The Religion of Secularism & the Congregation of Conformists

w-edwards-deming-it-is-not-enough-to-do-your-best-you-must-know-what-to-do-and-then-do-your-best1In the quality revolution companies adopted new programs to improve the quality of world manufacturing and service industries. One such a program is called Continuous Improvement.

Using quality circles and quality tools employees aim to continuously improve production quality and efficiency.

Continuous Improvement is a Torah Concept.

In Torah, Either you are growing or falling. Staying the status quo is equivalent to stagnation.

Keeping to your ideas because you inherited them from your parents is stagnation.

Following the trends is stagnation.

Many hold tight to their ideas because they are popular. Many hold onto ideas because it is convenient. It feels right.

But this is lack of using a precious recource called the brain.

Conforming is a bit of death to one’s individuality. I let go of what I am to be accepted.

Living a life void of Torah is a religion.

It is the religion of conformity. What I feel is good is good, even though it is not particularly good.

Secularism is a religion. It’s the religion of following whatever is comfortable. It leads to falling to the lowest common denominator. What is acceptable to one group and unacceptable by another becomes acceptable to society. What is unacceptable in one year becomes acceptable the next year – until society falls into the abyss of immorality. That is what happened in Sodom. Giving charity became forbidden. Doing Kindness became forbidden. Their moral compass became corrupt. Their morality became ridiculous.

Once Eliezer – the Servant of Avraham Avinu / Abraham our forefather went to Sodom. He brought a man to the Court of Law because – he threw a rock at him. The Judge ordered Eliezer to pay the man who wounded him. He said to Eliezer – “You owe this man money. He performed beneficial bloodletting for you.” Eliezer, appalled at the justice, took a rock and threw it at the judge. He told the Judge “Now you owe me money for bloodletting! Pay the man that you said I owe money.”

The destruction of the People of Sodom was sealed for what they did to a young girl who gave food to a poor person. Doing kindness to strangers was forbidden. They took her – smeared her with honey and hung her up until bees stung her to death. Her cries to G-d caused Sodom’s fate to be sealed.”

Following truth is not religion. It is using one’s mind to do the true.

Thinking out our actions is what G.d wants from us. This is what ultimately makes us free. Free from the shackles of fad and fashion. Free from the shackles of conformity.

Sims Clothing used to have a slogan “Our best customer is an educated consumer”

A Jew’s obligation in Torah is to follow Shulchan Aruch – the Jewish Code of Law. A Gentile is to follow their 7 Noahide Laws from the Torah. This is the beginning of freedom.

This is the meaning of Pirkei Avot :

“The only free person is the one who delves into Torah.”

Why? because most people follow their desires. The Torah teaches us how to overcome our base wants to become a more noble individual. This is true freedom.

Your Evil Twin – Overpowering the Bad

balancescaleThere is a balance in the world.

Where there is truth – on the other side there is falsity.

There is kindness and cruelty.

Holiness and there is a void of holiness.

Spirituality and materialism.

Purity & impurity.

G-d made it such so that one will be able to use one’s freedom of choice to choose.

There is good and evil.

One chooses to be good or evil.

Once Rabbi Aaron Monsonego was bothered by why many holy books / sefarim of Morocco were lost. They were either burned or lost from circulation. He read in the Sefer / book of R. Yoel Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe (possibly his work ‘Divrei Yoel’) – that holy books may be lost from circulation because if they were to be published – a book of heresy would also have to be published to balance this Holiness out. To prevent such great heretical books to be published – that would lead people astray from the good path of Torah – G-d prevented great holy books from being published. The Rabbi was appeased with this answer.

I once heard a story that some people have an evil twin that do things evil. I forgot the details – but I do remember that it was a great Rabbi – that an Arab Sultan saw him wandering on the temple mount in Jerusalem – a practice forbidden to Jews – because we must go up to the temple mount in a high state of purity – and we will not have the capability to reach that high state until the Messiah comes and we find the Red Heifer. The rabbi told him that that was his evil twin.

Each person has a person matched with them that is either of good – if one is evil, or evil if one is good – apparently to keep the balance in the world.

I once heard from a Rabbi that Rabbi Shlomo Friefeld, the founder of Shor Yoshuv Yeshiva – was interested in Russian News. Once he saw that the Iron Curtain fell. He said that he had a counterpart in Russia – and that it was possible that his good deeds had an effect in causing the Iron curtain to fall.

Apparently the more good we do nullifies the power of the evil counterpart. Apparently if we fall into the trap of evil, then evil is given more power.

Inside a person is a good inclination and an evil inclination. This is to balance the choice. The more one overcomes evil – the stronger his or her “good” muscles become.

Apparently certain people are given qualities. They can be used for good or evil.

A person can be intelligent – they can use the intelligence to learn Torah or become a heretic.

A person can be good hearted – they can use that to do kindness or be kind to those who must be punished.

Some are emotional – they can feel for others or getting angry.

Some people are tried with money – one can be generous or stingy.

You are good.

G-d gave us the guidebook on what it means to be good – the Torah.

Jews have the 613 commandments. Gentiles have the 7 Noahide laws.

It is up to us to choose the good.

Face Reading – A Window to the Soul

3d-view-from-window-backgrounds-wallpapersOnce a ruler wanted to know how Moshe Rabbeinu / Moses looked. He summoned a painter to paint a picture of him. Looking at the picture – the ruler said – this cannot be Moshe. This person gets angry, can be violent and has other negative tendencies. The ruler was right – Moses by nature had these negative tendencies – but he overcame them.

This is our Job in life to overcome our negative tendencies and use our positive traits to reach or potential in perfecting the world with the guidance of the Torah.

Some people say – just accept me the way I am. But really, everyone can improve.

Using Face Reading for Sensitivity

The basic principle of the Torah is to love a fellow like one’s self. In order to do that – one is attuned to the needs of others.

Once a Rabbi & Director of a School in Israel (I believe it was R. Aryeh Levine – the Tzadik of Yerushalayim / Righteous person from Jerusalem) was watching children enter the school building. He asked his son: “What do you see?” He replied – this one has a nice book bag, this one has a ball, this one has a hole in his pants… His father replied – I see this one is happy to come to school, this one did not have a good breakfast, this one was upset by a family member. He was looking at the needs of others to be able to help them in the way that he could.

To one he would give breakfast, another a kind word, another a pat on the shoulder. This is a goal for us as well to better ourselves – to be attuned to the needs of others. One way is through face reading.

Face Reading Secrets for Successful Relationships Lecture

The face is the window to a person’s soul. The Hebrew word for face – פנים panim also means the inside. With Face Reading one is able to understand the ways people think, the reasons for their behavior, and the means to satisfy their needs. Face Reading or Human Morphology is used by human resource directors to determine the personality of job applicants. The married use it to explore the feelings of their spouse. Singles use it to gain an idea of the potential mate’s personality.

Dr. Peter Reznik, LCSW, Ph.D. Author of “Face Reading Secrets for Successful Relationships: A guidebook to understanding yourself and others” gave a Free lecture on Face Reading in Forest Hills – MJO Shaar HaShamayim Synagogue.

He Explained the 4 personality types – Bilious, Sanguine, Nervous & Lymphatic. Each one has unique qualities associated with them. Bilious is results oriented and likes to be right. Bilious is less-social but positively pessimistic. Lymphatic – is kind and sensitive. Sanguine is the sports person. Nervous is social but negatively pessimistic. Based upon the shape of someone’s face one can determine the other’s unique personality traits.

He gave examples of each temperament using contemporary popular personalities.

Using this powerful tool he explained how one gains vital, life saving knowledge. Human Morphology can help one to resolve misunderstandings and power struggles in existing relationships. Morphology can aid in the start off a new relationship with someone who has character traits that complement one’s own temperament and personality;

Singles & Face Reading

Today, singles use a plethora of aids to find out about their potential mate. The ask references – like teachers, co-workers & friends. They examine their dating resume. Now they have a new technique – Face Reading – to help them determine if the person before them is a potential marriage partner.

Although one cannot read minds, one could still tell what a friend is thinking with face reading. You can tell the aspects of a person’s personality or his or her thoughts based upon cues from the person’s face.

What can a single glance tell you about a person? If you know what to look for…PLENTY! The Science and Art of Face Reading (Human Morphology) is a key to discovering essential information about the people in your life, the people you are going to meet and yourself! There are references to Face Reading in the book of Shemot / Exodus, the book of Yehsahya/ Isaiah, Kohelet / Ecclesiastes and Zohar.

The Lecture is a part of New Community Outreach initiative of the MJO / Shaar Hashamayim Synagogue in Forest Hills. The initiative includes – programs for children – like children’s Shabbat Parties, Hebrew School & Father & Son Learning. Adults participate in Services, Shabbat Lunches & Sunday Breakfasts & Free Torah Study for Teens & Adults. This Lecture was followed by a chance to speak with the Author. For More Info please contact – MJO Shaar HaShamayim Synagogue, 112-21 72nd Ave, Forest Hills, NY 11375. 718.962.4872

If one would like the recording please email us at

How to Be Me – the Keys to Reaching Your Potential

ladder-to-the-skyYoung. Bold. And daring, I didn’t care to conform to the norm. I used to wear two different color sneakers. I believe one was red, the other black. I wore two watches on one wrist and a Felix the cat hat. In university, i got stares, but after a quick look they would continue on their way.

No matter. I didn’t care what people thought. But i did care what people felt.

I don’t think anyone ever asked me why i dressed such.

I was making a statement. Nothing about fashion. It was about not conforming to society. My clothes were to get people to think. But apparently no one got it.

I subscribed to the old adage that parents use to make the children feel guilty or at least hope to make them feel guilty for mimicking a no-no of their friend “If your friend jumped out the window would you do the same?”

Be Yourself

Other students also were different, but apparently for another reason – to fit into the cool group. It was cool to be different. But that reason was antithesis to being unique. They were being unique to belong. I was being different to say to the world “Don’t just follow. Be Yourself!”

There was a method to my distinctiveness.

Many years later I find myself alone in my mission. Many of my acquaintances faded away into their own lives. Faded into the background of conformity. Passed that stage of life or just matured. Each one going their own way.

The Problem of Conforming

So what’s so bad about conforming?

Nothing, if you are conforming for the good.

On the other hand conforming can destroy, when many people do the popular, without thought of the long term negative effects.

I mimic my newspaper. I mimic my society. I mimic my work associates. The best way to melt into the melting pot and dissolve your own uniqueness.

For a person to be happy, they must be themselves. In trying to belong they gain friends but lose themselves.

Like a rabbi I know said “If you try to be like others, you are not the other. You are not yourself. You are nobody.”

Strong, but true.

How To Be Me

Being oneself starts with asking questions. The Torah tells you to question.

Is it right? Is it wrong?
Is it good? Is it bad?
Is it good for society or not?
Is it in my best interest?
Is it good for the long term education & upbringing of my kids?
Does it make sense?
Am I accomplishing the good that I can be or am I wasting my time?
Am i being myself? Or am i being a clone?
Am I achieving my purpose? Do I know my purpose?
Am I achieving my potential?
Am I true to myself?
Am I true to my G.d?
Am I fair? Or am I biased?
Do I hate? Why? Is the hate justified? Are my emotions driving my behavior?
Are my thoughts consistent with G-d’s view?
Are my views and actions consistent with Torah halacha / law?

Am I afraid of truth?
Am I afraid of Judaism?
Do I put Judaism into a stereotype of religions?
Is my religion true? How Do I know?

Is there one true law of G-d?

What does G-d want from me?

What is the true law of G-d? Why?

Am I being biased by my upbringing, newspapers I read, society I live in?

Do I care? Are my positions rational?
Do I believe in G.d?
Do I recognize the kindness of G.d to me on a daily basis?
Do I recognize my blessings?
Am I consistent?
Am I being me? Or am I just doing the convenient swinging from one branch of pleasure to another going around in circles?

How do I Perceive Myself? How do others Perceive me?

What are others attitudes towards me?

Is my Torah observance correct in the eyes of G.d?
Am I or am I not?

The Torah is the guidepost that G.d gave us to determine if we are achieving.

Truth – the Antidote to Conformity & Secret to Living

What is the path to not conform? It is to do the truth. Many people following religions without thinking fall into the category of conformists. I do it because others do it. Before one does one should see if it makes sense. Is it the right thing to do in the eyes of men & G-d? Liberalism, Capitalism – all the “ism”s can be regarded as a religion. The only one that cannot is following the path of truth and goodness.

Mercy can be cruelty. If one is merciful with a terrorist – he is cruel with the society. Being merciful – is good – if the repercussions are taken into account. But Being merciful – just because one’s heart says so – may lead to cruelty.

Liberalism is letting people do what they want. Yes, that is fine as long as it does not impinge on the long-term good for the society. Who knows what is good for the Society in the long-term? G-d – who wrote the Torah.

Thinking out Your Position Before You Adapt it

Let’s take same gender marriage. G-d says – No for it is forbidden in the Seven Noahide Laws. The US Supreme Court says Yes. In Ancient Rome – same gender relations caused the dwindling of the population that lead to it’s destruction. Lack of population growth lead them to take mercenary soldiers – soldiers that they had to pay from other nations – which lead to their downfall.

But worse than that is same gender relations causes a person to lose his potential. A person’s goal in life is to bring the most good to the world as possible – using his qualities & talents. Part of that is bringing children to the world. Same gender marriages – prevent children from coming into the world. A person who chooses same gender marriage – prevents unique children from coming into the world. Their choice may prevent an Einstein or a Motzart from entering the world. Their choice is in essence selfish – for although they please themselves – they withhold beautiful children from entering into the world.

Those are just some examples.

Abandoning the Religion of Secularism & the Congregation of Conformists
Secularism is a religion. It’s the religion of following whatever is comfortable. It leads to falling to the lowest common denominator. What is acceptable to one group and unacceptable by another becomes acceptable to society. What is unacceptable in one year becomes acceptable the next year – until society falls into the abyss of immorality. That is what happened in Sodom. Giving charity became forbidden.

Truth is not a religion. G-d is truth. The truth He gave is in the Torah. So in reality Judaism is not a religion – it is truth.

When a person puts his mind on hold for what is popular and acceptable – they do disservice to the world. But even more so, they do disservice to themselves. For they veer off the path of what they are to achieve in this world.

Truth – the Secret to Achieving one’s Potential

The first Jew was Abraham. He changed the world because he dared to question. He questioned the rationality of idolatry. He questioned The “righteousness” of sacrificing children. He questioned to determine who is the true G.d of the world.

He was a pillar of Kindness & he always followed truth. He was a beacon of hospitality – whose house was open on four sides to strangers. He reached his potential for doing good through the pursuit of truth and kindness.

Apparently that is the role of the Messiah. He will get the people to think.

In the interim we have the Torah and Torah scholars as guides.

We need an Abraham in this world today.

Money – the Great Builder & Destroyer

2011_moh_coin_-_gold_proof_obversePeople want money.

ok. good. i have a million dollars.

now what? i am not going to parade with my bank statement on my lapel.

i’d rather be the son of a king – without worry about my account. no need to check how much i have, because my account is unlimited.

Emunah / Faith in Hash-m – the Unlimited Bank Account

those who have emunah – faith in Hash-m / g-d – are sons and daughters of the King of Kings. So, in reality they have an unlimited bank account. If you believe it will be good, it will be good. If you believe in Hash-m enough, you can have what you want.

once a rabbi was discussing with another rabbi – whether one must need a particular thing and believe that G-d will give it to him (if he has faith in G-d) – or is the need irrelevant – and G-d will give a person what he wants regardless if the person needs the object. the rabbi defending the no need position said “Look. I don’t need a gold watch. but i believe G-d is going to give it to me.” A short time later, someone knocked on the door. The man said “Rabbi. We were discussing an inheritance of our family. We couldn’t decide who would receive the Gold watch. So we decided we would give it to you, the Rabbi!”

so really – you don’t need a bank account – if you have enough faith in Hash-m. But you must be on the level. That’s why I carry a debit card.

my rebbe used to say – once a rabbi would make money – by finding lost money in the street. he believed – he found.

i am not on that level – but having simple faith can open doors that seem to be locked.

money is not evil

money is like fire. it can be used to build or to destroy. one can give money for charity, to a poor person, a worthy Torah institution or Yeshiva. Or it can be used for gambling, alcohol, or other vices.

Spending on Priorities

some people spend money for luxuries but skimp on necessities

i believe – that a necessity today for the spiritual upbringing of the children is – a solid Torah Day School. Some will spend thousands on a vacation, a wedding, a car – but when it comes to Torah education – they send children to the most convenient, free school. When one spends – priorities should come first.

Stinginess & Destruction

People can use their money for good. Or they can hoard it.

Once a ruler – spent the treasuries his family amassed to give to poor people. When they complained, He said to them – you didn’t benefit from your money, i did benefit from the money (i spent it for a mitzvah – of which the reward is eternal). You lost your money, I saved the money (in an account in heaven). You put it in place that it had to be guarded, i put it in a place where it needs not be guarded.

There are people that are penny-wise but dollar foolish. They refuse to get married because they don’t want to spend on their spouse. They destroy their marriage, because they are demanding to the penny about spending. There is a category of people that their money is like their blood. Interesting – in Hebrew blood & money – have a common word – Damim. Damim in Hebrew means blood & money.

In Pirkei Avot it says “Who is Rich? The one who is content with their lot.” (Chapter 2:1)

A friend told me – if one puts their faith in money or makes their happiness dependant upon money – if their stock goes up – they are happy. If it goes down – they are sad. When one puts their faith in Hash-m – regardless of the stocks going up or down – one will be happy. Because he or she knows that all that the Merciful One (Hash-m) does – He does for the good.

Giving Priorities

Priorities exist in giving – one should give to a close family member before a stranger. One Should give to members of his community before other communities. One Should give to people following Torah before those that do not. One should give to Torah institutions before giving to Secular institutions.

One should know where his or her money is going to help others.

Be big. Give to the Poor. Give to the Torah institutions. You chase them. Don’t let them chase you. Do good with your money.

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball – the Secret of Real Success

colored_glass_balls_of_colorSuccess. Oh the Glory. The Power. The Popularity. Great – isn’t it?

Success comes with hard work. Most people want to be rich – but are armchair quarterbacks. I’ll just buy the lotto – and who knows? Maybe I’ll win. But really to be a success – you have to want it. Really want it. Really want to make it. Really want that job. Really want to become a Torah Scholar. Make sincere, diligent, strong efforts towards your goal & Pray to Hash-m – and you’ll make it.

But really – before you start – the real question you want to ask is what is success?

Apparently there is financial success. But being wealthy does not usually solve your problems. You buy bigger toys and are in bigger debt. Get rid of the “if only” and start enjoying life.

Real success is being a good person. Ask any person – would you consider a person makes 7 digits a year a success?

Most will say yes.

Then ask them “What if that person is a tyrant at home? An unforgiving boss? A person who lies to & cheats others? – still a success in your eyes?”

Probably they would respond in the negative.

So how can you be a real success?

Become a better person.

Self-improvement books are some of the top selling books. Apparently people recognize this truth – that to be happy you have to better yourself. To be a better you – you need to work on your charachter traits.

The Torah is the ultimate guide for a person to self-improve.

The Messilat Yeshiarim / Path of the Just says – “The foundation of perfect faith is to make clear and truthful – what is your purpose in life – that you should set your sights upon all the days of your life.”

Meaning – just like companies have a mission statement – a person should have a personal mission statement that encompasses his or her goal in life based upon the qualities, resources & traits that G-d gave them.

There are two aspects – one is being truthful – ask “is your goal truthful?” Meaning truthful to what G-d wants from you. Usually you can find this out by consulting a Torah Authority or Scholar – if your goal is in accordance with the principles of the Torah. Otherwise a person can work all their life, and find out in the end they wasted their life following after vanity or falsity.

A good starting point for gentiles is following the Torah’s 7 Noahide Laws. A good starting point for Jews is following the Shulchan Aruch – code of Jewish law. Then consult a Torah authority.

The second thing is – to make clear what this goal is. Some people say – i want to be a good person. So do most people. So it befits us to make the goal more precise. I want to inspire people by bringing the beauty of Judaism to people through music and song. That’s one goal.

Then – once the goal is established – then see if your acts correspond to your goal.

Here is an example Let’s say a person was doing sounding the Shofar / Ram’s Horn in your synagogue. Your goal in life is to “Help people reach their potential.” You can sound the Shofar better than he. You have a dilemna – should you sound it instead of him – that is good for the congregation. But on the other-hand you want to help the other person reach his potential. Do you say that you want to sound the Shofar, instead?

Your acts – that are targeted to your goal – get you closer to true service of G-d. Your acts that are just acts to pass the time – or escape that have no lasting value usually do not. Keep your eye on the ball. Choose your acts to fit your goals for what you want to achieve in life.

In the end you will have accomplished something to better the world.

What Japan Learned from Jews to Lead Business World

fish-bone1-e1325870956744I remember the Quality Revolution. America’s Auto industry – in the late 70’s and early 80’s – took a beating from the Japanese. The Japanese were selling top quality vehicles – while America’s quality was average. After loss of market share the Americans awoke. Now the Americans have caught up.

Before the war, Japanese products were low quality. But when the world gave them funds to rebuild their infrastructure after the war – they decided to better themselves. The Japanese were willing to learn from anyone. Even the Americans.

This comes from Torah – in Pirkei Avot it says – Learn from everyone. “Who is Wise – A person who learns from every person.”

General MacArthur involved in the rebuilding of Japan called upon two key individuals in the development of modern quality concepts: W. Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran. Both individuals promoted the collaborative concepts of quality to Japanese business and technical groups, and these groups utilized these concepts in the redevelopment of the Japanese economy.

The the Quality Experts – Deming & Juran – were not into talk – like mottoes for improving quality – but for improved methods and means. They used various Approaches to improve quality including Failure testing, Statistical control, Shewart cycle, continuous improvement & Total quality management. The methods they used included the House of Quality, Fishbone (or Ishikawa / Cause & Effect) Diagram , Force-field analysis and other quality tools. Many quality tools and methods are useful for a person to improve their character traits.

Continuous quality improvement – comes from a Torah concept that each person is to evaluate themselves at night – their positive and negative acts to determine how they can improve. Also a person is to be better Tomorrow than they were today.

One of the key components of the Japanese method was deciding by consensus. Instead of taking a vote to decide on important quality matters – they used a method to all come to a common consensus – what is the right path to choose.

A Jew Studies Torah. They sometimes learn in a group or one-to-one. Head-to-head learning is called a H’evruta. Usually people learn Talmud together, but they also learn Halacha / Jewish law and other topics in a H’evruta. In a H’evruta the goal is to get to truth & understanding. If it doesn’t make sense it is thrown out or rejected. The two discuss & discuss until they both understand what is said in the Torah.

This method came from the Torah when G-d Told Moses to explain the laws to the people in a clear fashion, so that they would understand it – not just learn it by rote. People would discuss, ask questions, raise objections & apparent contradictions – until the law would be clearly understood.

The Japanese – in their culture – uses this method – used by the Jewish nation – for business. Thus they became experts in quality. As the Jews that Study Torah diligently are experts in Ethics – for they pick apart and delve deeply in the word of G-d – the guide of all Ethics – the Torah.


Just like the Japanese were smart to consult the experts regarding quality. Those who search for sincerely for true ethics would be wise to consult the Experts – the Torah Scholars.

The Power of Truth – Living Reality

estudiantes-ultraortodoxos-rezan-en-una-clase-de-lectura-en-la-kehilot-yaacov-torah-school-en-ramot-jerusalen-reutersThe boy who cried wolf. We all know it. He shouts out “there is a wolf!” People run to help. He played a prank. He plays the trick again. Less people come. The third time, a real wolf appears Shouting for help – no one comes. He loses.

Nice parable. Nice Moral. Tell the Truth and people will listen to your words. It applies to selling, selling on-line, politics & daily life. Tell a lie once too much and your credibility is shot. People will buy the first time. Make some quick sales. But if truth is not present, in the end, the business will falter, the religion will fall, the politician will lose.

Truth for Serenity

The person who lives truth, lives with the serenity that they are following reality. They are accomplishing. They are on a path, that although challenging, will lead them to them being themselves. It will lead them to them living a true life.

Truth for Realizing Potential

Through truth one can come to realizing their potential.

Once a thief met a Rabbi. He said “Rabbi. I want to do Teshuva / Repent.” The Rabbi offered him advice: “Don’t do or say anything that is not truthful.” He accepted this upon himself. He wanted to steal – but he said “I promised the Rabbi I would be honest.” He wanted to lie – he couldn’t because of his promise. He wanted to cheat. He couldn’t. Eventually, apparently he became an outstanding member of society.

Deceiving Oneself

The person who occasions lies – loses in the sense they give up a part of themselves for something they are not. I follow because it is popular. I follow because others do it. I do because I want to be accepted. Do it. But lose your individuality. Do it but lose your potential. Do it but lose your ability to bring out your purpose in life.

The secret of the lier – to not get caught – is to mix truth with lies. Mix them and people will be more likely to accept the lies. But in the end the lier will lose. Either because he will be discovered – in his or her lies or he or she will discover that they lived a life of untruths.

The Pain of Living without Truth

That is the story of the rabbi who was by the death-bed of a cardinal of a church. The cardinal was questioning his religion, he asked the rabbi – now that the prophesies of his religion were proven wrong – by the Jews returning to Israel – did he waste his life by following it? The rabbi, at this juncture, knew that this was the moment of truth, it was not the time to mince words. The rabbi replied “Yes.” The man died in great suffering.

Someone said “More important than being on the right track is being on the right train.” Thus, is a person to question himself. Am I on the right train. Everybody is doing it is not a reason that it is right. Truth, being one’s main motive, will help him to be in the right train.

We exposed 4 questions for anyone to arrive at what is the true Law of G-d. We came to the conclusion it is the Torah. But not everyone is following it. Why? Not convenient. Not my cup of tea. I’m good the way I am. My parents brought me up differently. My religion is not that one.

Finding Yourself Through Truth

Thus, a person who wants to be on the right train, would be better to follow truth – regardless of if it is convenient or everybody is doing it – or I can find one rabbi that approves of it. If it goes against the spirit of the law, why do it. It is more convenient? As the Jewish people, we want to do what is right in G-d’s eyes, even if it is not convenient. That is Na’aseh veNishmah – We will do [first] and we will [then] understand.

Serene Living

But the real point is – that following a true path will not only lead you to having clients that trust you, but it will allow you to live a more serene life. A person has no cognitive dissonance when one follows truth. Maybe G-d doesn’t want this of me.

Fine follow the path that the government allows you, but remove from your serenity. Once I was an assistant to a university professor. The professor assigned a paper to be written on one’s hero in life. Surprisingly, the heroes that most of the class wrote about was their parents. Apparently, psychologically a child wants to please their parents. It gives them comfort and boundaries. G-d is our parent, when we please him, we feel this comfort. When we do not, deep down, we feel upset – although it may not appear on the surface.

Telling truth – one is not afraid of being caught in a lie. You don’t have to make calculations of your words – whether they contradict another white lie one said. One is frank. One is open. One is candid. No worries.

Coming to your Own Conclusion

We attempt not to convince one what to do. We expose the paths that you will be able to come to the true realization of who you are and discover your potential. One of these ways is only following truth.

Being Yourself – Questioning Your Own Lifestyle

A person who questions their motives and actions can reach a higher level of existence. Some Jews have the custom to review their deeds at the end of the day to see where they faltered and where they succeeded in terms of the good deeds. Then one can decide small steps for self-improvement. Drastic change is not necessary. Yet, having the Torah or a truthful, Torah authority involved to teach you what is good in the eyes of G-d will help.But one must be open-minded, flexible and humble enough to accept the word of Hash-m, even when it contradicts their way of life.

Let’s look at parents who consider putting a child in a Torah day school. Many people will say – well my children get a free and very good secular education. “What do you think Rabbi?”

The Orthodox Rabbi will likely say – Although, getting a good secular education is important – we have an obligation to teach our children Torah – like it says in the Shema. But more than that – giving our children a Torah education – allows them to learn to become well-rounded, moral and lead a meaningful life. It teaches them Torah values – the values of Hash-m. It teaches things that are ignored in a secular school. In a Torah school – they teach “respect Your Parents.” In secular school – they teach “Your parents were Monkeys.” In a Torah school – they say “Respect all people.” In secular school – they teach “Survival of the Fittest.”

Take a person who follows the crowd – I follow what is popular – to be popular. But did one ask himself – is this taking away from my true identity? Is following what is chic, popular, attractive, acceptable by society – what we really are. To live a more satisfying life, is to question – is the way I dress true to myself. Is the way I act appropriate. Is the way I think good in the eyes of G-d? G-d wants each person to be himself. He did not create man for them to be a robot.

Be Someone

A Rabbi I know said – “A person who tries to be like someone else, doesn’t become like the other person. He is not himself. He becomes a nobody.”

I meet people at times that say they are open-minded, yet that act similar to parrots. If they are with a friend, they mimic what the friend does. If they subscribe to a particular newspaper, they parrot the opinion of the newspaper. When someone challenges their opinion – they become ruffled and are not accepting of conversation regarding the Torah view. So much for open-mindedness.

What to be truly open-minded. Find an orthodox rabbi that you feel is truthful. Discuss your issues with Him. Find out what he thinks about the decisions you must make. Let him be a sounding board for what is right or wrong.

Following truth will allow you to find true serenity. One is happy when he follows the way of G-d.

Can I Become Proficient at Torah Study as an Adult?

800px-ReadingOfTheTorahIt’s a great thing to want to learn Torah. I am sure you can become proficient if you dedicate time and are diligent. I would suggest you get in contact with an Orthodox Rabbi ( Orthodox Union) and ask about Torah courses in your area or if he himself offers courses or if he can set you up to learn with someone.

There are a plethora of Torah Topics. H’umash / 5 Books of Moses, Talmud, Jewish Law, Jewish Philosophy, Mussar / Ethics, Psychology, and much more. I would suggest as a beginner to learn H’umash / the weekly Parasha / Torah reading with an Orthodox Rabbi inside the Text with Rashi (the Commentator). You can also learn with someone over the phone with a program called Partners in Torah .

For a Gentile / Non-Jew that wants to Learn Torah – I would suggest them to also contact an Orthodox Rabbi. Yet I would suggest them to learn the 7 Noahide Laws from the Torah for all humanity. For that is what they are responsible to learn. If they have an interest in becoming Jewish then they can also learn other Torah subjects.

I suggest that a person who learns Torah have a specific goal. To become proficient in learning text on one’s own is what seems to be your goal. To do that it is important to review material learned with the other person (chevruta) consistently and understand the definition of words.

Learning Halacha helps you learn Mishna. Learning Mishna Helps you learn Gemara / Talmud. If you are interested in Talmud Study – there is a great program – called Daf HaYomi in which one learns a full page of Talmud daily. Everybody, worldwide, in the program learns the same page. So one finishes the Entire Study of the pages Talmud after about 7 years – and celebrate together at the Siyum HaShas / Completion of the Talmud. Obviously, to get the most out of it one should review what he learned with the rabbi inside the text afterwards to be able to understand inside the Text. There are many Talmud & Torah study works translated and Commented in English or French or Hebrew – like the Artscroll Talmud or Chumash.

If one does this diligently, eventually they can learn to learn Torah & Talmud. Wishing You success in Your Endeavors.

Changing Relationships – Moving from a One-Way to Two-Way Street

twowayGood Negotiators are good listeners. They have conversations. They don’t preach, they talk.

The voice of the One Way Speaker differs: My opinion matters the most. What everyone else says is suspect in my eyes. You have to listen to me. If those phrases don’t come out in the conversation it comes out in the insinuations and innuendoes.

In Judaism, Our relationship with others is based upon a mutual respect for the other person – for each human is created in the image of G-d. But above that the Torah tells us :

L’Olam Tehe Da’aato Shel Adam MeOrav im HaBeriot – Forever, should the attitude of a person be pleasant/empathetic with others. (Ketuvot 17a)
לעולם תהא דעתו של אדם מעורבת עם הבריות (כתובות יז ע”א)

Apparently it means more than applying common etiquette and niceties. One is to learn to understand where the other is coming and to speak with them from where they are coming from. To have a conversation. To have an exchange. To have a relationship – not a dictatorship. To feel the feelings of the other. To rejoice when others rejoice. To cry when others cry.

This is talking about people that are your peers. People who are righteous. From the wicked, one should distance themselves as to not take from them their negative character traits.

Listen to yourself. Are you only concerned in telling your point? Are you interested in what the other has to say? Are you willing to change if something is the truth?

Are you able to take suggestions to improvement or are you stuck in stationary mode. A person who improves is a person who gets better with age.

Trying to see what’s best for others is the start of conversation.