Aug. 18, 2017 | COMFORT IN THE STORM


My wife and I got married in the “old days,” before we discovered Hashem. I had not wanted a rabbi to officiate at our wedding, but my wife’s grandfather insisted, so we searched for the most reform of the reform. This person provided us with a document that contained an echo of Torah, a piece of paper on which was written, “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li … I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.” This was his version of a marriage contact (a kesuba).


We are about to enter the Month of Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li,” (Song of Songs 6:3) is understood to refer to Elul because the first letters of each word spell out the name of the month. (Vayikra Rabbah) Of course, this corresponds perfectly with the spiritual work of Elul, which is all about reconciliation with Hashem.


“Majestic, Beautiful, Radiance of the universe, my soul pines for Your love. Please, O G-d, heal her now by showing her the pleasantness of Your radiance.” (Yedid Nefesh)


Our entire existence is based on a relationship of love with Hashem. Because of that love, our relationship with Him is eternal. We have only to come back; He is waiting for us.


Teshuva, spiritual repentance, is the most upbeat process in the world. It is completely “empowering,” because teshuva is based on the knowledge that all our ills originate from our own weaknesses, and we can fix them. When apparently bad things happen, that is a sign that we have to fix something.

 

It is within our power to correct everything. As the Prophet says, “Where is your mother’s divorce document with which I sent her away?” (Isaish 50:1) We have to know that we will succeed! We have to know that even one person can bring the Redemption. Moshe Rabbeinu brought the Geulah! Yosef Hatzaddik brought the Geulah!


My childhood was spiritual suffering, as I have often mentioned. Life without Torah was black as night and confusing as a maze. I could not breathe because of constant mental anguish. I had no idea what was wrong, which in itself was a terror. But I thank Hashem for all this, because, as a result, I knew that I needed Him. If I had not been in such pain, then I would have remained in that blackness for eternity, G-d forbid.

 

My wife and I own an apartment in Yerushalayim. Recently, we had a robbery; the entire place was ransacked. One’s first reaction is shock and anger. You feel violated. You feel helpless. You desire revenge. It’s our home! How can people be so evil?


However, you also want to say, “gam zu l’tova … it is all for the best.” (Taanis 21a) But how do you say it? What could be good about this? So I tried to think: how is this good?


I had a thought. We tend to feel that we own this world. When things go well, we want to say that it all came about through “my strength and the might of my hand….” (Deuteronomy 8:17) I have a house. It is mine. I am happy there. What more do I need? This is potentially dangerous. As we read recently, “When you beget children and grandchildren and will have been long in the Land, you will grow corrupt and anger [Hashem]….” (Deuteronomy 4:25)


Something can easily go wrong when we become comfortable. We tend to forget that this is Hashem’s world. It exists only as a result of His willing it to exist. What would happen if He changes the way the world looks? What will happen when Moshiach ben Dovid comes? Will the world look the same? Will we live the way we do now? Maybe I’m hanging onto the old world, the world of Exile, and impeding the advent of Moshiach.


Before the Children of Israel left for Mount Sinai, Biblical Egypt collapsed. In order for us to leave that world and meet Hashem, we had to sever our relationship with that powerful, enticing world of Egypt.


What will happen when Moshiach ben Dovid comes? Will the world we know today look the same? Maybe the world as we know it will collapse the way Ancient Egypt collapsed. Maybe we will have to be willing to give up our familiar world in order to enter a new world.


After the robbery, I thought: Hashem is training us for the world of Moshiach. Maybe He is telling us, “You have to know what it is like when your world is turned upside down. You have to learn that this apparent cataclysm is in fact ‘for the good.’ I am going to bring you into a world that is infinitely better than the world you think is normal today.”


I have to know that the pain and the anguish are a blessing. If I know they are a blessing, then perhaps I will be able to deal with the anguish. If we can look at the chaotic events of our times in this way, then perhaps we are going to be able to accept the future that Hashem is preparing for us, a future infinitely greater than what we have seen up to now.


It’s not easy. I’m giving a possible scenario. But because so many people are finding so much difficulty coming their way, we need to see a pathway to redemption.


“Oh, storm-tossed, unconsoled one, behold, I shall lay your floor stones upon pearls and make your foundation of sapphires…. All your children will be students of Hashem and abundant will be your children’s peace.” (This week’s Haftarah)

 

May we see that beautiful and perfect world soon in our days! 


 
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Aug. 11, 2017 | WHY DON’T WE BELIEVE IT?


Now we are in the blessed days after Tisha B’Av. They are blessed simply because we have survived. I don’t mean only “survived” the Three Weeks, but we have survived all the events of the past thousands of years of Exile. That in itself is comforting. Hashem intends that we should live! 

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Aug. 04, 2017 | WITH DAWN, A CRY OF JOY!


“Nachamu, nachamu ami …comfort, comfort, My people, says your G-d. Speak to the heart of Yerushalayim and proclaim to her that her time (of exile) has been fulfilled.” (Isaiah 40:1-2) 

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