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.

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.