Friday, August 6, 2021

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Nothing Happens By Chance

A young man once approached the Chazon Ish, Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz ztzl, to ask a pedagogical question. This young rabbi was about to assume the position of mashgiach ruchani (spiritual mentor) in a boys' Yeshivah high school. He wanted to know what moral points he should try to stress to the boys during his lectures. Which ethical principles should he emphasize?

The Chazon Ish replied that the mashgiach should focus on one point and one point alone: hashgacha pratis (Divine Providence). "If the boys come away from your lectures with one lesson, it must be that the world is not hefker (abandoned, in no-one's charge), that there is a Creator and nothing happens by chance! If you manage to teach this to your students, you will have achieved a great success. If you plant within them a deep appreciation for hashgacha pratis, their lives will be changed forever."

The Hebrew phrase, hashgachah pratis, is generally translated as "Divine Providence" but literally, it means "individualized supervision" from Hashem. It refers to the fundamental Jewish belief in the constant guiding hand of Heaven, which controls all Creation - from the orbits of the planets to the flight pattern of a mosquito.

As the Midrash [Midrash Rabbah, Bereshis 10:7] explains: "Rabbi Simon said: There is not even one blade of grass that does not have its own mazal in Heaven that taps it and says "Grow!" And the Talmud states that every living creature "from the massive ox to the tiny flea, is directly sustained by the support decreed for it in Heaven" [Avodah Zarah 3b].

Hashgachah pratis means that Hashem notices, cares, and pays attention to all creatures. If this is true for plants and animals, it is even more so for human beings. Although events in our lives may be masked as "natural", hashgachah pratis means that everything that happens to us is Hashem's Will. As Rabbi Chanina declared: "A person does not prick his finger below (on earth) unless it is decreed for him above (in Heaven), as it is stated [Tehillim 37:23] "A man's footsteps are established by Hashem" [Chullin 6b]

Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler explains how even seemingly natural events are really acts of Heaven. He points out that with minimal effort we can all recognize the miracles of daily life:

Even someone on the lowest (spiritual) level, someone to whom it appears that all events are 'natural', if he will simply desire to think into the matter honestly, he will see that everything happens with direct guidance - that Hashem guides all 'natural' events.

In order to understand how all natural events are really miracles, consider the following metaphor. A man is standing behind a curtain and is peeking into a room through a tiny hole. He sees a pen writing but he does not see the man who is writing with the pen. (Nevertheless, he knows that a man must be there, guiding the pen to write). In a similar vein, the one whose eyes are closed and sees only 'natural' events does not understand that Hashem is at work. All 'natural' events are being directed by Hashem. Just as the pen does not write by itself, so too, events in this world do not happen by themselves.

Rambam cites belief in hashgachah pratis as the first of his Thirteen Principles of Faith which constitute the basis of Judaism. These principles are listed in many siddurim at the end of Shacharis, the morning service, and they are recited by many at the conclusion of their prayers:

I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, creates and guides all creatures, and that He alone caused, causes, and will cause everything that happens.

Why did Maimonides and the Chazon Ish place such a primary emphasis on hashgachah pratis? Why is this principle so important?

Perhaps we can understand this with the insight offered by Rashi. In his commentary on the Torah verse which commands us to remember how Amalek attacked the Jews after the Exodus from Mitzrayim [Devarim 25:17]. The Torah further commands us to destroy the very memory of Amalek.

Why is this enemy of the Jews singled out for total annihilation? Wheren't there other nations who also attacked the Jews? What was so terrible about Amalek?

The Torah commands us to remember Amalek and "what happened to you on the way". Rashi emphasizes that the Hebrew word "happened" is similar to the word "happenstance". In other words, Rashi lists as the first of his three interpretations of this phrase, that Amalek's wickedness was rooted in their attitude of happenstance - as if the Exodus had occurred, and did not result from Providence; as if the Jews were freed from slavery because of geopolitical forces and not Divine Intervention; and as if the Red Sea "coincidentally" split just when the Jews needed to go through, and was not a miraculous event.

According to Rashi's commentary, we can now understand why Amalek was singled out for total destruction. The attitude that events in this world are happenstance or coincidence is diametrically opposed to all that Judaism stands for. It is an attitude which contradicts everything that Jews believe. It is an attitude which the Torah declares cannot co-exist with the Jewish people's fulfillment of their mission in this world.

Throughout the history of the Jewish people, the greatest idological threats have come from the "isms" which espoused philosophies antithetical to the principle of hashgachah pratis. On the other hand, in ghettos and concentration camps, the greatest inspiration that kept Jews alive both physically and spiritually was the unshakeable belief in hashgachah pratis.

Especially now, as we hear Moshiach's approaching footsteps, let us re-affirm our belief in hashgacha pratis as we witness its impact on our daily lives.

Source: Dr. Meir Wikler "Einei Hashem" [Feldheim Publ]

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

On the Heels of Moshiach

Thank you to Tomer Devorah for uploading this video, which I liked so much I decided to put it here as well.  

The subject Rabbi Yaakov Hillel is talking about is something I learned very early in my journey ... why our lowly generation will bring Moshiach.   

Our generation is the lowest one of all.  The earlier generations came from the higher parts of Adam HaRishon, but our souls, in this last generation, come from the heels of Adam HaRishon.  

It's a 30 minute shiur, and Rabbi Hillel is someone you can relate to, his kindness and honesty shine through.

National TV: Messiah is Coming


Sunday, August 1, 2021

Re'eh: An Inner Secret


by Rabbi Alon Hazi


See I set before you today a blessing.....[Re'eh 11:26]
ראה אנכי נותן לפניכם היום ברכה 

Why is the word  "lifnechem" used rather than the word "lachem" - [to you] - which would seem to be the more obvious word choice in Hebrew? 

The inner secret:  The word “lifnechem” means in front of you but also means “to your inside “ 

The word ‘anochi’ appears when the Torah was given, in the Ten Commandments: “I am HaShem your G-d′′ When He says “I am” He uses the word anochi rather than “ani.” 

The word chosen here is parallel that use. The word lifnechem means in Hebrew “in front of you” but also “to your inside.” So it actually comes to say that HaShem was giving the Torah from the inside of Himself to the inside of bnei Yisrael. 

When it says “face to face”   -  The face, pnimi, refers to the penimuyit, the inner dimension. 

Today:  HaYom - means to say that the blessings will come like daylight, in a revealed and renewed way. Like each day is new, like it never came before. 

Blessing: The origin of the word bracha used is found in ‘lehavrich’ which is a word for bending a grape vine down arched to the ground and burying it which causes the grape vine to grow stronger. First it was on top but now it is brought low in order to strengthen the flow of abundance. 

How we bring down the bracha is by studying the Torah and keeping the commandments. 

Have a blessed week, ′′And He will give you rest from all your enemies all around, and you will dwell securely.” 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021


Written by Yehuda Katz

וְהָיָה | עֵקֶב תִּשְׁמְעוּן אֵת הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים הָאֵלֶּה 
And it will be, because [eikev] you will heed these ordinances...
[Eikev 7:12]

Rashi comments that when the Torah uses the word "Eikev" [Hebrew], it teaches us that this is referring to the Mitzvoth that man usually neglects. Eikev in Hebrew can also mean the heel of feet, meaning the commandments that a person might "step" on because he considers them to be minor.

We find in Genesis 25:26 that Yaakov was named his name because he held onto Esav's heel when he emerged from his mother's womb. Yaakov comes from the Hebrew root "eikev" meaning heel. 

A question can be asked, What's the connection between "Yaakov's" name and "Eikev" found in our verse?   I would like to propose the following original answer as follows, Bezrat Hashem: When Yaakov held on to Esav's heel, he was telling the world that the very things Esav tramples on are in fact "held" in high esteem by Yaakov. These are the very attributes that Yaakov considers important, namely modesty, humility, honesty, etc. Yaakov knew their value, and held on to them. Esav on the other hand "stepped" on them with his heel.....

This is precisely where Yaakov has the greatest power over Esav and the manner in which he conducts his life. Israel will always be able to defeat Esav as long as they are capable of upholding the attributes Esav tramples on. 

In Kabbalistic thought Esav represents the evil inclination. We are all constantly seeking out methods to conquer that which ails us spiritually, yet here lies the key to our victory. Let us all grasp the very attributes that the Evil inclination abhors, and hold them in high esteem as our forefather Yaakov had done at the time of his birth. Let us all be more humble, modest and gracious to our fellow man.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Trait of Arrogance

וְלֹא תָבִיא תוֹעֵבָה אֶל בֵּיתֶךָ 
Nor should you bring an abomination into your house [Eikev 7:26]

The verse teaches us, noted R' Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev, just how despicable the trait of arrogance truly is.  It is so abhorred that one is forbidden to even allow a haughty individual to enter his home.

We learn this from a verse in Mishlei: ''Every haughty heart is the abomination of Hashem'' [Mishlei 16:5]

We see, therefore, that a haughty individual is referred to as an ''abomination'', about which our verse explicitly states:  "And you must not bring an abomination into your home''.

Source: Rabbi Y. Bronstein

Friday, July 23, 2021

Shabbat Nachamu: The Definition of Real Nechama

 New shiur from Rabbi Mendel Kessin

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Tu b'Av: Hidden Secrets on the Coming of Moshiach

The 15th Av [also known as Tu b'Av] will be this coming Shabbat.  On Rabbi Anava's website, he has these three videos which he suggests we should watch in preparation for the day.

The Secrets of the Coming of Moshiach

The Mystical Explanation of Tu b'Av

The Hidden Secret of Tu b'Av