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The Weekly Share – 19 Shevat

The Weekly Share – 19 Shevat

Food For the Soul

Life Is A Package Deal

This is the week G‑d gives the Torah to the Jewish people. The reading of the great revelation at Sinai occurs in this Parshah (Yitro), and with it comes, of course, the world-famous Ten Commandments.

Which would you say is the most difficult of the Big Ten to keep? Personally, I would cast my vote for the last one on the list—commandment number 10: Thou Shalt Not Covet. “You shall not covet your friend’s house; you shall not covet your friend’s wife or his field, servant, ox, donkey, or anything that belongs to your friend.” Or, in simple English: don’t desire his beautiful home, stunning wife, dream job, nifty sports car, or anything else that is his. What the Torah is saying is that if perchance you should cast your envious eye over your neighbour’s fence, don’t look only at the specifics. Remember to also look at the overall picture. Is there anybody who has it all?

Every now and then, I find out something about someone whom I thought I knew well that reminds me of this lesson. A fellow who seemed to be on top of the world suddenly has the carpet pulled out from under his feet and, in an instant, is himself in need. Another guy whom I never really thought highly turns out to be an amazing father, raising the most fantastic kids.

As the Yiddish proverb goes, everybody has his own pekkel. We each carry a parcel of problems, our own little bundle of tzoris. When we are young, we think that difficulties are for “other people.” When we get older, we realize that no one is immune. Nobody has it all.

So, if you find yourself coveting your fellow’s whatever, stop for a minute to consider whether you really want “all that is your fellow’s.” When we actually see with our own eyes what the other fellow’s life is all about behind closed doors, we will feel grateful for our own lot in life and happily choose our very own pekkel, with all its inherent problems. The Almighty is giving us good advice. Be wise enough to realize that you’ve got to look at the whole picture. When we do, this difficult commandment becomes more easily observable. Not only is it sinful to envy what other people have, it’s foolish. Because life is a package deal.

From an article by Rabbi Yossy Goldman

Shabbat Shalom

Two Types of Love for G-d

We are taught that there are two types of love for G‑d. One type of love is born out of contemplation of the greatness and oneness of G‑d. This is a love that stems from our thoughts and, as a result, is limited in nature. For example, the more a person understands the goodness of something, the more his love for that thing increases. The love is, therefore, in direct relation to the quality of his intellect.

The other type of love is a love that is not born out of contemplation and intellect. Rather, it is a love for G‑d that transcends intellect. It is not based on logic but is an expression stemming from a deep will and desire for G‑d that is beyond reason. Just as a person’s will to live is not based on reason but is rooted in his inner depths, so too is this unbounded love for G‑d an expression of the deepest part of a person, the essence of his soul. This deep and unbounded love for G‑d is the experience of our Additional Soul on Shabbat.  

From the teachings of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, 

Mind Over Matter

Peace From Within

Moses judged all the people from morning to night. His father-in-law, Jethro, disapproved. Jethro saw that as the people stood in awe before Moses, they were elevated. All conflict fell away. All sores were healed. They found peace, and all was resolved.

But what if there were no Moses? Jethro understood that for peace to endure, the people had to find justice and peace on their own. And so Moses appointed judges from among the people so that the people would learn to settle their own accounts.

In truth, all peace and all healing come from Above. But to endure, it must work its way out from within.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

Moshiach Thoughts

“Remember the Shabbat-day to keep it holy.” (Yitro 20:8)

Rashi explains this verse: Take heed to remember the Shabbat-day constantly, so that if you happen to find something special-set it aside for Shabbat. Likewise, our sages state that we are not to give special names to the weekdays but to refer to them in context of the Shabbat (“first day to the Shabbat, second day to the Shabbat,” and so forth). In this way, we are constantly conscious of the Shabbat, and prepare for it every day of the week. The same applies to the era of the Messianic redemption. It is referred to as “the Day that is entirely Shabbat and repose for life everlasting.” Throughout the present “week-days” of the galut (exile), we must constantly remember and remain conscious of that “Shabbat-Day.” We must now prepare ourselves and everyone, and everything around us, for the upcoming Shabbat of the Messianic era. 

Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet

Have I Got A Story

The Bargain and The Jew

The story you are about to read is true. Some names have been changed to protect the guilty. Some names have been omitted to protect us from the grumpy. 

An angel descended from heaven to sell the Torah to the world, and his first drop was high in the Tibetan mountains. “It’s a Torah,” he told the master as the llamas looked on. “We appreciate new teachings,” intoned master. “Tell us your wisdom.”

I am L-rd Your G‑d. Have none before me. The master smiled sympathetically; the llamas rolled their eyes. “All is One. Truth has many forms. Form changes. Love your knowledge. Live your knowledge. Do not allow one knowledge to negate a world of expression.” The angel remembered aloud, “For I am a jealous G-d.” No, this won’t work. They shook hands, and the master bowed in deference.

The angel came to Khyber Pass. A band of blond, chiselled men galloped furiously, their women following in tow. The angel started telling them about his wares. “I tried the master, but he rejected me,” said the angel, feeling a bit down. “Master? What master? We are the master of all races, not those blabbering, dark people. What does your Torah say in it?”

You shall not murder. “Humph!” answered the loudest mouth among them. “So why didn’t that idiot in the mountain take your book? Isn’t that the gibberish he goes for?” The loudmouth’s voice and passion were growing. “Isn’t it clear that only by the survival of the fittest do we go forward? “Yawol! Seig!” thundered the handsome crowd. The angel was ready to leave, but he had one question: How come all of you are so handsome? Don’t you have any ugly people? “Oh no, we have no ugly people,” said one resolutely. “We did before,” answered the man’s wife, “but we tied them to the trees before we left the forest. This way, we have more food.”

Came the angel further west, along the Seine did he rest. How romantic is this view, how divine is this nest. “Merci monsieur!” the locals sparkled when the angel announced he had a most intriguing gift. “Mais, qu’est-qu’il ya dedans? Can we have a peek inside?” You shall not commit adultery. “To see someone living without love or loving without life, now that is unforgivable! That is the greatest breach of faith, the ultimate rebellion against raison d’etre! A man must always be happy. Joie de Vivre! Taste these snails, and you will see!”

Vay iz mir,” mumbled the angel.

He came to a bustling bazaar where everyone was selling something. Now I’ll make a sale. “Ya Habibi!” cried a stubbly-cheeked vendor with a checkered headdress, “but first let us have tea.” After three cups, two of which were noticeably laced, the conversation ever so subtly eased towards the merchandise at hand. You shall not steal. “Ah waja waja!” the vendor gesticulated. “Never take what belongs to another man. Especially land! For then he will come back with a bigger stick and get back at you. People are sneaky like that. What I do,” the vendor added in whisper, “I kill him. I kill his wife. I kill his children. Then, no problem of revenge! Then build a big house on the land. If anyone challenges you, look weepy and keep saying my-land-my-land!” 

The angel flew away. He flew to a place that called itself united. He met up with a time management wizard who insisted that the honor-father-mother obligation be compartmentalized to two days per annum and delegated to the office assistant if possible.

Then the angel came to Moses’ people. For once, they didn’t bargain. They said if it comes from G‑d, we accept it. All of it. At face value. Unconditionally. Immediately. And perpetually. When asked, they said that when you are in love, you accept. You have no business bargaining.

From an article by Rabbi Shimon Posner

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