On Motza’ei Shabbos, September 17, Dr. David Lieberman, well-known author and speaker, and Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, well-known author and speaker, shared their wisdom. Dr. Lieberman spoke about transforming relationships, and Rabbi Goldwasser spoke about revealing secrets of life through Pirkei Avos. This wonderful program is hosted by Chazaq and takes place every Motza’ei Shabbos.
This week, Dr. Lieberman answered a question about adjusting to a new environment like starting high school or seminary. Dr. Lieberman taught that it’s important to acknowledge your feelings that this is a change. To change how you feel about a situation, you have to change the meaning you assign to your feelings. Don’t call it anxiety if it’s really excitement. Reframe it; focus on opportunities and what you are grateful for. Also, accept that change is difficult for everyone. He added that “the more comfortable you are being uncomfortable, the easier it is to adjust to things in life.”
He then spoke about how a person can work on the language he is using so it is more positive. Dr. Lieberman related that the language we use impacts us. It gives a message to our brain. If a person says he is overwhelmed, this means he can’t overcome it. He needs to reframe to: “I have a lot of opportunities.” It’s important to be aware of the language we say to ourselves. When you say it’s a lousy day, if for example its raining outside, then your brain hears that, and it impacts your subconscious.
We need words in order to think. We need language to organize our thoughts.
Next, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser spoke about the 14th mishnah of the first chapter of Pirkei Avos: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? “We have to realize that we have a responsibility to do what we have to do, he said. A person has to say I want to take responsibility. If I don’t worry about myself, who will worry about me? Who will do t’shuvah for me? I can’t ask someone else to do it for me. All through life, I need the merits and the mitzvos. I need to do it myself. Personal refinement comes through mitzvos.
The second part of the mishnah stated that “if I am only for myself, what am I?” We are here for klal Yisrael – for the entire worldwide community. We state the S’lichos in the plural. We have sinned. It’s communal t’shuvah. We have to have klal Yisrael in mind when we pray. If I just worried about myself, that is nothing. He shared the famous idea that if you daven for your friend first, for something that you need and he needs, then you will be answered first. I have to love my friend like myself. Do chesed for your friend and it’s a z’chus forever. Hashem wants us to take care of the poor – to take care of others.
He stated the end of the mishnah: “If not now, when?” During Elul, this is the month of t’shuvah. Elul is now. “A person can come into Elul and get complete t’shuvah.” We have to take it to heart and live in the moment and do t’shuvah. Rabbi Goldwasser concluded, “If I’m not going to take advantage of the golden opportunity to do t’shuvah myself, who will do t’shuvah for me?”
By Susie Garber