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November 17, 2016

simplicity-01“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” ― Steve Jobs

Below is this week’s Parsha (Torah Portion) Vayeira in a nutshell from

 G‑d reveals Himself to Abraham three days after the first Jew’s circumcision at age ninety-nine; but Abraham rushes off to prepare a meal for three guests who appear in the desert heat. One of the three—who are angels disguised as men—announces that, in exactly one year, the barren Sarah will give birth to a son. Sarah laughs.

 Abraham pleads with G‑d to spare the wicked city of Sodom. Two of the three disguised angels arrive in the doomed city, where Abraham’s nephew Lot extends his hospitality to them and protects them from the evil intentions of a Sodomite mob. The two guests reveal that they have come to overturn the place, and to save Lot and his family. Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt when she disobeys the command not to look back at the burning city as they flee.

 While taking shelter in a cave, Lot’s two daughters (believing that they and their father are the only ones left alive in the world) get their father drunk, lie with him and become pregnant. The two sons born from this incident father the nations of Moab and Ammon.

Abraham moves to Gerar, where the Philistine king Abimelech takes Sarah—who is presented as Abraham’s sister—to his palace. In a dream, G‑d warns Abimelech that he will die unless he returns the woman to her husband. Abraham explains that he feared he would be killed over the beautiful Sarah.

G‑d remembers His promise to Sarah, and gives her and Abraham a son, who is named Isaac (Yitzchak, meaning “will laugh”). Isaac is circumcised at the age of eight days; Abraham is one hundred years old, and Sarah ninety, at their child’s birth.

Hagar and Ishmael are banished from Abraham’s home and wander in the desert; G‑d hears the cry of the dying lad, and saves his life by showing his mother a well. Abimelech makes a treaty with Abraham at Beersheba, where Abraham gives him seven sheep as a sign of their truce.

G‑d tests Abraham’s devotion by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. Isaac is bound and placed on the altar, and Abraham raises the knife to slaughter his son. A voice from heaven calls to stop him; a ram, caught in the undergrowth by its horns, is offered in Isaac’s place. Abraham receives the news of the birth of a daughter, Rebecca, to his nephew Bethuel.


I noticed in the paper on the weekend a headline “Health is the new Wealth”. I thought that this links in very well with the idea I had for the Blog. As in the past I will give a recap on my thoughts of the Shabbos Project and link this in with the idea.

Over the last 2 years the Shabbos Project in Melbourne has got bigger and bigger. This year I was told that they were going to downscale the Shabbos Project. Before the Shabbos Project I heard a Podcast from Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein the founder of the Shabbos Project. He mentioned that he had asked kids at various schools what Shabbos meant to them. He made mention of various answers given, but the most common answer was spending time with the family and enjoying Friday night with the family. This year our family made a conscious effort to keep things ‘simple’ and spend time together. For our family, this started with the Friday night Shule service held at an old age home that included a brilliant Lecha Dodi[i] by Rabbi Sendor dedicated to Leonard Cohen in the tune of Hallelujah, followed by a candle lit dinner at my parents. As my Mom, would say “it’s so special”

Quote from Banksy – “Keep people in your life who truly love you, motivate you, and make you happy. If you know people who do none of these things, let them go.”

This theme of simplicity leads into two recent Podcast I have heard on

  • The Rich Roll Podcast with Joshua Fields Milburn (JFM) on How to be a Minimalist; and
  • The Fat Black Triathlon Podcast on Simplicity

To paraphrase Rich Roll and to quote JFM It’s about creating more by consuming less. It’s about prioritizing experience over accumulation. It’s about reclaiming our precious time. It’s about discovering meaning. It’s about growth, contentment and love. And it’s about the deep personal satisfaction that comes with contributing beyond ourselves.

But most of all, this is a conversation about, to coin Joshua’s brilliant phrase, “why we should love people and use things. Because the opposite never works.”

In the Fat Black Podcast, they highlighted that we live in a complicated world, and each year we see the sport of triathlon that we love become more and more complex, yet results remain unfulfilled. If it was as easy as the fastest bike, the latest gadget, the most complex training plan, and supplement X, wouldn’t everyone be smashing their respective goals? The Podcast highlights the key areas that they see triathletes overcomplicating and look at workable solutions to creating simplicity.

Triathlon is meant to be a simple sport of swim, bike and run, but gets complicated when people say there is a 4th discipline ‘nutrition’ and in an article by champion athlete Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander details the essential lifestyle and training tenets that separate triathlon from other sports, namely[ii]:

  • Balance
  • Consistency
  • Endurance
  • Adaptability
  • Recovery

obsessedLoren may tell me that I am obsessed, but with all this complexity the goal for me is to train, have fun and try be an ATHLETE.

“Being an athlete is a mindset/approach/focus/discipline 365 days a year, not when u are IN season. Athlete or Participant?  Which are you?” – Chris Hauth ‏@AIMPCoach

Under Crowie’s consistency tab he states “Triathletes weave together work, family and challenging workout schedules. The road to the finish line is paved with a realistic program that allows us to constantly invest to go farther.

Triathlete coaches are also focussing on simplicity, and telling people to forget the ‘gadgets’  – Chris Hauth ‏@AIMPCoach  “…Easy run or bike? Turn the electronics off & train on feel. Listen to your body vs. HR monitor/GPS/pace/power etc. The body has a lot to say!”

In looking for something to write on this week’s Parsha in noticed an article by Rabbi Dror Moshe Cassouto on . What resonated was his bio[iii] that said “Rabbi Dror Moshe Cassouto spreads a message of Happiness, Simplicity, Faith, and understanding that it is okay to fail and fall. We are human beings – it’s our nature to get back up and start over again.

He says[iv]Simplicity is one of the main lesson Rebbi Nachman (Rebbe Nachman of Breslov) taught. Don’t get caught up in the details that don’t really make a difference…..”

In his weekly Dvar Torah on the Parsha he talks about the fact that Avraham, our forefather had the amazing midah (character trait) of caring so much about having guests even though that by doing so he gave up the special opportunity to receive prophecy from HaShem, and goes on to make the following statement” …. It’s very easy to write amazing abstract theories but the real wisdom is how to live by these advices and bring them down into our hearts and into our lives…..

I noticed a quote on Twitter from Dr Frank Lipman “Easy way to get healthy….eat more green leafy vegetables & healthy fats. These will fill you up while providing you with vital nutrients.”

With all these fad diets, dietary supplements and complicated monitoring processes – Why does everyone make diets soo complicated? We all just need to focus on JERF (Just Eat Real Food).

“If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements. And finally, there is an intense delight in abandoning faulty states of mind and in cultivating helpful ones in meditation.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

As life gets more complicated we all need to remember the important, simple things in our lives. Watching the movie Captain Fantastic is a lesson in living a life of simplicity with a focus on survival, running & training, reading books & education, playing instruments, eating from the land, family and Noam Chomsky day.

At the start, I mentioned that Health is the new Wealth, but for me HEALTH represents these important cornerstones of my life – Family, friends, my faith, training, keeping healthy, appreciating what I have and having fun.

“This life is short, but it contains everything. There is an inherent beauty in simplicity. Choose your path wisely; often the simple route is the most beautiful path to follow.”

― Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, Simplicity: Essays

“The point is that minimalism is a tool to help you achieve freedom. Freedom from fear, freedom from worry, freedom from overwhelm, freedom from guilt, freedom from depression, freedom from enslavement. Freedom. Real freedom.”

― Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

To end a post from @myrelationshipwithfood  – “Another day is another blessing. Don’t take it for granted”






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One Comment
  1. Mom permalink

    Sooo true, you especially need to focus on the positive & simple & positive things around you. It will give you the strength to overcome the challenges. Well done!

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