Seeing the Bigger Picture – When Pettiness Stifles

rural-field-1363007270NgvIn the business world, employees come together for a greater purpose. To provide a service or products for a greater public.

It is a Mitzvah / commandment to work. Gentiles also have the commandment to establish the world. Thus by working for a productive purpose, people get rewarded by heaven.

I remember reading about a successful CEO. His philosophy was to make himself obsolete. He would empower employees to allow them to do the jobs themselves.

In some companies, there is a game of “I deserve the position”. Thus my interest will take precedence over my colleagues. Thus, one employee may gain at the detriment of another employee or at the detriment of the company.

The Seven Year Cycle

Every seven years in Israel, the Torah commands farmers to rest from tending to their fields. The fields and vineyards are given a rest in the seventh year. The farmers, with free time on their hands, are free to study Torah. Torah learning does good for the world.

When a farmer is at work, he sees the importance of producing produce for his own good, for his family’s sake, for the people his crop feeds. In the Seventh year he is able to see the greater picture doing good for the world. In the seventh year each person is equal on his field. Each person can come and take what they need to eat. The farmer is no longer the “owner” of his field. It is not him who is in control. He realizes that the true owner is G-d. He realizes that his crops are a G-d given gift. This allows him to grow spiritually.

The Greatness of a Man

Great people are the people who see a greater good, even if it means overlooking their self-interest. A soldier puts his life on the line for a greater purpose to protect his country. A person learning Torah puts his time to help the greater world – for his learning brings great good to the world.

Once a young man wanted to become a Doctor. His father, a rabbi, asked why do you want to become a doctor. He replied: I want to help people, by healing them. He said: If you learn Torah, you will prevent people from becoming ill. The young man heeded his father’s advice. The young man was A. Henach Leibowitz, Former Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim.

The Greater Picture

The world has not yet reached the point of looking at the greater picture. Each one sees – what is my point of view, what is my opinion, what is my background and then promotes it – even to the detriment of others and the world. Many religions caused pogroms and terrible suffering to innocent others because of their myopic view of the world. Many people because of their naive, predisposed or un-thought-out point of view cause damage to innocent others.

When we become mature enough to relinquish our own personal opinions to accept that G-d has our best interests in mind and follow the will of G-d so the world reaches it’s potential.

The world is not yet ready to accept – that the Torah is main law of morality in the world. Why Torah? It was the only law that was given by G-d to a nation of millions of people and witnessed by millions of witnesses. And G-d does not change his mind.

G-d Does Not Change His mind

Many religions are based upon the fact that G-d chose the Jewish nation, but then changed his mind. That is illogical. G-d who is all knowing does not change his “mind”.

In one place in the Torah we see that it seems like G-d changed his “mind” is when Balak saught to appoint the prophet of the nations, Bilaam, to curse the nation. G-d first told Bilaam not to go with Balak. Then Bilaam pleaded with G-d and then G-d said to go with Balak, but not to curse the nation. It seems that G-d changed His “mind”. But really this is akin to a child asking a parent to buy him hot peppers to eat. The parent refuses. The child pleads so much that the parent says OK – thinking “let him learn his lesson, by eating them.”

Judaism is the only religion that adheres not to that philosophy that G-d changes his “mind”.

Disillusioned by Religion

Many people are disillusioned by religion. They look at the horrendous atrocities that they inflicted upon innocent others and rightfully wonder how anyone can honestly follow such a religion that preaches or preached and committed such acts violence.

A common reaction is to take all religions, put them in a bag, and to throw them all out the window. A more wise approach would be to seek truth and consider Judaism – the father of all monotheistic thought – to see if it suits the person. This does not mean a person should seek to convert. It means a person should investigate the laws that Torah sets out for all people – the 7 Noahide laws from the Torah.

Judaism & Heaven

Judaism, unlike many other religions has a two track approach for a person to receive a place in heaven. A person can relinquish their religion and follow the 7 Noahide laws of the Torah. Or they can choose to take a more challenging route, by making an effort to convert to Judaism.

More and More people are learning about the 7 Noahide laws. This is the start of the world reaching it’s potential. When we realize that G-d has our ultimate best interest in mind and yielding to G-d is the way to ultimate happiness and Gentiles realize that the proper path in life is to follow their 7 Noahide laws – that is when the Messiah will come.

The Messiah will come in a generation when either everyone is following good or everyone is following evil. If the former is the case – it will be a peaceful transition. If the latter is the case – the transition will not be so peaceful.

Let’s pray to the G-d of Israel, that we will see the Bigger picture and ultimately see world peace in our times.

Jewish Books that Inspired Me

About the time of my Bar Mitzvah, when confronted with certain difficulties, I started reflecting about life. I thought that G-d was sending me a message to better myself. So I tried to find out more about Judaism. One of my first ventures to coming back to Judaism – started with going to the local public library and searching through the Judaism section. I avoided books that were written contrary to the Torah’s principles – I was searching to become closer to truth, spirituality and G-d. I thus searched for books with an author that had an orthodox background and whose works embodied the true hashkafa / outlook of the Torah. I tended towards books that had aggadah/ stories. It was not only to learn more about Judaism but to sooth my pain. When the difficulties dissipated, my love of Jewish stories continued.

The Jewish BBS

I had an idea many years ago to start a Jewish BBS (Bulletin Board Service). A BBS was usually a site set up by a Sysop (System Operator) – nowadays called a webmaster. There were many such sites on various subjects. In those days to access a site one had to have modem installed in there computer. You would call with the modem a BBS site and they would have files to download, texts, games and more. It was like a precursor to the internet.

So I typed many texts that would help teach people about Judaism. One such text was a list of books. In those days you had to go to a library or Physical bookstore to get access to the books. Today, many books you can order online. I even started a site to sell books online – But finally, I stopped selling the books and developed the information aspect of the site. Here are the books that I came up with to recommend. Now a plethora of books exist on Jewish topics – from novels, to Jewish law, to Jewish stories, to personal stories, and much more. Some of the Jewish book sites I recommend are :

Feldheim Publishers
Artscroll Publishers


HEBREW (Learning)

Many of these books can be obtained at your local Jewish bookstore.
It is also possibe to contact the publishers directly.

This list provided by the the Jewish Life Guide.


The Maggid Speaks
– Favorite Stories and parables of Rabbi Shalom Schwadron shlita,
Maggid of Jerusalem
– By Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn
– Mesorah Publications, Ltd., Brooklyn, NY (1987)

The Stories and Parables of the Hafetz Hayyim
– Gathered and arranged by David Zaretsky
– Translated from the Hebrew by Charles Wengrov
– Edited by Rabbi Isaiah Aryeh Dvorkas (1976)
– Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem / New York


The Torah Personality
– A Treasury of Biographical Sketches
– Editor Rabbit Nison Wolpin
– Mesorah Publications Ltd.

The Chazon Ish
– The Life and Idseals of Rabbi Avraham Yeshayah Karelitz
– By Rabbi Shimon Finkelman
– Mesorah Publications Ltd. (1989)

Baba Sali – Rav Yisrael Abuchatzeirah – Our Holy Teacher
– His life, piety, teachings, and miracles.
– By Rav Eliyahu Alfasi and Rav Yechiel Torgeman
– Written and edited by C.T. Bari
– Translated by Leah Dolinger
– The Judaica Press Inc., New York (1986)

Reb Moshe
– The Life and Ideals of HaGaon Rabbi Moshe Feinstein
– By Rabbi Shimon Finkelman with Rabbi Nosson Scherman
– Mesorah Publications Ltd., Brooklyn, New York (1986)


Business Ethics in Jewish Law
– By Edward Zipperstein
– Ktav Publishing House Inc., New York, NY (1983)

In The Marketplace – Jewish Business Ethics
– By Dr. Meir Tamari
– Targum / Feldheim (1991)

With All Your Possessions
– By Dr. Meir Tamari


Please note: We are not responsible for the Kashrut standards used
in these books. Please consult a Rabbi, if you find a
questionable recipe or ingredient, to find out the
Halachah (Law) on the subject.

The Sephardic Kosher Kitchen
– By Suzy David
– Illustrations by Jean David
– Jonathan David Publishers Inc., Middle Village, New York (1984)

Chinese Kosher Cooking
– By Betty S. Goldberg
– Jonathan David Publishers, Middle Village, NY (1984)


The Deaf Jew in the Modern World
– Edited by Jerome D. Schein and Lester J. Waldman
– Ktav Publishing House for the New York Society for the Deaf (1986)


Ethics from Sinai (3 Volumes)
– Commentaries on famous ethical sayings and wisdom of our early
– By Rabbi Irving M. Bunim
– Feldheim Publishers, New York

Gateway to Self-Knowledge
– A very thorough practical guide that helps one focus his values
and goals in life. An excellent tool for self-improvement.
– By Rabbi Zelig Priskin
– Aish HaTorah

Guard Your Tongue
– An adaptation of the Chofetz Chaim’s book on loshon hora brought
to life with numerous true to life examples of what gossip is and
how to avoid this pitfall.
– By Rabbi Zelig Priskin
– Aish HaTorah

Love Your Neighbor
– A monumental work that gleans from the weekly Torah portion
lessons how to treat ones fellow man. Complimented with inspiring
stories of our Torah scholars.
– By Rabbi Zelig Priskin
– Aish HaTorah

HEBREW (Learning):

Living Language Conversational Manual – Hebrew
– Teaches Hebrew with Books and Audio Materials
– By Samuel Steinberg
– Crown Publishers Inc., New York (1958)


Behold a People
– The author goes through the entire Biblical period and gives us
interesting insights into our national development, while
pointing out moral lessons that can be learned from our noble
– By Rabbi Avigdor Miller
– R. Avigdor Miller


Lest We Forget
– Growing up in Nazi Leipzig 1933-1939
– Rabbi Shlomo Wahrman
– Mesorah Publications Inc., Brooklyn, NY

The Holocaust
– An annotated bibliography and resource guide
– Edited by David M. Szonyi
– Ktav Publishing House for the National Jewish Resource Center
New York (1985)


Code of Jewish Law – Kitzur Shulhan Aruh (4 Volumes)
– A Compilation of Jewish Law and Customs
– By Rabbi Solomon Ganzfreid, Translated by Hyman Goldman?, LL. B.
– Hebrew Publishing Company (1961)

A Book of Jewish Concepts
– An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Judaism
– By Phillip Birnbaum
– Hebrew Publishing Company, New York (1975)

The Book of Our Heritage (3 Volumes)
– The Jewish Year and Days of Significance
– By Eliyahu Kitov, Translated from the Hebrew `Sefer Hatoda’ah’
By Nathan Bulman
– `A’ Publishers – Jerusalem – New York (1968)

Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot)
– Includes a supplement on TaRYaG Mitzvot (the 613 Commandments),
and Biographies on the Rabbis of the Mishnah
– Text, translation and notes by Phillip Blackman
– Judaica Press, New York, NY (1979)

The Handbook of Jewish Thought
– Jewish concepts on 13 different subjects.
– By Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (1979)
– Moznaim Publishing Corp., New York / Jerusalem

The Jew and His Home
– A guide to observance
– By Eliyahu Kitov, Translated by Nathan Bulman
– Shengold Publishers Inc., New York, NY (1984)

The Jewish Dietary Laws
– A guide to their understanding and observance
– By Dayan Dr. I Grunfeld
– The Soncino Press London / Jerusalem / New York

The Kuzari (Kitab al Khazari)
– An Argument for the Faith of Israel
– By Judah Halevi
– Schoken Books – New York (1971)

The Legacy of Sinai
– A history of Torah transmission, with world backgrounds: From
Creation through the close of the Geonic Era [1 – 4798]
– By Rabbi Zechariah Fendel
– Hashkafah Publications, New York (5745/1985)

The Mitzvot
– The 613 Commandments and their rationale.
– By Abraham Chill
– Block Publishing Company, New York, NY (1974)

The Palm Tree of Deborah
– Observances and Attitude of mind in which the ideal of the
“Imitation of G-d” may be realized
– By Rabbi Moses Cordovero
– Translation, Introduction and Notes by Louis Jacobs (1981)
– Sepher-Hermon Press, New York

Reasons for Jewish Customs and Traditions (Ta’amei Minhagim)
– By Rabbi Abraham Sperling, Translated by Rabbi Abraham Matts
– Bloch Publishing Company, New York (1968)

The Sanctity of Speech
– About the power of the tongue, lashon ha-rah, etc.

Strive for Truth
– Selected writings on different aspects of life
– By Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler
– Michtav Me-Eliyahu rendered into English by Aryeh Carmell
– Feldheim Publishers, New York – 5745/1985

To Be a Jew
– A guide to Jewish observance in contemporary life.
– By Rabbi Chaim Donin
– Basic books Inc.

Tzitzit – A Thread of Light
– By Aryeh Kaplan
– National Conference of Synagogue Youth / Union of Orthodox
Jewish Congregations, New York, New York (1984)

A Woman of Valor
– An anthology for the thinking Jewess
– The Lubavitch Foundation of Great Britain (1976)

Tales of the Tongue
– Parables, stories, guidelines, and teachins of the Sages on Proper
– Esther Ehrenreich and Chava Kahan
– Mesorah Publications, Brooklyn, NY

Guide to Midoth Improvement
– Text on how to improve your personal qualities
– By Naftali Hoffner (1991)
– Feldheim, New York

The Way of G-d and an Essay on the Fundamentals
– Teaches about the ways of G-d
– Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto
– Translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (1977)
– Feldheim, New York (1977)

Mesillat Yesharim – The Path of the Just
– Step-by-step help for those desiring spiritual growth (English &
– Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto
– Translated by Shraga Silverstein
– Feldheim, New York (1966)

Gateway to Happiness
– A practical guide to happiness and peace of mind culled from the
full spectrum of Torah literature
– Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (1983)
– Aish HaTorah Publications
– Benei Yaakov Publications, 1742 East 7th Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11223
– 718-376-5903

Choose Life!
– An Approach for Obtaining Happiness and Meaning Based on the
Principles of Torah and Explained Through the Medium of a Very
Human Story-Like Dialog.
– Also includes Rosh Hashanah: Unveiling the Purpose of Creation
– Rabbi Ezriel Tauber
– Shalheves, PO Box 361, Monsey, NY, 10952, 914-356-3515

Living Each Week
– Explanation, Commentary and Practical Advice from the weekly Torah
Reading (Parashah HaShavuah)
– Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.
– Mesorah Publications, Brooklyn, NY

Return to the Source
– Selected articles for the intelligent, reasoning, modern Jew who
is trying to unravel the riddle of hid existence.
– Feldheim

Taryag 613
– Useful study guide translates the Rambam’s listing of the 613
mitzvot. With cross references to the Chinuch and Sefer
– By Rabbi Alon I. Tolwin
– Feldheim


“How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, Thy dwellings, O Israel!”
(Numbers 24:4)

A Hedge of Roses
– Jewish Insights into Marriage and Married Life
– Norman Lamm (1987)
– Feldheim, New York

A Guide to Jewish Family Laws
– Zev Schostak
– Feldheim, New York

Taharas Am Yisroel
– a guide to the Laws of Taharas Hamishpochoh (Family Purity)
– Rabbi S. Wagschal (1983)
– Philipp Feldheim, New York

Le Judaisme et La Vie Conjugale
– Moshe David Tendler
– Fondation Sefer – Paris

Made in Heaven
– Jewish Wedding Guide. A blend of both the philosophy and
halachic aspects of a Jewish marriage.
– Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (1983)
– Moznaim Publishing Corporation, Brooklyn, NY

The River, the Kettle and the Bird
– The Torah Guide to Successful Marriage
– Aharon Feldman (1987)
– CSB Publications, Jerusalem
– Distributed by Philip Feldheim Inc., Spring Valley, NY

Le Marriage C’est Quoi? C’est une Vocation
– French – Guide pour le couple
– translated and adapted by Rabbi Isaac Zerbib
– Haktav Institute, Jerusalem (5744)

Waters of Eden – The Mystery of the Mikvah
– A new exploration of the concept of mikvah renewal and rebirth
– By Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (1982)
– NCSY/Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, NY, NY

The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage
– Popular authoritative presentation of Jewish teaching on love and
marriage in light of the traditions and laws in the Bible.
– By Rabbi Maurice Lamm
– Harper & Row

Jewish Marriage – A Halakhic Ethic
– basic guidelines and advice for the development of a sound
– Rabbi Reuven Bulka (1986)
– KTAV Publishing House, Inc., NY, NY

The Jew and His Home
– A guide to observance
– By Eliyahu Kitov, Translated by Nathan Bulman
– Shengold Publishers Inc., New York, NY (1984)

Revelations About Marriage
– renewed and enlarged edition of the book Happiness in Marriage
– reveals the deep dimension of married life through the teachings
of the Hebrew letters (Using Gematria – numerology)
– Rabbi Mattityahu Glazerson
– Raz-Ot Institute, Jerusalem

How to Stop an Intermarriage
– A practical and effective guide for parents dealing with the
pitfalls of intermarriage.
– By Rabbi Kalman Packouz
– Aish HaTorah

Jewish Alternatives in Love, Dating and Marriage
– Provides a secure and sensible framework with which to deal with
lifes most challenging and perplexing phenomena; love, dating and
– By Rabbi Pinchas Stopler
– National Conference of Synagogue Youth

The Ways of Purity
– Abridged work on family purity laws
– Rav Mordechai Eliahu, Shlita – Richon LeZion, Chief Rabbi of
– Treanslated by Rav Isaac Habib, Chlita
– Edited by The World Center For The Purity of The Jewish Family
– You can get this book in NY at 718-253-7051

Les Chemins de la Purete
– French – Abridged work on family purity laws
– Rav Mordechai Eliahu, Shlita – Richon LeZion, Chief Rabbi of
– Treanslated by Rav Isaac Habib, Chlita
– Edited by le Centre Mondial de la Purete de la Maison Juive (The
World Center For The Purity of The Jewish Family)
– You can get this book in NY at 718-253-7051


Jewish Medical Law
– A concise Response, compiled and edited from the `Tzitz Eliezer’
– By Rabbi Avraham Steinberg M.D., Translated By David B. Simons M.D.
– Gefen Publishing, Jerusalem/California (1980)

Judaism and Healing – Halakhic Perspectives
– A concise, incisive but non-technical study of major issues in
in medical bio-ethics.
– By J. David Bleich
– Ktav Publishing House


The Complete Dictionary of English and Hebrew First Names
– By Alfred J. Koltach
– Jonathan David Publishers, Middle Village, New York (1984)


Anvil of Sinai
– Deals primarily with the conceptual and philosophical truths of
authentic Judaism.
– By Rabbi Zechariah Fendel
– Hashkafah Publications

– Torah views on science and its problems, including Genesis,
evolution, and the ethical dilemma arising out of recent
scientific advances.
– Compiled By Carmel & Domb
– Feldheim

Challenge of Sinai
– An authentic Torah approach to the ever-present challenges of a
changing society. Includes Torah values, sexual mores, zero
population growth, abortion, drug culture and intermarriage.
– By Rabbi Zechariah Fendel
– Hashkafah Publications


– A biographical novel of the great tanna Rabbi Akiba.
– By Marcus Lehman
– Phillip Feldheim, Inc., New York (1956)

A Tzaddik in our Time
– Biography of Rabbi Aryeh Levin, filled with uplifting stories
that testify his piety.
– By Simcha Raz
– Feldheim


The Sabbath
– A Guide to its Understanding and Observance
– By Dayan Dr. I. Grunfeld (1981)
– Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem/New York


Gateway to the Talmud
– By Rabbi Meir Zvi Bergman

The Student’s Guide Through the Talmud
– By Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Chajes

Aiding Talmud Study
– Gemara Key words and phrases, concise survey of aramaic grammar,
intorduction to the talmud, tables of talmudic weights and
measures, chronological charts, and map of Torah centers
– By Rabbi Aryeh Carmell (1988)
– Feldheim – Jerusalem / New York

Understanding the Talmud
– A Systematic Guide to Talmudic Structure and Methodology
– Rabbi Yitzhak Feigenbaum (1988)
– Feldheim – Jerusalem / New York

The Gateway to Learning
– A systematic introduction to the study of Talmud
– By Rabbi Elyahu Krupnick
– Feldheim – Jerusalem / New York

The Ways of Reason
– A guide to the Talmud and the foundations of dialectics explaining
all the principles of reason and logic in a simple and concise way
– By Rabenu Moshe Chaim Luzzatto zt”l
– Translated by Rabbi David Sackton and Rabbi Chaim Tsholkowsky
– Feldheim – Jerusalem / New York

The Oral Law
– By Rabbi H.C. Schimmel

Eshnav HaTalmud (Hebrew)
– A. Z. Melamed

Otzar HaTalmud (Hebrew)
– By Yosef Schecter


The Living Torah
– A translation of the Torah that includes study aids such as
introduction, notes, maps, tables, charts, bibliography and
index, which bring the people and the events of the Torah to
– By Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
– Maznaim

The Stone Edition – Chumash
– An excellent translation and commentary on the Torah
anthologized from Rabbinical writings.
– by Rabbi Nosson Scherman
– Artscroll – Mesorah Publications, 1994, Brooklyn, NY


Asher Israelowitz’s Guide to Jewish Europe
– By Asher Israelowitz (1985)
– Mr. Israelowitz, P.O. Box 228, Brooklyn, NY 11229


In Search of the Jewish Woman
– A contemporary approach for the Jewish Woman based on traditional
sources; her purpose, place and essence in the complex scheme of
– By Yisroel Miller
– Feldheim

Women and Jewish Law
– An exploration of Women’s issues in Halakhik sources
– By Rachel Biale
– Shocken Books, NY (1984)


Benei Yaakov Publications
1742 East 7th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11223

Moznaim Publishing Corporation
4304 12th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11219
718-428-7680, 718-853-0525

Mesorah Publications Ltd.
4401 Second Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11232

Phillip Feldheim Inc.
200 Airport Executive Park
Spring Valley, NY 10977
914-356-2282, 800-237-7149

From the Same Author:

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
– Waters of Eden – The Mystery of the Mikvah (French edition: Les
Eaux d’Eden – Le mystere de la Mikvah)
– Sabbath – Day of Eternity (Fr: Le Chabbat, un jour d’eternite)
– G-d, Man and Tefillin (Fr: D., l’homme et les Tefilline)
– Tzitzis – The Thread of Light (Fr: Les Tzitzith, fil de lumiere)
– The Light Beyond (Fr: La lumiere au dela)
– Adventures in Chassidic Thought (Fr: Aventures dans la pensee
‘hassidique, anthologie)
– The Handbook of Jewish Thought (Fr: Manuel de pensee juive)
– The Bahir (Fr: Le Bahir, commontaire et Traduction)
– Made in Heaven – A Jewish Wedding Guide (Fr: Arrange dans le ciel –
guide du marriage juif)
– The Living Torah (Fr: La Torah vivante)
– If you were G-d (Fr: Si Vous Etiez D.)
– The Infinite Light (Fr: La Lumiere Infinie)

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto
– The Path of the Just
– The Ways of Reason
– The Way of G-d

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (Benei Yaakov Publications)
– Gateway to Happiness (1983)
– The Power of Words (1988)
– Guard Your Tongue – Adapted from the Chofetz Chaim (1975)
– Love Your Neigbor (1977)
– Growth Through Torah (1988)
– Gateway to Self-Knowledge

Rabbi S. Wagschal
– Care of Children on Shabbos and Yom Tov (Holidays)
– Guide to Kashrus (Kosher)
– Sh’mittoh is Here
– Taharas Am Yisrael (Purity of the People of Israel)

The Holy Tanna – Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai

Rabbi_Shimon_Bar_YochaiThe Holy Tana – Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai’s Hilloula (Yartzeit Celebration) is the 18th of Iyar, this past Wednesday Night.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai was a Tanna – a Great Rabbi, quoted in in the Mishna (Successor text of the Oral Torah) Text. On Lag BaOmer, we celebrate his Yartzeit (Day of Passing). He was a rabbi that attained superhuman heights. He reached such a high level of being, due to his study of the Torah, that he told People to celebrate his death – for he accomplished his potential in life. Thus, he told his followers to celebrate his life on his yartzeit.

RABBI SHIM’ON BAR YOHAY- -RASHBY. A great historical figure. Lived in hard historical times during the Roman occupation of Judea. Because of his criticism of the Roman occupiers, they put a price on his head. To escape them he hid in a cave with his son, Rabbi Elazar, for 13 years. During this long stay in the cave they studied together the mysteries of the Torah, and RASHBY is credited to have written the HOLY ZOHAR, the major text of KABBALAH. On LAG BAOMER, (18th of Iyar) his loyal followers flock to his tomb in Miron where they celebrate his HILLULA with much fanfare. Next to MOSHE HABBENU, his name is the most revered one among all Sephardim. In his honor, Sephardim chant the song BAR YOHAY every Friday night before Kiddush.

(Excerpt from a Text Written by. Rabbi Haim Toledano, z”l)

Hundreds of thousands celebrate the Hilloula Celebration of Lag BaOmer (the 33rd Day of the Omer) by purchasing candles auctioned-off in his memory and lighting candles in his memory, learning his Torah and visiting his tomb in Meron, Israel. In Israel, children collect scraps of wood to make a large pyre in order to burn on the day of his Hilloula.

One of the Explanations of custom the benefit of purchasing the candles of the righteous people is found in the following excerpt from Sefer Ahavat Haim regarding faith and Lag Baomer:

“On the night of Lag Ba’omer we are accustomed to selling candles and we announce the names of many [Tzadiklmj as well as [each person] who purchases and lights the candle in their honor:

I heard that at that moment, that particular Tzadik comes down from the world of truth, gazes at the face of that person [who purchased a candle in his name], and the Tzadik [then] departs keeping [the sponsors] name and [facial] features [in mind]. When that person [eventually] dies, that particular Tzadik comes and speaks in his defense, and says This man spent such and such an amount of money and lit candles in honor of the Tzadikim although he never saw us and he does not recognize us. [He did this] only because of his [pure] faith. .. [These words of defense are heard in heaven and the person] is exonerated. . .”

Light a candle in his memory and say a prayer to Hash-m that in his merit you will be answered.

The Kings Guards – A Lesson on the Search for Truth from a Children’s Book

wagonI remember a children’s book – Gillespie and the Guards.

The King appointed guards for his palace. They were renown as the greatest. The king was so confident of them that he issued a challenge – anyone who could steal anything from the palace would be rewarded.

A small boy, took him up on it. He entered the palace and tried to take a wagon full of rocks. The guards quickly stopped him. He returned the rocks and took back his wagon. He tried again, he tried to take sand this time. The guards stopped him. He put back the sand and took his wagon. He tried taking other things they stopped him each time.

Then the boy appeared to the king to claim his reward. The king said – “Why So? My guards stopped you each time!”

Gillespie answered “Your majesty the king – they stopped me from stealing the rocks and sand from the palace, but they didn’t stop me from stealing the wagons!”

We sometimes act like this king. We fall into the trap of momentum. We ignore the obvious. We have a certain lifestyle – certain beliefs and want to remain with them. If they are challenged we shrug the people off and say this is the way we’ve been doing it for many years. Then the tide turns and we know not what hit us.

Judaism is based upon questioning. Questioning your ideals, yourself, the values of society to be able to arrive at truth. Continuous improvement starts with a desire to find truth. Prayer to find it also helps.

Some would rather remain in the comfort zone. But where do they end up? In the comfort zone.

Growth takes effort. A person builds their strengths by lifting a little more every day. The same applies to mental and emotional fitness.

Here is a common example:

Judaism seeks not converts. Judaism – as opposed to other religions offers two paths – one for Jews and one for gentiles. When G-d gave the Torah, he gave laws for all people – the 7 Noahide laws and laws for Jews. Through respecting them a person is offered a place in heaven.

There are thousands of religions in the world. I sometimes wonder why people follow them. Why? Many religions admit to the fact that G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people. They accept that G-d gave the Torah Law to the Jews at Mount Sinai about 3,300 years ago in the presence of millions of witnesses.

Yet, many religions are based upon – “G-d changed his mind” about his laws or people. Logically, that is very challenging. That is basically saying that G-d, Knower of all facts present, past and future made a mistake. Problematic to say the least. Judaism does not have the “G-d’s mistake” problem of theology and logic.

If you point it out to some – they will admit to the problem but not change.

Others will ignore it.

Some honest people will admit to the problem and say maybe they should investigate the 7 Noahide laws or Judaism.

This is one example. Examples abound. This is the job of the Yetzer HaRah/ “Inclination for Bad.” It tricks you to overlook the obvious. Our tool is to be focused on finding truth. Regardless if it means giving in or giving up.

It is easy to disregard fact to stay in one’s comfort zone. But G-d provides us with a brain to discern truth to be able to arrive at our potential. That’s what G-d expects of us to honestly and sincerely search for truth – even if it means we must step out of our comfort zone.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep – 10 Steps for Peaceful Sleep

child saying shemaI fall asleep sometimes in my daytime clothes.

Waking up in the middle of the night, I put on pajamas and fall asleep again. The second part of my sleep is more relaxing than the first.

1. Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Starts from the Day.

In the Talmud (Tractate / Masechet Berachot) it talks about dreams. Dreams can be prophetic or they can be things that a person thinks about during the day.

A person who reads scary books or watches scary videos may have nightmares at night. Seeing things unbecoming also causes one to think about them at night.

Thus, best to avoid those things. There is a Segula / Amulet to saying “Eliyahu HaNavi” 72 Times before sleep to help a person clear their bad thoughts. It also prevents one from becoming a Baal Keri / בעל קרי.

2. Don’t Ingest Caffeine

Coke, Caffeine Tea or Coffee make and acidic things – like Orange Juice at night may make it difficult to fall asleep.

3. Avoid Stress or anything that might cause you an Emotional Outburst

When one has stress or concerns, it makes a person anxious and less likely to fall asleep. Remember G-d is in control and he does all for the good of the person.

4. Finish Unfinished Tasks

– Have a report or homework to do? Finish them before sleep.

5. Take some time to learn Torah –

Learning Torah calms and provides joy for a person.

6. Put on Pajamas

Pajamas should be comfortable. I like 100% cotton and loose pajamas that cover the body, arms and legs. Wearing short sleeves or short pants sometimes makes a person uncomfortable – because a person has a natural tendency to want to be covered – due to modesty. Adam, the first man, felt uncomfortable when he saw he was uncovered and took leaves to cover himself. I think this is also the reason a person, in general, wants to sleep with a cover.

7. Say Shema

Saying Shema Yisrael (found in Prayer Books) allows a person to destroy evil spiritual forces.

Sit up in Bed.

Some say the only the first paragraph. Some say the Kriyat Shema found in Prayer book.

For Kids Say :
– Shema Yisrael … / Hear Oh Israel
– Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe… / The Torah Moshe Commanded Us ..
– Hamalach Hagoel … / The Angel that Redeems …

Reciting Shema before sleep, Prevents People from having Nightmares.

8. Go in Bed

Get into a comfortable position. Men sleep on their left sides to start to aid digestion and wake on their right side.

9. Turn Off Light

Sleeping with the light on may disturb sleep. If one needs light, a night light will usually do. Or have a lamp next to bed to reed and to turn off before sleep. On Shabbat or Holidays one may use the Shabbat Lamp available in some Jewish Books stores. One does not turn off the light. One just covers the light.

10. Review Your Day
Think of the good you did and things you could have done things better. This is called Chesbon HaNefesh / Accounting of the Soul. When you commit to becoming better, it is the first step in becoming better. You go to sleep as a better person.

The Singles Life – Avoiding the 7 Key Dating Mistakes

fork-in-roadTraveling, one encounters forks in the road.

Take one fork you arrive in New York. Take the other you will find yourself in Philadelphia.

Life also has forks.

Decide on one path you arrive at point A, take the other you arrive at point B.

This is not a problem if you have no destination to arrive to.

But most people want to arrive at a specific destination at the end of their life.

They want their life to be meaningful and at the end we hope that we will have achieved our purpose.

Once a Rabbi was on the platform between two trains. He asked his student to estimate the distance between the two trains. The students responded “about 30 feet”. The Rabbi responded “in reality they are 3000 miles apart because one is going to New York and the other one is going to California.”

The decision you make now will have great repercussions upon your life – 30 years from now.

Thus dating is an important process to help one decide where they’re going to be 30 years from now.

Dating in Judaism, has contrary to society’s values, is specifically to find a mate that is suitable for marriage.

This changes the face of dating.

The goal is not to have a good time, rather it is to find out if the person in front of you is suitable to help you and them to reach your common potential together in the context of marriage. Part of finding the right mate is finding someone you can communicate and enjoy life with. But having enjoyment without having the basic necessities leads to a dead end road.

A person who looks at dating as a matter to just have a good time is like the person who takes a road trip without having a designated destination. They may have a good time, but in the end, they end up not getting anywhere.

Avoiding the 7 Dating Mistakes

1. Know Your Destination Before you Start

Put in your mind that you are dating to find a suitable marriage partner. Once that is your goal – it makes things much easier. You talk to find out if the person has the right values, goals, Torah outlook and character traits to be able to establish a family together.

Look in the places that fit your standards for a mate.

I give the following advice to people – before person gets married that should reinforce themselves in observance of Judaism.

The reason is is that God matches a person according to the level of observance – or open-mindedness to observance of Judaism of the potential mate.

Thus, if a person is hanging out in bars and discotheques – God will most likely give you the opportunity to meet those kinds of people. If you go to Jewish Torah lectures, you will find a mate with more proper Jewish values, than those found in a bar.

Not judging those people who hang out in bars – I used to go myself – they are not usually interested in spiritual growth. Thus if you raise your standard, God will raise the standard of person you will meet.

If you value keeping kosher, God will likely help you find someone who also keeps kosher.

If you value observing the Shabbat and start observing it, that God will also introduce you to someone has who has like values.

If you value learning Torah, and start learning Torah regularly, God will help you to find someone also values Torah learning.

You should know that Judaism was fashioned by G-d that through it a person is able to reach their potential in life and to raise the best family that they possibly can. Following Torah allows one to reach their potential. A Jewish person reaches their potential by observing the 613 commandments. A non-Jew reaches their potential by following the 7 Noahide laws – that are commanded by the Torah for all people.

Thus it makes sense to find a mate that values Judaism observance.

2. Assure that your Potential Mate is Jewish, if you are Jewish. Assure that they want to follow the 7 Noahide laws if you are not.

If you are Jewish and your current partner is not, it is better to break up. If you are adamant about your continuing with your current partner – Break up, assure that they will convert to Judaism through guidance of an Orthodox Rabbi. Once they convert you can decide whether the relationship works. If they are not serious or not honest better to break it off.

If you are not Jewish and your partner is Jewish, then you should break up with them. If you are adamant about continuing with your partner, you should ask yourself if you are ready to convert to Judaism through the guidance of an Orthodox rabbi.

Jewish is defined by having a mother, or a maternal grandmother that was Jewish or converted according to Torah Law – through a Jewish Orthodox Beit Din / court of law.

When a husband or wife are Jewish and their spouse are from a different religion it causes strife in the couple.

The children are also confused. They go to one grandparents or uncles or aunts house and they see one religion being observed. And they go to another house and they see another religion being observed. This not only confuses them, but it detracts from their self-confidence. They don’t know where they belong. They don’t know whether they belong in one camp or the other. Whether to adopt one set of values or not. In essence intermarriage is unfair to the resulting children.

Thus it makes sense for a Jew to marry a Jew.

A Jewish person is not allowed to marry a Non-Jew. A Jewish person cannot relinquish their religion. They will always be considered Jewish and obligated to follow Jewish law regardless of motions that they do if they try to “convert out”.

Someone who is currently not a Jew who wants to marry a Jew, should first breakup with their current mate. Then learn about conversion to Judaism through an Orthodox rabbi and see if they are ready to take on all the obligations that the Torah law requires. If they are not, it makes sense for them to find another potential mate.

3. Avoid Contact during Dating

Contact during dating makes it more difficult to make an unbiased decision about whether their current mate has marriage potential. Once a person has had contact with their mate, they are necessarily biased and cannot come to a fully objective decision of whether their prospective mate has the right qualities to help bring out their potential in life.

4. Assure Your Potential Mate is On the Same Wavelength –

Some people just want to have fun. They have no intention whatsoever to get married. Thus they waste the time of their mate that does want to get married. Thus it makes sense to clarify where their mate is holding in terms of marriage – to assure they also want to get Married.

Some mates want to have children while the other does not. According to Torah a man is obligated to have children – at least a boy and a girl. Thus it makes sense for a person to assure that their potential mate also wants to have children.

Some mates will say anything to assure they will get married but once married they change their tune. They do the opposite of what they said they would do. Thus it makes more sense to find someone who is already doing the major things that are important to you – rather than to rely on a promise.

One should assure that their mate observes Torah and Mitzvot or seriously wants to.

Some want to marry a working man. Some women want to marry a man that just learns Torah. Some want to marry a man that does half and half. Determine what you are looking for.

5. Look for Character Traits
Inner beauty is more important than outer beauty. Thus searching for good character traits in a potential mates makes more sense, than to search for someone who has only external beauty.

Person can get used to looks. But getting used to bad character is much more difficult.

6. Get References about Your Potential Mate
At times a person looks nice and acts nicely – but inside they are a snake. They won’t show their scales, fangs or venom in public for fear of alienating their mate. After they get under the wedding canopy, the hissing starts.

Not everybody is a snake. But it makes sense to get references and to learn about the mate from third parties before getting married. One may ask about the temper of the potential mate, and the health, and the ability to bear children.

There are Jewish laws that prohibit speaking badly about others. Thus when asking a third-party for information about a particular mate, you must specify that the reason you want this information is you are interested in dating them for marriage. Thus they will be allowed according to Jewish law to tell that you things that are of use, that they would not be allowed to had you not mentioned that fact.

You must also ask pointed questions – like did you ever see the person getting angry?
– Do you know if this person has an abusive personality?
– You know of anything bad that would impinge on a marriage about this person?
– Do you know of any health problems or psychological problems that this person has?

Do not ask very vague questions that everybody can shirk their responsibility in answering the question – like is this person a nice person? Everybody can act nicely in certain situations. Thus the question is not necessarily useful.

7. Consider Each Potential Mate Seriously – Don’t Reject Because of Lack of Perfection
when I was going out, I would consider seriously each person that was proposed to me. I had the Torah Outlook that everything that God does is for a purpose. Thus if God arranged that someone proposed a certain mate to me, I would consider them seriously – unless they were seriously out of the ballpark. I would try to go out until things would not work out. There were times that I almost got engaged and God arranged that things did not work out. This does not mean to be naïve and say yes to everybody, but it means that a person should consider seriously the people that God puts in their path, provided that they meet all the criteria above.

At times, a person rejects a good Shidduch / Potential Mate because they did not find perfection. Most of the time this is wrong because each person is not perfect themselves. One of the purpose of marriage is to work together for each one of them to achieve a greater perfection.

People also make the mistake of thinking that the person is etched in stone and cannot change. People can change for the better or for the worse. A mates can have an influence on the decisions of their spouse. They can influence them to become better or to change their mind on certain decisions.

There was a a girl that did not want to date a boy because he said that if he could not support his family he might move away from where she wanted to live. She felt that it was serious enough to reject meeting the boy.

I suggested that she speak with great rabbis of the generation to find out if that was a worthy reason to not meet a person. If a person has a doubt about meeting or continuing with a person, they should consult with Daat Torah – an orthodox rabbi or person who can give you the Torah’s perspective on the concern.

In any case, a woman has potential to influence her husband. When people get married they don’t get married in a vacuum. Each one can influence the other for the good or for the bad. People should take that fact into consideration as well before rejecting a good prospective mate due to an insignificant detail.

There is a story about to righteous people that were married. They divorced. The husband got married to a wicked wife. And the wife got married to a wicked man. The once righteous man became wicked through the influence of his wife. The righteous wife remained righteous and changed her wicked husband to become righteous as well. Both spouses have power to influence their spouse. But the wife apparently has more power to influence her husband then her husband to influence her.

These are just some of the considerations one should take into account. Continuous growth in Judaism when one is single and after marriage helps a person reach their potential. Thus a mate that one is searching for should have this also has a value – the desire to grow in Torah and mitzvot for them to reach their potential together.

One book that speaks of this is called “The River, the Kettle and the Bird”. It talks about three types of relationships that a married couple can achieve. It is a good book to read before getting married.

Observing the advice above will help a person raise a family that they are happy with and help them reach their potential in life. Moreover it will also help them to lead an enjoyable life. Observing Judaism helps a person to lead a happy life. Families enjoy Shabbat together. Members of the family respect one another. Members of the family acts with kindness and nobility with one another – when they follow the laws of the Torah.

Cleaning Simplified – What I Learned from Passover Cleaning

passover_chametz_freePassover is a time for cleaning.

In trying to assure that their are no hametz / leavened products in our homes, we clean.

Apparently, the world learned spring cleaning from us.

The cleaning for Passover is a two part process, while spring cleaning is a one part process.

Spring cleaning is cleaning of the house.

Passover cleaning consists of cleaning the Hametz / unleavened products – like bread, cookies and the like from the house and hametz – the unleavened, i.e. haughtiness and arrogance – from the person.

The Hametz we find, we burn before Passover. We aim to do the same with our bad qualities – we try to do away with them.

Learning Jewish self-improvement works – like Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers, Mesilat Yesharim / Path of the Just – and introspection, help our quest to be our best.

The Mesilat Yesharim – is based upon the Concept that “Cleanliness leads to Godliness”. It outlines a step-by-step program on how one can reach a higher spiritual level.

If you feel negative emotions in certain situations, see if you can handle a situation that triggered you in a more positive way. Act it out in a positive way. Some review all their actions before going to sleep to find ways to improve.

The Physical cleaning of the house is easier.

How to Clean Easier

1. Get Supplies
Rubberbands, Zip Lock Bags (quart size), Paper Towels, Windex or Clorox Spray

Clean Easy First

See what’s easy to do. Is it untangling the cords, and putting them away or is it throwing out unneeded papers – like the electric bills from 10 years ago.

Cord Cleaning
Today we have cords for appliances, machines, sharpeners, phones, printers, tape recorders. The list continues. What to do with all of them?

Take Cords and put rubber bands around.

– turn cords around 4 fingers then place rubber-band around it.

– if cord has an adapter, put cord around prongs of adapter then put rubber bands

After place cords in Zip-lock bags and label .

Place same cords in same zip-lock bag. Like Printer cables in one bag. Put same types in gallon bag.

Paper Cleaning
Take random papers place in two piles. throw and keep.

Take throw pile put in two or three piles
– recycle and shred
– Jewish people have another pile – Shaimos / Shemot – papers and documents that contain G-d’s name or Holy writings. These must be disposed of in a Geniza – where they bury the holy writings.

Take the keep pile
Put in piles like the file pile and scrap paper pile.

Electonic filing
If you find business cards, put them all in a zip-lock bag. If you have needed addresses and phone numbers on papers or business cards, put them on your phone or computer index. Some phones will automatically update your computer contact files.

You might also want to have a Miscellaneous / Undecided pile – where you put things that you will decide about later.

The point is is to be quick – don’t get stuck deciding what to do. The Idea is to move.

Workspace Efficiency

Decide on everything if you need it or if you use it frequently.

If the desk in your room is not being used, give it away or recycle it.

Determine the frequency of use of papers and things in your room. Something you usually need frequent access to – keep it close. Something you only access infrequently, you can store it in the basement or a closet to create uncluttered working space.

Another tip:
To clean a drawer – spill all in big pile on a plastic table cloth on carpet and sort. Put things needed frequently in a close drawer, and things not needed frequently farther away.

When your workspace is clean and clear, you are able to concentrate better.

When I learn Torah, I try to clean the desk or table from books to create an uncluttered space to be able to better concentrate on Torah study.

Cleanliness is one step in the process of spiritual purification and growth.

Propelling to New Heights on Passover

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERATime is a cycle. In Judaism, certain events that occurred in the past are not just history, but have an influence on events that fall the same day in the future.

On Pesach / Passover, it was the only time in history when a whole nation left from within another nation.

On Passover, we do not just commemorate the event of the Jews leaving Egypt – we relive the Exodus.

On the 15th of the Jewish Month of Nisan, G-d freed the Jews from 210 years of bondage in Egypt. Every, year on that date – the time is propitious for freedom.

One, who in the past succumbed to temptation, can free themselves and become a totally new person. One can go from being an average person to a completely righteous person.

One can free themselves from the shackles of society and become the person they have the potential to become.

It takes three things – prayer, commitment and effort.

Prayer on this night is more potent. Efforts to improve are met with more success. Make the commitment and you will succeed.

The Word Egypt in Hebrew is Mitzrayim – It starts with the letter Mem and ends with a Final Mem. The Mem in the beginning of the word has an opening. At the end the Mem is completely closed. When a person would enter Mitzrayim – they would not be able to leave. Dogs and black magic prevented people from leaving.

Egypt was a place of vice. People were slaves to their vices. The Jews sunk to the 49th level of impurity – out of 50 levels. A vice starts like the slavery of Egypt. At first people volunteered to work for the good of the country. Pharaoh, slyly but surely made voluntary work into mandatory work, then he enslaved the Jews.

A vice starts as a interest. Then it takes grips of a person, until they are controlled by it. The Exodus of Egypt culminated by the receiving of the Torah. The Torah enabled the people to raise themselves out of their vices and become truly free people.

After the Pain – Consolation, Healing and Growth

Evolution of a young plantThis Post is Dedicated to the Sassoon Children who Perished in a Fire – LiIluy Nishamatam / for the Elevation of their Souls. May G-d console the mourners and all of those who share in their grieving.

Coping with & Overcoming Difficulties in Judaism

King Solomon said, in Kohelet / Ecclesiastics (Chapter 3:1-5) “For Everything there is a Season and a Time for Every Object under the Heaven….. A Time to Cry and a Time to Laugh, A Time To Eulogize and a Time to Dance…”

G-d made the world in such a way that each time period is separate “air-tight compartment”.

Yet everything is related as well. My doing good brings good to the world. My doing bad, does the opposite.

We lost precious souls last week. I was dulled by the pain and felt like an empty shell of a person for several days.

What can we do when we encounter difficulties?

There is a healing process. Each stage has it’s own period.

Experiencing Pain

In Pirkei Avot, It says “Do not console a mourner when his dead lies before him.” We do not console the mourner until after the loved one is buried. The mourner is exempt from certain Mitzvot – like prayer, saying blessing, putting on tefillin until the burial has taken place. One reason is so that the mourner can concentrate on taking care of the proper burial of the dead. It is possible that this time is also for the mourner to experience and release the pain.

Apparently before a person is buried, the mourner is to experience pain. Experiencing pain is part of the healing process. This is part of the Eulogy process to bring out the feelings and love of the departed. It brings out the thoughts of introspection. It is a period of Emotional catharsis. Once the pain is expressed and felt, one moves on to the consolation.


After this Period, a mourner sits Shiva. A seven day period where friends, family and community members come to the Shiva House to express their condolences. This is to console the mourner. The mourner is offered an opportunity to come to terms with the loss through expressing stories, and feeling and thoughts about the departed.

Healing Process and Understanding
Healing takes the most time. This is when the person tries to come to terms with the pain that they were subjected to. Some mentally try to understand what and why the event happened. Some speak with family or friends or therapists to resolve this period of pain.

We try to find the positive in the difficulties and try to fathom reasons that why G-d – who is good – let this happen. At times we are successful, through learning Torah and consulting rabbis about the “why?” At times we are not. But there is always a reason.

Some reasons that the Torah gives for the passing away of people is

It was their time to go
Their passing was an atonement for others – those that experienced the pain of their passing
Their passing was an atonement for for themselves – for improper deeds made in their life.
They came to the world to make a Tikun / reparation in the world and they accomplished their duty here. At times Transgressions of others cause a chain reaction that ended up in them being taken as an atonement. In this case, we all must do a Cheshbon HaNefesh / Accounting of our Soul – to see how we can improve. To see how we can become better. To see our lacking and do what we can to improve our deficiencies. To repent for past deeds and to make specific resolutions and commitments to correct our faults. That is what one Rabbi said . We must make a cheshbon hanefesh.
– Can we be a little more kind to our fellow Jew?
– Can we talk less gossip or lashon harah / evil speach about others?
– Can we try to make peace with others?
– Can we talk less in Synagogue?
– Can we act with more propriety towards others?
– Can we act more morally in terms of our business dealings?
– Can we act more morally in terms of our human relations?
– Can we indulge less in the pleasures of the world and use the time to bring good to the world?

They came to the world to make a Tikun / reparation to themselves – at times a soul is a reincarnation of another person. At times the previous person who which the soul belonged transgressed and needed to come back to make a reparation for past deeds.
They passed away now because they were going off the proper path – and it was better for them to die in morality rather than steeped in immorality.
G-d wanted them to be Close to Him – At times a person is so righteous that G-d wants them to be close to Him – so he picks the “roses among His garden”.

These children were pure souls. They will surely be resurrected in the time of the Messiah.

Once a Roman noble woman asked a Rabbi How do we know that a righteous person will be resurrected? He said look at a plant. One puts a seed in the ground. The seed starts to decay. Just then the seed starts to sprout a plant. So just like G-s will make a plant grow – so will G-d resurrect the righteous.

Learning, Going Forward and Positive Reactions
Once we reconcile what happened, we try to go forward. We try to learn from the loss. We try to act more prudently materially or spiritually. We try to encourage others to have courage. We say Kaddish to Keep a connection with the souls. We try to do Mitzvot for the elevation of the soul of the departed. We can always be connected through the mitzvoth we do for their memory – it is a way to send a “spiritual gift” to the departed. For each time a person does a Mitzvah in their memory, the soul receives a higher place in heaven.

Some reactions to the loss of the Sassoon children is that people have given out free fire alarms. Some have taken upon themselves to write a Sefer Torah in their memory.

Afterwards, the intelligent use the pain as a springboard to grow. They went through the difficulty and came out stronger. Now they are able to overcome any lesser challenge. Rabbi Yochanan used to console people by showing them the tooth of the last child of all the children he lost, lo alaenu (it should never happen to us.)

The attitude that the person who suffers takes can either make them or break them. If they let the suffering overwhelm them then it is for them to reinforce themselves – through Torah and Mitzvot or other way that will help them overcome it. If they take the suffering to build themselves – then they are following the path that the Torah wants from us. To grow and move on. In The Weekly Torah reading where Sarah – the wife of Avraham – died – he eulogized her shortly to not be overwhelmed by the grief. Choosing when to Grieve and when to move on is partially in one’s hands. He chose not to overdo it.

The process of Overcoming difficulties not only applies to the loss of a loved one, but also to other pain – like overcoming trauma, abuse, and other life difficulties. We should all be consoled for the loss we experienced.

How Can we be Consoled?
We can be consoled that these children must have a high place in heaven. That they died without sin. That they came to the world pure and they left the world pure. They helped people to unite and let go of their petty differences. They caused people to see the good they have and see that their problems aren’t as great as they thought. They caused people to be more careful about safety.

They caused people to overlook small problems in their lives. They caused people to let go of the pettiness in deeds that may have. They let people show their true colors of being caring individuals. They helped people who were pained to have an atonement from the pain and sorrow they suffered. That they helped many people to introspect – to find out how they can improve and to do Teshuva / repent from past deeds. That one day, the parents (they should live long) will be re-united with them in heaven. That they will be resurrected, after the Messiah comes – may it come speedily in our day.

Yet with all of this we will miss these precious souls.

Escaping the Web of Abuse – Recognizing and Preventing It

natureIt could be anyone. A friend, a relative, a boss, or even a rabbi.

A person that you trust that over steps the boundaries of normalcy – entering the domain of abuse.

The trust factor is an important part of the abuse. For if a stranger tried something similar, a red flag would go up immediately. But now that this person is trusted, your guards are lowered.

Many a time a victim will not recognize that the acts are abuse until they are steeped into it. But by that time they are confused what to do. On one hand this person is abusing them. On the other hand they are left with the question “Should I report someone whom I trust so much?” There is also an element of fear in abuse. The abuser at times uses real or veiled threats or creates fear in the victim so that they will not escape the web they wove.

A friendly hug. A nice word about one’s clothing. A small threat. Are they a misnomer or the beginning of the abuser’s approach – testing the waters before they go further.

The process of abuse is similar to the tactics that cults and missionaries use. Or people who eventually become abusive spouses. First they lure them with their honey, and then they draw the blood from them.

Although each case is different, here is a general outline on the process of abuse:

1. Desire by the Abuser of Control or Power – The abuser has a need for power. The power might be control of an organization or of a person. This need for power can manifest itself in the abuser doing all kinds of immoral things under the rug. They might insult others, undermine other’s power, speak badly of others, touch others inappropriately, use manipulation techniques.

Abusers sometimes make a common enemy so that the blame is placed upon the enemy and removes the blame from themselves. Sometimes the abuser will use their position of power to be a “protector” against the “enemy” in order to “protect” the victim. In this way the victim will focus on overcoming the enemy rather than on the abuse of the abuser.

2. Interest
– the abuser’s main goal to achieve is to advance his or her cause. They are the center of attention. They may want to take over an organization, gratify their desires or be the leader.

3. Stealth – Most of the time the victim is unaware of the plan of the abuser. The abusers acts can be dormant for many months until they learn about the victim’s vulnerabilities. When they know them well and have established trust they strike. They hide their acts from the public or others.

4. Bulldozer Attitude – the abuser is usually so self centered that anything that gets in their way, they will trample over. They have no intention to back down, even when they back down. They back down at times to keep the victim hooked. This is why reasoning with them or giving to them moral reasons to back down will not sway them. Their agenda is most important – anything you say or do will not sway them – unless it has to do with their interests – meaning – you cannot say “it is not right what you are doing” you have to stop them by saying “either stop or i call the police” or “i will report you to the boss about what you are doing.”

5. Selecting the victim(s) – The abuser chooses their victim by seeing who is must likely to cave-in to their abuse. Those that are savvy in recognizing abuse or strong or may report their abuse – they avoid. They tend to go after the naive.

6. Grooming – This is the period in which the actor (in legalese) establishes trust with the victim. It could be through nice words, giving gifts, establishing commonalities together, talking about another’s personal life, offering personal support or teaching. The grooming process hooks the victim.

7. Search for vulnerabilities – As the abuser gets to know the victim or his support group or camp, the abuser examines their mind set. He or she sees what they will respond to. Is it appreciation? Emotional Support? Financial Support? Threats? Blackmail? Anything goes.

8. Creating Quarrel / Establishment and Disparagement of Enemies – To make a cause for themselves the abuser tries to make remove the focus of the bad that they are doing by establishing an “enemy” so victims will focus on the “enemy” rather than on the abusive acts of the abuser. He or she will speak badly about them, do things against that person for they think that the other is the enemy, when the real enemy is their own “evil inclination.”

9. Establishment of Camps – abusers see themselves as the focal point. They stop not from doing the improper, under the rug, even if it means hurting others. They build up a support group to assure they are “in the right.” They will use flattery, offering gifts, parties to win people over to their camp.

10. Establishment of Fear – the actor will use their power or power of words to neutralize their victim from acting out or talking against them. They might use their power to fire them, scaring people by speaking of spiritual punishment of people who went against them, physical violence or anything else they can get their hands on. The fear instilled keeps the victim trapped.

11. Mind Games – The abuser makes the victim and others feel that it is the abuser who is a victim. When confronted with their improper acts, the abuser denies them. They make the victim feel like the abuse is coming to them – they pass the message “if they (the victim) were good, they wouldn’t be abused.” They make the victim feel guilty to pull out of the abusive relationship.

The abuser plays the victim and convinces others that they are being unfairly treated. Someone did something bad against them and now they have the right to act the way they do.

They create the feeling in followers and victims that both of them are interested in the outcome – that the abuser should retain his power. “This is a fight for Torah.” “We have to overcome this situation together” “Say that it is mutual.”

The abuser has many weapons at his side. They include flattery, compliments, gifts, veiled threats and a golden tongue.

12. Protest from People who have victim’s real interests in Mind – In everyday conversation with family members and spouses, information sometimes leaks about the abuse process. They might naively tell there spouse “The boss said that he missed me.” “the Boss showered me with personal compliments.” “The boss wrote me personal notes.” Some of the close ones will catch on to the impropriety of remarks or acts. They will protest, “that is not correct.” “This person is over stepping boundaries.” The victim, usually ignores these comments, because they are either already caught in the abuser’s web or they are biased from being part of the abusive relationship.

13. Selecting the proper moment to start abuse process – The abuser knows that he or she cannot commit their abusive acts in the open. They usually choose a time where they are alone with the victim to start. Perhaps on a good day that they had together or when the victim is emotionally vulnerable.

14. Breaking of Boundaries – Many who were not subjects of abuse do not understand how could this have happened. It is not that the victim said, let me be abused, or let me marry this abusive person, or wanted to be harassed. The victim was naive. He or she put their trust in an individual, with no thought that the other had bad intentions. The unsuspecting victim is knocked into different corners of the pool table by the abuser’s flattery or golden tongue until the person is exactly where abuser wants them.

So they test the waters – abusers start a bit of breaking the boundaries. The boss says to the employee “I love that perfume, where can I get it for my wife?” The boss enters into the personal life of the secretary, to help her how he can. The boss uses the word we. Like “after all that work, we need a vacation.” He calls her by her first name. He sends her a personal note about her beautiful work. He directs his comments to compliments her instead of her work. He says “G-d Blessed you with so much.” He talks about his private life to her. He says I missed you when you were away.

All signs of breaking boundaries.

15. Abuse – After testing the waters the abuser starts either harassment – through touching, or forcing the person to do things against the law, or talking badly

16. Nurturing the Relationship – The abuser continues his or her relationship by continuing the grooming process.

17. Injecting Guilt – The victim sometimes gets moments of clarity and realizes the abuse. When the victim confronts the abuser, they put on an act to make the victim feel guilty. They may cry or say they will leave or they will use guilt tactics.

18. Denial of Doing wrong – Just like the abuser convinces others that they do no wrong, sometimes they even convince themselves that they are entirely innocent regarding the abuse they commit. They say “it is mutual.” or “It is my company.”

19. Covering Up – The abuser tell the victim, “please cover for me” or do not tell anyone what we said, it is confidential.

Types of Abusers

Various types of abusers include:

Bully – A bully uses their power of force, fear or threats to get what they want.

Perpetrator – One who has committed abuse.

Predator – One who has a carefully though out plan to commit abuse – usually sexual abuse.

Stalker – One who awaits others in order to abuse them.

Sexual Harasser – One who uses inappropriate words to harass a person.

Sexual Abuser – A person that physically abuses another by means of touching.

Rodef / Pursuer – One who has the intention of killing or raping another. According to Jewish Law – one is allowed to kill a rodef / pursuer or a safek rodef – a person who you think has a serious intention to rape or kill.


Recognizing Red Flags of Abuse

If you are reluctant, embarrassed, afraid to tell others what someone else did or said – because of the consequences, regardless of what they might be – this is a red flag for recognizing abuse. If you feel you are hiding something from your parents, or your spouse of something that someone did to you it is highly suggested you talk it over with them.

If you see that others do things that are illegal or they try to hide, this is a sign of abuse

In causal conversation with others, if someone says to you “that that that person said to you was a bit off.” or “that that she said to you was a bit too personal.” or if you notice the person talking about your body like “I love that beauty mark you have.” are all red flags and strong action must be taken immediately before it escalates further.

Recognize what is normal and not normal. What is healthy work relationship or an abusive one. Compare them to your present work environment.

General advice
– Never confide in someone that is relatively a stranger more than someone that you have trusted for years.

– Read the book “9 to 5 – modesty in the workplace” by Rabbi Neiman to recognize what is normal conduct in the workplace.

– Avoid personal questions, advice, getting support from members of the opposite gender.

– listen to the way that the person acts or speaks in general. Observe unusual things about them. Like they talk only about themselves, or may do off acts.

– Warn children about the process of abuse – that no one should touch their bodies. They should not stay alone with others. They should have a “sharing buddy” that they can tell anything to and that buddy will let parents know if there is anything unusual.

– Do tell – be open with your siblings, spouse, parents, other people that you trust to hear what they think of the other persons questionable acts

– if you want to hide something – will And tell others. Many a time others can help you prevent being abused – but if they don’t know about it they can’t help you.

– Make a list of people you trust the most rank order

– don’t shrug off or be oblivious to comments of your spouse, or close relatives that sorry “this person is acting in appropriately.”

– Avoid being alone with the abuser and avoid contact with them. Find excuses to avoid contact “I’m sorry I’m very busy with the project to come to your office.”

– Listen to advice of your parents or spouse – “don’t speak with you. Don’t call him at home. Don’t text this person. Don’t talk too much with him. Don’t stay in the same room with him.” Ask them to define exactly what they mean. Ask them for specific guidelines.

– Don’t we can – if you recognize or know that you feel uncomfortable in the presence of the person let them know clearly not to commit the actions. Don’t mince words. Say stop what you’re doing is unacceptable. Instead of saying more neutral comments pushing them off.. Don’t remain silent in the face of the abuse.

– As the abuser uses emotions to manipulate the victim – he will use words or acts to flatter or cry or not to use to reestablish the relationship. Don’t weekend and go back.

– Ask yourself – “is this my responsibility”. If the person has certain emotional needs or physical needs or power needs ask yourself if it is your responsibility that his needs or her needs be fulfilled through your.

Breaking out of the web –

Pray to Hash-m that he helps you to escape this situation of abuse. Be very specific “Please Hash-m please stop this person from persuing and abusing me by having him promptly fired.”

Ask yourself “What do I have to gain by following this person?” Usually, you have little to gain. This was the wife’s advice to the follower of Korach – On Ben Peleth – in the Torah. His wife asked him “what do you gain by being part of the quarrel? in either case you will be secondary – if Moses is the Leader – you will be secondary to him. If Korach is the leader – you will also be secondary to him?” On be Peleth listened to his wife’s advice and was saved from being part of the quarrel and death.

Ask what do you have to lose if he doesn’t back down?

Tell others as soon as you recognize that one is breaking boundaries.

Recognize why you fear of not speaking against the other person, and weigh the advantages of speaking vs. not speaking. Many times the abuser acts in a way to gradually increase abuse in increments. That is why it must be stopped – very strongly – using no unclear terms like “You better stop or I will let the boss or my husband know” – once it is recognized. Even if he or she does stop, you should let the workplace or your trusted relatives know for them to decide a proper course of action.

Write a diary of things that happened. Show it to a trusted person and ask them what they think.

Who is at fault?

Many times the victim asks “why didn’t I stop the abuse?” they realize they were abused and feel guilty for not having stopped it or ask if they brought it upon themselves.

Psychologists say that the normal reaction to a fearful situation is either freeze, flight or flight. Either one will freeze in the face of abuse. Or they will fight it. Or they will run away. Knowing your common reactions to abuse and Practicing strong reactions that are effective in stopping the abuse is helpful.

The abuser usually has a golden tongue and heart of a snake. If you are someone who freezes or has very mild reactions to abuse, change your attitude to flight – get out of the abuser’s path ASAP because they usually have a bulldozer attitude – they have no intention to stop. Also take counsel with those who are specialists in abuse and trusted family members immediately to determine the best course of action.

Abusers are usually mostly at fault for their abuse because if they did not want to do it, they would have sought help from others, attended support groups or seen psychologists. At times the abuser has APD – Abusive Personality Disorder. It is a condition that is telltale of an abuser.

I read once an abuse victim who was an expert in Judo -who was emotionally powerless to defend themselves from the abuser because of the grooming process that took place beforehand.

Sometimes a person falls for a mate that turns out to be an abuser, because they were caught by the abusers golden tongue. The attitude of the trapped is, “He is so kind,”, “She speaks so nicely.” “I am in love.” Forget about love for now. The first and foremost priority is to find a mate that is acceptable according to Torah (ie, Jews marry Jews) and psychologically stable. Is it better to marry someone you “love” and be subjected to decades of degradation, yelling, physical violence, because you overlooked doing your homework because of “love.” If you think you should not do your homework, you are partly responsible for negligence.

Stopping the Abuse
A Previous Article spoke on Getting out of an Abusive Relationship. We will mention some here.

Tell a trusted person what the actor is doing. In general you should never have to hide anything from anyone – unless it is “Lashon HaRah” – Evil speech.

Tell the person to stop in strong terms or ask someone else to tell them in a strong way.

Tell the person that if they do not stop, you will tell others or summon them to “Beit Din” – a Jewish court of law.

If the person is an employess, tell your boss and someone you trust immediately upon when the person oversteps boundaries.

Mistakes in Lashon HaRah / Evil Speech.

In general one is never allowed according to Torah to speak badly about others even if it is 100% true what the person did. The exception is is if the words that you wish to say have cause a benefit / Toelet – you are allowed to say exactly what the person did. If you are in doubt of whether to saying anything is lashon harah, ask yourself, what benefit will anyone get – including myself by saying what I want to say. If you find one reason, you should talk. Sometimes remaining silent can be a sin, because you are not protecting yourself.

Remaining silent when someone asks you about a the character or deeds of perpetrator for a purpose – like whether to hire this person – one may be transgressing the commandment “Do not stand upon the blood of your neighbor.”

Some people who remain silent in the face of abuse do a great disservice to others, the community and the world. They think that they are protecting the abuser, but in the end they cause the abuser to go to different workplaces and commit the same abuse. A person should know the laws of lashon harah to know when or not to talk. If one does not talk they could be transgressing the commandment of “Do not stand by the blood of your fellow.” Thus if one is in doubt they should consult a competent orthodox rabbi or the Shemirat Halashon Hotline – a hotline that answers questions regarding when it is permissible to talk badly about others according to Jewish law.

Responsibility of Friends and Relatives

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Friends also don’t let friends fall into an abusive relationship. Sometimes people on the outside recognize the signs above better than those involved with a potential abuser. Seek proper strategies to separate the friend from the abuser.

After the Abuse

If someone was already abused, it makes sense to overcome it by speaking with a trustworthy and reputable therapist or psychologist that has a Torah hashkafa / Outlook from the Torah. Usually an orthodox Jewish therapist will have the proper Torah outlook.

Finding what to do with the abuser or if it was at the workplace – what to do to receive compensations. Making a settlement is the easiest, because it spares the victim from having to face the abuser or relive the trauma of the abuse.

The Torah also says don’t borrow money from others too much. Because perhaps their intention is to establish trust with you and then you will lend them and not return the money to you. Similar to abuse, they establish trust and then take the “money” from you.

The Torah teaches us of the proper attitude to take towards people – “Honor them, but suspect them.”