By Rabbi Raymond Beyda
A dear friend of mine a"h used to love riddles that teach a lesson.
Whenever I would see him he would stop me and say, "I have a question."
That was a signal that another lesson was in the offing and my ears
immediately perked up to catch the words of wisdom.
"It says: All change is bad -- therefore change! -- Can you explain that
one to me please?” he inquired with a knowing smile on his face.
"I don't know" -- I told him -- as I put a puzzled look on my face in
order to pay him with pleasure he got from my curiosity for the thought he
was about to share.
"If someone eats the same thing for breakfast every day", he began to
explain, "and then he switches to something else, his digestive system
will get upset by the trauma of change. Therefore", he grinned, "a person
should change his or her breakfast everyday. The variety will prevent an
I acknowledged the wisdom of his concept, said good day and began to
consider the merits of his idea.
This procedure might be beneficial to a person's physical well being but I
am not too sure that it is the correct approach for one who is concerned
with his or her spiritual and emotional health. In order to grow in
character and in knowledge one must stick to a disciplined routine. A
daily dose at specific times with a training program guided by one wiser
than oneself is essential to success. Change for the sake of change will
defeat the achievement of the ultimate goal.
Today, when you are planning your growth -- stop. It only takes a minute
to commit a plan that is consistent. To learn Torah one must go step-by-
step -- idea-by-idea -- forward to one's goal. One must progress from
level to level by mastering one level of knowledge and going up to the
next. Constant change yields confusion and failure. The same is true of
character development. A person grows like a tree. You can't see growth in
any one day but if you grow a little bit every day -- in time -- the
mature individual will be easy to contrast with the immature child one
DID YOU KNOW THAT
If a Sephardic man-- in the twelve months of mourning for his father or
mother -- is praying with a minyan that prays according to Ashkenazic
liturgy, he may act as the hazan [sheliah siboor] so long as the
congregation allows him to pray according to his Sephardic wording. Should
the congregation insist that he pray in the manner of Ashkenazim it is
better that he allow someone else to act as the hazan and lose the merit
for the elevation of his parent's soul. [Source: Yalkut Yosef, Volume 1, Hilkhot Tefillah, paragraph 43]
CONSIDER THIS FOR A MINUTE
The the laws of Tsara-at -- spiritual leprosy -- involve a spiritual
malady that is manifest by a discoloration of the skin. One of the causes
for this spiritual disease is speaking lashon ha-ra -- speaking negatively
about another. Miriam the prophetess -- sister of Moshe and Aharon --
spoke about her holy brother and was stricken with tsara-at. Consider,
points out the Rambam, that she was older than he, she was his sister, she
cared for him and saved him from death in Egypt, she did not speak
negatively about him -- rather she compared his prophecy to that of other
prophets, and he was not offended by the comparison. Even so, she was
punished with tsara-at. How careful one must be before one speaks in a way
that is truly negative about another who will be hurt. [Source:
Maimonides, Hilkhot Tum-at Tsara-at 16:10]
Raymond J Beyda
Text Copyright © 2004 Rabbi Raymond Beyda and Torah.org.