Four Ways to Stay Calm When in a Rush

I used to take the subway to school. I was late for class. And as you’d expect – when in a rush – the train stops between stations. The announcer gets on “We are experiencing a longer than usual stop light. Please be patient.” His announcement makes me more anxious to get to class. But then I think to myself “By me getting upset – will this cause the train to move faster?” Apparently not. That thought calms me down.

At time we are anxious to get somewhere – so we turn on “I’m in a rush mode” Just turn that mode off. Turn on “I’ll get there when I get there” or I’ll get there when G-d wants me to get there mode.”

People sometimes rush to the red light. I figure “What – should I speed to get to the red light faster?”

I’m in a rush – driving a cool 55 mph. Some guy – goes into my lane driving 30. It’s the solid white lines on both sides and or other cars aren’t letting me in. Should I get upset at the other driver? No. Like he said “Oh – let me annoy that driver by driving 30 mph.” No. He just drives that way. Maybe G-d organizaed it that way to test my patience muscles. If I flinch with anger – I lose. If I stay calm – I win.

 

The Spiritual Cry or Grudging – a Wise Choice?

He took my pencil. I am angry. I won’t talk to him for 10 years.

Smart?

OK. Sometimes the stakes are greater than a pencil – but is it worth it to grudge your best friend, spouse, brother or family member for it?

Think it through. Be real.

What if you found out that the person you had a grudge moved away. Would you still be upset?

The Spiritual Cry

In last week’s Parasha – Avraham – comes to Eulogize his wife Sarah and to cry for her. In the Torah the word to cry is written with a small Kaf. It means that Avraham minimized his crying – because he didn’t want people to think that he put into question G-d’s justice.

Another reason was Avraham was in control of his emotions. He cried what was necessary. My Rebbe taught me “Our Mind should control our emotions not vice versa.” Does it make sense to be angry at the person who took your money – he or she was a messenger from G-d. If that person didn’t do it someone else would have taken the money. Learn from the message – perhaps you have to be more honest with others.

Another reason brought by the Zera Shimshon is that – there are different types of cries – one is for the material loss another was the spiritual loss. If one cries the latter – then G-d collects their tears and stores them in his treasure house. Sarah was Avraham’s soul mate – the small kaf is telling us he was crying for the spiritual loss. Another reference to the spiritual cry – is prompted by the question – Why doe the verse say that Avraham came to “Eulogize and Cry.” First a person cries then they Eulogize? One answer is that his cry was a spiritual cry for the spiritual loss.

A man and a wife – if married properly are soul mates. Each one completes the other. Each one can build the other spiritually – through doing kindness, serving G-d and Torah.

This is a possible explanation of Pirkei Avot – On 3 things does the world stand On the Torah, On the Avoda (Service of Hash-m) and on Kindness. To make a world stand – these things are needed. To make a marriage last – these things are needed.

G-d wants you to have peace – as it says “Don’t Hate Your Fellow in Your Heart.”

 

Is it Smart to Hold a Grudge?

I’m in a rush. I pull into the passing lane. I need 55 mph. He’s going 40. “What’s with this slow poke? What’s this guy doing. Learn how to drive! This is the fast lane!” The anger wells up.

Typical mind thoughts. It happens to me – I used to think somewhat that way – I learned to think a bit different.

I figured “Yes – this guy chose the exact time just to pull right in front of me to annoy me when I am in a rush!?” Doesn’t make sense. This guy was driving the way he usually drives – G-d arranged that this guy be in front of me when I am late. G-d is putting me through the stress test. – Will I get angry? – Will I get upset at the guy? Will I understand that G-d organized it this way as a test.

If it is the latter – there is no reason to get angry. G-d knows what he is doing. He put this “slow poke” in front of me to let me stretch my patience muscles.

OK – now let’s stretch it a little further. Someone takes your new pocket calendar – you have important names and addresses that you need.

Should you Get angry? Hold a grudge? Obviously, he or she cannot take what is not theirs. But how do you react? Will you be upset? If it was destined to happen to you – – it would have happened to you in another manner. Think: Would this happen to you in another manner if he didn’t take it? Perhaps your dog would have chewed it up?

If you think he is a messenger of Hash-m that wants your best interest – you can find a way to not hold a grudge. In Torah it says “Don’t hate your fellow in your heart”

Clean yourself. Clean your emotions.

 

Guidebook to Life – by G-d – the Torah

As a teenager – I was one of the popular crowd. I would crack jokes in class – but I was smart enough to make them sporadically to not get kicked out. Once a teacher took me out of class to explain that my behavior of cracking jokes was unacceptable – and if I continued I would be sent out of class. I listened. In my yearbook one teacher wrote something like – “one day when you become a bit more mature you will be a nice guy.” I was already a nice guy – I just liked to joke around.

In Hebrew school I would never study. I think I had a series of zeros on my tests. Then the teacher talked to me after class – saying that I was a smart kid and she knew I could do better. I heeded the words and started getting 100’s on the tests instead. I would try to figure out what my average was based upon the zeros and hundreds. I tried to fiure out how many 100’s I had to get in order to get a passing grade. I think I passed.

My drive to differ continued in college. I was the different one – everyone was preppy – I was the one wearing two watches on my wrist and multi-colored sneakers or sneakers – each a different color.

I don’t know if people got the message. I wasn’t trying do be different to get attention – I was trying to show the world – don’t just follow after society – be yourself – think and act – don’t just act after others – then think.

I guess I still have the same attitude today. I feel people should think more about things – before just blindly following the norms and mores of society.

I started becoming more Torah observant at around 15 years of age. It was a slow process. First I started keeping Kosher outside. Then I started observing Shabbat. Then I started learning Torah. I got my MBA and then I went off to Geneva, Switzerland to start a Marketing Director job. My travels – got me thinking. When I returned to the US I decided to enroll in a Yeshiva. I was about 25 when I started learning Torah seriously.

My high school friends and I became distanced due to the winds of life. It didn’t mean I liked them less – I just put my priorities on different things – like spiritual growth, Torah learning, introspection and following Torah way of life.

In my growth – I was never really tempted to follow another religion or cult. Firstly because I am Jewish – I guess it was proper for me to investigate my religion first before trying others. But another reason was – of the little that I knew I knew that the Torah was the only divine document given to man by G-d before witnesses of millions of people. G-d appeared only once to a nation in history – and that was the Jewish people at Mount Sinai – where He gave us the Torah.

Why should I seek spirituality from some guru – when G-d himself was telling me – in the Torah – what spirituality is. Spirituality is basically doing things that will make you closer to G-d. G-d already told me in the Torah – all other ways of life couldn’t beat that.

— To Be Continued —

Seeing the Glass Full in Life – a Torah Concept

Everything is in the Torah

In Pirkei Avot (5:22) – one of the Tractates of the Talmud – it says:

Ben Bag Bag says: Delve in it [the Torah] & delve in it & learn it for everything is in it…

When G-d gave us the Torah – he gave two Torahs – the Written Law – the Five Books of Moses & the Oral Law – Now known as the Talmud – that explains the written Torah.

I was discussing last week’s parasha – Noach – on 7 couples of clean animals & 2 unclean animals that were to enter Noah’s ark. What are clean animals? What is an unclean animal?

Later in the Torah – the Torah says – the clean animals are the Kosher animals – those that chew their cud & have split hooves – like the cow, sheep, and goat. The unclean animals are the ones that are non-Kosher. The From here we learn that Noah knew the Torah before it was given – for he knew how to distinguish between Kosher and non-Kosher animals. The Talmud further explains – what is Kosher.

In the Talmud – Ben Zoma says (Pirkei Avot 4:1)

…Who is the rich person? The one who is content with his lot as it says: “When you eat the effort of handiwork – happy are you & it is good for you” (Tehillim / Psalms 128:2) “happy” — in this world; that “and it will be good for you” – in the next world…

It is not what you have. It is how you see what you have. One can have all the luxuries & want more & be dissatisfied. One can have happy with the little he or she has.

When we internalize that all is a gift from Hash-m / G-d, we live a life of appreciation. We turn our dissatisfaction to satisfaction.

It depends only upon how we look at things. Choose Happiness!

Getting a Sunny Personality – Accepting Insult with Grace

People insult.

The Giving End of Insults

We are sometimes on the giving end. I try not to insult people. I think – what do you gain? You make another person feel badly and you didn’t gain anything. Now that they are more angry at you because you insulted them – they are going to do what you want?

The concept of “Sticks and Stones may break my bones – but names will never harm me.” is not a true concept according to Torah. Words can hurt. Onaat Devarim / Pain With Words are a set of halachot / Jewish laws that Jews learn to not hurt others with words.

The Receiving End of Insults

We sometimes are on the receiving end of insults. I try not to get insulted by insults. I figure the other person had a bad day or something. Because the other person called me a donkey – did that make me into a donkey? No. It says in Torah – if someone calls you a donkey – prepare a saddle for your back. (Baba Kama 92b) Meaning – Don’t answer their insult – and acquiesce – rather than respond angrily – to their words.

The Healthy Sun

A French expression says “Sickness does not enter where the sun is.” So it is good to live in a place that has sunlight. Also – when a person has a sunny personality – he or she is less likely to become ill. People who let insults slide – do not hold grudges and feel anger or hatred. They avoid negative emotions & stress to have a negative physical effect on their bodies.

The Reward for Not Responding to Insults

The Torah says “Someone who is insulted but does not insult, One Who hears their degradation and answers not is like the Sun in it’s zenith” (Talmud: Tractate Shabbat 88b)

The atonement that does for all of his sins is greater than any other reparation he can make.

When One is Like the Sun

I was speaking with my friend Yossi. He explained to me why that kind of person is compared to the Sun. Why not say – he is like a lion?

Why is the Moon Smaller than the Sun

He answered – when Hash-m created the sun and the moon He created them the same size.

The moon complained – he said – “Hash-m there cannot be two rulers in the sky. G-d answered him – you are right. Make yourself smaller.”

When the sun was summoned to the discussion by Hash-m – Hash-m asked the sun – what does he have to say? The sun responded – with astonishment. He didn’t understand why he was summoned. He meant to say: “I don’t understand why I am summoned – It is You Hash-m who knows all. It is You who are the ruler of the world – what can I say?”

In that – the insulted who does not respond is like the sun. He accepts Hash-m’s judgement favorably, without complaint.

King David’s Reward

When Shimi ben Gera insulted David HaMelech / King David – His general said this man is rebellious against the King – let us kill him. David Hamelech replied – it is not he who insulted me – it is Hash-m who organized this.” His reward was so great – that his face was placed on the Throne of Glory.

Are People Really Insulting You? – the Woman Who Beat Up Her Husband

A friend came up to me on Shabbat. “I am really upset – This person treated me like a bum. My aide and I were sitting quietly and he told me that we don’t sit here like a bum.”

What am I to do? Tell him that he didn’t do it. He did it.

I said – maybe the person who complained thought you were someone else.

I told him a true story.

Once a rabbi with a beard was peacefully walking down the street. A woman walked up to him and started yelling. “How dare you come to my neighborhood! After all the pain you caused me when we were married! You have no shame?!” Her anger turned violent. She started hitting him with her purse. “take that!”

“Excuse me lady. I am not your ex-husband.” She took a good look and apologized. Oh I am sorry – I thought you were my ex. He caused me so much pain. Forgive me.”

A friend asked him – were you upset at her after what she did to you? He replied “No. She wasn’t beating me up – she was beating up her ex-husband.”

At times a person insults you. He might not be angry at you – perhaps he or she had a bad day and you happen to be in the way of that person’s anger.

You can take it personally. You can use it to change for the better. Or you can say perhaps the anger is directed at someone else or something else I did at another time.

The Transitory Marriage – Judaism Trains for Marriage, Society Trains for Divorce – 16 Lessons for Peaceful Marriage

Marriage is a challenge. Two people from totally different backgrounds, mentalities, ideals share a house together. How can it work?

Responsibility

Torah sanctions responsibilities of each partner. It is upon each partner to make the marriage work.

Similarity

Torah sanctions that people from same religion marry – Jews marry Jews. Thus people start off with similar mentalities. They have similar material and spiritual goals in life. Their family is guided by Torah.

Marrying for the right reasons – good character traits

In Torah we try to choose a mate with good middot – good character traits. This helps us to get someone with a personable personality. A  person with a kind heart, a giving person, someone with Torah values. This prevents much marital stress. Choosing a mate from a good family also can help the long term of the marriage.

Youthful Marriage

Torah says that a person should marry young – thus people are more flexible and less set in their ways. The Torah tells men of the the Mitzvah / commandment to get married.

Procreation & Children

Torah says people are to “be fruitful & multiply.” – thus people share a common goal of bringing up children in the path of the Torah. (Talmud: Yevamot 63b).

Torah as a Guide

As the Torah is a guide of the couples – the couple looks to fulfill it’s halachot / laws – thus reducing further stress. If there is a disagreement – they go ask a competant Orthodox rabbi.

Mutual Respect

The Torah tells us of the responsibility of the man to honor his wife. It tells how to act properly with all people.

Trust & Faithfulness

The Torah will tell it like it is. It sanctions the importance of trust, faithfulness, and respect of each mate.

Yielding to the Other

Torah instructs the individual of Yielding to the other party. Some things we hold firmly upon – like observing Torah laws – yet even that must be done in a tactful way.

Peace at Home / Shalom Bayit

Torah teaches lessons of importance of and how to have peace at home.

Tolerance

Torah sanctions respect for each individual – regardless of what they did. It sanctions for a person to refrain from speaking badly of others (Laws of Lashon Hara) even if that person actually did the bad deed.

Building a Family

The Torah gives individuals the Tools to build a beautiful family. The family is built through participating in Shabbat & festival meals together. In praying together. In learning Torah together. In sharing opinions and open-minded discussions together. In singing together. In vacationing together. A person’s life is intermingled with that of their family in positive interactions together.

Building Relationships

I overheard Rabbi Benjamin Yochanan speaking with a young man at a Group Shiur / Learning session. The Rabbi talked of the beauty of a Torah lifestyle. The young man replied “You have to enjoy life. I want to enjoy life.” The rabbi asked “What do you like to do?” He said “I Like skydiving.” The rabbi said – “When you do skydiving – you are living only for yourself. When you practice Torah you live thousand’s of lives.” “How so?” he asked. “When you live a Torah life – you live the lives of others. You hear people’s chalenges. You rejoice in their joys. You help people with their problems. You support others emotionally. You are participating in all their lives.”

Building a Spiritual Fulfilling Existence

Marriage helps a person achieve their potential. A man is not complete without a wife. She helps him to become the best he can be. Together they build a beautiful home in this world and the next world. They live a spiritually fulfilling existence together through the Torah.

Prayer to Hash-m

Hash-m / G-d helps a person to have peace at home. We pray for all that we need spiritually and physically.

Answering to a Higher Authority – Pleasing G-d and Man

In Torah we answer to a higher authority – Hash-m. This fact helps us to have boundaries that limit our negative reaction and encourage positivism. Thus a person who is angry – remembers that their spouse may just be an agent of G-d responding to their past imperfection in action. Thus reactions are tempered.

Ideals of Society

Now let’s take the ideals of society.

Rights vs Responsibility

Society – talks of Rights – woman’s rights, minority rights, animal rights and so on. So people live with certain expectations – “I have my right to demand what I want – it is may right.”

Now each person is demanding that their rights be met. Not a good mentality for a marriage.

Marry Whoever You Meet

Nowadays – many marry without thought of compatibility in Torah values, personality, religion, mentalities. The closer one is in mentality to the mate – the less stress. Intermarriage – not sanctioned by Torah – causes great stress between mates. One wants to observe this holiday – the other another. This one believes in one G-d this one believes in idolatry. Each thing causing stress.

Hutzpa Yazge – Arrogance

The Torah says in time before Mashiach / Messiah – Arrogance will increase. It is very apparent – in the News media – of how people who trash others are more respected. They will stop at nothing to break another individual – if he or she has done good or bad. The US court – went against a Texas state court – that made a law to protect fetus rights. People regularly destroy each friends and family members in cafes and restaurants.

Single Life vs. Married Life

Society condones personal, fleeting pleasure.If it gives a person pleasure – society says it is good. They sanction living the “Life of Riley.” Big cars – beautiful houses – the pursuit of pleasure.Distracting them from getting married.

Pleasure without purpose vs Pleasure for Purpose

More people are saying single than ever before. Why? Because they are following pleasure without purpose. The Torah tells people to enjoy life – but the pleasures should have purpose. Pleasures for Purpose – build. Pleasures without purpose – destroy, waste time or at the least accomplish nothing for the betterment of the world.

The Torah sanctions pleasures for purpose.

Family Life is Put as Secondary Ideal

People want independence. Having a family introduces responsibility. Some people refrain from birthing children – because they want to enjoy life.

Homosexuality vs. Being Straight

Society accepts and condones homosexuality. The Torah says homosexuality is forbidden. Although the Torah says to respect all people – it forbids same gender marriage and homosexuality. Homosexuality leads to great reduction in population growth, goes against the commandment to procreate and causes a person to live a life devoid of children. A person who chooses their life as such – will end up alone at the end of their life. They will not have a legacy to continue their genes – for they will have chosen this lifestyle.

A person who chooses marriage to the opposite gender – brings life into the world. This helps them to keep the marriage going because they are involved in a great Mitzvah to build the world together.

Ideals of society as a Guide – You are What You Read

A rabbi I was learning with said – if a person reads newspapers – their mentality will be based upon that newspaper. Newspapers and media usually project ideals contrary to faithfulness and morality. Immorality sells newspapers. In marketing they use the term “appealing to the lowest common denominator” – meaning to values and feelings of even the most immoral portions of society. I don’t think that that is a preferable way to bring up a family or lead a married life.

Promiscuity vs. Faithfulness

The more you see a certain thing – the more you find it to be acceptable behavior. Promiscuity is sanctioned by society, movies, media. Yet it is a total marriage breaker.

I could go on on both lists of How Torah strengthens marriage and society has the opposite effect – but enough said.

Materialism vs. Spirituality

Materialism is a very important aspect of society’s values. Keep up with the Joness it says. Thus Having the latest gadgets puts stree on the marriage when one of the spouse doesn’t deliver materially. Material issues, I believe I read once is one of the Top reasons for marital discord.

Glamor vs. Reality

The world lives on glamor, entertainment, games and sports. If used sparingly – it is ok. But if a person bases their life on these ideals – it could cost them their marriage.

For instance a person may want to marry a glamorous woman or a rich man. Ok – he is rich or she is glamorous – but will she be so spoiled to beat the husband when angry? Or will the rich person be stingy? Will she teach Torah values to children or go shopping on Shabbat or sit and have a Shabbat party together with the kids. Will he watch sports all day or have a conduct a beautiful Shabbat meal with songs and words of Torah?

Will the mate be stuck to their telephone or be concerned about maintaining a healthy, fruitful relationship with others?

The Me Generation

It’s all about me.

Your Mentality Choice

You choose your lifestyle. I chose many years ago. It took effort, fortitude and persistence. It was a gradual, long-term process. In the end I am so happy for my choice.

How to Improve Your Marriage

A good starting point to following Torah as a guide is by reading Torah books on the subjects of your interest. When I was starting out I liked to read stories and aggadah. Going to Shiurim / Lectures of Orthodox rabbis or listening to them online is also a good starting or continuing point.

Listening to Torah Lectures

See our links section for more info. TorahAnytime.com is a great source to find out the Torah view or learn Torah lessons on any subject of interest – for instance marriage. I searched it – and they have over 640 lectures on the topic of marriage from a Torah perspective. Find the rabbi that speaks to you. If one does – listen to their lectures. If one does not try another rabbi on the same subject.

The Sound of the Shofar – The Morse Code Message

I heard this story from Rabbi Farhi of the Safra Synagogue in Manhattan.

A rabbi sounded the shofar / the rams horn for a group of people apparently for Rosh Hashana. Among them was a Sefardic Israeli man, muscular built, no yarmulke. He heard the sound and burst into tears.

The rabbi asked him why are you so emotional when you heard the Shofar?

The Morse Code Specialist

The man told him that in the Israeli Army he was a Morse code specialist. After traveling the world – looking for meaning – he saw a help-wanted ad in the newspaper for a Morse Code specialist. He had to arrive for the interview process – between 10 am – 12 pm. He arrived at about 11:50. The waiting room was full of applicants. He sat listening to the background music. He got up and walked to the interview room. People yelled – hey, wait in line we were here before you. He burst into the room.

After some time the interviewer came out and said – “Thank you for all coming but we found our candidate for the position. You may all go home now.”

“What? All that waiting for nothing” they thought. “And the hutzpa of this guy to burst into the room before us.”

The man explained to the rabbi how he got the job. In the waiting room they played background music. The man realized that the beat to the song was a Morse code message. It said “Anyone who hears this enter into the interview room.” Thus he heard the message from the beat. There was a message behind the music.

The Message Behind the Music

“When I heard the Shofar the sound resonated in me. It was a message that penetrated my heart telling me to do Tehuva – it resonated deep into my soul – and I burst out crying.”

Our Daily Messages

We hear Hash-m’s / G-d’s messages in the background daily – the observant listens and reacts. We see the beauty of the world, the beauty of our children, the blessings we have – does it resonate or do we ignore the message?

It’s our choice.

The Yield Sign & Judaism

The Shabbat / Sabbath between Rosh Hashana / the New Year & Yom Kippur / the day of atonement is called Shabbat Shuva. The Shabbat of Return.

Hash-m gives us Seven days between Rosh Hashana & Kippur to fix our faults for that day of the year. What does G-d want from us? If we didn’t put on Tephillin, we start putting it on. If we didn’t go to synagogue on time – we try to come on time. Hash-m basically wants us to advance one step further. Take the next Mitzvah upon yourself.

Balance of Good & Evil for Freedom of Choice

In this world – evil & good exist. They balance each other out. G-d did this to allow a person full freedom of choice. One can do miraculous deeds through purity – and one can do magical deeds through impurity – black magic. If only good had the power to do miraculous deeds – people would abandon evil. If only people who did good would become wealthy – people would become good – but not for the right reasons. They would be good to become rich – not because Hash-m told them to do good.

The Quick Fall

The Jews they were prompted to do the sin of the golden calf – attributing divine powers to a physical object – because the Satan / Evil Force showed them that their leader Moshe Rabeinu / Moses was deceased. They were so despondent they fell quickly to follow after a foreign idol.

A person can fall two ways – the Evil Inclination introduces anti-ethical and anti-Torah ideas little by little. Thus he chips away at a person’s morality – until he or she falls.

Another way is for a person to become despondent and fall very quickly to do evil deeds.

The Quick Rise

On the other side of the coin – a person can rise very quickly. He can become very inspired or motivated to follow Torah ideals.

Or little by little – through learning Torah, Listening to Torah lectures, attending Torah classes at an Orthodox synagogue – he or she grows slowly.

The Steady Path of Self Improvement and Self Growth

Either method to rise is good. Yet the Torah prefers a person to rise slowly. This helps a person stay the course and continue in a steady path of growth.

Yielding to others (Being Mevater) – for things that go not against Torah is a good thing. We yield to others at times – to create peace. We yield our will to the will of Hash-m – that’s how we grow. Like it says in Pirkei Avot (2:4) – on Doing the Will of Hash·m:

He [Raban 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.

God gives us a tremendous opportunity. Let’s use it to grow.