Printed from Chabad.gr

Hanna's Dvar Torah

Sailing without a compass - Bo

Για να το διαβάσετε στα Ελληνικά, κάντε κλικ εδώ

compass-2946959_1920 crop.jpg 

Finally free! The Jews left Egypt, they were not slaves to Pharaoh anymore. Yet, the reason why G-d took us out of there was in order for us to serve Him. Then, where exactly is the freedom? Instead of being slaves to Pharaoh, we are slaves to G-d. We still cannot do what we want.

Many argue that the limitations set by the Torah reduce our freedom and stifle our creativity. Judaism defines exactly what we should do and when, and it has endless laws, for Shabbat, for Kosher food, for Passover… It’s not easy. Why follow this lifestyle? Why not simply be ourselves?

Our Sages many years ago said exactly the opposite: “There is no one as free as he who is occupied with the study of Torah.” How is this possible? It has so many rules and requires so much from us!

Malcolm Muggeridge was the redactor of Punch, a satirical, cynical and daring magazine in England. During the last years of his life, he became observant. In an interview with the BBC, he was asked how he came to religion? How could a free spirit like him stifle his personality?

Muggeridge answered that he has a friend who is a sailor. One of the most important rules of sailing holds the answer to this question. “If you want to enjoy the freedom of the open seas, you first need to become a slave to the compass.” A beginner may challenge this rule and wonder why he should listen to this small device. Why should he not be able to go wherever he wishes?

But we can all understand that without the guiding of the compass, we will just go in circles and not get anywhere. Only by following the compass will we truly appreciate the sea.

The Torah is the compass of our lives. It directs us, shows us the direction. Without it, we can easily get lost and not get anywhere. Like the children during vacation, when they are free from school and teachers: if they don’t have a program to follow, after a while they go nuts.

Within the frame framework of the Torah, there is plenty of space of spontaneity and self-expression. We can be both slaves to the compass and at the same time, free.

Let’s try this Shabbat to observe it a little more that usual. Light candles before sunset, make Kiddush, refrain from smoking or using the phone, or watching TV. It may seem like slavery, but in reality, it gives us true freedom.

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

Hope - Vaera

Για να το διαβάσετε στα Ελληνικά, κάντε κλικ εδώ

 sky-2667455_1920 crop.jpg

Dedicated to the complete recovery of Rabbi Yosef Yitschak ben Rivka

 Imagine working in some place for years. It’s a very difficult job and you are not only tired but exhausted, disappointed and drained. Then comes someone who promises you a perfect world, where there will be equality, freedom and good salaries. Would you believe him, or would you have already lost all hope? Would you allow yourself to believe, taking the risk of being disappointed, or would you just accept your fate, stopping to dream about a better future?

This is what happened with our ancestors in Egypt. After many years of terrible slavery, Moses suddenly bring new hope, with a promise from G-d about their liberation and their coming to the Promised Land.

How did the Jews react? The Torah tells us that “They did not hear the words of Moshe, because of [their] shortness of breath and because of [their] hard labor.” (Exodus 6:9)

Our Sages explain to us that shortness of breath is not to be taken literally. In Hebrew, the word Ruach (breath) also means spirit. In other words, the Israelites did not listen to Moshe because they had lost their spirit, their hope.

This also happens to children who do not believe that they will manage one day to become good students and have more than 70 at their exams. Therefore, they don’t have the energy or motivation to try to reach higher.

This also happens when someone wants to go on a diet but thinks that it is a lost battle from the start.

This also happens when we suddenly have the desire to become better and more patient people, or to start doing something good for ourselves or other people. But then we stop ourselves because we think we will not achieve it anyway.

Rabbi Mendel Futerfas said: “If you loose money, you have not lost anything, because money comes and goes. If you lose your health, you have lost half, since you are not the same person as you were before. But if you lose hope, you have lost everything.”

Let’s listen to Moses who comes to take us out from our personal Egypt. Let’s keep the hope that things can change and make practical steps to improve the situation. When someone tries to so something good, even something small, G-d helps him big time!

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

The Βoxer’s advice - Shemot

מוקדש לרפואה שלימה לרב יוסף יצחק בן רבקה ולחיה צביה בת שאשא רייזל יוכבד

Dedicated to the complete recovery of Rabbi Yosef Yitschak ben Rivka and Chaya Tsivya bat Shasha Reizel Yocheved 

Για να το διαβάσετε στα Ελληνικά, κάντε κλικ εδώ

box-1514845_1920 crop.jpg 

The teacher asked each child to say something that they learned from their parents. A child said that his father always declares that “It’s better to give than to receive”. The teacher agreed that it was very important and asked: “What job does your father do?”. The child answered: “Boxer”.

In this week’s Parasha Shemot, the Jews are in Egypt and working very hard. Moses, who was growing up in the house of Pharaoh’s daughter, discovered he was Jewish. He goes to find out what is happening with his Jewish brothers, the slaves, and sees two Jews fighting. One raised his hand to hit the other, but Moses stopped him and said: “Rasha (evil one), why hit your friend?”

Note that the Jew had not yet hit his friend. He had just raised his hand. But that was enough for Moses to call him “Rasha”. Why?

Every organ of our body was created for a specific purpose. To fulfill G-d’s will in this world, through the Torah and Mitzvot. The specific role of the hand is to give, help and provide.

When the Jew raised his hand to hit his friend, even though he had not hit him yet, he had already done something very serious. He had used his hand for the opposite purpose than the one intended by G-d. He was already considered a Rasha.

Last week, we were with my school in Chevron, where most of our forefathers and mothers are buried. It was very nice, and I prayed there for all our community.

Our forefathers and mothers did everything according to G-d’s will. For us, to always do the right thing may be difficult, but we can adopt this line of thought and ask ourselves before acting: “Is this action in line with God’s will or not? Is this the reason why this organ of my body was created?”

Let’s utilize all the organs of our body for a good purpose. Thus, we will bring Mashiach very soon!

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

The first time is crucial - 10th of Tevet

Για να το διαβάσετε στα Ελληνικά, κάντε κλικ εδώ

 hand-162127_960_720 crop.jpg

A few weeks ago, our school had the visit of a Rabbi who does Kosher supervisions in factories and restaurants. He spoke very nicely and told us a disturbing story.

In one city in America with many observant Jews, there was a Kosher butcher shop whose owner was a religious Jew. Naturally, in addition to the owner, there was a rabbi that oversaw that everything was indeed Kosher. Kosher meat is more expensive, therefore a lot of supervision is needed in order to avoid fraud. The temptation is great. One of the responsibilities of the supervisor is to check that the orders to the suppliers correspond to the merchandise in the shop. One time, the supervisor noticed that there was more meat in the store than what he remembered had been ordered. With a small investigation, he discovered that late at night, another supplier came, who brought non-kosher meat, which was then sold as kosher. The butcher shop closed, its owner fled abroad, and everyone was extremely shocked. Once, abroad, someone recognized the owner and asked him, how was it possible for him to do such a thing? After all, he was himself a religious Jew and he knew how important kosher meat is. The owner answered him: “The first time was very frightening.”

The first time we do something is crucial.

Last Tuesday, we had the Fast of the 10th of Tevet. On this day 2444 years ago (in the year 3336 from Creation, 425 BCE), the Babylonians started a siege around Jerusalem. After a blockade of two and a half years, they managed to enter the city, burn the Temple, kill many Jews and take the remainder as prisoners to Babylon.

But why do we fast on the 10th of Tevet? No one died on this day…

On the 10th of Tevet was the beginning of the siege, and as we mentioned earlier, the beginning is crucial. It is as if the continuation depends on and is included in this first crucial time.

It is the same in our everyday life.

Smokers will tell you that everything started with the first cigarette. Those who went on a diet and stopped will tell you that it’s all because of that first cookie. How many times have we opened our smartphones to see something quickly and suddenly realized we have surfed already for half an hour (or more!)?

We need to be careful and guard ourselves from this first time of doing something negative. Because usually, we end up doing it more times.

The same applies for something positive. Don’t be afraid of doing one small good action. It may seem small, but usually is followed by more.

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

When to be arrogant - Vayigash

Για να το διαβάσετε στα Ελληνικά, κάντε κλικ εδώ

morning-2264051_960_720 crop.jpg 

Hello, from Israel once again :-) . I came back from New York, the Rebbe’s place, with new energy to continue studying and doing good things so that Mashiach will finally come!

Now let's continue with the Genesis saga with this week's Parasha, Vayigash.

Joseph is now the viceroy of Egypt. Because of the great famine, all the world is coming to Egypt to purchase food. Thanks to Joseph, who had interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams as the coming of a great famine, the Egyptians are the only one who have prepared accordingly.

Among the buyers are the brothers of Joseph. Those who had sold him as a slave many years ago… Joseph recognizes them and decides to test them in order to see if they regretted their action and if they have changed their behavior. He hides his precious silver cup inside Benjamin’s bag and then announces it has been stolen, and that people need to be searched. Of course, the cup is found is Benjamin’s bag, and Joseph declares that he will take him as a slave. He wants to see what his brothers will do, if they will care.

Judah resists. He begs Joseph to take him as a slave instead of Benjamin and argues: “I’m better than him in everything. I’m stronger, smarter, more experienced. Take me instead of him.”

Our Sages tell us that in the merit of this action, that he humiliated himself for the sake of his brother, Judah reward was that the Kings of Israel will come from his tribe.

But where exactly is the humility? Didn’t Judah proclaim that he was better, stronger and more worthy?

Human nature is that when we want to be selected for some important position, we will explain very well how we are better suited for it than others. Yet when it comes to a situation where someone needs to take responsibility, but no one wants to do it, we suddenly become the most humble people on earth: “I’m really not good enough, there are more talented others that are more suitable.”

Judah teaches us what real humility is. We need to take responsibility. Even if it requires a little bit of arrogance. Because what is important is the goal, not our ego.

Let’s think about it next time we will find ourselves in a situation that requires someone to take responsibility. Let’s not hide behind a fake modesty and say that others can better save the situation. Let’s utilize our abilities and talents to do the right thing.

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.