Breaking Through Your Glass Ceiling – The Secrets of Success in Judaism

G-d loves the average person.

Going about their day making an honest day’s pay.

In G-d we trust – is their motto.

Deep down we know that there is a G-d. Deep down we know that there is a concept of good and evil, of perfection and breaking out of our self-imposed, psychological limits.

But how do I know it is so?

I was born with a set of values, ideals, DNA and circumstances. Can I break out of all of those to excel beyond the average person?

Yes.

How?

The first question to ask is “what is greatness?”

What is Greatness?

Greatness is reaching our potential in doing good for the world. Each person has tremendous potential to help make the world a better place. Each person finds purpose and achieves their personal purpose in the world – through the good that they provide in the world through their unique attributes and talents.

Goodness is Defined By Torah – Not by What One feels is Good

This good is defined by Torah.

At times a person thinks they are doing good, but are doing the opposite according to Torah. An example is a person who give a druggie drugs. Giving is usually kindness. But if one helps others to endanger their lives – materially or spiritually – it is cruelty.

The Torah says – one who is kind with the cruel ends up being cruel with the kind. A person who is wants clemency for terrorists – thinks they are doing kindness – but really this is cruelty because – they are condoning evil and causing that perhaps others will earn from him or that person might redo their misdeeds.

Being Great starts off with defining precisely what is good in G-d’s eye’s according to Torah. Then following that path that the Torah condones.

Greatness and success in terms of the Torah has nothing to do with the person’s bank account. A person who is wealthy can be a great person – if they give charity to proper causes or can be wicked if they give their money to hurt others.

Torah success is based upon goodness. It is not based upon wealth. A person can be a millionaire but if he beats his wife – anyone will not consider them a success. Success and greatness is based upon goodness according to Torah.

Many people are lured by exotic places and ascetic gurus when searching for spirituality. Many a time they are disappointed by gurus because although these gurus may seem spiritual – putting on the whole act – meditation, asceticism, the hairdos, the followers, the barbs, etc. – they are dishonest. They fail in the basics of honesty. Gil Locks was a guru – who found Torah after experimenting with many cults and religions – he can tell you many stories of their dishonesty.

In Judaism – spirituality goes hand in hand with honesty, goodness, kindness. The greater one reaches to achieve these ideals through action – the more spiritual one becomes. A rabbi once said “Your spirituality depends upon the materialism of others.” Meaning By you giving a poor person food to eat (material) you grow spiritually.

We Can All be Great.

We can all be great.

How do I know? Open up a Humash (the 5 books of Moses / the Artscroll Stone Chumash is what I recommend.)

There we learn the stories of Avraham, Rivka, Leah and Rachel. All have one thing in common. They were completely righteous – yet they grew up in a house where impurity and impropriety reigned.

Abraham’s father – Terach – was an Idol worshiper. Abraham used his mind to deduce that anything that has a limit cannot be a G-d. If it has a body, if it is physical if it can be destroyed it cannot be a G-d. He rose to tremendous heights – influencing the entire world.

Rivka, Leah and Rachel all lived  in families of idol worshipers. Yet they chose righteousness over the convenient and the fad and fashion of the day.

How? They attached themselves to the source of life – Hash-m / G-d. They used their mind to control their hearts – instead of the of vice versa. They used Torah as a guide to their actions – rather than emotions. Their kindness was the pinnacle of kindness.

But they also knew another great secret:

Turning on the Dime – breaking the momentum of Sadness & Mediocrity

What ever situation that I was in yesterday or that I find myself today doesn’t not require me to act the same way in the future. Meaning every day is new day to grow. What my family is, what my friends are, what I was yesterday – puts no requirement on how I can be today. Yesterday I could have been in the dumps – today I can be happy. Yesterday I could have been following mediocrity – today I can be following greatness. I am an independent individual. I am not attached to the values or opinions of my friends or my society. When I attach myself to being Good and doing good – that’s when I am happy. That’s when I reach greatness. I attach myself to Hash-m’s guide – and I learn the secrets of greatness.

Every week – in the Parasha – weekly Torah reading – we learn a lesson in greatness. Every Halacha – Jewish Law found in the Shulchan Aruch for Jews – or 7 Noahide laws for all humanity – helps me to reach that greater perfection. The Jewish law is formulated to help me achieve the greatness that most people ignore, fuzz over or dream about but do not pursue.

Becoming Great starts from learning Torah – and following Halacha. One then slowly develops the mindset and outlook that will bring a person to greatness.

Step By Step – Grow a little every day

It starts with one small step. A commitment to grow through little by little following the Halacha / Jewish law pertinent to them. Women have certain laws pertinent to them in Torah. Men do as well. Cohanim have certain laws. Gentiles have certain Torah laws. It all starts by following Jewish laws. And growing step by step – little by little accepting new halachot – each will open up a new vista for you.

Attachment to G-d

A True Story. A man was having difficulty finding a Job on Wall street. He asked JP Morgan – a great banker at that time – to walk down Wall Street together with him. For this he was willing to Pay $100 cash. He agreed. After the short walk – people took notice of him. They saw he was associated with a great banker – and the job offers started flowing to him. When we attach ourselves to G-d through Torah and Mitzvoth – the doors start opening. The story of JP Morgan illustrates this. The difference is is that G-d himself will open the doors for you.

The Reward of Greatness

Apart from the intrinsic good for all the world bestowed by my pursuit of being great from the Torah – G-d’s Guide to greatness – (why Torah? It is the only time in the history of man that millions of witnesses heard G-d speak to give a divine document – the Torah) – I receive great reward.

In a Shiur / Torah Lecture of Rabbi Yeshayahu Pinto – he mentioned three concepts about achieving greatness.

Teshuva Before a Mitzvah

He mentioned the How teshuva / repentance is essential before a person does a Mitzvah. If one does a mitzvah when attached to bad – some of that mitzvah so to speak feeds the bad side. A good example is let’s say you become rich. You have a group of friends that appreciate you because of your net-worth rather than your self-worth. When you make money they gain – because you share your wealth with them. If you have a group of friends that are also righteous – those are the people.

Commit to goodness & Greatness

A person likes to follow the path traced for him or her by society. It’s easier that way. I want to be like the next guy. What will people think. The first step to goodness is committing to doing good. And like what we mentioned good is defined by Torah. Not how to be great?

Commit to being great. But also set specific goals. I want to be able to teach others Torah. I want to help homeless people find shelters. I want to give away chickens to poor Jewish families for the Shabbat meal. That’s the starting point. Then put a number to it. Rabbi Noach Weinberg, of Aish Hatorah (Aish.com) had a specific goal – he wanted to reach out to a hundred thousand Jewish people to bring them closer to Torah & mitzvot. Apparently he did reach his goal. He was a great person – but had specific goals.

Torah is part of the plan.

If you look at the great people in the world, Abraham, Isaak, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, David or more contemporary, the Chofetz Haim, the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh, the Ari HaKadosh, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef – led their lives based upon Torah ideals. Having a regular Torah learning session in one’s daily schedule – even if it is only five minutes to start is a good starting point.

The Last Day of Life

One’s reward in life depends partly upon their last day of your life. If a person is constantly growing – his past experiences serve to make him what he was today. So if the last day of his life he was doing great deeds for mankind – it will be counted as if he was doing these great deeds his or her entire life. Obviously if he did teshuva for his past improper deeds and he wished that he did his current good deeds for all of the days of his past life.

Only the Good Die Young?

At times a person is taken from the world, G-d forbid, at an age earlier than they were destined to die. Some reasons – a person put themselves in danger, a person did many transgressions, or a person was turning towards the bad side. Let’s say a person died at the age of 100 instead of 120. He had 20 more years to live. Those 20 will be added to his or her heavenly reward as if he or she were doing the righteous deeds they did during their life.

Sarah Immeinu / our matriarch died relatively young at the age of 127. Her husband Avraham – lived till 175. He was supposed to die at 180. If both were supposed to live till 180, both of them will be rewarded in heaven as if they did 180 years of Mitzvot, kindness and good deeds.

Achieving greatness is attainable. Really everyone wants to be good. G-d put in this world an element to make it more challenging – it is called the evil inclination. It is the voice inside you that says “You can’t do it. You are worthless. You are a loser. You shouldn’t be good with that person. Take revenge. Hate that person. Follow the crowd. Everybody is doing it. I don’t want to look like a goody goody.”

Be Positive

Throw those negative thoughts in the fire and start your day and life with positivism. Every day

Upon awakening, one says:
Modeh (Modah / for female) ‘ani le·fanei·kha melekh h’ai ve·kayam she·heh’ezarta vi nish·mati ve·h’emlah, raba ’emu·natekha

I am grateful before You, Living & Eternal King, that You returned my soul to me with grace. Great is Your faith [in me.]

Hash-m Has faith in Us. Do we have enough faith in ourselves?

Believe [in yourself] and achieve.

Be Happy Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look at the good – not the bad.

Be happy now. It’s your choice.

G-d’s Message of Love – the Heart in the Eggshell

G-d sends us messages every day. He answers your prayers – one has to be observant of their surroundings to notice it.

There is a Joke. A guy was looking for a parking spot. He was running late for a meeting. He prayed for a parking spot. “G-d please help me find a parking spot soon. If you do, I will be more careful to observe your commandments! Please help me!” He turns the corner and finds a the perfect spot right in front of his destination. “Wow, what a coincidence!” He says.

Finding a parking spot could be an answer to your prayer. I remarked that when I pray sincerely and specifically – about finding a parking spot quickly upon arrival to and close to my destination, I find them more quickly than when I do not.

Anyway, last night I was preparing instructional materials that explained that Hash-m / G-d Loves people.I searched for a nice looking heart graphic.

This morning – I prepared eggs for breakfast. I cracked one after the other. In one I cracked by the more narrow part of the egg.

I dropped the yoke in a cup – to assure there were no traces of blood in the egg. Then I put the egg from the cup into into the pan.

I looked at the shell. I noticed that the hole in the egg was in the shape of a heart.

This never happened to me before.

G-d sending a message?

Coincidence?

You decide.

One can brush things off as coincidence or he can notice the prayers being answered – this is one way we develop a relationship with the Creator. Noticing the little things that happen to us due to our prayers. Noticing all our blessings is another.

Who loves you the most? G-d does. You Just Have to take the time to notice all the good He does for you and each and every one of us on a daily basis.

Torah Word – What to Ask for in Prayer

The Parasha / Weekly Torah Reading – Behar – talks about Shmittah – letting the land rest from laboring the field every seven years.

If one does this G-d will give blessing in the sixth year that it will produce enough for 3 years. One for the sixth year, one for the seventh and one for the first year of the new Shmittah cycle. It says:

“if you follow my ordinances … You will dwell securely in your land . And I will give you fruit to your satiety. And If you will say “what shall we eat in the seventh year – for we will not plant and not harvest?”  I [Hash-m] will command My blessing that in the Sixth Year – it will provide [enough] produce  for three years.” (Vayikra / Leviticus 25:18-21)

 

*Question:* – It seems that a person that has a doubt as to relying on G-d by letting his land rest on the seventh year (because he asked “What shall we eat…”) G-d will give this blessing of “produce for three years”. Shouldn’t the blessing be given to people who have faith / Emunah in G-d that he will provide?

*Answer:*    There are two kinds of blessing – in quantity or in quality. A person who has doubts – G-d will give the blessing of quantity – so they can actually see with their eyes the blessing. The quantity of three years of produce.

To those that have faith – G-d will give the blessing of quality.  Their fruit will be so nutritious that one fruit will provide enough nutrition as 3 fruits.”

When asking blessing from Hash-m  – ask for quantity and quality.

Money that will be used for spiritual growth and helping Klal Yisrael & the world – not for Taxes or Medical expenses.

A soulmate that will have good midot / character traits, desire for growth, values and hashkafa / Torah outlook that will make me & Hash-m happy.

Children that will follow Torah and be righteous…

A path in life that will help me to find true spirituality, growth & truth & that will be pleasing to you Hash-m / G-d …

To get accepted into a school that will help me to achieve my potential in life …

Be specific and detailed – but not too detailed to give G-d “leeway” to give you good. Don’t pray to marry a particular person.  G-d knows best if a particular person is good for you to marry. Pray to Marry a person who will have the qualities that you desire – if it is good for you.

May our good prayers be answered* – Amen.

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*Hash-m is the Name of G-d to whom we direct our prayers.

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.