Kosher? For Sure.

Our Neshama (soul) which is the spiritual part of life, depends on food which is physical. How come? It should depend on something spiritual not physical. Kabala explains that all food that we eat has a spiritual part in it that goes to the Neshama. Kosher food has positive spirit and non-kosher food has negative spirit.

Eating kosher allows us to understand the reasons for mitzvot.  Once a woman asked a rabbi the reason for certain mitzvahs. He asked her to eat Kosher for a month and she would understand.

Eating develops in us certain traits of the animals we eat.  Kosher animals are usually docile.

Give the Guy a Chance to Save Face

In Parashat Tzav – G-d says
“…in the place you slaughter the Olah offering, slaughter the Sin offering … ” (Vayikra / Leviticus 6:18)

One reason this is done is to save the person bringing the Sin offering from embarrassment, So people won’t know what kind of offering a person brought. We should respect people’s feelings & give people leeway to allow them to save face.

My Friend, the Demon – Banishing Demons from Your Life

Do demons exist? A friend of mine said he met one.

He was in Florida in a spooky neighborhood late at night. He saw a person that seemed friendly enough. He spoke with them and invited them to talk with him & his friend in his hotel room. He told them to make themselves comfortable. When they took off their shoes, he noticed they had the feet of a chicken. He found a way to excuse himself. “I’m sorry – it’s getting late and I really have to go to sleep.”

3 Demonic Forces

  1. Yetzer hara – the evil inclination is an entity that tells you to do the wrong thing. Remember when a cartoon character had an ethical dilemma – a little angel and a devil resembling the character, appeared on each shoulder. The angel would tell him to do good, the devil bad. He usually listened to the devil and something bad happens to him. This concept is a Torah concept. A person has a Yetzer haTov – a good inclination and an evil inclination. One tells him do good, the other bad. If he does good he is rewarded and the opposite if he follows the advice of the bad.

The Reason for Temptation

The reason for these two inclinations is to give a person freedom of choice. If a person only did good – we would be robots and thus we would have no merit for choosing good. G-d gives us the ability to choose the good to be able to reward us. Thus temptation is an opportunity to become greater. Overcoming each one we become greater and greater.

Temptation is here to help us overcome it and be rewarded. Every time we overcome it we become a greater individual. We become closer to G-d and happiness. When we fail we become farther from G-d and our soul is tormented.

Pinpointing the Unknown Cause of Suffering

This is one reason why people suffer – yet do not know why – because their values are not aligned with Torah values. They satisfy their bodies and simultaneously torment their souls. They feel the sadness of the soul but cannot pinpoint where this sadness comes from. They try drugs, psychologists, alcohol. The simple solution is to align ones values with Torah. Obviously one with problems should consult with a competent and reputable Orthodox rabbi.

It is not doing what you feel is good that will make you happy. It is doing what the Torah says is good that will make you happy. Because you are your soul. Some things you think are good are not actually good according to Torah. Thus what you think may be good – but the Torah does not – may give sadness to the soul.

G-d knows what makes us happy and sad. He created us. And he is our Father. A father wants the happiness of his children. G-d does too. Thus he gave the Jewish people the Torah as the guide to find lasting meaning, happiness and good.

A person might think that having an affair is good. If one does – he or she will torment their  soul. They may think they had a good time physically but their soul is “bleeding.” Thus, a person becomes depressed. Not to mention all the negative repercussions that following the Yetzer HaRa attracts – divorce, hatred, sadness, broken friendships, quarrel, saddened children. Baruch Hash-m / Thank G-d, He gave us the opportunity for Teshuva / Repentance.

Solving Ethical Dilemmas

If it was only so easy that an angel and devil would appear on one shoulder for us to decide. We would just choose the “angel” and be happy. However, the Yetzer Hara / the evil inclination disguises himself as the angel. He tries to convince you that what is bad according to Torah is actually good and what is good according to Torah is actually bad.

Thus a person who does have an ethical dilemma, would be prudent to ask a respected Orthodox rabbi of the Torah’s position of a particular issue. Many people are flying around with values of the newspaper or their political orientation or their heart. Sometimes they are on target with what Torah says – sometimes not. The smart person, who wants to truly do right – will align their values to the will of G-d.

Torah Truth – the Million Man Proof

The only divinely given document – witnessed being given by millions of people is the Torah. No other religion claims this. Only Orthodox Judaism adheres strictly to the precepts of the Torah. Other movements and religions – will say “G-d changed his Mind” or “it is OK to change Torah”. Apparently they think they are smarter than G-d. Rationally speaking, G-d changing his mind is irrational. G-d who is omniscient / All knowing of past present and future will change his mind? Not rational.

The Religion Litmus Test

Some people search for a religion to follow. I always give the advice, if one is a Gentile – they should follow the & Noahide laws from Torah. If they really have an affinity for Judaism – so they should speak with a reputable Orthodox Rabbi to learn what how to go about a proper Orthodox Jewish conversion. A Litmus test to determine the veracity of a religion is to compare it to Torah. If a religion is saying “It is proper to make human sacrifices” and the Torah Says “It is forbidden to Kill” obviously the religion is not G-d’s will.

Negative Messages

The Yetzer HaRa wants to kill a person in this world and the next. Thus he implants in him or her  all kinds of negative thoughts and messages – “I am a nobody”, “I am worthless”, “no one likes me”, “I have no future”, “I have no hope for becoming better”, “It is important that I stay with this person because I love him”. He will pull you in all sorts of directions like a magnet pulling metal. The smart person will call his game. The smart person will think.

Overcoming one’s Negative Messages

Regarding Negative messages also – don’t accept things on face value. If the thought enters your mind – “I am a good for nothing” challenge it. Is that really true? I have many good qualities – I help old ladies with their shopping. I hold the elevator door. I say good morning to people. Perhaps its only the Yetzer HaRa talking to you. Discern, what is true and what is your yetzer Hara. Many suicides could have been prevented by a person countering these negative thoughts with positive ones.

Also if you do feel you are bad – because you did something – so improve. It is not a dead end street. You did something bad. OK. Now do Teshuva / Repentance. The four steps: 1. Confess to Hash-m. 2. Regret what you did. 3. Commit to doing Good. 4. And don’t do it again.

Changing Negative Messages to Positive

Some have a personal rule of – every negative comment they make against their spouse or children they must make five positive comments. Perhaps a person should adapt a similar rule for themselves – for every negative message they think – they should think five positive messages. That would prevent many suicides. Being positive, is what the Torah wants from a person. Implant positive messages into your thoughts. “I am smart.” “Help people.” “I learn Torah.” “I help others.” “I am smart.” “I am a good child.” Force yourself to smile. Being happy is what the Torah wants from you.

Overcoming the Yetzer HaRa

The greatest defense against it is to think things out. Discuss it. Speak with a Torah Scholar. Is it really good to give a terrorist nation a nuclear bomb? Am I really as bad as I think I am? Is it really in my best interest to follow a man or woman who is not your husband or wife? Is it really smart to bungy-jump over a river?

Past Experiences

Some live in the past. I remember the good old days. I used to be so happy. I was an engineer, now I am a cashier. I was so happy as a youth… I used to be able to shoot a basketball … Ok. Thank G-d for the past and move on.

Poor Me Syndrome

I know someone who feels badly for himself. He doesn’t have the Job he wants. He feels badly because he is still living the dreams of his youth. It is good to dream. Dream big. But do something about it. He tells you of his dreams and sulks of why he didn’t accomplish them. I told him – change your “Poor Me” in “I Can.” By feeling badly for yourself, it won’t change your situation. Take your life into your hands and start the day anew today. Don’t complain. Do practical things that will bring you closer to your goal. Instead of sulking that you have a dead end job. Take some adult education courses and make yourself more marketable. Sulking is another – tool of the Yetzer Hara to make you depressed and curtail your growth.

The Path to Happiness – Giving Happiness to the Soul

But Torah gives you the path to Happiness. But it is not always the easy path. At times it is challenging. In the long term a person achieves that. At times a person has to purge themselves from the bad.

The Torah even gives a simple formula. Remove [yourself] from bad and do good. First however one must know what is bad and good in G-d’s eyes. Sometimes what feels good is not good in the eyes of G-d. So a religion based upon what feels good or right – might be totally off. Totally against G-d’s will. Thus to really know a Gentile studies the Noahide laws and a Jew studies the Shulchan Aruch.

2. Real Demons – Apparently there are physical demons and others that are invisible or perhaps they can make themselves visible. I don’t know.

In the Talmud it teaches how to see demons. I seriously suggest you not try it. One person who did was so scared he almost went insane – until the Rabbis prayed for him and he lost the ability to see them. Apparently animals can see them. If you hear dogs bark when you pass the might either see you as a predator or they see the evil forces surrounding you. But I don’t want to scare you too much.

King Solomon was replaced by a Demon that made himself look just like him. King Solomon wandered for years until he got back to the palace. When he returned, His advisors did not know who was the real King Solomon. The King – who looked like a pauper – told his advisors – to find out if someone saw the imposter’s feet. They verified and found out that he hid his feet – to avoid showing the chicken feet.

If divorced, don’t start trying to check your former spouse’s feet. They are most likely human.

Once I was in France. I was sleeping alone in a room. I put on the light. I was a bit reassured, because the great Torah commentator Rashi, said “There are no Demons in France.” So I wasn’t so worried.

Later I learned that it is possible that previous to Rashi, there were demons in France. But Since the great Rashi declared that there are no demons – they were banished from France. Another thing I heard – France at the time of Rashi had different borders then than it does today. Thus check out the borders of then before you stay alone in France. Just Joking. Demons don’t like noise or light.

Some don’t take hot showers after mid-night (the mid point between dusk and dawn – not necessarily – 12:00 am), because they say that they hang out in the plumbing outlets of the sink and tubs. Pouring hot water on them may get them angry.

Superstition? I don’t know? In any case, a Jew is not to follow superstitions. So one must sort out what is true and what is superstition.

3. “Friends” who Give Bad Advice – Someone I know was planning to get engaged to a nice young man. The friend who had a bone to pick, possibly jealous of her, convinced her to decline the engagement. She did. The girl regretted sorely listening to her friend.

I heard another story of a woman married to a Cohen. A Cohen is not allowed to marry any divorcee. So, Once he divorces his own wife, she can never remarry him. A regular Jewish man is allowed to remarry his former wife. Provided she did not marry anyone else in the interim.

Her Friends convinced her that she should divorce her husband. Her father-in-law tried to dissuade her. She was adamant. She got divorced. She regretted. She could never remarry her former husband. She listened to friends and lost, living the rest of her life in solitude.

A lesson – listen to those that care for you. Take Torah advice – from those knowledgeable, pray to Hash-m that you find His truth and G-d will help you banish all your demons.

Don’t Jump – We Love You Too Much

I was walking down the street to work. A man was standing on the small tree guard – about a foot high – protecting the grass and tree from people and dogs walking on the sidewalk. I told him “Don’t Jump!” He smiled.

Unfortunately there are people who do jump, but from higher heights. They see life as pointless. Their problems seem too heavy to bear. They feel that people don’t consider them or G-d Forbid, that G-d forgot them.

Neither is usually true. G-d loves all his creatures. G-d doesn’t want the death of the evil person – He wants a person to return from their bad ways. A person can commit to improve and G-d will forgive him or her. G-d will erase the slate. And the person will start with a new day, a new slate, a new life.

I was in such a situation. I was a good looking young man. People used to tell me. When I had skin problems, I was devastated. I became a hermit. I avoided friends and social gatherings. I secluded myself in my house. I didn’t know where to turn.

I finally thought it out – and even though I thought I was “good”, I found out that G-d was sending me a message – telling me to improve. I realized – I wasn’t so careful about hurting others feelings. I realized I was lax in observing Torah. I realized I had to improve my relations between me and people and me and G-d.

Little by little, by studying Torah, I realized that every person has a special purpose in life. Every person is unique. Every person is indispensable – because no one else can accomplish what you or me can accomplish in life. We are all unique. We all have a special role in life.

My role I discovered in Torah. I learned Pirkei Avot. I realigned my values with Torah. Though it is a challenging journey to self-improvement according to Torah. Apparently a gentile can learn their role in life by learning the 7  Noahide laws from the Torah. A Jew learns the Shulhan Aruch / Code of Jewish Law to find their role.

When my father died – I was also devastated. When a parent dies – we make a special blessing – “Blessed are you G-d, King of the Universe, the True Judge.” G-d know what is good. We are to know that all that G-d does is for the good.

I found comfort in that and that other people passed the same travail and they overcame it. They were able to cope. I was too able.

Patience will get you far. Once a manic-depressive asked King Solomon – I am a person that at times I am very happy and times very sad – how can you help me? King Solomon gave him a ring that sad three word in hebrew “Gam Zu Yaavor” – Also this will pass.

Difficult times will pass. Good times will pass. The only thing we are left with is the good we do in this life.

Don’t worry – someone loves you. Either a parent. A friend. A family member. If you have difficulties – speak with them. Suicide is never a solution – solving the problem is the solution. Look for the causes and you’ll find a solution. Turn to Hash-m / G-d and He will take you out of your troubles. He always does. You just have to make an effort and pray.



What are the benefits of living an “Orthodox” Jewish lifestyle?

Someone asked a question on another site. I was tempted to answer it. The question:

What are the benefits of living an “Ultra-Orthodox” lifestyle?

Here is the way I would answer.

G-d created man with a soul and a body. The soul is the essence of the person. When the soul is happy the person is happy. Torah is what gives happiness to the soul. The Torah in essence guides you through its laws to be your true self.

When you are your true self – you are truly happy. No trying to imitate the stars. No trying to catch up with the Jones.

[Orthodox] Judaism gives a person a fulfilling life that satisfies the soul of a person. Thus a person is in touch with himself and ultimately finds true happiness. A Gallup poll presented a survey recently that showed that those that follow Torah are happiest out of all other groups in America. They live a fulfilling life, a family life a life with a close knit community. Torah is the only – divine document in which millions of people heard G-d speaking at mount Sinai. Torah is not religion. Torah is Life.

There are four questions  that a person can ask to find the veracity of Torah and find out what G-d wants from you. Jews & Gentiles can observe Torah. Gentiles Observe the 7 Noahide Laws.  Jews Observe the 10 commandments & Shulchan Aruch. Those who follow Torah have a life that G-d / Hash-m is center of their lives and thus they live a life of meaning and purpose.

As to the difficulty of finding a Job for lack of marketable skills – G-d helps in that domain as well.



Personally, I do not regard by the man-made terminologies of “Orthodox, Reform, Conservative..” . When a baby is born he or she is not “Orthodox” or “Conservative.”  They are considered Jewish if their mother is Jewish. Judaism is also clearly defined by the Torah – by looking what it says in the Shulchan Aruch by Rav Yosef Caro. It defines very clearly, what is expected of each Jew. As for what is expected of every Gentile see the Rambam – Mishne Torah (Hilchot Melachim, ch 9-10). As an aside – In chapter 11 it also explains the requirements for a person to be the Messiah.

Renewing Yourself Monthly

In Parasha haHodesh (Shemot /Exodus 12:1-20) that we read this week – we find “This shall be head of month…”. Hodesh is month in Hebrew.  It can also be read Hadash – NEW.

Every month we have a chance to Renew ourselves and  our commitment to Hashem and mitzvot.  Each month [& day] G.d gives us a new opportunity for self improvement. Thus some do Yom Kippur Katan / Mini-Yom Kippur Erev Rosh Hodesh / Beginning of Hebrew Month.

You are Here to Serve Me – What is Right & Wrong?

When a Child is born, he or she is so cute and cuddly.

You get a new addiction. Addiction to the baby.

The baby cannot do much for himself.

He cannot get food. Cannot move from one place to another. Relies on you to burp him and change diapers.

Basically, your role as a parent is to serve the baby.

Some think they received a new toy, but really they should ask who is really the “master” and who is there to serve?

It is an existential question “Are we the master of our tools or are our tools our master?” A good example is a cell phone. But that’s not the subject.

To truly realize what our role is – we the a look at the Torah.

The Torah gives a commandment for children to Honor their parents.

Our obligation to honor our parents – which means basically to do their will (obviously as long as it does not contradict the laws of the Torah) – teaches us the tremendous gratitude due to our parents.

As much as it teaches us our obligations towards our parents, it also teaches us our great gratitude due to Hash-m. Hash-m / G-d brought us into the world, gives us life, gives us ear to breath, water, clothes, a job, money, a house, a car, everything.

So what does a person do – “I want my child to get the best secular education.” Good. Very Good. But what about morality. What about Torah values?

“I want to let them choose.” The problem is is that children learn most of their values by the time they are three. If you are watching sports – and your neighbor is having a Shabbat Meal with the family – Your child will learn the value of sports. His child will learn the value of Shabbat, family and respect of G-d – doing the Shabbat is one of the 10 commandments for Jews (Gentiles do not observe the Sabbath – according to the 7 Noahide laws.) If you talk politics all day long – your child will learn to be a politician. If you teach them to be kind to all people they will learn to be tolerant. If you teach them to accept the VALUES of all all people – they will learn to be degenerate. Some people’s values are to be cannibles or to do human sacrifices or to do terrorist acts.

People should respect people. But their values should be clear – of what is acceptable and what is not. What is right and wrong? Only G-d Knows.

That’s why He gave us a Torah to teach us proper values. The Torah is the only divinely given law that millions of people witnessed its giving. When the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai.

The first one to serve is G-d / Hash-m. Then Yourself. Or others. Do this and you will be happy.

The Hidden Killer Within – Jealousy

Jealous people. What do they want from me?

Jealousy and many emotional problems – start from one source. Low self-esteem. I want to have what another has – because I want a life like the other people.

OK. But it doesn’t mean you have to put the others down. Or make the other’s life miserable. Uplift yourself. Try to feel good about yourself. Don’t bring others down. Bring yourself up.

Jealousy rots the bones.

A Jealous person’s life is not life. It says it straight in Pirkei Avot:

Jealousy, [pursuit of] desires and honor – remove a person from the world.

Apparently a person who lives with any of the three – will end up living their lives based upon others. Their happiness is in the hands of others. It is a dependent happiness. It is not an independent happiness. Others control their life.

But there is another death that occurs with Jealousy. A person, instead of trying to be the best they can be – in terms of improving their character traits and relations between people and G-d – they get caught in the one-upsman game. I have this. You only have that? Creating quarrels but not doing good to the world or themselves. They use their life to seek approval – but don’t accomplish their potential – what greater death is there than that of Killing their potential or creativity or Torah development for silly quarrels?

Be happy with what you have. Be happy with yourself. Improve Yourself. Don’t put down others. Make yourself better. And be happy with who you are.

One reason why people are unhappy – is because a person is composed of a soul and a body. A body has no desires. It is a physical object that is being given life by a soul provided by Hash-m.

The soul is comprised of several souls. There is a soul that is more geared towards – materialism. And other souls that are more spiritual in nature.

If a person feels depressed, it might be a sign that they need to uplift their soul – with more spiritual pursuits. Like to do kindness and follow Torah.

The best place to start is to learn the Noahide laws for a Gentile or to learn the Shulchan Aruch / Code of Jewish law for Jews.

Lifting up your soul – will lift up your morale and you will not seek approval from others – but rather seek approval from Hash-m / G-d.

D’var Torah on Ki Tisa

In parasha Ki Tisa (in Shemot / Exodus) it says

When you count the heads of the children of Israel  .. and you shall give an atonement for your souls & there will not be a plague…”  We do not count Jews by a having a headcount. Each gives Half a shekel and they are counted,  in order not to have a plague.  When one counts,  one limits the Berakha.

Another explanation is: The word for count is Tisa, which also means to uplift. When a person uplifts himself and other people by him growing & helping others to grow in Mitzvot, Torah study and giving tzedaka,  he prevents plagues and other bad things from happening in the first place.

The Chofetz Chaim was asked to donate a fixed price for each bed in new a hospital.  He said he would give a large number. They asked how could he afford that.  He replied by me studying Torah,  there will not need that amount of beds – for people will not become ill. 

Venatenu – in Hebrew for “and you shall give” can be read the same way frontwards and backwards.  A person who gives to a proper Torah charity will receive the money back – usually many times more.*

Using Happiness to Eclipse Problems

A person has much to be thankful for. Regardless of what situation a person is in – and I am not judging those in pain – one can find at least one thing for which to be thankful – that they are alive. We create the reality that we are living by our attitude.

You have a “Poor Me” attitude – you will be sad. You have a “Thank G-d” attitude, you will be happy.

But some things annoy us in life. We all pass difficulties. I recently received a ticket. Yes, upsetting. But deep down I knew G-d had a reason. A reason for my best interest. So I felt a bit consoled.

Here is story I heard recently from the book “Living Emunah 2” – By Rabbi David Ashear. (p 168-170)

Once a person took upon himself a stringency to be careful not to sit next to a person of the opposite gender in a plane – to avoid temptation and bad thoughts. He got on to the airport early – to assure that the ticketing agent would book him next to a man. On the plane he realized that his seat was next to a woman.

He asked the stewardess if he could change his seat. She didn’t want to bother – so she told him “I am sorry that is impossible. If you do not stay in your seat, you will have to leave the plane and your baggages will not be removed from this plane and you will have to purchase another ticket.”

He responded calmly – “Ok. I guess I’ll get off the plane.” A bystander got up and said – “This person will not leave the plane! If he gets off I will get off! And I will take my baggages with me. I will make you go through all the baggages to get my baggages off the plane! You will be delayed until you find them!” The stewardess backed down from her “Don’t bother me” attitude. It took her a couple minutes to arrange seating that would accommodate the man.

After the flight the Jewish man went over to the other man. “I want to thank you for standing up for me. I Appreciate your effort.” The man responded “No problem. Really, I didn’t do it for you. I did it for me.”

He told him the following story –


“I have a friend. He was driving a Jewish passenger in his relatively new Taxi cab – he was an observant Jew. The car stalled and he wasn’t able to restart it. He assured the passenger that he’d be able to get him to the airport on time. He started tinkering with engine – He thought it was a minor problem. Finally when he realized time was short, he flagged down another cab for the passenger and they both got into the cab to London Heathrow Airport. They rushed to the gate. My friend pleaded with the gate attendants to let him on. They declined “Sorry – too late.”

He booked another flight and the cabbie went back to his cab. Surprisingly the taxi started immediately upon ignition. A few hours later they heard the news that the flight he was to take – exploded and all the passengers were killed. This was Pan Am flight 103, which was blown up over Lockerbie, England by a terrorist attack.

“From that story I realized that your G-d protects His people.” The man said. “So when I saw you boarding this flight I felt good, knowing everything would be Okay. But when I saw you were getting off, I got very scared and decided if you are leaving, I’m leaving too.”

A parent sometimes scolds a child. Sometimes he may even hit him. But the child understands that it is for the good – and although the scolding may hurt he understands that it is for his best interest.

When one’s child walks into the room – he can think “ok. what does he want now.” or “wow how great is G-d for giving me a child.” When he walks into his house he can think “I hope dinner is ready.” or “Wow. What a blessing G-d has given me such a house.” When he walks to the subway he can think “It’s so cold out” or “Wow. G-d is kind for giving me the ability to walk.”

If we were to look at all the blessings we have at the time we are annoyed or upset, we would let it slide. Our happiness would eclipse our sadness. Our happiness would eclipse our difficulties – especially knowing that G-d is a good G-d that will do the best for you.

Keep Smiling! You’re Alive!