Our Torah learning group were learning Hok Leyisrael – a Sefer / book that complies small daily portions of the Torah / H’umash (of that week’s Parasha / Torah Reading) , Neviim / Prophets, Ketuvim / writings, Mishna, Gemara, Zohar, Halacha and mussar / personal growth teachings into a book – so that one can learn a portion of each daily. I read that the Rabbi, Baba Sali recommended a man who came to him to learn it.
In the Torah portion we were learning- Ekev (first pasuk -verse of Sheni / 2nd Aliya) – Moshe / Moses tells the people ‘Guard yourself lest you forget Hashem (G-d of the Jews), Your G-d and you forget his laws…”.
The Bible Translators Mislead – which version of the Bible do you read – there is only one
I explained that unfortunately many people who read Translations of Torah (some call it the Bible) from the original Hebrew are mislead. The translators translate the Hebrew word for Hashem into “the Lord”. Hashem is the name of the G-d that the Jews worship – the same G-d that took the Jews out of Egypt – the same G-d of the Universe. “Hashem” is a personal noun. “The Lord” is a pronoun. By translating it this way, one is mislead to think that “the Lord” is any G-d that they follow. Readers thus attribute the actions of ‘the Lord” to the G-d of their liking – which is not necessarily true.
It’s like one who edits the sentence “Sir Isaak Newton revealed the laws of gravity.” to “The scientist revealed the laws of gravity.” In the first sentence you know who revealed the laws of gravity. The second – you can possibly insert any scientist of your liking.
One of the most accurate Translations I have found is the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash. It usually translates the Hebrew word for Hashem into Hashem.
So the verse above Moshe is telling the Jews not to forget the Laws of Hashem – the 613 commandments from the Torah.
The Evil Inclination’s / Yetzer Hara’s Tricks
How does one not forget Hashem’s laws? the Evil inclination – that voice inside you that injects negativity and bad thoughts into your mind – has two methods: Either by chipping away slowly at one’s morals or by attacking when a person is vulnerable- like when a person is angry or despondent. He doesn’t tell a person “Rob that bank. ” He first says to them “You can take a candy from the store (without permission) – and pay them back tomorrow.” He continues chipping away until he convinces the person to rob a bank.
But really you have control to agree or disagree with the Yetzer Hara. It is in your hands.
The fight against Self- Improvement
The yetzer hara doesn’t want you to become a better individual. He wants you to remain the same or get worse. He wants you to discard and deflect self-improvement efforts.
The Man’s Greatest Helpmate
The Torah uses the terminology for a wife as “a helpmate against him. ” One of her roles is to help her husband improve. If the husband does good (according to Torah) she helps him. If he does bad – she is against him. (Provided she has the proper Torah Hashkafa – outlook).
It is more of the woman’s job to help a man improve than vice versa. The Torah does not call the man – a helpmate against her. The wife is one who knows the husband best. She sometimes mirrors or or complains about his personal lacking. The man who wants to improve, will tune into her message of self-improvement to him and try to do something to better himself.
What do men sometimes do – they resist and fight back. If she is giving him his medication to better himself – why should he fight back. it makes more sense to accept the constructive criticism and build himself. If he fights – he is like the person who goes to the Doctor for medicine for weakness. When the doctor gives him the medicine he shouts at the doctor and says “why are you giving me this medicine- it is so bitter?!!” and he throws it out the window.
In Mishlei / Proverbs by Shelomo Hamelekh / king Solomon – the wisest of men – he says “A gentle reply turns away wrath but a galling word incites anger” (Mishlei/Proverbs 15:1). The wise will take their ques for self-improvement and improve. It takes two to fight. if one answers nicely – it will disarm the other’s anger and your own as well.
Become better not bitter.