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Weekly Message

Your Drug of Choice!

It was a first for me, and hopefully a “last” as well. Last Friday, just before Shabbos, I began experiencing a severe allergic reaction to a medication that I started on that day. Magically 30 hours later, when realizing that the drug is the source of my symptoms, the doctor switched it out for a different med, and I was healed. There was nothing wrong with the medication, I’m sure it’s helped, perhaps saved, millions of people when plagued with various infections, but for this 36 year old Jew, it wasn’t the right fit. Just because the drug is awesome, doesn’t mean it’s for me.

This week’s double Torah portion, Acharei-Kedoshim, teaches us seventy-nine of the six-hundred-and-thirteen Mitzvot of the Torah. Some instructions relate to our relationship with G-d, some to the service in the Holy Temple, and so many to our interpersonal relationships. G-d is the doctor, we are the patient and the Torah is our prescription. Are there are other medications in the world? Sure! People have found meaning in many different venues from Zen Buddhism to Hare Krishnas, but for a Jew? We’d have an allergic reaction, as our wholesomeness, our core expression and our holy connection can only come about with the G-d given Jewish meds which is JUDAISM.

This Sunday marks Pesach Sheini, the second Passover, which was a day that came “by the people, for the people”. They demanded a second chance to bring the Passover offering in the Tabernacle, Moses consulted with G-d, G-d agreed, and it was established. It teaches the importance of second chances and that inherently it really isn’t ever too late. Just because you spent so much time taking the non-Jewish meds, just because you’ve visited more shrines than Shuls, just because you’ve enjoyed more gospel music than Chassidc melodies, doesn’t mean it’s too late to change. Let’s resolve together to take only the meds prescribed by our Healer in Chief, Almighty G-d. If you feel sick after ingesting the Jewish med, it’s probably not Judaism!

No Jew is ever allergic to Judaism!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

Speak like a priest!

Today, the 5th of Iyar, our family is celebrating Menny’s fifth birthday. When I reflect on my boy, an energetic bundle of joy, and how he’s grown, naturally, it forces me into introspection.   I’m no “expert” on parenting; I’m just a father trying to be the best I can be to our beloved five children, learning from my many mistakes and always open to learning new techniques for the betterment of the father/child relationship. I’ve been taught that how I speak to the kiddos is so important. The tone I use, the facial expressions I show, the words I express, can make all the difference.

In this week’s double Torah portion, Tazria-Metzora, we read about gossipers and their consequence of Tzaraat, a supernatural dose of blotches that plague the home, clothing and skin. The individual is excommunicated and after a week in isolation, awaits the Kohen’s proclamation of his purity.  Why the Kohen? The Prophet Malachi says, “For a priest's lips shall guard knowledge, and teaching should be sought from his mouth, for he is a messenger of the Lord of Hosts”. The Talmud tells of an incident with three priests in the Temple, each of whom received a portion of the showbread. Since there were many priests, each one received only a small amount. One said to them: I received a bean-sized portion. And one said: I received an olive-bulk. And one said: I received a portion the size of a lizard’s tail. They investigated the background of the latter priest, who used the imagery of an impure creeping animal, and they found a trace of disqualification in his background.

A Kohen teaches by example how to speak properly.

Like a father trying to parent, one may think it’s impossible to change, but just because your mother was a yenta and you love being the one to report the gossip, as all ears are attuned to you, doesn’t mean you can’t change. Henry Thomas Buckle wrote “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people”. If we hang out with priests, people with a more refined and healthy form of speech, it can, and will, change us for the better. If the only thing two people have in common is info on a third party, you need to discover more meaning in your life, so you have better things to talk about.

Ending gossiping; one social scene at a time! 

 

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

 

Emotional Intelligence

Recently, Chavie and I had the opportunity to attend a one-day seminar about self-awareness and EQ/EI. If you’re like me, it’s a new concept, so let me give you the abbreviated version: EQ/EI reflects a person's ability to empathize with others: identify, evaluate, control and express one’s own emotions; perceive, and assess others' emotions; use emotions to facilitate thinking, understand emotional meanings. Naturally, the ideas we were taught were very familiar as they are consistently addressed in Chassidic thought, but having them brought to life, was eye opening and hopefully life changing.

Interestingly, this week’s Torah portion, Shemini, shares two moments of incredible self-awareness, one exhibited by Moses and the other by his brother Aaron. When Aaron, the newly appointed High Priest, hears the news of the untimely passing of Nadav and Avihu, two of his four sons, the Torah says, “And Aaron was silent”. Yes, he recognized their sin of drunkenness in the Holy of Holies, he understood that they experienced spiritual ecstasy and even heard the encouraging words uttered by his younger brother Moses, who said, “This is what the Lord spoke, when He said, 'I will be sanctified through those near to Me, and before all the people I will be glorified”. Yet, Aaron was self-aware of his feelings, his subjectivity and his brokenness and he just remained silent.

Later in the story, Moses condemns Aaron’s two living sons, Elazar and Itamar, for what he perceived as a violation of the tabernacle rules of inauguration. When Moses is reminded of the actual Halacha, G-d’s exact will under the circumstances, he realizes that he was mistaken, his anger was unfounded and after Aaron responds to his rebuke, we are told “Moses heard this, and it pleased him.”. He was adequately self-aware not to take it personal or defend the indefensible, he simply acknowledged his mistake and publicly declared the correct ruling. Moses and Aaron both understood that they aren’t perfect and the more thoughtful they are, the better person/leader they can be.

Having a high IQ is awesome; balanced with a high EQ, is healthy!

 

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

 

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