Happiness is a skill that can be learned. To acquire this skill, it is necessary to master two basic skills:
1) The ability to focus on happiness-producing thoughts, as opposed to those which cause unhappiness.
2) The ability to evaluate events and situations as positive instead of negative. (Or at least to lower the degree of negativity - i.e. rather than considering some discomfort as a tragedy, evaluating it as minor.)
The broken fork. A moving video piece about what we have lost
Kahane on the Parsha Rabbi Meir Kahane- Parshat VaYigas --a little late but worth reading in our time of terror
G-D'S WILL COMES FIRST
"And Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to meet Israel, his father, in Goshen...and he fell on his neck and wept" (Genesis 46:29). "But Jacob did not fall on Joseph's neck and did not kiss him, for our Rabbis said that he was saying the Shema..." (Rashi).
Happiness is that which every man seeks. Indeed, in our times, it is happiness and the search for it- in material and physical terms- that have become the very purpose of life. Books are written about happiness and peace of mind and the masses devour them, searching for the Holy Grail in the shallowness that is fit only for McCall's or Cosmopolitan. The psychiatrists' couches groan beneath their weight; the airlines and drug peddlers both sell their trips; the race is on and non-stop, and not to the swift or the slow is the trophy awarded. The sadness is that happiness is not the essence of life, and how much did the Rabbis know when they said: It would have been better and more pleasant for man had he not been born, but since he was, let him search his deeds. Life is a series of difficulties and sadnesses, broken by occasional rays of light that pass.
Happiness is a wonderful thing, and what a life it would be if we could abolish tears and fears, worries and tribulations. But not for this was a man made, and if he persists in making it his raison d'etre, he is guaranteed misery. Man is not an island unto himself nor is his entry into this world like some sudden underwater eruption that thrusts a piece of land into the wide ocean. His is a deliberate and planned and reasoned birth. He came into this world to do good. And that which is "good" is defined for him, not subject to the independent and anarchistic commentaries of his own mind or breed. For the Jew there is the Halacha that shapes, molds, guides, and drives him to sanctity and spiritual holiness. It is for him a guideline and a compass; it gives him ritual and gives him concepts, and DEFINES HIS EMOTIONS, TOO.
Joseph was a boy of 17 when he left his father's home. For years Jacob thought he was dead, devoured by a wild beast. For years he mourned and refused to be comforted. "Nay, for I will go down to the grave mourning for my son" (Genesis 37:35). And suddenly he hears the incredible words: "Joseph is yet alive" and- wonder of wonders- "he is ruler over all the Land of Egypt!" (ibid. 45:26). Jacob cannot believe it; the joy is too much and he finally cries out: "It is enough! My son Joseph still lives! I will go and see him before I die!" (ibid. 45:28). And he does. He takes his family and goes down to Egypt. See the old man, the man grown aged and white from a life of sadness and tragedy. How he counts every moment; how he impatiently looks towards the south to see the first glimpse of the royal caravan! How he savors the moment when he can hold his son Joseph in his arms and kiss him! And then- at last- finally- the moment arrives, and Joseph rushes to his father's arms and embraces him and kisses him. and Jacob?
"But Jacob did not fall on Joseph's neck and did not kiss him for he was saying the Shema..." What greatness lies in a man who can take his deepest-felt emotions and discipline them to the Halacha and say: Wait! Wait, though I burst from impatience; wait, though my every limb cries out for release. Wait: I am in the midst of accepting upon myself the yoke of heaven, of recognizing the L-rd as one, and this is why I was created. Wait, my Joseph, wait, for though I love you more than all, this is my G-d.
Let us understand what happiness and rejoicing in the Law means to a Jew. To begin with, it is a COMMANDMENT. Can one command an emotion? Can one "say", be happy, rejoice, it is commanded? Apparently yes. Apparently, the purpose of Torah is to elevate man to holiness and sanctification that he can make his very emotions and feelings cry out: "Who is like You, my G-d!" Yes, the Torah can tell a Jew who has lost a beloved one not to mourn on the Sabbath, though his heart is breaking. It can tell a Jew to stand over the open grave of a parent or a son and say the words of the Kaddish: "May His great Name be exalted and magnified..." Yes, the Torah can tell a person who seeks joy: No, not now. There is no commandment to be sad. There is no law that declares that man must be miserable. This is not Judaism. But we are told that there is something greater than happiness and joy. It is the climb and the reaching up to holiness and sanctification, to beauty and dedication, the smashing of the ego and the greed and the selfishness and the "I." One should strive to be happy, of course. And if one can be both good and happy- how fortunate he is. But in the end, life is not a vessel for joy. It is a corridor in which one prepares his soul. Be happy with the Torah though your own soul is in agony. It is a command and, slowly, it proves to be a balm for the wounds that ache. The Jewish Press, 1977 Shabbat Shalom!
The best boss Hotel owner leaves over $2 million to his employees Veteran staff at King Solomon Hotels in Jerusalem and Tiberias each receive $1,000 for every year they've worked there
Employees of the King Solomon Hotels in Jerusalem and Tiberias found out this week they had a very generous employer, who left them a shared inheritance of over two million dollars.
Owner Gilbert Luzon, who died earlier this year, detailed in his will which employees would enjoy the money, and the sums grow the more time an employee has worked in the hotels.
All employees with more than five years' experience were eligible to receive part of Luzon's inheritance, and they get $1,000 per year of employment. Thus employees with the very minimum requirement get $5,000 (nearly NIS 20,000), and there were plenty who get a great deal more.
Some of the lucky employees were interviewed by Channel 2 on Thursday, with their voices altered to hide their identity.
"More than 2 million dollars, that's what he spent," marveled one female employee of the Jerusalem hotel. "There's people there washing the dishes, they've been there for 20 years, and you know, they get 20,000 dollars, just like that."
"They all got excited, it's like winning the lottery," she said.
Another employee was interviewed wearing a blue sanitary worker's shirt, sweeping the parking lot. Speaking with his head outside the camera's view, the man said there "are many veteran employees here, 17, 20, 29, 23 [years]…" and they all got cheques with sums corresponding to their number of years at the hotel – times $1,000.
The managers of the hotels were concerned about news of the inheritance causing trouble: "Do you know what something like that does in other hotels? This can make the entire staff in the hotel get on their feet, they will all be excited, they will all want some," a senior manager – also with altered voice – told the station.
The Luzon family had not publicized the gifts. Luzon's son told the TV station the will was "a private matter between us and our employees; it is nobody else's business."
Asked by Channel 2 whether he had received his cheque, one man replied affirmatively. "What can I say? It is a blessing."
Who Are You Talking To?
Who Are You Talking To? By Rabbi Joshua Hoffman
Yehudah, in a last ditch attempt to prevent Yosef from taking Binyamin as a slave, approaches him and pleads that his father would not be able to survive that circumstance. Yosef can no longer conceal his identity, and tells the brothers, "I am Yosef – is my father still alive?" This question is problematic, because Yehuda's entire argument revolved around his father. Why would Yosef ask if he was alive? Abarbanel, on a pshat level, says that Yosef, when he revealed his identity to his brothers, wanted to divert the focus from the saga of their selling him, hoping to affect reconciliation. The Beis HaLeivi, on another level, based on a midrash that takes Yosef's words as a rebuke to his brothers, says that Yosef was saying to them: is my father indeed still alive after all the suffering you made him go through? You are pleading for him now, but did you care about him in the past, when you sold me? Actually, Yehuda's repeated mention of his father in his petition to Yosef needs to be understood, for there is really no new information in what he said that Yosef hadn't been told before. How did Yehudah expect to move him? Rav Yissochor Frand, in a taped shiur, cites a comment of the Rokeach which can help explain the petition. The Rokeach says that we take three steps forward before shemone esreh, as we approach God in prayers, corresponding to three times in Scripture that "vayigash" – and he approached – is mentioned in approaching God. The first time is in regard to Avraham petitioning for the people of Sodom, and the third time is in regard to Eliyahu approaching God while battling idolators on Mt. Carmel. The second time is the use of "vayigash" in our parsha, where the Torah says "And Yehudah approached him." What does this verse have to do with approaching God? Wasn't Yehudah approaching Yosef? Apparently, the Rokeach understands that Yehudah, while ostensibly addressing Yosef, was in actuality petitioning God, pleading for Binyamin and his father, after all else failed. The fact that one of the steps we take before shemone esreh corresponds to Yehuda's approach before his petition indicates that we all are capable of such moments in our lives, when although speaking to a person, we are really speaking to God.