Recommit to Shnayim Mikra With Noach

Chazal (the sages) instituted a weekly spiritual growth mechanism which takes advantage of the power of Torah learning called Shnayim Mikra V’Echod Targem, which is reading the weekly Torah portion twice in Hebrew and its translation once.

The Shulchan Aruch and Mishna Berurah describe different levels of performing Shanyim Mikra, but here’s the easiest way which will enable you to perform it and achieve its spiritual growth benefits:

1) Read out load the Parsha in Hebrew during the week to fulfill the first Hebrew reading.
2) Read out loud the Art Scroll translation in English during the week. This fulfills the translation component.
3) On Shabbos, during the public leining read along out loud quietly to fulfill the second Hebrew reading.

Each week counts as a separate mitzvah so don’t fret if you didn’t start this year with Bereishis and Noach. You can start this week with Noach.

Noach was a good man
a good man, a good man
Noach was a good man
….In his time
– A Cheder Song

Noach is described as a Tzaddik, but the first Rashi on the Parsha casts a shadow on his righteousness. Dig in to the parsha and rediscover Noach’s greatness.


Update: Rabbi Nebenzhal has a good analysis of the above issue here. Hat tip: Bob Miller

Rabbi Jonathan Rietti was kind enough to allow us to post the outline here, but you can purchase the entire outline of the Chumash for the low price of $14 for yourself and your family.

Noach
#6 Building Noach’s Ark
#7 The Flood
#8 Mt. Ararat
#9 Rainbow – Noach Drunk
#10 The Descendants of Shem, Cham & Yafet
#11 Tower of Bavel – 10 Generations of Noach

#6 Building Noach’s Ark
* Praise of Noach
* The Three Sons of Noach
* World corruption
* “Behold! I will destroy them utterly!”
* Build an ark
* Compartments
* 300 X 50 X 30 cubits
* Skylight – Slanted Roof – 3 Stories
* 1 Male – 1 Female of every animal – Store Food

#7 The Flood
* 7 pairs of kosher animals
* 2 pairs of non-kosher animals
* 7 pairs of birds
* Noach 600 years old when flood began (2nd month, 17th day)
* 40 days & 40 nights – 15 cubits above the highest mountain
* Total destruction
* 150 days

#8 Mt. Ararat
* 150 days till water receded
* 7th Month, 17th day, the Ark rested on Mt. Ararat
* 10th Month, 1st day mountain tops become visible
* Raven
* Dove #1, #2, #3
* 1st Tishrei Noach opened gate of Ark
* 2nd Month, 27th day, land was totally dry (exactly 365 days after the flood began).
* ‘Leave the Ark!’
* Noach built an Altar
* G-d appeased & promises never to flood the earth again
* Four seasons

#9 Rainbow – Noach Drunk
* Blessing to Noach “Be fruitful and Multiply!”
* All living creatures will fear you
* You can eat meat but not flesh from living animal
* Violation of suicide
* Death penalty for murder
* Command to be fruitful and multiply
* G-d promises never to flood entire world again
* Rainbow is sign of this promise
* Noach planted a vineyard
* Drunk
* Canaan cursed: slave of slaves to his brothers
* Blessed Shem and Yafet
* Noach died 950

#10 The Descendants of Noach
* Descendants of Yafet and Cham (Nimrod grandson of Cham & 1st world despot)
* Descendents of Canaan
* Descendants of Shem

#11 Tower of Bavel – 10 Generations of Shem
* One Language
* The Tower
* HaShem scattered them
* 10 Generations of Shem
* 11th Gen. Shem 600
* 12th Gen. Arpachshad 438
* 13th Gen. Shelach 433
* 14th Gen. Ever 464
* 15th Gen. Peleg 239
* 16th Gen. Re’oo 239
* 17th Gen. Serug 230
* 18th Gen. Nachor 248
* 19th Gen. Terach 205 – Avram-Nachor-Haran
* Haran – Lot – Milka & Yiska (Sarai). Haran dies in Ur Kasdim
* Avram marries Sarai
* Nachor marries Milka
* 20th Gen. Avram
* Terach leaves Ur Kasdim with Avram, grandson Lot & Sarai
* Terach dies in Charan

The 60 Second Guide to Rosh Hashanah

The foundation of Judaism is that all existence is dependent on G-d who created, supervises and influences both the spiritual and physical realms of the universe.

In addition G-d created man who was given the tools and instructions to perfect and unify the physical world and connect it back to its G-dly source.

Every year, on the anniversary of the creation of man, G-d evaluates our progress in our mission both individually and collectively and judges what resources and events are necessary to help bring the world closer to its perfection.

Although the judgment is partially based on our past year’s performance, a major determinant is our commitment for the upcoming year.

To what degree are we committed to helping others and increasing our spiritual capabilities and to what degree will we succumb to the always present pull of ego-centricity and self-centered materialism.

The Shofar which was present at the giving of the Torah and will be sounded when we have succeeded in our mission, gives tribute today to the King of Kings. The observance of the mitzvah of Shofar testifies that we are still committed to G-d’s plan and enables the spiritual judicial system to dismiss our mistakes for mitigating circumstances.

May we all increase our spiritual commitments and thereby merit to be inscribed and sealed for a good year the Rosh Hashanah.

Preparing for the Mourning of Tisha Bav

The laws of mourning on Tisha B’av are modeled after the laws of mourning when a relative passes away. One significant difference is, that by a relative the stringency of the halachos decreases as time passes, while at of Tisha B’av increase as we pass from the three weeks, to the nine days, to Tisha Bav itself.

One explanation is that for a relative we feel the loss immediately and most strongly when they pass away, and the pain of that loss decreases as time goes on. Whereas for Tisha B’av it is difficult for us to mourn for a loss that we never experienced, so we need to work on increasing the feeling of that loss throughout the Three Weeks.

With that said here are some direct downloads and links to other sites to help prepare for the mourning of Tisha B’Av:

Torah Anytime on Tisha B’Av

YU Torah shiurm on Tisha B’Av

Torah Downloads on Tisha B’Av

Rabbi Akiva Tatz on Tisha B’av – Destruction of The Mind

Rabbi Herschel Welcher on Tisha B’Av (2006)

Rabbi Herschel Welcher on Tisha B’Av (2007)

Rabbi Herschel Welcher on Tisha B’Av (2009)

Rabbi Herschel Welcher on Tisha B’Av (2011)

Rabbi Herschel Welcher on “Lessons from the Pain of Bar Kamtza”

Rabbi Herschel Welcher on Tisha B’av Directions

R’ Moshe Schwerd on Bringing Korbanos With Our Lips

R’ Moshe Schwerd on How Mourning Brings the Dawn of Moshiach

R’ Moshe Schwerd on “The Morning after the Mourning”

R’ Moshe Schwerd on “Tisha B’AV Mourning and Consolation”

R’ Moshe Schwerd on Tisha B’Av – Past, Present & Future

BT in Difficult Times

B”H

Dear all brothers and sisters at ‘Beyond Teshuva’.

I am writing to you in response to Matys Weiser’s video on YouTube (another convert) – I was so touched and moved when he (as a Ger) spoke of his abject loneliness as a convert – the same applies to me as a BT. I’m sure this is true of so many of us – I don’t understand this – are Ger and BT esteemed more in Hashem’s eyes because of how we prevailed under everything blocking us???

I’m now 54 and was raised in a non-observant family in 60’s UK – my mother’s (grandmother, grt grandmother) lineage was Jewish (Greenberg/Greenbaum, via Poland and Ukraine) but my grandmother married a goyim and was expelled from the family. So, our Jewish heritage was forbidden to be spoken of.

Now, please understand that I “woke up” to my heritage whilst in China – 3 years of the most lonely struggle I could have never imagined, but there was, Baruch Hashem, Chabad and Breslov on the internet.

I thought, after returning to Canada it would be easy to become part of a Jewish community, especially after spending 3 months in Israel, mostly in Sussya and Tsfat (a wonderful Chabad community!!). I was wrong. The local synagogue doesn’t want to know me because they think I’m a Chabadnik (which I am unashamedly so…….my only “Rabbi” for 3 years was Chabad on the net!), any Rabbi I email in my two communities close to me don’t respond – I might as well have stayed in China!!

Desperately lonely Jew here………life was so much easier as an atheist…….but then, Avraham Avinu truly knew loneliness…..and HaKodesh Baruch Hu never promised us an easy road – just to keep walking. Honestly though, with the High Holidays approaching……….maybe I’m to move to another city……..another move, and another and another……

Be strong – for our only refuge is in Him.

Best always,

Julie (Rachel)
jcw58@hotmail.com

Cutting Connections – No More Web Browser In My Home

The Citi Field Asifa regarding the Internet was held last night, so we though it would be appropriate to repost this article that was originally published on May 30, 2006.

As everyone on this blog is aware, many, if not the majority, of gedolim are speaking out against the Internet. On Sunday, May 14 – Mother’s Day in the secular world – I attended what was advertised as an “historic asifa” on this very subject. My sons’ yeshiva sent home notes about it a month in advance, exhorting the parents about the importance of attending. They followed up with a personal phone call on the day of the asifa, and just in case the community hadn’t gotten the message, a car equipped with a loudspeaker drove around broadcasting: “Save our children! Attend the historic asifa!” Under such pressure, I attended.

I must admit, I was reluctant. In fact, when my ride there was delayed, I was happy to be late. But ultimately, I made it there and was persuaded to do something I never dreamed I had the strength to do: I disabled my browser.

The two speakers at the event were Rabbi Norman Lowenthal, a social worker with expertise in young people and Internet addiction, and Ha Rav Mattisyahu Solomon, Rosh Yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha. Both were extremely scary. Rabbi Lowenthal spoke about the predators on the Internet, who, with their smooth words, lure teens into the most exploitative of relationships. And even without those horrific stories, he described the easy access to porn, and obsessive behaviors like checking email and blog post responses up to twenty times a day. This last is probably the most benign of the things he described, but it fit me to a T, and that frightened me.
Read more Cutting Connections – No More Web Browser In My Home

Whitney Houston: Didn’t She Almost Have It All?

Wikipedia says it this way: In 2009, Guiness World Records cited her as the most-awarded female act [performer] of all time. Her list of awards includes two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010. Houston was also one of the world’s best-selling music artists, having sold over 170 million albums, singles and videos worldwide.

So, didn’t she almost have it all?

Like all addicts, she knew what was missing – big time.

Rabbi Shais Taub in his wonderful book, God of Our Understanding: Jewish Spirituality and Recovery from Addiction, says it this way: Our somethingness is not our true essence. Oneness is our true essence. Not that it bothers all of us equally. Some people can live with it. Some people can’t…The real problem that lies at the core of addiction is that addicts are people who are in dire need of a relationship with God but are able to substitute fulfilling this need with a behavior that is essentially self-destructive.

The real problem is that a hollow sound reverberates within our souls once our awards get placed upon the shelf. Awards, applause, and notoriety only take away the loneliness very briefly.

The drugs, the alcohol, the whole bag of potato chips, illicit sex, and gambling can take the pain of loneliness away oh so briefly too. The yearning for that elusive unconditional love only grows more and more intense afterward, though. And the search gets ever more frantic, with the pain being so unbearable that it needs to be kept numbed, so that it can’t be felt anymore…at all.

Addicts are those who can’t live feeling alone, which really means, apart from God, the only source of unconditional love there actually is. Some people, it seems, can handle the separation, but those more sensitive, with their souls more exposed, and aware of the great love that is missing in their lives, cannot.

We may think that babies or pets can love us unconditionally, but that’s not real love; they are just trying to get their needs met. Physical beings can’t love unconditionally, only spiritual entities, with unlimited capabilities, truly can.

If we acknowledge the loneliness that is widespread, and then mine beneath the loneliness, we can discover that each of us is never actually alone. We are all on this amazing journey TOGETHER – with all of our souls connected and amazingly intertwined. We are all here to help each other through, revealing the full potential of each of our souls. Whenever the Oneness becomes clear, the love keeps reverberating.

Whitney Houston, a sensitive and very gifted person, felt what was missing in her life strongly, like many of us have. Being extremely talented, beautiful, powerful or wealthy can lead to extreme anxiety, however, if the source and purpose of one’s great gifts are not embraced, over and over again. Whenever we forget, and get cut off from the source of all our blessings, we experience a similar estrangement. This time, we saw it magnified to superstardom size. The pain from feeling isolated, instead of spiritually in union with the origin of all blessings, became unbearable.

The cause of all of our addictions is the suffering we experience when our souls become blocked off from the infinite whole of which they are an essential part. Abuse causes that blockage to occur, as the intrinsic value of those victimized, their godliness, becomes negated. When that connection gets obstructed, addictions are the desperate attempt to seek whatever temporary relief can be found. Relief is sought to escape the despair that results from the perceived loss of that vital bond.

Even all the awards in the world can’t make that kind of hurting end.

We thrive when we experience the deepest pleasure from the most intimate relationship possible – the one between our essence and its Source. When that relationship is viewed as severed, our gratitude dries up too, as we no longer understand from where all our gifts come.

A powerful G-d-given voice flowed through her. A stirring message can still resonate.

Bracha Goetz leads a spirituality group at Jewish Recovery Houses, coordinates a Jewish Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program in Baltimore, Maryland and is the Harvard-educated author of sixteen children’s books, including Remarkable Park , The Invisible Book and Let’s Stay Safe! You can reach Bracha Goetz at bgoetzster@gmail.com.

Jewish Power Lunch

This post was first posted on Healthy Jewish Cooking and the author’s BT story can be found here.

We’re told that if we eat the right foods, take the right supplements, eat at the right times (and with the right people), exercise, and so forth, we’ll see powerful changes in our lives.

The teachings of the Chassidic mystics, which can be simply defined as “applied Kabbala”, show us another food-related way to power-up. It seems that what we eat, while important, is less important than what our spiritual experience of eating actually is. In a way, eating is ¹prayer.

Likutey Tefilos is a collection of indelibly moving prayers on every topic–you can say the prayers as is, or use them as a springboard to your own personal prayers. It was written and complied by Reb Noson, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s primary student. Reb Noson was instructed by the Rebbe to take his ²teachings and turn them into prayers. He taught that knowledge accumulated without then applying it to one’s life and using it to strengthen one’s personal connection to the Creator, isn’t really knowledge at all.

It isn’t just Breslov Chassidus–Jewish wisdom across the sects and centuries has always insisted that one who is a scholar must be changed at his core by his scholarship–otherwise his scholarship is hollow, indeed.

In the introduction to prayer 47, in Volume 3 of the collection called The Fiftieth Gate (a translation of Likutey Tefilos published by the Breslov Research Institute), we read: “When a person eats only to satisfy his soul and not due to physical desires, G-d feeds him from the trait of truth. Then, when he praises G-d with the power that he derives from such eating, he speaks words of truth. Then this person can perform miracles.”

And: “If…a person is steeped in the desire for eating, G-d hides his countenance from him, and the person is far from truth.”

At the highest level are those who eat only in order to say the blessing over the food as well as because they must in order to live and serve G-d. That level is truth. The rest of us must start from “where we’re at”. Where we’re at can vary widely. Are we mindlessly pigging-out on entire bags of chips or containers of ice cream? Is there a reason that overeating and binging invokes the name of an unkosher animal rather than, say, the kosher goat, which also eats everything in sight?

Are we gourmets, constantly focus on creating and/or consuming tantalizing dishes whenever possible and not just in honor of Shabbos and the holy days? That was one of my weaknesses–I loved the process of creatively cooking and lovingly feeding people and, I admit, receiving praise for my efforts.

Are we rigid about the nutritional content and energetic balance of our foods, unable to bend at special occasions or when guests in people’s homes or unable to allow others to eat what they like?

For me, keeping the weekday meals simple, usually vegan, with the focus primarily on health, was a great place to start. I was first inspired to do this a few years ago when I heard someone say that “she couldn’t help it if she simply preferred the best of everything”. She insisted on travelling out of her way and mine to purchase an extremely expensive, hard-to-find chocolate (one with all the foodie bells and whistle). I don’t recall all the details but what springs to mind was that the chocolate had a delirium-inducing cacao percentage, was made with beans grown organically at the top of a mountain on a tropical island, hydrated by spring water hauled by hand up the mountain in golden buckets, then, when ripe, handpicked by poetry-spouting children under the age of seven, wrapped in handmade linen paper and flown business class directly to the Upper West side. Or something like that. I might be exaggerating a bit.

I had a horrifying shock of self-recognition, albeit I wasn’t that extreme or that extravagant. Seriously, anyone can spend their life cultivating and refining their tastes and strengthening their desires so that they constantly long for the rarest and the best. This does not a meaningful life make.

Yet, this has largely become America’s mainstream food culture. Think the Food Channel and designer kitchens that take two years to build. Think Chicago suburbanites who can easily tell you where the real foodies eat when in Sardinia, Madrid, or Taipei.

We’ve been Frenchified! The American Coasts (and places in between) are now rife with deadly earnest oeno-gastronomes who pepper everyday chat with terms like affineur, artisanal, and achiote.

This lurch towards Roman-empire scale food obsession (what next, ³vomitoria?), has had an effect on America’s sub-cultures, too. American Jews of all stripes from the most secular to the *Super-Orthodox have their share of gourmandising/gourmeting going on at a scale never-before seen. And not just at weddings and bar mitzvahs. Jewish magazines are packed with glossy food photos, recipes by Kosher-chef superstars, and glamorous table settings. There seems to be a food-style war going on between the two glossiest of these magazines.

For some reason, it’s easy to forget that Judaism is less a religion than a totally-encompassing life path. It’s easy to forget that how we approach eating is intricately bound with how we approach Judaism and and also tied in with what we understand our life-purpose to be.

In case that’s all a bit too heavy, here’s something light: my latest favorite hot-weather Jewish power lunch.

Jewish Power Lunch for 2

1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced

1 cup mixed sprouts (clover, broccoli, alfalfa is nice)

1 cup sprouted chickpeas (optional)

2 scallions, sliced

handful of sprouted or toasted pumpkin seeds or almonds

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley, mint

2 cups mixed lettuces

Juice of one lemon

Pinch of chipotle chile powder

1 teaspoon Bragg’s liquid aminos or your favorite soy sauce

Wash lettuce and scallions and check for insects. Toss all ingredients together in large bowl.

¹Prayer in the Jewish sense isn’t about pleading with G-d to give you what you desire. (Although that is sometimes part of prayer). The Hebrew word for prayer is tefilla which is related to the word for judgment, lehitpallel. Prayer is the time where, while conversing and connecting with G-d, you also reflect on (hence, judge) yourself.

²Each of these prayers can be used as part of a comprehensive applied study of one of the Rebbe’s lessons from his powerful magnum opus, Likutei Moharan.

³There probably were no such things as vomitoria at Roman banquets. Scholars say the vomitorium is most likely a myth.

*Super sounds so much nicer in these times than Ultra.

Some Thoughts About Shabbos Shira

Rabbi Dov Ber Weisman – Torah from Dixie:

This Shabbat is one of the few throughout the year that is given a special name. The day we read Parshat Beshalach is called Shabbat Shira (the Shabbat of Song), commemorating the glorious and awe-inspiring event when, after the miraculous deliverance from the Egyptians at the Red Sea, the Children of Israel simultaneously burst forth into a song of praise to Hashem. However, beyond giving praise to Hashem for miraculously saving us, the concept of shira (song) has a far deeper significance in correlation to our mission and goal in life.

After our earthly abode, we will ascend into a purely spiritual dimension to give an accounting of ourselves before the heavenly court. Did we fulfill our mission, our unique potential during our transmigration on earth? At that time, each individual will give his shira, song. This shira is the accomplishment that each of us made in our lives. Each of us will have to give an accounting of how we contributed to the sanctification of G-d’s name and the spread of His glory in this world.

Ironically, those very aspects in our lives that we looked upon as misfortunes and handicaps, whether in personality or in physicality, will be our crown of glory when we get to the world of truth. For example, a blind or slow-witted person will be asked, “What was most precious to you on earth?” That person will amazingly answer, “My blindness or dull-wittedness – because even though I had these handicaps, I didn’t question Your ways.” I did not complain, I did what I could with what I had. I understood that sometimes one need not understand. Some people are born rich, while others are not; some people are more attractive, intelligent, and talented than others. But life is fair, and I recognize that my G-d given attributes are what I needed to serve You, Hashem; and to have someone else’s attributes would only cause me harm and truly handicap me.

This is why our individual shira is so precious and unique; because each one of us has our own unique handicaps, our own little mix of problems. And if despite all that, we don’t give up and we do serve Hashem to the best of our abilities, then these very same handicaps will became our most prized possessions, our crown of glory, our song to Hashem.

Name That Tune or God’s Memory Is Better Than Ours
By Rabbi Pinchas Winston
:


The Torah (and Haftorah) speaks about Shira (song), the specially composed tribute to God for the miracles He performs to save the lives of His people. If anything, Shira takes the focus off our own military prowess, and focuses our attention instead on God, and how, with His help and guidance, we were able to overcome great odds, and to stand up against the world.

How important is saying Shira? The gemora says that had King Chizkiah, during the time of the First Temple, sang praises of God for the miracle that occurred for him (in his war against the massive army of Sancheriv), he would have been the Moshiach (Sanhedrin 94a)! But he did not, and the rest is history, our history, and all that occurred since then.

It’s not that God yearns for a pat on the back from us. It’s more that He desires to elevate us to a higher spiritual plain in order for us to be able to have an even greater experience of Him, the most sublime pleasure possible and purpose of life. Shira exhibits how much we are able to tear away the “veils” of nature from over our mind’s eye, and see the soul of the matter, the hand of God orchestrating all the events of daily life towards an ultimate goal that supercedes any events of current historical importance. Such a recognition serves to “purify” the world, and lead to a period of history of miracles even greater than those such as the splitting of the sea, or the overcoming of tyrants.

I Really Have to Watch What I Say…

I haven’t been writing recently. Both here and my regular blog. There were several reasons, including the birth of my third daughter, things getting busy at work, getting very active in a new hobby, etc. But I think the one overwhelming reason was an incident I had just before Rosh Hashana last year.

A group I belong to has an email list, and we began sending each other “Shana Tova” greetings. One person sent out “Have an easy fast!” Now let me back up a little bit here. I’m sometimes a bit of a jokester. I like making people laugh, usually with light teasing, with emphasis on the light, I never try for mean humor, demeaning someone.

So I sent an e-mail out pointing out that Yom Kippur was in 10 days, and tonight (it was the day of Erev Rosh Hashana) “I plan to Feast, not Fast!” I had just meant it as a joke in the similarity between, yet totally opposite meanings of, the words ‘Feast’ and ‘Fast.’ However, while the group I belong to is a Jewish group, I’m the only observant member, and most of them know I became observant a few years ago (I was a member before I became observant).

My friend took my message not as a joke, but as if I was scolding him about not knowing the difference between the holidays, and also protested that because he was diabetic, he doesn’t fast as it causes medical problems for him. While his message wasn’t scathing, it was harsh enough that I knew I must have really hurt him and led him to think I was telling him he needed to fast. I quickly sent him an apology, and told him I was only joking, again, about the ‘fast’ and ‘feast’ thing, I knew about his medical issues, and that I was by no means telling him what he should or shouldn’t do, nor did I have any right or desire to do so. I worried about it all during the Yom Tov, and quickly checked my email after it was over. He had replied back that he understood, and probably took it the wrong way, and there were no hard feelings.

However, it still really struck me that a casual remark, meant to be a joke, brought such a reaction. I have tried very hard to be sure I was not judging others, not making them feel they should become more observant as well, etc. But I guess there’s always the underlying feeling that someone more observant is trying to force others to be as well.

Please Help Lancaster Yeshiva With a Click of the Mouse

In November 2008, we all did our part in helping Leah Larson win the $100,000 grand prize in the Wells Fargo’s Someday Stories Contest.

Well now we all have a another chance to help our fellow Jews. Lancaster Yeshiva is entered in Pepsi’s $50,000 good idea contest.

A Beyond BT reader describes the Lancaster Yeshiva:

First it was the Mikvah. When the Rabbi arrived in this dwindling Jewish community right in the middle of Amish country, one of his first projects was to build a Mikvah. With the assistance of several congregation members, they raised penny after penny until finally the Mikvah was built. But that was just the first step in attempting to revitalize the kehilla.

Next it was the Yeshiva. Indeed, it is not your ordinary off-the-block Yeshiva. Geared towards bochurim who sometimes fall in between the cracks, the kind who want to be in a yeshiva but are more talented in the hands-on department. The Yeshiva provides a combination of morning learning with afternoon vocational training in residential construction. It is well suited for the kind of bochurim who don’t see themselves as academically oriented and need something different than just sitting all day and learning. As such, it serves a vital need in the Jewish community at large. And it seems to be succeeding. From a recent article in Mishpacha Magazine:

“We started the yeshiva shelo lishmah,” Rabbi Sackett says, “as a means to a different end, as a means to building up the Lancaster community.But before we knew it, we were doing it lishmah. The yeshiva took on a life and a reason for being all its own.”

In other words, in teaching boys how to build, the Lancaster Yeshiva Center accomplishes an even bigger objective it builds up the boys themselves.

But of course running a Yeshiva requires funds. It’s not often that such an easy opportunity to take part in a Mitzva comes along. You’ll be helping this unique Yeshiva itself, and at the same time showing some hakoras hatov to the Lancaster Jewish community by helping it grow into a more vibrant kehilla. Anyone who has been to Hershey park and benefited from the Kosher stand has benefited from the Lancaster Jewish community.

With just a few clicks of the mouse you can help the Yeshiva – http://www.refresheverything.com/LancasterYeshivaCenter – so hurry up vote early and vote often (once a day – per email address) and don’t forget to spread the word!

The Neshamah Project

The Neshamah Project is a wonderful and meaningful new organization.

You may have seen the book we are distributing: The Neshamah Should Have an Aliyah – What you can do in memory of a departed loved one. This new book stands at the forefront of our mission, which is both simple and profound: To help people perform mitzvos in memory of loved ones or friends who have passed away.

Very often, family and friends wish they could do something, anything, when someone passes away – something that would help keep their memory of that person fresh, something that would keep his legacy alive. Yet all too often these goals are not realized because they simply do not know where to start or what to do. When a loved one passes away, many people are inspired to do good deeds – perhaps more than at any other time in their lives.

But they just don’t know where to turn.

The Neshamah Project was created to fill this void. We help people accomplish personal Mitzvah projects – big or small – l’zecher nishmas those who have passed away.

Read a few pages of this remarkable book and we guarantee that you will be inspired – inspired to do a mitzvah yourself and inspired to give the book to someone else, so they too can start a mitzvah project on behalf of a loved one. As you will see, everyone who reads it is moved to give it to someone they know.

You can help spread this important message by telling anyone you know who may benefit from this valuable resource. Do you have a website or online newsletter? Please post information there as well.

You can see more about us online at www.NeshamahProject.org or email us for further information at info@neshamahproject.org.

Do You Have a Rav?

Pirkei Avos says that you should aseh lecha rav – make for yourself a Rav.

What do you think is the most important aspect of a Rav:
– Answering Halachic Questions
– Teaching you Gemora and other aspects of Torah
– Giving you Hashkafic Guidance

Do you have a Rav for all these categories? What categories have you seen others lacking in?

Would you be willing to pay a small fee to a Rav to guide you in these areas?

Do you think others with a Rav would be willing to pay a small fee?

Six Constant Mitzvos

In an introduction to Sefer HaChinuch, the author singles out six mitzvos (commandments) that one is obligated to fulfill on a constant basis. These mitzvos, he writes, should not be absent from a person’s consciousness for even one second of his life. The six constant mitzvos are:

– Emunah: Faith in Hashem
– Lo Yihiyeh: The prohibition against idolatry
– Yichud Hashem: Hashem’s Oneness
– Ahavas Hashem: Loving Hashem
– Yiras Hashem: Fearing Hashem
– Lo Sasuru: Do not stray after your eyes and your heart

Since it is not humanly possible to perform six actions at the same time – and certainly not on a constant basis – it is clear that these mitzvos are meant to be performed through thought alone. Even so, however, it is difficult to understand the very premise of the obligation to fulfill Six Constant Mitzvos, for how is it possible to think about six different things at the same time? And even if someone could theoretically master the art of juggling six different thoughts in his mind simultaneously, how would he then go on to fulfill all of the other mitzvos of the Torah – let alone lead an otherwise productive life?

It would seem, therefore, that there must be a different idea behind the Six Constant Mitzvos.

Making Decisions without Active Thought
How many times a day do we think about the force of gravity?
It is quite possible that days, years, or decades go by in which we do not think about gravity at all. At the same time, however, our awareness of the existence of a gravitational pull in the atmosphere is evident in nearly every movement we make.

We sip coffee from a mug, and then place the mug down on the table. An astronaut traveling in space could not have done that. He would need some apparatus to hold the mug (and the coffee!) in place.

Even the simplest movements we make require an awareness of gravity. We would not be able to walk, lie down, or shake hands without it. Now that we are thinking about gravity, we realize that we would not be able to accomplish very much without its existence.

Although we are constantly aware of the force of gravity, we do not need to think about it on a conscious level. Our actions reflect our awareness of this invisible force as a constant presence in the atmosphere, even though we give little or no thought to it.

The idea behind the Six Constant Mitzvos is that each of the six represents an awareness that you must have. These six “awarenesses” should become so ingrained in your psyche that they should be reflected in all of your actions.

Art Scroll has just released a new sefer on the Six Constant Mitzvos based on a series of lectures given by Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem. Rabbi Berkowitz is a a leading posek and Rosh Kollel in Jerusalem, a pioneer in chinuch and kiruv and co-author of a work on shemiras halashon, A Lesson A Day. In this beautifully written, profound and yet readable work, we see that the mandate to fulfill these commandments is not an impossible task, but something that we all can do. Through stories, real-life practical examples, inspirational insights, and a deep understanding of Torah thought, Rabbi Yehuda Heimowitz, in collaboration with Rabbi Shai Markowitz, have produced a penetrating yet fascinating book that sets us thinking and striving.

Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller New Sefer and Mp3

Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller was in Kew Gardens Hills on Tuesday. Here is the shiur she gave at Congregation Ahavas Yisroel on Chesed in Turbulent Times.

Rebbetzin has a new sefer, co-written with Sara Yoheved Rigler called Battle Plans: How to Fight the Yetzer Hara. Here is an excerpt from the book.

The book draws from the Maharal, Ramchal and the Chassidic and Mussar Masters to give specific strategies for battling the Yetzer Hara in different situations such as when you’re frustrated, angry, bored, egotistical, tempted by desire, etc. Well worth the price.