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Ekev 5774

Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!   A few years ago I was flying back to Miami from NY. I introduced myself to the woman sitting next to me. She introduced herself ... and then launched into a 7 minute history of her life, an oral rendition of her resume, her experiences as a psycho-therapist, the books she's written, the prestigious institutions and organizations for which she has consulted ... and an overview on the State of the World.

I sat there stunned. I had uncorked a verbal Vesuvius ... and the words just kept flowing! "The world is getting crazier and crazier!" "Why?" I asked. "There are more wars." "Why do you think that is?" I enquired. "There's more violence." "What is the cause?" I queried. "There's more insanity." "Why more insanity?" I implored. And she responded, "Did I tell you I wrote a book about this?" And I beseeched, "And in your 300 pages, did you come up with a reason?"

Later she told me that a friend of hers, also a psycho-therapist, had been calling her every hour begging to accompany her on the trip. "She's crazy! All psycho-therapists are crazy!" "Why?" I probed. "Because they go into psychotherapy to understand themselves and find out that they are crazy."

"Perhaps," I observed, "that's why the world is getting crazier and crazier ... our mental health is in the hands of the crazies!"

As she sat there contemplating the profundity of this idea, a brilliant gambit popped into my mind on how to extricate myself from 3 hours of verbal onslaught ... I gave her the copy of Real Power by David Lieberman I was holding (it has the subtitle: Rise Above Your Nature and Never Feel Angry, Anxious or Insecure Again!) "Here, I think you will find this really interesting." And for the next 3 hours I was able to sleep ... except for the 2 times she woke me up pointing to a page to ask me, "Did I tell you I wrote a book on this subject?"

I don't know which part of this fascinating book intrigued her, but the following section was one of many parts that captivated me. So, I share this excerpt with you!

"Within human beings, three inner forces exist and are often at odds with each other: the body, the ego, and the soul. In short, the body wants to do what feels good; the ego wants to do what looks good; and the soul wants to do what is good. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, the three forces all battle it out. If we hit the snooze button, guess who won the first round?

"Doing what is easy or comfortable is a body drive. Examples of overindulgences of this force are overeating or oversleeping - in effect, doing or not doing something we know we should or should not do, merely because of how it feels. Basically, the body just wants to escape from it all.

"An ego drive can run the gamut from making a joke at someone else's expense to buying a flashy car that is beyond our means. When we are motivated by ego, we do things that we believe project the right image of ourselves. These choices are not based on what is good, but on what makes us look good.

"If we cannot control ourselves and we succumb to immediate gratification or strive to keep up an image, then we become angry with ourselves, and feel empty inside. To compensate for these feelings of guilt and inadequacy, the ego engages and we become egocentric. As a result, our perspective narrows, and we see more of the self and less of the world; this makes us increasingly more sensitive and unstable.

"We only gain self-esteem when we are able to make responsible choices, and do what is right, regardless of what we feel like doing or how it appears to others - this is a soul choice. In turn, we rise to a higher and healthier perspective, because self-esteem and the ego are inversely related; like a see-saw, when one goes up the other goes down.

"While our mood will inevitably fluctuate as a result of our circumstances, our emotional well-being remains largely immune from conditions and experiences of all types, positive and negative.

"Research indicates that big lottery winners often lead miserable lives after their windfall. A statistically uneven number of suicides, murders, drunk-driving arrests, divorces, even bankruptcies that befall 'winners' have led to studies of a lottery curse. People find it difficult to comprehend why such misfortune follows those who suddenly become so fortunate. The reason is quite clear. Since self-esteem comes from making good choices. We (with instant money or fame) now have more ammunition for greater unconstructive behavior and indulgences. When we make bad choices it can tremendously lessen our self-esteem.

"Logic therefore dictates that if we are in control of ourselves, and act responsibly, we can never be deeply bothered by anyone or anything. We are not a casualty of anything other than our own behavior, because nothing affects us; we affect everything."

Real Power can help a person with low self-esteem, negative emotions, and unhappy relationships in his life -- and the precise method that dissolves these barriers to happiness. The book can help one break free from anxiety, stress, and worry, and strengthen one's self-image and self-confidence. It is available at your local Jewish bookstore or at


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Torah Portion of the week

Aikev, Deuteronomy 7:12 -11:25

Moshe continues his discourse guaranteeing the Jewish people prosperity and good health if they follow the mitzvot, the commandments. He reminds us to look at our history and to know that we can and should trust in God. However, we should be careful so that we are not distracted by our material success, lest we forget and ignore God.

Moshe warns us against idolatry (the definition of idolatry is the belief that anything other than God has power) and against self-righteousness -- "Do not say because of my virtue that God brought me to possess this land ... but because of the wickedness of these nations that God is driving them out before you." (Deut. 9:5). He then details our rebellions against God during the 40 years in the desert and the giving of the Second Tablets (Moshe broke the first Tablets containing the Ten Commandments during the sin of the Golden Calf.)

This week's portion dispels a common misconception. People think that "Man does not live by bread alone" means that a person needs additional foods beyond bread to survive. The quotation in its entirety is, "Man does not live by bread alone ... but by all that comes out of God's mouth" (Deut. 8:3).

The Torah then answers a question which every human being has asked of himself: What does God want of you? "Only that you remain in awe of God your Lord, so that you will follow all His paths and love Him, serving God your Lord with all your heart and with all your soul. You must keep God's commandments and decrees ... so that all good will be yours" (Deut. 10:12).

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Before entering the land of Israel at the end of 40 years wandering in the desert, Moses speaks to assuage the fear in the heart of the people:

"If you will say in your heart, these nations are more numerous than we, how can we conquer them? Do not fear them, remember what the Almighty, your God, did to Pharaoh and all of Egypt." (Deuteronomy 7:17-18)

How will this lessen their worry?

Worry is being afraid that in a future situation you will not be able to cope. (It is also interest paid in advance on a debt which oftentimes never comes due.) Remembering how the Almighty has helped you in similar situations in the past makes it easier to trust in Him in the present. Thus, Moses had the Jewish people focus on how the Almighty dealt with the Egyptians. Likewise, whenever you find yourself worrying about the future, ask yourself, "When has the Almighty already shown me that He can help me overcome a difficulty similar to this?" It will increase your calm and your trust in God.


Candle Lighting Times

August 15
(or go to

Jerusalem 6:48
Guatemala 6:07 - Hong Kong 6:39 - Honolulu 6:43
J'Burg 5:28 - London 8:05 - Los Angeles 7:22
Melbourne 5:26 - Mexico City 7:46 - Miami 7:38
New York 7:36 - Singapore 6:56 - Toronto 8:03


Quote of the Week

Don't tell God how big your problems are --
tell your problems how big God is



With Special Thanks to

Joel & Debra


With Deep Appreciation to

Michael & Jackie


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