What Kind of the 5 Seekers Are You? Truth, Goodness, Pleasure, Relationship or Spirituality. And What Gets You There?

Man is called a Go-er / Mehalekh in Hebrew.

Apparently a person wants to achieve something in this world. He does not want to stay idle. A person works, plays sports, creates & learn.

This is the world for doing. In the next world it is a world to receive reward for our deeds we accomplished in this world.

Thus we seek. We seek perfection.

Rabbi Yigal Haimoff once explained the reason why seek perfection is that we were created by G-d. We now wish to emulate our creator.

Why Be a Winner?

It’s seen frequently in everyday life. We want to root for the winning team. We want to win – not lose. Why? We want that perfect product. We are upset when we get a small dent or scratch on our new car. Why? We recognize the value of perfection. We want to emulate the perfection of Hash-m.

I came up with five things people seek.

Truth, Goodness, Pleasure, Relationship or Spirituality.

There could be other things.

Most people seek a combination of all. But each focuses more on one aspect than another.

Is there a path that will bring a person to all of these aspects of life? Like the Theory of Everything in Science.

Apparently.

10 Commandments or 7?

I talk to gentiles / non-Jews sometimes. I teach them that there are seven commandments for all people in the world – The 7 Noahide commandments of the Torah given to Noah and Moses at Mount Sinai by G-d.

One typical response I get is “I Thought there are 10 commandments?”

So I explain – Yes. There are 10 commandments for the Jews and 7 Commandments for the Gentiles.

They Say what are the commandments that are missing. So I explain A Gentile does not observe the Sabbath. and other differences.

At this point I must determine whether this person is genuinely interested in learning more, or if it is a curiosity question or if the question is to challenge me back to say  that their religion says otherwise and they actually observe the Sabbath.

If I feel that they are a person that follows religion because of religion I back off and say well read more about it and I tell them about them some websites that teach the Torah’s Noahide Laws. Why do I back off? Because some people have already made up their mind on their way of life. They will not change even if you show them the truth. These are people of religion that are not truth-seekers.

These people – with no intention to deride them – are similar to some people who were told that Mount Helens was about to erupt and that they had to evacuate their homes. They did not evacuate because they said “that is where they lived all there lives and they did not want to abandon their homes.” Many died because of this attitude.

There are other people that follow religion but also follow truth. If I prove to them that the truth is is that a non-Jew should follow the 7 commandments rather than the 10 – they give it a chance.

Why Gentiles Do Not Observe the Sabbath

What is the proof that only Jews follow the 10 commandments? Pretty Easy. If I say to a class – everyone wearing a blue shirt can go out to recess. If a person who is wearing a yellow shirt goes to recess – they will not be following my instructions.

In the 10 Commandments it says – “I am the G-d who took you out of Egypt…” Who did G-d take out of Egypt? The Jews. So the commandments apply to everyone who G-d took out of Egypt and not others.

So of utmost importance for any person is to follow truth. Truth will bring them to truth. Feelings will not bring them to truth. Some people say – I follow religion or any other path because it feels good. But that can be self-destructive – as we see alcoholics who follow a lifestyle of inebriation – which is not the path that G-d wants from us. So feeling cannot be the determinant of the truth of G-d or the True path of G-d.

To find the path of Truth, Goodness, Pleasure, Relationship or Spirituality.

Logically we can figure out that G-d wants all of the above for all people. How? G-d is one of the partners in Every human being.

Proof that G-d Wants Your Pleasure, Happiness & Good

There are 3 partners in every person on earth – the Father, the Mother and G-d. If parents want children to live a meaningful, purposeful, happy life thus G-d also wants his children to live such a life.

So now the question is how does G-d want us to find all of those aspects of life?

Apparently G-d is not going to give a person a gift of life without giving them the instruction booklet. You would not expect to a car or any other machinery or appliance you buy to not come with instruction or a users manual.

What is the User Manual of G-d

So one of the biggest questions that person must answer correctly in life is what is the Instruction Manual of G-d for humans?

If you answer correctly, you win the Jackpot. All the good aspects of life mentioned above follow. Sure one will still live challenges – but at least it will be challenges with a purpose – not challenges without purpose or challenges that distance a person from G-d.

Spirituality – the Definition

Spirituality is basically- establishing a close relationship with G-d. Thus what better way to establish a relationship with G-d than following His commandments.

The Pursuit of Truth to Arrive at the True Law of G-d

Abraham – our Forefather followed the path of truth to establish a relationship with G-d. He traced a path for us. He showed us that accepting the status quo or following fads or societal norms will not necessarily bring you closer to Hash-m / G-d.

G-d is Good & wants you to emulate Him

We can see the tremendous kindness of G-d daily. He feeds the entire world. Not Just humans, but all the living creatures, plants andimals, insects, fish birds. That is a tremendous act of kindness. Most people in the world live a good life – a life to be thankful for. So we see that G-d is good and he wants us to act with Goodness -thus His Instruction Guide must teach us about kindness.

Improving Relationships

Relationships – the Kindness that one does is mainly through interaction and relationships with other human beings. Thus G-d’s instructions must also include how to have more positive relationships.

Determining the true guide of G-d is pretty easy. Only once in all man’s history did G-d appear to millions of people. This is when G-d appeared at Mount Sinai and Gave His Torah. Everyone heard G-d speaking. No other document or religion claims this national revelation. Some try to piggyback on the Torah and say yes G-d revealed Himself to the Jews but “changed his mind.”

Not really logical that G-d, who has knowledge of all – the most intelligent being in the world – the seer of past, present and future will give laws and then change His mind.

Thus only the Torah fits the bill.

Thus all the 5 aspects of life can be bettered through Torah observance. Ask your local Orthodox Rabbi.

Who Loves You Kid? Who in the World Loves You the Most.

Ever Ask “Who in the World Loves Me the Most?”

Your parents? Your children? Your Spouse?

Child Love

I was a fellowship student in an American University. As one of my responsibilities  to grade assignments- I had to read student’s essays answering the question “Who is your Greatest Hero?” Interesting answers. Who was cited most as a ‘Hero’? Batman? A movie Star? A Musician? A president? No. The Student’s Parents.

People recognize who did the most for them in their lives. I would expect young college students to be a bit more vain. But they recognized the great effort and sacrifices their parents made for them. That’s why Honoring Parents is an easily understandable commandment. We show gratitude to those that did the most for us.

Parental Love

I heard that parents love children more than children love parents.

Understandable. It says In Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers “According to the Pain is the Reward.” The more pain one puts into a person or project – the more rewarding it is when they bear fruits. The more love they have for the person. Thus it is understandable why parents love children more than vice versa. Parents will stay up at night to tend to a child. Ask a child today to clean their room and get an answer is “Maybe later.”

Love of Spouses

So is it parents who love you the most? Is it your spouse that tells you they love you? Not really. Many a time love between spouses is “Love that’s dependent upon a matter.” It tells us what true love is in Pirkei Avot. – “Love that is not dependent upon a matter.”

I love the person – not because what they can bring me or give me. I love them because I recognize their intrinsic value as a person.

The reason for the great divorce rate today is because – what people call love is infatuation. The infatuation fades, the marriage ends.

Fish Love

Love that is dependent upon a matter is best illustrated by someone who says they love fish. Ask them – if you love fish – why do you catch it, then skin it, then fry it and eat it. You don’t love fish – love eating fish. You love what the fish gives you, not what you can give to the fish. Loving is giving – not taking. “Love” of many couples today is taking – fish love.

What is Love?

Apparently the one who gives you the most (in your best spiritual, psychological, emotional and material interest) loves you the most. Who gives you the most? G-d.

There are three partners in the creation of a person. The mother, the father and G-d. The Mother gives the blood, the father the bones and G-d gives the soul.

G-d gives a person a soul, life, air to breath, food, clothing, money, a home, health, transportation, vacations, family, friends, a world, nature, and makes every single cell in one’s body function and grow continuously. I can go on, but better to keep it short.

If we recognized the tremendous kindness that G-d / Hash-m provides for us at every single moment – we would be a different person. Like we say in the prayer Nishmat on Shabbat – “If our mouths were as wide as the sea … we would not be able to thank you for all the kindness you do.” G-d gives you all – independently of what we “give” to Him – He loves us because of our value as a person. He loves us because we are his children. Without expectation of a “favor” in return.

Love of God

G-d loves you more than your parents love you.

Yes, your Father in heaven loves you more than your father or mother on earth.

A parent sometimes gets fed up with a child who goes off the proper path. G-d always has hope for His child. He doesn’t give up on you. He loves you even when you think He forgot you.

Have problems? Turn to Hash-m. He’ll help. Regardless of what you did in the past. He’s always there with open arms. And when you have time try to become better. How? Try starting over – by wiping the slate clean.

It says that even a parent can forget a child – but G-d will never forget you.

Know you are loved.

You are Here to Serve Me – What is Right & Wrong?

When a Child is born, he or she is so cute and cuddly.

You get a new addiction. Addiction to the baby.

The baby cannot do much for himself.

He cannot get food. Cannot move from one place to another. Relies on you to burp him and change diapers.

Basically, your role as a parent is to serve the baby.

Some think they received a new toy, but really they should ask who is really the “master” and who is there to serve?

It is an existential question “Are we the master of our tools or are our tools our master?” A good example is a cell phone. But that’s not the subject.

To truly realize what our role is – we the a look at the Torah.

The Torah gives a commandment for children to Honor their parents.

Our obligation to honor our parents – which means basically to do their will (obviously as long as it does not contradict the laws of the Torah) – teaches us the tremendous gratitude due to our parents.

As much as it teaches us our obligations towards our parents, it also teaches us our great gratitude due to Hash-m. Hash-m / G-d brought us into the world, gives us life, gives us ear to breath, water, clothes, a job, money, a house, a car, everything.

So what does a person do – “I want my child to get the best secular education.” Good. Very Good. But what about morality. What about Torah values?

“I want to let them choose.” The problem is is that children learn most of their values by the time they are three. If you are watching sports – and your neighbor is having a Shabbat Meal with the family – Your child will learn the value of sports. His child will learn the value of Shabbat, family and respect of G-d – doing the Shabbat is one of the 10 commandments for Jews (Gentiles do not observe the Sabbath – according to the 7 Noahide laws.) If you talk politics all day long – your child will learn to be a politician. If you teach them to be kind to all people they will learn to be tolerant. If you teach them to accept the VALUES of all all people – they will learn to be degenerate. Some people’s values are to be cannibles or to do human sacrifices or to do terrorist acts.

People should respect people. But their values should be clear – of what is acceptable and what is not. What is right and wrong? Only G-d Knows.

That’s why He gave us a Torah to teach us proper values. The Torah is the only divinely given law that millions of people witnessed its giving. When the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai.

The first one to serve is G-d / Hash-m. Then Yourself. Or others. Do this and you will be happy.

God Will Open Doors for You

It was a windy day. I was walking down the alley to enter a building. The Door swung open, I walked right in. The Door closed. No – it wasn’t an automatic door – the wind blew it open.

I attended a fund raising seminar given by Rabbi and Executive Director of Aish HaTorah, New York – Rabbi Yitzi Greenman. Once he was in the office of a wealthy individual. The man said to him – “Okay Rabbi what do you want? How much Ten-Thousand? a Hundred Thousand?” The rabbi responded – “I don’t want your money.” The rich man was surprised. “You came here to raise money. So what do you really want?” The rabbi responded “I want you. If I have you, you will give me the money that I need for my organization.”

Many people in the world have problems. Others seem to be blessed by God. Even though they do not have a large combined salary – make ends meet. Their children are successful and respectful. Their prayers are answered. They lead a happy life.

What’s the difference between these types of people?

The simple answer is found in parasha / Torah Reading of Teruma. It says there (Shemot / Exodus 25:2) – “And you shall take for Me a portion…” God tells Moses to ask the Jewish people who give a donation for the Tabernacle – where the Divine Presence rested. Instead of saying “Give Me a portion” it Says “Take for Me.” In the Hebrew it can be read as “Take Me.” And end of the verse it states “Take My Portion.” Apparently one who “acquires” Hash-m / G-d, G-d Will do the bidding of that person.

It says in Ethics of the Fathers / Pirkei Avot chapter 2:4 regarding – Doing the Will of Hash·m:

He (Rabban Gamliel) used to say, make His [G·d’s / Hash·m’s] will as your will in order that He will make your will as His will. Nullify your will before His will in order that He will nullify the will of others because of your will.

How does one “acquire” Hash-m / G-d? It states the answer further on in the parasha – “You shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell among you.” (Shemot / Exodus 25:8) If one makes his house or himself into a “sanctuary” – a place of purity, a place where Torah is the foundation, a place where the family observes Shabbat together – one will be able to “acquire” G-d. If one acquires G-d, G-d opens up his unlimited bank account of blessing to that person.

What are the foundations of the Torah? For Jews – it is observing the code of Jewish law / Shulchan Aruch. For Gentiles it is observing the Seven Noahide laws from the Torah.

It is also acquired by following Daat Torah / Torah philosophy. One has an important question, one asks the opinion a great Torah sage. Doing so he or she attaches him or her self to the Torah and thus to God.

If one has a question of which school should one place their children – a Public School or a Torah Day School; whether a potential mate would make a good marriage partner; which community is good for a Jewish family to live – consulting a great Torah scholar is in Order. They will lead you to the right direction – and to ultimately a happy life.

Pray for truth
Once an African American Lady had an appointment with my friend – an Optometrist. She exclaimed happily that she was following the Seven Noahide laws from the Torah. He asked her what made her take that decision? She replied – her former “god” did not answer her prayers. When she prayed to Hash-m / G-d of the Jewish People, He would answer. That’s when she decided to follow the Seven Noahide laws from the Torah.

Wisdom of a Torah Sage – The Key to a Happy Marriage
Once a couple came to Rabbi Aryeh Levine – The Tzadik of Jerusalem. They explained they were having difficulties in their marriage and they wanted to divorce according to Jewish law. He told them to come back in three months and then he would be able to issue a Get / Jewish Divorce Document. Before they left, he asked them their names. The husband responded – his name is Avraham and her name, Hanna. Rabbi Levine said to the husband – do Me a favor – for the next three months instead of a calling your wife Hanna, call her “Hanna’le” (An endearing term – equivalent to Hanna, my Dear.) Three months passed and the couple never came back.

Apparently – the wife received the appreciation she sought and the man – could not get angry if he had to call his wife Hanna’le (Hanna, my dear).

The wisdom of a Torah sage – saved a marriage with one small piece of advice.

My Quick Encounter with an Atheist – the Question He Could Not Answer

I asked a man for the time. He told me.

Ready to walk away, I thought he looked interesting. I asked him if he wanted to learn about the 7 Noahide Laws for all Humanity.

He declined. He exclaimed he was an atheist.

I asked him [if you believe so] ‘Where does the world come from? Does it make sense to you that the world was created by randomness?’ He grumbled something, but nothing to defer the claim of irrationality in atheistic belief.

There are no random molecules that could have created a flower. There are no random molecules that could have created a baby. There are no random molecules that could have created even a cell. The first one and even more the second.

You have two types of people or attitudes.

One person is willing to go all out for truth. Even if it means changing their lifestyle or disregarding their beliefs or belief system.

The more common attitude – I hold of a certain position based upon my lifestyle or upbringing – and keep it as long as it can suit me. I don’t question it. I don’t want to change.

The first is the attitude G-d wants us to take. For he knows if one follows truth he will come to find what G-d really wants from us. He gave Torah to enable us to reach that state of freedom.

The media and the marketers prefer the second attitude to keep you glued to big brother – whatever your big brother may be.

G-d knows what’s right and wrong. Do we?

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.

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.

The Secret to Success – Be Proud of Past to Uplift Your Future

israel-gate-e1399369688529These are the descendants of Yitzhak / Isaak son of Avraham, Avraham gave Birth to Yitzhak. (Bereshit / Genesis 25:19)

This week’s Torah Reading – Toldot – tells the Story of the descendants of Isaak. His children are Eisav / Esau and Yaakov / Jacob.

But it does not mention them in the first verse. We learned in a previous Parasha (Noah ) – that the main descendants of a person are his or her good deeds. When a person does a good deed, the repercussions have far reaching effects.

When the Torah says “Abraham Gave Birth to Yitzhak” – it is apparently telling us about Yitzhak’s Good Deeds.

Why was one reason that Yitzhak was so great in his deeds? Because Abraham, gave birth to Yitzhak.

Avraham was a Tzadik / Righteous Person. Yitzhak, realized this and followed his father’s ways – because he was a living emulation of the Torah. This is one of the secrets that made him great – that he was not only proud of his Father, but he followed in his footsteps because of the realization of Avraham’s greatness.

Recognizing One’s Greatness – Starts with Recognizing One’s Ancestor’s Greatness

Noah was a Great man. All people are his descendants. A Gentile that wants to become great and wants to break out of the path of meritocracy that the world traces – is to follow the Noahide laws.

Jews are descendants of Abraham, Isaak and Jacob. Thus emulating and respecting our lofty ancestors – will help us reach a higher level in the path to becoming great. Our past is replete of Rabbis and Torah Scholars. Emulating & Learning from them, helps us to become greater People – boosting us to levels much greater than the common man.

Like Rabeinu Yona Gerondi writes:

“The first gateway in the service of G·d is to recognize the value of oneself & to understand one’s loftiness & the loftiness of his ancestors, & their greatness, & their importance & their being beloved before the Creator, Blessed be He. One should strive & fortify oneself continuously to ingrain within oneself this value & conduct oneself with it always…”

Chapter of Shaarei HaAvodah / Gateways of Divine Service in His book Shaarei Teshuva / Gates of Repentance.