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FRUMToronto Articles Thoughts for the Week

Inspirational words of Torah from Gedolei Yisroel.

Blog Image: Hakhel.jpg
Ma'aser Sheini and Ma'aser Ani
On Rosh Chodesh Elul 5695 (1935), Rav Dessler, Z’tl, wrote the following advice in a letter to his son:
“...My dear son, please remember what is before you, the Day of Judgment, which requires great preparation.  You must daven from the depths of the heart to arouse Rachmei Shomayim (Mercy from Heaven) that we merit Heavenly Assistance, and that Hashem gives us success in attaining Teshuvah from the depths of the heart, for this is the ikar (essence) through which we can emerge innocent in justice B’ezras Hashem” (Michtav M’Eliyahu Volume 4, page 313).

Practical Suggestion:  Beginning today and until Rosh Hashanah, in the fifth brocha of Shemone Esrei, Hashiveinu, Avinu, l’Sorasecha, have sincere kavana for the simple meaning of the words, asking Hashem to bring us closer to Torah, to His Service and to Teshuvah Shlayma.

Remember, there are no limits to what we can accomplish with Siyata D’Shmaya.  Just one sincere tefillah can get us there!

Special Note Two:  During the month of Elul, we strive to come closer to Hashem in preparation for the Yomim Noraim.  In fact, we add Tehillim Chapter 27 (“L’Dovid Hashem Ori VeYishi”) beginning on Rosh Chodesh Elul.  We all know that the word “Ori” refers to Rosh Hashana, which is light, and the word “Yishi” refers to Yom Kippur, which is salvation.  This being said, what word in L’Dovid  refers to Elul itself?!  Some have suggested that its second word, “Hashem,” alludes to Elul, for it is during this time that we are to feel Hashem closer to us.  Accordingly, we suggest that our special Shemone Esrei project for the next day be to look for the word “Atta”--You--not only within the context of the last words of each Bracha (“Baruch Atta Hashem”), but also within the entire Bracha itself.  Feel the fact that Hashem is in front of you (Nochach) when you recite this word, and try to understand why it was placed at that point by the Anshei K’neses Hagedolah.

To put our goals in perspective, to date we have tried to accomplish a better Kavannah and understanding in Shemone Esrei for “Hashem Elokeinu”, “Rachamim”, “Chesed”, and now “Atta”.

Special Note Three:  It is interesting to note that the Torah requires us to give Ma’aser Sheini in the first and second, and then again fourth and fifth years, of the Shemittah cycle, while requiring Maaser Ani to the poor in the third and sixth years of the cycle--after having brought Maaser Sheini to Yerushalayim in each of the previous two years.  There is a great lesson here.  One first recognizes and realizes through the Ma’aser Sheni that his material possessions are truly Hashem’s--as he goes up to Yerushalayim with the Ma’aser Sheni at Hashem’s command, and is then infused with Yiras Shamayim while consuming it within the Holy City (see Baba Basra 21A and Tosfos there).  After attaining this knowledge and state, he can then give Ma’aser Ani, the tithe to the poor, with the proper feelings and understanding.  Let us attempt to learn from this essential teaching.  At this time of year, we may be asked to give more Tzedakah than usual--perhaps more than in all prior months of the year combined!  That being said, we must be careful to recognize and realize before we express a sigh, or a feeling of incapability or even annoyance, that the Torah teaches us an important order--first there is Ma’aser Sheini, and then Maaser Ani--which means that we must first realize to whom the money really belongs, and then feel the merit of giving whatever we reasonably can--based upon this knowledge.  We must further always remember that it is BeHashgacha Pratis that this particular person came to our door, came over to us in Shul, or sent us an envelope, or that we noticed that ad or flyer, or that we know the person in charge of this parlor meeting, or that our neighbor is involved in the collection for that family or Chasuna.  Tzedakah not only means charity, it means righteousness (the first letters of which are “right”).  Hashem, with His tzedaka opportunities for us, is allowing us to understand the lesson of Ma’aser Sheni and Ma’aser Ani, and of acquiring merit in a unique and particular way, designed especially for us.  Giving Tzedakah over the next month in the right frame of mind and with the right attitude can take us a long way on the “right” path for the coming year!

Special Note Four:  When we hear about people doing a Cheshbon HaNefesh at this time of year, it is not fairy tale, or even for the Tzaddikim of yesteryear, but is an actual and wonderful reality, even for our generation.  We obtained the list [provided by the following link] of a Ba’al HaBayis, a working man, who had prepared a sheet of his own items to think about or work upon for this month.  Obviously, we are publishing it with a goal of anonymity, and do not know if he reviews the list throughout the day or chooses something different everyday to focus upon, but, clearly, just preparing a list is an important first step.  Everyone can and should do the same in their own unique, personal and wonderful way.

Hakhel MIS

Posted 8/26/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)

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