Allen S. Maller

Wisdom paths to a better New Year

Finding new paths to do things better is the best way to make the New Year better. These wisdom sayings have often helped me.

ANGER: Through anger wise people lose their wisdom. Resh Lakish-Pesashim 66

SELF RESPECT: Rabbi Shelomo of Karlin taught, “What is the worst thing that Satan can accomplish? To make a person forget that he or she is a child of God.”

MARRIAGE: A man should love his wife as himself, and honor her more than himself. Yevamot 62b

“An excellent woman is an excellent gift, given into the embrace of a God fearing man.” Sanhedrin 100b

“It is better to live outside the garden with Eve than inside it without her.” Blessed be the One who brought us near together and taught me to know the goodness of her heart and the sweetness of her soul. “Wheresoever she was, there was Eden.” From Mark Twain

WEALTH: Who is rich? He who has a wife whose ways are pleasant. Rabbi Akiba-Shabbat 25b

Who is rich? Those who are happy with what they have. Ben Zoma-Avot 4:1

FEAR: Rabbi Mordecai of Lekhovitz taught, “We must not worry. Only one worry is O.K. We can worry about being worried.”

Rabbi Nakhman of Bratzlav said: “The whole world is one long narrow bridge, so it is essential not to make yourself afraid.”

A Hassidic Sage near death, got up and danced. When they tried to stop him he said, “When they come to you with a very difficult demand, that is exactly the time to dance.”

MEANING: Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk asked, “Where can you find God? The other sages say that God is everywhere. I say God is wherever a person lets God in.”

Rabbi Michal of Zlotchov once said to his children, “My life was always blessed in that I never needed anything until I had it.”

RELATING TO OTHERS: If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I? Hillel-Avot 1:14

Evaluate every person with a favorable tilt. Yehoshua ben Perachyah-Avot 1:6

WISDOM: Who are wise? Those who can learn something from every person. Avot 4:1

Who are wise? Those who can foresee the consequences of people’s actions. Tamid 32a

Attempting to do everything, does nothing. Attempting to do something, can be done. Rosh Hashanah 4b

Our Rabbis taught: There are three whose life is no life; the overly compassionate, the hot-tempered, and the overly fastidious (continually critical perfectionist) Pesachim 113b

EXTREMISM: In today’s world of fanaticism and extremism the words of Rabbi Nachman, the great grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, should be continually repeated by all teachers of true religious devotion, “Never insist that everything go exactly your way, even in matters spiritual.”

Even saints can be overly righteous and thus have their shortcomings. Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin died in a most tragic manner. A Cossack shot him in the leg while he was saying the Shabbat morning prayers. His disciple Rabbi Asher wanted the bullet removed right away but Rabbi Shlomo refused. He said he would wait until after Shabbat was over, arguing ‘should we forget God the creator of the universe for such a small thing?”

After Shabbat was over they went to a doctor but by then the leg was infected, The infection spread and five days later Rabbi Shlomo died. He was 56. Perhaps with this in mind Rabbi Mikhal of Zlotchov said: “When the Evil Urge tries to tempt people to sin, it tempts them to become super righteous.”

About the Author
Rabbi Allen S. Maller has published over 850 articles on Jewish values in over a dozen Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. Rabbi Maller is the author of "Tikunay Nefashot," a spiritually meaningful High Holy Day Machzor, two books of children's short stories, and a popular account of Jewish Mysticism entitled, "God, Sex and Kabbalah." His most recent books are "Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms' and "Which Religion Is Right For You?: A 21st Century Kuzari" both available on Amazon.
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