Who Loves You Kid? Who in the World Loves You the Most.

Ever Ask “Who in the World Loves Me the Most?”

Your parents? Your children? Your Spouse?

Child Love

I was a fellowship student in an American University. As one of my responsibilities  to grade assignments- I had to read student’s essays answering the question “Who is your Greatest Hero?” Interesting answers. Who was cited most as a ‘Hero’? Batman? A movie Star? A Musician? A president? No. The Student’s Parents.

People recognize who did the most for them in their lives. I would expect young college students to be a bit more vain. But they recognized the great effort and sacrifices their parents made for them. That’s why Honoring Parents is an easily understandable commandment. We show gratitude to those that did the most for us.

Parental Love

I heard that parents love children more than children love parents.

Understandable. It says In Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers “According to the Pain is the Reward.” The more pain one puts into a person or project – the more rewarding it is when they bear fruits. The more love they have for the person. Thus it is understandable why parents love children more than vice versa. Parents will stay up at night to tend to a child. Ask a child today to clean their room and get an answer is “Maybe later.”

Love of Spouses

So is it parents who love you the most? Is it your spouse that tells you they love you? Not really. Many a time love between spouses is “Love that’s dependent upon a matter.” It tells us what true love is in Pirkei Avot. – “Love that is not dependent upon a matter.”

I love the person – not because what they can bring me or give me. I love them because I recognize their intrinsic value as a person.

The reason for the great divorce rate today is because – what people call love is infatuation. The infatuation fades, the marriage ends.

Fish Love

Love that is dependent upon a matter is best illustrated by someone who says they love fish. Ask them – if you love fish – why do you catch it, then skin it, then fry it and eat it. You don’t love fish – love eating fish. You love what the fish gives you, not what you can give to the fish. Loving is giving – not taking. “Love” of many couples today is taking – fish love.

What is Love?

Apparently the one who gives you the most (in your best spiritual, psychological, emotional and material interest) loves you the most. Who gives you the most? G-d.

There are three partners in the creation of a person. The mother, the father and G-d. The Mother gives the blood, the father the bones and G-d gives the soul.

G-d gives a person a soul, life, air to breath, food, clothing, money, a home, health, transportation, vacations, family, friends, a world, nature, and makes every single cell in one’s body function and grow continuously. I can go on, but better to keep it short.

If we recognized the tremendous kindness that G-d / Hash-m provides for us at every single moment – we would be a different person. Like we say in the prayer Nishmat on Shabbat – “If our mouths were as wide as the sea … we would not be able to thank you for all the kindness you do.” G-d gives you all – independently of what we “give” to Him – He loves us because of our value as a person. He loves us because we are his children. Without expectation of a “favor” in return.

Love of God

G-d loves you more than your parents love you.

Yes, your Father in heaven loves you more than your father or mother on earth.

A parent sometimes gets fed up with a child who goes off the proper path. G-d always has hope for His child. He doesn’t give up on you. He loves you even when you think He forgot you.

Have problems? Turn to Hash-m. He’ll help. Regardless of what you did in the past. He’s always there with open arms. And when you have time try to become better. How? Try starting over – by wiping the slate clean.

It says that even a parent can forget a child – but G-d will never forget you.

Know you are loved.

Selective Forgetting – Overcoming Difficulties of Your Past

I had a nice childhood. I remember spending summers in Silver Spring, Maryland with my cousins. We went to a camp called Candy Cane City. It was fun.

I was a kid in the mid-70’s. People sported fros and big owl glasses, bell-bottoms and those gaudy suits and ties. I remember taking my cousin’s bike – going on a bike adventure by myself in the streets of Washington, DC. My cousin and I would take long Shabbat walks and for some reason we would end up in a public parking lot – where we could see a nice view of the area. I remember the Evil Knievel Toy Motorcycle and those Cars that you’d pull the belt that would spin the car-wheel and letting it jump over my makeshift ramps – watching them fly.

But like all – I also had my share of difficulties. I can’t say that my challenges were as great as other people’s but I did have times of Joy and times of suffering.

I don’t know if my fun childhood – made it more difficult to cope with my more difficult teenage years. I had great teen years – but I was introduced to this concept I knew little of – called suffering.

Positive Suffering

In a sense suffering is painful. But it is also can be seen in the positive. It cleanses the imperfections in one’s comportment and one’s blemishes in their soul. I became more introspective. My suffering made me I realize that hurting others to make the class laugh was wrong. I learned of other comportments to change & character traits and deeds I had to improve. I resolved to become a better person. Anybody can start over and wipe the slate clean.

Looking back, I took the life lessons – to do good and not hurt others – but I left the pain behind.

Some people take the pain with them and forget the lessons.

Others take both.

Suffering & Closeness to G-d

Suffering makes it easier to become closer to Hash-m. We cry out sincerely to Him when in the depths. When everything is going well – have money, children, nice apartment and car – unfortunately many forget G-d. And then to those he loves – he may send a wakeup call. Some want pain to help motivate themselves to become Closer to G-d and to do Mitzvot. King David wanted suffering to help him feel closer to G-d. A high level – not for everyone.

Looking at the Past and Future – Kosher

Rabbi Yosef Sitruk, z”l – former French Chief Rabbi – said that The signs of a Kosher animal represent two ways of looking at the world. Two kosher signs for an animal is that it chews its cud and has split hooves. Chewing Cud – represents bringing back past. Jews from middle-eastern countries – Sephardim – usually would say how the past were the “good old days” and bring them up again and again. He used the term Yahsra – loosely translated as “what a difference between then and now – accompanied by a melancholy feeling of the glorious past that is gone.”

He said that the split hooves – represent an attitude of always trying to innovate and go ahead. He compared that attitude to the Jews from occidental countries – the Ashkenazim – that rely more on innovations in teaching, psychology, technology, etc.

So chewing old memories could be good. Provided you remember the good. But dwelling on past pain can be counterproductive if it stifles you or stops you from being productive or it causes you depression. Let it go.

Let it go.

You have to move on in life.

Reasons why G-d Sends Suffering

G-d sometimes sends difficulties for a person to overcome and become a stronger better individual. He sends difficulties so a person will become closer to Him. Like a parent who withholds allowance from a child who’s living away from home – in order that the child call his parents sometimes.

G-d only does Good – finding the reason for your Suffering

If G-d does only good – how can I understand my suffering? Apparently if you think hard enough or think of past difficulties – you can find a lesson to learn. Perhaps something you gained, something you improved. A worse situation that you avoided by encountering difficulty. Be creative. Perhaps you became more spiritual, closer to G-d? Thousand of reasons. Choose one that fits you best.

Choose Your Memories

You choose which memories to bring to the forefront. It could be you enjoying life or you in pain. You choose. You choose what to think about. You choose what to dwell upon.

When I just got married an uncle of my wife said – remember this period of the first year – where everything is special. Put it in a bottle. When you encounter difficulties – open the bottle and draw from it.

In Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers two Mishnayot talk about a person forgetting – one about forgetting sin and one about forgetting his Torah learning. It says:

Torah Study & Toil to Forget Sin
Rabban Gamliel son of Rabbi son of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi says: – “Great is the study of Torah with Derekh Eretz [lit. “the way of the world” either – with livelihood or with proper conduct] – for with the toil in both [temptation to] sin is forgotten. And all Torah that is without Derekh Eretz – in the end it will be nullified & causes sin. And whoever toils with the community, let them toil with them for the sake of Heaven – for the merit of their fathers helps them – & their righteousness will stand forever. And you [who toil with the community] I will consider it as if you yourself achieved it. (Avot 2:2)

Forgetting Torah

Rabbi Dostai, son of Rabbi Yannai in the name of Rabbi Meir, says: Whoever forgets one thing from his [Torah] learning – Scripture, considers as if he is liable for his life. As it says: “Rather guard yourself & guard your soul very well lest you forget the things that your eyes saw.” (Devarim/ Deut. 4:9) One might think that this even applies if his studies were too difficult. The Torah [thus] teaches “Lest you remove it from your hearts” (ibid) – behold he is not liable for his life until it [the learning] settles within him & then he removes it from his heart. [intentionally] (Avot 3:8)

Putting the Subject matter of the Mishna’s aside – we learn two things about forgetting – One – that one can forget sin by being involved in Torah, community and work. Forgetting pain can also be forgotten such. Occupy yourself with the positive. With Mitzvot. Note the that both mentioned  – Torah Study and Working are Mitzvot / Commandments from Torah. Learning Torah is a Mitzvah (Jews learn Torah, Gentiles Learn about Noahide Laws). Working is a Mitzvah – the Mitzvah of Settling the world. By occupying yourself with both you forget your sins – but you also forget your pain.

Temporary vs. Long Term Relief from Suffering 

Apparently these are the best things a person can use to forget. Once a person said he got over depression by watching comedies. I tried. It didn’t work.

A Cause of Suffering

Apparently – one source of depression comes from the soul. You are really your soul. It is possible that depression is linked to the fact that a person is not producing Mitzvot. Thus the soul is depressed.

When I was depressed, I used to do the same. Watch comedies. For me – it was like “Chinese Food” – you eat it, but right after you are hungry. I would watch to pass time but right after I still felt depressed.

Learning Enlightens the Soul

Learning Torah enlightens the soul. So the soul’s sadness is lifted. It is a Mitzvah to serve Hashem with happiness – so sadness is also a domain of the Yetzer HaRah / the evil inclination. He does not want you to be happy. His job is to keep you down so that you don’t produce Mitzvot, do kindness. He provides for you a negative attitude that makes you unproductive of Mitzvot. That is his job. Your job is to bear away from His suggestions. To choose not to become depressed. To speak it out with friends or family to resolve your difficulties – so you can become productive in achieving your potential for doing good.

Happiness – through torah – may not come overnight – it takes time of consistent work – little strides. Step by step. Slow and steady wins the race.

Choose Happiness

You choose – to be happy. You choose to seek help to get out of depression. Your only Job is to say “G-d please help me to get out of this difficult situation of …..(fill in the blank)” Make an effort to get out of it. And choose the help once it comes.

You choose to banish that thought of “I am a nothing” and replace it with “I am a special person. No one in the world is like me.” (see the “You are special card”). Think “I have great potential.” Think “People love me!” Think “G-d loves me.” instead of all those other negative thoughts racing through your mind.

Be strict – and don’t let bad thoughts come in. If they do say “Stop!” You’re not always in control of the thoughts that enter your mind – but you choose to dwell upon them. So stop the bad thoughts and replace them will positive thoughts.

Choose to Be Helped

A person must choose to be helped. There is a Joke.

Once a person was received a flood warning text. He said “G-d will help me.” He stayed in his home. The flood waters reached his street. The police came – “Do you want a ride away from the danger zone.” He replied – “G-d will help me.” The flood waters got higher. Then – a boat passed by – they asked “Do you want a ride away from the danger zone.” He replied – “G-d will help me.” The waters went higher. A helicopter came – “Do you want a ride away from the danger zone.” He replied – “G-d will help me.”

Ultimately – he drowned. He came before G-d and asked – “G-d why didn’t you save me?” G-d replied “I sent you a car, a boat and a helicopter – what more did you want?”

We choose to seek help. We choose what to dwell upon. We choose our attitude. We choose to pray to Hash-m for help. We choose to be helped when help arrives.

The Second mishna teaches us about intentional and unintentional forgetting. How does one intentionally forget. Apparently one can choose to forget. When the subject matter comes up in their mind – they push it aside with other thoughts – intentionally. This intentional forgetting can be used for the good – forgetting sad events in your life.

Forgetting – a Gift from G-d

It says that forgetting is a gift from G-d. If one would remember so perfectly – that the memories of difficulties would be clear in his mind – his or her life would be much more difficult to bear. After one year a person forgets partially the passing of a dear one. After seven years a person – feels as if the person wasn’t here. Another kindness of Hash-m to help you better cope and get on in life.

 What you think is what you are. Think negative – you’ll be negative. Think positive – you’ll be positive. It’s in your hands to choose.

Think Kindness

Even better is to think of doing kindness with others. You become a kinder person. A Jew who thinks of doing a Mitzvah with others – gets that mitzvah. You think you want to feed every single worthy person in the world, you will be attributed that Mitzvah. You think you want to teach Torah to everyone – you get that Mitzvah. You think to do a Mitzvah and was unable to do it – you get that Mitzvah.

Reasons Not to Think of Doing Bad to Others

A motivation to not think about doing badly to others – is that some people – when they think of doing evil to others – even though they do not do it in the end – the evil they wanted to do are attributed to them as if they actually did it.

We say in the Hagadah of Pesach – “An Aramean (Lavan – the father of Rachel & Leah – who were married to Yaakov / Jacob) destroyed my Father (Yaakov) and we went down to Egypt.” Lavan did not kill Yaakov. He thought seriously about doing it. But he didn’t kill him. But it was attributed to him that he did kill Yaakov – meaning it will be on his record – when he gets to heaven that he actually killed.

Forget the Bad – Forget the Hate – Forget the Grudges

In Torah – we do not hold a grudge. If someone did bad to you – confront them and tell to explain their bad comportment. Let them ask forgiveness or you ask and the story is over.

Ask yourself – this grudge that you’ve been holding against a brother, parent, child – worth it? Did you gain anything from it all these years. Holding a grudge can fall into the category of sinat hinam – gratuitous hatred – also a transgression of veAhavta Le’reacha – you shall love your fellow Jew.

Putting all that aside – was the bad blood worth it all these years?

Forgive – forget – get over it. Obviously, you don’t have to put yourself into a situation in which they would take advantage of you again or bring them to a Beit Din / Jewish court of law to settle the financial affairs – but one is not related to the other. If you are too shy to approach your family member or friend and you want to make peace – You can ask a competent Orthodox rabbi to be an intermediary to approach the person.

Speak No Evil

The secret to happiness is to choose what you think about. It’s possible this is one of the reasons of the many laws against speaking Lashon HaRa’ – Evil Speech – speaking badly of others regardless of it being true or not. You speak badly – you think negatively. You cause others to think negatively. We are to control our thoughts, speech and actions. Speech and actions start from thought. If you nip the problem in the bud – you resolve many difficulties. Don’t think negatively – you won’t speak negatively and you won’t do the negative.

Also this will Pass

A manic-depressive asked King Solomon for a cure to his concern. At times he was ecstatic. At times he was depressed. He gave him a ring that said – “Also this will pass.” He was cured. When he was sad – he thought – “also this will pass” and he would cheer up. When he was ecstatic – he would think – “also this will pass” –  and he would calm down.

Your happiness is dependent upon you thoughts.

Think positive!

Connecting to G-d or Don’t Give Me that Kosher Style. I want the Real Thing!

Jews are connected.

Connected to the One above.

I know it first hand. I meet Jews in the street with all the paraphernalia – nose rings, tattoos, leather jackets. They seem tough on the outside. Scratch a little below the surface accessories and you find a warm heart connected to Judaism.

The struggling Jewish comedians. The doctor who tells me she started saying blessings on food. The Palestinian college student with a Jewish mother. A vegetarian suffering from a tough divorce. And also that non-Jewish woman steeped in materialism, grappling with conversion to Judaism.

Each has one thing in common. They are connected.

Complete Torah Observance? Not there yet.

Connected – yes. Connected in their own way. Connected by coming to the synagogue. Trying to be good to others. By putting on that big white kippah when they enter the shul. The women that cover their hair with a scarf when they come to ask for a blessing from the big Rabbi.  The secular Jews who give donations to hospitals because of their concern for others.

The Torah confirms this saying that each Jew has a spark from the Divine that keeps the Jewish person connected to Hash-m – no matter how far they feel.

G-d Loves People

G-d loves these people. They try. They support Israel or don’t. They eat kosher or kosher style – because they think it’s really Kosher. They don’t know the extent of how much G-d loves them. But those little actions mean much. I heard even that G-d loves you – a person who follows or tries earnestly to follow His laws – more than any person can love you in the world. Even one’s parents. I believe it.

Even the people who get on the defensive when they see you wearing a black kippah. And take out their frustrations out on you. I know one reason why they get defensive – because deep down they also want to be connected as much as you to the Great Power above. Apparently they envy someone they feel has a greater connection.

I love them too.

Don’t want to be be Politically Correct

I try not to be politically correct in life. I’d much rather tell it like it is. I’d rather people hear the truth than to stretch truth to make others happy. Obviously I try to be tactful. So please don’t think I’m doing the politically correct jargon.

The Lost – finding the Right Path & Getting Connected

In a sense I feel for all people. I feel that many are lost – sincerely searching for a path that will bring them to Utopia on earth. I can’t say I found Utopia – because Utopia will never exist. The true Utopia is living a life in which any situation you encounter – stressful or not – you’ll be able to deal with it in the most positive way possible. That’s real Utopia. I  did find a real path that helps me to feel I am accomplishing purpose. Yes, I do stray and sway – unfortunately – but I try keep anchored to Torah.

Yes – synagogue. Yes – Shabbat. Yes – Kosher. Yes – Daily Torah Study & Prayer. Yes – trying to not talk badly about others. Yes – Part of a Torah Community.

The more I try to be connected, the more I feel I need to be connected.

the Path to Spirituality & Self- Fulfillment – Torah Commandments

They say that a Jew is full of Mitzvot / Commandments [they do] as a pomegranate. Why a pomegranate? We as Jews have 613 commandments. (a Gentile has 7 Major categories of commandments – the Noahide Laws – that come to 30 detailed commandments). A Pomegranate has 613 seeds in it. Each Jew is connected in doing a special Mitzvah. Some try to do all. Some pick and choose. The real idea behind a Mitzvah is becoming connected to G-d. True spirituality.

Many people search cults and exotic religions – trying to find spirituality and meaning. But I say – “What more do you want? – when G-d came down and told us – to over 3 million people who witnessed – that this – the Torah – is what He wants.

This is the guide to become close to Him. Spirituality in my eyes is being close and connected to G-d. He already told us. So my job now to become connected is to try to do what I can to follow. Someone asked the Hazon Ish – a great Rabbi who lived in Benei Brak – what is the pathway to spirituality? He said follow Halacha / Jewish law.

I mentioned before that one’s real self is not the body. It is the soul. Please the soul and you will live a happier life. The problem why happiness is elusive is that – people pick and choose Mitzvot. “This is good enough for me.” “This mitzvah doesn’t fit my lifestyle.” So I will pick to follow my own made up religion – of what I think is good and what I think is wrong.

G-d really made it easy for us – He already told us what is right and wrong. That’s not our realm. Our realm is determining whether – the situation we encounter it is right to do A or B – based upon what Torah says. We can’t rewrite the Torah. No one can. Because I know my intelligence is nothing in comparison to G-d’s, I’ll relegate determining what is right and wrong to G-d. I’ll just decide if my intended reaction to a situation fits the Will of G-d as described by the Torah. This makes my life much easier.

Even this week pray – given all our Torah knowledge – that Hashem gives us the wisdom to do His will in each situation.

G-d’s View vs My Personal Interest – Choosing the Greater Good for the World.

I realized – after the fact – What it really comes down to is choosing to let G-d guide your life through Torah is choosing a greater good for you and for all society. I am very limited in my vision and the consequences of my actions. G-d takes all into account. The good for me, the good for society, the good for your family.

My scope is much more limited. I am biased. It’s putting my personal interest aside for G-d – for the greater good of the world. Though – I may not understand G-d’s ways or sometimes even certain of His laws – I follow. Once I know that G-d gave a nation of millions of people a law – where millions of people witnessed the giving of this divine document – I can feel confident following that law. I can feel confident I am doing a greater good for the world by following Torah.

A higher level is doing things leshem shamayim – for the sake of G-d. We have a special relationship with Hashem – for thousands of years He has been helping us with a kind hand. We thus do good for His sake.

We become a greater individual. We become bigger. I look at the interest of others rather than just my own. I follow what G-d wants rather than what I think is right. Usually they coincide. Sometimes they don’t. But in a case of my opinion – and the opinion of the Torah is diffferent – I defer to Torah – for G-d’s wisdom is greater than mine.

Remove Doubt – Remove Suffering

Living a Life of doubt is painful. If I don’t know what is right or wrong, I am always in doubt. Torah takes that doubt away. I just see what Torah says or ask a competent “Orthodox” rabbi what it says about a particular issue.

Years ago someone asked “what should be done with a person on life support”? I didn’t know the answer. I asked a Posek (a Rabbi qualified enough to make Halachic / Jewish law decisions) on “pulling the plug from life support.” I explained the case – He said it was forbidden. I told the family.

They followed and were happy with their decision. They did not live a life of regret asking “Did I do the right thing?” They knew they did the right thing for they based their decision upon Torah.

My Life of Picking and Choosing

I was in the situation of picking and choosing what is convenient for me.The “This doesn’t fit my lifestyle” attitude – until I chose to get off this “double citizenship” – of on one hand following Torah when it’s convenient and not when it is not. It took time. As they say “slowly but surely wins the race.” But once I did commit to follow Torah based upon what it said to do rather than what I thought is convenient – I changed myself and changed my life for the better.

I didn’t choose what I should do and not. I knew I had to do all – my choice was relegated to choosing what I was ready to take upon myself. At one time I took complete eating Kosher inside and out of the house. Then I took complete Shabbat observance. Then I took wearing a Kippah. Then I took Daily Torah study. Each one has their own path to Judaism. I’m still trying to grow. But at least I have a path. Some don’t know the path exists.

Achieving Your Purpose in Life

That same path in Judaism – that brings spiritual satisfaction – brings one to achieving their personal potential and purpose in life. Apparently they are related.

The Real Thing

I don’t want that Kosher style lifestyle. I want the real thing.

I won’t lie. It takes effort. It takes sweat. Going against the grain. Breaking the mold that society builds for you. Moving Forward day by day. Overcoming the challenges – but you know in the end you have a Hand that carries you. A good G-d that watches over you.

Anyone – regardless of their level of righteousness – can have emunah / trust in Hash-m’s / G-d’s providence and He will help them. G-d will even help the thief who prays to Him to be successful in his endeavor to steal from a house. Anyone can repent and start over.

But strong connection takes work. Work at it. Be ready to go the whole 9 yards. And you’ll never be or feel alone. You’ll always be directly connected to the One above.

D’var Torah on Ki Tisa

In parasha Ki Tisa (in Shemot / Exodus) it says

When you count the heads of the children of Israel  .. and you shall give an atonement for your souls & there will not be a plague…”  We do not count Jews by a having a headcount. Each gives Half a shekel and they are counted,  in order not to have a plague.  When one counts,  one limits the Berakha.

Another explanation is: The word for count is Tisa, which also means to uplift. When a person uplifts himself and other people by him growing & helping others to grow in Mitzvot, Torah study and giving tzedaka,  he prevents plagues and other bad things from happening in the first place.

The Chofetz Chaim was asked to donate a fixed price for each bed in new a hospital.  He said he would give a large number. They asked how could he afford that.  He replied by me studying Torah,  there will not need that amount of beds – for people will not become ill. 

Venatenu – in Hebrew for “and you shall give” can be read the same way frontwards and backwards.  A person who gives to a proper Torah charity will receive the money back – usually many times more.*

Using Happiness to Eclipse Problems

A person has much to be thankful for. Regardless of what situation a person is in – and I am not judging those in pain – one can find at least one thing for which to be thankful – that they are alive. We create the reality that we are living by our attitude.

You have a “Poor Me” attitude – you will be sad. You have a “Thank G-d” attitude, you will be happy.

But some things annoy us in life. We all pass difficulties. I recently received a ticket. Yes, upsetting. But deep down I knew G-d had a reason. A reason for my best interest. So I felt a bit consoled.

Here is story I heard recently from the book “Living Emunah 2” – By Rabbi David Ashear. (p 168-170)

Once a person took upon himself a stringency to be careful not to sit next to a person of the opposite gender in a plane – to avoid temptation and bad thoughts. He got on to the airport early – to assure that the ticketing agent would book him next to a man. On the plane he realized that his seat was next to a woman.

He asked the stewardess if he could change his seat. She didn’t want to bother – so she told him “I am sorry that is impossible. If you do not stay in your seat, you will have to leave the plane and your baggages will not be removed from this plane and you will have to purchase another ticket.”

He responded calmly – “Ok. I guess I’ll get off the plane.” A bystander got up and said – “This person will not leave the plane! If he gets off I will get off! And I will take my baggages with me. I will make you go through all the baggages to get my baggages off the plane! You will be delayed until you find them!” The stewardess backed down from her “Don’t bother me” attitude. It took her a couple minutes to arrange seating that would accommodate the man.

After the flight the Jewish man went over to the other man. “I want to thank you for standing up for me. I Appreciate your effort.” The man responded “No problem. Really, I didn’t do it for you. I did it for me.”

He told him the following story –

 

“I have a friend. He was driving a Jewish passenger in his relatively new Taxi cab – he was an observant Jew. The car stalled and he wasn’t able to restart it. He assured the passenger that he’d be able to get him to the airport on time. He started tinkering with engine – He thought it was a minor problem. Finally when he realized time was short, he flagged down another cab for the passenger and they both got into the cab to London Heathrow Airport. They rushed to the gate. My friend pleaded with the gate attendants to let him on. They declined “Sorry – too late.”

He booked another flight and the cabbie went back to his cab. Surprisingly the taxi started immediately upon ignition. A few hours later they heard the news that the flight he was to take – exploded and all the passengers were killed. This was Pan Am flight 103, which was blown up over Lockerbie, England by a terrorist attack.

“From that story I realized that your G-d protects His people.” The man said. “So when I saw you boarding this flight I felt good, knowing everything would be Okay. But when I saw you were getting off, I got very scared and decided if you are leaving, I’m leaving too.”

A parent sometimes scolds a child. Sometimes he may even hit him. But the child understands that it is for the good – and although the scolding may hurt he understands that it is for his best interest.

When one’s child walks into the room – he can think “ok. what does he want now.” or “wow how great is G-d for giving me a child.” When he walks into his house he can think “I hope dinner is ready.” or “Wow. What a blessing G-d has given me such a house.” When he walks to the subway he can think “It’s so cold out” or “Wow. G-d is kind for giving me the ability to walk.”

If we were to look at all the blessings we have at the time we are annoyed or upset, we would let it slide. Our happiness would eclipse our sadness. Our happiness would eclipse our difficulties – especially knowing that G-d is a good G-d that will do the best for you.

Keep Smiling! You’re Alive!

When Friends Forget Friends or Buddies Become Bitter

Remember the good old days. You used to go out with your friend regularly. You had good times and bad together.

They are still a friend on social media. You bump into them sometimes. “Wow. It’s so good to see you! We have to stay in touch. Let’s get together sometimes!”

But you call them at the office the secretary says: “Let me check if they’re here. I think I saw him in the office…” Pause. “Oh, I’m sorry he’s in a meeting right now. Would you like to leave a message?”

No returned phone calls. No response to texts.

“I hope he’s still alive” – You think.

Calling his cell phone it goes immediately to answering service.

Yes, you grew apart over the years. He went his way and you went your way.

Perhaps you became more Torah observant.

What do you do?

I believe a true friend is a friend forever. They are there for you when you are in need and not in need.

A good friend will answer your phone calls regardless if they are busy. They will return your phone calls. Answering phone calls of people you know – I feel is common courtesy. Even more so friends.

Making Peace
If you left things off on bad terms – make peace. If you left on good terms & if the relationship is worthwhile – so try to patch things up. Speak with a third friend to be an intermediary. Visit them when they have a good occasion or a Shiva / 7 days of mourning. Send them Shanna Tova Cards and Jewish Holiday Cards.

Don’t give up. Because they are not friendly – doesn’t mean you should do the same.

Life Goes On
In any case – life goes on.

Your main concern in life should be your own family and taking care of their material, emotional and spiritual needs. Help them to Grow in Torah in Mitzvot.

Gain pleasure from their growth.

Should you become bitter yourself because they don’t answer you? Sorry – Not worth the mental anguish. Make new friends – those that care for you materially, emotionally and spiritually. People that will help you grow in Torah.

And your old friends – pray to Hash-m for their best. At least when you were younger you had a good time with them – and that’s a reason to be still thankful to them – regardless of how they act now.

Look at the good. Be thankful to Hash-m for what you have. Be thankful for your current friends, for your family and your Jewish community. If old friends answer you good. If not – you become a better person by not becoming bitter.

Don’t become bitter – based upon the actions or reactions of people.

Change Rejection – to a Positive Outcome
I needed change for the meter the other day. I asked people on the street for change for a dollar. Most people said “Sorry. I have no change.”

Just like that “rejection” of giving change is not a reason to become upset or evaluate myself negatively – perhaps they really didn’t have change – an old friend who refuses to communicate with you is not a reason to become upset or evaluate yourself negatively – perhaps they don’t realize the value of being in contact with you. Usually it is their loss.

Perhaps one day they will need you and you will respond kindly, without resentment. Without a grudge. They will realize the folly of their giving you the cold shoulder.

Love Your Fellow Jew
The Torah says to love your fellow Jew. Like it says “Ve’ahavta Le’reacha Kamocha”Love your fellow as yourself (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:18).

Live according to Torah ideals – in which your actions are guided by what Hash-m / G-d thinks of you rather than what others think of you.

G-d wants you to love His children. Your love ultimately makes you a better person.

Time to Get Over It – Becoming Better not Bitter.

People live lives based upon an occurrence that happened to them.

Yes, we should surely learn from experience. Yes – everything happens for the good. Yes G-d had some positive reason for it to happen.

If this experience helped to become a better person fine.

If it helped him to become a bitter person – then they lost the message of G-d.

G-d wants his children to be happy. Some people have propelled themselves to heights through overcoming difficulty. Athletes. Business people. Musicians. Artists. Inventors. Scientists. People from all walks of life.

Other have become the complainers. The deniers of G-d. The haters. The abusers. The bullies. The hermits. The self-pity-ers. The naysayers and those with the negative attitudes towards life. They blog about the negativity of the world. They cast negative stereotypes on others – who are similar to those that made them suffer.

Suffering is a two edge sword. Some take it as a reason to look at the world with negative lenses. Some take it to cut the cake and eat it. Like it says – the pessimist sees the glass half-empty. The optimist drinks it.

You chose your attitude. “He made me sad” is not a reason – it is an excuse. You may not control what happens. But You control your attitude. And you can choose to be happy or bitter. It is in your hands.

Obviously each should seek help from others. Each should work on their self esteem. Each should take the time to learn from the suffering – to overcome it. To learn what good came out of it. And to look at the good in everything G-d sends.

That is the goal of suffering – to become better not bitter.

= = =

Recently  Got a Text:

If: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z  is equal to: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Then,

H+A+R+D+W+O+R+K* =8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

K+N+O+W+L+E+D+G+E=11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 *=96%

L+U+C+K  =12+21+3+11 = 47%

None of them makes 100%.* *Then what makes 100%?

Is it Money?

NO!

M+O+N+E+Y= 13+15+14+5+25 =72%

Leadership? NO!

L+E+A+D+E+R+S+H+I+P=12+5+1+4+5+18+19+8+9+16 =97%

Every problem has a solution, only if we perhaps change our “ATTITUDE”…

A+T+T+I+T+U+D+E ;* 1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

It is therefore OUR ATTITUDE towards Life and Work that makes OUR Life 100% Successful.

Amazing mathematics

lighten up – lightening your load physically, emotionally and spiritually

sorry.

my shift-keys are not working.

thus i type lower case.

it’s ok.

it makes things easier.

there are ways to get around it. copy capital letters from other places. PUT ON CAPS LOCK. change the case in the word processor.

everything is good. even this.

i’ll deal with it eventually.

but now i’m happy. no need to shift.

G-d is good. He feeds the whole world. He sends our income and sustenance. He also sends difficulties and challenges. but all is for the good.

some people act like donkeys – not in the pejorative sense – but they take one problem and put it on their back. another one comes along. they hold on to the other problem. another. until the straw comes and breaks the ‘camel’s’ back. they snap.

it’s not supposed to be that way. G-d sends us challenges for our ultimate good. problems are like detours in the road that ultimate lead you to the good path.

a person should generally be happy with life. that should be their general mood – be happy. don’t worry – be happy is a Torah concept in 4 words.

so how does a person lighten up. bills are piling up. no job. no spouse. no income. no friends. what now. [the period should be a question mark. sorry – the shift problem.]

lightening up is easy. there are three venues – the physical, the emotional and the spiritual.

why be concerned about the physical. when one is in good health and shape they feel better. here are some tips.

physical lightening up

  1. eat a balanced diet
  2. don’t eat till you are hungry
  3. don’t eat till you are full – save some space
  4. walk a bit after a meal – it helps the digestion going.
  5. sleep on your left side – it helps digestion
  6. eat light meals.
  7. eat a good breakfast – before midday – with bread, preferably more than an ounce of whole wheat bread – without sugar or sweeteners in the bread – eaten within a span of less than 7 minutes. having a solid breakfast – with bread – will prevent you from snacking meals.
  8. eat healthy snacks.
  9. eat fruits and vegetables before meal.
  10. eat in moderation
  11. chew well
  12. eat in a calm, relaxed setting
  13. avoid too much meat [like Maimonides – the rambam – who was a doctor and rabbi, says]
  14. exercise. stay in shape.
  15. do needs regularly. [remember to say asher yatzar – prayer for good health]
  16. fast once a week – from morning to evening. [even if you have breakfast]

obviously, you must know your own constitution. what your own body needs. consult a doctor if necessary. some people avoid salt. others need salt for their constitution.

emotional and psychological lightness

a person’s emotions have an effect on their health. thus being emotionally healthy, helps a person to be physically healthy.

  1. avoid anger. if one is temperamental – it befits them to read books on the subject – like anger, the inner teacher by rabbi zelig pliskin.
  2. look at the positive in every situation.
  3. look at all the good you have in life
  4. don’t talk badly about others.
  5. don’t watch, read and listen to negative tidings – news, etc.
  6. avoid negative people.
  7. know that G-d is good and does good for us every moment – like a loving father.
  8. keep calm – Hash-m / G-d is in control
  9. believe it will be good and it will be good

spiritual lightness

after Yom Kippur – i feel lighter – not only because of the fast but also because i let go of a load of sins that kept me down. i relieved the load from my back. at times a person feels depressed because of the spiritual. they have everything they need physically, emotionally and psychologically – but they still feel sad. this could be a sign of spiritual deficiencies. i myself know, from experience, that transgression brings a person down emotionally. so if one wants a lift – and to lighten their load – the first step is to know the proper path to spirituality.

some think that spirituality is found in exotic places like the far east, or thailand or india. sorry – wrong address. why. because spirituality is closeness to G-d. G-d only appeared once in the history of mankind to an entire nation – composed of millions of people. they heard Him speak directly to them at the revelation at mount sinai about 3,300 years ago. G-d doesn’t change his mind. so, obviously the Torah is the law that G-d gave to achieve ultimate spirituality. if a person took this to paragraph to heart – they would save thousands of dollars and much time and effort – by knowing that the address to spirituality starts with Torah. first one must find the right path, then pursue spirituality. if they do not, they end up churning water.

i tell you this from experience. i sinned. i ate non kosher. i didn’t observe the shabbat [a Gentile does not have to eat Kosher and does not observe the Sabbath]. i didn’t keep many other laws. when i transgressed i felt heavy. down. out of it. saddened. when i put my act together – and did teshuva / repentance – i felt lighter and happier. holiness and happiness are synonymous.

lightening up spiritually

  1. remove yourself from transgression – Jews follow the Shulchan Aruch – code of Jewish law and Gentiles follow – the seven Noahide commandments – given to the Jews at mount sinai in the Torah for all humanity to follow.
  2. do teshuva / repentance – the steps to teshuva include – 1. cessation – stopping doing the misdeed. 2. commitment – firm resolve never to repeat the deed. 3. regret – sincere remorse for wrong one did. 4. confession verbally admitting to G-d / Hash-m the wrong one did and asking forgiveness.
  3. learn torah – have a regular schedule to learn Torah through attending lectures, reading books, listening to audio etc. see the links sections
  4. eat kosher – eating kosher purges negative spirituality from one’s system. guard the mouth.
  5. avoid transgressions involving desires of the body. – ie, guard the eyes, the heart, the touch. celibacy is good to purge negativity and desire from one’s system. a person celibate can make a better decision for a marriage partner.
  6. purity in thought – think pure thoughts allows you to lighten your attachment to the physical.
  7. avoid listening and talking badly about others
  8. physicality can be used for spiritual or holiness. one should choose to use it the proper way. physicality can be used to bring a person up or down. a person eats Kosher food – brings himself up. a person who eats pork and non-kosher food brings themselves down spiritually.
  9. go to the mikve – purifying waters
  10. for married couples – keep family purity laws
  11. women – keep laws of tzniut. tzniut is loosely defines as modesty. it entails laws of how a Jewish daughter dresses. today’s society’s motto is dress to impress. to tell you the truth – i don’t need that pressure. remove that pressure – you remove a load. you would rather have a person appreciate you for your innner quality and beauty – rather than your outer garments – that have nothing to do with your inner self.
  12. do kindness with others – when you do you feel better about yourself and feel purpose in life
  13. know your purpose and pursue it – you have a particular purpose – find it out and go full speed ahead to achieve it
  14. keep yourself occupied with doing good for others. actively pursue doing good – according to Torah. If you are not sure if an activity you are involved with is good according to Torah – ask a competent, reputable orthodox rabbi.
  15. have a close relationship with G-d – call out to Him for anything. ask Him for all you need. express yourself to Him. ask Him to direct you, guide you, show you the proper path in life, protect you. He is your loving father. you always have someone who loves you, will listen to you, and will help you through any ordeal or concern – no matter how big or small. you can never ‘bother’ G-d / Hash-m. He always answers anyone who calls out to him sincerely.
  16. solve your problems – don’t complain. take action to improve your lot. at times G-d sends difficulties for a person to become closer to him. resolving to follow in His ways can solve problems two-fold. one – G-D no longer has any reason to send you difficulties – if you are following his path. two – following the torah path helps a person avoid difficulties. a example is a person who eats Kosher will likely not get swine-flu. or a person who is celibate will not likely not get herpes. or a person who keeps Shabbat – will have better family relations – because they eat meals together at least once a week.
  17. be happy with what you have.
  18. be thankful to G-d and to people around you
  19. have a positive attitude
  20. Have emunah and bitachon in Hashem – having faith that G-D is good and does only good to you – is one way to lighten your load. read the book ‘living emunah – a guide to serenity in daily living’ – first and second edition – by david ashear is an excellent book to help a person built this attitude.

G-d wants you to be happy. you just have to believe in Him and yourself and your half-way there to lightening up your load.

Four Questions & Three Words to Make You Smarter & More Successful

The Four Elements in Personality of a Person

A man is composed of Earth, Water, Air and Fire. People’s personalities are a combination of all of them. You have:

Airy people – like social butterflies.

 

Firey people – hot tempered or very take charge.

 

People like water – fickle or unstable or go with the flow.

 

People that are down to Earth.

 

Each one of us has some of these traits.

The personality is a combination. Some have more of one than the other. I think I am of the down to earth kind.

Each element trait can be used for good or bad.

That is our goal in life. Using our personality and talents to do the greatest possible for the World.

The Guide to Reach Success

G-d gave us the Torah to reach that potential.

Nothing else will do.

Here are proofs that the Torah is the true path to Success.

A rich man – who beats his wife? Successful as a person or not? Obviously not. The Torah prohibits lifting a hand against another. An woman Executive who is a tyrant at home? Successful or not? Obviously not. The Torah says not to be a tyrant at home. A wealthy young millionaire – who spends his time texting rather than helping others around him? Successful or not? No. The Torah teaches the value of helping others. A middle class person – who raises a family with good values. Successful? Yes. The Torah teaches us the value of being a good person and transmitting it to our children through a Torah education.

The Problem of Religious Stereotyping

I met many people. Some shy away from religion. Some don’t want to here about it. Some want to convert you. Some are open minded. Some are thirsty to learn. Some will cross the street when they see you.

I can see all their points of view. I myself find organized religion – lacking to say the least. Worshiping a man – doesn’t make sense to me. Worshiping objects also is irrational. Killing innocent people in the name of G-d is also unbearable to support.

The problem why many shy away from Judaism is because they throw all religions in a pot – including Judaism – and reject all.

Basically it’s stereotyping.

Judaism is Life

Judaism is not a religion. The Torah is called “a Tree of Life”. What are the fruits of a tree of life? Life. Torah is life.

Judaism is based upon the laws of the Torah. The Torah is the only divine law that was given to a people, by G-d himself, in which millions of people heard him speaking. Compare that to any other religion. Many say – this person had a vision or a dream or a prophesy. That cant be compared to millions of people personally hearing G-d speak to each one of them. No vision. Millions actually witnessing and hearing the transmission of a Divine Law – the Torah.

Will the Real Law of G-d Please Stand Up

The first step in becoming smarter than others – is to recognize the true law of G-d – the Torah. Defining Smart as being ready, willing, able and active in achieving your potential in life.

Someone asked me – “If you could do any transgression, and not be held accountable, what would you do?”

I thought about it.

“Nothing.” I replied.

Not that I was not tempted. But the Torah teaches that a person only sins if a spirit of folly enters into them. It basically means that any transgression will lead you farther from achieving your goal and potential in life.

If I was to follow transgression – I wouldn’t be true to myself, my goal, my purpose and my ability to help others. Instead of achieving my goal, I would be following after futile pleasures and be left with nothing. Achieving nothing – like dust in the wind.

See the difference between Yaakov / Jacob and Esav / Esau. Jacob followed after Torah. At life end, He had a beautiful family – children, grand children & great grand children following in his path of wisdom, exceptional values & being models of those that represent the G-d that his father discovered. People of the world would believe in G-d because of them.

Esav, on the other hand, who followed his passions, had many Generals, armies and much money. But what did he do for the world? Nothing great. Came after him, his way – was the Greek culture. Look at external beauty – but it’s no problem to be rotten inside.

This is the victory of Hanukah. The victory of values over external looks. Being good rather than following after dead-end pleasures.

I deviated many times from the Torah path, unfortunately. Every time finding, I am not achieving. Just churning water.

Your Most Important Asset

I never was too religious. Pain was my motivator to get me to think. After many years, I found that your most important asset is your ability to think. Your mind should be in control of your emotions not the other way around is what my Rebbi used to say.

Determining the True law of G-d and the Path to Success

G-d had to give a way for people to determine the true law of G-d. it must be simple enough for the average man or woman – be able to determine what that law is. Otherwise only smart people would be accountable for transgressions. We are all responsible for our acts – whether we are smart or average.

One can find G-d through an emotional event. But it will not necessarily help you find the true G-d. You can find G-d – but still not know who he is. But emotions are not a determining factor to find G-d or His law. One person can feel that one religion is right for him, while another will feel something else. So one cannot find the true G-d through emotion or feeling.

The way for one to find G-d is through rationality

Finding G-d through Rational Thought

The Four Questions

G-d, our Father, like a human father – wants us to be successful. If one thinks things out he will be able to come to the conclusion that Torah is the true way of G-d and thus success. How? By asking four questions and answering them rationally.

The four questions are:
1. Is there a G-d?
2. Did He Give a Law?
3. What is that Law?
4. Did G-d Change His “mind”?

 

In short here are the answers:
1. Yes. Rationally, It doesn’t make sense that random atoms formed the world and nature.

 

2. Yes. Rationally, It doesn’t make sense that G-d created a magnificent world to allow others to destroy it.

 

3. The Torah. Rationally, G-d would have to give a law to millions of people, rather than one man, otherwise a person could always say – why should I believe that man. The Torah is the only Divine law given by G-d, witnessed by millions of people.

 

4. No. Rationally, It doesn’t make sense that G-d, who knows all, is omniscient – knows past, present and future, is the most intelligent existence, will change his mind about His laws.

Once one has accepted this train of thought – now one can propel himself through life on a different level. Following the laws of Torah will help a person become a well-balanced, productive, kind individual to reach his personal potential in helping others.

There are three words that help a person to reach his potential. I learned these words the hard way. Through suffering. I believe the suffering was imposed upon me – possibly for my past failings, lack of concern and consideration for other people. But the sufferings woke me up to a new world – to focus on doing good to others, looking at the good in others, being concerned for others – rather than my personal pleasures and whims at the expense of others.

Every day is another opportunity to grow. Every day I try to improve. It’s a never-ending process. Sometimes I take a step back – but at least I know I am on the right path. It is a process of going up and down – but the trend line generally goes up.

What are those three words?

“Hash-m Knows Best.”

A man is full of temptations. He is fickle. One interest drives him here. Another in another direction. But having Torah as a guide will help a person keep his eye on the ball. Even if it is not convenient. Even if it is not comfortable. People don’t like to change. But by changing for the better one becomes the real You. Becoming a better you is the path traced by the Torah.

You become You. With three words You become You.

“Hash-m Knows Best.”

If you don’t know what is good – ask an Orthodox Rabbi. Look in the Shulchan Aruch if you are Jewish. Look in the 7 Noahide laws from the Torah if you are not. But Use the Torah as a guide, Pray to Hash-m to help you find the right path and follow it – and you will go far.

Very far.

The 4 Questions to Ask to Solve a Problem

When I was a Young Lad – about 25 – I was hired by a company ERI Bancaire, SA. They were in Geneva. A small start-up company. Running things as a good company would. But they needed structure & marketing. They hired me for that.

I got interested in Quality Assurance. I learned the key concepts – like Total Quality Assurance, Continuous Improvement, the House of Quality. Interesting concepts to improve. A Person can also use Quality Techniques to improve themselves.

In Quality Circles, people get together, not to place blame, but to discuss ways to improve the procedures of the company.

I came up with 4 questions – which involve using some of the Quality Tools – like Brainstorming and the Fishbone / Casue & Effect Diagram.

The 4 Problem Solving Questions:

  1. What is the Problem?
  2. What are the main Causes of the Problem?
  3. What are the Best Possible Solutions?
  4. How Can we Implement Them?

The First part involves getting the people involved who know the most or are most concerned about the problem or concern. This is called a Quality Circle. The First Step is to Decide by Consensus, the exact problem. The more precisely it is worded the more accurate solution. Remember to assure that the problem is the real problem – not just a symptom of a greater problem. Like people are coming late, might be a symptom of low moral. Or it might be a problem in itself.

Step 2 is to Brainstorm all of the causes. No idea is criticized. It is just to generate ideas. Not to evaluate. Even if some ideas are a bit off the wall, write them down on the board.

After causes are exhausted. These causes are then placed on a Fishbone or Cause & Effect Diagram. The Fishbone Diagram is looks like box with a horizontal line attached. Attached to the line are other lines that are the major categories of causes. Like “Material, Methods, Machinery, Manpower, Environment, Mindset & Miscellaneous.” You Choose the subcategories of causes. Useful software for making a fishbone diagram is called “Mind-map” Software.

Then discuss by consensus (or vote) what are the major causes. Remember the 80/20 rule also called the Pareto Rule. 80 percent of wealth is in hands of 20 percent of individuals. Or 80 percent of problems come from 20 percent of causes.

The next step is to find solutions to the Causes. Each cause is taken and discussed to find the best possible solution. One Can brainstorm for solutions or decide by consensus or do both. The Idea is to determine what, why where, who, when, & how.

One of the reasons that the Japanese have been successful in their quality campaigns is because their decisions by consensus. It takes more time than a vote, but ultimately a more thought out solution is made. The kinks and considerations are worked out in the discussion rather than after the product or service is implemented. Thus it might make more sense for a person to take the time in the beginning to iron out the details, than to have a detail or error produced and reproduced once it the product is manufactured.

It is more costly to catch an error after it is manufactured than to do so on the drawing board.

The last step is to implement the solutions. People have to be given responsibility and accountability. There should be methods to measure the effectiveness of any solution that is implemented.

There are many Quality Assurance Tools to use to Find solutions. You just have to find the right ones for you. Some include:

Quality Circles – Meetings to solve management, manufacturing, service quality concerns.

Fishbone or Cause & Effect Diagram – which helps to pinpoint causes of problems;

Brainstorming – to Generate Ideas;

House of Quality – used to find relationships between aspects of quality;

Software Quality Assurance Tools – which include endurance (hacker) testing;

Pareto’s Rule – which says that 80% of wealth is found in 20% of individuals – that applies to quality concepts;

Statistical Process Control – which analyzes statistically implementation of quality solutions;,

Force-Field Analysis – Analyzes forces that are working towards a positive outcome and forces against them.

Shewart Cycle, PDCA (plando–check–act or plando–check–adjust) is an iterative four-step management method used for the control and continual improvement of processes and products. Also known as the Deming circle/cycle/wheel, Shewhart cycle, control circle/cycle, or plando–study–act (PDSA).

Many tools are at the disposal of a business. The smart manager uses them to find solutions, avoid finding the person to blame. The smart person can use them to improve themselves.

A problem is sometimes an opportunity in disguise.

Using quality tools and involving others in decisions also have another advantage. People are given responsibility & importance that will help them to be more motivated – as seen in the Theodore Herzberg Motivation Theory – which states people are more motivated when you give them more responsibility, opportunities for achievement and appreciation.

Obviously, we must make our effort to solve problems. Our diligent efforts combined with Sincere & Precise Prayer to G-d / Hash-m will help you to find the best solution and solve problems. Hash-m has all the answers.

==

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