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December 2012
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February 2013

9 posts from January 2013

Emuna is the key word

Why is emuna - the pure and simple faith in Hashem - so seemingly difficult to attain? Simple - all of our spiritual luminaries from the Baal Shem Tov of blessed and saintly memory to our contemporary tzaddikim have stated unequivocally that the souls who come to earth in this current generation that paves the way for Moshiach will all have the obligation to correct the flaw in emuna (faith) from a former reincarnation. In other words, once you'ved attained emuna, you've achieved a priceless correction for your soul, and you've successfully performed your tachlit, the purpose that your soul was sent down to this earth. In other words, acquiring emuna is a mindboggling, monumental accomplishment.

There is no human imagination that can fathom the reward that awaits a person in the next world for attaining emuna. By the way, the benefits of emuna already have a wonderful effect on one's quality of life in this world.

The Yetzer (evil inclination) will fight you tooth and nail so that you don't achieve this correction, which once again, is your very mission on this earth. The souls who accomplish their tikkun emuna (soul correction of achieving faith) will be the heroes of the spiritual battle for Moshiach and redemption.

If you're in the North Jersey or NYC areas, or LA, Miami, Mexico City, Cleveland or Chicago, you're invited to hear a lot more about emuna. Take a look at our event schedule - clip on the link in the gray box at the top of this site. We'd love to see you...

Niggun of the Birds

Perek Shira teaches us that each bird has its own niggun (melody).

The Land of Israel is blessed with wonderful menagnim ksherim, upright melodists, who live their lives in purity and sing and play their melodies for the purpose of praising Hashem's Name and bringing people closer to Him. One of these is my cherished friend and spiritual brother, Shlomo Katz. One night, he couldn't sleep. He took a walk to the Holy Western Wall (Kotel) between midnight and first light, and he heard the birds singing this niggun, which he recorded for us. Enjoy, and have a wonderful Shabbat Shira!

The Real Deal

Some people think that the spiritual advice we give is rosy pie-in-the-sky; others listen, and realize that it's the real deal. Check out what Itzie from LA has to say:

"My name is Itzie and I live in Los Angeles. I am a religious Jew who grew up in a not-so religious background. I have recently become fond of your teachings through your website and through torahanytimes website and i must say that i enjoy them very very much. Your teachings come from love and have filled a tiny hole in my heart that I couldn't seem to fill on my own. I am a married father of 4 for 8 years now. My wife and I have had good times but mostly tough times and many times I felt like I couldn't continue in the marriage anymore...

"But recently I heard you tell a story of a wife that emailed you saying that without reason, she can't seem to understand why she has recently had a feeling of hatred towards her husband. You then related that you asked the husband to call you and you discovered that he has been viewing inappropriate things on line on his home computer. At that point I realized that maybe that's whats happening to me as I always had that problem as well. Actually it was never really a problem that i struggled with because i convinced myself that there was nothing wrong with it. Whats wrong with just looking at a picture i thought. But after hearing your advice to him, I told myself "What do you have to lose - try for one week not to look at anything inappropriate and see if it helps with anything".

"Rabbi Lazer Brody, I am emailing you 3 weeks since the beginning of my experiment and after 8 years of marriage, I am happy to report that my shalom bayis has DRAMATICALLY improved. True i need more work but at least i found a path thanks to you. Your advice really works!"

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During these weeks of "Shovevim", any tiny improvement in personal holiness counts big upstairs. All of us have room to improve in guarding our eyes and polishing up our modesty. And it works, because it's the real deal. Wait and see the improvement not only in your marriage, but in your income too.

Introducing Kobi Aflalo

Kobi Aflalo and Lazer
Kobi Aflalo with Lazer in the Breslev Israel office, Jerusalem

Kobi Aflalo is one of the most special people I know. An immensely popular singer in Israel, he has a voice like milk and honey. Recently, he has been strengthening his connection to his Jewish roots and has become an enthusiastic follower of Rav Shalom Arush, like so many other leading Israeli personalities in performing arts. I'm especially fond of Kobi because of his beautifully humble and honest soul. Even before Kobi became observant, the lyrics of his souls carried spiritual messages. In "Yam HaRachamim", which you'll see and here below, Kobi sings that the world doesn't end with our short go-around down here: "After everything's over, you'll ascend skyward, and you'll need a sea of mercy..."

We're sure you'll enjoy Kobi as much as we do. We wish Kobi success in everything he does. Shabbat Shalom!


Executive Insomnia

Dear Rabbi Brody,

I'm the only Jewish female executive in my company (finance). If I always worked under pressure, then now - with the recessive economy and 1/3 of our staff laid off - I now work under phenomenal pressure. I can't sleep at night, thinking about whether I've made the right decisions for my clients and the best for my company. I'm afraid of sleeping pills, but I'm so tired and edgy lately. My boyfriend terminated our relationship, complaining that my career monopolizes my time and strength. Please give me some urgent advice. Signed, Baggy Eyes

Dear Baggy Eyes,

The rigors of your profession stress your brain yet shortchange your body. After work, change into your most comfortable walking clothes, and walk briskly for sixty minutes. Once you burn a few hundred calories exercising, you can eat whatever you like, but please, no junk food! Listen to your favorite instrumental mood music while taking a luxurious bath, and don't forget to add a cup of baking soda to your bath water. As bedtime approaches, curl up in bed with a glass of chamomile tea and your favorite book. I suggest you read The Garden of Emuna and The Trail to Tranquility. Soon, your eyelids will feel like barbells.

Now that you turn off the lights, don't be afraid of the recurring worries. Remember, the mind can move quickly from thought to thought, but can only focus on one thought at a time. If your brain acts like an undisciplined horse, remember that you hold the reins. Force the "horse" to go in the direction you choose. I suggest you make a nightly inventory of thanks. Begin by thanking the Almighty for each limb, organ and appendage of your body. Stop and think how difficult life would be without your eyesight, hearing, sense of smell, etc. Express your appreciation for each heartbeat and every breath. As your thanks progress from head to toe, before you reach your eighth rib, you'll be sound asleep with no pills.

As for losing your boyfriend, don't worry; someone more worthy is waiting for you. You've been spending the bulk of your time in the fast lane of a highly competitive, demanding, and dry men's world with little compassion, so you need to return some femininity to yourself. Commit to the mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles every week, and immediate after lighting the candles, ask Hashem for whatever you want. Also, learn how to bake challas. If your apartment had the smell of fresh-baked challas on Friday afternoon, no man in his right mind will ever let you go. By the way, I've never seen a divorce in a family that eats home-baked challas.

Let G-d worry about Wall Street and the Chicago futures market. Once you've put forward your best effort, leave the anxiety in the office. If you stick to the above advice, within thirty days, Miss Baggy Eyes will look ten years younger. Blessings always, LB

A World of Favors

In Hebrew, there are two words for lending: one is lehashil, which means to lend an object, like a car or a hammer. The other word is lehalvot, which means to lend a sum of money. Why two different words? Rashi explains that there is an inherent difference between lending an object and lending money: if I lend you my book, I'd sincerely appreciate your returning the same exact book to me. But if someone lends you fifty dollars, they don't need the same exact banknotes in return; any fifty dollars will suffice.

By the same token, there is a major difference between doing someone a material favor and doing someone a spiritual favor. Material favors should be returned in kind, even though the giver should not expect remuneration of any kind, otherwise it's not a true favor. For example, if someone mowed your lawn when you went on vacation, it would be nice of you to reciprocate when he goes on vacation.

Spiritual favors are different. If someone teaches you about emuna or how to talk to Hashem in personal prayer, you should of course be grateful. But, instead of returning the favor, pass it on to others. Teach them about emuna and how satisfying it is to have your own personal relationship with Hashem. And in that way, you're doing a big favor for the person who first helped you.

Olam Chesed yibaneh - we can build a better world by doing favors for one another.