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


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