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"Serve G-d in Joy, come before Him in song"
A Rabbi and a Minister in a small town are standing at the side of the road with a big sign next to them that says:
CAUTION THE END IS NEAR.
A car drives by and the driver yells "keep your religious babble to yourselves" a few moments later he drives off the end of the road into the river.
The Rabbi turns to the Minister and says "I told you we should just write CAUTION THE BRIDGE IS BROKEN"!!!
Nearing the end
Morris Schwartz is dying and is on his death bed. He is with his nurse, his wife, his daughter and 2 sons, and knows the end is near.
So he says to them:"Bernie, I want you to take the Beverly Hills houses.""Sybil, take the apartments over in Los Angeles Plaza.""Hymie, I want you to take the offices over in CityCenter.""Sarah, my dear wife, please take all the residential buildings downtown"
The nurse is just blown away by all this, and as Morris slips away, she says to the wife, "Mrs. Schwartz, your husband must have been such a hard working man to have accumulated so much property." Sarah replies,
"Property ? ......the schmuck had a newspaper route."
A woman's husband dies, leaving $30,000.
After everything was done at the funeral home and cemetery, the widow tells her closest friend that there is nothing left.
"How so?" asked her friend. "How did a funeral cost so much?"
"Well, the funeral cost me $6,500.
And of course I made a donation to the shelter.
That was $500," she replied. "I spent another $500 for food and drinks for the people who came to see me during shivah.
The rest went for the memorial stone."
Her friend said, "Over twenty grand for the memorial stone? My, how big is it?"
The widow said, "Three carats."
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|Kosher Caffeine - by Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui
The reason for optimism.
"The deeds of our forefathers are a signpost for the children." The Bible isn't just out to tell us nice stories. The stories in the Bible are there to serve as an example, as a teaching and education, a sense of direction for all future generations and under all circumstances.
There are many more people and many more events that took place in the lives of the people mentioned in the Bible. However, G-d chose to include only these stories because they are very special and outstanding in that they serve as a lesson for all people.
There were three forefathers to the Jewish People. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Isaac occupied himself primarily with digging wells. Besides the very literal undertaking of digging the ground to, "and he found there a well of living water", there is something way more spiritual and eternal to this story.
Mysticism which addresses the soul and inner message behind the surface story explains that the job of Isaac with his very forceful energy, the energy of severity, was to eliminate all that covers over the ever quenching wells that lie deep inside the earth.
Since Isaac dedicated that much effort into this end, this characteristic to be unaccepting of how things appear and with optimism to dig for wells, is now found within the DNA of everyone's soul. Similar to parents who bequeath much of their own characteristics to their children, the same is also regarding our forefathers and the genes we inherit as a result of their conduct.
Every soul is considered "the desirable land" of G-d, and deep down inside there are channels of living waters no matter what the surface shows. Sometimes to the eye the land appears to be covered with all kinds of stones and dry earth, an arid and unfertile land, a situation that appears without hope or any reason for optimism, for growth and/or to be useful.
Isaac as one of our forefathers, instills within us the great lesson that with enough dedication and perseverance we must and we can uncover this inside pure and refreshing well of life. Every single person has, and sometimes it may be deep down inside, but it is there, an untouched pure and uncontaminated well of water.
We must never give up on ourselves and certainly not on others.
Some of the greatest sages compared this natural and essential spark of G-d inside to a diamond covered in dirt. The value is always there; sometimes not even recognized by the owner of the diamond him/herself. Rabbi Shnuer Zalman in his seminal book the Tanya explains that every soul and spark of G-d is literally a piece of G-d within each person.
This knowledge and awareness is very powerful and self-empowering.
No matter how much dirt or impurity accumulated within a person because of bad and wrong choices over a person's lifetime, it really is all essentially superficial. The good, the happy, the blessed, is still always there and is never lost.
Isaac and his servants came across much difficulty and challenges to dig up those wells and they never gave up. They persevered and succeeded. There is the eternal inner struggle between good and bad. No one has a free and easy pass to life. However, the knowledge that we always remain "connected" no matter what, reinforces our will and determination both regarding ourselves and in our efforts with others, to never give up.
The moment we reach that little spark within, all the darkness becomes eliminated. The little spark ignites the fire of enthusiasm for all that is good in our lives and in the world around us.
Candle Lighting time in
North Palm Beach Florida
Nov. 1, 2013
Inspiration from the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Until recently, it was always considered the greatest of blessings to have many children.
Wealth is not a mansion filled with silver and gold.
Wealth is children and grandchildren growing up on the right path.
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The Midrash explains that in the blessings that Isaac gave to his son Jacob there are a number of references to the Redemption:
Before the blessings were given, Isaac ate the food Jacob brought to him. Isaac later said that he had eaten "from everything."
Rabbi Nechemiah explained that Isaac had been given a sample of all the delicacies that are being kept for the days of Moshiach.
The first blessing was "dew from the heavens."
This refers to a special dew that G-d will use to bring the dead back to life at the time of the Resurrection of the Dead.
Counts the most.
The one people shall be stronger than the other people (Gen. 25:23)
As Rashi comments, "When one rises, the other shall fall."
Jacob and Esau are symbolic of the struggle between the G-dly soul and the animal soul.
When a Jew's G-dly soul is strengthened and "rises up," he does not have to fight his Evil Inclination in a direct manner.
Rather, the animal soul automatically "falls" in its presence, in the same way that darkness is automatically dispelled in the presence of light.
Living with the Rebbe,
Joy Happiness Enthusiasm..
In this week's Torah portion, Toldot, we read of the birth of Esau and Jacob, Esau's sale of his birthright to Jacob and the subsequent blessing of Jacob and Esau by Isaac.
Jewish teachings explain that the name of a particular Torah portion gives us a special insight into that portion. The name of the portion, Toldot, is derived from its opening words: "And these are the generations (toldot) of Isaac." An earlier Torah portion, Noach (Noah), begins with a similar verse, "These are the generations of Noah."
What is the essential difference between these two portions, as reflected in the Torah's choice of names?
The portion of Toldot emphasizes the concept of descendents. "And these are the generations of Isaac, the son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac."
Toldot, related to the Hebrew word for birth (holada), implies both physical offspring and spiritual heirs. When we help a fellow Jew by teaching him about the beauty and warmth of Judaism, we create new "generations," new spiritual children. Even if we are not well-versed in Torah knowledge or the practice of mitzvot (commandments), whatever we do know we should share with others. Every Jew has the obligation to act as a "candle" unto his surroundings, spreading the light and warmth of Torah to more and more Jews.
The "generations" we create, however, must be "the generations of Isaac"; it is not enough that we produce "the generations of Noah."
To explain: The name Noah is related to the word "n'yacha," meaning rest and repose. Noah is symbolic of a person who is tranquil. It is a desirable state, but one that is less elevated than the level implied by the name Isaac.
Isaac (Yitzchak in Hebrew) is related to the word meaning laughter. Isaac is thus a symbol of the joyful person, one who is filled with laughter and delight. Enjoyment is obviously a more desirable state than relaxation, for the person is not only at rest but is happy.
This, then, is the way in which we are to fulfill our mission as "candles that illuminate": It isn't enough for a Jew to quietly share the light of Torah and mitzvot throughout the world in a sedate and easy-going manner. Rather, as we learn from the Torah portion of Toldot, our efforts to inspire our fellow Jews in particular and be a "light unto the nations" in general must be carried out with joy and happiness, as alluded to by the name Isaac.
Adapted from Volume 1 of Hitva'aduyot 5744
Amazing -- they all had the same dream
Shlomo the butcher was it..
December 1700. It was a cold winter in Poland, and a blanket of snow covered the entire country. The city streets were filled with people bundled up in fur coats, and the countryside peasants were busy warming their homes with wood, and themselves with vodka.
But in the Jewish section of Krakow, gloom and fear filled the air; the children were dying of smallpox. It was the beginning of an epidemic. The doctors were helpless to stop it, and the various home remedies did nothing. Everyday the town was visited with more heartbreaking tragedies. Whom could they rely on? No one but their Father in Heaven.
The rabbi of the community had declared a fast day, then another, then three days of prayer and self-examination. But nothing seemed to work. A week of supplication was announced, but before it began, the elders of the community decided they had to make a "Sha'alat Chalom" (a request for a dream in which they would be given an answer to their problem).
It was a drastic move, but they had no other choice. They purified themselves, fasted, recited Psalms continuously, immersed in a mikva (ritual pool), and then requested from G-d, according to ancient Kabalistic formulas, that He send them some sort of sign that night in their sleep.
That night, every single one of the community elders had the identical dream. An old man in a white robe appeared and said, "Shlomo the Butcher must lead the prayers for the congregation!!"
Early the next morning they met in the synagogue and compared notes. It was clear what they had to do. The 20 of them solemnly walked to Shlomo's home and knocked on the door. When the butcher's wife opened the door, she almost fainted. "How can I help you?" she stammered.
"We want to speak to your husband. Is he home?"
Shlomo came to the door and invited them all in. When everyone was seated, one person began:
"Shlomo, we made a Sha'alat Chalom yesterday. We asked G-d to tell us what to do about the epidemic, and last night we all had the same dream. We dreamed that you have to lead the prayers today."
Shlomo was dumb-founded. If it weren't such a serious matter he would have thought that it was a joke. "I...should lead the prayers? Why I....I can't even read properly. I can't. I mean, what good will it possibly do?"
The elders looked at poor Shlomo and they took turns trying to convince him. "Listen Shlomo, just come and do what you can. You don't have to really lead, just pray in front of everyone. Maybe there will be a miracle, maybe you will begin to read. Just come and give it a try. Everyone is in the synagogue waiting for you to begin the prayers."
So Shlomo, with no other choice, left his house and accompanied them. But no sooner had they entered the crowded synagogue and closed the door behind them then Shlomo suddenly broke away, ran back outside and down the street, out of sight.
What could they do? He disappeared. They didn't even know where to look. They had no choice other than to wait.
About half an hour later the door opened and in came Shlomo pushing a wheelbarrow covered with a cloth. All eyes were on him as he went up to the podium, pulled off the cloth, and lifted an old set of scales out of the barrow. He had brought his butchers' scales into the synagogue!
They were pretty heavy but he lifted them over his head and although his face was contorted with the effort, it was obvious that he was crying too.
"Here" he yelled out. "Here, G-d! Take them! Take the scales! This must be why you want me to lead the prayers, right? So take the scales and heal the children! Just heal the children. Okay?!!"
He was crying pretty loudly by then and the whole place was dead silent. A few men rushed over, helped him put the scales on a table in the front of the room, and the congregation began the prayers.
The next day all the children got better. You can imagine the joy and festivities that followed. A craftsman even created a nice case for the scales, which were left permanently in the front of the synagogue for all to see.
After a few days when the excitement died down, the community elders had to admit that they couldn't figure it out. After all, there were tens of shops that used scales in their town and all of them were owned by G-d fearing Jews. What could be so special about these scales?
The answer was soon in coming. When they went around checking all the other scales, they discovered that without exception each one was a bit off. It was a minute amount, never enough to constitute bad business, but inaccurate nevertheless. It seems that Shlomo used to check his scales twice every day, "That's what G-d wants" he explained. "I just check and don't ask questions," while others checked only occasionally.
Legend has it that these scales remained proudly displayed in that Shul for over 200 years until the Germans destroyed everything in WWII.
by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton, www.OhrTmimim.com
Warmest wishes for a
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui