New Book Highlights “The Shmuz” on Life


rabbi-shafierIt was about six years ago that Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier, better known as The Shmuz, a musmach of the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva in Kew Gardens Queens was asked by his Rosh Hayeshiva – Rav Henoch Lebowitz, zt”l to create a program geared primarily to the needs of working people. Many were graduates of yeshivos and Bais Yaakov schools. Yet after going into the work force, there was that nagging question – “Where do I fit in?”

To answer this serious need, Rabbi Shafier created Tiferes Bnei Torah (TBT) which currently has three active branches in Brooklyn, Queens and Monsey, in which a young working Bnei Torah could find a place that he could learn comfortably.

Special Shmuz Website

For those unable to benefit directly from Rabbi Shafier’s TBT Program, the distribution of his inspiring audio CD tapes on his website or on Kol Halashon (646) 977-7900 (then press 1,4,1) has made it possible for the message of The Shmuz to be heard every week by tens of thousands of Yidden of all ages from around the world desperate from contemporary guidance in finding the meaning to life.

In response to the growing enthusiasm of those who read and listen to the weekly doses of wisdom by The Shmuz, Rabbi Shafier has just come out with his second book that is distributed by Feldheim Publishers and which is titled “The Shmuz on Life: Stop Surviving – Start Living.”

This book is based on edited transcriptions of portions of some of The Shmuz’s audio tapes. When looking at the Table of Contents, the reader is told specifically the numbers of past tapes of The Shmuz that one can access to gain more insights into the topics mentioned in the new book itself.

Basically one of the themes that comes out in Rabbi Shafier’s book is that pretty much everything is determined on Rosh Hashanah with regards to how much money one will make or whether or not one will even live out the year. Nevertheless, The Shmuz says we are obligated to do our hishtadlus in trying to make things in our life work. Knowing that our success is not in our hands but determined by Hashem can give us peace of mind to deal with what the cards of life that we are dealt. 

The Princess and The Peasant

In the chapter titled “The Princess and the Peasant,” The Shmuz quotes from the classic mussar (ethical) book “Mesillas Yesharim” that every person has a tough balancing act between the Princess who gets lost from the palace of her Father the King (symbolized by Hashem) and the Peasant who represents man’s desires for the temporary physical pleasures of this life.

For a Jew, to surrender to the whims of the Peasant is hopeless, because that Princess aspect of our existence recalls that more refined spiritual elements that are important and which cannot ever allow us to be totally satisfied if they are ignored. What we have to do is balance these two demands and this can only be done successfully if we follow the Torah’s guidelines.

Everything is Wonderful

Rabbi Shafier’s message is that when one “meets the needs of both [the Princess and the Peasant], he achieves a state of balance and harmony. He is at peace with himself. When that comes about, everything is beautiful. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and everything is wonderful. It may be raining outside, and you can’t pay your mortgage, but it is okay, because things have meaning. You understand life. You understand what you are doing here. And you experience true joy and fulfillment. You are happy.

“The purpose of life isn’t happiness, and the Torah isn’t merely, a “self-happy happiness guide.” But a direct outcome of leading a Torah lifestyle is that you will be happy. The Torah is the guidebook to living a successful life.

Written by the Only One

“It is written by the only One who truly understands man – his Creator. When a person follows its ways, he is at peace with himself. Both the peasant and the princess have their needs met, and the person is in sync with himself… Hashem wants us to be happy. Hashem created everything to give of His good to us. Even though the purpose of life is our station in the World to Come, Hashem wants us to be happy in this world as well. For that reason, He created so many amenities strictly for us to enjoy. But to enjoy them, a person must learn to use this world properly.

“When a man follows the Torah’s path, he grows, he accomplishes, and he achieves his purpose in Creation – and he is happy. In that state, he can enjoy all of the beauty of this world.

There is a Tomorrow

“It doesn’t distract him; it is a tool that he uses to further serve his Creator and enhance his growth. The challenge of life is not to get lost, not to get so caught up on the here and now that we forget that there is a tomorrow.”

Two years ago Rabbi Shafier published his first book explaining The Shmuz’s unique take on life based on the various parshas that we read weekly in shul on Shabbos – “The Shmuz on the Parsha: Life Transforming Insights on the Weekly Torah Reading.” 

A Diamond with a Flaw

Each chapter or parsha is adapted from one of the now classic tapes of The Shmuz. His chapter on Parsha Tetzaveh is titled “A Diamond with a Flaw.” Rabbi Shafier mentions the clothing to be made for the kohanim (priests) including the ephod the piece of clothing similar to an apron with two shoulder straps on top holding the avnei shoham, precious stones, encased in gold. Hashem told Moshe to engrave the names of the 12 shevatim (tribes) onto these precious stones as a remembrance of each of the holy tribes.

The question posed by The Shmuz is “We know that the shevatim sinned. They sold their brother [Yosef HaTzadik]. Wouldn’t we then assume that their names should not be mentioned on the clothing that the Kohain Gadol wore? Doing so would bring up the memory of what they did.”

Seeing Only the Beauty of the Stone

Yet, the answer, Rabbi Shafier writes is that “their sin was part of them. But like a flaw in a precious diamond, it was but one part of a great entity. When we look at a diamond, its flaws are present, but our eyes only see the beauty of the stone.”

Furthermore, The Shmuz concludes: “It is very unlikely that I will go about life without sinning. That doesn’t make me worthless. It makes me a diamond with a flaw. I must recognize my value while still understanding that at the same time, I have flaws.”

Readers interested in purchasing “The Shmuz on Life: Stop Surviving – Start Living” and or “The Shmuz on the Parsha” can call (866) 613-Torah (8672) or click Rabbi Shafier is also available for speaking engagements at your shul, yeshiva or related Torah institution. For details on scheduling The Shmuz, please call (866) 613-8672.

{Daniel Newscenter}  


  1. i read this book and i recommend it to the world…its life changing, thought provoking and gets you focused on what we really should be living for…

  2. I’ve read part of this book, and I’m gaining a great deal from it. I also enjoy listening to “The Shmuz” on my iPod (every Shmuz can be downloaded for free at – I basically switch off between Rabbi Shafier and Rav Avigdor Miller, ZT”L.

  3. theres a shiur this week in my community…

    here is the details:


    Monday Night, February 14th, 2011

    CHAZAQ Presents

    World Renowned Lecturer

    R’ Benzion Shafier from the Shmuz

    LIVE in Queens!

    “Stop Surviving… Start Living”

    Men & Women are Welcome! Admission is Free!

    Refreshments will be Served at 8:00 PM

    Lecture Scheduled for 8:30 PM

    This lecture is for the Refuah Shelema of

    Gitel Hinda bat Shifra & Chana Yaakova bat Freida

    Location: Young Israel of Hollis Hills – Windsor Park

    6745 215th Street, Bayside, NY 11364

    For More info call or text 917-617-3636

    or Email: