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By Rabbi Raymond Beyda

A dear friend of mine a"h used to love riddles that teach a lesson. Whenever I would see him he would stop me and say, "I have a question." That was a signal that another lesson was in the offing and my ears immediately perked up to catch the words of wisdom.

"It says: All change is bad -- therefore change! -- Can you explain that one to me please? he inquired with a knowing smile on his face.

"I don't know" -- I told him -- as I put a puzzled look on my face in order to pay him with pleasure he got from my curiosity for the thought he was about to share.

"If someone eats the same thing for breakfast every day", he began to explain, "and then he switches to something else, his digestive system will get upset by the trauma of change. Therefore", he grinned, "a person should change his or her breakfast everyday. The variety will prevent an upset stomach".

I acknowledged the wisdom of his concept, said good day and began to consider the merits of his idea.

This procedure might be beneficial to a person's physical well being but I am not too sure that it is the correct approach for one who is concerned with his or her spiritual and emotional health. In order to grow in character and in knowledge one must stick to a disciplined routine. A daily dose at specific times with a training program guided by one wiser than oneself is essential to success. Change for the sake of change will defeat the achievement of the ultimate goal.

Today, when you are planning your growth -- stop. It only takes a minute to commit a plan that is consistent. To learn Torah one must go step-by- step -- idea-by-idea -- forward to one's goal. One must progress from level to level by mastering one level of knowledge and going up to the next. Constant change yields confusion and failure. The same is true of character development. A person grows like a tree. You can't see growth in any one day but if you grow a little bit every day -- in time -- the mature individual will be easy to contrast with the immature child one once was.


If a Sephardic man-- in the twelve months of mourning for his father or mother -- is praying with a minyan that prays according to Ashkenazic liturgy, he may act as the hazan [sheliah siboor] so long as the congregation allows him to pray according to his Sephardic wording. Should the congregation insist that he pray in the manner of Ashkenazim it is better that he allow someone else to act as the hazan and lose the merit for the elevation of his parent's soul. [Source: Yalkut Yosef, Volume 1, Hilkhot Tefillah, paragraph 43]


The the laws of Tsara-at -- spiritual leprosy -- involve a spiritual malady that is manifest by a discoloration of the skin. One of the causes for this spiritual disease is speaking lashon ha-ra -- speaking negatively about another. Miriam the prophetess -- sister of Moshe and Aharon -- spoke about her holy brother and was stricken with tsara-at. Consider, points out the Rambam, that she was older than he, she was his sister, she cared for him and saved him from death in Egypt, she did not speak negatively about him -- rather she compared his prophecy to that of other prophets, and he was not offended by the comparison. Even so, she was punished with tsara-at. How careful one must be before one speaks in a way that is truly negative about another who will be hurt. [Source: Maimonides, Hilkhot Tum-at Tsara-at 16:10]

Raymond J Beyda

Text Copyright 2004 Rabbi Raymond Beyda and



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