Duality of the Purim Mask

We all figuratively wear masks, at least occasionally, to hide our true identities. Some of us put on a mask at work. Others wear a mask in their communities, or even with their families. We are so scared that people will catch a glimpse of our authentic, vulnerable selves, and then reject us. It seems easier to wear a fake exterior, like armor.

It is a custom to dress up and wear masks during the upcoming holiday, Purim. When you think about it, in our everyday lives wearing a mask and hiding our authentic selves can be harmful. But in some instances, especially concerning happiness, putting on a mask can be helpful. We can call this “the duality of the Purim mask”…

Continue reading Duality of the Purim Mask

G-d Bless the Comedians

The Talmud contains a fascinating story about an act that is apparently so important and noble that it GUARANTEES the one who performs it a spot in the World to Come (Heaven).

Which singular action could be so powerful and meaningful? Does a Jew have to donate major sums of his money to earn his place in the Next World? Does he have to learn Torah 18 hours a day?

Continue reading G-d Bless the Comedians

The Happiness of Rosh Chodesh

Maybe something in your life isn’t going well. You’re struggling with a relationship; you’re unemployed or you hate your job; you can’t seem to lose weight and get in shape. Whatever the issue is, Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of a new month in the Jewish calendar) reminds us to NEVER give up, because things can get better. Perseverance and optimism are keys to simcha (Jewish joy), which we can learn by thinking about Rosh Chodesh and the cycles of the moon.

Continue reading The Happiness of Rosh Chodesh

Learning How to Fail in the Israeli Army

I’m temporarily leaving my job on Tuesday to serve reserve duty (“miluim” in Hebrew) in the Israeli army for a few days. It’s always an honor to serve in the Israeli army, even in my limited role, and doing so usually reminds me of an important happiness lesson…

I made Aliyah at the age of 24, so I went through abbreviated basic training with older immigrants. A small group of us were tasked with learning how to drive tractors and bulldozers for rescue purposes (lifting up big pieces of a collapsed building to free civilians trapped underneath, etc.).

As part of this training under the auspices of The Home Front Command, we were required to get a special driver’s license to operate the heavy machinery. This meant passing a driving test and then a written theory test. Because I suffer from low self-esteem, I immediately started to panic.

Continue reading Learning How to Fail in the Israeli Army