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12 posts from November 2018

The Day I Decided to Become a CFT

Early grave
Did I ever tell you about the day I decided to become a Certified Fitness Trainer? What does a rabbi want to do that for anyway? The body is so closely entwined with the soul that many spiritual and emotional ailments are connected to the misuse of the body, so a knowledge of health, diet and fitness enhances spiritual guidance. That's all true, but it's not what gave me the push to devote the time and effort necessary to receive my certifications.

It was the loudspeaker in my neighborhood blaring one winter morning at about 11 AM: "The funeral procession of Avraham Levy (name changed for obvious reasons - the above photo is bogus, just to emphasize the point at hand) will depart from the Central Synagogue on Rotem Street at 1:30 PM." Before long, the walls of the neighborhood were plastered with black-and-white posters announcing his death. Avraham was 46, and he left a widow and 8 kids.

I knew Avraham - he was the nicest person in the world. But, he was grossly overweight. He'd drink coffee with milk and 3 teaspoons of sugar, He drank Cokes instead of water. In the morning after davening, he'd participate in the daily "L'Chayim" that includes chocolate or banana liqueur and rugalach, rolled pastries with trans-fat up in never-never land.

What a waste.

Every morning in the mikva, I cringe when I see so many young men in their 20's, 30's and 40's with cascades of needless blubber rolling down their midsections. These guys outnumber the 6-pack abs Chassidim 8-to-1. Is that what the Rambam wanted?

I detest attending funerals for young people. I don't want to see any more kids orphaned because of their parents' sweet tooth and lack of health awareness. That's why I became a CFT. That's why I started Emuna Fitness and write essays like A Healthy Hanukkah, my feature article on this week's new edition of Breslev Israel web magazine.

Also featured this week:

Rabbi Shalom Arush - A Head Start in Life 

Racheli Reckles - What Men Want

Yehudit Channen - A Cruise and a Camp

David Ben Horin - The Double Protection of Shabbat 

Jennifer Woodward - The Magic Pill

Yehudit Shick - A Coffee Date with G-d

Enjoy, and have a lovely new week!

Scroll down directly below to see the fantastic job opening at Breslev Israel 

Emuna Fitness: The Farmer's Carry

The Farmer's Carry, an exercise that you're about to learn, is one of the most important exercises in functional fitness. That's the fitness that you apply to day-to-day life and it's aimed at improving your daily task-fulfillment as opposed to body-building, which is geared to make the body look good. We, as observant Jews, don't flaunt our bodies, but we do need to function. We must have balance, stamina, strength, agility, speed and coordination. We must be able to defend ourselves and to carry the groceries home or wield a suitcase at the airport.

Consequently, as you'll see in today's lesson, Emuna Fitness is functional fitness, helping you live a healthier and happier life. That said, we'll now learn how to properly do one of the most important and functional exercises there are - the Farmer's Carry:

Hashem Loves Me

Hashem Loves Me
A young farmer had taken a beating because of the drought in his area. He had just completed fall planting, and he really needed a rain for the seeds to germinate, otherwise, he'd have to irrigate with a tremendous amount of expense and work. He drove into the city to arrange a loan at the bank. He parked his car, and while walking to the bank, the clouds burst. You can see the farmer's reaction in the above photo. He doesn't need the bank anymore. He's singing at the top of his lungs, Hashem Loves Me!

Do you know why people are walking around unhappy? Rav Shalom Arush shlit'a teaches that either they know nothing about Hashem, or they have all the wrong ideas about Hashem. Emuna begins with the this basic fact that you'll learn in Rav Shalom's amazing feature article in this week's new issue of Breslev Israel web magazine - Hashem Loves Me - don't miss it!

Other people have their pride movements, so do we. Are you getting ready for Jewish Pride Week? It'll be a big one this year, in every single city, and it's only two weeks away. Rav Lazer Brody gives all the details here at Jewish Pride Week.

Also featured this week:

Racheli Reckles - The Anorexic Woman 

Yehudit Channen - Watch Your Mouth

David Ben Horin - The Zuckerberg Dividend

Lori Steiner - Thank You, Hashem - Because of the fires in Southern California, Lori and her family have had to evacuate their home. We here at the Beams and at Breslev Israel are praying for your safety, Lori, and your safe and speedy return home.

Eshther Abta - The Ripple Effect

Yehuda Gerlitz - Ten Times is the Trick

Enjoy, and have a fantastic new week!

Pittsburgh, Wild Fires and Hamas Rockets

I didn't want to write about Pittsburgh or the wild fires, but people have been repeatedly requesting. So before I write, I recite this short prayer and ask Hashem to illuminate my eyes to the message He wants to convey to our people wherever they are, in Israel and abroad. I pray that Hashem should guide me to truth, which as Rebbe Nachman teaches, can only be attained through emuna and self-nullification. Hashem, let this post be for Your honor exclusively and for the good of our people, amen!

On Shabbat, Oct. 27, 2018, the angel of death masquerading as arch Jew-hater Robert Bowers entered the Shabbat morning services of the "Tree of Life" synagogue in Pittsburgh and gunned down eleven of our holy brethren, of blessed and sacred memory, all martyrs, including a 97-year-old woman, a husband and wife, and two brothers. Yes, they were conservative Jews but all hand-picked by Hashem to be holy martyrs. Why holy martyrs? Our people, because of a certain blemish they've not yet overcome, need martyrs to atone for them. The angel of death and his accomplices such as the Neo-Nazis and other terrorists simply do the dirty work. Guns fire bullets; the martyrs' deaths according to Kabbalah was death by fire.

At the time of this writing, the fires in California have taken the lives of 48 people that authorities know about; that number is expected to rise as rescue teams make it into areas that they previously had no access to. Over 8000 people have lost their homes, many of them Jews. Many others have been evacuated (remindful of Gush Katif?). They are now in a double exile, or an exile within an exile. This is a double atonement, not only for them but for all of our people. The Gemara says that losing one's assets is tantamount to death. This atonement and cleansing of sin here is again by fire.

By no small coincidence, when the final campaigning for the runoff of the municipal elections in Israel was taking place, and Jews were slinging the worst type of mud at one another including the worst type of infighting between different camps of Orthodox Jews, Hostilities broke out in Gaza. 470 missiles rained down on the south of Israel, also leading to repeated exile - from homes to bomb shelters. Miraculously, only one person was killed but many suffered loss of homes just like our brethren in Southern Califormia. I repeat - missile fire - once again, the atonement and cleansing of sin here is again by fire, and that's after the recent weeks where thousands of acres in the south of Israel have been burned by wild fires caused by incendiary balloons from Gaza. Once more, the culprit of fire.

Pittsburgh, California, Sderot or Ashkelon - it doesn't matter. We are one people like one body. The schism between American and Israeli Jews is inane. OK, there's an ideological difference between Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews - granted. But we're all brothers. The intramural hate destroyed the holy Temple. Our sages call the intramural hate, fire of contention.  This comes from one of King Solomon's sayings (Proverbs 25:24) which says, "It is better to dwell in a roof corner than in a house with with the fire of contention." 

Your dictionary will define contention as discordconflictfrictionstrifedissension, and/or disharmony. Is this not the state of the Jewish People today? My beloved teacher Rav Shalom Arush constantly calls for an end to this. He warns against speaking detrimentally against any other Jew on earth, even those who cause us the worst grief. Do we hear any other voice saying the same thing, or do we only hear the so-called leaders who despise other Jews "for the sake of Hashem". When will they ever learn?

The fire of Pittsburgh, California and the South of Israel all come to atone for the fire of contention and intramural hate.

Guess what:

Almost a thousand years ago, the holy Rabbi Yehuda HaChassid said that an enemy can not touch a hair on a Jewish head until one Jew harms another Jew, even verbally. The holy Chafetz Chaim said the same thing before he left this world, less than nine decades ago. Do you realize what that means?

Any Jew who hates any other Jew - no matter the color, origin, creed or ideology - creates a negative spiritual force that embodies itself in a terrorist, a missile or a wildfire. Anyone who doesn't do immediate teshuva for hating their fellow Jew cannot say, "My hands did not spill the blood of Pittsburgh, give power to Hamas, or fan the fires of California.

For our own future, let's start loving one another. One cannot love a fellow Jew unless he/she first strengthens themselves in emuna, believing that we all have the same Father in Heaven, for the Torah tells us that we are His children. Nothing gives a parent more pleasure when his/her children love each other. May we all follow the path of loving one another and may this be the end of sorry for our people everywhere, amen.

Iron Dome, Ceasefire: There's no one but Hashem

Iron Dome
According to the IDF scorecard after the first 370 missiles were fired in yesterday's hostilities (today brought the score up to 450 by the time the ceasefire came into effect at 3:30 PM our local time), the Iron Dome missile missile-defense system succeeded in intercepting only 100 of them. That's less than 30%, nowhere near a passing grade in any classroom (or battlefield). Two years ago, the Iron Dome was knocking down more than 80%. What that means is that Hamas uses every ceasefire to upgrade. Their new missiles, courtesy of Iran and Syria, are sophisticated enough to outsmart the Iron Dome, as the direct hits on homes and factories unfortunately bear witness to.

This evening, many residents in the south are demonstrating and burning tires to protest the ceasefire, whose terms Hamas virtually dictated. Hamas is parading the streets of Gaza in glee, celebrating the bloody nose it gave Israel.

Yes, Israel's political leaders are loquacious and indecisive. But with emuna, we know that it's Hashem who makes them act that way. Once again, we see another inexplicable round of violence and an even more inexplicable ceasefire, a cycle that has become biannual over here.

Hashem wants to show us that we can't depend on political leaders. Even if we replace the current ones, their replacements will act the same once they sit down in those cushy velvet chairs around the coalition's mahogany table. Hashem is also showing that we certainly can't on Iron Dome either. We can only depend on Him.

Despite everything, Hashem still did tremendous miracles. 450 missiles fell, there was all kinds of chaos and property damage, yet only one person was killed - not even an Israeli - but a worker from the PA village of Halhoul illegally sleeping over in Ashkelon. There were no Jewish Israeli fatalities!

Hashem is giving us another chance to learn emuna and do teshuva. Once we do, we're home free. But, if people simply use the respite to go back to their sidewalk cafes, then the next round of hostilities will be even worse. What's more, if Iron Dome's success against Gaza was a mere 27% (flunking Fall Semester midterms against Gaza, 2018), what will it be against Hizbollah, whose firepower is twenty times that of Gaza?

Teshuva and emuna - there is no other alternative. That's why we say that emuna is our future.

Updates, Attacks on South of Israel

I'd much rather write about emuna and good health, but the 4oo+ rockets that have fallen so far in the last 24 hours in the south of Israel are quite an acute threat to our health. Here are the latest updates with illustrations:

  1. Rocket fire continues from Gaza - the image directly below shows what the skies of the Eshkol area in South Israel look like this morning. Sky 13 Nov 2018
  2. The 19-year old soldier who was critically wounded yesterday when a Hamas guided missile (courtesy of Iran) hit a bus yesterday only moments after 50 other soldiers got off it is from Ashdod.
  3. Of the dozens injured yesterday, some 15 are still in the hospital. Two women are critical, injured in the same barrage that took the life of a man in Ashkelon yesterday, killed in his sleep. The two women were rescued after courageous civil defense and first-aid personnel pulled them out of the rubble. (See image below, apartment block in Ashkelon that was hit last night). Ashkelon  13 Nov
  4. School an public gatherings from Ashdod to Beersheva, which are now on alert, have been cancelled today. Hamas is threatening to expand their bombing to Ashdod and Beersheva; meanwhile, the rocket fire has affected the radius from Gaza to Ashkelon, Ofakim and Netivot. (See adjacent map). South of Israel
  5. A missile fell in the playground of a Shaar Hanegev kindergarten this morning. Thank G-d, no one was there.

Meanwhile, things are very tense and we have no idea what will happen in the coming hours. May we hear good things from each other. Anyone who wants to help the security of Israel, and that of Jews all over the world, should stop the idiotic intramural baseless hate, right now.