel for livelihood, one for health, one to grant children, and so on.

(Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam of Bobov)

Friday, June 17, 2005

A Haskama And A Story

The sefer Degel Machaneh Ephraim contains the haskamos from many great tzaddikim, including Rebbe Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, the Maggid of Koznitz, the Chozeh of Lublin, the Ohev Yisroel, Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Liska, the Be'er Mayim Chaim, and Rabbi Yosef Shaul HaLevi Nathanson.

During the Holocaust this sefer was printed in Hungary. The 1942 printing includes the haskamos of Rabbi Mordechai Brisk and Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Ehrenreich, both of whom were murdered in Auschwitz.

Before going to the gas chambers in Auschwitz on the 11th of Sivan, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Ehrenreich turned to one his disciples and said, "We are now going to sanctify Hashem with simcha"

This story leaves me speechless. This is a level that I cannot even fathom.

Note: Both Rabbi Modechai Brisk and Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Ehrenreich went to gas chambers in Auschwitz on June 2, 1944. On June 2nd, sixty years later, my son was born.

Love & Worry Intertwined

The numerical equivalent of the Hebrew words ahavah (love) and daagah (worry) are identical (13). Parenting a child is an experience that, at its core, involves a mixture of love intertwined with worry.

(Rabbi Raphael Pelcovitz)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Afterthoughts From A Conversation On Prayer

A colleague recently related to me two of his personal prayers that really made me stop and think.

G-d, let me see this person [a person who is giving him trouble] as You see him.

G-d, let me see myself as You see me.

I don't know if I am brave enough for the second prayer. It makes me recall the words of the Kotzker Rebbe, "If G-d were to show you your true colors, you would not be able to continue living for one hour."

As for the first prayer, I have modified it for my own use:

"Ribbono shel Olam, may I see my fellow Jew as You see him. May I be able to perceive the holy and pure neshoma inside him."

Reopening The Clogged Channels Of Livelihood

Since the beginning of Creation, a steady flow of abundant grace has constantly descended upon the world, sustaining life in all its manifestations. A person with an unclouded mind understands this and does not worry about earning his livelihood. He knows with certitude that the uninterrupted flow of abundance is bound to reach him. But if a person’s faith begins to waiver and he is apprehensive about gaining his daily bread, then the channels become blocked. However, G-d will reopen these clogged channels in response to diligent Torah study and fervent prayer.

(Reb Zusia of Anapol)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

"Already There Judaism"

Note: In this posting addressing "Already There Judaism" I am not specifically referring to any one movement, Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, or "Ultra-Orthodox".

There are people who practice Already There Judaism within each of these groups.


What is "Already There Judaism"?

A person who practices Already There Judaism believes that he has reached the pinnacle of his religious observance. If total observance of the mitzvos is rated as level 100, he is convinced that he is at 100. He is on top of the mountain and there is no where left to go.

The Already There Jew looks disparagingly at another person whose observance surpasses his own. He cannot fathom the idea that a person can do more than he does. He feels threatened to learn that perhaps he is not at 100, perhaps the rating scale goes from 0 to infinity and he has stopped off at a motel somewhere along the way.

The Already There Jew has forgotten that Judaism stresses maintaining a personal connection to G-d, and by increasing his observance of mitzvos he increases his own personal connection.

If the Already There Jew was truly "there", Moshiach would already be here.

(Cross Posted on The Jewish Source)

Summing Up Shavuos In A Sentence

For our receiving of the Torah is in direct proportion to the effort we expend obtaining it.

(Rabbi Chaim Kramer)

Friday, June 10, 2005

A Guest Posting From My Wife: Should You Find Out The Gender Of The Baby?

The other day I heard a story that really confirmed in my mind that everything happens for a reason.

A neighbor of ours is expecting her second baby. In announcing the pregnancy a few months ago, there was no hiding the fact that she and her husband really wanted to have a boy (their first child is a girl). Not only did they say they wanted to have a boy, but both grandmothers told many of our neighbors the same thing.

Here's where the story unfolds. The first time my neighbor went for a sonogram, the baby crossed its legs and did not allow the technician to determine the gender. The second time she went for a sonogram, the machine was broken. And, the third time the doctor was called away on an emergency.

Needless to say, I was sure this was a sign from Above, that perhaps my neighbor was not meant to find out the gender of her unborn baby. I said something to this effect to her a few weeks ago, but she said they were determined to find out the sex of the baby. In the back of my head, I thought it was going to be a girl.

Well, I ran into her husband the other day and I said, "Any news?!"

He said, "It's a girl...." Not too excited, I must say.

I guess we need to pay attention to signs from G-d to prevent us for any unnecessary disappointments in life.

All I hope is that they are blessed with a healthy baby girl that will be loved unconditionally even though everyone knew they wanted to have a boy.

A Thought Appropriate For Shavuos

[At the giving of the Torah] All the people saw the sounds and the lightning, the blast of the ram's horn and the mountain smoking. The people trembled when they saw it, keeping their distance. (Shemos 20:15)

All the people saw the sounds - This is strange indeed. Sounds are heard, not seen. A parable will help to clarify this verse:

There was a musician who one day played his violin so sweetly and with such passionate joy that all bystanders, unable to restrain their emotions, exploded into frenzied and boisterous dance. Just then a deaf man passed by. Since he could not hear the music, the tumultuous dancers appeared to him like people who had gone raving mad. Had he understood that it was the thrilling music that inspired the dancing, he too would have joined in.

When G-d revealed Himself on Mount Sinai, and the people of Israel saw the Divine Light and the angels dancing, they understood that this dance was stimulated by the sweetness and beauty of the sound of Torah. Although they could not yet grasp the full significance of the Torah, they inferred from the joyous dancing of the angels that the Torah contained a rich treasure. They "saw the sounds" of the Torah without hearing - that is, understanding - its meaning, and pushed forward in an attempt to partake of the sweetness of its light.

(Degel Machaneh Ephraim)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Two Bits Of News

1) My wife just called me at the office and told me that my one year-old son started saying "Dada" today.

2) There will be a special guest posting tomorrow. Stay tuned....

We All Have Chiclets

In his book, Listen To Your Messages, Rabbi Frand related a story about a rabbi who helped a woman kasher her kitchen for the first time. When the rabbi arrived at her home he noticed a pack of non-kosher Chiclets laying out on a table and gently informed the woman that they would need to discard the Chiclets before they began. The woman adamantly refused and decided against kashering her kitchen. All because of Chiclets.

On this story Rabbi Frand commented, "We all have our Chiclets. We all have some reprehensible items we cling to so tightly that it seems as if our lives depend on them. But no matter what that something is, it can be done. We can give it up. We can change. The key to change is starting small."

The rationalizations and excuses I give why I need to hold on to my own "Chiclets" would probably sound ridiculous to an outsider. They continue to be little road blocks in my brain and hurdles that I am not ready to jump over at the present time.

G-d willing, one day I will be able to recognize these obstacles for what they truly are and overcome them.

(Cross Posted on The Jewish Connection)

A New Book By Rabbi David Sears

Rabbi David Sears has recently released a new book that provides a translation and original commentary to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov's only poem.

Information on this book can be found here.

Forgeting The Meaning Of Simple Words

Sophistication can make us forget the meaning of simple words such as "I love," "I hate," "I believe," "I am afraid," "I am a Jew." It forces the most basic things not only out of the discussion, but even out of the very process of thinking. Instead, we get dragged into a heap of complex talk that is detached from reality, genuine experiences and emotions.

(Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Answering A Question With A Story

A person recently asked me the question, "How can I continue to enjoy the luxury that I live in when there are people starving and suffering in the world?"

I answered this question by sending the person a story about the Degel Machaneh Ephraim that addresses this issue:

Once a wealthy man who was known to be a miser, came to the Degel Machaneh Ephraim and boasted how he was able to subsist on a piece of black bread, some herring, and onions.

The Degel became angry and he reprimanded the rich man. "You are committing a sin when you eat such a measly meal," he said. "A person of means who was blessed by G-d with great wealth, should eat a sumptuous meal every day. A meal consisting of meat, fish, wine, and all the delicacies."

When the Degel's disciples heard this they asked him, "Rabbi, why were you so concerned with the meals of this miser? Does it matter to others what he eats?"

"It isn't him about whom I am thinking," replied the Degel with a smile. "I am thinking of the poor who have to come to him for tzedakah. If he is accustomed to eat meat and fish every day, he would then realize what it means to go without it. He will have more consideration of the poor and give them bigger donations."

Jingling Sound

The jingling sounds coins make when thrown into a pushka eliminate evil decrees.

(Baal Shem Tov)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Wonderful New Blog

My friend Chaim, from LIFE-of-RUBIN, has recently enlisted the help of many other great bloggers and unveiled his wonderful new project entitled The Jewish Connection.

Be sure to take a look.

A Friend's Reminder

This posting was a reminder when I needed it the most. Continually being able to overcome lethargy and truly daven from one's heart is extremely difficult. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov warned in Likutey Moharan I,9, "When a person stands up to pray he is beset by external thoughts and kelipos surround him on all sides."

The Yetzer Hara opposes me in this area on a daily basis, particularly at the times for Minchah and Maariv. It tries to convince me that I am too exhausted to daven. It tells me that I should forget about davening and go to sleep so I can daven with more energy and enthusiasm in the morning. When I am davening it tries to divert my concentration to matters relating to the office or to other trivialities.

The Baal Shem Tov once observed, "One can learn a great deal by observing the Evil Inclination - for example, the great lengths it will go to achieve its purpose. Now you, on the other hand, do only the absolute minimum.

Deep down I know I am capable of much more. I can do more than the absolute minimum and overcome my inherent laziness.

I will start again now.

The Empty Hand

The Evil Inclination is like a prankster running through a crowd showing his tightly closed hand. No one knows what he is holding. He goes up to each one and asks, "What do you suppose I have in my hand?" Each one imagines that the closed hand contains just what he desires most. They all hurry and run after the prankster. Then, when he has tricked them all into following him, he opens his hand. It is completely empty. The same is true of the Evil One. He fools the world, tricking it into following him. All men think that his hand contains what they desire. But in the end, he opens his hand. There is nothing in it and no desire is ever fulfilled.

(Rebbe Nachman of Breslov)

Monday, June 06, 2005

A Thought From My Better Half

Last Thursday night I ran downstairs and wrote down my wife's words of wisdom, applicable to so many situations in life:

"You can't let a single moment now influence a lifelong decision."

She spoke these words in response to a point that I made that was full of future postulations and hypothetical scenarios. It was remarkable to see this former Golden Key Honour Society and Phi Beta Kappa member throw her analytical and rational thought out the window and rely simply on faith.

What I have I struggle to obtain, comes so naturally to my wife.

A Woman's Intuition

The women took no part in the sin of the golden calf, or the rebellion of Korach and paid no heed to the evil report of the spies. On the contrary, while the men complained about Eretz Yisroel and refused to enter, the women cherished the Land. The love of the women for Eretz Yisroel stems from their bitul. Even though "Eretz Yisroel is acquired with suffering", women are capable of enduring the type of suffering necessary in order to do what is right. We have seen this in the case of Rabbi Akiva, whose wife Rochel became the foundation of the entire Talmud, through the selfless way in which she supported her husband.

Another of Rochel's admirable traits was her profound insight into human nature. Women have an intuitive sense that enables them to perceive the true essence of people. For example, when Elisha the Prophet was a guest in the town of Shunam, his host was oblivious to his true stature. His hostess however, realised who he was and suggested to her husband that they build a guest room for him. The Gemara says that from this episode we can learn about the nature of female intuition. If a woman has such insight into a stranger, how much more is she able to realise the true nature of her own husband?

(Biala Rebbe)

Friday, June 03, 2005

A Homeowner's Problems

Every homeowner knows that it will not be long before the next problem arises that requires his attention. Whether it is a faucet that leaks, an appliance that stops working, or termite infestation, there is always something that will pop up to rob the homeowner of his serenity.

This, however, is only a matter of perspective, for in reality these are not even problems when you consider the following:

My government isn't planning to give my home to people that raise their children to hate me and engage in terrorism.

My government isn't planning to use its armed forces to forcibly expel me if I turn down their offer of compensation.

My government isn't planning to dig up the remains of my relatives and bury them in cemeteries elsewhere.

While these are statements that I am able to make, they are not statements that the Jews in Gush Katif can make. This is their reality. I continue to pour out my heart in prayer to the One who is ultimately in charge, knowing that He will have compassion on them. He too was uprooted from His house.


Ribbono shel Olam! When a Jew drops his tefillin he is shocked and distressed. He lifts them up from the floor, kisses them with reverence, and fasts the entire day to atone for their humiliation. Ribbono shel Olam! Your tefillin, the Jewish people - for two thousand years they are lying downtrodden on the ground. When will you raise them up? When, when will you raise them up?

(Rebbe Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev)

We Have The Leaders We Deserve

When G-d is angry with Israel he appoints leaders for them who guide them into pitfalls.

(Talmud - Bava Kamma 52a)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

"Mine!" - An Only Child's Thoughts

One of the many reasons my wife and I decided to have a second child was because we didn't want our daughter to be an only child. Witnessing our family's intense focus on our daughter the first months after she was born convinced us to have another child in order to teach our daughter that she was not the center of the universe.

My son has taught my daughter that she needs to share her toys, she needs to watch out and care for someone else, and that she cannot continually command her parents entire attention. My son helps bring out the best in her, and my daughter helps to bring out the best in him.

Speaking as an only child, I think one of the best things that you can do to raise a child is to make sure that your child is not an "only child".

The Transparency Of A Child

In the whole area of expressing the soul, we have much to learn from children. Children behave with a total absence of artifice and pretense. The child’s very soul is expressed in each of his activities. He is transparent. His soul shines through in everything he does.

(Piaceszna Rebbe)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Blackened As A Smoker's Lungs

Some people are convinced to stop smoking after seeing pictures of diseased lungs, blackened by tar from cigarettes. With these pictures they are able to see the effect of their actions.

If only we could see a picture of our neshoma to understand how our aveiros blemish it.

I cannot imagine a more frightening wake up call.

Protecting Against Scratches And Dents

When you don't know what's going to happen from one day to the next and from one year to the next, you get a different perspective on life. You start to think a little more about the precious asset with which the Almighty has entrusted you. You gain a new appreciation for that incandescent spark of the Divine within you. And you rearrange your priorities to make sure that it remains in its pristine condition, protected from the disfigurement of scratches and dents.

(Rabbi Yissocher Frand)