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Hanna's Dvar Torah

The question that will “prevail” over G-d - Vayakhel

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Some people are convinced that the have THE question that the rabbi will not have the answer to. The question that will “prevail” over G-d and after which they will not need to keep His commandments anymore.

Are there such questions?

One man asked the Rebbe about the Tefilin, which are made from leather. He said he cannot wear them, since he is vegetarian and does not wear anything made of animal skin. He cannot use anything that was made through hurting animals. The Rebbe explained to him that the Tefilin are not necessarily made from the skin of an animal that was slaughtered but can also be made from the skin of an animal that died naturally. There is a big chance that his Tefilin were made without incurring any animal suffering and therefore he can wear them without worry and fulfill G-d’s commandment.

Each Friday, I go with my aunt to a shopping mall and we distribute candles to the women there so they can light them for Shabbat. Once, a woman asked me what value is there in her lighting candles, since she will not keep the rest of the Shabbat. I explained to her that with each Mitzvah, we unite with G-d. The Mitzva is eternal, above the limits of time. The connection we created with G-d at this moment is invaluable. What the person does one minute before or two minutes after does not change that.

One student in my school asked the teacher why she should keep the physical Mitsvot. Shouldn’t our connection with G-d be spiritual, through our feelings? The teacher explained to us that if G-d wanted us to serve Him only spiritually, He would not have sent us to this physical world. We would have stayed as souls without bodies. We were sent to this physical world in order to do physical actions. This is what G-d wants from us.

All the questions have an answer. We just need to ask the right person in order to get them.

Do YOU gave questions: visit the “questions” section on our site to see if your question is answered there. Or ask the Rabbi directly!

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

It's a pity for the glass - Ki Tisa

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At Jewish weddings, at the end of the Chupah ceremony, the groom breaks a glass, everyone shouts “Mazal Tov! And the party starts. The reason of this custom is to remind is about the destruction of the Temple, even in this joyous moment of our lives.

But why in this way? Isn't it a pity for the glass…

In this week’s Parasha Ki Tisa, Moses comes back from Mount Sinai with the two G-d-made Tablets, on which the Ten Commandments were engraved. As he comes down, he sees the people of Israel worshipping a Goloden Calf. He takes the Tablets, throws them on the floor where they break. A people that sins in such a way just 40 days after seeing G-d on Mount Sinai, does not deserve to receive G-d’s wisdom. But why did Moses have to break them? Those Tablets were the work of G-d and they had inestimable value. Could he not have kept them on a side until the Jewish people would repent? Those Tablets were lost forever.

After G-d forgave His people, he asked Moses to make new Tablets. But those were not written directly by Him, but through Moses’ hands. There must have been a very good reasons for Moses’ action…

People usually prefer to speak about their successes and forget about their failures. They think that success and failure are two opposites. But the truth is that failure creates success. Our mistakes create in us a thirst for truth. We try to correct them with more passion and positive energy. In other words: failure can bring us to a bigger success.

This is why Moses broke the Tablets. When he saw the people worshipping the Golden Calf, he understood that they need a deeper connection with G-d. Not an automatic relationship where G-d does everything and the Jewish people only listen. A relationship where they would be involved themselves, where they would be active participants. A relationship that would transcend their personality.

Moses broke in order to build something new. In this new relationship, the Jews had to make a special effort. But G-d also did something more the second time. While the First Tablets only contained the Bible, the Second Tablets included more wisdom, with the basis of the Talmud and the Midrash.

This is why the Torah says that Moses broke the Tablets in front of the eyes of the Jews. It was in order to shock them, to shake them and bring them to self-improvement beyond their mistake.

This is the same for the Jewish wedding. At the end of the Chupah, the groom breaks a glass, and everyone shouts out “Mazal tov!”. This is how we remind to the newlyweds that even when something breaks in their conjugal life, which is bound to happen, this does not mean that everything is finished. After the breaking, they can build something new in their relationship, something better than what broke.

May we always learn from our mistakes and may Mashiach come speedily, where we will not make any mistakes anymore.

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

What I learnt from the olive oil - Tetsave

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One of our biggest dilemmas has to do with our Jewish identity. On the one hand, we want to be citizens of the world. On the other hand, we want to keep our Jewish identity. How can one walk this think line? The answer is found in this week’s Parasha.

The Torah Tetsave portion speaks about the pure olive oil with which the holy Menorah was lit in the Temple. The olive oil has 2 characteristics: on the one hand, it permeates all other materials. Did you ever see what happens when a drop of olive falls on a big stack of papers? It goes in very deep. On the other hand, the oil always floats on top of the other liquids and never mixes with them, no matter how much we try to stir it. Try this experience at home 😊

This is how we should behave in our everyday lives. We can be in contact with the rest of the world and influence it, but without being influenced by it.

Many times, we think that in order to be accepted and valued by others, we need to act like them, losing our identity. But the world appreciates those who have their own character, those who keep their values even when people around them behave differently.

So, this week, let’s to our Jewish identity, without being concerned about what will our friends or colleagues think about us. With Shabbat candles (girls and women), Tefilin (boys and men), study of Torah and all other Mitsvot.

If we act like the olive oil, G-d will surely bring us Mashiach now!

Shabbat Shalom!

Hanna

Who should do the first step? - Teruma

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“At the beginning, G-d was homeless, this is why he ordered His people to build Him a home”.

Where is this written? Nowhere. But what is written is that G-d asked the people to build a Sanctuary for Him, in this week’s Parasha Trauma: “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

But why should G-d ask for such a thing? Was He missing a home? Until we built the Sanctuary, was He not present with us down here?

After all, G-d had just descended on Mount Sinai and spoken to us. Why does He suddenly need a Sanctuary in order to do it? What is the difference?

There is an essential difference between the communication that took place at Mount Sinai and the communication in the Sanctuary. At Mount Sinai, G-d was the One who took the initiative. He came, He spoke, He brought the thunder and the lightnings. The Jewish people simply received it, without doing anything special by themselves.

On the contrary, the building of the Sanctuary was our work. We had to give the donations for its construction et we had to build it ourselves. We brought G-d down here.

We always need to remember this message, about who should do the first stepin our relationship with G-d. We should not sit and wait for inspiration to come down from the sky in order to feel connected to Him. Sometimes, G-d gives us as a gift these inspirations from above. But for the rest of the time, this is not enough. We need to think, to study, to act on our own, to take the initiative of communication ourselves. And then, G-d answers and helps.

Someone once asked the Rabbi from Kotsk “Where can G-d be found?”. He answered: “Wherever we let Him in”.

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

Based on Rabbi Goldman's weekly sermonette 

Four Guardians - Mishpatim

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True story: Once, a valuable item was stolen from a car parked in the courtyard of a Russian synagogue. When the guard was interrogated, he said: “My job is overlook that things are going well. When they don’t go well, it’s not my job anymore!”

This week’s Parasha Mishpatim is filled with laws dealing with our everyday lives and human relations. Among others, it analyses four kinds of people who watch over the property of others: a) the unpaid guardian b) the paid guardian c) the borrower who uses the other’s property without paying for it and d) the renter, who pays in order to use it.

The difference between the guardians isn’t related only to the payment they receive (or not) but to the degree of responsibility they each carry in case the item gets damaged, lost or stolen… The unpaid guardian, in almost any case is exempt from paying compensation in case of damage, except in case of real negligence. The paid guardian and the renter have to pay compensation in almost every case, unless it was something that they could not prevent, such as an armed robbery. The borrower though is always liable, in all circumstances.

How does it all relate to our everyday lives?

Our Sages explain that each one of us is a guardian in G-d’s world. G-d gave us a beautiful world, a precious soul and a lot of capabilities, talents, energy and life. He also gave us 613 Commandments to keep and “guard”.

If we do a mistake and don’t keep-guard it properly, how much do we need to “pay”? How responsible are we?

There is the unpaid guardian, who keeps the commandments simply because G-d asked us to and because he loves Him. He is not thinking of the reward he deserves. And if he does a mistake, a sin, G-d will forgive him, unless it is a case of real negligence.

On the other hand, we have the paid guardian, the one who keeps the commandments in order to receive a reward. Third, we have the renter-guardian who wants to enjoy this world but feels the obligation to “pay” G-d for his use of the world by keeping His commandments. Both are fully responsible for their mistakes, unless they could not prevent it in any way.

The worse guardian is the borrower, the one who wants to enjoy G-d’s world without any commitment or obedience tro G-d. The borerower will always be liable, in any case or circumstance.

Which kind of guardian are YOU?

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

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