HOW DID WE DO AND WHAT DID WE LEARN?
Each vaad begins with a brief review of last week's avoda (homework). The avoda was to be gentle and "extra-sensitive" to others in all our inter-personal relationships. Sounds simple? It is not an easy thing to do. The interesting word here is "extra-sensitive." Isn't being sensitive adequate? That certainly is a challenging task, in itself. The importance of the "extra" is that often we think we are being kind enough, sensitive enough or nice enough. Is that really enough? It is so difficult to be gentle and extra-sensitive to others that the "extra" is very important. We need to be extra vigilant with ourselves and work extra hard in order to achieve the level of gentleness and sensitivity that is necessary for peace in our relationships and throughout our lives. Are we going through our days being thinking only of how we view a situation? Or are being extra-sensitive to what someone else may be experiencing? To be sensitive is to just for a brief moment think about someone else's perspective but to be extra-sensitive is to take an extra moment to think about what that other person may be experiencing. This will usually bring a completely new light to the situation. Then you realize that by behaving in a gentle sensitive manner, you have just created a situation of peace in your home, on the street or wherever you may be. That you have also touched the lives of others in a positive, loving way. The results are "extra" spectacular.
THE POWER OF THE PAUSE.....
One of the members shared an experience of having a parking space taken from her after driving around for 20 minutes looking for a place to put her car. What to do? Should she just politely back up and give away what was rightfully hers? Or go to the car and kindly inform the driver to what she had done, since she was probably not aware that she had taken something from someone that was patiently waiting before her? How does one behave with sensitivity to others without feeling that they are submitting once again and not standing up for what they believe is right? The answers are revealed in the text and the avoda (homework) of the last vaad. This is where the extra-sensitivity comes to life. The location was a hospital parking lot, not a shopping mall. Extra-sensitivity brings to light that most everyone in that lot looking for a space is in a state of intense emotion and anxiety. Hospitals are not usually cheerful places, except for the maternity ward. To quote Rabbi Miller, "anger is punishing ourselves for other people's faults." Take the time to pause. Take time to re-channel that button that was triggered into not punishing ourselves. Judge the situation. If it is not a situation that can have a positive outcome, one in which what you want to say will be received, nurtured or well-taken, it would be best to take time to pause and not enter into a discussion at that time. If we react immediately, without pausing, we will only receive a negative effect which will be counter-productive and backfire. It's always better to take an "extra" moment to pause. It's a very powerful moment.
THE MUSSAR OF PURIM
The story of Purim reveals a true enemy to the Jewish people, not only a physical one, but a spiritual one. That spiritual enemy is doubt. Everything else in life is clear to us but doubt gives us room to get lost and pull away from Hashem. Purim is about Haman who was an Amalakite. Amalek was a nation that couldn't handle the fact that the Jews had special favor, so they attacked. We doubted that fact that maybe Hashem isn't there for us .But, Moshe had lifted up his hands towards Heaven committing the Jewish People to Hashem and Mordechai did the same thing. Hashem is looking for us and waiting for us to talk to him 24/7. He is waiting for us to shower His blessings and rewards upon us. But what are we doing all day? We are busy with our distractions. We don't have the time, the energy or the interest to get close to Hashem. So... sometimes, He gives us a little pinch, a little reminder to lift our hands (our eyes and our hearts) towards Heaven because our troubles bring us closer to Him. So, why not try to take time from our distractions to dispel the doubt? Why not take a little time from our busy-ness and our business to reach up to Hashem and stay connected (before we get a little pinch) and open up our arms to receive the blessings He is waiting to pour down upon us.
What is shaloch manos and why now? It is a gift basket sent to at least 2 different people which includes 2 different food items, each with a different blessing. Sending shaloch manos gives us the opportunity to dispel the doubt. It is a chance to recognize our own goodness (by giving) and the goodness of Hashem (by receiving the 2 blessings of what He gave us) and for all the good He continues to shower down upon us. It is a chance to recognize and reaffirm our committment to Hashem ..... that He is good and the Jews will live forever.