Shabbat Shalom Weekly: Ekev 5760
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Ekev(Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)

Ekev 5760

GOOD MORNING!  I hope you are enjoying a spectacular week. Perhaps the following will help!


Q & A: WHAT IS THE SECRET OF HAPPINESS?

Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, a 2,000 year old compilation of Jewish Wisdom found in the back of many prayer books, has tremendous insights into life. Rabbi Noah Weinberg, founder and head of Aish HaTorah, has created a personal self-development course, The 48 Ways to Wisdom, which I think of as "The Jewish Dale Carnegie Course" -- a synthesis of Jewish Wisdom on how to get the most out of life and be the best possible YOU. It is a 25 tape series available from your local Jewish bookstore or by calling (800) 864-2373. In the 6th chapter, the 6th section, it states that one of the 48 Ways to acquire wisdom is through happiness. Following are some of the insights that I have learned from Rabbi Weinberg:

  • Happiness is the pleasure you have in appreciating what you have; it is looking at the glass as half full. It says in Pirke Avot, "Who is the rich man? He who is happy with his portion." There used to be a common motivational sign during the Depression hanging in businesses in the United States: "I was sad that I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet." We can be happy with what we have!

  • Happiness is not dependent upon material acquisition. There are plenty of people who have what you desire and they are not happy. There are plenty of people with less who are happy.

  • Many people think that Happiness is a happening: "If only such and such happened, I would be happy." Happiness is not a happening. It is a state of mind, a state of being. The Sages say, "He who has one hundred wants two hundred" and "A person does not die with half of his desires fulfilled." One has to work on his focus in order to be happy.

  • According to the Torah, Happiness is an obligation --to those around you as well as to yourself. Just like you wouldn't want an unhappy parent, child or spouse, don't be one yourself. Deuteronomy 28:47 tells us that it is also an obligation to the Almighty -- even if one serves the Almighty, but does not serve with gladness of heart, he is culpable for not acting with joy. God doesn't want us to make ourselves into neurotics!

  • Happiness takes work. If you want to be happy, then for thirty days play the Happiness Game. Make a list of all your blessings, both physical and spiritual. Then add one a day for thirty days. At the end of thirty days, prioritize them according to their value to you. (Do you value your eyes or your ears more? Your job or your legs?) Whenever something happens or you feel sad, review your list.

  • If you don't appreciate what you have, there is no purpose to acquiring anything else. You won't enjoy it either.

  • On a higher spiritual level, if we appreciate that the Almighty loves us, then we can appreciate that all that we have is for our good -- to help us to develop our character, our trust in God and our spiritual qualities. If we have this love of God and this trust in God, it helps us to appreciate what we have.

  • Why do we need happiness? It gives us energy and power for living. Happy people are healthier, feel better and can accomplish more. Appreciating what you have helps to keep you optimistic towards the future which helps you to succeed and to enjoy life!


Torah Portion of the Week
Ekev

Moshe continues his soliloquy guaranteeing the Jewish people prosperity and good health if they follow the mitzvot, the commandments. He reminds us to look at our history and to know that we can and should trust in God. However, we should be careful so that we are not distracted by our material success lest that we forget and ignore God.

Moshe warns us against idolatry (the definition of idolatry is the belief that anything other than God has power) and against self-righteousness ("Do not say because of my virtue that God brought me to occupy this land ... but because of the wickedness of these nations that God is driving them out before you.") He then details our rebellions against God during the 40 years in the desert and the giving of the Second Tablets (Moshe broke the first Tablets containing the Ten Commandments after the sin of the Golden Calf.)

This week's portion dispels a common misconception. People think that "Man does not live by bread alone" means that a person needs additional foods beyond bread to survive. The quotation in its entirety is, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by all that comes out of God's mouth."

The Torah then answers a question which every human being has asked of himself, "What does God want of you? Only that you remain in awe of God your Lord, so that you will follow all His paths and love Him, serving God your Lord with all your heart and with all your soul. You must keep God's commandments and decrees ... so that all good will be yours."

 

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Before entering the land of Israel at the end of 40 years wandering in the desert, Moses speaks to assuage the fear in the heart of the people, "If you will say in your heart, these nations are more numerous than we, how can we conquer them? Do not fear them, remember what the Almighty, your God, did to Pharaoh and all of Egypt." (Deuteronomy 7:17-18) How will this lessen their worry?

Worry is being afraid that in a future situation you will not be able to cope. (It is also interest paid in advance on a debt which often times never comes due.) Remembering how the Almighty has helped you in similar situations in the past makes it easier to trust in Him in the present. Thus, Moses had the Jewish people focus on how the Almighty dealt with the Egyptians. Likewise, whenever you find yourself worrying about the future, ask yourself, "When has the Almighty already shown me that He can help me overcome a difficulty similar to this?" It will increase your calm and your trust in God.



CANDLE LIGHTING - August 18:

Jerusalem 6:44   Miami 7:42  New York 7:33
L.A. 7:19  Hong Kong 6:33  Singapore 6:55
Guatemala  6:05  Honolulu   6:41  J'Burg 5:17
Melbourne 5:17  Moscow 8:12  London 7:58
Atlanta 8:04  Toronto 8:00  Montreal 7:41



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

Worry doesn't help the future,
but it sure ruins the present!



Dedicated by...

In Honor of
Selma Rappaport

Published: August 12, 2000

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