Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Take a Deep Breath

by Devora Gila Berkowitz

Parshat Va'eira

Did you ever try to encourage someone who then just ignored you?

That's what happens when Moshe tries to talk to the enslaved Children of Israel. He has a message from G-d Himself that He will take them out of Egypt into the Promised Land! But "they did not heed Moses, because of shortness of breath and hard work." (Shemot 6:9)

Rebbe Nachman teaches that "shortness of breath" refers to a lack of emunah, or faith. How can they listen to Moshe when they have no hope on the horizon?

The next time you're feeling down, notice your breathing. It is deep or shallow? Take a few full breaths. Do things look a little brighter?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ready to Face G-d

by Devora Gila Berkowitz

Parshat Va'eira

Moshe must be a very special person.

After all, when he is ready, G-d faces him in a brand new way, unlike ever before: 

"I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaakov as El Shaddai, but with My Name Hashem I did not make Myself known to them." (Shemot 6:3)

Like Moshe, you are also special. Are you ready for Him to face you in a unique relationship?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Who Are We, Really?

by Devora Gila Berkowitz

Parshat Shemot

"Who am I that I should go to Pharoah and that I should take the Children of Israel out of Egypt?" (Shemot, 3:11)

 "And He said, For I shall be with you..." (3:12)

Self-identity = G-d's intention to always be involved in our lives.

(Thanks to Rav Daniel Kohn for the inspiration for today's blog.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sweetness in Potential

by Devora Gila Berkowitz

Parshat Shemot

The Hebrews are suffering.

Babies are in danger.

Where is G-d?

The salvation is already in motion --
the savior, Moses, has been born!

But it'll take some decades before he actually carries out his role, before the Children of Israel can be freed from slavery.

The harshness of life moves parallel to its sweetness in potential.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Good Cry

by Devora Gila Berkowitz

Parshat Vayechi

Pass the Kleenex -- Yosef's crying again.

He's got the distinction of having the most tearful outbursts in the Torah. He cries when he reveals himself to his brother, when reunited with Binyamin, upon seeing his father, at the death of his father, and when the brothers ask for forgiveness.

And despite being treated so badly, he also openly discusses G-d's providence: Fear not...although you intended me harm, G-d intended it for good..." (Bereshit 50:19-20).

Perhaps tears are a connection between experiencing life's trials and seeing
G-d's hand in it all.

Pass the Kleenex...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Other is a Mirror

by Devora Gila Berkowitz

Parshat Vayechi

Yaakov has passed away. Now the brothers fear that in the absence of their father, Yosef will take revenge on them for treating him so badly. Tit for tat.

"So they instructed that Yosef be told, 'Your father gave orders before his death, saying: Thus shall you say to Yosef: O, please, kindly forgive the spiteful deed of your brothers and their sin for they have done you evil.'".(Bereshit 50:16-17)

But hasn't Yosef already forgiven them in the previous parshah? "And now, be not distressed, nor reproach yourselves for having sold me here, for it was to be a provider that G-d sent me ahead of you..." (45:5)

Perhaps this forgiveness didn't register -- they had been quite in shock from Yosef's revealing of himself.

Or maybe neither forgiveness, nor G-d's providence, just isn't part of their language.

So, having done evil, they expect evil in return.

After all, isn't the other is a mirror of myself?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Miracle Waiting to Happen

by Devora Gila Berkowitz

Parshat Vayechi

As Yosef presents Efraim and Menashe to his father, Yaakov cannot believe his dimming eyes: "I dared not accept the thought that I would see your face, and here G-d has shown me even your offspring!" (Bereshit 48:10)

Yaakov couldn't imagine seeing Yosef again, yet he is blessed with grandchildren from this very son.

What miracles await in potential, ready to unlock your doubts forever?