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Shlach 5764

Shlach (Numbers 13-15 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!   Last week I shared with you the Secret of Life according to my friend, Rabbi Pliskin. For those who missed it or don't remember:

  1. Keep breathing. The longer you breathe, the longer you live.

  2. Attitude. Likely, there are those who read the piece and said, "That's easy for you to say! If you've been through what I've been through, you wouldn't have written that." Therefore, this week I am sharing with you the "how" of keeping a positive attitude from a little booklet Aish produced called "The Secret of Happiness."

Ask anyone, "What would you rather be: happy or rich? Almost everyone will answer "I'd rather be happy." However, most people work at being rich far more than they work at being happy.


Before I share with you the secret of happiness, we have to get
rid of two misconceptions.

  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 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
    everyone knows, but just doesn't focus that they know it.


Imagine standing on the 70th floor of the Empire State building. Suddenly, a man opens a window and says, "I'm going to jump!" You call out, "Stop! Don't do it!" And he replies, "If you try to stop me, I'll take you with me!"

The guy is 6'5" and weighs 260 pounds, so you say, "OK... but any last messages? Perhaps there's someone I should notify?" He says, "You seem like an intelligent, friendly person. 'll give you 15 minutes to try to dissuade me, but first let me tell you my troubles so you'll understand why I want to jump."

For hours you listen to him tell you about the most horrific misfortunes and tragedies. You've never heard stories like this. By the end, you're crying your eyes out. Finally, he turns to you and says, "I'm miserable. Why should I go on living?"

What can you possibly say? Suddenly, you get a flash of inspiration! "Sir, if on top of all your troubles you also happened to be blind, would you be more or less miserable? He replies, "Certainly, more miserable!" You then continue, "So you would then definitely jump?" "Of course!" he replies.

"Now, imagine that you're leaning out the window about to jump and suddenly there's a miracle. You can see! You see people, the sun, clouds, birds flying in the sky! Would you jump ... or would you wait a week to look around?"

The man answers, "I suppose I'd stick around for a week." "What about all of your troubles and miseries?" you ask. "So, what? Now I can see!"

If a person really appreciates that he can see, then all of his miseries are nothing. On the other hand, if you take everything you have for granted, nothing you'll ever receive in life will bring you lasting happiness. The secret of happiness is to really appreciate what you have.


Here's how it works. Everyone has a cousin or an aunt who loves to complain. Let's call her Aunt Sophie. The next time you visit your Aunt Sophie and she wants to tell you for 2 hours about her miseries, say to her very respectfully, "Auntie, I came to suffer with you. But, before we suffer, please tell me about five pleasures you had today."

"Pleasures? What pleasures?" Aunt Sophie responds. "Auntie, I'm going to leave right now if you don't share with me some of today's pleasures!" She's stuck. "Tell me, did you have a cup of coffee this morning?" "Yes, I had a coffee" says Aunt Sophie. Make her focus on the pleasure. "Did you close your eyes and take in the aroma? Was the coffee warm and sweet? Did it give you energy?" Relive the pleasure with her. She'll have to do it because she wants to satisfy your request so that she can start to complain.

"Okay. It was sweet and nice," she says. Now can I complain?" "Not yet, Aunt Sophie. Tell me four more pleasures." "I didn't have any more!" says she. "Did you wash your face? Did you have a warm shower? Did that feel good? Were you out in the sun today?" Relive it for her. After walking her through five pleasures, her complaints will be far less bitter.

Appreciating the pleasures we have is simple and effective. Every evening when you sit down with your family or a friend, discuss five pleasures each of you experienced that day. Incorporate this into your daily ritual - especially if you have children. Eventually, those around you will be focused throughout the day on what pleasures they had so that they can share them with you.

Torah Portion of the Week

The Jewish people received the Torah on Mt. Sinai and were ready to enter the land of Israel. There was a consensus of opinion amongst the people that we should send spies to see if it was feasible to conquer the Land. Moshe knew that the Almighty's promise to give the Land included a guarantee to conquer it. However, one of the principles of life which we learn from this portion is: the Almighty allows each of us the free will to go in the direction we choose. Even though one man and the Almighty is a majority, Moshe by Divine decree, sent out the princes of the tribes (men of the highest caliber) to spy out the land.

Twelve spies were sent. Ten came back with a report of strong fortifications and giants; they rallied the people against going up to the Land. Joshua ben Nun and Calev ben Yefunah (Moshe's brother-in-law) tried to stem the rebellion, but did not succeed. The Almighty decreed 40 years of wandering in the desert, one year for each day they spied in the land of Israel. This happened on the 9th of Av, a date noted throughout Jewish history for tragedy - the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain amongst them.


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"The Land (of Israel) is very, very good." (Numbers 14:7)

Someone who lived in the Israel once came to Rabbi Moshe of Lelov and was extremely critical of the land. Rabbi Moshe censured him and said, "The Torah tells us that the Land is very, very good. When does someone find the good of the land? When he fulfills the Mishna (the teaching) in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 4:4 which teaches, "Be very, very humble." When someone has the trait of arrogance, he will not be satisfied with the land.

An arrogant person demands that everything should be exactly as he wishes. He lacks patience and this causes him much frustration and suffering. A person with humility finds it easy to accept things not being the way he would have wished them to be. He focuses on the positive in each situation and circumstance. He appreciates the spiritual dimension of Israel and thus feels great joy in living there.

(or Go to

Jerusalem  7:06
Guatemala 6:11  Hong Kong 6:48  Honolulu 6:54
J'Burg 5:05  London 8:57  Los Angeles 7:46
Melbourne 4:46  Miami 7:53  Moscow 8:54

New York 8:08  Singapore  6:53


The best thing about the future is
that it comes one day at a time.
--  A. Lincoln

With Special Thanks to
Gordon & Donna Hecker
for dedicating this edition


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