Monthly Archives: August 2008

Ice cold chessed

At work we have fabulous ice trays in the freezer. They make really nice big ice cubes, perfect for iced coffee. I have noticed that some people use ice and others don’t. Some who use the ice will, sometimes, refill the ice cube trays, while others don’t seem to bother. One of the fundamental teachings of R Dessler was that people, at their essence, are either givers or takers.

Even with ice cubes.

Laugh if you want. It’s only ice, right? However, getting people, especially children, to realized this concept is extremely importantl in character development. I know that when I choose to give, I make everyone around me much happier. Since Purim (a yom tov that contains a mitzvah to give) I have been attempting to teach this concept to my kids. I realized that an easy act of giving was for my 8 yr old son to bring his 6 year old sister her breakfast or dinner from the kitchen to the dining room table and let his sister do the same for him. At first there was some resistance, but eventually both of them have started doing this on their own.

Ice, a smile, a kind word, or even a bowl of cereal makes a difference.

When Sinas Chinam rears its ugly head…

Our Sages, of blessed memory, state (Yoma 9b): “Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because of the follow three sins that occurred there: idol worship, immorality, and murder. Yet, in the period of the Second Temple, they were involved in Torah study, mitzvos, and acts of kindness-so why was it destroyed? As a result of the baseless hatred that was there. Rebbi Yochanan and Rebbi Eliezer both said, ‘Since concerning the First Temple, their trangressions were revealed-their time of redemption was revealed. In the Second Temple, where their sins were not revealed-their time of redemption was not revealed.’

If I was to do a study of the greatest problems facing our generation, I’d probably start by looking at the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.

Yes, I’m serious.  If you were not aware, the Chofetz Chaim writes that when the Gemara says sinas chinam (baseless hatred) it also includes lashon hara (hurtful speech), which is a product of sinas chinam.  So by causually looking at the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation (CCHF) and it’s programs, one can easily get an idea of some problems within our people as a Nation.

Some of the previous video topics have been (and this list in no real order, as I dug out my cassettes and cds tonight):
WHO WILL PUT OUT THE FIRE– Maximizing the power of Shmiros Haloshon and Ahavas Yisrael
A TIME TO HEAL– Realizing that each Jew is someone who is a precious as each of us is
CHANGING GOLUS TO GEULAH– Shimiros Haloshon as the path to Geulah
SHAPING A WORLD OF KINDNESS– How acts of Ahavas Yisrael can shape a world that reflects Hashem
IF YOU DON’T CRY WHO WILL?- Sharing the yoke of a fellow Jew
WORD BY WORD– Understanding the destructiveness of Ona’as Devorim

It seems that every year, the board of directors of the CCHF seem to turn on the proverbial Bat-Signal alerting us to an important aspect of tikun haMiddos.  I applaud them.  This year the topic is LETTING GO OF ENVY.  Again, this is a major problem on fronts such as: finances, shidduchim, success in chinuch, relationships, number of comments on blog posts (just joking), vacations, etc.

So these are the problems that have come up over the past few years.  They all center around words.  Words are the main vehicle that we use when dealing with others.  Things we shouldn’t say and things we probably should say.  I admit, this is all mostly fluff.  It’s all easier said (or written) than done.

I’m sure had this been an alternate world, we’d be viewing videos from the CCHF titled:
DON’T BE A HATER– Learning that “baseless” means there’s no foundation in reality
KEEP YOUR MOUTH QUIET– How not speaking at times is even more important than speaking
LOVING YOUR FELLOW JEW IS A MITZVAH…BECOMING FRIENDS WITH EVERYONE ON FACEBOOK ISN’T– Truly understanding the importance and vaule of real friendship
GIVE IT UP– Applying Rav Dessler’s teachings about giving vs taking
EMES RULES AND SHEKER DROOLS– Alligning yourself with the truth is alligning yourself with Hashem

Dissagrements and misunderstanding happen, I know all too well.  Resolving such issues doen’t happen overnight.  Sometimes it takes almost 2000 years.   In fact, some issues cannot be resolved, so we just step back.  Eventually Hashem steps in.  That’s probably why there is a classic machloches about if we, mankind, will rebuild the Beis HaMikdash or will Hashem bring it down from shamayim.  In the end the result is the same…we will be dancing in the Beis HaMikdash.

Sunday’s Spark of Mussar

Rav Simcha Zissel Ziv, The Alter of Kelm
He aroused his small children early in the morning gently with the words, “Kinderlach, your’re sleeping away a kingdom!” for G-d appointed man king over creation.

From Sparks of Mussar by R Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik

The hashkafic implacations of strikethrough

From Wikipedia:
Strikethrough (also called strikeout) is a typographical presentation of words with a horizontal line through the center of them. Here is an example.

It signifies one of two meanings. In ink-written, typewritten, or other non-erasable text, the words are a mistake and not meant for inclusion. When used on a computer screen, however, it indicates recently-deleted information. (The difference is that in the latter situation, the struck-through text previously was a legitimate part of the document.) It can also be used for humorous purposes, such as something that normally shouldn’t be shown is shown anyway, but with the striketrough put on, rather than the text being deleted.

I admit, using strikethrough is nice, once in a while.  The new version of Blogger in draft allows one to publish using the typographic element of strikethrough.  In life I hardly ever use a pencil, I prefer pen.  When taking notes, if I make a mistake I simply mark it out with a pen.  I have no problem with this.  When it comes to typing a letter, email, or posting, I try to give as much of a finished product as possible.

When it come to Yiddishkeit and mitzvah performance, I’m not so sure where I stand on strikethrough.  One one hand, it’s important to show ourselves and others that we make mistakes, think before we speak, and attempt to even take back things that we say (this can also be done with the DELETE or BACKSPACE key).

On the other hand, there is much to be said for a “finished product”‘ that represents hard work, rough drafts, editing, and spellcheck (currently missing in “Blogger in draft”).  There are stuggles that one may have and accomplishments that one may have made that result in the “finished product”.  These struggle and accomplishments might be of a private nature that only a close friend may know about.  It may be that only Hashem was privy to know of these things.

When it comes to giving chizuk, showing that I made a mistake in a certain area, and thus, exercised a strikethough on a particular thought, action, or word has merit.  However, showing the process involved in correcting something or doing teshuva seems to have even more merit, in my mind, as the total end result should be shelaymus (perfection).