Monday, November 30, 2009

Praying and Working

We should think of ourselves as ultimately wealthy, possessing limitless funds, good health, strength, wisdom, etc. Why then do we lack so much? Why then do we suffer all that we so need? There are two reasons...

1) That we strive more to come closer to the Creator.

2) That we may sensitize ourselves to the suffering of others, and train ourselves to pray and work for them as well.

Combining these two ideas, we should be praying and working that our entire community should come closer to the Creator.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009


Be a sun -- not a pale sun, but a bright sun, a warm sun, a friendly sun. Be a sun -- not a weak sun, but a handsome sun, a beautiful sun, a majestic, magnificent sun. Radiate light and energy. Radiate joy, the love of life. Radiate optimism. Look forward to an exciting, wonderful future.

But to succeed as suns, we must fulfill two conditions:

(1) We must remember that the Creator is the source of our energy. From Him we draw the inspiration we need to glow, to shine. Therefore, we must keep our connection to the Creator alive and healthy.

(2) We must be surface-level kings, but not actual kings. Only the Creator is king.
As the Creator's representatives, we may live in palaces, surrounded by beautiful objects, surrounded by servants. Still, we are not the King himself. We only represent Him -- His power, majesty, goodness. As for true power, majesty and goodness -- these are with the Creator.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009


We need to appreciate our lives to enjoy our lives. But can we appreciate what is unpleasant? Can we attach value to what is painful? Can we be excited over what hurts us? Yes -- if we learn to see and know the Creator.

The highest pleasure is to see the Creator, to know the Creator. But to see or know the Creator requires special sensitivity -- it requires learning. We need to learn about life, about the different forces that inspire and invigorate our world.

Therefore, to learn must be important to us. It must be precious to us. If we don't use our opportunity to learn -- if we disregard it -- we walk away from happiness.

Sometimes, learning is difficult and unpleasant. Sometimes it's painful. In some way, our lessons hurt us -- wound us. Still, we need to appreciate and value these lessons. We even need to enjoy them. For only through them may we reach what we want.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Negative forces distract us from thinking through our life situation. Nevertheless, when we overcome our natural sloppiness, thinking out and planning our actions, we merit heavenly rescue. (Moed Katon 5a)

With thought, we can tackle our highest dreams. The Creator will help us to reach them. However, when we refuse to think, we lose it all. (From Mesillas Yesharim, Chapter Two)

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Monday, November 23, 2009


For most of us, everything we had yesterday, we woke this morning to find it ours (with a few small changes). However, we could just as well, have woken to find that we have nothing, not even the strength to get out of bed. This alone should fill us with great feelings of gratitude.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009


"At all times, wear white; don't be without perfume in your hair." (Koheles 9.8)

Imagine -- a person is invited to feast with the king. The invitation however, does not mention any date or time. All it says is that the king's servants will arrive to escort him. If this person is wise, he will bathe himself, dress in his best and be ready at all times -- after all, he doesn't want to forfeit this platinum opportunity. If he is a fool however, he will ridicule such an invitation, and ignore it.

Our every minute is important -- still, some moments are more special, more unique. At such moments, we want to perform at our highest level, with enthusiasm, energy. If we can anticipate these moments -- a celebration, an important meeting, an interview -- we can ready ourselves. We can take a nap, shower, dress carefully, and most of all, ready our thoughts and attitudes. Other times, though, we have only a few minutes to prepare -- or no minutes at all. Then, there are moments we never knew were special, seemingly trivial, but which carried great weight -- eyes watching us, evaluating us and making decisions for our future.

Therefore, we need at all times to wear white, and have a fragrance -- a perfume of pleasantness, friendliness and the desire to help others -- wafting from us.

(Rashi explains another idea here. A person never knows when he will leave this world -- therefore, he should bathe and dress himself with good deeds at all times, that when his time comes, he may enter the next world in peace.)

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Add Value

The least item in the world is worth everything when we attach a high value to it. Conversely, the priciest item is worth nothing when we disregard it.

Why do we think we need to be rich to be happy? The reason is that we don't appreciate enough what we have. We have a power to attach value to whatever we want -- but we don't use it. Instead, we wait for others to tell us what is good, what is precious and -- like sheep -- we follow the leader. But there's a danger in chasing what is popular, what is fashionable...

Only by valuing what we have, only by valuing our lives, can we be happy. If we don't attach importance to what we have, even the most expensive, rarest treasures, even the newest, trendiest toys won't make us happy. Even when everyone else appreciates what we have, we'll not enjoy it. Within ourselves, we have to be happy. Otherwise, we condemn ourselves to misery.

Therefore, more than striving to acquire what we don't have, we need to practice enjoying the wonderful, exciting life-items we do have. Let us treasure our world, let us raise its value, and let us succeed.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Generally, we prefer to be at our destination than to take a journey. However, in terms of our lives in this world, the journey is the more important of the two. For along the journey, we uncover new abilities, new strengths. Along the journey, we learn new ideas; we see and appreciate what we never noticed before. Along the journey, we strive to reach lofty destinations.

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Monday, November 16, 2009


We look right and left before we cross a road. We don’t wish to endanger ourselves. We need to do the same concerning spiritual dangers. Otherwise, we destroy our souls.

We harm ourselves when we turn our eyes away from danger, when we refuse to think it over. For, our ingrained habits naturally lead us, without us realizing it, to failure and self-destruction.

If we think and look before we act, we would immediately realize the adjustments we must make to improve our lives forever. (From Mesillas Yesharim, Chapter Two)

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Thursday, November 12, 2009


If I deal on a daily basis with the Creator, the Creator of all, how, then, can I be small? How can my deeds, words or even thoughts have no importance?

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In a Briefcase

Let your friend's friend be your friend. Let life be your friend. Let the Creator be your friend.

We gain much when we enjoy life as it is -- when we enjoy our surroundings -- when we enjoy what we do.

To be happy with ourselves as we are now -- to be happy with what we do now -- to be happy with what we have now -- this is the level we want to reach. Using words the right way -- saying ideas we can say -- helps us to achieve this.

Within our every day -- within the keys and the keyboard, the pencils and the briefcase, the notes and the sandwiches -- is the Creator's presence. Within each element that makes up our life, rests the power, beauty and love of the One who creates all. We need to see it -- then we can enjoy it.

Can we see power, beauty, love, in a keyboard, in a briefcase? Maybe not, but we can say words that release such thoughts. Say POWER -- BEAUTY -- LOVE -- THE CREATOR. Say SUCCESS -- HAPPINESS -- PLEASURE. Say, I love life -- I enjoy what surrounds me -- I take pleasure from what I do.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009


A bus can travel with a single passenger. The same bus can travel with sixty passengers. Similarly, our actions can carry little intention, or they can be full of intention. These intentions make our actions the more profitable and powerful. (Based on Brochos 5b)

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Ideally, we need to pour our energy and resources only into drawing closer to our Creator, escaping, as we would from a fire, all that distracts us from this goal. (From Mesillas Yesharim, Chapter One)

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Room in your House

"Be a king" -- sounds arrogant, right? In fact, it is the height of humility. Moreover, there is none as humble as is a true king. How so?

For our every strength, talent, intelligence is a gift from the Creator. We may earn or not earn such prizes -- deserve or not deserve such heights. Nevertheless, they remain gifts.

Thus, to claim these talents as our own is to steal them from their owner. Any arrogance or pride we display is an abomination in the eyes of the Creator. Moreover, to remain ungrateful for all we receive is shortsighted, stupid. Should the Creator continue giving us gifts when we fail to acknowledge them?

On the other hand…

When we recognize that the Creator acts from within us and through us -- when we feel His presence stirring us, moving us -- then we allow more of the Creator into our midst, more of His kingship to fill us.

Give a king one room in your house and he will sleep there alone. Give him two rooms and he will bring in his chief aide. Give him three rooms and he will bring in more soldiers and staff. Give him your whole house and it will be a king's house. He will fill its every shelf, its every corner with his glory and majesty.

To be a king, therefore, we need to give our all to the Creator, to nullify ourselves before His presence, and have His qualities shine through us.
This idea our rabbis teach when they say, "Our ancestors -- Avraham, Yitzchak and Yakov -- were heaven's chariot." (Breishis Raba 47.5)

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Take the Trouble

It takes an effort to turn up the corners of our mouth. We need to exert ourselves to smile. But when we do so, we have no regrets. It's worth the trouble.

Similarly, with all that's good and positive in life, we need to make the effort -- we need to take the trouble. Very few of life's goodies come by themselves. We need to stab our fork into our food. We need to raise it to our mouths. We need to open our mouths. We need to chew.

When we are in pain, when worries and regrets surround us, when anger and frustration invade us, we have a way out; we have a safe haven -- a heaven where we may revive our spirits, conquer our sadness, expel our disappointments. This refuge lies in the world of thought. Turn your mind towards positive, happy ideas -- inspiring, energizing concepts. In the world of thought, you regain your strength and enthusiasm, your love of yourself, and of life.
But to enter this world, you need to exert yourself, at least a little.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Easy, Hard, Hardest

It's easy to pray for what we desperately need. Harder, is to pray for what we only slightly need, even when we realize its importance. Still harder, to pray for what we don't think of at all, but we do know that it is of critical importance. Practically then, we should string these three into a single prayer, and have our most urgent need fueling our higher consciousness.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

To Release

To release the goodness inside of us, to receive the world's goodness, we need sometimes outside forces to pressure us, to squeeze us. (Based on Tehillim 4.2)

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