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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘person’

Everybody Is a Winner

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

I recently read a disturbing news article about a social phenomenon that is tragic beyond words.

The article stated that more people were losing their lives by committing suicide than by car crashes. This conclusion was based on a recent study by the American Journal of Public Health based on data compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics from the years 2000-2009.

The study found that vehicular fatalities during this period had declined by 25%, but deaths from suicides rose 15%. Experts, however, believe that the number is actually closer to 20%, and that many deaths listed as accidental were not. There is a cultural and religious stigma in regards to killing oneself, so some suicides were orchestrated to look unintentional.

Conversely, despite it seeming as if there are more drivers on the road – we are all to often frustrated by traffic congestion that turns highways into parking lots – and the increase in distracted drivers, the decrease in car accidents was attributed to various safety features like front and side air bags, seat belts and stricter penalties for speeding and drinking.

So why are so many people killing themselves, or attempting to, since some try but fail? I can only imagine that they are looking for a way out of lives saturated with abject misery; they feel trapped in a cage of never-ending unhappiness.

Many wake up wishing they hadn’t. Each day is emotionally traumatic and they do not even entertain the possibility of their lives getting better; they have no iota of hope that the situation they find themselves in will ever improve.

In trying to understand the mindset of a suicidal person, I imagine that it is like having your finger stuck in a flame. No matter how hard you try to pull the finger out of the fire, you cannot. You are in such torturous pain, and so desperate for the agony to stop, that you want to kill yourself to get blessed relief. You see no other option.

But their excruciating pain is not physical – it is emotional.

They are enveloped in the flames of relentless despair and hopelessness; some try to dull the pain through alcohol, drugs or unsavory distractions and behaviors. But all they manage to achieve is a temporary respite. Their finger is still in the fire and they face endless years of torment. I believe the fuel feeding this flame is a deep sense of worthlessness, an overwhelming belief that they are perpetual losers; thus they see no point in even trying to strive for success, be it socially, financially or spiritually.

They have given up, believing they have failed and will continue to do so. They feel like caged gerbils on an exercise wheel, running and running and running to no avail – as hard as they try, they get nowhere.

Sadly, the “oxygen” that feeds this extreme sense of inadequacy is often supplied by those who should have been building their egos and fortifying their sense of self, planting and nurturing the seeds of confidence and self-like that would bloom into a happy, optimistic, and emotionally healthy human being. These include mothers and fathers, siblings, spouses, teachers, neighbors, friends, colleagues, employers – even strangers.

Constant, unrelenting criticism, denigration, and belittling – whether unintentional (in a misguided attempt to motivate you to do better academically, improve your job performance, or your looks,) or deliberate – bullies trying to shore up their own low self-esteem by mocking, teasing, and even physically hurting someone they perceive to be a bigger “loser” than themselves – whittles away a person’s belief that he is worthful (as opposed to worthless) and deserving of respect.

Individually, every put down or jab is just a single straw, but thousands of these straws piling up over the years can crush the strongest back and break the sturdiest spirit.

(I remember when I was little and would walk down the street, an elderly neighbor who often sat on his porch, would call out to me, “Hey fatty!” I was a bit chubby, but what did he gain by denigrating me? I was too much of a tomboy to care how I looked, but it was a negative straw nonetheless.)

Cheryl Kupfer

Shariah Card: Charge Your Way to Mecca

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Users of a Shariah-compliant credit card from the United Arab Emirates can charge their purchases according to Islamic law, direct their prayers toward Mecca, and even put a little aside for the Hajj.

Al Hillaj Bank’s new credit card charges no interest on loans, keeping in line with Shariah law forbidding the charging of interest.  The card gives a percentage of the money spent to charity, and features a small compass which can help the Muslim devotee direct his or her prayers toward Mecca 5 times a day.

And it may help him get there in person.  Card users are eligible for travel vouchers which help pay their way to Mecca on the obligatory pilgrimage which occurs there annually.

Malkah Fleisher

Will Your Grandma Be a Victim of Financial Abuse

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Have you ever met the kind of guy that would sell his own grandmother down the river?

Since more and more elderly people are being swindled and financially abused every day, it’s crucial to learn how to protect your grandmother and other seniors you care about.

Why are the elderly so susceptible to financial abuse? After all, chances are that they worked for many long years and have achieved the wisdom of experience. While they were young and fit, they surely had the opportunities to protect themselves, so what makes them vulnerable now?

Three reasons the elderly get scammed

1. Generally, as individuals grow older they tend to become more isolated from others. Perhaps their spouse has passed away and their children don’t live close by. The loneliness and isolation that this creates can make a person more vulnerable and open to parting with money… if it leads to companionship. For example, if Grandma is suddenly bombarded with invitations to free lunches and seminars, she may at first go simply for the company rather than any real interest in the subject of the event. She may find herself “befriended” by the organizers and convinced to invest in a dubious scheme because her defenses are down now that these people have been so “nice” to her.

2. Modern technology. An elderly person who has little experience with computers and knows only how to send or reply to an email may easily fall prey to scams such as fake charitable appeals asking for a credit card number in order to make a donation, a bank password for depositing some unexpected funds that don’t really exist into his account, and so forth.

3. The worst threat of all: seemingly concerned relatives and caregivers who have their own hidden agenda. One of my clients recently told me that she had to fire her elderly father’s home healthcare worker because he had almost managed to get the old man, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, to write him into his will. The caregiver was caught just in time. And then there are the unscrupulous relatives who have been given power of attorney for a relative and they gradually whittle away all their resources until there is nothing left at all.

Sadly many of these offenses go unreported because the victims may be too embarrassed to admit that they made such a big mistake, or no one is monitoring the situation.

If you’re caring for an elderly parent or grandparent, keep an eye on what’s going on, both with their physical health and fiscal health. If you have power of attorney over their bank account, review it periodically and investigate suspicious activity. Find out what’s happening if unexpectedly large sums are disappearing. Observe all caregivers, and do strict background checks on any much younger new “loves” or prospective new spouses who suddenly appear.

Protect Grandma and other seniors in your life from becoming victims of fraud by educating yourself about how to be vigilant against scams and implementing  tips against elder fraud. After all, a broken hip may be easier to fix than a broken bank account.

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

From Depression To Happiness

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:

I am a man in my 50s who, Baruch Hashem, has had a good life. I am married with children and grandchildren and was always a happy-go-lucky person, thankful for all the berachot bestowed on me.

This year, though, has been very difficult for me, with many family and personal problems. I have begun to experience something that I have never really had before: depression. Out of nowhere I begin to feel upset and anxious, and I do not know what to do to get rid of these feelings. I have never been a negative or sad person and I don’t know how to return to my old self. I try to think more positively but my mind always starts to find the negative aspects, and it often snowballs and makes me feel more and more depressed. I do not know how to get out of this cycle or how to be more upbeat. I do not want to feel this way, yet find myself returning to depressing thoughts more and more. Please help!

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous:

Without having a chance to sit and meet with you, it is hard to say exactly what your issue is. However, it is possible that you are experiencing either an adjustment disorder with depressed and anxious mood or feeling some dysphoria. Both of these disorders can be similarly treated. Your thoughts seem to negatively impact the way you feel and this in turn makes you think more negatively – and subsequently you feel worse. As you noted, it is a difficult cycle to end. The most important thing to do now is to go for professional help before you get worse. Here are some ideas I believe will be helpful:

One helpful Cognitive-Behavioral Strategy is to restructure your thoughts. In order to do this, you must ask yourself questions. For example, what’s the argument for and against a particular thought? What would I tell a friend in the same situation? Is there any way to look at this positively? Is thinking about this helping me or making the situation worse?

Try to rationally think about the truth. Chances are that you are having cognitive distortions that make you overgeneralize, thus painting a limited occurrence with a broad brush (e.g., believing that if just one problem arises, your life then becomes problematic or terrible). You might also be personalizing things, like when someone ascribes an external event to himself when there is, in reality, no connection between the person and the event. (An example of this is when a stranger or aquaintance is rude to you and you incorrectly conclude that you must have done something to cause the person’s rudeness.)

Another possibility is that you are making arbitrary inferences, creating – with no supporting information – a not necessarily correct conclusion (not necessarily the right one) in a certain situation. An example of this is when – despite no actual information to support his or her belief – a person believes that someone either does not like him or her or that the person believes him or her to be a horrible person. All of these cognitive distortions are untrue and unhealthy because it causes the one with this condition to have a negative self-view.

In therapy the first thing a client will learn is how to identify these problematic thoughts which in addition to increasing depression and anxiety, also reduce a person’s ability to cope with his or her environment. If you are theoretically able to identify when you are doing this and are then able to replace these thoughts with a more realistic view, you will begin to feel better.

The next step is for you to practice replacing these negative thoughts. Some therapists ask their clients to write down specific thoughts, when they took place and how he or she felt at that time. Then they are asked to think of a replacement thought that is more realistic to the situation and to rate how that thought would make them feel. It starts out as an exercise, but hopefully over time you will begin second-guessing these negative distortions and replacing them with more positive, realistic thoughts that engender more positive feelings. It is never helpful for anyone to think negatively, even if a situation is not a positive one.

Dr. Yael Respler

Standing And Sitting For Kiddush On Sukkot

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Question: Should a person recite kiddush standing or sitting on Sukkot? If he stands, should he sit down after saying the berachah of leshev ba’sukkah or remain standing?

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 643:2) cites the Rambam’s ruling that kiddush on Sukkot should be recited while standing so that one can sit down immediately after the leshev ba’sukkah berachah. The Rema, however, demurs. He notes that such is not the custom; rather, “we recite kiddush while seated.”

The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 643:sk4) explains that the Rambam maintains that a person has fulfilled the mitzvah of sukkah as soon as he sits in one. Since a general halachic principle dictates that a person should recite a berachah on a mitzvah right before performing it, it only makes sense that one should sit down after making the berachah of leshev ba’sukkah.

The Rema, however, maintains that sitting in a sukkah is not a fulfillment of the mitzvah of sukkah. That only starts when one eats in a sukkah. Accordingly, there is nothing wrong with sitting down and making kiddush before saying the berachah of leshev ba’sukkah.

What should a person do if his minhag is to stand for kiddush? If he sits after saying leshev ba’sukkah, he will convey the impression that he has fulfilled the mitzvah of sukkah by sitting down. But he has not. The mitzvah of yeshivat sukkah mean dwelling in a sukkah, not sitting in it. So as not to convey an incorrect impression, perhaps a person who stands for kiddush should remain standing after concluding kiddush.

Of interest is the position of the Shulchan Aruch Harav. He writes that a person should sit after saying leshev ba’sukkah, not because he has thereby fulfilled the mitzvah of sukkah, but so as to avoid giving the impression that he is immediately leaving the sukkah. It is merely a symbolic act to project the image that he is remaining in the sukkah and not standing, ready to leave.

A means of demonstrating loyalty to both the position of the Mishnah Berurah and the theory of the Shulchan Aruch Harav would be to recite kiddush while standing and then to manifest permanency by sitting down to drink the wine.

Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, has authored eight books on Jewish law. His latest, “Jewish Prayer The Right Way” (Urim Publications), is available at Amazon.com and Judaica stores.

Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen

Yom Kippur Guide for the Perplexed 2012

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

1.  Yom Kippur is observed on the tenth day of the Jewish month of Tishrey, whose astrological sign is Libra (♎). Libra symbolizes key themes of Yom Kippur: scales, justice, balance, truth, symmetry, sensitivity and optimism. Libra is ruled by the planet Venus (Noga, נגה, in Hebrew), which reflects divine light and love of the other person.  The numerical value of Venus, נגה, is 58 just like the numerical value of אזן, which is the Hebrew root of “balance” and “scale.”

2.  Three holidays – Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot (Tabernacles) – are celebrated during the month of Tishrey. The number 3 is identified with balance, stability and The Essence.  The triangle is a symbol of stability.

3.  On the first day of Tishrey, the first human being, Adam, was created. Each year on the tenth day of Tishrey, Yom Kippur, human beings are accorded an opportunity to recreate themselves spiritually. Tishrey and Libra are dominated by the Hebrew letter ל, which is the tallest Hebrew letter, consisting of 3 parts, aiming upward, reflecting the need to elevate-oneself morally, self-enhancement. Yom Kippur is not driven by punishment, but by behavioral-enhancement.

4.  Yom Kippur’s central theme is the plea for forgiveness – directly and not merely via prayers – from fellow human beings.  It highlights humility (admitting fallibility), faith, soul-searching, thoughtfulness, being considerate, compassion, accepting responsibility, magnanimity.  Speaking ill of other people (“evil tongue” in Hebrew) may not be forgiven.

5.  The Jubilee – sanctifying each 50th year by proclaiming liberty, as also inscribed on the Liberty Bell – is announced by blowing the Shofar (a ritual ram’s horn) on Yom Kippur. The Jubilee liberates people physically and spiritually. The word “jubilee” (יובל) is a Hebrew synonym for “Shofar.” Yom Kippur and Jubilee highlight liberty and the subordination to God.

6.  Yom Kippur culminates the ten days of genuine, heart-driven atonement/repentance, which begin on Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrey – an Acadian word for forgiveness and Genesis. It is observed on the tenth day of TishreyTen has special significance in Judaism: God’s abbreviation is the tenth Hebrew letter (Yod – י); Ten attributes of God – Divine perfection – were highlighted during the Creation; the Ten Commandments; the Ten Plagues;  Ten reasons for blowing the Shofar; 10% gift to God (tithe); The Ten Martyrs (Rabbis who were tortured/murdered by the Roman Empire); Ten generations between Adam and Noah and ten generations between Noah and Abraham; a ten worshipper quorum (Minyan) is required for a collective Jewish prayer;  etc.

7.  Yom Kippur is a Happy Jewish Holiday, replacing vindictiveness and rage with peace-of-mind and peaceful co-existence between God and human beings and, primarily, among human beings.  Yom Kippur emphasizes God’s Covenant with the Jewish People, ending God’s rage over the sin of the Golden Calf.

8.  The Hebrew word Kippur כיפור (atonement/repentance) is a derivative of the Biblical words Kaporet כפורת – which covered the Holy Ark at the Sanctuary – and Kopher כופר, which covered Noah’s Ark and the Holy Altar at the Temple.  Yom Kippur resembles a spiritual cover (dome), which separates between the holy (days) and the mundane (rest of the year), between spiritualism and materialism. The Kippa כיפה (skullcap, Yarmulke), which covers one’s head during prayers, reflects a spiritual dome. 

9. Yom Kippur calls for repentance – Teshuvah, תשובה, in Hebrew.  The root of Teshuvah is similar to root of the Hebrew word for Return שובה – returning to positive values – and Shvitah שביתה – cessation (strike) of mundane thoughts and actions and eating.  It is also similar to the root of Shabbat שבת. Yom Kippur is also called Shabbat Shabbaton – the supreme Sabbath.  The last Sabbath before Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Teshuvah (based on Hosea’s prophesy, chapter 4).  While the Sabbath is the soul of the week, Yom Kippur is the soul of the year.

10.  The Hebrew spelling of “fast” (צם/צום) – abstinence from food – reflects the substance of Yom Kippur.  The Hebrew word for “fast” is the root of the Hebrew word for “reduction” and “shrinking” (צמצום) of one’s wrong-doing.  It is also the root of the Hebrew words for“slave” (צמית) and “eternity” (צמיתות) – enslavement to God, but not to human-beings. “Fast” is also the root of עצמי (being oneself), עצום (awesome),  עצמה (power), עצמאות(independence), which are gained through the process of fasting, soul-searching, spiritual enhancement and trust in God.

11.  The prayer of Veedooi-וידוי (confession/reaffirmation in Hebrew) is recited ten timesduring Yom Kippur, re-entrenching genuine repentance and the plea for forgiveness. The prerequisites for forgiveness are the expression and exercise (talking and walking) of repentance; assuming full-responsibility for one’s (mis)behavior, and significantly altering one’s behavior.  King Saul sinned only once – ignoring the commandment to annihilate the Amalekites – but was banished from the crown and killed, because he shirked responsibility, while responding to Samuel’s accusation.  King David sinned twice (The “Bat-Sheba Gate” and the “Census Gate”), but was forgiven, because he accepted full-responsibility and the death sentence (as proclaimed by Nathan the Prophet), which was promptly rescinded.

Yoram Ettinger

Portraits of a Heroine

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Corporal S., hero of the Caracal Unit, in her own words:

 

 

“I ran under fire until I got to Netanel. But when I saw his condition, I understood it was impossible to save him. One of the terrorists exploded near us. I understood we were facing death.

I took cover and thought about my parents.

After we shot the terrorists I returned to the second wounded person, Mati, and I told him, “Stay strong, you’re a hero.”

 

 

 

Did we mention that she also volunteers in MDA?

Photo: Rotter.net

 

 

 

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/portraits-of-a-heroine/2012/09/24/

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