Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

Your Day in the Sun

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Friday, August 17, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Mishna Avot 4,3 

HE (BEN ‘AZZAI) USED TO SAY: DESPISE NOT ANY MAN, AND DISCRIMINATE NOT AGAINST ANY THING, FOR THERE IS NO MAN THAT HAS NOT HIS HOUR, AND THERE IS NO THING THAT HAS NOT ITS PLACE.

Don’t forget the ”other people” would be the modern equivalent to this statement by Ben Azzai. But what is most remarkable about this Mishna is its cynicism. Rather than the ideal of all people have value; or, all people are created in the image of God and worthy of recognition, this Mishna offers a very practical construct for the individual who sees other people as merely a means to an end.  It says you can never know what role another person will come to play in your life.

Therefore, on your road to greatness, remember all of the people you may have stepped over on the way. They will certainly remember you.

Everyone has their day in the sun. Everyone has their hour of greatness. To you who have not yet experienced yours, know it is coming. The challenge of this Mishna is, how are you going to treat the other people in your life when it finally happens?

  

Small Alterations

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Mishna Avot 4,2

BEN ‘AZZAI SAID: RUN TO [PERFORM] AN EASY PRECEPT, AS [YOU WOULD] IN [THE CASE OF] A DIFFICULT ONE, AND FLEE FROM TRANSGRESSION; FOR [ONE] PRECEPT DRAWS [IN ITS TRAIN ANOTHER] PRECEPT, AND [ONE] TRANSGRESSION DRAWS [IN ITS TRAIN ANOTHER] TRANSGRESSION; FOR THE RECOMPENSE FOR [PERFORMING] A PRECEPT IS A PRECEPT, AND THE RECOMPENSE FOR [COMMITTING] A TRANSGRESSION IS A TRANSGRESSION.

We have no idea how one decision we make will determine the other decisions we have to make later.

There are varied influences and patterns that develop in our lives. We make a small mistake and that leads to another, and on and on and on. We make a good decision and that leads to other positive opportunities. We never know what will unfold in our lives.

This Mishna suggests that small choices can lead to a pattern of living. One small donation in the morning to the tzedekah box on your way out may lead you to a life of generosity, a mindset of giving. One brief blessing before eating may lead to a life of gratitude.

This Mishna challenges all of us to make one small alteration to our daily lives and we will see the enormous impact it may have.

 

  

Metrics for Success

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Mishna Avot 4,1

BEN ZOMA SAID: WHO IS HE THAT IS WISE? HE WHO LEARNS FROM EVERY MAN, AS IT IS SAID: FROM ALL WHO TAUGHT ME HAVE I GAINED UNDERSTANDING, WHEN THY TESTIMONIES WERE MY MEDITATION.  WHO IS HE THAT IS MIGHTY? HE WHO SUBDUES HIS [EVIL] INCLINATION, AS IT IS SAID: HE THAT IS SLOW TO ANGER IS BETTER THAN THE MIGHTY; AND HE THAT RULETH HIS SPIRIT THAN HE THAT TAKETH A CITY.  WHO IS HE THAT IS RICH? HE WHO REJOICES IN HIS LOT, AS IT IS SAID: WHEN THOU EATEST OF THE LABOUR OF THY HANDS, HAPPY SHALT THOU BE, AND IT SHALL BE WELL WITH THEE. HAPPY SHALT THOU BE — IN THIS WORLD, AND IT SHALL BE WELL WITH THEE — IN THE WORLD TO COME.   WHO IS HE THAT IS HONOURED? HE WHO HONOURS HIS FELLOW-MEN, AS IT IS SAID: FOR THEM THAT HONOUR ME I WILL HONOUR, AND THEY THAT DESPISE ME SHALL BE LIGHTLY ESTEEMED.

The S.A.T’s and A.C.T’s are not necessarily an indicator of future collegiate success.  And collegiate success is not necessarily an indicator of future success in life.

Each of us knows people who struggled through college or didn’t even attend college yet became very successful and vice versa.

This Mishna defines standards for success and intimates that we should be evaluating success by these values.  Wisdom, emotional stability, wealth, respect for others are all components of a "good" life that require our attention.  This Mishna suggests a framework for helping us to determine whether or not we have achieved our desired goals.