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

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