| Spirit and Sparks |

Waiting for Mashiach: Part 1

“The more bitter the heart of the singer, the sweeter his song”




here’s a spiritual ascent that begins with Tu B’Shevat and peaks on Shavuos. From the 20th of Sivan we begin to descend sharply, reaching the lowest point on Tisha B’Av. Why are we being made to plunge into the dark?

We’re being sent to find the sparks of Mashiach, the diamonds that lie in the murky depths.

While technology and civilization continuously advance, human suffering still plagues the planet. But we’re not stuck in endless cycles of heartbreak. In multiple places in the Torah, as well as dozens of times in Navi, Hashem promises that the world will one day be a utopia. This promise is what we call Mashiach.

In our intense longing for Mashiach, we’ve romanticized, imagined, wondered, and conjectured. In truth, we know extremely little about Mashiach because the neviim only received vague prophecies, and Chazal didn’t have a clear tradition of interpretation.

What we do know is enough to set our hearts singing. Rambam describes: …there will be no hunger, war, or jealously. Material delights will be in abundance, yet nobody will be busy with material pursuits. Instead, everybody will be engaged in acquiring knowledge of Hashem. All Jews will be exceedingly wise and will know the secrets of the Torah.

After the sea split and three million people crossed: “Amalek came and waged war with the Jewish people in Refidim” (Shemos 17:8). And while Hashem provided water from a rock and food from Heaven, there were still people kvetching and complaining. But when Mashiach will come, all nations will coexist peacefully under His benevolent rulership. Every individual will be content, thriving, and at peace, having found their place in Hashem’s world.

—Excerpted from At the Core of Emunah, based on Rav Moshe Wolfson shlita's Emunah Series

Building Your Eternal Palace

Therapeutic Writing

Part 4 of 6

Dovid Hamelech tells us that Hashem is moshiv yechidim baysa, He returns individuals to their home (Tehillim 68:7). He collects individuals who might be completely different from one another and puts them all in one household.

That goes for spouses, children, in-laws, married children, grandchildren, and step-children. It includes those who are difficult and those who are a pleasure to get along with. Every single person in your home was put there for your growth.

How can we embrace complex relationships? By trusting that Hashem put them there for our good. We’re in this world to build our palace in the next one, and this challenge is the entrance ticket that you need.

Let’s try something to make this a bit easier. Take a blank piece of paper and some gel pens. Without focusing on the artistic aspects, draw your imaginary palace in the World to Come. It should be large and beautiful and feel special to you. Label each room by what you think you did to earn it, and then with another color pen, write one sentence describing what you overcame to earn this room.

When you finish, study your picture, and internalize the feeling of embracing and being grateful for each person in your home.

Write a reflection about how you feel seeing the palace you’re building for your eternal home.

—Yocheved Rottenberg is the facilitator of international therapeutic writing workshops and the author of Write Your Way Home.

“The more bitter the heart of the singer, the sweeter his song”

—Rav Yedaya Habadarshi

Words of Wisdom

Over the years, I’ve seen how controlling their health and their figure has taken over the lives of women and girls. I combat this by taking my girls into the world of brachos. I teach them that:

— Through eating with the awareness that it’s Hashem Who lovingly designed our food to be nutritious, aesthetically appealing, and tasty, we bond closely with Him.

— To never refer to food as junk, even if you consider it unhealthful. There are foods that contain more nourishment and others that are “ma’atamim,” delicacies, and serve other purposes.

—“A tzaddik eats to satisfy his soul, and the stomach of an evil person is lacking” (Mishlei 13:25). The ideal is to eat to gain nourishment and to experience the good Hashem does for us. Someone who endlessly pursues more and more pleasure will never feel satisfied.

— Rebbetzin Beila Kviat, Principal, Bais Yaakov Adas Yereim

The Secret of Success

Money was incredibly tight, and though I was finishing up a book, I still didn’t know if the company I usually published with would accept it. My sponsors were unwilling to fund the next project before I could tell them that the previous one was on its way to the market, and I lived off this money.

I submitted the manuscript and waited anxiously for the company to respond. But it soon became obvious that no answer would be forthcoming for a while. My financial situation was precarious. I needed a new project to fill my work hours.

During this time, my great aunt had hip-replacement surgery and required visitors to ease her pain and loneliness. By nature, I find it hard to be giving and generous. Visiting my great aunt, who could get cantankerous due to her discomfort, was the perfect way for me to practice these middos.

One day, my cousin who was doing the visiting coordination called. There’s no one to be there that day at the seven o’clock evening shift. Could I take it?

My great aunt wasn’t in a grateful mood when I arrived. “Why did you bring the baby?” she grumbled.

I brought her what she needed, took her to the bathroom, cleaned up a bit, rubbed her back and arms with ointment to relieve her therapy-induced charley horse, all while juggling the baby and working on thinking kind thoughts that would lead me to feeling love toward this woman.

After she was comfortable, we chatted a bit, and she even had a great time with the baby.

Right after I came home, I decided to make a phone call for hishtadlus. Usually, it’s very difficult to get a hold of the philanthropist who funds my work. This time, however, he answered the call, listened to my ideas for the next project, didn’t question where the previous one was up to, and on the spot, decided to underwrite it.

In three minutes, I went from having no clue how I’d pay tuition to having tuition for the entire year paid in full.

A little later that evening, I came across a quote from a rosh yeshivah, “Whenever I’m about to embark on a fundraising campaign, I look around for someone to do a favor for, because my success as a fundraiser depends on it.”

In His kindness, Hashem had sent me a chesed do to.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 697)

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