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RU OK

September 12, 2014

RU OK - Bondi Beach“Today is @ruokday. Reach out to someone, talk and ask #ruok? And remember, it’s ok to say you’re not ok. #community” – @JewishCare

Below is a summary of Parsha (Torah Portion) Ki Tavo from 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.”

I often say this but it is amazing how themes come up during a week through the Torah Parsha, the internet, twitter, Podcasts etc. I was not going to do a Blog, but maybe all these things were a sign that I had to do one (Plus my Shiur this morning was cancelled).

Yesterday I organised a run with a friend Anton. We were both running from home to meet at Aubrey’s house. On the way to Aubrey it started pouring with rain. I was drenched. (this was not on the radar!) Waiting at Aubrey’s for Anton a guy came past with and umbrella and asked if I want to stand under his umbrella. I said I was waiting for a friend for a run and he said “I don’t think he is coming”. Anton arrived and we went on our run. (We had a pretty good run in the rain and wind – happy to have just got out and exercised).

It was so nice that someone took the time to ask about the umbrella and start a conversation.

Loren went shopping yesterday and in the car park a lady could not get into her car as someone had parked to close to her car, so Loren asked if she could help and moved the lady’s car. I am sure the lady was too shy to ask for help, but Loren asked R U OK.

As I have often mentioned in my blogs, I always try making a point to greet fellow runners or cyclists or have a chat with people in my lane at the pool. It can be lonely out there on your own.

This week I listened to a Podcast on a guy Preston Smiles. Rich Roll describes Preston as follows “Preston is a leader in the emergent world of conscious media, Preston is one of the most present, focused, passionate, open and giving people I have ever met. But honestly, everything that Preston is can be boiled down to one word – maybe the most important word in our lexicon – love.

A wellspring of creativity, Preston is a writer (The Huffington Post / The Daily Love), a motivational messenger, a thought leader and co-founder of something called The Love Mob – a global, grassroots flash mob movement that ignites community building through “Organized Acts of Love.”

But Preston of today evolved from a different person altogether. Raised under challenging circumstances, young Preston was a hyperactive, dyslexic gang member prone to beatings and beating others. An angry, disenfranchised young man looking at an almost certain future of violence, drug abuse, jails and institutions. But Preston was able to escape this path. An emotional and spiritual transformation that instead produced a man full of life, devoted to serving others and downright unafraid to embrace and exude love, consciousness and unity – hardly the most popular subjects among men in our society.

In this week’s Torah Parsha we read about the Bikkurim (first-ripened fruits). I read beautiful thoughts on this from both Rabbi Allon Ledder and Rabbi Mark Angel, but I would like to share something from Mark Angel.

‘”This week’s Torah portion begins with the laws of bringing bikkurim, first fruits, as offerings to the Almighty. The Me’am Lo’ez, the classic Ladino biblical commentary, pointed out that those who brought the first fruits of their fields were not only fulfilling a mitzvah: they were also internalizing important values. They learned to be generous, to be gracious, to be humble, to be grateful, to recognize that G-d is the Master of all. In short, this mitzvah helped people develop a positive, optimistic and sharing worldview.

The Torah itself describes the proper mindset of those who bring bikkurim: “And you shall rejoice in all the good which the Lord your God has given to you and to your household, you, and the Levite and the stranger that is in your midst” (Devarim 26:11). By fulfilling this commandment, one experiences happiness; one’s happiness spills over to the entire household. One learns to share blessings with others, especially those who are in need of an extra show of kindness.

Happiness is linked to an attitude of appreciation for all the blessings G-d has bestowed. It flows from an attitude of contentment and generosity. Those who constantly see faults and flaws, those are perpetually dissatisfied or hold grudges, those who lack generosity to others—such people fritter their lives away in self-imposed unhappiness. They drag themselves down, even as they attempt to drag others down. If only they internalized the lessons of bikkurim, they could live happier and better lives.

Rabbi David and Tamar de Sola Pool, in their book “Is There an Answer?” make the following observation: “It is we ourselves who can and who must make life worth living. In the face of the harshest realities, we must cling to life and exalt it by giving to its positive values a commanding place in our consciousness. …To look constantly on the seamy side of life is false to the totality of existence. We must gratefully remember life’s goodness and blessings. We must discern what is transient in experience and what is abiding in our consciousness” (p. 23).

Mark Twain wrote: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great.”

Developing a positive and generous outlook on life is a fundamental teaching of Judaism. Our Torah and mitzoth aim at helping us to become happier and better people; they prod us to be as good and as great as we possibly can be.

Yesterday was RUOK Day. I had never heard of it before. Nut it promotes such a strong message of love, unity and compassion. “It’s ‘R U OK?’ day. It wants Aussies to ask their mates “are you ok?” more regularly. Do you ask your mates if they’re ok regularly enough?” – @BreakfastNews

Preston Smiles Mission – “My mission is to empower, inspire and ignite a mutli-generational movement of radical growth through conscious, creative content, acts of love and living boldly. I believe we’re here to leave the planet better than we found it, and I’m committed to motivating others to join me on that mission, and live their best life NOW.” – http://www.prestonsmiles.com/

I have written too much this week. Rabbi Allon Ledder in his weekly Parsha Wrap leaves us with something to try. We all need to embrace this RU OK philosophy. During the month of Elul we can all try to do more acts of kindness. Not all of us have the personality of Preston Smiles to organise a LOVE MOB, but we can try to greet people or offer assistance. We can do this exercising, shopping or at our places of work. The comment from the guy with the umbrella really made my day. To end a quote:

“Our habits affect everything from our mood in the morning to our training.” ~ @rebsoni (Olympic Swimmer)

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One Comment
  1. Mom permalink

    Love this blog. It says so much that is meaningful. Thanks for sharing. xxx

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