Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The elements of this world aid us to reach our goal. Moreover, as we use them, we elevate them. However, if we misuse them, abuse them, we destroy ourselves, and our world as well.

The entire world is for us. However, it only benefits us when we use it to reach our destination and reward in the next world. (From Mesillas Yesharim, Chapter One)

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bills, Expenses

Can we live on happiness? Can it pay our unpaid bills, our expenses?

To be happy means we lack nothing. As such, it pays the bills -- all of them. There's a catch though. For in addition to being happy, we have other obligations and duties -- obligations to the Creator, to our families, to our communities. One such obligation is to earn a living -- "with sweat on your face, you may eat bread."*

Still, earning a living, sweating, does not pay the bills. Only the Creator takes care of our needs. Only the Creator pays our bills.

We need to see our life this way. Then, we may free ourselves of our many worries, and start living with a new joy.

* Breishis 3.19

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yom Kippur

Our prayers are special. This is true of everyone's prayers. The minute we give heart to what we say, it takes on a new power, and the more heart we give, the more power it has.

I heard a beautiful story about the great Rav Shach, of blessed memory. At one time the Ponovezh yeshiva in Bnei Brak really needed extra room for all its students for Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. Managers came to him asking for permission to close off part of the women's section. They were quite desperate for space. After asking for a few days to think it over, he came back to them and told them, "You can't do it. There may well be women, praying desperate prayers, one asking for the return of a wayward grandchild, another asking for her lifelong partner, a third asking for children for herself. Who knows," he said, "it could well be these urgent, heartfelt prayers that carry the entire yeshiva."

Gmar chasima tova.

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Friday, September 25, 2009


We need to make efforts and deeds that lead us closer to the Creator. Such closeness is a true achievement. All else that people think of as being good, is insignificant, evaporating into nothing.

Our hunger for material wealth and comfort distances us from reaching true good. Our challenge is to control these desires. This is our test, and the more tests we pass, the closer we can come to our ultimate happiness. (From Mesillas Yesharim, Chapter One)

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Creator's Gift

If you're going to be a king -- if you want to succeed as a queen -- you have to start now. Decide now that you are a king -- refined, gracious, giving. Think now that you are a queen -- noble, wise, strong. Live now the idea that you are steady, secure -- and make it a part of you.

"Isn't this arrogant?"

It's only arrogant if you are arrogant. But accept it as The Creator's gift, and it's a gift -- a gift that makes your life all the more beautiful. For all you have received to this day is The Creator's gift. And with gratitude -- you may continue receiving His gift, into the present, into the future -- even more than before.

"Who says The Creator wants to give me all I would like to achieve?"

More than you want to receive, The Creator wants to give. (Pesachim 112a) He is the perfect giver. First, though, you must learn how to receive His gift. You must decide that you want it. You must be ready for it. You must wait for it. This is vital.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy and Safe

Be happy and you lack nothing. Be happy and you are secure -- you are safe. (Heard from Rav A. Goodman -- based on Maharal)

But can we lack nothing? Yes, if we look at our world this way -- if we look at what seems bad as being good. With such an attitude, with such a joy, we gain ourselves a new peace of mind and wellbeing.

When we lack something, we are vulnerable. When we are in need, we become dependent. We depend on the person or group who may supply us our need. We are slaves. We are open, exposed to any hurt others might cause us. However, once we lack nothing, once we have all we need, we are invulnerable. No one can hurt us.

At times, we need to be weak. However, this is only when we deal with the Creator -- when we negotiate with the Creator -- when we pray to the Creator. But when it comes to working with and dealing with people, with family, friends and acquaintances, we should lack nothing at all.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The foundation of our personal growth lies in clarifying and confirming our duties for the present time and the future goals we must strive to reach.

The Creator designed us to revel in the ultimate pleasure, immersing ourselves in the glow of His Presence. This pleasure however, we earn only through our own effort and toil.

The place designed for working is this world. The place designated for receiving pleasure is the next world. Thus, this world serves as the corridor to the next. (Pirkei Avos 4.16)

The means that carry us to the next world are directives, mitzvos the Creator gives us to perform while still in this world. (From Mesillas Yesharim, Chapter One)

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Thursday, September 17, 2009


Be a king -- listen to this: "In the beginning Shlomo, son of David, was king over the angels, over the heavens ... then he ruled only over lower beings, the earth ... then he ruled only over Yisrael ... then he ruled only over Yerushalayim ... then he ruled only over his walking stick ..." (Sanhedrin 20b)

What is this teaching? Do the rabbis come to make fun of Shlomo? No. We explain this as follows: Shlomo, like all of us, looked for greatness -- the great happiness that life contains. In his determination and genius, this led him to be a king even over the heavens. Later, though, he cut back on his operations. The angels could rule themselves -- he did not have to command them all. It would be enough to rule the world, or Yisrael, or even just Yerushalayim -- until he concluded that, the best type of king is he who is a king over himself.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Circle of Happiness

Where do we stand on the Circle of Happiness? This isn't a simple question. We keep swiveling around. At one moment we can be close to depression -- at the next, close to ecstasy.

However, there's an average position that we hold -- that we guard -- for ourselves, for our families -- for our day, for our week. This position depends on how close we are to having what we need. Do we have the food we want? Are our living conditions comfortable? Do we have family, friends to interact with, live with -- support and receive support, encourage and receive encouragement? Do we have stimulating, meaningful activities to fill our minutes, our hours?

And still, no person reaches perfect happiness. Somehow, it escapes us -- stands beyond us.

Within our desire to increase our happiness lies our challenge. Will we look for honest, honorable ways to fill this gap in our life? Or will we look for cheap thrills, extravagance? Worse, will we mock and make fun of others for our pleasure?

The first option is the true target, something great, awesome -- but it requires great and awesome efforts. The second, while easy, is a mistake. For by acting in evil, ugly ways, we lose the Creator's support and blessing, and step onto the path that leads only to poverty, misery and unhappiness.

Only with wise decisions can we be happy.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


What does the Creator want of us? No more than to fear Him -- to walk in His ways, to love Him and to serve Him with whole hearts... (Devarim 10.12)

To fear the Creator is to realize that we stand before a magnificent king and to feel ashamed of talking in His presence.

To walk in the Creator's ways is to be magnificent ourselves, bestowing goodness on others to the best of our abilities.

To love the Creator is to look always to please Him, and to rejoice whenever we are able to do so.

With a whole heart is to serve the Creator without any side interest or intention. (From Mesillas Yesharim, Author's Introduction)

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Monday, September 14, 2009


How can we feel excitement and love for our Creator if we don't direct our minds to contemplating His magnificence and loftiness?

To appreciate and know our Creator we need to toil more than we would if we wished to become experts in philosophy, astronomy and medicine, more even than to be experts in the laws and rulings of the Torah.

The ultimate wisdom is an appreciation and knowledge of the Creator of all. For this speculation and imagination is not enough. We can only progress with real, serious study. (From Mesillas Yesharim, Author's Introduction)

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Friday, September 11, 2009


Our lower activities, sleeping, eating, etc., come to us naturally. Our higher activities, grasping elevated ideas, acting in noble ways, we have to learn -- with active intelligence and focused desire.

We cannot acquire what is valuable and lasting without giving of our time and concentrated thoughts to knowing it first.

Our ultimate embarrassment lies in not using the talents and abilities we received to reach the beautiful goals that lie before us. Our shame rests in wasting the talents and abilities we receive to reach that which has no real and lasting value. (From Mesillas Yesharim, Author's Introduction)

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Thursday, September 10, 2009


The most important life concepts include duty, love, respect and loyalty, yet very few people will invest time and thought into understanding these concepts correctly.

A concept we do not understand and appreciate, we do not fulfill. Even when the opportunity to carry it through stands before us, we will fail to recognize it, and it will pass us by.

Elevated living, when properly understood and fulfilled, is pleasing and charming to ourselves, and others. (From Mesillas Yesharim, Author's Introduction)

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009


It's not enough to know great concepts. We need to engrain them into ourselves until we live them.

The fine attributes and attitudes we have learned, with time, we will forget. Our only remedy for such loss is to review and practice them continuously.

We imprint important concepts into our minds by continuously repeating them to ourselves.(From Mesillas Yesharim, Author's Introduction)

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

King & Queen

"Be a king? Be a queen? What do you mean? Surely, only the Creator is king. And, another question: surely no king is a king unless he has a people?"

"True, only the Creator is king. Still, He lends his crown to others. He is ready to share His rule.

"And, about your second question, we say that any type of king is a king. Someone who rules over others, even partially, is also "a king" -- as our sages teach, "Even the leader of ditch-diggers the heavens appoint."

The Creator lends His crown to others. This means we may turn to the Creator and ask to be kings. We want this quality -- and we can have it. While not everyone can rule the world, his country or even his own home -- still, he can rule over himself. He can rule over his strengths and talents, his intelligence and self-discipline, and his sense of magic. We may be kings within ourselves and govern our private worlds -- our state of happiness, of success.

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Monday, September 7, 2009


Many things give us many types of pleasure. Still, we need to learn to take pleasure in the Creator.

We may enjoy our families and friends. We may enjoy resting after a long, hard day. We may enjoy a hot meal when we are hungry or a cold drink when we are thirsty. We may enjoy shopping, acquiring new possessions. We may enjoy our accomplishments, our victories. We may enjoy a day at the beach. We may enjoy a sunset, or a piece of music.

Still, we need to train ourselves to see the Creator as the author of these pleasures, the source of all this enjoyment. Then we will also learn to enjoy life even without the extras, without the trimmings. Then we will learn to enjoy the Creator for Himself, and attach ourselves to the source of all happiness, for all time. This is the ultimate way to live.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Feeling Inferior

"Some of the people in my life, I feel, have so much more than me. I need almost to bow before them -- even to lick their shoes.

"Even when I stand up to them -- when I speak to them as equals, or ignore them -- it still bothers me. I have this need to impress them, to please them. It's so frustrating."

"It's a prison. You must escape."

"But, how -- where's the tunnel?"

"Focus on the thought that the other person and you are both the Creator's inventions. As such, you are equal. This other person may have received great talents, unique life circumstances -- but so did you. You each have sets of abilities, combinations of resources that are special. Make the most of what you have -- and be as great as the greatest.

"Fix it, in your thoughts, your attitudes, that only the Creator is King. Then, be like the Creator. Emulate His ways. Be a king.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We can be more than just the subject of the stories of our lives, we can be the authors as well. Let's rewrite this story, creating for ourselves an exciting, happy future, and even changing a little, our past. (The power of Teshuva, returning our thoughts and our hearts to the Creator is such that we can even convert past mistakes into sources of credit and merit - Yoma 86b)

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Awesome Gifts

"Who is pressuring me? Who is stopping me from living, from enjoying life? Why am I constantly exhausted? Why am I unhappy?"

Who pressures us? We pressure us. Our own dissatisfaction pushes us to look for more and more.

Who stops us from living, from enjoying life? We do. We need to pause a moment and enjoy the scenery. We need to breathe in the fresh air, smile, and thank the Creator.

Why are we exhausted? We do not sleep enough.

When will we be satisfied with all that we have? Only when we are satisfied with all that we have. For, "… there is no peace for the greedy, says the Creator."

We have to set aside our jealousy, our lusts, and enjoy all we are. Each one of us is unique, each one a treasure chest, a source of surprise and pleasure. Instead of looking at what we lack, we need to focus on what we have -- the awesome gifts in our lives. In addition, we need to care for our health: to eat properly; sleep properly. We can be happy. Let us be happy -- now.

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