Learning to Give Compliments from a Rabbi

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A New Book by Artscroll Publishers, “Yedidi – Rabbi Shmuel Berkovicz, whose warmth and caring inspired people to strive for greatness by Rabbi Yechiel Spero” is about a Congregation Rabbi that lead with love.

Recently, in the Weekly Mesorah Heritage Foundation’s Torah pamphlet called “AT THE ARTSCROLL SHABBOS TABLE – WEEKLY INSPIRATION AND INSIGHT ADAPTED FROM CLASSIC ARTSCROLL TITLES” Acharei Mos / פרשת אחרי מות / כייט ניסן תשפייב / 5782 / APRIL 30, 2022 / ISSUE #88 – it talks of his all compassing love for others.

Here is a quote I found particularly Helpful in the quest to make others feel good.

It Doesn’t Cost Money
Shlomo Hamelech / King Solomon teaches (Mishlei / Proverbs 25:11), “Tapuchei zahav be’maskiyos kasef davar davur al ofnav” Like golden apples carved on silver plates, so is a word spoken in its proper place.” Rabbi Berkovicz was the master of saying the right thing, at the right time, in the right place. He understood the power of a compliment and did not hold back. No one was too smart or too simple, too old or too young, too chashuv or too insignificant for a compliment from Reb Shmuel. As he always said, “Es kost nisht kein gelt. It doesn’t cost money to make someone feel good!”

The Human Side of Life – Choosing a Personal Over Tech Interaction

I fly. I take a trip here and there. Interesting how people are occupied. Apparently, before now, people were more involved with their books. Now everyone has a screen – their own personal screen. I chose to turn my screen off. I took a quick survey on the plane of how many people are watching their screens or how many screens are on.

It appears that human communication has taken a backseat to connecting with a computer or a screen. I cannot honestly say that I too am not guilty. But one of the reasons I write my thoughts is not to correct others but to correct myself.

I feel the difference between interacting with a screen and interacting with a human. After I get up from a computer – I feel cold, neutral nothing. When I choose to detach myself from my computer and interact – I feel satisfaction. Apparently it is a balance – but more and more people are choosing to tune the world out and tune into the latest football game, movie, video.

I ask myself – after getting up from my screen – “what am I accomplishing? Has my watching made this world a better place?” Apparently not. or not as much as I would have had I done something more productive.

Judaism is all about connecting. Connecting with self. Connecting with others. Connecting with G-d. Torah gives us a 3 Dimensional Life. Many have a 2-dimensional life. Connecting with a computer is eroding even the two-dimensions.

G-d gave us an opportunity to connect to the Divine through Torah. I wish I could connect more.

Elifaz is Saved by Yeshiva – The Influence of a Place of Torah

Esav / Esau – in this week’s parasha / weekly Torah reading – VaYetze – instructs his son Elifaz to kill Esav’s Brother Yaakov / Jacob. Elifaz encounter’s Yaakov and tells his uncle that his father instructed him to kill Him. Elifaz is concerned about following his father’s orders as he thinks that Honoring one’s parents – supersedes killing Yaakov.

Yaakov tells him – there is a way to accomplish both – killing Yaakov and Honoring parents. Yaakov tells him “Take all my money. A poor person is considered as if he is dead.” Elifaz learned that in the Yeshiva – either with Yaakov or Yitzhak / Issac his grandfather.

Several lessons :

Help People to Do Good

If you can help a person do a Torah Mitzvah – help him or her.

The Power of a Yeshiva / Torah Study Hall and Torah Study

The Steipeler Gaon, Zt”l – Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky learns from this The influence of sitting in a Yeshiva has great power. Elifaz – who was ready to kill his uncle did not do so – because he learned in a Yeshiva.

Just in sitting in the Yeshiva has an influence – learning Torah there has even more of a positive influence. If a person is tempted by his or her evil inclination – bring the evil inclination to a Torah study hall. Hash-m says “I created the Yetzer HaRa – I created Torah as an elixir.”  It also says in Talmud Kiddushin (30b) :

A Sage from the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: My son, if this wretched one, the evil inclination, encounters you, pull it into the study hall, i.e., go and study Torah. If it is a stone it will melt, and if it is iron it will break, as it is stated with regard to the Torah: “Is not My word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29). Just as a stone shatters a hammer, so too one can overcome his evil inclination, which is as strong as iron, through Torah study. With regard to the second part of the statement: If it is a stone it will melt, this is as it is stated with regard to the Torah: “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come for water” (Isaiah 55:1), and it states: “The water wears the stones” (Job 14:19), indicating that water is stronger than stone.

The Jewish Guru – Gil Locks

Gil Locks was a Guru. In the 70’s He was a Jewish Manhattan Lawyer. He thought to himself he wanted to something more in life. He decided to go all out to investigate life philosophies. He went to the east in search of truth. He wanted to learn from certain Gurus – that people would wait weeks just to see him. Once he waited and somehow met a particular guru. Eventually, he found out that the guru’s honesty left to be desired. He used to sit by Central Park West and 86th Street and sit silently on the floor – having taken an oath of silence. People would join him – sitting and watching and staying silent. He communicated with motions. He had a following. In his book -“Coming Back to Earth: The Central Park Guru Becomes an Old City Jew” – he mentions that this silence allowed him to reach certain powers that others did not have. At times he would see the immediate future – a Deja Vu of sorts – while awake.

Gil – now he goes by Gutman – In his quest – finally decided to investigate and learn about Judaism. One of his mantra’s was “Yea G-d” – teaching that “G-d is Love.” After years of searching, he found the Truth & Love he was looking for in Torah Judaism. Now he sometimes stands by the Kotel to talk to people and discuss philosophy of Torah as opposed to the philosophies he studied and rejected in the end. Someone adamant about finding truth – with effort and earnest prayer to Hash-m / G-d – will eventually find it – like Gutman did.