Category Archives: Hashkafa



                                        GIVE UP … AND GET


G-d (Hashem) wants us to change, first He gives us an opportunity to do so on
our own by providing specially directed means and methods and special days
throughout the year in which we  can examine
our deeds, choose to make amends and alter our modes of behavior. Sometimes,
when we have not quite managed to make the necessary changes by ourselves, He
gives us a nudge . . . It is how we react to that “incentive” that determines
success or r’l failure. When we see the “nudge” as a positive force directed
towards us for our good and our growth then we are “reframing.” 

For most of us,
reframing actually begins after we have given up.  Until that point, we see the problem as being
outside of ourselves and are busy trying to fix it.  It is only when we realize that we cannot fix
it, that we are able to look inside ourselves and find a  deeper and far more lasting source of healing (refuah).  If we “reframe”  an experience that had plunged us into anxiety
or despair, we become the beneficiaries of 
a most powerful source of  enlightenment,
a source capable of guiding us up the ladder to the next step in spiritually  (ruchnius), lighting the way for us in our spiritual

                                          BECAUSE WE ARE


The first step in the
reframing process is fundamental.  It requires
our staunch and unyielding determination to accept the fact that we are not in
control of what happens to us. The only aspect of our lives over which we are
given control is the freedom to try to make the right choices, however final
outcomes are out of our control. Why is this outlook a fundamental first
step?  Because as long as we believe that
we have control over a given situation, we will struggle with trying to fix the
circumstances instead of working to accept them. Learning to reframe our negative
thoughts and replace them with a positive view comes about by realizing that it
is our attitude that we have the ability to modify and not necessarily the situation.
Unfortunately, as long as we are stuck in a mindset that tells us that we have
to change the circumstances, we will have no incentive to change ourselves. Of
course, we must be mindful of the fact that there are situations that do
require our effort, and claims of trust (bitachon) and faith (emuna) do not
give a license to sit back and wait for change to happen on its own; however,
here we are considering only those things that we can not alter.

                                                   READING THE MESSAGE

The second step calls
for us to treat the experience as a message or the person who has just insulted
us as a messenger. For example, the depth of sorrow we feel when we learn that
someone near to us has a serious problem, illness or passing can be seen as a
reflective moment to help us put things into perspective and be mindful of what
values in life are truly important. Through this we can re-strengthen our interpersonal
relationship with others as well as our personal obligations with Hashem.

            Life’s trials are as individualistic and
unique as we are, however to a certain extent each of us can attempt to
decipher the inner meaning within difficult experiences by asking ourselves –
in a form of a prayer, not a complaint: What can I learn and how can I grow
from this test? 

            As long as we understand that the
events in our lives are perfectly designed, sent to us from Hashem and given to
us for our good, we can begin to use these challenges to help change our lives.
Once the taxing situation becomes reframed it becomes a positive tool for



          Reframing trains us to
see the will of the Creator in all of the events in our lives, and thus enables
us to appeal directly to Hashem as the Source of Everything. It is like the man
who is speeding through red lights. When he is stopped, he explains to the
officer that he is bringing his wife, who is in labor, to the hospital.  He is likely to get a police escort instead
of a ticket.  However, those who see events
as “acts of nature” have no where to turn. 
They are like the man caught driving through a red light by a traffic
surveillance camera that cannot respond to explanations.

Creator runs the physical world in the same way He runs the spiritual realm – in
order to allow us to understand His ways without having to become mystics or
seers.  If a person chooses to believe
that events such as disease, famine, flood and accidents are dictated by the
laws of nature and are as immutable as the traffic surveillance camera in our
earlier example, then for that person any effort at prayer and supplication to
G-d will appear to be unavailing and the person will not seek and thus will not
find any means for avoiding the consequence.  Indeed, that person is perhaps worse off than
the man who ran the red light.  The
driver at least knows that he was ticketed because he was caught on a

The person who
does not see G-d’s omnipotence in nature, will not see the connection between
his actions and the events that flow from those actions and will not know where
to turn to try and exonerate himself.  
When a person offers no defense at all in the Heavenly Court, the evidence is
considered without his testimony and a harsher judgment is pronounced that
might have been ameliorated with a sincere statement from the defendant.

        On the other hand, when we recognize
that it is G-d who is directing nature and all events that occur are for the
purpose of guiding us toward a more complete recognition of His presence in
this world, then we will be able to act as our own advocates, turning directly
to the benevolent Creator in times of need. 
When this happens, we arouse the attribute of mercy from on High and elicit
consideration by the Heavenly Court of the extenuating circumstances that motivated
our choices.

                                        IS THIS


 We could well ask, “Why is this dialogue
necessary?”  Doesn’t the Infinite Creator
consider our unspoken justification when entering judgment?  G-d does not deny our unspoken rationale but
it is we who create a barrier between ourselves and G-d by refusing to
acknowledge the fact that He transcends the laws of “nature.”   It is we who refuse to recognize that He can,
under appropriate circumstances, vindicate us.

           The one condition for Heavenly
reprieve is to admit our errors, and resolve to do better in the future.  When we turn sincerely to the Creator,
acknowledge His omnipotence and ask for His help and guidance when we have
drifted beyond the permissible boundaries, we will be directed toward a G-dly way
of life which will get us where we need to go, when we need to get there
without adverse results.

      This is not to suggest that the Creator,
in all circumstances, will accept our plea-bargains, but, at the very least,
our outlooks will broaden, and we will be able to take a more holistic approach
toward understanding and accepting our particular circumstances. The deeper our
understanding of the fact that G-d tailors every circumstance in our lives in
order  to teach, guide and help us to
grow spiritually, the more we  will be
filled with  sincere gratitude for our
allotted portions.  As we progress
through our lives in this manner, following the Torah , Hashem will provide us
with the opportunity to enjoy  a new,
elevated state of awareness. 

              This intimate relationship with
Hashem is available to all, regardless of age, intelligence or skills. The main
criteria are belief in G-d, willingness to follow His will and a sincere
humility. With these foundational principles in place, the Creator will bestow
upon us blessings of health, joy and peace. May we merit to re-enter the Palace
of the King soon in our days.

All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia



    [From Atkins to the Zone and]
everything in between, diet, nutrition and fitness are the all consuming topics
of this generation.  Countless hours are
invested in trying to find that perfect combination of food, nutritional
supplements and exercise.    In the
process, kitchens are transformed into mini-labs complete with scales and
measures, herbs and sprout growers, juicers grinders and processors of all
sorts.  [Precious space in small
apartments has been dedicated to all kinds of exercise equipment.] Books and
magazines on health and nutrition crowd the shelves and pantries are filled
with nutritional experiments.

Contemporary diet and nutrition programs have, for
many, virtually  become  belief systems.  Each dietary path has its devoted adherents –
ready to defend their faith to the last spoonful.   How can this be, we wonder?   Health and fitness are purely a physical,
factual matter– are they not?  Yet
people speak in terms of guilt, shame and taboo when they talk about eating.
What is the deeper message in all of this from the Heavenly prospective? Is it
only weight control or is there a more profound meaning to this diet

            First, let us take a
moment to think about just how many facets of 
life reflect occupation or preoccupation with food.  Eating and drinking are primary pleasures
that have generated a multi billion dollar industry. Today, there is virtually
no taste experience that is not available to the kosher consumer and so all of
the  gustatory adventures available to
the world at large  are open to observant
Jews as well.

Inspired by the media and the merchandizing
masters, the average person spends a startling percentage of his or her waking
hours, buying, preparing and eating food and drinking beverages.  In reaction, many will then invest additional
time learning to resist temptation.  If
we add to these figures the amount of time and effort spent on learning to live
with  food allergies and combating eating
disorders we can easily see how  some
enormous percent of  time and energy is
spent in these pursuits.

Thus, dieting has a tremendous mass appeal because
it meets the diverse needs of large numbers of people.

       Let us return to our
original question.  What is it about diet
–whether elective or mandated by  an
allergy or condition–that has become such a preoccupying factor in people’s  lives? Perhaps this phenomenon is a
preparatory precursor to the time, in the hopefully not too distant future,
when the Creator will impose a new world order known as the “birth pangs” of
the world’s redeemer (Mashiach) bringing with it a new state of higher
consciousness for all mankind. Yet to achieve this new state of consciousness
there will have to be a refocus upon things spiritual.  How can this happen we may wonder when we
spend so much time pursuing materialistic goals. How will we ever willingly
follow principles that are linked to spirituality which require the dedication
of considerable time and effort?

Society’s preoccupation with food and specifically
with dieting is perhaps a part of the Divine solution to this question.   For there is nothing like a diet to train a
person in the skills needed to  achieve
the discipline of following rules established by someone other than
themselves  and experience the humility
of  trying to overcome obstacles. 

Instilling belief:     Dieting works best when the
dieter believes in his or her chosen diet. 
Changing life long eating habits is challenging and for most  that challenge can only be met when the
dieter is persuaded that the diet will completely overhaul and change his or
her life.

Disciplined Action:   Once convinced of the virtues
of a  particular way of eating, the
dieter is willing to weigh every mouthful, go miles out of the way to find
certified organic foods,  eat only
according to a rigid schedule and learn to tolerate the physiological and
psychological challenges that are a  part
of the process.   

Reaping the Rewards:    When  dieters 
painstakingly follow their diet plan, they experience  the 
“good feeling”  that comes
with  gaining control and mastery over
their desires.  Indeed,  weight control may  be their first  experience of 
self imposed discipline and restriction which leads them towards
personal empowerment.  

Let us bring that intuition into focus and look at
it more closely.  

Towards a Universal Diet: 

The new age goals of fitness and  health 
are very important to many of us.  
Whether prodded by their fears of gaining or losing weight, of becoming
ill or of  showing the signs of
aging,  many of us are willing to spend
time and effort studying and investigating competing dietary claims and
adhering to restrictive dietary regimens. 
Many are willing to swallow the inflated costs of  buying 
organic foods and  nutritional
supplements and endure strenuous and often monotonous  exercise regimens.

For the health advocate, a profound yet practical
benefit of these programs  is an enhanced
awareness of the significance of  these
actions.  This awareness  can lead to an heightened level of
consciousness that will incorporate self control and discipline into many other
facets of  their lives.         However
this is only the beginning.  May we soon
see the day that we who  had previously
weighed and measured our portions,  are weighing  and measuring the consequences of our
actions; monitoring and directing our thoughts and emotions  in accordance with the Creator’s guidelines.
We will then be able to  “exercise”  our free will to choose to fulfill the
Creator’s will (mitzvoth and ma’asim tovim). These acts of Divine service will
then serve as spiritual “wings” for us to reach new supernal heights. This
elevation of the consciousness will also empower us to resist ephemeral
temptations as we will then see life from an ethereal position  and understand the futility of pursuing
temporal goals and ambitions as an end unto themselves.

Therefore, we need not despair for 
the Creator has already embedded within the mundane activities of this
world the potential for reconnecting with Hashem.  May we all 
merit to see the final redemption (geulah) soon in our days.



All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia


Many of the deeds we do seem quite insignificant but prove to have far-reaching
implications. The following true story highlights the great value of carefully considering
each of our decisions, large and small.

Yosef and Rachel were looking forward to this long-awaited journey to Eretz
Yisrael. They left for the airport shortly after sunset. As they drove along,
Rachel was chatting excitedly about the trip. She wondered aloud whether she
had found the right gifts for their family and friends and then her
conversation shifted to her favorite topic – of someday soon meriting to live in
Eretz Yisrael. All the while her husband, Yosef, wasn’t paying too much
attention because he apparently had something weighty on his mind. He kept
glancing toward the darkening sky, looking at his watch and repeatedly opening his
ticket folder to check on the time of their flight. Rachel asked him what was
on his mind. He was concerned, he said, about whether he would have time to
look for a minyan to daven Maariv before the flight.

Upon arriving at the airport, they quickly loaded
their weighty bags onto a cart and began the lengthy check-in process. Yosef
kept glancing at the large overhead clock as if his concentrated thoughts could
make the hands move slowly enough for him to still have sufficient time to find
a minyan.

Carry-on bags and tickets in hand, the couple now
walked briskly over to the security area, where they were told to place all they
were carrying, including coats and shoes, into the ever-cycling gray tubs that
would be shuttled through the fluoroscope machine one after another like a
flock of sheep forced into a line to enter the narrow gate of the pasture.

Having rescued their possessions, they headed down
the long corridor toward the waiting room next to their departure gate. Rachel
began to feel faint. Yosef, noticing her discomfort, suggested to her as they
passed a water fountain that they stop a moment for her to have a well-deserved
drink and sit down on a bench to rest for a few moments. Rachel, who always
traveled with clean collapsible plastic cups for health’s sake, filled the two
cups with water from the fountain but insisted that move along quickly to the
flight gate and only then would she sit and take a drink. Yosef knew they had
at least another five minute’s walk ahead of them and suggested again that they
sit down to drink and rest a moment. Rachel thanked him for his consideration but
urged that they keep moving.

“Let’s just get to the gate as fast as we can – I can rest later,” she
assured him.

At the exact moment they arrived at their flight gate, they saw a group of
men standing in a corner of the lounge and heard them saying the Vehu rachu…
that prayer that precedes Barechu. Yosef was delighted to be able to
join in with the minyan and daven Maariv with the tzibbur.

Thanks to Rachel’s insistence on postponing her own comfort so as not to
delay an opportunity for her husband to seek a minyan before they
boarded the plane, she was able to reap the spiritual benefits of helping him
perform a mitzvah.

We of course cannot say which rewards are connected with which mitzvos
but it does seem strange that Yosef and Rachel were the only people on that
entire jumbo jet who had a vacant seat next to them. Rachel, who usually finds it
difficult to sleep, much less relax and rest in an upright position on a plane,
and who had refused to stop and rest for even a few seconds on their mad dash
to the departure gate, was able to stretch out and sleep comfortably for many hours
for the first time on an international flight.

All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia



                 Since everything that exists in the physical world has a spiritual counterpart, let us try to see if there is any correlation between the three security mechanisms that are made for physical protection for our homes and three other spiritual “security systems” that we “install” that not only protect us but also greatly enhance our lives.

        Probably all homes are equipped with door knob locks, while many people also have bolt locks located higher up on the door. Then there are a few people who even add a panoramic surveillance security system on their roofs for what they feel is added protection.

          Let us therefore see if we can possibly find our spiritual counterparts to these physical security systems? Perhaps our three mitzvos of of Nar Chanukah, Mazzuah, and Parapet (Ma’aca) can be seen as our core protection in our homes.

          Interestingly, most of us light our Nar Chanukah about the same height as our door knobs locks, while we attach the mezuzos on our doorposts at about the approximant place of the bolt locks.

            Also at the same area of the edge of our roofs where we would place our parapet (ma’aca) – when required – is also the ideal place to attach the surveillance security system.

          Therefore let us delve into the heart of the manner and try to discover a deeper relationship between the placement of these three mitzvos that are connected to the home and the three security systems.                            

         At best the surveillance security helps to protect our possessions from “falling” into the wrong hands, whereas the supernal crown of the mitzvah of Ma’aca has the power to also protect our thoughts from “falling” from their elevated heights.

            At best the bolt locks on the doors of our house can protect us from unwelcome influences, whereas the mitzvos of mezuzos, which are placed opposite “hearts”, have the ability to also guard us from uninvited feelings.

          At best the locks on our door handles can keep the darkness outside, whereas the Neros of Chanukah also have the power to transform the darkness of galus into the radiance of geula – may it be so soon in our days.


All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia



                   We see them frequently – health articles that offer a seemingly simple prevention or even claimed cures for serious illnesses.  We may sometimes dismiss them as wishful thinking, but perhaps we shouldn’t.

The article that caught my eye recently was about how bananas can cut the risk of kidney cancer. [1]  By now many  of us know  that certain herbs with very exotic names like gotu kola or ginkgo now have documented medical preventive and even in some cases curative effects, but bananas . . .!   Nonetheless, the dietary study that was reported in a prestigious scientific journal was pretty impressive. It was conducted with some 61,000 Swedish people between the ages of 40 to 76 who were followed for an average of thirteen years. And what were the results?  Apparently the subjects who ate bananas four to six times a week had about half the risk of contracting kidney cancer as those who did not. Eating root vegetables such as carrots and beets, white cabbage, lettuce & cucumbers also greatly helped to protect against renal cell carcinoma.

            So this article was more difficult to dismiss then many undocumented natural health claims, not merely because it teamed up two such unlikely partners as kidneys and bananas, but because there are many things about this small organ that are fascinating.

In a 160 pound adult, the kidneys weigh only about three quarters of a pound, yet they do an incredible job.  The kidneys filter the blood at a rate of 45 gallons a day.  Since we have 7 or 8 liters or somewhat less then  two gallons of blood in our bodies, this means that the entire blood volume gets filtered approximately 20 to 25 times each day. 

What the kidneys are doing in this process is balancing the  composition of the blood by keeping the ratio of important substances constant.  They also keep the amount of water in the body stable, remove wastes and keep the acids and bases in balance. The kidney is the only organ in the body in which two capillary beds laid out in a series connect the arteries with the veins. Arteries carry oxygenated blood and nutrients to the cells while the veins  transport blood containing carbon dioxide and waste products discarded from the cells.

This physiological function, as amazingly complex  as it is, does not quite explain why or how David Hamelech “consulted” with his kidneys and Avraham Aveinu was taught by them and the fact that our Sages therefore learn that  the kidneys are the “seat of  the power of judgment and the source of  advice”.   

             Sounds interesting! But wait it gets even more interesting because these food stuffs that protect the body against various malignancies are, according to this research study, all common place vegetables. What is the secretive power hidden within these natural foods.

According to the scientists,  these vegetables work to help to protect against cancer because they contain antioxidants and antioxidant boosters.  Antioxidants  fight the scourge known as “free radicals.” Free radicals are  chemically active atoms or molecules that have an unbalanced number of electrons, that is instead of even numbers of paired electrons they will have either too many or too few.   To reach the necessary state of equilibrium, free radicals will scavenge the body either releasing or stealing electrons in an effort to rebalance themselves, and leaving, in their wake, more unstable products in a chain reaction effect.  This activity causes tremendous damage to cells, proteins and DNA.  Anti oxidants fight this process by stabilizing the radical before it begins to do its damage or by breaking the chain after it has been formed.   

Let’s see what comes out of all of this.  On the physical side the kidneys are the organs that mediate between the two major opposing components of the circulatory system: that being the arteries and the veins, as well as balancing the composition of the blood in the process, while its counterpart spiritual “kidneys” serve as the “organs of discernment”. How so? Just as the role of the kidneys are to mediate the divergent flows of the life force within us and neutralize any negative influence so as to rebalance the body, our “supernal kidneys” are given to us in order to maintain the health and balance of our souls.

May we all merit to strike the right balance and thereby speed up the final geula soon in our days.

All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia



           Even though we make schedules and
appointments, using time and place as the logistical coordinates for fulfilling
our desired planned agendas, we are all too often humbled when our “watches”
don’t seem to be synchronized with the “time clock” of our destiny.

            For example those “times” when we
accidentally drive the wrong direction on a highway whose first exit is many
miles up the road, or those times when we get a flat tire and need to wait a
lengthy amount of time for a repair man to help us, or those times when we miss
a bus, train or plane, through no fault of our own, and thereby are delayed for
hours. These and numerous other situations in life although appearing
frustrating and inconvenient are golden opportunities to realize that perhaps
the inner message is that there is something about the use of our time that needs
to be “reset”.

        Let us ask ourselves: Are we allowing
our true priorities in life to be “re-scheduled”, spending our time instead
“dancing” to the “beat” of our hearts rather than “rhythm” of our souls? Do we
lose out on the eternal potential hidden within time”, instead replacing it
with the artificial tastes of “momentary” pleasures?

           Let us ask ourselves who do we blame for the
perceived “bad timing” in our lives? Do we blame our spouse, friends, the tire manufacturer,
the transportation company or do we instead see these events as blessings in
disguise as G-d’s compassionate “agents” who are reminding us to reinterpret
these seemingly “ticks of teva” as being specially designed “pulse beats” that
can nourish our neshomos.

               May we all this year be inscribed
for a healthy meaningful life.

All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia



                 Have you ever regretted for saying something that possibly hurt someone else’s feelings and then wondered if there is any way to take the “sting” out of those “words” after they have already been said. Well, believe it not, we can learn how to “re-season” relationships from the potato.

                Just as excessive salt in ones diet can cause high blood pressure, so also over “salting” your feelings can “increase pressure” between others. Therefore it makes sense that just as a humble potato, which grows under the ground, will help to absorb the salt from an overly spiced soup, so can a humbled ego rebalance the flavor of a previously “overly spiced” strained relationship. Therefore just like a cook tastes the food before they serve it to make sure it is favorably spiced, how much more so should our thoughts, before they come out as words should be “favorably spiced”. 





All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia

TO FLY OR NOT TO FLY – story of achdus


                  There was recently an article that made the headlines that was on the one hand paradoxically alarming and yet somewhat heartwarming. As our Rabbis have told us that everything one see, hear or experience has a lesson in it, so let us try to find a possible deeper point imbedded within one aspect of the following story.

                 What happened was that a young boy wondered away from his family and ended up at the airport. Once there he went through passport control and various security checks even though he didn’t have a passport, ticket or boarding pass. He apparently just moved along with everybody else, like a family member. He then ended up boarding a plane that flew him to another country.

                Within the written article, it was pointed out the failings of the airport personnel and of course, we understand that the child, even if he acted with an innocence of heart, still acted improperly, that been said, underneath the surface is to be “mined” an inspiring thought about the actions of that adventurous child within lays within many of us.

                The good news, as the three weeks has passed and Elul approaches, is that even if we feel that our spiritual “passports” haven’t yet been renewed and we haven’t yet fully paid our “ticket fees”, by staying closely attached to those who have obtained their “tickets and boarding passes” through their mitzvos and ma’asim, hopefully we will all pass through the “security and check points” together, thereby allowing us to “take off” as one united family.

          P.S. – The child was safely returned to the care of his, no doubt relieved, family.     

All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia



            As the story was told to me, one of the richest men in the entire world wrote in his will a request to be buried wearing his socks. The family wanted to fill the wishes of their father but the burial society said that it is impermissible to fulfill this request. To settle the issue both parties went to the Rav of the city who after hearing both sides declared that … .

             Don’t go away, as we will come back to the Rav’s decision later, along with an inspiring twist in this unusual story.    

             Most people live their lives focused on two major financial goals, that of satisfying ones daily needs and securing a comfortable future “retirement”. In Pirkei Avos, which we read this time period between Pesach and Rosh Hashanah, our Sages offer us weekly advice on how to obtain both.

             As most of us our novice investors we should take advice from the most qualified investment experts in the field. Thus let us turn to our Sages, who opening share with us the best possible strategies for maximizing our assets as well as minimizing our loses.]

                  The first of many beautiful metaphors that alerts us the value of daily adding to our “savings” account is in Misnious Peah 1: “These are the precepts whose fruits a person enjoys in this world but whose principal remains intact for him in the World to Come. They honoring your father and mother, acts of kindness, [early attendance at the house of study morning and evening, hospitality to guests, visiting the sick, providing for a bride, escorting the dead, intention in prayer, bringing peace between man and his fellow, and between man and his wife ]– and the study of Torah is equivalent to them all.”

              In Mishnah 20 – Perek 2 Rabbi Tarfon gives us additional far-sighted advice informing us: “The day is short, the task is abundant, the laborers are lazy, the wage is great and the Master of the house is insistent.” He also used to say (2/20-21): “You are not required to complete the task, yet you are not free to withdraw from it. If you have studied much Torah, they will give you great reward; and your Employee can be relied upon to pay you the wage for your labor, but be aware that the reward of the righteous will be given in the World to Come.”

               Rabbi Yonasan reveals to us the secret to true wealth in Mishnah 11 – Perek 4: “Whoever fulfills the Torah despite poverty, will ultimately fulfill it in wealth; but whoever to neglects the Torah because of wealth, will ultimately neglect it in poverty.”

              Rabbi Yaakov then alerts to us the importance of using our time wisely in Mishnah 21 – Perek 4 when he said: “This world is like a lobby before the World to Come; prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall.”

                   Ben Bag Bag elaborates further on the value of plummeting the depths of ones abilities in Mishnah 26 – Perek 5 when he said: “Delve in it (the Torah) and continue to delve in it; look deeply into it; grow old and gray over it, do not stir from it, for you can have no better portion that it.” Ben Hei Hei adds that reward and effort have a symbiotic relationship in that: “The reward is in proportion to the exertion.”

             Mishnah 5 – Perek 6: Offers us some sage advice on what to avoid, thereby maximizing our benefits: “Do not seek greatness for yourself, and do not crave honor; lest your performance exceed your learning. Do not the lust for the table of Kings, for your table is greater than theirs, and your crown is greater than their crown; and your Employer is trustworthy to pay you remuneration for your deeds.”

               Then in Mishnah 9 – Perek 6 – Rabbi Yose ben Kisma shares with us invaluable investing strategy when he tells us of a story of a man who offered him vast wealth for coming and living in his city, to which he answered: “Even if you were to give me all the silver and gold, precious stones and pearls in the world, I would dwell nowhere but in a place of Torah…”

              Rabbi Akiva then eloquently sums up our financial responsibilities within this life stating in Mishnah 20 – Perek 3: “Everything is given on collateral and a net is spread over all the living. The shop is open; the Merchant extends credit; the ledger is open; the hand writes; and whoever wishes to borrow, let him come and borrow. The collectors make their routes constantly, every day, and collect payment from the person whether he realizes it or not. They have proof to rely upon; the judgment is a truthful judgment; and everything is prepared for the final festive banquet.”

                    Oh yes, as for the conclusion of the story at the beginning of this article – the Rav told all those present that the burial society was correct and then the Rav then added that the nifter had some time earlier left a sealed envelope which he requested be opened by his family only after his passing. The children immediately opened the letter and read it out loud. “My dearly beloved, by now you have heard the pasak halacha which reaffirms that even if a person were to have all the money in this world, he cannot bring with him even one pair of socks to the Olam HaEmes.  

                This is just as Rabbi Yose ben Kisma informs us in Mishnah 9 Perek 6: “When a man departs from this world, neither silver, nor gold, nor precious stones nor pearls escort him, but only Torah study and good deeds…” Then he concludes: “It (The Torah and good deeds) shall speak on your behalf – in the World to Come. And as it is said: ‘Mine is the silver, and Mine is the gold, says Hashem, Master of Legions.’”                

            May we merit to have our Heavenly bank accounts filled with the rich returns from the Torah, mitzvos and maasim tovim in which we invested in this world.

All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia



               A study was conducted by a team of researchers from New York University who used   functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), in an effort to determine whether the trait of optimism can be identified with a particular area of the brain.  The subjects were told to think about the outcomes of important future events as they were being scanned.  The scans showed that the more optimistic the person’s outlook was, the more activity emanated from a part of the brain known as the Rostral Anterior Cingulate Cortex which the size of an olive (kezayis).  The implications of this discovery resonate in other areas of our lives and are worth some additional exploration.

          The propensity for optimism has long been a defining element of human culture. Winston Churchill, a previous Prime minister of England, once said: “A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, whereas an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” Optimism produces a positive outlook that we perceive as joy.  Our holy (Torah) Jewish teachings instructs us to strive to achieve a state of happiness (simcha) – (mitzvah gedola li’yot b’simcha).  This heightened state of positive consciousness provides us with the incentive to improve ourselves and the world around us.

 In order to fulfill these optimistic goals, the Creator has provided us with food that contains within it sparks of holiness that are made available to be absorbed through the blessings (brachas) we say before and after eating.  The minimum amount of food required in order to say an after-bracha  is a ) an olive sized portion (kezayis) of the food. 

Can we find a connection between the (kezayis) olive sized portion of food necessary for an after bracha with the olive sized “seat” of optimism in the brain since spiritual reality is reflected in this physical world?  Perhaps one of the reasons that an olive has been chosen to represent the minimum size (shiur) for a concluding bracha is that its oil symbolizes wisdom and has the power to illuminate the darkness.  Similarly the blessings we say after eating contain profound spiritual wisdom which has the power to illuminate even the greatest darkness with the “light” of positive optimism.

            The more stringent view of some Rabbis (poskim) is that because of certain halachic factors, regarding the size referred to for the measurement of a shiur, it is preferred if possible to eat double the quantity – two kezaysim – before making an after-bracha. Perhaps we can also gain from these thoughts that, as we come closer to the final redemption (geula), since spiritual stature of the generations has lessened, and we should endeavor to “re-double” our efforts to reawaken our optimism. Perhaps you may you ask, where do we see two kezaysim in our fMRI models? Interestingly enough, there are actually two areas in the brain opposite each other, each about two inches from each of our ears where these optimistic impulses have been observed.  

              Our brachos act as spiritual “refineries” to transform the physical food into a refined source of spiritual energy. In the fourth bracha of the blessings after a bread meal (Bircat Hamazon) we say: “…He did good, He does good and He will do good to us. He was bountiful with us, He is bountiful with us, and He will be bountiful with us forever with grace and with kindness and with compassion, with relief and rescue, success, blessing , salvation, consolation, substance, support , compassion, life, peace and all good and of all good things may He forever not deprive us.

              After saying such a wonderful bracha blessing we should always be filled with optimism.

All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia