The Torah talks about the man who sells his daughter into servitude. She works for her owner, and he has the right to marry her if he desires, but the Torah obligates him to give her three things. What is the hidden message that the Torah is conveying here? Enjoy today's eye-opening mini-lesson, which is certainly something you can give over on the Shabbat table, and have a lovely Shabbat Shekolim-Mevorchim!
143 posts categorized "Weekly Torah Portion"
I'm beginning to notice a new trend. After Shabbat, my stomach is on full display, sticking out like nobody's business. All week, I'm pretty good about not eating chewy, fluffy, soft, heavenly challah and desserts that explode with chocolate. But on Shabbat, something happens to me and I just. Can't. Resist. I'm at the challah's mercy, and no amount of inner war with myself is able to keep me from devouring these goodies.
Even cleaning up after the Shabbat meals is so difficult for me! I see half-eaten pieces of dessert strewn across the table, and even the saliva that one of my kids or guests left on them is not gross enough to keep me from wanting to eat them. At that point, I realize I'm in great danger, so I start to pray: "Hashem! Please help me to guard my eyes and not desire the dark, rich, moist chocolate cake! Hashem, have mercy on my wretched soul! What match am I against my Evil Inclination, who would like nothing more than to see me succumb to my desires and stuff my face with chocolate cake until I can't breathe?? Heaven help me!"
As I shove the germ-infested pieces of chocolate cookies into my mouth in bitter defeat, I try to rationalize that there's always tomorrow, and I can start over again. That's great and all, but it doesn't help me fit into my workout clothes for the next three days. By the end of the week, I'm back to square one and ready to start my once-a-week war with my Yetzer. It's pure torture, I tell you!
Why didn't Hashem answer my desperate call for help? After all, I did pray a very genuine and meaningful personal prayer from the depths of my tortured soul. Where was Hashem when I needed Him?
Ah, but of course! Rav Shalom Arush has the answer to my question! You see, it's not enough to pray once in a while to overcome your base desires, especially when you know you are a slave to them. You can't go from acting Like a Wild Donkey to behaving like a civilized human who is not controlled by every physical whim, just by praying a bit here and there. Nonsense! So how much time and effort should one invest if he's serious about overcoming his personal lusts? Well, you're gonna have to read the article, silly! As a matter of fact, maybe I should, too. I've got to finally approach Shabbat armed and ready for battle.
As all of these feelings of imaginary hunger welled up inside of me as a result of reminiscing about my Shabbat sweets, I decided to channel all of that potential energy into eating a half a cold basil pesto chicken. Literally, I just ate half a chicken. With one hand. Because I didn't want to get the other hand dirty while typing. Subconsciously, I didn't want to fully give in to the chicken, so eating with one hand was a way of kind of resisting the fact that I was eating. Half a chicken. Also, I wanted to believe that there are half the calories since I only ate with one hand.
Speaking of halves (it's not "halfs," right?) Rav Lazer Brody writes about the mitzvah of giving half a shekel on Rosh Chodesh Adar, which is just around the corner! Yesh! I'm already shopping around for Purim costumes for myself. And the kids. But before we get that far, Rav Brody explains to us the spiritual meaning behind the concept of giving half a shekel, by using the make-you-weak-in-the-knees example of The Duet. Seriously, I think he could have made a fortune writing romance novels. What do I mean? You'll have to read the article to know what I'm talking about!
You know, the concept of half applies to marriage, too. A man is considered half a man before he's married. Like I tell David all the time, "You're only half a man without me, because I'm the other half." Speaking of romantic marriages, you don't want to miss my story about the most romantic honeymoon ever in the history of honeymoons. I'm talking about my honeymoon, in fact, and I'm being completely sarcastic. Actually, our honeymoon was the first time my husband saw the Iraqi Eyes come out. That sounds exotic and all, but it's really quite scary. Believe me, you've got to read this one! And I'm not saying that just because I wrote it. Promise!
Okay, this next article is one that I can totally not relate to, because Dr. Zev Ballen, our amazing Emuna Therapist, talks about a person's selfish streak. Believe me, hubby has a streak big enough for the both of us. Does that mean I have half a streak? I guess. Anyhow, Dr. Ballen explains that there is a way to overcome The Selfish Streak, and it's not as difficult as you might think! Well, his way isn't as difficult as my way. My way can be summed up in one word: marriage. I'm going to forward this article to David asap.
OMG I can't believe that this concept of half is popping up again. But this time, it's not in a good way. Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen, our other incredible Emuna Therapist, describes the excruciatingly painful time in her life when her sister, Rivka, suddenly became a paraplegic at age 45. Overnight, she went from being an active, vivacious woman to being stuck in a wheelchair without having any feeling from the waist down. How does one spiritually recover and even grow from such an impossible situation? You'll have to read Yehudit's life-changing insights in Lean on Me.
After reading Jennifer Woodward's latest article, I'm so relieved that I'm not the only stubborn one around here. Okay, she doesn't live here, in Israel; she lives in the Pacific Northwest, which is almost like Israel, except for the 8 feet snow that can fall in 36 hours. She learned the hard way that doing things the hard way isn't always the best way, and finally came to the conclusion that there is a weird connection between Ice Spikes and emuna. Go figure. What are ice spikes? Great question! Read the article.
As I'm wondering how to cancel out all that chicken I just ate, Lori Steiner comes along and tells me how to Neutralize It! So maybe she wasn't referring to the chicken, as how can she write about me eating something like two weeks before I eat it, right? But seriously, she gives us awesome tips that will help us turn around any negative situation. Thanks, Lori! Now can you work on the same concept with food? But without actually having to not eat the food? What does that even mean?
I'm so tired I can't see straight. Hinda Lieberman also couldn't see straight, but not because she was tired. It's because her glasses were broken. As exciting as that sounds, the really amazing thing is how she figured out a misunderstanding that had gone on for six months, during which she assumed the other guy was wrong. How did she finally manage to remember what really happened six months before? I can't even remember what happened yesterday! It was during her Personal Prayer session, of course! We can all learn from her example that personal prayer helps with everything - even unsettled accounts!
Wishing you a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious week! Of course I didn't actually write that word!
That's a pretty interesting chanukiah, isn't it? (The kids and) I made it for our school's chanukiah building contest. This project taught me a lot about myself; namely, that I HATE school projects. I imagine I'm not the only one. Did I mention that I found three new gray hairs on my head this week? I just knew it was going to happen! Oy, the stress of dealing with five wild boys all by my weak little self while hubby is away saving the world. Okay, y'all know that I'm not weak. In fact, I'm actually a 100-foot tall, fire-breathing monster. With horns. It's true!
The truth is that it's always stressful dealing with my kids, whether or not David is here. Because really, even when he's here, he's not really here, because he's at work. So basically the only difference between him being here or out of town is twofold: one, I can't yell at him to help me get the kids ready in the mornings, and two, I can't yell at him to come home and spend quality time with the kids, which is really secret code for "get them off my hands and help me get them to bed already!"
What does all this stress have to do with the picture? Well, that picture caused me a lot of stress. Like a whole bucket o' stress. Costco sized, yo. In a two-pack. But instead of being hard on myself for realizing that I am really a Momzilla in disguise, I've decided to congratulate myself on a job well done. Because if I don't congratulate myself, ain't no one else gonna be congratulating me!
If you're a parent, you don't want to miss my latest article. If anything, it will give you great comfort to know that as messed up as you may be, you're in good company! Believe me, I ain't no tzaddekess (righteous woman!)
Speaking of stress, Rav Shalom Arush explains that stressing over making money isn't just pointless; it's also counter-productive. Most of us are familiar with that famous Talmudic phrase, "Mo' money, mo' problems." Well, it's true, especially for those that think they can outsmart Hashem by working on Shabbat. Did you know that making money, observing Shabbat, and enjoying a long, happy life can actually co-exist? Fo' rizzle! If you want The Secret to Longevity, then you've got to read the article!
You know what else is stressful? An angry wife. Shocking, right? Well, Rav Brody just reminded me that we're exactly in the middle of the Shovavim period, a time of six weeks between Parashat Shemot and Parashat Mishpatim. It's a time that is auspicious for improving personal holiness. What do angry wives and personal holiness have in common? Well, the truth is they shouldn't have anything in common! If a husband is doing his best to guard his eyes and keep personal holiness, unless he's just impossible to be around, or he's completely unhelpful around the house, or he can't figure out how to put the toilet seat down, he may actually have very little to make her angry about. But, if hubby is walking around and ogling every woman he passes, his wife is going to pick up on the vibe that she's not the only women he's checking out - and that leads to Angry Wife Syndrome.
But I promise that this is not just a theory. It's spiritual scientific fact! Rav Brody shows you how The Point System works, so you guys won't have to suffer from any more feelings of being victimized by a crazy, psychotic, bipolar, hormonal, just after birth, overloaded with laundry and too many chores, Wifezilla. (OMG I can't believe I never thought of that word before! I'll have to make an article out of that one, but who in the world could I possibly talk about??)
I've decided that I'm going to adopt Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen, our lovely and talented Emuna Therapist. I'll adopt her to be a surrogate grandmother to my kids, because apparently she knows how to teach children to say strange words like "please" and "thank you" and... this is tough for me to write.... "I'm s-s-s-sorry." Yuck. I admit - I have a hard time with those words; especially those last two. But Rebbetzin Channen understands how important it is to instill The Might of Manners in young children. Helping them grow into decent, caring, and considerate adults is a gift they will be able to use and grow from for the rest of their lives. I really hope she can do it for me. Anyhow, read this article, NOW! Please?
Last week, our other amazing Emuna Therapist, Dr. Zev Ballen, discussed the idea of transference. This means that we actually transfer our experiences from childhood, namely with our parents, onto others, and this can affect our current relationships in extreme ways; both positively and negatively. This week, he talks about the idea of transference onto Hashem. He is saying that Biography is not Destiny - you don't have to be stuck in the same place you came from, not spiritually, emotionally, or mentally.
Lori Steiner talks about the rewards of doing good for others, and for children in particular. But I want The Greatest Reward! I also want a good night's sleep, a vacation in a fancy hotel, and a new workout wardrobe. At least I'm getting the third one when David gets back, God willing. I just hope it doesn't add up to an extra suitcase! Don't worry, I already have my reply ready for when he says, "This is gonna cost me another $100!" To which I will respond, "What, I'm not worth $100?" Use my line, ladies. Use it well.
Aliza Neveloff gives us some interesting pointers on Eating Out with the Kids. Obviously she never went out to eat with my kids, because then she'd write an article called, "Don't You Ever Think About Eating at a Restaurant with these Kids." As it happens, just last night my brother was visiting us and we took the kids out to eat at a fast food shawarma restaurant. Well, it took about 10 minutes just to order because all the kids were yelling at me all at once about what they wanted and what toppings they wanted and what they didn't want and if they could have extra fries on the side and OMG even the guys behind the counter were rolling their eyes at me. Maybe I should re-read this article like 100 times. Or maybe I should just never take them out again until they're all married.
Jennifer Woodward shares enlightening experience she had while enjoying a beautiful day at the beach. While watching the beautiful waves run up to the shore, she suddenly realized that she has Control Issues. While reading her amazing description of this gorgeous Pacific Northwest beach, I suddenly realized that I have lack of vacation issues, and need to get to a gorgeous beach asap. Jenn, why didn't you invite me? It's not like I'm on another planet!
Have an awesome week!
It took me 20 minutes of fighting with myself to get out of bed to take this horrible picture. I'm freezing, and my fleece robe is in the dryer. You know, the dryer outside. I know what you Israelis are thinking. At least I have a dryer. You're right - I'll give you that. Anyhow, this blob is a concoction of cocoa and other stuff that I threw together after salivating over my kids' pizza dinner. I know what you guys are thinking. This lady's a health fanatic and she's giving her kids pizza dinner? Can anyone spell hyp-o-cri-sy? Did I spell it right?
In my defense, David is leaving on the big Rav Shalom Arush tour to the States, so we treated the kids to pizza. I'm so NOT looking forward to two weeks of stress fun with my kids all by myself! I think I'm going to take a before and after selfie so I can compare how many gray hairs I'm going to sprout over the next two weeks. Speaking of gray hair, tonight I saw a woman in her '60's with violet hair! What's up with that? She even had a purple sweater to match! Now I'm wondering why I didn't take a picture of her.
Anyhow, as I was salivating and watching them devour slice after gooey slice while I ate a flax cracker with hummus and avocado salad, I was suddenly overcome with the urge to eat something that resembled something unhealthy. So I made chocolate.
It's a variation of a "healthy" chocolate recipe of coconut oil, date honey, and cocoa powder. Except I used cacao nibs instead of cocoa powder. But the craziest thing was that these nibs wouldn't melt! I have no idea why! Does anyone know why cacao nibs don't melt? Aren't they made from cocoa powder? So I had this mixture boiling in a pan, and I could see that these things weren't melting, so I threw in a half a bar of 100% cocoa that my dear friend and fellow writer Sunny Levi gave me like 8 months ago. Then, I threw in walnuts and craisins. I put it in the fridge for as long as I could keep myself away from it, and when I tasted it, it was dy-no-mite!
So I confess. I'm a chocolate fanatic. That's never going to go away. I'm also a diamond fanatic, a shoe fanatic, and a workout clothes fanatic. And a workout fanatic. Okay, I'm also a Walmart fanatic. If you see David on the trip, PLEASE don't tell him how much stuff I ordered from Walmart. He doesn't yet know that he's gonna have to bring back another suitcase. Again!
Did you know that there are also emuna fanatics? These people misunderstand the concept of emuna completely. On one hand, they beg Hashem to fix their problems. But on the other hand, they're not doing anything to fix their problems themselves! People, it's not Hashem's job to clean up your mess! Let's take some responsibility, shall we? Oooh, I can just see some folks getting all angry with me. But don't! Once you read my explanation of Fanatical Emuna, you might actually agree with my point!
Do you know who else was an emuna fanatic? Yehuda, the son of Yaakov our Forefather. He had such unbelievable courage and determination in the presence of the Egyptian viceroy, who was none other than Yosef, his brother. As the guarantor of Benjamin, his youngest brother, Yehuda knew he would do whatever it took in order to return him safely to his father, Yaakov. This feeling of responsibility is what gave him the courage to do whatever needed to be done. Rav Arush explains that as Our Children's Guarantors, we also have a tremendous responsibility to make sure that they stay on the path of Torah and mitzvot.
Rav Lazer Brody talks about a more sinister type of fanatic this week. Last November, there were a number of devastating wildfires throughout Israel, called the Arbor Intifada. Apparently a group of fanatical Palestinians decided to set half of Israel up in flames, because it seemed like a more efficient way to harm and potentially kill Israelis. What does this wicked act of terror have to do with Tu B'Shvat, the new year for the trees that's coming up this Shabbat? Well if you want the answer you've got to read the article!
Talk about fanatics... Sunny Levi describes a beautiful and enchanting scene she recently encountered on her hitbodedut walk at sunrise. Seriously? Can she get any more perfect? Oy, and her profound insight on Humility in the Trees is just too much! What's next? Is she going to put a soup kitchen in place of her Martial Arts studio in her house? Cure AIDS? Bring world peace???
After reading Dr. Zev Ballen's article, I've come to the conclusion that we're all fanatics. This week, he reveals the secret of transference, and shows us that we all subconsciously relate to others in ways that result from our experiences with our parents. Of course, I'm no psychologist, and there's so much more to be said about Those Who Inhabit our Minds, so you'll need to read the article in order to really get this whole idea of transference. You'll also see how crazy you are, because for some reason, psychotherapists have a talent at bringing out the best in us.
Even though my dear friend Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen is not a fanatic, at one point in her life she was treated like a crazy person. After a severe allergic caused her face to swell to freakish proportions, she found that people were reluctant to interact with her (that's putting it mildly) - even her own doctors! But one very special woman taught her that true beauty is More Than Skin Deep. Seriously, is there anything that hasn't happened to Rebbetzin Channen? I've got to ask her.
David Perlow discusses the serious problem of Teens and Smartphones. As a rebbe of teenage boys in a Yeshiva in Jerusalem, he does his best to help them escape the soul-destroying trap of pornography addiction. He points out that many parents are in denial and don't want to believe their kids might have a problem. Nonetheless, he gives terrific advice for all parents who want their children to be saved from such negative influences. This is a must-read for all parents!
OMG. I got such chills reading Chana Coggan's article on Sweet Surrender! It might be partly because I'm freeeeeeeeezing and too cold to get my robe out of the dryer. But mostly, it's because this is such a profound article, it blew me away! She explains the true meaning of surrendering our will to Hashem's will, and she shows that giving in is not the same thing as giving up.
Last but not least, please join me in wishing Rav Brody, Rav Arush, and crew a wonderful and successful trip! Don't forget to click on the link at the top to see if they're going to be in a city near you. And please don't forget to tell your friends about it!
Have an awesome, fanatic-free day! And if you try the chocolate blob, let me know how you liked it! Just don't eat it too late at night because that cocoa will keep you wide awake!
So many people ask, “I have a good heart. I try my best to avoid hurting a single soul on earth. I am decent, considerate of others and try to help those in need whenever I can. Why must I do teshuva?" Enjoy this week's mini-lesson on the Torah portion and have a lovely Shabbat!
OMG, for the fifth year in a row, I did it again. I've forgotten somebody's birthday in the family. This year I forgot that today, January 16, is my oldest son's 12th birthday. I already forgot my third son's birthday last month, and I remember forgetting my own birthday at least three times. What is happening to me? I don't even know the calendar date most of the time! Is it the whole aging thing? If so, I'm really not digging it.
So I actually had to go online and look at a calendar to see what date it is, and I found out that today, Monday (it's Monday, right?) is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Phew! So glad I caught that one in time. Actually, yesterday was his birthday. Now those of us that didn't skip half of high school might recall that Dr. King was a famous civil rights activist and made it his life's mission to end racial segregation and make racial equality a reality. His "I Have a Dream" speech is what most of us remember about the youngest ever Nobel Prize winner, but here are a few quotes that prove that Martin Luther King was also a secret Breslever:
-Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
-The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
-Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
And here's the kicker: Dr. King earned his Ph.D. in theology, in which he compared two religious philosophers' views on God to his own idea of a "knowable and personal God." Hidden Breslever all the way, baby!
In honor of Dr. King's birthday, I'd like to share with you my dream. You see, I have a dream, too. In my dream, I will wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, just like in the Folger's commercials. I will slip my feet into my faux-fur-lined slippers and walk into my hers-only bathroom with a full jacuzzi tub and my very own toilet that no one else is allowed to use. I have a dream that the kids will get out of bed without me having to scream at them, and get dressed and ready all by themselves. I have a dream! That my husband will make me breakfast one morning and do the dishes. Yes! I have a dream! That the laundry will fold itself and my husband will know where the kids' clothes are. I HAVE A DREAM! That I will have... a WALK-IN CLOSET!
Rav Shalom Arush has a dream, too! In his dream, people are serious about working on their personal holiness. You see, he explains that it's not enough to just read about emuna and guarding your eyes, and then expect yourselves to just change in an instant. That's called a pipe dream; i.e., a fantasy. People, do you also have a dream that one day you'll reach those spiritual goals that you set for yourself? Then take advantage of The Power of Shovevim to make your dream a reality!
While we're on the subject of influential leaders in the U.S., Rav Lazer Brody talks about Donald Trump's upcoming Presidential inauguration. With an emuna perspective that you just don't see anywhere else, Rav Brody shows us, through Trump's less-than-unexpected win, that Hashem is totally running the show. Don't miss The Delivery Man!
You know what? I'd like to add something to my dream speech. I have a dream that all men will finally understand what it means to be a good husband. Men, are you giving your wives the Three A's? Uh, oh. You're asking what The Three A's are? You mean you don't know? Well, then you'd better read The Princess and the Caveman, PRONTO!
Oh, boy. After complaining that I don't have enough space to put all of my stuff, Dr. Zev Ballen comes along and writes that we all just have too much stuff. There goes my walk-in-closet fantasy. But, really, Dr. Ballen asks if we are any happier with all of our extra stuff than those people who lived a few generations ago. So what are his suggestions for Living the Simple Life? Great questions! Read the article!
Okay, so here's another great question: what do Beards and Babies have in common? Eww, I can't stop imagining a baby with a beard! So freaky! Thank G-d, Eliezer Guterman isn't submitting any baby pictures to the Guinness Book, but he is sharing an unbelievable story about his twins' miracle birth(s?)!
Lori Steiner writes A Parent's Letter to Hashem on behalf of all parents who can't stop using autospell on their smartphones. This beautiful letter is a moving, powerful, and grammatically correct must-read!
I'm starting to wonder if our lovely Emuna Therapist Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen's life could get any more dramatic. You'll never believe what crazy situation she writes about this week In Plane Sight.
David Perlow shows us through his own life example how thanking Hashem for everything really brings about incredible salvations. His Miracle in the Forest is so cool that I'm tempted to think he made it up. Maybe I shouldn't have written that. Just kidding, David!
Wishing all of our awesome readers a wonderful week!
p.s.- Can one of you out there please put my birthday, June 23 in the English/ 18 Sivan in your google calendar, so you can send me a reminder? And a gift?