The Sabbatical Year – New Year – New Attitude

Cow Grazing in PastureSix years we work our field. The seventh year, we let it lay fallow.

Rest for field. Rest for a farmer.

This Torah concept, that every seventh year we give a sabbatical to our field and farmers is called Shemitah.

This year is a Shemittah Year. In Eretz Yisrael / the land of Israel, we stop commercial tilling of the fields. Each one’s field is free for anyone to take crops for personal consumption.

This rest allows the farmer more time to devote to Torah study and greater spiritual pursuits.

It allows the field time to recuperate from its momentous production.

In the Shemitah Year – all debts are forgiven. One who owed a thousand dollars last year will owe no money this year.

Debts are not carried over to the next year.

All money that was owed is forgotten.

Putting aside the details of the law, we can learn that once a year has past – we can avoid carrying over bad feelings from bygone days.

The past is the past.

Now, one can let go of animosity, hatred, feelings of anger. It is a new year.

One can live with a new positive attitude.

Let go of the bad.

Bring in the good.

Grab the Bottle from the Baby – Aren’t You Sweet?

MP900337279In the first Mishna of Talmud Tractate Succot it says that a Succah that is higher than 20 Amot (One Ama = about 1 1/2 to 2 feet) is not Kosher.

One reason given why this is so is that:

If a Succah is higher than 20 Amot (About 30 – 40 feet) one does not recognize that one is in a Succah – because the ceiling is too high to feel you are inside.

Another is that : One Must be in the shade of the Schach (the earth grown Succah roof), not in the shade of the walls. If it is higher than 20 Amot one is no longer in the shade of the Schach but in the shade or the walls.

A third is that : The Succah must be a temporary dwelling. If you build a succah higher than 20 Amot, you must use materials that will make it permanent. Temporary materials will not be able to withstand such a high structure.

Apparently we can learn three principles of Judaism from these reasons

If we take the wals to represent this materialistic world and the Schach (the natural, earth grown roof) to represent G-d’s contribution in our lives we can learn:

1. To live properly in this world, we are enjoined to recognize G-d’s hand in our lives on a daily basis. This is one of the first Halachot (Jewish Laws) in the Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch) – regarding Daily conduct of a Jew (Orach Haim). It says “Shiviti Hash-m leNegdi Tamid” / “I place G-d before me consistently” is a great principle in the Torah.

2. A second lesson – is to recognize the good that G-d provides for us daily. Appreciating all the good of G-d will allow us to develop a greater relationship with Him.

3. Thirdly, we learn that we are only on a temporary journey in this world. When we instill in ourselves that we will one day return to heaven – we will be more careful about our actions.

If we look at the good in every situation, our lives would change immensely for the better.

Grab a bottle from a baby and he will likely cry.

Why?

He loves his milk.

He didn’t know that the milk went sour.

But the loving parent knew. So he grabbed it away.

But the baby didn’t.

We just have to remember we have a loving father that watches over us.

We don’t always understand the why in life.

Suffice to know, that our loving father knows why what happens to us is good.

Clearing Away Animosity – More Serene Living

MP900387602It is after Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement.

Hopefully we were inscribed for a year of good and plenty.

If we did the three major things to nullify a decree – teshuva / repentance, tefillah / prayer, and tzedaka / charity – we likely will be inscribed for good.

G-d forgives transgressions against Him. But he cannot forgive for someone who was hurt by another. One must ask forgiveness from the person.

Asking for forgiveness clears the air and heart from guilt feelings.

At times we ourselves are hurt.

Someone stole from us. They acted inappropriately. They insulted us.

It is normal to feel animosity.

But the noble soul will try to overcome it and move on.

Removing Animosity

Here are some ways to remove feelings of animosity

– Think of what you gained by feeling animosity towards a particular person during the year. Did it make you a better person? Did you feel better? Did you become more noble? Apparently not.

By seeing that you gained not from the animosity. Or lost, because you lost the time that you could have done things more productive. Or that you lost by giving yourself a heart ache when the other person did not care, you can motivate yourself to neutralize these feelings of hate. And replace them with neutrality.

– Think of the acts against you as an atonement for previous wrongdoings. This can be used as a lesson to improve.

– Chalk the minor inconveniences and insults as the price of living a normal life.

– Think “my personal happiness is more important than having this animosity. Thus I forgive.”

– Forgive and Forget.

– If you feel someone is unjustly gaining, and thus you resent this – ask yourself “is this my problem?” if it is not move on. If it is do something tangible to right the wrong. If someone stole from you, bring them to a Beit Din – Jewish court of law and settle things. But to hate silently rarely rectifies things.

– Perhaps they received a position because they had qualities or prayers that were stronger than yours. You have other qualities that are greater than theirs that allows you to excel in your current position.

– Use this emotion as a springboard to improve yourself. If you are resentful because someone got a position instead of you. Work twice as hard, and perhaps you will also be promoted.

– Look at what G-d wants from you. G-d wants you to have a peaceful relationship with others.

– Pray to Hash-m / G-d that he will help you overcome your animosity and allow you to make peace.

– Turn Yourself into an ice-cube. Remove all feelings from your heart – good and bad. Flush them out. Then take back only the good feelings.

– Pinpoint a spiritual reason of why someone did bad to you. i.e. if someone stole from you, perhaps you stole from someone else. Correct that and forgive the other for teaching you to improve.

– The world is tailored for your good. Perhaps you needed that “tweak” to improve yourself, your life, or your outlook.

– G-d sometimes downgrades suffering for a person. Instead of having to lose 100k in the stock market, He might allow someone to insult you. See their act as a manner to spare you from a greater suffering.

– Or give them credit for teaching you a lesson in life. Perhaps you were a guarantor in a loan, and they defaulted, causing you to pay back the loan. Now you were taught a valuable lesson – be more careful before you guarantee a loan. Your $500 lesson, could have saved you from losing thousands of dollars that you would have guaranteed in another loan.

– Remember the commandment to “love your fellow like yourself.” There is also a commandment not to hate your fellow in your heart. (A book by the Chofetz Chaim – Called Ahavat Yisrael -“Loving Your Fellow Jew” – explains their importance.)

– Challenges may open the door for new opportunities. You lost a job because of someone else. You may find a job with greater potential.

– Chalk up their bad action to a bad day. Perhaps they had a rough day and they took it out on you. It is not you that is the problem, it was that you were the person who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

– Take a step back and see their wrongdoing in their perspective. Perhaps they have low self esteem, which caused them to act against you.

– “Let it go.” Don’t regurgitate bad feelings. Replace them with good feelings. Think of all the good things the person did for you.

– Think that when you feel feelings of animosity towards a person, you give them control of yourself. You don’t want to give so much control of yourself to another person.

– Confront person, privately at a calm time to explain that he or she hurt you. Ask them why they did the act that hurt you. Try to make amends.

– Misunderstandings occur. you might think that someone had a bad intention, when they did not. Maybe they took your coat because they thought it was theirs.

– Judge the average person’s actions favorably. (Those that are known to regularly do bad – you need not judge favorably. But you still must act respectfully towards them,)

– Believe in yourself. Think that you are a bigger person that you don’t stoop to their level.

– Try to pay bad back with good. When you do something good for another you feel better about that person.

– Or try to look at the good actions of the person to wash away the bad feelings.

– Remember that G-d does only good. Things that happen may occasional be uncomfortable, but ultimately they are for the good. So, unintentionally the person did you good. Think “Gam zu LeTova” – This is also for the good.

– Be creative in finding ways that what a person did to you came out or could come out for the good.

Although you can remove the bad feelings, it doesn’t mean you must be naïve. Learn from your past experiences, but remove the bad feelings from your heart.

All pains and challenges are learning experiences. They help us to grow. What one person uses as a reason to become discouraged, another uses to grow and become better.

This attitude makes life a life of continual improvement, growth and good.

See the good.

Believe in the good and it will be good.

Believe it will be good and it will be good. (Tzemach Tzedek)

The Commandment to Eat before Yom Kippur

VegetablesYom Kippur is the day of atonement. The Day when G-d seals the judgement made on Rosh Hashana. The Day Before Yom Kippur it is a Mitzvah / commandment to eat more.

The Ben Ish Hai says one should eat the day before Kippur the amount of two days worth of meals.

On Yom Kippur, of course we do not eat.

Starting from Candle lighting before nightfall until 3 stars are seen the next day we fast.

The day of atonement is a day for repentance. Several things we do are to refrain from:

Eating or drinking
Wearing Leather Shoes
Marital Relations
Washing
Applying oils or lotions

The reason why we fast is to focus on repentance and self- improvement. To introspect on what we can do better and what we must refrain from in the new year.

Yom Kippur our evil inclination is taken away for only this one day a year to allow us to become closer to the creator. The fasting is an opportunity to become angel-like and be able to remove all external influences to connect and create a deeper relationship with G-d, that we hope will continue the rest of the year.

Gmar Hatima Tova / A Good Finishing Seal for You and your Family.

Secrets of Positive Living – Overcoming Challenges with Ease

White and Pink RosesLife is a gift to appreciate and be grateful for daily.

Though we enjoy, we do encounter challenges on a daily basis.

How we deal with these challenges – our attitude – is correlated with our peace of mind in life.

You choose.

Does the slow check-out line ruin your day or give you more time to reflect on the good you have in life.

Does the negative comments by your spouse cause you to retaliate with insults or think of ways you can improve?

Does the flat tire cause you more stress or give you an opportunity to exercise by changing the tire?

Our attitude has a direct effect on our happiness.

Judaism teaches us secrets of Positive living.

G-d is Good

One Major principal is to recognize that G-d is good and does only good.

He does what is the best thing for you specifically. This is called – Hashgacha Pratit / Individual Supervision.

Internalizing this give you the proper attitude to see any situation in a good light.

And the force to overcome any challenge.

It takes time and practice to get there, but eventually you can.

Now that every Challenge is Tailored for your benefit – instead of getting upset you can use it to grow

This is one of the first messages of the Torah (in Parashat / Weekly Torah Reading Ha’Azinu read) after the New year – Learning Torah makes you grow.

Now that we know of G-d’s concern for each individual, each challenge can be used to propel us to a new level.

Instead of reacting immediately when dinner is not ready negatively when you arrive at home after a challenging day, React Positively.

It will give you some more time to wind down or spend time with the kids.

(It might be useful to eat a small snack before you get home as well.)

Instead of ranking out the cashier who over charged you for an item, take it as an opportunity to improve your tolerance for error.

Instead of using your speech to bring others down when talking about people, use it to bring yourself up by learning to talk with nobility.

Instead of your emotions prompting you to pray for someone who did you bad similar pain, use those emotions to pray fervently for your good.

For instance if someone stole $100 from you, you can pray that that person loses $100. Or you can pray that you will gain $1000.

Or you can think that that $100 was taken from you to spare you from a worse fate.

In life you have the choice to be positive or negative.

Torah teaches us – Live Positively.

Renewing Yourself – Breaking Out of the Comfort Zone

Half Coconut and Flower on Bamboo MatLife is such that people’s actions mimic physical phenomena .

Two such physical laws are the law of inertia and momentum.

Inertia – An object that is at rest will stay at rest, unless a force is applied to it.

Momentum – An Object that is moving will continue to move unless a force will go against it.

At Times we want to stay at rest and not move.

At Times we follow a path and continue that path until something stops us.

G-d sends us messages and puts blocks in our way for our good.

Thus when we are moving in a certain direction we continue that direction.

Power of Torah

The Torah is black fire written on white fire.

It’s power can cause a person to go from continuing their momentum in following after the masses – to reaching their potential.

Momentum, however, can be a figment of our imagination.

We think – ecause we were a certain way yesterday, we are trapped to follow the same route today.

Just like fire can transform still water into boiling water – The fire of Torah has the power to purify a person, and super charge themselves to become a totally new and better individual daily.

Nullifying Negative Forces

In quality assurance techniques there is a tool called “Force Field Analysis.”

We have forces moving us in one direction and forces moving us in another direction.

For instance let’s look at the forces affecting a person who wishes to move to Israel.:

Positive Forces vs. Negative Forces

Great Desire to Live in the Holy Land ——-> | <---------------Lack of Job
The Commandment to Live in Israel -----------> | <---------------Limited Personal Funds for Move
Friends and Family that Live there ----------> | <---------------New Environment
Desire to Be Among own people ---------------> | <---------------Have to Change Schools
The Great time for the Kids------------------> | <---------------Children have to adapt to new friends
The Beauty of the Land ----------------------> | <---------------Will leave family and friends

The Fire of happiness and of Torah, which go together, can burn the negative forces that stop a person from advancing. Believing in your tremendous potential and the greatness of the Torah can propel you to new heights daily.

How?

Either – Start with one step that may feel a little uncomfortable that you know is right in your heart and proceed onward. (Obviously assure yourself that the path is good to begin with)

Or Just Jump full force into a new routine and deal with the negative forces later. (Obviously use prudence)

Belief in G-d and in yourself will help you to transform yourself to the person you ultimately want to be and achieve the goals you wish to achieve..

People who go out of their comfort zone are usually more success than others.

You can do it.

Rosh Hashanah – Beginning Life Anew Daily

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

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

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

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

The first year of marriage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everybody can use appreciation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Releasing our Baggage from the Past

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

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

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

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

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

Establishing a Connection with G-d. A Primer.

Red Hibiscus Flower
G-d made a fascinating world.

Nature

All in nature is needed.

The Bees to pollinate the flowers.

Trees for wood.

Metal for objects.

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

Radio waves for cell phones.

Flowers for beauty.

All is to serve the crown of creation, man.

Obviously, we must treat nature with respect.

And appreciate it.

Enjoy.

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

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

He wants us to enjoy and appreciate.

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

Eating Kosher

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

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

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

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

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

People who Need People

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

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

Appreciation

So what does G-d ask? Appreciation.

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

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

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

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

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

A rabbi asked a question.

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

One answered – Food.

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

One answered, water.

A person can live without water for a few days.

One said air.

A person can hold their breath.

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

Life.

Enjoy it and Appreciate it.

Good Signs for the New Jewish Year

MP900309706(1)Dip the Apple in the Honey.

Make a Beracha (Blessing) Loud and Clear.

Shana Tova u Metuka.

Have a Good and Sweet Year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jewish Laws on Symbolic Foods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Order of the Symbolic Foods of Rosh Hashanah

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

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

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

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

Some Moroccans Add Optional Foods like Anise Seeds and Fig

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

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

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

Starting the Year with Happiness

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

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

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

Foods to Avoid

Thus below is humor for the new year.

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

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

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

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

MP900390499You are Unique.

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

In looks or in thoughts or in deeds.

G-d made it that way.

Torah says:

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

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

G-d Loves You

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

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

G-d loves them too.

A Better You

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

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

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

The Right Path to Kindness.

Let’s take kindness.

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

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

Giving a person illegal drugs can be cruel.

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

Water of Torah

The Torah is like rain.

It will help you bring out your best.

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

Rain doesn’t change a flower.

It just brings out its true potential.