In order to experience a close relationship to Hashem, one must work on
character and attitude. Giving tzedakah – charity is the key to obtaining
these qualities. Charity is not just in money or even gifts, but it is
expressed in the way we speak or listen to every person. Doing Hesed,
practicing random acts of love and
is another way to
improve midos. Nevertheless, we must also take care of ourselves.
Rabbi Hillel in the Mishnah Perkei Avos – Sayings of the
If I am not for myself, who am I
If I am only for
myself, what am I
If not now, when
Having a positive view of others and the world improves others and the
The way one looks at the world is the kind of world one
Consideration is to accommodate others without them asking. Though it is
one of the most overlooked character qualities, it is perhaps the most
important, encompassing all other qualities in some manner. In the house of
Israel, those who are masters of consideration are like one of the Lamid
Vav(nicks) of the work for whose merit the world is preserved.
example, if one is standing in a group talking, and someone has a cast on his
ankle, then it is considerate to suggest that the group move to a table to sit
to continue their
To do so
without revealing the reason is even a finer level of consideration.
Consideration without expecting anyone to notice is a mitzvah par
Of all the peoples of the world, the Jewish nation is the
most considerate of nations. This is often overlooked and doubted; yet this
humble nation refuses to overpopulate to give their children and
children’s children the same breathing space that they enjoyed in their
lifetimes. The Jewish birth rate being low is a merit to the Jewish people in
the matter of consideration.
Rabbi Akiba on Slander (Yoma 38b)
When I came and told thereof to R. Akiba he said: ‘Henceforth it is
forbidden to speak of them in dispraise’ — Referring to this Ben
Azzai said: By your name you will be called, to your place you will be restored
and from what belongs to you will you be given. No man can touch what is
prepared for his fellow and ‘One kingdom does not interfere with the other
even to the extent of one hair's breadth’
ordains the reward that each person receives in this world. To envy there is no
purpose. Often, the lack of a powerful position in society is a blessing,
leaving one more time for Torah learning and developing true wisdom.
To the degree that we feel something is missing in our life relates to a
lack of faith. For the world has everything we need. A person with complete
faith – Emunah Shlaima is satisfied with life. If something bad happens,
they understand the purpose of that event. People complain according to their
lack of complete faith. “Each person has something missing due to the
amount of faith that is lacking – that which is missing from perfection in
Emunah... those who have most missing are
people cannot find happiness in life. Those with complete Emunah find happiness
even in suffering. People with Emunah are always happy. This is the reason
that Rabbi Nachman of Breslov stressed happiness. For happiness is ultimately
Hence, the Ribono shel Olam in his Wisdom designed the world in
such a way that divine existence is not self-evident. Unnatural miracles cannot
be scientifically proven. All personal evidence of the divine is anecdotal in
order to magnify the greatness of faith. Faith applies to our relationship with
G-d. Also the Torah says the people believed in his servant Moses, who
possessed the highest level of prophecy.
Also we are permitted to
question the Torah, which is part of the process of Torah study. This is the
interpretative process. In addition, we can observe the world with scientific
method and apply our findings to the Torah to correct interpretations. Hashem
governs the world by natural law, which is fitting to study and use in an
Chesed is overflowing with good deeds for others. Abraham epitomizes this
quality with his open tent policy towards strangers. The essence of chesed is
to be aware of people, animals, and plants around oneself and to perform a good
deed when the opportunity arises. This should be done swiftly as if one is
being pursued by or pursuing the glory of
Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts
The Alter of Slobodka, Rav Nosson Zvi Finkel said:
All human beings are precious, for they contain the
image of G-d.Man is therefore obligated to
honor his fellowman and shower him with chesedfor by so doing he is
honoring G-d. He must be careful not to embarrass orabuse another
person, for by so doing he is slighting
The Orchos Tzaddikim discusses the ways of giving charity. To give with a
smile or to purchase what a person needs in advance is charity with loving
kindness, tzedakah with hesed. Giving frequently to those in particular need is
greater than a single large gift. One should be prepared to recognize and
execute on the opportunity of tzedakah. This is an aspect of zealousness
according to the M’silat Ysharim. Giving in secret is greater with
one’s neighbor, so that no one feels embarrassed by having their need
I have a friend who taught me the meaning of charity. She
prepares for meeting those in need by purchasing food certificates in advance to
give to the homeless. When seeing someone in need, she would stop to talk with
the person to see what she wants, whether she is hungry. She would take her
time talking to the person showing
while others find
themselves simply giving charity.
The rewards for charity are enumerated
in the Talmud and Bible:
Talmud on the Rewards for Charity
(To appease –
giver of a coin to the poor is blessed with six blessings,
consoles him with words with eleven blessings.
Rabbi Nachman teaches that these blessings complete to seven for the seven
planets and twelve for the twelve constellations when the reward of observing
the Shabbat is added to both which overcomes the mazelot—hence charity
For example, Abraham’s mazel was changed through charity so that he was
permitted to have children.
ISA 58:7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and
that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the
naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own
ISA 58:8 Then shall thy light break forth as the
morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness
shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy
ISA 58:9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall
answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away
from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking
A. The rewards for charity in money are:
- Shining light from ones own soul
- Righteous behavior will be easier.
- Awareness of the glory of G-d.
- Requests answered from G-d.
- Cries heard and response from G-d.
ISA 58:10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry,
and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light
rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
ISA 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and
satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a
watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail
ISA 58:12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the
old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and
thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell
B. The rewards for consoling another with words
- A personal radiant light
- Darkness removed from ones soul
- Guidance from G-d.
- Quenching the thirst of the soul.
- Fattening the bones, which purges the sin that weakens the bones.
- Beautiful growth
- An endless source of inspiration for others
- Children who will rebuild downtrodden places.
- Children who will build up later generations in wisdom.
- Become known as one that repairs the divisions of the world.
- Restore paths to dwell in.
The ‘paths to dwell
in’ are the ways of Torah. Restoration of the paths is necessary when the
people around are devoid of spiritual interests.
The Shabbat is likened to charity:
Sunshine on Shabbat is
charity to the poor/homeless.
“When the Sun shines brightly on Shabbat, the pauper is spared
appearing in the street in his tattered overcoat. The sun on Shabbat is thus a
ISA 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath,
from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy
of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor
finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
ISA 58:14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD;
and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee
with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken
The rewards for Shabbat described here are three:
- Delight in G-d.
- Walk upon the high places of the world, i.e. mountainous splendor or
- Receive the nourishment of the true life of Jacob, i.e. good children and
And you (plural)
shall rejoice before the Lord
The word sameach –
happiness or joy. The root sahm –
suggesting that one must put joy into one’s own heart. The plural suffix
of ‘rejoice’ teaches that we should rejoice with others as opposed
to being alone. Every person’s life goes up and down, yet each of us can
choose to be happy. We can choose to make other people happy. Hardships turn a
person back to God and joy brings love and closeness to
One who is loved by
man, is loved by God. That is when we help others spreading love, this is more
significant than even our worship of God. God doesn’t need our prayers or
sacrifices, but looks down like a father taking greater pleasure in how his
children treat each other.
The Orchos Tzaddikim writes that one should
wake up each day amazed with the world around. To see the Sun move across the
sky in its course, and the plants around growing, the stars above shining in
their constellations, and the planets advancing and regressing, brings one to an
amazement with G-d’s creation. If we wake up each day and remind
ourselves of how precious the world is, our joy with life will always grow and
give us happiness.
This, too, is for the
(Ta’anis 21a – Nachum Ish Gamzu)
Nachum Ish Gamzu was bedridden in his later years of poverty. He was
so poor and sick that his bedposts rested in posts of water so insects
couldn’t crawl onto his bed. Once his students visited and were aghast at
their teacher’s condition. They asked how could his life’s
righteousness lead him into such suffering. He replied, on the contrary, how
good his life is because of this suffering. Because of this suffering there
will be atonement in this world for my sins, rather than in the world to
מה דעבד רחמנא
All that the Merciful
One does is for the good
All difficulty has a purpose if only to test our soul or to remind us of
how thankful we need to be. The name of G-d here is Rachmana whose root Rechem
means womb. This teaches us that the unconditional love that a mother feels
for her unborn child is the same infinite mercy that G-d feels for us.
Moreover, we see that a feminine quality is the basis for this name of G-d here.
I AM THANKFUL FOR ......
THE PARTNER WHO HOGS THE COVERS
BECAUSE HE/SHE IS NOT OUT WITH SOMEONE ELSE
WHO IS NOT DOING DISHES
BUT IS WATCHING TV, BECAUSE THAT MEANS
AT HOME AND NOT ON THE STREETS.
FOR THE TAXES THAT I PAY, BECAUSE
MEANS THAT I AM EMPLOYED.
FOR THE MESS TO CLEAN AFTER A
BECAUSE IT MEANS THAT I HAVE BEEN
SURROUNDED BY FRIENDS.
THE CLOTHES THAT FIT A LITTLE TOO
SNUG, BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE ENOUGH
FOR MY SHADOW THAT WATCHES ME
WORK, BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM
FOR A LAWN THAT NEEDS MOWING,
WINDOWS THAT NEED
GUTTERS THAT NEED FIXING, BECAUSE
IT MEANS I HAVE A
FOR ALL THE COMPLAINING I HEAR ABOUT
THE GOVERNMENT, BECAUSE IT
THAT WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
FOR THE PARKING SPOT I FIND AT
END OF THE PARKING LOT, BECAUSE IT
MEANS I AM CAPABLE OF WALKING
THAT I HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH TRANSPORTATION.
FOR MY HUGE
BILL, BECAUSE IT
MEANS I AM WARM.
FOR THE LADY BEHIND ME IN
THAT SINGS OFF KEY, BECAUSE IT MEANS
THAT I CAN HEAR.
THE PILE OF LAUNDRY AND IRONING,
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE CLOTHES TO
FOR WEARINESS AND ACHING MUSCLES
AT THE END OF THE DAY, BECAUSE
MEANS I HAVE BEEN CAPABLE OF WORKING HARD.
FOR THE ALARM THAT GOES
OFF IN THE
EARLY MORNING HOURS, BECAUSE IT
MEANS THAT I AM
FOR TOO MUCH E-MAIL, BECAUSE IT
I HAVE FRIENDS WHO ARE
THINKING OF ME.
(SEND THIS TO SOMEONE YOU CARE
AND WHEN YOU THINK YOUR LIFE IS SO
BAD, READ THIS
To relieve anger, hatred, and resentment let the emotions pour out of
oneself like water. Visualization of water is the key as cool water carries
away bitterness, the polluted waters. The physical ailment that corresponds to
anger is food poisoning, since Torah is our food and anger is its poison. The
body heals itself from food poisoning by flushing itself with water for 36
hours. Thirty-six hours is the amount of time necessary to regain one’s
heart, which is the spiritual component of the cure.
Vengeance is a water vessel with a hole. It carries
nothing but the promise of
diplomatic instead of angry. Diplomacy, after all, is the art of doing and
saying the nastiest things in the nicest possible
Diplomacy is more
effective than anger in getting a message across.
Jacob had prophesied,
“I will divide them in Yaakov, and disperse them in Israel” because
of their anger and excessive punishment of the people of
Levi was scattered
throughout Israel in the Cities of Refuge. Though they were selected to be
priestly servants, they were humbled by their dependence on charity, by the
difficulties of those they would dwell amongst in these cities, and finally the
distances between their families throughout the land. Similarly, Shimon was
allocated a portion of land in the midst of Judah. In the end, they were forced
to give up their land as Judah’s numbers expanded and they became teachers
of children and poor
the teaching of children helped them develop self-control. This is always the
way of Hashem and we must always learn to see the gift and lesson in any
The time to
avoid anger is before it
The intellect should
prevent this emotion from arising. There are three periods in anger:
- Before it begins. One should be aware of controlling anger at this point
even before the emotion is even felt.
- After the emotion is felt but before one speaks or acts. This moment is
likely to be too late.
- After one has already spoken or acted in anger. The damage has already been
done, but one can still try to repair this damage.
to ‘Love the
three stages to anger:
- The cause
- One’s interpretation of the cause
- One’s reaction
The key to avoiding anger is to
change one’s interpretation of the cause. For example, one should not
assume that an insult is self-directed, but instead reflects another’s
difficult day or preoccupation with problems. Fasting is a tikkun for anger.
Fasting brings returning and repentance.
As the tzaddik speaks so G-d
fulfils, but there is also mido cnegdo mido. Guard one’s tongue to guard
all life. We are taught from the “Ways of the
7-6: Guard One’s Tongue to Guard All
Although anger is an extremely bad trait, one must sometimes conduct
himself in accordance with this trait, like when it is necessary to chastise the
wicked, or to instill fear in the members of his household, or to cast his fear
upon his students. And when one is angry with transgressors, he must weight the
extent of his anger.
Because Moshe our teacher, may peace be upon him, said to the children of
Reuven and Gad (Numbers 32:14): “You are a brood of sinful men,” his
descendant became a priest of idols—even though he was angry for the sake
of Heaven. All of man’s actions require the proper measure. He must
deliberate how to perform the mitzvos, both when angry and when in good
Know that the ripeness of a man’s intellect is the governing of his
anger, as it is written (Proverbs 19:11): “A man’s intellect is the
withholding of his
following story describes the challenges of dealing with some
Rabbi Joseph Gelberman on Patience
I was told this story by my father who was told it by his father and is
probably told by others as well. There was a Rabbi who was giving a lecture one
Shabbas. In the audience there was a person who interrupted the Rabbi and said,
“That is not correct.” Others in the group were aghast and wanted
to ask him to leave, but the Rabbi said it was OK, thought briefly, and than
corrected himself continuing. Again this person spoke up and again the Rabbi
corrected what he was saying. This went on for a period of a half an hour when
finally the Rabbi asked someone to remove him from the audience.
Afterwards the Rabbi was praying and felt that G-d was dissatisfied with
his behavior. He remarked to himself that he had been through 15 interruptions
from this person in 30 minutes and had been patient. Nevertheless, he heard G-d
saying, “I am disappointed in you. I’ve been putting up with this
person for 50 years and you couldn’t put up with him for just one
A technique to stay calm and reduce anger is to talk in a slow manner
about stressful subjects. Though the content will be the same, one will not
feel angry or
comes to a prophet unless he is in a happy state of mind. Jehoshaphat came to
Elisha to seek the prophecy of G-d, but Elisha displayed anger at the king, and
thus could not receive prophecy. To restore his spirit, Elisha requests music,
which brings the air of joy, which is essential for prophecy.
Elisha requests a Minstrel to prepare for Prophecy
And Elisha said to the king of Israel, What have I to do with you? Go to
the prophets of your father, and to the prophets of your mother. And the king of
Israel said to him, No; for the Lord has called these three kings together, to
deliver them to the hand of Moab. And Elisha said, As the Lord of Hosts lives,
before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of
Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward you, nor see you. But
now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the
hand of the Lord came upon him. And he said, Thus said the Lord, Make this
valley full of ditches. For thus said the Lord, you shall not see wind, neither
shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that you may
drink, both you, and your cattle, and your beasts. And this is but a light thing
in the sight of the Lord; he will deliver the Moabites also to your
Music corresponds to the world of Atzulut, that which is nearest to
the Lord. Music refreshes a person, increases joy, and patience.
Text 7-9: Ecclesiastes 9:17
The words of the wise spoken peacefully are heard –
‘peacefully’ – b’nachat means with quietness,
restfulness, or gentleness. In other words a soft voice is heard. A soft
voice turns away wrath.
“The Chazon Ish once testified that his influence was due to the fact that
he was careful with his tone of voice when he advised
Sherrie B. Miller
Chazal teach us that to avoid being swept away by angry feelings, the
hierarchy of “menschlech” behavior is firstly through thought,
(using our mind), then emotions and only then can we properly spring into
action. In Hebrew, the acronym for “moach” (mind), “lev”
(heart/emotions), and “claiyot” (kidney, the symbol of
action/behavior) is MeLeCh, King. By operating in light of this wise progression
we achieve the regal identity and dignity of a king. When we act counter to this
formula and confuse the order and give priority to our emotions we obtain,
“lemech,” (fool) and when acting before thinking, I am
“klum” (a nothing)!
his emotions ahead of his mind, leading to unnecessary words, but his mind is
before his actions so he survives. A klum –
decisions often putting actions before heart and mind. Sometimes quick action
leads to survival, sometimes not. A king, melech –
puts his mind
before his emotion and considers his emotions before he takes action, usually
leading to the best results.
Vows are to be avoided according to the
Torah, since one cannot know in advance of extenuating circumstances. Jephthah
made a vow that if Hashem would grant him victory, he would sacrifice the first
thing that would emerge from his house on his way home.
"Whatever emerges and comes out from the doors of my house to meet me, when
I return in peace from the people of Ammon, and that shall be to the Lord and
offered up as an offering”.
Vows are a form of idolatry, because
they turn a word into an idol, since ones word can cause one to violate the
Torah. Those who try to extort promises become consumed with anger if they are
not fulfilled. Vows lead to anger because of idolatry.
Insulting, Misleading, Slander
Path of the Just on Politeness
Do not taunt your neighbor.
This means that you must
neither do nor say to him that which might shame him,
Though there be no one
Ignore insults and
be glad to consider them atonement for
(King David reacted
this way upon hearing Shimi’s
curse, since the Almighty must have told him to curse David!”).
Naftali Hoffner on Ignoring Insults
When you refrain from reacting in the face of insults:
1. You will find favor in the eyes of the Almighty and you will win
friends, as it says,
‘People who are insulted but do not return insults, who are humiliated
without replying in kind, but instead take their trials in stride – to
them refers the verse,
“And His friends – will be like the sun rising to its noontime
2. You shorten the time of the unpleasant confrontation because if you do
not react, it makes no sense for the other side to continue with the
I was always first to greet another, both Jew and
non-Jew. — Yoachanan Ben Zakkai
This will bring one to a greater concern about the welfare of ones
neighbor. A person should accustom oneself to seeing his neighbor and greeting
him. Often people feel too shy and insecure to greet others. This is a lacking
of self-esteem. They should give more charity, do acts of kindness, and then
they will come to greet their neighbor and learn from their teachers with
“If you see a person suffering, you give that
person kind words to appease their suffering. This person is a M’daber,
who is far above an ‘animal’ who is keeping Shamir haLashon,
guarding of the word.”
There are also animals who when they see a person suffering will try to cheer
them up. I have seen this with an African Gray parrot called Tov who would
‘bob’ his head up and down in an attempt to get one to
Often pet dogs will
come over to comfort their companions.
In the Talmud Tractate Shabbat:
“Rabbi Judah said in the name of Rav: ‘The welcoming of guests is
greater than greeting the Shekhinah.’ For Scripture says ‘PASS NOT
AWAY, I PRAY YOU, FROM YOUR SERVANT’ (Gen. 18:3). Said Rabbi Eleazar:
‘Note that the ways of God are not those of man. Among people, a lesser
person could not say to a greater one “Wait until I come to you,”
but Abraham was able to say that to God.’”
Rabbi Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl
This is what really happened to our father Abraham. He was engaged in
discourse with God (“greeting the Shekhinah”), as we learn from the
verse THE LORD APPEARED TO HIM. When he saw the guests coming, he asked of God
that there too, while he was to be engaged in welcoming the guests, PASS NOT
AWAY, I PRAY YOU, FROM YOUR SERVANT (Gen. 18:3). There too may I remain
attached to You, so that this not be an empty mitzvah. Be with me so that I may
perform the mitzvah in such a state that it too be a “greeting of the
Now Rav’s point that the welcoming of guests is greater than greeting
the Shechinah is proved by Abraham’s action. Were this not the case,
Abraham would hardly have left off a conversation with God to go do something of
less certain value. This is especially true since “they appeared to him
as Arab nomads”; they did not have a divine appearance. The mitzvah
itself was very great even if it were not a “greeting of the
Shechinah.” Abraham decided to fulfill this commandment with absolute
wholeness. Therefore he said: DO NOT PASS AWAY, I PRAY YOU, FROM YOUR
One should not seek after higher positions for honor. The avoidance of
honor permits one to grow into a better person. If one is asked to take a
higher position with an increased service, one should consider acceptance with
the thought of being a good person always in the back of one’s mind.
M’silat Ysharim has the following to say on the
Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, forfeited his share in the world to come only
because he coveted honor. “The Holy One, blessed be He,” said to
him, ‘Repent thee; and I, thou, and the son of Jesse will stroll together
in the Garden of Eden.’ ‘Who will go first?’ asked Jeroboam.
‘The son of Jesse,’ answered the Holy One, blessed be He. ‘If
so, I will not repent’” (Sanhedren 102a)
This teaches not to be jealous and seek after
another’s position of honor.
What caused the destruction of Korah and his whole company if not the lust
for honor, as we may infer from the fact that Moses said to them, “And
seek ye also (the)
16.10). And our Sages tell us that Korah rebelled because Elzaphan, the son of
Uziel had been made prince, an appointment which he had coveted for himself
(Num. R. 18.2).
This teaches us to recognize the honor that G-d has already granted us
and be satisfied. Honor is like the lust for money that once we let it take
hold of us, has vshalom—it will possess us in an endless desire.
What, if not the craving for honor, drove Saul to persecute David? We
read, “And the women sang one to another in their play, and said,
‘Saul hath slain his thousands and David his ten
One cannot be a hold fast
, but one must always
relinquish, and let the superior of the next generation rise to leadership and
honor. There are also great opportunities for charity.
To forgive is to behave in the image of
There is a teaching from Talmud Tractate Rosh Hashanah that if one forgives
slights or insults done to him, he will be forgiven of sins. This forgiveness
is out of the side of divine justice since one is forgiven in kind for forgiving
others. Forgiveness also dissolves anger, which opens a gateway to
On Yom Kippur 5757, I became irritated by the behavior of a few children,
whose parents brought them to services, and were not reproving them on the
proper way to behave in the sanctuary. However, as I thought about my anger, I
wondered how possibly Hashem could forgive me for my bad behavior throughout the
year. The answer appeared in the prayer
עזי פנים ואתה
קשי ערף ואתה
מלאי עון ואתה
We are hard faced,
but You are merciful and compassionate;
We are stiff necked, but You
are long in patience (long faced awaiting our return).
We are full of
sin, but You are full of mercy
As for us, our days are a passing
shadow; but your years are never ending.
I exclaimed, “How can we be so bad when you
are so good!” At that moment, I chose to forgive these children in my
mind. I then turned to Hashem and I said, “If I could forgive these
children, and your mercy is so much greater than mine, surely you can see to
forgive us all in the year to come.”
7.12.1 Calming a person down
Listening to negative opinions about another is a mitzvah when the person
is angry or upset and one knows that by listening, the speaker will feel better
and will no longer feel the need to state negative opinions about the target
must be sure not to believe what one has
This is the mitzvah
of calming a person down.
7.12.2 Showing respect to everyone
There is a mitzvah to show respect for
One should try to
avoid ending a conversation first, if the other person wishes to continue
talking and there isn’t improper speech. In this way, one shows respect
for the other person. One is commanded to spend time with one’s spouse.
This means that it is a mitzvah to listen to him or her until s/he completes
what s/he needs to say.
7.12.3 True Speech
Rabbi Nachman concisely sums up the
Rabbi Nachman on True Speech
1. Not all words are considered speech. Words not heard or accepted are
not called speech, as in (Psalms 19:4), “There is no speech and no words
without their voice being heard.” Now the main reason words are accepted
has to do with the good they contain, because everyone desires good. Therefore,
when the words contain good, then speech is heard and accepted; but when the
words have no good in them, they are not accepted. How do we create the good in
the words? This is done by taking speech from daat (holy knowledge), then it
will have good in it; but when speech is without daat, then it has no good, as
in (Proverbs 19:2), “Also, for the soul to be without knowledge is not
good.” The soul is speech, as it is written (Genesis 2:7), “Man
became a living soul,” the Aramaic translation of which is a “a
2. Now, raising and enhancing daat is accomplished
through praise of the tzaddikim. By praising and extolling the tzaddikim, daat
is elevated, corresponding to (Deuteronomy 32:11), “Like a nesher (eagle)
arousing its kein (nest).” Nishra is the spirit, the concept of
“Footnote 8: praising...the tzaddikim, daat is elevated.
mentioning the praise and glory of the tzaddikim, a person invokes their merit
and spiritual power. His daat is thereby elevated, so that his speech—now
drawn from enhanced daat—contains the quality of good. His words are thus
heard and accepted (Parparaot LeChokhmah). The Be’Ibey HaNachal explains
that drawing speech from enhanced daat entails drawing close to the tzaddikim.
By being close to them and personally witnessing their greatness, a person is
consistently moved to praise the
From other of Rebbe Nachman’s teachings it becomes clear that the
quality of good in one’s speech can also be achieved by finding good in
others and praising them. As Rebbe Nachman emphasized, all Jews are called
(Rabbi Nachman of Breslov)
7.13.1 A Woman’s Nature
A woman’s nature is to plan. This is her Binah Yeserah (extra
insight). Sometimes this can be disturbing to a man who has many things on his
mind at once and does not want to be burdened with an extra plan. Nevertheless,
he should realize that for the woman to plan itself is important and not
necessarily its contents. If the day should arrive and circumstances
necessitate changes, these are acceptable to the woman if she sees that the man
values her, her plans, and her needs.
7.13.2 A World Full of Strife
By lessening quarrels in our families, we improve our community and we
improve the world. The microcosm of our life affects the macrocosm of the world
and living a Torah life improves the entire world. As Rabbi Nachman
Rabbi Nachman on Strife
The world is full of strife. There are wars between the great world
powers. There are conflicts within different localities. There are feuds
among families. There is discord between neighbors. There is friction within a
household, between man and wife, between parents and children.
Life is short. People die every day. The day that has passed will never
return, and death comes closer every day. But people still fight and never once
remember their goal in life.
All strife is identical. The friction within a family is a counterpart of
the wars between nations. Each person in a household is the counterpart of a
world power, and their quarrels are the wars between those powers. The traits
of each nation are also reflected in these individuals. Some nations are known
for anger, others for bloodthirstiness. Each one has its particular trait. The
counterparts of these traits are found in each household.
You may wish to live in peace. You have no desire for strife. Still you
are forced into dispute and conflict. Nations are the same. A nation may
desire peace and make many concessions to achieve it. But no matter how much it
tries to remain neutral, it can still be caught up in war. Two opposing sides
can demand its allegiance until it is drawn into war against its will. The same
is true in a household.
Man is a miniature world. His essence contains the world and everything in
it. A man and his family contain the nations of the world, including all their
A man living alone can become insane. Within him are all the warring
nations. His personality is that of the victorious nation. Each time a
different nation is victorious, he must change completely, and this can drive
him insane. He is alone and cannot express the war within him. But when one
lives with others, these battles are expressed toward his family and
There may be strife in the household of a tzaddik. This too is a war
between nations. It is also the war between the twelve tribes, such as between
Ephraim and Judah. When the messiah comes all wars will be abolished. The
world will have eternal peace, as it is written (Isaiah 11:9) “They will
neither hurt nor destroy
(Rabbi Nachman of
Apathy comes from depression. Apathy lessens the fear of G-d. What is
the way out of apathy? We must focus on the fact that even Fear fears G-d as
Rabbi Nachman teaches, “The quality of fear itself fears
Baal Tshuvah seeks closeness to G-d by soaring above apathy, above fear, above
love, to a place that only his soul can fathom. What is this place? It is none
other then ‘Awe’ in the Presence of G-d. Kirkergaard spoke of this
awe and is quoted on this subject in Abraham Joshua Heschel’s, “A
Passion For Truth.”
Rudolf Otto also spent many years traveling and researching the universality of
the subject recording his ideas in “The Idea of the Holy.” In
apprehending the “Numinous” – G-d, Otto says:
Rudolf Otto on the Numinous
We are dealing with something for which there is only one appropriate
expression, mysterium tremendum. . . . The feeling of it may at times come
sweeping like a gentle tide pervading the mind with a tranquil mood of deepest
worship. It may pass over into a more set and lasting attitude of the soul,
continuing, as it were, thrillingly vibrant and resonant, until at last it dies
away and the soul resumes its "profane," non-religious mood of everyday
experience. . . . It has its crude, barbaric antecedents and early
manifestations, and again it may be developed into something beautiful and pure
and glorious. It may become the hushed, trembling, and speechless humility of
the creature in the presence of—whom or what? In the presence of that
which is a Mystery inexpressible and above all creatures.
Encyclopedia Britannica describes the content of the divine
This content presents itself under two aspects: (1) that of "daunting
awfulness and majesty," and (2) "as something uniquely attractive and
fascinating." From the former comes the sense of the uncanny, of divine wrath
and judgment; from the latter, the reassuring and heightening experiences of
grace and divine love. This dual impact of awesome mystery and fascination was
Otto's characteristic way of expressing man's encounter with the
The fear and trembling, which accompanies the Baal Tshuvah is awe.
This is the quality of the Fear that fears G-d.
Pray for the peace of Israel and let her invest in establishing a society
without jealousy. For when King David and King Solomon had solidified the
kingdom of Israel so began peace and a divided kingdom arose. Jealousy exists on
the microcosm as well. The punishment for jealousy is rotting
This is explained
well by the Mei
The Mei HaShiloach on Jealousy
“And I will take away the heart of stone from your flesh, and I will
give you a heart of flesh”—lev baasar (Yechezkel, 36:26), meaning, a
heart which has no desire of [boser] his neighbor’s portion. For the sin
of the generation of the flood was envy, where everyone had an evil eye on the
portion of his neighbor. On this, God said to Noach, “and you shall swarm
in the land,” for “swarming,” shratsu in Hebrew, indicates
smallness, like the interpretation of Rashi z’l on th phrase,
“swarming creature” (on Bereshit 1:20, where he says, “every
living thing that is not high from the ground is called sherets”). So
this is “swarm in the land,” meaning to make do with the small
portion given to you, and not to be jealous of the portion of your neighbor.
“And increase therein” means that from your own portion you will
obtain greater delights each time, and in it you will be able to experience
When jealousy is for the sake of heaven, it is
Rachel displayed her
concern to build up the house of Israel by being willing to let her handmade
procreate with her husband.
Jealousy for the sake of heaven
Since it was written, before she went to Yaakov, “and Rachel was
jealous,” therefore Yaakov became angry, because before she even came to
him she needed to clarify her jealousy. Then when she said to Yaakov,
“here is my handmaid before you...and I too will build [the future tribes]
from her,” we see that her intentions were for the sake of Heaven because
she included her handmaid in her household (that she did it for the children and
not just for herself).
Adoption is noble based on this principle, for one is building up
Israel while not building up oneself.
We must strive to judge others
judges others on the scale of merit will be judged by the Almighty on the scale
righteousness shall you judge your
to Midoth Improvement is a consolidation of the principles of Torah in this
Guide to Midoth Improvement
- “Whoever judges another person favorably will himself will be, too,
judged with sympathy.”
- “...and you, just as you judged me [i.e. in spite of apparent clear
indications to the contrary] favorably...so also shall the Almighty judge you in
a positive light.”
- “Be aware of the fact that as long as:
- You are merciful [e.g. when judging others] — the Almighty will have
mercy on you!”
- You are merciless... the Almighty will not have mercy on you!”
- If you see a person who stresses only the good points when discussing
others, even the angels will defend him before the Almighty — but if a
person criticizes others, the angels will also find fault with him!
- It is of particular importance to judge a person favorably if, in the past,
he was good to you –– and that, whatever he did for you, was only
for your good — because if you feel that he did so in his own interest,
you show ingratitude!
One must not only avoid committing slander, but also hearing it. The
penalty for listening is the same. The penalty for lashon harah, the bad
tongue, is reincarnation as a dog. This is taught in the Zohar Hakodesh, the
Observing ones beliefs consistently is a trait of hasidut – devotion.
This is item seven from M’silat Yesharim. Hasidut also means saintliness
or piety. Rabbi Menken of ‘Project Genesis’ shows how this trait
is representative of Avraham but not of Lot:
Rabbi Menken on Principles
Volume VI, Number 6 – Vayeira – Genesis 18:1 –
When a person adopts a set of principles and sticks by them, then
people will respect and honor him or her for adhering to them. People
however grudgingly, understand that those principles guide the
to behave in a certain way. But if a person is careless with his or
principles, then if one day he or she chooses to observe them in
difficult situation, people will not say that this is a moral choice
they might rather assume the worst!
"Let some water be brought, and wash your feet, and relax under the
We see that Avraham wanted his visitors to wash their feet
before entering his house. Rashi explains that Avraham thought that
three angels, who appeared to be ordinary men, were idolaters from
region who worshipped the dust of their feet. He was therefore careful
ensure that they did not bring the objects of their idolatry into his
Rashi goes on to say that Avraham's nephew Lot was not careful about
and therefore he brought two of these same guests into _his_ home
having them wash their feet.
If we look, however, at the verse later where Lot brings in the
[19:2], Rashi provides a very different explanation. Although Avraham
extremely careful that they do so, it is, of course, quite normal
people to wipe the dust off their feet before going into someone's home.
why, then, did Lot deviate from this norm? The answer is that the
people of S'dom did not allow people to shelter guests, leaving the
to sleep outside where the residents could rob them at will. Rashi tells
that Lot was therefore concerned that if he would bring the guests in
their feet already clean, the people of the city would accuse him of
sheltered guests for several days. By having them go into his house
the dust still on their feet, anyone would see that these people had
come from the desert.
The Avnei Azel says that there is no contradiction between the
explanations offered by Rashi. When discussing the verse regarding
Rashi accentuates the difference between Avraham and Lot, but both
are correct -- the first is a prerequisite for the second.
Had Lot been careful to keep any possible idolatry out of his home, then
would have been obligated to think only about that, and not to worry
what the people of S'dom might think. A person is supposed to be willing
give up his life in order not to worship idols, and the Avnei Azel
that were Lot careful about objects of idolatry, he should have
willing to risk his life to keep them out of his home. Therefore we
need to know that Lot was not concerned about this, before
why he brought in his guests in a way which was unusual in any
The Avnei Azel goes on to point out that one could also say as
that had the people of S'dom known that Lot, like his uncle Avraham,
concerned about the prohibition of idolatry, then they would have
that this was the reason the people were entering his house with
feet, rather than accusing Lot of sheltering guests for several
without telling them. Given that Lot was worried about this accusation,
is clear that the people of S'dom already recognized him as someone who
never been careful about this at all.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken
A man’s relationship with the Shechinah is from Emet – truth.
A woman’s relationship with Kingship is dependent on Emunah – faith.
The relationship between lovers reflects this relationship on high. A man must
speak truthfully always to find the attribute of truth and union with his wife.
A woman must have faith in G-d to develop faith in her husband. Today, a lack
of truth loses trust and a lack of faith loses respect all too quickly in a
See the work of Elohim for Who will be able to
that which he has made crooked.
The paradox of G-d is that while there is free will Hashem is
omniscient. Most understand the necessity of free will to demonstrate
self-improvement. Free will is a gift from G-d that the angels basking in
G-d’s continual light cannot experience. Still, Hashem’s
omniscience is also a gift. From omniscience, we know that the path Hashem has
let us travel was done with His knowledge from beginning to end and that it is
for the good. As a friend told me, “there is nothing bad that happens,
but only sad.” 
will add that even the sad is for the good and that the vitality of life
overcomes sadness and the song of love transcends all.
The Gemara Sotah
teaches that one who tells the truth always can detect a lie from any person.
The lie is to be found in the voice. “Words spoken in truth can be
recognized as truth; otherwise they have a tainted
There is only one word in Hebrew for pride and that is Gaiva. It is from
the word for back Gav and refers to one greeting another with the attitude that
one is more important than the other. In English, there are many words for
pride: arrogance, gloating, egotism, self-importance, haughtiness, conceit,
vanity, airs, and narcissism. Pride is necessary for kingship and was missing
in the House of Israel, until Ruth brought it with
One must obtain the level of humility before being able to experience
authentic kabbalah. And what is humility? This is none other then to be stoic,
to be indifferent to one who complements as one who
nullify means humility in Hebrew. The verb l’vatel is to lesson the
importance of something. Humility creates an opening for G-d in ones heart.
Pride fills the opening in place of G-d, has v’shalom. Often times, very
wealthy people have a problem with faith. This is because they think they can
do everything themselves with their own wealth and have not left an opening for
G-d in their hearts. When bad things happen to people, G-d is giving us a
chance to refocus our priorities, understand better the plight of each other,
and return to Him with a complete heart.
Nevertheless, because G-d saw
that the Jewish people were deficient in conceit, He made them his chosen
people. Our pride is in the Torah, pursuing Truth and the Will of
“Hey, just relax. God is in control.”
I saw this motto on a bumper stick with one penguin
talking to another who had just been half swallowed by a giant
There are a lot of people who are stressing out because of the pressures of
life, because of temptations that are assailing them, all kinds of things. And
those of us who have walked with God a little longer, we should be able to take
them under our wing and say, “Hey, just relax. God is in control. We just
need to make our requests known to God. Let’s pray about it and not worry
The weekly Shabbat is another answer to anxiety. The
prohibitions on the Shabbat are designed to liberate one from all forces of
anxiety that are all forms of work, i.e. turning on light switches, cooking,
driving, writing, typing etc. On Shabbat, we will find the time to attend a
service, read a book, take a nap, dream a dream.
Often when people listen, they are not hearing from the position of the
speaking person, but instead interested in more of their own next comment to top
what they just heard. On a slightly lower level is to hear everything in a
manner to apply ideas to ones own interpretation. One often hears conversations
where each person is trying to out top what the last person
Recent studies indicate that laughter is beneficial for dilating blood
vessels through the release of nitric oxide, which also reduces platelet
aggregation. Laughter also reduces stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine,
which reduces steroid obesity. Also laughing releases endorphins, which
relieves pain. Finally laughter boosts the number of antibodies and improves
the immune system, possibly related to the cortisol
there is a Perkei Avos that downplays levity as leading to lewdness and other
vice. The health benefit of laughter, which may save ones life, brings this
oral law advice into question.
Hebrew Tahes means to order or press out as with a mold. This is also an
attribute of G-d who ordered and fashioned the world. L’havdil, Yiddish
Tuches is the butt. Yiddish to English Tushi is the whole bottom.
baby hates having his nose wiped. The other day after doing this he grabbed a
hold of my nostril and started yanking it upward. I guess this is how he
How do babies know to blow their nose. It is because they can
blow bubbles that they are encouraged.
My fiancé examines my house
before our marriage. She finds one room that is filled with shoes. She asks
what is that? I tell her that is the shoe room, where the shoes live. She
tells me she is reminded of the piles of empty shoes from the
A friend at work is looking for a Kleenex. I tell him no good
contributing to the landfills. Instead why don’t you just suck it in and
Baby dials 911 on the phone accidentally and is screaming on
the pick up. Cops come by; see marks on baby’s face where he scratched
Important to the well-being of organizations, this often overlooked quality
Sept. 6, 1996. At a
visit to a diner, I noticed a homeless person who had come in off the street and
was sitting at the counter near me. He ordered a hamburger making sure the
waitress understood that he did not want any condiments. When he received his
bill, I saw him check the price right away. As I was leaving I debated offering
him money to pay for his lunch considering that he might be embarrassed. Then I
placed myself in his position. Some rabbis would travel incognito as beggars to
understand the plight of others better. I recalled my backpack trips through
Europe where I would stop at a diner for rest as well as food. I paid the
man’s lunch and he was grateful.
Lessons from our Teeth,
Moshe Goldberger, Staten Island, NY, quoting Rav Avigdor Miller, p.
made this suggestion August 8th
, 1999 to the group on behalf of Lee
while not inferring it be for any particular person. This was at Ira’s
yearly summer get together in the San Jose foothills at 4111
Rosenfield, Seven Beggers (2nd & 3rd Day), Audio lecture, http://europe.audio-stream.net:7080/Media/Rosenfeld/Wisdom_34.m3u
By the fear of the
Almighty, or by His love.
Sparks of Mussar, page
Moharan, Volume IV, #31:1, page
Rabbi Zvi Aryeh
Rosenfeld, quoted in Likutey Moharan, Vol. IV, #31:2, note 15, page
Torah, Pliskin, Portion Reah, subject Joy.
Email 9/11/2001, not
sure of the original source.
See Section 31.27.1 Quotes
Star Trek, The Klingon
Gambit, Robert E. Vardeman,
Genesis 49:7 as
brought forth by Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Joshua, page
Vayechi as brought forth by Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Joshua, page
It’s all a
GIFT, Miriam Adahan.
Rabban’s letter to his son: 4.6.1
Lopin discusses this in Lev Eliahu as
edited by Rabbi Gavriel Zaloshinsky, trans. Rabbi Shraga Silverstein, Feldheim,
Tzaddikim, pages 246-247.
Paraphrased from Rabbi Doctor Joseph H. Gelberman, Kabbalah Instruction, San
Francisco Yoga Center,
A Letter for the
Ages, Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feur,
Sherrie B. Miller is
a Jewish matchmaker on SawYouAtSinai and a dating coach in Jerusalem. She
received her counseling degree from the Michlala in Jerusalem and an M.A. in
Jewish Education from Touro College. Sherrie is certified by Midreshet Emunah
and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital couple’s
counselor and Kallah teacher.
Moshe Hayyim Luzzatto, translated by Mordechai Kaplan trans. page
Kipper, atonement is
2:16:10, Sef. Chas. 39; Sef. Hal.
Guide to Midoth
Improvement, Naftali Hoffner, Feldheim, pp
Rosenfeld, Makos 2 lecture, http://www.breslov.com/Rosenfeld
The Light of the Eyes,
Rabbi Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl, trans. Arthur Green, pp.
Yesharim, Moshe Hayyim Luzzatto, Chapter 11, Mordechai Kaplan trans. page
Korah who was a
Levite already had the privilege of ministering in all of G-d’s
with a Thousand
entry ‘image of G-d’ for cross
Atonement, Hebrew Publishing Company, page
The female nature
cleanses itself in this manner. It is a mitzvah for a husband to help his wife
by listening to her, though a husband should not accept ideas defaming others.
A man should be aware that someone who offended one’s wife one day is as
likely to be the best friend of one’s wife the next
Chofetz Chaim, Guard
Your Tongue, Ch. 6:9 – Calming down the speaker, page
The Jewish Marriage,
Rabbi Tsvi Dov Travis, page 206.
Likutey Moharan Vol. IV
# 29:1,2 pp. 203-205
Gems of Rabbi
, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, pages 66-
#148, Rabbi Nachman
of Breslov, Volume 10, page
A Passion For Truth,
Abraham Joshua Heschel.
Gemara Tractate Yona
Living Waters, The Mei HaShiloach, Rabbi Mordechai Yosef of Isbitza, trans. and
edited by Betsalel Philip Edwards,
Feldheim, page 453.
Guide to Midoth
Improvement, Naftali Hoffner, 1991,
Rosenfield lecture, Makos 2, 1:20:30 hr:mm:ss,
David Lewis quoting Mannis Friedman, April 28,
Rosenfeld, Gemara Shir Sotah, Track
See Pride was not
found in Israel before
Rabbi Isaac of
, Meir Eynayim – Light of the Eyes, Meditation
and Kabbalah, page 143.
Similar to the Jewish
principle ‘to cast or throw ones burden to or on Hashem’—See
the end of 13.8.3
Psalms – Pseukei
D’Zimra – Yetzirah – World of Formation
Christine, SLC Institute