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Add Meaning to Your Life

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Including Jewish Wisdom and the mitzvahs in your life can, and will, add meaning to your life. It will enrich your life as a Jew. But, you may ask, what role can ancient wisdom play in your life as a modern person, a modern Jew? Plenty, that’s the great thing about wisdom; the words my age, the phrases come to sound archaic, but the message behind them is eternal. Rabbi Manis Friedman makes ancient wisdom accessible to the modern mind and helps you find purpose and clarity. A large part of Rabbi Manis’ message centers around relationships, love, and service. He helps you answer the seminal questions about life and love, questions such as the following. “What does it mean to be a woman in Judaism, and to be a wife, a husband, a child, a parent?” What role can Judaism play in these essential roles we play in life? And “How can we bring meaning to our lives, in large things and small?” You can access Rabbi Friedman’s wisdom, insight, and humor through his books and DVD’s, or by having him attend your event as a speaker. If you feel you are ready for personal coaching, you can also engage him as a personal life coach for you. He approaches sensitive subjects that we face in life with sensitivity and humor. You can have coaching sessions in person, in Crown Heights, NY or by telephone, whichever is most convenient for you. Visit our store to start your journey.

Maybe I’ll Never Get Married

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marriage Banish that thought from your head, right now! Rest assured that the other half of your soul is out there. G-d originally created Adam and Chava as one body. Their subsequent separation was only for the purpose of their eventual reunification. So too, everyone has their other half waiting for them. This is why we must shift our perspective. Your spouse is out there, because you are meant to be married to one another. It’s preordained. Therefore, how much longer can you remain separated? G-d will surely bring you together. It is G-d’s will that it should happen and so it will happen. In the meantime, stay focused. Don’t think about marrying a man or marrying a woman. Focus on finding your husband or your wife. The verse in the Torah says “a man leaves his parents and cleaves to his wife” (Genesis 2:24) – not to a woman. This is why women should not be thinking about men and men should not be thinking about women. It isn’t nice and it isn’t kosher. Your job is only to look for your spouse. Sure, you can make a list of the qualities you’d like in a spouse. But don’t take your list too seriously. A shadchan didn’t call you back? Ok, so call another shadchan. It is not up to them. Only G-d can determine whom you marry and when it happens. The only variable is through which channel your bashert will arrive. He or she might come through this shadchan or through that shadchan or not through a shadchan at all! G-d has many emissaries, but remember that it is only G-d who calls the shots. We need to think rationally. Rational thinking means recognizing that I’m probably typical. If the vast majority of people find a spouse, then I will too. Don’t pay attention to statistics and don’t entertain scary thoughts about never getting married. Trust in G-d and stay focused on your individual mission.

Is There Really a Shidduch Crisis?

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I often hear single people not only complain about being single, but also about the fact that many of their friends can’t seem to get married as well. I can’t get married and she can’t get married and she can’t get married. There must be a crisis! Before we address this subject, I think it is relevant to mention a story that occurred some years ago. A series of tragedies befell the Montreal Jewish community in a very short time. Numerous people wrote letters to the Lubavticher Rebbe proclaiming that “everything is going wrong.” There seemed to be one misfortune after another. He was asked what could potentially be the cause of this phenomenon. The Rebbe replied that goodness works in groups. Kedusha works in groups. But kelipa – the opposite of holiness – does not cooperate. Bad never cooperates with bad. This teaches us that bad things are incapable of working together. Therefore, we must steer clear of classifying them as part of one unified negative whole. If three bad things happen, they are three independent, separate, unrelated events. One is not connected to the other. There is no “conspiracy” at work. But we’re very prone to suspecting a conspiracy whenever things don’t go our way. And this brings me back our original topic. Is there a “shidduch crisis?” The entire question is counterproductive. What would a shidduch crisis have to do with you? It’s not like a group of single women got together and decided: “Let’s make a crisis.” The fact that there are other people who are still unmarried has nothing to do with you. And isn’t it remarkable just how quickly the crisis vanishes once you get engaged? Don’t think of yourself as part of a “crisis” and don’t subscribe to ‘group-think.’ You don’t get married as a group and you don’t stay single as a group. Getting married is not a group project. It’s time to stop thinking in “crisis” terms and to start thinking as an individual. Finding your bashert is a private matter that is only between you, your future husband, and G-d.

How to Daven for Your Shidduch

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Many women have complained to me: “I don’t know why G-d doesn’t answer me! I keep praying and pleading and crying to meet a guy and nothing happens.” Oh really, G-d doesn’t answer? Do you mean to tell me that you have never met a guy before?   We need to be more careful with how we speak to G-d. True, He knows what is in our hearts, but we need to be more mindful of what we say to Him. When we pray we should be a little more conscious about what it is we are asking for. When you pray to find a shidduch (marriage partner), you need to be specific. Don’t simply ask to meet a “man” or a “woman.” Ask G-d to introduce you to your husband or your wife. And don’t just ask to meet your spouse. What good is it to only meet someone? You want to be married to your spouse. And not only married, but settled with a family. That’s how you should pray when seeking a shidduch.   I’m reminded of the following story: A man complained to his rabbi that he doesn’t have enough money. ‘You have to trust in G-d!’ urged his rabbi. ‘I keep praying and asking G-d!’ the man protested. ‘What exactly do you ask for?” the rabbi asked. ‘I ask G-d to find me a job!” replied the man.   The man in the story didn’t want a job. He wanted to be rich! If he had only just said so, perhaps G-d would have granted Him his prayer. We need to work on being honest with G-d. When you pray, just be straight with Him. Don’t be afraid to be blunt. Tell Him the truth. Don’t ask to meet a man – not even a certain kind of man. Ask to get married to your husband. You’re not a character in a romance novel. You are a Jew who wants to build a home and a life with the other half of your soul. So, stop wasting your time trying to meet guys. Cut to the chase and ask G-d to give you exactly what you need. Ask Him to get you married to your spouse. Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0m_-qIMrRY

Never ask ‘why?’

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The One Question You Should Never Ask in a Marriage If I had to write a book about marriage, it would be a very short one. It would consist of a single sentence: Never ask ‘why.’   Why Can’t I say Why? ‘Why’ can be very offensive. This one word can destroy everything you strive to create in your marriage. The ‘W-word’ can even shatter marriages founded with the best of intentions. When your spouse expresses her needs, wants, fears, likes, dislikes etc., do not ask: ‘why.’ It is not your job to find out why. Your job is to meet the needs of your spouse. No questions asked. Asking ‘why’ is insensitive and dismissive. Asking ‘why’ means: ‘I’m not impressed or convinced until you give me a reason.’ “Oh, something bothers you? Ok, give me a reason why it bothers you and then maybe I’ll think about not doing that anymore.” ‘Why’ communicates the message that the other person’s opinions are unimportant. It trivializes your spouse’s feelings. ‘Why’ is frustrating, because most of the time, your spouse doesn’t even know why something bothers him or her. He doesn’t know why he needs it this way. It just is what it is. None of us knows why we are the way we are. So, when you force a spouse to explain why, it causes great pain and frustration.   What, Not Why: If you really want to understand your spouse better, don’t ask ‘why.’ Ask: ‘What.’ ‘What happened? What are you feeling? What’s going on?’ By asking ‘what,’ you are asking for more information, which stimulates constructive communication. ‘Why,’ leads to a fight. ‘What’ leads to a good conversation. If you stop asking ‘why’ and start asking ‘what,’ you will start to see an immediate improvement in your marriage. Try it. It works.

Don’t Marry a Man or a Woman. Marry a Husband or a Wife.

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How to Date the Jewish Way: Don’t Marry a Man or a Woman. Marry a Husband or a Wife. Are you looking for a man to marry? I advise you not to. You see, men don’t really make good husbands. Men have opinions. And any man you marry will have his own set of wants and needs. He’ll have own plans. His own schtick. But you yourself already have your own opinions. Your own wants and needs. Your own schtick. See the problem? In other words, you’re asking for trouble. For a marriage to work, you need to find a husband. Not a man. And you need to be a wife. Not a woman. There is a profound difference. Today, we’re inundated with unhealthy messages about relationships from the outside world. So much so that even the most pious of Jews can fall prey to foreign points of view. As a result, most of us wish to meet a man or a woman whom we like and then make this person our spouse. However, this is the product of assimilated thinking. It’s not Jewish. The reason it doesn’t work is because you can’t take a “man” and turn him into a husband. Neither can you transform a “woman” into wife. A marriage can only work when each partner is fully committed to the other.   A man or a woman makes his or her own needs primary. ‘What’s in it for me?’ Therefore, since no two people can agree on everything, men and women clash. And when they don’t feel they are getting what each of them wanted, they separate.   But a husband or a wife makes the needs of his or her spouse primary. The focus is not on meeting selfish wants and needs. Rather, the goal of a husband and wife is to strengthen their bond through selfless acts of giving and devoted service to one another.   In the old days, people valued the duties and responsibilities that come with marriage. It was understood that a good marriage requires sacrifice. Today, this idea is far less intuitive for most people. It’s time we regain our focus.

Do Matchmakers make matches?

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Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make me a Match…Do We Still Need the “Shadchan”?

Most observant Jews use a matchmaker – or a shadchan – to find a spouse. This traditional method of

dating has been the primary way Jews have searched for a marriage partner since the times of the

Torah. But in recent years, many have voiced dissatisfaction with it. I’m often asked if this approach if

Recently someone wrote to me: “For five years I’ve been in touch with numerous shadchanim and I

haven’t received a call from a single one of them. Do you think the shadchan system needs to change?”

Others ask about Shabbat retreats and events held for a mixed crowd of men and women. Perhaps, that

would be a more effective. What can we do to make it easier for singles to get married?

In truth however, the way in which we find a spouse is a total mystery. Sometimes one finds a match

through a matchmaker. Sometimes a match is made through a friend or a relative. At other times it

seems to come about by accident. How it happens and when it happens is something we’ll never

understand. Only G-d knows.

The key thing to remember is that it is G-d who arranges matches.

No one else. This is the mindset you must have when searching for your better half.

All you need to do is put in a little effort. G-d will take care of the rest. You don’t have to figure it all out.

Put your best foot forward and let G-d take it from there.

Because how you find your “bashert” is not up to a shadchan. The matchmaker does not have any

control over when or how you’ll meet your spouse and neither do your friends.

Unfortunately, it’s common for people to blame their prolonged state of singlehood on the

matchmakers. But the matchmakers are not in charge. They do not run the world. Of course, they may

think they run the world, but we know they don’t.

And guess what. Finding your match doesn’t even depend on your behavior. So blaming yourself or

others or your circumstances is not the answer. In fact, it’s completely counterproductive.

You have to believe that every single match is a miracle.

The fact that two halves of one soul manage to find one another in this big, crazy, mixed up world is

nothing short of miraculous. But matchmakers don’t perform miracles. That is not their job. They merely

do what they have to do to help the miracle come about.

Jewish tradition teaches us that the one you are supposed to marry is the one you will marry. No

shadchan – no matter how bad – can stop that from happening.

You are not dependent on a matchmaker. You call them only because you are supposed to make an

effort. You’re just doing what you need to do, but ultimately matches are made in heaven.

Very often, we see matches that seem to make little sense. And that’s because they don’t. Marriage is

not something that “makes sense.”

Matchmakers employ their own logic and reason to figure out whom to set up. But in reality there is no

sense nor discernable rhyme or reason to explain why two people end up together. People marry

exactly who they are supposed to marry simply because that is how it supposed to be. G-d decides who

each of us will marry and He arranges events so that predestined matches take place.

And then even after we get married, we might fail to appreciate that it is G-d who makes matches.

Sometimes we may feel we that have found the perfect match. And at other times we may feel that we

married the wrong one. Perhaps we made a mistake!

This is nonsense. Who we’re supposed to be with is not determined by what we think or how we feel. G-

d knows exactly what He is doing. So let go and trust Him.

A Brief Chanukah Thought

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For eight nights in a row, we light the Chanukah candles. Each of the eight candles we light has a thought behind it. A story to tell. But there is one candle in particular – the ninth candle known as the shamesh – which we use to bring light to the others. The shamesh has no night of its own. An unsung hero, the shamesh lives only to ignite its fellow candles. It has no agenda. It only concerns itself with spreading the holiness so that it can shine brightly and illuminate the darkness. It is the shamesh that should inspire each of us this year to do what we can to light up the world, to serve our fellow Jews, and to help bring Moshiach, may it come speedily and in our days.

Shanah Tovah! Let Us Welcome 5776!

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Over the past few hours, and upcoming days, as we travel down our Jewish paths, we will wave goodbye to 5775 in our rear view mirrors and say hello to 5776 as it stretches out in front of us. Each of us have a different path to follow, and we prepare in different ways, but the one thing we all have in common is our want, and need for Hashem to grant us health, happiness and prosperity in the upcoming year.
This can seem like a daunting desire. Why should Hashem forgive all the times we did not behave the way we should have? Why should G-d grant us yet another chance to be the people we want to be, do the things were meant to do, and expunge the mistakes that we make year after year?  When we think of all the ways we falter throughout the year, the yamin noraim and impending judgement can be scary.
Or we can choose to look at these days in the way that Rabbi Manis Friedman advices. Rabbi Friedman takes a closer look at the hassdic way to view Rosh Hashanah and the following days until Yom Kippur. Lets say for a moment that Hashem wants to forgive us, maybe even more than we need to be forgiven! Throughout the year, G-d decides. G-d provides for us, protects us, judges us, and decides. Rosh Hashanah, the culmination of the year, isn’t a threat. It’s more of a promise. G-d will continue to run the world in the way that he has for 5776 years! Life is not a jungle, it’s not a roll of the dice. G-d decides. it is the most comforting knowledge to bring in to the new year.
So as we bake out round challahs, and cut our apples to dip and honey, and as we head out to shul to daven with our family and neighbors and friends, we can take comfort in the knowledge that G-d wants to provide for his people. He wants to protect us and give us what we need so that we can continue to bring his godliness in to this world with joy and enthusiasm.
Shanah Tovah V’Metukah to all!

Adar – The Month of Joy

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The month of Joy is upon us.
What are you happy about?
What are you celebrating?
The Purim miracle is hidden in a story of nature. Your miracles are hidden in the “natural” ebb and flow of your life.
Are you looking to be truly joyous this month of Adar?
Take a second look at the daily miracles you are experiencing today and every day.
Boruch HaShem!