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Don’t’ forget your veggies…

A Diet shouldn’t be a short-term solution, rather an evolution into a better way of living” – Shona Vertue

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

Moses is taught the laws of the red heifer, whose ashes purify a person who has been contaminated by contact with a dead body. 

After forty years of journeying through the desert, the people of Israel arrive in the wilderness of Zin. Miriam dies, and the people thirst for water. G‑d tells Moses to speak to a rock and command it to give water. Moses gets angry at the rebellious Israelites and strikes the stone. Water issues forth, but Moses is told by G‑d that neither he nor Aaron will enter the Promised Land. 

Aaron dies at Hor Hahar and is succeeded in the high priesthood by his son Elazar. Venomous snakes attack the Israelite camp after yet another eruption of discontent in which the people “speak against G‑d and Moses”; G‑d tells Moses to place a brass serpent upon a high pole, and all who will gaze heavenward will be healed. The people sing a song in honour of the miraculous well that provided them water in the desert.

Moses leads the people in battles against the Emorite kings Sichon and Og (who seek to prevent Israel’s passage through their territory) and conquers their lands, which lie east of the Jordan.

Several years ago, I was working with a Biotech company who was doing research on Diabetes (I am assuming Type 2 Diabetes). As part of their Research, they had selected a sample of ‘closed communities’ from around the world to see what the impact of a change of diet has had on these communities. As I recall this change in diet from a traditional to a “Standard American or Western Diet” resulted in an increase in obesity and I am sure an increase in Diabetes.

Recently I was reading an article[1] about the Essendon FC player Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. Anthony was born and raised on the Tiwi Islands, off the coast of Darwin, into an Indigenous Australian family. He played his junior football for the Tiwi Bombers in the Northern Territory Football League before moving to Victoria at the age of 17 to better his chances of an AFL career. Anthony’s adopted mother helped him with life and footy. She said that diet is a big focus. His adopted mother said Anthony “bulked up” when he arrived in Gippsland, unused to the type of food he was eating, and the quantity. She said that he doesn’t eat bread and has pasta only once a week – (the night before a game) – and she is in regular contact to ensure he gets the sustenance that suits his metabolism.

In an interesting Talmud Tip from the Daf Yomi Cycle[2] from Bava Batra 146a titled “A Steady Diet”. The Gemara says:

Shmuel said: “A sharp change in one’s eating pattern (All week long he eats dry bread, and on the festive days he eats meat — Rashbam) is the beginning of digestive problems.”

The great Talmudic Sage and medical doctor named Shmuel explains that the verse is teaching that “a sharp change in one’s eating pattern is the beginning of digestive problems.”  therefore, even those days of “good food” are also “bad” in a sense for a poor person who is not accustomed to such feasts. He should keep in mind that a “yo-yo” change in his eating pattern is a detrimental health factor.

A quote from Dietician Susie Burrell confirms what I have said above – “… Most extreme dietary changes, especially if they involve cutting out food groups, will have consequences.”

In the last few days I have listened to a few Podcast and watched a few documentaries, and the theme has “yes” been on diet and various diets.

The points I have raised above were re-iterated in a Podcast with Dr Neal Barnard when he explained the increase in heart disease and diabetes in Japan and China with a change in Diet. The actual focus of the Podcast was on – Why we should ditch dairy? “Some foods are fattening. Others are addictive. Cheese is both…Loaded with calories, high in sodium, packing more cholesterol than steak, and sprinkled with hormones — if cheese were any worse, it would be Vaseline.” NEAL BARNARD, M.D.

If you are interested, I have listed interesting content from the last few weeks:

  1. Newspaper Article – “Vegetarian diet twice as effective for weight loss, new research shows” – The Age 18 June 17[3]
  2. The Documentary What the Health on NETFLIX[4]
  3. Rich Roll Podcast with Dr Neal Barnard MD[5] that I mentioned above
  4. MBG Podcast with Amanda Chantal Bacon, Founder of Moon Juice, On Adaptogens, Embracing The Haters + Surrendering To The Universe[6]
  5. MBG Podcast with Melissa Hartwig, Founder of Whole30 (The Whole30 is a 30-day diet that emphasises whole foods and during which participants eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy from their diets.), On Addiction & How Hitting Rock Bottom Inspired an International Health Movement[7]
  6. MBG[8] and Rich Roll[9] Podcasts with John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO, On Food Co-ops, Meditation, And How to Turn Setbacks into Success and John Mackey on Conscious Capitalism, building an empire & the Power of Plants to Heal and Thrive (Before the Amazon takeover offer!)
  7. I also read an article[10] on Shona Vertue and her Vertue Method, titled “The Aussie who whipped David Beckham into shape” in The Herald Sun, Stellar Magazine (so I had to buy the book). Vertue grew convinced that the key to “overall health was flexibility and strength”. On diet, she says – “For the Vertue Method, she worked with a dietitian to ensure science backed up her nutrition plans, which might come as a pleasant surprise in this dietary era of extremes. Sugar, gluten, carbs, caffeine — none of it is off limits as far as Vertue is concerned. She simply preaches moderation.” (Others like Michelle Hartwig’s ex, Dallas Hartwig, say “Relying on willpower alone to somehow eat fewer of those less healthy foods is a battle you are destined to lose… which makes “everything in moderation” a poor long-term strategy.”)
  8. MBG Podcast[11] with Lauren Handel Zander[12] on Becoming a Life Coach, The Importance of Girl Gangs, And How to Never Be Bored Again (Seriously). Not a Podcast on diet, but she does speak about diet and I really enjoyed it. Lauren says that Unlike therapists who might offer a sympathetic ear when you say you’ve had a bad day and cheated on your diet, or who may encourage you to think of yourself as a woeful victim, Lauren and her coaches will hold you accountable. If you’ve done something wrong, expect to pay with a consequence your coach and you agree on. “Once you take responsibility you become powerful, and you take control of the situation.”
  9. MBG Podcast with Hill Harper, Actor, Author & Philanthropist, On Battling Cancer—And Beating Barack Obama In Basketball[13] – In the podcast, he talks about “Freshen up your diet” and says – “… Money is meaningless without health. I realised that true wealth is a balance of physical wealth, emotional wealth, financial wealth and spiritual wealth…”
  10. An interesting article[14]THE DIRT ON CLEAN EATING” it says – “There’s no scientific definition of ‘clean eating’, but it seems to be based on healthy choices – eat plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables; reduce salt, sugar and alcohol; and eliminate processed foods. The crux of clean eating is to consume food the way nature delivered it, or as close to this as possi

One of the interesting things listening to these Podcasts was how so many people have turned their lives around, people like Rich Roll (from Overweight alcoholic to one of the fittest people on the Planet and author of The Plant Power Way), Amanda Chantal Bacon (from LSD user to Moon Juice founder) and Melissa Hartwig (from Drug addict to founder of the Whole30 diet and being the super-fit poster child for the lifestyle). I think they all had to hit rock bottom before making a change. But WHY did they have to hit rock bottom first? There is a life lesson from this week’s Parsha.

In this week’s Parsha, Chukat we read about the red heifer (a cow that has not borne a calf). I read a beautiful piece[15] on the www.aish.com website titled “The Real Seed of Greatness” – In the article, it explains how the law of the red heifer is considered to be a paradox. G-d said that anyone who’s involved in the preparation of producing the ashes from the red cow – whether he is the one who slaughters it, burns it, or collects its ashes – becomes spiritually contaminated. However, the ashes themselves can then be used to purify someone. The article says “We all engage in some sort of behaviour that we want to change. Whether it’s our unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, unproductive thoughts, destructive actions, or poor character traits – there are things we all do that we truly wish we didn’t. 

And we’ve all reached the point at some moment in our lives when one of these things gets out of hand. We just get fed up with what we’re doing, a mental line gets crossed, and we know a serious change must take place. A newfound desire to take action occurs because we see clearly that this behaviour is preventing us from living a happy life. Before the change, we first hit rock bottom in this specific area, and experienced a sense of “impurity“.” Therefore, it’s the negative behaviour itself that causes you to change. The article concludes “The ashes of the red cow are impure – just like our poor choices are. But when the discontent or outright disgust of our past behaviour becomes the strong impetus to finally take serious action, this negative behaviour now becomes the pathway for a purification of your soul…… By doing this, you will have elevated your past impure actions into one of purity.

My philosophy is that life is all about learning and growing, and that life can be a real adventure of learning, growing, compassion, and joyfulness.” – JOHN MACKEY

It has been interesting to see all these different ideas and how changes to your diet can have such a detrimental effect on you, but why do people have to hit rock-bottom before making a change. We can all learn and hopefully, our diets evolve….

I still say the overriding factor is that IF YOU CONSIDER WHAT YOU EAT, YOU WILL ALWAYS LOSE WEIGHT, NO MATTER WHAT DIET YOU ON. AND Remember to JERF (Just Eat Real Foods). Or as John Mackey says “The most important stuff is the simplest stuff. Just eat more whole plant foods – It’s not that complicated”. This point is reiterated by Sami Bloom[16] in a recent Instagram Post[17]

VEGGIES – the one thing that all diets – vegan, raw, paleo, Keto, Atkins, Mediterranean – can all agree on Base a large portion of your diet on vegetables, and I mean a large part (not a measly side) and you can’t go wrong. So slice ’em, dice ’em, roast, stir-fry, steam, blend, puree or mash them- just get them in!

 

 

[1] http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/afl/teams/essendon/foster-mum-has-been-the-driving-force-behind-anthony-mcdonaldtipungwutis-afl-success/news-story/dbe95d4286bb276d2a25ec7c9ddb3bd7

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

[3] http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/nutrition/vegetarian-diet-twice-as-effective-for-weightloss-new-research-shows-20170616-gwsenc.html

[4] http://www.whatthehealthfilm.com

[5] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/neal-barnard-2/

[6] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/amanda-chantal-bacon-mbg-podcast

[7] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/melissa-hartwig-interview-on-whole30-drug-addiction-divorce-and-more

[8] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/john-mackey-whole-foods-ceo-interview-on-food-co-ops-meditation-success

[9] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/john-mackey/

[10] http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/stellar/how-i-got-beckham-to-bend-it-like-never-before/news-story/3ab2df7583baa1262b1344c2aea9998b

[11] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/lauren-zander-mbg-podcast

[12] Lauren Handel Zander is a life coach, university lecturer, and public speaker.

[13] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/hill-harper-actor-author-and-philanthropist-on-battling-cancer-and-beating-barack

[14] https://www.hcf.com.au/health-agenda/food-diet/nutrition/the-dirt-on-clean-eating?icid=U17%7CSFW%7CEDM%7CLFT%7CMEM%7CALL%7C%7CTXL%7CMEM%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7CDCE%7C512FB6B4-4014-4EC2-AA70-9F0C2F07A53F%7C

[15] http://www.aish.com/tp/b/ll/48960971.html?mobile=yes

[16] Sami, a clinical nutritionist, holistic health coach and yoga instructor based in Sydney, Australia. My own health complications prompted me to make positive life changes, revitalising my health and leading to a drastic career change to Nutritional Medicine. I believe in nourishing your life in all aspects, mind body and soul, to achieve and maintain optimal and vibrant health. I hope to guide you on your own journey by sharing my knowledge, education, experience and recipes in this holistic wellness space.

[17] https://www.instagram.com/p/BVmWG0JD3je/?taken-by=samibloom

Busyness… is an illness.

To become truly great at something, you have to dedicate shit-tons of time and energy to it. And because we all have limited time and energy, few of us ever become truly exceptional at more than one thing, if anything at all” – Mark Manson (The Subtle Art of not Giving a Fuck)

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

Korach incites a mutiny challenging Moses’ leadership and the granting of the kehunah (priesthood) to Aaron. He is accompanied by Moses’ inveterate foes, Dathan and Abiram. Joining them are 250 distinguished members of the community, who offer the sacrosanct ketoret (incense) to prove their worthiness for the priesthood. The earth opens up and swallows the mutineers, and a fire consumes the ketoret-offerers.

A subsequent plague is stopped by Aaron’s offering of ketoret. Aaron’s staff miraculously blossoms and brings forth almonds, to prove that his designation as high priest is divinely ordained. 

G‑d commands that a terumah (“uplifting”) from each crop of grain, wine and oil, as well as all firstborn sheep and cattle, and other specified gifts, be given to the kohanim (priests).

Nobody is too busy, it’s just a matter of priorities” – unknown

As I have mentioned in the past, often I notice a few articles, posts or words of inspiration on the same topic. These last few weeks have been very tough with the terrible, shocking news of deaths and illness to people that we know. I have been walking around in a bit of a dwarl.

In an article in The Age by Annie Brown[1] – “Of Work-life balance and other luxuries”, Annie talks about people using busy-ness as a status symbol, and I am guessing there is no work-life balance?

Yavneh principal, Cherylyn Skewes mentioned in the school newsletter that a wise colleague spoke of “manufactured busyness”- if you aren’t busy then you need to make like you are busy to belong in the 21st century.

Rich Roll, posted an article[2] by OMID SAFI –  “The Disease of Being Busy”, the question is asked – How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?  This disease of being “busy” (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is spiritually destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.

We all often get opportunities to grow and learn, but waste time or pretend to be busy. In Rabbi Frands[3] Torah Portion commentary, he says “When someone has such a limited amount of time and opportunity, one must make the best use of that time.” He goes onto to say “I was looking through some old notes of mine and I found on the back of my notes what I told one of my sons on the day he started ninth grade in Yeshiva. I told him he should try to learn sixty minutes an hour. That is the definition of a masmid [a diligent student]. A masmid is not necessarily someone who learns 18 hours a day. A masmid is someone who learns sixty minutes an hour, for however many hours a day he is able to devote to learning. Do not waste your time.”

I was recently listening to champion CROSSFIT athlete, Jason Khalipa on the Tim Ferriss Podcast. Jason talks about the AMRAP mentality. Those familiar with CrossFit would 1st know who Jason is and 2nd know that AMRAP means “as many reps as possible”, but Jason applies this to what he is doing and to life in general – What the link? He says that when you are doing reps at the gym, you don’t answer your phone. He says that when you are doing one task, then you need to focus on that and not worry about other external distractions and in life, you need to decide what is important to you and focus on these things. For him, the priorities are FAMILY, FITNESS and BUSINESS. We all get too distracted on “the CRAP” as my Mom would say, and pretending to be busy.

In an absolutely brilliant article[4] by Ryan Holiday, “28 Lessons from Great Writers, Artists And Creators On Mastering Your Craft”. I think that 2 of his lessons are applicable to this BLOG:

  • Lesson 7. Say Little, Do Much — If you are a writer, don’t be the person who tweets “I’m working on my novel.” Be too busy writing for that. Helen Simpson has “Faire et se taire” from Flaubert on a Post-it near her desk, which she translates as “Shut up and get on with it.
  • Lesson 9. Do The Deep Work — You need to develop routines and practices to arrive at that place of intense concentration and cognitive focus where real progress is made. Producing a book, that takes deep work. Developing a new insight in science or psychology—that’s the product of deep work. An easy place to start? Remove all time-sucking apps on your phone. See how much better you feel and how much more you’re able to accomplish.

I am not sure that I have the answer how we get away from this “busy mentality” and focus on the important people and things in our lives. I will share 2 ideas from articles I have shared:

  1. Marc Chernoff shares his ideas in an article[5]One Big Reason Your Life Is Harder (And Busier) Than It Has To Be”. He says:

Ready for a positive change in your life?

Join me, and let’s wake-up every morning from here on out and mindfully let our needless busyness and stress GO!

Let’s start making every moment less busy and more beneficial 

Let’s start keeping our lives ordered and our schedules under-booked. 

Let’s start creating a foundation with a soft place to land, a wide margin for error, and room to think and breathe. 

So we can pause to hear the music for a moment, and smile when the opportunity arises. 

  1. Author, OMID SAFI says “I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.

We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.”

“Here’s the thing:  Busyness is NOT a badge of honour.  There’s no honour at all in endless busyness.” – MARC CHERNOFF[6]

 To end I just took myself off to see the wonderful Van Gogh exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. I think this quote from Van Gogh sums up our need get away from this busyness and “smell the roses” – “it is something to be deep in the snow in winter, to be deep in yellow leaves in Autumn, to be deep in the ripe wheat in Summer, to be deep in the grass in Spring.” – Vincent Van Gogh, Nuenen, 1885

[1] http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/by/Annie-Brown-hve5m

[2] https://onbeing.org/blog/the-disease-of-being-busy/

[3] https://torah.org/torah-portion/ravfrand-5777-behaaloscha/

[4] http://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2017/06/28-lessons-from-great-writers-artists-and-creators-on-mastering-your-craft/

[5] http://www.marcandangel.com/2016/02/17/your-life-is-harder-and-busier-than-it-has-to-be/

[6] http://www.marcandangel.com/2016/02/17/your-life-is-harder-and-busier-than-it-has-to-be/

We are getting older…

Don’t regret growing older, it’s a privilege denied to many” – unknown

Summary of Parsha Naso in a nutshell – www.chabad.org 

Completing the headcount of the Children of Israel taken in the Sinai Desert, a total of 8,580 Levite men between the ages of 30 and 50 are counted in a tally of those who will be doing the actual work of transporting the Tabernacle. 

G‑d communicates to Moses the law of the sotah, the wayward wife suspected of unfaithfulness to her husband. Also given is the law of the nazir, who forswears wine, lets his or her hair grow long, and is forbidden to become contaminated through contact with a dead body. Aaron and his descendants, the kohanim, are instructed on how to bless the people of Israel. 

The leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel each bring their offerings for the inauguration of the altar. Although their gifts are identical, each is brought on a different day and is individually described by the Torah.

Today is the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you’ll ever be again” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

In this week’s Parsha Naso we read about the counting of the Jewish people in Sinai. There is a lesson we can learn from the fact that Moshe counted everyone – Hashem wanted to teach us here that everyone is important. No one can be too far away, too old or too insignificant, (conversely, no one is so great that he can think he is worth more, or has finished his work.)

That is the job of the Tzadikim (righteous people) or the elders in every generation; to remind us that everyone is number one and everyone counts. And even if you are in a desolate desert and the situation seems impossible, your one good deed also counts and can change it all. The Gemara in Kiddushin (30) declares that “whoever teaches his grandchild Torah is regarded as if he received the Torah from Mt Sinai……”

This is a bit of a weird blog to write as I don’t consider myself old, but a few factors have made me say – Let’s give this Blog a go and see how it turns out.

The catalyst for this blog was that I noticed on TV an advert for a new program, which I think is titled “Getting Older”, but I am not sure and I can’t find anything on Google. I thought to myself why would they make such a program?

Last Sunday evening, I bumped into my friend the Anton “the Demon” and I asked about his latest injury and he said, “Ian, we are getting old…” I have written in previous blogs about my OTS/ fatigue issues and my new restricted (and hopefully temporary) training regime. Over Shavuot I explained my condition to my training buddy Alex and he said “Ian, we getting slower as we getting older…” Last week I tried a clinical Pilates class and the physio mentioned that as we get older our muscles take longer to recover, muscle fibres reduce in number and shrink in size, causing a loss in muscle ‘mass’.

So it appears that ageing athletes are fighting an uphill battle. But for most I don’t believe the issue is ageing so much as it is detraining, misuse and disuse.” – Triathlon coach – Joe Friel

Joe Friel has written many good Blogs on this topic[1] that are worth reading, but a takeaway from this topic and something to remember about the importance of exercise as we get older:

  • At least half of the age-related changes to muscles, bones and joints are caused by disuse; and
  • Recent studies show that fewer than one in 10 Australians over the age of 50 years do enough exercise to improve or maintain cardiovascular fitness.

The second reason for doing this Blog was an article that Loren spotted in the Sunday Herald Sun titled “Secrets of ageing well from a happy doctor”. The article is about celebrity doctor, Dr John Knight (aka Dr James Wright)[2]. He talks about his life and battles, but list his 3 secrets. These are – Help others, don’t eat sugar and stay busy. Talking about not eating sugar – he says he tells all patients to eat no sugar, to eat more vegetables and to walk for at least a half hour per day (Per an article in the Sunday Herald Sun – B+S Section – 30 min of daily walking lowers your risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer), but the doctor says that no one listens!

The third reason for this Blog, is that I am currently reading Mark Manson’s book “THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A FUCK[3]. In the book, he says that as we get older, we gain experience and notice that most of these things cause us to react have little lasting impact on our lives. He goes on to say, and I love this quote “Essentially, we become more selective about the fucks we’re willing to give. This is something called ‘maturity.’ It’s nice, you should try it sometime. Maturity is what happens when one learns to only give a fuck about what’s truly fuckworthy.” He then goes on to speak about being middle aged, I suppose old age and then on our deathbed.

The Sunday Age had an article[4] titled “Swearing by it”. I loved this quote from the author of the article, Tracey Spicer – “It’s marvellous watching older woman gain power through profanity. We’ve been silenced for so long, it’s a relief to bloody well speak out.”

I noticed an interesting article in the Huffington Post[5] on Parsha Naso. I will paraphrase a few paragraphs. This does not directly relate to getting older but relates to our OLD habits. (That some people say, never die..)

“In Jewish tradition, powerful historical events like the exodus from Egypt and the revelation at Sinai are thought of not simply as one-time occurrences, but as phenomena, we celebrate by embodying the experience of the event. On Passover, we are instructed to see ourselves as if we ourselves and not just our ancestors have made and are making the journey from slavery to freedom. Similarly, on Shavuot we attempt to relive the ecstatic and transcendent Sinai experience by staying up all night studying Jewish texts, preparing ourselves for revelation anew.

After all, that excitement and intensity comes this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Naso. In some ways, this Parsha can be a bit of a letdown. We’ve just encountered the Divine and opened ourselves to Torah. Down from the mountain, we turn back to the weekly cycle only to be confronted with the mundane details of census taking, priestly duties, and extensive descriptions of sacrificial offerings brought by each tribe as part of the Temple dedication.

In some ways, Parshat Naso very much feels like “after the ecstasy, the laundry”. In Jack Kornfeld’s book by this title, he writes,

Most of us have to re-enter the marketplace to fulfil our realisation. As we come down from the mountain, we may be shocked to find how easily our old habits wait for us, like comfortable and familiar clothes. Even if our transformation is great and we feel peaceful and unshakable, some part of our return will inevitably test us.

Here we are, post-Shavuot, down from the mountain, being challenged to integrate our newfound revelation with the nitty-gritty of how many bulls, rams and oxen each tribe offered up for anointing the altar.”

The fourth reason for this Blog, is a quote I noticed on Instagram – “Growing old is a long-established habit of losing the authority to remain vital” – Guru Singh. In a subsequent post, I think he explains this “Staying young and vibrant throughout life — mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually — requires maintenance of an authority to be unique, and never give up.

To summarise – We are all getting older, but it what we do to try to keep young!

  • Keep exercising,
  • Eat healthily,
  • Helping others,
  • Focussing on the important things and not giving a f…k about the rest,
  • Remembering that old habits CAN be changed; and
  • Remaining unique.

To really end this Blog, a quote I noticed on our synagogues “The Blake Street Blurb[6]” – “You know you’re grown up when a nap is no longer a punishment, but a reward

 

[1] http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2012/08/the-aging-athlete-getting-older-getting-faster.html

[2] http://www.docwright.com.au

[3] https://markmanson.net/not-giving-a-fuck

[4] http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/tracey-spicer-women-should-swear-more-to-challenge-social-norms-20170525-gwcuzr.html

[5] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adina-allen/revelation-the-morning-after-parshat-naso-numbers-421-789_b_7471170.html

[6] http://www.blakestreet.org.au/blurb.pdf

Maybe you’re not a failure..

 

We have to make the most of whatever we have left this season. We just have to look forward to BETTERING OURSELVES EACH AND EVERY WEEK” – NRL star Greg Inglis

Torah Parsha (Portion) Behar-Bechukotai in a Nutshell from www.chabad.org

On the mountain of Sinai, G‑d communicates to Moses the laws of the Sabbatical year: every seventh year, all work on the land should cease, and its produce becomes free for the taking for all, man and beast.

Seven Sabbatical cycles are followed by a fiftieth year—the Jubilee year, on which work on the land ceases, all indentured servants are set free, and all ancestral estates in the Holy Land that have been sold revert to their original owners. Additional laws governing the sale of lands, and the prohibitions against fraud and usury, are also given.

G‑d promises that if the people of Israel will keep His commandments, they will enjoy material prosperity and dwell secure in their homeland. But He also delivers a harsh “rebuke,” warning of the exile, persecution and other evils that will befall them if they abandon their covenant with Him. Nevertheless, “Even when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away; nor will I ever abhor them, to destroy them and to break My covenant with them; for I am the L‑rd their G‑d.” 

The Parshah concludes with the rules on how to calculate the values of different types of pledges made to G‑d.

I did not really plan to do a BLOG this week, but I noticed in the press this week, that NRL star Greg Inglis had checked into a mental health rehabilitation facility suffering from depression. Greg is an amazing player, a brilliant ambassador for the sport and has been an ambassador for the NRL’s State of Mind campaign, which encourages players to speak up about mental health issues and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. In an article NRL rugby league star Darius Boyd said that when he was in a similar facility. Lots of players messaged and said they would visit and support, BUT Greg Inglis (GI) did. “GI is a special guy,” Boyd said in 2015. “He came and visited me when I was in the clinic last year and there were only a couple of people that did that and that’s something I’ll never forget and really cherish.” 

In a previous Blog – CLIMBING A SLIPPERY LADDER, I mentioned how I had been battling with my training and post-training recovery. I decided to go to see a sports physician. After numerous tests and a process of elimination, the doctor has said I am suffering from OTS (over training syndrome)/ fatigue. All my blood tests and a coronary artery CT scan indicated that I was very healthy. He Suggested I really take it easy for the next 2 months, exercise only 2-3 times per week (Runs ~ 5km max and cycle ~20km) and take some supplements. Not sure what I am going to do with myself and how I am going to be so disciplined. I will give it all a go, sleep more, do a bit of strength training & stretching and hopefully will be back up and running in July or August to get fit over the summer.

A friend Mark Franks, gave me some words of wisdom “In a way that’s good news. However, I sympathise with where you are at. Might be a good thing to let the body recover and you may come back better than you were.  I bet you’ll feel better within a month of resting. Might have to join a shiur or something! Exercise your spiritual side!  Take it easy! Mark

Picking up Katiia at kinder on Wednesday, I noticed a Quote of the Day at the school that I really think has a very powerful message that puts things in perspective.

“You fall, you rise, you make mistakes, you live and learn. You’re human, not perfect. You’ve been hurt but, you’re alive – to breathe to think, to enjoy, and chase the things you love. Sometimes, there is sadness in our journey but, there is also lots of joy. We must keep putting one foot in front of the other even when we hurt. For we will never know what is waiting for us around the bend” – unknown 

We all put these sports stars on such a pedestal, but forget that they are not always super-human.

So brave! Another example showing how tough sport can be even for those at the top! Respect @greg_inglis “ – Dan Mugford (Rugby Union Player)

I noticed a quote from Maria Sharapova after she did not get a wildcard entry to the French Open[i]If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, every day. No words, games, or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams. And I have many.”

GI knew he needed help, Maria Sharapova knows what is needed to get back to the top and I identified that a change was needed to once again get back to feeling good after my training. Reading an article by Matt Frazier the No Meat Athlete[ii] titled “Maybe you’re not a failure” he said something that I think ties in very well with what I have written and it reminds people like me that to get back you to take your recovery seriously and ensure you do what has been professionally prescribed to get back to full strength & fitness. “You can’t just flip a switch. Instead, you have to train your mind, one small step at a time. To deliberately focus on what you know will serve you, and to purposely ignore everything else.”

[i] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-18/sharapova-says-she-will-rise-up-again/8536216

[ii] http://www.nomeatathlete.com/about/

The Number #7

The number 7 shirt is an honour and responsibility. I hope it brings me a lot of luck.” – Christiano Ronaldo

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

The Torah section of Emor (“Speak”) begins with the special laws pertaining to the kohanim (“priests”), the kohen gadol (“high priest”), and the Temple service: A kohen may not become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, save on the occasion of the death of a close relative. A kohen may not marry a divorcee, or a woman with a promiscuous past; a kohen gadol can marry only a virgin. A kohen with a physical deformity cannot serve in the Holy Temple, nor can a deformed animal be brought as an offering. 

A newborn calf, lamb or kid must be left with its mother for seven days before being eligible for an offering; one may not slaughter an animal and its offspring on the same day.

The second part of Emor lists the annual Callings of Holiness—the festivals of the Jewish calendar: the weekly Shabbat; the bringing of the Passover offering on 14 Nissan; the seven-day Passover festival beginning on 15 Nissan; the bringing of the Omer offering from the first barley harvest on the second day of Passover, and the commencement, on that day, of the 49-day Counting of the Omer, culminating in the festival of Shavuot on the fiftieth day; a “remembrance of shofar blowing” on 1 Tishrei; a solemn fast day on 10 Tishrei; the Sukkot festival—during which we are to dwell in huts for seven days and take the “Four Kinds”—beginning on 15 Tishrei; and the immediately following holiday of the “eighth day” of Sukkot (Shemini Atzeret). 

Next the Torah discusses the lighting of the menorah in the Temple, and the showbread (lechem hapanim) placed weekly on the table there. 

Emor concludes with the incident of a man executed for blasphemy, and the penalties for murder (death) and for injuring one’s fellow or destroying his property (monetary compensation).

Recently I was listening to a Podcast with Rip Esselstyn[1]. Rip is a former firefighter, triathlete and son of Caldwell B. Esselstyn[2]. Both Rip and his father are strongly in favour of a plant based diet and how such a diet can reverse heart disease. “Plant-based nutrition provides us with a pathway to escape the coronary artery disease epidemic”. In the Podcast, he talks about his new book “The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet”. The book includes what he calls the 7 Pillars of his diet. In the Podcast, he talks about the number 7 in detail.

  • The 7 wonders of the world;
  • The 7 Colours of the rainbow;
  • The 7 musical notes; and
  • The 7 habits of highly effective people – Stephen Covey[3].

The 7 pillars or principals in his diet are:

  1. Why we love Plants?
  2. Why we love WHOLE plant based food? (he refuses to be called a VEGAN, as not all vegans are healthy)
  3. Why we don’t want to drink our calories?
  4. Why we are concerned about calorie density?
  5. Why we don’t worry about protein? (it’s in the plants)
  6. Why eliminate salt, fat and sugar?
  7. Why we want to exercise? – The more you give the more you get back!

 “Running under two hours will mean no human has limitations. So I am running on Saturday to prove to any human in this universe that there are no limitations. We need to push and stretch beyond our thinking.” – Eliud Kipchoge

BUT, what made me write this Blog was I noticed a comment on Twitter from Eliud Kipchoge after his unsuccessful attempt at running the Marathon sub 2 hours on Saturday. He posted on Twitter[4] that he had been training for the #Breaking2 for YES – 7 months and goes on to list 7 points that were part of his 7 months of hard work:

  1. dedication,
  2. patience,
  3. diligence,
  4. hope,
  5. faith,
  6. self-discipline, and
  7. gratitude

This week’s Torah Parsha includes reference to the number 7 (I had thought about this Blog before reading the summary of the Parsha), including:

  • Shabbat being on the 7th day;
  • 2 of the 7 ‘species’ are mentioned (The seven-species listed are wheat, barley, grape, fig, pomegranates, olive (oil), and date);
  • The 7 weeks between Pesach and Shavuot;
  • An animal must be with its mother for seven days before it can be brought as a sacrifice; and
  • The holiday of Passover is seven days (in Israel).

The point is that hard work is good for you and shouldn’t be avoided. Our pop culture and government have vilified anything hard as “bad.” This is a shame because humans grow through hard work and atrophy when things are too easy.” ― Mark Divine, Unbeatable Mind

I am currently reading ex-Navy SEAL, Mark Divine’s book “Unbeatable Mind[5]”. In the book, he mentions the SEAL Code and what it stands for. He says that the SEAL Code is one of the greatest creeds of martial history and is one of the most succinct articulations of how a warrior culture is to conduct themselves in war and peace. Read for yourself and decide:

  1. Loyalty to Country, Team and Teammate;
  2. Serve with Honour and Integrity On and Off the Battlefield;
  3. Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit;
  4. Take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates;
  5. Excel as Warriors through Discipline and Innovation;
  6. Train for War, Fight to Win, Defeat our Nation’s Enemies; and
  7. Earn your Trident[6][7] every day.

So what is the significance of the number 7? I will keep it simple and leave great speakers like Rabbi Akiva Tatz to explain the mystical reasons in much more detail. Numbers resonate in our consciousness and our world but no number has the power and significance of the number seven. In Jewish though[8] it is the perfect number. More than that, it is Judaism’s most sacred number. Seven is completeness and wholesomeness.

Numbers have power and significance.  While all numbers are, important some have greater significance, often due to their properties as primes or unique, or their role in anchoring our numbering system.

The significance of “seven” is woven throughout our lives and experience[9]. The seven branches of the Temple Menorah. The sprinkling of blood seven times in the Temple. The seven days of shiva (days of mourning). The seven days of celebration for chatan and kalah (bride and Groom). Seven aliyot (Weekly Parsha is broken into 7 parts). Seven mitzvoth required on Sukkot. Seven major days of celebration in Jewish calendar. Seven days of nidah (days of ritual impurity) … and on and on (see an in-depth article and list[10]).

Now – Waiting for a #lovegoodcoffee at my favourite spot in the Melbourne CBD (Patricia), I am thinking – How do I end this Blog? There are a few coffee roasters and shops with a number 7! I think that people everywhere long to feel a sense of wholeness and completeness in their lives and it’s not uncommon to find one talk about how “something’s missing”, and they can’t quite figure out what. Seven completes a cycle fully and wholly. To adopt a change in diet by embracing the Rip’s 7 pillars or to follow Eliud’s hard work strategy to run a sub 2-hour marathon or to adopt the creed of the SEAL is to arrive at one’s full potential and real self.  A state where you feel this state of wholeness and completeness. This is only achieved if all the points are followed – Imagine a missing chord or colour in the rainbow? Without the ‘effort’, one’s life is lived as a series of discrete moments, with good and evil, success and failure intimately related.

This week I listened to the amazing Turia Pitt on a Podcast[11]. She is a truly amazing, resilient and driven person. Today I noticed that she posted on Twitter a quote that I think fits in quite well and sums up what completeness I – “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together” @VanGoghTheLife @vangoghmuseum

[1] Rip Esselstyn is a health activist, plant based diet supporter, former firefighter and triathlete. He is widely known for writing the books: The Engine 2 Diet and My Beef With Meat and for appearing in the 2011 documentary Forks Over Knives. Rip stopped by the Forward Podcast studio to talk: the health benefits of plant based diets, being hired by Whole Foods, and his new book The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet: Eat Plants, Lose Weight, Save Your Health.

Read more at

[1] – http://theforwardpodcast.libsyn.com/rip-esselstyn#xVWxmvXumHQbXSjB.99

[2] http://www.dresselstyn.com/site/about/about-dr-esselstyn/

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_7_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_People

[4] https://twitter.com/EliudKipchoge

[5] http://unbeatablemind.com

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trident

[7] My Trident is a symbol of honour and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

[8] https://www.ou.org/torah/parsha/parsha-from-ou/seven-the-power-of-numbers/

[9] https://www.ou.org/torah/parsha/parsha-from-ou/numbers-dont-lie-balance-symmetry/

[10] http://www.betemunah.org/seven.html

[11] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/turia-pitt/

CLIMBING A SLIPPERY LADDER

Be smart and listen to your body.” – Chris Hauth, Triathlon Coach and former Olympic Swimmer

Torah Parsha (portion) Tazria-Metzora in a Nutshell from www.chabad.org 

The Parshahs of Tazria and Metzora continue the discussion of the laws of tumah v’taharah, ritual impurity and purity. 

A woman giving birth should undergo a process of purification, which includes immersing in a mikvah (a naturally gathered pool of water) and bringing offerings to the Holy Temple. All male infants are to be circumcised on the eighth day of life.

Tzaraat (often mistranslated as “leprosy”) is a supra-natural plague, which can afflict people as well as garments or homes. If white or pink patches appear on a person’s skin (dark pink or dark green in garments or homes), a kohen is summoned. Judging by various signs, such as an increase in size of the afflicted area after a seven-day quarantine, the kohen pronounces it tamei (impure) or tahor (pure). 

A person afflicted with tzaraat must dwell alone outside of the camp (or city) until he is healed. The afflicted area in a garment or home must be removed; if the tzaraat recurs, the entire garment or home must be destroyed. 

When the metzora (“leper”) heals, he or she is purified by the kohen with a special procedure involving two birds, spring water in an earthen vessel, a piece of cedar wood, a scarlet thread and a bundle of hyssop. 

Ritual impurity is also engendered through a seminal or other discharge in a man, and menstruation or other discharge of blood in a woman, necessitating purification through immersion in a mikvah.

We’re all in our journey to our best lives and it’s not easy, it does get exhausting…. ” – Kelly Rowland in a recent article in the Sunday Life Magazine[i]

On Pesach Rabbi Noam Sendor gave a sermon at Shule. In the sermon, he spoke of being stale and ways to try refreshing yourself spiritually. He then changed the ‘tempo’ of the service and we all did a meditation sessions with Rabbi Noam humming a “nigun” (Jewish Religious Song). I think this created an exciting atmosphere and enhanced everyone’s experience for the rest of the service.

Nothing is more dangerous for a person than to remain spiritually stale, and we are therefore required to count the 49 days of the Omer (from Passover to Shavuot). In order to prepare ourselves for the upcoming celebration of Shavuot and the giving of the Torah, we are asked to climb a ladder of 49 spiritual steps, each day adding another dimension to our souls.” – Rabbi Cordoza

Over the last few months I have been battling with my training and how I have felt post-training. At this stage I am not sure what the cause of this is, but I have decided to reduce my training and increase my protein (BCAA) intake which is meant to enhance recovery.

Take a step back and recognise the warning signs of overdoing it.” – Stef Hanson (Editor of WITSUP (Women in Triathlon) – See her Article “I Was not OK

Without seeking proper medical advice, I can only guess what this may be related to overtraining , but I will monitor and seek the appropriate advice if the symptoms don’t improve, and make the necessary changes to my training, diet and lifestyle. In Steph’s article she mentions her steps to recovery – STOP (stop what she was was doing), COLLABORATE (with friends, doctors etc) and LISTEN (to your body, doctors etc). There is nothing better than feeling great after a training session.

In a recent Rich Roll Podcast featuring Danielle LaPorte[ii], she discusses how this quest for growth can as she says “…become an obsessive malignancy — a sort of spiritual eating disorder gnawing away on our very soul.” In the Podcast, she does discuss what we can try to do to overcome this obsessive behaviour.  (I will try para-phrase what she said on the Podcast[iii]) “She suggests that we try and examine what we are doing. She then goes onto say that we may want to leave all these practices and later comeback to them on our own terms.”

I would like to share a few thoughts on the counting of the Omer from various articles that I have read.

  • Commentators are consequently surprised to notice that the actual counting of the Omer begins on the second day of Pesach and not on the first. If the purpose of counting is indeed to re-enact the entire historical period between Pesach and Shavuot, why not start on the same day that the Exodus took place, which was also the first day that Jews began their journey to moral freedom? Rabbi Cordoza[iv] provides a beautiful answer “The real struggle for moral liberty started the day after the exodus from Egypt. The first day was a given; it was the day of G-d, not of the people. It was the day of passivity and complete surrender. Only the next[v] day did the spiritual labor of humanity begin. Consequently, that is the first day of our spiritual elevation.” He goes on to say “We are brought into this world to take moral action, grow spiritually, and dignify ourselves through hardship and struggle.” This is OUR struggle for GROWTH;
  • In the Kehillat Ohr David booklet Romy Spicer asks if people are too focussed on the counting and the restrictions during the Omer period and forgetting about the actual theme of growth. She then goes onto say “… the lessons we learn from the Omer is that it takes serious time, commitment and discipline in order to grow”; and
  • Instead of counting “down” toward the big day, we count “up” from one to 50. ladderWhy[vi]? “… Spiritual growth, like climbing a ladder, must be one step at a time.” So, don’t just count the Omer ― #MakeTheOmerCount.

“There is ALWAYS a value in training, even if you feel like crap. Get in the habit of finding it. Don’t just go home or break off the set.” – Chris Hauth‏ @AIMPCoach

In a great Facebook post[vii] from David Goggins (The SEAL in the Book[viii] – Living with a SEAL), he mentions a story of a person who approaches him while he is exercising. “…He asked for what am I training. I said, “life.”  Sometimes life will throw a 2am call at you, saying “you lost a loved one.” Life may throw a “you’re fired from your job.” Life may throw at you, “you have cancer” or some other major health problem.  Life is relentless as hell. Life throws nasty curve balls. Question is: are you prepared to hit the ball? I write so raw and real because that’s how life came at me….raw and real! I keep my body and mind strong so when I get that when I get the 2am call or my health goes bad again, I am ready. To stand for something, sometimes you must stand alone. To stand alone you have to be hard enough to endure whatever life throws at you. If your mind can’t handle it you will begin following sheep. It’s never been about the races. It’s about being prepared for life….”

I understand that I need to find the balance between training and rest, but I know that based on my personality, I need to do something, I need to train for “life” and more. I see that growth can only come if I am doing or learning. Unfortunately, with overtraining, the progression can be so gradual that you may not recognize the impending consequences that are lingering around your training. By the time you realize what has happened, overtraining symptoms such as fatigue, poor exercise performance, and a general loss of interest in training may have become completely onset and your only recourse is the loss of fitness by reducing training and increasing rest.

I need to listen to my body, find the fun again in my training, remember why I started and maybe I just need to climb the ladder slower! .

As my wise friend, Aubrey Levy said “You are on a winning wicket mate. Rest takes practice just like training.”

[i] http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/celebrity/kelly-rowland-the-strong-women-who-helped-me-discover-my-selfconfidence-20170420-gvogqp.html

[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danielle_LaPorte

[iii] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/danielle-laporte/

[iv] https://www.cardozoacademy.org/thoughts-to-ponder/sefirat-haomer-spiritual-ladder/

[v] Indeed, on the second day, G-d no longer pulls the strings. It is as if He decides to fade into the background, and the people have to become more active.

[vi] http://www.aish.com/h/o/t/48970201.html

[vii] https://www.facebook.com/iamdavidgoggins/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf

[viii] http://www.the100mileman.com/living-with-a-seal/

PODCASTS AND PESACH

I noticed a quote from Rabbi Danny Mirvis as Ben Zoma taught, “Who is wise? One who learns from all people” (Avot 4:1)

This week’s Torah portions Tzav in a nutshell from www.chabad.org

G‑d instructs Moses to command Aaron and his sons regarding their duties and rights as kohanim (“priests”) who offer the korbanot (animal and meal offerings) in the Sanctuary.

The fire on the altar must be kept burning at all times. In it are burned the wholly consumed ascending offering; veins of fat from the peace, sin and guilt offerings; and the “handful” separated from the meal offering. 

The kohanim eat the meat of the sin and guilt offerings, and the remainder of the meal offering. The peace offering is eaten by the one who brought it, except for specified portions given to the kohen. The holy meat of the offerings must be eaten by ritually pure persons, in their designated holy place and within their specified time. 

Aaron and his sons remain within the Sanctuary compound for seven days, during which Moses initiates them into the priesthood.

I planned a Blog last week, but did not get a chance to prepare it, but over Shabbos I was able to reflect on this idea and this week’s Parsha continues the theme of sacrifices.

In last week’s Parsha Vayikra,  I was able glean some beautiful thoughts that I will incorporate into my Blog.

In Rabbi Frand’s Dvar Torah[i] he brought down an idea regarding the offerings. HaKsav v’HaKabalah[ii] writes that when a person brings a korban (a sacrifice) he wants to do Teshuva (repentance). Korban comes from the word karev — which means coming closer. When a person brings a korban that says he wants to be better.

I think that this applies to so much in our lives. To learn and grow we need to make the effort and make ‘sacrifices’. So, when we download a Podcast, we are making this effort.

Over the last few years I have learnt so much from the Podcasts that I listen to. I would like to share a list of some of these Podcasts that I regularly listen to, as people have asked me what Podcasts I listen to:IMG_3724 2

  • Rich Roll – Plant powered Wellness Advocate, Bestselling Author, Ultra-Athlete & Podcast Host Rich Roll
  • The Daily Halacha – Rabbi Eli J. Mansour
  • MaccaX Uncensored. By Chris “Macca” McCormack
  • MamaMia uncensored – Mia Freedman has no filter. Not in life, not in work, not ever. This is a podcast where she chats to interesting people about their careers, their families, and what makes them tick. It’s a one on one conversation with no filter. Nothing is off limits. From the dressing rooms of famous media faces, to the offices of some of Australia’s most powerful minds, Mia takes you there. Unedited, unabashed, unfiltered.
  • Osher Gunsburg Podcast – A weekly conversation of inspiration with someone who’s figured out how to get paid to do what they love.
  • The Forward Podcast with Lance Armstrong – The Forward Podcast with Lance Armstrong gives the audience a rare and revealing listen into Armstrong’s conversations with some of the most interesting people he’s met through the years. The Forward Podcast is a personal, honest, engaging and always entertaining dialogue that leaves the listener with new insights and information every week.
  • WITSUP Podcast – The WITSUP, women in triathlon, podcast is a lot more than just swim, bike and run. It’s all about getting to know the person behind the triathlete
  • Office of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
  • Ask Prof Noakes Podcast – is your chance to ask Professor Tim Noakes your questions relating to the LCHF or Banting Diet
  • Others including: The Tim Ferris Show, No Meat Athlete, TRS Radio, TriSpecific

“In reality G-d has given each of us our own unique mission and role in this world. Determining our role, hearing our own personal “Vayikra” (Calling) and then following it to the best of our abilities is a mighty challenge, but also the thing which will bring most meaning and fulfilment to our lives.” – Based upon the works of Rabbi J Sacks. This can only be found by seeking out, learning and expanding our minds from all these teachers, Podcast hosts and especially from their guests.

I often hear Podcasts hosts talking about all the work involved in finding guests, planning the Podcasts, researching the guests and preparing the Podcasts for upload. This really resonates as the husband of a teacher.  In Chief Rabbi Mirvis’s weekly Dvar Torah[iii], he mentions how teachers are undervalued and not fully appreciated. I most definitely appreciate all my wife’s effort and especially her hard work, commitment, her love for teaching and the pupils that she teaches.

“‘Mimtim Yadcha Hashem’, in truth, we learn from this last week’s Parasha that it is our teachers who are the greatest.” – Chief Rabbi Mirvis[iv]. He goes on to say “…They (teachers) are the ones who are moulding and shaping the minds and the hearts of the next generation…

With Pesach next week, I will share a nice thought that I read from Rabbi Yacov Nagen[v] on the four sons that are mentioned in the Haggadah.

“The Torah speaks of four children: One is wise, one is wicked, one is simple and one does not know how to ask.” – The Haggadah

The four children represent four different types of personalities. Because life is dynamic, each person, during his or her lifetime, often incorporates aspects of all four of these personalities. The transformation between the different identities may be confusing and frustrating, especially when it is from a “positive” personality, to one which is considered “negative”. Therefore, it is important to understand that each of the four personalities mentioned in the Haggadah reflect four stages of spiritual searching.

The difference between three of the sons and the wise son is that none of the three tries to view the world through spectacles of questioning and searching. The first son does not know how to ask, the second son thinks that all his questions have been answered, and the third son thinks that his questions have no answer — so there is no point in asking and searching. As opposed to them, the wise son returns to the questions. He is willing to return and re-ask the questions.

The wise son of the Haggadah did not get his name from his sharp answers, but because of the questions he asks. He is the only one out of the four sons who knows that he does not know.

A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” – Brad Henry[vi]

 

 

[i] http://torah.org/torah-portion/ravfrand-5777-vayikra/

[ii] Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Meklenburg (1785–1865)

[iii] http://chiefrabbi.org/article/dvar-torah-parashat-vayikra-2/

[iv] http://chiefrabbi.org/article/dvar-torah-parashat-vayikra-2/

[v] https://www.ou.org/holidays/passover/pesach_haggada_the_wise_son/

[vi] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brad_Henry