GOOD MORNING! The Sages tell us that we should view our actions as if the scales are evenly balanced and whether we decide to do a Mitzvah or an Aveira (transgression) will tip the scales for all of humanity. Certainly, the message of the Sages is reinforced by the Presidential election last week. Millions of votes and it comes down to a few hundred individuals. It will be an interesting side-bar if the next president of the United States is determined by the absentee votes of ... American Jews living in Israel.
Life is often challenging. Decisions need to be made, action needs to be taken. Situations can be confusing and consequences can be frightful. We need courage to make decisions and Divine Help to make the right decision. Courage is often defined as being scared out of your wits but taking action anyway -- to transcend one's fears. It enables people to speak and take action even when it is difficult. Lack of courage is one of the greatest handicaps a person can have.
My beloved friend, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, has recently come out with a new book aptly titled Courage. Using his vibrant creativity, he has created a life-enhancing guidebook which supplies one with the powerful formulas, enlightening insights and effective tools to conquer fears -- to overcome limitations, to ask and request, to begin again, to cope with adversity. 71 short and to-the-point chapters comprehensively cover the range of fears and range of techniques to conquer them.
I think that one of the most important axioms in life is: "Whether you think you can or you think you can't -- you're right," I am going to excerpt Chapter 17 "Visualizing Courage."
- "Visualize courage. Your magnificent brain can draw mental pictures of how you would like to speak and act. The more times you replay these pictures, the easier it will be for you to follow through in reality. Utilize this gift from the Creator to increase your level of courage.
- "Think of ways that you would like to speak and act that you presently find difficult to do. Make mental pictures of yourself speaking and acting with joyous empowerment. Do not be concerned whether your mental pictures are clear or dim. Even if you don't actually see a clear picture, this powerful tool will work for you.
- "You may wish to start with something that is only slightly difficult for you. Then when you visualize this enough times, you will be able to upgrade the difficulty of the situations. After a while, you will be able to visualize situations that previously seemed impossible for you.
- "You may prefer to begin with the most difficult situations. After visualizing the seemingly impossible, less stressful situations will be relatively easier.
- "Visualize yourself maintaining both self-respect and respect for the person with whom you are speaking. Know your goal. Say what would be helpful to achieve that goal in a way that is sensitive to the individuality of the recipient of your message. For example, if you feel that someone is trying to overcharge you, do not visualize yourself screaming and berating that person. Rather, see yourself saying, 'I'm sure you agree that it's important to be fair. Let's make our transaction in a way that is fair to both of us.'
- "Visualize yourself following through on specific actions that manifest courage. In the mental theater of your brain, picture yourself being able to do the most courageous things that a human being could possibly do."
Reb Zelig's book is available from your local Jewish book store or by call toll-free 877-758-3242.
Portion of the Week
Avraham, on the third day after his brit mila, sits outside his tent looking for guests to extend his hospitality. While talking with the Almighty, he sees three visitors (actually angels of the Almighty). Avraham interrupts his conversation with the Almighty to invite them to a meal. One angel informs him that in a year's time, Sarah, his wife, will give birth to a son, Yitzhak (Isaac).
God tells Avraham that He is going to destroy Sodom because of its absolute evil (the city is the source of the word sodomy). Avraham argues with God to spare Sodom if there can be found ten righteous people in Sodom. Avraham loses for the lack of a quorum. Lot (Avraham's nephew) escapes the destruction with his two daughters.
Other incidents: Avimelech, King of the Philistines, wants to marry Sarah (Avraham's wife), the birth of Yitzhak, the eviction of Hagar (Avraham's concubine) and Ishmael. Avimelech and Avraham make a treaty at Beersheva. Avraham is commanded to take up his son, Isaac, to sacrifice him (Akeidat Yitzhak). Lastly, the announcement of the birth of Rivka (Rebecca), the future wife of Yitzhak.
Want to know the reward for listening to the command of the Almighty? This is what the Almighty told Avraham: "... I shall surely bless you and greatly increase your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore; and your offspring shall inherit the gate of its enemy. And all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your offspring, because you have listened to My voice."
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Avraham travels to Philistia, and introduces Sarah as his sister. So, Avimelech, the King, abducts Sarah with intention to marry her. The Almighty comes to Avimelech in a dream and tells him that Sarah is a married woman and that he will die if he marries her. Avimelech returns her to Avraham and demands an explanation for claiming to be Sarah's brother. The Torah states, "And Avraham said, 'Because I said there is no fear of God in this place, and they will slay me on account of my wife" (Genesis 20:11).
The Malbim, a famous rabbi, elucidates that Avraham told Avimelech that individuals or nations might appear to be great philosophers and humanitarians; they might even have proper manners and good character traits. However, as long as their morality is based on their own logic, we can never be certain that when their desire to do evil is strong, their logic will be able to overcome that desire.
There is only one restraint that we can rely upon to prevent a person from committing a crime: fear of God. When a person has an overpowering desire to do something wrong, but realizes that God is aware of every hidden act, he will be ashamed to commit the offense. Avraham, therefore, said in effect: "Even if you are righteous, since you lack fear of God, I fear that you will murder me to take my wife."
It is interesting to note that the Philistines were not without moral scruples. They would not marry another man's wife. However, they had no problem in murdering the man in order to make his wife free to be married. Such is the power of "ethics" when left to the desires and logic of society.
CANDLE LIGHTING - November 17:
Chicago 4:09 Dallas 5:06 Guatemala 5:12
Hong Kong 5:24 Honolulu 5:33 J'Burg 6:17
London 3:51 Los Angeles 4:34 Melbourne 7:53
Miami 5:16 Montreal 4:03 Moscow 4:02
New York 4:24 Singapore 6:34 Toronto 4:32
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Life is 10% what happens to you
and 90% your attitude.
Dedicated by...Oscar & Rosita Boruchin