From the “Adventures of Superman” television show
“Truth, justice, and the American way.” The introduction (video) to the 1950s television show “The Adventures of Superman” starring the late George Reeves still sends chills up my spine. I first watched this series as a kid, and while it hasn’t always aged well, given its limited budget and it’s target of six-year-old boys, I still cherish some of its episodes.
But the whole “American way” thing seems to have fallen out of favor, at least in the entertainment industry.
Well, maybe not entirely. This scene (video) from the 2012 film “The Avengers” pretty much says the same thing. The clip is a little short, but the whole thing goes:
Approval-seekers feel a necessity to put themselves in a better light than they really are. Because they try to hide their faults, they are nervous about others finding out what they’re really like. Their situation is like that of a spy in enemy territory.
If, however, they are honest about their mistakes and faults, they will be much more relaxed. They will also find that others behave more positively toward them for their honesty.
While it is not worthwhile to go to the opposite extreme and tell everyone you meet about your faults, if you stop being defensive about your faults, you will live a more serene life.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.269
We can all benefit from the advice of wise and experienced people. Besides gaining from their knowledge, we can also gain from their objectivity.
Many students could gain a lot from asking advice on how to concentrate better, how to remember better, how to read faster and with greater comprehension. Many parents could gain a lot by asking for advice on how to create a peaceful, harmonious home where they bring out the best in their children.
Many teachers could gain from consulting master teachers with much experience. Many businesspeople and professionals could gain from consulting experts in their field.
Almost everyone could gain by consulting appropriate people about how to become a better person. Have the courage to ask for advice.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book, “Courage”
Be aware of the effects of your tone of voice. Find a range of tones that your friends and family find comfortable.
The listener is always more sensitive and aware of the tone of voice than the speaker is. The more aware you are of your own tone of voice and the effect it has on the listener, the easier it will be for you to recognize when there is a change in your tone.
One way to become more aware of your tone of voice is to ask your spouse for feedback, by saying, “If my tone of voice ever distresses you, please point it out to me. And when you especially like a certain tone of voice, please tell me.”
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book “Marriage” -p. 145
No situation is exactly like any other situation. Every situation is new. Therefore, even if you haven’t acted with courage in the past, you presently have the capacity to make new choices when new situations arise.
We each change all the time, either slightly or considerably. The new situations that arise are always more advanced than at any time in the past when you were faced with a similar situation. Let this thought strengthen you in your ability to have more courage than you ever did before.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book, “Courage”
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
What is “trust in G-d?” It is the realization that there are no accidents in the world, and that all aspects of a person’s life are guided by the Almighty. This includes life and death, food, clothing, children, job, house, and health. Trust in G-d requires that a person accept the will of G-d in all these areas since he knows that whatever the Almighty does is for his ultimate good. In this way, the person who trusts in G-d will constantly have peace of mind.
A person without trust in G-d, however, will tend to suffer even when things are going well – because of anxiety about the future. About such a person, King Solomon said in Proverbs: “All the days of those poor (in wisdom) are unhappy ones.”
Sources: see Chovos Halevovos 4:4,5; Chazon Ish – Emunah u’Bitochon 2:1; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.81-2
The Talmud (Airuvin 54b) relates that Rabbi Praida had to repeat each lesson to a certain student four hundred times until the student understood it. This is usually cited as an example of the patience needed to be a teacher. We can also see the courage and perseverance of the student. Most people would give up after twenty or thirty repetitions and say they lack the necessary intelligence to comprehend the subject. This student realized he would eventually understand if he just heard each point enough times. When you say you cannot understand something, how many times did you try before you reached your conclusion? We have tremendous ability to understand almost anything if we have the patience to hear the ideas enough times. Pride gets in the way, and so does frustration. But a truth seeker does not worry about what others might think and keeps his mind on the goal.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s, “Gateway to Happiness,” p.384
A speaker’s tone of voice is a key factor that will make a major difference whether he will have a positive effect or not. Matters pertaining to cold logic do not need a special tone of voice. However, when your goal is to arouse elevated spiritual feelings in someone, it is important to speak in a tone of voice that will inspire the appropriate elevated state.
Today, when speaking to someone about a personal matter, be conscious of how your tone of voice can enhance your message.
Sources: see Rabbi Yitzchok Blauser; Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian – Lev Eliyahu, vol.1, p.12; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Consulting the Wise”