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36 posts from September 2016

Wrong Expectations

So a friend of mine (Racheli here) was telling me that she feels bad that she's not so into praying for long stretches of time and doing her "womanly" duties, such as baking challah, cooking, etc. Her comment made me think of my post from a few days ago, "High Expectations." 

Here's where I think many of us get a little confused. We all have greatness inside of us that has yet to come out. Hashem knows what we are capable of, and yes, we must believe in ourselves and our strengths. However, there can be a very fine line between being our very best and trying to be someone else. Somewhere along the line, we may lose sight of our strengths and instead focus on building other parts of ourselves that are really not top priority for us.

Take my friend, for example. She's highly in tune with others, very empathetic, has a background in addiction counseling, is a wonderful listener and is very encouraging. She can use her strengths to help others and at the same time, enjoy a successful and fulfilling career. Now I feel like I should get a commission for every new client.

So what if she doesn't like to pray for hours on end? And who said she has to bake challah every week? Sure, these things are great and very admirable. But, that's just not who she is. And that's totally okay.

Hashem has created each one of us with a certain set of strengths and priorities. He made us that way to help us achieve our God-given missions in life. Her mission is to help others; so why should she put extra pressure on herself to do something that's not enjoyable for her? As long as she's following a Torah-observant lifestyle, the extras are icing on the cake. 

Are there areas that you are pressuring yourselves into, just because you feel like that is what's expected of you? Then it's time to re-evaluate. What are your strengths? Your talents? Things that you truly enjoy that are productive? How can you best capitalize on them? Focusing on other areas when they are not necessary to your growth will only lead to disappointment, and that is an endless downward spiral. 

Talk it over with Hashem this Shabbat. I bet you'll come up with some wonderful insights about yourselves, and I'd love to hear them. Shabbat Shalom! 


Lishuashca- Shlomo & Eitan Katz

My beloved friend and soul brother Shlomo Katz puts chills up my spine whenever I hear him sing. His brother Eitan does the same. Put them together, and I feel like I'm in Gan Eden. Here, they sing "Lishuascha" - Hashem, we await Your salvation. Enjoy this exquisite niggun and have a lovely Shabbat!

Parshat Ki Tavo: Putting an End to Calamity

In this week's portion, the Torah lists 98 different curses, all of which materialized during the exiles, inquisitions, pogroms and Holocaust. What caused all these terrible calamities? Enjoy this week's mini-lesson and have a lovely Shabbat! Don't forget - selichot for Ashkenazim begin on Motzaei Shabbat (Saturday night). May we all be written and signed in the Book of Life for a wonderful New Year 5777, amen!

High Expectations

Last week, I (Racheli) got one of the best compliments of my life. My new Zumba teacher said that I should be teaching Zumba! I was totally thrown off, and of course my first reaction was, "Are you crazy? I could never do that!" But, then the idea began to dig its tentacles into my brain, and in a few minutes, the idea grew on me. Yeah, I could do that! Why not?

In the end, I'm not going to pursue it because I barely have time to shower every day, let alone learn and memorize new dances. Obviously I'm not writing this to highlight my obsession with dancing. So what's the point?

Well, the point, I realized, was in my reaction. My first thought was "No way!" Why? It's because that's how we think by default. Usually, when presented with a challenge or an opportunity that is beyond our regular lifestyles or accepted self-imposed boundaries, we immediately reject the new proposal as out of hand. Maybe we feel it's too much for us to handle, or beyond the scope of our capabilities.

But I gotta tell you - you're so much greater than you give yourself credit for. Hashem knows that. That's why He has such high expectations of us. He knows what we're capable of achieving, and He's going to push us until we get there. Whether it's career, family, helping others, or expanding on our personal gifts and talents, Hashem knows that we have so much that we can accomplish.

The only caveat is that we need to believe in ourselves. Believe in yourself! Believe in your potential! Even if the opportunity seems crazy and totally impractical, why not at least try to accomplish it? Even if in the end you don't succeed, at least you can say you gave it your best shot. 

Believe me, I never ever saw myself living in Israel and being a mother of five children. But Hashem put tremendous opportunities before me, and after my initial rejection of those opportunities, I jumped in 100%. That is the secret of achieving your hidden greatness. And, of course, don't forget to ask Hashem to help you every step of the way! He certainly doesn't expect you to do it all on your own!

May we all use this coming year to accomplish beyond what we thought was possible, and as a result, enjoy every blessing, both spiritually and physically, Amen! 

p.s.- If you're in Miami, check out Rav Brody's post below! You don't want to miss an awesome night with him and Rav Wallerstein! I'm so jealous!

The Month of Tikkun

Hi! Racheli here. I don't know about you, but I find that this month of Elul is full of tikkunim, or soul corrections. Every day something happens. Yesterday, a tree managed to jump in my way as I was backing into a parking spot. I don't know how it did that. I think it was a suicidal tree. In any case, it broke my rear tail light, and made a nice big dent in the corner of my back bumper. 

Even though my husband wasn't driving, I'm still convinced that it's his fault somehow. The weird thing was that my sensor didn't beep when I was backing up. Usually it beeps to warn me that there's something behind me. But it could be that the tree was off to the side before it decided to jump in my way. The other weird thing is how my car managed to back up onto the sidewalk itself. It's a situation full of mystery.

In any case, my car backed up into a tree. On the sidewalk. Obviously this was a necessary tikkun for something hubby did wrong. You know? I just realized what it was! I now remember having asked him many times to take the baby to school, but he came up with all sorts of lame excuses, like he had to pray and get to work. See? I'm also full of excuses.

I was about to get upset, but as I surveyed the junkmobile, I realized that there were so many dents, scratches, and missing tail light covers, so what was one more dent? Thank God I own the car and I'm not looking to sell it any time soon. At the end of the day, better the car get banged up instead of something worse happening. 

That's how we need to look at everything that goes wrong in life, and especially during the month of Elul. Hashem is doing us great favors by sending us one tikkun after another this month. It means that He wants us to have as much of a clean slate as possible going into Rosh Hashana. If you're experiencing a crazy month of, well, craziness, thank Hashem for it. He obviously loves you very much and is doing everything to insure that you will have a year filled with blessings. Now if a tree happens to jump in front of my car when I'm driving, I'm gonna have to get my eyes checked. Have a great day!

Moshiach and Mount Zion

Har Tzion Mezuza
And saviors will ascend Mount Zion to judge the Mountain of Esau, and the kingdom will be Hashem's
(Ovadiah 1:21).

Our sages elaborate on the above prophecy and say that Moshiach and his colleagues will exact retribution from the descendants of Esau, Zion's arch-enemy. Then, everyone will acknowledge Hashem.

Before this happens, Moshiach will enter Mount Zion. With this in mind, I want you to keep a very special image in front of your eyes - the mezuzah on the Zion Gate (image, above), at the entrance to Mount Zion. I was there yesterday, when I visited King David's holy gravesite atop Mount Zion. This is the mezuzah that Moshiach, King David's descendant, will place his hand on and kiss when he comes to fulfill the above prophecy. Some people say that they can see an image of Moshiach wearing tefillin on this mezuzah - can you?

May we all soon greet our holy Moshiach, may he come soon, amen!