Learning to Give Compliments from a Rabbi

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

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

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

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

Rav Chaim Kanievsky on Shidduchim / Matchmaking

This Sefer from Artscroll Publishers clarifies Daat Torah / the Torah Opinion on Shidduchim / Matchmaking. A person who has questions about a whether accepting a shidduch / potential match suggestion or not may be better off consulting Daat Torah from a Gadol / great Rabbi than relying on one’s own preferences. I heard many stories of people who listened to Daat Torah – over their own preferences – and they ended up in a happy marriage. May it be the will of Hash-m to help all those searching for their Bashert / destined one or Zivug / match find the right mate soon. Amen.

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We mourn the loss of Gadol HaDor / Great Rabbi of the Generation Rav Chaim Kanievsky. We are at a loss of the words for the tremendous loss to the Jewish people as a whole and the individual families of Klal Yisrael. He was a source of Daat Torah, Wisdom, Beauty & Kindness. We will surely miss him.

His Soul is Bound with His Soul – How to Connect with People in Judaism

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Yehuda was pleading before the ruler of Egypt (Parasha Vayigash). Tzafenat Paneach (who was actually Yehuda’s Brother Yosef) wanted to take Yehuda’s brother, Binyamin, as a slave. Yehuda, son of Leah, was ready to give his life in this world and the next to save his brother from same father – Yaakov / Jacob – but another mother – Rachel. He told the ruler – you cannot take my brother. If you do so his elderly father will be brought down to the grave – he says:

And now, when I come to your servant, my father, and the lad is not with us; . (Bereshit 44:30)

The Torah tells you the essence of all. Here the Torah teaches the definition of Love. The text says in Hebrew “Ve Nafsho Keshura BeNafsho” – “and his soul is connected with his soul.” Targum Yonathan (the Aramaic translation of the Torah) translates Keshura – bound or connected as haviva – beloved. Meaning he translates that “And His Soul is Beloved like His Soul”

Thus Love is equated to connection.

Rabbi Nechemia Grama spoke about the subject of Connecting with children entitled – Ve Nafsho Keshura BeNafsho.

He asked for a one word definition of love. The response was “Connection.” He made a distinction between fulfilling a child’s physical needs – and the child’s soul’s needs.

He asked children What is the difference between their mother and their live in cleaning lady?

One child said “The cleaning lady gets paid to clean the house. My mother doesn’t”

Another “You can fire the cleaning lady – you can’t fire my mother.”

The point is that – children need to feel the relationship.

If a child that thinks his mother is an alternate cleaning lady – it may mean that his mother (or father) may be lacking in the connection department. A child should know and feel that their parents love them.

Soul Connection

When we make a physical connection between objects there are two parts. When we connect with another person – what are we connecting with? We are connecting one soul with another soul.

One Question he asked was “Why does a child do nothing significant in the first 5 years of life?” You feed them, you carry them, you play with them – but they accomplish little or nothing. He explained that one reason is to give a parent opportunities to connect with the child those 5 years.

Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe says a 3 month child can distinguish between a smiling look and angry look. Who knows what is more important to a child – is it the food that you give to them or the orat hapanim (illumination of the face) – connection that you give to them. it is clear a child that grows without the orot hapanim – is like a plant without sunlight.

Is Connection more important than food?

He told a story of children survivors after Holocaust. In the freedom camps there were many starving children standing on a long line. One American soldier was giving out chocolate to children. Kids waited patiently in line for their portion of chocolate.
Another soldier saw a kid passing, called him over to him and gave them a hug. The entire line of children went off the chocolate line and went on the hugging line.

How to connect

The rabbi mentioned that it is not the activity that causes connection. There are some activities that are more apt to cause connections – but it is not the activity – it is the interaction. Thus any activity can be used to create a connection.

He mentioned that a woman used to put the coat on her child just like she would put it on a coat rack. Then she started using the opportunity to connect with her child.

Suffering Loneliness

A person can be surrounded by people but still feel lonely or empty. The lack of connection causes loneliness or emptiness.

Certain problems can be caused by this lack of connection. He mentioned fear, lack of self esteem, lack of self-value, lack of sense of security, lack of calmness, and other concerns.

Connection Benefits

A child that is connected will want to be an eved hashem / Servant of G-d. How do we develop a ratzon / will to be an eved hashem? Rabbi Chaim Friedlander explains how to achieve it – Only if we can make a kesher hanafshi / Soul Connection. The kesher hanafshi with rebbi – will make a person want to learn. The parent who has a connection – the child will naturally want to make parent happy.

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

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

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

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

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

Spiritual Block? Try This

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Over 20 years ago, I was learning with a rabbi. He told the following story. A woman who apparently was following his lectures asked him – “I want to become more spiritual. I want to follow Judaism and Torah – but I just can’t get myself to do it. I don’t understand the Mitzvot – even if you explain them.”

The Rabbi replied “Try eating Kosher food for a month and you might better understand the Mitzvot.”

She had to go through a detox period. Just like one has to detox for overcoming alcohol addiction – they do also for spiritual growth. Part of the process is start eating Kosher, guarding the eyes, removing oneself from impure thoughts and acts. Then a person can become a better receptacle for spiritual growth through Torah.

I didn’t quite understand the connection between understanding Mitzvot and Eating Kosher. Recently I came upon a Sefer / Book By Rabbi Matityahu Glazer – On Repentance and Hebrew Letters called THE PREREQUISITES FOR REPENTANCE
REPENTANCE IN WORDS AND LETTERS.

Hebrew letters have significance – in that the Hebrew word defines their essence of the object. The word for “sin” in Hebrew is Het / Sin / חטא – Het, Tet, Alef.

REPENTANCE IN WORDS AND LETTERS
THE NEGATIVE EFFECT OF SIN
…This comes to teach us that the destructive power of the סתן (Satan) creates a “screen” ( מסך ) which separates and “locks out” (נעל) the Divine light.
מ precedes נ
ס precedes ע
ך precedes ל

 

The numerical value of the words פגם [imperfection – (in matters of holiness – especially promiscuity)] and מגף (plague) is 123 (80 + 3 + 40), which is the same as נגע (nega, plague: 50 + 3 + 70) and teaches us about the common source of these words, which is בלע (bela, corruption: 2 + 30 + 70).

 

מגף (magaf) is related to מגפה (magaifa, plague),the letter ג and פ combining to form the word גוף (goof, body) and showing that he comes as a result of overindulgence in the material world.

 

The word אלף (alef. instruction or learning the same as the name of the letter א) refers to an אולפן תורה (oolpan Torah, “study of Torah”), the acquisition of Divine wisdom, as is written in the book of Job (13:33): אאלפך חכמה (a’alfecha chochma ; “I will
teach you wisdom”). Through אולפן תורה , the study of Torah, a person merits the revelation of the Divine light of א, for the light of the Torah has the ability to penetrate the barriers created by sin. From here one learns that the repentant should involve
himself in אולפן תורה as much as possible. Rabbeinu Yona in “The Foundation of Repentance” (“Yesod Hat’shoova” found in Gates of Repentance)
teaches that for one who is accustomed to learn one page of Torah, a proper repentance should include learning two pages of Torah.

 

The opening of the letter ח (chet ) is directed downwards, which symbolizes the sinner whose tendencies and desires are also directed “downwards,” that is, to his materialistic and baser nature. Opposed to this is the letter ה (hai )-of the same shape but with an opening at the top, hinting to higher spiritual aspirations. Therefore, if a person
blocks his spiritual striving and closes the upper opening of the ה, it becomes a ח (chet , sin).

 

The difference can be clearly seen in the words חמץ (chametz ) and מצה (matza ). חמץ, the leavened food forbidden to eat or even possess during the Pesach festival, is a symbol of the Evil Inclination (it “fills” with a void and emptiness-like the yeast that
puffs up dough, makes it rise and expand but essentially adds nothing). The word מצה (matza, unleavened bread), on the other hand, is the symbol of the Good Inclination. The only difference in the letters of these two words is the “window of repentance”- the slight opening at the top of the ה.

 

ונטמתם בם

“That you should be defiled thereby,” referring mainly to forbidden food that defiles the
soul of man. One of the most impure foods is the חזיר (chazeer , pig), equal to 225 (8 + 7 + 10 +200) as is the word op (kleepa , shell; 100 + 30 + 10 + 80 + 5).

 

טמא Impurity is the Blockage of the Spiritual. טמא (tameh , impure) has the same letters as אטם (otem obstruction). Impurity causes a general breakdown of the spiritual structure of a person. Just as an אטם in the body is a barrier that prevents the
flow of blood to the heart, so too does impurity ( טומאה, tooma ) prevent spiritual abundance and existence from reaching the heart and brain of a person. The evil impurity caused by an עברה (aveira transgression) can be clearly seen in its letters רע בה (ra-ba, “evil in it”). This is what our Sages mean when they say (Yoma 39a): עברה מטמטמת לבו של אדם
– “Sin dulls the heart of man.” Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler (Michtav M’Eliyahu ) writes: “The sin itself is the dullness-the desire for and cleaving to the sin does not allow a person to find something to oppose it.”

The Power of Humility as a Prerequisite for Overcoming One’s Sins.

 

חטא  (chet, an unintentional sin) involves a lack of thought at the time of the transgression. When one’s mind-the אלף ( א , alef )-is “plastered over” (טח tach ), the result is sin, חטא. Intentional sins (עוונות) comprise -עוות – נ (avoot noon, “the distortion or corruption of the letter נ, which represents understanding). These letters also allude to the power of thought and purity (עיון, eeyoon ), which
is connected to the Fifty (נ = 50) Gates of Impurity  and Understanding,

A pleasant eye”) עין נוה is ( ענוה )The source of humility”

 

The Chida says that the power of humility is so great that it can mend one’s sins; the letters of ענוה (anava , humility) are the same as those of the word העון 190 (ha’avon, the sin). As our Sages say (Rosh Hashana 17a) כל המעביר על מדותיו מעבירין לו על כל ; “Whoever overcomes his feelings, all his sins are passed over.”

 

Repentance out of humility and love for G-d changes negative actions into positive ones. This amazing concept is unique to Torah thought: not only is a person capable of wiping the slate clean, he also has the ability to turn the negativity he has caused in the world into a positive force.

טמא – tameh is impurity. The letters also spell – Alef, Tet, and a Mem – spell Atum – which means blocked or clogged. If a person removes themselves from transgression – they will open up this blockage of the Spiritual.

The Mystery of Teenagers at Samson the Mighty Grave

Shimshon HaGibor / Samson the Mighty was a Nazir / a Nazarite. A Nazarite is not allowed to drink wine, eat grapes or consume other grape products. He was a Judge, tremendously strong and a fierce defender of the Jewish people. His physical might was from heaven. For the Rest of the story – see the Book of Judges (chapter 14-17).

Just recently someone knocked at my door to collect money. He told me his cause was to raise money for Shabbat meals for Young teenagers that come to visit Samson’s grave. He, the caretaker, was perplexed when he saw so many youth visiting there.

He asked them why they come. They told them they wanted to connect with someone who is strong and powerful. They admired his might and apparently his plight in defending the Jewish people.

After youth many seek truth. They want to find real meaning. Apparently this is a step in  their search for meaning in life. The Shabbat meals give them a taste of Judaism and give them a taste and feel of meaning.

Apparently the secular education did not satisfy their person. They did not find the satisfaction or meaning they wanted.

The Sefer Hovot HaLevavot / Book Duty of the Heart – explains that a person is composed of a body and soul. This soul is on a high spiritual plane. It is not satisfied by physical pleasures. Doing good and following Torah is what gives it satisfaction.

Their soul drew them to the mighty. But the mighty Samson recognized that his physical and spiritual strength came from the Mighty One above – from Hash-m / G-d.

Green Chiretta vs. Covid

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Saw this Article in Mishpacha Jr. Guard Your Soul.

Convicts Fight Covid in-Thailand

  • Sivi Sekula

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

Guidebook to Life – by G-d – the Torah

As a teenager – I was one of the popular crowd. I would crack jokes in class – but I was smart enough to make them sporadically to not get kicked out. Once a teacher took me out of class to explain that my behavior of cracking jokes was unacceptable – and if I continued I would be sent out of class. I listened. In my yearbook one teacher wrote something like – “one day when you become a bit more mature you will be a nice guy.” I was already a nice guy – I just liked to joke around.

In Hebrew school I would never study. I think I had a series of zeros on my tests. Then the teacher talked to me after class – saying that I was a smart kid and she knew I could do better. I heeded the words and started getting 100’s on the tests instead. I would try to figure out what my average was based upon the zeros and hundreds. I tried to fiure out how many 100’s I had to get in order to get a passing grade. I think I passed.

My drive to differ continued in college. I was the different one – everyone was preppy – I was the one wearing two watches on my wrist and multi-colored sneakers or sneakers – each a different color.

I don’t know if people got the message. I wasn’t trying do be different to get attention – I was trying to show the world – don’t just follow after society – be yourself – think and act – don’t just act after others – then think.

I guess I still have the same attitude today. I feel people should think more about things – before just blindly following the norms and mores of society.

I started becoming more Torah observant at around 15 years of age. It was a slow process. First I started keeping Kosher outside. Then I started observing Shabbat. Then I started learning Torah. I got my MBA and then I went off to Geneva, Switzerland to start a Marketing Director job. My travels – got me thinking. When I returned to the US I decided to enroll in a Yeshiva. I was about 25 when I started learning Torah seriously.

My high school friends and I became distanced due to the winds of life. It didn’t mean I liked them less – I just put my priorities on different things – like spiritual growth, Torah learning, introspection and following Torah way of life.

In my growth – I was never really tempted to follow another religion or cult. Firstly because I am Jewish – I guess it was proper for me to investigate my religion first before trying others. But another reason was – of the little that I knew I knew that the Torah was the only divine document given to man by G-d before witnesses of millions of people. G-d appeared only once to a nation in history – and that was the Jewish people at Mount Sinai – where He gave us the Torah.

Why should I seek spirituality from some guru – when G-d himself was telling me – in the Torah – what spirituality is. Spirituality is basically doing things that will make you closer to G-d. G-d already told me in the Torah – all other ways of life couldn’t beat that.

— To Be Continued —

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.