Inspired by Reb Kalonymos Kalman's ideal of a group of people coming together with the common goal of enhancing their service of God, increasing their sensitivity to all things spiritual, strengthening their love of acheinu kol beis Yisrael, and unlocking the enormous potential that we all have to cleave to the Almighty.

Interaction and discussion of practical ideas and concepts toward this end, culled from any Torah true source is welcome and appreciated.

Observations and personal experiences are also welcome; the point is to grow!

Friday, February 25, 2011

אם תעירו ואם תעוררו את האהבה עד שתחפץ (שיר השירים ב:ז
 The RaMBaN (in HaEmunah v'haBitachon 19, which can be found in the Kisvei RaMBaN [thank you Reb Ally!!!]) has a wonderful interpretation of this thrice-repeated verse in Song of Songs:

When you feel an awakening of sorts, a stirring of the soul, a thought or desire to do a good deed - don't let it get away! The verse says " shetechpatz" - that is, until you have taken that his'orrerus and placed it in something tangible (a chefetz in Hebrew), enclothed it in a physical deed, you run the risk of losing that feeling. The only way to capture that fleeting sense of "goodwill" is to turn it into something real.

For example, Rav Moshe Weinberger relates that when he feels an urge to do teshuva, he begins humming the liturgy from the High Holy Days in order to retain that feeling.

As a tool for shmirat einayim, I find myself quoting the verse "...and do not stray after your hearts and after your eyes" loudly with the cantillation notes (this also earns me a lot of stares, which ultimately adds to the dissuasive effect as well).

Memorizing a chapter of Tehillim can be useful for this idea, or carrying a little sefer to learn something quickly when the feeling arises...

For more on this topic, see Ohr Gedalyahu on Lech L'Cha; Hachsharas Avreichim (page 109); and Imrei Elimelech.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rav Yisroel Salanter

Pursuant to Neil's post on Reb Yisroel's yahrzhiet:

From the 1800's until today there have been many calls to reform Judasim. Reb Yisroel's vision was similar. But instead of reforming Judaism Reb Yisroel, strove to reform Jews!

He never wrote books but we have his famous iggeres hamussar which opens "ha'odom chofshi bi'dimyono vi'assur bi'musskalo" - Man's imagination is unrestrained while his intellect is bound. His imagination leads him to stray and graze in foreign pastures, assuring him of the great pleasures that wait for him. His intellect says "Hold on buddy, life is about hard work, restraint, delaying gratification, working towards spiritual goals etc. etc."

So when it's Miami Beach in the sun with a pina colada and many potential "Rebbetzins" in the area, against leaning four hours of gemara followed by a mussar seder where he takes responsibility for his failures in life and thinks of ways to improve his character - who wins?

What time is the flight down south?!

Reb Yisroel reminded the world that what our imagination offers may SEEM enticing but a wise man with a head on his shoulders will get a shtender, a gemara, a mesillas yesharim and begin to create one of the long lost species of our race.

A human being.

A mentsch.

A reflection of G-d Himself right here in the alma di'shikra.

זכות הצדיקים יעזור ויגן ויושיע!!

Love and blessings!:)


Children are given the message that they are only worthy if they succeed.

For this I mourn.

Then they grow up and are never able to shake the nagging feeling that they are not good enough.

A person is special by virtue of the fact that he/she was created in the image of G-d. Period.

After this feeling is internalized we may begin to expect the child to ATTEMPT to succeed.

I don't love my children for what they DO.

I love my children for who they ARE.