web analytics
May 30, 2015 / 12 Sivan, 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.

Current Top Story
What's happened to NYC's Celebrate Israel Parade?
Israel Rejects as ‘False’ UJA Federation’s Claims about Israel Parade ‘Inclusion’
Latest Judaism Stories
Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

What if someone would come to you and offer you everything that is desirable in this world, but with one condition: you have to give up your essence.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Torah learning is valueless unless it enhances personal morality, fostering closer connection to God

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

Why did so many of our great sages from the Rambam to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein live outside Israel?

Daf-Yomi-logo

Casting A Doubt
‘Shall We Say [They] Are Not Valid?’
(Nedarim 5a-7a)

I was about six years old at the time and recall that very special occasion so well.

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Why was Samson singled out as the only Shofet required to be a nazir from cradle to grave?

“What do you mean?” asked the secretary. “We already issued a ruling and closed the case.”

Tosafos suggests several answers as to how a minor can own an item, m’d’Oraisa.

This week’s video discusses the important connection between the Priestly Blessing and parenting.

Many of us simply don’t get the need for the Torah to list the exact same gift offering, 12 times!

There is a great debate as to whether this story actually took place or is simply a metaphor, a prophetic vision shown to Hoshea by Hashem.

Every person is presented with moments when he/she must make difficult decisions about how to proceed.

One does not necessarily share the opinions of one’s brother. One may disapprove of his actions, values, and/or beliefs. However, with brothers there is a bond of love and caring that transcends all differences.

This Shavuot let’s give G-d a gift too: Let’s make this year different by doing just 1 more mitzvah

More Articles from Rabbi Hanoch Teller
Rabbi Hanoch Teller

I felt terror posing questions to Rav Elyashiv doing so only twice in the 9 years I was in his shiur

Rabbi Hanoch Teller

In a cab with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach & Rav Elayshiv discussing if/when to say tefillas haderech

Rav Elyashiv favored books about gedolim with 2 caveats: accuracy; and no distasteful elements

Humility often confused with low self-esteem, truly means that a person realizes his true worth

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

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.

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: