Does Success Engender Depression? Maybe. An Antidote

?Motivation? Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.Every day is a new day.

An opportunity to do tremendous good for ourselves and the world.

When we are motivated, we can do almost anything.

We occasionally encounter times where we are not motivated.

A minority of the population admit depression.

Statistically, people with lower incomes are more likely to be depressed than those with higher incomes. Also people who live in rich neighborhoods tend to fall to depression more than others.

Admitting doesn’t mean succumbing.

One can use the depression to become closer to the Creator. When one is broken, it is easier to reach out to G-d. The depression can break our barriers towards reaching out for divine guidance.

The natural mood of a person is to be happy.

Look at kids.

The Torah wants us to be happy.

Getting Help

Get help from someone who you can trust. A family member or a reputable therapist, you can trust, that has the proper Torah outlook.

A proper Torah outlook is important – because – psychologists look at the physical, psychological or mental concerns. One with a Torah outlook will also consider spiritual concerns.

Why would success breed depression? Possibly because one enters into a world of competing with the Jones and one realizes that they have less? Possible.

Or

Possibly because one grew up with a mentality that once they fulfilled the “American Dream” they would consequentially reach this point called happiness. Some succeed, but don’t find the satisfaction they expected.

Realizing Real Success

A first step to success is to realize that happiness isn’t a destination.

It is process that is worked upon daily. It is a concerted effort to look for the good in life, to have a positive Torah outlook, to develop relations with companions that see your interests, to be healthy physically, mentally and spiritually – nurturing a relationship with G-d.

Spiritual Growth

One of the most important things is spiritual growth.

A growing bank account is not correlated with a growing sense of purpose. Growing in Spirituality in Judaism – listening to Torah lectures – growing in Mitzvah observance, and improving Torah study are essential – and correlated with a growing sense of meaning and purpose.

Doing good deeds in the process of success – like helping others, sharing the wealth, doing acts of kindness allows success to be achieved with satisfaction. Achieving Success in conjunction with positive steady self-improvement and self-help growth are the ingredients for real success.

As you grow more successful, you have the power to help more people.

Success comes with a greater ability to help others. It also comes with greater responsibility.

Real success is when one tries to match their ability to help others with their responsibility.

Having the Torah as a guide helps a person achieve that balance.

Like it says “Not on bread alone does man live… rather on the expressions of the mouth G-d does he live” (Devarim / Deut. 8:3)

Jewish Spirituality is an intrinsic and healthy part of living a wholesome and satisfying life.

(Source : See Or Ha Chaim on Parasha Ekev, First Verse)

It’s Good to be Good

ca. 2001 --- White Daisy --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisPeople love a good story.

Especially ones that have happy endings.

Why?

People are made in the image of G-d.

G-d is good.

When we emulate G-d – by being Good – we feel good inside.

Thus we love happy endings.

Thus we are inspired seeing people who do good.

Being Good – You Feel Good.

Feel Good About yourself and the world.

Life – It’s Surely Worth Living – Just Feel Good About Yourself

MP900384903It’s good to laugh.

Starting with light humor in a Torah lecture is recommended. It is called Mila dibedichuta.

Comedy reveals truth.

Comedians are sometimes truth seekers.

If they pursued their truth seeking – they would probably arrive.

Humorous Cartoons portray a character with a moral dilemma showing – a little devil on one shoulder – telling him to “kick” the guy and a little angel on the other shoulder telling him to help the guy.

Cartoons have discovered a truth. A person has voices inside – telling him or her what to do. One says “do good” the other says the opposite.

The proper thing to do is to listen to the little angel.

If you don’t know which voice is the angel consult someone knowledgeable in Torah.

Some think that the good voice wants them to be moral – to give you a good portion in the next world. The other voice is to tell them how to have a good time – to live in this world.

In reality, the good voice tells a person how to receive both worlds. Living a wholesome life gives a person a desire to live.

When you feel you are accomplishing, for yourself and for the world, you feel meaning and purpose.

So, when someone is down – besides taking care of the symptoms, it is good to take care of the main cause of depression – the feeling of worthlessness and sadness.

The feeling that something is lacking in life and the unbearable lightness of being comes from a spiritual stirring of the soul. The soul needs spirituality.

Talking it out with friends, family or a respected psychologist, might help.

But another venue is to pursue spiritual growth.

It takes one step. To try to connect with the one that said “Let their be Light.” Praying to G-d to guide you. Reading up on Judaism. Doing good deeds for others, brings you closer to truth and purpose, so that you can regain your self-worth, help the greater development of society and the become an even greater person.

Doing good to others makes you feel good about yourself.

One step at a time.

I once attended a lecture by a rabbi. He met a person who was hospitalized in bed. This person was questioning the value of living in a hospital bed. The Rabbi replied – every moment is a moment to gain a new world. Every moment one thinks of doing a good deed or learns Torah, they are able to gain new worlds of reward in the next world. Every second is another second to gain unimaginable reward.

Two women used to collect charity for the poor together. Once one waved to get the attention of a well-off woman. When the other one died, she came back in a dream to the one who waved. She told her “You can’t imagine how tremendous is the reward for just waving to that wealthy woman.”

Renewal takes one small step.

Be good and feel good.

One Day There Will Be No More War

holyland_model_32One day there will be no more war.

Like it says “A Nation will not lift their sword against another nation. They will no longer learn war.” (Micha 4:3)

Sometimes people get into an argument but they really agree about what they are discussing. They are just expressing the same thing in different ways.

Differing values cause dissension.

One wants to go to a fast food restaurant. The Other wants to go to a fancy restaurant. (Both Kosher, of course)

They argue.

What is the basis of the argument?

Their underlying values. One values efficiency. The other values quality.

If there is one set of values there is less dissension and more peace.

The Messiah will teach the world that proper set of values is that of the Torah.

Why Torah?

Torah was the only law given by G-d to a nation of millions of people – that was witnessed by millions of people. G-d does not change His mind. So G-d’s Laws for the world remain the same as when He gave them.

Once we can agree one law for all people, peace will be more readily attainable.

So, it is important to clarify the points of dissension.

Why are some people against Israel?

Because they question the right’s of the Jews to Israel?

The Truth is – G-d gave the land of Israel to the Jews in the Torah. Rashi (commentator) on the first verse of the Torah (Bereshit / Genesis 1:1) says:

Rabbi Yitzhak says, the Torah should have started with “This Month is [sanctified] for you.” that is the first commandment of the Torah, commanded to the Children of Israel (to sanctify the Jewish Month). what is the reason that it [the Torah] started with creation? Because

“The Might of His (G-d’s) acts He told His people, to give them the inheritance of the Nations” (Tehillim / Psalms 111:6)

So that if the nations of the world claim to Israel “You are robbers for you took the land from the 7 nations” (that originally occupied Israel in the Time of Joshua), They (the Jews) can reply to them – all the Universe belongs to the Holy One Blessed Be He (G-d). He created it and gave it to whom was proper in His eyes. With His will He gave it to them, and with His will He took it away from them and gave it to us (the Jews). (Bereshit Rabba 1:2)

When the people of the world recognize this this is when there will be the possibility of world peace.

The Lesson of the Missiles

People are beginning to realize that G-d protects the Jewish Nation. G-d does miracles for His people. That is a prompt to investigate the veracity of the Torah. Miracles alone are not a proof to the veracity of something. (Many people can do black magic – yet their ways are not ways of truth.)

The next step is to translate it to action. Truth seekers will realize that the G-d of the Jews is in charge and that His Torah is the law He gave for world peace.

It is up to us to realize this and make the proper changes to reflect G-d’s sovereignty in our daily lives by Teshuva / Repentance, Good Deeds and upholding the Torah’s Mitzvot.

An important First step for anyone is Torah Study. Dedicating time daily to study Torah changes your life to realize what are true good values. It teaches how you can best contribute to the betterment of yourself, of your family and of the world.

It makes things much easier. Instead of relying on all sorts of peoples opinions for what is right or what is wrong – we ask someone well versed in Torah to tell you what G-d thinks. This is called Da’at Torah. G-d is the Creator of all values.

The world must go through a catharsis to try and see what is truth. Either they will come to truth from thinking it out. Or there may be a war – Known as the War of Gog UMagog – in which the Messiah will emerge triumphant and then people of the world will accept the truth of Torah.

With everyone holding by the same standard, peace is within grasp.

The Messiah will bring about the construction of the Beit Hamikdash in Jerusalem. This is the House that all people can come together to Worship and serve our G-d, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is when there will be ultimate peace in the world.

We want to live according to the laws of Torah in peace.

Not too much to ask for.

Taking the First Step to Happiness and Hope

Palm Tree on a BeachEven in Tough Times, there is always hope.

You feel like just staying in bed.

Why face the world?

Let me push it off. Just a bit.

What does it take to get out of the slump?

A bit of courage.

Courage to take the first step.

Upon Awakening in the Morning, a Jew says :

Modeh (Modah / for female) ‘ani le-faneicha melech h’ai ve-kayam she-heh’ezarta vi nishmati veh’emlah, raba ‘emu-natecha

I am grateful before You, Living & Eternal King, that You returned my soul to me with grace. Great is Your faith [in me.]

Two Important Points –

When we reach out to G-d in the morning to thank G-d / Hash-m that he returned our soul after sleeping…

We acknowledge He is the One who has the power to do all. To make any situation better. We Just have to reach out to Him in our own words. And He will help.

Just the reaching out to Him, alleviates nervousness, because we sub-consciously recognize He is in control, He is with us and He has the power to make things better.

At times we know what is bringing us down. Other times we don’t. In both making a small effort to do a Mitzvah, can make you feel better. For sometimes it is the soul that is suffering, even though the body feels fine. For this, the spiritual self-help can remove the heaviness from your shoulders.

Today, I felt a bit down. I decided to recite the morning blessings and the Shema Yisrael aloud with others. It removed some of the gloominess from my chest.

The Last part of Modeh Ani can be translated as “great is Your trustworthiness” or “Great is Your faith [in me.]”

In either case we feel we have a Good G-d that will support us and believes in our ability to achieve and overcome challenges of life.

We just have to take the first step -

Pray, Believe in Yourself and make a small effort.

The rest comes more easily.

You can do it.

“Ok, I Missed the Mark. Now What?” Jewish Self-Improvement

Get UpG-d is gracious with all his creatures.

He judges with kindness.

According to the ways of a person he judges.

If a person judges others positively, G-d reciprocates.

He goes according to the most actions of the person.

G-d initially created a world with the letter Aleph. Aleph is the first letter of the hebrew alphabet – whose numerical value is 1. There was one way to choose. Either a person would choose the right path or be immediately punished.

The world did not last.

Then he created the current world with the letter Bet. Bet is the second letter – with a numerical value of 2. Now there are two ways to choose. A person is given freedom of choice to choose between good and evil. If a person chooses good – he or she is rewarded. If he or she chooses evil – they are punished.

But Now in the “Bet” world, if a person repents / does Teshuva sincerely – they are forgiven.

If they repent because of fear of Hash-m’s punishment, their sins will be erased.

If they repent because of love of Hash-m – “Oh G-d, You have been so good to me, I love You so much, and I went off Your path, please forgive me!” – G-d changes their transgressions to Mitzvot.

The person by repenting has changed themselves into a new person.

What is important is that a person is going in the right direction.

Some people think that a righteous person never fails.

But this is not so. A person who is righteous, just realizes his or her error and feels badly, gets up and continues upward.

King Solomon says “For Man – There is no righteous person on earth that does only good and never sins.” (Kohelet / Ecclesiastics 7:20) Rashi Explains on it “Thus one should examine their deeds.”

Someone said that the path or the righteous is not a straight line going upward, it goes up and sometimes falls, but the general direction is is that it goes up.

The wisest of All men King Solomon said:

A Righteous Person Falls Seven Times and Gets Up …. (Mishle / Proverbs 24:16)

All people sometimes fail. It is up to us to get up. The main point is to get up and try to reach even higher than if we were on “cruise control”.

The basic Four Steps of Repentance

1. Acknowledgment of Transgression
2. Regret of Transgression
3. Confession and Supplication for Forgiveness to Hash-m / G-d
4. Commitment to Not Commit it Again

Repairing the Consequences of the sin also is part of the process – If someone stole – he has to return the object that he stole. Or If one spoke badly about others (Lashon HaRa’), he can make an effort to teach others about speaking positively.

Knowing what is right and what is wrong helps. Thus it makes sense for a person to learn Torah to know how a person can improve their life. They learn how to “miss the mark” less. H’et / transgression in Hebrew is just that – Missing the Mark.

At times a person walks around life with an burden of sadness upon them. They can’t pinpoint why they are sad. Sometimes it is the sould that feels the pain of the transgression that cries. But as long as the person does not acknowlege or know they are missing the mark – as explained by the Torah – they remain with this burden.

Thus it makes sense for a person to go and seek a reputable Orthodox Rabbi to guide them to the path to self-improvement.

Thus, one gains more more spiritually satisfaction from life and relieves a burden from your shoulders. They also become even closer to Hash-m through this process than they were before.

The Joy of Purity

Tropical island, ThailandIn the simple there is joy.

Simple pleasures, like spending time with a child.

Going on a walk with a friend.

Riding a bike.

Doing the right thing.

Life is such that one experience draws you after another.

Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers mentions this concept

Good causes Good & Evil causes Evil

Ben Azzai said “Run [even] to do a light Mitzvah (commandment) and run away from the sin for a Mitzvah causes a Mitzvah and a sin causes a sin; for the compensation of a Mitzvah is a Mitzvah and the compensation for a sin is a sin.” (Avot / Fathers 4:2)

A person follows after the heart, leads him to continue in that path.

So it might start simply, but it ends up complicated.

A person goes after money – money may become his master.

At first, he is in control, then the vice takes over and then it controls him.

But simplicity and purity are an alternative.

Simple pleasures.

Following the pure ways of Torah, like

– Not speaking badly about others

– Judging people favorably

– Avoiding the enticing

– Spreading kindness

Leads you to another dimension of pleasure –

the pleasure of purity.

Precursor to Ezekiel Prophesy Fulfilled – “I Will Bring Down Your Arrows…”

their-god-changes-the-path-of-our-rockets-in-mid-air1

Some people read books forward.

Some read them backwards – they want to know the ending before they start.

G-d gave us the ending of stories before they even started – this is what we call prophesy.

A prophet will say what will happen in a future time.

Prophesies are said in a certain form to keep the concept of freedom of choice alive. If something was set in stone – so there would be no freedom of choice.

The Book of Yechezkel / Ezekiel in chapter 38-39, speaks of the war of Gog UMagog. It is a war that will likely take place at the time of Mashiach / Messiah. Apparently it might be able to be avoided if we all do Teshuva / repent.

In any case, this is what it says – that a leader of one of the great nations of the world will come to Israel with his army. G-d will make miracles to aid the Jewish nation. One of the miracles mentioned is :

“I will break your bows of your left hand and the Arrows of Your Right Hand I will bring them down.” (Yehezkel / Ezekiel 39:3)

The Classic commentator the RaDaK (Rav David Kimhi) explains –

“I will strike them until it falls out of their left hand, for the bow is held by a man with the left hand, and he places the arrows with his right hand and he pulls the remainder (string of the bow) back with his right hand,… meaning to say their (the enemies) weapons of war will be useless it will be as if they do not exist”

Baruch Hash-m / Thank G-d, that He will stand for us.

Now is the time to reinforce our faith in Hash-m. When one believes that everything is completely in His control, we can nullify any power in the world.

As we see today,

Anah’nu Maaminim, Benei Ma-aminim, ve-ein lanu al mee le-hisha-ein, ela al Avinu she-ba-shamayim.

We are the Believers (in Hash-m), Children of Believers and we have no one upon whom to rely, except our Father in Heaven.

Plagues Revisited – Will Modern World Learn from What Ancient Egyptians Ignored

china-river-blood-300x168G-d Loves His creatures.

He doesn’t want the wicked to die. He would rather that the wicked repent.

But if a person is adamant on causing bad to the world, through their thoughts, words, or deeds G-d gives them many chances until – they get their last chance.

Recently, a river in China turned red. Chinese officials were baffled. The river usually was clear. Now, it was crimson accompanied by a strange odor. They gave possible explanations – perhaps one of the large factories in the area dumped dye in the water. They said they will investigate it. Apparently, they would have to analyze samples of the water to determine the cause.

In the Torah it states at the time of the Mashiach / Messiah the plagues will return to the world a second time. Is this one of them? I don’t know.

In any case, it reminded me of the First of the 10 plagues – where the river and waters in Ancient Egypt turned into blood.

Four of the reasons G-d sent the plagues – are
1) The Egyptians were being punished for the bad that they did to the Israelites
2) G-d wanted His Glory to be recognized by the nations of the world.
3) G-d wanted to give them a motivation to allow the Jews out of the bondage of Egypt
4) G-d wanted them to realize their previous evil and to repent for the bad they did to the Jews.

The Egyptians were punished but did not change their ways or attitudes. They continues denying the significance of the plagues – that the Jewish G-d is true – until many met their unfortunate fate drowning in the Sea of Reeds.

One person did finally acknowledge G-d – Pharaoh himself. He survived and eventually became the king of another nation – some say it was Tarshish – the city of Gentiles that the Prophet Yonah / Jonah went to announce G-d’s desire that they repent.

G-d sends us messages every day for us to become closer to Him. We see clearly G-d protecting the land of Israel from the Missiles shot at them. Over 2000 have been shot in a span of 20 days, thank G-d, with hardly any casualties. Do We take the message to heart? Does the World?

If we don’t G-d lets our live run it’s own random path.

If we do we are privy to the good of G-d’s kindness – Him guiding our life that the best always be done for us.

The kindness of G-d is such that he willingly forgives and helps those that may have erred in the past. He only expects a small effort – to regret that they went off His path and to commit to avoiding those deeds and replacing them with those that will serve to repair the world. This is called Tikkun HaOlam – Fixing the world through deeds congruent with the Torah.

For Gentiles this means following the 7 Noahide Laws and for Jews accepting the Foundations of the Judaism.

Simple enough.

3 Simple Spiritual Steps for Divine Protection

learning_togetherPeople usually see the world in One dimension – the physical dimension.

Duality of the World – the Spiritual Realm

Jewish People look at it in two dimensions – the spiritual realm and the physical realm.

We see clearly the spiritual dimension in Operation Protective Edge.

Though we do our best to protect ourselves from missile attacks in Israel by a military offensive – we also see the hand of G-d in deterring missiles from causing many casualties.

The Spiritual Dimension has an effect on the physical dimension. Because the Jews pray and follow the Torah, for the sake of Heaven – G-d protects us and our people.

It is really a cause and effect situation – positive spiritual efforts cause good, abundance and protection of the world. And spiritual degradation causes the opposite.

Thus, because of the spiritual efforts of the Jewish people, we are protected.

Jewish Amulets for Protection

Spiritual aids exist that help protect a person.

Kosher Mezuzas on the doors offer better protection of your home.

A Segula – is somewhat of an amulet or act that a person may do to affect a positive outcome.

For instance, King David had the Tehillim / Psalm 67 engraved in the Shape of a Menorah on his Shield. When he would contemplate the Tehillim in that shape he would receive divine protection.

Other Segulas for protection include – reading and believing in the 13 principles of Judaism from the Rambam.

Another One is to know clearly in one’s heart that “Ein Ode Milevado” – There is Only Hash-m / G-d. Meaning that only G-d controls all outcomes in the world.

Apparently these segulas are more effective when a person is also observing the Mitzvot properly.

Spiritual Growth

These offer excellent protection. Yet, the best protection, I feel is spiritual growth.

G-d wants us to be close to Him.

He sometimes sends difficulties for us to become closer. So if we respond to his messages, and make efforts to warm our relationship with Him, He will offer us greater protection. Obviously, desire for protection is not the main reason why someone should make a spiritual effort, but it is a fringe benefit.

The turmoil that occurs in the world causes us stress, it is nice to know that we have a safe haven – Hash-m to turn and look to. The Turmoil we see today may be the precursor to a war that the Jewish Prophets (Yechezkel / Ezekiel ch. 38-39) predicted, called the war of Gog Umagog.

Some of the things known about the War of Gog UMagog is that Gog is a leader, from a country in the North, that will battle against Israel. The Messiah will direct a military operation against Gog defending, Israel. The Messiah will be victorious. Some say the battle will last 3 hours. The Torah Genius, the Vilna Gaon said the war would last 12 minutes. It is possible if we are meritorious we will not have to be subject to this war.

Why People Sometimes Die Young

We cannot fathom the mysteries of G-d. Some Ask why bad things happen to good people?

Taking into account the spiritual dimension of life mentioned above, we can understand why people sometimes, G-d Forbid, die young. Sometimes it is because they came to this world to repair a transgression for what they did in a previous lifetime. They have a short stint, because when they make their reparation, they finished their spiritual objective in this life – and their soul is free to go back to Heaven.

A person comes to this world to earn reward to be able to live comfortably in the next world. If a good person starts descending spiritually too quickly and has no hope for improvement, G-d sometimes allows their life to be taken to prevent them from losing the reward for the next world that they already accumulated.

What to Believe in Today

G-d puts a person in a certain situation to see where they are holding. He puts them in a situation to see how they will react. Apparently, those that express their support or expose their biases in the conflict, are being prompted to do so by G-d. Then He will have a reason to either reward or punish them.

Thus it makes sense now for one to integrate the Torah’s outlook into their views. Not only will they see things, in a more objective manner, and will align their views with G-d’s perspective, but ultimately it will help them to be protected. Instead of relying on opinions of morality from “Human Right’s” activists, rely on morality from the one that created Humanity – G-d & His Guidebook – the Torah.

For a Jew to survive – it would be helpful to become familiar with the 13 principles of the Rambam and accept them. For a Gentile to Survive they should learn more about the 7 Noahide laws.

How to Live Long – Doing acts of loving-kindness

On the other side of the coin, by looking at the spiritual dimension, we learn how a person can improve his or her chances to live long.

Just doing kindness in itself helps a person merit to live long.

But there is another reason why a person merits to live long doing kindness. Doing acts of loving kindness – other people in the world will need this person’s kind deeds. G-d does not want to upset people. If a person would die, some people who love this person would feel badly or suffer by losing this kindness he or she was offering. Thus G-d spares their life.

There were two rabbis from the house of Eli. Members of the family of Eli had a propensity to live a short life. One Used to go out of their way to do acts of kindness. The other did not. The one that did kindness lived till 60 – the one that didn’t lived to 40.

Three Simple things one can do to improve their chances of protection.

1. Spiritual Growth – Doing a Mitzvah protects a person while they are involved in it. Slowly but steadily increasing Mitzvah observance will help a person to be protected. Teshuva – Regretting, and rejecting transgressions of the past and taking a new Mitzvah Upon oneself, little by little, when one is ready is the way to go. This prevents stagnation and makes life a beautiful growing process.

2. Torah Learning – Torah learning in itself protects a person even after they stop learning. Asides from being pleasurable, engaging and satisfying it helps a person to gain consolation from the difficulties. Setting a fixed time daily can be done by anyone. A plethora of Jewish Torah books exist in most English and other languages. Dedicating even Five Minutes daily – reading an Artscroll Chumash or learning with a learned Rabbi – over the phone – does wonders. A Gentile can learn about the 7 Noahide Laws.

3. Doing Acts of Kindness – helps a person to live long. Kindness includes providing hospitality for guests, visiting the ill, burying the dead, making peace between people, not speaking badly about others. Prayer for others well-being, and including yourself is also a kindness. Doing Kindness stems from the Mitzvah of “Loving Your Fellow.”

Some of the Specific things the Torah mentions to be saved from the war of Gog uMagog is – Partaking in the three meals of Shabbat, especially Seuda Shelishit (the 3rd meal). “Being occupied with Torah and Hesed / Kindnesss” is also mentioned by the Torah as a way to be saved from the war.

Someone once mentioned to me that “being occupied with Torah” means – Learning Torah.

And doing “Kindness” – means Teaching Torah.