Hidden in Darkness

Problems are part of life and a source of strength if a person uses them properly. The midrash in Yalkut Malachim comments that a person sees from the black, not the white of his eye, as though the world is revealed through the darkness. The Hebrew for darkness is araphel לפרע. The Baal Haturim notes…

Elul: A Time of Grace

Sephardim start saying selichos from Rosh Chodesh Elul. Ashkenazim don’t start until almost the last week of Elul. Since Elul is a time of mercy, when G-d is especially receptive to our prayers, why don’t the Ashkenazim take advantage of the opportunity and start saying selichos, like the Sephardim, from Rosh Chodesh? The Sephardim say…

Seeing Is Believing

Chananiah, Mishal and Azaria cast themselves into the fiery furnace rather than bow down to an idol. “What did they see,” asks the Gemorah, “that they chose to die?” The Gemorah answers that they made a kal v’chomer from the frogs of Egypt, who threw themselves into the ovens: If the frogs, who are not…

The Whole Picture

G-d is the greatest artist of all. No one paints the way G-d paints. The whole world is His canvas and the entire pageant of history is His picture. But we don’t always recognize G-d’s technique. We don’t necessarily understand why this black line or that black shadow—the bitter things in life—are necessary if the…

When Giving is Really Giving (and when it’s not)

Avraham Avinu interrupts a moment of Divine revelation in order to receive some guests. From this we learn that hachnasas orchim (receiving guests) is greater than kabalas pnei hashechina (receiving the Divine Presence). What we would have characterized as rudeness on a cosmic scale becomes a moral example for all the generations. Evidently, Avraham knew…