In this new series, we present key ideas from the Mishna in Tractate Avot, known as "Pirkei Avot" or "Ethics of the Fathers", which begins with an explanation of how our tradition was passed down from Mount Sinai. Enjoy, and Shabbat Shalom!
21 posts categorized "Jewish Ethics"
Every nation has its anti-hero. In Yiddish literature, he's called shlemazel or Kuni Lemel. In Czechoslavakia, he's called Shveyk. In the classic The Good Soldier Shveyk by Jaroslav Hashek (1923), Shveyk captures a hill and kills all the soldiers on it, only to find out that they were on his side. In Egypt, particularly in South Sinai, he's called Juha - Juha is definitely my favorite. In the IDF, we used to invent our own Juha stories. If somebody would flub-up on a maneuver (in a mission, there's no room for flubups), he'd get the title of "Juha" for a month until he bent over backwards to perform triple-good and rid himself of the stigma. At any rate, I could never get enough of Juha; he kept me laughing in situations where it was hard to smile, much less laugh. Juha is always funny, but there's deeper messages buried under his apparent stupidity. Here's a taste:
Juha was tired of everyone making fun of him and calling him stupid, so he decided to join the Egyptian Army. He figured that once he'd get a uniform, everyone would respect him. Juha went to the training base and tried to enlist. Everyone laughed at him - he even sat backwards on his donkey (see illustration at right of Juha at retirement age). He said, "Take me - I'm a sharpshooter." They gave him a rifle, and pointed him toward a target some 50 meters away. He pulled the trigger and the bullet hit a wall way off to the left of the target. Juha ran to the wall and painted a bullseye around the bullet hole. That's we call in IDF slang, "Juha's Bullseye" - it's not the real thing, bro, and it won't earn you your sharpshooter's badge...
Before we laugh, let's have a look at ourselves: how many of us live our lives just like Juha? Oh yes, the Juhas of this world provide lots of laughter up in the Heavenly Court...
If you don't want to be a Juha (don't ever call anybody that if you visit Egypt, Jordan or Lebanon, and certainly not in any Israeli Arab village or town), then today's emuna lesson and broadcast is an absolute must.
Don't miss this evening's eye-opening emuna lesson and broadcast entitled "Juha's Bullseye," which will take place, G-d willing, in the ground-floor main sanctuary of the Chut Shel Chessed Yeshiva on 13 Shmuel Hanavi Street in Jerusalem at 7PM Israel time (12 noon EDT); the shiur is open to the public - both men and women are invited. You can see today's lesson here - the broadcast, as well as our lessons posted from now on - are Mac and iPod compatible. If you tune in too early to the live broadcast link, you'll be sent to the main page of the Breslev Israel website, so try to tune in on time. If you are not able to view today's broadcast live, then G-d willing, you'll be able to see the video tape of it later this coming week on Lazer Beams.
No, we're not talking about sliced calf tongue - we're talking about guarded human tongues.
Loshon Hara - evil speech - entails transgressing up to 31 commandments of Torah at once! What's even more terrible is that Loshon Hara on Shabbat is seven times worse than during the week. Let's eradicate the time-bomb of evil speech from our lives. Here's a good reason why:
Racheli wrote about the Rack of Lamb Rabbi here. Have a look at it and whatever you do, be careful. Blessings for a great Shabbat!
It's amazing that you can find spirituality in everything if you just take a good look. Speaking of good looks, over Shabbat, David and I were arguing over where our kids got their good looks from. Obviously, he points to himself, to which I respond: "Well, that's exactly why I'm asking the question."
Great, I already forgot what I wanted to say. But you know what I didn't forget? I didn't forget that I ate too much cake on Shabbat. I look about four months pregnant right now, that's how bloated I am. All week long, I'm fine with eating healthy. I don't have any temptation to stuff my waist with processed junk and calories that are going to end up being like that annoying person that can't get the hint that you want him to go away and leave you alone, so he keeps talking and talking, totally oblivious to the fact that you've tuned him out and are trying to make it obvious, but not to the point of being rude, that you just want him to get the heck away from you. Maybe I should have written "her" instead of "him." What difference does it make these days, anyway? Gender titles have suddenly become passe and degrading.
My problem, like many others out there, is that my desire to eat the moist, chocolaty marble cake is aroused only when I see the cake. If I don't see it tempting me from its container on my counter top, then I don't desire to eat it. I just realized that maybe I should put the cake somewhere where I can't see it. But then, how will it get eaten? Do you see my dilemma?
Well, Rav Arush understands my suffering. He realizes that resisting the cake is almost The Toughest Challenge for me. As in every tough challenge, he explains that our attempts to resist our bodily urges are futile without asking Hashem to help us succeed. More specifically, Rav Arush is referring to bodily lust. Even though I'm not a man (but I could say I am if that's how I feel, because this world is so messed up,) I feel your pain, guys. I have found through personal experience that it is absolutely impossible for me to resist my sweet goodies if I don't ask Hashem to save me from my desires.
So you may be wondering why I titled my post the way I did. If you're not wondering, there's something wrong with you. Back in the '90's, I was in high school, and MC Hammer was all the rage. All of us wore those Hammer pants that looked like something fell inside of them and created this massive hanging piece of fabric between the pant legs. It almost looked like a curtain. I bet those pants could actually have been used as a curtain or as a cape in desperate situations where one needed to shield himself from the sun or suddenly fly away like a witch into the night.
Well, I distinctly remember one of Hammer's songs, which wasn't his most popular, but it was catchy enough for me to remember it 20+ years later. It's called, "We Got to Pray." The lyrics are so spiritual and profound, that I am totally convinced that Hammer was another hidden Breslever, just like Martin Luther King, as I discussed in last Monday's post. Hence, I've given him the name, MC "Hitbodedut" Hammer. Check it out!
We got to pray (pray), I said we pray (pray,) We got to pray just to make it today.
Okay, so that's half the song right there, but it gets better:
I tried and tried and tried to make a way, but nothing happened 'til that day I prayed.
We're sending this one out to the Lord, And we thank You and know we need to pray, Cause all the blessings that are good, they come from Above, And once again we want to say "THANK YOU" to the Lord with all our love.
I'm thinking about coming out with a book called "Hidden Breslevers Through the Ages." Seriously.
With the anti-God Liberal movement in full swing in the U.S., many people might believe that political correctness is a fairly recent invention. Rav Lazer Brody shows us that actually, it's not. In fact, political correctness dates all the way to the times before the Holy Temples were destroyed. Saying something Politically Incorrect certainly doesn't make you a popular person, especially not in Israel, ironically enough. What's the consequence of ignoring actions that are being done which go directly against the Torah? Oooh, you don't want to know! But, really, you do! Read the article!
Just because I like to enjoy a good piece (or three) of cake, it doesn't mean that I'm not into being healthy. Au contraire, darlings! This week, I examine a type of scientific short-sightedness that I call Medical Myopia. Instead of focusing on changing our eating habits, drug companies and even vitamin and supplement companies try to re-direct our focus to buying more magic pills or vitamins. But too much focusing on taking pills can make us feel like we don't need to change our lifestyles, if we're giving our bodies what they need through medicines, natural or otherwise. Not to mention that it makes such companies crazy rich. This cuckoo mindset is W-Wr-Wro-Wrong! I've got some shocking statistics in here for you, so definitely don't miss reading this one!
I've decided that Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen's life should be made into a movie. I've never met anyone who has had so much drama, and survived it all! You'll never believe the mess she found herself in this time, on her Walk on the Wild Side. OMG.
Chana Sherman writes about the struggle of being Torah-observant in the corporate world in The CEO Wears a Sheitel.
David Perlow is a former IDF soldier, so he knows lots about discipline, fighting, and lust. Oops, what I meant to say was that he makes a brilliant comparison in the way soldiers are forced to depend on their superiors to how we are forced to depend on Hashem, and shows us that we are all spiritual Soldiers of the Honor Guard. *This article is for men only, and by men, I mean those who were genetically born as a man and remain a man. Of course, I had to read the article so I can promote it, but for the duration of actually reading the article, I really believed that I was a man, so according to Liberals, that made me a legitimate man, even if it was only for three minutes. Now, does this make me a transgender? Is there a term for going from one gender back to another and then back again? What an avant garde idea!
Lori Steiner came up with a great invention called The Happiness Meter. It keeps you from feeling so elated that you'll predictably crash afterward, and it also keeps you from falling into a depression. How does it work? Well, I didn't invent the thing! Read the article to find out.
Dr. Zev Ballen continues discussing the secrets and joys of Living the Simple Life. With all of the material temptations we face every day, is there a spiritual reason and benefit to resisting them? And if so, how can we accomplish such a tremendous feat?
Wishing all of our awesome readers a wonderful week!
Today, we tell the story of the Simple Shoemaker from Rebbe Nachman's tale of the Clever One and the Simple One. In stark contrast to the Clever One, the Simple Shoemaker isn't very bright, but he sings and dances all day long … Don't forget to send us your letters and comments! There's a special email address that you'll get at the end of the shiur, and we'll be giving away prizes and surprises for the best letters.
As I promised on the vid, here are the words to the "Song of the Simpleton" so that the whole family can join in:
SONG OF THE SIMPLETON
People call me simpleton
But that just suits me fine
I don’t look at other folks
I’m happy with what’s mine
So what if they have a high IQ
And I’m not very smart
They complain all the time
But I’m happy with my part.
Everyone makes fun of me
But I really do not care
It’s better to be a simple guy
Than some high-brow debonair.
More Israelis have been killed in terrorist attacks during the last four weeks than in the last two Gaza wars combined. Barely a day goes by without tragedies, funerals and multiple terrorist attacks all over our beloved country, with Jerusalem and Gush Etzion being hit the worst. Yet, we're now faced with a new danger - it's a spiritual toxic call "desensitization", where people become desensitized by violence and killing. New widows, new orphans, weddings that turn into funerals and parents who lose children no longer bring tears to desensitized eyes. The hallmark of a Jew, as our sages tell us in the Mishna, is compassion, mercy and bashfulness. Desensitization kills all three of these beautiful traits. It is the evil inclination's covert plot to neutralize Jewish souls, not just bodies. We must fight against this danger with all our might.
Pray for the injured. Visit the sick. Ask what you can do to help a family who suffered a tragedy. Help strengthen them. Don't be apathetic. Encourage the unfortunate and help spread emuna. Remember, our sages tell us that when tragedy strikes one of us, we should all take it to heart.