The Dynamics of Change – 5 Easier Ways to Change Habits

Change is a challenge. People want to do the same as yesterday and tomorrow like today. We have things we know we must change – but we are so used to it – how will we do it?

For Yom Kippur / the Day of Atonement – there is a question in the Talmud if one must actually repent / do teshuva to receive atonement from Heaven or is teshuva not required to receive atonement – meaning the day itself causes atonement. It concludes one does teshuva to receive atonement.

The four parts of Teshuva / Repentence are :

Opportunities to Clean the Slate – Teshuva / Repentance – 4 Steps of Repentance

1. CessationStopping doing the misdeed

2. Commitment – Firm resolve never to repeat the deed. One is forgiven if he or she is in the same situation & doesn’t commit the sin.

3. RegretSincere Remorse for Wrong one did. Obviously one has to know what is right & wrong. To know – A Jew learns the 613 Mitzvot or the (Kitzur) Shulchan Aruch / Code of Jewish Law – regulating Jewish life. A Gentile learns their 7 Noahide Laws.

4. ConfessionVerbal Admitting to G·d / Hash·m the wrong one did & asking for forgiveness. If one wronged another, ask forgiveness

Why do children not hold grudges & adults may carry resentment? Children choose to be happy over being right. Adults choose being right over being happy. (Tzemach Tzedek) (Rambam / Maimonides – Mishne Torah – Book of Knowledge – Laws of Repentance – Ch. 2 & 4 )

A study on change found two points that can help us change:

  1. Build in Slack into your change – at times a person changes. They may fall a bit.
  2. It is easier to do something new than to change a habit.
  • Build in Slack into your change – at times a person changes. They may fall a bit.

Let’s say they are on a diet – and they eat a cookie. So they say “How can I have done that? Now I am going to eat a whole bag of cookies.”

All wisdom comes from the Torah – like it says in Pirkei Avot (5:22) – “Turn it over [the Torah] and Turn it over. For all is in it.” A verse in Mishle / Proverbs (24:16) by King Solomon states: “Seven times the righteous falls and gets up. But the irreligious stumble with one misfortune.”

The path to righteousness is not a straight line going upward. A person goes up and at time falls. Then tries again and goes higher than before and may fall again – and they keep going up. The line of change is like a stock chart of a good stock. It goes up and falls a bit. Then it goes up again and falls a bit. You wouldn’t get rid of a stock that has great earning potential – because it goes down a point or two. Don’t give up on your change if you fall a bit.

  • It is easier to do something new than to change a habit. Complement habit to something new

It is easier to do something new than to change a habit. A habit is ingrained in a person. After many years of doing the same thing – it is difficult to change. If a person wants to change they can complement it with a new action. If you drink a lot of Soda when you go to the restaurant – you can say – every time I go to the restaurant I will take my friend that annoys me about drinking soda.

Here is one that is related – that was put into my mind:

  • Make something that you want to do dependent upon what you don’t want to do.

I used to procrastinate more than I do today. The above is a concept I used to reduce procrastination and become more efficient. Let’s say you like to check your emails. You might procrastinate to write memos. Make a RULE – “Do not check emails – until I write memos.” Stick by the rule.

  • Change your “Got to” to “Get to”

At times we look at something as a chore – “I have to cook”, “I got to do the laundry“, “I got to get up.”

Change your perspective that it is a privilege. “I get to cook” – I like cooking. I want to cook to help the family be healthy – I get to do that mitzvah! I am helping my loved ones to have a good nutritional meal and be healthy. What a great merit.

  • Wake up before you snooze.

I forgot when the snooze button was created – some say 1847. There is snooze button on the alarm clock. There is snooze mode sleep. I have another 5 minutes. When you get up before the snooze – I is easier to get up than getting up after snooze. If you procrastinate – in the beginning of the day – by hitting snooze – it might make it easier to procrastinate the rest of the day.

 

The Yield Sign & Judaism

The Shabbat / Sabbath between Rosh Hashana / the New Year & Yom Kippur / the day of atonement is called Shabbat Shuva. The Shabbat of Return.

Hash-m gives us Seven days between Rosh Hashana & Kippur to fix our faults for that day of the year. What does G-d want from us? If we didn’t put on Tephillin, we start putting it on. If we didn’t go to synagogue on time – we try to come on time. Hash-m basically wants us to advance one step further. Take the next Mitzvah upon yourself.

Balance of Good & Evil for Freedom of Choice

In this world – evil & good exist. They balance each other out. G-d did this to allow a person full freedom of choice. One can do miraculous deeds through purity – and one can do magical deeds through impurity – black magic. If only good had the power to do miraculous deeds – people would abandon evil. If only people who did good would become wealthy – people would become good – but not for the right reasons. They would be good to become rich – not because Hash-m told them to do good.

The Quick Fall

The Jews they were prompted to do the sin of the golden calf – attributing divine powers to a physical object – because the Satan / Evil Force showed them that their leader Moshe Rabeinu / Moses was deceased. They were so despondent they fell quickly to follow after a foreign idol.

A person can fall two ways – the Evil Inclination introduces anti-ethical and anti-Torah ideas little by little. Thus he chips away at a person’s morality – until he or she falls.

Another way is for a person to become despondent and fall very quickly to do evil deeds.

The Quick Rise

On the other side of the coin – a person can rise very quickly. He can become very inspired or motivated to follow Torah ideals.

Or little by little – through learning Torah, Listening to Torah lectures, attending Torah classes at an Orthodox synagogue – he or she grows slowly.

The Steady Path of Self Improvement and Self Growth

Either method to rise is good. Yet the Torah prefers a person to rise slowly. This helps a person stay the course and continue in a steady path of growth.

Yielding to others (Being Mevater) – for things that go not against Torah is a good thing. We yield to others at times – to create peace. We yield our will to the will of Hash-m – that’s how we grow. Like it says in Pirkei Avot (2:4) – on Doing the Will of Hash·m:

He [Raban Gamliel] used to say, make His [G·d’s / Hash·m’s] will as your will in order that He will make your will as His will. Nullify your will before His will in order that He will nullify the will of others because of your will.

God gives us a tremendous opportunity. Let’s use it to grow.

The Faster Computer – Is the Grass Greener on the Other Side of the CPU

I won the auction. The computer’s chip was twice as fast as mine. It had twice the memory. It had a powerful graphics card. Wow.

I bring it home and turn it on. The fan spins a bit then stops. My uncle who sees it says to replace the computer motherboard. So I say ok – let me use some of the parts. The memory does not fit my old computer. The chip also. At least the graphics card will work in my computer. I test it and find my graphics card to be faster.

Yes – I saw glory. A faster computer. But it just ended up as a waste of time.

OK. So what can I learn? Sometimes we covet something that belongs to someone else. We think – If I have it, I will be happy. It turns out that your own situation is better than what you imagined.

In Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers 4:1 it says “Who is the rich person – the one who is happy with what he has.”

It also says in Pirkei Avot 2:7 “The more possessions – more worries.”

OK. I’ll be happy with my good old Dell Desktop computer.

Lamborghini Stuck in Traffic – What’s Stunting Your Growth?

Driving ahead to the left of me was a Black Lamborghini Aventador. I was stuck in slow traffic. So was he. He got about 30 yards of space so he sped up and then quickly stopped. The idea of a fast sports car is prestige and speed. Well at least he had one – prestige. Regarding speed – he was going about my speed in my old van.

Superheros in Judaism – Superpowers of the Jewish Righteous

People are the same way. G-d endowed people with tremendous abilities. We can even achieve – Super-Human abilities like we see many true instances in the Torah.

Superpowers mentioned in Torah

Some superhuman acts brought in the Torah include invisibility – like Pinhas, being averse to effects of fire – like Avraham Avinu (in the fiery furnace), transporting from one place to another in an instant (kefitzat haDerech) – like Yaakov Avinu (Jacob), walking through walls, seeing the future – like prophets, seeing what is happening in another place, transforming things from one thing to another (like Yosef HaTzadik), transforming oneself into another being, freezing a person, levitation / flying (like Pinhas), levitating objects. (Perhaps I’ll make a new post on it with further details – further on).

So why don’t we achieve? We’re slowed by traffic.

Thank G-d for Free Choice

G-d made the world for a person to choose between good and evil. We say a blessing  in the Daily Morning Blessings for this gift – “Barukh… HaNoten laSechvi Bina leHavchin ben yom uben layla.” / Blessed are You, Hash-m,… Who gives the heart of man the Ability to choose between Day (ie, good) and Night (ie, evil).”

A person can achieve great heights in good or in evil. And with both he or she can achieve the powers above. Witchcraft, sorcery, talking to the dead and black magic are all real according to Torah. But they are all forbidden – because it is using forces for evil.

Whatever can be done through evil can also be done through powers of good. G-d made it that way for a person to be able to have freedom of choice. If a person could only let’s say become rich by doing good – people would only be good – not for good itself – but to become rich.

What’s Stunting Your Growth?

I was at a Bar Mitzvah party last night. I mentioned – that at 13 a boys starts putting on Tefillin / Phylacteries – the black crown on the head and arm sign that a Jewish man wears. At the age of 13 (according to the Hebrew Year) – a Jewish boy becomes responsible to do mitzvot like a man. A girl becomes responsible at 12 for woman’s mitzvot. (Why 12? A girl matures earlier than a boy.)

Knowing our Goal in Life – Self-Improvement through Torah

After a Jewish boy is born he is circumcised. One message of Bris Milah is that a person is not born perfect – it is our job in life to perfect ourselves. Another message is that a person should direct their passions towards those permitted by Torah.

Attaching Ourselves to the One Who said “Let There Be Light”

Tephillin – allude to a crown and attachment to Hash-m. A crown to remind the wearer that he is nobility – that he is a child of the King / Hash-m – making him a prince. Recognizing his high stature and responsibility teaches the Bar Mitzvah – that he has importance in this world to make it better. This gives him self-esteem & confidence to face, overcome challenges and build the world.  Attachment to Hash-m is one of the ways we establish a connection to Him and emulate Him.

So – anything that creates a detour to our relationship with G-d will stunt our growth – excessive involvement in – politics, gossip, watching videos, TV, sports, etc.

The Difference between Permitted & Forbidden pleasures in Judaism

Exercise is good – overdoing it is not. Eating is good – overdoing it is not. Judaism – is not averse to pleasure. In fact it encourages permitted pleasure. Usually – the pleasures of Judaism – are pleasures that build a society, build a family, build an individual – spiritually, physically & materially. If you look at many of the pleasures forbidden by Torah they are pleasures that do not have purpose. They are pleasure without purpose or Pleasure for only for the sake of pleasure.

Change Yourself – to Change the World

Once a rabbi wanted to change the world. He saw he could not. He said he will change his country. He was not successful. He said perhaps his province. No luck. His city. Nope. His family – no success. He finally decided to change himself. Eventually – he changes the whole world.

A good place to start to better oneself – for Gentiles is to learn about the 7 Noahide laws from Torah. For Jews – it is to learn the Shulchan Aruch & Pirkei Avot.

 

Time for Time Rule – a Time Waster Breaker & Productivity Rules of the Rich

We want to be productive. It is interesting, why is this so? I believe that it is the same reason that we want that perfect box of cereal. No scratches or dents on our car. Or why imperfect items sell cheaper than “perfect” ones.

Why we want perfection and Productivity?

Once I heard a Shiur or Rabbi Yigal Haimoff – he asked the question. He answered – that we have an inherent desire to emulate G-d. Just like a child wants to emulate their parents- and many a time does – we also want to emulate Hash-m. Thus we want perfection – we want productivity.

Basically the reason is that we are composed of the body and soul. Really a lower level soul and a higher level soul. The lower level soul wants lower level things – food, gratification, sleep, rest – for the maintenance of the body. The higher level soul wants spiritual things – like to connect to Hash-m – through good deeds, Torah and Mitzvot. This soul wants to emulate G-d. We also have an “outside” influence called the Yetzer haTov (good inclination) & the Yetzer HaRa (evil inclination).

So how can we be productive – if we have a Yetzer HaRa – an Evil Inclination that pushes us to waste time, follow the forbidden and waste precious moments of life? We will be paid in the next world for the good we do. Thus – this Evil Inclination – wants us to waste time.

Rules of Productivity

Want productivity? Make rules that you stick by – generally. I mentioned in a previous post about the “Do it Before” Rule. Don’t Do a thing you like to Do – that is not necessary – before you do something you avoid doing – that is necessary. Like Don’t Check Shopping sites – until you send out orders.

Time for Time Rule

Another Rule is the Time for Time rule. You can dedicate an equal amount or proportion of time for all the time you spend on a non-necessary task.

If you are distracted by talking on the phone on personal calls – make a rule – for every minute I talk on the phone on personal calls – I have to dedicate 3 minutes to doing productive office work. You make the Rule. You set the time.

These rules helped me perhaps they can help you.

Productivity Rules of the Rich

The wealthiest people in the world use such rules. Warren buffet – I believe – writes 10 tasks that he needs to accomplish that day. He prioritizes them. He takes care of the top 5 and forbids himself from doing the second five (apparently before he accomplishes the first 5 tasks.) I heard that Bill Gates always tries to write down new ideas he has. Hash-m sometimes puts ideas in our mind.

Sometimes the Yetzer HaRa puts ideas in our mind. It is up to us to sort the good from the bad. This is where these rules help.

Be productive.

When Life Crashes or Judaism & the Art of Computer Maintenance

My Computer crashed yesterday. It wasn’t the first time. A long while back I had Microsoft Windows. I got the “Blue Crash Screen”. I had to figure out how to get my computer back up. I tried their recommended methods. No avail. I tried another version of Windows – but I had to find that Windows key to get it back. Didn’t work. Finally I just backed up my files and installed a new  Operating System instead of Windows – Linux. Fedora to be exact. Yesterday I just reinstalled Fedora again.

OK. Initially – It took time to adjust to a new Operating System. But now I am still running Linux. Yes I have Laptops that run Windows – but I am fine with Linux.

When Life Crashes

Similarly – a longer time ago I was living the high life. Yes I had ups and downs – but I was having a good time. Till my life crashed. I experienced sufferings as a teen. Yes – teen problems but crushing nonetheless. So I tried to make small changes to my life. I was sure – deep inside – the crash was a message from G-d / Hash-m. Before I became more dedicated to Judaism – I didn’t hesitate to make a Joke at the expense of other’s discomfort. I was funny – but at times I could hurt others feelings. For that I regret. The sufferings prompted soul searching.

The Connection between computers & life

We experience ups and downs. Many a time – these can be interpreted as messages. Messages from G-d / Hash-m to improve. To become closer to him. G-d is our father – and at times He steps in to wake us up to that fact. Or wake us up to strengthening our relationship with Him.

At times it is a little crash – like losing a wallet. At times it is a bigger crash – like losing one’s savings in the Stock market. Computers at times run slow, or fail – but it is up to us to get them up & running again. Like in life- when in difficulty – we try to find out how to get up and running again.

Don’t Give Up

But G-d does not want us to give up. If there are troubles – it is a time to reflect and prompt ourselves to improve. Embarrassing a person in public is forbidden in Torah. It is like killing. So as a youth – due to my troubles – I became more sensitive to people’s feelings. I apologized to the people I might have hurt. Now I try to joke in a way to bring a person up not down.

The Nurse that Gave Up

Some give up when life becomes harder. When sufferings raise their head. That’s the last thing G-d / Hash-m – your Father – wants from you. I still feel badly for the nurse who gave up on life – when she encountered so many cases of Covid – some she helped to save – some she couldn’t.

G-d  doesn’t want us to give up. At times He wants us to change our perspective on life. To take on a Torah perspective. In life it is forbidden for a person to take one’s life. The closer a person is to the person he/or she kills the worse it is. Killing – the one person that is closest to oneself, who is oneself – is one of the worst transgressions.

Ask All Your Questions to an Orthodox Rabbi

So what should that nurse have done. She was suffering from not being able to help as many people she could have. Apparently – she could have presented herself to an Orthodox Rabbi to ask for an explanation for why G-d sent Covid. Why was she not able to save as many people as she could have. Why did she have to witness so many deaths? What was a proper course of action for the future. What is a Torah outlook to cope with her difficult situations.

Pain is not the Worst Thing

People experience pain. But pain is not the worst thing that can happen. Not achieving what one can in life is worse than pain. Pain – like money comes and goes. But one who doesn’t achieve their potential in life – they can’t repair it after death.

David HaMelekh / King David wanted sufferings to come to him – because it gave him the opportunity to turn to G-d on a more emotional level – and to him even pain was preferable to a non-relationship with Hash-m.

Although I shy away from suffering – when I did suffer as a youth – I remember  it was easier to feel closer to Hash-m. All barriers between us were removed because – what was important in my eyes before – became secondary to relieve may suffering. I knew the way was to seek spirituality – by becoming closer to Hash-m through Torah.

How to Fix Life & Computers

When a computer crashes – you can try to fix it with software utilities – or try a new operating system to get your computer back on track. When Life crashes you can change little things and stick to the same lifestyle or you can try to try a new lifestyle that will help you change your outlook and attitude on life. Even if you are a bit unfamiliar – you can reduce the downtime in the future.

I did it with my computer and my life. With my computer I moved from Windows to Linux. With my life I moved from following the flow to following Torah Judaism.

Judaism, Logic & Practicality

People who like computers – in general like logic. I like logic. Judaism was the ultimate source of life for me because it answered all the questions I had and provided a logical framework for everything I do. I also like practicality – in Judaism we translate concepts into actions. It is not enough to say as it says in Torah – “Love Your fellow as Yourself” –  the Torah provides specific laws to put it into action – Like not speaking Lashon HaRah / Evil speech about others, giving charity, doing acts of kindness, etc.

Self-Improvement & Torah.

So what do you do when life crashes? Reflect. Reflect how to self-improve. Reflect how to get closer to Hash-m through Torah – for Gentiles through the 7 Noahide Laws from Torah and for Jews – the Shulchan Aruch – Jewish Code of law. (Link poiints to Kitzur / Abridged Shulchan Aruch)

Sometimes I look back and imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t take steps to improve. I would be a different person than I am today – and I am happy I did take those challenging but highly beneficial steps.

Believe It and Receive It

Believe it will be good and it will be good. If you believe something will be good – Hash-m / G-d will make it good.

Once Hillel Heard yelling from a house in the street. He said to a fellow “I know this is screaming not from my house.” He knew because he taught his household not to scream. But another proposed answer is that Hillel knew everything would be good – so he knew the yelling was not coming from his home.

Hash-m watches people as would a parent. Once I saw a Jewish person filling his tires with air at a Gas Station. I gave Him a card that says “Ein O’d Mile’vado” / There is Only Hash-m. He was astounded. He told me “Thank You. That is my motto in life. Don’t Just give out the card – Live it!”

The way that one wants to go – Hash-m brings him. Live your life a certain way – they will help you in heaven to go in that path. A thief that prays to be successful in his theft will be helped. Though, obviously he will be punished for the theft.

Thus – a person might be led in a path – because he wants to be lead that way. Thus a proper prayer is to ask Hash-m to guide him in the path of Truth. And search for Truth.

Shalom Bayit / Peace at Home ABCs – 14 Ideas to Help Save Your Marriage

Little things make a big difference in life – especially to a wife. A Nice word. A little smile. A small gift. A note of thanks. A meaningful moment together.

The Purpose of Marriage

The purpose of marriage is to be able to make a relationship between man & woman who will live a meaningful, loving, satisfying life spiritually and materially. This union – through the guidance of the Torah – helps a couple achieve their purpose in life. When this foundation is understood – it is more likely to thrive and survive.

Kindness

One of the foundations of the Torah is doing Kindness. The world stands upon Kindness. Kindness starts at home. According to Torah, A man is to give a gift to his wife before each Jewish holiday and when he finds something to her liking. It is recommended for him to buy flowers for Shabbat. He must talk with her with respect. He must satisfy her, material, emotional, physical and spiritual needs. She is a partner in the marriage. Their couple is one of personal and spiritual growth.

Your own needy & the needy of your city – your needy take precedence. Some are kindly with strangers. Yet, at home they are a tyrant. That is not the Torah way. The Torah way is to give more attention and kindness to those closer to you.

All kind things are recommended by Torah to have at home. Shalom Bayit / peace at home allows a person to live a productive and meaningful life. If peace is at home, children live a more serene, secure, stable and balanced existence – which allows them to have a more balanced personality. If bickering is at home – children are affected negatively. There is no magic cure for Shalom Bayit. Yet there are recommendations.

Learn to Do little Nice things

Help around the house. Take care of fixing something. Say thank you. Say I appreciate all that you do. Appreciation is one of the foundations of Judaism. We are called Yehudim – which comes from the name Yehuda – which comes from the Hebrew word for “giving thanks.” Appreciation can be expressed with word, gifts or action. If you don’t know what to say – leave a note. We – Ohr Binyamin – give out free Judaica cards. Once someone asked me – Do You have a card on Shalom bayit / Peace at Home. I said Yes – “It is called the You are Special Card – read one of the things to show how special you are to your wife every day.”*

Pray to Hash-m for Shalom Bayit

Pray to Hash-m / G-d for Shalom Bayit. He will give you opportunities to have peace. At times divorce may be in order – but discussions with a competent Orthodox rabbi must precede it. Grounds for divorce in Judaism – if a partner is unfaithful or other things. But as mentioned before, a competent Orthodox rabbi should be involved.

Learn About Shalom Bayit

To have Peace at Home one should have a goal to have Peace at Home. Read Jewish books, attend Jewish Classes, see Jewish seminars on the subject of Shalom Bayit. You can do it together or alone. One book I read even before I got married was – the River, the Kettle & The Bird – which is based upon a Gemara / Talmud Tractate in Berakhot. It says that one who dreams of those things will have peace at home. The book explains the entire concept of the 3 different forms of relationships that one can have in marriage. In short 1) a give and take / business-deal relationship, 2) a company employee relationship – you take care of kids – I’ll make the money 3) A single unit relationship – like a bird that soars to the sky and lands on earth – as one unit they soar to spiritual heights.

Learn Torah or Pirkei Avot Together

It is good to have a small learning session together – regularly. It could be 5 minutes daily or bi-weekly. Communication is key to speak together at least 1/2 hour a day.

Send Your Children to an Orthodox Torah Day School

When children are in line – it helps parents to get along. If one parent thinks children should do A – while the other thinks B is more appropriate – it is an tension builder. Torah schools Teach Kivud Av Vaem – Honoring parents, Derech Eretz – proper conduct, Respect of Others, Respect of Elders, Respect of Rabbis. If they are acting properly – it reduces stress & strain.

Be into Self-Improvement

The Torah way is to be better every day. Today I am good. Tomorrow I am better. This is only done through Torah Self improvement works – called Mussar.

Make Torah Your Guide in Life

Orthodox Jews usually have stable marriages. One major reason is they base their life, actions and thoughts on Torah. Torah is a detailed guide of how to live a meaningful, peaceful, productive, purposeful life. Basing one’s life on Torah – will help set foundations for a peaceful home. Shabbat – allows us to enjoy time with the family. The Torah recommends to and commends people to marry. It is a Mitzvah / commandment. The commandment to marry – pushes people to marry and not tarry. The Torah sets peaceful foundations at home.

Don’t Procrastinate

My uncle – a Shachan / Matchmaker – asked an older man why he never got married. He replied “I forgot to.” Statistics show, many Jews outside the Orthodox community are either marrying later or choosing a life of being single. Apparently, one reason is that they view not the importance of marriage as the Torah proposes.

Other reasons may be – they don’t find the right one, they have other priorities, they prefer being single, they don’t want responsibilities involved, they are involved in other things  – like a career, education. When one learns the proper hashkafot / Jewish outlook of marriage – one becomes more interested in tying the knot. Pushing marriage off – without making a serious concerted effort – at least as one would do to find a job – might make it harder later. As a youth – one is more idealistic and set in their ways. There are more opportunities – thus many Orthodox Jews get married younger – to found a family according to the guidance of Torah.

A Compatible Mate

One most important thing in having peace at home is choosing a mate with similar goals, values, mentalities, and aspirations. A statistic that supports  Interracial marriages have a divorce rate of 41% after 10 years while – same race marriage had a divorce rate of 31%.

Choosing the Right Mate – Finding Similarities

We try to choose people as mates that come from a good family and have good character traits. G-d matches people with similar values. If you want a better mate improve yourself. I give that as advice to people. “If you are hanging out at bars, you will likely marry someone who does the same. If you attend Torah Lectures / Shiurim, you will likely marry someone who does the same. If you study Torah and pray daily, , you will likely marry someone who does the same. Thus if you improve your level of Torah observance – you will likely get a mate that also does the same.”

Do Your Due Diligence

Thus many Orthodox Jews do extensive research on a mate prospect before agreeing to a date. They involve Shadchanim / Matchmakers, Rabbis, Friends of the spouse prospect, roommates & more. They do their homework. They ask about if they have good Middot / charachter traits, are they psychologically stable, are they diligent in studying torah, are they responsible, can they support a family, where is their mindset. If they do their homework – there are less surprises once married. It makes sense – you do your research for buying a car – which may last 10 years – then marriage that is a relationship that is supposed to last a lifetime – homework is in order.

Deal Breaker – Judaism & Good Character Traits

A Jew searching for a marriage mate should have several deal breakers. One of them – their potential spouse should be Jewish – for the reasons mentioned in the article. The second is that the spouse should have good personal character traits / middoth. Good middot make the difference between a peaceful marriage and a stressful one. A person who is learning Torah has an advantage in the sense that they usually adhere to the precepts of the Torah in the Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers. But it is not a guarantee.

Avoiding Intermarriage

Jews who marry Jews have a more peaceful marriages than – mixed marriages. According to Torah it is forbidden for a Jew to intermarry – for it causes the children to leave the Torah faith & follow after foreign worship. Statistics show, Most married Jewish parents say they are raising their children as Jewish by religion. Yet, Statistics also show, Intermarried parents much less likely to be raising their children Jewish.

A Jewish woman in a mixed marriage documentary said: “Our marriage was going smoothly until the birth of our baby boy. I was thrilled and wanted to arrange for a Bris (circumcision). But my husband thought I was crazy and said, ‘I won’t allow that …” Egon Mayer, a professor at Brooklyn College who studies interfaith issues and published a study linking intermarriage with higher divorce rates, Children of intermarried couples frequently suffer an identity crisis. “Where do they go? Who do they Identify with? Which holiday should they observe?” Are questions they ask.

If people are already intermarried – the couple should consult a competent Orthodox Rabbi – see OU.org synagogue finder – to see what is involved in converting the gentile / non-Jewish spouse to Torah Judaism. Usually the spouse must agree to a Torah Study program, to Follow laws of Shabbat / the Sabbath, Kashrut / Keeping Kosher and Family Purity Laws. Practical advice for any person who wishes to convert to Judaism – is to seek an Orthodox Rabbi – that know the laws and can guide you to a Beit Din / Jewish Court of Law who will perform a conversion that is accepted by all Orthodox Rabbis. If you are going to do it – do it right.

Conversion to Judaism

I knew a Ger / convert to Judaism who was converted through one Beit Din that was not so reliable and decided to do another conversion – through a more reliable one. His Name was Charlie.

Gentiles who Marry Gentiles

For gentiles, the way they live also affects their mate. If they learn their 7 Noahide Laws from the Torah – they will more likely marry a mate that will do the same.

Judaism & Self Improvement

If each member of the couple has a goal of self improvement – it makes for a better marriage. I want to make the other person happy. I want to make Hash-m happy. Thus I try to be on my best behavior. My goal is to make a peaceful home – not to show that I am right. The best Self-improvement works you will every find are based upon Torah sources. What the world calls self-improvement – we call Mussar.

Do Kindness at home and you will find kindness.

One of the Pillars the world stands upon is kindness.

The Raison d’Etre of the Universe is mentioned in Pirkei Avot 1:2:

2. Shimo’n the righteous was from the remainder of the men of the Great Assembly. He used to say: Upon three things the world stands [ie, its reason for its continued existence]– On the Torah, on the [Divine] Service [ie, prayer or korbanot / offerings on the altar] & on acts of loving kindness.

Make it your goal to do kindness in your world and kindness will come back.

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*We have many cards that can help Shalom Bayit – Like Derech Eretz / Proper Conduct CardThe Gratitude / the Basket of Compliments card, Prayer for Protection of Children & How to Show Your Love & Appreciation, and the Tehillim / Psalms for Shalom Bayit)

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Caveat – we sometimes link to Sefaria.org. Although it is a valuable resource for providing Jewish sources – the site also has works that are contrary to authentic Torah values. Some translations of authentic Torah sources might be suspect as well. The sources we link to are authentic. To not be misguided by false Torah values masquerading as Torah – be wary – on the site itself – to use the sources there that are authentic Torah values.  Here is a list of some of them. 

If you are unsure it is authentic Torah – ask a competent Orthodox Rabbi. Authentic Torah sages & commentators include Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ramban, Sforno, Abarbanel, Aderet Eliyahu (Rabbi Yosef Chaim), Alshich , Avi Ezer, Bartenura on Torah, Bekhor Shor, Birkat Asher on Torah, Chatam Sofer, Chizkuni, Chomat Anakh, Daat Zkenim,
Gur Aryeh, HaKtav VeHaKabalah, Haamek Davar, Kitzur Baal Haturim, Kli Yakar,
Malbim, Minchat Shai, Minei Targuma, Mizrachi, Ohev Ger, Or HaChaim, Paaneach Raza, Penei David, Rabbeinu Bahya, Ralbag Beur HaMilot, Ralbag on Torah, Rashbam,
Recanati on the Torah, Riva, Rosh, Shadal, Siftei Chakhamim, Torah Temimah on Torah, Tur HaAroch, Tzafnat Pa’neach, Tzror HaMor)

 

 

 

Make Peace – Make it Up

In the first chapter Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers it says to Love Peace:

הִלֵּל וְשַׁמַּאי קִבְּלוּ מֵהֶם. הִלֵּל אוֹמֵר, הֱוֵי מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן, אוֹהֵב שָׁלוֹם וְרוֹדֵף שָׁלוֹם, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת וּמְקָרְבָן לַתּוֹרָה:

12. Hillel & Shammai received it from them [from Shema’ya & Avtalyon]. Hillel says: Be like the students of Aharon – love peace & pursue peace love the creatures & draw them close to the Torah.

Torah Commentator – the Zera Shimshon – asks why does it need to say “Be like the students of Aharon” – we could understand the Mishna without that phrase. He explains that Aharon used to make peace between two parties by saying  to one – you know your friend really wants to make peace. Then he would say same to the other party.  When the two who were in a quarrel saw each other – they would make peace between each other.

He basically told a fib or a white lie to make peace – between friends in quarrel or family members, or between man and his wife.

So that’s why it says that phrase “Be like the students of Aharon” to teach the people – you, To even bend the truth to promote peace.

3 times 0 = 10? How to Not Be Misled by Falsity

The Seltzer Enigma

I was looking at a seltzer bottle’s ingredients. One serving is 0 calories. 3 servings is 10 calories. The last I checked 0 + 0 + 0 = 0. Or 3 servings x 0 calories per serving = 0 calories. Did the seltzer company come out with a new branch of mathematics? No. The reason for this discrepancy is that the FDA allows you to round to the nearest 10 calories. One serving of flavored seltzer is probably about 3 calories. They rounded to the nearest 10 – which is 0 for one serving. For 3 servings it is 9 calories – so they rounded to the nearest 10.

The point of this article is to help people discern what is true and good and what is bad and false.

Honest Reporting?

I am sure there remain people with morality and honesty in Journalist. The little news I do read are from sources that have some kind of non-biased bent – that report news facts.

The Change from Fact to Opinion

We are not here to condemn News organizations or Journalists. Yet I have more distrust of News media that 20 years ago. I remember the days where some kind of ethics reigned in the media. Nowadays – many once reputable news organizations – reports their take on the matter, at times reporting their own agenda & fake news. Some change spin doctor journalism into something close to fiction.

Falsity in History

It is not a new phenomena. People from ancient civilizations did the same. Reporting things – out of context – to give credibility to their agenda. Many cults, philosophies, religions use the same technique. Some will quote you verses from the “Bible” out of context to fit heir agenda. It makes them look good in the eyes of the ignorant. But the educated will not fall for their game.

Protect Yourself from Falsity

So how do you protect yourself from falsity and fakery? the simple answer: Educate Yourself & Research it. Be willing to sacrifice your comfort zone to find truth.

If you want to know three times zero is 10 – educate yourself in Mathematics. You know that 0 + 0 + 0 = 0. So there must be some explanation. If you know mathematics – you will attempt to discover a reasonable explanation for the discrepancy. If you don’t know math – you will accept it at face value.

Questioning Discrepancy

I know people who investigated many religions an cults. When they discovered a  discrepancy and asked about it – the leader either swept the question under the rug, or used the ‘you just have to have faith’ answer or looked down upon the person asking the question. These responses – lead the questioning person to have doubt that the person is covering up.

Questions to Improve Ourselves

The questions below are to help us to improve and clarify our philosophy in life. They are not to put people down. They are to make you think. We in this world are guided to live a moral, uncontradicted life. We are supposed to ask questions to ourselves and others to arrive at the truth – to correct ourselves in this world. In the next world we cannot correct ourselves. Our reward in the next world depends upon how we think, speak and act in this world. If we don’t ask these questions to ourselves – in Heaven they will show us the biographic “video” of all our life – and ask us to clarify some of the questions asked below. Better to correct ourselves in this world than to be corrected in the next world.

Questions that many a philosophy cannot answer but can be answered by Judaism:

Questions For Philosophies that deny the existence of G-d.

Question: How can the world be created by random atoms colliding with one another to create a perfect universe? Where did those atoms come from? What happened before the “Big Bang”? What is the physical difference between a body before death and after death? How does growth occur – according to the “random atoms” theory?

Torah Judaism’s Answer– We believe in a G-d that created and continues to direct the world every moment.

Questions For Agnostics:

Question: Would you expect a company that creates a complicated piece of machinery or even a simple appliance – like a toaster – not to include instructions & warnings? How could G-d create a world without providing instructions?

Torah Judaism’s Answer– We believe in a G-d that spoke to millions of people at Mount Sinai – when He gave the Jewish people the Torah. Those are the laws of the world.

Questions For religions – that believe in the Torah / 5 books of Moses –

Question: How can someone believe in a philosophy that condemns killing – Like it says in the Torah “Do Not Kill” in the 10 commandments – yet the history of that religion was replete with killing?

Torah Judaism’s Answer – Judaism never committed crusades, pogroms or terrorism to get converts – we are looking for sincere people to follow Torah not quantity.

Question: How can a philosophy that condemns idolatry – which is the second of the 10 commandments – believe in a Human as a deity?

Torah Judaism’s Answer – Judaism believes in one Omnipotent, Omniscient G-d Hash-m – that Has no body or physical form.

Question: How can a philosophy say that G-d “changed his mind” about observing of His laws or about His selection of the Jewish people – this insinuates that G-d does not know the future?

Torah Judaism’s Answer – Judaism believes that G-d never changed His mind.

Question: How can someone observe the 10 commandments if they were only given to the Jewish people? (The 7 Noahide laws from the Torah were given for the Gentiles).

Question: The Torah says “I am Hash-m, Your G-d, that brought you out of Egypt” Meaning the 10 commandments only applies to people who left Egypt and their descendants – the Jewish people.

Torah Judaism’s Answer – The Torah was given to the Jewish people to observe. A non-Jew that wishes to Observe them entirely – may convert. Their main obligation is to follow their 7 Noahide laws from the Torah and Torah laws that are not prohibited by the Torah – like observing the Shabbat. If they want to observe more they can take upon themselves certain commandments. Consult a competent Orthodox rabbi for more information.

Question: How can you believe in different G-d than Hash-m when Hash-m is the Only  Name that is mentioned in the 5 Books of the Moses? (Many Bibles erroneously translate – G-d’s name – “Hash-m” – as “The L-rd”. For instance a verse in the Text is properly translated as “Hash-m spoke with Moses Saying” – NOT “The L-rd Spoke with Moses saying)? )

Torah Judaism’s Answer – Judaism believes only in Hash-m.

Questions for People Who condemn Israel

Why? Did you define what is apartheid – and compare Israel’s policies to what Apartheid was? Do you also condemn virulently other nations that commit more heinous acts that what you accuse Israel?

How to Not be misled by Other Philosophies

To Not be misled by Philosophical Arguments – learn what Torah says about it – ask a competent Orthodox Rabbi. If someone from another religion tells you a “proof” that supports their view from a verse in the Torah or Tanach – first see what the Authentic Torah sages say about it – ( like Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ramban, Sforno, Abarbanel, Aderet Eliyahu (Rabbi Yosef Chaim), Alshich , Avi Ezer, Bartenura on Torah, Bekhor Shor, Chatam Sofer, Chizkuni, Chomat Anakh, Daat Zkenim, Gur Aryeh, HaKtav VeHaKabalah, Haamek Davar, Kitzur Baal Haturim, Kli Yakar, Malbim, Minchat Shai, Minei Targuma, Mizrachi, Or HaChaim, Paaneach Raza, Penei David, Rabbeinu Bahya, Ralbag Beur HaMilot, Ralbag on Torah, Rashbam, Recanati on the Torah, Riva, Rosh,  Siftei Chakhamim, Torah Temimah on Torah, Tur HaAroch, Tzafnat Pa’neach, Tzror HaMor) These commentators explain Torah as it was handed down from Mount Sinai. If one relies on interpretations that contradict Torah – it is like learning Tennis from the pre-game show.

Torah Questions

In Torah – we are encouraged to ask questions. The Passover Hagada /  Book – encourages the children and adults to ask questions. Torah study appreciates and relishes questions. The Torah is not afraid – because it was given by G-d / Hash-m. Hash-m is truth.