Sunday, February 5, 2012

Fear of heaven and China City in the mountains

China City built in the mountains

Did you ever hear the old joke, "Do you know the difference between a Jewish pessimist and a Jewish optimist?  The Jewish pessimist says, 'It can't get worse!'  The Jewish optimist says, 'It can!' "  Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you view it.  Our attitude is really the only thing that we can have hope to control in our life.

Our attitude affects not only our own happiness, but if affects others.  We often look at people who have a happy, positive attitude as pie-eyed optimists who aren't living in reality.  We often find them irritating and exasperating.  But ... who is better off in the end -- the one who looks at things positively and has energy to persist and accomplish or the one is the "realist" looking at life with a negative attitude that it probably will get worse?  Here's an apocryphal story that hopefully you'll find not only amusing, but will have an impact on how you choose to look at life.

A king in Africa was out hunting.  His companion and gun bearer was a person whose attitude towards life is "It couldn't be better.  This is for the good."  The gun bearer erred in loading the king's rifle causing a misfire which blew off the king's thumb.  When the gun bearer exclaimed, "This is for the good," the king replied, "No, it's not!" and had the gun bearer put in jail.

Close to a year later the king was once again hunting; this time he was captured by cannibals.  They were ready to prepare the king for dinner when they noticed the missing thumb; being superstitious, the cannibals would not eat someone who was less than whole, so they let the king go!

Immediately, the king went to the jail to free his gun bearer.  "You were right," said the king, "this was for the good!  I am so terribly sorry that I sent you to jail."  "No," replied the gun bearer, "being in jail was for the good, too."

"What do you mean?  Look how you have suffered," said the king.  "Yes," responded the gun bearer, "but if I wasn't in jail ... I would have been with you!"

It is so very important to train oneself to look positively upon life's situations.  From a Bible point of view, all that happens in life is ultimately for the good.  The Almighty loves us and wants only the best for us.  He gives us opportunities for spiritual and character growth every day.

So many times what appears as "bad" or "negative" ends up being a blessing.  In the meanwhile, we have invested so much time and energy into worrying or regretting -- all for nothing and all to our detriment.  It is wise to remember that worry is defined as interest paid in advance on a debt which often times never comes due.


The Shabbat preceding the new Jewish month, we recite a special prayer, Birchat HaChodesh, Blessing of the New Month.  The beauty and the comprehensiveness of this prayer makes it special.  Perhaps it is a prayer that articulates your needs and that you may wish to recite from time to time:


        "May it be Your will, Lord our God and God of our forefathers, to make this new month one for goodness and for blessing.  Give us long life, a peaceful life, a good life, a life of blessing, a life of sustenance, a healthy life, a life in which there is fear of Heaven and fear of sin; a life in which there is no embarrassment or humiliation, a life of wealth and honor; a life in which there is love of Torah and fear of Heaven, a life in which the requests of our hearts will be fulfilled for the good."

By the way, if you are wondering why "fear of Heaven" is mentioned twice: once one has a life of wealth and honor, it is harder to keep one's fear of Heaven.  Therefore, the prayer includes a second request for "fear of Heaven" ... after one has wealth and honor.  Prayer is talking with God and an excellent way of helping to see the positive in life!

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