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