|| Terumah: Joy Amidst Turmoil|
Dear Rabbi Jacobson,
I was very uplifted by your last class, The
Secret of Finding Joy, which I viewed over the
web (by the way, these classes are brilliant, one of the
best kept secrets online; I tell everyone I know about them.
You must find ways to distribute them widely). The way you
explained the power of joy resonated deeply. Yet, I find
it extremely difficult to implement these principles into
my daily life. I was just laid off my job, my long-term
savings have been depleted due to the economic turndown
(or whatever name they call it), to boot I grew up in a
dysfunctional home, which I am always healing from, and
there are many other factors in my life that are hardly
a cause for happiness. Indeed, I feel as if I am perpetually
sad, with a few sporadic spurts of short-lived joy bouncing
up here and there. I often feel as though I have been hardwired
without joy or happiness. Some people seem to be naturally
cheerful. And some of us seem to be inherently despondent
if not miserable.
Pray tell me that I am wrong.
Thank you for your kind, yet also sad words.
Let me get straight to the point. You are wrong. Very wrong.
Have you ever seen a newborn child sad? Every child ever
born is always happy and joyful. Joy is hardwired in our
hardware and in our software. Sadness is a superimposed
state that we acquire once we being to grow and experience
disappointment and duplicity. Children learn to be sad from
their parents and the "mature" world that they
become exposed to.
You may argue that children are naturally happy because
they are naïve and have yet to witness "reality"
– the harsh and cruel world in which we live, where
people hurt each other and the many hardships that life
In truth, however, it is the other way around. A child is
our most natural and quintessential state. The child’s
innate cheer comes from an inner peace and contentment which
results from a lack of dichotomy in the child’s life.
Seamlessness is the operative world. A child’s consciousness
is not split into parts. A child is not torn between its
needs and its behavior. We adults are constantly torn between
demands upon us and our own needs, between what we truly
want and what we must do to survive, between who we essentially
are and what we do. Between the needs of our bodies and
the needs of or souls. Who among us can say that our daily
work and activities reflect our deepest inner aspirations?
Is there a person that has no conflict of interest between
a personal life and a professional one, between the demands
of your job and those of your home and family? Has anyone
not compromised some of their idealism and values due to
the pressures of the struggle for survival?
When there is a split there is tension. And where there
is tension there is sadness. A measure of angst is always
healthy – to keep us reaching and growing. But when
the angst spills over into anxiety, despondence and depression
are not far behind.
Children are the most perfect model of seamlessness: A smooth
flow between the inner and the outer; where identity meets
expression. Imagine that your outer expressions were always
reflecting your inner needs, and your deepest aspirations
always had an outlet of expression.
It is only from adults that children learn to be sad. Yes,
we adult project our feelings on our children and as they
develop and enter maturity that too learn the world of envy
ad greed, of selfishness and instant gratification, of struggling
between what we know to be true and what we indulge in for
our own pleasure.
You may then say, that all this is fine and good as long
as we are children. But now that we have grown into adults,
our childhoods lost, we no longer can access that inner
contentment and happiness that is the domain of the child.
That may sound logical and… sad , but it is unequivocally
wrong. The way we were born, the way we were hardwired always
remains with us. Our inherent joy becomes concealed under
many layers and veils, but it is embedded in our consciousness
if not unconsciousness.
The question is how do we access it, especially once "paradise"
has been seemingly lost? The answer goes back to the root
of joy and happiness: Seamlessness. How does one achieve
the seamless state, where there is no conflict between competing
We can find our answer in an unlikely place – and
one that is not even so popular today: Business.
The first cardinal rule of every venture is defining its
mission statement. Without a concise and clearly stated
purpose, everything that follows will be scattered and confused.
Goals will be hard to set, and success will be difficult
if not impossible to measure. The mission aligns all the
steps of the operation from start to finish – from
concept to final product, from the strategies and plans,
to the actions and goals. It brings together and coordinates
the entire enterprise into one seamless unit.
If so, you may ask, how is it that so many very focused
businesses fail? Look around today, and we witness the collapse
of numerous revered institutions, that had powerful mission
statements and highly capable stewards at the helm. How
did that happen? Read on.
So the secret of seamlessness – which lies behind
the secret of happiness – is thus dependent on discovering
the mission of our lives. Without that mission, our activities,
involvements and investments – all our times and energy
– will inevitably be unfocused, hence leading to tension
The mission of our lives is stated in this week’s
Torah portion. In perhaps the shortest and most concise
mission statement ever made, the verse states: V’osu
li mikdash v’shochanti b’socham, Build Me a
sanctuary and I will dwell among you.
Five words – V’osu li mikdash v’shochanti b’socham – define
the purpose of existence and the mission and goal of each
and every life: Take all the elements of your life, all
your physical materials and material activities, direct
all your faculties, gifts and opportunities toward one goal:
Build Me a sanctuary and I will dwell among you.
Align all your energy and activities toward this one seamless
goal, and you will find seamless happiness. It may be difficult
to tackle every aspect of our lives, but we can always begin
with aligning some areas toward the stated mission. You
will find that joy is directly proportionate to the amount
of focus of one’s life toward fulfilling the higher
And now a word about our current economic crisis. Even if
one were to argue that some of our failed companies stuck
to their missions – which is not necessarily the case;
many clearly strayed from their own missions and sound strategies,
taking unsound risks, due to greed and other selfish incentives,
betraying the trust in them – they definitely did
not live up to the larger mission of our entire system:
Integrity. The only way that capitalism, which is driven
by personal gain, can survive is through a fundamental trust
(which incidentally is stated in many financial company’s
mission statements: Investments you can trust, "securities,"
take Prudential’s "rock").
It surprises me that with all of our best minds at work
trying to find a solution to the decaying economy, no one
has suggested revisiting the initial "mission statement"
of the United States of America – the driving ethos
that gave birth in the first place to this mighty nation
and created the climate for its thriving economy.
In the Declaration of Independence – which one can
say is the USA’s "mission statement" –
the Founding Fathers, in their wisdom (and apparent study
of the past failed systems and governments), understood
that the key to this country’s success lies only if
it stands on a solid bedrock, an unwavering foundation:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all
men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these
rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their
just powers from the consent of the governed."
They did not make economic prosperity the mission or goal
of this country. Free commerce and financial success is
a symptom, not a cause of freedom. They clearly knew that
the driving mission of this country must be based on the
absolute Divine equality endowed on all human beings. Governments
are instituted to secure and protect the Divine unalienable
rights of man, not the other way around. This is the only
basis of trust, freedom and all the components necessary
to allow for healthy relationships and successful businesses.
Without faith, without accepting higher authority that gave
us all the gift of life and liberty, what is there to protect
one greedy man from another?
Socialism's argument against capitalism was always that
we cannot trust people driven by personal gain and greed.
Thus the need for deprivatization, eliminating all private
property and ownership. The problem with this approach is
that by the same argument we also cannot trust the socialists
and the ones taking charge of the socialist revolution (as
history has proven only too well). In days of old, a few
monarchs controlled capital, with the same argument, that
left on their own people’s self-interests will destroy
them. But could we trust the monarchs? One could argue perhaps,
that less damage is possible if we isolate the abuse to
a few people than to many. But a contrary argument can also
Regardless, all these arguments make it absolutely clear
and necessary that the only hope for capitalism to succeed
is fundamental integrity and trust. You can create all the
regulating you like – as if the SEC was doing its
job – but without a deeper sense of faith and the
feeling that we have to answer to a higher authority, no
system could be trusted.
All our economic experts must do – all that the President
must do – is look at the money in their own pockets.
Engraved on every coin, etched on every bill, are the words
"In God we trust."
The only antidote for human greed is the acceptance, respect
and obligation to a higher calling, which in turn allows
for trust of each other.
Our leaders today ought to simply echo and reiterate this
nation’s original mission statement – declaring
the core base of our union is the Divine gift of life that
we were all given equally, that "In God we trust"
and with that trust "E Pluribus Unum," from the
many, one, and we can thus trust each other, and become
one despite our diversity. That without this common bond
our system – our government, economy, politics and
all our institutions – cannot endure. Without answering
to a higher calling and authority, we will end up in the
same place as so many mighty empires before us: History.
Our leaders must declare that integrity is good for business.
Greed may work short-term, but can never endure.
Of course, this alone will not solve our problems. We need
to rebuild (or create new models for) our institutions and
structures. But without this essential trust – without
the foundation – the structure cannot stand.
The turmoil and turbulence surrounding us today presents
a unique opportunity to revisit our "point of departure:"
Our initial missions. Which in turn allows us to realign
our lives accordingly.
My suggestion to you, M., is to begin asking yourself: "What
is my mission? Why was my soul sent down to Earth?"
Though this may not be a short-term solution, I assure you
that if you are persistent in your search, in time you will
find your calling, and as you do you will become a happier
person. Remember, you have joy inside of your soul. As a
newborn child it was active. Then it may have retreated
as you faced various challenges. But the happiness it is
still in there somewhere. Perhaps locked, perhaps trapped
– but waiting for you to release it.
Connect your active life to a deeper mission, reintroduce
seamlessness into your existence, and you will begin releasing
the joy within you.
What better time to begin than in this joyous month of Adar?
Join a Purim celebration, sing and dance with others, celebrate
with people who are connecting to something higher than
themselves. Celebrate the joy of Purim, which is called
"ad d’lo yoda" – unbridled joy to
the point beyond consciousness; the joy deeply embedded
in the subconscious soul.
|Why do so many of our brothers and sisters accept and vigorously promote socialism (and communism in past years). Why do they so vociferously condemn individualism.
I recall a post shabbat kiddush conversation with an orthodox economics professor concerning obamacare and the potential logical necessity of death panels to deal with the misallocation of medical resources. He argued passionately in favor of the panels. The argument sickened me but was consistent with the reasoning of so many others of us.
For some reason many of us believe that man can do what only G-d can. Maybe we fervently desire the messiah so much that we believe that we can bring him into the world if we meddle with natural law and the markets. However, this desire to do good so often creates awful consequences. Trusting in G-d is definitely the answer but how do we know when G-d speaks? We must realize how profoundly limited we are in many respects and how we must exercise enormous restraint so the abominable idols we constantly create and worship do not destroy our souls and steal our freedom.
|Harry Pearle, 02/15/2013|
Try EASY Steps in Life
|Allow me to suggest that as children, our happiness revolves around a sense of PLAY. Here in, Rochester, NY, we have a National Museum of Play. It is also known as the STRONG Museum, in honor of the founder.
Now, at 71, I wonder how I can remain happily engaged with Torah, through play. Perhaps you could address this idea.
But right now, I am trying to play with simple devices, like the EASY button, from Staple. It simply says: 'that was easy', when you press it. It suggests to me that there are many easy steps we can take in life. Hashem is constantly opening doors for us, but we have have take advantage of these opportunities and share them with others.
I have been offering EASY buttons to friends, including many Rabbis for the past year, as thank you gifts.
In a sense the EASY button is part of my mission statement. Why not start with some easy steps and take it from there?
Thank you for sharing M. letter and your response. I wanted to add some thoughts to your discourse that are troubling to me. I have found in the course of my teachings that the teachers with intention and purpose give "lessons" they feel are necessary to "break the veil or the human being, i have found these lessons to be sadistic and intentionally hurtful leaving me feeling less respect for the lineage I come from as well as losing respect for my "teachers'.. I have found that "Saints" have in some cases a twist in their personalities which actually make them very cruel. For instance purposely setting up a 'Betrayal" situation "to see' how one would handle it. "sport" they call it, I find it lacking integrity on all levels. Furthermore, I think their intent is exactly the opposite of what you are proposing. Rather they want me to lose trust in everyone but God alone. I feel these personalities are highly sadistic and I am left numb. This also is part of the brainwashing techniques.. to feel numb... or devoid. other words the mystics like to use are detached, so of course in the end,, they will not want to 'come back".. Therefore, they like causing a split in the healthy personality.. an integrated personality that is naturally joyous, loving, and generous. my words fall on deaf ears, they are highly attached to their methods which includes high degree of deception. I find this kind o f approach extremely "controlling and non loving" they really do not care about the well being of the individual only their game. G-d does not like this kind of "twisted" teaching . Much ado in words, very little integration in behavior towards other's. They are really teaching the disciples not to care about anything. I would appreciate any of your thoughts on this matter. The degree of "sublimation" they are requesting as well as the "ascetic" approach is full of sadness and deception to oneself and to those they are serving. I actually find it "anti-loving" therefore "antiG-d. The vedantic thrust is to suffer... And if life is not giving you that, because you are covered in grace.. They will try and find a way. Constantly trying to "split" the personality trying to cause an inner turmoil. I think it is so very unhealthy. I am so disappointed in these tactics, and the intention behind them. Sadly I have lost respect and loving feelings towards these sadistic , so called "saints'.