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#Wellness

“I’ve always wanted to be in the health and wellness business. I try to encourage people to live a healthy lifestyle.” – Mark Wahlberg

This week’s Parsha, Mikeitz in a nutshell from www.chabad.org

Joseph’s imprisonment finally ends when Pharaoh dreams of seven fat cows that are swallowed up by seven lean cows, and of seven fat ears of grain swallowed by seven lean years. Joseph interprets the dreams to mean that seven years of plenty will be followed by seven years of hunger, and advises Pharaoh to store grain during the plentiful years. Pharaoh appoints Joseph governor of Egypt. Joseph marries Asenath, daughter of Potiphar, and they have two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 

Famine spreads throughout the region, and food can be obtained only in Egypt. Ten of Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt to purchase grain; the youngest, Benjamin, stays home, for Jacob fears for his safety. Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they do not recognize him; he accuses them of being spies, insists that they bring Benjamin to prove that they are who they say they are, and imprisons Simeon as a hostage. Later, they discover that the money they paid for their provisions has been mysteriously returned to them.

Jacob agrees to send Benjamin only after Judah assumes personal and eternal responsibility for him. This time Joseph receives them kindly, releases Simeon, and invites them to an eventful dinner at his home. But then he plants his silver goblet, purportedly imbued with magic powers, in Benjamin’s sack. When the brothers set out for home the next morning, they are pursued, searched, and arrested when the goblet is discovered. Joseph offers to set them free and retain only Benjamin as his slave.


It has been a while since my last Blog, apologies to all those who have missed my Blogs. With the year coming to an end, lots of people have New Year resolutions or commentators come out with predictions for the new year. As someone who loves a #healthylifestyle, MindBodyGreen’s trend for 2018 has caught my eye.

In 2017, the definition of “wellness” shifted. At mindbodygreen, we know that wellness is bigger than any individual’s journey. We are banding together to heal one another, our communities, and the planet. …., and so is our new mantra, one we hope will illuminate the way to a better, brighter 2018: You. We. All.”

 Being Chanukah, I thought I would share a thought than links in with these themes of wellness. The miracle of Chanukah is not just about a little bit of oil lasting eight days. It is about the inner healing light within each of us. Chanukah is a time when we can celebrate this inner healing light as we move toward wellness. Chanukah is also about the miracle of survival against all odds, about hope, courage and belief in one’s ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles[1]. What I really liked in the article was a list of wellness thoughts for each night of Chanukah:

First night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our bodies.

Second night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our minds.

Third night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our souls.

Fourth night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our children.

Fifth night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our parents.

Sixth night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our communities.

Seventh night:

…, we light this candle for the restoration of health and wellness to those who are ill, suffering, or grieving.

Eighth night:

…, we light this candle for the health and wellness of our world.

Michaela - Flying Fox 2.jpgWe are all very critical of the Millennials and there is a lot written about their attitude to work, friends, relationships, technology, religion etc. BUT what amazes me about the millennials that goes against so much that is written about them is that the Millennials have become more “civic-minded” with a strong sense of community both local and global. They are socially aware and care for the wellness of others and the world. Over the last few years, I have watched the growth of the youth-led organisation, Flying Fox. Flying Fox is a network of fun and life-changing opportunities that connect people with a disability and the community. This year I was very proud of my daughter, Michaela and a few of her school buddies who volunteered as “buddies” on their Camp Sababa. Camp Sababa Junior is a camp for 8-16 year olds with special needs. Campers are supported by Flying Fox trained year-12 graduates and professional support staff on the camps that have the aim of providing kids with the most fun time. Well done Flying Fox team and Michaela.

GP_82Birthday_PLANK4PLAYER-copy-1600x807There is so much that can be written on wellness, but I would like to share a thought on a true ‘wellness warrior’, Gary Player. Gary has a passion for health, fitness, wellness and nutrition and has pioneered the way the modern golfers prepare themselves for tour golf. Gary is showing us by example how to remain ‘ageless’. I noticed on the Wellness Wednesday! Podacst[2], that in honour of Gary’s 82nd birthday people are planking for 82 seconds when they wake up in the morning and posting to Instagram & Twitter #Plank4Player – Go Gary!

#plank4player • Instagram photos and videosAs we come to the end of each year we need to spend some time on reflecting on the past year and planning for the new year. What is your wellness plan for the new year?

“It’s time to use the incredible practices we have established to make the world a better place for ourselves, our children, and our planet. Here’s to a progressive 2018!” – MindBodyGreen

[1] http://mochajuden.com/?tag=chanukah

[2] http://debbienigro.com/wellness-wednesday-mikes-organic-delivery-and-gary-player/

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Autism Speaks

..sometimes, the greatest dreams are the ones your heart fears.” – RM Drake[1]

This week’s Parsha Chaya Sara in nutshell from www.chabad.org

Sarah dies at age 127 and is buried in the Machpelah Cave in Hebron, which Abraham purchases from Ephron the Hittite for four hundred shekels of silver.

Abraham’s servant Eliezer is sent, laden with gifts, to Charan, to find a wife for Isaac. At the village well, Eliezer asks G‑d for a sign: when the maidens come to the well, he will ask for some water to drink; the woman who will offer to give his camels to drink as well shall be the one destined for his master’s son. 

Rebecca, the daughter of Abraham’s nephew Bethuel, appears at the well and passes the “test.” Eliezer is invited to their home, where he repeats the story of the day’s events. Rebecca returns with Eliezer to the land of Canaan, where they encounter Isaac praying in the field. Isaac marries Rebecca, loves her, and is comforted over the loss of his mother.

Abraham takes a new wife, Keturah (Hagar), and fathers six additional sons, but Isaac is designated as his only heir. Abraham dies at age 175 and is buried beside Sarah by his two eldest sons, Isaac and Ishmael.


 

Out on my bike ride on Sunday, I was reflecting on a Drosha that I had read on Parsha Vayeira and had shared with my family at the Shabbat table. A few things had brought me to reflecting on this including a presentation on Asperger’s in the workplace at the Institute of Chartered Accountants, advertising at David Jones for a new hand cream promoting the charity Autism Speaks and TV programs such as Atypical[2] (on Netflix) and The Good Doctor[3].

In last week’s Parsha, the Torah describes how Avraham rushed to prepare a meal for his guests, the angels, and tells us that they ate while he “stood over them under the tree” (18:8). In a Drosha from Rav David Silverberg[4] he says that the angels came to Avraham to deliver the message that Sara would soon conceive, and this necessitated their descent into this world and acting as human beings, partaking of a lavish meal.  This resulted in a “vacancy” in the heavens, as their heavenly roles went unfulfilled.  Therefore, Avraham “stood over them” – he rose to the heavens to serve the angels’ roles.  As they had come to earth and acted like human beings, Avraham rose to the heavens to fill the roles which the angels would normally have filled.

Rav David Silverberg says that just as these angels were sent away from the heavens, far from their normal surroundings, to engage in our world, similarly, we human beings are capable of extending beyond our familiar “worlds” and reaching higher.  Too often, we assume that we are who we are, that we are restricted to our current lifestyle, routine, habits, character and religious standards. Amazing Race presenter, Phil Keoghan in a Podcast[5] called this a “Mental Leap”. “Because you have taken a mental leap with something that is quite primal and quite physical, you’re more likely to take another challenge.” – Phil Keoghan

Write about the emotions you fear the most.” ― Laurie Halse Anderson

After hearing an author tell me he had failed English, I told Michaela that once she is finished her VCE exam, it is up to her to reach higher or do things that she never thought that she was capable of. She is going to have to morph from this life as a school student – Good Luck!

It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a child with autism to raise the consciousness of the village,” Coach Elaine Hall

BUT, what I was thinking on my bike was how Sam had in effect swapped roles this week at school. Throughout his learning and schooling, he has had to be helped and supported by his teachers, aides and school friends. This process has not been easy for us, and as we have learnt it has not been easy for him. There are so many things that he battles with – Sam loves to socialise, but battles socialising. Over the last few weeks as he has learnt more about his condition, Sam, the school and us have been working towards Sam talking to the boys in his year level about his ‘trials’. Last week Sam swapped roles and became the teacher. Sam made a PowerPoint presentation about his condition and what he battles with. I wish I had a YouTube video of his speech that was apparently brilliant, but I will share the actual PowerPoint[6].

On the side, walking in David Jones on Friday I noticed this display for a hand cream with the wrapping designed by actor Matthew McConaughey in aid of an organisation, Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.

So often when thinking of a blog, I come across so much material on the topic including a brilliant 20-minute short film[7] titled “Jeremy the Dud”, the new short film that flips disability on its head. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFcFpWzIQNk While ‘Jeremy the Dud’ takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to subverting the typical stigma and judgement that people with disability may face on a daily basis, at its core has a beautifully heartfelt message.

Lewis - Untitled-design-54During the month of November, men are asked to make a more conscious effort to improve ‘their’ health. This is diet, physical and mental health. Men need to ‘swap’ their roles or as Lewis Howes[8] says, “Unmask their masculinity”. I listened to a brilliant Podcast[9] with Lewis on unmasking masculinity and another brilliant Podcast[10] with Movember founder Justin Coghlan (“JC”) on The Men’s Health Crisis, Mustaches & How To Save A Life.

The story of the angels thus challenges us to set our sights higher, to carefully examine what we perceive as our limits, and see which of these boundaries we are capable of breaking in the pursuit of greater achievements.” – Rav David Silverberg

To end a quote[11] from golfer Ernie Els’s wife Lizl “Ernie’s relationship with (his Autistic son) Ben has gone from, ‘What am I going to do with this kid?’ to ‘When can I spend time with him again?‘” she said. “It’s been a beautiful evolution.”

Watching our kids grow and change has been an evolution!

NOTE: Rav David Silverberg brings another beautiful idea to this week’s Parsha, which is worth reading[12] “…Just as Rivka’s family was shown that Rivka was, in fact, chosen for the distinction and challenge of joining Avraham’s family, we, too, may at times be shown that we are capable of more than we had previously thought.”

[1] https://twitter.com/rmdrk?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atypical

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good_Doctor_(TV_series)

[4] https://mizrachi.org/breaking-glass-ceiling/

[5] http://theforwardpodcast.libsyn.com/phil-keoghan

[6] https://www.dropbox.com/s/cnd402pyaxbnwi2/171107%20-%20PowerPoint%20-%20About%20me%20and%20how%20you%20can%20help%20version%202.pptx?dl=0

[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFcFpWzIQNk

[8] https://twitter.com/LewisHowes?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

[9] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/lewis-howes-3/

[10] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/jc-of-movember-on-the-mens-health-crisis-mustaches-how-to-save-a-life

[11] Read more: http://www.afr.com/lifestyle/health/ernie-els-discovers-his-inner-voice-is-quietened-by-a-son-slow-to-speak-20160613-gphwui#

[12] http://etzion.org.il/en/salt-sunday-16-cheshvan-5778-november-5-2017

5778: A Year of Great Expectations

5778: A Year of Great Expectations[1]

 “From time to time you think someone is hitting with a baseball beneath your knees and you just want to drop out, …” – Patrick Lange – Winner Kona Ironman 2017

Parsha (Torah Portion) Noah in a nutshell from www.chabad.org

G‑d instructs Noah—the only righteous man in a world consumed by violence and corruption—to build a large wooden teivah (“ark”), coated within and without with pitch. A great deluge, says G‑d, will wipe out all life from the face of the earth; but the ark will float upon the water, sheltering Noah and his family, and two members (male and female) of each animal species. 

Rain falls for 40 days and nights, and the waters churn for 150 days more before calming and beginning to recede. The ark settles on Mount Ararat, and from its window Noah dispatches a raven, and then a series of doves, “to see if the waters were abated from the face of the earth.” When the ground dries completely—exactly one solar year (365 days) after the onset of the Flood—G‑d commands Noah to exit the teivah and repopulate the earth.

Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifices to G‑d. G‑d swears never again to destroy all of mankind because of their deeds, and sets the rainbow as a testimony of His new covenant with man. G‑d also commands Noah regarding the sacredness of life: murder is deemed a capital offense, and while man is permitted to eat the meat of animals, he is forbidden to eat flesh or blood taken from a living animal. 

Noah plants a vineyard and becomes drunk on its produce. Two of Noah’s sons, Shem and Japheth, are blessed for covering up their father’s nakedness, while his third son, Ham, is punished for taking advantage of his debasement.

The descendants of Noah remain a single people, with a single language and culture, for ten generations. Then they defy their Creator by building a great tower to symbolize their own invincibility; G‑d confuses their language so that “one does not comprehend the tongue of the other,” causing them to abandon their project and disperse across the face of the earth, splitting into seventy nations. 

The Parshah of Noach concludes with a chronology of the ten generations from Noah to Abram (later Abraham), and the latter’s journey from his birthplace of Ur Casdim to Charan, on the way to the land of Canaan.


Not planning to do my normal post-race Blog, my daughter Michaela commented that my Melbourne Marathon race number, 5778 is the current Jewish year. In Shule (synagogue) on this past Sabbath, Rabbi Noam Sendor commented that we all need to look back at this ‘marathon’ of Jewish festivals and take some inspiration, meaning and life lessons etc.

 “There is a quote in the Talmud that ‘when a mitzvah comes your way, run to do it at the first opportunity.’”

Many people have the custom that straight after Yom Kippur they start to put up their Sukkah to fulfil the quote above, but what else did I learn from this mitzvah? The goal of Sukkot is to take the spiritual experience of Yom Kippur and bring it down to the reality in which we live and to make it part of our everyday routine. If we hum and we ha, we do nothing.

A race is very different experience to a training run. It is a bit of a spiritual experience, and while the memories are fresh in my mind, I need to try bringing this experience into my training and planning or setting a goal for my next challenge?

After a tough training year and my forced break from training, I did not set a very high goal for this race. Normally, I potentially over-train for an event to make sure I am 110% prepared, but I was way more relaxed in my training and the pace I set in my training runs.

Before the race, I said to my mate Anthony Barnett that I was planning to run in the 3:40 or 3:50 group. He said that I was crazy and should join him and his running mate Neda Nahemoff in the 3:30 train. I had not really done a training run at 5mins/km pace or tested this pace on a run? “Embrace courage. // Crush life” – Robyn NYC  – So, against my better judgement I joined them and will share my experience and lessons:

  • Following a bad plan” – Matt Frazier (The No Meat Athlete[1]) – I think that this was key to me doing the time that I did start slowly and built up to a good steady pace rather than racing out the blocks. I have noticed that since coming back from my forced break that I have been able to hold a certain pace, but have battled when the pace speeds up or people surge. This I think was my undoing with about 3km’s to go. I am sure as my base builds I will get stronger, but understand that this all takes time and patience.
  • Even champs have a bad day – In Lance Armstrong’s Stages Podcast[2] that was a race re-cap of the Kona Ironman. In the podcast, Lance said that the previous year’s winner, Jan Frodeno was this year’s hero. Jan was reduced to stretching on the side of the road and walking 5km’s into the run. BUT he pushed on, finished, ‘honoured’ the race and his fellow competitors. (See Instagram post[3])Frodeno floor

 “It was a downright awful day,” he admitted. “Just when you think you’ve got this race figured out, it does a 180 on you and I guess it’s a tradition of our sport. So many guys out there are still fighting and fighting for a long time and it was my first taste of what some of the age groupers get to feel. Again, my respect for you guys has grown.” – Jan Frodeno

So what does this have to do with my experience… Well. At about 13km’s Anthony Barnett who has 10 x more experience than me, needed a toilet stop and said that he would catch up to us. Neda and I kept hoping that Ant would catch us, but unfortunately, he had a very bad day, and was unable to catch us, which was disappointing to us and very upsetting for Ant, but he persevered… You just never know how your body is going to respond on race day. No training or experience can prepare you for this…

  • On route, Neda’s neighbour and family were cheering her on, which was very exciting for her on her first marathon (Family – I was not expecting to see you, so don’t feel guilty). Neda ran so consistently and was able to pull away from me in the last few km’s and run under 3:30. Bumping into her neighbour the next morning at the pool, he said that Neda is very headstrong. So much to do with an endurance event is in the mind. I don’t think we fully understand how powerful our minds are and what we are capable of. (Yip I am thinking of David Goggins[4]).

“If you have ANY mental toughness, if you have any fraction of self-discipline; The ability to not want to do it, but still do it; If you can get through to doing things that you hate to do: on the other side is GREATNESS” – David Goggins

  • With about 6-8km’s to go in the race, I suddenly got so bloated (GI Issues). I was able to push on, but it is not very comfortable. “Unfortunately, what can result from a focused attempt to obtain carbohydrate calories for high fuel needs, is that your stomach becomes overfull and does not empty quickly or comfortably[5].” For years, I have been trying to get off the sport brand products without much success. Post-race on the Stages Podcast, I was listening to Lance’s discussions with triathlon greats, Mark Allen and Dave Scott. Dave provided unbelievable insights on nutrition and discussed these GI issues. Hopefully, with what I have learnt from the race and the advice of experts I am hoping this will put me in a better position for my next race. The answer may be avoiding sports bars and using salt tablets?
  • I noticed that there is a high correlation between highly structured training program prepared by an expert and race performance. I must congratulate some of IMG_1999my running buddies who followed these ‘crazy’ training programs an achieved unbelievable PB’s – Well done Daniel, Danny, Mark & Barak. Len B, you have inspired us all this year and I hope your injury is not too serious. What was just as inspiring was seeing so many Team Bear runners doing the Marathon. Well done to you all, especially first-time runner Evan Nathanson. There is one other person I need to congratulate – Adrian Godlewicz. I would not say he runs with us, as with a turn of speed he leaves us in his wake. Adrian has been very reluctant to do an organised race, so I was very surprised to see him at the start (he entered a few days before the race), but with his immense talent he was able to do his first marathon under 3hours.
  • Slightly off the topic, but very important is to thank people who have supported, guided and loved you during your training – Thanks, Loren. I have recently heard a few Podcasts featuring Esther Perel. Esther is an author, a psychotherapist and a self-described expert in relationships and sexuality. As an athlete, we can sometimes get selfish and forget about our family and spouses. One lesson I learnt from a recent Esther Perel Podcast with Mia Freedman[6], was that she said that what ‘turns a woman on’ is when she is removed from her ‘responsibility’ as a wife and a mother. So, as a husband, it is not about ‘helping’ with the dishes etc. , but taking ‘responsibility’ for the dishes, removing this burden from our spouses and giving them time to think about themselves and do something for themselves without this burden of ‘responsibility’.

To end a quote from Rabbi Meir Sendor[7] for the year ahead “May we all be blessed for the year ahead … – for a year of healing, prosperity, inspiration, creativity and closeness to Hashem and to each other.” Plus with good health, a healthy lifestyle and improved performance. BUT we need to remember that most of us will settle back into our routines, perhaps relieved that the Yom Tovs and marathons are over. So before you get too comfortable, remember all those resolutions, those goals and those ideas.

I just had to re-end with a lesson from Matt Frazier on the mistakes runners make “Actually, you know another big mistake people make? This one is sort of different… It’s that they don’t think running a marathon is possible for them. They think it takes a certain type of person to be able to run 26.2 miles (42.195kms).

Nope. Unless you have a serious medical condition, you can run a marathon. I mentioned earlier how I overcame injuries (that’s a story for another time) and have since run ultramarathons.”


[1] “Marathon mistakes = sad runners” – Matt Frazier – Email

[2] https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/stages/id1254370585?mt=2

[3] Janfrodeno So this is where it all unravelled for me today. A pretty sudden muscle spasm locked my lower back up (SI joint) and it took me a good 10min to even be able to stretch it. Not sure if a nerve got some pressure or I need a spoon full of cement to harden up, but this was one of the more painful experiences I’ve had. After 5k of walking things started to loosen up and I could even get back to some jogging. But I guess that makes me one of many out there today who just had to honour this race and their fellow competitors by bringing it home. Until next time… (https://www.instagram.com/p/BaQjBIol0bV/?taken-by=janfrodeno )

[4] http://davidgoggins.com

[5] Read more at http://www.velonews.com/2005/09/training-center/nutrition/the-feed-zone-with-monique-ryan-that-bloated-feeling_8940#0lg1oS7oj9LAR5XF.99

[6] http://www.mamamia.com.au/podcast/no-filter-esther-perel/

[7] http://www.talorot.org/rain-dance/

[1] http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/5778-a-year-of-great-expectations/2017/09/20/

Bitumen is Boring…

 

Try “green exercise” and take your workout outdoors.” – Sarah Berry[1]

I am going to keep this Blog very short, but I have had a few ideas to share.

In this period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we add some additional text to the silent Amidah[2]. These additions include the phrase “Remember us for life…”.

After doing a run/ race, I normally like to remember a few aspects and try to learn from the experience. Recently I did my first trail run, after being pushed by my mate Aubrey Levy to join him on a trail run in Anglesea on the beautiful Great Ocean Road. The experience is worth remembering. Below are a few points:

  • Bitumen is boring… – I noticed lots of competitors with this phrase on their shirts. I think this is more than just not running on boring black bitumen, but having more of an ‘experience’ for want of a better word. Look we did run on the beach, trails, sand roads, through water and over rocks.
  • Trail running is MUCH harder – There are a few reasons for this including:
    • Running on so many different surfaces;
    • Some of the hills climbs, stairs (up and down) are so difficult to both navigate and to get up. Normally I try not to walk in a race, but this rule does not apply on a trail run; and
    • You need to keep your concentration – going up, down or running on a flat, there are always obstacles, slippery or wet surfaces and there is always the chance for twisting your ankles or falling. Yip, I twisted my ankle, but was very lucky…
  • Can’t get too precious – On a normal run, I try to do all that I can to avoid my runners getting dirty. On this trail run within the first 300m, we had to run through a river on the beach – Yip the mix of sand and water!
  • The scenery is magnificent – What more can I say!
  • I was soo stiff a few days later – DOMS[3]

Nature nurtures the elemental inside of us. It really only takes getting outside and taking a walk on the wild side to experience the effects for ourselves.” – Sarah Berry[4]

In an article in the Herald Sun regarding the Melbourne Storm’s preliminary final win against the Broncos last week. The article mentioned 3 Things we learnt. I think that some of these lessons are very important for us all. The 3 things mentioned were:

  • Billy is brilliant;
  • Cooper Cronk is tough as; and
  • Finals football is survival of the fittest.

For me, the key point was about the great Billy Slater and how even after so many years in the game he still shows ‘unbridled enthusiasm’ and was ‘still going’ when no one else was. This epitomises a champion and on how he will one day be remembered.

The last thing I want to mention is to remember a few lessons that I learnt over Rosh Hashanah.

  • Rabbi Noam Sendor gave a brilliant Drasha on Avraham’s 10 tests and why different commentators include different tests and why the order of the tests differs. But for me the lesson from having the 10th test was this possibly extra test of “Abraham’s purchase of a burial plot for Sarah (ch. 23)” and the lesson that after going through Rosh Hashanah with these commitments and resolutions to improve ourselves, we now need to implement these into our everyday life. This is what Avraham did when he purchased the plot for Sarah, he knew he knew even after G-d many times promised him the Land of Israel, he was forced to spend an exorbitant amount in the purchase of a plot to bury his wife, but he still acted like a true gentleman.
  • In a brilliant article by HaRav Yehuda Amital z”l titled the ‘Sounds of Silence’. He talks about the fact that even though we cannot always convey our feelings, thoughts, desires and fears into words when we are praying, the power of concentrating while listening to the blowing the Shofar, is a conduit.

Even though the sounding of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is a decree, it contains an allusion. It is as if [the shofar’s call] is saying:  Wake up, sleepy ones from your sleep and you who slumber, arise. Inspect your deeds, repent, remember your Creator. Those who forget the truth in the vanities of time and throughout the entire year, devote their energies to vanity and emptiness which will not benefit or save: Look to your souls. Improve your ways and your deeds and let every one of you abandon his evil path and thoughts.  (Maimonides, Mishne Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah 3:4)”

The Yom Kippur service will end with the blowing of the Shofar. The lesson from this blowing is that it is now time to celebrate. It’s been an otherworldly experience, and now we’ve come out the other end. The blowing of the shofar publicizes to all that the evening following Yom Kippur is a holiday, and it is now time to celebrate the closeness we’ve achieved and the forgiveness we’ve secured during this awesome day. Like soldiers returning triumphantly from battle, we blow the shofar to celebrate our victory over the prosecuting angel, a.k.a. the Satan and we can walk away, certain that we’ve been granted a sweet year.

To end I listened to a brilliant Podcast[5] featuring Dr Frank Lipman[6]. In the Podcast, he mentioned the Xhosa phrase Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù]). He described the word to mean “What Makes us human is the humanity we show each other”, but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity“.

As we approach Yom Kippur, let us remember experiences, decisions and lessons that we have learnt. I love this lesson from the teachings of Maimonides[7] “…Rather, one should be easy to pacify and difficult to anger…”. In a Blog[8] post by Rabbi Marc Angel, he says “Yom Kippur can be just another external show of piety, or it can be a transformative occasion.” I think the decision is ours….

To end a quote from Rabbi Sacks[9] from last week’s Parsha Ha’azinu – “Moses does not exist in Judaism as an object of worship but as a role model for each of us to aspire to. … Moses continues to inspire.

 


[1] Sarah Berry lives and breathes her job as Lifestyle Health Editor for Fairfax Media. She is constantly putting her body on the line to test the latest health trends then delving into the science of why they do or don’t work.

[2] The word Amidah literally means standing, because it is recited while standing. It is also known as Shemoneh Esrei, meaning eighteen, because it originally consisted of eighteen blessings, and as tefilah (prayer) because it is the most important Jewish prayer.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_onset_muscle_soreness

[4] http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/does-nature-have-restorative-powers-when-it-comes-to-health-20170914-gyhkj9.html

[5] https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/mindbodygreen-podcast-motivational-interviews-covering/id1246494475?mt=2

[6] https://www.bewell.com/about/

[7] Maimonides provides another very important lesson in his Laws of Repentance (2:10)

[8] https://www.jewishideas.org/thoughts-yom-kippur-1

[9] http://rabbisacks.org/moses-man-haazinu-5777/

Just Do it (part 2)

 

Live a life filled with wonder and curiosity. Ask questions.” – DREW SAMS[1] [2]

Parsha (Torah Portion) Ki Tavo in a Nutshell – http://www.chabad.org

 Moses instructs the people of Israel: When you enter the land that G‑d is giving to you as your eternal heritage, and you settle it and cultivate it, bring the first-ripened fruits (bikkurim) of your orchard to the Holy Temple, and declare your gratitude for all that G‑d has done for you.

Our Parshah also includes the laws of the tithes given to the Levites and to the poor, and detailed instructions on how to proclaim the blessings and the curses on Mount Gerizim and Mount Eival—as discussed in the beginning of the Parshah of Re’eh. Moses reminds the people that they are G‑d’s chosen people, and that they, in turn, have chosen G‑d.

The latter part of Ki Tavo consists of the Tochachah (“Rebuke”). After listing the blessings with which G‑d will reward the people when they follow the laws of the Torah, Moses gives a long, harsh account of the bad things—illness, famine, poverty and exile—that shall befall them if they abandon G‑d’s commandments. 

Moses concludes by telling the people that only today, forty years after their birth as a people, have they attained “a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.”

In my last Blog on Phil Knights autobiography, I did not include any inspiration from the weekly Parshas. I had a few ideas to share, and together with my reading over Shabbos, I would like to share a few thoughts on these ideas and their link to Phil’s book.

In last week’s Parsha, Ki Teitzei we learn about the rebellious son. The Gemorah teaches that there will never be the case of this rebellious son. So why is it in the Torah? The answer given is that it is in the Torah for us to study and to get reward for studying. Different Rabbi’s learn different ideas from this, including teaching about parenting and how far a kid can go off the tracks, but Rav Yisroel Salanter[3] teaches that the primary reason is that we are commanded to do so. As the old Nike commercial used to say: “Just Do It.” Sometimes, you just must dive into the experience to get something out of it. Our reward is attained from this elevated purpose in learning Torah.

I love this quote from ex-swimmer Stephanie Rice on a Podacst[4] – “You delusional to think that you can make changes without personal development

 In a beautiful Blog[5] from Rabbi Meir Sendor on the mitzvah to send the mother bird away to take the eggs or the chick. According to Maimonides, the purpose of this mitzvah is to avoid causing emotional pain to the mother bird, so she is shooed away so she doesn’t see us taking her offspring – since animals feel love and anxiety for their children just as humans do. In the Blog, he asks if we should for the sake of a Mitzvah chase away the mother bird to touch the eggs or the chicks to fulfil the commandment? I loved the response from Rabbi Barukh Epstein in his Torah commentary Torah Temimah.  Rabbi Barukh Epstein argues that to harass the mother bird in the name of symbolic theurgy when you don’t want the chicks or eggs loses sight of the meaning of the mitzvah and turns it upside-down, from a principle of compassion to an act of cruelty.

““Enjoy life!”, “Just do it!”, and “Live it up!” are all catch-phrases and slogans of Western culture. That culture calls for people to do whatever they please in order to enjoy life without thinking of the future consequences. Western culture lives for the present. On the other hand, the Jewish approach is to always look towards the future. Before a person performs any given action he is expected to thoroughly contemplate whether its outcome will bring about something positive or not, and then act accordingly.” – Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein[6]

In a deeply impactful Drasha from Rabbi Noam Sendor, talking about the role of Modern Orthodoxy (Modern Orthodoxy has an ideology of joining the best of Western civilization with a commitment to Jewish law and traditional Jewish values.) and the difficulties of being Modern Orthodox. As a Modern Orthodox Jew, we don’t always see things as black and white and are challenged by several worldly issues like human rights, Zionism, feminism, the environment and social justice.

Everyone has their complaints “the school is too religious, but not spiritual…”the school is very close minded and does not teach about sustainability…” etc. etc.

It is much easier to avoid the real issues than to face up to them. At the very least we should be able to identify and reject these confusing disturbances.” – Rabbi Wein[7]

The words at the start of last week’s Parsha, Ki Teitzei means “When you go out”. It is talking about going to war. The Medrash says that the battle referred to here is a milchemes hayetzer, a battle against the Evil Inclination. When we preempt the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination), we are far more successful at outsmarting ‘him’ than when we wait for ‘him’ to launch the first strike, which catches us unaware and ill-prepared to fight ‘him’ off. In a brilliant talk from Rabbi Menachem Woolf (from SpiritGrow), he teaches that we are all going out to battle, the battle to refine ourselves, the battle to choose right & wrong, the battle to not stoop to the level of our enemies, the battle to consider other and the battle to make ethical decisions.

“It’s about the relationship between faith, consumerism and environmentalism.” – Rich Roll

I would like to share some thoughts from Rabbi Wein[8] on the month of Elul. Elul has always been portrayed as a time of introspection. As we prepare for the coming good and blessed year, we should also stop to consider the occurrences and events of the past year. The new year is an uncharted mystery to all of us. But whatever it will bring, understanding and appreciate the lessons of the old year will certainly be helpful. All of us made mistakes this past year and we pray that the holy day of Yom Kippur will again wipe the slate clean for us. Nevertheless, we should recognize those errors that were made and resolve not to repeat them during the coming year. We should strengthen family bonds, even with those with whom we may disagree personally or ideologically. We should be much more tolerant of all sections of our society, be less judgmental and refrain from imposing our standards and behaviour patterns upon others. At the same time, we should strengthen our loyalty to the Torah and to the observance of its commandments.

I think that the “…real and meaningful goal of Torah life[9]” is for each of us to take the first step, from the place that we are today, at this moment. If we don’t know the message from Judaism, we at least know it from NIKE in their advertisements, “Just do it” – We need to fortify our commitment to Jewish life, the basic norms of Torah morality and to consider others, the environment & human rights.

In a Podcast[10] with Senior Pastor & Head of Staff at Bel Air Presbyterian Church, Drew Sams. Drew talks about choices and the difference between choosing based on preference and based on our responsibility. He says that People think that sustainability, social rights etc. is a Preference, but he says that it is a Responsibility.

I will end with a thought from this week’s Parsha and from Rabbi Gannen. This Week’s Parsha Ki Tavo, includes the words Ki Tavo which mean “when you enter”. I think that we can all enter the new year as a better person if we “Just Do It” and make the right decisions. In a Drasha from Rabbi Gannen, titled “As we come close to Rosh Hashanah[11]” – He talks about making decisions, knowing our struggles and challenges making the right decision, not making decisions to get approval from others, understanding what is the right thing to do and understanding what Hashem wants from us before making decisions.

May G-d grant us the serenity to accept the things which truly cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.” – Rabbi Shneur[12]

[1] https://www.facebook.com/surferdrew

[2] Dr Drew Sams, senior pastor and head of staff at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yisroel_Salanter

[4] https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/humans-of-purpose-podcast/id1205858107?mt=2

[5] http://us14.campaign-archive2.com/?e=0a9b496929&u=a3ff8e0ceaa6f59af296da05e&id=34e7758267

[6] https://www.ohr.edu/7485

[7] http://www.rabbiwein.com/blog/post-2021.html

[8] http://www.rabbiwein.com/blog/post-1668.html

[9] http://us14.campaign-archive2.com/?e=0a9b496929&u=a3ff8e0ceaa6f59af296da05e&id=34e7758267

[10] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/drew-sams/

[11] https://soundcloud.com/beit-halevi/rabbi-menachem-channen-coming-close-to-rosh-hashanah

[12] https://thearkcentre.org.au/septemeber-2017-parshat-ki-tetze/

Shoe Dog

I love this quote as I am always trying to think of ideas for my Blog.

I’m never not working on material. Every second of my existence I’m thinking, can I do something with that?” —Jerry Seinfeld


Torah Parsha (Portion) Ki Teitzei in a Nutshell – www.chabad.org

Seventy-four of the Torah’s 613 commandments (mitzvot) are in the Parshah of Ki Teitzei. These include the laws of the beautiful captive, the inheritance rights of the firstborn, the wayward and rebellious son, burial and dignity of the dead, returning a lost object, sending away the mother bird before taking her young, the duty to erect a safety fence around the roof of one’s home, and the various forms of kilayim (forbidden plant and animal hybrids).

Also recounted are the judicial procedures and penalties for adultery, for the rape or seduction of an unmarried girl, and for a husband who falsely accuses his wife of infidelity. The following cannot marry a person of Jewish lineage: a mamzer (someone born from an adulterous or incestuous relationship); a male of Moabite or Ammonite descent; a first- or second-generation Edomite or Egyptian. 

Our Parshah also includes laws governing the purity of the military camp; the prohibition against turning in an escaped slave; the duty to pay a worker on time, and to allow anyone working for you—man or animal—to “eat on the job”; the proper treatment of a debtor, and the prohibition against charging interest on a loan; the laws of divorce (from which are also derived many of the laws of marriage); the penalty of thirty-nine lashes for transgression of a Torah prohibition; and the procedures for yibbum (“levirate marriage”) of the wife of a deceased childless brother, or chalitzah (“removing of the shoe”) in the case that the brother-in-law does not wish to marry her. 

Ki Teitzei concludes with the obligation to remember “what Amalek did to you on the road, on your way out of Egypt.”


In ancient Greek religion, Nike (/ˈnaɪki/; Greek: Νίκη, “Victory”, Ancient Greek: [nǐːkɛː]) was a goddess who personified victory.

This is the first time this has happened. I started a Blog with an idea to talk about a few ‘ideas’ and link these ‘ideas’ to Phil Knights autobiography, “Shoe Dog”. BUT, I was battling to bring it all together, so instead of giving up I will do my Blog on lessons I have learnt from this amazing book and share some insights from others. Phil Knight is the founder of Nike. I must say that it was one of the best autobiographies that I have ever read. To me, it was like reading a suspense thriller that you could not put down.

“An Honest Tale of What It Takes to Succeed in Business” – Bill Gates

Sometimes Our “Crazy Ideas” Are the Best Ones[1]

At the beginning of the book, Knight refers to his shoe company idea as his “crazy idea”.

But for him, it was the only idea worth pursuing. He didn’t want to follow the trend and work for somebody else. He wanted to build his own thing.

We don’t get burned out by what we do… We get burned out because we forget why we’re doing it.” – Jon Gordon[2]

Prepare Yourself for the Journey[3]

As Phil Knight discovered again and again, entrepreneurship is far from an easy path. It’s a journey of ups and downs, and there is almost never 100% certainty. What’s more, you’re responsible for your own success.

Your business is always on your mind, and you’ll always feel like there’s more you can do.

Plus, there are the big risks involved, like running out of money, legal trouble, etc. (which Phil Knight ran into a few times thanks to some of his dishonest competitors).

You have to love this journey. You just have to love being in the middle of the cyclone, to face what seems unsolvable, every single day.

Shoe Dog, …… is a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. In fact, the only thing that seems inevitable in page after page of Knight’s story is that his company will end in failure.” – Bill Gates[4]

In a recent Podcast I listened to, they were talking about Passion and it was interesting to read that the meaning/ root of the word is to suffer (Passion- root is suffering – “The word passion comes from Latin root pati-, meaning suffering, or enduring. Thus, compassion means to suffer-with: the compassionate aren’t immune to other people’s pain. And passion is, at its core, a form of pain that demands it be quenched.) Phil and his team were so passionate about the journey and the brand that I suppose, they knew that there would be a level of suffering along the way.

Culture is More Important Than Talent[5]

“Nike Inc.’s organizational culture supports business resilience and capability. Organizational culture is the combination of traditions, habits, values, and behavioural expectations among employees” – Nike

Knight mentioned a few times how he kept hiring accountants and those who were good with numbers. But every person he hired had a love for the business of making shoes. Every one of them had a passion for athletics, even if they weren’t athletes themselves. They pushed harder when most people would quit. They uprooted their lives for the sake of the company.

In most cases, Knight let his team do their thing without trying to tell them how they should do it. I think that in and of itself is one of the characteristics that define a true entrepreneur. (I think that means he never micro-managed)

“What I identified most with from his story were the odd mix of employees Knight pulled together to help him start his company. Among them, a former track star paralysed after a boating accident, an overweight accountant, and a salesman who obsessively wrote letters to Knight (to which Knight never responded).” – Bill Gates

If you hire people for their values, you can teach them what to do. It’s the “how” that our values often dictate.

Culture is one of the biggest keys to Nike’s success.

As an entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to build a winning culture within your company. This goes back to hiring people with the right values, as well as your style of management.

Cash is KING[6]

Firstly: cash is all that matters. Cash buys time, no cash buys death.” – Adir Shiffman[7], Adir Shiffman is executive chairman of Catapult Sports and a serial investor and entrepreneur.

The unfortunate flip side to Nike’s obsession with growth is that before its IPO, the company nearly always appeared broke because it was investing every spare dollar back into the business. With a cash pile that was never enough to cover its bills, the company grew dependent on ever more creative and desperate ways of paying for its large inventory orders:

“… we weren’t broke, we just had no money. Lots of assets, no cash….. I was forever pushing my conservative bankers to the brink, forcing them into a game of chicken. I’d order a number of shoes that seemed to them to be absurd, a number we’d need to stretch to pay for, and I’d always just barely pay for them, in the nick of time, and then just barely pay our other monthly bills, at the last minute, always doing just enough, and no more, to prevent the bankers from booting us. And then, at the end of the month, I’d empty our accounts to pay Nissho and start from zero again..” – Phil Knight

For years on end, Nike played this circular game, the business equivalent of living pay check to pay check. But somehow, the company managed to just barely avert disaster many times over. Fortunately for Knight and company, Nike would finally go public just a few years later.

Always have a plan B[8]

One of Knight’s most important lessons came when he learned that his sole shoe supplier, Onitsuka (ASIC), was going behind his back to cut him off and work with other US distributors. Knight was the original distributor of ASIC’s in the USA. As soon as he found out, he started working on a plan B: to produce his own line of shoes.

Knight’s partners and staff were always thinking of new ideas that helped athletes. Before the NIKE brand was started, he was giving these ideas to Onitsuka. When he decided to start his own brand, they already had ideas on how to make a better shoe.

The way to stay ahead was through product innovation. We happened to be great at it.” – Phil Knight

His story is a lesson in Commitment

In a brilliant Podcast[9] featuring former Nike employee and Strava Board member, Sarah Robb O’Hagan[10],  she talks about her time at Nike and how much she loved Phil’s book and said that everyone should read the book. His story is a lesson in Commitment, not with the only idea with exit strategy.

Nike is a world class leader at disrupting themselves, constantly on-boarding new people, with an unbelievable culture. Take away” – Sarah Robb O’Hagan

To be a great sustaining company, you have new thinking but never lose sight or roots and heritage. The brand is anchored by heritage story and culture. She says that what has kept Nike brand from not stagnating is innovation and serving the needs of the athletes. She goes onto to say that Nike UNDERSTANDS the consumer (They don’t concentrate on the competition). Their job is to solve problems for the consumer/ the athlete.

3 keys to a great season

In a Podcast[11] featuring Jon Gordon[12], the author of “The Energy Bus”. Jon is an American author and speaker on the topics of leadership, culture, sales, and teamwork.  In the Podcast, he talks about 3 keys to a great season for an NFL player. These are not only applicable to an athlete but to Nike, other companies and entrepreneurs:

  • Be positive/ optimistic – “Positivity is like a boomerang. The more we put it out there, the more it comes back to us.” — Jon Gordon;
  • Stay connected as a team – “You need to work as hard to be a great teammate as you do to be a great player” – Jon Gordon; and
  • Grit/ stay the course. – “Everybody wants the quick fix, but it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be willing to put it out there. I call it ‘the secret to being an overnight success,’ which means there really isn’t a such thing as an overnight success. ! The secret is you work really hard for 10 years, and then you become an overnight success.” — Jon Gordon

In the Podcast he talks about the ‘inside out approach’ (The Inside-Out approach is guided by the belief that the inner strengths and capabilities of the organisation will make the organisation prevail.). I think this is very relevant to the way that Phil Knight ran Nike by continuously focussing on their strengths.

Jon is a very big supporter of culture and mentions how culture impacts companies. He says that businesses need to “focus on culture” as “culture drives behaviour”.

I will end with a few good quotes.

The way to stay ahead was through product innovation. We happened to be great at it.” – Phil Knight

We wanted Nike to be the world’s best sports and fitness company. Once you say that, you have a focus. You don’t end up making wing tips or sponsoring the next Rolling Stones world tour.” “Play by the rules, but be ferocious.” – Phil Knight

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.business2community.com/books/5-lessons-entrepreneurs-can-learn-shoe-dog-memoir-nikes-founder-01791009#qpCOUEkXvhUrxqf5.97

[2] Jon Gordon is an American author and speaker on the topics of leadership, culture, sales, and teamwork.

[3] http://www.business2community.com/books/5-lessons-entrepreneurs-can-learn-shoe-dog-memoir-nikes-founder-01791009

[4] https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Shoe-Dog

[5] https://openmerit.com/blog/learn-from-phil-knight-nike

[6] https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/01/14/3-lessons-for-entrepreneurs-from-nike-shoe-dog-phi.aspx

[7] https://amp-afr-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.afr.com/technology/the-time-i-ran-my-startup-out-of-cash-and-what-i-learnt-20170816-gxx6lh

[8] http://www.thegeniusworks.com/2017/05/secrets-shoe-dog-i-learnt-business-nikes-co-founder-phil-knight/

[9] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/flywheel-ceo-sarah-robb-o-hagan-on-getting-fired-success-vulnerability-mbg-podcas

[10] https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-robb-o-hagan-249130/

[11] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/jon-gordon/

[12] http://www.jongordon.com

Critical Reflection

 “Love is giving someone the power to destroy you…but trusting them not to” – Paulo Coelho[1]

When we fight, if we hold on to our dignity and honour, even if we lose we will never be defeated, because our soul is intact.” – Paulo Coelho


Torah Parsha (Portion) Re’eh in a Nutshell www.chabad.org

“See,” says Moses to the people of Israel, “I place before you today a blessing and a curse”—the blessing that will come when they fulfil G‑d’s commandments, and the curse if they abandon them. These should be proclaimed on Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal when the people cross over into the Holy Land. 

A Temple should be established in “the place that G‑d will choose to make dwell His name there,” where the people should bring their sacrifices to Him; it is forbidden to make offerings to G‑d in any other place. It is permitted to slaughter animals elsewhere, not as a sacrifice but to eat their meat; the blood (which in the Temple is poured upon the altar), however, may not be eaten. 

A false prophet, or one who entices others to worship idols, should be put to death; an idolatrous city must be destroyed. The identifying signs for kosher animals and fish, and the list of non-kosher birds (first given in Leviticus 11), are repeated. 

A tenth of all produce is to be eaten in Jerusalem, or else exchanged for money with which food is purchased and eaten there. In certain years this tithe is given to the poor instead. Firstborn cattle and sheep are to be offered in the Temple, and their meat is eaten by the kohanim (priests). 

The mitzvah of charity obligates a Jew to aid a needy fellow with a gift or loan. On the Sabbatical year (occurring every seventh year), all loans are to be forgiven. All indentured servants are to be set free after six years of service. 

Our Parshah concludes with the laws of the three pilgrimage festivals—Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot—when all should go to “see and be seen” before G‑d in the Holy Temple.


“Eight years after the breakup of Oasis – Which was definitely not his fault – Liam Gallagher is finally ready to take on the role of solo artist” – Hamish MacBain (Saturday Good Weekend[2])

How often has a boss, a spouse, a friend, a colleague, a mentor, a stranger and even your child been critical of what you have done, said or written? None of us like being criticised, being told what to do or accepting responsibility when involved in a dispute. Look, on rare occasions, people may have an alternative reason to criticize, but most times people are pointing out an error, trying to help us or to break bad habits. Most people may view what we are doing differently and constructively want to help.

Change brings with it renewed sense of vigour and motivation” – Psychologist Sasha Lynn[3]

A few weeks back I did a Blog. There was something that I had written that I knew may offend, but decided to include. The person called me and we discussed what I had written, and I made a change. She was in no ways upset with me, but I did want comment and feedback. Only through feedback will I be able to improve my blog, improve my demeanour or behaviour or grow as a person. I often read the Modern Guru in The Age, Dr Joanna McMillan’s “My Day on a Plate” column or other question forums and wonder if people take notice of the advice or criticism that they are given??? 

I’m relieved the main point of contention between you and your wife is flushing the toilet – Jessica Rowe (Dear Jess – Sunday Life Magazine[4])

In an insight, I read on a Gemara[5] (Sanhedrin 19a) from the Daf Yomi. The Gemara expounds and teaches: “Adorn yourself (strive to perfect your own character) before you look to adorn others.” When someone is being criticized, he should not reverse the focus and question the one delivering the words of rebuke, but he should rather consider the worthiness of the words themselves and whether they are justified or of value. If there is truth to the matter, he should hearken to their call and should accept them. Maybe it is people nature to respond defensively by questioning or arguing…OR it may be that the person rebuking is not doing it in a nice way. I have learnt that often it is the tone or way that you rebuke can make a difference.

There may be times that you are criticised for in effect a good character trait, that possibly you push the boundaries with, like being a perfectionist and people tell you to “relax”. “The more people that tell you this, though, the more frustrated you get.” – Megan Blandford[6]. Are they wrong???

In a brilliant Dvar Torah from Rabbi Dr Tzvi Hersh Weinreb[7] on this week's Torah Parsha Re’eh titled “How’m I Doing?” – We read at length about false prophets. The false prophet not only gives false guarantees about the future, complacently predicting peace and tranquillity but assures the people that they are doing nothing wrong, that they need not change their behaviour. The false prophet gives no feedback. “For feedback to truly be effective, it needs to be solicited. That is, the recipient of the feedback must ask the observer to tell him how he is doing. This signals a readiness to receive criticism, to modify one’s behaviour, and to change. Without that readiness, feedback is (or maybe) doomed to failure.

Feedback or criticism also needs to be specific….

Human nature is such that it is the rare person who asks for feedback, and that few of us are comfortable in delivering criticism. However constructive and well-intended, it is hard to give feedback to another person. We are afraid of confrontation, of possibly embarrassing the other, and so we avoid giving feedback even at the cost of assisting the other to change in a positive way.

And yet, there is nothing more helpful to anyone learning a new task than to have feedback delivered to him or her in a useful, nonjudgmental, constructive manner. As the Talmud puts it, “No one has ever mastered Torah study without having first erred and made mistakes.” Mastery is only achieved when mistakes are pointed out to the student so that he can correct them.”

There are times when you do need to stand up for your values and go into battle for what you believe will benefit everyone. It amazes me how some of these sports stars and team managers, like Arsene Wenger (I am a very loyal Arsenal Fan), take all this criticism but stick to their guns, keep their jobs and continue to manage the teams on THEIR terms. It makes you wonder that if maybe they would change, listen or even step away from a position, would things at the club change? (or do they take the advice from the Modern Guru (Danny Katz)[8] – “Never. Defy the haters. Stay Bold and push hard…”) I noticed a nice quote from radio personality and comic, Jo Stanley[9] in the Sunday Age that shares a similar message “So for the good of my daughter, I'm going to get more selfish. I'm going to stand my ground, fight for my way, sometimes just for the sake of winning. I'm certain she'll end up with better life skills, better relationships – and, we can only hope, better musical taste.”

I must say that sometimes there are people who just want to fight and criticise without a reason. This week filling up with petrol, I had a guy hooting and screaming at me because I did not go to the front petrol pump. I explained that I could not use 91 Petrol and the front pump did not have 98 Petrol and could not move forward, but he just continued shouting and pointing. I just thought WHY??? The only thing you learn is how not to criticise and to try to keep your cool.

People may criticise us for being inconsistent with our values. In a Podcast with Greg Steltenpohl[10] on the MBG Podcast[11]. Jason Wachob asked Greg for one lesson that I think is a very good way to avoid being criticised “Practice what you preach.

In a brilliant Podcast/ YouTube[12] by Rabbi Sacks titled “Lessons in Leadership – Responses for the Harvard Business School's Executive Education Programme”, he answers leadership related questions. In one of the questions – How did you discover your strengths and passions? He explains that only through critique, both in a positive and negative way was he able to get an understanding of his strengths and passions. “Failures… maybe… nudges to say you in the wrong territory” – Rabbi Sacks

Instead of concluding, I will end with a few good quotes…

I have to add this quote from Cain Sellers who commented on my blog. I think it sums it up "Praise has value, criticism is unmeasurable, without it we cannot move forward, repair, correct and evolve :)"

Who do you spend time with? Criticizers or encourages? Surround yourself with those who believe in you. Your life is too important for anything less.” – Steve Goodier[13]

 “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill

 

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulo_Coelho

[2]http://www.theage.com.au/good-weekend/why-liam-gallagher-is-finally-ready-to-take-on-the-role-of-a-solo-artist-20170802-gxnq47.html

[3]http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/breaking-your-routine-can-be-just-as-beneficial-as-resting-20170810-gxtium.html

[4]http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/dear-jess-how-can-i-balance-my-own-space-when-supporting-my-depressed-housemate-20170803-gxolnx.html

[5] The Gemara (also transliterated Gemora, Gemarah, or, less commonly, Gemorra; from Hebrew גמרא‎, from the Aramaic verb gamar, study) is the component of the Talmud comprising rabbinical analysis of and commentary on the Mishnah.

[6]http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/parenting/how-letting-going-of-perfectionism-made-me-a-better-mother-20170801-gxn1hk.html

[7]https://www.ou.org/torah/parsha/rabbi-weinreb-on-parsha/reeh-how-m-i-doing/

[8]http://www.smh.com.au/good-weekend/modern-guru[9]http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/jo-stanley-we-need-to-teach-kids-life-doesnt-always-go-our-way-20170803-gxoiwe.html[10]https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/17/business/greg-steltenpohl-califia-farms-odwalla.html[11]https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/greg-steltenpohl-interview-mindbodygreen-podcast[12]http://rabbisacks.org/lessons-in-leadership/

[13]http://stevegoodier.blogspot.com.au