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,
Michal

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

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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 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 
 
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Parshas Vayigash!!

Dear Friends and Family,

 
I am reading a great book called “Tribes” by Seth Godin. It is about leadership and the concepts of a tribe. He explains that what stops people from being great is the fear of failure. He goes further to suggest that it is not just fear, but that people are afraid to take criticism or blame. Sadly, the fear of making a mistake and being criticized is so great that it stops one from reaching his potential. When I read this, I thought it was brilliant and describes the millennial so well. (read the book – it’s great….) Lord Jonathan Sacks brings out this idea of leadership in this week’s Parshah.
 
Lord Sacks explains that after the last couple of weeks, discussing Yosef’s leadership capabilities, this week an unlikely leader emerges onto the scene, Yehuda.  This is the same man who proposed selling Yosef as a slave, who then separated from his brothers, living among the Canaanites, intermarried with them, lost two of his sons because of sin and having sexual relations with a woman he takes to be a prostitute and we wonder how can leadership is explelified by Yehuda. 
 
In last week’s Parshah, the family is in a bind. They need more food and without bring down Binyamin, they will not be able to get more. Yaacov does not want to give up Binyamin and so Reuven proposes something radical: “Kill my two sons if I do not bring Binyamin back safely.” It was then Yehuda who with quiet authority – “I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him” – persuaded Yaacov to let Binyamin go with them.
 
Now in Egypt the nightmare scenario has unfolded. Binyamin has been found “stealing” Yosef’s cup and is to be held as a slave. The other brothers can go free. At this point Yehuda steps forward and makes a speech that changes history. He speaks eloquently about their father’s grief at the loss of one of Rachel’s sons. If he loses the other he will die of grief. I, says Yehuda, personally guaranteed his safe return. 

Full teshuva (repentance) is the ability to be in the same situation to repeat an earlier sin but who does not do so because he is now a changedperson. Right here we see Yehuda’s teshuva ( repentance) because it was his suggestion to sell Yosef as a slave and now when faced with the same situation of leaving Binyamin as a slave, he says, “Let me stay as a slave and let my brother go free.” That is perfect repentance, and it is what allows Yoseph to reveal his identity and forgive his brothers.

The Torah had already hinted at the change in Yehuda’s character. Having accused his daughter-in-law Tamar of becoming pregnant by a forbidden sexual relationship, he is confronted by her with evidence that he himself is the father of the child and immediately admits: “She is more righteous than I” (Gen. 38: 26). This is the first time in the Torah we see a character admit that he is wrong and from this union descended King David. 

Leaders make mistakes. Leaders are also human and they make mistakes that have nothing to do with leadership and everything to do with human weakness and temptation. What matters is that you repent, you recognize and admit your wrong, and you change as a result. 

Going back to the book, instead of being afraid of making mistakes, we must understand that we will make mistakes and take responsibility for our actions, hear criticism and after move forward as a stronger person. In Lord Saks beautiful words “A leader is one who, though he may stumble and fall, arises more honest, humble and courageous than he was before.”

Have a beautiful and uplifting Shabbas! May we always have the courage to overcome our fears and stand up as leaders. 

Parshat Miketz – Shabbat Chanukah!

Dear Friends and Family,

This D’var Torah was written by my hubby Daniel!!!

 

If you flip through the Chumash, at the end of each Parshah is listed the total number of pesukim ( verses) of the Parshah. At the end of Parshas Miketz not only listed the number of verses, but also that there are 2025 words. This aludes to Chanukah, which falls out on Parshas Miketz each year. On Chanuka, we light a new Ner (candle), for each of the eight nights. The numerical value of Ner is 250 and if you times it by eight night it equals 2000. Chanukah begins on the 25th night of Kislev. 

There is a famous question that has been asked by many Torah Scholars.  If there was enough oil to last for the first night, the miracle of Chanukah is really that the oil lasted 7 more days.  Why do we celebrate it for 8 days and light 8 candles?    

Greek culture has taught is that what’s important is the results and not the effort.  Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers) teaches us that “According to the effort is the reward.” (5:22-23) This is the essential battle between the Greek and Jewish Philosophy. 

 

Perhaps, this can be an answer to our question, when we do our part and put in the necessary effort then miracles can occur.  Once we have done so, the effort we put in is included as part of the miracle as well.  Perhaps, the extra candle and day is to commemorate the fact that we won can can continue to win the battle of results versus efforts, Greek versus Jewish Philosophy.  We have to remember that all we can control is our efforts and that the results, are up to Hashem.  Once we do that, we turn our efforts into miracles.

 

 

May Hashem instill within us, the ability to put in the necessary efforts, see them produce miracles and turn our efforts into miracles.

 

Happy Chanukah and Shabbat Shalom,

The Behars

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