Hanna's Dvar Torah

Why did Aharon hesitate? - Shmini

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How do we cultivate our self-esteem? How do we overcome our fear to try something new?

Moses had an interesting way to teach us how.

In this week’s Parasha Shmini, after seven days of trial, the service at the Mishkan (Tabernacle) is ready to begin. Aharon, the High Priest, needs to start the service, but he is afraid and ashamed. He worries that he may be unfit to serve in this important role, since he indirectly participated in the sin of the Golden Calf.

Moses called him and told him to go ahead and do his duty. Aharon listened to him and did what he had to do. What did Moses tell Aharon in order to calm his fears? Nothing. One sentence only: “Do your duty”. In other words, Moses urged him to start, to do the first step. In this way, Aharon would discover that there was no reason for him to worry. As soon as he would start, he would find out that this role was perfectly fit for him.

Sometimes, the solution to our fear is simply to do the very thing we are afraid of. Many great speakers, for instance, were afraid of speaking in public, until they actually took a microphone in their hands. When we see that we succeed, that it is not as difficult as we imagined it, our self-esteem grows and when the next time comes, we will feel more confident to do it.

I remember, a few years ago, when the father of one of my classmates passed away, was the first time I went to make a consolation visit, the Mitsva of Nichum Avelim in Hebrew. I was so afraid, I did not know what to say… I finally discovered that the mourners did not need my words. It was enough that I came and was near them. I had to do it in order for my fear to go away…

Many are afraid to try and take an active part in their Judaism. For instance, they do not know how to see the Kidush and lead the Shabbat table. The best is for them to simply do it. To jump into the deep end.

Try to keep the Shabbat, even just some of its Misvot. Start from somewhere and you will see that you can do it. You will discover that it is not that complicated and how much joy it brings to the one who keeps it.

Shabbat Shalom,


Who will take out the garbage - Tsav

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Have you met some of these people who consider themselves so important that they cannot busy themselves with little things? What they must do is so serious that they cannot do something as simple as giving directions to people who lost their way. Someone else should deal with it…

Things were different in the Holy Temple.

The Kohanim, the priests, had many jobs to do in the Temple: Bless the people, teach them the laws of the Torah, make the sacrifices etc. But they also had to clean the Temple and take the garbage outside of the city.

One would think that the priests who were dealing with the garbage were not the same as those who did the sacrifices or blessed the people. That there were differences in positions and hierarchy. In other words, the important priests would deal with the teachings and the blessings and the rest would deal with the cleaning.

But the truth is that it was the same exact priests that did all the jobs. They changed their clothes and went to do everything, from blessing the people to throwing out the garbage. They did whatever was necessary in the Temple, even those activities that we usually don’t put up on Facebook or the social media.

All these works were stages in the service of G-d. It included the preparations before, the cleaning afterwards, and everything in between. There were no lesser or more important jobs.

This is how Rabbi Chiya acted in the time of the Talmud. He saw that there were many villages that did not have a teacher or a rabbi. The people did not know the Torah and they were in danger of forgetting their Judaism. He decided to take the situation in his own hands. He planted linen and when it grew, he made ropes. With those ropes, he made a net with which he caught a deer. He slaughtered the deer, gave its meat to poor people and after processing its skin, he wrote on it the books of the Torah and the Mishna. With these books, he went from village to village, gathered the children and taught each one, one book. Then, he told them to teach one each other what they had learned, while he would continue on to the next village.

Rabbi Chiya, even though he was a very important and great rabbi, did not hesitate to do a series of “little things” in order to help the situation and serve G-d.

Let us also try to act in this way. Let us not think that various “small things” are not fit for us but let us fulfill G-d’s will in any circumstance.

Shabbat Shalom,


Save the situation! - Purim

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Purim! The happiest holiday of the year is near us. What exactly happened there? What do we celebrate?

Achashverosh, the great king of 127 countries (almost of the entire known world at the time), searches for a new wife after killing his first one. After four years of quest, he chooses Esther from all the women that had been gathered. Esther was Jewish, and she did not want to marry a Gentile king, but she was forced to do so.

The Prime Minister Haman issues a new terrible decree: to kill all the Jews in the entire kingdom, young and old, on a specific day. It is a very difficult situation: all the Jews at this period lived in the kingdom of Achashverosh and they had no where to escape or hide. This decree meant the annihilation of the entire Jewish people.   

Mordechai, Esther’s cousin, decided to intervene on behalf of the Jewish people. He sent a message to Esther that she must go to the King and ask him to cancel the decree. Esther was afraid to go since according to the law, she could not approach the King without him inviting her. Achashverosh had not invited her for 30 days… If she went, he could kill her!

Mordechai explained to her that she could not stay indifferent and not to anything. Perhaps this is the reason G-d had brought her to this position, at this specific moment. This is why G-d had made her queen and this was the purpose of her story! She had to utilize all means to save her people. Indeed, Esther acts and goes to Achashverosh and, as if by miracle, the king is convinced, and the Jewish people are saved. This is why we celebrate the holiday of Purim.

In our life, we also find ourselves in a similar situation as Esther. Someone needs help, a certain problem needs a solution and we may be the ones who have the key to salvation. But we may be scared that we will not succeed. The story of Purim though urges us to act. Not to be scared. Because there is a reason why G-d brought us to this situation. It may be precisely for us to be the right person at the right time in order to act and effect the change …

Let’s utilize all the opportunities, all the capabilities we were given in the particular circumstances where G-d has placed us, in order to save the situation.

May be go from the great joy of Purim to the even greater joy of the coming of Mashiach!

Purim Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,


Dishonesty, Corruption and Fraud - Pekude

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All too regularly, we hear the upsetting news that “Politician x embezzled funds” or “Organization director y was caught in fraud”. Efforts are made all over the world to stop the deceptions and corruption. But we, the modern civilization, are not the first to tackle this problem.

In this week’s Parasha Pekude, Moses does deals with the very same issue. He records and files all the donations that the Jewish people brought to the Tabernacle with total transparency. All the gold, the silver, the bronze, the precious stones, everything was weighted and accounted precisely, so that no one can suspect Moses or his helpers that they may have taken some part for themselves.  

Our Sages, learning from this Parasha, tell us that those who raise funds for charities and organizations should be “clean” in front of G-d and in front of the community. It is not enough to be honest, we also need to appear honest to the eyes of everyone. In other words, we need to always be ready to give an account of our actions.

After 120, when we come Above, we will have to give an account There. We will be asked and judged for the actions we did while we were here on earth.

According to the Talmud, the first question we will be asked is not “Did you believe in G-d?” or “Did you fast on Yom Kippur?” but “Were you honest in your businesses?”. We will not be asked about how religious we were but how did we manage our shop.

The second question we will be asked is “Did you study the Torah?”. It seems that study is one a basics of Judaism. It is the key that leads to everything else. It is not by chance that Jews are called the People of the Book… Yet it is puzzling that many very educated Jews are well versed in all the wisdoms of the world except in their own, the infinite wisdom of the Torah and the Talmud…

When we drive and commit an infraction, claiming we did not know the traffic laws will not save us from getting a fine. “I didn’t know” is not a valid excuse.

It is the same with Torah study. It is so accessible that we can not pretext that we did not know how to study. There are so many interesting Torah classes at Chabad of Greece. There are also rabbis who can study with you and naturally, there are endless articles on the internet but also plenty of books. If we sincerely want to study, we will find the way.

Let’s put everything on our side so that when the time comes to eb questioned up There if we handled our businesses honestly and if we studied Torah, the answer will be yes to both questions.

Shabbat Shalom,


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