Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim – Associate Roah Yeshiva – PTI – Passaic Torah Institute – Parsha Chaya Sara – Recognizing Hashem’s Kindness

Six years ago, on the 25th of Cheshvan (November 18), two Arab terrorists walked into the Bnei Torah shul in Har Nof, Yerushalayim, and attacked the people davening Shacharis. Five Jews were brutally massacred, as well as a Druze police officer who tried stopping the terrorists. This year, Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah coincides with the yahrzeit of these kedoshim (martyrs.) This time period covered by Parshas Vayera and Parshas Chayei Sarah also marks the yahrzeits of other troubling losses. Last Shabbos was the yahrzeit of the 11 Jews massacred inside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. The 16th of Cheshvan was the anniversary of Kristallnacht, which started the violent aggression of the Nazis killing and deporting Jews across Europe.

Living with loss is very challenging. Parshas Chayei Sarah opens with the death of Sarah Imeinu. According to the simple interpretation of Rashi, Sarah passed away when she heard that Avraham took Yitzchak to offer him as a sacrifice to Hashem. The shock was too much for her system, and her neshama left before she could hear the positive end of the story.

Akeidas Yitzchak is considered by many commentators as the last and most challenging of the ten tests of Avraham. Clearly, this was a test for both Avraham and Yitzchak—one would lose his son, and one would give up his life. But Avraham’s test would not just be the fact of his son’s death. Yitzchak was the son of his old age; there would be no other. Further, Yitzchak was designated to ensure the continuity of everything Avraham had built up in his life. Without Yitzchak, there would seemingly be no klal Yisrael. It would all be over. This test, this sacrifice, was of epic proportions.

In this last century—even in this last decade—we have seen multiple akeidos (sacrifices). So many Jews were murdered just for being Jewish.

Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch says these terrible tragedies are a challenge to our emunah and bitachon—our trust and reliance in Hashem. Hashem always has a plan. He decides who shall live and who shall die. Hatzur tamim pa’olo—Hashem’s actions are perfect (Ha’azinu 32:4). All those affected by a tragic test are also determined by Hashem. For reasons beyond our understanding, those affected needed those tests.

David Hamelech said, “… lehagid baboker chasdecha v’emunascha baleilos”—tell about Your (Hashem’s) kindness during the day and our reliance (emunah) in You (Hashem) at night (Tehillim 92:3). Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato explains that “daytime” is when there is light and clarity; we can see the kindness of Hashem. “Night” is when it’s dark and we cannot see Hashem’s kindness clearly. That’s when we need emunah. That’s when we are called to trust in Hashem.

The pasuk first mentions telling about Hashem’s kindness during times of clarity; afterward, it mentions having emunah during the dark times. I believe David Hamelech is teaching us how to build, develop and strengthen our emunah. Emunah at night only comes after we have the clarity of day. A clear observation of Hashem’s kindness is a necessary building block for our emunah.

That’s our tes: noticing in broad daylight all the kindnesses Hashem bestows upon us. All things big and small come from Hashem—life, health, children and even the unexpected parking spot close to the store. Be it a tax refund or a break from morning traffic, all are a gift. We need to take notice, give thanks and share with others our joy in receiving Hashem’s gifts. Recognizing and sharing news of the kindnesses of Hashem with others will give us the strong emunah at dark times, when it’s harder to see Hashem’s kindness. The emunah that we have through the dark night will in turn give us the merit to witness the next morning, when we will be able to see clearly that all that happened was for the good. We will have developed the confidence that Hashem loves us and is only interested in what is truly good and beneficial for us.

May Hashem elevate all those precious neshamos who were killed al kiddush Hashem and may we continue to witness the morning, when we can see the infinite kindness of Hashem throughout time.


Aleeza Ben Shalom – Four Ways To Create A Strong Relationship

Finding someone wonderful to spend time with is a huge blessing. Here are four core things you need to do to build a meaningful and happy relationship.

Appreciate your partner. People often think they appreciate their partner and are surprised to discover that their partner doesn’t feel appreciated. It’s one thing to appreciate your partner, and it’s an entirely different skill to show that appreciation, through words and actions, in a way that truly registers. A generic comment of appreciation like, “Thanks so much,” or “That was great,” probably won’t hit the spot. But if you can articulate what you’re grateful for, your words will go a lot further. Show appreciation by being specific: “Thank you, Joe, for choosing a great restaurant. I really enjoyed the meal – and your company even more so!”

When you are tuned in to what is meaningful to your partner, s/he will feel loved, understood, and appreciated. An added bonus is that your partner is likely to start showing you appreciation as well.

Don’t be artificial, just be you. Have you ever met someone and then somewhere along the way they changed? You may wonder what happened to them and who they really are. Or have you ever put on airs or pretend to be something that you’re not just because you thought someone else would want that? Instead of simply being yourself, sometimes you’re acting like someone you’re not. Why do we do that?

Sometimes it’s because we are afraid that who we are won’t be what someone else wants. However, what someone should want is the genuine you. We all want someone to like the real us. That’s crucial to forging an authentic connection and relationship.

If you pretend to be someone or something else, your date won’t know the real you. They may be drawn to who you’re pretending to be, but is that ultimately what you want? A phony relationship means no relationship.

The best advice is don’t be artificial – just be yourself. The person who is meant for you will love and appreciate you. Anyone who doesn’t like you is obviously not for you. And remember, being yourself includes being your best self, and that’s not being artificial at all!

Pay attention, notice what bothers someone. Have you ever been in a relationship and felt like someone was doing something purposely to bother you? It’s more likely that what they were doing was a nervous habit rather an attempt to intentionally bother you. Or maybe you were in a relationship where you felt like the other person didn’t care enough about you because they wouldn’t stop doing the thing that bothered you even after you asked them to stop. Why can’t someone just stop the offending behavior after you tell them the first time?

Pay attention to what bothers your partner and stop the offending action. Sometimes someone will tell you in a straightforward way that something bothers them. Other people you date may expect you to just know. Either way, start to pay more attention to verbal and nonverbal cues. Paying better attention is key to building and maintaining a loving and caring relationship.

Kindness is everything. Develop the habit of being kind. Thinking positively about your partner may make you feel good, but it doesn’t show him or her how you feel. Use kindness to show your partner how you feel about them. You can use any method you prefer. If you’re a writer send them a note. If you enjoy buying small tokens or gifts, go shopping for them. Remember to be thinking of them as you’re doing the act. Be sure you’re doing the kindness for them and not for yourself. Random or little acts of kindness will build your connection and help you solidify your relationship.

May your relationship grow stronger and be built on a foundation of connection and joy.

Originally published on Aish.com