Page 3 - The Jewish Voice - September '23
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The Jewish Voice, Page 3

                                                         From the rabbi

      Life Lessons from the                             away from using the word “curse” and choose the word   in our shul a few years ago. This woman who was forced
                                                        “exchange” in its place?
                                                                                                           to  dance  before  Dr.  Joseph  Mengele  for  her  survival,
      Ballerina of Auschwitz                               In a sermon delivered on August 13, 1966, the Rebbe   while her family was being gassed in Auschwitz, endured
                                                        explained that in this curious  quandary,  the Kabbalists   indescribable suffering. We sat with mouths agape as she
      By Rabbi Dovid Vigler                             were trying to enlighten us as to the very nature of evil as   declared that “Auschwitz was the greatest classroom I ever
         FDR  was  arguably  one                        we redefine the meaning of the bad things that happen to   experienced. Nothing happens without a reason, and I chose
      of  the  most  revered  and                       us. An item is only exchanged for something similar to it,   to learn the lessons that G-d was teaching me, despite the
      admired  presidents  of  the                      never with something opposite to it. By calling curses “the   harsh manner in which they were taught to me.”
      great United States. Though                       exchange of the blessing,” the Torah is telling us that curses      She said that “You cannot heal what you cannot feel.
      he  failed  to  formally                          are actually blessings in disguise.                Hence, you have to have the courage to face yourself.
      acknowledge the horrors of                           This  translation  by  Rabbi Yonatan  ben  Uziel  is  the   Develop the courage to face your demons instead of trying to
      the Holocaust, his 12-year                        earliest translation of Torah into the vernacular Aramaic.   overcome them… Everything that happens is for a profound
      presidency  propelled  our                        Living 2,000 years ago just prior to the destruction of our   reason. And if we’re not ready to understand it, then you
      country  out  of  the  Great                      Second Temple by the Romans, he was the foremost student   have to try harder.”
      Depression  to  become  the                       of the famous Hillel. The sages related that his holiness was      Indeed, the Torah is telling us here that there are no such
      global superpower it is today.                    so intense that, while he was busy studying the holy Torah,   things as curses, only hidden blessings. It’s up to us to utilize
         Many thinkers have struggled to identify what exactly   a bird flying over him at that moment would be burned!  our wisdom to decode these setbacks into the advances
      was the reason for his astonishing success. But his wife,      When he wrote his commentary on the Torah, the Talmud   they are destined to be. I have personally experienced the
      Eleanor, revealed that one epic disappointment in 1902   relates that the Holy Land trembled and a heavenly voice   greatest lessons of my life through the darkest struggles I
      influenced him more than anything  else to become the   called out: “Who has dared to reveal My secrets to mortal   have endured, and I have come to realize that wisdom begins
      legend that he was.                               men?” Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel declared: “I am the one   at the end of your comfort zone. In a deeply personal way,
         While  studying  at  Harvard,  he  applied  to  join The   responsible for revealing Your holy secrets to mankind. But   I have come to perceive that pain is your teacher, as it will
      Porcellian — an exclusive student club dating back to   not to do myself honor, nor for the glory of my ancestors   take you to places into which you’d never have willingly
      1791, to which his father as well as his cousin, President   did I do this, but solely so that the Jews may understand   ventured.
      Teddy Roosevelt, had belonged. Sadly, his application was   what the Prophets have told them.”          I know this is a difficult pill to swallow. It might be the
      rejected, and he was crestfallen. He told his relative, W.      His resting place in the Galilee is in Amukah. Legend   most difficult challenge That you ever have to overcome.
      Sheffield Cowles, that this “was the greatest disappointment   has it that anyone who prays there for marriage will find   As you reflect on the suffering you’ve been through in
      of [his] life.” However, the inferiority complex he developed   a spouse within the year. Thousands of people pray at his   your life, given the choice, would you elect to never have
      by virtue of this propelled him to become an overachiever.   grave each year. In fact, one of my cousins met his wife   experienced that pain? In an acutely mystical manner, the
      Most of the members of The Porcellian were Republicans,   through an amazing encounter just hours after praying at   suffering that challenged us to our limit uncovered unknown
      and this likely inspired him to break from his own family’s   this holy tomb.                        depths within our beings that we would never otherwise
      tradition and become a Democrat.                     The founding principle behind this paradigm shift is   have tapped into.
         Indeed, things are not as they seem. Failure is success in   that G-d is essentially good and therefore everything that      Making the decision to view things differently is the key
      progress. Had FDR been granted his wish, WWII might well   comes from Him is only good. Hence, the Torah tells us   to switching from a victim mentality to that of a victor. As
      have had a dramatically different outcome! This profound   explicitly that “No evil descends from Above” (Midrash   Dr. Edith Eger said: “Suffering is universal; victimhood
      wisdom is taught to us in the opening verse of Parshas   Rabbah, Bereishit 51:3; Tanya, Iggeret HaKodesh section   is optional.” Only when we muster the courage to find the
      Re’eh, as it reads:                               11) and “by the command of the Most High, neither good   light within our own hearts will the light of consciousness
         “See, I am giving you today the blessing and the curse”   nor evil come” (Lamentations 3:38).     shine on all of humanity, as we usher in the era of higher
      Deuteronomy 11:26). The Kabbalists translate the word      Essentially  what  this  means  is  that  everything  that   consciousness — the era of Moshiach.
      “curse” in this verse as “exchange,” wherein G-d notifies   happens to us is good — if we can see the good, then it’s      Rabbi Dovid Vigler is spiritual leader at Chabad of Palm
      us that He is giving us “either a blessing or its exchange.”   revealed  good;  if we can’t,  then it’s hidden  good. The   Beach Gardens and host of the Jewish Schmooze Radio
      What is this supposed to mean? Why would the Torah shy   Ballerina of Auschwitz, Edith Eger, was a guest speaker   Show. Email him at
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