When Your Child Stays Home from School – an Opportunity to Connect

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.

Like I wrote in a precious post on connecting “his soul is bound with his soul” – every encounter is a chance to connect. Use your time wisely.

Stop wasting time! Do something productive. You don’t deserve it.

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.

Learning from the Royal Family of England

We are the family – a royal family.

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.

Another story:

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.”

Two messages:

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.

How does G-d Forgive? Is G-d Fickle?

Mount Sinai?

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.

G-d loves those that return to His path.

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.

The Enemy Between You & Your Spouse (or Friend)

I was listening to a shiur / Lecture of Rabbi Meir Eliyahu (in Hebrew) on the subject of Improving Personal Character traits (הרב מאיר אליהו | תיקון המידות שלך | משכן יהודה – התשפ״ב) . He talked about a small pamphlet he picked up in Florida on Kiruv / to motivate a person to do teshuva. He said the pamphlet talked about Alice in Wonderland. I didn’t know the story. But apparently – Alice ate a mushroom. Then she fell asleep. When she woke up – she saw a cat. The cat asked her “Where do you want to go? – right or left.” She responded “I don’t know.” The cat then said to her “If you don’t know where you want to go – any path will get you there.”

That was the message – that if a person has no goal, or objective in life he or she will follow any path and apparently get to no where special. If a person has goals – it will help them to achieve in life.

The Torah provides many mitzvot (commandments) for Jews (613 commandments) and Non-Jews. (7 Noahaide Laws). These laws allow a person to achieve several things – a pleasant life – the ways of Torah are ways of pleasantness. A life of connection to oneself, to others and G-d. A life of meaning. A life that has purpose and where one achieves purpose. Rabbi Eliyahu mentions that in a Sefer / of the Vilna Gaon – he says that the purpose of life is to break one’s character traits. If a person is an angry person – G-d wants him or her to become a more calm person. If they are stingy – they are to work on becoming more generous.

My Rebbe used to say – a person’s mind should control his heart – not the other way around. The way of Torah is of Peace.

So now you know. Your goal – break those bad character traits. Assure peace in the Home. Try to act pleasant.

Rabbi Eliyahu said that one who yields to the will of others (in things not against Torah) will live longer. It makes logical sense – because he or she will let things slide, let it pass, not take it personally – and live a less stressful life. But also Has-m will grant the person a longer life. In the Zohar – Rav Krospedai died. He, a great scholar, told the heavenly court – he was cut off in the prime of his life, he had much more correcting to do. He wanted to come back in the same body. They granted him his wish. Why? Because he was Maavir al Midotav – he “passed over his character traits” – ie, he let things go. He held no grudges. He forgave and forgot.

Ok – so where is that enemy?

The Torah teaches us of our greatest enemy. It is an enemy that wants our destruction in this world and the next. He is the snake. He is that voice in your head – telling you “don’t take that from your spouse”, “answer them back”, “put them back in their place” and the such to create quarrel – not peace. We call it the “Yetzer HaRa'” / the evil inclination.

Everyone has one. The greater the person the greater the Yetzer. Before this entity was a physical snake. When Hava / Eve and Adam ate from the tree of Knowledge it became ingrained in her and him.

So now you have an enemy – the Yetzer HaRa. Your wife has the same enemy – the Yetzer HaRa’. Think of this – let’s say you had an acquaintance that was a family acquaintance. He or she would come to your house. When your wife would have a qualm – they would rile her up and add fuel to the fire. When you were upset – they would do the same to you to escalate the heated exchange to higher heights.

The smart person would not get angry at their spouse. They would kick that acquaintance out of the house. Your new option – don’t get back at your spouse – kick the Yetzer HaRa’ out of the house – your mind. He/She instigates – you cool things down. He tells you get angry – you think “If I answer her/him back – I will not have peace for 10 hours. (or more) I might as well swallow my pride and do something more productive with my time.”

Hash-m also gave us the Yetzer HaTov – Good inclination – telling you “calm down”, “be patient”, “this will also pass”, “say something to calm things down”, “create peace”.The idea is to listen to the Yetzer HaTov – not the Yetzer HaRa’.

Do it for a more peaceful existence. And Remember to learn Mussar – Jewish ethical works like Pirkei Avot – and your headed on the right path.

 

 

 

Learning Lessons from Lego

It was a camp raffle. The prize – a new Lego set – Truck and command center. The little boy davened / prayed to Hash-m. He won.

He asked his father to build it with him.

His father – reluctantly followed him to the Lego set sprawled out on the sheet.

When he started he got into building. The father started telling his son “pass me this piece.” until finally he finished the truck.

Nice True story.

What do you learn?

Firstly – it is important to connect with children. It is not just giving them the toy – but helping them to build it. You are not just building Lego. You are building a relationship. Connect with things that he or she are interested in.

Also – prayer of a pure child or a sincere prayer to Hash-m / G-d works. The child prayed & won the set. We can pray too – even for little things – a parking space, that you can find one more bottle of your favorite drink, that you pass that test…

Sometimes you don’t want to do something. You take the first step and you get into it. Many don’t want to step into an Orthodox synagogue. Take a step in. Ask the rabbi to learn something with you.

Things you can learn from Lego:

Build one vehicle at a time. – choose a task and concentrate on that task. Better to work on it than to multi task.

Dump the Lego pieces on a sheet – put all the pieces you need in one place so that you can easily complete the task and not lose one – or lose your time searching for it in the middle of a task.

Separate Lego into piles of similar colors. Then separate the large pieces and small pieces. This will help you find the pieces you search for more quickly. – Separate your tasks into similar tasks. separate large tasks ad small tasks. Do the easy tasks first. Or break the big tasks into digestible smaller tasks. When you see the small tasks – the big task doesn’t see the task as so daunting.

It says in the Torah – I forgot the source – that when people will go to the next world – the achievers and non-achievers will cry. The achievers will see all that they accomplished as a big mountain and cry and say – wow I can’t believe I accomplished all that.

The non-achievers will see what they could have accomplished as a small mound and cry and say – wow i didn’t know it was so easy to accomplish that which I thought was so hard.

You can do it. Just break it down and take the first step.

Your Personal Messages from G-d

G-d communicates with us daily. We just have to understand His messages.

When in Israel, someone asked me for a donation. I checked my pockets – no change to be found. I wanted to give. He then said to me in Hebrew “Yesh Bo Mamash.” There is something there. In Hebrew – the word “Mamash” is spelled Mem-Mem-Shin. Those are my Hebrew initials. Apparently he didn’t know that. He was telling me there was money in my pocket.

I thought of the message – perhaps Hash-m was telling me – You have capabilities – Mamash.

So I took the statement – that may have offended others in the positive way.

If you listen to the messages and hear what happens to you daily – you can understand where Hash-m wants to guide you or test you.

If someone asks you for a donation – it might mean that you need a kapara / an atonement or a zechut / merit. Or perhaps G-d simply wants you to give you an opportunity to do a mitzvah.

In Morocco – once a rabbi saw a person with a sign of death on his face. He went up to him to ask him for Charity. Charity saves from death. He pleaded with him to give charity to save him. I don’t think he gave in the end. I don’t know the rest of the story.

Even if you pass a person talking with a friend and you over hear them saying “Your friend is so generous.” It might be a message for you – either in the positive way – that you are also generous – or perhaps you should work on your generosity.

The other day a rabbi told me a story. He said that someone told him that people should be more generous in giving blessings to others. He said he took it to heart. He was sitting at someones house – and children were kind of looking for attention and running around him. A bit annoyed – instead of screaming at them – he shouted “Zei Gezunt!” “Be Healthy” in Yiddish. The children continued running around him and started also yelling “Zei Gezunt.”

I took it as a message that perhaps I should be more flowing with blessings and positivity and compliments.

Judaism Will Free You

I was speaking with my uncle from Madrid, Spain. We were talking about the parasha / weekly Torah reading of Hukat. It talks of the Para Aduma / Red Heifer that purifies the impure.

It talks of Healing – through looking at a snake. The Jews were being bitten by snakes. To be cured – they looked at a large copper snake. The object of their ailment was part of their cure. One major principle in medicine.

It talks of the death of Ahron, haCohen / the High priest. Men and women cried when Ahron died. He used to make peace between people and couples. He would go to one upset party and say your husband feels terrible that he hurt your feelings. He went to the husband – and said the same thing about the wife. When they saw each other they would make peace. Ahron knew that making peace was not based upon logically explaining the other’s position. A quarrel is an emotional discord – not a logical one. So he healed feelings with feelings – by sometimes stretching the truth to make peace.

I told my uncle – how can we apply it to ourselves. We let things pass. Let things go or not bother us. It’s not ignoring a problem – but giving people the benefit of the doubt. Not taking things personally. Looking at the other’s point of view. Not being hyper sensitive. Having a healthy level of self esteem.

If a person calls you a donkey – it does not mean that you are one. The Torah goes on to say “If someone calls you a donkey – put a saddle on your back.” Meaning don’t take it personally.

Somehow he told me a story about in a forum of around 600 people in a university in Spain they had a debate. Someone chided him and said why do the Jews deserve to be called the Chosen people. He replied – we Chose to represent the Ethics of G-d to the world. For that we were persecuted by others – because people don’t like the goodie goodie – he reminds them of their ethical failings. We took the hits for other people’s lack of ethics. If a person wants to be a part of the chosen people – he can choose to do so. He or she can convert – but with taking this status comes responsibility. People applauded his answer and candor.

He mentioned to me something that I overlooked in Judaism. We regularly mention the exiting from Egypt in Judaism – that G-d with a strong arm took a once slave nation from a mega-power nation.

He mentioned the birth of the Jewish people starts with freedom. When we were liberated from Egypt. A person’s quest to become closer to Hash-m / the definition of spirituality – starts with freedom. Wanting freedom from one’s problems. Freedom from the subjugation of society. Freedom from the subjugation of the media that to sell you a product employ spin doctors and false news.

Though we became subjugated to Hash-m / we became a people with free minds, free choice and free of personal addictions and vices.

Torah is what will free you.

If You Go in My Statutes – Making a 180 on a Ship / You’re Closer to Torah than You Think

Im Behukotai Telechu / If you go in my statutes. Last week’s Parasha / weekly Torah reading was – Behukotai. Behukotai / My statutes – Rashi says is “Learning Torah” because the next part of the verse says “and if you will observe my Mitzvot”. The next verse says – if you do so – you will get rain in the proper time and other blessings.

So we list that of primary importance first – First Torah learning, then observing Mitzvot. Obviously both are necessary. Another question is why does it says – telechu /you will go? It should say learn my statutes. Apparently there is a message to improve daily – not to remain stagnant. Some people are the same that they were 20 years ago. The Torah wants us to be better every day.

What are statutes? statutes are laws that are seemingly incomprehensible. So why does the Torah use these words for learning Torah? A question of Rabbi Yisrael Salantar.

Rabbi Solomonovich explained in a recent Dvar Torah / Torah speech – that Rabbi Samson Rephael Hirsch said that – a Hok / statute comes from the word Hek / bosom – denoting something close to the heart. He mentions that to one person something may be incomprehensible one but beloved by others.

He gave the example of an American person going to Europe. He hears that over  billion people are watching the “World Cup” soccer match. He asks “Don’t these people have better things to do with their time than watching people kick a ball into goal?”

Then a European person comes to the United States and hears that hundred’s of millions of people are watching the “Super Bowl” American football game. He says to himself “Don’t these people have better things to do with their time than watching people kick a ball into goal?”

Both don’t understand the other’s appreciation of the game. Yet they understand the appreciation of their own country’s favorite sport.

Similarly to an outsider coming into the Beit Midrash / House of Torah study – they ask “what are these people doing here studying?” Do they want to become Rabbis? The outsider does not understand why people study Torah. But the insider understands that it brings light to their soul. It helps them connect to others and to G-d. It helps them to grow spiritually and to connect to real Spirituality – meaning becoming closer to the creator of the world – Hash-m. 

A Jew is closer to spirituality than they might think. They may think that approaching orthodox Torah Judaism is far from them – yet it is not.

Once a couple was having a Jewish wedding on a boat in Paris – on the Seine River. The boat rode off onto the river. They were about to have the wedding. The Rabbi asked who are the witnesses for the wedding. In order for the wedding to take place two Kosher witnesses are required – they must not gamble, they must be Shomer Shabbat / Observant of Shabbat according to the Jewish code of law / the Shulchan Aruch and be male. One witness fit the description, the other did not. He searched the ship to find someone else to be a Kosher witness. He did not find one. He had an idea. He asked someone he trusted if he was willing to accept to become “Shomer Shabbat”. The man was hesitant. He explained “If the the couple does not have two Kosher witnesses – they will not be able to be married.” The man agreed to become Shomer Shabbat to allow them to get married.

A Jew is closer to Torah than one might think.