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Is Your Sukkah Cramped or Spacious? It Depends on You

on Tuesday, October 3 2017. Posted by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg

Picture from Chabad.org

The Shulchan Aruch (634:1) rules that the minimum size of a kosher sukkah is 7 tefachim by 7 tefachim or approximately 2.5 x 2.5 ft.  To you give you an idea of how small that is, it’s less than half the size of my desk.  Indeed, the Mishna Berura says as long as the sukkah can hold rosho v’rubo v’miktzas shulchano, as long as the sukkah can hold your head, most of your body and part of your table, it is kosher.

Rav Yankele Galinsky notes that Pesach and Sukkos have many similarities and parallels such as having to eat a certain measure the first night and waiting to make Kiddush until nightfall.  Nevertheless, there is a glaring difference.  On Pesach we spread out, recline and dine like royalty. By contrast, on Sukkos, we squeeze and squish into our fragile, flimsy temporary small huts.  Once we are all inside, pressed up against one another, what do we do?  Azamin l’seudasi ushpizin ila’in, we invite guests to come join us.  Not only do we welcome Avraham, Yitzchak, etc. but v’imach kol ushpizei ila’ei, come one, come all, plenty of room for everyone.  Where?

Israeli war hero and Statesman Moshe Dayan was once stopped for speeding by a military policeman. Dayan argued:  “I only have one eye.  What do you want me to watch – the speedometer or the road?”

The quality of so much of our life experience is contingent on which eye we use to see.  It is not so contingent on what we see, but rather how we see.  The Mishna in Avos (5:22) encourages us to be the students of Avraham Avinu and not Bilam HaRasha.  Avraham is characterized by having an ayin tova, a good eye, while Bilam lived with an ayin ra’ah, an evil eye.

Living with a good eye, a kind, optimistic, positive and magnanimous view, and an ayin ra’ah, a negative, stingy, judgmental, pessimistic, and intolerant view, are not mutually exclusive.  In reality, we all have both, and employ different pairs of eyes depending on the moment, the circumstances, and our mood.

In marriage, in parenting, in friendships, and in life, there are times we are in a place with someone in which they can do no wrong.  We feel particularly close to them for whatever reason at that moment and so when they do things that would otherwise bother us, we don’t notice, we give them the benefit of the doubt, we laugh away their idiosyncrasy, we excuse their behavior, and we see them only with our ayin tova.

Other times, however, when we feel alienated or distanced from someone, we see them exclusively through our ayin ra’ah, negative eye, and they can do absolutely no right.  They have wronged us even before they get out of bed in the morning.  The smallest slight, otherwise normal behavior on their part, grates at us, irritates us, and drives us crazy.

What determines if we are looking at our husband or wife, our son or daughter, our friend, neighbor or co-worker, the person sitting next to us in shul, with an ayin tova or an ayin ra’ah?  Certainly their behavior and choices influence how we see them, but all else being equal, in circumstances when they are behaving the same way but we are in a different place, the only thing that determines our perspective and viewpoint—and by extension our relationships and happiness—is us.

The Gemara in Sanhedrin (7a) says that when a couple’s love is strong they can sleep on the edge of a sword with room leftover.  When their love is weak, a bed that is sixty amos (90 feet wide) will feel cramped. The bed is an objective size; the blanket has fixed dimensions.  What determines if it feels cramped or spacious?  Our perspective and our view.

Rav Galinsky explains that Sukkos is the holiday of unity.  We have spent the Yamim Noraim bonding, reconciling, repairing our relationships and striving for a level of v’yeiasu kulam agudah achas, to be together as one.  We feel a closeness, a bond and a love and therefore we see with an ayin tova, giving others the benefit of the doubt, being tolerant of our differences, choosing to dismiss slights and hurts and see the good in each person.

On Pesach we have four sons and four cups. On sukkos we have four species, but there is a huge difference.  Each of Pesach’s four sons has his own independent question and we give each an individual answer.  The four cups at the Seder are invalid if consumed in combination and must instead be taken in one at a time, sh’saan b’vas achas lo yatza. (Pesachim 105b).

The four species of Sukkos, however, must be taken b’agudah achas, in one unit to be Kosher, they have to be bundled together.

Our sukkos are objectively small, close quarters.  We have a three-day Yom Tov, we are eating six meals in a row with family, and in many cases extended family.  Will we feel cramped, crowded and confined?  Will we be going crazy, needing our space, craving a break?  Or, will our sukkah feel roomy, spacious, and with plenty of room for others to join?  Will we look forward to the next meal and more conversation?

The answer is not found in the dimensions of our sukkah, or in the quality of the food or even in the behavior of our guests.  It is found in ourselves.  If we put on our ayin tova, there will be all the room in the world.  If we are seeing through our ayin ra’ah there isn’t a sukkah big enough in the world we will find comfortable.

Howard Schultz, the former Chairman of Starbucks, visited Israel in 2011. He wrote an article upon his return, in which related an encounter that he and a number of high-powered executives had when they met with Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt”l, the former Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir.

Gentlemen, the elderly rabbi began, who can tell me the lesson of the Holocaust? The Rabbi called on one of the men who was surprised to be singled out and he began meekly “We will never, ever forget …” the Rabbi indicated this was not the right answer…No one wanted to be called on next. Schultz avoided eye contact with the teacher so he wouldn’t be recognized. Another man spoke up saying “We should never be a victim or a bystander.”  The elderly Rabbi dismissed this answer as well.

At this point, Schultz said the entire group felt reduced to a group of elementary school students.  Then the Rabbi responded in gentle but firm voice, “Let me tell you the essence of the human spirit.  As you know, during the Holocaust, people were transported in the worst possible inhumane way, by cattle cars, convinced they were going to prisoner of war camps but ultimately they ending up in death camps. After hours and hours in the stifling crowded cattle car with no light, no bathroom, nowhere to sit, they arrived in the camps freezing cold and hungry.  The doors of the rail cars were swung wide open and the people inside were blinded by the light.

Men and women were separated, mothers were torn from their daughters and fathers from their sons, and they were herded off to bunks to sleep.  Only one person out of six was given a blanket. And at that moment, that person, who was fortunate enough to be handed that blanket, had a choice; am I going to push the blanket to the other five people who didn’t get one or am I going to pull it toward myself to stay warm?  Am I going to give or am I going to take?  It was during this defining moment that we learn the power of the human spirit, when people pushed the blanket to five others.” With that, the Rabbi stood up and said “take your blanket, take it home and push it to five other people.”

This Sukkos, let’s see our blanket, our sukkah and our love as big enough to share with other people.

 

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The Jewish Community & Drug Addiction: Al Cheit for Not Listening, Not Learning and Not Acting

on Wednesday, September 27 2017. Posted by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg

This week, our community joined too many others who have confronted the impossible task of saying goodbye to a young person stolen from this world, robbed from us by the dreaded illness of addiction.  In her 23 years on earth, Miriam made an indelible impression on so many who already miss her terribly.  While we were coronating God, Miriam’s soul ascended to join Him on Rosh Hashana.

The faces of the countless people who attended her funeral carried immense grief, profound loss, but also great fear.  For many of her peers, this was not the first time saying goodbye to a friend who had succumbed to addiction—a challenge which can be managed, but never fully conquered.  Some looked frozen by the realization that this could be them, that it may just be a matter of time until their family gets that dreaded call or makes that horrific discovery.  There were parents who have given every form of love and support to their children who were or are struggling and yet looked so helpless and even hopeless.  One described to me the stress and anxiety of waiting every moment of every day to get a phone call that will turn their lives upside down forever.

In just a few days, when we confess al cheit on Yom Kippur, I will be adding a few more this year.  Al cheit for our ignorance.   Al cheit for our indifference, even if unintentional.  Al cheit for not showering enough love, care and support to those gripped by the terror of a life of addiction.  Al cheit for not looking out for those falling between the cracks, those that may struggle to excel in the ways that our society has defined as successful, but who have so much to offer in other ways.   Al cheit for not being there for our young people or their family members who are suffering from their loved one’s disease more than we could ever know.  Al cheit for not listening, for not learning, for not acting.

The Jewish community must do more, we must do better.  I don’t know what the solutions are yet, but I do know it begins by acknowledging the problem and vowing to solve it.  The first step is to increase awareness and it is in that spirit that Miriam’s parents asked me if I would share the eulogy I delivered for their special daughter.  May Hashem give them strength.

May 5778 be the year that we all do our part in our schools, shuls, communities and in our homes to help our young people be safe, healthy and prosperous.

 

Hesped for Miriam Orlan a”h

Miriam Esther bas Avraham Yitzchak

Darcho shel olam, the way of the world is for children to gather to say goodbye to parents; parents are not supposed to be standing graveside to say goodbye to their children.  Zachreinu l’chaim, melech chafetz ba’chaim…for these ten days, three times a day we beseech God to remember us for life.  We refer to Him as the King who cherishes life.  And yet, our zachreinu l’chaim has so abruptly turned into a yizkor Elokim, a hope for a rich life transformed into a prayer for the memory of someone no longer.  It is beyond painful, tragic and almost incomprehensible that we find ourselves standing here today to give kavod acharon, to say goodbye to a precious young woman, a special neshama, Miriam Esther bas Avraham Yitzchak, who has left the world way too soon and before her time.

Devora and Avi – Miriam knew how much you loved her and how deeply you cared about her.  She cherished your love in all forms, affectionate love and tough love, because she knew you were concerned only for her.  There are simply no words we can offer that can ease your pain or comfort your aching soul.  All we can do is pray that Hashem gives you the strength to know that you did all that you could and the courage to endure this horrific moment.

Sara and Yitzchak, Doniel, Penina and Tal – Miriam felt your love and commitment to her and she loved you.  We pray that the fun times, laughter, happiness and joy you had with her will shape your memory of her and that you somehow find comfort during this time.

Mrs. Orlan, Mrs. Phillips, Perel, Shmuly and all of Miriam’s family – you were each part of what gave Miriam strength and courage over these last years.  Miriam had wonderful qualities and virtues, undoubtedly due to your influence and the model you each set.  We pray this will be a source of comfort and consolation.

There is great soul-searching, reflection and even cheshbon ha’nefesh that our community must undertake in the wake of this tragedy.  We must do more and do better for the vulnerable among us, to soothe the pain of the spiritually wounded, to love and comfort the souls that are aching so that they don’t need to find solace elsewhere.  I pledge that we will take an accounting, we will listen, learn and act. But not now, not today.  Today is about our special and sensitive soul, Miriam Esther bas Avraham Yitzchak.

We are in the period of aseres y’mei teshuva, and these days of awe culminate with Yom Kippur.  Yom Kippur forces us to confront our mortality, to reflect on how fragile life is, with the hope it will motivate a more meaningful and fulfilled life.  We perform kapparos and say may the death of this chicken be a source of atonement for us.  Men wear a kittel on Yom Kippur, the garment we are buried in.  On Yom Kippur, we read from Acharei Mos, the portion that tells of the premature death of Aharon’s two sons.  We read the story of the asarah harugei malchus, the ten martyrs.  We recite vidduy on Yom Kippur, just as a person does at the end of his life.  We deny ourselves physical comfort and pleasure as if we no longer have a body.  Lastly, the Talmud tells us Yom Hakippurim atzmo m’caper, u’misah m’chaperes, Yom Kippur atones, and death atones.  There is an undeniable connection between Yom Kippur and death that is meant to inspire life.

But there is another way of interpreting these customs and observances.  On Yom Kippur we are focused not on death, but rather, we are focused on life, our real lives, the true us, not the illusion of this world.  For 364 days a year, we live in this physical world, but for 25 hours, we transcend it, we are a soul free of the pleasures of this world, unburdened by the urges and temptations of the body.  For one day, we taste what it will mean to be an unencumbered soul: pure, good, and noble.

Some souls can’t wait to get back to the physical world, to indulge and to be carefree.  Other souls, like Miriam, feel the pain of the world, of the people around them, and carry all that pain, making reentry difficult, if not impossible.  Miriam was born with an insatiable appetite.  From a young age, she loved to take it in.  She enjoyed good food, deep conversation, close relationships.  She loved to indulge in what life had to offer.

There is no doubt she was passionate. But what made Miriam special is not her passion, but her compassion.  Miriam was caring, sensitive, loving, and had a seemingly endless capacity for empathy.  She genuinely felt the pain of people around her and carried it like it was her own.  She was pained for people around her who were hurting.  She even felt the pain of little chickens and of bees, and that is why for a long time she was a vegan who refused to eat animals or even the honey they produced.

Miriam was politically astute and instinctively always rooted for underdog.  She didn’t judge, she didn’t criticize, she just loved.  She had a gutta neshama, a neshama not from this world, a neshama that couldn’t handle the pain of this world.

The Rambam uses a very unusual word in the beginning of the 7th chapter of hilchos teshuva.  “Yishtadeil adom la’asos teshuva, a person should try to repent.” He doesn’t say “accomplish teshuva,” he says yishtadeil, try, do your best, battle and don’t ever give up.  Miriam battled since she was 14 years old.  She never ever thought she would become a statistic, a victim of this dreaded disease.  It took enormous physical and emotional energy to fight and to battle, daily.

Miriam Esther bas Avraham Yitzchak must not be remembered for a battle she lost, but for the countless battles she won.  She went to cosmetician school, she moved to New York, and built a life for herself.  She had a good job as a beloved nanny for a wonderful family.  She was a loyal friend and a dedicated daughter, devoted granddaughter, sibling and aunt.  She was beloved to so many on whom she had a great impact.

While the pain for you, her beloved family, is beyond words or even consolation, I hope and pray that you find strength in knowing that Miriam’s soul is no longer encumbered by this world, she is no longer burdened by pain, that of hers or that of others.  While this Saturday night at Havdalah, we will return from Yom Kippur into this world, Miriam Esther bas Avraham Yitzchak will now remain a pure, pain free soul forever.

T’hei nafsha tzerura b’tzror ha’chaim

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Remembering Hashem When the Crisis Passes

on Friday, September 15 2017. Posted by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg

 

* A version of this article will appear in Mishpacha Magazine for Rosh Hashana

The sitting and waiting was becoming unbearable.  A week of preparations, warnings, and constantly tracking a shifting cone can leave you exhausted even before the hurricane begins.  It is easy to stay calm and confident until the many wonderful, well-intentioned people and organizations around the world let you know they are holding Tehillim rallies for your survival.

The checklist of preparations before a hurricane is intense  – buy water, batteries, gas, flashlights, take in outdoor furniture, put up shutters or plywood, fill bathtubs, and more.  Yet, with all the preparations, we are powerless from actually influencing the storm.  The meteorologists and media can talk about and analyze the storm, but they cannot direct it.  Nobody can—not scientists, not the Army or Air Force, not even great kabbalists.  The key to the strength and trajectory of hurricane Irma belonged exclusively to the Almighty and nobody else.  And that is why our community turned to Him.  When the shutters were hung and the supplies purchased, we gathered in the Shul for a heartfelt plea to the Ribono Shel Olam that the monster category 5 storm that was heading our way and threatened our very lives be redirected and downgraded and spare not only us, but all.

Mi yichyeh u’mi yamus…mi ba’mayim, who will live and who will die…who by water?  While our tehillim rally took place two weeks before we would recite these profound words in U’nesaneh Tokef, they were poignantly on our minds and in our hearts that night.  The intensity of tefillah in the countdown to a catastrophic hurricane surpassed even ne’ilah in its intent and sincerity.

As Sunday progressed and the winds and rain picked up in Boca Raton, we closely followed the movement of Irma and its impact on our neighboring communities.  We watched Miami get hit hard from the storm surge and heard of the power outages as the storm made its way north towards us.  When it finally arrived, the rain went sideways and the wind howled. Trees landed on houses and cars, windows smashed and broke; for many, the electricity is still out.  The Shul parking lot flooded and a massive tree crashed into our gate.  But most importantly, nobody from our community was hurt, all are ok, and the devastation and destruction that threatened us never materialized.

We recognize that not all who davened they be spared were answered in the affirmative as much as we were.  We continue to pray for their well-being, their safety, and that recovery efforts go smoothly.  Nevertheless, there is something incredibly special as a community in palpably feeling that our tefillos were answered and that Hashem said YES to our heartfelt pleas. Modim anachnu lach…al nisecha she’bechol yom imanu, we are forever grateful to You Hashem, for Your miracles that are with us each and every day.

A man is late for an interview and he’s been driving around the block for 20 minutes trying to find a parking spot.  Running out of time and in great desperation, he looks to the heavens and says “God, if you help me find a parking spot right now, I’ll never speak lashon hara again, I will always make it to shul on time and I will give generously to tzedaka.”  Just then, a parking spot opens up right in front of the building in which he is having his meeting.  He sees the spot, looks back up to the Heavens and says, “never mind God, I found one.”

We bang on the bima to say tehillim when there is an emergency or a terribly ill individual.  We send an email notice and sign people up to complete sefer Tehillim in times of great need.  But do we equally rush to gather and sign up to say Tehillim as an expression of gratitude when everything turns out ok?  Or, like the man, do we say, never mind Hashem, ignore the promises we made at the Tehillim rally—as it turns out, the hurricane wasn’t that bad after all.

Throughout the storm, I kept watching a large tree as the wind whipped through its leaves and its branches and made it bend until it seemed at times like it reached a ninety degree angle.  I was sure it was going to snap.  At one point, I heard a loud crack and knew a tree had snapped.  I looked outside at my tree but it was still stubbornly standing tall.  It was the tree next to it that broke in half and fell to the ground landing with a loud thud.  I wondered why one tree endured and the other couldn’t withstand the wind, and then I remembered what the rabbis taught us.

לעולם יהא אדם רך כקנה ואל יהא קשה כארז – A person should always be soft like a reed, and not stiff like a cedar (Ta’anis 20a).   A reed is soft and flexible and, therefore, when it confronts winds and the elements, it endures.  A cedar is stiff and rigid; as a result, even an unimpressive wind can knock it over.  When hardship comes, when we face challenges, we need to go with the flow, put our trust in Hashem and adapt to what He throws our way.  When we are rigid, we tighten up with fear, angst and a lack of trust, and it becomes easy to be knocked right over.

When surveying the downed trees, one cannot help but notice a second difference.  The trees that stayed up, like the palms, are not only flexible and bendable, but they have deep roots that hold their foundation steady.  The trees that have very shallow roots, however, like the ficus, tip right over, as there is no foundation to hold them strong.

To weather the storms life throws our way, we must never forget how deep our roots go.  We have an incredibly strong foundation that can hold us up against any wind, as long as we remember where we come from and tap into the tradition of not only praying to Hashem in times of need, but thanking Him in times of goodness and joy.

May our cries of ya’ancha Hashem b’yom tzara, answer us Hashem on our day of crisis, always be followed by a feeling of tov l’hodos laShem, it is good to thank Hashem.

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We are All in the Cone of Uncertainty Always and Should Pray Like It

on Thursday, September 7 2017. Posted by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg

If you live in South Florida, when you hear the word cone this time of year, you don’t think of ice cream, but hurricane highway.  When a new storm develops and begins heading towards making landfall, the experts offer their best projections of where it is going and when it will get there.  The “cone of uncertainty” is formed, and with each periodic update the communities and people in its path desperately look to see if they are still projected to sustain a hit.  As long as one remains in the cone of uncertainty, there is an unavoidable angst and the tortuous process of waiting and anticipating what is to come.

Just a week after Harvey devastated Houston, Irma threatens our Boca Raton and South Florida communities.  Larger than the country of France, this massive and powerful storm has elicited and inspired a sense of urgency and a tremendous response.  Gas lines are endless, many stores have sold out of supplies, and people are panicking and legitimately afraid.  A sizeable segment of our community has left.  Some flew, others took the Auto Train, and many have just gotten in the car and driven north.  The Jewish community of Atlanta, led by Rabbi Adam Starr and Rabbi Ilan Feldman, has been absolutely incredible and has taken in several hundred families.  They mobilized rapidly and extended themselves to us generously and we couldn’t be more grateful to them.

The shaylos have been pouring in.  Can I leave my radio and TV on over Shabbos?  How will I know if the eruv is down?  If we lose power can I carry a lit candle or flashlight?  Can I add fuel to my generator on Shabbos?  What if I am powering a refrigerator holding someone’s critical medicine?  Fascinating and sad questions, to be sure, but the most moving question I received came this afternoon from a man in our shul whose neighbor is an elderly woman, with no family, living in an old home with an old roof.  His family invited her to stay with them but she stubbornly insists on riding out the storm in her house by herself.  With great concern in his voice, he called to ask me if it would be appropriate to physically pick her up and take her to his house since once the storm comes, nobody would be able to come rescue her should something God forbid happen.

The preparations are enormous, but they are only about protecting ourselves; unfortunately, we can’t actually do anything to prevent or redirect the storm.

Shortly after creation, God told Adam to multiply and to conquer His world.  Indeed, He has given us the keys to understanding His universe and with each scientific, medical or technological breakthrough, we come closer to conquering it.  But, there are three keys that God kept on His keyring and refused to share with us.  “Rebbe Yochanan said: Three keys the Holy One blessed be retained in His own hands and Has not entrusted to the hand of any messenger, namely, the Key of Rain, the Key of Childbirth, and the Key of the Revival of the Dead” (Ta’anis 2a).  In truth, the three exceptions are really one.  God has held onto the ability to provide, sustain and resurrect life.

This insight of our rabbis nearly two thousand years ago stands out as profoundly true today.  With all that we can master, manipulate and control, the weather remains an enigma and a mystery.  We identify that a catastrophic storm has formed, but not only do we lack the capacity to dissolve, disrupt or redirect it, we cannot even predict where it will go with any true sense of accuracy or precision.

There is a whole lot we can and should do to prepare for the storm – buy batteries, water, flashlights, take in outdoor furniture, put up shutters – but we are powerless from directly influencing the storm.  The meteorologists and media can talk about the storm, but they cannot impact it.  Nobody can, not scientists, not the Army or Air Force, not even great kabbalists.  The key to the strength and trajectory of hurricane Irma belongs exclusively to the Almighty and nobody else.

When it comes to other crises or emergencies, there is hishtadlus, effort and initiative we can take to solve and resolve the challenge.  The effort and impact we make fool us into thinking that the doctor alone healed the patient or the shadchan deserves the full credit for making the shiduch.  With a hurricane, because the only initiative anyone can take is to protect themselves, not to direct the storm, it should be more obvious and easier to recognize the importance and need to turn to the Key Master and beseech Him to send the storm elsewhere, in a way nobody is threatened or hurt.

On all the checklists and preparation charts provided by agencies and organizations, prayer never appears.  Nevertheless, it should be at the top of our list, not in place of other preparations but certainly in addition to them.  I urge everyone to do what should come naturally at this critical time – ask Hashem from the bottom of our hearts to turn the storm out to the ocean and spare us, our community, and all humanity.

L’Dovid Mizmor, Tehillim 27 that we recite in the morning and evening from the beginning of Elul until Simchas Torah ends with the pasuk “kavei el Hashem, chazak v’yameitz libecha v’kavei el Hashem — put your hope in Hashem, strengthen yourself and get the courage to put your hope and faith in Hashem.”  Why the redundancy?  If we have placed our hope in Hashem, why does the pasuk call on us to do it a second time?  Our rabbis (Berachos 32b) explain: “if a person sees that they prayed but they were not answered, let them return and pray again.”

In his new sefer on Emunah and Bitachon, Rav Asher Weiss explains that we learn from this pasuk that when our prayer doesn’t immediately yield the results we want, it doesn’t mean we received a no, it means we need to go back and pray again, with more fervor and greater concentration.  One must never give up on prayer, never concede that it wasn’t answered, or stop believing that there is someone worth praying to.

Our rabbis teach (Berachos 2b) that one who recites the Amidah right after saying Ga’al Yisrael, the blessing on redemption, is guaranteed the world to come.  Why is connecting the two themes with no interruption so important?  Rabbeinu Yonah explains that the prerequisite to sincere prayer is the belief that there is someone listening and that He, and He alone, determines if our prayers are heard and what our future brings.  Before we say the Amidah, we recite the blessing that recalls a time when the Jewish people called out to Hashem and He responded by redeeming them.  On the heels of that precedent we pray that we, too, will be heard and that Hashem will intervene on our behalf as He did for our ancestors.

Says Rav Asher Weiss: “Prayer and faith depend on each other.  Prayer is the highest expression of faith and faith obligates prayer, for if in fact a person believes that Ein od milvado, there is nothing in the world but Him, and that He is all powerful and all knowing, that person will put his faith in Him and will feel compelled to pray to Him with all his heart.”

As we in South Florida prepare for Hurricane Irma, it occurs to me that in truth, we aren’t the only ones in a cone of uncertainty.  True, if you don’t live on the East Coast or in the gulf area, you can be confident you won’t be hit by this hurricane. But who knows what could hit you personally or collectively with little warning or projection.  We all live in a cone of uncertainty at all times and should channel our sense of vulnerability and mortality into turning towards Hashem, the only certain in this world.

While Irma is unwanted and should go elsewhere, the renewed intensity of prayer that she is inspiring is most welcome, especially this time of year as we gear up for sitting before the Almighty in judgement.

Kavei el Hashem, we put our hope in Hashem and then we check the next advisory and when we see ourselves still sitting in Irma’s path, chazak v’yameitz libecha, we strengthen ourselves and find the courage to once again v’kavei el Hashem, put our faith and hope in Hashem.

We pray that in the merit of our turning towards Hashem at this urgent time, the next advisory will show Irma turning away from us.

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