Posted by: Koach Alec Reuven | August 3, 2009

Love Yourself, Love The World!

וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ

The Torah commands us to “love your neighbor as we love ourselves.” This simple idea is perhaps one the most fundamental elements of our faith.  We are to approach all of our neighbors, friends, and yes, even enemies, with the love we have for ourselves.

This idea was related in the famous story of a gentile who wanted to convert to Judaism.  The gentile went to Shammai and asked to learn the entire Torah on one foot.  Shammai chased the man away, perhaps thinking that such a concept was an impossibility.

Then the gentile went to Hillel.  Hillel’s famous response: “Do not do unto others that which is hateful to you.  The rest is commentary.  Go learn!”  The gentile was inspired, and eventually converted to Judaism.

Although it is interesting to note that Hillel framed the idea in the negative, i.e. “do not” instead of the more forceful “love,” the idea is the same.

As I was meditating on this concept today, an idea hit me.  The entire basis of “loving our neighbors like we love ourselves” is predicated on the fact that we love our selves.  Logically, what would be the point of G-d telling us to love others like we love ourselves if we did not love ourselves? But what if someone does not love his or herself?  Does that person have an excuse not to love anyone because he or she does not love the self?

love self

I think the answer to all of these questions lies in the fact that Hashem wants us to actually love ourselves. Because if we do not love ourselves, then at the end of the day we will not be able to love anyone else.  And the more you love yourself, the more you have to give to others.

The word for love in Hebrew is “Ahav” from the root “hav.”  Hav means to give.  The very essence of love is to give until you can’t give anymore. And the only way to give is to fill yourself up with enough so that you have more than enough to give.

And let’s be honest, it’s hard for some of us.  It’s hard to love ourselves. When we do things wrong we want to jump on ourselves for being a “stupid this,” or “bad that.”  But really, truly, deep down, if we cannot forgive ourselves, love ourselves, and most importantly, accept ourselves, then there will never be enough of us to give to anyone else.

Perhaps some of us are afraid to love ourselves because we are afraid that we will take this idea too far.  We might become conceited and that would invalidate the point of trying to love ourselves in the first place.  If that is the case then why even try to love ourselves?

I think this is why G-d actually commanded us to love ourselves through these words in Vayikra.  Hashem knows that it might be hard to love ourselves, or we might be fearful in loving ourselves.

The key to the right kind of love lies in our intent. We must love ourselves, not because we think we are the greatest, most awesome person in the galaxy.  We must love ourselves because we know how special and unique we are, we know that we are truly made in G-d’s image and that G-d wants what is best for us.  Each one of us special, has innate talents and abilities.  We are all G-d’s gifts to the world and it is with this knowledge that we can appreciate and love ourselves.

Yes, it is possible to love ourselves the right way.  If we use this knowledge and this power then there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

Therefore, love yourself.  Know that Hashem wants you to love yourself.  Because when you do, and you do it the right way, you will have so much to give.  And the more you give, the more you love.  Love yourself, and you can and will love the world.

Posted by: Koach Alec Reuven | July 28, 2009

This Is Our Moment!

crashEvery now and again a moment arises where we have a choice to react or remain complacent. Where we know that there is some sort of hidden message out there for us to grasp.

On an individual level we can recognize these moments:

One day, you’re driving your car with your family, going to your parents’ house so they can see the Grandkids.  Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, another car appears headed right for you.  You brake, completely afraid that you will lose everything in an instant.  But there is nothing you can do.  You look up and see the person in the other car as he hits you.  You brace for impact, and then – BOOM!

Miraculously, although your car is totaled, you and your loved ones remain fine.  You feel a huge wave of gratitude to Hashem for saving your life and lives of your family.  Everyone is safe, thank G-d.

You go to shul that Shabbos, step up for your aliyah and bench Gomel.

It is at that moment you have a choice. You can either look inside, understand that this event was a message from Hashem to improve, better yourself, perhaps even head in another direction.  You can use this event as a blessing from Hashem to change something in your life that needs fixing, an area that you never focused on before.  You use this event as a tremendous opportunity, and you change yourself for the better.

Or you can do nothing. You can choose to ignore the message, to shun your intuition (technically your “gut” or solar plexus).  You continue with your life as if nothing had happened.  Often when we ignore these moments we tend to regret doing so.

In less than a year the Jewish people have been faced with the equivalent of a ten car pileup on the New Jersey Turnpike. There is no need to elaborate on the tremendous damage Mr. Madoff has done to us, both publicly and privately.  When the best thing we can say about a giant chilul Hashem is: “Thank G-d most of his victims are Jewish,” we know that there is something fundamentally wrong with this picture.

Then there were the stories of other ponzi schemes by religious Jews.  The next month the papers were all over the religious inmates in New York prisons who were getting preferential treatment.  This caused prisons guards and chaplains to be suspended and/or fired.

*Jul 23 - 00:05*

If all this wasn’t bad enough, who will ever forget the events of the past week.  The covers of the New York and New Jersey papers, littered with pictures of (religious) Jews accused of incomprehensible acts.

Money laundering?

Organ selling?

Is this really happening?

Is this how a religious Jew is supposed to act?  Some of these men are our supposed leaders – and when they fall they fall precipitously.  How do you think this makes us look to the public?

We are supposed to be a light unto the nations.  We are not supposed to subvert their laws.  Yet time and time again it’s as if none of that matters.  We raise our children and tell them that we are the chosen nation.  But do you think Hashem wants a nation that is more known for its organ selling or political shenanigans than its love for fellow men or women?

Who would choose us now?

As Tisha B’av approaches we have to understand that nothing happens by accident.  The car that hit you did not appear by chance.  And the recent revelations about our religious models and other nefarious dealings did not happen by accident.

Hashem does not act randomly.  Hashem is sending us a powerful, powerful message.  Simple, yet profound.

Hashem’s message (I think) is:

This is our chance to look inside.  This is our opportunity to change our ways.

Hashem is telling us that now is our time to understand that we, as Jews, and definitely religious Jews, have a responsibility in this world.  That we must understand that each one of us is a representative for a higher purpose.  That we are living in one of the most tolerant countries in the world, and we should use this tolerance toward a greater understanding and friendship with our fellow men and women – and not to try to do whatever we can to ignore any laws that currently exist.

Next time you are dealing with someone who isn’t Jewish (kal v’chomer someone who is), give a smile.  Be polite.  Be courteous.  These are our friends we live with.  If you really believe that you are part of the chosen nation – then act like it.

Internally, we all know that this is the message.  Perhaps each one of us has a personally tailored message for the events at hand, and it would be great to do major introspection to reveal the message.

But we cannot let these episodes go by without a response.

We, as a people, and as we begin Tisha B’av, are metaphorically and in reality standing in shul, ready to bench Gomel for our collective misdeeds.  It is now up to us to heed Hashem’s message.  Because the risk for ignoring the call will be all too unbearable for us.

We can do this.  We can be kind to our neighbors and fellow citizens.  We can show the world once again that the Jew is a person who can be trusted and admired.  If we realize that each one of us has a responsibility to be a good person, and if we act like good people, then with G-d’s help we will merit the final redemption.


Posted by: Koach Alec Reuven | July 22, 2009

Koach Alec Reuven Speaks About the Three Weeks

Posted by: Koach Alec Reuven | July 20, 2009

Welcome to Koaching Kosher

Thank you for finding my blog. My name is Alec Reuven and I’m a certified life Koach – er – coach. As a society we are constantly bombarded with negative images, influences, and ideas. Sometimes it’s hard to keep it all together.

But there is another way. There is way to see the beauty in all things. There is a way to understand that Hashem is actually on our side, that He wants the best for us. That’s what Koaching Kosher is about. Starting from where we are and realizing, noticing, and eventually believing that we can have whatever it is we want in this world. Hashem wants us to have it all. As Dovid Hamelech, King David said, “Poseach es Yadecha, umasbia lechol chai rozton” or “Hashem opens up his hand, and satisfies the desire of every living thing.” That includes you, that includes me, that includes everyone.

Enjoy the blog and please let me know if you have any ideas or questions or if you want to learn more about Koaching.

Posted by: Koach Alec Reuven | July 8, 2009

Welcome to Koaching Kosher!

Thank you for finding us at Koaching Kosher.  Where we help you go from strength to strength!