Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: STORIES Category:MASHAL Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Tue, 07 Dec 2021 03:00:00 +0000 240 The Donkey and the Dirt

A man came to his Rebbe crying that his donkey fell into a pit and he didn't know what to do. "Why don't you lift it out with a rope", asked the Rebbe. "Because it is too heavy", answered the Chosid. "Why don't you ask some of the townspeople to help", asked the Rebbe. "They are too busy or not interested", sighed the Chosid. In that case, said the Rebbe, this is what you should do. Take a bucket and keep filling it with dirt and keep pouring it into the pit. The Chosid was a bit despondent that his Rebbe had given up on his donkey and was telling him to bury it alive, but if that is what the Rebbe said, that is what would do.

The Chosid went home and filled up an old bucket with dirt and poured it into the pit. From down below he heard the donkey let out a shrilling bray and jump up and down wildly. The sound and thought of his poor donkey made him distraught, but with no other choice, other than to listen to the Rebbe, he again filled up a bucket and the scene repeated itself. After the fourth bucketfull all was quiet and he didn't hear any noise. "My poor donkey must be buried already", sighed the Chosid. Regardless, he carried on through the afternoon pouring bucket after bucket for hours.

Suddenly towards the evening as he poured a bucket, he again heard the shrilling bray of his beloved donkey and then he heard a wild jump, and poof, in a cloud of dirt the donkey suddenly appeared on the edge of the pit! The ecstatic Chosid's happiness knew no bounds. "Tell me", said the Chosid to the donkey, "what happened"? I thought you were dead and buried hours ago when I no longer heard you making any noise!"

The donkey turned to the Chosid and explained. At first when the dirt was thrown on me it was uncomfortable and insulting, and I was furious. But then I realized that if I shake it off and pat it down, I can lift myself higher, getting closer to the entrance of the pit. So with each bucket you poured on me I slowly lifted myself. After each time I prayed that you'd throw more dirt on me so that I can get out of my dark grave.

Our initial instinct when someone heaves dirt upon us, or if life seems to go wrong, is to scream and yell and try to shake it off. But the smart donkeys among us will realize that the source of the dirt is our loving Master, and if we use it wisely we can lift ourselves up from the deep hole we dug for ourselves. But if we don't get it, and instead sulk in insult, it will very quickly turn into our burial grounds.

Wed, 15 Apr 2015 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Elya Lopian - Tzadikim Have It All

At the end of Birchas HaMazon we say the pasuk in Tehilim (34:11) "V'Dorshei Hashem Lo Yachsiru Kol Tov", those who seek Hashem will not lack any good. How is it that we see many great tzadikim who not only don't have excessive good but in fact have almost nothing at all?

Rav Mattisyahu Salomon the Mashgiach of Lakewood says in the name of the Shela HaKadosh that it doesn't mean that they will have all abundance at their disposal but rather they will not feel deprived of any good for they have no use for the world's pleasures and luxuries. Their lives are complete even without it.

He brings a Mashal from Rav Elya Lopian of a person who leaves his friend's house and sighs in sadness for his friend, noting that he didn't see even a single medicine in his home. This man is a fool. If his friend was sick and didn't have the proper medication then it would be sad, however his friend is in perfect health and has no need for medicines. Instead of feeling sorry for his friend he should be happy for him and his health.

Similarly when one visits a true Talmid Chochom's home and sees that it lacks all of the luxuries that we are accustomed to, and feels bad wondering what kind of pathetic life the Talmid Chochom leads, he is far from the truth. On the contrary, the Talmid Chochom leads a wonderful life and thus has no need for all the silly "chachkes" that we think make our lives feel complete. The Talmid Chochom has everything and lacks nothing at all.

Mon, 02 Dec 2013 03:00:00 +0000
Truly Golden Years The King wanted to reward a man in his kingdom for an act of bravery. He decided to grant him twenty four hours, from night to night, to grab as much gold as he could from the kingdom's gold deposits. The man was taken by the royal chariot on a journey deep into the mountains. He arrived at his destination on a cold and black moonless night and was told that he has twenty four hours to take as much as he possibly could.

The man was clueless where to start in the pitch black. After a while he stumbled on a object which turned out to be a lantern filled with oil and a match. When he lit the lantern he saw that he was standing before a mountain of gold, albeit buried under ice. Grabbing a pickaxe that he saw on the floor, he quickly got to work, since a number of precious hours had already been lost.

Close to daybreak after having removed some layers of ice he managed to extract a few gold nuggets before falling asleep totally worn out. A few hours later near midday, he woke up, upset over his lost time, and started to work frantically. The work was hard and slow, but he hacked away at the ice and started to accumulate a respectable amount of gold.

Late afternoon he noticed the ice on the far side of the mountain had melted under the shining sun. He quickly ran there and began to fast and furiously gather more gold. At this point he was bone weary from his hard labor and lack of sleep. The cold and hunger were also taking their toll. Lifting his head for a short break he noticed the sun starting to set over the mountains. The sight was breathtaking. He thought to himself that although it wasn't a most productive day still he did manage to earn quite a bit of wealth, and at this point he deserved a good rest. Why not enjoy the sunset? Why not spend some peaceful moments being proud and reflecting upon what he achieved during this special day.

Surely we all agree that this man was a fool. After struggling through most of the day, he finally was in a position to amass an enormous amount of riches. With a only a small window left before this once in a lifetime opportunity expires forever, he chose to relax now? There would be plenty of time to relax later and reflect upon his fortune. Why now?!

A person is born into this world with an opportunity to amass a fortune doing mitzvos. We start our lives in the dark not understanding what to do or why to do it. As we get older our eyes are opened to the beauty of the mitzvos. However although the rewards in plain sight, the work is not easy as we reach the peak of our midlife struggles. Life's obstacles and distractions make the work very difficult. Yet we work hard and manage to get on track, acquiring quite a few mitzvos in the process.

As we move into the golden years, our purpose in life becomes clear and fewer distractions impede our quest. But for some reason here is where we break down. With the end near we feel we deserve to slow down and enjoy the fruits of our labor. We want to relax after a hard life. But is now the time? There couldn't possibly be a worse time to relax. With time running out and after having finally understood our role with clarity, we should be more active than ever. Only then when life is over can we truly consider look back upon these years as the golden years. It is these years that our lives were filled accumulating nothing but pure gold.

Sun, 17 Feb 2013 03:00:00 +0000
Chofetz Chaim - Lots of Dumb Businessmen But Not Even One Fool!

In the olden days the big fairs were attended by tens of thousands of people all hocking their wares or looking for some good merchandise to sell back home at a profit. Some of the attendees were shrewd businessmen while others were naive dreamers just waiting to be fooled or cheated by con artists. Yet they all had one thing in common says the Chofetz Chaim (Shem Olam 11)....

The fair was a huge financial boon for the host city and the surrounding villages. Rooms were cleaned and rented and feasts were prepared to feed the hungry travelers. Every delicacy could be had, as each host tried to outdo their neighbor and earn some money during this rare opportunity.

Yet says the Chofetz Chaim among all the attendees, both smart and dumb alike, not even a single attendee lost site of his purpose and the goals he wished to achieve at the fair, namely doing business and earning money. While indeed the food was enticing, no one wandered among the restaurants and makeshift coffee shops and totally lost sight of the activities of the fair itself.

Yet, says the Chofetz Chaim, we have lost all our bearings to the point that we are bigger fools than the biggest fool at the fair. We have come for a relatively short time to the great fair called "life", to earn unimaginable profits and rewards to take back home for eternity. Unlike the fairs in Leipzig with its limited profit opportunities where the best merchandise is not available to all, our fair is loaded with opportunity. One need not be shrewed or conniving to get a good deal. Great deals are to be had at every stand no matter where you turn. And yet we pass them by and head straight for the concession stand waiting on line for some sushi or hot dogs.

We spend our limited lifetime surveying the landscape for gratification and forget that very quickly we will be going home. All will greet us waiting to see what we brought, and we will stand there in shame wondering how smart businessmen like ourselves were fooled in the worst way at a fair where even the dumb can make oodles of money.

Sun, 15 Jul 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Pirkei Avos: Vilna Gaon - Because You Will Die Against Your Will The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (4:22) says that a person is created against his will, he is born against his will, he lives against his will, and he will die against his will. The Vilna Gaon asks, if a person's entire existence is against his will, how can he be held accountable. It is like hiring a person to do your bookkeeping who says he doesn't know anything about bookkeeping. At the end of the year when the books are a mess, can he blame the bookkeeper? Similarly if we never accepted the challenge of life this world willfully, can we be held accountable?

The Vilna Gaon's answer is explained with a Mashal from the Dubno Magid. There was a ranting women who was not able to find someone willing to marry. She was also blind. They finally found her the perfect shidduch, a deaf man who never got married because he was deformed beyond belief. They got married and lived in perfect harmony. He couldn't hear her curses and rantings and she couldn't see how ugly he was.

One day a famous doctor came to town who had a special potion to restore vision and hearing. The couple excitedly went to the doctor who charged them a fortune of money and gave each one special drops. Miraculously they were both cured, but what tzorus it caused! He couldn't believe the cursing coming from his sweet wife and she couldn't stand the site of her deformed husband.

They took the Doctor to Din Torah demanding their money back and then some, for the trouble he caused and the marriage he ruined. The Rov asked the Doctor if he'd like to defend himself. He said there was no need to. He has special drops that can return them to their original state, and he will give it to them for free. At this point they started to scream, no! no! If so said the Doctor, they were satisfied with his treatment and he deserved his pay.

It's true that we we were put on earth against our will. However when it is time to leave the world none of us are happy to go and we fight death with all our might. If so we are happy here and must pay the price of the damage we caused while we are here. The Mishna tells us that we were born against our will but we also are dragged to our grave against our will and that is what does us in.

Tue, 03 Jan 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Who Did You Leave To Entertain Your Kind King?

Imagine a person is notified that the King has decided to go visit some of the ordinary citizens in his empire to see how he can help, and has chosen him as the lucky winner of the King's kindness. The excitement would be unimaginable. The preparations, the welcome, the visit, would all be done with trepidation and and care. After all this is the King, and this is his big opportunity to get whatever he needs.

Now imagine that on the day of the visit this person decides that he needs to go out of town to collect a small debt from someone he once lent money to. He obviously can't put a sign on the door letting the King know that he is out of town, so he asks his children and his servant to host the King in his absence. Hard to imagine.

But this is exactly what we do, say the Baalei Mussar. Tefila is a royal visit from the King, for the sole purpose of letting us ask His Highness for all the things we need in life. Yet rather that accept the King with overwhelming anticipation, we "leave town" as our mind wanders through our daily dealings. We think about that days business, the kids needs, and all the other inappropriate thoughts that bombard us as soon as we start Shmoneh Esrei. These thoughts are not in themselves inappropriate but the King is there for us to address them to him, and not ignore him while we solve them on our own as he stands and waits for us.

And who do we leave in our place? We leave our tongue and our knees, our mere servants, to entertain the King and recite Shmoneh Esrei while we and our mind are far far away!

Sun, 27 Nov 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Dubno Magid - When a Country Bumpkin Saw Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel Ztz"l Suffer

A villager made his first ever trip to the big city. He was amazed by the sights and sounds. The sensory overload was like nothing he had ever experienced in his life. Suddenly he found himself facing the storefront of the King's tailor. He was amazed by the rolls of exquisite fabric and the artistic colorful patterns.

As he stood admiring, the tailor took a roll of material and spread it out on his work table. He took a pair of scissors and was about to begin cutting. The villager could not control himself and he burst into the store and forcibly stopped the tailor from cutting the material. "How can you destroy such a magnificent piece of fabric?" screamed the villager.

"Fool", said the tailor. "Now it is just a useless piece of fabric. When I finish cutting it, the King will grace himself with it at his next banquet."

Sometimes when we see a great Tzaddik suffering, says the Dubno Magid, we question how can Hashem make such a special human being suffer? This is a question of someone who doesn't understand anything. If only we understood that Hashem is shaping him into something far beyond the beauty he already possesses, we wouldn't question.

How appropriate this message during the Shiva for Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel Ztvk"l. Anyone who saw even a glimpse of his suffering and knew the tip of the iceberg of what he accomplished, was left an indelible impression that he would marvel at for the rest of his life. He was truly an inspiration to all of us.  No one ever asked how this tzaddik could suffer so much.  He was more than a fine silk.  He was a garment for the king that was easily recognized by anyone.

Sun, 13 Nov 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Chaim Ben Betzalel - Selling Your Soul To The Satan

In the Sefer HaChaim the brother of the Maharal MiPrague writes that Hashem only does a Nes with a person smart enough to recognize the Nes and thank Hashem for it. It is for this reason that we haven't witnessed many supernatural Nissim in this galus.

If so he asks, how can it be that we see completely foolish people who do not recognize Hashem and are successful but when they embark on the path of Tshuva suddenly their fortunes take a turn for the worse?

He answers with a Mashal. There was a beggar in town who was an absolute fool. The king's men brought him to the king's court to entertain themselves with him at his expense. Being that he lived at the palace this beggar ate from the king's food and always had much more than he needed.

At some point he came back to his senses and stopped acting like a fool. For this he was beaten mercilessly by the king's men and he was summarily sent from the palace and returned to a life of poverty and homelessness, always begging for his next meal. Until now this man's foolishness was the source of his good fortune and the returning of his senses was his great downfall.

Similarly a Rasha is the source of entertainment for the Satan and his army. They enjoy a person's wickedness and encourage him to continue, while all his needs are cared for. As soon as he smartens up and wakes up to tshuva, refusing to fill the desires of the Satan, he is mercilessly beaten by the Satan and cast out of his comfortable surroundings.

This is what the gemara says (Megila 6b), that a tzaddik should not get in the way of a Rasha SheHashaa "MiSachekes" Lo, a wicked person with who, the time is "playing". This playing can be taken quite literally says the Sefer HaChaim. All his good fortune is just for the pleasure of the Satan, who sponsors him and keeps him out of harm's way. It's not easy to break away, but then again do you want to remain the Satan's fool for eternity?

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Mordechai Elephant - The Waiter Doesn't Get A Bill

The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (3:20) says "V'Chol HaRotzeh Lilvos Yavo V'Yilveh". Everything in the world belongs to Hashem. Whatever we take or use, it is taken on loan and one day we will need to pay back. The more we indulge the more debt we incur. Over a lifetime we will accrue massive amounts of debt that will need to repay. How will we manage?

Rav Mordechai Elephant answered with a Mashal. When you go to a hotel everything you take is marked down and upon your departure you are hit with a bill for everything from meals, to use of premises, to even how many bottles of water you drank from the mini bar. Who is the only person in the hotel who doesn't pay and no one counts how much he ate? The waiter. The waiter takes food from the kitchen whenever he is hungry and no one cares. He comes in to take out servings and grabs a bite. On his way out he grabs a drink. It is all free since he is busy helping others.

Our homes and cars are very expensive and one day we will need to pay dearly for them. However if our home is a place where we invite others and give them shelter, our car is a Chesed on wheels, and our food is always passed around to the less fortunate, then we will not be sent a bill for our use of Hashem's property. In that case is not ours. It is Hashem's and we are using it in between helping him provide for his children.

Sun, 07 Nov 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Like A Little Kid Splashing In A Puddle

"Ein Mayim Elah Torah" (Bava Kama 17a).  Water is compared to Torah because water gives life and Torah gives life.  However water does not necessarily translate into life.  It depends what you do with it and it depends where you pour it.

If you pour water on the cement sidewalk all you will have is a puddle that makes people wet.  Similarly if you learn Torah to accumulate knowledge without opening your heart, you will not become a better person.  It will just sit on the surface and have no positive effect.

However if you pour it on soft earth that is sowed with seeds, and continue to pour on a regular basis for many years, you can grow a large tree that will provide beautiful fruit and shade for all to enjoy.  Similarly someone who learns Torah to better himself and learns Torah Lishma, will become totally transformed by the Torah and will become what Chazal call an Ilana Ravriva, a big tree.  He will not be a giant watering hole but rather far greater than that he will create beautiful fruit that one could not even imagine when pouring the water.

Why would someone pour his Torah on hard cement and have his efforts go to waste instead of putting it to good use and make something of himself?  Simple.  When you learn Torah Lishma, while your Torah has dramatic results, the water disappears quickly and has its effect underground.  Thats not fun if you want everyone to see how much Torah you learned.  In fact they will never see your learning, because the water that goes in is not the end product.  The end product is the person you become.  

Those looking for a quick boost and some attention from other will hold their Torah up and proudly display it for all to see.  But at the end of the day all they've done is create a puddle that does little good for them.  Moreover the more they jump and splash around in it, the less favor they will find in the eyes of all the passersby.

Sun, 03 Oct 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Elya Weintraub - Is Playing With Matches So Terrible?

A little boy is warned by his father not to play with matches.  When no one is looking, not being able to overcome his childish temptation, the little boy takes the matches out of the drawer and starts to fiddle around with them.  He then leaves the house to go play with his friends, but not without leaving a lit match behind.

Later after hearing all the fire trucks he comes running to see what happened.  His father meets him and gives him a smack across his face that leaves him nearly unconscious.  "Yes I deserved a smack for playing with the matches" he admits to his father, "But why so hard?  All I did was play with matches."  "All you did was play with matches?", says the father.  "All you did was burn our house down with everything we owned inside!" 

Sometimes when we run into rough patches in life we wonder what we did to deserve it, says Rav Elya Weintraub zt"l.  Should we be so severely punished for few little aveiros here and there?  To us our transgressions seem trivial because we don't understand how Hashem's world works.  We don't fathom the damage we do to the Bria when we commit an aveira.  As hard a smack that Hashem ever gives us, if we understood what we really did, we'd realize we are fortunate to get off with a slap on the wrist when we deserve so much more.  Only Hashem's incredible mercy saves us from the bitter fruits of our sins.

Sun, 12 Sep 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Yosef Gikatilia - Earth, Water, Or Air, Three Attitudes Towards Gift Giving
The Sefer HaMashalim by the Rishon Rav Yosef Gikatilia compares different attitudes of people who give gifts.  The stingy person is like earth.  When he gives a gift he immediately sees the hole in his own possessions created from the gift he gave to another and he cries over it.  He compares this to a certain worm who eats earth.  The worm does not eat as much as it needs because every time it eats it sees the hole created in the place of the earth he ate.  He is worried that one day he will run out of food.

Some people are happy to give gifts but later regret it.  They are compared to water.  When you pour water from your bottle for someone else, the waterline remains intact without any ditches in it.  However later when he looks at the bottle from far, he realizes that the level of the water has gone down and then he feels regret over giving the gift. 

The generous giver is like air.  He immediately realizes that he has given away something but it doesn't stop him from giving, nor does he regret it later.  He does not see any hole nor does he see a noticeable difference in his level of wealth.  It is like taking air from one bottle and putting some of it in another.  There is less air in the first bottle but no one sees or feel the difference.

Sun, 22 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Alter Of Novhardok - Survival Of The Deer
A deer has large beautiful antlers that crown its head.  Yet you will not see them on most deer.  Why?  The Alter of Novhardok explains that when hunted, the deer escapes through the thick brush of the forest.  If it were to have antlers it would too easily get caught in the branches and it would become easy prey for the hunter pursuing it.  Therefore as soon as the deer reaches the forest, the first thing it does is get rid of its horns by smashing them against a tree.  As hard as it is for the deer to part with its crowning glory, survival is more important to the deer.

This world is a forest full of branches, with each one offering us tantalizing pleasures.  We are constantly hunted by the Yetzer Hara.  We run around the world trying to elude his hot pursuit.  If we get stuck in the branches and indulge in Olam HaZeh, the Yetzer Hara will quickly catch up with us.  Yet we have one problem, our horns.  As long as we have horns we will not be able run very far without getting caught in the branches of the worlds pleasures.  The horns are our middos and ta'avos.  If we don't shed them, we don't stand a chance.  Only those who smash their bad middos can scamper free.

Sun, 15 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Are You Prepared To Let Go Of Your Branch?
A man was hiking along dangerous cliffs when he lost his balance and fell.  As he plunged thousands of feet towards the dark abyss he realized that this is the end.  He lifted his eyes towards the Heaven and said, "Hashem I know I haven't been perfect but you are my only hope.  Please save me and I will believe in you always."

Suddenly he felt himself hit some shrubbery which slowed him down enough to grab onto a branch and stop his free fall.  He looked up and realized that there is no way to get back up and he was too far for anyone to rescue him or even hear him.  He looked down and saw only black with no bottom in sight.  His grip on the branch start weakening and he realized that it was only a matter of time until his strength gives out and he plunges to his dark end.

Once again he lifted his eyes and said,"Thank you Hashem.  Now I know that you are the only one that controls the world and nothing else matters.  Can you please somehow bring me safely home to my family."  A voice then emanated from below and said, "My son let go of the branch and I will catch you and bring you home safely."

This man already saw his life miraculously spared once after his first tefila.  Now his second tefila is being answered.  Real emuna as professed by this man would dictate that he smile and immediately let go of the branch without the slightest hesitation.  Anything less, such as deliberating or even letting go with trepidation means that his faith is split in some ratio with his faith in the branch.  What would you do?

Sun, 08 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Nachum Zev Of Kelm - Open The Door For The Doctor
The gemara in Shabbos (31a) says that after a person dies they will ask him in Shamayim "Tzipisa L'Yeshua" did you wait for the Geula.  The word Tzipisa does not mean wait as in anticipate.  Its root is Tzofeh which means standing outside and waiting to spot him on the horizon.  It is not an intellectual waiting in theory but a very real and practical waiting.

The Michtav MeiEliyahu brings a Mashal from Rav Nachum Zev Ziv of Kelm.  When a person is very sick and a Doctor is expected to come see him he waits anxiously in bed for the Doctor's arrival.  When there is a knock on the door he excitedly braces himself for the Doctor's entrance.  If it turns out that it is someone other than the Doctor he does not give up.  With the next knock, again he is sure it is his Doctor coming to his salvation.

No matter how many false alarms there are the patient never gives up, always sure the next knock will be the one that will save him.  This is how we must wait for Moshiach.  We must be sure he is coming and never give up.

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Nata Fraind - The Only Way To Please Everyone
The world always has complaints.  Some people criticize no matter what you do. Rav Nata Fraind in Chayei Olam Nata tells a mashal about those who want to please everyone.

There was a father and son traveling on there way riding on a donkey.  People saw then and commented how cruel they were to make the donkey carry the double load of two passengers. So the son jumped off and the people said, "Look at that mean father who rides while his son walks."  The father then jumped down and the son went up to ride.  "Look at that disrespectful son who rides like a king while his poor father walks beside him on foot." 

So the son immediately climbed down and they both walked alongside the donkey.  "Look at those idiots" the people said.  "They have a donkey, and walk beside it instead of riding."  But they couldn't ride because everything they tried was met with criticism.  So what did they do?  They lifted the donkey and let it ride on their shoulders...

The moral of the story is, do what is right and don't bother trying to please everyone.

Sun, 20 Jun 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Yisroel Salanter's Expensive Cup of Coffee Once, when Rav Yisroel Salanter was in Paris he was in a very fancy hotel.  He ordered a cup of coffee and it cost him a number of francs.  Rav Yisroel wondered to himself why he paid so much for a cup of coffee which should have cost merely small change.  Why do they have the right to charge so much money?

After giving it some thought he decided they were right in charging the high price.  True, the coffee itself was worth far less, but they were charging him for ambience, the nice building, the  expensive furnishings, the beautiful gardens surrounding him, and the attentive care of the waiters.  All this was included in the price.  More than that he thought, not only did he enjoy all the accoutrements but it even enhanced the taste of the coffee itself!

The lesson from this experience said Rav Yisroel Salanter is that we are in Hashem's luxury hotel.  When we drink even a sip of water we must realize that we are getting far more.  We have solid ground beneath our feet, plentiful fresh air, a beautiful sky, the smell of flowers, the chirping of birds, and all the beauty and conveniences of the creation.  When we take a sip of water we should remember, not only do we owe Hashem a thank you for the water, but also for the ambience of his luxurious world!  (Talilei Oros/Darchei Mussar)

Mon, 24 May 2010 03:00:00 +0000
When The Vilna Gaon And Dubna Magid Spent Shavuos Night Together One Shavuos the Dubno Magid was a Yom Tov guest at the Vilna Gaon.  After the seuda they went to the Bais Medrash.  The Vilna Gaon said Tikun Leil Shavuos (consisting of the beginning and ending of each Parsha, Tanach, and Mishnayos), while the Dubna Magid opened a gemara and started learning with his enthusiastic sweet voice.  After a while the Vilna Gaon turned to him and asked him why he is not saying the Tikun?

The Dubno Magid answered with a Mashal.  Once there was a young man who sat and learned after his wedding for a number of years.  One day his father-in-law asked him to start working.  Not knowing the slightest thing about business his father-in-law suggested that he go to the marketplace and see what all the other businessmen do, and do the same.

In his trip to the market he saw all the storefront displays with samples of merchandise in them.  He too rented a store, bought some merchandise for the window and sat in the store.  After a few days his father-in-law came to his store to check up on how business was going.  His son-in-law sitting in an empty store told him that no one has bought a single item.  "Of course not" screamed his father-in-law angrily, "you only have a window display but no merchandise to sell!"

The Dubna Magid said to the Vilna Gaon, "You say a few pasukim from each parsha as window dressing for the storehouses full of Chochmas HaTorah that you possess.  I have no merchandise inside and it would be foolish for me to say the Tikun as window dressing.  I need to sit and learn a piece of gemara to acquire some merchandise." (Yisroel V'HaZmanim/Yichaveh Daas)

Mon, 17 May 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Shavuos: A Winter Torah & A Summer Torah A merchant made plans to attend the Danzig Fair at which he hoped to sell the expensive merchandise that he purchased for this great event.  He ordered a wagon to pickup the merchandise from the manufacturer and bring it to Danzig the day before the fair.  He himself went ahead to make arrangements at the fair.  He rented an expensive booth in a prime location and made all the arrangements to display his wares.  

On the agreed upon the day the wagon driver did not come.  Since it was a day early, the merchant, while concerned, knew he can still quickly set up the next day and be ready for the opening of the fair. The next morning the wagon with the merchandise was nowhere in sight.  The merchant shamefully stood at his booth promising customers that his goods were on the way as he waited anxiously for the good to arrive.

The next day the same scene repeated itself as he shamefully manned his empty booth watching opportunities fall in the hands of his competitors.  A few day later the fair closed and he closed up his booth without any merchandise or sales.  When the wagon driver showed up the day after the fair with sorry tales of snow and mud covered roads, the merchant was far from interested.  He took him straight to Din Torah.  The Bais Din ruled in favor of the merchant and ordered the wagon driver to pay him for all his damages.

"Why do I need to pay" asked the wagon driver?  "Because that is the halacha" said the Av Bais Din.  "Where does it say this" asked the wagon driver?  "In the Torah, my son" answered the Av Bais Din.  "When was this Torah given", he asked?  "On the sixth day of Sivan", answered the Av Bais Din calmly.  "Aha" said the wagon driver.  "It was given in the summer when the roads are dry and easy to travel.  The Torah never considered what traveling in the winter snow and mud is like.  Had the Torah known about that, surely it would have paskened like me!"  The Av Bais answered, "No my son.  Hashem gave the Torah.  He created summer, winter, sun, snow, and mud.  His Torah takes everything into account."

Is the Torah outdated?  Does it apply to today's times?  Of course says the Mayan HaMo'ed.  Hashem who gave the Torah saw each and every generations ahead of time, Korei HaDoros MeiRosh.  He gave a Torah that never gets outdated.  The same Torah is as fitting in the 21st century, in the age super communication and modernity as it was when people lived in small villages without running eater and road on donkeys.  Only an absolute fool can make the argument that had Hashem seen back then on Har Sinai what was going on today He would have ordered things differently.

Tue, 11 May 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Parshas Kedoshim: Kli Yakar - Revenge For A Sandcastle? "Lo Sikom V'Lo Sitor Es Bnei Amecha" (Kedoshim 19:18).  Hashem forbids us to take revenge to those who have wronged us.  Why?  The Kli Yakar explains with a Mashal.

A young child at the beach spent many hours building an intricate sandcastle.  In his own estimation it was a glorious palace.  After he completed it, his older brother came and with one swoop destroyed the entire castle.  The child went crying hysterically to his father, sure that his father would beat his brother to death for the damage he had done.  However the father was a bit broader minded in his outlook than his young child, and understanding that this was merely a sandcastle he didn't even punish his older son.

We seethe with anger and seek revenge for those who harm our body or our possessions.  While we think that the crime perpetrated against us is worthy to be punished with capital punishment, Hashem sees things from a broader perspective and He remains calm.  Hashem commands us to maintain composure and realize that anything someone does to us is so trivial and mere nonsense.  It is not worth avenging.  This is why when someone wrongs his friend and the victim cries to Hashem, he is often ignored.  His outcry is not justified.

This is why the Torah assurs revenge to Bnei Amecha.  When someone other than Bnei Amecha harm us, their motives are often to make us stray from Hashem.  That is a serious attack and cause for revenge.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Dubno Maggid - Why Hashem Can't Look Shabbos In The Eye

We find that the mitzva of Shabbos is both highly praised when we keep it. When we don't, Hashem says (Yeshaya 1) "Chodsheichem UMoadaichem Sanah Nafsi" my heart despises your special days. Why the drastic emotions for this particular mitzva?

The Dubno Maggid explains with a Mashal. A very wealthy man had chronically sick children so he hired a top doctor to permanently stay with them. He loved the doctor very much as he tended to the children and always came up with the perfect medicine to cure them. One day one of the children became deathly ill and although the doctor prepared medicine that would save his life the child refused to take it. As the child's health deteriorated and he hovered near death the father became very angry with the doctor and couldn't hide his contempt for him. The doctor asked the father, "Why are you angry with me. It is your child's fault that refuses to take his medicine." The father answered that if there was no medicine he could accept his son's fate, but because the doctor prepared medicine that can save his son's life and he won't take it, when he sees the doctor and is reminded of this, his pain is double.

The Dubno Maggid continues. Hashem gave us the Mitzva of Shabbos which is a medicine that cures our soul from all the ills from during the week. Hashem, our Father in Heaven, wants us, his dear children to take this medicine to restore our good health. If we don't use this medicine to save our neshama, Hashem looks at it in despair saying that they are worthless and they just add to his anguish. Shabbos is the ultimate medicine. Make sure to follow the instructions.

Sun, 07 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Chaim Kanievsky - A Big Fish In A Small Aqaurium A person did a little experiment in his home fish tank and then ran to Rav Chaim Kanievsky to question the results.  Chazal in their famous Mashal, tell us that although fish live in an endless body of water, when the raindrops fall they all rush to the water's surface to catch the drops of water.  While this seems absurd on their part, Chazal tell us the Nimshal is that water is like Torah.  No matter how much Torah one possesses within them, when there is an opportunity for more, it is natural for us to run to catch every single drop.

However this man's experiment didn't yield the same results.  When he sprinkled food into his aquarium all the fish came running.  But when he poured drops of water, the fish didn't budge.   Why not?  It couldn't be that the rain is sweet water while the ocean is salty, whereas the fish in the aquarium have all the sweet water they need, because that would disprove the point of the gemara.  So what went wrong?

Rav Chaim explained as follows.  In the ocean the fish lives in boundless water which stretches on indefinitely around the entire world.  The fish learns to appreciate this water.  He knows the value of a drop of water.  In the aquarium, the fish is trapped in a tiny area of water.  He doesn't learn to appreciate water, water is not the only thing in the universe and maybe he doesn't even think it is so vital.  Another drop or two means nothing to him.

The nimshal is that those who live in a sea of Torah, have a unique appreciation for every additional drop.  They jump to hear every vort, every small halacha, every mussar thought.  The rest of us casual learners, whose lives have a very finite and limited dose of Torah among the many other activities that we hold dear to us, do not flinch just because another drop or two becomes available to us.

Sun, 14 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Is Procter & Gamble Really The Biggest Ad Spender? To broadcast a 30 second message to 100 million people around the world costs million.  Seems like a lot of money but actually it is only 3 cents per person.  According to the most optimistic estimates only 50% of the people are actually paying attention to the message which means the cost is actually 6 cents per person.  And that doesn't include the million dollar price tag for production.  It also doesn't guarantee any impact or return on your money.  If the impact were guaranteed the price tag would be much higher.  If only we could own the rights to a single 30 second spot, most of us would go on vacation for the rest of the year.  

But if we think about it, we are all the owners of a more valuable broadcast network.  Not only that but our exclusive advertising customer has so many commercials He wants to broadcast, as well as an unlimited supply of money to pay for it.  By now you've probably guessed that the advertiser is Hashem who wants to broadcast his Torah to the entire Briah.  And we are the network on which He chose to do it.

When we learn Torah we don't just reach 100 million people.  The impact of every word affects all 6 billion people walking on planet earth.  Our Torah touches all the animals and birds as well as the fish in the sea.  Our Torah shakes the stars, of which there are estimated to be around at least 10 Septillion (22 zeros).  Every word of Torah affects the entire Briah.  

We are incredibly fortunate that Hashem has chosen us as His broadcasters.  Moreover our big time for broadcasting is not limited to three hours a year.  We can broadcast messages anytime and anywhere for far more than million per half a minute.  Hashem will fund it all   At six cents per impression for 30 seconds, that is a dollar figure with lot of zeros after it.  Hashem pay much more than that though, and is happy to do so.  In fact He begs and pleads with us to keep our transmitters up and running day and night.  One would think that with a situation like that there would be more Torah in the world than Coca Cola.  It is time for us to wake up before he big game is over.

Sun, 07 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Ben Ish Chai - Torah For Bnei Yisroel, The Toughest Customers Of Them All The conquering armies were camped at the gates of the city, poised for attack and swift victory against the meekly guarded city.  The city's small militia was no match, and their only hope to stave off the attack was to surrender and offer a huge ransom from the residents of the city.

Since the matter was so important, the heads of the city decided that they themselves will go around to collect the funds.  Their first stop was the rich miser who never contributed to any causes.

The miser upon hearing this sorry state of affairs said that although he normally does not participate in donating funds to the city's causes, this time he will make an exception, as he handed over a large sum of money.

"Tell me one thing", said the miser.  "Why did you come to me first?"  The city leader answered that had we gone to others first, each one would have found a different excuse.  "Maybe it's not true" or "Maybe we should fight" or "Maybe we should wait  a little and see what happens."  However when they see that you, the big miser, generously opened up your wallet, they will know for certain the severity of the situation and they will all give right away.

The Ben Ish Chai quotes the gemara in Beitza (25b).  Why was the Torah given to Bnei Yisroel? Because they are the most stubborn.  He explains that all the nations know about the obstinacy of Bnei Yisroel and how they refuse to submit themselves under any burdens or someone else's rule.  Hashem gave us the Torah first to show the world how important the Torah is for human existence.  If we were ready to accept it, surely our entire existence depends on it and the other nations should follow suit and submit to the laws that Hashem set out for them.

Sun, 31 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Listen To The Nosy Janitor's Stock Tips

Imagine you own a stock brokerage firm. Cleaning your offices is a janitor who every now and then sticks his nose into your business and makes a comment about a stock which of course you ignore. After all he is only the janitor. One day he quits and as he leaves he tells you that he happened to be a top Wall Street analyst before some unfortunate turn of events destroyed his life and caused him to accept working as a janitor. Now things turned around and he was hired by top firm to head their brokerage department. You'd probably kill yourself for being so blind.

The gemara says that the word "VaYehi" sometimes has a connotation of a very painful event. The Baalei Mussar say that this is pshat in the pasuk "VaYehi BiShalach Paroh Es HaAm". The Medrash says that Bnei Yisroel left Mitzrayim in the formation of the Degalim that they traveled in the Midbar. Paroh always viewed them as "good for nothing" slaves. Upon seeing this incredible organization and understanding that these were not ordinary slaves rather son's of nobility, he experienced a moment of intense pain and regret. How could it be that he had this amazing talent under his control for so long and he didn't take advantage of it? He could have moved Mitzrayim fast forward in time with their talents and innovation. Yet he was too busy pushing them down to realize what he had.

This is a lesson to open up your eyes and see the best in people while you still have a chance. Once it is too late they may never come back again.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Dubno Maggid: A House On The River In a small town, there lived an informer.  He would receive money from the local ruler to report to him daily about all the things the locals were hiding from him.  This man was hated among the community but the rewards he reaped made it worth his while.  The local townspeople did everything in their power to isolate the pariah and make life as difficult as possible for him.

One day he had enough and he told the local ruler that he would leave town for a neighboring town where the people don't know him and he could live in peace.  The ruler was very sad to lose his valuable asset yet thanked him for his years of loyal service.  He even wrote a letter to the ruler of the neighboring town singing his praises and advising him to take full advantage of his wonderful service.

At the same time the townspeople were thrilled to finally rid themselves of this cancer in their midst and they too sent letters to their friends and family in the new town warning them about this evil and greedy informer.

When he arrived in the new town in the dead of winter with snow piled up all over the streets, he wanted to buy a house, but as soon as he knocked on a door the door was slammed in his face.  With no choice he went to local ruler who gave him a warm welcome.  When he told him his plight the local ruler told him that he cannot force anyone to sell him a home but any land he could find would be his to keep.

After searching all over town, he came up with nothing.  However just as he was about to give up, on the edge of town he saw a large beautiful property which he claimed as his own.  He called in the finest builders and contractors to build him a beautiful mansion. 

He stood there each day supervising the work and watching his mansion quickly rising from the ground.  Strangely, whenever one of the towns people passed the site they would smile at him.  He couldn't understand why since they all hated him.  Whenever he asked them they wouldn't answer and just kept on smiling.

Finally the mansion was complete and it was magnificent.  Now the people will stop laughing he thought.  However they didn't and when the next person walked by he grabbed in and took him into his house threatening not to let him go until he told him what the big joke was.  Without any choice the man told him, "You built your house on the frozen lake.  In a few weeks when in get warmer, the ice will crack and your beautiful home will fall to the bottom of the river."

This is a Mashal from the Dubno Maggid.  The moral of the story is that you can build magnificent structures with your Torah and Mitzvos.  But if you build it on frozen ice it won't last very long.  The ice will thaw and down will go all your efforts and all your work.  You must build only on the solid ground of Emuna, Middos, and L'Shem Shamayim.  If you build it on ego, reward, and honor don't expect it to withstand the heat.

Sun, 10 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Dubno Magid - A Tale Of Two Innkeepers A respected minister was traveling with his whole entourage on a special mission for the King.  On the way they stopped at an inn to spend the night.  Seeing his important guest the innkeeper fed the entire party a lavish meal sparing no costs. 

The next morning the grateful minister was set to continue on his journey.  He asked the innkeeper how much he owed him for his stay.  The innkeeper told him a not so insignificant price and the minister paid it without hesitation.  Shortly afterward the minister was on his way without giving a second thought to the innkeeper.

That night the scene repeated itself as the minister and his entourage again stopped at an inn to spend the night.  However the next morning when the minister asked for the bill, the innkeeper said, "No, no! Being able to serve the minister of the king was the greatest honor I can receive and I consider that my compensation." 

The minister was very moved and ordered one of his men to take out one of the suitcases.  In the suitcase were valuable stones and jewelry.  "Take this my dear friend", said the minister.  "This is a token of my appreciation for your graciousness.  Not only that but if you ever need anything from the king, please don't hesitate to call on me."

The Dubno Maggid says that there are two kinds of Ovdei Hashem.  The one who serves Hashem to receive the reward.  He will get his reward and nothing else.  The person who serves Hashem with love, he give Hashem great nachas and his reward is far reaching, beyond any normal scale of compensation that we can ask for!

Sun, 29 Nov 2009 03:00:00 +0000
The Chida - A Wedding Disaster, Big Appetite With Nothing To Eat A poor man lived next to a rich man whose son got engaged to another distinguished member of the community.  When the time came, invitations went out to all the friends of the Baalei Simcha and the poor man excitedly waited for the invitation to his neighbor's wedding.  He was so excited about the lavish meal that he would eat, that the day of the wedding he decided to forgo his meager rations so that he would be able to eat with a hearty appetite.

However as the morning turned into afternoon his invitation still hadn't arrived.  Now he was starving and not even sure that he was being invited.  Finally hunger and grief overcame him and he decided to eat his daily bread and water rather than pass out from hunger waiting for an invitation that didn't seem forthcoming.

As soon as he finished eating with ravenous hunger, there was a knock on the door and a messenger came to invite him to the wedding.  By now his stomach was stuffed but he decided that since he wanted to enjoy the meal, he would force himself to vomit the food he ate to make room for the real food.

As soon as he arrived at the wedding hall his rich neighbor said to him, thank you so much I am glad you came.  I need someone to stand by my home to watch it during the chasuna.  The poor man's face turned pale, as now he was left embarrassed and starving without even any bread and water to eat.

The moral of the story, says the Chida, is that Hashem runs the world and gives luxuries to the rich and barely enough to get by to the poor.  If a person tries, by force, to change his status, not only will he not reach his goal, but he will lose the little that he had.

Mon, 16 Nov 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz - Violating A D'Rabbanan Means Death The penalty for violating any Mitzva D'Rabbanan is death.  Yet by Mitzvos Min HaTorah few and far between carry the death penalty.  How could it be that a decree made by mere flesh and blood be punished more severely than then going against the will of the Melech Malchei HaMilachim?  This is the question that a ruler in Vienna asked Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz.

He answered with a Mashal.  He said to the ruler as follows.  You are an important minister and very close to the king.  If you were to tell me now to get out of here and I didn't listen, you would have the right to beat me and even imprison me.  But if you were to take a spear and kill me on the spot, you would need to answer to a very angry King because my infraction is not so severe that I warrant death.  On the other hand if I walk outside and one of the soldiers on guard were to scream for me to get away thinking I was a threat, if I would not listen he would kill me with a single bullet and be correct in doing so.  He would even be honored for his deed.

The reason for this is that because he is so low, he needs the authority and backing to be able to do his job.  If every drunkard were to disobey him and laugh in his face, his job would be worthless. However an important minister needs no such backing and any punishment he gives out must be in line with the severity of the crime.

The Medrash says that hashem asked Chochma what to do with a sinner and it said Reshaim must be treated badly.  The Nevi'im said kill him.  The Torah said let him bring a Korban, and Hashem said let him do tshuva.  

The Chachomim make rules to safeguard the Torah.  If they are violated, even though they are man made and don't go against the Torah itself, the violator must be killed.  Only Hashem can pardon because it does not detract from His Kavod or His power, the slightest bit.

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 03:00:00 +0000
The Disappearing Footsteps Every night a man has a dream that he is walking and he sees two sets of footsteps on the floor, one his own and another of someone he cannot see.  As they walk on life is grand, the weather is gorgeous, and things are beautiful on all sides.  He wakes up every morning happy, knowing that it will be great day.

Then one night he has a dream that it is stormy and cold.  Horrible sights greet him on all sides.  The world seems full of pain and suffering.  The worst part is that the other footsteps are gone and he is walking alone.  Where has his guide gone?  Why has he abandoned me in this bad situation?  Who will lead me now.  He wakes up in cold sweat scared of what awaits him.

The Dubno Magid says that this man has it all wrong.  The two footsteps when things were good were both his and Hashem's.  When things were bad, the one set of footsteps were not his alone as Hashem had left him.  Just the opposite, since things were bad Hashem carried him and held him close, knowing that he cannot handle being exposed to the difficulties going on around him.

During the good times Hashem stands at our side.  But during challenging times we do not even walk.  Hashem holds us tight in his warm embrace where we can be safe in the sea of troubles that is engulfing us.  Don't look around too much and be afraid.  Look who is holding you and enjoy the ride, its security and comfort... and do not be scared!

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Tripling Your Investment But Losing All Your Money Imagine entering the stock market with $1 million and purchasing a large portfolio of stocks.  The earnings will be all you will have for your retirement.  You spread your money over your favorite 100 stocks investing $10,000 in each.  Turns out you are a very bad investor and 99 of your picks go belly up.  One of your stocks is a real winner and triples.  Let's say it goes up even 50 times.  Are you a genius stock picker?  Hardly!  I don't think you will walk around in you modest retirement bragging how your brilliant choice of stocks is funding your less than lavish lifestyle.  You don't even have the money you had when you first started, although you are lucky to have enough to get by.

"Hayom Laasosum U'Machar Likabel Schar" (Eiruvin 22a). In this world we are here to work.  In the world to come we enjoy the fruits of our labor when we will live on the earnings of what we invested during our lifetime.  Every moment is an investment opportunity.  If we throw away 99% of our time doing things that we enjoy here it is akin to the investor who takes his investment money and doesn't buy stocks but he uses it to buy himself things that give him instant gratification.  The money is gone.

If we choose to enjoy ourselves here and only spend a small portion of our time learning torah and doing mitzvos in preparation for our eternal retirement, there are two things we should realize.  First, even if we invest very wisely, our portion of Olam Haba will be minuscule compared to what it could have been.  This will leave us with a place in Olam Haba but still very unhappy and full of regret over what could have been, for eternity.  Second, we better invest that little time wisely and choose something worthwhile.  More often than not since we are not serious investors, we end up buying into scams and not real mitzvos.  We tend to invest in things that make us feel good, look good, or sound good.  Woe is unto us when we get up to shamayim and realize that we are completely bankrupt and barely have enough money to buy an entrance ticket.

Sun, 09 Aug 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rizhiner Rebbe - A Most Embarrassing Walk Through Town The King owed a debt of gratitude to a poor man and made him governor of one of the provinces of his kingdom.  This governor did a wonderful job thanks to the huge budget that the king alloted him, and the people absolutely adored him.  They would shower him with honor and praise at every opportunity.

One day the king wanted to check up on the province and see for himself how the governor was faring.  Since he wanted to see real everyday life, he decided to disguise himself as he and the governor walked around the city center together.   This proved to be very embarrassing for the governor as he was showered with praise and gratitude by everyone he met.  He knew that the king, standing incognito on his side, was the real source of all the good that these people received, yet he received the praise, and couldn't say anything about it.

Similarly, said the Rizhiner Rebbe, we are given many things by Hashem which we use to help other people.  It could be our wealth, advice, brains, connections, and many other gifts.  Our great king is always by our side, how dare we accept the praise as if we are the source of these talents and gifts.  If we realized this and truly felt it, we would blush in horror and vehemently deny any honor or compliment thrown our way.  Remember the real source and make sure that all honor is forwarded to the proper address.

Wed, 05 Aug 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Hey You Up There! A man was working late at night in a tall office building.  By time he realized how late it was the building had already been locked for the night and he needed someone to help him get out.  The one window that he found that could be opened was on a very high floor and people passing by on the street below could not hear him scream for help.  He had money in his pocket so he figured if he throws down dollar bills people would look up to see where it is coming from.

He stood there emptying his pockets throwing down a significant amount of money.  Unfortunately the people excitedly picked up the money but didn't bother looking up.  After a while he was out of money but still no one noticed.  He then decided to throw down rocks.  As soon as he threw the first rock an angry crowd looked up wanting to know who was up there and what was going on.

Hashem sends us all kinds of Bracha from Shamayim hoping to catch our attention.  Most people just pick it up and enjoy it without asking any questions or looking around to identify the source.  Hashem then says, I know how to get their attention.  Hashem throws the first rock and suddenly we are all howling and screaming.  If only we bothered looking up before!

Sun, 12 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Dubno Magid - The Boss Doesn't Wear These Clothing A visitor arrived to the big city and decided to take a walk around some of its streets.  On one street he saw beautiful homes, the likes of which he had never seen in his life.  One particularly magnificent house caught his attention.  He decided to go in and see what the inside looked like.

He walked up and knocked on its big heavy oak wood door.  When the door was opened, before his eyes he saw a veritable palace.  Expensive Persian rugs on the floor, a crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling, and exquisite furniture adorning the room.

He turned to the servant who opened the door, who was wearing a white uniform with gold buttons, and asked him who the house belongs to.  The servant exploded with rage and haughtiness and said, "It belongs to me!  All that you see here is mine, I am the boss of this house!"  Suddenly the owner entered the room after hearing the exchange and made a very ugly looking face at his storytelling servant.

The Dubno Magid says that if a person acts with haughtiness and thinks something belongs to him he apparently forgot that this house has an owner, and it's not him.  We did not make this house and it is far beyond our means.  We merely work here.  Before acting with pride or arrogance you only need to take a look at your uniform made of flesh and blood and understand that you are fooling no one.  As nice as your buttons may be, they are still an easy giveaway.  The real owner doesn't dress up in these kinds of clothing.

Mon, 02 Feb 2009 03:00:00 +0000
A Galus As Long As A Broken Traffic Light There is a old Mashal regarding a wagon ride through an unusually long night.  I will share with you a modern day version that I witnessed personally.  Many years ago as a bochur I had the privilege of getting a ride back from an out of city chasuna with one of the great baalei tzedoka of our generation.  My friend and I sat quietly in the back seat while our gracious host drove, and his wife sat in the passenger seat.

When we stopped at a red light, our host started looking at some papers lying next to him.  Deep in thought, the green light came and went but he didn't notice.  After it was turned red again he quickly glanced up to see if he could go.  Seeing it was red he went right back to his papers.  This happened two times.  After the third time that he missed the light, he got very frustrated and says to his wife, "it must be broken", as he drove right through it.

Why is it still dark outside?  Why hasn't the geula arrived?  Why doesn't Moshiach come?  Said the Magid to the Chofetz Chaim, Moshiach and the geula have come and gone on numerous occasions.  We were so busy fiddling with our papers that we didn't notice.  Every now and then, we pick our heads and look around wondering why we don't see him yet.  If only we'd keep our eyes open all the time, we would have cruised past the green light, and long ago arrived at our ultimate destination.

Tue, 06 Jan 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Time To Turn Your Lights On Rav Leib Chasman tells about a villager who saves up enough money to go to the movies in the big city.  He sits back in his seat as the lights are turned off.  This makes him curious, but he doesn't say anything.  The movie starts and he is engrossed from the beginning.  He is blown away by the things that are taking place in this little room before his very eyes, he can't believe it.  During all the excitement he again wonders why the lights are off.  He wants to see more of the car chase and thrilling action.  He wants to see the fancy house up close and maybe even go inside and explore.  So he decides to take the initiative to get out of his seat and turn the lights on, sure that not only will his viewing pleasure be enhanced but he will be a hero to all the people who are struggling, watching the movie in the dark.  The rest of the story you can imagine yourself.

We live in a world that has so much appeal, so much color, so much attraction.  We watch it and are amazed.  If only we can get some of those things for ourselves instead of watching other people enjoy them.  How we wish we could turn on the lights and see more, and somehow grab some of it.  How wrong we are.  Olam HaZeh only looks good with the lights off.  Once you turn on the lights, it disappears as the truth becomes clear.  You are looking at a mirage.  You are looking at fake images reflecting off a an empty screen.   Maybe it is time to turn the lights on.

Sun, 14 Dec 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Ben Ish Chai - A Clever Fox Knows Where His Heart Is

The lion is in dire straits and he needs good advice in order to get out of it.  The unfortunate fox crosses the lion's path, with no way of escape. "Tell me Mr. Fox", says the lion.  "I hear you are very clever.  I need you help to solve my problem."  The fox realizes he is in big trouble now.  He tells the lion, "it is true that I am very smart and I can help you.   But you know, my wisdom is in my heart and I happened to have left it in my cave this morning in my hurry leave.  If you will permit me to quickly scamper back to my home, just momentarily, I will gladly get my heart and then help you."  A clever fox indeed.

The Ben Ish Chai tells a story of a pious woman who was on the way to Shul, when she was stopped by one of the town Leitzanim.  "Where are you running to", laughed the man.  "To daven in Shul", she answered.  "But where is your siddur?  Shouldn't you run back home and get it?"  "My Siddur is deep within me, as I daven from my heart" replied the women.  "I see you have your siddur, but you should run back home and get your heart, just like the fox!" she said.  
"Can you do me a favor and run to my house and get my heart for me", asked the man?  "I'd love to", said the women, "But I don't know where you put it."  "Is it with your wife or is it in your factory?  Is it on the ocean in a freight container?  Is it in London?  Is it in Paris?  Only you know where it is, so you should go get it yourself!"

When going to Shul, says the Ben Ish Chai, your heart is most essential.  Don't leave home without it!

Tue, 02 Dec 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Are You Writing A Moving Hesped? Rav Elyashiv tells a Mashal about a Rov of a small town who was not very good at giving Drashos.  It would take take him four to five months just to prepare his Shabbos HaGadol and Shabbos Shuva drashos.  He realized that this is okay for these kinds of drashos where he has plenty of time to prepare, but what will he do when one of the distinguished member of the Kehila die and he is left to prepare a drasha on short notice? 

He decided to start writing hespeidim for the living member of his community, so that after they reach 120 he will be prepared to give his drasha.  One day a fire broke out in town.  As chaos reigned and the Rov was hurrying to save his belongings, someone saw spread out all over the street, hespeidim on Reb Chaim... Reb Getzel..., and so on.  The furious townspeople called a meeting and the Rov was fired.

Fools!  The Rov did nothing wrong.  A person's whole life, he is writing his own hesped.  A hesped is nothing but the sum total of your life.  What they did with their actions the Rov noted with his pen.  The big pen in Shamayim is constantly taking notes.  As we act, the scribes are are writing away.  They are writing our hesped.  With every action you take, think about how it will sound to the crowd of sad onlookers listening to the completed story.

Sun, 16 Nov 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Dubno Maggid - Clearing The Debris Is A Thankless Job! A devastating fire completely destroyed a house in the city, and the owner was left destitute and penniless.  His kind neighbors found him a small cellar for him to live with his family.  Their conditions were terrible.  Each day they dumped all the garbage that accumulated in the cellar on the site of their old burned down home.  The pile of garbage on the site grew higher day by day.

One day the plight of this family came to the attention of a wealthy minister in the city.  In his goodness he told them to clean up the site and he will rebuild a home for them, far more beautiful than the original one.

Cleaning up the site was no easy task.  The owner worked very hard and even hired an expensive cleaning crew to collect and haul away all the garbage that had accumulated.  After the lot was cleaned up, the minister kept his promise and built for them a beautiful new house.

After the house was up, it came to the minister's attention that the owner was showing off to people that he and the minister split the expenses of building the new house.  Really annoyed at the owner's audacity, the minister called him and demanded an explanation.

The owner justified his attitude by explaining how much work he put into cleaning the site and showing him copies of the bills totalling an enormous amount of money.  "Fool!" screamed the minister.  "Who created the mess if not you?  All I asked was for you to clean up the mess.  The beautiful house was built by me alone!"

The Dubno Maggid explains that sometimes we feel very proud of our Avodas Hashem.  We stop doing and speaking things we shouldn't.  We work on our Middos.  At the end we feel like we deserve a great reward for it.  "Fool!" says Hashem.  This was a mess that you yourself created and you don't deserve credit for cleaning it up.

Mon, 03 Nov 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Do You Think You Know When The Jar Is Full? Here is new twist on an old story.  A professor comes into class and lays a large glass jar on his desk.  He then takes out a three large rocks and puts them in the jar filling it to the top.  He turns to the class and asks, "Is the jar full?"  "Yes" comes the overwhelming response.  "Really?"  He then takes out a bag of small stones and pours them all into the jar, as they settle between the larger rocks. "Is it full now?" "Yes, now it is full", screams the class.  "Really?"  He then pours a full bag of sand into the jar.  "Is it full now?"  By now the class is completely silent as the professor then pours a glass of water into the jar.  "Now the jar is finally full" said the professor.

Often times where hear something that someone did and we are quick to condemn them.  After all we know the story, and it is obvious that they deserve our scorn.  But first think for a moment.  Hearing the deed (usually fifth hand) is merely the large rocks.  It doesn't really tell the whole story, or fill the jar so to say.  The smaller rocks are the details that we didn't think we needed to complete the picture.  Even after hearing the details, we still don't know the background, which is the sand that finds room for itself between the small rocks.  What was going on at the time?  What other side factors were involved?  What pressures were they under, whether financial, social, or physical?  Even if we knew all that we still have no right to condemn. 

Each person's actions are based on there predisposed character, as well as the sum total of their millions of little and big life experiences.  Were you with this person every step of the way?  Even if you were, the Mishna in Pirkei Avos (5:17) tells us, "Arba Middos B'Yoshvim Lifnei Chachomim", four people can hear the same lesson from the wisest of teachers and can still walk away with four completely different messages from it.  Do you know what lessons were taught to them and how?  Was their impact muted by the contradictions they later witnessed?  Were these messages received in a clear manner or as mixed messages?  Do you know the impact of all the individual disappointments and successes in their life?  Do you know the pain they carry in their heart?  Sure none of this is an excuse to do the wrong thing, however to condemn is to say that we know all this and if it were us it could never have happened.  And how do we know this?   Our limited information does not make up the tip if the huge iceberg that this person is carrying around their neck.

"Al Tadin Es Chavercha Ad Shetagia Limkomo", do not judge your friend until you are in an exact similar position, say Chazal (Pirkei Avos 2:5).  Unfortunately we understand that to mean that we may judge our friend if we assume we understand his position.  But this can never be, as no two people are even remotely alike if we look at their multiple layers.  This goes beyond the insanity of judging someone you just met or only viewed from afar, based on what they said, or worse yet merely by the way they carried themselves or the way they dressed.  This even applies to a sister or brother, a son or a daughter, or even a friend who you grew up with and were inseparable from for the last 30 years.  No one knows enough to ever condemn.

Read the newspapers or listen to the gossip and you probably don't have the barest of facts straight.  But even if you know first hand, what do you really know?  "HaYotzer Yachad Libam HaMeivin El Kol Maseihem", He who created their heart and their personalities knows the nisayon that He puts us up against.  We are quick to believe that we see a full jar, but only Hashem knows when the jar is really full, so leave it up to Him.

Wed, 17 Jan 2007 03:00:00 +0000