Feb 29, 2016


Think before you speak:

T - is it true?
H - is it helpful?
I - is it inspiring?
N - is it necessary?
K - is it kind?
Would we still have what to say if we reviewed these questions before we spoke?
How about if instead of "inspiring" for the letter "I" we had "informative?"

Feb 28, 2016

Message from Zlata Press

Long ago, I read in the now defunct Horizons magazine, an article called "Our Core Belief," by Zlata Press, principal of a girls high school. I no longer have the issue but here are some points I jotted down from it about what Mrs. Press called, "the single most powerful lesson I've ever given."
She says high school performance has zero value in predicting accomplishment and success in adult life.

Not only can weak students can become wonderful wives and mothers and/or rich businesswomen.
That of course, but more -
Weak students have flowered into successful performers in the academic world!

She asks, what accounts for the dramatic turnaround? She says, sometimes sheer will and hard work.
Often, taking four college or sem classes instead of ten a term in high school.
Some need time to mature.
Others need to develop work habits.
College offers promise of a successful adult career which is motivating.

For some, the change occurs when they enter high school.
For others, the senior year.
For many, years later.

What to do about those who are miserable now?
She says, parents ask us to push less, expect less, but experience says this is not a good idea.
And interpersonal strengths, talent are not adequate replacements (despite those who extol school performances for that reason).

She says: It is our challenge as mechanchim to create the environment that is most conducive to children learning, of realistic but challenging expectations.
In a follow-up article, the author adds that those who are good students need to know that an entire area of adult life – family and community – have nothing to do with academic success!

The 99 on the chemistry quiz won’t help you to be an understanding, flexible, wise wife or a patient, creative, and dedicated mother.

Lots of food for thought both for the academically successful high school student and the unsuccessful.

Feb 27, 2016

Is to Admire to Imitate?

Long ago, I jotted down this question.  Can you admire someone but not seek to be like them? Is that contradictory or can you say, I admire that, but it's not for me?

I initially thought that this is not contradictory.  That you can admire someone for something admirable they do or for an attitude they have, but not feel that this compels you to emulate them.  What they do is good for them, not necessarily for me.

I have thought that I live (or try to live) in consonance with what I believe is right, but I have come across the idea that living with integrity would mean that if I admire someone for some reason, if I think they are doing the right thing, then I would try to imitate them.  So it's time to rethink this.

Feb 26, 2016

Ask Not What Your Job Can Do for You

I came across this line which I like, "You need to work where you add the most value."
People pursue careers or lines of work for various reasons.  Money, of course, is a major factor.  Then there is the location and how much travel time will be needed, what the hours are, what the work environment is like, what the benefits are, and what you like.
The Chovos HaLevavos says work in a field you are drawn to and are good at (see here).
This line that I like adds another perspective.  Rather than, or in addition to, seeing which profession is good for me, I should see where I can make the best contribution.  I daresay that often or usually, this is synonymous with a field I am good at.

Feb 24, 2016

Not My Identity

A man came out of Russia after having suffered greatly there for being a frum Jew.  Yet, he did not look the way you would have expected him to look.

There was an air of serenity about him, and someone asked him to explain it, considering the life he had led.

His answer was, "Mir darf zein hecher foon dem" - we need to be above it.

We had a discussion about this, with someone posing the question - what does this mean?

I said it means not becoming defined by your hardships.

Feb 23, 2016

Thinking about Thoughts

Someone brought the following question to my attention:

Where is the first time that we see thoughts associated with the brain or head?

We are so used to thinking of thoughts originating in the mind that we don't give it a second thought (ha), but in Tanach, thought is not associated with the brain but with the heart.  In this week's parsha, the term "chacham lev" is used.  The famous work, the Chovos Ha'Levavos is not about obligatory feelings but about what we should be thinking about!

What about in the secular world - when did thoughts become associated with the brain?

Feb 14, 2016

We Think We Know

The mother of one of the Columbine high school killers has lived with grief and shame since the massacre. 

“I think we like to believe that our love and our understanding is protective, and that ‘If anything were wrong with my kids, I would know.’ But I didn’t know, and it’s very hard to live with that,” she said.
“I felt that I was a good mom ... That he would, he could talk to me about anything,” she continued. “Part of the shock of this was that learning that what I believed and how I lived and how I parented was an invention in my own mind. That it was a completely different world that he was living in.”
Now that's a sobering thought.  How many parents think they know but are so way off base?