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"Avi, we learned last week that saying a brocho with proper kavannah (intention) will arouse an appreciation in our hearts of Hashem's great goodness. This appreciation makes us fit to receive more goodness, and enables Him (so to speak) to continue showering us with blessing. The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah number 430, Bircas HaMazone) relates this principle. In the midst of his discourse on this mitzvah, the Chinuch makes an astounding statement. His teachers informed him that everyone who is careful with his recitation of Bircas HaMazone has his food provided for him honorably all of the days of his life."
"Wow! That is quite a blessing, Abba. It is certainly worth our while to learn about Bircas HaMazone."
"Come, let us begin with a little introduction, Avi. The brochos of Bircas HaMazone are di'oraysa (a Torah obligation) according to all authorities. Their source is the verse, 'You will eat and you will be satisfied, and bless Hashem, your G-d, for the good Land that He gave you' (Devarim 8:10). Rav Hirschii Hirsch Siddur points out that the previous verses speak about the forty years we spent in the midbar (desert), replete with their trials and tribulations. Hashem fed us mun, a miraculous sustenance, which demonstrated His hashgacha pratis (personal supervision) over our parnassa (livelihood). Every bread meal should remind us of this.
"As with all blessings, our main kavannah (intention) should be the meaning of the words. The Shulchan Aruchiii Orach Chaim 183:9 instructs us to sit with awe while we are saying Bircas HaMazone. The Seder HaYomiiii Avodas HaTefillah - Bircas HaMazone advises us to read each word calmly, aloud, from a printed text. This will keep our minds from wandering. We are subjugating ourselves to the Almighty, therefore, we should turn our hearts away from all mundane activities to praise the One Who feeds the entire world with His great kindness. The Reishis Chochma adds that even when you are alone, you should say these blessings out loud, for the voice arouses the kavannah.
"The Arizaliiv cited in Besamim Rosh highlights a different aspect - saying Bircas HaMazone with simcha gedola (great happiness). We should be neither light-headed, nor falling asleep, nor rushing, nor should we swallow the words. Rather, we should call to Hashem, to bless Him for the great chessed (kindness) that He did by preparing our parnassa, although we did not deserve it."
"Hashem is so good to us, Abba! I want to thank Him. You have inspired me to say these blessings with all of my heart and mind."
"May you succeed, Avi."
Kinderlach . . .
The food that we eat comes from Hashem. No where was this more apparent than in the midbar. Hashem provided the perfect food - mun - in the perfect amount each and every day. When we eat a bread meal and bless afterward, we realize that the Almighty's hashgacha is still upon us. Therefore, we should say these blessings while sitting calmly, reading from a text, and with the proper concentration and emotion. This will bring us even more blessing. Hashem, thank you for everything!
The Best You 689 words (2004)
"Shalom Yoni! How was school today?"
"Not so good."
"Oy vey, Yoni. I am sorry to hear that. What happened?"
"Do you remember the test that I studied so hard for last week?"
"The one on Chumash Parashas Va'eira?"
"Yes, that's the one. I studied and reviewed my hardest - at least seven hours."
"That's great, Yoni."
"It might sound great, but I only got a 75 on the test. I was so disappointed. My friend Sruli told me that he only studied two hours, and he got a 95. What can I do Abba? I'll never be as good as Sruli."
"Yoni, dear, I understand how you feel. Come let me give you a big hug. Everyone wants to get the best grade in the class. However, you should know something. You did just fine. I'll even bring you a proof from this week's parasha."
"Really? Show me Abba."
"Look at this verse, 'This was Aharon and Moshe . . .' (Shemos 6:26). The Torah is listing all of the sons and grandsons of Yaakov Avinu. Rashi takes note that the Torah mentions Aharon's name before Moshe. This is not unusual. In many places, Moshe is mentioned first, and in many places, Aharon is mentioned first. Why? To teach us that they carried equal weight (as far as their spiritual level)."
"That is surprising. Our teacher said that Moshe was the Prince of all prophets, the only one who spoke with Hashem face to face. How could Aharon be on the same level?"
"Excellent, Yoni. Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l is astounded by the very same question. See, you know the Chumash better than you think."
"Thank you Abba. What is Rav Moshe's answer?"
"He explains that Aharon performed his service to Hashem perfectly. All of his days, he did what Hashem asked of him to the best of his abilities. One cannot do any better than that. His younger brother Moshe had greater abilities; therefore, more was demanded of him. Moshe did indeed do more than Aharon, however they were equal in the sense that they both served Hashem with all of their koach (strength)."
"I see, Abba."
"Therefore, I am telling you Yoni dear, that you are the best. If you studied your hardest for that test, then you got 100%! You used all of your koach. You can't do any better than that."
"Abba, that makes me feel good, however, the other boys get all the glory."
"My dear Yoni, listen to what Rav Moshe says. After 120 years, in the Olam HaEmes (World of Truth), we see that our world is upside down. Some of those who are on top, here, are low over there. And some of the people who are perceived as low over here, are on top over there."
"Those who tried their hardest are really on top. They may not have scored the highest on the test, but they really got 100% in their Avodas Hashem. Others who scored very well on test may be very intelligent. They may not need to use all of their abilities to get a perfect grade. Therefore, they are not serving Hashem with 100% of their abilities. In the Olam HaEmes, they did not get a 100%. Therefore, they are not on top."
"Amazing, Abba. So I really did get 100%."
"Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Yoni. You really are the best, and I'm very proud of you."
Kinderlach . . .
We all have to be "the best". How is that possible? There is only one "the best". Everyone else is at best, second best. However, in Avodas Hashem, everyone can be "the best". Because "the best" means the best you that you can be. Hashem gave everyone different talents and strengths. Some people are smarter, some people are stronger, some people are taller, and some people are more creative. Each has his own abilities; therefore, each has his own way to serve Hashem. Hashem wants you to do your best, with the gifts that He gave you. Then you will be "the best". 100% all the way.
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