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Ki Tisa 5778

Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  Purim starts Wednesday, February 28th. It is known as zeman simchateinu -- the time or season of our joy. It is the time when the cosmos align and we have an auspicious opportunity to change ourselves to be happier! There is no better time to share with you --The Secret of Happiness!

However, before I share with you The Secret of Happiness, there are two caveats:

1. It is possible to know how to be happy, to be convinced that these tools will work, and not do a thing about it. This is because learning any new skill requires effort and some discomfort. There's no magic potion. So, don't mistakenly assume that just because you can't put something into action, this means that you don't believe it. You can think it'll work ... and still be lazy.

2. People often think that the secret of happiness must be some hidden Kabbalistic mystery or exotic activity. The truth is that it's simple and easy to understand. It's something every person knows, but just doesn't focus that he knows it.

Happiness is the pleasure you have in appreciating what you have; it is looking at the glass as half full. It says in Pirke Avot 4:1 ("Ethics of Our Fathers" -- found in the back of most Jewish prayerbooks), "Who is the rich man? He who is happy with his portion". There used to be a common motivational sign during the Depression hanging in businesses in the United States: "I was sad that I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet."

Happiness is not dependent upon material acquisition. There are plenty of people who have what you desire and they are not happy.

Many people think that Happiness is a happening: "If only such and such happened, I would be happy." Happiness is not a happening. It is a state of mind, a state of being. The Sages say, "He who has one hundred wants two hundred... No one dies with even half of his desires fulfilled" (Kohelet Rabbah 1:34). One has to work on his focus in order to be happy.

According to the Torah, Happiness is an obligation. It is an obligation to those around you. Just like you wouldn't want an unhappy parent, child or spouse, don't be one yourself. It is also an obligation to the Almighty -- even if one serves the Almighty, but "does not do it with gladness of heart" (Deuteronomy 28:47) he is culpable for not acting with joy.

Happiness takes work. If you want to be happy, then for thirty days play the Happiness Game. Make a list of all your blessings, both physical and spiritual. Then add one a day for thirty days. At the end of thirty days, prioritize them according to their value to you. (Do you value your eyes or your ears more? Your job or your legs?) Whenever something happens or you feel sad, review your list.

If you don't appreciate what you have, there is no purpose to acquiring anything else. You won't enjoy it either.

On a higher spiritual level, if we appreciate that the Almighty loves us, then we can appreciate that all that we have is for our good -- to help us to develop our character, trust in God, and our spiritual qualities. If we have this love of God and this trust in God, it helps us to appreciate what we have.

Why do we need happiness? It gives us energy and power for living. Happy people are healthier, feel better and can accomplish more. Appreciating what you have helps to keep you optimistic towards the future which helps you to succeed!

(For additional practical ideas to help you, I highly recommend Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's Gateway to Happiness. It has helped countless people to change their lives and enjoy life more. If you prefer audio, you can download mp3's from Be sure to listen to "Happiness" by Rabbi Noah Weinberg and "Discovering Happiness" by Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg).


Torah Portion of the week

Ki Tisa, Exodus 30:11 - 34:35

The Torah portion includes: instructions for taking a census (by each person donating a half shekel); instructions to make the Washstand, Anointing Oil, and The Incense for the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary; appointing Betzalel and Oholiab to head up the architects and craftsmen for the Mishkan; a special commandment forbidding the building of the Mishkan on Shabbat (people might have thought that they would be allowed to violate the Shabbat to do a mitzvah ...). "The Children of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath an eternal covenant for their generations."

The Torah portion continues with the infamous story of the Golden Calf. The people wrongly calculated that Moses was late in coming down from Mt. Sinai and the people were already seeking a replacement for him by making the Golden Calf (there is a big lesson in patience for us here). Moses sees them dancing around the calf and expressing anger he breaks the Two Tablets; he then punishes the 3,000 wrongdoers (less than .1% of the 3 million people), pleads to God not to wipe out the people, requests to see the Divine Glory, and receives the second set of Tablets of the Ten Commandments.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"Six days you shall work and on the seventh day, it should be a complete rest sacred to the Almighty" (Exodus 31:15)

What does it mean "a complete rest"?

Rashi, the great commentator, tells us that rest on Shabbat should be a permanent rest and not merely a temporary rest. Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz, the former Rosh Hayeshiva (Dean) of the Mir Yeshiva, clarifies that a temporary rest means that a person has not really changed his inner traits, but he merely controls them on Shabbat. He still has a bad temper and has a tendency to engage in quarrels, but because of the elevation of Shabbat, he has the self-discipline not to manifest these traits. The ultimate in Shabbat observance is that a person should uproot those negative traits which are contradictory to peace of mind on Shabbat. One needs to uproot such traits as anger and the tendency to quarrel with others. Only then is your rest on Shabbat a complete rest.

It is not sufficient for a person just to refrain from the formal categories of creative acts on Shabbat. Shabbat is the gift of peace of mind. This is not considered righteousness, but an essential aspect of Shabbat. Only by being a master over your negative emotions can you have true peace of mind.


Candle Lighting Times

March 2
(or go to

Jerusalem 5:02
Guatemala 5:52 - Hong Kong 6:09 - Honolulu 6:18
J'Burg 6:20 - London 5:24 - Los Angeles 5:33
Melbourne 7:41 - Mexico City 6:24 - Miami 6:05
New York 5:30 - Singapore 7:01 - Toronto 5:50

Quote of the Week

Happiness is not doing what you enjoy,
but enjoying what you do



With Heartfelt Gratitude

Daniel & Lillian Kamis

With Special Thanks

Paul J. Ronan


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