??QUIZ TIME?? Answers can be found on back page. 1. Toward which direction did the wicks of the menorah burn, and why?
AHReady, Steady, Wait.
Rabbi Dovber CowanJLE
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If thats how we deal with dashboard warning lights, then we evidently have more problems than just a faulty car, but do we always heed the stop signs in our everyday lives?
And whenever the cloud was lifted from on top of the tent, afterwards Bnei Yisrael would journey, and in the place that the cloud would rest, there Bnei Yisrael would encamp. According to the word of Hashem would Bnei Yisrael journey and according the word of Hashem would they encamp. (Bamidbar 9:17-18)
In our parshah Bnei Yisrael are off on their way. After receiving the Torah on Har Sinai, building and inaugurating the mishkan and preparing the camp they are finally heading to the promised land.
At this juncture the Torah reminds us that all the journeys were al pi Hashem - according to the word of Hashem and not according to the whims or desires of the people. There was no set schedule of departures with evenly spaced encampments of equal lengths. Rather, when the cloud lifted it meant that it was time to get going, even if they were still just unpacking from the previous journey. When the cloud stopped they needed to make a camp, even if they were sure there was a better spot just around the corner. More profoundly, when the cloud remained above the tent it was a sign that they needed to stay put, even if they really wanted to get going.
The previous Slonimer Rebbe, the Nesivos Shalom, ztl, writes that since we are all required to make ourselves into a Mishkan Meat - a personal microcosm of the mishkan - then the cloud, the tent and the manner in which we moved on our journeys in the midbar must be teaching us an eternal message about how to move in our personal life journeys .
We therefore see that there are times in a Jews life that are full of light and clarity. These times relate to the cloud being lifted from the top of the mishkan. There are no niggling questions. No doubts and no taynas. It is easy to believe and easy to inspire yourself and others too
However, Hashem also presents us with times of darkness and confusion tough times, challenging times, times that we would rather fast-forward. Emunah might not be as strong and it might not be so easy to inspire oneself, let alone others. These times relate to the cloud remaining on top of the mishkan giving it a darker appearance. Our natural response to such a state would be to relocate as soon as possible. Moreover, when we are not able to instantly leave the slump we get frustrated and sometimes angry.
The Nesivos Shalom says, a Jew needs to know that both these states the clarity and the darkness - are both completely bhashgachah elyonah determined by a Higher Providence. Even in the tough and challenging times a Jew has a certain tafkid a mission that he needs to fulfill specifically at this time. His avodah is to keep serving Hashem even in the times of confusion and darkness, as much as he was serving Him during the times of light and clarity.
But even more than that, just as the cloud covering the tent was a sign to stay put, so too, these challenging moments in our lives are a sign from Hashem saying: Stop! Dont cut the dashboard wire and drive on because right now this is where you are meant to be.
There is a reason why Hashem wants us to be where we are and there is great potential to find purpose in every moment. Perhaps it is because we need to work on ourselves. Perhaps there are questions that need to be asked. Seek the etzah. Be real to yourself and fix what needs fixing. Hashem is with you even here and there is no need to be afraid.
And then, once we have fulfilled the ratzon of Hashem in the spot that he has told us to wait, the self-same cloud that challenged us to grow, lifts up from our mishkan, providing a new level of clarity and purpose and leads us onwards and upwards to the next level in our life journey.
' ' The message is powerful. The message is eternal. Serve Hashem
wherever you are because even here you have a unique job which only you can perform.
S P O N S O R E D
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??QUIZ TIME?? Answers can be found on back page. 2. From what material and in what manner was the menorah made?Giving a voice to victims of abuseGiving a voice to victims of abuse
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YThe Power of the Present Rabbi Yaakov Barr MSc (CBT), Pg Dip, BABCP (accred) Psychotherapist in private practice in London specialising in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
The Power of Now Turning off the Auto-pilotI once heard a lecture by a psychologist who dealt with terminally ill patients. He explained that a key aspect of his work was to help provide a sense of now for the dying, to enable them to make the most of their time. His mission was to help them to live their life with purpose, dignity and support, to make the most of the present, rather than getting too caught up with regrets over the past or fears for the future. His work is clearly worthwhile and valuable. Yet I was left wondering why so many people wait till the end of their life to learn how to make the now so important.
Most of us find that our mind is very rarely in the present. In fact a recent study I read shocked me. It found that people spend half their waking hours thinking about something other than what theyre actually doing. This mind-wandering typically causes unhappiness. We are happiest when our minds are focused on what we are actually doing, but seldom does this happen. We find it difficult to experience whats happening in the present because we are too busy thinking about what needs to be done tomorrow or being distracted by thoughts of what happened yesterday. At its most extreme, worrying about the future can lead to anxiety disorders, whilst lamenting over the past may cause depression.
When we let our minds wander like this, we perform many activities on auto-pilot. Have you ever opened a cupboard to get something out, but not been able remember what you wanted? You have probably laughed (or cried) when you discovered your shopping bag filled with everything except the item you went out to buy. I was recently doing some written work and looked forward to having a nice cup of coffee at the finish. When I started drinking the long-awaited coffee, I found myself thinking about the rest of the tasks that I had to complete that day. For a moment, out of the blue, I came to my senses and was struck by the empty cup in my hand. Did I just drink that? I must have, but I cant remember drinking it. That whole coffee experience, which I had looked forward to, had gone past without my noticing it. In this way, little by little, moment by moment, life can slip by without us being fully there for it.
Our Yiddishkeit is also a victim of our auto-pilot. Ideally we should be fully connected to Hashem during tefillah and in our performance of mitzvos. However, the reality is that our mind usually takes a different path, resulting in our avodas Hashem being lifeless and habitual
mitzvos anashim melumodo" (Yeshayahu 29:13). There is a story of a man who, upon concluding his shemoneh esrei saw his Rebbe approaching him. The Rebbe stretched out his hand and welcomed him back home. The man was surprised and told the Rebbe that he must have made a mistake
- he had not returned from any journey. But the Rebbe replied that he had observed him during the shemoneh esrei and could see that his daydreams had clearly taken him on many journeys, far far away.
So whats the solution? Imagine there are two children in the back of a car, Reuven and Shimon and their parents are taking them to a theme park which is a three hour drive away. Reuven has one aim, to get to the theme park as fast as possible. Hes sitting on the edge of his seat whining every few minutes, are we there yet? Im bored. Shimon has two aims: to get to the theme park as quickly as possible and to appreciate the journey. Shimon looks out of the window and notices all the fields full of cows and sheep. He watches the giant trucks zooming past in fascination and he waves at friendly pedestrians. He is not at all frustrated, but is
enjoying the journey experience. Now, if the car breaks down and the kids never get to go to the theme park, which child has had the most enjoyable journey?
What Shimon is doing is something called mindfulness. Mindfulness is a concept which is