Author Archives: shulikleinman

Real free will – what does it mean in terms of who we are or can be?

When we are growing up, our lives as dependents mean that we are under the authority of our parents, our Rebbeim, our teachers and more.. Through these relationships, we learn a great deal about boundaries, acceptable and ideal conduct. In a very real way, because we are truly dependent upon these figures for our maintenance and development, how we look in their eyes matters to us and we form ourselves to conform to their expectations and values. The goal is for the role models and figures in our lives to help us internalize into the personality and value system ways of interacting with the world that reflect into the world an image that can lead to a happy life.


Thus forms something very valuable – our intellect and our ego. These are necessary parts of our existence. Torah comes to show us, though, that as crucial as these are, the overall purpose and goal of being in this world is to serve Hashem and provide a dwelling place in our hearts for Hashem so that He can be seen in time and space. Here we see something very important.


Our lives as we live them on a moment to moment basis are 100 percent in time and space. However, our soul as it exists on a moment to moment basis is also in a higher world connected to Hashem’s name, rooted in the upper yud, the world of Atzilus where the soul of Nishmas Am Yisrael was formed before the world ever existed. What, then, is the proportionality of our existence? What percentage of our identity does intellect and ego compose and what percentage of our identity does tzelem elokim rooted in atzilut compose?



As we experience it, we are pretty much only in touch with our thoughts and feelings in this world. Without Torah, we would probably say that the proportionality is 99% intellect/ego oriented and somewhere there is a 1% that hopefully will manage to get its needs met so we can go to heaven after 120 years. Torah teaches us something much different though.


The whole purpose of being alive is to break our nature. If we feel 99% attached to an identity of our nature, how are we going to break our nature? It feels too hard, too much like we would hurt ourselves in even trying. And without Torah, our tendency would be that the voice of the inner critic, the messages we internalized when dependent upon others that may have associated with feelings of being embarrassed or not good enough or not lovable enough or whatever stormy emotions we reacted with because of the imperfections of our role models and teachers, would now continue to try to shape us up, to teach us, to get us to improve. If we had healthy shaping, that might help a great deal. If we had unhealthy shaping, we might really become self-abusive. But regardless, there is an entirely different perspective that Torah suggests for us, and that is to see our naturally developed self not as our identity but as the place that our behira point is set.

sun above thunderclouds

We have real free will. We have an amazing gift of being made in the image of Hashem. Hashem glorifies us with a tzelem elokim that has the capacity to bring healing to every part of our thoughts and emotions. It is designed to bring us what we need to triumph over our natural urges and rectify our hearts in order that Hashem have a dwelling place within us.

The tool with which we do the work of free will is intellect and imagination. When we perceive things, our intellect begins scanning to discern what is going on and asking where the imagination should attach in order to bring into speech and deed a response. What the intellect chooses, then, brings it into the mind and then through the heart and into the world. Our free will point is that choice of what the intellect will select – will it be something connected to Torah, praying fervently to Hashem or emulating Hashem’s attributes , thereby assuring that our imagination is being filled with absolute truth, or will it be something connected to lower urges, invariably resulting in falsehoods that cannot avoid some sort of output of damage, either to ourselves, the world, or others.

pirates-chest-crane-redemption-game-smart-industries grabberThe_Claw_Candy_Grabber_Arcade_Machine


To see everything we relate to as “me” as a smaller proportion to a larger “me” is something Torah teaches us. To see that we are beings that create positive or negative influence based on those choices is something else that Torah teaches us.


In earlier times, people learned that using rivers and lakes for water and for relieving themselves led to disease. Perhaps that analogy can help us understand better what happens when our intellect grasps onto a thought that is not absolute truth and brings it into our deeds. What we say and do create spiritual entities, either positive or negative. Hashem sustains the negative beings patiently bearing their discomfort awaiting our teshuva, which then removes that spiritual being or, if we do teshuva with love, turns it into a positive being. The point is that what we say and do leave more than an imprint in the minds of those we affect. What we say and do creates beings that we are responsible for and that Hashem may use in His conduct of maintaining the world. In His Kindness, Hashem reminds us through bringing to our attention in our reactions areas where He suggests we bring rectifications to our natural urges. Where our natural urges reside, His Attributes of Mercy are blocked from entering. He desires our hearts. Thus when we experience a stormy day or emotion, it is fair to ask ourselves where have we identified with the natural responses and how might we make our sense of autonomy more porous in order to permit our tzelem elokim that got trapped there in its search for happiness to return its search for happiness to the absolute source of finding happiness, which is in learning Torah, praying fervently to Hashem for what we want and need, and emulating His attributes of mercy. Notice that blame and shame of the natural urges is what is natural and, if we are very damaged or have not developed the Torah understandings in a way that we can grasp onto them in the moment, automatic. That does not change that we have real free will and that there IS a behira point, a free will point, that with reflection and speaking it out to Hashem in verbal introspection, can come into focus.


Hashem helps us with this, but it might not be right away that we have the breakthroughs that ultimately give us a real shift, a new natural of reflecting His Attributes in the world. Nevertheless, each time we make an effort and ask Him to help us, we form a spiritual being that is there with us to help us the next time that behira point comes up and eventually we are able to make great progress, taking what might seem like a ball of knots and one at a time, unknotting our identity from the externally formed but internally experienced definitions of who we are. At some point, a ball of knots becomes a little looser, and then the ball expands and we become closer and closer to straightening out the threads of thoughts for our life into something that can lead in a direct path towards connection and devekus to Hashem.

knotted string

May our effort to do so with love in our hearts show Hashem that we love Him and recognize our role as Nishmas Am Yisrael and desire greatly to cleave to Torah and His Attributes so as to reflect into the world His Light. And may Hashem create an arousal from above that will dispel more darkness and bring us to redemption.

Rabbi Yaakov Zalman Labinsky – Elul and Ani Ledodi vDodi Li – it is all about love, how to bring it into our marriages

Rough unedited notes:

When we talk about elul there is one essential word, love is in the air. We are closing up new year, the plane is getting ready to land, the runway of its destination, we are closing up one year, to reflect back on 12 months, and everything we have done and haven’t done, and everythuung we are aspiring and perspiring to, to get a bigger perspective. It is the closing point of the whole year.


Our eyes are looking forward to 5775 new challenges and opportunities . it is a timely way to bridge our reality, in closing and beginning.


With that koach of transition and bridging realities, it is love and fear that is the bridge. Ani ledodi is an expression of love. We have love all year. But love in here is an extra infusion of divine love in the air right now, and we can tap in deeply conceptually and practically and direct it back to HKB. Any time you are transitioning from good to better and you break out of your complacency, it involves risk taking, uncertainties, courage and hulity, to go to a bolder place and Hashem does his part


As lofty as we think we are, we strive. The fuel is love and fear. With love you can do more, grow higher and for HKB in this world. Wherever your feeling of ove is that is the fuel power. Ani ledodi is dare to love me greater, expand to draw closer and perceive me more and feel my presence in Your life. How can we systematically expand our capacity for being loving and being loved.


We all know we need to be loved and valued. In pirke avos, the sixth mishna says we love and be loved, we love others first. When we initiate that love, we have to do it in a mutual sharing more dynamic way. The more we grow in that capacity, it is an amazing place of pleasure and joy. Fear is the foundation but love is the house.


I an the beloved, latzmo   chaverio is not the starting point even though we are instructed to love our feelow and ani hashem.. so do we start with the other or ourself. Let’s make it right to the point. Ideally we want to start with ourselves. I have to love first and then I can be loved back. But a relationship to oneself, in trust is abstract. It is hard to relate to oneself as relating to others. When we are by ourselves we are in a relationship with ourselves, bonding with our soul . the more natural realm of connecting to komocha, by interpersonal, you can use that relatiionshp to become divine and reflect back into latzma.


In the pupil is an actual mirror image of you in their eyes. In the intimate part of looking into each other’s soul you can see in an inner way your quality, to love yourself. In the most purest way, the latzmo is first. Extend out to your spouse and then to HKB. That is awaking from below.   From above it is from HKB to self and up.


If you are tangible, you may need chomocha first. If intangible, latzmo first.


We will start in the purest way, if you want love and respect from others you have to deeply love and give respect first.   I am my beloved to the shechina,. Hashem is constant and with us all around. To what extent do we perceive. The rochel and leahs he is with us all the time. To what extent is our soul open to receiving, conceiving and perceiving something else   the more we want to beomce divine and taste our divinity, the more we will return and deeply return and to reveal the shechina and attach to this world and back to HKB. If we toil enough we will come to see it is always as strong as the weakest link. Ultimately in truth when you join to the shechina you are part of it and there is no I. I am not standing on my own. The elokus is hashem in me that He lets me use. When I join to my beloved it is really all Him, . my spouse too, we are also Hashem, we are a divine union a presence of HKB in this world. We see love within truth is the basis for our own drive. The deeper to develop love the more we strive to grow and capacity we have to do teshuva. The more we can make more space for Hashem in this world nd in your life and marriage.


There are different ways to define love. The one we can use in the most prolific way. Love is based on the virtues of a person. It is the core spiritual emotion when they take time to identify, acknowelge and communicate the virtues of another. It involves the capacity to give, to look at them, to study them, to break them down as a scientist who understands what they are seeing, and how to play it in the greater way, to understand the multilayered nature of another. We start with self, but if it is too hard, start with spouse and fold back into self. See a virtue or a midda, a virtue in its pure form is a value, with a divine origin, being goodly or gdly Hashem’s true priority in this world   the more we see the virtue in ourselves we develop love for ourselves so we don’t underestimate ourselves. You may have a dominant virtue, like color of the eyes. The only part of the eye that varies is the iris, it has one of six colors like the 6cm, a dominant color. We see ourselves as dynamic, even though we have overt traits. We love that part of ourselves, loving HKB, as a means to love the gdly part of us back to Him. A virtue doesn’t lie. It doesn’t manipulate, it has no secondary agenda. It doesn’t have ego based needs at based. The yetzer hara wants to look good in others eyes, appear good rather than find the intrinsic good. It is easier, to manipulate the outside world. If we get the outside world to buy in and give us approval, we don’t have to do the hard work of delving into our virtues for kavod shemayim. The yetzer hara wants the short path of least resistance. Manipulate the externals. It is much easier. Bu tif I identify a virtue in myself, it is not that I did a good thing, a good midda, for a virtue to be virtue it has to have regularity. You cant wrap a momentary blast from a long time ago. That is counterfeit. It is not a moment of divine glory and rest there for the rest of our lives. We continually chose to hone and develop them. That is the image part


Each one of us is made up of emes sheker, we use free will to refine out the higher part. To do something not for the sake of heaven we can come to do it for the sake of heaven. Hashem built into us a self serving starting point. Even if our love for ourselves is mostly external. There is nothing shameful about that or for the spouse. Love is the emotion to idenity the love and virtues of others, the only way to get to lishma, kavod shemayim, is through the shelo lishma. If you think there is a helicopter up, the pinnacle, no. you will crash all the way down. Start at the bottom and climb up rung by rung. Start with self oriented. Rabbi dessler qualifies this chazal, the only way to get self serving interest leads to doing something altruistically is if you have the intention at the beginning of the endeavor. If you do something for them because of what they do for you, external, start there but it isn’t the whole picture. If you keep refining your motivation. Even though the majority of ten karat gold, over half the elements of gold are other impurities, but has it gets refined it goes up. You remove the self serving, self referencing, and as you move out through borer you get left behind more lishma, divine oriented action. Your virtues. It is an endless process.


That becomes the most important thing in how to bridge this gap.. we are created with an ego to rework and refine and shift perspective from external to internal and more about Hashem. Each time we do that you get a little more focused and refined with right motivations and actions. It takes a lifetime to refine it. We come to love ourselves less than we do for others, love ourselves for the virtues we have and who we are, and we love ourselves not just for what we do or who we are, we love ourselves because we are a spark of the divine because there is no you, you are a part of HKB. If you need to start with others first, you need both approaches. You need yourself, and others, and makom, others to see where you are holding in your own love and how to extend it out to others.


Our spouses are a spark of the divine themselves. Study them with a sharp eye, objectivity and truth, the consistency of their patterns, their behaviors, the longevity of what see. They have virtues, it might look goodly, but that is cover for being Gdly in disguise, it is the hidden way they are expressing it.


Don’t just say I love you. The nonverbal must be reinforced with speech, in general and specific. The more details, not to little profound and deep, just the right measure that you will hear and they will feel loved and want to love back and see the virtue in themselves and connect to your own virtue. The love is awoken in them, either from us to spouses or to HKB our virtues run very deep..   whatever the virtue we perceive it is based on action. But if we delve in, it is eternal. There is no end of limit to develop love for oneself and HKB that creates capacity to grow, heal, do teshuva and right intentions to purify intentions and we are the ones that cap the degree of ….there is a 20 foot ceiling there is no limit to how much we can love and be loved by others. That is how the shechina joins above. From there the world becomes a gdly world. That is how we get out of geula, exile to redemption. It is there we have greatest meaning and pleasure. If we don’t we diminish hashem’s love for humanity and creation. What He has endowed us with and the profoundity of love in its pure form can conquer anything, the most overwhelming suffering, inconsolable, your love consquered everything and is meant to be out in this world


Elul love is in the air, to extend the profoundity for our ability …emanating and receiving, in loving or being loved, we explore it, we expose the counterfeit parts and stretch with pure will to extend out, we can generate a new relationship. That means hashem wants us to refine and get more real with it in ratzon dayos and middos, perceiving it correcting and internalizing it, to stribve to be closer to hKB and see a transformation. We are capable of it.


At this time we are trying to perceive things differenty, we have to want to see them in a gdly way and their potential. Secondly, shift our perspective as well as the potential that is there. There is a sense of freshness and renewal, we have a fresh eye. When you are stuck in something, step back, turn it over to HKB, I cant do anymore, I am blind, only YOU can allow me to see, come back with a fresh perspective. That is what we want to understand in elul. We want to come back with fresh eyes, ignore all perceptions, don’t go to interprentations and old patterns. Have fresh eyes, tap into that in elul and with really fresh eyes, look at their divinity they have developed and impose it to their scenario. Acceptance, is part. Active acceptance is for what it is now but if I give proper divine love and value I can know it will change . absolutely. That is active acceptance. That is what fresh eyes will do. We are in elul, two weeks away. Connect to the renewal. The abiity to begin again now, a fresh renewal, another way to perceive them. As you feel fresher and better, you will see them in a better and higher. Leah is diamond in the dung. Focus on the diamond inside. Active acceptance but extract in imagination what that diamond could look like. Give it an image, a shape, a color, hold a place for potential divinity for that it is there and it can come out in actuality, we help nurture and foster it out. If they exist they are in divine image and they have a whole array of divine attributes. It doesn’t matter, it is still there. On the news there are famiies that treasure hunt in the ocean, as a family. The midda I appreciated about them is they are unified that there is something there even though you can’t see it, to measure something below the surface and the riches are incredible. They found a treasure two hundred years old. There are treasures below the surface and we can find it.


Toil for that hidden treasure. You know He created the world, develop the map and sonar to find the vibrations and excavate, no matter how thick the leah or deep. Yaakov created that, we have to plug into it. HKB put a hidden treasure in husband’s leah. The deeper something is buried the greater the treasure. Someone found three cases of napolian champagne it was a few million dollars of champagne. The nimshal is that hashem put incredible treasures but it can be dug up. It is not inaccessible. Vision, architectural plan, technology, patience to dig it out, protect what is found. Hashem creates it with torah to excavate our spouses through sonar mapping, reveal the hidden territories and nurture with invaluable qualities. Patience is the shouldering of the burden until they can carry it themselves. That is patience. You want it now, the way you think it should be. Who are you to create these expectations. Just like hashem carries us, we are carrying others. We carry the burden of others, feel their pain. The word is the same as marriage, as if we are bound up with them. We are married to each other, intimately bound up with each other, we are married to HKB.


If you cant be marred to spouse correctly, now can you carry their burden. Because you connect to the divine attribute Hahsem is working through you and that achieves the outcomes. We have to trust there is a hidden treasure there and have the emunah to reveal HKB attribute to heal it. You have to know knowledge with faith ad trust that hashem put divine treasure in spouse.  It is hashem’s love through us. Align your attributes at the level back to Hashem so Hashem can work through you back to your spouse.   At that moment, there is no power. If you think Hashem cant heal your spouse that is apikorses. It is not impossible. Hashem designs every soul. No one has clarity on anyone else’s soul. We perceive little bits. Hashem sees all and we excavate, through proper patience, and He tainas on us. We stop way to early. We have to believe in the power of love and emes. Even where hopeless and desperate, in hashem’s eyes everything is possible and doable.


We don’t want to be that divine, we don’t want to have to be that responsible. Nothing is impossible. It radically changes our hashkafa all of the time.


We show credence, the midda is how it expresses themselves in an action oriented way. You need right perspective that spouse is most important person or we cant develop love for self. Otherwise we see what did he do for me. The spouse is the other half of me. Then we don’t love them that way because we don’t love ourselves that way. Internalize it in a midda.


Q do you have a source on the eye color

RL arizal, chassidus there is a lot in that, each part of the eye corresponds to shem havaya


Q practically, if I am trying to love myself and hearing a critical voice

RL write it down. Pick one midda like critical, objectively. Pick a midda, talk about how yoou act on it and see it objectively like a scientist. If someone did this, would they be a chessedic person? Ask others. Then five to ten times a day of doing it cfreats a midda of chesed. Now evaluate it. How consistent or good or intentionality, or is self serving, or is what you want to give. It is a virtue. Then you want to objectify it even more, notice when you are doing chesed. Am I doing it because I love them or so that they will love me. Do I want to grant acceptance or seek approval. Develop instruments to assess or ask someone who knows you to evaluate. I want truth. Please tell me without flattery. I countered what they said to see what is real and false and they said it like it was, including where I was not holding. Give me examples and they did, they were true friends. It iwas a great way to heal. If you have one or two people in your life, someone who loves and sees you, ask them to give you objective proof.



Look at middos of Hashem how He runs the world. Kindnesses and mercies, gave us way more in abundance. Even din is merc within judgment.


Core leahs are difficult painful troubled and cursed really possess the spiritual correction. Dovid hanelech praised hashem for that too. Everyting is good. We want to stand on our own that we don’t need anybody but we need Hashem.


Our love is the heart of Klal Yisrael. That is how big our love is. They need all our love and we need theirs. It is not self serving. It is because we want to deepy bring hashem’s glory into the world. We are vehicles and conduits. Everything can be healed, uplifted, no matter what because HKB is above everything and he can reveal that space in this world. Inspiring way to look at elul


All you need is love, based on Hashem’s essence . tap into divine love correctly we have the ability to bring shemayim into the world. We are ego based and self oriented. We want to diminish and express love for hashem and others. Yes we can do it all year round but there is a special divine merit to do it in greater proportionality. Even if yu are doing it for self oriented experiences, do it as a midda, gradually purify your intentions and actions. Love is a choice. Being in a relationsip is a choice. Returning to hashem is a choice. Bringing kavod shemayim is a choice. Over coming nature is a choice. But we have to keep expandeing . anything is possible. Set eyes high and grow close to HKB humanity, fellow Jew and ourselves and our next year is being judged by that.


We go through examples and how to develop in self and spouse and have greater capacity. We can do things that are unimaginable. Give it a shot or opporutinty



ELUL – SOLIDARITY AND SENSITIVITY Shira Smiles shiur – August 31, 2014/Elul 5, 5774

Summary by Channie Koplowitz Stein

            The month of Elul is meant to be a time of introspection leading up to Rosh Hashanah. However, as Rabbi Gamliel Rabinowitz points out in Tiv Hamoadim, most people are very lax in this area, being even less cognizant of our Master than an ox is of its master. The yetzer horo convinces us that were so busy with the physical aspects of yom tov preparation that we neglect the spiritual aspects of the yom tov that also require preparation.

            While we tend to think that we must focus almost exclusively on our relationship with God at this time of year, it is at least equally important to focus on the social mitzvoth that foster our relationship with our fellow man, especially since proper attention to this area will indeed bring us closer to the One God Who has created us all.

            Rabbi Mattisyahu Solomon clarifies this point in Matnas Chaim, by quoting the Mabit, in explaining that the luchot, the two Tablets of the Law that Moshe brought down from Sinai, were equal. How is that possible when the first five utterances, those traditionally referring to the mitzvoth between man and God and carved into the first tablet, contain many words while the next five utterances, traditionally the societal mitzvoth, bein adam lachavero etched on the second tablet, are quite terse? Rabbi Solomon explains that to make the two sides equal, Hashem enlarged the letters on the second tablet so the printed area of the two tablets would be equal. Hashem was teaching us that both aspects of serving Hashem, the spiritual and the societal, are of equal importance, and one should not sacrifice acts of chessed on the altar of religious observance.

            The Matnas Chaim makes another relevant point: We tend to think that we keep the mitzvoth bein adam lachavero because they are logical, because society would revert to chaos without them. But our reasoning is faulty. Just as we observe the laws bein adam laMakom, between man and God, simply because they are Hashems wish and command, so are we to be motivated to observe the laws bein adam lachavero, for even if their logic eludes us, we must observe them because these too are still Gods will.

            In a similar vein, Rabbi Yaakov Hillel points out in Ascending the Path that Many Jews are so punctilious in their observance of laws they deem to be between man and God that they will go so far as to examine an etrog with a magnifying glass for example, while being much less vigilant in their business practices. We must always remember that while Torah study and avodah (religious service) comprise two pillars upon which the world is balanced, the third pillar is gemilut chasadim, acts of loving kindness between man and his fellow man. Unless this third pillar is equally strong, the edifice of the world will topple.

            Rosh Hashanah, for which we are preparing in the month of Elul, is the holiday on which we coronate Hashem as King over the world. However, if there are no subjects there is no sovereign. How can we ensure that Hashems kingdom, we, the Nation of Israel, remain His emissaries to the world? Rabbi Lugassi notes that an integral verse of the High Holidays liturgy is Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Why, asks Rav Lugassi, do we need to hear; would it not be enough to say, Know Israel? In our context, the logic is irrefutable. While knowledge can be individual, hearing requires an audience, in our case, a nation of listeners. We attest as a nation that we accept Hashem as our God and our King. To do this, we must minimize the I for the benefit of the whole. The spirituality of the individual is inextricably intertwined with the spirituality of the

Further, in Moda Labinah, we can rely on the verse from Deuteronomy to help us understand this concept: He became King over Jeshurun when the numbers of the nation gathered the tribes of Israel in unity. In other words, it is the unity of Bnei Yisroel that guarantees the sovereignty of Hakodosh Boruch Hu. How can we achieve that unity and prevent divisiveness? By practicing veohavta lerayacha komocha – loving your fellow Jew as yourself.

            That level can only be achieved through unity and caring for each other. Rav Shmuel Tal explains in Tal Chaim that we achieve this by joining with the collective in prayer, not just to pray for ourselves, but also to pray for the collective and for individuals within our collective nation. We contribute to the collective and offer our services, and do acts of chessed for individuals within the community, and thus become part of something greater than ourselves from which we and the community all benefit. The collective prayer and actions then fuel the energy that powers our personal prayers and needs.

            Hashem wants our prayers, for our voice is pleasing to Him. Rabbi Tzvi Mayer Silberberg offers an additional, beautiful interpretation to this verse from the Hebrew, Ki kolech orev umarech noveh.When is your voice pleasing? When it contains within it orevut, caring, responsibility, an intermingling of my personal needs with the needs of others. My introspection during this month needs to include how I can create unity within my nation, how I can repair relationships, and how I can contribute to the wellbeing of the community

            To emphasize this point, Moda Labinah cites a lesser know acronym for the month of Ilul Ish Lerayehu Umatanot Loevyonim. This key mitzvah of Purim, that one Jew should love his fellow Jew and give gifts to the needy, these acts of chessed, was what Mordechai foresaw would unify the Jews and create the world of (Alul) Ani Ledodi Vedodi Li, I am for my Beloved God, and He is to me, the best known acronym for this months name. (I have changed the English spelling of Elul to conform to the vowels of the silent first Hebrew letter.)

            Being sensitive to others, to their emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs perhaps even more than to their financial needs is key to this mindset. We must love and interact with our fellows as we would love and observe ourselves, with a kind eye, writes Rabbi Castle in Live among Friends. He presents us with a wonderful analogy. When we look in the mirror and notice a smudge, scrubbing the mirror will not remove the dirt on our face. Similarly, when we observe a fault in another, we must remove any negative feelings from our hearts, because generally it is this dirt within our own hearts that is sullying our impression of our fellow Jew. When I correct my vision, I will see the beauty and value of another.

            This vigilance must extend to being sensitive to the inner world of others so as not to cause anyone undue pain. Rabbi Moshe A. Stern cites several instances from Tanach when the pain one inflicted caused undue ramifications generations later, even when the pain was inflicted totally unintentionally and even in the performance of the mitzvah of honoring ones parent. The first instance he cites is Yaakov causing Esau to cry a loud and bitter cry when Yaakov instead of Esau received Yitzchaks blessing, according to his mothers instructions. This phraseology is repeated when Mordechai, Yaakovs descendant, cries a loud and bitter cry at the edict against the Jews that Haman, Esaus descendant, had promulgated.

            A second example Rabbi Stern cites is about Menashe, son of Joseph. He followed his fathers instructions and placed the royal goblet in Binyamins sack, paving the way for Joseph to accuse Benjamin of thievery and causing the brothers who were responsible for his safety to rend their garments in grief. Even though Menashe was obeying his father, when Bnei Yisroel were about to enter Eretz Yisroel, his tribe would be rent in two with one half staying on either side of the Jordan though they had not requested any land on that side.

            How many times are we oblivious to the challenges of others, gloating over the accomplishments of our children while some in our company remain childless, or revel in a job promotion when our friend may be jobless? If we are to remain united and whole, we must anticipate the pain of others and train ourselves to refrain from any speech or action that may cause pain.

            On the other hand, to maintain a peaceful and loving relationship with others, one must be willing to light up ones face with a smile upon meeting others. After all, writes Rabbi Lugassi in Knesset Yisroel, it was Shammai, the seemingly stern sage, who insisted that greeting everyone with a happy countenance is an explicit law in the Torah. In this respect, every human being is in need. We all have the need to be validated with a smile, a verbal embrace, whether its a child, a parent, a colleague or a friend, or even a passerby on the street. Resolve to smile at others for a specific period of time each day and notice how the surrounding energy improves.

            Resolutions for self improvement in the coming year cannot be merely cosmetic, but must deal with the foundation of our being, with our emunah, our faith. Rabbi Rabinowitz explains the connection between emunah and our relationship to others. If we have complete faith in Hakodosh Boruch Hu, we do not get angry at someone for not living up to our expectations, for we realize that Hashem is in control. Further, we must understand, points out the Matnas Chaim, that the world of between man and his fellow man is not a book of rote etiquette, but rather a guide to how Hashem wants me to interact with other human beings, and Hashem generally does not want me to get angry at others.

            However, with Elul upon us, we do want to strive to improve our service to God. Along these lines, Rabbi Wagschall offers some suggestions in Shaarei Elul. First he explains that there are two categories of sins, infrequent ones, like eating something without rabbinic supervision, and others that are so frequent we tend to forget that theyre even sins, like speaking loshon horo or davening without proper intent, arrogance and jealousy. Those in the first category are more easily fixed than the sins in the second. However, success must be counted in small steps. Pick one category and devote your energy to a small section of time within that category, creating a minimum and maximum of effort. For example, if you choose to work on your speech, you may resolve not to speak loshon horo for a particular time of each day, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Your resolution will have the maximum of one hour while your minimum may be twenty minutes. Similarly, you may resolve to daven with the proper intent for one blessing in the Shemoneh Esrei, the silent devotion. Your maximum may be one entire blessing while your minimum may be just the first and last lines of the blessing.

            Year after year we take on resolutions, often the same ones, without success. We fail because we do not include Hashem in our resolution. The purpose of these resolutions must be to bring us closer to our Creator, to build the relationship between myself and my Beloved. To do this, we must make ourselves aware of Hashems constant presence in our lives. This awareness teaches us the worth of every human being who is also a child of God and worthy of our smile, our respect, our prayers on his behalf, and our help. For only as a united people can we create the atmosphere where all of Israel can hear, and indeed all the world will know that the Lord our God the Lord is One.

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Mrs. Smiles is teaching in Ramat Bet Shemesh, Ranaana, Bnei Brak , for ou Israel center in Jerusalem ,  also in Har Nof , and for Rav Judah and Modin this elul-tishrei season. Email for details.

thank you to all who made Shira’s trip to usa possible including the righteous women in cities of 

Miami Beach, Atlanta, Kew Garden Hills, Teaneck, Holliswood, Lawrence ( Amen Group ) , Brooklyn and Far Rockaway. 

 at get older elul classes at

Washing our tzelem elokim through choice and with emunah – with love and gratitude!

The more insights we can get into our mission – what we are here to shine and fix – the more the information below can be helpful in the moment in accomplishing that mission.  With understanding, we can make better choices on how to direct our intellect and will that can minimize the length of time we spin in our inevitable natural reactions such as feeling lack, fearing abandonment, fearing annihilation, anger, anxiety, hatred and more.  Hashem desires to have a relationship with a being capable of reflecting His 13 attributes of mercy yet having real free choice to do so.  He sets our free will point and gives us the power of creative speech along with the built in soul powers of will and emunah to reorganize with.

It is important to understand how through the mitzvah of knowing there is no other power we are empowered  to bring our competing wills from confusion of the way the world looks  to Hashem is One. Doing so is spiritually productive, yet the work is circular, meaning it will have to be repeated even with all the understanding and experience we have, because it is actual functionality for a tzelem elokim in a body, a constant avoda.

What happens when we are young forms impressions in our minds that last a lifetime. A young child experiences perceptions and the intellect of the child grasps those perceptions and serves as a garment over that perception through which the incident becomes an association and the immature inferior child-like understandings absorbed in the mind. A child’s intellect is developing from the animating natural animal soul. Thus what gets stored in our mind solidifies part of our tzelem elokim with basic elements that come from the coverings over the tzelem elokim, our bodies, which naturally have taiva and gaiva, desire and a sense of autonomous independent existence. These thoughts and impressions from childhood become the rough landscaping that we face as adults, our anxieties, our fears, what triggers our negative reactions and more.


It is helpful to understand that even though as adults our intellect may have matured to new understandings, and even though we may not be in touch with the anxieties as having formed from particular occurrences earlier in life, the rough landscaping of our lives can be looked at as these associations stored in the mind that can serve as the fossil fuel through which we can effect healing for ourselves and spiritual nourishment for the universe!


When we experience rough landscaping, and we take the time in verbal introspection to get more knowledge about what the association is, we may not be ale to extricate the association but we can change our relationship with it to one where it becomes a source of good that can even yield the pleasure of having triumphed tzelem elokim over its natural pulls.


Imagine a clump of dirt, and by way of metaphor let’s think of this clump of dirt as the collected events associated with the way our intellect enclothed our perceptions and stored them in the mind.

A clump of dried dirt looks hard but if we pour water over it, what happens? It loosens up! Chesed/Torah/ water are metaphorically related. With love for Hashem in our heart, we ask Hashem to please help us restore to our desires the understanding that He alone is the Source of all vitality and that we wish to remove any desires that are holding these associations together in a clump because of having been enclothed by the intellect of a child’s mind, a childlike intellect that only draws from the animalistic reactions to perceptions. As the associations begin to dissolve into the water of remembering Hashem is the source of all vitality, we may also experience the childlike reactions of lack for that desire, anger, fear, rebellion, desire for value. Fire/gevurah/arrogance/anger/fear are metaphorically related. When we identify that we have passion associated with childlike impressions based on desires from animalistic reactions, we gain the ability to do something that only those with a tzelem elokim can do, which is to triumph a choice to pray passionately to Hashem to do the work of the mitzvah that there is no other power, burning off the natural immature nature that is like brown mud over the Shechina in galus with the tzelem elokim trapped in our subconscious through our childhood and developmental experiences. We want that light to be able to flow together with Hashem’s revealed light, Hashem is One. We can make a choice to actively redirect our imagination based on the certainty that the only glory in the world is Hashem. We have no real glory. The real sense of autonomous separate existence is, from Hashem’s perspective, a huge paper tiger even though it feels like our life, our me. Hashem Who wants a relationship with us gives us real free willed choice to have awe in Him.  We have a choice.


We can choose to direct our intellect to attach imagination to tzelem elokim and free the passionate light animating the animalistic soul trapped in the associations. The colors of the rainbow when joined shine as  white light.   The colors of paint when mixed together form brown  the color of mud, of the earth. So too the light of our tzelem elokim that the intellect enclothed with the natural taintings of taivas and gaivas of childlike thinking is like mud in our brain that causes rough landscaping. We may not realize which of our early associations are generating our anxieties or even if we are, we may not realize that we are empowered in a real way to heal. Yet we can release what animates those early associations, the light within, and that brings white light instead of mud.


When we feel the radioactive passion in the form of anger, fear, judgment, hatred and that category of negative charged emotion, our intellect can instead choose to do something very special. We can use the intellect to bring our imagination to cling to reflecting Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy. The process of exerting white fire will combined with the power of emunah built into the soul with the goal of emulating Hashem is like taking our tzelem elokim through a washing, releasing the natural elements of childlike understandings that are clinging to the tzelem elokim and then with passionate personal prayer asking for those same elements to become a beautiful glaze to help us strengthen our effort to shine Hashem’s light into the world.


Experiments regarding the burning of dirt:

!. metals can be melted out of special dirts called ores. Some ores need to be treated with chemicals to get the desired elements out. Some need to be heated and then the gasses released are condensed



2. it is possible to melt dirt (more correctly, the inorganic fraction of dirt, which might only be 70%). You will be left with a silica rich glass; which is what happened to the ground around underground atomic test sites.
3. There is also a process known as ‘in situ vitrification’; in which carbon electrodes and a strong electric current are used to melt and solidify the earth


4. if you heat wood; it will burn and produce carbon dioxide, with a small proportion of ash. However, if you heat wood in the absence of air, it will decompose, forming volatile organic materials (methane, tar and other organic materials); leaving behind the carbon. This is how charcoal is produced. Theoretically, the carbon could be heated, but it won’t melt. Instead, it will pass direct to the gasseous state at about 4 000 deg c.


We have the resources to fulfill our role as Nishmas Am Yisrael with determination in clinging to awe of Hashem and love for Hashem

When we see passionately felt harshness, we question ourselves, attempting to see if there is a truth greater than the truth of which we are aware. Since there is always a truth greater than the truth of which we are aware, there is very little relief from self-doubt and intimidation that we experience. Inside of us is something that loves truth and connection and it wants to make that connection.


The beauty of teshuva is that if we have opened our eyes to a truth greater than a previous understanding so that now we see that we made bad choices, sinned, and did things that caused damage, all of what we did can be wiped off. This escalator up, this ability to return to serving Hashem, is built into the world at the time of creation because Hashem understood that we would need to have such a way of knowing that we can lovingly return to Him and be totally cleaned off.


We often judge ourselves. Even with words of Torah, which are all truth, we see our defects and are afraid to face them, afraid to say we made bad choices, because we are uncertain if we can really stop and we certainly can’t change what we did in the past if it had real world time and space consequences. So we feel sometimes like excusing ourselves from that part of truth so that we can feel that we are good and that we are in control, not some “rule” whose measure will reflect our imperfections and a harsh image back to us. Perhaps we feel mocked, ashamed, and this pains the soul very much.


Our effort to release the Shechina from the trap of this galus in our nature is an act of charity that gives Hashem back Nishmas Am Yisrael. When we loosen the grip that our image of ourselves holds shut tightly around what we want and instead see our ego perspective for what it is, an “address” in hearts that are in time and space that Hashem is hoping to live within, we move toward choosing Torah and the happiness of being Nishmas Am Yisrael over the natural urges.   Each time we bring Hashem into our hearts thinking of His Happiness that we are fulfilling Torah and His Will, we literally are choosing our identity, for our intellect grasps the Torah ideas and His Middos and these then are drawn through our thoughts into our hearts to nourish us. We literally become a being that reflects His Image more and more into this world and we heal the places in our hearts that we chose His Will over the natural.


Everyone wants happiness, comfort, love, and respect. Hashem knows that. He is the Source for giving it. He desires to reside in our hearts. Normal is to react because of where we believe our happiness lies. Instead we can see how to give happiness to Hashem by emulating Him or bringing Torah into the world. Deep down what holds us back? Do we believe that if we give happiness to Hashem that what is good for us will come to us? Very often what we hear instead is harshness, condemnations, vindictiveness, typical of normal human emotions that clutches shut our ego image keeping our tzelem elokim and the Shechina in galus with it (placed there as the hidden part of our tzelem elokim covered by the utterances through which Hashem creates nature). Let us instead treat Hashem with kindness. That is how we use the escalator? However we judge ourselves, however “hopelessly” we have messed up, the teshuva is real. With our personal prayers and the four steps of teshuva, we sincerely cry out and ask Hashem to please turn our aveiras into mitzvahs because of our regret and our plan for the future. Once we do that teshuva, we need not have any harsh voice towards ourselves ever again! It is not too hard to fulfill the Torah because there is teshuva! Literally, just by praying and doing teshuva, whatever wrongs we did get cleaned off. So what is too strict, too hard, too unforgiving, too limiting about that? Only the grip of the ego and the yetzer hara that wants to interfere and compete for our choice. Surely it is more tangible, familiar but we have to do our job as Nishmas Am Yisrael in a stronger and more determined way. and we have free willed choice to do it.


May we see that the prayers and the words Hashem Echad are not too hard, that the four steps of teshuva are a gift, and that our hearts can reflect more and more of Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy into the world.

Questions that can help us find where we have trapped tzelem elokim that we can uplift to Torah, avoda and chesed, creating an arousal from below

When we take a look at our negative reactions, we can find out a great deal about what is going on deeper in our subconscious if we ask ourselves certain questions, with the aim of comprehending our reactions as coming from either taiva or gaiva, desire or arrogance.  IT IS UP TO US TO PULL OURSELVES OUT OF THE KELIPAS, OUT OF THE GRIP OF TAIVA AND GAIVA,  WE DO SO BY GLUING OURSELVES TO TORAH, PERSONAL HEARTFELT PRAYER AND AVODA, AND EMULATING HASHEM’S ATTRIBUTES OF MERCY.  TORAH TEFILLA AND CHESED.


What happened – describe it like a news report?


How did you emotionally respond, what did you do in response?  What is the image that you had of yourself and how did what happened differ from that image?  Where was what happened lacking in upholding the image or expectation you had? Write it in terms of desires such as for love, attention, kindness, understanding  or terms of independent existence such as  for value, honor, security, recognition.  Doing so will show if the root is a fear of abandonment or a fear of annihilation for not having the desired image maintained



When you look back upon it, of the ways you responded, which have brought you closer to reflecting 13 attributes of mercy over the natural responses and how? And which ones brought you farther from triumphing the 13 attributes of mercy over the natural responses?



What were you thinking and feeling when you reacted in a way or in part of a way that brought you closer to Hashem’s 13 attributes? Farther?  Be specific.  As much as you can remember about what you were thinking and feeling is helpful here.


Try to discern of the thinking and feeling that brought you closer or farther, which played a role, taiva/desire/chesed or gaiva/arrogance/anger/fear/fire?  For example, what did you hope those thoughts and feelings would do for you that would bring happiness?

Remembering that happiness comes from learning torah, praying with passion to Hashem in personal hisbodidus, and emulating His 13 attributes of mercy, and that the Source of all vitality is Hashem, and that all passion/fire is for the heart to cling to torah ,prayer and kindness, find the place of imagination within that went to trying to find happiness in the worldly matter and with white fire will say Hashem Echad and ask Hashem to please help you glue that imagination now to Torah avoda or chesed, say it out loud, asking Hashem to please help you release the tzelem elokim trapped looking for happiness in this taiva or gaiva and instead connect it to Torah, avoda, or kindness.

Now write down your insights, for what needs to be repaired, tikun.