Signs of the Jewish Redemption Close

hamikdashJews have been waiting for the redemption for thousands of years.

When the redeemer – the Mashiach – will come, ultimately he will cause peace to reign in the world.

Prophesies Fulfilled

Many Torah prophesies have been fulfilled.

It is up to us to pray and repent to merit the redemption.

If we repent and return to the ways of the Torah and call to Hash-m we will not need an all out war – called the War of Gog uMagog*. If we don’t we might have to go through one.

Some prophesies are that the world will align against Israel.

There will be great Miracles – like the Time of the Exodus from Egypt. We see many Miracles with our own eyes today that over 1,800 Armed rockets were shot at the citizens of Israel, with hardly any casualties.

This fact in itself could prompt a person to open their eyes – that G-d is protecting the Jews. If you know that G-d is protecting them, so the natural thing to do – after accepting the truth of the Torah – is to take heed to G-d’s message and be thankful to His great kindness.

The great Torah sage – the Vilna Gaon – said that the war will last about 12 minutes.

A great contemporary sage – Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, said – that “If we merit it, the redemption is very close.”

Rabbi Kanievsky alluded that this year there might not be a need to fast on the 9th of Av. When a person getting married asked him, when would be a good date to get married, he mentioned “the 9th of Av” (Av is a Jewish Month) / Tish’a B’av – which is usually a day of national mourning for the destruction of the Temple. Someone else asked the Rabbi to write a letter of approbation for his book. Rabbi Kanievsky asked “What is the Subject?” He replised “Laws of Mourning on the 9th of Av.” Rabbi replied, “There’s no need to write one, for it will not be relevant anymore.”

Now is the time to make more of an effort to follow in the pleasant paths of the Torah.

May we merit that this year be the year where the true redeemer will arrive – to bring peace to the world.


* To be protected during this period of the birth-pangs of the Messianic times the Torah says one should be diligent to partake in the third meal (and the other two) of Shabbat – Shalosh Seudos / Seuda Shelishit.

G-d Protecting Israel – The Message of the Missiles

city_of_davidKing David wrote Tehillim / Psalms expressing the human condition of the Jewish people. Jews recite them to express our innermost emotions and soothe our fears by appealing to the mercy of Hash-m.

In times of distress or happiness we express ourselves and our hearts with prayer and psalms.

The Shortest Section in Tehillim is 117. It expresses that the Nations of the World should praise Hash-m / G-d.

As it says:

Give Laud to Hash-m All [ye] Nations, Give Praise to Him All [ye] people.
For He Strongly Bestowed upon us [the nation of Israel] his loving-kindness
and the truth of Hash-m is always,
Praise Hash-m. (Tehillim / Psalm 117)

The question arises is why did King David tell the gentile people of the world particularly to extol Hash-m, shouldn’t the Jews also laud Hash-m?

At times nations of the world make plans to try to harm the Jewish Nation. G-d sees their plans and foils them. Only those who wanted to perpetrate these acts knew of their plans and saw firsthand how they were foiled. King David says to these people who knew of these plans and saw first hand, the Hand of G-d foiling them should offer praise to Him.

In the Gulf war, we saw scuds fired at Israel and foiled. Now, we see hundreds of missiles being fired at Israel and each one being foiled by the Hand of G-d. This psalm is very appropriate now to recite to praise Hash-m for all the open miracles.

In the time before the coming of the Mashiach / Messiah – the Torah says we will witness miracles greater in magnitude than those of the 10 plagues. Apparently this is one of them.*

Recognizing the great miracles and Kindness of G-d / Hash-m in protecting our nation, should prompt us to strengthen ourselves
in doing acts of kindness for one another,
in asking forgiveness from Hash-m for past deeds,
in doing the Mitzvot and
in making peace among ourselves.

Let’s pray to Hash-m for the continued protection and well-being of our nation in this difficult period.


* To be protected during this period of the birth-pangs of the Messianic times the Torah says one should be diligent to partake in the third meal (and the other two) of Shabbat – Shalosh Seudos / Seuda Shelishit.

Getting Things Done – Motivation Revisited

Businessman Wearing RemindersBeing a productive member of society is a goal of many.

Why?

More than just a nice thing to do, apparently it stems from a Mitzvah / Torah Commandment.

It is possible that this same Mitzvah explains the reasoning behind Theodore Herzberg’s theory of Motivation in employee management.

In an Article on Motivation in Business Mr. Herzberg explains that at work people are satisfied by certain factors and dissatisfied by other factors. He Has a Two Factor Motivation Theory.

Motivators – certain Job factors at work – satisfy employees. But a lacking them at the workplace will not dissatisfy workers.

Hygiene Factors are certain environmental factors at the workplace related to dissatisfaction of employees. But lack of dissatisfaction with them will not satisfy employees.

Motivators or Job Factors include
Achievement
Recognition
Work itself
Responsibility
Advancement
Growth

Hygiene Factors include
Company policy and administration
Supervision
Relationship with supervisor
Work conditions
Salary
Relationship with peers
Personal life
Relationship with subordinates
Status
Security

Mr. Herzberg backs up his theory with empirical evidence from surveys. He shows similarities between workers in various countries. He poses the question himself why do these Motivators Motivate?

Apparently the answer is:

G-d made humans with an innate sense of what is right and wrong. What is right and wrong is explained in the Torah – in the Mitzvot / Commandments. One of the commandments of the Torah is LiYishuv Shel Olam / Settlement of the world.

G-d gave commandments for all humanity – these are the 7 Noahide laws. These are 7 Major categories – which are actually 30 laws. The 25th law of the 30 in the Category of Law and Order is Settlement of the World. By Working a person builds the world, making it a livable place. Working is a Mitzvah. A person who works because Hash-m / G-d gave the commandment to settle the world gets a greater reward than a person who just works because they need to make ends meet.

Apparently, this Mitzvah is linked to the satisfaction of people. People who accomplish this Mitzvah gain greater satisfaction from work and are more motivated, because they feel that they are fulfilling the Mitzvah. All the Motivators are related to the proper settlement of the World – Achievement, Recognition, Work itself,
Responsibility, Advancement, Growth

The Mitzvah that may unconsciously serve as the motivation for people at work.

We learn, several things – accomplishing Mitzvahs satisfy people. Apparently, the soul is satisfied, so the person is satisfied.

The opposite also applies, at times a person feels rotten inside, but they cannot pinpoint why? It is possible because they are disregarding certain Mitzvahs that cause the soul sadness.

Obviously, a good place to start is to learn more about Judaism.

Making one’s activities correspond to the Mitzvahs is one way to reach higher levels in personal satisfaction.

Getting Things Done
One’s Getting things done can also be improved through knowing the outlook of Torah.

Want to know something is right? See what the Torah says.

Some people never get married. Their goal in life is to enjoy themselves and to escape commitment. What does the Torah say?

The Torah helps people to see life in the proper light and directs a person’s life to achieve their potential in life.

A person has a commandment to be fruitful and multiply. Thus marriage is an obligatory commandment for males and a recommended commandment for females.

A person who takes the commandment to get married to heart will treat it as a requirement to get done. One should take finding their soul-mate as seriously as one normally would search for a job.

Sometimes when asked why they tarry to marry – a person of marriageable age says “I have to find a Job… or I have to get my degree… I need to have a substantial amount of money in my account… before I get married.”

But G-d doesn’t pose those requirements. People pose these requirements on themselves.

G-d is in charge of how much a person will make. Don’t try to add requrirements upon yourself that G-d himself doesn’t have. One of the only requirements that a Jew has in order to get married is that the partner be Jewish.

Obviously, you should search for a person with good character traits, someone mentally stable, a person with a good heart. And you must do your due diligence – get references about the potentials mate – ask pointed questions, like do they have a bad temper, are they mentally stable, are they taking any medications, are they seeing a psychologist, etc. And prayer is also in order, but in the end one should treat getting married and having children as a commandment – an obligation to be fulfilled and in the end following in the path of the Mitzvahs a person usually ends up happy.

Caring Effectively – When and How to Intervene for Others

Hand Reaching
The Stranded Driver

You are driving along the highway. You see a person stopped on the the road shoulder with their blinkers on. You are tempted to stop and lend a helping hand. But you don’t. You just zoom by and say someone else will help them.

Is it right?

Apparently, it is right. Why? Because other people can help this person and you have other responsibilities. You are responsible for being there for your family. If others can help this person and you stopped for each person stranded on the side, you wouldn’t get your work done and would hardly see your family. So zooming by is the proper response. Perhaps you can offer a little prayer.

If they are in danger, obviously you may be more obligated to help them. Like it says “Don’t stand by the blood of your fellow.”

Order of Responsibility

There is an order of responsibility. You are more responsible for those closer to you.

If it was a family member you saw on the road, you should stop. If you realize that it is a fellow Jew, perhaps you should stop, if you have no other pressing responsibilities.

There was a Gentile that had a Yarmulka in his car in case he had a flat. He noticed that more people came to help stranded people wearing a Yarmulka.

Why do Jewish people come to aid their fellows? Jews are part of one great family, and we are more responsible for family members than others.

Every Jew is responsible for one another.

Each Jews is an integral part of the whole Jewish people. Like each member of a body that is affected by the pain of other parts, Jews feel for the other members of the Congregation of Israel. If one is pained, we experience pain as well because they are an integral part of the whole.

Efforts made by fellow Jews to support the 3 Kidnapped boys in Israel testify to the this. Jews from all walks of life prayed for their safe return.

Characteristics describing Jews are Shy, Merciful and Bestowing of Kindness.

This makes for a caring attitude for the welfare of the nation and other people.

Why Jews win Nobel Prizes?

I believe that the above is one of the reasons why Jews win so many Nobel prizes. Their merciful trait for others motivates them to initiate a project of good for the world. The trait of bestowing kindness motivates them to work hard to achieve the desired result. Like it says, nothing stands in the way of a will.

Whenever we can help we should do our utmost to help – quickly and with enthusiasm – after thoughtful consideration. Apparently if a person asked you to help, G-d determined that you could possibly help this person in some way and you should do your utmost to help given the considerations below.

Is it Possible For Others to Help

One of the greatest Mitzvah that a person can do is to learn Torah.

If a person asks them to do another important Mitzvah when they are involved with learning Torah – they must ask themselves “Can this mitzvah be done by others, so that I won’t have to stop my learning?”

Thus if someone else can do it, it is better for you to continue learning and let someone else do the Mitzvah.

Considerations in Helping

Before a person throws themselves into a kindness project several considerations should come to mind.

Is this permitted from the Torah?
What is the Torah view of what I want to do?
Is it a requirement or a nice thing to do?
Is this my responsibility?
Is this part of my goal in life?
Can it be done by others?
Is it my priority?
Will the time take away from my responsibility to people closer to me?
Does doing it have negative repercussions on other aspects of or people in my life?

Answering these questions will aid a person to sort out what they should be doing or not.

The Torah Commandments encourage a person to help others. Commandments for returning a lost object. Commandments for helping a person load or unload an animal. Commandments to help the poor to love the convert to honor the parents all encourage the active caring of others.

When to Help Others

A true story: People were learning Torah. A wagon driver came barging into the study hall and asked those learning – to help him pull his donkey out of the mud. The people there started deliberating at length – should they interrupt their Torah learning to help the driver? Finally when they came to the conclusion that they should help, it was too late.

They decided the proper thing to do – they should help – but it took too much time. Eventually they were punished for not helping quickly.

The board of directors of a school is approached by another school for background information on a former employee that the new school wants to hire. The school knows of negative information regarding this employee that could help the new institution – like that he mismanaged funds.

They must let the other school know to protect the new school from the same. Otherwise they might be guilt of transgressing the Torah law of “Do not stand upon the blood of your neighbor.” Obviously, a competent rabbi in laws of Lashon HaRah / Evil Speech should be consulted.

When Jewish men pray together, they need 10 Jewish men to say certain prayers – this is called a Minyan – Quorum of 10 men. If people need a Minyan and you are free, your personal preferences should be put aside to help the others or at least help them to complete the Minyan.

How to Help Others

The reason why people rise or fall in life depends upon their view of what is their scope of responsibility.

A married secretary is having a hard time with personal matters, she approaches the boss for support. He does what he can to help and give her comforting words but the brunt of comforting and support should be from her husband. The boss could help his secretary indirectly, by speaking with others – like her family members, or husband, or female employees – to help her with things that other people can help with. For if he helps her directly might create an improper bond of closeness between them. He should help her to a point but the rest he should put on others shoulders – for it is not his problem.

A person proposes a nice woman for a single man to marry. The person knows that she is a good woman. He proposes her to a particular party. The person wavers and is undecided and pushes things off. You can only help him to get married to a point – like it says – you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

From the laws of charity we learn the greatest way to help others is to empower them to become self sufficient – ie, provide them with a source of livelihood. Like, it is better to give a person a fishing pole than a fish.

Knowing when to say “Not My Problem” – Three Words for focusing your giving

The general rule is to know what is your place. Know what is your responsibility or and what is not. Knowing when to say “Not my problem” can help you to concentrate your efforts and giving to the people towards whom you have greater responsibility. It will also prevent many heart aches.

Do what you can to help, but put the ball into the court of the person who should be helping.

The boss is crying. If you are a female, Call a male co-worker to calm him. Or call his wife. It is not your problem.

The secretary needs financial help, find ways to support her indirectly.

Priorities in Giving

There is an order of priority in giving charity. They help us to learn how to focus our efforts in our giving.

“Aniecha ve-aniei Ircha Anieecha Kodemim” / ענייך ועניי עירך ענייך קודמים (בבא מציעא עא

Your poor people (ie, of your family) and the poor people of your city, your poor people (of your family) come first.

Meaning if you have charity to give and you can give to a Jewish organization that helps poor people, you might reconsider and give to your brother or nephew, or uncle that is having financial difficulties.

The same applies to time.

If your family needs your time, and strangers need your time, you have more of a responsibility to help your family.

Once a person went to talk with a Rosh Yeshiva about problems of Shalom Bayit / Peace at Home with his wife. His wife complained that he was spending too much time on his Job doing Kiruv /Jewish Outreach by helping others, while he was neglecting his family. The Rosh Yeshiva decided that his wife’s concerns were proper and sided with her. The man did not do enough to focus his giving to his family. Unfortunately, they ended up in divorce.

One must know their priorities in giving.

Your greatest responsibility is to give of your time, efforts or support to your people, your family, your immediate family and yourself. Knowing your priorities leads a person to more fruitful and satisfying relationships with people that your are closest with.

It’s also helpful to remember:

One who is compassionate with others, will receive compassion from Heaven. (Talmud: Shabbat)

Finding the Real Me – Too Cool to Be Cool

IceTorah is reality.

The last letters of the first three words of the Torah – taf, aleph, mem – combined spell Emet in Hebrew – truth.

Reality is related to truth.

Torah is real. Superman is not.

Kindness is real. Hollywood movies are not.

Prayer is real. Propaganda is not.

Undercurrent of Reality

Torah Laws guide the world.

The events of the world are a result of the spiritual and physical actions of the people. If people do good goodness will reign. The opposite also applies.

A person who does a Mitzvah can cause great goodness to be bestowed upon the world. Perhaps because you gave a poor person a dollar, this had a chain effect that caused food to be supplied to a third world nation. We will not discuss the mechanics, but this concept exists.

Guarding One’s Eyes & Protecting Lives

Once a man was sitting in the front of a bus. A woman boarded the bus dressed immodestly. He turned his glance to refrain from looking. Another woman came on, and he closed his eyes again. He decided to go to the back of the bus.

Being tired, he slumbered. He dreamed that there was a bomb under his seat. Upon awaking, he dismissed it from his mind. Slumbering again, he had the same dream. When he decided to check under his seat he saw a package with wires emerging. He immediately notified the driver and all were evacuated from the bus. When all passengers were off, the bomb exploded.

Shortly after, the man went to see a great Jewish sage – Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira – the Baba Sali. Baba Sali explained the incident – the bus was to explode causing great damage. But when the man did two acts of guarding his eyes, he created two protecting angels. The angels pleaded before G-d and said – You can’t let this bus explode, there is a righteous person on the bus. For this the man had two dreams and the bus was saved.

Following the eyes is also falsity because many times the illusions that one follows are just that – illusions of happiness, satisfaction, comfort. A person who watches a movie is the same person that they were when they went out. It does not change him or his life. It allowed him to spend some time by escaping, but the person remains the same.

A Mitzvah changes a person. They become a more giving or kind person by doing a Mitzvah. Thus it is a reality – for it changes the person for the better.

A person who lives with an attitude of mainly grasping momentary enjoyment, puts reality on the back-burner – for what are they left with at the end of their lives? The enjoyment past, they end up empty handed. Dead-end dates. Dead-end friends.

Yet a person with a Torah perspective lives in reality. Their relationships are to build families. One of the first commandments is to have children. A person following Torah usually ends up with a family that follows the same path of building the world.

What is reality? – How to Find the Real Me

Reality is being yourself. Reality is acting the best way that you can, without being overly or negatively influenced by others.

Some people need the attention or approval of others for their self-worth. But this is in essence falsity, because the approval of others does not determine the self-worth of a person. It might be a sign of the goodness of the person, but it does not determine their self worth. One’s noble acts in following the precepts of the Torah determines one’s value.

Meaning that the kindness that person does determines their self worth, regardless if others recognize this kindness or not.

Approval seeking is in a sense, falsity, because you are trying to determine your self-worth based upon what others think. It is not what others think of you that really matters – it is what G-d thinks of you that matters.

Thus the Torah wants us to be real. In the sense of acting on our best behavior. For this is the real us. The real us – is not just following whatever our emotions dictate. It is using all of our resources – even acting – to be the best that we can be. The Rambam says that we should act in the middle path. If a person has a bad temper – he should try to act in the opposite manner for some time – ie, act very calmly – in order to reach middle path.

The Problem of Living Illusion

The problem of following falsity and illusion is just that – in the end one is left with falsity and illusion.

Once a young Jewish woman was walking naturally down the street. Roman nobles noticed and said “Look how gracefully that young woman walks.” Overhearing this, she tried to walk even more gracefully – apparently to impress the nobles. She was eventually punished – by being taken to be part of a brothel. Her illusion was realized. She wanted to impress strangers by her outwardly acts, so she received a high dosage of the illusion of what she was seeking when she improved her steps. In a brothel, a person is nothing more than a body.

Once a priest was on his death bed. He realized that many prohesies that his book spoke about were proven wrong. He asked his acquaintance, the rabbi at the moment of truth – did he waste his life by following something that turned out to be false? The rabbi thought a moment and wanted to express the truth at the moment of truth and said “Yes.” The priest died with great pain on his face.

When a person dies, G-d will not ask a person why weren’t you like Moses. He will ask you, why weren’t you like you.

Too Cool to Be Cool – Dress for Success, Not to Impress

A person who is cool is one who is themselves. A person who overcame trials in life and became better for it.

Cool is not one who puts on the sunglasses to be cool, because those people are trying to be cool to impress others. Seeking others to validate your own self is a lacking. Rather seek what Hash-m wants to validate yourself. Thus you become greater.

A person who tries to impress others ends up empty-handed. The praise that they give him, do nothing to improve him or her or mean nothing to make their lives better.

Thus the Torah provides guidelines for living reality.

Laws to avoid relations that may lead to dead-end relationships like the laws of Yichud – that prohibit a man to stay secluded with a woman.

Laws of Jewish Modesty – where women cover themselves in a way to not attract attention or desire of others – are also laws of reality – for in the end the woman is appreciated for her true inner being and not her outward appearance. The outward appearance is secondary to the inner person.

Laws of Marriage – that a man should get married at a young age – instead of pursuing unproductive relationships.

Thus the Torah asks of a person to be real. Be yourself. Become the best you can – through learning self-improvement works in Torah (mussar) and working on yourself. Don’t put on a show. Don’t buy fancy cars or dress to impress. Build yourself. Be content with yourself. With Your family. Be a real person – which eventually leads to true happiness. When you are happy with yourself – every day is bright.

Happiness and Holiness or Nostalgic Melancholy – the Path to Rejuvenation

MP900384901(1)A Wedding of an observant Jewish couple exudes with happiness.

The day in which a man and a women unite to pursue building of a family that will serve Hash-m together. The day in which they unite to realize their visions of future hope and happiness. The first step in their voyage as partners in a team to do good.

Happy Jewish Music permeates the wedding hall. Frequenting the wedding reception are enthusiastic guests and jugglers. Men with burning black fedoras dance together in unison. The Kallah / Bride is lifted on a chair by her friends and relatives on her side of the Mechitza / Partition. The guests dance and sing to entertain and rejoice the Hattan and the Kallah / Groom and Bride. Savors from delicious feast waft in the air accompanying the feeling of happiness.

Added happiness resides for holiness is present.

After the wedding ceremony and the reception – 7 blessings / Sheva Berachot are made in honor of the wedding. One of the blessings is – Blessed are You Hash-m, G-d King of the Universe, that the happiness is in His abode.

The blessing reveals the secret of happiness. That closeness to Hash-m and being in His presence with holiness gives a person great inner joy.

I remember when I was younger I did have a good time being with my friends and following the ways of the world. Now, looking back I say they were good times. The feeling I am left with is nostalgic melancholy – remembering the outings and trips and sports. Great times. I look back with melancholy.

I try to pinpoint what gave me the most satisfaction and pleasure and things were the source of the joy that at times still provide me with happiness. I find that most have to do with doing a good deed – like helping out a friend or people with special needs.

Apparently, holiness in Judaism is synonymous with happiness. Things that draw us close to G-d through Torah give us an inner feeling of purpose, pride and accomplishment.

Things that bring us farther from Hash-m, create a sense of disconnection with the source of all good and life – which eventually cause sadness.

Being Good makes one feel good. Knowing what G-d wants from us – by learning the halachot / Jewish laws – helps us to connecting to the source of all good and the source of happiness.

It is tempting to revert to the old behaviors of youth to gain the satisfaction that once was. But the times past are just that, times past. Judaism says , create new happy times rather than just reminiscing. Bring new good to the world, renew your efforts in acts of kindness. Share acts of doing kindness with your spouse and family or friends. Do kindness to your close ones and widen your circle. Do acts of kindness together with your beloved ones and become closer to them and to Hash-m. It is common activity that allows you to reinforce relationships with purposeful and productive activities.

It is a Mitzvah to be happy. A person’s general mood should be one of self-satisfaction and happiness. It’s a Mitzvah to serve Hash-m with happiness.

Rejuvenate yourself through your relationship with Hash-m, through Judaism and let the good times return.

Old Man in Wheechair Smiles

MP900302913I was driving in the neighborhood during my personal rush hour. One chore finished, I remained in “Serious / Get Things Done Mode.”

Turning the corner of the Nursing home, I noticed one of their residents in a wheelchair on the corner. He was waving to each passerby. He had a big smile on his face.

I smiled back and waved.

It cheered me up for a moment.

It only takes a moment to cheer up. In “serious mode”, we sometimes want to keep the momentum and stay serious. But a smile breaks this momentum – to cheer us up.

Smiling is a Mitzvah. You cheer others and yourself up.

It says “Ivdu Et Hash-m BeSimha” – Serve Hash-m with Happiness.

Use small moments of Joy to impart upon your day. Cheer yourself up with positive thoughts and prayers.

You can control your happiness.

Making a small effort to smile is the first step. Thinking of your blessings is another.

Holding on to both thoughts is the third.

Smile and be happy and the world will smile with you.

Or at least your world will smile with you.

Don’t Get Angry. Vent Your Emotions Productively

Orange FlamesThe trials of the world are great. Put in a situation, it is up to us to decide what is the best way to react according to Torah.

The Torah tells us – not to become angry.

Or even if we do see we are becoming angry – calming techniques should be in place to placate the anger.

Jewish Books and letters and verses exclaim the destruction of anger. The Iggeret HaRamban / Letter of the Ramban / Nachmanides to his son talks on the importance of controlling anger and offers calming suggestions.

A Gentle Answer

Shlomo Hamelech / King Solomon says “A soft answer turns away anger…” in Mishlei / Proverbs (15:1).

This can be interpreted various ways:

When someone else is angry at you, answer them softly and they will calm down. Instead of playing the escalation game – where one yells – and the other screams back – break the tension by answering softly.

Or perhaps if you are angry and you wish to lash out at another person in non-productive way, speak softly and that will calm your anger.

Or if you are angry, speak softly to yourself and tell yourself – calming words – like “The Torah says not to get angry.”

The Destruction of Anger

Once Moshe Rabbeinu / Moses our teacher got angry at the soldiers of the army and he forgot many laws from the Torah.

In most character traits a person should follow the middle path. But anger a person should go to the opposite extreme.

Hillel was exemplary for his humility and his spirit of calmness.

The Talmud (Shabbat 31a) tells a story.

A person should always be gentle like Hillel.

Once two men made a wager of 400 zuz if one of them could anger Hillel. One said You can’t get Hillel angry. The other replied “I’ll bet you 400 zuz that I can.” He went to Hillel at an occasionally stressful point in a time when he was bathing to prepare for Shabbat. He called Hillel out from the Bath House – “Hillel! Where is Hillel?!”

When Hillel came out he said “Yes, my son how can I help you?” He asked him “Are you Hillel? I have a question” He replied “Please ask my son.” The man said “Why are the heads of the Babylonians Round?” Hillel answered “Because their Midwives are not so well versed in delivering Babies”. Hillel returned to Bathe. The Man Called Again “Hillel! Hillel!” Hillel wrapped himself, came out and said “Yes, my son how can I help you?” The man said “I have an important question.” Please ask my son. The man asked “Why Do Africans Have Wide feet?” Hillel replied, “Because they walk through the mud and it makes it easier to travel.”

He asked more questions, but saw that Hillel remained calm. He said “I have many other questions but I am afraid to make Hillel angry.” Hillel replied “Please my son ask all you want.” The man, himself flustered, said “There should not be many more people like you in Israel.” Hillel asked “Why is that?” He said because “I made a bet that I could get you angry, and I lost 400 zuz because of you.”

Hillel replied “It is better that you lose 400 zuz, than Hillel to get angry.”

A great man who gets angry causes a ripple effect that may cause other people to also get angry.

There was once a strange incident in a small town in Europe. A person was killed by another person. The people wondered how such a thing could have happened there. One person in the community had a dream that, before the incident the Rabbi of the community got angry and that caused a ripple effect that triggered one person to kill another.

Using Anger Constructively

Anger, like most other things, can be used for a constructive purpose. It is an emotion that channeled can be used to right the wrongs of society, or to build. If something angers you, ask yourself what can you do practically and productively to remedy the situation. Some people are angry at a situation and they guide their lives to destroy others rather than by remedying the situation. Use your anger positively, not negatively.

For instance, if you see people driving too quickly in the neighborhood, you can “vent” your anger by spearheading a “Drive Carefully campaign.” Write letters to officials. Try to have traffic light installed. Put speed meter signs in strategic places. Petition for “Slow Down” Signs. Many positive things can be done when anger is channeled positively according to Torah.

The main concern is to consult a respectable rabbi to find out what is the real point of view of the Torah – of what is really the right manner of reacting.

Some people think that the right way to react at times is to be silent or sweep things under the rug, when the proper reaction is to talk. And vice versa. Thus having the proper Torah perspective is essential.

Calming Down

Regardless of the reason to not become angry, it is incumbent upon a person to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. Once they know they have a bad temper, it is up to them to and implement solutions to overcome this trait. Books have been written on the subject, like “Anger : the inner Teacher” by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin.

Really, anger should be used as a tool to be shown but not felt. Meaning at times one should show they are angry, without feeling anger inside. Meaning you control your reaction of anger, not your anger controls your reaction.

Some common Techniques for Anger Management include:

1) Know what causes you to get angry. Ask yourself: What situations cause your anger?
2) Determine Why do you get angry in these situations?
3) Think out a plan of what to do or a manner of reacting when you get angry.
4) When you feel that you are getting angry tell yourself – try to calm down. Or say to the other person, please refrain from “this activity” it is causing me to get angry.
5) Ask others for help to calm you before, during or after a time of anger to help placate yourself.
6) Say to yourself “I am in control” or other sayings that calm you.
7) Answer in a soft manner.
8) Pray to G-d to help you to overcome your anger and your trials in life in the proper way.

The Rozdoler Rabbi said: “When I feel angry against a person, I delay the expression of my anger. I say to myself: `What will I lose if I postpone my anger?’”

Reality Check – with Torah as Guide

MP900387852King Solomon, Sholom HaMelech, the wisest of all men stated in Mishle / Proverbs – “Greater is a good name than good oil. It is better the day of death than the day one is born.” He also wrote “better to go to the house of a mourner than a banquet.”

No, King Solomon was not trying to be a downer. He was looking at life in the face and was asking what does G-d want from me and what am I personally supposed to achieve in life.

Why is it better to go to a mourner’s house than to a banquet? Death sometimes wakes a person up to the fact they only have a limited time to accomplish good in this world. After one dies, there are no more Mitzvot, just reward (and punishment).

This is the story of the Vilna Gaon, the tremendous Genius. On his deathbed he started crying. His students aked him, Rebbe why are you crying? Holding his tzitzit strings on his talit katan (Small Talit, that a Jewish man wears daily to remind him of the Mitzvot), He answered “In this world for a couple rubles one can do a mitzva, in the next world there are no more mitzvot. That is where one receives reward.”

At times it makes sense to think out what a person would like to hear at their own eulogy or think of the end of their life and what they could have accomplished had they been more productive.

All the years of TV – did it serve something to better the world?
All the years of Video games – made you a better person?
All the times you spent time with your children – you gained satisfaction and came out better?
All the time that you helped someone else – do you regret.

The Torah provides you with a reality check – the ethical works / mussar, like the Mesilat Yesharim – path of the Just, Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, help you wake up to what G-d expects of you.

Many people, on their deathbed regret the time they wasted. They regret the time they followed after false ideas because before death one comes face to face with reality.

Some wake up to the fact they were following after false gods. Some wake up to the fact of how many people they hurt. Some repent by feeling badly they did not follow the Torah’s ideals – which is more valient than not doing teshuva at all. Some go to death, holding on to their false ideals because they don’t want to admit that they wasted their life – going after vanities.

This is what Solomon meant “Wake up now, so you won’t have a rude awakening later – when it is too late.”

Better to wake up now when a person can do something rather than later when one is old or it is too late.

I speak to all, including myself.

So why is the day of death better than the day of birth?

When a person is born, they have many tempations and dangers that they face. When they die they have defined themselves – who they really are. A popular story to illustrate this is – A wise man at a port saw two ships – one departing and one arriving. Those on the departing ship were cheering and laughing and those arriving back were sad. The man said – it is more appropriate that those departing be sad – for they know not what lies ahead of them – the dangers, the travails, and the barriers. Those that are arriving back should be happy – for they arrived back safely.

So why is a good name better than good oil? Certain high quality oils sink. But a good name always remains on top.

Those that used the Torah as a true guide for their lives – are happier when they reach the final destination – for they hopefully accomplished what they had to in life.

When All Else Fails – Try This

HouseMany a time a person runs into a brick wall – we try all we can, but everything seems to fail.

The secret to success is to determine what is good and to pursue it or to determine what is not good and abandon it.

Before we rented, we considered buying different houses in the neighborhood.

In the market:

One House – we made an offer but it was slightly too low for the seller. They didn’t want to come down.

Another – we found out was in contract, but was open to bids. We didn’t want to make a bid on something in contract.

One we were seriously considering making an offer – but declined because it was slightly too small.

One we made an offer – the offer was accepted. We signed the contract and delivered it to the other lawyer- but the lawyers got into a disagreement that threw out the whole deal.

Finally, we decided to rent. We are happy.

Sometimes things are not meant to be.

We know only a small part of all the variables that are relevant to our decision. G-d knows all.

We know only the present and past. G-d knows all.

The wisdom is to know what is good for us, which effort to apply and when to stop making an effort.

The effort consists of doing our utmost after using our brain diligently to determine a proper course of action.

If we see all else fails – it could mean that it is not a proper path to take or that we are not applying enough effort.

Obviously all acts must be viewed through the field of vision of Torah to determine whether the action to be done is proper.

Using Torah as a guide, one filters out what is good and what is not for the ultimate good of a person.

So once that first step is taken, we must make our proper effort which includes making a serious effort, wanting the desired outcome and praying.

If a person searches for a job, but has no desire to work, it is possible he will not find the right job.

If a person wants to steal, and makes the proper effort, he will be successful.

Thus all four ingredients are necessary 1) Knowing and following Torah Perspective, 2) Wanting the Desired outcome, 3) Making the Proper Effort, and 4) Prayer.

But you must leave a little leeway for Hash-m / G-d to ultimately decide. Thus prayers should be directed as “My G-d, if buying this house is good for us spiritually, materially and according to Torah please let us have the merit of purchasing it. If it is not let us find a better one for us.”

or in the case of deciding on a marriage partner:
“My G-d, if marrying this person [insert name] is good for me spiritually, materially and according to Torah please let me have the merit of marrying him or her. If they are not for me please help me find a better mate for me.”

At times a person needs more merit to deserve a certain outcome. IF a person wants to marry a princess – first he should become a prince. And vice versa. Meaning if one wants to marry a person with a kind heart, you yourself should work on becoming a kinder person. Become what you want to be in goodness and receive the goodness you deserve.

Good is making yourself happy. Good is helping yourself advance spiritually. Good is that you will be better able to raise a family dedicated to Torah ideals.