26 May 2016, 12:01pm
Veracity Talks

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What is Tehillim (Psalms)?

“Would you like to read Tehillim?

Would you like to join our Tehillim reading group?

This woman arranged to read Tehillim while on the trip with a group of people.

We would like to read Tehillim because so and so is very sick.”

Ava often heard these questions and statements and wondered what Tehillim actually is and why people speak of it in such awe.

She then asked a religious woman from Monsey, NY.

“What is Tehillim?”

This woman answered, “It’s great to read Tehilim for women because it’s okay to be interrupted while reading it.  However, when reading a prayer then interruptions aren’t good.”  That didn’t really answer Ava’s question.

Then Ava asked a secular older man who proudly proclaimed that he grew up with a religious father, “What is Tehillim?”

This man answered, “I watched my father read Tehillim all night long praying for those who weren’t well.”  That didn’t answer Ava’s question either.

Later Ava asked a group of women where some were religious and others not so much, “What is Tehillim?”

None of them answered.  This group was online and Ava was a bit upset that no one responded.  Yet she still decided to judge them favorably.

Months passed by.  Ava continued to hear about people reading Tehillim and participating in Tehillim reading groups.  She still wondered what the point of Tehilim was and why this seemed of such importance.

Then one sunny afternoon Ava went to visit some friends.  The host, who was a middle aged man with great devotion and love towards religion and holy scriptures, zealously started to read off, “Praise worthy is the man who walked not in the counsel of the wicked, and stood not in the path of the sinful, and sat not in the session of scorners.  But his desire is in the Torah of Hashem, and in His Torah he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree deeply rooted alongside brooks of water that yields its fruit in due season and whole leaf never withers, and everything that he does will succeed.  Not so the wicked; rather they are like the chaff that the wind drives away.  Therefore the wicked shall not be vindicated in judgment, nor the sinful in the assembly of the righteous—for Hashem attends the way of the righteous, while the way of the wicked will perish.”

Ava was astounded.  She was further mesmerized by such beautiful wisdom.

“This is Tehilim?” she asked.

“Yes, it’s the first one,” answered this middle aged man.

“I never knew that Tehillim words were filled with such wisdom.  It’s essentially telling us how to believe in God, be closer to God and practice positive thinking through life’s ups and downs,” Ava thought to herself.

Ava relished in this new found information.  The next day she purchased a Tehillim book with translation and began to read one passage per day.  She filled her mind with goodness, love, productivity and focus in the direction of abundance, peace and meaning.


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What do you and your preteen/teen have in common?

After age 12, the child begins to spend more time with his friends and is now able to take the bus and walk outside on his own.  This can create some kind of distance between the child and the parent.

Here is the good news.  You as a parent and your preteen/teenage kid have a lot in common.  A lot!

What does your preteen/teen wonder about?

He or she wonders about:

  • What will I be when I grow up?
  • What kind of life will I live when I grow up?
  • Will the world ever end?
  • Will I be a successful person?

Interestingly, you also wondered similar things when you were a teen.  Today you may be wondering the same thing about your kid.

Believe that your child will be good.  Believe that all will be well with the world.  Believe that your child will grow up to be a success and that his/her life will turn out very well.

We can’t foretell the future.  But we can pray.  We can ask the greater force above us for whatever it is that we want to make happen.

Believe.  Pray. And then pray some more.

Happy Learning and Succeeding!


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This doesn’t get too many likes or shares; and that’s okay.

I’ve always loved drawing and arts and crafts.  Always.  As a kid I engaged in a lot of artistic activities.  Sewing.  Drawing.  Making things.

Then I grew up and stopped for awhile.  A long while.  Over a decade.

After realizing that it’s important to spend our free time well, I decided to make 20-30 minutes per week for drawing and painting.  I am not a professional.  I didn’t take professional classes or earn degrees in fine art.  And that’s totally cool because that’s not the point.

The point is to just do something in my free time that soothes my soul and puts it to dance.

I post my finished works on fb and share with others.  These don’t get thousands of likes on facebook and don’t sell for thousands of dollars at galleries.  And I am totally ok with that.  My goal isn’t to make money or become famous through my art work.  My goal is just to share something that I love and enjoy to do with the world.  I am also totally okay with it because when I draw or paint my heart sings.  And that’s a feeling I don’t want to give up again.  :)

Here are some pics of what I recently made:

Hearts Flowers The Home


How do you like to spend your free time?  Does your heart sing from what you do in your free time?


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Happy Learning and Succeeding!



2 strategies to promote productivity

If technology, such as computer, phone, internet and social media are the elements that kill your productivity and force you to waste your time then this is an article for you.

You will not become immediately productive after reading these two strategies.  You will become productive if you practice these strategies throughout the day, every day for the next 3-4 weeks.  This means that it will take time to train your mind to take charge and enhance productivity.

Strategy 1:

Remember that you are in charge.  Now, stay in charge.  You are in charge of your technology, your computer, your phone, your social media, your internet browsing.  You are in charge.  Before you even log in or open up that browser or tap on that app, remind yourself of the purpose.  Train yourself to keep the purpose in mind.  Fulfill the purpose and then get out.  Sometimes the purpose may be just fun entertainment.  Go for it.  Allocate set amount of time and go.  Then once the time is up, stop.  If the goal is to check something in particular, check, and then, get out.  This requires for you to keep your purpose in mind constantly and to train your mind to use technology in a way that is productive for you and only you.  Remember that with or without all this technology you can and you will live well.  Sometimes we feel that we have to see this and read this and read that and check one more and one more to know more or else will miss out and be left with nothing.  Not true.  You are good and you are wholesome.  Technology is not in charge.  Technology doesn’t determine your life or your happiness.  The greater force above us does.  Then you do.  That’s it.

Strategy 2:

Understand and acknowledge that your computer, your phone, your social media, your internet browsing can be a source of interruption.  A big interruption.  We may really just not believe that these things are a source of interruption.  We may perceive all these to be just innocent, no big deal check-ins.  NO!

Imagine you are working in your home office and your kid walks in asking for something and then something else.  That’s interruption, right?  Or if your friend/mother/mother in law calls and starts asking some stuff while you are working, that’s interruption too.  Or a chatty co-workers comes by to your desk and starts talking about her cutest children or mean husband, that’s an interruption.  Certainly, you love your kids, your friend, your mother/mother in law.  You may also love your co-worker.  However, there is time for the people you love in your life and then there is time for work.  It’s the same thing with social media and internet browsing.  Train your mind to understand that all these extra tech stuff we have now are all a source of interruption and constantly be aware of that.  Yes, you may love all these social media apps and internet browsing and they are all great.  There are times when the things that we love and can’t be without can also be a big source of interruption for us.  This understanding will help you shut down interruption when needed and sky-rocket your productivity.

Enjoy the hours of productivity about to come your way through practicing these two strategies.

Happy Learning and Succeeding!

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Get Inside Your Child’s Head

If your kid isn’t learning or putting much effort into his studies what I am about to tell you might be the reason.  Talk to your kid and get inside his head to understand what kind of stuff he or she is thinking.  Talk to your kid to learn the belief system he or she formed that is leading to such unmotivated behavior in school despite all your efforts to help the kid do well.

I had an interesting discussion with a group of middle school students between the ages of 13-14.  We started to talk about the value of education.  Some of them proclaimed that whatever they are learning in school is totally useless and has no value whatsoever.  These children formed a belief system based on the information that they totally misinterpreted or based on information that has been misrepresented to them.

What is misinterpreted because of the information that has been misrepresented?

  • My teachers, my principals are oh so educated but they make so much less money than take my uncle who is a barber. What’s the point of learning or spending my time studying when I could just grow up to be a barber and make so much money?
  • Justin Bieber never even graduated college and he already makes so much money and he is so famous; all girls are crazy for him.
  • Bill Gates makes so much money and he dropped out of college. Mark Zuckerberger dropped out of college.  They are now billionaires.  What’s the point?
  • My two siblings graduated college and can’t find a job. No company is hiring them.  They told me that all the time they spent going to college was a waste.
  • I want to be a singer when I grow up or I want to be a musician when I grow up. Why do I need to study Shakespeare or know all these vocabulary words for that?

These thoughts are what may be stopping your kid from excelling in school despite the fact that he or she may be very capable.

Why is the information being misinterpreted and misrepresented?

Simply because we may only point out the successful individuals of a particular field and glamorous side of things or people.  We don’t take the time to analyze or examine the whole picture.  When we teach ourselves to delve deeper to see the whole picture, only then we will be able to eliminate misinterpretation.  To be able to delve deeper to see the whole picture requires education and the skills we learn through being educated.

My response to each bullet point that these young adults made:

  • Yes, there are barbers that can make an annual salary of over 100k. Yes, many of them can earn this money in cash.  Usually the barbers who make a comfortable living and don’t live paycheck to paycheck are those who own a busy barber shop or hair salon business.  Being a barber is not such a glamorous job.  One is to stand on his feet all day and do the same kind of work over and over again.  This can be very boring or monotonous.  Money isn’t all there is to life.  Money is important for sure.  Money is a tool to get us what we want and need.  And there are many other things in life that don’t involve money.  These include a need for meaning, love, spirituality and so on.


  • Good for Justin Bieber. Not everyone will be a Justin Bieber.  The life of those like Bieber isn’t as glamorous as it may seem.  Learn to read and see the whole picture of one’s life, not just the glamorous parts.  Then ask yourself, is this for me?  Do I really want this?  Again, not everyone will become a Justin Bieber and no, not everyone needs to be or really wants to be a Justin Bieber.


  • Not everyone becomes a Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. Even though Zuckerberg and Gates dropped out of college they were and are very well educated individuals.  Bill Gates practiced his computer skills since he was in middle school.  He comes from an upper middle class family where both parents were educated professionals, a lawyer and a teacher.  Bill Gates actually did really well in school and excelled in math and English.  He scored a 1590 out of 1600 on his SATs.  He went to Harvard and as better opportunities came into his life, he left his college education.  The same applies to Mark Zuckerberg.  He also comes from a well educated family.  His father is a dentist and mother is a psychiatrist.  When Mark showed interest in computers his parents hired him a private tutor and he took classes at Mercy College.  He did very well in school and excelled in literature.  Before he went to Harvard, he was already creating some software programs.  Then while at Harvard, as he developed what was soon going to be Facebook he left because at that point, he had a better opportunity than what his school had to offer.  (biography.com)


Note that both of these billionaires did very well in school throughout their life as young adults.  They also worked pretty hard on developing their interests and talents.  They didn’t just wonder around aimlessly proclaiming that all this school work is a waste and then magically become billionaires.


  • As far as the siblings that can’t find jobs after graduating, it happens. We go to school to eventually land a job but not everything happens right away just like we planned.  There may be certain roadblocks in the way.  We have to get past those.  We need to educate ourselves a bit more.  We need to do something else first.  Getting a job may take time.  Also, we don’t know the whole story.  We have to find more information than just that they got a diploma and now there is no work.  College degree doesn’t guarantee anything.  It simply increases the chances of success.

You can choose whatever profession that you want when you grow up.  Doing well in school will not stand in the way of your desired profession.  Imagine if I told you that there is this special fruit that you can eat.  If you eat it every day there is a very good chance that you will live a healthy and strong life.  There are no negative side effects from this fruit.  It can never hurt you or damage your health in any way.  It can only help you.  Would you eat that fruit?  I would.  That is education.  Doing well in school and getting a high school diploma and a college degree only strengthens us.  It doesn’t damage us in any way.

Now, quit justifying your laziness and get to work.  Go study!  Go learn!

Happy learning and succeeding!


What you really mean when you ask, “Is it hard?”

This sort of question comes up a lot.  I hear it often as a teacher of high school students.

If person X shares something he did with person Y and person Y is amazed at the accomplishment of person X, person Y may ask, “Is it hard?”

Imagine on career day in your school a person with a highly successful job comes to talk to you and you ask him/her, “Was it hard to go to college and get the job you have or do the job you have?”

So what are we really feeling and thinking when we ask such question?

  1. “Wow! That looks really complicated.  Could I actually do that too?  I wonder how hard this really was.”
  2. “Wow! That seems so out of my reach.  But this person is doing it.  I wonder if this is really hard or maybe not so much.”
  3. “Wow! That seems like something I’d want for myself too, but boy, I wonder if I too, could actually make that happen. Although I am really not sure.  I am so scared.”

But why can’t you or I do something that’s hard?  Aren’t all things doable in small steps?

Next time you hear yourself asking this question, evaluate what it is that’s really scaring you.

Or what is really making you think that this is out of your reach, complicated and or scary.

The truth is whether something is hard or easy, is relative.  It depends on each individual and can’t be measured with precise science.

Welcome fear but then bid it farewell.  And proceed to focus on making your dreams and goals a reality, step by step, day by day.

Happy Learning and succeeding!

6 Important Lessons from the Purim Story

The Purim story has 6 good lessons to teach us on personal development and success inducing behaviors.  To learn more about the story of Purim go to Aish.com or watch videos on YouTube, through aish.com as well.  (Purim is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the salvation of the Jewish nation).

The Lessons:

  1. Do you do what is right or what others want you to do? Mordechai, one of the main characters of the Purim story was asked to bow down to the evil character Haman.  Mordechai did what is right according to his beliefs and values.  He didn’t bow down even if Haman wanted him to do so.  Often in life we are pushed by our friends or family members to do what makes them happy but may not be what is right.  It is up to us to make the choice.  To do what is right.
  2. Your level of determination makes a difference in your destiny. Throughout history there have always been nations that wanted to get rid of the Jews, physically or spiritually.  Why are the Jews still here?  It is because of their determination to survive and stick to the Torah and their beliefs.  No matter how hard or impossible or dangerous the political situations would get, the determination to stick to the Torah never faded.  How determined are you to do good or to reach for your goals?
  3. Pushing yourself to go against your comfort zone or even placing yourself in a dangerous situation to do what’s right. Esther, the heroine of the story, was terrified to face the king.  However, with the help of the one who advised her and guided her, she pushed herself despite her fear for the sake of saving her people.  It’s okay to listen to those who are older, more experienced and to push ourselves to do what’s right or what will help make this world a better place.
  4. An act of kindness goes a long way as long as saving a nation. Mordechai, did an act of kindness for the king.  This helped save him and his people.
  5. When you hurt others you are only hurting yourself. There are times when we feel tempted to take revenge and insult or hurt others physically or verbally.  Either way, when we hurt others, we are only hurting ourselves.  Nobody wins.  Spend your time and energy on doing good instead.  Haman attempted to hurt Mordechai.  At the end of the story Haman is the one who is hurt along with his sons.
  6. Have faith. We can spend a lot of time worrying about what awaits us in the future.  The future is uncertain and that’s okay.  Having faith in the higher being and that the higher being will take good care of us, brings inner peace and reduces worry.  Have faith and all will be well.

Which of these lessons resonate most with you?  Which of these lessons do you want to take on and start applying to your life?

So you want you or your kid to develop a habit of learning and reading?

Learning-teachingHow do you develop a habit of learning and reading?

First and foremost there has to be motivation, desire.  Now if there is no desire or motivation how can you develop it or bring it about?  Change perspective.  See learning and reading as the most amazing and awesome thing to do.  Love it up.  Love reading and love learning.  Build a positive relationship with reading and learning.  Make learning your good friend.  Your sweetest and most wanted friend.  The, “I can’t live without you,” friend.  Speak nicely of “learning and reading.”

Here is one truth about learning.  And then here is another.

Once the motivation and desire are in place, here is a literacy and learning strategy that is basic, simple and most effective.

Reading & Learning Strategy

The strategy is simple and basic and most effective in teaching your child to become a lifetime, independent learner.  Using these strategies will allow your child to learn anything and everything he or she wishes to learn on his or her own, with limited help from other professionals.

  • Read before you read-observe, analyze and question.
  • Read while you read—think, question, clarify, connect, learn
  • Read after you read—search for answers to questions asked, inquire, reach out.
  • Making use of resources available to us all. Resources such as virtual and physical libraries, inquiries, and discussions with people of various backgrounds, professions and lifestyles.

If you wish to have a one time 1-2 hour session on having me teach you or your child these strategies, so that your child will become a lifetime learner and reader, I will be happy to help.  The investment is $100. 

If you wish to have a 12 hour session over a 6 week period on having me teach you or your child these strategies so that you or your child will become a lifetime learner and reader, I will be happy to help.  Why 6 weeks?  Because that’s the time it takes to build or develop a habit.  Investment $600.

Available to those over the age of 10 and adults.

Send me an email vera.borukhov@gmail.com or text 718-790-8911.



How do you feel about learning?

Is learning something good?

Is learning something fun?

Is learning something adults force on children?

Is learning something terrible and mean?

How you feel about learning may determine the activities you pursue. 

I shared a struggle with my mentor teacher.  I asked what to do when students get failing grades on tests.  Sometimes this happens because a child has a hard time understanding the subject, then getting a tutor who can help is the answer.  However, there are times when a child’s behavior is not the kind that produces academic success.  That’s when parents or mentorsneed to help our children establish success habits and the kind of behaviors that lead to better grades.

This mentor teacher explained that learning doesn’t only happen in the classroom with a teacher.  Long ago, the wealthy people had tutors and many not so wealthy people learned independently through books.  I thought of my uncle at that moment.  He was a voracious reader and much of what he knows today he learned on his own.  There are times I think about how perhaps I should have pursued psychology instead of teaching.  I am so interested in emotional intelligence and how the human mind works.  Much of what I learned related to the human mind and emotions, I learned on my own, through books and audio from experts.

Similarly, our children cannot and shouldn’t rely solely on schools and classroom teachers for education.  They can do a lot of academic learning on their own.  There are many videos and audio online.  There are many books in the library and book stores.  There are also many educational and entertaining applications or apps that can be uploaded on our smart phones and tablets.

photo (10)

Learning is good.

Learning is a gift.

Learning is greatly rewarding.

Learning and discovery are interesting and intriguing.




Once we adapt a positive attitude towards learning, we can learn and grow in all the ways we desire.  We can do it on our own and we can do it with help from others.  We will no longer have to only dream up about good grades.  We can make that dream a reality.  With the appropriate attitude anything and everything is a possibility.

What is something that you have been wanting to do or learn?  What kind of attitude adjustment may be required to make that learning happen?

How do you spend your free time?

How do you feel you deserve to spend your free time?  How have you been spending it?

Are you spending your free time doing something active or passive?

Today, for many adults and children, watching television has become an acceptable and preferred way of spending free time.  Or many of us may simply do what’s most popular at the moment.

However, is that the best way to spend our free time?

How we or our children spend free time matters.  Every person in this world is Gd’s creation and every person is here for a reason.  That reason is to be him/herself and to share his/her abilities, talents and skills with the rest of us.  How we spend our free time represents how we feel about ourselves and how well we know ourselves. 

In his book, Finding Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, notes that,

“To make the best use of free time, one needs to devote as much ingenuity and attention to it as one would to one’s job.  Active leisure that helps a person grow does not come easy.  In the past leisure was justified because it gave people an opportunity to experiment and to develop skills.  In fact, before science and the arts became professionalized, a great deal of scientific research, poetry, painting and musical composition was carried out in a person’s free time.  Gregory Mendel did his famous genetic experiments as a hobby; Benjamin franklin was led by interest, not a job description, to grind lenses and experiment with lightning rods; Emily Dickinson wrote her superb poetry to create order in her own life.  Nowadays only experts are supposed to be interested in such issues; amateurs are derided for venturing into fields reserved for the specialist.  But amateurs—those who do something because they love to do it—add enjoyment and interest to their own life, and to everybody else’s.

It is not just extraordinary individuals who are able to make creative use of leisure.  All folk art—the songs, the fabrics, the pottery and carvings, that give each culture its particular identity and renown—is the result of common people striving to express their best skill in the time left free from work and maintenance chores.  It is difficult to imagine how dull the world would be if our ancestors had used free time simply for passive entertainment, instead of finding in it an opportunity to explore beauty and knowledge.”

My mother often watched me and pointed out my interests.  She pointed out to me how good I was in learning, drawing and helping my friends with school work.  She pointed out to me how much I loved children.  I searched further within and additionally inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, to pursue activities that speak to me personally and have nothing to do with what is popular at the moment, I found that I deeply enjoy the following:

  • Drawing
  • Writing
  • Literature
  • Ancient, timeless wisdom
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Personal development
  • Working with children
  • Literacy development
  • Helping kids dramatically improve in reading and writing
  • Motivating and inspiring
  • Holidays and tradition
  • Meaningful get togethers
  • Exploring culture, history
  • Reading memoirs

As a result part of my work involves being a Literacy Specialist, Reading teacher, English teacher, confidence booster, emotional intelligence educator, writer and author.

How I spend my free time involves, learning timeless wisdom, writing, drawing, art, holiday celebration, tradition, meaningful get togethers, reading memoirs, and visiting historical places.

Today, I watch my children, the same way my mother watched me and encourage them to engage in activities where they tend to thrive the most.  (Do not misinterpret this to mean, that I sign them up to a thousand and one extracurricular activities and control their every move.  Absolutely not.  Observing carefully and motivating gently is a way to control nothing and stay focused on just a couple of things.)

But enough about me and here is a gift for you.

It’s your assignment:  

photo (8)









Take a few minutes out of your day to think about your favorite activities and what you can pursue in your free time.  If this is hard, think about your favorite activities as a kid.  If you haven’t done those stuff in a while, start doing them again.  No, it’s not time consuming.  It’s awesome and doable.

For your children, watch them, observe them, encourage them, and invite them to share what you love to do.  They will be so motivated and excited.  (A lot more excited than washing dishes, I promise.)

Why does it matter?  What difference does it make?  One thing for sure, pursuing active entertainment, doing what you truly enjoy, and not just what is popular, or passive, brings joy and meaning into your life.  It makes you feel good about yourself.  It encourages and inspires others.  It builds great self-esteem.  It helps us succeed in other areas of life, including academics!

(Side note: I am not bashing TV watching.  I do enjoy a good movie or a show.  My most recent favorite movie is Into the Woods and favorite TV show is Shark Tank.  However, TV watching has to be intentional and meaningful, not just something or the only thing to do.)