Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Take a trip to the Har Habit in English

Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

The Scope of Gratitude

In order to improve your sense of gratitude, select one thing that you do frequently - and then think for 10 minutes about its ramifications.

One person who drank one cup of coffee every morning, he chose this cup of coffee as his subject. He felt it would be easier to work on the assignment if he wrote his thoughts on paper. To his surprise, the 10 minutes quickly turned into 35.

He wrote about how the coffee beans grew in Brazil. Someone planted the trees and took care of them until the coffee reached maturity. Then workers picked the beans from the trees. The beans were roasted and ground, and packed for shipping. He described all the work involved in the shipping industry which allowed the coffee to reach the United States. This alone required hundreds of people. Finally, the coffee arrived at the port in Haifa from where it was taken to his grocery story in Jerusalem.

He wrote about the gas range that boiled the water, and the match he used. (And how much easier it is to use a match rather than have to rub two sticks together!) He wrote about how the gas reached his home and what was necessary to build his stove. He wrote about the water kettle that whistled to let him know that the water had boiled. The milk he added required the work of many people from the time it left the cow until it reached his coffee cup.

At the end of 35 minutes, he saw he had not even begun to write about the actual cup, saucer, or teaspoon nor the table he placed it on, or the chair he sat on!!

Through this exercise, he became aware of so many things he'd been taking for granted. This awareness led him to a most intense spiritual experience. His prayers for the next few weeks were permeated with a deep feeling of gratitude to the Almighty.

Would you like to have a similar experience? Try it today: Pick something that you enjoy doing, and write as much as you can about what there is to appreciate.

Love Yehuda Lave

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Elul 5777 "The love initiative" Rabbi Yehoshua Schechter

"Relationship" means: "the way in which two or more people are connected to one another". But what is the essence of a relationship? What makes it work, and what ingredients are necessary?

The answers to this relationship question, can be found in an unlikely place; in the month in which we are in - the month of Elul - the last month of the year. Every month has its own unique energy and power. Elul is the month of love and relationships. The sign of Elul is Virgo, and one of the acronyms of Elul is: Ani l'dodi v'dodi li, "I am to my beloved, and my beloved is to me (Shir Hashirim 6:3). This connotes the spiritual relationship between ourselves and Hashem.

Ani L'dodi V'dodi Li, captures the very essence of a relationship: It is a mutually symbiotic fusion of two forces – I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.

There are two distinct personalities: "I", and "my beloved." The "I" (my personality) takes the initiative and reaches out to "my beloved." In turn, "my beloved" responds "to me."

It alsoemphasizes another vital aspect – that a relationship is a reflection: You and your beloved mirror each other. Like the face is reflected in water, ones' heart (is reflected) in another (Proverbs 27:19).

Love elicited, is in direct proportion to love given. When "I am to my beloved" – "my beloved" will be "to me." The same way that "I am to my beloved," so will "my beloved" be "to me."

Thinking of love as your reflection is quite extraordinary: Look into the eyes of your beloved and you will see yourself.

However, this "love initiative" could not be possible without Hashem making the first move. In 2:16 the verse begins with "Dodi Li V'ani Lo" (my beloved is to me and I am to Him) which is the polar opposite of verse 6:3!

Says the Zohar: Hashem shows us His unconditional love by taking us out of Egypt when we are at the 49th level of uncleanliness; when we as a nation had no accumulated merits. We then enter the Sefira period (the 49 days of purification) through "Chesed Sh'bechesed" - Hashem's absolute kindness; giving us a spiritual boost down the road toward internal purification. Hashem's magnanimity, sets the stage for us to ultimately give back to Him – unconditionally – at the start of the month of Elul, when "the king is in the field".

So Elul's Ani l'dodi v'dodi li teaches us: that love is about initiating – mirroring what Hashem did for us; Ani L'dodi – I am to me beloved - the catalyst for "my beloved is to me." Love is proactive, not reactive or passive. Love is not about standing on the sidelines, "protecting" ones' self from potential hurt - waiting to be loved.

The lesson of Elul is about taking the initiative - initiating intimacy. "Hamelech B'sadeh - the king is in the field - waiting.

See you tomorrow

Love Yehuda Lave
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