GOOD MORNING! There is one guarantee for every one of us in life - we are going to die. (Though it sounds so final, don't worry - our Torah teaches that there is a World to Come, a life after this life.) When your time on this earth is complete, what is it that you would like to leave to your children?
Most people think about transferring their wealth. However, my friend Marc Sheridan shared with me a study that unless parents transfer "5 Capitals" -Financial, Social, Human, Intellectual and Spiritual - to their children, 70% of their wealth will dissipate within 2 generations and 90% will disappear within 3 generations!
(Social capital - philanthropy and community leadership. Human capital -pursuing one's own calling. Intellectual capital - getting the best possible education, working hard and challenging oneself. Spiritual -sharing common beliefs and value systems. You can get the details at http://www.SheridanWealthAdvisors.com. This phenomenon is called "shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations".)
Part of the Spiritual Capital is what you have learned about life - what is truly valuable, insights into people, how to use your time. Would that be something that you would like to leave to your children? It's called an Ethical Will. For centuries and probably for thousands of years, Jews (and others) have left an Ethical Will for their children. Perhaps the most famous is Moshe Nachmanides' (Ramban) Letter to his son (available in English from Artscroll entitled Letter for the Ages - available at your local Jewish book store.)
This week I share with you an Ethical Will from Joe Berman, of blessed memory, a man I met and admired, a pillar in the Toronto community and a moving force in many organizations working to better the world and to strengthen the Jewish people. Mr. Berman was a key founder of Aish HaTorah in Toronto. He was a very thoughtful, introspective and visionary. He cared deeply about the Jewish people and his family.
MR. BERMAN'S ETHICAL WILL
"All of you are familiar with a legal will, in which you dispose of all your property and designate the beneficiary of each asset. Likewise, according to Jewish tradition, an ethical will is your reflection on your life as a Jew. What the prime motivating values governing your life are - and how through the prism of your own experience, God's laws are enacted and validated.
"Make a commitment, and get thee a spouse - a lone person is nothing but lonely - but with a spouse, and with God's help, children can be a reality. A family is formed, and you are at the beginning of the future. A family leads to being part of a community, and within a community, you are a force and you have strength. As a community you claim kinship with your people, its collective experience and its collective memory - roots and a past.
"Make your family home an oasis of faith, tranquillity, light and warmth so that it becomes an example worthy of emulation.
"Share - share your feelings, your joys, your sorrows, and your blessings. Sharing is caring and its material implementation is Tzedeka (righteousness - philanthropy). Everything you have is not only a result of your own efforts, but by and large, it is Providential. When trouble strikes, we all ask 'Why me?' Similarly, when you have abundance, you should ask 'Why me?' Share your earnings, your income, and your assets with your community and its institutions.
"This must be planned, not only on a current basis, but on an endowment basis, for continuity of support. A balance must be struck between competing needs, between institutions and individuals, between impersonal-giving and one-on-one interacting, and between the mature and the new, the innovated, the untried.
"Be alive. Learn to let yourself feel. Learn the language of emotion. Learn to savor each moment even if it does not last - in fact savor it because it does not last.
"Learn to thank God for creating emotions and feelings. Each day let one person feel comfort because of you. Each day let one person see hope because of you.
"Do not be indifferent. Indifference is a greater danger than evil, because it precedes evil and allows it to flourish. The Holocaust is the prime example in my lifetime.
"Learn and practice the absolute standards taught in our Torah in our relationships with others so that our society can continue to function smoothly. Do not associate with those who do not adhere to a high level of conduct.
"Communicate not only by speaking, but also by listening. Listen for silences and for pauses - for these express as much as words.
"Do it now - act now. Each day must be planned, and its results must be evaluated and measured each evening.
"Ask questions - question everything, not from a destructive standpoint, but rather to understand and to improve. Question yourself, your institutions, and your society.
"Have faith - Establish a relationship with God.
"These are just a few of the guidelines that Helen and I have jointly and individually observed during our lifetime. This now leads me to my most important piece of advice. Find yourself a role model to emulate and to follow. A person who follows in God's ways. Who is mine? There is only one. That is my wife, Helen. Without her example, my life and our family's life would have - less passion, less fervor, less feeling, less faith, less meaning, less love, less joy, less music, less color, less beauty, and less of every positive aspect of living."
The Talmud tells us that if a person teaches you even one thing, he should be called "Rebbie" - my teacher. Many times over, we can all call Joe Berman "Rebbie"!
For more on "Ethical Will" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
Matos and Masei
Matos includes the laws of making and annulling vows, the surprise attack on Midian (the '67 War wasn't the Jewish people's first surprise attack!) in retribution for the devastation the Midianites wreaked upon the Jewish people, the purification after the war of people and vessels, dedicating a portion of the spoils to the communal good (perhaps the first Federation campaign), the request of the tribes of Reuben and Gad for their portion of land to be east of the Jordan river (yes, Trans-Jordan/Jordan is also part of the Biblical land of Israel). Moshe objects to the request because he thinks the tribes will not take part in the conquering of the land of Israel; the tribes clarify that they will be the advance troops in the attack and thus receive permission.
Masei includes the complete list of journeys in the desert (the name of each stop hints at a deeper meaning, a lesson learned there). God commands to drive out the land's inhabitants, to destroy their idols and to divide the land by a lottery system. God establishes the borders of the Land of Israel. New leadership is appointed, cities of the Levites and Cities of Refuge (where an accidental murderer may seek asylum) are designated. Lastly, the laws are set forth regarding accidental and willful murder as well as inheritance laws only for that generation regarding property of a couple where each came from a different tribe.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And Novach went and captured Kenas and its surrounding villages and he called it Novach after his name" (Numbers 32:42).
Why did the Almighty include this verse in the Torah?
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch elucidates: Throughout the world, powerful leaders have wanted to leave monuments to themselves through statues and buildings named after them. Kings and conquerors have even named large cities after themselves. However, names can very easily be changed and then nothing is left, as happened to Novach. (Neither Novach nor the city he named after himself are remembered in history.) The good deeds of a person and his spiritual attainments are the only true everlasting monuments.
When you view the good that you do as your eternal monument, you will feel greater motivation to accomplish as much as you can. A life of spiritual attainments is everlasting. Feel joy in every positive act you do, for it gives greater splendor to your monument!
CANDLE LIGHTING - July 9
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
Guatemala 6:18 - Hong Kong 6:53 - Honolulu 6:59
J'Burg 5:11 - London 8:58 - Los Angeles 7:49
Melbourne 4:57 - Mexico City 8:01 - Miami 7:58
New York 8:11 - Singapore 6:58 - Toronto 8:43
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
It's not where you are on the ladder,
it's how many rungs you have climbed.
In Loving Memory of
May the Almighty comfort her family
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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