GOOD MORNING!   What would you say to stop someone from committing suicide? What would happen if after listening to all of the pain and suffering the person has gone through in his life, you asked, "Tell me, what if on top of all of your problems you were blind, too. Then right before you jumped, a miracle happened and you could see. Would you still jump?" Chances are the person would say, "Are you crazy? I'd want to see what my children look like, the color of the sky, to see the ocean, a mountain! No way I'd kill myself!"

Yet, there are lots of people who can see who do kill themselves even though they can see their children, the color of the sky, the ocean and a mountain. Why? We just get used to our pleasures in life. A person can get used to anything -- good health, being a multi-millionaire, private jets, beautiful homes, even a loving spouse and children. It's sad. Worse, it's tragic. What can we do to focus on the pleasures in life?

Here's an idea: If you're married, agree with your spouse that at the end of each day you'll share two good things that happened that day. So often we spend our time with our spouse complaining about what went wrong that day. Just share the two good things before going into the trials and tribulations. Each day has to be two new things! And if you're single, plan with a friend to do the same thing each day.

What do you answer when someone asks how you are doing? Oftentimes the people I meet say, "Can't complain." It doesn't do much for me and it does less for the person saying it. Sometimes I'll try to focus them that if they can't complain, then they probably have something good from which to take pleasure. How do I do it? I ask them, "Why not? I'm a rabbi. I'll listen to your complaints about life." Most people say that they really don't have anything to complain about.

Then I suggest, why not train yourself to respond, "Good, thank G-d" -- or if he or she really wants to appreciate life to answer "Great, thank G-d." And if he or she really wants to thrill with life, answer "Fabulous, thank G-d" or "Magnificent, thank G-d." It not only uplifts the person responding, it uplifts the one who asked!

Why do I always suggest ending with "Thank G-d"? It is important in life to have gratitude and to show gratitude. Everything we have in life is ultimately a gift from the Almighty. By focusing on that fact and responding in kind, it not only makes one happier, but also a better person.

And what if there are troubles in your life? Who doesn't have problems?

We all have a choice as to what we focus on. The old question: "is the glass half full or half empty?" applies on a daily basis and a moment by moment basis. (By the way, maybe the glass is just too big? Or, maybe it depends upon whether you're pouring or drinking?) Happiness in life is a matter of focusing on the present. If you appreciate the good in every moment, then ultimately your life is filled with millions of moments of happiness and is a happy life.

If one focuses on the past, it is often with regrets for missed opportunities or lost benefits. If one looks to the future with expectations or wishes that things should be different, he misses out on appreciating what is going on now and is probably focusing on what is "missing" now.

I once saw a beautiful quote that sums it up, "The past is history, the future a mystery and now is a gift -- which is why it's called the present." Appreciate the present!

Torah Portion of the Week

This week's Torah reading is an architect's or interior designer's dream portion. It begins with the Almighty commanding Moses to tell the Jewish people to bring an offering of the materials necessary for the construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary.

The Torah continues with the details for constructing the Ark, the Table, the Menorah, the Tabernacle (the central area of worship containing the Ark, the Menorah, the Incense Altar, and the Table), the Beams composing the walls of the Tabernacle, the Cloth partition (separating the Holy of Holies where the Ark rested from the remaining Sanctuary part of the Tabernacle), the Altar and the Enclosure for the Tabernacle (surrounding curtains forming a rectangle within which was a large area approximately 15x larger than the Tabernacle).


Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states, "Cover (the ark) with a layer of pure gold on the inside and outside and make a gold rim all around its top." (Ex. 24:11) Why was it necessary to cover the ark with gold on the inside?

The Talmud (Tractate Yoma 72b) comments that from here we see symbolized that a Torah scholar must be pure inside as well as outside to be considered a Talmid Chochom, a scholar. That is, just as the ark which symbolized Torah knowledge had gold on both the inside and the outside, so too a Torah scholar is not someone who just speaks wisdom on the outside, but he must also internalize his wisdom and live with it.

Our lesson: Whenever you speak about lofty thoughts, ask yourself whether you actually follow the principles you speak about. If not, do not stop speaking about those ideals, rather you should elevate your behavior.

(or Go to

Jerusalem  4:47
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Enjoyment is not having dreams of happiness, but in finding happiness in your dreams

In Loving Memory of
My Parents
Rav Leib ben Nachum
Rebetzin Esther bas Chaim
Howard Ash