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Behar-Bechukotai 5778

Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34 )

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?" She ignored the question and continued ... "and I've written other books, too!"

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 over-indulgences 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.


Torah Portion of the week

Behar-Bechukosai, Leviticus 25:1 -27:34

Behar begins with the laws of Shemitah, the Sabbatical year, where the Jewish people are commanded not to plant their fields or tend to them in the seventh year. Every 50th year is the Yovel, the Jubilee year, where agricultural activity is also proscribed.

These two commandments fall into one of the seven categories of evidence that God gave the Torah. If the idea is to give the land a rest, then do not plant one-seventh of the land each year. To command an agrarian society to completely stop cultivating every 7th year one has to be either God or a meshugenah (crazy).

Also included in this portion: redeeming land which was sold, to strengthen your fellow Jew when his economic means are faltering, not to lend to your fellow Jew with interest, the laws of indentured servants. The portion ends with the admonition to not make idols, to observe the Shabbat and to revere the Sanctuary.

The second portion for this week, Bechukosai, begins with the multitude of blessings you will receive for keeping the commandments of the Torah. (Truly worth reading!) It also contains the Tochachah, words of admonition, "If you will not listen to Me and will not perform all of these commandments..." There are seven series of seven punishments each. Understand that God does not punish for punishment's sake; He wants to get our attention so that we will introspect, recognize our errors and correct our ways. God does not wish to destroy us or annul His covenant with us. He wants us to know that there are consequences for our every action; He also wants to get our attention so that we do not stray so far away that we assimilate and disappear as a nation. I highly recommend reading Lev. 26:14 - 45 and Deut. 28.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"You shall not rule over him (your servant) with rigor, but you shall fear the Almighty" (Leviticus 25:43).

Why does the Torah need to add the proscription "you shall fear the Almighty"?

A master who gives his servant work just to keep him busy is expressing a lack of respect for the dignity of the person who is working for him. People are created in the image of the Almighty and have a spark of divinity in them. As such they must be treated with respect. Since only the master knows what is in his heart, the Torah focuses him to be aware of his motivations by telling him, "And you shall fear the Almighty." The Torah is teaching the master and us to feel an inner respect for others.


Candle Lighting Times

May 11
(or go to

Jerusalem 6:51
Guatemala 6:04 - Hong Kong 6:36 - Honolulu 6:43
J'Burg 5:14 - London 8:22 - Los Angeles 7:27
Melbourne 5:05 - Mexico City 7:45 - Miami 7:39
New York 7:44 - Singapore 6:48 - Toronto 8:13

Quote of the Week

You can live in the comfort zone
... but nothing grows there



In Loving Memory of
our son

Yehuda Leon

28 Iyar
Myrna & Hanoj Perez

In Loving Memory of
my husband

Steve Mendelow

28 Iyar
Nancy Mendelow


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