At Ohr Binyamin – we are busy making new materials. Our latest project is the “You are Amazing” activity book.
It is a Positivity Magazine. “Be Positive. Love Yourself. Love Others and Smile!” A Jewish Interactivity Book – it allows one to take a more positive approach to life. It allows you to connect with children and others with KID CONNECT(tm) Questions.
It contains games, Mazes, Positive Statements and more.
It starts with them understanding the value of being on time. They learn that with how parents view time. Do they have to be on time – or getting their a little late is alright?
Getting into the rote can help. I put together a Mneumonic to help parents “BLSHKA”
B – Breakfast (Did they eat a Healthy Breakfast?) L – Lunch (Did they pack their lunch) S – Snack (Do they have a regular & Healthy snack?) H – Homework (Did they pack their homework?) K – Knapsack – (Do they have their Knapsack?) S – Attached (Are they Buckled or attached when riding to school?)
Starting the Second day of Pesach / Passover we start counting the Omer – a personal barley offering that is made by farmers between the fesivals of Passover (for the Jew’s freedom from Egypt) and Shavuot (the receiving of the Torah.)- a total of 49 days. This counting Corresponds to two countings – one is what day of the offerings it is in this offering. It also corresponds to how many days have passed in the counting up of days to Shavuot.
Usually when one looks forward to an event they count down. How many more days till their birthday, how many more days till their marriage, how many more days to get out of jail, how many more days to vacation.
So why here do we count upwards? 1,2,3… instead of downwards 49,48,47,… till the receiving of the Torah.
Rabbi Shimshon Pincus, gives an answer. Let’s say a person was promised One Million Dollars in 100 days. He would count down the days. But if he was promised $10,000 dollars a day for 100 days – he would count up the days.
The days between Pesach and Shavuot are 49. To acquire Torah – it requires 48 things. These are listed in Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers – Chapter 6 Mishna 5. Every day we are supposed to work on a different aspect of growth to acquire the Torah – totalling 48 days and the last day we are to work on all of them. Thus we count upwards – because every day between them is a day of growth – a day to be thankful.
Yaakov Avinu / Jacob Our Forefather – wanted to marry Rachel. Lavan – Rachel’s Father – said if Yaakov would work for him for 7 years he would give his daughter’s hand in marriage to Yaakov. The Torah says something puzzling – for Yaakov the 7 years seemed like several days. I would think the opposite – when a person wants to marry – they feel as it is such a long time.
The Answer – Yaakov was preparing himself for marriage every day to be able to be the founder of the Jewish nation. Every day was a day of growth for him. Every day he would become better by learning Torah and working to improve his character traits. Thus for him it seemed like several days.
Three Point to learn
One has to prepare themselves to get married by working on improving their Middot / character traits. Some people go into marriage thinking – OK now I have someone to serve my needs. But really that is the weak link in the marriage chain – because once one of the spouses does not behave according to their expectations – the chain breaks. If one entered into marriage thinking this is my opportunity to do good to others and to improve my character traits – the chain would not break – because the challenges (like the wife yelling at the husband, the man leaving his clothes around the house, etc.) are seen as opportunities for growth to become a better person.
One should go into marriage understanding that this is an opportunity to do good to others and to improve my character traits.
Every day is an opportunity to Grow – Self improvement is an integral part of acquiring Torah. To become a Dr., a Scientist, a Professor – one does not necessarily need to have good character traits. To become a Torah scholar or to acquire Torah one does.
Recently, a family held a party for the 60th wedding anniversary of their grandparents. It was a happy marriage – one that was peaceful, filled with blessing, joy and many children, grand children and great-grandchildren.
One of the descendants asked the grandfather – “how is it that you managed to live such a peaceful life together.” He replied “Many years ago a person was about to get married. It was the wedding day and the hatan / groom got cold feet. He told the Mesader Kiddushin / Marriage Rabbi that he wished to drop out.
The Rabbi – Rabbi Haim Zonnenfeld – realized that it would be a terrible embarrassment for the bride to not get married on that day. As he didn’t want the young woman to be embarrassed – he spoke to a group of young Yeshiva Bachurim / Yeshiva Students – explaining the situation. He promised that anyone who would volunteer to marry this woman on that day would be blessed with a beautiful marital life with children and grandchildren. One by one – each Yeshiva Bachur declined the offer. The last Bachur – recognizing the pain that the bride would have if the wedding was cancelled – took up the offer. He decided he would marry her.
The rabbi told the young man to call his parents to tell them to come to attend the wedding. They came. The couple got married. “You know who was the young bachur? it was me” he said.
We could say that the blessing was solely the reason for the great marriage. But apparently – a couple in which each partner is concerned about the honor of the mate over their own personal concerns – is also a reason and a formula for such a successful marriage.
In Torah Reading / Parasha Ki Tisa – Hash-m commands Moshe / Moses to build a Mishkan / Tabernacle for Hash-m’s Presence to dwell.
Hash-m tells Moshe to collect half a Shekel coin for each person of Bnai Yisrael / the Children of Israel to make a census. The weigh of a Shekel the coin is 20 Geras. So Half a Shekel Coin is 10 Geras. The Half shekel coin amounted to 10 Geras – was an allusion that the Jews sined against all the 10 commandments – by worshiping the idol of the golden calf. A person should learn to correct themselves from just a light allusion.
When we build a house for ourselves -we use good quality materials. When Hash-m commands us to build a House every single part is infused with Holiness and meaning.
The Half-Shekel coins were used to make the silver sockets – in which the columns of the Mishkan stood upon. All the coins were melted to form a whole. One message is that a family should have the goal of doing what’s good for the family – putting their self interests aside when necessary.
The Builder was Bezalel ben Uri Ben Hur. Hur tried to stop the Jew from building the golden calf. Instead of listening – they killed him. Bezalel could have said – I am not going to build this mishkan for Israel to build receive an atonement – they killed my grandfather. He did not bear a grudge. Do we absolve, let go and forgive or do we keep hatred in the recesses of our hearts?
To enter certain parts of the Mishkan a person had to be purified with the Ashes of the Red Heifer / Para Aduma. A person was who sprinkled upon became Pure – while the sprinkler – became impure. A person who wants peace must be willing to back down to make bring others up.
The Parasha starts will Ki Tisa – When you count. Literally it means – when you uplift. To have peace one should try to start with words that uplift. Your goal should be to uplift the other – not to bring them down.
Rabbi Mica’el Shushan, הרב מיכאל שושן – has a series on shalom bayit / peace at home. [In program 52] He quotes the pasuk – “The end of his act – is in his thought in the beginning” – The verse – means that what Hashem intended from the beginning happened at the end. He gave another interpretation – the end of your act you should consider from the beginning.
He gave an example: Let’s say a man comes home and takes off his shoes. He sits down to eat. His wife comes in “What are you doing?! You know how much I hate when you don’t put away your shoes?! You can’t make a small act to put them away?!” She thinks he’s going to change with her tirade. Really he is not. What will happen?
Excuse the comparison – but a scientist did an experiment. Every time he would feed a dog – he would ring a bell before. After some time – when he would just ring the bell – the dog would start salivating. It became a physical reaction.
When one spouse or parent starts nagging. The person on the receiving end will start associating the nagging voice with negativity and thus have a physical reaction to ignore the the nagger. The voice of that person will trigger ignoring – even when they speak positively.
The talking person should consider what message the sound of their voice provokes. They should consider what works with the other person and do what works.
It’s an oxymoron – mercy killing. If there is mercy – how can there be killing and if there is killing how can there be mercy. When a life & death question occurs – Torah Jews don’t rely on their own opinion. They consult a Torah versed Orthodox competent rabbi. They present the case – and he will provide the ethical answer according to the will of G-d. G-d gave us the Torah. In the Torah – it contains the reasoning to answer any ethical question.
Recently – a question of euthanasia arose – Could one disconnect a person from life support? I asked a competent rabbi. He said no – it is killing.
Once a person is on life support – usually one cannot disconnect them – if it is going to surely result in their death. Obviously each case is different and each must be asked to a competent Orthodox rabbi.
In dealing with such a situation – I learned of an organization that answers such end of life questions according to Torah Halacha / Jewish law. It is called Chaim Aruchim / Long Life.
They not only will provide answers but also intervene on the family’s behalf with the hospital to assure that the halacha is fulfilled.
Hospital’s “ethics” do not necessarily correspond with Torah law. Doctor’s mix their feelings and opinions into treating the patient. Once a Doctor was treating the husband of someone I know. He expressed how much time he expected the patient to live. She responded “You treat the patient. G-d will decide how long he will live.”
There are three things that must be provided by the hospital to the patient:
If they withdraw or refuse one of the above – it may be considered killing.
Things to avoid – Apnea test. It is a test to see if the patient’s brain is working. It is not necessarily accurate. In Torah law a person is alive as long as the heart is beating.
If one does pull the plug of a live person or gives the authorization against the disapproval of the halachic authorities – it may be considered killing according to Torah law.
Once a person was on life support. A doctor came by and felt badly for him. He unplugged him. The patient died. The man he killed came back to him in a dream and said “Why did you kill me? I had some more time to survive in this condition and my sins would have been atoned for on earth. Now he would suffer because he didn’t have that reparation in this world due to the Doctor’s precipitation of his death. Shaken, the Doctor did Teshuva / repented and it served as a merit for the patient he killed.
Suffering is not the worst thing in life. There are worse things – like living with out purpose and without doing good. The Torah provides the means to find purpose and maximize your doing good for yourself and others.
It was a prize from the Pet Show raffle. He came home not only with his knapsack that day – but with a small bird cage – bird and all. OK – we decided to keep it. I figured – oh no – I don’t like to take care of pets because if you are a bit careless – you might find a fish floating on top of the water after about a week.
Taking Care of the Bird
It wasn’t my first pet. We got it so I might as well take care of it. Perhaps there was a mitzvah the pet could help me to do? Like feeding it before I eat. I took care of it. I fed it. I gave it to drink. I showered it & cage with a hose. Rarely did I take it out of the cage. I was concerned it would fly away and I would be able to get it back in its cage.
Bird Babysitter – Stress and Animals
Once I left it to a friend to bird sit. His family liked the bird. Some time later I was informed that the bird died. I was saddened but a bit relieved that I was relieved of my duties as bird caretaker. I had theories that it had died because of stress in the house or old age. They offered to buy us a new bird – but I politely refused.
Prohibition of Pain to Animals
We have a Mitzvah not to cause pain to animals – it’s called Tzaar Balei Chaim. So I had to treat it nicely. Once a rabbi shooed away a lamb seeking refuge under his garment – ans since it was an act that was not to his stature – he was stricken with a toothache for 13 years. Taking care of animals is a responsibility towards the animal and towards the surroundings.
Don’t aDopt Dangerous Dog
A dangerous dog is forbidden to have as a pet it might hurt people. I heard of stores of pet dogs attacking children when parents weren’t home. Dogs also bark. Their bark can cause a woman to miscarry if she is startled of fear.
Yes – I know pet lovers will say – my dog is so kind. Still one must to be concerned about the points mentioned above. There are stories about dogs saving a person’s life in the Torah. Yes I know that dogs are called a man’s best friend.
Essence of a Dog
The word for dog in Hebrew is KELEV. Kaf-Lamed-Vet. Adam – the first man- gave the animals their Hebrew name based upon their nature. Adam called this animal KELEV because it is KULO LEV (All Heart). Someone gave me an interesting possible reason of why a dogs are able to connect with humans more than others. A dog has more hutzpa / audacity than other animals. This audacity makes it think it is on the level of a human. Other animals are not so brazen and they recognize they are inferior to humans. The preferred animal as a pet in the US is a dog. Interesting theory.
Of Pets & Having Children
A couple who lacks children should consult a competent Orthodox rabbi whether it is worthwhile to have a dog. A dog may serve as a comfort for people without children. This comfort may cause them to relinquish praying with all their heart to Hashem to help them bear children. Perhaps not having the dog would cause them to daven / pray with more fervor. This intensified prayer could open the heavens for their prayers to be answered.
Search for Satisfaction that is Productive
Once someone who had difficulty bearing children asked a rabbi what he could do to bear children after being childless of years. He asked the man – Is there anything that gives you satisfaction. He replied yes – my business. He told him to reduce his business dealings. He did so – and a short time later he bore children. Apparently a person is supposed to get a certain amount of satisfaction and pain during the year. He was deriving all his satisfaction from his business and that was eating up what was due to him in satisfaction. When he relinquished it from the business, Hash-m gave him the satisfaction from the children.
Do Animals Communicate
It was known that Shlomo Hamelekh / King Solomon wisdom allowed him to speak with animals. Apparently they have feelings also – as illustrated in a story between Shlomo and a bird boasting to its wife that it could destroy the castle of Shlomo to his wife.
The Curse of the Birds
Recently I heard that there are animals in Heaven – by a Rabbi Meyer Eliyahu (shiur in Hebrew). I also heard recently about birds that cursed their master. Someone was convicted of a crime. The Man asked a Mekubal – a Rabbi that is well versed in Kabbala / Jewish Mysticism – why he was convicted of a crime. The Mekubal answered that His Birds cursed him. He told the rabbi he would get rid of the birds. He said the decree was already decided in heaven.
Were the birds at least partially responsible for his sentence? I don’t know. Should you avoid birds as pets? You decide.
Fish, however, I heard are good pets to have because they have a good eye. They were not corrupted by the flood of Noah.
He has to catch the bus to work. his wife nags him – ”Why do you leave your bed unmade? Please Make your bed before you leave and pick up your clothes.” Reluctantly, the husband goes and does so, thinking ,,”ok I’ll be late 5 minutes. Better that than getting into an argument and be late half an hour.”
A man thinks – why is she nagging me? But really a wife is a reflection of her husband. Rabbi Meir Eliyahu said that the way a woman acts with her husband reflects the relation he has with Hashem. If she is makes dinner late – perhaps he comes to synagogue late.
In parasha Vayera Hashem asks Abraham, why did Sarah (his wife) laugh when she heard that she will have a baby at the age of 90. G-d reproched her lack of belief. Some commentators explain that Hashem wasn’t reproching Sarah’s conduct but Abraham’s level of belief because his wife’s attitude was a reflection on Abraham. Perhaps he had a slight imperfection in his belief. Perhaps he should have instilled in her or taught her more emuna – belief in Hashem.
So when one’s wife says something – it may be Hashem is sending him a message that he has to improve in a particular domain. Like cleanliness is next to godliness.