From Fear To Love
Trust & Love
Forgive & Live
How To Be Happy
The Collected Teachings Of The Jewish Masters
The world has three stages: G-d’s intent, which is for you to choose Him, so you can rise above your selfish side and activate a selfless side! Hence, there is a. G-d’s desire b. The creation of you (and obviously the world you live in) and; c. The messianic era when we all choose to overcome our selfish instincts! The Lubavitcher Rebbe, the foremost Jewish leader of our century (voted “Jew of The Century” in all Jewish newspaper and magazine polls at the turn of the century) prophetically, and based on the reality around us has declared that we have already begun the messianic stage; for never before have more people courageously embraced G-d despite the ridicule of many; courageously embraced ideals, despite ridicule; courageously embraced the Jewish people and Israel, despite the terrorism of those who jealously seek its and their destruction.
About the Author
Rabbi Michael Zev Wineberg received his Rabbinic Ordination from the Chief-Rabbi of Canada, Rabbi Hirshprung OBM. He has a degree in mediation and computer programming. Rabbi Wineberg was Lecturer of Hebrew and lectured on Jewish Mysticism at Kansas University. He founded The Beth Medrash Program (advanced Jewish studies) at State University of New York, Binghamton; and co-founded The Beth Medrash Program at Yale University’s, Jewish Student Union. He served as Adult Education Director for Chabad House Center, K.C. Kansas. He is the author of over twenty personal guides based on Kabbalah/Jewish Mysticism. He also served as the foundational Rabbi – building up the Jewish Community of Plettenberg Bay, a resort town in South Africa and servicing the thousands of Jewish tourists to it annually. He was a popular Radio Show Host on “Kabbalah“ on a number of Radio Stations. He currently is a lecturer and blogger on his website www.KabbalahWisdom.org
A LITTLE BIT OF LIGHT BANISHES A LOT OF DARKNESS! A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE BANISHES A LOT OF RESENTMENT OVER FEELING UNLOVED!
Dedicated To All Seekers Of Truth
Dear Reader, May The Creator and Master of you and I assist, that the wisdom which transformed my life from darkness to light, from aimlessness to meaning, from feeling like the universe is a “dog-eat-dog world” to understanding, that life is both a process of discovery and purposeful acts of love – Transform Your Life! “Nothing is harder than personal transformation, which is why nothing can be more meaningful!
Contents 1 Gratitude Attitude…………………………….
2 Divine Destiny………………………………….
6 Unconditional Love……………………………
Imagine a chef who has an infinite ability to always make ever more delicious foods. Now imagine The Creator. For we have a tendency to compare The Creator to a great human, so we assume there is bad and good. And The Creator can and does make things good, but that is to limit The Creator. In fact The Creator is always making NEW delicious recipes/ life experiences for our soul to learn from.
My first acknowledgment – the source of gratitude – for to be grateful, we must recognize where our blessings/beneficence has come from – is, of course, to our loving Father-in-Heaven, who in His unlimited kindness has ordained that I should be worthy, or perhaps better said, fortunate, to have studied, and thus be able to share, Kabbalah’s transformative wisdom with you. Thank you to my many good friends who generously donated towards the printing of this book. Special appreciation goes to my dear revered Father, whose encouragement and constant editing and critique of my writing is invaluable, and to my equally dear revered Mother, for a final proofread. As I like to say, being a Rabbi is “the family business,” that never made anything, but holy debt. And to the many faithful editors who checked for syntax, grammar etc., etc. (as you can see, this piece and some others, came in afterwards) beginning with Mrs. Gralnik, editor par-excellence, and culminating with the highly esteemed anesthesiologist and author, Dr. Waldman, and finally with punctuation guru Debbie Haney, without whom my chicken scratch may have remained as such. To Rabbi Marinovsky for his expert Hebrew translation. Last but not least, to Tyrell Gobel, whose graphics and design turned the book into a kaleidoscope of pictures, allowing the dictum that “the Messianic teachings will be visual” to actualize.
In Eternal Loving Memory To Victims Of All Terrorism Victims of Hate/Abuse By Spreading More Light, Darkness Will Vanish In The Words Of Rabbi Kalman Levine, Brutally Murdered While Praying To The Creator “When you observe this type of act, you need to increase the force of good in the world. Do something good you wouldn’t have done otherwise, it’s the only way we’ll defeat the forces of evil.”
“New Torah Teachings of The Messiah” In truth, there is but a path in which the unlimited infinite nature of the Divine collides into our limited defined natural order! In my own desperate search for the meaning of existence, traversing the many doctrines, philosophies, religious ideals, I was amazed to discover, in my own backyard, a treasure buried for millennia, taught only to the great initiated saints but recently revealed through the Chassidic masters. A light both illuminating and cozy, both inspiring and deep, heralding in the: “New Torah Teachings of The Messiah” which flowed through the undiluted souls of the Chassidic Rebbes/Masters. If your soul’s thirst can be quenched, if your parched head can be satiated, if your heart’s ache can be soothed, well-worth my humble attempt to distill this dazzling array of precious gems into modern bite-size wisdom.
If all the heavens were parchment and all the grass were quills, if all the oceans were ink, still the wisdom of Kabbalah could never be transcribed.
Chapter 1 – Gratitude Attitude
In life, it is not what we have that makes us happy, it is the attitude towards what we have, that does. A Story Mr. Behr was a sweet, elderly gentleman who would often take his vacation at the home of a congregant of mine – whose marriage was not too hot – while I was the Rabbi in a resort town in South Africa. One day when he came to our Synagogue for morning prayers, he was shaking his head sadly. So I asked him, “What’s wrong?” He replied, “I don’t understand why young people don’t get along these days. I was married for over forty years and I never had a single argument with my wife.” “Wow, that’s impressive!” For though I am a Rabbi, I am certainly far from a saint. So I asked him, “What was the secret to your happy marriage?” “When I was a young man,” Mr. Behr replied, “I once asked my boss to lend me a pound so that I could buy a lotto ticket. My boss replied, “Do you know when you will win the lotto? When you walk down the aisle to your Chupah (marriage canopy) that is when you will win the lotto!’” In other words, Mr. Behr was teaching me that the reason he had a loving relationship with his wife was because he had always felt like he had won the lotto by marrying her.
The Jewish Sages teach, “Who is wealthy? Whoever appreciates whatever they have.” A Story My cousin, Rabbi Yossi Alpern, who is a Rabbi in Brazil, took a group of very wealthy Brazilian children on a tour of the United States. When they came to the largest toy store in the world, all the children were excited to be able to spend their parents’ money on the latest toys and gizmos. However, he noticed that the young daughter of a billionaire banker was sitting despondently in an aisle. “What’s wrong…?” my cousin asked her. She replied sadly, “I have all these toys already.” Desiring If we are driven by our desires, our desires will always drive us nuts; for no matter what we have, we will only desire even more. As the wisest of all men, King Solomon, writes about money, that “Whoever desires money, can never be satisfied from it.” As studies show and as our sages teach, “Whatever anyone earns – they simply now desire to double it!” However, if our desire in life is simply to do goodness and kindness – to fulfill The Creator’s higher intent for us – then and only then, can we live, truly, both materially and spiritually satisfying lives. For it is not the object – a lifeless material thing – but the objective, the purpose, which is the soul, that gives life to what we do! So when our life’s purpose is meaningful, so is our life. Now the challenge is discernment. For whatever we desire immediately becomes rationalized, as we can see in the shift of attitude from boys to girls based on hormones.
This is in fact the very raison d’etre of Judaism; namely, a mechanism where we can objectively see right from wrong, by asking a Rabbi schooled in the three-thousand-year tradition, wisdom and clarification of Divine guidance on justice, morality and compassion. Practically, the Rebbe, the greatest Rabbi, scholar and Judaic advisor of our times, taught to always consult a Mashpia/ Rabbi schooled not only in Jewish law, but also Jewish mysticism (the Soul of Judaism). And by following the advice, you get personal Divine guidance. (You can go to the “Ask The Rabbi” section on Chabad.org.) Another way to get a GPS (G-d Positioning System) directly from the Divine source according to Jewish mysticism, is to ask G-d whatever you seek guidance on and then the first thought subsequent to your question will be his GPS (try it to see if it works.) In addition, it pays to mention, that happiness comes not from aggrandization/ fame which seems to be the goal of our western ideal; rather, the reverse – happiness comes from giving oneself up for a meaningful cause and thereby becoming proud of one’s positive accomplishments, and the greater the effort, the happier we become! (This, of course, means not exiting reality, rather transforming it through using our talents, time, prosperity, positively.) So becoming wealthy is truly a noble cause if the goal is to help others. Gaining Perspective People who get a new lease on life look at life very, very, differently. One woman told me that after being confined to a hospital bed over a few months, as she looked one morning out her window at the sunrise, she said to herself, “If I ever get out of here, I will never complain for the rest of my life!” And indeed, she is perhaps one of the most cheerful people you could ever meet. People who have survived potentially fatal accidents or illnesses often come out of their experiences with a very great appreciation for the greatest gift of all; The Gift Of Life Itself!
The Gift of Life
The fact is that this world is no accident. The more science we discover, the more we realize that our world is built on a series of miraculous phenomena, which by virtue of their consistency deceive us into seeing nature, as natural. Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidus, “Modern Jewish Mysticism” taught, “The first time we see a miraculous phenomena in nature, we call it a miracle. The second time, we call it nature.” Science is truly only the sum total of human observation, and in every field of scientific enquiry, scientists have discovered that we cannot explain the mechanisms behind what is happening. For example, we know that DNA replicates itself, but no one knows how that is mechanically possible, as I personally heard from a student at the top university in DNA research. Dr. Paul Wildman came to some of my classes – he has three doctorates and sits on the board supervising the studies for all the universities in Switzerland – he told me that his board sent him around the world to discover the latest advancements in science and upon his return, he gave a lecture entitled “The Limit Of Human Understanding.” In every field of scientific enquiry, we have discovered what scientists call “E,” the fact that we now know that we do not comprehend the mechanisms behind the miraculous natural phenomena occurring. As the Chacham Tzv simply and eloquently states, “Nature is repetitive miracles.” Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live life. The first as though everything is a miracle; the other, as though nothing is.”
Take the famous equation of E=MC2. If you had “x-ray vision,” you would see that everything you are looking at is really made up of atoms. And what E=MC2 means is that every atom corresponds to an incredible amount of energy (which is the mass of the atom squared by the constant number the speed of light; 186,000 miles per second). Now, if you had an even greater “x-ray vision,” you would be looking at energy and you wouldn’t see anything physical at all. You can get an idea of how much energy there is when you realize that an atomic explosion is one of the main energy sources for electricity in our world – supplying millions, if not hundreds of millions of households with electricity – all coming from the energy released when the tiny atom is “split!” And as Einstein writes, the energy released in an atomic explosion is in reality just a fraction of the energy contained (like “a wealthy man giving away a thousand dollars,” to use his own example.) So where did all this energy come from? Is it possible that it simply exists?! Obviously not, for the other side of E=MC2 states that all of the energy ever used can be converted back into matter. In other words, energy is interchangeable with physical matter, which is bound by time and space, and is thus one of The Creator’s creations.
As a creation, matter needs to have a beginning. In the study of Kabbalah, we are taught that The Creator “spoke” the world into existence. This means that The Creator’s “speech” creates our reality – the trees, rocks, water, and everything that we see and take for granted. However, there is a fundamental difference between what The Creator makes and what man makes. What man makes is, in fact, only a change of status of material properties. So every component in your “brilliant” computer, is in fact taken from something that was already created by The Creator. From the silicon to the gold, from the plastic to the metallic parts, etc., there isn’t a single component in your computer that doesn’t actually come from the ground.
Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov teaches that even the greatest scientists will never cease to be able to discover ever more benefits from the myriad natural elements that our Creator lovingly placed within the earth’s crust. Now, the earth’s crust, including all that is within it, did not exist prior to creation; therefore, the earth must continually be recreated in order for it to exist. You can see a short Multi-Media Presentation entitled “Discovering How the Universe Is Constantly Being Recreated” which visually demonstrates this on my website http://www.kabbalahwisdom.org
An Example For Continuous Creation
For example, imagine a strange alien for a moment. How long will your alien exist? Only as long as you imagine it! For anything that doesn’t inherently exist needs a separate creative force to constantly recreate it. Just as light must continuously emanate out of its source, for you to see it in a continuum – the same applies to the energy which creates the matter of our universe.
If you were to take away the building blocks of matter, The Creator’s “speech” – there would simply be nothing at all. So all of our technology is dependent on a far greater technology, The Creator’s “speech” – which is continually re-speaking/recreating the physical matter of the universe. In other words, The Creator is always re-speaking, or rethinking/ re-imagining our universe into its present natural format. The magical words “Abra-Cadabrah” come from the two Hebrew words, “Ibarah, C’dabrah” which means “I create, when I speak.” Physicists have discovered the miracle of continuous creation written about in Kabbalah, as we now can observe that atoms are continually popping in and out of existence. You can watch an animated visualization of this on the quantum physics documentary, “What The Bleep Do We Know.” The Kabbalah wrote about this process thousands of years ago and called it Rotzu Vshuv: The creative energy emanates out of the Creator’s desire to create our reality and then returns back into Him in an ongoing forward and return cycle, like heartbeats or breaths.
Another good example to help us understand continuous creation comes from screens. Depending on the type of screen you have, every second, the picture on your screen is refreshed/redrawn a few hundred times. This is why screen savers were invented; for if the computer refreshes the same screen for long periods of time, sometimes the picture gets embedded into the screen. This means that every time you look at the Recycle Bin on your computer, it has been redrawn thousands of times. So your Recycle Bin is a functional tool in a two-dimensional computerized world, as it allows you to throw away the garbage; whereas, the garbage can in your kitchen works in a three-dimensional world. They both, however, serve the same fundamental purpose – getting rid of garbage, and they both need a higher technology to make them continuously reappear, giving you, the user, a functional tool. Another example: In 1986, I studied in Vancouver, Canada, which hosted the World-Expo, where countries showcased their latest technological inventions. GM had a pavilion – and after waiting an hour or so in line, we were ushered into a smallish room, with about six rows of bleachers and a glass partition. We were looking onto sort of like a living room, a stack of wood, piled bonfire style, was in the center. In walks an Indian and with “magic” sets alight the wood and gives us a 45-minute speech, doing many amazing magical tricks; but the best was yet to come – for the grand finale was, he fashioned a fiery little canoe made in the thin air, then “accidently” his cloak caught on fire, which turned him into a stickman made out of fire. He then climbed through the air into his boat; a fiery magical oar appeared, and with one swoosh of the oar, he literally disappeared! It was only then that we realized the Indian and everything we saw was actually a holographic video. Similarly, our universe. For example, though we feel through touch, as it states in Kabbalah and medical science, there is simply a 3D “hologram” of our body in our brain – so when you touch something or something touches you, an electrical impulse is sent through your nerves, which then makes you imagine you are feeling something at the point of touch (which is why – must be pretty annoying – people who have G-d-forbid lost an arm, can still get an itch, feeling like they must scratch a nonexistent arm.)
Thank The Creator
This being the case, it is only right to thank The Creator for what we already have. For it is merely due to his great ongoing kindness that our universe continuously exists!
The Creator and Master of the World is very different from human beings whom mainly seek to gain. The Creator is looking to give. As the Jewish Sages teach, that the very reason why The Creator formed our world and His primary goal in it – you and me! – is in order to have people to give to; for as they explain, “The nature of a kind heart is to act kindly.” So we must realize that The Creator has already given us so very much! When we are aware of these gifts, we start realizing that there is a Being who loves us unconditionally; gives to us unconditionally, and only desires what is good – for our sake and not for His sake!
Someone I know was once going through a severe financial crisis. He called up his wealthy father who bailed him out. I asked his father, “How come you didn’t help your son earlier?” “Because,” he replied, “he didn’t ask.” So it is also good to ask The Creator for what you want.
Gratitude Versus Attitude
Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the author of the Tanya, “the Bible of Jewish mysticism” taught, “When you give something to a humble person, they become more humble; but when you give something to an entitled (arrogant) person, they become more entitled (arrogant).” In other words, if we become cognizant of the blessings we already have, we see ourselves as fortunate. And conversely, ironically, the more we get, if we do not thank the Creator for it, the more it deludes us that we are entitled to even more! For within all of us is a hidden demon called ego, which will automatically assume everything confirms our greatness. And the greater we are, the more entitled we become. Now, the more we see ourselves as entitled to getting what we want, the less happy we become. For the ratio of our ability to fulfill our desires will always be less than the imaginations ability to conceive of desires. So now, instead of sensing our good fortune, we feel we have been “cheated” out of what we are “entitled” to! Having lived in Africa for over a decade, I once remarked to a psychiatrist friend of mine, Dr. Slutzkin, “Why is it that the poor blacks (in contrast to the middle-class whites and wealthier blacks) always seem happy?” He replied, “They expect less.” A good example of this comes from Rabbi Bechayah in his classic “Duties of the Heart”: He gives the example of two people who get shipwrecked and stranded on an island and a benevolent person takes them in and cares for them in every way possible for many years. Now, one is a young child and the other is an adult. The child will in fact begin to expect good treatment from the benefactor (as children do from their parents) but as the adult is more aware, he will feel eternally grateful. Last, but not least, Steve Loeb was a congregant of mine stricken with ALS. During his disease, he returned to G-d and Judaism (no small feat considering the details). I asked him, “What has ALS taught you?” He replied “The Gift Of Life!”
Exercise #1: Write a list of all the good things in your life – all the things which you would miss if you no longer had them – and then list the things that you want but do not have. Say, “Thank you Creator for the blessings You have given me; Please Creator, give me the things I want.”
Bonus: It should be mentioned that the wisest prayer of all – according to Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov – is that The Creator should give us what He knows is best for us. One lady I know told me that The Creator always gave her whatever she requested, but she realized that what she thought would make her happy often led her to misery. So she stopped praying for what she thought she wanted, and prayed instead for what The Creator knows will be good for her. And The Creator’s plan always leads her to happiness.
Big Bonus: The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, explains a truly remarkable thing. Although, of course, The Creator needs to recreate reality for it to continuously appear as mentioned above; nonetheless as He is unlimited, He could have simply imbued matter with enough energy to last as long as he wanted it to. The reason He chose continuous creation is so that we can always feel grateful for this awesome gift, for gratitude equates to happiness. When you are doing nothing, after every breath you take, say, “Thank You, Creator, For Everything!” bearing in mind the fact that everything has just been recreated!
Chapter 2 – Divine Destiny
Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov explains that what comes to us from The Creator is actually a reflection of our own mood and attitude. If we are full of joy, merciful and compassionate, then The Creator will bestow joy, mercy and compassion upon us! The reason we get into a negative space, G-d-forbid, is unfortunately either due to innate anxiety or negative experiences which create future anxiety. The
Wheels of Justice
“What goes around comes around” is a true saying, albeit with a time delay involved; which results in our failing to recognize the truth of it.
The reason for this delay is as follows: If we were immediately rewarded or punished for our wrongdoings, we would never do anything wrong. What’s so bad about that, you may wonder? I recall that as a child, I once asked The Creator to punish me whenever I did something wrong; for then I would know that The Creator existed. This is, in fact, the only real reason why we question The Creator’s existence, as we doubt his effectiveness/justice. How can it be that a good person suffers while an evil person prospers? There are many explanations for this. For example, sometimes The Creator gives a “reward” to an evil person in this world, but this so-called “reward” is actually a negative payout, for it prevents him or her from receiving the great bliss of Heaven. Other times, The Creator brings suffering upon the righteous person for minor infractions in this world, and in that way reserves for them the reward of everlasting bliss in the world-to-come. In fact, our sages teach us that our universe is built on The Creator’s kindness and compassion; hence, a drop of suffering in this world erases mountains of potential pain in the next.
Furthermore, we are taught that we can have “karmic debts;” which means that if I owed someone a sum of money in a previous lifetime, that money may be forcibly taken from me and restored to its reincarnated owner in a future lifetime. There are many stories from the Jewish mystics that prove this. A personal story is, I bought a computer from a friend of mind and in the last moment, he threw in a screen for an extra $15.00. As I had only brought the money for the computer, I never got around to paying him. One day, the computer had “a fatal exception” and stopped working. As I thought about the cause, I determined to pay my friend for the screen. A few weeks later, seeing him at a wedding, I gave him the money. By a serendipitous occurrence, one of the top computer programmers in the country needed to use my computer and he spent forty-five minutes and fixed it. That was the next day!
“The Face of G-d”
The Kabbalah teaches that just like human faces reflect one another – so when someone smiles, others smile back, and when someone, G-d-forbid, is sour, others are likewise somber – similarly, when we are joyous, this causes our Creator to be joyous. And just as when people are happy they give unstintingly, so too The Creator! (On the other hand, when people are sour, they only give based on calculating if the other person is deserving or not.) As the Baal Shem Tov explains, two people are in need of a favor from a king. The commoner gets on his hands and knees and begs – so the king feeling no love, decides if this person warrants the request. However the king’s minister is smart. He invites the king to a repast and after making him happy by serving him his favorite foods, throws in his request; which the king, being in a favorable mood is only too pleased to fulfill. Research in fact demonstrates that happy children cause a positive hence more giving reaction in their parents. In other words, when we are confident in G-d’s assistance, we cause it to happen! Sometimes we think The Creator is inflexible. Why? Because we compare the Creator to inflexible role-models in our past. But not only is G-d flexible, he set up a reality which reacts to us! So bear in mind, destiny is a reflection of our attitude; so always think positively.
Freedom of Choice
You may not know this, but Heaven was created for earth, not the other way around. Everything that is above and below is part of the Divine plan to give you the freedom to choose – without being forced to – between, goodness; i.e., selflessness, compassion, sharing, caring, etc., and evil; i.e., selfishness, insensitivity, arrogance, and caring only for oneself while disregarding others.
In groundbreaking research, Dr. Emoto shows that water crystals react to our prayers, intentions, words, and emotions. You can Google Emoto, for images. You can literally see how based on positive words, intentions, thoughts, and emotions, the water crystals change from a simple hexagon – their natural molecular structure – into a beautiful snowflake image. This in fact is one of the great discoveries of quantum physics; that we are all continuously shaping reality based on the energy (positive, negative, or neutral) we are viewing it as. Now, if physical matter feels the loving embrace or the harsh sting of the emotions behind words, how much more so, as has been proven scientifically, do plants, animals, and obviously, us highly sensitive humans. The Tanya, written over two hundred years ago by the great Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the founder of Chabad Chassidus, which is the logical explanation and elucidation of the wisdom of the Baal Shem Tov, clearly describes three basic zones in our reality: 1) Good 2) Neutral 3) Evil.
Included in Zone 1 (Good) are those things that we make blessings over – such as when we thank G-d for the food we are about to eat – or when we use food for good deeds, such as giving food to hungry people. So at that time, the molecules in the food (which become our energy/body) receive energy directly from The Creator. In Zone 2 (the Neutral Zone) are most objects that are currently untainted (positively or negatively) by humans and are thus waiting for us to elevate them in order for them to receive energy directly from The Creator. In fact, Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov teaches that neutral water will eagerly await hundreds of years, if not even millennia, for a good person to thank-G-d for the water they are going to drink. For as the Holy Ari (a great Kabbalist) teaches, all matter is in fact Divine Souls. Zone 3 (evil) contains the negative forces, which include anger, revenge, harming others, etc. So, if I eat an apple and then use the energy it gives me to insult someone, at that time those physical atoms draw their energy via demons (negative angels) because The Creator refuses to sustain negativity directly.
It’s all amazingly simple, though amazingly complex.
So reality is both simple, yet unerringly complicated, because we don’t understand its simplicity!
Imagine a person who never saw a computer – she or he would think, “This is the most sophisticated, complicated thing!” and yet every child can use it, for it’s actually very simple, once you know what to do. Similarly, reality only has three possibilities: good, neutral, and evil. Good is all that is selfless. Neutral is all that is self-serving, yet not cruel. Evil is all that is cruel.
Incidentally, kosher food corresponds to these three zones. Kosher food begins in the “neutral zone” and takes on a positive energy if used for something positive, such as when one uses the energy from the food to help someone else. Those foods that did not get elevated – since no one used the energy for anything meaningful after eating it – remain in the neutral zone they started out in. If, however, someone used the energy from the Kosher food for something negative – e.g., to harm another, G-d-forbid; then the atoms get energized via the negative demons. Non-kosher food in Hebrew is also called “Assur,” which means tied/locked down. As it is tied up in the third negative zone, hence, as it cannot be elevated even if one uses the energy for something good. (Obviously, the definition of good and evil is based on The Creator’s commandments/definitions in the Bible; hence as Gentiles don’t have the Biblical commandment to refrain from eating non-Kosher food – apart, of course, to “not eat from an animal while it’s alive,” which is one of the universal seven Noahide laws given at Mount Sinai for everyone (see http://www.AskNoah.org for more info. on this) therefore, it doesn’t have a negative effect for them.) The above is an extreme simplification of an incredibly vast universe above us which The Creator uses to engage, create, modify, influence, record and mirror everything that goes on in ours. Last but not least, we must change our perception of reality. For as quantum physics teaches, we have a tendency to think, that we are born into an unchanging Newtonian styled deterministic world, while the truth is that not only do we create reactions based on our mood and attitude in others (and even in animals, vegetation and as demonstrated empirically in water and non-physical matter) but as The Creator is humble, in the Creator! which then becomes our destiny.
Exercise #2: By tuning into good energy – by being grateful for what one has and trusting that things will get better – one creates good destiny and hence a better future.
Bonus: Even by just imagining that The Creator will help you; for example, telling yourself just that, “G-d will help me,” creates that as a future reality.
Big Bonus: Additionally, it is very powerful to hand over your problems to The Creator, as the verse states, “Throw your package of problems to The Creator, and He will carry them.”
I think that as a loving parent, The Creator enables us to choose our own mistakes, as He does not want to force us into anything. However, just like a loving father would, He steps in and provides when we say, “Sorry, it is too hard for me to handle.” (The only thing we need to be careful about is to not take our problems back from The Creator after he has successfully handled them. Human nature is such that we like to think that we deserve the credit for our successes. However, the way the trust-system operates is that The Creator allows whomever you trust – including yourself – to be the provider! So by taking your problem back, which occurs by believing You were the source of your success, you then actually recreate the problem. This is similar to as Einstein states, “We cannot solve our problems using the same mindset in which we created them.” It is for this reason saying Thank-You really is the magic word!) In life, either our consciousness is conscious that everything is run by G-d, hence everything is really good (or for the good) or, though we may actually believe this, but our consciousness is either too focused on our desires and/or our fears, hence our mind is actively pursuing, either the attainment of, or refraining from, something desirable/fearful; and in this consciousness we lose touch with our higher truth. This explains why in Judaism we have so many reminders there is a G-d, such as touching the Mezuzah. For as we see empirically, what we know takes a back seat to our current desires. Hence the importance of always saying “Thank-you” for whatever good comes our way.
Chapter 3 – Giving
Meaning In Life
According to Albert Einstein, the meaning in life is found by “Giving to those whose existence is the cause of our happiness.”
This theory is very similar to the Biblical instruction to “Love your friend as much as you love yourself.” According to Rabbi Akiva, this is in fact the whole point of the Torah (Bible), to teach us how to “Love your friend, as much as you love yourself.”
Happiness, True Success, Joy & Recognition
Many books could be written on this subject, for it represents not only the fundamental reason for our existence, but also the key to our own happiness, success and joy in life, and the key to the ability to attain the recognition that we all so desperately crave.
Rabbi Hillel and the Gentile
I was recently reading an interesting Judaic article that asked the following question: There is a well-known story that a gentile once came to the great Rabbi Hillel, the foremost Jewish leader of his age, and asked him for the guiding principle of Judaism, to which he replied, “What you don’t want others to do to you, don’t do to them. The rest of the Torah/Bible is the explanation of this principle.” The question was subsequently asked, why did Rabbi Hillel frame it in the negative by saying, “What you don’t want others to do to you, don’t do to them” when he could have framed it in the positive such as, “What you want others to do to you, do to them?” Additionally, this would seem a more accurate description of the Biblical injunctions, such as loaning money interest-free; giving charity, etc. However, Rabbi Hillel was teaching everyone an exceptionally important lesson. Why is it that when we do something wrong, it doesn’t seem to bother us at all but when someone else does something wrong, we are often ready to jump down their throats, “How could you possibly have done such an evil, vile, rude, inconsiderate thing?!”
How come we act so “schizophrenically,” seeing other people’s faults as genuine problems, yet at the same time characterizing our own faults as nothing? We view our own misdeeds as nothing more than things we shouldn’t have done, but they do not alter our fundamental self-love. Why? The reason is very simple, yet exceptionally profound. The reason we don’t see our own faults, or our own faults do not cause us to alter our positive self-image, is because our innate self-love covers over and buries our faults. In other words, because we love ourselves, we are not extremely concerned by our faults. I am sure you have heard the saying, “Love is blind,” which is certainly true. In Judaism – in Proverbs – the saying goes “All faults are concealed by love.” In other words, it’s not that we do not recognize that we have faults; rather, as we love ourselves, our love shields us from seeing them as issues that are so terrible that we should stop loving ourselves due to them. In truth, this is a very good thing. For in order to love someone else, you must first love yourself. For generally, the love one person extends to another is actually due to identifying with them – for example, siblings who realize their shared background/identity have greater love for one another than strangers do. The more we see what we share in common – identify – with another, the more we love them unconditionally! As such, it pays to recall we are all the same; for on a soul level, we are similar and there is but one source from Whom we all come! And though our missions differ based on our gender, culture, nation, circle; fundamentally, “We Are All Divine Agents Charged With The Mission To Continually Add In Our Goodness And Kindness.”
However, most importantly, if someone (perhaps a depressed person) doesn’t love themselves, they might, G-d-forbid, commit suicide. So self-love is great (obviously in moderation, lest we forget about the rest of humanity in focusing only on ourselves) but the lesson is that just as our own self-love manages to conceal and bury our own faults from appearing so bad that we are unlovable due to them, so too, our love for our family and friends should be so strong that we don’t see, or at the very least do not think that they are undeserving of love due to their faults. This is the significance behind the exact wording of the Creator’s commandment, “Love Your Friend As You Love Yourself.” In other words, just as your self-love can accept that you are worthy of love even if you have faults, similarly must you accept others even if they have faults.
A Mirror Image
Furthermore, this is how The Creator intended things to be, for the following four reasons: The fact that you do see a fault in someone else is only because in point of fact you have that fault in yourself. For it is impossible to see a fault in someone else if you do not have it in yourself. The Baal Shem Tov teaches, “Your friend is like your mirror – it is only when there is dirt on your own face that it will be ‘reflected’ and hence seen in your friends.” (This “mirroring” – called shadows – was the great discovery of Karl Jung, who later wrote that the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching, which was shown to him by his Jewish disciples, predated his own discovery.) So when we find something wrong in someone else, The Creator is showing us an area in which WE need to improve.
I said this once in a class and a psychologist present confirmed it. “When we get upset by another’s misdeeds, it is only because it is hitting a concealed raw nerve of our own,” she said. Additionally, the fact that one can see faults in another can also lead to good because it allows one to gently, privately, respectfully and honorably, explain to the other how much better it will be for them to choose a wiser course of action. (Interestingly, Rabbi Schneersohn – The Lubavitcher Rebbe – defines that if one feels bugged / irritated by the negative in another, it is a mirror image, as mentioned above, and hence something we need to improve on. However, if our mind comes up with methods of how to help the other, then chances are it is something related to assisting the other. In fact, whenever The Creator allows us to see a solution to a problem – so, for example, say you are aware that someone is, G-d-forbid, ill, and you also know that there is a doctor who specializes in a treatment for that illness – The Creator is actually giving you one of your life’s-missions! If this wasn’t your mission (a.) you wouldn’t have become aware of the problem, and (b.) you wouldn’t have known the solution. Please see my booklet, “How To Find The Meaning Of Your Life” in the appendix, for more info. on this.)
Love, And Only Then Educate
There is a commandment in the Bible to teach, or even reprimand, someone else if one knows it will help. But interestingly, this commandment is preceded by the all-important commandment to never shame another. Thus, the Jewish Sages deduce that before one educates another, one must be quite certain that one’s motive is love; and furthermore, one obviously may never insult another in the process of educating them. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches, “Even if there is a situation where one needs to try to prevent something negative from another – the very best manner (i.e. method) to achieve this is through encouraging them in a pleasant and peaceful (i.e. loving) manner.” The Rebbe himself was a prime example, for noone, perhaps going back to Moses himself, achieved greater transformation, growth, dedication to Judaism and higher ideals in the world, than the Rebbe, yet he never said a harsh word to anyone. So the way to improve someone else is only through showing them what’s right, not that they are, G-d forbid, wrong.
A Chossid (disciple of a Chassidic Rebbe/Master) once asked the Rebbe Rashab, “What is a Chossid?” He contemplated the question and replied, “A Chossid is a lamplighter.” In the olden days, a person would carry a long pole with a fire lit on top (like a long torch) and light the kerosene street lamps. In other words, the reply was, “A Chossid is one who lights up other people’s souls/hearts.” Replied the Chossid, “But I don’t see any lamps.” In other words, “I don’t see anyone worthy of my light/love.” To this, the Rebbe explained, “That is because you are not a lamplighter. When you will become humbler, you will see many lamps!”
What’s The Message?
Additionally, the Baal Shem Tov teaches that everything we see in life is in fact a message from The Creator on how to improve ourselves. So when you see a good behavior from someone else, The Creator organized that you should see it in order that you should emulate it. And when you see a bad behavior, it is shown to you for the following two reasons: A) So that you will be repulsed by it and hence decide not to act like that; and B) So that you will be proud of yourself for behaving properly.
Whose Existence Makes You Happy?
Now I would like you to take Einstein’s suggestion, and decide whose existence gives you happiness. You will most probably choose people who are close to you and have impacted your life in a way that you perceive to be beneficial. What you need to do is to stop bartering; you need to decide to love these people unconditionally!
Love and Happiness
Only through this will you find happiness; for when you love, you release loving chemicals (serotonin) through your blood stream which makes you feel good. It is a drug that only gets stronger with time.
The Love/Fear Seesaw
Rabbi Shneur Zalman teaches in Tanya, every thought we have, everything we say and everything we do, is either out of love for someone or something or due to a fear of someone or something.
LOVE = ATTRACTION
FEAR = RETRACTION
Love creates an attraction – a desire to unite with the person you love, or to attain that which you believe will be pleasurable for you (say, a cup of Coke.) Fear creates an avoidance/retraction from a person you are afraid of (who will perhaps shame you) or from something that you fear will be painful to you (say a bee.)
The state that we need to work towards is a state of unconditional-love. In other words, when we love the people we have chosen, as much as we love ourselves! However, fear causes a chemical takeover in the brain, reducing our ability to think, and we are left functioning on the level of little children, with purely instinctive reactions.
The Power of Fear
At such moments, all our wisdom, understanding and knowledge vanishes, along with whom we want to be (i.e. kind, compassionate, considerate, nice, etc.) We simply become like animals that react only instinctively; namely, the fear: flight or freeze instinct or in absolute desperation, fight. The part of the brain controlling our fear (the amygdala nuclei region) is a part that overrides rational thought – literally bypassing the source of our rational mind – the prefrontal lobes – hence creating only instinctive protective reactions. If we are in a “state of fear” (i.e. worried, anxious, stressed) we cannot simultaneously be in a “state of love.” Rabbi Bechayah, the author of an incredibly wise Judaic classic called, “Duties of the Heart” writes, “The heart cannot hold both stimuli, fear and love, simultaneously.” Hence, we will mention the primary reasons why most people become fearful – based on the classic book of Jewish mysticism, the Tanya – and the methods that it advises to eliminate fear.
The first cause of fear is a person’s personal worries: be they financial, health, or related to their children (i.e. something or someone they love). The only way to eliminate this anxiety is to remember that The Creator is good. In fact, The Creator doesn’t have a “bad bone” in His “body.” There is simply nothing but goodness in The Creator. So if “creating positive intentions” (lesson 2) and “praying for good results” (lesson 1) haven’t worked for you, it is only because, according to the Divine plan, you are really receiving help, not a hindrance. The story is told of three great mystics (including the author of the Tanya) who were discussing a war in which there were, unfortunately many casualties. The first two mystics said, “If I was The Creator, I would have created fewer fatalities,” each one choosing the side which they would have assisted. The third and greatest mystic said, “If I was The Creator, I would have done exactly the same thing, but I would understand why!”
There Is A Master-plan At Play – And It Is In Your Interest
In other words, try to understand that despite the pain you are in, there is a master-plan and the same way a child cannot understand how come his parents are forcing him to do his homework instead of allowing him to play in the fresh air, similarly, our minds simply cannot conceive of everything that The Creator’s mind can.
Personal Pain Vs. Other People’s Pain
Now an important point needs to be clarified. While we may trust that what The Creator is doing in our own particular case is for the best, we should always take the merciful approach, pleading with The Creator for grace, kindness, and compassion, and do the same for someone else in need. As explained in the second lesson, this then becomes your own destiny from The Creator. And furthermore, if you were, G-d-forbid, suffering, the last thing you would want is for someone to rationalize your pain by saying that it is the best thing for you! As the Baal Shem Tov teaches, that though, to trust G-d when I am suffering is the highest trait; to accept another’s suffering, evil. To my mind, the classic book on human suffering and G-d’s response is, “The Book of Job.” The essence of the book (in my humble opinion) is that when Job’s friends try to justify The Creator’s (seemingly irrational and unjust) behavior towards him, he replies to them, “Everything that you know (about The Creator) I do, too.” In other words, “Try to comfort me over my losses; don’t try to make a believer out of me while I am suffering and in pain.”
This is not to say that it is not beneficial to help someone who is sick or in need, to trust in The Creator, for usually that is the very best medicine possible. However, if one does take this approach, it is not in order to create a believer, rather, to help the person who is in pain, and usually people are smart enough to tell the difference. Interestingly, eventually the Creator replies to Job’s agonizing search for the just cause of his suffering, and all the Creator tells him is a series of scientific phenomena which demonstrates how G-d is infinitely beyond human comprehension; hence, Job says, “All my understanding of you was naught. I now realize, relative to You, I am but dust and ashes.” In other words, Job understood that his mind’s rationale – why what occurred was unjust – could never be applied when dealing with an infinite mind’s vantage point.
Who is The Creator?
Now sometimes, people have the wrong idea about The Creator. An atheist once told a Rabbi, “I don’t believe in G-d.” The Rabbi replied, “In The G-d that you don’t believe in, I don’t believe in either!” People have a tendency to anthropomorphize G-d. They see The Creator as a very great human; thus they figure that The Creator desires power. But the truth is, if we can compare The Creator to anyone at all, it would be to the love of a mother for her tiny newborn baby, an unconditional love! G-d created human emotions, and only He can inform us of what He loves, and the verse states, “I love you, says the Creator!” After all, are we not all His creations?!?
Understanding That We Can’t Understand Everything
It is when we expect to understand, and believe, that as our mind is capable of understanding some things, it should also be able to understand all things, that we get frustrated when we don’t; however, if we can understand that it is impossible for a finite mind to understand an Infinite vantage point (for even the greatest supercomputer is no different than the comparison between a rock and man relative to infinite wisdom/data) then, just like a child gains security by trusting in his parents without necessarily understanding their logic, similarly, we can remind ourselves that it is both possible and highly probable that the Creator can do something beneficial for us without us being capable of understanding the mechanism.
Would not The Creator be absolutely limited, if everything He could conceive of, would be understandable, to our limited perceptions.
The Creator and Manager of the World is Good
So in summary, we need to understand that The Creator is good – and although we do not understand why what is happening is good – nonetheless, we can have the wisdom to trust in The Creator and this will take the stress and anxiety out of the situation.
The second and most common reason for feeling fear is actually anxiety over whether we are doing the right thing or not.
In order to explain this fully, we need to clarify that within each and every one of us there is a Yetzer Hara – a demon – “a little devil” (in fact, an offshoot of the “big devil” the satan) whose job it is to get us to be depressed and sad so that we will be unmotivated to be good, caring and loving people. As the Baal Shem Tov teaches, “More than the Yetzer Hara desires that you should sin, he desires that you should feel guilty that you sinned.” The Yetzer Hara – demon – “little devil” employs guilt as its primary weapon of offense. Although guilt seems like a good thing, a wise psychologist told me, “Guilt is the biggest energy waster in the world!” and she is right. After studying Jewish mysticism and realizing that this is how The Creator designed the world, I stopped feeling guilty for all of my negative desires, for they are part and parcel of the Yetzer Hara, which puts them into our minds. (I can prove the Yetzer Hara’s existence, but it’s not for this short book; this is more about factual information on how we can help ourselves than about proofs.) What really helped me was realizing that The Creator does not expect us to have only positive desires. Our bodies and the Yetzer Hara instinctively produce negative desires, such as those for arrogance, anger, laziness, enjoyment over other people’s downfalls, pleasure and so on. There is nothing wrong – again, nothing wrong – with having these desires, as long as we don’t act on them.
Getting over Guilt
The key to not feeling guilty is as follows: Firstly, you need to know that The Creator is good and is looking to reward you for being good (as mentioned in the second lesson). Secondly, you need to have practical expectations of yourself.
In order to understand this, you need to actually study the Torah, the Bible and its commentaries. (I have written “Meditations for the Soul”, a booklet encapsulating – in a concise and modern format – most of the applicable Biblical laws and good suggestions for leading a happy, fruitful and productive life; which is available on my website.) You need to study the Mitzvos (the Good Deeds) of the Torah/Bible, because what the Torah teaches us is never impossible nor improbable. For example, one religion writes that if a man looks lustfully at a woman, it is as if he has committed adultery. Now, this is ridiculous, for the innate instinct in a man is to lust after a beautiful woman. As one elderly professor told me during the Monica Lewinsky story, that when he sees a young attractive woman, he naturally lusts after her. In the Torah (the Bible) what is important is not committing adultery or other deviant sexual behavior. So it is not about the desire in the heart, rather about the actions we take.
For example, even if someone doesn’t desire to give charity but disciplines themselves and gives charity anyway, they have successfully done a good deed! To a large extent, it was The Creator’s will that we should be challenged by this demon – the Yetzer Hara – and give The Creator and ourselves the moral satisfaction of conquering it. As Rabbi Josef Isaac Schneersohn, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe writes, one cannot compare the pleasure a farmer would get from the produce reaped from a fruitful field in the perfect climate to his personal satisfaction if he managed to take a barren dessert and give it life! So the greater the challenge, the greater the sense of accomplishment.
Thirdly, a person must have self-discipline. For if we do not have self-control, we will never be able to live up to our own standards; for we know what we should be doing, but practically, we do not have the ability to do it! Self-control can take a long time to achieve, but the surest method was described in a book on education by Rabbi Josef Isaac Schneersohn. He writes that the way the Creator created us, we all have the ability to order ourselves around. By telling yourself what to do, you gain the ability to control yourself.
In fact, studies show that one of the two traits of successful people is that they tell themselves what to do.
The following graph shows how behavior through self-control leads to happiness
Thoughts = Thoughts
Speech = Speech
Actions = Actions
A fascinating and most relevant statement of Kabbalah is, “The strength of the body/instinctual desires counteracts the strength of the soul’s desires.” In other words, if you were running in one direction but at the same time you were being pulled in an opposite direction – based on how strong that pull is will determine whether you will still be going forward, at what speed, and perhaps, if you will even be compelled to go backwards. Ironically, although it appears to us that our instinctual desires are what we want, they are not! Everyone would like to be remembered positively by their family and friends, which only comes from unconditionally loving them, and hence giving to them.
However, in direct contrast to how powerfully our instinctual / selfish desires are controlling our thoughts, speech and actions, is obviously the converse; namely, how much less so our idealistic, Divine, altruistic, selfless desires are. This takes places subconsciously. So in other words, we are born automatically with selfish instincts and to overcome them we need to use our souls and minds to discipline ourselves.
Bullying the Bully
Now, there is another teaching from the Zohar/Kabbalah on how to overcome something that challenges spiritual seekers often and that is that for some reason, their soul or mind is incapable of altering their behavior. As mentioned – when a person orders themselves around, they gain self-control; however, sometimes we find that the body simply refuses to listen to the soul or mind. The reason for this is because the Kelipos (negative demons) controlling the atoms energizing the body are being arrogant. So it would be like a bully blocking your ability to enter a door. The Zohar teaches that the method to overcome this “dullness of heart,” is to break the barriers surrounding the heart. It gives an example of a large log that someone would like to use as firewood. If you try to light the log as it stands, it will not catch fire. However, if you chop it up into small pieces, it will burn nicely. So the way to eliminate the “bully at the door” and gain access to self-discipline is to humble yourself. So think about all the bad, vile, rude, narcissistic things you have done. The greater your list, the more humble you will become! As this is a common problem, perhaps it would be a good idea to designate a time daily or nightly when you do this and it will truly allow for your soul or mind to gain dominance over your instincts.
Self-Control In The Mind
The truth is that we should also endeavor to control our thoughts – and this in its own right is a very important concept – for by controlling our thoughts, we then gain self- control. If our thoughts are just governed by what is pleasurable and what is not – i.e., I only think about what makes me happy – then we are never really thinking – we are reacting to instinctual desires that percolate up into our consciousness, and our thoughts, are merely part of the reaction. (And unfortunately in “reverse psychology” when in the state of fear, we are sensing everything that can go wrong and our thoughts are not attractions to what can give us pleasure, but possible danger scenarios so we can protect ourselves.)
Changing The Airwaves
It will probably take you a few years to gain complete control over your thoughts, but without such control, you are walking in a jungle, at the mercy of whatever stimulus comes your way. With the ability to control one’s thoughts, even someone in a prison labor camp can be free and sane. As Dr. Victor Frankel writes, that although what the Nazis did to him was not under his control, nonetheless, his reaction to their truly atrocious, malicious and demonic behavior, through choosing his own thoughts, was!
At a conference in which the anti-Semitic Czarist regime were pressuring the Orthodox Rabbis in Russia to change Judaism and threatening pogroms if not, many of the Rabbis feared they had no alternative. So Rabbi Sholom Dovber of Lubavitch asked to be the final speaker and when he got to the podium, he said, “G-d placed our bodies, not our souls, in exile!” A blonde, blue-eyed Jewish girl worked for the Jewish resistance during the Holocaust, but unfortunately was captured and placed in a cell by the Nazis. As a famous study on the psychology of the Nazis asserts, “The nature of evil is that it increases with power” so too in this case, the psychopathic Nazi commandant of her jail would daily ask for a prisoner to light his cigar and then shoot the innocent person. After starving her for three days, he called her and asked her to light his cigar, which she did – and then he asked, “Why aren’t you begging for your life, as the others do?” to which she replied, “Whether you shoot me or not is your choice, but whether I beg or not is mine!”
Again, through using the method mentioned by Rabbi Josef Isaac Schneersohn, namely, telling yourself what to think, you can gain mastery over your thoughts.
Control Your Thoughts
Although your mind is always producing some kind of thought, what you think about is under your control! If you tell yourself, “I will think a positive thought,” or “I will go listen to some music or read a book,” you can change the “station” playing in your head and eventually you will reach the point where you will be talking in your head, and your head will not simply react to whatever stimuli your eyes see or that comes your way. I marvel at the many Holocaust survivors who went on to build quality lives, getting married again (sometimes after losing their entire families) and often creating successful businesses, and sometimes even business empires. Obviously, if they had focused on what the Nazis did to them, they would have never made it. We in the West who have so much good (including freedom) tend to harp on minutiae that people in the East would find meaningless.
The Prince in the Navy
Now, this demon is actually a little devil given to man by The Creator to challenge man’s devotion to The Creator; i.e., goodness and kindness. The Zohar, the primary book of Kabbalah, explains that this is like a king who desires to test his son’s morality so he sends his son to become a sailor in the navy. At the ports, the sailors frequented brothels (this is an olden day example). So this sailor-prince was approached by a gorgeous harlot who had been hired by the king to see if his son had the moral fiber to withstand this great test. Similarly, the soul in Heaven is basking in The Creator’s Light and is like the Prince at a King’s table. Then the soul is sent into a body, and on top of that, the king hires an exceptionally adept harlot (the Yetzer Hara) to try to get the son to stray from the moral high ground and his true self! The Lubavitcher Rebbe clarifies that in truth, the Yetzer Hara is a challenge for man’s benefit; for precisely the challenges – like the fun of playing a video game which would lose its allure if there were no challengers, is what keeps us focused on winning the game!
Another Thought To Beat The Guilt Induced By The Yetzer Hara
You need not feel any guilt over negative desires. You should rather feel proud, that precisely because you are thinking, speaking, and doing good, the Yetzer Hara (like an opponent afraid of losing a game) is working “overtime,” by giving you these negative thoughts; trying to prevent you from fulfilling your mission in life.
The Surest Method of Beating the Yetzer Hara
Incredibly, the best way to beat the Yetzer Hara is actually by being happy. This can be compared to two wrestlers. One would assume that the stronger wrestler will always win the match; however, it is often not the stronger wrestler who will win, but the happier one. For if the other wrestler is sad or depressed, he simply won’t put up a good fight.
So by being happy, you give yourself the energy, motivation, vim to fight; however, if you are sad, it will be very easy for the Yetzer Hara to beat you, in his constant vigilance in tricking you to sin and then to feel guilty about it. Furthermore, as we don’t like feeling bad, hence the corollary effect of feeling guilt is we try to alleviate the internal “demons” through temporary highs. Another analogy would be of two people who are trying to climb a mountain – one full of hope, believing that he will make it to the top, and the other who is slightly depressed or does not trust in his ability to summit. The optimist will succeed, for despite setbacks he is hopeful and believes he will make it, while the pessimist will take the setbacks as confirmation of his miserable luck, lose hope, and give up early in the game.
The Yetzer Hara’s Belligerence
The Baal Shem Tov gives us a good analogy on the Yetzer Hara’s belligerence. Once, a man bought a beautiful home. Now, a conman thinking, “How can I get this for free?” but, of course, having no money, came to the owner and asked to buy the house. So the owner said, “It’s not for sale.” However, the next day, the conman returned and requested, “Can I possibly rent a room in the home?” Again, the man said no. The conman then came back a third time, and by now the man was exasperated, so the conman requested one simple thing, “Can you at least please give me a hook by the coat-stand?” Sensing that through this he would finally get rid of the pest, he said, “Yes!”
But then, ceremoniously, every hour on the hour, the conman would come into the house to hang something on “his” hook. Completely exasperated, the owner finally said, “Here, take the stupid house!” So, in other words, by not fighting our Yetzer Hara, we are, G-d-forbid, inviting him to completely control our lives.
The Creator and Master of the World Wants You to Be Happy
There was a special edition of Newsweek magazine devoted to analyzing the latest research regarding children and educating children. A poll had been sent out with the following question: “What do you want most for your child?” The primary desire of parents was that their children should be happy. (Interestingly, the next primary desire was for their children to be moral.) The Creator’s desire – as He is our parent – is that we should, quite simply, first and foremost, be happy. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe once told Rabbi Yoel Kahn, the author of the Chassidic Encyclopedia, “People assume that the road to G-d is through seriousness, but it is actually through joy!” Last, but not least, the belief that many religious people have that the Creator seek seriousness is built on the folly of anthropomorphization – sensing the Creator is like a great human – and then hypothesizing that just as humans seek to be served/ power, so too the Creator.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches there can be two possibilities – either that The Creator has an ego and because he is perfect has eliminated it, or, which is the truth, the ego, which is a demon given to man, is not even in existence by the Creator; hence, it is impossible for the Creator to desire anything but what’s in our best interest.
Exercise #3: Specify a few people who you want to start loving unconditionally (with no expectation of reward whatsoever.)
Chapter 4 – Forgiving
The Seesaw of Human Relationships
Imagine human relationships as a seesaw. As a child, you begin life with the feeling that you are lower than the adults (as you are dependent on them.) However, with your peers you feel equal, so now the seesaw is level. Finally, as an adult, you feel superior to children younger than you. This takes place subconsciously, so don’t feel bad about it.
If someone offends you, depending on the traits you picked up from childhood, you will most likely be passive, as children learn not to fight with adults since they are dependent on them. What you will probably do is harbor an inner resentment.
Resentments, Illnesses, and Healing
Resentments have been linked to major illnesses, while healing resentments (forgiving people) have been linked to immediate recovery.
Research has shown that we actually store emotions in our cells, and sometimes a negative emotion will cause a cell to go haywire, resulting in disease. As one friend of mine who came down with a terrible illness told me, disease is from the word disease. Dis-ease can often cause disease.
Fear Causes Illness
The Baal Shem Tov calls anger “negative fear.” And research into the field of psychosomatic illnesses indicates that all illnesses – and certainly mental ones – are founded in fear and anxiety.
Forgiveness and Healing
One friend of mine had a thyroid problem for two years. He tried regular and alternative medicines but nothing helped. Finally, he went to a spiritual healer, also an M.D., who told him that he should discover what had happened in his life that had caused the illness. He realized that around the time of contracting his illness, he had had a fall-out with a very close friend. And after forgiving that friend, he immediately began to feel better. Brandon Bayes wrote a book called “The Journey,” about how she caused a massive tumor to slowly disintegrate, and actually became cancer-free, within a month-and-a-half, by forgiving certain people (from a childhood memory). She has successfully taught many others “forgiveness therapy.” Deepak Chopra, an M.D. who spends a lot of time investigating such phenomena, reports as a scientific fact that forgiveness works. However, he feels that some people have an ability to access forgiveness in their inner hearts, while others unfortunately don’t know, or haven’t learned, how to.
In addition, it pays to mention that all research (e.g. The China Study – the largest study in history incorporating approximately eight hundred million people) indicates that eating healthy foods – plant based foods and reducing our intake of all other is the key to staying healthy in the first place. It also pays to mention that a Harvard study of over ten thousand people discovered that fiber was the core benefit of the healthier Mediterranean diet. The Rambam, who founded modern medicine (taking it from superstition to science), writes in his famous diet that being regular (the benefit of fiber) is one of the most important factors in maintaining health. However, if medical issues do arise, The Rebbe advises to consult with a Doctor who is a friend and follow their instructions. (In addition, for financial advice, the Rebbe advises, to consult a friend in business.)
I recall that when I was a child, an adult once shouted at me for what he perceived was wild behavior (he was a very anxious individual.) Now many years later, as a young man, we happened to meet. And remarkably, he asked my forgiveness for shouting at me when I was a kid. “You probably don’t remember…” he said to me; but in point of fact, I did remember the incident. And while I did not bear a grudge (after all, he was somewhat justified in my mind, as he was the adult) nonetheless, there was certainly some sort of psychological barrier between us, in my mind. Since his asking for my forgiveness, and my admiration that he should do so, resulting in my wholehearted readiness to forgive, therefore whatever perceived animosity that existed between us was replaced by my everlasting admiration for this man.
The same applies in a parent/child relationship; if a parent says something harsh as a reprimand, it is vital that later the parent does something affectionate to show the child that the relationship is “back on track.” Ironically, what is a casual remark by an authority figure is taken as an absolute truth (and hence, unnecessary feelings of shame and hurt ensue) in a subordinate, child, or student.
The Only Educational Advice You’ll Ever Need!
While we’re on the topic, it pays to mention a piece of educational advice from the Rebbe. Every Sunday for many years, the Lubavitcher Rebbe would humbly stand and thousands of people from all over the world would file past to receive a dollar for charity and a personal blessing and replies to any questions. I saw on a video of “Dollars” how a mother asked the Rebbe for educational advice, to which he replied, “Be a good role-model.” The lady was dumbstruck – perhaps she was expecting something more complex – and you can see how she just remains standing there. So the Rebbe replied that the advice was, “Simple, but effective.” As Einstein said, “Example isn’t another way to teach, it is the only way to teach!”
Forgiveness Vs. Revenge
If someone upsets you, you can either have an argument with him or her or simply choose not to think about them, waiting for time to heal your wounds. Obviously, it is nobler to forgive the person. And according to one study I read, people who forgave others while hooked-up to blood-pressure monitors proved that the simple act of forgiveness caused an immediate lowering of their blood pressure by a whopping 30%. Conversely, holding onto a grudge is exceptionally harmful to you. The benefit of forgiveness is that essentially you do not allow yourself to feel lower than the person who has harmed, insulted, disparaged, or mocked you. It is only natural to feel “put down” when someone insults you; but remember that what happens when you begin to feel lower than someone else is that our human instinct tells us to take revenge. (Revenge is about “getting even;” in other words, as in the seesaw example, because someone lowered you, you now feel it is necessary to lower them, so the two of you can be balanced out.) Obviously, it is a never-ending cycle. For even if you do get revenge, it will only cause that the person will then desire to lower you again! Thus, it becomes a never-ending sequence, which unfortunately happens often in relationships.
Let me share a story with you. This is a story about an incident described by the holy Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov as the hardest personal challenge The Creator ever gave anyone since Abraham was asked to bind his son Isaac as a sacrifice on the altar. In the olden days, a man once traveled to a distant town. He came back home with his prize – an Esrog. (The Esrog is a fruit used by the Jewish people during the holiday of Sukkos.) Now, this man could ill afford to spend money on an Esrog, and he had saved up penny after penny for an entire year in order to be able to afford this fruit needed for the festival. His wife, seeing that he had spent his savings on an Esrog and not on the family’s needs which were dire, became embittered. As she reflected on how she could have purchased the necessities, etc., her sorrow increased and she bit off the top part of the Esrog, rendering the fruit useless as the fruit needs to be complete in order to be used for the tradition, required during the festival. Imagine having worked for many years, saved up a lot of money, and bought your dream car, and then in a fit of rage, a friend of yours takes your car for a drive, ignores the “low oil” symbol, and allows your car to overheat; your engine is now ruined. How would you feel about your friend’s reckless and destructive drive? You would no doubt be livid. The owner of the precious Esrog however, refused to get upset with his wife. The man said to himself, “It seems G-d doesn’t feel that a simple Jew like me needs a fancy Esrog.” (There is an interesting movie made in Israel with international acclaim called “Ushpizin” which is a modern rerun of this story.)
The Bible teaches us that we may never verbally insult another person, and the Talmud (a commentary on the Bible) explains that verbal insults upset The Creator to the point that He ensures that justice is served.
In other words, “you get what you give” and “what goes around comes around.” A person should not upset The Creator by getting angry or taking revenge; he can and should leave it up to The Creator to settle the score.
Revenge Doesn’t Work
Look at what Zidan lost by getting angry with a player during the final part of the 2006 soccer World Cup. By taking revenge, he eliminated himself from the game, which probably cost the French team the World Cup!
In the end of the day, holding onto a grudge only hurts you. Forgiveness only helps You.
Try to think of all the people who insulted you and all of the times you were slighted. If need be, write them down, and write, “I forgive these people.”
Either Forgive or Confront
If you cannot forgive them, then confront them. Don’t hold it in. Write to them or tell them that you are upset with them for the wrong they have done to you. Firstly, it allows them to defend themselves if there was an appropriate cause. And secondly, it allows you to so-to-speak “balance yourself out” with them – for after the confrontation, you no longer feel victimized and therefore “lower” than them. Your Right It is important to remember that as an adult, no one (not even your boss or your spouse) has the right to treat you with the slightest degree of emotional or verbal indignity. You have the right to challenge them and you should challenge them, if you cannot find it in your heart to forgive them. Who knows, maybe you will be helping them, as well, by so doing.
(It also pays to bear in mind that many people feel stressed out, and as such, although perhaps they themselves wish they could be nice, nevertheless, when things don’t follow their schedule, they can turn into monsters. All of this is because in childhood, they were either emotionally, verbally, or physically abused, and they never want to get abused again. As such, subconsciously they believe that if they are in control (not a victim) the bad stuff will not occur again. So it pays to take the criticism of such people (sometimes called control-freaks) with not a pinch, nor a bag, but an ocean of salt, as they are always hyper-vigilant, hence perceiving the slightest “abuse” as a potential catastrophe.)
In addition, anger is never about the infractions of another, rather the perceived injustice to oneself! So by recognizing that though what others have done may appear to be unjust – but as all comes from a just Creator and Master of the world; hence, their evil is actually a kindness. For example, say you were minding your own business and a stranger slapped your back – instinctively, you turn around and your actual first reaction is to understand why this happened – if you see someone who looks compassionate and says, “Sorry, there was a bee about to sting you,” it will make you grateful and actually love the person in return. However, if you see someone mocking you with a bunch of cronies snickering, you may wish to punch the living daylights out of them. In other words, by recognizing that pain contains a greater good, we eliminate our anger over the injustice. The bottom line is that whenever we get angry, upset, faribled, resentful, it is always because we are attributing power to a human being, who is only a messenger from The Creator for a greater good!
The Kabbalah teaches, we should learn from Josef – for if anyone was entitled to be resentful, why his own brothers sold him as a slave, out of jealousy! Yet, when he was in a position to take revenge he said to them, “I am not G-d; though you intended evil, it was a plan from G-d, in order to feed the world!” So by attributing the “crime” to The Creator, for a greater good, he felt no resentment, and was able to continue to give with unconditional love! To be angry takes no greatness, it is a natural reaction; but to forgive takes a lot of greatness, it’s a supernatural reaction. As the colloquialism, “To err is human, to forgive is Divine.” Last, but not least, ultimately, holding onto anger is not only, as one psychologist explained it in a lecture I attended, like, “Taking poison and waiting for your enemy to die!” but is also the reason why there is evil in the world. Because as the Kabbalah teaches, we “all want to be happy and no one wants to live in pain,” but if we, G-d-forbid, hold onto resentments, then not only are we stewing, but as people – as the Talmud writes, are jealous of the good that others have – hence, the greatest jealousy that exists is not over another person’s car, beautiful home, etc., rather over their happiness. So here’s the equation of evil – “I’m miserable” vs. “You’re happy” = “I want to destroy your happiness.” (This, of course, explains the bizarre phenomena of bullying, antisemitism, terrorism, etc. Now, all this occurs subconsciously. So consciously, the jealous person sees “real evil” in whom they are jealous over; but in point of fact, they are only seeing the mind’s rationalization to fulfill the malicious intent of jealousy.)
Exercise #4: Try to think of all the people who have insulted you. If need be, write them down and write, “I forgive these people.”
Bonus: If something bad has occurred to you, write down as many positive benefits that you can conjure up that may have resulted from it.
Big Bonus: Instead of feeling anger and resentment, try to feel compassion for the soul of anyone who instead of loving is harming, for compassion eliminates anger.
Big Big Bonus: Every night before going to bed, do the first suggestion – thus eliminating any new resentments that may have cropped up.
Big Big Big Bonus: Every night before going to bed, ask yourself, “What acts of kindness and growth have I achieved today?”
Biggest Bonus: When bad people make fun of you—even if they come up with convincing arguments—you should not only ignore it, but see it as a message from The Creator that He wants you to double your positive efforts!
Chapter 5 – Gratitude
It is also true that our thoughts influence our day. If we believe we will have a good or a bad day, reality will follow suit.
The Awakening Thought
The first thought a person has when he or she wakes up sets the mood and tone for the day. By being grateful in the morning, you will create that gratitude, joy and happiness will be the consciousness of your day. This will enable you to have a great day. Some of the best times in my life were when I took a few minutes in the morning to think of the blessings I have been given and comparing my blessings to others who lack them – thus concertizing the fact that they really are worth being grateful for. This earlymorning activity made me feel on top of the world and whenever I do it, it works! I am sure you have heard the saying, “He woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” This is a true saying, for if we wake up anxious, chances are that the rest of the day will be an anxiety riddled day. However, if we consciously create gratitude in the beginning of our day, we will create the mechanism for a happy and joyous day.
Modeh Ani – Gratitude for Your Soul
Religious Jews say the following prayer immediately upon awakening: “Modeh ani l’fanecha melech chai v’kayam she’hechezarta bee nishmasi b’chemla raba emunasecha.” This prayer actually goes all the way back to the time of Abraham. In English, it translates as, “I am grateful to You, Living and Eternal King (i.e. The Creator) for graciously restoring my soul back to me – You Are Very Trustworthy!” The Kabbalistic belief is that every night the soul ascends to The Creator, and there it gives an accounting of its deeds during the day. This is consistent with what our Sages teach us, that The Creator not only judges man once a year on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New-Year, but in fact, judges us daily.
Change The Same
A story is told of an elderly water carrier who once asked the Baal Shem Tov to bless him, as his job – carrying buckets of water across his shoulders – was unfortunately causing him much physical strain. The Baal Shem Tov blessed him and presumably realized by Divine insight that his blessing would work. However, when he met the man a year later, the man was still carrying water. Yet the man came running over to the Baal Shem Tov, very grateful and full of optimism and joy in life. “Thank you for my blessing,” he said, “for although I am old, I am self-sufficient. I do not need to rely on anyone to take care of me.”
The Baal Shem Tov then said, “I now understand what it means when it states in the Talmud that a person is judged daily; for although his circumstance did not change, nevertheless, his appreciation of his circumstances did; which gave him joy, gratitude, and happiness in life!”
Finding Good in Bad, Actually Transforms Bad to Good!
I should mention a powerful teaching of the Baal Shem Tov which is very worthwhile to practice. If a person is in a difficult circumstance, he should try to find the good in it. For example, I once went through a very traumatic experience with an individual who suffers from a particular personality disorder. People suffering from this disorder believe that they are better than everyone else due to what is called “artificial morality,” rules they create in their minds and follow, believing that this makes them superior to everyone else, while their real objective is often to shame other people, preferably in some kind of public forum.
Although I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, my experience at the hands of this individual strengthened me and I would not give it up for anything in the world. It taught me more about the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, haughtiness and humility, than any other experience could have. So, by finding the good in the bad, the experience becomes good, and you continue your life with joy, happiness, and gratitude.
Blessings We Take For Granted In the West
I think that we simply don’t appreciate the blessings that we have in the Western World, because we haven’t experienced the pain of not having them. If we were to live like the majority of the world does for one week, we would thank The Creator every morning, for our healthcare systems, for our freedom, for our abundance of food, for our ability to have leisure time, for the luxury of staying warm or cool in the winter or summer respectively, for the gift of long life, for advanced medical care that ensures low infant mortality, for the prosperity that allows our children many years of education, for democracy that lets us take part in legislating the laws that affect us, and the list goes on and on…!
East Vs. West
I once worked with Russian immigrants in America, and I would often ask them, “How are you?” and invariably they would always reply with the Yiddish phrase, “Abi Gezunt,” meaning, “As long as we’re healthy, we’re happy!” Now these people had suffered many many years of persecution under the Communist regime; they had left everything behind in Russia, including their status, and were living in small apartments off government stipends, and yet they were happy as long as they were healthy. Their attitude in life was one of gratefulness for the blessings that they already had!
Last but not least, if you need to, let your mind’s eye see the difficulties of the past, or the deprivation of many in the present, and then you can truly be grateful for what The Creator has graciously bestowed upon you today.
As you wake up, read the list that you made in Exercise #1 and say, “Thank you Creator for …” (If need be, you should think of people who do not have these things and it will strengthen your gratitude for what you have. This does not mean feeling superior to them; in fact by becoming happy, you will be enabled to become a more joyous, hence giving person.)
Bonus: Additionally, it pays to mention that before we go to sleep, we should ideally: A. Say thank you for all the good that occurred to us during the day. B. We should account for our actions, speech, and thoughts during the day. Many Chassidim – disciples of Modern Jewish Mysticism – spend hours, literally making an inventory of all of their thoughts, speech, and actions – seeing if they were good or not and furthermore planning even better behavior for the morrow. C. Say the verse (part of the bedtime prayers, but the most important theme of it), “I hand over my soul to you (G-d). Please care for it, G-d of Truth.” (This is very important, for the Kabbalistic belief – as mentioned – is that the soul goes into heaven at night and depending if we did the above three things is how high it will ascend. The higher it goes, the more The Creator cares for it, protecting it from demons which pain a person at night through bad nightmares. Hence, the more refreshing and beneficial is the sleep and obviously the subsequent day.)
Chapter 6 – Unconditional Love
Sample: Barbara decided to unconditionally love her two children Miriam and Jonathan, her husband Michael, her parents Bob and Sara, her sister Esther, and her stepson Josh. Now that Barbara knows who she will love unconditionally, she needs to re-evaluate her relationship with these people. Is she a good mother, daughter, wife and sister because she believes this is the correct way to live? Meaning, that as she will give, she will receive in return?
Conditional Versus Unconditional Love
Incidentally, a psychiatrist told me that most of his patients are women who cannot come to terms with the fact that they give so much to others, while others don’t give back to them! According to both the psychiatrist and me, their giving was based on conditional love. In other words, there was an expectation of a return. And while this may be appropriate, nevertheless, such women become depressed when their conditions are not met. If a person loves another unconditionally, they will not become depressed even if they receive nothing in return, for they are happy just to love the other person!
I recently saw a mother of a child with special needs speak with the greatest respect to her child. She believes that her son has a special soul and thus, in the most kind and honorable way, she always teaches him what he can understand – and as a result, he is a loving, caring child. It is precisely when people are normal, and we believe that we can get something out of the relationship, that we subconsciously resent giving without receiving.
One of the best ways to understand another person’s need is to identify with their level of need. For example, if a man doesn’t want to spend a vacation at his in-law’s home, it is important for his wife to think about how would she feel about spending a vacation at her in-law’s home?
If she wouldn’t have a problem with that, then she should think about spending a vacation somewhere she really wouldn’t want to go, and then she can identify with the level of her husband’s displeasure when considering a vacation at her parents to be a good idea. This technique is brought out in more detail at the end of my booklet, “How to Find the Meaning of Your Life.”
The Final Hurdle
Another very important point is that just as the division of all matter is Air, Water, Earth, Fire (which also follows the kinetic theory that all matter will change, from solid to liquid to gas based on the heat applied to it), there is also a spiritual counterpart in each of our souls corresponding to these four levels: Earth refers to man’s innate drive for laziness, as earth is heavy and stays in one place, Earth also includes our innate tendency to feel sad – and even depressed – when things don’t go our way.
Fire refers to man’s innate tendency to enjoy supremacy over others. This character trait is unique to the human “animal” as other creatures will only fight for hunger or other instinctual and survival related needs. They have no pathology that leads them to desire supremacy over others, which was the aim of kings and queens for thousands of years. It is only in modern times that the concept that no man should lord over others has come to the fore. Needless to say, this tendency is still very much innate within people – although it is frowned upon in democratic societies. Air refers to our desire for “fun,” comedy, jokes, and other frivolous activities. Most of what we see on television or in the movies today falls into this category – it is mindless entertainment meant to squander our time on something that is “there but intangible,” containing no real value for you, or anyone else for that matter. Water refers to man’s innate drive for pleasure: through eating, listening to good music, intercourse, etc. We all have elements of earth, fire, air and water in us; however, each person’s soul has a predominance of one of these elements. For example, thankfully, I innately love helping people and I have strong feelings of compassion towards people (which is a real blessing, for this characteristic has to be developed within those who lack it naturally, and it is not always an easy task). Unfortunately, I also have an extreme tendency to laziness/ earth. If I do not conquer my tendency to be lazy, it automatically eliminates my tendency for compassion, for compassion requires going out and doing something to alleviate another person’s pain, and laziness abhors action.
Now, in terms of the tendency of “earth people” to get depressed, here is some good advice to overcome depression: In life, we have a choice. We can see ourselves as the master of our lives and hence hate every stupidity (and as there is much) that we do (This is also why people get depressed, because they are angry at themselves for failing, or not managing to give themselves what they want.) or, we can see The Creator as the Master! As the Rebbe wrote to a Survivor suffering survivor’s guilt, that belief in the Creator’s role as the Supreme and Sole manager of reality would naturally eliminate thoughts which create unrealistic expectations.
Overcoming Our Innate Weakness
The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches that if we can discover our innate weakness and conquer it, then all of our other weaknesses will fall like a house of cards. According to one of the greatest Jewish scholars, the Rambam, the method to conquering a person’s weak trait is for him or her to constantly oppose their tendency. For example, if one is innately lazy, one must make an effort to be active and do things. And the more one is proactive and occupies oneself with productive activities, the more each and every action helps one to succeed to break this negative tendency.
The same applies to someone who is addicted to pleasure, making it his or her G-d. The more he or she refrains from pleasure, the more control they get over their life. The person who is always a comedian should become more serious and realize that life is not a game – it is about doing acts of goodness and kindness. (Naturally, one can help someone else through comedy, but is the focus on helping another or on comedy?) The more serious the person gets, the less he or she will feel compelled to be frivolous and waste away their life. The final innate negative desire is arrogance, or Fire, which is to some extent the greatest evil of the four. For arrogance immediately precludes feeling compassion for others. For as you feel superior to people, you cannot feel compassion for them, much as you don’t have compassion on an ant that you step on as you walk down the sidewalk. The arrogant person must try to be humble, constantly telling him or herself that everyone else is far better than he or she is, and that even if he or she has achieved, they should attribute that success to The Creator.
Moses was, according to the Bible, the humblest man who ever lived, and yet he was a great leader, a great ethicist, and in fact the person endowed with the most prophecy ever, according to the Bible. So how did he maintain his humility? The Jewish Sages teach that Moses believed that The Creator granted him great gifts; however, if someone else had had the same gifts, the other person would have surpassed his goodness and kindness. Truly, we can never know if we are really living up to our potential! As humility is the only conduit to G-d; hence, precisely the humblest man was also endowed with the greatest prophecy. In general, whenever it comes to acts of goodness and kindness, we should never grow conceited, which would probably make the act a failure rather than a success. Rather, we should look up to the saints of the world, who do endless acts of goodness and kindness, and realize that we have just begun our journey into holiness – and the road is endless! Additionally, never think you are superior to the people who receive from you, for without having whom to serve, we basically have no purpose to our existence!
In summary: The main thing is to love, for then you not only do a world of good for others, you do a world of good for yourself!
Overcoming our innate weakness is the greatest possible achievement; far more difficult than scaling Mount Everest, building a company, or any scientific or intellectual endeavor. For when a person surmounts obstacles in a journey, every obstacle is seen as the antithesis (a boulder in the road) to the goal. However, when one is conquering one’s own innate tendency, every time he or she fights themselves, they are at a crossroads – “Should I do the right thing or follow my instinct?!” To conquer oneself – to gain self-control – is the purpose of life, and what makes all subsequent achievements, dear and valuable to you, to your society, and most importantly, to your loving Father in Heaven!
Exercise #6: Resolve to love unconditionally the people you have chosen (Exercise #3) and try to do acts of goodness and kindness during the day for them.
Bonus: I was invited to give this course at a company in Manhattan, and the CEO of the company asked, “How can I actualize daily, acts of goodness and kindness for those whom I choose to love unconditionally?” The Rabbi who introduced me to this company made the following practical, relevant and simple suggestion: 1. Think something positive about whomever you have chosen to unconditionally love, daily. 2. Say something positive to them – like call your wife or husband or child or best-friend and say – “I just want you to know that I am thinking about you or, ‘I love you!’” 3. Buy them a small present, for it shows them (especially your wife) that they mean the world to you, for you have taken some of your time which you could have spent selfishly and instead acted selflessly!
To Summarize – This book is based on how to live the motto of The Holy Baal Shem Tov, founder of Chassidus, “Modern Jewish Mysticism:”
Fear no one nor anything but have reverence for your G-d.
Love everyone with all the fire of your heart and soul, no matter who they are or what they’ve done.
In the end of the day, the genius of the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching is that instead of allowing our mind to be dominated by our instinctual desires, (and even worse, G-d-forbid, fear or hate – the cause of all malice in the world) our mind, through using the various ideas mentioned throughout this book, becomes the programmer of our emotions: conquering fear, eliminating resentments, and the pillbox, producing the happy, loving (hence giving) and perhaps most importantly – humble (and forgiving) person.