Parshat Re'eh: Why Don't Jews Eat Stork?!
Posted by Rabbi Mark Wildes on Thursday, August 9, 2018
A friend of mine discovered a growth and underwent tests. The results put him into an exclusive club no one wants to join: cancer. He underwent surgery, chemo treatments and radiation. Throughout this ordeal, I was deeply moved by his attitude and trust in Hashem. In one conversation, he told me, “Hashem has a plan for me. Whatever happens is meant to be.” His words linger with me to this day.
Everyone has challenges and setbacks which at times can be overwhelming, even depressing, yet we can get our needed inspiration to bounce back, from individuals who undergo life-threatening situations and navigate their trials with courage and faith in Hashem. Their approach to life with such clarity in their belief in Hashem, gives us our needed comfort and focus.
This reflects a fundamental life lesson in Parshas Shoftim. “Tamim tihyeh im Hashem Elokecha” — you shall be wholehearted with Hashem, your G-d (18:13). Since there is no punctuation in a Sefer Torah, the reading of one verse can change by where one places a comma. The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh says there are two ways to read this pasuk, depending where we place the punctuation. The word “tihyeh” can be read together with tamim – “You shall be wholehearted with Hashem …,” meaning that you should have unwavering belief in Hashem and then Hashem will be with you. Or, we can place the comma after the word tamim, with the end of the verse saying “tihyeh im Hashem” – if you will be wholesome, then you will be with Hashem. The Torah wrote this ambiguity on purpose because both readings are correct! The Torah is telling us that if one is “tamim,” then he is with Hashem. This explains Rashi, who comments that if we are “tamim,”then Hashem will be proud to consider us “Amcha and Nachlascha” – His nation and His representatives.
But what’s the true meaning of being “tamim” – wholesome? The root of the word is “tam” – simple. Yaakov Avinu is referred to as “Ish tam” – a simple man. One of the four sons discussed in the Haggadah on Seder night is the Tam – the simple son. Usually, this attribute connotes simple, as in not being learned, and is not referred to with the greatest sense of praise. So why the praise of simplicity??
There are two types of simplicity. Simplicity can come from plain ignorance, or it can be seen in someone who is very knowledgeable, yet acts in a simple, straightforward manner, without any deviousness. The latter person lives his life with a simple reliance on Hashem. Be it in business, communal affairs or in relationships, this person acts in a straightforward and wholesome way, without any trace of deviousness. It’s not an easy task! A person who is very intelligent can use this attribute to achieve an unfair advantage over his fellow man. It takes a special strength of character to be very learned and still put simple reliance in Hashem in every aspect of our lives, as did Yaakov Avinu, without any need to act in a devious manner.
There’s another point to bring out in this verse. In the Sefer Torah, the letter Tav in the word “tamim” is written larger than all the other letters. The Baal Haturim explains this means someone who behaves with temimos is considered as if he fulfilled the entire Torah, which is comprised of all the letters from Aleph to Tav.
It’s a most appropriate lesson for these early days of Elul. Rav Avrohom Schorr quotes Rabbeinu Ephraim who points out the numerical value of the words “tamim tihyeh” is 910 — the same numerical value of the word Tishrei. Tishrei ushers in Rosh Hashana. Tishrei begins our New Year. It’s a powerful reminder that as we begin a whole new cycle of life with Tishrei, our focus should be on making ourselves tamim –wholesome and simple in our faith in Hashem and in our practice of the Almighty’s mitzvos.
Mind Control In Elul
It’s estimated that we have 50,000 thoughts a day; some of them are unwanted. For those who wish to control their thoughts, I suggest the following:
Kabbalah teaches that the first few moments of a negative thought are not our own; they are sent from heaven. But it’s our responsibility to disregard these thoughts. As the parsha so poetically says this week, “Shoftim ve’shotrim titein lecha be’sharecha.” We must place safeguards to prevent evil from penetrating us.
First we must be shoftim and judge the thought. If it is negative, we must then be shotrim and destroy it by disregarding it.
Many of us go searching the world for our soul mate. We search at every event, in many cities and countries and online. Perhaps we should invert the question and instead of asking, “Where is my bashert (soul mate)?” let’s ask, “How can I get my bashert to come to me?” I suggest you spend 50% of your time and effort looking for your bashert and the other 50% of the time continuing to bring out your best self in order to draw your soul mate closer to you.
How do you get a great relationship to come to you?
The short answer is: Be magnetic. Here’s the long answer.
What is a magnet and what does it have to do with dating? According to Wikipedia, “A magnet is a material or object that produces a magnetic field. This magnetic field is invisible but is responsible for the most notable property of a magnet: a force that pulls on other ferromagnetic materials, such as iron, and attracts or repels other magnets.”
If we apply this definition to dating it would read: “A relationship magnet is a person who produces a magnetic field. This magnetic field is invisible but is responsible for a force that attracts or repels other relationship-minded singles.”
There are several important points worth exploring here:
A relationship magnet is a person who produces a magnetic field. You have the ability to produce a tangible field of energy around you. You impact the world around you just by having an impact on what is within your immediate reach, namely — YOU!
Think about what is on your list of desirable traits in a mate. Chances are the list includes some of the following: warmth, kindness, consideration, thoughtfulness, a mensch, someone who acts in loving ways, is verbally articulate and lets me know how they are feeling, someone open, someone who laughs easily and often.
Now visualize the person you desire to meet. Have that picture in your mind? Imagine meeting this person. Now get curious: what kind of traits would that person be looking for in you? Do you possess those traits? Is your magnetic field projecting the right energy to attract the mate you desire? Take some time to evaluate and see if who you are is who you need to be in order to pull your mate closer.
This magnetic field is invisible but is responsible for a force that attracts or repels other relationship-minded singles. This invisible force that we create can either attract or repel others. Have you ever been on a date and not been so interested? You put something out there that signals that you are not interested, in the hope they will pick up on those signals and lose interest as well. Or how about the reverse? Ever had a great date where both of you had a strong connection? Often my clients try to explain when things just “click” but can’t exactly put their finger on what worked.
I would say it’s the field that attracts one to the other — what’s within someone as well as what’s on the outside that draws one person to another. The “click” is a magnetic moment. During that moment there is an electrical current running between two people. If one side suddenly becomes uninterested, the current breaks and the magnetism is lost. If you’ve ever felt that one moment you are connected and the next moment you don’t know what happened, what’s happening is that the other side lost interest (ie changed their magnetic field) and there is no longer a positive charge between you two.
Try to make a fair evaluation. Have you been attracting or repelling those you date? Has it been intentional or unintentional? Try to be more conscious of your magnetic field. If you like the results you are getting, i.e. attracting those you’re interested in and repelling those you don’t want, then you’re doing the right things. If, however, you are attracting those you don’t want and repelling those you are interested in, it’s time to make some changes and see if you can get different results.
So take some time this week to explore and investigate your magnetic field. First, do your own evaluation and see what you would like to change and what you want to keep the same. Then try speaking to a trusted friend and sharing this concept. See if they notice something about your field that you didn’t see or know. (Make sure it’s a good friend and ask them to be mindful about what they say; this is not a venting session about what you’re doing wrong, but rather a safe space for you to get some feedback.) Finally, take time to decide if you want to make any changes to your magnetic field and how you will go about getting the results you desire. May your soul mate be near and easily drawn to you!
Originally published on Aish.com.