Beshalach - Wanted: Stonewashed Rugged Faith

by Rebbetzin Malkah

When the Baal Shem Tov was young, he lived in the mountains of southern Russia. From time to time he would walk to the top of a mountain, and lose himself in thought. Lost to the world, lost to himself, but found to G-d.Deep in this lostness and this foundness, he once began to walk where there was no ground to walk on. As he put his foot down, he was stepping into an abyss.
But before he could hurtle downward, a nearby mountain moved, and closed the gap. The Baal Shem, all unknowing, continued on firm ground:  lost to the world, lost to himself, but found to G-d. -- Chassidic tale

 

Stonewashing is a process in the textile industry that is used to give a new denim cloth garment a worn-out appearance. This process also helps to increase the softness and flexibility of otherwise stiff and rigid fabrics such as denim.  This process entails what the name implies: washing the denim with large stones to roughen up and soften the cloth. As stones represent an obstacle or hardship, the denim is likened to B'nei Yisrael's fabric of faith.  The challenges that Hashem places before B'nei Yisrael as they travel through the wilderness are meant to tenderize and increase their faith.  Moshe, Mashiach Yeshua and the Baal Shem Tov all prove to us that through this stonewashing comes a small seed of faith that can rise above the evil, chaos and doubt that prevail in our midst. Not only can we move mountains, but we can be a conduit of faith and possibility to those around us, even in the most impossible of circumstances.

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Vayeitzei - Where Eternity Kisses Earth

by Rebbetzin Malkah

There is an aggadah (legend) in the Midrash that the Roman Emperor Hadrian asked how man would be revived in the World to Come;  Rabbi Joshua Ben Hananiah replied that it would be "From Luz, in the back-bone." "Prove this to me," said Hadrian. Then the Rabbi took Luz, a small bone of the spine, and immersed it in water, but it was not softened; he put it into the fire, but it was not consumed; he put it into a mill, but it could not be pounded; he placed it upon an anvil and struck it with a hammer, but the anvil split and the hammer was broken. (Ecclesiastes Rabbah xii / Genesis Rabbahxviii).

"Yaacov arose early in the morning and took the stone that he place around his head and set it up as a  pillar; and he poured oil on its top.  And he named that place Beth-el; however Luz was the city's name originally."  Bereishis 28:18-19

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Toldot - The First Drive-Through

by Rebbetzin Malkah

It looks something like this:  Esav pulls up to Yaacov's tent exhausted. With reckless ambition, he orders a bowl of lentil stew super-sized, pays with his birthright, and drives off gastronomically satisfied.  And there you have it:  the first drive-through in history.  Sound familiar?  While we have Esav to thank for this modern-day invention, more importantly his example is an admonition in preserving our own birthrights : our generations and our destinies.  For in casting off his birthright so frivolously, he forfeited not only generational blessing and achievement, but also the chance to merit the world to come.  If we can recognize the gravity of preserving and emboldening our present and future toldot (generations) by the very manner in which we feed our lives, not only will our very lives and destinies be impacted, but we will move the Malchut Shamayim (Kingdom of Heaven) ever closer.

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Balak - A Streetcar Named Desire

torah balak5768By Rebbetzin Malkah

Each one of us has one.  It doesn't matter how great or small we may be - we each possess some vehicle upon which we transport our desires in order to see their fruition.    This week's parasha illuminates so much more than a talking donkey that transports Balaam and his wicked desires.  The rabbis contend that this story of Balaam, as an allegory or prophetic vision, is its own book.  Slated almost as a commercial break in the middle of Bamidbar, parasha Balak offers us deep insight into the human psyche and the inner workings of an unhealthy neshama.  Taking a break from the troubles of Yisrael, it lays out the tragedy of a soul gone awry and shows us the power of speech, blessing and desire.

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Broader Shoulders

by Rebbetzin Malkah

The Hebrew word for adaptable is sagil.

How can we be adaptable? What is the way toward accepting change, wanted or unwanted, and new ideas, or toward freshening up our daily walk?

Adaptability is a state of mind. In order to be adaptable, we have to be open to change. We have to realize that only Hashem is unchanging. We are creatures of continuous growth and learning. When we accept that we are not at the end of the road, we might be up for stopping off on the side of the road to experience new growth and opportunities. Perhaps you are currently in the midst of change and it was not of your own choice; you understand the resistance you are putting forth and the frustration you are feeling. If you need help with adapting to change and don't know how, practice this meditation below to open up your neshama (soul).

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Pinchas - Seize A Lifetime, Reach for the Infinite

by Rebbetzin Malkah

We all have met one.  One who is crying out in the wilderness, trying to get our attention to change our ways and show us that everything we are doing is totally wrong.  We usually listen the first time, and then let their words take flight on the wind.  Why?  Their words eat at our very core and draw lines of division between us and "them."  Who are these voices?  They are the zealots of every religious institution - the ones who seek to get to the heart of the very evil in their midst (which is all of us).

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Parashat Bo - This Month Shall Be Unto You...

Boby Rebbetzin Malkah

In the world in which we live today, grandeur and wealth continue to be a means to power and influence. Despite this trend throughout history, it is important for us to recall a time when one person, and then a nation, made a remarkable transformation in a time akin to today. We see Moshe unravel the greatest illusion and break through the arrogance of a leader whose kingdom was built on the sand. We also see our people receive the first mitzvah, the key for a return journey, which would not only bring redemption, but lead them on the path back to Gan Eden.

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