Friday, 17 December 2010

Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness - 21

Monday, 13 December 2010

Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness - 20



This weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness is prepared in the merit of
Shoshana bat Pesa z"l and Michel ben Yaakov Omri z"l
for an Aliya of their Neshamot


Shmiras HaLashon Thought

The mother of the Gaon of Vilna and a friend of hers together managed a charity fund. Together they went from one address to another, collecting funds for their various causes – a poor family, bride to be, sick mother etc. The two women had a pact between then that whoever died first would come to the other in a dream and describe her experience in the Heavenly Court.

The friend was the one to die first and true to her word, she visited the mother of the Gaon of Vilna in a dream.

"Matters here are very complex," she revealed. By way of example she continued, "Do you remember the time we went collecting together for the poor and saw a woman from the community across the street? I suggested that we cross over and approach her for a donation, but you made a disparaging gesture with your hand as if to say, 'Why waste your time?' I convinced you to go, after all and she gave us a donation. Know my friend that that simple gesture was taken very seriously here in Heaven and counts heavily against you!"

This was all that the friend was permitted to reveal. With those words, she vanished, leaving the righteous woman with much to contemplate.
                                                                                                (Toras Zev)

There are other versions to the story and each provides many lessons that we can practically take into our daily lives. Lessons of how a small gesture can make a difference in a positive or a negative way. Lessons that even our small gestures are noted in Shamayim (in Heaven). Lessons to judge favourably and not to waste time when working towards doing good for another, whether that be considering a person would not give only to find that they in fact did or not to stop or delay another giving.

Bitachon Thought

A thought to contemplate when you go about your day. We are taught to remember that everything is G-d, there is nothing but Him as we learned in last weeks "Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness" If we stop to think of how this practically affects our lives, consider for a moment a comment many make that you have to decide one thing you are in need of and daven that Hashem provide that only. Why?

If Hashem is all powerful and is in fact everything, and everything is a part of Hashem, why ask for only one thing? Why not ask for your entire needs and then add to this how this will help you serve Hashem more effectively.

Consider for a moment that you met a person who was not able to see or hear or smell (lo aleinu) This person lacked the basic senses necessary to interact with the world and experience the world about him. Would you tell him to ask Hashem only for vision and sight? What about hearing? What about sense of smell? What about sense of taste? What about being able to function independently? What about all the other ramifications of the life he has being confined to such a limited body?

Why not give the person the hope to ask Hashem for ALL his needs?

This is in fact what the Rabbi Nachman of Breslav teaches us. Ask Hashem for everything even the smallest item or thing that you need. Not because He needs to hear your prayer, but to remind you that G-d is the one who provides everything and is the One who Can provide your every salvation and need. This in turns gives one hope, strengthens our belief and enables us to function in this world with joy and inner peace. These feeling in turn fill our hearts with love for the One in charge of all. When one contemplates correctly these thoughts should help one to be able to increase or improve our fulfilment of His will in this world. Don’t just tell G-d that you will be able to serve Him better, but that you will be able to do more and give more to others who may not yet have.

Tehillim Thought

We move on now to Tehillim 2. In the first Tehillim David HaMelech begins with some ideas and thoughts about the happiness of the righteous and the difference between one who is righteous and one who is wicked. In the second Psalm, David HaMelech begins to show us how to both call out to Hashem in every moment and to praise Him even when things are difficult. We are taught that King Davids description of his afflictions and visitations represent the afflictions and difficulties that will be experienced by every Jew and by the Jewish people as a whole, throughout the generations. However, the afflictions and suffering are all linked to his yearning for redemption, the same yearning felt by all Jews. (Meam Loez)

Mazal Tov to Sharon in our Tehillim group who came to Chuppah during this week and is now enjoying being Mrs Klass.

Hope you are enjoying the last day of Chanukah.

The names for this week are to be found on http://lovingkindness.co/tehillim.html

Please remember, if you want names to go onto the list, names must be submitted by midday Wednesday Jerusalem time. Names must have a capital letter for each name and they must be the Hebrew name of the Jew we are davening for.

Thank you for your part in making this Tehillim group successful.

Shabbat Shalom

Shoshanah




Tuesday, 7 December 2010

URGENT Appeal for Our Tehillm Group

 Time is running out and we need YOUR help

Do you spend any time thinking about Gilad Shalit? Do you really want him home safely? Do you know Israel has 5 other soldiers missing in action who have been away from their homes for over 20 years. Do you worry about Jonathon Pollard?

Do you ever stop to think that every Jew in Gulus is also in prison of a different kind?

Yes, there are Big Yeshivas doing wonderful work. But we cant leave it all up to the big Yeshivas and community Shuls. Each and every Jew can do something.

Our Sages teach us of the power of Tehillim. Tehillim are praises of Hashem written by David HaMelech the great great grandfather of Moshiach. Tehillim are applicable to all Jews all over the world, no matter whether you are secular or religious and what your Hashkacha / path is.

We manage an International Tehillim group aimed at increasing unity amongst Jewish Women through the reciting of Tehillim every Shabbos during daylight hours. Our group started small but we aim to have at least 1000 Jewish women. The number mentioned to release our cousins, in return for Gilad Shalit going home.

In an amazing development, Artscroll is interested in partnering with us to have not just 1000 but 2000 Sefer Tehillim that are pocket size with Hebrew, English and Transliteration. This enables all women to recite either in the Hebrew in their native English or to work towards the Hebrew through the transliteration. Artscroll is ready to go to press and we need your help to cover the printing and shipping costs for this special series. Artscroll is generously giving us 8 pages for explanation of the group and to mention the sponsors.

We need just another US$5000 to pull this off.

If we can, every woman in the group who signs up for a 1 year committment of reciting Tehillim with our group during daylight hours on Shabbos will receive their own FREE copy.

Every Jew in whose merit the Sefer Tehillim is sponsored will receive merit every time these Sifrei Tehillim are used.

Every Jew who makes a donation in the merit of a loved one will also receive merit.

Every woman participating in the group will receive both their FREE copy plus merit of increasing Tehillim and Unity within Am Yisrael.

AND we hope and pray that Gilad Shalit, the other MIAs, Jonathan Pollar and all Am Yisrael will finally be set free.

What do you say. Will you join us? Will you make a contribution and help to make this happen? Will you join our Tehillim group.

Please email rebeliyahu@gmail.com or shoshanah.s@gmail.com urgently to join us in this exciting project.

Chanukah Somayach and Chodesh Tov

Shoshanah Shear

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness - 19



This weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness
 is prepared in the merit of an immediate cease to the fire in the Carmel Mountains and to the start of good rain in Eretz Yisrael to fill the Kineret.

Shmiras HaLashon Thought

The story is told of Rav Shalom Hadaya, a renowned Kabbalist that when he moved to Eretz Yisrael from Aleppo in Syria, his followers rented an apartment for him. They found a comfortable, spacious apartment in the Burkhrin section of Jerusalem. Sounds like a wonderful start, but Rav Shalom preferred to live in Ohel Moshe neighbourhood, near Batei Broide, even though the only apartment available was a cramped one.

He explained why he preferred the smaller apartment to the one chosen for him. In Burkarin section, people spoke their native Arabic, a language that Rav Shalom knew well. He was afraid that being fluent in Arabic, he would be prone to overhearing Lashon Hara, which he wished to avoid at all costs.

In Ohel Moshe area, the language spoken was Ladino, a Spanish-Jewish dialect which he did not know. "My family will be much better off not understanding what is being spoken of in the streets," said Rav Shalom. This thought provoking story can be found in "Tales of the Tongue" by Esther Ehrenreich and Chaya Kahan


Bitachon Thought

The second Mitzvah listed in the Concise Book of Mitzvot by Chofetz Chayim is a positive Mitzvah, meaning something we are commanded to do as opposed to abstain from doing. This positive Mitzvah is to know the unity of the Blessed G-d, to believe with complete faith that He is one, without any partner or associate. As we read in Chumash, Devarim 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: Hashem our G-d, Hashem is one.

This Mitzvah is one of the core principles of Judaism as we are taught "Ein Od Milvado" There is nothing but G-d.

A few more details related to this concept include that Hashem is complete and absolute unity. He is not physical or a physical being. No concepts about physical being can apply to Him, nothing that affects a physical being affects G-d, there is nothing like Him and without Him there is no G-d.
We are duty bound to bear this belief in mind at every occasion and moment, this is applicable to both men and women.

Tehillim Thought

We have been looking at the first Psalm. The last verse of this Psalm ie Tehillim 1:6 reads: "For the Lord knows well the way of the righteous; but the way of the wicked will perish."

There are two important ideas here. One is how closely Hashem knows the ways of the righteous, supervising everything for the Tzaddikim whereas He removes His supervision from the wicked. Secondly, the ways of the righteous both provide inspiration in this world and last even after they have left this world. In contrast to this, the only good the ways of the wicked pose is to teach us what not to do, and in the end they perish.

This first Tehillim begins with the happiness of the righteous and ends showing that the way of the wicked will perish, teaching us how far apart these different paths are.


A few ladies are stopping the Tehillim Group. Thank you to them for their Tehillim, we do hope they will return to the group soon. In the meantime, we need more women to join our Tehillim group so as to at least fill these spaces, or even better to come closer to our goal of 1000 Jewish women, uniting through Tehillim.

We are happy to relay that two names have come off the list for good reasons, may we continue to hear good news for Am Yisrael.

Chanukah Somayach to everyone and Shabbat Shalom

Shoshanah

Friday, 12 November 2010

Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness - 18


This weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness
 is prepared in the merit of Hatzlachah and Brachah for all those who have supported Chessed Ve'Emet during their stay in South Africa

Thought for Guarding our Tongues and Ahavas Yisrael

One of the negative commandments states that we are not to shame our fellow-man. As it states in Vayikra 19:17 "You shall not bear sin because of him". Our sages teach that anyone who shames his fellow in public is not deserving of a place in the World to Come. (Talmud Bavli, Bava Metzia 59a). This mitzvah is in regards to actions and speech between man and his fellow-man. If anyone does something to upset another or that s/he dislikes etc, we are forbidden to say something, including through body language or by calling him/her names that they dislike in public.

In the event that someone does something against G-d, this is a different situation with different Hallachot in place.

The seriousness of this mitzvah shows us how careful we need to be with our speech whether written, spoken or body-language so that we are very careful not to cause shame or embarrassment to our fellow.


Bitachon Thought

In the book "The Concise Book of Mitzvot" By the Chofetz Chaim the first 7 commandments deal with our relationship with G-d. I thought it would be beneficial to go through each of these over the next few weeks in assisting us with improving Bitachon or Trust in G-d.

The first positive commandment is to believe that there is a G-d in existence. This means that not only is it beneficial to believe in or trust in G-d but it is actually one of the positive commandments. As it states in Sh'moth 20:2: "I am Hashem your G-d" 

It is G-d who brought everything into being and is the One and Only G-d. As the Chofetz Chaim states we as Jews should affix in our heart and soul that this is the truth and there is nothing else but G-d.

The list of names for this weeks Tehillim can be found on LovingKindness.co 

Shabbat Shalom to everyone

Shoshanah

Sunday, 31 October 2010

A Powerful Message by the Oldest Known Holocaust Survivor



A powerful videoclip that shows the benefit of developing a talent and interest, shows the power of purpose, hope and a positive outlook in life. The oldest known Holocaust survivor teaches us it is possible not to hate and to be aware of the beauty of life.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness - 17



 

This weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness is prepared in the merit of
Rachel Chanah bas Esther for Refuat HaNefesh and Refuat HaGuf
A complete and speedy healing on all levels.

SHMIRAS HALASHON THOUGHT

It once happened that Three Kohanim were sitting together and conversing. Each told the others which portion of the Korban he had received that day in the Beis HaMikdash.
Why did this concern them? Because that day, the Korban was very small, and each one had only received a small part of the meat.
"I received a piece no bigger than a lima bean," said one.
"And I," added the second, "received no more than the size of a small olive."
"My portion was no bigger than a lizard's tail," the third said.
Some Sages sitting nearby overheard their conversation and were shocked by the third Kohen's choice of words. How could he compare the holy meat of a Korban to an impure creeping thing like a lizard?
"Something must be wrong with the third one," they concluded, "if he expressed himself in that manner."
They investigated his lineage and discovered that he was really not a Kohen at all!
                                                                        (Tractate Sanhedrin)

From this we see the extent to which the choice of words that we use can reveal a lot about who we are and our integrity. Is our speech in keeping with who we really are?


BITACHON THOUGHT

One method described for increasing our Trust in Hashem is by acknowledging that He prepares food and sustenance for all flesh. This can be achieved by concentrating intently when saying the verse in Tehillim 145:16 – You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living being. It is also advisable to concentrate when reciting Bircas HaMazon the Brachah after eating a meal with bread, especially where it states  "Who nourishes the entire world" and "He gives nourishment to all flesh".
In addition while contemplating on these, one should contemplate on the fact that Hashem "prepares food for all of His creatures which He created" (With All your Heart – A Practical Approach to Bitachon by Rabbi S Wacshal)

If you spend a few moments thinking about the fact that this means every ant in the whole world, is nourished when it needs by Hashem. Every other creepy crawly not just that we see but that is alive at any given moment in the whole world, receives its nourishment from Hashem. Every fish or creature in the sea, at every moment it requires it, obtains its nourishment from Hashem. Every flying creature or bird when it obtains its nourishment, does so from Hashem. Every reptile, mammal and person at every moment that it requires its nourishment, this occurs from Hashem. This thought can in fact keep one occupied for hours, considering every kind of creature that lives in the sea, rivers, on land and in the air and where its source of nourishment is. To internalize that all this happens at exactly the moment it does and exactly the moment it is needed all by Hashem, over all the world, helps us to have a glimpse as to how Great Hashem is, both in co-ordinating all of this and in knowing which of all the creatures needs fluid or food at what time and in what proportion, type etc.

TEHILLIM THOUGHT

Tehillim 1 vs. 5 gives us a powerful thought to contemplate.
"Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement or sinners in the congregation of the righteous"
Me' am Loez offers the following: "This verse refers to the final judgement and highlights for us that those who have spent their days concerned only with material and physical things and acquisitions, will not have a part of the treasures of the World to Come but rather will be condemned. There is a distinction made between the wicked and the sinners. The sinners being those whose motive was a desire they could not overcome."
This requires more discussion; however, the concept of being condemned for not striving for any part of the World to Come provides much food for thought and introspection. What are your motives in life? What is your focus? Do you eat in order to gain the strength to do an act of kindness, learn Torah, offer some prayers etc or do you eat just for the sake of enjoying varied sensations, textures, foods, company? The latter being purely physical.

UNITY THOUGHT

A number of women who participated in this Tehillim group have left the group in order to start their own group. While everyone has freedom of choice, it is a pity to leave an existing group in order to begin another one as in doing so we cause splitting off rather than increasing unity. At this time, Am Yisrael needs unity. If you would like to be a part of the admin involved in managing a Tehillim group, you are welcome to send emails to friends about this group. We can look at tasks you can do for this group too. In this way we can work on increasing unity and sharing the work involved. Together lets us Hasten the Geulah.

If any of you has some good news to share or a word of inspiration or Torah from your week, please do send it in to share with the other women of the group. It would be wonderful to see a greater focus on the good, both in the choice of words used and in comments sent in, in contrast to the type of information available in most media (newspapers, magazines etc)

I am aware that many women do not like the rule of submitting names each week. A few days ago, one of our ladies submitted a few names for this weeks list. Within a few hours she emailed again that one of the names already had to come off the list. It did not even get onto our list before coming off. This is an example of why we submit names weekly. We want to increase our Bitachon that Hashem can bring about a change in the blink of an eye, yes even before a name comes on to the list for others to see it can already merit coming off, perhaps all that was needed was the act of a caring Jew submitting the name to a Tehillim group.

This weeks list of names can be found on LovingKindness.co

Hope you have a very special and restful Shabbat.

Shoshanah







Friday, 15 October 2010

Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness - 16





This weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness is prepared in the merit of
Rachel Imeinu whose Yartzheit will be on 11th MarCheshvan, the day she gave birth to  
her son Binyamin and his Yartzheit too.
According to one opinion Rachel Imeinu was just 36 years old and according to another she was 45 years old; her son Binyamin lived to be 109 years.
May the merit of Rachel Imeinu and all her tears bring a complete Geulah for All Am Yisrael immediately.

 ----------------------------------------
Shmiras HaLashon Thought

A powerful thought is brought in the book Tales of the Tongue by Esther Ehrenreich and Chaya Kahan regarding the reward for being careful with ones speech.
Our Sages say that some people are lax regarding morality, most are lax regarding improper use of money belonging to others, but everyone sins with traces of gossip and slander. It is a rule in the physical / material world that the more rare something is the greater its value. As an example if we look at metals, copper is more rare than iron and therefore worth more, silver is more rare than copper and hence worth still more, gold is rarer than all the above and hence has the greater value.

The same rule applies regarding guarding our speech. It is rare to find people who master guarding their speech and hence these people are highly esteemed in Shamayim (Heaven) and their reward is consequently immeasurable. One who guards his tongue is given a place in Gan Eden that outshines all of the others.

An aspect of guarding ones tongue that makes it both challenging and more special is that it can be performed from wherever you are. At work, at home, on the street, while travelling, whenever you talk to another, write to another, even in the Shul – basically it is a mitzvah applicable everywhere you are all hours of the day or night. The profit from guarding your tongue can be gained even from just being silent.

We are taught that a person who refrains from doing a sin merits a mitzvah as if he performed a positive mitzvah. Hence if you are able to hold your tongue and not say just 10 words of Lashon Hara a day, that gives you 10 mitzvahs. If you do this every day for a week, you obtain 70 mitzvos, if you maintain this for a month you get 300 mitzvos and 10 words that you managed not to say of Lashon Hara every day for a whole year earn you 3 600 mitzvos a year. All of these mitzvos are gained from not saying 10 words of Lashon Hara.

A powerful thought, may we each manage to master keeping silent for 10 words each day and to keep building on this until we can guard out tongues completely, with Hashem's help.


Bitachon Thought

The Chazon Ish teaches that one should internalise that every situation is brought to us by G-d and therefore not fear a situation itself but rather G-d, the One who brought it about and pray to Him for deliverance.


Tehillim Thought

A beautiful idea is brought in Meam Loez to the verse of Tehillim "And he will be like a tree planted by streams of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither; and in all he does he will prosper." Tehillim 1:3

Trees are named according to the type of fruit they produce. Hence a new sapling is called an apple tree as it will produce apples even before it is actually big enough to begin producing flowers and fruit. It is the same for all other kinds of trees that bear fruit. In the same way, a Jew who meditates in Torah of the Lord night and day, even his preparations for study are called Torah study. Even his eating and drinking and everything he does is called Torah study as everything he thinks, says and does is for the sake of Heaven.

For this reason, a Tzaddik whose every thought, speech and action is completely in keeping with Torah and for the sake of Heaven is likened to a tree planted by streams of water for when he begins a good deed he does not leave it uncompleted. He is like the tree the grows and bears fruit. In contrast the wicked whose every deed is purely for his own sake and desires, without thought to the correct intention or consequences does not produce fruit.

The names for this weeks Tehillim list can be found on http://lovingkindness.co/tehillim.html

For those in Eretz Yisrael, remember today we begin davening ve ten tal umatar libracha, completing our prayer for rain in Shomne Esrei.

Shabbat Shalom

Shoshanah






Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness - Simchas Torah / Shmini Atzeret



This weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness is prepared in the merit of
Eliyahu ben Devorah Gitta for Refuat HaNefesh and Refuat HaGuf

Shmiras HaLashon Thought

In the book "Guard Your Tongue – Adapted from Chofetz Chaim" by Rabbi Pliskin we are taught that strengthening in Bitachon (trust in G-d) helps to prevent us from speaking Lashon Hara. When a person feels that a specific person or organization is the source of their loss of income or prestige, it is difficult to overcome the urge to speak negatively about that person / peoples. However, when one increases in Bitachon, one increases ones awareness that financial matters, success, honour and in fact every detail of our lives are dependent on G-d and this knowledge dispels the urge to speak negatively about another.

Bitachon Thought

Connected to the above teaching, in the book "With All Your Heart – A Practical Approach to Bitachon" Rabbi Wagschal highlights that developing complete Trust in G-d is a gradual process. He warns that the danger of not achieving complete Trust effectively leads to our doubting which in turn can lead us to say such things as "I trusted in G-d and was let down", this response would be incorrect and therefore a sin. The antidote is to slowly and gradually work on Bitachon, increasing little by little until we have a healthy and complete Trust in G-d.

One tip given by the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe on increasing Bitachon is through reciting Tehillim 23, Mizmor L'David.

Tehillim Thought

Still in the commentary to Tehillim 1:2 Me'am Lo'ez points out that just as the Chumash, the 5 books of Moses begin with the word בראשית "In the beginning" (Genisis 1:1) which refers to Torah ראשית, so too David HaMelech begins the sefer Tehillim with praising the Torah.

An important fact is highlighted that if one needs or desires to improve ones character traits, we should not go to the wise men of the nations who also teach ethics and good morals. The reason given is that happiness for Jews is found in the Torah and not any place else, the Torah given to Moshe Rabeinu at Mount Sinai by Hashem, the same Torah we will be turning back to begin again on Simchas Torah in just a few days.

As you will see from the above snippets of Torah thought, each of these links to the next and back again. For Jews all the answers are to be found in the Torah, hence our selecting thoughts to give us chizuk as to the power of Torah as we move into Simchas Torah. May the year ahead be filled with Torah, mitzvos, acts of kindness, unity and many blessings, including greeting the Moshiach.

The list for this week is to be found on http://lovingkindness.co/tehillim.html

The list has been completed today in preparation for Hoshanah Raba and then Simchas Torah, Shmini Atzeret and Shabbos.

If any of you are able to take a look at our main page, we are gradually updating and improving our website and would value your feedback.

As the new year begins, we wish to make a greater effort to increase our numbers to meet the target of 1000 Jewish women. One idea we had is to do an ad campaign or get some press releases out. If anyone has contact with a local Jewish publication and can write a letter to the editor to let them know of this Tehillim group and our goal for 1000 Jewish women, please be in touch with me.

Thank you all for your  kindness and your effort in reciting Tehillim.

Moadim L'Simchah, Chag Somayach, Gmar Tov and Shabbat Shalom

Shoshanah

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness - 14


This weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness is prepared in the merit of 
Yehuda Leib ben Devorah whose birthday falls this year on 
Erev Yom Kippur. 
May he be blessed with a year of good health, and all his hearts desires being fulfilled for the good, a good that is revealed, manifest and visible.

Shmiras HaLashon Thought

Our mouths should express only good and the content of our words should be Torah and constant good will. No ugly words, curses, anger or frivolous talk should escape our mouths. Rather, it should resemble the Supernal 'Mouth', which is never sealed, never silent from uttering good at all times. Thus, one must speak well of everything, expressing benevolence and blessings constantly. (Tomer Devorah by the Ramak)
Bitachon Thought

Rabbi Wagschal in his book "With All Your Heart" – a Practical Approach to Bitachon reminds us that when Am Yisrael were in the desert, our food came in the form of manna and quails sent directly by G-d. He also reminds us that King Chizkiyahu hid away "the Book of Cures" as we were depending on the remedy rather than relying on G-d. These two facts are brought to highlight that G-d provides for our every need in every way. The more we are able to internalise that everything comes from G-d, the more we are able to live up to two powerful verses. One from Bereishit "Noach walked with G-d" and the other from Tehillim "I placed Hashem before me always"

In the year ahead, may we all merit to strengthen our trust in G-d and our awareness that everything we have comes from G-d, hence when we have any need, it is to G-d that we should turn.
Tehillim Thought

In the Me'am Lo'ez commentary on Tehillim, a beautiful point is brought regarding the first Tehillim and how it encompasses the whole book of Tehillim. The first word used is Ashrei, beginning the first line with "Happy is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful". While several ideas are brought about this it is the last thought I wish to address here.

At the end of the Chumash, Moshe Rabbeinu tells us "Happy are you – Ashreicha – O Israel, who is like you, a people saved by the Lord" (Devarim 33:29 from this weeks Parsha – the last Parsha of the Torah which was learned through this week that is finishing, it will not be the Torah portion in Shul this Shabbos). Me'am Loez points out that David HaMelech picks up where Moshe Rabbeinu left off. However where Moshe Rabbeinu spoke to the whole nation, David HaMelech speaks to each individual Jew. We already mentioned how the Book of Tehillim begins, if we take a jump now to how it ends, we see "let every soul praise the Lord" (Tehillim 150 v 6) The first letters of the words כל הנשמה תהלל has the same Gematria (numerical value) of 425 as Moshiach ben David

As we enter Yom Kippur and immerse ourselves in prayer, connecting to Hashem our Creator and the one who provides for our every need, including our salvation, may we fulfil both the first verse of the book of Tehillim, and the last Perek. May we resolve to live our lives walking in the ways of Hashem and to keep away from scorners or sinners. May this joy and resolution bring us full circle to receiving Moshiach ben David and our Final Redemption.

As we learn, Torah, Tefillah and Tzeddakah help to sweeten the decree. We have here some Torah thoughts and will be spending the day of Shabbat which is Yom Kippur in prayer. If anyone wishes to give Tzeddakah to any our mitzvah projects they are welcome to do so.

For those wanting to participate in a special mitzvah of assisting certain Jewish families with their needs for Sukkot, you will find this on our page for Lulav and Succot Project

Thank you all for your participation during the past year, even if you have just joined us. May we continue to strengthen our efforts and to merit to greet the Moshiach even before Yom Kippur.

I don’t know how many of you will have time for additional Tehillim. If you do, the names for this week are to be found on our website

Gmar Chatima Tova and have an easy fast

Shoshanah

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness - Shanah Tova UMesuka


This weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness is prepared in the merit of
l'iluy nishmat (elelvation of the soul) for  Shmuel Yechezkel ben Shlomo and 
Shulamit bat Benzion Mordechai.

Shmiras HaLashon Thought:

A beautiful concept is taught regarding the ability of every Jew to master guarding ones tongue. In the book "Guard Your Tongue" by Rabbi Pliskin – adapted from the Chofetz Chaim, we are reminded that many consider the task of working to guard your tongue to be impossible and hence they give up in trying. However, the fact that G-d placed the commandment to guard ones tongue directly in the Torah itself, is proof that every Jew has the ability to guard his tongue if s/he sincerely tries. May we all merit this New Year to guard our tongues in every respect.

A powerful example is given of a Jew who successfully mastered guarding his tongue. I am busy reading a book of the life of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Schneerson the great great-grandson of the Tzemach Tzeddek and father of the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe. In 1939 Rabbi Levi Yitzhak was imprisoned and interrogated for over 9 months, leading to 5 years of exile far from his home. Throughout the very gruelling and cruel interrogation, while the Russians tried to force Rabbi Levi Yitzhak to admit to "illegal" work and to mentioning names of other Jews also involved, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak was careful to only mention the name of a Jew who was either deceased or had left Russia and therefore could not be harmed. What were some of the "crimes"?
 - establishing a mikvah
 - raising money for needy Jewish families for Maot Chitim (money for Pesach). It should be noted that Rabbi Levi Yitzhak was in fact appointed by the Russian government to oversee the production of Matzah and give his approval to the matzah as the government recognised that Matzah with his approval was good financially.
 - establishing Minyanim when the communists had closed Shuls
 - having contact with Jews outside of Russia (his son was living in Berlin and then Paris at the time and his Mechutanim were also outside of Russia)

As Rabbi Levi Yitzhak pointed out in one interrogation, what is so illegal about a pool of water? Throughout he was able to keep quiet where this action would protect Jews. He knew when to say that he did not remember either facts or names or dates. He knew when to give details and how to answer. Others interrogated as he was were not able to hold their own so successfully. Rabbi Levi Yitzhaks amazing ability in this area displays his having internalized all the laws of Guarding Ones Tongue and the complicated subtleties as to when to state one can not remember even when one has a perfect memory. His incredible love of his fellow Jew and of performing mitzvos  also shines through.

May we never need to experience the difficulties that Rabbi Levi Yitzhak did, but may his powerful example of the potential of a Jew provide inspiration for each of us to master this important area of life as a Jew.

Bitachon Thought:

In the book, With All Your Heart – a Practical Approach to Bitachon, Rabbi Wagschal outlines some benefits of Trust in G-d:
1)    Trusting in G-d gives one peace of mind because relying on G-d's mercy and kindness helps to free us from worry as we read in Tehillim "Cast your burden upon Hashem and He will sustain you" (Tehillim 55:23)
2)    "I trust in Your loving kindness" (Tehillim 13:6) reminds us that contemplating on the omnipotence and beneficence of G-d helps to develop trust in G-d
3)    Rabbenu Yona teaches us that even sinners should hope for G-d's mercy as we are taught in Daniel "not because of any merit of ours do we lay our plea before You, but because of Your abundant mercies" (Daniel 9:18)

May these concepts bring us comfort as we prepare for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur and may our increased Bitachon due to contemplating on these thoughts bring us the merit for even greater sweetening of all decrees.

Tehillim Thought:

Two beautiful stories are brought in the introduction of the Me'am Lo'ez commentary on Tehillim. In the first a noted Tzaddik had a dream in which King David came to welcome a simple miller. King David came playing his harp and rejoicing. What was the occasion? The simple miller had just passed onto the next world and was greeted by King David himself as a result of his reciting Tehillim every day, all of his life.

In the second story, a sage looked down from his upper rooms to the street below and then gathered his students to accompany a burial procession all the way to the cemetery. His students accompanied their rabbi and later asked why they had joined in this particular burial procession. The sage answered that when he looked out of his window, he noticed the soul of King David following the casket.

After some investigation it transpired that the deceased person had a custom to complete all 5 books of Tehillim every day. In return he merited King David himself to accompany his coffin to the grave.

The names for this week will be going up on our website http://lovingkindness.co/tehillim.html
Since Rosh Hashanah begins tomorrow night, if you have not yet sent in names, please do so today Tuesday, to add to the list.

For those who read the names, please do so prior to lighting your candles for first day Rosh HaShanah or print out the names to recite on Shabbat. If you are not able to either read the names or print the names, please just have in mind that your Tehillim is to link with this group and is for all of Am Yisrael and those on the list in particular.

May you all merit a Shanah Tova UMesukah, Kesiva ve Chasima Tova

Shoshanah

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness - 12

Photograph of the Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan

This weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness is prepared in the merit of
Amir ben Eleanora Mira and Miriam Nesse Faiga bat Bayla Chayah
For Hatzlachah and Brachah Be Kol HaInyanim (Success and Blessing in all matters)

Shmiras HaLashon Thought

This Friday, the 24th of Elul is the Yartzheit of the Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (1838 – 1933). Rabbi Kagan became known as the Chofetz Chaim after one of his books dealing with the laws of guarding your tongue. However, he was a prolific author and also wrote: Shmirat HaLashon, the Mishna Brura, Beiur Halacha (more Indepth Look on Hallachah explanation on the Mishna Brura), Sha'ar haTzivyun, Ahavas Chesed, Machaneh Yisrael, Tiferes Adam, Geder Olam, Nidchei Yisrael, and about 12 or 13 more seforim. For more information of the work of Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, see Wikipedia
The Chofetz Chaim was a modest and humble man. However, in addition to his many Seforim, all great Torah works, he also founded the Yeshiva in Radun which later became world famous.

The Chofetz Chaim outlines 31 Torah commandments that are transgressed each time a person either speaks or hears Lashon Hara. Exactly how many commandments are involved in each interaction varies depending on the situation, but on each occasion, many commandments are transgressed.
Anyone reading the list of commandments will understand that it is not only a meritorious act to guard ones tongue but in fact an obligation of the highest degree. (Guard Your Tongue – Adapted from the Chofetz Chaim by Rabbi Pliskin)

Bitachon Thought

Both Rabeinu Yona and the author of Duties of the Heart highlight that an important part of faith is to know and to trust that the one in whom we place our faith has the ability to follow through with what is promised. The only One who is fully reliable in this area is G-d.

Rabbi Wagschal in his book "With All Your Heart – a Practical Approach to Bitachon) adds to this that trust then applies only to those things that G-d has promised which include that there will be Moshiach, that there will be resurrection of the dead, that the Torah will never be forgotten.

Tehillim Thought

In the Introduction to the Me'Am Lo'Ez commentary on the Book of Tehillim, the author points out that the Sefer Tehillim covers all of Chumash. In Tehillim one can find a reference to anything a Jew will encounter during their daily life and through their life cycle. It mentions something about Redemption, something about Yerushalayim and Yerushalayim being re-built. It mentions about the qualities of G-d, the relationship between Am Yisrael and G-d and of G-d's system of justice and promise for Redemption and more. Since Tehillim is so all encompassing, it offers hope, strength and faith to all Jews no matter where they might find themselves.

Welcome to the new ladies in the Tehillim Group. We hope you will all benefit from participating in this International Tehillim Group and that our combined efforts will be received in Shamayim (heaven) positively, with an immediate sweetening of any decrees.

This weeks list of names can be found on our website 

Thank you all for your efforts and participation

Kesiva ve Chasima Tova

We look forward to hearing very good news for all of Am Yisrael and for each member individually.

Shabbat Shalom

Shoshanah

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

URGENT Appeal for More Jewish Women

Shalom Friends

We URGENTLY need more women to join our International Tehillim Group. Tehillim is recited from wherever you are during daylight hours on Shabbos.

Some months ago, an idea was given to release 1000 of our cousins in exchange for Gilad Shalit going safely home. Just yesterday an incident occured South of Hebron where 4 Jews were killed by the kind of people they want to exhcange for Gilad Shalit. We can't allow this to happen. Did you know, that though not reported there have been 4 - 5 incidents on the same road in the past 2 months.

Aside from Gilad Shalit there are 5 other MIAs (Israeli soldiers Missing In Action). The others disappeared in the 1980's. That is a very long time to be away from ones family and Jewish community.

Please join us in reciting Tehillim. Even though you are in your own home or reciting Tehillim in Shul or wherever you are, you still unite with Jewish women around the world. We have just over 120 Jewish women in our group and URGENTLY need to reach 1000 Jewish women at least.

If you are already part of a Tehillim group, thank you for your tefillos.

Our group also receives a weekly email with a reminder to recite the Tehillim and a short thought on Guarding our Tongues, something for Increasing Bitachon and or Ahavas Yisrael and something on Tehillim.

We also encourage the women to give a few coins of tzeddakah prior to candle lighting. Many women send in donations towards our many Mitzvah Projects to help needy Yidden in Israel. In this way we are uniting through Torah, Tefillah (Tehillim) and Tzeddakah.

May it be G-d's Will that our efforts be accepted and any decree sweetened for ALL Am Yisrael IMMEDIATELY.

Thank you for your kindness.

You can join by emailing shoshanah.s@gmail.com or directly on our website at http://lovingkindness.co/tehillim.html

Kesiva ve Chasima Tova

Shoshanah Shear

Friday, 27 August 2010

Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness - 11



This weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness is prepared in the merit of 
Eliyahu ben Zelig Pinchas on the occasion of his wedding anniversary.  
May he and his wife be blessed with Hatzlachah and Bracha b'chol Ha'inyanim, Blessings and Success in every respect and on every level!

It is also the 5th birthday that Gilad ben Aviva (Gilad Shalit) will be away from his family. In the merit of Chai Elul and our Learning and Tehillim, may he receive his personal Redemption immediately.

Shmiras HaLashon Thought

The Chumash teaches us a powerful lesson regarding choice of words to be used in our communication, both spoken and written. In the Parsah of Noach Chapter 7 verses 2 and verses 8, we read of Hashem instructing Noach as to which animals to take into the Ark and in what quantity. In both verses, Hashem says "of every clean animal … and of the animal that is not clean …" Rashi points out that Hashem could have used the word Tamei meaning impure rather than the few words used to explain that these are animals that are not clean. Since the Torah does not use any superfluous words, Rashi explains that this choice of words was specifically used to teach us as human beings not to use any words of a gross or unseemly expression. For this reason use any words expressed in a negative or unpleasant manner but rather, even if it requires extra words to make ourselves clear, we use words in the positive.

The Bitachon Thought and Tehillim Thought
are combined this week in a thought related to Rosh HaShanah.

In the Foreward to the book: "The Laws of Tzeddakah and Maaser" by Rabbi Shimon Taub, Rabbi Baruch Taub (the father of the author of the book, and the author of the foreward)   begins with an interesting dilemma. We read on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur that Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzeddakah removes the evil decree. As Rabbi Baruch Taub points out, there are many discussions as to how Teshuvah and Tefillah make a difference but not as much on what difference Tzeddakah makes. In deed Rabbi Baruch Taub provides some beautiful ideas. In this short thought, I have summarised a few of these points as they provide some inspiring ideas for us to consider during the last days of Elul as we work towards Rosh HaShanah.

Rabbi Taub outlines for us that in many ways the fact that doing Teshuvah (return) alters a decree makes sense as we are coming closer to G-d. Doing Tefillah (prayer) makes sense as we are communicating with G-d but giving Tzeddakah is an act towards man how does this make a difference. He then provides a few beautiful concepts.

The Hebrew word for prayer, Tefillah comes from the verb להתפלל (Lehitpalel) which is a reflexive verb form. Actually the root of this word means "decide". From this we are able to understand that through the act of prayer, we do not change G-d's Mind, an absurd thought on many levels. Rather through praying about a given problem or requirement or request what transpires is that we ourselves change. Since we are no longer the person we were when we began praying, we become worthy of a sweetening of the decree. As the root of the verb states, we are able to clarify what it is we want, why, if our motives are pure or not and what we might need to do to improve our situation or to work towards obtaining what it is that we want. This transformation enables an alteration to the decree in Heaven.

In regards to Teshuvah, Rabbi Baruch Taub brings an illustration of someone who stole something. This person is caught and brought to trial. When he faces the judge, he says to the judge, "Yes, I was the one to take such and such, I am very sorry for doing so, I wont do it again. Can I go now?"

If we consider this logically, most will agree that this is a ridiculous scenario. There are consequences for actions and the person needs to learn how to change his ways.

Yes this is exactly what we do when we come before Hashem. Hashem is the Judge, but here there is a difference. G-d does not want us to suffer, what he wants is for us to return to the correct path of life, a path of peace, goodness, kindness and truth. When we stand before G-d, we are not standing before a human being who is limited and has his or her own prejudices, ideas, difficulties etc. Rather we stand before the Creator of All, the only One who can look into our heart and know if we are sincere, what transpired to bring us to this point, the blue print for the world and for us as a part of the world. G-d as the True Judge in His Infinite Wisdom recognizes when someone sincerely repents and even assists in this process to improve oneself.

Through this process of return to G-d, we do indeed become a different person. Since we are now a transformed person, the decree that had been given to the person we  were is no longer valid as we have now changed, and hence there is a sweetening and even nullification of the decree.

When it comes to Tzeddakah there are several things that take place, to name but two:
1)      Since we show mercy to another aspect of G-d's Creation, G-d rewards you measure for measure by showing mercy to you too.
2)      Through the act of giving or doing a kindness, the person is transformed into a more noble and compassionate person.

May our individual and combined Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzeddakah be successful and received in Heaven for a sweetening of all decrees for Am Yisrael, with immediate effect. Included in this is a sweetening for all on our Tehillim list and for Gilad ben Aviva to return home to his family to spend his birthday with his loved ones.

This Shabbat is Chai Elul, may it be a time of light, healing and redemption for all of us that ever Jew receive real Life in every respect and on every level.

The names for this weeks Tehillim list are to be found on Chessed Ve'Emet Website: Loving Kindness.co 


If anyone has friends or relatives who are not involved in a Tehillim group, please invite them to join this Tehillim Group. Our target is still 1000 Jewish women – our appeal to Shamayim to swap the number of our cousins they threaten to release in return for Gilad Shalit returning home. We are still not yet at 200 women. Jewish women can sign up via the link above.

Kesiva Ve'Chasima Tova to you all and Shabbat Shalom

Shoshanah

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Purity with Dignity helps an Orphan Kallah

Due to certain difficulties that we have found with the mikvaot not co-operating and unfortunately with women trying to take advantage of our Mikvah Project we have had to make certain changes.

At present, donations coming in to the Mikvah Project will be used for women we know personally who are in financial need. In particular, we will be using the donations to assist Kallot from our Wedding Project - Bayit Chadash with their needs to begin their new role of wife and their mitzvah of Taharas HaMishpachah.

We have one Kallah we are currently working with who is an orphan on both sides. Donations still required for her gift package closer to her chuppah include:

Monetary donations to cover:
Mikvah costs for immersing during her first year. 
A white sheet, gown, towel, bag for going to the mikvah, certain toiletries. We do have some of what she needs.

Estimated cost at present for this part of her gift package is 
NIS 600

Donations can be sent via either our Mikvah Project page or Wedding Project.

More information regarding the needs of this Kallah will be going up in the next day or two, bli neder.

Thank you for your generous donations. The month of Elul is a good time to increase in Chesed.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness - 9


This weeks Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness is prepared and written
 in the merit of
Mira bas Tikvah for Refuat HaNefesh, Refuat HaGuf and assistance from Shamayim

Shmiras HaLashon Thought

You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people (Vayikra 19:16).

The root principle of Lashon Hara is speaking derogatory about someone else. The speech that is spoken is actually the truth and it is this that makes it Lashon Hara. As we will learn later, if the information is false or a lie this is known as Motzi Sheim Ra – giving a bad name to another. 

Rechilus is from the word Rachil a peddlar, so too a person who speaks rachilut goes from one to another telling people what others are saying about him – he relates to stories from the one to the next, commonly known as gossip.

Onas Devarim is painful or insulting words (one does worse wrong by words, hurting someone's feelings than by money – Gemora)

Bitachon Thought

We have just started the month of Elul, a month when the King is in the field. A month that is all about the love between the Jewish People and Hashem. As the letters of the Hebrew month of Elul describe, "I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me." This month is all about remembering this special relationship and it is this that provides hope. Hope of a month that will lead us up to Rosh Hashanah in a manner that we will merit a year filled with all our hearts desires being fulfilled for the good in all spiritual and physical matters – a  good that is revealed, visible and manifest.

As Rebbe Nachman states in Likutei Moharan II, 78 (Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum in Essential Rebbe Nachman ) "Gevalt!! Never give up hope! There is no despair."

Chodesh Tov U'Mevorach. May it be a month that is good and blessed in every respect.

Tehillim Thought

In this weeks Parsha Deuteronomy 20:19: "…because man is a tree of the field." The Torah teaches us that we are not allowed to strike down a tree, for a tree is not like a man as it does not come to fight you in a war. However, if you translate the words from Hebrew literally, we read as quoted above – because man is a tree of the field which is a statement rather than a question.

If we work with this concept a bit further, just as a tree has it's roots in the ground and it's branches stretch up to the heavens, so too a man exists on the ground and his actions and thoughts reach up to the heavens. There is a beautiful thought brought in the introduction to the Torah Anthology Yalkut Me'am Lo'ez on Tehillim, that states that when a Jew recites Tehillim, an angel takes those prayers up to the Heavenly throne to G-d Himself. This process is "an awakening from below." When the angel reaches Hashem with our words of prayer, an awakening is created Above and the response to this is provision of blessing or healing or salvation, according to the needs of the one reciting the Tehillim and / or in whose merit the Tehillim are being recited. In fact, the Holy Ari teaches that just as there is a tree below with a process that flows from the bottom upwards rather like the nourishment travelling through the roots to the trunk of the tree and up to the branches and leaves that reach into the Heavens, so too there is a tree above that is positioned in the opposite direction. The blessing then flows from the roots in Shamayim, down through the trunk, to the branches and due to the prayers recited by the Jew are bestowed downwards to the branches below so that they can flow down to earth below. This is a very beautiful and powerful concept as to what happens when we recite Tehillim (and also when we perform a Mitzvah.)


The names for this weeks Tehillim list can be found on our website 

Due to money sent in for names placed on this week's list, we were able to purchase the first volume of commentary on Tehillim in the wonderful series Torah Anthology Yalkut Me'am Lo'ez. In future posts I will refer to this sefer as it is known in Torah circles just as Me'am Lo'ez.

The practise of sending in a donation for names submitted is found under General Points on the page of Rules for Our Tehillim Group Thank you to those who do send in a contribution. We do hope everyone will enjoy the beautiful thoughts on Tehillim found in the sefer. I am sure it will keep us all busy for much time, and am grateful for the donation to enable us to continue to grow and develop together.

Shabbat Shalom to you all, and once again thank you for your time in reciting Tehillim during daylight hours on Shabbos.

Shoshanah

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