GOOD MORNING!  It's good to have well-read readers; they keep you on track and honest. Reader M. E. Weisman writes that the piece on creating moms was originally written by Erma Bombeck in her book, Motherhood, the World's Second Oldest Profession. My apologies. Also, my thanks to John Warren who has donated a Polaroid 640 Digital Camera to strengthen the "Russin Appeal" -- to raffle off to anyone who donates (a drawing will be take place May 31st from the envelopes received). You may send your donation to: Aish Fax, 3150 Sheridan Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140. And my thanks to you, beloved readers, who make the Shabbat Shalom Fax possible through your generosity.

The story is told of a man explaining to a shadchan (matchmaker) what he is looking for in a wife: "I want someone kind and loving, sweet and supportive, intelligent and motivated, responsible and high principled -- and a little bit crazy." The shadchan asks in wonderment, "Why a little bit crazy?" And the man replies, " ... So she will marry me." This fits in with the maxim "Be happy your spouse isn't perfect. If s/he was perfect, s/he would have married better!"

It is amazing that when you ask people what they want in a spouse usually the first words out of their mouth is "a kind person." So, if the person we want to marry (or stay married to) wants a kind person, it behooves us to make ourselves into that kind of person. (Don't worry that the motivation is self-serving. Better a self-serving kind person than a selfless mean person. And ... in truth ... the truly selfish person is the truly selfless person.)

The problem is that, as our Sages tell us, "Every person is born saying 'The World Was Created For Me!' " We are born in a natural state of selfishness/self-interest and we need to learn the importance of being kind as a value as well as a personal benefit. So, how?

Recently, my close friend and prolific author, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (who you know each week from the Dvar Torah) wrote a fabulous little book called: "Kindness -- Changing People's Lives for the Better." It's an amazing book. Easy to read, fun, brilliant and practical ideas. Rabbi Pliskin has a way of illuminating the obvious. Everyone will find something that they can relate to and benefit from -- there are 85 mini-chapters. Each chapter has one insight or idea and a practical "to do." There are vignettes to bring the ideas home, too.

Kindness is a Torah value. It is an aspect of many mitzvot, commandments, including Love Your Neighbor. In a larger sense, it is included in the commandment to Emulate the Almighty. The Almighty provides for us our needs and it is our goal to be as God-like as possible.

Here is one excerpt which I personally found enlightening:

What are your first thoughts when you meet another person? People who have a strong tendency to be takers, think, "What can this person do for me?" People who have a strong tendency to be critical, think, "What can I find that is negative about this person?" Some people tend to think, "Do I like or respect this person or not?" And others focus on the question, "Do I feel comfortable in the presence of this person?" And yet others think about, "What does this person think of me?"

When you meet someone, let your first thought be, "What can I do for this person?" This way you will view each encounter with a fellow human being as an opportunity to give and to help.

This is not only the book you will want to read yourself, this is the book you will want to give to your loved ones -- especially your teenagers! It is available at better bookstores everywhere or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242. (You may hear Rabbi Pliskin speak on "Joy -- How to Energize Your Life!" June 4th, 8:15 p.m. at the Alexander Hotel, Miami Beach. $18 per person. For advance tickets, send to: 3150 Sheridan Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140. Call for reservations: 305-535-2474)

Torah Portion of the Week

The Torah portion begins with the laws of Shemitah, the Sabbatical year, where the Jewish people are commanded to not 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 the logical plan would be to not plant one-seventh of the land each year. To command an agrarian society to completely stop cultivating all farm lands every 7th year, one has to be either God or a meshugenah (crazy). No sane group of editors would include such an "insane" commandment in a set of laws for the Jewish people; only God could command it and ensure the survival of the Jewish people for following it.

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.


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states, "When you come to the land which I give you, the land shall rest, a rest for the Almighty" (Leviticus 25:2). Why does the Torah specify that the "rest" is for the Almighty, not for us -- both by the Sabbatical Year (Shemitah) and by the Shabbat?

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz of the Mir Yeshiva cites the noted commentator the Raavad that a fundamental principle behind the commandments is that: "they are to remind us constantly that we have a Creator who is our Ruler" The Almighty gave us this earth, but after using the earth for some time a person can mistakenly think that the earth belongs to him, and he can forget that the Almighty is the real owner. Therefore, the Torah constantly reminds us that the Almighty is the true owner and ruler.

This is also the lesson we learn from the weekly Shabbat. It shows a person that the Almighty is the One who gives the power to work on the other days of the week. This is a weekly reminder that we have a God who created the world, sustains it and relates to each of us on a one to one basis.


Jerusalem 6:52   Miami 7:44  New York 7:53
L.A. 7:32  Hong Kong 6:38  Singapore 6:48
Guatemala  6:06  Honolulu   6:46  J'Burg 5:09
Melbourne 4:59  Moscow 8:23  London 7:33
Atlanta 8:17  Toronto 8:23


Kindness is a habit ...
not a happening.

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