I took the following picture during hitbodedut last week in a local citrus grove; it shows you how bad the drought is here. But, every cloud has its silver leaning. Some tenacious little seed succeeded in sucking a few drops of precious moisture from the ground and germinated into this handsome grass plant. G-d willing, with emuna, we'll emerge from the world's spiritual drought and soon hear people from the four corners of the spiritually-parched earth emerging to call Hashem's name. I'm optimistic - just like the plant pictured below:
There's tons of bad news going around - I don't want to repeat the doomsday prophecies, but these are tricky times.
Here's the good news - the closer we get to Moshiach and redemption, the more you'll see people from all backgrounds calling Hashem's name.
Nothing makes me happier than hearing about another person who has started calling Hashem's name in earnest. When you call Hashem, He not only answers, but He takes you where you need to go.
King David says to Hashem (Psalms 102:14), "You shall arise and comfort Zion for it's time to pardon her, for the appointed time has come."
Ki Va Moed means "the appointed time has come." When all the people of the world call begin to call Hashem's name, then you know that Moshiach right around the corner. When you see the Ray Chew's Boys' Ensemble from Harlem singing it in the original Hebrew, then you had better purchase your plane tickets to the Holy Land right away. Emuna Outreach salutes the Chabad Telethon for this magnificent sanctification of Hashem's name. Ray Chew has a powerful and beautiful voice, full of soul; he sure knows how to bring the best out of boys too; I hope you enjoy it as much as we do:
The Beams Baby Boom continues this week, with a hot story right off the presses.
I owe a lot to Nachum Kligman from Bet Shemesh. When no one knew me, he was the first to video-tape my lectures and put them on the web.
Yesterday afternoon, Nachum called me; his voice was trembling: "Rav, Michal (Nachum's wife) is in Shaarei Tzedek hospital. She's two weeks overdue. The doctors are having a major disagreement - Michal's doctor says induce and go for a natural birth, and the Department Head says no way - prepare her for a C-section!" The Department Head favored the C-section on the grounds that the baby wasn't anywhere near birth position, "so there's nothing to discuss about naturl birth", he maintained, especially since Michal had already had a c-section in one of her previous childbirths.
Michal's nerves were more than frayed; she had taken on and off the inducing list abour four times, as if she were a pingpong ball. Needless to say, she was beside herself. She was losing her composure fast; she just wanted things over with, the quicker the better. Nachum didn't know if she could hold on...
I looked at my watch - it was time for hitbodedut, my daily personal prayer session. I asked Nachum if he could convince the doctors to delay any decision for two hours - nothing more. Everyone agreed, but they gave me 2 hours; if nothing happens, Michal goes into surgery...
Monday - yesterday - was 20 Teveth, 5771. I was on my way to the field to pour my heart out for Michal...
I started to pray in personal prayer and felt cold as a fish. I was having an unsuccessful day and had accomplished 10% of what I usually do. All day long, my prayers were about on the level of a turkey-gobble and my Torah learning was out to lunch. I felt as if I was holding on the spiritual level of an ameba.
Then, a flash went through my mind - "So what if you're an ameba? Today is not only the Rambam's yahrtzeit (image, left), it's the Abir Yaacov's (Rebbe Yaacov Abu Chatzera, the Baba Sali's grandfather, image below, left) yahrtzeit! I was right by a clump of palm trees east of town, and tears started pouring down my face. To paraphrase the old Beatles' song, I was trying a little help from my friends the great tzaddikim. I pleaded for Michal by virtue of the Rambam's yahrtzeit, by virtue of the Abir Yaacov's yahrtzeit, and by virtue of the holy Baba Sali, all of saintly and blessed memory.
I could feel my heart opening up, but it wasn't enough. Then boom! Another flash! Nachum came to Uman this past Rosh Hashana. He didn't want to go, but a pregnant Michal pushed him out the door and took care of five other children on her own so that her husband could spend Rosh Hashana by the holy gravesite of Rebbe Nachman in Uman. Then I yelled, "Rabbenu Nachman! You have to personally plead this one at the Heavenly Throne! Michal bat Sarah needs you now..."
Having mentioned the four tzaddikim - the Rambam, Abir Yaakov, Baba Sali, and Rebbe Nachman - my soul could now express itself to Hashem. Before I knew it, 2 hours had passed.
Just as the two hour deadline hit, my cellphone rang, with Nachum Kligman on the line; this time his voice was trembling with excitement: "...th-they don't know how...the baby has turned around and is descending...it's going to be a natural birth... we're seeing a miracle...I'll keep you posted."
Fifty minutes later, it was Nachum again: "Mazal tov, it's a 7lb, 7oz baby boy! Both mother and baby are doing fine!"
Thank you, Hashem - you're the greatest.
Right away, I lit candles for the four tzaddikim - the Rambam, Abir Yaakov, Baba Sali, and Rebbe Nachman.
You see, by virtue of the tzaddikim, Hashem will answer your prayers, even if you're an ameba.
Mazal Tov to our cherished friends the Kligmans, from all of us here at the Beams. May you merit to have your new son enter the holy covenant of Abraham on time, amen!
There will always be a limit to the extent where we can understand what Hashem does. But where intellect, logic and understanding kick out, emuna must kick in. One who thinks or hopes to understand Hashem will not attain emuna.
Not even Moses could understand Hashem. When Moses asked Hashem to show him the secret of how He works, Hashem answered him, “You cannot see My Face.” In other words, you can never understand how I work on an a priori basis. You’ll only be able to understand what I do in retrospect. This is the intrinsic meaning of what Hashem says, “You can see Me from the back, but my face cannot be seen” (Exodus 33:23).
Never forget that at the time of a test, a person cannot really know or understand that it is all for the good! If he understood that it is good, then there wouldn’t be a test. Every test and choice is only when according to a person’s intellect the situation seems bad. The level of knowing from the outset that everything is good is a level that no human being can attain, because understanding the situation with such clarity nullifies free choice.
Ginger was was a picture postcard coed. Not only was she a cheerleader at Auburn, but an honors graduate in economics and an MBA from Wharton. She was also a hair's breadth away from suicide. Read all about it in Ginger's Story.
Many of us have parents and/or grandparents that were Holocaust survivors. Natalie Kovan's Out of the Ashes really hits home. In case you haven't been following Yaakov Bar Nahman's superb series about the Holocaust - Solomon's Trains - please join us; this week's episode is Death of Uncle Layish.
A woman wants to feel that her mate is her best friend, a father, a mother, and a confidant all rolled into one. She needs the security that she'll be loved and accepted no matter what she does. She feels calm in knowing that even if she makes a mistake, he won't criticize her. She certainly doesn't need the type of husband that acts like the state's witness – when she tells him her troubles, he points an accusing finger at her, blames her, and belittles her. Soon, she won't share her thoughts with him and their lines of communication will be severed; he can only blame himself for the subsequent crisis that will surely arise.
Caution – as long as a wife seeks the ear of a girlfriend, it's a warning sign that she can't pour her heart out to her husband. As long as she needs the constant backing and encouragement of her parents, it's a warning sign that she doesn't get enough love and support from her husband. As long as she spends hours on the telephone, it's a warning sign that she lacks an attentive and receptive ear from her husband.
Beloved brothers, give your wife at least a half hour (barest minimum!) of quality one-on-one time every day with a listening ear; you'll not only have a better marriage, but your phone bill will be at least 30% less. Try it!
By the way, cellular phones were created for shalom bayit, for marital peace, so a husband can call home twice a day and tell his wife that he's thinking about her. You can't imagine what this will do for your marriage.
The theme of this week's Torah portion - Shmot - is about the courageous mothers who gave birth to their children despite Pharaoh's horribly cruel edict to drown every Jewish male that would be born.
In the spirit of Shabbat Shmot and in continuation of yesterday's post about childbirth, I want to share with you a miraculous email that I received today from Leah in Jerusalem:
I was very moved by today's posting on the Beams by a woman tormented by her traumatic births and trying to warn others. Her wish for women to return to the days of the Jewesses in Egypt reminds me of my own miracle birth.
Before I did teshuva, a process that started with Garden of Emuna, I though that I was up to "here" with children (4) and was not going to have any more. Hence, I embarked on what was supposed to be contraception for the next umpteen years until menopuase (gasp!). Little did I know that Rabbi Nachman, hitbodedut, and Rabbi Arush's teachings on birth control would change my life forever....
I decided to forgo contraception with my newfound Emuna and gave birth to our "teshuva" child in a manner which was truly miraculous and which left our family and friends stunned.
The contractions came on Yom Kippur, and whilst my husband popped out around the corner to bring a friend to babysit, I suddenly had to push, and, on the phone to Magen David Adom, gave birth to Nachman alone in about 5 minutes on the couch, surrounded by all our holy books. I was holding him in my arms, cooing, when my husband rushed in, speechless. Two minutes later the ambulance arrived and the rest is history.
People asked me if I was scared, how did I know what to do, how could I just push, how did I know if the baby was fine, why didn't I wait for the ambulance ...... the fact is that it happened exactly as G-d created it to happen. It was a peaceful, beautiful and wondrous event. I myself remembered the teaching about the Jewesses in Egypt and mentioned it to my husband after the birth.
I believe that Hashem gave me that experience because I put my trust in Him to have Nachman in the first place.
And now for the finale: My husband wanted to ask Rabbi Arush to be the sandak but didn't know how to go about it. Two days before the brit he was in hitbodedut in the forest in Jerusalem, and pleaded with Hashem to show him who the sandak should be. As he looked up, he was amazed to see Rabbi Arush walking in front of him, apparently having finished his own hitbodedut in the same forest! My husband immediately rushed over to him and told him of this remarkable divine providence and incredibly, Rabbi Arush agreed to be our son's sandak. The brit was performed in the Chut Shel Chessed succa, on, of all dates, the eve of the yarzheit of Rabbi Nachman.
Could there be a more incredible cycle of events? The Rabbi who anonymously inspired the birth of our son, ended up being his sandak.
We learned firsthand that the keys of childbirth are truly in G-d's hands alone.