As part of the ongoing program called “Turn Saturday Night into Motza’ei Shabbos,” Chazaq, TorahAnytime, Chickens for Shabbos, the Queens Jewish Link, Just A Moment, Naftali Status, and Kol HaTorah Kulah are hosting an inspiring, informative virtual program with Dr. David Lieberman (internationally renowned, award-winning, and pioneering leader in the fields of human behavior and interpersonal relationships, and author of 11 books) and Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser (rav of Khal Bnei Yitzchok of Brooklyn, columnist, daily radio commentator, and acclaimed speaker and author).
Below are excerpts from two recent Motza’ei Shabbos programs: on July 11 and July 18.
The programs each began with Dr. David Lieberman fielding questions that were sent in by the audience.
Dealing with name-calling and hurtful insults was the first question. Dr. Lieberman explained that he teaches his young children that “you are responsible for your own emotions.” The person hurt by words needs to know that what the person said doesn’t change his identity. If we can teach children this idea when they are young, then they won’t be as hurt when they grow older. What another person says speaks volumes about them and tells us nothing about us. If we assign meaning that his words are hurting me, then we need to stop and recognize that the other person, the one hurling the mean name or comments, is the one in pain.
The next question was about compliments. Dr. Lieberman taught that the Torah forbids insincere flattery. A sincere compliment is different. “If you take time to compliment someone’s efforts, it will build that person’s self-esteem and it will also help build your relationship with them. “Personal relationships are based on mutual respect and trust. If someone doesn’t appreciate our efforts, it erodes our relationship. Dr. Lieberman recommends giving compliments at least three times a day to those who are close to us. He noted that it is also important how we speak to ourselves. It is important to be loving with yourself. “We can be our own worst enemy.”
Our ego can distort our perspective in the moment. “So, I encourage people to take it off the table and don’t say it.” The gift of perspective or time is that it helps us see if we should have said something. “When you speak poorly about others, it hurts your self-esteem.” This is why it is so crucial to have a rabbi or friend who can help you see a situation objectively. You can’t do this yourself because your ego is involved. He added that the happiest people have an appreciation of the other people in their lives. “Just looking for the good will change your life.” He added the powerful idea that even in darkness there is light. “Life comes from our focus. Change your focus, change your life!”
Dr. Lieberman then answered how to deal with a situation where someone does or says something hurtful. He taught that “it’s not the situation, it’s the interpretation, meaning based on how we feel about ourselves that will determine how we feel. If someone says something hurtful and you focus on your own pain, then you will be upset. However, if you focus on their pain, you will remain pain-free.”
He emphasized, “It always comes down to: Am I focusing on their pain or my pain.” When anyone treats you disrespectfully, it reflects on his or her own self-esteem. It speaks volumes about their emotional health. He noted, “You treat others according to how you feel about yourself.” It is important not to let what others say change your view of your own self-worth. This doesn’t mean we can’t care about what they say and investigate to see if we did something hurtful. He pointed out that if you are in an amazing mood, then you will think everyone is great. However, if you are in a bad mood, you may not have anything to give to others. “A person’s capacity to treat us a certain way has nothing to do with us.” Again, he stated, “We can’t let how they think impact how we view ourselves.”
The next question dealt with the t’shuvah process. Dr. Lieberman taught that growth begins with the acknowledgement that we have sinned. Covering up engages the ego and the yeitzer ha’ra. Self-esteem grows from self-acceptance. The process of t’shuvah frees us from the past and we are able to move forward. Hashem created t’shuvah before Creation because we needed it in order to exist.
The next question involved dealing with someone who tries to put you down in the work environment. Dr. Lieberman shared that this usually stems from jealousy or if you did something inadvertently to upset that person. The best thing in this case is to try to humanize yourself. Talk in an honest way about your own failures but don’t give them any ammunition they could use maliciously against you. Treat them with respect. Give them genuine praise and you can ask this person for advice. Once his ego is assuaged, things will turn around.
Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser shared stories and insights about Pirkei Avos. He shared the mishnah that teaches that if you learn one perek, one pasuk, one word, even one letter from someone, you should honor that person. Even one letter in Torah teaches us so much. He gave the example of the letter beis, which is open and stands for the word bayis. The open shape of the letter beis teaches us that we should always have an open house.
He noted how Achisofel had bad intentions but nevertheless he taught two things to David HaMelech, and so David HaMelech honored him. Rabbi Goldwasser taught that the greatest z’chus a person can accomplish is to be part of the community. If you help out in the community, your sins won’t be counted. Also, he taught that a person must continue no matter how long and how hard a mitzvah is until he can accomplish it. “It doesn’t matter how many times we fall. Ask Hashem to help you realize you have strength inside you. You can do anything.”
He spoke about the mishnah that teaches that everyone should have a rav. The Malbim taught that you should make yourself a rebbe means to make it lucrative and beautiful for your rebbe. Make sure your rebbe has what he needs. When a person doesn’t have a rebbe to ask, he can pasken incorrectly for himself. The mishnah also says to acquire a friend. The strength of two friends is stronger than an individual could imagine. Friendship is so important that even if you have to pay money it is worth it. “A friend will be a support through your whole life.” The mishnah also teaches that you should always judge everyone favorably.
These inspiring, continuing shiurim can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber