On Tuesday evening, January 17, “Tuesday Timely Torah Talks” featured Rabbi Ashie Schreier of the Young Israel of Forest Hills. Rabbi Schreier is also on staff at Caring Professionals Home Care. Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, Operations Manager of Chazaq, welcomed everyone and shared how our goal is to look at the world through the prism of Torah and to bring the Torah into our lives. He asked Rabbi Schreier how we can keep our previous mistakes from pulling us down.
Rabbi Schreier responded with a d’var Torah from the Beis HaLevi. When Yosef revealed himself to his brothers, he said “I am Yosef. Is my father still alive?” Yehudah had just spoken at length about how it would be terrible for his father if they brought Binyamin to Egypt. Yosef was sharing the greatest rebuke here. He was saying, “Now, all of a sudden, you care about my father’s feelings, but you didn’t when you sold me into slavery?!” Rabbi Schreier said that so often we say we don’t have time to do something. We offer excuses like that we aren’t smart enough or wealthy enough or learned enough. The musar message here is consistency. “The ultimate rebuke is contradictions in our lives. Make sure we are consistent.”
Our goal is to be as consistent as possible. It’s an ideal. “The trap we can fall into is that past failures stop us from accomplishing great things.” When Yaakov is on his deathbed, and Yosef brings Efrayim and Menashe, Yaakov switches his hands for the brachah. Yosef questions his father’s action. He doesn’t want a repeat of favoritism that causes so much jealousy. Yaakov responds that he knows what he is doing. Menashe and Efrayim represent two types of children. There are two ways to attain greatness. One is to stay away from bad and the second is to do good things. Menashe is representing someone who wants to forget bad things. Efrayim is based on positive action. He seeks to do good things. This is why Yaakov gave Efrayim the first-born blessing. Yaakov grew up with wicked people like Eisav. You can’t eliminate all of it. We have to become great from doing good and we can’t let ourselves dwell on the past.
The Chofetz Chaim shared how, at a siyum, we say the following: “We work hard and gain reward and they work hard and they don’t gain reward.” The idea is that we believe that we are rewarded for the effort itself. “Effort makes a huge impact on a person. Every second of effort counts towards eternity. We are so lucky.”
Rav Hutner taught that we are always referencing the Akeidah. We tap into this merit on Rosh HaShanah, even though Avraham didn’t actually have to follow through on sacrificing Yitzchak. This is because Judaism emphasizes the effort. “Effort matters so much. Every second is an incredible opportunity to put through effort.”
Rabbi Meirov asked what the biggest struggle is that people fall into. Rabbi Schreier shared that it’s the access we have. Also, it’s not defining ourselves by sin. People say that G-d can’t forgive me so why bother trying. This is the biggest trap that people fall into.
He noted that when we recite Modeh Ani, we are stating that Hashem has faith in us. The fact that Hashem gave us another day of life means that Hashem has emunah in us that we still can accomplish great things.
“We can’t let sin define us. Things happen. We are not angels. We are able to continue growing and we can’t let past failures stop us.”
This shiur can be viewed on TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber