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14 posts from October 2012

The First Blemish

Life is a classroom.

I saw a cute 5-year old with curly red payis (sidelocks) in synagogue on the first day of Succoth that was wearing a brand new pair of shoes. When his peckal'e (his little bag of goodies) was depleted, he ran outside to play with the other little tikes. A few minutes later, he ran back in shul, wailing to his daddy; the little guy's spanking new patent leather holiday-and-Shabbat shoes had just received their first nasty scoff. A pat on the head and a piece of toffee calmed him down, and within a minute, he returned to the action outside. By the end of services, the little fellow's new shoes were not only scoffed, but covered with dust and many more blemishes that didn't seem to bother him any more.

There's a profound lesson here: Rav Huna teaches (Talmud, tractate Yoma, 86b) that once a person commits a misdeed for the second time, then it becomes permissible in his or her own mind.

The soul is like a lily-white garment. A misdeed, such as a lie, a dishonest dealing, or an act of adultery blemishes the soul seriously. Human nature is to become extremely ashamed of the first blemish, but once the garment (or soul) is soiled and blemished, then anything goes.

Repeated offenders, such as gossips and those who short-change their employees, have 101 reasons to justify their actions. Repeated misdeeds have a way of desensitizing us, for the cleaner a soul is, the higher its sensitivity.

The soul suffers unfathomable humiliation from each blemish.

A good detergent will clean a garment; Teshuva will clean a soul.

Today is Hoshana Raba; tonight in Israel is Simchat Torah (Shmini Atzeret outside of Israel, and Simchat Torah abroad is on Monday night and Tuesday). Now's the time when the judgments and verdicts of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are not only finally signed and sealed, but delivered too. In the next 48 hours, one can certainly do Teshuva that's sufficient to sweeten the most severe judgments. The gates of Heaven are wide open right now - this is a wonderful time for the type of joyous teshuva with love that will completely cleanse our souls. Let's not squander these valuable hours. Dancing with all our hearts not only cleans our pores, but it cleans our souls. Have a wonderful Yom Tov!

Vus Vet Zein: What Will be when Moshiach Comes?

Here is an amazing treat for Erev Shabbat, Chol HaMoed: Cantor Itche Meir Helfgot, whose voice just might be the 8th wonder of the world, sings a gorgeous duet with Avraham Fried of a classic Yiddish song that we sing during Chol Hamoed - vus vet zein ven Moshiach vet kimen, what will be when Moshiach comes? Enjoy it, and have a wonderful Chol Hamoed Shabbat!

Uman Jamming

People are sending wonderful letters about the great time they had with us InnUman this past Rosh Hashana. Here's a little scene of the partying after 2 days of intense praying. Lyle Wexler is playing the harmonica and ZZ (my baby brother) is singing and playing the mandolin. Have a continued joyous Chol Hamoed!

Chilik Frank: Dror Yikra

Chilik Frank is one of Breslev Israel's favorite sons and one of the best clarinet players in Israel. Here, he's playing the Breslev version of "Dror Yikra," a niggun that we also incorporate in our High Holiday services in Uman. Enjoy, and have a continued wonderful Succoth.