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11 posts from February 2011

Little Yankie's Story: Emuna yes, Ritalin no

SR sent me the following moving account of his son, who we'll call "Yankie". The educators said that Yankie would need Ritalin in order to learn. SR and his wife looked for a better solution; here's what he writes:

I am writing this in order to offer encouragement and hope to parents who may be faced with same challenge that we were faced with.

At the age of 4, our son entered a regular pre-school class and continued the following year. He was not thriving,  was socially immature and struggling to reach developmental milestones (speech, language and comprehension to name a few). In addition to this he was ignored by the teacher who lacked the necessary skills and more obviously the individual time to give him.

We had him take some psychometric tests and it was determined that he needed special education. The lady responsible for the special education pre-school network was particularly concerned about his difficulties. She expressed concern that the local special education pre-school would not be able to handle his challenges and suggested that he travel on a daily basis to a more expert place. My wife felt that the travelling would be too much for a 5/6 year old and it was agreed that he could attend locally. The following 2 years saw a remarkable change in our son – reaching significant milestones in his development. The above mentioned person remarked that his progress was miraculous and she and the staff derived endless joy from observing his progress. However, all the time Yankie was struggling with concentration and focus and obviously struggle to progress in his ability to learn the alphabet and hence read.

Over the course of 2 years we met with her and the staff some 4/5 times. Each time it was suggested (not forcefully -  may I add to their credit) that he see a Neurologist and begin ritalin. We stood our ground and refused to resort to drugging our child with a cocaine equivalent drug. We also consulted with 2 leaders in the Breslev movement who both supported our decision. The one particularly emphasized that the salvation is dependent on prayer. Some 6 months before the end of his final pre-school year, the organizer expressed her concern that Yankie would have to go to a special education school if we decided not to pursue the ritalin option. We maintained our position and they subsequently stopped teaching him the alphabet claiming that they needed to concentrate on other kids who were moving onto regular schooling. This caused us pain, but not despair and we were prepared to follow the course that HaShem would unfold.

After much pidyon nefesh, many blessings from the Tzadikim, prayer and charity and a trip to Kivrei Tzadikim in the Ukraine – just some 5 months into the school year – he is now reading!

The western world has fashioned a culture of instant need and instant gratification. Unfortunately this has also influenced the religious world - people seek instant solutions to their challenges and struggle to exercise patience and fail to invest effort and emunah in reaching their desired goals.

We bless parents who find themselves in similar situations - that they should have the strength to resist grabbing at instant solutions and rather to allow HaShem to unfold events and present healthier and happier solutions. Our story is not a story of me and us and what we achieved – rather it is a further revelation of HaShem’s constant kindness to us and His Heavenly assistance.


Yitzie's Story: A Miracle in Uman


Hi, my name is Yitzie. I'm from New York State. I grew up “chassidish” but went totally of the path. I started working in the Big Apple and got involved in everything guys get involved in when the leave the shtetyl and go to Manhattan. You know…

Until this year at Shabbos Chanuka, I was still a chef downtown. I was on the train to the city to go to work. Suddenly, something came to my mind that I want to go to Uman for Shabbos Chanuka. I don't know why – it was so strange - no one ever told me to go. I have friends that are Breslev, but ME? “I would never go to Uman,” I told my friends. Like I was being pulled, somehow I decided to go for shabbos. I bought my ticket that night.

I went to Uman for Shabbos and my whole life changed around. We had major obstacles on the way to Uman:

I spent 3 whole days running from airport to airport and suffered from canceled flights - it was a mess. But we didn't give up. We got to Uman a half hour before candle-lighting on Friday afternoon.

After 3 days not sleeping and not eating normal, my friends went to daven mincha I haven't kept Shabbos for over 2 years. But I decided Shabbos in UMAN I have to keep. We finished davening and we went to our apartment to make the meal which I cooked actually. It was a very nice meal. And we went to sleep we were all tired after what we went through.

At 1am, I woke up and I saw my friend walking out from the apartment we rented. I asked him where he's going. “To the tziyun (gravesite),” he answered. “You want to come?” he asked me. It was 1 AM Friday night - I was tired but something told me get out of bed and go. So that's what I did.

I came into the shul that’s built over Rebbe Nachman’s tziyun and my friend told me to go up to the tziyun and tell Rebbe Nachman and what happened with you the past 3 days. “But before you go, please come to mikva,” he said. I told my friend, “No way I’m going to mikva - I haven't been to a mikva for 10 years.” So I went to Rebbe Nachman's kever (grave) and started talking to him, just like this: “Holy Rebbe, I don't know why I'm here, but you sent me a invitation to come to you so here I am - after 3 days of traveling all over Europe, I'm here by you. What on earth do you want from me?”

I started telling Rebbe Nachman my story; not long ago, I got separated after 6 years of marriage. I went on telling him everything what's going on in my life. And in the end, I told Rabbenu Nachman, “I'm in your hands I will do whatever you want me to do but show what you want from me...”

You can read the exciting continuation of Yitzie's Story in this week's issue of Breslev Israel web magazine.

My beloved teacher and spiritual guide Rabbi Shalom Arush says life is a choice between Emuna or Gehennom.

Now's your chance to enhance your Shabbat table; Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira teaches us the Breslev Shabbat Songs.

Zev Ballen gives a lot of people the surprise of their lives in his eye-opening article that discusses the correlation between Sexual Primiscuity and Suicide.

Rivka Levy shows us how to bring Moshiach Now, the Easy Way. Yehudit Levy shows how the spiritual strengthening of the home contributes to the Rebuilding of Our Holy Temple. Racheli Reckles helps us strengthen the family unit in Family Revival Day.

Chaya Ovadia looks for a natural remedy in Wonderberries.

Rabbi Erez Moshe Doron presents The White Emperor, gripping part 55 of Warriors of Transcendence.

This week's Torah portion is Vayakhel. May Hashem bless you with a fantastic week!

Our Emuna Girl at Barnard

The following email from a young lady at Barnard was my favorite for the day, the type of encouragement that makes everything worthwhile:

Dear Rav Lazer Brody shlita,

I have been having an extremely difficult transition to Barnard college this year, coming back from an amazing and uplifting experience in seminary last year. I fought long and hard to stay in seminary for a second year (Haredi equivalent to teacher's college for women - LB), and when that didn't work, I fought long and hard to go to Stern College instead. My parents were unyielding to say the least.

First semester here I was miserable because I refused to believe that this is where Hashem wanted me to be, so I therefore refused to be happy. Over winter vacation I did a lot of learning, cheshbon hanefesh (soul searching - LB), and hisbodedus (secluded personal prayer - LB), and that is what ultimately pulled me out of my downslide. This semester baruch Hashem has been drastically different. I now realize that for some reason, this is where Hashem wants me to be. I just found out the reason.

I decided to take advantage of being at a secular college to do kiruv (outreach - LB), and began learning Garden of Emuna with an unaffiliated girl. Slowly I saw the progression she was making- she began attributing all of the troubles she had to Hashem, and doing her own form of prayer in English. She switched to the kosher meal plan, started wearing some of my skirts, and tore up her fake ID and stopped going to parties. Today she thanked me profusely saying that this book has helped her so much connect to Judaism and to Hashem. She just texted all my friends "Emuna :)" and left me a voice message saying "The reason why I've been making a lot of new promises with myself (to change) is because of the book we've been reading. Your such an huge inspiration, I just wanna let you know that." This is why Hashem put me here.

I thank the Rav so much for all his inspiration. B'simcha tamid (Happy always - LB), Emuna Girl

* * * * *

The "Emuna Girl" is certainly an inspiration to all of us. Take her wonderful example and start spreading emuna in your family, on your campus or in your place of employment. You'll be saving lives and you'll see big miracles. Nothing brings greater gratification to Hashem, and you'll be hastening the Geula, the full redemption of our people, speedily and in our days, amen!

The Secret of Achievers

This moment will never return - utilize it to the hilt.

Folks don't realize their potential because they're too busy fretting about the past and worrying about the future. Meanwhile the present is slipping through their fingers. 

The past is history - let it go. The future is a mystery - tomorrow's show.

Rebbe Nachman tells us that we have nothing other than the moment at hand. Concentrating on the present is the secret of maximizing potential and attaining success, no matter what our area of endeavor is. Work on this point, and you'll suddenly discover that your doubling and trebling your performance.

Easier said than done? Not when you learn emuna; with emuna, we know that Hashem did everything, for the best, and for a good reason. We're therefore free from wallowing in the muck and mire of the past and free from worrying about tomorrow. Try it - it works great! Emuna is the secret of our people's greatest achievers.

Hashem Listens

Always listening
The Torah tells about a poor person that needs an urgent loan. The lender – rightfully so – asks the poor person for collateral. The poor person has nothing to offer but the shirt on his back. The lender asks, "Do you sleep in that shirt?" The poor person says no. The lender says, "Fine - give me your night garment as collateral" (See Shemot, chapter. 22).

The Torah allows the lender to take the night garment (a men's version of a nightgown) as collateral, but then commands the lender to return the nightgown to the poor person every day at sundown, so that the poor person will have something to sleep in. The poor person in turn must return the collateral to the lender the next morning at dawn with no excuses and no delay.

The Torah tells the lender, "Fine; you want to demand collateral from this poor guy? No problem; you are allowed to take his one and only possession – his night clothing." At this point, Hashem adds a stiff warning: "Return it [the night garment] to him [the poor person] every evening, because if you don't, and the poor person cries out to me in desperation, I will listen, for I am compassionate" (Shemot 22:26).

The Torah is revealing to us one of the most powerful foundations in emuna – the pure and complete faith in Hashem. Whenever a person cries out to Hashem from the bottom of his or her broken heart, Hashem listens. Always!

This is not a messenger speaking, not an angel or a prophet. Hashem himself promises: "I will listen, for I am compassionate."

If you don't think that Hashem listens to you, it's because you don't speak to Him. Start talking to Him, and wait and see the response you get...

You Don't Need to Change

In this eye-opening video clip - one of the best I've seen yet of the Lubavitcher Rebbe - the Rebbe addresses those of our brothers and sisters that say they can't be observant because of their secular backgrounds. The Rebbe says, "You don't need to change, only to return to your true essence." This one sentence contains everything a person needs to know. The Rebbe also speaks about the significance of life's difficulties, which are all tests from Hashem. His holy words are just what we need to hear now. This is required viewing.