The Heart Explodes


The Heart Explodes

I dread going to my computer after Shabbat ends in order to check the news reports. I cannot avoid it however, for I have a “need to know” the goings on of our people in our ancient, holy homeland. I go to my major news source and once again MY HEART EXPLODES as an inner, expansive force of psychic pain and ancestral grief burst forth from the confines of my mind and heart space: More terror victims to pray for, more hearts unjustly broken and bodies injured and maimed. In the midst of life, suffering and death explode upon our world here in Israel. Life changes in an instant. Yes, life changes fast for those caught in the cross fire of terrorists bent on killing and maiming Jews in the Land of Israel—our beloved homeland.

One cannot minimize the damage done, nor the feelings of apprehension rippling through the currents of daily life in the land. The very rhythms of our lives have been impacted as our daily routines have become opportunities for the enemies to strike. The families of the victims have little time to adjust to the new reality and deal with the charged emotions and upheaval playing out in their lives. And yet they must go on.

In a book titled, “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion, she explains the gamut of emotions she felt and experienced upon the death of her beloved husband.  She explains the difference between losing elderly parents and losing a spouse or child or someone in their prime. She shares a letter from a priest who intuited what she felt when her parents died. “The death of a parent, he wrote, despite our understanding of the inevitability of  death as they age, dislodges things deep in us, despite our age and sets off reactions and feelings we had thought gone to ground long ago.” And yet, despite the mourning we go through, for most of us, our parents have been removed from the ongoing dailiness of our lives. Therefore, in spite of our mourning, we still get up in the morning and live our lives. We are in a different head space and our hearts are heavy but life goes on.

But losing a spouse or child or someone extremely close to us both physically and emotionally is a grief far different, for it has no distance. It is up close and personal in an intimate way. She said, “The grief comes in waves and sudden apprehensions that weakens the knees and blinds the eye and obliterates the dailiness of life. There is shock and bewilderment that throws one off balance. There is a raw feeling of being wild with pain as the mind becomes clouded with grief and the senses become dulled from the pain.”

I believe this is what Jews are experiencing in Israel where death and destruction is up close and personal. Each Jew feels the magnitude intensely because we are one people….one family and our connection is profound

Fortunately as Jews, it is our biblical teachings and beliefs that help us overcome the issues of uncertainty and powerlessness and enables us to move beyond a tragedy that is inexplicable. We draw upon our faith in G-d, our mission and life purpose and the future in which we strongly believe. And fortunately, we draw upon the strength, resolve and compassion of our brethren in the land.

Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf, is quoted in an article on Arutz Sheva, saying “The battle for Eretz Yisrael is the outer manifestation of the battle between truth and falsehood. The very presence of the enemy in our midst raging at us and warring with us informs us that redemption is just around the corner.”  This too gives us solace as we deeply understand the value of living here in spite of the challenges and hardships.

What can we do is always the question that each of us must answer.  I believe each of us must become part of an active front on behalf of the Jewish nation and in particular on behalf of the Jews in Eretz Yisrael, who are on the front lines of the battlefield. Each Jew must acquire an unwavering resolve and commitment to provide the necessary help to the victims and to increase their giving to Israel. Additionally we must work personally to increase our faith and trust in G-d.  We must become an advocate in every possible way for the Jews in Israel and the Land of Israel.

Most importantly, we must not allow ourselves to become deadened emotionally to the traumas being perpetrated in the holy Land. Nor should we allow ourselves to become despondent. Rav Shlomo Carlebach OBM reminds us “ERETZ YISRAEL is the holiest place in the universe and when we are going through difficult tests, if we hold onto our Faith and Trust in G-d, we can open extraordinary gates in heaven for everyone, thereby helping others to go through their own challenges in an easier way.”

May G-d guide and protect each Jew wherever they are in the world but especially in Eretz Yisrael. May He uplift and comfort the injured and the families of the injured and bring them complete healing. May He bring emotional relief to the families of the deceased and comfort them. May these pure offerings of holy souls bring the long awaited Moshiach immediately and without delay.

With enormous Blessings of love and light to each of you, Ariella Bracha


Aliyah and Connecting to the Specialness of Eretz Yisrael

lech lecha2Aliyah and Connecting to the Specialness of Eretz Yisrael

Lech Lecha

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

Making Aliyah is, in my opinion, the only means by which to constantly connect to the specialness of Eretz Yisrael. It affords you the greatest opportunity to create a profound shift in awareness that can transform your consciousness and allow you to operate on a new spiritual frequency. It enables a leap to an entirely new level of being that is intrinsically connected to living in the Holy land.

Rabbi Moshe Lichtman’s dynamic book, “Eretz Yisrael in the Parasha” has become my new favorite Shabbat book because it connects the land of Israel with the weekly Torah portion. In doing so, it creates a new and awe inspiring appreciation for living in the Land G-d chose for His beloved nation and connects the reader to the extraordinary specialness of living in Eretz Yisrael.

The Rav points out in parasha Beresheit that at the very beginning of creation G-d designated Eretz Yisrael as a special land, even before the Jewish people came on the scene of history.

The Rav ascertains in Parasha Noach that Chazal states that rain did not fall in Eretz Yisrael but rolled in from the other lands. He quotes the Ba’al HaTanya (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi) saying, “G-d’s main purpose in bringing the flood was to purify the world from its corruption and therefore the flood served as a mikveh of sorts. Eretz Yisrael was spared the downpour of fiery rain because it is intrinsically pure and holy and virtually impossible to defile or corrupt.” This statement speaks volumes as to why a Jew should reside in the Holy Land especially if one is striving to become holy.

As we arrive at parasha Lech Lecha, and Rabbi Lichtman continues observing the significance of the land and reminds us that the main theme of the parasha is entirely related to Eretz Yisrael. Rav Lichtman states, “Rav Meir Yechiel of Ostrovtza points out that HaShem’s command to Avraham…… Go forth from your land to the land I will show you (12.1) constitutes the first mitzvah ever given to a Jew! Thus, the first thing G-d ever said to Avraham, the first Jew was, “Leave your birthplace and immigrate to MY SPECIAL LAND.” It is interesting to note there was no introduction from G-d, no burning bush, just “Lech Lecha.” Rav Lichtman poses the question: why did G-d chose to begin Judaism with “GO FORTH TO THE LAND?”

Noted author of the famous book, The Kuzari, Yehuda HaLevi provides a beautiful and profound answer: “You find that after Avraham, the most exceptional person of his time, climbed the ladder of perfection and became eligible to cling to G-dliness, he was transferred from his land to ERETZ YISRAEL, the only place he could reach absolute perfection.”

The Rav continues: “in other words, although Avraham had attained high levels of perfection outside the Land, G-d knew that he would be able to fulfill his destiny and attain true perfection ONLY in Eretz Yisrael!”

He then explains the significance of going straight to the Holy Land. Avraham had to leave the defiled lands of exile and enter his natural habitat, where he could thrive and grow and produce offspring that could do the same in spite of the fact that he was doing some very important things in chutz l’aretz. G-d absolutely knew he could achieve greater accomplishments in eretz HaKodesh, the land set aside for the Jewish nation.

Rav Lichtman summarizes stating that “no matter how high one can climb on the ladder of spiritual perfection in Chutz L’aretz, one can climb higher in G-ds Chosen Land.” He says, “Yes, the first Divine command ever given to a Jew was Lech Lecha because Eretz Yisrael is the prerequisite for all Judaism.”

I would highly recommend this book for the enhancement of your Shabbat Torah and especially if you are a Lover of Zion. You can purchase it at Israel 365 store.

In the merit of Lech Lecha and all its deeper meanings that we hold sacred, may we receive G-dly protection for us and all of Klal Yisrael especially in G-ds beloved holy Land. May we never take for granted the enormous privilege of living in Eretz Yisrael and all that it has to offer, as we perceive so profoundly from this Torah portion.

Shabbat Shalom, Ariella Bracha

Rejecting the Land of Israel by HaRav Kook

Rav Kook Torah

Rejecting the Land of Israel

“And [the spies] began to speak badly about the land that they had explored.” (Num. 13:32)

A dispirited discussion took place at Beit HaRav, Rav Kook’s house in Jerusalem, not long after the end of World War II. The Chief Rabbi had passed away ten years earlier; now it was his son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook, who sat at the head of the table.

One participant at the Sabbath table had brought up a disturbing topic: the phenomenon of visitors touring Eretz Yisrael and then criticizing the country after returning to their homes. These visitors complain about everything: the heat, the poverty, the backwardness, the political situation — and discourage other Jews from moving here, he lamented.

Rav Tzvi Yehudah responded by telling over the following parable, one he had heard in the name of Rabbi Samuel Mohilever, the rabbi of Bialystok.

The Failed Match

There was once a wealthy man who sought the hand of a certain young lady. She was the most beautiful girl in town, and was blessed with many talents and a truly refined character. Her family was not well-off, so they were eager about a possible match with the prosperous fellow.

The young woman, however, was not interested in the match. Rich or not, the prospective suitor was known to be coarse and ill-mannered. She refused to meet with him.

The father asked her to at least meet with the young man in their home, so as not to embarrass him. After all, one meeting doesn’t obligate you to marry him! To please her father, the young woman agreed.

The following Sabbath afternoon, the fellow arrived at the house as arranged, and was warmly received by the father. Shortly afterwards, his daughter made her entrance. But her hair was uncombed, and she wore a faded, crumpled dress and shabby house slippers. Appalled at her disheveled appearance, it did not take long before the young man excused himself and made a hurried exit.

What everyone says about this girl — it’s not true, exclaimed the astonished young man to his friends. She’s hideous!

Rav Tzvi Yehudah stopped briefly, surveying the guests seated around the table.Superficially, it would appear that the brash young fellow had rejected the young woman. But in fact, it was she who had rejected him.

The same is true regarding the Land of Israel, the rabbi explained. Eretz Yisrael is a special land, only ready to accept those who are receptive to its unique spiritual qualities. The Land does not reveal its inner beauty to all who visit. Not everyone is worthy to perceive its special holiness.

It may appear as if the dissatisfied visitors are the ones who reject the Land of Israel, he concluded. But in fact, it is the Land that rejects them!

A thoughtful silence pervaded the room. Those present were stunned by the parable and the rabbi’s impassioned delivery. Then one of the guests observed, Reb Tzvi Yehudah, your words are suitable for a son of your eminent father, may his memory be a blessing!

Seeing the Goodness of Jerusalem

Rav Tzvi Yehudah’s response was indeed appropriate for Rav Kook’s son. When visitors from outside the country would approach the Chief Rabbi for a blessing, Rav Kook would quote from the Book of Psalms, “May God bless you from Zion” (128:5).

Then he would ask: What exactly is this blessing from Zion? In fact, the content of the blessing is described in the continuation of the verse: “May you see the goodness of Jerusalem.

The rabbi would explain: The verse does not say that one should merit seeing Jerusalem; but that one should merit seeing ‘the goodness of Jerusalem.’ Many people visit Jerusalem. But how many of them merit seeing the inner goodness hidden in the holy city?

And that, he concluded, is God’s special blessing from Zion.

(Stories from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Malachim Kivnei Adam by Simcha Raz, pp. 227-278, 230)