Weekly Newsletter Message

Mazal Tov!

As a fourth generation Englishmen, I called my father to wish him a Mazal Tov on the occasion of the birth of a new royal baby. “There’s just one thing that’s bothering me” I said, “who on earth dresses up like that seven hours after having a baby, with high heels and all!?” (I was referring to the now famous picture of Duchess Kate standing on the front steps of the Hospital shortly after giving birth)

“Well, she’s not just any mother” my father responded “She’s royalty, she represents the crown and the British people! She can’t exactly walk out in pajamas!”

Which got me thinking.

We all have a profound need deep inside of us to feel significant and will do whatever it takes to feel important. Often to our own detriment.

Everyone has their way of feeling significant. Some people work harder, others run for political office, while others turn to crime.

What makes you feel significant in the world? What do you do to feel important?

The problem is that no matter how much we achieve, deep down we still feel insignificant. At the end of the day, we sense that we are nothing more than a speck of dust in this vast universe, and the fact that we have one more zero on our bank statement or 100 or even 100,000 more friends on Facebook does nothing to change that reality.  

No matter how much we try it’s never enough, and as a result we are driven to earn even more money, reach higher office, wield more power, or act even more outlandish (think Hollywood J) all in the hopes of finally feeling significant! It’s never ending.

But Kate Middleton is different. Her significance doesn’t come from herself and her personal achievements, but from what she represents.

As long as we live only for ourselves, we are limited to ourselves, and will never feel significant. It is only once we rise above ourselves by representing something beyond ourselves that we begin to feel truly significant.

The picture of Kate on the hospital steps reminds us that our true significance comes from what we represent not what we accomplish.

The 2004 movie Miracle tells the story of the amazing victory of the US Men’s Hockey team. During one crucial scene, the coach yells at the players “When you pull on that jersey you represent yourself and your teammates. And the name on the front (USA) is far more important than the one on the back (their individual names)”

As long as you are solely focused on the name on the back of the jersey you can never attain true greatness.

Shabbat Shalom 

Rabbi Benjy Silverman 

A Guide To Misery

In this weeks Parsha we read about the laws of Tzaraat. Tzaraat (often mistranslated as “leprosy”) is a supra-natural plague, which can afflict people as well as garments or homes. 

When describing the status of a Tzaraat affliction on one’s clothing, the Torah states “Im lo hafach hanegah es eino”, if it has not changed “eino”, then the garment is rendered impure. “Eino” literally means his eye, so the verse can be read as saying that the garment is deemed impure because the individual did not change his “eye”, in other words; his problems stem from his perspective.

Often it is not one’s circumstances that needs changing but rather how one chooses to see those circumstances.

With the above in mind, I share with you a post I shared a few years ago.

A Guide To Misery

It's not easy to be miserable. Hopefully this short guide will help:

1. Feel Entitled.

The universe owes you a better life. Expect attention and respect from others.  Life owes you and you were put here to collect.

2. Focus on Problems.

Keep track and constantly review your problems. Remember you can't move on to anything unless everything is resolved.

3. Magnify.

Its difficult to be miserable when you keep things in perspective.

4. Be Ungrateful.

Discount all the good in your life as a given. Focus on all the ways life disappoints you. In time you'll even the see the bad in the good!

And don't forget, misery loves company, the more you share it with others the more you'll wind up having.

Shabbat Shalom, 
Rabbi Benjy Silverman 

What’s Wrong with Jewish Men?

Apparently, Jewish men care more about their Judaism than they think they do, and that is creating a problem for Carey Purcell.

The Washington Post recently published an article by Purcell titled “I’m tired of being a Jewish man’s rebellion”.  Purcell, a self-proclaimed WASP, complains about “two serious relationships with Jewish men who at first said religion didn’t matter – and then backtracked and decided it did”

While the article was widely ridiculed for its anti-Semitic undertones and for foolishly blaming overbearing Jewish mothers and rebellious sons, it actually touches upon an important truth that many Jews themselves are unaware of; Judaism is more important to us than we may realize. We may claim to be indifferent, but Judaism is engraved within our souls.

A couple of days ago I received an email from a non-Jewish woman regarding her Jewish husband. “Rabbi Benjy, I have a question that weighs on me, and I can’t seem to get an answer that makes sense:   If one does not believe in G-d, why would one celebrate holidays like Passover and Yom Kippur? It makes no sense to me at all.”

She’s right, it makes no sense, as long as you understand Judaism as a religion. But it’s not. A religion is something you believe in and do, but Judaism is not a religion, it is our very identity. And even if we think we don’t believe nor care, Judaism is still the very core of our being. This is what she and Purcell are perceiving.

In the book “The Top Five regrets of the Dying” hospice nurse Bronnie Ware shares the number one regret of the dying; “I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself” in other words, I wish my life would have reflected what was really important to me, and for the Jew, that’s his or her Judaism.

Since Judaism is so important to us, we should have the courage to allow it to find expression in our daily lives so that we live life true to ourselves.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.