Happiness is a Choice


We control the horizontal.

We control the vertical.

We control the ups. We control the downs.

We control whether to have a left attitude or a right.

It is a statement in Chalzal (Chachamim Zichronam LiVracha – Our sages
of blessed memory.)

וְאָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא: הַכֹּל בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם, חוּץ מִיִּרְאַת
שָׁמַיִם.

HaKol Bidei Shamayim – Hutz MeYirat Shamayim. (Talmud Berakhot : 33b)

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.

So choose to be happy.

It is in your hands.

Happiness is a choice.

Convincing the Atheist of G-d – by

Belief in G-d is logical.

You have two choices to explain the existence of the world:

1) The World was created by a Highly Intelligent Creator that keeps it going daily.

2) The World was formed and continues to function through random atoms and molecules combining in perfect formations every single second.

It seems that Solution One is much more logical. The World shows Intelligent Design.

Solution two is impossible.

Agreeing with solution two is slightly akin to one saying he put plastic and metal in a blender – and an iphone came out – operating system included – with the latest apps and updates.

But people who already convinced themselves of non-belief in G-d for any reason – like, they would prefer not to know that G-d exists because it would put a damper on their pursuit of pleasures – unless, they are very honest & seek truth – would be hard to convince. They already made up in their mind they don’t want to believe.

What’s the problem with atheists? They are doing bad to themselves – because they could reach a higher level of reaching their potential if they did believe.

Exploring Truth

Torah Judaism is not afraid of questions. Truth is not afraid of questions. On the contrary Torah welcomes and encourages questions. That is the way you learn. In general a person learns Torah in a Chevruta – one-to-one. This allows learners to ask questions and sound out possibilities to get to truth.

Experiencing G-d

I was talking to someone and they told me that a rabbi found a different way to convince the non-believers of belief in G-d. He shows them nature. He explains that nature is a manifestation of G-d’s ways. By experiencing nature – you experience the greatness of G-d in a tangible way.

Bring them on a hiking or boating trip. Bring yourself on a nature trip and appreciate the wonders of G-d.

What Makes a Child More Resilient? Yetziat Mitzrayim / the Exodus from Egypt

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Someone told me of a podcast they heard on Resilience.

What allows a person to become resilient. Among other things – the author of an article on the subject mentioned – that if a child learns of family member’s past, their challenges, their triumphs, their difficulties, their jobs etc. the person apparently learns to be more resilient. It makes sense. If a family member encountered a difficult situation and overcame it, I can too. If they made it through tough times, I come from the same blood and also have it in me.

If they encountered a road block, i am not the only one in that situation. Other people are in the same boat and just like they eventually jumped over it, I can too.

G-d showed His Kind Hand in someone else’s life, He will also help me.

Hearing stories of family, of history of our people apparently transmits the same inner strength. It’s not just learning history – it’s transmitting values, valor and inner strength.

Every year, on Pesach / Passover, we tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. It not only gives us national unity in experiencing a common suffering that we overcame – but it transmits the power to overcome struggles. The power of resilience.

Our Shabbat. We eat together. Connect. Sing. Share stories & divrei Torah. The eating together helps us connect. We learn from each other and become stronger to face the week ahead.

 

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20 questions that can help you to evaluate how much your children know about you were formulated by Dr. Marshall Duke and Dr. Robyn Fivush. They created the “Do You Know?” scale in 2001 to ask children questions about their family in order to test the hypothesis that children who know more about their families are more resilient and can handle challenges better than children who have limited knowledge about their families.

The questions, designed to ask children things they would not know directly, are as follows:

1. Do you know how your parents met?
2. Do you know where your mother grew up?
3. Do you know where your father grew up?
4. Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up?
5. Do you know where some of your grandparents met?
6. Do you know where your parents were married?
7. Do you know what went on when you were being born?
8. Do you know the source of your name?
9. Do you know some things about what happened when your brothers or sisters were being born?
10. Do you know which person in your family you look most like?
11. Do you know which person in the family you act most like?
12. Do you know some of the illnesses and injuries that your parents experienced when they were younger?
13. Do you know some of the lessons that your parents learned from good or bad experiences?
14. Do you know some things that happened to your mom or dad when they were in school?
15. Do you know the national background of your family (such as English, German, Russian, etc)?
16. Do you know some of the jobs that your parents had when they were young?
17. Do you know some awards that your parents received when they were young?
18. Do you know the names of the schools that your mom went to?
19. Do you know the names of the schools that your dad went to?
20. Do you know about a relative whose face “froze” in a grumpy position because he or she did not smile enough?

‘The Exiting from Egypt’ or ‘The Taking Out Egypt’ – Breaking a Mentality or Mindset

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The commonly accepted translation of the Hebrew words Yetziat Mitzrayim – is ‘The Exiting from Egypt’. But let’s analyze a bit. Yetziah means ‘going out’. To make it ‘the going out of‘ we replace the letter Hei with a Tav. It thus becomes ‘The Going out of’ Mitzrayim means Egypt. The Going out of Egypt. Thus it could mean people are going out of Egypt or Egypt is going out of people.

The Jews were in Egypt for 210 years. They were subjected to slavery, torture, killing of babies, psychological torment and cruel and unusual punishment. They were about to adopt a “Slave Mentality” – to save the Jews from this Mentality – Hash-m had to take them out of Egypt within 18 minutes. They were freed and Left just in time to escape that mentality.

It took them 40 years of wandering in the desert to remove this mentality properly.

They became the servants of Hash-m / G-d – when they accepted the Torah about 50 days after leaving Egypt.

If so when were they ever free? They went from being servants to the Pharaoh to the Servants of G-d.

The Answer: By the Jews accepting the Yolk of Hash-m and to Observe the Torah – that is what gave them freedom. A person can by physically free – yet a servant to their desires, temptation, habits, mindset, mentality. Torah Observance breaks all those shackles.

A person might think themselves completely free or independent but they are still the subject of their society, their upbringing, and the media they consult.

Hash-m is the only completely independent Being. His commands are the best possible commands that a person can follow. These commands make a person free. If a person follows their desires – they are a servant of their desires.

Once a person, after the army, decided to go tour the Amazon forest. He was confident – “I don’t need a guide – I hiked many forests and was able to navigate out of them.” He entered the forest and lost his way. He was lost for about 2 weeks searching for the exit. He met an old man. He asked him the way out. The man replied “I have been here for 20 years and can’t tell you the way out – but I can tell you which ways not to go. Going this and this way will bring you to a dead end. Going this way you are stopped by a river.” – The young man was completely free to do what he wanted – yet he was a prisoner of the forest.

Having the directions of the old man helped him to be slightly more free because he had more hope of getting out.

Removing the ‘Egypt’ from us

A person can break a mentality. A person can gain confidence. A person can change – but they need directions. The directions of the Torah helps him to free himself.

Let’s say a person is overweight – he or she is being addicted to food. So going on a diet will help them. But some go too far and become anorexic – that they are psychologically convinced to remain thin. So they are also controlled by their mindset of being thin. (Obviously both should seek proper help).

The Torah mentality is to follow the middle path. The Middle path is complete. This is stated by the Rambam – Maimonides in His Mishne Torah – on Human Dispositions.

As for us, we are charged to walk in these middle-paths, which are the good and straight paths, even as it is said: “And thou shalt walk in His ways” (Deut. 28 9).

Torah is the word of Hash-m / G-d who wants the complete best for us. Following his ways does not only allow us to live a better life – but allows us to be free – like it says in Pirkei Avot 6:1:

“And the tablets were the work of G-d and the writing was the writing of G-d, engraved (charuth) upon the tablets.” Read it not “charuth,” but “cheiruth” (freedom), for no one is free but him who studies Torah. For whoever studies Torah is exalted, as it is written (Numbers 21:19): “And from Matanah (the gift [of Torah]), Nachliel (‘the inheritance of the L rd’); and from Nachliel, Bamoth (‘the high mount’).”

Trust in G-d Fear Not

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My friend Avner told me when a person trusts in the stock market – if the stock goes up he is happy. If it goes down – he is not. One who trusts in G-d – whether the market goes up or down – he is happy because he knows that Hash-m is doing all for the good.

When a person trusts the media – if they hear good things they are happy. If they hear bad – they are not. If they hear good statistics of covid they are happy. If they hear bad statistics – they are not.

Unfortunately – I heard that in Japan more people died from fear of covid than covid itself.

Trust in Hash-m – live a happy life – not a fearful one.

Those who fear Hashem, Have faith in Hashem! He is their helper and guardian. (Psalms / Tehillim 115:11.)

Why is Infinity a Number Eight on it’s Side?

Why is Infinity a Number Eight on it’s Side?

The Number 8 is the only number greater than zero whose writing can technically continue forever.

Torah says in Bereshit / Genesis of Five Books of Moses – that G-d created the world in Six Days Days and rested on the seventh day.

All of nature was created in Seven Days. Above the seven days is a the supernatural. Eight is above the natural world. Beyond the natural and limited world is infinity.

The Victory of Hannukah – Building Yourself with Light

King Antiochus was notorious for conquering countries with a strong hand. When conquering Israel – his objective was not just physical subjugation – but mental subjugation. His war  wasn’t just a war against nations – but a war against spirituality. Spirituality is basically connecting with the Creator of the Universe – Hash-m.

He outlawed Circumcision, Rosh Hodesh / the New Month, and Shabbat. The Jews fought back and after a war lasting almost 25 years – Hash-m gave victory in their hands – they won the war. The major miracle was the Jews’ victory over the superpower of that time – Greece.

We know that in the end – when the Jews come to purify the Holy Temple / Beit HaMikdash -they find one jug of oil with the seal of the Cohen Gadol / Chief. This oil, that is supposed to last one day, lasts eight days.

G-d Loves the Sincere Efforts of the Common Man

The Rambam says that if the Mizbeach / Altar is broken – one is not required to light the Menorah. The Greeks broke the altar  So why did they want to light it? There was no Mitzvah / commandment to light the Menorah. It was just a commemoration – to remember the Mitzvah. So why did G-d make a miracle if they weren’t even doing a Mitzvah? Apparently, G-d appreciates even the small, sincere efforts that a person makes to establish a connection with him.

My friend told me a story of a woman who ordered a “Kosher” Hot Dog for her son in Manhattan on Passover. On Passover we are forbidden to eat bread. She was very adamant that the vendor not put the Hot Dog on the bun. “Don’t Touch the Bread with the Hot Dog!” I am sure that Hash-m had satisfaction from that woman’s sincere effort to avoid allowing her son to eat Hametz – leavened products on Passover.

Build What Others Want to Break

I was listening to Rabbi Shaked Bouhdana. He mentioned an interesting point. Antiochus outlawed Circumcision, Rosh Hodesh / the New Month, and Shabbat. The Jews fought hard to have the freedom to do these Mitzvot and others. It turns out that Hanukah Lasts 8 days – the same amount of time a child born waits to be circumcised. Since Hanukah lasts Eight days – it is sure that at least one Shabbat will fall during Hanukkah. There is always a New Month that falls on Hanukkah. When we fought for a Mitzvah that others wanted to outlaw – we won by having a greater level of sanctification for these three Mitzvot.

If we use our forces for the positive growth spiritually we gain in a greater way than what we originally had.

Building Your Personality

Some people are fragile. Send one word out of place – and here comes the fire. Someone asked me how to deal with difficult people. I said – we shouldn’t look at people who upset us as our enemies. Ultimately – our deeds that we sent out are boomeranging back to us.

The Boomerang Principal – Midah Keneged Midah / Measure for Measure

If we got angry at a spouse – this anger will find it’s way back. So the smart thing to do is to recognize this principal and when someone lashes out at us – realize that that might be the fruit of our previous misdeed. So if we lash back at them – it is akin to a (pardon the comparison) dog biting a stick that was thrown at him. We bite at the stick – the person who lashed at us – but we forget that we were the one who initially threw the stick.

Fight fire with water – not fire. Calm the situation. Don’t fuel the fire.

 

Green Chiretta vs. Covid

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Saw this Article in Mishpacha Jr. Guard Your Soul.

Convicts Fight Covid in-Thailand

  • Sivi Sekula

Prisoners in Thailand are Producing an herbal remedy to help their fellow convicts fight COVID-19. Green chiretta. also known as “bitter herbs” is a plant that
has been grown in Asia for centuries for its medicinal properties. All parts of the plant are used to treat various ailments. The leaf of the plant is a poplar herbal remedy for fevers, coughing, and infectious diseases A substance in the plant called andrographolide helps prevent the spread of viruses. At the start of the pandemic, green chiretta was distributed in prisons as an emergency measure until a proper cure could be found. The unintended trial of green chiretta among inmates proved very successful. Out of 11,300 inmates treated With green chiretta 99.02% recovered. In July, the Thai government authorized the use of chiretta to treat mild and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19. Thailands prisons are notoriously overcrowded, and social distancing is practically impossible; one-quarter of The prisoners caught COVID-19 in just six months. Now, prisoners are growing and harvesting green chiretta in fields near their prisons. The leaves are tied, ground, and packaged into capsules, which are then sent to prisons across the country. •

Say Thank G-d & Thank You

Avraham Avinu / Abraham Our Forefather defeated the 4 kings who defeated 5 kings in a war.

Malki Tzedek – who was Shem – the son of Noach – came to greet him from his battle return with bread & wine.

He said Blessed is Avraham and Blessed is Hash-m / G-d. (Genesis 14:19)

Since he acknowledged and gave thanks to Avraham before acknowledging Hash-m, the priesthood was removed from MalkiTzedek and given to Avraham.

Someone did good to you?

Say Thank G-d & Thank You

 

Of Angels and Animals – How to Rule Over Animals.

Last week we read the first Parasha / Torah Reading of Bereshit / Genesis. Speaking of the creation of Man it says “You will rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and all living creatures.” (Bereshit / Genesis 1:28)

When G-d made man the Torah says “Let us Make man… and He created man.” It should say let ME make man. Why does it say “Let US make man.” One explanation is that he was talking with the Earth. Man is composed of a physical Body made from earth and Spiritual soul that Hash-m supplies. Thus He said to the earth let us make man.

Another Explanation why it says “Let US make man” is that G-d has 10 attributes / Sephirot (Crown, Understanding, Wisdom, Strength, Kindness, Beauty, Splendor, Victory, Foundation & Kingship). He wanted to include them all in Man.

G-d wanted to teach the world a lesson – one should consult other people – even if they may not be as great as yourself. G-d consulted with the angels before creating man – Thus he said – “Let US create man.” When Hash-m actually created man – The Torah says “And Hash-m created {singular verb form} man.”

Another explanation is that G-d created man with all kinds of “animals” in him – at times he is bold like a leopard, or quick like the eagle, (see Pirkei Avot 5:20) or lazy like a sloth. It is up to man to overcome those animal instincts inside him. Thus it says – “You shall master over … the living creatures” – the creatures – inside a person.

When we do mitzvot, learn Torah and rule over our negative inclinations – we dominate our animals and become the way that man intended us to become. We become more like an angel. But really man is greater than an angel – if he uses his time for growing spiritually through Torah. If he follows his passions he becomes more like an animal.

Animals are naturally afraid of man. But when a man follows his animal inclinations – the animal sees the man as another animal and attacks him.

Once the Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh / Rabbi Haim Ben Attar – from Morocco – who wrote a commentary on the Torah – was sent into a lion’s cage by the sultan. The sultan was upset that he – a Jeweler by trade – did not make the Sultan’s Jewelry by the deadline. He took his Talit & Tephillin and Torah Sepharim / Books and sat there learning in the cage. The hungry lions were afraid to approach him.

The sultan saw this, realized that he was a Holy man and released the Ohr HaHaim – and apologized for doing so.

One of the ministers – sneered – perhaps the lions are not hungry. The sultan threw the minister in instead and the lions devoured him.

We can rule over the animals – if we rule over ourselves first.