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GOOD MORNING! Sukkot is the holiday of joy. One way to bring more joy into your life and into the world is through personal relationships. Speech is a way of drawing people close or pushing them away. That is why the Torah places so much emphasis on the Laws of Loshon Hora - the laws guiding speech.
It is interesting to note that a large percentage of the Al Chaits - the transgressions listed in the Yom Kippur prayer book for which we ask forgiveness - deal with speech. Gossip can ruin lives, assassinate reputations, split families, alienate friends and destroy businesses.
Two excellent books to help us control our speech are Guard Your Tongue by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin and GOSSIP: Ten Pathways To Eliminate It From Your Life And Transform Your Soul by Lori Palatnik with Bob Burg (Simcha Press). The book tells you how to expunge gossip from your lives in order to live in a gossip-free environment. It's available in major bookstores!
Would you like your words to soothe instead of sting? Heal instead of hurt? And build instead of burn? Here are the:
TEN PATHWAYS TO ELIMINATE GOSSIP
(1) Speak No Evil. Say only positive statements. Let words of kindness be on your tongue. This means to respond instead of react. Edit your speech before you speak.
(2) Hear No Evil. Refuse to listen to gossip, slander and other negative forms of speech. If you're on a diet, don't bring the cake and cookies into the house. If you're ending gossip, try and keep away from conversations that may tempt you to listen or chime in. If avoiding the conversation is impossible, have another topic of "positive" interest you can quickly bring up in order to change the subject.
(3) Don't Rationalize Destructive Speech. Excuses like "But it's true" or "I'm only joking" or "I can tell my spouse anything" just don't cut it. Gossip is gossip. The fact that it is true is what qualifies it as gossip. If it were not true, it would be libel or slander, depending upon the medium.
(4) See No Evil. Judge people favorably, the way you would want them to judge you. If you've ever been accused of doing something for which you know you were innocent, then you know how it feels to be misjudged. Remember, if you weren't there, you don't know. Even if you were there, you may have missed the context of what actually happened.
(5) Beware of Speaking Evil Without Saying An Evil Word. Body language, and even positive speech can bring tremendous destruction.
(6) Be Humble. Avoid Arrogance. These will be your greatest weapons against destructive speech. Take pleasure in your accomplishments, not pride. This way you recognize the Ultimate Source of your accomplishments. Those who are arrogant are so full of themselves, that there is no room for God in their lives.
(7) Beware Of Repeating Information. Even positive information needs permission before being repeated. Telling someone who's out of a job that your mutual friend got a raise, does not constitute proper speech.
(8) Honesty Really Is The Best Policy - Most of the Time. Be careful to always tell the truth unless it will hurt others, break your own privacy or publicize your accomplishments. Strive for honesty in everything you do. If it's between honesty and unnecessarily hurting another's feelings, it's better not to be so truthful. Those who boast about being "brutally honest" are usually more brutal than honest.
(9) Learn to Say, "I'm Sorry." Everyone makes mistakes. If you've spoken badly about someone, clear it up immediately. It might be embarrassing, but get it over with quickly. Apologize, ask for forgiveness, and let him or her know it won't happen again.
(10) Forgive. If you have been wronged, let it go. Forgive for your sake, if not for theirs. Those who can forgive live healthier, happier, and less stressful lives. Those who say they'll forgive but not forget are actually saying that they'll neither forgive nor forget.
Q & A: WHAT IS THE ESSENCE OF
SHEMINI ATZERET AND SIMCHAT TORAH?
Friday evening, October 13th, begins Sheminei Atzeret which is actually a separate festival adjacent to Sukkot. Rashi, the great Biblical commentator, explains that atzeret is an expression of affection, as would be used by a father to children who are departing from him. The father would say, "Your departure is difficult for me, tarry yet another day." After the Jewish people prayed for the life and happiness of the 70 nations of the world, the Torah and the Almighty keeps us one more day for a special holiday to make requests just for ourselves.
Yizkor, the memorial service for parents and relatives - and Jews who have been killed because they were Jewish or in defending the Jewish people and Israel - is Shabbat morning, October 14th.
Saturday evening begins Simchat Torah, the celebration of completing the yearly cycle of Torah reading and beginning it again. The evening and again the next morning are filled with dance and songs rejoicing in the Torah and thanking God for our being Jewish and that the Almighty gave us the Torah! We read the last Torah portion in Deuteronomy, V'zot Habracha and then begin immediately with Bereishis, starting the book of Genesis. If you take your kids to synagogue twice a year - one time should be Simchat Torah!
For more on "Controlling Speech" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
This Shabbat we read a Special Torah Reading for Sukkot (which is also read on the second day of Sukkot), Leviticus 22:26 - 23:44 which begins with laws pertaining to the Temple offerings, korbonot. It then gives an overview of the Jewish moadim, appointed festivals: Shabbat, Pesach and the Omer offering of barley on the second day of Pesach, the counting of the days until Shavuot, the offerings on Shavuot, not to gather the gleanings of the harvest (they are left for the poor), Rosh Hashana and blowing the shofar, Yom Kippur, Succot and its offerings, and the commandment to wave the arba minim (the lulav, etrog, hadasim and aravot).
One of the special commandments for Sukkot is to take the arbah minim,etrog, lulav, hadassim, and aravot), and to wave them in the four directions of the compass as well as up and down. The meaning of the waving is that God is everywhere. However, why are these four species designated for the mitzvah?
Our rabbis teach that these four species are symbolic of four types of Jews: the etrog (citron) which has a fragrance and a taste represents those Jews who have both Torah wisdom and good deeds; the lulav (date palm branch) which has a taste (from the dates), but no fragrance represents those Jews who have Torah wisdom, but no good deeds; the hadassim (myrtle branches) have a fragrance, but no taste representing those Jews who have good deeds, but no Torah wisdom; and lastly, the aravot (willow branches) have neither a taste nor a smell representing those Jews who are lacking in Torah wisdom and good deeds.
What do we do on Sukkot? We symbolically bind together and recognize every Jew as an integral and important part of the Jewish people. If even one is missing, the mitzvah is incomplete. Our People is one; we must do all we can to bind together the Jewish people and work to strengthen the Jewish future!
CANDLE LIGHTING - October 6
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:36 - Hong Kong 5:48 - Honolulu 5:55
J'Burg 5:48 - London 6:26 - Los Angeles 6:13
Melbourne 6:04 - Mexico City 7:08 - Miami 6:46
New York 6:13 - Singapore 6:38 - Toronto 6:33
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
No one gossips about other people's secret virtues.
-- Bertrand Russell
In Loving Memory of Our Father|
Herbert Schnider (Chaim ben Yosef)
by Stuart Schnider and family