The Gradual Process of Teshuva in Elul

In the Practical Guide to Teshuva, Rabbi S. Wagschal writes:

-The process of teshuvah which begins on Rosh Chodesh Elul and continues until Yom Kippur, may be successfully achieved if it is performed in a gradual manner.

-One should strengthen his tefillah by becoming more punctilious about the times of the tefillah.

-In addition one should endeavor to improve the quality of his tefillah by increasing his level of conecntration and intention.

-The simple meaning of Kriyas Shema and the first blessing of Shemoneh Esrai should be clearly understood.

-Some emphasis should be put on raising one’s level of concentration during the recital of the prayers Ahavas Rabbah, Atah Chonein Le’adam, Hashivenu, Sleach Lanu and the first blessing of Birkas Hamazon.

Emily Stern and Ivanka Trump Keep Shabbos

Regardless of what you think of her father’s comedy or her father’s politics, both Emily Stern and Ivanka Trump keep Shabbos. Lori Palatnkik points out in this clip, that 30 years ago, most non-observant Jews knew few, if any, observant Jews. And now, due to the number of BTs over the past 30 years, this situation has changed dramatically.

Lori is the Co-Founding Director the the Jewish Women Renaissance Project, which is a Birthright for Moms. JWRP’s mission is to empower women to change the world through Jewish values that transform ourselves, our families, and our communities. This July, over 600 women will take participate on an 8 day trip to Israel.

Yasher Koach to Lori and the JWRP for all the wonderful work they are doing for Klal Yisroel. Stop by the JWRP site and give them some financial, emotional, mental or spiritual support.

Rav Wolbe Warns Stringencies Can Lead to Arrogance and Sin

Rav Shlomo Wolbe was raised in an secular Jewish home and received his education at the University of Berlin (1930–1933). During his university studies he became a baal teshuva through the efforts of the Orthodox Students Union V.A.D. (Vereinigung jüdischer Akademiker in Deutschland). After university he attended the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary. He continued to study at Rabbi Boczko’s yeshiva in Montreux, Switzerland. He then attended the Mir yeshiva in Poland, where he became a student of the mashgiach ruchani, Rabbi Yeruchom Levovitz, and, to a lesser extent of Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein.

He published his first volume of Alei Shur in 1966, which contains his mussar (“ethics”) analysis on a proper regimented life of a yeshiva student. The second volume published 20 years after the first was an intense glimpse into his actual mussar workshops for developing elevated character traits. The book contains step by step instructions and specific exercises.

Rav Wolbe believed that the student should not rely on habit or emotions, rather they should structure their lives. “The greater the person is, the more organized is his life.” (Alei Shur, Pg. 68)

Rav Wolbe felt that there are four basic areas aside from the regular Gemara curriculum of the yeshiva that the yeshiva student should master:
He must know the Halakha (Jewish law) that affects him through the Mishnah Berurah.
He should know Chumash with the commentaries of Rashi and Ramban as a basis for one’s hashkafah.
He should know Pirkei Avos with the commentary of Rabbeinu Yonah (a cousin of Nachmanides) as a basic primer in acceptable character traits (midos).
He should know Mesillat Yesharim (by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto) which he calls “the ultimate compendium dictionary for midos.” It must constantly be delved into.

(above from Wikipedia)

In the Sefer Rav Wolbe on Chumash, Parshas Chukas, published in 2014, he says:

“Although one must adhere to every halachah, a person should be wary of stringencies. If abiding by a stringency will cause him to become conceited about his high level of spirituality, then he is better of without it. It was because Bnei Yisrael were on such a high spiritual level – they merited having Hashem’s Shechinah reside in their midst – that they became haughty and subsequently sinned.”

A Shavuos Retreat at a Center Built for BT Families

Ohr Somayach, Monsey finished construction of their magnificent Beit Shvidler Conference Center five years ago. This beautiful family retreat center was built for the express purpose of providing inspiring guidance and family support services to the Ohr Somayach alumni and extended Baal Teshuva community through shiurim and weekend retreats.

Ohr Somayach launched their family division, Ora V’Simcha under the dynamic leadership of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Naftali and Rivky Reich almost three years ago. Since that time, Ora V’Simcha has conducted over 20 inspiring and informative weekend get togethers which have been highly acclaimed and greatly appreciated by all attendees.

This Shavuos, Ora V’Simcha will once again be hosting their Shavuos Retreat for families with Rabbi YY Rubinstein, Ivy Kalazan, Rabbi Avrohom Braun, Ayala Berney and Rabbi and Rebbetzin Naftali and Rivky Reich. The retreat boasts gourmet cuisine as well as a professional child care program. The retreats are offered on an open enrollment, first come first served basis, and they are normally sold out well in advance.

For those interested in inquiring or attending, please contact Mrs. Shoshanna Kirshner at sk@oravsimcha.org or 845-216-3970.