What Makes a Child More Resilient? Yetziat Mitzrayim / the Exodus from Egypt

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Someone told me of a podcast they heard on Resilience.

What allows a person to become resilient. Among other things – the author of an article on the subject mentioned – that if a child learns of family member’s past, their challenges, their triumphs, their difficulties, their jobs etc. the person apparently learns to be more resilient. It makes sense. If a family member encountered a difficult situation and overcame it, I can too. If they made it through tough times, I come from the same blood and also have it in me.

If they encountered a road block, i am not the only one in that situation. Other people are in the same boat and just like they eventually jumped over it, I can too.

G-d showed His Kind Hand in someone else’s life, He will also help me.

Hearing stories of family, of history of our people apparently transmits the same inner strength. It’s not just learning history – it’s transmitting values, valor and inner strength.

Every year, on Pesach / Passover, we tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. It not only gives us national unity in experiencing a common suffering that we overcame – but it transmits the power to overcome struggles. The power of resilience.

Our Shabbat. We eat together. Connect. Sing. Share stories & divrei Torah. The eating together helps us connect. We learn from each other and become stronger to face the week ahead.

 

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20 questions that can help you to evaluate how much your children know about you were formulated by Dr. Marshall Duke and Dr. Robyn Fivush. They created the “Do You Know?” scale in 2001 to ask children questions about their family in order to test the hypothesis that children who know more about their families are more resilient and can handle challenges better than children who have limited knowledge about their families.

The questions, designed to ask children things they would not know directly, are as follows:

1. Do you know how your parents met?
2. Do you know where your mother grew up?
3. Do you know where your father grew up?
4. Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up?
5. Do you know where some of your grandparents met?
6. Do you know where your parents were married?
7. Do you know what went on when you were being born?
8. Do you know the source of your name?
9. Do you know some things about what happened when your brothers or sisters were being born?
10. Do you know which person in your family you look most like?
11. Do you know which person in the family you act most like?
12. Do you know some of the illnesses and injuries that your parents experienced when they were younger?
13. Do you know some of the lessons that your parents learned from good or bad experiences?
14. Do you know some things that happened to your mom or dad when they were in school?
15. Do you know the national background of your family (such as English, German, Russian, etc)?
16. Do you know some of the jobs that your parents had when they were young?
17. Do you know some awards that your parents received when they were young?
18. Do you know the names of the schools that your mom went to?
19. Do you know the names of the schools that your dad went to?
20. Do you know about a relative whose face “froze” in a grumpy position because he or she did not smile enough?

Judaism Will Free You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Torah is what will free you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Jew is closer to Torah than one might think.

Rabbi Yissocher Frand Transcript of Speech at 12th Siyum Hashas

I was looking up the Transcript of the speech of Rabbi Yissochar Frand – Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael Yeshiva in Baltimore – he made During the 12th Siyum HaShas at MetLife Stadium in 2012. I didn’t find it. Here is one I tried to put together:

 

Birshus Rabbanan verabosai. The DAF – it’s become so common an expression that it is no longer the DAF Yomi but merely the DAF. It’s become a proper noun. It’s part of our daily manner you’re speaking. Expressions like did you do the DAF, where’s the DAF holding are part of our lexicon. But according to Mayor Shapiro, it’s so much more than a mere figure of speech.

The Gemara in, Yevomos, relates how Raban Gamliel once saw a ship sink with Rebbi Akiva aboard. He was sure that he had drowned. Rabi Akiva miraculously appeared before him. Raban Gamaliel asked him, How were you saved? Amar Li Daf Shel Sefina Nizdamen Li. The simple translation of that is that Rabi Akiva was saved by holding on to a plank [Daf] of the ship, a daf. But the word daf in the word daf. Mayor Shapiro saw clear metaphor. It’s the daf that saves so many of us from drowning as well. Maybe not in the turbulence of the sea. But the turbulence that sometimes is our lives.

Put succinctly via the haunting pasuk nigun that we know the haunting pasuk that we know, from that haunting Nigun Lulay Sorascha Shaashuai azavadi beoni. If not for your Torah that was my delight, I would have been lost in my pain. And this is what Rav Mayer Shapiro try to convey. That it is Limud HaTorah, Bichlal. And the Daf Yomy befrat that is our life preserver. It’s the life line that we all need.

And that’s very expression “lifeline” – someone wrote to me to describe his relationship with Daf Yomi. Suffice it to say that this person had had a difficult life. He was a Yasom [orphan] at an early age, she had very little money. He had several medical medical issues, and he did have an easy time socially. And here here’s what he wrote me after the last Siyum HaShas [completion of the Talmud] seven and a half years ago. I have been out of yeshiva for two years, and I had barely learned a word. I was not all that happy with myself. I would come home at night and stare at my 19 inch color companion. And I realized that this had to stop. So I tried Daf Yomi. As I sat in Madison Square Garden last Tuesday night, I was on the ail tail end of a roller coaster ride. I had not had the greatest muscle socially, job wise, city wise, and the list goes on. But what I did have was a lifeline. A constant companion on the train at the doctor’s office late at night, early in the morning a trusted companion who would never let me down even if everything else and everybody else would. All this companion asked for me is that I visit it every day for an hour or so. So I can hear what he has to say.

It’s the same message that the Gerer Reber once told it’s a tzebrachen Yid, a broken Jew who had recently lost his wife, and was very, very lonely and he cried to the Reber from the depths of his solitude. The rebbe told him Ov Yid the hot a blatt Gemara. Is a Kanmal nishta lane. If a Jew has a blatt Gomorrah, he’s never alone. Which one of us wouldn’t want such a companion?

Limud HaTorah is so much more than just another mitzvah. It is life itself. Those words “Ki Hem Hainu veOrech Yamainu” are to be taken literally which helps us explain the famous Gemara in Masechta Yuma that Hillel hazaken used to spend half of his daily wages to gain entry into the Beis Hamedrash, and one day when he couldn’t find work and had no money, he went up to the roof in the dead of winter, and listened from the skylight. Aloי venitlah veyashav al pee I Aruba kedai Sheyishma divrei Elokim Haim Mipi Shemaya veavtalion [Yoma 35b] the Hofets Haim asks, that this Gomorrah seems to contradict the well known Halakha that one should not spend more than 20% of his assets in the performance of a mitzvah. Why then did Hillel seemingly violate this halacha by spending 50% of his meager wages in the performance of a mitzvah?

I once heard the Chofets Haim himself in Likutei Halakhas alludes to this, and that is because the Gomorrah uses an expression that the Gomorrah rarely used. Matter of fact, it’s the only time in all of Shas Bavli that the Gomorrah uses this expression to describe a Shiur. And that is “kedai Sheyishma divrei Elokim Haim Mipi Shemaiah veAvtalion.” This wasn’t just a shiur. This wasn’t just another mitzvah to Hillel. This was divrei Elokim haim. This was life itself. And for life itself. There are no spending limits. To Hillel. This was his lifeline. And when he couldn’t afford it, he listened from the skylight he Hillel truly believed in those words, Ki hem Hayeynu veOrekh Yamenu.

And in some level, we all feel like this, perhaps not consciously, but somewhere in the recesses of our souls. We know this to be true.

Rabbi Aaron Paperman was a chaplain during World War Two and after the war was over, he would visit DP camps to provide for the needs of the Holocaust survivors. And he’d ask each of the survivors Vas daf dir. What do you need? And the answer would invariably come back “Ich daf a porshich”. I need a pair of shoes. Ich daf a poor Hoisan. I need a pair of pants. However, there was one Yid, his name was Mr. Seeger. He was a bobover Hasid. He had a strange request Rabbi paperman asked him “Vas Daf dir?” What do you need? His response was “ich DAF a Baba Kama”

Rabbi Paperman said to him, Y’a, y’a ober “Vas Daf dir?” What do you really need? And again, the same response ich DAF a baba Kama – until Rabbi Paperman finally realized that that is what he really wanted. And it was successful and getting him a gemara Baba Kama that he Yid knew with his entire being that besides for clothes and shelter, and food and water, every Yid needs something else he needs a Baba Kama. Ki Hem Hayeinu Ve Orech Yameinu.

And there’s another factor that motivates people to learn the DAF Yomi even in our day and age, when our Mayer Shapiro started this magnificent program. It had a natural attraction. A Jew in Europe, who toured it toiled a menial job during the day, saw learning at night as an escape from a difficult reality. This was his hour of enjoyment. This was his relaxation, a respite from a life that was full of privation. But today, there are so many distractions, so much to occupied one’s time, so much out there that dazzles the eye on the imagination. And yet, people will rise at 5am or begin at 11pm. To do what? to study a text written more than 1500 years ago, in a difficult language, which is intellectually challenging, with many arcane subjects. And this has to compete with other pursuits that seems so much more alluring. They will do this in planes In some trains and in buses, they will do this during Hasanus this waiting for the Huppa they will do this in doctor offices and in Supermarket checkout lines, they and their wives and their family and their children will bend their schedules to make this happen. Why? How do we explain the inexplicable? Perhaps it’s because people realize that Torah is real, and everything else, no matter how dazzling is just fake.

The Pasuk / passage describes mattan Torah as the Ribono Shel Olam speaking to Klal Israel Kol GadDol velO yasaf a mighty voice Velo yosaf. Rashi says that the words Velo yasaf means that the voice never stopped. But where is that voice? Have you heard it? My good friend Rabbi Jakob luban told me that he heard from his rebe rebe Elya Svae, who heard from his Rebe, Reb Ahron Kotler that that voice is the voice of the rebono Shel Olam talking to the man through the Torah and when one Yid learns Torah He still hears the reverberation of the Rebono Shel Olam. Speaking to man, that is the power of Limud HaTorah – that is how the DAF competes and the DAF Trumps.
because it is the real thing, and everything else is just fake. It is the power of the authenticity of Torah and we’re hearing another voice today.

The MedDRAsh says on Reb Yehoshua ben Levi Bekhol yom veYom bas kol, yotzat mehar horev ve omeret oy lahem la beriot me’elbona shel Torah that every day, a heavenly voice bemoans the fact that Yidden not learning enough. Well. Have you ever heard that Bas Kol? If you’re like most people, you will answer No, I haven’t. But in truth, we’ve all heard that bas koll all be it faintly the Baal Shem Tov was said that that Bas Kol is the herehurei Teschuva the thoughts of Techuva that we have from time to time, when we think I really should be learning more, or unreasonably wasting my time with this. That is that Bas Kol. But sometimes it’s too fleeting. It’s too faint. And we squelch it. And we quash it and we ignore it. But today, sitting here among 90,000 people we do hear that Bas Kol – it’s the clarion call that emanates from the stadium that shouts “learn more.”
We can’t say we don’t hear it. We hear it loud and clear. And today we cannot squelch it.

Today we must respond. And today we must leave here with a plan.
if you’ve never learned that DAF Yomi then tomorrow is the day to start. If this is your second or third time finishing shas that you ask yourself must ask yourself how am I going to do better next time around? Maybe go to a shear Iyun once a week on the Sugya of the DAF maybe learn the daf in the morning and go to shiur hazara At night. maybe be so bold as to take tests on the Daf. And if you can’t learn then a Daf a day then make it an Amud day are a daf of Mishna Berura a day or a mishna a day but something a day

But we must respond to that bas kol that we can no longer ignore and leave here with a plan. And that was the message there of Nosson Tzvi shared with the Yid named Reb Nochom Stillerman, Mr. Stillerman after retiring moved to Eretz Yisrael in honor of his 70th birthday, he finished Masechta Shabbos an accomplishment he proudly shared with Nosson Tzvi Finckel. Rav Nosson Tzvi congratulated him but told him that that’s not enough, go back and figure out a plan how you could finish Shas. He came back with a printout and figured out that by learning 10 hours a day, it would take him 23 years to finish Shas. Rav Nosson Tzvi’s reaction was “now that’s a plan.”

Mr. Stillerman, however, had a different reaction. I’ll be 93 by the time I finish, how can I undertake a plan that I cannot possibly finish? Rav Nosson Tsvi Finkel – by then afflicted with debilitating Parkinson’s disease for more than 28 years, struggled mightily from his seat. And while shaking, he reached under the table cloth and pulled out more of his plans for the expansion of the Mirrer, Yeshiva. And he turned to Mr. Stillerman. And he asked Him “and do you think I can do what I’m doing? Look at me!”

But he had a plan. And that’s what he demanded from Mr. Stillerman – a plan. And that’s what’s demanded from us today. A plan and if it’s sometimes B, B seems beyond our koachos [power]. All we have to do is picture in our mind’s eye Rav Nosson Tsvi Finkel. Mr. Stillman once had another conversation with Rav Nosson Tsvi. Years earlier of Nosson Tzvi had commented to Mr. Sillerman incredulously that maybe his Parkinson’s disease was an onesh a punishment for not learning Torah Lishma.

Mr. Sillerman sometimes sometime later offered a different approach as to why the Rosh Yeshiva had to suffer based on Yerushalmi Masechta Horayos, Yerushalmi says in Masechta Horious. That would Moshe Rabbeinu learned Torah on Har Sinai, from the Rebona Shell Olam, he would forget immediately what he learned until at the end the Rebona Shell Olam gave him the entire Torah as a gift. But why did Moshe have to suffer and endure this frustrating experience of learning and forgetting and learning and forgetting and learning and forgetting? Says the Yerushalmi – Koll Kokh lama? la haChzir es hatipshim, so that people who forget their learning won’t give up and say, what’s the use? It’s an exercise in futility. I forget anyway. MoShe Rabeinu provides the counterargument Mr. Stillerman suggested that maybe the Rosh Yeshiva had to suffer from his illness to provide living proof that one can learn even if it’s difficult, like. Like the man I heard about two nights ago, who was member of A daf yomi me in Brooklyn, but in the middle of the cycle, became blind. But he would go to the DAF every day in spite of his blindness. He was the first to come and the last to leave to learn real Torah She Be’al Peh.

Rav Nosson Tsvi leaned over and kissed Mr. Stillerman and quoting the Gomorrah in Masechta Maccos. He told him Akiva Nikhamtanu. Akiva Nikhamtanu. You have comforted me. In our generation, we had a Rav Nosson Tsvi Finkel, an American born boy, raised in Chicago, Illinois. A graduate of every crown day school who became a gadol beyIsrael. Most of us will never become a Rav Nosson Tsvi Finkle. But he taught us all something. Even if we never stepped here in the Mirrer Yeshiva. He taught us never to give up. He taught us not to say this is too hard. He taught us to always have a plan. He taught us to aim higher. He taught us to reach beyond. And he taught us that beyond your reach is really within your grasp.

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SUMMARY KEYWORDS daf hayomi , torah learning , stillerman , daf yomi , torah , life , finkel , gemara , hillel , rav , people , bas kol , shiur , mitzvah , shapiro , plan , daf , lifeline ,

Your Purpose in Life – How to Find It

Rabbi Hanania ben Akashia says “The Holy  One – Blessed be He – wanted to give merit to Yisrael – therefor he increased the Torah & Mitzvot – as it says “Hashem – because of his Righteousness – increased the Torah and made it mighty.” (Pirkei Avot 6:11)

רבי חנניא בן עקשיא אומר רצה הקב”ה לזכות את ישראל לפיכך הרבה להם תורה וכו’

Some explain this as – G-d wanted a person to observe more mitzvot so he gave them a greater quantity of Mitzvot. The Rambam – Maimonides explains – that G-d gave a person a greater choice so that they could choose one mitzvah to do with the best quality.

If one does one Mitzvah to perfection – he or she will be able to receive a portion in Olam HaBa / the World to come.

Rav Shaked Bohdana explained in a Shiur / lesson that the key word is “Meyamay” / in all my days. In the Talmud – we have Kimchit that had 7 Chief Kohens . Cohen Gadol serve in the Beit HaMikdash / the Holy Temple. What was her merit? She responded “In all her days she never let the wallls of her house see her hair uncovered.” (Talmud Yoma / 47a) Meaning she was exemplary in the trait of being modest / Tzanuah. Rabbi Hanan

Rabbi Adda bar Ahava lived long. The sages asked what was your merit that you have long life? He responded In all my days I was never never angry in my household and I never walked in front of a sage that was greater than me. (Talmud Yoma / 47a)

Rav Bohdana mentioned that doing a good need regularly applies not only to a mitzvah from the Torah or From the Sages – but to a good character trait – like we see from Rav Adda bar Ahava.

Consistency is key. When we find a mitzvah that we feel is particularly important – doing it to perfection will give us great merit in this world & reward in the next.

How do we find a mitzvah that we find important? See what good deed or mitzvah or good action that we find important and learn about the details in the Torah and be consistent.

Two small points: One – because we do one mitzvah to perfection – it does not mean that we neglect the other Mitzvot.

Secondly – we should assure that something is a mitzvah from the Torah according to an competent Orthodox Rabbi before we take upon ourselves something that we feel is a Mitzvah. Someone might think giving out cigarettes or encouraging people in a certain way of life is a Mitzvah – it might be just the opposite. Get things clear before you start.

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!”

The Smart Phone & Tolerance – Where Are You Holding Spiritually?

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In a Beit Midrash / house of Torah study in Brooklyn, someone asked me to use my phone. I said “sure”. When I pulled out a Smartphone – he said “Oh, no thank you.” I wanted to help him but he didn’t want to use a Smartphone – because it is an object of temptation and wasting time. I respected him for that. I now use a flip phone for personal use.

Someone I know stopped using a Smartphone. His rabbi told him to stop. He listened. Once a Jew with a knitted Kippah in Israel asked him to take a picture of him with his smartphone. The young man replied in a nice way “sorry, I try to stay away from smartphones.” The man replied in Hebrew “Ashreicha” / “Happy are you” [meaning that’s a great thing].

Others would not react so kindly. The question is why do we react a particular way to people with higher Torah standard than us? Some react to one who proposed something that is above their standards by accepting, being positively envious and aspiring to also do the same. Others may react by yelling and insulting the person. It happened to me several times.

Can You Handle Truth?

Knowing how we would react to higher Torah standards indicates what spiritual level we are on. Are we envious of people with higher spiritual Torah aspirations in a positive way – by wanting to emulate them now or in the future or envious in a negative sense – by degrading or looking down upon them?

What is Our Level of Spiritual Aspirations?

Torah is truth. Torah is Hash-m’s / G-d’s word. G-d knows all and does only good. We are limited beings. Our objective is to emulate the kindness of G-d. Thus it is important to know where are we holding spiritually. 

So – it is helpful to ask ourselves are we willing to go all out to do the utmost to accept those who have higher Torah standards or are we going to put the others down because we feel uncomfortable that we are not on their level? Or worse – G-d forbid – change what we think the Torah says because we want to feel comfortable?

I once had a conversation with someone in college – a secular Jew. I explained that it is better to accept G-d’s word – the Torah and say – I accept that the Torah is G-d’s word – but I am currently not on the level – than to say I am on the level – and  think of rejecting the Torah or try to change what they think that the Torah says.

It’s a challenge. But this is true Tolerance – to accept the people’s actions – whose actions are on a higher level than yours. That’s true Tolerance. Even greater is wishing & aspiring to also be on that higher level.

On the negative side – Tolerance is not accepting the actions of others that go against Torah. That is decadence. Real Tolerance is being respectful to others regardless of what they do. That does not mean to condone their actions. Hold people accountable for their actions but act respectful when dealing with them.

Deep down a person wants to do good. Every Jew has a spark of the Divinely given soul that wants do do the Will of G-d. The question is how will the situation that causes spiritual cognitive dissonance be expressed emotionally? Positively or negatively. A person can always grow. At times a person can react negatively at first way and after learning the importance of the mitzvah will change and react positively. This happens through learning works of mussar / Jewish Ethics and halacha / Jewish Law.

The Torah is the divine work that G-d / Hash-m gave the Jews to become closer to Him. A person who wants to become closer to Hash-m tries to find ways to become closer – by accepting Mitzvot. Even greater is trying to bring other’s closer to Hash-m. Like it says in Pirkei Avot  / Ethics of the Fathers 1:12

“Love Peace & Pursue Peace – Love the creations and draw them closer to Torah.”

In the Sefer / Book “Or La’amim / A Light unto the Nations” (p. 17) Rabbi Yoel Schwartz explains Bringing people closer to Torah & Hashem is a Mitzvah D’Oraita (A Torah Based Commandment). He brings accountability of Jewish people to teach the 7 Noahide commandments to all people in  Midrash Vayikra Rabba 6:5 (on Leviticus 5:1 & Deut 4:39) and the Positive Commandment to do so in Rambam (Maimonides) in his “Book of Commandments” (Positive Comandment 3) quoting Sifri Devarim 32:2

explaining the Verse in the Shema Yisrael:

You are to love Adonoy, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your possessions. (Devarim / Deut 6:5)

 

“We have already explained that this commandment (love of Hash-m/ G-d (Devarim 6:5)) involves calling upon all mankind to worship Him and to believe in Him”

Story of R. Chaim Kanievsky and the Man with Half-Face Paralysis

A man suffering from paralysis of half the face – possibly Bell’s palsy ailment – where half the face droops – came to Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, zt”l. He explained his disorder to him and asked for a blessing. Rabbi Kanievsky thought a moment and asked the man “Are you willing to wear a beard?”

After some contemplation – he replied “Yes”.

R. Kanievsky said “it Says in the Torah ‘VeHadarta Penei Zaken'” (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:22) – you shall honor the countenance of the elderly – meaning you shall respect an elder. Words in Hebrew have vowels separate from the consonants. The Word Zaken (Zayin, Kuf, Nun) can also be pronounced Zakan – meaning “beard”. Taking the phrase with those vowels now the verse would read ‘VeHadarta Penei Zakan’ – which changes the meaning to “A Bearded face will be Beautified.”

He grew the beard and the slowly his Bells Palsy was cured.

 

The Prayer (and Solution) for Shalom Bayit / Peace at Home

In a recent Shiur / Lecture Rabbi Meir Eliyahu mentioned that after his lectures the two most frequent Berachot / Blessings that people ask from him – are that they or someone should find an appropriate mate / Shidduch and a prayer for Shalom Bayit / Peaceful relations at Home – usually between man & a wife.

He mentioned in passing – once someone asked Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Aurbach, zt”l – a Gadol / Great rabbi from a recent previous generation – “Why didn’t the Anshei Kenesset HaGedolah / Men of the Great Assembly include in the Amida / Standing Prayer (said in daily Jewish Prayer Services) a prayer for Shalom Bayit / Peace at Home?”

He Responded “They did” – [in one of the last paragraphs of the Amida – it says And those that curse my soul – let me remain silent] –  “and let my soul be like the dust of the earth to all.”

The reason why many don’t have Shalom Bayit is Expectations – “Aren’t you supposed to serve me? – aren’t you supposed to agree with me? Aren’t you supposed to respect me? Aren’t you supposed to appreciate me? Aren’t you supposed to bring money home? Aren’t you supposed to clean the house?”

If you  consider yourself as dust – you don’t have such high expectations. You don’t get into quarrels.

Pray for peace – but just as important work on your middot / character traits.

There are segulas for Shalom HaBayit (Shin, Lamed, Vav, Mem, Hai, Bet, Yud, Taf in Hebrew.) – like reading Tehillim / Psalm 119 / the eight verses corresponding to each of the letters for Shin, Lamed, Vav, Mem, Hai, Bet, Yud, Taf.

But learning works of Mussar / Torah Ethics like Messilat Yesharim / Path of the righteous, Hovovot HaLevavot / Duties of the Heart, Shaar HaBitachon / Gate of Faith in G-d from the Beit HaLevi – can also help. Check out Feldheim & Artscroll for their Mussar Sefarim / Books.

Pray for Peace but Work on Your Middot.

Pursue & Practice Pleasantness

It’s a challenge to always be nice and pleasant.

I feel you can say almost anything to a person in a nice way. I try – but it doesn’t always work. So how can one learn?

Emotions get in the way. One first step is getting control of one’s emotions.My rebbi used to say a person’s mind should control their heart not the other way around.

Another is practice talking nicely and weighing one’s words.

Another is learning works of mussar / Jewish ethics – like Duties of the Heart (Chovos ha-Levavos R Bachya ben Joseph ibn Paquda) and Pirkei Avot.

Duties of the Heart – talks about how a Jewish person is to act, feel, think. It is a good start.

In the introduction to the Sefer / Book we read:

Inward service, however, consists of the fulfillment of the Duties of the Heart such as: to acknowledge the Unity of G-d in our hearts, believe in Him and His torah, to undertake His service, that we revere Him and humble ourselves before Him, that we love Him, trust in Him, and give over our lives to Him, that we abstain from what He hates, devote our actions to His Name, that we reflect on the benefits He bestows, and similar things which are performed by the thoughts and sentiments of the heart but do not associate with activity of the visible limbs of the body.

Belief & Trust in G-d is also an important aspect of being pleasant. When a person believes in G-d – knowing that all that comes from Him is for the good – his or her reactions are different than one who lacks trust. A person who trusts Hash-m will understand that all that happens is for the good. Keeping that in mind at all times is a challenge. To do so one can read books like the series “Living Emuna – Living a daily life of Trust in Hashem” By Rabbi David Ashear illuminates practical stories of how simple people who trusted Hash-m were able to overcome many difficulties.

Practice smiling.

Practice connecting.

Become better every day.