Monday, February 04, 2008
Rabino Kalman Packouz
GOOD MORNING! One time while I lived in Jerusalem, I parked my car in front of Uri's Pizza to pick up two pies for my family. When I came out there was a man leaning against my car -- scowling face, crossed arms, crossed legs. He looks at me with hatred spewing from his eyes and says with an aggressive edge, "So, you're the one!" I asked, "The one what?" He venomously replied, "The one who blocked my car in!"
I looked and sure enough, his car had no room to maneuver out of its parking spot. I put down the pizzas and said to him, "I'm sorry. I didn't realize that I blocked you in. In the future I will make sure to be more careful. Please forgive me for your wasted time and for being the cause of your aggravation."
The man got up from the car and came towards me! ... and then he gave me a big bear hug! He said, "I was born here in Israel. This is my first apology. You can block me in anytime!" True story.
Everyday we run into people who are upset -- and once in a while, that upset person is even us. Every single one of us is righteous in his own mind. We see very clearly from our own point of view why we are right, why the other person is wrong and why the other person deserves our wrath. (Recently, a recipient of the Shabbat Shalom faxed me 23 copies of the fax. I wrote him a nice note asking if there is a problem and how can I help. He faxed me back 23 copies of my note...)
It is hard to be rational and even compassionate when one is emotional. What can one do? One technique is "Go to the balcony." Pretend you're watching a play -- from the balcony. You're not involved; you're just observing. You will be able to see your situation more objectively.
Ask yourself, "If I were the other person, how would I react?" Seeing it from the other point of view helps build rationality and calmness. Talk in a soft voice. A soft voice turns away wrath. Don't say anything which will enflame the person. Don't interrupt the person when he's talking (it shows a lack of respect and is very irritating). Focus on what you can agree with and apologize where you can.
Lastly, know that on some level all human beings are a bit crazy. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing and expecting a different result. People do not want to "lose it" -- to lose control and become angry. Yet, they do it repeatedly. The advantage of knowing that we are all a bit crazy is three-fold: 1) we can have more compassion for others 2) we can have more compassion for ourselves 3) knowing we're a bit crazy, maybe we can do something about it! (If you aren't aware that there is a problem, you can't and won't do anything about it.)
There is one other "technique" I learned in Israel, though I'm not sure it will help elsewhere. When I worked at the Aish World Center in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Jewish Quarter had a parking lot with one combined entrance/exit. This meant that regularly one car would want to enter and another would want to exit at the same time. One day I witnessed a verbal "tennis match" of two drivers arguing who should back up and give way to the other. Neither succeeded in convincing the other. (One bystander suggested that they "duke it out" in the best of American tradition with the loser backing up; they both agreed that the bystander was crazy and went back to yelling at each other.)
Finally, one disputant confidently and defiantly asked, "Yesh lecha te'udat normali?" (Do you have a Certificate of Sanity?) The other fellow was at a lost for words and didn't answer. He got back in his car, backed up and let the other guy enter the parking lot.
The next day I was visiting my wife's step- grandfather in Hadassah Hospital. A man asked me how to get to a certain ward. I told him, "I am sorry. I don't know." Immediately he started to verbally lash into me -- "How come you don't know? You should know! ... " I went to "the balcony" and said to myself, "This is really bizarre." Then I remembered yesterday at the parking lot! I interrupted him and asked in Hebrew, "Excuse me. Do you have a Certificate of Sanity?" He looked at me as if he was completely short circuited, shut his mouth and walked away.
Torah Portion of the Week
This week's Torah reading is an architect's or interior designer's dream portion. It begins with the Almighty commanding Moses to tell the Jewish people to bring an offering of the materials necessary for the construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary.
The Torah continues with the details for constructing the Ark, the Table, the Menorah, the Tabernacle (the central area of worship containing the Ark, the Menorah, the Incense Altar, and the Table), the Beams composing the walls of the Tabernacle, the Cloth partition (separating the Holy of Holies where the Ark rested from the remaining Sanctuary part of the Tabernacle), the Altar and the Enclosure for the Tabernacle (surrounding curtains forming a rectangle within which was a large area approximately 15x larger than the Tabernacle).
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states regarding the walls of the Tabernacle:
"The center crossbar shall go through the middle of the beams, from one end (of the Tabernacle) to the other." (Exodus 26:28)
What lesson for life can we learn from the crossbeam?
Targum Yonoson, an Aramaic translation and commentary of the Torah, informs us that the center crossbar was made with wood that came from the trees that Avraham planted. Rabbi Mordechai Mann of Bnai Brak commented that these trees were planted by Avraham for the purpose of doing kindness for travelers -- to provide them with shade.
The center crossbar was placed right in the middle of the tabernacle to remind us that even when we are devoting ourselves to serving the Almighty, we should never forget to have compassion for our fellow men, who are created in the image of the Almighty.
* * *
ANNUAL SUPERBOWL JOKE
During the game, a man turns to the lady on his left and says, "You and I are sitting next to the only empty seat in the whole stadium and these seats are being scalped at a minimum of $4,000 a pop!" The lady replies, "Yes, it was my late husband's seat." The man offers condolences and says, "But I would have thought that a friend or a relative would have wanted to make use of it." "Yes," says the lady, "I would have thought so, too ... but they all insisted on going to the funeral."
CANDLE LIGHTING - February 8
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:46 - Hong Kong 5:58 - Honolulu 6:07
J'Burg 6:38 – KOAH Porto 4:44 - Los Angeles 5:12
Melbourne 8:09 - Mexico City 6:14 - Miami 5:52
New York 5:04 - Singapore 7:03 - Toronto 5:20
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
We are all crazy... it is only a matter of degree and direction.