web analytics
September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



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
PLO / PA / Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.
PA Unity Government Not Unified
Latest Judaism Stories
Jonah and the Whale (2012) 23 x 23, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe.

Jonah objected to God accepting repentance based on ulterior motives and likely for short duration.

15th century Book of the Torah

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

Leff-091214

All Jews are inherently righteous and that is why we all have a portion in the World to Come.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

If mourning is incompatible with Yom Tov, why is it not incompatible with Shabbat?

Since it is a Rabbinic prohibition we may follow the more lenient opinion.

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

Torah isn’t a theological treatise or a metaphysical system but a series of stories linked over time

In contrast to her Eicha-like lamentations of the previous hour or more, however, my youngest was now grinning from ear-to-ear.

An Astonishing Miracle
‘Why Bring the Infants to Hakhel?’
(Chagigah 3a)

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

e are in a time of serious crisis and must go beyond our present levels of chesed.

According to Ibn Ezra, the Torah was stressing through this covenant that hypocrisy was forbidden.

“Tony said that the code in most places in the U.S. is at least 36 inches for a residential guardrail,” replied Mr. Braun. “Some make it higher, 42, or even 52 inches for high porches. What is the required height according to halacha?”

Simcha is total; sahs is God’s joy in protecting us even when we are most vulnerable.

Not only do we accept You as our King, it is our greatest desire that the name of Your Kingdom be spread throughout the entire universe.

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

Nothing is more effective to diminish envy than gratitude.

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

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.

Separating fun from happiness can liberate, regarding (a) time, (b) money and (c) jealousy.

People expectantly go through their lives awaiting the event that will make them happy.

If you expect more, you will be less grateful; if you expect less, you will be more grateful.

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.

In the campaign to rob a consumer of any sense of contentedness, which translates into sales, strategy is often focused on confusing need with want and the illusion of being dissatisfied.

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: