I Feel Good … Part II


I Feel Good … Part II

November 30, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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In part two of self-esteem, we can strive to answer the question “Why is it so important to feel good about ourselves?” Aside from the obvious psychological reasons there is a spiritual basis for self-esteem.

First, the mitzvah of ‘Veahavta l’Reiacha Kamocha’ (loving our neighbor as ourselves) is dependent on oheving (loving) ourselves? As this mitzvah is considered the basis or summary of the Torah according to Hillel, Hashem is thereby instructing us to love ourselves as a fundamental precondition to fulfilling all other mitzvot. Only by first loving ourselves are we able to then extrapolate that love and enthusiasm for life to others as well.

Furthermore, the more we cherish ourselves the greater the joy we feel in keeping mitzvot. We are thus more able to utilize our strengths to fulfill our mission in life. It is essential not only to love ourselves but to appreciate our unique talents and strengths that enable us to accomplish our task we were born to fulfill.

Appreciating our talents and G-d-given gifts greatly enhances our Avodat Hashem. Indeed, our physical and spiritual motivation increases according to how good we feel about ourselves and how much we believe we can achieve.

Emuna is not limited to trusting in Hashem but also extends to acknowledging that He trusts us to accomplish our unique purpose and thus enrich the world with G-dliness and be co-partners with Him. We need emuna in ourselves to believe that we have the capability to fulfill the monumental task that Hashem has appointed each of us to do.


I Feel Good… Part I

November 29, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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Often, those suffering from low self-esteem apply self-pity as a ‘balm’ to their wounds. In truth, statements like, “Nobody cares about me” or “I never have time for myself” are actually a cry for attention. Admittedly, each person must nourish themselves first and not surrender themselves to the point where they feel they are being taken advantage of. However, if we have filled up on enough positive energy and self-attention we should be able to give to others from a position of strength and not from self-pity or negativity.

A question often arises as to how much chesed we should be doing. The key to the answer is self-awareness. Knowing our limitations and capabilities is the best indicator of how much or how little chesed we should be doing, both in and outside of the house. Of course, there will be times we are required to over-extend ourselves and times when we feel we can give less. However, generally we must look within and explore our boundaries and limitation. We should not be driven by impulse. Nor should we undertake a chesed in order to be praised by others. We must delve within and ensure we are not to be doing chesed for the sake of admiration. Investing sufficient thought into the extent of our limits is a great contribution towards, self-respect, self-awareness and ultimately self-esteem.

Some with poor self-worth have a difficult time accepting compliments. Rejecting complements may occur because they do not think of themselves as worthy. Alternatively, it may occur because they wish to hear another compliment after they dismiss the first. Or perhaps they want others to think how humble they are? Regardless of the reason, rejecting a compliment causes us to be unfair to both ourselves and the one handing out the compliment.

Ultimately, low self-worth is tied to a low level of emuna. In failing to accept a compliment or undertake chesed for the wrong reasons, we are failing to recognize Hashem in the picture. With regard to chesed, complaining of being taken advantage of is failing to recognize that it is Hashem sending us the chesed opportunity, thereby enabling us to increase our self-knowledge and awareness. With regard to complements, by rejecting a compliment directing at His creation, we are indirectly rejecting Him. Furthermore, we are failing to recognize that He sends us messages via the events and people in our lives.

He constantly showers us with gifts and ‘kind words’ given to us through His many emissaries. It is a great chesed to allow another to share warm words and acts of kindness. Hashen wants us to feel cherished by Him, experience pleasure and feel His closeness. By accepting these compliments we are acting as a kli to accepting Hashem’s bracha.


Make Sense?

November 28, 2016
Orit Esther Riter

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Many of us misunderstand the reason we do mitzvot; for certain it is not because they ‘make sense’ or we feel how valuable they are to life. The true basis for keeping mitzvot is because Hashem wills us to do so, no further explanation.

The RamBam ztk’l writes the ultimate knowledge is to recognize we have little or no knowledge; the greater the Torah scholar the more unanswered questions he has rather than thinking he knows and understands it all.

For certain we want to connect through our logical minds yet a mitzvah in and of itself is a connector – mitzvah from the word tzavta, team ship. The yetzer hara works hard at robbing us of joy while doing mitzvot if we cannot connect to them rationally. However joy should stem from knowing we are one with Hashem while doing any mitzvah, whether we grasp it’s inner depth or not.

This may be unattractive to the modern thinking person. Yet it should be seen as admirable since it is only the humble who can do mitzvot and recognize the boundaries of human mind. Ahava and Yirah are two components of serving Hashem. Ahava is a result of immediate closeness to Hashem.  However yirah is formed through a sense of distance – you cannot see anything clearly when put directly in front of the eyes.

Emuna is a certain inner knowing, the ability to see Hashem in everything; which is beyond the human mind.  Joy is a result of doing mitzvot injected with emuna!

Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated l’iluy nishmat Ariella Rivka bat Avraham z’l. May her neshama bask in the Divine light of the Shechinah HaKedosha among all the tzaddikim who have departed from this world, Amen.


Think Good – It Will be Good

November 23, 2016
Orit Esther Riter

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Thoughts are potent and eternal.  Positive thoughts are rooted in the soul and create spiritual angels.  Wanting to help another in thoughts is felt by the other.

Pharoah is the source of negativity that limits us and make us believe we cannot succeed.  The evaluation of who we are is solely dependent on the quality of our thoughts. Our Chassidic Masters teach that thoughts are like water- they sustain us and are always in motion.

How can we battle negative thoughts? Here are some practical tips:

  1. Keep a storehouse of positive Torah thoughts and make them available to replace negative ones that ‘pop up’. Negative thoughts are attracted to an empty mind therefore keep your mind filled with Torah words and teachings.
  2. Visualization – creates sensory experiences and fills you with joy and inspiration. Imagine Hashem’s loving presence embracing your struggles with you and lifting you to greater heights.
  3. Cry for help from Hashem – Chazal teach “Barati Yetzer hara Barati Torah tavlin: I created the yetzer hara, I created Torah as its antidote”. Hashem is always here to guide and help us bring out our best. “Hashem I want to think good – Please help me win this battle against my negative thoughts.”
  4. Start your day off with gratitude – the ultimate weapon against negative thoughts.
  5. Remember you control what you do with the negative thought when it comes to mind.

I welcome you to continue the journey to emotional well-being through one-on-one Torah therapy through a variety of methods including guided imagery and compassionate communication.



Emuna Living ~ Part II

November 22, 2016
Orit Esther Riter

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The world contradicts emuna thinking and living. We are instructed to work and do hishtadlut and get personally involved in our daily routine. It is a challenge not to worship our efforts.

Hashem is the only true reality. The RamBam ztk’l teaches, “Hu Levado emet: Hashem is the only truthful reality”, everything else is an allusion and a phantom of the yetzer hara. Hashem’s eyes are always looking at us. It takes tremendous strength to resist the world’s call to “kochi v’otzem yadi”. It is natural for us to ignore and forget that we are limited.  From here we learn that one of the greatest barriers to emuna living is arrogance and one of the most beloved and important virtues is humility.

Submission to Hashem and appreciation of His ongoing goodness is the key to strengthening our emuna and cleaving to Hashem.  Were it not for Hashem who gives us life, koach, wisdom and everything else we have… we would not have anything.  The strength to do and not to do, the strength to learn and not to learn, the strength to succeed or not is rooted in Hashem’s giving. When we don’t succeed materially or spiritually that too is Hashem’s way of telling us, “You see, you can’t do anything without me!”

We should awaken ourselves from the deep slumber of self-worship and recognize our total dependence of Hashem.  How different life would be if we absorbed this truth in our hearts; our emuna would climb to the greatest heights.



Emuna Living – Part I

November 21, 2016
Orit Esther Riter

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Making the transition to emuna living entails three essential steps:

  • Awareness: Hashem is all powerful, all knowing and in absolute control
  • Appreciation: Hashem desires our welfare and directs everything from a point of endless compassion for us
  • Acceptance: We are limited and cannot grasp Divine understanding

Anxiety levels are greatly reduced when we live with the keen awareness that we are in Hashem’s hands and no one else.  His infinite love outlines His sovereignty.   How can we possibly fathom such selfless love showered to us constantly without condition?

When these three points are deeply internalized fear withdraws, our heart gladdens, we feel secure and Tefillah flows freely.  Talking to Hashem comes naturally when we don’t resent the circumstances of our lives and ‘judge Hashem in favor.’

Emuna requires constant practice and internalizing; it’s reward absolute clarity.  To the measure that we strive to overcome our ‘natural way of thinking’ and logical interpretations of life’s circumstances, so too will Hashem shower yeshuot in the most ‘unnatural’ and marvelous way.



How Magnificent is Your Creation – Part III

November 16, 2016
Orit Esther Riter

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The body is made of mud so to speak; the soul is the breath of G-d within. Our soul is a life force passed over to us; a perfect spark of G-dliness implanted in an imperfect me.

Divine reality doesn’t fit into our logic. Hashem is beyond the ‘either’ and ‘or’ – what we think we understand will completely be turned around after ‘120’. Since we cannot see both realities at the same time this world becomes a journey to grow, develop and attach ourselves to the Divine. Our task is to ‘let Hashem’ in the process. Hashem ‘invested’ Himself in this world for us to participate in a process of becoming One with Him.

We become restless when we want something outside the Divine master plan. Yet we must be happy within the journey of self-discovery, including the struggles since they develop strength and character.

The greatest perfection about this world – is that it is perfect for growth, to develop and build, learn and do. The soul comes to this world to climb to perfection. As we accept this we will learn to be happy in our unhappiness and learn to be at peace in our restlessness.


How Magnificent is Your Creation – Part II

November 15, 2016
Orit Esther Riter

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The RamBam ztk’l writes in the beginning of his Mishneh Torah that one begins to feel true love of Hashem by looking at His wondrous creation. Through the ‘simple’ act of studying the design of man’s nervous system and how the nerves flawlessly communicate with one another in perfection leads one to undoubtedly recognize the Creator. Rabbi Wasserman ztk’l teaches it is obvious there is a G-d when we see the world and its perfect order.  We must strengthen our emuna in Hashem and loyalty to keeping His beautiful Torah.

The Rav of Novardok ztk’l, Rav Epstein author of Aruch HaShulachan wrote in 1903, “There is no greater sign and proof of G-d’s existence and connection with the nation of Israel than our survival of nearly 2,000 years of exile – It is only due to Hashem’s hashgacha.”  Logically, the Jewish people should not be here.

Rav Solovetchik ztk’l known as Ish Ha’Halacha writes that the most compelling proof for Hashem is the truth of the Torah. The beauty and majesty of the halachic system testifies to the finest prescription for leading a fulfilling and content life.

Atheism could be caused by a grudge onto G-d due to disappointments and one’s inability to grasp His infinite ways.  Our beliefs are bound to our limited minds.  Proving G-d’s existence is not the point; it is the deep need to believe that G-d is loving and caring in spite of the difficulties. Dislodging the belief that G-d is ‘out to get me’ is a struggle for many disbelievers.  Learning Torah and getting a glimpse of G-d’s wisdom is the perfect way to begin.



How Magnificent is Your Creation – Part I

November 14, 2016
Orit Esther Riter

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Life is intriguing and Hashem’s magnificent presence can be felt on every level; from the bird flying to the sun rising. Those who deny Hashem’s existence can use their free will to live without feeling His presence; however those who seek truth and use their intellectual honesty will undoubtedly find Him.

When the Russians sent man to space he professed that he did not ‘find’ G-d; confirming the belief there is no creator. When the Americans sent Apollo 8 the astronauts were in awe over what they saw and quote what they said, “In the beginning G-d created…” The stark difference in their observation was due to one awaiting the chance to confirm their suspicion of there being no G-d and the other seeing an opportunity to recognize the hand of G-d. It all depends on one’s agenda from the get-go; wanting to see or deny.

Our soul knows what the body cannot sense – all of creation is from Hashem and designed to the ‘T’. “Ma Rabu Ma’asecha Hashem kulam b’Chochmah Asita: How abundant are Your works Hashem with wisdom You made them all” writes Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim (104:24). Dovid HaMelech reflected on life on earth and acknowledged the awesome vastness of the sea, the remarkable wisdom of the human body and the grandeur of planet earth.


Self-Worth vs. Arrogance

November 9, 2016
Orit Esther Riter
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A common misconception is that self-esteem equals arrogance. Nothing could be further from the truth. A healthy dose of self-esteem is borne out of the understanding that each Jewish person possesses unique value and G-duly character traits. This understanding enables us to serve Hashem with a full heart and to spiritually grow.

The key to healthy self-confidence is to appreciate that we all harbor a G-dly spark within us. This knowledge enables us to appreciate one’s worth and stay focused on one’s capabilities, while always remembering that Hashem created us as imperfect beings on a journey towards excellence. Self-esteem is based on our honest assessment of our current spiritual location while believing that we are capable of achieving more because of our innate, G-dly potential.

Arrogance is the false sense of being greater than other people. In contrast, self-esteem goes hand in hand with humility since with self-esteem we realize that our true worth is only from and due to our connection to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. We are humbled; knowing that all our talents, wisdom and actually every breath we take comes directly from the Source of life. This awareness instills in us the recognition that we are no better (or worse) than anyone else. Everyone is equal because we all come from the same Source.

Everything we have is a gift which can be taken away at any time. We are gifted with exactly what we need to fulfill our own unique, specific mission, to co-partner with Hashem in perfecting this world. Hashem does not make mistakes. He deliberately crafted us, instilling within us all the requirements we need in order to fulfill this unique purpose. Thus we are each different, important, special and necessary. And each one of us has the potential to be great.

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