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July 24, 2016 / 18 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘LIFE’

Life Chronicles

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

Three years ago, I married a wonderful bochur, who was everything any young girl could have hoped for.  I was overjoyed to have found my zivug so early on in the dating parsha and all of my friends were a little green with envy that it had been so easy for me.  My parents and future in-laws also clicked and a mutual bond of deep friendship developed as my chosson and I got engaged and shared joyously in the wedding plans.  It was a magical time and we couldn’t wait for the five months to pass until the wedding to start our life together.

Our wedding was a community event, everyone was invited and came to be misameiach, and the pictures bore witness to the revelry, dancing and merrymaking that carried us into our married life.  My parents had rented a beautiful apartment for us and agreed to pay the rent for the next four years so that my husband could learn and my in-laws agreed to pay the bills. So, shanah rishona was a beautiful time in which we were able to set down deep and loving roots without worry or care.

I soon became pregnant and our first child was born just before our first wedding anniversary; our joy was complete and our future set.  Living close to our parents offered abundant babysitting services whenever I felt tired or simply overwhelmed and I welcomed the loving support and sincere advice my mother and mother-in-law lavished on me whenever I was in doubt about my parenting skills.  I felt tired quite often and so we would spend Shabbosim with either family. Everyone said that the tiredness would pass and that all first-time mothers felt fatigued.  Even my married friends who had newborns concurred, and told me it would get easier.

But it didn’t.  By the time I was pregnant with my second child, I had to drag myself out of bed.  My husband became alarmed when he came home from kollel and found me sleeping on the couch as the baby screamed in her crib.  He insisted I make an appointment with the doctor for an intensive exam and blood work, and while we waited for the results, I suffered a miscarriage and lost the baby.  At this point the fear for my health was very real, and I had to have someone come and stay with me during the day to help with my daughter’s care as I was now too weak to manage on my own.  My doctor sent us to a specialist for more tests and my worst fears were realized.  I was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis), a disease that affects the nervous system, leading to loss of motor ability and, ultimately, in severe cases, complete dependency and early demise.

We clung together, my husband and I, we wept together at what had befallen us just three short years into our marriage.  What would become of our life together?  Although he promised never to leave me, and the doctors said that with medication and treatment, I stood a good chance of slowing the progression of the disease, dark clouds were already forming over our horizon.  My in-laws began to work on my husband, telling him that it would be best for him and the baby if he would divorce me and remarry someone who would be able to care for both of them.  My parents were devastated and shocked that these people whom they had become so close with and thought of as loving family would stoop to such tactics behind our backs, with the intention of ripping their grandchild away from them and deserting their daughter at such a crucial time.  After much soul searching to find a way to forgive them, I found a way to understand why they were acting that way.  What parent wants to see his or her child tied down to an invalid wife whose health will assuredly deteriorate with time?  I almost convinced myself that this would be best for my child and for my husband, as I never wanted to become a burden to them.

Rachel Bluth

Life Chronicles

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I am a young mother of two little children who lives in a walk-up apartment building next to a family who shares their apartment with their grandmother.

Unfortunately, she is very disruptive to all of us on our floor. She has been known to urinate and defecate in the hallway; one tenant even found this filth in her baby stroller after having forgotten to take it in at night.  All the children are frightened of her, as she roams around aimlessly during the day, or until her family comes home in the late afternoon. She screams at everyone who passes and it is impossible to avoid her.

We have spoken to her family and, although they seem sympathetic and understand our predicament, they say she is senile and they have no means to get outside help and cannot afford to put her in a home. We have also approached the management about the unsanitary conditions resulting from this lady roaming the halls unattended, but they brush us off and say this is really not a management problem; it’s more of a family issue.  We are at a loss at what to do.  Is there anywhere we can turn for help without causing the family harm?

 

Dear Friends,

I truly empathize with everyone involved – the family of this afflicted lady as well as the tenants who have to suffer the visages of her illness.  You, certainly, should not have to live with the stench of human waste at your doorstep, or feel threatened when you walk out of your apartment.  Although this poor old soul most certainly is not at fault for her behavior or actions, you should not have to fear for your safety and that of your children.  This woman should definitely be under some form of mental care and not left unattended.

There are a few options available to the family; I would suggest reaching out to a community-based agency for more information.

  * * * * *

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I read your column as soon as I get The Jewish Press on Wednesday; you offer a little something for everyone, even if the problem(s) of the week does not pertain to us in general.  That is why I want to ask you what your thoughts are about my situation.

I am in my late seventies, well preserved and full of life and a recent widow. Many of my well-meaning friends and family have tried to set me up on dates, but most of the gentlemen are in their eighties and are simply looking for a nursemaid, not a wife with whom to share whatever time that’s left to them.  Can you imagine, one gentleman brought along a bag of his medications and asked me if I was familiar with any of the doctors he sees each month? Then there was the man who came in his Cadillac (with a driver) and didn’t stop talking about how wonderful his deceased wife was, how she ironed his underwear and trimmed his eyebrows and beard!  And these were two of the better dates. So I stopped accepting blind dates and started going to singles events.

I recently met Zelig, a spry and lively 69-year-old retired proctologist, who had me rolling with laughter.  We had a few amazing dates and are sure that we are right for each other.

I broke the news to my children and asked them to meet him.  Sadly this meeting did not go well as my sons think it’s too soon and my daughters are aghast at our age difference.  Poor Zelig tried so hard to lighten the mood but a heavy cloud of disapproval hung over the evening.  My meeting with his children was wonderful.

Rachel Bluth

Life Chronicles

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I am in so much trouble, I just don’t know how to make it go away.  I am writing this to you from my married sister’s house, where I have been staying for the past week so as not to have to face my parents’ wrath and anger, but I know I will have to do so soon.

About two years ago, after finishing school, I got a job with a chassidishe firm in Manhattan. I was so excited to be working in the city, because I had only been there once before and it represented another universe to me, one in which I could see more of the world. My parents let me take the job because they assumed I would be engaged after a short while.

My first two weeks at work were wonderful; I made friends with the other girls in the company and looked forward to each day. One morning, as I rode the elevator up to my floor, I noticed a very nice young man wearing a kippah sruga; he got off on the same floor as I did and went into the boss’s office.  I made mention of him to some of the girls on our lunch break and they laughed at me as I blushed, knowing that he had caught my eye.  They said he was the son of the COO of the company’s Israeli division and he came to America a few times a year. They jokingly said that he probably has more than a few girlfriends at home and I shouldn’t get my hopes up; they had all tried to get his attention.  I told them that my parents would be the ones to choose the person I would marry and they were all being silly.

Yigalrode the elevator to work with me almost every morning for about a week and a half before our friendly nods evolved into light conversation in the reception area before we parted ways.  A few weeks later Yigal asked me to join him for coffee at the office cafeteria and I agreed.  I had the best time; he made me laugh with stories of his family in Israel.  I envied his freedom to explore so much of life, while the little I knew was from books and other people.  In turn, I told him of my home life and the close-knit family I come from.  We shared quite a few more such breaks for lunch before he asked if I would like to go to a concert with him. I told him that I would not be permitted to go, especially with a young man.  Although he said he understood, I could see the disappointment in his eyes and I felt my heart break because I wanted to go with him.

So I made up to stay with a friend from work for Shabbos and on Sunday afternoon, without my parents knowing, I met up with Yigal. We walked around the city and then went to the concert.  It was a night that changed my life.

Many lies followed and by the time someone from my community saw us together and told my father, it was way too late to turn the clock back – my heart already belonged to Yigal and I knew that I could never share my life with anyone else.  That night my parents confronted me; my mother wept, my father called me all sorts of names, and they insisted that I quit my job and never see Yigal again.

I told my parents that I regretted having lied to them; however, there could never be anyone for me other than Yigal, so the choice would be theirs to make.  My father told me to go stay at my sister’s house and to not come home until I came to my senses.  I called Yigal as soon as I left home and we talked well into the early morning hours.  He told me he felt the same about me and that he was ready to marry me immediately.

So here I am, torn between the love of my life, who wants me to be his wife and my family, whom I love as well.

Please help me see what path to take.

 

 

Dear Friend,

I have found that, most often, we are the perpetrators of our own misery, by virtue of the risks we take, the decisions we make and the lies we tell.  Truth is such a sparse commodity as to be almost non-existent when we are caught in the throws of what we want, giving no thought to how it will reflect on ourselves and ourselves in the future.  All that matters is that we must have what we must have now.

I think it’s a bit late to find a way to appease everyone and certainly no way to redeem yourself after the deceit and the lying.

It seems to me that you have already made up your mind as to what you want to do; that your parents blessing to you and Yigal will not be forthcoming is also quite evident.  So I think you are mistaken when you say the ball is in your parents’ court. If you decide to follow your heart and marry Yigal, know that you are probably going to forfeit most or all of your family – at least for now.

As Yigal seems to be shomer Torah u’mitzvos, it is probable that given some time and outside intervention, your parents will yet come around. But you will have to be patient.

Rachel Bluth

On April 19, You Can Cast the Most Important Vote of Your Life

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

It’s rare for frum communities to be pivotal in elections that have nationaI impact, but on this Tuesday, April 19, how Orthodox Jewish voters cast their votes, particularly in the Five Towns, Long Beach, Oceanside and West Hempstead, will have a very real, very serious impact not only here in New York, but nationally and potentially on Israel as well.

In a special election in 2011 to replace Congressman Anthony Weiner, Orthodox communities in Brooklyn and Queens sent shockwaves throughout Washington and the national political class when they rejected a well known and generally popular longtime local Jewish Democratic legislator, David Weprin, to instead lead the victorious campaign of a politically unknown Catholic Republican businessman, Robert Turner. The issues there were similar: Orthodox communities banded together primarily to send a national message to Obama and the Democrats in Washington of grassroots dissatisfaction with their treatment of Israel.

On April 19, frum voters have the opportunity to send the same message – but this time it is not merely symbolic or a protest, this time the practical stakes are vast and quite specific and directly impact the work both of us and many other Jewish activists are doing to combat the malevolent threat of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (“BDS”) movement. This may seem like a local election, but one of us fights BDS nationally from New York and one of us from California, and we, like our enemies, pay attention to all the states in between.

BDS is not a protest or boycott of Israeli policies and is not aimed at bettering anyone’s life – BDS is an aggressive campaign of lies and libels dedicated to one goal, plain and simple: to destroy the Jewish State.

“The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel. There should not be any equivocation on the subject.” Those words belong to BDS leader As’ad Abu Khalil, a professor at the University of California. “BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state…BDS is not another step on the way to the final showdown; BDS is the final showdown.” That was written by BDS Leader Ahmed Moor.

Because they are clear, we too must be clear. In the words of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Those who wear the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot.” While Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog has called BDS “unacceptable and hypocritical in every shape and form” and “an onslaught against Israel all over the world.”

And the impact of BDS is not just ugly libels against the Jewish state or terrorists 6000 miles away who are empowered by the blame John Kerry or the UN place on Israeli

“oppression” – though for those surely, “dayenu.” But BDS is also the basis of a newly emboldened and vicious anti-Semitism around the world including right in New York.

American Jews are being targeted by BDS. This is especially acute for Jewish college students, who are being targeted for harassment by other students and by the faculty and staff of universities. BDS is not academic freedom – it is the opposite. BDS routinely punishes, shouts down and shuts out open discourse in order to incite hatred and violence against Jews. Last week, in San Francisco, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat – a mild-mannered, middle-of-the-road Israeli not known for extremist views – was shouted down by BDS hoodlums and forced to abandon a speech he had been invited to give at the State University. The campus police were called in and neither arrested the protestors, nor ejected them, instead simply standing on the side as the outrageous harassment against Barkat became more and more aggressive.

According to a study published this past year, fueled by the blood libels of BDS, three of the top 10 most anti-Semitic universities in America are in New York – including the top two, Columbia and Cornell. NYU is in the midst of a BDS struggle and, if you have not been following it, we urge you to read about the terrible ongoing battles at SUNY and at CUNY where the New York Senate has heroically voted to slash funding to CUNY because of the egregious anti-Semitism. The message the New York State Senate sent has been heard in legislatures and universities around the country. There are many friends in the Senate who have helped, and we want specially to single out Senator Jack Martins for his dedicated leadership in the fight against BDS and Higher Education Committee Chairman Ken LaValle for making it a priority for his committee.

In state capitols around the US and in Washington, we and our colleagues in many anti-BDS groups have been working with legislators to fight BDS. Collectively these efforts have resulted in dozens of state and federal laws being passed that – like the New York State Senate’s votes against BDS – chip away at our enemies legally and, at least as importantly, that repudiate their libels and lies. The legislations have been cautious, because the issue is so significant that there has been a reluctance to hand even a single victory to the enemies of Israel and the Jews. And yet, to date, BDS is winning in New York, home to the largest concentration of Jews outside the State of Israel.

Republicans in Albany have been dedicatedly pushing anti-BDS legislation and it has passed the Senate for one reason only: that Republicans control the Senate. In the Assembly, however, the Democrats have made abundantly clear that while they remain in control they will not allow anti-BDS legislation. They cynically claim BDS is a matter of “free speech” – even while a major part of BDS itself is the denial and restraint of pro-Israel speech (or even the rights of Israelis and Jews to speak, regardless of the topic or their views). Serious questions have been raised by a number of our fellow anti-BDS activists about Todd Kaminsky’s own approach to BDS which is substantially weaker than the Republicans’. But the sincerity of his intentions are rendered irrelevant by the circumstances of this race. If on April 19 this Senate seat goes to a Democrat – even a sympathetic Democrat – control of the Senate will change hands to the pro-BDS party. The national ripple effect is palpable.

By quirk of fate or hashgacha, this issue is in your hands. You have an opportunity to turn out in force to make it clear to the Democrats in Albany – and all lawmakers nationally – that refusing to fight BDS is to stand for the destruction of Israel. Frum Jews must let them know that fighting the blood libels of BDS does not even really require a lawmaker to be pro-Israel, it simply demands that they be a human being with a conscience and a memory. If the Democrat leadership in Albany will not fight against BDS then they stand with the anti-Semites now libeling Jews and terrorizing our children in college.

There is no justification for this having become a partisan issue. In California, as in many other states, we managed to bring both parties together. We are not happy that the Democrats’ leaders have made this a party fight in Albany and it is in their power to change that – but they will only do so if voters turn out in force and show them there is a price to be paid.

As for the other parallels to the last time our vote really mattered, Rabbi Twersky’s open letter laments the disgraceful smearing of Chris McGrath as an anti-Semite. We have seen an e-mail trying to tie him to Nazis. Rabbi Twersky, like many in our community, know McGrath to be a longtime committed friend to Jews. Politics can be nasty, but that doesn’t mean we should tolerate such tactics, which deserve to be repudiated. (In 2011, identical tactics were used against Turner, with his opponents even executing a robocall campaign to Orthodox homes pretending it was from Jews for Jesus calling to turn out votes for Turner). Enough. Those who would manipulate us need to understand that we are not naïve or gullible, we are not driven by fear and loathing of Christians, and there is a price to pay for adding such insult to the injury of their policies.

One of us is lives in the district and one of us lives 3000 miles away, but on April 19, both of us along with fellow anti-BDS activists around the country have our eyes on this election. There certainly are other valid issues which all voters must examine. As those who spend a significant part of our days fighting BDS however, we know that much of what has been happening has been behind closed doors and we feel it is our responsibility to give you a glimpse into this ongoing struggle in Albany and its very serious ramifications. We implore you to consider the gravity of these issues, research them yourselves, and to please take the fight against BDS into account as you decide whether and how to cast your vote.

 

Jeff Ballabon and Rabbi Pini Dunner

Life Chronicles

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I have written and rewritten this letter many times over the course of the last year and a half, but never had the courage to send it. However, things have gotten so bad, I finally had the courage.  Ours is a small and closely intertwined community where even a hint of gossip becomes everyone’s business and, as I have children of marriageable age, I try to be very circumspect.  I hope this letter does not give away any clues to who we are and that you will be able to help us.

Over twenty some odd years ago, I lost my parents in an accident and went to live with relatives who didn’t want me, but couldn’t send me away because it would make them look bad.  They married me off at a young age to an older man, who came from a good family and was well thought of.

With no one to confide in or to mentor me, I was not prepared for marriage and what experienced from the first moments of our intimacy, frightened and shocked, and sometimes repulsed me.  I never developed a close, loving relationship with my husband, quite the opposite in fact. I much preferred to be away from him than with him.  He, in turn, lost patience with me and our marriage became a loveless, distant relationship that produced three children.

I had my first child ten months into the marriage and poured my loneliness and aching heart into caring and loving this child.  As I devoted almost all my time to the child, my husband’s resentment towards me grew and translated itself into vile name-calling and debasement when we were home alone.  In public, he appeared the model husband, although distant and aloof, so no one suspected how cruel he was in private.  As the two other children came, the youngest born with emotional problems which caused him to have body spasms, wild temper tantrums and uncontrollable crying fits, my husband’s anger increased to the point that he no longer cared where and when he verbally attacked me.  As much as I tried to shield the children from his tirades, there was simply no way to mute his vile insults, and I simply gave up trying.

As the children got older, whenever I denied them what they wanted, they would parrot back their father’s name-calling and ugly insults and as they grew, I noticed them turning more to him, because he would buy them whatever I did not or could not.  As they became teenagers and went off to schools abroad, I hoped that when they returned, they would be wiser, more mature and more respectful of me.  This did not happen.  Our oldest child returned and simply ignored me, turning completely to her father, as though I didn’t exist.  When she met her young man, she had him meet her father first in a coffee shop, where they agreed on the engagement and planned the L’chayim.  I was absolutely heartbroken.

I don’t know how much more I can take and there are days when I entertain thoughts of ending my misery and leaving them to deal with explaining it to the neighbors and the community.  I am broken in body, mind and spirit.

 

 

Dear Friend,

When we find ourselves in a dark place, we tend to think dark thoughts and you have been in a dark place for a very long time.  I am grateful for your trust in reaching out to me because I can hear how hard it must have been for you to do so.

Life, even in its darkest moments, is precious and worth living if only you can find something to hold on to.  You have isolated yourself in a loveless, cruel and painful marriage without benefit of the comfort that should have come from family or friends. No one could know of your of your plight, and at the same time, there is no one who could help you. What hand was there for you to hold on to so you wouldn’t sink into the quicksand of your misery? Who was there to offset the horrible steady diet of debasement and verbal abuse fed to your children by a husband who may, in his own way feel cheated and abused in the marriage?

There are so many issues in your marriage that were contributors to the end result, that it would take deep and intensive couple’s counseling, as well as therapy for your children.  Everyone in your family is suffering, however, I would venture to say that all is not lost, and if you let me try to help sort through it with you, I have hope that you will find your way out of the darkness and back into the light.  There are many wonderful people ready, willing and able to reach out to you and help you, discretely and with respect for your privacy. Please get in touch with me.  I care.

Rachel Bluth

Aliyah and Keeping Young with Yisrael

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

As an education writer for the nonprofit organization, Kars4Kids, and as someone who made Aliyah from Pittsburgh 34 years ago, I decided to write about the challenges of Aliyah from western countries with school age children. See the previous piece in this series, Fully Absorbed, Coming Through to the Other Side.

As a teen, Randi Lipkin spent three consecutive summers working at HASC, a camp for Jewish children with special needs. Randi’s husband Michael spent his nineteenth summer as a counselor there, and the couple both worked at HASC one summer after they were married, never knowing that someday, they would have a special needs child of their own.

The Lipkin family made Aliyah in August of 2004, with four children from Edison, New Jersey. After they made Aliyah, Randi discovered she was pregnant with Yisrael, who has Down syndrome.

Michael serves as senior editor of financial articles at a local company, Seeking Alpha. Randi is an occupational therapist who works at a “Gan Safa,” a Beit Shemesh nursery school for children with developmental language delays. The Lipkins live in Beit Shemesh.

Proud father Michael Lipkin holds newborn Yisrael Simcha (photo credit: courtesy Michael Lipkin)

Proud father Michael Lipkin holds newborn Yisrael Simcha (photo credit: courtesy Michael Lipkin)

V: Tell me a bit about your children and their adjustment to your Aliyah.

Michael: We had 4 children when made Aliyah. They were 19, 17, 14, and 3 when we moved. Our oldest, one year post-seminary, was our big Zionist and would have moved here even if we hadn’t. Her adjustment was very smooth. She married a year and half later and is now living in our neighborhood with her husband and 3 children.

Our next oldest was borderline interested in moving. As she was entering her senior year in a Flatbush Beit Yaakov the year we made Aliyah, we decided it was best for her to finish high school there while boarding with Randi’s sister who lived nearby. She subsequently came here for seminary, married soon after, and is living in Bet Shemesh with her husband and 3 children.

Our older son had the toughest adjustment. Even though he wanted to move he had a difficult time adjusting to dorm life at Maarava high school. However, he is now our most integrated child having married an Israeli girl and is currently serving his country.

Our youngest at the time adapted very well because of her young age and smarts.

V: How old were you and Randi when Randi became pregnant with Yisrael?

Michael: I was 47 and Randi was 45. We had just had our first grandson and our second daughter was married during Randi’s pregnancy.

V: How did you and Randi feel about the pregnancy? How was the level of obstetric care here compared to the care Randi received in the States during previous pregnancies?

Michael: I was ecstatic, very excited, but nervous for her. Getting pregnant at that age was nervous-making, and of course, we worried about Down syndrome.

Randi: The overall care here was fine, but I found it very weird that you develop a relationship with a doctor and then he has absolutely nothing to do with your delivery. The experience was totally different than in the states. In certain ways the doctors seemed very laidback and in other ways hyper-nervous.

I had gestational diabetes as I’d had before in my previous pregnancies. The doctor transferred my entire case to an obstetrician that handles gestational diabetes and I at one point said to the doctor, “Can we listen to the heartbeat?”

They were too focused on the diabetes. There was far less connection to me as an expectant mother compared to what I had experienced in the States. Of course, I’d had tremendous relationships with my doctors in the States, because I’d known them for 25 years. It’s just not what you have here.

Since I was having an elective, planned C-section, we paid for a private doctor instead of showing up at the hospital and just getting whoever was on duty that day and we felt very comfortable with that decision.

V: I know you gave Yisrael the middle name “Simcha” because you wanted him to always know he brought simcha, joy, into your lives. Was that immediate? Or did it take some adjusting to the idea?

Varda Meyers Epstein

Understanding God through Self-Exploration

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

One of the most timeless and thought provoking questions regarding religion is whether spirituality and religious study is primarily about self-knowledge or other-knowledge?

An old Chassidic teaching demonstrates the position that religion is, generally, first and foremost a search for the self:

A chassid came to visit his rebbi.

The rebbi asked the chassid: “Why have you come here?”

The chassid replied: “I have come to find God.”

The rebbi, with a twinkle in his eye, responded: “For that you didn’t have to come here, since God, Whose glory fills the entire earth, can be found everywhere in the world!”

Surprised by the rebbi’s reaction to his statement, the chassid asked: “Then why indeed do people come here to the rebbi?”

To which the rebbi answered quietly: “People come here to find themselves.”

As the Chasidic teaching illustrates, we often seek the guidance of religious leaders and texts to find ourselves. There is, of course, nothing wrong with gaining self-knowledge and growth, in fact this is beautiful, but we cannot lose sight of another important goal of religion: Other knowledge. What can we learn about the world? About God? About humanity?

Society (religion of course included) has markedly turned toward individualism. Many of the effects of this have been positive as it has increased a sense of autonomy, empowerment, and responsibility. However, a significant, and often overlooked, cost has been the loss of engagement with the Other.

One Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 14:9) demonstrates the extent to which we should be engaged with God and ideally focused:

R. Levi b. R. Hanina said: ‘For every single breath that a human being takes, he should offer praise to the Creator.’ What is the reason? Scripture says, “Let every soul (neshamah) praise God’ (Psalm 150:6)—let every breath (neshimah) praise God.

Of course many of us fall far short of this ideal. We are often too caught up in the mundane tasks and stresses of everyday life, and find it hard, if not impractical, to stop and thank God for every breath we take. However, let us now stop, for just a second, and give thanks to God, as this Midrash commands, for the gift of life and the blessings we have been given. Let us renew our search for God and begin anew our engagement and focus.

A beautiful idea in Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (Likutei Maharan Essay 282) is that of judging others, finding the good in our brothers and sisters, and understanding the implications of our actions toward others:

Know! A person must judge everyone favorably. Even in the case of a complete sinner, one must search until one finds some point of good within that person. For the verse says: “With a little bit [of good], and the wicked will be no more” (Psalms 37:10). This verse refers to finding and exclusively focusing on the “little bit” of good which is found within everyone, including a complete sinner. By judging even a complete sinner favorably, one fulfills the end of this verse: “And the wicked will be no more.” Once you judge a sinner favorably you actually elevate the sinner to the side of holiness. This can help this person return to God. How is it possible that this sinner never once fulfilled a mitzvah or did something good throughout his entire life? Once a person does even one good deed, he becomes part of and attached to God, the source of all good.

Every person can sense how another person feels toward him. A person’s feelings toward another are broadcast loud and clear through verbal and non-verbal communication, intimations, body language, and gestures. Therefore, if one projects and transmits positive feelings toward another, the warmth and good attitude that one projects can be felt and can literally uplift the other person. Once a person feels uplifted and is imbued with a sense of self-worth and joy, this happy attitude could motivate a person to seek out God and return to Him. If one, however, projects negative feelings toward another, this could literally kill the other person and cause him to fall completely….

Imagine if we viewed others and interacted with others in such a fashion and how that would affect our own souls and the souls of those around us!

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/understanding-god-through-self-exploration/2013/10/24/

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