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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Positive thinking is a mitzvah!

Daf Yomi Yevamos 83

There were three choices on the sheet of paper the Schwartzes handed me: do everything possible to save the life of their father, including resuscitation; do everything possible except resuscitation; or, only provide comfort medication.  The hospital had asked them to make a decision as to how to deal with Mr. Schwartz and they wanted to know what the Torah required of them.

I handed them siddurim (prayerbooks) and instructed them to open up to Ethics of the Fathers.  We read together, “One moment of repentance and good deeds in this world is greater than all of the life in the World to Come.”
“Choice number one is the right choice,” I told them, “we do everything possible to keep a person in this world doing mitzvos.”
“But what if he’s in bed and can’t even move or speak any longer?” Freddie asked, “Is it still worth prolonging dad’s life?  What mitzvos would he be doing?”

It was taught in a Mishnah: One who spreads his vine over the grain of his friend, renders it an unfit graft (kilayim) and he must compensate him.  This is the opinion of Rabbi Meir.  Rabbi Yossi and Rabbi Simon say, “A person cannot forbid something that does not belong to him.”

Tosfos asks: How is this case different from placing non-kosher meat into one’s friend’s dish, which would certainly prohibit the food?  Rabbi Isaac answers that we only employ the principle that ‘a person cannot forbid something that does not belong to him’ with regards to thought mitzvos.  For example, if one worshipped his friend’s animal, he cannot make the animal prohibited as an object of idolatry.   Therefore, kilayim (grafting produce) which is a thought transgression accords with this principle.

While you can’t affect your friend’s life with negative thoughts, you most certainly can affect their life with positive thinking.   When you think good, positive thoughts about someone else, you draw down blessing into their life!  According to Kabbalah, the soul has three garments, meaning that there are three ways that the soul expresses itself physically: thought, speech, and action.   Not only can your soul accomplish in this world by doing or saying good things, it also accomplishes incredible amounts of good just by thinking good things!

And that’s what I explained to the Schwartzes.  “You have no idea,” I said to them, “what your dad is thinking every time you walk into the room – what nachas he’s getting from the children and grandchildren!”
“It’s true,” responded Freddie, “sometimes we’re not sure if he’s cognizant or not, but then his face lights up when he sees the grandchildren!  Obviously, he’s thinking good thoughts.”

Positive thinking is not just for the ill and infirm.  You can achieve incredible blessing just by thinking positively about others.   We all know what we can achieve by our good deeds.  We even know what can be achieved by what we say.  But you have no idea how much you can accomplish just by what you are thinking!  And that’s why you always need to be thinking positively about others.  When you think positively, you give people the ‘good eye’.  G-d forbid, should you think negatively about them, you would give them a ‘bad eye’, which is a channel for negative energy to enter their lives.

It’s not just about the good things you say and do in life.  Every positive thought you have about someone else is a mitzvah.  When you think positively about their success and accomplishment, you bestow the ‘good eye’ upon them and draw down Divine blessing into their life.  May you always merit thinking positively about everyone and being a source of blessing to all!  

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