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Weekly Newsletter Message

Do Your Shoes Fit?

“Who is the rich man? One who is happy with his lot” – Talmud, Ethics of our Fathers

Easier said than done!

My life never quiet feels complete, there’s always that elusive something that is still missing and impedes my happiness.

As long as we are human, we see what others have and wish we could have it too. Whether it is their health, marriage, kids or wealth.

How can we train ourselves to be completely content and happy with our lot?

Every morning there’s a blessing that we recite thanking Hashem for providing us with all our needs.  What a beautiful way to start the day, content and happy. We have everything we need.

But twice a year, on Yom Kippur and the 9th of Av,  we skip this blessing. The common denominator between the two days is that both are days that we do not wear (leather) shoes.

Apparently there’s a connection between wearing shoes and being content.

The one thing we are never jealous of is another person’s shoes. You may want the other person’s suit, car or job but never his shoes - because his shoes don’t fit you. Your shoes fit you.  

Our shoes remind us to be content with our life because, while imperfect, it is the perfect fit. Another person’s life may seem more appealing but it doesn’t fit you. Each of us was given our unique circumstance, with its disadvantages and advantages, that is the perfect fit.

So look down at your shoes and thank Hashem for giving you ALL you need.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

Single Issue Election

There is one issue that matters in this election cycle.

Israel

Before you accuse me of dual loyalties, let me make it clear that this has nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with the United States.

Immigration, healthcare, criminal justice and war are all issues of morality. Even the economic issues that a President will deal with are mostly of a moral nature. Is it moral to allow some to struggle with poverty while others swim in riches? Is it moral to take more from the rich to help the middle class or poor?  Ultimately every political issue is really a moral issue.

So rather than look at each individual issue, one may be well served to measure the candidates’ overall moral vision.  Does this candidate have moral clarity?  

But is there a morality test? How do you really know if a politician has moral clarity? After all, most issues can, perhaps legitimately, be seen a number of ways. And on those issues that are clear-cut, for example racism, all politicians claim to agree.

The one exception is Israel.

When it comes to Israel many politicians and world leaders suddenly reveal their complete moral ignorance and confusion.

Anyone who can imply any sort of moral equivalency between a terrorist and his victim clearly lacks moral clarity. Anyone who blames the killing of innocents on the building of settlements, or even implies it, cannot distinguish between right and wrong.

Israel is the perfect morality litmus test.  It’s the one issue that’s so clear-cut on the one hand yet so many have gotten it wrong on the other.

If a candidate doesn’t “get it” when it comes to Israel, then I don’t trust he or she will “get it” with any other issue.

I have a lot more faith in a candidate who can clearly differentiate between right and wrong, between the only democracy in the Middle East and it’s neighbors that are sworn to its destruction.

Who is that candidate?  I’ll leave that to you to decide.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman
P.S. Join us for services followed by a light Shabbat dinner tonight at 5:30 pm

Teen Suicide

“Grim headlines, hard data show suicides on rise among teens nationally” - Fox News headline today

Unfortunately we know this all too well as another teen committed suicide this week by jumping in front of a Metro North train.

I once heard a story about a Rabbi who went to visit a teen hospitalized after attempting to commit suicide. The boy said “Rabbi, don’t waste you time. There was another clergy member here earlier and I already heard what you guys have to say”. 

“Really” said the Rabbi “and may I ask you what he said?” The boy responded “He said that G-d loves me and everyone loves me, so I shouldn’t commit suicide. But why should I have to live just because you or G-d loves me? If you need someone to love go buy a pet” The Rabbi said “you’re right. But G-d needs you. The fact that you are alive means that G-d needs you for something”

The boy immediately sat up in bed and began his long journey to recovery. The Rabbi gave this boy the gift of meaning and purpose

Love is important and nice but it’s not going to solve this terrible epidemic.

Love is all about me - everyone loves me. Purpose, on the other hand is all about others. (Purpose and meaning are not about my needs but rather what I’m needed for. Less me and more you.)

Today’s teens don’t need more, not even more love. From IPhones to flying drones they have it all. They actually need less, not less materialism but less of themselves. They don’t need to GET more, they need to GIVE more.

They can have it all, but with a strong sense of purpose our teens will NOT become self absorbed and self-centered and will be much happier as a result.  

We are much happier and more fulfilled when we focus on our mission more and ourselves less :)

Shabbat Shalom 

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

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