The realization that our own strength may be inadequate should never cause us to sink back into inertia. Never refrain from a good endeavor because the difficulties involved seem insurmountable. Keep in mind that we have a mighty Helper in the Almighty in all our good endeavors. Let us do our share; the Almighty will do the rest.
-Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
“Today’s Daily Lift #612”
May these words that I have prayed before God be close to God day and night, that He may do justice for His servant and for His people Israel, the needs of each day on that day.
When people lift heavy loads, they are likely to develop severe back pain. When they realize that they are overtaxing their bodies, they discontinue this practice and from then on will lift only as much as their bodies can safely bear.
While we can easily determine our body’s stress capacity, our psychological and emotional stress tolerance is not so readily measurable. Yet, if we exceed that stress level, symptoms of discomfort and dysfunction are just as apt to occur as when the body’s level is exceeded. How is one to determine one’s safe emotional and psychological stress level?
What could be simpler than following the instruction book provided by the Manufacturer?
During the Israelites’ sojourn in the desert, the manna was provided in portions just sufficient for one day, and any excess rotted away.
As for what they would eat the next day, the Israelites had been assured that there would be fresh manna the following day. Our appropriate stress tolerance is to be concerned for just one day – twenty-four hours. If we take on more than that, we may be overburdening the system. In our economy, lacking the miraculous manna and having the ability to save for the future, there may be justification for putting something aside for a rainy day. However, we often take on worries far in advance, about things that we are powerless to alter or to prepare for today. Such futile worry is harmful to a person.
Today I shall…
try to concentrate on my present needs and avoid worrying about things that are not within my capacity to change.
-Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski
“Growing Each Day, Cheshvan 4”
Just in case you ever wonder why I favor Jewish religious and spiritual sources over traditional Christian books and articles, what you’ve just read from Rabbis Pliskin and Twersky should be exceptionally familiar to anyone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus, and certainly to even the most casual reader of the Gospels.
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
–Luke 12:22-34 (ESV)
But knowing is easier than doing, in my case because I was recently reminded how scary some churches and some Pastors can be.
I can just “feel” Jesus admonishing me every time I write one of these “meditations,” particularly in the “Days” series. “Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch,” he might say if he chose to use the yiddish term. “All you do is kvetch. When are you going to do?”
But according to my previous “day” (73 Days, to be exact), I may already be “doing” something. Of course that could also be an excuse, “blaming” being intermarried for the fact that I don’t have a congregational affiliation. Even my wife, who only goes to shul once in a blue moon anymore, has an “affiliation” with both the Chabad and the Reform-Conservative synagogues in town. My only affiliation with them, as it were, is in paying for the annual memberships (yes, my name is on them along with my wife’s).
While a life of faith may contain many mysteries, it is primarily supposed to be a relationship of joy and wonder, not puzzlement and conundrum.
Bereishit is a cheerful sedra, even though its ending is not all that pleasant. Noach has the Flood, but the week ends on a happy note with the birth of our father Avraham. The really joyous week is that of parshat Lech L’cha. We live every day of the week with Avraham, the first to dedicate his very life to spreading G-dliness in the world. And Avraham bequeathed his self-sacrifice as an inheritance to all Jews. (See Tanya Ch. 18; Elul 21.)
Monday, Cheshvan 3, 5704
Compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Translated by Yitschak Meir Kagan
See what I mean?
On the other hand, putting the whole “church thing” to one side for the moment, there’s also this:
Torah-study every day is crucial to life itself. This applies not only to the soul of the one studying but also to the souls of his family. For then (through Torah-study), the atmosphere of the home becomes an atmosphere of Torah and piety.
Tuesday, Cheshvan 4, 5704
Compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Translated by Yitschak Meir Kagan
“Chronicles of the Apostles” takes students on a year-long study of the book of Acts with Messianic commentary and Jewish insights into the Epistles.
Follow the lives and adventures of the apostles beyond the book of Acts and into the lost chapter of church history. Study Jewish sources, Church fathers, and Christian history to reveal the untold story of the disciples into the second century.
This all new Torah Club Volume Six (2011–12) goes beyond the book Acts and opens the lost chapter of Messianic Jewish and Christian history.
In a Bible study that reads like an epic novel, Chronicles of the Apostles harmonizes Josephus, rabbinic lore, and apostolic legends to tell the story of the martyrdom of Peter, the work of Thomas, the flight to Pella, the fall of Jerusalem, John’s exile on Patmos, the Roman persecutions, the second generation of disciples, the transitions from Sabbath to Sunday and from apostolic Judaism to Christianity. Rewind your religion and discover the truth about our Jewish roots.
Since both Genesis and Noah have already been read, I’ll need to do a bit of catch up work in my “Torah Club” reading and audio “assignments,” but I’m anticipating a fresh influx of information and (hopefully) insights to share in my “morning meditations.” Perhaps (and this is also my hope), I’ll also experience fresh insights and spirituality within me as well.
But, as the quotes from the beginning of this little write-up suggest, no amount or type of study material will give you, me, or anyone else what we truly need: the ability to respond to God with faith and trust, and to follow His lead up into His heights, even when we find heights scary.