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Another Great Post On ParshaBlog

The proliferation of Segulahs and tricks to get your way with God is increasing daily.

The Yated (American Yeshivish news paper) has a Chinuch Roundtable where this issue was discussed. Almost to a man the Rabbis (one of whom is my father) warned of the danger in relying too heavily on these tricks.

Last time I linked to Parshablog it was for a similar reason and yesterday Parshablog had another disturbing example of this trend.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Great Post on ParshaBlog

I have had so many conversations about the issue posed today on ParshaBlog.

A couple weeks ago the Chinuch Roundtable in the Yated dealt with this as well. We have become the Segulah Generation. We look for shortcuts and magic to avoid the effort involved in Personal Growth.

In short Messilas Yesharim > Segulahs. But Segulahs tempt us with their instant gratification, no effort results.

I urge everyone to read the article on ParshaBlog. Read the rest of this entry »

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Messilas Yesharim 6/6/09

We began Chapter 5 of Messilas Yesharim.

Ramchal begins to define for us the word “Zrizus”.

The basic idea we learned this week was the parallel from Zehirus to Zrizus.

Zehirus helps us avoid morally harmful activity. Zrizus helps us take action to do morally good activity.

We also discussed Sotah and some of the ideas that were mentioned in my Monday Lunch N Learn.

Click through to listen. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mesillas Yesharim 05/24/09

You may recall that last week we did not get any further in the Messilas Yesharim text.

Oh yes, we had a great discussion about getting serious about life. We devoted much of our discussion to clothes.

Clothes has been a hot topic at the Pacific Jewish Center lately.

Yesterday, we supposed to talk about the number 50 in Judaism and why Shavuos is the only Jewish holiday with no set date. Instead, we talked more about clothes. Unbelievable.

This week we got back on track.

We completed Chapter 5 in Messilas Yesharim and learned about the 3rd and final detriment to “Watchfulness”. Do you want to know what it is?

Click through to listen.

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Youthfulness vs. Maturity

A few days ago I read a really great article on espn.com (- not kidding).

The article is about three of the biggest prima donnas in sports. Even if you don’t follow / like sports this article is a worthwhile read.

The social commentary in the article speaks volumes about American culture. We live in a world that values youth over all else. Everyone wants to look younger, act younger, date younger – be younger! Read the rest of this entry »

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“Orange” you glad Tropicana is going back!

I am sure you have noticed the new Tropicana Advertisements.

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The ads are concurrent with their new branding and packaging. The ads are noted for their use of male figures (that is pretty rare…).

Now the ads are being pulled and the packaging is returning to the old packaging which we all remember and love.

tropicana Read the rest of this entry »

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All About Manners

18 and Under – Making Room for Miss Manners Is a Parenting Basic – NYTimes.com.

This NY Times article written by a pediatrician follows the usual course of “today’s generation has bad manners, but it is not a new problem, it has always been this way… etc.”. The doctor recommends a book called Miss Manners’ Guide to Rearing Perfect Children. Great title by the way. Perfect? Really? Where do I sign up? Maybe a bit of hyperbole there…?

The aforementioned book makes one very important point that we have been underlining over and over again in our Messilas Yesharim classes. The idea that we are all born as selfish children. The book has its own approach to dealing with this issue. I raise the issue here to remind myself that that childishness that we are born with, the child inside us, he never grows up, he is with us until we leave this earth. Our challenge is to channel that child and not allow the selfishness inside us dictate our decisions. When we recognize that the child inside us that used to say “gimme, gimme” and if it had the chance would eat jellybeans for every meal is actually still inside us we can begin to deal with it. The child’s message changes from jellybeans to newer more sophisticated version of jellybeans. But he is still there and always will be there. Our job is to the boss of that child and allow our adult, mature loving selves to persevere. You may find some real good advice in the Messilas Yesharim classes in this regard.

Well, actually the doctor’s favorite part of the book is to me a big mistake as well the root of these problems in the first place! Here is the excerpt from the article where the doctor praises Miss Manners approach…

“I like Miss Manners’ approach because it lets a parent respect a child’s intellectual and emotional privacy: I’m not telling you to like your teacher; I’m telling you to treat her with courtesy. I’m not telling you that you can’t hate Tommy; I’m telling you that you can’t hit Tommy. Your feelings are your own private business; your behavior is public.”

The message here is that you can think whatever you want just you need to keep it to yourself. This is actually good advice as a last resort but it cannot be the right way to develop good people. The only way to develop good people is to develop the skills necessary to be good people. Hiding your feelings is a useful tool but it is not the most important skill in becoming a good person.

The missing ingredient here is trying to see the good in others as opposed to finding their flaws and then “hating” them for it – privately of course. If a child says that they dislike someone then the way to help correct that behavior is by helping the child see all the good that the other person does and all the nice things about that other person. This is a very rare and very basic skill. If we only see bad in the other person to the point that we feel negatively towards them then we need to adjust how we view them. We can do this and this is actually developing the adult in us and taking charge of our child inside us.

Imagine if the entire world was teaching their children to see the good in other people instead of the negative. The world would definitely be a better place! Not to mention all the therapy and other side-effects that would be avoided by people not having to suppress their negative feelings!

I am going to start imagining that world now, so I will end this post…

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Kobe and Zehirus

Kobe Bryant’s Work Ethic

It is undisputed that Kobe Bryant possesses superior basketball talent to every human being on the planet. That is not enough to be the best basketball player on the planet. There is a discipline aspect that Kobe excells in beyond his inborn talents. Kobe is the first in the gym and the last guy to leave. He puts in more hours in the weight room than anyone else. This article illustrates a third way Kobe excels off the court. Kobe studies film. Kobe studies more film than anyone. This reminds me of Ray Lewis as well. Ray Lewis has all the talent necessary to be the best middle linebacker in the world. Where he gains an even greater edge is film study. Kobe says he learns tendencies and habits of his opponents by studying every move of theirs.

What are these athletes doing studying so much film? They have the talent to succeed on their natural abilities, yet they put so much extra work into their game. Why?

The answer is what we just studied in Messilas Yesharim. In order to succeed in our moral challenges we need to prepare. We need to see our adversary’s (our animalistic urge) tendencies and get to know him. We need to plan ways to avoid challenges and strategize ways of defeating our adversary before the challenge comes to us. It is not enough to be skillful in our moral battles. We need to be prepared as well. This is the secret of the most successful athletes like Kobe and Ray Lewis and it is the secret the Ramchal teaches us in his chapters on Zehirus. The first step to winning the moral war within ourselves is to prepare. It sounds so simple but most of us don;t even think about how we can make those preparations. We continue the explanation of Zehirus this coming Sunday…

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