Be Happy for Punishment

One of the 13 Principles of Judaism is the belief of Reward and Punishment. G-d will greatly reward those that followed his laws and punish those that did not. Obviously G-d takes into account all the factors. G-d may punish in this world or the next.

Why should you be happy about that?

Apparently we all know more or less deep down what is right and wrong. Having this concept of reward and punishment allows us to live a meaningful life.

If everything that I do is “good” or doesn’t make a difference, I live a life without purpose. If what I do can be good or bad, my actions in this world make a difference. This fact gives me purpose in life.

Teshuva – Repentance.

Remember that even if one did bad in their life – transgressing the laws of the Torah – the bad can be erased through sincere Teshuva – repentance. If one does teshuva out of fear of punishment – his or her sins are erased. If one does teshuva because they feel that they love Hash-m and fell badly to have gone against His will – their past misdeeds become counted as mitzvahs (perhaps because they prompted him or her to do teshuva).

G-d is Magnanimous

G-d will forgive any sin a person has done if the penitent person is sincere in their teshuva. (for How to do teshuva – seee Starting Over – Wiping the Slate Clean). The four stages of teshuva are :

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

1
2

3

 

4
Cessation
Commitment

Regret

Confession

Stopping doing the misdeed
Firm resolve never to repeat the deed. One is forgiven if he or she is in the same situation & doesn’t commit the sin.
Sincere 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.
Verbal Admitting to G·d / Hash-m the wrong one did & asking for forgiveness. If one wronged another, ask forgiveness
Everyone Can Better Themselves. Forgive, Ask for Forgiveness & Be Happy.

(Rambam / Maimonides – Mishne Torah – Book of Knowledge – Laws of Repentance – Ch. 2 & 4 )

A very important point is not to fall to depression due to teshuva (or anything else for that matter). Some remorse to the extent that their remorse turns to depression. Once one has sincerely done teshuva – be happy. G-d – like a parent – wants His children to be happy. It says it in Tehillim / Psalms “Serve Hash-m / G-d with Happiness. Come before him with Joyful song.” Our general mood should be one of happiness. Be happy that you committed to improve. That’s something for which to be happy. The first step in solving a problem is recognizing the problem. Be happy you took the first step.

G-d can solve any problem

Don’t be sad about problems. Learn the lesson from the pain. Do teshuva. Improve. And be happy. G-d can solve any and all of your problems. No problem is too great for Him to provide respite and a solution. We just must turn to Hash-m with sincere prayer and teshuva. Make our small effort to overcome the problem and G-d will solve it

Precautions Against Failure & Positive Outlook

In Pirkei Avot(1:7) 

Nitai the Arbelite says: Distance yourself from a bad neighbor & do not become friendly with a wicked person & do not despair from retribution. (punishment)

If a person is suffering – it could be due to G-d sending them a message to improve or to compensate them for a past misdeed. So the obvious solution is to correct the misdeed. But also not to lose moral or despair from punishment. Repent, Correct, Go on and Be happy.

From Fear to Eternity

I was in the synagogue the other day. On the Bima – where the sefer Torah is placed when it is read – was a book entitled – “From Fear to Eternity – 10 steps to Achieving the Benefits of Being Jewish” by A. Lefkowitz. The title reminded me another reason for why punishment is good. We live in a temporal world. It is a temporary existence. No one gets out of here (the world) alive.But the afterlife is eternal. So if given a choice – it is better to live a challenging life here and a peaceful life in the next world – than vice versa.

Fear of Punishment in this world or the next world – allows us to prevent falling into a trap that may take away our prospect of living eternally. We are really a soul in a body. Once a person dies, the body is left behind and the soul continues to live. Thus fear of punishment allows us to inherit eternity by preventing us from transgressing the laws of the Torah.

The Reason why the Evil Prosper and the Righteous Suffer

An easy answer to the question of “What is the Reason why the Evil Prosper and the Righteous Suffer?” is because there are two worlds. This world on Earth and an after life. Punishment can be in this world or the next. Reward can be bestowed in this world or the next. A person who did great evil – like Hitler, Stalin, your average Terrorist -cannot be properly punished in this world. So G-d grants them a decent life here and punishes them in the next world. To us we see them live a decent, happy life. We do not see what goes on in the next world. So we think that the criminal got away Scott free. But they cannot escape the heavenly judgement. The punishment and reward is much greater in the next world.

On the positive side. We see righteous people suffer in this world – but we see not the great reward in heaven. So we think that he or she gained no reward from all their righteousness. But in the next world they will receive unimaginable reward. Thus we can accept why the evil prosper and the righteous suffer – by understanding this concept of reward and punishment in the next world.

How do I find out what G-d wants from Me?

G-d has a rule that is called measure for measure – Midah Keneged Midah. When a person does something bad – he is punished in the same way or in a manner related to his or her transgression. If one does good he is also rewarded similarly.

In the book “Living Emunah 3 (By Rabbi David Ashear) he relates a story of a woman who was unable to have children. She asked her rabbi – what to do. He told her to reinforce herself in Judaism. She decided to keep the Shabbat, Say Blessings on Food and I think say the morning Blessings. Shortly after she had a child. Some time later – an unusual thing happened when she was lighting the Shabbat candles. She attempted to light the two Shabbat candles- but only one would be kindled. Several weeks passed and every week the same thing happened. She confided her secret to her Rabbi. He asked – Is there something she is not careful about on Shabbat. She replied – we do Shabbat but we leave the TV on during Shabbat. He suggested to refrain from doing this. She committed to doing this and convinced her family. The next week she was able to kindle both candles.
(The story continues – see the book if you want to know the story’s end.)

Another explanation – of don’t despair from retribution – means that don’t despair that the evil will be punished. Those that do evil will be punished in this world or the next. Seeing a wicked person prosper is a test. Will we follow evil because we see the evil prosper? It is also to give people free will. If we see evil people suffering and righteous people prospering we will have no freedom of choice. Everyone will want to be righteous. G-d puts the choice of good and evil before us and it is up to us to choose good. Choose Life.

Keeping People in Line

Other reasons to be happy for punishment – because as it says in Pirke Avot (Chapter 3:2.) on the subject Civilization without Government:

Rabbi H’anania deputy of the Kohanim / Priests says: Pray for the peace of the government – for if there were not its fear, a man would swallow his fellow alive.

Many people don’t do evil because of fear of punishment. Thus we live in a better world because of it. It helps us ourselves to live a better life. Whenever bad is done by a person – that person will ultimately suffer – either through guilt, being put in prison, physical punishment. This punishment can be administered by man – the courts of law – or by heaven – by the courts above. Thus the fear of punishment is for the ultimate good of man.

Once my uncle was about to hit his young son for something he did. The son said “I already learned my lesson – there is no need to hit me.” If we learn our lesson there is no need for punishment.

Our parents punished us. We are better people for it.

Ways to Avoid Punishment – A Mitzvah is an Advocate

Obviously we would rather not incur punishment. The way to avoid it is to learn what the Torah expects from us and do it. I learned it the hard way – difficult times that came my way – prompted me to reflect on how to better my ways. But in Pirkei Avot it tells us clearly how to avoid punishment.

In Pirkei Avot (4:11 ) it says:

Rabbi Elie’zer ben Yaa’kov says: one who does one Mitzvah will acquire one advocate & one who transgresses one sin acquires one accuser. Repentance & good deeds are like a shield against punishment.

An extreme example of this is King Hordus / Herod . He killed 45 great Jewish sages. He asked Shimon ben Shetach – his brother in law – how he could avoid punishment. He said you extinguished the light of the world, to repent you must illuminate the light of the world by renovating the 2nd Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This is what he did.

Being Happy All the Time – letting go of grudges & Loving Your Fellow Jew

The Torah commands us to love our fellow Jew as ourselves. Based upon this the Chofetz Chaim in His Sefer / Book – Ahavat Yisrael mentions that bearing a grudge or hatred for a fellow Jew incurs punishment.

In Chapter 2 on Repercussions of Baseless Hatred & the Stringency of the Torah Regarding it – he writes:

And here will be explained why is this sin more grave than other sins.

1) For each sin it is unusual that a person will transgress upon it every single moment. [If a person is not unrestrained — G-d forbid]. However, this sin of baseless hatred a person transgresses every single moment when hatred is awakened in his heart. And at times, the hatred remains in him for a month or a year or more. And the transgressions of Torah Prohibitions from the Torah are multiplied without limit.

Being punished every single moment for gratuitous hatred is difficult. But apparently that is better than living a life of hatred. Knowing one will be punished for every single moment he hates a fellow Jew – motivates us to let go of our hatred. Letting go of our hatred makes us live a more peaceful and serene life.

But we can also look at the flip side of the coin. If we are punished for every single moment of hatred – it means that every single moment we have a choice to hate or to love. Our hatred of others isn’t a given. It is in our hands to let go of the hatred every single moment. It is in our hands to let go of sadness every single moment and live happy lives – every single moment.

 

Be Happy Now

In physics the law of momentum exists. If an object is moving it will continue to move.

In the world of emotions momentum does not exist. A person can be angry one moment and in the next in a state of joy.

We choose our reality. We choose what to get stuck on.

Someone did bad to me – so I have to have hate that person?

Children fight. In the next minute they are best friends. Babies cry, the next second they laugh.

Because someone angered me – it should not ruin my day. Move on.

A person chooses to be happy or sad on a rainy day. Look at the good and we’ll find reasons to rejoice.

This is applicable in many a situation. The person who is angry at G-d for whatever reason – the Holocaust, a past suffering, that a religious Jew did something against them – is not acting rationally. Why should G-d be blamed?

If once my company’s boss reprimanded me – should I never work again for that company or any other company. No.

Those who do blame G-d or others for their miseries – found a convenient excuse -that does not hold water. And is not worthy of their cutting off relations with G-d. It is a ploy of the evil inclination. For we focus our vision only on the limited pain we experienced and forget the infinite good we experience every moment.

In the end one will see all the things that we thought that were bad were ultimately for our benefit. We will see the mountains and mountains of good that G-d provided for us all these years and we may have been stuck on a small detail that someone hurt my feelings.

Look at the good – not the bad.

Be happy now. It’s your choice.

Selective Forgetting – Overcoming Difficulties of Your Past

I had a nice childhood. I remember spending summers in Silver Spring, Maryland with my cousins. We went to a camp called Candy Cane City. It was fun.

I was a kid in the mid-70’s. People sported fros and big owl glasses, bell-bottoms and those gaudy suits and ties. I remember taking my cousin’s bike – going on a bike adventure by myself in the streets of Washington, DC. My cousin and I would take long Shabbat walks and for some reason we would end up in a public parking lot – where we could see a nice view of the area. I remember the Evil Knievel Toy Motorcycle and those Cars that you’d pull the belt that would spin the car-wheel and letting it jump over my makeshift ramps – watching them fly.

But like all – I also had my share of difficulties. I can’t say that my challenges were as great as other people’s but I did have times of Joy and times of suffering.

I don’t know if my fun childhood – made it more difficult to cope with my more difficult teenage years. I had great teen years – but I was introduced to this concept I knew little of – called suffering.

Positive Suffering

In a sense suffering is painful. But it is also can be seen in the positive. It cleanses the imperfections in one’s comportment and one’s blemishes in their soul. I became more introspective. My suffering made me I realize that hurting others to make the class laugh was wrong. I learned of other comportments to change & character traits and deeds I had to improve. I resolved to become a better person. Anybody can start over and wipe the slate clean.

Looking back, I took the life lessons – to do good and not hurt others – but I left the pain behind.

Some people take the pain with them and forget the lessons.

Others take both.

Suffering & Closeness to G-d

Suffering makes it easier to become closer to Hash-m. We cry out sincerely to Him when in the depths. When everything is going well – have money, children, nice apartment and car – unfortunately many forget G-d. And then to those he loves – he may send a wakeup call. Some want pain to help motivate themselves to become Closer to G-d and to do Mitzvot. King David wanted suffering to help him feel closer to G-d. A high level – not for everyone.

Looking at the Past and Future – Kosher

Rabbi Yosef Sitruk, z”l – former French Chief Rabbi – said that The signs of a Kosher animal represent two ways of looking at the world. Two kosher signs for an animal is that it chews its cud and has split hooves. Chewing Cud – represents bringing back past. Jews from middle-eastern countries – Sephardim – usually would say how the past were the “good old days” and bring them up again and again. He used the term Yahsra – loosely translated as “what a difference between then and now – accompanied by a melancholy feeling of the glorious past that is gone.”

He said that the split hooves – represent an attitude of always trying to innovate and go ahead. He compared that attitude to the Jews from occidental countries – the Ashkenazim – that rely more on innovations in teaching, psychology, technology, etc.

So chewing old memories could be good. Provided you remember the good. But dwelling on past pain can be counterproductive if it stifles you or stops you from being productive or it causes you depression. Let it go.

Let it go.

You have to move on in life.

Reasons why G-d Sends Suffering

G-d sometimes sends difficulties for a person to overcome and become a stronger better individual. He sends difficulties so a person will become closer to Him. Like a parent who withholds allowance from a child who’s living away from home – in order that the child call his parents sometimes.

G-d only does Good – finding the reason for your Suffering

If G-d does only good – how can I understand my suffering? Apparently if you think hard enough or think of past difficulties – you can find a lesson to learn. Perhaps something you gained, something you improved. A worse situation that you avoided by encountering difficulty. Be creative. Perhaps you became more spiritual, closer to G-d? Thousand of reasons. Choose one that fits you best.

Choose Your Memories

You choose which memories to bring to the forefront. It could be you enjoying life or you in pain. You choose. You choose what to think about. You choose what to dwell upon.

When I just got married an uncle of my wife said – remember this period of the first year – where everything is special. Put it in a bottle. When you encounter difficulties – open the bottle and draw from it.

In Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers two Mishnayot talk about a person forgetting – one about forgetting sin and one about forgetting his Torah learning. It says:

Torah Study & Toil to Forget Sin
Rabban Gamliel son of Rabbi son of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi says: – “Great is the study of Torah with Derekh Eretz [lit. “the way of the world” either – with livelihood or with proper conduct] – for with the toil in both [temptation to] sin is forgotten. And all Torah that is without Derekh Eretz – in the end it will be nullified & causes sin. And whoever toils with the community, let them toil with them for the sake of Heaven – for the merit of their fathers helps them – & their righteousness will stand forever. And you [who toil with the community] I will consider it as if you yourself achieved it. (Avot 2:2)

Forgetting Torah

Rabbi Dostai, son of Rabbi Yannai in the name of Rabbi Meir, says: Whoever forgets one thing from his [Torah] learning – Scripture, considers as if he is liable for his life. As it says: “Rather guard yourself & guard your soul very well lest you forget the things that your eyes saw.” (Devarim/ Deut. 4:9) One might think that this even applies if his studies were too difficult. The Torah [thus] teaches “Lest you remove it from your hearts” (ibid) – behold he is not liable for his life until it [the learning] settles within him & then he removes it from his heart. [intentionally] (Avot 3:8)

Putting the Subject matter of the Mishna’s aside – we learn two things about forgetting – One – that one can forget sin by being involved in Torah, community and work. Forgetting pain can also be forgotten such. Occupy yourself with the positive. With Mitzvot. Note the that both mentioned  – Torah Study and Working are Mitzvot / Commandments from Torah. Learning Torah is a Mitzvah (Jews learn Torah, Gentiles Learn about Noahide Laws). Working is a Mitzvah – the Mitzvah of Settling the world. By occupying yourself with both you forget your sins – but you also forget your pain.

Temporary vs. Long Term Relief from Suffering 

Apparently these are the best things a person can use to forget. Once a person said he got over depression by watching comedies. I tried. It didn’t work.

A Cause of Suffering

Apparently – one source of depression comes from the soul. You are really your soul. It is possible that depression is linked to the fact that a person is not producing Mitzvot. Thus the soul is depressed.

When I was depressed, I used to do the same. Watch comedies. For me – it was like “Chinese Food” – you eat it, but right after you are hungry. I would watch to pass time but right after I still felt depressed.

Learning Enlightens the Soul

Learning Torah enlightens the soul. So the soul’s sadness is lifted. It is a Mitzvah to serve Hashem with happiness – so sadness is also a domain of the Yetzer HaRah / the evil inclination. He does not want you to be happy. His job is to keep you down so that you don’t produce Mitzvot, do kindness. He provides for you a negative attitude that makes you unproductive of Mitzvot. That is his job. Your job is to bear away from His suggestions. To choose not to become depressed. To speak it out with friends or family to resolve your difficulties – so you can become productive in achieving your potential for doing good.

Happiness – through torah – may not come overnight – it takes time of consistent work – little strides. Step by step. Slow and steady wins the race.

Choose Happiness

You choose – to be happy. You choose to seek help to get out of depression. Your only Job is to say “G-d please help me to get out of this difficult situation of …..(fill in the blank)” Make an effort to get out of it. And choose the help once it comes.

You choose to banish that thought of “I am a nothing” and replace it with “I am a special person. No one in the world is like me.” (see the “You are special card”). Think “I have great potential.” Think “People love me!” Think “G-d loves me.” instead of all those other negative thoughts racing through your mind.

Be strict – and don’t let bad thoughts come in. If they do say “Stop!” You’re not always in control of the thoughts that enter your mind – but you choose to dwell upon them. So stop the bad thoughts and replace them will positive thoughts.

Choose to Be Helped

A person must choose to be helped. There is a Joke.

Once a person was received a flood warning text. He said “G-d will help me.” He stayed in his home. The flood waters reached his street. The police came – “Do you want a ride away from the danger zone.” He replied – “G-d will help me.” The flood waters got higher. Then – a boat passed by – they asked “Do you want a ride away from the danger zone.” He replied – “G-d will help me.” The waters went higher. A helicopter came – “Do you want a ride away from the danger zone.” He replied – “G-d will help me.”

Ultimately – he drowned. He came before G-d and asked – “G-d why didn’t you save me?” G-d replied “I sent you a car, a boat and a helicopter – what more did you want?”

We choose to seek help. We choose what to dwell upon. We choose our attitude. We choose to pray to Hash-m for help. We choose to be helped when help arrives.

The Second mishna teaches us about intentional and unintentional forgetting. How does one intentionally forget. Apparently one can choose to forget. When the subject matter comes up in their mind – they push it aside with other thoughts – intentionally. This intentional forgetting can be used for the good – forgetting sad events in your life.

Forgetting – a Gift from G-d

It says that forgetting is a gift from G-d. If one would remember so perfectly – that the memories of difficulties would be clear in his mind – his or her life would be much more difficult to bear. After one year a person forgets partially the passing of a dear one. After seven years a person – feels as if the person wasn’t here. Another kindness of Hash-m to help you better cope and get on in life.

 What you think is what you are. Think negative – you’ll be negative. Think positive – you’ll be positive. It’s in your hands to choose.

Think Kindness

Even better is to think of doing kindness with others. You become a kinder person. A Jew who thinks of doing a Mitzvah with others – gets that mitzvah. You think you want to feed every single worthy person in the world, you will be attributed that Mitzvah. You think you want to teach Torah to everyone – you get that Mitzvah. You think to do a Mitzvah and was unable to do it – you get that Mitzvah.

Reasons Not to Think of Doing Bad to Others

A motivation to not think about doing badly to others – is that some people – when they think of doing evil to others – even though they do not do it in the end – the evil they wanted to do are attributed to them as if they actually did it.

We say in the Hagadah of Pesach – “An Aramean (Lavan – the father of Rachel & Leah – who were married to Yaakov / Jacob) destroyed my Father (Yaakov) and we went down to Egypt.” Lavan did not kill Yaakov. He thought seriously about doing it. But he didn’t kill him. But it was attributed to him that he did kill Yaakov – meaning it will be on his record – when he gets to heaven that he actually killed.

Forget the Bad – Forget the Hate – Forget the Grudges

In Torah – we do not hold a grudge. If someone did bad to you – confront them and tell to explain their bad comportment. Let them ask forgiveness or you ask and the story is over.

Ask yourself – this grudge that you’ve been holding against a brother, parent, child – worth it? Did you gain anything from it all these years. Holding a grudge can fall into the category of sinat hinam – gratuitous hatred – also a transgression of veAhavta Le’reacha – you shall love your fellow Jew.

Putting all that aside – was the bad blood worth it all these years?

Forgive – forget – get over it. Obviously, you don’t have to put yourself into a situation in which they would take advantage of you again or bring them to a Beit Din / Jewish court of law to settle the financial affairs – but one is not related to the other. If you are too shy to approach your family member or friend and you want to make peace – You can ask a competent Orthodox rabbi to be an intermediary to approach the person.

Speak No Evil

The secret to happiness is to choose what you think about. It’s possible this is one of the reasons of the many laws against speaking Lashon HaRa’ – Evil Speech – speaking badly of others regardless of it being true or not. You speak badly – you think negatively. You cause others to think negatively. We are to control our thoughts, speech and actions. Speech and actions start from thought. If you nip the problem in the bud – you resolve many difficulties. Don’t think negatively – you won’t speak negatively and you won’t do the negative.

Also this will Pass

A manic-depressive asked King Solomon for a cure to his concern. At times he was ecstatic. At times he was depressed. He gave him a ring that said – “Also this will pass.” He was cured. When he was sad – he thought – “also this will pass” and he would cheer up. When he was ecstatic – he would think – “also this will pass” –  and he would calm down.

Your happiness is dependent upon you thoughts.

Think positive!

Renewing Yourself Monthly

In Parasha haHodesh (Shemot /Exodus 12:1-20) that we read this week – we find “This shall be head of month…”. Hodesh is month in Hebrew.  It can also be read Hadash – NEW.

Every month we have a chance to Renew ourselves and  our commitment to Hashem and mitzvot.  Each month [& day] G.d gives us a new opportunity for self improvement. Thus some do Yom Kippur Katan / Mini-Yom Kippur Erev Rosh Hodesh / Beginning of Hebrew Month.

Using Happiness to Eclipse Problems

A person has much to be thankful for. Regardless of what situation a person is in – and I am not judging those in pain – one can find at least one thing for which to be thankful – that they are alive. We create the reality that we are living by our attitude.

You have a “Poor Me” attitude – you will be sad. You have a “Thank G-d” attitude, you will be happy.

But some things annoy us in life. We all pass difficulties. I recently received a ticket. Yes, upsetting. But deep down I knew G-d had a reason. A reason for my best interest. So I felt a bit consoled.

Here is story I heard recently from the book “Living Emunah 2” – By Rabbi David Ashear. (p 168-170)

Once a person took upon himself a stringency to be careful not to sit next to a person of the opposite gender in a plane – to avoid temptation and bad thoughts. He got on to the airport early – to assure that the ticketing agent would book him next to a man. On the plane he realized that his seat was next to a woman.

He asked the stewardess if he could change his seat. She didn’t want to bother – so she told him “I am sorry that is impossible. If you do not stay in your seat, you will have to leave the plane and your baggages will not be removed from this plane and you will have to purchase another ticket.”

He responded calmly – “Ok. I guess I’ll get off the plane.” A bystander got up and said – “This person will not leave the plane! If he gets off I will get off! And I will take my baggages with me. I will make you go through all the baggages to get my baggages off the plane! You will be delayed until you find them!” The stewardess backed down from her “Don’t bother me” attitude. It took her a couple minutes to arrange seating that would accommodate the man.

After the flight the Jewish man went over to the other man. “I want to thank you for standing up for me. I Appreciate your effort.” The man responded “No problem. Really, I didn’t do it for you. I did it for me.”

He told him the following story –

 

“I have a friend. He was driving a Jewish passenger in his relatively new Taxi cab – he was an observant Jew. The car stalled and he wasn’t able to restart it. He assured the passenger that he’d be able to get him to the airport on time. He started tinkering with engine – He thought it was a minor problem. Finally when he realized time was short, he flagged down another cab for the passenger and they both got into the cab to London Heathrow Airport. They rushed to the gate. My friend pleaded with the gate attendants to let him on. They declined “Sorry – too late.”

He booked another flight and the cabbie went back to his cab. Surprisingly the taxi started immediately upon ignition. A few hours later they heard the news that the flight he was to take – exploded and all the passengers were killed. This was Pan Am flight 103, which was blown up over Lockerbie, England by a terrorist attack.

“From that story I realized that your G-d protects His people.” The man said. “So when I saw you boarding this flight I felt good, knowing everything would be Okay. But when I saw you were getting off, I got very scared and decided if you are leaving, I’m leaving too.”

A parent sometimes scolds a child. Sometimes he may even hit him. But the child understands that it is for the good – and although the scolding may hurt he understands that it is for his best interest.

When one’s child walks into the room – he can think “ok. what does he want now.” or “wow how great is G-d for giving me a child.” When he walks into his house he can think “I hope dinner is ready.” or “Wow. What a blessing G-d has given me such a house.” When he walks to the subway he can think “It’s so cold out” or “Wow. G-d is kind for giving me the ability to walk.”

If we were to look at all the blessings we have at the time we are annoyed or upset, we would let it slide. Our happiness would eclipse our sadness. Our happiness would eclipse our difficulties – especially knowing that G-d is a good G-d that will do the best for you.

Keep Smiling! You’re Alive!

Time to Get Over It – Becoming Better not Bitter.

People live lives based upon an occurrence that happened to them.

Yes, we should surely learn from experience. Yes – everything happens for the good. Yes G-d had some positive reason for it to happen.

If this experience helped to become a better person fine.

If it helped him to become a bitter person – then they lost the message of G-d.

G-d wants his children to be happy. Some people have propelled themselves to heights through overcoming difficulty. Athletes. Business people. Musicians. Artists. Inventors. Scientists. People from all walks of life.

Other have become the complainers. The deniers of G-d. The haters. The abusers. The bullies. The hermits. The self-pity-ers. The naysayers and those with the negative attitudes towards life. They blog about the negativity of the world. They cast negative stereotypes on others – who are similar to those that made them suffer.

Suffering is a two edge sword. Some take it as a reason to look at the world with negative lenses. Some take it to cut the cake and eat it. Like it says – the pessimist sees the glass half-empty. The optimist drinks it.

You chose your attitude. “He made me sad” is not a reason – it is an excuse. You may not control what happens. But You control your attitude. And you can choose to be happy or bitter. It is in your hands.

Obviously each should seek help from others. Each should work on their self esteem. Each should take the time to learn from the suffering – to overcome it. To learn what good came out of it. And to look at the good in everything G-d sends.

That is the goal of suffering – to become better not bitter.

= = =

Recently  Got a Text:

If: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z  is equal to: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Then,

H+A+R+D+W+O+R+K* =8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

K+N+O+W+L+E+D+G+E=11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 *=96%

L+U+C+K  =12+21+3+11 = 47%

None of them makes 100%.* *Then what makes 100%?

Is it Money?

NO!

M+O+N+E+Y= 13+15+14+5+25 =72%

Leadership? NO!

L+E+A+D+E+R+S+H+I+P=12+5+1+4+5+18+19+8+9+16 =97%

Every problem has a solution, only if we perhaps change our “ATTITUDE”…

A+T+T+I+T+U+D+E ;* 1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

It is therefore OUR ATTITUDE towards Life and Work that makes OUR Life 100% Successful.

Amazing mathematics

Choose Life! Choose Your Manner of Uplifting or Downfall

G-d knows all. G-d runs the world Middah Keneged Middah. Meaning measure for measure. Do good – get good. Do bad – and get bad from the same source.

Thus –

It’s good to be good.

It’s bad to be bad.

Not only does a good person live a happier, more peaceful life but they do not cause their own downfall.

The detriment of sin worse than punishment – the loss of potential

In a philosophical discussion with my cousin, he asked “If you could do any sin – and not be held accountable – what would you do?” I thought about it a moment and answered “Probably nothing.” Why? There are several negative aspects of sin – One is one does bad to another or to society. Another is the punishment. But another is the bad done to oneself. If I were to chase after women, I would waste my life. Not establishing a family, not bringing up children with proper Torah values, not contributing to the building of society is not worth the temporary pleasure of transgression.”

In Torah it says – “A person only sins if a spirit of folly enters him.” Why? Because if one put serious thought before sin they would never sin. It would never make sense. The loss would always be more than the gain. Take a person who steals. His gain – the value of object stolen. The loss – the pain to the person he stole from. The fear that the police will take them to jail. If caught – the time spent in court, the time spent in jail. The loss of freedom.

Honesty is the best policy.

Punishment – from sin itself

The wicked Haman, in the Purim story – built a gallows that was 50 amot / 100 feet high – to hang  Mordechai, the Jew. What happened. Mordechai was saved. And Haman was hung with his 10 sons on the gallows he made.

In the same story – Esther, risked her life to talk with the king to save the Jewish people. Her life was also saved because Haman’s plans were foiled.

A person was depressed. they decided to focus on doing kindness with others. eventually, their care and efforts for others propelled them out of depression to a meaningful existence.

A man who had trouble marrying off his daughter – pledged to finance the wedding of a poor couple. The couple, grateful to the man, knew someone that was a fine candidate for his daughter. They eventually got married.

Do good and receive good.

G-d says – I have placed before you good and evil – life and death. Choose life.

Our job in this world is to Choose Life!

Uplifting the Five Souls or Finding Music to Gladden the Heart


Music in Judiasm
David HaMelekh / the King had a Kinnor / Harp. He would play it and the midnight wind that blew through the strings would awaken him. He used it to reach a higher state of Joy to learn Torah.

Music is an essential part of Judaism. We sing or chant many of the prayers in the daily prayer services.

The Usual Mood of a Person

Usually – we are to be in a state of happiness. Prayer and serving G-d with happiness is a way to reach high spiritual heights. The Ariz”l reached his heights due to his serving G-d with happiness.

Music can lift a person to higher spiritual heights and can help them shirk off sadness. Music can en-wrap a person and change his mood. The Levite musicians, outside the Beit Hamikdash, were able to look at a person and play the precise melody to improve his mood.

Moroccan Jewish Prayer is known for its beautiful melodies, cantillations and Torah reading. Some say the Melodies in Moroccan prayer are from the melodies played by the Levites at the Time the Beit Hamikdash / Holy Temple.

Using Music to Improve Mood

Jewish kings would ask their court musicians to play for them music to allow them to reach the level of happiness needed to reach higher spiritual heights.

Yaakov Avinu / Jacob Our Forefather heard his granddaughter, Serach Bat Asher / the daughter of Asher to singing to him a song that “Joseph is Alive.” He was rejoiced. He blessed her to live forever. She did live many years afterwards. (She was alive at the Time of Moses – hundreds of years later).

I believe his Ruach HaKodesh / Spiritual Holiness – returned to him when he heard this song. For 22 years he lacked this state of holiness because he was saddened when he heard that his son Yosef was attacked by an animal and was missing. Music brought him back to a higher level of happiness that he lost.

I read once a person who was down started listening to comedies and comedians. He got as many as he could. He listened. He laughed in bed for days. He kicked his sadness away.

Good for him. If it works for you – good too.

Being Attuned to Music – What mood it Evokes

Some music brings you up. Some Down. One can recognize what mood it evokes. Some music is made to evoke happiness. or Sadness. Desire. or Melancholy.

Ask yourself, what mood does this music evoke for me?

Then choose the one that makes you happy.

Music & the Soul – When Music Just Doesn’t Do it for You

Yet some try comedy. Some try music. Some try amusement parks.

But they still say – “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”

Why?

Apparently a person is composed of several souls. One is an earthly Soul – that craves physical satisfaction to assure the health of the body. A more lofty soul exists as well that craves the spiritual. To uplift the soul – one chooses music that lifts up the spiritual soul – rather than engaging the physical soul.

The Five Souls

There are five souls – Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Haya Yeh’ida.

Some people have more souls than others. I guess the more spiritual one becomes – the more souls they acquire.

Spirituality – we define as the process of becoming closeness to G-d through Torah guidance.

Different kinds of music will evoke different feelings. Music can uplift a person spiritually. And music can evoke other negative spiritual outcomes.

I remember I used to listen to certain rock music. When I reflect upon the music I listened to I find that it evokes for me feelings of melancholy. Not only for the memories of the my youth past. But in the music itself I feel melancholy.

When I go to a Jewish Wedding the music is uplifting. Apparently some music provides spiritual happiness and some provides impurity. The spiritually uplifting one will bring a person up. The other music will do the opposite – it might bring negativity, or desire or sadness into the person. Thus being selective about music can change a person’s mood.

Contemporary Jewish Music usually brings one up. Apparently one should be concerned about the spirituality of the singer.

Years ago a Jewish singer that was following Torah. He continued singing Jewish songs, but went off the Torah path. A well-known great rabbi said that one should avoid his music being used in the prayers from the period he left the proper path.

When Music Doesn’t Work

At times a person is depressed. They feel life is caving in on them. They feel like they can turn to no one. Unfortunately, many feel that way – but if one were to make a small inquiry one would find that many avenues exist of people more than willing to help you. (you can always contact us – friend@jerusalemlife.com. And remember to carry the “You are Special Card.” 🙂 )

So people try the clubs. They try the bars. Music. Comedy. Sitcoms. Classical. Rock. Nothing. Nothing. Emptiness remains. I talk from experience.

What now?

Apparently you have to define where the sadness is coming from. Is it a deep sadness due to the fact one feels no purpose? Is it a sadness that one has no job? Is it sadness due to not being married? Is it sadness due to not having children?

Apparently all stem from – the spirituality soul. A person doesn’t usually become depressed because he has no candy to eat. Maybe annoyed. Depressed, not really.

If a person is abused. Or insulted. Or beaten. This requires immediate consultation with close family members or friends on what is the best path. Or speak with a reputable social worker that preferably has daat Torah / Torah knowledge.

Prayer to Hash-m / G-d helps in all cases.

You might need a friend. A good friend. A very good friend that will hear with patience your concerns. Who will not misjudge you.

The Spiritual Health

A definite connection exists between psychology & attitude of a person and their mental & even physical health.

But after all is said and done aside from physical & mental health – a person’s own spiritual health has a bearing on their happiness.

One’s spirituality has an effect on their happiness and state of mind.

The more spiritual – one becomes – the more one relies on the Creator. One puts their burdens on Him – rather than keeping everything on their heart and on their back. Our G-d / Hash-m is a kind Creator. He is our Father that wants the best for us.

The closer to Hash-m / G-d one feels – the close one is to spiritual satisfaction.

If you are spiritually satisfied – that will have an effect on mental and physical well-being.

So what is a good place to start – if you are far from the spiritual?

Becoming Close to Spiritual

First believe in yourself. Know what you are an important person in the world and important in G-d’s eyes. Know that G-d loves you and wants your best. Know that challenges and problems are here not to break you but to guide you to the proper path.

Three Steps for Relieving Depression – Knowing the Good in You, Seeing Good in Life and Becoming Closer with Hash-m / G-d

Write down all your good points. Brainstorm. Don’t criticize any idea. Just keep writing all your good qualities. Continue. Now Take another sheet of paper. Or keep typing. Now write all of the good things you have in life. Print and post in front of you. Write all the people who you love. Write the people who love you. Call to Talk to some of them.

Now write very precisely and concisely write your greatest problem on a piece of paper. Now write the 5 main causes in five separate columns. Now under each cause brainstorm for solutions. Do not evaluate. Just keep writing – solutions. Solutions. Solutions. Then take that paper and discuss it with others and implement the solutions daily.

Overcoming problems takes patience and prayer to Hash-m. Simple overnight solutions may not always be available. But commitment to a long term solution will usually relieve the problem. If not more prayer, consultation with people, effort for physical solution and spiritual solutions will usually help.

Listen to Torah Lectures. Change slowly. Take one step at a time into Jewish spirituality. Commit to one small Mitzvah and when ready take another.

Learn Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers with an Orthodox Rabbi – or listen Torah Lectures on audio. Listen to Jewish Music.

Take one step at a time. Be in touch with a caring, reputable Orthodox Rabbi. Speak with friends & family. Grow. Be Positive. Get Help. Talk it out. Share your burden with Hash-m and others. You’ll overcome it.

Sometimes problems are like growing pains. They are there – to help you grow into the best person you can be. But have a friend or a mentor to help you on your path to growth.

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Sometimes a person has a physical problem linked to the spiritual. Each member of the body corresponds to a Mitzvah. I heard from a lecture of R. Yeshayahu Pinto (Parasha Vayigash) that the eyes, correspond to the Mitzvah of Honoring Parents (A person has 2 – Eyes and 2 Parents). If a person was having eye trouble – aside from visiting the ophthalmologist – it might be good to improve their deeds towards their parents. I also heard shoulder pain being linked to interruption between Mayim Acharonim / washing Fingertips after a bread meal and the Birkat Hamazon / Grace After Meals. The reason – תכף לנטילת ידים ברכה Tekef LeNetilat Yadaim Beracha & Ketef – Shoulder.

Take Hannukah Lights with You – Put Light into Your Life

I Love Hannukah. I wish the candles would remain lit the whole year.

The Lit Menorah

I heard in a Shiur / Lecture of Rabbi Akiva Tatz on Channukah, that when H’izkiyahu hamelech / the King knew that our enemies were going to destroy the Temple, he hid the Menorah and other utensils of the Beit Hamikdash / Holy Temple for the time of Mashiach / Messiah. He said that the Candles of the Menorah remain lit till Today.

For me it’s always Hannukah. my name is the same as that of the Cohen Gadol / the Chief Cohen – Matatia – that started the rebellion against the Greeks. So I have Hannukah with me all year round.

The Year Hannukah Menorah Candle

I usually use a lot of olive oil – allowing the candles of Channukah to remain lit for hours. I figured out about 1.5 ounces of olive oil burns with a small wick for about 12 hours. So 3 ounces would last one day. Multiply that by 365 or 360 (for Hebrew Year) and you get about 1095 ounces. One Gallon is 128 Ounces. That Comes to about 8.55 Gallons. I am considering getting a 10 gallon fish-tank for next year to let at least one Hanukah light burn the whole year. (If “the boss” lets.). Even better, would be to get 9 tanks (One for each Menorah Branch). But I guess its better to start small.

That’s one way for you to keep the light of Hannukah with you.

Hannukah Lights Light the Soul

Rabbi Reuven Elbaz said a Jewish Law – “What can’t be lit with Shabbat – can be lit on Hannukah.”

It means certain types candles that cannot be used on Shabbat – can be used on Hannukah.

But it has a deeper meaning that a soul – searching for spirituality – that cannot be inspired by the Shabbat or other holidays, can be lit up by Hannukah.

Why?

Because the lights of Hannukah have a certain Kedusha / Holiness that emanates from the candles of the Beit Hamikdash. Just looking at them one gains holiness. (see segulas)

Holiness brings Happiness

Spirituality is closeness with G-d. G-d gave us the path to spirituality through Torah. Holiness is acting in the ways of G-d. Holiness allows us to be connected with Him. Holiness is Light. Holiness is Happiness. Anyone can do it.

We learn:

Ner Mitzvah ve Torah Ohr./ A Mitzvah is a candle and Torah is Light.

Ner Hash-m Nishmat Adam. / A candle of G-d is the Soul of man.

One Candle can light another candle. The Candle of a Mitzvah can ignite the soul of man.

Holiness of Hannukah candles can ignite the candle or soul of man.

A person feels greater happiness on Hannukah – because holiness brings happiness.

So what can you take with you?

A Mitzvah.

A dark room can be illuminated by one small candle.

A Mitzvah will help to ignite a dark soul.

Doing one Mitzvah brings light to the soul.

A person can choose a small one. But better something regular. Saying Morning Blessings. Saying Shema Yisrael Before sleeping or upon awaking. Say the Blessings on food. Or the Blessing of Good Health – Asher Yatzar. (all cards are available free by emailing info@jerusalemlife.com or through freebies / store page).

Learning Torah brings light to soul.

This allows a person to take light with them throughout the year.

Share Your Joy. Share your Mitzvah with others.

Dear Friend or Dead-End

Be nice with everybody.

Do kindness with as many people as you can.

But choose your friends.

Have as many as you can.

Make sure they bring you up not bring you down.

I was looking at the dead-end sign today. I noticed something interesting. If you add an upside down “V” to the bottom of the last “D” of the word “DEAD” – you get the word DEAR. And if you add the letters “FRI” to the word “END” you get the word “FRIEND”.

Interesting?

The Weekend Friend

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that “FRI” are added to the word “END”. Because sometimes you a friend who’s just a friend on the weekend. Meaning to have a good time. But when you need them you cannot find them.

Just a thought. But I do know people like that.

A Real Friend

Once two drunkards were lying in the gutter. One asked the other “Do you love me?!” The other replied “Of course I love you!”

He responded “If you love me, tell me what I’m lacking!”

A friend is here more than just to have a good time together. A good friend will help you to make yourself greater.

He will tell you the truth so that you will improve. Obviously in a tactful way. But nevertheless, a good friend will be there to help you be the best that you can be.

Good Friends Make Good Spouses

Our best friend is supposed to be our spouse.

One of a woman’s roles, in Judaism, is to help her husband become the best that he can be. That’s what we call her in Hebrew “a help mate against him”  –”Ezer Kenegdo”. A helpmate – when he is doing the right thing. And against him – when he’s not.

That is the definition of a good friend.

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed

A good friend is one which one can learn Torah together with Him or her. A good friend is there to give you advice or just and ear to listen or a shoulder to cry upon or a hug when it’s needed. A good friend will answer your calls, even if he’s busy or not in the mood.

If your friend is dragging you into doing bad – obviously that is not a friend. Maybe an accomplice – but a friend, not.

Friends in the Torah

Avraham, our Forefather, had three friends – Aner, Eshkol & Mamre. Each one gave him advice regarding whether he should do circumcision at his age of 100. Yehuda had friends that he could confide his deepest secrets – like the incident of Tamar.

One can confide secrets and ask for advice from good friends. I had a question recently. I asked a rabbi for Daat Torah – what is the Torah’s perspective. The question had nothing to do with Torah Observance. The answer I received was different than I thought was good. I changed my decision based upon my consulting the Rabbi.

Family or Friend Priorities

One should not have too many friends over one’s house. Apparently because our main focus for Spiritual Growth and doing kindness is ourselves and our family.

In Tzefat / Safed in Israel, there was a period where there was tremendously great rabbis living in one epoch. The Ari z”l – the Kabbalist, Rabbi Yosef Caro, The Alshich, HaKadosh. They made groups – that some still emulate today – whose purpose was to learn Torah Mussar / Ethics together help to each member of the group improve.

If you see a friend is bringing you down doesn’t mean you you have to be cold to them. You can be warm – but it’s prudent to limit your involvement with them.

And involve yourself with positive people. This is one of the reasons why the Torah states – let the Torah scholars part of your household – because they will bring you up. You and your family.

At times a spouse also must be pushed away. If they are bringing the other spouse down in Torah and Mitzvot, a competent Rabbi must be consulted to determine whether the relationship should continue.

A spouse can improve. But if there’s no hope for improvement, a competent Orthodox rabbi should be consulted.

If a Jewish person married a non-Jew, the non-Jew has the opportunity to convert to Judaism with an Orthodox rabbi. Because if one is Jewish and the other is not they are on two different wavelengths.

A Jew is to observe the 613 commandments from the Torah. A non-Jew only required to follow the Seven Noahide laws for all humanity from the Torah. So it behooves the couple for the non-Jewish partner to convert to Judaism if they are already married. Otherwise, each member cannot really reach their potential. Because one is observing one set of laws from Torah and the other is observing the other set of laws from Torah. They live in two different worlds.

Our job in this world is to become as great as we possibly can be. The Torah teaches us how.

Real Success

Success is not measured based upon your bank account. Success is measured by how much you have in your “kindness account”. And how well one is performing serving God the way he wants us to serve – ie, in Torah and Mitzvot.

A simple way to prove that a person’s bank account is not correlated with his personal potential that he or she has achieved – is to look at many of the rich. Many have big bank accounts, but not necessarily the best character traits. A person that is kind is more successful in the eyes of most than a person who is rich yet beats his wife.

This is obvious.

Our goal in life is to become best we can be in terms of being a good person. Surrounding us ourselves with friends, family and Torah scholars that will bring us up – is one way to make the path easier and to improve your chance of success.