Weekly Words of Wisdom-Vayelech

The Five books of the Torah cover a vast amount of time from the dawn of creation till Moshe’s passing in 2488. And yet a sizable portion of Devarim, the fifth book, deals exclusively with Moshe’s final day. There must be an enormous lesson for all of us for Hashem to designate such a lengthy section of the Torah, to a singular event.

 

There is an old Jewish joke:  What do you say to a man on his 120th birthday? Have a good day!  Due to the fact that the Torah dictated that starting from Moshe and moving onward until the days of Moshiach no man may live past 120 years, there seems to be no better greeting.  But what do you say to a man who will die that very day, and more importantly what do you say if you’re the birthday boy or girl.

 

Imagine being Moshe standing on the day of your one hundred and twentieth birthday knowing it will be your last. Looking out at the millions of people- whose parents you took out of slavery, who you have watched grow, cared for, nurtured and taught. The people who you argued with G-d for, and the people you brought the Torah to, and the people you had hoped to lead into the Promised  Land. Imagine what Moshe felt as he looked out at his people knowing this would be his last time seeing them and his last day as their leader and knowing Yehoshua would lead them into Israel and not him. How would you feel?  What would you say?  What would you do?

 

There has long been a phenomenon in our culture with a person’s last day, their last words and their last acts, even last meals. Numerous movies and books display the power of a person’s last moments giving weight to their act or words. A person could earn love or redemption, honor or fame. They could go out in a blaze of glory or speak their mind when it counts. They could be defiant to the end or shame themselves in those final seconds, but those final seconds are always crucial.

 

In Music, the concept is even more widespread. Motley Crue sings of saying everything you wanted to say before it’s too late. Nickelback asks would you give all you have to Charity, reconnect with friends, forgive enemies or find true love. Tim McGraw sings about skydiving, bull riding, connecting to G-d and becoming a better person, husband and friend. Many other sing of self-pity and of the freedom of your last day with no repercussions and consequences breaking any law or rule with no fear of tomorrow.

 

So what did Moshe do? The Torah says “And Moses went and spoke these words to all of Israel.  And he said to them: ‘I am a hundred and twenty years old this day”, knowing it was his last.  Moshe didn’t spend his day reminiscing or praying, and he didn’t spend it enjoying or destroying.  Moshe went.  Moshe moved forward and accomplished.  Moshe spoke to the people he loved and prepared them for his death. He appointed Yehoshua to lead them in his absence and reminded them of G-d’s law and the path to a good and righteous life. He looked out over the land of Israel and the people of Israel and reminded them of the eternal covenant they had made with G-d. On the last day of his life, Moshe taught and he inspired.  In short, he lived.

 

There have been numerous cases over the last few years of cowardly evil men killing themselves and others in G-d’s name. It is easy to kill for G-d and it is even easy to die for G-d.   Moshe reminds us of a far more difficult path.  Moshe tells us to live for G-d. Moshe spent his last day the same way he spent all of his days.  In devotion to Hashem and to His people, insuring our continued survival both physically and spiritually. Moshe taught us a lesson applicable every day of our lives for we never know which day will be our last. Moshe taught us to connect both to G-d and our fellow man, to strive to further ourselves and our mission in life and to always move forward. What should a man do on his 120th Birthday? Have a Good Day.

 

May we very soon see the day when death no longer limits any of us and we can hear Torah from Moshe again with the coming of Moshiach. Amen

Rosh Hashonah 5773

Another year is ending. We are all a year older and hopefully a year smarter. And while the 5772 ends two new years start, 5773 and a new season of television.

There are 4 key things that make a television show into a success. First there is a writer. The writer’s job is to a create and grow the character. As the season progress’s so does the character. He makes new friends and grows out of old ones. He learns froms the things that happen to him and evolve as he adapts to each new situation. If the character doesn’t evolve, then the show will be a failure. The writers job is to constantly work on improving the character and allowing the show to reach its fullest potential.

Then there is the actor. While the writers job is important, the actor is the one that has to utilizes all his skills and talent to bring all the writers well intended scripts to life. Every good actor knows that to stay on the top of his game he must practice and hone his skills, always getting better. There are two main ways to improve. The first is to throw yourself into the work 100%, and the other is to learn from veteran actors. The two best ways to learn from experienced actors it to choose a great actor and become an understudy, so you can see first hand how to deal with all kinds of situations. The second way is to watch films of the greats who you are not able to watch personally. You can then adapt all that you learn from these two sources into who you are, and grow as an actor, always trying to improve and to keep to the writers script as closely as possible.

A third important person is the editor. The editor watches the show and suggests ways to improve. Perhaps he removes some of the actors lines which don’t belong or some background he deems not fitting. Sometimes he simply cuts one activity short and he can even remove entire scenes that he thinks are inappropriate for the show.

But even with the good ideas of the writer and the commitment of the actor and the editing on the negative by the editor – there still remains another key ingredient for success. The DIRECTOR. The Director demands that each of the parts work together so that there the script is packed with goodness, the negatives are all edited out and the actor is totally committed to doing his very best. The Director is the one that puts all the pieces together and makes it all happen in the best way possible.

As we approach a new year it is important to remember that we are the directors of our lives. Its is our jobs to demand that we change for the better by filling our year with goodness, editing out any negatives, committing to giving the upcoming year our very best effort. It is our jobs to make these thoughts become actions to and to constantly improve by learning from the experienced ones around us and those we can only view on film, and it is our job to remove any unpleasant or negative things that might ruin our otherwise promising season. We are the only ones that could shape our next year because only we, the director, has true control.

I wish all of you a Kesiva c v’chasima tova and pray we are all very soon joined together with all of our loved ones in Yerushlayim with Moshiach.

A new season is starting……. ACTION!!!!

Weekly Words of Wisdom-Ki Savo

Between last weeks and this week Parshahs there are 80 Mitzvos listed. These Parshahs culminate with Moshe saying that today our nation is different in the way we are in the way we see things hear things and react to things. Among The Mitzvos are morality laws how to deal with your neighbors laws of war and two laws regarding other nations. Regarding Edom and Egypt the Torah commands us not to hate them because Edom stems from Esau and we were strangers in Egypt’s land. And yet despite all the hardships these two nations have caused our people we are commanded not to hate them and therein lies the secret to the Jewish people.

 

The Jewish people are less then 1 percent of the world and yet we are 20 percent of the world’s billionaires 30 percent of the world Nobel Prize winners and have certainty contributed as much and arguably more to art culture and society then any other race or people in history. We are chief among the intellects and the innovators the artistic and the scholarly. But why is that? Our nation has had more death devastation hate and depravity visited upon it than any other in history. There is nigh a country in the world who did not at one time harass restrict expel or murder our people and there are some that still engage in that today. Yet despite the world effort we survive and in fact flourish. And this commandment is our secret.

 

Despite the hatred and evil shown to us by the nations we have never become a nation of hate a nation of pity or a nation of vengeance. Instead like a phoenix we rise from whatever trouble comes our way with hope and vision for the future. Mark twain wrote about Socrates philosophized it and the world has acknowledged it. Instead of hate we have hope. Instead of demands of reparations we give society our best and brightest. Instead of letting the darkness and hatred of the world affect us we shine our light onto them and try to drown out hate with love. We bring the world not war but warmth and not strive not to match the evil of the nations but to help society evolve and become better.

 

This lesson is especially important as we begin a new year. Starting a Jewish year off correctly is a lot like traveling through a major American airport. It takes a lot of planning effort and you need to be willing to leave your baggage behind. If you attempt to go into the New Year with all the anger stress and hurt feelings you accumulated all through the year it is foolish to think anything can change for the better. If we continue to drag along any problem we’ve ever had we can never move forward.

A story is told of a beggar stopping a man walking out of a coffee shop and asking for a dollar to get some coffee. The man replied no explaining he had given that same beggar a dollar on his way into the shop not five minutes earlier. The beggar looked at the man and said “my friend Stop living in the past”.

 

As we now enter a new year we must prepare to leave our problems our limitation and our hang-ups behind. One cannot tell g-d ‘I want’ while he tells Him ‘I won’t’. We must enter the year with a clean slate forgive those who have sinned against us and ask G-d to forgive us for our iniquities. We must resolve to improve as Jews and as people as parents and as children.  May it be gods will that we are all blessed with a good sweet year with open blessing for all of our nation and that very soon all of our slates are wiped clean and the hatred of the nations will be no more with the immediate redemption and the coming of Moshiach . Amen

 

This weeks Thought is dedicated in memory to a very special woman who loved and respected everyone regardless of  past mistakes or offenses and was a perfect example of a light onto the nations.

Week Words of Wisdom-Rosh Chodesh Elul

As we approach Elul this month it is very important to take a personal account and see where we are holding in our service to god. How does our behavior match up with where it should be and where are we compare to the past. What can we do to fix our issues in the future and what particular areas need the most work.

 

When there are medical issues with the human body doctors have two ways to handle it. The first is to address the issue head on dealing with the problem at hand and working to fix that problem completely to it cease to be an issue. The second way it to strengthen the rest of the body build up the immune system and make the organs and muscles around the problem as strong as possible to help with the healing process.

 

Similarly with the economic issues we face there are only two intelligent ways to handle it. First is to attack the sick programs and fight to make them sustainable. The other is to spend cash on the programs and support system and strengthen them in a way to make them healthy and manageable for the future.

 

As we look into our souls and identify our strengths and our weaknesses we too must take action. We must find the issue we are having and do Teshuva return to G-d and work to improve our selves in those short comings. We must also strengthen the Mitzvos we are already doing right increase our merit and pray that Hashem help us conquer our failings, bless us with a good sweet year and speedily bring us Moshiach. Amen

Weekly Words Of Wisdom-Veschanan

This week Parshah is Ve’eschanan. Included in the Parshah is Moshes Reminder of the Ten Commandments which he tells us was given with “a powerful voice with no end”. Rashi explains that this means there was no echo.  This gives us two questions. Why would a powerful voice not have an echo and how could this affect our everyday lives?

 

An Echo is caused when a sound wave bounces off an object it can’t penetrate. When G-d spoke there was no echo because there is nothing that the voice and the word of G-d can’t reach. No mountain no valley and no heart can resist the word of Hashem so no echo is possible.

 

The lesson for us is clear when we have a chance to hear the Word of G-d or to speak the His word we must do so. No matter the situation if we think it might not have any affect we must remember G-ds voice has no Echo. There is nothing and no one that can withstand his Torah.

 

 

So if you see a chance to help a friend or to teach a fellow person always do so. Firstly you have a requirement to continue the voice of Hashem that has entered you. And secondly if said with love there is no way your fellow will not accept it and gain from it. May we all accept the light and word of Hashem and may we soon see the day when the Voice of G-d is once again heard with the coming of Moshiach. Amen

Weekly Words of Wisdom- Devarim

The Book of Devarim Begins with Moshe addressing the people. But before he does there is an odd preamble. The Torah states the camps from where the Jews had recently left the camp they were in and they next camp they went to. It also says that every word Moshe would relate to them was the word of Hashem. No other time that Moshe spoke did it give such detail in location and whenever he spoke it was the word of Hashem so why the clarification here?

 

This was among Moshes last talks with his people and every word letter and description he used was an attempt to pass along an important message for all time. Moshes caring for his people went five beyond his generation and his words are everlasting.

 

What Moshe was trying to teach us was firstly to always know where you are. Physically to be in a place you should be and spiritually to know where you Aare in your path. As G-d asked Adom ‘Ayeka” where are you? Have you reached your potential? Are you as far along in your service o G-d as you should be?

 

Secondly he taught know where you come from. physically remember you came from a putrid drop and that you are nothing before Hashem. And spiritually remember the previous elevation of your soul. Remember you ancestors and all they gave up for Hashem. Remember all that Hashem has done for you and cling to Him.

 

Thirdly remember where you’re going. All men die and become dust of the ground. All men go before the heavenly court and must give a recounting of their actions. And singularly once you know where you are you satisfied? Where do you want to be? What is the next step in your service to G-d?

 

And most importantly, everything is Hashem . Just as Moshe never said a word that wasn’t g-d so to we should invest The Holy One Blessed Be He in every part of our lives. Wake up with Hashem eat with Hashem work with Hashem and sleep with Hashem. Bring Hashem into your Marriage into your business into you family make your lives as close to g-d as possible.

 

As we near Tisha Bi’Av the lessons are all the more important. We must look to our previous action and see what sins we’ve done and how to correct them we must see where we are and try to bring Hashem into our lives. And we must look to the future and work to make it one we desire. May we see in the immediate future the gathering of our people and the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikidosh with the coming of Moshiach. Amen.

Weekly Words of Wisdom-Parshas Mattos Massi

This past week as I greeted a customer to my store I asked her how she was feeling. She smiled at me and said “If it doesn’t hurt it isn’t working”. At first it just seemed like a cute one liner from an aging woman but the more I thought about it the deeper it hit me.

 

 

In this week’s Parshah Moshe is approached by two and a half tribes with an odd request. The tribes asked to receive land on the outer parts of the Jordan rather than the land of Israel which was their birthright. Moshe was upset with this request but is reassured when the tribes express their plans to push off settling until the battle for the Land of Israel is done and all they Jews have received their portions.

 

 

So what was Moshe’s problem with the initial plan of the tribes? I couldn’t be their perceived rejection of the Holy Land and indeed later on Hashem elevated their land to be included in Eretz Yisroel. And it doesn’t seem to be their timing or mode of question because both of those are seen as just.

 

 

Moshe’s problem was they lack of care for their fellow Jew and the separation between brothers. When he thought that these men would settle in their lands herd their livestock and raise their children while their brother fought for the land he rejected the plan completely. However as soon as Moshe heard that they only planned to inherit their land after their brothers were safe and settled then he accepted their request whole heartedly.

 

 

This Friday begins the Nine days a period of sadness in Jewish history that builds from the three weeks and ends in the saddest day of the Jewish calendar Tisha Bi’Av. Tisha Bi’Av commemorates the destruction of our holy temples the dispersion of our people and the beginning of over 2000 years of bloodshed and atrocities committed against our people. The very reason of the destruction was Moshe’s fear Jews not caring for one another.

 

 

In 1967 Israeli soldiers retook our holy city and approached the Temple Mount. As they arrived the more religious soldiers burst into tears as they beheld the western wall and touched her stones. One of the soldiers who was not from a religious background burst into tears. One of his comrades asked “you don’t feel as they do, so why do you cry?” He answered “the fact that I don’t feel as they do is exactly why I cry”.

 

 

The three weeks the nine days and especially Tisha Bi’Av should have a profound affect on all of us. It should remind us of the connection our people had with the Holy One Blessed Be He during the times of Moshe and during the time of the Temple that is harder to connect to now. It should remind us of our brothers and sisters, parents grandparents and countless ancestors that died simply for being one of G-ds Chosen ones and how we can honor their memory. It should remind us that hated among Jews it what destroyed the temple and only through boundless love for our fellow Jew can it be restored. It should remind us of our fellow Jews that do not yet know of Torah and push us to help them connect. It should remind us to raise our children in homes of Kosher, homes of Torah, and homes of G-d that those relatives taken from us could have been proud us. It should make us feel pain for those we lost, for those lost to us and for those of us lost within ourselves. And if it doesn’t hurt it isn’t working.

 

May we all very soon be gathered up together as one with the coming of Moshiach. Amen.