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11 posts from November 2009

The Power of Gratitude

9863 Over the course of the past few months, Rabbi Shalom Arush and I have been speaking extensively about the power of gratitude. It may sound incredible to those who are far from emuna, but learning to say thank you to Hashem has the power of nullifying the harshest decree, even a terminal disease, Heaven forbid. You can hear all about it in our recently released CDs, Learn to Say Thank You and Stop Crying, both of which are circulating in Israel and abroad like wildfire.

Goldie from Montreal, a longtime Beams reader and friend, sent us an amazing link where clinical research proves that giving thanks promotes health and happiness. We don't need the research, because Rebbe Nachman taught us the secret of gratitude over 200 years ago. By the way, that's what Chanukah and the month of Kislev are all about - learning to say "Thank You" to Hashem. Gratitude is a virtual lifesaver.

Sonogram: Proceed with Caution

Dear Rabbi Brody,

Reading your article about ultrasounds stuck a nerve so I felt the need to share my story with you. About a year after we made Aliyah (1996) when our youngest daughter was about 6 months old, I became pregnant with what would have been our 4th child.  Into my 11th week, I was feeling weak and wanted some vitamins but didn’t want to spend too much, so I called my obstetrician for a prescription.  She wouldn’t give one without an appointment first (unlike Canada where the doctor will not see the patient until 3 months had passed). When I saw her, she said I must go for an ultrasound.  I questioned it, since there was no reason for it and had never had one with my previous, thank G-d normal pregnancies. She said I must have the ultrasound or I would not get the prescription, so I obeyed.

While having the ultrasound, I saw a baby in the screen but was told there was no heartbeat. I couldn’t believe it but the technician said there was no doubt and called in another technician to verify it. When I was leaving, she advised me to have a D & C so I wouldn’t hemorrhage and have problems later. In shock, I took the results to my doctor (a religious woman I might add) who told me to follow the advice. I was in a daze but followed the instructions, made arrangements for my family and checked into Shaare Tzedek Hospital .  During the intake process, I requested a second opinion and a second ultrasound but was refused.

As I waited for my turn in surgery for a good part of the day, I spoke with everyone about my doubts. I almost walked out, but the words ‘you could hemorrhage’ kept ringing in my ears. Two other doctors confirmed there could be no mistake but they also refused to give me a second ultrasound.  My husband would not call a Rabbi at my request to get proper advice. (I am sure this led to many of our martial problems which followed, since at the time, I blamed him for my traumatic experience). The frum woman in the bed beside me offered her husband’s assistance to ask his Rabbi, but I felt uncomfortable to involve him. She did insist that he look after the fetus when it is aborted since, from her experience, she knew that he/she needed to be buried properly. I gratefully accepted this kindness.

For all the years that followed, I was haunted by the possibility that I aborted a live fetus, a baby. Never in my lifetime would I do such a thing! Even though it was beyond my control, and I had no proof that I was right, I was full of guilt.

After all these years, as difficult as it is, I finally came to terms with it by your teachings, through the words of Rav Nachman of Breslov, of Blessed Memory, and by reading the Garden of Emuna. Regardless of whether I did the unthinkable or not, it was not in my hands but the Will of G-d.  As you have stated, nothing happens in the world without, so it must have been His will that this tender little soul was not born into this world at that time. There is really nothing more I can do but to be thankful for the experience and for all the blessings that I do have and appreciate immensely.

Thank you for being there for all of us! Tzippi from Israel

Tzippi's experience leads us to the following conclusions:

1. If you're pregnant and your doctor says you need a sonogram (ultrasound), ask him why then consult a knowledgable rabbi before you do it.

2. If the doctor says something's wrong with the fetus and wants you to abort, first consult with a knowledgable rabbi  with experience in this field.

3. As a rule of thumb, if you are feeling good, don't initiate checkups and sonograms.

4. Hashem can correct all kinds of problems in a pregnancy; the Melitzer Rebbe says that it's much better not to pry into His act of creation.

We pray that all the expectant mothers have continued healthy pregnancies and easy deliveries, amen!

Sinner Man

Periodically, Hashem gives me the gift of hosting an evening of emuna and inspiration with my cherished friend and holy brother, Shlomo Katz. In the following clip - a taste of one such evening we did recently - we tell the story of the well-known folk song, "Sinner Man, Where You Gonna Run to?" Believe it or not, the story comes right out of the Gemara, tractate Avoda Zara 17a. The "Sinner Man" was a real person, the playboy of his day by the name of Eliezer ben Dordia. The Gemara's conclusion is bittersweet - Eliezer ben Dordia made teshuva and cried his heart out to Hashem until his holy soul left his body. Enjoy the 9-minute clip:

Here's another treat: Look at a new father in seventh heaven. Shlomo Katz and his one-week old daughter, Tiferet. May Shlomo and Bina raise their lovely daughter in strength of body and spirit to Torah, Chuppa, and Maasim Tovim, amen! 


Gog & Magog - Postwar Fallout

Here’s the good news: many tzaddikim say that there won’t be any more push-button nuclear wars because the physical part of the Gog & Magog war is over.

Yet, we can’t yet celebrate: from the unfortunate experiences of nuclear explosions around the world, we've learned that post-explosion fallout is no less perilous than the explosion itself. Years after an explosion, high levels of radioactivity remain in the soil, distorting and causing sickness to flaura, fauna, and man alike.

Gog and Magog, the pograms and the Holocaust, have left a terrible aftermath. Nuclear fallout is radioactivity, which threatens bodies. Spiritual fallout is epikorsis, the denial of faith, which kills souls. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, just about 200 years ago, warned that epikorsis would be a bigger threat to the Jewish people than any physical calamity. A large number of Jews around the world - including Israelis - die spiritual deaths while falling victim to epikorsis and assimilation every day. The damage is a thousand-fold worse than the combined damages of the Intifada and world terror.

Don't despair, dear brothers and sisters: when the smoke clears from the postwar spiritual fallout, those who cling to their faith will find themselves in the Inaugural of a new and wonderful age...

Read Gog & Magog in its entirety in this weeks web edition of Breslev Israel magazine.

Our readers have written how much they love Rivka Levy's articles. She's featured this week with The Poor Me Syndrome.

Don't be Smug, warns Rabbi Shalom Arush.

Breslev Israel is honored to host Professor J. Huston McCulloch from Ohio State University who tells us all about the Ohio Hannukiah Mound, lending ever so much more credence to the theory that certain Native American tribes are in essence remnants of the Lost Tribes of Israel. My esteemed friend Sitting Owl, chief of the Tennessee Cherokee Nation, has been saying this for a long time. So have we.

With global warming, Water is ever the more precious, especially here in Israel.

The Rescue is part 5 of David the Shepherd Boy for Breslev Kids.

This week's Torah portion is Vayetze. Don't miss Rebbetzen Siegelbaum's Bridge of the Mothers.

11498 More Good News: our latest CD, Pipes of Abundance, has been released and is now available at a ridiculously low price at the Breslev Israel Online Store. This particular CD will help you beat the rap of recession and financial woes. If you haven't heard No Bad in the World and Learn to Say Thank You, pick them up too. These new Emuna CDs will add sunlight to any cloudy day.

Big Beam blessings for a beautiful week.

Obstetric sonography - friend or foe?

Four months ago, I received a frantic phone call from the ML family in Ashdod. Mrs. ML., beside herself, was sobbing so hard that she was barely comprehensible. She had waited 8 long years to be blessed with a pregnancy, which now was in the 6th month. All her girlfriends had long since become mothers several times over, and Mrs. ML yearned to have a baby of her own. A tremendous gray cloud hovered over her dream...

Speaking to me on her cell phone from the local kupat cholim, the government-subsidized medical center, she wailed, "Rabbi, I just had a sonogram (in Israel, we call it an ultrasound); the doctor says that the baby doesn't have a heatbeat! He wants me to abort right away! What do I do?"

It was the day after Tu B'Av, what secular Israel calls "Love Day." "The doctor's probably got a hangover," I told Mrs. ML; "Besides, when's the last time you felt the baby kicking?" I probed. She answered that she felt tiny feet tickling her abdominal wall a few minutes before the doctor's examination. "Yishtabach Shmo," I answered in Hebrew, praising Hashem's name, "the baby couldn't be moving and yet lacking pulse. Don't worry, with The Almighty's help, you're going to be a mother." I spent the next ten minutes calming her down, and assuring her that with The Almighty's infinite lovingkindness, everything would be OK.

A week ago, Mrs. ML gave birth to a rosy cheeked 7lb.-10 oz. baby girl. Had Mrs. ML listened to the doctor, little Chaviva, named after her great-grandmother who perished in the Nazi Holocaust, would never have been born. More bluntly, little Chaviva would have been negligently slaughtered.


Since 2005, I've had the privilege of saving over two dozen babies from the gloomy fate of misread, mistaken, and misinterpreted sonograms. During my twelve years with Rabbi Shalom Arush, I've seen my esteemed and beloved teacher and spiritual guide save hundreds of babies from a similar fate.

Wikipedia writes, "Depending on the skill of the sonographer, ultrasound may suffer from a high rate of false negatives and false positives, that means care has to be taken in interpreting the accuracy of the scan."

If a plumber misjudges the exact location of a leak in your pipe, the worst-case scenario is a bigger hole in your wall and a bigger patching job thereafter. In the case of a misjudged or misinterpreted sonogram that leads to a terminated pregnancy, there is no patch job - the damage is irreversible.

Ultrasound Magazine, a strong proponent of obstetric ultrasonogarphy, published an article entitled, "The role of ultrasound imaging in diagnosing and investigating early pregnancy failure" in their April, 2005 online issue. They conclude, "No single ultrasound measurement of the different anatomical features in the first trimester has been shown to have a high predictive value for determining early pregnancy outcome. Similarly, Doppler studies have failed to demonstrate abnormal blood flow indices in the first-trimester uteroplacental circulation of pregnancies that subsequently end in miscarriage. Ultrasound parameters combined with maternal serum hormone levels, maternal age, smoking habits, obstetric history and the occurrence of vaginal bleeding have all been combined in multivariate analyses, with mixed results." In other words, the doctors are guessing. In practical terms, if an expectant mother is in her mid thirties or older, and the doctor doesn't think that the sonogram looks perfect, he's likely to advise her to abort.


Dr. "Pesach" is assistant head of obstetric medicine at one Israel's leading hospitals. Dr. Pesach gave me an inside picture on what goes on in Obstetric Ultrasonography over here: "In Israel, the abortion laws are the most liberal anywhere. The government and the kupot cholim (medical insurance companies) prefer the relatively minor cost of an ultrasound and pregnancy termination to the tremendous expenses of treating and raising a child with a birth defect. So, any time a doctor has the slightest doubt as to the health of the fetus, he recommends termination. The non-religious comply almost always. The religious ask their rabbis - you guys know what you answer."

According to Dr. Pesach, approximately half of the 20,000-plus abortions in Israel annually are a result of what doctors consider imperfect sonograms. That means that doctors give the thumbs-down sign to more than 10,000 babies in Israel every year.

Do you know what the annual death of 10,000 babies means? Let me put things in proportion: Israeli Government statistics show that in the four-and-a-half year Entifada period between September 29, 2000 and April 1, 2005, Magen David Adom (the Israeli Red Cross) treated a treated a total of 7,253 casualties as follows: 953 killed, 596 severely injured, 881 moderately and 4,823 lightly injured, among them 11 MDA staff members. In other words, there are more victims of unfavorable and/or mistaken obstetric sonograms in Israel in one year, than all the terrorist victims and casualties of five years of active Arab terror! It turns out that the doctors are a lot more dangerous than the Fatah and the Hamas combined! Who would believe it?!?

Medical institutions have praised the sonogram as a harmless device. Studies show otherwise: After discovering that ultrasounds cause bleeding and cell mutation in laboratory animals, New Scientist magazine was quoted by Mercola in saying, "It would certainly seem prudent to avoid all routine absolutely unnecessary ultrasound scans for fetal observation. There appears to be more than enough evidence to warrant this recommendation. Pregnancy complications are another issue and one would have to weigh all the factors individually when attempting to determine the benefit/risk ratio."

Having investigated the concrete relationship between a series of dangers in ultrasound sonogramming, Dr. Joseph Mercola, renowned author of the Total Health Program writes, "It sure seems that the time for routine ultrasound examinations has come and gone." The Melitzer Rebbe agrees wholeheartedly.

Oftentimes, the mother's stress and anxiety that results from a doctor's misread sonogram damages the fetus. Stress and anxiety wreak havoc on the unborn.

Kicker This sonogram shows little Nissim S. from Jerusalem, who today is 18 months old. The doctors told Nissim's mom that she must abort, because Nissim only has half a left leg. Mrs. S. was beside herself with grief, and called Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef shlit"a. Rabbi Ovadiah gave her a promise that the baby would be born healthy, with G-d's help. And so he was! In the sonogram, you see little 13-week-old Nissim giving his mother a kick with his extended right foot. The doctor drew the hasty conclusion that the left leg was deficient and deformed.

If your doctor wants you to have a sonogram, first ask him why, and then call a competent rabbi. If the rabbi gives you the OK, then go ahead. If not, tell the doctor to have a nice day, but forego the sonogram. If a mother is healthy and happy, then she doesn't need needless probing. Sonograms add nothing to the health of your unborn child.

In all fairness, sonograms do have an important function. They help save abortions. Indeed, when women who are considering abortion see a sonogram, and the indisputable scientific evidence of live action within the womb, Shari Richard, a pioneer in helping Pregnancy Centers with sonograms says, "Sixty percent of her patients choose not to have an abortion." (Focus On The Family, January 2003, A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words).

In short, if a woman wants her baby, keep her away from sonograms. If she doesn't want her baby, send her to someone like Shari Richard for a songram.

Do babies enjoy sonograms? New Scientist magazine writes, "Ultrasound examinations during pregnancy expose the fetus to a sound as loud as that made by a subway train coming into a station." Don't expect your unborn to thank you for the "pleasure" of an ultrasound. For him or her, it's like appearing on the selection line in front of Dr. Mengele. Let's put a stop to the indiscriminate and erroneous slaughter of the innocent unborn.

Shlomo Katz becomes a father

A lucky little baby girl was born in Jerusalem yesterday morning at 8 AM, only a few short hours after her father and I appeared together in Ramat Bet Shemesh for an evening of song and inspiration. This angelically beautiful child is the firstborn of my soul-brother and cherished friend, Israel's sweet singer Shlomo Katz and his lovely wife Bina.

Bina had an amazing 4-hour natural birth that was in effect a 4-hour hitbodedut (personal prayer) session. Every time she had an excruciating contraction, she thanked Hashem. Between contractions, she asked for the courage and strength to withstand the next one, all the time asking for Hashem's help. Now you can imagine what type of heavenly people the Katz family are. 

Here's what little Baby Katz can look forward to at lullaby time:

Emuna Outreach and the Beams send a hearty Mazal Tov to Shlomo and Bina - may they raise their daughter to Torah, to chuppa, and to good deeds, here in our beloved holy Land of Israel, amen! 

Native Sounds of Heaven

Charibouse Emuna Outreach and the Beams extend our congratulations to a very special friend, esteemed elder of the Texas Cherokee Nation, Grandmother Chari White Eagle Bouse on the occasion of the release of her exquisite new album, Native Sounds of Heaven. We highly recommend Grandmother White Eagle's sweet flute strains as a soothing remedy to an aching soul. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the CD - here, at this link. It's really inexpensive and the proceeds go to buying firewood for impoverished Native Americans that are freezing in the nighttime cold of the prairie.

You can here a moving sample from the album - "Here I Am" - which with Grandmother White Eagle's kind permission, we used as background music for an ancient Hebrew meditation. Enjoy it: