Musings from an Orthodox Jewish work at home mom of twins with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Archive for the ‘Rabbi Abraham Twerksi’ Category

Rabbi Twerski: Letters To My Children

I COULD and will, at some point, blog about the fact that Fred has been suspended three days in the past month (and had another major incident that didn’t lead to suspension), and that these incidents didn’t lead to a new FBA/BIP before suspension and that I’ve got an emergency IEP meeting coming where I’ll ask for a one on one aide for him (and likely be told no)…. but I’m truly not in the mood.  I wasn’t GOING to blog during this get ready for Pesach kind of week, but my 10:00 pm Sunday phone appointment got rescheduled for tomorrow, and the rest of the house is asleep, so……  I choose to blog about Rabbi Twerski.  I’ve been wanting to share snippets of my favorite books on this blog and bit by bit I will.

These snippets are from Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.’s “Letters To My Children”.  Things I want to remember and refer back to.

The Incident of The Whirlpool: As a medical director of a psych hospital, Rabbi Twerski was on constant call.  He had a two week vacation and decided on Hot Springs, Arkansas— no sight-seeing, no adventures, just REST.  He got into a whirlpool bath, and sat for…. five minutes.  He was told that the treatment was twenty five minutes.  He could not tolerate the peace and quiet and being alone with himself for more than five minutes.  “In your whirlpool, you were deprived of all possible diversions.  There was nothing to read, nothing to watch, nothing to listen to, and no one to talk to.  Being stripped of all diversions, you were left in the immediate company of yourself.  You were alone in a tiny room with someone you don’t like very much.  No wonder you were miserable.”  (negative self worth)

“I have often said, only half in jest, that there are four essentials to human life:  1) food and water, 2) clothing, 3) shelter, and 4) someone to blame.”  (accepting responsibility)

“…The salesman saw that the peasant had put the suit on over his farmer’s clothes and said, ‘My friend, you have to take off your old clothes.  No suit will fit properly if you wear it on top of your old clothes.’  We might wonder why we have difficulty achieving an enduring simchah.  It is because we are trying to put it on top of our former concept of simchah.  …….. we may better understand simchah by contrasting it with its opposite.  the opposite of simchah is despair.”  (on simchah)

“R’ Samson Raphael Hirsch made an important observation.  R’ Hirsch, among others, contends that when two Hebrew words are similar, their meanings are somehow related.  The words samei’ach (happiness) and tzomei’ach (growth) are almost identical.  This means that simchah requires growth.  There is a seed of simchah within every person that can be developed into happiness, but like a delicate plant, it must be cared for and given adequate water and nutrition.  Only then can it sprout.” (on simchah)

His third grade teacher speaking with him years later….. “Then I said to your mother, ‘Mrs. Twerski, I was sure that you were going to reprimand me for putting Abraham in that play.’ Your mother said, ‘If what we have given him at home is not strong enough to resist the effects of a non-Jewish holiday play, then we have totally failed’.”  (on public school– resistance to non Jewish influences)

More to come— this is a great book.

Self Improvement? – I’m Jewish!

Something new I want to start doing on this blog is making note of specific concepts/ stories/ gleanings I’m getting from books I’m reading. You’ll notice that books I read are about Judaism, autism, or business. First up is a Jewish book: Self Improvement? – I’m Jewish! by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D. (LOVE this Rabbi—- a psychiatrist AND a Rabbi. An Orthodox Jewish professional who approves of secular education, and mental illness not being hidden due to potential shidduch concerns).

On prayer: “There is a story about a person who, beginning weeks before Passover, laboriously cleaned his house for the festival, and cleansed his kitchen from chometz to the point of surgical sterility. On the last day of Passover he discovered that in the well from which he had drawn his water during all of Passover there was a loaf of bread floating on the surface. Broken hearted, he asked his rabbi why he had fallen victim to this transgression, especially since he had exerted so much effort and energy to avoid chometz. The rabbi explained, ‘the prevalence of chometz all year round makes it physically impossible to eliminate it totally be unaided human effort. You tried very hard indeed, but you forgot to pray to G-d to make your efforts successful. Had you prayed for Divine assistance, then all the work you had done would have been blessed. By failing to pray, you indicated that you thought you could do it yourself, and so you were shown that you were wrong.”

On teshuvah: “Rambam states that proper teshuvah is achieved when G-d will testify that this person will never again repeat the sinful act. This statement elicited a question from many commentaries, that inasmuch as the Divine foreknowledge does not determine a person’s behavior, and a person always has complete freedom to choose to do either right or wrong, how can G-d testify that someone will never again do a particular sin? This appears to contradict the principle of total free will. I was provided with the answer to this by a man who delivered a talk on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his sobriety. He said ‘the man I once was drank, and the man I once was will drink again. I am sober today because I am not the same person who drank. If I ever go back to being that person, I will drink again.'”

On community: “The Torah states that Israel will be so strong that five of you will pursue one hundred of your enemies, and one hundred of you will pursue then thousand. Rashi notes that these figures are not mathematically correct, because if five pursue one hundred, the ration is then that one hundred will pursue two thousand, rather than ten thousand. Rashi answers that there is strength in numbers, and that the relationship is exponential rather than linear. Five may subdue one hundred, but one hundred people working together can triumph over ten thousand. Individuals involved in altering a self-destructive lifestyle should therefore seek each other out and work together toward their common goal.”

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