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    Shmuz_Number_173

    #173 - Children of HASHEM

    Am I worthy to ask for even more than what I have been given?  Why should HASHEM grant my requests?  This Shmuz deals with our relationship with HASHEM, and helps us focus  on some basic issues of davening and Bitachon:

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    Shmuz_Number_214

    #214 - HASHEM waits for our Teshuvah

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    Shmuz_Number_204

    #204 - Listening to your messages

    Man is preprogrammed for greatness. Half of man’s personality is screaming for meaning, purpose and greatness. There is a powerful instinct within him that only desires that which is proper. If man follows that side of his inner nature, he is pulled towards perfection. But that is the point; the need for perfection is built [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_199

    #199 - Lashon Harah- Mindless Chatter

    Whether we are aware of it or not– whether we admit it or not-- We all speak Lashon Harah. And herein lies one of the great mysteries: The Rambam defines Lashon Harah as words that hurt words that damage. Yet, we are nice people. We aren’t malicious or mean spirited, and we certainly wouldn’t do [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_162

    #162_Learning to Care

    Of course, he’s a nice guy. Everyone is a nice guy. Yet how do you explain all of the pettiness and downright nasty things that people do to one another on an ongoing basis? This Shmuz focuses us on one of the most important functions in a human: learning to truly care about another human [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_159

    #159 - 212 Degrees - Just One Degree Hotter

    211 degrees is very hot. 212 is boiling. While the distance between the two seems minuscule, the difference can be huge. Often times, the difference between success and failure is just one more go at it, just one more try.  This is a highly motivating Shmuz that focuses on the laser intensity needed for each [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_157

    #157 - Learning to Love Learning

    How is it that some people find learning fun? I know it’s important. I know it’s a unique mitzvah. I even accept that it is the single most important activity that a human could ever engage in, but I still don’t want to learn. This Shmuz focuses on the ingredients needed to move from the [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_154

    #154 - Marriage: A Work in Progress PART II

    Each one of us stands under the chuppah starry-eyed, knowing full well that we have found eternal love and bliss. Yet, something happens between that moment and real life. The reality is that getting married is easy, but staying married isn't.  This Shmuz is Part II of a Marriage series that deals with the essential [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_156

    #156 - Get Out of Debt

    Never before in the course of history has so much been available to so many. The average tax-paying American citizen enjoys luxuries and riches that kings of yore couldn’t envision.   Yet most Americans are in debt. According to the Federal Reserve, the average credit card debt per U.S. household is almost $10,000 – a [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_153

    #153 - Marriage: A Work in Progress

    Each one of us stands under the chuppah starry-eyed, knowing full well that we have found eternal love and bliss. Yet, something happens between that moment and real life. The reality is that getting married is easy, but staying married isn't.  This Shmuz is Part I of a Marriage series that deals with the essential [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_151

    #151 - Be Brave, Be Bold

    All the great leaders and teachers of the Jewish Nation had faults and flaws. The Torah tells us the shortcomings of Avrohom, Dovid, and Shlomo. More amazingly, the Gemarah tells us that the four men who never sinned aren't counted amongst the greatest of our nation. Why? The reason is simple. HASHEM didn't put us [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_149

    #149 - The System of Tshuvah

    We know that Tshuvah works. The Nivim told us it does, Chazal repeat it many, many times, and we even have Yom Kippur, a day created specifically for tshuvah. The question isn't whether Tshuvah works, but why I don't make use of it?  Why is it that I don't stand there on Yom Kippur with [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_146

    #146 - The Impact of One Mitzvah

    I do daven with a minyan. I don't. I do a chesed -- I don't. Does it really matter? Does it really make a difference? Very often we find ourselves thinking what is the big deal? Will my actions really change my life? Will they change my world? Yet every once in a while, we [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_145

    #145 - Stages of Change Part III: Taking Action

    When a person recognizes that he needs to lose weight, it isn't enough for him to read all the latest diet books and find a great plan - the person has to actually "do it." He has to go on that diet and stick to it. But "doing it" requires motivation, not just the initial [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_144

    #144 - Stages of Change Part II: Support Groups

    Recent studies show that in 2004, there were an estimated 44.5 million adult smokers in the United States, and 70% of them want to quit. Each year, 35% do attempt to stop, yet only 5% succeed -- clearly change isn't easy. Willpower alone isn't enough. A good program for change alone isn't enough. To make [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_143

    #143 - Stages of Change – Part 1: Denial

    The Vilna Gaon tells us that the main reason for life is to change our middos -"If not" he says, "Why should a person have life?"  The difficulty with this mandate is that it means: I have to change. While in theory I may be open to grow -- I may even recognize the many [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_142

    #142 - The Power of Laughter

    There are certain life lessons that they don't teach you in school. One of them is the importance of maintaining a sense of humor.   Not only is this one of the key elements for maintaining a sense of balance and joy as we travel through the trials of life, in terms of our relationships [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_138

    #138 - The Potential & The Present

    "Considering where I come from and what I've been through,  I'm doing pretty well... While this may be a comforting position to take, the question a person must ask themselves is: is this really all that I can be? What if I were to stop making excuses? What if I was to truly hold myself [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_136

    #136 - I'm Never Wrong

    There is much truth in the adage: There are three sides to every story, your side, my side and the truth. And, even though I fully understand that you might be making a valid point, as soon as we get into an argument, I can no longer even see your side because, of course, I'm [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_135

    #135 - Imagination: The Devil's Playground

    Eleanor Roosevelt has been credited with saying, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." The reality is that most of the battles that we fight are based on complex constructions -- created by us. Whether they be issues of misunderstanding other's motives, or our fight with passions and desire, or understanding our [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_134

    #134 - PARENTING 103: Setting Limits

    If you were to poll our community, the average parent would admit “we probably give our children too much.” And while this sentiment may not be clearly spoken out by young parents, once children hit the teen age years, most parents upon reflection would say : “ I wish we had been more firm with [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_133

    #133 - ReJEWvinate

    One of the tools of a highly successful person is the ability to stay focused and motivated over long periods of time. Whether in sports, academics or business the effort and consistency needed to accomplish long term goals, requires a high level of motivation and the ability to rejuvenate excitement and enthusiasm. Often times the [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_128

    #128 - Kiruv: The Message & The Medium

    In 1996, sociologists Gordon and Horowitz published a study entitled, “Will Your Grandchildren Be Jewish?” Their conclusion: based on the general Jewish population’s ever-decreasing birth rates and skyrocketing intermarriage rates, the odds that any Jews will remain at the end of the 21st century are slim to none.  However, one category of their study stood [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_127

    #127 - Breaking The Forces Of Habits

    We are creatures of habit. We act by habit, we react by habit and, to a large extent, we even think by habit. In truth, it has to be that way. If we didn't act based on previously established patterns of behavior, life would be unmanageable. If we had to think through each and every [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_126

    #126 - Dignity of Man

    While there is much talk today about the importance of self-esteem and its effect on a person's attitudes and accomplishments, there is a corollary benefit of understanding the greatness of man: if I am obligated to respect myself because I was created in the image of HASHEM, then so too, I must respect you, because [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_122

    #122 - Parenting 102

    For thousands of years, parenting was a pretty straightforward responsibility. Society offered highly structured guidelines for behavior. Adult's roles were well-defined, as were children's roles, and throughout the strata of the community, everyone knew his place. New parents had their own parents as role models, and the techniques to use were time-tested and proven -- [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_121

    #121 - EMES The Whole Truth

    Politicians lie, lawyers lie, salesmen lie -- but we are honest, moral people and we don't lie... Unfortunately, the reality is that the world we live in affects us, and lies - sometimes little ones, sometimes bigger ones, tend to seep into and become part of our lives. Reb Yisroel Salanter defines lying as "Saying [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_116

    #116 - GROWTH

    Every human needs to grow; it is an inborn trait in the species. Sometimes, that trait manifests itself into real, significant growth, but sometimes, it is channeled into lesser pursuits. A sure sign of this is when someone incessantly chases after something that never satisfies him. The multi-millionaire who constantly seeks more money, the king [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_97

    #97 Living the Good life

    We all want to live “the good life.” Big homes, money in the bank, vacations, and luxury. The trouble is that these things never seem to satisfy. Anyone who spends his life acquiring them finds himself wanting more and more. Perhaps “the good life” isn’t so good, after all. So what is “the good life?” [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_91

    #91 I Never Forget

    The human being is capable of tremendous feats of memory. Events that happened long ago can be brought to mind in vivid detail. Ask a forty-year-old man if he still remembers his bar mitzvah. Ask a woman who’s been married twenty years if she remembers her wedding day. I may not remember what I ate [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_87

    #87 Self Control!

    Most of us are wimps. If you don’t believe it, ask yourself what you do when faced with a choice between doing what you want and doing what you should. The nisyonos are different for everybody, but how many of us can claim to be masters over our desires? How many of us have real [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_86

    #86 To Tell the Truth

    We’re surrounded by falsehood. We don’t believe our leaders, and we know that all the ads bombarding us are lies. We’re so used to it, we accept as normal. Tzaddikim don’t do that. Lies are anathema to them. They live by their word. Once upon a time, everyone lived that way. Truth and honor meant [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_85

    #85 MOTIVATION!

    Success may be sweet, but to get there, you need motivation. When things are going swimmingly, motivation comes naturally. But when you hit those inevitable rough spots, you need an extra boost. Where do you get it, especially when you’re in a rut? How can you get motivated when you just aren’t?  Motivation works on [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_80

    #80 It's Never Too Late

    We put up many resistances to teshuva. The simplest one is denial. “I’ve never done anything wrong.” But deep down, we know it’s a lie, so guilt festers, perking up at odd moments to tell us, “Who do you think you are – doing mitzvos? You’re a slime and a faker. Stop pretending to be [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_78

    #78 Kiddush HASHEM

    Making a kiddush Hashem isn’t just about the big things – like sacrificing one’s life for the sake of a mitzvah – it’s something we can do every day. Ultimately, every Jew is a billboard for Torah. When we behave properly, we have a ripple effect on the people around us. Our “simple” mitzvos make [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_74

    #74 Divaykus in Our Times

    Falling in love is the most pleasurable and powerful experience most of us will have in our lifetimes. And it comes so naturally, too. Just look at any chosson and kallah. Loving Hashem takes more effort, but the reward can be even greater. After all, His love is all-powerful. Lofty as it sounds, we can [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_62

    #62 Plan Your Life, Live Your Plan

    Plan your life; live your plan. Set goals for yourself; follow through with them. It sounds like plain common sense, but somehow, most people don’t bother. They get sidetracked by the rat race and the pursuit of pleasure. Winging their way through life, they never reach their full potential. The trick to planning your life [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_48

    #48 Being a Nice Guy

    Most people we meet are “nice guys”. If you were stuck on the road, or if you needed a place to sleep they would be the first to come forward and offer to help. Yet these very same people do things that really aren’t nice-- in fact, sometimes downright cruel. The question is why? Why [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_47

    #47 Cognitive Restructuring

    The last of the Ten Commandments is “You shall not covet”. Simply stated one should not be desirous of his neighbor’s property, possessions or any attribute that he may have. On the face of things this seems to be a very difficult mitzvah to observe. If my neighbor has something that is beautiful, he owns [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_46

    #46 Greatness of Man- Beyond our understanding

    Chazal teach us that HASHEM would have created the entire world for one man: the sun, the moon and the stars, the planets and constellations, the oceans, the rivers and the birds -- all for one human being. The question is what exactly is so great about man? What is so fantastically meaningful and significant [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_45

    #45 WYSIWYG- Developing Willpower

    It’s true that I’m not quite where I hope to be one day. It’s even true that there are many thoughts that go through my head that I’m not proud of. I am still selfish and self centered, and there are many things that I feel that I would be deeply ashamed of if anyone [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_44

    #44 Bar Kamtza - Do you really have Free Will?

    I accept that each person’s life span is set before they are born. I also accept that the question is visited on Rosh Hashanah when Hashem decides who will live and who will die. All that is fine and well, until I pick up a gun and say to myself, can’t I decide to end [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_43

    #43 Soton out of the Box

    It seems that it should be easier now to grow than in any previous generation. We have wealth, luxuries, freedom from oppression, and we have time. We enjoy so many time saving devices and conveniences that it would surely seems that we are finally free to sit and learn. And in fact, it seems that [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_42

    #42 Tricks of the Soton

    Chazal tell us that Hashem created a malach whose sole job it is to trip up man -- to get us to sin, to get us to fail, to get us to mess up. Where is he? What voice does he speak with? How can I identify him? For most of us, without direct guidance [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_23

    #23 I’ll never die. Not me. No way.

    While this may be philosophy’s greatest question, isn’t it something that any thinking person must answer: “What is my purpose in existence”? Drawing from The Path of the Just, this Shmuz focuses us on finding the true meaning and purpose of our life. What is my purpose in life? What are my true core values? [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_19

    #19 Free will - Part 2: I Never Do Anything Wrong

    In this introduction to emunah, we are presented with four basic levels of belief: 1. Hashem created the world. 2. Hashem is involved in the really big picture issues - war, famine, life and death. 3. Hashem knows my inner thoughts. 4. Hashem is intimately involved in my day to day life. After outlining and [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_13

    #13 Free Will – Part 1: Nefesh Habahami, Nefesh Hasichli

    Has there ever been a time when you reacted to something, and you couldn’t believe that it was you who was speaking that way? Have you ever said something and had a feeling of, “What came over me – it was as if I were possessed? In this introduction to the inner workings of the [...]

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    Shmuz_Number_6

    #6 Its not Geneivah, it’s Shtick

    It is very difficult for us human beings to accept that we do things that are wrong, and so we rationalize. We create illusions and fanciful stories that we ourselves don’t believe. And so, you will find intelligent, otherwise rational people saying things like, “Of course I wouldn’t steal, stealing is dishonest, but this isn’t [...]

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