Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: AVODAH Category:PEREK SHIRA Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Tue, 07 Dec 2021 03:00:00 +0000 240 Perek Shira: The Snake's Song - Taking a Plunge

No creature in history has taken a fall like the snake.  This once companion of man, with legs that would carry him all over the world and a mind to match, went from top of the totem pole to the bottom after he persuaded Chava to eat from the Eitz HaDaas.  With his legs chopped off he not only became worthless to man but he is now hunted as man's arch enemy.  Some would say he got off easy.  After all he wrecked history and brought evil into man.  Annihilation and extinction seem like a fair punishment.  Nevertheless the snake has survived even in its low state.

How did it manage to continue to live and eat after having his legs removed?  Only through Hashem's goodness.  Hashem gave the snake the ability to survive on any form of food even the dust that it slithers around in.  Does it mind the bland diet?  Not really.  Hashem made it so, that even if it ate the finest delicacies it would still taste like dust.  This eases the snake's pain and longing for better food.

The Snake sings "Someich Hashem L'Chol Hanoflim", Hashem support all those who fall.  Even if you are the root cause of your own falling, Hashem not only preserves you, he also gives you new tools to adjust to your new status.  Should you one day take a plunge in your status in this world, learn from the snake and hang in there.  You can survive.  Hashem will see to it!

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Date Tree Says - Don't Look Sideways, It's A Waste!

The gemara in Makos 24a says that although Hashem gave 613 mitzvos, various Neviim found strong foundations that cover many mitzvos and were able to narrow the count substantially until Chavakuk came and found the main foundation that all the mitzvos sprout from; "Emuna" like the pasuk says "VTzaddik B'Emunosoi Yichye." How can a person become a tzaddik from one mitzva?

The Medrash in Bereishis Rabba says that just like a date tree no part of it goes to waste, so too no one in Bnei Yisroel is discarded as useless. The date tree has fruits which are eaten, soft palm branches used for the Lulav, and hard branches used for schach for the Succa. What is the secret of the date tree? The date tree's trunk is straight and does not have branches going out to all sides, it just grows straight upwards. This produces only useful parts. So too a tzaddik only focuses upwards to Shamayim because he has perfect emunah. He has no need to look sideways to the rest of the world for answers. He, like the date tree, will be completely full of mitzvos with no excess baggage in the form of aveiros.

The date tree sings "Tzaddik KaTamar Yifrach" keep the faith, look up and be a tzaddik. Then you will sprout pure parts just like the date tree.

Mon, 26 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Trees Sing - Will There Be Newspapers When Moshiach Comes?

An older fellow once explained to me that newspapers are probably here to stay. They are a wonderful medium to publicize news and certainly in the times of Moshiach there will be important information to disseminate. The main difference between today's newspapers and those in the days of Moshiach's is that in the days of Moshiach newspapers will be much thinner. Why? When you take out of the newspaper the Lashon Hara, the lies, and the Shtuyos there isn't much left to it. Since under Moshiach's watchful eye none of these things will make past the editor we will have very small newspapers.

Who will be the big winner from this drastic downsizing of the daily paper? The trees of course. 250 million trees are cut every year just to print newspapers in the United States. One leading newspaper uses an astounding 75,000 trees a week for its Sunday paper alone.

Ilanos ShebaSadeh Oimrim "Az Yiraninu Kol Atzei Hayar Milifnei Hashem Ki Va Lishpot Ha'Aretz"; Then (in the time of Moshiach) the trees of the forest will sing before Hashem who will come to judge the land... and you thought that only you wanted Moshiach now!

Fri, 29 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Dog and Man - Who is Loyal To Who?

Ask your dog to retrieve something and it will rush to return it to you and then lick your feet waiting for his next opportunity to serve you. An intruder on your premises? Your dog will bark madly for him to leave. The Knaf Renanim says that while other animals like horses, donkeys, camels, and cattle show "Hakoras Hatov", that is only while they are receiving your kindness but it doesn't last beyond that. A dog will always be faithful, even after the death of its owner. Kelev he says is an acronym for "Kulo Lev", all heart.

And for what? For the few scraps of dry bones you throw his way. Where does that leave us? Hashem provides for us everything from a to z 24/7 with the utmost forethought and kindness beyond our comprehension. What kind of Hakoras Hatov do we need to show? We need to do more than throw Hashem a few dry bones or watered down mitzvos.

The dog's behavior is a lesson to all of us on the how to have Hakoras Hatov. When we hear the dog say "Boi'u Nishtachaveh V'Nicre'ah", let us go bow down to our master, we need to respond, "Nivrecha Lifnei Hashem Oseinu", we should have that gratitude to our Father our King in heaven and perform His commandments with enthusiasm!


Tue, 12 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Wellsprings - Rav Hutner On The Power Of Originality The Kotzker Rebbe once said that if you serve Hashem today the same way you served him yesterday, then you are a fraud and a copycat.  What is the difference, he asked, between copying someone else or copying yourself?  A person must grow everyday and his avodah must be a product of the person he has come to be up until this moment.  It needs to be fresh and inspired and not same old, same old.

This is the lesson of the fresh spring.  Its waters do not ever stop flowing.  Each moment brings forth new water, not recycled from the ocean or from itself.  The BiSoraso Yehgeh quotes a letter from Rav Yitzchok Hutner, the Rosh Yeshiva of Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, who says that we learn the power of originality from the spring.  In order to purify something in standing water, the water needs to be 40 Sa'ah.  However if you purify something in spring water there is no shiur.  The smallest amount can purify.  This is power of originality, says Rav Hutner.

The wellsprings sing, "V'Sharim Ki'Cholalim Kol Mayanai Bach" (Tehilim 87:7) Mayanai means not only "wellsprings" but also "my insides", which is how Rashi explains this pasuk.  Shira to Hashem must come from deep within you.   Everyday life brings you new experiences and opportunities for growth.  You need to internalize them and produce a new original song, clean and crisp like the fresh running waters.

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Hen - Can You Afford To Have Another Child?

The Gemara says that a hen which lays an egg every day proves that Hashem has made creation with the possibility of giving forth offspring every day. Does the hen not worry who will support all these chicks? The smart little hen knows the secret of how this world really works; parents do not provide the child with food Hashem does. A newborn child is not a burden on his earthly parents already strained budget. Each child is also a child of Hashem's and is born with his own expense account from his Father in Heaven.

The Hen Sings "Nosen Lechem L'Chal Basar Ki L'Olam Chasdo"; Hashem provides sustenance to each individual because his kindness is eternal.

Thu, 22 Oct 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Me-owch! The Galus is a Game of Cat & Mouse

The Knaf Renanim says that the cat is not a predator by nature.  It is quite domesticated.  The one thing the cat can't stand is a mouse.  This intense hatred towards a specific animal is unique to the cat among the animals.  The mouse he says, although it seems like it only causes damage, that is only when it comes above ground to steal some food.  However in its natural habitat below the ground, the mouse serves an important function in the world, even though we don't know what that function is.  Hashem created the cat's ingrained hatred to keep the mouse where it belongs.

The Knaf Renanim says the Nimshal is Torah.  The cat is the Yetzer Hara, the mouse is Am Yisroel and the ground is where the Torah is.  I once heard a similar explanation with the Nimshal being the Galus.  In Galus, Bnei Yisroel has been thrown to the ground.  We are to remain there, absorbed only in Torah and Mitzvos.  The big world out there with all its attractions is not for us.  We are not invited to the party right now.  If we stay underground and out of sight, we will remain safe and protected.  When we become "curious" and venture out to enjoy the Gashmiyus the world has to offer, the cat or the "Umos HaOlam" become unhappy that we infringing on their turf.  They are Hashem's messengers to send us scampering back to where we belong. 

Sometimes we venture out too far.  The cat sees us and we run but we can't make it back to our hole and we are caught. The cat mercilessly persecutes us and kills us with no chance of escape. The Knaf Renanim says that cat catches his prey batters it and then lets it go.  The mouse thinks he has broken loose, but this is just a game.  After a few feet he grabs him again and pummels him once more.  After a few rounds of this game he finally eats him (I saw this with my own eyes once).

The cat says to the mouse, "Im Tagbia KaNesher V'Im Bein Kochavim Sim Kinecha M'Sham Oiridcha N'um Hashem", if you choose to rise up to places you don't belong, I will bring you down.  "Erdof Oivai VaAsigaim V'Lo Ashuv Ad Kaloisum" I will chase my enemy and not return until I wipe him out.

When caught the mouse says, "V'Ata Tzadik Al Kol Haba Aleinu Ki Emes Asisa V'Anachnu Hirshanu"; you are justified in all you do.  You are correct and we have been wicked.

It's been a long galus with us buried in the ground.  The times we've come up we've been hunted and killed.  Hang in there and don't leave your place. Our time will soon come and HaKadosh Boruch Hu will say, "Hisnari MeiAfar Kumi"; brush off the earth and rise once again. Bimheira Biyameinu Amein!

Tue, 21 Jul 2009 03:00:00 +0000
The Fox Sings - Whose Assets Are You Leveraging? The sly fox is a shrewd crook.  He never produces anything himself, he'd rather just take from others through trickery.  He doesn't even have a home.  He finds himself a cave where rodents and insects live and chases them out and makes himself comfortable.  However his trickery catches up with him and he eventually falls into his own trap.  To catch the fox the hunter sets up a fake cave equipped with a trap.  When the fox devilishly makes his way into the cave he is finally caught and his life of injustice is over.  (HaKol Yishabchucha - Birchas HaShir)

This is the meaning of the pasuk in Yirmiya (17:11), says the B'Soraso Yehgeh.  "Korei Dagar V'Lo Yalad, Oseh Osher B'Lo Mishpat, BaChatzi Yamav Ya'azvenu", the Dagar bird whistles and all the chicks follows him thinking the Dagar is their mother.  However when they get older they will realize the truth and leave the Dagar empty.

Some people prefer not to build anything on their own.  They prefer to sit idly while others build.  Then they set their eyes on fruits of other peoples' labor and scheme  to take it from them through cunning and guile.  Any scheme based on trickery will eventually collapse.  Then all that you have amassed from others will disappear, leaving you caught like a fox in a fake safe haven.  

The fox sings (Yirmiya 2:13), "Hoi Boneh Baiso B'Lo Tzedek", woe is to the one who builds his fortune bereft of any sense of justice.  This unjust wealth will eventually become his downfall.

Mon, 15 Jun 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira - Shine Like The Moon

The moon rules the night.  But does it really?  The moon has no light of its own, it merely reflects the light of the sun.  Some times the moon is full and shines bright.  Sometimes it is so thin you can barely see it.  Sometimes it is hidden and not visible at all.  It doesn't even come and go at a fixed time.  Sometimes it shines a whole night and sometimes it sets very quickly right behind the sun.

The moon has nothing of its own, it is only a tributary of the sun, reflecting its light on the side of the earth that cannot see the hiding sun.  The moon represents Klal Yisroel and each individual Yid.  The sun represents Hashem.  In this world Hashem is in hiding.  We don't have our own light, our task is to reflect Hashem's hidden light on the world and make it a brighter place.  

As much as we'd love to shine bright all the time, this is not in our control.  Sometimes we are afforded the opportunity and resources to do great things and make a tremendous Kiddush Hashem.  We also go through tougher periods where we try to stay afloat ourselves and have no opportunity to shine Hashem's light elsewhere.  This all depends on Hashem's will and we must accept it happily.

The Moon sings (Tehilim 104:19), "Asa Yarei'ach LiMoadim" the moon is made to shine at unpredictable intervals.  "Shemesh Yada Mivo'o", only the sun knows when the moon will shine.  The moon doesn't ask, it takes advantage of every opportunity afforded it without question.  Either way it sings a happy tune, eagerly awaiting the sun's bright light so that it can light up the darkness of the night.

Come see our new Tefila site at and join Klal Yisroel in their Tefilos. 

Tue, 02 Jun 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Rivers Sing, What About The Mountains? During the week leading up to Shavuos as my little son was singing the Har Sinai song, I was wondering why in Perek Shira the mountains don't say Shira?  The next day I said Perek Shira and when saying the Shira of the rivers, "Neharos Yimcha'u Kaf Yachad HaRim Yiraneinu", let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing for joy together I realized the mountains do sing!  But what are they singing about?  Why don't they sing alone?  And what is their connection to the rivers?

Maybe we can offer as follows.  Water comes from the skies in small drops.  These drops fall on the mountain which channels them in small streams that turn into raging rivers whose rushing waters and roaring rapids sound like people clapping.   

We know that Torah is compared to water. "Yaarof KaMatar Likchi" (Haazinu 32:2).  Drops of Torah fall from Shamayim onto the mountain.  The mountain is the Rebbi who responsible to put the torah together and pass it along to Am Yisroel.  The mountain is merely a link in the chain from Shamayim.  This why, although, "Hashem Moloch Gei'us Laveish", Hashem dresses in pride (Tehilim 93:1), the Torah is delivered through a low and humble mountain who recognizes that it is really Hashem's Torah and it plays only a middleman's role.  That is why the Torah was given on the humble Har Sinai through the most humble person on the face of the earth, Moshe Rabbeinu.

The mountain does not boast of its individual accomplishment.   Only when it hears the loud noises of Am Yisroel learning Torah way downstream, does it delight in knowing that its mission was accomplished and the sounds of Torah indeed fill the world.  "Neharos Yimcha'u Kaf" when the rivers roar with the sounds of torah, then, Yachad HaRim Yiraneinu, together with them but in the background the humble mountains will rejoice.

Thu, 28 May 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Mule - If I Were Hashem I Would...

A wise man once proposed marriage to a beautiful woman telling her "with your good looks and my brains we will have the most incredible kids." Her blunt response was "what happens if the kids have your looks and my brains?" Hashem made the world with an enormous array of creatures. Every creature he created no matter how destructive has benefits that outweigh the damage.

Man in his narrow view of things sees a donkey and horse and says "wow if we can get the benefit of the strengths of both these animals we can create the perfect animal". The results speak for themselves. The mule cannot produce any offspring and is considered to be a most destructive animal. The gemara says (Chulin 7b) nobody kicked by a mule will survive. The lesson of the mule is that it is better to let Hashem run the world although we may have some very seemingly good ideas.

The Mule Sings "Yoducha Hashem Kul Malchei Aretz Ki Shamru Imrei Picha". After seeing man's handiwork compared to Hashem's all the kings of the world will admit that it is worthwhile to let Hashem be the big boss!

Tue, 26 May 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira - The Day The Sun Will Stand Still

In times long gone by, people would worship the sun.  This may seem ludicrous to us but it is more a reflection on our lack of understanding than of their lack of intelligence.  The Rambam says that the heavenly bodies all recognize their creator and are not inanimate objects.  They possess a soul and spirit and have great powers.  We as Yehudim know however that these powers all come from Hashem and they cannot do anything against the will of their Creator.  Rabbeinu Bachye says that one should not be proud that he doesn't worship the sun until he comprehends the full capability of the sun.  Only then, if you manage to understand that this powerful sun is only a servant of Hashem, may you boast that you are a believer in the true Hashem.

We are put on this world to be able to see beyond the mask of this world.  Whether in the olden days when it was the sun, or now the technology and current events, we must see beyond the thin veil trying to conceal our Creator and true Master of our fate, whether it regards health, wealth, or happiness.  It all comes from the One above.  Not from a smiling or angry sun, not from a bullish or bearish market, and not from wonderful or disappointing people around us.  If you can see beyond all that, then no doubt that Rabbeinu Bachye will testify that you are a true Eved Hashem.

The day will come when Hashem removes his mask and reveals himself as the King of all Kings, in his true glory.  All the pretenders who were given free reign to fool us for so long will stand there totally powerless as the King ascends to His throne in plain sight of the entire universe and all of creation.

At Birchas HaChama we peer through the cloudiness of our minds and see the mighty sun for what it is.  We celebrate the creation of the Hashem's servant the sun, as it returns to the place where it was originally hung by Hashem 5769 years ago for the purpose of concealing the great light of Hashem.

The sun itself yearns for the day the that its second hand light will stop being a source of error by humanity and a tremendous Chillul Hashem.  Every day the sun sings, "Shemesh Yarei'ach Amad Zevula L'Or Chitzecha Yihaleichu", the sun and moon stand still in their habitation at the light of Your arrows as they go, at the shining of Your glittering spear (Chavakuk 3:11).  The sun longs for the day when its light will be dimmed and the world will bask in the glow of the light of Hashem!

I am the sun, the mighty king of the sky
The most powerful man, can't look me straight in the eye
People think I am the source of all light but I wonder why
I am simply a humble servant of my master on high

To conceal His brilliant light, Hashem made me His mask
To see through this ruse, is your life's ultimate task
I yearn for the day when people will not question or ask
Together in Hashem's light, you and I will both bask

Tue, 07 Apr 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Swim With The Fish, Listen Carefully For Directions The Siach Yitzchok says that the fish are more fortunate that other creatures.  They live in the water, a place where tumah, impurity has no power.  That is why we find that any time Hashem speaks to a Navi outside the holy confines of Eretz Yisroel, like to Yechezkel and Daniel, it is always by the water.  The fish sing "Kol Hashem Al HaMayim", the voice of Hashem is on the water.  They sing of their good fortune to live in the holy waters where the voice of Hashem still resonates.

Maybe we can add that water represents torah.  Torah, the gemara tells us does not become tamei, just like water.  The world is a confusing place with all sorts of voices calling out at you from different directions.  What to do, who to listen to?  Dive into the torah drink it with thirst and swim its vast oceans.  In this pure environment that can be recreated anywhere in the world, you too can tune out the static and noise echoing from all directions, and hear the voice of Hashem.

The wealthy ruler of the Volozhin district would come to speak to Rav Chaim Volozhin to ask his advice.  It is said that this non-jew would tell Rav Chaim all his problems and all his dilemmas.  All the while Rav Chaim would sway over his gemara until he finished speaking.  Then Rav Chaim would look up and give his answer.  We may never reach the level of Rav Chaim Volozhin but if it is peace of mind, clarity, and direction that you are looking for, you too can find it in the sea of torah.

Thu, 19 Mar 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The House Goose - The Only Living Eye Witness The house goose sings "Hodu L'ashem Kiru Bishmo Hodi'u Ba'amim Alilosov", thank Hashem, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people (Tehilim 105:1).  Why the house goose?  Why are they calling to all the nations.

Rav Sasson Chazan in his Sefer HaShira HaZos explains as follows.  In Tehilim (117) it says, "Halelu Es Hashem Kol Goyim..." the goyim will praise Hashem for the kindness.  The gemara in Pesachim (118b) as explained according to the meforshim, say that only the goyim who have plotted against us whose plots were constantly foiled by Hashem, know the amazing kindness that Hashem has done with us.  We ourselves have no idea because these devious plans never came to fruition.

A house duck hangs around the house seeing the things that we do not.  For example, a burglar may be stalking a Yid's house in middle of the night , when suddenly the Yid wakes up to take a drink.  The burglar is scared off and the only eyewitness is the house goose, taking this all in from the outside.

It is impossible for us to realize all the good Hashem does for us because much of it takes place behind our back.  However the house goose is watching.  Listen to it praise Hashem and follow suit, because in its song it is telling your story.

Tue, 20 Jan 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Rav Chaim Kanievsky - The Desert Is Hashem's Showcase The desert is hot, dry, and lifeless.  Yet it takes up around one third of the Earth's land surface.  Why did Hashem make a world with so much "dead space"?  Rav Chaim Kanievsky says that Hashem made the desert because from here we can understand that in the future Hashem will make the desert bloom.  Obviously if Hashem made it, it will not stay barren forever.

The Radak says that Eretz Yisroel, Yerushalayim, and the Bais HaMikdash in their destruction are like the desert.  They one time all bloomed, as the rain or Shefa from Hashem poured down on the world through this wonderful place.  As the rain from Shamayim nourished our gashmiyos and ruchniyos, we grew to become big strong trees reaching the Shamayim with our avodah.

The desert says, "Yisusum Midbar V'tzia V'Sagel Arava V'Sifrach K'Chavatzeles", the wilderness and the parched land shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose (Yeshaya 35:1).  Desert plants can survive through the harsh desert climate, but they do not grow very tall.   The day will yet come when the Bais HaMikdash will once again bring the rains down on our dried out neshamos, which have managed to survive all these years on a few drops of rain.  When that happens, Am Yisroel will once again stand tall, covering the land and reaching the heavens.  We will be Hashem's showcase.

Mon, 05 Jan 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: How To Get Rid Of The Flies From Your Table

The Isha HaShunamis, whose home Elisha HaNavi stayed at, commented that despite Elisha's modest nature, she knew Elisha was a holy man.  How?  The gemara says (Brachos 10b) that she saw that there were no flies near his table.  The Ben Yehoada explains the in Perek Shira it says that the fly says Shira when Bnei Yisroel is not learning Torah (The Yetzer Hara is compared to a fly).  So the Isha HaShunamis concluded that since there were no flies on his table, he must constantly be learning torah.

This is why, says the Ben Yehoada, flies gravitate towards a table full of food.  Since there is a special obligation to learn torah at the table during the meal, the flies come to see if the participants are discussing torah by the table.  If they aren't, the fly will have its opportunity to say Shira. 

This would also explain the miracle in the Bais HaMikdash that in the place where they Shechted the animals, there were never any flies (Avos 5:5).  Although MiDerech HaTeva you would expect the flies to swarm the freshly slaughtered meat since this was a Makom Kadosh of pure Deveikus to Hashem, the flies had no opportunity to say Shira there and therefore stayed away. 

So If you are having fly problems, it may be worth adding a little more torah discussion to your table.  There is plenty of upside benefit in any event.

Thu, 20 Nov 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira - A Deer In The Headlights Rav Chaim Kanievsky explains that deer meat is very sweet and sought after by many predators in the animal kingdom.  This doesn't bode well for the continued existence of the deer.  However, Hashem gives the deer the tools it needs to survive. Unmatched speed and the ability to sleep with one eye open and one eye on its surroundings, keeps the deer one step ahead of the animals hoping to have a sumptuous meal.

This why, says Rav Chaim Kanievsky, the deer sings "VaAni Ashir Uzecha, VaAranen LaBoker Chasdecha Ki Hayisa Misgav Li UManos B'Yom Tzar Li" I will sing of your power; and I will sing of your loving kindness in the morning; for you have been my fortress and my refuge in the day of my trouble.  The deer thanks Hashem for giving him the tools to run away and survive another night in the dangerous wilderness.

Maybe we can compare this to our personal struggle against the Yetzer Hara which is compared to the darkness of night.  When we are tired and weak he attacks us.  However no matter how smart or fast he is, Hashem has made us one step smarter and faster then him.  We have the ability to escape, even as he closes in in our moment of weakness. For this we thank Hashem.

Let's use the tools and abilities that Hashem has given us.  When temptation closes in, remember to run and not get caught like a deer in the headlights!

Tue, 28 Oct 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Frog - The Symbol of Kiddush Hashem Rav Yechiel Michel Stern in the Nishmas Kol Chai points out that we find time and time again the frogs taking up their mission for Hashem fearlessly without any concern for their own death. By the Maka of tzefardei'a we find frogs jumping into burning ovens. Then we find in the medrash, when Hashem wanted to kill a person in Eiver HaYarden with a scorpion who couldn't swin across the Yarden, the frog carried the dangerous scorpion across without worrying that the scorpion will bite him. In the Hakdama of Perek Shira we find the frog offering himself as food for a species that lives on the edge of the river that eats frogs. The frog doesn't run. He makes himself readily available to fulfill the Tzivui Hashem.

To have a moment of clarity and be Moseir Nefesh is a great thing. Once you have earned your wings and still come out alive, you may be more reluctant to take your chances again the next time. Not so with the frogs. Their whole essence is Kiddush Hashem, over and over again. They sing day and night and don't ever stop croaking. What are they croaking? The song of complete Mesiras Nefesh to the great King, "Boruch Shem Kevod Malchuso L'Olam Va'ed." Hashem's Kingdon is blessed for all eternity.

Wed, 22 Oct 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Help! There Are Slugs In My Succah

One night of succos my son jumped out of his bed in the succah startled. He was half sleeping when he felt a mushy thing in his hands. When he got up to check what it was he saw a slug. We turned the lights on and twenty minutes later we had captured 13 slugs of all sizes. We were shocked because we had never seen these before other that an occasional slug in the garden. We didn't know what to do. The next night we had some friends over who told us to pour salt near the succah walls because slugs are 90% water and they hate salt because it will melt them. This is why they also do not come out in sunlight.

Slugs are like the reshaim of this world. As long as they stay in their cozy shell in this world they are safe and protected. In the next world when they come out and face the truth that hits them like bright light, they melt away very quickly because their wholes lives consisted of nothing but vapor which cannot stand up to the bright light of truth.

Even in our own lives we often take a position that we put much thought and effort into justifying to ourselves. That's all fine and dandy until we are forced to face the real truth. Suddenly all the excuses and "bubba meisos" that we told ourselves for years disappear in one second and we feel really dumb.

The Slug sings: Kimo Shavlul Temes Yahaloich, Naifel Eishes Bal Chazu Shemesh; Like the slimy track of a slug which disappears; like the stillborn of a woman that does not see the sun.

Wed, 08 Oct 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Waters Sing The Powerful Song Of Humility

Rabbeinu Bachaya in VaYikra (2:13) quotes the medrash that says that when Hashem created the world and separated the upper waters from the lower waters, the lower waters began to cry. They were sent away from their lofty abode in Shamayim down on to this lowly world. The Gemara in Taanis (7a) says that water is the symbol of humility. No matter where it is, it always goes down to to the lowest spot.

The crashing of the waves in the sea is so powerful that according to a study done five years ago, it causes the equivalent of a 5.7 magnitude earthquake. This is the noise of the broken heart. This is the roar of humility of the water, who not only left its lofty place in Shamayim, but even on earth finds itself in the lowest point. The gemara Megila (31a) tell us that where ever we find the greatness of Hashem, there we also find His humility. Hashem's greatness is most evident in Shamayim, therefore so is His humility most evident there.

The water sings "MiKolos Mayim Rabim Adirim Mishbirei Yam", greater than the sounds of the great (and humble) waters that are so powerful that it break the seas, "Adir BaMarom Hashem", Hashem, even as he sits in the highest of heaven, makes far more noise with his humility. Since both His greatness and humility go hand in hand and give a seismic shake to the world.

The lesson here is that humility is greatness, and they both cause a ruckus that no one can miss. What you won't achieve with haughtiness and arrogance, you will achieve with humility. Even the hard of hearing will hear your message loud and clear.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Cows Also Miss The Bais HaMikdash The Shira of the large kosher animals is “Harninu Leilokim Uzeinu Hari’u Leilokei Yaakov”, sing aloud to Hashem our strength; blast joyful sounds to Hashem of Yaakov.   This pasuk is from Tehilim 81, and it is the Perek we say on Yom Chamishi as the Shir Shel Yom.

The Vilna Gaon writes in the name of the Zohar that the world will exist for 6000 years corresponding to the days of the week.  The Shira we say each day of the week corresponds to those thousand years.  That means that the Shir of Yom Chamishi corresponds to the Jewish year 4000-5000 (roughly from the years 240-1240 CE).

The Shiras Meir points out that these one thousand years were after the Churban Bais HaMikdash and there were no Korbanos.  The gemara Taanis 27b says that Hashem promised Avrohom that when there will be no Bais HaMikdash, Hashem will accept our Tefilos in place of Korbanos.

Similarly say the Shiras Meir, the kosher animals are also missing out.  During the time of the Bais HaMikdash they were brought up LiRatzon on the Mizbei’ach.  In the 1000 years corresponding to Yom Chamishi there was no mizbei’ach.  Therefore they sing to Hashem in lieu of being brought for a Korban.

May we be zocheh to Bi’as HaMoshiach and the Binyan Bais HaMikdash where both Am Yisroel and the kosher animals will once again participate in the Avodas HaKorban to Hashem.

Mon, 25 Aug 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Now The Birds Have Home And We Don't

When you go to the Kosel HaMaaravi you will see an abundance of birds in and around the area. It wasn't always so. The roof of the Bais Hamikdash had spikes to prevent birds from sitting on it. Now that the Bais HaMikdash is destroyed a bird, who can lay its eggs anywhere, can even make a nest on the Makom HaMikdash where the Mizbei'ach once stood.

The bird is a reminder of our fate in Galus. Klal Yisroel has only one place to serve Hashem. The Bais HaMikdash, our entrance way to heaven, is no longer accessible to us. Unlike the birds in galus we have no place to call home. (Mahari Ben Yichiye)

"Gam Tzipor Matza Bayis U'Dror Ken La Asher Shasa Efrocheha Es Mizbichsecha Hashem Tzivokos Malki Veiloikoi"; Even the bird has a home and makes its nest on the Mizbei'ach of Hashem.

Sun, 10 Aug 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Camel - Searching For Moshiach, Oasis or Mirage?

The tall camel travels through the desert looking out and constantly searching the vast expanses in the hope of finding an oasis in which to quench its thirst. As the days go by and there is still no sign of water the camel can roar for a drink, which for him can consist of 46 liters of water.

So too says the Shiras Ariel, Hashem who sits on His throne high in the Heavens, travels through the years of Galus (kiviyachol) searching for the zchus of His beloved nation in order to be able to bring Moshiach and the Geula Sheleima.

The Camel says, "Hashem MiMarom Yishag Um"Mi'on Kodsho Yitein Kolo", Hashem roars from on his above and from His dwelling lets out a noise. "Sha'og Yishag Al Naveihu", He roars for His absent Bais HaMikdash.

Tue, 22 Jul 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Ruach - The Winds of Change, The Spirit of Old Ever since the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, Bnei Yisroel has been dispersed to the four ends of the earth.  We've traveled through every generation, every locale, every different culture, and every conceivable "Mishugas".  Our mission; not to be influenced and to remain true to our heritage.   Very often we have failed, hence the continued lengthy Galus.
The word Ruach means, "spirit".  It also means "wind". In the last hundred years alone we have seen a wave a new "ism"s that rose and fell.  Usually taking our best and brightest down with them. There is no new "ism" and no magic formula that can finally rescue us from this bitter Galus.  The only solution is to return to the spirit of old. The spirit of "Yisroel Saba". By returning to our forefather's roots, Hashem will send winds to the four corners of the world to lift us up and carry us away to Eretz Yisroel for the Geula Acharona, the final redemption.
Maybe this is pshat in the pasuk of the Shira of the "Ruach".  "Oimar LaTzafon Teini, U'L'Teiman Al Tichla'i", Hashem says to the northern and southern winds, the destructive forces, the spirit of the times that have carried His children far away from Torah, stop your destruction.  Havi'i Banai MeiRachok U'Bnoisai Miktzei Ha'Aretz", reverse your direction and use your power and speed to carry my sons and daughter back to me. Bring them back to Torah.  Bring them back for the final redemption.

Tue, 17 Jun 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: What Is Gehinom Singing About? The mystery of the world is, why do some people have it so good and some live miserable lives?  All the studies in the world cannot find a correlation to properly solve this enigma.  Hashem is infinitely wise and we can’t begin to fathom how he runs the world.  Chazal however reveal to us, every now and then, little nuggets of wisdom that tell us something about how Hashem runs the world.

Koheles tells us (5:12) “Oisher Shomur L’B’Alav L’Ra’asoi” wealth is saved for its owner, for his detriment. The Baalei Mussar say that when someone has it good he should start worrying.  Maybe, just maybe Hashem is rewarding him in this world for a Mitzva he did in order to finish off his reward so that he can punish him in the next world.  Anytime you have it very good you should wonder what you are giving up in the eternal world for this passing earthly pleasure.

With this the Shiras Ariel (Rav Ariel Hodaya) explains the song of Gehinom.  “Ki Hisbiya Nefesh Shokeika, V’Nefesh R’eiva Milei Tov”, for he satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.  This means Hashem satisfies the material desires of the wicked by rewarding them in this world for the good they have done.  Why is this something for Gehinom to sing about?  Because after this "wonderful" life, the person’s next destination is an extended stay at the Gehinom Inn.

Wed, 28 May 2008 03:00:00 +0000 Both dew and rain are essential for life as they nourish nature and help the crops grow.  Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz points out that they have very different origins.  Rain is condensation that goes up from the oceans and is purified in the sky.  It is then sent back down in the form of sweet rainwater.  Dew on the other hand originates in the heavens above without any involvement from the world below.

The Knaf Renanim explains from Chazal that in order to get bracha from the heavens we must initiate the process from below.  We must initiate a relationship with Hashem by sending up Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim in order for Hashem to open up the heavens and pour abundant bracha on our lives.

In the history of the world, Hashem tells us, there will come a time that Bnei Yisroel will be so despondent and so disconnected from Hashem that we will not even be able to make this minimum effort to call out to Hashem.  What will be?  How will we merit salvation?  To this Hashem answers (Hoshea 14:6) , “Ehehyeh KaTal LiYisroel”, I will be like the dew to Am Yisroel.  I will send bracha that originates from me without waiting for their efforts from below.

There is only one condition that we need to fulfill in order to receive this free gift.  We need to open up to able to receive this Bracha.  “Yifrach KiShoshana” we must resemble a rose.  Roses are known to get their beautiful smell by absorbing dew.  The Rose with its head opened on top and its petal forming a cup around its head, catch more dew than other differently structured flowers.

Many times Hashem send bracha into our lives and we are too stubborn to even absorb it.  We have our own visions of how our salvation should be played out and are too blind to see Hashem’s chesed.  Open up your eyes and see the opportunity that Hashem is sending your way.  Free gifts don’t come often so don’t let it slip away.

Tue, 06 May 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Rat Sings- Every Breath You Take “Every creature on land has a parallel in the sea except the rat.” Chulin 127b.  The rat is the only creature that is not worthy enough for Hashem to have a created a similar animal in the oceans.  The Toras Kohanim in Parshas Shemini says “every creature that is Tamei on the land, its counterpart at sea is Tahor.  That means that the rat is the only creature in the entire world is completely Tamei.  It is further from Hashem than any creature on the planet.

Why is this?  The Knaf Renanim explains that every creature has some redeeming feature from which people can learn from.  The Gemara in Eruvin (100b) says that we learn Tznius from a cat, not stealing from an ant, etc.  Each animal sings to Hashem thanking Him for its unique attribute.  The rat doesn’t have a single unique attribute.  It has nothing desirable in it character.  What can we learn from the rat?  We can learn that life no matter how worthless and how empty is a great gift in and of itself.

The rat sings, “Kol HaNeshama Tihalel Ka”, every neshama praises Hashem.  Chazal tell us that the word Neshama in this pasuk can mean “Neshima”; breath.  We thank Hashem for every breath he gives us on this earth.  Whether life is good or bad; fulfilling or empty; whether we are capable of accomplishing great things or grounded by our handicaps; no matter what, we thank Hashem for life itself.  Even is a person is unconscious and on a respirator he still thanks Hashem for every “breath” he takes.  Each breath of life is a gift and its greatness should not be dismissed.

Wed, 26 Mar 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Rav Chaim Kanievsky - Extra Protection for the Sweet Deer

The deer is marked by many predators including man. Its sweet meat is a top choice on everyone's menu. This doesn't leave the deer a single sleep filled night. It is always watching its back.  It is always on the lookout for someone hunting it. How does it elude capture? With the special tools Hashem has endowed it with. It sleeps with one eye open and it is faster than its predators. It has incredible vision and an amazing sense of smell.

To be very special has a high price. But if Hashem made you special he will give you all the tools you need to realize your full potential even in the face of danger.

The Tzvi says "V'Ani Ashir Uzecha... Ki Hayisa Mizgav Li UManos BYom Tzar Li"; I will sing Hashem's praise... for you have been my fortress and my refuge in the day of my trouble."

Tue, 12 Feb 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Wolf's Heavy Price

The wolf is the shepherd's worst enemy. He sneaks in under the cover of darkness and swipes some sheep for dinner. If and when a shepherd manages to catch a wolf he will beat him mercilessly taking out on him all his frustrations for all the sheep that have been lost to wolves in the past. Did this wolf necessarily steal all those sheep? Probably not but the shepherd doesn't really care. To him this is payback for everything.

The Knaf Renanim adds that the reason why the Torah says that a thief who is caught pays double is because it is probably not his first time stealing. Therefore we make him pay back for the "other time" as well.

The lesson we learn from the wolf is that if you steal or cheat you may get away with it a few times. But if and when you do eventually get caught you will pay not only for what you were caught doing now but for all those who stole before you as well as for your own previous crimes. You will be the whipping boy who will pay the price.

The Wolf says, "Al Kol Dvar Pesha" we are punished not only for our own crimes but for all other crimes that our victim suffered from in the past. "Yishaleim Shnayim LiRei'ayhu", we will pay double because we already got away with it once.

Wed, 30 Jan 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Be Smart Like A Dumb Donkey

Avrohom went to the Akeida on a Chamor (donkey), Yisachar is compared to a Chamor, Moshe took his family on Chamor to Mitzrayim, Bilam got blasted by his Chamor, Pinchos ben Yair's Chamor wouldn't eat Tevel, and Moshiach will arrive on a Chamor. What is it with the Chamor?

There is no harder working, obedient, and modest animal like a Donkey. It carries its load without fuss with its great strength. Even when it lies down it doesn't throw off its load. It never uses this strength to fight or rebel against the wishes of a human. This is its nature. It never worries about its food because it always knows it will be rewarded for by its owner who needs to keep his trusty friend nice and strong.

The K'naf Renanim says that the Chamor is a reminder to us to put aside our own desires and subjugate ours wishes to that of our Master. "Bitul" was Avrohom's reaction to the Hashem's command to slaughter his son. Yisachar is completely devoted to Torah. Bilam had to be told off by a Donkey who was practicing Bitul, because he didn't know how to be "Mivatel" himself. Moshiach will arrive when Klal Yisroel understands that we need to be Mivatel ourselves to Hashem and he will take care of us.

The Donkey sings: "Licha Hashem HaGedula, V'Hagevura, V'Hatiferes..." To you Hashem are all the virtues and powers. We look to you and are Mivatel ourselves.

Thu, 10 Jan 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Wheat & Barley: Rich Man - Poor Man

Wheat and barley stand in stark contrast to each other. The wheat kernel has many layers of protective covering while the barley stands bare and exposed to the elements. Despite this difference the fact is that on the whole wheat does not fair any better than barley. In fact wheat encounters more problems than barley does. Why is this?

The Kenaf Renanim explains that when it comes to dealing with problems the poor man is far more adept than the rich man. The rich man thinks that all his wealth and connections can solve his problems and he throws all his resources and expends a great amount of energy to make the problems go away. But life doesn't work that way. At the end of the day he will need to come to the conclusion that the solutions lie only with his Father in heaven. So after running himself ragged he will finally look up to Shamayim and shed a tear for a heaven sent "Yeshua". On the other hand the poor man cuts right to the chase. As soon as there is trouble he knows he has nothing to hide behind. For him, his trusty Tehilim is his first and only option.

The rich Chittah with its many protective covers says "Shir Hamaalos" a song from the person with all the "Maalos", the person who has it all. "Mimaamakim Korsicha", after coming down many levels and finally humbling myself before Hashem only then from the depths I call out to you Hashem and hope that you are still willing to listen.

The bare Se'ora says "Tefila L'Ani Ki Yaatof" a Tefila from the poor person who is wrapped in trouble. "V"lifnei Hashem Yishpoch Sicho"; he doesn't need to call to Hashem. He is already standing before Hashem because he relies on him for everything since he can't do anything himself.

Thu, 27 Dec 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Tzipores Keramim - Rav Chaim Kanievsky Elaborates With One Word, "Titpalel"

My daughter was in the pediatric intensive care with a fluky and deadly heart virus.  She wasn't in the best hospital because we had no idea how serious it was when we brought her to the emergency room and the last thing we expected was that she would need to be hospitalized.  For a few days and nights we tore ourselves apart at her bedside in the pediatric ICU trying to decide if we should transfer her to another hospital.  The specialist in the other hospital said that he spoke with the doctors who were treating her and they were doing exactly what he would have done under the circumstances.  Nevertheless we were nervous and wanted her in the best possible care.

After a few days I went to Rav Chaim Kanievsky to get a bracha and ask his advice.  I was nervous and fumbled what I wanted to say and I ended up leaving after receiving the fairly standard "Bracha V'Hatzlacha".  All upset that I didn't get to ask what I wanted, the gabbai insisted I go back and explain him our deliberation.  Well, again it didn't come out exactly how I hoped but I did ask him what kind of Hishtadlus we needed to do as parents and if we needed to transfer her.  He answered in his brief style "Titpalel", daven for her.  Baruch Hashem the story has a happy ending and she stayed right where she was and recovered to full health.

The Tzipores Keramin in Perek Shira, says Rav Chaim Kanievsky, is a kind of grasshopper that has medicinal value and is used to cure people of various ills.  Because of this, says Rav Chaim, it is sought after and always in danger.  Therefore it sings "Esa Einai El HeHarim, MeiAyin Yavo Ezri", I lift my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come (if not from Hashem)?

The Shiras Meir says this is a "Remez", a hint not to run around looking for all sorts of questionable cures.  Hashem is the one who cures. "Esa Einai El HeHarim, MeiAyin Yavo Ezri" lift your eyes to Hashem and the Refuah will come from nowhere.  In one second Hashem can make the Tzipores Keramin suddenly appear to save you.  Yeshuas Hashem K'Heref Ayin.  Once you do your normal Hishtadlus, as Rav Chaim would say, Titpalel!

Wed, 19 Dec 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Fig Tree - Opportunity Does Grow on Trees!

I once went to barber and noticed a sign on the wall. It had a list of whole bunch of Mitzvos you can get when going to the barber. More than double digits! Now that was a revelation. But the truth is it's not a revelation at all. Hashem put us on this world to do mitzvos so why would he keep us here even for one extra second bereft of the opportunity to perform them?

For starters there are 6 mitzvos that you can be mikayem every second of your life. Additionally the sefer Chareidim lists mitzvos by part of the body that is used to be mikayem them. He lists 50 mitzvos Aseh and Lo Saaseh Min HaTorah that are just in your heart and another 28 MiDirabanan. Then he goes through mitzvos with the hands, legs, mouth, ears, etc.

In order to really take advantage of the mitzva opportunities you need to know the mitzvos because sadly there are so many things we do that are mitzvos but since we don't have in mind that we are doing for a mitzva its value is lost. If you study the mitzvos and keep your eyes open you will realize that every second of your life there are multiple mitzva opportunities.

The fig tree is unique in that its fruit blossom at different times. The gemara Eiruvin (54a) says that every time you stick your hand into the tree you will find a fig since they are constantly ripening. On the flip side of that, the gemara in Bava Metzia (21b) says that if you don't catch the fruit as soon as it blossoms it will fall from the tree and immediately become inedible. The Fig Tree sings "Notzer Ti'eina Yochal Pirya"; he who keeps his eye on the tree will eat its fruits. Same with the mitzvos. Keep your eyes open because it's a world full of opportunity. But as soon as you take your eye off the ball the opportunity disappears.

Tue, 27 Nov 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Rav Chaim Kanievsky - On The Bird Who Can't Keep Quiet

The Snunis, says Rav Chaim Kanievsky in his Peirush on Perek Shira, is the Tzipor Dror that a Mitzora brings for a Korban. Why does a Mitzora bring two of these birds? The gemara says in Chulin (62a) that Tzora'as is a punishment for Lashon Hara generally committed by people who talk too much. So as a Kapara he must slaughter birds who also chirp non-stop all day to remind him that he is not a bird and should watch his mouth.

So what Shira does this bird says? "L'Maan Yizamercha V'lo Yidom"; for the sake that I will praise you and not remain silent. Talking is great. That is why Hashem gave us the ability to do so. That is what makes us better than animals. They are simply classified as "Chai"; alive. We are "Midaber"; we can speak. That puts us in a whole new league. But only if we speak what we were intended to speak; praise of Hashem for all he does for us every day. So keep on chirping away!

Tue, 20 Nov 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Who Is The Boss? The Horse Says, The One With The Food

Did you ever go horseback riding? The first and most important rule they teach you is that you need to show the horse who is the boss. If you establish that, then you are okay. If not, get ready for a rough ride on the of this fast and mighty creature. The Gemara Pesachim says that a horse eats a lot, works a little, is arrogant, and would like to kill its owner in war. Not exactly the profile of an animal that you would think would relate to a weak human being as Mr. Boss. Similarly the Gemara in Pesachim says that Canaan, the father of all slaves commanded his children who were destined to be slaves, love stealing, love adultery, hate your owner, among other less than sterling character traits.

Inborn traits like those possessed by the slave and horse are the hallmarks of someone who desperately wants his freedom. Yet both of them are loyal because they know who butters their bread. Not only are they loyal but they are a model of subjugation and modesty. Similarly says the Knaf Renanim, we too at the very least should learn from these two characters how to behave towards Hashem. We may have our own plans and desires but at the very least we should be smart enough to know that when we need food we need to totally submit ourselves to our boss. When is that? Always!

The horse says, "Hinei K'Enei Avodim El Yad Adonaihem, K'Enei Shifcha El Yad Givirta, Kein Eineinu EL Hashem Elokeinu"; we are like the arrogant slave and the maidservant whose eyes are turned towards its master in complete humility, at least when it needs something.

Tue, 13 Nov 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Rain, Rain, Go Away, Come Back When There are Bills To Pay!

When my wife and I spent a year in Yerushalayim one of the big bonuses for us was the almost daily glorious weather. October, November, December, January... The beautiful sunshine the warm weather just kept up day after day. Then one February day I had to run an errand and I waited on line with an acquaintance who struck up a conversation about the weather. He complained bitterly about the lack of rain and how terrible it is. I of course shook my head in agreement meekly mimicking his sad sentiments but deep down I was more than thankful although I felt really guilty and selfish about it.

The fact is that the gemara Bava Metzia (84b) says that a day of rain is as tough as a day of judgment. In the days of Rebbi Yehuda HaNassi it never rained but the ground was always full of water. The gemara adds that if we weren't so desperately for rain for our survival the Chachomim would have davened to make it go away forever. Yes, rain is our lifeblood (even in the 21st century!). Can't live with it and can't live without it.  If rain is so important and integral to life what is it about rain that drove the Chachomim nuts? Were they such outdoorsmen that they felt claustrophobic when they had to stay indoors?

Rain we know is the symbol of Parnasa. If we examine our lives honestly we all know that our livelihood literally falls from Shamayim with no relevance to how smart or shrewd we are. Similarly, even with all the technology today we are still dependent on the weather's whims (which we can't even predict accurately, let alone control or alter).

We see in the Torah that money is the root of all evil. Having too much is considered a far bigger Nisayon than having too little. This could be the meaning of the gemara.  The gemara explains that if we were able to get through life without dealing with money the Chachomim would have long ago davened for it to become extinct. Unfortunately your ticket to survival in this world is money. You can't play if you don't pay. However when it rains on you, keep in mind that this is a judgment day for you. Money is double edged sword.  In Rebbi Yehuda HaNassi's great zechus money was not really an issue in his day. Just like he had all the luxuries in the world yet at his death he testified on himself that he did not enjoy even one iota of Olam HaZeh, so too his generation had all it needed without being busy with it.

The Rain Sings: "Geshem Nedavos Tanif Elokim Nachalascha V'Nilah Ata Konanta"; You Hashem sent a generous rain, to strengthen your inheritance, when it languished. We thank Hashem not for making us rich but for sending us money when we need it to help accomplish exactly what we need to do in life.  Other than that let the sun shine on us the light of Torah every glorious day.

Tue, 06 Nov 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Are You A Workaholic, What Do You Sing About?

The proud mantra of all workaholics is "Yegia Kapecha Ki Toichal Ashrecha V'Toiv Lach"; if you live off the sweat of your own hand you are fortunate and it will be good for you (Tehilim 128:2). This is often misused as an excuse for spending ones days and nights working instead of learning. Well, the Malbim has a different twist on these words. He says, Yegia Kapecha Ki Toichal" means he who works hard to earn the minimum necessary to survive. After he has enough to survive then he stops working and goes to learn. A person with this work ethic, says the Malbim, is fortunate because both his working and learning are viewed by Hashem as a mitzva. Whereas a person who works for the sake of working, all the time he spends is considered "Bitul Torah" which he will one day pay for dearly.

Maybe we can use this to explain the intent of the Perek Shira where it says the large unclean animal says "Yegia Kapecha Ki Toichal..."; the large animal is a great worker. If he prides himself on his tremendous output in the field then we know he is "Temei'a", a dirty unkosher animal. The Beheima Tehora on the other hand while also a great worker says, "Harninu Lei'Lokim Uzeinu"; the bulk of my strength is invested in singing to Hashem (Tehilim 81:2).

Tue, 30 Oct 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Amazing Bruised and Battered Pomegranate We have been seeing way too many little gnats in our apartment the past few days. When searching for the source we noticed that the untended pomegranate tree in our garden (due to Shmittah) has many pomegranates that are in quite poor condition. Not to get too graphic but they have many wounds from ants and other pests and most seemed to have exploded open. So we now have pomegranates that are hanging open like a book with all their seeds totally exposed and attracting many gnats.

While cutting them off the tree I noticed that although the fruit was in really terrible condition, the seeds themselves had a deep Bordeaux color, smelled divine, and seemed perfectly intact. How can this be after being exposed to the elements for what seemed like quite awhile?

This brought to mind the gemara in Megilah that explains the pasuk in Shir HaShirim, which is the song of the Pomegranate, "K"pelach HaRimon Rakaseich" just like the rotten pomegranate is full of beautiful seeds so too even the emptiest of Jews are full of precious mitzvos. The pasuk continues "MiBaad Latzamaseich" "behind your knot" even if they have exposed and defiled themselves in many ways, their mitzvos somehow manage to all stay intact and are protected and waiting for them in the World to Come.  

So remember that you and all Jews no matter how we appear on the outside are precious and loved by Hashem.  Think about all the mitzvos you have done over your lifetime and know that they have an everlasting impact.  You'd be surprised what zechusim we all have.  Think about this and you will have more respect for others as well as more respect for yourself.

Tue, 16 Oct 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Dinner At The Homeless Shelter - Caviar and Fine Wine?

A starving pauper came the door of the great amora, Rava, begging for food to eat. Rava asked him what he would like to eat, to which he replied fattened chickens and old wine. "Aren't you asking a little much from the public which you expect to support you?" asked Rava. The pauper then had the nerve to start quoting pasukim and giving Rava a lecture about bitachon and how, when, and what we eat is all in Hashem's hands! Just then Rava's sister whom he hadn't seen in 13 years came to visit. She brought for him a gift... you guessed it, a fattened chicken and old wine. Rava then turned to the pauper and said (in his language) touché.

This says the Shiras Meir is the song of the Stuffed Chicken, "Bitchu BaHashem Adei Ad, Ki B'Ka Hashem Tzur Olamim", have faith in Hashem always... Smart people aren't guaranteed to make a living and unemployed paupers don't necessarily eat moldy bread. No matter what your status or level of wealth only Hashem decides where your next meal will come from and what's on the menu.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Zarzir - Who Do You Hang Out With?

The characteristics of a kosher or non-kosher bird are very debatable since the Torah only lists names of non-kosher birds and not definitive signs like by animals and fish. Nevertheless Acheirim say ( Chulin 65a) that we can determine the kashrus of a bird by seeing which other birds it keeps its company. "HaShachen Im Temei'im Tomei Im Tehorim Tahor"; a species of bird who dwells with non kosher birds must be non kosher and vice versa. "Lo Lechinam Holach HaZarzir im Ha"oreiv"; not for naught does the Zarzir (starling) hang out with the Oreiv (raven) says Rebbi Shimon Ben Elazar, it is therefore not kosher as well.

The pasuk says the same about people "Yagid Olov Rei'oi"; look at his friends and you will know who he is. Even if you start out better than your friends the fact that you associate with a certain element reveals a certain root beneath your surface that will be exposed outwardly over time.

The Zarzir Sings (Yeshaya 61:9): V'Nodah BaGoyim Zar'am...Ki Heim Zera Beirach Hashem"; It is clear to all the other nations that Bnei Yisroel who lives alone without any friends among the goyim, that we must be the children of Hashem since we live only with the Torah of Hashem.

Tue, 14 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Freebird - How To Achieve True Independence

Rav Yaakov Emden in Zimras Ha'aretz says that Tasis is a free bird that does not accept authority. It cannot be tamed or trained no matter what incentives in the way of food you offer it. It cherishes its independence above all.

The Lechem Rav explains that the gemara says "Ein Ben Chorin Ela Mi SheOsek BaTorah"; only a person who learns Torah is completely free. The gemara learns this from the Torah's use of the word "Charus" "carved" which is similar to "Cheirus" "free" when describing the Luchos. The Lechem Rav says the gemara knows this from "mem sofis" and ‘samech" that are completely enclosed and since the luchos were carved through the entire thickness of tablet the fact that the inside of the carving did not fall our was a Nes since it is surrounded by air on all sides.

Just like a bird flies in the air and is not attached to the physical ground so too a Talmid Chochom who dissociated himself from the material world is "free" from the world's limitations and is able to soar to the Heavens freely.  "Ezri Me'Im Hashem Oseh Shamayim Va'Aretz"; both the bird and the faithful torah scholar sing, our help comes from Hashem and we will not sell our freedom for some meager earthy rations.

Tue, 07 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Fields - A Behind The Scenes View Of A Brilliant Investment Strategist

The Mabit says that every field has a specific crop that it is best suited to produce. In the days of old says the Gemara, there lived a tribe who knew what to grow on each field by tasting the soil. Today that art does not exist and it is purely "Siyata Dishmaya"; help from Heaven that places the idea of what crop to plant in each field in the mind of the farmer. If you get it right your harvest will be abundant if not you will reap lackluster results depending on how off the mark you are.

When the Torah promises that if you will keep the mitzvos your harvest will be rich, it means that Hashem will guide you how to best utilize your field to maximize results. If we do not keep the mitzvos than the guidance will lead us to a field of thorns. Nowadays we also need Hashem to guide us to the right paths in our search for sustenance. Which profession, business, employment, or deal we choose to pursue will determine our level of success. We need Hashem to guide us in the right direction.

The fields are the one who know the truth as they wait to be planted wondering if Hashem will help the owner with his decision. They sing, Hashem B'Chochma Yosad Eretz"; "Hashem in His wisdom set up the earth", in a way that only he knows how to reap its full potential.

Wed, 01 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira - Retzifi Say Nachamu Nachamu Ami - The Rare Bird Survives The Galus With Achdus

The Knaf Renanim describes this unknown bird that lives in the northen hemishphere and does not like the cold. Yet during migration season when the rest of the warm weather birds fly down south the Retzifi, says the Kenaf Renanim, stays behind because it doesn't want to miss the first days of summer. How does it survive the harsh winter? Groups gather together ranging from tens to hundreds and descend together to the bottom of a lake or river and form a tight circle where each bird puts its head underneath the feathers of the bird next to it.

From the Retzifi we learn two valuable lessons, says the Knaf Renanim. First unlike the American expression that says "when the going gets tough the tough get going" we learn that when the galus gets hard do not run away. Accept your punishment and do not curse the pain and grief. We should be so excited in anticipation the Geula that we simply don't want to leave our place for greener pastures. We should endure just to be first on line when the big day comes.

The second valuable lesson that we learn is that the way to survive the galus is through achdus. Each bird has no chance to survive individually. Its warmth and survival come from joining together in a way that each bird can provide warmth to its neighbor. So to for us to survive the galus and the threats from the outside Am Yisroel must stick together and unite and provide support for our fellow Jew.

After the Churban Hashem prepares us for the Galus and tells us "Nachamu Nachamu Ami" Learn from the the Retzifi how to hang on during the cold dark winter in order to enjoy the first rays summer.

Wed, 25 Jul 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Like Sheep To The Slaughter

Sheep have almost no capability to defend themselves. It is a weak animal that falls prey to wolves and other predators. Its only hope is when a shepherd comes along and offers it protection. Now the sheep can relax and enjoy grazing in the pasture secure in the knowledge that someone is looking after it and protecting it from all evil. Lo and behold one day the sheep's "protector" brings the sheep to a slaughterhouse where a man stands with a big knife slaughtering all the sheep one by one! As the sheep looks nervously to their protector waiting for him to take action, they see him calmly standing on the side doing absolutely nothing to stop this massacre.

We sing in Chad Gadya, Klal Yisroel is the sheep and all the nations are the predators. Thankfully Hashem is our protector and keeps us safe against all the odds. In the cycle of our history that keeps repeating itself, Am Yisroel lives through relatively peaceful periods until suddenly one day we find ourselves in the slaughterhouse. We turn our eyes to Heaven waiting for our protector to stop the bloodshed and destroy the slaughterer and the slaughterhouse. But lo and behold we see Hashem, who owns the whole operation and employs all the butchers, standing on the side in absolute silence!

The sheep sing, "Mi Kamocha B'Aleilim Hashem"; who is like you among the strong ones Hashem. The Gemara in Gittin (56b) says that the chachomim, perplexed by Hashem's lack of response to Titus's abominable behavior in the Kodesh HaKodashim, darshaned the pasuk "Mi Kamocha Ba"ilmim Hashem"; who is like you Hashem who has the ability to destroy all his enemies yet has the strength to control his wrath and his revenge while his most sacred possessions, Am Yisroel and the Bais HaMikdash are being violated by a lowly employee. From our shallow perspective we don't understand why history has been so cruel to us but surely if our almighty shepherd is silent it is definitely all for our own good.

Tue, 24 Jul 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Lightening Bolts and a Double Scoop of Vanilla Fudge

When I was younger there were many foods I didn't like, to say the least.  To mention a few of my (least) favorites there was spinach, avocado, and cauliflower.  I loved junk food however.  A few years ago I went on a "real" diet to start eating healthy, not to lose weight.  Out went all the processed garbage and suddenly avocado started tasting interesting.  Spinach was delightful and cauliflower was delicious (only Bodek of course).  My tongue finally regained its senses and started appreciating the wonderful foods and flavors Hashem put on His menu.

The gemara says that powerful and fearful bolts of lightening was made to straigthen out the crookedness in a person's heart.  Rain goes unappreciated until we see the power of the lightening and take note of Hashem's gift of rain.  The lightening shocks us back into reality, it cleanses our system.  Only then can we appreciate the rain which symbolizes life and understand how wonderful it is.

Sometimes Hashem sends awesome and frightful twists into our personal lives.  Think about who contrived these and shock yourself back to the reality of this world, it's purpose, and our mission in it.  Suddenly the things in your life you thought were bitter herbs will start tasting sweet and the things in life that we aspired to obtain, which we thought were sweet as sugar, will suddenly reveal its true color; poison that is killing our spiritual system.

The lightening says "Brakim Lamatar Asa"; Lightening is made (to appreciate) the rain!

Tue, 19 Jun 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Elephant - Does Size Matter?

I have always been amazed standing in Shul looking around at people davening Shemona Esrei. Some people are quite small and other are twice the size. Since each one is pouring his heart out in tefila and there is absolutely no correlation between one's size and the quantity or quality of his avodas Hashem, I always wondered why Hashem bothered to create one person using double the material. Why does he need to be so big? Where is the added value? Same thing with the animal kingdom. Is the gigantic elephant better than a smaller creature? What is the purpose of his huge size?

The answer is clearly yes. Hashem has planned his creation down to the minutest details and there is a reason for everything. Size does matter but we do not always possess the capability to understand why.

The Elephant Says, "Ma Rabu Maasecha Hashem, Mi'od Amku Machshvosecha", How great are are your creation Hashem, Your thoughts are very deep!

Thu, 31 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Keep The Faith, The Night Will Soon End

Sunset is beautiful and sad. The day is over. As we watch the darkness slowly creep in it can set off a state of panic. Will it ever get light again? Will the day come back? Although the past is never an indication of the future nevertheless we all relax with the perfect belief that the night will not stay forever. The morning will come and bring back the light. A new day will begin and with it new horizons.

In our personal lives as well even in our darkest hour we should have perfect faith in Hashem that the darkness is a time to rest and regroup because morning is just around the bend.

"L'Hagid Baboker Chasdecha V'Emunascha BaLeilos"; Keep your faith in the dark night because by the morning you will speak of Hashem's kindness.

Mon, 28 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Earth - Are You A Doormat?

If you are feeling like the doormat of the world, the bottom of the totem pole, stepped on by all those around you, remember that Hashem created everything including the ground. You have a direct relationship with Him and have the same access as the "higher ups" to get to him. When you are down look up! Nothing separates you from the top.

"To Hashem belongs the whole earth and it contents, the world and all its inhabitants" "From the edges of the earth songs are heard..."


Tue, 15 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: The Heavens - Are You On a Pedestal? Did you ever ask yourself why Hashem made someone rich if he is such a crook? Or why Hashem wasted such an enormous amount of brains on someone so arrogant? Or why he gave such wonderful children to such a miserable father?

Keep in mind that if Hashem has blessed you in a way that makes you the envy of people around you must behave like you are on a pedestal because you are. You are an example of Hashem's handiwork and you should reflect his greatness and justify his decision to endow you with these gifts. Just like the great Heavens sing "Hashayim misaprim kvod Kel" the Heaven that Hashem made so high and great sing are a testament to Hashem's greatness and you should also be.

Wed, 09 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Perek Shira: Pie in The Sky If you are feeling like you have reached the top and are greater than those around you, think of the Heavens. They soar above the entire world yet rather than look down and gloat, they use their front row seats to look up at Hashem and marvel at his glory. When you are up look up! Don't look down.  Think about reaching the next level rather than feeling satisfied about what you have already achieved. "Hashayim Misaprim Kvod Kel".  The Heaven's speak of Hashem's honor.

Mon, 30 Apr 2007 03:00:00 +0000