I often become startled – if not embarrassed when I find myself around those who hate to give. Pirkei Avot 5:13 teaches us that there are four types of givers. There is one who wishes to give but that others should not. He begrudges others! There is one who believes that others should give, but that he does not have to. He begrudges himself! There is one who gives and believes that others should give too. He is a Chassid (pious person)! Finally there is one who believes that he does not have to give, nor should others. He is wicked! When I find a situation of someone asking for help (especially a person dressed in rags – God forbid) other than considering my own responsibility to give, I find myself reciting this Mishnah. Indeed, the Mishnah is telling us the truth!
Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.
Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference and finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning there was a knock on John’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I‘m looking for a few days’ work,” he said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?”
“Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm.
“That’s my neighbor. In fact, it’s my younger brother! Last week there was a meadow between us. He recently took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll do him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence an 8-foot fence — so I won’t need to see his place or his face anymore.”
The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”
The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day — measuring, sawing and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.
The farmer’s eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all.
It was a bridge… a bridge that stretched from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all! And the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched..
“You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.”
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in middle, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder.
“No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother.
“I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, “but I have many more bridges to build.”
Parshat Balak tells us the story about a king ready to destroy the Jewish people. His reasoning – without any provocation or cause – based on made-up images that perhaps only a lunatic could consider. Having seen that Bnei Yisrael were successful in destroying the two kings – Sichon and Og, he imagined that he was next in line. His plan – to hire a magician to curse the Jewish people into oblivion.
Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam (1905-1994) – the Rebbe of Klausenberg was one of our generations greatest rabbis. He was known for his exceptional breadth of knowledge of all areas of Torah and his immense level of compassion for others.
Enjoy this wonderful production about the Rebbe – today – Gimmel Tammuz – on his 23rd Yahrtzeit.
Death! A word that conjures up little feelings of excitement – for most. Life – on the other hand, is the very purpose of existence. That word – when expressed in its most fullest manner, takes on feelings of joy and blessing.
A powerful motivational speech from Josh Shipp (Below). Once we are mature enough to realise the importance of others, one of our most important tasks is to take care of children, as the Torah teaches, “Where there are no kids (sic), there can be no goats” (Rashi to Isaiah 8:18). Everything about the goodness of this world begins with a child who grows up to become a success and to lead the next generation. When children are well taken care of and supported appropriately, “Educate the child according to his way; even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6), that child will grow up to become a success.
I am beyond excited when I see videos like this (see below)! I think they teach about life itself! They teach us – what we should already know as people. They teach us that we’re different, but that it doesn’t mean we have to be segregated from each other – let alone show animosity one to the other!
Certainly there are distinctions. One person may be a doctor, and another an electrician. One may have a very high IQ and another may not. One may have a large build, while another may be petite. These are qualities, characteristics and physical attributes that define something about us and why we are different. Let’s be clear, it doesn’t mean we have to melt into each other – as the common cliche speaks about the melting pot. What it does mean however, is that we need to value each other for who we are. We need to recognise the needs of others – as much as we recognise our own needs. We need others to value that in ourselves too! We need to be less judgmental and far more kind – even when everything just doesn’t seem to indicate it…
By Ori~ (Own work) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons
With regards to the Festival of Sukkot, the Torah tells us that, “And the Lord spoke to Moses saying: Speak to the Children of Israel and tell them, the 15th day of this seventh month shall be the Festival of Sukkot – seven days for the Lord… for seven days, you shall present a burnt offering to the Lord…
On the first day, you shall take for yourself a fruit of the citron tree (etrog), a palm frond (lulav), myrtle branches (hadas) and willows (aravah). You shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. During these seven days each year, you shall celebrate to God. It is an eternal law for all generations that you celebrate in the seventh month.