middot truth rebbetzin malkah
rebbetzin malkah

rebbetzin malkah

Malkah Forbes, born in Upstate New York, studied Computer Science at SUNY Oswego (B.A.), where she met her future husband, Jason.  Soon after, they moved to the  Seattle area where her husband could pursue his career in software engineering. In tandem, Jason was studying to become a rabbi. After Jason received his smicha (rabbinic ordination) from the UMJC, both he and Malkah became leaders of their current congregation, Beit HaShofar Synagogue in SeattleWA.  Currently, Malkah is an active rebbetzin and not only teaches Hebrew, but helps to oversee and spearhead new synagogue programs.  Her latest project includes Riverton Mussar, which she and her husband co-founded in 2010.  She has been a frequent contributor of drashes for the UMJC website, served on the board of the UMJC National Sisterhood, Achot, and has been a speaker for various sessions at the UMJC International Conference.

When Malkah is not writing for Riverton Mussar, she can be found enjoying her three teenagers, her two delightful cats, working on her interior and garden redesign business, knitting, and sporting a serious game of Mah Jongg.

Thursday, 01 December 2011 15:13

worthy of honor

art-donkeyBen Zoma teaches: Who is worthy of kavod? The one who treats other human beings with kavod. As it I said: For those who honor Me, I will honor, and those who scorn Me, I will scorn. (1 Sam. 2:30) – Pirkei Avot, 4:1

Saturday, 12 November 2011 23:45

forgetful or ungrateful?

art-walkway-tilesOn his way to Yerushalayim he was passing between Shomron and the Galil.  As he came to a certain village, ten metzora'im came to greet him. They stood at a distance.  They lifted their voice and called, "Yeshua! Teacher! Be gracious to us!"  He saw them and said to them, "Go and be shown to the priests." When they went, they were purified.  When one of them saw that he was healed, he returned and praised God with a loud voice. He fell on his face at his feet and thanked him.  He was a Shomroni.  Yeshua responded and said, "Were not ten purified? Where are the other nine?  Was not anyone found that would return to give glory to God except for this one foreigner?  He said to him, "Arise and go. Your faith has saved you." -- Luke 17:11-19, DHE

Friday, 11 November 2011 13:00

and you shall bless Hashem

art-shabbat-tableAnd you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land He has given you. --Devarim 8:10, NASB

Tuesday, 08 November 2011 17:01

words of worth

art-appleHe was as careful in his speech as in his actions. It goes without saying that he refrained from whatever was prohibited by the halachah.

For this we have Rabbi Israel [Salanter's] own testimony. Upon reproving one of his disciples for his words, Rabbi Israel [Salanter] remarked: "Insofar as evil gossip (lashon hara) is concerned, you cannot tell me, 'Remove a beam from between your eyes,' and, it seems, not with respect to idle chatter either."

But even in speech that is permitted, he avoided superfluous verbiage and would weigh and count his words to make them conform to standards of propriety and refinement. One of the scholars of the generation observed on a specific occasion: "Rabbi Israel [Salanter] does not squander words. Every sound or word that issues from his mouth is first considered and reflected on. He purifies them like a silver smelter and weighs them in a chemical balance."  -- The Mussar Movement Volume 1, Part 2 page 197

Tuesday, 08 November 2011 16:53

speech that never lowers

art-corporateladderNot only was Rabbi Israel [Salanter] opposed to the performance of the finer points of mitzvot at the expense of human beings, he held that one had no right even to perform the essentials of a mitzvah or even extricate himself from grievous sin if he thereby inflicted suffering on someone else.

A question was submitted to him: Someone had sinned in secret against a friend of his by speaking evil of him. Was it permissible for this person now to go to his friend and seek forgiveness? In so doing, however, he would have to disclose what he had said to the friend he had maligned.

Rabbi Israel [Salanter] ruled, that although the questioner would absolve himself from grievous guilt by seeking his friends forgiveness, he had no right to pursue his own good by hurting his friend - enhancing his righteousness at the expense of causing distress to someone else. This is the extent to which R. Israel took the feelings of others into account, how he engaged in complicated calculations so as to avoid giving any hurt or distress to others.  -- The Mussar Movement, Volume 1, Part 2 pages 229 - 230

Wednesday, 02 November 2011 22:51

honor rising like the sun

art-tree-sunriseThe Hebrew word for honor is kavod.  When we give honor to others, we are elevating them to their right place.  When we rise for the elderly, we honor their age and wisdom.  When we honor our parents, we show that we realize their role as lifegivers in partnership with Hashem.

Wednesday, 02 November 2011 20:30

more than a cupful

art-coffeeRabbi Salanter once noticed that a fancy restaurant was charging a huge price for a cup of coffee. He approached the owner and asked why the coffee was so expensive. After all, some hot water, a few coffee beans and a spoonful of sugar could not amount to more than a few cents.

The owner replied: "It is correct that for a few cents you could have coffee in your own home. But here in the restaurant, we provide exquisite decor, soft background music, professional waiters, and the finest china to serve your cup of coffee."

Rabbi Salanter's face lit up. "Oh, thank you very much! I now understand the blessing of Shehakol -- 'All was created by His word' -- which we recite before drinking water. You see, until now, when I recited this blessing, I had in mind only that I am thanking the Creator for the water that He created. Now I understand the blessing much better. 'All' includes not merely the water, but also the fresh air that we breathe while drinking the water, the beautiful world around us, the music of the birds that entertain us and exalt our spirits, each with its different voice, the charming flowers with their splendid colors and marvelous hues, the fresh breeze -- for all this we have to thank God when drinking our water!"

Wednesday, 02 November 2011 19:51

gratitude flowering from within

The Hebrew word for gratitude is hikarat hatovHikarat hatov literally means "recognizing the good." When we look around at our circumstances and our blessings and seek reason to express our gratitude, then we are truly exemplifying the middah of gratitude.

If we look upon our blessings and regard them as things we expect to have, we are missing out on gratitude.  Nothing is guaranteed in this life.  Everything we have is a gift, and we should respond in kind.

Sensitize yourself to the blessings around you and practice this simple meditation daily:

You are alive today.  This, in and of itself, is a gift.  Breathe deeply in and out and regulate this breathing. Deep breathing brings oxygen to your brain and helps clear the mind. This is also a gift to your body.

Focus on the verse:

Hodu L'Adonai Ki Tov, Ki L'Olam Chasdo.

הוֹדוּ לַיהוָה כִּי-טוֹב:  כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ

Give thanks to Hashem for he is good and his mercy endures forever.

Tehillim 118:1

Concentrate on this verse. Consider all your blessings, from rising in the morning to eating, breathing, walking, drinking, etc...

There is nothing you have today that did not arise from the chesed of Hashem.  As you keep repeating this verse, keep counting your blessings and calling to mind all of the bounty that you have.  Do not think about what you don't have; rather,  focus on all that has been given to you.

This exercise will help you achieve mental focus, awareness of your behavior, and a moment to illustrate your necessary work with regard to gratitude. If you are easily able to recall your blessings and come before Hashem in gratitude, you can better participate in your daily walk knowing how much you have to offer and how fortunate you are.


Saturday, 29 October 2011 22:09

be proud of who you are

art-beproudBe proud of who you are. –Yogi tea bag

I know what you are thinking. I now get my wisdom off of tea bag tags. Next it’s fortune cookies for me. Well, the answer is no. But when I was contemplating on writing about one spectrum of misdirected humility, this tea bag tag screamed out at me….and right on time. Would it make you feel better if I told you that the tea bag was detox tea?

Sunday, 19 June 2011 19:54

hocus pocus or truth?

art-trickThe Torah and the teachings of the rabbis give us all the guidance we need, but to follow the path that lies before us still calls for a discerning heart. This is the ultimate instrument for recognizing what is true and for guiding our speech and actions. It’s the heart that calls you to go looking for guidance from tradition when that’s available. And it is the wise heart that will show the way in the myriad situations for which there are no black-and-white answers. -- Alan Morinis, Everyday Holiness, pg. 171

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. --Hebrews 13:18

Page 4 of 12

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