Chayei Sarah 5770
Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18 )
GOOD MORNING! This week I wish to share with you some thoughts about Spirituality. Spirituality is feeling the presence of the Almighty. Feeling this connection to the Almighty is the greatest pleasure a person can know. It is the pleasure we feel when seeing a magnificent sunset, looking from a mountaintop over the beauty of the Almighty's creation -or seeing your newborn baby for the first time.
How does one develop spirituality? First, learn Torah. How many times have you heard people say, "I just love John Grisham ... or Hemingway ... or Dickens"? But they never met those authors! However, they read their books and intuitively love the author for his writings. Ergo ... read the Torah and love the Almighty!
Also, by reading the Torah, one gains wisdom for life and knowledge of how to make the most of his life. The word "Torah" means "Instructions." "Toras Chaim" means instructions for life - the Torah is the Almighty's instruction book for maximizing your life!
Secondly, take pleasure in the Almighty's creation - the beautiful mountains, lakes, rivers, forest, plains, glaciers, oceans, the ecosystems... Love the creation and you love the Creator! Study the intricacies of the creation - the ecosystems or the systems within a living organism for an even deeper appreciation and love.
Thirdly, do the Almighty's commandments (mitzvot). Each commandment is a reminder of your connection to the Almighty and a means to help perfect your soul. There are many mitzvot that a person might do instinctively -giving charity, helping a widow or an orphan, assisting someone in need. If one focuses on doing the deed because the Almighty commanded us, it raises the deed to an even higher level of spirituality. One is not doing a kindness just because it makes him feel good, but because he understands that this is the Almighty's will to perfect him and the world. Why miss an opportunity for additional pleasure and spirituality?
As mentioned, any time there is a mitzvah, commandment, to be performed, it is actually an opportunity to connect with the Almighty. Unfortunately, oftentimes people do mitzvot out of habit. One needs to understand the mitzvah, and then to concentrate on doing the mitzvah as a commandment, to reap maximum benefits!
For example, putting up a mezuzah (the Shema written by a scribe on parchment which is rolled up and affixed usually in a mezuzah case on the right hand doorpost as one enters the room. For details, see To Be a Jew by Rabbi Haim Donin available at your local Jewish bookstore, at http://www.JudaicaEnterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242). One can put it up knowing nothing about the mezuzah and perhaps the only benefit is knowing that s/he did a mitzvah. (I remember helping a visitor to Jerusalem who wanted to buy Mezuzah cases for his doors. I asked if he needed to also buy the scrolls to put inside. He replied, "Oh, No! We're not that religious!" The case is there just to protect the scroll. There is no mitzvah to put up just a case!) The more you know about anything, the more meaningful it will be!
People often make the mistake of saying "I am not religious" when they mean to say "I am not fully observant." Then again, even the most Torah committed Jew is not fully observant - we aspire to be fully observant of the Torah, but we don't always succeed. We are all somewhere on the path, hopefully ascending!
One of my favorite books is My Father, My King: Connecting with the Creator by my good friend, prolific author (over 20 books), energetic speaker, personal counselor, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (available at your local Jewish bookstore, at http://www.JudaicaEnterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242). From time to time, nearly everyone talks to God, but what would God answer you if He would answer in words rather than just in actions? Reb Zelig beautifully writes awe-inspiring responses of how God would answer you, based on Torah sources. Just reading this book infuses me with a sense of spirituality!
Based on his book, Reb Zelig has developed the following list of ways to increase your spirituality and enjoyment in life. You might want to make a copy of the list to review daily; it could change the whole tenor of your day!
For more on "Spirituality" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
Sarah dies at the age of 127. Avraham purchases a burial place for her in Hebron in the cave of Ma'arat HaMachpela. Avraham sends his servant, Eliezer, back to the "old country," his birthplace Charan, to find a wife for Yitzhak (Isaac). Eliezer makes what appear to be very strange conditions for the matrimonial candidate to fulfill in order to qualify for Yitzhak. Rivka (Rebecca) unknowingly meets the conditions. Eliezer succeeds in getting familial approval, though they were not too keen about Rivka leaving her native land.
Avraham marries Keturah and fathers six more sons. He sends them east (with the secrets of mysticism) before he dies at 175. Yitzhak and Ishmael bury Avraham near Sarah in the Ma'arat HaMachpela, the cave Avraham purchased in Hebron to bury Sarah. The portion ends with the listing of Ishmael's 12 sons and Ishmael dying at age 137.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And (Avraham) spoke to Efron in the ears of the people of the land, saying, 'If you will only listen to me, I want to give the money for the land; take it from me and I will bury my dead there.' "
Rashi tells us that Avraham said to Efron, "The money is completely ready for you. I wish that I had already given it to you!" Why was Avraham so anxious to give the money to Efron?
The Torah contrasts Avraham's attitude towards money with Efron's. Efron had a strong desire for money and was very exacting to get a high price for his land even though he spoke of his generosity. Avraham, on the other hand, was eager to pay his debt before it was actually due. He did not want to keep money that was not his even for a very short while. Therefore, he said, "I wish I had already given it."
There are some people who keep procrastinating when it comes to paying back debts or paying for an item they have bought They are basically honest and would never think of cheating anyone. However, they find it extremely difficult to part with their money. Therefore, they keep pushing off returning money that is due to others. Learn from Avraham to feel pleasure and joy of fulfilling the mitzvah of paying off a debt!
CANDLE LIGHTING - November 13
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New York 4:22 - Singapore 6:33 - Toronto 4:37
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
In life you have your choice:
you can do it the right way
or the easy way.
With Deep Appreciation
and Thanks to
Dr. Stuart & Elizabeth Schnider
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
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