71 posts categorized "Encouragement"

Insult: It's All for the Very Best

One of the foundation principles of emuna is that Hashem does everything for the very best. There are no exceptions to this rule, whether or not we understand how a given tribulation or difficulty can possibly be for the best or not. As hard as we try, we can't understand what and why Hashem is doing. But, when the brain kicks out, emuna kicks in.

Minor tribulations frequently spare us from major suffering. Take for example humiliation in public: someone mops the floor with us in such a way that we're humiliated in front of hundreds of people, like in synagogue on a major holiday. Such an ordeal is more than enough to save a person from a head-on collision, a heart attack, a stroke, or a direct hit from a Katyusha rocket; that is, if we accept the ordeal with emuna. Sure our face is flush with embarrassment, yet we react with emuna and not with rage and clenched fists. A bit of insult is a gift from Hashem, a purification and correction of our souls, and an atonement that eradicates stern judgments. It's a priceless tribulation that keeps our health and income intact.

We don't look for insults and humiliation, but once we get them, we should thank Hashem profusely.

True strength is when we have the strength to react forcefully, but we don't. 

We don't ask Hashem to punish whoever it is that's tormenting us. Yet, don't envy such a person; they have chosen the path of negative deeds and that's why they are negative messengers. Yet, they will have to pay the price of their actions.

In light of the above, don't envy a journalist who deliberately slanders an entire group of people with the express purpose of perpetrating hatred for his own popularity or monetary gain.

Just remember, the negative messenger is only a stick in Hashem's hands. But, even if we get hit with the stick, it's all for the very best. Thank You, Hashem!

Tough Opposition on the Field

Spiritual Growth
Dear Rabbi Lazer,

I'm writing this to you for two reasons: first, you don't know me and I feel really embarassed talking about this to a rabbi that knows me; and second, since you too are a Baal Teshuva, I'm hoping you can understand a fellow BT that was born in the spiritual gutters far away from Torah. I became observant about five years ago, when I finished my masters degree. As a university student and a popular dude at that, I guess you can say that I did about everything and enjoyed it too. I won't go into the reasons that I made teshuva, but I became very disgusted with my lusty lifestyle. I began to learn Torah and was drawn especially to the teachings of the Zohar. I did an about face and made serious efforts in developing my personal holiness. With daily mikva, daily teshuva, and total immersion Torah, I became a new person. Two years ago, I was introduced to a young lady who after three dates became my fiance. We are blissfully married, in no small thanks to The Garden of Peace, which I live by.

So what's my problem? I thought I had deleted my naughty x-rated past from my brain. On Rosh Hashanah, the Yetzer gave me a triple whammy. During Maariv on the first night, a really raunchy image flashed before my eyes which I won't describe, but it was something from the lowest part of my past. The same thing happened during Mussaf, and the same thing happened again the second night. When I should have been crowning the King, I was watching myself in x-rated movies from my own past, the exact opposite of holiness. Why did Hashem shtup me with these terrible thoughts? What could I possibly have done wrong to be pushed away like this? I had such aspirations of clinging to Hashem with real devotion in this year's prayers, and I blew it. I feel devastated and dejected, as if I've been totally defeated. What can I do? Please help me. Thanks so very much, David from California

Dear David,

The Yetzer - the Evil Inclination - wants you to think that you're a loser. The exact opposite is true - this year, you have attained a lofty and admirable soul correction. You're the winner, my man; here's how:

Back in your university days, you thoroughly enjoyed doing the lewd things that so embarassingly popped into your head during this past Yom Kippur. Yet now, the forbidden acts that you once enjoyed are now a source of shame. Your shame during Yom Kippur is not only a sign of humility and holiness, but a soul correction for the past. Having done teshuva out of love (hear our CD on the subject), your past transgressions now become valuable merits to your credit. What's more, when you did those wrong things, you didn't know they were wrong. You can be proud of yourself, for Hashem is proud of the unbelievable growth that you've made in five short years. Don't ever forget that spiritual growth and serving Hashem are like football - you can't gain an inch without facing tough opposition; that's why the rewards are so great. Keep plugging away, slowly but surely, for you'll be a big winner. Remember also that as a BT, you're now playing in a championship league. Be happy, David - you're doing great. With blessings for a meaning Yom Kippur and a wonderful year, LB

Laundry Lessons

Photo from Racheli Reckles (10)

What a gross picture. David took it. I always tell him he's a terrible photographer, especially when I have him take a picture of me. For some reason they always come out terrible. This picture makes it look like I live in the slums. In case you didn't know, my washer and dryer are outside because who the heck needs a washing machine in their kitchen? What, the kitchen wasn't small enough when they built this house? Oh, and a dryer? Like, what's that? Thank G-d I have one! In Israel it's a luxury because electricity is so expensive.

TODAY, finally, I got my washing machine back!! That's a week and a half without a washing machine! Insane!! I had to send my laundry out twice and pay crazy prices. Not only that, but the laundry didn't have any good smell, AND I had to open and re-fold everything! Their folding job wasn't the greatest and I'm a stickler for nicely folded clothes. My mother used to fold so perfectly, it's sickening.  

So... I'm going to say the words that I'd never, ever thought I'd say...

Thank G-d I can do laundry!! 

Have I completely lost my mind? Yes! But do you want to know the whole story? It's really something!

My washing machine suddenly stopped spinning. The technician told me it was nothing, banged on the bottom with the hammer, and miraculously the machine worked again. Then, it stopped working. Then, the guy came back and said the computer's fried, so he ordered a new one, which is really expensive. Then, he couldn't come back until Sunday. On Sunday, of course no one shows up and I finally get a call from the company telling me they're about to order the new computer.


WHY couldn't they order it on Wednesday, when the guy was there?! No sufficient answer. When is the part supposed to arrive?! Two weeks.


At that point the humor was gone, the emuna was gone, and all that was left was a very angry Iraqi customer screaming at "Customer Service" for their incompetence. 

But look at how Hashem does everything for the best. My friend told me to just get a private technician to look at it, since the only thing covered by warranty was the motor, and of course the company assured me it wasn't the motor. Amazing how they could diagnose the problem through the phone without having seen the machine. Genius that I am, I had never thought of getting someone private to come in. 

Later that evening, my neighbor who's an electrician came by to pick up his son. I just asked him as a side note, and he said he knew a great technician. He called him right away, and the guy came today and checked out my washing machine, and...

Whaddayknow?! It's the motor after all!! 

Believe me, if I had a little voodoo doll I would have been sticking knives in the first technician's eyes. The point is this: Hashem made the guy delay me by a week, and He made the people send the wrong part, just to give me enough time to get someone in there that would actually fix the machine!

If I hadn't hired this other guy, I would have spent a small fortune on a part I didn't need, waited two weeks to get it, then I would have had to spend another fortune on the motor, if they would have even figured it out at that point! And who knows? Maybe they would just try to convince me to get a new washing machine.

How ironic that the only part actually covered on the warranty was the motor. I suspect that they didn't check it on purpose so I would actually have to pay for something. Call it a conspiracy theory.

So, that's it. I'm thrilled to be able to do laundry again. YAY!!! It's amazing what you appreciate once it's gone. I think about the people in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and the Carribbean, and I realize how fortunate I am to have just a few days of minor inconveniences. These people have had their entire lives pulled out from under them. It's unfortunate that sometimes we have to lose what we had in order to appreciate it. 

Have a great week, and appreciate all of your blessings!

Let's see if I remember this laundry lesson next week...




The Fewest of the Nations

With the Tisha B'Av fast in Israel over already, now the time to move forward and strengthen ourselves.

This coming Shabbat is known as Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Consolation. Among other subjects, such as the Ten Commandments, here's what we'll be reading in this week's Torah portion:

"...for you are the fewest of all the nations.” (Deuteronomy 7:7).

People ask for proof that there's a God in the world. The Jewish People are that proof.

How long would a lamb last in a den of hungry lions? Before you count to ten, there wouldn't be a strand of wool left to floss your teeth with.

The greatest and mightiest civilizations have come and gone. Those who conquered the world no longer exist. Yet, the Jewish People defy all natural law. Despite the never-ending persecution and exile and the powerful enemies who have not only threatened but tried their utmost to rid the world of us, we are still here.

How do the Jewish People defy nature? Rebbe Nachman of Breslev explains that prayer is not only above nature, but it alters nature. Yet, for prayer to have the power to alter nature, it must be fueled with emuna. The person who prays must believe that Hashem hears his prayers and that Hashem can do whatever He wants whenever He wants. Rebbe Nachman stresses that the main manifestation of emuna is earnest prayer, which is capable of triggering miracles. What's more, he adds, this level of emuna that includes the prayers that are powerful enough to trigger miracles is native to the Land of Israel.

Be consoled, cherished brothers and sisters, for Hashem will undoubtedly show us tremendous miracles in the nearest future; meanwhile, our job is to strengthen ourselves in emuna, to smile, and to appreciate every blessing in life. Hashem, thank You for Your infinite loving-kindness!



Life is never boring around here. Tonight, one of my younger boys got a hold of a hammer that some naive and irresponsible parent let him play with, and was running around with the hammer in his hand. As much as I would love to blame David, he was at work, so I'm still looking for another alibi. I am confident that I'll come up with something. 

The strange thing is that I heard a bang while I was in the kitchen and I saw him running like a crazy person with a hammer in his hand, yet it didn't register that the bang was actually the hammer hitting something. I have no idea why! And then, like hours later, I was talking with my father as I was sitting on the couch, and in mid-sentence, my eye caught the massive scars running through the windowpane. 

I happened to be on video chat with my dad, and all he could see was me suddenly looking off to the side, my eyes bugging out and my jaw suddenly hanging three inches open. He was like, "What? What?" I couldn't answer him. All I did was show him the evidence. He shook his head in belief.

Thank God a million times that there was only one piece of glass on the floor, and that was it! And double thank God that the glass didn't actually break into a million pieces in the house. Also, considering the enormous time lapse between the breaking of the glass and my realizing what happened, thank God no one stepped on any broken glass! Triple thank God that the glass didn't break the whole way through, because then there would be a huge hole in the window and freezing air would be coming in all night. And maybe a few chutzpah (nervy) cats. 

Instead of getting all freaked out about it, I realized that it happened for a reason, and that reason must definitely be to atone for hubby's sins. Because y'all out there know that I ain't got no sins. I have a talent for blaming everything I ever did wrong on my husband; even the things that I did before I met him. You know, because I was forced to spend much of my late teens and early '20's waiting for his sorry self to mature enough for me. Of course, the fact that no one got hurt made it much easier to accept this tribulation with love. I may be delusional, but I am not perfect. But maybe I am, if I'm delusional. I'm confusing myself. 

Just a question: if I identify as a perfect person, does that make me perfect? Like, if it works for people that want to identify themselves as the opposite gender and force people to recognize them as such, then why shouldn't it work for me? I've decided that I'm going to identify as a millionaire/perfect personality/gorgeous/dripping in diamonds and workout clothes/lady of leisure, and you're going to have to recognize me as such. And if you don't, I'm going to sue you in court for discrimination and not yielding reality to my warped fantasies. And I'm going to win. God bless America.

Back to the broken glass. You see, broken glass has the same gematria as kapparah, which means spiritual atonement. Like I said, it's much easier on the nerves and the stomach to recognize such unpleasant occurrences as a kapparah, and to be grateful that things weren't worse. Because what's the alternative? Torturing yourself? Wallowing in self-pity and wondering why this had to happen? Questioning if God loves you? Wondering if God even exists?

I tell you, emuna is the end-all and be-all of life. If we can train ourselves to believe that it's all good, especially when it looks all bad, this saves us tons of headache and heartache. Of course, in this case it doesn't save me the 1,000 shekel it's going to cost me to replace the window. Maybe Rav Arush can come up with a cure-all for that one, too.

Have an awesome day!


Keep Moving Forward

Coconut rice & vegetables

Mmmm, mmmm! Doesn't that look just delicious? Here's another one of my friend Tena's healthy and delicious creations. It's coconut rice and mixed vegetables. I'm so frustrated that I can't eat it right now. Tena, will you please reconsider moving in with me? I'll even let you put my kids to bed and spend 1-on-5 quality time with them while I'm out enjoying my peace and quiet. At least think about it. 

If you want this recipe, email me at racheli@breslev.co.il and I'll send it to you!

What does this picture have to do with the title of this post? Well, nothing, really. I didn't want to put a picture of a guy on a moving walkway, and I'm hungry, so I thought I could at least enjoy looking at yummy food if I can't eat it right now. But now I realized that I actually made things worse for myself. Great, my stomach is grumbling.

So let's talk about this title. What does it mean to move forward in life? It means that you're evolving in your personality and abilities. For example: I was realizing lately that I have greatly improved my Zumba skills, to the point where I'm not tripping over myself and bumping into other people. Okay, so I'm not really bad at all, but I have seen a great improvement. My sister calls me the JLo of Beit Shemesh. I kinda like that! 

As it happens, I love to lift weights as well. I've gotten to be friendly with many of the women in the gym, but I've noticed over the past 8 months that many of them stay at the same level they were on when I joined. In 8 months, I've increased the amount of weights I'm lifting several times. It's very motivating to see myself getting stronger.

But I wonder why some of the others stay at the same level of weights. I actually told one woman that she could clearly lift heavier weights, but she refused to even try, saying it was too hard. 

Unfortunately, this is how many of us behave in life. Hashem is trying to push us to the next level, but how many times do we refuse to budge because we think it will be too hard? Fear of the unknown and fear of failure can be completely incapacitating, and can cause us to freeze in our forward progression in life.

That's why emuna is so key. When we learn to trust Hashem, to believe that we can handle the situations He's trying to put us in for our own personal growth, this is when we are able to move forward. 

What about when things aren't clear? When we're not sure if the direction we're being pushed in is actually what Hashem wants for us? The only way to know is to talk to Hashem about it. Tell Him you're confused and you need clarity, so you can make the right decision. 

We all have so much untapped potential hiding inside of us; things that we can do that we never imagined were possible. Do you not know what your hidden talents are? Do you want to develop the talents that you're already aware of? Then ask Hashem for help! 

I really believe that everyone has a certain gift that Hashem gave them. Whether it's art, music, helping others, cooking, being empathetic, etc., each one of you has a special and brilliant diamond inside that's just waiting to sparkle. Your potential is so much greater than what you're aware of. You just have to ask Hashem to help you reveal it.

Wishing you a wonderful and insightful Shabbat!