HECKER CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT SERIES: #11 PRESERVING THE PEACE

Harvey S. Hecker Character Development Series: Our words are a powerful force to build – and destroy.

#11 Preserving the Peace
Originally published by Rabbi Shraga Simmons on aish.com

In our “rights-based” culture of personal entitlement, we vigilantly protect our share of wealth, power, honor and fame. Anyone infringing on what we justly deserve is met with indignant protest.

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HECKER CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT SERIES: MIDOT SERIES #10: COMPASSION

Harvey S. Hecker Character Development Series: Our words are a powerful force to build – and destroy.

Midot Series #10: Compassion
Originally published by Rabbi Shraga Simmons on aish.com

The world needs compassion. Compassion for the less fortunate, relief to poverty-stricken areas, protesting injustice, listening to a friend in need, and myriad other ways to infuse life with the expansive spirit of caring for others.

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Hecker Character Development Series: #9 Envy: The Path to Self-Defeat

Harvey S. Hecker Character Development Series: Our words are a powerful force to build – and destroy.

#9 Envy: The Path to Self-Defeat
Originally published by Rabbi Shraga Simmons on aish.com

In our age of uber-wealth, many pine to join the “one percent club” with its promise of travel, glamour, exciting relationships, and bulging bank accounts. Social media promotes this envy with curated posts that proclaim: “Look at me! Here I am with playoff tickets! Now I’m flying to an exotic vacation – business class! And here I am winning an award. Look how wonderful my life is! Don’t you wish you were me?”

Jealousy exists when we see someone achieving more than us, and our soul realizes it’s not fulfilling its potential. Rather than accepting responsibility to improve oneself, we seek to eliminate the “source” of our discontent by putting others down and denying their success.

Jealousy is at the root of all human conflict. History’s first murder revolves around envy: When Abel’s offering was accepted, Cain became resentful.1 When Joseph got special treatment, the brothers became jealous and sought to eliminate him.2

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Hecker Character Development Series: #8 Guard Your Eyes

Harvey S. Hecker Character Development Series: Our words are a powerful force to build – and destroy.

#8: Guard Your Eyes
Originally published by Rabbi Shraga Simmons on aish.com

In the world of sensory stimulation – sounds, smells and images – eyes are our primary interface with the world. Eyesight accounts for 80% of what we learn and 80% of our memories.

We need to choose our images wisely, as the Torah exhorts: “Don’t stray after your heart and eyes” (Numbers 15:39).1 We see a bright, attractive image and may be tempted – “misled by our eyes” – to choose a fleeting pleasure. In the Garden of Eden, Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge because “she saw it was good.”2

Society places heavy emphasis on the visual. “If it looks good, it must be good.” Everything from advertising to the experience of eating is enhanced by visual elements of color and design. Precisely because the sensory pull is so strong and pervasive, it is a constant challenge to stay the proper course. Especially in today’s saturated media environment, where it’s nearly impossible to steer clear of provocative images, we have endless opportunities to work hard at guarding our eyes – one of the Six Constant Mitzvot.

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Hecker Character Development Series: #7 Ethical Speech

Harvey S. Hecker Character Development Series: Our words are a powerful force to build – and destroy.

#7: Ethical Speech
Originally published by Rabbi Shraga Simmons on aish.com

At mankind’s birth on Rosh Hashanah 5777 years ago, God blew into Adam a “living soul” – defined as the power of speech.1 Ergo, verbal communication is our highest creative power, what distinguishes man from beast. With proper use of speech, we tap into our greatest potential; its misuse is a grave offense. “Whoever desires life,” King David advised, “should guard his tongue.”2

Words are our primary vehicle for expression, the bridge between ethereal thought and the tangible projection of self onto reality. Language enables us to share perspectives and learn from one another, fueling our quest for wisdom.

Speech is at the core of humanity. Our world was created with 10 utterances3 (“God said: “Let there be light”),4 and God transmitted the code of ethics at Sinai by speaking the Ten Commandments.5 In defining the differences between wise and foolish, the Talmud relates solely to the use of speech.6

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HECKER CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT SERIES: #6 PATIENCE, OR HOW TO OVERCOME ROAD RAGE

Harvey S. Hecker Character Development Series: Our words are a powerful force to build – and destroy.

#6: Patience, or How to Overcome Road Rage
Originally published by Rabbi Shraga Simmons on aish.com

You’re driving to an important meeting but traffic refuses to cooperate and you hit gridlock. “Who are all these people messing up my life?” you shout, infuriated. “Get off the road! NOW!”

From a Jewish perspective, traffic is not a meaningless nuisance, but rather a tool for developing patience. It’s a sign to calm down get out of the anxiety-ridden state of “I must get to the meeting!” Stop. Breathe. Focus on the moment. And say the word “patience” – slowly, and with patience.

The Hebrew word for “patience” – savlanut – refers to the capacity to endure difficulty or inconvenience without complaint.

We’d like to believe that life will unfold in the way we imagine. When reality proves different, it signals our loss of control.

We can get stressed out, lose patience and next thing you know – boom – we’re laying on the horn and pounding the dashboard.

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HECKER CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT SERIES: #5 INTEGRITY: WILL THE REAL YOU PLEASE STAND UP

Harvey S. Hecker Character Development Series: Our words are a powerful force to build – and destroy.

#5: Integrity: Will the Real You Please Stand Up
Originally published by Rabbi Shraga Simmons on aish.com

Integrity: It’s measured by those moments when, all alone, we confront a choice between right and wrong.

It’s the moment when the allure of comfort, wealth, popularity… collides with the unethical.

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HECKER CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT SERIES: #4 GRATITUDE

Harvey S. Hecker Character Development Series: Our words are a powerful force to build – and destroy.

#4 Gratitude
Originally published by Rabbi Shraga Simmons on aish.com

“You don’t appreciate everything I do for you!”

Lack of gratitude. We’ve all heard this complaint from a parent, spouse, or co-worker. What’s at the root of this problem, and how can we correct it? Why do we so often resist acknowledging the debt of gratitude?

We have a fierce desire for independence. Acknowledging a gift makes us feel indebted – i.e. dependent. So we prefer to “deny” the good that’s been done.

This comes at a costly price. While the act of giving forges a two-way connection, failure to acknowledge a gift breaks that connection. This can leave our emotional ecosystem strained and imbalanced, breeding resentment and unhealthy powerplays.

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HECKER CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT SERIES: #3 DISCIPLINE: THE POWER OF RESTRAINT

Harvey S. Hecker Character Development Series: Our words are a powerful force to build – and destroy.

#3 Discipline: The Power of Restraint
Originally published by Rabbi Shraga Simmons on aish.com

The famous “Marshmallow Test” presented children with the choice of receiving either one marshmallow now, or waiting 15 minutes to receive two marshmallows. Long-term follow-up studies showed that children who patiently waited for the second marshmallow went on to have more successful marriages, careers, and lives in general.

“Discipline” (Gevurah in Hebrew) is crucial because it lies at the intersection of the human dichotomy: physical body and spiritual soul. The body seeks comfort and immediate gratification: food, sleep, wealth. The spirit yearns for intangible, eternal pleasures: meaning, love, unity, charity, immortality.

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HECKER CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT SERIES: #2 LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF

Harvey S. Hecker Character Development Series: Our words are a powerful force to build – and destroy.

#2 Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
Originally published by Rabbi Shraga Simmons on aish.com

“Love your neighbor as yourself – I am God.” (Leviticus 19:18)

“Love your neighbor” is the universal Golden Rule, which the Talmud defines as a “great principle” of Judaism. 1 How we treat others is a litmus test of our spiritual health. Since God is the ultimate “giver,” 2our pursuit of Godliness is driven by acts of giving. 3

When I give, I become more embracing and inclusive of the world. I expand my “personal investment portfolio” of the people I’ve helped. Seeing that bit of self in another attaches me emotionally and endears me to them. In this way, the giving actually leads to love. 4

This is the Kindness Paradox: the biggest beneficiary of kindness is the one performing it. (That’s why parents love their children most of all; it is their greatest investment.) Significantly, the Hebrew word for “give” – hav – is the etymological root of ahava, meaning “love.” 5

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