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What did you do when you received a purple vase decorated with green stripes and gold roses as an inheritance from your late Aunt Minnie? Did you give it a place of honor in your breakfront, hide it away in the attic, or did you follow your spouse’s instructions and “sell that hideous thing because at least you might get some money for it”? Chances are that you wouldn’t dare sell the vase, simply because of its sentimental value.
There is no political ideology, government program, or redistribution of wealth that is going to cure humanity’s ills. In today’s secular, even anti-religious, Western society, religious people are seen as aggressive, intolerant, and foolish. But there are two things a decent religious person possesses that others don’t: A belief that there is a divine judge, which may make them curb their behavior; and a desire for self-improvement, to reduce their sins and strive for something higher.
Rabbi Kook explains that a weakening of the will is due in large measure to a lack of physical energy and strength. When a person’s willpower is weak, he can fall into many bad habits. As part of his overall mending, he must improve his physical health, as well as his moral and spiritual worlds.
Within the last few days, with weeks of summer still ahead of us, I have read and seen news reports regarding very young children who tragically drowned in backyard swimming pools, despite being in relatively close proximity to parents and other adults.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis, This is the most painful letter I’ve ever written. I’ve been through many horrific experiences. My parents were survivors of the Holocaust; they were shattered people. I know you will understand this since you too are a Holocaust survivor.
I’d like to believe that I at least have average intelligence. And when in need of inspiration or to learn something to facilitate my personal growth, I gain much from adult tapes and books. I’m greatly inspired by the words of the plethora of writers and speakers who target their words to adult audiences; their sentence structure and vocabulary meant only for us grownups. Their valuable lessons are often arrived at through a series of logical steps any adult with reasonable intelligence should be able to follow. And follow I do.
There is an old rabbinic anecdote about a rabbi who was called on to deliver a eulogy for someone who had no redeeming social value whatsoever. The rabbi was hard pressed to think of anything positive to say about this person. So when he spoke he solemnly pronounced: “No matter how evil the deceased truly was, he was still a far better person than was his brother!”
Just a few days ago, I bumped into a former student in the supermarket. When she saw me, she stepped away from her shopping cart full of fruits and vegetables and warmly hugged me. “Mrs. Schonfeld, I wanted to tell you something that you said to me a few years ago that has stayed with me until today.” We had worked together on social skills to help her feel more comfortable when meeting new people. I tried to jog my memory and remember something specific I had said to bolster her confidence, but nothing particularly stood out. Instead, I smiled and said, “Yes, Sarah, what was it that I said?”
Dear Dr. Yael: I am very happy and successful in my line of work. However, I am having trouble with a coworker and hope you can help me. A few months ago, a new woman began working at my office. We share a workspace and often have to work together on projects. This woman seemed nice, but there have been several awkward situations between us that are really bothering me.
We hear it all the time: “This is a peanut-free facility, you can’t eat that peanut butter sandwich here!” A person may say, “So what? I am allergic to broccoli, it’s disgusting, keep it far from me.” We all should realize that food and medication allergies are no laughing matter. Reactions can be so severe that they could lead to death.
Feeling more alone than at any time since arriving in New York, I looked inside myself for anything that could anchor me to bring me back to who I was, to move away from illusions of romance to my central sticking point. Suddenly and unexpectedly, being a Jew meant more to me than anything else in the world.
Our Sages tell us that HaKodesh Baruch Hu, the Holy One Blessed Be He, weeps when a Jewish home is torn apart by of divorce. Unfortunately, He must be crying quite a lot these days, judging from the vast number of divorcees you discover on the pages of Facebook.
From elected officials to people in the street, from the highly educated secular upper class to yeshiva students to the working poor, numerous Israelis seem to share a lexicon and intellectual framework which denigrates and dehumanizes Africans, belittles their suffering, and trivialized their plight.
How do we teach our children to keep themselves safe from the adult predators in our midst? Are our schools teaching them what they need to know? Are parents teaching our youth what they need to know? Does your child feel safe enough to approach you if their personal space is being invaded? How do you know?
The Gemara in Kiddushin 41b derives from a pasuk in this week’s parshah the concept of shelichus (acting on one’s behalf). The pasuk says, “kein tarimu gam atem terumas Hashem – so you too shall remove the terumah of Hashem.” The Gemara explains that the word gam (too) is superfluous; thus we draw from this that another person may remove terumah for you on your behalf.
Imagine that a camera was recording your every move on the computer – would you still click on immodest sites? Would you still go astray after your eyes if you knew that a video of your doings was going to be posted on Youtube for the world to see? You may not be caught in This World, but up in the big Movie Theater in the sky, when you come before the Heavenly Tribunal, your Youtube history is going to be presented on the Big Screen for all of the Celestial Judges to see.