Parshas Ki Savo

Dear Friends and Family,

I know it has been a while. I have been very busy and my email got pushed to the side. Tomorrow is my Hebrew birthday, Chai Elul, and I just wanted to share a thought on the Parshah and a Bracha with all of you!
Parshas Ki Savo begins with the Mitzvah of Bikurim (the farmer bringing his first fruit to the Temple). Bikurim is about thanking G-d for blessing us and giving back. The Parshah ends with the curses that the Jewish people will get if they do not G-d. The reasoning brought in the text that a person will come to this is because “Because you have plenty of everything, you would not serve G-d…with happiness and a glad heart” (28:47). The text uses the word “Tachas” which translates as because. The word “tachas” usually means under. Rabbi Zweig explains when we are appreciative of all that G-d gives us, we are happy whereas when we take for granted all the gifts that we are bestowed, we are unhappy and do not feel satisfied. The word “tachas” is used here to show that we have a choice in the way to look at our lives. Will we choice to appreciate what we have and be happy? When we do choose to be thankful, our lives are filled with joy and happiness. Challenges do not look like curses because we have so much to be thankful for. Furthermore, when we realize that what we have is from G-d, we are able to share our blessings with others.
This year has been an amazing year for me. I have been blessed with a beautiful baby girl. I have been through things that emphasized that choosing to be positive, thankful and happy is not always easy, but is needed to continue to live. I am so thankful for everything that G-d has given me. Thank you for all for supporting and loving me.
My blessing to all of you is that in every moment, through the good and through the not as seemingly good, you choose to appreciate the lives that G-d has given you. In this month of Elul we have the power to return to G-d. Take a moment to look back at this past year and say thank you. May you bring in a new year with happiness, joy and be able to share your gift with others.  May Hashem bring Mashiach soon!
Have a beautiful and inspiring Shabbat!
Lots of Love,

Parshas Matos!

Dear Friends and Family,

I don’t want to make excuses, but I have Thank G-d been super busy and have not had time to write. This past week, my heart has been in Israel, constantly looking at the news for updates. As the war has escalated, I decided that I needed to share some Torah in merit for the safety and success of our brothers and sisters in Israel. 
To get refreshed on the Parshas Matos, I opened up The Little Medrash says ( it was all I could find…). In this week’s Parshah the Jewish people go to war again Midyan and Moav. They are successful and have no casualties. The spoils of the war are divided up and the tribes of Gad and Reuven ask Moshe to settle east of the Jordan river. They were rich from the spoils and owned large flocks of sheep and wanted the large fields for pasture land. Moshe was unhappy with this request and explained to them that they are strong tribes and the Jewish people will think that they are afraid of fighting the Caananim and will discourage them from conquering the land. 
They promised Moshe that they will build cattle houses and and towns for their families and then they will leave their wives to help their brothers fight the war again Caanan. Not only will they help fight the war, but they will stay until the land is apportioned. Moshe tells them that if they keep their promise, they can stay in the land and if they do not,  they will get nothing. 
When the two tribes requested land on the east side of the Jordan, they made a mistake. They thought there would not be enough land for their cattle  in Israel. This was not true. Hashem created Israel so that it would be big enough for the Jewish people and their belongings. Gad and Reuven gave up living in a land of kedusha (holiness). These tribes separated themselves from the rest of the Jewish people. 
The two and a half tribes kept their word. They and their descendants followed the Torah. For the holidays, they traveled to the Bais Hamikdash in Jerusalem. However, since they lived so far, their Torah observance became weaker over time. When the Jewish nation later sinned and was taken into exile, G-d exiled these tribes first. 
We learn from this how important it is to associate with Torah Jews and live close to a Torah community. We are influenced by our surroundings. Right now as a Jew in America, I feel so far away. My friend who is living there told me how her co-worker can not eat or sleep because her husband was called up. I am thankful not to be in her position, but what am I doing to help? The three weeks started this past Tuesday and we all have to answer the question of what are we doing? How are we helping fellow Jews both at home and abroad? 
May Shabbas bring peace and happiness to the world and May we see Mashiach soon. 

Parshas Kedoshim!!!!

Dear Family and Friends, 

This week’s Parsha, Kedoshim commands us to “Love out neighbor like ourselves.”
Rabbi Zwieg brings the Rambam to explain this verse. The Rambam, defines love  based on Aristotle’s three levels of love/relationships.
1) mutually beneficial – This is the lowest level of a relationship. This is a surface level relationship. Both members are gaining from each other. An example of this is a carpool relationship. 
2) ahavas menucha/ahavas bitachon- This is a second level relationship. This is a level where a member feels secure enough in the relationship that they can tell the other everything  and anything about themselves and know that they will not be judged. Let’s use Reuven and Shimon. No matter what they have done, the other member’s opinion of them will not change. Reuven feels that he never feels embarrassed because Shimon treats me like he would treat himself. Just like he is 
not judgmental of himself, he will not judge me. 
3) The highest level of love is when the member is in a relationship with someone he feels he admires and can learn from. This type of dynamic relationship is based on respect. We acknowledge that the other member possesses a quality we lack and are inspired by them to grow and be a better person. 
I heard my grandfather, Rabbi Abrams, speak last week and he explained that the Parshah starts out with the words “Kedoshim Teheyou – and you (plural) shall be holy.” The plural form is used because it is not enough for one to be holy by themselves. As a nation we must be holy together. The only way to be holy as a nation is to learn and grow from one another. 

Have a beautiful and lovely Shabbat and May the Jewish nation be able to become holy together and truly “love” each other and be able to bring Mashiach!

– Michal  


The meaning behind the Kiddush….

Dear Friends and Family,

We wanted to share the idea behind our celebration.
To start: What is a kiddush?

 A “Kiddush” refers a celebration involving food and divrei Torah – a borrowed term from the eating after the tefilla of Shabbat morning, which starts with Kiddush.

Why are we making a Kiddush?

There is a general Mitzvah thanking G-d for joyous and/or miraculous events that occur to us. One of the applications of this concept is Birkat Hagomel, the blessing we make after being saved from danger. While a meal is not required, sources indicate that it is a nice idea (see Berachot 46a), which parallels the Korban Todah in the time of the Beit Hamikdash.

Unlike the birth of a baby boy, there is no set time or formula for the celebration of a girl’s birth. In some circles, people try to have one on the day of her naming. In turn some do the naming specifically on Shabbat, when many people will be present. (The presence of many people is generally desirable for meals of thanksgiving). Combining these elements, there may be special significance of having a celebration after Shabbat morning tefilla.

While there is no specific obligation, timing, or setting, we would like to thank Hashem for such a monumentally joyous occasion. The gemara (Bava Batra 91) talks about Boaz making 120 celebrations in honor of his sixty boys and girls, and Rabbeinu Gershom says that 30 of those were after the births of 30 girls. Many sources also stress the importance of the berachot (blessings) people make for baby and parents at the celebration.

This is not a baby naming party, but rather a time that we are thanking G-d for the beautiful blessing He has bestowed upon us. We are looking forward to seeing everyone at the “Kiddush” of Esther Rosi and hope to can celebrate with us.

– Daniel and Michal


Parshas Teruma!!!

Dear Friends and Family, 

I am back! I did not get many takers for people offering to write for me soooo I had no choice….Just a little update: B”H Esti came home this week on monday and is doing B”H great. Thank you to everyone for your tefillot, support and for all calls, texts and emails of love. Thank you to Hashem for being there for us and putting into our life the most beautiful and special parents, family and friends who were able to help us. 
In this week’s parsha, Teruma, G-d commands the Jewish people to build the Mishkan( the Tabernacle), a resting place for G-d’s presence. With the exception of the tragic incident of the sin of the Golden Calf, the rest of Sefer Shemos is devoted to the preparations for and the construction of the Mishkan. The Sfrono comments that this commandment comes right after last because the Mishkan would not have been needed had the Jewish people not sinned with the Golden Calf. He maintains that ideally no “Temple” should have been needed after the Jewish people’s revolution at Sinai. The entire nation achieved the level of prophecy and every Jew was worthy of the Shechina resting on him, as it later did on the Tabernacle and Temple. Only after the Jewish people toppled from that high level of spirituality, as a result of the worship of the Golden Calf, did it become necessary for it to have a “central” Sanctuary. 
Ramban differs with his opinion. Ramban explains that the redemption from Egypt was not complete with the physical departure from the land of Egypt, nor was it complete even with the giving of the ten commandments, even though the revelation at Sinai was the goal of the exodus. The Exodus had not achieved its purpose until the heights that the Jewish people reached at Sinai were made a permanent part of existence by the means of the Tabernacle. 
In this light, the Tabernacle was intended to be the central rallying point of the nation, ringed by the tribes and topped by the cloud of G-d’s presence, and the place to which every Jew would go with the offerings through which he hoped to elevate himself spiritually. The function of the Tabernacle in the Desert was carried forward by the Temple in Jerusalem. Throughout the long and bitter exile the centrality of G-d’s presence is represented by “miniature sanctuaries” of synagogues and study halls, for it is in them and through them that Jews hark back sounds of Sinai and the radiance of the Temple. 
We live on a physical earth, and our goal is to bring G-d and spirituality into the physical. We all experience moments of high’s and moments of low. Yet it is not just about those moments of intensity, but in the aftermath how we make it a permanent part of our life. Our emotions range of different situations and our life situations bring new experiences, challenges and rewards. On a personal note, as Daniel and I were going back and forth from the hospital, we had some time to talk on the long drives through traffic to South Miami. There were many realizations we had through it all and when our baby was coming home, we asked each other: What are we going to take from this all? What have we learned from our experience? How can we help others? What are we going to do to make this experience not just a passing challenge, but a part of us? 
We came up with some ideas and I know that we will try our hardest to follow through. 
On this Rosh Chodesh Adar, May this new month bring Mazal, Happiness, success and Refuah to the entire Klal Yisroel and May we merit to see the redemption soon.
Have a beautiful and uplifting Shabbas!

Parshas Beshalach!!!

Dear Family and Friends,

I was looking over what I wrote for the past two years on this Parshah and I have written about “As Yashir” and the dancing woman. So taking a little bit of a different direction this time….
The Jewish people arrive at the sea. They are trapped. The Egyptians are chasing them from behind and the sea is ahead. There is no where to go. After years of slavery and suffering, they are now in the desert left to die. The people start to panic and Moshe starts to pray to G-d. Yet, a new leader here emerges: Nachshon Ben Aminadav.  He was introduced in the Torah as Aaron’s brother in law and he later becomes the prince of the tribe of Yehuda. 
At this moment, Nachshon acts. Moshe stretched out his hand over the sea and the Jews had to prove their loyalty by walking into the water. The Midrash explains that the people were all fighting who should go first into the water. Nachshon was the first to obey Moshe’s command, he walks into the water until it was at his neck and then the sea splits. The Midrash enumerates the rewards that Nachshon’s brave deed earned him:
– He was given the name Nachshon, since he jumped into the waves(nachshol) of the sea.
– Five heroes of Israel were among his descendants: David, Daniel,Chananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
– The eternal kingdom of Israel was given to his tribe, Judah, and it follows that Moshiach will be his descendant as well.
Nachshon’s act of bravery here is great because in the midst of confusion, Nachshon takes action. He does not wait rather he understood that G-d will split the sea, but action on our part is needed. He does not hesitate, but takes a leap of faith and walks into the water. This was the faith that G-d wanted to see. 
Nachshon Ben Aminadav is remembered as role model in believing in an idea and taking the first step forward. It is his actions here that allowed for the great miracle of the splitting of the sea. Nachshon was a leader and he inspired us forever for his leadership in this moment.
Have a beautiful and inspirational Shabbas and may Hashem give us the strength to take a leap of faith when needed and May all our leaps be rewarded. 
– Michal
ps. I might be taking a little break soon from my weekly Dvar Torah’s. I will try to have someone fill in though! ( anyone who is interested in writing…please contact me!) 

Parshas Bo!

Dear Friends and Family, 

This dvar torah is in memory of Yitzchak ben Moshe, whose neshama should have an aliyah. 

This past week was New Years. Although I live in an exciting place to be for New Year, it never meant too much more than having a day off. Anyways, I already work out everyday. But this week there was a loss in my family which got me thinking though that although I don’t “celebrate” New Years, it is not bad to every once in while take a look at your life, evaluate where you are, set some goals and re-inspire oneself to grow. As I was reflecting I realized that “New Years” this year went straight into Rosh Chodesh Shevat. As a Jew, we have the opportunity every month to renew ourselves. 
In Parshas Bo, Hashem gives Moshe and Aaron the first mitzvah in the Torah. “This month shall be for you the beginning of the months, it shall be the first of the months of the year.” The mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh is very powerful and meaningful to the Jewish people. It symbolizes renewal, the ability to rise from oblivion and restore itself to its past greatness. Just as the moon disappears at the end of each month, but returns and grows to fullness, so Israel may suffer exile and decline, but it always renews itself until the coming of Mashiach. This essential characteristic of  Jewish history was first exhibited in Egypt, when the nation had fallen to the forty ninth level of impurity, one level above spiritual extermination. Yet, only to renew itself so breathtakingly that seven weeks later, it stood at Mount Sinai and experienced prophecy. This is the reason that one thousand years later, the Syrian Greeks prohibited the observance of Rosh Chodesh. They wanted to eradicate this sense of renewal. Instead, the Jewish people rose up in defense of the Torah and it is what commemorate during the holiday of Chanuka. 
The Jewish people have built into our DNA, the ability for renewal and to survive.  Although the moon does wain, it is always in the sky. We may not be able to see the light, but it still there. Thus is the essence of the Jewish people. Our ability to never give up and rise back. Even when we are in the depths of despair, Rosh Chodesh comes, bringing new Mazal and bracha into our life. 
Have a beautiful and uplifting Shabbas and to all my family in Peru, I miss you! May this new month bring our family from a time of mourning to a time of happiness. (baby time!!!) May Hashem bless the Jewish people with the continued ability to renew itself and grow and May we merit to see Mashiach soon!
– Michal