Monthly Archives: July 2008

Sunday’s Spark of Mussar

Rav Simcha Zissel Ziv, The Alter of Kelm

“Avohom raised his eyes.” (Genesis 22). The Torah emphasizes that even the raising of eyes should be the result of thought and intent.

From Sparks of Mussar by R Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik

As an aside, please see this story about R Eliyahu Lopian:
While waiting for a bus in Yerushalyim with one of his talmidim, Rav Lopian was learning. At some point he picked his head out of the sefer he had and looked up to see if the bus was coming. Right after he did this, he turned to his student and said something like, “Had I been in Kelm and did this, I would have gotten an hour mussar shmooze.”

The idea being two fold:
a) Looking to see if the bus was coming doesn’t make the bus come any faster
b) It’s a bus. Is a bus so important that you are willing to give up even a second of your seder in learning. Who is in control? You or the bus?

Where Hashem’s Shechinah resides

During an Avos U’banim (father and son) learning program on Shabbos I had a discussion with my son (entering 3rd grade) and one of his friends (entering 5th grade) about behavior and kavod (honor) that we need to have while in a shul or beis midresh.

I quoted the Gemora in Megillah 29a that states the since the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash (Holy Temple) Hashem’s Shechinah (Presense) which use to reside in the the Beis HaMikdash, now on a certain level resides in a beis haknesses (shul) and beis hamidrash (study hall).

My son’s friend piped up, “I thought that Hashem is everywhere?”
My son then quickly quoted the famous Uncle Moishy lines, “Hashem is here, Hashem is there…Hashem is truly everywhere.”

They brought up a good point. I submitted to the following analogy to hopefully explain this concept:

We know that the sun give us light all over the section of the Earth that it shines upon. However if you were to take a magnifying glass and put a leave under it, with some careful focusing you can focus part of the sun’s light and burn a leaf (this was a favorite activity of mine when I was younger). By doing this we are not taking away any of the light that’s being shined by the sun. So to, as I explained to my son and his friend, when we say that Hashem’s Shechinah resides in both shuls and batei midrashim, it doesn’t mean that Hashem is only in these places and not everywhere else. The Shechina itself is only being re-focused in certain locations. That focusing of doesn’t take away from Hashem being everywhere.

The power of Ratzon…

… or the great escape.

Friday morning my wife and I woke up to our 21 month old uber-daughter yelling, “Out! Out!”. We then heard a thump, some crying and a door open. I got out of bed and when into the hallway to find our daughter out and about.
I found our two older children playing and asked them, “Did you take your sister out of the crib?”
They both answered in the negative.

I looked at our toddler and said, “Did (insert name of brother here) take you out of the crib?”

She said, “No.”

“Did (insert name of sister here) take you out of the crib?”

Again, “No.”

“Who took you out of the crib?”

She looked at me, raised her right hand up in the air, as if she was in a classroom, and answered, “Me.”

Rav Dessler teaches that ratzon, desire, is the root of all action and that Hashem will help fullfill ones’ ratzon. He gives the example of a a thief who wants to steal something will, with effort, acquire the desired object. Of course, our desire, as Rav Dessler write in Michtav M’ Eliyahu, to grow in closenss to Hashem or work on Middos perfection will also be assisted by Hashem.

In this case, my daughter simply wanted out of her crib. My wife’s desire, latter that morning was for me to lower the mattress in the crib. No more suprise escapes…for now!

Tinok ben Aviva home this past Shabbos

Received via email…

“Chasdei Hashem Yisbarach. With endless gratitude to HaKB”H for His endless rachamim, we would like to inform all of you chashuv mispallelim that Tinok ben Aviva has, after close to six months post birth, finally arrived at his home in the heart of Sha’arei Chessed on Erev Shabbos Kodesh, parshas Chukas.”

Around the Shabbos Table-from the Salant Foundation

From the Salant Foundation’s email list:

As the People of Israel traveled through the desert on their way to the Land of Israel, they came to the border of Edom, who were the descendents Eisev. Moshe asked the leaders of Edom permission for his people to pass through Edom because it was the most direct route to Israel. Moshe explained that his people “will not pass through field or vineyard.” Meaning, that they will circumvent the residential areas, so that their passing will not cause any damage.

The leaders of Edom refused Moshe’s request and amassed troops at the borders. Israel could have defeated Edom, just as they defeated the more powerful kingdoms of Og and Sichon. However, Moshe elected to withdraw and took a circuitous route around Edom.

What was the rationale of Moshe’s decision? Why did he feel it was more important to yield to Edom, than to take lead millions of people on a longer, more dangerous route?

Moreover, there were several compelling reasons for Moshe to go through Edom. Firstly, Moshe had permission from HaShem to bring Am Yisrael through Edom. Secondly, Edom refused even though they heard the great miracles that HaShem had performed for Israel. Lastly, their stubborn refusal and aggressive response revealed that had were openly hostile to Am Yisrael. Since Edom were descendents of Eisev, they were “family” of Am Yisael.

Therefore, Moshe decided that family peace should be preserved under all circumstances.

Family relationships are a special gift from HaShem. Therefore, we should endeavor to preserve and protect our family relationships, as much as possible. As a result, HaShem will bless us with peace – the supreme element for quality living.

TODAY: Strive to make peace with all of your family members. To subscribe (free) to eMussar send email to or visit our website
Please share eMussar with a family member or friend.
eMussar” Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Zvi Miller and the Salant Foundation