Thursday, October 22, 2015

Outline of Chapter 11 : Inner Redemption Handbook

Chapter 11: How to Merit a Good Year: Coming Out of Your Ego

( Adapted from sefer Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, Yomim Noraim, Chapter8)

How can we escape the confines within our own soul? (not just our physical confines; parnassa needs etc)

Coming out of your confines means to come out of your narrowness and instead expand beyond yourself.

Reb Yisroel Salanter: “True righteousness is when a person leaves his confines and expands beyond himself, and he isn’t self absorbed and only worrying about himself.” (The shofar is compared to a cry in the Gemara because it is only a mitzvah when it comes from the small end - narrow confines- and releases into the larger end- we each sign our own decree- the narrower a person is, the narrower his income, health, and happiness)

We need to realize that there is no such thing as a “private” life.

When we stop thinking only of ourselves, we will come to serve Hashem perfectly.  The yetzer hara tries to convince us to just worry about ourselves.

“The Nefesh Hachaim writes in the introduction:  A person was not created except to help others.”

It is impossible to completely eradicate self absorption but the Gemara says we should combine shelo lishma (ulterior motives) with lishma (pure motives). (eg, when you learn Torah, give some of the z’chusim to others so that it is not just for your own benefit; give tzedaka to help others not just to gain respect or because you know your parnassa will increase as a result).

Hillel said, “What you don’t want done to you, do not do to others.”  How can this help our relationship with Hashem though?  When we give up something for someone else, we will have more self control when it comes to sin, we will get used to nullifying our desires and stop thinking only about ourselves.  When this happens we will automatically have a deeper relationship with Hashem.  

This is a slow growth process.  Take a minute a day to think how you can give for the sake of giving, how you can help someone with no  ulterior motive.

“If a person takes these words to heart, then just as he will learn to worry about others, so will Hashem worry abut him, measure for measure.”

Below is from Atara who lives in Ramat Bait Shemesh:

Things here are progressively getting worse.... Please take the time to watch the amazing video below and pass along to anyone who cares. It shows the strength of the people in Israel who just want to live in peace...while the Arabs just want to spill Jewish blood.

from Rabbi Schwartz

Pearls of Torah - 020 Hisbodedus Now

There is a spiritual dimension of reality, and a physical dimension of reality. The spiritual reality is currently mixed up and confused and lacking clarity because it is so mixed up. There is almost no beacon of light visible, except for a few rays of light here and there.  When this almost total confusion carries over into our physical dimension, it manifests in our physical world as the confusion and chaos that we see. As long as everything looks fine in this physical world, the spiritual world cannot be revealed. But, when the physical world becomes overwhelmingly chaotic, mirroring the chaos in the spiritual dimension, then the confusion increases until the physical dimension finally explodes.

When the physical dimension in front of us finally explodes, Moshiach will be revealed.

An additional reason for [the chaos now] involves the concept of hisbodedus.  Throughout the generations, most of the wars fought were between nation and nation.  But in the last few years, we can see in Israel, as well as outside of Israel, that there all kinds of wars.  The people fighting in Syria are a gathering of many people; they are not the nation of Syria alone, rather, they are a combination of many different nations who are fighting each other.  The depth of this is that we are living in a generation of “the individual” in which each person fights alone.

Yaakov Avinu fought alone with the angel, and this reflects the holy kind of being alone, which is hisbodedus.  This is the generation of hisbodedus and, therefore, we have a unique ability to tap into this innate power of hisbodedus.  But the evil kind of “alone” is the evil kind of individualism which we see rampant in today’s time, in which each person acts individually, for evil purposes [doing their “own thing”].

A person in this generation must separate from their surroundings and live internally, alone with Hashem. The light that is created by the individual can of course shine onto the rest of the world and raise his surroundings in holiness. Practically speaking, a person needs to live internally, alone, just him and Hashem.
So, when should a person do hisbodedus? Will he wait until the grave to be alone…?  Chazal explain that Gog and Magog will merit burial. In order to survive the war of Gog and Magog (the final war), one must be “alone” (to live internally with Hashem), in order to merit the meaning of “And Yaakov fought alone, until the dawn of the morning.” Before the final redemption will be the war of “Yaakov fought alone …” [Each individual needs to persevere until the dawn of the morning.] One can be involved with his environment, of course, and help people, but he must build his internal world, so that he will be able to survive the war of Gog and Magog. The war which we are in today, in the world and especially in Israel, is a war reflecting our struggle of the hisbodedus we do.
May we merit the coming of the dawn, in which the recognition of Hashem will shine completely, may it come speedily in our days, Amen.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Outline from Inner Redepmtion continued...

Chapter 10: Knowing Your Soul- A Personal Redemption:
(adapted from sefer Da Es Menuchasecha, Chapter 6)

There are two ways to look at something:
1. superficially- a partial view
2. an inner kind of vision- seeing the whole picture from above

To attain the second kind of vision, one needs calm and quiet= living with inner silence (can be compared to looking inside and ocean of still waters versus number 1- which is looking through crashing ocean waves).

How can we leave all the confusion?  If we are controlled by our emotions, the only way to get free is by a helper who is not trapped by emotions.

When we learn how to separate ourselves from the need for emotional excitement- we can begin to see from above.  Then we can see our own soul- as well as the souls of others.
(This is why many therapists can’t help, since they are viewing from inside themselves, and cannot see the picture from above).  

“All problems, physical or spiritual, are really because people don’t understand their souls….Right now we have to work hard in our avodas Hashem…In the future, we will all see the big picture.  Ramchal writes that the purpose of the world is to reveal Hashem’s ways and this will be when Hashem shows us the big picture of everything….When a person succeeds in knowing his soul, he will experience a personal redemption.  The secret to all of avodas Hashem is inner silence.  Through inner silence, we can reveal our soul.”

Reasons we may be lacking inner silence: (Please reflect on what is destroying your inner calm)

1. weaknesses (destroys our menuchas hanefesh) or talents (can distract us form being balanced)
2. desires- running after things
3. rapid actions- working fast- causes lack of menuchas hanefesh
4. amazement: constant highs in emotion causes a disconnect
5. too many roles: doing too many things even for good causes

6. thinking too much and loud noises (even speaking to someone who is very nervous)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

INNER REDEMPTION (handbook by Rabbi Schwartz)

Chapter 9: 

Sacrificing for Hashem

There are two ways to die al kiddush Hashem:
1. either by literally dying (like Rabbi Akiva)
2. or, through mesirus hanefesh: to potentially be willing to give up your life to attain a certain spiritual attainment.

One must be willing to give up one’s current level in avodas Hashem to achieve the next level.  In truth, we are gaining the real kind of life from this (without moving forward  to the next level, we are as if dead!)  

We cannot live in both worlds at the same time; if you still feel like you can live without the next area in avodas Hashem, then your  “I” is getting in the way of your growth.

Mesirus hanefesh, the willingness to let go of our ego to achieve the next level in avodas Hashem,  will then reveal Hashem within our soul.  Hashem will then help us, from within, achieve the next level.  We cannot achieve anything on our own.  “If not for Hashem helping a person, it would be impossible to overcome.” (Sukkah 52a)

Without realizing that is is better to be dead rather than to be alive and not grow spiritually- a person will never be able to really acquire any matter in his avodas Hashem….There is a private redemption that can take place in every individual Jew’s soul.  Just like Moshiach will come in the general redemption and will be someone who has no life to himself and is all about mesirus hanefesh for Hashem, so too each individual Jew can strive for his own personal redemption and have mesirus hanefesh to give up what he wants for closeness to Hashem.”

Hashem breathed nishmas chaim, breath of life into us.  This is the G-dly source of vitality found in our souls.  Therefore, with mesirus hanefesh we will find that we are not actually giving anything up, we are giving back to Hashem what is His in the first place: by revealing our life force through mesirus hanefesh we bring a revelation of the G-dliness that Hashem placed into us.

Our avoda is to realize how the life-giving energy in every creation comes from Hashem.  In fact, we will come to see that we are not giving up for Hashem, we are returning to our essence- nishmas chaim.

How do we know which level we are on?

Ask yourself, :'Am I..."
1. giving up for Hashem- but feel deprived doing so
2. realizing all of life comes from Hashem -so giving up for Him (gratitude/love)
3. realizing I have nothing to give away to begin with.  Hence, revealing through mesirus nefesh my life force ("without mesirus nefesh life is not a life, but death”)

“Chazal state (Shabbos 151a) the when Moshiach comes one of the changes will be that there is no more free will”.

How does this relate to inner personal redemption?

"If a person reaches the inner point in himself- he realizes the truth, that he is not ‘giving’ anything to Hashem….we have nothing to ‘give’; all we can do is reveal Hashem’s existence….”

Free will means “ I am choosing to give to Hashem”.  With the personal redemption we will see that we have nothing to ‘give’ and we will recognize that everything belongs to and is Hashem.  Each of us have this power within,  to give ourself up for Hashem, willing to die for Him if we must, in order to attain more closeness to Him.

“May Hashem merit the entire Jewish people that we be inclined to serve Him, and that we should quickly merit the truest revelation of all- ‘ And Hashem will remain, alone’- as a personal revelation in each of our souls.”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Do Not Despair!


I hope you are all well.  It has been a month and a half since we have learned together.  IY'H this motzai Shabbos at 10 pm NY time we will resume.

In a Yated article (thank you Reitza Sarah for sending to me)- Rav Doniel Travis asks Rav Auerbach what one should do to help with the situation in Eretz Yisrael.  Rav Auerbach responds 1. tefilah- not simply adding more Tehillim, rather, changing the way we daven by putting our hearts and mind into our daily tefilos and, 2. increasing our bitachon by focusing on AIN OD MILVADO.

Hence, in our upcoming chaburah, IY'H this motzai Shabbos we will focus on these two areas: tefila and bitachon.  Please have your Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh Sefer available and see the chapter below (taken from

Bilvavi Part 5 - 034 Why We Daven

בלבבי חלק ה. תפלה. עמ' לד- לט


Why do we daven? Is it so that we can get our physical needs? Is it so that we can get our spiritual needs? Or is it so that we can strengthen our emunah?

Although it is true that we can get our physical needs, our spiritual needs, and more emunah by davening, there is still a deeper meaning to our davening. It is the whole purpose of why we daven – and even in this, there is depth within depth.


What is the inner meaning to our davening?

The Mesillas Yesharim (chapter 19) writes that upon reflection, one can see how all of life is meant to be spent with Hashem.

For all our life, we are partners with Hashem – not just partners every here and there like with friends, but partners for life. The way life is supposed to look is that we live with Hashem, as if He’s right in front of us – and thus, we can talk to Him in first person.

This closeness comes to us through tefillah. By getting used to always talking to Hashem about everything – big or small – a person is able to really feel that Hashem is next to him, at all times.


Thus, the purpose of davening is not to get our needs, not even to get our spiritual needs. It is not even so that we should get emunah. The purpose of our davening is so that we can actually talk to Hashem, to feel that Hashem is next to us like a friend!

These words are written as well by the Chazon Ish[1], “Prayer is a lofty service, in which one can picture vividly how Hashem is listening to his words.” This is the main purpose of tefillah: to reach the recognition that Hashem is actually next to us, “nochach” (opposite us), for we live with Him, every second.


The Chazon Ish[2] elaborates on this even more: “I know of one piece of advice that  can apply to every person. The existence of Hashem is everywhere and constant, but He is hidden from those who are caught up in the flow of life. Anyone has the ability to direct his heart for Heaven. Anyone who wants to escape falsehood can picture vividly that Hashem is here. Through one’s thoughts, he can connect to the One Above, and “Hashem is close to all who call out to Him.” (He is not close to us simply because we are asking things of Him when we daven, but rather from the mere fact that we davening to Him, we draw ourselves closer to Him). This gives satisfaction to the Creator (because this is not an intellectual matter, but a soul matter – that the soul can sense the Creator actually next to it)….

“How amazing this is, that a person has the ability to pour out all his worries before the Master of the world as if he talks to a friend, and Hashem nourishes him like how a father caresses his child.”


Understand that the entire concept and purpose of tefillah is to live with the Creator, to feel Him next to you – and to be able to speak to Him just as when you speak to a friend next to you. When you talk to Hashem, you are able to feel toward Him that He is your trusted friend, whose only interest is to be a good listener and help you.

This is written by both the Ramchal (Mesillas Yesharim) and the Chazon Ish – that when we talk to Hashem, it can feel like talking to a friend.

This is the true way to daven.

If a person davens to Hashem and even believes sincerely that Hashem can help him – but he doesn’t feel as if he’s talking to a friend who is next to him, he’s missing the whole point of davening. In order to really daven, a person needs to open up his soul. He needs to have a real feeling that he is talking with the best friend he can ever have – Hashem; and this should not be in his imagination, but a real feeling. It is pleasant to speak with Him – and when a person truly feels this way, he is davening in the right way.


Now we will try to explain how one can indeed feel that Hashem is next to him, nochach – so that when one davens, he will be able to feel as if he’s talking to a trusted friend.

If a person is disconnected from Hashem throughout the rest of the day, and it is only during davening that he speaks to Hashem – during Shacharis, Mincha and Maariv – he will never be able to feel that davening is like talking to a friend. The essence of tefillah is really to talk to Hashem all day, as one of the Sages said[3]: “If only a person would pray all day.”

Is it really possible to pray all day? No, we don’t daven Shemoneh Esrei all day. But what the Sages meant was that our entire day has to reflect the possuk, “And I am prayer.” In other words – we need to talk to Hashem all the time throughout the day. (Someone who is on a higher spiritual level talks to Hashem all the time mentally, and then there is an ever higher level, d’veykus, in which one is actually feels connected to Him all the time, without even having to think about this).

For example, a person wakes up in the morning. He can immediately begin to speak to Hashem and say, “Ribono shel olam, You woke me up, and I am getting up to serve You, to come close to You, to give You a nachas ruach. Please merit me that my day should be spent properly, that I should serve You the entire day.”

Then, as he’s walking to shul, he can say, “Ribono shel olam, please merit me that I should be able to concentrate during davening, that I should feel You next to me, and that distracting thoughts shouldn’t enter my head when I daven.”

After he leaves shul, he can say, “Ribono shel olam, please ensure that I don’t see anything forbidden on the street as I walk, and that I should get to where I have to on time, without being rushed.”

A person sits down to learn, and he can say, “Ribono shel olam, I am going to learn Your holy Torah so I can come close to You and give You a nachas ruach. Please merit me that I should be able to learn properly, without distractions, and that I should merit to understand what I learn.”

In middle of learning, when one comes across a difficulty and he can’t come to an answer, he can say, “Ribono shel olam, I know that it depends on You if I will understand what I learn or not. Please merit me that I should understand your holy Torah.” (The Chazon Ish would practice this too).

The point is that before anything, talk to Hashem about it and ask Him for help. Talk to Him no less than how you talk to a friend. Don’t forget about this as the day goes on – keep remembering this point.

At first, this will be difficult, and a person will keep forgetting to do it. But as you get used to it, it becomes second nature, and slowly you will be able to naturally talk to Hashem throughout the day.

This is a very fundamental point in how we become closer to Hashem. Be very stubborn to work on this – be willing to pay any price for it. Work on it in steps, patiently. But don’t forget it. If someone truly seeks Hashem, he will be shown the way to get there.


There is another fundamental point about tefillah: one should pour out everything that’s on his heart to Hashem, even his failings. Tell Hashem about all your difficulties, all your doubts, all your frustrations. Include Hashem in every part of your life! Don’t be embarrassed.

It is hard to express this point more than what we have said, but the main thing is to absorb one point: include Hashem in everything in your life – every thought, every feeling, anything you went through in your life. Do this all from a simple, natural way how you talk to a friend – like when you want to tell a friend about all that’s going on in your life.

This point needs to be absorbed very well – without it, the main part of one’s bond with Hashem will be missing.

(We do not mean to day that only talking to Hashem counts and that thinking about Him in solitude is pointless, because a person has to also feel “alone with Hashem” as well, even without talking to Him. But that is the first part of one’s avodah. Eventually, one has to talk to Hashem about everything in his life. This is the constant two-step process: first, be in solitude and feel alone with Hashem. You don’t have to talk to Him yet in this first stage. Then, talk to Him – about everything going on in your life.

There are some exceptions to this rule. Some people need to think about Hashem and talk to Him at the same time, instead of going through it as a two-stage process. If someone is searching for the truth, he will be shown what the proper path for him to take is. Refer back to the Preface for this).

There is also a higher way to daven than what we have described until now: instead of davening for so many things, a person can daven for the one, innermost point of everything – to reach a close connection with Hashem. This is a very deep matter, however, and we will not discuss it here.


Another fundamental point about tefillah is that it’s possible that a person is very close to Hashem, yet he’s making mistakes in his Avodas Hashem – and there is no one pointing out to him his mistakes.

Therefore, a person should always daven and beg Hashem that he be shown his mistakes, and what he has to fix. A person has to keep davening for this, from the depths of his soul, and he should always feel that he’s making some mistake which he doesn’t know about, and that he needs Hashem to show him the truth. If a person doesn’t daven for this, he might go his whole life mistaken, chas v’shalom – and the errors he’s making will be very grave.

Hashem wants us to always feel that we depend on Him, and that we cannot trust ourselves at all. We need Hashem all the time to show us what the truth is. If a person never thinks that perhaps he’s making a mistake, his whole life will be a haughty kind of life – his whole life will all be one giant mistake.

We have to daven to Hashem and beg Him that we be shown the truth, that we be shown our mistakes, that we be shown how we can work on ourselves and what it is exactly that we need to work on. The problem is that there are some areas in which a person thinks he’s acting 100% correct – “This is how it’s done.” But the more a person matures in his spirituality, the more he understands that there is no such thing as relying on oneself, and that he has to search himself inside about he’s acting in everything. A mature person realizes that he has to always daven to Hashem that perhaps he’s making a mistake in his Avodas Hashem, and that Hashem should show him the light.

This point, when not realized, holds back many people from truly growing in their Avodas Hashem. One has to be very careful about this and make sure he realizes it.

[1] Kovetz Igros Chazon Ish, Vol I, Letter 23
[2] Kovetz Igros Chazon Ish, Vol. IV, Letter 2
[3] Berachos 31a

From Chicago- Aneinu group:

Please help make this go viral.
You can even choose English or Hebrew instructions.

Ten years ago Shmuel Mett  was a bochur in the Mir, engaged to be married. Sadly, he never reached this milestone as he was murdered in a stabbing attack on his way home from the kosel.
To our distress we are experiencing a similar wave of terror currently in Eretz Yisrael. Some of us feel powerless, some are scared.
At times like these we call upon our most powerful weapon. Whether you live in Eretz Yisrael, have children there or simply have a Jewish heart, there IS something you can to improve the situation.
הקול קול יעקב והידיים ידי עשו
Amiras tehillim has been established l'ilui nishmas Shmuel, as a refua shleima for the terror victims  recent attacks in Israel and for the general matzav in Israel at the moment.
It is hard for some people to commit to regular tehillim. Here you don't have to commit to any daily tehillim. When you feel like you need extra merit or simply have a free moment click on the link and say a perek. 
Please pass this on to as many people as possible so that we can reach our goal of 1,000 sifrei tehillim said.
Tizku  l mitzvos and may we all merit to see the geula shleima bekarov.
With your help this war will be won!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Feeling Powerless?

Rav Chaim of Volozhin states in Nefesh Hachaim that every action we take, thought we think,  and each word we utter creates change in the world that reverberates infinitely.  We are each a link in the chain of Klal Yisrael; when we enhance our link, it lifts those attached to ours.

Are we powerless right now?

Can we do nothing but stand by and watch?

As we see above, WE are powerful, individually, and even more so, as a people. 

If we make one small change in our actions, thoughts, or speech, it will make an impact, greater than any of us can imagine.  We will literally be saving lives.  

Don't know what to do? 

The next time a negative thought arises in your head about another person or even about yourself, turn from it; pause before you speak and check if those words are bringing Hashem into this world; smile at someone and make them feel good.  Infinite possibilities to show how WE are powerful.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Chag sameach!!

From rabbi Jacobson:
Simchat Torah 5730, 1969.
A young 14-year-old boy is keenly watching a man dancing as if there are no worries in the world. His legs pump in a rhythm only his soul could produce. He looks like a flame, flickering on and on, reaching for a place beyond anything he has ever known. Wow, the boy thinks to himself, “how could that man be so happy?”
“Which man?”
Startled, the 14-year-old boy didn’t realize he’d asked that question aloud.
“Which man?” His father asks him again.
“That man,” the young boy points to the whirling dancer. “He must be the happiest man on earth.”
As his father looks to where his son is pointing and he sees the black-bearded man with five children in tow, his eyes fill with tears and he sighs. “That man lost his young wife just six days ago.”
“But then how can he be so happy, how can he possibly dance like that?”
“Because today is Simchat Torah and it is a mitzvah to dance and to be happy. This is what a Jew does; this is what a real Chassid does.”
Although this story happened before I was born, I have heard it many times.
The year was 5730, 1969, and, on the second day of Sukkot, a young 42-year old man lost his wife to leukemia. As was the custom instituted by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, every year, on Simchat Torah, hundreds of Chassidim would walk near and far to celebrate with Jews in Synagogues across New York. This man was one of those Chassidim. Each year Simchat Torah he would take his young children to a small shul in East Flatbush where they would dance with the Torah and rejoice with the community. That year, 1969, the young man did the same. The children’s grandmother, their mother’s mother, dressed them in their finest clothing and sent them off with their father to East Flatbush.
It was there, in that little shul, that this dialogue between father and son took place.
After the dancing was over in East Flatbush, the young man and his children walked back to Crown Heights. He dropped his younger children off at home with their grandmother and hurried to 770 where the Lubavitcher Rebbe was in midst of a farbrengen. Every year on Simchat Torah, before hakofot, the Rebbe would speak for a number of hours, discussing the intricate energies of Simchat Torah and hakofot. The farbrengen would consist of several talks, each one punctuated by the singing of a niggun, a Chassidic melody sometimes dating back hundreds of years. The man of whom we are speaking was the one who began the niggunim at the Rebbe’s farbrengens.
The shul at 770 Eastern Parkway was packed from floor to ceiling; people were clinging to bleachers and rafters just as they did to the Rebbe’s every word. As the Rebbe finished one segment of his talk, the crowd looked to the new widower to begin a song. What happened next was one of the most dramatic experiences in the lives of those who attended that gathering. A rare moment of truth...
Through the hush of thousands of people, a gentle but defiant voice began to sing:“Mi vadiom nye patonyem, ee v’agniom nye s’gorim,” a vibrant Chassidic Russian melody meaning, “We in water will not drown, and in fire will not burn.” The Rebbe looked up and stared at the man – with a piercing, knowing gaze that is impossible to describe. Suddenly the Rebbe sprang up from his chair, pushing it back with such force that it nearly fell over. The Rebbe began dancing in his place, rocking up and down, swaying back and forth, with incredible intensity and passion. Witnesses say that in all the years the Rebbe never danced – never before and never after – quite like that.
As the Rebbe swung his arms, leading the singing, the crowd became more and more energized, chanting in unison, “We in water will not drown, and in fire will not burn; we in water will not drown, and in fire will not burn.” Faster and faster they chanted, as if in a trance.
People present later described the unbelievable sight of this fragile man who had just experienced utter devastation, swinging back and forth – surrounded by waves of people, being led by the Rebbe himself – singing: “We in water will not drown, and in fire will not burn,” nothing can vanquish our spirit – as if G-d had not just taken his wife, as if he was the happiest man alive.
Everyone melted in the dance and the song. The joy and the tears all dissolved into one transcendent dance; a dance that captured the essence of joy and pain, ecstasyand agony – the indestructible core of life itself. At that moment everything and nothing made sense. “Mi vadiom nye patonyem, ee v’agniom nye s’gorim,” “We in water will not drown, and in fire will not burn.”
Moments like that become frozen in time.
Fast-forward 20 years:
A phone call comes in to a major Jewish children’s organization in Crown Heights, Tzivos Hashem.
“Hello,” the voice on the other end of the line says. “I am so-and-so and I would like to sponsor children’s programs for Simchat Torah,”
“Ok, sure,” the man working in the organization happily replies. “But, if I may ask, why do you have this particular interest in children’s programs for Simchat Torah?”
“Well, you see, when I was a boy, every Simchat Torah my father and I would go to a small shul in East Flatbush to celebrate. One year, when I was fourteen, as I was watching the few people dancing in a circle, I noticed one man who looked so happy, as if everything in the world was perfect. I stood there transfixed, wondering how this man could exude so much joy. I asked my father this question, and my father told me that I should know this man just lost his wife but, because he is a real Chassid and the Torah says to be happy on Simchat Torah, he is happy. This made a very big impression on my 14-year-old mind – that a Jew could put aside all his pain and suffering and be happy just because it’s a mitzvah to be happy was unbelievable to me – so I decided I would like to help other children celebrate the happiness and joy of Simchat Torah.”
Fast-forward another 17 years:
On the 23rd of Cheshvon, 5767, 2006, the man of this story, Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Gansbourg, the one who lost his wife in 1969, rejoined her in the Garden of Eden. Yet, his (and her) grandchildren, their “life,” live on. They have built families and communities, changed people’s lives, and continue to make the world a better place.
The story of the young man has taught me much: even in the saddest of times, even when all seems lost, with a little joy, a little dance, everything can change.
And it’s true, “We in water will not drown, and in fire will not burn.”
How do I know? you may ask. Because I myself am living proof. You see, my mother was the youngest of those five children that walked with their father to that small shul in East Flatbush those 41 years ago.