4 Life Lessons Learned from Rocky Balboa

Creed (#Creed), the seventh entry in the Rocky movie franchise, set an industry record for previews yesterday and is getting rave reviews. As a long time lover of Sylvester Stallone movies, especially the Rocky series,  I am bummed that the movie isn’t being shown in Israel until January 28!

In order to feel like I am joining in the Rocky celebration kicking off for Creed’s official U.S. release tonight, I have decided to share life/spiritual lessons from the Rocky series.

Let’s get ready to rumble!!!

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Jonathan Pollard and the Happiness of Freedom

Imagine how Jonathan Pollard felt this Shabbat, leaving jail after a 30-year prison term! How many times during those three long decades did he dream about being a free man: taking a long walk on a beach, meeting a friend in a coffee shop, embarking on a trip with his wife, taking a luxurious bath, praying in a beit knesset?

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#MeditationMonday – Hebrew Meditation for Patience

One of my big challenges for this year is to be more patient with my children.

One of my kids is a wonderful boy with a sweet streak, but he is also extremely energetic and impulsive. I start every day striving to be patient, but too often I get frustrated with his behavior and start nagging/punishing.

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The Secret to Aliyah and Sukkot

I have an American friend who keeps schlepping his family back and forth between Israel and America (specifically, California). When he’s living in California (as he is now), he’s dreaming about Israel: “I miss living in the Jewish state, where Jewish education is free and you get the holidays off from work. We’re coming back to Israel soon!”

And yet he has already left Israel twice to go live in America for long stints, in large part because he loves his higher earning potential in the motherland.

I’m trying hard to be less judgmental and argumentative, but because he keeps claiming he wants to settle down in Israel and remain here, I am dying to tell him the secret to successful Aliyah…

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Sukkot and the Fight Club

Don’t worry, I’m not recommending fist fights in your Sukkah (the temporary hut Jews inhabit during the festival of Sukkot). That would likely wreck the walls of your Kosher Sukkah!

I’m simply noting that one of the main themes of the Fight Club, a thought-provoking movie starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, is also a dominant theme of Sukkot. This theme has much to teach us about simcha (Jewish joy).

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Yom Kippur – You’re Doing it Wrong

No days were as festive for Israel as Tu B’Av and Yom Kippur –Tractate Ta’anit.

What is the Mishna trying to tell us? We understand why Tu B’Av, a magical day of love, was considered a happy day. But Yom Kippur? Isn’t that supposed to be the day that we punish our bodies by fasting and reflect on the many awful things we did in the previous year? How does that promote simcha (Jewish joy)?

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The “Playful Child” on Rosh HaShana

Rabbi Gideon Weitzman, the rabbi of my shul/beit knesset in Modi’in, recently published an excellent book entitled, His Words, Their Voices: Essays on the Haftarot.

In his essay on the specific Haftarah (a section of the book of Prophets) that is read communally on the second day of Rosh HaShana, Rabbi Weitzman struck a chord with me by writing about the “playful child.”

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Mikveh Before Rosh HaShana

Because many Jews immerse in a mikveh (ritual bath) before Rosh HaShana, I am re-posting a previous blog post about a happiness visualization for the mikveh. Have a sweet and HAPPY New Year! 

— Simcha 

After deciding to start my current search for simcha (Jewish joy) on Hoshana Rabbah, one of the first things I did that morning was immerse myself in one of the local mikvehs. Hoshana Rabbah is the day when the judgment process that has started on Rosh HaShana is sealed, and I wanted to feel spiritually pure.

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Crucial Practice for Post-Rosh HaShana Happiness

One of the number one things most of us will be praying for on Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year, is happiness. Jewish joy (simcha) is the nectar that will enable us to have a sweet New Year.

But it’s not as easy as merely requesting happiness from G-d. We have to work hard and partner with G-d to advance spiritually. And the first step is a technique called “cheshbon hanefesh,” or “an accounting of the soul.”

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One simple Jew's journey to Jewish joy (simcha) via ancient and modern techniques.