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The weekly share – 13 SIVAN

Food For the Soul


Can 21st century people understand the concept of “prophecy”? We can, perhaps, understand “inspiration.” After all, poets and artists are inspired. But prophecy lies beyond our experience.
The last verse in this week’s Torah reading gives us a glimpse of the nature of the prophecy of Moses. The Holy of Holies in the Sanctuary constituted a concentration of divine power. The highest level of intensity was in the sapphire tablets, on which were engraved the ten commandments, which Moses had gotten from Mount Sinai.
These tablets were kept in the golden ark. On top of the ark were two golden winged figures, male and female, facing each other. The divine force was somehow focused at the point between them – and it was from that point that the divine voice spoke to Moses.
Described like that, it seems like a kind of spiritual technology. A further aspect of this is seen in a teaching from the sages. They explain that a stream of divine energy flows from Gd. One aspect of this energy is that it keeps the world in existence. Another is that it enters the mind of a prophet, such as Moses or Isaiah, and takes the form of words of Torah teachings.
Is this perspective on life any less credible than the mysterious findings of relativity theory and quantum mechanics? The aim of the Torah is to harness the most profound forces at the heart of existence in order to achieve the divine purpose of creation.
The mitzvot are instructions on how to live in such a way that the spiritual potential of the universe is realized. This will eventually – indeed, very soon – achieve the goal of attaining an epoch of universal peace and harmony, in which “the world will be filled with knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the sea.”

Dr. Tali Loewenthal

Shabbat Shalom


This Shabbat we continue to read from the Parsha “Nasso”, meaning “Count” (Numbers 4:22). Completing the headcount of the Children of Israel taken in the Sinai Desert, a total of 8,580 Levite men between the ages of 30 and 50 are counted in a tally of those who will be doing the actual work of transporting the Tabernacle.
G-d communicates to Moses the law of the sotah (the wayward wife). Also given is the law of the nazir, who forswears wine, lets his or her hair grow long, and is forbidden to become contaminated through contact with a dead body.
Aaron and his descendants, the kohanim, are instructed on how to bless the people of Israel. The leaders of twelve tribes of Israel each bring their offerings for the inauguration of the altar. Although their gifts are identical, each is brought on a different day and is individually described by the Torah.

Mind Over Matter

Fear of Joy

People are afraid of joy. They are afraid they’ll get out of hand and lose control.
These people haven’t experienced real joy—the joy that comes from doing a mitzvah with all your heart.
Where there is that joy, the Divine Presence can enter. Where there is that joy, there are no pits to fall into, and all obstacles evaporate into thin air.
The great Kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, said that the gates of wisdom and divine inspiration were opened to him only as a reward for his joy in fulfilling a mitzvah.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

Moshiach Thoughts

“I await his coming every day”

The laws of a Nazirite teach us a most significant principle about our belief in the coming of Moshiach. Halachah (Torah-law) decrees: If one declares, “I undertake to become a Nazirite on the day that Moshiach will come,” then if he made this vow on a weekday he is forever bound by it from that very moment. If he made his vow on a Shabbat or Yom Tov (festival-day), it will become operative from the next day onwards, forever, but not on that day itself. For it is uncertain whether Moshiach will or
will not come on a Shabbat or Yom Tov, which, therefore, precludes making the vow operative on that day (Eruvin 43b; Hilchot Nezirut 4:11).
This demonstrates clearly the fact that “the day that Moshiach will come” is a possibility that applies to each day. Thus we say in our daily prayers, “every day (and all day long) we hope for Your salvation”; or in the version of the Thirteen Principles of the Faith: “I await his coming every day.”

Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet

Have I Got A Story

The Antidote to Stupidity

“Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped” —Elbert Hubbard
In the holy city of Safed, next to the old cemetery, sits a humble structure, known as the “Arizal’s mikvah.” The small building houses a ritual bath which, according to tradition, was used by the master kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534–1572, known as the “Arizal”), who would immerse himself in its waters before praying and studying.
The mikvah (ritual pool) is actually an underground stream; its waters are ice cold. But considering the mikvah’s illustrious history, many consider it a special privilege to brave the cold. In fact, tradition has it that anyone who dips in its waters will certainly repent before passing on.
So, the story is told of a father who takes his son before his bar mitzvah to dip in the frigid waters. The son enters the water and screams, “Ay! This is cold.”
He quickly immerses and jumps out, straight into the warm towel his father is holding in his extended hands. “Aaaah!” said the boy, “this feels good!”
Said the father to his about-to-become-a-man son: “May this be a lesson for the rest of your life. Whenever you do something, and the ‘ay’ comes before the ‘ah,’ you know that it is a good thing that you’ve done. When the ‘ah,’ however, comes before the ‘ay,’ then you know that you have done something wrong . . .”
I was reminded of this story when reading the section of the Torah that discusses the woman suspected of having been unfaithful to her husband—the sotah. The word the Torah chooses (Numbers 5:12) to describe her alleged disloyalty is tisteh, [a woman who has] “gone astray.” Tisteh can also translate as “becomes foolish.” Hence the Talmudic axiom: “A person does not sin unless overcome by a spirit of folly.”
Sin is foolish. We all know it. No one ever feels good after a sin (psycho-maniacs aside), and no one feels bad after doing a mitzvah. But we sin anyway. Then we feel guilty, then we sin again, then we go to the synagogue on Yom Kippur and promise to better ourselves. Then we sin again.
No, I am not writing a book titled 10 Ideas How to Never Sin Again, nor have I discovered the magic pill that kills the evil inclination within. And if anyone claims to have found the vaccine against temptation, lock him up in an asylum—before he proclaims himself a god and goes off to build a cult and exploit a bunch of misguided people.
Until Moshiach comes, when evil will be eradicated from the world for good, we will continue to be tempted by sin. Hey, just another reason to ask Gd to send Moshiach.
But maybe, just maybe, if we take the story of the mikvah to heart, and next time we are about to say “ah” before the “ay,” we think ahead—we might refrain from sin that one time. And that is a very big deal. Or, as our sages succinctly put it: “Who is a wise one? One who foresees the outcome [of his actions].”

Rabbi Levi Avtzon

Food For the Soul


From May 25 to 27, 2023 is Shavuot, a two-day holiday (one day in Israel) that commemorates the date when G‑d gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai over 3,000 years ago. Preceded by 49 days of counting in eager anticipation, Shavuot is celebrated through desisting from work, candle-lit dinners, staying up all night to study Torah, listening to the reading of the Ten Commandments in synagogue, enjoying dairy foods and other festivities.

The giving of the Torah was a far-reaching spiritual event—one that touched the essence of the Jewish soul for all times. Our sages have compared it to a wedding between G‑d and the Jewish people. Shavuot also means “oaths,” for on this day G‑d swore eternal devotion to us, and we in turn pledged everlasting loyalty to Him.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—explained that there is special significance to bringing children, even the youngest of infants, to hear the Ten Commandments on Shavuot morning.

Before G‑d gave the Torah to the Jewish people, He demanded guarantors. The Jews made a number of suggestions, all rejected by G‑d, until they declared, “Our children will be our guarantors that we will cherish and observe the Torah.” G‑d immediately accepted them and agreed to give the Torah.

“By listening to the Ten Commandments on Shavuot morning,” the Rebbe explained, “the words of Torah will be engraved in the hearts and minds of the children. And through them, the Torah will be etched within their parents and grandparents with even greater intensity. Thus, the Ten Commandments, which include within them the entire Torah, will become a part of our lives throughout the entire year.”

 Learn more about the giving of the Torah and what it means to us at 

Shabbat Shalom


This Shabbat, the second day of Shavuot in the Diaspora, we recite Yizkor, the remembrance prayer for departed parents, after the morning reading of the Torah.

Writes Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin, “Yizkor, which literally means Remember, is the special memorial prayer for the departed that is recited in the synagogue four times a year: on the last day of Passover, on the second day of Shavuot, on Shemini Atzeret and Yom Kippur. The reason for this prayer is that once a soul has departed from this physical world, it no longer has the ability to do any mitzvahs or acquire more merits. However, those that are still alive in this world, especially their descendants, have the ability through prayer, Torah study and mitzvahs to not only bring merit and elevate the souls of the departed but, if need be, even take them out of Gehinnom (purgatory).”

Mind Over Matter


The boundary between your spiritual life and your business life is imaginary. They are both one.

Some people think there is no conflict between their work and their time for study, meditation and prayer.

But, on the contrary, they complement one another.

Start your day by connecting it to Torah—the day shines and all its parts work in synchronicity.

Work honestly, carrying the morning’s inspiration in your heart—and your work itself rolls out the deepest wisdom of Torah before your open eyes.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

Moshiach Thoughts

Total Immersion in G‑dly Wisdom

The Messianic Era will be one of tremendous prosperity—”delicacies will be commonplace like dust.” That will leave humankind with ample free time—and all the nations of the world will be preoccupied with one pursuit: the study of G-d and the Torah. Moshiach will reveal profound hitherto unknown dimensions of the Torah. The Midrash goes as far as to say that “the Torah which we study in this world is naught in comparison to the Torah of Moshiach.” Furthermore, while our present-day knowledge of G‑d is limited to intellectual perception, when Moshiach will teach about G‑d, we will actually “see” what we are studying. 

Visit for more about the Torah of the Messianic Era—its superior nature as well as the radically different way we will grasp the knowledge.

Have I Got A Story

You Can Do It

As a rabbi, I often encounter Jews who claim that they are unable to bear the entire burden of the ritual commandments. “You are different,” they tell me, “you have more faith than I. You are more able than I. I envy you, but religion is not my cup of tea.” My response is always the same. “Don’t try to do it all at once, do a little bit today and a little more tomorrow. With time, you may even surprise yourself and develop a taste for the religious cup of tea.”

As I speak, I’m always struck by how it easy it is to mistake unwillingness for inability. As I encourage them to move forward, I know that I am not more able than they, only more practiced. I know that with time they too can accustom themselves to the Torah way of life and discover that they, too, are able. They will then know that they never lacked ability, only commitment.

They tell me they can’t, and I think they don’t want to. Is this harsh? Am I being insensitive? There was a time when I would have thought so, but today I know different.

I once helped to organize a large community fair. At the planning meeting, when responsibilities were parceled out, I was asked to recruit fifty volunteers for the fair. I balked at the large number, unsure that I could commit. The leader looked down at me and demanded, “Do you think everyone here knows how they’ll fulfill their commitments? We only know that if we don’t commit, it will certainly not happen.” At the time, I was hurt. Didn’t he understand that I couldn’t commit on behalf of fifty other people? I didn’t say anything but went to work. It took time and effort, but in the end fifty volunteers were recruited and I learned a valuable lesson: if you will it, it will happen.

Empowering Words

When I was a child, my mother always insisted that I finish my meal, homework or chores. I would holler and wail that I wasn’t smart, big or strong enough, but she always knew better. To my argument, “But I can’t,” she’d firmly reply, “But you can!”

At the time, I thought her a demanding mother, completely oblivious to my limitations. Today I know better. If my mother hadn’t taught me to reach beyond my grasp, I could not have been who I am today. The words, “Yes you can,” are not oppressive. They are empowering.

The Inspiring Oath

The Jewish nation received the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai more than 3,300 years ago. Every year, on the anniversary of this date, this biblical episode is commemorated by Jews around the world during a special holiday called Shavuot, which means “weeks,” thus called because this holiday always falls exactly seven weeks after Passover.

The Hebrew word Shavuot also means “oaths.” The Talmud teaches that G‑d administers an oath to every Jewish soul before it descends into this world, obliging the soul to observe the biblical commandments. Every Jewish soul must take the oath. Every Jewish soul must oblige itself.

But is binding themselves through an oath not fair to those souls that are simply unable to abide by the many laws and restrictions inherent in these commandments? Every soul knows that it is capable of abiding by every commandment, but it worries that it might lack the will to carry through. Taking the oath obliges the soul and raises its latent abilities to the surface. Administering the oath is G-d’s way of saying, “Go ahead and make the commitment. You can do it. I believe in you.”

The day that Jews commemorate receiving the Ten Commandments is the day to remember that empowering oath. The day to remember that G‑d believes in us and empowers us to live up to our commitments.

Rabbi Lazer Gurkow

Food For the Soul

Do You Like Standing Out or Fitting In?

Years ago, when I was in school, there was no uniform policy. Any long-sleeved, white blouse with any navy mid-length skirt could be worn. We expressed our individuality through the particular style blouse or skirt that we chose.

In schools that do enforce uniforms, students will often distinguish themselves by colorful hair accessories or bold jewelry.

We all need some way to express our individuality. And yet, when given our autonomy, don’t we want to have what “everyone’s wearing”? Ironically, we sometimes express our individuality by copying “everyone else.” Seemingly, we have two opposing forces tugging at us: our need to stand out as individuals vs. our need for belonging. In fact, too much individuality can often lead to a lack of identity.

In our pursuit of individuality, have we forgotten the goal of community? In this week’s Torah portion, Bamidbar, the tribes camped in the wilderness, “each man by his division with the flag of their fathers’ house.” Rashi explains: “Every division shall have its own flag staff, with a colored flag hanging on it; the color of one being different from the color of any other.”

Each tribe had its own leader, its own place to camp, its own color and flag, and its own representative stone on the breastplate worn by the High Priest. Each tribe was allotted its portion in Israel that best suited its vocation, as shepherds, vintners, seafaring merchants, scholars, etc.

We all need to feel a sense of belonging to something greater—a people, a community, a way of life. Only when we feel a secure sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves can we really have the freedom to discover our individuality.

But this larger entity must also provide the framework for each of us to strive to become our unique personal best.

From an article by Chana Weisberg

Shabbat Shalom


This Shabbat we read from the Parsha Bamidbar, meaning “in the desert” (Numbers 1:1-4:20). In the Sinai Desert, G-d says to conduct a census of the twelve tribes of Israel. Moshes counts men of draftable age (20 to 60 years); the tribe of Levi, which is counted separately and is to serve in the Sanctuary. When the people broke camp, the three Levite clans dismantled and transported the Sanctuary, and reassembled it at the center of the next encampment. They then erected their own tents around it.  Before the Sanctuary’s entranceway, to its east, were the tents of Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons. Beyond the Levite circle, the twelve tribes camped in four groups of three tribes each. To the east were Judah, Issachar and Zebulun; to the south, Reuben, Simeon and Gad; to the west, Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin; and to the north, Dan, Asher and Naphtali. This formation was kept also while traveling. Each tribe had its own nassi (prince or leader), and its own flag with its tribal color and emblem.

Mind Over Matter

Priorities In Life

Why do we have so many tasks each day? Because we have so many missions to accomplish.

But, as in any case where multiple tasks call, there must be one mission that takes priority over all others.

What is that priority? It must be education. The task of guiding young people to know what is harmful and what is beneficial—for themselves and for the world—and steering them in the right direction.

It is a priority because every moment that a young person does not know why she or he is here is another moment lost from this young person’s life. And there is no way you can return that moment.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

Moshiach Thoughts

Live A Life of Redemption

Our nation has yearned for and awaited the Redemption for nearly 2,000 years now. The anticipation, however, reached a fevered pitch in recent years, following the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory’s, announcement, in the early 1990s, that the Era of Redemption is upon us, and we must only increase in acts of goodness and kindness in order to be worthy to greet our redeemer. The Rebbe pointed to various global phenomena that are clear indicators that the process of redemption has indeed started, and asked that we prepare ourselves for Redemption by beginning to “live with Moshiach,”—living a life that is dominated by the values that will characterize the Messianic Era. One primary way this is accomplished is through studying about the Messianic Era. Studying about it makes it a reality in our lives, and allows us to live a life of redemption even in these last moments before we witness the complete and true redemption.

For more on this topic, visit

Have I Got A Story

Every Jew Counts

Once there was a small town consisting of only a few Jewish families. Between them, they had exactly ten men over the age of bar mitzvah. They were all dedicated people and they made sure that they never missed a minyan. One day, a new Jewish family moved in to town. Great joy and excitement; now they would have eleven men. But a strange thing happened. As soon as they had eleven, they could never manage a minyan!

When we know we are indispensable, we make a point of being there. Otherwise, “count me out.”

This week in the Torah reading of Bamidbar, we read of the census taken of the Jewish people. This portion is always read on the Shabbat before Shavuot, the “season of the giving of the Torah. ” One important and obvious connection is that in the Torah, too, every letter counts. One missing letter invalidates the entire scroll. Likewise, one missing Jew leaves Jewish peoplehood lacking, incomplete.

Nine of the holiest rabbis cannot make a minyan. Enter one little bar-mitzvah boy, and the minyan is complete! When we count Jews, there are no distinctions. We don’t look at religious piety or academic achievement. The rabbi and the rebel, the philanthropist and the pauper — all count for one: no more, no less.

If we count Jews because every Jew counts, then that implies a responsibility on Jewish communal leadership to ensure that no Jew is missing from the kehillah, from the greater community. It implies a responsibility to bring those Jews who are on the periphery of Jewish life inside. To make sure they feel that they belong and are welcome — even if they haven’t paid any membership fees. It also means that the individual Jew has commitments and obligations. If you’re important, don’t get lost. You are needed.

Today, we are losing a lot of Jews to ignorance. But sometimes we also lose them because we didn’t embrace them as we could have. At a time when they were receptive, we didn’t make them feel welcome. Other faiths, ideologies and cults are using “love bombs” to entice Jews to their way of life. Very often they prey on the weak and vulnerable among us. Anyone desperately seeking warmth, love and a sense of belonging will be an easy target for such groups. But there are lots of ordinary, stable people who crave these things too. Don’t we all? If the Jewish community doesn’t provide that warm welcome, we may very well find them going elsewhere.

Some years ago, we had a visiting Rabbi from Canada speaking in our shul. His talk was about the very real threat of “Jews for J.” and so-called “Hebrew-Christians” who preyed on unsuspecting Jews by using Jewish symbols and even so-called “shuls,” or Messianic Synagogues, which are really nothing more than churches in disguise. He described how these individuals make every deceitful effort to confuse ignorant Jews into believing they are going to a Jewish house of worship.

A woman in the audience then asked, “Rabbi, if I am traveling out of town and want to go to shul, how will I know if I am going to a real shul or one of these impostor synagogues?”

The Rabbi laughed and said, “When you go into these places, they bombard you. As soon as they see a new face, a dozen people will come over to welcome you and give you a seat and a book and make you feel at home. But what happens when you go into a real shul? Nobody greets you. Nobody looks at you. And the first person to say a word to you growls at you because you’re sitting in his seat!” A sad, sad joke indeed.

We need to embrace everyone who walks in through our doors. And we need to do more than just wait for people to come to shul and make them feel welcome. We need to go out and find our people wherever they may be. Most certainly, when someone shows a spark of interest — a soul seeking its source — we need to be there; as an organized community, and as individuals.

So next time you notice someone sitting at the back of the shul looking lost, or even just a new face in the crowd, try and spare a smile. You may save a soul. Every Jew really does count. Let’s count them in.

Rabbi Yossy Goldman

Food For the Soul

Are People Inherently Good or Evil?

Are people born innately good or essentially evil? Do we have a basically good nature that is corrupted by society or a basically bad nature that is kept in check by society? A study conducted by Scientific American tested people’s responses based on two mechanisms: intuition or reflection. “Intuition is automatic and effortless, leading to actions that occur without insight into the reasons behind them. Reflection, on the other hand, is all about conscious thought—identifying possible behaviors, weighing the costs and benefits, and rationally deciding on a course of action.” Based on these responses, the study suggested that people’s first and intuitive impulse was to cooperate; only upon further reflection did they decide to be more selfish. The test concluded that people are instinctively willing to give for the good of the group, even at our own personal expense.

But does this mean that we are naturally cooperative, or that it has become instinctive because cooperation is rewarded by society? Researchers at Yale University experimented on babies, who have the minimum of cultural influence. Basing their study on the fact that babies will reach for things they want or like—and will look longer at things that surprise them—their results suggested that even the youngest humans have an instinct to prefer good over evil, friendly helpful motivations over malicious ones.

But if we’re born good, why do parents have to devote major efforts to raise children to become good adults? Why does every civilization require so many laws and consequences to control human behavior? And why has so much evil been perpetuated by humanity over the centuries?

Bechukotai begins with the verse: If you walk in My statutes (Lev. 26:3). The Talmud explains that the word “if” is to be understood as a plea on the part of G d: “If only you would follow My statutes . . . ” But the word chok (“statute” or “decree”) literally means “engraved.” A rabbi once remarked: “Every Jew is a letter in the Torah. But a letter may grow somewhat faded. It is our sacred duty to mend these faded letters and make G d’s Torah whole again.”

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch objected: “No, the identity of the Jew cannot be compared to erasable ink on parchment. Every Jew is indeed a letter in G d’s Torah, but a letter engraved in stone. At times, the dust and dirt may accumulate and distort—or even completely conceal—the letter’s true form; but underneath it all, the letter remains whole. We need only sweep away the surface grime, and the letter, in all its perfection and beauty, will come to light.”

From an article by Chana Weisberg

Shabbat Shalom


This Shabbat we read from the Torah portions Behar-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25:1-27:34). It addresses the laws of the Sabbatical year: every seventh year, all work on the land should cease, and its produce becomes free for the taking for all, man and beast. Seven Sabbatical cycles are followed by a fiftieth year—the Jubilee year, on which work on the land ceases, all indentured servants are set free, and all ancestral estates in the Holy Land that have been sold revert to their original owners. Additional laws governing the sale of lands, and the prohibitions against fraud and usury are also given. G-d promises that if the people of Israel will keep His commandments, they will enjoy material prosperity and dwell securely in their homeland. But He also delivers a harsh “rebuke,” warning of the exile, persecution and other evils that will befall them if they abandon their covenant with Him. Nevertheless, “Even when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away; nor will I ever abhor them, to destroy them and to break My covenant with them; for I am the L‑rd their G‑d.”

From an article in

Mind Over Matter


The nature of a human being is to simply react, to throw back at others the medicine they mete out to you.

This is what Rava, the Babylonian Jewish sage, would advise: Ignore the urge to return bad with bad, hurt with hurt, scorn with scorn—and the heavenly court will ignore your scorning, your hurting, your acts that were less than good.

G‑d shadows man. Go beyond your nature with others and He will do the same with you.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

Moshiach Thoughts

“Even when they are in their enemies’ land, I will not abhor them nor spurn them so as to destroy them…” (Bechukotay 26:44). 

The Zohar (III:115b) interprets: During the time of the galut (exile) the Jewish People are like a bride living in a street of tanneries. Her Bridegroom would normally never enter a putrid place like that. His great love for His bride, however, makes Him imagine that her dwelling is like a perfumery with the most pleasant smells in the world.

This analogy, however, applies only to the time of the galut. At present we have reached a point of “No more galut!” We have to prepare for the chupah (wedding-canopy) of the redemption. The “garments” (conditions and actions) that may have been good enough for the “street of tanneries” are obviously altogether inappropriate for going to our wedding with our Beloved…

Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet

Have I Got A Story

Beyond Rebuke

My cholesterol is sky high, the boss is unhappy with my performance, my wife thinks our marriage is a mess and now the lousy car broke down. For G‑d’s sake, why does everything happen to me? Do I deserve this? Am I really such a terrible person?

Sound familiar? As a rabbi, I have certainly heard this and similar questions asked many times over the years. Implicit in the question is the assumption that any suffering or misfortune that befalls us must be some form of divine retribution; surely, it must be a punishment from G‑d. But if I’m such a good guy why then should I deserve such punishment? And, if on top of that, we also believe that G‑d is good, then this is really too mind-boggling for a mere mortal like me to work out.

So what if I told you that divine punishment is only one of many possible scenarios to explain your predicament? There are a great many possible explanations and interpretations for human suffering. In fact, it might not be a punishment at all. So don’t be in such a hurry to make all these assumptions.

The Torah reading of Bechukotai includes a section known as the Rebuke. It is an ominous warning of the troubles that will befall Israel should we stray from the G‑dly path. The mystics teach that even those frightening punishments are, in reality, hidden blessings that cannot be perceived at face value.

I remember hearing an interesting analogy on this theme from the well-known author Rabbi Dr A.J. Twerski. A mother takes her toddler to the doctor. The doctor prepares to give the child a vaccination by injection. The kid isn’t stupid. He sees trouble coming, so he doesn’t make it easy for the doctor. In fact, mom must hold the child down while the doctor administers the injection, and throughout, the kid is screaming and shouting. Not a minute later the child is suddenly burying his face in mom’s shoulder, desperately seeking solace in his mother’s embrace. And the question is why? Was mom not an accomplice to the crime when she held him down while the doctor attacked him? Why is this child suddenly finding comfort on mom’s shoulder? She is the enemy!

The answer is that every child knows intuitively that his mother loves him and wants only the best for her child. Even if there seems to be a momentary lapse, he knows it will be short-lived. After the fleeting test of faith, the innate and essential bond of love between mother and child is quickly re-established.

And so it is with our Father in Heaven. Sometimes we may feel angry; it seems as if he has joined forces with Satan. Why does He allow all these terrible misfortunes to befall us? And yet, we know that he really and truly does love us. After all is said and done, we are His children. Does the mother in the clinic hate her child? Is she punishing him? G‑d forbid. Does the doctor want to hurt the child? Of course not (unless he is a dentist or a physiotherapist!). So, just as a child is comforted by his mother, so is the Jew comforted by the knowledge and conviction that G‑d loves us.

To us it may remain a mystery but to G‑d there is a cosmic, eternal plan. The child doesn’t understand or appreciate an injection and neither can we fathom the divine “vaccinations” we must put up with from time to time. Nevertheless, we accept in good faith that somehow there is a reason – and even a good reason – behind all our problems. It may not be revealed to us in this world, only in the next. So we do need a fair amount of patience. Personally, I’m prepared to handle living in suspense.

In our moments of misery and days of distress, let us remember that our loving Father in Heaven is surely no less caring than the mother in the doctor’s rooms.

Rabbi Yossy Goldman