Joshua be Nimble – How to Revamp & Relocate Quickly in Changing Times

It was a Motzi Shabbat / After Shabbat. Yehoshua (Joshua’s Hebrew name) comes in to the synagogue after the Avot Ubanim program (where fathers learn Torah together with their sons). He announces He is moving to Florida in 3 days. We were astounded by this quick decision. He had a great opportunity and decided to take it up.

In New York He had financial success, a nice house, his children were in a Torah Day School. He was appreciated in the community. He loved his Rabbi & Synagogue. He had learning sessions / a chevruta in a local Yeshiva with a friend. But he thought – this is a great opportunity. Some encouraged him – and wished him well. Others told him to take time to think about it.

He planned it out – He found a place in Florida. He found an Orthodox synagogue in his new neighborhood. He found a Torah Day school for his children. He found a little community in his new neighborhood. He would take care of selling his former house by an agent.

In several days he made a major life move.

What can we learn?

People are at times stuck. They are stuck with their attitude. They are stuck in a dead end job or relationship. They are stuck in their neighborhood – not because it is best for them – but out of habit. People are averse to change.

Many people left New York recently – I heard over 300,000. I guess the gains of living in NY were outweighed by the benefits of living elsewhere.

Adopting a New Attitude

Today’s times are quickly changing. We can learn from Joshua to move when a good opportunity arises. Or when a new attitude arises. The Torah has many great ways of living a more meaningful existence. A great place to start is by learning Pirkei Avot / Ehics of the Fathers. Shrugging them off we lose a great opportunity.

The Great Aliya in times of Mashiach

Also the events of these times signal and the great Rabbis say that we are in the times close to Mashiach / the Messiah. Miraculous events that will happen will be greater – than those that happened when we left Egypt. There will be a parallel also – just like the Jews of Egypt were asked to leave Egypt to go to the Promised Land – Israel – the Jews will be asked by the Messiah to relocate to Israel. I guess we should learn from Yehoshua – to be light and grab the opportunity. Those that are attached to their houses, Jobs, school, circle of friends, etc. will have to make a choice. Will they chose a golden opportunity to live a more spiritually satisfying life – or remain attached to their material property.

Be Light like the Eagle

This is what Pirkei Avot / Ehics of the Fathers (Chapter 5:20) means :

Be Bold to Do the Will of G·d

20. Yehuda ben Tema says: Be bold like the leopard & light like the nesher [king of birds] & quick like the deer & strong like the lion to do the Will of your Father in Heaven.

Let’s learn to be lighter in our improving our life. Some people were tempted to relinquish the possibility of growing spiritually in Torah and Mitzvoth – and the beautiful life it entails – for a pack of chiclets.

I heard when a certain mountain was supposed to erupt. They knew it beforehand. They warned the surrounding towns and villages to evacuate. Some residents interviewed – they would not relocate. Asked why? They replied – I was living here all my life.

Be Nimble. Be Quick. And Don’t jump over the candlestick. Jump over the attitude stick.

The Four Sons of the Haggada. Which Son Are You? – The Ultimate Guide for Self-Improvement

“Blessed is Hashem. Blessed is He. That He gave Torah to His people Israel. The Torah talked about the four sons – one wise, one wicked, one one simple and one that doesn’t know how to ask.”

A person reading the Hagada on Passover will usually ask – who am I out of all these sons? Am I the Wise? The Wicked?

Really each one of us has a trait of each son in us. At times we fall to our temptations – so we have the trait of the wicked son. At time we act with wisdom – thus we are like the wise son. At times we act as the the other two.

So what is the solution? How do we Become more wise and less wicked, less simple and more ethically educated?

There is a concept in Torah Hash-m Makdim Refual LaMaka – Hash-m provides the cure before the illness.

The Ultimate Guide for Self-Improvement

What is the proper cure to having the attributes of the four sons – The Torah.

As first in the Hagada it says :

“Blessed is Hashem. Blessed is He. That He gave Torah to His people Israel.

then it says:

The Torah talked about the four sons – one wise, one wicked, one one simple and one that doesn’t know how to ask.”

 

 

I Want to Be Free! Are You there Yet? / The Message of Passover

We are in the holiday of Passover – the Holiday of Freedom.

The Goal of A Jewish Holiday

Observing a Jewish Holiday entails that we achieve something – to greater ourselves or others.

Like a trip. When traveling – we think a vacation or outing is merely a pastime  to enjoy life. Though that is part of it, there is a greater goal to your vacation. We are to achieve a certain goal – that with our qualities we will be able to better someone else’s life. Perhaps it is saying a nice word, perhaps it is giving a poor person some money to buy a meal.

On Passover – apparently one of our goals is to become a free person.

Let’s examine freedom.

There are various levels of freedom. Freedom of movement. Freedom of thought. Freedom of expression.

Even achieving all the above freedoms – one can still lack freedom.

The Difference Between Preference and Choice

Many a time a person mistakes freedom of choice for preference. Preference is one thing – choice is another.

Preference is choosing between – chocolate and vanilla. A Blue shirt or a Green shirt. Yet a person that exercises his or her preferences is not necessarily free. We would not say a cow that chooses between hay or grass is free.

He prefers grass to hay.

So what is choice? It is having an option of choosing good or evil and choosing the good. That is real choice. For On one hand you want to follow your desire. On the other hand your thought process figures that following it will result in negative consequences. That’s real choice.

Freedom from Desires

A person can be subjugated to their desires. They desire a milk shake – they drink it, even though they took upon themselves a diet. Their desires of wanting the shake overcame their thought – that it was proper to go on a diet. They fell into subjugation of desires. For that moment – although they enjoyed the shake – they were subjugated to their desires – and lacked freedom at that moment.

Freedom from Society

A person can be subjugated by their desires, by their emotions – the person with a bad temper or even by their philosophy in life – their mentality. You were brought up a certain way. Now you have a certain mentality that drives your decisions. Many mentalities exist – animal rights mentality, women’s rights mentality, same gender mentality, fight the infidels mentality, anti-zionist mentality, anti-jewish mentality, do kindness to others mentality.

So which is right? Apparently – if one thought deeply into each of them they would be able to find many detriments in that mentality.

Let’s take animal rights mentality. Once I gave a class – I asked If you had a million dollars and you could spend it to save the life of a race horse who tripped or an old lady who tripped – how would you spend it? One woman answered – I’d save the horse. Obviously, that woman’s mentality makes her subjugated – because she places the life of an animal above that of a human being.

Take the “same-gender marriage support” mentality. Is it a good thing or bad? Apparently it is bad. Why? Let me ask you two questions. What is the greatest insult you could say to a person. That they should die? Probably. Someone – who supports this type of marriage is condoning these people who marry – not to have common children. Besides their deeds, one of the legacies of a person is the children they leave. Those who support this marriage, condone these people to not leaving a legacy. The second question – does it make you happy when your friend has children or not? Apparently yes. If you like your friend, you like that they have children that have similar characteristics. So those that do support same gender marriage only look on the surface benefits. They do not go into the deeper issues.

The Ultimate Freedom

So how can you be free? The only one who knows what is ultimately completely good for man is G-d. He thought out all the mentalities and is able to tell what is for the good of man and what is not.

Everybody in the world is dependent upon G-d for their existence. G-d is the only independent existence in the world.

Aligning our thoughts and actions with His desires makes us truly free. How do we know the thoughts and wants of G-d? His thoughts are found in the Torah – the only divine document given in the presence of millions of witnesses.

Following G-d’s laws one attains a higher level of freedom. For our decisions Jews ask a competent orthodox rabbi.

Returning the Ring

A true story. Once a queen lost her ring. She made an ultimatum. If the one who would find it would return it within 30 days, they would receive a reward. If they would return it after 30 days they would be put to death. A rabbi found the ring within the 30 days. He waited till after the reward period and returned the ring. The queen questioned him: “Why did you wait till after the 30 days? Did you not know about the ultimatum?” He replied: “I knew fully well about the ultimatum. But We have a Torah law from G-d to return lost objects / Hashavat Aveida to their rightful owners. I did not want to return it because of your ultimatum – I wanted to return it because the Torah says to return lost objects.”

Give me freedom or Give me death.

Apparently in the world, people do come upon certain Jewish Torah concepts. John Adams said “Give me Liberty or Give Me death.” That is a Torah concept. Apparently the rabbi in the story above knew that concept. He risked his life to be able to live with the freedom offered in the Torah.

Torah Learning brings Freedom

Apparently that freedom described above is the explanation of the Mishna in Pirkei Avot (6:2)

Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi said: “Every single day a heavenly voice comes out from Mount Horeb [Sinai], & proclaims & says: “Woe to the Mankind for the disgrace to the Torah!” [that they neglect learning & practicing it], for whoever does not occupy himself with Torah is called “reproached” [nazuf] as it says: “A ring [nezem] of gold [zahav] in the nose [af] of a swine is a beautiful woman that turned away from reason.” (Mishle 11:22) & it says: “And the tablets [of the Law – the ten commandments], they are the work of G·d – & the writing is the writing of G·d – engraved [h’arut] on the tablets” (Shemot 32:16) Do not read [it as] “h’arut” [engraved] rather as “h’erut” [freedom]. For the only one who is considered to be a free person is one who engages in Torah Study. And whoever engages in Torah Study, behold they are elevated as it says: “And from Matanah [name of place meaning – a gift – ie, of the Torah] to Nachliel [name of place meaning – My inheritance is in G·d] & Nachliel to Bamot [name of place meaning – high altars].” (Bamidbar 21:19)

Judaism – gives a person the opportunity to be free every single moment.