Have Faith In Your Prayers
Jan16

Have Faith In Your Prayers

We all want and need different things. Sometimes those things are spiritual, like feeling closeness with God or working on our own character traits. Sometimes they are physical needs, like a working car, a reasonably-priced house, and the like. Whatever we need, Reb Noson teaches that prayer is the way to bring about a manifestation or “birth” of these blessings into our lives. But doesn’t this sound too easy? Not really. In order to...

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The Secret of the Redemption
Dec25

The Secret of the Redemption

“Jacob called for his sons and said, ’Come together’… ‘Gather together’” (Genesis 49:1-2). Jacob wanted to reveal the time of the Redemption to his children, but the Divine Presence left him (Rashi). It was the end of Jacob’s life and he had brought together all of his holy offspring, the twelve tribes. Jacob had accomplished what no one before him had: he merited having only righteous children. In this great gathering of holy...

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The Message In The Menorah
Dec12

The Message In The Menorah

Each year when Chanukah time swings around, fond memories of lighting the menorah come to mind. I remember being with my family, singing Maoz Tzur and eating latkes with applesauce. But year after year as we continue to light the menorah, are these experiences just a nostalgic ritual, or do they grow and become exciting and ever more meaningful? The laws of lighting the Chanukah menorah contain some interesting contrasts. On the one...

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A Chassidishe Maaseh #2
Jul03

A Chassidishe Maaseh #2

Shivchei HaBaal Shem Tov #60 Reb Yosef the Melamed (cheder* teacher) once visited Linitz and told the following story. Reb Yosef was a trustworthy individual and held money in escrow for many people. During a certain period, he had many people’s money in his care. One of those people was the rebbetzin** of his town, Mezritch. The government canceled the local currency. This led to a dispute between the rebbetzin and Reb Yosef. Reb...

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Questions—and Answers
Apr11

Questions—and Answers

Part of the freedom process that culminates in the existence and celebration of Pesach is asking questions. You’ve got to ask! The son “who doesn’t know how to ask” is not, according to the Maharal of Prague, someone who is unwise. He is someone who is indifferent, someone who is criminally negligent. Rebbe Nachman teaches (Likutey Moharan I, Lesson #5) that we have to look around in the world and see what needs fixing—perhaps...

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Erase Their Name?
Mar25

Erase Their Name?

I thought I was imagining the dearth of media coverage on the recent (Adar-2 5771/March ’11) terrorist (?) attacks in the Holy Land, but a friend pointed it out so it seems I am not. There is nothing new under the sun. Lack of media coverage reminded me that Haman’s son tried to erase from the royal chronicles the account of Mordekhai’s saving Achashveirosh from being assassinated . It didn’t help the anti-Semites then,...

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Dvar Torah for Purim
Mar10

Dvar Torah for Purim

Dvar Torah for Purim Based on Likutey Moharan II, Lesson #74 “Because initially all beginnings were from Pesach. That is why all the mitzvahs are a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt. But now….” (And [Rebbe Nachman] did not conclude.) Rebbe Nachman did not conclude, so we must begin. Exactly what the Rebbe was implying, perhaps only Reb Noson could say. Even the Parparaot LeChokhmah, Rabbi Nachman Goldstein (d.1894), writing on...

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You Don’t Say
Mar09

You Don’t Say

A friend was upset recently and e-mailed me. He had seen—on a website that attempts to spread the teachings of Rebbe Nachman z”l (Hebrew for zikhrono livrakhah, may his memory be for a blessing)—that the Holocaust was good. And, that in order to hasten the arrival of Mashiach, we would need to thank God for that good. The Holocaust was a specific example, but the rule being espoused was: The only way to reach...

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In Honor of Purim
Feb24

In Honor of Purim

So, we all know Rebbe Nachman said (Likutey Moharan II, Lesson #78), “Never give up! There’s no such thing as despair!” And Purim was—and is—living proof of that. So, I was thinking: Let’s put together a list of quotes that “show once again” that there really is no reason to give up, that salvation and rescue can really happen at the last of the last moments. The quote can be from a book, a movie (whatever that is), a sporting event...

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SHOVaVYM (ToT)
Jan06

SHOVaVYM (ToT)

This is “extra credit,” intended to be informative, not obligatory. This is a slightly updated version of a dvar Torah from many years ago, so if it looks familiar, you know why. The week of the Torah-reading (parshat) Shemot begins the period of Shovavym. SHOVaVYM is an acronym for the first six parshiot found in the book of Shemot: Shemot, Vaera, Bo, B’shalach, Yitro, Mishpatim. (ToT is an acronym for the following two...

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42nd Day of the Omer (Tuesday, 11 May)

Week of Yesod, Seventh Day Major sefirah: Yesod/Foundation; minor sefirah: Malkhut/Royalty-Kingship You know, even in the darkest days in Egypt, we always had the tradition that the Redeemer would come, a towering tzaddik. And we were fortunate. Many of the ancients, the founders of our tribes, the children and grandchildren of our third patriarch Yaakov, lived long lives. Then the saintly Aharon the Levite shepherded us for so many...

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41st Day of the Omer (Monday, 10 May)

Week of Yesod, Sixth Day Major sefirah: Yesod/Foundation; minor sefirah: Yesod/Foundation What’s the foundation of the Foundation, eh? Good question. I’ve discovered that quiet itself is foundational (Zohar 3:115b). When I reach that inner-stillness I feel the strength to carry out my resolutions because that inner-quietness can overpower all the outer-noise. And that strength of my convictions gets carried by my words. I’m able to...

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37th Day of the Omer (Thursday, 6 May)

Week of Yesod, Second Day Major sefirah: Yesod/Foundation; minor sefirah: Gevurah/Strength How does an ordinary person like me become a tzaddik? Like in any other endeavor, it takes practice. But unlike other endeavors you can’t choose when to practice! It’s like being at sea in a small boat. It’s smooth sailing, but all it takes is one big wave and you’re sunk, God forbid! So my motto is, “Be prepared!” I try to anticipate where...

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Take a Bow (Part Two)

The following is based on a teaching of Rabbeinu Yehudah ben Yakar, one of the teachers of Ramban (Nachmanides). We bow down four times in Shemonah Esrai. We bow at the beginning and end of Avot, the first blessing, and at the beginning and end of Modim, the penultimate blessing. One point to consider is, why specifically at these points? Another: Why do our Sages particularly stress the severit of *failing* to bow in Modim? Rabbeinu...

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Becoming Spiritually and Physically Wealthy

In every generation we are required to see ourselves as if we personally were redeemed from Egypt. This applies to every person, in every situation. One of the ways we are ensnared by the bitterness of the exile is through the great toil of making a living. The way to free ourselves from this exile is by bringing ourselves close to the Tzadikim. Through our attachment to them, we merit to break our lust for money and become happy with...

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