By Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz, delivered at the OU Israel Center.

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The Limits of Human Understanding
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Mishlei 3:5 – “בטח אל ה’ בכל לבך ואל בינתך אל תשען” What is the spiritual value of not knowing the difference between ארור המן and ברוך מרדכי? It is precisely in the Haman episodes in life which are the gifts from God that enable us to actualize our potential. We acknowledge that we don’t understand […]
Faith in God, Faith in Yourself
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Mishlei 14:26: “ביראת ה’ מבטח עוז ולבניו יהיה מחסה” Mishlei 18:10: “מגדל עוז שם ה בו ירוץ צדיק ונשגב” Gra: בטחון is the security that someone will fulfill a commitment; חסיון (shelter) implies protection even without prior commitment from the protector. Emunah is the abstract belief that God runs the world; bitachon is the internalization of this […]
When Giving is Really Receiving
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Mishlei 11:17 – “גומל נפשו איש חסד” Why are the measurements of the Aron not whole numbers? The shulchan represents physical needs. When it comes to גשמיות our attitude should be איזהו עשיר השמח בחלקו, unlike our attitude towards growth in spiritual matters. However, other people’s physical needs, are our spiritual needs (R’ Yisroel Salanter: Your […]
Hating Your Enemy…or Not
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Mishlei 24:17 – בנפול אויבך אל תשמח, ובכשלו אל יגל לבך We are warned against rejoicing over the downfall of our enemies. Rav Kook explains why Shmuel HaKatan was the one who composed the bracha of ולמלשינים. However, elsewhere in Mishlei, Shlomo says that with the destruction of evildoers there is rejoicing. The Baal HaTanya […]
Learning from Failure: The Perils of Perfection
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Mishlei 24:16 We are given the same test over and over until we pass it. Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik once commented that Hashem created and destroyed many worlds before creating this one to emphasize this point. Suffering shouldn’t be approached as a theological question (why did God do this) but as a “halachic” question (what […]
The Tzaddik Falls Seven Times: Growing from Adversity
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Mishlei 24:16 – “התרפית ביום צרה – צר כחכה” Mishlei 24:17 – “הצל לקחים למות ומטים להרג אם תחשוך” When read together the verses mean that if someone is in trouble and you are able to help them but don’t, then when you are in need your own resources will fail you. If we don’t help […]