GOOD MORNING! I once visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. What impacted me most was a video interview. An old man told of finding his friend davening (praying) one day. "Chaim, what are you praying? It's too late for the morning prayers and too early for the afternoon prayers." Responded Chaim, "I am praying to thank God." The old man asked, "Chaim, what are you thanking God for? Look around you! We're starving. They're torturing us and killing us! What can you possibly be thanking God for?" Chaim replied, "I am thanking God that I am one of us and not one of them."
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you view it. We all know people who are perpetually negative. From my experience, when I ask them about their perspective, they say "I am just dealing with reality." Reality is what happens to you. How you understand what happens to you -- how you frame it or reframe it -- is up to you. As someone once said, "In life there is pain, but suffering is optional."
What is fascinating is that we all have the ability to change our perspective and to even change our lives in one moment -- if we have an insight into life and take it to heart. Taking it to heart is the hard part; Winston Churchill once said, "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened."
The key to happiness in life is gratitude. If you are grateful for what you have you can have happiness; if you are ungrateful you are holding the key to misery. Recently I was re-reading Thank You! by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (available at your local Jewish bookstore, at JudaicaEnterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242). I wanted to strengthen my appreciation for all that I have and all that happens to me. His book is filled with formulas, stories and insights. Here's a story that deeply affected me and which I wish to share with you. Writes Rabbi Pliskin:
"I met a fellow whom I hadn't seen in over five years. The last time I had seen him he was pessimistic, negative, miserable and depressed. When we bumped into each other now he was smiling and his entire being radiated a sense of joy.
"How did you do it?" I asked him. "You look like an entirely different person. How did you develop the joy I see on you now?"
" 'When we spoke a number of years ago, you tried to influence me to become a more positive person. You suggested that I make a daily list of at least ten good things that happened to me that day,' he said. 'I argued that this wouldn't help me. It wasn't my fault that I was so unhappy. The root cause was that my parents were to blame. Nobody gave me what I needed to be a happy person. Others were to blame and I was angry at everyone I knew.'
" 'About a year ago, I gave my entire spiel to a tough personal coach. He told me that I was choosing to be unhappy and miserable. I screamed at him, and told him that the way he was talking to me was just making me feel worse. I thought he would back down, like most people I intimidated with my anger. But to my surprise and shock, he spoke to me like no one had spoken to me before.
" 'You can go around blaming everyone else,' he said to me. 'But it's your own responsibility to make yourself happy in life. The more you blame others, the less you will do anything to change your pattern of thinking. It's your own pattern of thinking that's destroying your life. Stop it! Stop ruining your life! There's a lot of good in your life that you can be grateful for. Notice it and you will live a joyful life. Continue to willfully blind yourself, and you will be a miserable human being. It's up to you. I can try to help you develop a pattern of gratitude. But only you can do it for yourself. If you keep avoiding seeing what you can be grateful for, that's your decision, and that is what you will keep seeing: Nothing to be grateful for. But if right this moment you fully commit yourself to being a master at noticing what you can be grateful for, you will find things each and every day. Stop acting like an imbecile and start thinking like an intelligent human being.' This was said with such intensity that I was left speechless. "
Torah Portion of the Week
Naso, Numbers 4:21 - 7:89
This week's portion includes further job instructions to the Levites, Moshe is instructed to purify the camp in preparation for the dedication of the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary.
Then four laws relating to the Cohanim are given: 1) restitution for stolen property where the owner is deceased and has no next of kin -- goes to the Cohanim 2) If a man suspects his wife of being unfaithful, he brings her to the Cohanim for the Sotah clarification ceremony 3) If a person chooses to withdraw from the material world and consecrate himself exclusively to the service of the Almighty by becoming a Nazir (vowing not to drink wine or eat grape products, come in contact with dead bodies or cut his hair), he must come to the Cohen at the completion of the vow 4) the Cohanim were instructed to bless the people with this blessing: "May the Lord bless you and guard over you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His Countenance upon you and give you peace."
The Mishkan is erected and dedicated on the first of Nissan in the second year after the Exodus. The leaders of each tribe jointly give wagons and oxen to transport the Mishkan. During each of the twelve days of dedication, successively each tribal prince gives gifts of gold and silver vessels, sacrificial animals and meal offerings. Every prince gives exactly the same gifts as every other prince.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states regarding a nazir (the person who takes a vow to abstain from wine):
"For the crown of the Almighty is on his head"(Numbers 6:7).
The Ibn Ezra writes, "The term nazir comes from the Hebrew word meaning crown. You should know that almost all people are slaves to the pleasures of the world. The only person who is truly a king and has the royal crown on his head is someone who is free from desires."
People who are addicted to pleasures might mistakenly view themselves as fortunate that they have so much pleasure. The truth is that they are enslaved by those pleasures When they don't have them, they feel the suffering of deprivation. Their thoughts are fixated on what they can do to obtain their desires. They spend more time worrying about how they can obtain pleasures than actually enjoying themselves. Seeking pleasure is an illusory goal. A pleasure-seeker will never be fulfilled.
Happiness is a much more sensible goal than pleasure, and the way to acquire happiness is by being in control of one's desires. When you derive pleasure from self-discipline, your situation is reversed. You will be free from worrying about obtaining desires and you will constantly experience the pleasure of being the ruler over yourself!
Every time you experience self-discipline, view yourself as a king. You are obtaining mastery over yourself. The pleasure you have from self-discipline will enable you to rule over your desires.
CANDLE LIGHTING - May 17
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Guatemala 6:05 - Hong Kong 6:38 - Honolulu 6:45
J'Burg 5:10 - London 8:29 - Los Angeles 7:31
Melbourne 5:00 - Mexico City 7:47 - Miami 7:43
New York 7:49 - Singapore 6:48 - Toronto 8:19
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Success is not the key to happiness.
Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing,
you will be successful
-- Albert Schweitzer
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
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