Archive for June 2015

Fighting Depression!!!

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of  Rabbi’s  Akiva Grunblatt,  Yissachar Frand, Yitzchak Ruben, Aron Tendler Dr. Abba Goldman, Mrs. Sarah Esther Crisp

I would like to discuss something so prevalent, so vital, that it has affected our communities, in the most devastating way, Depression. Unfortunately, it’s quite common perhaps because of the high expectation that we have to live by. Keeping up with the Jones and the Schwartz’s can be quite challenging and therefore our responsibilities and commitments assume humongous  proportions as we flounder in a sea of questions, misery and pain. Often there is the feeling that life isn’t worth living.


Furthermore, as a generation, we have become very psychologically sophisticated. Terms such as: psychotic, neurotic, depressed, suicidal, anxious, and Freudian color our expressions lending them distinct meanings. Prozac, Zoloft and more Psycho pills are filling our cabinets, glove compartments and making my pharmaceutical salesperson – friend rich, Yes, I know you’re reading this. This is what this country has become.


This is probably the most ideal time to present this important subject matter considering the upcoming parshiot which we will be reading in the next few months indicate depression in the air.


The Karliner Rebbe (1740-1792) was one to say, “Depression is not a sin – but the sins depression brings about are greater than any sin on its own.” When the fog of depression falls over one’s heart, all growth in is in jeopardy!!!


It should be noted that the prime directive which the Torah emphasizes is spiritual growth which is brought upon through positive energy.

Depression infuses a lack of hope; it instills a lack of belief in oneself; it’s debilitating and at times can lead to the most devastating unforgiving acts possible.


For two months during the summer, we read parsha after parsha that relates troubling episodes about the attitudes and behavior of our ancestors in the Wilderness.

Beha’aloscha, Shelach, Korach, Chukat, Balak, Pinchas, and Mattot-Massei contain incident after incident in which the pioneers of our nation acted in a manner unbecoming of the “Dor Deah” [“Generation of Knowledge”] which they were supposed to represent. In these parshiyot, the Torah describes sin following sin, complaint following complaint, rebellion following rebellion. “If this can happen to the generation that received the Torah at Sinai, what hope is there for us?”


The Torah tries to ease the sting by placing unusual upside down appearance of two letter ‘Nun’s which bracket the pasukim [verses] “When the Ark would journey, Moshe said ‘Arise, Hashem, and let Your enemies be scattered and let those who hate You flee from before You.’ And when it rested, he would say, ‘Reside tranquilly G-d among the myriads and thousands of Israel.'” [Bamdibar 10:35-36].


The reason why it was placed here was to put separation between the “first account of punishment” and the “second account of punishment” (to relieve the gloomy impact of an otherwise unbroken narration of one punishment after another, which is depressing) [Shabbat 115b].

I heard a profound insight by Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt – the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Chaffetz Chaim, which, I believe, you, the reader can either be the recipient or the one suggesting the profound knucklehead statement.


The Rabbi’s father – Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt  z’l was the Rabbi of the Queens Jewish Center – a large community in Forest Hills which consisted of many Jews from various backgrounds.


Please listen to this and ask yourself if this sounds familiar. Many years ago, Rabbi Akiva was having a conversation, with an individual apparently not as observant then him. The conversation centered on movies. The individual excitingly suggested some of the “must films” to see. However, he back tracked on some of the suggestions stating “I really loved that movie but you can’t see it…that one it’s not for you”. In other words what he was implying is, I can see it because I’m a lost cause; I’m done already, therefore there are two set of rules; I’ve done so many bad averot (sins) that there is no hope for me, but you, you’re still okay with the Creator.  As a matter of fact it would be, to a large extent, at this juncture of my life, chutzpah for me to ask forgiveness from G-d. So I’ll just drag my feet in the mud, live in my cesspool and watch the movies for I’m not worthy.


We see from this individual and from the Israelites in these parshiot that they pursued the “pleasures of life”. But what paved the way was “a no hope, I’m doomed anyway” feeling.


One has to realize a fundamental and very important aspect of Judaism that many overlook, which we learn from the onset of learning the ABC of Torah!!!    When we received the Torah attached to the intro is the statement ASHER HOTZEHTI ETCHEM M’ERETZ MITZRAIM – which I took you out from the land of Egypt. Apparently, that the Jews – our ancestors were in such a condition that they were the lowest spiritual level ever. They were in the 49th level – one above the last 50th which would deem them lost forever, and yet G-d forgave and redeemed them, elevating them to a nation status. The gravity of the statement is implying one can always return!!! As a matter of fact it is saying it, purposely, right in the introduction. One can read between the lines and understand as long as one’s alive he can’t give up on himself; the door is always open.


G-d provides us with an open window to come back which is in contrast to the “no hope depression” feeling that one at times develops. Perhaps, there is another dimension to G-d being labeled our Father. HE is the irrefutable, beyond compare role model for all parents for He exercises patience to the highest degree.


Our forefather, Avraham, was known for his hospitality. Once, an 86 year old traveling man was an unexpected invited guest staying for Shabbat. After encouragement to say the Grace after meal – acknowledging G-d – was refused by the old man. Avraham, frustrated, after the third meal, asked the man to leave. That night G-d appeared to Avraham and asked him “how was your day and tell me all about the guest that came over Shabbat”. Avraham went through the list and then mentioned that he asked the old man to leave after he was unappreciative and refused to acknowledge where the food really came from.  G-d answered Him “Avraham, I waited 86 years for him to acknowledge, you couldn’t wait a weekend?” Immediately, Avraham went to fetch the old man and pleaded to return.


We learn from an old pro on how to fight depression and how one can one take out the heavy feeling from his heart?


The valuable lesson comes from King David and his masterpiece work -Tehillim.  In the onset of Tehilim, it tells how King David approached teshuva-repentance and depression, and how we can learn, in practical terms, the art of repentance from him and how to come back. As we come to the third psalm, imagine for a moment King David’s situation. There are hardships, and there are hardships. The author of Tehillim can tell us a thing or two about such matters. We see King David being pursued by his own son, who wants to dethrone him. Worse, the majority of the populace supports the coup. Most depressing of all, much of this is due to David’s own mistakes.


Things couldn’t seem any darker. Yet we find him lifting up his voice to G-d with great poignancy. He starts his prayer with the words, “A song by David”. A song always expresses joy. With these first words of the psalm, we can begin to understand how he could not only survive such a shock but also grow from it.


Rav Shlomo Freifeld, zt”l, was an expert in giving encouragement to people in despair. One of his favorite lines was “Don’t be strong. Be great.” When life throws one of its curves at you, you can be strong, biting your tongue and bearing it stoically. That may get you through the hardship, but you haven’t gained anything other than a sore tongue. On the other hand, if you choose to accept what was sent your way and work through it, if you stretch every sinew of your soul to learn from the adversity, you can achieve greatness.


David cries out in pain, “How numerous are my tormentors! The great rise up against me!” His ache is palpable, and still he sings because his faith in G-d gives him the courage to turn adversity into a learning experience.

The fundamental root of turning adversity into a learning experience is found in the beginning of Bereshit.  . . . and darkness was on the face of the deep. . . And G-d said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. G-d saw that the light was good, so G-d separated the light from the darkness. . . And it was evening, and it was morning, one day.” (Bereshit 1:1-5)

From this seminal passage we see that darkness proceeded light. In order for light to exist, it had to be created. It didn’t exist on its own. The adversity (darkness) which King David experienced was turned into a learning experience (light). And even when light was created, it was still mixed together with darkness and had to be separated from it..


One has to face life ready to accept challenges realizing that darkness and all its problems inevitably must be transformed to light – the learning experience. Only then will prevention from depression take place. This is one of the first lessons we can derive from the Torah, from the darkness of Egypt G-d transformed us into a nation. If we show HIM an interest – the size of a needle, HE’LL open the gates to the palace showering us with the bracha – the size of an ocean!

Our Brave Israeli solderes protect the holy city of Tel Aviv

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s Paysach krohn,  Yissachar frand and survey by Boaz Davidoff


“Perception” is very important. How one sets the table determines the tone, the heartbeat of the moment. There is a very important lesson one can learn from this week’s parsha, Shlach, which our Sages try to emphasize. It comes naturally to one particular individual, my fun-loving aunt.  My Aunt Tamar has a unique quality of painting a rosy picture of our home land, Israel.
She set the tone many times as she picked us up from the airport when we arrived in Israel. I’ll never forget as we were waiting at the traffic light in her car, staring at the Israeli solders guarding the area surrounding the airport, how she raved these are the best solders in the world; they protect us. Those words gave me a reassuring feeling of safety, especially after all the attacks against our people. On many occasions, she would tell my mother, ” Roza, lo ta’amini kama ha’aretz shelonu hitpate’ach”, you would not believe how our Israel has blossomed”. She was referring to the new roads, central bus station and neighborhoods that had opened up. My mother grew up in Israel in the pre-state Palestine and early statehood. My Aunt Tamar would kid with me smiling and say “maybe its not as modern and sophisticated like your America but we’re not too far behind; we have kinyons- huge shopping malls too”. If one would play some Israeli popular culture tunes as she’s talking about the cafes and restaurants it would seem like an Israeli tourist commercial. A little song and dance to go with her pitch and I’m sold. Guide me to the American neighborhoods in Israel please!!
A student of Reb Yisrael Salanter ( father of the Musar movement in Orthodox Judaism and a famed Rosh Yeshiva and Talmudist) once went to his master and told him that he was going to Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel. He inquired of his Rebbe what he should be careful about. Reb Yisrael told him to be careful not to transgress the prohibition of speaking Lashon HaRah [evil] about Eretz Yisrael.  Just as our ancestors’ actions set patterns for us in a positive direction (ma’aseh Avot  siman l’Banim), so too can they do in a negative direction. There was an action of our ancestors concerning Eretz Yisrael — the incident of the Spies. This incident implanted for all generations a tendency within us, that when a person goes to visit Eretz Yisrael he may wish to dwell on its shortcomings rather than on its tremendous attributes. Reb Yisroel therefore told the student “Be careful, and don’t stumble in the sin of the spies.”
However it is becoming a difficult task to see the positive light. With the advent of jet airplanes and overseas travel, we can, at a whim, hop on a plane and spend a few days in Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel]. It wasn’t always so easy. In earlier times, travelling to Israel involved a long, exhausting, and sometimes dangerous journey over land and water. In fact, to “visit” Israel at all was quite uncommon. Most people who undertook the journey did so to move there permanently. To go there for a week or ten days was unheard of.
Today, we are blessed to have such ready accessibility to our Holy Land. Sometimes, though, this blessing can be a two-edged sword. The easier it becomes to visit Israel, the more commonplace and ho-hum it becomes. Travelling to the Holy Land, which had once been seen as a holy pilgrimage and a spiritually uplifting mission which could change one’s life forever, is now weighed by potential vacationers against a trip to Florida or summer camp for the kids – “What should we do this year…” The more difficult something is, the more commitment and resolution it requires, the more meaningful it becomes. We have to be careful that in today’s global, travel-happy society, we do not lose sight of our Holy Land and its significance.
  The story of the Spies and their nation which looked a gift horse in the mouth and rejected it … the one time that they should have accepted it. Just as the momentary eating from the Aitz HaDa’as Tov v’Rah-the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil-cost mankind Paradise until this day, likewise has the momentary rejection of Eretz Yisroel back at our beginning cost us 3,322 years of exile, and counting. Scary how quick decisions can be costly.
We see many examples from the Torah how important the land is and what attitude we should have towards it. A verse concerning our forefather Avraham says “And G-d said to Avraham, ‘Lift your eyes and see from the place where you are standing there. For all the land that you see, I will give to you and your children.'” [Bereshis 13:14] Before G-d showed Avraham the Land, he advised him to lift up his eyes. That is the approach that one must take when viewing the Land of Israel. It must be with ‘lifted eyes’. It requires, sometimes, an uplifted vision to see beyond the imperfections and to recognize the beauty and greatness of the Land.
Our leader Moshe went through painstaking experiences to ensure that his successor would be ready to deal with such problems.
Many of us are familiar with the teaching of our Rabbis that the letter Yud that was added to the name Hoshea came from the name of our first Matriarch. Sarah originally was called Sarai. Moshe took the Yud that was dropped from her name and gave it to Hoshea. Moshe anticipated that Yehoshua would need tremendous strength and assertiveness to stand up against the other spies in defending the Land and the plan to inhabit it. Moshe felt that because of his personality traits, Hoshea did not have the resolve necessary to stand up and fight. That is why he had to give him the new name including the letter Yud.
But still, what does the Yud from Sarai have to do with protecting Hoshea?   If there was one personality in Tanach who had strength to stand up to adversity and know how to fight ill influences, that was our Matriarch Sarah. When she saw that there was a Yishmael growing up with her son Yitzchak and she saw that this person would provide the wrong type of influence for her son, she knew what type of action was necessary. She insisted, “Send this lady out of my house with her son, into the desert!” When Avraham questioned her how he could act so cruelly, G-d told him, “All that Sarai tells you, listen to her” [Bereshis 21:12]. That took a tremendous strength. But a mother knew what was right for her child. She knew that so-called compassion now would end in cruelty. What was required over here was to say emphatically, “I am sorry. I will not have my son ruined!” Yehoshua also required that. There were 10 people, great and worthy leaders. It would be necessary to stand-up to the Gedolei HaDor-people who are considered the heads of the generation, in effect. Where does one get that strength? One gets it from what Sarah our Matriarch had. Sarah was the Torah prototype when it came to standing up to the wrong crowd. The YUD represent the strength of personality that will be needed by Yehoshua.
There are many tests we encounter comparing the land of Israel and its people, our brothers, to other lands and nations of the world. Our thought and perception of Israel can be ruined by those notions.  That negativity is similar to Yehoshua encountering the ten spies. We need the YUD to stand up and fight the influence, the materialistic influence for that matter, against those seductions. We need the YUD to stop those who dissuade us from visiting, because of safety reasons, or to a higher extent, make pilgrimage to the holy land.
There was a study which found Israeli citizens who were on the lower part of the income chart, needed less to live and were satisfied with what they had more then any other citizens in the world.
When the Gerrer Rebbe, zt”l, (25 December 1866 – 3 June 1948), also known as the
Imrei Emes after the works he authored, was the third Rebbe of the Hasidic dynasty of Ger, went to Eretz Yisrael before the Second World War he wrote back a letter and referred to the “holy city of Tel Aviv”. His Chassidim wondered — we would understand “the holy city of Jerusalem”; we would understand “the holy city of Hevron”; “the holy city of Tzfat” — But the “holy city of Tel Aviv”?! What is so holy about Tel Aviv?
The Gerrer Rebbe wrote back and told his Chassidim, “The only Houses of Worship in Tel Aviv are synagogues! Other cities have churches and mosques, but Tel Aviv is holy — it has only synagogues!” This is the “lift your eyes” that G-d said to Avraham — to see that Tel Aviv has its holiness and not to dwell upon the imperfections.
We see more examples how careful one should be with people associated with the land. Yaacov our forefather was afraid of Eisav because perhaps his good deeds might prevail over his. What were his good deeds?  Eisav honored his parents in a tremendous way. Secondly, he lived in Israel.
The Talmud saw the Land of Israel as a supreme religious value that under certain circumstances allowed Jews to reacquire and purchase land in the Land of Israel from non-Jews even on the Shabbat. It promoted the concept of “yishuv Eretz Yisrael” – the settlement and upbuilding of the Land of Israel as a religious obligation and a supreme value in Judaism and Jewish life.
I was anxiously anticipating arriving at the old neighborhood, Floranteen, of where my grandparents lived. It has been twenty years since I visited; my grandparents have long since left this world. As I was coming nearer I could smell the scent of the sandy industrial neighborhood causing millions of memories of my childhood visits.
On one such memory, we were sitting, mom, Aunt Tamar and my grandparents, on the porch of my grandparents house, on a shabbat afternoon. where my aunt convinced me to eat a fruit; it was a peach. She said Israel has the best peaches in the world.
Today, my life style has changed. I had to give up  the Haagen-Dazs /pizza diet which I was a mainstay for the past gazillion years, because of health reasons.  Eating more fruits and vegetables is now a necessity. Being exposed to natures candy a lot more, I must admit, my Aunt Tamar was right. Israeli peaches are the best I have ever tasted. Perhaps the background music on the Israeli tourist commercial can stop. I’m sold on the land of Israel……HOW SWEET IT IS.

A Segula for an Eye Infection – Harmony Between Couples

Segula for an Eye Infection – Harmony Between Couples

An important lesson in Shalom Bayit:  Rabbi Meir would always give a lecture in Shul (Bet-Hakneset) Friday afternoon. Once time, the lecture took longer than usual when this woman, who attends his lectures every week, came home. She found all the lights turned off. The husband, who was quick-tempered, asked angrily, “Where were you for so long?” “I went to hear the lecturer’s speech,” she replied. “Don’t come inside unless you spit into the lecturer’s face.”
          Rabbi Meir knew of these events through the spiritual force. He, therefore, sat down in the study hall and moaned that he had pain in his eye. “Is there any wise woman who knows how to heal my eye with the well-known segula (remedy) of spitting into the eyes and uttering certain formulas?”, he asked. “Take this opportunity,” the woman was advised by friends, “then your husband will be reconciled.” When she came to the study hall to see Rabbi Meir, she felt a bit silly. However, Rabbi Meir looked like he took this segula very seriously and made it feel it was crucial for this to continue in order to attempt to heal his eye. “Spit in this eye seven times and the eye will get better”. She obeyed and he told her, “Now, go home and tell your husband you spat in the lecturer’s face, not once, but seven times”.
          Rabbi Meir’s students understood the purpose of this deceit. However, they proclaimed, “You’re a Talmud chacham and even more so, a leading Torah figure. Although, there was no humiliation because your performance was par excellence and very convincing, why go through all that trouble?” In fact, the Rebbi could have summoned the husband to his private chambers and scolded him that he should treat his wife better.
          He replied, “Meir’s honor is not greater than his creator. For the sake of restoring peace between husband and wife, the creator permitted His name to be eradicated in the water of the sotah. It follows, then that I must certainly disregard my dignity for the sake of peace.”
          The relationship of a husband and wife can see-saw back and forth from being very fragile to very strong. People don’t realize that by getting involved and giving the wrong advice, it can have a tremendous negative effect. Some of this advice is self-centered, where marriage has to be like mine or else it won’t work, not realizing that every marriage is unique and has to be treated accordingly.
          Rav Meir knew this is the approach that one has to take with this couple. Yes, Rav Meir really went out of his way. Now, we can realize the magnitude of G-d’s name being erased and how he went out of his way to restore harmony between a husband and wife.

Manipulation: dangerous or productive.

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of  Rabbi’s  Chaim Wagner, Dr. Abba Goldman
The great man! G-d empowered him with the ability to build or destroy the world. Man has the ability physically as well as spiritually, using the tools given, to make use of G-d’s playground as he wishes. Of course, inevitably, he will have to answer for his actions but for now he’s a free bird.
There is one particular tool that’s very interesting and I’d like to illustrate with a story that actually happened. Unfortunately, it happens quite often. The names and places are changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
Being single in the Jewish scene is very difficult. There is a lot of pressure in getting married and starting a family. Mazal is mazal, for some it’s easy to find “the one” and for some it’s not so easy. As an Orthodox Jew there is a degree of modesty that one has to adhere to and therefore he/she cannot, for the most part meet their mate anywhere. One goes on numerous blind dates. The credentials of the guy and girl are carefully checked before the two go out. It is rare that one meets his Eshet Chail walking up to her, with a drink in his hand, at a bar. The pick-up line, among the Orthodox is a lot less apparent than in the secular world. However its difficult, at times to stay idle and wait for the matchmaker or friend to call.
At one point, going to the Catskill Mountains for weekend Shabbatons at hotels was considered making an additional attempt. It makes the individual feel good that perhaps he’s making an effort, that perhaps he’s doing something!! The atmosphere, though, is very tense. People bottle up their emotions and try to put up a very happy face when going to a singles social gathering. There is much competition and a lot of hurtful feeling going around when what you perceive to be “the one you would spend a lifetime with” doesn’t agree with your sentiments. However, one cannot visibly display their inner pain. At times those feeling are displayed in a roundabout way.
Ruben and Lee were lounging around the hotel lobby on a Shabbat afternoon bored and a bit tired. They were surrounded by a few friends watching as other guests of the hotel, who were part of a singles Shabbaton, were entering and leaving when a familiar face, Sammy, entered the lobby.
As Sammy made his way and said his hello to the guys, he started to brag, as he usually does, about himself, about his business dealing the past week, and his good fortune he’s having over the weekend, Ruben glanced a smirk to Lee. Lee foresaw exactly what Ruben was going to do as he played along with him.
Ruben interrupted him and began to discuss a mutual friend who also approached the same girl as he did. “And did you know, Lee, they were talking for hours this afternoon” Ruben looked at Lee’s direction, as Lee nodded, yes. Lee, then, chimed in and, on a completely different topic, and said mockingly “and you know David said (a business maven in their circle of friends)” who ever bought the stock Three Star is going to take a bath”. They knew Sammy invested, heavily, in the stock. Ruben and Lee perhaps, perturbed by the weekend anxieties or by the annoyance of Sammy, cleverly and brilliantly engineered the fable story of the girl talking to the other friend as well as David’s prediction of the failed stock.
Ruben and Lee succeeded in accomplishing what they wanted, as Sammy exploded, made an ugly scene, and practically drew out, in a fit of rage, both the manager of the hotel and the program organizer to contain him.
Ruben and Lee knew Sammy had a short fuse; they knew what buttons to push. They were toying with him predicting and placing bets at what precise moment Sammy will lose it. After seeing this display, one is left to wonder are we wolves dressed up like sheep?
Man is made up of a four chemical makeup: fire, water, wind, and sand. Depending on each individual, the chemical makeup differs. If fire is dominant, then a person tendency’s is toward anger or toward pursuit of honor. When fire is lit, if one notices, it tends to go up; the same with a person who desires “kavod” – honor – if he receives just a slight compliment, his ego goes up, and up and away. If one tends to gravitate towards water, then he’s more prone to lusty bodily desires; that’s what’s on his mind. Wind is lightheadedness and sand is laziness and depression.
We read in this week’s parsha about a Nazir – a person who takes a vow to separate oneself from material pleasures. The Nazir may not drink wine or cut his hair. The Nazir is also prohibited in defilement through contact with a dead body.
When we speak about a Nazir the first name that comes to mind is Shimshon the most famous of them all.
Shimshon’s parents’ prayers were answered and after many years, they had a baby boy. However, the messenger, an angel, informed Shimshon’s mother “The baby you will have cannot drink wine and cut his hair.” Shimshon had tremendous strength and the secret of his strength was his “nezerut” (refraining from wine and a good barber).
Shimshon had a tendency to gravitate towards non-Jewish women. His first wife was burned by the Jews’ bitter enemy – Philishtim. His second wife, Delila, also not Jewish, was beautiful and Shimshon was smitten by her. Why did she marry him? Well, he wasn’t exactly your typical Jewish accountant. He was strong and the Philishtim were scared of him.

Delila was genuinely a good person; however, as time went on, she got corrupted. The spies of the Philishtim came over to Delila and offered her tremendous wealth and status. Then after the first meeting went so well, the officers came up to her place. Delila was flattered; she received so much attention and “kavod”. They knew how to manipulate her. A good person can deteriorate. Some say she had an affair; others say she had an affair with the money, with the “kavod”. Delila was sold on being their spy and she went to work for the Philishtim. She was to find out the secret of her husband’s power. She tortured him, refraining from sexual relations unless he reveals his secret. She nagged him and at times crying, “You don’t love me.” Apparently, she knew how to manipulate him. It’s hard for a man to be blackmailed with having physical relations. However, he can overcome and be strong. There was one important factor in this relationship; he loved her more then she loved him and she knew it!
Shimshon was a very holy and great man who was extremely sincere and loved G-d very much. One should never do what Shimshon did; he invited G-d to test his weakness. We tend to get all gung-ho about our religious level and sometimes we pray and say things that will haunt us later. Shimshon eventually revealed his secret and Delila quickly passed it on to the Philishtim contacts. Tragic ending to Shimshon.
At a banquet where all the major officers of the Philishtim army came to celebrate the capture of Shimshon who was chained to the great pillar at the banquet, Shimshon, whose eyes were gorged out, prayed one last time to G-d to forgive him and give him strength this one last time. G-d answered his prayer and with one thrust, he brought down the pillars and the building, and killed everyone, including himself.
Many lessons can be learned from the story of Shimshon and Delila but the one that’s greatly apparent is how manipulation was used to destroy a man. Furthermore the woman who destroyed Shimshon was manipulated herself. The manipulation tactic was aimed at their weakness and succeeded in exposing it.
However, manipulation can be positive. Aharon, Moshe’s brother was, famously known as, a man of peace, who deceived others in order to secure the “shalom” whether it be between husband and wife or friends. Manipulation, we see was a major and successful tool used by the greatest peacemaker of all time.
Interestingly, Yaakov, our forefather knew his future father-in-law, Lavan would try to manipulate him. So he devised a plan revealing to Rachel, the one he loved, secret signs as a precautionary measure just in case Lavan actually does switch Rachel with her sister Leah.
Indeed the switch took place and the next morning, low and behold, it’s Leah. However, we find that Leah wasn’t punished for deceiving and manipulating Yaakov. In fact, one can say it was admirable of her for going through with the charades. She didn’t want to marry a “rasha” like Eisav who she was destined for. So why does the verse say she was “senua”- hated by Yaakov? It was not manipulation at all. When Yaakov asked the next morning “why did you answer “yes” when I called Rachel’s name throughout the night” she responded rudely “I’m just following your example; when you received the “bracha” from your father, you answered deceitfully “I’m your oldest son – Eisav”. This is the reason why Yaakov became distant from Leah.
Manipulation is a way of life; it’s a tool that can be used to make people better or destroy them. Yes, it can reflect a lack of appreciation for another human being. One undermines another’s dignity. The manipulator gets his way in an underhanded manor. It shows a lack of respect. However, we mentioned briefly that Leah raised the issue how Yaakov and his mother, Rivka, conspired to manipulate Yitzchak, his father and that was crucial in the development of the Jewish people. Yitzchak, himself, later realized that he was wrong in favoring Eisav and believing he’s the chosen one.
Granted, in most cases it can lead to trouble, however, the Torah was made for people who have a mind and can reason. Nothing in this world is black and white. One should use prudent judgment and ask advice. G-d gave us all gifts and weaknesses and it’s our job to bring out the positive energy in others whatever which way. It’s also apparent that we must not let our weaknesses be magnified and fall victim to manipulation.
We see through manipulation the nation of Israel was formed. It can build or destroy – the choice is ours.