Your Purpose in Life – How to Find It

Rabbi Hanania ben Akashia says “The Holy  One – Blessed be He – wanted to give merit to Yisrael – therefor he increased the Torah & Mitzvot – as it says “Hashem – because of his Righteousness – increased the Torah and made it mighty.” (Pirkei Avot 6:11)

רבי חנניא בן עקשיא אומר רצה הקב”ה לזכות את ישראל לפיכך הרבה להם תורה וכו’

Some explain this as – G-d wanted a person to observe more mitzvot so he gave them a greater quantity of Mitzvot. The Rambam – Maimonides explains – that G-d gave a person a greater choice so that they could choose one mitzvah to do with the best quality.

If one does one Mitzvah to perfection – he or she will be able to receive a portion in Olam HaBa / the World to come.

Rav Shaked Bohdana explained in a Shiur / lesson that the key word is “Meyamay” / in all my days. In the Talmud – we have Kimchit that had 7 Chief Kohens . Cohen Gadol serve in the Beit HaMikdash / the Holy Temple. What was her merit? She responded “In all her days she never let the wallls of her house see her hair uncovered.” (Talmud Yoma / 47a) Meaning she was exemplary in the trait of being modest / Tzanuah. Rabbi Hanan

Rabbi Adda bar Ahava lived long. The sages asked what was your merit that you have long life? He responded In all my days I was never never angry in my household and I never walked in front of a sage that was greater than me. (Talmud Yoma / 47a)

Rav Bohdana mentioned that doing a good need regularly applies not only to a mitzvah from the Torah or From the Sages – but to a good character trait – like we see from Rav Adda bar Ahava.

Consistency is key. When we find a mitzvah that we feel is particularly important – doing it to perfection will give us great merit in this world & reward in the next.

How do we find a mitzvah that we find important? See what good deed or mitzvah or good action that we find important and learn about the details in the Torah and be consistent.

Two small points: One – because we do one mitzvah to perfection – it does not mean that we neglect the other Mitzvot.

Secondly – we should assure that something is a mitzvah from the Torah according to an competent Orthodox Rabbi before we take upon ourselves something that we feel is a Mitzvah. Someone might think giving out cigarettes or encouraging people in a certain way of life is a Mitzvah – it might be just the opposite. Get things clear before you start.

The 95 Million Dollar Mistake

Someone I know woke up one morning. His private bank called him. “Did you happen to make a transfer of $95 Million to your account?”

“No.” He replied. “It appears someone mistakenly sent $95 Million Dollars to your account. We don’t know the sender because it was an anonymous account.”

Four Months pass and interest in those days was high – about 15%. He accrued the interest. Lawyers for the sender of the money finally contact the bank. They say we are requesting the money back. You don’t have to return the interest. You just have to sign some papers.

The receiver man refused. He said I want to meet the sender in person. The person took a plane to Europe and they met face to face. He was an American. The receiver told him I wanted to assure myself that this was not a scam or a laundering operation. He told his lawyers to check the papers and he signed – giving the $95 Million dollars back and the interest as well.

The American thought it was foolish not to at least keep the interest. The receiver replied “It’s yours – you keep it.”

I heard it first Hand. In Torah it says “Dover Emet Bilvavo” – Speak truth in your heart.

Once Rabbi Safra was reciting the Shema Yisrael. Someone offered him to price to buy a diamond – while he was saying it. Since the rabbi didn’t / couldn’t answer the offer – the man offered a higher price. He kept on offering a higher price. When Rav Safra completed his Shema – he said – I’ll give it to you for the initial price you offered. I accepted the offer in my heart and it would be dishonest to accepat a higher price.

Torah Honesty says “Speak truth in your Heart.”

Accounting Time. Did You Gain?

People have budgets. I want to spend this for my rent, for my transportation, for my car, for my vacation.

We do good. We do bad. Judaism makes it easier – it tells us what is good & what is wrong. (Jews may see the Code of Jewish Law / Shulchan Aruch /) (Gentiles may see the 7 Noahide Laws) It helps us remove ourselves from doubt.

The reason why we follow after evil is because we feel we gain.

But the question is – did we ever do the accounting of what we gained from the pleasures we pursued. The question is : What did I gain? Did I become better? Did I get a reward? Did my life become easier or harder after the deeds?

Personally I noticed after following after desires – I noticed difficulties follow. Perhaps the reason to follow the good path should not be because of fear of punishment – but because one realizes that Hash-m does good. That we missed the mark.

Regretting, correction & Teshuva always helps.

 

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.

 

Structuring Your Life – the Easy Way

It’s good to know about yourself. A person who knows their challenges, strengths and weaknesses – is better equipped to self-improvement.

Myers Briggs Test

I took personality tests. One I tried is the Myers Briggs Personality Test. It defines a personality into one of 16 groups based upon Four Two-Factor scales. One is Introvert (I) – Extrovert (E). Another is Intuition (N) or Sensing (S). Thinking (T) – Feeling (F). Judgemental or Perceptive (P)

So
ESTJ is: extraversion (E), sensing (S), thinking (T), judgment (J)
INFP is: introversion (I), intuition (N), feeling (F), perception (P)

It comes out to 16 different basic groups.

I tried it several times – once I was an INTP another time is was marked as an INFP.

These are the general employee characteristics of these groups:

ISITEJ

Inspector

ISIFEJ

Protector

INIFEJ

Counselor

INITEJ

Mastermind

ISETIP

Crafter

ISEFIP

Composer

INEFIP

Healer

INETIP

Architect

ESETIP

Promoter

ESEFIP

Performer

ENEFIP

Champion

ENETIP

Inventor

ESITEJ

Supervisor

ESIFEJ

Provider

ENIFEJ

Teacher

ENITEJ

Fieldmarshal

The Do What You Want – When You Want Personality

I Forgot why I was telling you this. Oh Yea – I am not into structure. I’d rather do my thing when I want. Do whatever interests me at the moment. Get up when I want and stay up until I fall asleep. I wanted to say whatever I had on my mind and follow my fancies.

I don’t think that I would be the ideal employee doing those things.

I did hold a Job that was more or less flexible. I was more or less successful. But I had to set boundaries and rules for myself – to get to work on time, to finish projects on time, to fulfill my requirements.

The Guide to Structure in Life

What helped me in life was my decision to follow with orthodoxy the precepts of the Torah. For my wanting to get up late – I had to get up to go to synagogue daily – to pray with a minyan – a quorum of 10 Jewish Men. For my wanting to just do what I wanted – when I wanted – I had to follow the 6 day week – working Six Days and Resting on Shabbat. For wanting to speak my mind without care for hurting others or talking badly of others – the Torah taught me laws of Onaat Devarim (Hurting Others) and laws of Lashon HaRah. I regret I used my mouth to hurt others – but now I am more careful.

The Self-Improvement Path

For wanting to follow my fancies – the Torah provides guidelines or what is acceptable and the Torah makes it a Mitzvah to get married, have children and raise a family with the Torah as a guide. I followed halacha / Jewish law – which gives a person rules to live a productive and meaningful life.

That’s what I did. Yes I made many mistakes and still do. I veered from the path & fell into my past habits. But little By little I reduced my falling off the path.

I’m still trying to improve. But the Torah put me in line and structured my life.

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.

Sukkot & Enjoying the Great Outdoors

You Shall Rejoice on your Festival – and thus you will be happy. Sukkot / the festival of “Booths” or Huts – was given to the Jews when we were in the Desert.

The Outdoor Festival

We live in huts – with earth grown roofs – for seven days. We leave our permanent residence and live in a temporary hut – reminding us of our temporary stay in the world.

The reason we live in Sukkot – Huts – is to remind us of how we lived in the desert after leaving Egypt – in huts.

The Protecting Clouds

Another reason is to remind us of the clouds of glory. Seven clouds accompanied us in the desert. One was a pillar of cloud that guided us. Another cloud – above us shielded us from the heat of the sun. Four other clouds – protected us from enemies. One cloud below removed snakes and scorpions and noxious creatures.

Putting Materialism Aside

Living in the succah helps us to put materialism aside and appreciate Hash-m’s world. We put our faith in Hash-m and leave the comfort of our more-permanent home. It also serves as an atonement – because when we leave our home – it is as if we are lving in exile. This atones for our sins.

Women’s Exemption

Living in the sukkah is a Positive Commandment from the Torah that is caused by time. Thus only men are obligated to live in the sukkah – for women – it is optional.

Serving G-d in All Ways

I thought of another reason – in Judaism – we go all out to serve our creator. At times we eat to serve Him – like on Shabbat – that we eat three meals of Shabbat. At times we fast – like on Yom Kippur – where we aspire to be like angels who don’t eat. We serve G-d inside the house – and outside the house (in the Sukkah). We serve Him – by resting – to get rest on Shabbat – and by staying awake – like on Hoshana Rabba & Shavuot – where we stay up all night to learn Torah.

Love of G-d

A person who loves his or her child is ready to do all for him. We – following Torah – show Hash-m we are ready to do all for Him.

“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.

New Rules in Baseball – How to Choose a Way of Life

I told someone I can throw a curve-ball that goes from one corner of the room to another corner. I did it. I threw the ball – spinning it with two hands – it hit the floor and went to the other corner.

I continued – perhaps baseball should change the rules and allow any kind of ball you choose to be used – a tennis ball, a soccer ball, a basket ball, a rubber ball. Perhaps also the bats can be changed – you can use a broom, a stick ball bat, an aluminum bat, a pipe. Perhaps for gloves – use plastic bags. Instead of bases – they could have a pit that you must jump over.

Sounds fun? Perhaps – but it’s no longer baseball. Call it what you want – but it is not baseball. Take a tomato soup – remove from the ingredients – tomatoes, paprika, salt, pepper. It’s no longer soup it’s water.

In the past many people chose the Torah or Judaism as a way of life and followed it. Yet many said let’s choose Torah as a way of life but they say – let’s change this law. Let’s add this law. Let’s remove this law.

Sound’s fun? Perhaps – but it is no longer Judaism.

Many Jewish people say they followed Judaism – but they cooled down. Why? Perhaps they weren’t following Judaism – they were following a watered down dish that people called Judaism.

The Torah is the Only Divinely given document that was given to entire nation of millions of people.

G-d looked into the Torah and created the world. The Torah is the blueprint of the world. To change the laws of G-d – is like changing the rules of baseball. But human rules are susceptible to change – G-d’s laws are not. G-d is Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Immutable. We may make errors – He does not.

Choosing authentic Judaism is the proper way to follow the way of G-d.

 

When Life Crashes or Judaism & the Art of Computer Maintenance

My Computer crashed yesterday. It wasn’t the first time. A long while back I had Microsoft Windows. I got the “Blue Crash Screen”. I had to figure out how to get my computer back up. I tried their recommended methods. No avail. I tried another version of Windows – but I had to find that Windows key to get it back. Didn’t work. Finally I just backed up my files and installed a new  Operating System instead of Windows – Linux. Fedora to be exact. Yesterday I just reinstalled Fedora again.

OK. Initially – It took time to adjust to a new Operating System. But now I am still running Linux. Yes I have Laptops that run Windows – but I am fine with Linux.

When Life Crashes

Similarly – a longer time ago I was living the high life. Yes I had ups and downs – but I was having a good time. Till my life crashed. I experienced sufferings as a teen. Yes – teen problems but crushing nonetheless. So I tried to make small changes to my life. I was sure – deep inside – the crash was a message from G-d / Hash-m. Before I became more dedicated to Judaism – I didn’t hesitate to make a Joke at the expense of other’s discomfort. I was funny – but at times I could hurt others feelings. For that I regret. The sufferings prompted soul searching.

The Connection between computers & life

We experience ups and downs. Many a time – these can be interpreted as messages. Messages from G-d / Hash-m to improve. To become closer to him. G-d is our father – and at times He steps in to wake us up to that fact. Or wake us up to strengthening our relationship with Him.

At times it is a little crash – like losing a wallet. At times it is a bigger crash – like losing one’s savings in the Stock market. Computers at times run slow, or fail – but it is up to us to get them up & running again. Like in life- when in difficulty – we try to find out how to get up and running again.

Don’t Give Up

But G-d does not want us to give up. If there are troubles – it is a time to reflect and prompt ourselves to improve. Embarrassing a person in public is forbidden in Torah. It is like killing. So as a youth – due to my troubles – I became more sensitive to people’s feelings. I apologized to the people I might have hurt. Now I try to joke in a way to bring a person up not down.

The Nurse that Gave Up

Some give up when life becomes harder. When sufferings raise their head. That’s the last thing G-d / Hash-m – your Father – wants from you. I still feel badly for the nurse who gave up on life – when she encountered so many cases of Covid – some she helped to save – some she couldn’t.

G-d  doesn’t want us to give up. At times He wants us to change our perspective on life. To take on a Torah perspective. In life it is forbidden for a person to take one’s life. The closer a person is to the person he/or she kills the worse it is. Killing – the one person that is closest to oneself, who is oneself – is one of the worst transgressions.

Ask All Your Questions to an Orthodox Rabbi

So what should that nurse have done. She was suffering from not being able to help as many people she could have. Apparently – she could have presented herself to an Orthodox Rabbi to ask for an explanation for why G-d sent Covid. Why was she not able to save as many people as she could have. Why did she have to witness so many deaths? What was a proper course of action for the future. What is a Torah outlook to cope with her difficult situations.

Pain is not the Worst Thing

People experience pain. But pain is not the worst thing that can happen. Not achieving what one can in life is worse than pain. Pain – like money comes and goes. But one who doesn’t achieve their potential in life – they can’t repair it after death.

David HaMelekh / King David wanted sufferings to come to him – because it gave him the opportunity to turn to G-d on a more emotional level – and to him even pain was preferable to a non-relationship with Hash-m.

Although I shy away from suffering – when I did suffer as a youth – I remember  it was easier to feel closer to Hash-m. All barriers between us were removed because – what was important in my eyes before – became secondary to relieve may suffering. I knew the way was to seek spirituality – by becoming closer to Hash-m through Torah.

How to Fix Life & Computers

When a computer crashes – you can try to fix it with software utilities – or try a new operating system to get your computer back on track. When Life crashes you can change little things and stick to the same lifestyle or you can try to try a new lifestyle that will help you change your outlook and attitude on life. Even if you are a bit unfamiliar – you can reduce the downtime in the future.

I did it with my computer and my life. With my computer I moved from Windows to Linux. With my life I moved from following the flow to following Torah Judaism.

Judaism, Logic & Practicality

People who like computers – in general like logic. I like logic. Judaism was the ultimate source of life for me because it answered all the questions I had and provided a logical framework for everything I do. I also like practicality – in Judaism we translate concepts into actions. It is not enough to say as it says in Torah – “Love Your fellow as Yourself” –  the Torah provides specific laws to put it into action – Like not speaking Lashon HaRah / Evil speech about others, giving charity, doing acts of kindness, etc.

Self-Improvement & Torah.

So what do you do when life crashes? Reflect. Reflect how to self-improve. Reflect how to get closer to Hash-m through Torah – for Gentiles through the 7 Noahide Laws from Torah and for Jews – the Shulchan Aruch – Jewish Code of law. (Link poiints to Kitzur / Abridged Shulchan Aruch)

Sometimes I look back and imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t take steps to improve. I would be a different person than I am today – and I am happy I did take those challenging but highly beneficial steps.