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Forgive and Keep Going

January 11, 2017

In the Biblical story of Joseph, we learn of his magnanimous forgiveness.

Here is a very abbreviated version, that teaches us how to move forward, so that we can get to where we are meant to be.

Joseph had been thrown into a pit and then sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.  He later spent years in prison and eventually became a ruler in Egypt under Pharaoh.

Twenty years later when reunited with his brothers he harbored no resentment and told them to not be sad over what they had done to him.  He understood and explained to them that he wouldn’t be where he was without this journey imposed upon him.

Through this journey he learned to have faith.  Faith that this was G-d’s plan for him.  Faith that all that happened was eventually for the good.  He was able to move forward to great accomplishments because that faith allowed him to let go of the anchor of anger, grudges, or resentment.

 “Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom” – Hannah Arendt

“Anger begins with madness and ends with regret.” – Ben Hamelech V’Hanazir

“Don’t carry a grudge. While you’re carrying a grudge the other guy is dancing.” – Buddy Hackett

“Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” – Rebbetzin Feige Twerski

If you develop the attitude of that faith, then you will understand that you have to go through what you have to go through to get you where you are meant to be.  Having that faith will make the journey a little easier and keep you focused on the finish line.

Part of the If You Are Always Looking Back, Then Your Future Will Look Like Your Past series

Heart and Soul

Healthy and Happy New Year 2017

January 4, 2017

It’s not too late to wish you a Healthy and Happy New Year!!

Here is a thought as we begin a New Year to get and keep you moving towards making your dreams a reality.

Another New Year, another new beginning that we celebrate.  Another New Year that we make promises/resolutions to ourselves with an eye towards reaching our goals.

There are lots of new beginnings.  There is a new year, a new month, a new week, a new day, a new moment……  Each new is another opportunity to reignite the enthusiasm you had at the beginning of the last new.  Treat each new as if you were hitting the refresh button.  If you celebrate each new as another opportunity, you can find enthusiasm and excitement constantly.

 “The beginning is embedded in the end, and the end is embedded in the beginning”. – Sefer Yetzirah 1:7

From year to year, from new to new, the passage of time may dilute the enthusiasm you had at the beginning.  The ultimate new is the next moment.  So cherish the new of every new and especially every moment.  Remind yourself with every new to keep the enthusiasm in the present.

You were given life for this moment, so that you can give this moment life.

The most important ingredient of you reaching your goals, is the Doing!!  “Wishing and hoping… and planning and dreaming”*,  – “Won’t get you where you want to go”**.  It’s the doing that will get the results.

For a new to truly be a new beginning means not being anchored to the past.  It is an opportunity to leave it behind.  Leave the past behind, except for remembering the lessons you learned and create the present……Enthusiastically!!

Healthy and Happy 2017

*”Wishing and Hoping”,Dionne Warwick

**Words of Love, the Mamas and Papas

Heart and Soul

You Don’t Have To Be Jewish To Enjoy Latkes

December 26, 2016

You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy Latkes and you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy Chanukah’s lessons and miracles.

Here are some of the lessons that apply to all

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 which then lasted for eight days.

The miracle of the oil burning for eight days represents the victory of light over darkness, both literally and figuratively.

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

“A little light will dispel much darkness.”   —   Tzeda LaDerech

 “Such is the way of creation: First comes darkness, then light” – Talmud Shabbat 77b

On the Menorah is a head candle called the Shamash, which is used to light all the other candles.  The Shamash 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.

“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 Merry Christmas

and to all a good light

*Based on a teaching of the Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Black Swans*

December 8, 2016

In this last election, we learned that the pundits and pollsters were wrong.

The experts predicted Hillary Clinton would win and they were wrong.  The stock market experts then predicted a market decline and they were wrong.  The experts predicted that the Brexit vote would lose and they were wrong.  The economic calamity predicted by the Brexit vote winning was wrong.

One has to wonder what other accepted conventional wisdom is or will be wrong.

Many of us, and perhaps too much of the time, rely on and just accept what the experts(?) tell us.  How does that affect your life?

“When everyone thinks alike, no one thinks very much.”   —   Walter Lippmann

The greatest leaders in history beginning with Abraham, lived the life of the

“heroism of ordinary life, being willing to live by one’s convictions though all the world thinks otherwise, being true to the call of eternity, not the noise of now.” – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

One can easily make a list of great leaders who lived this life, at least to some degree.  Let me get you started, with just a few of the many examples of the non-Biblical names: The Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King,Jr., Steve Jobs …………

Who is on your list?  What can, or have you learned from them?

They all shared common traits in that they thought for themselves, they didn’t go along to get along, they weren’t looking to be popular (although they ended up being popular?), they had the strength of their conviction, didn’t bend or give up……

What can you learn from each of them so as to be true to yourself?  If you don’t think for yourself, then how can you be yourself?  If you are not yourself, what do you bring and add to the party?  If you are not yourself, then how can you truly be happy?

It is easier to just accept the conventional wisdom, rather than thinking for yourself.  It is easy to seek the comfort of being popular by going along to get along, but that doesn’t actually get you or the world anywhere.

“If I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. But, if I am I because you are you, and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you.” – R’Mendel of Kotzk

 “What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.” – Albert Einstein

 “If I’m going to sing like someone else, then I don’t need to sing at all.” – Billie Holiday

“To be a person of truth, be swayed neither by approval nor disapproval. Work at not needing approval from anyone and you will be free to be who you really are.”   —   Rebbe Nachman

*The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. The term is based on an ancient saying which presumed black swans did not exist, but the saying was rewritten after black swans were discovered in the wild.  To learn more, read the book “The Black Swan”, by Nicholas Taleb Nassim

Heart and Soul

Thoughts On Election Thoughts

November 30, 2016

It is not the province of the Spinning Rabbi to talk about politics, so I won’t.

Nonetheless, I am well aware of how difficult and divisive this past election has been.  It has provoked strong feelings on both sides.

I write this piece with the desire to provide some thoughts for all on how we can each heal and come together.

To the Clinton voters

Many of Hillary Clinton’s voters are feeling angry and depressed now.

Anger is energy wasted.  It only keeps you stuck.  That energy can be redirected into positive action to fix that which angers you.  The same is true of depression.  If you allow that which you find wrong to anger or depress you, then it conquers and owns you.  If conquered, you cannot climb your mountain, instead you live life on a merry go round.  Letting go of the hold of anger will allow you to fix that which you consider broken in a positive and constructive way.

“Anger begins with madness and ends with regret.” –  Ben Hamelech V’Hanazir

To the Trump Voters 

Many of you voted for Donald Trump because you believe that things were going in the wrong direction.  You were also upset with how you felt you were treated.

Presumably you are happy now.  If so, ask yourself if you are happy that your side won, or because the other side lost.  One can’t truly be happy when the person next to you is sad.  Celebrate in a way that leaves room for others.

To All

The story below is meant to be considered in order to begin some healing for all.  It will hopefully help and begin to bring us all back together.  Together to create the country and world we wish to have.

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.”

Bigger here means, bigger than you are now as opposed to bigger than an other.

This is from a true story that we can all store as a reminder for and to ourselves.*  It’s a reminder to ask ourselves, if we are guilty of pushing others down.

Be honest with yourself, as hard as that is for all of us, and ask yourself whether you, or your side, are acting as the older/shorter brother and if so how to change that.  Change that, so that we may all grow.  When we all grow, we will have the world we all wish for.

In addition if you see someone pushing someone else down, in any form, you 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.

Heart and Soul

*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.

Happy Day of Giving Thanks 2016

November 23, 2016

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.

This year, perhaps more than other years, with concerns for so many about the election and all the related issues, taking a moment to think about that which you are thankful for, can be healing.  Then, if those concerns are still there, one can address them in a positive action oriented way.

What are you Thankful for?

Who are you Thankful for?  Let them know!

Thank You for being a friend of The Spinning Rabbi

Heart and Soul

“Time Is On My Side”*?

September 20, 2016

Or is it?

You’re walking in a park and you see an old man quietly sitting on a bench alone in thought, perhaps he’s 90 or more.  What do you think he is thinking about?

None of us knows how much time we were given or we have left, but certainly someone of his age knows that his days are indeed numbered.

Is he thinking about the past.  If so, is it about regrets and woulda, coulda, shoulda…..?   Or is he thinking about the past with pride in what he accomplished for the good with his time?

Is he thinking about loved ones still here and some not and the love he gave and had?

Is he thinking about the time he has left?  Is he thinking about that with fear?  Or does he say to himself, “If I’m still here, then I’m still needed, so what good can I do with the time left”?

At ninety-one the great cellist Pablo Cassals was asked why he still practiced, he said “because I am making progress”

“If you won’t be better tomorrow then you were today, what do you need tomorrow for?” — Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

“What grows never grows old.”   —   Noah Benshea

“Most of us go to our graves with our music still left inside of us”. – Oliver Wendell Holmes

What you think he is thinking about, is probably what you think about, no matter your age.  So ask yourself, which set of thoughts will lead to a more productive use of  your time left and hence lead to more happiness and joy.

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” – Sam Levenson

Time is the most precious non-renewable resource of all

Heart and Soul

*Rolling Stones



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