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15 posts from February 2012

Aliya: All on the Table

This post is an answer to the many (Thank G-d, many!) inquiries I have been receiving recently about aliya. I'll address, with Hashem's help, the spiritual side of the issue. For the practical side, see my cherished friends and their fact-filled website at Nefesh B'Nefesh.

Israel today has its problems. Militarily, tens of thousands of missiles are aimed at us right this moment. Iran? Only Hashem knows what'll be. Almost a third of our citizens have experienced rocket attacks. A leftist elite anti-emuna press and oligarchy have systematically deligitimized our dearest citizens who were once proudly called "pioneers" but are now addressed (with a snarl) as "settlers". There is a terrible animosity between much of the Haredi community and much of the secular community, even between the national religious community and the Haredi community. Torah's overall prestige among the genuine populace is alarmingly low. A secular Israeli youth is much more interested in the NBA than he is in Mordechai and Esther.

The Arabs seem to be warming up for a third intifada. Ahlan wa'sahlan, let them start...

And yes, if your kids can't live without American fun and games, they'll have a rough time time adjusting.

Now for the good news.

Israel is in the midst of the biggest spiritual awakening since the days of Mordechai and Esther. The BTs are conservatively estimated in the high 6 figures, if not more.

Anyone that opens their eyes in Israel realizes that Hashem controls everything. The day-to-day miracles here are beyond belief.

People here are real - not superficially polite, but real. Give any two Israelis 5 minutes to talk to each other on a personal level, and they'll bind.

This is our country and our homeland. You here a siren set in to warn that Shabbat is imminent. In all the cities, there are Purim parades. Everyone speaks Hebrew. Kids grow up with different values. No, we don't haveWalt Disney and Fantasy Land - we have Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai and Miron.

Every hill in Israel has its own melody.

If you love being Jewish and you want a life (not easy, mind you) of joy and emuna, come by all means. If you're willing to become an Israeli, aliya is for you. Most people who seek to live an American, Canadian or British lifestyle in Israel are miserably frustrated.

The Gemara says that three things don't come easy: Torah, the World to Come, and the Land of Israel. Be ready to pay your dues with a big smile.

With all the above in mind and you still want to come, the Land of Israel will embrace you like a loving mother. Call NBN, and tell them that Lazer sent you.

It's Here! The Universal Garden of Emuna

It's no rumor - it's true: there now a Universal Garden of Emuna, completely non-denominational, for all of mankind. If we want to save planet Earth of ours, then we should spread this book far and wide.

There's no bigger mitzva than spreading emuna in the world. We say thrice daily in the "Aleinu" prayer, that we await the day when all living flesh will call Hashem's Name. Let's invoke Divine compassion by hastening that day. You can use you maaser (tithe) money to buy these books and distribute them among your non-Jewish neighbors. One of the Arab judges in the Jerusalem Municipal Court read this book and told Rav Shalom that he should translate it into Arabic too. True emuna has the power to bring peace to mankind. There's no other solution.

Universal GoE

Keep Smiling, Baby

You've already met Shmilly ("Chef Sam" Indig), one of my "adopted sons" in New York. Shmilly was born in a Chassidic house, took a spiritual slide, and then became a heroic self-made Jew. Not only that, but Shmilly is helping a lot of other off-the-track youth to find their way back to the real Yiddishkeit, the one with the smiles and the joy, and without the whips and the threats. Shmilly has an Adar message for us:

5 Steps to Success

Notice that you won't see highly successful people wasting their time on passive entertainment and pastimes (really, "pass the time"). Why? They have no time to waste. They're doers. That's why they're successful.

What's the difference between a champion and a couch potato? 

1. A champion sets goals.

2. A champion has a plan of action how to achieve his goals with daily work quotas that he demands from himself.

3. A champion perseveres and is not discouraged by temporary setbacks. He is dilligent and never lazy.

4. A champion is focused; he is constantly making progress along his chosen path; he shuns wasted effort on extraneous and inconsequential things.

5. A champion has no time to waste.

A couch potato has no goals and therefore no plan of action. He's discouraged by the slightest obstacle and can hardly get out of bed in the morning. In his laziness, he dreams of leisure. His mind is not focused and he has all the time in the world.

No matter who you are or what you do, whether you run a household or manage a business, apply the above five points to your life and with Hashem's help, success will shine on you too. 

TV Toxins

Television Toxins poison body, mind, soul, and destroy families. Here's how:

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that a baby's mind capacity develops exclusively from stimulation of the divine soul.

If a person never uses his divine soul – if his entire life is devoted to TV shows, spectator sports, and movies – his mind capacity never develops. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that negative character traits attach themselves easily to an undeveloped mind. As such, a person can reach the age of eighty and remain a spiritual baby, self-indulgent, egocentric, and perpetually angry. Such a person has no control over his or her own life. He or she is an unfortunate slave to the television program guide.

Try to keep your mind in an active mode. Think of passive entertainment as spiritual cholesterol, which clogs the thought paths of the mind and endangers spiritual health. Read as much as you can. Try to learn new skills. Observe your environment and pay attention to details you normally take for granted. Stay away from TV - it's toxic for both body and soul.

Passive entertainment is public enemy number one to communication in the family. Many couples are so glued to the television that they never sit down to an intimate meal and a meaningful discussion. Some couples have been married for years, yet they don't know each other! Misunderstandings are commonplace between two strangers.

Many parents will refuse to answer their child's important question, if it interrupts the ball game or the seven o'clock news. One who prefers a soap opera or tag-team wrestling match to the emotional welfare of a spouse or a child is light years away from parental and/or marital obligations.

Therefore, in a home where the television takes priority to parental attention, it's natural that the kids love the TV screen more than they love their parents. And parents - don't complain: these are the skewed values that you established in the house. It's not too late to rethink them. The TV is Amalek; get rid of it before Purim and you'll see a big blessing at home.

If you wisely decide to throw the TV out of your third-story window, make sure no one is passing by on the sidewalk at that moment...

Cry No More

Here's an exquisite song and film clip featuring Yaakov Shwekey for a nice five minutes of inspiration and enjoyment before Shabbat. You'll see some nice scenes of Jerusalem, and hear the all-too-familiar Red Alert siren from the south of Israel (2:39 into the clip). Have a great Shabbat Shekalim!