Rosh Hashanah – Beginning Life Anew Daily

Grapes on grapevine, close-up.The Torah Reading / Parasha of Ki Tavo – speaks about giving the first fruits to the Holy Temple.

“Vehaya Ki tavo el ha aretz…” – When you come to the land that G-d gave you as an inheritance and you inherited it and you settled it. You shall take from the beginning of all the fruits of the earth that come from the land that G-d gave you and you shall place them in a basket and you shall go to the place that G-d has chosen. (The Holy Temple in Jerusalem). And you shall go to the Cohen that is in those days, and say to him, I arrived today to the land that the L-rd swore to our fathers to give to us. And the Cohen shall take the basket from your hand and place it before the altar of the L-rd, your G-d. (Devarim / Deut. 26:1-4)

When a person does something for the first time he or she is enthusiastic. The beginning of the school year is so exciting – fresh new clothes, new school supplies, new friends and new teachers.

The start of a new job – new office, new co-workers, new projects.

The first year of marriage.

But after a while the newness fades as does the excitement. The verse / pasuk teaches us that when we give for the sake of heaven we give as if it was the first time.

In serving G-d , like other things, the first time we engage in a Mitzvah it is exciting. After a while we become accustomed and lose the excitement. Our job in life is to keep every Mitzvah, fresh as if it is our first time. To keep the enthusiasm.

In the First verse / pasuk it uses the word “Vehaya” which denotes happiness. Apparently, one of the secrets to happiness is treating our actions as fresh and new. Also it says “I arrived this day…” Even people who lived many years in Israel had to say this. Showing that they treated every day as a bright new day.

We see this by Aharon haCohen / Moses Brother – when he lit the candles. In the Torah Reading / Parashat Behaalotcha it says :

And G-d Spoke to Moses Saying. Speak to Aharon and you shall say to him – in your kindling of the candles opposite the facade of the Menorah, (in the Tabernacle – the miniature, portable Temple), you shall light seven candles. And thus did Aharon do, opposite the facade of the Menorah, he kindled it’s candles as G-d commanded Moses.” (Bamidbar / Numbers 8:1-3)

The question arises – why was it necessary to write “Aharon did so … as Hash-m / G-d commanded Moses.” Of course he did as G-d said. Do we think that Aharon would ever do against the will of G-d?

Rashi / The classic commentator on the Torah explains the pasuk / verse :

And Aharon did So – [this is said] to tell [us] a praise for Aharon – that he did not change (Sifri 60)” Meaning to say every day that Aharon lit the Menorah, he did it with as much enthusiasm and fire as he did the first day. He lit the candles every day with the same excitement as he did the first time.

We can apply this concept to our everyday lives. Show appreciation for and to your spouse, your children, your family. Say thank you.

Once a student was invited to Rabbi Haim Shmuelevitz house. He said thank you for the delicious fish to his wife. The student asked after all these years you have to repeat this. He said when one gives a shiur and a person says it was very nice, even from a young person it feels good. So I have to express my thanks to her.

Everybody can use appreciation.

A statement in Kohelet / Ecclesiatics (2:14) says :

HeHacham einav berosho… – The Wise, his eyes are in his head…

Meaning that the wise person thinks things out before doing them. But it could also be interpreted “The Wise, his eyes are on the beginning” (of a matter) – meaning he always acts as if a project is new as in the beginning. He looks at the beginning and keeps doing it with excitement.

Rosh Hashana is the beginning of the year – a time of excitement and happiness. We do acts to have an impression on the rest of the year. Thus we don’t sleep during the day to avoid a lethargic year. We start with positive thoughts, enthusiasm and confidence to have an effect on the rest of the year.

It is up to us to develop that excitement as part of our personality. Each one of us are composed of four elements – fire, water, air and earth. Each represents a part of personality , one can be very light or light headed like air. One can be very enthusiastic like fire. One can be grounded like the earth. One can be very fluid and accepting like water.

The main job of Rosh Hashanah is to remove the traits that caused us to transgress. Many times it comes from lack of belief in ourselves. When we believe and are enthusiastic about Mitzvot, we are able to overcome our natural negative tendencies to overlook Mitzvot. Instilling in us the importance of each Mitzvah.

Releasing our Baggage from the Past

The concept of viewing things anew helps us propel ourselves to new heights. The concept of heaviness and carrying old baggage stops us from advancing. Some people think – just like in the past it was challenging for me to say the blessings for food, it will be in the future. So it is not worth it to start”

G-d will forgive us if we ask for pardon. G-d will give us a good year if we commit to starting anew. We just need to have confidence in ourselves and commit to bettering ourselves.

Our job is to bring out our fire in doing the Mitzvot / commandments. We start externally and it has an effect on us internally. Our main job is to work on our insides. To be happy with the Mitzvas. Our job is to bring out our good by appreciating others and bring out the good in ourselves and others – through enthusiasm.

Thinking that every minute is fresh and new, it is a new moment to begin – we release our baggage from the past and build a bright new future. We are able to go forward and become the great person we have the potential to be.

Internalizing this we can never become depressed, because every day is a bright, new day. We don’t carry over the disappointments from yesterday to today. Today is a new day to start afresh and anew.

Establishing a Connection with G-d. A Primer.

Red Hibiscus Flower
G-d made a fascinating world.

Nature

All in nature is needed.

The Bees to pollinate the flowers.

Trees for wood.

Metal for objects.

Ferocious animals here because the world would seem incomplete without them.

Radio waves for cell phones.

Flowers for beauty.

All is to serve the crown of creation, man.

Obviously, we must treat nature with respect.

And appreciate it.

Enjoy.

If a person does not enjoy the permitted pleasures, G-d will ask him or her in the next world, why did you not enjoy this fruit.

G-d does not want us to be an ascetic or a recluse.

He wants us to enjoy and appreciate.

G-d wants us to enjoy for within the constraints he set for us. For our own good.

Eating Kosher

It is good for the soul. It allows a person to refine oneself and better understand spirituality.

Once a woman asked a rabbi to explain the reason for a particular Mitzvah / commandment.

He explained, but she couldn’t feel it and integrate it into her being.

He asked her to eat kosher for a month and she would.

Sometimes words cannot explain what the feeling of the soul can.

People who Need People

G-d made the world that people need other people. He wants people to establish the world. It is a commandment for all people of the world – in the Seven Noahide laws.

Our gratitude can extend to thanking G-d for all the people who did things for us. The people who paved the street. The people who tended to the food until it reached our dining room table.

Appreciation

So what does G-d ask? Appreciation.

Once a year, we recite a blessing on the trees. Once a month we recite a blessing on the moon.

Before we eat, we recite a Blessing to thank G-d for the food. After eating we recite an after blessing.

We thank G-d for good health, after we relieve ourselves by reciting a blessing called Asher Yatzar.

We acknowledge G-d’s greatness and Oneness by reciting the Shema.

If we were to concentrate on all of the kindnesses that are provided by G-d every second, we would boost ourselves to a higher level of observance in gratitude.

A rabbi asked a question.

What does G-d provide for us every single moment, that we could not live without.

One answered – Food.

He replied – A person can live without water for a few days.

One answered, water.

A person can live without water for a few days.

One said air.

A person can hold their breath.

So what can’t we live without for one moment?

Life.

Enjoy it and Appreciate it.

Good Signs for the New Jewish Year

MP900309706(1)Dip the Apple in the Honey.

Make a Beracha (Blessing) Loud and Clear.

Shana Tova u Metuka.

Have a Good and Sweet Year.

Thus goes the children’s song. (Sung to the tune of “Clementine”)

The Path to spirituality in Judaism is to take the mundane and to transform it into the holy.

To take the physical and uplift it to the spiritual realm.

On the two nights of Rosh Hashanah we conduct a short Seder / Order of eating foods whose names are symbolic or sound like a good sign for the new year. This is accompanied by a short prayer for a good outcome related to the food’s symbolic sign said before eating it.

The Apple dipped in Honey – which is sweet and delicious – is one of foods we eat is a physical sign to express hope for a sweet year materially and spiritually.

Moroccans eat Pomegranate Seeds, each representing a Mitzvah, for the hope we will take part in many Mitzvot / Commandments in the New Year. There are some 613 seeds in each pomegranate – equal to the number of commandments for the Jewish people – 613. Thus the statement – Even the unlearned Jew is full of Mitzvot like a Pomegranate.

Jewish Laws on Symbolic Foods

A child’s early childhood upbringing will have an effect on their adulthood. The start of the project has influence on the projects future.

Similarly the beginning of the year has an effect on the future. Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish year, we start with foods that are symbolic of the positive outcome for the future.

On Rosh Hashanah we eat sweets for a sweet year. We eat a sweet apple with honey and say an introductory prayer related to the food for the rest of the year. We avoid anger to avoid quarrels. We avoid excessive sleep to have a lucrative year.

Although believing in omens is forbidden in Judaism, many rabbis discuss why using these omens are permitted in the beginning of the year. According to the Tur’s opinion these are all good omens so there’s no concern of divination. The Meiri writes these utterances have an effect on inspiring one’s repentance and good deeds.

Repentance is an important part of Rosh Hashana to assure that we are inscribed in the book of life. Transgression blocks our being our true self. For really we are the soul and our soul only wants to do good. When we repent for our misdeeds we become closer to G-d and closer to our true self. When G-d sees we want to improve, we change ourselves into a new, different and better person, and G-d gives us a new year full of bounty and blessing.

The Magen Avraham says that’s one may use foods whose name carries the implication of the blessings even if it is not a Hebrew name for the food. Pursuant to this opinion many communities have adopted the custom to eat carrots on Rosh HaShanah. Carrots and in Yiddish is Mehren which also means increase.

The order of Rosh Hashanah Dinner Meals
1. Kiddush on the wine
2. The Seder / Order of Symbolic Foods Starts (see Below) – Eating of symbolic foods preceded by prayer or divine requests
3. Blessing on Fruits
4. Blessing on Vegetables
5. Ritual Washing of the hands before bread (Some say the Order of Symbolic foods after eating bread)
6. Blessing on Bread
7. Start of the main meal
8. Grace after meals

The Order of the Symbolic Foods of Rosh Hashanah

Customs for Order of the Symbolic Foods vary. One should follow their own custom. There is a text stated before eating each food. It can be found in Rosh Hashana Machzors / Prayer Books.

Ashkenaz / Eastern European
1. Apple dipped in Honey
2. Carrots
3. Leek or cabbage
4. Beets
5. Dates
6. Gourd
7. Pomegranate
8. Fish
9. Head of sheep or fish

Sephardic and Edut HaMizrach/ Middle Eastern and Spanish
1. Date / Tamar
2. Leek / Karti
3. Swiss chard / Selek
4. Black eyed peas or Fenugrek / Rubia or Lubia
5. Gourd or pumpkin / Kera
6. Pomegranate / Rimon
7. Head of Ram or Fish / Rosh Keves or Dag
8. Apple dipped in Honey

Moroccan
1. Apple dipped in Honey
2. Leeks or Onions
3. Swiss Chard
4. Date
5. Gourd or Pumpkin
6. Grains of Sesame
7. Pomegranate
8. Head of Sheep (or Fish)

Some Moroccans Add Optional Foods like Anise Seeds and Fig

Other Optional Foods -
The Magen Avraham said you can add foods that have a positive symbol or have words that resemble good tidings even in languages other than Hebrew. Here is a list that we compiled

Raisin & Celery – “Raise in Salary”
Bread, Chocolate Coins or Dough – to make money
Cashew – “Cash – You”
Mango – to get rid of annoying neighbor
Spelt – to improve your spelling
Roll – if you are a comedian
Peas – for Peace
Liver – to live
Brain – To be smart
Herring – to improve your hearing
Leek – if you are a plumber
Meat & Honey – If you wish to get married – “Meet Honey.”
Ketchup – if you are a runner
Steak in Apple – To Gain Shares in Apple Computer

Remember to accompany them with the proper introductory prayer i.e, “May it be Your will G-d and G-d of our fathers that you improve my hearing.” and eat the herring.

Starting the Year with Happiness

One tries to avoid eating bitter or sour foods on Rosh Hashana to assure a sweet year.

One should avoid anger on Rosh Hashana for the reasons mentioned. One’s Mood should be that of happy confidence. Happy to look forward to a positive new year. And confident that one will be inscribed in the book of life. A rabbi once told me that after one feels badly for their transgression, they should feel happy in order to not fall into depression because of their sins. We should be happy that we have a forgiving Father in Heaven that cares about each and every one of our lives.

The Torah says when teaching Torah it is good to start with a Joke. Apparently it is good to start of the year with happiness as well. The Tzemach Tzedek says “Think Good and it will be good.”

Foods to Avoid

Thus below is humor for the new year.

Here is a list we compiled of foods that one should avoid eating in excess on Rosh Hashana. (This section is humor and these foods need not be avoided)
Tongue – if you are talkative
Turnover – to avoid your employees from quitting
Date with a nut – if you are looking to get married
Ice Cream – “to avoid anger”
Popcycle – if you are a bicyclist to avoid flats
Kix, Smacks, Hits
Hotdog – “if you don’t want your dog to have a fever.”
Chicken – if you are afraid
Wine – if you have children
Crab Apple – to avoid being crabby
Pickle or Jam – “To avoid being in a pickle or a Jam”

So Now You have a Shopping List. Don’t Forget the Cake, candies and other sweets for the kids and the family.

May you and your family have a Healthy, Happy and Meaningful New Year.

Don’t Change. G-d Loves You Just the Way You Are

MP900390499You are Unique.

There are no two people in the world who are exactly alike.

In looks or in thoughts or in deeds.

G-d made it that way.

Torah says:

Our rabbis taught: If one sees a crowd of Israelites, one says: ‘Blessed be He who discerns secrets’—because the mind of each is different from that of another, just as the face of each is different from that of another. (Talmud, Berachot 58a.)

When a human being makes many coins from the same mint, they are all the same. God makes everyone in the same image—His image—yet none is the same as another. (Talmud:Sanhedrin 4:5)

G-d Loves You

You are a unique individual. G-d understands your strengths and weaknesses. He appreciates your unique personality. A person may think themselves small, in the grand scheme of things, but to G-d each person has great potential. He loves the simple person, sincere in their daily chores, work and family life. He wants them to also include Him in their life – for their own good.

I envy the simple, honest man who works from 9 to 5 and brings bread home to the family. One that takes time to take care of the needs of each family member. One that relates to each according to their personality. One that infuses Judaism in their daily family life.

G-d loves them too.

A Better You

In the song which Moses says to the People of Israel, he says “Let My Teaching Fall Like Rain” (Torah – Torah Reading : HaAzinu / Deuteronomy 8:17).

Let my teaching fall like rain
and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass,
like abundant rain on tender plants.

G-d’s word, the Torah, is like rain. It helps a person blossom. It helps them to bring out their potential. What is there, it will help a person grow. If a person is kind, it will help them to bring out their kindness. It will make them grow, to approach their potential to do good for others, by motivating and by its teachings.

The Right Path to Kindness.

Let’s take kindness.

Being truly Kind entails understanding kindness. At times, being cruel is being “kind” and at times being kind is being “cruel.” The Torah teaches what actions are in order for what situations.

For instance a person who gently forces an unwilling person to take bitter medication – is kind.

Giving a person illegal drugs can be cruel.

The Torah teaches us to bring out our kindness in the most effective way.

Water of Torah

The Torah is like rain.

It will help you bring out your best.

Reluctance to change causes thinking erroneously that if one takes upon themselves a new Mitzvah, they will lose autonomy. A new Mitzvah opens new horizons for a person. It allows them to break their plateau, while bringing out the best of their personalities to ultimately help them reach their potential.

Rain doesn’t change a flower.

It just brings out its true potential.

Painting Yourself into A Corner? Set Yourself Free

Paintbrush with Blue PaintYou paint the floor.

You start at the door.

In a corner, you suddenly realize you are trapped. You think – “How am I going to get out without stepping on the paint?”

What Do you do?

We encounter similar situations in life.

We put ourselves in a situation, that leads to another until we are in a corner.

Examples abound.

“That person is so nice. Let me become friendly.” You think “They are fun to be with but not a person who would be a mate for marriage.” It becomes a dead-end relationship. You’ve been together for so long, Should you decide to tie the knot on not… Both are ambivalent. The marriage ends in divorce. Or remaining unmarried, after years it ends off with a break-up. Tender years that one could have spent raising a family were spent perusing the bars.

We spend on our credit cards. “I’ll pay it back. $25,000 in credit – I might as well use it!” After a couple of months… “Where will I get the money to pay back?”

“Let me go to Atlantic City to have a good time. I’ll bet Just $100 – the chips that the Casino gives as a perk…”

What now?

Let’s first deal with how not to get painted into a corner and then we’ll see how to get out.

Rule 1 to not get painted into a corner is – Know your specific goal and pursue it. Don’t get side tracked

Precise Goals

A Torah Jew has very precise goals to start with. One goal is: To get married. They don’t date to have fun. Not that they don’t have fun on dates. They surely do. But the purpose is not to have a good time. It is to find the right partner for marriage.

So they start -before dating someone – with a list of requirements – which includes – Jewish, Good character traits, Torah observant, personable, kind-hearted, similar-goals in life, etc.

When they find someone that has these traits and they can get along with, they already settled half of the problems that arise in a marriage.

Rule 2 – Think about the repercussions of your actions

In Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers it discusses “What is the good path for man?”

The Path of Good
He [Rabban Yohanan ben Zaccai] said to them [his students] – go out and see which is the good path to which a person should cleave. Rabbi Eliezer says a good eye, Rabbi Yehoshua says a good friend, Rabbi Yossi says a good neighbor Rabbi Shimon says one who sees the outcome of his actions and Rabbi Elazar says a good heart. He said to them I see the words of Rabbi Eleazar ben Arach from your words – for included in his words are your words. (Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers 2:9)

One thing to remember is seeing the results of ones actions and having the ends in mind at the beginning.

An anecdote:

A wealthy man was on the train. A young man next to him asked him for the time. The man didn’t respond. His wife asked “why didn’t you respond?” He answered “Because – after he asked me the time he would have asked me about what I do. I would have told him. He would have inquired about our family. And I would have told him. He would have inquired if we have a daughter of marriageable age. Then He would have asked to see if he could meet her. I don’t want my daughter meeting a boy who can’t even afford a watch.”

Obviously, this is a joke. But there is truth to it, that one has to see the repercussions of one’s actions. Not just the immediate results.

Rule 3 – Make a conscious, thought-out decision to continue or stop. And stick to it.

Some people go on endless dates and can’t seem to decide if a potential mate is appropriate for them for marriage. Yes there must be chemistry, but if one mate wants to party in the club scenes on Friday nights and the other wants to spend a meaningful Shabbat evening together with the family, it might be better to stop right then. One should examine the goals of the others – If one’s main goals is on material luxuries and the other one’s main goal is on building a solid family that will follow in the pleasant ways of the Torah – it seems that parting might be a better solution than continuing.

Make a decision not because you feel guilty about the past, but because you see a positive outcome for the future.

Rule 4 – Make Torah guidelines your own.

The Torah is here for the good of people. Gambling is frowned upon in Judaism. Thus, being sincere to Torah, one will altogether avoid a casino to begin with. A Jewish person will refuse dating out of the Jewish brotherhood. They know that the Torah guidelines for life make for a more compatible and spiritually satisfying marriage.

Make yourself into the person you want to be. Make yourself into a person similar to a person you want to meet. Some advice I give to singles is – to reinforce themselves in Judaism before they get married.

Why?
G-d will help you to be paired with someone who is similar to you.
If you are hanging out at bars and discos, you will likely meet someone who hangs out there.
If you are observing the Shabbat, then G-d will likely have you meet someone who observes the Sabbath.
If you want your spouse to appreciate Torah, attend Torah lectures or learn Torah regularly.
The greater you make yourself, the greater the spouse G-d will pair you with.

Obviously, you must do your proper effort to meet the right people. You must do the due diligence to check them out though references and pointed questions before you meet. But the general way of the world – is you meet people similar to yourself.

Parents that want their children to marry Jewish, would do good to observe the Shabbat and the Mitzvot carefully. They would gain by associating themselves with an Orthodox synagogue, with respectable Rabbis and people who appreciate Torah Judaism. Living in a Jewish Neighborhood helps. Learning Torah regularly also is recommended. Sending Children to a Torah day school is one of the most powerful ways to assure children marry Jewish.

Rule 5 – Discuss your situation with a person whose Situation you’d like to be in.

You see a person with a solid family. They have good values. A family that spends time together and are so together. A family that enjoys Shabbat meals together and good times. You are a single person, looking for satisfaction in life. You would like to build a family. Talk with the person who seems to be already where you would want to be for advice. Obviously, you must know the person enough that you are relatively confident that you can trust the person.

Already in a Corner – Set Yourself Free

The Emotional Corner – Emotional Freedom
An emotional corner is when you build up your expectations for something and then when you don’t get it, you are upset, angry, hurt, or depressed. One way to avoid this is instead of having one positive outcome – and one negative one – have two positive outcomes if it works out or not.

I need a car. My car is at the mechanic. I eye a car at a local car dealership. I save my money and go to the dealer to buy a “pre-owned” vehicle. That perfect one I wanted – I find out it was sold the day before.

I have two possible ways to react – I can be upset because I didn’t get the car I wanted.
This would happen if I set myself up – with the thought – if I get the vehicle – that is good. If I don’t that is bad.

Or I could be happy – because, perhaps the vehicle I wanted was not right for me.
This would happen if I set myself up – with the thought – if I get the vehicle – that is good. If I don’t that is good also, because G-d does the best for me. Having faith in the goodness of G-d helps one maintain a positive attitude – for everything that happens – whether good or whether it looks bad, is good.

Situational Corner – Freeing Yourself
At times one gets moments of clarity and they realize – for instance, that they just spent 10 precious years of their life with someone who had no intention of marriage or building a family. So what now? Take action. Look at the future. Save the future.

Once a man checked His Tephillin / Phylacteries after using them for 2 years. He found that they were not Kosher. His friends asked aren’t you upset for the past? He answered “No. I am happy that now that I fixed them I will be able to do the Mitzvah of wearing Tephillin properly in the future.”

Don’t sulk about the past and soak in tears of self-pity. Do something. You have a positive future ahead of you.

In a corner? Seek help from family and true friends. Seek guidance from a reputable Orthodox Rabbi. And of course pray to Hash-m. He has the power to remedy any situation for the good.

The Torah states even if the sword is against one’s neck they should never give up hope of salvation from Hash-m.

Being Fruitful – the Commandment to have Children

Reaching Potential

Reaching Potential

Kids.

Really fun.

A great blessing.

You just have to love them.

They look to you for support and love.

They help keep you sane.

Occasionally remaining calm is a challenge,

when they turn to you for their needs and you are busy.

G-d put them in your hands to bring the best out of them.

Every day is a new day to discover and appreciate them.

The First Commandment

“There are three partners in the creation of man: G-d, his father and his mother. His father supplies the white seed, out of which are formed the child’s bones, sinews, nails, the brain in his head and the whites of his eyes. His mother supplies the red seed, out of which is formed his skin, flesh, hair, blood and the black of his eyes. And G-d gives him the spirit and the breath, beauty of features, eyesight, the power of hearing and the ability to speak and to walk, understanding and discernment. When his time comes to depart from the world, G-d takes away His part and leaves the parts of his father and his mother with them.” (Talmud: Kiddushim 30b & Niddah 31a)

The first commandment mentioned in the Torah is the commandment to have children.

Jews and Gentiles have this commandment.

One reason is for the proper settlement of the world.

The commandment is incumbent upon a male. It is the man that asks for the hand of the woman, not vice versa. It is the male that pursues – a woman does not pursue the male.

The commandment is to have one boy and one girl. Some say two of each.

The Proper Balance

Having children is a positive commandment from the Torah. Those that choose not to have children – would do good to reconsider. In the Talmud, Ben Azzai chose not to have children – but the rabbis did not condone his behavior.

Rabbi Eliezer said, “He who does not engage in the propagation of the human race is like one who sheds blood.”
Rabbi Jacob said, “It is as if he diminished the Divine Image. For the Torah says “…in the image of G-d He made man” [Genesis 9:6], and then immediately afterwards comes “Be fruitful and multiply”.’
Ben Azzai said, “It is as if he sheds blood, and as if he diminishes the Divine Image.”
Ben Azzai himself, however, was not married.
They said to Ben Azzai,”Some preach well and act well, others act well but do not preach well. You come into a different category: you preach well, but do not act well.”
Said Ben Azzai, `What can I do? My soul is in love with the Torah. Let the world be carried on by others.’
– Talmud: Yevamot 63b

A person who wishes to refrain from procreation should consult with a competent Orthodox Rabbi.

A Proper Education – Helping a child reach their potential

Said the Hafetz Hayyim: “Every man enters this world with a certain endowment. It behooves him to make use of his endowment, for he will be held accountable regarding it.”
-(Mikhtevei ha-Rav Hafetz Hayyim, Aryeh Leib Pupko, Warsaw, 1937, p.51)

Apparently a couple is given a child because they have the ability to bring out their potential.

Rabbi Uri used to say:”I am not afraid that I will be judged for not being like the Patriarch Abraham. I am not Abraham and can never be. What I fear is that I will be judged for not being all that I could be.”
-(Imre Kadosh, R. Margulies, publisher, Lwow. p.9)

The pleasure that we gain from them is intrinsic, but our goal should be what is best for them – materially and spiritually.

Parents provide materially for children and teach them a trade – like it says:

Anyone who does not teach his son a skill or profession may be regarded as if he is teaching him to rob.
– Talmud: Kiddushin 29a

Spiritually parents set the example for children:

A father should be careful to keep his son from lies and he should always keep his word to his children.
– Talmud: Sukkah 46b

The main goal of parents is to teach children kindness, goodness, humility and the pleasant paths of the Torah.

G-d, with His infinite wisdom, gave us Torah as a guide for our and our children’s lives to attain satisfaction and our potential for doing good.

G-d gave us children – a tremendous opportunity to do kindness to them and ultimately to the world. By providing them with a proper Torah education – they achieve meaning, true goodness, happiness and reach their potential in Tikkun HaOlam – Benefiting the World. Ultimately they become givers – who develop wholesome relationships with others and giving pleasure to their parents and their Creator.

“There are three partners in creation: the Holy One of Blessing, the father, and the mother. When a person gives honor to his father and mother, the Holy One of Blessing says, ‘I consider it as if I had lived among them and they had given honor to Me.” (Kid. 30b)


Source: Sefer HaChinuch – First Positive Commandment

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.