Do Good & Do Good For the World

Moshe / Moses is born in this week’s Parasha / Weekly Torah reading – Shemot. His mother and sister – Yocheved & Miriam – were midwives, named Shifra and Puah. They disobeyed Pharoah’s command to throw Jewish baby boys in the Nile river. The reason: they feared Hash-m – G-d.

G-d Compensates them by making for them houses. The interpretation is the house of Kingship and the house of the Kehuna / priesthood.

Hebrew has male and female, singular and plural pronouns. (He,She, it, They (m,f), them (m,f) and word endings. It says in the Pasuk (Shemot / Exodus 21:12) G-d made Houses for them (m). We would think that it should say He made houses for “Them (f)” – since Shifra & Puah were females. So it means that the good not only went to them but to other people as well – including males. [In Hebrew, we call a group of males and females – Them (m).”

It teaches us – if you do good for others – you not only do good for that person – but the good & the reward is returned to you and others.

Grabbing the Light of Hanuka

Candles lit for the eighth night of Hanukkah

Chanuka is great!

What a message! In the darkest of times there is light. Light that starts with the spark of a match. It turns to a flame. The flame lights one light. Then two candles. Until the whole menora is lit.

We experience light and dark every day. Our vision of darkness depends on our faith. Our faith in G-d / Hash-m. There are two aspects 1) believing in a good G-d. (Bitachon) And 2) believing that the Good G-d is doing good for me personally. (Emunah)

This is the light of Chanuka – seeing the light at all times – even when things seem bleak.

Keep Hanukkah in Your Pocket

During Hanuka – we see the light before us. After it is over – we say goodbye till next year. But don’t say goodbye. Take some Chanukah in your pocket. Take some hope. Take the message and keep it in front of you.

It is interesting that Hanuka falls usually during the Parasha / Weekly Torah reading of Miketz. Yosef / Joseph is in the dungeon in Egypt for a crime he did not commit. It has been twelve years since he was thrown in. His family turned against him. He is alone.

His only anchor from being lost in the sea of despair is his faith in G-d / Hash-m.

This suffering – however – transforms him into a new person. Before – he was chattering about the bad his brothers were doing. He was boasting about his dreams of rising to greatness. It was all about “Me”.

In the dungeon he starts seeing the pain of others. Through introspection and repentance he transforms himself into a caring person. By becoming a giver he rises to great heights. Soon after he notices the pain of others he is released. He becomes the viceroy of Egypt. “Hu HaShalit, Hu HaMashbir” He is the ruler – he is the provider. When a person becomes a giver, he or she rises to higher heights.

The Redemption depends upon you

Miketz starts with the verse : “And BEHOLD it was the end of two years [after Yosef interepreted the cupbearer’s dream] and Pharaoh is dreaming” We would expect the Pasuk to say “dreamed” instead of “is dreaming.”

In the 10th year in prison Yosef was supposed to be released and become the viceroy of Egypt. Since he was not ready [he lacked a tiny bit of emuna – faith in Hashem] he stayed 2 more years in prison.

Pharaoh kept dreaming the same dream for 2 years. When Yosef worked on his emuna and bitachon he was redeemed from prison immediately. At times we are supposed to receive good, but are lacking in our emuna or biachon. Improving our bitachon, will help us receive the good destined for us.*

There are three aspects to solving any problem – Prayer, Action and Belief.

The redemption is waiting for us. We must make that little effort to believe in ourselves and believe G-d is doing everything for our good.

The Greeks wanted to remove us from observing Torah learning, Shabbat, Sanctifying the New Month and Circumcision. In essence – they were telling us – you get what ou see. It is only a physical world. We are physical beings. They wanted us to remove Spirituality, believing in Divine Providence and having a relationship with G-d.

The Jews taught the world that there is hope. That G-d is here and to put G-d back into the daily lives of each one of us.

Believe and you will receive.

Drop Your Angry Mood with a New Attitude

It’s a Mitzvah to be happy. Ivdo et Hash-m BeSimcha. Serve Hash-m / G-d with Joy.

What’s Your General Mood?

Some like to have that angry mood. The Cool man show. The Drama queen. The “everybody owes me” mood. You choose it. But apparently the best mood is to be happy. A difference exists between happy and joking. A balance is needed. A person who is all jokes may end up missing the boat.

Do Real Good to Others & Feel Good Yourself

Apparently people want to do what’s right and good. Everyone in their way. One way is to make others happy. The people closer to you – you have more of an obligation. Do good. What is good for them. They might not realize it – but that’s a positive goal in life. And doing good makes you feel good.

Some may say – my friend likes to smoke – I’ll give him or her cigarettes. But that might be good in their eyes – but not ultimately good for them. How can I find out what is good? Look in the Torah – it will tell you. The Torah is Hash-m’s / G-d’s word.

Changing Moods

So how do I change my mood? Look at the face of babies. Interact with smiley – positive people. Fill yourself with positive spiritual energy – by doing good deeds, Mitzvot and learning Torah. Attend a Torah shiur / lecture. Plenty exist on-line. On almost every subject you may want. See our Links section for those with the Jerusalem Life “Stamp of Recommendation.”

A good place to start is “Torah Anytime” site. Choose your rabbi that makes you think, feel good, interests you and makes you smile and helps you become a better person.

Interact on a Less Superficial Level

A joke: Three women were talking. One says “You know, when I die I want to be buried in a Jewish Cemetery.” The other one says “When I die I want to be buried in a Jewish Cemetery in Israel.” The third one says “When I die – I want to be buried in Bloomingdales. At least I’ll know my Daughter-in-law will visit me once a week.”

The material is a means to becoming elevated spiritually. People of Torah add to the material speak – words of Torah.

Using Material to become elevated spiritually

Going shopping is good.  The ultimate goal in life is not the material in itself. According to Judaism it is to use the material to attain the spiritual. If you shop to look good for Shabbat or to present yourself in an elegantly respectful or modest way or to give for others – you elevated your shopping to becoming a Mitzvah. Giving Charity to the poor – you use material – to elevate you spiritually. Inviting guests over for Shabbat – you give materially – food, drink & hospitality – & you grow spiritually. (For those searching to invite or be invited for a Shabbat meal – Shabbat.Com was made for that goal.)

Choose Friends that Help You Grow with Torah Spirituality

Be friendly with people who want to help you grow spiritually in Torah.

This week’s parasha / Torah reading – Vayera teaches us this lesson. “And to him [Avraham] G-d appeared in the plains of Mamre and he [Avraham] was sitting by the door of his tent in the heat of the day.” Rashi – one of the Main Commentators of the Torah – says Mamre was the one who gave Avraham the advice to do the [command of G-d the] circumcision – that’s why G-d appeared in his [Mamre’s] area.

Make Your Soul Happy – Make Your Self Happy

When you are spiritually happy – it’s easier to be externally happy.

You’ll Get Over It – So Get Over It Quicker

A person needs time to cope. Something good or the opposite happens to him or her, it takes time to adjust to that change. People like to feel safe. They want an unchanging world.

One might steer clear of Judaism at times for that reason. Because they are reluctactant to adhere to the change that Judaism may impose on their lives. People accept atheism for that same reason – it is easier to stick to one’s antiquated ways than to accept a G-d that will require them to adhere to a set of laws – namely the Torah.

At times it is good to resist change – like when one has particular Minhagim – Jewish customs of their fathers. At times the Torah requires change – as when one must improve their character traits to become a better person. The Torah is the ultimate guide to Self-Help & Self-Improvement.

Likewise their are standard times specified for a person to cope. Like if a person just gets married – he or she has seven days to be surrounded by family and friends after the Hupah – Jewish wedding ceremony. This is called the Sheva Berachot – where for 7 days the newly wed couple celebrates their marriage at meals offered by friends and family. . Another standard time to cope is if a person, G-d forbid, is in mourning. They have seven days where friends and family visit them. In a sense – Shabbat – the Jewish Sabbath is a day to unwind and release negativity and rest from the slights of the week.

But some need more time to adjust emotionally to a situation. If a co-worker, a boss or a spouse insults or embarrasses a person, it will take time to calm down. It will depend on the person, the situation, the attitude of the victim. If that same person did something more minor – like interrupted you – the coping time is less. But apparently you are in control of your reaction. You are in control of your coping. You can choose to get over it quickly or let it linger.

The Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers says it in several places :

In Chapter 2 Mishna 10. They said three things: Rabbi Elie’zer says: Let the honor of your friend be as dear to you as your own & do not be easily angered & return [in repentance] one day before your death.

 

In Chapter 4 Mishna 1: Who is the strong person? One who conquers his [evil] inclination – as it states “Better is one who is long to anger than the mighty & one who conquers his will than one who conquers a city” (Mishle / Proverbs 16:32)

 

In Chapter 5 Mishna 11: There are four measures in temperaments: One who is easy to anger & easy to calm – his gain goes out with his loss. Someone who is difficult to anger & difficult to appease – his loss goes out with his gain. Difficult to anger & easy to appease is pious; easy to anger & difficult to calm is wicked.

All these statements point to the fact that one is in control of their temperament. You choose to get angry. You choose to calm down and how long it will take you. It takes time to change one’s temperament – but it can be done. (How? – that’s another post we’ll have to write.)

One way to calm down is to think – “Eventually I’ll get over this unpleasant situation. I might as well get over it sooner than later. Let me go of my anger today.” You’ll be better for it. You’ll feel better for it if you expedite your calming down process.

There was once a Rabbi – that remained calm in worrisome situations. Someone asked him how can you not worry in these situations. He replied “I really do worry. But I worry quickly.”

Worrying about the past present or future may be normal, but unproductive. The past has already passed. The future you never know what will happen. And the present passes in the blink of an eye.

Don’t worry – be happy.

 

What the Torah Expects of Non-Jews – the 7 Noahide Laws

In Judaism we have a common core of laws. Everyone must follow them. Jewish or Non-Jew. Men and women. Kings and the common man.

These laws were given to Adam HaRishon / the First man. They were given again to Moses when he received the Torah at Mount Sinai.

They are pretty simple. These laws assure the proper functioning of the world.

7 Noahide Torah Laws for All People
1 Being Faithful to G∙d – Don’t Worship Idols – Object,Animal,Man
2 Respect of Integrity of Family – Prohibition of Immoral Relations- Adultery,Bestiality,Homosexuality& Incest
3 Respect of Human Life – Don’t Murder
4 Respect of G∙d- Don’t Blaspheme
5 Respect of Property-Don’t Steal
6 Law & Order-Establish Courts of Law
7 Respect of Creatures-Don’t Eat Limb from live animal

7 are the big lines -but there are really 30 laws.

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Dextox Your Brain – How to Reboot to Serenity

I was on a flight back from Los Angeles. I avoid watching movies and TV. The written word is more educational – in general – I feel. But at times the screen of people seated ahead of me caught my glance. They were watching some action movies. A far cry from when I was young. The scenes were fast paced. Switching from one clip to another in 3 seconds or less. Extreme movement and violence.

Wow. That’s the entertainment of today. Thank you. I’ll pass. I’d rather live my life with meaningful relationships than staring at screens. Though I admit that I should cut down my computer and phone time as little as it may be in comparison to the common man.

After the flight – these images flashed in my mind. Explosions. Superheros. Violent fighting. Car Crashes. Got to get it out of my system I thought.

The solution. Simple. Stop watching for a period of time. G-d gave us the blessing of forgetting. It is also a gift so that a person will not dwell on difficult situations on the past. Eventually they will forget. It takes about 7 years to forget completely the feeling of a past loved one. After a year it seems distant.

Once Baba Sali – a great sage – accidentally saw an immodestly dressed woman. I believe fe fasted for 30 days to remove the image from his mind.

I’m not on that level. But I avoid sights – that contain violence. I filter my internet. I take precautions that what I view is filtered. I guess taking a break from viewing is a good start. Reading instead of watching is also good. Learning Torah is also good.

Just like detoxing from certain foods and hard drinks will make you feel more physically healthy – detoxing from media will make you feel emotionally and spiritually lighter.

Give Yourself more time to devote to self-improvement and enjoying your relations with others.

The Proper Response to Mazal Tov or Any Blessing for that Matter

Words have power.

Jewish people are constantly giving blessings. A boy or girl is born. “Mazal Tov!” / A good fortune!  An engagement! “You should have lots of Nachas / Nachat!” (Satisfaction) or “Build a Bayit Ne’eman Be Yisrael” / faithful home among the people of Israel!

When they meet. “Hatzlacha! / Success!” You hear someone got a new job. “Mazal Tov! Parnassa Tova!” / A good income! A Bar Mitzvah! “He should grow up to be a big Talmid Chacham!” / Torah Scholar. At a Brit / Bris Milah / Circumcision! She Yizkeh leGodlo beTorah, Huppah UMaasim Tovim. You should merit bring him up with Torah, Marriage and good Deeds.

What is a common answer to a blessing? “Thank You!” or “You Too.”

What is this like – A person gives you a check for $1,000,000. You say thank you very much. You don’t deposit it. You don’t endorse it. You don’t use it. One day you wake up and find the check hidden at the end of your office supplies drawer. “Wow I never deposited it?” You look at the date – 6 Months have passed. You don’t remember the giver. You really need the money. I guess you’ll learn for next time.

A Blessing has the power to affect the positive or negative. Prayer to G-d / Hash-m will have some kind of positive effect – either on the person you pray for or another person.

But you can make it more effective by “endorsing the check.” A blessing is a bit like a check – if you endorse and deposit it, it will appear in your account.

How do you endorse a blessing? You say “Amen.”

To return the blessing – we usually reply – “Vekhen LeMar” וכן למר

This means “and also for the master” implying the person who made the blessing.

So you receive the Blessing. You say “Amen. VeKhen Lemar.”

Now since they are recieving the same blessing of “Vekhen LeMar” The person who initially gave the blessing should also respond “Amen.”

 

Let’s Call a Spade a Spade – Don’t Call a Child “It”

Boys will be boys. Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice – that’s what Girls are made of.

The School of Political Correctness

Time to burn your Mother Goose books. Sorry did I say Mother Goose? “Mother” discriminates against the father. I mean Parent Goose.

No “parent” is also derogatory – just because they are older and gave birth to you should we discriminate against children and call them by this name? Let’s call them “adult caretakers”. No. “Adult” is discriminating against children. They should be equals. Let’s call them “older humans”. No that is discriminating. Why should we discriminate against the young. Let’s call them “big humans”. No that is discrimination because you discriminate against the small humans. Let’s call them just “humans”. No that is discriminating against animals. Lets just call humans and animals “it.”

Now that is a solution. Don’t call a president “president”. That is discriminating against those below him. You dare to call a person a principal? How dare you! That means that teachers are inferior. “Teacher?” – what an insult to the students. Please be politically correct. Just call everybody “it” and it will all be fine. “You”? that is discriminating against me. A Manhole? What kind of racism is that – call it a sewer hole. Sewer is a derogatory term – you are insulting the hole. Call it a cleaner thing. The ithole. Now you’re talking.

Manhattan? Let’s be correct and call it ithatten. That’s better. Manchester. Itchester. One small step for man one large leap for Mankind. Please edit that. One small step for it one large leap for itkind.

Parent teacher conference? Sorry. The It It conference. PTA? IIA! “The principal wants to meet with parents and teachers of children who have animals.” G-d forbid. “It wants to meet with its and its of its who have its.” Much better.

I hope you get the point.

Some people want to eliminate the terms “boy” and “girl”, “man” and “woman” – because it might be offensive to others and make them feel uncomfortable. It unlikely might insult this tremendously small part of the population.

Insulting the Many not to insult the minority

What bigger insult than calling a person made in G-d’s image “it”? So should we insult 99.999% of the population – to possibly not insult .001%. Sorry my friend. Doesn’t make sense to me.

But let’s put that point aside.

Calling People Neutral Names Lessens appreciation for others

Calling everybody by a non-gender or a neutral terminology will make people be less appreciated. If I call a principal “it” – it reduces my appreciation for all the work he or she went through to reach this position. If I call a parent “it” – it reduces my appreciation for all the toil they went through to bring up their children. If I call a teacher “it” – it reduces my appreciation for the hard work and sweat and dedication to the students.

If I call a girl or a “pink” an “it” – it reduces my appreciation for her unique qualities and her strengths. If I call a boy “it” or a “blue” – it reduces my appreciation for his unique qualities and his strengths. Calling a person an “it” – equates a person to an object. Women don’t like to be treated as objects. Rightfully so. Why Should children be treated as such?

Judaism says call everyone by their name. Don’t call them nicknames – that may be derogatory and make people feel uncomfortable. Act with Respect towards everyone. Appreciate them as a person. Appreciate their strengths. Be tolerant towards their differences. Call a Boy a Boy and appreciate them. Call a girl a girl and appreciate their uniqueness. Make them feel good by you validating them as a person. Don’t treat them as an object.

Decadence Masquerading as Political Correctness

Many years ago – our forefather Abraham – ridiculed idol worship. People would sacrifice children because they treated their children as objects to satisfy their lust for idolatry. Children should not be sacrificed today – for decadence masquerading as  “political correctness.”

Save Your Children. Appreciate them for who they are.

The Missed Opportunity – Why You Should Throw Your Phone Out the Window & Other Tech Junk While You’re at it

You’re at the dinner table. Your kid is there munching some cake. “Got to check my whatsapp for two minutes”. The kid finishes eating and walks away. You lift your head from the phone. “Where is he?”

You lost. You lost the opportunity to connect with one of the most important people in your life – your child. Why? For some video that someone with nothing to do sent you. Worth it?

Just Once? Not.

More than Once? Of Course Not.