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GOOD MORNING! When I first started learning in yeshiva in 1973 at the age of 23 there were very few books available for a Jew from a secular background who wanted to learn about his Torah background. One of the most prolific authors dealing with Jewish history, questions of science and Torah, personal growth - amongst other topics - was Rabbi Avigdor Miller, of blessed memory. His books had a profound impact on my life. He wrote "Rejoice O Youth!" (1962), "Torah Nation," "Behold a People," "Sing, You Righteous," "Awake My Glory," "Praise My Soul," amongst others (available at your local Jewish bookstore, at http://www.judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242). There are also over 2,000 cassettes of lectures he gave over the years.
Recently, I came across the following TEN STEPS TO GREATNESS by Rabbi Miller which I thought you might find instructive. Rabbi Miller was a Torah giant, wise in Torah and secular knowledge.
STEP ONE: Spend at least 30 seconds each day thinking about the WORLD TO COME - Olam Haba - and that we are in this world only as a preparation for the World to Come. This is the purpose of life.
STEP TWO: Spend a few seconds each day in a private place and say to the Almighty, "I love you, God." You will be fulfilling a positive commandment from the Torah. This will kindle a fire in your heart and will have a powerful effect on your character. Your exteriority bestirs your interiority. The Almighty is listening. He loves you much more than you love Him.
STEP THREE: Every day do one act of kindness that no one knows about, in secrecy. Have intention beforehand that you are doing this in order to fulfill your program to greatness.
The practice of doing acts of kindliness - Gemilut Hasadim - is one of the three most important functions in the world.
Examples: If your wife is not in the kitchen, clean a few dishes or straighten up for her without her knowing. If you should see something potentially dangerous on the sidewalk, clear it off to the side so no one will get hurt.
STEP FOUR: Encourage someone every day. "The Almighty encourages the humble." Have in mind you are doing it because of the program. Anonymous letters of kindness can do a great deal of good to encourage people.
STEP FIVE: Spend one minute a day thinking about what happened yesterday. "Let us search out our ways and investigate." Everyone should have his mind on what he is doing - by reviewing yesterday's actions daily.
STEP SIX: Make all your actions for the purpose of Heaven. Say it once a day.
Example: "I am doing this in order to be more aware of the Almighty."
STEP SEVEN: Be aware of the principle - "Man was created in the image of God." Every human face is a reflection of the Almighty. Your face is like a screen and your soul like a projector which projects on your face the glory of the human soul which has in it the greatness of the Almighty. Once a day pick a face and think "I am seeing the image of God." You will begin to understand the endless nobility of a face.
STEP EIGHT: Once a day give a person a full smile. Just as the Almighty shines on us, we should smile on others. Smile because the Almighty wants you to, even though you really don't want to.
When you smile have intentions that you are doing it for the purpose of coming closer to the Almighty through the Ten Steps To Greatness.
STEP NINE: "The Almighty clothes the naked." Clothing is a testament to the nobility of man. Man is unique - has free will, has a soul, made in the image of the Almighty. Even Angels are beneath man in greatness. To demonstrate the superiority of mankind, we must be clothed. Spend 30 seconds in the morning thinking about our garments: what a gift they are from the Almighty.
STEP TEN: Spend time each day thinking about the olden Jerusalem during the time of the Temple. Every day sit on the floor (before going to sleep), spend one second on the floor and mourn for the destruction of Jerusalem. Think "If I should forget you Jerusalem, let my right arm forget how to function" (Psalms 137:5).
"The wise man seizes the opportunity to do Mitzvot" (King Solomon). The lazy person says - someday I'll do it. If you start this program, after 30 days you will be tired. So, wait six months until you start again. Do another 30 days then wait five months and so on. After a while you might do it all the time. If you do it even one day you are extraordinary!
For more on "Greatness" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
This week's portion sets forth the standards of purity and perfection for a Cohen; specifies the physical requirements of sacrifices and what is to be done with blemished offerings; proclaims as holidays the Shabbat, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
It reminds the Jewish people to provide pure olive oil for the Menorah and designates the details of the Showbread (two stacks of 6 loaves each which were placed on the table in the portable sanctuary and later in the Temple once a week upon Shabbat).
The portion ends with the interesting story of a man who blasphemed God's name with a curse. What should be the penalty for this transgression? Curious? Leviticus 24:14.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And you shall observe my commandments and do them, I am the Almighty. And you shall not desecrate my Holy Name and I will be sanctified among the Children of Israel, I am the Almighty who sanctifies you." (Leviticus 22:31-32)
What connection is there between the two verses?
The Chasam Sofer comments that verse 31 is an introduction to verse 32. Rashi states that "you shall observe my commandments" refers to studying Torah since the only way to have the knowledge to observe the commandments is through studying them first. Therefore, the Torah immediately warns those who study Torah against chilul HaShem, desecration of the Almighty's name; it obliges those who study Torah to make a kidush HaShem, a sanctification of the Almighty's name. The behavior of anyone who studies Torah should be on such a level that it will be an expression of the sanctity of the Almighty. People who observe those who study Torah should be able to say that the Torah gives those who study it much wisdom and promotes excellence in their daily behavior.
Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz used to stress, "Everyone who studies Torah must excel in his love for other people, in showing honor and respect to other people, and in the pleasant manner with which he should always speak to others. His elevated behavior should be on such a level that everyone will say about him, 'How fortunate is his father who taught him Torah. How fortunate is his teacher who taught him Torah. How unfortunate are those who have not studied Torah. This person who has studied Torah, see how pleasant are his ways.' "
This statement of Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz should be repeated over and over again. Based on the Talmudic statement in the Bavli Talmud, Yoma 86a, it stresses three points: (1) love for other people, (2) honor and respect for others, and (3) a pleasant manner of speaking. Not everyone can appreciate the genius of deep Torah thoughts. However, everyone does appreciate being spoken to with kindness and respect.
CANDLE LIGHTING - May 12:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 6:04 Hong Kong 6:35 Honolulu 6:42
J'Burg 5:12 London 8:22 Los Angeles 7:27
Melbourne 5:04 Mexico City 6:44 Miami 7:40
New York 7:45 Singapore 6:49 Toronto 8:14
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
If you keep doing what you're doing,
you'll keep getting what you're getting.
In Loving Memory of