HOW TO BUILD THE PERFECT HOME
February 24, 2012
M.E. Gordon in #824, Young Chassid

“Thank, you, Shternie, that was amazing!” Chaya said as she closed the seifer. “I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in such a short time!”
“The same here,” agreed Shternie. “When we started a year ago, we had to ask for help with every other word. It would take us hours to get through one short sicha, and now it goes much easier and faster!”
Chaya sighed, “I wish… I wish that carrying out the message would also come easier and faster.”
“What do you mean? I certainly try to put into practice as much as I can, and I’ve seen a big change in you over the past year, as well. You know what they say: three things have to affect a person, even if it’s not noticeable straight away, and one of them is Chassidus.”
“I know, I know, there’s no doubt that I’ve gained tremendously. It’s just… well… sometimes it seems impossible for me to actually bring the lesson into action. Today, for example, we read about building the Mishkan, and how we have to create a personal Mishkan within ourselves and within our homes. How do we do that?”
“But Chaya, we just read that the word ‘truma’ means separated and uplifted. Separate your home from negatives and uplift your home with positives – that doesn’t sound so difficult.”
“Oh, Shternie, you don’t understand, my home is not like yours. Your home is so special. As soon as you walk through the door, you can feel it in the atmosphere. There are no worldly distractions, everything in the house seems to have a higher purpose, and everybody in your family seems to be focused on how they can serve Hashem. My house is not at all like that!”
“Whoa! Stop right there. My home is not perfect, nobody’s is, and you’ve got a wonderful family and amazing parents…”
“I love my parents, and they are truly the greatest when it comes to most things, but I feel like our home is just not the ‘holy house’ that we’ve just learned about.”
“Well, I certainly don’t think that you should be telling your parents what to do. Why don’t you get advice from someone older and wiser? Do you have a mashpia?”
“Not yet, but that is a great idea. Maybe I can call Mora Chana from your house? I really admire her. She’s so knowledgeable and genuinely practices what she preaches. I think she knows me well, and I trust her opinion.”
Later that day, Mora Chana listened carefully to Chaya, asking a few questions here and there as Chaya described her dilemma. Mora Chana then said, “Chaya, I’m very impressed with you. I’m happy to hear that you and Shternie are learning together, and that you take the Rebbe’s words to heart. You truly want to create a ‘House for Hashem’ – that is wonderful! The way to go about it, though, is to begin with yourself.
“If you will separate and uplift yourself, and dedicate yourself to be a true chassidiste, then those around you will automatically be affected. Nobody likes to be told what to do, unless they ask. If you start telling your family how to improve, it will be resented, and nothing good will come of it. If you work on yourself, and are tolerant, helpful, and caring to the people around you, then the goodness will spread.”
Chana was struck by the truth of Mora Chana’s words. How many times had she herself reacted negatively when someone told her what to do, even if she knew that they were correct? Chana thought long and hard about how she could make herself and her own room into a ‘House for Hashem.’
When Chana came home, she already had an idea of the changes she could make in her own bedroom. “Hi Miri,” she said to her sister who was sitting on her own bed, reading a book from the public library. “Do you mind if I turn on some music? I’ll keep the volume low.”
“Go right ahead. I don’t mind if it’s loud. Do you want to play that wild new album?”
“Na…I’m more in the mood of something deep and meaningful. Okay if I put on Niggunim?”
“Doesn’t bother me, play whatever you like,” Miri shrugged, and went back to her book.
She looked up again a few minutes later. “Hey, Chaya, why are you taking all of your posters down?”
Chaya had decided that the first step in making her room ‘a House for Hashem’ would be to take down any posters that she would feel embarrassed about if the Rebbe would come visit her room. She was looking forward to drawing new posters that expressed ideas that she could be proud of. “I’m tired of these. I want to make new ones. Do you want to help me think up ideas of well known Chassidic sayings or words of Chazal that I could put up?”
“You mean like ‘Think good, and it will be good,’ or ‘Eat in order to daven; don’t daven in order to eat?’”
“Wow, Miri, those are great ideas!”
“You know what, Chaya? This book is a real bore. Do you mind if I help you with the posters?”
“Sure!” Chaya smiled. The Mishkan was already spreading its light. Over the next few months, Chaya continued to make small steps towards building her holy home. The first Motzaei Shabbos that she chose to stay home instead of going out with the family, she felt a bit lonely, but she knew that the place they were going to was not going to add to her Yiddishkait. The next week, she asked her mother if she could invite some friends over for a Melaveh Malka while the family was out. It was such a success, that when she asked to do the same the next week, her sister Miri stayed home instead of going with the family. Then the boys were jealous, and begged to have a Melaveh Malka with their friends. Making Melaveh Malkas every Motzaei Shabbos soon became the new family custom.
Chaya asked Shternie if she would mind coming to her house to learn together each week. Also, with her parents’ permission, Chaya organized a monthly Shiur for her classmates in her house. She asked a different person each time to give the shiur, to make it interesting. Somehow, other family members were inspired to do the same.
Better reading material came into the house, and Torah sites went onto the ‘favorites’ list on the computer. Chaya persevered with the task of ‘separating and uplifting’ without causing conflict. Now, when you walk in to Chaya’s house you can feel the special atmosphere. It’s truly becoming a ‘House for Hashem.’
This story is fictional. The lesson is based on Likkutei Sichos vol. 26 p. 167-174.

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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