Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Segula to Rectify Davening Without a Minyan

The Lev Simcha of Ger says in the name of the Rebbe, Reb Simcha Bunim of Peshischa that davening properly with a minyan on Shmini Atzeres is a “tikkun” for the times one davened without a minyan and it raises up all the tefilos of the previous year, even those davened without a minyan.

Gematria In Vezos HaBrocha

From an e-mail received from David Friedman:

Here are some fascinating remazim to the offsprings of the Baal Shem Tov's daughter, Udel.

The Baal Shem Tov named his daughter, אדל, which he said stood for the words, אש דת למו, at the beginning of וזאת הברכה (Devarim 33:2). She had two illustrious sons, Reb Moshe Chaim Ephraim, author of דגל מחנה אפרים, and the Rebbe, Reb Boruch’l of Mezhibuzh, whose teachings are found in ספר בוצינא דנהורא. She also had a daughter, Faiga, the mother of Reb Nachman of Breslov. The Degel Machaneh Ephraim on the posuk זה ספר תולדת אדם (Bereishis 5:1) says that ספר equals the gematria of שם – “name”. Based on this, the posuk can mean that the “name” contains the children of the person (תולדת אדם). The name אדל is the first letters of אש דת למו, which contains remazim to all of her children.

אש is equal to מוהר״ן, the term often used for Reb Nachman of Breslov. He also said that his אש - “fire" will burn till Moshiach comes.

אש bimilui, אלף שין, equals 471 – the gematria of דגל מחנה אפרים.

Also, 471 is equal to the gematria of רבי ברוכ׳ל with the kolel.

אש דת למו is equal to 781, the gematria of משה חיים אפרים.

781 is equal to ספר בוצינא דנהורא with the letters and kolel.

מו bimilui מם ואו, with the kolel, equals פיגא.

אדל bimilui אלף דלת למד, plus the letters and kolel, equals נחל נבע מקור חכמה.

The last letters of אש דת למו, which are שתו, equal 706 - the gematria of שלמה אפרים.

אש דת with the kolel also equals 706

706 is also equal to נחמן בר שמחה with the 3 words.

שתו bimilui שין תיו ואו with the kolel equals 790, the gematria of נחמן בר שמחה זי״ע.

The letters of אש דת למו in א״ת ב״ש are: תב קא כיפ – equal to 613.

"...and the rains from heaven were restrained"

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 135:10:

With regards to sleeping in the sukkah when it is raining, even a small amount of rain constitutes distress for sleeping, on account of which one may leave the sukkah. If he left the sukkah to his house because of the rain, and he lay down to sleep, and then the rain stopped, or he initially lay down to sleep in the house because of the rain and the rain stopped, we do not trouble him to return to the sukkah all night; rather, he may sleep in his house until morning.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Did I really mean what I said?

How is Sukkos a logical continuation of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur? Sukkos is a continuation in that it is the first opportunity to have my actions validate my words.

On Rosh Hashana, I pledged my allegiance to Hashem; proclaiming that He is my one and only King. On Yom Kippur, I spent the entire day in shul apologizing for all the times I did what I wanted to do rather than what He commanded me to do. I begged, I pleaded, I didn't eat or drink anything, hoping that I could convince Him that my words were indeed honest reflections of my true self.

And then just five days later, Hashem puts my true loyalty to the test on Sukkos with a variety of mitzvos that are both difficult to observe and to comprehend. He tests me to determine whether I will we put aside my personal sense of comfort and convenience to fulfill His will by eating, drinking, and even sleeping in the sukka. He tests my modern mind by asking me to perform a mitzva that is seemingly irrational; shaking a fruit, palm branch, and some twigs that are bundled together.

If I am honest with myself, I will acknowledge that my observance of the mitzvos of Sukkos provides a good barometer of my relationship to Hashem. How I approach these mitzvos reveals whether I am obediently following His commandments, or just serving Him out of habit and routine during the rest of the days of the year.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Seeing the Ushpizin

I don't actually see the ushpizin, but I believe they are present in my sukkah. And believing is greater than seeing. Emuna itself creates a reality more powerful than anything perceived with the physical eye.

(Kotzker Rebbe)

"Most of the people are mistakenly lenient in this..."

Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’avodah:

The second part of the commandment of “you shall dwell in the sukka” is to sleep in the sukka. Most of the people are mistakenly lenient in this.

This is a matter that is brought in the Mishna and Beraisa, that even a casual sleep is forbidden outside the sukka. Even though the Rema brings two reasons why we are lenient with sleeping in the sukka, certainly the first reason that he writes, because of the discomfort of the chill in cold climates, doesn’t apply in our country because it’s not that cold on Sukkos. It also doesn’t apply to those that have heaters and blankets.

Also the second reason he writes, that dwelling in the sukka should be the same as we do all year round doesn't apply for one taking a nap during the day. It also doesn’t apply to one who sleeps in his house at night alone. For the person who has even a little fear of Hashem in his heart, how is it possible to exempt oneself from a positive Torah commandment with these reasons?

How can one not be embarrassed and humiliated before his Creator? How can fear and dread not fall upon a person for the nullification of this positive commandment, when one sleeps even a casual nap outside the sukka?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

וטהר לבנו לעבדך באמת

Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, and I just could not connect.

My whole life revolves around avodas Hashem, and I sat in shul for hours uninspired with the realization that I was allowing precious moments to escape. I tried to focus on just a few words in the Machzor: וטהר לבנו לעבדך באמת ("and purify our hearts to serve You in truth"). I repeated them over and over throughout the course of the day and hoped that Hashem would open my heart to Him before Yom Kippur was over.

....and I continued to sit there as the hours passed, and the sun began to descend.

Neila arrived and I was determined not to let Yom Kippur pass by as if it were just any other day. I put everything I had into my davening and once I reached the words וטהר לבנו לעבדך באמת tears suddenly began to fill my eyes. After two years, I experienced a feeling of Hashem's closeness that I had since longed to re-experience.

I left Yom Kippur this year reinvigorated; energized to face a new year of strengthening my connection to Him and energized to try to bring chizuk to His people.

New Breslov Center Website

After many years of kind sponsorship and assistance from Nachal Novea Mekor Chochma, the umbrella organization of the Breslov community Tzefat, the Breslov Center for Spiritual Growth will no longer be using their server. Instead, the Breslov Center is recreating their website in blog format, with several pages linked on the sidebar—including the new "Solitude/Hisbodedus" archive of essays and translations. It will take time to complete the transfer, but the new site is already up and running:


Many changes should take place during the next few weeks, as work on the site continues.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Year That Passed, The Year That Is To Be

"What is the mitzva I should concentrate on during 5770?", I asked the Sudilkover Rebbe.

The Rebbe paused and thought for sometime before responding, "Do you give ma'aser properly?"

"...well, I certainly give tzedaka throughout the course of the year...", I admitted.

With a look of disapproval, the Rebbe then said, "Every Jew gives tzedaka!!! What I am asking is whether you have a separate account devoted to for ma'aser."

To this, I admitted the truth: I did not. The Rebbe suggested that I review the halachos of ma'aser and set up a separate account for this purpose. He reminded me that the Torah says that a person will benefit financially from giving ma'aser and suggested that perhaps I would be able to work less as well.

Returning from this meeting with the Rebbe in Cheshvan 5770, I reviewed the halachos of ma'aser, calculated what my annual ma'aser amount would be, and opened a ma'aser account that included a function to automatically transfer a set amount from each paycheck into this account.

The results from my observance of the mitzva of ma'aser proved to be amazing. Within the course of the year, I received a substantial raise in salary and permission to work from home one day a week. This second benefit has aided me greatly in my avodas Hashem. Not only do I have more time during the week to learn, but I also have more time to devote to my book project. Looking back now, I realize that my observance of this mitzva helped create the nonexistent spare time that I was seeking last year.

Three days before Rosh Hashana this year, I was fortunate to meet with the Sudilkover Rebbe once again in Boro Park. I asked him what area in my avodas Hashem I needed to concentrate on during 5751 and also asked him some remaining questions that I had regarding my book project. I have since written up his responses pertaining to my book project and I hope to have a completed manuscript within the next month or two. The next stage will be to send the manuscript out to a number of people for their review and editorial comments before I approach a publisher.

G-d willing, I hope to be able to return to posting here on a more frequent basis and perhaps one day even announce the release of my book on this site.