Friday, August 29, 2014

Closer to HaShem Closer to Your Spouse

The month of Elul always begins around parshas Shoftim. Which speaks of appointing judges, appointing a king and cities of refuge. 

As there are no coincidences, we must ask: What lesson can we learn here?

Now is the time to get closer to HaShem. Not physically, but mentally and spiritually. 

Shoftim means judges. Now is the time to take an account of the past year. To judge yourself and see if you have used your abilities to the fullest to fulfill HaShem's will. Knowing where you stand is a great motivator. This is dealing with the past. 

"Appoint a king over yourself". Excepting HaShem as your king will move you to want to do his will, strengthening your commitment to HaShem. This is dealing with the future. 

The month of Elul is a "sanctuary city" in time. The idea of a sanctuary city is a place to go for atonement. It's an open opportunity to get closer to HaShem  as HaShem's arms are open to forgive us. 

HaShem, our king, is in the field. He is smiling and he grants good to us all. All we need to do is go out and meet him. This is a great opportunity, don't waste it. 

On a personal level. Many of us are in relationships that just seem to be on auto pilot. We don't even realize that our significant other is hurt by this. We think all is fine. 

If you think everything is fine then you need to follow the next steps. 

Ask yourself. When was the last time you sat together and talked a about what is important. Take an account of your relationship. This is dealing with the past. 

Recognize the other in the relationship. Ask. What is his/her needs? If you can't figure out on your own, ask the him/her to tell you or to write it down. Strengthen your commitment to each other. This is dealing with the future. 

Finally don't be afraid to go down this road, because bettering your relationship is something you both want. Your significant other will be more than glad to work with you to better your relationship.

Just imagine coming to shul this Rosh Hashana knowing that you are one with HaShem and one with your spouse. What a way to start the year. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hidden Good

This weeks parsha, R'ay, starts off: Behold I give before you a blessing and a curse...

This is HaShem speaking to the Jewish people (through Moshe). We must ask: If HaShem is all good what does it mean that He gives a curse? 

Especially here HaShem refers to himself  as Anochi (אנכי) which is not one of HaShem's names. Anochi means "I". When HaShem refers to himself as Anochi it is referring to his essence, greater than any of his names. The quintessential "I", HaShem's essence. How is it possible that the essence of HaShem be connected to a curse?

Targum Yonason translates the word וקללה (curse) וחילופא (and it's exchange). In other words there is a blessing and then something other. Similar but different. 

There are different kinds of blessings. There are superficial blessings the ones we all see. Basic pleasures we recognize as good. Then there is a deeper good wich comes into the world through difficulty and suffering. We don't see them as blessings at the onset however with time we recognize how they are truly blessings. 

Many times, it's the suffering, that brings the greatest amount of change in the world. 

As many witnessed this week,  how a disease like ALS, bright so much joy, positivity and togetherness. Throwing a bucket of ice and water on the head.  How many good deeds, kindnesses, prayers & friendship were generated? 

So the verse could be understood like this 
Behold I give before you a revealed blessing and a concealed blessing. 
Anochi, HaShem'sessence then is only connected to blessing. Different kinds of blessing. 

Unfortunately, no one is free from suffering. Recognizing that I it's from HaShem will keep you positive. As you will be filled with a sense of deep purpose knowing that your suffering is making a difference. Accomplishing a great good for HaShem. 

May HaShem send clear, open revealed blessing. There is no need for suffering anymore. We are all ready for moshiach to come.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Because We Believe

In this weeks parsha, an uncommon word עקב, Eikev, is used to say "because". Rashi explains that this refers to seemingly less important mitzvahs, that get trampled under the עקב (heel). That "because" we will listen and do those mitzvahs, we will be blessed with a whole list of blessings, including miraculous victories over those we fear. 

What is the connection between these mitzvahs and miracles?

Thinking of mitzvahs, there are the ones we see as important.  We focus our energy on those, while other mitzvahs end up trampled under our heal. Our yetzer hora, evil inclination, convinces us that it makes sense to focus on these, while pushing off the others. 

The idea of Eikev is to take a different approach to mitzvahs. To defy our yetzer hora and dooing the mitzvahs, because they are HaShem's will. Then all mitzvahs are seen as equal. We do them because we are מאמינים בני מאמינים, believers children of believers. It is excepting beyond our minds understanding. 

When we take this approach toward HaShem and mitzvahs, going beyond our understanding and doing His will, He in turn goes beyond the natural order to treat us to miracles. 

Here is what we could do to help our brothers and sisters all over the world and especially in israel. By taking on those mitzvahs we routinely push off using logical arguments. Doing them only because HaShem wants us to. 

Watching the soldiers in Israel, dancing together, more observant and less observant together, singing we are believers the children of believers. It warms my heart, because I know that we are in good hands, HaShem's. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Marriage Tips for Men Part I

Marriage Tips Part I
Printable Color Infographic PDF by Adai Ad  
After giving this advice to a choson (a groom), I showed it to a few of my wife's friends. Their response was unanimous. "Would you share this with my husband?" 

I am sharing it in the hope that it will help. 

Here are a few small and easy things that will make your life better. 

1) When she does or says something hurtful. Which WILL happen. Just forget what she said or did. Women get emotional and and irrational. 

But be careful, she will never forget anything you do "wrong". 

2) Before you criticize her, ask yourself if it really matters in the long run, are you better off letting things slide?

3) Be ready and happy to go to counseling. Even and especially in the first year. You will be grateful if you do. Better deal with a small issue now and learn to get along, than a huge unfixable problem later. 

Simply put. What makes sense to you, sounds silly to her and vice versa. Because women think in a totally different way. Counseling will help. 

4) Find ways to make her laugh every day. 

Women think too much and they need a rest from their brain chatter. Laughter gives them rest from it. She will appreciate it. It doesn't matter, even small funny things. 

5) Never raise your voice. It effects women with an instinct to be afraid, flee and protect. You will have a hard time getting back to normalcy. 

You might not realize that among men we raise our voice a lot. It's hard to change gears. 

We yell to make a point. Women only yell if they are angry. When your voice goes up they register he is angry at me. 

6) Compliment her every day. Find things to compliment. It could be something she did. Something she is wearing. Let her know that you notice and value her. 

7) Buy her flowers. Flowers say a lot. 
It says I like you. It says I am thinking of you. It says I appreciate you. It says you are beautiful to me. It says you are a princess that deserves pretty things. 

It says ״although I'm a guy and flowers that will die in a week are the biggest waste of money and makes absolutely no sense, you are still more than worth it to me".

If you are low on cash buy one flower or, even better, pick some wild flowers. 

8) Ignore statements such as "you don't have to buy me a gift for my birthday". 
Buy her a gift. 

9) Treat her with respect. Do chivalrous things. Open the door for her. Help her on with her coat. Help her into her seat. Bring her tea in a pretty cup and sit with her and listen. Let her feel taken care of. Make her feel like a princess. Every woman wants to feel like a princess. Of course you won't be able to do it all the time, but do it often enough that she knows.  

10) When she gets dressed nicely, take a moment and notice and tell her how pretty she looks. She spent a lot of time and energy getting dressed. Let her know that you appreciate her. Learn these words...
Try to use the right term. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Listen, Understand, Love

In this weeks Parsha, Vaeschanan, in the second verse of the Shema, we are commanded: And you should love HaShem...

When it comes to loving someone, you either do or don't. You cannot be commanded to love another. How then do we fulfill this commandment?

HaShem wants to be understood, known. The more we understand about HaShem the more we love him. Being that HaShem is infinite there is always more to know. 

To be loved, is to be understood. 

Most women know this naturally, as they yearn to be understood. When they are understood they feel loved. 

To understand, you must listen. To listen is to remove ones personal understanding and feelings on the subject and hear it from the other ones perspective totally. To listen is not just about hearing, it's about picking up on nuances such as facial expressions, body language and hints. To experience the other. 

Again, most women naturally know how listen, most men do not, hence the complaint "he doesn't listen". Good listening takes effort and could be exhausting. 

HaShem is saying, try to understand me, from my perspective. Hints are found all over the Torah. Pick up on the hints, listen. 

HaShem is asking us to understand: Why He created this world? How do we fit in the scheme of things? He wants us understand Him, to know Him. 

A hint to this is found in the first verse of the shema. 

שמע ישראל ה׳ אלוקינו ה׳ אחד. 
Listen Israel, HaShem is our GD, HaShem is one. 

In the Torah, this verse has two oversized letters ע and ד. Together they make up the word דע, to know or understand. 

שמע ישראל If you will listen. דע You will understand. ה׳ אלוקינו ה׳ אחד HaShem is our GD, HaShem is One. In other words, what HaShem is all about. ואהבת and then you will love HaShem...

Knowing HaShem's purpose, will motivate you and animate you, as you will find deep meaning in fulfilling HaShem's will. Not from a feeling of obligation but rather from love. 

Listen, understand, love. 

(For anyone wanting a deeper understanding of HaShem. I would suggest learning Chabad chasidus. Contact your local Chabad Rabbi for more info.)