Or make the things that need to be done
into things that are fun.
Torah recognizes this, stating “Acquire for yourself a Friend.” Our commentators explain – do so even with money (ie, by giving them gifts, helping them, etc.)
In Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers it says:
Yehoshua son of Perahia and Nitai the Arbeli received it from them. Yehoshua ben Perahia says: Make a Rabbi of/for yourself, and acquire for yourself a friend and judge each person favorably. (Pirkei Avot 1:6)
A Rabbi that can answer your Jewish outlook, life guidance, ethical and halachic [Jewish Law] questions is essential for balanced living.
A friend that can understand you is also essential. It could be a parent, a spouse or a good person. Choosing a friend, one should assure himself that they have your interests in mind and not theirs.
Many people are lonely or lost.
They seek companionship or someone that understands them or someone that can reach out to them and empathize with their trials and travails.
At times a person might answer you roughly or curtly. We can either be ruffled or we can try to look at the picture from their point of view. Perhaps they answered you that way because they suffer deep down.
The Torah says to Judge each person on a scale of merit.
It is up to us to be able to read people to see not only what they are saying but how they are feeling inside.
A friend is not necessarily one that will agree with you or complete your every whim. He or she sees what you lack and tells you or helps you to complete this lack.
There were once two drunkards lying in the street. One asked the other “Do You Love Me?”
The other said “Sure I Love You!”
The first replied “If you love me tell me what I am lacking”
A real friend sees what the other is lacking and helps.
We welcome anyone to befriend us and will offer the proper advice to people in need.
The end of the quote is Judge everybody on a scale of merit. It doesn’t mean to be naive. It means, if you see they are sincere, that take into account where the person is coming from and help him or her how you can.
One who does need help should not shy away from seeking help from others. It is not a shame to ask for help. Everybody on earth needs the help of others.
Aside from seeking human help, One can always call out to Hash-m / G-d for help. Direct your prayers to Him sincerely and explain clearly what you want. He is the ultimate “Friend” that helps when one calls out to Him.
= = =
[We regret the loss of our friend - Henry Zilberman - who helped us in times of need]
A handsome young man, I was walking down a street surrounded by the summer air and typical European buildings in the warm beautiful sunlight.
Walking side-by-side with a girl with whom I was friendly, she started holding my hand.
I felt so close. I realized she liked me.
After the Bar Mitzvah celebration we parted our ways and hardly spoke due to our business with our separate lives.
Looking back, many years later, I realize that we were not meant for each other – even though she was a great person.
Those were the days before I was observing the Jewish Laws of Negiah / Touching.
Marriage can be a great opportunity to grow and give and live.
One of the reasons for marriage is to help a person reach their potential.
But because you like someone it doesn’t necessarily mean you should marry them.
There are many factors that one can look at before getting married.
The Celibacy Challenge
I heard a story recently about Gila Manolson, who wrote a book called “Outside Inside” on Jewish Modesty and one called “The Magic Touch” on celibacy before marriage. She said that once she was giving a lecture in a University and at the end of the class she challenged the class to not touch members of the opposite gender for a month (In Hebrew we call this Shomer Negiah – Being Careful about Touching) . When she left, the class started discussing the possibility of observing the challenge.
They agreed to do it.
After three months she inquired, what ever happened about that “experiment” about not touching the opposite gender before marriage.
She found that seven couples emerged that eventually got married together.
Apparently their mind was not clouded by feelings enabling them to decide that the mate had good values, character traits, were mentally stable – ie, didn’t have psychological issues, were kind, etc.
Dating – Highway to Finding Ideal Mate or to Dead End Relationship?
Used properly, Dating can help a person reach one step closer to marriage. It can help a person sort out prospects from non-prospects. This is when dating’s objective is to find the proper marriageable mate.
Many times dating leads to a dead end relationship. People pass time with a person to have a good time – but that person has no intention of marriage whatsoever. They use dating as a tool to fulfill their selfish desires.
What is in the Minds of Men
The author got to the root of what was in the minds of many of the men (and perhaps women) in the class. Many men said they had no intention whatsoever to marry their dating partner. While women had the idea that the men eventually wanted to marry. Unfortunately many young women and men fall into this trap. They find a mate that they “fall in love” with and they pass many years of their life, getting nowhere. When women realize it was a dead end, sometimes they are too old to have children. When men realize it was a dead-end relationship, they realize they lost many precious years of life that they could have been building instead of escaping.
Or at times a person marries the person they “fell in love” with and it turns out that mate is a snake. They cheat, torment and/or beat their mate and they fell for it because of “love.”
Thus dating to find if one is the right marriageable mate makes more sense than dating for dating.
The people one dates are not necessarily the ideal candidate for marriage. It depends on what your objective for dating is. Ask yourself “Do I date to find a life-time marriage partner or just to have a good time?” Dating is to spend an agreeable time together – marriage is to build a family. Sometimes the couple can achieve both. It takes work.
Thinking Before Feeling
Ideally to get married one should first answer rationally – “is this a person that I want to help build my family with?” That is why Orthodox Jews date – not with the objective of having agreeable time together, but to find someone that will help to found a family based on the solid values of the Torah.
First they pose their conditions to narrow the pool of potential mates. They must be Jewish, religious – ie, observing the laws of Judaism, have a proper Torah Hashkafa (Jewish Outlook), have good values and character traits. They do their research – if a mate has potential – they inquire with friends, rabbis, teachers, etc about the person. They ask pointed questions – like :
– Does the person have any psychological issues?
– Do they have health issues? Which ones?
– Are they able to bear children?
– Does the person get angry quickly?
– Were they ever put in jail or convicted of a crime? If yes, why?
– Can you name three incidents that you saw that you thought were improper in your eyes?
– Can you name three incidents of what they did that was positive?
– What are their strengths?
– What are their weaknesses?
– Can you describe their trait of responsibility?
– How do they treat their fellow man?
– Do they talk a lot about themselves?
– Are they humble? what is an example how you know this?
– What do they like to do in their spare time?
– What Mitzvah are they particularly careful about?
– What Mitzvah are they not particularly careful about?
– What are some of the things that they value?
– Do they have a sincere desire for growth in Torah and Mitzvot?
– What personality traits do they have that you think would make a good husband or wife?
– What are three traits that you would think that they would have to improve to be a good husband or wife?
It is better to ask pointed questions – than to ask general questions like – “are they nice?” Every body can be nice in their own way. Think of your own pointed questions to dig out the truth on this person. Better to ask open-ended questions than those with “yes” or “no” answers. Follow up on “Yes” or “No” questions with “Can you explain or give me examples of what you mean?” Now is the time to dig out the details so that you will make a proper life decision. Ideally, Marriage is forever – a couple remains married in this world and the next.
The three major things one should find out about a potential mate is their Hashkafa / Jewish Outlook and Values, Desire for growth, and Character Traits.
Once the basic foundations are there, the couple meets and determines if their personalities are compatible, if the mate is attractive to them and if they have common goals in life. The Date is specifically to determine if the person is a good prospect for marriage. Having a good time during the date is also part of it – the secondary – but not the priority.
Lashon HaRah / Speaking Badly About Others
It is forbidden to speak badly about a fellow Jew according to the Torah – even if it is 100% true. But if it is for a purpose / Toelet – like to find out if a person is good potential mate – one is allowed to ask about, say and listen to bad things about a fellow Jew – to assure that they do not fall into a trap of marrying a mate that is improper for them.
Thus when inquiring about a prospect, one should explain to the person that you are asking, that you are interested in this person for a possible Shidduch / Meeting Date. You might want to explain that the questions you ask are for the purpose of this information and so that they will be able to expose some points about the prospect that they would not be able to divulge had it not been for a purpose.
The Lure of Romance and Kind Words
Women who read romance novels or have a family that does not appreciate her value – sometimes fall into the lure of seeking romance. The charming prince that will sweep her off her feet to a rosy land of delight. Or sometimes they fall for the man that talks nice words. They thus sometimes meet a person of this type that speaks nicely or seems romantic or nice – but is really a wily snake. When they realize the truth – it is sometimes too late. Either they have already fallen for the person or they are married and it is difficult to get out.
Suspect but Respect
Thus, using one’s head and “suspecting, but respecting” are some of the requirements in due diligence before finding a mate.
“I’m In Love”…Really?
Many answer the question of “why do you want to marry this person?” with “Because I am in Love.”
Then you ask “Why do you love that person?” and they say “Because s/he makes me feel so good.”
Unfortunately it is really infatuation in disguise. That is self-gratification. The difference between love and infatuation is love is “other-centered” and infatuation is “self-centered”.
Love is what I can give to someone else. Like when one loves a child, they try to provide for all their physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs.
Infatuation can be best described by a story.
A person asked another “what would you like to eat?”
He said “I Love Fish!” The other person, thinking, said to him: “Do you really love Fish?” He answered “Absolutely.” So he said if you loved fish you wouldn’t trap it, then cut it up and fry it! You don’t love fish. “You love yourself!”
Some marry because of the way the other makes them feel. This is self gratification. It is based on making yourself feel good. It is not based on the apprecaitoin of the qualities of the other person. The person can be a bully, a violent person. So it is not really love of the other person it is love of how one feels with that person – that is infatuation and self gratification.
One must be practical when choosing a mate and love comes later after much giving. Like we see with the Patriarchs of Judaism – First Yaakov / Jacob married Rachel then He loved her. He first was married then he developed feelings of love. Love comes as a result of giving not taking.
That doesn’t mean one should marry a person they don’t like. It means that “that they make me feel good” should not be the only requirement in getting married.
It is possible this is the reason for the high rate of divorce. Because people don’t look at the practical issues or the character traits of the other before marriage. Do Your Homework before You Get Married!
Prayer to Hashem and Effort
Praying to G-d to help you find the right person and to make the right decision once you find them, is also due diligence. Making strides in Mitzvah Observance is also a positive step. (See below). Also speaking with the people that can help you find the right mate is also in order. One must make their proper effort to search for the right mate.
Prayer for a Soul Mate
I was once looking to go out with a girl. I would pray “G-d please help me marry this Girl.”
We were practically engaged, but we realized we were not for each other. So we broke it off.
Prayer has to give some leeway to G-d. What I did was to pray to marry a particular woman that I thought was appropriate for me. He answered my prayer – He helped me to become closer to marrying this girl. In the end I realized she was not the right one. The Proper prayer would have been -
“Please G-d please help me to find the particular mate that is good for me, that will help me reach my potential in serving You and help to bring up our kids in the good and just path of Torah and Mitzvot. May it be Your will that she have good character traits, the proper Torah values and be kindhearted. May it be your will that when I do meet her that I will have the proper wisdom to recognize that she is for me.”
This is a prayer that gives “leeway” to G-d.
Shomer Negiah – Being Careful about Touch
There is a Halacha / Jewish law that a Jew should not touch members of the opposite gender. This applies to almost all people except for close family members – ie, immediate family – ie, mother, father, daughter, son and spouse. Thus this makes things much easier in dating. The closeness brought about because of touching that biases ones decision is removed, because the couple does not touch. Thus the people can make a more rational and better marriage decision and this leads to more solid marriages and less divorce.
Marry the Mate that Will Bring You and Your Family the Most
A Man wants to find a woman that has the proper values to raise the children in the good and just path of the Torah. A woman that is kind hearted, and has fear of heaven.
A Woman wants to marry a man that has the potential to bring in warmth and love and Mitzvoth to the family. The woman gains much of her reward for the next world from the Mitzvot the husband does and from her children learning in a Torah day school or Yeshiva. Thus many women want to marry Torah Scholars – because they recognize the great value of Torah and bring in much Mitzvot by their Torah learning. Obviously many woman who want this are mainly interested that their husband will help the Klal Yisrael / the congregation of Israel.
A Jewish woman or Jewish who “intermarries” loses the tremendous reward for the Mitzvot that their mate does.
The thing that should be of high importance is the character traits of the person. Is the person giving or stingy? Are they benevolent or selfish? These are things that one would be smart to inquire about before marriage from a third party. Observation does not always tell the whole story. Some people are great actors before marriage, but after marriage they change their face.
Many people ask more questions before buying a potential car than they do before dating a potential mate. It should be the opposite – a car lasts about 10 years, while marriage should last forever.
To Marry a Princess become a Prince
I usually suggest to people of marriageable age to reinforce themselves in Torah and Mitzvot. G-d will match you with a person that is similar to you. If you hang out in drinking bars – so you will likely meet the type of woman or man that likes to hang out in bars. Is that the best kind of mate to raise a Torah family? You decide.
If you are Shomer Shabbat, G-d will help you meet someone who also respects the Sabbath. If you are keeping Kosher, Hash-m will help you find someone who is also Kosher.
Marriage to Reach Potential for Achieving Purpose in Life
Marriage is to help a couple reach it’s potential in serving Hash-m together. Having children is the first Torah commandment. Teaching them to serve G-d through Torah helps a couple to guide their children in the proper path and help them to reach a meaningful life and their potential in this world. Thus the Torah’s requirement for Jewish people to marry Jews – so that together they can give the family the proper education and tools to reach their potential, achieve happiness and walk in the pleasant ways of Hash-m.
Tehillim / Psalms
He composed Tehillim / Psalms as an Ode to Hash-m. Tehillim comprises every emotion in the spectrum of emotions.
He would be busy with world affairs but would rather be learning Torah. He would awaken at Midnight to sing praises to Hashem and learn Torah the rest of the Night.
King David appreciated suffering. When one suffers one sometimes feels a closer connection to G-d. He preferred to suffer and feel close to G-d than to not and feel more distant.
Accompanying the Shabbat Queen
King David knew his time in this world was limited. He lived 70 years. He asked Hash-m to know when He was going to die. G-d did not reveal it to him for the date of death of every person is hidden. But G-d did tell him he would die on Shabbat.
Every Time he passed a Shabbat, he would celebrate that he lived another week. We continue that celebration today by eating a meal after Shabbat called Melave Malka / accompanying the Queen (Shabbat). Melave Malka is also called Seudat David HaMelech – the Meal of King David – for that reason.
Tricking the Evil Inclination
David used to have to take care of important affairs. So he would go on the road to these affairs and sometimes pass the Beit Hamidrash / House of Torah Study. When he was passing he would slip in to learn Torah instead.
He would trick his natural (bad) inclination to forego Torah study and be busy with daily affairs and then pop into study.
Value of Torah Study
Torah Study is great. It helps a person to learn to think and gain the proper perspective of the world to be able to achieve their purpose in life. It helps a person achieve spiritual satisfaction by giving great pleasure to the soul
Many Houses of Study exist – call an Orthodox friend to find one near you. Torah Lectures are also found in many Orthodox synagogues on a wide spectrum of topics.
Wives gain to by sending their husbands to learn Torah at the Beit Hamidrash. They gain from every Mitzvah their husband does. (Thus those who marry Torah scholars receive many Mitzvot).
Every Word of Torah Learned is equivalent to doing many Mitzvot / Commandments. Multiply that by the number of words said in a minute and by the time learned and by the number of people learning Torah Together and one accumulates a mountain of Mitzvot – an unimaginable reward.
Learning Torah on Shabbat Multiplies the amount of Mitzvot Even More.
In Torah almost anything or quality can be used for Good – even laziness.
Fire can be used for good or bad. One can cook with fire, but one can also destroy with it.
Money, can be used for giving charity or for causing harm to others.
Someone asked a Rabbi “How can Atheism be Used for Good?” He said when someone asks you for help, don’t tell them “G-d will help you.” Act as if G-d was not here and do as much as you can yourself to help the person.
Laziness can deter a person from doing a Mitzvah but also can deter a person from transgression. He or she can say “I am too lazy to do this transgression, I’ll push it off for another time.”
Checking the constellations through astrology is a science recognized by the Torah. Obviously one should consult an Orthodox Rabbi if one is interested in consulting astrology – many occult practices are forbidden by Torah.
Consulting the Stars
Once Shmuel and Ablat – an astronomer – were walking together. They saw people going to a lake. The astronomer read one person’s stars and said that he would go but not return for he would be bitten by a snake. Shmuel said the man was going to live. At the end of the day they found the man alive. They checked the pack of the man and found a dead snake chopped up.
Above the Stars
Ablat asked how Shmuel knew that he would not die when the stars said the opposite. He explained that Jews are above Mazal / (Fate). Their lives path are not determined solely by fate. If they do a Mitzvah – their fate can be changed.
A Good Deed Changes Fate – Charity Saves from Death
The Rabbi asked the an “was there any Mitzvah (Commandment or Good Deed) that you did today?” He replied “Yes. At the lake we decided to put all our food together and then divide it among us. One man was embarrassed because he had no food to contribute. I pretended to take bread from him and put in my portion.” Shmuel told him “You did a good deed.” The good deed saved his life. Shmuel then Taught giving Charity saves from death. (Talmud: Shabbat 156b)
Checking the Mezuza
Recently, my brother-in-law was having apartment problems. A lady in his building was complaining that they made too much noise. She complained to the neighbors about her made-up complaints. She even had a petition signed throughout the building to evict them. They were innocent of the charges but she continued to harass them.
He also not long ago had damage done to his eye. Someone threw an object at and it hit his eye.
The Mezouza is what a Jew places on the front door. Inside the case of the Mezuza is the Shema Yisrael (Hear Oh Israel, Hash-m is Our G-d Hashem is One) written on Parchment. The Idea of the Mezouza is that Hash-m (G-d) places his divine protection of one who places a Kosher Mezuza on the doors of their house. It is a positive commandment from the Torah. Hash-m guards the house of the person who has a Kosher Mezuza.
When my Brother-in-law checked his Mezuzas, he found one parchment in which two words were partially erased in the Shema – Beitecha – Your House and Einecha – Your Eyes.
I was not sure if the Mezuza foretells the future of what is going to happen, or that because of what happened the words were erased or the fact that the words were erased caused their problems.
Someone gave me a possible explanation – “The Mezuza offers protection for a house. If words on the Mezuza are erased the protection regarding those words is lacking.” Makes sense.
It also makes sense to have one’s Mezuzas checks regularly – like once every two years – by a reputable Sofer. Recently I sent Mezuzas of someone – who had certain problems – to be checked. Out of 5 One was Kosher. One was not even written on parchment it was written on paper.
When purchasing Mezuzas one should assure that they are purchasing from a Honest, reputable Sofer Sta”M (A Scribe who writes Sepher Torah, Tephillin and Mezuzot). If one wants to know who one can trust – email us.
If the person was righteous – they will see all of the challenges and difficulties they overcame in life – much like a mountain. It was a great challenge, yet he or she was able to overcome them. They will said to themselves “Look at that great mountain of challenges that I was able to overcome.”
If he or she did not live a righteous life – they will see a mound. These are the challenges that they could have overcome and Torah commandments they could have properly observed but did not. There they will say to themselves – “It was so simple, I should have made more of an effort to observe Torah.”
A Great part of overcoming challenges is to believe in oneself. In one’s strengths, in one’s talents, in one’s G-d given abilities – to believe you can do it. You can if you want.
It all starts with one step.
Temporal vs. Eternal Existence
The length of this world is max 120 years of life. The length of life in the world to come is eternity. It makes sense for a person to prepare here in order to inherit a pleasurable life in eternity.
Why People Don’t Observe
There are many reasons why a person can give why they do not adopt a Torah Lifestyle. Some try what they can. That is good.
Some think it too challenging.
Some choose not to follow the Torah because they do not want to give up their lifestyle. They enjoy themselves enough, that change is unnecessary for them. People in general do not like to change. It is easier to remain the the same.
Some, it doesn’t enter their mind to learn more about Judaism.
Putting Money in the Bank
In any case, a simple suggestion is to learn a little every day. One does not usually amass a fortune by making a windfall. One takes a few dollars here and another few dollars there and places them in a savings bank. Each Mitzvah is like a gold coin. Each one provides savings for the final retirement.
Happiness in Observing Judaism
Orthodox Jews — have a relatively happy life. Through enjoying the pleasures of life through Torah they enjoy physical and spiritual pleasures and are rewarded for such – for it is all in the confines of the Torah.
The spiritual dimension of pleasure adds an added dimension of pleasure.
Physical pleasures in Torah are not only permitted but encouraged to become closer to Hashem. These pleasures include all pleasures of the world. The difference – between someone who observes and someone who does not – in terms of pleasure – it the one who observes has a deeper sense of pleasure due to them enjoying the physical and spiritual dimension of pleasure.
Time and Place for Everything
Torah pleasures differ in the sense that these pleasures are relegated to specific times or places or the way. Let’s take eating. A person is allowed to eat almost anything that they want, provided that it is Kosher at almost any time that you.
There are periods in which a person is expected to fast. But in general, a person can eat when they want according to the Torah. A person is limited to what he can or cannot eat by following the Torah. He must eat Kosher food. The variety of Kosher food available today is vast. There is a Kosher version of almost any non-Kosher food.
Even though it’s not the same matter, they will have the same taste for instance there is a fish that has the same taste as shrimp. There are foods that are Kosher – like Kosher Beef Fry – that taste like bacon. So every food will have a substitute a Kosher version. So giving up on the side of food is not such a great sacrifice. Because most of the foods have Kosher alternatives. So the change from eating non-kosher to kosher will be minimum.
Enjoyment for Purpose
Other pleasures like sports are allowed. Playing sports one fulfills the commandment of keeping oneself healthy. Each pleasure can be linked to a commandment. So two things are accomplished in one – enjoying the pleasure and fulfilling the commandment. Listening to certain music can bring a person closer to G-d. The Leviim used to play music outside the Holy Temple / Beit HaMikdash in Jerusalem to help a person lighten their mood. (Some say Jewish Moroccan Music is based upon the music they used to play.)
Restrictions for Better Living
Restrictions in Torah do exist regarding a person guarding one’s tongue from speaking badly about others, guarding their eyes, restricting their relations with the opposite gender, etc.. All of these restrictions, although at first one might find to be difficult, in the end – one becomes used to it or even enjoys refraining from certain things.
The restrictions serve for a better life as well. Like one who refrains from smoking, feels healthier. One who refrains from transgression feels spiritually uplifted. Also it helps him to live a more purposeful life and to avoid transgression. Like avoiding speaking excessively with the opposite gender who is not one’s spouse, avoids adultery and breaking of families.
As one of the ideas behind the Shabbat. A person refrains from doing all kinds of creative work and thus he can focus on being himself being with us family and rising closer to Hashem.
Concern from the Imagination
There are three possibilities of how they see themselves following in the path of the Torah. They could see themselves as happier following that train of living. They could imagine themselves living with the same amount of happiness. Or they could see themselves living with less happiness.
Apparently, the reasoning that some make is “If I observe, I will have to give up many things I am used to. I do not want to give up these things. If I do – it may lead to me living a less happy life. Thus I choose to remain with my current lifestyle rather than to follow the Torah path.”
This is one reason why many people choose not to follow. Eventually a person will have to come to terms — either in this world or the next world — of why they did or did not follow the path that Hashem wanted from them. In the next world they will ask them how come they had the opportunity to follow the Torah and they did not.
This is the world where one has the ability to do Mitzvot – the next world one receives the reward they obtained by observing the Torah commandments.
How Will a Person Be Judged
G-d is very merciful. He understands people’s challenges and particular situations. But He expects at least a proper effort to be made.
Like it says in Pirkei Avot:
Achievement vs. Effort
He used to say “It is not your obligation to complete all the work, but you are not free to desist from it. However, if you learned much Torah they [Heaven] will give much reward. Trustworthy is the master of your labor that He will pay you the compensation of your labor. And know that the giving of the reward for the righteous is [reserved] for the future world. (Pirkei Avot 2:16)
Destiny & Choice
Everything is foreseen. Yet freedom of choice is given, and with goodness is the world judged and everything goes according to the majority of one’s deeds. (Pirkei Avot 3:15)
In the end they will be judged based upon their adherence to Torah laws. If they followed the Torah, they will be rewarded. If they did not follow it – there will punishment. Some say part of the punishment is the guilt itself that they had an opportunity to observe but did not.
The Jews will be judged if they load the 613 Commandments that are listed in the Torah, the Talmud, and the Shulchan Aruch (the Jewish code of law). This is the de facto code that a person will be judged by in the next world. Gentiles will be Judged based upon their following of the 7 Noahide Laws of the Torah.
Overcoming Transgression through Torah Study
Torah Study and Toil to Forget Sin
Rabban Gamliel son of Rabbi son of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi says – “Great is the study of Torah with Derech Eretz [lit. “the way of the world” either – with livelihood or with proper conduct] – for with the toil in both [temptation to] sin is forgotten. And all Torah that is without Derech Eretz – in the end it will be nullified and causes sin. And whoever toils with the community, let them toil with them for the sake of Heaven – for the merit of their fathers helps them – and their righteousness will stand forever. And you [who toil with the community] I will consider it as if you yourself achieved it. (Pirkei Avot 2:2)
One of the Best Advice I ever received in my life was to set a time to learn Torah daily. It doesn’t have to be much but it should be regular. Like 10 minutes a day in the morning and night. This helped me alot in my quest for spirituality.
Prepare Yourself in This World for the Next World
Thus it makes sense for a person to prepare themselves and this world. So they will be judged favorably in the next world.
Entrance Hall to Heaven
Rabbi Yaakov says this world is like an entrance hall before the next world prepare yourself in the entrance hall so that you can enter into the Palace. (Pirkei Avot 4:15)
Dealing with Change
Still we must deal with our reluctance to change. Change can be made in a gradual process with steps that a person is comfortable with. In marketing they change products based upon the least noticeable difference. They learned that from Torah. One can pick up a book in English – like Pirkei Avot from a Jewish Bookstore from Feldheim or Artscroll. One can start attending a Torah lecture or start attending services at an Orthodox Synagogue. One can take small steps to change.
The True Source of Spirituality
The 10 Commandments are written in order of importance. The first Commandments is the belief in God, the second not to commit idolatry. The third not to bless him the fourth to observe the Shabbat in the fifth to honor the parents. Parallel to these five are five to deal with relations between man and his fellow which include and — not to kill. Not to steal not to commit adultery. Not to covet. Each one helps a person reach closeness to G-d – this is the source of spirituality.
It took me many years to figure this out.
The Two Steps for Peace in Both Worlds
In Tehillim it says “Sur MeRah VeAseh Tov Bakesh Shalom veRodfehu.” (34:15) Remove Yourself from bad and do Good – ask for Peace and Pursue it.
There are two steps to self-improvement through Torah. One is to remove oneself from bad – the transgressions and to do good. It is a gradual process. Some start by eating Kosher. Some start by Making Blessings on Food. Some start by saying the morning prayers. The main point is to start. And to continue gradually.
The path to Happiness starts with one step.
When a soul is sent down from heaven, it contains both male and female characteristics; the male elements enter the boy baby, the female the girl baby; and if they be worthy, G-d reunites them in marriage. (Zohar)
I heard once that there are 7 destined matches for each person. One is the person best suited to help the other reach their potential.
Thus, I give advice to a person that especially before they get married, they should make an effort to reinforce themselves in Torah and Mitzvot. Why? Because based upon one’s spiritual level is a person matched.
Finding the Right Soul Mate
Thus, if a person is frequenting bars, G-d will allow them to find the mate that frequents bars.
If one is observing the laws of eating Kosher, they will be likely matched with someone who wants to keep kosher.
If they are observing the Shabbat, they will be matched to someone similar.
If one is learning Torah, will G-d match them to someone who appreciates Torah learning.
It is up to you to choose what kind of mate you want based upon your actions – spiritually and your effort to find the right one.
It makes sense that if one wants their children to follow in the path of the Torah, that one should make efforts in Torah observance. Thus before marriage is a good time to make the effort to uplift their spirituality through Torah.
The Torah says Jews should marry Jewish. This helps a person and their children follow in the path of the Torah, ultimately helping them to leave fulfilling and happy lives and also to help them reach their potential in life.
Home for Love and Growth
Most parents want their children to be happy. They give them the physical needs, but it also is important for a person to provide for their child’s spiritual needs.
This means sending them to a Yeshiva or Torah Day School. Providing a home that is conducive to growth in Judaism – a Kosher Home, one that the Shabbat is Holy, one in which the parents and family treat each other with love, warmth and respect. A home where words of Torah are heard regularly.
Using each Second Productively
Every Second a person can gain worlds. Instead of waiting on line, or taking a bus ride and twiddling one’s thumbs one can read Tehillim, or learn a Mishna or some Torah.
Do it in a kosher way
Everything that is non-kohsr can be done in a Kosher way. For instance one can eat kosher Chinese food – instead of unkosher. One can eat kosher “bacon” (called beef-fry) instead of unkosher. One can eat kosher deli sandwiches, or kosher “shrimp”, or kosher pizza instead of the non-kosher version. The same taste but a much different spiritual result.
Keeping kosher affects the way one thinks. Once a person asked a rabbi a question. They didn’t understand a certain concept in Judaism. So he told her “Keep Kosher for a month and you will understand it.”
Use your mind to Change the Mundane into Spiritual
Once I met a woman. She said she was a recreational director in a hospital. I told her a story.
There was once a man he used to do a lot of kindness to others. Every day, he would get up early, and deliver fresh milk at their doorstep.
He would do this for hundreds of people a day.
He was a milk man.
Two people can be doing the exact same thing but one will receive great reward while the other will not.
If the milk man is doing it so that people will be able to drink fresh milk daily – he receives a reward.
If the milk man is doing it just to make money – and couldn’t cares less about the people – he receives less reward.
If this recreational director, would do her job to make people happy she gets a great reward.
If she did it to just make money, she gets less reward.
This can apply to any situation. If a person works so they can make money for their family to provide for their physical needs, and Torah education, they will get a great reward.
If they do it just to accumulate money in their bank account they will get less reward.
The Full Shopping Cart
There used to be a marketing promotion to attract people to a supermarket. They would allow a person to take as much groceries that they could take in a specific amount of time.
People who knew they had 5 minutes would first run to the meat, because it was the most expensive. Then stock up on other items until time was up.
Let’s they played music, enamoring music and put old friends in the isles. Would you stop to listen to the music or talk to the friends? You would probably keep yourself focused and speak with them after the 5 minutes. In life keeping our eyes on our priorities – gets us far. Using our time wisely to accumulate Torah and Mitzvot is the goal of this earthly world. The next world – is to enjoy the reward of that that we reaped.
The Flitting Bird
A person remembering – “His days are as a passing shadow” [Tehillim / Psalms 144:4] – Not as the shadow of a wall or tree, but as that of a flitting bird. (Aha. Kohelet Rabbah 1.2) – helps them to keep focused on priorities.
Recently, I sent a package at the post office. Bringing the package there, I remembered I needed a pen. I went to the car to take one. Walking back, close to the post office, I remembered I forgot the package in the car. I had to walk back again.
It reminded me of a story from Rabbi Avigdor Miller.
Why the Third Angel?
After a person passes to the next world they are greeted by 3 angels. One to calculate their good deeds. One to calculate their bad deeds . And one to calculate their Torah.
The question arises – why is this third angel necessary? Torah is basically included in accounting of the first two angels? The answer is is that a person has a purpose in life to fulfill to make this world a greater place. This angel is here to calculate if the person actually delivered what he was supposed to do in this world.
Here is the story to illustrate:
Delivering the Package
A person was hired to deliver a package to California. The employer told him: “Be careful. Follow the road signs, don’t go to fast. Fill the truck with oil and the best gas. Check the tires.” When the delivery man came back the employer asked him – “how was the trip?” He responded: “I did just like you told me. I followed the road signs. I filled the truck with good gas and oil. I checked the Tires.” “Yes” the man said “But did you deliver the package?” The delivery man – very embarrassed – replied “Oh. I am sorry I forgot to deliver the package.”
Our main purpose in life is to achieve our purpose. Each one of us is unique and based upon our qualities and strengths – will our purpose be related.
How to Find Your Purpose
The purpose of the person is found through learning and observing Torah. The first chapter of Mesilat Yesharim / the Path of the Righteous by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto – talks about how a person is to find their personal purpose in life. It says that every day a person has to reflect upon and clarify what they were sent to this earth to do.
Torah and Purpose
A Jew learns Torah to find their purpose. Thus attending lectures on Judaism at many orthodox Torah congregations, they are uplifted. A gentile finds their purpose by following the 7 Noahide laws.
One finds one personal purpose by seeing their strengths, interests and weaknesses. One sees how they can use his strengths and interests to help the world in a way congruent with Torah and Mitzvot.
For instance if one is good at art, they can make beautiful Jewish paintings.
If they are good at organization, they can help a Torah organization by volunteering or working for them.
If one has an ability to teach, they can teach Torah courses.
If has business acumen, they can use their charity funds to help Torah causes.
Escapism / Killing Time in Judaism.
The Torah is real. It puts you face to face with reality, so you can deal with it and enjoy it the best you can. Escapism / Killing Time in Judaism is a non-entity. Some feel pressure, so they have to escape – so they tune out of their problems for a while only to find them afterwards – sometimes worse than before. This is a plague of the alcoholic. He drinks to forget. But the worries do not disappear.
Pastimes for Purpose
The Torah tells you, yes there are times when one needs to relax. We have a full day a week dedicated to this concept – Shabbat. But instead of escaping, we build relationships and build ourselves in the process. Vacations can also be purposeful, to get away to be able to function better when one returns. Or to be able to relax to think out where one is going in life. Sports are good to help a person be in shape.
Tzaddikim / righteous people used to take a fixed period during the day to sit in a secluded place to reflect upon life. The purpose was to focus in on where they could be better and how they could connect better with the One Who created the world.
One who lives a life with purpose, lives differently than one who does not. To one who does not, life is a melange of bunch of nice scenarios and situations. In they end, they have memories, but when they realize they did not achieve their purpose they sometimes look back and see much of life as lost time.
One who lived with purpose uses every moment to become closer to the purpose that they were brought to the world to fulfill.
Some people worry about what they did in the past, preventing them from getting back on the path to purposeful living. They think they can’t or they are averse to change. Change can be done little by little. This is the Torah way. Every journey starts with one small step. It only takes the decision to make that first step in the right direction. There is always hope.
One story he told was:
Escape from the Holocaust
A person who was suffering in the concentration camps craved to leave the purgatory on earth.
He deeply believed in Hash-m.
Remembering that everything in the world is a continual creation of Hash-m, he girded himself with the thought of Ein Od Milevado – There is Only Hash-m. Hash-m is the only power in the world. He is in control and the source of all that happens in the world.
I believe the Nazis stripped him of his clothes. He wanted to take his Tephillin with him.
Now was his chance – the prison gate was open. He lifted the Tefillin above his head – for it was not respectful to put it low next to his nakedness – and walked right out of the gate of the concentration camp.
The Nazi Guards watching did not shoot or do a thing.
He was free.
A story that happened more recently:
Faith in Hash-m
A woman who was walking alone down the street.
She was nervous because it was not well frequented.
She saw an unsavory character looking at her. She pulled out her book of Tephillin / Psalms and said them and prayed for Divine assistance with much intensity.
The man did not attack her. The person behind her he did attack. When they caught the perpetrator, they asked why he did not attack the woman saying the Tehillim.
He said – “I couldn’t attack her – she was accompanied by two strong men.”
Prayer and Belief in Hash-m can help you overcome any difficult situation. Believing that he only does good will help you develop a more positive attitude in life.