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Weekly Newsletter Message

What Netanyahu Did Not Say

Yesterday, at the UN general assembly, Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized Israel's great achievements in agriculture, health, water, cyber and in the fusion of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence. For example he shared how “Israel leads the world in recycling wastewater. We recycle about 90% of our wastewater. ……. the next country on the list only recycles about 20% of its wastewater, Israel is a global water power”

What he did not address was the secret to Israel’s success. How has a a country of 8 million, only 60 years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources become so successful in so many areas?

To understand the success or failure of any society you need to understand its unique culture.

When it comes to Israel though, there’s a challenge. Israel is the ultimate melting pot.  It  has absorbed more than 350 times its population in the last 60 years, by far more than any other nation on earth.

The only thing that all Israelis have in common is their Jewish heritage.  

The cuisine is different, the customs are different, the linguistics and celebrations are all different. But the Torah is the same.

There’s a whole Torah culture that includes a way of looking at life, a system of beliefs and a set of values that is shared by all Jewish Israelis, whether they be Ashkenazi, Sephardi, religious or secular.

Even the most secular Jew in Israel  is a product of generations of Jews that lived and breathed Judaism.  While he may not believe in, or practice Torah, he shares this culture. It’s in his DNA. Whether aware of it or not certain “Torah values” have been transmitted to him from previous generations.  

Judaism is not only a spiritual lifestyle, teaching you the best spiritual path. It is for real life. Real success. Success in relationships, happiness, well-being and even economic success.

The success we are witnessing in Israel today is the sum total, the product of 3000 years of Judaism and  Torah “culture”.

The Talmud declares “As my ancestors planted for me so do I plant for my children”

Israel, and by extension the entire world  today,  is reaping the benefits  of centuries of Torah life and Torah values. But the question each of ask must ask is, are we planting for our children? Will our children benefit from the culture of Torah as we are benefiting from our ancestors? The Torah’s culture cannot continue generation after generation without any conscious effort, without us ever looking into the Torah.

The Modern State of Israel unequivocally shows that when you apply Torah and Jewish values to the world in the 21st century, the result is a stunning success. Why not try it at home?   

Every time you add a little Judaism to your life or your children's, you have given yourself or  them critical tools to succeed in the real world.  

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

P.S. If you would like to find out more about this unique “Torah culture” that inspires such success consider joining our fall course “How Success Thinks”.  The course provides uniquely Jewish ways of thinking to help you develop a growth mindset, identify and cultivate your signature strengths, deal with your weaknesses, and overcome the obstacles to your success. Find out more here.

- Join us for a Farbrengen followed by Selichot, tomorrow night at 11pm

Longevity

Mazal Tov. Yisrael Kristal turned 113 years old yesterday.  September 15th marked 100 years since his Bar Mitzvah!

Earlier this year, Guinness world records officially recognized Yisrael Kristal, a holocaust survivor who barely survived Auschwitz, as the oldest man alive.

But Yisrael doesn't make a big deal about his age. He told Guinness “There have been smarter, stronger and better looking men then me who are no longer alive. My longevity is a gift from G-d”. He takes no credit for living so long.  But what he does take great pride in, and made a big deal out of in his Guinness interview,  is the fact that he has worn Tefillin every day (except Shabat and holidays) for 100 years!

His interview brings to mind the saying “Immortality lies not in how long you live, but in how you live.”  

More important than how many years you live, is how you fill those years.

We invest so much time and energy into our health. We exercise, eat healthy and go to doctors hoping to extend our years, but are we investing as much into the content of those years?

The first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, once wished to bless the renowned Chassid Reb Yekusiel Liepler with wealth. Reb Yekusiel  declined the offer, saying that he was afraid it would distract him from more spiritual pursuits. The Rebbe then offered to bless him  with long life. Yet Reb Yekusiel demurred, and replied, “but not peasant years. Not years of those ‘who have eyes, but do not see; who have ears, but do not hear’ — who neither see nor hear G-dliness.”


As far as he was concerned, the only life worth living was one filled with goodness. It matters not so much how many years one lives, but that one should truly be alive during those years.

Shabbat Shalom 

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

Responding with Greatness

Optimism doesn't mean that everything will be great.  That’s naivety. Optimism means seeing what’s great within everything.

This week's Torah portion begins, “See, I have placed before you today the blessing and the curse.” This can also be read as: See what I have placed before you today either as a blessing or a curse. We choose how to see our circumstances.

In his book, A Perfect God Created An Imperfect World Perfectly, Rabbi Dr. Elimelech Goldberg, founder of the organization Kids Kicking Cancer,  shares the story of Bernard Johnson.

Bernard had been with Kids Kicking Cancer for almost a year and a half. His mom had abandoned the family when he was very young. Bernard’s dad died a little after his eighth birthday. When he was nine their uncle passed away. That was the same year Bernard was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor that had already robbed him of the ability to walk. It was slowly stealing the rest of his body.

While he was still struggling with the cancer, at an event for Kids Kicking Cancer, Bernard shared a few words. Here’s what he had to say:

"And I want to teach you what we do in Kids Kicking Cancer,’ Bernard proclaimed in a loud voice. ‘You can breathe in the light which is your essence and blow out the darkness. You can do this no matter what is going on in your life.’

Optimism does not mean that everything is going to be great. It means that we can respond to everything with greatness.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

 

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