Predictions of a large snowstorm, which shut down the public schools, did not deter a large crowd from attending a shiur at the Sephardic Minyan of the Young Israel of Briarwood on Sunday evening, March 3. Visibility was poor and the streets were slippery, but the shul filled with members of the Bukharian community, eager to hear words of Torah from Rabbi Yosef Palacci, a leader in the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn and a teacher at Derech Emet Torah Center in Brooklyn, who shared an inspiring shiur about simchah. He shared some ideas that were taught by Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus zt”l.
One who enters the month of Av must minimize simchah. On the other hand, when we enter the month of Adar, we add simchah. He said, “If you’re Jewish, you always have to be in a state of mind of happiness. A person has to always be singing – just sometimes we lower the volume or sometimes we raise it.” He went on to teach that at the Sheva Brachos for a chasan and kallah we offer a blessing of happiness for the newly married couple. If you buy a new suit or something else new, you are usually happy. “Hashem has a special simchah when someone says a new chidush. Hashem kisses it and puts a crown over it. When you say a chidush, you are creating a new world.” Hashem is happy when there is something new in His service, like a chasan and kallah making a new Shabbos table. “Something new automatically brings simchah.” He taught, “It’s a great lesson in life for us to know that Hashem wants my avodas Hashem, and we have to create something new for Hashem.” He drew the analogy of business, where if you want to succeed in business, you have to create things that are new.
He then shared the story of Yehudis, who did something new. She didn’t want to follow the law that every bride had to first go to a Syrian-Greek general before she married. So she fed the general dairy food and when he fell asleep, she cut off his head and put it in a sack and showed it to her brothers. She said, “If Hashem helped me do this thing, then you will be victorious over the Syrian-Greeks.”
The Ponevezher rosh yeshivah went through the Holocaust, and he wanted to build a yeshivah in B’nei Brak. People thought he was crazy, because Eretz Yisrael was like a desert. So he pointed to a bare hill and stated that this mountain will be a yeshivah. “He had a vision. He stuck to his goal and Hashem gave him extra siyata diShmaya. He made one of the greatest yeshivos of all time.” He said, “This is my dream, my goal.” He thought outside the box. Rabbi Palacci stated, “Everyone in this room can be m’chadeish something. That’s what Hashem wants from us.” It doesn’t have to be an organization. It could be even small things in your own home.”
He then spoke about the Megillah, whose root word means to reveal. Hashem was revealing to us. In life, a person has to understand that what you do in your home is being recorded. “One day, it will be revealed. We’re all writing a megillah now in life.”
He then explained that there are two types of gifts. There are gifts you give because a person needs something. Then there are gifts you give when a person doesn’t need it, but you give it to show you really thought of him. The latter is a bigger gift.
He taught that when we do more than what we have to, it shows our love for Hashem. Moshe Rabbeinu was living in a palace, yet he went out to help his brethren. Hashem didn’t tell him to do it. Moshe took action, so Hashem said, I’ll go down and I’ll speak to you.
On Purim, we give gifts to the poor, which is a needed gift, while Mishloach Manos is a gift that is not needed.
“Hashem wants your gifts. He created every single person with different gifts, and you can use them to serve Hashem. That’s how you make Hashem happy.”
He noted that the s’udah of Achashveirosh was not the Yiddishe way.” Rabbi Palacci quoted the Vilna Gaon: “If a person is not working on his character traits, why should he live?” He added, “One of the things that are new are your traits. How are you going to change yourself? That’s avodas Hashem.”
He then taught how to work on our midos. He said that one of the biggest downfalls is if we don’t think about what we have to work on.
The shiur can be viewed on Torahanytime.com.
By Susie Garber