Friday, June 29, 2012

Holy Cow!!!

These awesome words of Torah are mostly from Rabbi Wagensberg.

The seemingly paradoxical nature of the mitzvah of Parah Adumah (red heifer) makes it particularly troublesome. The ashes of the parah adumah were used to purify people who became tameh by coming into contact with a dead body, yet the Cohanim, who prepared the purifying ashes became impure in the process!

What many people don't know, though, is that the Cohen became impure for only ONE day while, with the ashes of the parah adumah, he could made MILLIONs of tameh people to be pure FOREVER.


What a lesson.

Temporary impurity can lead to millions of people becoming pure and staying pure FOREVER.

We must realize that our power to fix things is exponentially greater than our ability to destroy them. One tiny spark of light can dispel vast amounts of darkness because the powers of positive energy in this world are far more potent than the powers of negative energy!

It's never easy to be the first one to do the right move. And sometimes (more often than not - due to our friend and foe, the yetzer hara) the right move even feels like the WRONG move. But when you finally do that right move - it can influence the WHOLE world. Thousands are you. That one moment or that relatively temporary discomfort for you can lead to so, so, so many people growing because of it.

For example, it's never easy to be the first one in a less religious group to become MORE religious or observant. Say, for a example, a bunch of girls who don't dress modestly, or even those who dress somewhat modestly and then suddenly, one decides that she wants to become MORE modest. She decides: you know what? I'm going to wear longer skirts. I'm going to wear looser shirts. I'm going to wear stockings. I'm going to wear darker stockings since clear, nude colored stockings aren't modest according to most opinions that require women to cover their calves. I'm going to wear a mitpachat even though most people wear wigs.

Do her friends, her family, envrionment, etc. ALLOW her to make this decision easily?? Does she feel good RIGHT after she makes the change? Most likely NOT! Yetzer hara will make her feel guilt. Impurity. Difficulty.

Or take a guy, who decides - I'm not going to clubs anymore. I'm not going to hang out with those guys anymore. I'm not going to sleep late anymore and miss minyan. I'm not going to go to movies anymore. (The list is endless!)

Will his friends ALLOW him to make this decision easily? Does he feel good RIGHT after he makes the change? Surprise surprise most likely NOT!!! Yetzer hara will do everything in his power to make him feel impure, guilty, and not worthy.

But every single person who is doing the right thing.... NO EXCEPTIONS... will find that if he or she perserves and continue doing that mitzvah then NOT ONLY will everyone around him or her ACCEPT him but they will ALSO emulate him! Just by that one choice to improve, then in a lifetime, you can influence thousands, even millions, without even realizing!

Never give in just because it's difficult. You will receive tremendous benefit. Spiritual AND physical both in this world and in the next world. It just USUALLY WON'T BE IMMEDIATE!

Amazing, right?! The Cohen becomes "impure" by doing the right thing but helps thousands in the process. And then, of course, he becomes even more pure the next day. Why? Because he did the right thing. Yes, it wasn't easy to become impure. But it was worth it in the long run. He helped himself, by doing Avodat HaShem, as well as helping Klal Yisrael.

To finish off, I'll share a personal story with you. As I've mentioned before, I don't wear any wigs, baruch HaShem. Even though I was sure, for many years, that I wouldn't wear a wig, AND I knew exactly WHY I'm NOT wearing a wig, and I strongly believe in it, I still struggled with it. Afterall, I was used to donning my hair for 20+ years. I was used to that look, that confidence, etc. Baruch HaShem, it got easier and easier with every day.
When I started working, I was unsure how my haircoverings would be received. To be completely honest, I didn't really care or think about Granted, I worked in a Jewish environment, but
a) not everyone there covered their hair
b) almost everyone there who DID cover their hair wore wigs. And these were not women who were wearing plain wigs. They were wearing fancy, lavish, long, & styled wigs.

within a week, I was SHOCKED. At least 5 women came up to me - JUST in the first week - to ask me either...
a) how I have the koach to cover my hair so properly and beautifully
b) where I buy my scarves
c) where THEY can buy the same scarves
d) how THEY can cover their hair like mine

I was truly taken by surprise. I'm only here for one week and this is the impression I've made?

So without ANY gaavah I'm telling you - YES! Whenever a Jew is doing the RIGHT thing and KEEPING the Torah, then (s)he influences those around him or her. No doubt about it.
Yes, more often than not, it's not easy doing the right thing. Torah is not easy.
But who said it's meant to be easy? Who said anything worthwhile in this life is easy?

Anyone remember my favorite quote??
"The purpose of life is not to be comfortable. The Almighty did not put us in this world so that we can cruise through with all the comforts of life, no pain, no challenges, and then to die peacefully under a beach umbrella with a pina colada in hand. The Almighty placed us in this world to face challenges, to perfect our character and to grow spiritually. That is why life is filled with challenges. It is our choice whether to view our challenges as obstacles or stepping stones."
-Rabbi Kalman Packouz

May HaShem help us all to be on the right path and stay strong and influence others
in the process!

Now I'm off to make a banana chocolate chip cake. Hopefully it will inspire the humans around it to eat it. :D

Shabbat Shalom u'Mevorach! :)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Roads We Pave

Ever wonder why we have lines on the palm of our hands? How come animals don't have lines on their paws?

Whatever is in the physical world mirrors what's in the spiritual world. It's to teach us that our neshama also has "lines" on it.

What're these neshama lines?

These neshama lines are our all of our mitzvot (good deeds) and averot (sins). Each time someone does a mitzvah, (s)he creates a positive line on his/her neshama.
That line is called a neshama ROAD.

For example, a person who lit Shabbat candles even once, opened up a road of the mitzvah of Shabbat candles.
A person who, c"vs, does an avera, even ONCE - opens up a road of that particular avera.

Once the road is open, it's extremely difficult to erase it. You can close it by never going through that road again, but that still won't ERASE the road. Only TRUE remorse and repentenance out of love will ERASE that road forever.

That's why - when people say "what's the big deal? I'm just smoking weed ONCE." "What's the big deal? I'm just going to wear this short skirt ONCE." "What's the big deal? I'm just going to miss praying mincha this ONCE." -- not only did that person MISS the opportunity to do a mitzvah AND did an avera, but also this person opened a ROAD of that particular avera. Don't even THINK about doing the avera even once. Because your first time can become a lifetime.

Rabbi Wallerstein explains that that is the reason so many people who were once an alcoholic - are ALWAYS alcoholics and end up going back to AA so many times. They have all of these roads of alcohol and excessive drinking opened in the neshama. Only the few who work very hard at overcoming their passion and lust for drinking and truly truly regret what they did and REPENT are the ones who never go back. The second they take EVEN one drink again - that's it. They're back to be alcoholics.

Once you have so many roads open, it's very easy to get lost on your destination of life. Your destination to Olam Haba. The real world. Afterall, as Pirkei Avot and Mesillat Yesharim so beautifully informs us - this world is just a "posdor" - an enterance to the main ballroom which is Olam Haba.

Oyyyyyy how many roads of averot we all must have.

The good news is: we also have roads of mitzvot. And if we truly regret the roads of averot that we created, then we can completely erase those roads and ONLY have roads of mitzvot.

The Jewish Nation needs to WAKE UP!!!! We live in a world of ACTIONS and CONSEQUENCES. We need to take responsibility for our actions and KNOW the consequences. We are creating so many roads... so so so so many. Countless every day. There is NOWHERE that the body goes WITHOUT the neshama until our last day in this world. Our neshama experiences EVERYTHING that the body does - be it the good or the bad.

HaShem wants every single Jew act holy, because every Jew IS holy, and HaShem wants us all to be close to Him. Our Yetzer Hatov is begging us - keep your neshama ALIVE, and our Yetzer Hara is begging us, BURNING us, please destroy your neshama. Make it as dirty as possible. Open as many terrible, bumpy, dangerous roads as possible.

It's a war.

Expect, unlike a physical war between two nations -- this war requires only our decision. Do I want to be good or bad? Do I think that I'm a neshama or a body? Am I an animal or spiritual being?

The choice is OURS.

Will we let our neshama create positive, sturdy, clean paved roads of mitzvot, or will we let our neshama create negative, dark, dirty, bumpy roads of averot?

It's up to us.
May HaShem give us all Siyata D'Shamaya to successfully fight this battle and only create roads that will take us in a positive direction & closer to the Shechina!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Blast from the Past

I miss blogging. I truly do.

But I've been lazy. Super lazy.

You see, Sefardi Gal became Morah Sefardi Gal. Being a Morah truly has been rewarding and enjoyable but also tiring and frustrating. A teacher needs a lot of Siyata D'Shamaya to teach well and have enough patience for each individual student. I can't say I've been perfect at it, but it has been a good journey so far.

And alas...summer vacation has begun. Now we have a lot of packing to do :)

Bli neder, Im Yirtzeh HaShem, Be'ezrat HaShem, with G-d's help...I will start posting Divrei Torah at least once a week. HaShem knows I need the Chizzuk!

Wishing all of you a shavua tov and countless brachot!