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A lesson to be learnt ...

Thursday, 15th March 2018

What a lesson to be learnt....


Walking through Penn Station today I saw a homeless man playing music. In the busy NYC train station this is not an unusual sight and Itry to remember that behind each man begging is a sad and tragic story, and I give what I can.

I was on my way after a long day at work and I stopped to give the beggar an uneaten sandwich that I had in my purse and a couple of granola bars that I didn’t end up eating for lunch.

As I handed the man the sandwich bag and bars from my knapsack he asked me, "Ma nishma [how are you]?" and started to speak to me in Hebrew, throwing out various sophisticated phrases. I was definitely not expecting that! I sat down and started talking to this stranger and asked him how someone so seemingly distant from anything remotely Jewish knew so much Hebrew.

His response blew me away.

"I’m not Jewish but all my friends are," he said confidently. "They always stop and give me food and flash a big smile when they pass by. Over the years they've been the people that consistently come back and make sure that I'm okay. You guys are my best friends you know."

He paused and took a deep breath.

"Lately I've been reading Hebrew for Dummies at the library so that all the Jews I meet will know how much I appreciate their friendship. You folks always care. Because you're my friends. And that's what friends do."

And with that, he wished me a "Layla tov [good night]" and picked up his guitar and continued to play.

I brushed off my skirt, wished him a good night and joined the hundreds of people rushing to the train.

As I sat on the train for my final leg home, I thought about the amazing experience that I had just had. Who knew what a difference we could be making in one person’s life by giving him a bag of pretzels, a spare sandwich and a smile? This man’s connection to Jews was so deep that he went out of his way to learn our language so he could properly thank us for our friendship.

My heart fluttered with an inner pride and I felt so proud to be part of such an amazing people. I feel very fortunate to be on the list of this fellow’s "Jewish friends" that he has made over the years as a homeless man.

During the mad rush in the dark winter nights, let’s keep in mind the opportunities that we have to spread a little bit of light. I suspect we really have no idea just how bright that light really is.... Amazing.


Thursday, 8th March 2018

A little boy came up to his mother in the kitchen one evening while she was making supper, and handed her a piece of paper that he had been writing on. After his mother dried her hands on her apron, she read it, and this is what it said:

For cutting the grass: £5.00 
For cleaning up my room this week: £1.00 
For going to the shop for you: £0.50 
Baby-sitting my younger brother while you went shopping: £0.25 
Taking out the rubbish: £1.00 
For getting a good report: £5.00 
For cleaning up and raking the garden: £2.00 
Total owed: £14.75

Well, his mother looked at him standing there, and the boy could see the memories flashing through her mind. She picked up the pen, turned over the paper he had written on, and this is what she wrote:

For the nine months I carried you while you were growing inside me: No Charge 
For all the nights that I've sat up with you, doctored and prayed for you: No Charge 
For all the trying times, and all the tears that you've caused through the years: No Charge
For all the nights that were filled with dread, and for the worries I knew were ahead: No Charge
For the toys, food, clothes, and even wiping your nose: No Charge
Son, when you add it up, the cost of my love is: No Charge

When the boy finished reading what his mother had written, there were big tears in his eyes, and he looked straight at his mother and said, "Mum, I sure do love you." 
And then he took the pen and in great big letters he wrote: "PAID IN FULL"

The Marriage Broker / Getting drunk on Purim

Wednesday, 28th February 2018

The Marriage Broker / Getting drunk on Purim

There is a parable that explains the mitzvah (rule) of getting drunk on Purim in the following way:

A time-honored institution in many Jewish communities is the shadchan, or marriage broker. The shadchan is more than a "dating service";  he/she is a middleman who accompanies the deal from its inception all the way to its conclusion.  He/she meets with the respective families, notes their desires, demands and expectations, and presents them with a proposal.  He/she then presides over the negotiations, convincing each side to make the concessions required so that the deal can be closed. 

Then the boy meets the girl, and the shadchan’s work begins in earnest.  The boy wanted someone more beautiful, the girl wanted someone with better prospects.  The shadchan explains, cajoles, clarifies and exaggerates; he/she gives long speeches on love and what is important in life. He/she succeeds in arranging a second meeting and then a third.  More meetings follow, and the engagement is formalized.  In the critical months between the engagement and the wedding, the shadchan advises, encourages, assuages doubts and heads off crises.

Then comes the wedding.  The bride and groom stand under the canopy, and the shadchan is the proudest man/woman in attendance.  At this point, the shadchan is discreetly taken aside and told: "Thank you very much for what you did.  Without you, this union could never have been achieved. Now take your commission and get out of our lives.  We don’t want to see you ever again."

In the cosmic marriage between G-d and Israel, the intellect is the shadchan.  Without it, the relationship could not have been realized.  But there comes a point at which the shadchan ’s brokering is no longer needed, for something much deeper and truer has taken over.  At this point, the shadchan’s continued presence is undesirable, indeed intolerable.

Purim is a wedding at which the shadchan has been shown the door, a feast celebrating the quintessential bond between G-d and Israel.  There are "drunks" at this feast who have achieved a state of cognitive oblivion; but in no other way do they resemble the stereotypical drunk.

You will not see them hurling fists, insults or obscenities at each other, or slobbering over their domestic troubles. You will see outpourings of love to G-d and to man. You will see pure, unbridled joy.

You will see people who are disciplined and aware: not with a discipline imposed by the watchdog of reason, not with an awareness brokered by the mind, but with a discipline and awareness which derive from the uninhibited expression of the spark of divine truth that is the essence of the human soul.


Lessons learned

Thursday, 22nd February 2018

After the end of World War II, the brilliant and flamboyant Torah sage, Rabbi Eliezer Silver visited and aided thousands of survivors in displaced persons camps in Germany and Poland who were waiting to find permanent homes. One day, as he was handing out Siddurim (prayer books) and other Torah paraphernalia, a Jewish man flatly refused to accept any. 

"After the way I saw Jews act in the camp, I don't want to have any connection with religion!" 

Rabbi Silver asked him to explain what exactly had turned him off from Jewish practice. 

"I saw a Jew who had a Siddur, yet he only allowed it to be used by the inmates in exchange for their daily bread ration. Imagine," he sneered, "a Jew selling the right to daven (pray) for bread!" 
"And how many customers did this man get?" inquired Rabbi Silver. 

"Far too many!" snapped the man. 

Rabbi Silver put his hand around the gentlemen and gently explained. "Why are you looking at the bad Jew who sold the right to pray? Why don't you look at the many good Jews who were willing to forego their rations and starve, just in order to pray? Isn't that the lesson you should take with you?" 

Looking out for one another

Thursday, 15th February 2018

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered - he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning:

“There is a mousetrap in the house!  There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me.  I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house!  There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The pig sympathized, but  said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray.  Be assured you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow and said, "There is a mousetrap in the house!  There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose"

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound  of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main Ingredient. But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbours came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.
So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, remember -- when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.
We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.

Attitude is everything!

Thursday, 8th February 2018

Jerry is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When I would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better I'd be twins!" He was a unique restaurant manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. 
The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. 
Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?" Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. 
I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life. 
"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested. "Yes, it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life." 
I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it. 
Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gun point by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma centre.  After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. 
I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?" I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. “The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied.   "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die.  I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared?  Did you lose consciousness?"  I asked. Jerry continued, "...the paramedics were great.  They kept telling me I was going to be fine.  But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared.  In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man.' 
I knew I needed to take action." 
" What did you do?" I asked. 
"Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!'   Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live.  Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.'" 
Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude.   I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything. 
Positive thinking is the first step towards a happy life.  Attitude is everything!


Wednesday, 31st January 2018

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.

The man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were G-d's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If G-d allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly! 

Post It

Thursday, 25th January 2018


Elroy wants to be left alone,

but Clara is too curious about what he carries inside his cardboard box.

Click the image below to watch this inspiration video

written and directed by Michael Evans

From Yad Vashem, a story.

Thursday, 18th January 2018

This is a true story that must be read

When a train filled with a large transport of Jewish prisoners arrived at one of the Nazi killing centers, many Polish gentiles came out to watch the latest group as they were taken away. As the disoriented Jews were gathering their possessions to take with them into the camp, a Nazi officer in charge called out to the villagers standing nearby, "Anything these Jews leave behind you may take for yourselves, because for sure they will not be coming back to collect them!”

Two Polish women who were standing nearby saw a woman towards the back of the group, wearing a large, heavy, expensive coat. Not waiting for someone else to take the coat before them, they ran to the Jewish woman and knocked her to the ground, grabbed her coat and scurried away.

Moving out of sight of the others, they quickly laid the coat down on the ground to divide the spoils of what was hiding inside. Rummaging through the pockets, they giddily discovered gold jewelry, silver candlesticks and other heirlooms. They were thrilled with their find, but as they lifted the coat again, it still seemed heavier than it should. Upon further inspection, they found a secret pocket, and hidden inside the coat was .... a tiny baby girl!

Shocked at their discovery, one woman took pity and insisted to the other, "I don't have any children, and I'm too old to give birth now. You take the gold and silver and let me have the baby." The Polish woman took her new "daughter" home to her delighted husband. They raised the Jewish girl as their own, treating her very well, but never telling her anything about her history. The girl excelled in her studies and even became a doctor, working as a pediatrician in a hospital in Poland.

When her "Mother" passed away many years later, a visitor came to pay her respects. An old woman invited herself in and said to the daughter, "I want you to know that the woman that passed away last week was not your real mother ..." and she proceeded to tell her the whole story. She did not believe her at first, but the old woman insisted.

"When we found you, you were wearing a beautiful gold pendant with strange writing on it, which must be Hebrew. I am sure that your mother kept the necklace. Go and see for yourself.” Indeed, the woman went into her deceased mother's jewelry box and found the necklace just as the elderly lady had described. She was shocked. It was hard to fathom that she had been of Jewish descent, but the proof was right there in her hand. As this was her only link to a previous life, she cherished the necklace. She had it enlarged to fit her neck and wore it every day, although she thought nothing more of her Jewish roots.

Some time later, she went on holiday abroad and came across two Jewish boys standing on a main street, trying to interest Jewish passersby to wrap Tefillin on their arms (for males) or accept Shabbos candles to light on Friday afternoon (for females). Seizing the opportunity, she told them her entire story and showed them the necklace. The boys confirmed that a Jewish name was inscribed on the necklace but did not know about her status. They recommended that she write a letter to their mentor, the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZT"L, explaining everything. If anyone would know what to do, it would be him.

She took their advice and sent off a letter that very same day. She received a speedy reply saying that it is clear from the facts that she is a Jewish girl and perhaps she would consider using her medical skills in Israel where talented pediatricians were needed. Her curiosity was piqued and she traveled to Israel where she consulted a Rabbinical Court (Beis Din) who declared her Jewish. Soon she was accepted into a hospital to work, and eventually met her husband and raised a family.

In August 2001, a terrorist blew up the Sbarro cafe in the center of Jerusalem. The injured were rushed to the hospital where this woman worked. One patient was brought in, an elderly man in a state of shock. He was searching everywhere for his granddaughter who had become separated from him.

Asking how she could recognize her, the frantic grandfather gave a description of a gold necklace that she was wearing.

Eventually, they finally found her among the injured patients. At the sight of this necklace, the pediatrician froze. She turned to the old man and said, "Where did you buy this necklace?”

"You can't buy such a necklace," he responded, "I am a goldsmith and I made this necklace. Actually I made two identical pieces for each of my daughters. This is my granddaughter from one of them, and my other daughter did not survive the war.”

And this is the story of how a Jewish girl, brutally torn away from her Mother on a Nazi camp platform almost sixty years ago, was reunited with her Father.


Source Yad Vashem


Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski On Purpose

Wednesday, 10th January 2018



Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski On Purpose

Click the image below to watch
this inspirational video