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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Prager’

Breakfast And Happiness (Part VI)

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Often people think they will be happy when their goals are met. These goals can be noble, sublime and lofty – but usually they are not. Usually the “happiness” goals are: bright, respected, thin, desirable, and rich. Some of these goals are potentially dangerous[1], but the one that will ensure that happiness will never be achieved is the desire to be rich.

There is nothing wrong with money and there are plenty of philanthropic individuals who have significantly enhanced society. However, one who seeks to be rich in order to be happy has embarked on an endless path, for there is yet an individual who has concluded, “Now I’m rich, now I’m happy, now I’m stopping.”

As Dennis Prager points out: the Forbes 400 (list of America’s wealthiest citizens) is a killer for everyone but Number One. The pain of number 396 is probably only surpassed by number 401. The goal to want to be rich is a prison sentence to being locked-in-focus regarding the wealth of others.

But the problem which all of these goals share in common is that our desire to be thin, bright, desirable, rich, etc. is primarily sought in order to impress others. Our lives revolve around the proverbial “them” and what will they think and what will they say. This brings us back to never-ending adolescence.

Because we are so intoxicated over what others will think, we also imagine that all of the “others” – those in the distance – are happy.

Ironically, we have a great debt of gratitude to Hollywood celebrities, sport stars and politicians, for we imagine their lives to be grand and glorious. But when you read their memoirs you discover that they lived horrid, hollow lives.

Elizabeth Taylor is considered one of the most glamorous actresses to have ever graced the stage. Yet she was married eight times and had many romances independent of her marriages. Kitty Dukakis was envied as the woman who was destined to be the first lady. After Michael Dukakis’s defeat by George H.W. Bush, Kitty not only succumbed to her drug and alcohol addictions but also resorted to drinking rubbing alcohol in a suicide attempt. The examples are limitless, and one wonders if an actuary has been able to compute the ephemeral lifespan of a rock star.

The vast majority of us should be overjoyed at our health and our wealth, the political and economic freedom that we enjoy, and that we have not lost a child or suffered extreme traumas. We are better off than 90% of the people in history, but instead of appreciating, we are remorseful over what we are missing – like former baseball star pitcher Dwight Gooden, who couldn’t enjoy his $6 million because his fellow star pitcher Orel Hershiser was receiving more.

The antidote to the despoiling obsession regarding others and the greatest component to achieving happiness is gratitude.

There is an inverse relationship between expectations and gratitude. The more you expect, the less grateful you will be; the less you expect, the more you will be grateful. This is why expectations are an obstacle to happiness. One who always expects to be well will not be able to grin and bear ill health, misbehaving children or unexpected traffic.

Expectations ruin gratitude.

Gratitude is acquired by concentrating on what you have – not on what you are missing. People focus on what they do not have, and what they have lost. Everyone can write a diary of his or her life that would either make the reader cry or admire what a blessed life has been lived. It is up to us to decide which diary we wish to author: the book of happiness or the book of misery.

14 Ways to Shut Up BDS

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

The Boycott Israel movement has unwittingly given the pro-Israel crowd 14 great ideas how to expose the Big Lie of BDS as it gears up for its 10th annual international Israeli Apartheid Week that is scheduled in the United States and Britain next week and in South Africa, the Palestinian Authority, Europe and Brazil in March.

The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is a well-greased machine with a well-financed and professional propaganda network.

The State of Israel and dozens of Jewish synagogues and organizations around the world have protested BDS to tear part its anti-Israel arguments and lies and even have countered it with “buy-cott” drives to encourage people to buy Israeli-made products.

However, the pro-Israel crowd has not been able and perhaps has not even tried to unify its efforts.

The haters of Israel have come up with 14 suggestions for Israel-haters to adopt for Israeli Apartheid Week, and the same ideas could be used against BDS.

It is a tough fight because the BDS movement has the support, sometimes unannounced and sometime unannounced, of dozens of countries, especially those in Europe. The image of a lone person upholding Tel Aviv Palestinian flag against an Israel tank is a perfect picture to get across the lie that Israel is at war with the Palestinian Authority population.

The pro-Israel folks need more than good intentions. They need professionals to come up with a slick poster and video to expose the Big Lie.

Meanwhile, here are 14 ways people can get involved in exposing BDS. All of the ideas are taken from the Boycott Israel’s “13 Ways [they can't count very well] You Can Get Involved in Israeli Apartheid Week” campaign.

  • Screen A Palestine Pro-Israel Movie Or Documentary Film:

Make full-feature movies and documentary films available and free of charge for screening at universities, schools, community centers and workplaces.

This documentary is by American nationally syndicated radio talk show host and syndicated columnist and author Dennis Prager. He majored in Middle Eastern Studies and History at Brooklyn College and was a Fellow at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, where he did his graduate work at the Russian Institute (now the Harriman Institute) and Middle East Institute.

  •  Host  Music Event, Poetry Evening or Sports Day

As part of the Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) pro-Israel movement, organize a sports day, soccer tournament, music event or poetry evening with local or national artists. Consider inviting an Palestinian Israeli poet/artist as well.

  • Spray Paint Graffiti or Paint a Mural

Create a painting/mural/graffiti with “Israeli Apartheid” pro-Israel as the theme. Reach out to local artists, friends, activists, media and community members to get involved. Remember to share your photos and video footage. WARNING: When BDS folks spray graffiti, it is considered a protests. When pro-Israel people do it, it is called a Price Tag attack.

  • Host a Lecture, Rally, Workshop

There are several national and international speakers who can speak on the issue of Palestine Israel and the lie of Israeli Apartheid.

  • Put Up Posters, Stickers and Create Awareness

Find Pro-Israel posters, stickers and flyers online and download, print, distribute and spread the word.

  • Flyer distribution at your school, university, workplace and on the street.

Get together with a branch of your organization, a group of friends or colleagues and distribute flyers at a high-traffic area.

  •  Write a Poem, Article or Song for Your Local Newspaper, Contact Your Local Radio Station, Write a Letter to the Editor – Raise Awareness in the Media!

You can write an article or letter on the topic of Israel and the BDS Lie for a local newspaper, magazine or other publication. Alternatively contact your local radio station/TV station and request a discussion on Israel and Palestine. Write and publish your own poem, song or article.

  •   Have Your Church, Synagogue or Temple Participate

Arrange for the topic of your synagogue’s activities or church’s Sunday service to be on the lie of Israeli Apartheid Week and the Palestinian struggle. Last year the South African Council of Churches called on all member churches to devote their Sunday Service during Israeli Apartheid Week to the topic of Palestine. Synagogue and pro-Israel church organizations can do the same for Israel if they take the initiative.

  • Organize an Anti-BDS Protest

Arrange a protest against a store or company that stocks boycotts Israeli products such as Ahava Cosmetics, SodaStream, Israeli Fresh Produce (in Woolworths etc.) and Israeli Dead Sea products.

  • Be Creative

Build a mock Israeli Apartheid Wall  Arab suicide bombing and terrorist attack and set up an Israeli checkpoint with a terrorist camouflaged as a pregnant women. Organize a flash mob and facilitate a balloon release.

  • Contribute money.

Contact pro-Israel organizations, encourage them to unify and make a contribution.

  • Go Online

Help spread the word online using blogs and social media.

  • Endorse

Have your organization endorse the pro-Israel movement and expose the lie of the Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) campaign.

The video below shows one lone Jew, later joined by two others, waving an Israeli flag at a Boycott Israel rally. Tune in to the very end for the knowledge of the BDS crowd.

Dennis Prager, the Torah, and Me

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

The happiest part of my day, every day, is studying the Torah (chapter and verse) with Dennis Prager (audio available here).

He dedicates about an hour and a half to each chapter in the Torah, and reveals astonishing levels of depth and delight that are contained in each verse.

I thank God each day for His teachings (the Torah) and I thank God each day for His teacher (Dennis Prager).

But there is a danger.  Because I know that I have certain weaknesses.

Throughout my life, I have always been drawn to great speakers.  As a word-lover, I have to keep an eye on this predisposition, the same way a wine-lover must be careful about that second glass.

And so I ask myself: do I love Dennis Prager – the teacher, the speaker – or do I love the Torah that he teaches?

After much introspection, I can honestly say: it’s the Torah I love.

No offense to Dennis Prager, but the great Christian Pastor John Hagee (founder of Christians United For Israel (CUFI)) is a better speaker than Dennis Prager.  I have worked with Pastor John Hagee (writing for the CUFI magazine The Torch), I have attended his sermons in San Antonio, I have read his books, downloaded his podcasts, and watched his programs on TV.  Before I decided to become a Jew, I gave Christianity, and especially Pastor John Hagee, a fair hearing.  I even used the Old Testament of Pastor Hagee’s Prophesy Bible for some of my Torah studies (the translation is quite good).  I even flipped ahead and gave the New Testament a try.

But, even when spoken by the great Pastor John Hagee, the New Testament failed to resonate with me.  Unlike the Torah, which lit up every part of me.

The verdict is in:

I love the way you teach, Mr. Prager.  But I love the Torah that you teach even more.

Why I Like Yom Kippur

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

   You might think it odd talking about Yom Kippur just days before Purim. But actually that is exactly why I am thinking so fondly of our holy fast day. Because as holidays go – Yom Kippur has become the easiest to prepare for – and the least taxing on both the body and the pocketbook.

 

    Even Purim has become stressful, exhausting and expensive – not quite like Pesach, of course, that’s in a class of its own – but literally no longer “a piece of cake.”

 

    Purim used to be easy – and user friendly. You prepared a few food baskets with three or four items, like a chocolate bar, a fruit, a drink and maybe homemade hamentaschen and gave them out to a few friends and relatives – as did your children.

 

         Costumes were often a sheet wrapped around a boy’s shoulders to look like a royal mantle; a moustache or beard was painted on his face with black magic marker; and tin foil was wrapped around a stick and instantly became a scepter.

 

    The girls put on a hand-me-down outfit from a cousin who wore it at her big sister’s wedding, some bright red lipstick, and an old shaitel and voila - they were transformed into Queen Esther.

 

         My mother, a”h, told me that in her town in Poland, she remembers Purims where an orange circulated through the day from one family to another. Apparently, oranges were a luxury item in Poland during the winter and someone who could splurge, bought an orange and give it to an esteemed friend or relative in their mishloach manot – who then passed it on to another relative/friend who would also gave it away.

 

        Eventually, the orange would end up in the possession of the original owner – recycling in its purest form that left everyone feeling special.

 

         But that was then and this is now – and Purim has become as time-consuming, expensive and exhaustive as Pesach. And our other holidays are quickly catching up, with Chanukah and its catered parties – not just latkes anymore – and a week full of expensive gift giving.

 

         Even Tu B’Shevat has its elaborate fruit and nut gift baskets, some costing enough to feed a family for a week. What happened to a plate of dried fruit and carob?

 

         These days a simple costume or food basket for Purim will no longer “do.” The mishloach manot have to be elaborate and artfully arranged, containing expensive bottles of wine, and high-end chocolates and candy etc. And for “shalom bayit” you have to give one to just about every breathing person you know  - you neighbor, cousin, friend, in-law, teacher, colleague, handyman, doctor, sheitel macher etc. It’s not unusual for the average household to prepare 50 or more (a conservative estimate).

 

         Costumes can no longer be just make-belief outfits, but themed works of art  - and must be homemade – buying them is deemed a cop-out.

 

         The problem isn’t in doing all these things. It’s the feeling that you HAVE to. There is an unspoken expectation and thuspressure to produce; a sense that you have to give fancy (read expensive) mishloach manot - and the belief that if you didn’t make your children’s costumes – you somehow are an inadequate mother – and you children are to be pitied.

 

         For that reason, overburdened, harried mothers – many who work outside the home, have a household full of children and limited time for necessary chores – feel obligated to spend money they need for basic necessities, to make dozens upon dozens of “wow” food baskets and costumes.

 

         Again, if this gives you pleasure – then that’s great. Holidays are to be enjoyed. But for many, Yom Tov has become a burden.

 

         Recently at an Emunah event, renowned radio host and speaker Dennis Prager spoke about being happy. At one point he mentioned that if you aren’t enjoying your religion (he speaks to people of  various faiths) – then you are doing something wrong. He then asked the mostly female audience how they felt about the upcoming Pesach holiday and there was a loud collective groan. That is not the response a Yom Tov should elicit.

 

         Our holidays are supposed to be joyful, fun, occasions, not days to be dreaded because they exhaust us and deplete our energy and our finances.

 

         Some community rabbonim have set limitations on wedding expenses. Why not set limits on our Purim spending and mishloach manot giving, as well?

 

         I myself have told my friends, relatives and machatunim, etc. that I am mochel them not giving me mishloach manot. I will not give them any – thus they will not feel obligated to give me (I hope).  I see this as a mutual favor. I certainly don’t need tons of nosh to tempt me and raise my blood sugar or cholesterol. Nor do any of us need a month’s worth of chametz to take up space in the kitchen cabinets and fridge. My “mishloach manot” will be verbal as I wish them two good things  - such as good health and nachat – at the very least.

 

    So going back to Yom Kippur.

 

    Besides a meal that isn’t that different from what is usually prepared for Shabbat – (less spicy perhaps) there is little preparation or financial strain involved in observing it – and it’s certainly not fattening. What could be more enjoyable than that?

Why I Like Yom Kippur

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

   You might think it odd talking about Yom Kippur just days before Purim. But actually that is exactly why I am thinking so fondly of our holy fast day. Because as holidays go – Yom Kippur has become the easiest to prepare for – and the least taxing on both the body and the pocketbook.
 
    Even Purim has become stressful, exhausting and expensive – not quite like Pesach, of course, that’s in a class of its own – but literally no longer “a piece of cake.”
 
    Purim used to be easy – and user friendly. You prepared a few food baskets with three or four items, like a chocolate bar, a fruit, a drink and maybe homemade hamentaschen and gave them out to a few friends and relatives – as did your children.
 
         Costumes were often a sheet wrapped around a boy’s shoulders to look like a royal mantle; a moustache or beard was painted on his face with black magic marker; and tin foil was wrapped around a stick and instantly became a scepter.
 
    The girls put on a hand-me-down outfit from a cousin who wore it at her big sister’s wedding, some bright red lipstick, and an old shaitel and voila - they were transformed into Queen Esther.
 
         My mother, a”h, told me that in her town in Poland, she remembers Purims where an orange circulated through the day from one family to another. Apparently, oranges were a luxury item in Poland during the winter and someone who could splurge, bought an orange and give it to an esteemed friend or relative in their mishloach manot – who then passed it on to another relative/friend who would also gave it away.
 
        Eventually, the orange would end up in the possession of the original owner – recycling in its purest form that left everyone feeling special.
 
         But that was then and this is now – and Purim has become as time-consuming, expensive and exhaustive as Pesach. And our other holidays are quickly catching up, with Chanukah and its catered parties – not just latkes anymore – and a week full of expensive gift giving.
 
         Even Tu B’Shevat has its elaborate fruit and nut gift baskets, some costing enough to feed a family for a week. What happened to a plate of dried fruit and carob?
 
         These days a simple costume or food basket for Purim will no longer “do.” The mishloach manot have to be elaborate and artfully arranged, containing expensive bottles of wine, and high-end chocolates and candy etc. And for “shalom bayit” you have to give one to just about every breathing person you know  - you neighbor, cousin, friend, in-law, teacher, colleague, handyman, doctor, sheitel macher etc. It’s not unusual for the average household to prepare 50 or more (a conservative estimate).
 
         Costumes can no longer be just make-belief outfits, but themed works of art  - and must be homemade – buying them is deemed a cop-out.
 
         The problem isn’t in doing all these things. It’s the feeling that you HAVE to. There is an unspoken expectation and thuspressure to produce; a sense that you have to give fancy (read expensive) mishloach manot - and the belief that if you didn’t make your children’s costumes – you somehow are an inadequate mother – and you children are to be pitied.
 
         For that reason, overburdened, harried mothers – many who work outside the home, have a household full of children and limited time for necessary chores – feel obligated to spend money they need for basic necessities, to make dozens upon dozens of “wow” food baskets and costumes.
 
         Again, if this gives you pleasure – then that’s great. Holidays are to be enjoyed. But for many, Yom Tov has become a burden.
 
         Recently at an Emunah event, renowned radio host and speaker Dennis Prager spoke about being happy. At one point he mentioned that if you aren’t enjoying your religion (he speaks to people of  various faiths) – then you are doing something wrong. He then asked the mostly female audience how they felt about the upcoming Pesach holiday and there was a loud collective groan. That is not the response a Yom Tov should elicit.
 
         Our holidays are supposed to be joyful, fun, occasions, not days to be dreaded because they exhaust us and deplete our energy and our finances.
 
         Some community rabbonim have set limitations on wedding expenses. Why not set limits on our Purim spending and mishloach manot giving, as well?
 
         I myself have told my friends, relatives and machatunim, etc. that I am mochel them not giving me mishloach manot. I will not give them any – thus they will not feel obligated to give me (I hope).  I see this as a mutual favor. I certainly don’t need tons of nosh to tempt me and raise my blood sugar or cholesterol. Nor do any of us need a month’s worth of chametz to take up space in the kitchen cabinets and fridge. My “mishloach manot” will be verbal as I wish them two good things  - such as good health and nachat – at the very least.
 
    So going back to Yom Kippur.
 

    Besides a meal that isn’t that different from what is usually prepared for Shabbat – (less spicy perhaps) there is little preparation or financial strain involved in observing it – and it’s certainly not fattening. What could be more enjoyable than that?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/why-i-like-yom-kippur-2/2008/03/19/

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