Practical Kabbalah: The Key to Successful Relationships

Many people mistakenly think that Kabbalah is exclusively for people who are rolling their eyes and floating on clouds. Not true! As you'll see in the Kabbalah lessons we hope to present periodically, the lessons of Kabbalah are ever so practical. Since Kabbalah is essentially the Divine blueprint of creation, its wisdom exemplifies profound lessons that we can use to learn more about ourselves and how to live our lives in the best possible manner.

Today, we'll learn the concept of "light and vessel", known in Hebrew as or v'kli. To better understand this concept, we relate a story from the Gemara in Tractate Taanit. This is the key to success to establishing successful relationships, whether it's finding your soulmate or picking a best friend. We hope you enjoy it and find it both beneficial and enlightening:

The Key to Successful Relationships from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


Go for the Endorphins

Endorphin Break
We all know how to function in a favorable environment, when everything is progressing the way we want it to. Yet, few of us know how to function in a hostile climate, when nothing seems to go the way we want it to.

Why do we find ourselves so often in the hostile climate, rather than in the favorable climate?

The Creator wants us to be our best. No one ever made character, physical or spiritual growth and gains by eating chocolate ice-cream. Coping with difficulties make us great. That's why we must learn how to function when things are not going our way. These are the stress situations in life, and we all have plenty of them. So what do we do?

Many people reach for pills, liquor, tobacco or any number of other substances as stress relievers. Others check out of the painful reality and turn to social media, a movie or a TV show. None of these help us cope.

I have a better suggestion: why not try a biochemical that the body produces? It's a feel-good hormone called endorphin and it won't cost you a cent. Endorphins have three great affects:

They reduce pain;

They decrease fatigue;

They give you a positive attitude.

The above three benefits enable our brains to function much more efficiently. Once the endorphins start to flow, the stress and anxiety of a few minutes ago no longer look like the end of the world. The brain kicks into positive mode.

The double-great news is that you don't need a prescription for endorphins and they won't cost you a thing. What could be better? The Creator implanted a built-in pharmacy in our endocrine system. Endorphins are also wonderful in that they don't cause addiction or dependence.

So how do you get a good dose of endorphins? A 30-minute workout will do the trick.

"I don't have 30 minutes!" you might be saying. OK, I'll give you a big discount. Try five minutes.

Do things at your own level. Start with simply high-stepping or jogging in place, stretching and loosening up your body. It's easy. Then try pushups; after, continue with planks. Add a few body squats and finish off with some more jogging in place and stretching. Make sure you've had 5 minutes of nonstop activity. This beats a coffee break any day of the week…

This will definitely work for you too - guaranteed. Blessings for your good health, LB


Five Vital Questions to Ask Your Physician

5 Questions Physician
One of my main tasks as a health coach is to refer people to the proper medical professional to attain more specialized care for their health issue, whether it's a cardiac problem, diabetes, or any other chronic ailment. As a health coach, my job is to keep healthy people healthy, or even healthier, and to help ailing people to find the best proper treatment.

It's not enough that you find the right physician. It's imperative to ask that physician the right questions. Here are the five most vital questions one needs to ask, not only in relieving the chronic condition, but in improving overall health:

  1. Should I lose weight, maintain my weight or gain weight?
  2. What are the foods I need to eat and what must I avoid?
  3. What is the best type of exercise for me, including recommended frequency and intensity?
  4. Should I limit alcohol, caffeine, or anything else from my diet?
  5. How does stress affect my particular situation and how can I avoid it?

Any treatment or medications that ignore the vitally-needed answers to the above questions will be only partial at best in its effectiveness. Yet, by rectifying diet, exercise, weight control and stress, one will not only improve his or her quality of life but in many cases, overcome the health challenge altogether.

What's more, don't ever forget Who the real Healer is. Prayer, charity and good deeds always help. G-d willing, we hope to do a separate post soon in the vital questions to ask your rabbi or spiritual guide in coping with any health ailment.

At any rate, when choosing the right physician, keep in mind that if he or she does not exercise or lives an unhealthy lifestyle, they in all likelihood won't be able to help you live a healthy lifestyle. Health professionals should be role models and should be living a healthy lifestyle. If they don't, proceed with caution.

One important note - before a fast day like Tisha B'Av or Yom Kippur, if you have a health issue, consult your physician - then your rabbi - before you fast. Meanwhile, have a wonderful Shabbat and a meaningful and easy Tisha B'Av fast. Every blessing, LB


Tips for a Safe and Healthy Fast Day

Bayit Shlishi 6.8.19

Above image - dreaming of the Holy Temple, which we all lament for on the fast day of Tisha B'Av

This year, Tisha B'Av - the day of the worst calamities that befell the Jewish people - falls on sundown, August 10, and continues until the stars appear on Sunday evening, August 11, 2019.

Since this is a fast day during the year's warmest weather, it's a challenge. A person could be especially susceptible to headaches, extreme weakness, dehydration and hypoglycemia, when blood-sugar levels fall dangerously low. With a few precautions and proper preparation for the fast, the dangers can be avoided and the fast can actually be safe and healthy.

Before the fast:

  1. Beginning with Friday morning, 36 hours before the fast, try drinking a glass of water every hour.
  2. On Thursday night and Friday, eat salty foods (this is no mistake!) such as pickles, olives and goat cheese. These are all the foods that people with edema avoid, for they help retain fluid and therefore prevent dehydration. To avoid thirst, stop eating these foods on the day that the fast begins, namely all day Shabbat (Saturday).
  3. Avoid sugary and starchy foods this Shabbat, for they have a high glycemic index (GI) and therefore cause a deeper GI Levelsplunge in blood sugar levels shortly after eating (see adjacent graphic).
  4. Eat plenty of good quality protein - eggs, fish and high quality pasture-fed (organic, if available) beef and poultry - protein is satiating and will provide slow-release energy during the fast, since they are complex food stuffs that require longer time to digest.
  5. Stay away from coffee and caffeine for 24 hours before the beginning of the fast. Drink herb tea instead.
  6. My favorite rule of thumb is to focus on eating foods that are as unprocessed as possible, not only making the coming fast easier and healthier but promoting better blood sugar balance and better digestion, both of which lead to better weight control. 

After the fast:

Be careful, for after the fast, your blood sugar levels are at their lowest. The worst thing you can do (a cardinal nutrition sin that many congregations commit) is to dive into the coke, fruit juices and pastries the moment the fast is over. This drives blood sugar through the roof and creates a shock to the body; this could actually trigger diabetes, Heaven forbid. What's more, drastic rises and falls in blood sugar cause headaches, nausea and fatigue. In order to avoid this, takes the following precautions:

  1. Break your fast with a glass of ice-water and high-fiber foods such as celery sticks or whole grain/bran crackers.
  2. Add to the above a portion of protein, such as cottage cheese or goat cheese, which will also slow the rise of your blood sugar level.
  3. Avoid all sugary substances, soft drinks, fruit juices, cakes and pastries - these are downright dangerous at the end of a fast.
  4. Drink at least 2 glasses of water an hour for the first 4 hours after the fast. This will replenish the body's fluids and slow the increase of blood sugar levels.
  5. Don't eat a heavier meal until at least an hour after breaking your fast in the above manner; preferably, do some light exercise (like a 30-minute walk) before having a heavier meal.

Feel free to pass the above advice along to friends and family. Even better, send them this link so that they can subscribe to our weekly newsletter. We have no doubt that the above tips will not only make your fast more bearable, but safe and healthy as well! Every blessing, and may we soon see our rebuilt Holy Temple in Jerusalem, speedy and in our day, amen!


Lazer's 18 Favorite and Most-Effective Conditioning and Weight-Loss Tactics

18 Tactics 5.8
You got it! You'll never hear me speak about losing weight without getting into shape. They must be simultaneous in order to be healthy, for weight loss without conditioning is liable to be damaging, as we've written several times previously. I have found that the more my clients taste success, the more motivated they become; the more motivated they become, the more efficiently they improve their fitness, reach their weight goals and vastly improve the way they feel. Try these 18 tactics - all or a segment of them - and you'll succeed too.

  1. Eat veggies and protein for breakfast - to build muscle, you need adequate protein. Try an omelette, a chunk of baked salmon or sardines with a green salad that includes leafy veggies and celery. Whereas the cornflakes breakfast leaves you starving by 10 AM, the veggie and protein breakfast will have you satiated well past noon. What's more, good morning fuel boosts metabolism.
  2. Brush your teeth after every meal - it's great for your dental health and curbs appetite.
  3. Cut out both sugary drinks and fruit juices - they add loads of carbs and calories that are the #1 enemy to weight loss.
  4. In continuation of #3 (above), drink plenty of water; cold water especially causes your body to burn calories in order to maintain your 98.6F body temperature, so don't spare the ice.
  5. Lift heavy weights - incorporate resistance training into your workout routine; this can also be such bodyweight exercises as pushups and squats. The more you build muscle mass, the more you increase your metabolism.
  6. Move more - walk (30 min./day at least, 5 days a week) as much as you can; climb stairs rather than using the elevator (super cardio!), and carry packages home from the store. Be imaginative!
  7. Cut out all white sugar and use only natural sweeteners such as dates and unprocessed honey, sparingly as well.
  8. Substitute all white flour for whole grain flour and whole grain foods - spelt (the king!), whole wheat, oat, rye and barley.
  9. Don't purchase manufactured foods - they're full of substances that the body doesn't know how to process and digest; as a result, the inhibit weight loss.
  10. Cook and eat at home rather than eating at restaurants - you'll be improving your health and saving tons of money.
  11. Maker realistic goals that you can reach, then set the bar higher.
  12. Give yourself incentives - as you reach your interim goals, buy yourself new workout shoes, a new clothing article or a new piece of workout equipment.
  13. Get a fitness watch - such devices as the Fitbit Charge 3 (my favorite) or Inspire motivate you to walk, workout and log weight, giving you constant positive reinforcement.
  14. Track your activity - keep an exercise and weight log, and monitor your progress.
  15. Have a weekly cheat day - on Shabbat, eat what you like and enjoy, then go right back on regiment the next morning. But, don't go crazy and keep white sugar off the cheat list.
  16. Drink coffee - despite what people tell you, natural ground coffee (best to buy beans and grind your own) coffee has been shown recently to help you live longer, protect your liver, and even ward off diabetes. It also curbs appetite.
  17. Improve posture - by sitting up straight, walking and standing taller, you engage your core and burn more calories, so be conscious of your posture and don't slouch.
  18. Vary your workouts - do different types of exercise on different days, and keep yourself motivated and interested.

That's my "Chai" (18) for good health. Give it a go and let us know your progress. Feel free to send us your success stories. My blessings for your great health and warmest regards, LB


Hannah's Prayer

This is a vital message for everyone, but especially for women, telling about their two prodigious powers - faith and prayer. Despite all the righteous men in our history, we learn the proper and best way to pray from a woman - Hannah - the mother of the Prophet Samuel. This is encouraging and enlightening, especially during the Nine Days. Enjoy it and have a wonderful new month of Av and a great Shabbat and weekend...

Hannah's Prayer from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


The Precious Minute

Precious Time 31.8.19
Lives have changed in split seconds. Hundredths of seconds have separated between gold medalists and those who finished 4th and didn't even win a bronze. One heartbeat separates between life and death...

If seconds are so vital, then what can we say about the priceless irreplaceable commodity known as a minute? What's the value of a moment in life, or a life itself? Too many people take their own lives for granted...

Do you think crossing the street or arriving safely at your destination is a foregone conclusion? Not at all. In the USA during the year of 2017, 6,000 pedestrians and over 40,000 motorists and automobile passengers lost their lives in accidents.

In Israel during the same year, 84 pedestrians were killed crossing Israel's streets and another 362 travelers were killed on Israel's roads. To put these figures into proper perspective, we must first remember that each is a sacred, irreplaceable soul. Second, we must realize that these 446 fatalities were over twenty times greater than the number of fatalities that resulted from terrorist attacks against Israelis during the same year of 2017.

One minute – or even less – can save your life. Anyone who has ever been involved in a traffic accident (or in a war) knows that I'm far from exaggerating. Here's how:

Before you cross the street, even if you're at a crosswalk with a green light and you have every right of way, say a short prayer that won't take more than a few seconds: "Father in Heaven, help me get safely to the other side of the street." As we saw in the above-cited statistics, no one can take safely crossing the street for granted.

Before you put your keys in the ignition, take advantage of one precious minute that could save your life. In your own words say, "Beloved Father in Heaven, help me arrive safely at my destination. Guard me from all peril on the roads and guard my vehicle from any damage." You can't imagine how effective, time and money saving such a brief prayer can be.

Whatever you do in life, remember the power of a few moments of prayer.

If you're an athlete, before you go out on the playing field or the competition arena, ask the Creator to help you perform at your very best. You've been training so hard, for weeks and months; that one minute of personal prayer could make the difference between victory and defeat.

Business people know that clinching deals often defies logic. When you expected to make money, you lost money, and vice versa. Before you enter a negotiation, begin a transaction or start a new day of work, ask the Creator to grant you success.

If you're a teacher, ask the Almighty to put the right words in your mouth so that you'll be able to give over the subject matter to your students in the most engaging, clear and comprehensible manner. Pray for your students' success as well and wait and see how you soon become teacher of the year…

If you're a homemaker or a husband who helps with the cooking, ask the Almighty to help the food, cake, challah or whatever you're cooking or baking to come out successfully.

At this point, many people ask, "Do these mini-prayers really help?"

They sure do. We don't come uninvited to other people's homes. By the same token, the Creator doesn't come uninvited into our lives. If we think we're capable of doing anything on our own, He lets us. Then, the results aren't always favorable. On the other hand, when we seek His assistance, He smiles down and says, "Beloved son or daughter, since you are seeking My help, I'm right here with you." This is a signed check from King David, who said, "Hashem is close to all who call Him – to all who call Him in sincerity" (Psalm 145:18).

With the Almighty close to you, you'll not only cross the street safely but you'll enjoy every other blessing in life, all for the tiny price of the precious moment of personal prayer.

May you enjoy an abundance of Divine blessings for everything good always!

With deepest friendship, Lazer Brody


The Truth about Burning Fat

Fat Burning 29.7

Nowadays, more and more workouts claim to be effective at burning fat. It sounds dynamite superficially, but don't forget that the main goal of exercise is improving your overall health and helping you to feel your best. Don't be fooled, though; just because something is labeled as being a “fat burner” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to melt your schmaltz away. By the way, who says that burning fat should be your goal at all?

Let's understand what it means to the body to burn fat.  Sure, low intensity workouts - those done at below 70% of your HRMax (heart-rate maximum), burn fat rather than carbohydrates. That's why they're labelled as fat-burners. But, that's only part of the truth; yes, qualitatively, they do burn fat, but quantitatively, not that much.

Losing fat while working at low intensity levels sounds too good to be true; it is! A down home Texas wrestling coach once told me that sweat is merely fat that's crying. So, my brother and sister, if you ain't sweating', your fat ain't cryin'; in other words, it's not getting burned. Why? Higher intensity activities produce a much greater post-exercise oxygen consumption (PEOC), what trainers call an "afterburn", which can help you burn a lot of fat for a whole 48 hours after you work out. That's why I usually do either wind-sprints and/or Tabata HIIT (high intensity interval training) on Friday afternoon, so that I'll benefit from the afterburn during Shabbat when I'm consuming much more food that I do during the week (you couldn't resist Rebbetzen Yehudit Brody's cholent either).

What's this all mean? Sure, if you ride a bike or walk at normal pace for four hours, you'll burn a lot of fat. But who has that amount of time to invest in exercise, realistically? Not you and not me. That's why I recommend getting the maximum clout from your workout - more intensity in less time.

Try Tabata training - this classic interval workout has you go as hard as you can for 20 seconds, followed by a 10-second rest. Then, repeat eight times, so the entire series takes about four minutes. Do this with three different moves—like kettlebell swings, kettlebell squats and mountain climbers; with a minutes's rest between each 8-cycle Tabata, the 3-Tabata workout will take a total of 15 minutes. And, you'll earn an awesome afterburn that will continue burning fat for another 24-48 hours.

My alternatives to the Tabata routines are wind sprints and running up sand dunes. Either way, you'll sweat, especially during the summer, and your fat will melt away. Don't forget to eat responsibly (no sugar of junk food) to complement your exercise routine.

G-d willing, you'll look great this summer. Turn off the TV and get some fresh air - exercise and enjoy your summer! Every blessing, LB


Setbacks and Comebacks

Setbacks Comebacks 26.7
We hope that you won't need today's post, so don't bother reading this unless you have a painful issue in your life. Most of us do have something that doesn't tickle, to say the least...

For sure, it really hurts. Maybe you just now flunked your driving exam. Or maybe you just received a rejection letter from the school or job of your choice, or from the person you were hoping to settle down long-term with. Anyone hurts all over from a setback; that's natural and expected. Remember, we're flesh and blood. Emuna - pure and simple faith - does not mean that we fake it and deny the pain! That's lying to ourselves and lying to G-d.

So where does emuna pick us up? Emuna teaches us that despite our lack of understanding how and why, our loving Father in Heaven does everything for the best. Emuna's good news is that there's no law that one must stay down from a setback. Indeed, getting back on our feet requires far more faith and strength of character than staying on our feet without ever having been knocked down. For that reason, King Solomon, the wisest individual who ever walked the face of the earth, said, "A righteous man falls seven times, and gets up again" (Proverbs 24:16). In other words, he doesn't merit the title "righteous" until he has fallen at least seven times.

Don't let a setback get you down. You can't have a comeback until you've had the setback. Don't forget too that even the quarterback, halfback and the linebacker of the winning team are full of bruises and sore muscles.

Take five minutes and ponder the following five points – one point per minute. They'll put you back on your feet and give you the motivation and power to make your own fantastic comeback.

  1. Only doers fail. People who drive sometimes get traffic tickets. People who don't drive don't ever make wrong turns. Wouldn't it be ridiculous if an elderly person bragged that he never committed a traffic violation, if he never drove a car? The first consolation of a setback is the knowledge that you are a doer.
  2. Setbacks teach, and usually trigger a stronger second effort. Failure guards us against complacency and arrogance. When we fail, we realize that we need to improve. Oftentimes, a second effort is far superior to even a best first effort. Don't be angry with yourself; just try harder. Failure is like your soccer team losing a goal – the other team may have scored a point, but the game's not over! A setback helps us try harder and reach higher, thereby enabling us to fulfill a higher level of our potential. And, if you've failed that driving test, it simply means that with a few more lessons and additional practice, you'll be a much better driver on the road, for your own safety and for the safety of everyone else on the road.
  3. Setbacks strengthen faith. If we were constantly successful, we'd probably walk around with our noses in the air. Then, we'd be ugly, heaven forbid, because few things are uglier than arrogance. The Creator loves humility and wants us to realize that He is the source of both our setbacks and comebacks, failures and successes. He gives us a setback (yup, it's not your fault!) because He wants us to pray a lot harder and earnestly seek His assistance for our next effort. If our lives were a perfect string of successes, we'd almost certainly neglect our spiritual development.
  4. Experience is life's best teacher. The experience of a setback, especially a painful one, drives a lesson home immediately. Usually, we are slow in internalizing and implementing what we learn. After a setback, we have a golden opportunity to better ourselves immediately.
  5. Small-scale setbacks assures large-scale success. Where would an actor prefer to forget a line, in rehearsal or on stage? A failure in rehearsal often assures a better performance on stage, since the actor makes a special effort to polish the rough edges of his or her performance. Sometimes, small failures are none other than preparations for large successes. Rejections are Divine filters to keep you away from unwanted paths. Rejected? Don't be dejected. Something much better (job, soul-mate, etc.) is on the way.

Therefore:

Don't ever despair when you have a setback. Try harder, ask the Creator for help, and then be positive that you'll do much better the next time. Depression and despair stem from the dark, spiritually impure side, and prevent you from being happy. Despair perpetuates inner turmoil and creates a barrier between you and Divine light. With these five minutes of motivating ourselves, we now mobilize the strength within us to make a great comeback. It's the real deal.