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Shmini(Leviticus 9-11)

Shmini 5761

GOOD MORNING!  Recently, I received a request to include a piece that I ran 4 years ago. After all of the heavy editions about Pesach, I thought that this would be an upbeat change of pace. For those who remember it or have already received it 100 times from friends via the internet, my apologies.


ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
by Francie Baltazar-Schwartz

Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"

He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?" Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, 'Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose to point out the positive side of life."

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested. "Yes it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life."

I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it. Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers.

While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. I saw Jerry about six months after the robbery. When I asked him how he was, he replied "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked. Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked. "Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything." "Yes," I replied.

The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply ... I took a deep breath and yelled, Bullets! " Over their laughter, I told them, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead."

Jerry lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.


Torah Portion of the Week
Shmini

Concluding the 7 days of inauguration for the Mishkan (Portable Sanctuary), Aaron, the High Priest, brings sacrifices for himself and the entire nation. Nadav and Avihu, sons of Aaron, bring an incense offering on their own initiative, and are consumed by a heavenly fire (perhaps the only time when someone did something wrong and was immediately hit by "lightning").

The Cohanim are commanded not to serve while intoxicated. The inaugural service is completed. God then specifies the species which are kosher to eat: mammals (those that have cloven hoofs and chew their cud), fish (those with fins and scales), birds (certain non-predators), and insects ( certain species of locusts). The portion concludes with the laws of spiritual defilement from contact with the carcasses of certain animals.

 

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

When Aharon's two sons died, the Torah reports his reaction: "And Aharon was silent" (Leviticus 10:3). How is it possible that Aharon was silent? What was going through his mind?

Rabbi Moshe HaCohen Rice writes in Ohr HaMussar: Aharon was greatly praised for remaining silent -- for not complaining against the Almighty and for accepting the will of the Almighty. Why? Before something happens one might be able to take action to prevent it. However, afterwards, what can one do? He can fight it or he can accept it as the will of the Almighty. Was his acceptance of the Almighty's will exceptional or unique?

The Sages constantly worked on accepting the will of the Almighty. Rabbi Akiva always used to say when something apparently negative happened, "All that the Almighty does is for the good." Nochum, Ish Gam Zu, used to say, "This, too, is for the good" ("ish gam zu" means "the man who has integrated into his being the idea regarding whatever happens to that 'this, too, is for the good.' ")

However, when a person says, "All that the Almighty does is for the good" about something that originally disturbed or frustrated him, it implies that at first he was bothered by what happened. As soon as he realizes that the matter bothers him, he uses his intellect to overcome his negative reaction. Intellectually, he knows that all that the Almighty causes to occur is ultimately for the good and this knowledge enables him to accept the situation.

An even higher level is to internalize the concept that whatever the Almighty does is positive and good. When this is a person's automatic evaluation of every occurrence, he does not have to keep convincing himself that a specific event is good. Such a person accepts with joy everything that occurs in his life.

This was the greatness of Aharon. He remained silent because he knew clearly that everything the Almighty does is purposeful. When things consistently go well for a person, he feels an inner-joy. Acceptance of the Almighty's will is the most crucial attitude to make part of oneself for living a happy life. The more you learn to accept the will of the Almighty, the greater joy you will experience in your life!



CANDLE LIGHTING - April 20:
(or go to candlelighting.org)

Jerusalem  6:33
Guatemala 5:59  Hong Kong 6:26  Honolulu 6:34
J'Burg 5:29  London 7:46  Los Angeles 7:10
Melbourne 5:30  Miami 7:25  Moscow 7:26
New York 7:22  Singapore  6:49



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

If it doesn't go the way you want,
then want the way it goes.



Dedicated by...

With Special Thanks to
Eli & Dorothy Sussman
for dedicating this edition

Published: April 15, 2001

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