"The main problem is that you ask yourself 'how much have I accomplished thus far,' instead of asking yourself, 'how much more can I accomplish.' You see, it's not that 'the sky is not the limit.' Rather, the sky is the launchpad of your lives.

Rabbi Allouche

At the ripe age of 80, Moses went on a hike. 

In this week’s portion, we read how G-d commands Moses to embark on a physically challenging expedition and hike to the peak of Mount Sinai, to receive the Torah on behalf of our nation. 

The physical effort must have been enormous for his elderly body. So why couldn’t our all-powerful G-d descend a few more feet, instead of making one of our history’s foremost leaders climb up?

The answer is compelling. Yes, G-d could have easily come down all the way to the valleys of the Sinai desert to greet Moses and give him the Torah. But that would have defeated the very purpose of the Torah itself. For the Torah was given to us to make us climb, and grow. 

This is why G-d asked Moses to meet Him at the peak of the mountain. This was His Divine way of saying to Moses, and to all of humanity, that, in order to connect to G-d we too must actively ascend toward Him. And so long as we can – and in spite of the fears, the doubts, and the naysayers – we ought to muster the courage to ascend, to break through our psychological and spiritual barriers, to exercise self-control, to change a terrible habit, and to do a Mitzvah.

I recall the day as if it was yesterday. My beloved mentor, Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz of blessed memory, walked into our classroom at his Makor Chaim High-School in Jerusalem, and, with passion and love, he spoke to us these fiery words, that are left ringing in my ears: 

“The main problem is that you ask yourself ‘how much have I accomplished thus far,’ instead of asking yourself, ‘how much more can I accomplish.’ 

You see, it’s not that ‘the sky is not the limit.’ Rather, the sky is the launchpad of your lives. Doing your best is not good enough. I know this may not sound like a recipe for an easy and comfortable life, but it is my expression of great hope. And it comes from my belief that people do not just have stomachs, but they also have wings with which to fly. 

I would want for my students to take upon themselves what may seem as an undefined resolution, yet it is, nonetheless, very concrete. I would call this resolution: “one step forward.” Wherever you are in your life journeys, please, I ask you, take one step forward.”

Indeed, let us ascend our mountains of life, by taking one step forward each and every day. G-d and His abundant blessings, will then undoubtedly await us, at the summit of our every climb. Amen. 

Article

People who gossip do so because they do not feel good about themselves. People who attempt to isolate others do so because they themselves are isolated and lonely. Those who try to destroy other people's happiness are themselves unhappy. But they are too weak, or too cowardly, to deal with their personal issues. So they put down and disparage others, in hopes that it will make them feel better than others.

Rabbi Allouche

Some governments are famous for their absurd laws.

In Singapore, chewing gum carries a fine of $1000. Failure to flush a public toilet after use, and spitting in the street, will also result in hefty fines.

In the Philippines, you can be charged with the crime of “unjust vexation” for doing just that: vexing someone.

In Thailand, it is illegal to step on money.

In China, the law states it is illegal for adult children to not visit their parents “often” in China. They are also required to attend to their parent’s spiritual needs.

And in this very country, in Arkansas, USA, there still exists a law that was drafted in the 1800s that states a husband is allowed to beat his wife, but only once a month!

Some three thousand years ago, our nation also faced a bizarre law. If a person gossiped, his skin, and the walls of his house were inflicted with Tzara’at, a form of leprosy. This person was also quarantined, and banned from interacting with people for at least seven days!

But why quarantine this person and isolate him far from people? Wasn’t the debilitating Tzara’at disease enough to punish the gossiper?

The answer is powerful and it relates to the root of why people gossip:
For why do people gossip? Where does this urge come from? Why degrade and hurt someone else? Don’t we have anything better to say or do?

People who gossip do so because they do not feel good about themselves. People who attempt to isolate others do so because they themselves are isolated and lonely. Those who try to destroy other people’s happiness are themselves unhappy. But they are too weak, or too cowardly, to deal with their personal issues. So they put down and disparage others, in hopes that it will make them feel better than others.

This is why the gossiper had to isolate himself. G-d wanted to provide the gossiper with an opportunity to take some time off for self-reflection and introspection. This would encourage the gossiper to face, and tackle, his inner demons. In the presence of others, he could only see the richness that others had and he lacked. Alone with himself, he would be able to see the richness within, that he never knew he had. This was therapy par excellence.

Margaret Thatcher, the famed British icon, once wrote: “Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.”

May we all be blessed with the wisdom to know when to use them, and to know when to remain silent. Amen.

Article

Sometimes, the best way to deal with negative feelings, is not to deal with them at all. The best way to fight emotions that bolster despair is to engage in actions that bolster hope. The best remedy for a heart that feels threatened by darkness, is a Mitzvah, a positive deed, that reassures it with a Divine light.

Rabbi Allouche

One man stood aside. 

Aharon, the brother of Moses, was reluctant to participate in the inauguration of the Tabernacle in the desert. The Midrash reveals that he felt guilty for his role in the sin of the Golden Calf a year or so earlier, and thus unworthy to take part in the festivities.

Upon witnessing Aharon’s silence, Moses summons Aharon and commanded him to just “come near the altar and bring the offerings.” Not a word of comfort is said to soothe his brother’s feelings and assuage his fears. Rather than focus on emotions, Moses focuses on action. “Bring the offerings,” he tells Aharon. That’s it.

But how could Moses react so coldly to his own brother? Why this apparent insensitivity to his own flesh and blood?

The answer shares a powerful idea: Moses told his brother to “bring the offerings,” because, sometimes, the best way to deal with negative feelings, is not to deal with them at all. The best way to fight emotions that bolster despair is to engage in actions that bolster hope. The best remedy for a heart that feels threatened by darkness, is a Mitzvah, a positive deed, that reassures it with a Divine light.

So Moses tells Aharon to just act and “bring the offerings,” and put his feelings aside. Sure enough, Aharon’s anxiety vanishes and his confidence is regained. And from that point on, Aharon never looks back. Throughout the many years that followed, Aharon conducted his many duties as the High Priest of his nation, with unwavering resolve, and lasting success.

The lesson is poignantly clear: at the end of the day, our actions, not our feelings, define who we are. We may experience all sorts of moods, but at the end of the day, it is a person’s deeds that mold his life. A smile, a helping hand, a generous act can mold us and our lives infinitely more than the emotions of our hearts. In the words of Victor Hugo, the 19th Century French poet: “Our acts make or mar us – we are the children of our own deeds.”

This applies to our Jewish lives too. For how many of us deprive ourselves of the gift of a mitzvah, just because we are scared? How many of us are reluctant to get involved, just because we are intimidated? How many of us are hesitant to move forward in our spiritual journey, with study, prayer, or a good deed, just because we are not “feeling it”?

But whatever our mood is – let us just “bring an offering to G-d” and do good. Fulfill a Mitzvah. Reach out to a friend. Light Shabbat candles today and every Friday before Shabbat. Put on Tefilin. Affix a Mezuzah. Visit the sick. Come to CBT for a prayer service, a class, or any of our programs. Make that call to an estranged family member. Give your child the gift of undivided time and attention. Buy your spouse a gift. And make those actions an inseparable part of your daily or weekly life. 

In the words of Nike, “just do it.” I promise, you won’t regret it. 

Article

Every living being has two faces; an external face and an internal one. The external face shows our faces and their wrinkles, our hair, or our baldness. But there's another type of face that we simply can't escape. This internal face is impossible to trick. It is the face that reveals our Divine soul with all of its vulnerabilities and strengths.

Rabbi Allouche

Panim” is the Hebrew word for “face” in Hebrew.

But Hebrew-language experts will be quick to point out that “panim” is really the Hebrew word for “faces,” in the plural tense. Astonishingly, the Hebrew language does not have a word for one, singular face!

The reason is telling: There is no word for just one face in Hebrew, because the idea that people have just one face, is simply false.

Every living being has two faces; an external face and an internal one. The external face shows our faces and their wrinkles, our hair, or our baldness. But this face can easily be tricked. Some band-aids, a little make-up, a smile, and, abracadabra!, all looks perfect and shining.

Most of us wish this external face were the only one. But there’s another type of face that we simply can’t escape. This internal face is impossible to trick. It is the face that reveals our Divine soul with all of its vulnerabilities and strengths. 

I’m sure you’ve encountered this internal face before. It communicates the language of our Divine soul and it begs to be treated – and nurtured – at least as much as our external face is treated. (This is why, when our soul feels abandoned, it sends signals and launches moods of depression, sadness, etc.) So why not give it the love it deserves?

Our Sages teach us that when the Red Sea split for the People of Israel upon their exodus from Egypt – as we read about in this week’s portion – all the waters of the world also split. This includes the waters of the Mississippi River, the waters of the waterfalls in Sedona here in Arizona, the waters of our baths, Jacuzzis and hot-tubs, and the waters in our coffee and tea cups. The deep, deep sea of our beings also split in two, and for a brief moment, its internal face, the face of our burning soul, and all of its content was exposed to the light of day.

During these last days of Passover (which begin tonight, until Sunday evening [Yizkor will also take place on Sunday morning}), in which we celebrate the “splitting of the sea”, it is time we split our own sea too, and unleash our deepest face, our Divine soul, by dedicating ourselves to that which it desires most: G-d, His Torah, and His Mitzvot. 

Our two faces will then synchronize in perfect harmony, and brighten our lives, and our world. 

We may suffer from a physical or mental disease, but we cannot allow it to define us. We can find ourselves in all sorts of limiting circumstances, but those circumstances cannot control us.

Rabbi Allouche

I’ll never forget that moment.

It was a late afternoon in 2001. I was visiting a Jerusalem hospital, when I suddenly bumped into my beloved mentor, world-scholar, Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz of blessed memory, in the hospital’s elevator.

“Good afternoon, HaRav Adin!” I greeted him. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m going to study the Talmud,” he replied with his playful smile.

“To study the Talmud? In this hospital? Are there no better places to study?” I retorted.

His wise response still reverberates in my mind: “Well, the doctors here have to connect me to a dialysis machine for a few hours, and in the meantime, I’ll study the Talmud.”

At that moment I had learned that my beloved mentor suffered from a genetic condition named “Gaucher” from a very young age, which required him to be connected to a “dialysis machine” each and every month, for approximately three hours. But what stunned me most is not the fact that he never shared this with me and his close students. Rather, it was the idea that Rabbi Steinsaltz never saw this monthly medical treatment as a challenge. For this giant of man, it was an opportunity to study the Talmud for three hours, without interruption. And even as his disease threatened to limit him, he felt free and limitless.

His approach taught me an invaluable lesson for life: We all face challenges, big or small. We all suffer from diseases, physical or mental. We all endure pain, temporary or permanent. But it is the way we choose to address them that makes all the difference.

This is the message of Passover, our festival of freedom. Many of us may be shackled by all sorts of “Egypts.” Some suffer from physical, mental, psychological, or spiritual disabilities, that prevent them from maximizing their infinite potential. Others are entrenched in behaviors and habits that cripple their development.

But once a year, G-d calls upon us to come out of our own Egypts. We may suffer from a physical or mental disease, but we cannot allow it to define us. We can find ourselves in all sorts of limiting circumstances, but those circumstances cannot control us.

So here is a suggestion for this Passover:

Think of two or three particular limitations in your life that are holding you back. Then, make a resolution to overcome them and the negative thoughts that they may be feeding you.

It may be as simple as making that telephone call that frightens us, changing that terrible habit, finding time to connect to G-d even when the physical or emotional place we are in is rough, and taking upon ourselves a new Mitzvah and add deeds of goodness and kindness to our daily schedules.

Without a doubt, we will then experience true joy and freedom, not just on Passover, but also, each and every day. Amen.

Article

There are times in which we need to be 'big Alephs' and recognize that there are ideals worth standing up for; truths worth fighting for; values worth devoting ourselves to.

Rabbi Allouche

In an age plagued by narcissism, it is no wonder that “selfishness” has become a derogatory word. But is selfishness an entirely negative trait? Can selfishness ever be good and constructive?

“As a general rule, there are no attributes of the soul that are good or bad,” my dear mentor, world-scholar, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, once wrote. “There is no attribute that lacks its injurious aspect, its negation, and failure, just as there is no attribute – even if connected with doubt and heresy – that has not, under some circumstances, its holy aspect.”

One of the leading rabbis of the nineteenth century, Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Pshischa, once addressed his disciples with a surprising yet important request: “Write two truths on two separate notes,” he told them. “Let one state the teaching of our Sages ‘For my sake the world was created (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 37b).’ The other should state the verse uttered by our forefather Abraham ‘I am dust and ashes,” (Genesis 13:27).’

“Now place these two notes in your pockets. When you are feeling useless, take out the note that states ‘the world was created for you.’ But if your achievements engender arrogance, take out the second note and remember that you are but ‘dust and ashes.’ ”

A similar lesson is learned from the opening word of this week’s portion, “Vayikra,” which means “And G-d called Moses.” If you take a close look at it, in any Torah scroll worldwide, you’ll notice that this first word is spelled with a miniature Aleph. The commentaries point out that this letter comes to symbolize Moses’ exceptional humility.

Conversely, the first word of the book of Chronicles includes the word Adam, spelled with a disproportionately large Aleph. This alludes to the greatness of spirit, and the infinite potential which resides deep within each and every human being.

The reason for this contrast is poignant: There are times in which we ought to be ‘small Alephs’ and remain humble in the face of all that which we still need to learn and achieve.

Yet, there are times in which we need to be ‘big Alephs’ and recognize that there are ideals worth standing up for; truths worth fighting for; values worth devoting ourselves to. Some examples include the objective to create peace and harmony in our marriages, the pure and unadulterated education we owe our children, and the continued growth and cultivation of ourselves, and our Jewish identity.

And above all, we ought to be ‘big Alephs’ when we awake every morning, look at the reflection of our deepest self – with all of our G-d given talents and skills – in the mirror, and ask ourselves:

“How can we make a positive difference today? And how will we actualize our unique purpose today to better our world, and to elevate every place we will visit, and every person we will encounter?”

Small details such as daily acts of kindness, and greeting everyone with a cheerful face, may not make us feel like Hollywood stars or powerful supermen and women, but, as Nathan demonstrated to us, they are the ones that make us, and the world around us better and brighter.

Rabbi Allouche

We love “big” news, don’t we?

This week alone, media outlets were mesmerized by Oprah’s interview of British Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan. The third COVID-19 stimulus bill also made headlines, and the list goes on.

We also seem to find great delight in the milestones of our lives. Marriage, bringing children into the world and volunteering at our local community centers, almost always cause great joy and satisfaction. But when it comes to the small acts of goodness and kindness that present themselves every day, our enthusiasm is often lessened, and our commitment is sometimes decreased.

The same phenomenon can be found in our relationship with G-d. Many of us readily commit to keeping Kosher, praying every day, and even observing the Sabbath. But fighting the small battles – such as praying with a bit more concentration, studying a little more Torah, being extra sensitive to the feelings of our fellows, being careful about the words that come out of our mouths – seem as insurmountable as climbing Mount Everest!

Why? Why are the big battles so easy to fight, while the tiny ones are so difficult to overcome?

The answer lies in the detailed recounting of the construction of the Tabernacle and its many vessels in the wilderness. With great details, and over four portions (!), the Torah recounts the different building methods used, and it even reveals the exact measurements of each and every beam and vessel. But why dedicate so many verses to such redundant details? Why take the risk of boring its readers?

Perhaps, it is because Judaism believes that G-d is found mostly in the details of life. Big splashes are easy to create, but they don’t last. It is specifically the small sacrifices that ultimately refine and define us. Like the time we exercise self-control and withstand a luring temptation. Or like the time we give our spouse and children the undivided attention they so desire. Or like the time we smile, share an encouraging word, and lift a broken spirit.

This thought struck me this week, as our community mourns the passing of a beloved member of the greater Phoenix Jewish community, Nathan Efune, of blessed memory.  Nathan, who was lovingly known by so many as “Zaidy”, was a giant of a man, with an exemplary strength of spirit, character, and conviction. But above all, he was a man who never missed an opportunity to bring joy to every person he encountered – Jews and non-Jews, friends and strangers, young and old. He greeted everyone with an open heart, a sincere smile, an encouraging word, and a lending hand, and with an obsession for helping and giving his all, to all. We will miss Nathan and his physical and shining presence. But in his life, and even in his passing, he has taught us how to live. 

Small details such as daily acts of kindness, and greeting everyone with a cheerful face, may not make us feel like Hollywood stars or powerful supermen and women, but as Nathan demonstrated to us all, they are the ones that make us, and the world around us better and brighter. Indeed, they may not make headlines on the world’s stage. But they will make headlines on the stage of the One Above.

And ultimately, that is the only stage that truly matters.

Welcome

Ultimately, the way we view and treat others, will craft the way they will view and treat us too.

Rabbi Allouche

Some things are lost in translation.

In the opening verse of this week’s portion, G-d commands Moses to count the Jewish people: “When you take a census of the Israelites to count them…”

Yet, at a deeper glance, G-d does not command Moses to “take a census” of His people. Rather, he commands him to “elevate” (in Hebrew, “Tisa”) His people. The difference between “taking a census” and “elevating” is enormous.

When we count people, all we see is their bodies. When we “elevate” people, we also see their souls.

When we count people, we value them for who they seem to be. When we “elevate” people we value them for who they can, and will, be.

When we count people, we place our faith in finite numbers. When we elevate people we place our faith in infinite potentials.

And most importantly, when we count people, we evoke in them a response of “here I am.” When we “elevate” people, we evoke in them a response of “there – so, so high – there, I will be!”

It is, thus. no wonder that when Moses “elevates” the Jewish people, they respond accordingly, as they unlock their hearts and give generously to the construction of a tabernacle for G-d in the desert. In fact, they gave so abundantly, that, at one point, Moses had to ask them to stop giving. Because, ultimately, the way we view and treat others, will craft the way they will view and treat us too. 

After we launched our Mitzvah Campaign a few months ago (which aims to gather 2000 Mitzvahs in loving memory of my beloved mentor, Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz until his first Yahrzeit coming up in July – please keep sending your Mitzvahs to MitzvahForRavAdin@bethtefillahaz.org), I received an email from a man, with the question:  “Do you really believe that one Mitzvah can change a person? What do you really think you can accomplish, especially with Mitzvahs that don’t last longer than 2 minutes?”

I responded: “I try not to see people as ‘physical beings’; instead I see them as ‘souls’. And when a soul is ignited with a mitzvah, its potential is unleashed, and its light then shines further and wider than the eye can see. 

So how will we treat, and count, our spouses, children, friends, and even strangers? Will we see them as bodies or as souls? Will we count them or elevate them? Will we address their limits, or spark their fire within? 

Welcome

This also explains why Purim is one of the most joyous festivals of the year. Because when we realize that nothing is as it seems, that there is so much more to life than what our naked eyes may see, that G-d is always in charge, even when reality may not show it - then we can begin to appreciate life and relish its hidden blessings.

Rabbi Allouche

People say that “seeing is believing.” Judaism, however, begs to differ.

Our eyes cannot always see – and grasp – the full scope of that which they are focused on. We may be blessed with a 20/20 eyesight, but our vision will, almost always, remain limited. 

This is why we dress up on Purim, which falls in one week (on the eve of Thursday, February 25 and on the day of Friday, February 26). Because on Purim, nothing is as it seems:

Achashverosh, the all-powerful king ruling over 127 countries, turned out to be a paranoid man suffering from deep insecurities (-isn’t that so often the case of dictators and their peers?)

Haman the king adviser’s who issued the first Final solution in Jewish history, vanished as quickly as he appeared.

Queen Esther, the timid queen, who concealed her Jewish identity, emerges as a witty politician, who orchestrates redemption for her people.

And how about G-d, who so masterfully, brings about such an impressive miracle? He is not even mentioned in the story of Purim, and the miracle of Purim is shrouded in the garments of “coincidence” and “good fortune.”

This also explains why Purim is one of the most joyous festivals of the year. Because when we realize that nothing is as it seems, that there is so much more to life than what our naked eyes may see, that G-d is always in charge, even when reality may not show it – then we can begin to appreciate life and relish its hidden blessings.

It’s hard to believe that almost a year has elapsed ever since we were exposed to the novel “coronavirus” that erupted in China in November of 2019, and disrupted the lives of 7.7 billion people.

The negative effects are evident. Many have lost their jobs. Others have fallen into the abyss of despair and depression. Some have suffered the worst of all — the passing of their loved ones.

Nonetheless, and in spite of the pain and suffering, we must also acknowledge that this pandemic has produced many positive results. Families, who were now forced to spend more time with each other, solidified and strengthened their inherent bond, like never before. Relationships were repaired. Acts of kindness, particularly toward so many individuals who are quarantined alone, are increased multifold.

But above all, this pandemic has shifted our perspective on life itself. Suddenly, we have come to the realization that our physical senses are deceptive. What we had perceived as certain — the comfort of our homes, the security of our jobs, the health of our physical body — has become so uncertain. What our physical senses thought was true, has been revealed as so untrue.

We now understand, perhaps more than ever before, the ever-relevant message of Purim: That there is so much that exists beyond all that we see, smell, hear, taste, and touch. And the only senses that are truly reliable and trustworthy are our spiritual and intangible senses.

In some magical way, these spiritual senses have now taught us to recognize that even as we found ourselves “alone” at home, God, and the love and affection of our loved ones, are still with us. Even when people die “alone”, their good deeds and many merits are with them, and scores of angels accompany them from this world to the next.

A few years ago, a riveting inscription was found on the walls of a cellar in Cologne, Germany, where Jews were hiding from the Nazis. It read: “I believe in the sun, even when it isn’t shining. I believe in love, even when I am alone. I believe in G-d, even when He is silent.”

So friends, on this festival of Purim, let us throw away our misconceptions and restricting beliefs, and celebrate G-d’s revealed – and hidden – blessings in every moment, in every person, in every place, and in every situation.

Article

The opposite of love is not hatred; it is indifference. The opposite of happiness is not sadness; it is self-preoccupation.

Rabbi Allouche

Here’s a fun exercise: Next time you see a friend, ask him the following two simple questions. Question one: What is the opposite of love? Question two: What is the opposite of happiness?

Many people will tell you that the opposite of love is hatred, and the opposite of happiness is sadness. But I beg to disagree. Love is a strong emotion of attachment, but so is hatred. When a person hates, his feelings of hatred attach him to the person he hates. This is why Elie Wiesel once wrote that “the opposite of love is not hatred; it’s indifference.” When I stop caring, when my heart ceases to seek any connection, good or bad, love then ceases to exist too.

The same is true with happiness. The opposite of happiness is not sadness; it is “self-preoccupation.” Because the more self-proccupied we are, the less happy we’ll be. How so?

Just take a look at a young child running around and enjoying life (-I am blessed to have a few of those at home :)). Now try this: sit that child on your lap and ask him or her: “So tell me, dear child, do you feel good about your identity? Do you feel valued? Are you happy?” The child will most likely gaze at you strangely, and think to himself, “What do you want from me? Stop bothering me. Who’s thinking about me? I’m busy living!”

Sadly, as we grow, things change. Life’s challenges and disappointments crush our joie-de-vivre, and our childish contentment gradually disappears. Before we know it, we find ourselves reading books about happiness and going to seminars to learn about “positive thinking” and “joyful living.”

So why do adults have such a hard time finding happiness while children find it so easily and so naturally? No, it’s not just because adults also have bills to pay and mouths to feed. The principal reason is that children are not self-absorbed. They are not yet aware of themselves, and the way others may (or may not) look at them, so they are free to enjoy life, and just be happy.

Sadly, as we grow, we become more and more self-preoccupied. It’s not our fault; after all, we must take good care of ourselves, of our education, of our profession, and of our lives. But some of us get stuck with the “I.” All some people think of, is me, me and me — my problems, my wishes, my dreams. But this self-focus quickly turns into self-preoccupation which turns into self-absorbedness, which turns into moans and cries on how miserable life is.

Self-proccupation is therefore the opposite of happiness. For the more we forget about what we need, and instead focus on what we are needed for; the more we step outside of our me-zone, and instead reach out to the you-zone of our surroundings; the more we become purpose-oriented instead of me-oriented — the more happy our lives will be.

“When Adar comes in, happiness is increased,” the Talmud famously states. Interestingly, this month is also a month in which we focus on giving. This Shabbat, for example, is coined “Shabbat Shekalim,” in which we remind each and all of the duty to give charity. In two weeks, we will celebrate the festival of Purim that focuses on acts of giving, such as giving food baskets to friends, donating tzedakah to the poor, and sharing a meal with family and guests. For Judaism has forever understood, that in order to be happy, we must come out of our shells, and do good for the other, and give, give and give!