A student of the baal shem tov – saw a fellow talmid – student praying on Yom Kippur. The student – feeling weak – pulled out a box of tobacco snuff to take a sniff. Noticing the gesture, he looked at the act with derision. “on one of the holiest days of the year he is looking to sniff tobacco?” he thought.
The baal shem tov took note of this. The student was studying one day before him. He prayed that he would be distracted. Distracted, the student could not concentrate. He tried to concentrate to no avail. Finally he took out his snuff box and took a sniff. He realized his distraction was due to his derision of the other talmid on Yom Kippur. He did teshuva – repented for his lack of judging favorably and was able to concentrate again.
Rosh Hashana is behind us. All Humanity of the world was judged- Jews and Gentiles. Hashem wrote his decrees. We hope all of us received a good verdict for the new year.
Hashem gives us many chances to rectify our misdeeds. Yom Kippur – the day of atonement – is when Hashem seals his verdict.
I was thinking about the concept of what happens. G-d has 3 books. The book for the righteous – who are written in the book of life. The book for the wicked – who are written in the book of death. The book for the average – that are hanging by their deeds.
A common expression to express that you want nothing to do with a particular person is “I wrote him off.” Meaning – I am cutting him off from any relationship. If you think of it, when Hashem writes someone in the book for the wicked – He basically writes them off.
Hashem acts with us middah Keneged middah, measure for measure. If we don’t write off people – God will not write us off. He will write us in the book of life. Some people write others off for hours, days, or life. Forgiving and forgetting is an admirable trait – whose repercussions can improve our daily life and give us long life. Once a rabbi was on his death bed. He was judged and in heaven – they added years to his life. Why? Because he never held a grudge- he always forgave people in his heart before going to sleep. [in the reading of the Keriat Shema on the bed.]
He forgave because he knew that any insult or suffering he endured was a message from Hashem due to his former deeds. The person who meted it out was just the messanger.
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.