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!

Getting a Sunny Personality – Accepting Insult with Grace

People insult.

The Giving End of Insults

We are sometimes on the giving end. I try not to insult people. I think – what do you gain? You make another person feel badly and you didn’t gain anything. Now that they are more angry at you because you insulted them – they are going to do what you want?

The concept of “Sticks and Stones may break my bones – but names will never harm me.” is not a true concept according to Torah. Words can hurt. Onaat Devarim / Pain With Words are a set of halachot / Jewish laws that Jews learn to not hurt others with words.

The Receiving End of Insults

We sometimes are on the receiving end of insults. I try not to get insulted by insults. I figure the other person had a bad day or something. Because the other person called me a donkey – did that make me into a donkey? No. It says in Torah – if someone calls you a donkey – prepare a saddle for your back. (Baba Kama 92b) Meaning – Don’t answer their insult – and acquiesce – rather than respond angrily – to their words.

The Healthy Sun

A French expression says “Sickness does not enter where the sun is.” So it is good to live in a place that has sunlight. Also – when a person has a sunny personality – he or she is less likely to become ill. People who let insults slide – do not hold grudges and feel anger or hatred. They avoid negative emotions & stress to have a negative physical effect on their bodies.

The Reward for Not Responding to Insults

The Torah says “Someone who is insulted but does not insult, One Who hears their degradation and answers not is like the Sun in it’s zenith” (Talmud: Tractate Shabbat 88b)

The atonement that does for all of his sins is greater than any other reparation he can make.

When One is Like the Sun

I was speaking with my friend Yossi. He explained to me why that kind of person is compared to the Sun. Why not say – he is like a lion?

Why is the Moon Smaller than the Sun

He answered – when Hash-m created the sun and the moon He created them the same size.

The moon complained – he said – “Hash-m there cannot be two rulers in the sky. G-d answered him – you are right. Make yourself smaller.”

When the sun was summoned to the discussion by Hash-m – Hash-m asked the sun – what does he have to say? The sun responded – with astonishment. He didn’t understand why he was summoned. He meant to say: “I don’t understand why I am summoned – It is You Hash-m who knows all. It is You who are the ruler of the world – what can I say?”

In that – the insulted who does not respond is like the sun. He accepts Hash-m’s judgement favorably, without complaint.

King David’s Reward

When Shimi ben Gera insulted David HaMelech / King David – His general said this man is rebellious against the King – let us kill him. David Hamelech replied – it is not he who insulted me – it is Hash-m who organized this.” His reward was so great – that his face was placed on the Throne of Glory.

The Dynamics of Change – 5 Easier Ways to Change Habits

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

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

The four parts of Teshuva / Repentence are :

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

1. CessationStopping doing the misdeed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Change your “Got to” to “Get to”

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

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

  • Wake up before you snooze.

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

 

The Yield Sign & Judaism

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

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

Balance of Good & Evil for Freedom of Choice

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

The Quick Fall

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

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

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

The Quick Rise

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

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

The Steady Path of Self Improvement and Self Growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude to the One Who Gives

This week’s parasha – Ki Tavo – talks of the first fruits / Bikurim. Farmers bring the first fruits that blossom – of the 7 species special to Eretz Yisrael / the Land of Israel – to the Beit HaMikdash / the Holy Temple in Yerushalayim / Jerusalem.

He says a text and he gives the fruits to the Cohen. The rich people who would bring fancy baskets of gold and silver – the Cohen would return the basket. Yet the Cohen would not return the baskets – made of reeds – of the poor people. Why?

  1. The poor people worked hard to make the basket – Hash-m appreciates the hard work of the common man for a Mitzvah.
  2. The poor people – may have put the best fruits on top and the lesser quality fruits on the bottom – thus we didn’t want to embarrass him by taking out the fruits.
  3. The Cohen was sending a message that I’ll take this basket – so that, with the help of G-d – you will return next year with a gold basket.

The Mitzvah of first fruits is to show that all that we have we owe our first and foremost gratitude to Hash-m. We also do the redemption of first born boys and first born animals showing our gratitude that all we have is a Gift from G-d.

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

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

Superheros in Judaism – Superpowers of the Jewish Righteous

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

Superpowers mentioned in Torah

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

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

Thank G-d for Free Choice

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

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

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

What’s Stunting Your Growth?

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

Knowing our Goal in Life – Self-Improvement through Torah

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

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

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

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

The Difference between Permitted & Forbidden pleasures in Judaism

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

Change Yourself – to Change the World

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

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

 

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.

G-d Wants the Heart

Once a man was doing the Pesach / Passover Seder. He got everything ready in advance. The night of Pesach he donned his nice garments. He started well in advance and started doing the Seder nice and slow – telling the Hagaddah, singing, drinking the wine, eating the matzot and finished eating the Afikomen right before Hatzot / Midnight.

He was smug and proud about the beautiful seder he did.

The next night of Pesach he took a nap before the seder. He woke up with little time before Hatzot. He had to conduct the entire seder in a short amount of time. Quickly he read the Haggadah, drank the wine and ate Matzot – finishing just in time before Hatzot.

He was a bit upset about how he conducted the second seder. He had a dream – telling him – that his second seder was more beloved than the first. Since he did the second seder with sincerity, humility – it was preferred.

Hash-m / G-d wants the heart.

Do it right. Do it with sincerity.