In 1856, Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Friedman of Sadugura, was arrested because of a libel and was kept in prison.
“I am permitted to serve the Almighty undisturbed,” Rabbi Avraham Yaakov told his visitors, “What difference does it make whether I am here, or anywhere else?”
His father in law, Rabbi Aharon Perlow of Karlin, who was allowed to stay with him for a while in his cell, asked him, “How do you feel in this awful place?”
Rabbi Avraham Yaakov replied, “Does the place one is in make a difference? The Almighty’s glory fills the earth. He is everywhere. Even here, in this awful place.”
Sources: “Men of Distinction,” vol.1, p.15; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.247
The pleasure we feel with what we have does not come only from the thing itself, but also from whom we received it. That is the lessons of the blessings we make. They help us appreciate that the Almighty is the One who has bestowed us with the pleasures of this world. This awareness greatly enhances the value of these pleasures.”
Sources: see Rabbi Noson Tzvi Finkel; Ohr Hatzafun, vol.3, p.86; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.45
It is easy for a person who feels less intelligent than others to have low self-esteem. This is unnecessary. While there are many advantages in having intelligence (for Torah study and other pragmatic reasons), when it comes to basic value of a person, intelligence is not a key factor. You can be righteous regardless of your intellectual ability. Similarly, intelligence is not a decisive factor in whether or not a person will be happy in life.
Since you can be both righteous and happy no matter what your level of intelligence, there is no necessity in feeling less of a person if others seem “smarter” than you.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book, “Gateway to Happiness,” p.123
Sound is energy. This is a highly significant statement that effects you every time you speak to someone. Your tone of voice creates a specific type of energy. A soft and smooth tone of voice creates peaceful energy. An upbeat or joyous tone of voice creates positive energy. Both of these are in stark contrast to an angry tone of voice that creates an angry loop.
When you speak, your tone of voice creates either positive or distressful feelings in the person on the receiving end of that energy. The other person is likely to speak back to you in a tone that is similar to your own. For this reason King Solomon (Proverbs 15:1) advises us: “A soft reply turns away anger.” A soft tone of voice has a calming effect both on you the speaker and on the listener.
Do you want others to speak to you in an upbeat tone of voice? Then speak to them that way. A word of caution: For some people an overly enthusiastic tone of voice is too intense. So observe the effects of how you speak and modify your intensity according to the reaction of the listener.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Happiness”,p.171
If we truly appreciate the gift of life that the Almighty gave us, we will constantly say, “No complaints, I’m alive.”
When you experience joy for being alive, these positive feelings create a context that free you from the thoughts and feelings that create complaints.
Sources: For a series of probing questions on this topic, see Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Self Knowledge,” pp.164-7
There is a strong tendency for an evil person to consider himself good, and for a truly good person to consider himself bad. The rationale behind this is simple: Their criteria of good and bad differ greatly.
A good person desires to help others, and when unable to do as much as he idealistically wishes, considers himself “bad.”
An evil person considers himself “good” if he refrains from beating someone up after taking their money.
The lesson: Be objective about your actions.
-Sources: Imrai Binah, p.45; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.132
Not sure I totally agree with this person. I think a person can consider themselves good if they use the group’s mindset of good without weighing the pros and cons within themselves. A lot of folks automatically label things “good” and “bad” and never give it another thought because some authority tells them that’s how things should be defined. The truly “good” person will struggle with the moral issues, even when it’s painful, because that’s when they actually take ownership and responsibility for their own attitudes, decisions, and actions.
Worry is when you choose from millions of possible thoughts, only the few which deal with a potential misfortune or problem.
Once you accept your worrying as the act of choosing specific thoughts, you can consciously make an effort to avoid those thoughts that cause you needless pain and choose more constructive, positive thoughts.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, pp.157-8
Rabbi Yitzchok Blauser’s daughter once went to the cupboard, and all the glasses, cups and dishes fell and broke. He did not get angry at her, and he did not even ask her why she wasn’t more careful.
Rather, his only concern was that she should not be upset or frightened. He said to her, “Don’t worry. There’s not need to get upset. It’s all right.”
Sources: Hosair Kaas Mailibecho, p.185; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness
Low self-image usually forms at an early age. A person might have had excessively critical parents or teachers, failed to get along well with other children, or received low marks in school.
Though this attitude was formed long ago, the only reason it lasts in the present is because a person now keeps repeating it to himself. Yet he has the ability to tell himself, “In the past I may have judged myself to be inferior, but I will now think for myself and appreciate my true value.”
Being aware of the source of poor self-image makes it easier to challenge the assumptions upon which it is based. It is possible that while you had certain faults in the past, you presently are learning to overcome them.
Or, perhaps the people who judge you unfavorably were using a yardstick that you do not presently accept. For example, in school a student is usually judged by the marks he receives on tests. Some students with low grades worked hard to understand, and more importantly may have internalized the concepts and practiced them to a greater degree than others who received higher grades. As a child, the diligent student with poor grades might have felt inferior, but as an adult he has the ability to appreciate how he may have really accomplished more.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s, “Gateway to Happiness,” p.129
When your property or possessions sustain some damage or loss, work on yourself to accept the Almighty’s judgment with love. Realize you were born without any belongings, and you will eventually leave the world without belongings. You need not identify with your possessions since they are not an integral part of you.
Sources: Raishis Chochmah – Sha’ar Ha’anava; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.252