The Four Sons of the Haggada. Which Son Are You? – The Ultimate Guide for Self-Improvement

“Blessed is Hashem. Blessed is He. That He gave Torah to His people Israel. The Torah talked about the four sons – one wise, one wicked, one one simple and one that doesn’t know how to ask.”

A person reading the Hagada on Passover will usually ask – who am I out of all these sons? Am I the Wise? The Wicked?

Really each one of us has a trait of each son in us. At times we fall to our temptations – so we have the trait of the wicked son. At time we act with wisdom – thus we are like the wise son. At times we act as the the other two.

So what is the solution? How do we Become more wise and less wicked, less simple and more ethically educated?

There is a concept in Torah Hash-m Makdim Refual LaMaka – Hash-m provides the cure before the illness.

The Ultimate Guide for Self-Improvement

What is the proper cure to having the attributes of the four sons – The Torah.

As first in the Hagada it says :

“Blessed is Hashem. Blessed is He. That He gave Torah to His people Israel.

then it says:

The Torah talked about the four sons – one wise, one wicked, one one simple and one that doesn’t know how to ask.”

 

 

Boosting Retail Sales – Saving the Retail Stores from Amazon – An Idea to Bring Customers Back

Jews live weekly on a weekly Parasha – Torah Reading. A Rabbi I used to learn with once explained that the Parasha does more than teach you laws, stories & Jewish philosophy – it gives you insight on what will happen that week.

Making the World Better

Yaakov Avinu – Jacob, Our Forefather – in Parasha VaYetze – it says “VaYetze Yaakov MiBe’eer Sheva vaYelekh Harana.” (Beresheet /Genesis 28:10)(Beresheet /Genesis 28:10) And Jacob went out from Be’er Sheva and he went to Haran. Rashi SaysRashi Says – we know that Yaakov was in Be’er Sheva from previous verses. Why does the Torah have to teach us that he left Be’er Sheva? This is obvious. Rashi answers – Yaakov was such a person that made such an impression on the area he went to – that when he left – so did the light leave, so did the glory leave, so did the beauty leave.

Apparently Yaakov – tried to make every place he went to better. That is the goal of our lives as Jews – to make any place that we come to better than it was before.

My father, of blessed memory said he learned in being in the scouts in Morocco that every campsite that you visit, you should leave it better than it was before. A similar concept.

So here is my idea for a better world – at least in the retail (or wholesale) business.

Amazon Took My Idea 🙂 – Selling Online

But Before I tell you the Idea, I want you to know that before Amazon or even the Internet existed, I had the idea of selling things online. In the good old days – when people had computers with names as such as the Apple II plus, the PET, the Commodore 64, the Amiga, the IBM PC – people would buy hardware called a modem. A modem is basically a phone for computers. Instead of going online – on the Internet – people would dial using phone lines into a computer BBS (Bulletin Board System). I thought – perhaps I could sell knapsacks – from Israel (Steve’s Jerusalem Packs) on a Bulletin Board System. People could download the catalog and then call me or send me a message on the BBS to order or mail me.

Why do I tell you my about great ideas? To make you admire me? No. I want you to know of a Torah concept. G-d gives ideas.  G-d also releases ideas at the proper time for the world to advance. The nature needed to make computers and drones existed since the time of creation. The ideas to tap into them – came at a certain time based upon what G-d thought was appropriate. He releases the ideas. Thus you have Amazon.

The 2,800 year-old Drone

Shlomo HaMelech / King Solomon invented a mechanical bird that was able to fetch him books or scrolls from his library. Thus the idea and technology for drones was there – but it wasn’t time for it to become widespread.

Amazon’s Hiddush / Novelty

Amazon has tapped into a customer that wishes to save time or money by doing shopping on-line. Their experience shopping on-line – although not as interesting as going to a retail store – gets the job done.

They are efficient but lose the human and product connection. The customer loses part of the shopping experience. They talk with an Alexis or a Siri. But that will never match talking with a human.

Getting Customers Back to Stores.

So how do retail stores get their customers back?

Let me coin the term the “virtual clerk” ™ or if you want the clerks name to sound more warm and human – the “Home Clerk.” ™ The “Virtuclerk” ™ is a human employee of the store that is on-site in the store itself. He or she has a cell phone. You call up the store. They connect you to a home clerk.

You want shoes – the home clerk brings you down the isle – as you watch on your cell phone. He or she shows you the shoes. “Yes. I like that one.” You choose the shoes. He or she rings you up. You can choose to come to store to pick the shoes up or they can send it to you.

Technically – this opens new doors. A person from New York can buy a coat from Israel or vice versa. You have a favorite store – but don’t feel like taking a 20 minute drive there – searching for 20 minutes – and then driving back. You can search before you get to the store – then drive there just to pick up the merchandise. No waiting on line to pay. You already paid before you arrived. If you don’t find what you like, you saved 40 minutes of driving. Or If you do find what you like – you save 40 minutes of driving by asking them to have it delivered.

A store can develop an app or they can just use whatsapp to implement the HomeClerk ™ idea. Perhaps the big boys – Google, Apple, Paypay and Amazon can incorporate it into their payment apps or their shopping systems. You can have an option “Shop live.” ™ Where the customer presses a button and you are connected to your favorite department store or retail store’s Home Clerk ™ HC(tm).

Physical Store Home Clerks ™, Public HCs & Private.

A Home Clerk can be private, a store employee and/or a public employee. A retail store can hire these Home Clerks ™ and customers can be directed to them via an app or a computer program. Customers can choose to turn off their cameras – as to not be seen by the Home Clerk ™.

A private agency can charge a certain amount per hour for shopping. If it is for groceries – they might charge 10$ an hour and also get a part of their wage from the store itself.

A public agency can use these Home Clerks ™ to help the elderly or infirm. They would be hired like Uber drivers – after a small period of training – and be called upon demand. They could do food shopping for the elderly and the like.

Someone who applies to be Home Clerk ™ employee can decide what schedule they prefer – if they want a 9 to 5 job – they can opt to be a Retail Store HC. If they want more flexible hours they can apply to be a Private or Public HC.

You heard it here first.

Remember Ohr Binyamin with a generous donation when you make your first million on the idea. 🙂

Make the world a better place.

The Difficulties of Life – Here to Make You, Not Break You

Rachel eloped. She married a shepherd that her father did not want her to marry. He wanted a person who knew Torah. She also wanted the same thing, but she looked at potential while her father looked at where the boy was now. She married a person who did not even know the alef-bet (Hebrew alphabet). The son of Kalba Savua, her father, was wealthy. He removed her from his support and her inheritance.

She married Akiva. Through delicate tact she convinced him to enroll in a Yeshiva. He did. They were so poor that she they slept in a barn-like shack. Their beds were made of straw. She being from a wealthy family was a bit disheartened. At that moment a poor person knocked on the door. “Please my friend can you spare some straw. My wife just gave birth and we don’t even have straw for the beds.” Akiva generously gave the straw he could spare. The incident gave them some Hizuk – strength to their morale.

“You see there are people who are even more needy than we.” Akiva said to his wife.

The truth was was that the poor person was Eliyahu HaNavi / Elijah the prophet who comes to the world to accomplish a mission for G-d. He came to them to give them Hizuk – by asking them for some straw.

The commentators ask a poignant question. “If G-d is sending Eliyahu – why not instead let him give Akiva and his wife a purse of gold coins?” Wouldn’t that make him happier?

I heard two answers to the question.

One answer is that by sending Eliyahu to ask for straw, it enabled Rabbi Akiva (as he was known later) to do kindness. It is kindness that really makes a person happy.

A Second answer is that if Eliyahu gave them gold coins, Akiva would not have become the great Torah scholar that he eventually became. The wealth would have made him and his wife focus more on materialism – that focus would have damaged his potential of becoming the Rabbi Akiva that he became. Eventually after 24 years of study away from home R. Akiva came back home with 24,000 students.

If Akiva received gold perhaps he would have come back with only 23,000 students or maybe even none. A person – taking life with the right attitude – can excel in adversity. G-d sends difficulties do that you can overcome them. So that you can become closer to him. So that you can excel in Torah and Mitzvot. And so that – through Torah and Mitzvot – you can become the greatest person you can become.

Meaning – the difficulties in life are here to make you – not break you. G-d only sends a person what they can handle. And all challenges that one encounters is for one’s own good. G-d is good. One reason why people have sufferance – is to help them achieve and better themselves. A person who always had all they needed – may become haughty and/or ungrateful. Sufferance may bring them back to humility and appreciation.

You have to be creative enough to see the good. Bold enough to follow a path – guided by Torah – that will make you a new person.

Don’t look at difficulty as a negative thing. Look at it as an opportunity to improve yourself and your life.

The Apple & the Secret to Self-Appreciation, Meaningful Living & Communication

In the center of the Mizbeach / Altar in Mishkan / Tabernacle – after burning the offerings – the Cohanim would place the ashes in a pile. This was called the Tapuach – the apple – because it resembled half of an apple. There was a Mitzvah to remove ithe wastes before starting the new day’s offerings. This service was called the terumat hadeshen.

The Altar had several pyres of fire. The fire on the mizbeach represents a man’s soul. At times it is covered with ashes – which cause the fire of spirituality and desire for closeness with G-d to wane. Our Job is to remove these external impediments to help us develop a closer relationship with Hash-m / G-d.

Two ways to deeper Self-Appreciation

The process of becoming closer to ourselves is twofold. One goal is to remove impediments. A second goal is to dig deeper into who we really are deep inside.

This process applies to discovering ourselves and to communicating with others.

The Danger of TV – Superficial Family Relations

Our communication with others is mostly superficial. “How are you?” Do we really care or are we making polite conversation. The problem is not strangers. The problem is our close relatives and friends. Do we prefer gathering around a screen munching snacks and fruits than getting to know our children?

Unfortunately the opportunity cost of TV and computer time is less profound relations with children, spouses, siblings and parents. But the point of this article is not to bash TV. It is to remind ourselves that our job in life is to develop deep and meaningful relations with others.

I saw a cute cartoon. A man was on his deathbed with his family surrounding him. His last words were “I wish I would have watched more TV.”

No one regrets TV. People do regret not having more deep family relations.

So we fall prey to the superficial. What the other was wearing. What was a great restaurant. Fine. Stay on that level – but lose out on meaning.

In Pirkei Avot (4:20) – it Says

Elisha ben Abuya says: One who learns as a child is compared to what? To ink written on new parchment. And one who learns as an elder is compared to what? To ink written on scraped parchment.

 

Rabbi Yose bar Yehuda, man of Kfar HaBavli, says: One who learns from young ones is compared to what? To one who eats unripe grapes and drinks wine from its press. And one who learns from elders is compared to what? To one who eats ripe grapes and drinks aged wine. Rebbi says: Do not look at the jug but rather at what is in it. For there are new jugs full of old, and old that do not have even new within them.

Rebbi reveals a secret about learning. “Do not look at the Jug or container – but rather at what is in it”. You can have a young Torah scholar – that has much to teach and an old man that has no Torah knowledge.

Rebbi’s statement also reveals to us the secret to communication, self-appreciation and meaningful living. Don’t look at superficial appearance – dig deeper and look inside.

Let’s apply his statement to each.

Successful Communication

Want more successful communication? Don’t look at the only the words that come out of a person’s mouth or actions – try to understand their needs. There is a child that causes trouble – because they want attention. They do things because they want a reaction from you. They would rather a negative reaction than total ignoring from your part. If you were attuned to the child or spouse’s needs you would not be getting flustered by your relationship or conversations.

Write down on paper – what you think the other person’s needs are 1) In general 2) in particular.

It is simple for a child who is causing trouble. Their need in general is 1) Attention. Love. Appreciation. Their need at the moment is 2) Having fun with a parent.

The Rice experiment of ..  He had three containers of rice with water. He spoke to one nicely. The Other he spoke negatively and the third he ignored. The one he spoke to nicely after a period remained white. The one he spoke negatively became black. The one he ignored  became moldy.

Don’t Look at the container (the words) look at what is in it (the needs of the person).

Marshall Rosenberg was able to settle a 35 year old marital dispute within 20 minutes after each one recognized the other’s needs.

Self-Appreciation and appreciation of others

People Judge other’s and themselves harshly. They think they are bad. The fact that a person feels guilty for a thing they did bad – shows that they realize that they did bad and because they feel guilty – they are actually good. Bad people don’t feel remorse – they rationalize that the bad they did was good. Also one can always do teshuva / repent if they missed the mark.

At times a child or other does an act. They spill the ice cream on the floor. The child was trying to serve their younger sibling. You can either look at the negative – they spilled the ice cream or that they were trying to help their brother.

Don’t look at the container – look at what is in it – he tried to help. Praise him for that.

Praise yourself for your good aspects. The Torah wants you to be happy about yourself. The more positive you are – the more you can accomplish.

More Meaning

Abraham Herzberg wrote an article about motivation of employees in the Harvard Business Journal. He found that employees are satisfied by a job because of certain factors. But become dissatisfied because of the lacking of other factors.

The factors that caused satisfaction were called Motivators. The factors causing dissatisfaction were called Hygiene factors.

Two-factor theory distinguishes between:

  • Motivators (e.g. challenging work, recognition for one’s achievement, responsibility, opportunity to do something meaningful, involvement in decision making, sense of importance to an organization) that give positive satisfaction, arising from intrinsic conditions of the job itself, such as recognition, achievement, or personal growth.

  • Hygiene factors (e.g. status, job security, salary, fringe benefits, work conditions, good pay, paid insurance, vacations) that do not give positive satisfaction or lead to higher motivation, though dissatisfaction results from their absence. The term “hygiene” is used in the sense that these are maintenance factors. These are extrinsic to the work itself, and include aspects such as company policies, supervisory practices, or wages/salary.

Meaning comes from contributing to a better world or a bettering a company. Doing an activity that helps you pass the time doesn’t usually bring you deep satisfaction. It helps you pass the moment in an agreeable way.

It is interesting to note that there is a commandment from the Torah (for Jews and non-Jews) to build the world. By working and doing an honest job helps to build the world. Thus we see that the list of Motivators above – are linked to the commandment of building the world. Meaning that achieving meaning is linked to following the commandments of the Torah. The Jews the 613 commandments found in the Shulchan Aruch. And for Gentiles is following the 7 Noahide laws of the Torah.

When we look deeper in to ourselves, others and the purpose of life – we find a more beautiful world out there.

True Free Think. Why the World Needs More Tea.

I want to be a free man.

Freedom of speech is condoned by most civilized countries.

Freedom of thought. Freedom of Expression. Yes. All seem to be lofty ideals.

But is free speech really free? If you are part of a group, you are expected to think a certain way. If I am liberal – I must defend liberalism. If I am a Conservative – I defend conservatism. If African American – I defend African Americans. If I am a scientist – I defend science.

This is expected. This is normal. Yet it is not yet freedom. Why? Because my Ideas and ideals are based upon the group with which I am associated. So you don’t hear liberals against abortion. Or Conservatives – for abortions.

So say something against the other party’s ideals. And they will attack. Speak against certain politically sensitive issues and you are shunned – by at least the people who disagree.

Pretty immature.

What we call democracy today is not true democracy.

It’s like terrible twos. A kid does what he wants. Breaks. Takes – Mine he says. He develops his own personality. And the word “No” enters his vocabulary. Ok – a sign of development. As we grow, we mature – we hope.

A friend takes a toy, the two year old will grab it and say “mine.”

If it’s mine – my opinion – then i will protest because you disagree. Did we evolve from these terrible twos?

I think this attitude may stem from fear. Fear that I will agree with the other party or be influenced by their thinking. This is legitimate if you are avoiding a bad influence.

But if you are seeking truth – this is a backward attitude.

Here is a small example – The United Nations. Join the bandwagon and condemn Israel. Their point is not to find truth – it is to propagate their attitude. In this case – they use Israel as a pawn to propagate their anti-semitic ideals. Examples abound.

When one learns Torah, it is not the opinion that matters – it is what is the truth that matters. We both want truth. I don’t want to sell you my ideas or ideals.

Today everyone is a salesman. Companies, non-profits, people. Torah Judaism is not selling anything. It is – through Torah – helping you to recognize the truth.

In a Yeshiva – people vigorously argue their points of view regarding different aspects of life and Torah subjects. After they finish learning – although they might have been shouting their points of view – in the end they are the best of friends. Why because each helped the other reach a higher degree of truth.

Contrast that to what occurs in today’s media. A person doesn’t like your opinion – so they will rank you out – and even insult. Each more – they are on worse terms – because each was selling their own opinion without regards for truth.

An adage written on a Tetley tea bag – said “Learn to disagree without becoming disagreeable.”

A concept the Torah taught 3,300 years ago – like it says in Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers (1:18).

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says, “On three things the world stands: on judgment, on truth and on peace, as it is said (Zachariah 8:16), ‘Judge truth and the justice of peace in your gates.'”

If you search for truth and justice – in the end you will have peace. If you search for propagating your opinion – peace will not necessarily ensue.

 

 

Guard Your Soul- Safety from Stroke

It is a Torah Commandment to “Guard Your Soul” – meaning to keep yourself safe and healthy.

Recently I received a message – telling 4 signs of stroke. Here is what it said:

STROKE: Remember the 1st Three Letters…..
S. T. R.
STROKE IDENTIFICATION:
During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall – she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) …she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening.
Jane’s husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital – (at 6:00 PM Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don’t die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead.
A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke…totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.
RECOGNIZING A STROKE
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.
Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:
S *Ask the individual to SMILE.
T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A
SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently)
(i.e. Chicken Soup)
R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
Another ‘sign’ of a stroke is this: Ask the person to ‘stick’ out his tongue. If the tongue is
‘crooked’, if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.
If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

= =

My father, z”l / of Blessed Memory had a stroke on Shabbat. I was reluctant to call Hatzala / the Ambulance for I didn’t want to violate the Shabbat. I was believe I was mistaken. I should have called. Thank G-d – our family friend Howard Stein, saw the signs and called hatzalah – possibly saving my father’s life.

A person should learn the laws of which medical signs warrants a person to desecrate the Shabbat. Learning the Halachot / Jewish Laws on the subject as well is highly recommended.

Once, during the time of the High Holidays, an epidemic hit a community in Europe. The Doctors said the people must not fast on Yom Kippur. To prompt the people to eat when many were reluctant, the Rabbi got up in front of the entire congregation and ate food – telling them they were required to eat on Yom Kippur – because of the law of Venishmartem me’od et nafshotechem / You shall greatly guard your souls overrides the law of fasting on Yom kippur.

Once a rabbi – that was giving many dispensations for people to transgress the shabbat for health reasons – was asked – “Why are you so lenient regarding the law of Shabbat? The Rabbi responded – I am not lenient regarding the Law of Shabbat – I am Stringent regarding the law of “You shall surely Guard your soul!”

The Atheist’s Dilemma – There are No Atheists in a Fox Hole

Some people are old enough to remember screen static on old TV screens. When you would turn to a channel that had no broadcast signal – random color dots appeared on the entire screen – accompanied by a loud sound of static noise. You would quickly change channels to avoid the experience.

Now imagine – you are watching static on the screen. All of a sudden a full length movie with sound appears. Everything makes sense – the plot, the story-line, the actors, the shots.

So your friend turns to you and says “Wow! did you see that? All the random static tuned into a full-featured 2 hour movie.” What do you say to him?

Either you agree with him and say he’s a pretty intelligent person – he must know what he is saying? or Do you say – “Excuse me – i just plugged in the broadcast cable!” Just as it is completely illogical for random static to make a full length movie – it is completely illogical that random atoms will form perfect interacting world of order.

If a person thinks logically – he or she can come to the conclusion that G-d exists.

There are two possibilities – Either the World was created by a Super Intelligent Existence or It was formed through random atoms colliding.

The Random Theory

If you say that random atoms formed the world as it is today – you have a list of questions to deal with –

Is it possible for something as complex as DNA to be formed by random?

Where did the atoms come from?

How is movement and growth possible – if random atoms formed the first cell – it would be dead?

Where did the second third – and all the other trillions of cells come from?

Where did the earth come from?

Why is the world made in such a way that it seems to serve man?

Where did the big bang come from?

How is it possible that random growth and random atoms created similar beings found in nature like animals, plants, humans, rocks?

If everything was random how could you have two beings that reproduce with each other. Did random atoms form a male and a female that can interact perfectly together randomly?

I could go on. But there is a limited attention span of people reading articles.

An honest person answering the questions truthfully will come to the conclusion that it is impossible for the world to be formed by random atoms smashing into each other.

If one does believe it is possible – please take a 1,000 piece puzzle. Put it in a Pizza box and shake it. When it forms the completed puzzle please let us know.

Randomness does not create order.

There is tremendous order in the universe.

Believing in G-d

A person believes in G-d also encounters  questions like:

Who created G-d?

Why does evil exist?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why do religions – that seemingly represent G-d – commit atrocities?

Did G-d change his mind to form other religions?

if you have any other questions – please feel free to share them with us in the comments.

By the way of all religions only Judaism answers all the above questions satisfactory. But that’s not the Topic today. (Answers in short: No one created G-d. G-d created time; G-d gave man freedom of choice to choose between good and evil; What may appear bad is actually good; People following Judaism did never commit an atrocity sanctioned by the Torah; No. G-d does not change His mind – the Torah’s laws are still in effect – unchanged since they were given 3,300 years ago.)

The Atheist’s Dilemma

A person who wants or does not want to believe in G-d has the following dilemma:

If he or she believes in G-d, they will be expected by G-d to follow rules that might not agree with their lifestyle. So I can live a carefree existence – do what I want without feeling guilt.

If he or she does not believe in G-d, they will live a life devoid of prayer, understanding the reason behind world events, having a connection to a higher power, having a greater to turn to in times of need.

I think lacking a meaningful relationship with G-d – by conforming to the atheist doctrine is greatly more painful than living a life with prudent limits set by G-d.

You decide.

Doing Good When Others Do You Bad

Sufferance. Does it have a purpose?

Others cause us bad. What can you do?

You have three options. Suffer in Silence. Suffer and use the sufferance to take revenge. Use sufferance for the good.

Talking it Out

You suffer? Talk it out. In the olden days a person who had a heavy heart would talk it out with friends and family.

Psychologists vs. Family

Today, it’s more common than before to go to a psychiatrist. I am from the old school. I think a person should first talk with friends and family to get try to solve the problem or get the problem off their chest – then if they really need more help that cannot be provided by friends or family then a seeing a psychologist might be in order.

Choosing a Psychologist that has a Torah Outlook

Even in selecting a psychiatrist – a person must be concerned about his or her mentality, capabilities, reputation and hashkafa / Jewish philosophy.

A Torah Hashkafa is important because if a psychologist lacks one they might prompt the person do things against the Torah. Like if the psychologist is treating kleptomania (someone who steals) – he might say “steal from places that you won’t get caught.” Or reinforce his negative impulses.

Shock therapy

I met psychiatrist recently that mentioned he was able to help people – like those who wet their beds, young couples with marital concerns, victims of trauma – in a non-traditional manner. Instead of prolonging the therapy by delving into the person’s history and childhood – he goes to the root of the problem and helps them in one or two sessions rather than sessions lasting months or years.

He explained to me his method. Indeed it is very direct. But it is effective. You choose your method of treatment and whether you actually want to be treated.

The first step to solve a problem is to recognize there is a problem.

Unloading Your burden to the Rabbi

I feel that competent, reputable Orthodox Rabbis with a proper Torah Hashkafa are fit to solve relationship problems. Consulting them has four advantages over a psychologist. One is the Rabbi sees the picture according to a Torah perspective. He will give advice that is Correct halachically / according to Jewish Law and Hashkafically / according to Torah philosophy. Secondly He might be able to give spiritual reasons for the suffering. Three He may also take upon himself to pray for the person. Four – if he deems himself unfit – he will refer you to a competent professional – that he approves of.

Good G-d – Believe it is and will be good and it will be good

What we think is coincidence is actually carefully planned by G-d. We call it Hashgacha Pratit – Individual Supervision. Meaning that G-d watches over us particularly. Here are two recent examples:

I am in the middle of writing this article. Before 5 pm – I take a break to mail a package. Someone other than me put a CD in the player. The CD in the car plays. The rabbi – Rabbi Yigal Cohen – is talking exactly what I am writing about. He tells a story: He was giving a Shiur – a lecture to Israelis on coping with difficulties. After the lecture – a psychologist – who was nodding her head in agreement throughout the lecture – came up to him and said “I agreed with what you said during the lecture. I wanted to add a point. That many psychological problems come from a lack of understanding or faith in G-d.”

If we believe that all comes from G-d and all that G-d does is for our good – we can more easily cope with difficulties. Because there is a reason for all our difficulties. Because it is difficult – it doesn’t mean that it is bad. It is difficult to exercise, to climb a mountain – but afterwards your body is in better shape. When we encounter difficulties by believing G-d is doing things for our good and learning from the messages being sent – our attitude in life and personality gets in shape.

There are difficult and easy situations in life. But all are good – if sent by G-d. We just have to be able to see the good in the difficulties.

Example two that happened just recently: I usually leave the synagogue at a certain time.  I set up with a traveling mechanic to fix my brakes that day while I was in the synagogue. He came later than usual delaying my departure. In the interim a woman came to the synagogue – in a time when I would not usually be there – who told us that her maternal grandmother was Jewish. Apparently she did not know that she was Jewish because her mother was Jewish. We invited her to the synagogue and she said she would try to come.

Some would call this coincidence – the Torah calls it Hashgacha pratit / individual supervision.

What Does G-d Want from Me

In my lifetime I have suffered, like everyone. When I was about 13 I changed myself. My sufferings prompted me to improve. When faced with difficulties – I asked – why me? Why was I suffering when all my friends were having a great time. After much introspection, questioning and pain – I figured there must be a reason. I asked myself “What does G-d want from me?”

I figured that it was G-d that was sending the difficulties to prompt me to improve my ways. Yes at 13 I did have much to improve – my lifestyle, my life and Jewish philosophy / hashkafa, my attitude and my deeds. I started studying Torah to see what I could improve.

I started reading Jewish classics – like Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the fathers and learned I had much more to improve than I had thought. I learned Jewish laws. I started attending an orthodox synagogue regularly. I started keeping kosher. I was careful about wearing my tefillin daily and attending prayer services at the local orthodox synagogue. This was a gradual process that took years.

I made a point to grow every day. Learn Torah every day. Now – looking back – I can see the reasons for the difficulties and the suffering and feel that following the path to self-improvement through Torah – was instrumental in me leading a happier life today. I have a more positive attitude and life than I would have had I followed the crowd.

The suffering that prompted me to get better through Torah Judaism – was a springboard to making my life better.

Does a person grow only through adversity?

The first question a person should ask when suffering is – what message is G-d sending me to help me improve? At times it is a message for a very particular isssue or it could be a message that a person should improve in general. A quick and simple way for a Jew to determine what they should improve is to benchmark one’s actions and attitudes with what it says in Pirkei Avot and in Shulchan Aruch. For a Gentile / Non-Jew one should benchmark their actions and attitudes with what the Noahide laws from the Torah says.

Letting Go of the Grudge – Having Faith in G-d & the Woman who Forgave.

I heard of a story of a woman about 35 – who was not married. She said she wasn’t finding any prospective marriage mates. She went to her local Orthodox Rabbi and told him of her concern.

He asked – “Did you date someone and it didn’t work out?” She said “Yes. About a year ago I was going out with a great boy. We both liked each other. We were about to get married – and then his mother got involved and he broke off the wedding.”

The Rabbi asked “Did you forgive him?” She said “Yes. But I cannot forgive the mother. Why did she have to get involved and break off a good relationship.”

The Rabbi asked “Who do you think organizes relationships?”

She replied “Hash-m” / G-d.

“If that is the case why do you hold a grudge against his mother? If you believed that G-d organizes relationships – so he was the One also who helped the relationship to break off. You think it was the mother that broke it off. Hash-m was the One who broke it off. She was just an agent of Hash-m. Since you keep holding on to this grudge it means that you are under the impression that it was the mother that caused the break up. If you believe and accept that it was G-d that really the cause and she was just an agent forgive the mother with a full heart. This will show you put your belief that G-d is in control and does all for the best. And remember to call me when before you get married to invite me to your wedding.”

She then said aloud in front of the Rabbi “I Forgive her completely. I forgive her completely. I forgive her completely.”

Three months later he received the call that she was getting married.

She put her trust in Hash-m. Then Hash-m’s providence was invoked by her trusting in Him. She told the Rabbi then a fact that was pertinent to the story “A year ago my groom to be received a piece of paper with my phone number. He thought I was older than him – so he decided to meet other women for marriage. They didn’t work out. He was free to date again – when he happened to find the piece of paper with my phone number and decided to call me. He “happened” to find the paper after I forgave the mother of my former date.”

= = =

Postcsript:

Suffering For my people

I was prompted to write this article because of my suffering for a young woman – Ori Ansbacher, HYD (may G-d avenge her blood) – that was recently killed savagely by an Arab terrorist. This young woman loved people and peace. This terrorist killed her for the sole reason because she was Jewish.

How can we be consoled?

Anyone killed because they are Jewish – dies sanctifying the name of heaven. They get a high place in heaven. Apparently a Jew can say kaddish for her.

I still suffer. Who is guilty?

Many. Terrorists. People who support terrorists or terrorist organizations financially or by encouragement. People who don’t do enough to assure that these terrorists are punished. The schools and organizations that taught the Terrorists to hate Jews.

And unfortunately we ourselves.

If the Jews were united, If we would listen to the words of the Torah to be kind with one another and banish hatred among Jews – we would be able to deter these terrible acts.

What can we do

When such a crime occurs – apart from petitioning the authorities for new strong reforms take place against these acts of savagery – G-d wants us to correct ourselves on a personal level.

Let us be kinder to our fellow. Let us make peace among Jews. Let us learn more Torah. Let us take upon ourselves new mitzvot. Let us bring our fellow Jews closer to Torah and Mitzvot and at least we will have some kind of consolation.

Let’s propel ourselves in these deeds of goodness and mitzvot so we won’t need any difficult motivators anymore.

Afro-Sheep – Two Proofs of G-d’s Existence.

A Sheep lost in the forest. He survives on his own. 6 years later they find him – unshorn for all that time. His fleece covers him to the extent of it becoming a walking ball of wool.

He made news and broke some records with almost 40 kg of wool.

Apparently sheep need man. Without man you would have many more afro-sheep.

The question’s that arise are:

1) Was the sheep made for man for him to have nice wool suits and clothing?

2) Or was man created for the sheep – to shear it?

3) Or was there no creation? The sheep came into being by random molecules colliding together.

Proof 1 of G-d’s Existence

Logically and speaking rationally, proposition three is impossible. For it is impossible for random atoms to create a single celled organism – with the complex DNA structure found in a cell. Even more so random atoms cannot create a sheep.

So there must be a creator.

But perhaps you will say man was created to serve the sheep.

We would have to ask 2 other questions to determine – what creature was created for whom.

1) Who gets more benefit from the other – the man or the sheep?

The sheep gets food from man and gets sheared by man.

The man gets wool for warm clothing, carpets, blankets and more. Apparently man gets more benefit from the sheep than vice versa.

2) Who gets more benefit from the world – man or other creatures?

Trees don’t need man. They can live in their forest all their lives – be irrigated by rain – without need of human intervention.

Yet man does need trees – for building homes and other structures from their wood; for getting warmth by burning wood.

Fruits don’t need man. Man needs fruits for nutrition. Fruits and vegetables are the perfect size for man – that a man can hold them in his hand(s) and transport them.

Oil reserves don’t need man. Man needs oil reserves for their cars.

Sound does not need man. Man does need sound to communicate.

The sun does not need man. Man needs the sun for warmth.

You choose your creation and see if it benefits man or if man benefits it more.

Proof 2 – A World made for man was made not randomly happened

Apparently the world was created for man. This can be determined by logic.

If evidence shows that the world is primarily serving man, this points to the existence of a Creator that created man and his surroundings for his benefit

Cute Sheep. Isn’t it?