Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 5, 2006 / 13 Tishrei, 5767

Appropriate Guilt

By Rebbetzin Feige Twerski


Printer Friendly Version

Email this article


It's hard for me to differentiate between guilt and selfimprovement. I feel this especially now. There are three people in the immediate community who are seriously ill. The news is frightening. There are a few small things I have changed in the hopes that this will serve to benefit them. But in the scheme of things they seem minor. I sometimes feel guilty about feeling happy with my family and security when others don't have this. In another vein, does working on controlling anger count if after ten calm days one explodes?


There is a great difference between conventional guilt and the Jewish concept of guilt. Conventional guilt keeps one enmeshed in the past, wallowing and repeatedly obsessing about past wrongdoing and misdeeds. It leaves one feeling unworthy and unredeemable.


In contrast, Jewish guilt means regretfully admitting inappropriate behavior and moving on to assimilate and integrate the insights gained into one's ensuing daily living. It is present and future oriented. It maintains that to err is human and no experience in life is a failure if we learn from it and are modified by it.


Your sensitivity to the necessity for personal contributions to the troubling events of our times are right on target. We all desperately seek relief from the terrible darkness that surrounds us, both collectively and individually. It mandates that each of us light a candle, in our own way, given our unique resources and individual circumstances. Each of us has to assume responsibility to effect the change that we want to see.


In the Book of Ruth, we read of Elimelech, a wealthy leader of the Jewish people. At a time of his people's suffering and travail, he chose to distance himself and abandon them. Erroneously, he assumed that since the calamity had not affected him directly, he was free of responsibility for his fellow people. He paid with his life for this reprehensible attitude.


You have correctly identified a most critical area of contribution - the work we need to do in the inner landscape of our person. Working and effecting change internally on our character attributes and attitudes toward life is the most productive approach to creating a better world. Precisely because it is unquestionably the most difficult battlefront, the very Heavens stand in awe of every effort to confront our shortcomings and proceed to put forth the requisite toil to achieve personal change and growth. Rabbi Yisroel of Salant commented that the loudest sound in the universe is that of a person breaking old behavior patterns and putting constructive ones in their place. Every time we wish to respond in the predictable, unacceptable mode of old, whether in anger, pride, selfishness or excessive ego-involvement, and by dint of exercising control and invoking the better part of ourselves we hold our tongue or modify our reaction accordingly, it is of ultimate value.

ENJOYING THIS ARTICLE?


You can buy the rebbetzin's book, from which it was excerpted, at a discount by clicking "here". (Sales help fund JWR.).


Your concern that this position of control cannot be maintained 100 percent of the time and hence the subsequent outbursts invalidate the success of your resolve is unwarranted. In all of growth there are relapses. We move up a number of steps and then predictably regress a notch or two. This is the nature of human growth and should not discourage or dissuade us. We must persevere. Old patterns are not easily changed and every bit of effort exerted brings us closer to achieving the purpose and the reason that we were put on this earth. This is the case under all circumstances and most especially in our troubled times.


These are the best offerings that we can bring in an effort to promote healing and positive energy into the world. These are the loftiest expressions of self-sacrifice. As one of the commentaries notes, "To live with Kiddush Hashem, sanctifying G-d's Name, is an even greater achievement than to die with Kiddush Hashem. A lifetime dedicated to self-transcendence, dedicating oneself to the will of G-d, surpasses the once in a lifetime transcendence of martyrdom.


Not to die for G-d, but to set our will and impulse aside in deference to Him and His understanding of the appropriate behavior that is ultimately in our best interest and should be our goal.


You write that under the circumstances you feel guilty about being happy with your family and your security. It is important to understand that from a Torah perspective that everything we are given in life, both the desirable and that which appears to be less desirable, are all part of Divine Providence and orchestration. Having "good" things in life is not arbitrary or a product of "luck." It is all part of the "tailor-made" context of our life, structured and prescribed by the Almighty as necessary for the unique challenges with which we must deal.


The challenge of adversity demands a perspective of courage and strength. The challenge of "good" demands a perspective of sharing, appreciation, and abiding gratitude. To sustain an attitude of feeling blessed is not an easy matter. Human beings generally focus not on what we have but what we would like to have. To enjoy security and family is not only appropriate, it is imperative.


Our Sages teach us that one of the reasons we recite blessings throughout the day is to make us conscious of G-d's beneficence that surrounds us - food, clothing, fragrant flowers in bloom, milestones, holidays, and even life itself, as we recite the "modeh ani" blessing at the dawning of each new day of existence with which we are favored. These are all gifts for our enjoyment. As a matter of fact, we are told that after our mortal existence we will have to answer for the legitimate joys in life that were available to us and of which we did not partake. Guilt is not a legitimate response to blessing.


Redoubling our efforts to share our resources, gladdening the hearts of others, being a source of enveloping light and maintaining a positive stance for our family are the constructive and productive expressions of gratitude for the gifts granted and blessings rendered that the Almighty would hold most dear.


In the merit of the sincere quest to do what is right as you articulated so well, may G-d grant all of us the ultimate light that will illuminate our lives, individually, and the world as a whole.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspirational articles. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.



Rebbetzin Feige Twerski of Milwaukee, Wisconsin has devoted her life to Jewish education and Outreach, giving lectures worldwide on a myriad of Judaic subjects. She is a mother of 11 children, and many grandchildren whose number she refuses to divulge. She serves as the Rebbetzin along side her husband, Rabbi Michel Twerski, of Congregation Beth Jehudah of Milwaukee. Comment by clicking here.

Up

© 2006, Shaar Press