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The Miracle Of Light

December 18, 2014

Jews all over the world are now celebrating Chanukah, the celebration of many miracles.  From the victory of a small band of men fighting for their religious freedom against a very large and well equipped army, to one days worth of olive oil used to light the Menorah lasting for eight days.

The miracle of the oil represents the victory of light over darkness.

At nighttime, Jews place their lit Menorah in doorways or windows to bring light to the dark street and to all who see it.

On the Menorah is a head candle called the Shamash, which is used to light all the other candles.  A candle lights other candles without losing any of its own light.  Each of us can be like the Shamash and bring light to all whose lives we come into contact with.  When we are like the Shamash, not only do we keep our light, we actually shine brighter.  We all have that power through acts of goodness, kindness, and charity.

“Light vanquishes the darkness.” – Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, The Rebbe

“From one burning candle many candles are lit, yet its own light is not diminished.” – Numbers 11:17

Here is another powerful and universal message from Chanukah, the miracle of light.*

Of all the special qualities of a pretty and delicious olive, its essence is found in its oil when lit, producing its light.  In order to get to the olives essence, it must first be crushed to produce the oil.  So too in our lives, we sometimes are or feel crushed – by pain and suffering, loss, struggle, and disappointment – and just like the olive, it is then that our essence can be revealed.  It is in those moments that you may find your essence and with it bring your light to the world.

Happy Chanukah

and to all a good light

*Based on a teaching of the Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson

You Can Be More Attractive

December 10, 2014

A recent study* has found that which has been known before, and that is that “good-looking” people are liked more than others based on first impressions.  This study confirms that this is the case, based solely on visual first impressions.  More importantly, this study goes further and finds that when one learns more about the person they are viewing, the attractiveness rating of the viewed person either increases or decreases.  These results show that a person initially rated attractive, based solely on appearance, can actually appear less attractive and vice-versa.


When qualities/character of a person are learned, perceptions of attractiveness change.

So if a person who is visually attractive is found to have negative personality traits, they actually become less visually attractive.

If a person who is visually unattractive is found to have positive personality traits, they become more visually attractive.

What are positive personality traits? (Do I really need to tell you?)

Kindness, compassion, positive outlook, etc., etc., etc.

So remember this study when presenting yourself.  To be and appear more attractive have or develop positive personality traits.  Do this not only for the sake of being perceived as a more attractive person, although that’s nice, but for the sake of being perceived and being a more attractive human being.  As the song says “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep”, the Temptations.

Also do it for what it might do for others.  Positive personality traits will rub off on another who might need a lift.

 “Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.” – Leonard Cohen


A person with a smile on their face conveys positive personality traits, even before anything is learned about that person.  A smile always makes one more attractive.

Smile at a person who isn’t smiling and see how infectious a smile can be.

“Smile – it’s the second best thing you can do with your lips.” – Don Ward

 “It takes 17 muscles to smile,and 47 muscles to frown. Conserve energy.” – unknown

Sing along with me…

“There’s a smile on my face for the whole human race…….. , from the song by Jerome Kern,Oscar Hammerstein ll

*for more on the study click here


Heart and Soul


A First Date and First impressions

December 4, 2014

In a recent post, “Assumptions and First Impressions”, we discussed the err of making and spreading evaluations of others based on first impressions and first impressions only.

Following up on that, here is an idea for those in the dating world looking for their soulmate.

If that applies to you, here is an idea for a little dating game.  This game will help you get a deeper and more meaningful first impression.


You are on a first, let’s say having dinner.  Pick out another couple in the restaurant and ask your date to tell you a story about them.  Such as: Are they a couple?  Is it a first date or are they in a relationship or married?  Are they Happy?  What do they do?  etc., etc., etc.

Listen carefully to your date’s answer.  In addition to how creative and rich with detail the story is, is it positive or negative.  Is it kind or harsh.

The story created can tell you a great deal about your date.

If your date’s story is negative and dark, at a minimum be careful.

If your date’s story is positive and uplifting, then there are some good possibilities with this person.

Then, after listening to your date’s story telling, ask yourself (be Honest) if it is similar to the story you would tell.

If your date’s story was negative and your story matches that, don’t fool yourself and think you are a match.

If your dates story is positive and uplifting and it doesn’t match yours, quickly ask for another date.  That person is someone who can help you grow, if they’ll have you.  If not, at least you will hopefully learn something about yourself, and you will be a better date for someone else.

If your dates story is positive and yours matches …….Bingo!!

 Heart and Soul





Happy Day of Giving Thanks

November 26, 2014

We so quickly and casually say “Happy Thanksgiving” that we often miss and forget that it’s a day for actually giving Thanks. Of course, so is every day and we begin everyday with Thanks.

What are you Thankful for?

Who are you Thankful for?  Let them know!

Thank You for being a friend of The Spinning Rabbi (and Fred Fox too)

Heart and Soul

Assumptions and First Impressions

November 24, 2014

The previous post, “Put Both Feet Forward”, said to be aware that first impressions matter for ourselves.  While we should be aware, we should also recognize that it is wrong for us to join the crowd and quickly form opinions of others based on first impressions.  Here’s why:

All of us, and some more than others, and some more sometimes, think and act as though we are trained psychotherapists and or detectives.  The truth of course is that must of us are not.  That we are not partially explains why it’s wrong to so quickly analyze others and hence why we are so often wrong in our conclusions.  Coming to those wrong conclusions often leads to a quick conclusion of any kind of relationship.

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” – Henry Winkler

We assume. We make assumptions based on little or biased information. We make judgments and decisions about what someone said or did, or didn’t say or do, or how they did or didn’t do it or say it.

Our assumptions are also formed through the prism of how we see things, from our perspective, from our life experience.  We don’t allow for the possibility that different people with different life experiences, or strengths and weaknesses may perform.  By being open to another’s approach you may learn something that further enables you to climb your mountain.

Then we are wrong for sharing our conclusions with others about others.

Instead of assuming we should  first get more information, including or particularly about ourselves. There is a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, that when you see something in another that you don’t like, you are to see that person as though you were looking at your own reflection in a pool of water.

Then you can share your conclusions if it passes what Socrates called the “Triple Filter Test”.

“Many people love falsehood. Few love the truth. Because falsehood can be loved truly, but truth cannot be loved falsely.” — Rebbe Yaakov Yitzchak of Peshischa

 Heart and Soul







Put Both Feet Forward

November 20, 2014

First impressions do matter.  This may not be the way it should be, but at least for now this is the way it is.  So keep this in mind for every first meet.  This could be for a date, informal introduction, job interview, sales call, etc.

Even if you get a second date or the job, you might still suffer from what is called “diagnosis bias”.  The other person’s perception of you will always be somewhat influenced by their initial reaction.  Do not fall into the trap of being a little sloppy and thinking it was okay because no one pointed it out to you.  Just because the person you meet doesn’t mention that your shoelaces are untied, doesn’t mean that they aren’t aware of it and won’t remember it.  Imagine if an actor came on stage and flubbed their first few lines, the audience will have a hard time forgetting that.  The actor can recover but it is harder than starting out well.

The difference between you and the actor, is that the actor is playing the role of another, you are playing the role of you.  Always present your very best.  After all, at every moment, with everyone you meet, in all that you do, you are always representing you.

The above is not to be confused with presenting yourself in ways meant to please the other.  Present yourself and represent yourself means to always maintain your dignity.  You present yourself, not necessarily to please another but necessarily to please yourself, by being your truest you.

While it may not be right for others to judge so quickly, being aware of it can be used as a reminder for you to present your very best.  Through practice and practicing of consciously presenting your very best each time, you will eventually do this automatically.

Until then, after every interaction, ask yourself if you presented and represented you in a way that you are pleased with.  If not, what could you have done differently and how will you remember to do that the next time.

Presentation Tips and Reminders

 “Character is a person’s only real possession.” – Rabbi Israel Salanter

 “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; The tree is the real thing.” – Abraham Lincoln

“True human dignity does not shout; it is a strong, steady voice that speaks from within.” – Simon Jacobson

Heart and Soul

How To Get Bigger

November 11, 2014

Great stories with valuable lessons are worth and need repeating.  The story below is certainly one of them, so here it is again.

There were two young brothers ages eight and ten. The younger brother was the taller one. We all know, and men certainly remember that for boys height is really important. So naturally the older, shorter brother was very jealous of his younger, taller brother.  One day, while playing in the backyard, the older, shorter brother pushed the younger, taller brother into a little ditch. This wasn’t done in order to hurt or knock him down, but rather to make him appear shorter. At which point the older, now looking taller brother gave a “Nah, nah, nehnahna, I’m taller than you!” Their father, a Rabbi, witnessed this and called over the older brother.  The Father told him to bring over a chair and stand on it.  The boy complied and then asked why he was standing on a chair and his father said,

“Whenever you want to be bigger, you raise yourself up, instead of pushing someone else down.”

This is from a true story that we can all store as a reminder for and to ourselves.*  In addition if we see someone pushing someone else down, in any form, we might share this story with them as a subtle hint.

We climb our mountain by always elevating ourselves.  We do it by elevating ourselves in all that we do. We do not do it at the expense of anyone else, but for our and everyone else’s benefit.  On that climb we may also inspire others to have the strength to make their climb.

*When I originally posted this I said “I have no recollection of where I read it .  I wish to apologize for not giving proper credit to the true author.”  My Rabbi (a real Rabbi) has now reminded me – see below

The story is attributed to the 5th Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Schneerson. He recounted the story of his youth that happened with him and his older brother, Zalman Aron. He subsequently became the Rebbe instead of his older brother as well.

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