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.
I wish I knew that 10 years ago. I wish I has the foresight. We don’t see the the issue until we are faced with the situation.
OK. A course in foresight.
Take a situation. Like:
I am searching for a job. I am offered a job today. Should I take it? Fast forward 10 years in your mind. Now imagine you are 10 years older and still looking for a job. Do you regret the job you didn’t take 10 years ago (which is actually today)?
There are other methods of foresight – like listening to advice on your issue after asking a reputable Orthodox rabbi.
Doing Mitzvot also helps. Following Torah allows a person to structure their life and make good life decisions.
Once a person in Mexico City, who recently had decided to observe Shabbat, had a good deal to sell his office building. The buyer wanted to continue negotiating close to the entrance of Shabbat. The seller said he must stop to prepare for Shabbat. The buyer relinquished the deal. The week after an earthquake shook Mexico City. Due to the many buildings damaged and his remaining intact, he was able to sell his building at substantially more than had he decided to desecrate Shabbat and go through with the first deal.
Hashem has foresight. Observing his Torah allows us to tap into it.
My friend Meyer was talking about happiness. He said a formula where a person can be mostly happy.
There is always a silver lining
I knew of the concept, but he brought is out clearer.
We know Hash-m / G-d is good. G-d does good always.
Now if something happens that we think is bad – I hurt my ankle, someone yelled at me, someone called me a name – given the givens – we should not be saddened. We should make an effort to brainstorm why that could be actually good.
Someone I know was in a bus accident. They were hurt. They thought why did that happen – they were on the way to do a mitzvah. Afterwards the doctor proscribed time off from work – allowing them to take care of important business while being paid.
Technically one can be happy all the time. It’s a matter of understanding why what we think is bad is actually good. Looking at the silver lining in the cloud and putting our focus on the silver lining rather than the cloud – is the formula.
Having this attitude – one can be happy all the time.
Rosh Hashana is behind us. All Humanity of the world was judged- Jews and Gentiles. Hashem wrote his decrees. We hope all of us received a good verdict for the new year.
Hashem gives us many chances to rectify our misdeeds. Yom Kippur – the day of atonement – is when Hashem seals his verdict.
I was thinking about the concept of what happens. G-d has 3 books. The book for the righteous – who are written in the book of life. The book for the wicked – who are written in the book of death. The book for the average – that are hanging by their deeds.
A common expression to express that you want nothing to do with a particular person is “I wrote him off.” Meaning – I am cutting him off from any relationship. If you think of it, when Hashem writes someone in the book for the wicked – He basically writes them off.
Hashem acts with us middah Keneged middah, measure for measure. If we don’t write off people – God will not write us off. He will write us in the book of life. Some people write others off for hours, days, or life. Forgiving and forgetting is an admirable trait – whose repercussions can improve our daily life and give us long life. Once a rabbi was on his death bed. He was judged and in heaven – they added years to his life. Why? Because he never held a grudge- he always forgave people in his heart before going to sleep. [in the reading of the Keriat Shema on the bed.]
He forgave because he knew that any insult or suffering he endured was a message from Hashem due to his former deeds. The person who meted it out was just the messanger.
Why are people Fickle? Apparently they want to make the best decision. Thus they search for more information. When they find it, they change their mind. It could be new information that changes their decision- it could be a whim, a mood change. OK. But said and done – apparently if they have all the information at their disposal- that will help them make their decision.
A person might encounter new information that alters their direction in life. This information was not before them – is that considered fickle? They made the best decision. Now they have another variable to deal with.
G-d has all information before him. He knows all past , present and future- thus he doesn’t change his mind.
Two things you can derive –
1. A person who follows a religion that says G-d gave the Torah to the Jews and then changed his mind – by choosing another people or – nullifying what He expects them to do (ie, nullified the responsibility to follow the commandments He gave at Mount Sinai) – must answer the question “Am I following a religion that assumes G-d is fickle?”
The Torah Stance : G-d in making the Torah commandments had all information at His disposal when He made the commandments of the Torah. He knew some people could follow all 613 commandments – and gave them for the Jewish nation. He gave 7 commandments (which are really 30) to people who can’t commit to doing the 613 – the 7 Noahide laws for all non-Jews / gentiles to follow.
A gentile can decide to become Jewish and then follow the 613 Laws. A Jew cannot relinquish their commandments. When each reaches the next world – Heaven – they will be judged based upon their respective laws. Based upon observing these laws – they with receive a portion in Heaven.
2 – How can G-d forgive if he doesn’t change his mind? When a person repents / does Teshuvah for not having followed in the pleasant path of the Torah – he or she is changing themselves. Thus they are not the same person as they were before Teshuvah. Now Hashem takes this information into account and forgives them.
In Parasha Re’eh it says to destroy the altars of idol worshipers. It says don’t do the same to Hashem. The question: A Jew would never destroy a Sanctuary of Hashem – so what does that mean? it means not to Erase Hashem’s name.
Once David Hamelech – King David dug in the place of the future holy Temple. Water started flowing out, threatening to flood the world. David announced “anyone who knows how to stop the waters let him speak or be strangled. ” Achitofel, his rabbi, made a kal vachomer – a fortiori – if Hash-m’s name can be erased to make peace between man and wife – obviously it can be erased to same the world. King David threw a piece of earthenware with Hash-m’s name written upon it into the water and it subsided.
The question: David knew that one is allowed to do almost anything to save a life, why did he have to get a confirmation from Achitofel – who happened to be his Rabbi?
King David wanted to observe the law of not deciding a Jewish Law / Halacha before his Rabbi. Had he made that decision himself, he would have been transgressing that law.
The world was about to be flooded, why was he concerned at that moment to do that mitzvah? David had seconds to save the world? It is too teach us, that king David did not lose control. Even in the most trying situations he did not lose his control.
We, at times, in times of pressure succumb to the pressure and do things in haste because of the heat of the moment.
A Jewish king does not react. He acts. He is in control. One reason why the predecessor of King David lost his kingship was that he reacted to emotions. He lost control.
We as children of Hashem, Princes and Princesses, are also asked to remain in control.
Our Torah learning group were learning Hok Leyisrael – a Sefer / book that complies small daily portions of the Torah / H’umash (of that week’s Parasha / Torah Reading) , Neviim / Prophets, Ketuvim / writings, Mishna, Gemara, Zohar, Halacha and mussar / personal growth teachings into a book – so that one can learn a portion of each daily. I read that the Rabbi, Baba Sali recommended a man who came to him to learn it.
In the Torah portion we were learning- Ekev (first pasuk -verse of Sheni / 2nd Aliya) – Moshe / Moses tells the people ‘Guard yourself lest you forget Hashem (G-d of the Jews), Your G-d and you forget his laws…”.
The Bible Translators Mislead – which version of the Bible do you read – there is only one
I explained that unfortunately many people who read Translations of Torah (some call it the Bible) from the original Hebrew are mislead. The translators translate the Hebrew word for Hashem into “the Lord”. Hashem is the name of the G-d that the Jews worship – the same G-d that took the Jews out of Egypt – the same G-d of the Universe. “Hashem” is a personal noun. “The Lord” is a pronoun. By translating it this way, one is mislead to think that “the Lord” is any G-d that they follow. Readers thus attribute the actions of ‘the Lord” to the G-d of their liking – which is not necessarily true.
It’s like one who edits the sentence “Sir Isaak Newton revealed the laws of gravity.” to “The scientist revealed the laws of gravity.” In the first sentence you know who revealed the laws of gravity. The second – you can possibly insert any scientist of your liking.
One of the most accurate Translations I have found is the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash. It usually translates the Hebrew word for Hashem into Hashem.
So the verse above Moshe is telling the Jews not to forget the Laws of Hashem – the 613 commandments from the Torah.
The Evil Inclination’s / Yetzer Hara’s Tricks
How does one not forget Hashem’s laws? the Evil inclination – that voice inside you that injects negativity and bad thoughts into your mind – has two methods: Either by chipping away slowly at one’s morals or by attacking when a person is vulnerable- like when a person is angry or despondent. He doesn’t tell a person “Rob that bank. ” He first says to them “You can take a candy from the store (without permission) – and pay them back tomorrow.” He continues chipping away until he convinces the person to rob a bank.
But really you have control to agree or disagree with the Yetzer Hara. It is in your hands.
The fight against Self- Improvement
The yetzer hara doesn’t want you to become a better individual. He wants you to remain the same or get worse. He wants you to discard and deflect self-improvement efforts.
The Man’s Greatest Helpmate
The Torah uses the terminology for a wife as “a helpmate against him. ” One of her roles is to help her husband improve. If the husband does good (according to Torah) she helps him. If he does bad – she is against him. (Provided she has the proper Torah Hashkafa – outlook).
It is more of the woman’s job to help a man improve than vice versa. The Torah does not call the man – a helpmate against her. The wife is one who knows the husband best. She sometimes mirrors or or complains about his personal lacking. The man who wants to improve, will tune into her message of self-improvement to him and try to do something to better himself.
What do men sometimes do – they resist and fight back. If she is giving him his medication to better himself – why should he fight back. it makes more sense to accept the constructive criticism and build himself. If he fights – he is like the person who goes to the Doctor for medicine for weakness. When the doctor gives him the medicine he shouts at the doctor and says “why are you giving me this medicine- it is so bitter?!!” and he throws it out the window.
In Mishlei / Proverbs by Shelomo Hamelekh / king Solomon – the wisest of men – he says “A gentle reply turns away wrath but a galling word incites anger” (Mishlei/Proverbs 15:1). The wise will take their ques for self-improvement and improve. It takes two to fight. if one answers nicely – it will disarm the other’s anger and your own as well.
I was listening to a shiur / Lecture of Rabbi Meir Eliyahu (in Hebrew) on the subject of Improving Personal Character traits (הרב מאיר אליהו | תיקון המידות שלך | משכן יהודה – התשפ״ב) . He talked about a small pamphlet he picked up in Florida on Kiruv / to motivate a person to do teshuva. He said the pamphlet talked about Alice in Wonderland. I didn’t know the story. But apparently – Alice ate a mushroom. Then she fell asleep. When she woke up – she saw a cat. The cat asked her “Where do you want to go? – right or left.” She responded “I don’t know.” The cat then said to her “If you don’t know where you want to go – any path will get you there.”
That was the message – that if a person has no goal, or objective in life he or she will follow any path and apparently get to no where special. If a person has goals – it will help them to achieve in life.
The Torah provides many mitzvot (commandments) for Jews (613 commandments) and Non-Jews. (7 Noahaide Laws). These laws allow a person to achieve several things – a pleasant life – the ways of Torah are ways of pleasantness. A life of connection to oneself, to others and G-d. A life of meaning. A life that has purpose and where one achieves purpose. Rabbi Eliyahu mentions that in a Sefer / of the Vilna Gaon – he says that the purpose of life is to break one’s character traits. If a person is an angry person – G-d wants him or her to become a more calm person. If they are stingy – they are to work on becoming more generous.
My Rebbe used to say – a person’s mind should control his heart – not the other way around. The way of Torah is of Peace.
So now you know. Your goal – break those bad character traits. Assure peace in the Home. Try to act pleasant.
Rabbi Eliyahu said that one who yields to the will of others (in things not against Torah) will live longer. It makes logical sense – because he or she will let things slide, let it pass, not take it personally – and live a less stressful life. But also Has-m will grant the person a longer life. In the Zohar – Rav Krospedai died. He, a great scholar, told the heavenly court – he was cut off in the prime of his life, he had much more correcting to do. He wanted to come back in the same body. They granted him his wish. Why? Because he was Maavir al Midotav – he “passed over his character traits” – ie, he let things go. He held no grudges. He forgave and forgot.
Ok – so where is that enemy?
The Torah teaches us of our greatest enemy. It is an enemy that wants our destruction in this world and the next. He is the snake. He is that voice in your head – telling you “don’t take that from your spouse”, “answer them back”, “put them back in their place” and the such to create quarrel – not peace. We call it the “Yetzer HaRa'” / the evil inclination.
Everyone has one. The greater the person the greater the Yetzer. Before this entity was a physical snake. When Hava / Eve and Adam ate from the tree of Knowledge it became ingrained in her and him.
So now you have an enemy – the Yetzer HaRa. Your wife has the same enemy – the Yetzer HaRa’. Think of this – let’s say you had an acquaintance that was a family acquaintance. He or she would come to your house. When your wife would have a qualm – they would rile her up and add fuel to the fire. When you were upset – they would do the same to you to escalate the heated exchange to higher heights.
The smart person would not get angry at their spouse. They would kick that acquaintance out of the house. Your new option – don’t get back at your spouse – kick the Yetzer HaRa’ out of the house – your mind. He/She instigates – you cool things down. He tells you get angry – you think “If I answer her/him back – I will not have peace for 10 hours. (or more) I might as well swallow my pride and do something more productive with my time.”
Hash-m also gave us the Yetzer HaTov – Good inclination – telling you “calm down”, “be patient”, “this will also pass”, “say something to calm things down”, “create peace”.The idea is to listen to the Yetzer HaTov – not the Yetzer HaRa’.
Do it for a more peaceful existence. And Remember to learn Mussar – Jewish ethical works like Pirkei Avot – and your headed on the right path.