Simcha is Always Welcome
A word from the Desk of Dina Gourarie, Sydney, Australia
The Gemora (Taanis 22a), relates that R’ Beroka met Eliyahu Ha’Navi in the market place and asked him if there were any people there destined for Olam Habah (the world to come). Eliyahu identified two individuals. Intrigued, R’ Beroka approached and asked them what were their occupations?
They replied: “We are comedians who bring joy to those who are depressed.”
The Rebbe (see Shaar Simcha Ubitochon B’Hashem pg 81 onwards), points out that although the primary source of Simcha is Torah and Mitzvahs, nevertheless, often it can be derived from simple mundane experiences. This is an important concept because it allows even those who are simple and involved in the mundane to both give and receive joy.
The above story emphasises the power of this idea. It takes place in the ‘market place’ - a place of mundane activity away from the halls of Torah and Tefila. Yet a little comedy bringing happiness to the downtrodden guaranteed two people (long before their time was up) a place in Olam Habah.
As often quoted by the Rebbe, even in the month of Av a strategy to decrease any form of negativity is through (permissible) Simcha. Use the power of joy and bring blessing to you and others.
I Said NO Because I love you!
A word from the desk of Mrs.Chanie Myers, Bratislava, Slovakia
The name of the month of Av teaches a profound lesson regarding the essence of Av and our relationship with G-d during this time. As a rule, all Jewish months have names which are related to the spiritual life-force of that specific month. Two examples are: the month in which Rosh Hashanah falls, Tishrei, which comes from the Aramaic word "Tishri", meaning, "Let it begin"; and, Nissan, in which we celebrate Pesach, derived from the word "Nissim", miracles. Then along comes the saddest, least-auspicious month on the calendar, Av meaning...father??? This name is intentional and comes to teach us the role of a parent. Unlike friends, who are considered devoted when they provide total acceptance and empathy, parents are entrusted to provide children with education, guidance and direction. If parents create a healthy emotional environment where children are confident in their parent’s love and concern for them, they will readily accept the discipline and limitations which parents sometimes set. Unlike other months in the Jewish calendar, when G-d saved, protected, spoiled and showed His love for us through miracles, in Av G-d reprimanded us. However, despite our tears and protests, and despite His wrath and disappointment, the name Av reminds us that G-d always remains our loving Father even during tough times – no sin can diminish or erase the everlasting bond between us. Our job is to rejoice in the task He has given us of transforming His home here on earth into a fitting dwelling place for His presence amongst us.
Sources: Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson
A Take Away From the Challah
A word from the desk of Mrs. Dena Schusterman, Atlanta, Georgia
It’s sinful to speak ill of others.
We are even reproached from judging others—-until we stand in their shoes.
Yet, it’s natural to judge.
So we are back to square one of thinking unhelpful thoughts, which can lead to speaking badly. What is a woman (man,or child too) to do?
Learn from the candles, learn from the challah, learn from Shabbos.
Before Shabbos we separate the bread. Creating divine challot.
As we welcome Shabbos we light the candles. We bring light into our dark homes.
As Shabbos leaves we light the torch of Havdalah.Its name is separation.
What are all these actions telling us?
They tell us about discernment.
Instead of judgment,
Separate yourself like the piece of challah you took.
Say to yourself, “That action is not for me.” Notice you can be different.
Use distinctions and leave the judgment behind.
Instead of judgment,
Illuminate like the light of the Shabbos candles.
Say to yourself, “I need more information to understand what’s going on.” Leave the feeling of bumping around in the dark behind.
Instead of judgment,
Use the shadows and warmth of the Havdalah torch to create boundaries.
Say to yourself, “I am me, you are you. We are different, we don’t need to be the same. “
The separation and diversity is what enriches us.
Through this process I take more time to notice what is unusual or not a fit for me. I feel safe, instead of anxious about another and her ways. I think I am able to judge less and wish well instead.
Source: RCS JLI Pause and Affect, A Shabbat Outlook
Challah- A Powerful Reminder of the Divine
From the Desk of Mrs. Golda Junik, London, England
The Torah instructs us to ‘donate’ “Challah.” (Bamidbar (Numbers) 15:18-21). The Biblical Mitzvah determines that a professional baker separates one out of forty-eight parts, while a lay baker (at home or elsewhere) separates one out of twenty-four parts.  The simple reason the professional baker separates less dough is because he is baking to earn a livelihood. A private homemaker, who usually kneads a smaller quantity, needs to make the gift a suitable one.
 On a deeper level, the observance of this commandment possesses a powerful reminder of the Provider of all food. Preparing food is a routine activity and we often lose focus on the miracle of food’s availability. A professional baker, who is reliant upon a fruitful planting season, has more opportunity to be reminded of the Divine Source of the food. He normally monitors the developments of the process, and thereby witnesses Heavenly providence throughout the progression of the flour manufacturing. A lay person usually focuses only on the final product. He must give away a greater percentage, to have a greater awareness of the Heavenly Supplier. Ample opportunities are available to focus on the routine of life. By connecting the seemingly routine and mundane experiences to the Master of the Universe, one realizes how fortunate every healthy and successful person really is.
May we always see the Hand of Hashem in our daily interactions, and be blessed with healthy Shidduchim, wealth and joy, and Nachas in great abundance. May we always have the faith and trust that Hashem will send one’s Bashert with open and revealed
Sources: 1. Ateres Zahav 2. Rambam 3. Lubavitcher Rebbe, Biurim Leperush Rashi Bamidbor, Likutei Sichos volume 18:5