| Spirit and Sparks |

Slow But Steady    

When you can't leap to the Heavens, trudge forward on earth

Slow But Steady

Heading into the plains of Cheshvan and Kislev, we leave behind two peaks — the Yamim Noraim and Succos. Both were periods of judgment, as the Gemara and Zohar teach. But the flatlands of Cheshvan and Kislev also bring us to a day of judgment — for those who still need more time, the Baal Shem Tov explains, Zos Chanukah is the final gemar hachasimah.

Mature people are moved to teshuvah through the fear of the Yamim Noraim. Smaller people, who freeze under pressure, come closer to Hashem through the joy of Succos. But for those who are spiritually numb and experience neither the awe nor the joy, there is Zos Chanukah.

You couldn’t leap to heaven, but you can plod day by day. You can make concrete changes in your daily routine to show Hashem that you do want to grow, despite the fact that you aren’t as inspired as you want to be.

And thereby we can all merit a good year.

As heard from Rav Moshe Wolfson



What is your goal for your students this coming year?


Rebbetzin Rivkah Eichenstein

My goal for this year is healthy, functional, normal. This may sound a bit anticlimactic or even boring, but I think that in the past chaotic months we have all learned to appreciate it.

Hashem didn’t say “metzuyan, excellent” after each day of Creation; He said “ki tov, good.” We want to be the best, perfect, outstanding. But to exaggerate expectations disconnects us from reality. Right now, it’s good. And don’t underestimate the heights we achieve when we’re solidly anchored, happy with “good.”

A mechaneches for decades, Rebbetzin Eichenstein teaches in multiple high schools as well as in BY Intensive.

Don’t ask Hashem for Mashiach like you’re asking your neighbor for a favor. Demand Mashiach like a worker whose boss owes him money and whose children are starving!

—Rav Chaim Kanievsky, in Keitz Megulah


Mind Your P’s

Baruch Hashem, my husband and I were zocheh to marry off a daughter. It was a wonderful, awesome event that consumed all of our time, energy, and love!

I came up with 4 Ps that are helping me shift my mindset and can perhaps help someone else cope with this beautiful, drastic change.

P for Pikadon. Hashem gave me this incredible deposit, but she’s not mine. She now has to build her own bayis ne’eman.

P for Pendulum. She need to build a connection with her husband and so the pendulum needs to swing away from her family — i.e., she’ll limit the calls and texts. Eventually (hopefully!) the pendulum will swing more toward the middle.

P for Peninsula. She is building their own peninsula. To do that, the couple needs time and space. They’re still connected to the mainland mass, but they’re also their own little land.

P for Process. As with all change, it takes time to process the “new” normal. She has to get used to being a wife and daughter-in-law and I have to get used to being a “shvigger” and mom of a married child.

May the “problem” that these 4 Ps solve be applicable to every parent in Klal Yisrael!

The New Shvigger


The Bottom Line

Iwas flying back to Eretz Yisrael after a whirlwind trip to see family. It had been a beautiful few days, and I’d maximized every minute — maybe a bit too much, it turns out. I got to the airport just two hours before my flight, but it was the weekend of the Fourth of July, and the airport was packed.

Juggling my bags and my baby, I took my place at the end of an insanely long line and waited… and waited… and waited. After half an hour in which I’d moved maybe half an inch, I started to panic. I had a quick stopover in Italy and if I missed my first flight I’d definitely miss the second, and I really needed to get back to my kids and my work deadlines. I murmured a perek of Tehillim, then texted my sisters to do the same.

The line didn’t move.

I glared at the people in front of me. Why did they all need to travel today? And with so much stuff? An airport worker came, and rearranged those velvet-and-rope line separators so that we’d be standing more efficiently — the check-in lines had grown so long that it snaked nearly to the entrance, and was blocking traffic. But other than the employee’s reshuffling of us, the line. Did. Not. Move.

Then I remembered the segulah of focusing on the words ein od milvado when you need Hashem’s help. I decided to spend a few minutes focusing on the fact that there was only Hashem and nothing and no one else. I did it, but I felt pretty foolish — wasn’t this segulah for people escaping the Nazis?

A little voice in the back of my head was telling me, “What exactly do you think will happen? The line is layers upon layers thick. Even if Hashem makes a miracle and the clerks wake up and start processing each person in 30 seconds, you still won’t make your flight!”

I tried to brush back those thoughts and focus on ein od milvado, but I was still feeling like a panicked idiot.

Then another one of the JFK workers came to add yet more velvet ropes. She jabbed her finger in my direction — “You! Go over there!” She pointed to a Delta business class line with two people waiting. I ignored her, I obviously wasn’t understanding something — I wasn’t flying business or even Delta, for that matter.

She raised her voice, visibly annoyed. “Hey! You! I said, go over there!” Shrugging apologetically to the grumbling people behind me — “This doesn’t seem fair!” one woman hissed at me — I left the hundreds of people in line and walked over to the Delta Business Class check-in desk. (Estimated wait time: two minutes.)

After five minutes of focusing on the fact that there is nothing besides Hashem, He showed me that, really, there isn’t.

Bracha Stein

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 717)

Oops! We could not locate your form.