Friday, September 3, 2010

Parshas Netzavim–Vayeilech

Something to say

Gather together the people – the men, the women, and the small children (31:12).

In this parshah we learn about the commandment of Hak’hel, for which the entire Jewish nation was required to assemble in the Beis Hamikdash to hear parts of Deuteronomy read by the king.

Rashi cites the Sages’ comment that the men came to study, the women to listen, and the children were there so that those who brought them would be rewarded. At first, this seems difficult to understand. Young children can be noisy and disruptive, and they would probably prevent their parents from being able to listen closely and concentrate. Along these lines Rabbi Nosson Adler asks why the parents had to go through the trouble of bring their little ones to Jerusalem. Would it have been better to leave them at home so that the parents could fulfill the mitzvah undisturbed? He answers that the reward for bringing the children to Hak’hel was greater than any loss or difficulty it entailed. When a child is placed in an atmosphere of holiness, it creates an everlasting impression in his young heart and brings him closer to God. The value of such an experience is incalculable.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Parshas Ki Savo

Something to say

I have not transgressed any of Your commandments, and I have not forgotten (26:13).

Why the apparent redundancy? One who does not transgress obviously has not forgotten. The Sfas Emes answers that sometimes we may perform a mitzvah only out of habit, forgetting the reason behind it. While we may fulfill the commandment, we lack the proper kavanah, intent. Therefore we declare in this verse, “I have not transgressed and I have not forgotten”; we have not only fulfilled the mitzvah, but we have also not forgotten its meaning.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Parshas Ki Seitzei

Something to say:

Forty [lashes] shall he strike him (25:3).

Although the prescribed punishment for one who has committed certain sins is forty lashes, this is actually reduced by one in practice, so that the sinner receives only thirty-nine. The Ma’ayanei Chachomim discusses one reason for this. He says that if a person were to receive the full punishment of forty lashes, he would feel that his sin was totally wiped out, and he might not be careful in the future. The Chachomim therefore reduced the number of lashes, so that the person would continue to examine his ways.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Parshas Shoftim

Something to say:

Our hands have not spilled his blood (21:7).

In the discussion of the Eglah Arufah which we read in this parshah, we are told that when the community’s elders find a murder victim between two cities, they must make the declaration that their hands did not spill the victim’s blood.

The Gemara asks, “Would anyone possibly suspect that the elders of the beis din committed the murder?” The Gemara explains that the elders were actually declaring that they were unaware of this person’s presence in their city, which is why they did not escort him properly and attend to his needs for the road. The implication is that if someone feels that he is alone and uncared for, it can be so depressing that it affects even his will and ability to survive.

The Maharal explains this Gemara further by teaching that every individual has an inner need to feel part of a community, to know that he is not only an individual, but an integral part of the Jewish family. By escorting someone even a few steps from our homes we create an attachment between him and us, and this can provide him with the Heavenly protection extended to the nation as a whole. This intense feeling of belonging something we can provide the guests we host in our homes, and the effort it requires is worth our while.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Parshas Re’eh

Something to say:

And [God[ will give you rest from all your enemies all around, and you will dwell securely (12:10).

The Gelilei Zehav comments that while these two phrases, referring to rest from one’s enemies and security, may appear redundant, in truth they are not. Resting from one’s enemies, rather than being synonymous with dwelling in safety, is a result of the latter. If we dwell securely, harmoniously, and respectfully with our fellow Jews, we will have nothing to fear from the enemies around us. Our sages tell us that if t he Jewish nation would live in harmony, no other nation could rise against us.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Parshas Eikev

Something to say:

It will be that if you hearken to My commandments… (11:13).

In this, the second paragraph of the Shema, God promises that we will be blessed with prosperity beyond the bounds of natural law, if we obey His commandments. Why does the Torah use the expression Shema, to hearken? Shouldn’t it have said, “I f you will perform My commandments”? Rabbi Avigdor Miller comments that taking action is not always in a man’s power, whereas listening sincerely, with the intention to do, certainly is. When one decides to listen to God’s commandments, he demonstrates his willingness and his genuine intention to perform them. It is according to the “listening,” the effort to learn, that God measures one’s acceptance of the Torah and therefore provides him with innumerable blessings.

There’s a famous saying “It’s the thought that counts”. So long as we are sincere in wanting to do Hashem’s commandments, then we get credit for it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Parshas Va’eschanan

Something to say:

And you shall love Hashem, your God (6:5).

The Sfas Emes asks how e can be commanded to love. Is love not an emotion, felt spontaneously rather than produced on command? What should a person do if the doesn’t feel that emotion?

Actually, he explains, a love for God is embedded deep within everyone. The command we are given is to allow this love expression, and to bring it out into the open by doing actions that promote it. One should involve himself in activities that will strengthen this natural spark of love and maintain it in his awareness.

Our actions have a great effect on us. They say if you do not like a person you should do good deeds towards them. This helps you like the person. With Hashem, we already have feelings of love towards Him. We just need to do Mitzvos and engage in activities that bring out our love towards Hashem. So that we feel closer and more in love.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Parshas Devorim

I have always believed that if someone does something wrong towards you, you shouldn’t do wrong to them too. “Two wrongs don’t make a right”. A person is not excused for harming another since the other harmed them first. That is Nekama, revenge. We are supposed to be compassionate people, and not want to harm others.

Something to say:

Hashem our God, gave into our hands also Og, king of Bashan (3:3).

After forty years in the Wilderness, the Jews had begun the conquest of Eretz Yisrael, beginning with the kingdoms of Sichon and Og. The Midrash Rabbah relates that Og, the king of Bashan, the infamous and evil giant who hated the Jews, once uprooted a mountain with his mighty hands and heaved it over the Jewish nation in an attempt to crush them. Moses uttered the secret Name of God and was miraculously able to suspend the mountain in midair, so that no one was hurt. After this, the Jews proclaimed, “Cursed are the hands that threw this mountain”; and the Emorites declared, “Blessed are the hands that held it up.”

The Sefer Ta’am Voda’as finds it puzzling that the Emorites blessed the Children of Israel and the hands of Moses; they were enemies of the Jews and despised them. He answers that Moses’ great level of Kindness mad ea tremendous impression on the Emorites. The cruelty of Og, who sought to destroy the Jewish people in one fell swoop, was obvious; he showed no mercy whatsoever. Moshes, with the strength that God gave him, could easily have responded measure for measure and thrown the mountain at the Emorites, but he did no such thing. He merely suspended the mountain to prevent it from falling on the Jews.

This Midrash teaches us that the Jewish people are unique in their innate quality of compassion. We are called merciful ones, the children of merciful ones. For this reason the Emorites blessed the hands of Moses- because he held the mountain in place.

So next time someone does something bad towards us and we want to give them “a taste of their own medicine”, think about how the person will get hurt. Think about how we are compassionate people and don’t want to hurt others. So we should only treat people right, with care and compassion.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Parshas Matos-Masei

Something to say:

These are the journeys of the Children of Israel, who went forth from the land of Egypt according to their legions, under the hands of Moses and Aaron (33:1).

The commentators remind us that since the redemption from Egypt was effected through a human being, it could not be a permanent one. This is hinted at in the words “under the hands of Moshe and Aaron”. However, the future redemption will be brought about by God Himself, and will therefore be an eternal redemption.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Parshas Pinchas

In this weeks parsha Moshe is told that Yehoshuah will become the next leader, he merited this great honor because he cared for the Jewish people, and served Moshe faithfully.

Something to say:

You shall place some of your majesty upon him (27:20)

Hashem tells Moshe that Yehushuah will be the next leader of the Jewish nation and that he is to give Yehoshuah some of his special honor. The Talmud comments that Moshe was commanded to give “some of your majesty, but not all of your majesty”

The elders said, “the countenance of Moshe is like the face of the sun, and the countenance of Yehoshuah is like the face of the moon. Oh, the disgrace of it; oh, the shame of it!” Rabbi Chaim Yosef Azulai, the Chida, asks, “what is the shame and disgrace of which the elders speak? What do they so despise?”

According to the Midrash, Yehoshuah merited the leadership of the nation because he served Moshe faithfully; he also performed such tasks as arranging the benches in the Beis Midrash and sweeping the floor. It was therefore said of him, “he who cares for the fig tree will eat of its fruit.” The elders had been ashamed to perform these mundane tasks, but not they realized that these very tasks had made Yehoshuah worthy of the mantle of leadership, and they felt a sense of shame.

Someone who puts their effort into caring for an organization, or any project, will be the one to get credit for it at the end. You want to put someone in charge that has shown they care and work hard.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Parshas Balak

Sometimes we think ignorance is bliss, that if we didn’t know better then we can’t be accountable for what we did wrong. But there is something called common sense, we have to use our intelligence to try to judge what’s right and wrong.

Something to say:

I have sinned for I did not know (22:34).

In this parshah, the evil prophet Balaam set out to curse the Jews. As the Torah relates, his she-donkey stopped in its tracks three times because an angel, unseen by Balaam, blocked its way. Finally, the angel did become visible to him, and Balaam cried out.

The Sh’lah asks: if Balaam really didn’t know that there was anything wrong with his plan, what was his sin? The answer is that a person is held responsible for that which he should know. God gives each person understanding, and Balaam was intelligent enough to understand that a donkey wouldn’t suddenly veer off the path or stop three times for no reason. Obviously, God was sending him a message.

We can be accountable for sins we have done, even if we haven’t learned about them. Since we should have known better. Or should have taken the time to learn about them, so as not to commit a sin.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Parshas Chukas

In this weeks parshah Moshe hits the rock to bring out water for Bnei Yisroel. When I see the word “hit” I think of children being punished. Here Moshe was supposed to speak to the rock instead of hitting it. I think we can learn out that parents should speak to their children too, instead of hitting them.

Something to say:

And he struck the rock (20:11)

This parshah describes the incident of the rock at the “waters of strife” in the Wilderness. Moses was told by God to speak to the rock, which would then bring forth water for the entire nation. According to Rashi, the fact that Moses hit the rock rather than just speaking to it was the sin that prevented him from entering Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Shmuel of Slonim asks: How could Moses, the ultimate servant of God, possibly commit such a sin? Wasn’t he aware that he was violating a direct command of God? He answers that miracles occur on various levels. To hit the rock involved a physical effort, but to produce water from the rock merely by speaking to it was a miracle on a higher level. One reasons that Moses hit the rock was that he did not think the Jewish people were worthy of a miracle on a higher level. We learn from this explanation that one should not underestimate the strengths and merits of the Jewish nation.

Parents sometimes think speaking to their kid won’t be enough, and that they have to be physical to get them to behave. But that is not so, parents shouldn’t underestimate their children, and realize that speaking can be enough.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Parshas Korach

This weeks Parsha Dvar Torah is L’Iyloy Nishmas הענה בת אביגדור

Something to say:

The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them (16:32).

In Pirkei Avos we are told that ten things were created in the twilight of the first Erev Shabbos of creation. One of them was the opening of the earth, which swallowed Korach and his congregation after their dispute with Moses. What do we learn from the fact that the mouth of the earth was created in twilight?

The Me’orah Shel Torah answers that when a person finds himself in difficult circumstances, it may seem to him as though there is no solution. He should realize, however, that the solution has already been prepared, and it is his job to uncover it – a task that requires continuous, intense effort. In this parshah, this principle is clearly illustrated: Although Moses was in serious danger and in a very difficult situation with korach, the mouth of the earth had already been prepared for his opponents from the time of Creation. We walk through life for the most part oblivious to the elaborate plans that god has designed for our benefit.

Hashem sends the Refuah before the Makah. He prepared a way for us to overcome a sorrow before he sends it down. It’s a comforting thought to know that Hashem has good plans for us. That it will all work out, and all be good. We just have to keep that in mind when we feel sad at the loss of a loved one, that Hashem has created a way for us to be healed and be loved and cared for.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Parshas Shelach

You ever notice how once you hear about something you start seeing it all over? Lots of times we see things without taking it in or noticing it, because it’s not on our mind. Once we hear about it, and it’s on our mind, then we pay more attention and see it more often.

Something to say:

You shall not go explore after your hearts and after your eyes (15:39).

Rashi explains: the eye sees, the heart desires, and the body commits the sin. The Toldos Ephraim points out that Rashi should have followed the sequence of the verse; the heart desires and the eye sees. However, he answers that what the heart does not desire, the eye does not see at all.

We see what we want to see. So someone who has good on their mind will see the good. Someone who thinks of evil will see the evil. So lets keep our hearts and mind on the good, and we will see good.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Parshas Beha’alos’cha

“If there’s a will there’s a way”

Something to say:

Why should we be diminished (9:7).

Those who had been prevented by impurity from bringing the pesach offering pleaded for an opportunity to bring it at a later time.

This parshah discusses the unique mitzvah of the Pesach offering. There is no other mitzvah in the Torah which is time bound, yet is assigned an alternate time if one is unable to perform it initially. Why is the pesach offering different from other time-related commandments?

The Tiferes Shlomo explains that this mitzvah was special in that the Jews did everything in their power to fulfill it. We see that they anxiously begged Moses, “Why should we be diminished?” They meant that they waited so earnestly to fulfill the commandments that they should be given a second chance if they could not perform it at the assigned time. The redemption of the Jewish people, says the Tiferes Shlomo, will be based on the same attitude. If the Jews will persistently, energetically harness all their powers to merit ultimate Redemption, it will come.

If we really want something, like the Jews wanted to do the Mitzvah of bringing the Pesach offering, then we will get it. Sometimes all that is needed, is for a person to show they want something, and then others will help make it possible. That shows how much power we have by wanting something to happen. We can fundraise to help others in need. We can help cheer people up. We can make a difference.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Parshas Naso

There’s something about Birchas Kohanim that makes it an emotional time. The memories of being a child and going under my father’s tallis. The Kohanim giving a Bracha to us that is so Kadosh, that we are not allowed to see it. The “Rebono Shel Olam” Tefillah”, the beautiful singing of the Kohanim while we say the Tefilah. Where I always wondered how come there are more examples of people being cured, than strengthening the good.

Something to say:

May God bless you and safeguard you (6:24).

This parsha contains the Priestly Blessing, with which God commanded the Kohanim of every generation to bless the Jewish people. It is interesting to note that despite the fact that this blessing was recited in the Temple and synagogue over the entire congregation, it is phrased entirely in the singular, rather than in the plural.

One explanation for this is that it is not always possible, or wise, to extend the same blessing to everyone uniformly. For the farmer, rain today may be an anxiously awaited blessing; for the long-distance traveler, it would be a hindrance. Wealth, a handsome appearance, or an extraordinary measure of some talent might be tremendous gifts and resources for one person; for another, each of these might be a burden could not handle. Only God, Designer of all creations and Endower of all gifts, knows precisely what blessing is appropriate for whom. He therefore tells the Kohanim to bless the people in the singular; each individual should receive the form of blessing that is most appropriate for him.

When I went with my family to Israel for my brothers bar mitzvah, we would talk about how we hoped it didn’t rain the day we would all be celebrating at the Kotel. My aunt who lives in Israel would say that she hoped it did rain and she would supply umbrellas for everyone. That Israel needs rain. Everyone has different needs, so we are blessed individually, rather than the same for everybody.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Parshas Bamidbar

Shvous is almost here, during sefira we are awaiting the Torah, and counting up the days till we reach this great day of when we accepted the Torah.

Something to say:

In the wilderness of Sinai (1:1).

The Midrash tells us that the Torah was given to Israel in fire, in water, and in a wilderness. The Shem MiShmuel comments that these three elements symbolize the way an individual should strive to acquire Torah. He should learn it with the “fire” of enthusiasm – with an eager and fervent heart. The Torah student also needs “water” – a calm, peaceful thoughtful approach to learning, symbolized by the tranquility of water, which will help him master the material. Finally, he needs the “wilderness” – a willingness to forgot material pursuits that serve as obstacles to spiritual accomplishments.

The relationship we should have with the Torah is the same relationship as husband to wife. We should love to learn Torah and put our energy into it. We should be thoughtful in learning the Torah, and we should be willing to forgo other distractions so that we can focus more on Torah. Torah should be our number one priority, so that everything else we do in life should be for the Torah.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Parshas Behar- Bechukosai

Last week in Parshas Emor we talked about how if a person refrains from sin they get a reward. In this weeks parsha, Bechukosai, we talk about another way to help us stay away from sinning.

Something to say:

I will remember my covenant with Jacob (26:42)

In this parshah, the Jewish people are warned of the punishments they will receive if they fail to live up to their obligations as the Chosen People. In the midst of a series of punishments, this verse introduces words of comfort, promising the Jews that God will eventually remember his treaty with Jacob and the other Patriarchs. The Shlah HaKadosh asks why there is a verse of comfort in the middle of all the curses.

This verse actually serves as a mussar for us. We know that a rasha, an evil person, who is the son of an evil person cannot be compared to a rasha who is the son of a tzaddik. The latter is more liable for his transgressions, for he saw an example of piety in his home and has no excuse for not following that model. We are reminded here that we are the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Because of this lineage, we have a very strong responsibility to follow in their ways – and if not, God forbid, we may bring all the curses in the surrounding verses on our heads.

Because we come from Tzadikim, the Avos, we have great models to emulate. If we do an aviarah we don’t have the excuse to say that we didn’t know better. If a person is tempted to commit a sin they should imagine their father and that will help them not to sin.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Parshas Emor

Some motivation to help fight the Yetzer Hora:

Something to say:

You shall not desecrate my Holy Name, rather I should be sanctified (22:32)

The Chasam Sofer explains that in not desecrating the Name of God, it is considered as if we are actively sanctifying His Name. As the Gemara in Kedushin teaches, if the opportunity to sin presents itself and one refrains from the violation, he is rewarded as though he had actually performed a mitzvah.

By not doing an aviarah, not only does one prevent themselves from getting punished, but they actually get a mitzvah, and get rewarded.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

HP Tuesday #5

SN’s job involves a lot of driving. Monday Morning SN drove to New Rochelle with an empty tank, since his car was “The Little Car that Could”. Finished with his job there he went on to have lunch with a business associate, in Monsey. He parked his car in the restaurants parking lot and enjoyed a great lunch.

When he finished his lunch he got into his car and tried to start it, but it wouldn’t go. The tank was empty. Thankfully, the person he had lunch with was still there. So he got a ride with the guy to his next job location. Finished up his job there. Then got a ride to a gas station around the corner from where his car was stuck. He bought a 2 gallon can of gas, and got a ride to his car, where he filled it up. Then he was able to drive his car again.

The Hashgacha Pratis in all this was that 1- He didn’t get stuck on a highway. 2-it was around the corner from a gas station. 3- he was with a Jewish work associate, who was able to help him out. 4- the empty tank didn’t disrupt his schedule for the day at all.  

Friday, April 23, 2010

Parshas Acharei - Kedoshim

Imagine this: You are at a shiur, the audience is silent, all intent on hearing what the speaker has to say. Then you start talking to a friend. A stranger calls out to you to be quiet.

Now there are a few different reactions to this. 1- You stop talking and brush off what the person said. 2- You continue talking, thinking what you have to say is more important. 3- You answer back to the stranger, that they shouldn’t tell you what to do.

In Most cases people would have reaction number 1. With a few people having reaction number 2. And rarely people would have reaction number 3.

Now Imagine this: A wife works hard in the kitchen cooking a supper for her husband. Then it comes supper time and the husband criticizes the way she cooked supper.

There are a few different reactions to this. 1- The wife will get upset and yell at her husband and say if he doesn’t like the way she made it, then he can make his own suppers. 2- She will take note of what he said and try next time to make it differently, but yet feel hurt that she didn’t meet his expectations. 3- She will accept what he says lovingly.

In most cases people will have reaction number 1. With a few people having reaction number 2. And rarely people would have reaction number 3.

By a stranger, we don’t get affected so much when they criticize us, since we don’t hold them in as much of a high regard. With a loved one, we care about what they have to say, and therefore it affects us more when we get criticized by them.

But yet in order to have the power to criticize someone, you have to be close to them. If someone else's child is misbehaving you won’t criticize them as much as you would your own child. Having someone you are close to correct you is easier than having a stranger do so. If your tag is showing, or you by mistake didn’t button all your buttons, having this pointed out by someone you are close to is easier and less embarrassing, then having a stranger point it out.

Something to Say:

You shall not hate your neighbor in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor (19:17).

The Arizal asks: What is the correlation between the concepts of not hating another and giving him reproof? Rebuke, he answers, can be presented properly onto towards one who is respected and loved by the observer. When one is sincerely concerned about another’s conduct, as a father is for his child, any criticism is certain to be constructive in nature and acceptable to the listener. The closer two people are to one another, the more intense the relationship is, and so the rebuke is certain to be more sincere and easier to absorb.

Parents love their children and therefore they feel their children’s pain. So when a parent has to punish their child, it’s like they’re punishing themselves too. They really don’t want to punish their child, but they have to, to teach the child a lesson. So the punishing is for the purpose of helping the child. If the child doesn’t learn from the punishment, then it is not the right method. A parent should not be punishing the child out of anger.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Parshas Tazria & Metzora

I always believed that if people would have a positive attitude, and see the best in others then they will be happier people. People would be able to sleep peacefully without always worrying that others are out to get them. There are times when a person may wrong another, but that doesn’t mean the person is a evil person. We have to look at the person as a whole, that he is a good person.

Something To Say:

The Kohen shall look at the affliction… and the kohen shall look at him and declare him contaminated (13:3).

The “affliction” here refers to an affliction that resembles leprosy, but is a Divine retribution for the sin of gossip mongering and similar manifestations of callous and selfish behavior. What is the need for the verse’s apparent redundancy in stating twice that the Kohen shall look at it?

Rabbi Yehoshua of Kutno answers that when one looks at a person, he should see not only his blemishes, the places where he has been afflicted, but should view him as a whole person, with all his good points taken into account. Thus, although the Kohen must first examine the affliction, as it is his duty to do, he must afterwards look at the man as a whole person and see his strengths as well.

Sometimes it can be hard to notice the good when one’s job involves finding the bad, to correct it. A teacher and parent have to be extra careful when disciplining their children, to not only criticize them when they do something wrong, but to praise them as well for their good behavior. To see the child as a good child whom they still love even when they do something wrong.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Parshas Shemini

In the year 2009 I ended off with Parshas Tzav, now I will continue posting about the Parshas, starting with Parshas Shemini, this weeks Parsha.

We are always taught not to judge a book by it’s cover. That the outside can be deceiving and it’s the inside that counts. That beauty comes from the inside, not the superficial outside.

Something To Say:

Any earthenware utensil into whose interior one of them will fall, everything in it shall become contaminated (11:33).

An earthenware vessel can be rendered tamei, ritually contaminated, only from its inside, even from its air space, without being touched. However, even if it is touched on the outside, it cannot be rendered impure. Commentators explain that it can never become impure by being touched on the outside because it has no value in and of itself. The vessel is only valuable as a container for the objects within it; its sole worth is a receptacle for something else.

Along the same lines, the Kotzker Rebbe said, “Man is like an earthenware vessel. His worth lies not in the outer vessel, but in the human qualities developed within.”

Just like a container has no value on it’s own, only to hold things inside of it. A person has a guf to hold the Neshama in. We praise a person if they are a good person on the inside, rather than if they have a good physical attribute. A person who wins a medal in the Olympics may be looked upon by others as a great person. But then if you were to see one of them start acting in a bad way it changes the way you look at them, and you realize that the way a person acts on the inside is what makes them really great.

Another way of looking at a container is to realize that a container can only function if it is complete and whole. Once there is a hole in a container than it can no longer hold anything in it. A container can then be compared to Middos, characteristics of a person. Where a person needs good Middos to be able to do other Mitzvos.

For the first time, I have so far been counting Sefira every night. During Sefira we are working on our Middos, So that we can be ready for Shvous, where we get the Torah.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Just Married

Sunday, Rosh Chodesh ADAR!!, February 14, 2010, SN and I got married!

B”H the wedding went great, all the preparations paid off!

I got my hair done in my house in the morning, and then went to the hall to get makeup on. I davened Mincha, and said Tehillim for all the names that were given to me. Then started pictures. It was lots of fun posing for the pictures.

At Kaballas Panim I started getting emotional, realizing this was it, that I was getting married! I was so happy to see SN after a week of no seeing each other. It felt so powerful to have my father and SN’s father bench me.

Walking down the Chuppah, felt like a dream, I didn’t focus on the people standing on the sides of me, but I noticed there were lots of people. I davened for myself and SN under the Chuppah.

After the Chuppah, SN’s sister gave me a big hug, and I was so happy. I enjoyed dancing with her lots of times. It feels good to have such nice older sisters.

Usually I’m not much of a dancer, so much so, that I went with my mother and aunt to dance lessons before my wedding, to learn steps. We didn’t practice at all! But I remembered 2 things that I learned which really helped when it came to dancing. The first thing was how to dance one on one. The second was what to do when you start to feel dizzy from going in circles so many times. And that’s called “break the dizzy” where you go from side to side instead. I did that a couple of times, and I had so much fun dancing, that every time someone came over to offer me water, I said I was fine, and when they came to give me a seat, I also was fine and could of went on and on.

It was nice meeting Tembow and Inkstainedhands. And Thanks Auror, Annie and Rain Strap for coming! Auror made a beautiful poster which I shall always cherish, I have it on my dresser now. 

i love hashem js

SN, the amazing nice person that he is, knew it was his bosses anniversary on our wedding night, so he brought a cake for him, and had it given to him at our wedding.

So the wedding was over, and B”H I never felt stressed or nervous! My family lives only a few blocks away from me, and I’m still in the same neighborhood, so there weren’t any big adjustments for me.

I enjoy cooking for me and SN! I did my first loads of laundry after we got married, and found it to be lots of fun. I haven’t ironed yet, since I don’t have an iron or ironing board, but I can imagine it being relaxing. I went with SN to do a few computer jobs, it’s fun learning new things. So married life is great! I ♥ SN!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mazel Tov --- It’s a Boy!

On Shabbos my future sister in law had a baby boy! Sunday I went to the hospital to visit my future sister in law and baby, with SN and his other sister. It was my first time going to a hospital to visit a new born baby. My first time seeing a 25 hour old baby, and my first time holding a new born baby!

While we were in the room, a nurse comes to check the baby’s hearing. But since we were able to be there for a short time, we asked the nurse if we can hold the baby before she takes him for the hearing test. So she said “sure” and stayed with us while we took turns holding the baby.

After SN’s other sister held the baby, SN asked me if I wanted to hold the baby. Since I’ve never held one so young I was nervous to, so I let SN hold him first. Then SN commented how I’m “The Babysitter”. So then it was really funny, cause the nurse thought that I was going to be the baby’s babysitter! So she started teaching me how to take care of the baby. She showed me how to wrap the baby up tight in the receiving blanket, so that it’s easier to hold them. Then when it was time to wheel the baby away, she showed me how to put the baby back down into the basinet. After I put the baby down she congratulated me and said I did a great job.

I loved seeing the new born baby, he was so cute and tiny! We looked at every move he made and commented how cute he was. And I really felt it, it was so exciting. And I’m happy the nurse misunderstood us, and taught me how to take care of the baby. Now I feel more confident about holding little babies.

Friday, February 5, 2010

How to Get Ready for The Big Day

Inspired by SN!

After the L’chaim/vort starts the wedding preparations. First you figure out a date for the wedding and book a hall. This is important since halls can get booked fast, luckily since we had a little longer of an engagement than most, we were able to book our special day.

If the couple is going by FLOP, then the Chosson side then will take care of the flowers, liquor, Orchestra and Photography. Where the Kallah then chooses the flowers she would like. The chosson side will also take care of the Benchers and Documents for the wedding-Kesuba.

The Kallah will book a makeup and hair person for the wedding. She will go look for a gown from a gemach or rental, and then go in for fittings quite a lot of times. She will buy sheitels and other hair coverings, and all kinds of clothing. The Kallah will choose invitations to send out, and come up with the wording, go through proofs and then have them printed.

Next step is to look for a bedroom set, if you plan on having one when you get married. Sometimes the stores can be out of stock so you have to give them enough time to get it shipped from the company in another country.

An important preparation is Kallah classes. They are so enjoyable, and you learn so many great things. You come out with a clear and new perspective on all kinds of things. I would say it’s important to write notes when you learn Halachos, since I didn’t, and I learned from my mistake. Also, it’s important to ask your kallah teacher any questions you have. If a friend tells you anything, always check with your kallah teacher, to see if what they are saying is correct.

Another great preparation for marriage is to go to the SHALOM workshop which I highly recommend.

A month before the wedding is a good time to send out the wedding invitations. It’s lots of fun getting back return cards, and reading all the nice messages on them, with brachos and personalized messages. I made an excel sheet to keep track of all those that sent back the return card, with how many attending for the whole thing, and how many said no seat, along with how I know them. Grouping them into categories helps with the seating arrangements.

Next big step is to look for an apartment, at first it can be fun and exciting, but after looking at a bunch of apartments you just feel as though you want to find the right one already. Also, don’t keep your search limited, you never know what may be right for you. Word of mouth is a great way to find an apartment.

Next step is buying stuff for the apartment, this can get very costly, be aware! Then comes cleaning the apartment, getting mezuzos to put up, and moving your stuff in.

Throughout all this time, there is another kind of wedding preparation that is nice, and that is getting to know your chosson better. As you spend time preparing for the wedding, and discussing all kinds of things, you better get to know them. Going to each other for Shabbosim can be a great experience, you get to see how things are run in their house, and show them how things are run in yours. It’s relaxing to just spend time together on Shabbos, without having to be busy with other tasks.

Lots of people say that the wedding preparations can be a stressful time. But B”H I can say the wedding day is drawing closer and I haven’t felt stressed at all.

There are lots of great resources to help you plan for your wedding day. The Chosson/Kallah guide book, is a great free book, with articles, ads with coupons, along with lists of things you need for your wedding, from the Kallah side, and Chosson side. If you look to the right you will see a link for Jewish Wedding - New York, which is another great resource helping you with all kinds of wedding preparations.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pro-Active Parenting

Friday night I had R’ Ackerman from Project YES speak in my house. He went over what he spoke about 2 weeks ago, with Expectations and then he went on to discuss Pro-Active parenting.

He mentioned the importance of calling a child by their name when giving them praise and not just when criticizing them. So that a child shouldn’t associate their name as meaning they did something wrong. Where a child would hear their name and cringe thinking “what did I do now?”.

Now what is pro-active parenting? It’s where things seem to be going smoothly, the child isn’t getting into trouble or doing anything to upset you. But yet you notice something is different and therefore take on an active role.

For example, your daughter usually plays with friends on Shabbos, and you notice for the past few weeks she has been sitting on the couch and reading a book instead. Now on the surface everything seems fine, she isn’t getting in your way. But you realize something is different and therefore want to address the situation.

So you say to your daughter “I notice you have started to read books on Shabbos instead of playing with your friends, What happened that was different?” Now since the child is in middle of reading a book you can’t expect them to shut the book and talk to you. You have to think about the child, and tell them that you would like to talk to them, and ask them when they can.

Then once you start talking to your daughter and say “What happened”, your daughter may say that one time when she was playing with her friends, one girl was very mean to her and called her names and made her cry. Now as the parent it hurts to see your child upset so you may want to dismiss her hurt feelings and say “I’m sure she didn’t mean that”. But it is important not to say that! By doing so you are not validating your child’s feelings. You are saying they don’t know what their saying, and this will cause the child to feel worse.

Instead, say “I understand that must have been hurtful”. “What happened next” Now your daughter may surprise you here with what she continues to say. She may say “Then afterwards I took out a book to read, and another girl came over and we started talking about the book”. Then you say “sounds like you had fun with the other girl”. Then she’ll remember the good time and say “yea, I had a good time with her”.

Now at this point it could be all the child needed was somebody to listen to her. So after expressing her feelings and telling over the story with what happened, she may feel all better and say “I feel better now, Thanks Mommy for listening”. And then she will go on continue playing.

Just listening, is often what children need, for us to give them our attention, and be all there for them. Not always do we have to “fix” things for them. And often times there may be no solution, or it may take a long time to solve. Now after listening, you can ask the child what they wish would happen next time. Say “if there’s any way I could help, please let me know”, so the child knows that you are there for them. Remember that the child is the expert, and they will tell you how you can help them.

If there comes a situation where a child comes home telling you what happened and you just don’t know what to say. You can say “I don’t know what to say. What do you wish I would say?”. Now at this point it could be an hour after the event occurred and the child can be angry, and what they say now might not be the same answer they say the next morning when they have to deal with the consequences.

If a child comes home from school all upset and says that their Rebbi called them a bum and told them to never open their mouth in class again. As the parent you promise the child that the Rebbi must not have meant that. Because you weren’t there, so you really don’t know, and can’t predict. You cay say at this point that you don’t know what to say, and ask the child when they would like to talk about this some more.

If the child says they would like you to talk to their Rebbi, then ask them “what would you like me to say to him”. Also, keep in mind that your child is going back to school the next morning, and dealing with the Rebbi for the rest of the year. So you should talk it over with your child and spouse before you make any quick decisions. Often times there may not be a solution, rather a picking of “the worst evil”.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday and I turned 21! I had an amazing birthday Thanks to SN.

I went to SN for Shabbos, and got to see how his Shabbos routine goes. I enjoyed the zemiros and Divrei Torah from him and his family. I got to meet his friendly neighbors, and go to shiurim with him. I also got to go to Auror’s house, and talk with her and all her siblings. Over Shabbos I tasted so many new foods! Gefilte Fish, Bartenurah wine, eggs, and tomatoes, to name a few. I enjoyed spending time with SN, and learned more things about him that I admire.

Then Sunday, we looked at an apartment that I was really hoping would work out. B”H it did, and Monday we decided to take it! Now I feel relieved that we have an apartment, and can start focusing on buying stuff for it! Fun Fun!

Monday I went for my first gown fitting, and picked up one sheitel, which I’m going to bring back another time to have it styled some more.

Tuesday, was my Birthday! The day started off with me going to my future sister in law to check out the sheitel that she ordered for me. It was great talking with her, and she was so nice in helping me out with buying stuff, recommending where to go and what I would need to get.

Then I went to my grandparents store, where I picked out some robes and tried on some pre-tied’s, they gave me lots of stuff! It was fun trying on the pre-tied’s and looking like a “Mommy”!

Then after I finished with the robe store I was walking to try to find the city bus stop to go back home, but I didn’t know where it was, so I was walking down the Avenue. Then I BBM’d SN that I was done with my grandparents store, he BBM’d back that he was in the neighborhood, then he offered me a ride, happened to be we were a block away from each other.

So I meet him in front of a pizza store, and I see him coming to me with a huge Happy Birthday Balloon. It was such a nice surprise, and I loved how it wasn’t planned, and that we just happened to be in the same place at the same time. So we ate lunch together. Meanwhile it was still early, 3 ish, so SN was in middle of his working hours. So after lunch he was supposed to go to another place, but they were going close before we would be able to get there, so SN ended up coming to my house. I brought down my laptop and I got to watch SN work. It was fun to watch how he works.

Then after an hour, we went back to his house, where I helped him with some more invitations that he didn’t get to send out yet. Then we went to a candy store where we had fun going through the candies and picking some out. I saw 2 interesting “candies” there. One was Individually wrapped Jelly beans, and the other was a “coloring page cookie”, where you get to color on the cookie, to fill in the picture how ever you want it to look, and it’s all edible!

Then we went out to eat at a nice fancy restaurant, where we had yummy food! SN gave me a beautiful birthday present, of diamond earrings. He played a song for me on his phone that we both really like. Then we went back to the car, where we ate some candies and played “our song” for our wedding.

Then I got to see how SN does one of his side computer jobs. We went to this persons house, and it was cool watching SN doing stuff on the computer, and I can’t wait to learn how to do all kinds of things and help him out with his jobs. Then the mother in the house asked me if I wanted a tour of her house. So I said “okay” and boy what a tour it was! She had painted everything in her house, it was all amazing! She told me how she got lots of stuff from ikea and designed her house, and everything. I told he that she can be on one of those TV shows, doing home makeovers for people. Everything she painted was so professional and amazing. She painted on furniture into the kids bedroom, that look so real! She painted on the kitchen counter, and the backsplash of the kitchen, that all look so real! It was all really cool.

Then SN drove me home, and it was already late, where my family would be sleeping, so he didn’t get to come in and say hello to them. But we got to talk in the car some more, which I always enjoy. Lately, we’ve been talking till the clock turns _:00, but here it was at _:46, when a car needed to go into the driveway we were blocking, so we had to call it a night, and didn’t get to talk till the _:00.

I had an amazing Birthday! And great weekend leading up to my birthday! Our wedding is getting closer! I am so excited!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I was reading what HSaboMilner had to say on being a twin, and it brought back memories of my own.

If I had a dollar for every time we were asked if our twin was identical. Identical means exactly the same.

So many times people would ask if we were identical, and this came from adults too.

My mother is a twin, and always tells over the story of how my grandmother was giving birth. My mother came first, and the doctor said “It’s a girl”. Then 2 minutes later the doctor said “It’s a boy”, so then my grandmother said “Is it a girl or a boy? you can’t tell?”. We would all laugh at the story, thinking about the olden days.

I obviously don’t know what it was like when my mother was pregnant with us, but I do remember what it was like when she was pregnant with the second set of twins. I remember being so excited to finally have younger siblings to take care of. It was exciting to have 2 babies, to play with them and feed them.

When me and my twin were younger we were really close. We played together and did everything together. We went to the same school together, separate building for boys and girls, but we were on the same bus. We would have walkie talkies, and talk to each other. It was a lot of fun. We were partners. We would play school together, and do homework together.

I had such a deep bond with him, that I felt everything he felt. I would hurt for him. I didn’t have that same bond with my older brother. Me and my twin always got a long and were best friends. My twin brother was always so good to me, and wanted to take care of me. He would protect me in school, and tried to take care of me when we got lost. Even now he is so good to me. He gave me his blackberry when he got a new phone, which made me so happy since SN has a blackberry too. He asked me what I want for my birthday present, even though it’s his birthday too.

HSaboMilner puts it very nicely:

There is something deeply magical and mystical about being created at the same time as someone else. Growing together from a cluster of cells into human beings. Our bond was created 9 months before our birth – there is no way that anyone could ever hope to recreate that in the physical world.

As the years gone by, and there started to be a separation between boys and girls, we drifted a part, and became like regular brother and sister. Then I started to think it would be better to be twins with a girl, cause then you would really get to do everything together, and if you were identical you would get to switch places on people, like “Elizabeth and Jessica” did, from some story book I used to love reading. But then I would read stories about twin girls being in competition with each other, and I was happy to be twins with a boy again.

With my younger brother and sister, they were a different type of twins. They weren’t always together. They were on different levels, which made it hard for them to play which each other. It’s easy to explain to an older child that the younger child can’t do certain things yet, or that you have to be the big one and give in. But with twins it’s hard, because their the same age, so you can’t tell one they have to be “older” and give in, or that the other is younger and that’s why they can’t do whatever it may be.

Being a twin was really fun as a child, and I’ll cherish the memories. Now I still have a connection with my twin, but it’s not the same as before. Though we still get a long great. Now I feel connected to SN and hope to grow our connection to the upmost. 

Being that it seems like twins is in the genes of my family (3 sets) it makes me wonder if I’ll have twins, and which I would rather. I used to think that twins are so cool, and you get a lot of attention because of it. But parenting wise, I think singles are easier. But whatever Hashem gives me I will be happy with!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Friday night I went to a great shiur by R’ Ackerman from project Y.E.S on the topic of expectations with children.

There are 3 rules to follow when formulating an expectation:

  1. The expectation has to be concrete. In that you can’t be vague in asking a child to do something.

    Example: Asking a child to clean their room is a vague request. What will happen if you tell a child to clean their room? You’ll come in and see a pile of clothing in the closet, and garbage there. So then you’ll get upset at the child, and say, “You didn’t clean your room!”, then they’ll say “But I did, look, there’s nothing on the floor, I put it all in the closet so that you won’t trip on anything. So the child had good intentions but just didn’t understand your request. Now if you would give a specific request, and say “I would like you to clean up the things from the floor, hang up the shirts in the closet and throw the garbage out.” Then that is a concrete expectation that the child can follow.
  2. The expectation should be a positive one. A parent shouldn’t tell a kid “Get your feet off the table” because then they will put their feet on the wall or the chair or any other place besides the table, and if you don’t want their feet in those places then you have to be clear and say, Put your feet only on the floor. So before you make a request for a child to do, think about what you want them to do, if you can’t think of a positive way to ask it, then wait till you can think of one.

    Also, there’s a way to ask a child to do something. It shouldn’t be “You have to be in your room in 10 minutes”. Rather, “I would like you to be in your room in 10 minutes”. There are 2 differences between the 2 sentences. 1 is changing the sentence from a “you” to an “I”. 2 is leaving out the word “have to”. If you request from the child nicely to go into their room then they are more likely to listen, than if they are being told to. In addition, if you use words like “have to” then what will happen? 15 minutes later the child is not in their room, so they realize they didn’t have to go to their room, and it makes the parent loose authority in their eyes.
  3. The expectation has to be realistic. You have to know what the child can handle at their age level, as well as the duration of how long they can do something. A little child most likely will not be able to sit at the Friday table for a long time. So you can’t expect them to. But yet, it doesn’t mean that it’s all or nothing. They can sit there for as much as they can handle. With such things, a parent shouldn’t ask the child “can you sit at the table?” because then it’s giving the child 2 choices, “yes” or “no”, but really they can sit at the table, just not for all of it, so rather you should ask “How long can you sit at the table for?”. Also, it is important to realize that each child is different, and that just because 95% of your other children were able to do something at a certain age, doesn’t mean it’s realistic for this child to.

Now after asking your child to do something, you should say over what you expect of them, and see if they understand. To clean up any misunderstandings. Then you should ask the child “What do you think of that”, so that you find out in advance feedback from the child whether they plan on doing what you expect or not. So that later when you have expected them to do something, and you find out they didn’t do it, you won’t be caught in the moment and get upset. So you talk it out in advance.

Now if the child has succeeded in doing what you asked them to, then you have to praise them on their success. You’re supposed to praise them, 500 times to the amount you criticize them. That is the key to building a child’s self esteem. If you find the child set the table, like you asked, then you say “Child’s name, you did such a great job setting the table, your such a good boy” or something like that. The praise should be able the child’s success and not about yourself, in that you shouldn’t say “you made me so happy by setting the table”. Though you can add that in to, but the focal point should be about the child accomplishing his task.

Now it says “adam nifal kefei poulasuf”, a child will become the way he acts. So that if you praise him for his success, then he will become successful. If on the other hand you always point out his failures, then he’ll think of himself as a failure. So that if a child does an expectation half way, you should praise him on that half way, so that you can build his success, rather than salvaging his failure. It’s much easier to build on success.

Now what if you asked the child to move some cups from the dining room table to the server, and then you find it wasn’t done, what do you do? You say to the child “I asked you to move the cups from the table to the server”. Then you say an observation, which should not be judgmental. You say, “I see the cups are still on the table”. Then it is very important to be dan likav zechus, and judge the child favorably, so that your not putting them on the defense. You shouldn’t say “why didn’t you put the cups on the server?” But rather say “what was hard for you?” Assuming that the child would have done what you asked if they had been able to.

Now when having a talk with a child about an important thing, you have to be Hakal Kan, all of you has to be there. You can’t have any outside distractions, as well as internal distractions, you have to realize everything is about the child, and not you being upset at the child. When talking with the child make sure you have eye contact, if their looking down, then say their name, to get their attention. Then go through the script, saying: “I asked you to do this, I see it is this way, what was hard for you?”

Then the reason will be one of 2 things. Either incompetence or non compliance. Which in most cases it’s incompetence, where the child was un capable of fulfilling your expectation. So they will explain to you why they couldn’t. Example: a child comes home and puts their coat on the floor, you find it there and then ask the child what happened, they will tell you that they hand to run to the bathroom so they couldn’t hang up their coat.

Now what happens if the child just says, “I didn’t do it because I didn’t want to”. Then you have to make sure it’s really not incompetence. You say to the child, “what happened when you tried to…” then  lots of times they will tell you, “I tried but then I couldn’t” They are just too ashamed to say that they couldn’t do something, so they say they didn’t want to do it. But once they see that you understand them, then they will open up to you and tell you why they couldn’t do what you asked. Now this is very important to find out that it’s really incompetence, as you’ll find out later.

If the child didn’t fulfill the expectation because of non compliance, there is one of 3 things that can be done:

  1. You can let it slide, you can figure this isn’t an important thing, and the child doesn’t want to do it. This does not mean “choosing your battles” since really parenting is not about a battle between parent and child, but rather helping the child grow to be successful, so you’re just making a decision, that this request is not an important one.
  2. You can threaten the child into submission. Now this one barely works, because then there will be a war between the child and parent, and you’ll be surprised how much punishment a child can handle, so that they shouldn’t loose. Rarely will they ever give in, and if they do give in, the relationship between parent and child has changed, and the child will not like his parent at all. So you have to question if this method will be worth it.
  3. You can give the child an incentive. Notice this is not a bribe, since a bribe is given to a judge so that they should do the wrong thing. Here you want the child to do the right thing, just since they don’t want to, you want to give them motivation so that they should. A child is an expert of themselves. So you ask them “What would you like to earn in order to do this thing that you don’t want to do”. You’ll be surprised at what lots of children will say to this, One child said “I want to play checkers with Totty on Friday nights”.

Now here’s where it’s important that you made sure it really was non compliance and not incompetence. Because what happens, if really the child is not capable of doing something, and then you offer them a reward if they do it. It’s cruel, because your hanging something they want in front of their eyes, but yet saying they can’t have it. Since they won’t be able to fulfill your expectation they won’t be able to get the reward. So all the charts won’t help, unless the child is capable to meet the expectation.