INFLUENCES By Rabbi Co
18, Sept 2015
What Influences our thoughts and decisions? What or who do we allow to influence us? What criteria do we give to those people or things (books, movies, radio broadcasts, music, T.V. shows, internet etc.) to determine if they are allowed to influence us? Are we influenced without knowing or do we scrutinize the information that we allow ourselves and our families to be manipulated by or do we examine ideas that require contemplation? Do the ideas, thought process’, suggestions, beliefs, opinions, views or judgments come from sound sources and based off of the Torot? And if they are from sound sources, how is their walk? Who do we give authority to and how does it line up with the Creator of the Heavens and earth’s Word….the TaNaKh? If it is a person, do they have our best interest in mind? Do they desire our success or are they envious of it? Additionally, can we say that for ourselves, we are good judges of/for what is the best for us? Are our personal scales accurately calibrated to walk as H’Shem, the Creator of all that is, has designed and desires us to walk?
Mishle (Pr)1: 7 The fear of Y__H is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction
2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;
3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, Justice, and Judgment, and equity;
Influences have been something that I have been cognizant of and dealing with for a long time. I recall a very long time ago in Secondary School, there was a saying that I had written down in my notebook which stated:
Watch your thoughts, because they become your words. Watch your actions. They become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it paves a path to your destiny.
I had found this group of sentences on a pin in a bookstore and after reading it, it resonated within me. I wrote down the saying in my notebook. I read it often and pondered the words and meaning. I looked at who I was, what I did well and what I did not do well and where I thought I wanted to go in life. As I reflected, I felt down trodden. At the time, being in my teens, I created a lot of dissatisfaction within my extended family being a boy without an active father figure displaying a strong understanding of Torah nor masculine guidance. I spent a lot of time during those years in physical activities that required me to have satisfactory grades. Because of the tough physical activities daily, it allowed me to deal physically with some of the stressors that I was experiencing. I believe it also helped me from becoming a negative statistic, especially as I look back at some of my acquaintances and their habits at the time.
If our foundation is deep and strong (based on TaNaKH), it means that we can ascertain where we should walk and what we should do, and additionally that we will continue to choose, develop and maintain good influences in our lives. If our foundation is Y__H, the Mighty El, the G-d of Abraham, Ytsaak and Yaqub and we have a proper and sound understanding of the TaNaKh, according to the Torah and know where/how to get that understanding, then our influences by default becomes our solid walls and strong tower.
Mishle 2:11 Discretion shall preserve you, understanding shall keep you:
12 To rescue you from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaks perversities;
At the time, I did not have many friends that could relate to some of the issues plaguing me, so much of the time I turned to the TaNaKh along with reading secular books. My mother ensured that we spend a lot of time in the library. We also had a multitude of books in our home to choose from. There were a few novels and various series of story books, but a vast amount were on Caribbean history, various cultures, languages, family, animals, food, health (physical and mental) philosophy and religion.
I also played musical instruments and was marginally good, which also took up a lot of my time. Often, I would play throughout the night until early morning, to the displeasure of a few neighbors, I later learned. The balance of both sports and music in my life were great influences that allowed me to cope with some of the issues that persisted in my life at the time and opened me up to an understanding of personal strengths and weakness’.
Mishle (Pr) 18:1 A man, who has separated himself, seeks his own desire, he rejects all sound judgment. 2 A fool has no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.
Later on, I spent a lot of time in personal thought and judged things according to my own thoughts of what I felt was acceptable or not acceptable. I did not seek much advice or counsel from others and this continued for years after secondary school. This way was becoming a habit and it was putting me at odds with many. I was greatly out of touch as my counsel was from myself and my understanding of the TaNaKh (my understanding was based on my perspective).
Mishle (Pr)21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes:
I was also dealing with grief from the loss of a very close family member and a sense of isolation that the situation brought. My only comfort at the time was the TaNaKh and the belief in the Eternal Father.
Mishle 3:5 Trust in Y__H with all your heart; and lean not in your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes: fear Y__H, and depart from evil.
8 It shall be health to your body, and refreshment to your inner self.
As I look at life through my view, at my life and those around me, I can see clearly many influences around me. There seem to a higher quantity of bad influences than good influences. Our minds are constantly being told to sit and accept in a sense by the media, internet and television, along with family and friends with or without agendas and with or without knowledge, understanding and wisdom. I believe that now, more than any other time we are bombarded with more useless nonsense that trains us to not be able to think and reason, but desires the masses to accept and follow. There is a clearly a war going on for the mind of Abrahu/Yahudi/Ivri/Hebrew people and man in general. Many individuals are loosing the battles and the wars of the mind from the influences that they allow into their lives. Most of the things that these devices show seem to be catered to influences which leads to many being stuck in the mire of quicksand, unable to get out easily or by themselves. It is no wonder why many are on anti-depressant type medicines, the doctor’s offices are filled up with patients many due to prolonged bad habits. At some point, as a people we must take control of our minds and determine to be who the Creator has made us to be. To shine the Light of Torah brightly, diminishing and making the bad/negative influences of no effect.