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Arie's Story

Unjustified criticism

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Once, a famous rabbi came to a town and all the inhabitants came to welcome him. Then they all sat to eat and asked the Rabbi to say a few words of Torah. When he finished his speech, his students who had traveled with him, left the room immediately in order to review the Rabbi’s teachings, while the city’s inhabitants stay and continued their meal.

The host, upon seeing the students leaving the room, got offended and asked the Rabbi: “Why did your students have to leave in such a way and run to go over your Dvar Torah? All of us are planning to review it when we get home!” The Rabbi did not answer immediately. A little later, the siren of a train was heard, signaling its arrival. The postman, who also attended the meal, stood up and left to pick up the incoming mail and distribute it. The Rabbi asked the host: “Why did you not get offended when the postman left the meal? It must be because you know it’s his job, and therefore it does not disturb you. It is the same for my students. It is their job to study, this is what they are here for and this is why they went immediately to review what I taught them”.

In our lives, we must not judge people only by their actions. We need to ask ourselves why did someone do this specific action. In this way, we will not get offended and we will not judge mistakenly or unfairly.

Shabbat Shalom,

Arie from the Yeshiva

What I learned from the carpenter

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The Baal Shel Tov was sitting with his students and teaching them. Suddenly, someone knocked on the door. It was a carpenter who repaired furniture and he asked if there was any piece of furniture to fix. They answered negatively, but he insisted that they should search again, because there must be somewhere something to repair.

After the carpenter left, the Rabbi told his students: “We can learn something very important from this man. When we serve G-d, even if we are sure that everything is complete and correct, we need to look again because there is surely something that we can fix, that we can improve.

On the other hand, this does not mean that our work is pointless, since it is not perfect. G-d wants us to do what we can, and He doesn’t demand from us to be perfect, but to constantly strive to be.

Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,

Arie from the Yeshiva

"I will tear you like a fish!"

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This story happened about 250 years ago, in the time of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. The village where he lived was called (and is still called) Mezhebuzh. One time, a dispute
happened between two men and, as it happens many times with quarrels, instead of calming down and forgetting about it, it got worse every day. It got to the point that they were fighting even in the synagogue. One time, before the prayer, one man shouted to the other: “I will tear you apart like a piece of fish!”

The Baal Shem Tov was there and became very serious. He asked his students to form a circle, each one putting his hands on the shoulder of his neighbors and to close their eyes. Finally, the Baal Shem Tov closed the circle by putting his hands of the shoulders of the two students nearest to him.  Suddenly, the students shouted with fear: they saw the man who had just threatened the other actually tearing him off like a piece of fish! The Baal Shem Tov then took off his hands and the vision stopped.

The Baal Shem Tov explained: “Each of our actions, words and even thoughts has some kind of effect. Sometimes, the effect is concrete and visible to all. Sometimes, you need a more spiritual eye to see and the effect”.

Our words, good and bad, our blessings as well as our threats have a big power. Let’s use them carefully.

The worm in the whisky

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In a detoxification center, the speaker wanted to show how alcohol damages the body. He took a glass of whisky and put a worm inside, which melted because of the alcohol. Then he asked the attendance what they learned from this experiment. At first, there was silence in the room. No one wanted to say that this means that the use of alcohol is
destructive.  Then one person raised his hand and said: “This teaches us that whoever drinks whisky will not have worms in his stomach”.

Let’s not make the mistake of this man. Let’s not focus our attention on insignificant things. We need to face reality even if this forces us to changes our habits.


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Once, some people came to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad, with a question: “You always tell your students to pray for a long time while meditating on how great G-d is, how much He has done and continues to do. But we can see they just pretend to meditate, so there is no point in you encouraging this practice, since no one really does it”.

The Rabbi answered: “If you say that they pretend, then we are in a good direction. Because when someone pretends something continuously, at the end, something will go inside him and change him”.

No one should say: “Since I’m not doing it for real, there is no point in doing it”. The above story teaches us that whatever the reason we are doing it, it effects a change inside us.

A very good hiding place

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Many years ago, the houses and most furniture was made out of wood. This meant that in case of fire, it spread very quickly. Once in a village, someone forgot a lit candle on a table. At some point, the candle fell and started a fire. Before long, the house and all the neighboring houses were on fire. The villagers noticed it and ran to put it out, stopping all their occupations. Thank G-d, they put out the fire before the whole village was burnt. 

One neighbor who was there, seeing the walls of his house on fire, ran for safety. While running, he saw a safe place and wanted to get in. But he was a big man and the place was small. Desperate though to save himself, he squashed himself and managed to get in. When the fire was over, he wanted to get out but did not succeed. He shouted for someone to help. Fortunately one of the villagers heard him and helped him to get out. Then he asked him: “How did you get in there?” He answered: “Because I really wanted to get in, I managed”.

This teaches us that with willpower, and even with willpower only, we can overcome all our obstacles.

The beggar who played the lottery

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In a small town, there was a beggar that decided to try his luck and bought a lottery ticket. Finally, he won a very big sum. When a friend asked him what will he do with all the money he won, he answered: “I will build a big synagogue and I will be the only one who will have the right to beg inside!”

This is a story that I heard from my father, Rabbi Mendel Hendel, in situations where he wanted to emphasize that we sometimes put limits to our own selves!

G-d gives us all the capabilities and powers in order to be able to fulfill whatever He asks from us. But many times, we limit our way of thinking and do not allow ourselves free to see things from another perspective.

Shabbat Shalom,

Arie from the Yeshiva

I'm just asking for a friend!

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There was once a Jew who had sinned and wanted to do Teshuva, in other words to come back and repent. This is why he wanted to ask his Rabbi what he should do. But he was ashamed to tell the Rabbi about his sin. So when he went to the Rabbi, he told him he was asking on behalf of a friend who was ashamed to come. The Rabbi understood the situation and answered him: “This is very simple and easy! Let your friend come himself and say he is asking for a friend”.

It is often difficult for us to face our actions. We prefer to forget and not allow anyone or anything to remind us about them. But the real and right way is to admit our sin and understand our mistake. Then, we need to take a good decision which will help us not do it again in the future.

Finally, we need to remember that we are humans and not angels and this is why we are not perfect. Our sin should not disturb us to the point that it will be an obstacle to our everyday life and our service to G-d.

Shabbat Shalom,

Arie from the Yeshiva

The new old school bus

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Once, the Rebbe was walking in the street and he saw the director of the Jewish school checking out a school bus that was for sale. When the Rebbe asked him why he was looking at it, the director answered he wants to buy it, since, thank G-d, there are many students in the school and they need another school bus.

When the Rebbe asked him “Why don’t you buy a better and newer school bus? This one is very old and not in the best condition”, the director answered he does not have enough money.

What the Rebbe told him, I think, is a great lesson for all of us: “Everything is according to your standards. If you are think an old school bus is sufficient, then you will not have enough money for something better. If you considered that a good school bus is essential for the student’s wellbeing, then you would find the needed funds”.

We need not be satisfied with the small, the little, the old but put ourselves high standards and goals and reach for them.

Shabbat Shalom,

Arie from the Yeshiva

The famous doctor of Hannipol

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There was once a Jew who was ill and he asked his rabbi for a blessing for a complete recovery. The rabbi sent him to the village Hannipol (Anipoli in Poland) to see the doctor there, who will be able to cure him. So the Jew went to Hannipol, but did not find any doctor there.

He went back to his town, told the rabbi that he did not find any doctor in Hannipol, and asked him whom he had in mind. The rabbi asked him: “When one of the inhabitants of Hannipol becomes ill, what does he do?” The patient answered that since they don’t have a doctor there, the only thing they can do is pray to G-d to heal them. The rabbi answered him: “This is the Doctor to whom I sent you as well”.

G-d wants us to do many things on our own and not to find them ready. But this can cause us to forget that everything and not only our health is dependent on G-d, and to start relying just on ourselves. We need to stop from time to time and remember that everything comes from Him and not from us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Arie from the Yeshiva

My birthday and the atomic bomb

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I heard a story that I would like to share with you. Once, shortly after the discovery of the atomic bomb, a young boy stopped the Rebbe in the street and asked him if this discovery was a positive one, since it was used to kill so many people. The Rebbe answered: “You have a knife at home, right? Is the knife good or bad? It depends on the purpose for which you use it. To cut vegetables is good, to kill people is bad. It’s the same with the atomic energy. It depends on the purpose for which people use it”.

Today, I celebrate my birthday! On the day we were born, just as on every day when we wake up, G-d gives us new strengths. Each one of us decides how to utilize them. Our birthday is like a alarm clock. It reminds us of the first day that G-d gave us all of our capabilities. It causes us to ask ourselves if we use them in a positive way. The answer is that it is in our hands. We simply need to make the right decision and then act according to our resolution.

Shabbat Shalom,

Arie from the Yeshiva

What to ask for on the day of your wedding

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In one town, there was a custom for each couple to go to the rabbi before their wedding in order to get his blessing. Each time, after the blessing, the rabbi would explain to the couple that the day of the wedding is very important and that their prayers on this specific day are accepted.

Once, the Rabbi asked one bride what she will pray for. She answered that her life until now had been easy and that she would like to ask G-d for everything to continue easily. The rabbi then answered: “In life, nothing comes by easily and it is not right to waste this holy day [of the wedding] to ask for something that cannot be. You need to ask G-d to give you the strength to overcome all the obstacles in your life and succeed in having a home based on the values of Torah and the commandments of G-d”.

The knowledge of what lies ahead of us in our lives always helps. It may not be the day of our wedding but we need to know that life is not easy and that we need strengths to help us to rise above it.    

Someone who has an easy life doesn’t truly live. Because in real life, there will always be something that will stop us and that we need to overcome.

May G-d give us the strength to live our lives truly and rightly, until the coming of Mashiach now.

Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameach!

Arie from the Yeshiva

The lazy bird

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There was once on top of a big mountain a bird that was thirsty. She prayed to G-d for help and G-d sent a wind that brought the bird near a river. But the bird was lazy and it wasn’t even for her, so she prayed again. G-d felt sorry for her and sent again a wind that pushed down the head of the bird until its beak was in the water. But this was not enough for her and she prayed again because she was thirsty. G-d answered: “I brought you until the water. Now, you have to open your mouth and drink. No one can do it for you”.

There are many things that others can do for us. But we can’t rely on them for everything or expect it from them. We need to do something ourselves.

For instance, the holiday of Chanukah starts this Sunday 2/12/18 after sunset. Chabad may distribute candles to light the Chanukiyah. But to actually do it and light our homes and our heart, this is something that each one of us must do himself or herself.

But there can be some more help for the celebration of the holiday! We invite you all to join the Chanukah party on Tuesday 4th of December at 19:30 to light the candles all together and eat the delicacies of Chanukah.

Shabbat Shalom και Chanuka Sameach,

Arie from the Yeshiva

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