What words can express the appauling murder of a purest-of-pure tiny baby who was only three months old?
The lovely Braun family prayed and yearned for over a decade before they were finally blessed with a child - their beautiful little daughter, Chaya Zissel (image, above). Yesterday, they took little Chaya Zissel to the Western Wall remnant of our Holy Temple to thank Hashem for the priceless gift He presented them. As they were coming back into West Jerusalem, Chaya Zissel became a tiny martyr, a public sacrifice to atone for the Jewish People.
The terrorist attack occurred right up the street less than a mile from the Breslev Israel offices and the Chut Shel Chesed Yeshiva in Jerusalem yesterday afternoon. We heard the sirens, saw the ambulances and shuddered, knowing that something terrible happened. A 21-year old Hamas-associated beast from the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem ran his automobile into a crowd of people that just got off the Jerusalem urban light rail at the Ammunition Hill station. He hit a baby carriage, which sent little Chaya Zissel Braun of saintly and martyred memory hurling more than 30 feet in the air. Chaya Zissel landed lifeless on the pavement of our holy city of Jerusalem, in the same exact spot where Israeli paratroopers fought a fierce hand-to-hand battle against the Jordanian Legion to free Jerusalem from foreign hands and unite it in 1967.
Chaya Zissel joins the ranks of other baby martyrs, all of blessed and saintly memory - Shalhevet Pass, Yehuda Shoham, Hadas Fogel, Shaked Avraham, Yonatan Palmer, Shmuel Zargari and a long list of Jewish babies whose sole "sin" was being a Jewish baby living in the Land of Israel.
The Rambam teaches us how we must react, beyond our national grief and tears. He explains in Chapter One of Hilchot Taanit (the Laws of Fasting) that if we say this is "happenstance" and continue on with our evil ways, then more troubles can be expected. Therefore, everyone must regard this as a personal tragedy and do what he or she can to better themselves and return to Hashem.
I strongly urge that each of us take upon ourselves a solemn resolution to improve, especially in the area of man and fellow man. Do your best to respect every person. Try to avoid anger at all costs. Steer clear of arguments. Don't raise your voice. Strive to create love and unity among our people. Start at home by improving marital peace. Before you raise your voice at your children, stop and think what a special gift they are from Hashem...
May Hashem console Chaya Zissel's parents who must deal with this devastating loss that no words can ever describe. Please Hashem, send a spirit of teshuva among our people and may this be the end of martyrdom. Such tiny martyrs and such huge holiness. Hashem yinkom dama...
Try this experiment: go into a pitch-black room, like a cellar or a bomb shelter with the lights off. Take a pack of matches with you and light a match. Better yet, light a small candle. Notice how one tiny flame illuminates so much darkness.
The above phenomenon is a wonderful spiritual metaphor: sure, there are tons of evil in the world - wherever you go, wherever you look. But, one righteous person engaged in charitable deeds and in spreading love, peace and joy virtually purifies the atmosphere. The Gemara teaches that such a person can save the world.
You, cherished friend, have every attribute to be that person. Even if you regard yourself as nothing more than one tiny light, you can illuminate the darkness, if you only believe in your ability to do so.
Whoever said life was supposed to be easy? Do you know anyone great who had an easy life? A hassle-free life is like saying grass that's not green - it simply doesn't exist! Why? We're all down here to complete a mission, and a considerable part of our mission is dealing with the challenges of life.
How can we possibly deal with life's difficulties? Hear today's emuna shiur and broadcast, "Turning Pain into Gain".
Today's shiur (lesson) and live broadcast will take place this evening (Wednesday) at 7:00 PM local time, at our Chut Shel Chessed Yeshiva, 13 Shmuel Hanavi Street, Jerusalem, in the main sanctuary. As always, the live shiur is open to the public - both men and women are welcome - so if you're anywhere near Jerusalem, come on by! You can see today's lesson here - the broadcast, as well as our lessons posted from now on - are Mac and iPod compatible. If you tune in too early to the live broadcast link, you'll be sent to the main page of the Breslev Israel website, so try to tune in on time as follows:
9:00 AM in LA and the West Coast, 10:00 AM Denver, 11:00 AM Mexico and Central, 12:00 PM NYC (EST), 5:00 PM in the UK, 7:00 PM Johannesburg and Capetown, 7:00 PM Israel. As soon as we can, G-d willing, we'll post a link to the lesson for all those who couldn't see it live. If you can't see the broadcast, you might need to download a new version of Flash Media player, which you can do here. We hope you enjoy the broadcast.
People have the wrong notion about humility. Humility is not walking around telling yourself and everyone else that you're a nothing. A person who does that is more than likely both arrogant and stupid. Humility is knowing that your potential and successes come from Hashem. As such, truly humble people actually have a higher potential than the arrogant, for the truly humble know that just as Hashem in unlimited, so is the potential that He gives each of us. As soon as we begin to believe in ourselves, we can begin to aspire.
Do you realize that you alone can change the world? People who don't believe in themselves can't possibly attain their personal potential, which is prodigious. I'll prove it to you:
Would you like to learn how to move light-years forward in attaining your personal potential? Read Six Days to the Top - you'll be glad you did.
The Gemara teaches us that a measure of good is at least 500 times stronger than a measure of evil. Therefore, one upright individual influences the world with as much good as 500 wrongdoers influence the world with evil. A highly righteous, compassionate and charitable person exerts much more influence. This week's Torah portion says so outright. Read all about it in Uplifting Creation, my feature article in this week's issue of Breslev Israel web magazine.
Above image - the holy gravesite of Rebbe Levi Yitzchok in Berditchev, Ukraine
Today, the 25th of Tishrei, is the 205th yahrtzeit of the holy Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev (1740-1809), may his sacred soul intercede in our behalf, amen. When Rebbe Levi Yitzchok died, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev said that the world became a darker place. Rebbe Levi Yitzchok is especially known as the senegor of Israel, the defending attorney of the Jewish People in the Heavenly Court, for he only saw the good in people.
Light a candle in memory of Rebbe Levi Yitzchok ben Sara Sasha. may his holy memory invoke blessings for all of us, amen.
Rebbe Levi Yitzchok's hauntingly beautiful niggun (melody) is one of my favorites. Here is Yehuda Green singing it for us. Enjoy this bit of inspiration, and may you be blessed with a healthy winter and a wonderful new week.