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Bo 5763

Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!  What is success in life? Many equate success in life with financial success. However, we all know that there is more to life than having a lot of money. (By the way, in Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, it asks, "Who is the wealthy person?" and answers, "He who is happy with his portion."). Would you be interested if there was a book that could help you find success in life?

There is a fascinating book, Lifelines -- Techniques for Nurturing Personal Growth by Avi Shulman that sets forth a plan for success in life. (It is available from better Jewish bookstores everywhere ... or by calling toll free to: 877-758-3242). The following ideas are drawn from Chapter 6, "Defining Success":

First, we need to identify what success means to us, then identify the major areas of our life and finally create a plan to progress in these areas.

Success is defined as 'the progressive realization of a personal predetermined worthwhile goal." Life is a journey, not a destination. If one can treasure each moment, he has a lifetime of joy and accomplishment towards his goal. People identify five major areas in their life: (1) Physical Well Being, (2) Family, (3) Spiritual/Mental 4) Personal Finances 5) Vocational.

Each area should have a goal and a plan to reach it. Without a goal, one doesn't know where to go. Without a plan one doesn't know how to go. (It is amazing the amount of effort a human being will put in to avoid thinking, setting goals and planning).

Life is like a wheel and each major area is like a spoke. There needs to be balance in the wheel. It is true and proverbial that "one never wishes on his death bed that he spent more time at the office." On the other hand, a person may realize that his greatest joy is his family and not know how to enjoy time with his kids. It takes wisdom to balance the time and wisdom to enjoy each major area.

I know a fundraiser for a major Jewish organization. People often ask him, "Were you successful today?" He invariably answers, "I am always successful ... and sometimes I also raise money." Success is a matter of attitude and appreciation for what you have and for your efforts. Every day you look at the grass from the top down, you are a success! Ultimately, however, whether one succeeds is out of his hands. There is a Yiddish saying that "man plans and God laughs." We make our efforts and the Almighty gives gifts. If we appreciate that our accomplishments are gifts, then it instills within us a sense of humility and gratitude to the Almighty. It gives us perspective.

There are three rules for success:

  1. Initiative - you have to try.
  2. Perseverance - you have to keep trying.
  3. The Almighty blesses your effort with the kiss of success.

There is a sure way to achieve greatness in life - to do a nightly cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting of what you want out of life and if you're reaching your goals. If you don't have goals, for sure you won't reach them.) Ask yourself four questions:

  1. What am I living for?
  2. What did I do today to reach my goal?
  3. What did I do contrary to my goal that I need to correct?

  4. What can I live for that is more important/meaningful than my present goal?

Do this and you'll be a success!

Torah Portion of the Week

This week we conclude the ten plagues with the plagues of locusts, darkness and the death of the first-born. The laws of Passover are presented, followed by the commandment to wear Tefillin, consecrate the first-born animal and redeem one's first born son. The Torah tells us that at some time in the future your son will ask you about these commandments and you will answer:

"With a show of power, God brought us out of Egypt, the place of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us leave, God killed all the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike. I, therefore, offer to God all male first-born (animals) and redeem all the first-born of sons. And it shall be a sign upon your arm, and an ornament between your eyes, for with a strong hand the Almighty removed us from Egypt." (Exodus 13:15)


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And Moses said this is what the Almighty said, 'About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt will die.'" (Exodus 11:4)

Why did Moses say "about midnight" when according to our tradition the Almighty actually told Moses that the plague would occur exactly at midnight (which is what happened as can be seen in verse 12:29)?

Rashi, the great commentator, explains that mortals can easily make an error. If Moses would have said "at midnight" and the plague took place a few moments before or after, they would have said that Moses was a liar!

Amazing! The Egyptians already suffered nine plagues following Moses' warnings - and because of a few minutes discrepancy, they would write off Moses as a liar? We see from here the power of a person to find fault with someone else if he seeks to find fault. For a few moments in time, the person will disregard the most compelling evidence of Moses' veracity -the correct predictions of bizarre and destructive plagues!

There are people who take pleasure in finding fault with others. They do this either because they are perfectionists or to gain power. Such a person must learn to find good in others - or at least to develop a sense of proportion. It is always good to give three pieces of praise before giving anyone criticism. It assures the recipient of one's good intent and genuine concern and allows him to hear the criticism. It also helps the giver of criticism to keep perspective. Be gentle when you correct others. Great harm and suffering can be caused through criticizing ... especially to someone who is very sensitive.


"Focus on three things and you won't come to transgress: Know from where you came, where you are going and before Whom you will in the future give justification and an accounting."
    -- Akavia ben Mahalalel

(or go to

Jerusalem  4:16
Guatemala 5:30  Hong Kong 5:38  Honolulu 5:47
J'Burg 6:45  London 3:54  Los Angeles 4:43
Melbourne 8:23  Miami 5:29  Moscow 4:04

New York 4:30  Singapore  6:57


Three things are good in little measure
and bad in large measure:
yeast, salt and hesitation.
--  The Talmud

In Loving Memory of
Isaac Shuster
Dr. Sam Scher
Marvin & Chana Basye Shuster


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