Monday, August 29, 2016

Rav Moshe Weinberger - Parshas Eikev - Growing Up

Baruch Hashem, Rav Weinberger has approved this version of my write-up of his drasha from this Shabbos, parshas Eikev. See here for past shiurim at YUTorah.org's website by Rav Weinberger both as Mashpia at YU and from the past 20 years. You can also click on one of the following links to subscribe to the shiurim: emailrss feedpodcast, or iTunes. Please note that these drashos will only be available online for one month. If you notice any mistakes, please let me know so I can correct it. If you are interested in a particular drasha that is no longer online, you can email me (right sidebar) and I'll send it to you IY"H, BL"N.

Rav Moshe Weinberger
Parshas Eikev 5776
Growing Up

What is the nature of the transition of a young man or woman from a child, who is exempt from the mitzvos and punishments of beis din, to bar or bas mitzvah, when he or she is obligated to observe the mitzvos and is subject to the punishments of beis din (Chulin 12a, Sanhedrin 68b; Chagigah 2a; etc.)? Teshuvos HaRosh (Yi’ud Rishonim) explains that a child under bar or bas mitzvah is halachically not considered a bar daas, possessing mature intellect. No one should be offended by this. Even a genius like the Vilna Gaon was exempt from mitzvos as a child. The Rosh explains that the fact that a child is not a bar daas is a halachah l’Moshe miSinai, a direct transmission from Sinai.

Let us look at this more closely. What is the precise nature of this change in intellectual maturity between childhood and adulthood? The Navi Yeshayahu, who offers us so much consolation regarding the upcoming redemption in the haftarahs we read in the seven weeks after Tisha B’Av, also describes eighteen serious challenges the Jewish people will face at different times in history.

The Gemara (Chagigah 14a) explains, based on psukim in Yeshayahu, the nature of the malady of our generation, the last one before Moshiach at the end of time.  Our generation is also hinted at in the name of our parshah, Eikev, which means “heel,” the last and least part of the body. But it also a hint at the fact that our generation is the generation of ikvisa d’meshicha, the footsteps of Moshiach. What is the main issue plaguing us? “The youth will elevate himself over the elder and the lightweight over the honored one” (Yeshayahu 3:5). The Gemara explains that this means that for the youth and the lightweight, “serious things appear to him as insignificant.” Regardless of a child’s intellectual acumen, the key sign of intellectual maturity is the ability to recognize the true importance of important things and not ascribe undue significance to trivial matters. As the Yerushalmi (Brachos 5:2) says, “Without intellectual maturity, how can one make distinctions?”

Rav Yerucham Levovitz, the Mirer Mashgiach, zt’l, writes that one of the most fundamental principles of Yiddishkeit is to properly understand the importance of things. The passuk at the beginning of our parshah (Devarim 7:12) says, “And it will be, because you will heed these laws...” Rashi explains that this refers to the mitzvos one tends to take lightly. The Torah is telling us we must listen to these mitzvos just like we listen to the other laws. We must recognize their importance despite the fact that people usually take them lightly. And the mishnah in Avos (2:1) says, “Be as careful with a ‘light’ mitzvah as with a ‘heavy’ one, for you do not know the reward of mitzvos.” The evil inclination’s main goal in this generation is to cause people, both adults and children, to shrug off profound matters as insignificant and give great deference and respect to trivial things.

Many adults today fail to recognize what is and is not important. A frum Jew will scoff at a man studying in kollel for twenty years, calling him a bench-warmer. But a moment later he will discuss A-Rod’s retirement with the greatest admiration and respect. While there is nothing wrong with appreciating a human being’s ability to hit a ball, the inability to understand what is important in life and what is insignificant is profoundly disappointing.

The Gemara (Sotah 49b) says that “At the time of the footsteps of Moshiach, chutzpah will increase... and [people will perceive that] the wisdom of the scholars becomes putrid.” The chutzpah we see in both children (and adults who think like children) today is a function of the lack of daas, intellectual and spiritual maturity.

Being an adult means knowing that major spiritual potential exists in every encounter one has with others. Every single conversion with another person is an opportunity to give a kind word, offer encouragement, or spread positivity and light.

Simply consider Rivka Imeinu. She offered a drink to Eliezer, as well as his camels. The Torah spends passuk after passuk relating the details of this ostensibly insignificant act of kindness. Hashem obviously wanted us to understand that we would not be who we are and that our people would not be complete without this act of kindness, which ultimately was the sign by which Eliezer made the match between Rikva and Yitzchak. This couple then formed the foundation of the Jewish people, who are the building blocks of a long process ultimately culminating in the redemption at the end of time. The Torah wants us to understand the deep significance in every act of kindness no matter how “trivial” it seems as the time.

Contemplate the kindness of Shifra and Puah, also known as Yocheved and Miriam. They took care of and comforted suffering Jewish babies during Pharaoh’s mass slaughter of Jewish children. All they did was what comes naturally to any mother. They cooed and comforted crying children. Yet their quiet acts of kindness formed the basis for the birth of Moshe Rebbeinu, our redemption from Egypt, and the Jewish people’s acceptance of the Torah shortly afterward, all of which are the precursor of the ultimate redemption. Hashem wants us to understand that the details in life are not so minor. Profound significance is hidden within them if only we recognize their true importance and seize the subtle opportunities for greatness hidden in day-to-day life.

It is a sign of childish immaturity to only appreciate things that seem “big” and important. But truly “big” people recognize the importance of the things that seem small to others. For example, the unfortunate individuals who currently or have previously served as president of our shul over the years are important people in their respective professions. Yet they involve themselves in the countless myriad of details that are an inherent part of maintaining the daily operation of the shul. That is true greatness.

Rav Yerucham, who lived at the beginning of the twentieth century, recounts how, in his time, using microscopes, scientists were just discovering entire ecosystems, whole worlds, in objects and organisms  smaller than a grain of sand. He saw in this a tremendous lesson. If so much exists in mere physical objects, how much more greatness must be hidden in the thoughts, words, and actions of a Jew. He explains, “This is the work of Mussar, to magnify things. Because of the weakness of our vision and the frailty of our hearts, we do not see the greatness of things. But Mussar is the ‘magnifying glass’ allowing us to gaze deeply into the inner essence of things... to draw out from everything the greatness hidden within every detail.”

Consider the mitzvah of bringing one’s first fruits to Yerushalayim. There is no defined minimum amount one must bring. Therefore, one may technically fulfill his Torah obligation by bringing even one seed from one of his fruits, thereby fulfilling his obligation for an expansive field. One tiny seed could justify a person using the prayer found in the Torah (Devarim 26:15), “Look down from Your holy dwelling, from Heaven, and bless Your nation Israel and the land that You gave us, just as You swore to our fathers...” And the Gemara (Sotah 39a-b) explains that, when a Jew fulfills the mitzvah to bring first fruits, the kohanim would offer the prayer, “Master of the World! We have done what you have decreed of us. Now do with us what you promised us!”

How can all of this be? Is it possible that while everyone else comes to Yerushalyim bringing baskets and baskets of luscious fruits to the Beis HaMikdash, one particular Jew brings just one tiny seed to fulfill his obligation and this justifies such profound prayers? The fact that it can is a lesson to us that we cannot judge the importance of an object or act by looking at how big or small it is. We must look deeply to see what significance the Torah places on it.

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s book released on the twentieth yahrtzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zy’a (p. 204), he recounts the following story that illustrates this beautifully:

In 1982, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, who today directs development for the global network of shluchim, was asked by Rabbi Chaim Hodakov, the Rebbe’s chief of staff, to visit the small Jewish community on the Caribbean island of Curaçao, and deliver a speech about Judaism there. One of those who attended Kotlarsky’s talk was a man named Chaim Yosef Groisman, who seemed startled that a representative of Chabad had come to his hometown. Decades earlier, Groisman’s grandmother had told him that if he ever encountered a difficult, seemingly insurmountable problem, the person to whom he should turn was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Now, indeed, Groisman had a problem, and a representative of the Rebbe had come to Curaçao. Groisman consulted with Rabbi Kotlarsky, who was able to assist him. Shortly thereafter he wrote Kotlarsky a warm letter thanking him, and asked him “to tell the Rebbe that a small Jew from Curaçao felt that the Rebbe . . . touched my soul.”

Rabbi Kotlarsky sent a copy of the letter to the Rebbe, who was moved by Groisman’s heartfelt thanks, though distressed by one aspect of the man’s warm regards: “I must take exception to your referring to yourself as ‘a small Jew from Curaçao,’” he wrote to Groisman. “Every Jew, man or woman, has a soul which is part of G-dliness above, as explained in the Tanya. Thus, there is no such thing as ‘a small Jew,’ and a Jew must never underestimate his or her tremendous potential.”

Every Jew, every detail, has such potential packed within it. The greatest tragedy of all is to trivialize ourselves, to fail to see the greatness within. May we merit being big people and may we merit spiritual, intellectual, and emotional maturity, thereby finally earning the complete fulfillment of that which we say in kedushah in Mussaf on Shabbos: “Indeed I will redeem you, the last ones like the first ones, to be to you G-d, I am Hashem your G-d.”

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Rav Moshe Weinberger - Parshas Va'eschanan - When Everything Else is Striipped Away

Baruch Hashem, Rav Weinberger has approved this version of my write-up of his drasha from last Shabbos, parshas Va'eschanan. See here for past shiurim at YUTorah.org's website by Rav Weinberger both as Mashpia at YU and from the past 20 years. You can also click on one of the following links to subscribe to the shiurim: emailrss feedpodcast, or iTunes. Please note that these drashos will only be available online for one month. If you notice any mistakes, please let me know so I can correct it. If you are interested in a particular drasha that is no longer online, you can email me (right sidebar) and I'll send it to you IY"H, BL"N.


Rav Moshe Weinberger
Parshas Va’eschanan 5776
When Everything Else is Stripped Away 


This week, I was thinking about a beautiful Midrash on the parshah (Sifri, Devarim 36). In it, Chazal say, “The Jewish people are so precious that the Torah surrounded them with mitzvos: tefillin on their heads, tefillin on their arms, mezuzos on their doors, and tzitzis on their garments. Regarding them Dovid said, ‘Seven in a day I praise You for Your righteous statutes’ (Tehillim 119:164).” The passuk quoted by the Midrash refers to the fact that Dovid HaMelech was inspired to praise Hashem seven times a day for the seven mitzvos that surround His children as a sign of how precious they are to Him: four tzitzis on their garments, tefillin on their heads and arms, and a mezuzah on their doors. 


The Midrash then continues with a well-known story about Dovid HaMelech, “He entered the bath house and saw himself naked. He said, ‘Woe that I am naked of mitzvos!’ He then gazed at the sign of the covenant on his flesh and began to arrange his praise [after leaving the mikvah], as the passuk (Tehillim 12:1) says, ‘For the conductor, on the eighth, a song of Dovid,’” a hint at bris milah, which is done on a baby’s eighth day of life.  


What exactly happened to Dovid HaMelech in the mikvah? What was the nature of the epiphany he had there? He certainly wasn’t embarrassed by the fact that the other people in the mikvah “caught” him without his tefillin and tzitzis on. First, that is the nature of the place and what everyone would expect. Second, as he was the king of the Jewish people, when he entered the mikvah, everyone else certainly left as soon as he arrived! 


Besides the fact that Hashem told us to, why do we wear tefillin and tzitzis and put mezuzos on our doors? We bind tefillin on our heads and our arms to remind us to bind our minds and actions to Hashem’s will. Wearing tzitzis remind us, wherever we go, of the mitzvos. And the mezuzah reminds us, before we leave the house, to remember Hashem’s will in all the choices we make as we journey out into the world. They stand as reminders to awaken our minds to remember our connection to Hashem and His will – “Seven in a day I praise You.” 


But Dovid HaMelech was bothered by the question: What happens if all of the reminders that keep my actions and thoughts in the right place are removed? What is left of me? Do I still have a connection with Hashem? Is it all external? Do I have an essential connection with G-d? How have all of these reminders affected my essence, if at all? Perhaps this question is what caused Dovid to cry out, “Woe that I am naked of mitzvos!”


It is so easy for us to allow Yiddishkeit to be reduced to one long string of reminders and signs without any change in the nature of who we are, what we want, or the nature of our consciousness. One’s entire Jewish life may only be defined by one’s rebbe, morah, family, shul, yeshivah, and the checklist of Jewish activities one engages in on a daily, weekly, or yearly basis.  These signs of Hashem’s love surround us on all sides and are wonderful. But does the way we rely on them make us into empty shells? What are we without them? Have they changed us on the inside?


How does one act when he is naked of mitzvos? When all the reminders are somewhere else and something pops up on the screen on a person’s phone, even unintentionally, what does he do? What is left when he is stripped of every external reminder and motivator to keep him or her on the straight and narrow? Is he still connected to Hashem and his Yiddishkeit? 


Perhaps Dovid HaMelech’s fear at that moment in the mikvah was about what happens when one takes away all of his external badges of Divine service, when he was truly naked of mitzvos, disconnected from everything outside of himself. He was worried whether, after removing all of the “means” in his life, whether the “ends” had become part of his essence. 


What was his epiphany? He realized that the part of him which was always covered, which was most private, the part of him so internal that it was part of his very flesh, had never left him. “This is My covenant which you shall observe, between Me, you, and your children after you: circumcise for yourselves every male.” (Bereishis 17:10). This hidden sign of “My covenant” is the symbol of the relationship between the Jewish people and Hashem because it is invisible. It cannot serve to jog the memory. It only exists as part of our essence. That was his comfort and the subject a new chapter of Tehillim.


What does it mean to be so connected to mitzvos that one feels connected even when he is stripped of everything in this world, both physical and spiritual? I once read about a Gerer chassid who was interred in one of the concentration camps. Because he had violated some Nazi rule or other, he was decreed to die. But to amuse themselves and torment the other Jews, they decided to kill this Jew by stripping him of all of his clothing and throwing him into a lime pit. This was a particularly gruesome death because lime acts like acid, burning the flesh.  


When the Nazis threw this Jew into the pit to die, with everyone else looking on helplessly, he cried out: “Master of the World! I stand here naked before you.” And because it was Sukkos at the time, he continued: 


You commanded me to take an Esrog, But I have no Esrog. You say that the Esrog corresponds to the heart, and I do have a heart. You told me to take a Lulav and that a Lulav corresponds to the spine. I have no Lulav but I do have a spine. You commanded me to take Haddasim corresponding to the eyes and Aravos corresponding to the lips. I have no Haddasim or Aravos but I do have eyes and lips. And let the cloud rising up from the crematoria be my Sukkah! Please, Master of the World, I ask that you take back my heart, spine, eyes, and lips back up to You and consider it as if I have fulfilled all of my obligations to you! 


Each of us is surrounded by a myriad of mitzvos and positive Jewish role models, environments, and lessons. But if they remain as external reminders which, if removed, would leave us naked of mitzvos, then they will not have ever fulfilled their purpose. Let us merit not to be satisfied with the externals marks of Yiddishkeit alone. May we succeed in driving these reminders of our relationship with Hashem deep into our minds and hearts so that when we enter our version of Dovid HaMelech’s mikvah, we too will rejoice in tour own internalization of our covenant with Hashem.


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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Trading in the Crown - Rav Moshe Weinberger's Shabbos Drasha - Parshas Bechukosai

Baruch Hashem, Rav Weinberger has approved this version of my write-up of his drasha from this past Shabbos, parshas Bechukosai. See here for past shiurim at YUTorah.org's website by Rav Weinberger both as Mashpia at YU and from the past 20 years. You can also click on one of the following links to subscribe to the shiurim: emailrss feedpodcast, or iTunes. Please note that these drashos will only be available online for one month. If you notice any mistakes, please let me know so I can correct it. If you are interested in a particular drasha that is no longer online, you can email me (right sidebar) and I'll send it to you IY"H, BL"N.

Rav Moshe Weinberger
Parshas Bechukosai 5776
Trading in the Crown

This Shabbos, we focus on preparing for Shavuos, the day on which we accept the Torah. How do we do this? The Midrash (Vayikra Raba 35:1) teaches that the beginning of the parshah, which starts (Vayikra 26:3), “If you walk with my decrees,” alluding to the study of Torah, is connected with Dovid Hamelech’s statement (Tehilim 119:59), “I thought about my ways and I returned my feet to Your laws.”  What path should we be thinking about to help us turn our feet back toward Hashem’s laws?

The truth is that our preparations for Shavuos are more extensive than for any other holiday in Yiddishkeit. We prepare by counting for forty-nine days until we reach the day we receive the Torah. In addition, we cannot even miss a single day in the count, as the passuk says (Vayikra 23:15), “They shall be seven complete weeks.” Why do we have nearly two months of preparations for Shavuos, unlike any other holiday?

The Chofetz Chaim teaches that the one can discern how important something is from how much time and effort one spends preparing for it. Something unimportant requires little serious preparation. If one wants to make a cup of tea, this takes very little effort because a cup of tea is not that important in the big scheme of things. If one wants to make a fancy dinner, this is more important, so a person may work for a number of hours preparing for it. And if one wants to hold a bar mitzvah or wedding reception, because these are important events, one may spend many months preparing and planning. If one wants to become a doctor, because this is an important profession, he must study for many years before he will be granted a license to practice medicine. This is all because of the principle articulated by the Chofetz Chaim –  there is a direct correlation between how important something is and how much time and effort one spends preparing for it.

We also see that the Mishnah (Avos 4:16) says that all of life in this world is simply a preparation for life in the World to Come. It must be that there is nothing more precious in the world than that. If every moment of our entire lives is a preparation to the world to come, this demonstrates that it is the most important thing.

Similarly, if the preparations for Shavuos and our acceptance of the Torah are more extensive than they are for any other holiday, it demonstrates that Shavuos has a unique importance not shared by any other day of the year. If Hashem commands us to count toward and long for the arrival of Shavuos for forty-nine days, it shows that we should value the Torah more than anything else. This preparation and the value we place on the Torah is therefore part and parcel of how we receive the Torah.

Unfortunately, even observant Jews usually place more importance on our silly obsessions than we do on Torah.

The Chofetz Chaim offers a parable: A king once commissioned two of the greatest artisans in his kingdom to create the most beautiful crown in the world. He spared no expense, permitting them to buy the largest, most perfect and precious stones available. In addition, he sent them to travel to another city, where the greatest goldsmiths and gemologists lived, to work on the crown with them. This “dream team” spent over six months toiling day and night on the crown. In the end, the king sent guards to escort the two artisans back to the kingdom along with the crown. On the way, the group passed a field where a few simple farmers were working their field, using two oxen to push a plow.

One of the two artisans said to the other, “I would like to show you something fascinating.” He then walked over to the farmers and introduced himself. “Good morning. I and my friend are passing through here on the orders of the king.” The farmers were duly impressed. He then continued, “Our job was to make the king the most beautiful crown in the world and our mission is complete. We are now carrying this crown back to the king. Would you like to see it?” “Of course!” they answered. So the man brought the box containing the crown to the farmers and opened it so they could gaze upon its beauty. They agreed that it was a magnificent crown. They were overwhelmed by its beauty.

The man then said to the farmers, “I will make you a deal. I will give you the crown in exchange for these two oxen. What do you say?” They thought for a moment and then the senior farmer said, “We have to discuss it. Just a minute.” They conferred privately for a few minutes and then the farmer relayed their decision: “I’m sorry but we cannot accept this trade.” “Why not?” “Because while we agree that the crown is very beautiful, without our oxen, how would we ever finish plowing our field?” The artisan thanked them and walked away, having demonstrated the wondrous foolishness of the farmers to his friend. How could they be so small as not to realize that if they had the crown, they would never have to plow another field again! How could they not realize the true value of the crown?!

The Chofetz Chaim explains that we make the exact same mistake as these farmers. We all love and value the Torah. We admire its unique beauty. But when it comes down to giving up a little bit of the silliness we normally obsess over in favor of taking out time for Torah, it just does not seem worth it to us. We give up infinite value in favor of fleeting enjoyment. Unfortunately, we are no wiser than the foolish farmers in the Chofetz Chaim’s parable.

That is what we are supposed to accomplish during Sefirah. Because we intuitively understand from our physical lives that the more one prepares for something, the more valuable it is, counting the days as we journey closer to the day we receive the Torah helps us internalize that the Torah is the most precious thing in our lives. By valuing the Torah more, it makes it easier to give up on the emptiness which had heretofore gotten in the way of our truly accepting the Torah. 

That is why the seforim hakedoshim teach that the word Omer (עמר) has the same numerical value as the word yakar (יקר) – precious. It is also no coincidence that a word which is used more in this week’s parshah than in any other place in Tanach is keri (קרי) – haphazard or casual. Rashi (on Vayikra 26:21) explains that this means “temporary, by chance, something happening only occasionally.” It refers to when keep Torah and mitzvos only when they suit us, when it’s convenient and there is nothing else to do. And this word keri has the same letters as yakar, but in the opposite order, because such a casual attitude toward Torah is the antithesis of the recognition of its true, precious value. Only recognition of the true importance of the Torah in our lives can nullify our previously flippant approach to Yiddishkeit.

We have the power to nullify the 49 curses found in the rebuke section of the parshah, which are the result of taking Yiddishkeit too lightly, by counting the 49 days of the Omer, whereby we recognize the incomparable value of Torah by preparing for the day when we receive it.

This is why the Midrash quotes Dovid HaMelech’s statement, “I thought about my ways and I returned my feet to Your laws,” when discussing our parshah. The way to walk in Hashem’s ways is by thinking about our path –  by recognizing its profound significance and meaning.

How often do we think about how we spend our time to ensure that we make the right decision? On a summer Shabbos afternoon like this one, by the time one completes his Shabbos seudah, he will have five or six hours free before attending a shiur or minchah in the afternoon. How will he spend those hours? Let us say that one is going to take a long nap, even an hour or more. That still leaves several hours. How will he spend that time? Will he abandon the crown of Torah in favor of a couple of cows? Will he spend the afternoon reading articles or shooting the breeze with his family or friends, talking about sports, politics, or the like? Will he recognize the true value of whatever type of Torah he feels drawn to study? Or will he waste away the time this Shabbos, and then the next, and then the next? The alternative is living in a way that enables him to say, “I thought about my ways and I returned my feet to Your laws.”

The truth is that if we recognize the importance of our goal and do not permit ourselves to gaze at all of the distractions around us, we can reach this goal. When the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, zy”a, was a little boy, he was playing outside with his friends one day. And as boys are wont to do, they made up a somewhat dangerous game. They placed a plank up against a building and took turns attempting to run as close to the top as possible. Unbeknownst to the boys, the Alter Rebbe, zy”a, the Tzemach Tzedek’s grandfather, was watching them from the window of his study. After watching the game, the Rebbe asked someone to bring the young Tzemach Tzedek to him. His grandson came into the room and the Alter Rebbe asked him, obviously proud of how well he had performed in the game, “Tell me Mendel’eh, how is it that you were able to reach the top of the plank while none of the other boys could do it?” He answered, “Zayde, all of the other boys looked around them as they began walking up the plank. So they quickly became frightened of falling and came back down. But I just looked at the top and ran for it, without looking to the sides at all.”

This is how little Mendel’eh became the Tzemach Tzedek. He set his eyes on his goals and did not allow the distractions around him divert his attention away. He kept his eyes on the prize. He simply “thought about his way” and never stopped climbing.


May we too merit to recognize the true and infinite value of Yiddishkeit in our lives, such that none of us will ever mistake the oxen or other distractions in our lives as being more important than the Torah in our lives.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Where We Belong - Superficiality and Social Media - Rav Moshe Weinberger's Drashah on Parshas Kedoshim

Baruch Hashem, Rav Weinberger has approved this version of my write-up of his drasha from this past Shabbos, parshas Kedoshim. Unfortunately, I have not written up any drashos since the second day of Pesach because the drasha before Yizkor was based largely on a teaching in a sefer and Rav Weinberger was in YU on parshas Acharei Mos

See here for past shiurim at YUTorah.org's website by Rav Weinberger both as Mashpia at YU and from the past 20 years. You can also click on one of the following links to subscribe to the shiurim: emailrss feedpodcast, or iTunes. Please note that these drashos will only be available online for one month. If you notice any mistakes, please let me know so I can correct it. If you are interested in a particular drasha that is no longer online, you can email me (right sidebar) and I'll send it to you IY"H, BL"N.

Rav Moshe Weinberger
Parshas Kedoshim 5776
Where We Belong

The greatest ideal in our lives is captured in one word found throughout our parshah – holiness. The Ramban (on Vayikrah 19:2) explains that the exhortation to be holy “because I am holy” “means that we merit to attach ourselves to Him when we are holy.” But what does it mean to be holy? As Rashi explains on the passuk, it means to be separate from sexual immorality and sin. At the beginning of the chapter called Shaar HaKedushah, Reishis Chochmah writes that holiness means “making a fence within a fence in order not to go outside.” What does this mean? Can it mean that it is G-d’s will that we always remain indoors?

Rav Yerucham Levovitz, zt”l, gives us a further insight into holiness by explaining, “‘You shall be holy’ means that we are commanded to be inner-focused people. Externality is the nature and essence of impurity.” We see that not going outside has nothing to do with staying indoors. For the majority of our history, most Jews have worked and done many of their activities outside. Holiness, not going outside, means something completely different: we must be deep people with rich inner lives.

The essence of exile and diaspora is not being in our place, in our true home. Why has it been Hashem’s will that we have not merited to live where we belong, in our national home where Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov dwelled 4,000 years ago? Moshe Rebbeinu asked himself this question when he saw his brothers enslaved in a foreign country (Rashi on Shmos 2:14).

According to the Midrash (Shmos Rabah 1:29), after Moshe killed the Egyptian, he looked around and saw that some Jewish people saw what happened. He said to them, “You are compared to sand. Just as [with regard to] sand, a person takes it from one place and places it somewhere where else and it makes no sound [during the transfer], so too this matter will remain hidden among you and it will not be heard.” Moshe assumed and expected that the Jewish people would be true to their nature and not reveal what he had done to the Egyptian.

But when he learned that certain Jews had circulated – “posted” – the secret, he said (Shmos 2:14) “The matter has become known.” The Midrash (Shmos Rabah 1:30) explains that Moshe understood why the Jewish people were in exile, outside their place, being persecuted by a strange nation: “There is lashon harah among them. How can they be worthy of redemption? ... Now I know why they are oppressed.” What is the essence of lashon harah? And why is exile and oppression its natural result?

A few pessukim after the commandment to be holy, Hashem tells us “Do not go tale-bearing among your nation” (Vayikra 19:16). The Rambam (Hilchos Deios 7:2) explains the nature and full impact of the prohibitions against lashon harah and tale-bearing – rechilus: “What is a tale-bearer? This is one who carries ‘merchandise,’ going from one person to another and saying, ‘Poloni said such-and-such.’ ‘I heard such-and-such about Ploni.’ Even though it is true, this destroys the world.”

Lashon harah and rechilus mean habitually revealing others’ secrets, speaking about things and people which are not their concern. Such a quality goes against the true nature of the Jewish people. We are deep people with powerful inner lives. That is why Moshe thought the Jewish people who witnessed his killing of the Egyptian thought they would keep it a secret.

People who have no inner life of their own have “no choice” but go outside of themselves and speak constantly about others.  Redemption is when we have our own place. And exile is when we are outside of our true place. When the Jewish people go outside of their true place, their inner spiritual world, this manifests itself in exile – our removal from our physical place.

This focus on talking about externality, other people’s business, or other superficial matters, is the ultimate betrayal of the essence of the Jewish people. Moshe realized that this was why they were in exile. In fact, the Hebrew word for exile, galusגלות, comes from the word לגלות – meaning “to expose.” When we jabber about others’ lives, exposing their private business, the natural result is exile. But after a couple of people revealed the fact that Moshe killed the Egyptian, the Jewish people learned their lesson and returned to their true nature. And this was the key to their redemption. How do we see this?

Most people are familiar with three things the Jewish people did that caused them to merit redemption (not changing their names, clothing, or language), but fewer know about the fourth one (Bamidbar Rabah 25:22): “They did not reveal their secrets.”[1] They returned to their true inner-focused natures.  Once again, they began to live lives of “a fence within a fence,” not going outside of themselves to prattle endlessly about others’ lives.

There are two Jewish ideas that most young women returning from seminary would be content never hearing again: “the whole honor of the daughter of the King is inside” (Tehillim 45:14) and tznius – modesty. And while these ideas are often applied to sleeve lengths and hemlines, appropriate clothing is only the edge of the tip of the meaning of these concepts – which are applicable to both men and women.

Rav Yerucham explains tznius this way: “The secret of the idea of tznius is to be hidden, internal.” As we have already seen, this has nothing to do with remaining indoors and not going out into the street, though unfortunately many have misinterpreted the concept this way. The deeper meaning of “the whole honor of the daughter of the King is inside” is that we access holiness when we direct our attention to our inner life and away from things and people outside ourselves that do not truly concern us.

But what are these inner ideas with which we should occupy ourselves? How does one distinguish between superficial and essential concerns?

One deeper focus is the study of Torah. The Gemara (Sotah 49b) says, “What does the passuk (Shir HaShirim 7:2) mean, ‘the curves of your thighs?’ Why are the words of Torah compared to the thigh? To teach you that just as the thigh is hidden, so too the words of Torah are hidden.” What does it mean that the words of Torah are hidden? Isn’t sharing the Torah far and wide a great ideal?

The Gemara means that the words of Torah are called “hidden” because they are not superficial or external. They go to the heart of life. The more one is focuses on superficial things, the less he can focus on putting his full energy into understanding Hashem’s will as expressed through the Torah.

But maintaining a rich inner life has become a rarity. Today, in frum communities, everyone must discuss and have an opinion on whatever everyone else is doing. I heard this past week that at one Shabbos table, one person brought up the tragic decision by a newly married couple to get divorced. No one knew what truly happened, so everyone felt the need to express an opinion about why they were getting divorced. The women assumed that the young groom must have been a monstrous secret abuser. The men assumed that the wife must have been a wicked woman suffering from terrible and insufferable psychological problems.

But why must we discuss other people’s tragedies at all? What does it have to do with us? Do people even begin to think about the pain of the parents of this bride and groom, knowing that the whole world is talking about them? Do people consider how this talk and speculation destroys the lives of the young man and woman involved? Or how it affects the other relatives who are broken-hearted over this tragedy? Do we realize that we are destroying the world? Why must we prattle on, behind the guise of a concern for other Jews’ welfare, about other people’s business?

We live in a world where parents learn that their children are engaged only after the whole world has seen the 40 pictures they posted of themselves sitting inappropriately close to one another on a simchah website or Facebook. And who says it is a mitzvah to post every picture from their private simchah for the whole world to gaze at?

Why are our inner lives so empty that everyone must post every little thing that happens on their favorite WhatsApp group? “My baby had solid food for the first time today!” Following the big news, everyone feels like they would be callous and uncaring if they ignored this important announcement. “Wow!” “What a big baby!” “Congratulations!” “What did she eat?” The endless, pointless chatter goes on and on.

How much value do we really add to the world by talking with our friends or commenting somewhere online about the latest banality uttered by Hillary or Donald? Do we actually believe our political analysis on Twitter or Facebook will turn the tide of the election? The reason we become so obsessed with what is going on outside in the world is because our own inner life is completely barren.

But our nature as Jews is to bring out the depth and inner-focus with which we merited the redemption from Egypt. We can become holy and cling to G-d by turning away from focusing on what other people are saying or doing and turning our attention inward. We can set aside time to improve the quality of our davening or our motivations for doing the things we do. We can dedicate our attention to rectifying our own personal characteristics. In doing so, we begin to turn inward, working to become the people we want to during our one hundred and twenty years on this earth.

Let us consider how we can build fences within fences to separate ourselves from superficiality. Let us turn inward because Hashem is telling us that this is the way to access holiness. In the merit of our efforts to turn our focus and attention where they belong, may Hashem return his entire nation to where they belong, Eretz Yisroel, with the coming of Moshiach and the complete redemption, may it arrive very soon in our days!



[1] Before the plagues began, they were told (Shmos 3:22), “Each woman shall borrow from her neighbor and from the dweller in her house silver and gold vessels and garments…” Yet no one told their Egyptian neighbors about this command for the entire twelve months until their fulfillment of the command. 

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tomorrow is Another World - Rav Moshe Weinberger's Drasha from the Second Day of Pesach

Baruch Hashem, Rav Weinberger has approved this version of my write-up of his drasha from the second day of Pesach. 

See here for past shiurim at YUTorah.org's website by Rav Weinberger both as Mashpia at YU and from the past 20 years. You can also click on one of the following links to subscribe to the shiurim: emailrss feedpodcast, or iTunes. Please note that these drashos will only be available online for one month. If you notice any mistakes, please let me know so I can correct it. If you are interested in a particular drasha that is no longer online, you can email me (right sidebar) and I'll send it to you IY"H, BL"N.

Rav Moshe Weinberger
Second Day of Pesach 5776
Tomorrow is Another World

I was in Paris, France for a beautiful chassunah about two weeks ago. I had never been to Paris before. When I arrived, I traveled directly to the hotel, which was in the same Jewish neighborhood as the chassunah, which took place in a Chabad girls’ school, the largest in all of Europe. The building was surrounded by a high wall on all sides like a military compound. All around the wall were twenty or thirty French soldiers carrying rifles, although many of them did not appear too fond of those they were charged to defend. After what I saw and heard from those who live there, I had the following thought on my way back to the United States.

The Torah tells us, “Remember the day when you went out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life” (Devarim 16:3). What differentiates this mitzvah to remember the exodus from Egypt every single day of the year from the mitzvah to recount the Exodus Pesach night? The key distinction is that which we read in the Haggdah (and Pesachim 116b), “In every generation, a person is obligated to see himself as if he personally went out from Egypt.”

On Pesach night, we taste the bitterness and tears. We experience the joy personally. We see the blood, fire, and columns of smoke. We say, “The Holy One did not only redeem our fathers. Rather, He even redeemed us with them.” We live the Exodus. This is the main difference from the daily mitzvah to remember the exodus. It is one thing to mention and remember Hashem taking us out of Egypt. But it is an entirely different matter to actually see himself as personally emerging from slavery to freedom at G-d’s hand.

How can we, living at a time of greater and more wide-spread prosperity than at any other time in Jewish history possibly relate to the poverty, oppression, and suffering experienced by our grandfathers and grandmothers? We simply have nothing in common with them experientially. How can we fulfill Chazal’s instruction to see ourselves as if we personally experienced Hashem’s redemption from Egyptian slavery?

At the Seder, we hold up a broken piece of matzah and say “This is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate in the land of Egypt.” Rashi (on Devarim 16:3) says that this is “bread which reminds us of the affliction with which we were tormented in Egypt.”

On my way back from Paris, I began to think: perhaps through this broken matzah we can relate to what our grandparents went through in Egypt in one respect. The Gemara (Pesachim 116a) says we use a broken piece of matzah because “It is the way of a poor person to use a broken piece of matzah [so he can hide away the rest for later].” A hungry person does not know what tomorrow will bring. He has no idea whether, the next day, he will even be able to obtain the meager amount of bread he managed to find today.  That uncertainty, that need to horde for the next day, is what we think about when we call matzah the bread of affliction.

My father told me that when he was in Mathausen during the Holocaust, one of the biggest decisions each person had to make was what to do with the meager piece of moldy bread he received. Some maintained that it was better to save a portion because he did not know whether he would have any at all the next day. My father, however, had seen some Jews searching through the barracks, rifling through others’ things, trying to find a hidden morsel of food. He therefore said to himself, “Even if I hide some of my food, I don’t even know if I will still have it tomorrow. And I don’t even know whether I will be alive for a few more hours. It is better to take what is certain and eat any food I can find right now.”

When people are poor, afflicted, and broken, they lack any feeling of security or stability. They lack any sense of continuity. This uncertainty can lead to an excessive fear about what the future will bring. The tragedy of poverty is that it instills a desperate obsession to control one’s situation, to rely on one’s self rather than on G-d.

We see that the broken piece of matzah recalls this fear and uncertainty. But why is this broken piece of matzah hidden between the two whole matzahs at the Seder? What is the significance of the two whole matzahs? They, like the two challahs we use every Shabbos, recall the miraculous mann our grandparents ate in the desert after leaving Egypt.

The Torah says Hashem gave us the mann “in order to deprive you, to test you” (Devarim 8:2). This passuk is outwardly very difficult to understand. We were in a desert, a place with no food at all. The mann sustained us every single day. It filled us up so we would not be hungry. And it was delicious. If one thought of nothing when he ate it, it tasted like a wafer fried in honey (Shmos 16:31). And if a person thought of his or her favorite food, it had that taste (Shmos Rabah 25:3). If the mann kept us alive, filled our stomachs, and tasted delicious, how could the Torah say that its purpose was “to deprive you, to test you?”

Despite all of the blessings of the mann, its challenge was the mitzvah, “Do not leave over from it till morning” (Shmos 16:19). The Jewish people had just emerged from the poverty, affliction and deprivation of Egypt. They had not yet fully absorbed the faith in Hashem’s care for them. They were still gripped by the fear of what tomorrow would bring. Many of them therefore had an irresistible urge to horde the mann, lest there would be none the next day, as the passuk says, “And they did not listen to Moshe and some men left over [mann] until morning. And it became full of worms and rotted...” (ibid. 20). People even failed the test on Shabbos when they went out to attempt to collect mann even though they were told there would be none there (ibid. 27). The impulse to focus on tomorrow at the expense of the obligations of today was simply too strong.

Perhaps this is why Hashem caused an entire generation to grow up in the desert learning how to live with serenity despite having only one day’s food at any given time. It is so difficult to free one’s self from the need to think he is in control of his own life. G-d therefore caused us to go to bed every night with nothing in the fridge for the next day. He wanted us to redeem us from the mentality of poverty and affliction. He wanted us to learn how to feel secure and serene because of our trust in G-d. We had to learn to live for today without worrying about tomorrow.

That is why, at the Seder, we place the broken piece of matzah, which personifies the bread of affliction, between the two whole matzahs, which remind us that we do not need to know with certainty what tomorrow will bring. He wants to free us from the ultimate internal slave-mentality in which we worry about the future even though we have everything we need today. It is enough that we entrust our lives in Hashem’s care.

How can we relate to this today? I spoke to one Yid in France who told me he operates a yeshivah in a town about an hour from Paris that has always had between 200 and 300 students. But now it has only eleven because so many Jews are afraid to publicly identify as Jews by sending their children to a Jewish school or have moved to Eretz Yisroel, Canada, or Miami.

One rebbe in Paris told me that although it is not reported in the news, and they do not want it to be, a Jewish child is beaten up in the streets virtually every day. No one knows when the next anti-Semitic or Islamic terrorist attack will occur. Everyone contemplates what to do with their bank accounts and homes. The non-Jews in Paris know that the Jews want to leave and sell their homes, so they have adopted an approach of waiting them out. Why should they offer a market price for a Jewish family’s million dollar house when they can obtain it for a fraction of that price later on?

The feeling of uncertainty about tomorrow in the ancient Jewish communities of France and all around Europe is palpable. And while we still feel safe and secure in the United States, just like the Jews in Berlin felt in 1932, all we have to do is think about the vulnerability felt by our brothers and sisters in Paris today to get a sense of one of the key aspects of the oppression our grandfathers and grandmothers endured in Egypt.

When we take out the piece of hidden matzah at the end of the Seder, we call it Afikoman, which is a contraction of the words “Afiku mann – take out the mann.” By doing so, we daven to Hashem, “Master of the World, help us to remove all that we have horded away because we were worried about tomorrow, because we felt so vulnerable! Help us internalize the lesson of the mann. Free us from that poverty, that desperate need to take control because we feel so out-of-control. Liberate us from the worry about tomorrow that destroys our ability to live for and enjoy today. Allow us to live just for today without obsessing over what will happen tomorrow.”


May Hashem bless us with the ability to surrender the care of our lives to Hashem. May we feel the freedom from worry about tomorrow. May we internalize the reality that “all a person has in this world is the day and moment in which he is serving G-d. The next day is an entirely different world” (I Likutei Moharan 272). May our incorporation of this reality of the redemption from Egyptian poverty and affliction bring us into the world of Moshiach soon in our days.  

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

New Video of History of Aish Kodesh/Rav Moshe Weinberger Posted!


This video, created by the amazingly talented David Jassee of DMJ Studios, has amazing interviews with Rav and Rebbetzin Weinberger and many others from the shul. It has amazing pictures from past decades and the shul. It is beautiful, inspiring, and funny. I definitely reccomend seeing this extremely professional video.






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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Clothing Makes the Man - Rabbi Yoni Levin's Shabbos Morning Drasha - Parshas Tetzaveh

Rabbi Yoni Levin, the assistant rabbi at Aish Kodesh, was kind enough to send me his Shabbos morning drashah from this Shabbos, parshas Tetzaveh. Enjoy!
Clothing is an extraordinarily powerful tool.

 It’s not only a way of covering up one’s body, but it’s a way expressing one’s inner most feelings.  There are studies done about how people feel when it rains versus when it‘s sunny outside; and those feelings will in turn affect their decision making and particular what clothing they might wear that day. If someone is feeling down, he or she might wear black clothing.  And someone who is feeling chipper might decide to wear colorful and bright clothing. בגדי כהונהAlthough at first glance, clothing is very superficial, very external, the תורה describes the בגדי כהונה as לכבוד ולתפארת, clothing of honor and glory.   The בגדי כהונה demanded respect; it imbued a great sense of fear to whoever was זוכה to see the בגדי כהונה.

 When the כהן גדול would walk through the hallways of the בית המקדש with his long coat, almost like a cape with the melodious bells ringing, wearing his finely hand-woven shirt and pants, and those shining jewels lined across his חשן משפט, and his prestigious hat, and the name of Hashem written across his forehead.  A person would tremble at the very jingling of the bells, let alone when the כהן גדול stepped into your presence.  It would make you melt, crumble into pieces.  It would instill guilt for everything you’ve done wrong making you shatter.  You feel the presence of greatness, of קדושה, you feel as if the שכינה is hovering in front of your very eyes. It’s amazing what someone else’s clothing can do to us.   It is amazing how are feelings can be altered by someone else’s clothing.  It could make us jealous.  It could make us scared.  Sometimes it can even make us laugh. 

How Our Clothing Affects UsThat’s how other people’s clothing affects us.  But let’s not focus on other people’s clothing.  Let us take a look out ourselves.  How do our clothes affect us?  How does that shirt that I put on this morning affect me?  How do those shoes that I just slipped on affect me? 

Delivery of Uniforms on Shabbos

The following Shailah was once presented to Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach.  There was a חיל who was on duty on Shabbos at the army base.  A package was delivered and he knew that it was the new uniforms that had been ordered.  He wasn’t sure if was permitted to open it up and give them up, or if it as prohibited because of מוקצה.  The boy decided to play it safe and he did not open thr package on Shabbos.

 After Shabbos he sent the Shailah to Rav Shlomo Zalman wanting to know whether he had made the right decision or not.  Rav Shlomo Zalman’s response was that he should have opened up the package and given them out.  Because a soldier feels like a new person with a new uniform, he is reinvigorated with new energy, strength and confidence.  It will motivate him to perform and serve his duty even better.

 Rav Shlomo Zalman understood how clothing can impact a person’s confidence, his perspective, his ability to perform. 

Clothing Transforms us

Although clothing is so superficial and so external, it has an ability to transform a person.  The גמ' says that a כהן is not a כהן unless he is wearing the בגדי כהונה.  The clothing makes him into who he is.  בזמן שבגדיהם עליהם כהונתכם עליהם אין בגדיהם עליהם אין כהונתכם עליהם When a person wants to change, when a person wants to overcome a struggle, a תאוה, it requires baby steps.  It requires small changes - changes in things that seem so insignificant, so minor, so mundane, yet to easy that can have enormous impact. 

Overcoming the WeatherMy wife told me that whenever it would rain, she would wear black because that’s how she felt.  But then she starting thinking that she didn’t want to be sad, she didn’t want to be gloomy just because it was nasty outside.  She didn’t want the weather to dictate how she felt. She decided instead to fight the weather and that whenever it would rain she would do the opposite.  She would wear brighter clothing on the rainy days.  Her clothing would put her in a better mood and fight the downwards pull of the weather. 

Overcoming our יצר הרע

When kids go to Israel for a year, everyone makes fun of those guys who quickly start wearing black and white.  Many times these are the kids who are struggling most, and by them changing their clothing, it shows us where they want to be, it shows their רצון to overcome their struggles in life.  These young boys would like to be learning in the Beis Midrash more.  There is this pull that’s taking them outside.  It could be the phone, the internet; it could be girls; it could be drinking.  Whatever dark world that they are living, the have the רצון to pull out of it.  If they dress the part, they are hoping they can play the part.  Not always successful, but it comes from a deep place within them.

 The ספר חינוך is famous for writing in a number of places how the חיצוניות positively impacts the פנימיות, how the external, how one dresses really does affect the deeper part of the נשמה. This is not full-proof by any means.  Just because someone begins to dress a certain way, and affiliate with a certain type, it by no way means that the person will actually change.  But it is at the least a start.  It is an easy change and helps get the ball moving. 

בגד

Perhaps this is why the word is בגד, the 3 consecutive letters in a row, בג"ד.  This indicates how clothing, בגדים, something so small, something so mundane, can push us and encourage us helping us grow on a slow, steady and healthy path – from a ב to a ג to aד. It is similar to learning Daf Yomi which also starts with a ב, every מסכתא, starts with a בג"ד.  That too is about taking small strides in growth.  Just one Daf a day.  Even if you aren’t feeling the drive, but you know you should be learning.  Showing up for 45 minutes a day, one daf after the next, will engender a healthy growth in learning.

 This coming Monday night, thanks to Jeremy Feder, we are beginning Maseches Megilla.  Each night we will be learning one Daf.  It is a great opportunity to take upon yourself a small and reachable goal.  In just 30 days we will iy”h be making a Siyum. 

Even the Mundane is HolyI know what you are all thinking about.  Rav Weinberger goes to Israel and I am trying to convince you all to start wearing white shirts, black hats, streimels? I am not talking about what we wear, but how we wear the clothing, how we get dressed. You know, there are הלכות about how to get dressed.  Something so mundane, something so routine and something so meaningless also has rules.  And it is not because the Torah and Chachamim are trying to be difficult and make our lives miserable ח"ו, but it’s the opposite.  Getting dressed is full of so much קדושה, we just don’t realize it!  Everything in this world is full of קדושה, from getting dressed to eating, from sleeping to walking. There is קדושה everywhere we go, every person we see, every creature that we encounter, every blade of grass we see, everything we do. The כהן גדול is not a כהן גדול unless he has the special clothing.  We don’t have special clothing to wear, but perhaps if we internalized what clothing means, what it means to get dressed it can help transform us us like the בגדי כהונה did to the כהנים. 

Marine Commercial

I remember growing up seeing a commercial about joining the marines.  You would see the camera focuses on just a boot.  The boot was shiny black looking like brand new.  You would see hands tying them really neatly and comfortably.  Then the camera would focus on the body of a person putting on a perfectly tailored jacket buttoning to perfection.  Then you would see just the head with a cap being tightly placed on top.  And then the video would zoom out showing the marine in the finest uniform, standing with perfect posture ready to serve. Every morning we should be getting dressed like this.  We should be dressing up ready to meet the King of the Universe, to speak to him.  Each sock that we put on, each button that we button, should be done with care and intent on meeting face to face with בורא עולם.

 And it is not just because we have to be presentable to ה' יתברך, but because our נשמה needs it.  Our attitude and our feelings are affected by the way we dress.

 When we are struggling to fight that יצר הרע each day, we need to be prepared to battle, we need to wear our uniform in whatever color and size they come in.  We need to wake up and get dressed with confidence, with a goal, with a mission and say that today I will not give in to my יצר הרע. Just because yesterday you did something you shouldn’t have done.  You looked at something you shouldn’t have looked at.  You said something that you shouldn’t have said.  ה' יתברך gives us a new chance each morning.  We wake up and get dressed and can be transformed by putting on different clothing than the day before.  And even if you wear the same clothing his works. אדם וחוהAfter the חטא of אדם וחוה, the first thing that happened was that they got embarrassed and realized that they weren’t dressed.  הקב"ה with his boundless חסד provided them with clothing, he provided them with an opportunity to cover up their shame, the opportunity to change who they are by simply putting on clothing. 

Setting the Tone for the Day

The ספרים speak about how the first moments of the day when we wake up really sets the stage for that entire day.  If we wake up and run over to check our phone, likely that the rest of the day we will be checking our phone.  If we run over to check the scores in the game, then that will be the focus of the day. But if we wake up and look ourselves in the mirror and say that today will be a better day.  If we get dressed being cognizant that we are soldiers prepared to fight a battle and that we are getting dressed in our uniform, then our day will be filled with us overcoming fights and struggles. 

Closing

The מדרש teaches us that before the חטא of אדם וחוה, they had clothing of אור, אור with an א, meaning light.  They were clothed with light, they were surrounded by light.  Iy”h we should be זוכה by fighting the יצר הרע day in and day out to that כתונת אור to that coat of light.  By changing not what we wear but how we wear it, by dressing like soldiers, ready to battle, each day starting new, starting fresh, we should be זוכה to overcome our struggles, overcome our יצר הרע, and very soon be זוכה to the כתונת אור of אדם הראשון!

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