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15 posts from July 2011

Baba Elazar, another tragic sacrifice

We're so choked with tears and emotions that the keyboard is barely visible. The Jewish people have just suffered an inestimable loss - that of Baba Elazar from BeerSheva, may his pure and holy soul plead for all of us at the Heavenly Throne.

The south of Israel is known for its special tzadikim, one of the greatest and holiest was "Baba Elazar" - Rabbi Elazar AbuChatzera of saintly and blessed memory - who was stabbed to death after midnight by a deranged individual. All of us here at Breslev Israel, Emuna Outreach, and the Beams mourn the untimely disappearance of this tremendous tzaddik who never raised his eyes to look at the physical and material world. Continuing in the path of his holy father Baba Meir zatza'l from Ashdod and his holy grandfather and light unto our eyes the Baba Sali of Netivot, Baba Elazar is survived by his brothers - each a tzaddik in his own right: Rabbi David of Nahariya, Rabbi Yekutiel and Rabbi Raphael of Ashdod, and Rabbi Yehoshua Rahamim. Their one sister is married to Rabbi Chaim Pinto, the head Sefardi Rabbi of Ashdod.

Rabbi Raphael Abuchatzera once told me that there holy father made sure that all the brothers knew Zoher and Aramaic by age 8. He also told me that his brother Elazar was particularly special in his learning and in his personal holiness from the time he was a little boy.

Volumes are required to record the miracles that Baba Elazar performed. But greater than the miracles was his love for every single Jew, no matter what his or her background was.

People ask why. We certainly don't want to recall the misdeeds of our people; yet, the true tzaddikim of our generation have been fighting a bloody spiritual war to rescind or at least mitigate the severe judgments levelled at our people. Don't even ask what they are, because they're unthinkable. In the past month alone we've lost little Leiby Kletzky, Rav Michel Lefkowitz, the Sphinka Rebbe, and now Baba Elazar, all of saintly and blessed memory. Look how we're all paying the price:

Leiby Kletzky - sacrifice taken from American Jewry

Rav Lefkowitz - Lithuanian Jewry's sacrifice

Sphinka Rebbe - Chassidic Jewry's sacrifice

Baba Elazar - Sefardic Jewry's sacrifice

This must stop! Hashem is talking to us loud and clear, but few seem to understand the message. How many more holy sacrifices will we have to pay to prevent whatever catastrophes that the accusing forces are demanding? How much longer can we tolerate ugly hate and prejudice as well as the breach in personal modesty and holiness? When will we finally make teshuva from the heart and make ourselves worthy receptacles for the light of the Divine Presence? Don't forget - we're in the midst of the Three Weeks, and it's not even Rosh Chodesh Av yet. What will be? Who will wake up before it's too late?

Baba Elazar was the epitome of holiness. His untimely death was a mere hours after the gay-pride parade contaminated Jerusalem. For those with short memories, the kidnapping of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser together with the outbreak of the second Lebanon War and the unbelievable damage to the north of Israel also occured shortly after the 2006 gay pride parade in Jerusalem.

We cannot afford to lose any more tzaddikim.

First, we each must do our part to better our unconditional love for each other and at least start by removing hate and prejudice from our midst. For those who think we hate gays - you're wrong. We merely oppose public flaunts of Torah prohibitions, particularly in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Second, each of us must accept upon ourselves - as a loving sanctification of Baba Elazar's holy memory - a commitment to strengthen our personal holiness and modesty in some way. Hashem regards the slightest improvement as a great sacrifice. In fact, our commitment to Ahavat Yisrael and to personal holiness will undoubtedly lead to the true consolation of our people, the coming of Moshiach, and the rebuilding of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem, amen.


TTTT at Mule Creek Prison

Emuna Outreach is proud to be sponsoring the distribution of hundreds of copies of The Trail to Tranquility to inmates in the California State Prison system. Thanks to our friends at the Aleph Institute and Emuna Outeach activists David and Racheli Reckles, The Trail to Tranquility is already all widely distributed among inmates in the Florida and New York State prisons. Here's one of the many letters we received from inmates, this one from Mule Creek Prison in California:

Shalom, Emuna Outreach!

I read the Trail to Tranquility by Lazer Brody and am amazed at how universally that could be applied here in this prison. It would aid my Lifer’s Group in forming a Anger management Peer Education Group. What a precious gift it would be to prepare these men for the Parole Board and for life once released.

As you probably have heard, California has the most deplorable conditions of confinement in the country.  It is also true that California has done away with all educational and vocational training and made all rehabilitation inmate initiated and paid for. There is no rehabilitation left in this massive prison system. So we have formed our own self-help groups, with administrative permission of course. Even the religious services have been drastically cut.

I am the secretary of the C Facility Lifer’s Support Group. Part of what I do is send away for support materials for the group. I am looking for reentry programs in California, both faith based and secular. We have zero Jewish Reentry programs that I have found. but I did read The Trail of Tranquility with an eye of how perfect it would be for use as a Anger Management Program here. What I need to know is: Is it feasible to use Lazer Brody’s book as a basis for a program here? Could you arrange to donate copies for us? It would be helping so many, including the society these men will be paroling to.

Help us today, for a brighter tomorrow for us all.

May you be Blessed each day, 
Respectfully yours, 

T.H., Mule Creek State Prison

Thanks to your contributions to Emuna Outreach, the books are already on their way to California!

Taking the Marital Initiative

My beloved teacher and spiritual guide Rav Shalom Arush, may Hashem bless him, says that the only way to rebuild our national Holy Temple is if each one of us first builds his personal Holy Temple - that is shalom bayit, or marital peace.

Hashem flashed an interesting thought in my brain: The Zohar says that one's spouse is like The other half of the same soul. So, since our spouse is the other half, let him or her be represented by the letter "T". We are represented by the first-person singular pronoun, in other words, the letter "I". In order for us to maintain and cultivate marital peace, the "I" must take the initiative, in other words, make the first move. He or she must should never say, "Let the other side be OK, and then I'll be OK." So, in "marital peace", the I must come before the T.

Yet, we often hear warring couple entrenched in their positions, with neither side making a move to bring peace in the home. One partner says, "let the other side change his/her ways, and then I'll follow suit." That only leads to more hostilities and more unhappiness. So if they take the word marital, and misplace the I and the T - putting the responsibility on the "T" - the other side - rather than on the "I", the result is disastrous. Marital becomes Martial, and that's bad news. 

Let's each take the iniative to build our own personal Holy Temple, and thereby hastening the full redemption of our people and the rebuilding of our Holy Temple, speedily and in our days, amen. Have a great Shabbat, and warmest regards from the lovely Land of Emuna. 

The Answer to Child Molesters

Five months ago, I was interviewed in New York City about the painful subject of child molesters and what to do about them. In the aftermath of the Leiby Kletzky ob"m tragedy, this interview is more timely than ever. You'll see and hear me declaring in a loud voice that anyone - rabbi or otherwise - who helps cover up a case of child molesting is an accomplice to the crime. From now on, may we only hear good tidings, amen!

Finding a Husband

Shalom Rabbi Brody,

I am in my early 30's, divorced with 3 children. I was offered 2 shidduchim whom I feel may not be observant enough for me. Both don't daven in minyan regularly.  It is very important to me that a man wakes up for shacharit. It's definitely because my ex never cared for it and caused a lot of strife between us. Also both don't have a rabbi that they are close with.

What do you think? Am I expecting too much?

Thanks so much, Feigie from the West Coast USA

Feigie, you're 100% right to demand that a person has a rabbi who serves as his spiritual guide. One who acts as his own rabbi has a fool for a student. Also, Rav Shalom always stresses the importance of a man getting out of bed early and praying with a public quorum of ten men. If the day starts early and bright, the entire day will continue so. Those who roll out of bed at late hours have no blessing for the rest of the day. You therefore are more than justified to want a man who is connected to an upright rabbi and spiritual guide. You are also justified in looking for a man that prays in a minyan. Such a person is easy to check out because you can ask his rabbi about him.

To make life easy,for you, follow 3 guidelines with no compromise:

1. Go for the good heart;

2. Look for a man with emuna. If he has a good heart, he'll be happy to strengthen himself in Emuna, because people with truly good hearts desire to get closer to Hashem.

3. If he hasn't already read The Garden of Peace, he must be willing to do so and to commit to upholding the advice therein.

Don't compromise on the above 3 points. Money and good looks don't stay with a person, but emuna and a good heart are assets for posterity. You are in my prayers for a great match in the nearest future. Blessings always, LB

Little Leibby, of blessed memory

Rebbe Nachman warned us that the tests of emuna would be the most difficult right before Moshiach comes.

What could possibly be the rhyme or reason for the brutal and gruesome murder of a gentle little innocent and pure 9 year-old Chassidic boy with rosy white cheeks and silky black sidecurls? This is certainly beyond any realm of human compassion.

Meanwhile, another little Chassidic boy is missing in the Catskills. What's happening?

Although the two cases bear little in common, Little Leibby reminds me of the Fogel children, murdered mercilessly in their sleep by the lowest form of bloodthirsty subhuman beasts. Whoever murdered Little Leibby Kletzky was also a subhuman beast.

Our people are suffering sacrifices on both sides of the ocean. The Fogels and Little Leibby were and are unblemished sacrifices to atone for our sins. When flawless children die, it's time for national soul-searching and teshuva. The best thing we can do to prevent more sacrifices is to simultaneously return to Hashem and to His Torah, and to spread emuna as far and as wide as fast as we can. Let's show Hashem that we don't need any more wakeup calls.

The Beams and Breslev Israel convey our deepest heartfelt condolences to the Kletzky family. May they be comforted amongst the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Blue Otter's Dream

"Blue Otter" is a Tennessee Cherokee. Together with Chief Sitting Owl of the Central Tennessee Cherokee Nation, he travelled nearly 200 miles to meet me in person for the first time and hear me speak in Memphis this past month. A few days later, Blue Otter sent me the following email:

Osyio, Rabbi Lazer!

That night after the lecture, as I was blissfully sleeping in the Chief's "luxury suite," (as he calls it, and I did find it to be very commodious)... I dreamed that wherever you go on earth, there is a square 7' x 7' patch of what looked like "rain" that constantly follows and covers you. That was an interesting dream! I know it's true...

Shalom, Gah gey you e,

Blue Otter

Blue Otter's dream is remarkable. The minimum size of a kosher Succa is 7 tefachim by 7 tefachim. Our sages tell us that this is the smallest area befitting for the "Clouds of Emuna" to hover (in the words of the Zohar, tzila demehaimnuta). May we all be worthy vessels of the Divine Presence, amen.