Shana Tova U Metukah – A Good and Sweet Year

The way something starts sets the tone for the continuation. Thus we make signs to eat in the Rosh Hashana Seder.

Once someone proposed a shidduch- match to a young bachur – Torah learner. He said – “ask me after Rosh Hashana – the new year. Because I didn’t pray to Hashem for a good shidduch last Rosh Hashana. I will pray on the new year so the prayer will be fulfilled and have an effect on the shidduch. “

Shana Tova.

Don’t fall for the $5.42 Trick

I needed gas. I went to the gas station. Got the gas. Then I noticed I needed windshield wiper fluid. I asked the cashier – How much is that? He mumbled $5.42.

I didn’t hear the price clearly. Then he repeated. 5-4-2. I thought he meant 5$ for two bottles. $2.50 for a bottle isn’t bad.

I said I’ll take 2. He charged me $10.84. He told me – one bottle is $5.42. Realizing the error, I then told him forget it, I’ll just take one. I ended up paying more than double than what I thought the price was.

We see things in life. we think we’re getting a good deal, but end up paying much more. Some Jewish children are not privileged to go to a Torah day school. Later in life they realize the value. Some Jews send their children to secular schools. And only afterwards, when children abandon the Torahs ways, they realize they paid a high price – for saving on Torah school tuition.

In this week’s Parasha, Ki Tavo – Moshe tells the Jews to inscribe on Rocks the entire Torah. It could be an allusion to the fact that when building a home or doing a new endeavor – it should be founded on the principles of Torah. Meaning- Torah learning is heard in the house, the father learns himself and with his children, the children are sent to Torah schools, the parents consult a competent Orthodox Rabbi for major decisions – like which school their child should attend.

Learning from the Royal Family of England

We are the family – a royal family.

Royalty obliges royalty to act in a manner befitting them.

Things to learn from the Royal Family.

Story number one –

Once the royal family of England held a reception. Margaret Thatcher – then Prime Minister- attended. She was dismayed when she noticed that the queen was wearing the same dress as she was wearing. It was not proper respect for someone to wear the clothes same as the queen. She tried to find a way to be inconspicuous, but was unable. After the reception she wrote a letter to the queen excusing herself. The queen responded that she did not even notice she was wearing the same dress. Royalty is above little Petty details. Noblesse oblige.

Another story:

Once an Orthodox rabbi attended the Royal Banquet in England. He notified the staff that he only ate kosher and had special needs. The
staff made special Arrangements the rabbi to eat kosher. In the Royal banquets special cutlery and China is used that has the insignia of the
Royal Family. The staff arranged that he would have new silverware and China that was dipped in a Mikvah and obviously kosher food be served
to him.

Somehow seating arrangements changed and he had to move from his seat. To take the silverware and the China with him to the new seat would be uncomfortable for him to do in front of all the people. Nevertheless he took his China and his silverware to his new seat. Prince Charles (now the king) noticed him carrying his plate. After
the reception Prince Charles asked him why he carried his plates. The rabbi replied that he kept kosher and he had to take his special plates
that was arranged for him with him to assure that he ate kosher.


Prince Charles was impressed. Another Jew that was not observant of the Jewish laws of Kashrut / keeping kosher remarked to the prince “I
am also Jewish”. Prince Charles replied “I didn’t notice you carrying your plates to your new place.”

Two messages:

1 – Learn from nobility. We are the children of Israel. The children of Hashem. Thus we are also nobility. Nobility overlooks petty details.

2. By observing the Torah we gained favor in the eyes of others. But more importantly, we gain favor in the eyes concussion of Hashem.

How does G-d Forgive? Is G-d Fickle?

Mount Sinai?

Why are people Fickle? Apparently they want to make the best decision. Thus they search for more information. When they find it, they change their mind. It could be new information that changes their decision- it could be a whim, a mood change. OK. But said and done – apparently if they have all the information at their disposal- that will help them make their decision.

A person might encounter new information that alters their direction in life. This information was not before them – is that considered fickle? They made the best decision. Now they have another variable to deal with.

G-d has all information before him. He knows all past , present and future- thus he doesn’t change his mind.

Two things you can derive –

1. A person who follows a religion that says G-d gave the Torah to the Jews and then changed his mind – by choosing another people or – nullifying what He expects them to do (ie, nullified the responsibility to follow the commandments He gave at Mount Sinai) – must answer the question “Am I following a religion that assumes G-d is fickle?”

The Torah Stance : G-d in making the Torah commandments had all information at His disposal when He made the commandments of the Torah. He knew some people could follow all 613 commandments – and gave them for the Jewish nation. He gave 7 commandments (which are really 30) to people who can’t commit to doing the 613 – the 7 Noahide laws for all non-Jews / gentiles to follow.

A gentile can decide to become Jewish and then follow the 613 Laws. A Jew cannot relinquish their commandments. When each reaches the next world – Heaven – they will be judged based upon their respective laws. Based upon observing these laws – they with receive a portion in Heaven.

2 – How can G-d forgive if he doesn’t change his mind? When a person repents / does Teshuvah for not having followed in the pleasant path of the Torah – he or she is changing themselves. Thus they are not the same person as they were before Teshuvah. Now Hashem takes this information into account and forgives them.

G-d loves those that return to His path.

Happiness is a Choice


We control the horizontal.

We control the vertical.

We control the ups. We control the downs.

We control whether to have a left attitude or a right.

It is a statement in Chalzal (Chachamim Zichronam LiVracha – Our sages
of blessed memory.)

וְאָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא: הַכֹּל בִּידֵי שָׁמַיִם, חוּץ מִיִּרְאַת
שָׁמַיִם.

HaKol Bidei Shamayim – Hutz MeYirat Shamayim. (Talmud Berakhot : 33b)

Everything is in the Hands of Heaven – except the fear of heaven.

Meaning – how much money you make is in Hash-m’s hands. How tall you
will be. How long you will live.

But you have a choice on things that pertain to awe of heaven – whether
you will be angry or calm, or bitter or better, sad or happy, composed
or wild or a robber or a banker, to do good or bad.

This is called freedom of choice.

You choose whether to put your children into a public school or a Torah
day school. You choose whether to spend the day shopping or the day
with the family at the Shabbat table. G-d gives you the freedom.

If we had not this choice, we would basically be robots. We would not
be able to be judged for our deeds.

Some say – he made me angry! He made me do it!

No one makes you do anything. You choose.

Your situation doesn’t cause your mood.

Heaven causes your situation. You yourself choose your mood and
attitude.

So choose to be happy.

It is in your hands.

Happiness is a choice.

The Man who Converted to Judaism because of Shoes

I was speaking with a friend. He said people commented to him that they would observe Torah Judaism (a better name for Orthodox Judaism) if there weren’t as many prohibitions. He told them “But look at all the things you can do!”

I told him it’s much more than that. It’s that by doing Mitzvot you improve your world tremendously. By doing Shabbat – one person will say – I can’t do it. I can’t drive.. I can’t go shopping. I can’t light a fire. I can’t use the phone, internet, other media and electronic games

But really, by not doing all those things you are guided to spend time with your friends and family. you are guided to focus on priorities in life. After 120 years, when a person is about to die he or she will not say, it is too bad I should have shopped more. They will say it’s too bad I would have liked to spend more time with loved ones.

Doing Mitzvot you change the world for the good. You have more meaning for every mitzvah that you do. Every mitzvah is an opportunity to improve. it’s a beracha – blessing.

A religion or movement that tries to reduce the commandments from people is completely missing the point. Every mitzvah is an opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with others and with Hashem. why do I want to limit connection?

A man converted to Judaism. Asked “why?” – he responded “there is a mitzvah – commandment (rabbinical ) to tie your shoes a particular way. I wanted to be in a religion that G-d is with me even agent I tie my shoes.”

The Enemy Between You & Your Spouse (or Friend)

I was listening to a shiur / Lecture of Rabbi Meir Eliyahu (in Hebrew) on the subject of Improving Personal Character traits (הרב מאיר אליהו | תיקון המידות שלך | משכן יהודה – התשפ״ב) . He talked about a small pamphlet he picked up in Florida on Kiruv / to motivate a person to do teshuva. He said the pamphlet talked about Alice in Wonderland. I didn’t know the story. But apparently – Alice ate a mushroom. Then she fell asleep. When she woke up – she saw a cat. The cat asked her “Where do you want to go? – right or left.” She responded “I don’t know.” The cat then said to her “If you don’t know where you want to go – any path will get you there.”

That was the message – that if a person has no goal, or objective in life he or she will follow any path and apparently get to no where special. If a person has goals – it will help them to achieve in life.

The Torah provides many mitzvot (commandments) for Jews (613 commandments) and Non-Jews. (7 Noahaide Laws). These laws allow a person to achieve several things – a pleasant life – the ways of Torah are ways of pleasantness. A life of connection to oneself, to others and G-d. A life of meaning. A life that has purpose and where one achieves purpose. Rabbi Eliyahu mentions that in a Sefer / of the Vilna Gaon – he says that the purpose of life is to break one’s character traits. If a person is an angry person – G-d wants him or her to become a more calm person. If they are stingy – they are to work on becoming more generous.

My Rebbe used to say – a person’s mind should control his heart – not the other way around. The way of Torah is of Peace.

So now you know. Your goal – break those bad character traits. Assure peace in the Home. Try to act pleasant.

Rabbi Eliyahu said that one who yields to the will of others (in things not against Torah) will live longer. It makes logical sense – because he or she will let things slide, let it pass, not take it personally – and live a less stressful life. But also Has-m will grant the person a longer life. In the Zohar – Rav Krospedai died. He, a great scholar, told the heavenly court – he was cut off in the prime of his life, he had much more correcting to do. He wanted to come back in the same body. They granted him his wish. Why? Because he was Maavir al Midotav – he “passed over his character traits” – ie, he let things go. He held no grudges. He forgave and forgot.

Ok – so where is that enemy?

The Torah teaches us of our greatest enemy. It is an enemy that wants our destruction in this world and the next. He is the snake. He is that voice in your head – telling you “don’t take that from your spouse”, “answer them back”, “put them back in their place” and the such to create quarrel – not peace. We call it the “Yetzer HaRa'” / the evil inclination.

Everyone has one. The greater the person the greater the Yetzer. Before this entity was a physical snake. When Hava / Eve and Adam ate from the tree of Knowledge it became ingrained in her and him.

So now you have an enemy – the Yetzer HaRa. Your wife has the same enemy – the Yetzer HaRa’. Think of this – let’s say you had an acquaintance that was a family acquaintance. He or she would come to your house. When your wife would have a qualm – they would rile her up and add fuel to the fire. When you were upset – they would do the same to you to escalate the heated exchange to higher heights.

The smart person would not get angry at their spouse. They would kick that acquaintance out of the house. Your new option – don’t get back at your spouse – kick the Yetzer HaRa’ out of the house – your mind. He/She instigates – you cool things down. He tells you get angry – you think “If I answer her/him back – I will not have peace for 10 hours. (or more) I might as well swallow my pride and do something more productive with my time.”

Hash-m also gave us the Yetzer HaTov – Good inclination – telling you “calm down”, “be patient”, “this will also pass”, “say something to calm things down”, “create peace”.The idea is to listen to the Yetzer HaTov – not the Yetzer HaRa’.

Do it for a more peaceful existence. And Remember to learn Mussar – Jewish ethical works like Pirkei Avot – and your headed on the right path.

 

 

 

Learning Lessons from Lego

It was a camp raffle. The prize – a new Lego set – Truck and command center. The little boy davened / prayed to Hash-m. He won.

He asked his father to build it with him.

His father – reluctantly followed him to the Lego set sprawled out on the sheet.

When he started he got into building. The father started telling his son “pass me this piece.” until finally he finished the truck.

Nice True story.

What do you learn?

Firstly – it is important to connect with children. It is not just giving them the toy – but helping them to build it. You are not just building Lego. You are building a relationship. Connect with things that he or she are interested in.

Also – prayer of a pure child or a sincere prayer to Hash-m / G-d works. The child prayed & won the set. We can pray too – even for little things – a parking space, that you can find one more bottle of your favorite drink, that you pass that test…

Sometimes you don’t want to do something. You take the first step and you get into it. Many don’t want to step into an Orthodox synagogue. Take a step in. Ask the rabbi to learn something with you.

Things you can learn from Lego:

Build one vehicle at a time. – choose a task and concentrate on that task. Better to work on it than to multi task.

Dump the Lego pieces on a sheet – put all the pieces you need in one place so that you can easily complete the task and not lose one – or lose your time searching for it in the middle of a task.

Separate Lego into piles of similar colors. Then separate the large pieces and small pieces. This will help you find the pieces you search for more quickly. – Separate your tasks into similar tasks. separate large tasks ad small tasks. Do the easy tasks first. Or break the big tasks into digestible smaller tasks. When you see the small tasks – the big task doesn’t see the task as so daunting.

It says in the Torah – I forgot the source – that when people will go to the next world – the achievers and non-achievers will cry. The achievers will see all that they accomplished as a big mountain and cry and say – wow I can’t believe I accomplished all that.

The non-achievers will see what they could have accomplished as a small mound and cry and say – wow i didn’t know it was so easy to accomplish that which I thought was so hard.

You can do it. Just break it down and take the first step.

Your Personal Messages from G-d

G-d communicates with us daily. We just have to understand His messages.

When in Israel, someone asked me for a donation. I checked my pockets – no change to be found. I wanted to give. He then said to me in Hebrew “Yesh Bo Mamash.” There is something there. In Hebrew – the word “Mamash” is spelled Mem-Mem-Shin. Those are my Hebrew initials. Apparently he didn’t know that. He was telling me there was money in my pocket.

I thought of the message – perhaps Hash-m was telling me – You have capabilities – Mamash.

So I took the statement – that may have offended others in the positive way.

If you listen to the messages and hear what happens to you daily – you can understand where Hash-m wants to guide you or test you.

If someone asks you for a donation – it might mean that you need a kapara / an atonement or a zechut / merit. Or perhaps G-d simply wants you to give you an opportunity to do a mitzvah.

In Morocco – once a rabbi saw a person with a sign of death on his face. He went up to him to ask him for Charity. Charity saves from death. He pleaded with him to give charity to save him. I don’t think he gave in the end. I don’t know the rest of the story.

Even if you pass a person talking with a friend and you over hear them saying “Your friend is so generous.” It might be a message for you – either in the positive way – that you are also generous – or perhaps you should work on your generosity.

The other day a rabbi told me a story. He said that someone told him that people should be more generous in giving blessings to others. He said he took it to heart. He was sitting at someones house – and children were kind of looking for attention and running around him. A bit annoyed – instead of screaming at them – he shouted “Zei Gezunt!” “Be Healthy” in Yiddish. The children continued running around him and started also yelling “Zei Gezunt.”

I took it as a message that perhaps I should be more flowing with blessings and positivity and compliments.

Convincing the Atheist of G-d – by

Belief in G-d is logical.

You have two choices to explain the existence of the world:

1) The World was created by a Highly Intelligent Creator that keeps it going daily.

2) The World was formed and continues to function through random atoms and molecules combining in perfect formations every single second.

It seems that Solution One is much more logical. The World shows Intelligent Design.

Solution two is impossible.

Agreeing with solution two is slightly akin to one saying he put plastic and metal in a blender – and an iphone came out – operating system included – with the latest apps and updates.

But people who already convinced themselves of non-belief in G-d for any reason – like, they would prefer not to know that G-d exists because it would put a damper on their pursuit of pleasures – unless, they are very honest & seek truth – would be hard to convince. They already made up in their mind they don’t want to believe.

What’s the problem with atheists? They are doing bad to themselves – because they could reach a higher level of reaching their potential if they did believe.

Exploring Truth

Torah Judaism is not afraid of questions. Truth is not afraid of questions. On the contrary Torah welcomes and encourages questions. That is the way you learn. In general a person learns Torah in a Chevruta – one-to-one. This allows learners to ask questions and sound out possibilities to get to truth.

Experiencing G-d

I was talking to someone and they told me that a rabbi found a different way to convince the non-believers of belief in G-d. He shows them nature. He explains that nature is a manifestation of G-d’s ways. By experiencing nature – you experience the greatness of G-d in a tangible way.

Bring them on a hiking or boating trip. Bring yourself on a nature trip and appreciate the wonders of G-d.