Sunday, December 31, 2006

Trust in God

This week's has this article:

by Dr. Alan Morinis
Once you recognize that the world is not meant to be comfortable, certain, or easy, but rather an ideal training ground for the soul, trust in God can begin to take root.

The soul wants to live in an atmosphere of trust since the alternative is anxiety and worry. But people find it difficult to trust, for so many good and valid reasons. This world is so unreliable. Hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires and other natural disasters can strike at any moment. Your life can suddenly be overturned by illness or accident. And most of all, there is the unaccountable cruelty, incompetence and stupidity of people. A level-headed view of life seems to offer us every reason not to trust.
How and where could we possibly put our trust?
The Hebrew term for the soul-trait of trust is bitachon. To the Mussar teachers the only place to put our trust is in God, therefore bitachon means "trust in God." Including God in the definition may offer you some help, or it may bring on an additional challenge, depending on the role faith plays in your life. Growing in bitachon is a very different proposition for a person who already has a strong relationship to the divine as opposed to someone who has no active sense of Who/What he or she is being asked to trust.
A person who tries to practice trust in God while leaving himself a backup plan is like a person who tries to learn how to swim but insists on keeping one foot on the ground. - Rabbi Yosef Yozel Hurwitz
But who could possibly trust a God who allows a million children to be killed in the Holocaust, who permits AIDS and smallpox and ALS, who rains fire on the innocent and allows the guilty to die in their comfortable beds? If this is the best that omniscient, omnipotent divinity is capable of, then it seems you'd have to be crazy to trust that God.
The fact that this is a difficult world is no accident or sign of bad design. The Source of all has made our world just as it is so we will not become complacent and lethargic, but instead be surprised and challenged. The stretching and pulling -- by love as well as by blows -- is what brings us to the threshold of growth that we would likely never otherwise approach.
With your free will, you have it in your power to turn away from the opportunity to grow, and instead to build thicker walls of anger, hatred and despair around your heart. Or you can offer up your heart for its initiation. The Kotzker Rebbe said, "There is nothing so whole as the broken heart." Once you recognize that the world is not meant to be nice, or comfortable, or certain, or easy, but that it is set up to be the ideal training ground for the heart, you can trust in God because the world is working just as it should be.
The suffering or difficulty in our lives almost never makes sense in the moment, and only reveals its logic in time. Have you ever looked back over a section of your life, or your whole life itself, and only been able to see the storyline in retrospect? How many people have you heard say something like "losing that job turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me" though at the time it seemed like a blow to the solar plexus? Maybe you've already had an experience like that yourself.
At the beginning of World War II, the Mussar teacher Rabbi Yehudah Leib Nekritz, along with his wife and children, were exiled from Poland to Siberia. The Russians had invaded the part of Poland where the Nekritz family lived, and because Rabbi Nekritz had been born in Russia, he was judged suspicious and was sent to labor in the harsh north country. Of course everyone in the town was distraught for the poor Nekritz family, since all the others were allowed to remain at home while this one family was singled out for the punishment of exile. "Terrible, terrible," they moaned, and it was indeed terrible, except for the fact that remaining in the town ultimately turned out to be an even worse fate -- the Nazis rolled into that part of Poland and consigned all the Jews who lived there to the death camps.
At the end of the war, the Nekritz family was released and made their way to the United States. The exile to Siberia had been their ticket to survival.
Who in the moment could have seen the big picture? No one in the middle of a story is able to see how everything will work out in the end. So our reactions to what unfolds in life are either pure speculation or they reflect our clinging to a story we ourselves generate from our unconscious.
This is true for personal events and for history as well. The Mussar teaching is to call up trust to counteract our reactivity. When you recognize the truth that you do not write the full script of your life nor do you direct all the action, then it sinks in that there is really nothing to worry about. Trust.
I am not saying that evil and suffering are not real. But it is available to us to see everything that confronts us in life as a challenge to our own soul-traits. We are meant to be good and loving, generous and kind, but we can't make any of those qualities take firm root in our inner soil unless we face the challenge of rejecting their opposites. Only if these challenges are entirely real will can we use them to help our hearts to grow in positive ways. When Rabbi Nekritz would be asked by the peasants in Siberia, "Why have you been sent here?" he would always answer, "To teach you bitachon, trust in God."
Do we draw from all this that having strong bitachon means being fatalistic? In its extreme form, the answer is actually yes. There is a Hassidic story about a rebbe who saw a frantically busy man, and he asked the man where he was running in such a frenzied rush. "I'm chasing my destiny," the man answered. To which the rebbe replied, "How do you know it isn't also chasing you? Maybe all you have to do is to stand still for a moment to give it a chance to catch up."
While our destiny is surely in the hands of God, we are still obliged to make our own efforts.
But we can also find more measured voices telling us that while our destiny is surely in the hands of God, we are still obliged to make our own efforts. To rely exclusively on God implies that we have absolutely nothing in hand to bring about change, when that is seldom if ever the case. Everyone has some powers that are gifted to them, like the ability to think, to speak, to write, to lift objects, to move about, to care -- and even if you are lacking one or more of these capacities, you should put what capabilities you do have to work to bring about the outcomes you see to be the best, rather than rely totally on God. God is the source of these capacities, so wouldn't it dishonor those gifts and especially their Giver not to put them to use?
When wise bitachon has taken root in you, you recognize how important it is to act on your own behalf. Making genuine effort to improve yourself, your relationships, and other circumstances in the world is a sign that you understand and accept your real responsibility for yourself and the world. It also reflects your acknowledgement of the gifts God has already put into your hands. Yet with bitachon, you also recognize that the outcome of your actions is always beyond your control.
In short, Mussar's guidance is that you should try to make things work out the way you think is best, and then be fully prepared to accept whatever occurs.
It's easy to see that practicing trust in this way will inevitably give rise to peace of mind. Effort combined with trust yields calmness -- because when you willingly accept whatever results come out of your actions, what could there possibly be to worry about? Jewish sources stress that through trust -- casting your burden on God -- you free yourself from worldly cares, bringing on the calmness and tranquility so many of us long for and that we often try to find in less-than-Godly ways.
Strong trust also makes you brave. Once you have developed the attitude that you will be just fine with whatever comes out of your actions, you will feel freer to speak out and take steps that reflect your deepest convictions, without concern for consequences. In this way bitachon helps strengthen soul-traits that are susceptible to fear. For example, people (like me, though thankfully more so in the past than today) often slip into saying things that are not true out of fear of consequences, which means that a person with strong trust is likely to find fewer challenges to being honest. And so on for any other traits that might be knocked off their proper measure by the force of fear.
When fear or worry strikes you, recognize the experience as a signal calling on you to fan the inner sparks of your bitachon. Your task is to become aware of feelings such as fear, anxiety, and clinging right as they are occurring within you, and to respond to them inwardly by identifying them as signs of not trusting. That naming should not be confused with self-recrimination. By being sensitive to feelings that imply a lack of trust, you call yourself to be conscious of what is happening within you. From that foundation of self-awareness, you can remind yourself of the other option that lies before you in this situation -- to trust.
Bitachon is not a mere philosophical principle; it is an act that requires practice. How do we practice trust? Let me prepare you with a story adapted from the Chofetz Chaim.
There was once a man who was visiting a small town in Europe. It was Shabbat morning, and he went to the local synagogue. Everything was just as you might expect, until unusual things started happening. There were well-dressed, obviously prosperous people seated near the front, but all the honors for the Torah-reading were given to scruffy men who stood clustered at the back of the room. When it came time for the rabbi to say a few words of wisdom, all he spoke about was the weather. After the prayers were finished, lovely food was spread on the table and nobody ate.
The man was flummoxed by all these incomprehensible goings-on. What kind of place was this? Was everyone here crazy? Finally, he pulled aside one of the locals and asked, "What's going on here? The men who got the Torah honors, the rabbi's talk, the uneaten food... nothing makes any sense!"
The man explained, "Those scruffy looking men had been unjustly imprisoned and the community worked long and hard to ransom them to freedom. Isn't it wonderful that they are now free to come to bless the Torah? The rabbi spoke only about the weather because there has been an unusual drought this season and the farmers have nothing on their minds but their crops, and the rabbi knew and cared for their concerns. Why didn't anyone eat? One Shabbat every month the community prepares its usual lunch but instead of eating it, the food is donated to the local home for the elderly."
"I can see how it might have looked to you," the local man told the guest, "but when you can only see part of a picture, it's easy to put together a faulty impression of what is going on."
This story offers a useful parable for our own lives. When you can only see part of the situation -- and in the present moment, all any of us can ever see is part of the picture -- then you can't possibly know what is really going on. That will only be revealed in the fullness of time.
But I introduced the story by saying that trust in God needs to be practiced, and I had in mind suggesting a way in which you can do that by making use of this story. Just by recognizing the truth in this parable, and keeping it in mind, it is there to serve you whenever you are shaken awake by something happening that doesn't fit your expected story line. Maybe the disaster will turn out to be a strangely packaged gift. Maybe in time it will be revealed that what appeared to be a glorious boon was actually the doorway to disaster. This happens, of course. Because at any moment you can only see part of the picture, and because this world and its Maker are ultimately trustworthy, you can trust.
© Alan Morinis
Published: Sunday, December 07, 2003

Thursday, December 07, 2006

To the Third and Fourth Generation

I also posted this on my family website,, as it is relevant to genealogy, also.

You Are What Your Grandmother Ate

You may have read already about the research showing that the diet of a mother can have an influence on a specific gene for at least two generations.
This study on mice looks at "epigenetic" changes made to DNA, involving genes that can be silenced or activated based on exposure to chemicals.
Half of the mice in the study were fed a nutrient-enriched diet, while the control group ate a standard diet. Exposure to those high amounts of nutrients in the womb changed the coats of the mice offspring from golden to dark brown fur, while the offspring of the control group remained unchanged.Not only that, but the children of the darker-coated mice were similarly affected; they also had dark brown fur.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences November 14, 2006; 103(46): 17308-17312

Dr. Mercola's Comment:
When I was actively seeing patients it was very clear what my primary responsibility was -- to teach my patients to eat the way their ancestors ate. If I could facilitate that change alone and have them avoid processed foods, trans fats and the ridiculous excess of omega-6 fats nearly all consume, the vast majority of them would have radically improved health.
However, this information should not cause you to worry about the diets of ancestors. First of all, it is likely that they were eating far healthier than you, but even if they weren't your body has incredible, dynamic healing capacities that have the potential to reverse much of the damage.
Mirto from Carnation, Alabama commented in Vital Votes:
"There is way too much emphasis placed on such things as blaming our condition on the fact it runs in the family (genes). What runs in the family is an eating pattern that has been passed down from generation to generation.
"I saw it in my family and was heading down a road that was the consequence of this. I drastically changed my diet, including taking supplements, and no longer have to take any drugs, including aspirins.
"When you see a number of members of a family being overweight, check what kind of food they eat, it's appalling. The cook or cooks of the house usually picked up the style from their mother, who picked it up from her mother and so on. First of all that's a problem right there. You would be much healthier eating at least 75% of your food raw, which I usually do ... "
As far as genes go, I firmly believe that conventional wisdom imputes to them a far more exaggerated influence on your health than they really have. Fact is, genes are little more than information storage facilities that don't do much to influence your health. Rather, it's the expression of your genes, influenced by how you live your life, that weighs far more heavily on your health than anything else.
Dr. Gene Weber from Yakima, Washington also pointed out regarding that issue:
"When we go to the doctor a lot of the time, genetics are used against us to force the issue for prescribing what I feel are unneeded drugs, many for long term.
"There was a study done by Dr. Pottenger more than 60 years ago known as Pottenger's Cats that basically helps explain how we are what we eat, and how we can change our 'genetic' outcome by improving our lifestyle. This of course involves diet, exercise, and our emotional state to name a few. We need to know these things so we can make better choices when it comes to health care

Sunday, November 26, 2006

America's Health Dilema
Here's a quote from Dr. Mercoa's website:Cheat Disease by Changing Your EnvironmentIt has become clear to many that efforts to halt the growing epidemics of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer are failing. Many experts believe a primary reason is easy access to unhealthful foods and busy lives that squeeze out exercise. As a result, many new preventative health initiatives in states, cities and communities are being inaugurated across the United States. On September 28, the American Cancer Society (ACS) concluded that only by creating a "social environment that promotes healthy food choices and physical activity" can the United States reduce cancer deaths linked to obesity and lack of exercise. In response, on October 6 the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation announced an agreement with several food companies to adopt the ACS' nutritional guidelines for snacks sold in schools. Other initiatives, sponsored by government agencies, universities, or private businesses, are growing in number.Current U.S. health spending is $2.2 trillion a year, and it could reach $4 trillion by 2015. Taking care of the sick accounts for roughly 96 percent of these costs, with only about 4 percent going toward prevention.USA Today October 18, 2006--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Dr. Mercola's Comment:USA Today ran a week-long series on what to do about America's out-of-control health care costs, and they featured experts suggesting more natural solutions. The problem is growing, and the facts are so compelling that even the CDC's director of prevention and health promotion can't ignore them, saying that: "Two-thirds of the deaths and 80 percent of the cost of health in this country are associated with chronic disease. This country is dramatically moving in the wrong direction."Why is this important to know?Well, let me tell you. Our current system is really good at ACUTE care but, as you can see from the conservative estimates of the CDC, that is not what people are dying from. So when you apply the ER drug/surgical model to chronic disease you have an unmitigated disaster that dramatically exacerbates the problem.And it's getting worse.In 2001, fully half of all bankruptcies were the result of medical problems and most of those (more than three-quarters) who went bankrupt were covered by health insurance at the start of the illness. That's 700,000 U.S. households devastated by medically related bankruptcies, with more than 2 million people affected. But some are taking steps to turn this around, using the only method that will work -- preventing people from getting ill in the first place. In urban Philadelphia, researchers from America and the UK have joined in a social experiment with a huge medical upside: Offer easy access to healthful foods to an urban neighborhood where little to no options currently exist, except for processed, fast and trans-fatty foods.This experiment has nothing to do higher insurance premiums or newer, even more expensive and dangerous drugs, and everything to do with the real heart of the health care conundrum. It's all about trading a dangerous cure-based mentality fueled by unnecessary toxic drugs and procedures that may kill you for one focused on treating the true causes of disease safely and naturally.
Posted by Jill at 7:21 AM
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Mercury in Flu Vaccine

Mercury in Flu Vaccine
This is from this week's Hallelujah Acres Health Tip by George Malkmous:3) DANGEROUS AMOUNTS OF MERCURY STILL IN FLU VACCINE As we approach the FLU SEASON, various agencies are pushing certain age groups to get flu shots. Who are supposed to get them? Well, in the October Issue of AARP, we read: "Vaccine makers plan to produce 100 million doses, 17% more than were available last flu season. Consequently, the government is recommending for the first time that people 50 and older be immunized instead of just those 65 and older. That's also the case for children from 6 months to 5-years, up from age 2. Neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock, in the October 2006 Issue of The Blaylock Report, had the following to say regarding these flu shots: "The flu shot is one of the few remaining vaccines still containing a full dose of mercury (thimerosal). Each vaccine contains about 25 micrograms of ethylmercury. Defenders of thimerosal safety tell the public that such a small amount is harmless. I recently reviewed all the available evidence on thimerosal toxicity for a lecture I gave in Florida. It is known that as little as 0.5 micromole of ethylmercury can produce a 50 percent inhibition of the brain's most important protective system against excitotoxicity. That is less than one millionth of a mole weight of mercury. The government is lying. Unlike the mercury in fish (methylmercury), over 70 percent of the ethylmercury from vaccines is converted in the brain to the ionic form of mercury, which is not only the most damaging to brain cells but is almost impossible to remove. Only 10 percent of methylmercury is converted to ionic mercury. Likewise, ethylmercury is infinitely more toxic in the brains of the very young and the elderly. Because ionic mercury accumulates in the brain, each flu shot adds to the total burden in the brain. Over 10 years, one would have close to 100 micrograms of mercury in their brain. On top of all this, a number of studies have shown that the flu vaccine is effective in only 20 to 30 percent of cases. . . " In Dr. Blaylock's Wellness Report for the month of August 2006, we learned that studies show the vaccine preservative methylmercury used in vaccines for 70 years is the CAUSE OF AUTISM! The article concluded with these words: "The parents of the over 1 million children whose lives have been destroyed by autism spectrum disorders should demand justice, and the public should insist that all mercury be removed from all vaccines." In that same article we read: "Suffice it to say that even though most vaccines had there mercury removed as of 2001, THE FLU VACCINES and Rho Immune Globulin vaccine STILL CONTAIN A FULL AMOUNT. The CDC instituted new guidelines prescribing the flu vaccine for all children between the ages of 6 and 24 months. Then those children are to get shots again annually between the ages of 5 and 18 years. That includes 42 million schoolchildren. Should these guidelines be followed, our children would start life with significant mercury burden and suffer the resulting health consequences. It is important to note that the second-highest site (after the brain) of mercury accumulation in a cell is the nucleus, and studies have shown that even low doses of the toxic substance cause damage to DNA that can lead to cancer and degenerative brain disease, and can be inherited in one's offspring." (For more information or to subscribe to The Blaylock Report call 1-800-485-4350.) ___________________________________________________________
Posted by Jill at 6:52 PM
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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Here's a Thanksgiving article from

Giving Thanks
Don't wait for the Kodak moment.

A few days ago, an older woman knocked on my door and asked if she could see my home. She explained, a bit embarrassed, that close to 70 years ago she had lived in my living room with her parents and five siblings.
The woman, who introduced herself as Levana, immediately struck me as someone from a very different tax bracket than the typical Israelis I meet in Jerusalem. She confirmed my impressions when she explained that she was visiting for the day from one of Israel's wealthiest communities.
As Levana entered my home, she first glanced towards the stairs which were constructed when our house was built up ten years ago from being a one-room apartment into a four-room home. I offered to show her the new upstairs, but she didn't hear me.
She had already sighted our living room, and she was transfixed. "It is exactly the same as I remember!" she squealed as she moved inside. Her face lit up and before my eyes, she was transformed from the cosmopolitan woman who strode through my door into the little girl she had been when she lived in this room.
She pointed in one corner and said, "This is where my parents slept!" and then pointing to the other corner said, "And this is where I slept with my five siblings!"
When I asked her how it was possible that so many people had lived together in one room, she flashed me an ironic smile brimming with nostalgia. "Don't ask!"
Levana circled around my living room. "My brothers and sisters and I would chase each other around this room for hours. I still remember the Shabbat candles my mother lit over there, and the family meal we would eat when my father came home from synagogue over there. And the windows! These are the windows where I would sit and watch the snow falling in the winter."
"Over there," she pointed to our entrance hall, "my mother had her kitchen. It was no more than a closet with a small gas stove, but I can still remember coming home from school and smelling her cooking from the front steps. If only I could cook like she did!"
It is difficult to imagine how Levana's family coped under such crowded conditions. I am the mother of four children, not six, and I still feel a bit crowded in our home which is at least three times as large as the one where Levana spent her childhood.
On top of this, the years that Levana lived with her family in my living room were times of food rationing, wars, curfews, and hand-to-mouth survival.
After Levana left, I thought about her a great deal, and about my own daughter knocking on the front door of this house in 70 years. What would she say about the years she will spend in these crayon-marked walls?
What is revolutionary about Judaism is that it teaches us to be thankful for the routine blessings in our life as well.
It struck me that Levana's central memories were not of the Kodak moments of her young life. Her fondest memories were of everyday family routine -- playing tag in the living room with her brothers and sisters, her mother cooking in the kitchen, eating a Shabbat meal. Her sweetest memories were of her family simply being together. Really together.
It is human nature to be grateful for things that are new.
We are thankful for the new baby that we have anxiously waited for. We are thankful for the new job we've been searching for half a year. We are thankful for winning $20,000 in the lottery. We are thankful for recovering from an illness.
What is revolutionary about Judaism is that it teaches us to be thankful for the routine blessings in our life as well.
We open our eyes in the morning and the first thing we do is thank God that we are still alive.
We go to the bathroom, and afterwards we say a blessing thanking God that our body is still functioning as it should be.
We sit down to eat a bowl of cornflakes, and before we take a bite we say a blessing thanking God that we still have food.
We say our morning prayers and thank God for the daily gift of being a Jew.
In this season of thanksgiving, take a few minutes to thank God for the blessings in your life that may never make it into your photo album.
For the games of tag in your living room, for family meals in the glow of the Shabbat candles, for the warm, cozy feeling of home when you look out of your window at the cold darkness.
Take a few moments this week to be grateful for the everyday gifts of being together. Really together.
Published: Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Purpose of Creation--Meaning of Life

Article in Nov. 12 issue of

by Rabbi Yitzchok Kirzner When "bad things happen to good people," by what standard does one define "bad"?

Judaism begins with the belief in a Creator of the entire universe. The history of our people commences with Avraham's question, "Who created the world?" (cf. Bereishis Rabbah 39:1). That question led him to the recognition of God as the Creator.

God existed prior to Creation, and that Creation remains dependent upon Him. Creation came into being as an expression of His will and is dependent on Him; it continues to exist only by virtue of a continued infusion of His creative energy. This is stated in the first of the Thirteen Principles of Faith based on Maimonides: "The Creator, Blessed is His Name, creates and guides all creatures, and He alone created, creates, and will create everything."

Intelligent beings do not act without some purpose, and certainly the Supreme Intelligence must be assumed to act in a purposeful fashion.

Now, if God created the world and continues to sustain it, He must have had some purpose. Intelligent beings do not act without some purpose, and certainly the Supreme Intelligence must be assumed to act in a purposeful fashion. Prior to Creation, God was complete unto Himself. He had no need for the world, for He lacked nothing. Indeed, as the Kabbalists put it, He had to make room for the world, as it were, through an act of voluntary contraction.

Creation, then, has a goal. A crucial corollary to this belief is: God created the world in such a way as to ensure that it would eventually reach the goal for which He intended it. No one invests his time and energy for no reason. And neither did God.

True, we often start projects with great expectations and subsequently find ourselves incapable of realizing our hopes for one reason or another. But we err if we project our own limitations onto God. We are incapable of accurately foreseeing all the intervening events that may prevent us from realizing our goal, and our abilities may prove unequal to our aspirations.

God, however, suffers no such limitations. First, it is another one of our fundamental beliefs that God has absolute foreknowledge of everything that will ever happen. Thus it is absurd to suggest that He created a world in which His very purpose in creating it could not be realized.

Furthermore, we, as human beings, try to manipulate the pre-existing materials of the world to achieve our purposes. But God did not create the world from pre-existing material. He is the source of all the raw material from which the world is formed. He imbued everything with its potential. It is impossible to imagine those raw materials acting in a manner contrary to God's will. Moreover, God exercises a constant veto power over the direction in which His creation is headed. Nothing continues to exist except because of His sustaining power.

These points are crucial. Though we believe that God created the universe, we are generally oblivious to the implications of our belief. We continue to relate to God as if He too were a part of Creation -- a bigger and stronger part, to be sure, but a part nevertheless -- rather than as the independent Creator of all that exists. Because of this laziness of thought, we project our own limitations onto God and cannot conceive of Him as capable of overseeing every aspect of Creation.

But when we make ourselves aware of God's true relationship to Creation, we realize that just as God created the world with a purpose so He has the capability to provide whatever guidance is required to accomplish that goal. That ability is Divine Providence. Divine Providence posits that not only did God create the world for a specific purpose -- a purpose which remains constant for all time -- but that He maintains a relationship with His Creation sufficient to ensure that those purposes are ultimately achieved.

A belief in randomness cannot be reconciled with Divine Providence.

The traditional Jewish belief in Divine Providence is thus the antithesis of the view that there is a realm in which randomness governs. A belief in randomness cannot be reconciled with Divine Providence.

One of the crucial corollaries to the belief in Divine Providence is that not only does Creation as a whole have a particular purpose, but so does every single aspect of that Creation. Among those aspects of the created world are our lives. And just as God directs the totality of Creation towards its ultimate goal, so does He direct our lives in such a way as to make it possible for us to fulfill our purpose.

This realization has profound implications for our entire self-perception. For if our lives have purpose, and if God is continually overseeing our lives to ensure that we retain the possibility of fulfilling our purpose, it is impossible that some totally random event could knock us out of the ballpark in such a way as to prevent us from reaching the goal for which we were destined.

Divine Providence guarantees that we are provided with the necessary environment to accomplish our specific tasks. Nothing can destroy that capability.

Divine Providence requires that I think to myself, "I was brought into the world for a reason. God invested in me, and every moment that I am breathing, it is only because He still has hope that I will accomplish the tasks for which I was created." That view cannot be reconciled with the view that my life may be taken away from me at any moment for no reason whatsoever, through the workings of chance.

Providence endows my life with significance. Randomness takes this away. How much value can there be to life that can be snatched away at any moment for no reason?


Harold Kushner asks how God can be good if our lives are not. Based on his perception of the quality of our lives, he proceeds to judge God and finds Him wanting -- too wanting, in fact, to believe that He has anything to do with the quality of our lives.

Judging God is a dangerous game, for it means employing the standards of our finite intelligence to judge His infinite intelligence.

Judging God is a dangerous game, for it means employing the standards of our finite intelligence to judge His infinite intelligence. Yet if we ask the question of why certain things are happening to us, not to judge God, but to clarify the nature of our relationship, the question is not only legitimate but essential. A failure to ask the question would itself betray a lack of trust in God, and imply that He has no connection to what happens to us. A faith too timid to confront these questions cannot anchor our sense of the deeper reality underlying the sensory world.

Now, it must be clear that Kushner's question presupposes a clear cut standard by which to evaluate the quality of our lives. He entitled his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. But, if we look at his use of the terms "good" and "bad," it would appear that they are not being used consistently.

Kushner uses "good" and "bad" as synonyms for pleasant and unpleasant. A good life is a pleasant one in his view. As applied to people, he uses "good" to mean affable and pleasant. Classical Jewish thought, however, deals with the issue of the suffering of the "righteous" -- those who lead their lives consonant with God's Will.

The use of "good" and "bad" as synonyms for "pleasant" and "unpleasant" is not very satisfactory. Much that is pleasant nevertheless has very negative consequences, and that which is unpleasant can be very positive.

Smoking may be pleasant, but it kills. Many medicines are bitter -- some, like those used in chemotherapy, extremely so -- yet they can save lives.

In place of pleasant and unpleasant, Jewish thought insists on another standard of evaluation: purposeful and not purposeful. Nothing is more essential to our status as human beings than the pursuit of meaning in our lives. That quest grows from the fact that each of us is made up of a body that is physical, and which will eventually cease to exist, and a soul that is infinite.

The soul craves connection to the Infinite from which it came; a connection to something beyond the confines of the body and physical existence. That connection can only make sense in the context of a structure of meaning anchored outside the self. The search for such a structure in itself reflects the need of the soul for a connection to the Infinite.

The greatest pain that a human being can experience is the sense that the events of his or her life lack any purpose and are not directed towards any goal. Purpose is an essential aspect of all intelligent activity, and as intelligent beings the failure to find any purpose in our lives undermines our entire sense of self. Where a sense of purpose exists, we are able to endure incredible suffering, for that suffering does not violate the awareness of our essential humanity. On the other hand, where it is absent, there is only a sense of inner emptiness, no matter how many pleasurable sensations one experiences.

Once purpose becomes the yardstick by which we evaluate our lives, we are forced to identify the purpose of our lives. Since the quest for meaning reflects the quest of our souls for connection with the Infinite, that meaning or purpose must exist outside of ourselves. This quest for meaning inevitably leads us to ask: Why did God create us?


Why did God create the world? What did He seek to accomplish? Obviously He needed nothing from the Creation since He is by definition complete and perfect unto Himself. "Need" implies that one lacks something, and God could not have lacked anything He Himself created.

To fully understand God's purpose would require knowledge of God prior to His interaction with His Creation -- i.e., knowledge of His essence, not just how He expresses Himself in human history -- and that is beyond the reach of human understanding. We can know nothing of God prior to Creation.

We must therefore turn to the Torah, as we do for all knowledge that is both essential and beyond our capacity to derive by ourselves. And when we look into the Torah, we find that God created the world out of a desire to give. As King David says in Psalms, "... a world which manifests Your loving kindness, You did build" (Psalms 89:3). Giving requires a receiver. So God created human beings to be the recipients of His bounty.

God's giving bears no comparison to our giving. When we reach into our pocket to give charity to a poor individual, for instance, we do so, in part, to relieve a feeling of discomfort caused by the sight of a fellow human being in need. Prior to Creation, however, there was nothing outside of God, nothing to arouse feelings of pity. Thus His desire to give was completely generated from within Himself. It was an expression of His overflowing goodness.

We human beings may give out of a variety of motivations, some good and some bad. Giving in order to aggrandize oneself at the expense of another or to manipulate another by fostering dependence fall into the latter category. Such giving is in reality taking. But since God needs nothing, His giving is never motivated by a desire to take. It is of necessity without taint of self-interest and solely for the benefit of the recipient.

As a perfect giver, God wants to give the perfect gift. That gift is the possibility of a connection with God Himself, for He Himself is the source of all true good. Therefore God created a being who is capable of cleaving to Him.

God could give endlessly, but that would not be for our ultimate good as recipients. Indeed, it would ultimately destroy the possibility of giving at all. Were God's goodness to flow automatically to us, we would cease to be independent beings and become mere extensions of Him. The first condition of giving -- the existence of an entity distinct from the giver -- would be destroyed.

True giving, then, is predicated on the existence of the human self. Free gifts undermine our sense of self. When we receive something without earning it or being worthy of it, we disappear in the awareness of our total dependence upon the giver. Anyone who has received an undeserved gift recognizes this. As much as we might enjoy the gift itself, we experience an embarrassment that is akin to a little death of self.

We enjoy that which is the product of our efforts far more than any gift. A person prefers one kav (a measure of 2.2 liters) of his own produce to nine kav of others, say our Sages (Bava Metzia 38a) precisely because that kav represents the fruits of his own efforts. Similarly, a teenager who works for a year to buy an old Ford, which he himself then keeps running smoothly, derives more pleasure from it than a peer who borrows his father's BMW whenever he wants. It makes no difference that the BMW is the better car, for it represents nothing of his own efforts.

We prefer what we earn over what is given to us because the desire to earn reflects the underlying nature of reality. Creation, as an expression of God's giving, is only comprehensible in the context of our capacity to earn His bounty, for only that capacity makes us independent recipients.

Now we can understand why God does not simply give us everything that we want, unrelated to our worthiness to receive. To do so would not be to our benefit, for we would lose our ability to enter into a relationship with God. And giving which is not for our good would itself not be consistent with God's desire to give.

Note that this description of God's giving also imposes obligations upon us. For if the sole purpose of Creation is only that God be able to give, then we have a reciprocal obligation to make ourselves the worthy recipients of His bounty. Our failure to do so stymies the purpose of Creation itself.

This description of God's purpose provides us with an entirely new measuring stick to evaluate our lives. No longer will we judge our lives in terms of pleasure and pain, for pleasure and pain do not by themselves provide meaning to life. True, we still hope that our lives will be pleasurable, but even very great pain need not raise fundamental questions about God's goodness. For even great pain may be judged good if it prepares us for our purpose in life, which is to enter into a relationship with God. From this standpoint, our maturity as Jews is measured by the degree to which we define ourselves, not in terms of our immediate circumstances, but in terms of our ultimate goal of becoming worthy of receiving from God.

Viewing life through the perspective of purpose forces us to ask: Is my pain bringing me closer to my ultimate goal in life?

Applying the standard of purpose to judge the events of our lives dramatically alters our perspective on the challenge that suffering poses to faith. We typically perceive human suffering as unjust, and thus a contradiction to our belief in a just God. Purpose, however, broadens our frame of reference in such a way that the question disappears.

Viewing life through the perspective of purpose forces us to ask: Is my pain bringing me closer to my ultimate goal in life? To answer that question requires a good deal more information than simply evaluating the degree of present suffering. The relevant time frame now includes the future. In order to justify God's ways, we are no longer limited to evaluating present experiences as responses to past actions; our present experiences are also opportunities for future growth. A particular experience, for instance, may offer such potential for growth as to far outweigh the immediate pain.

We are not prophets, and so we cannot know the future. But all of us know from personal experience that what appears to us today as a devastating setback may turn out to be the source of our greatest blessing. Certainly we know many who have reached their fullest potential as human beings only in the face of adversity.

Judgments based on the narrow lens of the present must be tempered by the knowledge that we are observing only a small fraction of the relevant tableau. The present pain threatens to overwhelm all else and obscure the magnitude of the reward that potentially awaits us. That reward, as we shall see in the next chapter, is far greater than any pleasure in this world. But without awareness of its existence, we lack the tools to properly assess whether our present suffering is "worth it."

Asking ourselves whether present suffering is purposeful -- i.e., is it bringing us closer to God -- not only helps us reevaluate suffering that seems undeserved, but also that which may appear to us to be deserved. If someone does something wrong, and subsequently something bad happens to him or her, the natural tendency is to chalk up the latter event as some form of punishment from God -- the just desserts of his action, as it were.

Yet there is no such concept in the Torah of God meting out punishment in this world. God never simply inflicts pain as punishment, for such punishment has nothing to do with His purpose in creating the world. His purpose was to give. What we term "deserved suffering" from our perspective is not designed to punish, but rather to make it possible for God to give to the person thus afflicted, either by purging him of impurities caused by his sins or by directing him back to the correct path. What we perceive as "punishments" are pathways to enable man to come closer to God.


We might still ask: If God created the world in order to give, why must He be the one to define the nature of the gift? If we are content with the immediate pleasures of this world, why can't God just give us these? Why must we accept pain and suffering as prods to return us to a path leading to closeness to God? After all, true giving is for the benefit of the recipient, not the one giving. Why can't we choose the good we want to receive? Why must our lives run according to His standard?

From what we have already said, the answer to these questions should be apparent. Man's search for meaning, as described above, is the quest of a soul seeking to break free of the constraints of the finite body to fulfill a purpose that has been determined outside of itself. That external standard is established by God, the Infinite Other, Who stands completely independent of us.

God imbued the universe with purpose. He created us in order to make possible the most perfect gift, a relationship with Him. Anything that does not facilitate that relationship is by definition devoid of meaning and deters us from the purpose for which we were created.

The above questions betray a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of our existence. They start with the attitude that having been brought into existence against our will, we nevertheless possess our lives once here. We, not God, should determine the conditions of our further existence.

The Jewish view, however, is the opposite. Our existence requires God's continual support every moment. Were He to cease to sustain us for even one instant, we would vanish completely. And He only continues to support our existence as a vehicle for reaching the goals for which we were brought into this world in the first place. God wants us to choose life over death. If we choose not to draw close to Him, we are effectively choosing death. By pursuing the pleasures of the world we cut ourselves off from Him.

Because of His desire to give, God cannot simply let us kill ourselves (though we may eventually succeed). Imagine a father who gives his college-bound son a credit card. Rather than using the credit card for school expenses, the son uses the credit card for drugs and fast cars. One day the father receives news that his son overdosed in his new sports car. Needless to say he immediately cancels his son's credit card. The father did not give his son a credit card to facilitate his self-destruction, and will show no sympathy to his son's protestations that he is entitled to use the credit card as he wishes.

Similarly, God does everything in His power to keep us from destroying ourselves, which is what we do when we render ourselves unfit to receive His bounty.

An excerpt from "Making Sense of Suffering: A Jewish Approach" by Rabbi Yitzchok Kirzner, prepared for publication by Jeremy Kagan and Yonoson Rosenblum (Artscroll Publications).

Published: Sunday, November 12, 2006
Here's a poem quoted on my cousin's blog, Food and Gladness, at Check out her blog for references to spiritual aspects of diet and health.

Suggestions for Fasting and Feasting:

Fast from discontent; feast on thankfulness.

Fast from worry; feast on trust.

Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.

Fast fromunrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayers .

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.

Fast from discouragement, feast on hope.

Fast from media hype, feast on the honesty of the Bible.

Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Here's an article on God's view of Ritalin:

Ritalin and Judaism

by Sara Yoheved Rigler
Our children's aptitudes, our attitudes, and the spiritual challenge.

"I'm the world's most relieved mother," Julie told my friend Linda on their way home from a meeting. "For years I've known that my son Avi is ADD, but I couldn't bring myself to give him Ritalin. Then, a few months ago, his school threatened us that either we give him Ritalin or he'd have to transfer to a special school for kids with learning disabilities. We decided that the side-effects of Ritalin are less terrible than the side-effects of being a failure all his life. So we started giving him Ritalin. We can hardly believe the difference. Avi went from being last in his class to being first in his class in six weeks!"
Linda listened intently. When she got home, she phoned me and recounted the conversation. "What do you think I should do?" she asked. "My 10-year-old Benny's a smart kid, but he gets terrible grades. I know that he has an attention deficit, but I've never wanted to pump chemicals into my child. But Julie's statement that the side-effects of failure are worse than the side-effects of Ritalin really got to me."
I had read some of the studies on methylphenidate (marketed under the brand name Ritalin and its longer-lasting versions Concerta and Metadate ER). According to these studies, a varying percentage of children taking methylphenidate evince symptoms of obsessive-compulsive behavior, robotic behavior, nervous habits, insomnia, and depression.
"Have you ever tried alternative strategies," I suggested, "like eliminating sugar from his diet, or making sure he gets more sleep, or using one of those computer programs that retrain brain waves?"
"Are you kidding?" Linda snorted. "I'd have to change the whole family's diet. And I'd have to get him to bed by 8:30, which is almost impossible. And those computer programs are expensive and take months to work, plus they only work if the kid plugs away at them for a half hour every day, which means my nagging him to keep up with it. I'd rather research the Ritalin option."
A few days later, Linda called me again. "We're going to do it!" she exclaimed. "Julie is right. Whatever the side effects, Ritalin is better than a lifetime of failure. I've already made an appointment to see a pediatric neurologist."
Children feel like failures only when their parents make them feel like failures.
I suggested that as part of her research into the matter, she should call Rabbi Leib Kelemen, an expert on child-rearing.
Rabbi Kelemen told Linda that he is not categorically opposed to Ritalin, but he is opposed to using it without first trying the other solutions, such as diet and sleep. He also recommended that she read a book, which he would lend her, that presents both the pros and cons of Ritalin. Then he made two crucial spiritual points:
Ritalin really does work and her son would probably zoom to the top of his class, but he would be forever deprived of the struggle to succeed and the personal growth that comes from struggle.
Children feel like failures only when their parents make them feel like failures. If Linda would redefine her son's success in terms of sterling character traits rather than grades, she would be giving him a ladder he could successfully climb.
The next day, Linda called me again. "The scariest part of this whole thing," she told me, "is that on my way over to pick up the book, I was totally bummed out. I already had euphoric mental images of how much easier my life would become with Benny on Ritalin. The new Benny would listen to me without interrupting, would do his homework without a battle, would study with me without having to get up every five minutes, and would bring home a report card with A's instead of C's and D's. I knew the book would document all the medical and psychological reasons not to give him Ritalin, and I didn't want to hear it!"
How could a loving and devoted mother like Linda not want to hear the precautions against giving her son a drug that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has rated as one of those with the most potential for abuse and addiction?
In 2001, almost 10% of American school children and 15-20% of school-aged boys were taking stimulant medication such as Ritalin. In 2003, pharmaceutical companies announced that the total ADHD market in the United States was approximately $1.8 billion, exceeding the national spending for antibiotics and asthma medication for children. From 2002 to 2003, the market for the various forms of methylphenidate grew by 20%.
Yet the Ritalin Rush has triggered some sobering responses. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) issued a warning in 1997: "Concerns have been raised that doctors are resorting to methylphenidate as an 'easy' solution for behavioral problems which may have complex causes." Two years later the INCB cautioned: "In the Americas, particularly in the United States, performance enhancing drugs are being given to children to boost school performance or to help them conform to the demands of school life."
"Something is wrong when society finds it expedient to give psychoactive chemicals to millions of children."
As Dr. Peter R. Breggin, a staff psychiatrist at John Hopkins University, has written:
Many more people now understand that something is wrong when society finds it expedient to give psychoactive chemicals to millions of children. They suspect that the diagnosis of ADHD may be little more than an excuse for giving drugs to control children instead of meeting their genuine needs. They believe that our children require improved family, school, and community life rather than psychiatric diagnoses and psychoactive drugs.
...A large, ever-increasing segment of America's children are being subjected to drugs to control their minds and behavior. No such experiment in mass drugging has ever before been attempted in the history of any society or nation. Never before have so many parents been told that their children need psychiatric drug treatment for difficulties at school and in the home. This unprecedented situation is not the result of some inexplicable increase in "mental illness." It is, instead, the result of an increasing failure to identify and to meet the needs of children in our homes, schools, and communities, as well as a growing tendency to seek quick and seemingly easy medical cures to difficult individual and social problems. [Talking Back to Ritalin, pp. 4-5]
This is not to say that no child ever really needs Ritalin. Some children's hyperactivity is so disruptive in the classroom that a medical solution may be indicated.
From a Jewish perspective, however, the point is that behind some of the diagnosis and treatment of ADD is an undiagnosed and untreated syndrome that affects the parents, teachers, physicians and children, namely "The Quick Fix Syndrome."
Over the last four decades, the modern West has become a pill-popping society. Can't sleep? Pop a pill. Feeling depressed? Pop a pill. Need to be alert to study for exams? Pop a pill. The assumption behind this quick-fix mentality is that no one should ever have to suffer or struggle.
Rabbi Kelemen's answer to Linda represents a different worldview: Struggle builds character, and improving character traits is the very purpose of life in this world.
Real greatness is gauged by struggle and striving.
Real greatness is gauged by struggle and striving. No one earns admiration for dropping from a helicopter onto the top of Mt. Everest. Why? Because the point is not to be at the top, but to get to the top. The man who holds the Guinness record for being the tallest in the world is a curiosity; the man who holds the world-record for the highest pole-vaulting is a champion.
Yet the drive to seek quick solutions and easy answers is a paramount human temptation. The earthly body always seeks repose, while the soul always seeks growth.
Just yesterday, a mother told me that her first-grade daughter has been fidgeting in class. Both the child's teacher and principal recommended putting the little girl on Ritalin "so she'll learn good habits of sitting and paying attention in class." By the time she starts second grade, the educators told her mother, the child would be used to good behavior and could go off the drug.
This replacement of drugs for genuine education is even more dangerous spiritually than it is physically. The unique human faculty of exercising free choice is developed every time a person chooses between right and wrong. A first-grade child exerting her self-control by sitting still in class for five minutes is worth much more than a whole day's drug-induced attentiveness.
For many, Ritalin is regarded as a means to an end: succeeding in school. But even here, in the first grade classroom, the true purpose of life must be clearly discerned and valued. Choosing good, or in this case a brief act of self-discipline, is the goal of life, not learning pages of arithmetic.
Admittedly, it's hard for children to sit still. Our sages assert: "According to the effort is the reward." And what is the reward for that child's effort to control her penchant to squirm around? She will learn that she is capable of choosing self-control, and when she is a teenager tempted with drugs and an adult tempted with stealing from her corporation, she will know that she is in control of her choices. And that's why she-like all of us-is here in this world.
Parents who try the more arduous solutions before resorting to Ritalin also receive a reward: the development of their qualities of patience, forbearance, unconditional love, and moral strength to go against the societal current. A parent who decides, "My child's ethical development is more important to me than a report card I can brag about," has truly scaled a spiritual Mt. Everest.
When Rabbi Kelemen told Linda that her children wouldn't feel like failures unless she made them feel like failures, Linda protested, "How can Benny not feel like a failure when he brings home dreadful grades?"
Rabbi Kelemen countered: "Does he help out around the house?"
"Well, yes," Linda answered.
"Is he kind to his siblings?"
"Most of the time."
"Does he come home when you tell him to?"
"Well, then," Rabbi Kelemen concluded, "he has a lot to feel successful about. It's your job to make sure he knows it."
This advice is reminiscent of the fable about the proud archer who brought his friend into the forest and showed him that he had hit the bull's-eye on every tree. "How did you do it?" the friend asked, impressed.
"Simple," the archer answered. "First I shot the arrow, and then I drew the target around it."
If parents value good character traits more than academic success, we will raise self-confident children who know what is truly important in life.
While this ruse is a cop-out for adults, it is an essential technique for good parenting. Rather than criticize failure, parents have to praise whatever small good their child accomplishes. The results are two-fold: the child repeats and amplifies the praised behavior, and the child grows in self-confidence, which is a sure-fire prescription for a successful life.
Parents more interested in good children than good grades have to become expert at drawing the target around virtuous actions. He came home from school with a C on his spelling test and a wounded bird he wanted to save? Bull's eye! She can't understand her algebra homework, but she volunteered to take care of the neighbor's baby when the neighbor had to rush out? Bull's eye! The section of his report card grading academic subjects looks dismal, but in deportment and interpersonal behavior he scored high? Bull's eye!
If we parents value good character traits (honesty, kindness, enthusiasm, etc.) more than we value academic success, we will not only raise children who are happy and self-confident, but we'll also be teaching our children what is truly important in life. A child who learns that honesty is more important than grades will never cheat on a test -- or in business later in life. A child who learns that kindness is more important than grades will never make fun of a slow-witted classmate -- or give his job priority over his family later in life.
But, we protest, if my child doesn't get good grades, he won't get into a good college, and his earning potential as an adult will be compromised.
Not necessarily true. Many self-made millionaires did poorly in school, but had the self-confidence to become enterprising entrepreneurs. Behind every successful adult is a parent drawing bull's eyes.
An epidemic is sweeping our society, and it's not ADD or ADHD. It is addiction to ease and a skewed definition of success. And the cure for this epidemic has no dangerous side-effects.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Speaking Goodness

This article is from

Gabbing about Goodness

by Sara Yoheved Rigler
How to change the world with your tongue.

The day was rainy, the bus was late, and the atmosphere at the bus stop where I was impatiently waiting with several other people was tense.
A woman in her late sixties wearing a brown raincoat scurried by. Just as she passed the bus shelter, she slid on the wet pavement and fell. I rushed toward her. Helping her up, I asked, "Are you okay?"
She nodded and commented, "It says that a person who falls in front of other people is a prideful person."
I smiled, thinking, "If you were really prideful, you wouldn't be quoting that." But I said nothing.
The woman continued on her way. As I returned to the protection of the bus shelter, another woman there remarked out loud, "What a special person! She falls and she uses it as an opportunity to admonish herself spiritually! What a remarkable, humble person!"
With that comment, the atmosphere in the bus shelter palpably changed. Goodness hung in the air like a presence. We all smiled at each other and nodded.
The mitzvah, "Love your neighbor as yourself," is considered by the sages to be a fundamental mitzvah of the Torah. Like all mitzvot, it requires us to do something concrete and specific. Vague sentiments of affection for others could delude a person into thinking that s/he is fulfilling this mitzvah, but the Torah insists that we ground our sentiments in concrete actions.
Thus Maimonides, in his magnum opus delineating the mitzvot, writes that "Love your neighbor as yourself" is fulfilled in three ways: 1) By speaking well about others; 2) By seeing to their physical requirements; and 3) By treating them with honor.
Although I had had the same positive thoughts about the woman who slipped at the bus stop, the person who actually voiced her praise was fulfilling the mitzvah, "Love your neighbor as yourself." And because every mitzvah connects a person to God, the atmosphere in our damp bus shelter reflected that spiritual transformation.
We can probably triple the amount of good we speak about every day.
In the Jewish world today, much focus is given to not speaking gossip, lashon hara. The Torah prohibits us from speaking negatively about others, even when it's true, except in cases when one must protect a third party (such as a prospective business partner) from being harmed. To refrain from speaking lashon hara is an exalted spiritual accomplishment.
Much less emphasis is given to the other side of the coin -- speaking well about others. Of course, if you praise A to B, who dislikes A, B is likely to respond with a string of pejorative lashon hara: "She's not really so great. Why, I've seen her do x." As always, you must be circumspect about to whom you say what.
With that caution in mind, however, each of us could probably triple the amount of good we speak about every day.
In fact, this is an important principle in educating children. The experts instruct us to give our children more positive feedback than negative feedback. Thus, they tell us, don't wait till your toddler misbehaves to comment on his behavior. Notice when your toddler is playing nicely, and say out loud, "How nicely you're sharing that toy with your sister." This reinforces good behavior.
Even those who have acquired the skill of praising young children probably pass up manifold opportunities to voice goodness about those we live and work with. How about:
Every night at dinnertime or bedtime, telling your spouse one positive thing about each of your children. "When Jason spoke on the phone with his grandmother today, he showed her a lot of love and respect." "When I told Jennie she couldn't use the car tonight, she accepted it graciously."
Pointing out your spouse's good points to your children: "You know, Dad was really tired tonight, but he helped you with your homework anyway." "Even though Mom was super busy today, notice how she took time to call Aunt Marge so she wouldn't be lonely."
Not just thinking well about your friends, but actually mentioning their good traits: "Linda is so reliable. She said she'd do me a favor, and then even though her schedule changed, she still went out of her way to do it." "Brad is so honest. The bank teller made a mistake in his favor, and he pointed out the mistake to her."
Looking for positive things to say about your fellow workers: "My secretary has a bad cold, but she still came in today because she knew I needed her." "My boss is under a lot of pressure right now, but he took the time to mention the good job I did on that recent project."
With each of these simple statements, you fulfill that primary mitzvah: Loving your neighbor as yourself.
Rabbi Avraham Twersky points out that the Morning Prayer service begins with the words, "Blessed is the One who spoke and the world came into being." He explains that at the outset of our prayers, we have to remind ourselves that words create worlds.
At the outset of every day we should remind ourselves that good words create good worlds.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Purpose of This Blog

The purpose of this blog is to share my health journey with those on the road to recovery from any illness. I have suffered from numerous health problems as a result of poor eating habits, and remain symptom-free as long as I remain true to my diet and lifestyle changes.

This blog is also to support those in transition from a standard American diet to one which promotes healthy regeneration of cells and organs.

Join me in my search for better health through nutrition, exercise, and wholesome living.