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Does Judaism Have A Future?

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In the past, the future had a very definite cast. Everybody knew that the future was secularism. Religion was no longer relevant. After the Holocaust it was all over – the Jews who came from Europe with all the traditions were going to be the last generation. America was not a place for religion, and every year there would be more secularism and less religion. 

However, the Rebbe said that in freedom we can be better Jews. Freedom allows us to serve God with a whole heart and with no fear with pride. It allows us to share it with others, something we could not do in Europe for at least 2,000 years. The Rebbe says here in America if you teach people they can do everything because of their freedom. There are no restrictions here so Judaism will be better here, stronger, more enthusiastic than it was back in the old country.

The Rebbe was very optimistic about the nature of American youth. The uncomplicated, honest straightforward innocent commitment that an American is capable of would bring fresh enthusiasm to the mitzvahs that we’re supposed to be observing and have been observing for three thousand three hundred years. Now it was going to be with more joy, totally voluntary, out of commitment, out of pleasure. What a beautiful picture compared to what was going on in Europe.

Now the future is young couples raising their children with the awareness that Judaism is alive and well, God is lovable, and God should be served wholeheartedly enthusiastically not only to maintain a sane society but to fulfill the bigger purpose for which we exist. 

 

The message of Judaism has always been that God took us to Mount Sinai and gave us a Torah in which he describes the many many ways in which we can serve Him. He’s telling us what he needs from his creation, his wish list. Since receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, that’s what we’ve been doing but recently we’ve lost our focus. 

A mitzvah is something you don’t need – you’re doing it for someone else and that’s why charity is the ultimate mitzvah. The future is not only more mitzvahs, it’s mitzvahs done right. You don’t have to be observant, you don’t have to keep Shabbos, you don’t have to give charity – you don’t need anything. You’re a guest. But the Creator has a vast eternal plan and He’s depending on you to do it. 

The future is human beings with no needs. It means that we’re going to stop being needy, we’re going to stop being dependent, we’re going to stop being miserable. We won’t have to scheme, we won’t have to compete, we won’t have to be jealous. We will be comfortable in being the creation, not trying to be a creator – and then we will serve the Creator with absolute joy.

We are here because we are needed, not needy.  That is a divine truth. Therefore we can serve God with joy. Not only are we not burdened with needs, we’re actually fulfilling a vast eternal plan for the creator of the world.

If we are all here to serve the vast eternal plan that God envisioned when he created the world then we are indispensable to each other. I can’t fix the world unless you’re doing it with me because you have your piece of the world. God needs you for the same reason he needs me. That’s why we have to have one God – “One God” meaning one plan and one purpose for which we all exist.

We are not here to take care of our own needs. We are here to serve the creator, and every passing day makes that truth more compelling, more convincing, and more obvious. Anything we can do to further this cause and get more people to ask what they are needed for instead of what they need will make the world a better place.

 

This Scares Me

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There is a health hazard out there that isn’t getting enough attention. Loneliness. Or, rather, “aloneness.”

Aloneness is tragic.

The only true remedy for aloneness is marriage.

But today we are seeing something very scary: men and women, who are married, still feel alone in the world.

This is horrific, if marriage doesn’t fix that feeling, nothing can.

This is happening because we are forgetting how to connect with each other. We get too distracted by each other’s attributes, we fall in love with things about each other, but forget the person themselves.

The solution is intimacy. True intimacy means removing all distractions and external characteristics until there is nothing left but the husband and wife, together, and when that happens they can dissolve into each other and become one. And then, neither will ever feel alone, forever.

 

Keep Climbing

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Sometimes things don’t feel right. Anxiety creeps in and we wish for a simpler time, a more balanced time, a more stable time.

In order to go higher up on a ladder, we can’t stay comfortable. We need to lift up one leg, and for a moment, stand on one foot until the other foot settles on the next rung. Standing on one foot is unstable, hard to balance, and is not comfortable, but that’s what we must do if we want to get moving.
When, in life, we feel like we are standing on one foot, our balance is off, things are unstable, and we feel anxious, we need to remember that that is how we move higher. We need to remember not to try to come down the ladder to where we remember we were comfortable, but to keep going up. Keep climbing.

Who Needs Religion?

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A boy from a Chabad school stops a stranger on the streets of Manhattan,

“Excuse me sir, are you Jewish?” the boy asks.

“Yes.”

“Would you like to put on Tefillin?”

“Oh,” says the man “I’m really not religious…”

“It’ll only take a minute” the boy says.

“I understand,” says the man “but I’m not religious!”

“Did you know that putting on Tefillin helps people everywhere?” says the boy

“Okay. But I’m not religious!” the man says.

The boy starts rolling up the man’s sleeve. “Say Baruch, Atah…”

The man starts repeating the blessing. “Baruch, Atah, but I’m not religious!”

This story has happened a thousand times and still does all the time.

Clearly they are not communicating. The source of the misunderstanding is that the man thinks that tefillin is a religious thing, therefore it is for Religious people.

The boy was raised with the rebbe’s teachings, that Tefilin is for the Jew. That “religion” has nothing to do with it.

The Rebbe taught that every Jew is a part of God, who wants to be connected to God.

And the fact that this story keeps happening, and ending with the Jewish man putting on the Tefilin and loving it, proves him right. Who needs religion anyway?

Dating During The Pandemic

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This Corona experience has given us time to rethink our approach to dating as a mindset and lifestyle. Now that we’re a safe distance from how life used to be we can be more honest, realistic, and objective about the entire picture of dating in our lives. 

There should be no difference in the way you conduct your life today because of the isolation or distancing we are facing. If something is real, if something is true, if something is natural then it should apply under all circumstances. The fact that we’re keeping a distance has a sobering effect. 

The first notion we should examine is that somehow dating takes away the feeling of being alone in the world, that somehow that gives you a relationship. We’ve created an alternative to marriage – a semi marriage, a quasi marriage. It turns out that this semi marriage has all the problems of a real marriage and none of its benefits. It produces more anxiety than it resolves and it makes you feel lonelier than if you had nobody. We should be grateful that we cannot date- dating as an artificial lifestyle or alternative to marriage was never a good idea. 

The only thing that a man gains from a woman is the completeness of the merging of male and female which happens only in a marriage. The Torah tells us that when God created the first human being, that being, that one person was male and female and that was the perfect model, the perfect standard. To be only male is not enough, and to be only female is not enough – you need to be both. After we were separated by God himself the only way to become male and female is through a permanent bonding, where they literally become one and their identity has merged. “I” becomes “we” – “us”. Any real intimate bonding experience has to be created in heaven. It can’t happen by human effort because it’s a superhuman achievement.

The bond of marriage is created by a humility and vulnerability that is absolutely essential, natural, and true. Vulnerability doesn’t mean vulnerable to hurt – that’s a weakness. Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. Healthy vulnerability is the realization that I am not enough, that I cannot be satisfied with myself. To be vulnerable means to be lacking intimacy. Intimacy is the bonding that brings two people together so that they become one. The me is not the enemy, it’s the absence of the other. When you don’t have an other, you’re lacking in intimacy and your vulnerability is painful but it’s a strength not a weakness. 

The first vulnerability that every human being should have is with God. The first statement of any religion should be you’re not alone – you have a God, your God, your Creator. When you get married, you reproduce an intimacy with a human being that you already have with God.

 We should always try to act that intimacy out, to find another human being with whom we can be one. God gives you love to be able to love others, not to love yourself. Keep a minimum for yourself and give the rest away. You need to be more than you, not more of you. You don’t need to be more of you, you need to have someone else beside you. God will not deprive you of anything you need. He also won’t give you everything you want. It’s a good deal – make that deal with God. 

Leave the “me” monster out of the conversation – it’s not about me, it’s about where the me can go to become bigger, to become complete, to become more purposeful. That is the meaning of serving God with joy. Look for something beyond yourself and then people will be attracted to you, you will become a true nurturer, you give off life. This separation we are currently facing can be a great blessing for us. Let it be the turning point in your life where you get past yourself into something bigger, better, richer, and more Godly.

Click here from some more dating tips from Rabbi Friedman:  https://ap109.infusionsoft.com/app/page/free-dating-tips

All Lives Matter?

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One of the greatest gifts Judaism has given the world, is the conviction of the sanctity of human life. Before Judaism our ancestors did not treat life with the reverence we do. Many of them sacrificed human beings, even their own family members, to their deities.

 

Idolatry and Polytheism began with an ideology that is completely understandable. They didn’t actually believe that the sun and the moon were gods, feeling the desire to worship them. They believed that there was one great infinite god who created everything. But they came to the conclusion that the infinite god of the universe is too big and great to concern himself with the tiny mundane details of our world. After all, why would God, in his infinite unfathomable greatness care when the rain falls in a particular area, or whether a crop in the ground will grow? And so, they reasoned that god must have given control of matters insignificant to him, to various mini-gods who will control them.

 

This makes perfect sense. But god confided in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He told them how he feels. He told them he is totally invested in this world, that matters of the world are far from insignificant to him. He cares about them with infinite intensity. He created this earth because he needs it, therefore he cares more about this place than we possibly can. No part of this world is too small for him.

 

God cares about every little plant and animal, but human beings are even more precious to him. God cares deeply about animals, but even the greatest animal is only his creation. We the human beings on the other hand are something more. We are his partners. We are his. We help him make his world into how he needs it. God cares more about people than people ever can.

 

That is why every single life matters.
And that is why when a black man is murdered, we not only owe his community an apology, we owe god an apology.

 

And when we on earth value people like god values people, the needless killings will end, and we will be able to say that we’ve brought heaven down to earth.

 

Equality and Morality: What’s The Difference?

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In the West, including in the United States and Israel, the idea that all people are equal has replaced morality. Equality has become a substitute for morality. If I really believed that somebody was inferior I would abuse them; if I think I’m stronger I’m gonna beat you up. If I think I’m smarter, I’m gonna play games with you. If I think I’m richer then I take all the privileges. I think I’m better, I’m going to be immoral so I better not think I’m better. We must all be equal because if not, why wouldn’t superior people use their advantages to abuse and oppress the inferior? We all must love each other, because if not, why wouldn’t we hurt the people we hate?

Morality, straight from the Torah, says that the rich may not take advantage of the poor, the strong may not beat up the weak – that’s morality. Morality means you have an advantage – don’t use it against others. But to think nobody has an advantage, that we’re all the same and equal, isn’t true and isn’t better than morality.

What’s wrong with knowing that you can hurt somebody but you’re not allowed to?

That’s the difference between socialism and democracy. Socialism says we all have to be equal because if we’re not equal there’s gonna be misbehavior; give everybody exactly the same and nobody will steal because there’ll be nothing to steal. That’s not morality, that’s just moral laziness.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion no matter how hateful and odious, but just because you hate me doesn’t mean you are entitled to hurt me. Morality means: Thou shalt not kill the people you hate.

Grab The Opportunity To Upgrade Your Family Life Now!

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In today’s world, we have a lifestyle in which we like to upgrade our physical possessions and conditions. We want a new car every couple of years, we want to remodel the house once in a while, we want to get a new wardrobe not because there’s anything wrong with the old one but because you can improve.

Shouldn’t our behavior at home be upgraded from time to time, too? Why shouldn’t our behavior become more beautiful, more elegant, more glamorous? How did we get so careless and inconsiderate with the people who are most important in our lives?

Now is the perfect opportunity. We are home and there is nowhere to go!

There is a famous saying that “familiarity breeds contempt”. While contempt is a harsh word, familiarity can breed ugliness – yet how can couples or families not be familiar? There is familiarity that brings us together and familiarity that destroys positive feelings, if we let it. It all ties back to how we spoke to our parents growing up. Training ourselves to distinguish how we speak to our parents directly translates to how we later speak to our spouse. Sometimes instead of looking for an answer to the big problem, if we simply make the right adjustments it’s all it resolves itself. Because of this, the first place to upgrade our lives is our tone of voice. If the tone becomes more elegant, more dignified, more respectful, it can only help our relationships across the board. Something as small as shifting that can have an amazingly positive effect.

The next place to upgrade is the boundaries of our relationships. If you can sit in your father’s chair the borders of our family have been violated. You shouldn’t roll your eyes at your parents. You shouldn’t talk to your parents or your spouse the same way you talk to others. By making this distinction in how we speak and act, children will again feel like they are the children in the family and the parents will feel like they are the parents in the family. Every relationship is a delicate relationship and has certain conditions under which it thrives. If you don’t provide your relationships with those conditions, all of the advice in the world about how to heal them won’t help.

The final thing to do to upgrade your life is to wait until the next day when you want to criticize your child or spouse. When you prepare, when you think in advance, when you want to tell something to your child or to your spouse but you wait for the right minute, for the right setting, for the right mood and then you say it  – it’s always a home run. When we wait to share our feelings with our loved ones, there is more goodness in it. It shows that we took the care and consideration necessary to take our feedback for others seriously. By waiting, what you say will be a compliment instead of a criticism. 

We have become accustomed to upgrading our physical surroundings, but the time has come to upgrade our family life with as much care and consideration. 

Would you enjoy private, interactive Torah Classes with Rabbi Manis Friedman where you can get your questions answered? Join his  VIP Community today. Click here to learn more.

Why God Put Us In Lock-Down

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It was only a few months ago when the idea of social distancing frightened us, and we were certain that it would be a disaster. We now know it wasn’t at all like what we expected – in fact, it
turned out to be quite nice. Children like being home with each other and with their parents. Parents enjoyed having their kids home, having a life together. Couples who were on the
verge of divorce suddenly saw each other differently and were grateful to have each other. If anything, it has been a shock to discover how unnatural our lives had become without even realizing it.

Going forward when quarantine is over completely, do we want to go back to that life? I don’t think so. Even if we wanted to, we shouldn’t – we should not go back to a state of mind we’re getting away from the children is absolutely necessary, where we avoid too much time with your spouse because it’s going to be painful. We shouldn’t want to go back to a toxic work environment and we don’t want to send our children back to the schools the way the schools were.

Instead, let’s think of a better model – a model where we have been freed by this lockdown. We have been liberated from our old habits and liberated from thinking that there is only one way for life to work. We have learned that we can live without all the things we thought we needed. Not
only can we live, we can actually relax. We can enjoy our families. We can even get to know ourselves better. We’re more alive now we discovered where our lives really happen.

You go to work because you need to take care of your family – that’s perfectly moral, noble, and selfless. So how did it happen that this workplace where decent human beings get together to feed their families and to support life became so toxic? The real reason we need to go to work is not because we need to eat – it’s because God wants us to meet people we wouldn’t otherwise meet. Because of our need to work, we venture outside of our bubbles, meet people from other cultures and parts of the world, and learn to help one another.

It would be a noble environment to go to work every morning with the intention of making the world a more livable place; making life more comfortable, more pleasant, more enjoyable for as many people as you can. Every time you meet someone you’ve never met before, it’s not just a new customer or a new a new avenue of business – it’s a new opportunity to do something really kind.

Similarly, the main job of a teacher and of a school is not to fill a kid’s head with information – that’s too mechanical. The main job of a school is to cultivate and stimulate the child’s enjoyment and pleasure in using their mind. As human beings, our greatest gift is our mind and our greatest pleasure is understanding and knowledge. Schools should support that first and foremost.

There’s a lot we can do to make life livable, and the blueprint for a life that’s livable is the Torah. The reason Jews are still here is because we have a lifestyle that is livable. While external forces were enough to destroy the Jewish people forever, our internal health the healthy lifestyle has kept us alive. The core of that lifestyle is that our relationship with God is personal. Jewish life doesn’t happen in a synagogue; it doesn’t happen in public. Jewish life lives in the Jewish home because God looks at us as individuals not as groups.

Is There A Silver Lining In All This?

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When we look back just two months ago, the reality that we were living with which we considered normal is that you got to get out of the house. we got to get away from the kids. we got to get them out of the house and we got to get away from each other – don’t spend so much time together. And then when we went to work you called it making a living  – we weren’t making a living we were escaping from life. 

Now we have had time to reflect on things and we’ve discovered much to our amazement that you can live without shopping. You can live without entertainment. You can live without travel, you can even live without going to work and without sending kids to school. Because all of that is just commentary. Life is at home. Life is family. Life is your purpose in the world. We found out where life really takes place. We found out that there’s no need to run from your family. We found out that the individual actually counts.

The future’s got to be a lot better than the past  because it has to compensate for all the pain. This can’t be for nothing. We have discovered life is not here for us – for us to satisfy our needs. Satisfying your need is not the goal and if you don’t satisfy all your needs you have not failed because that is not our purpose. Our purpose is to serve the creator who created a very low world that needs a lot of attention and a lot of fixing. That’s what we’ve been doing and that’s what we will continue to do until the world becomes holier than heaven, from the lowest from the worst to the best. Because when you turn darkness into light, when you turn the bitter into sweet, then the sweet is intensely sweet and the light is pure light. The moral antidote to fighting off a virus is to not let them interfere with your life. The only response is more enthusiasm for life. A person who is completely alive in every part of his body is immune to the virus..

To survive hardships like this one, you have to live your life as if nothing wrong has ever happened. This is your purpose, the mission. the reason your soul came down to earth. We now know a micro mitzvah can fix the entire world much more than a micro virus can destroy the world. Our micro mitzvahs are going to overcome the micro viruses, and we’re going to come out healthier, stronger, wiser and certainly more mature because of this. The world is going to be a much better world – and that’s not a silver lining, that’s pure gold