You Stole the Cookie from The Cookie Jar – How do I Fix it?

Do Good.

Don’t do bad.

Got the warning too late?

You did the bad deed?

Now what?

Is it really bad?

First of all ask : Is what you did really bad in G-d’s “eyes”?

If you don’t know the answer to that question – ask a competent Orthodox Rabbi.

G-d told us what is good and bad in The Torah – the only divine law that was given by G-d before millions of witnesses.

A Jew learns what is right and wrong from the Shulchan Aruch  / the Set Table and 613 Commandments of the Torah (see Sefer Mitzvot Gedolot, Mitzvat Hinukh, Sefer HaMitzvot).

A gentile determines what is bad and good from the 7 Noahide commandments from the Torah / Sheva’ Mitzvot B’nai Noach.

The Torah Laws for Gentiles are 7. These 7 are major categories and have Mitzvot / commandments related to them. The accepted number of commandments that are “under” the category of 7 is 30. Dr. Aaron Lichtenstein in his book “The Laws of Noah” found sources for 66 commandments that non-Jews are to observe. (perhaps one day we will publish them)

Perhaps a non-Jew ate pork. For a gentile – this is not forbidden. No use for a gentile to feel guilty for something G-d does not consider bad. For a Jew it is forbidden. Why? That’s another story.

How Bad is it?

Stealing a nickel is not as bad as stealing a person’s life savings. OK one fell to temptation and took those new office supplies from work. (For your info these are the top stolen supplies : Post-It Notes, Paper Clips, Tape, Scissors, Toilet Paper, Copier Paper, USB Memory Sticks, Notepads, Pens, Pencils & Highlighters)

Yes it is bad that one did bad, but G-d doesn’t wants the person to be punished – He wants them to do teshuva and better their ways.

Because a person did bad in one area of life it does not mean that they are evil. They fell into the trap in one area of life. A person can be evil in one area of life but righteous in other areas. Because someone stole some paper clips it doesn’t make him into a high scale criminal. Even a person who does evil regularly – G-d does not want their death – he wants them to improve his or her ways. This is what we call teshuva. (Repentance). You can Start a New Page in Life. Repentance – according to the RAMBAM / Maimonides – is 4 different steps: 1. Regret the Misdeed, 2. Confession to Hash-m about it, 3. Stop Doing the Misdeed. 4. Commitment not to do the deed again.

Can You make amends?

Is it something repairable or replaceable? If you stole your friend’s cookie and ate it – buy him or her another one. Let them know and make amends – and make back your friends.

Be wise! Apologize. It’s Better than replaying the same guilt trip in your mind over and over.

Once a bag merchant cheated people by giving them less bags than said in the packaging. Instead of giving buyers 100 bags as said on the box – he would give 96. People wouldn’t pay attention. He felt badly for his misdeed and decided to start anew. He decided to make up for cheating people he would pack more than 100 bags in each box. After his Teshuva – A big company was looking for a bag distributor. They decided to check the number of bags packed by various bag manufacturers. They counted the bags he provided and he got the contract.

Intentional or Unintentional?

An unintentional misdeed is not as bad as an intentional one.

Ask: Was the deed done intentionally or unintentionally? Intentional is that one knows it is wrong but did it anyway. Unintentional can be that you thought it was permitted or you made a mistake – ie, you took a coat that you thought was yours.

Feeling Badly for Misdeed is a Good Sign

If you feel badly for what you did that is already a good sign – it shows that you are cognizant of good and bad. You already did one of the first steps of Teshuva – regret (see above).

Don’t Do Something Worse than what you did!

Unfortunately we hear in the news people who kill themselves because of their doing a misdeed or even being accused of a misdeed. The suicide is worse than the misdeed itself. One who did something bad should go see an orthodox rabbi and talk to him about how to go about Teshuva process.

Killing oneself is one of the worst deeds. Why? Because killing a person is forbidden. Killing a person who is close family is worse. Killing oneself is even worse.

So don’t do a deed that is worse than what you already did. Improve yourself. Commit not to do it again. Say sorry to the people you hurt. Make amends and say sorry to Hash-m and continue your life as a penitent person.

If a person does Teshuva from fear of punishment – G-d forgives their sins. A person who does teshuva because he or she loves Hash-m / G-d and is upset that they went against Him – their sins become mitzvot (merits).

Three People are Forgiven All of Their Sins

Aside from people who sincerely repent – three others receive forgiveness – one who reaches a new position of greatness (ie, they become a ruler), a person who gets married and a person who converts to Judaism. These three people take upon themselves new responsibilities in the world and G-d gives them a clean slate to start with.

Both Jew and Gentile receive a portion in Olam HaBa / The World to Come / or Heaven based upon their deeds in this world. This place is determined based upon their observance of their particular commandments as mentioned above and the good deeds they did in their lifetime. (See sources here.) Their place in the next world (ie, basement or top floor) will depend upon  their observance of these laws.

Every person who did transgress – Jew or Gentile – can Do Teshuva / Repent.

The challenges of life are to help a person to become better. Failed – by doing a misdeed? Do Teshuva. Improve and Try again. You’ll become person in the end.

Depression – A Springboard to Happiness? Curing the Suffering of the Soul.

Depression.

A Dark Corridor in the Path of life. Can you bring the light back?

Yes – if you want to.

Everything can be viewed as good and be used for the good. Even Depression.

If it serves as a springboard for bettering oneself – it can be used for the good.

People feel depressed because of chemical imbalances or other reasons that they cannot pinpoint or perhaps they can pinpoint.

The first point to overcome depression is to find the cause. At times one would need a professional psychologist. I tend to shy away from that – because I feel many a time a person can get back on their feet themselves.

But if a person feels they may harm themselves or others – they should seek help from a relative or friend or a professional or a competent Orthodox rabbi.

The advantage in a competent Orthodox rabbi is that he has the viewpoint of the Torah that gives him a larger view of the problem and the solution.

Finding the Cause

The four steps of solving a problem are:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What are the causes of the problem?
  3. What are solutions?
  4. what are the best possible solutions?

Sorting the causes, symptoms

One might think a symptom is actually a cause or a cause is a symptom.

For instance perhaps a person feels that the fact that they are not married leads them to depression. Perhaps it is the depression that is causing them not to be married. They can’t show a cheery disposition to potential mates – so the potential suitors or mates may become turned off. It might be a catch-22 situation.

Perhaps they feel that their dead end job is causing them to be depressed. Perhaps it is not their job – but that they are not performing to acceptable levels of efficiency or effectiveness.

Perhaps their cause is really a reason that is linked to something more deep.

The Evil & Good Inclination

Really – the bottom line is that one chooses to be depressed or not. There is a concept in Judaism called the evil inclination & the good inclination. The evil inclination causes a person negative thoughts. The good inclination causes a person positive thoughts.

You Choose Happiness

The evil inclination wants a person to be depressed. Why? It wants the destruction of man in this world and the next. So he places negative thoughts in your mind that you can choose to listen to or to disregard or contradict.

It might tell you in your mind “You are a nobody!’

so you can fall into the trap and think “I am a nobody”

or you can counter and say “I am a great person!”

It might cast into your mind “You can’t!’

so you can mistakenly think “I can’t!”

or you can counter and say “Yes I Can!”

It might cast into your mind “Your doing such a bad job!’

so you can mistakenly think “I’m doing badly!”

or you can counter and say “I’m doing great!”

One Simple mind technique – counter the negative thoughts with the positive.

The Real You – Is the cause a Material cause or a Spiritual cause

One of the first question a person should ask is “who am I?” Am I just a body or do I also have a soul?

Judaism knows a person has a soul. Logic also concurs with this point of view – for what animates a person? It must be a soul – otherwise there is no reason for a person to be inanimate as a chair – unless there is an “engine” animating him or her.

So really a person is a soul. There are various parts of the soul. The Nefesh, Ru-ah’, Neshama, Chaya, Yehida.

The Nefesh animates a person or animals. It is the lowest part of the soul. The Ruach – apparently allows a person to speak. The Neshama has a higher spiritual calling – to cling to G-d.

Why should you know this?

Because since you are a soul – if a person is depressed – it emanates from one of these souls.

Thus at times a sadness or depression can be caused by a suffering of the soul. Thus Repentance can help the depressed soul. By a person starting over & wiping the slate clean – it can help them remove their depression. Sometimes transgressions sully the soul and make it more difficult to feel a connection to G-d. The soul’s greatest desire is to make be connected with Hash-m. How does one Wipe the slate clean? Start by learning Torah that applies to you as Jew or the Torah’s Noahide laws – if you are a Gentile.

Obviously the material causes should also be dealt with. For example, If one sees they are not finding the right mate for getting married – perhaps one has to spend more time on the phone trying to find a suitable mate from matchmakers.

The soul’s connection to Spirituality.

A person feels a lacking. They want spirituality. They may either know this – that they need spirituality or they may think “I feel sad but I can’t pinpoint the reason”. Or they pinpoint the reason but they attribute it to a material cause – when it is really a spiritual cause that is causing their suffering.

Dealing with that spiritual suffering may also not only remove the suffering but also solve the problem. We’ll give an example.

A person is sad that they are not married. It is understandable from a material standpoint – in the fact that a person wants a productive, sharing & loving relationship. From a spiritual standpoint – it is understandable for a person to be depressed – because the soul wants to fulfill Mitzvot to help them be closer to G-d. One mitzvah of the Torah – for Jews and Non-Jews is to be fruitful & multiply. To have children that will populate the world.

So we can learn from this a person in a dead end relationship where the man or woman does not want to commit to marriage – or perhaps one does not want to have children – might cause depression because they are not fulfilling the commandment of being fruitful & multiplying – which causes the soul to be sad.

The solution – strengthen one’s commitment to observing the Torah’s commandments for Jews or Gentiles. This will in essence 1. make the soul happier. 2. make a person more deserving to find a worthy soul mate and thus help you attract higher quality prospective mates. If you do the commandments – G-d will match you with someone on your level. My advice to Jewish singles thus is to reinforce themselves in Torah Study & Mitzvot and make an effort to find a worthy mate. Apparently this also Gentiles – if they reinforce themselves in observing the Seven Noahide Laws from the Torah – G-d will help them find a more worthy mate.

Or perhaps a person is sad because of their dead end job. Jews & Gentiles have a commandment to build the world. If a person is not producing and they are sad about it, it might mean they (and their soul) are sad because they are not fulfilling the commandment to build the world. The person might think they are sad because they are in a dead end-job. But really they are sad is because they are not fulfilling the commandment of building the world.

Time will Heal

A person who was a manic depressive went to King Solomon. He asked for a ring that would make him happy when sad and calm when happy. Solomon made a ring that said “Also this will pass.”

Time heals wounds. It also takes time to return to happiness. If one works on oneself regularly and follows good advice it can take shorter. But usually depression does not change over night. It takes time – so be patient with yourself and others.

The Error of Searching For Spirituality in Exotic Places

A big error that people make is to search for spirituality in places that make them feel spiritual. Feeling spiritual does not mean a person is actually spiritual. It means that they feel spiritual. Whatever that means.

The Real Spirituality

Real spirituality is feeling close to the One and Only Creator of the Universe – G-d. The Jews call Him Hash-m. That is the definition of spirituality – being close to G-d.

to really be spiritual one must determine two things:

1. One must be able to find the real G-d

2. One must be able to find the real path to G-d.

This is rather easy to determine through logic.

(See our article: What G-d wants From You)

Here is a brief way to find out both – The real G-d is the only G-d that appeared to millions of people at Mount Sinai. All other human conceptions of “god” were never followed by a national revelation. Thus the G-d of the Jews is the real G-d.

The path to find G-d is to follow the Rules that G-d gave when he appeared to millions of people at Mount Sinai. The Torah. The Torah has laws for Jews and Gentiles (Non-Jews). Gentiles follow their laws – the Seven Noahide laws – to gain a place in heaven. They do not have to convert to Judaism to gain a place in heaven. They just have to follows the Noahide laws because the Torah says so. If a Gentile so wishes – they can decide to convert to becoming Jewish.

So all following of the other cults and paths is like shooting an arrow in the wind. Why take a circuitous route – when the path is simple and clear?

The reason I say this, is not because I was born as a religious Jew. I investigated, had good experiences and bad, did Mitzvot and transgressed, did good and bad, did right and wrong – was correct and made errors. With Hash-m’s help – my beacon – Logic, reasoning and common sense helped me to come to these conclusions.

And G-d Said “let there be Light”

In Parashat (Torah Reading) of Noach (Noah) we read G-d commanding Noah to make an Ark to save himself from the flood. He says make a skylight for the ark. (In Hebrew – Tzhohar Ta’aseh LaTeva). Tzohar means illumination. Teva in Hebrew means Ark. Teva also means words.

צהר תעשה לתבה ואל־אמה תכלנה מלמעלה ופתח התבה בצדה תשים תחתים שנים ושלשים תעשה

Make an opening for daylight in the ark, and terminate it within a cubit of the top. Put the entrance to the ark in its side; make it with bottom, second, and third decks. (Genesis / Bereshit 6:16)

Rav Nachman of Breslev in Likutei Mo’hran (112:1) Says the main point in making light to your words – means to search for truth. Because the seal of G-d is truth. Truth is like light. If a person is stuck in a dark room – and he finds not the door – he needs light. Light will illuminate the dark room to allow himself a way out of the darkness. If one follows truth – they can also find a way out of their own personal darkness.

In Tehillim / Proverbs (6:23) it says

A Mitzvah is a Candle and The Torah is Light. Some read Tehillim / Psalms to get out of darkness. Some learn Torah. Torah is one light that can help you out of the darkness.

 

With Whom are you Really Angry? Why Hate & Anger are Different

Hating those who Do not agree with You

The other day I was on a Clip-art site. Someone posted a piece of art that was against same-gender marriage. Some of the other artists jumped on this person – calling him a hater, a “racist” and other hateful terms. I thought of analyzing the comment conversation. This person basically posted the opinion of the Torah. Same-gender marriage or relations are forbidden for Jews and Gentiles. Because I don’t agree with a person – I don’t have to hate him or call him a hater.

Respect the Person – but not the Opinion

Because a person has another opinion than you – the Torah says you must respect the person but not his point of view. I am against many things that people do. But I do try to respect them as people. Perhaps one day they also will come to understand that The Torah was given for man to perfect himself or herself. The Torah was given to have better personal relations.

Jews hate the sin – not the Sinner

Jews don’t hate the people who do commit these acts. In reality we feel badly for them.

Figuring Out the Reason for G-d’s Position

An intelligent person will think “If this law about Homosexuality (or any other Torah law) is in the Torah that was written by G-d – so there must be some Justifications against it.” You just have to figure it out – if you don’t understand.

Taking the Underdog’s position vs. Understanding G-d’s position

People usually take the – feel bad for the underdog approach. That is good. G-d also takes the side of the underdog. But First the intelligent way to pursue is to take the opinion of G-d as stated by the Torah. And if I don’t understand – or don’t agree – my opinion should defer to G-d’s opinion – for He knows more than me.

Putting Words in G-d’s Mouth

Some do the opposite. They to force words into G-d’s mouth – see the conservative, reform and other movements. G-d gave the Torah. It is forbidden to drive on Shabbat. The other movements said “No. It is better that people be able to drive to synagogue.”

G-d Knows Best

That law spelled the destruction of these movements. People who drove on Shabbat – drove right passed the synagogue into the shopping center. Or drove to another synagogue abandoning their local synagogue.  Many of their congregations fell into disuse – because they changed the law of G-d. n the Torah itself it says – do not add or subtract from the laws.

Why Some Hate

Some hate Jews because they think they can’t live up to G-d’s Torah laws. So they hate – to justify their unwillingness to submit to G-d’s will. The Jews take the blows for their unwillingness to follow Torah. But we will be rewarded for it. In any case a person should understand why they hate a person and try to make peace with themselves – by understanding the other person.

Not hating Others

A Jew should not hate another Jew. The only time that it is warranted to hate another Jew is if they sin to anger G-d. Most people are not in that category. The reason why most people in the world do not follow Torah is ignorance. Most Jews today are in the category of Tinok Shenishba / a child that was taken captive at a young age – so they are not fully responsible for their lack of observance.

Learn Torah to Progress

Personally, I think if Jews did start learning Torah – they would start to observe at least some aspect of it. A very important point is – that if certain aspects of Torah are too challenging for a person to adhere to at this moment –  a person should not reject Torah on that basis. They should be mature enough to say – that aspect is above my ability for now but i will strive in other aspects that are easier until I can.

Wrong Attitude Towards Torah

Unfortunately, many years ago – people said – let’s attract more people to Torah by changing the Torah’s laws. That is mistake number 1. Why? Because Torah was given by G-d before millions of witnesses. So its divinity is difficult to challenge. No other religions claims that their “bible” was given by G-d to millions of people. Only Judaism.

So to disagree or want to change the laws of G-d is counter productive. G-d thought out his law more than anyone who tried to find reasons to disregard Torah.

Concrete Examples

A Jew is to follow 613 commandments of the Torah. A Gentile is to follow 7 major categories of laws called the Noahide Laws / Sheva Mitvzot Benei Noach.

In the Torah Killing is prohibited. Why because G-d said so. In Nazi Germany they made laws to allow killings of Jews. If laws aren’t based upon the word of G-d as stated in the Torah – killing can be justified – like many religions did so in the past to further their cause – like in the inquisition, the crusades, the intifada, etc. Their laws are not based upon Torah – so they justify Killing innocent people.

The Torah says hate the sin not the sinner. Hate the philosophy – if it is against Torah. But not the people. If G-d says something you do not understand in the Torah – ask a reputable Torah scholar to explain. They will. Hating a person for an opinion is contrary to Torah – unless they are spiteful against G-d. Try to Understand the Position of G-d and live a more peaceful and lucrative life.

Many people who were the haters – what did they accomplish? Hatred. Anyone can do that. Making a better world through Torah is really our Job. Jews have the 613 commandments & Gentiles the Torah’s Noahide laws. That is the real starting point for a better world.