April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Learn the words in Hebrew to figure out the joke below:

Fish – דָּג

Leviathans – לִוְיָתָנִים

There is no – אֵין

Lake – אֲגָם

Worthwhile – כְּדַאי

To fish – לָדוּג

Solution: Jack asked Tzvika: “What are you fishing for, Tzvika?” Tzvika answered: “Leviathans.” Jack asked surprisingly, “Leviathans?! There are no Leviathans in this lake.” Tzvika answered, “If I am not going to catch anything in the lake anyway, at least I am going to fish for Leviathans. (If I am going to fail, at least I will fail going for something big!)”

Teacher’s Corner: One of my students was sitting in class and was not willing to take a class test. When I asked him to start the test, he said, “It doesn’t matter because I am not good at this, and I am going to fail anyway.” I replied, “Okay, so you fail. What’s wrong with failing?” My student looked up at me with a surprised look on his face, (evidently he had never heard this very obvious question before) and said that he would feel bad about himself. I asked him about how he feels about himself being afraid even to take the test in the first place? He looked down and replied, “Not good.” So I smiled and asked him, “Then, what’s the difference? You will either feel bad for not taking the test or feel bad if you don’t do well on the test. You might as well take the test because—at least—then you have a chance of passing. Maybe you will have a mazel?”

Have you learned what “mazal” stands for yet?

M=“Makom—to be in the right place.”

Z= “Zeman—at the right time.”

L= “Lashon—to have the right words.”

Mazel comes from the act of doing. Behind fear is worry about doing something wrong, looking foolish or not meeting expectations—in other words, fear of failure. Don’t let your thoughts of not being good enough control you and stop you from trying; don’t let your thoughts control you; you can control your thoughts! If you don’t like your thoughts you can decide to think about something else. You can create your own mantra and give yourself an affirmative message. You don’t create your own mazel by doing nothing. So do something! Try!

Everyone has experienced failure. The successful people are the ones who keep trying. Every successful person has many failures on their road to success. Every time a successful person fails, he learns something new. People don’t learn from their successes; they learn from their failures. The more they failed, the more they learned. Didn’t Thomas Edison say: “We did not fail 1,000 times—we learned 1,000 ways how not to make a light bulb?” Failure is just another word for “education.”

One way to manage your thoughts is to make a worry basket: Put in 10 things in your basket that make you smile! When you are feeling stressed or anxious, go to your basket and pull out items that will remind you of different happy moments. Focus your thoughts on what you do have and appreciate your blessings. If you focus on what you don’t have, you will not be able to appreciate what you do have. Your mindset and your attitude will often pre-determine the outcome. Success or failure is really in your own mind and in your thoughts. Change your attitude and failure is transformed into a learning experience!

If you fail by not trying, you don’t even get a chance to learn something new—and that would be sad because you are missing out. If you fail, you should feel good about it, because you will have learned something. Give it all you’ve got! If you’re going to fail, fail big! Don’t fail by not trying. Remember, failing does not make you a failure!

My student looked at me with a smile on his face and said that he was ready to take the test now … just so that I would stop telling him how good he would feel about himself if he failed!


For individual, family or group tutoring in Hebrew, all levels, please email [email protected]. Maya Yehezkel is a Hebrew teacher at Yeshivat Noam middle school.

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