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Look and Leap

Rabbi Raymond Beyda

Fear can work in positive ways. For example, it can prevent one from engaging in activities that can cause serious harm. On the other hand, fear can be unreasonable to the point of timid and prevent a person from fulfilling positive life goals and achieving success in the material and the spiritual realms.

Rambam explains that in order to change a trait one must go to the opposite extreme for a time and eventually the person will arrive at a healthy middle course. If one is extremely timid one must act in ways that are courageous for a time in order to achieve a balanced level of caution to bravery.

If you feel fearful at times and realize that is not the healthy kind of fear but instead the negative inhibiting version -- step forward in situations that can change you for the better. Greet people that you have never greeted before. If you are afraid to ask the teacher or a manger a question -- ask. If you are weak at fundraising keep asking people for donations until you get the hang of it. If you have trouble asking for directions -- do so even when you are not lost -- until you overcome the rapid heartbeat and the sweaty palms.

The more times you attempt something -- the easier it becomes. It no longer becomes an issue of fear of failure it becomes an anticipation of potential success. You might not change to the other extreme --but Rambam guarantees that you will settle at a comfortable median. Look and then leap!


When 3 men eat a meal with bread together they are required to recite "zeemoon" before bircat hamazon. The Sefardic custom is for each one to then recite the blessings of bircat hamazon for himself. Even if one hears one of the others complete one of the blessings he should not say Amen to the other's berakha.

Ashkenazic custom is that the one who says "zeemoon" recites the first blessing of bircat hamazon aloud and the others answer Amen at the end of the first blessing, but do not answer after the other 3 blessings.

[Source: Yalkut Yosef: volume 3, Siman 192:4]


When we were infants, we cried and fought over things we now recognize as trivia. As we mature and acquire more knowledge, we recognize that things we thought to be important even as s were also really trivia. We would be wise to recognize this in the present rather than to see it only in retrospect.

Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twersky

Text Copyright © 2003 Rabbi Raymond Beyda and



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