The way something starts sets the tone for the continuation. Thus we make signs to eat in the Rosh Hashana Seder.
Once someone proposed a shidduch- match to a young bachur – Torah learner. He said – “ask me after Rosh Hashana – the new year. Because I didn’t pray to Hashem for a good shidduch last Rosh Hashana. I will pray on the new year so the prayer will be fulfilled and have an effect on the shidduch. “
The home-office concept was introduced to me many years ago when personal computers were just lads. The popular computers of those days were the trs-80, the Apple II plus, and IBM PC. I think I even subscribed to a magazine on the subject.
People working from home have challenges – like motivating oneself, being alone, and dealing with distractions like kid interruptions.
What to do when you have to take care of your child and you have work piled up to the ceiling?
Take a deep breath and think of your priorities. A healthy, happy child, in my humble opinion takes precedence of the company’s marketing mailing. Yes, the kid will distract you. so take advantage and connect with your child.
Read, tell stories and use the time to appreciate your own child. Realize how they are like you when you were their age.
I needed gas. I went to the gas station. Got the gas. Then I noticed I needed windshield wiper fluid. I asked the cashier – How much is that? He mumbled $5.42.
I didn’t hear the price clearly. Then he repeated. 5-4-2. I thought he meant 5$ for two bottles. $2.50 for a bottle isn’t bad.
I said I’ll take 2. He charged me $10.84. He told me – one bottle is $5.42. Realizing the error, I then told him forget it, I’ll just take one. I ended up paying more than double than what I thought the price was.
We see things in life. we think we’re getting a good deal, but end up paying much more. Some Jewish children are not privileged to go to a Torah day school. Later in life they realize the value. Some Jews send their children to secular schools. And only afterwards, when children abandon the Torahs ways, they realize they paid a high price – for saving on Torah school tuition.
In this week’s Parasha, Ki Tavo – Moshe tells the Jews to inscribe on Rocks the entire Torah. It could be an allusion to the fact that when building a home or doing a new endeavor – it should be founded on the principles of Torah. Meaning- Torah learning is heard in the house, the father learns himself and with his children, the children are sent to Torah schools, the parents consult a competent Orthodox Rabbi for major decisions – like which school their child should attend.
I was at a wedding yesterday. I noticed the guy sitting next to me checking his phone.
For some reason it woke me up. Perhaps it was one of the most important days of the couples’ lives and he’s checking his messages.
I thought to myself – “oh no! is that what I look like when involved with my phone?”
Some self introspection is in order. Wow, I do waste much time on my phone. Some stay awake into the wee hours and end up sleeping with phone in hand – realizing the next day that last night they lost 3 hours of sleep on futility.
I had to do something about it. I thought what can I do to remedy this? To say I will not use my phone or not go into interesting tangents was a bit too radical.
So I decided to do something productive before wasting time. Perhaps put a load of laundry in the machine, make a hello call to a family member, study a little Torah. Then I can go off on the tangent.
I made a mental note – “In order to waste time, I had to deserve it.”
Want to waste time? Do something productive first. At least looking back you won’t feel so bad – you lost three hours of sleep – surfing the news.
In the best case scenario – you’ll get distracted from wasting time and accomplish something great.
Royalty obliges royalty to act in a manner befitting them.
Things to learn from the Royal Family.
Story number one –
Once the royal family of England held a reception. Margaret Thatcher – then Prime Minister- attended. She was dismayed when she noticed that the queen was wearing the same dress as she was wearing. It was not proper respect for someone to wear the clothes same as the queen. She tried to find a way to be inconspicuous, but was unable. After the reception she wrote a letter to the queen excusing herself. The queen responded that she did not even notice she was wearing the same dress. Royalty is above little Petty details. Noblesse oblige.
Once an Orthodox rabbi attended the Royal Banquet in England. He notified the staff that he only ate kosher and had special needs. The staff made special Arrangements the rabbi to eat kosher. In the Royal banquets special cutlery and China is used that has the insignia of the Royal Family. The staff arranged that he would have new silverware and China that was dipped in a Mikvah and obviously kosher food be served to him.
Somehow seating arrangements changed and he had to move from his seat. To take the silverware and the China with him to the new seat would be uncomfortable for him to do in front of all the people. Nevertheless he took his China and his silverware to his new seat. Prince Charles (now the king) noticed him carrying his plate. After the reception Prince Charles asked him why he carried his plates. The rabbi replied that he kept kosher and he had to take his special plates that was arranged for him with him to assure that he ate kosher.
Prince Charles was impressed. Another Jew that was not observant of the Jewish laws of Kashrut / keeping kosher remarked to the prince “I am also Jewish”. Prince Charles replied “I didn’t notice you carrying your plates to your new place.”
1 – Learn from nobility. We are the children of Israel. The children of Hashem. Thus we are also nobility. Nobility overlooks petty details.
2. By observing the Torah we gained favor in the eyes of others. But more importantly, we gain favor in the eyes concussion of Hashem.
Why are people Fickle? Apparently they want to make the best decision. Thus they search for more information. When they find it, they change their mind. It could be new information that changes their decision- it could be a whim, a mood change. OK. But said and done – apparently if they have all the information at their disposal- that will help them make their decision.
A person might encounter new information that alters their direction in life. This information was not before them – is that considered fickle? They made the best decision. Now they have another variable to deal with.
G-d has all information before him. He knows all past , present and future- thus he doesn’t change his mind.
Two things you can derive –
1. A person who follows a religion that says G-d gave the Torah to the Jews and then changed his mind – by choosing another people or – nullifying what He expects them to do (ie, nullified the responsibility to follow the commandments He gave at Mount Sinai) – must answer the question “Am I following a religion that assumes G-d is fickle?”
The Torah Stance : G-d in making the Torah commandments had all information at His disposal when He made the commandments of the Torah. He knew some people could follow all 613 commandments – and gave them for the Jewish nation. He gave 7 commandments (which are really 30) to people who can’t commit to doing the 613 – the 7 Noahide laws for all non-Jews / gentiles to follow.
A gentile can decide to become Jewish and then follow the 613 Laws. A Jew cannot relinquish their commandments. When each reaches the next world – Heaven – they will be judged based upon their respective laws. Based upon observing these laws – they with receive a portion in Heaven.
2 – How can G-d forgive if he doesn’t change his mind? When a person repents / does Teshuvah for not having followed in the pleasant path of the Torah – he or she is changing themselves. Thus they are not the same person as they were before Teshuvah. Now Hashem takes this information into account and forgives them.
Everything is in the Hands of Heaven – except the fear of heaven.
Meaning – how much money you make is in Hash-m’s hands. How tall you will be. How long you will live.
But you have a choice on things that pertain to awe of heaven – whether you will be angry or calm, or bitter or better, sad or happy, composed or wild or a robber or a banker, to do good or bad.
This is called freedom of choice.
You choose whether to put your children into a public school or a Torah day school. You choose whether to spend the day shopping or the day with the family at the Shabbat table. G-d gives you the freedom.
If we had not this choice, we would basically be robots. We would not be able to be judged for our deeds.
Some say – he made me angry! He made me do it!
No one makes you do anything. You choose.
Your situation doesn’t cause your mood.
Heaven causes your situation. You yourself choose your mood and attitude.
In Parasha Re’eh it says to destroy the altars of idol worshipers. It says don’t do the same to Hashem. The question: A Jew would never destroy a Sanctuary of Hashem – so what does that mean? it means not to Erase Hashem’s name.
Once David Hamelech – King David dug in the place of the future holy Temple. Water started flowing out, threatening to flood the world. David announced “anyone who knows how to stop the waters let him speak or be strangled. ” Achitofel, his rabbi, made a kal vachomer – a fortiori – if Hash-m’s name can be erased to make peace between man and wife – obviously it can be erased to same the world. King David threw a piece of earthenware with Hash-m’s name written upon it into the water and it subsided.
The question: David knew that one is allowed to do almost anything to save a life, why did he have to get a confirmation from Achitofel – who happened to be his Rabbi?
King David wanted to observe the law of not deciding a Jewish Law / Halacha before his Rabbi. Had he made that decision himself, he would have been transgressing that law.
The world was about to be flooded, why was he concerned at that moment to do that mitzvah? David had seconds to save the world? It is too teach us, that king David did not lose control. Even in the most trying situations he did not lose his control.
We, at times, in times of pressure succumb to the pressure and do things in haste because of the heat of the moment.
A Jewish king does not react. He acts. He is in control. One reason why the predecessor of King David lost his kingship was that he reacted to emotions. He lost control.
We as children of Hashem, Princes and Princesses, are also asked to remain in control.
I was speaking with a friend. He said people commented to him that they would observe Torah Judaism (a better name for Orthodox Judaism) if there weren’t as many prohibitions. He told them “But look at all the things you can do!”
I told him it’s much more than that. It’s that by doing Mitzvot you improve your world tremendously. By doing Shabbat – one person will say – I can’t do it. I can’t drive.. I can’t go shopping. I can’t light a fire. I can’t use the phone, internet, other media and electronic games
But really, by not doing all those things you are guided to spend time with your friends and family. you are guided to focus on priorities in life. After 120 years, when a person is about to die he or she will not say, it is too bad I should have shopped more. They will say it’s too bad I would have liked to spend more time with loved ones.
Doing Mitzvot you change the world for the good. You have more meaning for every mitzvah that you do. Every mitzvah is an opportunity to improve. it’s a beracha – blessing.
A religion or movement that tries to reduce the commandments from people is completely missing the point. Every mitzvah is an opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with others and with Hashem. why do I want to limit connection?
A man converted to Judaism. Asked “why?” – he responded “there is a mitzvah – commandment (rabbinical ) to tie your shoes a particular way. I wanted to be in a religion that G-d is with me even agent I tie my shoes.”
Our Torah learning group were learning Hok Leyisrael – a Sefer / book that complies small daily portions of the Torah / H’umash (of that week’s Parasha / Torah Reading) , Neviim / Prophets, Ketuvim / writings, Mishna, Gemara, Zohar, Halacha and mussar / personal growth teachings into a book – so that one can learn a portion of each daily. I read that the Rabbi, Baba Sali recommended a man who came to him to learn it.
In the Torah portion we were learning- Ekev (first pasuk -verse of Sheni / 2nd Aliya) – Moshe / Moses tells the people ‘Guard yourself lest you forget Hashem (G-d of the Jews), Your G-d and you forget his laws…”.
The Bible Translators Mislead – which version of the Bible do you read – there is only one
I explained that unfortunately many people who read Translations of Torah (some call it the Bible) from the original Hebrew are mislead. The translators translate the Hebrew word for Hashem into “the Lord”. Hashem is the name of the G-d that the Jews worship – the same G-d that took the Jews out of Egypt – the same G-d of the Universe. “Hashem” is a personal noun. “The Lord” is a pronoun. By translating it this way, one is mislead to think that “the Lord” is any G-d that they follow. Readers thus attribute the actions of ‘the Lord” to the G-d of their liking – which is not necessarily true.
It’s like one who edits the sentence “Sir Isaak Newton revealed the laws of gravity.” to “The scientist revealed the laws of gravity.” In the first sentence you know who revealed the laws of gravity. The second – you can possibly insert any scientist of your liking.
One of the most accurate Translations I have found is the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash. It usually translates the Hebrew word for Hashem into Hashem.
So the verse above Moshe is telling the Jews not to forget the Laws of Hashem – the 613 commandments from the Torah.
The Evil Inclination’s / Yetzer Hara’s Tricks
How does one not forget Hashem’s laws? the Evil inclination – that voice inside you that injects negativity and bad thoughts into your mind – has two methods: Either by chipping away slowly at one’s morals or by attacking when a person is vulnerable- like when a person is angry or despondent. He doesn’t tell a person “Rob that bank. ” He first says to them “You can take a candy from the store (without permission) – and pay them back tomorrow.” He continues chipping away until he convinces the person to rob a bank.
But really you have control to agree or disagree with the Yetzer Hara. It is in your hands.
The fight against Self- Improvement
The yetzer hara doesn’t want you to become a better individual. He wants you to remain the same or get worse. He wants you to discard and deflect self-improvement efforts.
The Man’s Greatest Helpmate
The Torah uses the terminology for a wife as “a helpmate against him. ” One of her roles is to help her husband improve. If the husband does good (according to Torah) she helps him. If he does bad – she is against him. (Provided she has the proper Torah Hashkafa – outlook).
It is more of the woman’s job to help a man improve than vice versa. The Torah does not call the man – a helpmate against her. The wife is one who knows the husband best. She sometimes mirrors or or complains about his personal lacking. The man who wants to improve, will tune into her message of self-improvement to him and try to do something to better himself.
What do men sometimes do – they resist and fight back. If she is giving him his medication to better himself – why should he fight back. it makes more sense to accept the constructive criticism and build himself. If he fights – he is like the person who goes to the Doctor for medicine for weakness. When the doctor gives him the medicine he shouts at the doctor and says “why are you giving me this medicine- it is so bitter?!!” and he throws it out the window.
In Mishlei / Proverbs by Shelomo Hamelekh / king Solomon – the wisest of men – he says “A gentle reply turns away wrath but a galling word incites anger” (Mishlei/Proverbs 15:1). The wise will take their ques for self-improvement and improve. It takes two to fight. if one answers nicely – it will disarm the other’s anger and your own as well.