The Proper Response to Mazal Tov or Any Blessing for that Matter

Words have power.

Jewish people are constantly giving blessings. A boy or girl is born. “Mazal Tov!” / A good fortune!  An engagement! “You should have lots of Nachas / Nachat!” (Satisfaction) or “Build a Bayit Ne’eman Be Yisrael” / faithful home among the people of Israel!

When they meet. “Hatzlacha! / Success!” You hear someone got a new job. “Mazal Tov! Parnassa Tova!” / A good income! A Bar Mitzvah! “He should grow up to be a big Talmid Chacham!” / Torah Scholar. At a Brit / Bris Milah / Circumcision! She Yizkeh leGodlo beTorah, Huppah UMaasim Tovim. You should merit bring him up with Torah, Marriage and good Deeds.

What is a common answer to a blessing? “Thank You!” or “You Too.”

What is this like – A person gives you a check for $1,000,000. You say thank you very much. You don’t deposit it. You don’t endorse it. You don’t use it. One day you wake up and find the check hidden at the end of your office supplies drawer. “Wow I never deposited it?” You look at the date – 6 Months have passed. You don’t remember the giver. You really need the money. I guess you’ll learn for next time.

A Blessing has the power to affect the positive or negative. Prayer to G-d / Hash-m will have some kind of positive effect – either on the person you pray for or another person.

But you can make it more effective by “endorsing the check.” A blessing is a bit like a check – if you endorse and deposit it, it will appear in your account.

How do you endorse a blessing? You say “Amen.”

To return the blessing – we usually reply – “Vekhen LeMar” וכן למר

This means “and also for the master” implying the person who made the blessing.

So you receive the Blessing. You say “Amen. VeKhen Lemar.”

Now since they are recieving the same blessing of “Vekhen LeMar” The person who initially gave the blessing should also respond “Amen.”

 

Let’s Call a Spade a Spade – Don’t Call a Child “It”

Boys will be boys. Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice – that’s what Girls are made of.

The School of Political Correctness

Time to burn your Mother Goose books. Sorry did I say Mother Goose? “Mother” discriminates against the father. I mean Parent Goose.

No “parent” is also derogatory – just because they are older and gave birth to you should we discriminate against children and call them by this name? Let’s call them “adult caretakers”. No. “Adult” is discriminating against children. They should be equals. Let’s call them “older humans”. No that is discriminating. Why should we discriminate against the young. Let’s call them “big humans”. No that is discrimination because you discriminate against the small humans. Let’s call them just “humans”. No that is discriminating against animals. Lets just call humans and animals “it.”

Now that is a solution. Don’t call a president “president”. That is discriminating against those below him. You dare to call a person a principal? How dare you! That means that teachers are inferior. “Teacher?” – what an insult to the students. Please be politically correct. Just call everybody “it” and it will all be fine. “You”? that is discriminating against me. A Manhole? What kind of racism is that – call it a sewer hole. Sewer is a derogatory term – you are insulting the hole. Call it a cleaner thing. The ithole. Now you’re talking.

Manhattan? Let’s be correct and call it ithatten. That’s better. Manchester. Itchester. One small step for man one large leap for Mankind. Please edit that. One small step for it one large leap for itkind.

Parent teacher conference? Sorry. The It It conference. PTA? IIA! “The principal wants to meet with parents and teachers of children who have animals.” G-d forbid. “It wants to meet with its and its of its who have its.” Much better.

I hope you get the point.

Some people want to eliminate the terms “boy” and “girl”, “man” and “woman” – because it might be offensive to others and make them feel uncomfortable. It unlikely might insult this tremendously small part of the population.

Insulting the Many not to insult the minority

What bigger insult than calling a person made in G-d’s image “it”? So should we insult 99.999% of the population – to possibly not insult .001%. Sorry my friend. Doesn’t make sense to me.

But let’s put that point aside.

Calling People Neutral Names Lessens appreciation for others

Calling everybody by a non-gender or a neutral terminology will make people be less appreciated. If I call a principal “it” – it reduces my appreciation for all the work he or she went through to reach this position. If I call a parent “it” – it reduces my appreciation for all the toil they went through to bring up their children. If I call a teacher “it” – it reduces my appreciation for the hard work and sweat and dedication to the students.

If I call a girl or a “pink” an “it” – it reduces my appreciation for her unique qualities and her strengths. If I call a boy “it” or a “blue” – it reduces my appreciation for his unique qualities and his strengths. Calling a person an “it” – equates a person to an object. Women don’t like to be treated as objects. Rightfully so. Why Should children be treated as such?

Judaism says call everyone by their name. Don’t call them nicknames – that may be derogatory and make people feel uncomfortable. Act with Respect towards everyone. Appreciate them as a person. Appreciate their strengths. Be tolerant towards their differences. Call a Boy a Boy and appreciate them. Call a girl a girl and appreciate their uniqueness. Make them feel good by you validating them as a person. Don’t treat them as an object.

Decadence Masquerading as Political Correctness

Many years ago – our forefather Abraham – ridiculed idol worship. People would sacrifice children because they treated their children as objects to satisfy their lust for idolatry. Children should not be sacrificed today – for decadence masquerading as  “political correctness.”

Save Your Children. Appreciate them for who they are.

Don’t Let Your Tears Go to Waste on Others

Babies cry. Adults cry. A baby cries when hungry, thirsty, uncomfortable or in pain. An adult cries more often because of emotional pain.

Although the gates of prayer were locked, the gates of tears remain open (see Talmud :Berachot 32b) . Thus we have another way to get our prayers answered. Tears.

What happens? A person needs a shoulder to cry upon. They relieve their hearts of their burdens by speaking with another individual or to Hash-m. They relieve their burden, but they forget to ask for salvation.

Yes – tell your troubles to Hash-m. But don’t stop there. Cry out & pray to Hash-m for what you need. “Hash-m give me strength, patience & wisdom to deal with this class of rowdy students.” “Hash-m, please help me to find the best job to support my family in a dignified manner that will also let me dedicate time to learning Torah.”

Use your tears to improve your lot. Don’t use them to destroy someone else’s lot. You might be angry at another that brought you to tears. You have a choice to pray for their detriment or for your uplift. Pray for your uplift. G-d will listen.

You gain not by someone’s downfall. You do gain from your uplift. Use your emotional pain to thrust your tefilot / prayers to heaven.

Be specific in your prayers. Don’t just say Hashem – find me a mate. Pray, please Hash-m find me a mate that has good middot / character traits, from a good family, that learns Torah & will be able to support a family by the end of the month. You fill in your requirements.

Even tears of gratitude, or just verbal gratitude to Hash-m, should be accompanied by prayer. Once you say thank you – you insinuate that you are satisfied with the outcome. Ask for more benedictions, even when you say thank you.

G-d will turn your tears of pain into tears of joy. Amen.

The Missed Opportunity – Why You Should Throw Your Phone Out the Window & Other Tech Junk While You’re at it

You’re at the dinner table. Your kid is there munching some cake. “Got to check my whatsapp for two minutes”. The kid finishes eating and walks away. You lift your head from the phone. “Where is he?”

You lost. You lost the opportunity to connect with one of the most important people in your life – your child. Why? For some video that someone with nothing to do sent you. Worth it?

Just Once? Not.

More than Once? Of Course Not.

A Tree Falls in Yorktown, New York – the Ripple Effect

A fun family activity is picking apples. Go to the farm. Buy a bag. Pick whatever can fit into the bag. There is a picking farm in Yorktown, New York. Recently there, I was told by the old woman selling the bags, that just the other day she was thinking of cutting the tree she pointed out to me. Before having a chance – the tree fell on its own.

I told her she should have said “It would be good to win the lotto.” Perhaps that would have come true instead.

She mentioned the time. 11:00 am yesterday. I was saddened. It reminded me of a tragedy that occurred at that same time. Perhaps when a negative thing happens – a ripple effect occurs.

If a negative thing causes a ripple effect. Doing something positive also causes a ripple effect of good.

It says it clearly in Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers (4:2) “A Mitzvah Causes a Mitzvah. A sin causes a sin.” :

Good causes Good & Evil, Evil

2. Ben A’zzai says: “Run to [do] a simple Mitzvah (like for a weighty one) & run away from the sin for a Mitzvah causes a Mitzvah & a sin causes a sin; for the compensation of a Mitzvah is a Mitzvah & the compensation for a sin is a sin.”

Another reason to only do good.

The Ripple Effect.

Jerusalem Life Back Online

After Adding more features (Plugins) to the Ohr Binyamin Supersite – Jerusalem Life – crashed last week. Apparently one of them caused it to fall. After a Brief Hiatus – Barukh Hash-m / thank G-d, we’re back online.

The question remains – What is the lesson? What can I & we learn from it?

Well, restoring it I learned a lot of computer things like about Linux (operating system), SSH, FTP, WHM, cPanel, WordPress, Mysql, backups & restoring, DNS and more. Great things to put on a resume. I like computers, math & Talmud. Each involves logical thinking.

Would G-d put me through all that sweat – to help me become more computer savvy? Perhaps.

The lesson is probably a bit deeper than that. Another thing I learned is – more & newer is not necessarily better. Think before you do.

For every incident and situation Hash-m / G-d sends us we have 1) a lesson and 2) something good that comes from it. Due to the crash – I thought of ways of developing some more new features and ideas and ways to implement them quicker and easier.

NEW FEATURES

We are adding new features to Jerusalem Life. In the Marriage Section – We have a Sub-Section called “Fast Track to Getting Married.” It is based upon a daily whatsapp sent out to a broadcast group. It gives advice to people to find their mate fast.

In the Donate Section – we started posting Pictures from some of our activities.

We will also be developing other sister websites – like Hashem Loves You and TorahKids.org.

Please Don’t Change. Become a Better You.

I talk to people. I sometimes teach them about Torah. Some answer “I’m good.” As to say – I don’t need to learn I’m already good. Apparently everybody is good in their own eyes. Torah is compared to salt. Just as salt brings out the taste of the food by pulling it out – the Torah pulls out the good of the person. The Torah asks more from us than just to be good. It asks for us to become better daily.

G-d made you unique for a purpose. With your particular traits, you can change the world for the better. The question is ” How can I do that?

A good starting point is to read Pirkei Avot. It will give you the basic foundations of being a good person. That’s a good starting point.

Another is to ask the question at home, at work in general – “What can I do to help?” Can you help at home. Can you help others on the job? Can you help your friends? Your family? the world?

Apparently – you become a better you when you become a bigger giver. The Torah teaches us how to give, what to give, what not to give, what to teach, what not to teach, what philosophies, outlook and values are for the ultimate good of yourself and society.

Become a better giver.

Help others.

Social Media Advice for the Marriage Minded

Social Media Advice for the Marriage Minded

Just like with a simple face to face conversation, you find out good things and where a person’s head is – so is true by social media. Two aspects to consider are your own usage in the eyes of others and the usage of a prospective mate in your eyes.

Relying on Photos – a Caveat

Today it is easy to get information on people. Some people hear of a prospect match and reject dates because of a photo. That may not be prudent because meeting a person gives a much more accurate idea of the person. Also the picture you see may not be a good picture of that person.

Some peruse pictures – searching for a match. It much is more lucrative to call Rabbis to seek someone that has similar hashkafot / Torah outlook and values, good middot / character traits, and aspirations – than to waste time perusing photos. You marry a personality not a picture.

Are You a FB Person

Whether the person uses Facebook or not already gives an indication about the person. Non usage may indicate their refraining from technology to avoid temptation or being involved in things more productive or in more productive relations with actual people – rather than with a computer screen.

It might be better to avoid social media – like it says in Pirkei Avot (1:17):

The Value of Silence & Action

17. Shimo’n, his son, says: All my life I grew among the [Torah] sages & I found nothing better for the body than silence. And that learning is not the priority rather it is the [putting it to] action [that is the priority] & whoever who is excessive in words brings [upon themselves] transgression.

It’s not for nothing that people take the fifth in court.

Be careful what you post.
Usage of social media reveals people’s views and personality.  A person’s home page pictures reveals their interests. I know people who lost Job and shidduch / potential matches opportunities because of what they posted on the social media.  Over-usage of social media also tells about a person.  People might think – doesn’t this person have better things to do than posting constantly their political views, selfies, etc. Be careful what you post. It might come back against the person.

Some have to give their opinions on every news item. If that’s you,  then it might be time to do a self evaluation of your attitude and your posts – and work on improving both. Perhaps in expressing your opinions, people are forming a non-flattering opinion about you. If one has a very critical attitude – people might shy away from introducing you to others. People shy away from critical people. If one’s hashkafot – Torah outlook – are controversial – that also may also be a turn off for prospective mates with a good hashkafa.

Relevance of information.
The time of the post might also help you to decide how relevant is info. For instance if you see a post from a person’s teenage years – it may or may not reveal what their interests are today.

Make a small effort to start the momentum to find a marriage mate.  Each call becomes easier.

When Hashem sees us making a concerted and consistent effort – obviously accompanied by prayer – He sends his blessing.

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Follow this page for Previous Getting Married Advice Posts – Fast Track to Jewish Marriage

A Coffee for Your Wedding Dress? Making Peace with Friends & Family

Rabbi Dr. Jack Cohen‘s “Fast Track to Getting Married” lecture last night was well attended in the MJO synagogue in Forest Hills. He gave much practical advice on going from single to married status.

A story he told illustrates good middot / character traits and teaches about making peace.

A woman was marrying off her daughter. She wanted the best wedding dress. She went to a seamstress – who happened to be a widow. When the dress was finished – it was not exactly to her liking.

She complained “This is not what we expected!” She refused to pay her. She walked out and said “Let’s go to a high end store instead.” The daughter felt terrible for the poor seamstress.

On the day of the wedding – The bride was in the new gown she ordered. She was surrounded by the makeup artist, her relatives and her mother. When her mother turned around – the people were aghast when a cup of coffee next to the bride accidentally splashed onto the wedding dress.

She couldn’t go down the isle with that wedding dress. They decided to call the seamstress to finally take the original wedding dress. About an hour later they were ready to start the wedding with the new dress.

The bride’s mother was furious that someone was so clumsy to knock over the cup. He sister was the one closest to the cup. She said – “You couldn’t be more careful?! How can you do such a thing on one of the most important days of our life?!”

She was so upset she decided to stop talking to her sister. One day passed. One week passed. One Month passed. One Year. 10 years. 20 years. The mother was adamant to not speak with her sister.

Finally – it was the time of the daughter’s daughter’s wedding. The Mother of the bride said to her mother. Can I reveal a secret to you on the day of my daughter’s wedding? The mother said of course. Do you remember the incident with the coffee spilling on the wedding dress? She said yes. She said “Do you know that it wasn’t your sister who spilled the coffee on my dress?” She said “Then who was it?” She responded “It was me. I did it. But when my aunt saw it she took the blame. She didn’t want you to be angry at me – so she told me “be quiet – don’t say a word. I’ll take the blame.” Your sister didn’t allow me to reveal this secret till today. So you assumed that it was your sister all these years that spilled the coffee – but really it was me.

Terribly uncomfortable – she didn’t know what to do. She had anger, hatred and bad blood for sister for over 20 years – for something she did not commit.

Many times we fill in the blanks to blame others. We sometimes get pleasure in getting angry. We want to find the scapegoat. We want to get angry. We jump into hatred for something that could be a misunderstanding.

Make Peace

We lose time. Friendship. What could be a very positive relationship. We lose love and replace it with bad blood because of a misunderstanding. Do you think it’s worth it? All this because we don’t feel like picking up the phone and saying 5 words “I’m Sorry. Let’s Make Peace.”

Is it worth it? I think not.

Why You Should Stop Watching News – How to Become More Productive and Focus on Priorities

I was in the Hamptons in a Summer house. A friend of the family with whom I was staying pointed out to me a small critique about a certain group of Jewish people. He mentioned that they did not watch the news. He backed up his critique with “You need to know what’s going on in the world!”

Do You Need to Know What is Going on in the World?

I know that some of these Jewish people he was talking about do watch – some don’t – but I decided to answer him according to his conception or misconception.

The Most Powerful word to find Truth – Why?

The appropriate response to someone who is saying a statement that you may not agree with is “Why?”

So I asked “Why do you need to know what is going on in the world?”

It was a long time ago – but I suppose He said something like “What if there is a hurricane? You have to take your precautions.”

I answered – “If there is a hurricane coming I would hear about it by word of mouth. I don’t have to spend hours and hours a week or day listening to news – because perhaps there is a hurricane coming.”

Then he said “You have to be able to discuss things.” I replied “I can give my opinion – if the other person fills me in on the issue. I don’t need to watch it or know all the details of the news to hold an intelligent conversation.

Why do you do Anything? What is Your Gain?

But the real point is to ask “why?” on any activity. Not to be a wise guy – but to see if that activity will help you in life or not. Will it make you more productive? Will it make you a better person? Will it help you to have better values? Regarding following the news the answer to the above questions is no.

News is Depressing

So why do people watch it? It is interesting. But on the other side it is also depressing and causes a person more anxiety.

The News Preachers

I find it improper for people to preach what they hear on the news. For instance – you are drinking a soda. A news watcher says to you – “You know what soda does to you? You shouldn’t drink too much sugar.” So you take a diet soda instead. “Hey did you hear what they said on the news about artificial sweeteners?” So you drink water. Then you are about to eat some eggs and meat. “Your other friend says – do you know how they treat these animals. How can you eat them. You know what they do to the chickens that make these eggs?” By that time you lost your appetite. Yes I need my dinner to be ruined because someone heard some news. A person can become an ascetic or paranoid from what they hear from the news.

A person is afraid of crime. A person is afraid of illness. A person gets a negative and weary view of the world by watching too much news.

The Companies Interest

Many time a company will tell you some obscure statistic to sell their product. The Artificial sweetener companies trash sugar – to sell more sweeteners. The Cholesterol medication sellers trash eggs to sell more medication. The Sugar companies trash artificial sweeteners – to sell more sugar. So your news is many a time based upon companies desire to increase their revenues. I believe that most accepted foods in moderate quantities will not be harmful.

Appealing to the Lowest Common Denominator

News has an interest in violence and immorality. The more immorality they show – the grater ratings. The Greater ratings – the more they can  charge for a commercial. Their agenda is to get ratings. They have no regard for proper Torah values. Whatever sells goes. I ask myself – how anyone who wants to raise a wholesome family – can have a TV in the house – with all the disrespect, immorality and obscenities they show. But that’s not the subject today.

Today’s Propaganda – Fake News and News Outlets with an Agenda

Many years ago – news was pretty non-biased. They reported facts – not the point of view of the news station or newspaper. Nowadays – each news outlet has an agenda. I want to make you liberal. I want to make you conservative. I want you to become a vegetarian. I want you to buy my medicine. If you think of it – news is supported by advertising – so it makes sense to say stories that support advertisers – regardless of whether it is good for people or not.

If the news is true – it may be skewed to make you join the ranks of the news outlet’s agenda. If it is not true – that’s even worse. That’s not news – that’s called propaganda.

Removing News as a Distraction

Do I keep up on the news? Some days a few minutes. Sometimes I read a Jewish Family and News Magazine. I saw that news was a distraction. I have many things to accomplish that are more important than reading news. So I imposed upon myself to accomplish these tasks before I can read of news. I am not reading news these days because I didn’t yet accomplish my tasks. When I do perhaps I will scan the headines for stories of interest.

The Point – Don’t Waste Time on the Secondary

All of the above is to give you a non-biased view of news. I have nothing to gain from you watching or not. But you have much to gain by limiting your time in hearing or reading news.

You can become a more productive person. Instead of using your time for news – you can use it to do something productive in the world.

I feel vegetarians and vegans are sincere – they are concerned about animals. Other’s are sincere in their quest for defending their political position. But – a great problem exists.

In Torah – we believe in something called a Yetzer HaTov  & a Yetzer HaRa’. In English – the Good inclination and the Evil Inclination. You remember the cartoons with a little devil and little angel floating over one shoulder of the cartoon character. That is a Torah concept.

The Yetzer HaRa does not want you to be productive in life. It wants you to waste time, to distract you, to make you involved in activities that are no gain to you or society or something against Torah. The Yetzer HaRah makes you procrastinate – it doesn’t want you to accomplish. It’s a Mitzvah to work, to be a productive member of society and to build the world – also for Gentiles. So to prevent you from doing the mitzvah of world – it makes you procrastinate. It can also get you involved in activities are very good or beneficial for society – but they are the secondaries in life – not the priorities.

What are the priorities in Life? Being married. Having Children. Learning Torah. Doing Mitzvot. Observing Torah. But even among doing Mitzvot there is an order of priorities.

I know many good people. They Do mitzvot. They are involved in many side projects as well – defending the world from cruelty to animals, defending the world from conservatism, defending the world from liberalism. Unfortunately, many are side-tracked. I judge them not – but instead of being involved in fighting Trump, or Obama – they should concentrate their efforts in finding the right mate and establishing a family.

They should spend at least as much time -searching for a mate to get married – as they do defending animal rights. After 120 years – when a person reaches the next world  – G-d will not ask you – did you fight against communism, did you fight for animal rights, did you only eat vegetables. He will ask you did you get married and establish a family?

Establishing a family – That is one example. He will also ask you if you established the family on Torah values.

It’s easy to get sidetracked. The idea for accomplishing in business, in life and in Torah is not to be sidetracked.