Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rectifying Past Lives


What happens to people who fail to do teshuvah for past wrong-doings - is there no hope for them?

The answer brings us to the Divine gift of reincarnation.

All Kabbalistic sources are in agreement: the soul (or the portion of the soul that requires it) will be reincarnated to rectify any wrongdoings committed in its previous lifetime. To facilitate this, the reincarnated individual will be drawn to the specific areas which require rectification (tikunim).

According to the Arizal, the Talmud [Shabbat 118b] alludes to this when it tells us that Rabbi Yosef was asked about his father Rabbah: "Which mitzvah was he most careful to perform?" The questioner knew that every Jew is required to fulfill all the mitzvot to the best of his ability. Clearly, however, he was asking a deeper question: if a person is inordinately connected to a particular mitzvah, it indicates that his entire mission in being born was to rectify that mitzvah. According to this, the questioner was asking which particular mitzvah had Rabbah's soul been lacking in his previous incarnation.

The Arizal writes that the same applies to every single individual. The main characteristics of one's spiritual weaknesses are the specific areas one must rectify [see Sha'ar HaGilgulim 16]

Everyone has difficulties in their character traits which G-d gave them to work on in this life. If they were given a problem, it is their task to find out how to use it in a way that serves G-d, rather than going against His directives.

The very thing which a person will have the most trouble doing, is perhaps the one thing they need to rectify in this life.

from the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
adapted by Chaim Kramer

[Igros Kodesh of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, vol 5, letter 1257]

You tell me you are giving the proper amount of tzedaka. However your shalom bayis (peace in the home) situation needs great improvement.

The fact that you are having great difficulties in this area is a sign that this mitzvah has not been completed in your previous life. The holy Arizal teaches us that most souls living in a body have been here before. The reason they come back again is to fulfil those mitzvos that they did not do properly the first time around.

Those mitzvos that they did complete in their previous lifetime do not require any more refinement, and therefore their observance is easy.

However, those mitzvos that one did not complete in his previous lifetime are the ones most difficult to do. The yetzer hara targets these non-completed mitzvos as the ones to oppose most.

The fact that the issue of shalom bayis is so difficult for you proves that it is a mitzvah which needs fulfilment. In your past lifetime you did not refine this mitzvah. Now is your opportunity.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Upside Down

When the light that enters our eye reaches the back of the lens to form a picture the objects appear upside down and backwards. Only when the image reaches the brain is the image corrected, allowing us to see right side up.

As we know, "nothing is for nothing" and everything was created with Hashem's infinite wisdom. This begs the question of why would Hashem make our visual experience so roundabout? Why would our initial viewing experience be, out of all things, upside down?


The gemara [Bava Basra 10b] tells the story of Rav Yosef the son of Rav Yehoshua who became very ill and lost consciousness. When he awoke his father asked him, "What did you see?" He told his father, "Olam Hafuch Ra'isi Elyonim L'Mata V'Tachtonim L'Mata", I saw an upside down world. The rich people who are regarded here as the upper echelons of society were considered lowly people, while the poor wise people who do good deeds and are considered the lower class here were considered the upper crust over there. His father answered him that he was mistaken. He did not see an upside down world, but rather the world as it truly is. The world we live in is the upside down world.

Every one of our 248 physical limbs mirrors a spiritual limb. Our eyes are our main interface with the world beyond us. Yet the image the world projects is upside down. Only when the image enters our brain and we use our mind to process it, do we make heads and tails of it. The same holds true for the story behind the picture. What we see at first glance without using our Sechel [inteligence] - is always upside down. Just like the brain processes images and straightens them out, so too our brain must use its unbiased intelligence to make sense of the things we see.

Just like flipping an image, understanding the story is meant to be simple and a routine operation as the Pasuk [Koheles 7:29] says, "Asa HaElokim Es Ha'Adam Yashar", Hashem made a person straight. Unfortunately we all have forces within us that interfere with this process, be they poor Middos [traits] or selfish motives. We let these things take over our brain, as the pasuk concludes "V'Heima Bikshu Cheshbonos Rabbim". But the choice is our to see the world with clarity if only we choose to do so.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Love Packages


by  Rabbi Aron Moss

Question of the Week:

My son recently died in an accident. I would like to know if he can see or hear us here on earth. Is he still aware of us now that he is in Heaven? Your comments would be appreciated.

Mum missing her son.

Answer:

The mystery of death is one that we cannot truly understand. Why some souls come down here for so short, only to be taken away from us, we cannot explain.

But we know that only the body dies, not the soul. And it is the soul of a person whom we love. Our connection with our loved ones is not with their physical presence, but their person, their love, their spirit. And that relationship never goes away. It just takes another form.

The Rebbe once spoke to a mother who was inconsolable after the loss of her son. He said to her: "What if I told you that your son isn't dead? Rather he has gone away to a place where he is safe and happy. He feels no pain, he has no fear, he has no regrets. You can't see him. But you can send him love packages, and he will receive them and enjoy them. If I told you this, would things be different?"

She thought about it and said, "Well, I guess the pain would not be quite so unbearable if I knew he was safe and I could tell him I love him."

"Well," the Rebbe said to her, "this is the case. Your son is in heaven where he is at peace. And he can still feel your love. The love packages you send to him are the mitzvos, the good deeds you do in his memory and in his honour. When you give a coin to charity, say a prayer, light a candle, be kind to those in need, and you have him in mind, he receives a flow of love from you every time. His soul up there is elevated when down here you do good inspired by his memory. Channel your grief into a positive force. Let the vacuum caused by the loss draw more light into the world."

Nothing can replace the physical touch of a hug, the pleasure of seeing your child grow and learn and play. But he is still with you. And he knows that he is blessed with a loving mother who will always think of him.
We don't know why it has to be this way. But one day, we will be reunited with the souls of our loved ones, and the pain will be no more. May that day come soon.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Soul Searching

"A man or woman who distinguishes himself (or herself) by taking a Nazirite vow of abstinence for the sake of Hashem" [Naso 6:2]

Rashi asks "Why was the Torah portion of the nazir put adjacent to the portion of the sotah (a woman who deviated from moral behaviour)? To tell you that anyone who sees a sotah in her disgrace should take upon himself to abstain from wine [by becoming a nazir]."

Whenever a person sees something improper, he must think: "Why has Heaven shown this impure thing to me?" He must do some serious soul-searching and attempt to strengthen himself in his Divine service.


R' Yisrael Salanter once caught a bad cold. The first day of his illness, he spent the entire day worrying.

"Why is the Rav so worried?" asked one of his close disciples. "Baruch Hashem, it's just a cold and it will not pose any serious threat to your health."

"It is not my health that concerns me" responded R' Salanter. "I worry over what it states in Mishlei: "Colds and traps are in the path of the stubborn" [Mishlei 22:5] "This verse is evidence that I was stricken with a cold on account of possessing the terrible trait of stubbornness".

Only once evening had arrived and R' Salanter had thoroughly examined his deeds without finding the trait of stubbornness within himself, was his mind put to rest.

[Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein]

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Right Path

"Of Yetzer, the Yitzri family; of Shilem, the Shilemi family" [Bamidbar 26:49]

This verse, said the Chofetz Chaim, can be expounded upon in the following manner:

"Of Yetzer" - One who succumbs to the lure of the yetzer hara (evil inclination) will immediately find himself in the company of the "Yitzri family" - the members of the yetzer hara's family are all more than ready to help him along the path of wickedness.

"Of Shilem" - But one who strives for perfection (sheleimus) will find himself in the company of the "Shilemi family" - those who fear Heaven and have achieved spiritual perfection will help him along the upright path.

"In the path that a man wishes to go, he is led" [Makkos 10b]

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Overcoming Obstacles


Always remember: You are never given an obstacle you cannot overcome. [Rebbe Nachman of Breslov]

The Rebbe Maharash innovated the concept of "L'chatchila ariber".  The approach of l'chatchila Ariber teaches that if we come upon an obstacle to a task we are involved in, or an obstacle to a mitzva or project or good deed which comes our way (or we pursue), we should overcome the obstacle in the most direct manner. The Rebbe Maharash explained that while some people propose that when confronted with an obstacle the best route is to go around, or under it -- and the Rebbe Maharash says: "And I say one has to go l'chatchila ariber [from the start, go over it]."


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When You Carry Valuable Merchandise

The Ohr HaMeir says that in life there are certain people who have it easy. Everything goes smooth for them and no obstacles stand in their way. They think that they have reached perfection, they are on top of the world. On the other hand some people cannot catch a break. Every time they make a move something goes wrong. Are they traveling on the wrong road?

The Ohr HaMeir explains with a Mashal. If someone is traveling on the road carrying a sack of wheat husks, his trip is easy. He can travel wherever he wants, for as long as he wants, feeling secure and knowing no one will rob him of his goods. However, if he is carrying a satchel of precious stones he sweats every step, knowing that he is a hunted man.

Dovid HaMelech says in L'Dovid Hashem Ori [Tehilim 27:3] "Im Takum Alai Milchama B'Zos Ani Botei'ach" - if the enemy is constantly attacking me, in this I find confidence. Why? If my path in life was devoid of any value I would not encounter constant resistance from the Yetzer Hara. The fact that there is an obstacle in my path at every turn is a sign that I, my actions, goals, and ambitions are very valuable. So valuable that the Yetzer Hara is throwing all his resources at me to stop from accomplishing my dreams.


Source: Revach L'Neshama

Thursday, May 8, 2014