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4 posts from June 2007

Cholent and Rifle Grease: A Shabbat with the Nachal Haredi of the IDF

Imagine a gorgeous desert sunset, a scorching hot wind turning into a cool desert breeze, and the conflicting scents of a giant cholent on a tin-covered fire and rifle grease; such is Friday afternoon with a battalion of crack religious infantrymen, the Nachal Haredi.

This past Shabbat with the Nachal Haredi infantry battalion on the Jordan border was a milestone for me, probably the most unforgettable Shabbat I ever spent. In addition to visiting the many of the units in the area before Shabbat, I had the privilege of seeing the Nachal Haredi in action, both on military duty and on spiritual duty. They excelled in both areas.

A Chassidic sect that prides itself in praying can come learn how to pray from the dedicated young men with whom I spent Shabbat. The "Kabbalat Shabbat" service was in Carlebach-style song from the beginning until the end, with fervent dancing in the middle. The soldiers savored each word of prayer as if they were counting hundred-dollar bills. I can't emphasize how moving and inspirational it was.

The original agenda dictated that I'd say three Torah lessons that Shabbat. I ended up saying eight; the soldiers wanted to hear more and more Torah. Their spiritual thirst was simply phenominal.

On Saturday night, the "Magad" (battalion commander) Lieutenant Colonel Itzik and I went for a stroll around the base perimeter. He told me that his biggest fear is not the Hizbulla, Syria, or the Hamas, but soldiers without emuna. That's why he's so intent on building a physically, professionally, and spiritually strongs Nachal Haredi battalion; his boys have the tefillin and the brass knuckles.

Thanks to the Miller family of Colorado, the Daltons of Alabama, the Lehrfelds of Georgia,  Mercey Mendez in Florida, and the Wilsons in Frisco, Texas, Emuna Outreach was able to distribute over $1800 worth of Emuna Outreach books and CDs. Lieutenant Colonel Itzik specifically sends his gratitude, for your help in strengthening the morale and emuna of these wonderful IDF soldiers is a direct contribution to Israel's security.

Here are a few photos that tell the story (taken before and after Shabbat):

Photo 1: Lazer with Nachal Haredi soldiers at a border checkpoint


Photo 2: Explaining the power of Perek Shira and Tikkun Klali to a soldier that received a copy of Yalkut Siach B'Sadeh


Photo 3: Old soldiers never die


Photo 4: Opening the hatch of an Armored Personnel Carrier


Photo 5: Soldiers of many nations run to the bars when off duty; a Nachal Haredi sergeant runs to his Gemara. Soldiers like this are Israel's best defence:


Photo 6: This is not a photo-shop prank! A chassid woth a shtreimel and white socks is really climbing out of that tank turret. Any idea who that might be??


Photo 7: Here's a closer look of photo 6:


May Hashem bless and protect our wonderful soldiers, amen.

The Sycamore, the Sagebrush, and the Snail

One of things that gives us the most satisfaction here at the Beams and at Emuna Outreach Films is being able to take our friends from around the world hand-in-hand and to show them our exquisitely holy and beautiful land, that lives and breathes with an extraordinary high-level soul of her own. Our sages compare the Land of Israel to The King's beloved daughter; the Torah says that Hashem's eyes forever gaze at Eretz Yisroel.

Today, with Hashem's ever-loving grace, we'll visit the desert and see the secret behind the amazing survival of the sycamore, the sagebrush, and the snail. As you're probably guessing, the secret of these species' survival in the desert is an important message to each and every one of us. It's also my answer to the tyrants of this generation that seek to destroy us, Heaven forbid. Enjoy and G-d bless.

Emuna Outreach reaches First Nations of Quebec and Ontario

First_nations_quebec_2 Left: 19th Century illustration of First Nation elders in Quebec

"My body is here but my spirit is always there," is one of the first phrases I've learned from the First Nations of Quebec. "First Nations" is the Canadian term for native Americans, what people commonly know as the North American Indian.

Through our dear friends, Jean-Marie and his wife Cecilia (Thunder) Rondeau, Emuna Outreach has been sending quite a few CDs to the various First Nations tribes in Quebec and Ontario, such as: Bearskin Lake First Nation, Big Trout Lake First Nation, Fort Severn First Nation, Deer Lake First Nation, and many more. This is all the merit and hard work of Jean-Marie and Cecilia, who circulated the following beautiful letter among the First Nations of Canada. This is one of the best strongest Noahide outreach letters I've ever seen:

To the First Nations of God, a message of Hope and Blessings.

Cecilia and I are a simple family very much concerned with what is happening in the world and society in general. We have a particular interest in the family unit and the difficulty we all face in the modern liberal world. Cecilia being a First Nation member of Sachigo Lake band of Ontario, as well as our five children, we have a more specific interest toward the First nations and the difficulties they face. The social problems, suicide especially, poverty, poor health care and services seems to be much worse than in society at large in Canada. At least it is so reported often in the press.

We are not preachers nor do we belong to any social group pushing some agenda. We however strongly believe that much of the problems in society in general, and this includes the First Nations, are due to our relations or lack of proper relations with the Almighty God Himself. There are hundreds if not thousands of religions or sects that strive to change this problem for the better. To no avail it seems. First Nations know this better than the rest of the world for they serve this system well and see the effects better than the rest of us. They live it daily!

In our reflections and meditation, readings and listening, it has become very clear to us that the one constant, successful constant, of a people, religion and God, Our Father in Heaven, over the last 3000 years, is the Jewish Nation and their relations with the Ultimate Spirit, The God of the ages, The creator Himself. The Kechee Manitou as First Nations People call Him. In other words, NO MESSENGER, no matter how important he may be, can replace the Creator God. Yet humanity continue in its vanity blindly. The successes of the Jews in all phases of society proves to the whole world that they master the truth about GOD better than the world! Instead of learning from this, often the world turns against them!

In any case, Judaism per say is for the Jewish Nation, Greater Israel. The Jews have however the mandate, as per the Old Testament, to instruct the rest of us as to how we may best serve God our Father and gain the benefits attached to that in our daily lives, in our society, and in our communities. We are supposed to be taught by them about the seven commandements of Noah! Few do it.

With this in mind, with a view to provide for you and your communities, we sought to acquire tools that you and your people may use, by your community radios or community meeting, or speeches to your people, and we are sending these free of charge to you in the forms of CDs (and a few books) from a Rabbi Lazer Brody from Israel. We have no doubt that it is God’s will that you take the time to listen to those CDs for you will be pleasently surprise by the lessons being taught, in simple every day English by Rabbi Lazer Brody.

Rabbi Lazer Brody’s CDs are destined primarly for his Jewish audiences, but the lessons are truly valid for all of us. He is much concerned with family problems, substance addiction, suicide and so on.

We suggest that you visit his site on the internet, it is call Lazer Beams…Lazer Brody.

If you are interested to know more from his teachings, you can order CDs and books directly from him. His principle teaching is that everything comes from God, good and the lessons for wrongs that we experience and that we must live it.

Rabbi Brody uses the term “Hashem” which means The Name when referring to Almighty by respect for the name of God and so that no names of God may be used for swearing for example.

As for the seven laws of Noah they are:

1: Belief in God (do not worship idols).

2: Respect God and praise Him.

3: Respect human life.(do not murder).

4: Respect the family.(Do not commit immoral sexual acts)

5: Respect for other’s rights and property.

6: Creation of a judicial system. (Pursue justice)

7: Respect all creatures. (Don’t be cruel to animals)

May God bless you and all First Nations. Respectfully, Jean-Marie (John) and Cecilia (Thunder) Rondeau, Cantley, Quebec