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. •

The Search for Order – How Torah Helps You Put Order in Your Life

I was searching my computer. A file name contained the word “order”. In a tab, in the file manager program it said “Search for order.”

Random events occur. Is it just the randomness of life or is there meaning behind the events?

Really my point is not to answer that question – but how the Torah puts order in your life.

Are Events Just Random

But here is the answer anyway: Events do not occur randomly. G-d has a plan and purpose for every event. Basically we – with our actions – determine the future. The general rule in the world is “Midah Keneged Midah” – Measure for measure. We are kind – we receive kindness. We are giving – we get. We are understanding – people understand us. The negative side also provides a boomerang effect. One gets angry at an employee – a bigger fish gets angry at you. This is a law in the spiritual nature of the world. So – it provides us an opportunity to improve. If we know that we might be receiving the boomerang effect of something we dished out – it’ll help us to improve the next time around.

Torah vs Society Values

The society will tell you “Eat and be merry for tomorrow one dies.” Pleasure without purpose is condoned. Torah says “Use pleasures to build. To build relationships, to build kindness to build your connection to Hash-m / G-d.”

So we are forbidden to touch members of the other gender – unless we get married. This provides an incentive to get married. Getting married allows one to build a family – slowly one builds a family.

Society will tell you follow your fancies. This doesn’t help a person to get married – on the contrary it causes a person to not marry. To not establish a family. And if they do – then their kids will follow the same route that society brings them.

Torah will bring Torah observers to build families with children with similar goals.

You choose your values. You choose if you want to build or if you want to follow your desires. The Torah will help you build your life and achieve your purpose. Societies values will bring you to the pendulum of pleasure seeking – after you reach one you end up in the same place or backwards from where you started.

Choose Life.

The Anxiety – Overcoming it through Belief in G-d

People have anxiety. How can you deal with it?

Personally I think there are three steps.

  1. Remove yourself from situations that cause anxiety. Some feel fear because they hear the scary news items. News is meant to attract readers or watchers – if the headlines wrote “Beautiful Day in Israel Again.” It wouldn’t be read by many. So they resort to tactics to attract readership. If the news makes you anxious – watch less news. Some news magazines – including Jewish ones – and sites fall into the category of over-analyzing news. Personally, I just like to hear the headlines and some small details. I don’t need to know all the details. We used to subscribe to such a Jewish family magazine – but I felt it was too focused on irrelevant details (to me) of the news. So we stopped our subscription. We replaced it with more of a family oriented magazine. If other things cause you fear – distance yourself from them.
  2. Deal with the symptoms – If public speaking causes you anxiety – learn to overcome the fear. Prepare more. Know your subject. Practice. Get used to talking in public.
  3. Deal with the Root Cause. One main cause of fear is the belief that society is a dangerous place or people are out to get you. Don’t worry – people are not out to get you. G-d is here to protect you. He loves you more than anyone else. Hashem is good and wants your good and safety. If we think of that – we can live a calmer life.

My friend once said – if you believe in the stock market – your mood will be based upon the movements of the stock market. On an up day you will be happy. On a down day – your mood will swing. But one who believes in Hashem and knows the goodness of Hashem and reinforces it by learning about Bitachon / Belief and Emuna / Trust in G-d – they will live a more peaceful life.

Hashem is the Name of G-d. Some English Translated versions of the Torah it / 5 Books of Moses inaccurately translates the name of G-d as “The Lord” – more of a pronoun – the correct translation is really “Hash-m” – a personal noun. ie – “Hear Oh Israel The Lord…. is One” should really should be translated as “Hear Oh Israel Hashem… is One.” If you read about the kindness of Hashem in the Torah or books you begin to trust in Him. The root cause of your anxiety will be solved.

Some good Jewish books include – Rabbi David Ashear’s “Living Emuna” books found at better Jewish bookstores.

Is it Good to Own a Pet According to Judaism? Of Pets & Children.

Winning the Raffle

It was a prize from the Pet Show raffle. He came home not only with his knapsack that day – but with a small bird cage – bird and all. OK – we decided to keep it. I figured – oh no – I don’t like to take care of pets because if you are a bit careless – you might find a fish floating on top of the water after about a week.

Taking Care of the Bird

It wasn’t my first pet. We got it so I might as well take care of it. Perhaps there was a mitzvah the pet could help me to do? Like feeding it before I eat. I took care of it. I fed it. I gave it to drink. I showered it & cage with a hose. Rarely did I take it out of the cage. I was concerned it would fly away and I would be able to get it back in its cage.

Bird Babysitter – Stress and Animals

Once I left it to a friend to bird sit. His family liked the bird. Some time later I was informed that the bird died. I was saddened but a bit relieved that I was relieved of my duties as bird caretaker. I had theories that it had died because of stress in the house or old age. They offered to buy us a new bird – but I politely refused.

Prohibition of Pain to Animals

We have a Mitzvah not to cause pain to animals – it’s called Tzaar Balei Chaim. So I had to treat it nicely. Once a rabbi shooed away a lamb seeking refuge under his garment – ans since it was an act that was not to his stature – he was stricken with a toothache for 13 years. Taking care of animals is a responsibility towards the animal and towards the surroundings.

Don’t aDopt Dangerous Dog

A dangerous dog is forbidden to have as a pet it might hurt people. I heard of stores of pet dogs attacking children when parents weren’t home. Dogs also bark. Their bark can cause a woman to miscarry if she is startled of fear.

Yes – I know pet lovers will say – my dog is so kind. Still one must to be concerned about the points mentioned above. There are stories about dogs saving a person’s life in the Torah. Yes I know that dogs are called a man’s best friend.

Essence of a Dog

The word for dog in Hebrew is KELEV. Kaf-Lamed-Vet. Adam – the first man- gave the animals their Hebrew name based upon their nature. Adam called this animal KELEV because it is KULO LEV (All Heart). Someone gave me an interesting possible reason of why a dogs are able to connect with humans more than others. A dog has more hutzpa / audacity than other animals. This audacity makes it think it is on the level of a human. Other animals are not so brazen and they recognize they are inferior to humans. The preferred animal as a pet in the US is a dog. Interesting theory.

Of Pets & Having Children

A couple who lacks children should consult a competent Orthodox rabbi whether it is worthwhile to have a dog. A dog may serve as a comfort for people without children. This comfort may cause them to relinquish praying with all their heart to Hashem to help them bear children. Perhaps not having the dog would cause them to daven / pray with more fervor. This intensified prayer could open the heavens for their prayers to be answered.

Search for Satisfaction that is Productive

Once someone who had difficulty bearing children asked a rabbi what he could do to bear children after being childless of years. He asked the man – Is there anything that gives you satisfaction. He replied yes – my business. He told him to reduce his business dealings. He did so – and a short time later he bore children. Apparently a person is supposed to get a certain amount of satisfaction and pain during the year. He was deriving all his satisfaction from his business and that was eating up what was due to him in satisfaction. When he relinquished it from the business, Hash-m gave him the satisfaction from the children.

Do Animals Communicate

It was known that Shlomo Hamelekh / King Solomon wisdom allowed him to speak with animals. Apparently they have feelings also – as illustrated in a story between Shlomo and a bird boasting to its wife that it could destroy the castle of Shlomo to his wife.

The Curse of the Birds

Recently I heard that there are animals in Heaven – by a Rabbi Meyer Eliyahu (shiur in Hebrew). I also heard recently about birds that cursed their master. Someone was convicted of a crime. The Man asked a Mekubal – a Rabbi that is well versed in Kabbala / Jewish Mysticism – why he was convicted of a crime. The Mekubal answered that His Birds cursed him. He told the rabbi he would get rid of the birds. He said the decree was already decided in heaven.

Were the birds at least partially responsible for his sentence? I don’t know. Should you avoid birds as pets? You decide.

Fish, however, I heard are good pets to have because they have a good eye. They were not corrupted by the flood of Noah.

They’re Bothering You for a Reason

He has to catch the bus to work. his wife nags him – ”Why do you leave your bed unmade? Please Make your bed before you leave and pick up your clothes.” Reluctantly, the husband goes and does so, thinking ,,”ok I’ll be late 5 minutes. Better that than getting into an argument and be late half an hour.”

A man thinks – why is she nagging me? But really a wife is a reflection of her husband. Rabbi Meir Eliyahu said that the way a woman acts with her husband reflects the relation he has with Hashem. If she is makes dinner late – perhaps he comes to synagogue late.

In parasha Vayera Hashem asks Abraham, why did Sarah (his wife) laugh when she heard that she will have a baby at the age of 90. G-d reproched her lack of belief. Some commentators explain that Hashem wasn’t reproching Sarah’s conduct but Abraham’s level of belief because his wife’s attitude was a reflection on Abraham. Perhaps he had a slight imperfection in his belief. Perhaps he should have instilled in her or taught her more emuna – belief in Hashem.

So when one’s wife says something – it may be Hashem is sending him a message that he has to improve in a particular domain. Like cleanliness is next to godliness.

The Real Disadvantage of TV

I like statistics. Provided they are true, they help you decide more or less in an unbiased way.

I can drum up many statistics about TV. But I won’t.

Waiting for a minyan at our neighborhood synagogue I asked myself, why some people avoid the synagogue? I thought – in previous decades the synagogues were full.

What happened?

What happened? Before the center of one’s family life was the family and the synagogue. The synagogues and the Mitzvot allowed a family to connect in a positive, wholesome way.

The yetzer hara – evil inclination – said I’ll take care of that. I will replace the center of one’s family life with electronic media.

Today, walk into the average home – and the center of their life is centered around the TV.

Those who realize this will choose family over the screen. The synagogue over the social media.

In many Orthodox Jewish homes the TV is absent but family connection is not. They center around the coffee table to connect rather than having a screen that serves as an intermediary between them .

Learning to make decisions with foresight

I wish I knew that 10 years ago. I wish I has the foresight. We don’t see the the issue until we are faced with the situation.

OK. A course in foresight.

Take a situation. Like:

I am searching for a job. I am offered a job today. Should I take it? Fast forward 10 years in your mind. Now imagine you are 10 years older and still looking for a job. Do you regret the job you didn’t take 10 years ago (which is actually today)?

There are other methods of foresight – like listening to advice on your issue after asking a reputable Orthodox rabbi.

Doing Mitzvot also helps. Following Torah allows a person to structure their life and make good life decisions.

Once a person in Mexico City, who recently had decided to observe Shabbat, had a good deal to sell his office building. The buyer wanted to continue negotiating close to the entrance of Shabbat. The seller said he must stop to prepare for Shabbat. The buyer relinquished the deal. The week after an earthquake shook Mexico City. Due to the many buildings damaged and his remaining intact, he was able to sell his building at substantially more than had he decided to desecrate Shabbat and go through with the first deal.

Hashem has foresight. Observing his Torah allows us to tap into it.

There is Always a Silver Lining

My friend Meyer was talking about happiness. He said a formula where a person can be mostly happy.

There is always a silver lining

I knew of the concept, but he brought is out clearer.

Givens:

We know Hash-m / G-d is good. G-d does good always.

Now if something happens that we think is bad – I hurt my ankle, someone yelled at me, someone called me a name – given the givens – we
should not be saddened. We should make an effort to brainstorm why that
could be actually good.

Someone I know was in a bus accident. They were hurt. They thought why did that happen – they were on the way to do a mitzvah. Afterwards the doctor proscribed time off from work – allowing them to take care of important business while being paid.

Technically one can be happy all the time. It’s a matter of understanding why what we think is bad is actually good. Looking at the silver lining in the cloud and putting our focus on the silver lining rather than the cloud – is the formula.

Having this attitude – one can be happy all the time.

The Healing Power of Reciting Shir HaShirim – Song of Songs

Song of Songs was written by the wisest of all men – Shelomo Hamelech/ King Solomon.

“All the healing in the world are alluded to and included in the book of Shir Hashirim – the Song of Songs”. Therefore, a person in need of healing or salvation of any kind can be endowed with the blessing of salvation and mercy by reciting the Song of Songs.” If the patient is not able to say it himself his family members or his friends may say it for him. As is explained in the book
“Maam Loez” (Song of Songs, at the end of the opening), And in the book “devarim niflaim ” – “Wonderful Things” (page 117).

Some say that the most propice time for reciting this is before the morning light. Thus is explained in the book yeshuat yaakov –
“Jacob’s salvation”.
A person who makes sure to read the scroll “Shir hashirim” Song of songs” are pleasant and sung every Friday evening – erev Shabbat- he is guaranteed to be forgiven for all wrongdoings

shir hashirim was written by Shelomo hamelech. rav nachman me breslev explains the power of its healing in sihot haran 243

Judging Your Fellow Favorably

A student of the baal shem tov – saw a fellow talmid – student praying on Yom Kippur.  The student – feeling weak – pulled out a box of tobacco snuff to take a sniff.  Noticing the gesture,  he looked at the act with derision. “on one of the holiest days of the year he is looking to sniff tobacco?” he thought.

The baal shem tov took note of this.  The student was studying one day before him.  He prayed that he would be distracted.  Distracted, the student could not concentrate.  He tried to concentrate to no avail.  Finally he took out his snuff box and took a sniff. He realized his distraction was due to his derision of the other talmid on Yom Kippur. He did teshuva – repented for his lack of judging favorably and was able to concentrate again.

A Secret on How to be Written in the Book of Life

Rosh Hashana is behind us. All Humanity of the world was judged- Jews and Gentiles. Hashem wrote his decrees.  We hope all of us received a good verdict for the new year.

Hashem gives us many chances to rectify our misdeeds. Yom Kippur – the day of atonement – is when Hashem seals his verdict.

I was thinking about the concept of what happens.  G-d has 3 books.  The book for the righteous – who are written in the book of life.  The book for the wicked – who are written in the book of death.  The book for the average – that are hanging by their deeds.

A common expression to express that you want nothing to do with a particular person is “I wrote him off.” Meaning – I am cutting him off from any relationship. If you think of it, when Hashem writes someone in the book for the wicked – He basically writes them off.

Hashem acts with us middah Keneged middah, measure for measure.  If we don’t write off people – God will not write us off. He will write us in the book of life.  Some people write others off for hours,  days, or life.  Forgiving and forgetting is an admirable trait – whose repercussions can improve our daily life and give us long life. Once a rabbi was on his death bed. He was judged and in heaven – they added years to his life. Why?  Because he never held a grudge- he always forgave people in his heart before going to sleep. [in the reading of the Keriat Shema on the bed.]

He forgave because he knew that any insult or suffering he endured was a message from Hashem due to his former deeds.  The person who meted it out was just the messanger.

Purify your heart and soul.