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February 2007
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8 posts from March 2007

A jackal, a bullfrog, and a Breslever

Here's a rare two-minute clip where you'll hear the sounds of the night by the riverbank of Nachal Lachish, east of Ashdod, one of my favorite spots for hitbodedut, or personal prayer. There's also a personal message for you, too. Special thanks to my cherished friend, Rav Yosef Karduner, for his exquisite background music.

A glimpse of Yosef Karduner

Thank you for all the wonderful feedback on the video clips of our recent talks. G-d willing, our Emuna Outreach team in Northern Israel hopes to release footage of our Hebrew shiurim, and our crew in Bet Shemesh also plans to make more English clips available. Meanwhile, here's a glimpse of Yosef Karduner when we appeared together in Bet Shemesh two weeks ago. He's singing "Ke'ayil Ta'arog" from Psalm 42. Have a wonderful week, and remember - Pesach preparations should be done with a smile on your face.

Allusions to Erez

Our wonderful Emuna-Outreach Beam Team in Bet Shemesh filmed last week's shiur (lesson) in Bet Shemesh, and are now making segments available for Beams readers. The above clip was filmed at the Carlebach Synagogue in Ramat Bet Shemesh last week. This particular 10-minute segment talks about Rebbe Nachman's illusions to Erez Levanon's untimely death.

Shuli Rand and Ushpizin


Award-winning actor and screen star Shuli Rand

Imagine that the leading stage actor in your country walks off the stage and announces that he's walking away from fame and fortune to sit on a broken bench in a run-down building that's freezing in the winter and blazing hot in the summer to learn Torah. Sound like the product of screenwriter's imagination? No - it's real - the story of my special friend Shuli Rand.

At the height of his career eleven years ago, Shuli left the screen and theater to learn Torah in Rav Shalom Arush's yeshiva in Jerusalem. He and his wife BatSheva have sacrificed what others dream of to devote their lives to Hashem.


Shuli as "Moshe" in Ushpizin, in a moving scene of hitbodedut where he's crying out to Hashem

With Rav Shalom Arush's stipulations and blessings, Shuli teamed up with director and producer Gidi Dar to produce the film "Ushpizin", a rare film that has been hailed by people of all backgrounds. Ushpizin is a unique and quite accurate glimpse of Israeli society and the Chassidic - particularly Breslev and Baal Tshuva -  community of Jerusalem. You can read a synopsis of the film here, at the official Ushpizin website.


Photo taken in Jerusalem outside the Chut Shel Chesed Yeshiva; from left, singer and actor Avraham Abutbul, Lazer, Shuli Rand

For your enjoyment here are a few select clips from Ushpizin: clip one, clip two, and clip three. Here's the trailer. Enjoy!

Don't think that Shuli is a lone wolf. When I met him last week in Jerusalem, he told me that more than twenty of his former screen and stage colleagues - Tel Aviv's best known stars - have become Baalei Tshuva (Jews returning to their roots).


Shuli enjoys a laugh with his spiritual guide and teacher, Rav Shalom Arush shlit'a

The Rands and their seven children live in the Ramot suburb of Jerusalem. We wish them limitless blessings of spiritual and material abundance, amen.

Moshiach Code

















My esteemed and cherished friend, Rav Yehoshua Sofer the Abir Aluf, showed me the above code that's now circulating all over the place. Any way you read the letters, from right to left, left to right, up to down, or down to up, you get "Nachman" or "Moshiach".

Yosef Karduner and Lazer in Bet Shemesh - a photo essay


Yosef Karduner is the pride of Breslev. Not only is he a giant of giants (for Breslev boasts some of Jewish music's greatest musicians), but he's a true chassid. I don't think that there's anywhere else on earth where one can find such top-of-the-charts talent together with humility, kedusha, and wisdom. It takes a Rebbe Nachman of Breslev to raise a Yosef Karduner.


Last Thursday night's shiur at the Carlebach shul in Bet Shemesh was a highlight. I spoke for 10-minute stints, and Yosef sang in between. His presence and his music added a wonderful uplifting dimension to the shiur.


At the end of the shiur, we sang "M'Kimi" together. Yosef is a cherished friend and brother. His music warms your soul, and brings you closer to Hashem.


With Hashem's help, we hope to receive a video of the shiur soon to share with you. Meanwhile, see and hear Yosef singing "M'Kimi" in NYC, here.

Photos courtesy of our special Beam-team commando in Bet Shemesh, Bobby Rosenberg

Rebbe Nachman's amazing allusion to the death of Erez Levanon


Section from page 53 of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev's classic work, "Likutei Moharan", first section, Discourse 38:7

200 years ago, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev told us that his fire would burn until the coming of Moshiach. He wasn't kidding...

* In Likutei Moharan, first section, Discourse 38:7, Rebbe Nachman makes several astounding allusions to the untimely death of his disciple, Erez Levanon of saintly and blessed memory. First, Rebbe Nachman quotes the Gemara from tractate Bchorot 57 that says, "Erez fell in our place"; terrorists murdered Erez in the groves right below his mountaintop home - "in our place" - in other words, he was a holy public sacrifice for all of Israel as an atonement for the nation's sins.

* Rebbe Nachman writes, "...the tzaddik is known as the Erez (Hebrew for cedar - LB) of Levanon (Heb. for Lebanon - LB).

* Rebbe Nachman mentions "Bat Ayin", the name of Erez's settlement, twice. The second time he mentions Bat Ayin, he juxtaposes it to "Arba Parshiot" - Erez was murdered during the time of year that we call "Arba Parshiot", when we read the "parshiot" of Shekalim, Zchor, Para, and Chodesh.

* Rebbe Nachman says, "The illumination of his face was revealed." Earlier today, I heard the details of the two young men who found Erez's body; their story sends chills up your spine: Sunday, February 25th after dark, when Erez didn't come home, they organized a search for him. They began searching in the orchard where Erez liked to go for hitbodedut (personal prayer). The night was cold, dark, and foggy with poor visibility; in the distance, between the trees, they saw a glow. Erez lay in a pool of his own blood; there was barely a place on his lean and holy body that wasn't pierced by terrorist daggers. Yet, his face was unscathed. Erez was lifeless, but his face glowed like that of Moses when he descended from Mount Sinai.

Moses? Erez was killed on 7 Adar, the anniversary of the death of Moses. Erez Levanon is the numerical equivalent of Moshe, Hebrew for Moses. (משה עם הכולל = 346, ארז לבנון = 346). Erez was undoubtedly a spark of Moses' soul.

Here's something even more mindboggling: Erez used to teach lessons in Likutei Moharan at Bat Ayin. The very last lesson he said in his life was - you guessed it - Likutei Moharan, first section, Discourse 38:7! 

My heart tells me that I'm not even scratching the surface. May Erez's blessed memory arouse Divine compassion for his exile-weary people, amen.