Negotiating the paradox of soul and body – Tomer Devorah Hisbodidus Cards can help

When we believe illusions that cause us to invest our happiness in matters that relate to our survival, the level of comfort, the feelings of esteem based on status and honor, without intending to do so, we are investing in the strength of nature, in the powers of worldly reality. It is imperative to remember at all times that Hashem is the Source for absolutely everything, including giving us happiness on the level that we relate to it most.  The paradox is that to secure the level of happiness through our senses, our comprehension must be that the only happiness there is comes from serving Hashem and doing mitzvahs.   If we did not have a Torah, we would never latch onto that truth.  But we do have the Torah. Ignoring it or interpreting it otherwise aligns us in a dangerous place, the domain of the forces that Hashem sets up to shepherd us back.

The simple teshuva to turn back to Hashem is to remember that we were once in a womb where all our needs were taken care of and we were learning Torah.  As soon as we are born, we come into a lower existence and the purpose is to acquire for Hashem the animating forces of this world, bringing into them His Glory through our intentions, emotions and deeds that are rooted in Torah.

Despite all our varying personalities and uniquenesses, everyone is expected to do this.  When we feel negative emotions it is because our ego is undergoing a disunity.  No matter how upset we are, if we go into a quiet room and sit with a delicious drink, and no one is around at all to blame, it must become obvious that we are not in any immediate danger of dying if we let go of that negative feeling.  Not only won’t harm come to us, but we will receive bracha.

What is in the way is our identity. It is so painful to do this if we are identifying with anything other than our effort to reveal tzelem elokim.

Hashem is One.  He is the Soul and Value in the world.  Tzelem elokim is inseparable from Him.  We have layers over it in order to exist in this lower world.  The task is to recognize and identify tzelem elokim as our primary and eternal identity even though we don’t experience life this way.  Torah tells us.  We have the examples of the Avos and tzaddikim. It is okay for us to understand we are not on that level.  It is false to think that there is another esteem out there to be had that is deserving of honor and respect.

Thus it is up to us, no matter what bad characteristics and/or horrible circumstances Hashem has created for us in setting our free will point, to move in our thoughts to remembering that we are inseparable from Hashem.  The soul is the deepest thing in the universe and it connects all the way to the soul of Nishmas Am Yisrael which exists in the highest created world where all Jewish souls are one, where that one soul is one with Torah and with Hashem’s Name yud k vav k.  What our reality is can be affected by Hashem in one moment.  If it is good for us.


Let’s say we believe and do mitzvahs, and things are not better. What is our true preference, for the good of this world or for feeling inseparable from Hashem?

“When He is far, I am troubled. But when He is near, I am terrified. When I am absent, He is present.  But when I am present He is absent” ( unknown source)

Integrated knowledge of Hashem means that He can reside in our hearts without giving us a headache!  If He is present and we choose to be inflated in our self-referencing, He departs until we are able to subdue the animating forces from the kelipas by asking Him to please bring them into service.   Understanding that the experience of His Great Love is so far above the happiness that we are usually associated to is the beginning of grinding down the pride in our heart for doing our mitzvahs and serving Him.  The experience of His Love is the most motivating experience to humble our hearts.  Yet until we experience a taste of  His Great Love, we cling to self-referencing pleasures related to time, space, body and ego.  Without meaning to, we fund forces to shepherd us back to Him.  We don’t mean to, but by allowing happiness to be held captive by externalities, we trap the Shechina that we are sent here instead to dissolve back into the Ein Sof and draw into the elements to solidify His Glory in this world.  This is our functionality, to be the neck between earth and heaven.  Happiness will elude us and blame and shame won’t help.  Happiness was, is, and always must be  a byproduct of mitzvahs and experiencing the inseparabilitiy of our tzelem elokim with Hashem.  It is just so confusing now because of having eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – internally we mistake where happiness is rooted.


But we can pull all this back by identifying with our effort to reveal tzelem elokim, His Attributes of Mercy.  the more vibration we create each day around our effort to reveal His attributes of mercy, the less difficulty we have with the paradox of body and soul.  and the more courage we have to dip into the territory of nature to dissolve back into the Ein Sof the animating forces by virtue of our verbalizing in prayers and words of recognition that it is all from Hashem Who is Good and One.  Each word brings all our past failures from the side of darkness to the side of holiness, for that is teshuva.


May we be inspired to shift our identity to effort to reveal Hashem’s mercy, revealing tzelem elokim as discussed in Tomer Devorah:

tolerating insults

overlooking faults

bearing the burden of the confusion of mind that is the paradox since ingesting from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil

asking for forgiveness for ever thinking there is any glory other than Hashem

asking Hashem to bring the animating forces from fears of abandonment and annihilation to dissolve back into the Ein Sof and to give us in our hearts that energy to reveal His Glory in this world

Ask for our sins to be cast into the sea and ask to be part of casting all our sins into the sea, that by virtue of this teshuva we have standing to clean up these errors for klal yisrael .


Tomer Devora with Hisbodidus Suggestions for Internalizing



Emulating the avos – water, fire, wind and earth – a personal relationship with Hashem inspired by the Chariot

Adom is composed of the earth and the impure elements of earth wind water and fire are part of our natural existence. It is incumbent upon us to comprehend and use intellect to transform the impure elements of earth wind water and fire. To do so, we model the middos of our forefathers.

Because the physical world is spoken into existence by Hashem, its Soul is Hashem and He is hidden within every utterance, meaning the Shechina is the animating force of everything, including the sadness/laziness/downward pull of earth, the flowing of water unbounded, the blowing flightiness of wind, and the fears and anger of fire, which are the natural qualities of these elements in their unrectified condition.  Through the choice of mankind, who has dominion to ask Hashem to bring into these elements the Glory of Hashem,  Hashem bring s the animating forces as we experience them in nature to instead serve the purposes of our tzelem elokim, which is inseparable from Hashem’s Name and Torah.

 Avraham and Chesed – Know there is Hashem and avoid Jealousy by seeing through the falsehood of fear of abandonment

Avraham, whose midda is chesed, corresponds to the element of water, which represents Torah and  serving the One,  Hashem, utilizing our revealed strengths from the visible world to care for others. He has two sons, one who represents a kelipa of chesed and then he merits to have Yitzchok.  Jealousy is a sign we have deviated from remembering that the entire world is a chesed from Hashem and our love for our Father such that we commit to emulating Hashem’s attribute of  chesed.  Remembering Avraham’s tests shows Avraham’s tzidkus along with Hashem’s Glory, because Avraham could not have accomplished anything without Hashem. Remembering Avraham’s chesed and its basis, that Hashem is One and He is good and kind, can help us fight off the fear of abandonment that may be triggering a lack, causing  jealousy.

Chesed: the source of all vitality is Hashem. Whatever I desire, Hashem is the Source for all my needs.  I cannot be abandoned by Hashem, although the perceived realities of existing in a body might trigger fear of abandonment and jealousy.  By conforming my desires to His Will, I rectify the element within me of water, meaning that I accept I cannot be abandoned by Hashem because we are inseparable on the soul level. May my teshuva be deep and also be a merit for klal yisrael. It is incumbent upon us to expand our consciousness to this reality, because the natural reality is to experience a lowering when we are denied our desires, which triggers jealousy, which is the source of hating others. Unbounded water floods and is destructive.

 Yitzchok and Gevurah –  No Other Power and avoid destructive fires by seeing through the falsehood of fear of annihilation

Yitzchok, whose midda is gevurah, corresponds to the element of fire, which represents passion for Torah, bringing the animating force, the hidden strengths, from the concealed world – the uttered world of nature – within the boundaries of Torah. He has two twins, one who represents a kelipa of self-referencing into self-absorption and Yaakov.  Anger or fear that drive a person toward honor based on external matters is a sign we have deviated from emulating gevurah. Remembering Yitzchok, who journeyed inwardly to remove the falsehoods blinding us from Hashem’s constant protection of us,  can help us fight off the fear of annihilation.  Fear of annihilation may be triggering a lack, causing the demand for honor either by fearing annihilation in worry or by annihilating others in speech or deed.  If Hashem is not in the picture, if we choose values that are not Torah, instinctively we may be afraid of being abandoned and annihilated by those who continue to have Torah as the core value.  This unconscious rebellion that appears to us within our personality in many varying shades, puts our subconscious in conflict between what our soul knows, that all there is in the world is Hashem, and what values we are portraying at our level.  The resolution comes from understanding we are living with this paradox all our lives with the ultimate goal of refining ourselves.  Without that key perspective, our emotions drive us with fear of annihilation, either in self-destructive or abusive behaviors, in our attempts to demand esteem for our lower values. Tyranny, bullying, lietzonos as demonstrated throughout the persecution of the Jewish people, paranoia and more result from choosing a value of self-referencing over a value of Gd-consciousness. By praying to Hashem and speaking out loud to Him about the apparent strong impressions of separate existence occupying our emotions, the fire can be subdued to produce warmth and light and blessing rather than destruction and annihilation.


Gevurah: the anger, fear, and outrage that we may experience is the experience of the Shechina that naturally exists or that we trapped within our self-referencing goals, especially when we experience a fear of annihilation, either real or perceived. It is important to understand that all self-referencing, although natural and experientially close to us, is based on a belief in separate existence.Because our soul is inseparable from Hashem, it is impossible for us to be annihilated, even if we are killed. Yitzchok understood that our natural existence is sourced in Hashem and that there is an important strength to be gleaned from re-setting our understanding of who we are to being inseparable from Hashem and here to serve Him. The natural reality is to experience anger and to do destructive things. Often our reaction when we feel abandoned is to become either fearful or angry– we attack ourselves with blame to “shape ourselves up” so others won’t abandon us,  or we try to annihilate those we blame for that abandonment, which is the source for abuse and many crimes and it has a faulty basis to justify revenge, despite the logic of the emotions. When we are disciplined to understand that everything is from Hashem including our negatively charged emotions so that we can bring a certain passion from them into service of Hashem, we are remembering that there is no other power, including me. Fire is destructive and represents arrogance although it can also be a source of heat and light when properly channeled in Hashem’s service.  In personal prayer to Hashem we can beseech Hashem to bring the animating force of fire into serving Hashem’s Name and Torah.

 Yaakov and Compassion – Hashem is One and everything from Hashem is Good by seeing through the paradox in order to merge and submit animating forces from the kelipas to serving essence -tzelem elokim, Hashem’s attributes of mercy as described in Tomer Devorah,  truth and Torah

Yaakov, whose midda is compassion, corresponds to the element of wind, which represents an integrated speech where speech and action bring compassion, truth and Torah because the words and deeds express a thought from tzelem elokim revealed and animated with the forces from water and fire freed from the kelipas of self-referencing. When compassion becomes stuck in self-referencing, it manifests as self-pity – we are having compassion on ourselves for being so abandoned and annihilated in not having our heart’s desires – and is a sign we have deviated from the real compassion – being charitable to the Shechina by releasing false beliefs about how to attain happiness.  Remembering the examples of both Yaakov and Yosef can help. Yaakov became Yisroel when he bested the angel of Esav, when he brought the animating force of self-referencing that through Esav challenged his life to the task of lovingly remembering there is only One Power. By bringing the animating force of reactive anger and fear to lovingly remembering there is only One Power, Yaakov is able to give brachas to each of his sons according to their nature, infusing the elements of water, fire, wind and earth within them with Hashem’s Glory.  And Yosef overcame the lustful desire for Potiphar’s wife by remembering his father Yaakov, who is truth and Torah.

Compassion: the merciful speech and deeds we do bring together the concealed inner world of thought that we correct with the discipline of gevurah with the revealed kindnesses of speech and deed that we correct through choosing chesed. The element is wind, which can in an unrectified way create damage on its own or by stirring water up that floods. By combining water and fire, the wind can bring a delightful breeze, subduing fire and bringing a proper balance of the animating forces of water and fire.

 Dovid HaMelech and Kingship, Malchus – Receiving and Revealing Hashem’s Glory

Dovid HaMelech, whose midda is malchus, kingship, corresponds to the element of earth, which represents the physical receiving bowl for all the other middos.  Each of us struggles to bring what animates our natural inclinations that are vulnerable to the magnets of jealousy, honor and lusts back into serving Hashem through chesed, prayer and Torah.

Malchus: Earthiness can be laziness and sadness or it can be a solid vessel to carry substances within the world. All the elements, wind, water, fire and earth, contain an element of earthiness. Thus it is important to make an effort, to rise like a lion, to push against inertia, when faced with our challenges and not to succumb to depression or laziness.   Bringing into the actual earthy elements the compassion takes real work and effort, through free willed choice.


Each time we have a challenge, if we break it down into its elements of water, fire, wind and earth, it may help us draw out the impurities and permit our higher soul to heal those elements as they exist within our free will points. It may seem like we are working on ourselves in this way our whole lives. That is actually true. However, each time we do, we bring a little more light to those elements in general, uplifting them, filling them with Hashem’s Glory, and in time, if we continue to have in mind to reveal within us Hashem’s Glory, the elements within us are affected and once that happens, there is also a merit for the soul of klal yisrael. We are all one soul when each of us approaches this work, we are able to add to the revelation of His Glory in this world.


May the light we shine soon bring a new light and redemption b’ahava.

Hating hatred brings us closer to receiving a free gift of love from Hashem’s highest world

Ultimately it is the self-referencing within us that provides our natural motivations – we scan to see what is good in our eyes, what is consistent with our goals, if it is in line with benefit and perceived good for us.   What could be more natural? Our executive functioning is able to organize steps in order to proceed in securing our dependency needs and ego-based desires and goals. It could even be said that we reach our spiritual goals to a certain degree in this manner. Yet at some point, we come to challenge where we have to choose between the spiritual attainments and our life pattern that may not yet have pierced through to a higher understanding of esteem and identity.


Imagine receiving a gift of kavana and excellent davening. It is a connection truly to Hashem, something above us. As we end our davening, we may feel proud of ourselves, complimenting ourselves. What is the matter with that, if anything?


Ultimately that pride in ourselves needs to be ground down so that its components are properly understood. There is no glory other than Hashem. What that means is that even the proud feeling we have, even that pleasure, is because Hashem permits Himself to remain trapped in the illusion we have that we have some kind of independent separate existence. While it serves a useful purpose in keeping us motivated, eventually, if we truly wish to draw close to truth and to the highest pleasure we can experience, our hearts need to submit to the truth that while we experience pleasure, it is completely and only because there is nothing but the Glory of Hashem in all the world and that moment of pride is a fall from our davening, not a greater pleasure as it seems because it is a nearer and more familiar and available prideful pleasure. This takes grinding at defining ourselves from a place that is natural, our ego, to a place that is transcendant, our tzelem elokim, which is inseparable from Hashem.


To begin a journey toward internalizing this and grinding our egos down means we see an infinite path of growth above the plane of time and space, a broader playing field where we can strive toward holiness. The journey is one of bitul, of nullification of the sense of ego and self-referencing for the purpose of becoming vessels to reveal Hashem.


In davening we say Hashem of Avraham, Hashem of Yitzchok and Hashem of Yaakov. Rabbi Tatz explains that through the tests of our forefathers, because they rose to levels of holiness, their lives revealed Hashem’s Hand. Thus they are called in conjunction with Hashem’s Name. This was Dovid’s question to Hashem, why is it not the Hashem of Dovid too? He is also on the Chariot. Hashem told Dovid it is because he was not tested and Dovid asked for the test and immediately had the test of Batsheva and failed. That wanting to be referred to in conjunction with Hashem’s Name represented a drop of ego, of self-referencing, that on Dovid’s level was harmful. If we reflect back to Adom, he too had a sense of self-referencing, in his desire to reveal Hashem’s Glory, that led to ingesting from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from which confusion we suffer today. To truly attain the level of malchus, a level reached by Moshe Rebbeinu on the highest level, these examples are taken into our hearts.


It is up to us to comprehend these stories because the set of generations before Moshiach must bring us out of arrogance and the shaar nun to which it is said we will fall, if we have not already. Thus grinding down even our powerful feelings of pride is something to comprehend as a goal – NO PRESSURE!!! Even bringing this idea to mind is something that will begin to orient us toward the task. May Hashem help us achieve even a small fraction toward this end!! And may the light we create bring a new light speedily.

Hating hatred takes place on a playing field of expanded consciousness

The playing field for hating hatred is overseen by Hashem Who calls foul every goal other than those reached by the nefesh Elokus, the tzelem elokim alone, to serve Him, Every goal becomes one where the tzelem elokim succeeds in prevailing over the nefesh behama, the natural soul. It is a constant struggle. In one second, the natural soul can flip into action. We need good awareness of our entire being, our natural inclinations, our ego, an understanding of how the yetzer hara can dominate through our subconscious, Torah, commitment and kavana for avoda in tefillos and mitzvahs and acts of kindness. What will change our hearts? How will we grow to find happiness from serving Torah when our happiness appears to be tied far more closely to comfort, safety, and enjoyment of health and living?


Most important is to realize that finding happiness in serving Hashem is the best investment of our trust and energy. We along with everyone and everything we enjoy and love comes from One Source. Only Hashem. There is no other Source. It is incredible to contemplate how many layers of the world there are and yet what we are experiencing here on the ground floor, with all its wonder and appearance of separate existence, is something that by our choosing to serve Hashem we infuse and solidify, filling it with His Glory. Hashem thinks up the world and speaks it into existence and through our following Torah, our choices permit the flow needed for His Glory to be visible. How? When we rise above our challenges, and others see it, we are showing people His Hand. Should we succumb to the natural, the cynical, the hateful, the doubting and behave from there, we cover up Hashem’s ability to be seen and cause damage, chas v’shalom.


Hating hatred means we accept a playing field where joy and happiness are due to the tzelem elokim prevailing in our choices and being revealed in our actions and speech and deeds. The love of Hashem and awe of Hashem that helps us to accept that playing field soon begins to flow through our hearts more naturally, because we become aware of the greater quality and availability and control we have over that pleasure.


May the light we shine help us to reveal Hashem’s Glory and may we be zocheh to redemption b’ahava.

Parshas Balak – Understanding the work for the set of generations before Moshiach

Parshas Balak speaks about the end of days. Rabbi Moshe Wolfson explains in detail that Yehuda, the forefather of Dovid Hamelech and Moshiach, fell to a low level. He had a yerida with the story of Tamar. So too, the same language refers to Rus, who is told to go down, to have a yerida, to sit by Boaz, an apparent yerida in tznius. Yet Rus and Tamar are both considered tznua. The purpose of going down, falling, is to rise up. Yehuda has the courage to lift himself up.


Balak ben tzipur is king of Moab. He foresaw that his descendant Rus would be the source of Moshiach and he could not bear it so he hires Bilaam to curse the Jews. Balak is a kelipa over the soul of Moshiach and although he tries to conceal and imprison his seed from appearing by offering seven korbonos, those korbonos are the reason he comes to merit being in the lineage of Dovid HaMelech and Moshiach along with Yehuda.


Rus married Boaz on the 17th of Tammuz. Moshiach is destined to appear during the three weeks between 17th of tammuz and 9 Av, which three weeks until then are the kelipa in time that conceals Moshiach. Yet once we break that kelipa in time, those three weeks will become the most joyous of the entire year.


We are in or headed for shaar nun – the lowest place, even lower than the generation of the Flood because of pritzus, sinas chinum and more, says Rav Wolfson. We need to be courageous like Yehuda, roar like a lion to break out of the kelipas that keep Moshiach imprisoned. It is only with that courage to break out that it can happen. It is the role of this last set of generations to comprehend deeply our essence and our kelipas and to choose to reveal tzelem elokim.


It takes courage but it is only that mesiras nefesh, that sacrifice, that provides the ingredients Hashem desires before revealing Moshiach. He wants our hearts. It is up to us to have the courage to break out of our egos in favor of tzelem elokim. It may feel like death itself to do so, but if we sit quietly in a room, with a coffee on a couch, we soon realize that we are perfectly safe in giving up our hatreds. In fact, we will receive shefa and bracha for piercing the illusion that cynicism and ego-based goals have blinded us with.


Our essence is tzelem elokim. Our ego is our korbon, awaiting to be rectified into a transparency to reveal tzelem elokim. The energy we expend to do so requires courage based on loving and fearing Hashem and longing for Moshiach. That energy we transfer from the kelipas to dissolve back into the Ein Sof is the ingredient that brings about the revelation of Moshiach.


The time of the three weeks is approaching. Rav Moshe Wolfson suggests as follows:


Balak said to Hashem let me keep 17 tammuz let me keep rus imprisoned.  So he gave korbonos instead.  Balak will give the korbonos. To his dismay they brought Moshiach, in the zechus of his korbonos Rus should come out of him.


There are big treasures in this day, we have to crack open the kelipa.  Not like those who don’t let Moshiach appear.  The day of 17 tammuz, every yid should know why did Hashem place me in this generation, like the years in which we find ourselves, it is Yimai yesarim, suffering, the end of history. We are in bais moav, the last leg of the journey.  We are commissioned to take an ax and break open the kelipa of the zman of moav and let moshaich appear, emerge from there.


We do it with torah, tefilla, good middos, good deeds, stop sinas chinam, stop sinas yisrael. Strive for ahavas yisrael, help each other, reach out to others like the neshama aof Dovid who fell down to give rise to those who cant rise with their own energy. Strive to concentrate with all our kochos, with tefilla dn good middos and to reach out and try to do all the inyanim that break the kelipa of moav on the time of moav 17 tammuza nd tmoshaich should come and we should be zocheh


Summary of Rabbi Reisman’s Divrei Tza’ar V’Aveilus and more

Re-Published from Hakhel for 4 Tammuz 5774


For those saying Tehillim, studying Mishnayos, giving Tzedaka, and/or performing a personal act of Teshuvah, below are the names of the bachurim H’YD, including their father’s names.


Yaakov Naftali ben Avraham

Gilad Michael ben Ofir

Eyal ben Uriel


For those who were not able to hear the moving Divrei Tza’ar V’Aveilus of Rav Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, on Monday evening, we provide just several basic points that he made:


1. The Torah describes the procedure for what was to be done when a person was found deceased in the field between two cities. The Sanhedrin had to come out and say: “Yadeinu Lo Shafechu Ed Hadam Hazeh.” Why would they have to do that? Who would ever suspect them? The answer, of course, is that the possibility existed that they had done something wrong which could have been a cause which ultimately led to the murder. In the situation we are in, every person should feel that he too has to do something.


2. Chazal teach that Lashon Hara can kill the one who speaks it, the one who accepts it, and the one spoken about. Over the past year some may have engaged in what they may have felt was acceptable speech or ‘shmoozing’ about different kinds of Machlokes and rife in Eretz Yisrael. It is especially not within the purview of those living in Chutz La’aretz to do so.If you hear two people speaking about something negative that is going on in Eretz Yisrael–say to them: “Say something bad about Iran or the Arabs–not about Eretz Yisrael or its inhabitants.”


3. Always remember–what you say and what you do matters!


4. We have to remember that we are one Mishpacha, and that we need to protect each other against the Bnei Eisav of all shapes and sizes all over the world.


5. We cannot replace lives, but something must result from what has happened. We must do more than be mechazeik ourselves–every person should feel a level of personal association and responsiveness.


Hakhel Note: Among the Tehillim recited after the Kinus were Chapter 16, 79 and 83, which are eerily related to the tragic events which have just transpired.


Rabbi Reisman’s entire message (approximately 30 minutes) can be heard by calling the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s Chazak Line (718-258-2008, followed by 5 and 4).



THE THIRTEEN ANI MA’AMINS: We are living in such a turbulent period, a time in which our Emunah Peshutah is certainly being tested. We must demonstrate our spiritual strength and resilience. Perhaps one way that we can do this and help ourselves is to recite the Thirteen Ani Ma’amins after Shacharis a little slower and perhaps with more Kavannah.



A READER’S ENLIGHTENING THOUGHT: “The word “Mishpacha” family, spelled -mem, shin, pay, ches, hey and the world “Simcha”, happiness, spelled -sin, mem, ches, hey, are different only in that the word “Mishpacha” has the letter Pay  (spelled pay-hey).  Namely, it is how we use pay-hey, our mouth, that will determine if our family is happy or not!”



THE CORRECT BRACHOS:  ThePaskesz Honey Nut Clusters cereal box lists two Brachos Rishonos on its side panel, which, according to the OU, are not correct. If one consumes the clusters as a regular cereal, according to the OU, the bracha combination on this cereal is Borei Minei Mezonos and Borei Nefashos.




Special Note One:  In last week’s Perek (4:1), the Mishna teaches “Who is a Gibor?  One who quashes his Yetzer Hara.”  Rashi to Sanhedrin (111B) provides a great insight as to the higher form of Gibor one should strive for.  Although one can simply deflect the Yetzer Hara–much like one distracts a baby in order to get him to stop crying, one can also channel the Yetzer Hara’s seemingly patented drive and desire to sin into zerizus and hiddur in the performance of a mitzvah–just as the baby may be led to stop crying not by a petty distraction but by giving it a challenging, new or more interesting or learning experience.  With this approach, the legs which are running to do an aveira– rather than simply stopping in their tracks– instead run to do a chesed or to get to Shul early; the tongue ready to speak sharp or biting words instead recall a d’var torah from the previous week’s Parasha or speak gentle and calming words; the mind pondering something waste-filled or evil instead contemplates redting a Shidduch or figuring out how one can best help a neighbor or friend in need with a thoughtful measure of dignity and respect.  In all of these circumstances, the vanquished Yetzer Hara is not merely put into prison to rot–but instead is used to build the very fort and castle of the Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim so necessary for one to realize his potential.  It’s great to beat the Yetzer Hara–it’s even greater if you take his assault and turn his plans into a part of your offensive and success!  If you are already ready to be a Gibor–why not try taking it to the higher level suggested by Rashi — not only subverting the sin– but converting it into your Neshama’s delight!


Hakhel Note:  Chazal taught us as well in last week’s Perek (4:21) that one hour of Teshuva and Ma’asim Tovim in this world is ‘yofeh’–better than all of Olam Haba.  Let us contemplate the awesome nature of this statement.  One hour of good deeds in this world is greater than the goodness of a World to Come that is so great that our corporal being cannot even fathom or imagine.  The Mishna does not qualify its reference as to an hour of good deeds by clarifying that it is referring to one hour of Rashi or the Ramban’s life, or the good deeds of Rebbi Akiva Eiger, the Vilna Gaon or the Chofetz Chaim.  Rather, it clearly refers to any one’s hour and any one’s good deeds.  Here, one is on common ground with the Gedolim of all previous generations and of his generation–he has the same potential to make the next hour shine more brilliantly than, using the Tanna’s words, ‘all of Olam Haba’.  We should each try to find at least one hour a day which we consciously choose to make more ‘yofeh’ –better than all of Olam Haba.  The greatness resounds within us –as we hoist up and elevate an Olam Hazeh that is sinking so low to all the world all around us to a very, very special place in the Highest of Heavens above.  When someone asks you– “Do you have the time?  You can answer–”I have even more than that–I have the hour!”



Special Note Two: We provide several pesakim from the Sefer Da’as Noteh (Volume 1), of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as published by his son Rav Yitzchok Shaul Kanievsky, Shlita.  Every person should consult with his own Rav or Posek as to the application of these Halachos on a personal basis:


  1.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 90, seif katan 8) writes that if one finds that his Kavannah is faltering, he should raise his eyes to Shomayim (through the windows in Shul or at home) to arouse one’s Kavannah. May one also study an Adam Gadol (such as a Rav) while he is Davening, in order to arouse one’s Kavannah.  A.  This appears to be appropriate.


  1. What is the difference between the word ‘Elokeinu’ and ‘Elokim’?  A:  The Kavannah one should have when reciting ‘Elokim’ is explicitly stated in (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim Chapter 5).  When reciting ‘Elokeinu’ one should additionally have in mind that that we have accepted His kingship (Malchus) over us.  Similarly, when one recites “Elokai’ he should have in mind that he is accepting Hashem’s Malchus over himself.  Reciting “Hashem Elokeinu” in the first Pasuk of Kriyas Shema is Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim.  When we recite the words “Elokai Avraham, Elokai Yitzchak” (such as in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei) we likewise should have in mind that they accepted Hashem’s Malchus as well


  1. Can one make a personal request two times in Shemone Esrei–for instance once in Shomea Tefillah and once in Elokai Netzor?  A:  It is not proper to do so, for one would not ask something of the King, and then go back and ask it again later in the same audience, however, within one bakasha, one can engage in continuous entreaty, just as Eliyahu HaNavi exclaimed “Aneini Hashem Aneini”.


  1. When reciting the word ‘Modim’ in Shemone Esrei what Kavannah should he have?  A:  The word ‘Modim’ indicates HaKaras Hatov, and this is the Kavannah one should have.


  1. When one recites Tehillim should he have in mind as if he is ,making personal requests, or that these are the words of Dovid HaMelech?  If a Tzibur is reciting Tehillim, is it better to recite with them Pasuk by Pasuk, or to recite another Pasuk on your own?  A:  He should have both his personal; requests, and that these are the words of the Mechabrei Tehillim in mind.  There is a special Ma’aleh when a Tzibbur recites a Pasuk together.


Hakhel MIS


Amnesty for Achdus – Something we can do to hate hatred and repair sinas chinam


If there is someone Jewish in our lives who we feel negatively towards for any reason, valid or invalid, consider amnesty for achdus.


Without our realizing it, when we hold negative feelings toward someone, what we are really doing is holding that person responsible for our lack of happiness. According to Torah, it is fundamentally impossible for any person to be responsible for our lack of happiness. There is only one Source, Hashem, for absolutely everything. Even if we do not understand how it could possibly be that our unhappiness is not truly being caused by another Jew, we can all find a way to see that everything is from Hashem Who suffers with us.


What we are asking is that as an act of compassion on Hashem Who is willing to suffer with us in our bitter feelings, please free the energy tied up there and with free willed choice, re-dedicate it towards a mitzvah of the Torah, something that serves Hashem that you can do each time that bitterness tries to surface. Why? Happiness comes from serving Hashem. Bitterness is a rumble strip reminding us that our soul seeking happiness has become captive by worldly affairs. If we consciously have in mind to do a mitzvah with that energy each time it surfaces, slowly we will see a real change in our happiness. By glueing ourselves to Hashem and to Torah, especially over natural negative urges, we build real achdus and give Hashem back Klal Yisrael.


Amnesty for Achdus:


  1. Have in mind a bitter feeling towards a Jew, currently or from your past
  2. Cry out to Hashem that we are sorry to have kept the Shechina trapped in that bitterness and wish instead now to re-direct that energy to a mitzvah of the Torah
  3. Ask Hashem to please help us re-direct the energy with love in our heart for Hashem being so patient with us in our confusion of mind, mistaking happiness as something that could ever come from anyone other than Hashem, and awe of Hashem that He has been willing to submit Himself for so long just to give us this opportunity to choose to realize that all there is in the world is Hashem
  4. Ask Hashem to please heal our unconscious and subconscious ( inner elements of water, fire, wind and earth) with our effort to emulate His attribute of bearing the burden of the confusion of mind we all suffer from, and ask that we draw deeply into our unconscious mind love and awe of Hashem to replace the falsehoods which feel like our very lives themselves but that are only garments we now wish to remove so that tzelem elokim can shine.

Baseless Hatred is hatred based on nothingness – we can redirect our energies in pursuits that actually bring happiness

The Second Temple was destroyed because of sinas chinum, baseless hatred.  Chazal tell us that in any generation that the Temple is not rebuilt, it is as if we destroy it with our baseless hatred.
The pursuit of solutions to incredibly challenging politics is frustrating – it is from Hashem.  Why are we faced with messages that our very existence in Israel is the source of pain?  When Avraham was told that he and Sara would have a child, Avraham said to Hashem that according to his abilities to read the stars, it did not seem possible.  Hashem told Avraham that He is the Source and the angels, who administer nations, were overruled.  Since the beginning of time, the Jewish people exist in a natural world that challenges our existence, our right to exist.  We continue to be here because Hashem is the Source. Not for any other reason. He Alone provides for our protection and continuation.  Despite all the tragedies and human history, the Jewish people are still here, Baruch Hashem.  We are very crusted over with stronger and stronger membranes of self-protective “homeland security” defense systems.  But the Torah is preserved in its original form, as given at Har Sinai. Somehow, we have managed to pass on the mesorah from one generation to the next, keeping Torah intact.  Torah is the absolute only way for us to transcend the apparent realities of the tests and trials of this world.  And understanding a basic principle of Torah, which is that Hashem is the Source of all, He is One, and connection to Torah and to emulating Hashem is the work we do in order to experience happiness is the truth that we need to submit to today.
The goal is to end baseless hatred. We only hate because we can’t latch onto happiness in serving Hashem, so that inner yearning for happiness gets captivated by our imagination that whispers to us false culprits to blame for our dissatisfactions and we hate them.  Surely we can see that even Torah permitted leniencies in dealing with those who trigger our tests are not the ikar of the Torah in what Hashem wants from us.  The Source for all vitality is Hashem.  Hashem wants our imagination and hearts to serve Him, not our egos, not our systems, but His Will according to our role of Nishmas Am Yisrael.
When we recognize that it is He Who is withholding something from us and that it is for our good so that our souls can once again feel happiness, real happiness, we do teshuva and internally realign our desires with His Will. Then, we can turn the fire of our anger, our fear, our outrage, and hate our hatred and burn out that lower level, have compassion on Hashem for being stuck for all these thousands of years waiting patiently for us to seek to discover the happiness in serving Him.  In the moment of clarity that follows, we can ask Hashem to please accept our teshuva as a merit for klal yisrael and to please send us brachas and protection and redemption.  The words we speak bring the seed of rachamim that is our essence through the physical being of our mouths that exist because Hashem utters the world into existence and with the love of Hashem in our heart and the awe of Hashem in our understanding that our existence is on many planes, a spiritual entity is formed that leads us in the path we desire to go.
May the tragedy of the loss of these young men help all of us hate hatred and discover the root of happiness. May each time we triumph the struggle of who to serve with serving Hashem be a merit and a source of happiness that we begin to experience not only in our soul but in our existence in time and space as well.  And may the light we are able to bring through our speech and deeds lead to a new light.

Anger. Pain. Tears. Outrage. Tremendous suffering – What can I do in this moment?

There are no words in time and space to offer for the devastating discovery of the bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel. Their murders and those who rejoice view their deaths with political purpose and their lives as nothing more than rats to be exterminated. Because of the politics, because of painful emotions, the divine dignity of these three young men was stripped away and their kidnappers annihilated them.

What truth can possibly comfort us?

A primary truth that might approach comforting us is to know that our perception of this tragedy as an evil crime is reality. There is no way at all that these three young men, nor their families, nor the existence of the state of Israel, caused the pain of those who wish Israel would not exist. The basis of monotheism is that there is only One cause, and that is Hashem. Through the history of the entire existence of the Medina and the Jewish People, with all our sufferings, the Holocaust, the pogroms, the expulsions and more, is only One Source. From our perspective in time and space, without Torah to guide us, we truly would be in the dark, at the whim of our negatively charged emotions, falling into the grip of bad choices when we feel disempowered or experience loss – falling under the dominion of human nature with no other recourse to search for another way to understand, a higher understanding that can bring holiness and light. Hashem gave us the Torah and revealed Himself at Har Sinai. There is nothing in the world but the Glory of Hashem, the Soul of the World Whose Thought and Utterances create our reality. Everyone, Jew and non-Jew, is responsible to conduct ourselves in accordance with His Will as given in Torah or the Noahide laws. Hashem set the entire course of events from the beginning of time into motion and we are accountable for our choices when presented with circumstances designed to reveal our allegiance to Him, our commitment to serve Him with love and awe, naase v’nisma.

Another primary truth that may comfort us is to know that these deaths are also from Hashem. There is no answer to our question of why that we like to heal us in time and space. Asking why does not help us. There is nothing that will restore the past and bring back these young men. That tragedy is eternal. Those who committed it will hopefully be brought to justice. There is nothing that will fill the hole left by the terrible demise of these young men. The fabric of life, the families, the whole country, the Jewish people, grieve.

Anger. Pain. Tears. Outrage. Tremendous suffering.

What we can ask ourselves is what does Hashem want from me in this moment, the same question that is the basis of our service in every moment of our lives. What does Hashem want from me THIS moment upon hearing this bitter news?



With us in this suffering is the Shechina. In all the world there is nothing but Hashem, and He is involved in every tear, every heartache, every cry. Hashem is thinking of us and uttering every detail into existence and is the place in which the drama of our lives and this tragedy and all of history takes place. He is here. Suffering. Patiently. Yearning for us to identify within us a way for Him to help us. He loves us. He gives us free will. We are His Children. His Chosen People. Nishmas Am Yisrael. But He creates the world and gives the choice to have awe of Hashem or not into free willed choice.


Hashem is so big He can create a reality with so many levels above what we experience in time and space. He sent us into this world to have a relationship with us. Our happiness, real happiness, is built into the soul when we make effort to serve Hashem. There is no other real happiness, although sometimes our happiness appears to come from this world. In every moment, we thank Hashem, for the air, for the food, for the good health. He is the Source. But He is not a vending machine. We are here to serve Hashem according to Torah, His Thought and Will. When we involve ourselves with His Thoughts, we rise above our thoughts. When we generate emotions and speech and deeds based on Torah and emulating Hashem, we bring His Torah through the vessel of the body He gives us in time and space and utter words that soar with love and awe up to the heavenly realms, an echo of His Will that gives Him Nachas.


Until we understand that doing so is the source of happiness, we are trapped in blame and shame, in a molecule of desire for happiness that causes discontent with those we perceive as withholding it from us. Inherently that strips away everyone’s divine dignity and if we are not careful we succumb to believing that our only resource is to destroy those we believe are responsible without remembering to turn to Hashem, the primary Cause. We can bring them to justice. To destroy what is responsible WE have to destroy within us false hopes for our happiness and bring back to truth the proper locale of our happiness, which is service of Hashem. Perhaps if we seek to have the relationship with Hashem where we are able to experience happiness in His service there would be no need for Him to inflict bitterness upon us designed to shepherd us back toward the fulfillment of our role as Nishmas Am Yisrael in our service to Him by following Torah and having sincere relationship with Him. Perhaps we might think of activities that we can do today to reveal tzelem elokim and help us rise to a level above time and space to an infinite path of holiness. And may our efforts to do so return to Hashem His first born child, Nishmas Am Yisrael, and may He speedily send a new light into the world.