Friday, September 27, 2013

LUKE 10:25-37

Tells, the familiar good Samaritan parable. Here we often read it as if Yeshua teaching us to be merciful. It really says more than that. The question the lawyer posed first started with him answering Yeshua’s question. “What is written in the law? How readest thou?”  with “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind and thy neighbour as thyself” He then went on to ask Yeshua “And who is my neighbour?” Yeshua told the parable and asked in the end “Which now of these three (the Priest, the Levite and the Samaritan) thinkest thou was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” Who was the neighbour? The lawyer’s answer was the Samaritan. He was to love the neighbour, the Samaritan as himself. What have I learned here? 

(a)  Samaritan and Jews were enemies. To love the Samaritan is to love our enemy. This is consistent with Yeshua’s “Love your enemies” Can we harbour ill against another and expect forgiveness? Matthew 6:12
(b)   It is loving someone who is “different” from us, different in the world’s eyes (perhaps different by way of thinking, or in culture or race etc) but who is like ourselves in the kingdom of God. We are to love the neigbour who is like ourselves in God’s eyes- all flawed, all need love, all commit sins perhaps same sin even! The Samaritan, the foreigner, the slaves were also like the Jews who were different in Egypt and who were slaves.
(c)    We shall do unto others as we shall have them do unto us. Wouldn’t we the one who gave help not want to be loved?
(d)   Part of loving is also to seek and look for the good in that person who is different from us. Can we not find in this different person his heart of kindness, mercifulness and generosity? Look beyond the differences.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Being Happy

Being Happy
I came across this writing at this link: and found some interesting insights (which many know but it is worth repeating because we forget) from the pdf “The Jewish Vision of Happiness” I believe some are worth re-producing as a reminder to us all. Before this, we all need be reminded also of a good tip on instilling a positive trait in our character which we desire but find it hard to make it habitual. Good tip: Choose the positive habit (eg guarding tongue or being more confident or more tolerant etc.). We can control our external actions with the help of the Holy Spirit. External actions will affect inner feelings. Take many actions to deliberately carry out that task(eg. Be extra tolerant). Ask that the Holy Spirit help you. Each time you achieve it, no matter how small, have an inner cheer in your head. Celebrate it. Thank God for it. The more you consciously choose a positive habit, it becomes 2nd nature. How do we know what habits are positive? Those that are said to be sought after by our Lord and our Master, Yeshua.
Okay, back to the re-produced bits:
“So this must be our attitude toward Torah study and service of God: that man was created to
derive pleasure from God
Obstacles to Happiness and How to
Overcome Them
There are a number of obstacles and mistaken ideas that stand in the way of being happy.
Part A. Focusing on Your Gifts, and Not on What you are Missing
As the Talmud teaches, “Who is the wealthy person? The one who is happy with his portion!” (Pirkei Avot
1. R abbi Noach Weinberg, Happiness ( – Master the art of noticing, appreciating
and consciously enjoying what you already have, then you will always be happy.
Happiness is a universal longing, yet so many people are unhappy. Why?
Western society commonly perceives happiness as the outcome of what you achieve and acquire.
“My whole life would improve if I had a new car …”
“I just need a better job and then I can relax and be happy …”
“If only I could meet the right girl …”
You get the car and what happens? For a whole week you’re walking on air. Then you go right back to being unhappy. Sound familiar?
Happiness is not something that happens from the outside. Happiness is a state of mind. You can have
everything in the world and still be miserable. Or you can have relatively little and feel unbounded joy.

The Talmud says: “Who is rich? The one who appreciates what he has.” (Pirkei Avot 4:1)
Personal Growth and Development 12
That’s why the morning prayers begin with a series of blessings thanking God for the simple and
“Thank you, God, for giving me life.”
“Thank God, I can see.”
“Thank God, I can use my hands and feet.”
“Thank God, I can think.”

Once you master the art of noticing, appreciating and consciously enjoying what you already have,
then you will always be happy.

2. R abbi Yehudah HaLevi, Sefer HaKuzari 3:11 – It is a mitzvah to be happy with what we have in life.
There a specific mitzvah that obligates us to
rejoice with what we have, and that is the verse
that states, “And you shall rejoice with all of the
good that God has given you” (Devarim 26:11).

3. R abbi Chaim Vital, Sha’arei Kedushah 1:2 – Rejoicing with what one has and knowing thatGod only acts for our benefit is the medicine against depression.

The fourth category of negative character traits is
that of depression and sadness … The opposite of
these is the trait of rejoicing with what one has,
because everything that God does is for the good.

The next few sources highlight the importance of developing an appreciation for the special gifts around us,
both large and small, that help make our world all the more happier.

4. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, Sing You Righteous, pp. 17-18 – Daily life is filled with uncountable details and aspects to take pleasure in. Yet most people only realize what they have when they are about to lose it.
Life is full of intense pleasures which are available to all people, but many fail to appreciate them …
the air, water, sunlight, wind, rain, trees and gardens, the mountains and the seas, the moon and the
stars, fire, heat and cold, the snow and the dew, the use of our limbs, the ability to see and hear and
smell and taste and feel, the faculty of speech, the faculty of thought and memory, the variety of food
of every taste and color, the marvel of the body’s secretions and all of its magnificent chemistry …
The universal benefits which all men possess are ignored … It is only when one is about to leave theworld that he looks back with regret, too late, at all that he possessed but failed to enjoy.

5. R abbi Yitzchak Berkowitz, Jerusalem – Appreciating the world’s beauty and the wisdom behind its creation is part of loving God.
God created a beautiful world, and wants us to appreciate it. Part of loving God is appreciating the
world He created and taking joy from it.

6. R abbi Yerucham Levovitz, Da’as Chochmah U’Mussar, Vol. III, p. 67 – Don’t even take your socks for granted!
When putting on your clothes, give thought to all the benefits you gain from your clothing.

7. R abbi Zelig Pliskin, Gateway to Happiness – Value the very air you breathe, and don’t let the negativity of others diminish your appreciation of life’s simple pleasures.
A family member once walked into the home of Rabbi Avigdor Miller in New York City, and was
startled to find the sage standing with his head submerged in water in the kitchen sink. After Rabbi
Miller had finished his bizarre activity, he was asked to explain, which he promptly did.
“I was walking outside when my companion complained about the air pollution here in the city. I was
concerned that his negativity would put a damper on my appreciation for the great gift of oxygen and
breathing. As soon as I got home, I dunked my head into water and went without breathing for a long
minute. Now my appreciation for breathing has returned!”

8. R abbi Noach Weinberg, Happiness ( – A practical exercise to help you
appreciate what you have and increase your happiness.
Step 1: Spend one hour writing down everything for which you are grateful. (For example:
fingers, music, water, friends etc.) Most people fly through the first 15 minutes. The next 15 minutes
the pen moves more slowly. The next 15 minutes get even tougher, but you can pull through if you
include your eyebrows and socks … The last 15 minutes are excruciating. Once the list is compiled …
Step 2: Add one new blessing each day. The power of this exercise is clear: You must be conscious
of all your existing blessings, in order to appreciate a new blessing that comes your way. To really hone your skills and become an “appreciation expert” …
Step 3: Prioritize your list. Re-write your list ordered from that which gives you the most pleasure,
to that which gives you the least. Which is more valuable: your hands or your feet? Your eyes or ears?
Your sense of taste or sense of touch? Comparing each pleasure forces you to qualify the subtle aspects of each pleasure. And to quantify how much each respective pleasure gives you.
Follow this course and work at it daily. Your gratitude will continue to grow, building a solid
foundation for a lifetime of happiness.

Part B. Jealousy
1. R abbi Eliyahu Dessler, Michtav M’Eliyahu – Jealousy, material desire, and status-seeking take away our happiness.
What is the epidemic disease of world proportions that robs us of all happiness in life?
Our Sages have already told us the answer. It says in the Mishnah, “Jealousy, unrelenting material
desire and status-seeking remove a person from the world” (Pirkei Avot 4:27).
The world, as God made it, is a happy one. It is we who have removed ourselves from the world
Judaism and Being Happy of happiness to the world of suffering with these three desires. We need to run away from jealousy, material desire and status-seeking in order to transform the world into one brimming over with happiness.

2. R abbi Michel Berenbaum, Sichot Mussar, cited in Gateway to Happiness, p. 322 – Jealousy robs us of our peace of mind.
Jealousy destroys peace of mind and happiness. A jealous person’s life is full of suffering and
resentment. He is never happy with what he himself has. There are many people who could really
enjoy life, but they have one major problem. When they see that others are wealthier (happier, more
successful, more attractive, more popular, etc.) they lose their peace of mind.
Apart from the destructive nature of jealousy, the last of the Ten Commandments warns us to stay away from
coveting what belongs to another (“Do not be envious of your fellow’s house … his wife … his servant …”
(Shemot/Exodus 20:13). There are a number of tools to avoid jealousy:

3. R abbi Zelig Pliskin, Gateway To Happiness, p. 323 – In the grand scheme of things it’s a
waste of time to be jealous of another.
Our lives are so fleetingly short that it is not worthwhile to waste our time feeling envious of anyone
else about any matter. An important tool for overcoming jealousy is the development of true care and concern for others:

4. R ambam, Hilchot De’ot (The Laws of Conduct) 6:4 – “Loving your fellow” means being happy over another’s success.
It is incumbent upon each person to love every member of the Jewish people as himself, as it
written, “You shall love your fellow as yourself”(Vayikra/Leviticus 19:18). Therefore, one should
speak favorably about another person and be careful with another’s possessions, just as he
would be concerned over his own possessions and reputation.

5. R abbi Yitzchak Berkowitz, Jerusalem (heard in person) – With a creative change of attitude the success of others can feel like your own success.
One summer our neighbors decided to expand their apartment. Work began. There was noise from
morning to night, everything was a mess, the workers were all over the place, and my family was at
risk of beginning to become irritated. I realized I had to do something to protect myself from having a
critical eye.I gathered my family members together and told everyone, “We’re taking on this project as if it were our own. We are going to approach it as if it were our own. addition that was being built. We’re going to get excited over each new step!”
Judaism and Being Happy

And do you know what? It worked! None of the kids became resentful, even when a heavy wooden
door came crashing through our window into the living room (thank goodness no one was in there!).
They were all truly excited for our neighbors.

Part C. Unrelenting Material Desire
1. R abbi Zelig Pliskin, Gateway To Happiness, p. 344 – Demanding things you cannot obtain will make you miserable. There is a difference between “needing” and “wanting” something.
You can only be certain you will always be happy if you give up your desires for things that you are
unable to obtain.
Many people have their own way of making themselves miserable from time to time by demanding
something they are unable to obtain. The next time you feel irritated or frustrated because you cannot
obtain something, ask yourself if that something is really a necessity.

2. R abbi Yitzchak Berkowitz, Jerusalem (heard in person) – We cannot make our happiness dependent on things we don’t have.
We do not have the right to make our happiness dependent on anything outside of ourselves. We may
not say to ourselves, “I’m only going to be happy if I get that thing.”

Part D. Worry
1. R abbi Zelig Pliskin, Gateway to Happiness, p. 154 – Just as you would want to rid yourself of someone who seeks your life, so too we should rid ourselves of worry, which destroys our happiness.
Worrying destroys one’s life (Keter Chochmah 12:16). A life filled with worry is a miserable existence.
Regardless of how much good fortune you have in your life, you will be oblivious to it if you fill
your mind with worrisome thoughts. You would hate someone for trying to destroy your life. If you
constantly worry, you are destroying your own life. Your top priority is changing your thinking habits, which will benefit you in many ways.
The most effective tool to fight worry is that of genuine trust in God:

2. Chazon Ish, Emunah U’Bitachon (Faith and Trust), Ch. 2 – Trusting God means knowing that
nothing happens by chance.
The concept of trusting in God is the awareness that nothing happens randomly, and that
everything that happens on earth is the result of God’s decision.
When man realizes that he is in God’s Hands, his natural anxiety and fears recede. Prayer is a natural
outgrowth of this awareness:

3. Chazon Ish, Letters, 3:151 – Speaking to God about one’s worries as one speaks to a friend provides relief.
How wonderful is the fact that a human being can speak about his worries before the Master of
the Universe, just as he would speak to a friend
… Prayer during a time of difficulty, beside being an obligation, is man’s helpmate and constant
balm; it gladdens the heart and gives him direction.

There are also a number of mistaken ideas that prevent a person from being happy. The first mistaken idea is that being happy does not require any effort:

Part E. It Requires Effort to Employ the Tools to be Happy
1. R abbi Noach Weinberg, Happiness ( – It requires effort to practice the
techniques to be happy and to change one’s habits.
Misconception: “Once I know the tools for being happy, then it will work like magic.”
Don’t expect the results to come automatically. It is possible to intellectually understand how to attain
happiness, yet not put it into practice.
In fact, many people might actually prefer to be comfortable and unhappy, rather than endure the
discomfort of changing their habits.
Just as learning any new skill requires effort, you have to be willing to invest serious effort to achieve
real happiness.

2. R abbi Ze’ev Leff, Rabbi of Matityahu, Israel – The expectation of quick and easy results from our hi-tech generation is not applicable to achieving happiness.
Achieving happiness is not like Googling for data. This works for a person until they reach around five or six years old; and then they are informed it’s a mitzvah to wait six hours after eating meat until the ice cream. Anything of value in life takes great patience and hard work.

Part F. Being Happy is an Obligation we Have to Others
1. R abbi Noach Weinberg, Happiness ( – Being happy is part of being
considerate to others, and therefore not optional.
Misconception: “Happiness is optional. If I want to be depressed, that’s my own prerogative.”
A beautiful Sunday afternoon. You’re at the park having a picnic with your friends.
Suddenly the air is pierced by one person complaining: “Who forgot the forks? It’s too hot for
volleyball. I want to go home already.”
You have an obligation to be happy when your mood is negatively affecting others. Don’t spoil the fun.
We all try to put on a happy face when we’re at a party. But what about when we are at home, with
our kids? Or when we trudge into the office on Monday morning?
Like an open pit in the middle of the road, a sour puss is a public menace. Being happy is part of being considerate to people around us.

Section VI. Giving to Others and Sharing Your
Finally, we conclude with the obvious – helping others generates happiness and is one of the ways of
emulating God.

1. R abbi Binyomin Pruzansky, Stories for the Jewish Heart: Book 2, p. 118 (adapted) – By giving of himself to others even while he was sick, Rabbi Pam was able to regain his happiness.
In the last days of his life, Rav Avraham Pam lay ill in his hospital bed, isolated from his beloved
Yeshivah Torah Vodaas in New York.
Despite the effort to remove Rav Pam from the day-to-day cares of his yeshivah and his fellow Jews,
his advice was still sorely needed. One day, the principal of Torah Vodaas, Rabbi Sekula, arrived at
the hospital bearing a list of pressing issues he needed to discuss with the Rosh Yeshivah. He turned
to leave because a sign on the door informed visitors they would not be admitted, but Rebbtzin
Pam emerged from the room with a hopeful smile on her face. “Please come inside and see if you
can perhaps cheer up Rav Pam. He’s been down and withdrawn for the past few days. He’s just not
As Rav Sekula launched into his agenda, a remarkable reawakening occurred before his eyes. Little by little, the color returned to Rav Pam’s face.
His eyes became expressive; his voice became clearer and stronger. He offered his advice on all the
issues that Rav Sekula raised. Then the two men exchanged brief words of Torah study, much to the
obvious delight of both. Finally, after about a half-hour the meeting was finished.
Rav Pam then commented, “People think that I can’t have visitors because I am feeling weak. But the
opposite is true. It is because I don’t have visitors that I am feeling so weak. As long as a person is alive in this world, he has a purpose.
“Here I am sitting in the hospital and no one is coming to me for advice or for blessings, or anything!
From now on, let visitors come in so that I can help them. This is the only thing that will make me

2. T almud Bavli, Ketubot 111b – A smile gives more to a person than a glass of milk.
Rabbi Yochanan said: One who shows the white of his teeth [in a smile] to another is better than
one who gives him a glass of milk.

3. L ikutei Eitzot, Simchah, # 38 – Our happiness can bring another person “back to life.”
When a person is happy he can bring life to other people. Most people are full of worries and
troubles … and when someone comes along with a beaming countenance he can literally revive
him, and this is a very great thing.

4. R abbi Yisroel Besser, Reb Shlomo: The Life and Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld, p. 85 –
Lifting another’s spirits is a way to be like God.
The Torah commands us to emulate God’s actions. About God it is written, “And you give life to
every living creature” (Nechemiah 9:6). We have a mandate to emulate His ways. We can do that by
attempting to use our words to inject life into everyone whom we encounter.