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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Tetzaveh

Parshat Tetzaveh

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Terumah                                                                 Print Version
11th of Adar I, 5782 | February 12, 2022

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Shlomo Farhi
Trust the Instrument

A dear friend of mine once gave me a mashal of a pilot flying a plane when suddenly, due to the G forces, they experience vertigo and can't tell the difference between up and down. The pilot doesn’t know which way he’s flying, and he’s pulling up into the sky, thinking he’s elevating the plane, when actually he’s driving the plane into the ground, If he doesn’t correct his direction, you know what will happen. So what do air force instructors tell the pilot? Don't trust your feelings. At that moment, don't listen to what you are feeling. Rather, look at the instruments. Trust them. See what the instruments are telling you.

In fact, in planes, they have not only one gyroscope telling you which way is up, but two. Part of the reason is because the pilot looks at his gyroscope and thinks, “Right now I think this is up, but the gyroscope is also saying I’m heading up. It's for sure broken.” Planes therefore have a second gyroscope, because even if the first one would be broken, you can look at the second. And if they're both telling you this way is up, it must be something. If that’s the case, you know you can trust the instruments.

In life, we will have many feelings, but those feelings are not fact necessarily. We need to trust the instruments. And that instrument is the Torah. It’s guides us to a healthy destination. Even if we’re heading downwards and going down a road and course that is not to our benefit, if we can take our cue from our instrument, we’ll be guided to the right place.

And sometimes, it can save your life. Trust the instrument. Trust the Torah. And live a life that leads you to a great destination.

Rabbi Fischel Schachter
Hashem Listens

Rav Yaakov Naimon, before he became the highly influential Rosh Yeshiva of Ohr Yisroel, arrived in Petach Tikva as an orphan. He struggled at first as a young boy, both with his learning and making friends. But the worst of it all, he attested, was the day when all the boys would receive mail from their family and friends. He remembers that vividly. Kids would line up to receive their packages, but Rav Naimon had no one who’d be sending him anything. He knew that full well. While the other boys would walk out, their faces beaming with smiles, Rav Naimon would have nothing.

One day, it got to him so much that he rushed to his room, as the boys gathered around to retrieve their packages, and started crying. Tearing and whispering words to Hashem, he conveyed the message: “Hashem, You are the Father of all orphans. Send me a package. You know my pain and You know what I need. Please send me a package that will help me and guide me in the right way.” With that, he uncovered himself from the blanket that had absorbed his tears, and headed back out.

Minutes later, one of the most respected students in the yeshiva approached him and asked, “I’m looking for a chavrusa (study partner) in the evening for an hour. Would you like to learn with me?” Now Rav Naimon began to beam. Of course he would.
With this, life started gradually improving. And he went on to become one of the most respected Roshei Yeshiva in the Jewish world.

There’s no question in Rav Naimon’s mind that Hashem sent him a package. Sometimes we feel utterly lost in life; in front and in back we are barricaded by barriers. It leaves us with nowhere to go. But we do have one thing: the knowledge that Hashem knows. Hashem knows what’s before us and in back of us. He knows what has happened to us and where we need to go. And truthfully, even better than we know ourselves.
We just need to turn to Him. He always listens.

Mr. Charlie Harary
Say No

When we when we have no quality control of our time investment, we get stuck in the world of good. It's almost impossible to get to the world of great because greatness takes time. It takes expertise. It takes no. My rabbi, Rabbi Levy, would tell me all the time, “Be stingy with your time.” Do not say yes to everybody.

Why do we say yes to everyone? We’re all social beings, and part of our brain, in order for us to survive, puts social acceptance at the top of that list. Being accepted socially is, so to speak, critical for our survival.

Malcolm Gladwell looked into the cities which had its constituents experiencing the lowest heart disease, lowest death rates and highest quality of life. When he looked into the factors at play, the city didn't have any higher socioeconomic status than others. In fact, it was comprised of a lower middle class. As he went further, he came upon the one critical factor – the city was a deeply connected community. And community is what changes things.

You live within the walls of a community. Community, though, can have a massive influence over us. It forms part of your identity, and there's a lot of good there, but the challenge in a community is seeing yourself in the context of how people see you. It’s hard because the mind is built to survive. But greatness is an option. It's a choice you have to make.

Survival is social acceptance. This is why public speaking is so scary and why people will act one way in their home and one way outside. People will say different things and do different things, and make enormous physical sacrifices for public acceptance. They'll put their kids in schools that are not good for them. They'll work harder than they need. They'll do things because the acceptance of the community is so critical. Or society so critical. That's the survival technique. To find your identity is survival.

When you're in that zone and you're in the world of social acceptance, what happens is that it’s socially inappropriate to say no. Someone asks you for something and you're supposed to say yes. People ask you for things, and you comply. You want to go here? Yeah. Look at this … no problem. It becomes a value unto itself to say yes. Very valuable.

Now, it’s one thing to say that you're a giver. That's fine. But even then, you want to have your priorities in giving. In halacha, charity begins with the poor of your city, which means that there are priorities, and you don't just give money away indiscriminately. You're giving away money, but who you give it to is a matter of priority. Even with giving your time and your effort, there's still some measure of priorities. We think: what's the implication of giving to one or the other? What happens to me if I give here or go there? This is the kind of analysis which takes place when you believe that the most valuable resource you have in your life is your time. When time has real value to you, you think this way. If it doesn't have value, you don’t.

But really, what's underneath this is the driver called social acceptance. Social acceptance comes down to approval; you want to be liked by other people. And in order to be liked, you have to always be saying yes. And that's a dangerous thing.

Making decisions, we all do it. If you think you don't make decisions, then you're just not aware of yourself or you live alone on some mountaintop somewhere. If you live in a society, you do. We act in ways that get other people to like us, to be happy with us, to value us. That will change what we do. That will change what we prioritize. We put our life in the context of other people.

This is a major point when it comes to people who achieve success. Let’s say somebody is climbing the corporate ladder. When they're beginning, they make a certain amount of money and they have certain amount of status. But as they grow in their careers, their circle changes. If you’re an associate, for example, and you become a vice president, you’re just introduced to new vice presidents. So the goalposts change, and success now is not about whether or not you achieve your old goal, but a new one. Success is much bigger now because you're in a different group. Now the stuff that you get feels different because everyone else has it. And then you climb and you become a senior vice president. Now you have new friends or new colleagues. And for the first few weeks, it feels great. And then that starts to change yet again.

Wherever you go in life, there's always somebody to impress. There's always some society you're a part of and you want people to like you. The problem is that the goalposts continue to grow and it will never end. Someone will always be more than you. This happens in communities all the time. You live in this place with these people, then you move up here or there and the cycle starts anew. Just think about your life and your circle. As your circle starts to change, you're the same; it's just that the goalposts keep on moving. You want, though, to take to heart this truth: I'm doing this because I want them to like me. I'm saying yes because I don't want to say no. If you accept this truth, that’s fine. Just realize what you are doing and don’t fool yourself. You’re compromising on your quality of time for someone to like you.

Here's the secret. You got to be mensch. You got to be a nice human being. You can't live in your own little space. But many times in life, what happens is that when you're thoughtful with your time, and you don't say yes to everything, you end up becoming more unique in your life. You may not have as many friends and you may not have as many pats on the back, but you become you. You stand for something. You have extra time to focus, hopefully on yourself and your growth, and not in a selfish way. It’s in a giving way and in a developmental way. People then end up liking you for you being more of you; not for being just like everybody else.

This is hard. And if you think it's only hard for high school kids, the truth is, it doesn't go away. Many adults spend most of their time chasing that feeling of being liked, and in that time investment of being liked, they lose the time to develop their “self,” to grow into something, to deepen their life, their family, their spirituality, their knowledge, their thinking. You want to focus on who you are supposed to be.

What ends up happening is that people who don't do that, and who say yes to everything because they want to be liked, end up always chasing some group. They feel like they're not enough, and they never think that the time is right in front of them.

Chasing the “likes” ends up having you do things that are not you. If I can use a social media example, the people that have enormous amounts of followers, if you will, usually are themselves. I’m not saying that they're right or wrong. The people that are just chasing likes, though, they never really break out of that. They’re just chasing likes and they’re following somebody else. When you stop chasing likes, however, and start focusing on yourself, you deliver a unique product and then you end up getting more likes. It’s counter-intuitive, but true.

That's the challenge. Being able to be stingy with your time so that you focus on the things that matter most. That ends up putting the right people around you and you end up being truer to yourself. You end up being the person you're truly meant to be.

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