Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Re'eh) Positive Attitude!
Dr. George Crane, a psychologist and syndicated columnist, related a story about a woman who sought his advice concerning her tremendous hatred toward her husband. “Our marriage is over. But before we divorce, I want to make him suffer like he made me suffer all these years.”
Dr. Crane suggested an ingenious plan. “Go home and act as if you really love your husband. Tell him how much he means to you. Praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind, considerate and generous as possible. Spare no effort to please and enjoy him. Make him believe that you love him. Then, after you’ve convinced him of your undying love and that you can’t live without him, drop the bomb. That will really hurt him.”
The woman was excited about the idea; she thanked the doctor and literally ran home to implement her devious plan. For two months she showed love and kindness, listening, sharing and giving.
Dr. Crane gave her a call: “What happened to our plan? When will you let him know that you are done?”
“Divorce!” she exclaimed, “Never! I discovered I really do love him.”
What happened was that her actions changed her feelings. He hadn’t changed…but she had.
I think it is fair to say everyone wants a good life, a good marriage and a life filled with blessings.
This week’s Torah portion begins with G-d assuring us that we will receive blessings and have it good when we are loyal to the Torah’s commands. In reality, there are those who are disgruntled with G-d, religion and its commands; there are those who simply lack the knowledge and are therefore unaware of what the Torah expects from them; and there are some who have become complacent with the status quo.
I think Dr. Crane’s innovative proposition to the woman which ultimately changed her perception about her husband, can be implemented in regards to assuming a positive attitude towards embracing our religion.
There is a major idea in Judaism that states that even when we are not sincere in what we are doing – we should still do it – because in due time feelings of sincerity will come. One has to take the first step and consider the same plan the woman set forth towards her divorce, regarding religion.
Here’s the plan: Let’s undertake to embrace our religion; our Mitzvos, our faith and our beliefs with a loving and endearing attitude for a significant amount of time – giving ourselves the option to demur at the end. This means we’ll begin our day enthusiastic about our opportunity to pray, don a Talit and wear Tefilin.
When we get to the Shema, the words – love your G-d – will be reinforced in our minds. During the prayers we will connect with our forefathers, praise G-d, ask for all our needs and then thank Him for all the blessings in our lives.
In preparation for our meals, Kosher food will be foremost on our mind. In certain instances it may even cost a bit more, but hey, during this ‘experiment,’ we have to put on a happy face and smile. Before we indulge in our food we will recite the proper blessings – recognizing G-d’s blessings He gifted us. After we are done, we’ll thank Him as well.
Then there are the codes concerning our interpersonal relations with others. We’ll refrain from speaking ill of others. We will practice humility and love our fellow like ourselves – which also includes our spouses, children, parents, employees and friends. We’ll set time to study the Torah and our teachings – for if we are not educated we’ll lack the knowhow to function during the ‘experiment.’
Two shorter prayers, evening and night are recited – preferably in synagogue so that the experience is shared with others as well.
Concerning our relationship with our spouses, we will focus on the laws of family purity, which are practiced by abstaining from physical contact during a woman’s flow and then counting the seven clean days – while anticipating together, the wife’s return from the Mikveh when intimacy resumes.
Then it’s the preparation and anticipation of the festive Shabbos meals. We’ll view the abstaining from forbidden creative activities with delight since it affords us and our family an opportunity to bond without the many distractions that cause us to drift apart during the week.
Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler o.b.m. writes: “True love is not necessarily giving to what you love, rather, it’s the loving of what you’ve given to.” Furthermore, we are taught that the energy that is created through performing a Mitzvah creates a momentum that stimulates and propels us to continue and persevere.
So why don’t we take the ‘Positive Attitude Religion Challenge,” and see for ourselves how it works!
Wishing you a most enjoyable and uplifting Shabbat!
Rabbi Dovid Saks