GOOD MORNING! When I lived in Israel I once parked my car in the Ramat Eshkol shopping center parking lot. I returned to my car to find the right side scraped from end to end. However, there under the windshield wiper was a note! Ecstatic that the driver had not just driven off, I opened it to read, "I was standing on the sidewalk when a lady in a blue Renault, license plate #123-456 side-swiped your car and drove off. I am willing to testify to the police or in court." It was signed and had a phone number.
From the police I obtained the lady's name and address. I knocked on her door and when she answered I told her who I was and why I was there. She responded, "Well, it wasn't me who hit your car!" I asked her if there were any other female drivers in her household. She replied, "No." I then told her that she should know that my next stop is to file a report with the police and that at very minimum she will lose her license with the possibility of a large fine and a jail sentence.
At this point, the lady goes berserk! "It's so unfair! It's just not fair at all! Last month someone side-swiped my car and didn't leave me a note. Why should I leave you a note?" She continued her tirade concluding that she shouldn't have to pay because it was all my fault because I parked too close to the white line!
I filed the police report and had the car fixed. Over the next two weeks she yelled and screamed, threatened and pressured me to cancel the police report. Finally, she agreed to pay me. We met at the police station and she handed me an envelope with the cash (do you think I'd trust a "lady" like this with a check?). I counted the money and then told her, "There's a mistake."
Like a rocket blasting off came the barrage! "I know your type. You've got me over a barrel and now you want to extort more money! Who do you think you are? I am not going to pay..." After a minute or two she finally stopped the torrent of invectives. I then softly replied, "No, you gave me 100 shekels too much" and handed her a 100 shekel note. She grabbed it and huffed off.
Everything that happens to us happens for a reason and has meaning. There is a message in it for us to grow, to perfect ourselves, to come closer to the Almighty. It was clear to me why the man left the note under the windshield wiper; two weeks before I was riding a bus when the driver side-swiped a car and drove on. I got off at the next stop and left an almost identical note under the windshield wiper.
But why the subjugation to the onslaught of verbal abuse, the insanity of the woman, the frustration of her obstinacy? For years I have thought about it. The best I can come up with is that it was part of what I needed to prepare me to be a rabbi and to deal with people. It taught me patience with frustrating people.
And now my beloved friend, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, has just published his 13th or 14th book ... entitled Patience! I think to myself ... had I read this book and internalized it, maybe I would not have had to have gone through the experience!
It is an amazing, easy-to-read book of 216 pages in 91 mini-chapters examining patience from every angle. It presents effective formulas, interesting stories and insights to deal with the vicissitudes of life ... and all for under $10. Writes Rabbi Pliskin, "Why be patient? Observing the life of an impatient person provides the obvious answer. The impatient person himself suffers and he cause distress to others. An impatient person is restless or short-tempered, especially when faced with delay or opposition. Impatience creates anxiety and irritation. Others feel uncomfortable around those who are impatient. The haste of the impatient causes avoidable mistakes and errors. An impatient person will say and do many things that are counterproductive."
"Patience is one key to a magnificent life. It is the foundation for reaching goals. With it, one can learn, accomplish, develop one's character, and interact harmoniously with other people. The more we increase our patience, the more we benefit." For inner calm and persistence, read and re-read Patience. (It is available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242.) Patiently wait till next week for some tips!
Portion of the Week
Behar begins with the laws of Shemitah, the Sabbatical year, where the Jewish people are commanded not to plant their fields or tend to them in the seventh year. Every 50th year is the Yovel, the Jubilee year, where agricultural activity is also proscribed.
These two commandments fall into one of the seven categories of evidence that God gave the Torah. If the idea is to give the land a rest, then do not plant one-seventh of the land each year. To command an agrarian society to completely stop cultivating every 7th year one has to be either God or a meshugenah (crazy).
Also included in this portion: redeeming land which was sold, to strengthen your fellow Jew when his economic means are faltering, not to lend to your fellow Jew with interest, the laws of indentured servants. The portion ends with the admonition to not make idols, to observe the Shabbat and to revere the Sanctuary.
The second portion for this week, Bechukotai, begins with the multitude of blessings you will receive for keeping the commandments of the Torah. (Truly worth reading!) It also contains the Tochachah, words of admonition, "If you will not listen to Me and will not perform all of these commandments..." There are seven series of seven punishments each. Understand that God does not punish for punishment's sake; He wants to get our attention so that we will introspect, recognize our errors and correct our ways. God does not wish to destroy us or annul His covenant with us. He wants us to know that there are consequences for our every action; He also wants to get our attention so that we do not stray so far away that we assimilate and disappear as a nation. I highly recommend reading Lev. 26:14-45 and Deut. 28.
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states regarding a person who wishes to give the value of his house to the Temple (the one that was and will be on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem), "A person who sanctifies his house, the Cohen shall evaluate it..." (Leviticus 27:14). The Kotzker Rebbe tangently comments that when a person is involved in spiritual matters, it is relatively easy for him to do so in a sanctified setting. However, true holiness is when a person sanctifies the seemingly mundane activities in his household. When one behaves in an elevated manner in his own home, he is truly a holy person.
Torah ideals and principles are not only for when one is in a Yeshiva or Synagogue; they are for all areas of our lives. With strangers or in a public setting it is often easier to be patient or behave properly. Therefore, one should focus that his first priority should be treating the family properly. The more sanctified your behavior at home, the greater you become!
CANDLE LIGHTING - May 18:
(or go to candlelighting.org)
Guatemala 6:06 Hong Kong 6:38 Honolulu 6:45
J'Burg 5:06 London 8:32 Los Angeles 7:32
Melbourne 5:00 Miami 7:43 Moscow 8:21
New York 7:51 Singapore 6:48
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Adversity not only builds character,
it reveals character!
Dedicated by...With Special Thanks to
Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Green
of Anchorage, Alaska
for dedicating this edition