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Ki Tavo 5776

Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  Do you know the two benefits for speaking to yourself? First, you get to speak to an intelligent person. Second, you get to listen to an intelligent person! With Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur almost upon us, it is important for us to find our inner voice that is holding us back and change it to empower us to correct our ways, to grow and to come closer to the Almighty.

We speak to ourselves all the time, just some of us are unaware of it. We have a background tape or repeating audio file going on in our subconscious which keeps repeating over and over how we view ourselves and the limitations we put on ourselves, like: "My father doesn't approve of me; I can never meet his expectations." We limit ourselves and often make ourselves anxious, stressful, fearful through what we tell ourselves. We are what we think about!

But what if we could change the tape or repeating audio file? What if we could switch the message for something far more empowering, energizing, uplifting? What if we could transform the message from "I can't change" to "I can"?

Thanks to master motivator, personal coach and prolific author, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, we now have Conversations With Yourself -- A practical guide to greater happiness, self-development and self-empowerment (available at your local Jewish bookstore, at or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242).

Writes Rabbi Pliskin, "What are some of the things you can do to upgrade your self-talk? Start by appreciating the positive self-talk that you've already engaged in throughout your life. Your best moments are your best teachers.

"There are many ways to enhance your self-talk. The articles and books you read can help upgrade your self-conversations -- so can the classes and recordings you listen to, and the positive people with whom you talk. Repeat to yourself with enthusiasm, 'I am totally committed and resolved to upgrade the level of my self-talk.' Repeat it as often as necessary to ensure that your self-conversations are making a positive difference in your life."

"What you do want to be like? Write the traits that you wish to master on a card that you carry with you. Focusing on the following four traits will have a tremendous effect on your entire life: Happiness (including gratitude), kindness, courage and serenity. From time to time throughout the day, take out your card and read it -- with optimism and enthusiasm. As you think about these specific desired traits, you will find yourself thinking, speaking, and acting in ways that are consistent with these ways of being. Personal growth is a lifetime process.

"Talk to yourself about what you do want, not what you don't want. If someone who smokes cigarettes says to himself, 'I don't want to smoke cigarettes,' what image will he be creating in his mind? Smoking cigarettes, of course. And if someone says to himself, 'I don't want to procrastinate,' what image will he be creating in his mind? Procrastinating, of course.

"When you talk about the patterns that you do want for yourself, the pictures you imagine are the pictures of you being the way you wish to be. When you do this, you influence and condition your mind in a positive way. Consistently repeating mental pictures of your goal will spontaneously lead to positive actions and behaviors that will help you reach it.

"Those who frequently and repeatedly make mental pictures of what they want to be like find that their behavior actually begins to align with their mental pictures. Think of a pattern of behavior that you would truly like to make habitual for yourself. See yourself speaking and acting in ways that are consistent with this pattern. Talk to yourself about this pattern of behavior. Repeat these pictures many times every day. Keep this up for a long enough period of time, and you will inevitably see positive results!"

Conversations with Yourself draws on the wisdom of the Jewish sages, on personal humor and on experiences common to all. It is worth the investment in this book to transform habitual negative self-talk into a positive inner dialogue!


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Torah Portion of the week

Ki Tavo, Deuteronomy 26:1 -- 29:8

This week's portion includes: Bringing to the Temple as an offering the first fruits of the Seven Species special to the Land of Israel, Declaration of tithes, the Almighty designating the Jewish people as His treasured people (Deut. 26:16 -19), the command to set up in the Jordan River and then on Mount Ebal large stones which had the Torah written upon them in 70 languages, the command to have a public ratification of the acceptance of the Law from Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal; the Torah then sets forth the blessings for following the Law and the curses for not following it, and concludes with Moshe's final discourse. Verse 28:46 tells us the importance of serving the Almighty with "joy and a good heart." The last verse of the portion instructs us "You shall fulfill the words of this covenant and do them so that you will succeed in all that you do!"

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

In relating the consequences for not following the Almighty's commandments, the Torah states:

"Your life shall hang in doubt before you, and you shall fear night and day, and you will not be sure of your livelihood" (Deut. 28:66).

What is the meaning of this verse?

The Talmud (Menachos 103b) explains that the verse refers to the pain and suffering of worrying about the future. "Your life shall hang in doubt before you" refers to someone who does not own land and buys a year's supply of grain each year. Though he has grain for this year, he worries about next year. The second level, "You shall fear night and day" refers to someone who buys grain once a week. He is in a worse situation; he has to find new grain every week. The most severe level, "you will not be sure of your livelihood" refers to someone who has to buy bread every day. He constantly has what to worry about.

Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz, the former head of the famed Mir Yeshiva, frequently cited this statement of the Sages and pointed out that a person creates his own mental torture by his own thoughts. If you have enough food for today and you appreciate what you have, you are a fortunate person. You will live a happy life. If you keep worrying about the future, you will never have peace of mind. Even if you have enough to eat for the entire year, you can easily destroy the quality of your life by keeping your mind focused on all that can go wrong next year. Regardless of what will be next year, you are causing yourself suffering right now.

Learn to have mental self-discipline. Don't dwell on what you are missing unless it can lead to constructive planning. Why cause yourself unnecessary pain and anguish when you can choose to keep your thoughts on what you do have in the present? If you are a worrier, the best thing you can do for yourself is to train yourself to be the master of your thoughts. Even if you never gain complete control, whatever control you do have is a blessing!


Candle Lighting Times

September 23
(or go to

Jerusalem 5:58
Guatemala 5:39 - Hong Kong 6:01 - Honolulu 6:08
J'Burg 5:47 - London 6:38 - Los Angeles 6:29
Melbourne 6:00 - Mexico City 7:13 - Miami 6:57
New York 6:32 - Singapore 6:42 - Toronto 6:54

Quote of the Week

There are two ways to fail --
To do without thinking ...
and to think without doing



With Special Thanks to
Verna Nauta
With Deep Appreciation to
Steven & Nancy Mendelow


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