Have you ever heard of the idea of starting a Kabbalah? As Tishrei comes along, we want to think of ways to grow and be better than before. There are so many mitzvot that we cannot work on them all at once. The idea is to choose a small area to improve. When you master that, you can move on to the next little thing. It’s like adding one brick at a time to a building.
Rby Shlomo Hoffman ztz’l was a talmid by Rabbi Isaac Sher ztz”l. When he was 23, Rav Sher approached him before Rosh Hashanah and asked him if he had done any kabbalah.
When Rav Hoffman showed his list of kabbalah Rav Sher, Rav Sher asked if he had practiced any of his kabbalah to make sure he could really keep them. When Rav Hoffman said he had not practiced, Rav Sher tore up the list.
Rav Sher taught Rav Hoffman that he should only have kabbalah he’s already tried, so he’s totally sure he can keep them.
Rav Hoffman said he had learned an important lesson. We should make sure that our kabbalah match our abilities. Maybe we think it’s best to take on something big, but if we’re not able to keep it going, we’ll feel bad about ourselves instead of growing.
We should choose something very small, so that it is easy for us to do it, and then do more in small steps. All of these small steps will add up to something big!
Rav Wolbe gives a mashal in his sefer Alei Shur. He was once flying in a plane over Egypt and the plane started to fly very close to the ground. Rav Wolbe was worried there was something wrong with the plane, but the pilot told him they were flying low so the Egyptian radar wouldn’t see them, because the radar would be looking for planes higher up in the air. the sky.
Rav Wolbe thought this was a great way to think about our Yetzer Hara. If we choose something important to change, our yetzer hara will fight with us and try to make us give up. But if we choose something very small, our yetzer hara will think it’s too small to care about and leave us alone. If we keep adding very, very small steps, we can squeeze past the yetzer hara and get very big, slowly over time.
Children like you can keep kabbalah, too!
On the day of Tishah B’Av when I was 14 years old, my whole camp decided to undertake a cabal be careful not to talk during the evening that summer. I really like that. It made me more aware that Hashem is listening. Later that year I decided I wanted to take the same cabal for me Between Rosh Hashanah and Sukkos.
When you took one cabal successfully, it helps you to take more things. After not talking to shul I decided I wanted to say Shemoneh Esreh with more kavana.
I have dyslexia – which makes it difficult for me to learn, but after taking these kabbalahI managed to finish Maseches Tamid Seven times. I really felt that Hashem had helped me in the zechus Devil kabbalah.
Tip: If you feel like you are struggling and no one is listening to you, Hashem is always listening!
How far from Rockaway, NY
Last Elul, our fifth-grade teacher passed out papers and told us to write something we wanted to work on until Yom Kippur. Then she picked up the papers and returned them to us after Yom Kippur so we could see how we were doing.
I wrote that I wanted to be nicer to my brother. It was really hard for me. He would do something that I found boring and wanted to be boring back. But every time I remembered the grade I gave my teacher, I held back. I didn’t want to pick up the paper after Yom Kippur and find that I hadn’t accomplished what I wanted!
Tip: I would tell the other kids not to be afraid to try things that are difficult for you, because it really feels good when you succeed!
How far from Rockaway, NY
DO do you remember Super Avi who raced in Junior six years ago? It was a true story about Avi’s experiences with cancer. In one chapter, Avi recounted how every year at one of the Rosh Hashanah meals, his family goes around the table and everyone takes a cabal for the coming year.
Steins of Yerushalayim read about Super Avi and his family’s Rosh Hashanah kabbalah and thought it was so nice, they decided they wanted to try it too.
“We try to choose something that has to do with Shabbat, because Shabbat is central to our lives, and also, it’s very practical since the whole family is together,” explains Ms. Stein.
The kabbalah they took in family:
- Everyone gets a job to help prepare for Shabbat
- During Seudah Shlishis they go around the table and everyone thanks Hashem for something that happened that week.
- They learn a halakha at one of the Shabbat seudos
- Everyone says the first paragraph of the pew out loud together to Seudah Shlishis.
- Everyone puts a sticker on a board for each time they remain calm when they could have become angry.
- They eat Melaveh Malkah together
“Not all cabal was a success; our sticker board didn’t last very long,” Ms. Stein shares, “but we learned something from it. It’s easier to stick to one cabal which has a specific time you need to do it – like going around the table to thank Hashem at Seudah Shlishis – than a sticker board that everyone needs to remember to come and tell me they stayed calm.
The Stein children share their point of view:
Why did you choose a cabal?
My father recommended that we each take an Erev Shabbos job because the Rambam says preparation for Shabbos is part of the mitzvah of Kavod Shabbos.
Two years ago we started having a weekly Melaveh Malkah family after reading how important it is in Rabbi Nissel’s article in Family First. We make sure to wash and my father tells a story.
What are some of the challenges of maintaining your cabal?
Every week my yetzer hara tries to stop me from cleaning up for Shabbos. And by Melaveh Malkah, you are already satisfied.
Any advice for other kids who want to tackle these kabbalos?
Zevi (14 years old): Yes! You should clean up right away, because the more you procrastinate, the longer it will take! And, when you eat Seudah Shlishis, leave room for more Melaveh Malkah hunger!
Did you learn anything from the kabbalos in your family?
Shua (12): It’s so important to always thank Hashem for everything. Also, when my older brother learned hilchos shemittah in the yeshiva he already knew most of it, having learned it at the Shabbat table.
Shua’s advice for other children? Pick something specific to make it easier for you to remember.
Tzippy’s favorite, 10 years old cabal goes around the table and thanks Hashem every week. “We wanted to notice the tovos Hashem does for us every week and this cabal really helped us see how good Hashem is for us!
She also learned from all the stories she heard from her father that there are many yeshuos which may come from eating Melaveh Malkah. They buy something special on Fridays to serve Melaveh Malkah so they will want to eat again.
Tzippy’s advice to other children? Start with the easiest things.
Baruch Stein is only seven years old, but he also loves being part of his family kabbalah, and his favorite thank Hashem. Baruch learned that we should thank Hashem for creating the world.
Let us know if you took on any Kabbalah and how you stuck to it.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., issue 929)