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11 posts from August 2012

Rav Shalom Arush: "There's No Bad!"

Many of you have never seen my beloved rabbi and spiritual guide, Rav Shalom Arush, may Hashem bless him. Here's a 2-minute clip of some spontaneous singing at one of Rav Shalom's lectures in Israel. The Rav is singing, "I believe with a full and complete belief that there's no bad in the world." One of the foundations of our emuna is that everything Hashem does is for the very best, whether or not we understand how. Enjoy!

Sex, Religion, and the Middle East

I just completed a great read - provocative, stimulating, and fast moving. This is Dovber Halevi's Srme copynew book, "Sex, Religion, and the Middle East."

This is a book on the positive effect of a sexually moral lifestyle by someone who transformed himself from a singles "player" to happily married man who now lives by teachings of "personal holiness." Dovber has been writing for Breslev Israel for the past three years. His book has personal stories, tons of history, and insights from Jewish Sages about the link between the safety of the Jewish People, our personal satisfaction in life, and our commitment to a sexually moral standard of conduct.

Dovber discusses how he hit rock bottom and what he needed to do in order to free himself from the chains of a cruel master. He illustrates the steps he took to clean himself up and reach heights in his life he never imagined possible. It was very insightful to discover how changes in pharmaceuticals, media, and culture – very recent changes, transformed the common attitude about sex from a special intimacy between husband and wife into an obsession that has entrapped our generation. It is inspiring to learn how this is also a pitfall that can be overcome.

Finally, he devotes an entire section to our guarding the covenant and the impact we make on events happening in the Middle East. This book is not judgmental. It starts with the conviction that we are all good people living in the most challenging times ever. It encourages us to rely on our strongest attributes to overcome lusts that are destroying everything we cherish most. We have it in our ability to elevate mankind to the next level and usher in an era of everlasting and eternal peace.

I highly recommend this book!

The Sounds of Geula

If you've been to Israel and you've been anywhere near an Arab town or village, you'll hear the muezzin calling the people to prayer from atop the minaret of the mosque, before each of the prescribed times of prayer. He calls out, Allah Hu akbar - Hashem is all-powerful.

When Moshiach comes, all of Israel will resound each morning 72 minutes before daybreak with the call of Shma Yisrael. Yaniv Madar, an outstanding vocalist, does this better than anyone I've ever heard. His Shma Yisrael is preceeded by the blowing of a Moroccan shofar, the type of which will herald the coming of Moshiach. These are surely the sounds of Geula, the full redemption of our people that's ever so close. And don't worry about our troubles - the labor pains are fiercest right before the joyous event of the birth. The Geula - redemption - is the rebirth of our people. May it be soon, amen!

Profane Speech

Dear Rabbi Brody,
I confess: I'm 17, a junior in religious high school, and I swear a lot. Everyone always goes on and on how using the swearing words are wrong. But why are they? I mean all they are, are a couple words that don't really mean anything, and the only reason I like using them is because when you can't find a word strong enough to describe how you feel, usually one of the swearing words does the job. Whatever, thanks a lot. From Barbara in Long Island somewhere

Dear Barbara,

That was courageous of you to tell me. The soul is surrounded by three garments - thoughts, speech, and deeds. When you use foul language, you surround your soul in stench, kind of like walking around with completely dirty underwear. Sounds gross? Foul words make your soul feel gross, and they chase away Hashem's Divine Presence, which means that a person who uses filthy language loses Divine guidance and protection. That's when real trouble in your life starts.

Please try to break the habit. The best way to do that is to avoid anger. Since anger comes from arrogance, the more modest a person is, the more he or she steers clear of anger. Remember also, a person with a cheap tongue is a cheap person. You certainly don't want people calling you "cheap" behind your back, especially since you're a quality young lady.

People who use foul language are basically no better than pigs. Even if you dress them in in fancy clothes, pigs remain pigs. A person's speech is the showcase of a person's soul.

Barbara, do your soul a favor and weed the four-letter words out of your vocabulary. Elul is the time for teshuva, for all of us to decide to be just a little bit better than what we used to be. With blessings, LB

Dakuwaqa's Dream

We are pleased to share with you a magnificent celebration of creation, the untouched underwater world of Fiji in the south Pacific. The photography and film production are the exquisite work of Nick Hope, and the background melody is by Skanoir Music.

A mere glance at Hashem's magnificent universe is enough to make even an insensitive person cry out in love of Hashem. Our job in Elul is exactly that - to enhance our love of Hashem and to get closer to Him. Once we do so, the High Holidays become a sublime pleasure and not a dread, Heaven forbid. Enjoy!

Breslev and Black Jews

Dear Rabbi Brody,

I want you to know that Rabbi Shalom Arush's books, the Lazer Beams web journal and the Breslev Israel site were the messengers that Hashem chose to bring me to convert to Judaism. The rabbis of the Bet Din where I converted were amazed at my knowledge about emuna. At any rate, I feel like a Breslever. I love Rebbe Nachman's teachings and the way Rabbi Arush applies them to every phase of practical life. And I love the way you bring them to us English speakers. I owe you more than you'll ever know. But, when I saw your clip and poem We're All Brothers, I really had to write you. It's nice talk, but is it only you or is it all of Breslev? If I would make aliya (which I'm starting to think about), would an African-American convert like me be accepted? I'd appreciate you're being candid with me - don't spare my feelings, just give it to me straight so I won't have any illusions. I appreciate your taking the time to read this. With appreciation from the heart, Reuven from the USA

Dear Reuven,

Come to Uman on Rosh Hashana and see how many African-descended Jews you'll find. The same goes for our Yeshiva. When it comes to Jews, not only me but all of Breslev is color blind. A Jew is a Jew - Ashkenazi, Sefardi, black, white, religious or non-religious. The missiles of our enemies don't differentiate between Jews, so why should we? Aliya is a great idea. Our Yeshiva has open arms to any serious Jew, no matter what his color is. And, you won't be the first African-American convert in our community. May Hashem help you succeed always. With blessings of every shape and form, LB

Arik and Lazer
Arik Shalom with Lazer at the Chut Shel Chesed Yeshiva in Jerusalem