Food For the Soul
G-d helps those who help themselves
The Parsha Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1–25:18) tells of Isaac taking Rebecca as his wife. “And Isaac brought her to the tent of Sarah his mother.” Rashi, quoting the Midrash, explains this to mean more than the obvious. When she entered the tent, it was as if she was Sarah, Isaac’s mother. Because Sarah was of such saintly character, she was granted three special miracles. Her Shabbat candles burned the entire week, her dough was particularly blessed, and a heavenly cloud attached itself to her tent. When Sarah died, these blessings disappeared. When Rebecca arrived on the scene, they resumed immediately. In fact, this was a clear sign to Isaac that Rebecca was indeed his soul mate and that the shidduch was made in Heaven.
Each of those three miracles, however, required some form of human input first. A candle and fire had to be found, the dough had to be prepared and a tent had to be pitched before G‑d would intervene and make those miracles happen. In other words, He does help us but we must help ourselves first.
It’s a little like the fellow who would make a fervent prayer to G‑d every week that he win the lottery. After many months and no jackpot in sight, he lost his faith and patience. In anguished disappointment, he vented his frustration with the Almighty. “Oh, G‑d! For months I’ve been praying to you. Why haven’t you helped me win the lottery all this time?” Whereupon a heavenly voice was heard saying, “Because you haven’t bought a ticket, dummy!”
I wish it were that simple to win lotteries. But the fact is that it is the same in all our endeavors. G‑d helps those who help themselves. May we all do our part. Please G‑d, He will do His.
From an article by Rabbi Yossy Goldma
This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevarchim (“the Shabbat that blesses” the new month): a special prayer is recited blessing the Rosh Chodesh (“Head of the Month”) of the upcoming month of Kislev, which falls on Tuesday of next week.
Prior to the blessing, we announce the precise time of the molad, the “birth” of the new moon. (See molad times on Chabad.org) It is a Chabad custom to recite the entire book of Psalms before morning prayers, and to conduct farbrengens (chassidic gatherings) in the course of the Shabbat.
Mind Over Matter
A higher life
Sarah had two sets of years to her life, because she merited to higher life as well. Why Sarah more than anyone else? Because she descended to Egypt and rose back up.—Zohar
You came to this life to achieve higher life. Yet whatever spiritual heights you could achieve in this life cannot compare to the heights of your soul before it was squeezed into the limitations of a body. Before it descended to Egypt.
That is, until you do what was put in front of you to do, until you work with this Egypt into which you have been sent, holding tight to your integrity, filling each act with meaning, redeeming the jewels that were lost among the ashes.
Then you will rise higher than anything your soul could achieve. Even while living in this world, you will have higher life.
By Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Not one moment longer than necessary!
When Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, was sent to bring Rivkah to Issac for marriage the journey should have taken 17 days. Miraculously, it took only one day! Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet wrote: “There is an obvious moral relevant to us, in context of the principle that “The events of the ancestors are an indication for their descendants.” In the case of Rivkah [who was likened to a rose] there was a shortening of the journey to avoid that she remain even one extra moment among the “thorns”, in the house of her wicked father and brother. The same applies to us. We are not to become despondent over the darkness of the galut [exile]: the Almighty will surely hasten the redemption to prevent our being in galut even one moment longer than necessary!
Have I Got A Story
“What type of man do I want to marry?” the young woman repeated the question that had been asked of her.
“Well, I want someone kind. And smart. But not the too-kind type that lets himself be walked on. And not the too-smart type that lets it get to his head. Someone who isn’t too much into his books: someone sociable. A leader, the life of a party — but not someone who aggravates with his presence. I’d like him to be handsome, but not haughty. I’d like…”
She looked at the Rebbe, seated behind his desk. His smile was broad and his eyes twinkled.
“It sounds like you want to marry more than one person.”
I’ve told this story — to myself and to whoever wants to listen — dozens of times. I don’t know who the lady was.
But this next story I know happened to Chana Sharfstein:
Chana (then Zuber) was a young woman in Boston in the early fifties. Her father had brought the family there from Stockholm. Not long afterwards he was gruesomely murdered while walking home from shul on a Friday night. Back then, such things shocked New England.
Chana will tell you that after she lost her father the Rebbe adopted her. Six months after her father’s murder, she too, stood before the Rebbe’s desk. Why haven’t you married yet? the Rebbe wanted to know.
I haven’t met the right one.
What will the right one look like?
A charismatic Prince Charming stepped out of Chana’s imagination and into their conversation.
The Rebbe laughed fully.
“You’ve read too many novels,” the Rebbe said, still laughing but growing more serious. “Novels are not real life: they’re fictions. They’re full of romance and infatuation. Infatuation is not real. Infatuation is not love.
“Love is life,” the Rebbe continued. “It grows through small acts of two people living together. With time they cannot imagine life without each other.”
Infatuation you fall into. Love you build. And love-–the barometer of a successful marriage-–is dependant 20% on the person you marry and 80% on the way you marry them every day.
“And they shall build a home in Israel,” the Rebbe said in his blessing he sent Chaya and me for our wedding day. A home and a house is not the same thing. They say nothing stresses a marriage like building a house.
May we all be blessed to build a home-–the newlyweds and the jubilee-plus anniversarians. Built with small acts. Bit by bit. With time.
By Rabbi Shimon Posner