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!

Connecting to G-d or Don’t Give Me that Kosher Style. I want the Real Thing!

Jews are connected.

Connected to the One above.

I know it first hand. I meet Jews in the street with all the paraphernalia – nose rings, tattoos, leather jackets. They seem tough on the outside. Scratch a little below the surface accessories and you find a warm heart connected to Judaism.

The struggling Jewish comedians. The doctor who tells me she started saying blessings on food. The Palestinian college student with a Jewish mother. A vegetarian suffering from a tough divorce. And also that non-Jewish woman steeped in materialism, grappling with conversion to Judaism.

Each has one thing in common. They are connected.

Complete Torah Observance? Not there yet.

Connected – yes. Connected in their own way. Connected by coming to the synagogue. Trying to be good to others. By putting on that big white kippah when they enter the shul. The women that cover their hair with a scarf when they come to ask for a blessing from the big Rabbi.  The secular Jews who give donations to hospitals because of their concern for others.

The Torah confirms this saying that each Jew has a spark from the Divine that keeps the Jewish person connected to Hash-m – no matter how far they feel.

G-d Loves People

G-d loves these people. They try. They support Israel or don’t. They eat kosher or kosher style – because they think it’s really Kosher. They don’t know the extent of how much G-d loves them. But those little actions mean much. I heard even that G-d loves you – a person who follows or tries earnestly to follow His laws – more than any person can love you in the world. Even one’s parents. I believe it.

Even the people who get on the defensive when they see you wearing a black kippah. And take out their frustrations out on you. I know one reason why they get defensive – because deep down they also want to be connected as much as you to the Great Power above. Apparently they envy someone they feel has a greater connection.

I love them too.

Don’t want to be be Politically Correct

I try not to be politically correct in life. I’d much rather tell it like it is. I’d rather people hear the truth than to stretch truth to make others happy. Obviously I try to be tactful. So please don’t think I’m doing the politically correct jargon.

The Lost – finding the Right Path & Getting Connected

In a sense I feel for all people. I feel that many are lost – sincerely searching for a path that will bring them to Utopia on earth. I can’t say I found Utopia – because Utopia will never exist. The true Utopia is living a life in which any situation you encounter – stressful or not – you’ll be able to deal with it in the most positive way possible. That’s real Utopia. I  did find a real path that helps me to feel I am accomplishing purpose. Yes, I do stray and sway – unfortunately – but I try keep anchored to Torah.

Yes – synagogue. Yes – Shabbat. Yes – Kosher. Yes – Daily Torah Study & Prayer. Yes – trying to not talk badly about others. Yes – Part of a Torah Community.

The more I try to be connected, the more I feel I need to be connected.

the Path to Spirituality & Self- Fulfillment – Torah Commandments

They say that a Jew is full of Mitzvot / Commandments [they do] as a pomegranate. Why a pomegranate? We as Jews have 613 commandments. (a Gentile has 7 Major categories of commandments – the Noahide Laws – that come to 30 detailed commandments). A Pomegranate has 613 seeds in it. Each Jew is connected in doing a special Mitzvah. Some try to do all. Some pick and choose. The real idea behind a Mitzvah is becoming connected to G-d. True spirituality.

Many people search cults and exotic religions – trying to find spirituality and meaning. But I say – “What more do you want? – when G-d came down and told us – to over 3 million people who witnessed – that this – the Torah – is what He wants.

This is the guide to become close to Him. Spirituality in my eyes is being close and connected to G-d. He already told us. So my job now to become connected is to try to do what I can to follow. Someone asked the Hazon Ish – a great Rabbi who lived in Benei Brak – what is the pathway to spirituality? He said follow Halacha / Jewish law.

I mentioned before that one’s real self is not the body. It is the soul. Please the soul and you will live a happier life. The problem why happiness is elusive is that – people pick and choose Mitzvot. “This is good enough for me.” “This mitzvah doesn’t fit my lifestyle.” So I will pick to follow my own made up religion – of what I think is good and what I think is wrong.

G-d really made it easy for us – He already told us what is right and wrong. That’s not our realm. Our realm is determining whether – the situation we encounter it is right to do A or B – based upon what Torah says. We can’t rewrite the Torah. No one can. Because I know my intelligence is nothing in comparison to G-d’s, I’ll relegate determining what is right and wrong to G-d. I’ll just decide if my intended reaction to a situation fits the Will of G-d as described by the Torah. This makes my life much easier.

Even this week pray – given all our Torah knowledge – that Hashem gives us the wisdom to do His will in each situation.

G-d’s View vs My Personal Interest – Choosing the Greater Good for the World.

I realized – after the fact – What it really comes down to is choosing to let G-d guide your life through Torah is choosing a greater good for you and for all society. I am very limited in my vision and the consequences of my actions. G-d takes all into account. The good for me, the good for society, the good for your family.

My scope is much more limited. I am biased. It’s putting my personal interest aside for G-d – for the greater good of the world. Though – I may not understand G-d’s ways or sometimes even certain of His laws – I follow. Once I know that G-d gave a nation of millions of people a law – where millions of people witnessed the giving of this divine document – I can feel confident following that law. I can feel confident I am doing a greater good for the world by following Torah.

A higher level is doing things leshem shamayim – for the sake of G-d. We have a special relationship with Hashem – for thousands of years He has been helping us with a kind hand. We thus do good for His sake.

We become a greater individual. We become bigger. I look at the interest of others rather than just my own. I follow what G-d wants rather than what I think is right. Usually they coincide. Sometimes they don’t. But in a case of my opinion – and the opinion of the Torah is diffferent – I defer to Torah – for G-d’s wisdom is greater than mine.

Remove Doubt – Remove Suffering

Living a Life of doubt is painful. If I don’t know what is right or wrong, I am always in doubt. Torah takes that doubt away. I just see what Torah says or ask a competent “Orthodox” rabbi what it says about a particular issue.

Years ago someone asked “what should be done with a person on life support”? I didn’t know the answer. I asked a Posek (a Rabbi qualified enough to make Halachic / Jewish law decisions) on “pulling the plug from life support.” I explained the case – He said it was forbidden. I told the family.

They followed and were happy with their decision. They did not live a life of regret asking “Did I do the right thing?” They knew they did the right thing for they based their decision upon Torah.

My Life of Picking and Choosing

I was in the situation of picking and choosing what is convenient for me.The “This doesn’t fit my lifestyle” attitude – until I chose to get off this “double citizenship” – of on one hand following Torah when it’s convenient and not when it is not. It took time. As they say “slowly but surely wins the race.” But once I did commit to follow Torah based upon what it said to do rather than what I thought is convenient – I changed myself and changed my life for the better.

I didn’t choose what I should do and not. I knew I had to do all – my choice was relegated to choosing what I was ready to take upon myself. At one time I took complete eating Kosher inside and out of the house. Then I took complete Shabbat observance. Then I took wearing a Kippah. Then I took Daily Torah study. Each one has their own path to Judaism. I’m still trying to grow. But at least I have a path. Some don’t know the path exists.

Achieving Your Purpose in Life

That same path in Judaism – that brings spiritual satisfaction – brings one to achieving their personal potential and purpose in life. Apparently they are related.

The Real Thing

I don’t want that Kosher style lifestyle. I want the real thing.

I won’t lie. It takes effort. It takes sweat. Going against the grain. Breaking the mold that society builds for you. Moving Forward day by day. Overcoming the challenges – but you know in the end you have a Hand that carries you. A good G-d that watches over you.

Anyone – regardless of their level of righteousness – can have emunah / trust in Hash-m’s / G-d’s providence and He will help them. G-d will even help the thief who prays to Him to be successful in his endeavor to steal from a house. Anyone can repent and start over.

But strong connection takes work. Work at it. Be ready to go the whole 9 yards. And you’ll never be or feel alone. You’ll always be directly connected to the One above.

Problems Causing You Worry? or Worry Causing You Problems?

G-d loves his creatures. He doesn’t even want the death of the wicked. He wants them to correct their ways and He will accept them.

The power of Teshuva / repentance is such – that anyone can be forgiven for their sins if they return sincerely to the good and just path of the Torah. G-d is so gracious that He would forgive anyone that sincerely repents. Anyone. Yes – You, Me and the Average Joes.

So Magnanimous is G-d – His Mercy is unimaginable.  I heard from a rabbi – that even if Hitler would have sincerely repented for all the sins he committed – he would have been forgiven. Yet, now that he did not – he ranks among the most evil men of all times.

G-d is our father. He wants us to have a relationship with Him. If we place our worries upon Him, He will take care of them. Say “G-d, I have a great test or an important interview- I will do my best to do well, but You take care of the rest. I won’t worry because you control all.” Don’t Worry – Have faith in Hash-m and he will handle the rest.

One who worries is basically lacking a bit of faith. He thinks that things don’t happen for the best. If he integrated the fact that G-d controls all and does everything for the best – there is no need to worry. After you put in your best effort, act prudently, take your precautions and pray to Hash-m – put your concerns in the hands of G-d – let Him take care of the rest.

If you do worry – you think that man is in control. If a person does worry sometimes G-d says let the worrier take care of the situation. And lets the “dice roll” for what happens. At times one’s worry is the cause of his problems. If a person worries – that which they worry about – might come to fruition due to their worry. Yes – a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Better to put your fate in the Hand’s of G-d. Don’t put your fate in the hands of men. Understand that only good will occur and it will. Remember G-d is Good. He is our Father. He wants the best for us. No need to worry.

Believe it will be good and it will be good.

Don’t worry be happy.

My Friend, the Demon – Banishing Demons from Your Life

Do demons exist? A friend of mine said he met one.

He was in Florida in a spooky neighborhood late at night. He saw a person that seemed friendly enough. He spoke with them and invited them to talk with him & his friend in his hotel room. He told them to make themselves comfortable. When they took off their shoes, he noticed they had the feet of a chicken. He found a way to excuse himself. “I’m sorry – it’s getting late and I really have to go to sleep.”

3 Demonic Forces

  1. Yetzer hara – the evil inclination is an entity that tells you to do the wrong thing. Remember when a cartoon character had an ethical dilemma – a little angel and a devil resembling the character, appeared on each shoulder. The angel would tell him to do good, the devil bad. He usually listened to the devil and something bad happens to him. This concept is a Torah concept. A person has a Yetzer haTov – a good inclination and an evil inclination. One tells him do good, the other bad. If he does good he is rewarded and the opposite if he follows the advice of the bad.

The Reason for Temptation

The reason for these two inclinations is to give a person freedom of choice. If a person only did good – we would be robots and thus we would have no merit for choosing good. G-d gives us the ability to choose the good to be able to reward us. Thus temptation is an opportunity to become greater. Overcoming each one we become greater and greater.

Temptation is here to help us overcome it and be rewarded. Every time we overcome it we become a greater individual. We become closer to G-d and happiness. When we fail we become farther from G-d and our soul is tormented.

Pinpointing the Unknown Cause of Suffering

This is one reason why people suffer – yet do not know why – because their values are not aligned with Torah values. They satisfy their bodies and simultaneously torment their souls. They feel the sadness of the soul but cannot pinpoint where this sadness comes from. They try drugs, psychologists, alcohol. The simple solution is to align ones values with Torah. Obviously one with problems should consult with a competent and reputable Orthodox rabbi.

It is not doing what you feel is good that will make you happy. It is doing what the Torah says is good that will make you happy. Because you are your soul. Some things you think are good are not actually good according to Torah. Thus what you think may be good – but the Torah does not – may give sadness to the soul.

G-d knows what makes us happy and sad. He created us. And he is our Father. A father wants the happiness of his children. G-d does too. Thus he gave the Jewish people the Torah as the guide to find lasting meaning, happiness and good.

A person might think that having an affair is good. If one does – he or she will torment their  soul. They may think they had a good time physically but their soul is “bleeding.” Thus, a person becomes depressed. Not to mention all the negative repercussions that following the Yetzer HaRa attracts – divorce, hatred, sadness, broken friendships, quarrel, saddened children. Baruch Hash-m / Thank G-d, He gave us the opportunity for Teshuva / Repentance.

Solving Ethical Dilemmas

If it was only so easy that an angel and devil would appear on one shoulder for us to decide. We would just choose the “angel” and be happy. However, the Yetzer Hara / the evil inclination disguises himself as the angel. He tries to convince you that what is bad according to Torah is actually good and what is good according to Torah is actually bad.

Thus a person who does have an ethical dilemma, would be prudent to ask a respected Orthodox rabbi of the Torah’s position of a particular issue. Many people are flying around with values of the newspaper or their political orientation or their heart. Sometimes they are on target with what Torah says – sometimes not. The smart person, who wants to truly do right – will align their values to the will of G-d.

Torah Truth – the Million Man Proof

The only divinely given document – witnessed being given by millions of people is the Torah. No other religion claims this. Only Orthodox Judaism adheres strictly to the precepts of the Torah. Other movements and religions – will say “G-d changed his Mind” or “it is OK to change Torah”. Apparently they think they are smarter than G-d. Rationally speaking, G-d changing his mind is irrational. G-d who is omniscient / All knowing of past present and future will change his mind? Not rational.

The Religion Litmus Test

Some people search for a religion to follow. I always give the advice, if one is a Gentile – they should follow the & Noahide laws from Torah. If they really have an affinity for Judaism – so they should speak with a reputable Orthodox Rabbi to learn what how to go about a proper Orthodox Jewish conversion. A Litmus test to determine the veracity of a religion is to compare it to Torah. If a religion is saying “It is proper to make human sacrifices” and the Torah Says “It is forbidden to Kill” obviously the religion is not G-d’s will.

Negative Messages

The Yetzer HaRa wants to kill a person in this world and the next. Thus he implants in him or her  all kinds of negative thoughts and messages – “I am a nobody”, “I am worthless”, “no one likes me”, “I have no future”, “I have no hope for becoming better”, “It is important that I stay with this person because I love him”. He will pull you in all sorts of directions like a magnet pulling metal. The smart person will call his game. The smart person will think.

Overcoming one’s Negative Messages

Regarding Negative messages also – don’t accept things on face value. If the thought enters your mind – “I am a good for nothing” challenge it. Is that really true? I have many good qualities – I help old ladies with their shopping. I hold the elevator door. I say good morning to people. Perhaps its only the Yetzer HaRa talking to you. Discern, what is true and what is your yetzer Hara. Many suicides could have been prevented by a person countering these negative thoughts with positive ones.

Also if you do feel you are bad – because you did something – so improve. It is not a dead end street. You did something bad. OK. Now do Teshuva / Repentance. The four steps: 1. Confess to Hash-m. 2. Regret what you did. 3. Commit to doing Good. 4. And don’t do it again.

Changing Negative Messages to Positive

Some have a personal rule of – every negative comment they make against their spouse or children they must make five positive comments. Perhaps a person should adapt a similar rule for themselves – for every negative message they think – they should think five positive messages. That would prevent many suicides. Being positive, is what the Torah wants from a person. Implant positive messages into your thoughts. “I am smart.” “Help people.” “I learn Torah.” “I help others.” “I am smart.” “I am a good child.” Force yourself to smile. Being happy is what the Torah wants from you.

Overcoming the Yetzer HaRa

The greatest defense against it is to think things out. Discuss it. Speak with a Torah Scholar. Is it really good to give a terrorist nation a nuclear bomb? Am I really as bad as I think I am? Is it really in my best interest to follow a man or woman who is not your husband or wife? Is it really smart to bungy-jump over a river?

Past Experiences

Some live in the past. I remember the good old days. I used to be so happy. I was an engineer, now I am a cashier. I was so happy as a youth… I used to be able to shoot a basketball … Ok. Thank G-d for the past and move on.

Poor Me Syndrome

I know someone who feels badly for himself. He doesn’t have the Job he wants. He feels badly because he is still living the dreams of his youth. It is good to dream. Dream big. But do something about it. He tells you of his dreams and sulks of why he didn’t accomplish them. I told him – change your “Poor Me” in “I Can.” By feeling badly for yourself, it won’t change your situation. Take your life into your hands and start the day anew today. Don’t complain. Do practical things that will bring you closer to your goal. Instead of sulking that you have a dead end job. Take some adult education courses and make yourself more marketable. Sulking is another – tool of the Yetzer Hara to make you depressed and curtail your growth.

The Path to Happiness – Giving Happiness to the Soul

But Torah gives you the path to Happiness. But it is not always the easy path. At times it is challenging. In the long term a person achieves that. At times a person has to purge themselves from the bad.

The Torah even gives a simple formula. Remove [yourself] from bad and do good. First however one must know what is bad and good in G-d’s eyes. Sometimes what feels good is not good in the eyes of G-d. So a religion based upon what feels good or right – might be totally off. Totally against G-d’s will. Thus to really know a Gentile studies the Noahide laws and a Jew studies the Shulchan Aruch.

2. Real Demons – Apparently there are physical demons and others that are invisible or perhaps they can make themselves visible. I don’t know.

In the Talmud it teaches how to see demons. I seriously suggest you not try it. One person who did was so scared he almost went insane – until the Rabbis prayed for him and he lost the ability to see them. Apparently animals can see them. If you hear dogs bark when you pass the might either see you as a predator or they see the evil forces surrounding you. But I don’t want to scare you too much.

King Solomon was replaced by a Demon that made himself look just like him. King Solomon wandered for years until he got back to the palace. When he returned, His advisors did not know who was the real King Solomon. The King – who looked like a pauper – told his advisors – to find out if someone saw the imposter’s feet. They verified and found out that he hid his feet – to avoid showing the chicken feet.

If divorced, don’t start trying to check your former spouse’s feet. They are most likely human.

Once I was in France. I was sleeping alone in a room. I put on the light. I was a bit reassured, because the great Torah commentator Rashi, said “There are no Demons in France.” So I wasn’t so worried.

Later I learned that it is possible that previous to Rashi, there were demons in France. But Since the great Rashi declared that there are no demons – they were banished from France. Another thing I heard – France at the time of Rashi had different borders then than it does today. Thus check out the borders of then before you stay alone in France. Just Joking. Demons don’t like noise or light.

Some don’t take hot showers after mid-night (the mid point between dusk and dawn – not necessarily – 12:00 am), because they say that they hang out in the plumbing outlets of the sink and tubs. Pouring hot water on them may get them angry.

Superstition? I don’t know? In any case, a Jew is not to follow superstitions. So one must sort out what is true and what is superstition.

3. “Friends” who Give Bad Advice – Someone I know was planning to get engaged to a nice young man. The friend who had a bone to pick, possibly jealous of her, convinced her to decline the engagement. She did. The girl regretted sorely listening to her friend.

I heard another story of a woman married to a Cohen. A Cohen is not allowed to marry any divorcee. So, Once he divorces his own wife, she can never remarry him. A regular Jewish man is allowed to remarry his former wife. Provided she did not marry anyone else in the interim.

Her Friends convinced her that she should divorce her husband. Her father-in-law tried to dissuade her. She was adamant. She got divorced. She regretted. She could never remarry her former husband. She listened to friends and lost, living the rest of her life in solitude.

A lesson – listen to those that care for you. Take Torah advice – from those knowledgeable, pray to Hash-m that you find His truth and G-d will help you banish all your demons.