On Motza’ei Shabbos, November 5, Chazaq hosted the popular weekly program Turn Saturday Night into Motza’ei Shabbos with Dr. David J. Lieberman, well-known author and psychologist, and Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, well-known speaker and author.
Dr. Lieberman first answered the question of how to help a person feel better about himself. You have to help him realize his strengths and successes. This will also play into how he views the world. He needs to see the good things in a day. “We need to reorient their focus to what is working instead of what’s not.” Dr. Lieberman taught that this comes into play with children. If a parent right away asks a child what’s wrong, then this frames the child’s perspective to look for what went wrong. Instead, we need to help our children notice the good things that happen in a day.
He then spoke about the proper way to praise children. You need to be immediate and specific so that they will be able to receive the praise. Try to avoid general statements. Zero in on something specific that you can illuminate. For example, “Wow, you such-and-such and that shows you have patience.”
The next question was how a person can have a happy marriage when one spouse is not loving and respectful.
Dr. Lieberman said that a lot of frustration and disappointment stem from expectation. Rav Dessler taught, “When expectation begins, love departs.”
Expectation, Dr. Lieberman taught, is a function of ego. We can have wants and desires, but we can’t expect them to always be met. Otherwise, when there is a gap, then there is disappointment. He added that it’s important to recognize that sometimes a spouse isn’t meeting your expectation because of his or her limitations. We should focus on our spouse’s good points, and this way we can still enjoy a productive marriage. How someone treats his or her spouse reflects on that person’s self-esteem and his or her capability. He noted that when you are in a good mood, then you treat others well, and you have more capacity to give.
If someone hurts us, we need to depersonalize it and realize it isn’t about us. This takes away the hurt.
Next, Rabbi Goldwasser spoke about the seventh mishnah in the first perek of Pirkei Avos, where Nitai HaArbeili taught that one should distance himself from a bad neighbor. Rabbi Goldwasser elaborated: We are all influenced by our neighbors. Be careful. Don’t allow your neighbor to influence you in a negative way.
He shared that, one time, a talmid of the Gerrer Rebbe asked his advice about purchasing a certain home. The Rebbe asked him to tell him about the house and the man proceeded to describe the bricks and how it looked. The Rebbe said, “No, I want to know what your children will see when they look out the window.” The Rebbe went on to tell him that there is a hang-out near that house and it will not be a good influence. He told him that he would not buy a house on that block.
Rabbi Goldwasser emphasized that you must be careful of influences near your home or in the workplace or even in a learning institution.
Even a gift, an inanimate object, absorbs something from the giver. The power of the giver is in the present. You shouldn’t take a gift from someone evil. So, if even an inanimate object can be influenced, all the more so should we stay away from human beings who are not a good influence. “Know how to distance yourself from something evil or wrong. Distance yourself from anything that has the possibility of being a negative influence.”
He shared that even at a simchah, you need to know what will happen there. The Chofetz Chaim taught that we are not angels, and we will be hurt by negative influences.
Rabbi Goldwasser advised everyone to have a photo of a gadol in the home. It makes a big difference. Expose yourself to good places and go to tzadikim.
The Rambam teaches us to learn from positive influences in the world. Do not make a connection or a relationship with someone who is evil.
The mishnah concludes with the admonition to not despair. Don’t do a sin. Save yourself and be careful because there is a punishment. There is a judge of the world.
He added that t’shuvah and good deeds stop punishments, and a person will be guarded if he does these. We have to continue to daven and not give up and continue to have complete faith. He quoted Rav Shach: “With faith, we will all see good in our lives and in the world around us.”
By Susie Garber