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.”