“The American Dream” – Will it Really Make You Happy? or Two Things that Really Make You Happy

Does American Dream Bring Happiness?

We were discussing “The American Dream” – Buy a House, a Car and Live there with Family – at the Shabbat Table. Sounds attractive. It’s good to have a house. It’s good to have a car. It’s good to have a family. Will they make you happy?

What You Do with What You Have Makes You Happy

Perhaps. But we mentioned previously that it is not necessarily what you have that makes you happy – it is what you do with what you have that gives you satisfaction. If someone does acts of kindness with their car – carpool, drives kids to pick apples or peaches, drives an old woman to do shopping – the kindness makes you happy – not owning the car or the house.

The Secret to True Happiness / Your Soul is the Source of Your Satisfaction

Why? Because we are in essence a soul that seeks a relationship with the creator – Hash-m. The soul wants to do the will of G-d. When we do – we become closer to him – that gives our soul satisfaction.

Simple.

Dwelling in Israel Makes You Happy

In Last week’s Parasha / Weekly Torah Reading – Ki Tavo it says “VeHaya Ki Tavo El Haaretz”. “Behold when you come to the Land.” In Hebrew grammar there is a Vav HaHipuch. The letter Vav in front of a word – usually means “and”. Sometimes the Vav changes the past to the future. Haya – means “it was” (past) – VeHaya means “it will be” (future). The word Vehaya starting a verse – usually refers to happiness. Why Because we want the past to be in the future – that’s when one is happy. When will someone be Happy – ki tavo el haaretz / when you go to the land – Israel. When a person settles in the land of Israel – they attain a higher level of happiness.

The Soul’s Connection to Israel – Connecting to Happiness

Why? One reason is Apparently because souls come through Israel before entering the body. So when a person goes to Israel – the soul feels a connection to its place of origin. Also Israel is a holy place – the soul feels comfortable in a place of holiness. There are other reasons as well.

Torah Study Makes You Happy

Further in the Parasha it says : “And you will rejoice with all the Good that G-d gave you …” Some Commentators – like the Baal Haturim explains that the word HaTov / the good refers to Torah. The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh – says that if a person would know the satisfaction of learning Torah –  he would become astounded to the sweetness it brings. Torah Study makes you happy. We can understand the reason being similar to the reason above. Torah gives the soul spiritual satisfaction and a closer connection to Hash-m.

Why Judaism Treats Women Differently than Men?

I was walking down the street looking for a man to complete the minyan (quorum of 10 Jewish men) needed to recite certain parts of prayer – like Kaddish / the Mourners prayer for the elevation of a soul that departed. I see a man – he’s Jewish. I ask him reluctantly – “Hi sir – can you help us to complete a minyan? Our synagogue is just down the street.” I might have added – someone needs to say Kaddish.

Gathering a Minyan

The woman next to him – apparently his wife – gives an upset look. She says something “You Orthodox Jews differentiate between men and woman!” She was right – but I didn’t have a chance to explain why the Torah differentiates between men and woman – they both walked away with some kind of righteous indignation.

Learning Judaism

I encounter many people like that. They have righteous indignation that I try to offer them a card to help them find meaning & spirituality – by making a connection with Hash-m. Or they outright reject it – apparently they have a fear of becoming closer to G-d. Perhaps I should give them a copy of “The Bible for the Clueless but Curious – Finally, A Guide to Jewish Wisdom for Real People Nachum Braverman. I was perusing it just today. He’s also a co-author of The Death of Cupid. The author has an informal but eloquent – and meaningful righting
I mean writing. Wow I think – it’s the first time I used this strikeout function. OK.

Why People are Reluctant to Follow Judaism

So I understand people – they are reluctant to believe or have a close connection with G-d. Why? Some because they feel it will cramp their lifestyle if they believe. If they believe in G-d – Jews will no longer be able to get a Big Mac. (Hamburger & Cheese is a No no.) Gentiles will no longer be able to eat live animals. (Sorry to mention repugnant things – but some people still do this.) Big loss? I don’t know. I did it. I gave up the peperoni pizza. Nowadays – you have a kosher alternative to almost anything. The Rambam / Maimonides brings 24 reasons – which cause people to avoid Teshuva – Repentance.

The Difference Between Judaism & Other Religions

Some don’t want to believe because they are turned off by religions – that killed millions and keep killing in the name of their religions –  and they stereotype from other religions to Judaism. I hear that – so investigate the difference. The Bible for the Clueless is a good starting point.

Weighing the Losses & the Gains of Judaism.

I was in both worlds – the secular & the observant world – and I find that the benefits greatly out weigh the sacrifices. No more shopping on Shabbat – but a much better relationship with the family. No more eating Big Macs – but a much more spiritually satisfying diet – a Kosher one. They say that non-Kosher food clouds the heart of a Jew. Thus a Jew who eats non-Kosher has a harder time understanding mitzvot than a Kosher eater.

Did I get off tangent? Sorry.

Thanks for Not Making me a Woman

All Jews – men & women – say Morning Blessings daily to thank G-d / Hash-m for all the Good He supplies daily. Like the ability to see, the ability to walk, the gift of clothing, etc. The man’s blessings of the Daily Morning blessings are slightly different than a woman’s. A Woman says “Blessed are You Hash-m … that You made me according to Your Will.” Men say “Blessed are You Hash-m … that You did not make me a Woman.”

Q & A on Woman’s Blessing

You should have 2 questions – one on the woman’s blessing and one on the man’s. The one on the woman’s blessing – “Does that mean that G-d didn’t make the man according to His Will?” One Answer: G-d made a woman more complete than a man – a man has to strive to perfect himself – a woman is closer to where G-d want’s a person to be initially. Apparently, she can grow and she can fall. We all have freedom of choice.

Q & A on Man’s Blessing

The question on the man’s blessing: “Why term it that I am thankful to not be a woman? Since a woman – is closer to the connection with G-d – she has less mitzvot. Mitzvot are  to help a person reach spirituality, spiritual perfection and a closeness to G-d. A man needs a Talit, Tephillin, Lulav, and other external items to become closer to Hash-m. Thus a man has more Mitzvot to become closer to G-d. Thus the man thanks G-d that he did not make him have less Mitzvot – like a woman.

G-d didn’t first create man & woman and say – this would be an appropriate law for them. G-d first created the Torah – then based upon the Torah – he found it appropriate to make a creature called a Man and one called a Woman.

The Error of Society – Not Appreciating Differences in People

I heard in some societies & public schools – they are erasing the gender differences. They say no more boys line or girls line – there is the A line or the B line. It is prohibited in the schools to say “Boy” or “Girl”.

To do what society is doing today – to force a man and a woman to ignore their differences will in the end create confusion and psychological problems. If I can’t appreciate my strengths and weaknesses – so I become like a marshmallow – devoid of form, and purpose and uniqueness. A rabbi said “If one tries to be like someone else – he is not that person and he is not himself – he becomes a non-entity.”

The Torah on the other-hand appreciates the difference between men & and women. It tells a man how he is to talk with his wife – with kindness. It teaches how a man should appreciate his wife – with words & gifts. It teaches how a woman should speak with her husband – with respect – like all people.

Each gender is given their particular laws that suit their psychological and role in the family. These laws bring out their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

Say No to the Marshmallow Movement

Say No to being a Marshmallow!

 

 

Purity Counts – the Benefits of Cleansing the Mind

We associate the color white with purity. In the Torah / 5 Books of Moses – the brother of Rivka and father of Rachel & Leah has a beautiful name – Lavan. Lavan means white in Hebrew. Although he had a beautiful name – he was wicked.

Wickedness of Lavan

We say it in the Passover Haggada – “Arami Oved Avi” – “An Aramean (Lavan) destroyed my father (Yaakov / Jacob).” Since Lavan tried to kill Yaakov – he is considered as if he actually did it. Thus we say “An Aramean destroyed my father.”  and not “An Aramean tried to kill my father.” For certain – if they attempt to do an evil act — it is considered as if they actually did it.

Misleading Purity

At times the world of marketing – leads us to believe that certain things are pure and certain things are right. It may be so – it may not.

What is Purity?

There is a difference between Holiness and Purity. Holiness is one who is careful to follow the laws of the Torah with precision. He is loved my man and Hash-m / G-d. A Holy person can be impure. A pure person – can be unholy.

Defining Purity

There are various kinds of purity – purity of the heart and purity of the body are two.

Purity of Heart

Purity of the heart – means a person is careful to guard their heart of hatred. They guard their eyes from seeing the prohibited – improper images – like those of idolatry, the face of wicked people, immodest people and images. They guard their mouths from speaking evil – they speak no evil about others – even if it is true (see laws of Lashon HaRa), they do not flatter, they have clean language. From their mouth emanates truth and kindness. They guard their ears from hearing bad about others. They keep their hearts far from grudges, animosity and controversy. They keep their mind pure as well.

Purity of the Body

A person’s body can become impure several ways. A person who touches an unclean animal – like a lizard, rodent or insect can become impure. A person who touches a dead body or who is in a building with a dead body or in a cemetery also contracts impurity. A menstruating woman or a man that has a seminal issue also contracts impurity. A person’s hands become impure when they sleep – thus we do netilat yadayim / washing of the hands in the morning.

To achieve purity of the heart one reads, learns and applies sefarim / Jewish books on Mussar / Jewish Ethics.

To achieve purity of the body one may immerse in a natural body of water, like a river, ocean, or mikve.

At times a person feels cloudy of mind. They feel depression. They may feel anger. Certain things that bring upon themselves impurity cause depression, anger and being unsettled.

The solution? Purify yourself.

 

 

Is “the L-rd” the L-rd?

Joe ate the sandwich.

A Simple sentence.

The editor edits it – “The person ate the sandwich”

Who ate the Sandwich?

OK. What’s the difference?

Before the sentence is edited – we know who ate the sandwich. After it is edited – we do not know who ate the sandwich.

The Proper Translation of the Five Books of Moses

I don’t know if “editors” or “translators” changed the proper noun of “Hash-m” to the common noun of “the L-rd” on purpose – to mislead people or to refrain from mentioning the true name of G-d because it is forbidden – but that’s what they did to The Torah / the Five Books of Moses. In many translations or editions of the Five Books of Moses / Humash it says “And the L-rd spoke to Moses Saying.”

That is not an accurate translation – in the Hebrew it says “Vayomer ‘Hash-m’ el Moshe Lemor.” Hash-m Does not mean the L-rd. The Word Hash-m replaces the actual name of G-d. Since we are not allowed to use the name of G-d we use Hash-m.

Hash-m refers to a the Name of the Jewish G-d.

It should say “And Hash-m spoke to Moses Saying.”

What is the difference?

When it says “the L-rd” people think it is a generic name of G-d – so anyone can be misled to believe that it is the god of their choice.

But really it says “Hash-m” – the Name of the Jewish G-d.

Some more recent translations of the Humash / 5 Books of Moses accurately translate Hash-m’s name properly. One such edition is The Artscroll Stone Chumash.

Removing the Wool from the Eyes

In the entire Tanach / Torah – 5 Books of Moses, Neviim – Prophets, Ketuvim – Witings – Only Hash-m – the Jewish G-d – is mentioned as G-d of the Universe.

Believe It and Receive It

Believe it will be good and it will be good. If you believe something will be good – Hash-m / G-d will make it good.

Once Hillel Heard yelling from a house in the street. He said to a fellow “I know this is screaming not from my house.” He knew because he taught his household not to scream. But another proposed answer is that Hillel knew everything would be good – so he knew the yelling was not coming from his home.

Hash-m watches people as would a parent. Once I saw a Jewish person filling his tires with air at a Gas Station. I gave Him a card that says “Ein O’d Mile’vado” / There is Only Hash-m. He was astounded. He told me “Thank You. That is my motto in life. Don’t Just give out the card – Live it!”

The way that one wants to go – Hash-m brings him. Live your life a certain way – they will help you in heaven to go in that path. A thief that prays to be successful in his theft will be helped. Though, obviously he will be punished for the theft.

Thus – a person might be led in a path – because he wants to be lead that way. Thus a proper prayer is to ask Hash-m to guide him in the path of Truth. And search for Truth.

The Value of Pain – The Spiritual View of a Jew on Alleviating Pain

Each Yeshiva / Torah Learning institution has a goal. In Hebrew it is called a Shita שִׁיטָה / frame of mind or mindset. Telz Yeshiva – in the outskirts of Cleveland – brought it’s shita to the United States from Europe. They emphasize the importance of proper conduct of a Ben Torah / a Torah learner.

Majesty of Man – Proper Etiquette

Walking down the street with a Telz Yeshiva Alumni – I was impressed to hear of the high standards of personal etiquette recommended of Yeshiva Bachurim / young students. “In Telz people would bring laundry to the laundry room in a briefcase rather than a laundry bag – because it is unbecoming of a young budding Torah scholar to carry a big bag of dirty clothes.” I was impressed. “A person would not drink directly from a bottle. Using a cup is more befitting.”

Bottle Woe – The Nerve Dilemma

He told me – he knew of someone – that did drink from a bottle. The Popular Pop of that time was Royal Crown Cola. The student was drinking from a bottle. Another student bumped into him unintentionally. His front teeth were broken.

He went to a dentist that mentioned he had the option to keep or remove nerves from his teeth.

Encounter with a Gadol – Great Sage

He went to speak with the Rosh HaYeshiva – Rabbi Mordechai Gifter. The Rosh HaYeshiva mentioned to him that if he had the option of keeping his teeth’s nerves – he should do so. Someone he knew in Europe had his nerves removed from his teeth. Several weeks later half of his face welled up due to an infection. He couldn’t feel the pain. The pain that he would normally have felt was not able to warn him of the spreading infection. If he caught it earlier – he would not have to have a much more serious operation now.

The Value of Pain – the Message

Pain is usually viewed as bad. No pain is good.

Pain is not necessarily bad.

Pain can be a message.  It teaches us – there is something that needs correction. The proper question – we should ask then when experience pain is “Why I am experiencing this pain?”, “What is the Cause?” – not just how can I alleviate the suffering. Alleviating the pain may deal with the symptom but not the cause of the pain.

Suffering may be from physical pain, emotional pain, psychological pain or spiritual pain.

The Purpose of Pain

The reason of the pain? To prompt one to improve. The tooth story is a good example.

Are You treating the Cause or the Symptom?

One who treats a problem to alleviate the pain – may be treating the symptom – not the cause. Let’s say the person had nerves to feel the pain. Instead of taking antibiotics to treat the infection he took pain killers. He alleviated the symptom but not the cause.

The Spiritual Connection of Pain

G-d sends us pain. We try to alleviate the pain. But really we should ask “What does Hash-m want from me?” “Am I the cause of my own pain?” “How can I improve myself to not ever get this pain?”

Spirituality & Alleviating Physical Pain

Firstly – if the pain is a sign of a physical ailment – the Torah says to seek proper medical treatment from a competent, reputable Doctor. It says you shall very well guard your soul. One is not allowed to live in a Town where there is no Doctor.

There are 248 members of the body. A Jew has 613 Mitzvot / commandments from the Torah. 365 prohibitions that we avoid 365 days a year and 248 active commandments that we do with the 248 members of our body.

Each part of the body is connected to a particular Mitzvah. If one lacks in a particular Mitzvah it has an effect on that member of the body that it corresponds to.

So the second step – is to also see what spiritually one can do to rectify the spiritual aspect of one’s life to cure the physical member of the body.

Spirituality & Alleviating Emotional Pain

Hash-m made a physical nature in the world. An Apple falls. Heat rises. Plants grow. He also created a spiritual nature that corresponds to the physical world. One general spiritual rule of nature is called Midah Keneged middah. Measure for measure. One that does good gets good. One that does the opposite gets the opposite.

If someone yelled at you – check if previously you perhaps raised your voice at someone else. Do Teshuva / Repentance according to Torah and apologize when in order.

Spirituality & Alleviating Psychological Pain

When one feels down – it might be due to your soul’s feeling down. Really the mental condition of a person depends upon their spiritual soul’s state. The person is composed of a body and soul. G-d through the Soul gives the body life. If the soul is happy the person is happy. If the soul is sad – the person is sad. Doing good deeds makes a person happy. Doing bad deeds make a person sad.

The major problem of people seeking the elusive happiness and not finding it  is because they think that pursuing bodily pleasures and comforts will make them happy. At times the pursuit of pleasures makes a person even more depressed. It is not pleasure that will make one happy – the satisfaction of the soul that will.

The question one must address is “What are the pleasures that make the soul happy? And which are those that dampen it?” I found from experience – that pursuing bodily pleasure only for pleasure – may give temporary pleasure – but in its wake is sadness. If it is sanctioned by Torah – it brings happiness in it’s wake.

The Definition of Spirituality

Spirituality brings happiness. To understand a concept we must properly define it. Spirituality is having a positive, loving relationship with Hash-m / G-d. To enjoy such a relationship – we follow G-d’s Law – the Torah as a guide to develop that relationship. The Jews follow 613 commandments. The Gentiles follow 7 Noahide laws.

The Three Dimensions of Relationships

A person who relinquishes their relationship with Hash-m/ G-d relinquishes one satisfying relationship of life. A person has a relationship with himself or herself (Ben Adam Le’atzmo). They Have a relationship with people and nature (Ben Adam Le’havero). They have a relationship with G-d (Ben Adam La’Matkom). A non-believer or an atheist or one who disconnects themselves from their Judaism – disconnects from a satisfying relationship that they could possibly have.

The Call of Your Father in Heaven

Pain may be a call for a person to search out a satisfying relationship with G-d – through Torah. G-d is our father. He wants a relationship with His children. Hash-m communicates with us daily. He sends us messages, gifts, kindness, blessings, abundance. Do we communicate with Him? One just has to observe their daily life and see all the blessings.

Measure for Measure from G-d

When people ignore all Hash-m’s kindness – G-d may act with them the way they act with Him – ignoring them – leaving them in the hands of nature. A woman once served her family straw for dinner. The were in wonder – what happened with her. She told them – “You never appreciated – when I served you the best of meals. So I thought for you everything is the same whether it is delicious or not. So I served  you straw – it’s much easier to prepare & you don’t appreciate the good food when I make it for you anyway. A parable to teach us to be appreciative of our blessings.

Sweet Melancholy vs. Happiness

Memories of my youth – I remember my old friends and old experiences. I remember with sweet melancholy. Some memories I remember with Joy. I try to distinguish between that feeling of melancholy and the feeling of Joy. My happiness was many a time sweet melancholy. How do I know? Because Joy is an elation – melancholy is a form of sadness.

From experience I have found that doing good, providing kindness, helping others, learning Torah are sources of happiness. Also from Experience , I found pursuing pleasures not sanctioned by Torah is a source of sadness.

The closeness to Hash-m / G-d is a good barometer that is correlated with a person’s happiness. Doing good brings you closer to Hash-m – you become closer to the source of life & happiness. Thus one is happy when they are close to Hash-m. Or more accurately – the closer one is to Hash-m – the greater is their potential and actual happiness. The farther one is from Hash-m – has the opposite effect.

Pain Prompts People to Pursue Truth

In my youth I was like any youth – I sought attention, I did my share of trouble. I pursued fun, ate non-kosher. I played sports. My world was a world of the average boy. But certain difficulties – like skin problems – prompted me to question life. My question “Why Me?” I was a decent person. Ok, I did my share of trouble – but I wasn’t so much worse than others – “or was I?”

How could I get back to being the Handsome young man – people told me I was? What could I do? I thought I could go to a skin doctor – but I thought that the pain was a message from G-d to tell me to improve. It is very hard to break a habit. It is hard to change your lifestyle. It is hard to change your attitude – but a little pain to wake you up will motivate you to pursue avenues that you otherwise you would not have considered.

My pain motivated me to improve my relationship with myself (Ben Adam Le’atzmo) by improving my outlook on life to correspond more to the Torah Hashkafa / outlook. I learned the importance of proper conduct of a Ben Torah. I improved my relationship with people (Ben Adam Le’havero) – by being more considerate of others feelings. I strengthened my relationship with G-d (Ben Adam La’Matkom) by praying to Hash-m, talking to Him, observing Mitzvot. Through Study of Torah Study, Reading Torah Stories, Learning Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers and making more of an effort to observe Mitzvot / Torah commandments – I made my self-improvement effort to become a better person.

Use Pain to Gain

Some take pain and fall into depression. Some take pain and use it as a spring board to pursue truth and follow it regardless of the changes to one’s lifestyle it entails.

Looking back and looking at the positive points I gained from following the path of pursuing truth & Torah – I am grateful to Hash-m for the hard – but beneficial message he sent me. Now I try to conduct myself in a way to not need those messages anymore.

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.

Don’t Just Thank G-d – Do This Too

Weekly we read a new Torah portion / parasha at the synagogue. In parasha Be’haalotecha – Hash-m commands Aharon to light the Menora.

He says : “Speak to Aharon, and say to him; When you light (literally: ascend) the lamps towards the face of the Menorah shall the seven lamps cast [their] light.” (Bamidbar / Numbers 8:2)

Ki Ner Mitzvah ve Torah Or / A Candle is a Mitzvah & Torah is Light. Many Torah commentators explain the Menorah’s significance and what it symbolizes. Some say the 7 branches represent the 7 types of wisdom. Some say that it represents the 7 days of the week. The center being Shabbat. It is possible to explain when one sanctifies the Shabbat – (the face of the Menorah was the center lamp) – the 7 lamps shall cast their lights. When one observes the shabbat – the entire week takes on new holliness and light. The observance of Shabbat gives sanctification for the rest of the week allowing a person greater success.

Another interpretation is that – When you ascend to do the Mitzvot / commandments – you shall bring in Holiness 7 days a week. Our attachment to Hash-m / spirituality is really experienced when we are immersed 7 days a week in Torah and mitzvot. When a person is immersed in Torah 7 days a week then they see the light. They see the light of Torah. They see light in their lives. They see the blessing. When people observe Torah as a nice tradition – when convenient – they do not necessarily experience that light. Thus is why many Jews seek other philosophies – they never sought to immerse themselves in Torah & Mitzvah observance completely – 7 days a week. They didn’t feel the closeness to Hash-m – because Judaism was treated as a nice pastime – rather than life itself.

Part of feeling the Spirituality / Closeness to Hash-m of Judaism is being thankful every moment for the good in one’s life. People get depressed because they see the difficulties, the lackings – the Torah says be thankful for what you have. Do not envy. Look at the half full cup as completely full.

When we have good in our lives – let’s be thankful for every single thing.

When we thank G-d – He sees we appreciate our blessings and provides us with more. But we should ask for more after thanking G-d – to continue giving us the blessing or to give us more.

We learn this from Leah – our Matriarch. When she had Yehuda – which means “I will thank” – she stopped having children for a period. Why? Because sometimes thank you may mean “No Thank You” or “Thank you – that is enough”. Thus when we do thank Hash-m – don’t just express your appreciation – ask for more.

But feeling thankful also entails feeling indebted to the person. Many will go out of their way to help others who did them a favor in the past. This feeling of gratitude – should help to motivate us to do more good, do more Mitzvot, to learn more Torah & to reciprocate the good that we received from Hash-m to our fellows.

The Butterfly Effect – the Spiritual Aspect of Cause and Effect in Judaism

The Butterfly Effect is a theory associated with Edward Lorenz. He states that the path of a Tornado and slight variations can be caused by the flap of a butterfly wings.

In Torah we believe in a Physical world and a parallel Spiritual world. There is laws of “nature” in both. We decide what happens in this world through our actions. G-d gave us Freedom of Choice to Choose doing good or bad – and responsibility for the consequences.

Let’s say a person gives charity to a poor man. He creates an angel that is a Defendant. This defendant angel will defend the person and possibly the whole world from negative outcomes due to this one action. G-d will then decide on a course of action in the Spiritual world that will be effectuated in the Physical world. Let’s say G-d will then decide – because this person did this good deed all of the people in a certain town in the United States will be given food. His act caused a spiritual outcome that affected the physical world.

It also happens for negative deeds.

Stories abound about this. The Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers (Chapter 4 – Mishna 2)  Mentions it :

Good causes Good & Evil, Evil
2. Ben A’zzai says: “Run to [do] a simple Mitzvah (like for a weighty one) & run away from the sin for a Mitzvah causes a Mitzvah & a sin causes a sin; for the compensation of a Mitzvah is a Mitzvah & the compensation for a sin is a sin.”

In the Time of Baba Sali – a man who was careful about guarding his eyes from looking at woman – saved an entire bus of people.

In Europe – once a person was killed in a small town. It was very unusual. Someone had a dream – that that week the Town Rabbi became very angry and it had a domino effect causing this murder.

We can understand this phenomena as cause and effect or spiritual consequences. In the second story, it is possible that the Rabbi – got angry at an individual – and that individual vented off his steam on someone else and the third person – went out to kill someone. Or it is possible to explain that the Rabbi’s anger – which was a transgression – caused the decree in Heaven that someone in his town was to be killed.

Our actions are meaningful. Our words are meaningful. Our thoughts are meaningful. A Jew that has a thought to do something good is credited as if he did a positive act. Some people who have a thought to do something negative – are also credited as if they did it. In the Hagada quoting the text that we say when we bring the first fruits in Devarim / Deut (26:5) – we say “An Aramean – Who killed our forefather [Jacob]  – caused us to descend to Egypt.” Who was this Aramean? It was Lavan – the father of Rachel – his wife. Why does it say he “killed our forefather?” because he tought to do it – it is credited to him as if he did do it.

A Jew who studies Torah gives the world life. He causes it to remain intact and brings great goodness to the world. If the Non-Jews knew the great consequences of the Jews learning Torah – they would appoint guardians over us to assure that we study Torah.

This is also the concept of Middah Keneged Middah / Measure for measure. The good one does (and the opposite) eventually returns to him or her.

Do good. Get good. Do good for the world.

The 7 Noahide Laws – A Primer Before Conversion to Judaism

It seems that many people have a feeling for Judaism – Jews & Gentiles.

Many religions accept the Torah as True – but they say “G-d ‘changed His mind’ about the people He chose or the doing of the commandments He gave.” G-d gave the ability of a person to make a logical deductions and freedom of choice. Apparently with those two abilities – one can come to truth. But a person has to be unbiased and willing to give up anything for truth – things that many are not willing to do.

What are Your ‘Chiclets’?

Some will not accept doing Shabbat – because they want not to give up their shopping day. I heard – once – a woman Koshered her house and was willing to go all the way to complete Observance of Orthodox Torah Judaism – when she saw a packet of “Chiclets” gum on the table. At that moment she had second thoughts – She told the rabbi “I don’t want to give up my Chiclets” – until he calmed her down apparently telling her there are Kosher alternatives to Chiclets.

Does it make logical sense to say G-d changed His mind about anything? G-d – unlike humans – knows the past, present and future. He knows the ability of people. He knows who he can trust. So to say G-d changed his mind about His doing law – is illogical.

Did G-d give one law for all people or laws for Jews and laws for Gentiles?

Most religions say observe their law – and if not one is an infidel. The Torah says “Jews Observe our laws and Gentiles – Observe Your laws.” If a gentile observes their laws that is great.

The problem in other philosophies lies in professing that G-d gave one law for all people to observe. According to Torah – He gave laws for Gentiles – the 7 Noahide laws – which are really 30 laws – and laws for Jews – the 613 commandments. The 7 Noahide Laws are a step in the right direction for those wanting to observe Judaism. The Noahides – learn Torah about their laws – and observe some commandments like the Jews. If a Gentile wants to go further – they can always chose to convert to Judaism with an Respected, Competent, Knowledgeable, Orthodox Rabbi – that deals with Conversions.

Following the Torahs laws allows a person to receive a place in Heaven. Thus a person who really is searching for truth – and wants a place in heaven – will investigate what the Torah promises for Jews and Gentiles observing Torah.