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Shlach 5769

Shlach (Numbers 13-15 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! I once offered a young man the opportunity to meet my good friend and renowned author and speaker, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin. The young man was a bit nervous, "But, what should I say to him?" I asked the young man, "Do you have any questions about life that you would like answered?" When he replied "No," I then suggested, "Well, then why not ask Rabbi Pliskin, 'What is the secret of life?' " The young man became very excited (perhaps at the thought that he might play "Stump the Rabbi") and anxiously walked with me to meet Rabbi Pliskin to ask his question.

Why did I suggest this question? I once saw a Ziggy cartoon with a young man climbing a steep mountain to ask the guru, "What is the secret of life?" And the guru answered, "Before I tell you ... have you heard about Amway?" I knew that Rabbi Pliskin was not into Amway or selling "Kabbalah water," so not only was it safe to ask him this question, but with his sharp mind and keen sense of humor, his answer would be worth hearing. I wasn't disappointed!

"Breathing," replied Rabbi Pliskin. "Breathe in and breathe out. As long as you keep breathing you will be alive." Then Rabbi Pliskin continued, "The other secret to life is attitude. Life is how you decide to view it. I once read about a person going through a toll booth and the attendant had his radio blasting music and was dancing. He asked him, 'What's the occasion?' and the attendant answered, 'I'm having a party!' A few weeks later the driver went through the same toll booth and the same attendant had his radio blasting music and was dancing. The driver asked him, 'Why are you having another party?' He smiled and said, "Mister, every day is a party. Life is a party. You have to celebrate!' "

King Solomon in his great wisdom tells us the secret of a high quality life. "Every day in the life of a poor person is bad. And for a person with a good heart, life is constant parties." (Proverbs 15:15)

A "poor person" refers to one who has a poor attitude. He keeps thinking about what is wrong and what is missing. So for him every day is distress and misery. The person with a "good heart" refers to someone who is constantly grateful and appreciative for all the good in his life. When you master this attitude your life will be full of moments of joy and celebration.

When you master joy for the good in your life, you will be able to be appreciative of each and every breath. So breathing will not only keep you alive, it will also give you what to celebrate. And since every moment of life is a moment of breathing, you will radiate joy!

If you are breathing while you are reading this, celebrate your ability to breathe and celebrate life!

For more on "Celebrating Life" go to!

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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:

"And we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight" (Numbers 13:33).

The Kotzker Rebbe said that the mistake of the spies was in the words "and so we were in their sight." It should not bother a person how others view him. (Otzer Chaim)

A person who worries about how others view him will have no rest. Regardless of what he does or does not do, he will always be anxious about receiving the approval of others. Such a person makes his self-esteem dependent on the whims of others. It is a mistake to give others so much control over you. Keep your focus on doing what is right and proper. Work on mastering the ability to have a positive self-image regardless of how others view you.

If people give you constructive criticism because of things you are doing wrong, you should appreciate the opportunity to improve. However, do not allow your self-image to be dependent on the arbitrary approval and disapproval of others.

The Chofetz Chaim commented, When you view yourself as inferior, you will assume that others also view you in this manner. The truth could very well be that the other person views you in a much higher manner. As the Yalkut Shimoni states, "The Almighty said, 'Who says that you were not in their eyes as angels?' " (HaChofetz Chaim, Vol. 3, p. 1060)

Realize your intrinsic value as a being created in the image of the Almighty and you will feel much more comfortable around other people.

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Life is meant to be lived, not hoarded.

In Honor of

Herbert Buchwald

With Deep Appreciation

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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Copyright Rabbi Kalman Packouz 2009

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