26 Av 5781 / Wednesday, August 04, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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The pain and tribulations that great people experience are the factors that paved their road to greatness. We too should thank Hashem for our moments of extreme tests...


I raised my hand, “Rabbi, I know how the Torah is true!”


The Rabbi asked “Really, please explain…” 


“Well, it’s easy just look at the life of Abraham our forefather and the fact that he did it himself, he gave himself a circumcision!!” The room went silent...  I went on to explain that only someone who is really living the truth could ever do something that painful out of love in fulfilling G-d’s will. It takes being on a very enormous spiritual level to do something like that, not many could ever reach that elevated state.


A few years later I immigrated to Israel and quickly signed up to get into the army. Part of the process to enlist involves many medical checkups. Upon completing them all, the doctors issue you what’s called a profile number. Based on this score, you know more or less what your options are as far as being a combat soldier or not. So how is this connected? Simple, did you know that the highest score that a soldier can get isn’t 100, rather it’s a 97!  Sounds strange doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it make sense that someone in top shape would score a 100? Not so in a Jewish army. The highest score one can receive is a 97, and it comes from the idea that we have been circumcised, that our bodies are no longer “whole.”


Now let’s talk Emuna..


Now in essence, who could really ever in life score a 100? In their marriage, child raising, or conduct between fellow man? Very, Very few of us. Why is this important? When a man thinks that he is a 100 he forgets to thank Hashem for every bit of success he has. This is when our problems start, but it’s all for the good! The main idea is not to get down on yourself about being imperfect, since we all can reach a score of 97 with prayer, teshuva and desire to improve. Let me explain.


Be honest, when in your own personal life did you make the most spiritual gain? When you had it all, or when you were in pain and struggling with health, money or a problem? Look at our great teachers Rabbi Shalom Arush and Rabbi Lazer Brody!!  Both endured extreme personal and emotional turmoil before rising to their station as great spiritual leaders. People they loved were killed in war along their journey. Had they both had it easy, do you think they would have ever gotten to where they are today?! Maybe, but I know that in great merit of the darkest moments of their lives they are where they are today, and most likely, they thank Hashem regularly for those moments. Despite the indescribable pain they experienced.


Now look at your life, remember when you accidently said something you shouldn’t have to your spouse and you felt the depressing aftermath? You resolved to be a better soulmate and got to work on yourself!! You read Garden of Peace, Garden of Purity and if you are a woman, Women’s Wisdom. As a result of implementing the advice in the above books, you now are enjoying peace day to day with your loved one. But it took a bit of bitterness to realize you needed to work on yourself. Had the darkness not have happened, you may still have been married, but not enjoying your marriage. In merit of you working on yourself, you now enjoy a much more loving and rewarding relationship.


So how do we implement this into our lives? Luckily we have time every week on the holy day of Shabbat שבת)) to reflect and get back on track in our connection with Hashem, known as Teshuva (תשובה)  in Hebrew. Now look at the letters of both these words, they both share the same root, of ת, ש,  and ב. This teaches us that there is a connection between the two words of rest and coming back to Hashem.


So this year, as we have now passed all the High Holidays, we have to gather all of our spiritual gains and maintain them into the cold winter that is approaching. Keep asking yourself, “How can I get stronger in prayer, in Emuna, in watching my speech, in loving Hashem.” If you are honest, Hashem will definitely open up to your prayers.


Always remember Hashem doesn’t expect perfection, He expects us to make the effort in living our Emuna. This year let’s not lie to ourselves into thinking that we are okay and are holding at a 100. Rather let’s aim for a spiritual goal of reaching to a 97, with our heart’s desire remaining firm at 100 all year long.  With such desire we will merit renewal in our Judaism and cling to The Blessed Creator.

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