Monday, September 18, 2017

This year Rosh Hashana Begins Wednesday night, September 20, 2017 - ends Friday, September 22, 2017 at sunset ...Shabath follows the Holiday

A Very Very Simple Guide for Rosh Hashana Celebration
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(This Document contains G-d's Name, therefore it may NOT be thrown out)

Lighting of the Candles

Women (or if there isn't a woman in the house, the head of the household), light candles.

Blessings for the evenings September 20, 2017 (6.41 pm Philadelphia Time) and September 21, 2017(after 8:09 Philadelphia Time):
1) Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam asher ki-deshanu be-mitzvo-tav ve-tzvi-vanu le-hadlik ner shel Yom Tov Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to light the candle of the Holiday.

[Note: When reciting the following blessing on the second night of the holiday, one should have in mind the new fruit which one will subsequently be eating after Kiddush.]

2) Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, L-ord our G-d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.

Evening Kiddush for Rosh Hashanah

Kiddush is recited while holding a cup of kosher wine or grape juice. (Challah should be on the table - covered)

1st prayer:

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe

borei p'ri hagafen (Amein)
Who creates the fruit of the vine (Amen)

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe

asher bachar banu mikol am v'rom'manu mikol lashon
who has chosen us from among all people, and exalted us above every tongue

v'kid'shanu b'mitz'votav vatiten lanu Adonai Eloheinub'ahavah
and sanctified us with His commandments,and you gave us, Lord our God, with love

et yom
with love this day of

hazikaron hazeh yom t'ru'ah
remembrance, a day of shofar blowing

mik'ra kodesh zeikher litzi'at mitz'rayim
a holy convocation, a memorial of the exodus from Egypt

ki vanu vachar'ta v'otanu kidash'ta mikol ha'amim
Indeed, You have chosen us and made us holy from all peoples

ud'var'kha emet v'kayam la'ad
and Your word is true and established for ever

Barukh atah Adonai melekh al kol ha'aretz
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King over all the world,

m'kadeish yisra'eil v'yom hazikaron. (Amein)
Who sanctifies Israel and the Day of Remembrance. (Amen)

2nd prayer:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לזְּמַן הַזֶּה.

Barukh atah Ad-onai, El-oheinu, melekh ha'olam shehecheyanu v'kiyimanu v'higi'anu laz'man hazeh.
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season (Amen)


On the second night of Rosh Hashanah, a "new fruit," i.e., a seasonal fruit which we have not yet tasted since its season began, should be present on the table when the holiday candles are kindled and during the kiddush. While reciting the Shehecheyanu blessing after candle-lighting and after the kiddush, one should have the new fruit in mind.
This fruit is eaten following the kiddush, before washing for bread. Before partaking of the fruit we say the following blessing:
Ba-ruch a-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam bore pri ha-etz.
Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.


ROUND Challah in Honey

Immediately following the kiddush (and on the second night, the eating of the new fruit), we perform the ritual washing for bread. Fill a large cup with water. Pass the cup to your left hand and pour three times over your right hand. Repeat by pouring on your left hand. As you wipe your hands recite the blessing:
Baruch atah A-donoy, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam, asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al netilat yadayim.
Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who sanctified with His Mitzvahs and commanded us on washing our hands.
When everyone has returned to the table, we raise the two challah loaves and recite the blessing:
Ba-ruch atah A-do-nay, E-lo-hei-nu Melech Ha-Olam, hamotzie le-chem min ha-are-tz.
[Blessed are You, L-rd, our G‑d, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.]
Cut the challah, dip it in honey, and have a bite. Pass around pieces and make sure everyone does the same.

Apples and Honey

During Rosh Hashanah, it is traditional to eat apples dipped in honey, to symbolize our hopes for a "sweet" new year. The apple is dipped in honey, the blessing for eating tree fruits is recited, the apple is tasted, and then the apples and honey prayer is recited.

 Barukh atah Ad-onai, El-oheinu, melekh ha'olam borei p'ri ha'eitz.
Blessed are you, L-rd, our G-d, king of the universe who creates the fruit of the tree. (Everyone says Amen)

Take a bite from the apple dipped in honey, then continue with the following:
y'hi ratzon mil'fanekha Adonai el-oheinu vei'-lohei avoteinu sh't'chadeish aleinu shanah tovah um'tukah
May it be Your will, L-rd our G-d and God of our ancestors that you renew for us a good and sweet year.
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Symbolic Foods

A head of a fish is served. We say “May it be your will Eternal God that we should be at the head  and not at the tail”.

A pomegranate is eaten, symbolizing our wish to have a year full of mitzvot and good deeds. We say “May it be your will Eternal God that our year is filled with good deeds as a pomegranate is filled with luscious seeds”.
There is a custom to eat fish on Rosh Hashana. Fish multiply in great number. They never sleep. They swim in water. We hope the year will be one of plenty, just as fish are extremely fruitful. Just as fish never sleep, we hope to maintain a constant awareness of our mission in life. Since fish are underwater the evil eye cannot penetrate the depths, and we wish to be free of any negative wishes.

We also eat Leeks or Cabbage. These vegetables are known as karsi, related to the word karet, to cut off or destroy. As we eat it we say “May it be your will Eternal God that our enemies will be destroyed.”.
Beets are known as “silka,” related to the word “siluk,” meaning removal. The adversaries referred to in the prayer before eating the beet are the spiritual roadblocks created by the past year’s missteps that must be removed before a sweet New Year is granted. We say “May it be your will Eternal God that our adversaries will be removed.”
Dates are known as “tamri” is related to the word “tamri,” meaning consume or finish. This food is similar to the beets and leeks in that it is eaten with the intent that all enemies will end their detrimental wrath. We say “ May it be your will Eternal God that our enemies will be finished.
Throughout the meal, it is customary to also eat foods whose names in the vernacular allude to blessing and prosperity. For example, many have the custom of eating carrots because in Yiddish the word for carrots, meren, means to multiply.

Rosh Hashanah Cuisine

On Rosh Hashanah it is customary not to eat foods which are sour or tart (the gefilte fish will have to do without the horseradish...). Instead, the focus is on sweet foods, symbolizing our desire to have a sweet year, blessings and abundance. It is also customary not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah, as the numerical value of the Hebrew word for nuts ("egoz") is the same as the Hebrew word for sin ("chet").

Blessing After Meal
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who, in His goodness, provides sustenance for the entire world with grace, with kindness, and with mercy. He gives food to all flesh, for His kindness is everlasting. Through His great goodness to us continuously we do not lack [food], and may we never lack food, for the sake of His great Name. For He, benevolent G-d, provides nourishment and sustenance for all, does good to all, and prepares food for all His creatures whom He has created, as it is said: You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Blessed are You, L-rd, who provides food for all.
We offer thanks to You, L-rd our G-d, for having given as a heritage to our ancestors a precious, good and spacious land; for having brought us out, L-rd our G-d, from the land of Egypt, and redeemed us from the house of bondage; for Your covenant which You have sealed in our flesh; for Your Torah which You have taught us; for Your statutes which You have made known to us; for the life, favor, and kindness which You have graciously bestowed upon us; and for the food we eat with which You constantly nourish and sustain us every day, at all times, and at every hour.
For all this, L-rd our G-d, we give thanks to You and bless You. May Your Name be blessed by the mouth of every living being, constantly and forever, as it is written: When you have eaten and are satiated, you shall bless the L-rd your G-d for the good land which He has given you. Blessed are You, L-rd, for the land and for the sustenance.
Have mercy, L-rd our G-d, upon Israel Your people, upon Jerusalem Your city, upon Zion the abode of Your glory, upon the kingship of the house of David Your anointed, and upon the great and holy House over which Your Name was proclaimed. Our G-d, our Father, our Shepherd, nourish us, sustain us, feed us, and provide us with plenty; and speedily, L-rd our G-d, grant us relief from all our afflictions. L-rd our G-d, please do not make us dependent upon the gifts of mortal men nor upon their loans, but only upon Your full, open, holy, and generous hand, that we may never be shamed or disgraced. As the leader recites aloud the words Remember…for good life in the following paragraph, the others respond Amen as indicated.
Our G-d and G-d of our fathers, may there ascend, come, and reach; be seen, accepted, and heard; recalled and remembered before You the remembrance and recollection of us, the remembrance of our fathers, the remembrance of Mashiach the son of David Your servant, the remembrance of Jerusalem Your holy city, and the remembrance of all Your people the House of Israel, for deliverance, well-being, grace, kindness, mercy, good life, and peace, on this day of the festival of Remembrance. Remember us on this [day], L-rd our G-d, for good (Amen); be mindful of us on this [day] for blessing (Amen); help us on this [day] for good life (Amen). With the promise of deliverance and compassion, spare us and be gracious to us, and have mercy upon us and deliver us, for our eyes are directed to You; for You, G-d, are a gracious and merciful King. And rebuild Jerusalem the holy city speedily in our days. Blessed are You, L-rd, who in His mercy rebuilds Jerusalem. Amen.
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, benevolent G-d, our Father, our King, our Strength, our Creator, our Redeemer, our Maker, our Holy One, the Holy One of Jacob, our Shepherd, the Shepherd of Israel, the King who is good and does good to all, each and every day. He has done good for us, He does good for us, and He will do good for us; He has bestowed, He bestows, and He will forever bestow upon us grace, kindness, and mercy; relief, salvation and success; blessing and deliverance; consolation, livelihood and sustenance; compassion, life, peace, and all goodness; and may He never cause us to lack any good. May the Merciful One reign over us forever and ever. May the Merciful One be blessed in heaven and on earth. May the Merciful One be praised for all generations, and pride Himself in us forever and to all eternity, and glorify Himself in us forever and ever. May the Merciful One provide our livelihood with honor.
May the Merciful One break the yoke of exile from our neck, and may He lead us upright to our land. May the Merciful One send abundant blessing into this house and upon this table at which we have eaten. May the Merciful One send us Elijah the prophet—may he be remembered for good—and let him bring us good tidings, deliverance, and consolation. May the Merciful One bless my father, my teacher, the master of this house, and my mother, my teacher, the mistress of this house; them, their household, their children, and all that is theirs; us, and all that is ours. Just as He blessed our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, “in all things,” “by all things,” with “all things,” so may He bless all of us together (the children of the Covenant) with a perfect blessing, and let us say, Amen. From heaven, may there be invoked upon him and upon us such merit as will bring enduring peace. May we receive blessing from the L-rd and kindness from G-d our deliverer, and may we find grace and good understanding in the eyes of G-d and man.
May the Merciful One let us inherit that day which is all good. May the Merciful One grant us the privilege of reaching the days of the Mashiach and the life of the World to Come. He is a tower of deliverance to His king, and bestows kindness upon His anointed, to David and his descendants forever. He who makes peace in His heavens, may He make peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.
Fear the L-rd, you His holy ones, for those who fear Him suffer no want. Young lions are in need and go hungry, but those who seek the L-rd shall not lack any good. Give thanks to the L-rd for He is good, for His kindness is everlasting. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Blessed is the man who trusts in the L-rd, and the L-rd will be his security.

Important Addition for this Year:
Since Rosh Hashana goes straight into Shabbath, in order to cook for Shabbath one must perform an Eruv Tavshilin ritual.
What is the procedure for Eruv Tavshilin?
Before the beginning of Rosh Hashana one sets aside two types of food, one cooked and one baked. If one cannot obtain both items, a cooked item alone would be acceptable but a baked item alone would not suffice. The cooked item must be at least the size of a large olive (approximately half the size of a chicken’s egg) and the baked item should be at least the size of a chicken’s egg.
 "With this Eruv it should be permitted for us to bake, cook, insulate food, light a candle, and do any need from Yom Tov for Shabbat".


FAST OF GEDALIAH -SUNDAY, September 24, 2017
Fast begins at 5:24AM and ends at 7:35 PM
This is a public Fast Day on which we commemorate the murder of Gedaliah ben Achikam, the governor appointed by the Babylonian king as ruler of the Jews in Israel.
The days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are called the Ten Days of Repentanace. During these ten days, it is appropriate to do as many good deeds as possible. The Zodiac sign of this month of Tishrei is a pair of scales. Every Jew must look at these scales as though they are balanced and attempt to tip them in his favor through acts of loving kindness.  

For more information on Rosh Hashanah go to:

 Mystical Observances to Bring More Joy to a New Year

By Rebbitzin Yamima Mizrachi

• It’s vital not to get angry on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Don’t get stuck in worry, anger and definitely not in sadness. The way the year begins, is the way it will flow the coming year. Don’t allow yourself to speak badly.

• Before sitting down at the table look at everyone’s eyes and bless them each individually, feel forgiveness for everyone around you. Allow love and peace to enter your heart. Everyone should say a ‘L’Chaim’ out loud and bless each other with complete joy.

• The Rosh Hashanah the table should be filled with an abundance of colors, different types of foods.

• Apples & Honey: Use red apples, it is for an omen to find one’s soul mate/and for peace between spouses and for getting pregnant. It is an special holy time, before eating the apple, smell the apple and ask for whatever you want. It was at this time that Yakov received the blessing from his father Yitzchak. When he smelled Yakov he smelled the fragrance of Garden of Eden, of the apple, and even though he was undeserving of the blessing, due to the fact that it was supposed to go to his evil brother Esav, he still received it. Ask for anything you wish.

• Pomegranate: Ask G-d to bring out your potential. We all have never ending potential, do we use it all? Ask Almighty for help. Just like it’s hard to take apart the seeds, please G-d help us realize our potential and be who we are meant to be.

• Leeks, Beets, Dates: Ask G-d to take away any feelings of resentment, anger, bitterness towards anyone.  Ask Hashem to help us throw these feelings away from ourselves and remove them from our heart. Ask to enable you to be able to rebuild your feelings and relationship with these people.

• Fish Head: Ask G-d that you should lead your household and not anyone else (like our children who tend to control us…) when looking at the fish, ask Hashem to protect you from the evil eye.

• Get up early on Rosh Hashanah; this blesses the coming year with ease. A year that your wishes will be fulfilled quickly. Try to postpone your afternoon rest until after 1:00 PM.

• Very important to dress festively, even wear white and be HAPPY‼

• Before hearing the shofar accept upon yourselfLove your neighbor as you love yourself.  If you hold a grudge towards someone, the shofar will not be able to ascend and sweeten the judgments.

• Very important to shed a tear during the shofar and to wipe the tear over your forehead (to wipe away transgressions). This serves as a shield for the entire year against any bad things i.e. illness. Whoever is able to shed a tear then can be rest assured that she is being judged at that moment!

• Don’t eat anything sour or spicy on Rosh Hashanah, only sweet foods.  Everything that you do makes an impact on the entire year. Don’t use walnuts or black grapes.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -other suggestions:

1) Prepare table early in the afternoon, it is an omen that no troubles will come upon you the entire year.
2) Try not to speak idle talk, the morning of Rosh Hashanah. If possible fast as well; this way 1/3 of your transgressions will be wiped away.
3) Candles for Rosh Hashanah: before lighting give 18 of ‘something (coins, bills) to charity box: 18 cents, 18 dollars, etc. This serves as an atonement. Ask Hashem that if something bad is supposed to happen, let this charity stand as a protector against it.
4) Buy a new knife and use it on Rosh Hashanah eve to cut open the Challah and apple. It is an omen for a long life and for financial success.
5) Player after Meal: Say it with enthusiasm and joy, it is a good luck for financial abundance

6) Recite the Tehilim (Psalms of David) specifically Psalms 1-4 before sleeping on both nights to prevent bad dreams.
7) Buy a new dress/clothing for Rosh Hashanah.


I served in the Israeli Navy in a submarine. Under the water, the means of communication is with the Morse code. (Morse code is a signal system comprised of sounds. Two sharp beeps represents one letter, two long beeps is another letter. One long beep and one short one is a third letter, and so on.) I was an expert in the Morse code. I could send and decipher messages very quickly. "A couple of years after serving in the navy (and after spending a long time in India) I saw an advertisement: The army was looking for a Morse code expert to be in charge of several submarines. To apply for the job, we had to be at a certain office between 10:00 and 12:00 in the morning. I arrived at 11:50. I saw a packed room with applicants, but no one was being called inside. There was music was playing in the background and I sat down for a few moments, and listened. Then I got up, brazenly opened the door to the office and said, 'I came for the interview." "There are many people waiting in line ahead of you," the secretary said. "And you just came. Wait your turn." "But I didn’t listen to her. I walked into the room and talked with the person who was in charge. After speaking for a few moments, I was hired for the job." The interviewer went out to the waiting room and told everyone that they can go home. "Thank you all for coming and I'm sorry about the delay. We've already chosen someone. You can all go home." "It isn't fair. This man came in last. Why did you interview him before us?" "Did you pay attention to the music that's playing? Listen carefully. Don’t you get it? It is in Morse code and it's saying, 'If you've come for the interview, just open the door and come inside.' This man heard the message. You didn’t hear, so you're obviously not fluent enough in the language." That's how the irreligious man in the hospital understood the meaning of shofar (and we're sharing it here because his interpretation is beautiful and true). The shofar is speaking a language. It's telling us, "Just open the door and come inside. Change your ways and improve your connection with G-d." We only need to understand the language of the shofar and understand what it's telling us. One person waiting in the waiting room said, "I actually heard the Morse code in the music, but I decided not to open the door because I saw that no one else was." "That's not a valid excuse," the interviewer told him. "If you heard the message, you should have come in. Why do you care what other people are doing?" Similarly, concerning the shofar, it will be inexcusable to say, "I heard the shofar's message, I understood that it was calling me, but I decided not to since I don’t see other people repenting." That's not a valid excuse. If you understand the shofar's message, you should open the door and come close to Almighty God, regardless of what others are doing.

Monday, August 21, 2017

When There is a Will....

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A group of lecturers went to Rome to give a few lectures about Judaism. One lecture was canceled and the main speaker decided to take a tour of Rome.

Late in the afternoon he reached the Jewish section of Rome and went into a kosher restaurant to eat. A moment before he sat down to eat, someone turned to him and asked if he happened to have Tefillin with him (phylacteries used for prayer). It happened to be that there was a Jewish boy outside who wanted to put on Tefillin. The Rabbi took his Tefillin bag and went outside to find the boy. He scanned the area and saw a bicycle rider covered with tattoos from head to toe standing next to his vehicle.  When the Rabbi called out: “Anyone here want Tefillin?” in an instant the boy left the bicycle and ran to get the bag in order to be able to pray before the sunset.

The boy seemed to be an expert in putting the Tefillin on and after he was done, the Rabbi smiled and asked why it is so important to fulfill this commandment. The boy replied: “I know I don’t look like someone who puts on Tefillin, but you should know that it has been many years that I decided to put on Tefillin and I haven’t missed a day since.” The Rabbi was very impressed and asked where was the boy's own Tefillin...did he lose it? The boy explained that while he did decide to pray with Tefillin every day, he doesn't observe Shabbat. “I live in Tel Aviv and I came here to ride in a two-week bike tour and we ride on Shabbats. As long as the Tefillin are in the closet in Tel Aviv and I ride on Shabbat then it is not so bad, but if the Tefillin were with me and I ride on Shabbat then this would be a lack of respect for the Tefillin since it is forbidden to carry around Tefillin on Shabbat. I made a deal with G-d before I left: ‘I won't bring the Tefillin with me but I need Him to supply me with the Tefillin every day.” The Rabbi was stunned for it was by complete chance that he was at this restaurant. If the lecture was not canceled then he would not be there. The fact that the Tefillin bag was with him was also a strange 'coincidence.' The Rabbi then asked the boy what he will do tomorrow. The boy laughed and said: “Don’t you get it? Every day there was someone else, tomorrow I return to Israel and today was my last day here and you were the last messenger sent to me by the Creator!”

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Changed by Caring

Many years ago a young woman I'll call Robin was admitted to Gateway out of prison where she was jailed for repeatedly committing crimes to support her narcotics habit, some of those crimes fairly ugly. Her therapist at the center took great interest in her and told me that it was imperative we find a long term facility for Robin rather than sending her back out on the street. She was certain that if Robin was released from our relatively short program that she would relapse, violate her probation, and end up once again in prison.

I found a program for Robin which could provide residential treatment for a year. However Robin refused to hear of it.

We periodically hold meetings with staff and patients where we gather to discuss various issues and air grievances. At one such meeting, with Robin in attendance, the director threw the room open to anyone who had something to share. After some silence, Robin's therapist blurted out that she was going to quit. She began to cry. She went on to say that she had put her guts into Robin and she was positive Robin would not stay clean if she left treatment. Rather than watch her patient destroy herself, the therapist was determined to quit.

At this point Robin rose, walked across the room and put her arm around her therapist whose despondency persisted. Many of the patients and staff members tried to cajole her into going on for more treatment but Robin remained adamant. It was quite a role reversal with the therapist crying and Robin comforting her.

A few days later the therapist found me in my office and said, "Something about Robin has changed. I think she can make it on her own as an outpatient after all." Indeed, Robin left the facility, attended recovery meetings and remained out of jail.

I wondered just what had worked for Robin and at a recovery meeting I heard her tell her story: she had been raised in several foster homes. "No one had ever really cared for me," she said. "I got to feel useless, a burden to everyone. I hated the world for treating me like a worthless piece of junk.

"I didn't believe anyone could care for me. When my therapist cried over my refusal to go for long term treatment, worrying about what might happen to me, it was the first time in my life that anyone ever really cared about what might happen to me. I couldn't believe her feelings were for real and for a while I continued to test her sincerity. When I realized her caring was genuine it gave me hope that maybe the world was not as cruel or uncaring as I thought."

Robin's therapist cared for her and not only within the artifice of the therapist patient connection. Caring for another is a gift, showing that feeling is a good deed. The connection that results from this sharing of feeling forms an unbreakable bond. 

(©2017. Printed with permission from Rabbi Baruch Lederman, author of Shulweek  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

5 Steps to a Happier Life


Change your attitude, change your life.

A friend confided that she wakes up each morning with a tight feeling in her chest. “The news is so frightening, life and family pressures pull me, and sometimes I just can’t take it anymore.” It is easy to fall into negativity but we can help ourselves become happier and more positive.
While there are certain situations we cannot change, our attitude and spirit can most definitely influence our moods. When we focus on transforming our outlook we breathe new energy into our daily lives. If you want to be a happier person, begin by identifying where you can change.

1. Happiness is Our Choice

It is time to stop pointing fingers. Blaming others, being the martyr in a relationship, or thinking that it’s always someone else’s fault is a waste of our time and energy. We can accuse our boss, spouse, mother in law, or ‘karma’ for our unhappiness. Or we can decide that we choose our feelings, and no one can force us to choose misery. Once we accept that happiness is a choice, we begin to own our life. The moment we realize that this is true we start taking responsibility for our actions and moods. Life is too short to walk around in a chronic state of unhappiness.

2. Stop Expecting

We create our own obstacles by expecting behaviors and actions from others and then being let down. Once we stop anticipating we can move on and grow wiser. Too often we feel slighted or overlooked while in reality we caused our own bad feelings with unrealistic hopes.
A mother of teens shared that she is constantly being disappointed by her own mother. Birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations go by without being acknowledged. Every conversation is a self-centered dialogue. Here is this woman, already a mom of grown kids herself, finding herself lost in child-like emotions because her mother cannot meet her expectations.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if things were different? Of course it would be. But her mother is not changing and that’s a fact.
After years of hinting, discussing, and analyzing the bottom line is that the only way to stop feeling frustrated is to stop expecting alternative behavior. If this mom can take her experience and use it to acknowledge her own children with love and attention, then at least the experience will have been purposeful.

3. Invest in Friendships

Ethics of the Fathers teaches us to “Acquire for yourself a friend.” Our sages recognize how vital companionship is to our quality of life. Hundreds of Facebook friends don’t count. One good friend, who is loyal, kind, wishes you well, and shows good character is all you need.
But time creates distance. We become obsessed with our careers, engrossed in parental duties, busy with balancing budgets and responsibilities while good friends are left on the wayside. Sometimes we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if we have invested enough hours and energy into our relationships.
Spouses count as friends too. If all we do is talk about the kids, problems, and credit card bills we have failed to cultivate the most cherished ingredient of marriage. Love cannot grow without nourishing the friendship between husband and wife.
Our burdens become lighter and our joys become sweeter when we share them with friends. Don’t wake up one day to realize that you have lost touch and taken the best people in your life for granted.

4. Put the Past Behind You

Stop living life while looking in the rear view mirror. We bring ourselves down when we can’t let go of past hurts and mistakes. Allow yourself to say goodbye to the chaos that has hounded you. This takes inner courage and strength. But if you continue to hold on to the pain you will never see yourself as a potent force in your life. You are grieving, hurting, and aching but you are not living.
We are either the sons of our past or fathers of our future.
Victor Frankl explained that we are either the sons of our past or fathers of our future. “When we are no longer able to change a situation –we are challenged to change ourselves.”
I often meet people who tell me that it is impossible for them to be a good father or mother because their parent was such a failure. Instead of working on parenting skills they opt to walk away from their families and spend years talking about what dysfunctional parents they had. A new generation is being raised and there is another vacuum in the place where love and guidance should lead. What an awful way to live.
You can break the cycle and fix the mess if you can make peace with your past. Ask yourself this question: How can I make my today better than my yesterday? Give yourself real goals to help you move on. Embrace the people in your life instead of creating barriers. If you see that you are struggling with holding onto a grudge or that you can’t move forward, realize that you are allowing your past to destroy your future. It is up to you to discover the desire within to live life better. Studying Torah’s wisdom, surrounding yourself with positive people, and concentrating on choosing emotions like tolerance and patience instead of anger and resentment are all keys to finding serenity.

5. Rid Yourself of Envy

Jealousy creates bitterness. It brings out the ugly side in a person. Envy consumes –it does not allow you to enjoy your blessings. Instead you are too busy counting everyone else’s good fortune. Resentment grows as you view others Instagram photos, track vacations on Facebook, and attend weddings and Bar Mitzvahs with a begrudging eye. “What about me?” you wonder.
You don’t realize how unpleasant your comments have become. You slowly suck the joy out of every happy occasion. By focusing on what you believe you are missing, you lose touch with the good that you have been given. Discontent eats away any satisfaction you may have had.
Many wonder about the power of ‘ayin hara’-the evil eye. Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler teaches that an evil eye only has power on someone who possesses an evil eye himself. If one has a good eye and wishes others well, he has nothing to fear. Let’s use this teaching as a catalyst to rid ourselves of envy. We will discover that contentment is within reach. How much happier we will feel!
Why continue wasting emotions and energy on negative thinking? Despite the challenges it is possible to change our attitudes and transform our lives. Happiness is within reach. You can put these five points into practice and work on making it happen.

5 Steps to a Happier Life

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Light of Second Chances

This year, May 10th is Pesach Sheini, the "Second Passover." 

Image result for second chances pictures

When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, Pesach Sheni was a "second chance" for those who were unable to bring the Passover offering the first time.

Why are second chances so important? With self-doubt, insecurity, or ambivalence we often give up trying if we fail. And yet ...

Thomas Edison struggled in school. His teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He met failure in his career too and was fired from his first two jobs. As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Eventually he succeeded and invented the light bulb, the phonograph, the wireless telegraph, and much more.

When Michael Jordan was cut from the high school basketball team he went home and cried. Over time he grew a few inches and kept practicing his skills with failure fueling his motivation. Several years later he was the NBA Rookie of the Year. In his career he won numerous championships and retired with the highest score in NBA history. Henry Ford failed five times in business. Despite being broke and a failure, he kept going and eventually founded the Ford Motor Company. His innovations in assembly lines made automobiles affordable for the first time to the average American.

Theodore Geisel’s first book was rejected by 27 publishers. If he 
hadn’t continued we still wouldn’t be reading children's classics such as “The Cat in the Hat” or “Green Eggs and Ham”.

If we understand the importance of second chances then we might ask why wasn’t Pesach Sheni included with the original discussions of the Laws of Passover? Why did we receive this second chance only later?

Rashi suggests a beautiful answer. G-d deliberately delayed the transmission of the laws of Pesach Sheini in order to reward the individuals who approached Moses with their concerns that they missed the Passover offering and wanted a second chance. 

What a great message! If you want it, sometimes you need to ask.
Pesach Sheni reminds us that “Nothing is ever lost: it’s never too late!” The previous Lubavitch Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak said, “The Second Passover means that it’s never a ‘lost case.’”There is always a Second Passover in which we can make good on what we missed the first time.

Rabbi Aryeh & Rosie Weinstein

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

It happened at 8:30

A young boy came to Rabbi Shlomo Farhi, who is involved in outreach in England and shared this story.

During the summer of 2005, a young man would travel by train to choir practice in London every Thursday morning. It was a long trip from his home, and he needed to be there at 9 a.m. One morning, as the train was just a couple of short stops away from his destination, he looked at his watch and saw it was 8:30. There was a coffee shop across the street and he figured he had plenty of time to get off, get himself a cup of coffee, and relax for a few minutes before getting back on the train and going to practice. Shortly after he exited the train, he heard a deafening explosion. He turned and saw that the train had blown up. With tears running down his face, he watched the mayhem that ensued with sirens blaring and fire engines and ambulances rushing to the scene. He tried calling home to inform his family that he was all right, but the cell phone network had crashed.
The boy started walking home, and two hours later, he walked through the door. He found his parents crying and sobbing. As soon as they saw him, they rejoiced.
       “You’re alive!” they exclaimed. “We can’t believe it! You were on that train!” They told him that there was a synchronized terror attack on the London transit system, and multiple explosions took place at 8:50 a.m.

       “No,” the boy said, “it didn’t happen at 8:50, it happened at 8:30!”
       “That’s wrong,” his parents replied. “All the news stations reported that the attack took place at 8:50.”
       The boy looked at his watch, and his mouth dropped. It still read 8:30. G-d had made his watch stop so he would think he had enough time to go get a cup of coffee, and this is how his life was saved.
       “Do you have a picture of that watch?” the Rabbi asked.
       “Rabbi,” the boy said, “if you want I will give you the watch to keep.” He ran home and brought back the watch. The Rabbi looked at it, and saw that it had stopped at 8:30.

“If I ever experience any doubts in my faith and trust in G-d at any point for the rest of my life,” the Rabbi said, “I will look at this watch and remind myself that G-d is controlling the world.”

This story was verified by Rav Shlomo Farhi, who is involved in outreach in England. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Daniel Kravitz and the Neo-Nazi

Daniel Kravitz, the owner of a secondhand furniture shop in Denver, was taken aback by the customer who entered his store. The young man was dressed like a hoodlum, with a shaved head and bare arms covered with tattoos including the venomous message, “Kill Jews!” It was clear that he was a neo-Nazi.
Daniel was relieved that his kippah was concealed beneath a cap.
He spent the next hour assisting his customer. He took the man on a tour of the shop, helped him select a decent array of furniture, granted him a generous discount, and then helped the young neo-Nazi load his purchases into a pickup truck.
After looking the man over carefully to make sure he wasn't carrying any weapons, Daniel cautiously said, “Tell me, do you really feel what all those tattoos say?”
“You bet I do,” the man replied.
“Have you ever hurt anyone?” Daniel pressed.
Daniel paused, then asked, “What do you have against the Jews?”
Daniel patiently listened until the man finished speaking. Then he removed his cap to reveal his kippah and said, “Are you aware that you have just spent an hour with a Jew? Haven’t I been honest, kind, and generous this whole time?”“They are thieves and liars!” The customer launched into a tirade, spewing out every imaginable anti-Semitic stereotype.
The neo-Nazi gaped in disbelief. “No way! You can't be a Jew, man!”
Daniel motioned to the mezuzah on the door and then showed him a siddur (prayer book) on his desk. “You can see very clearly that I am Jewish, and I’m not at all like the image you have of Jews. You have been brainwashed. I can’t believe that your parents raised you with this kind of hate. You must be estranged from them,” Daniel surmised.
The neo-Nazi grimly confirmed his suspicions; he hadn’t spoken to his parents in ten years. Just then another costumer came in and Daniel wished the neo-Nazi a good day and turned to assist the other customer.
“I need to apologize to you and thank you,” he said tearfully. “You made me reassess everything I had believed. Thanks to you, I now know what a Jew is, and I’ve decided to turn my life around. I’ve even reconnected with my parents.”Six months later, the man returned to the store, this time with a full head of hair, decent clothes and long sleeves to conceal his tattoos. To Daniel’s surprise, the man embraced him warmly.
Don't underestimate the amount of light one act can bring to the world.

This story was shared by Daniel Kravitz to Rabbi Shraga Freedman author of Living Kiddush Hashem