Posts Tagged ‘living’
“And Hashem said to Moshe and Aharon, ‘Because you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you will not bring this congregation to the land that I have given them.’ ” – Bamidbar 20:12
For almost forty years while the Jews were traveling in the desert, their source of water was the be’er, a large rock that provided the water they needed to survive. The Jewish nation then consisted of about three million people. They had also taken many animals with them when they went out of Mitzrayim, so they required millions of gallons of water each day. The be’er provided all they needed and more.
When Miriam died, the rock disappeared, and Klal Yisrael recognized their survival was in jeopardy. Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu to go out into the desert, speak to the rock, and bring the water back. When Moshe and Aharon went to the rock, they spoke to it and received no response. Moshe then assumed that just as it was necessary to hit the rock when the Jews first went out into the desert, so too now. When he hit the rock, it began pouring forth water.
Later, Hashem told Moshe and Aaron they had erred. Hashem had commanded them to speak to the rock, and it was through the power of speech that the miracle was to come about. On some level, they were lacking in their trust in Hashem, and this caused them to miscalculate. Had they been more complete in their trust, they would have used words alone, and the rock would have provided the water.
Rashi tells us that because of this mistake, the Jewish people lost out on a great lesson. Had Moshe only spoken to the rock, the Jews would have said to themselves, “A rock doesn’t require sustenance, yet it listens to the word of Hashem; surely, we who rely on Hashem for parnassah, must listen to Him.” However, since Moshe hit the rock instead of speaking to it, that lesson was lost.
Rashi seems to be saying that if Moshe had spoken to the rock, the Jewish people would have increased their level of service to Hashem. They would have realized their livelihood was dependent on doing mitzvahs, and this would have added focus and precision in the way they fulfilled them.
There are two problems with understanding this Rashi. One is that the Gemara tells us the reward for mitzvahs is not in this world. While it is true that Hashem rewards every good a person does, the place of that reward is in the World to Come. In fact, it is considered a curse to use up your payment in this world. So it doesn’t seem to be correct that their livelihood was dependent on listening to Hashem.
The second problem with this Rashi is that any motivational system must be tailored to fit the audience. The people of this generation received the Torah on Har Sinai. They spent almost forty years surrounded by the Clouds of Glory, completely immersed in Torah study, and sustained by the mon. They were on the highest madreigah of any generation in history. So even if their parnassah was dependent on their listening, how would they be motivated by something so mundane as earning their daily bread?
Obstacles that prevent us from serving Hashem
The answer to this question is based on understanding the Rambam (Hilchos Teshuvah, Perek 9). He explains that even though we don’t receive reward for doing mitzvahs in this world, if a person keeps the Torah properly, Hashem will remove all the obstacles that normally prevent a person from keeping the mitzvahs. Sickness, war, poverty, and hunger prevent a person from learning or fulfilling the mitzvahs. If a person is happy and dedicates himself to keeping the Torah, Hashem will shower him with all of the requirements to better serve Him, including peace, tranquility, well being, sustenance, and all else a person needs to follow the Torah.Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
I recently read somewhere that the human brain can actively retain only four items at one time. It seems that more than four causes debilitating crowding as brain cells jockey for space. Inevitably, some thoughts are simply pushed out and away.
This means that if we want the important things to stay with us and receive the proper attention, we must limit our thoughts and prioritize. I found that comforting… a satisfactory explanation of why I forget so many things so often. Obviously, I simply have too many things to remember at any given time.
Unfortunately, four memory spaces are not sufficient. On any given day there are countless things to remember in the morning, plus items that can only be attended to in the afternoon, plus evening errands and chores. And on special occasions, the number of Things to Do increases exponentially. I have, however, a fool-proof method of dealing with the problem. It’s called Lists.
A list can contain not four, not fourteen, but even forty or more items all at one time (although, I’d suggest you try and limit yourself if you want to keep your sanity). Furthermore, lists are quiet. They don’t beep, click or blink. They just sit and wait patiently for you to notice them. They are pliable. If you ignore an item or change the order of things, they won’t make a peep, even if you neglected to do something vital. (Just remember… you will be held responsible for all damage and unsatisfactory results.)
Most gratifying, I’ve found that when items sit on my list long enough, they tend to shrivel up and fall off, proving that they weren’t all that important in the first place. Anything that’s really relevant stays put. As time goes on, as-yet-undone items are copied from list to list, sometimes advancing to the top, sometimes slipping down a bit, until they are either attended to or slide off completely and disappear.
At the moment of this writing, I am engrossed in the making of several lists: Laundry, Deadlines, Babysitting, Dentist & Other Medical Miscellanea and appointments while my husband is eagerly awaiting supper and three grandkids just called to say they are coming for a snack. It’s enough to overwhelm and paralyze even the greatest and most active of minds. But not mine. I remain calm.
Four sheets of paper are spread out before me as I neatly inscribe each item on the proper sheet, confident that nothing will get lost. I am filled with a feeling of great power and control. (Warning: Unfortunately, this often turns out to be a delusion.)
Male readers will probably think I am making a big deal out of nothing, but any female will immediately recognize a universal phenomenon. People wake up in the morning with great hopes and plans for the New Day. They expect everything to fall into place. But if they have not done their homework beforehand, if they have not thought, listed, worried and arranged, they are in line for a mighty disappointment. A neat list is as good as an hour of professional advice for keeping life on firm footing. It’s cheaper too. A lack of organization usually comes with a price – anger, frustration, pressure and other unwholesome things.
Sometimes my lists are so weighty that I divide them up by category. By Time – Today, Immediately, Sometime This Week, Next Week, Next Month, or, as we so often say in Israel, acharei hachagim… after the holidays are over. By Subject Matter – Iron, Shop, Phone Calls, Bills, E-Mail). There are Urgency Lists – Funerals, Doctors, Bank. And often, a topic will contain subtopics – Iron: Only the blouses for the girls’ school play this afternoon. Some topics may even appear on several lists at once.
The most important thing you need for lists is a proper notebook. Some like a spiral, where you can rip off lists as they are no longer relevant. Some prefer a permanent notebook where you can find a phone number from last week or last month which you happen to need again now. I also like a good pen which writes clearly and doesn’t smudge.
Lots of people walk around with smartphones and everything they’ll ever need or want to know is neatly tucked away in digital bytes. Heaven help them if the phone stops working or is lost. Besides, all that flickering on the screen gives me a headache. I stick with clean, old fashioned, paper.
I once tried using one of those erasable white black-boards instead of a notebook, but the lists were rubbed out by mistake once too often and vital items were lost. My grandchildren also tended to pick them up and scribble on them, totally oblivious to the fact that they were already in use.
I keep my notebook right next to the phone so I can always (usually) find it. Correction: next to the wall phone – which is my favorite kind. It doesn’t move around so I needn’t go around looking for it or for the list. I think that people who are always running around looking for their cordless or cellphones are hopelessly disorganized. And the ones who misplace their lists may be in need of emergency medical attention!
Once in a while, I flip the pages in my notebook back and look at older, expired lists and am left feeling overwhelmed at the unending amount of Things To Do. Most seem to return shortly after having been disposed of. Things like ironing, shopping, doctors, phone calls, and repair jobs get done, undone, and need to be redone in short order. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it. What would happen if I just tore up my lists, did whatever was urgently vital at any given moment and then sat back and relaxed until the next emergency?
But I’m not brave enough to try it. Giving up my lists just wouldn’t work for me. Just thinking about it makes me shudder. I have finally realized that even though I may not be able to control the world, the country or the weather (not even my finances), I have not yet given up hope that I can control my day. That too is often highly doubtful but I do try. Now if you’ll excuse me, I just thought of something I have to take care of that I almost forgot. Hmm… where the heck did I leave that list?Yaffa Ganz
“The terrible congestion in which inmates in Israel live is unacceptable,” Internal Affairs Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) said on Sunday as the committee members were touring Hasharon and Ofek prisons. “Even monkeys in the zoo have more living space. Four and a half square meters [for each inmate] is crowded compared with international standards, and we are not even complying with that.”
Amsalem demanded statistics on the level of congestion in each prison. “Together with the Israel Prisons Service (IPS), we will develop a multi-year plan which I will advance in conjunction with the Treasury and the Ministry of Public Security,” he said.
MK Akram Hasoon (Kulanu) said that the fact that “so many inmates are not rehabilitated and return to prison” is a “cause for concern.” According to Hasson, the state invests some $770 thousand in each prisoner. “The question is whether we are making correct use of this money. Is there synchronization between the welfare authorities and the IPS?”
MK Osama Sa’adi (Joint Arab List) said, “We must find ways to fill the prisoners’ time, rather than leave them closed up in their cells. We need education, employment and a lot of sports. In the Ofek youth prison I saw many positive things.”
IPS Commissioner Ofra Klinger said, “We have increased the number of rehabilitation frameworks. They were half empty, and now they are being filled. Prison time is an opportunity, not only for the inmate, but for the state as well. If a prisoner is given a chance to perceive himself differently, he will understand that change is possible. The state invests a lot of money in the IPS, but not in facilities. A person who lives in dishonorable conditions cannot make use of the resources at his disposal. There is no argument that we must build more prisons. Currently, some 40% of prisoners live in inadequate facilities.”JNi.Media
“To infuse some thought or feeling into a person, as if by breathing; to animate or actuate by some mental or spiritual influence.” – Oxford English Dictionary
Inspiration is a difficult concept to explain.
There are hundreds of dictionary entries attempting to define this word as accurately as possible but sometimes, words don’t always conjure the perfect image or understanding in your mind.
As a kid, I found it difficult to sit still and listen to numerous stories about people who have changed the world. My mind has two modes; engaging with something in front of my eyes or wandering to find its own entertainment. Needless to say, I left school with no idea of how someone or something can positively impact my life.
Over time, I realized that without a source of inspiration, it is difficult to evolve into someone other people look to emulate. Deep down, every person wants to be remembered or admired for something. It’s not about having an ego, it’s about building purpose. If you don’t leave your footprint on earth, how will anyone know you walked upon it?
I started to question myself: What actually inspires me? What do I see or do that really leaves me speechless and breathless? I realized that I had no answer. It upset me because it proved that I hadn’t found a way of connecting myself to the world or finding the means in which to grow and discover. So I decided that it’s not about finding someone or something to change you, it’s about changing yourself.
For a number of years, I became fixated with learning what’s out there. Every month I’d find myself sat in an airport waiting for my flight to be called. For a long time, I felt like I needed to meet new people and see different things; and it really worked. I guess at that time in my life, I needed to develop and understand how to appreciate what I have because it’s easy to take it for granted. The grass truly is always greener on the other side.
But then I stopped and thought, I don’t need to do this. Gallivanting around the world isn’t essential because inspiration can come in the wildest and most random of forms.
Just last night, I attended a performance by one of the top illusionists in the world. Never did I think I would attend a magic show and come out enthused, but I did. He told us all in the audience that he wanted to pass on a message; he wanted the theme of the evening to be about a topic that means something to him.
For almost 20 minutes, he explained the true meaning of happiness. People can become obsessed with achieving career or academic goals which they think will leave them happy but that’s not the truth. If one doesn’t fulfil their aspirations, it can leave them even more miserable than when they set out. As well, these materialistic dreams can distract you from what is the real importance – your friends, family and loved ones. To be frank – you can wipe your tears with a $50 bill but it’ll never take them away.
Instead of leaving and being content with the show, I left with being content with what I wanted my outlook to become. Happiness is so important that it should come before anything else in the world. Everything in life will be miserable if your attitude is so.
Whether it’s a book, performance, a life experience or even traveling the world, it’s imperative to keep yourself evolving. Find things that make you want to be a better you, but also that make you want to be a better person so that one day, you can inspire someone else who may need it too.
Become an inspiration.
Decorated special forces soldier Sgt. Yehuda Yitzchak Hayisraeli who fought and was critically injured in the 2014 Gaza War, during the courageous attempt to retrieve the late Lt. Hadar Goldin who had been captured and killed by Hamas. Sgt. Yehuda was in a coma for two years, surrounded by his wife and family, who never gave up on him. His son Erez was born and was circumcised while his hero father was still in a coma, an event that focused national attention on the family one more time.
Then a miracle happened and Yehuda came out of the coma, a few months ago. Since then he has been engaged in a grueling and demanding rehab process, where he is re-learning a large variety of basic skills, on the way to full recovery. Eventually the time came for Yehuda to be discharged from the hospital to continue his rehab at home. Like every injured soldier, the defense ministry pays for adjusting his home environment to his rehab needs. But Yehuda is a resident of the community of Ofra in Judea and Samaria, and since the entire region is under a construction freeze in an attempt to please Israel’s many friends in the world, the funds could not be legally transferred to him, no matter how deserving he may be.
The family was dumbfounded at this degree of bureaucratic autism, but a group of Israeli citizens who last week heard about the case in the media decided to come to their aid. They launched a communal fundraising page on the website headstart.co.il, and asked for the equivalent of $156,000, the amount needed to pay for Yehuda’s accommodations. As of Sunday morning, the page has raised $373,061.61 from 7,778 individuals.
On the fundraising page, the organizers have thanked profusely everyone who contributed (including opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog who gave about $300), and declared that the collection will continue, at least until the official expiration time, which is in 26 days. The money will go to provide for Yehuda’s family in the next year or so.
What a wonderful example of community values in face of government deafness. (Click here for an update on the government’s response).