Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Appreciating Greatness

A fascinating Gemorah states that Chananyah, Mishael and Azaryah were inspired by the frogs of Mitzrayim to prepare themselves for the ultimate sacrifice – giving up their lives al Kiddush Hashem.

The Gemorah in Pesachim [53b] explains that these three tzaddikim learned a kal vac homer from the actions of the frogs during makas tzefardeiah when the frogs jumped into the Egyptian ovens, thereby bringing about their own deaths.

They pondered the fact that the frogs could have fulfilled their obligation by simply jumping around Mitzrayim and making a general nuisance of themselves. Was it really necessary for them to get themselves roasted to death?

After all, they reasoned, frogs don’t have the commandment of Kiddush Hashem, yet they carried their devotion to this extreme. Certainly, Chananyah, Mishael and Azaryah who were obligated to be mekadeish sheim Hashem should be prepared to die al Kiddush Hashem.

I was discussing this subject with my son the other day and we mentioned the classic sefer Nachal Yehuda, written by our great-uncle, where he states that since animals are not baalei bechirah, they do not receive rewards for their acts.

This is puzzling on two accounts: Chananya, Mishael and Azarya seem to assume that an element of free choice was manifest in the manner in which the frogs carried out their shlichus. Otherwise, if they acted purely on instinct, how could the three men have drawn any kind of lesson or inspiration from their acts?

Other instances in the Torah where the pesukim seem to ascribe human attributes and motives to animals come to mind. One example is petter chamor, the mitzvah to redeem the firstborn donkey.

Hakoras Hatov To Donkeys?
Chazal explain: “Why are first- born donkeys set apart from firstborn horses, or firstborn camels? First, because the Torah decreed it so. Second, they helped Am Yisroel during Yetzias Mitzrayim, for there was not a single Jew who did not have 90 Libyan donkeys loaded with the silver and gold of Mitzrayim” (Bechoros 5b).

Chazal are saying that the Torah commanded us to redeem every firstborn donkey for all generations in recognition of the help these animals extended to our forefathers when they were departing Egypt. Stated simply, Chazal are saying that this mitzvah is a way of showing hakaras hatov to the donkeys.

To imprint this lesson on our minds and hearts, the Torah bestows on firstborn donkeys the kedusha of a cheftza shel mitzvah - the sanctity of an object that can be used to perform a mitzvah.
If an animal has no bechirah and thus merits no reward or punishment, why do we reward the donkey for helping us in Mitzrayim?

The dog, too, received a reward for its good behavior toward the Jews who were leaving Egypt. As the posuk says, “Be a holy people to Me. Do not eat flesh torn off by a predator in the field. Cast it to the dogs” (Shemos 22:30).

Rashi, commenting on this posuk, asks: “Why does the Torah specify the dog? To teach that Hashem does not withhold reward from any creature. As it is written, ‘A dog will not even whine to the Jewish People’ (Shemos 11:7) In return, Hashem said, ‘Give [the dog] its reward.’”

The question, once again, is obvious: If an animal has no bechirah and thus earns no reward or punishment, why do we reward the dogs for helping us in Mitzrayim?

A closer examination of the aforementioned Gemorah in Maseches Pesachim may help us understand the lesson derived from the frogs in makkas tzefardeiah, as well as the purpose behind the rewards bestowed on donkeys and dogs. It may also explain Moshe Rabbeinu’s reluctance to strike the water and the earth in the makkos of dam and kinim.

The Anatomy of Greatness
The Gemorah doesn’t actually say that Chananya, Mishael and Azaryah learned a kal vachomer from the tzefardi’im. The Gemorah is discussing Todus ish Romi and asks if he was a gavrah rabbah, a great man, or if he was he a baal egrofin, a tough person who people were scared of.

The Gemorah proves that Todus was a gavrah rabbah because of the way he searched for the source of the mesiras nefesh displayed by Chananya, Mishoel and Azaryah to die al kiddush Hashem. Todus darshened that they derived their sense of obligation from the pesukim that describe the way the tzefardi’im went about their duty in Mitzrayim.

He reasoned that if tzefadi’im which are not commanded to be mekadesh Hashem, carried mesiras nefesh to the hilt, certainly we, who are commanded to be mekadesh Hashem, are obligated to put our lives on the line.

How does the Gemorah deduce from this drasha that Todus was a gavrah rabba? Assuming it is true that animals have no bechirah and thus no reward and punishment, Todus didn’t learn his kal vachomer from the way the frogs actually acted. Rather, he learned his kal vachomer from the way the pesukim describe the frogs’ behavior. From the way the Torah detailed how the frogs swarmed about to every corner of Mitzrayim, Todus determined that there was a lesson to be learned for Jews of all time, including neviim.

A person who examines pesukim so carefully with the aim of deriving inspiration and moral teaching from the stories in the Torah is a gavrah rabba. Someone who can extrapolate such timeless lessons cannot be a baal egrofim.

The salient message is that the precepts commanding us to redeem first born donkeys and to throw the bosor treifah to the dogs are not intended to reward the animals but to teach us a serious lesson.

Moshe Rabbeinu could not turn the Yam Suf into blood during makkas dam, for, as Rashi explains, “The Yam Suf protected Moshe when he was cast into it [as a baby]. For this reason, he did not bring about the makkos of dam or tzefardeiah and they were done instead by Aharon” (Rashi, Shemos 7:19).

Likewise, Moshe Rabbeinu did not strike the ground to bring forth lice in the plague of kinim because, as Rashi explains, the dirt “protected him when he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand” (Rashi, Shemos 8:12).

The Art of Gratitude
Hakoras hatov is a preamble to Torah. We treat donkeys and dogs differently not to reward them for what they did in Mitzrayim, but to train ourselves to acknowledge those who did us favors and express appreciation for those acts of kindness.

The dogs don’t know the difference; neither do the donkeys. The ground wouldn’t have any way of knowing that Moshe struck it, and neither would the Yam Suf. The point is that Moshe himself knew. Striking something to which you are indebted demonstrates ingratitude. Therefore, we treat these inanimate objects with deference.

Chazal say, “Ro’asah shifcha al hayom mah shelo ra’ah Yecheskel ben Boozi...”

The maidservants at Kriyas Yam Suf merited to see the greatest visions of G-d’s wonders, even greater than those of the neviim. How can that be?

In order to be a makir tov, you have to be makir tov. In order to recognize greatness in this world, you need to be a person who is appreciative of the goodness that is out there. You need to be the type of person who appreciates all the good that is in the world. In order to qualify as a nobler kind of person who can perceive the good, you have to first train yourself to express gratitude for the good you have received.

The humblest servants at the time of Yetzias Mitzrayim had absorbed the lesson taught by Moshe Rabbeinu when he couldn’t hurt the inanimate objects that had protected him in his time of need. They had learned that although dirt and water have no feelings or bechirah, we still must show appreciation for the benefits we received from them. And we must draw a lesson from them when warranted.

People who are makir tov to water and sand can learn lessons from frogs as well. Such people are anoshim gedolim, great people. The shifachos al hayom had been so deeply inculcated with lessons from Moshe and his ethical conduct that by the time of Kriyas Yam Suf, they were able to see the gadlus Haboreh in a way never repeated by man.

The ultimate hakoras hatov is to appreciate everything that Hakadosh Boruch Hu placed in this world for our benefit. The epitome of hakoras hatov is to recognize the chassodim that are bestowed upon us by G-d, moment by moment, every day of our lives.

But there is more. The Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer (Perek 7) states, “Why does the Torah punish people who are ungrateful with such severity? Because ingratitude at its core implies the denial of Hashem’s existence; he who denies Hashem’s existence is an ingrate. One day he dismisses the favors his friend has performed for him, and the next day, he dismisses all the good that his Creator has done for him.”

In order to be a good Jew, one must be a good person. Man comes into this world alone and helpless. That dependency is meant to teach him a lesson. We are not alone; we are part of a group and we are all members of one large family. We have no hope of surviving on our own merit or resources. We need people’s favors; we need services other people provide in order to stay alive. Life is sustained by give and take. We have to be prepared to accept the assistance of our fellow men if we are to live a meaningful life.

Kol Yisroel areivim zeh lazeh, but friendship and brotherhood come with obligations. Sometimes you help your friend and sometimes you have to let your friend help you. You cannot live by yourself. Some people have a problem with that because they don’t want to be encumbered with a sense of obligation to anyone. Some would rather experience misery and loneliness than do anything that would produce a feeling of indebtedness to another person.

To be a gavrah rabba you have to be prepared to learn from anyone. As our nation was being formed, that lesson was rigorously instilled along with the imperative to appreciate all we have and all who helped us along the way.

As we enter the month of Yetzias Mitzrayim, let us pause and reflect on all we have to be grateful for. Let us thank and appreciate Hashem for the bounty of blessings he showers upon us daily. Let us thank and appreciate our friends for their friendship and all they have done for us. Let us show gratitude to our parents for investing so much effort in raising us and enabling us to become who we are today; our rabbeim for inspiring us and helping us discover the beauty of Torah learning and the Torah way of life; our teachers for all they taught us.

Let us thank and appreciate our spouses who help us in countless ways that we have come to take for granted especially before Yom Tov; our children, simply for being who they are. Let us not forget all our family members and loved ones.

And yes, let us appreciate and offer thanks for the many, many blessings we barely take note of…the house we live in, the ground we walk on, the air we breathe. Most of all, let us savor the very marvel of being able to walk, talk and breathe—the wonder of life itself.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Elections in Israel are about to take place and we sit by, thousands of miles away, and watch with amazement. The unthinkable is about to take place.

The Israeli people are proud of their image as high achievers, as people of superior intelligence, courage and determination. They take pride in their manifold accomplishments in science, technology and the military sphere.

They made the desert bloom and fought off so many advancing Arab armies. The country is an island of democracy in a sea of despotic regimes. Undeniably, these are remarkable achievements. Yet, at a juncture in history when Israel desperately needs intelligence and moral strength as never before, what we are witnessing is a colossal failure of both.

Next week, the country goes to the voting booth to select a government to rule and lead them politically. The outcome of this election is of critical importance. Israel is faced with mounting dangers and internal problems and the people who win office will have to steer the nation through some formidable crises up ahead.

Right now, it appears as if Ehud Olmert and the Kadima party will be swept into power - a prospect that should trigger consternation in any thinking person. Nobody has much of a grip on what the Kadima party stands for. Ariel Sharon founded it to disentangle himself from his Likud right-wing base; from former supporters who had become totally disillusioned with him.

Sharon didn’t want to be responsible to anyone anymore, so he broke ranks and formed a new party. With promises of power and glory to whoever would accompany him, he won the following of a disparate group of politicians from the left, right and everywhere in between.

Shimon Peres, the Labor champion for decades, left his political home, wooed by Sharon to join Kadima. Stalwart Laborites went along with him, thinking that Kadima was their ticket to a boost in their careers. Right-leaning Likudniks were also swept up by Sharon and traded in their Likud cards for membership in a party whose platform appears to consist of a single doctrine: ambition.

Amazingly, the gambit worked and since its formation, Kadima has controlled the media’s attention and seems to be a shoo-in for a landslide win. And everyone is buying into those polls. Even the people running against Olmert seem to be doing so lackadaisically, as if they are resigned to losing and are just going through the motions.

With so much at stake, how can thinking people take such a dangerous risk by electing a person who has no proven skill in the challenges of high office? With Hamas taking over the Palestinian Authority while maintaining an unwavering commitment to its charter to destroy Israel, how can Israelis elect untested individuals of questionable integrity?

People everywhere want to be associated with a winner. People want to be seen supporting a winning team. Thus, the polls have a way of propelling a self-fulfilling prophecy. As long as Olmert emerges as a frontrunner in the polls, Israelis will be increasingly persuaded to vote for him - irrespective of his lack of merit. Sensing that his election is inevitable, people want to be sure they voted for the winning candidate.

In America, too, the media exposes its bias and promotes its favorite candidates in ways designed to elicit support for them. Often it works, though not always. Take a look at President Bush’s poll numbers which seem to slip farther south every passing day.

Bush went to war in Iraq three years ago to combat a brutal dictator who was bent on wreaking havoc on the United States, Israel and other nations. He unleashed a war on terror and tried to awaken the nations of the world to the dangers presented by terror-supporting states such as Iraq.

Now, three years later, after a steady drumbeat of negative reporting and news-spinning, the American people are purportedly fed up with the war. It doesn’t matter that the party that ran in the past election against the war went down to defeat, and it doesn’t matter that rallies declared to coincide with the anniversary of the war’s launch fizzled out with an embarrassingly weak showing.

The media’s coverage of these demonstrations is highly misleading. They misrepresent their true size. Citizens are fed a daily diet of news informing them that a majority of the country is up in arms about the war and this psychological tactic works. People begin questioning the purpose of the war and joining ranks with the opposition.

People lose their ability to think for themselves; they get caught up following the crowd. Everyone is doing it, everyone is saying it, and you don’t want to be the last guy on the block still wearing black plastic eyeglass frames.

Sometimes we need to be reminded to have faith in our convictions. We have to bear in mind that it is not always important to be popular. We must have the moral courage to stand up for what we believe, even if our side will not be winning elections any time soon.

A true winner is not swayed by the ideas of the times, nor does he bend his beliefs to conform to the prevalent zeitgeist, even if sticking to his guns makes him appear to be a loser. The real loser is the one who has no courage, who bends with the wind and has no core beliefs he is ready to sacrifice for.

We cannot fall victim to apathy. We cannot let the media dictate our beliefs. We have to muster the willpower to penetrate the smoke and mirrors that suck in the masses.

One is reminded of a poignant moment in Israeli public life when Sharon, suffering a life-threatening stroke, was being raced to the hospital. An Israeli newscaster reported that President Bush had “offered his prayers to the Israeli people that the One Above” would help their leader recover.

The newscaster then described how “flickering television lights could be seen in windows all across the nation throughout the night, as the Israeli people sat glued to the news. All eyes in Israel are now turned…”

There was a dramatic pause. One almost expected the words “…turned Heavenward…” Perhaps the Israeli people would finally get it?

“All eyes in Israel are turned… to the hospital where the foremost neurosurgeons in the country are in charge of the prime minister…,” the newscaster somberly intoned.

Let us strengthen ourselves in our knowledge that Hashem holds the reins of history in His hands and that to the extent that we place our trust in Him, we will merit salvation - even from what appears to be a near-hopeless situation.

Rather than fall prey to apathy, fatalism or self-serving causes, let us remain idealistic Bnei Torah dedicated to the ideals and values of Torah. Let us remember that at the end of the day, elections, political intrigues and world events are merely veils masking the working of Hashgacha.

May we merit to make the proper choices so that we are instrumental in bringing about the final geulah, may it come speedily in our days.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Purim is not only a fantastically happy Yom Tov; it also is an eye-opening one. It sings the praises of the Jewish people, if only one is listening.

Here’s how you can attune yourself to hearing this message on Purim: Go around raising money for a pet cause and you can only be amazed at the response. Though some may complain that Purim fundraising has gotten out of hand, Jews still respond. People sit in their homes and write check after check for tzedokos of all kinds. The doorbell doesn’t stop ringing, groups continue prancing in, and the money continues to flow.

Young, idealistic people plead their causes with serious eyes and heartfelt words. They can’t take no for an answer. They have no idea how many checks you’ve written that day, they have no idea how much you have at your disposal, nor do they care. It’s none of their business. They are out to raise money for a good cause and ring in a bit of Purim cheer while they’re at it.

There is no bigger source of cheer than to witness the generosity of spirit with which the Jewish people are blessed. They respond with their hearts, souls and pocketbooks when called upon to aid others in distress. The amount of tzedakah that people give on Purim and throughout the year is phenomenal.

Mi K’amcha Yisroel.

On Purim we feel it more than all year around, because on this day we know the meter is running. We have 24 hours to encompass so much; to be b’simcha and to be mesameiach. As we go through the day taking special care to observe its mitzvos, we meet new people, make new friends and re-connect with old ones. We are introduced to worthy causes and recruit others to causes we believe in.

We go from one address to the next, looking for converts to our charity before time runs out. We shlep our children from rebbi to rebbi and teacher to teacher with one eye on the road and one on the watch. There is so much to accomplish in just a few hours. The special simcha that permeates the day seems to grease the wheels; somehow it all hangs together.

Perhaps the challenge is to capture in our day-to-day lives the urgent sense of a one-time opportunity that we associate with Purim—the chance to do good, to increase and spread happiness and G-dliness in this world. Not only Purim—every day is a pure gift from G-d—an opportunity to grow, learn and rise to a challenge.

And just as on Purim we ran around doing the mitzvos hayom with boundless energy; just as on Purim we gave and gave and when we thought we were done we gave a little more; so we must stretch our material and spiritual resources every day. When we’ve pushed and pulled and extracted every bit of ability and talent we have in carrying out our obligations, we will merit the eternal blessings promised to the eternal people.

What is the connection between Purim and masks? Why is the practice of altering one’s appearance so central to the holiday?

Purim is a day upon which we put everything else aside and spend the day in revelry and high spirits. To do this, we must mask a part of our lives—the facets that are disappointing or painful or too somber. We subjugate these tendencies to the mitzvah of simcha and mishteh. For people who can accomplish this feat, simcha shines from them with a new radiance.

Perhaps through the influence of yayin they gain a new perspective on life. They realize that they can set aside whatever involvements are consuming them. Whatever pressures are sapping their attention and energy can all be put on hold, for at least a day. And thus they smile.

A person thus acquires a new face, a new perspective—a mask. The trick is to keep that mask on for longer than one day. The lesson of Purim is to hold on to that fresh perspective after the yayin has worn off and after the last mishloach manos has been eaten. Keep your priorities straight: remember what is toful and what is ikar. Remember that whatever you do, do it with a smile. On
Purim and all year round.

Ah gantz yuhr freilach.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I had been wanting to go to Eretz Yisroel for a while, but every week there was a different reason I couldn’t go. Boruch Hashem, last Wednesday, things fell into place, and thanks to an accommodating wife and family, I was able to take advantage of a last-minute opportunity to spend Shabbos in the Holy Land. I threw a few things into my carry-on bag and was on my way.

I was sitting in the airport speaking to my wife on my cell phone when an elderly gentleman sat down next to me. With a patch over his left eye, he didn’t notice that I was talking on the phone and began speaking to me. “How do I look?” he asked in heavily accented English. I wasn’t sure how to respond. He needed help to walk, couldn’t hear well and was blind in one eye.

I told him that he looked quite fine to me and that I hoped that whatever the problem with his eye was, he should have a refuah sheleima.

He smiled and said, “Let me tell you how I look. I look at Hitler; ich bin nuch doo. He took me away as a youngster to der lager. He took my wife to Auschwitz for three years, un geb ah kook, how do I look? I lived here 50 years, I have children, grandchildren. At my age, I am about to go to Israel. That’s how I look like. Boruch Hashem I can go; Boruch Hashem I am here. Frages vegen altz, ich bin doo. That’s how I am looking at it. They tried so many times in my lifetime to get rid of us and now they are trying again. But we are still here.”

Teshuosom hayisah lanetzach v’sikvosom bechol dor vador.

An old, crippled, partially blind Czechoslovakian holocaust survivor understands it. Shouldn’t we as well?

As I took my seat on the plane, my seatmate gave me dirty looks and refused to answer when I put on a smile and said “shalom.” I didn’t take it personally. After all, his flight was ruined because he had to sit next to someone who wears a black hat. But it does hurt to meet people so far removed from Yiddishkeit that they are revolted by people like us.

I felt like asking him how I look, but it was to be a long flight and I wasn’t keen on making a bad thing worse. He was an unhappy fellow, I observed. My being there didn’t cause his ill humor, though it certainly added to it for the duration of the 9-hour trip. Poor guy.

While visiting Israel, you never know who you will meet or what they will say. There is so much that can be learned about our people and our way of life there, it is most enlightening.

Israelis are stereotyped as cantankerous and always being in a rush. The truth is surprisingly different - people there have an innate calmness. They are less hassled than people here. The rat race does not dominate their lives as it does here. You don’t see masses of people rushing to and from work. Even people who work don’t seem to be in any particular rush. Storekeepers can be in the middle of a transaction, but if they have somewhere to go, they say “slicha” and close up shop.

People there have an instinctive trust that all will turn out well. Many of them have been through so much and have seen that despite all the difficulties, the country continues to grow and flourish. You meet people who have been through one war after another, through terrorist bombings, through hunger and years of deprivation, and despite it all, they persevere. You enter a taxi and ask the bare-headed driver how things are and he answers, “Todah l’Keil.” The knowledge that they live in a country which “einey Hashem elokecha bo mereisishis hashana v’ad acharis shana is omnipresent.

Americans who visit for a week and can barely speak the language are smitten and talk of moving there one day. Besides the attraction that Eretz Yisroel has for every Jew, there is an indefinable core of calmness one doesn’t experience at home in the exile.

When Yom Tov comes, they have time to prepare for it. You walk in the street and feel the chag in a way you never can around here. Jews from all over the world are drawn by it, and flock there for Yomim Tovim. In fact, flights and hotels are already booked solid for Sukkos.

With Purim around the corner, Jews in Eretz Yisroel give it serious thought and sheloshim yom kodem hachag they ponder the upcoming holiday and its meaning. They treat the chiyuv to be marbin b’simcha with utmost seriousness.

In fact, while in Yerushalayim this past Shabbos, I found myself grappling with several novel questions posed to me by people I met there.

Someone pointed out that we have an obligation to be marbeh b’simcha on rosh chodesh Adar. Inasmuch as the month of Adar starts on the second day of rosh chodesh, the first day of rosh Chodesh Adar is not in the month of Adar, it’s the last day of Shvat.

Is there then an obligation to increase happiness on that day, or does the chiyuv begin on the second day of rosh chodesh—which is when Adar actually begins?

When Chazal say marbin b’simcha, what did they mean? Is it a mitzva to increase our level of happiness? If it is a mitzvah how do we know when we have generated enough simcha to fulfill our obligation? Every mitzva has a shiur; if the marbin b’simcha is an obligation then it ought to have a defined measurement.

By contrast, on Yom Tov when there is a mitzvah d’oraiosah of simcha, the gemorah and poskim define what is meant by that obligation. Where is the mitzvah of Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha defined?

In Yerushalayim, they think about Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha and wonder how they can fulfill their obligations. They ponder when precisely the obligation begins, although they know that tov lev mishteh sumid, they take seriously the chiyuv of the added simcha and wonder what they have to do to be yotzeh their chiyuv.

They think about Mishenichnas Adar marbin b’simcha and wonder how they can fulfill their obligations. They ponder when precisely the obligation begins, although they know that tov lev mishteh somid; they take the chiyuv of the added simcha seriously and wonder what they have to do to be yotzeh their chiyuv.

People in Eretz Yisroel have much less money than most people here; many frum families live in cramped small apartments, yet you never hear them complain. They can have ten children and live in a 2-bedroom apartment and they are happy with their lot.

Yes, there are exceptions; there are plenty of people who are happy here, and there are people there who have a difficult time bearing their loads, but the general ruach there is a feeling of being content with less.

There is nothing like a Shabbos in Yerushalayim, especially when it starts off Friday evening at the Kosel Hama’arovi, in the company of thousands of Jews of all stripes. Every daled amos that you walk, you find yourself in a different minyan with a different dialect and a different nusach. It is overwhelming to take in the sight and to be part of it. Jews stream towards the s’rid beis Elokeinu from all directions and unfailingly find themselves a minyan in which they feel comfortable.

As you walk between minyanim and hear the different nuschaos and niggunim change every few steps, it is almost like flipping through radio stations. The difference is that here all the stations are tuned to the same frequency. The different voices join together as they rise up to Heaven and form a symphony of prayer. The sounds of the Sefardim with their special tunes and minhagim unite with the Yerushalmis in their golden coats, as the Chassidim dance to tunes of Lecha Dodi.

Like many of you, I enjoy listening to music but find it difficult to find good new CDs here. When in Yerushalayim, I make it my business to go into Gal Paz in Geulah where the nice boy behind the counter, whose name, I think, is Dahnny, supplies me with nice Sefardic music. They never fail to touch my soul.

This time I walked out with a recording of traditional Sefardic tefillot. There is one song which especially moved me. It works much better in Hebrew, but the translations of the words are as follows: “There are those who dream of luxury and abundance. There are some who want to be rich instantly. I am a simple person and this is what I want from life. I found myself a comfortable corner and this is all I request: Give me love in my heart and let me be happy; give me a good soul and a heart that only forgives…Give me the strength to only remember the good and to forget the bad.”

The traditional song kept on playing in my head. “Ani adam pashut, ten li ahava balev, tein lehiyot sameach.” The secret of simcha - take it from the old Sefardim – is to look for the good, and aim for a heart full of love and forgiveness. There is no time better to start than right now.

That’s the way to look if you want to be makayeim the dictum of being marbeh simcha.

How should I look? How do I look?

Before I knew it, the trip was over and it was time to get back on the plane for the eleven-hour-and-thirty-one-minute flight back home. It is truly miraculous when you think about it, even though we take the miracle of flight for granted, but that’s a subject for another article.

Purim Someach.