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Hanna's Dvar Torah

How does positive thinking help - Shemot

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When things get tough, we need to believe that G-d will help us. Even if we are not worthy of any miracle, we need to trust that He will save us. But how can we be so sure?

200 years ago, a Jew went to the Tsemach Tsedek, and asked him to give a blessing for his son who was very ill. The Rebbe answered: “Think positive and everything will go well”. And indeed, the end of the story was positive.

If we analyze this story, we will discover something interesting: The faith and the trust that G-d will help, were not based on any facts. On the contrary, the faith and the trust that G-d will help changed the facts, creating a whole new reality.

When a problem occurs to us, there is the possibility that G-d, for various reasons, has decided the end should not be happy. But our trust in G-d can change His decision. When a person trusts G-d, he ignores the logic and the regular thoughts. When G-d sees that, He also ignores His regular thinking. The person may not be worthy of salvation but thanks to his faith and trust in G-d, He saves him.

In this week’s Parasha Shmot, Moses kills an Egyptian soldier that was beating up a Jewish slave. The next day, suddenly, Moses realizes that the incident became known. Then, the Torah tells us that Moses was afraid and said: “"Indeed, the matter has become known!". Then Pharaoh heard about it, wanted to kill Moses and thus Moses had to flee from Egypt. But why did the Torah describe to us Moses’ feelings? What do they add to our understanding of the story?

The Torah wants to teach us that the reason that Pharaoh heard about the matter was because Moses became afraid. If Moses had absolute trust in G-d that everything will be all right, the death of the Egyptian would have been forgotten and would not have reached Pharaoh’s ears.

In other words: “Think positive and everything will go well!”

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

The chess game and the 12 Tribes of Israel - Vayechi

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If we were pieces in a chess game, which piece would we be? Simple pawns, which can only go straight, or queens, which can move in any direction they decide? 

Angels are like pawns, they only have one dimension character. Some angels serve G-d with love, others with joy, others with respect etc. They can never change or do something that does not fit their character and their little “square”.

But according to our Sages, we are called the “bride” of G-d. And since He is the King, we are the queen… We have many dimensions and we are complex entities. We have some basic character traits and ways we approach the world and the service of G-d, yet we have the possibility to act in the opposite way. Someone that usually serves G-d with the characteristic of love can avoid a sin out of respect and fear of G-d, or he can get angry with a student or a child for their benefit, to educate them.

But why should we make the effort to act in a way that does not fit our character? Can we ever get satisfaction from such a behavior?

In this week’s Parasha Vayechi, Jacob, before his death, blesses his children, the 12 tribes of Israel. He gives to each son a blessing that fits his individual character, for instance, he blesses Judah with leadership, Issachar with study of the Torah, Zvulun with commercial success etc. But as soon as Jacob finishes to give the individual blessing to each son, he gives again all these blessings to the other brothers. Why? So that they should not be like pawns and be limited to one direction only. He gives his children the strength and the ability to perform actions that correspond to other characters and to feel accomplishment in any of the different ways to serve G-d.

We therefore belong to all the dimensions. We have a basic character, but we can perform actions that do not correspond to it. In others words, there is no commandment or Mitsvah that does not correspond to us. Like the queens in the chess game, we can do anything!

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

The ideal director - Vayigash

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Who would you choose as the director of a new school? Someone from the town or a new immigrant?

When he came to Egypt, Jacob wanted to establish a Yeshiva. Instead of asking Joseph, who already had an established situation in the government, to take care of it, Jacob asked Yehuda, who had just recently arrived to Egypt and did not even know the language. Why?

The answer has to do with the significant difference between Joseph and his brothers. His brothers, following in the steps of their forefathers, were shepherds. This is a quiet, secluded and peaceful occupation, where you have time to meditate about spiritual matters. On the contrary, Joseph was the viceroy, he was not at all secluded but was constantly involved with the world. Yet, he still stayed faithful to G-d and continued to study the Torah and fulfill the Mitsvot.

Most of us ressemble Joseph. We have jobs which require us to be involved with the world. Yet, we need to constantly remember who we are. How can we achieve it? With the help and inspiration from our forefathers and from Joseph.

At the beginning of our life, in the days of school and Jewish education - but also later in life at the beginning of each day - we need to dedicate spiritual time to prayer and Torah study.

This is also the reason why Judah was the one who established the Yeshiva. Because it’s not easy for someone to manage to be like Joseph, to be involved in the world and stay faithful. Judah teaches us with his example that we first have to be completely and exclusively involved in spirituality.

Let us also dedicate a couple of minutes every morning exclusively to spirituality. With a prayer, a little Torah study (check out the wonderful articles of chabad.gr in greek and english), we’ll also have the power to stay faithful even though we are involved with not that spiritual occupations during the rest of our day.

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

 

What you didn’t know about the dreidel

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Why do we play with dreidels (spinning tops) on Chanukah? And how are dreidels relevant to our everyday lives when we aren’t kids anymore and have lost interest in sitting on the floor for hours and play?

Back in time, in the period of Chanukah, the Syrians forbade us from studying Torah. Yet, we did not obey. The young Jewish children would hide in caves in order to study. When they heard the soldiers approaching, they would quickly hide the books and pretend that they were playing with dreidels. In this way, they were not arrested and could continue to keep the spirit of Judaism alive. In order to remember their heroic commitment to The Torah, we play with dreidels every year on Chanukah.

Each of the 4 sides of the dreidels has a letter written on top: Nun, Guimel, Hey, Shin, which are the first letters of the words: Nes Gadol Haya Sham, a big miracle happened there. When the dreidel is spinning fast, we cannot distinguish the letters, because of the speed. Only when the dreidel stops and rests can we read about the miracle.

The same happens in our life. Many times, we run so fast that we don’t have time to even think about what is happening to us. We need, every once in a while, to stop and pay attention to the miracles that fill up our lives.

As Albert Einstein said: “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameach!

Hanna

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