Parasha / Weekly Torah Weeding Vayishlach talks about the encounter of Yaakov / Jacob – with his brother Esav / Esau. He sends angels to Esav – to calm him after all these years of animosity. He tells the angels say – that “Jacob – your Servant…” He mentions that the angels should tell Esav that he, Yaakov, is his servant eight times. Because of this Esav has eight kings before Yaakov had even one king.
The lesson is not to lose our control, not to look down upon ourselves in other people’s eyes. We should have a healthy amount of self-respect, self-esteem and self-confidence. When we look down upon ourselves or put ourselves down we lose. Hash-m wants us to believe in ourselves and think highly of ourselves. It is more important to know our qualities than to know our deficiencies.
Further in the parasha (Bereshit/Genesis 32:23), Yaakov is faulted for putting his daughter in a box – so that Esav would not cast his eyes upon her and want to marry her. She was a righteous girl, while Esav was involved in the worst sins. So how could he be faulted? One answer is that Yaakov should have felt badly when he locked her in the box. Another answer was that – each time Yaakov bowed – when he bowed seven times to Esav – he reduced his shells that prevented him from serving Hashem. Esav – was cleared of his evil side for a short time and then it would have been easier for his wife to turn him around completely.
Two things we learn – even a wicked person can do a complete turn around and start following Torah again and be considered righteous. Another thing – that a woman can trun around her husband to do good or bad. Thus choose a righteous wife that follows Torah.
It says “Who is a Kosher Woman? The wife that does the will of her husband.” It can be interpreted simply as understood. But another way to interpret it – is who is a Kosher woman? One that makes the will of her husband (to do good).
Once a rabbi wanted to marry a woman. He said “In our family the husband is the head.” The woman replied “In our family – the wife is the neck – she turns the head in the proper direction.”
I was searching my computer. A file name contained the word “order”. In a tab, in the file manager program it said “Search for order.”
Random events occur. Is it just the randomness of life or is there meaning behind the events?
Really my point is not to answer that question – but how the Torah puts order in your life.
Are Events Just Random
But here is the answer anyway: Events do not occur randomly. G-d has a plan and purpose for every event. Basically we – with our actions – determine the future. The general rule in the world is “Midah Keneged Midah” – Measure for measure. We are kind – we receive kindness. We are giving – we get. We are understanding – people understand us. The negative side also provides a boomerang effect. One gets angry at an employee – a bigger fish gets angry at you. This is a law in the spiritual nature of the world. So – it provides us an opportunity to improve. If we know that we might be receiving the boomerang effect of something we dished out – it’ll help us to improve the next time around.
Torah vs Society Values
The society will tell you “Eat and be merry for tomorrow one dies.” Pleasure without purpose is condoned. Torah says “Use pleasures to build. To build relationships, to build kindness to build your connection to Hash-m / G-d.”
So we are forbidden to touch members of the other gender – unless we get married. This provides an incentive to get married. Getting married allows one to build a family – slowly one builds a family.
Society will tell you follow your fancies. This doesn’t help a person to get married – on the contrary it causes a person to not marry. To not establish a family. And if they do – then their kids will follow the same route that society brings them.
Torah will bring Torah observers to build families with children with similar goals.
You choose your values. You choose if you want to build or if you want to follow your desires. The Torah will help you build your life and achieve your purpose. Societies values will bring you to the pendulum of pleasure seeking – after you reach one you end up in the same place or backwards from where you started.
Remove yourself from situations that cause anxiety. Some feel fear because they hear the scary news items. News is meant to attract readers or watchers – if the headlines wrote “Beautiful Day in Israel Again.” It wouldn’t be read by many. So they resort to tactics to attract readership. If the news makes you anxious – watch less news. Some news magazines – including Jewish ones – and sites fall into the category of over-analyzing news. Personally, I just like to hear the headlines and some small details. I don’t need to know all the details. We used to subscribe to such a Jewish family magazine – but I felt it was too focused on irrelevant details (to me) of the news. So we stopped our subscription. We replaced it with more of a family oriented magazine. If other things cause you fear – distance yourself from them.
Deal with the symptoms – If public speaking causes you anxiety – learn to overcome the fear. Prepare more. Know your subject. Practice. Get used to talking in public.
Deal with the Root Cause. One main cause of fear is the belief that society is a dangerous place or people are out to get you. Don’t worry – people are not out to get you. G-d is here to protect you. He loves you more than anyone else. Hashem is good and wants your good and safety. If we think of that – we can live a calmer life.
My friend once said – if you believe in the stock market – your mood will be based upon the movements of the stock market. On an up day you will be happy. On a down day – your mood will swing. But one who believes in Hashem and knows the goodness of Hashem and reinforces it by learning about Bitachon / Belief and Emuna / Trust in G-d – they will live a more peaceful life.
Hashem is the Name of G-d. Some English Translated versions of the Torah it / 5 Books of Moses inaccurately translates the name of G-d as “The Lord” – more of a pronoun – the correct translation is really “Hash-m” – a personal noun. ie – “Hear Oh Israel The Lord…. is One” should really should be translated as “Hear Oh Israel Hashem… is One.” If you read about the kindness of Hashem in the Torah or books you begin to trust in Him. The root cause of your anxiety will be solved.
Some good Jewish books include – Rabbi David Ashear’s “Living Emuna” books found at better Jewish bookstores.
It was a prize from the Pet Show raffle. He came home not only with his knapsack that day – but with a small bird cage – bird and all. OK – we decided to keep it. I figured – oh no – I don’t like to take care of pets because if you are a bit careless – you might find a fish floating on top of the water after about a week.
Taking Care of the Bird
It wasn’t my first pet. We got it so I might as well take care of it. Perhaps there was a mitzvah the pet could help me to do? Like feeding it before I eat. I took care of it. I fed it. I gave it to drink. I showered it & cage with a hose. Rarely did I take it out of the cage. I was concerned it would fly away and I would be able to get it back in its cage.
Bird Babysitter – Stress and Animals
Once I left it to a friend to bird sit. His family liked the bird. Some time later I was informed that the bird died. I was saddened but a bit relieved that I was relieved of my duties as bird caretaker. I had theories that it had died because of stress in the house or old age. They offered to buy us a new bird – but I politely refused.
Prohibition of Pain to Animals
We have a Mitzvah not to cause pain to animals – it’s called Tzaar Balei Chaim. So I had to treat it nicely. Once a rabbi shooed away a lamb seeking refuge under his garment – ans since it was an act that was not to his stature – he was stricken with a toothache for 13 years. Taking care of animals is a responsibility towards the animal and towards the surroundings.
Don’t aDopt Dangerous Dog
A dangerous dog is forbidden to have as a pet it might hurt people. I heard of stores of pet dogs attacking children when parents weren’t home. Dogs also bark. Their bark can cause a woman to miscarry if she is startled of fear.
Yes – I know pet lovers will say – my dog is so kind. Still one must to be concerned about the points mentioned above. There are stories about dogs saving a person’s life in the Torah. Yes I know that dogs are called a man’s best friend.
Essence of a Dog
The word for dog in Hebrew is KELEV. Kaf-Lamed-Vet. Adam – the first man- gave the animals their Hebrew name based upon their nature. Adam called this animal KELEV because it is KULO LEV (All Heart). Someone gave me an interesting possible reason of why a dogs are able to connect with humans more than others. A dog has more hutzpa / audacity than other animals. This audacity makes it think it is on the level of a human. Other animals are not so brazen and they recognize they are inferior to humans. The preferred animal as a pet in the US is a dog. Interesting theory.
Of Pets & Having Children
A couple who lacks children should consult a competent Orthodox rabbi whether it is worthwhile to have a dog. A dog may serve as a comfort for people without children. This comfort may cause them to relinquish praying with all their heart to Hashem to help them bear children. Perhaps not having the dog would cause them to daven / pray with more fervor. This intensified prayer could open the heavens for their prayers to be answered.
Search for Satisfaction that is Productive
Once someone who had difficulty bearing children asked a rabbi what he could do to bear children after being childless of years. He asked the man – Is there anything that gives you satisfaction. He replied yes – my business. He told him to reduce his business dealings. He did so – and a short time later he bore children. Apparently a person is supposed to get a certain amount of satisfaction and pain during the year. He was deriving all his satisfaction from his business and that was eating up what was due to him in satisfaction. When he relinquished it from the business, Hash-m gave him the satisfaction from the children.
Do Animals Communicate
It was known that Shlomo Hamelekh / King Solomon wisdom allowed him to speak with animals. Apparently they have feelings also – as illustrated in a story between Shlomo and a bird boasting to its wife that it could destroy the castle of Shlomo to his wife.
The Curse of the Birds
Recently I heard that there are animals in Heaven – by a Rabbi Meyer Eliyahu (shiur in Hebrew). I also heard recently about birds that cursed their master. Someone was convicted of a crime. The Man asked a Mekubal – a Rabbi that is well versed in Kabbala / Jewish Mysticism – why he was convicted of a crime. The Mekubal answered that His Birds cursed him. He told the rabbi he would get rid of the birds. He said the decree was already decided in heaven.
Were the birds at least partially responsible for his sentence? I don’t know. Should you avoid birds as pets? You decide.
Fish, however, I heard are good pets to have because they have a good eye. They were not corrupted by the flood of Noah.
At a wedding, a family member told me of some insulting comments towards Jews by some musician. I forgot his name.
He said it was important to let people know that Jews are good and to rebuff the Anti-semetic rhetoretic spewed by those Anti-semetic people.
So I told him that when you want to solve a problem, you try to find solutions to the root causes of the problem, rather than the symptoms. The Anti-semetic rhetoretic is a symptom. Apparently by trying to prove that the rhetoric they say is not true, you give credibility to their argument. You give their voice credibility.
Why does the Good G-d allow Antisemetic acts? To awaken Jews to remind them that they are Jews. So Let’s Awaken. A good article on the subject is : on Aish.com – named Dear Antisemites, Thank You
If G-d is sending us a personal message – I would like to tune in.
What are Ethics.
I was thinking – who does ethics belong to? Really – it’s Hash-m’s world – so it is not for me to say what is right or wrong. It’s for me to understand what G-d wants from me. For me to posit my opinions of what is right or wrong – in contradiction to what G-d said – is nothing more than impudence. A king declares that you cannot steal in his country – and a minister says you can steal – that is impudence.
Torah Judaism is the only religion that had over 3 million witnesses who saw thunder and lightning and heard G-d speak at Mount Sinai – when the Jewish people with Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses) received the Torah after leaving Egypt. Thus – before deciding if something is ethical or not – consult the Book of Ethics – the Torah or ask you local orthodox rabbi.
He has to catch the bus to work. his wife nags him – ”Why do you leave your bed unmade? Please Make your bed before you leave and pick up your clothes.” Reluctantly, the husband goes and does so, thinking ,,”ok I’ll be late 5 minutes. Better that than getting into an argument and be late half an hour.”
A man thinks – why is she nagging me? But really a wife is a reflection of her husband. Rabbi Meir Eliyahu said that the way a woman acts with her husband reflects the relation he has with Hashem. If she is makes dinner late – perhaps he comes to synagogue late.
In parasha Vayera Hashem asks Abraham, why did Sarah (his wife) laugh when she heard that she will have a baby at the age of 90. G-d reproched her lack of belief. Some commentators explain that Hashem wasn’t reproching Sarah’s conduct but Abraham’s level of belief because his wife’s attitude was a reflection on Abraham. Perhaps he had a slight imperfection in his belief. Perhaps he should have instilled in her or taught her more emuna – belief in Hashem.
So when one’s wife says something – it may be Hashem is sending him a message that he has to improve in a particular domain. Like cleanliness is next to godliness.
I wish I knew that 10 years ago. I wish I has the foresight. We don’t see the the issue until we are faced with the situation.
OK. A course in foresight.
Take a situation. Like:
I am searching for a job. I am offered a job today. Should I take it? Fast forward 10 years in your mind. Now imagine you are 10 years older and still looking for a job. Do you regret the job you didn’t take 10 years ago (which is actually today)?
There are other methods of foresight – like listening to advice on your issue after asking a reputable Orthodox rabbi.
Doing Mitzvot also helps. Following Torah allows a person to structure their life and make good life decisions.
Once a person in Mexico City, who recently had decided to observe Shabbat, had a good deal to sell his office building. The buyer wanted to continue negotiating close to the entrance of Shabbat. The seller said he must stop to prepare for Shabbat. The buyer relinquished the deal. The week after an earthquake shook Mexico City. Due to the many buildings damaged and his remaining intact, he was able to sell his building at substantially more than had he decided to desecrate Shabbat and go through with the first deal.
Hashem has foresight. Observing his Torah allows us to tap into it.
My friend Meyer was talking about happiness. He said a formula where a person can be mostly happy.
There is always a silver lining
I knew of the concept, but he brought is out clearer.
We know Hash-m / G-d is good. G-d does good always.
Now if something happens that we think is bad – I hurt my ankle, someone yelled at me, someone called me a name – given the givens – we should not be saddened. We should make an effort to brainstorm why that could be actually good.
Someone I know was in a bus accident. They were hurt. They thought why did that happen – they were on the way to do a mitzvah. Afterwards the doctor proscribed time off from work – allowing them to take care of important business while being paid.
Technically one can be happy all the time. It’s a matter of understanding why what we think is bad is actually good. Looking at the silver lining in the cloud and putting our focus on the silver lining rather than the cloud – is the formula.
Having this attitude – one can be happy all the time.