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9 posts from January 2010

Recognizing a stroke: You could be the one to save a life

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells
disaster. The stroke victim could suffer brain damage during a critically short period while people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Here's good news, though: An alert bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

*Ask the individual to SMILE.

*Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

*Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently, for example, "It is sunny out today").

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 911 immediately (or in Israel, 101) and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

After discovering that a group of non-medical volunteers could identify facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, researchers urged the general public to learn the three questions. They presented their conclusions at the American Stroke Association's annual meeting last February. Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis, treatment of the stroke, prevention of brain damage, and saving of lives.

Knowledge of the easy tips in this post could help you save another person's life, maybe even a loved one. Saving a life is one of the loftiest mitzvas in the Torah; the more you pass this article on to others, the more merit in potential lifesaving you accrue. It's that simple.

Remember: A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted by a blockage or breakage of blood vessels. This may be a life threatening condition. The faster you react, the greater the chances of saving the victim's life and preventing permanent damage.

May Hashem send a speedy recovery to all the sick, amen.

The Power of Gratitude

A major point that Rabbi Shalom Arush and I stress is the power of gratitude. Teaching a child to say thank you from day one - thank you to Mommy, to Daddy, and to Hashem - is the key to raising emotionally well-adjusted, unspoiled children. The effects are profound, as we can see in a letter that we received from a young mother earlier today:

Dear Rabbi Brody,
I'm sending a note of gratitude to you and Rav Shalom Arush. We've been listening to your weekly emuna lectures for a little over a year now and have seen wonderful things in our family. Today I want to share with you one of the ways our 28 month old daughter, Avigail, has benefited.
When we heard about how important it is to teach a child from the earliest age about gratitude we started doing it. That was several months ago. We began simply with food, telling her to say "thank you mommy, thank you daddy, thank you Hashem" when we put something in front of her. She began thanking with just a small prompt after a short time. Now she thanks at least one of us without any prompting most of the time. Soon after that we taught her that anytime someone says or does something nice for you, you say "thank you." Now she thanks for most anything, from receiving a sticker at the market from the checkout lady to a compliment from a stranger on the street or whenever we change her diaper!
But today we realized she has actually begun to internalize the meaning of "thank you" - at 28 months! She received a rocking horse as a present about a month ago and enjoys riding many times a day - it's not a new toy. While she was riding her rocking horse this morning her father and I were quietly watching how happy she was on it. She stopped and said "thank you Daddy for the rocking horse." She felt gratitude amid her joy and acknowledged it. Now that is a lesson for all of us. Thank you and please let Rav Arush know how grateful we are to him for his love.
Shalom uv'racha,
P.S. I should also mention that at bedtime, when we thank Hashem together for various things throughout the day, she regularly includes the rocking horse. Perhaps she realizies that He is the Ultimate Source.

The Soft Touch

Dear Rabbi Brody,

First of all, I want to thank you for all of the advice you've been giving me during the last 8 months or so since I've been writing you. It's unreal how my life has changed for the better since I started praying with a minyan every day and going to mikva. Thanks to your CD's, my marriage is so much better too. Even though my wife cannot yet be classified as observant, she actually said yesterday that she respects the way I'm committed and that she is very happy with the positive change in me (I've been very careful not to criticize or be negative about anything).

She then floored me - she said that even though she's not willing to commit to being orthodox, she's willing to cooperate on the things that effect me, such as going to mikva, keeping a kosher house, and not cooking on Shabbat. I didn't even ask! She then told me that she listened to your Magic Mikva CD (i did just what you said - I bought it a month ago, never asked her to listen to it, and left it lying around in an obvious place. Her curiousity got the best of her, so she listened to it. The results are just like you said they'd be!).

I just want to tell your readers to be careful of being Crusader BT's - that only destroys families. Rabbi Brody, your soft touch of outreach requires a lot of time and patience, and it doesn't seem to work on the short term. To make things worse, there are people in our local Orthodox shul that make you feel like trash if you're not on their level of observance (one person, a member of the shul board, said to me that I'm not allowed to live with my wife if she doesn't go to mikva. Thank G-d I listened to you and not to him). I know you probably have plenty of readers like me - warn them not to listen to advice-givers who don't take the responsibility for the advice they give and that don't understand the special needs of BTs.

Have a safe trip to the UK, and thanks for all you do. Randy from the Baltimore area


Just to make sure that no one gets the wrong impression from Randy's letter, I want to stress that I don't compromise on the slightest custom in Orthodox Judaism, much less on a rabbinical ordinance or Torah commandment. Yet, the rules for BTs ("Baalei Tshuva", newly observant Jews) are totally different. Randy and his wife were not religious when they got married. Hashem doesn't expect Randy's wife to fall into step because Randy says so. In such cases, Rav Shalom Arush and I encourage the BT partner to be a model and loving mate that is kind, considerate, attentive, and gradual. Outreach begins at home; Hashem receives enormous gratification when the BT takes things slowly, on a hand-in-hand basis with his or her spouse.

When in doubt about a religious law, always ask your local reputable rabbinical authority.

Baba Sali

Baba Sali
Baba Sali's holy gravesite in the Southern Israel town of Netivot 

Today, 4 Shevat, marks 26 years since the great tzaddik of our time, The "Baba Sali" (Rabbi Yisrael ben Masoud Abu Chatzera) left the material world.

The Baba Sali was revered by everyone. Israel's leading rabbis of two generations ago, including Rebbe Aaron of Belz, the Beis Yisroel of Gur, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Ezra Attia, and the Chazon Ish - may their sacred memories protect us - all held the Baba Sali in highest esteem.

The Baba Sali lived in Netivot, in the south of Israel. More than anywhere, the Baba Sali was considered southern Israel's undisputed spiritual master. To this day, his holy gravesite is like the "Meron" of Israel's south.

Baba Sali had a profound impact on Netivot and its surrounding settlements. Many residents of these settlements changed their entire lifestyles due to his influence. Baba Sali - from a spiritual standpoint -brought the Negev desert into full spiritual bloom. He would do hours of secluded personal prayer, and his holiness and prayers led to many miracles and resulted in a magnificent sanctification of Hashem's name.  Here's one well-known story:

A young man who was injured in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. He underwent a series of operations, but was rendered a cripple. One of his legs was so bad that the doctors want to amputate it. A friend suggested that he visit the Baba Sali, who was known to work wonders with his prayers. At first, the soldier (a secular Jew) refused. But in  despair, he decided to give it a try.

He was ushered into the Baba Sali's study.

"Do you put on tefillin every day?" Baba Sali asked.


"Do you keep Shabbat?"


"If that's the case, " Baba Sali replied, "you should be thankful that only one leg is in such a serious condition. We believe that Hashem gives us healthy limbs so that we may serve Him. Those who don't keep the mitzvot should regard their healthy limbs as gifts."

At that, the young man burst into tears.

Baba Sali looked him the eye and asked, "If I bless you that you will be able to stand, will you begin to observe the mitzvot?"

"I promise," the young man eagerly replied.

"Then give me your hand, and may you have a complete recovery, with Hashem's help."

After the young man kissed Baba Sali's hand, Rebbetzin Abuchatzeira told him to try and stand up. To his surprise, he was able to stand up immediately, and even take a number of steps without assistance.

Startled by the remarkable change in his situation, the young man ran out of the house in search of a telephone. The nearest telephone was in Yeshivas Hanegev, a few feet away from Rav Yisroel's home.

The young man raced over to the yeshiva, and called his family to tell them about the miracle. The yeshiva students, who overheard the conversation, were stunned. Taking him by the hand, they broke out into a fervent dance.

A short while later, the young man returned to Rav Yisroel's house with many of the yeshiva students, and a special festive meal was held in honor of the miracle.

The young man's story spread like wildfire throughout the country, and caused many to adopt a Torah lifestyle. May Baba Sali's holy and beloved memory invoke Divine compassion on all of us, amen.

Hooked on the Internet


We're now in the midst of the Shovevim weeks (“Shovevim” in Hebrew is a word comprised of the first initials of the Torah portions Shmot, Vaera, Bo, Beshalach, Yitro, and Mishpatim). This time of the year is especially conducive to teshuva and to improving our personal holiness. We should be asking ourselves a few significant questions: Have we been living our lives the Hashem wants us to? Have we been using our time efficiently? Have we been learning Torah, praying, and doing acts of lovingkindness as much as we can? Almost all of us claim that we have no time. Can we honestly say that every moment spent surfing on the web was a necessary productive endeavor?

Web addicts, like most other addicts, either hate to admit or totally deny their addiction. Here's a diagnostic self-help test we put together for those who desire to take an honest look at themselves. By testing ourselves, we avoid being tested by the Heavenly Court, which scrutinizes everything we do with a very high-powered microscope. Try it – it will give you significant insight about yourself:

Continue reading Are You a Web Addict, take the Web-addiction diagnostic self-test and score yourself all on this week's edition of Breslev Israel web magazine.

Rabbi Shalom Arush tells about The Book of Life.

We're delighted to present Rabbi Erez Moshe Doron's amazing new book, Warriors of Transcendence, in serial form. This is the Breslev answer to Star Wars, but much more provocative and exciting. Don't miss it! Warning - it will make you think.

Rivka Levy used to ghost-write speeches for ministers in the British government. See what she has to say in Sheer Simplicity.

The Melitzer Rebbetzen's Blame Game is part 3 of The Pressure-Cooker lifestyle.

Our dear friend Tzvi Meir Cohn tells us about The Baal Shem Tov Legends. Breslev Kids can read David the King, the concluding part of David the Shepherd Boy.

Rebbetzen Siegelbaum taks about this week's Torah portion - Bo - in Constant Renewal.

Have a splendid week! G-d willing, we'll see you in London this Shabbat. See yesterday's post for details.

Hashem's Gonna Do it Again: Meet the Tennessee Jukebox

My good friends Joe and Leah Urso live in the beautiful village of Tekoa in the heart of Judea. But they're like an F-16 - American made, now flying in the service of Israel. They are world-class Bluegrass and Country rock musicians as you'll soon see and hear, and they have a group called the Tennessee Jukebox.

Here's a song from an old Charlie Daniels country-rock song call "The South's Gonna Do it Again." Yoseph and Leah rewrote the lyrics to "Hashem's Gonna Do it Again," in support of the right of the Jewish people to freely build and settle in the land of Israel.

Hashem's Gonna Do it Again 

The Jewish People comin home right on time
From New York City down to Caroline
People makin aliyah from near and far
France to Argentina and the USSR
Ashkenaz, Sephardi, and Temeni Jews
Black Hat, Knitted Kippa, ball-caps too

Gather round, Gather round Yidden be proud
You can be proud here, be loud
You can be loud here, be proud
You can be proud here
Be proud to be in Israel cause
Hashems gonna do it again

Hamas and Fatah want to take it all
The UNs kissin up to Hezbollah
Theyre callin it the West Bank on the 6 oclock news
But Hashem gave Yehuda and Shomron to the Jews
The US is pushin for a settlement freeze
but we'll keep on building for our families

Fiddle: Leah Urso (Leslie Gould)
Vocals: Yoseph "Joe" Urso
Lead Guitar: Nachman Fahrner
Bass: Joshua Goodman

Feel free to send this link to the White House or anywhere else you like. We send a Big Beams Blessing to Joe, Leah, Nachman, and Joshua of the "Tennessee Jukebox" and to all the good folks in Tekoa. Thanks for the smiles...