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By Mrs. Debbie Selengut

Rosh Chodesh Teves

A Guten Chodesh!  And a Freilechen Chanukah!

I, like many of you,  have had the opportunity to listen to and watch some very thoughtful, insightful speeches or messages since Simchas Torah.

Understanding the circumstances that Klall Yisrael finds itself in, and growing through it, has been the topic of many incredible, inspiring leaders.  I think that each one of us is working towards finding some balance between feeling the pain of our fellow Yidden, trying to keep things balanced for our families, and experiencing the simcha that Hashem wants us to experience during this season.

Rav Ahron Lopiansky was asked at the Agudah Convention about this equilibrium , and what the correct approach  is on minimizing pleasures, or “extras”, in the context of being “nosei b’ol”, feeling the pain of others.

It has to be able to be sustained, was his clear directive, not fleeting, and not just symbolic.


I turned that over and over trying to make it personal, meaningful, and lasting.  And here is my plan (I hope!)

In last week’s Parsha we learned that Yosef was sent to Shechem to check on his brothers who were shepherding and met  Mallach Gavriel who asked Yosef a question.

A two word question.

מה תבקש?

What are you seeking?

The Kotzker Rebbe explains that  in those two words, the Mallach Gavriel was giving him a gift, the key to the vault.

Mallach Gavirel knew something that Yosef did not;

You Yosef,  are going to the worst place, with so many distractions, so many challenges, the moral fight against the wife of Potiphar,  jail, the immorality of Mitzrayim; the most depraved culture.

What are you going to do with all of that?

How are you going to live through that? Really live?

How are you going to stay who you are?

Here is the key to the vault, here is how you are going to come out, not just  the Yosef you are going in, but Yosef Hatzaddik.

Keep asking yourself, at every twist and turn- מה תבקש; What do you want? What’s the goal?

And then, all of your decisions will be aligned with that goal.

That key was handed to us, and that question of מה תבקש is the question that guides our lives.

Because our real ratzon is to not necessarily what’s right in front of our eyes.

Figuring out our real ratzon- what I really want- can be a lot of work.

It’s “yeses” and “no’s”.

There is no real yes without a real no.

We have to make choices every day, as a mother, as a wife, as a Yid.

Does this fit into the life I really want or not?

Is this going to build me? Build my family? Or is chas v’shalom going to take myself and my family further  from our goals.

I have to be able to say, this; that which is in front of me does not belong in my life,

I am greater than that.

When we can do the right thing, make that good choice, it feels good, right now.

So back to me.

If I can go through my day, my interactions, my choices, through the filter of “מה תבקש” ?

Is this choice aligned with my bigger vision, with the vision of who I really want to be.

My hope is that this filter, this lens, will take me where I want to go and become who I want to be.

Wishing you a wonderful new month!




Mrs. Debbie Selengut