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Hanna's Dvar Torah

In the depths of the sea - Last days of Pesach

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Do you know them? Or maybe you were one of them?

One of these children, whose teacher, at the parent’s meeting, tells them that their child has many capabilities and strengths, and that is a shame that s/he doesn’t utilize them.  

On the Last Days of Pesach, we commemorate the Splitting of the Red Sea. This miracle did not happen only in order to save the Jewish people from the Egyptians, who chased after them just days after they had let them go. G-d could have saved the Jews in a thousand other ways. But this miracle has an eternal message for us.

What is the difference between the sea and the dry land? Essentially, everything that exists on dry land exists in the sea as well. Various plants, various animals… an entire world. It’s simply that on the earth’s surface, everything is apparent while in the sea, everything is hidden under the water. During the Splitting of the Sea, the sea turned into dry land. What was hidden appeared. And this gives power to all of us to do the same in our everyday lives.

All of us have hidden talents, hidden capacities that we have never utilized.

The last days of Pesach (this year, Friday-Shabbat 26-27 of April) are the perfect time to reveal them. To start something new that we have never thought we can achieve.

I wish us all success,

Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

For which child do we worry? - Pesach

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Pesach! The whole family sits around the Seder table, tells the story of the Exodus as they eat Matzah, Maror and the festive meal. The children are the center of attention, since the whole purpose of the evening is to give over the traditions to the next generation. The Hagada speaks about 4 kinds of children. The wise, the wicked, the simpleton and the one that does not know how to ask questions. We want them all around the table of the Seder. We will teach each one in the way that fits him or her.

For which child do we worry the most?

The Rebbe explains that the child who does not ask questions is the one who needs us most. The wicked child may debate and doubt, but s/he cares. No one fights something that s/he doesn’t care about. Since the dialogue is open with him or her, there is a possibility that we will convince him or her to return.

On the other hand, the child who doesn’t ask anything is psychologically so far away from us, that he doesn’t even pay attention to us. He doesn’t ask, because he’s not interested. We need to try harder in order to “break through” his indifference and teach him.

Μια φίλη μου παραπονέθηκε πως είναι σχεδόν η μόνη που κάνει ερωτήσεις στη τάξη της. Νιώθει λίγο χαζή που "μόνο αυτή" δεν καταλαβαίνει τη δασκάλα και λίγο εκνευριστική που όλη την ώρα την "ενοχλεί" με ερωτήσεις. Η αλήθεια, όμως, είναι πως είναι η μόνη, που παρακολουθεί προσεκτικά το συγκεκριμένο μάθημα, ενώ οι υπόλοιποι δεν ενδιαφέρονται αρκετά ώστε να τους δημιουργηθούν απορίες…

One of my friends complained that she is almost the only one who asks questions in her class. She feels a little stupid that “only she” doesn’t understand the teacher, and also a bit frustrated that she continuously “disturbs” her with questions. The truth however is, that she is the only one who listens to this class carefully, while the others are not interested enough in the subject for questions to arise by them.

It’s very important to think and ask questions. To have an active participation in the Seder and generally in our lives and in our Judaism.

If we don’t ask, how will we learn?

Shabbat Shalom and Pesach Kasher Vesameach!

Hanna

What is hidden in the walls - Metsora

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Once, Rabbi Gamliel sent his servant to buy him the best part of meat he could find in the marketplace. The servant came back with the tongue of a cow. He sent him back again, this time, asking him to bring back the worse part of meat he could find. The servant brought him again a tongue of cow. Rabbi Gamliel asked him how could it be both the best and the worse part of meat? The servant answered that the tongue could be both the best and the worse thing, depending on how we use it.

In this week’s Parasha Metsora, we learn about Tsaraat (often mistranslated as leper). Tsaraat was a disease that existed in the times of the Temple. It could appear on the walls of a house, or on the clothes or the skin of a person. According to Judaism, Tsaraat appeared as a punishment for evil speech. A house or a cloth that was affected by it and did not heal had to be destroyed. A person afflicted with Tsaraat had to be in quarantine, outside of the city until the disease disappeared from his skin, sign that G-d had forgiven him. It was not such a pleasant experience…

When the Jews were in the desert, G-d announced to Moses that upon entering the Promised Land, their houses will have Tsaraat. Why announce such bad news? Our Sages explain that it was in fact good news.

The Emorites who lived in Israel before the Jewish people had hidden their treasures in the walls of their houses. The Jews would never have found them. But G-d sent Tsaraat to the houses of the Emorites, so they had to be destroyed and the treasures were found.

Every Mitsva, besides for instructions on how to do it, also gives us a message for our everyday lives. What can we learn from Tsaraat?

People have a very powerful weapon: our mouth. We can do the worse with it, sow discord, destroy the self esteem of people around us, waste our time with blabla etc. Would it not be better to close our mouths forever and spend our days in silence?  

The name of the people of the Emorites, who lived in Israel, comes from the root “Emor” which means “speech” in Hebrew. While the Emorites symbolize all the negative things we can do with our speech, they had treasures hidden in their houses. This teaches us that it’s not enough to refrain from using our mouth negatively. We need to discover the treasures hidden there, if we use correctly.

We have a very powerful tool, our mouth. We can do the best with it, make peace, build up the self confidence of the people around us, make someone’s day by saying a good word and giving a little attention. We can also share our knowledge with others, like telling the story of Pesach at the Seder etc.

Let’s make efforts to discover the treasures we have in our mouths.

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

Last but not least! - Tazria

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The turtle, after laying its eggs, leaves them alone. Is she a bad mother?

Is the tiger, who hunts and kills other animals, violent?

During the Creation of the World, the animals were created before the human being (G-d created the animals on Thursday and Friday morning and the human being on Friday afternoon). Likewise, the Parasha of this week Tazria, where we learn about the laws of purity for the human being, comes after the previous Parashot where we read about the laws of purity of animals (kosher). Why are humans last? Are they less important?

Animals, like humans, eat, drink, sleep, communicate and give birth. Scientists say that many animals have memory and intelligence and have the capability to think. Then what is their difference with humans?

Animals cannot choose what they do. All their actions are dictated by their instincts. Therefore, there are no bad animals, even if they do actions that seem evil in our eyes. They do not choose it, they do it by instinct.

On the contrary, the human being, besides his intelligence, has the freedom of choice. On one side, there are his instincts, which make him think only about himself and his short-term gain. On the other side, he has the G-dly soul, which wants him to do the right thing, to think about the others and the long-term gains. The human being can choose, and this is its big difference from the animals.

Is this a good or a bad difference? This depends on us. If we choose correctly, we can achieve a lot, for us as well as for the whole world. The animals can do good only by instinct, when they will benefit from it. But if we succumb to our bad tendencies, we can act worse than animals.

In other words, we can be the best, or the worse of all.

This is the reason why we were created last. If we utilize our capacities in the right way, we are like the important guest that arrives last to an event, when everything and everyone are ready. This is why man was created last: our Sages explain that G-d wanted the human being to arrive to a completed world, like an important guest.

But if we utilize our capacities in the wrong way, this fact is interpreted differently. Our Sages say that even the mosquito that was created before us is better than us.

Let’s all decide to perform good actions that will make us the best creations of the world, and not the worse.

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

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