Recall the good things that happened to you in the past. If you mentally relive those experiences, you will be in a much better state of mind to deal with the present more efficiently.
Keep a list of the good things that have happened to you. When you feel sad, take out your list and read it over. Think especially about those things you felt joy over when you first obtained them, things you still have. By recalling your original joy, you will feel better now.
Sad people tend to talk about their misfortunes and this causes them needless misery. They should form the habit of talking about the positive experiences of their life. When you talk about positive experiences and thoughts, they have a positive effect on your emotional state. By doing this a few times, you build up your confidence in your ability to evoke positive emotions.
(Hishtapchus Hanefesh; Rabbi Pliskin's Gateway to Happiness, p.181)
The Chazon Ish wrote: A person who has reached a proper level of love for others will not feel hurt or anger by what they say to him. Love has the ability to cancel all wrongdoings. Although he personally will be meticulously careful to show respect to everyone, he realizes that the majority of people have not perfected their character traits, and so he does not have excessive expectations about others. Such an elevated person will not have to constrain himself to not feel anger or the pain of embarrassment, for he is in a constant state of happiness.
Though the level the Chazon Ish describes takes much working on oneself to achieve, it is humanly possible to obtain, and we should strive to travel in that direction.
About this and similar ideals, I often quote my teacher, Rabbi Gavriel Ginsberg, who said, "When you reach for the stars, you might not catch any. But at least you won't get your hands in the mud."
(Chazon Ish - Emunah Ubitochon 1:11,15; Rabbi Pliskin's Gateway to Happiness, p.205)
Adar 12 marks the dedication of Herod's renovations on the second Holy Temple in Jerusalem in 11 BCE. Herod was king of Judea in the first century BCE who constructed grand projects like the fortresses at Masada and Herodium, the city of Caesarea, and fortifications around the old city of Jerusalem. The most ambitious of Herod's projects was the re-building of the Temple, which was in disrepair after standing over 300 years. Herod's renovations included a huge man-made platform that remains today the largest man-made platform in the world. It took 10,000 men 10 years just to build the retaining walls around the Temple Mount; the Western Wall that we know today is part of that retaining wall. The Temple itself was a phenomenal site, covered in gold and marble. As the Talmud says, "He who has not seen Herod's building, has never in his life seen a truly grand building."
On Adar 13, during the biblical story of Purim, the 10 sons of Haman were hanged (Esther 9:7). This would find eerie parallel over 2,000 years later when 10 top Nazi officials were hanged at the Nuremberg Trials. Incredibly, the Hebrew year of the hangings at Nuremberg, 5707, is encoded in the Book of Esther: In the listing of Haman's 10 sons, three Hebrew letters -- taf, shin and zayin, representing the year 5707 -- are written unusually small. (This anomaly appears in every authentic Megillah scroll, written that way for over 2,000 years.) Incredibly, when Nazi officer Julius Streicher ascended the gallows to be hanged at Nuremberg, he shouted, "Purimfest 1946."
Adar 13 is also the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (1895-1986), the great leader of 20th century American Jewry. Born in Russia, Rabbi Feinstein escaped the Stalinist regime in 1937 and settled in New York. He became recognized as the leading rabbinic figure of his generation, issuing thousands of responsa on all matters of Jewish law (published in a collection called Igros Moshe, The Letters of Moshe). Rabbi Feinstein was known for his genius command of talmudic literature, which enabled him to delve into topics of modern medicine, economics and ethics, thus demonstrating the power of Torah to integrate with the modern world. Rabbi Feinstein was born on Adar 7, the birth date of the biblical Moses, after whom he is named. Rabbi Feinstein was revered for his great humility and concern for every human being. He was buried in Jerusalem, where 200,000 people attended his funeral on Purim day.
With exercising patience you could have saved yourself 400 zuzim (Berachos 20a).
This Talmudic proverb arose from a case where someone was fined 400 zuzim because he acted in undue haste and insulted some one.
I was once pulling into a parking lot. Since I was a bit late for an important appointment, I was terribly annoyed that the lead car in the procession was creeping at a snail's pace. The driver immediately in front of me was showing his impatience by sounding his horn. In my aggravation, I wanted to join him, but I saw no real purpose in adding to the cacophony.
When the lead driver finally pulled into a parking space, I saw a wheelchair symbol on his rear license plate. He was handicapped and was obviously in need of the nearest parking space. I felt badly that I had harbored such hostile feelings about him, but was gratified that I had not sounded my horn, because then I would really have felt guilty for my lack of consideration.
This incident has helped me to delay my reactions to other frustrating situations until I have more time to evaluate all the circumstances. My motives do not stem from lofty principles, but from my desire to avoid having to feel guilt and remorse for having been foolish or inconsiderate.
Today I shall ...
... try to withhold impulsive reaction, bearing in mind that a hasty act performed without full knowledge of all the circumstances may cause me much distress.
From the mouths of babes and sucklings You established strength (Psalms 8:3).
The Talmud tells us that when Haman threatened to annihilate the Jews, Mordechai gathered the children and led them in prayer to God. Why children? Because they are likely to be more sincere, and their prayers more genuine.
A Chassidic master said that one of the things we should learn from an infant is that it cries for whatever it wants. When an infant wants something, it wants it with all its being, and nothing else either interests it or distracts it from the object of its desire. The baby will cry relentlessly until it gets what it wants.
We pray for the redemption of Israel. We tell ourselves that we really want the Exile to end. We ask for redemption no less than three times a day in our prayers. But just one question: If we really wanted it as much as we say we do, why do we not cry for it?
An infant does not play intellectual games. It does not rationalize. It does not debate why it is preferable to get its way or not get it. The item of its desire may be only a brightly colored ball or a wooden block, but at that moment, it is as important to the infant as life itself, and it makes its desire well known to all with ears to hear.
Parents respond to the infant's cry because, in their intense love for the child, they do not wish to deprive it of something it wants so desperately.
God loves us more than a parent loves a child. If we would cry for our redemption, we would certainly get it.
Today I shall ...
... try to understand how being in Exile prevents me from attaining maximum intimacy with God, to the point where I will cry to Him for redemption.
See more books by Rabbi Abraham Twerski at Artscroll.com
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