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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