30 May 2009
How wonderful to plant priorities."
The story reminded me about an incident which my aunt related to me. She had met a woman in Israel who had raised ten marvelous children. She asked her what was the secret to her success. The woman answered that before she would berate one of her children, she would ask herself, "is what the child did today, going to affect his character ten years down the line?" She explained to my aunt that one of her children was playing up on the roof and had knocked down a dud shemesh - a solar water heated tank, causing water to come gushing all over the roof. She was about to rebuke him, but knew, that ten years into the future, this incident would not have affected his character development. So, she kept quiet.
A wise relative told me about a time when her child was playing with a model airplane in the house. She had asked the child to stop, but to no avail. Suddenly, the airplane came flying into her head. She hit the child and raised her hand to strike him a second time. As she was about to hit him, she paused and thought to herself. The first smack was to teach the child a lesson. But the second smack is for me, because I am hurting. Slowly, she let her hand fall to the side.
28 May 2009
"Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melach HaOlam, Asher Kidishanu B`Mitzvotov, Vitzivanu, Al Mitzvat Eruv. "
One also recites an Aramaic declaration.
"Bahadayn aruva yehay sharay lanah la'aphoray ulevashoolay uleatemoonay oleadelookay sheragah ulesakana uleme'ebad tzarecanah, miomah tavah leshabesah" which translates as: "With this Eruv, it will be permitted for us to bake, cook, broil, preserve warmth, light candles, and do all necessary things on Yom Tov for Shabbat." The Declaration is also found in the Siddur."
Note, that since Jews in the diaspora celebrate Shavuot on Shabbat, in addition to Friday, the Torah reading on Saturday will be related to Shavuot. However, in Eretz Yisrael, the Torah reading will be the parsha of the week. Rabbi Lazer Brody notes that for six weeks, those outside of Eretz Yisrael will be one week behind the Parsha that is read in Israel.
27 May 2009
A number of years ago, four former students gave me the best present ever. One of the girls has a father who owns a store. One of the items that he sells is picture frames in which you can print your own message. The girls composed a poem entitled "Thank You!"
Two years together have come to an end
Two years of teaching with a helping hand
Two years to remember to look back and to say
Mrs. ___ has taught me English
She has helped me till today!
With warmest wishes and fond regards
As my eyes have wandered to the picture frame, over and over, I am struck with a warm feeling and I smile, in gratitude of my students' expressions of hakaras hatov.
A number of years ago, Time magazine published an article entitled, "The New Science of Happiness". The article featured "Eight steps toward a more satisfying life". Step number one was:
1. Count your blessings. One way to do this is with a “gratitude journal” in which you write down three to five things for which you are currently thankful—from the mundane (your peonies are in bloom) to the magnificent (a child’s first steps). Do this once a week, say, on Sunday night. Keep it fresh by varying your entries as much as possible.
Step number four was:
4. Thank a mentor. If there’s someone whom you owe a debt of gratitude for guiding you at one of life’s crossroads, don’t wait to express your appreciation—in detail and, if possible, in person.
Without reading the article, my students had completed step number four. To read full article, click here.
26 May 2009
To read article entitled "Reflections on the Shabbos rally" by Yaakov Menken, click here.
There are many interesting videos of the May 19th rally to promote Sabbath observance.
Rabbi Moshe Hauer spoke eloquently about the unity of the Jewish people.
"In the eyes of France, Jerusalem needs to turn into a capital for two states," he continued, emphasizing that French President Nicholas Sarkozy made the same point last year."
click on www.aish.com for interesting videos and articles.
25 May 2009
Another reason for staying up all night is that the Jews at Mount Sinai overslept on that historic Shavuot morning. We rectify this by staying up all night, to ensure that we won't sleep late on this day.
Staying up all night is not a halacha, but rather a custom for those who feel they are physically up to it.
The following video raises some interesting questions for those who stay up all night.
During the summer months, we study Ethics of the Fathers every week. One of the enjoinders in Ethics of the Fathers is "Hevei mekabel et kol ha-adam be-sever panim yafot: greet each person with a pleasant demeanor."
Avot d’Rabbi N. (33:4) teaches: “If a person gives his friend all the gifts in the world with a sour face, he has given him nothing. But one who receives his friend with a cheerful face, even if he has given him nothing else, has given him the greatest gift in the world.”
That same evening, I listened to Rabbi Wallerstein on torahanytime.com speaking about the use of cell phones. He described how people approached bank tellers and cashiers, gesturing to them, while talking on their cell phones and treating them with a total lack of respect.
The following day, I went to the supermarket. The cashier opened a new register and I was the first on line. Seeing that there was no one behind me, I started talking to her. I introduced myself and learned that her name was Tanya. She had been an owner of a Chinese restaurant for 20 years before beginning her stint as a cashier.
The next time Tanya sees me, I hope she will recall me with warmth, as the person who initiated a conversation with her, and not the one who treated her with total disregard as she was too busy talking on her cell phone.
24 May 2009
Subsequently, the soldier told his story to some Rabbis who said that he had merited to see the Gilui Hashchina - a revelation from G-d and that he should publicize his story.
You can download the audio in Hebrew.
..."Letters, which must be written in English and to which Pollard cannot reply, can be addressed to:
23 May 2009
The first mitzvah that the Rambam listed was:
1. Know there is G-d
God was sitting in heaven one day when a scientist said to Him, “God, we don’t need you anymore. Science has finally figured out a way to create life out of nothing – in other words, we can now do what you did in the beginning.”
“Oh, is that so? Explain…” replies God. “Well,” says the scientist, “we can take dirt and form it into the likeness of you and breathe life into it, thus creating man.”
“Well, that’s very interesting… show Me.”
So the scientist bends down to the earth and starts to mold the soil into the shape of a man. “No, no, no…” interrupts God, “Get your own dirt.”
Click on the video link below to listen to Rabbi Noah Weinberg zt"l as he explains the first mitzvah, "Know G-d."
22 May 2009
"Pokeach Ivrim is a blessing which gives thanks to Hashem for giving us our eyesight. Rav Shimshon Pincus emphasizes that when we recite this "brachah", we should concentrate on the specific aspects and particular advantages of being blessed with the ability to see. Seeing is living! One who lives in darkness does not experience the beauty of life. We do not realize the many gifts that are accorded us until they are taken away. If one wants to experience the value of each breath, he only has to place his head under water for a few moments. The same idea applies to eyesight. Seeing is believing. Witnesses testify based upon what they saw - not what they heard. What one sees becomes ingrained perpetually in his mind. This occurs every day of our lives. When we say Pokeach ivrim, we should stop and think about this wonderful gift. Perhaps we should close our eyes for a moment and think about how it would feel if this gift had not been given to us."
21 May 2009
Another example he spoke about was when a man came to him and said, "I don't feel comfortable buying flowers because I think it is a waste of money. If I buy my wife a dress, or an electrical appliance, I know that I am making an investment that will last for months, or even years. But flowers wither within days."
The man was counseled to step outside his way of thinking and to buy the flowers because his wife would appreciate the gesture.
"United Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided," Netanyahu said at a state ceremony to mark Jerusalem Day.
"Only under Israeli sovereignty will united Jerusalem ensure the freedom of religion and freedom of access for the three religions to the holy places," Netanyahu added.
Additionally, President Shimon Peres added his own comment.
"When Jerusalem was in non-Jewish hands, the Jews weren't allowed to pray at the holy sites; but under Jewish control, it is open to all faiths, and all prayers," he said.
Israel Harel writes in Haaretz in an article entitled, "Obama is dividing Jerusalem", "Today, Jerusalem Day, a state ceremony will be held marking 42 years since the liberation of Israel's capital. In his speech, Netanyahu can somewhat cool down Obama's messianic fervor and (politely) make clear to whom - exclusively - Jerusalem belongs. He can pledge that after the Paratroopers liberated the city in 1967, no foreign power will ever again pass through its gates."
Psalms:137:5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
Psalms:137:6 Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my highest joy.
20 May 2009
"Hashem’s messages are coming fast and furious, yet we sit here frozen in our goldena medina –with our golus mentality."
19 May 2009
To read the story of Ornah's farewell, click here.
“Mark-Mordechai, my precious and beloved son!
“Every day of my life I thanked HaKadosh Baruch Hu for giving you to me. Such a wonderful present – my own son, a part of my soul and essence. Mark, I loved you with all my heart. I dreamed about how I would raise you, teach you and guide you, and more than anything – love you. But HaKadosh Baruch Hu wanted otherwise.
“Let me tell you what I always wanted for you. I wanted to raise you to be a talmid chacham who fears Heaven, with refined character and derech eretz. My son, you are the most precious thing that I leave behind on earth.
“I want you to be a sefer Torah. My dearest, you were born for Torah and I did what I could to provide the conditions that will allow you to grow up to be a sefer Torah. Once you are on your way, I don’t want anything to hinder you, so I have made provisions so you will have support and backing. With Heaven’s help, you will become a beautiful rose in HaShem’s garden.
“You have a father, two grandfathers and uncles, including Uncle Ilan, who loves you as his own son. They will guide you and take care of your needs. The greatest Father of all is HaShem – Father, Guide and Aid to all orphans. He will protect you and accompany you all of your days.
“When I get to shamayim, I will continue to pray for you, that HaKadosh Baruch Hu protect you from harm, light up your path, guide you in the proper direction, and provide you with all of your needs.
“Never forget, my son, the Torah and the mitzvos are our purpose for being on earth. The days of our lives are limited and we may not waste them. Every day you must try to climb higher spiritually, for the ultimate goal is not this world but the next. The more mitzvos that you do and the more Torah you learn, the closer you will come to that goal. I so much wanted to raise you, help you and guide you, but HaKadosh Baruch Hu wanted something else. There is no doubt that His Will is correct and this is what is best, for He is pure goodness, merciful and gracious, slow to anger and great to do chessed.’
“My son, it is impossible for me to describe how difficult it is for me to leave you, but I want you to know that all the while that I was ill, and now, too, I tried with all my heart to feel and believe that everything is from Heaven. Everything is for the best, even this agonizing parting from you. “I hope that you, your father and the whole family will grow together spiritually and reach the highest levels of the Torah, each of you helping the other, so that all of you constantly progress and succeed.”
The letter was read by her husband at her funeral.
Let's give it a go, as well.
יהי רצון מלפניך אבינו שבשמים אב הרחמים והחסדים שתתמלא ברחמים ובחסדים על יואל זאב בן מירל ריסא חוה יעקב יוסף בן רייזל יוסף בן איטא רבקה ותבטל מעליהם כל מיני גזרות קשות ורעות ותקרע רוע גזר דינם לטובה וימצאו חן ושכל טוב לפניך ותתן חינם בעיני כל אדם. אבינו שבשמים אב הרחמים והחסדים מאוצר מתנת חינם תחוננו ותעננו ותעשה ברחמיך הרבים שלא יחושו צער וכאב ותשגיח עליהם ברחמיך הרבים ותמתיק הדין מעליהם, וכשם שריחמת על יוסף הצדיק והוצאת אותו מבית האסורים, כך תוציא אותם מבית האסורים. מלפניך מלכנו ריקם אל תשיבנו חננו ועננו, ושמע תפילתנו כי מלך חנון ורחום אתה
18 May 2009
Kindly explain to them that, although we understand the difficulties America is currently facing, as well as its need to appease various leaders in our region as a prelude to dealing with its own problems, nonetheless a two-state solution is not in Israel's best interest."
"How are you?" I began the conversation.
"No complaints", he answered and went on to elucidate, "A wise man once told me to complain is ingratitude."
"To complain is ingratitude. To complain is ingratitude." I let the phrase roll over my tongue a few times, allowing the words to seep into my consciousness.
In the future, I am going to make a concerted effort to be an optimist and to stop complaining.
A group of elderly, retired men gather each morning at a café in Tel Aviv. They drink their coffee and sit for hours discussing the world situation. Given the state of the world, problems with the Palestinians, the Iranian nuclear threat -- their talks are usually depressing. One day, one of the men startles the others by announcing, "You know what? I am an optimist." The others are shocked, but then one of them notices something fishy.
15 May 2009
14 May 2009
"On the day of reckoning many people will find unearned merits inscribed in their ledgers. They will say, "We have not performed these good deeds." They will then be told, "These are the good deeds of people who have spoken against you." Likewise, the people whose merits have been taken away will be told, "You have forfeited your good deeds when you spoke against others." Similarly, some will find offenses in their ledgers that they never committed and will be told, "These are the offenses committed by the people you have spoken against."
13 May 2009
"There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle."
I was reminded of the above quote when I read an article about Farrah Fawcett, a famous American actress who is gravely ill with cancer.
"..Farrah Fawcett, looking gaunt and exhausted, vowed to keep fighting the cancer's that slowly killing her and appealed to higher powers for a "miracle" cure.
"I want to stay alive," a weakened Fawcett said. "So I say to God, because it is after all, in his hands. It is seriously time for a miracle."
In the end, Ms. Fawcett realizes that her life is in G-d's hands. Let's realize this from the onset of our lives. This morning, I said "Modeh Ani" with a greater sense of appreciation. "I offer thanks before you, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great."
This week, I read an article in which the author stated that the way you say your morning prayers affects your entire day. Since I have read this statement, I find that my morning prayers have been different. I take extra time to say the prayers, and try to recite them with joy and gratitude, hoping those feelings will accompany me throughout the day.
"You don’t lose if you get knocked down; You lose if you stay down."
Finally, the former student booked a ticket to Europe and ascertained the woman's whereabouts. He knocked on her door, only to have the door opened and slammed on his face. After persistent knocking, he was able to request a glass of water from the woman and a chair to sit for a few minutes. As he got up to leave, he left her with the following words, "I just want you to know. You hold the keys". Met with a perplexed countenance, the student went on to explain. "You have the keys to defeating A.H. Your father wanted that his grandchildren should grow up in his footsteps and retain their Jewishness, while may his name be erased wanted to wipe out the Jews. You hold the keys to defeat him."
To make a long story short, the grandchild of the rabbi is now living in Israel as an observant Jew. I was reminded of this story when I read the article in the Jerusalem Post this week ago entitled, "Three priests" by Donald Snyder. The journalist describes three priests who were born Jewish, but embraced another faith.
I must say, I admire these men's self-confidence. Because one must have to possess oodles of self-assurance to be able to say, "My father didn't know the truth. My grandfather and the generations preceding him were stupid. My ancestors told me they were Jews. Thus, they accepted the truth of their religion as the only one to be followed by people born to the Jewish faith. But, I am smarter than them all and can unequivocally embrace another faith because I am the only one to see the truth."
Furthermore, one must possess great self-confidence to read the words of the Bible exhorting, "...Be fruitful and multiply..." (Genesis 1:28) and to read the words in Deuteronomy 6:7 about the Mitzvah for a father to teach his son Torah: “VeShinantam LeVanecha,” “Teach [Torah] thoroughly to your children” and not heed those words.
"G-d commanded me to bring children into the world and to teach them the Torah, but I am more intelligent. I will remain celibate and cut the branch off of my family tree. I will leave no one to follow in my path, no one to recite Yizkor for me or to do good deeds to elevate my soul, after I am gone from this world."
When the Pope visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, the other day, former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau was on hand to witness the occasion. Rabbi Lau is a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
To the three subjects of the Jpost article, I say, "You held the keys, just as Rabbi Lau, held the keys. He chose to establish a dynasty of observant Jews, following in their ancestors’ footsteps, and fulfilling their grandparents' dreams. You, as well, held the keys. And you chose to help an evil dictator fulfill his ultimate dream."
12 May 2009
The story is told of Rabbi Yosef Kahaneman, who lived in the Lithuanian town of Ponevich. In the 1930s, when the Nazi threat grew grim, he escaped and made his way to Palestine. Arriving on the shores of Tel Aviv, he proudly proclaimed: "I have come here to establish a Yeshiva."
Those who had come to greet the rabbi were perplexed: "Apparently you are not aware," they told him, "that Rommel's troops are now stationed in Egypt, and planning a total invasion of Israel. The Jewish Agency is destroying its records; the rabbis are distributing thousands of burial shrouds throughout the country. Our annihilation is imminent!"
"That will not deter me," replied Rabbi Kahaneman. "Even if I am able to spread Torah learning for only a few days, that in itself would be of eternal significance."
Rabbi Kahaneman built the Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, and named it after his Lithuanian town of "Ponevich." Today it is the largest Yeshiva in Israel with thousands of students."
8 May 2009
The Chofetz Chaim explained: "We are going to be pursued in this world. That is the nature of our existence. We should pray that if we are to be pursued, it should not be by issues of health, jobs or troubles with our families. If we are to be pursued, we pray that it be by the needs of others, by requests for doing good deeds of chesed."
"In Parashat Emor the Torah presents one of the most important of the 613 Biblical commands - the prohibition against "Hillul Hashem," defaming the Name of God: "You shall not desecrate My holy Name" (22:32). A religious Jew who acts in a discourteous or unseemly manner dishonors God, thereby desecrating His Name.
We currently find ourselves in the period of Sefirat Ha'omer, the weeks between Pesah and Shabuot, when we observe a number of mourning practices. Weddings and celebrations are not held, and we refrain from haircutting and shaving. During these weeks, we mourn the tragic death of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students, who all perished in the brief period between Pesah and Shabuot as a result of a severe illness. These students were outstanding Torah scholars, but, as the Talmud teaches, they did not treat each other respectfully ("She'lo Nahagu Kabod Ze La'ze"). They were punished for this disrespectful behavior, and all 24,000 students died a painful death.
Many have wondered why God visited such a severe punishment upon Rabbi Akiva's students. Certainly, it is understood that the Torah demands respectful treatment of other people, not to mention toward Rabbis and Torah scholars. But where do we find disrespectful behavior toward one's peers as a capital crime, which is punishable by deadly illness?
Two famous rabbis - the Ben Ish Hai (Rabbi Yosef Haim of Baghdad, 1833-1909) and the Hafetz Haim (Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan of Radin, 1839-1933) - both answered that in truth, Rabbi Akiva's students were punished for transgressing the sin of Hillul Hashem. The manner in which they spoke to, and treated, one another left people with a very bad impression of the Torah world which they represented. It made them think that Torah tarnishes, rather than enhances, a person's character, and that the Torah encourages unseemly behavior, God forbid. And it was for this defamation of the Torah that Rabbi Akiva's students were punished so severely. Failure to treat others respectfully does not, in itself, render one liable to severe punishment, but Hillul Hashem indeed ranks among the most grievous sins in the Torah, and thus Rabbi Akiva's students were killed.
This terrible tragedy should send a stern warning to all observant Jews today. As one Rabbi put it, all religious Jews today serve as ambassadors of Torah. We are easily identifiable to outsiders, and they reach conclusions about religious Jews based on how we present ourselves. We must exercise extreme care to act and speak politely and with consideration not only because this is what the Torah demands, but also so that we make a favorable impression of Judaism. Even if we do not always realize it, each one of us is an ambassador, and bears the obligation to present the proper image of Torah values.
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7 May 2009
"I recall radical Islamists around the world cheering the horrors of 9/11. That is the day all civilized people of all religions should remember," said Republican Sen. Fred Hemmings....
"Matnas Avot renders homiletically, “Do not judge the Unique One (יחידי).” Do not stand in judgment on G-d and the way He runs the world. Lovingly, accept his judgment.
The Chofetz Chaim compared the narrow vision of man regarding Divine Providence to the attitude of a guest at a synagogue. After watching the gabbai assign different people with aliyos(being called to the Torah) he approached the gabbai and asked, “Why do you pick certain people and skip others? Would it not be fairer to go in order, skipping no one?”
The gabbai answered, “Had you been here the last few weeks, you would understand everything. The ones I skipped today had received an aliyah in the last few weeks. Some had a family simcha or the like, and were given the proper privileges. On the other hand, many of the people I honored today have not had an aliyah in weeks. You cannot judge because all you know is what you saw this morning.”
Man in this world is like a guest. In his seventy or eighty years here, one never gets to see the whole picture. Hence it is foolish to think that one can fully understand how G-d runs his world. Therefore let one not try to “second-guess” G-d."
6 May 2009
Money can be transferred to others; it comes and goes. No one can give even his dearest friend another year to live. And no fortune, no matter how great, can purchase another day or week of life for a dying man. Yet the time we do receive from G-d, is given to us without payment of any kind.
Consequently, it behooves man to be fully aware of the value of time. How easy it is to let the hours and minutes slip through our fingers, to be lost forever! Time is the easiest commodity to waste; we don't even have to get up and go to the garbage can in order to "throw it out." It goes by without any effort on our part, never to return.
Not everyone uses the time allotted him with the same degree of efficiency. Someone who fills his days wisely, will derive pleasure and satisfaction from reviewing the accomplishments of the past. Not so, he who fritters away his days seeking fleeting pleasures of the moment. He finds no gratification in reviewing the "accomplishments" of days gone by, which he whiled away, "killing time." In truth, he destroyed not the time which Heaven allotted him, but himself.
Such a person tends to focus only on the future. He imagines to himself what further "pleasures" he can plan, what new pastimes he can engage in so that the days and weeks will pass by quickly.
When the time comes for man to pass from this world to the next, he takes with him only those days which he utilized for Torah, mitzvos, and good deeds. Time spent pursuing earthly pleasures for their own sake is left behind, lost forever.
When faced with the stark facts of his lifetime record, one who whiled away his days and years is overcome with regret. He might have done so much more, had he only utilized his time more constructively. Those who used their time constructively can look back on his lifetime with satisfaction and contentment.
Once man finds himself in the World of Truth, it is too late to correct his mistakes. We need to be made aware of the value of time here, and now, in this world.
Therefore, the Torah gives us a commandment, a mitzvah, which teaches us the value of time. This mitzvah is Sefiras Ha'Omer, the counting of the days between the first day of Pesach and the holiday of Shavuos, when we stood at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah.
These days are particularly dear to us; we can attain great spiritual treasures by exploiting them to the fullest. Therefore the Torah commanded us to count these days, that we be aware of the great gift they represent – time – and use it to the utmost to achieve accomplishments of permanent value, which will remain ours for eternity.
A number of hours later, after speaking to my friend, I found a video of Rabbi Krohn speaking about shidduchim. The video image is not the best quality, but the audio message comes across loud and strong.
I saw an advertisement for a singles weekend and I would like to pass along the information.
Sasson V’Simcha is organizing a weekend from:
May 22-May 24 in Ontario
for ages 25-37
6 singles met their matches in weekend 2008
National Council of Young Israel
A singles weekend is being organized in Belgium sponsored by Project SEED of Antwerp:
May 22-May 24
for French speakers
email: email@example.com for information
I once heard a lecture where the Rabbi related how he had seen a young boy whizzing through the davening. The young boy had finished shemoneh esrei while the Rabbi was still reciting the first few berachos. A few weeks later, the boy's father davened in the shul and the Rabbi was witness to his davening. It was then he understood where the boy had picked up his davening mannerisms. As the saying goes, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
You're upset that your son doesn't pick up a sefer? Has he seen you engrossed in a sefer?
We can't just send our kids off to out-of-town yeshivas and seminaries, hoping they will instill the values in our children that we haven't imparted to them during their formative years. We have to set the example.
5 May 2009
3 May 2009
The following are a few salient quotes taken from the article.
2 May 2009
Reading through the comments, I was particularly inspired by the following one:
"In Spanish we say "A mal tiempo, buena cara" meaning keep a positive attitude when faced with difficult situations."
Whether the words are in Spanish, English, Hebrew or Greek, I hope to remember the message. Keep on smiling. It's good and getting better.
1 May 2009
This one-sided interrogation went on for years until one day Isidore exploded. "Irv," he said abruptly. "I don't understand. For six years, I ask you about your wife, your kids, and your business? Not once, mind you, not once did you ever ask me about my wife, my kids, or my business!"
Irv shrugged. "Sorry, Izzie. I was really selfish. So tell me," he continued, "how is your wife? How are your kids? How is your business?"
Izzie let out a sigh of anguish and began to krechts. He put his hand gently on Irv's shoulder, tightened his lips, and shook his head slowly. "Don't ask!" he replied.
Parsha Parables by Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky Pg. 122 Feldheim Publishers
For those of you who won't know what a krechts is, I refer you to a previous post where the word is explained in truly comical fashion.
And for the rest of you, stop thinking only about yourselves and take a moment to listen to another's problems. Sometimes, all he needs is a sympathetic ear.
This was Rabbi Akiva - a man who could find the "silver lining" in even the most painful situations. When his students died, he seized the opportunity to begin a new institution of learning. When he looked upon the ruins of the Temple, he saw the hope and promise of Am Yisrael's glorious future. It was this outlook and attitude that made Rabbi Akiva the master of "Ve'ahabta Le're'acha Kamocha." An upbeat, optimistic person naturally looks for the positive aspects of those around him. If Rabbi Akiva could find the good side of the Temple ruins, then he could certainly find the good side of other people. What makes it so hard to love other people as we love ourselves is the natural inclination to focus upon one's own fine qualities and upon other people's faults. To overcome this tendency, we need change our overall attitude toward life, and follow Rabbi Akiva's inspiring example of optimism and positive thinking.
A famous story is told of Rabbi Eliezer Silver, a legendary 20th-century sage who served as a rabbi in Cincinnati and worked as a chaplain in the U.S. army. After World War II, he was sent to a displaced persons camp to serve as rabbi. Once, he was distributing siddurim to the people for prayers, and one man angrily refused."I don't want to ever look at or touch a siddur again!" he shouted. He proceeded to explain that in his concentration camp, there was one inmate with a siddur, and he turned it into a "business" of sorts, renting it out for use in exchange for food rations. The man was repulsed by that inmate's cruelty, using his siddur to deprive his fellow, starving Jews of their food, and he claimed he could never look upon a siddur again."Why do you look only at that man?" Rabbi Silver replied. "Why don't you look at those hundreds of hungry Jews who were prepared to sacrifice their food rations for the opportunity to pray?"
This should be our general attitude in life - finding the positive aspects of every situation. This attitude will naturally lead us to look at others, too, in a favorable light, helping us fulfill the timeless dictum of "Ve'ahabta Le're'acha Kamocha."
The above text was part of an email I received from www.dailyhalacha.com written by Rabbi Eli Mansour.
As the sentence was handed down today for the youngest of the bochrim who is imprisoned in Japan, let's practice the above precept of "Ve'ahabta Le're'acha Kamocha." Let's daven for him, as well as the other two bochrim who are in the midst of their hearings. Please pray for Yoel Zev ben Mirel Reesa Chava, Yaakov Yosef ben Raizel and Yosef ben Ita Rivka. Additionally, let's take upon ourselves an extra obligation in their merit.