What Makes a Child More Resilient? Yetziat Mitzrayim / the Exodus from Egypt

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Someone told me of a podcast they heard on Resilience.

What allows a person to become resilient. Among other things – the author of an article on the subject mentioned – that if a child learns of family member’s past, their challenges, their triumphs, their difficulties, their jobs etc. the person apparently learns to be more resilient. It makes sense. If a family member encountered a difficult situation and overcame it, I can too. If they made it through tough times, I come from the same blood and also have it in me.

If they encountered a road block, i am not the only one in that situation. Other people are in the same boat and just like they eventually jumped over it, I can too.

G-d showed His Kind Hand in someone else’s life, He will also help me.

Hearing stories of family, of history of our people apparently transmits the same inner strength. It’s not just learning history – it’s transmitting values, valor and inner strength.

Every year, on Pesach / Passover, we tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. It not only gives us national unity in experiencing a common suffering that we overcame – but it transmits the power to overcome struggles. The power of resilience.

Our Shabbat. We eat together. Connect. Sing. Share stories & divrei Torah. The eating together helps us connect. We learn from each other and become stronger to face the week ahead.

 

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20 questions that can help you to evaluate how much your children know about you were formulated by Dr. Marshall Duke and Dr. Robyn Fivush. They created the “Do You Know?” scale in 2001 to ask children questions about their family in order to test the hypothesis that children who know more about their families are more resilient and can handle challenges better than children who have limited knowledge about their families.

The questions, designed to ask children things they would not know directly, are as follows:

1. Do you know how your parents met?
2. Do you know where your mother grew up?
3. Do you know where your father grew up?
4. Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up?
5. Do you know where some of your grandparents met?
6. Do you know where your parents were married?
7. Do you know what went on when you were being born?
8. Do you know the source of your name?
9. Do you know some things about what happened when your brothers or sisters were being born?
10. Do you know which person in your family you look most like?
11. Do you know which person in the family you act most like?
12. Do you know some of the illnesses and injuries that your parents experienced when they were younger?
13. Do you know some of the lessons that your parents learned from good or bad experiences?
14. Do you know some things that happened to your mom or dad when they were in school?
15. Do you know the national background of your family (such as English, German, Russian, etc)?
16. Do you know some of the jobs that your parents had when they were young?
17. Do you know some awards that your parents received when they were young?
18. Do you know the names of the schools that your mom went to?
19. Do you know the names of the schools that your dad went to?
20. Do you know about a relative whose face “froze” in a grumpy position because he or she did not smile enough?

Learning to Give Compliments from a Rabbi

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A New Book by Artscroll Publishers, “Yedidi – Rabbi Shmuel Berkovicz, whose warmth and caring inspired people to strive for greatness by Rabbi Yechiel Spero” is about a Congregation Rabbi that lead with love.

Recently, in the Weekly Mesorah Heritage Foundation’s Torah pamphlet called “AT THE ARTSCROLL SHABBOS TABLE – WEEKLY INSPIRATION AND INSIGHT ADAPTED FROM CLASSIC ARTSCROLL TITLES” Acharei Mos / פרשת אחרי מות / כייט ניסן תשפייב / 5782 / APRIL 30, 2022 / ISSUE #88 – it talks of his all compassing love for others.

Here is a quote I found particularly Helpful in the quest to make others feel good.

It Doesn’t Cost Money
Shlomo Hamelech / King Solomon teaches (Mishlei / Proverbs 25:11), “Tapuchei zahav be’maskiyos kasef davar davur al ofnav” Like golden apples carved on silver plates, so is a word spoken in its proper place.” Rabbi Berkovicz was the master of saying the right thing, at the right time, in the right place. He understood the power of a compliment and did not hold back. No one was too smart or too simple, too old or too young, too chashuv or too insignificant for a compliment from Reb Shmuel. As he always said, “Es kost nisht kein gelt. It doesn’t cost money to make someone feel good!”

‘The Exiting from Egypt’ or ‘The Taking Out Egypt’ – Breaking a Mentality or Mindset

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The commonly accepted translation of the Hebrew words Yetziat Mitzrayim – is ‘The Exiting from Egypt’. But let’s analyze a bit. Yetziah means ‘going out’. To make it ‘the going out of‘ we replace the letter Hei with a Tav. It thus becomes ‘The Going out of’ Mitzrayim means Egypt. The Going out of Egypt. Thus it could mean people are going out of Egypt or Egypt is going out of people.

The Jews were in Egypt for 210 years. They were subjected to slavery, torture, killing of babies, psychological torment and cruel and unusual punishment. They were about to adopt a “Slave Mentality” – to save the Jews from this Mentality – Hash-m had to take them out of Egypt within 18 minutes. They were freed and Left just in time to escape that mentality.

It took them 40 years of wandering in the desert to remove this mentality properly.

They became the servants of Hash-m / G-d – when they accepted the Torah about 50 days after leaving Egypt.

If so when were they ever free? They went from being servants to the Pharaoh to the Servants of G-d.

The Answer: By the Jews accepting the Yolk of Hash-m and to Observe the Torah – that is what gave them freedom. A person can by physically free – yet a servant to their desires, temptation, habits, mindset, mentality. Torah Observance breaks all those shackles.

A person might think themselves completely free or independent but they are still the subject of their society, their upbringing, and the media they consult.

Hash-m is the only completely independent Being. His commands are the best possible commands that a person can follow. These commands make a person free. If a person follows their desires – they are a servant of their desires.

Once a person, after the army, decided to go tour the Amazon forest. He was confident – “I don’t need a guide – I hiked many forests and was able to navigate out of them.” He entered the forest and lost his way. He was lost for about 2 weeks searching for the exit. He met an old man. He asked him the way out. The man replied “I have been here for 20 years and can’t tell you the way out – but I can tell you which ways not to go. Going this and this way will bring you to a dead end. Going this way you are stopped by a river.” – The young man was completely free to do what he wanted – yet he was a prisoner of the forest.

Having the directions of the old man helped him to be slightly more free because he had more hope of getting out.

Removing the ‘Egypt’ from us

A person can break a mentality. A person can gain confidence. A person can change – but they need directions. The directions of the Torah helps him to free himself.

Let’s say a person is overweight – he or she is being addicted to food. So going on a diet will help them. But some go too far and become anorexic – that they are psychologically convinced to remain thin. So they are also controlled by their mindset of being thin. (Obviously both should seek proper help).

The Torah mentality is to follow the middle path. The Middle path is complete. This is stated by the Rambam – Maimonides in His Mishne Torah – on Human Dispositions.

As for us, we are charged to walk in these middle-paths, which are the good and straight paths, even as it is said: “And thou shalt walk in His ways” (Deut. 28 9).

Torah is the word of Hash-m / G-d who wants the complete best for us. Following his ways does not only allow us to live a better life – but allows us to be free – like it says in Pirkei Avot 6:1:

“And the tablets were the work of G-d and the writing was the writing of G-d, engraved (charuth) upon the tablets.” Read it not “charuth,” but “cheiruth” (freedom), for no one is free but him who studies Torah. For whoever studies Torah is exalted, as it is written (Numbers 21:19): “And from Matanah (the gift [of Torah]), Nachliel (‘the inheritance of the L rd’); and from Nachliel, Bamoth (‘the high mount’).”

The Smart Phone & Tolerance – Where Are You Holding Spiritually?

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In a Beit Midrash / house of Torah study in Brooklyn, someone asked me to use my phone. I said “sure”. When I pulled out a Smartphone – he said “Oh, no thank you.” I wanted to help him but he didn’t want to use a Smartphone – because it is an object of temptation and wasting time. I respected him for that. I now use a flip phone for personal use.

Someone I know stopped using a Smartphone. His rabbi told him to stop. He listened. Once a Jew with a knitted Kippah in Israel asked him to take a picture of him with his smartphone. The young man replied in a nice way “sorry, I try to stay away from smartphones.” The man replied in Hebrew “Ashreicha” / “Happy are you” [meaning that’s a great thing].

Others would not react so kindly. The question is why do we react a particular way to people with higher Torah standard than us? Some react to one who proposed something that is above their standards by accepting, being positively envious and aspiring to also do the same. Others may react by yelling and insulting the person. It happened to me several times.

Can You Handle Truth?

Knowing how we would react to higher Torah standards indicates what spiritual level we are on. Are we envious of people with higher spiritual Torah aspirations in a positive way – by wanting to emulate them now or in the future or envious in a negative sense – by degrading or looking down upon them?

What is Our Level of Spiritual Aspirations?

Torah is truth. Torah is Hash-m’s / G-d’s word. G-d knows all and does only good. We are limited beings. Our objective is to emulate the kindness of G-d. Thus it is important to know where are we holding spiritually. 

So – it is helpful to ask ourselves are we willing to go all out to do the utmost to accept those who have higher Torah standards or are we going to put the others down because we feel uncomfortable that we are not on their level? Or worse – G-d forbid – change what we think the Torah says because we want to feel comfortable?

I once had a conversation with someone in college – a secular Jew. I explained that it is better to accept G-d’s word – the Torah and say – I accept that the Torah is G-d’s word – but I am currently not on the level – than to say I am on the level – and  think of rejecting the Torah or try to change what they think that the Torah says.

It’s a challenge. But this is true Tolerance – to accept the people’s actions – whose actions are on a higher level than yours. That’s true Tolerance. Even greater is wishing & aspiring to also be on that higher level.

On the negative side – Tolerance is not accepting the actions of others that go against Torah. That is decadence. Real Tolerance is being respectful to others regardless of what they do. That does not mean to condone their actions. Hold people accountable for their actions but act respectful when dealing with them.

Deep down a person wants to do good. Every Jew has a spark of the Divinely given soul that wants do do the Will of G-d. The question is how will the situation that causes spiritual cognitive dissonance be expressed emotionally? Positively or negatively. A person can always grow. At times a person can react negatively at first way and after learning the importance of the mitzvah will change and react positively. This happens through learning works of mussar / Jewish Ethics and halacha / Jewish Law.

The Torah is the divine work that G-d / Hash-m gave the Jews to become closer to Him. A person who wants to become closer to Hash-m tries to find ways to become closer – by accepting Mitzvot. Even greater is trying to bring other’s closer to Hash-m. Like it says in Pirkei Avot  / Ethics of the Fathers 1:12

“Love Peace & Pursue Peace – Love the creations and draw them closer to Torah.”

In the Sefer / Book “Or La’amim / A Light unto the Nations” (p. 17) Rabbi Yoel Schwartz explains Bringing people closer to Torah & Hashem is a Mitzvah D’Oraita (A Torah Based Commandment). He brings accountability of Jewish people to teach the 7 Noahide commandments to all people in  Midrash Vayikra Rabba 6:5 (on Leviticus 5:1 & Deut 4:39) and the Positive Commandment to do so in Rambam (Maimonides) in his “Book of Commandments” (Positive Comandment 3) quoting Sifri Devarim 32:2

explaining the Verse in the Shema Yisrael:

You are to love Adonoy, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your possessions. (Devarim / Deut 6:5)

 

“We have already explained that this commandment (love of Hash-m/ G-d (Devarim 6:5)) involves calling upon all mankind to worship Him and to believe in Him”

The Prince’s Gift

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There was once a king. Getting older, he realized that one day he had to give over his kingdom to his successor, his son. After educating him in history, science, music, math and aspects of being a king he called in his son. ” My dear son , one day you will be king. As a king one must understand the needs of his people. Till now we gave you the best formal education. Now we want to send you out into the world to learn how to deal with all kinds of people. For one year you will travel from place to place with an assistant to go about your learning of how to deal with people. I just ask from you that you bring me a souvenir which – could be an object or a piece of information – as a momento of your voyage.”

The next day The Prince and his assistant set out to travel throughout the country. They met many people & discovered many places. Near the end of their voyage they realized soon they had to return the to the Palace and had still not found a souvenir to bring back to the king.

The prince said to his assistant “Let’s go to this County Fair and see if we can find something worthwhile to buy for the king.” They went to the fair and saw a merchant selling jewelry. The jewelry caught the prince’s eye. He said this is a great gift for the king. They asked Jeweler how much it cost. The Jeweler replied 18000 rubles. He was very interested and told his assistant quietly we have 20 thousand rubles. Let’s buy this jewelry for the king. His assistance replied “We can’t just buy jewelry without determining if it is authentic.” They asked around if there was an independent jeweler in the town.

They found that there was no Jeweler but someone mentioned that there was a very wise rabbi that’s could possibly help them. They asked where could they find him. People directed them to his house. They asked where they could find the rabbi – they had an important question for him. She said “the governor of this town does not like the Jews – so he finds false accusations to keep the rabbi in jail. The rabbi is now in jail on a false accusation.”

The prince and his assistant go to the jail hand speak with the Warden – ” we need to talk with this rabbi” they show that they are from the palace and the warden lets the rabbi out. They bring the rabbi to the jeweler. They ask him “Do you know anything about jewelry?” the Rabbi says a little bit. “Can you tell us if this jewelry is real?”

The rabbi took the jewelry and threw it on the floor. The jewels that appeared to be diamonds shattered into pieces. The rabbi said obviously these are not real diamonds otherwise they would not have broken.

The assistant said “Thank you so much. You saved us thousands of rubles.” The prince said “very good. send him back to jail.”

They were back to square one. They had to find a gift for the king. They found at the fair a beautiful White Arabian horse for sale. They asked the merchant the price of the horse. He replied 15000 rubles. The prince was excited to buy the horse. His assistant reason him and said we have to see if this is a worthwhile purchase. They did not find an expert in horses in the town. They decided to bring back the rabbi to validate the sale.

They brought back the rabbi. They asked “Does the rabbi know how to evaluate a horse?” He said “Not particularly, but it would make sense for someone to ride the horse before purchasing it.”

The prince told the merchant get on the horse and to ride it before him. The merchant hesitated but the prince was adamant. When he got up on the horse it was running wild, bucking up and down and standing up. He threw the merchant onto the fence. The merchant was badly bruised. The assistant was shaken that this could have happened to the king had they given the horse to the king.

The assistant thanked the rabbi very much. The prince said “okay. send him back to the prison.”

The prince was worried because he did not have a gift to take back to the king. He remembered that he could bring the king an astounding piece of information. He told this to the assistant. The assistant said “Let’s ask the rabbi. He is very wise. He can tell us astounding information.”

They went to the rabbi, asking him for information to bring back to the king. The rabbi responded – “I have astounding information but I can only tell it to the prince alone.” The assistant was reluctant, but the prince assured him that he could trust the old rabbi to stay alone with him.

Alone, the rabbi approached the prince and whispered in his ear. “Do not be shocked. The astounding information I have to tell you is that ‘you are not the actual son of the king.'” The prince was shaken. I didn’t know how to take this information.

The assistant asked him what did the rabbi tell you? The prince could not reveal it to him. He was in a rush to get back to the Palace. At the palace they made a grand reception for the return of the prince. After the festivities – the king had a private conversation with the prince. He asked him what is the souvenir you brought me? The prince was still shaking. He said “I met a rabbi and he told me that I I’m not your real son.”

The King was astounded. The prince demanded that the king tell him the truth. The King admitted that he was not his real son but an adopted son. the king didn’t know how this information leaked out. No one knew is this Secret.

They called the Rabbi and the King asked – “How is it that you knew that my son was not my real son?” The Rabbi replied “When your son called me for help to select a gift for you – the first time I saved him thousands of Rubles – afterwards he threw me back in prison. The second time I saved him from possibly causing the King to be thrown off a wild horse – afterwards he threw me back in prison. A person who has Royal blood has feelings of Gratitude towards others. He should have freed me from prison out of gratitude. The fact he did not,  I determined he was not your real son.”

Gratitude is a sign of nobility. Gratitude to family. Gratitude to others. Gratitude to G-d.

– A Story from the Riznitzer Rebbe

His Soul is Bound with His Soul – How to Connect with People in Judaism

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Yehuda was pleading before the ruler of Egypt (Parasha Vayigash). Tzafenat Paneach (who was actually Yehuda’s Brother Yosef) wanted to take Yehuda’s brother, Binyamin, as a slave. Yehuda, son of Leah, was ready to give his life in this world and the next to save his brother from same father – Yaakov / Jacob – but another mother – Rachel. He told the ruler – you cannot take my brother. If you do so his elderly father will be brought down to the grave – he says:

And now, when I come to your servant, my father, and the lad is not with us; . (Bereshit 44:30)

The Torah tells you the essence of all. Here the Torah teaches the definition of Love. The text says in Hebrew “Ve Nafsho Keshura BeNafsho” – “and his soul is connected with his soul.” Targum Yonathan (the Aramaic translation of the Torah) translates Keshura – bound or connected as haviva – beloved. Meaning he translates that “And His Soul is Beloved like His Soul”

Thus Love is equated to connection.

Rabbi Nechemia Grama spoke about the subject of Connecting with children entitled – Ve Nafsho Keshura BeNafsho.

He asked for a one word definition of love. The response was “Connection.” He made a distinction between fulfilling a child’s physical needs – and the child’s soul’s needs.

He asked children What is the difference between their mother and their live in cleaning lady?

One child said “The cleaning lady gets paid to clean the house. My mother doesn’t”

Another “You can fire the cleaning lady – you can’t fire my mother.”

The point is that – children need to feel the relationship.

If a child that thinks his mother is an alternate cleaning lady – it may mean that his mother (or father) may be lacking in the connection department. A child should know and feel that their parents love them.

Soul Connection

When we make a physical connection between objects there are two parts. When we connect with another person – what are we connecting with? We are connecting one soul with another soul.

One Question he asked was “Why does a child do nothing significant in the first 5 years of life?” You feed them, you carry them, you play with them – but they accomplish little or nothing. He explained that one reason is to give a parent opportunities to connect with the child those 5 years.

Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe says a 3 month child can distinguish between a smiling look and angry look. Who knows what is more important to a child – is it the food that you give to them or the orat hapanim (illumination of the face) – connection that you give to them. it is clear a child that grows without the orot hapanim – is like a plant without sunlight.

Is Connection more important than food?

He told a story of children survivors after Holocaust. In the freedom camps there were many starving children standing on a long line. One American soldier was giving out chocolate to children. Kids waited patiently in line for their portion of chocolate.
Another soldier saw a kid passing, called him over to him and gave them a hug. The entire line of children went off the chocolate line and went on the hugging line.

How to connect

The rabbi mentioned that it is not the activity that causes connection. There are some activities that are more apt to cause connections – but it is not the activity – it is the interaction. Thus any activity can be used to create a connection.

He mentioned that a woman used to put the coat on her child just like she would put it on a coat rack. Then she started using the opportunity to connect with her child.

Suffering Loneliness

A person can be surrounded by people but still feel lonely or empty. The lack of connection causes loneliness or emptiness.

Certain problems can be caused by this lack of connection. He mentioned fear, lack of self esteem, lack of self-value, lack of sense of security, lack of calmness, and other concerns.

Connection Benefits

A child that is connected will want to be an eved hashem / Servant of G-d. How do we develop a ratzon / will to be an eved hashem? Rabbi Chaim Friedlander explains how to achieve it – Only if we can make a kesher hanafshi / Soul Connection. The kesher hanafshi with rebbi – will make a person want to learn. The parent who has a connection – the child will naturally want to make parent happy.

An Exchange between a Single & Jewish Spiritual Leader on Dating

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An Exchange between a Single & Jewish Spiritual Leader

Single: Hi. I am single looking for… for marriage. I have searched but not yet found a mate suitable to what I am looking for.

Rav: I understand your point. I think it is good for you to have a rabbi you trust to guide your decisions in dating. we have a rabbi we consult for our daughters dating decisions. we sometimes have certain requirements for boys and he gives us daat torah / the point of view of what the Torah thinks.

My friend was reluctant to meet a someone from your area because they want someone more local. but it’s my opinion that a person might try to move a bit out of their comfort zone if it is a good opportunity. and especially since time is ticking. I am not stuck on them for you – but they are a very nice person. it seems like both of you are looking for someone very sweet. they are very sweet. I think the other factors are secondary.

My wife didn’t want to marry an American boy and I am about 11 years older. but bh / thank G-d we made it work.

Wishing you lots of hatzalcha / success to find the right person for you. you can check out a video by Jack Cohen on torahanytime.com – called “Fast track to marriage”. It was recorded at our synagogue. my site jerusalemlife.com has also advice for singles.

Single: I thank you for your concern and for the proposal – but the person is out of my search range.

Rav: I hope all is well . my point is not to push you for any particular person. my point is that now a days it is more challenging to find a mate.** so all reasonable kosher avenues and resources should be used like shadchanim / matchmakers, frum (orthodox Jewish) dating coaches, research on the person through references, prayer, segulas and rabbis for daat torah. sometimes their experiences and knowledge can open up opportunities to you that you might not have considered. and guide you in the right way. a good shadchan is not there just to suggest a potential mate, but to have your interest as a priority to help make a promising shidduch work or deter you from someone not of your caliber.

Rav: f you found the perfect match but they were 41 or 42, would you reject them for a date? the rabbi you choose can help you answer questions of the such.

Rav: I thought of a segulah – rabbi yonathan ben uziel was a Tanna- tremendous sage from times of mishna. he was a talmid of the great sage Hillel. the Roman’s buried him in a deep valley called Amuka in Israel. he promised anyone who would visit his kever – grave he would pray for them that they would meet their soul mate within a year. many years ago when single I did so and met my wife within a year.

now that borders are closed – this is challenging. but it might be worthwhile to light a candle in his memory and pray to Hashem – OH Hashem in the merit of rabbi yonathan ben uziel help me to find my soul mate. it is important to do this for 40 days consecutively. try it. let me know if it works.


**(I heard Hashem is doing this so people will appreciate the mate once married- that they will not divorce so easily when they recognize the effort they made to finally find a mate).

Single: Hash-m / G-d is in control. I just have to expand my area of search. I don’t have to reduce my standards.

Rav: You are right – Hashem is in control. we have to just make our effort. but we also follow the will of Hashem by asking the rabbis.
my main point remains- get a rabbi you trust to get advice from a Torah perspective, get a good shadchan, if you have to get a good frum dating coach. it’s very important to follow daat torah – not just your preferences. your rabbi will be able to guide you on what are reasonable and proper requirements and what are not.

also I recommend to many singles to reinforce themselves in Torah & mitzvot to get a higher caliber mate.

someone said a person should list ten things they want from a mate and prioritize them. If you find the top 5 then they are potentially a good dating prospect.

call the rabbis in the synagogues in your area to see if you find someone that meets your requirements.

Trust in G-d Fear Not

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My friend Avner told me when a person trusts in the stock market – if the stock goes up he is happy. If it goes down – he is not. One who trusts in G-d – whether the market goes up or down – he is happy because he knows that Hash-m is doing all for the good.

When a person trusts the media – if they hear good things they are happy. If they hear bad – they are not. If they hear good statistics of covid they are happy. If they hear bad statistics – they are not.

Unfortunately – I heard that in Japan more people died from fear of covid than covid itself.

Trust in Hash-m – live a happy life – not a fearful one.

Those who fear Hashem, Have faith in Hashem! He is their helper and guardian. (Psalms / Tehillim 115:11.)

What Children Want Most from Parents

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Rav Shimshon Rephael Hirsch was a rabbi in Europe about 200 years ago. Born in 1808 – he explained Judaism with a point to inspire the intellectual Jewish populace. He wrote that the main thing that a child wants from parents is Love. “The Love that you give to the child is greater to the child than any gift in the world you can give them.” When someone asks the child – does your father (or mother) love you? their answer should be a sure answer – “of course”.

This lesson does not only apply to children but to students, friends, spouses and oneself.

I heard this shiur / lecture from a live broadcast from a The Beit Knesset Moshayov from Yesterday (in Hebrew).

What is love?

To understand how to educate children – it is not enough to “Just love them” but to understand what love really is. Love means giving for the interest of the child – not for our personal interests. People err. They think if I buy them a toy, a game – that expresses my love. It does but is that what the child wants? Apparently – they would rather a hug than a roller coaster ride. They would rather quality time than an expensive vacation. They would rather a kiss on the cheek – than a Play station.

I was listening to a rabbi – he told two stories. One child on Passover – found the Afikomen / the piece of Matza that is hidden by some families at the Passover seder. The child that finds it can choose their prize. Some ask for toys, games, Jewish books and the like. This child asked for a kiss on the cheek from the father.

Affection is important – but the way that the child wants it – not the way that we may want to give it. A child understands more than we think. They know when you hand them a video – you’re basically telling them – I have more important things to do.

So how can we bond with children?

The Shabbat Table

When the family enjoys the Shabbat meals together – it is a great way to bond. We talk with children. We give them attention. We sing together – interact together – learn together – eat together and develop as a person. We say words of Torah and encourage to do the same.

No Substitute for Spiritual Bonding

Some think that taking the kid to the local park is a substitute. Truthfully – in the park a parent sits on the bench and the kid disappears with their friends until it is time to leave. Where is the bonding? Take them to a baseball game? OK. We watch grown men throwing a ball around. What about watching TV? The TV is the center of attention – the child is just a spectator – secondary to what appears on the screen. Give them a cell phone? A nice way of saying occupy yourself with this while I carry on my own life. Go shopping together? the focus is on the buying – not on the kid.

The Torah School

Many Jewish parents send their children to public school. I myself went to one. One of the the main qualms of parents is – Jewish Day school costs money. OK. But did they ask themselves – what is the best interest for my child’s emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical development. A public school only teaches secular knowledge. A Torah Day school teaches secular knowledge and how to be a beautiful functioning person that wants to help society and be a good person deep down.

The Kiss of Life

A five year old child was wetting their bed. The parents tried giving him gifts to motivate him to not do so. They asked psychologists. Talked with him. Nothing worked. One rabbi heard the problem and said perhaps the kid lacks affection from the parents. He instructed them to spend time with him at night, read him the Shema Yisrael before sleeping and give him a goodnight kiss. Within the week that they started – they solved the bed wetting problem.

Lech Neche et HaAm – Go and Speak nicely with the people

Menashe Yeshoshua – speaking on on Education in his sefer / book Shaarei Hamishkan writes on the verse “Go and speak calmly with the people.” When G-d spoke to Moses – he said Go and speak calmly with the people. The Nursing woman speaks with baby softly. This is the way we are to speak with the child.When we want to correct the child we correct the improper action – but the love should remain. We don’t say you are the problem. We do not say “You are selfish!” We try to instruct them on being more selfless – by being selfless ourselves and the like.

When the Jewish people rebelled – Moses asks G-d “Am I their father that I should calmly guide them like a nursing woman to the nursing baby?”  This is teaching us that the parents – all have the ability to calmly educate the child. G-d gave us this ability. We are to believe in ourselves and in Hash-m / G-d that He gave us the ability to do so and will help us to get the proper results.

Spiritual Block? Try This

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Over 20 years ago, I was learning with a rabbi. He told the following story. A woman who apparently was following his lectures asked him – “I want to become more spiritual. I want to follow Judaism and Torah – but I just can’t get myself to do it. I don’t understand the Mitzvot – even if you explain them.”

The Rabbi replied “Try eating Kosher food for a month and you might better understand the Mitzvot.”

She had to go through a detox period. Just like one has to detox for overcoming alcohol addiction – they do also for spiritual growth. Part of the process is start eating Kosher, guarding the eyes, removing oneself from impure thoughts and acts. Then a person can become a better receptacle for spiritual growth through Torah.

I didn’t quite understand the connection between understanding Mitzvot and Eating Kosher. Recently I came upon a Sefer / Book By Rabbi Matityahu Glazer – On Repentance and Hebrew Letters called THE PREREQUISITES FOR REPENTANCE
REPENTANCE IN WORDS AND LETTERS.

Hebrew letters have significance – in that the Hebrew word defines their essence of the object. The word for “sin” in Hebrew is Het / Sin / חטא – Het, Tet, Alef.

REPENTANCE IN WORDS AND LETTERS
THE NEGATIVE EFFECT OF SIN
…This comes to teach us that the destructive power of the סתן (Satan) creates a “screen” ( מסך ) which separates and “locks out” (נעל) the Divine light.
מ precedes נ
ס precedes ע
ך precedes ל

 

The numerical value of the words פגם [imperfection – (in matters of holiness – especially promiscuity)] and מגף (plague) is 123 (80 + 3 + 40), which is the same as נגע (nega, plague: 50 + 3 + 70) and teaches us about the common source of these words, which is בלע (bela, corruption: 2 + 30 + 70).

 

מגף (magaf) is related to מגפה (magaifa, plague),the letter ג and פ combining to form the word גוף (goof, body) and showing that he comes as a result of overindulgence in the material world.

 

The word אלף (alef. instruction or learning the same as the name of the letter א) refers to an אולפן תורה (oolpan Torah, “study of Torah”), the acquisition of Divine wisdom, as is written in the book of Job (13:33): אאלפך חכמה (a’alfecha chochma ; “I will
teach you wisdom”). Through אולפן תורה , the study of Torah, a person merits the revelation of the Divine light of א, for the light of the Torah has the ability to penetrate the barriers created by sin. From here one learns that the repentant should involve
himself in אולפן תורה as much as possible. Rabbeinu Yona in “The Foundation of Repentance” (“Yesod Hat’shoova” found in Gates of Repentance)
teaches that for one who is accustomed to learn one page of Torah, a proper repentance should include learning two pages of Torah.

 

The opening of the letter ח (chet ) is directed downwards, which symbolizes the sinner whose tendencies and desires are also directed “downwards,” that is, to his materialistic and baser nature. Opposed to this is the letter ה (hai )-of the same shape but with an opening at the top, hinting to higher spiritual aspirations. Therefore, if a person
blocks his spiritual striving and closes the upper opening of the ה, it becomes a ח (chet , sin).

 

The difference can be clearly seen in the words חמץ (chametz ) and מצה (matza ). חמץ, the leavened food forbidden to eat or even possess during the Pesach festival, is a symbol of the Evil Inclination (it “fills” with a void and emptiness-like the yeast that
puffs up dough, makes it rise and expand but essentially adds nothing). The word מצה (matza, unleavened bread), on the other hand, is the symbol of the Good Inclination. The only difference in the letters of these two words is the “window of repentance”- the slight opening at the top of the ה.

 

ונטמתם בם

“That you should be defiled thereby,” referring mainly to forbidden food that defiles the
soul of man. One of the most impure foods is the חזיר (chazeer , pig), equal to 225 (8 + 7 + 10 +200) as is the word op (kleepa , shell; 100 + 30 + 10 + 80 + 5).

 

טמא Impurity is the Blockage of the Spiritual. טמא (tameh , impure) has the same letters as אטם (otem obstruction). Impurity causes a general breakdown of the spiritual structure of a person. Just as an אטם in the body is a barrier that prevents the
flow of blood to the heart, so too does impurity ( טומאה, tooma ) prevent spiritual abundance and existence from reaching the heart and brain of a person. The evil impurity caused by an עברה (aveira transgression) can be clearly seen in its letters רע בה (ra-ba, “evil in it”). This is what our Sages mean when they say (Yoma 39a): עברה מטמטמת לבו של אדם
– “Sin dulls the heart of man.” Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler (Michtav M’Eliyahu ) writes: “The sin itself is the dullness-the desire for and cleaving to the sin does not allow a person to find something to oppose it.”

The Power of Humility as a Prerequisite for Overcoming One’s Sins.

 

חטא  (chet, an unintentional sin) involves a lack of thought at the time of the transgression. When one’s mind-the אלף ( א , alef )-is “plastered over” (טח tach ), the result is sin, חטא. Intentional sins (עוונות) comprise -עוות – נ (avoot noon, “the distortion or corruption of the letter נ, which represents understanding). These letters also allude to the power of thought and purity (עיון, eeyoon ), which
is connected to the Fifty (נ = 50) Gates of Impurity  and Understanding,

A pleasant eye”) עין נוה is ( ענוה )The source of humility”

 

The Chida says that the power of humility is so great that it can mend one’s sins; the letters of ענוה (anava , humility) are the same as those of the word העון 190 (ha’avon, the sin). As our Sages say (Rosh Hashana 17a) כל המעביר על מדותיו מעבירין לו על כל ; “Whoever overcomes his feelings, all his sins are passed over.”

 

Repentance out of humility and love for G-d changes negative actions into positive ones. This amazing concept is unique to Torah thought: not only is a person capable of wiping the slate clean, he also has the ability to turn the negativity he has caused in the world into a positive force.

טמא – tameh is impurity. The letters also spell – Alef, Tet, and a Mem – spell Atum – which means blocked or clogged. If a person removes themselves from transgression – they will open up this blockage of the Spiritual.

Green Chiretta vs. Covid

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Saw this Article in Mishpacha Jr. Guard Your Soul.

Convicts Fight Covid in-Thailand

  • Sivi Sekula

Prisoners in Thailand are Producing an herbal remedy to help their fellow convicts fight COVID-19. Green chiretta. also known as “bitter herbs” is a plant that
has been grown in Asia for centuries for its medicinal properties. All parts of the plant are used to treat various ailments. The leaf of the plant is a poplar herbal remedy for fevers, coughing, and infectious diseases A substance in the plant called andrographolide helps prevent the spread of viruses. At the start of the pandemic, green chiretta was distributed in prisons as an emergency measure until a proper cure could be found. The unintended trial of green chiretta among inmates proved very successful. Out of 11,300 inmates treated With green chiretta 99.02% recovered. In July, the Thai government authorized the use of chiretta to treat mild and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19. Thailands prisons are notoriously overcrowded, and social distancing is practically impossible; one-quarter of The prisoners caught COVID-19 in just six months. Now, prisoners are growing and harvesting green chiretta in fields near their prisons. The leaves are tied, ground, and packaged into capsules, which are then sent to prisons across the country. •

Shana Tova U Metukah – A Good and Sweet Year

The way something starts sets the tone for the continuation. Thus we make signs to eat in the Rosh Hashana Seder.

Once someone proposed a shidduch- match to a young bachur – Torah learner. He said – “ask me after Rosh Hashana – the new year. Because I didn’t pray to Hashem for a good shidduch last Rosh Hashana. I will pray on the new year so the prayer will be fulfilled and have an effect on the shidduch. “

Shana Tova.

When Your Child Stays Home from School – an Opportunity to Connect

The home-office concept was introduced to me many years ago when personal computers were just lads. The popular computers of those days were the trs-80, the Apple II plus, and IBM PC. I think I even subscribed to a magazine on the subject.

People working from home have challenges – like motivating oneself, being alone, and dealing with distractions like kid interruptions.

What to do when you have to take care of your child and you have work piled up to the ceiling?

Take a deep breath and think of your priorities. A healthy, happy child, in my humble opinion takes precedence of the company’s marketing mailing. Yes, the kid will distract you. so take advantage and connect with your child.

Read, tell stories and use the time to appreciate your own child. Realize how they are like you when you were their age.

Like I wrote in a precious post on connecting “his soul is bound with his soul” – every encounter is a chance to connect. Use your time wisely.

Don’t fall for the $5.42 Trick

I needed gas. I went to the gas station. Got the gas. Then I noticed I needed windshield wiper fluid. I asked the cashier – How much is that? He mumbled $5.42.

I didn’t hear the price clearly. Then he repeated. 5-4-2. I thought he meant 5$ for two bottles. $2.50 for a bottle isn’t bad.

I said I’ll take 2. He charged me $10.84. He told me – one bottle is $5.42. Realizing the error, I then told him forget it, I’ll just take one. I ended up paying more than double than what I thought the price was.

We see things in life. we think we’re getting a good deal, but end up paying much more. Some Jewish children are not privileged to go to a Torah day school. Later in life they realize the value. Some Jews send their children to secular schools. And only afterwards, when children abandon the Torahs ways, they realize they paid a high price – for saving on Torah school tuition.

In this week’s Parasha, Ki Tavo – Moshe tells the Jews to inscribe on Rocks the entire Torah. It could be an allusion to the fact that when building a home or doing a new endeavor – it should be founded on the principles of Torah. Meaning- Torah learning is heard in the house, the father learns himself and with his children, the children are sent to Torah schools, the parents consult a competent Orthodox Rabbi for major decisions – like which school their child should attend.

Stop wasting time! Do something productive. You don’t deserve it.

I was at a wedding yesterday. I noticed the guy sitting next to me checking his phone.

For some reason it woke me up. Perhaps it was one of the most important days of the couples’ lives and he’s checking his messages.

I thought to myself – “oh no! is that what I look like when involved with my phone?”

Some self introspection is in order. Wow, I do waste much time on my phone. Some stay awake into the wee hours and end up sleeping with phone in hand – realizing the next day that last night they lost 3 hours of sleep on futility.

I had to do something about it. I thought what can I do to remedy this? To say I will not use my phone or not go into interesting tangents was a bit too radical.

So I decided to do something productive before wasting time. Perhaps put a load of laundry in the machine, make a hello call to a family member, study a little Torah. Then I can go off on the tangent.

I made a mental note – “In order to waste time, I had to deserve it.”

Want to waste time? Do something productive first. At least looking back you won’t feel so bad – you lost three hours of sleep – surfing the news.

In the best case scenario – you’ll get distracted from wasting time and accomplish something great.

Learning from the Royal Family of England

We are the family – a royal family.

Royalty obliges royalty to act in a manner befitting them.

Things to learn from the Royal Family.

Story number one –

Once the royal family of England held a reception. Margaret Thatcher – then Prime Minister- attended. She was dismayed when she noticed that the queen was wearing the same dress as she was wearing. It was not proper respect for someone to wear the clothes same as the queen. She tried to find a way to be inconspicuous, but was unable. After the reception she wrote a letter to the queen excusing herself. The queen responded that she did not even notice she was wearing the same dress. Royalty is above little Petty details. Noblesse oblige.

Another story:

Once an Orthodox rabbi attended the Royal Banquet in England. He notified the staff that he only ate kosher and had special needs. The
staff made special Arrangements the rabbi to eat kosher. In the Royal banquets special cutlery and China is used that has the insignia of the
Royal Family. The staff arranged that he would have new silverware and China that was dipped in a Mikvah and obviously kosher food be served
to him.

Somehow seating arrangements changed and he had to move from his seat. To take the silverware and the China with him to the new seat would be uncomfortable for him to do in front of all the people. Nevertheless he took his China and his silverware to his new seat. Prince Charles (now the king) noticed him carrying his plate. After
the reception Prince Charles asked him why he carried his plates. The rabbi replied that he kept kosher and he had to take his special plates
that was arranged for him with him to assure that he ate kosher.


Prince Charles was impressed. Another Jew that was not observant of the Jewish laws of Kashrut / keeping kosher remarked to the prince “I
am also Jewish”. Prince Charles replied “I didn’t notice you carrying your plates to your new place.”

Two messages:

1 – Learn from nobility. We are the children of Israel. The children of Hashem. Thus we are also nobility. Nobility overlooks petty details.

2. By observing the Torah we gained favor in the eyes of others. But more importantly, we gain favor in the eyes concussion of Hashem.

How does G-d Forgive? Is G-d Fickle?

Mount Sinai?

Why are people Fickle? Apparently they want to make the best decision. Thus they search for more information. When they find it, they change their mind. It could be new information that changes their decision- it could be a whim, a mood change. OK. But said and done – apparently if they have all the information at their disposal- that will help them make their decision.

A person might encounter new information that alters their direction in life. This information was not before them – is that considered fickle? They made the best decision. Now they have another variable to deal with.

G-d has all information before him. He knows all past , present and future- thus he doesn’t change his mind.

Two things you can derive –

1. A person who follows a religion that says G-d gave the Torah to the Jews and then changed his mind – by choosing another people or – nullifying what He expects them to do (ie, nullified the responsibility to follow the commandments He gave at Mount Sinai) – must answer the question “Am I following a religion that assumes G-d is fickle?”

The Torah Stance : G-d in making the Torah commandments had all information at His disposal when He made the commandments of the Torah. He knew some people could follow all 613 commandments – and gave them for the Jewish nation. He gave 7 commandments (which are really 30) to people who can’t commit to doing the 613 – the 7 Noahide laws for all non-Jews / gentiles to follow.

A gentile can decide to become Jewish and then follow the 613 Laws. A Jew cannot relinquish their commandments. When each reaches the next world – Heaven – they will be judged based upon their respective laws. Based upon observing these laws – they with receive a portion in Heaven.

2 – How can G-d forgive if he doesn’t change his mind? When a person repents / does Teshuvah for not having followed in the pleasant path of the Torah – he or she is changing themselves. Thus they are not the same person as they were before Teshuvah. Now Hashem takes this information into account and forgives them.

G-d loves those that return to His path.

Happiness is a Choice


We control the horizontal.

We control the vertical.

We control the ups. We control the downs.

We control whether to have a left attitude or a right.

It is a statement in Chalzal (Chachamim Zichronam LiVracha – Our sages
of blessed memory.)

וְאָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא: הַכֹּל בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם, חוּץ מִיִּרְאַת
שָׁמַיִם.

HaKol Bidei Shamayim – Hutz MeYirat Shamayim. (Talmud Berakhot : 33b)

Everything is in the Hands of Heaven – except the fear of heaven.

Meaning – how much money you make is in Hash-m’s hands. How tall you
will be. How long you will live.

But you have a choice on things that pertain to awe of heaven – whether
you will be angry or calm, or bitter or better, sad or happy, composed
or wild or a robber or a banker, to do good or bad.

This is called freedom of choice.

You choose whether to put your children into a public school or a Torah
day school. You choose whether to spend the day shopping or the day
with the family at the Shabbat table. G-d gives you the freedom.

If we had not this choice, we would basically be robots. We would not
be able to be judged for our deeds.

Some say – he made me angry! He made me do it!

No one makes you do anything. You choose.

Your situation doesn’t cause your mood.

Heaven causes your situation. You yourself choose your mood and
attitude.

So choose to be happy.

It is in your hands.

Happiness is a choice.

Control – Get It from King David

In Parasha Re’eh it says to destroy the altars of idol worshipers. It says don’t do the same to Hashem. The question: A Jew would never destroy a Sanctuary of Hashem – so what does that mean? it means not to Erase Hashem’s name.

Once David Hamelech – King David dug in the place of the future holy Temple. Water started flowing out, threatening to flood the world. David announced “anyone who knows how to stop the waters let him speak or be strangled. ” Achitofel, his rabbi, made a kal vachomer – a fortiori – if Hash-m’s name can be erased to make peace between man and wife – obviously it can be erased to same the world. King David threw a piece of earthenware with Hash-m’s name written upon it into the water and it subsided.

The question: David knew that one is allowed to do almost anything to save a life, why did he have to get a confirmation from Achitofel – who happened to be his Rabbi?

King David wanted to observe the law of not deciding a Jewish Law / Halacha before his Rabbi. Had he made that decision himself, he would have been transgressing that law.

The world was about to be flooded, why was he concerned at that moment to do that mitzvah? David had seconds to save the world? It is too teach us, that king David did not lose control. Even in the most trying situations he did not lose his control.

We, at times, in times of pressure succumb to the pressure and do things in haste because of the heat of the moment.

A Jewish king does not react. He acts. He is in control. One reason why the predecessor of King David lost his kingship was that he reacted to emotions. He lost control.

We as children of Hashem, Princes and Princesses, are also asked to remain in control.

The Man who Converted to Judaism because of Shoes

I was speaking with a friend. He said people commented to him that they would observe Torah Judaism (a better name for Orthodox Judaism) if there weren’t as many prohibitions. He told them “But look at all the things you can do!”

I told him it’s much more than that. It’s that by doing Mitzvot you improve your world tremendously. By doing Shabbat – one person will say – I can’t do it. I can’t drive.. I can’t go shopping. I can’t light a fire. I can’t use the phone, internet, other media and electronic games

But really, by not doing all those things you are guided to spend time with your friends and family. you are guided to focus on priorities in life. After 120 years, when a person is about to die he or she will not say, it is too bad I should have shopped more. They will say it’s too bad I would have liked to spend more time with loved ones.

Doing Mitzvot you change the world for the good. You have more meaning for every mitzvah that you do. Every mitzvah is an opportunity to improve. it’s a beracha – blessing.

A religion or movement that tries to reduce the commandments from people is completely missing the point. Every mitzvah is an opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with others and with Hashem. why do I want to limit connection?

A man converted to Judaism. Asked “why?” – he responded “there is a mitzvah – commandment (rabbinical ) to tie your shoes a particular way. I wanted to be in a religion that G-d is with me even agent I tie my shoes.”

The Man Who Threw His Medicine Out the Window – Anger Management 101

Our Torah learning group were learning Hok Leyisrael – a Sefer / book that complies small daily portions of the Torah / H’umash (of that week’s Parasha / Torah Reading) , Neviim / Prophets, Ketuvim / writings, Mishna, Gemara, Zohar, Halacha and mussar / personal growth teachings into a book – so that one can learn a portion of each daily. I read that the Rabbi, Baba Sali recommended a man who came to him to learn it.

In the Torah portion we were learning- Ekev (first pasuk -verse of Sheni / 2nd Aliya) – Moshe / Moses tells the people ‘Guard yourself lest you forget Hashem (G-d of the Jews), Your G-d and you forget his laws…”.

The Bible Translators Mislead – which version of the Bible do you read – there is only one

I explained that unfortunately many people who read Translations of Torah (some call it the Bible) from the original Hebrew are mislead. The translators translate the Hebrew word for Hashem into “the Lord”. Hashem is the name of the G-d that the Jews worship – the same G-d that took the Jews out of Egypt – the same G-d of the Universe. “Hashem” is a personal noun. “The Lord” is a pronoun. By translating it this way, one is mislead to think that “the Lord” is any G-d that they follow. Readers thus attribute the actions of ‘the Lord” to the G-d of their liking – which is not necessarily true.

It’s like one who edits the sentence “Sir Isaak Newton revealed the laws of gravity.” to “The scientist revealed the laws of gravity.” In the first sentence you know who revealed the laws of gravity. The second – you can possibly insert any scientist of your liking.

One of the most accurate Translations I have found is the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash. It usually translates the Hebrew word for Hashem into Hashem.

So the verse above Moshe is telling the Jews not to forget the Laws of Hashem – the 613 commandments from the Torah.

The Evil Inclination’s / Yetzer Hara’s Tricks

How does one not forget Hashem’s laws? the Evil inclination – that voice inside you that injects negativity and bad thoughts into your mind – has two methods: Either by chipping away slowly at one’s morals or by attacking when a person is vulnerable- like when a person is angry or despondent. He doesn’t tell a person “Rob that bank. ” He first says to them “You can take a candy from the store (without permission) – and pay them back tomorrow.” He continues chipping away until he convinces the person to rob a bank.

But really you have control to agree or disagree with the Yetzer Hara. It is in your hands.

The fight against Self- Improvement

The yetzer hara doesn’t want you to become a better individual. He wants you to remain the same or get worse. He wants you to discard and deflect self-improvement efforts.

The Man’s Greatest Helpmate

The Torah uses the terminology for a wife as “a helpmate against him. ” One of her roles is to help her husband improve. If the husband does good (according to Torah) she helps him. If he does bad – she is against him. (Provided she has the proper Torah Hashkafa – outlook).

It is more of the woman’s job to help a man improve than vice versa. The Torah does not call the man – a helpmate against her. The wife is one who knows the husband best. She sometimes mirrors or or complains about his personal lacking. The man who wants to improve, will tune into her message of self-improvement to him and try to do something to better himself.

What do men sometimes do – they resist and fight back. If she is giving him his medication to better himself – why should he fight back. it makes more sense to accept the constructive criticism and build himself. If he fights – he is like the person who goes to the Doctor for medicine for weakness. When the doctor gives him the medicine he shouts at the doctor and says “why are you giving me this medicine- it is so bitter?!!” and he throws it out the window.

In Mishlei / Proverbs by Shelomo Hamelekh / king Solomon – the wisest of men – he says “A gentle reply turns away wrath but a galling word incites anger” (Mishlei/Proverbs 15:1). The wise will take their ques for self-improvement and improve. It takes two to fight. if one answers nicely – it will disarm the other’s anger and your own as well.

Become better not bitter.