Avodah – Perek Shirah, 30th Tishrei, 5771

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Perek Shira

Perek Shirah: Rav Chaim Kanievsky – The Desert Is Hashem’s Showcase

The desert is hot, dry, and lifeless. Yet it takes up around one third of the Earth’s land surface. Why did Hashem make a world with so much “dead space”? Rav Chaim Kanievsky says that Hashem made the desert because from here we can understand that in the future Hashem will make the desert bloom. Obviously if Hashem made it, it will not stay barren forever.

The Radak says that Eretz Yisroel, Yerushalayim, and the Bais HaMikdash in their destruction are like the desert. They one time all bloomed, as the rain or Shefa from Hashem poured down on the world through this wonderful place. As the rain from Shamayim nourished our gashmiyos and ruchniyos, we grew to become big strong trees reaching the Shamayim with our avodah.

The desert says, “Yisusum Midbar V’tzia V’Sagel Arava V’Sifrach K’Chavatzeles”, the wilderness and the parched land shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose (Yeshaya 35:1). Desert plants can survive through the harsh desert climate, but they do not grow very tall. The day will yet come when the Bais HaMikdash will once again bring the rains down on our dried out neshamos, which have managed to survive all these years on a few drops of rain. When that happens, Am Yisroel will once again stand tall, covering the land and reaching the heavens. We will be Hashem’s showcase.

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Avodah – Perek Shirah, 29th Tishrei, 5771

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Perek Shira

Perek Shirah: The House Goose – The Only Living Eye Witness

The house goose sings “Hodu L’ashem Kiru Bishmo Hodi’u Ba’amim Alilosov”, thank Hashem, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people (Tehilim 105:1). Why the house goose? Why are they calling to all the nations.

Rav Sasson Chazan in his Sefer HaShira HaZos explains as follows. In Tehilim (117) it says, “Halelu Es Hashem Kol Goyim…” the goyim will praise Hashem for the kindness. The gemara in Pesachim (118b) as explained according to the meforshim, say that only the goyim who have plotted against us whose plots were constantly foiled by Hashem, know the amazing kindness that Hashem has done with us. We ourselves have no idea because these devious plans never came to fruition.

A house duck hangs around the house seeing the things that we do not. For example, a burglar may be stalking a Yid’s house in middle of the night, when suddenly the Yid wakes up to take a drink. The burglar is scared off and the only eyewitness is the house goose, taking this all in from the outside.

It is impossible for us to realize all the good Hashem does for us because much of it takes place behind our back. However the house goose is watching. Listen to it praise Hashem and follow suit, because in its song it is telling your story.

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Avodah – Perek Shirah, 28th Tishrei, 5771

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Perek Shira

Perek Shirah: Swim With The Fish, Listen Carefully For Directions

The Siach Yitzchok says that the fish are more fortunate that other creatures. They live in the water, a place where tumah, impurity has no power. That is why we find that any time Hashem speaks to a Navi outside the holy confines of Eretz Yisroel, like to Yechezkel and Daniel, it is always by the water. The fish sing “Kol Hashem Al HaMayim”, the voice of Hashem is on the water. They sing of their good fortune to live in the holy waters where the voice of Hashem still resonates.

Maybe we can add that water represents Torah. Torah, the gemara tells us does not become tamei, just like water. The world is a confusing place with all sorts of voices calling out at you from different directions. What to do, who to listen to? Dive into the torah drink it with thirst and swim its vast oceans. In this pure environment that can be recreated anywhere in the world, you too can tune out the static and noise echoing from all directions, and hear the voice of Hashem.

The wealthy ruler of the Volozhin district would come to speak to Rav Chaim Volozhin to ask his advice. It is said that this non-jew would tell Rav Chaim all his problems and all his dilemmas. All the while Rav Chaim would sway over his gemara until he finished speaking. Then Rav Chaim would look up and give his answer. We may never reach the level of Rav Chaim Volozhin but if it is peace of mind, clarity, and direction that you are looking for, you too can find it in the sea of Torah.

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Avodah – Perek Shirah, 27th Tishrei, 5771

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Perek Shira

Perek Shirah: The Day The Sun Will Stand Still

In times long gone by, people would worship the sun. This may seem ludicrous to us but it is more a reflection on our lack of understanding than of their lack of intelligence. The Rambam says that the heavenly bodies all recognize their creator and are not inanimate objects. They possess a soul and spirit and have great powers. We as Yehudim know however that these powers all come from Hashem and they cannot do anything against the will of their Creator. Rabbeinu Bachye says that one should not be proud that he doesn’t worship the sun until he comprehends the full capability of the sun. Only then, if you manage to understand that this powerful sun is only a servant of Hashem, may you boast that you are a believer in the true Hashem.

We are put on this world to be able to see beyond the mask of this world. Whether in the olden days when it was the sun, or now the technology and current events, we must see beyond the thin veil trying to conceal our Creator and true Master of our fate, whether it regards health, wealth, or happiness. It all comes from the One above. Not from a smiling or angry sun, not from a bullish or bearish market, and not from wonderful or disappointing people around us. If you can see beyond all that, then no doubt that Rabbeinu Bachye will testify that you are a true Eved Hashem.

The day will come when Hashem removes his mask and reveals himself as the King of all Kings, in his true glory. All the pretenders who were given free reign to fool us for so long will stand there totally powerless as the King ascends to His throne in plain sight of the entire universe and all of creation.

At Birchas HaChama we peer through the cloudiness of our minds and see the mighty sun for what it is. We celebrate the creation of the Hashem’s servant the sun, as it returns to the place where it was originally hung by Hashem 5769 years ago for the purpose of concealing the great light of Hashem.

The sun itself yearns for the day the that its second hand light will stop being a source of error by humanity and a tremendous Chillul Hashem. Every day the sun sings, “Shemesh Yarei’ach Amad Zevula L’Or Chitzecha Yihaleichu”, the sun and moon stand still in their habitation at the light of Your arrows as they go, at the shining of Your glittering spear (Chavakuk 3:11). The sun longs for the day when its light will be dimmed and the world will bask in the glow of the light of Hashem!

I am the sun, the mighty king of the sky
The most powerful man, can’t look me straight in the eye
People think I am the source of all light but I wonder why
I am simply a humble servant of my master on high

To conceal His brilliant light, Hashem made me His mask
To see through this ruse, is your life’s ultimate task
I yearn for the day when people will not question or ask
Together in Hashem’s light, you and I will both bask

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Avodah – Perek Shirah, 26th Tishrei, 5771

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Perek Shira

Perek Shirah: The Mule – If I Were Hashem I Would…

A wise man once proposed marriage to a beautiful woman telling her “with your good looks and my brains we will have the most incredible kids.” Her blunt response was “what happens if the kids have your looks and my brains?” Hashem made the world with an enormous array of creatures. Every creature he created no matter how destructive has benefits that outweigh the damage.

Man in his narrow view of things sees a donkey and horse and says “wow if we can get the benefit of the strengths of both these animals we can create the perfect animal”. The results speak for themselves. The mule cannot produce any offspring and is considered to be a most destructive animal. The gemara says (Chulin 7b) nobody kicked by a mule will survive. The lesson of the mule is that it is better to let Hashem run the world although we may have some very seemingly good ideas.

The Mule Sings “Yoducha Hashem Kul Malchei Aretz Ki Shamru Imrei Picha”. After seeing man’s handiwork compared to Hashem’s all the kings of the world will admit that it is worthwhile to let Hashem be the big boss!

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Avodah – Perek Shirah, 25th Tishrei, 5771

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Perek Shira

Perek Shirah: The Rivers Sing, What About The Mountains?

During the week leading up to Shavuos as my little son was singing the Har Sinai song, I was wondering why in Perek Shira the mountains don’t say Shira? The next day I said Perek Shira and when saying the Shira of the rivers, “Neharos Yimcha’u Kaf Yachad HaRim Yiraneinu”, let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing for joy together I realized the mountains do sing! But what are they singing about? Why don’t they sing alone? And what is their connection to the rivers?

Maybe we can offer as follows. Water comes from the skies in small drops. These drops fall on the mountain which channels them in small streams that turn into raging rivers whose rushing waters and roaring rapids sound like people clapping.

We know that Torah is compared to water. “Yaarof KaMatar Likchi” (Haazinu 32:2). Drops of Torah fall from Shamayim onto the mountain. The mountain is the Rebbi who responsible to put the torah together and pass it along to Am Yisroel. The mountain is merely a link in the chain from Shamayim. This why, although, “Hashem Moloch Gei’us Laveish”, Hashem dresses in pride (Tehilim 93:1), the Torah is delivered through a low and humble mountain who recognizes that it is really Hashem’s Torah and it plays only a middleman’s role. That is why the Torah was given on the humble Har Sinai through the most humble person on the face of the earth, Moshe Rabbeinu.

The mountain does not boast of its individual accomplishment. Only when it hears the loud noises of Am Yisroel learning Torah way downstream, does it delight in knowing that its mission was accomplished and the sounds of Torah indeed fill the world. “Neharos Yimcha’u Kaf” when the rivers roar with the sounds of torah, then, Yachad HaRim Yiraneinu, together with them but in the background the humble mountains will rejoice.

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Avodah – Perek Shirah, 22nd Tishrei, 5771

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Perek Shira

Perek Shirah: Shine Like The Moon

The moon rules the night. But does it really? The moon has no light of its own, it merely reflects the light of the sun. Some times the moon is full and shines bright. Sometimes it is so thin you can barely see it. Sometimes it is hidden and not visible at all. It doesn’t even come and go at a fixed time. Sometimes it shines a whole night and sometimes it sets very quickly right behind the sun.

The moon has nothing of its own, it is only a tributary of the sun, reflecting its light on the side of the earth that cannot see the hiding sun. The moon represents Klal Yisroel and each individual Yid. The sun represents Hashem. In this world Hashem is in hiding. We don’t have our own light, our task is to reflect Hashem’s hidden light on the world and make it a brighter place.

As much as we’d love to shine bright all the time, this is not in our control. Sometimes we are afforded the opportunity and resources to do great things and make a tremendous Kiddush Hashem. We also go through tougher periods where we try to stay afloat ourselves and have no opportunity to shine Hashem’s light elsewhere. This all depends on Hashem’s will and we must accept it happily.

The Moon sings (Tehilim 104:19), “Asa Yarei’ach LiMoadim” the moon is made to shine at unpredictable intervals. “Shemesh Yada Mivo’o”, only the sun knows when the moon will shine. The moon doesn’t ask, it takes advantage of every opportunity afforded it without question. Either way it sings a happy tune, eagerly awaiting the sun’s bright light so that it can light up the darkness of the night.

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