GOOD MORNING! My son came running into my home office late one night. "Come quickly! There is something wrong with the stove." I ran into the kitchen and all 4 burners were clicking like they wanted to ignite, the stove was extremely hot to the touch and ... the knobs had all melted! I pried the stove away from the wall, turned off the gas and unplugged the electricity. My wife had put it in self-cleaning mode and something evidently had gone wrong.
The next day the repairman informed me that the stove was defective and though repairable, he would advise never using the self-cleaning function again. I immediately called Sears where I have always purchased my appliances. "No longer under warranty and probably defective? Call Kenmore, the maker of the stove" they said. Kenmore informed me that they are "just a brand name" and that my stove was manufactured by Frigidaire. Frigidaire directed me to Electrolux who had bought them out the previous year. And Electrolux told me to call Husqvarna who had recently bought them. Husqvarna? They're the Swedish company that makes chain saws! And what was Husqvarna's response? "Why are you calling us? You bought it at Sears!"
All of us have frustrations in life. The question is how do we deal with them? Do you get angry? Depressed? A nervous wreck? How are we supposed to keep life's events from ruining our days?
If you don't define the moment, the moment will define you. Life is filled with frustration, difficulties, pain; however, suffering is optional. We all have control over our emotions, if we focus on the moment and don't just flow with our emotions. If someone accidentally spills coffee on you, you may initially feel anger. However, if it is your boss or that special someone you wanted to meet, it is amazing how fast you can control your anger!
From a Torah perspective, there is meaning in everything that happens in life. The Almighty has gifted every human being with a body and a soul. It is upon us to develop our souls by acting righteously. Life is an opportunity for us to control our basic animalistic instincts and instead to work on perfecting our behavior and perfecting the world. Just knowing and integrating this concept into your consciousness can dramatically change how you perceive and react to the vicissitudes of life.
If you come back to the parking lot and find that someone has dented the side of your car, the initial tendency is to get angry: "How could a person do that and not leave a note? My car is damaged! Now I have to spend the time and money to get it fixed!"
If one lives life understanding that everything that happens has meaning and a lesson for you, he would have all of the initial responses, but then ask: Why did this happen? What's the meaning in this event? The answer may be as mundane as "I should have parked in a manner that gave the other guy more room to get out." Or, the answer may also be, "Who have I damaged and not owned up to my responsibility?" One way the Almighty deals with us is measure for measure -- as we do, so we reap.
There are consequences for our actions both in this world and the next. One receives reward for good deeds and punishment for one's transgressions -- unless one seeks to do teshuva, repentance. Even Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, does not always atone for all transgressions. In addition to regretting one's transgression, making restitution, asking forgiveness, making a plan to avoid the transgression in the future and asking the Almighty for forgiveness ... some transgressions require physical affliction as part of the atonement. Better a dent in the side of a car than sickness or injury to us or one of our children!
Part of our distress when we take a financial loss is that it is unexpected. Life is what happens while you're making other plans... we actually expect NOT to have financial losses. If one mentally sets aside a sum of money for repairs that need to be done again, for replacing items that stop working, for someone cheating you, then when something happens it won't be such a shock. I think of this as my "Mental Rip Off Fund."
Oh, and if you're wondering what I did about the stove... I decided that life is too precious to spend the time pursuing recompense. So, I bought a new stove ... at Brandsmart.
Shelach, Numbers 13:1 - 15:41
The Jewish people received the Torah on Mt. Sinai and were ready to enter the land of Israel. There was a consensus of opinion amongst the people that we should send spies to see if it was feasible to conquer the Land. Moshe knew that the Almighty's promise to give the Land included a guarantee to conquer it. However, one of the principles of life which we learn from this portion is: the Almighty allows each of us the free will to go in the direction we choose. Even though one man and the Almighty is a majority, Moshe -- by Divine decree -- sent out the princes of the tribes (men of the highest caliber) to spy out the land.
Twelve spies were sent. Ten came back with a report of strong fortifications and giants; they rallied the people against going up to the Land. Joshua ben Nun and Calev ben Yefunah (Moshe's brother-in-law) tried to stem the rebellion, but did not succeed. The Almighty decreed 40 years of wandering in the desert, one year for each day they spied in the land of Israel. This happened on the 9th of Av, a date noted throughout Jewish history for tragedy -- the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain amongst them.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And Moshe called Hoshea, the son of Nun, Yehoshua" (Numbers 13:16).
What did Moshe hope to accomplish by changing his name? What can we learn from it?
Rashi tells us that Moshe called him Yehoshua because Moshe prayed that the Almighty should save him from the plans of his fellow spies. Targum Yonuson (an Aramaic commentary on the Torah) comments on this verse that Moshe called him Yehoshua when Moshe saw Hoshea's humility.
Rabbi Avraham Mordechai of Gur explained that the nature of a person with humility is not to be stubborn about his own opinions and wishes. He is compliant and will easily give in to the opinions and wishes of others. The other spies were all very distinguished and important men. Moshe feared that Yehoshua might concede to their opinions and be swayed by them even though he felt differently. Therefore, Moshe especially prayed for Yehoshua not to be negatively influenced by the others.
When a question of Torah ideals is involved, one must not budge. That is when it is appropriate to resist. When dealing with basic principles, remain steadfast and do not allow others to sway you. One needs wisdom to know the difference between situations when it is proper to give in to others and when it is not. For this we need the Almighty's assistance.
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-- Bertrand Russell
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
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