Covid Omicron – A Blessing of G-d to Humanity

In the desert, the Israelites complained. (Bamidbar / Numbers 21:5) G-d sent snakes to bite the complainers. Moses, having mercy for his people, prayed to Hash-m to heal them. G-d told Moshe to construct a large copper snake and to place it on a pole. (thus the logo for the medical profession.) One who was bitten – would look upon the snake and be healed.

A Blessing in Disguise

Those bit by the snakes suffered. Yet if they looked at the snake they would be healed. A positive outcome was that a person who was bit and had a previous ailment would be healed of both the snake bite and the previous ailment by looking at the snake.

Covid Omicron is a very mild form of Corona virus. A person who was infected – perhaps would be quarantined for several days – but afterwards – he or she would get the anti-bodies against the more severe forms of Covid.

Since Omicron spreads rapidly it is inoculating large parts of the population.

A blessing in Disguise.

What is Love? Just Look at the Hebrew Word – 3 Simple Points

I was reading a book on Marriage – Choosing to Love: Building a Deep Relationship with the Right Person–and with Yourself. The Author – Gila Manolson – tells the story of how – before marrying – her husband to be took her to meet his Rosh HaYeshiva – the Head of His Yeshiva (Torah Learning Institution). After some pleasantries, he asked her – “What is your definition of Love?” Although usually articulate – she fumbled to find a definition.

In the book – she explains the Jewish concept of love. She explains about what is real love and – fish love – love of personal pleasure or infatuation.

Love – the Foundation of Judaism

Love is one of the foundations of Judaism. Once a gentile asked Hillel – a great Torah sage – to teach him the entire Torah while standing on one foot (ie, the one rule that summarizes the Torah – foundation of the whole Torah) He said “Whatever is hateful to you don’t do to another person. That is the entire Torah – the rest are [relevant] details. [based upon that foundation]. ” Rabbi Akiva says “Veahavta Lereacha Kamocha – ze Klal Gadol batorah.” Rabbi Akiva Says – “You shall love your felllw as yourself – this is a Major Principal [Foundation] of the Torah”.

Love is central to Judaism. Judaism is all about Connections. The Human connection – between man and his fellow. The Self-Connection – between man and himself. The Spiritual connection – Between man and G-d / Hash-m.

Halacha / Jewish law is central to maximizing those connections. Loving oneself is also central – for if you love yourself – you can love others more.

The Essence of an Object – Look at Hebrew Words

If you want to know the essence of a person, place or thing – look at their Hebrew word or name. We call a Dog – Dog. Dog doesn’t seem like it means much. Meaning it seems like an arbitrary group of letters – for this animal.* In Hebrew we call a Dog – Kelev. The Hebrew letters are Kaf, Lamed and Vet. Kaf and Lamed – spells Kol in Hebrew – meaning “All.” Lamed and Vet in Hebrew is “Lev” meaning “Heart.” Dog lovers will understand that the Dog is “All Heart.” It wants to do the will of its master.

Ahava – The Hebrew word for Love – The Secret to True Love

Now let’s take the Hebrew word for Love. It has an Alef, Hei, Vet, and Hei.

Learning & Loving

Alef – means “to learn” – like in the word “Ulpan” Love must be a learning experience. Three aspects of learning are learning about the other’s or spouse’s good qualities. Learning to improve oneself. Learning Torah – to guide a person to act properly. One reason for marriage is for a person to improve their Middot – character traits. Really Marriage is a great self-improvement opportunity. Doing so also fuels the success of the relationship.

Give & Give Again

Hei & Vet – spells “Hav” – to give. Giving attention. Giving Appreciation. Giving gifts. Giving help. Giving Empathy. Empathy means understanding the other’s joys and pains and feeling for them.  Listening to the other and speaking words of comfort will help a person better their relationship together. If a friend says “I had a hard day at work. The computer acted up – the software crashed…” Don’t immediately give them a solution – give them empathy. You can say – “Oh – I understand how it is frustrating when the computer crashes…”

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler says giving creates love. When we give to another – we develop love for another. That’s one reason why parents love children more than children love parents – the parents give so much to children – it is natural for their love to develop.

Hash-m / G-d in the Relationship

Hei is the last letter of the word Ahava. Hei represents the Hei in G-d’s name. Hei represents Hash-m. Having awe of Hash-m tremendously helps the relationship.

A Man is called Ish – Alef – Yud – Shin. A Woman is called Ishah – Alef – Shin – Hei. If you take away the letters of the name of G-d – Yud and Hei – the man and the woman become Esh and Esh – Fire & Fire.Knowing that Hash-m is present – calms the relationship. One will not lose all restraints – because they will know that Hash-m is watching. The respect for the other remains more in-check.

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  • *In a previous article – we explained that the origin of English and other Latin languages – was composed by Jews. They composed many English words from the Hebrew – There is another article on that subject as well. My hypothesis is – it is possible that the word Dog – comes from the Hebrew word – “Da-ag” meaning – to worry. The Dog worries about its master and itself.

 

The Victory of Hannukah – Building Yourself with Light

King Antiochus was notorious for conquering countries with a strong hand. When conquering Israel – his objective was not just physical subjugation – but mental subjugation. His war  wasn’t just a war against nations – but a war against spirituality. Spirituality is basically connecting with the Creator of the Universe – Hash-m.

He outlawed Circumcision, Rosh Hodesh / the New Month, and Shabbat. The Jews fought back and after a war lasting almost 25 years – Hash-m gave victory in their hands – they won the war. The major miracle was the Jews’ victory over the superpower of that time – Greece.

We know that in the end – when the Jews come to purify the Holy Temple / Beit HaMikdash -they find one jug of oil with the seal of the Cohen Gadol / Chief. This oil, that is supposed to last one day, lasts eight days.

G-d Loves the Sincere Efforts of the Common Man

The Rambam says that if the Mizbeach / Altar is broken – one is not required to light the Menorah. The Greeks broke the altar  So why did they want to light it? There was no Mitzvah / commandment to light the Menorah. It was just a commemoration – to remember the Mitzvah. So why did G-d make a miracle if they weren’t even doing a Mitzvah? Apparently, G-d appreciates even the small, sincere efforts that a person makes to establish a connection with him.

My friend told me a story of a woman who ordered a “Kosher” Hot Dog for her son in Manhattan on Passover. On Passover we are forbidden to eat bread. She was very adamant that the vendor not put the Hot Dog on the bun. “Don’t Touch the Bread with the Hot Dog!” I am sure that Hash-m had satisfaction from that woman’s sincere effort to avoid allowing her son to eat Hametz – leavened products on Passover.

Build What Others Want to Break

I was listening to Rabbi Shaked Bouhdana. He mentioned an interesting point. Antiochus outlawed Circumcision, Rosh Hodesh / the New Month, and Shabbat. The Jews fought hard to have the freedom to do these Mitzvot and others. It turns out that Hanukah Lasts 8 days – the same amount of time a child born waits to be circumcised. Since Hanukah lasts Eight days – it is sure that at least one Shabbat will fall during Hanukkah. There is always a New Month that falls on Hanukkah. When we fought for a Mitzvah that others wanted to outlaw – we won by having a greater level of sanctification for these three Mitzvot.

If we use our forces for the positive growth spiritually we gain in a greater way than what we originally had.

Building Your Personality

Some people are fragile. Send one word out of place – and here comes the fire. Someone asked me how to deal with difficult people. I said – we shouldn’t look at people who upset us as our enemies. Ultimately – our deeds that we sent out are boomeranging back to us.

The Boomerang Principal – Midah Keneged Midah / Measure for Measure

If we got angry at a spouse – this anger will find it’s way back. So the smart thing to do is to recognize this principal and when someone lashes out at us – realize that that might be the fruit of our previous misdeed. So if we lash back at them – it is akin to a (pardon the comparison) dog biting a stick that was thrown at him. We bite at the stick – the person who lashed at us – but we forget that we were the one who initially threw the stick.

Fight fire with water – not fire. Calm the situation. Don’t fuel the fire.

 

The Jugs of Oil that Yaakov Went Back For

Yaakov / Jacob took the right of the first born & blessings from Esav / Esau, his brother. Esav wanted to kill Yaakov. He went to make peace with Esav. The Night before his meeting with Esav – Esav’s Angel encountered Yaakov and wrestled with him till the morning. The Angel encountered him when Yaakov was going back over the river to get some small jugs he forgot.

By Morning time the Angel had to leave to sing praises to Hash-m. Yaakov – told him to bless him and also asked his name. The Angel told him he would no longer be called Yaakov – but Yisrael – for he wrestled with the Divine and won. When asked about his name he responded “Why do you ask my name?”

The Angel was the Evil Inclination – the Satan. Why did he come to attack Yaakov at this time? He had many other opportunities to attack.

Yaakov was going back to retrieve the small jugs of oil. It represented the spark in each and every Jew that cannot be tainted. Some say that the Jug of oil was the actual Jug of oil that was used for the miracle of Hanukah. The angel wanted Yaakov to give up hope on this spark of holiness. Yaakov struggled for all the sparks of holiness – even in a Jew that is very far from Judaism. He still had hope.

When the Romans conquered the Jews and wanted to ransack the Holy Temple in Jerusalem – they were afraid to enter. They sent in a Jewish Informant against the Jewish people. They told him – anything he found he could take. He went in and took the Menorah. They said that is a prize of war that they wanted to keep to show their victory. They told him to take something else. He refused – he said I angered my G-d once – I don’t want to anger Him again. They threatened him with death. He died as a Martyr not to anger Hash-m.

How is this? Several minutes before he was willing to ransack the Temple – in one moment he changed to become a Very Righteous Jew – who gave his life for the Sanctification of Hash-m’s name? The answer – the holiness of the Temple inspired him and removed all of the coverings of impurity that covered that Holy spark within him.

Every Jew has a holy spark within him or her. They just have to uncover it. A Jew should never give up on spirituality – a connection with Hash-m. They are closer than they think.

 

Keep Calm & Move On – Stopping the Self Pity

A family member mentioned to me that someone I know is now ready to get married. He told me the reason why they weren’t ready until now was – they were in a relationship that went bad and it took them 10 years to get over it.

I feel badly for them. That precious time does not return.

OK. The relationship ends – take a week to recuperate. Some days off. 10 years? A bit much. A person should know that the clock is ticking.

What can we learn? We get involved with certain attitudes. This attitude stops us from progressing. I’ll push off making cold calls. I am reticent of following Torah – what will my friends say? I am too depressed to find a new job. Come on – let’s get over it and just do it.

The evil inclination does not just make a person sin – afterward it makes a person feel sad and depressed. So not only will he make a person do a Torah prohibition – but after that it will make a person sad and depressed to prevent the person from doing positive Torah commandments.

If we don’t feel happy – make the motions to be happy and happiness will eventually come. If we are stuck – make the motions – and we’ll get out of the rut and move forward.

Take 2 for a More Productive You

People procrastinate. It isn’t always the work they shun. It may be that they have more interesting things to do. So they’ll put that “maintenance” chore on the side to do more creative work.

I am not into filling out forms. I am not into routine work. But you have to do them.

Should I take ten minutes to do them? Ten whole minutes? How about Five? Five – not bad. Two Minutes? That’s doable.

Take the two minutes to start the “push off” task. Once you start, it’ll be more easy to continue. One way to get you to start the task is to make starting the thing seem doable. Once you start – continue.

Apparently the same applies to advancing in Judaism. Learn Torah for two minutes. Learn Two Halachot / Jewish laws a day. Learn Two Mishnayot a day. Do 2 new Mitzvot a day.

I now understand why it says “One who learns Halachot / Jewish Laws daily – is promised a place in the World to Come.” The minimum of a plural is two. Get started – go far.

Black Quarter in My Pocket – Glad to See You Back

Is it painted or is it just dingy? This black quarter got me thinkin. Some mark dollar bills – apparently to see if they will see it again.

If they do – what a woo. How happy if they will be if they see that long lost dollar.

So you’re happy to see a coin. Will it do something special? Not really. Just a nice coincidence.

A kid, a friend, a relative – more precious than mere money. Should not we be happier. Even if we just saw them yesterday?

A thought to think. A reaction to have – glad to see you again.

Tons of Things to Do at Home Office and Kids are Acting Up – How to Stay Calm

You have to get back to your home office. Tons of things to take care of. You chose the home office either because of convenience or by force majeure – see covid restrictions.

One reason why we get angry is because I have to be productive – this cute little kid is preventing me from doing so. I have important work to get done – this kid is stopping me.

Just Shout – The Easy Way Out

The shout comes out. Poor kid. Poor you.

G-d gave us kids to educate them to become good, kind people. He gave us a pure kid and expects that after 120 years he remains pure, sweet and nice.

That’s one reason why we put them in a Torah School. So how does that help me not to get angry?

Are You Really More Productive by Shouting

At the moment we are in “I have to get things done mode” We think – my productivity is more important than my educating my kid to be a “Mench” / good human being. I am being productive doing work – I am not being productive catering to my child’s whims.

Productivity in Education

Stop right there. That’s where we err. By responding kindly and with care – we are teaching our child to be kind and to care. We are being tremendously productive in educating our children how to properly respond in stressful situations. How to act nicely even under pressure. What can be more productive than teaching a child to be a kind, caring, sensitive person?

Did You Win the Education Game?

You shout – you lose. You lose the opportunity to teach kindness and patience.

Treat every act as an act of building.

That is what Torah is about: building – building people, building relationships – with people, ourselves and Hash-m.

Four Ways to Stay Calm When in a Rush

I used to take the subway to school. I was late for class. And as you’d expect – when in a rush – the train stops between stations. The announcer gets on “We are experiencing a longer than usual stop light. Please be patient.” His announcement makes me more anxious to get to class. But then I think to myself “By me getting upset – will this cause the train to move faster?” Apparently not. That thought calms me down.

At time we are anxious to get somewhere – so we turn on “I’m in a rush mode” Just turn that mode off. Turn on “I’ll get there when I get there” or I’ll get there when G-d wants me to get there mode.”

People sometimes rush to the red light. I figure “What – should I speed to get to the red light faster?”

I’m in a rush – driving a cool 55 mph. Some guy – goes into my lane driving 30. It’s the solid white lines on both sides and or other cars aren’t letting me in. Should I get upset at the other driver? No. Like he said “Oh – let me annoy that driver by driving 30 mph.” No. He just drives that way. Maybe G-d organizaed it that way to test my patience muscles. If I flinch with anger – I lose. If I stay calm – I win.

 

The Spiritual Cry or Grudging – a Wise Choice?

He took my pencil. I am angry. I won’t talk to him for 10 years.

Smart?

OK. Sometimes the stakes are greater than a pencil – but is it worth it to grudge your best friend, spouse, brother or family member for it?

Think it through. Be real.

What if you found out that the person you had a grudge moved away. Would you still be upset?

The Spiritual Cry

In last week’s Parasha – Avraham – comes to Eulogize his wife Sarah and to cry for her. In the Torah the word to cry is written with a small Kaf. It means that Avraham minimized his crying – because he didn’t want people to think that he put into question G-d’s justice.

Another reason was Avraham was in control of his emotions. He cried what was necessary. My Rebbe taught me “Our Mind should control our emotions not vice versa.” Does it make sense to be angry at the person who took your money – he or she was a messenger from G-d. If that person didn’t do it someone else would have taken the money. Learn from the message – perhaps you have to be more honest with others.

Another reason brought by the Zera Shimshon is that – there are different types of cries – one is for the material loss another was the spiritual loss. If one cries the latter – then G-d collects their tears and stores them in his treasure house. Sarah was Avraham’s soul mate – the small kaf is telling us he was crying for the spiritual loss. Another reference to the spiritual cry – is prompted by the question – Why doe the verse say that Avraham came to “Eulogize and Cry.” First a person cries then they Eulogize? One answer is that his cry was a spiritual cry for the spiritual loss.

A man and a wife – if married properly are soul mates. Each one completes the other. Each one can build the other spiritually – through doing kindness, serving G-d and Torah.

This is a possible explanation of Pirkei Avot – On 3 things does the world stand On the Torah, On the Avoda (Service of Hash-m) and on Kindness. To make a world stand – these things are needed. To make a marriage last – these things are needed.

G-d wants you to have peace – as it says “Don’t Hate Your Fellow in Your Heart.”