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You Don’t Have To Be Jewish To Enjoy Latkes *

December 13, 2020

You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy Latkes (potato pancakes fried in oil) and you don’t have to be Jewish to gain from some of Chanukah’s lessons and miracles.

Perhaps this year, as we all continue to feel the darkness of this the pandemic, these lessons are especially important to contemplate and remember.  Doing so may be bring you a little light.

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 the religious freedom of the Jewish people against a very large and well equipped army.  To one days worth of olive oil used to light the Menorah (candelabra) for rededicating the Temple, which then miraculously  lasted for eight days.

 

Here are some of my favorite lessons that apply to all

The miracle of the victory and of the oil burning for eight days represents light overcoming 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

On the Menorah is a head candle called the Shamash, which is used to light all the other candles.  The Shamash lights the other candles without losing any of its own light.  Like the Shamash, each of us can bring our light to all whose lives we come into contact with. We all have that power through acts of goodness, kindness, and charity.  More than like the Shamash, not only do we keep our light when we share it, we actually shine brighter!

“From one burning candle many candles are lit, yet its own light is not diminished.” – The Sages

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 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, illness, fears, 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.

As we continue to feel as though we are being Covid crushed, we can come out of this having found our essence.  Each of us can then bring more of our light to the darkness and dispel it.  Not just pandemic darkness but all darkness!

Happy Chanukah

Be Good Do Good Think Good Be Healthy

*Another updated “Oldie But Goodie”

 

Your Life Is Your Coach*

December 8, 2020

In the last post “The Spinning Rabbi’s Approach To Life”, I laid out a metaphorical approach that hopefully creates a mindset for taking on all the challenges presented to you knowing that they’re ultimately for your benefit.

Here I wish to present another metaphorical approach.  In the hope that one of them inspires you.

Life as Your Coach, or is, or your ultimate personal trainer G-d, will send you tests and struggles (drills and exercises) all designed to help you find the you, you are meant and created to be.  What is sent your way may not be what you want, but what your coach knows you need.  He knows you and knows your strengths and weaknesses.  He will, over time, send you these tests designed to improve upon your strengths and turn your weaknesses into strengths.  Viewed this way, allows you to accept that these tests are for your good.

Let’s use the sport of Boxing as a metaphor again to help explain.

A boxing coach will have you do all sorts of drills and exercises, designed for you, to prepare you to enter the ring.  He knows you and what specifically it takes to get you ready.  He will begin by training you in all the basics and continue to reinforce them.  When ready, he will have you spar or fight many different kinds of opponents.  Each opponent that you face has a different style and therefore you must be prepared for them.  So the training that the coach gives you will be different for each opponent.  All of the experiences and all you learn from these opponents, will make you a better boxer and prepare you to go pro.  The longer it takes you to learn (that’s up to you), the longer it takes before the coach let’s you go pro.

Could you have gotten there without all that the coach put you through?  Would you have chosen to go through the drills on your own?

Try this for an exercise…. Train yourself to think of every challenge as just an opponent trying to defeat you and block you from realizing your dreams and goals.  When you see life’s challenges this way, you will see them as necessary steps and lessons along the way, preparing you to realize your dreams and goals, rather than seeing them as walls.  When you view each opponent as a necessary opportunity to get stronger, healthier,and better, you won’t be fearful and you might even look forward to them.  So remember…Who/whatever enters the ring with you…You are RWAready, willing, and able

With this attitude, make a list of the types of opponents/struggles that you have fought so far.  Review the tapes (in your head) of those fights.  Focus on

1. How you got through to the end of the fight

2. What you could improve on

3. What you learned about yourself

So now, sing along with me, “It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight, rising up to the challenge of our rival”, Survivor – from Rocky 3

“In life, it doesn’t matter how hard you hit, it’s how hard you can get hit and still keep moving forward.”  – Rocky Balboa from Rocky 6

“Experience is the best teacher, and the worst experiences teach the best lessons.” — Unknown

“The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.” — Unknown 

 Be Good Do Good Think Good Be Healthy

*”Oldie But Goodie” updated

The Spinning Rabbi’s Approach To Life

November 5, 2020

The following is the Spinning Rabbi’s suggested approach to your journey. When you adopt this metaphorical approach you will develop and have a positive attitude. With a positive attitude you will find some good in all that comes your way and become increasingly joyful.

This has been posted here before and now I’m posting it again because it’s always a good reminder.

You Cannot Lower Your Mountain,  You Can Elevate Yourself!

Your mountain is the metaphor for your life’s journey.  The climb indicates the challenges and struggles.  Every challenge, test, or struggle may not be what you want. It is what you need or are needed for, at that moment.

Think of “your mountain” as a series of hill and plateaus. Each hill is the struggle, followed by a plateau where you digest the accomplishment of getting to the top of that hill, and prepare for the next hill.

You were born at the base of your mountain and the human you were destined and created to become is waiting for you at the top of your mountain.  At the top of your mountain is not a pot of gold, but a pot for you to deposit all the nuggets of gold, mined from all of your experiences, you collected along the way.

Every step on your climb has a reason. Every person or event is presented to you for a reason. You may not know the reason. You do know, or should come to know, that it is either for the benefit of others, or to further prepare you for your purpose and mission, or both.

You have free will; therefore you have the choice as to how you respond in all situations.  With free will, know that there will be times when you may make the wrong choice and take the wrong turn. Be confident that there will be signs along the way directing you back as long as you look for them.

You can adopt this “your mountain” attitude, which will then assist you in fulfilling your potential in everything you do. If you always strive to reach your fullest potential available to you at every moment, you will be training yourself to do that in all that you do. You will then realize that you can find joy in all that comes your way once you recognize that it is ultimately for the good.

Knowing that the true you, your ultimate potential, awaits you at the top of “Your Mountain”, should inspire you to continue the climb. Accept that every challenge and struggle on the way up is there to strengthen, teach and prepare you for you.  Accepting that will give you the courage and strength coupled with the excitement to take on all that comes your way. You will learn to relish each challenge as you get stronger and wiser each time you take it on.  Just as an athlete looks forward (not without some degree of fear, hence the adrenaline rush) to the next competition.

The ultimate goal of getting to the top is the goal of discovering you. You will get there by tapping in to the all that’s available to you at every moment in all that you do.  All that you do means just that, in and with everything and everyone that comes your way.  Elevating yourself means constantly tapping into to your other-centric giving you.

This is the pervasive theme of all that you will read on this site.  I invite you to make this your mantra:

I cannot lower my mountain, but I can always elevate myself

Be Good Do Good Think Good Be Healthy

Your Reality TV Show Episode 3 (A Rerun)

October 26, 2020

On your Reality TV show, giving the power to define you to your audience could also mean you are succumbing to the values and mores of the time, rather than what is right and good throughout time.  When you succumb this way, you will again always be chasing rather than finding happiness.

How can one be happy when they are doing that which they intrinsically know they shouldn’t be doing.  Life is not a popularity contest, although wouldn’t it be nice if doing what is right, simply because it is right, was more popular?

We could use the Biblical Abraham here as a role model. Abraham is often described as gentle, kind, gracious and courageous.  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks goes a little further and describes Abraham as having lived 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.”

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

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”  – Thomas Jefferson

“Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.” – Omar N. Bradley

Very Important

On your show, always remember to keep a smile on your face

“Always wear a smile. The gift of life will then be yours to give.” — Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Be Good Do Good Think Good Be Healthy

see Episode 1 and 2

Your Reality TV Show (A Rerun)

October 15, 2020

The last post (click here to read) reminded me of an old series I posted starting in 2013 called “Your Reality TV Show”. So I’m reposting some of the series now. Here are Episodes 1 and 2.

Episode 1

With all the popularity of Reality TV shows, imagine for a moment that your life was a reality show.  What and how would you truly want people to see you?  Does that match what they are seeing?  

Let’s go a step further, imagine that you suddenly got amnesia and you are watching the reality show of your life, what would you think of the person (which is you) that you see?  Would you want to watch your show again?  Would you make changes?  What would they be?

Episode 2

If you don’t like what you see on your Reality TV show, ask yourself the following: do you want people to see what you think they want to see, or do you have the courage and conviction of letting them see the true you?

Don’t confuse what you truly want people to see, the real you, with what you think they want to see.  Seeking popularity and fame via your reality show means giving others the power to dictate who you are, or should be.  When you give up that power, you will always be chasing popularity and never find true happiness.  Have the courage to show and be your true self.  You’ll be surprised at how many more tune in.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – Dale Carnegie

“If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of me.” – Dwight L. Moody

Be Good Do Good Think Good Be Healthy

Don’t Wear A Mask

October 1, 2020

Now that I have your attention – Sorry this is not about protective masks for Covid, as important as that is

It’s thoughts about how we present ourselves to the world.  Whether you show the true you or not.  If it’s not the true you that you let people see, then you are wearing a mask.  If you are wearing that mask, then you’re conscious or unconscious reasons might be protective.  Or you just want to go along to get along.

People that have dogs and dog lovers think every dog and everything a dog does “is soooooo cuuute”!!

Does the dog know it’s cute?  Does the dog do things to be cute?  Or is a dog so cute just because it is just who it is?

Do you do things so that people will think you’re cute and like you?  Is being popular and liked the most important to you?  Like Sally Field said “You like me”.  If you do, you are wearing a mask.

“I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” – Herbert Bayard Swope 

How often have you heard someone say they are trying to find themselves?  Unfortunately, they rarely do because they continue to look in the wrong places.  They sometimes look to others to define themselves rather than looking within.  They do what others like and hope that they, themselves will like it, as opposed to doing what they like and hope that others will like it.  Don’t confuse what you truly want people to see, the real you, with what you think they want to see.

Once you have covered morality, ethics, kindness, and empathy, then do what it is that you truly like.  If you are not true to yourself, your soul, you cannot be happy.  So you lose and we all lose. Have the courage to show and be your true self.  Sing along “Who are you, who, who, who, who…” The Who.

I woman I know, once confided in me that in her dating experiences, she was always worried that the man would find out who she really was.  She was afraid that he wouldn’t care for her if he knew her problems and hangups.  I asked her, “Do you want him to fall for you or someone else that looks exactly like you?  What if he does and then finds out you’re not who he fell for?”

In the Spinning classes that I lead, I play certain types of music.  Mostly Oldies.  Some have asked me, “why don’t you play more current music?”  I tell them that I play the music I like and hope you like it.  I don’t play the music you like and hope I like it.  If I didn’t play the music I like, I wouldn’t like being in my own class.

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

 “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” – Dolly Parton

“One who desires the attention of others, has not yet found himself.” – Rabbi Shlomo Wolfe

Each of us was created uniquely.  There is no one else just like us…no one.  Each of our paths is like no other.  This is a beautiful thing.  Each of us in our uniqueness adds something to the world that no one else can.

The world could not exist without your unique addition.  Think of yourself as a piece in a jigsaw puzzle.  There is no other piece with the exact shape as yours and the puzzle cannot be completed without your piece.  If you’re wearing that mask, then your piece won’t fit and you are cheating yourself and all the rest of us.

The story is told that the great 15th century Kabbalist, the Ari, could read people’s faces.  When people would pass him on the street,  many would cover their faces because they felt that he saw past the mask and they were ashamed.

“The wisdom of the person shines in the face.” – Ecclesiastes 8:1

Don’t wear a mask!  Let you shine through.  You will be happier and so will we.

More than happy, you will find joy and fulfillment.  When you do, you can continue to climb your mountain, no matter how steep and treacherous it sometimes becomes.

Be Good Do Good Think Good Be Healthy

Only You*

September 17, 2020

The Jewish people are about to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, generally known as the Jewish New Year.

I wish to share with all of you, one of the many inspiring lessons of this commemoration.  A lesson that can help each of us, whatever our faith, climb our mountain.

Rosh Hashanah doesn’t commemorate the first day of creation, it celebrates the creation of mankind, Adam, which was on the sixth day.

One might ask then, why was Adam created alone rather than one of many?

Adam was created on purpose with a specific purpose and he knew it.  Being only one, only he could accomplish his purpose or mission.  All depended on him.

A Lesson For All

We are all created with a uniquely specific purpose and mission.  If we think of ourselves as an Adam, then we realize that our purpose is also ours alone and all depends on each of us.  We can’t expect someone else to do it for us.  Sing along “Only you can make this world seem right / Only you can make the darkness bright / Only you and you alone!”*  This is a powerfully inspiring thought, that reminds each of us of how valuable our lives are, individually and collectively.

The Creation narrative says “In the beginning the Almighty created. .. . ” to teach us that He only created the beginning. The remainder is left to us.   —   Rebbe Leibele Eiger of Lublin

Or maybe, the reason Adam was created alone was so that he couldn’t kvetch, go to a therapist, and blame his problems on his parents or anyone else!😀

L’Shana Tova A Good And Sweet Year

Be Good Do Good Think Good Be Healthy

*From the song “Only You” by The Platters

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