Sunday, September 25, 2011

We Are Wet Clay!! Yay!

A Dvar Torah from ATorahMinute that I read & really liked. Enjoy!

G-d commanded the prophet Yirmiyahu (Yirmiyahu 18:1-4) to go to a potter's house, where he observed the potter working with wet clay. Yirmiyahu reported that when the potter did not like the vessel which he created, for whatever reason, he was able to form another one from that same vessel -- one which pleased him.

The Ben Ish Chai z"l explains that there is a difference between a vessel made of clay, which was burnt in the kiln and one which was not burnt. While the first one, once broken cannot be repaired or fixed, the second one can be reconstructed to perfection even if it were broken into many pieces. A person who sins, is likened to the second one - the wet clay which can be reformed. Even if he performs the worst possible transgressions, once he regrets whole heartedly and repents, he will shine like dawn and blossom like a rose. Our merciful Father in Heaven, unlike a king made of flesh and blood, desires our Teshuva (repentance) and pleads with us to change, in spite of our sins and transgressions.

Teshuva is like a wide ocean, open to anyone at any given time. Chazal teach us that the gates of teshuva are forever open. However, during the time between the first of Elul and Yom Kippur G-d is even closer to us. We should not miss out on this special time and extraordinary gift that G-d has granted us. We must take advantage of it and draw ourselves closer to Him.

Let us set aside a few moments for self examination and introspection. What area would you choose to work on and improve? Perhaps smile more often or call a friend whose feelings you might have hurt. Make an effort to greet Shabbath in a timely fashion or learn to forgive and forget. The list is endless, the opportunity is waiting for us.

We have the power, just like the potter, to recreate a most exquisite piece of pottery. This piece of pottery is our own selves. We should refashion it till we have transformed it into an outstanding Jewish people!

I wish all of readers and Klal Yisrael a healthy, happy, and safe new year (5772). May we all be written in the book of life, and may we all grow closer to HaShem Yitbarach with each and every day of our lives. May we receive redemption on both personal and national levels. For all those who need a refua shlemah - may you be fully healthy this year! For all who need parnassah - may you have the amount of money that you need and are able to use for positive beneficial purposes! For all who need children - may you have healthy, holy, happy children who will always be in on the right derech. For all the singles who want to find their zivugim - may you date, get engaged, and get married to your best possible zivug. May we all be zoche to see Mashiach and Yerushalayim rebuilt in our times speedily in a peaceful way! Shana tova u'metukah! :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

How can I be happy??

IVDU ET HASHEM B'SIMCHAAAAAA. Why is that so important?

Rabbi Jonathan Rietti explains:

In Parashat Bechukotai, 98 curses are mentioned.
there's a commandment of serving HaShem b'simcha (well, rather, it's a consequence if one doesn't serve HaShem b'simcha.) Basically, curses can come upon a person for not being jubilent! That means that if one fulfills a mitzvah, fully with all the little details and knows all of the halachot and sources and everythinggggg...but he doesn't fulfill that mitzvah with JOY - then his mitzvah is LACKING.

Happiness is a choice. The Arizal said that the word "b'simcha" has the same letters as "machshava"-- happiness is NOT what happens to me. Happiness is an attitude; happiness is in my thoughts...I CHOOSE whether be happy. Happiness is not dependent my health; my wealth; my bashert...all of that can help me be happIER, but those attributes don't define my happiness. My happiness is not reliant on what happens to me.

How does a person fill his mind with happy thoughts? By recognizing the GOOD in life. Think of your mind like a house or room -- which painting will you hang up? A dark one? A pretty one? One that is filled w/ images of Torah & mitzvot?

There is definitely good in life; G-d said the world is tov MEOD...not just good, but VERY good. When a person is happy because he is focusing on the good in life, he is not denial of what is horrible in life. Rather, by focusing on the good and loving life, he is living in reality and able to deal with tragedies. Focusing just on the negative is NOT living in reality.

I recently heard a wonderful shiur about how true joy is being connected to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. So, when Chazal tell us t

We recently experienced the period of ben hametzarim (the 3 weeks of mourning). Chazal teach us that the Divine Presence doesn't dwell on one who is depressed or unhappy. Even during those times of mourning, one must be joyful! He always must be happy, but especially when learning Torah, fulfilling mitzvot, etc.

This is especially something to keep in mind and practice during Elul. Yes, we should be reflecting on our deeds and doing teshuva, but ideally -- it should be done out of love and simcha. Chazal tell us that the happiest days are Yom Kippur and Tu b'Av.
That's part of the reason why sefardim have such upbeat, happy tunes to their selichot - because we're happy to be doing teshuva and be forgiven!

If we do our mission in the world with sincere simcha, our mitzvot will be fulfilled COMPLETELY, and b"H we will be zoche to Mashiach Tzidkenu and the Beit HaMikdash B'mehera B'yameinu.