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Ki Tavo 5768

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

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! Did you ever want to accomplish something and just couldn't gather the willpower to do it? Now Rabbi Zelig Pliskin has written his 23rd book to help you (us...): Taking Action. If I were to write the book, it would probably be 3 words - "Just do it!" When Rabbi Pliskin writes the book, it's 62 chapters and 238 pages on overcoming procrastination - from every angle - and how to take great joy while just doing it!

Chapters include: The Awesome Power of Joyful Willpower, Meaningful Goals Create a Meaningful Life, Mastering the Habit of Taking Action, Believe You Can Be an Action-Oriented Person, The Magnificent Life-Transforming Formula, Melt the Blocks, Overcome the Fear, The Harm in Saying "One is Lazy or Procrastinating", Self-Inspire Yourself, "I Just Don't Feel Like Doing It" - all the way to: Affirmations for Taking Action With Alacrity (there are 150 affirmations!).

The Orchos Tzadikim (The Ways of the Righteous, Chapter 15), teaches us that "Zerizus (alacrity or joyful willpower) is the crown jewel of all other character traits." With this quality, you will take action to do what is necessary to refine all of your other traits. The Sefer HaChinuch (Book of Education, #16) informs us that "Our character is developed by our choice of actions." Zerizus is the quality within us that fuels achievement, the trait that takes what we are capable of and turns it into real accomplishment. Therefore, it behooves us to work on eagerly taking action.

Zerizus, in the words of his publisher, Artscroll, is what we all need to make our dreams come true. Zerizus takes us from "I wish" to "I will." Zerizus is not about hurry. It's not about pushing, aggression or aimless, rushed activity. As we cultivate zerizus we learn to create meaningful, doable goals and actually reach them. As zerizus becomes a part of our lives, we find joy and serenity in our lives, as well as practical accomplishment.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 26, "Just Start": "Often, the hardest part of taking action is actually getting started. The principle of inertia is that an object that is at rest will stay that way until it is acted upon by an outside force. This is a law of physics. A similar principle will apply to humans. When they are at rest, they need a special surge of energy to get started.

"However, human beings are really different from inanimate objects. An inanimate object cannot decide to move itself. A human being can think and can choose to take action. With your mind, you can choose to intensify your willpower and this will lead to taking even more action.

"Your Creator gave you a body, which is subject to the laws of physics. However, your Creator also gave you a soul, which has free will to choose to take action in ways that are in line with the way the Creator wants you to take action.

"Even though when you are at rest and it's easy to remain at rest, you do not need an external force to cause you to move. You can choose to take action. The ability to choose what you will do at any given moment is a magnificent gift given to you by your Creator. Value the gift. Cherish it. Thank the magnificent Creator for the magnificent gift that you can utilize whenever you choose.

"Being aware that you need to make a special effort in the beginning will make it much easier for you to get started. You won't have to maintain this effort the entire time, just when you start.

"You have already started many things many times, even if you procrastinated before taking action. Instead of looking at yourself as a procrastinator, view yourself as a person who eventually took action."

Taking Action is full of wise insights, practical advice, true-life stories, and Rabbi Pliskin's trademark good humor. Those who procrastinate might have a problem in getting around to buying this book. However, if they can't make it to their local Jewish bookstore, they can go to or call toll-free 877-758-3242. Then again, perhaps the book will be bought by people who want to help their loved ones who wouldn't get around to buying the book. But, how will they get them to read it?

For more on "Zerizus" go to!

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Torah Portion of the Week
Ki Tavo

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

The Torah states:

"And you shall rejoice with all the good that the Almighty has given you" (Deut. 26:11).

Why do we need a directive to rejoice when we should automatically be happy when we have good things?

Rabbi Mordechai Gifter, former Rosh HaYeshiva of Telse Yeshiva in Cleveland, clarifies with an insight into human nature: "Man's nature is to constantly want more than he presently has. 'He who has one hundred wants two hundred.' Our moments of joy are mixed with sadness over what we lack - and this is destructive both physically and spiritually. Therefore, the Torah commands us to feel a joy that is complete - to focus on and rejoice with what we have."

If you think that you will be happy only when you have more, then you will NEVER be happy. When you finally get what you were hoping for, you will once again focus on getting more and will again feel unhappy. Happiness is dependent upon your state of mind. You can only be happy if you appreciate what you have and what you are presently doing.

Adding to Rabbi Pliskin's message, Pirkei Avos (chapter 4, the first mishna or "teaching") states, "Who is the rich person? He who is happy with his portion." Regardless of what you have, you are only wealthy if you have mastered the ability to appreciate what you have. I often think that there are many Jews with regards to their Judaism who are like multi-millionaires who don't know that they are rich because all of their money is sewn into the mattress and they don't know that it is there. Instead, they complain about sleeping on a lumpy mattress! (By the way, I think of Aish HaTorah as "poking holes in mattresses" so that Jews everywhere can see the beauty, meaning and values in our heritage.)

One can have eyes, hands, feet, a mind to think with and be depressed -unless he focuses on taking pleasure in these gifts. Imagine if you were blind and suddenly were given the gift of sight. Would you be "flying high"? You would be beyond yourself in happiness! Why wait to appreciate what you have? Make a list of your gifts and what you are grateful for. It is good preparation for Rosh Hashana! And so is reading The Five Levels of Pleasure available here.


CANDLE LIGHTING - September 19
(or go to

Jerusalem 6:04
Guatemala 5:43 - Hong Kong 6:05 - Honolulu 6:12
J'Burg 5:44 - London 6:48 - Los Angeles 6:35
Melbourne 5:55 - Mexico City 7:17 - Miami 7:03
New York 6:40 - Singapore 6:47 - Toronto 7:02


Procrastination is opportunity's assassin .
-- Victor Kiam

In Loving Memory of My Parents
R' Chaim Yosef ben Avraham Mordechai & Rachel bas Dovid
Reb Dovid Russak


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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