Seeing the Glass Full in Life – a Torah Concept

Everything is in the Torah

In Pirkei Avot (5:22) – one of the Tractates of the Talmud – it says:

Ben Bag Bag says: Delve in it [the Torah] & delve in it & learn it for everything is in it…

When G-d gave us the Torah – he gave two Torahs – the Written Law – the Five Books of Moses & the Oral Law – Now known as the Talmud – that explains the written Torah.

I was discussing last week’s parasha – Noach – on 7 couples of clean animals & 2 unclean animals that were to enter Noah’s ark. What are clean animals? What is an unclean animal?

Later in the Torah – the Torah says – the clean animals are the Kosher animals – those that chew their cud & have split hooves – like the cow, sheep, and goat. The unclean animals are the ones that are non-Kosher. The From here we learn that Noah knew the Torah before it was given – for he knew how to distinguish between Kosher and non-Kosher animals. The Talmud further explains – what is Kosher.

In the Talmud – Ben Zoma says (Pirkei Avot 4:1)

…Who is the rich person? The one who is content with his lot as it says: “When you eat the effort of handiwork – happy are you & it is good for you” (Tehillim / Psalms 128:2) “happy” — in this world; that “and it will be good for you” – in the next world…

It is not what you have. It is how you see what you have. One can have all the luxuries & want more & be dissatisfied. One can have happy with the little he or she has.

When we internalize that all is a gift from Hash-m / G-d, we live a life of appreciation. We turn our dissatisfaction to satisfaction.

It depends only upon how we look at things. Choose Happiness!

The Best $250 I Ever Lost – Finding the Right Jewish School for Your Child

I remember “Back to School” days. I was so excited. I had fresh new notebooks, new pens and pencils in a tidy pencil case. Everything was spiffy and new. I had new clothes for the new school year. I was eager to meet my new classmates and talk with my old friends.

It was a time of innocence.

The Jew Who Started Formal Education

By the way – the person who started schooling for the general population was a Jewish sage – Joshua ben Gamla – who lived about 1900 years ago. He – the Talmud (Tractate Bava Bathra 21a) states – instituted formal Jewish education and primary schooling. Prior to this, parents taught their children informally. He instituted schools in every town and made education compulsory from the age of 6 or 7.

Consulting G-d About Your Child

Three partners are responsible for the creation of man – the father, the mother and Hashem. The man and woman provide the physical parts – and G-d provides the soul. Thus I mention that before deciding on the welfare of one’s child – they should consult all partners – meaning the Mother, the Father and Hash-m. So when a person wants to send their child to a school – they should also consult the Torah opinion – which represents the view of Hash-m – by asking a competent Orthodox Rabbi.

Difference Between Torah Day Schools and Secular School

Today’s Torah Day Schools teach Kodesh / the Holy – Torah Subjects – and Hol / the Profane – like Math, English, History, Science and the like.

Secular schools do not teach ethics, proper behavior or religion. In secular schools it may even be prohibited. Torah schools – teach Torah topics – which teaches the children to respect parents, do kindness, respect the environment, respect authority and more.

Secular schools offer free tuition. One pays tuition for children enrolled in Torah Day schools. Many offer scholarships. Even if one cannot afford the tuition – they work with parents.

Is Free Really Free?

Free is not free. The money Jewish parents save in sending children to a secular school – is lost by the lack of respect, involvement with drugs and immorality children learn in the secular schools. The secular studies in Torah day schools is of high quality – reaching or exceeding the levels of the secular schools.

Jewish Continuity and Torah Schooling

Those who enroll in a Torah day school are much more likely to adhere to the continuity of the Jewish people – by eventually marrying within the faith. A statistic from a National Jewish Population Study found that Over 95% of those that attend Torah Day schools for 12 years marry within the Jewish faith – as opposed to 30% of people who marry within the Jewish faith of Jews that never had a Jewish education.

Reward for Parents and Kids

Every word of Torah learned gives tremendous reward to the learner – so parents and kids benefit in two ways – the children become better individuals & they get rewarded for learning Torah. The parents get part of the reward because they chose to put their child in an Orthodox Torah Day school.

Better Children

Torah day schools teach – mussar – how to be a better person – but also kids learn Yearat Shamayim – fear of Heaven or of Hash-m. I heard a child develops their awe of G-d before the age of three – so it is well worthwhile to put a child in a Torah day school from a young age.

Neutrality or Partiality of Secular Schools

I heard from school faculty – that Public Schools Today are not as “Parve” / neutral as one would think. A lot of secular schools impose societies “mores & morals” on children. Many which go against Torah ideals. So today it not a neutral thing to place a child in a secular school – the schools try to indoctrinate the children with society’s values.

G-d is with You – the Importance of Yireat Shamayim – Fear of Heaven

Some will ask why is fear of Hash-m important? A person is most of the time on their own. They act the way they feel. Nothing is really stopping them from doing, saying or thinking things that are harmful to others or themselves. When one fears Hash-m – they act with more restraint – for they know G-d is always with them watching them. But it also teaches a child that they are never alone – One of their parents – Hash-m is always with them.

The Choice between Two Jewish Schools

About 20 years ago – we were trying to select a school. We had a choice between – a Traditional Torah day school and a more Modern “Jewish” Nursery School. After weighing the Pros and Cons – we decided to enroll in the Modern “Jewish” Nursery School. We paid $250 for registration fees.  We went to the orientation session. Sitting in the little children seats – the teacher was proudly explaining what they were going to teach the innocent children.

As part of the demonstration – she proudly pointed to a large Television. She said “and every day we show the kids cartoons of popular cartoon characters.” A red flag went up in my and my spouse’s mind. “What? You want children to learn Torah values – from Mickey Mouse?! What kind of Jewish education is that? Is a misrepresentation to call yourself a Jewish school and teach the children street values.”

After the orientation – we politely exited and registered in a Traditional Torah Day School – not far from our home – that was under the auspices of a well-known and respected Orthodox rabbi. We lost the $250 registration fee from the other school. If I remember correctly – the Traditional Torah Day School – waived the registration fee. We were very satisfied with the education and the Yireat Shamayim they learned there.

The Torah day school staff was kind in letting us register at such a late date. Usually – registering for a Torah day school takes place about 8-10 months before school starts. We registered last minute.

That’s the best $250 I ever lost.

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.

Are People Really Insulting You? – the Woman Who Beat Up Her Husband

A friend came up to me on Shabbat. “I am really upset – This person treated me like a bum. My aide and I were sitting quietly and he told me that we don’t sit here like a bum.”

What am I to do? Tell him that he didn’t do it. He did it.

I said – maybe the person who complained thought you were someone else.

I told him a true story.

Once a rabbi with a beard was peacefully walking down the street. A woman walked up to him and started yelling. “How dare you come to my neighborhood! After all the pain you caused me when we were married! You have no shame?!” Her anger turned violent. She started hitting him with her purse. “take that!”

“Excuse me lady. I am not your ex-husband.” She took a good look and apologized. Oh I am sorry – I thought you were my ex. He caused me so much pain. Forgive me.”

A friend asked him – were you upset at her after what she did to you? He replied “No. She wasn’t beating me up – she was beating up her ex-husband.”

At times a person insults you. He might not be angry at you – perhaps he or she had a bad day and you happen to be in the way of that person’s anger.

You can take it personally. You can use it to change for the better. Or you can say perhaps the anger is directed at someone else or something else I did at another time.

Composing Yourself at Stop Signs

You are in a rush. You’re traveling down the big boulevard – encountering a series of non-synchronized stoplights.

You now consider the Yellow light to mean – “speed up” instead of “slow down”.  Not prudent – but you are late.

The stop lights in life allow us to recompose our thoughts. We may treat it as a minor annoyance – but stopping in traffic or in an elevator gives us opportunities to calm down – to think of new plans – to call in to the office to say we are running late. Perhaps we hit a snag in life – it may be a message – to rethink your attitude towards the situation.

Don’t lose your composure based on the situation. Hash-m wants us to be in control – not the situation to control us.

It is not worth it to arrive 5 minutes earlier if it entails endangering people.

Use these moments to rethink the situation – perhaps G-d wants you to stop and think.

Waste Two Minutes – Get Rejected – Save Two Hours or Get a “No” – Get Up and Go.

People Hate Rejection

People think – “If I am Rejected – it is a reflection on me.” Possible – because people usually buy from who they like. So good sales people are personal sales people. A good sales person looks at the interest of the client and tries to fulfill that need. It is demand pull not sales push.

OK – you didn’t make the sale. Perhaps the person couldn’t afford a $40,000 car. That’s not a reflection on you – that you are unworthy. It is that this person didn’t have the income to afford – that kind of car. Don’t take it out on yourself.

Does No mean No?

Rabbi Yiyzi Greenman has a seminar. He says “No” does not mean No. It means No for now. Maybe a “No” means “at this time I cannot commit” but ask me later.

So if you get a “no” – get up and go.

Perhaps rejection for an item you were selling is not a reflection on you but – What about if a person rejected you as a potential spouse? Is that a reflection on you? Possible. Perhaps you have some self improvement to do – go out and buy your Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers and better yourself.

But sometimes it is two great people that don’t go together.

In the Torah world – people take dating seriously. Meaning their main concern is finding if the person is a suitable mate for marriage. They treat dating like a long term bond. They have resumes and references.

People call references just as if one one would call those of a potential employee. They don’t go out to have a dead end relationship. Once a Yeshiva Boy – learning Torah – was of marriageable age. He had a “friend” among his references – that apparently was jealous – that spread negative information to those seeking him as potential mate for their daughter.

Upset – he asked his rabbi – why his “friend” was doing this. He responded “It takes a lot of time, and energy to date – Perhaps – Hash-m doesn’t want you to take the time to date so you may concentrate on your Torah studies.” A short time later – he found a suitable marriage mate – that didn’t call that “friend”.

The rejections of his potential mates saved him much valuable time.

Rushed to Avoid Doing Good

I’m in a rush. I don’t have time to take to walk over to that poor person to give him a quarter or so. I am in that rushed state of mind and don’t notice that the bus I’m taking is not stopping at this stop today.

At times we are rushed and avoid doing good or thinking out if a decision is good according to Torah or not. In the end – we lose – time, money, whatever. It happens to me – what can I do. I write to help others – and myself – learn from my mistakes.

Do Good – Save Time

Don’t be Left Out from doing good. Strengthen yourself and do the good and save your time in this world and the next. You don’t lose by doing a mitzvah in this world – this time is saved for your reward in the next world.

Why Judaism Treats Women Differently than Men?

I was walking down the street looking for a man to complete the minyan (quorum of 10 Jewish men) needed to recite certain parts of prayer – like Kaddish / the Mourners prayer for the elevation of a soul that departed. I see a man – he’s Jewish. I ask him reluctantly – “Hi sir – can you help us to complete a minyan? Our synagogue is just down the street.” I might have added – someone needs to say Kaddish.

Gathering a Minyan

The woman next to him – apparently his wife – gives an upset look. She says something “You Orthodox Jews differentiate between men and woman!” She was right – but I didn’t have a chance to explain why the Torah differentiates between men and woman – they both walked away with some kind of righteous indignation.

Learning Judaism

I encounter many people like that. They have righteous indignation that I try to offer them a card to help them find meaning & spirituality – by making a connection with Hash-m. Or they outright reject it – apparently they have a fear of becoming closer to G-d. Perhaps I should give them a copy of “The Bible for the Clueless but Curious – Finally, A Guide to Jewish Wisdom for Real People Nachum Braverman. I was perusing it just today. He’s also a co-author of The Death of Cupid. The author has an informal but eloquent – and meaningful righting
I mean writing. Wow I think – it’s the first time I used this strikeout function. OK.

Why People are Reluctant to Follow Judaism

So I understand people – they are reluctant to believe or have a close connection with G-d. Why? Some because they feel it will cramp their lifestyle if they believe. If they believe in G-d – Jews will no longer be able to get a Big Mac. (Hamburger & Cheese is a No no.) Gentiles will no longer be able to eat live animals. (Sorry to mention repugnant things – but some people still do this.) Big loss? I don’t know. I did it. I gave up the peperoni pizza. Nowadays – you have a kosher alternative to almost anything. The Rambam / Maimonides brings 24 reasons – which cause people to avoid Teshuva – Repentance.

The Difference Between Judaism & Other Religions

Some don’t want to believe because they are turned off by religions – that killed millions and keep killing in the name of their religions –  and they stereotype from other religions to Judaism. I hear that – so investigate the difference. The Bible for the Clueless is a good starting point.

Weighing the Losses & the Gains of Judaism.

I was in both worlds – the secular & the observant world – and I find that the benefits greatly out weigh the sacrifices. No more shopping on Shabbat – but a much better relationship with the family. No more eating Big Macs – but a much more spiritually satisfying diet – a Kosher one. They say that non-Kosher food clouds the heart of a Jew. Thus a Jew who eats non-Kosher has a harder time understanding mitzvot than a Kosher eater.

Did I get off tangent? Sorry.

Thanks for Not Making me a Woman

All Jews – men & women – say Morning Blessings daily to thank G-d / Hash-m for all the Good He supplies daily. Like the ability to see, the ability to walk, the gift of clothing, etc. The man’s blessings of the Daily Morning blessings are slightly different than a woman’s. A Woman says “Blessed are You Hash-m … that You made me according to Your Will.” Men say “Blessed are You Hash-m … that You did not make me a Woman.”

Q & A on Woman’s Blessing

You should have 2 questions – one on the woman’s blessing and one on the man’s. The one on the woman’s blessing – “Does that mean that G-d didn’t make the man according to His Will?” One Answer: G-d made a woman more complete than a man – a man has to strive to perfect himself – a woman is closer to where G-d want’s a person to be initially. Apparently, she can grow and she can fall. We all have freedom of choice.

Q & A on Man’s Blessing

The question on the man’s blessing: “Why term it that I am thankful to not be a woman? Since a woman – is closer to the connection with G-d – she has less mitzvot. Mitzvot are  to help a person reach spirituality, spiritual perfection and a closeness to G-d. A man needs a Talit, Tephillin, Lulav, and other external items to become closer to Hash-m. Thus a man has more Mitzvot to become closer to G-d. Thus the man thanks G-d that he did not make him have less Mitzvot – like a woman.

G-d didn’t first create man & woman and say – this would be an appropriate law for them. G-d first created the Torah – then based upon the Torah – he found it appropriate to make a creature called a Man and one called a Woman.

The Error of Society – Not Appreciating Differences in People

I heard in some societies & public schools – they are erasing the gender differences. They say no more boys line or girls line – there is the A line or the B line. It is prohibited in the schools to say “Boy” or “Girl”.

To do what society is doing today – to force a man and a woman to ignore their differences will in the end create confusion and psychological problems. If I can’t appreciate my strengths and weaknesses – so I become like a marshmallow – devoid of form, and purpose and uniqueness. A rabbi said “If one tries to be like someone else – he is not that person and he is not himself – he becomes a non-entity.”

The Torah on the other-hand appreciates the difference between men & and women. It tells a man how he is to talk with his wife – with kindness. It teaches how a man should appreciate his wife – with words & gifts. It teaches how a woman should speak with her husband – with respect – like all people.

Each gender is given their particular laws that suit their psychological and role in the family. These laws bring out their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

Say No to the Marshmallow Movement

Say No to being a Marshmallow!

 

 

The Benefits of an Old Used Car

I asked my mechanic today if he needs an assistant. I had so many car troubles – I know many car parts, troubles, and their solutions. He laughed.

He told me it is more worth my time to learn & teach Torah. He told me a story that once – I believe Moshe Reichman – a Multi-Billionaire – asked – the Gadol HaDor – great Rabbi of the Generation – could he retire and just sit and learn Torah. Rav Shach said – He supported so many Yeshiva Students – with his wealth – that he should remain in business and keep his Torah learning schedule.

A Greater Place in Heaven

I then told him a story – Once Moshe Reichman asked Rav Schach – “Who will have a greater place in Heaven – Himself – because he supported so many Torah learning Institutions and Yeshivot or Rav Shach who was the Torah leader of the Generation?”

Rav Shach replied – “I don’t know who will have a better portion of Olam HaBa / in Heaven – but I know I have a better portion in Olam HaZeh / this world.” Moshe Reichman was a billionaire. Rav Shach lived very simply. He meant that living & Learning Torah was greater than the life of a billionaire.

The Benefits of an Old Used Car

I said to my mechanic – It is good to have an old used car. Why? Because the troubles that you have are an atonement for sins. Instead of physical harm – the atonement goes on the car. So spending $1000 for a new Intake Manifold isn’t so bad – after all.

Rabbi Harvey Gornish, an Orthodox Rabbi, brought a story in response to a question – “How did King Solomon / Shlomo Hamelech learn the language of the animals?”

In I Kings 3:5–14 Solomon begs G-d for the wisdom of a LEV SHOMAYA or understanding heart, and a Midrash informs us that when he woke up from what he thought was a dream (3:15), he found that he could understand the chirping of the birds.

There is a remarkable follow up to this Midrash. One day a friend of Solomon, obsessed with learning the secrets of the birds, implored the king to teach him this secret language. Solomon cautioned him that it would serve him not well and lead to disaster, but the friend was relentless. Upon learning how to understand the chirping birds, the man heard two birds conversing and was shocked to hear that they were speaking about himself, warning that tomorrow his house would burn down. Shrewdly, the man raced to the market and sold his house to a idolatrous gentile. How happy he was to incur no loss when the house burst into flames on the morrow.


A week later he heard the birds warn that his cattle would die of a plague. Once again he shrewdly sold them quickly and suffered no loss. Finally, the last avian warning was that HE was about to die. Terrified, the man ran to Solomon begging for advice.

Solomon explained there was nothing he could do; the man had tried to outsmart the Al-Mighty, and deserved his fate. The merciful G-d had tried to awaken him to repentance by depriving him of a somewhat painless monetary loss; a house, some cattle, etc. But NO, HE was too smart to allow G-d to do this. So finally, there was nothing left with which to punish his sins except to take his very life.And that was That.

And so the Torah warns us in Deuteronimy 18:13 Tamim Tihihey Im Hashem Elokecho: Be WHOLEHEARTED with Hashem your G-d. Refrain from astrology, divination, fortune telling and tarot cards in order to outwit your fate. It can not be done and it is a sin to try. Instead TRUST in His love that whatever befalls you was not only necessary, but also the best outcome that is beneficial to your soul. Trying to outsmart the Al-Mighty is really for the birds!

Spending $1000 for a new Intake Manifold isn’t so bad – after all.

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.

Connecting with Children – Entering into Their World

Every year our School has a Chinuch Melave Malka / A meal after Shabbat on Education. One year the theme was “Entering Your Child’s World.” The speakers spoke about caring about what kids care about, talking their language, doing what they like to do. The twofold advantage was 1) to have a better connection with one’s child. 2) To be able to establish a positive relation together – that they will be motivated to listen rather than nagged or threatened to listen to parents requests.

We as Torah Jews already have a boon on our side. We – that send our children to Torah schools – have a commandment from the Torah of Kivud Av VaEm – the Commandment of Honoring Parents – that the Kids learn to respect parents. Kids are motivated to listen – because doing so they do a Mitzvah / Commandment. Even then – it is sometimes a challenge to get kids to listen. But if we have a positive relation with kids – it makes things easier.

I overheard a part of a Shiur / lecture of Rabbi Fischel Schachter – a Rabbi that speaks to you. He says many stories from great Torah sages – that are great lessons for us all.

He mentioned a story about Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Zt”l – a former Gadol HaDor – great rabbi of the generation. When some rabbis walk, their followers surround them hoping to get a Torah question answered, or to learn how to act from him, or to ask a question about Torah Hashkafa / outlook. Once Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was walking with his son Reuven. People were asking him questions. Reuven – as a kid – was touching the bars of a fence on the sidewalk. When they reached the end of the fence – Rabbi Moshe turned to his son and said “I think you missed one of the bars – let’s go back and touch it together.”

The great rabbis know how to enter into a child’s world.