web analytics
January 29, 2015 / 9 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Breakfast And Happiness (Part V)

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch

A kid wishes to be popular in high school; indeed the greatest desire of an adolescent is to please others. But this yearning does not terminate with the conclusion of adolescence unless somewhere along the way there was abrupt enrollment in the School of Hard Knocks or other enlightenment.

Lucky is the kid who was not popular in high school, the best athlete, or the cutest – for they may have learned at an early age to develop one’s character rather than an image to impress others. In the process they have become more autonomous, which enhances their chances for happiness.

So goes the story about a man in the silly town of Chelm who visited a public bathhouse and found himself in a terrible predicament. Without the distinction of clothing, everyone looked alike. “Among all these men who look alike,” he said to himself, “how will I ever know which one is me?” He solved his dilemma by tying a red string around his big toe.

However, as he was showering, the red string dislodged and ended up on someone else’s toe.

When the Chelmite discovered the string on the foot of a different bather, he approached him and inquired, “I know who you are, but who am I?”

This quaint folktale conveys the consequence of focusing on others and neglecting your true self. Thus one can be subject to enslavement that is totally internal. This is a novel concept to a world that thinks primarily in terms of external liberation. Be it Women’s Liberation, Third World Liberation or Palestinian Liberation, none of these liberation movements will ever bring about happiness to the individual protestor who suffers from a lack of internal freedom.

Russian dissident Anatoly Sharansky was imprisoned in solitary confinement in a Gulag concentration camp. Yet he would not succumb to the tortures his imprisoners inflicted in order to break him. He was locked in a freeze box, but internally he remained free to the point that he had more emotional equilibrium and inner peace than many Americans in the lap of luxury. Sharansky’s body was in prison but his mind remained autonomous.

Autonomy spares one from being miserable over the happiness of others. A contented person does not compare herself to others, nor demands to know why the Jones’s are so happy? Think back to my daughter who was awash in a sea of misery composed of siblings bellyaching over why (they believe) they have been deprived cornflakes akin to what their neighbor received.

Dennis Prager related hearing an interview with pitching great Dwight Gooden, who excoriated about receiving only a $6 million contract when the same year another pitching great, Orel Hershiser, received $7.9 million.

Six million dollars is a lot of money to use and be proud of, yet for Gooden it was tainted and spoiled by the fact that his eyes were on Hershiser’s salary.

“What then,” thundered Prager, “is a rookie baseball player to think, [one] who is earning the minimum $60,000?” The fact that this salary is well over 200 percent more than the full-time salary based on the U.S. federal minimum wage is immaterial to one whose eyes are focused on his teammates.

An autonomous individual would exult over the fact that he has graduated from the minor leagues. One who is unfree cannot relish his fortune.

Had Gooden – and most everyone else – established a “point of contentment” (meaning a salary, or work position, or neighborhood of choice that would make them content), then achieving anything above that would be a source of tremendous, nay, overwhelming satisfaction, not frustration. A point of contentment enables one to enjoy a bowl of cornflakes without having a meltdown over the sogginess or powderiness of the surrounding bowls. It also enables satisfaction over what we are blessed with and deflates ruinous inflammation over what we do not have.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Breakfast And Happiness (Part V)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS murderers threatening Obama
ISIS: We Will Behead Obama, Make US Part of the Caliphate [video]
Latest Judaism Stories
Business-Halacha-logo

“How could you have expected my glasses to be there?” argued Mr. Weiss. “You shouldn’t have to pay.”

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Rather than submit to this fate and suffer torture and humiliation, Shaul decided to fall on his sword.

The-Shmuz

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

index

A strange midrash of fruit trees surrounding the Nation of Israel as they walked to freedom

Leading by example must be visible, regarding where, when and how-like Nachshon entering the Red Sea

Rabbi Yaakov Nagen, a Ram at Yeshivat Otniel, notes that the verse is suggesting that retelling the story of the Exodus is so important that Hashem is performing ever-greater miracles specifically so that parents can tell their stories to future generations.

Before performing the 10th plague God makes a fundamental argument about the ultimate nature of justice.

Life Before The Printed Word
‘A Revi’is Of Blood’
(Yevamos 114a-b)

How is it possible that the clothing was more valuable to them than gold or silver?

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

“It means that the disqualification of relatives as witnesses is a procedural issue, not a question of honesty,” explained Rabbi Dayan.

Property ownership is an extremely important and fundamental right and principle according to the Torah.

The tenderest description of the husband/wife relationship is “re’im v’ahuvim/loving, kind friends”

And if a person can take steps to perform the mitzvah, he should do so (even if he won’t be held accountable for not performing it due to circumstances beyond his control).

Suddenly, she turns to me and says, “B’emet, I need to thank you, you made me excited to come back to Israel.”

More Articles from Rabbi Hanoch Teller
Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

If we are certain that God is on our side, we can easily become arrogant and even cruel

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

Reb Shlomo Zalman could not endure honorifics applied to him because of his enormous humility

Though braggarts come across as conceited, their boasting often reflects a low sense of self-regard

A humble person who achieves a position of prominence will utilize the standing to benefit others.

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

Nothing is more effective to diminish envy than gratitude.

The enormity of Hiram’s accomplishments crazed him and deluded him into self-deification.

Thinking about how much we can do in comparison to what we have done serves as a corrective against pride and arrogance.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/chodesh-tov/breakfast-and-happiness-part-v/2014/02/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: