Here's an important message excerpted from a shiur given by Rav Itamar Schwartz about authentic self-confidence & "believing" in oneself (boldface mine):
Firstly we need to understand properly what the concept of self-confidence is.
This means a self-denigrating person lacks true self-awareness.
One can also extrapolate from this that if a person insists on believing he is the hopeless exception, like if he refuses to believe he too possesses certain abilities & capabilities AND if he refuses to believe he possesses the ability to actualize them...
...it's a kind of heresy.
The authentic Torah belief is:
Hashem infused these into every person.
So if you think you lack those, then what are you saying about Hashem?
What are you saying about authentic Torah knowledge?
You MUST believe this!
It's daat Torah.
(Hopefully, you know this in a happy way.)
And like many other real talmidei chachamim, Rav Schwartz encourages us to discover this potential by investing in the following:
Think about the good abilities which Hashem has implanted within you, and then think about what your most special ability is, which is hidden within you.
To sum up:
The Key to Minimizing Sinat Chinam & Increasing Ahavat Yisrael: A Quote from Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender
Unfortunately, much of the world believes that seeing the negative aspects of things means you're honest.
However, the negative aspects are so easy to see, they often jump out at us.
Or, if someone seems oh-so perfect, we actively seek out his or her defects (unless we feel better served by raising him or her upon the highest pedestal possible in cultist adoration).
But according to authentic Torah Judaism, you've only seen the real picture when you've found the good aspects of the person or situation.
It doesn't mean you see a bad person or an evil situation as all sweetness & light.
Whitewashing isn't the goal here. (Whitewashing can even cause terrible damage.)
But simply find a point of light.
That's because everything comes from Hashem.
If you can't see Hashem's spark in there somewhere, you're missing something.
So here are a couple of stories of regular frum people behaving exceptionally...
...because good people always deserve more attention than bad people.
Grace in the Face of Errant Chicken Legs
Once, as I was still pretty fresh in the baal teshuvah movement in Eretz Yisrael, I found myself sitting across the table from a beautiful young FFB seminary girl of Egyptian extraction.
She seemed so perfectly lovely, eidel, wholesome and so perfectly FFB, I felt a bit intimidated as we all partook of the Shabbat meal together.
She was a teenage Beis Yaakov girl, either from Lakewood or New York, and I imagined her life & knowledge as very different—and better—than mine.
While trying to remove the meat from my chicken drumstick with a knife & fork, I made a wrong move.
The drumstick shot off my plate and skidded across the table before coming to a stop when it hit the edge of the plate of the lovely girl.
"Oh!" she instinctively said in surprise.
I was so embarrassed, I couldn't even speak and instead just looked at her in open-mouthed consternation.
She blinked, then took on relaxed buddy-buddy persona. "Oh," she said, flapping her hand reassuringly. "That happens to me ALL the time." And she gave me an encouraging smile while nodding her head.
Her friend sitting next to her, Lakey from Lakewood, looked at her like, What? No, it doesn't!
But Lakey tactfully didn't say anything.
However, I was thinking the same thing as Lakey apparently was.
But the lovely girl's gracious response helped me recover enough to apologize. "I'm really sorry about that."
"It's fiiiiine," she said, still playing oh-so casual—as if she really did shoot drumsticks on a regular basis at Shabbos meals.
"That's really nice of you," I said. And I meant it.
In response, she just blinked & gave me an innocent smile as if she had no idea what I meant.
I got to know her (and Lakey) a bit more throughout the year, and found her to be consistently sweet & refined.
Lakey was also an exceptionally good & mature young woman with a solid head on her shoulders.
Another time, I was a guest at the Shabbat table of good friends of mine, an American baal teshuvah couple around 10 years older than me who'd also moved to Eretz Yisrael.
Across the table from me sat a brother-sister duo from Lakewood, doing their "year in Israel." They were younger siblings of a rebbetzin the hosts had known back in the USA.
When the host asked the brother where he was learning, the brother answered, "Ponovezh."
I innocently asked, "What's that?"
The brother frowned, then raised his eyebrows and said, "Ponovezh?"
"Yeah," I said. "What is it? Like, I'm assuming it's a yeshivah. But what kind of yeshivah is it?"
He blinked. "You don't know what Ponovezh is?"
He wasn't being rude or critical, just in a state of genuine disbelief.
Or maybe he thought I might be pulling his leg.
So that's not a comfortable situation for him either.
At that point, the couple started chuckling in a good-natured manner.
Meanwhile, the younger sister, Zissy, was looking at each of us with increasing consternation.
"Oh," I said, my shoulders drooping, but trying to be good-humored about it. "Is that like asking what Harvard is?"
Still chuckling, the couple nodded and said, "Yeah, kind of."
"Oh, okay," I said, nodding & still trying to act like I found it funny too. But inside, I felt a little embarrassed and like, Am I ever going to catch up? Clearly, I'm still not getting the really obvious stuff that everyone else seems to know already.
At this point, Zissy looked outright distressed as she kept glancing around at all of us.
Then a look of resolve came over Zissy. She turned to me with a smile and in the friendliest way, she said, "Why should you know what Ponovezh is?"
Immediately, everyone stopped chuckling and her older brother frowned in puzzlement.
Then Zissy leaned back and, taking on an oh-so-casual demeanor, she waved her hand as she said, "I mean, what is Ponovezh anyway? Like, who cares about Ponovezh?"
Her brother's eyes widened as if thinking: Why is my little sister suddenly speaking weirdness & kefirah?
Then frowning, he turned to her to say something, but Zissy immediately gave him a big clenched-jaw smile with eyes that clearly said, Nu, big brother, JUST PLAY ALONG WITH ME—got it?
Then she turned back to me with her oh-so-casual demeanor and said, "After all, if my brother wasn't attending Ponovezh, I'd have no idea what it is..."
Now her brother blinked & looked amused. He realized what had happened.
Then the host proceeded to offer a brief explanation of Ponovezh's history (punctuated by remarks from Zissy, like "Oh, wow!" and "Oh, great—I just learned something new!").
Zissy's attempt to lessen my discomfort with such transparent play-acting both amused & touched me deeply.
I also felt secretly gratified that I must look like someone who knew what Ponovezh was—and that a world existed in which Ponovezh mattered while Harvard didn't.
Also, the chuckling hostess was a good friend of mine, a friend who often behaved with exceptional nurturing & sensitivity. We were very comfortable with each other, which is why she felt comfortable chuckling & didn't immediately realize I might not feel equally humored.
A New Dimension of Sensitivity
While growing up in a secular world brought me into contact with compassionate & sensitive secular Jews & non-Jews, the level of these teenage Beis Yaakov girls introduced a whole new dimension of sensitivity toward others.
Both girls completely focused on the discomfort of a stranger—and focused so wholly that they ignored their own kavod (ego, honor) in their mission to save the other's kavod.
In fact, neither seemed to sense her own kavod in their heartfelt attempt to save mine.
And due to their youth & inexperience, they did so with profoundly charming transparency.
It was obvious to everyone (including me) what they were doing, that what they said wasn't true at all.
(Meaning, the first girl never shot food off her plate while Zissy, an excellent student at the finest schools Lakewood & Yerushalayim had to offer, certainly knew all about & held in great esteem Ponovezh yeshivah.)
But as young women who grew up learning how the Mishneh says embarrassment is like killing a person, and how the Chumash & mefarshim show Tamar preferred to die rather than risk embarrassing Yehudah ben Yaakov—young women who took these lessons to heart—they cultivated a whole new dimension of sensitivity toward others.
It's a dimension in which you're willing to downgrade yourself in order to upgrade the other.
And the fact they did so with an obviousness that seemed foolish to others—putting themselves at risk for embarrassment—made it all the more meaningful.
Probably they never even realized how meaningful & exceptional their actions were; they simply acted on their own innate sense of compassion.
It was a beautiful kiddush Hashem on their part.
This was a huge lesson to me: the lengths the Torah inspires us to go in sensitivity to others.
(And also to see how Hashem really does grant parents ruach hakodesh when naming their child—Zissy truly lived up to her name!)
Feelings can be a message written in code—a code hard to decipher.
Meaning, they don't always mean what you think they mean.
Sometimes they do.
And sometimes, they mean something else.
The Wonderful Rosh Hashanah of 5780–and Its Outcome
For example, the Rosh Hashanah of 5780/2019 left me with a wonderful feeling.
Others also mentioned what a great Rosh Hashanah they experienced & the optimism they felt for the coming year.
A couple of months later, the covid virus hit the world.
Now, does that mean we didn't have a great Rosh Hashanah?
My belief then—which I still maintain—is that covid was meant to be a truly frightening plague, like the Black Plague or Spanish Flu rachmana litzlan, but the din got sweetened.
So we experienced what seemed like a particularly severe flu going around, and we experienced the results of a truly dangerous pandemic (quarantine, social distancing, all sorts of limitations, etc.)—all without actually experiencing the life-or-death horror a real plague brings.
Yes, I realize some people died and others suffered a lot. I saw that too.
It was definitely more severe, and for the immunity-vulnerable, much scarier than a regular flu season.
But as written HERE before, it was not the dangerous pandemic the media & governments made it out to be.
In contrast, the Spanish flu caused healthy young men symptoms in the morning & death by that same afternoon. Or the Black Plague, which decimated Europe's population by one-third.
So I feel like that WAS a great Rosh Hashanah after all!
I truly believe our prayers & intentions sweetened the covid din, that the pandemic was originally decreed to be much worse, but the decree got sweetened.
Tisha B'Av Elation?
This past Tisha B'Av (5781/2021) started out like every other Tisha B'Av, but then in the afternoon (after having been fasting since the night before), I started feeling elated.
That's really weird while being immersed in the most heartbreaking & traumatic day of the year.
Never felt that way before on Tisha B'Av.
I really started feeling high & later, my husband admitted he also developed a good mood around that time.
Yet around 2 hours before the end of the fast, I developed a splitting headache.
I usually fast well & am not prone to headaches, so this was very odd.
The truth is, I didn't prepare properly prior to the fast—didn't drink as much as required prior to a 25-hour fast.
I tried to last out the fast, but couldn't. I ended up drinking an hour before the fast went out, which was permissible in my situation, but felt wrong, especially so close to the end of the fast.
(It was SERIOUS pain.)
Yet emotionally, I felt elated & optimistic. (Also, I developed newfound empathy for people who suffer terrible headaches. Anything that develops our capacity for compassion is a good thing.)
What did that elation mean?
But since our Sages tell us that in the World to Come, Tisha B'Av will turn into a chag, a time of celebration, I'm hoping that elation was a harbinger of good things to come, that we no longer really need a mournful Tisha B'Av because the Geula is around the corner.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm holding on to this hopeful thought for now.
The Geshmak Rosh Hashanah of 5782
This past Rosh Hashanah (5782/2021) left me feeling optimistic once again.
It was really geshmak.
Others also mentioned what a great Rosh Hashanah they experienced.
Some very desirable things also occurred, which hadn't before (will write about that in a later post).
Also, prior to this Rosh Hashanah, I managed to forgive (mostly) someone I'd never managed to forgive before. Last Elul, I sat down several times with Hashem & REALLY tried several times to forgive, but could not manage it.
And yeah, I know all the mussar about forgiveness, about how beneficial it is emotionally & spiritually, and how everything is from Hashem so it's all actually good, etcetera, etcetera...
I still couldn't do it. Not at all!
It was such a block. Why was I holding on to this grudge for years?
I needed to figure that out.
This year, for some reason, I managed to (mostly) forgive that person.
Despite feeling wonderful throughout Rosh Hashanah, late into the first night of Rosh Hashanah, I found myself weeping copiously for reasons I don't completely understand.
Does it mean anything?
Does the bout of weeping late into the first night or the wonderful feeling encompassing the rest of Rosh Hashanah mean anything?
I don't know.
I tend toward emotional intensity; that has been my personality my whole life. (I just restrain myself when around others, both for their sake & mine.)
So it could just be me being wonky. Or something else connected to the neshamah.
But for a variety of reasons, I see this past Rosh Hashanah was productive for a lot of people—including for people whose bitter personal situation did not allow them to "enjoy" it, but still utilized it for intense spiritual growth & connection (whether they perceived it that way or not).
A Story of Two Young Men Davening at the Gravesite of a Tzaddik
The Bitachon Weekly for Parshat VaYelech 5782 (thanks, Nechumelle!) presents the story of 2 young men who made a long trip to the gravesite of a certain tzaddik.
(Within a year, most people experience a positive turnaround in answer to their prayers there.)
The two decided to recite the entire Sefer Tehillim at the gravesite.
One recited the Tehillim with heartfelt fervor & experienced a wonderful certainty of revealed good for the coming year.
The other struggled to recite his Tehillim with heart & warmth, feeling instead a coldness & lack of connection in his davening.
After he completed the Sefer Tehillim, he mentally sought the reason for this blockage & acknowledged all sorts of transgressions he'd committed, realizing these transgressions likely contributed to the blockage.
Around 6 months later, both young men found new jobs within a week of each other (a sign that their davening at the gravesite "worked").
The young man who experienced heartfelt davening received a great job, which brought him a lot of happiness & satisfaction.
But the other young man, whose davening felt like a failure, received an even better job with much better conditions.
His result was even happier than the other's.
Why? What happened beneath the surface?
The Bitachon Weekly concludes (boldface mine):
We see from this story how every Tefila counts, and even when you think Hashem isn’t pleased with your Tefilos, He may Davka like them!
It's All about the Heart
We don't know what happens under the surface.
This World is veiled.
It's an upside-down world.
So much depends on our sincerity.
Things aren't what they seem.
But we can feel good about everything.
We can feel good about having experienced a geshmak Rosh Hashanah.
And we can feel good about experiencing a Rosh Hashanah of pain & struggle.
And this applies to all spiritual efforts.
It's the heart that counts.
You can sign up for Bitachon Weekly here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, with regard to what feelings sometimes mean, please see this post about the Kav HaYashar:
Hashem really does help us when we yearn to do the right thing.
For example, I found myself in an uncomfortable situation with a neighbor in regard to shidduchim.
I wasn't sure if I handled a situation properly, with proper respect & derech eretz.
I asked my husband & someone else, both of whom said I handled it just fine & the neighbors understood just fine, no problem.
I wasn't so sure.
Unfortunately, based on the dynamics & personalities involved, it was a situation in which apologizing or even just asking about the issue could make things worse; bringing it up could create a problem that, for the moment, existed only in mind.
So I spoke to Hashem about it a couple of times, requesting that He enlighten me about what I needed to do (if anything) and whether the situation really lay at rest or not.
I didn't invest hours of hitbodedut in this; just briefly explained my concerns & doubts, and asked for help, for a sign one way or the other.
And I did this only a couple of times.
The first happy indication occurred when I went to knock on another neighbor's door to request something—and right then, the married daughter of the neighbor (about whom I felt concern) came down the stairs with her young children.
She greeted me with cheerful warmth, giving no vibes of coldness or hesitancy.
This was the first sign that as far as this young woman went, everything was fine.
(The situation primarily involved her & her mother, so the fact that Hashem brought us to the stairwell at exactly the same time showed me how much He cares & orchestrates things to the second.)
But still unsure how my neighbor felt, I briefly asked Hashem again to help me figure things out.
A knock on the door Rosh Hashanah morning brought me face to face with that same neighbor. She held a platter of homemade dairy delicacies, which she handed to me with a gracious smile & a warm wish for a good year.
Thank you, Hashem—thank you for both the reassuring answering to my quandary and also for all the lovely cheesecake & alfajores!
Later, she sent her teenage daughter with a platter of succulently prepared meat, chicken, and rice.
What a delicious relief!
Why This Works for EVERYONE
Despite the influence of a culture that insists we be totally confident at all times & that many issues we encounter with others should be dismissed as "their problem" (as long as we've done our best—or at least assume we've done our best, even if maybe we haven't)...it's okay to feel nagging doubts.
We don't always know.
And that's okay.
Sure, the problem might lay within ourselves. Maybe insecurity, overanxiety, a sense of over-responsibility, and so forth.
But maybe not.
While society is quick to label such a person as "overthinking things," "overanxious," "co-dependent," "needy," "obsessive," "neurotic," "too sensitive," and so on, you are who you are & whatever level you happen to be on now.
And you need to deal with yourself where you are right now & sort things out in a way YOU can understand.
Side point: I also noticed that simply calling people names—including psychology labels—has never been helpful. It's not like people who, say, overthink things magically stop overthinking just because you tell them. Most people need help & strategies to overcome a behavior, and not just be told, "Here—this is what's wrong with you."
And that is indeed if there is actually something "wrong" with you, and not just that the other person finds you annoying because he or she resists thinking about others or examining their own behavior, and therefore accuses anyone who does of "overthinking things."
Reaching out to Hashem & saying, "Help me. I don't want to be a source of pain for another person. Please show me the truth of the matter"—this usually brings an answer because THIS is one of the things Hashem wants most.
He wants us to be nice to each other—sensitive, compassionate, and caring.
Hashem also wants us to make amends when we've stumbled.
It's important to know that Hashem helps regular flawed people, as shown above, and even without investing hours of prayer in the issue.
Sometimes, people don't bother trying because it seems too confusing or too complicated, or too much trouble.
And yes, sometimes it IS pretty confusing or complicated.
But before dismissing something as too confusing, complicated, or too much trouble, it's worth turning to Hashem as you would a truly trustworthy Best Friend, a Best Friend Who can & wants to help you with anything & everything.
Just a few brief words, expressing, "I feel bad about this, not sure if it's just me, and not sure what to do about it, but would really like some kind of indication how I'm supposed to proceed. If everything really is okay, then I'd like to know that for sure. If everything is not okay, then I'd like to know what's wrong & how to fix it."
So I didn't invest in the conventional methods to work out the above issue because I needed to know FOR CERTAIN, and no method was going to give me that certainty—except asking Hashem for help.
And I'm far from being on a high level, so I don't deserve direct intervention, but Hashem gave it to me anyway because He truly helps us do the right thing.
He's Compassionate like that.
For 2 other examples of how this works:
I request forgiveness if anyone was hurt in any way by anything posted on this blog.
I request forgiveness for anything misleading or confusing.
I want to apologize if anything written in this blog caused harm to anyone.
Part of the official Jewish Vidui/Confession is ya’atznu aitzot ra’ot—we’ve counseled bad advice.
In an effort to avoid this sin, I base my recommendations either on people much greater than I could imagine being or on my own regrettable experience, hoping to help others avoid suffering the same pain and flops that I’ve suffered, plus benefiting from chizuk I either wish I’d had or have indeed received and found helpful.
Having said that, I know I messed up at times.
For example, sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me. I really try not to write or post in certain moods, but occasionally, it happened.
In such situations, I went back & adjusted the post.
For example, this post: Happy Update on Rachel Naomi bat Esther Chana, Plus a Very Disturbing COVID-19 Case.
There, I came down very hard on doctors & hospitals after my husband told me about a head doctor of a hospital ward telling a nurse to simply turn off the life support of 4 elderly covid patients.
Appalled at this doctor's attitude & also his psychopathic certainty that he could request this crime from his staff with no repercussions & expect full obedience, I was still on fire when I wrote the post requesting donations for Rabbi Sofer.
But when a comment came in noting that many hospital staff work with devotion for their patients, I realized I needed to acknowledge the moral & dedicated doctors & nurses too.
So I went back & toned down the original post.
Likewise, when writing about the problems of modern pop psychology, I later realized I was too hard on therapists.
Furthermore, I came across lectures by Rav Avigdor Miller (who was not a fan of therapy), which noted that discouraging people from going to therapy affects the parnasa of frum therapists.
He also noted that some therapists DO guide people according to Torah, but use the language of psychology so people will both understand them & take them seriously as professionals.
So I went back & adjusted several posts, emphasizing the good many frum therapists do. (Those same posts already acknowledged the helpful aspects of some therapists, but not as much as required.)
Posts written on the topic since then also acknowledge this broader realization.
So while I continue to discuss the superiority of Torah over pop psychology (because that's what I honestly believe & find helpful), these discussions also include this broader realization.
So those are things for which I'm sorry & made amends as best I could by going back to correct things, writing more responsibly since then, and apologizing now.
Included in this is how maybe I misunderstood or miscommunicated an important idea, which messed you up.
Or, despite my best efforts, maybe a post contains lashon hara or something wrong or useless or misleading.
Maybe a comment or email to you was tactless or insensitive in some way.
(I aim for compassion and sensitivity, but because I usually have no idea to whom I'm emailing/commenting, I can totally flub up. Actually, I can totally flub up even if I know exactly to whom I'm speaking. But I try not to flub up.)
For all the above, I’m truly sorry.
May we all enjoy a sweet new year full of sweetened dinim/judgments.
May Hashem forgive us, may we forgive each other, and may we forgive ourselves.
And may each of us merit to fulfill our unique soul-potential.
B'ezrat Hashem, may you all be inscribed for a year of revealed good & sweetness...
...and may the light of the Geula shine b'rachamim on us all.
The dvar Torah I received this week from Toras Avigdor discusses Rosh Hashanah:
Rosh Hashanah 5 – Judgement Day
For a previous post on this parsha, please see:
Rav Avigdor Miller Discusses the Truth behind the Good Stuff of This World in Parshat Netzavim
And the original:
To discuss Rosh Hashanah (which I think I missed doing last year, so I guess this makes up for it), Rav Miller reveals that long-term, even permanent things, can be decided on Rosh Hashanah.
For example, you could be sentenced to live in a neighborhood that will bring down you & your family in religiosity & character.
Or, you could merit to move to a neighborhood full of positive spiritual-growth-inducing influences.
On page 4, Rav Miller takes a closer look at the conversation between Elihu & Iyov (Job), which is pretty interesting.
It also takes us to a form of dream interpretation, in which Rav Miller explains how our dreams reveal something of our essence—something in contrast to our waking behavior that takes us by surprise.
For example, Rav Miller related the time he dreamed of sitting in a dry bathtub full of money—and he enjoyed it.
Yet he criticizes himself for it (page 6):
It was a pleasant dream but in the morning I asked myself, “Why is it that I don’t dream about Hashem?”
Clearly, Rav Miller is not a religious hypocrite.
Religious hypocrites neither think nor speak like this.
But we should follow his example in using a dream for soul-searching & self-improvement.
That's the lesson here for us all.
In a dream, a person can be violent or commit major sins—things he would never do in real life—and that says something about him, says Rav Miller.
But it all depends on context.
Once, I dreamt I was being forced to hurt someone I couldn't recognize. Then I realized it was my own child, and I immediately stopped, hugged him close to me, and burst into tears.
After intense analysis, I realized the dream referred to the chinuch advice I received at that time, which was harmful to my child (not at all the intention of the well-meaning chinuch advisor, but harmful nonetheless).
The dream really helped me.
Anyway, like with all messages from Hashem, these are meant to be loving.
Hashem wants us to live a wonderful life & merit a wonderful eternity.
So He sends us messages about stuff we're stumbling in so we can right ourselves & merit unimaginable goodness.
Even One-Thousandth of a Malach Matters
On Rosh Hashanah, your malachim (angels) get together on your behalf.
What are ways to create your din-sweetening malachim?
Rav Miller suggests:
Tilt the scales with as many malachim as you can, even via seemingly minor acts of goodness.
A bizarre yet happy chiddush from Shabbat 32a informs us that even one-thousandth of a malach can save you.
Meaning, your good deed was tainted in so many ways, but you have that 1/1000 part speaking up on your behalf.
But that one-thousandth of a malach can be all that's needed to tip you into a sweet new year.
And Heaven hold onto hope for us that maybe this coming year, we'll improve even more.
Rav Miller informs us of this idea to motivate us to do good deeds regardless of how worthless or tainted we think our good deeds are.
The Secret Revelation of Why Hashem Uses Malachim
Have you ever wondered why Hashem uses malachim?
After all, Hashem is wholly Omnipotent & can do anything & everything.
The answers are on pages 11-12.
Here's part of the answer:
A mitzvah is not like we think, just something that we once did, or thought or said.
This reminds me of a true story included in the book, The Stolen Light by Yitzchak (Izo) Leibowitz & translated into English by Rivka Levy.
A top guy in the Israeli mafia got shot in the head & his soul ascended to the Heavenly Court where the prosecuting angel read off his tome of transgressions and each transgression appeared as an ugly frightening monster. The room filled with thousands of them, and they all started screaming at him, "Why did you create me?"
His mitzvot, however (consisting of one page read by his defending angel), created beautiful angels who thanked him sweetly for creating them.
(Then Rebbe Nachman appeared, saved him from the final verdict, and the guy returned to his body & did complete teshuvah.)
Anyway, Rav Miller's point is it's okay to bluff your goodness.
Be nice, even if you secretly know it's not really you.
You're still creating angels—even if it's only 1/1000 of an angel.
Even that tiny sliver of angel matters.
On page 13, Rav Miller discusses the importance of encouraging people.
Sometimes, you can simply offer encouragement without any prompting.
Other times, a person confides in you, giving you the opportunity to respond with encouragement.
Yet encouragement is not what many people assume it is today.
Today, people encourage you by saying, "You really need to take so-and-so's chinuch class. It'll help you so much."
Or, "I want to encourage you to attend a 12-Step program."
Or, "You need to get out more."
Or, "Just have emunah!"
Now, sometimes saying the above is the perfect thing to say.
These things aren't black 'n' white.
But real encouragement generally means telling the person something good about how he or she is RIGHT NOW.
Not what you think they need to do to improve their lives or themselves (though there is a time & a place for saying that too), but something good about who they are or what they're doing.
Not a tactful version of "This will help you because you're so flawed in this area" & not "Turn to Hashem or to a therapist because I sure as heck do not want to deal with listening to or empathizing with you."
Again, it's GOOD to turn to Hashem.
But a lot of people use the cheery commands of "Just daven!" "Just have emunah!" "Think good & it will be good!" to get you out of their hair & release them from having to listen or empathize.
Maybe they honestly do not have the time or emotional energy to listen. That's legitimate. Why should they emotionally exhaust themselves with a difficult conversation? It's not fair to do that to them.
But how much are these pious or "go-to-a-class/group/expert" brush-offs coming from apathy?
If you really cannot spare the emotional energy to listen or tell the person good things about him- or herself, then it's encouraging to tell the person you'll daven for them—and MEAN it.
It says something when you're willing to think about someone on your own time.
Ideas for encouragement:
Rav Miller also recommends writing a letter of encouragement—even anonymously.
Rav Miller continues in the PDF with other wonderful yet simple ideas for positive change.
May Hashem please grant us all a sweet year full of revealed blessing & the light of Mashiach.
Credit for all material & quotes goes to Toras Avigdor.
The 4 Causes of Death Attributed to C0vid that Aren't Actually Caused by C0vid—and Why This is Happening
I managed to ignore most of the news over the past couple of weeks, but it's hard to ignore the headlines in all the frum newspapers blaring: 7000 total have died of corona! —since its appearance in Israel a couple of years ago.
(What about the 3000 Israelis killed by actual terrorists or the 20,093 Israeli soldiers killed since 1948? That's a lot of Jews. How about we do something about that!)
But like everything else with covid, nothing is what it seems.
4 Causes of Death Attributed to C0vid (Or, Why the C0vid Death Rates Can't Possibly be Accurate)
There are 4 ways to be labeled as having died of covid while, in reality, the patient died of something else:
I'm not going to go into the last one because I've no proof, so I cannot discuss it intelligently, and because I lack proof, you've every right to disbelieve it.
But just to briefly explain why I include it: A rabbi confided in my husband that a staff member was told by person in charge of the ward to turn off the life-support machine of an elderly patient diagnosed with covid-19, and then write down the official cause of death as covid-19.
The staff member did so 4 times (that's 4 people) before a guilty conscience caused this person to turn to a rabbi, who then told this person that one must quit one's job rather than turn off life-support.
So, minus 4 for murder, the Israeli covid death count is actually 6996.
In Thailand, some nurses came out and said they were told to kill patients, but I can't remember where that article is.
We can't know how much this has happened.
There's no proof it happened at all.
So that's all I'm saying about it.
(Side note: I tried to see if something could be done, but in the face of a variety of obstacles, no.)
Note: The links below represent a sample to support claims, but certainly, more examples exist than what appears below.
Hospital errors are nothing new.
Nor is infection by the many ferocious germs already in hospitals.
In fact, the father of one of my son's friends went to the hospital for a minor reason & contracted a severe bacteria that killed him within a few days. I heard that directly from his widow at the shiva.
Yes, the man had medical issues that made him vulnerable. But his widow couldn't shake the realization that if he'd remained home, he'd probably still be alive.
Is that the hospital's fault?
Hard to say.
Despite the strict hygienic policies required among hospital staff, studies show that many do not follow the required regimen, washing their hands less often than they should among other issues:
So the inadvertent lack of hygiene? That's one kind of hospital error.
Here's a general gist of hospital errors:
It is well-known now that at the beginning of the covid spread, hospitals were not using the ventilators properly for the specific issues of the covid patients. This was not on purpose, yet it happened & many people died. How many? Hundreds? Thousands worldwide? Is it possible to know?
Diabetes patients not receiving the meals they need at the proper time in order to maintain a safe blood-sugar level, amid other neglect of appropriate treatment among covid patients:
Outright easily preventable neglect bordering on criminal (like starvation):
Loneliness, boredom & isolation causing depression & lethargy, which negatively affects one's physical health:
Covid patients suffering cold & discomfort, intensifying the ill health of the patients.
Doctors at Wolfson: Coronavirus Patients Are Being Neglected | Hamodia.com
Hospital Falsification of Cause of Death
Reports appeared around the world of people having died of other causes, but hospital staff registering it as a covid-19 death.
On her blog, Rivka Levy mentioned a family she knew who told her this happened to them, that their relative died of cancer, but the hospital wanted to register it as covid-19.
Reports spread regarding victims of vehicular accidents labeled as covid deaths if they tested positive for covid, even though covid had nothing to do with their death:
And here is this doctor revealing that doctors were told outright to carry out this scheme:
Shocking: doctors told to fill out COVID death certificates without tests
Why Is This Happening?
Like everything else connected to covid, nothing is clear.
Nothing is what it seems.
Has there ever been a time when hospital staff worldwide neglected patients with the SAME specific disease to this point, made such copious errors regarding the same disease, and were pressured to falsely report deaths as resulting from this same disease?
And ALL regarding the SAME disease?
(Yes, I realize sufferers of leprosy & Ebola may have been neglected out of fear, but was anyone telling doctors to intentionally write the cause of death as leprosy or Ebola when the person actually died of cancer or a motorcycle crash?)
This post is not meant to scare.
(In fact, maybe you can feel relieved the c0vid death rate is not as high as it seems.)
Since time immemorial, the medical profession has been plagued with the above issues & medical treatment always depends on siyata d'Shmaya.
Personally, I've had both extremely positive experiences with hospital staff & negative experiences.
I've had doctors dismiss correct treatment & prescribe ineffective treatment or difficult treatment that did not treat the problem at its source, when the core solution was something else entirely (and MUCH easier to carry out).
But I've also had doctors figure out the right diagnosis & treatment with great accuracy.
I've encountered caring, competent, patient hospital staff & cold-hearted or nasty hospital staff who should never work with people, let alone become doctors & nurses responsible for the care of other human beings.
The covid phenomenon simply highlights these issues, putting these issues on steroids.
Once again, this is part of the new era of Keter d'reisha d'lo ityada (the apex of stuff "not being able to be known") as explained by Rav Itamar Schwartz as presented on the Bilvavi website.
The whole covid phenomenon represents this new era, which is why everything connected with covid is like a snake slithering & twisting in & out of our grips.
This is why anytime anyone thinks they've figured something out about covid, the rug gets whisked out from under their feet.
We see this with all the contradictory reports regarding masks, social distancing, vaccines, treatment, statistics—everything.
Hashem MEANS it to be like that.
When things are not predictable & we lose the illusion of control, we realize we lack any other choice but to turn to Hashem.
(Ideally, anyway. Not everyone does or will do this.)
May we please receive the light of Geula b'rachamim.
For more on the phenomenon of Keter d'reisha d'lo ityada, please see:
I'm a middle-aged housewife and mother in Eretz Yisrael who likes to read and write a lot.
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