Dvar Torah for Lag b’Omer
May19

Dvar Torah for Lag b’Omer

Dvar Torah for Lag b’Omer Based on Likutey Halakhot, Hekhsher Keilim 4:1–4 “Tzaddikim are greater in their death than they were in their lifetime” (Chullin 7b). Why is Lag b’Omer (the 33rd day of the Omer-Count) such a great celebration? Not because Rebbe Akiva’s students no longer died prematurely, but because it is the anniversary of Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai’s passing. Celebrating the death of a Jew, particularly of a tzaddik,...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Emor
May05

Dvar Torah for Parshat Emor

Dvar Torah for Parshat Emor Based on Likutey Halakhot, Shavuot 1:1–3 “…you will bring an omer of the first of your harvest…and he will wave [it]…and you will count…from the day you bring the omer…” (Leviticus 23:10–11,15). The festival of Shavuot is also called Atzeret, which means assembly or gathering. An obvious meaning of the gathering referred to is the assembly of the Children of Israel at Mount...

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How To “Fix” Each Sefira Day
May04

How To “Fix” Each Sefira Day

In Likutei Moharan I, 182, the Rebbe teaches: “Know, that whatever people speak about during the days of Sefira, they are only talking about the Sefira of that day. Someone who understands is able to hear and know this, and if he will pay attention well to what people discuss he will hear them talking only about the Sefira of that day.” Once again, it seems as if we have a lesson in Likutei Moharan which reveals a very lofty idea-...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Kedoshim
Apr28

Dvar Torah for Parshat Kedoshim

Dvar Torah for Parshat Kedoshim Based on Likutey Moharan I, Lesson #34 One of the many things that Sefirat HaOmer, the Omer-Count, teaches us is be here now, you as you are, with now, as now is. Rebbe Nachman tells us that as much as we may already have grown and accomplished in our quest for God, there lurks in our heart some disgrace and humiliation. That spiritual shame breaks our heart, if we allow ourselves the courage and...

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49th Day—EXTRA!

So, in all reality, it’s quite likely that your Sefirat HaOmer has not been ideal. You may feel feel that you are not only not prepared to receive the Torah, but prepared to not receive it, God forbid! If so, now’s a good time to use your Never Despair card! You can count all forty-nine days in this one last day! How so? Rebbe Yisroel, the Koshnitzer Magid teaches: If one did not return [to God], and did not wake himself immediately...

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49th Day

Week of Malkhut, Seventh Day Major sefirah: Malkhut/Royalty-Kingship; minor sefirah: Malkhut/Royalty-Kingship Well, this is it. The final day of preparation. I’m committed to serving the King for the sake of serving the King. Sounds a little circular, but that’s really the ideal form of pledging allegiance—you’re my King and it has nothing to do with “what have you done for me lately.” Towards that end, I will ask for siyata d’Shemaya...

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48th Day (Monday, 17 May)

Week of Malkhut, Sixth Day Major sefirah: Malkhut/Royalty-Kingship; minor sefirah: Yesod/Foundation When it comes to crimes against the government not all misbehavior is the same. There are misdemeanors and there are felonies. But most kings and kingdoms, the smart ones, realize that their subjects will make mistakes: give in to temptation, scoff at certain laws, etc. Although every lapse indicates a buried disregard for the majesty...

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45th Day (Friday, 14 May)

Week of Malkhut, Third Day Major sefirah: Malkhut/Royalty-Kingship; minor sefirah: Tiferet/Splendor There’s a time to be frugal and a time to be lavish. For my family and myself, we don’t have to a tent made from crocodile skin, imported from the Far East. It’s enough if our tent is decent quality canvas from wherever—frugal. But when it comes to making a tent for God—the Mishkan—then whatever it costs to import the finest giraffe...

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44th Day (Thursday, 13 May)

Week of Malkhut, Second Day Major sefirah: Malkhut/Royalty-Kingship; minor sefirah: Gevurah/Strength I didn’t have much time to write today, but it occurred to me that fear has a bad reputation. Of course no one likes to be scared or live with a feeling of impending tragedy, but fear prevents us from doing harmful things, like driving our donkey down the wrong side of the road or sticking our hand in the fire. And sometimes, we know,...

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43rd Day of the Omer (Wednesday, 12 May)

Week of Malkhut, First Day Major sefirah: Malkhut/Royalty-Kingship; minor sefirah: Chessed/Kindness It’s sort of funny, you know, that a lot of ordinary, “at first glance” thinking is really wrong, the opposite of how things really are. What do I mean? Well, for example, to be in charge of something, to be its king, means to take from it what you want, when you want and to tell it what to do. Wrong! I mean, on all counts, wrong. What...

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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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38th Day of the Omer (Friday, 7 May)

Week of Yesod, Third Day Major sefirah: Yesod/Foundation; minor sefirah: Tiferet/Splendor You know what the most beautiful thing about Judaism is? Its people. First of all the tzaddikim. They are so refined and kind. They speak gently, never using an untoward word, even when they have to put us in our place. Their every move can teach us something. Even the ordinary folk, like me, are wonderful, despite our mistakes. We’re always...

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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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36th Day of the Omer (Wednesday, 5 May)

Week of Yesod, First Day Major sefirah: Yesod/Foundation; minor sefirah: Chessed/Kindness A few days ago I mentioned that I realized that certain central components of my being determine the quality of my thinking and behavior. If a certain appetite takes control, just about any behavior or belief that indulges the appetite can be rationalized. The appetite becomes a god, a relentless, demanding god. So it’s a real chessed (kindness)...

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35th Day of the Omer (Tuesday, 4 May)

Major sefirah: Hod/Thanks-givng; minor sefirah: Malkhut/Royalty-Kingship Part of what tortured me when I was a slave to Pharaoh in Egypt was that I knew that there was something, some slavery, going on inside me as well. I don’t think my Egyptian taskmasters—former taskmasters, that is—had any such struggle. But I knew that a part of me, a part I couldn’t see, but that felt more real than my body, was being forced to do unsatisfying,...

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