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TorahAnytimes Newsletter TorahAnytime B'Chtav Edition #2

Parshat TorahAnytime B'Chtav Edition #2

Compiled and Edited by Rubin Kolyakov

Bchtav 3

TorahAnytime B'chtav    Print Edition

Shevat 5777 | February 2017

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Transforming Torah She’baal Peh

Into Torah She’bchtav

With an ever-increasing number of more than thirty thousand video and audio lectures, TorahAnytime is dedicated to providing viewers and listeners like you the most inspiring and engaging Torah content. Yet now, you can hold your favorite Torah lectures in your hand and read it and reread it.

TorahAnytime B’chtav aims at taking one of the many insightful audio lectures and bringing them to life in their entirety in written form. Transforming Torah She’baal Peh into Torah Sheb’chtav, the opportunity is now available to enjoy your favorite TorahAnytime lectures anytime and anywhere on paper. It is hoped that this added feature will enhance your learning experience and provide another avenue for you to continue growing as an inspired Jew.

In this special edition of TorahAnytime B’chtav, Ms. Chevi Garfinkel reveals the meaning and wisdom embedded within the eternal words of Ashrei. Showing how this beautiful Tefillah serves as no less than a roadmap to building and nurturing a genuine relationship with Hashem, the reader gains insight into many fundamental aspects of Jewish life. One will learn how Ashrei teaches us to continuously live with Hashem and feel His unconditional love and warmth, and surely gain a fresh perspective into the beauty of life as a Jew. After building greater appreciation for the precious gem that this Tefillah is, one can rest assured that the words of Ashrei will never again be viewed the same.

Team TorahAnytime


Ms. Chevi Garfinkel

Ashrei: A Roadmap to a Relationship with Hashem (Part 1)

If one would have to describe what the Tefillah of Ashrei encapsulates, it would be a roadmap to building a relationship with Hashem. In fact, it is for this reason that someone who recites Ashrei three times a day is termed a ben olam haba, worthy of inheriting the World to Come (Berachos 4a). Since Ashrei focuses on our connection to G-d and forces us to deepen our relationship with Him, it is a prayer most apropos for one to merit a blissful connection with G-d for eternity.

Analyzing each phrase of Ashrei individually offers tremendous insight and key tools into nurturing and developing this profound connection we can have with Hashem.

אשרי יושבי ביתך עוד יהללוך סלה

How fortunate are those who sit in the house of G-d; they will constantly be able to feel an emotional outpouring of Hallelukah!

This expression of Hallelukah is not an intellectual endeavor; it is an emotional outburst. We are striving to build a relationship wherein we live with Hashem on a constant basis.

This opening statement of Ashrei states our goal of life. Living with Hashem is not merely something we do; it defines our essence and purpose.

The notion that we dwell in Hashem’s house is meant to conjure up feelings of family security. When we live with G-d in His home, we are warmly embraced and kept safe.

אשרי העם שככה לו

Fortunate is the nation for whom this is so.

For the person who is able to live with this perspective, life is truly rich. Through constantly including Hashem into our experiences of life, life takes on the greatest meaning possible.

אשרי העם שד' אלקיו

Fortunate is the nation that Hashem is their G-d.

Isn’t this redundant? Hashem is G-d regardless of what we think or feel. What does this mean?

It is true that Hashem is everyone’s G-d, but feeling that you belong to Him and He cares for you is an entirely different relationship. There is no question that Hashem is fully committed to us, a reality tangibly experienced in Egypt. One of the major themes of Pesach is the fact that G-d showed us His willingness to turn the world upside down for our sake. Famous songs which praise the protagonist for “climbing the tallest mountain” or “traversing the expanse of the ocean” pale in comparison to what Hashem has done. He created the mountain and picked it up and fashioned the sea and miraculously split it. There is no doubt that Hashem is fully invested in us. The only question is how dedicated and invested are we in Him?

This phrase in Ashrei focuses on Hashem as our G-d. It does not, however, mention the fact that we are G-d’s nation. We do not say, “Fortunate are we to be G-d’s nation;” and that is because such a truth is already well established. Whether we like it or not, we are Hashem’s children. It is an irrevocable fact. What is emphasized here in Ashrei is that which we need to develop. Building and increasing our level of attachment to Hashem as our G-d is the goal of life.

Creating and fostering this genuine relationship, however, requires that we refrain from projecting our own insecurities on Hashem. A classic instance in which this played out is the Sin of the Meraglim. After scouting out the Land of Israel, the Spies returned with a negative report and wondered how they would ever be able to conquer a land host to unimaginably large giants and fruits. What were they afraid of? Didn’t Hashem guarantee their success? Moreover, Hashem had already performed wondrous miracles in Egypt and the Red Sea. Any slight uncertainty of Hashem’s capacity is akin to doubting someone who just lifted three thousand pounds of weights of being capable of lifting a barbell. What prompted the Jews to recoil in apprehension?

The answer is that they doubted not Hashem’s power, but His willingness to act on their behalf. They were not scared because they felt Hashem couldn’t save them; they were scared because they felt Hashem wouldn’t save them. What did they do to deserve Hashem’s unmitigated love and protection? Didn’t the Jews just commit the heinous sin of Cheit Ha’Egel? Why should Hashem wipe out humongous giants for a rebellious nation?

But that was exactly the problem: they projected their own feelings of inadequacy on Hashem. After G-d had forgiven the Jewish people for the Cheit Ha’Egel, they should have realized how He truly felt about them. Hashem had already told them, “I still love you; I am here for you.” The issue was not that Hashem did not forgive the Jewish people; the issue was that the Jewish people did not forgive the Jewish people. It was as if the Jews were saying, “I know, Hashem, that You said ‘Salachti kid’varecha – I have forgiven you,’ but I still cannot come to terms over the fact that I was at fault. And because I have a problem with myself, You should too.”

“Fortunate is the nation that Hashem is their G-d” reflects an understanding that despite being responsible for our choices and their consequences, our actions in no way impair Hashem’s love for us. While we must honestly recognize our faults and foibles and deal with them maturely, G-d’s feelings for us surpass everything.

It is these three phrases – Ashrei yoshvei vei’techa, Ashrei ha’am she’kacha lo, Ashrei Ha’am she’Hashem Elokav – which form the basic foundation of any relationship a person can have with G-d. If we would have to characterize the nature of this profound connection to Hashem in one word it would be: unconditional. Without internalizing the unconditional love Hashem feels for each and every one of us, our basis of a meaningful relationship with Hashem is severely shaky. The three repetitions of Ashrei are intended to emphasize this crucial idea. Our connection to Hashem is not defined by, reduced to or dependent on a choice or action we make. While our decisions most definitely impact our intimate relationship with G-d, they do not lessen His love for us.

Considering this, we can begin to appreciate one of the many reasons praying comes across as such a difficult endeavor. “Who are we,” we wonder, “to unburden ourselves before G-d? It is not His problem; it is my problem!” But such an error in thought is the product of misunderstanding G-d’s feelings for us. Even for what appears as a petty, trivial issue we are to turn to Hashem for help.

Our Problem, Not My Problem

Imagine the following scenario. You need to attend a class which begins at eight o’clock and is a fifteen-minute drive away. Knowing this, you decide you will leave half an hour before eight. And indeed, you make it out of the house at your expected time of departure. But then, as soon as you turn the corner, you notice that right in front of you is a large oil truck blocking the road. Not moving even an inch, you begin worrying about arriving late.

Is it hard to turn to Hashem for help under such circumstances? Not really. You did everything possible from your end, and the rest is for Hashem to take care of. You responsibly left your house on time and took all the necessary steps to being punctual. Now, after taking care of your half of the bargain, the remaining half is on G-d’s shoulders. “You put me in this difficult situation to begin with,” you say to Hashem, “and I feel comfortable asking You to take me out of it.”

But now imagine a slightly different scenario. Considering that you have a time management issue, you do not leave the house at seven-thirty, but at five minutes to eight. Knowing that you did not give yourself enough time and people are waiting for you, will you be inclined to daven to Hashem for help? Less likely than in the above situation. After all, you say, isn’t it my fault? Why should Hashem have to fix up my mess? Under such conditions, we do not feel it our place to ask for help.

The truth, however, is that precisely then we need Hashem’s help most. We mistakenly believe that as long as something goes wrong despite us, not because of us, we can turn to Him. But when it is our fault and our own doing, then we have no right to daven that things end up alright. But that is a terrible mistake. G-d is always with us during our moments of difficulty and wishes for us to place our burdens on Him.

This is not only true about our external issues, but internal issues as well. When working on middos, relationships or struggling to make smart decisions, Hashem is there for you. “I am always with you,” He says, “because I created you with these issues.” Even when it seems as if it is only your problem, the truth is the opposite. It is never just your problem; it is always our problem.

And this is true even at a time when we find ourselves doing something we know we shouldn’t. Quite literally.

Some time ago, a previous high school friend of mine was working on her observance of Shabbos. Although she was not too religious, she had grown to feel a connection to Hashem. One Friday night, however, she was faced with an inner struggle. Overcome by a desire to attend a party, she headed outside and gave up on keeping Shabbos that week.

Arriving there and entering the stairwell, she slowly made her way down the steps. But then she paused. Thinking about what she was doing, she began questioning herself. She deep down wished she possessed the conviction to scrupulously observe Shabbos with all its detail. And so, she uttered a heartfelt prayer. “Hashem, I want to keep Shabbos, but it is very difficult for me. I now desperately need Your help. I know it was a mistake to get involved with this in the first place, but now I need You.”

She then reached the end of the staircase. Immediately upon opening the door and stepping foot inside, she heard the words, “That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion…” To her disbelief, at the exact moment she crossed the threshold inside, a popular song was being played. Halting in her tracks, she didn’t take a step further. She could only imagine that Hashem was standing in the corner, in the spotlight and reminding her of her religion.

Without further ado, she turned around and closed the door. She was now intent on returning home and reopening her own door to the wonderful aura of Shabbos.

While we may at times feel forlorn and beset with problems, Hashem is always there at our side. Even during the most difficult of times and places, He accompanies us. And then sometimes, to our surprise, we receive a tap on the shoulder or whisper into our ear. It is Hashem speaking to us, “I am here with you. You may not see Me, but if you listen close enough, you will most definitely hear Me. I am right in the corner… where you least expected.”

Dovid Hamelech was someone who inculcated these truths and principles and understandably felt tremendous joy and admiration when contemplating his relationship to Hashem. And it is this same feeling which he bequeathed to us through the eternal words of Ashrei.

ארוממך אלקי המלך

I will elevate You, my G-d, the King

In our efforts to draw close to Hashem, we must ensure that we do not make Him smaller than He truly is. While we try to bring Hashem into our lives, we can never reduce Him to human terms. There must be a balance of ahava and yirah, love and awe. We are to feel close to Hashem, yet simultaneously realize that He is always above and beyond us.

But even while there exists such respect and awe, that does not create distance between us. To the contrary, it fosters a tremendous sense of pride. Think to yourself, “Why would someone so great want to have anything to do with little old me?” Ahava and yirah are not mutually exclusive, but rather principles with complement one another. Healthy fear of G-d does not mean that we are to completely remove our love of G-d. Our love and fear should reinforce one another.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Milstein offers a beautiful mashal explaining the relationship between ahava and yirah. How do we know when to focus on ahava and when to focus on yirah?

Every car is equipped with a gas pedal and brake pedal. When a person is driving properly, the gas pedal will be used the most. Every so often, however, you need to press on the brakes and come to a standstill. Whether it is bad weather or traffic which requires extra caution, you will switch to mainly pressing on the brake pedal. And in the event that your father is with you in the car, you will hear quite often, “Don’t press on the brakes too hard! You’ll wear them out!”

When driving through life, we are also given a gas pedal and brake pedal: ahavas Hashem and yiras Hashem. Most of the time, we are meant to express and feel emotionally stirred to love Hashem. However, there are times, when we are meant to put on the brakes and exercise yiras shamayim. And that is when we find ourselves nearing a bad neighborhood and facing hostile traffic. When we notice our conversation taking a bad turn and suspiciously leading to lashon hara, we must put our foot on the brakes and remind ourselves of the irreparable damage speaking negatively of others can cause. When there is a heightened level of desire to sin, we are to momentarily remove our foot from the gas pedal of ahavas Hashem and switch to the brake pedal of yiras Hashem.

If a person however only contemplates the punishment for sin, their car will sooner than later wear out. Love of G-d is to compose the bulk of our relationship with Hashem. It is to form the foundation and energizer of our decision making and provide us with the impetus to spiritually grow. But then again, without a brake pedal, we are in perilous danger of getting into an accident. In short, while on a general basis that which is to fuel us is ahavas Hashem, when a particular challenge presents itself and the yetzer hara appears on the scene, we must be prepared to hit the brakes.

בכל יום אברכך

Every day I shall bless You

The name of Hashem represents that which we can understand. When the police arrive at the scene of a crime, the first action they carry out is dusting for fingerprints. Hashem’s name is His “fingerprint,” so to speak. While we may be unable to see G-d directly, we can see His hand all over our life. He may be way beyond human comprehension, yet He is also so close to us and wishes to enjoy a personal and direct relationship with each and every one of us.

Gratitude is the basis upon which relationships are built. The recognition that Hashem has taken such great care of us increases our degree of emotional connection with Him. Making blessings, in this regard, is not merely an expression of thanks, but the means whereby we connect to G-d. Baruch Hashem is not a phrase limited to blessings over food or performance of a mitzvah; it is a phrase intended to pervade our lives.

In our relationship with Hashem, there are three levels of appreciating our gifts of life. Take, for example, a person who has a car. The fact that he or she was able to safely drive and arrive at a needed destination even one time facilitates a certain degree of gratitude to Hashem. Everything went smoothly and they made it there safely. But then, if one wishes to reflect deeper upon G-d’s beneficence, they will quickly realize that a stable car is not merely a one-time gift, but a continual benefit. Day in and day out, Hashem allows them to comfortably drive from home to work and back.

Yet there is an even profounder degree of recognition. Not only has Hashem allowed the car you drove yesterday to function properly today; He has today given you a “new car.” Today is a new day completely separate and disconnected from yesterday. All because yesterday you had a working car does not mean that today you will have one. With this level of appreciation, one’s gifts of life are viewed on a day-to-day basis. Each new day brings with it new blessings. Living with such an attitude means that one ponders, “All because I had a car yesterday, who says I will have one today? Thank you Hashem for giving me a new car today!”

The same is true of other aspects of our world. On the deepest level, the sun which rose yesterday is not the same which rose today. Today, independent of yesterday, G-d commanded anew that the sun rise. Ashrei guides us to feel this highest form of gratitude and highest degree of closeness with G-d. For someone who has a great sense of humor, they should consciously tell themselves, “Thank you Hashem. You not only endowed me with this ability, but continually provide me with a sense of humor.” We all experience moments when we lose a part of ourselves. During times of hardship, we may find it difficult to maintain our natural sense of humor. But it is there that Hashem arrives at our side to help. Recognizing this not only increases our degree of gratitude, but the quality of our relationship with Hashem.

Consider the scenario of a shadchan mentioning to you the name of a prospective boy or girl. How would you feel if the shadchan tells you, “Even though things didn’t go as smoothly as you and I wished, I will always have you in mind in the future”? Your level of respect and appreciation for this person will immediately increase because they care about you. Each and every time they recommend you a shidduch and reinvest in your future, your feelings of gratitude and love for them develop.

The same is true of our connection to Hashem. He invests in us every day and grants us new opportunities again and again.

This in fact is the foundation of self-esteem. When you feel that you are worthy of being reinvested in time after time, you develop a healthy self-image. On a personal level, I feel privileged and a tremendous degree of gratitude to every student who attends my Torah lectures. I remember once asking a girl who regularly attends my classes, “Don’t you think I always repeat myself?” “Yeah, all the time,” she said. “So why do you keep on coming back?” I asked. And she said such brilliant words I will never forget. “I don’t come to hear something new; I come to hear something true.” Knowing that a girl invests her time and effort in attending my classes means a lot.

'גדול ד

Great is Hashem

If we keep on dusting for Hashem’s fingerprints, what will we find? His hands are all over our life. He has a big hand in everything that occurs to each and every one of us. And once we can understand that Hashem has a big hand in everything, we can come to appreciate that He also has big shoulders. Investing so much into our lives – personality traits, childhood years of development, behavioral patterns – Hashem bears a responsibility for us. My problems are no longer my problems only; they are our problems. I do my best and Hashem does the rest. And when I don’t do my best, Hashem helps me clean up the mess. We are a team; we are in this together.

We must learn to put our trust and responsibility on Hashem’s shoulders. It is not that He merely knocks down the first domino and leaves the rest to us. He consistently helps us throughout our entire lives. From the beginning through the middle until the very end He is there with us. While we tend to reach out for help during the incipient stages of any endeavor we undertake, Hashem has a hand in our lives no less tomorrow than today. The domino effect is an illusion when it comes to our relationship with Hashem. At every stage of our life, G-d is there setting the stage and helping us along.

When speaking of Hashem’s greatness, we refer to His totality of kindness. Accessible at any moment, we can turn to Hashem and talk to Him as we please. There is no human being who is accessible to help another person twenty-fours of the day. Besides for needing to care for a family and children and themselves, time constraints disallow people to have constant availability. But Hashem is always available. At any time, any place and any situation, He is there. And this is meant quite literally.

Imagine you find yourself speaking lashon hara. Precisely at that time, turn to Hashem and say, “I need help; this is our mess. Please give me the strength to stop doing this.” Or picture that you begin talking to someone with a hostile edge in your voice. Say to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, “I need your help right now because I am about to lose it completely with this child! My anger and ego is our problem.”

The foundation of our relationship with Hashem is gadol. The sad irony is that when we need Hashem most and ought to talk to him, we tend to remain silent. But it is exactly when we find ourselves in a difficult situation that we must turn to that One whose fingerprints overlay our life.

ולגדולתו אין חקר

And to His greatness, there is no investigation

While it is true that we cannot begin to investigate the essence of G-d, we can indeed investigate His involvement in our life. The more we investigate, the more we will realize that Hashem is not only a part of our successes but also our disappointments, frustrations and problems. But then again, always remember the concept, “Don’t tell Hashem how big your problems are; tell your problems how big Hashem is.”

Concurrent to our search for G-d’s fingerprints, we must always remember that He is gadol. He is above and beyond human comprehension. As we begin to see Him in our life, we will soon realize that there are many things which happen to us which are incomprehensible. There will be times when we see fingerprints, but cannot make out the hand which imprinted them.

דור לדור ישבח מעשיך

From generation to generation I will praise Your deeds

Throughout every generation, our appreciation for G-d’s greatness in nature increases. Even though, for example, the human eye has not changed over history in its capacity to enable man to see, our understanding of its unbelievable complexity has advanced. Contemplating that there are one hundred and fifty million rods of color in a person’s eye is an astonishing fact.

In every ensuing era, there is more opportunity to promote our appreciation of Hashem’s amazing handiwork. Shevach is a term used to express an appreciation in investment. There are certain things in life and in the world for which our admiration of them wanes over time. But this is not the case when it comes to the Divine wisdom behind nature. The more we delve into it, the more impressive it becomes.

וגבורותך יגידו

And Your greatness I will relate

Gevurah connotes the overpowering of one thing over another. When we see Hashem controlling and overriding the laws of nature, we are essentially seeing His fingerprints. Events of miraculous nature occurring throughout our lives are there for us to tell others about. We are to relate G-d’s grandeur to others and celebrate a “personal Chanukah.” Stories which demonstrate Hashem’s hand and involvement in the world are powerful and important reminders of just how much He is a part of our lives. Rav Avigdor Miller in fact writes that included in this phrase is the obligation to educate our children.

Classes aretaught about art and music appreciation. What does it mean to learn about appreciating art? If it is pretty, I appreciate it already; and if it is not, what will further study accomplish?

The answer is that sometimes a person can look at something and think to him or herself, “I can do that!” Just look at my hair Monday morning, and you will see a masterful picture of modern art. But such a perspective is shortsighted because there is tremendous wisdom to the world that far surpasses our limited intelligence. While a periphery glance of an object may yield an image of a triangle or circle, a deeper, more acute perception will provide a totally different picture. Connoisseurs as well develop over time a rich appreciation for the taste and texture of fine wine.

It is our responsibility to educate ourselves and our children to be world and life appreciators. It is a talent and art to learn to appreciate life.

The Torah relates in Parshas Bereishis that the trees and grass had not yet sprouted by the sixth day of creation for, “Hashem had not sent rain upon the earth and there was no man to work the soil” (Bereishis 2:5). Only after creating Adam and placing him in Gan Eden did the rain fall for the first time.

The difficulty with this Pasuk, notes Rashi, is the fact that Hashem waited. Even after creating Adam on the sixth day, there would be no work for him to do to the trees or grass. Immediately upon causing it to rain, all plant and organic life would sprout by itself even without man’s intervention. For what reason then did Hashem postpone allowing the rain to fall and trees to grow?

Rashi in addressing this question is essentially dealing with one of the most fundamental questions of life: What is man’s purpose in this world? The answer to this question is not only the resolution to what Adam HaRishon’s purpose was, but what our purpose is as well. It is the reason why we woke up this morning and why, G-d willing, we are going to wake up tomorrow. People spend thousands of dollars and hike mountains in search of the answer to this question, but Rashi provides it for us in five words for free:

Why was Adam’s creation a necessary component in allowing it to rain? Because without Adam, no one would be around to recognize the goodness of the rain –“אין מכיר בטובתן של גשמים.”

That was the intent in creating Adam. He was simply to recognize the fact that it rained and that such an incident was good.

Seekers, Recognizers and Revelers in Good

In other words, Rashi is telling us that our primary purpose in this world is to be a seeker of good, a recognizer of good and reveler in good. Very loosely translated, man’s purpose of existence is to “dance in the rain.”

This good which forms our focal point of life encompasses all aspects – physical good, emotional good and spiritual good. Obviously, physical good is only beneficial providing it does not in any way compromise our emotional or spiritual good. But the physical good which is healthy and wholesome, revel in them. Revel in the cheesecake as long as you do not eat the whole cheesecake at once. This is our job: to be a seeker of good, recognizer of good and reveler in good and dance all along the way.

But at times we confront a slight problem. Sometimes we have our dancing shoes on and are ready to dance, but there is not a cloud in the sky. And it is difficult to dance in the rain when there is no rain. There will certainly be days when a torrential downpour drenches us and it is very easy to revel in the physical, emotional and spiritual goodness of life. With rain everywhere, we can easily begin dancing.

However, that is not always the case. Rain does not fall every day and everywhere we go. But just as important and obligated we are to seek, recognize and revel in the goodness of the outer world, we must learn to seek, recognize and revel in the goodness of our inner world. And within the goodness of our inner world, there exists a work of magnificent art. G-d does not create junk; He creates masterpieces. And each and every one of us is a masterful work of art.

Yet, our job is not merely to recognize the good within ourselves. We are to as well recognize the good within others.

My friend Ahuva, whose name fits her perfectly, is an incredible, loving individual. Whenever I go hiking with her, it takes twice as long as everybody else. This is because, whenever you hike, you inevitably meet people. And Ahuva, being her wonderful self as a professional social worker, will extend a hello to everyone we meet and strike up a conversation. It is not uncommon that within minutes people will be telling her how much they love their mother’s apple pie.

As I myself stand there taking in the breathtaking scene of the mountains and smell the pine trees, Ahuva is there cordially greeting others. I can honestly say that the enjoyment I have when looking at the beautiful sights of G-d’s nature is what Ahuva experiences when she meets a person. That is a very rare skill. She gets just as much out of meeting a new person as seeing a magnificent mountain.

This is why I like hiking with Ahuva. I teach her how to enjoy the trees and she teaches me how to enjoy the people we meet in between the trees. But that is our job in life: to be seekers, recognizers and revelers of good not only in ourselves, but in others.

At times, recognizing the good is easy and does not require much effort. But other times, we head outside and there is no cloud in the sky. What then can we do? What is our job then?

The first thing to do when facing such circumstances is take off your dancing shoes temporarily and put on your walking shoes. When you do this, though, you may have to walk a bit to find a rain cloud. Sometimes, after a while, you will find yourself in a monsoon; other times, however, all that may be there are some tiny drops of rain. And when the latter is the case, you must locate that drop of rain, run underneath it and stick out your tongue. And then you dance in that drop.

A dear friend of mine, unfortunately, lost one of her closest friends. Passing away at a young age, it was a tremendous loss not only for my friend, but for so many others. She was literally a walking piece of sunshine who had the amazing ability of making everyone around her better.

Some time after she passed away, her sister planned on getting married. My friend was now stuck in a difficult dilemma. How could she dance at the wedding of her best friend’s sister without her best friend? While it was a very joyous occasion, everywhere she looked, she saw her friend. When she saw her friend’s father, she saw her friend. And when she saw her friend’s mother, she saw her friend. Trying to keep herself together, she was having a very hard time. There was not even one cloud in the sky.

But this is why we are here in the world. We are to be seekers, recognizers and revelers in good. Always remember that phrase.

When I talked to her later as she headed home from the wedding, she told me, “There were moments during the wedding when I felt I was coming apart. I was totally going to lose it. Although I didn’t want to dampen the joy of the wedding and my emotional tears would certainly not have comforted the family, I struggled to maintain my composure.

“But let me tell you something. At every one of those moments, someone came over to me and said the perfect words. Nothing made me feel completely better, but it helped me keep myself together for at least another half-hour. That was how I made it through the wedding. The wedding was excruciatingly difficult, but I know Hashem was holding my hand.”

This is the art of appreciating life. During moments of difficulty, everything can turn around and improve. All we have to do is find that drop of rain.

This is what Ashrei teaches us. Life is about living with Hashem. Even when we do not know what He is doing behind the scenes, we can rest assured that He is always holding our hand. And when He is holding our hand, even if we will have to walk far to find that single cloud, we can look forward to becoming soaking wet as we jubilantly dance in the rain.

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