Two Seriously Ill Men

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.  One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon.  His bed was next to the room’s only window.  The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. 

The men would talk to each other for hours on end.  They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, where they had been on vacation; and every after-noon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. 

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where he would be enchanted by all the activity and color of the world outside.

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To Be Perfect Is No Fun

There is a story in medieval Hebrew literature; and there is a Charlie Brown cartoon that expresses the same spiritual truth – that to be perfect is no fun!

In medieval Hebrew literature, there is a legend about a king who was trying to impress a woman.  He says to her:  “Do you know how rich I am?”

She was not impressed.

He tries again.  He says to her:  “Do you know how many servants I have?”

She was not impressed.

He then says:  “Do you know how many riches I have, and how many people in the world envy me?”

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Secrets to Success

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.  This is to have succeeded.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Twinkies from God

There once was a little boy who wanted to meet God.  He knew it was a long trip to where God lived; so he packed a suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of root beer and started his journey.  When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman.  She was sitting in the park, staring at the pigeons.  The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase.  He was about to take a sip of his root beer when he noticed that the woman looked hungry; so he offered her a Twinkie.  She gratefully accepted it.  Her smile was so pretty that the little boy wanted to see it again; so he offered her some root beer.  Once again, she smiled that beautiful smile.  The boy was delighted.  They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling; yet neither of them said a word.  As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was; and he got up to leave.  Before he had gone no more than a few steps, he turned around and ran back to the woman and gave her a hug.  She, in return, gave him the biggest and most beautiful smile ever.

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Three Powerful Words

A story is told about General George Patton, the legendary General of World War Two fame.  He was once invited to dine at a press camp in Africa.  Wine was served in canteen cups; but thinking that he was being served coffee Patton poured cream into his cup.  As he stirred in the sugar, he was told that his cup contained wine and not coffee.

Too proud to admit that he made a mistake, Patton replied without hesitating:  “I know.  I like my wine this way.”  And he drank it.

I share this story with you because I think it is hard for us to admit when we make a mistake.  We think it reflects badly on us if we say that we were wrong.

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When Your Pet Passes Away

Losing a devoted pet is a painful experience for the pet owner.  In many cases, the pet owner has had to make difficult decisions ending a pet’s life, which adds to their grief and distress.  Here are positive ways to begin to cope with this stress and work through your grief.

1) Understand that grief is natural

Grief is a normal and natural reaction to loss.  Unfortunately, feelings are often discouraged or not supported, so we learn to hide them. The first step to managing grief is accepting it as a natural reaction to loss, and that everyone grieves differently.

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The Black Dot

There is a story about a certain professor who stood up in front of a class with a large sheet of white paper, with a small, black circle drawn on the left-hand corner of the page.  He then asked the students what they saw.  Their answer was simply, “I see a black dot”.  After the answer was given, the professor gave the only response he would have accepted.  “What you are looking at,” he said “is a large sheet of white paper that is big enough to hold the Ten Commandments, the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence combined!  This plain white piece of paper also has a small, black dot, which all of you made into the only thing you saw!!!”

Too many of us just look at the black dots of our lives and forget that our lives have a lot more to them.

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No Bus to Paradise

While driving on the Hollywood Freeway, I noticed a Greyhound bus with the destination “Paradise” boldly shown across the front.  How wonderful it sounded.  I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could settle back on a bus destined for Paradise”?  Then I wondered, “What would this place be like and would it be Paradise for everyone?”  I thought to myself that no matter where we are, we create our own heaven or hell.  Each of us defines our own Paradise.  Some spend a lifetime in search of happiness and may even convince themselves that there is no Paradise on Earth, except of our own making.  We drive ourselves and determine what it will be like when we get there.

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Hasidic Story

There is a Hasidic story of a man who was befuddled because he could never find his clothes in the morning.  As a result, he feared going to bed because of the trouble he would have in the morning.  The man became resolute and decided to overcome this problem by carefully recording on a piece of paper every item of clothing as he undressed and noted its location.

The very next morning he was very pleased with himself.  The panic was gone.  The piece of paper was in his hand and he read:  “trouser-dresser,” “shirt-closet.”  He then read the last item on his list, “self.”  Opposite the word was a blank space.  He paused, thinking about the empty space and wondered:  “Where Am I?  Where in the world am I?”

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Rabbi Sally - The People's Rabbi