Education in Israel is characterized by following the traditions of previous generations. The educational system aims to prepare children for them to become responsible for a pluralistic democratic society in which there are people from different ethnic, religious, cultural and political backgrounds members. It is based on Jewish values, love to the country and the principles of freedom and tolerance. And in order to meet these principles, Jews study the great teachings of the sages of Israel and try to follow them in their daily lives. In this top 5 great teachings from Israel to have a gracious life, you will find some explanations by Rabbi Richard Kaufmann.
About happiness and sadness.
Rabbi Aharon of Karlin said that the leading cause of sadness is to have a passive attitude, expecting from others to act first. This will always generate frustration as others don’t do what we expect all the time. However, when you focus on yourself, you get free from emotional dependence on your peers and become responsible for your own actions. Also, Jozé de Lublin said that sadness seeks to prolong the damage caused by the feeling of having sinned, activating a projection of the damage making it more terrible and global. This situation will affect your perception of yourself regarding your peers, generating negative feelings such as anxiety, remorse and self-pity. And, while you must not neglect the fact that making a mistakes is not right, you should move on quickly, in order to continue building your life with faith, hope, love and joy. Actually, Rabbi Shmuel of Zojatchov said that when your heart is overflowing with joy, you leave apart the internal rigidity you have as a result of negative feelings or thoughts. This opens the door for you to live truly with inner joy; feeling happy for what you are and what the goodness of Hashem has given you; and having the ability to flow and expand your joy and love for all others without internal stress that generates discernment.
Rabbi Eliyahu of Viscot said that there are many people who review their actions when bad things happen. However, it is advisable that you also review your good actions when you get wealth and prosperity. First, because you should identify, with the help of Hashem, the source of that good so that you can care for it and enhance it. Second, because you need to analyze the purpose for which Hashem has given you such an abundance of wealth. Please bear in mind that if you properly manage it, Hashem will surely keep trusting you and providing you with an increasing quantity and quality of those goods. On the contrary, if you receive wealth and use it selfishly only for your own benefit, you may have that blessing taken away from you!
About kindness and compassion.
Rabbi Arie Leib of Gur said that you need to be careful with kindness not only because all excess is bad, but because goodness, by nature, wants to project and expand indefinitely without limitations. Healthy boundaries that surround the projection of such love and such kindness are necessary to strengthen and build long-term relationships. Your intentions when you project your love don’t matter as much as the effect they have on your fellow man. Moreover, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polnoe said that when Hashem wants to project his compassion on a person, he causes a situation in which that person can project his compassion on his fellow man, and once such compassion is “awakened”, it’s also projected on that person. If you have this mind, you will be happy to help others and to show your compassion on them, knowing that through them you are allowing Hashem’s compassion to be projected upon you.
Rabbi Shmuel of Zojatchov said that all desires are rooted in each person’s desire to feel connected to Hashem. The feeling of separation comes from the fact that your soul is a part of Hashem, desires are the expression of longing of your soul to regain the state of fullness which enjoyed before coming to this world. Physical desires are not of a limited nature; they are “signs” to remind you the true and superior source of your urge. Therefore, whenever you feel a desire, you have the opportunity to raise it through connecting it with your spiritual root instead of devoting yourself to satisfy it, forgetting the real reason why it’s being awaken in you.
The wise men said that there is no bigger strength than self-control because it is extremely difficult to keep yourself from satisfying a desire that you can “technically” fulfill. So, according to your effort, you will be rewarded as you will be fulfilling the will of Hashem if you fail to satisfy yourself. You won’t need to fight against a consumer society where you are constantly encouraged to consume beyond what you really need. You can simply learn to be happier with good and simple things that life offers you.