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Question - How Are You?

Thursday, 2 May, 2013 - 8:00 am


Dear Rabbi,

As the summer begins, are we supposed to go on vacation? Whats the Jewish view? 


How are you?"How often do you get that question? A dozen times a day? Sadly, this has become a meaningless question, which actually doesn't even beg a real answer. Try this some time just for fun.

Someone asks you "How you doing today?" You respond, "Actually, I am doing lousy, I had a bad nights sleep, I had a bad week last week, my head hurts and finally IT'S ONLY MONDAY!" You will, most probably, have a dropped jaw staring back at you. 

My friends, we all have our moments, some that we will gloat about and others that we will kvetch about. Every day, week or even year, is defined by certain events. Hopefully they are positive, but at times actually negative and/or sad. 

We have our successes and our failures. One day we are on top of our game and feel like we are on top of the world. Perhaps we closed a good deal or our stocks went shooting through the roof. On other days we feel like a loser and a failure. We got caught up at work and missed an important event at our child's school or are toiling tirelessly on a particular effort and we can't get it done. Perhaps we are hit with large and unexpected expense or we have a bout with a health issue that knocks us off our axis.

The bulk of this week Torah Portion, Behar, talks about the Shemitah or the Jubilee year. Briefly, we are commanded to till the fields for seven years and then in the eighth year, let the land lie fallow. Anything that grows (beyond what is needed for the owner's family) is available to all as charity and prohibited from being sold. The reward for this is, that in the ninth year, (the first of the new cycle) enough produce will come forth to sustain us for that year, where new planting begins, and the next year as well.

Essentially, what is being told to us by the Torah, is that every once and a while, one must kick back and relax, as it were, and realize that the success of their production (produce), comes from G-d. Indeed, we must till the land, we must make a vessel, we must go to work, but at the end of the day, it is "the blessings of G-d that make on rich".

So often, we get so caught up in the day to day grind, perhaps it is auto-pilot or simply sheer need, that we don't stop moving for long enough to realize that when you ask someone, how are you doing today? It is a real question, and deserves a real, thought out answer, (even if it will be negative) followed by a "Boruch Hashem" - thank G-d. I.e. How am I? Lousy, thank G-d. Since everything even that which is difficult and challenging, comes from G-d.

The portion teaches us that, regardless if you do this on your own or not, G-d will force you to take some time off to smell the breeze or its spiritual equivalent = appreciate that which is important versus that which is not. Thank G-d for that which he has given you and revel in that and not in the other stuff.

So next time you are in the shop, for your car or any other physical item, hopefully you will remember the message of the Jubilee year, that this too is from G-d, and this too is for good, and finally thank G-d that our troubles usually last only for an hour or two or even a week or two and not a whole year.

Have a great week

See you on Shabbat (Friday Night and Saturday see details below)

Rabbi Kushi

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