111 posts categorized "Inspiration"

Just the Way You Are

The Way You Are
If you think that you are any less beautiful than the baby or the flowers pictured above, you are sorely mistaken. No matter what you think, Hashem - Who created you - loves you just the way youa re.

People think that if they're not millionaires, in the headlines, Rosh Yeshiva or member of Congress, that they're failures. That's just not so.

I said I love you and that's forever
And this I promise from the heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are.

The above lyrics come from Billy Joel's famous hit, "Just the Way You Are", which spent months in the Top Ten back in 1977. Today, I look at those lyrics and interpret them as Hashem talking to the soul - yours - which He created. Hashem says, "I love you just the way you are."

Don't miss today's emuna lesson and live broadcast from Jerusalem entitled "Just the Way You Are", which will take place, G-d willing, on the ground-floor main sanctuary of the Chut Shel Chessed Yeshiva on 13 Shmuel Hanavi Street in Jerusalem at 7 PM Israel time; the shiur is open to the public - both men and women are invited. You can see today's lesson here - the broadcast, as well as our lessons posted from now on - are Mac and iPod compatible. If you tune in too early to the live broadcast link, you'll be sent to the main page of the Breslev Israel website, so try to tune in on time.  If you are not able to view today's broadcast live, then G-d willing, you'll be able to see the video tape of it later this coming week on Lazer Beams. 

And for your Oldie-but-Goodie enjoyment, here's Billy Joel from way back, singing "Just the Way You Are." Enjoy it!


The Miracles of Hanit

Today is Memorial Day in Israel for our martyred soldiers, of sacred and blessed memory.

Hanit Image at left courtesy of Haaretz.com shows the Israeli Missile boat "Hanit" being tugged into Ashdod port after having been hit by a Hizbulla missile off the Beirut shore on July 14, 2006, during the Second Lebanon War.

17 October, 2006. A young Israeli Naval sergeant boarded the northbound train in Tel Aviv. I was on my way to a present a lecture in the Haifa area and he was returning to his base in the Haifa port. He sat down across from me, looking at me intently while I was learning my Gemara. I looked up at him, smiled, said "Shalom aleichem!"

He sighed deeply, as if relieved, and sheepishly asked, "Can I talk to you, Rav?"

"Of course," I answered, asking him how he knows that I'm a "rav". He said that he heard me eulogize one of his fallen friends during the war. The sailor had a relatively new beard, an almost new knitted kippa on his head, and the beautifully pure innocence in his eyes of a new Ba'al Teshuva. To make a long story short, he was a crewman on board the Israeli Navy ship Hanit (Hebrew for bayonet) when it was hit by a missile of shore in Beirut.

The sailor, who we'll call Moshe, began to relate the dozens of miracles that happened aboard the Hanit the night that it was hit. "It was Friday night. Usually, the crew would eat Friday night dinner in two shifts. But this time, since we were in a war zone, our three religious crewmen went to Lt. Col. A - the skipper - and begged that we all need Hashem's help. The first miracle is that the skipper agreed to leave only 4 sailors on the bridge, and allowed the whole entire crew to pray together; we piled into the chapel, and said a lengthy mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat. I was bored and wanted to eat quickly then catch a few hours sleep, because I had the midnight watch. But, I stayed with the rest of the crew. Then, all of us had a Shabbat meal together - 15 different sailors said Kiddush, each in the custom of his fathers; I'm talking about guys that aren't (weren't) even religious! The meal was drawn out - I had a headache and was dying to sleep. The religious guys started to say the grace after the meal, and BOOOFF! The missile hit, but on the opposite end of the craft. It should have sank the boat, but it hit a crane right above the chopper landing pad. What a miracle! If that's not enough, the helicopter-refueling tank - filled to the gills with chopper fuel - didn't explode despite the fact that the whole end of the boat was burned..."

At least twenty other crewmen aboard the Hanit should have been killed, but they were saved by Shabbat dinner on the other end of the ship. The four on the bridge all lost their lives.

Moshe had beads of sweat on his forehead; tears glistened in his eyes. "The newspapers don't write about the miracles that we all saw. I ran to my bunk on the deck right below the landing pad. It was charcoal; my metal bunk was completely melted down and all my possessions were ashes. If I hadn't been detained in the chapel and in the dining hall for Shabbat meal, I'd have been charcoal too. I haven't stopped thanking Hashem since - I've changed my life..."

Moshe continued with more miracles, including the engine room burnt to a crisp but a pair of tefillin was found unscathed. If that's not enough, amidst the embers of destruction, the sailors found a Book of Psalms - also unscathed - opened to Psalm 124. Read Psalm 124 and your hair will stand up!

The train was nearing my station, so I gave Moshe a blessing and a fatherly embrace, and we parted. The Hanit took a direct hit from a Hizbulla missile, but Moshe has turned the navy's setback into a victory.

*******

Every day, I meet more and more "Moshes". Unlike many of the politicians, the Israeli on the street - especially the soldiers and the reservists - are diamonds looking to be polished, and have started to ask the real questions in life. They're looking for emuna. Were it not for the wars here, they wouldn't have bothered. 

The whole purpose of the wars is to bring us closer to Hashem. Once we get close to Hashem on our own initiative, Hashem won't have to send us wars anymore, amen. I'd much prefer dancing with Moshiach to eulogizing fallen comrades.


V'hi She'amda: The Eternal Promise

There's a major difference between Hashem and political leaders: He keeps His promises whereas they don't. Seder night is proof...

Political leaders should really be in the furniture business, because all they care about is the chair they sit on. Ideology? Truth? You will find neither in politics, whether you look at the right, center or left. With that in mind, maybe now, our people around the globe will finally learn that there's no one to trust but Hashem. We certainly can't trust those who change their opinions as frequently as they change their socks and prefer political expediency to justice and truth. So, my Pesach-eve message to my cherished brothers and sisters, especially here in Israel, is that it's time that we all come back to Hashem in complete teshuva, asking His forgiveness for any trust we put in human beings, in Israel or abroad.

The Gemara (tractate Sanhedrin 97b) says that the Nation of Israel (aka the Jewish People) will be redeemed as soon as they make teshuva, in other words, return to Hashem and the ways of His Torah. The Gemara then asks, what happens if the Nation of Israel doesn't make teshuva? Rebbe Yehoshua answers that if Israel doesn't make teshuva, then Hashem places them under the influence of a wicked king whose evil decrees are as severe as Haman's, and then they make teshuva.

We cannot fathom The Almighty's love for us and His infinite mercy. Despite the fact that we haven't made Teshuva from Love, which is what we need to do in order to be redeemed, and despite the fact that our own misdeeds put us under the boot of each generation's wicked kings, Hashem has made an eternal promise to deliver us from their hands. That's the V'hi She'amda prayer that we recite each year in the Haggada.

Let me share with you something additional about Hashem's love for His people: The Heavenly Altar and Throne is known as Upper Jerusalem; it is situated directly above Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which is known in the Zohar, Midrash, and Gemara as Lower Jerusalem. Hashem refuses to dwell in Upper Jerusalem until His permanent dwelling on earth - the Holy Temple - will be rebuilt in Lower Jerusalem (see Gemara tractate Taanit 5a, Midrash Tehillim 122, Vilna Gaon's elaboration of Zohar, Safra DeTzniuta, ist Chapter). Many evil world leaders are denying our right to the area of our own Holy Temple. Once again, we have no cause to be angry at them, for as soon as we make real teshuva, they will crumble. But, until we make teshuva, those evil leaders should be forewarned that by disenfranchising Israel from what they call East Jerusalem, they are in effect trying to disenfranchise The Almighty. Cherished brothers and sisters, that won't happen, period.

Hashem has no gratification by forcing us to make teshuva. When we strengthen our emuna and seek Hashem on our own accord, we sanctify His Holy Name. Let's wake up, beloved brothers and sisters. It's either nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles or emuna books and CDs; the choice is ours. Now you can understand why Emuna Outreach is working so hard to spread emuna around the globe - Rav Shalom Arush says that every emuna book or CD neutralizes one ballistic missile. When Moshiach comes, he'll show us all how emuna saved lives; the Gemara says that anyone who saves one life is considered as if he or she saved an entire world.

V'hi She'amda is a Passover song whose words come from the Haggada. It conveys a very timely message for the Jewish people: He who stood by our forefathers stands by us to deliver us from the hands of our enemies in every generation.

One of Jewish music's favorite sons, my dear friend Yonatan Razel, wrote a beautiful melody for this song, which he sings here with the king of Jewish singers, my very special friend Yaacov Shwekey. You'll get shivers up your spine and tears in your eyes listening to them. We're sure you'll enjoy this musical treat as much as we do. Enjoy it and have a wonderful Shabbat, Seder night and Passover holiday!


WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE?!

CandlesAfter the horrific mass murder of 17 innocent children in a place that was supposed to shield them from the outside world, a place where parents shouldn't have to worry about whether or not their child will return home alive from school that day, the American People are outraged.

They are outraged that people like Nikolas Cruz are able to acquire guns and simply walk into a school and start a killing spree. 

I'd just like to elaborate on a question that David, one of our dear readers, asked regarding my last post: "WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE??" His point: When the Jews do something, anything to defend themselves against terrorists, the world is outraged.

We all know the story line. How dare we protect and defend our land and our People from insane terrorists whose mission in life is to run people over, blow them up, and stab them to death. How dare we even refer to them as terrorists! 

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE when the bomb-loving terrorists kill our innocent people and then hand out candies to celebrate? 

Let's switch our focus back to this latest tragedy. Yes, people are outraged. 

But at what?

Some are outraged at the fact that Cruz was able to acquire firearms and ammunition. So they're outraged at the Second Amendment. While I don't want to get into a debate about the Second Amendment, I'd just like to point out that making it illegal or very difficult to buy guns just makes it harder for the good people to defend themselves, which, by the way, everyone still has the right to do. We have this little thing called a Constitution, which gives Americans some rights that most people with common sense actually appreciate. 

Others are outraged at President Trump, though I really don't understand why. Their outrage is so misdirected that we end up with morons telling a poor father who was looking for his murdered daughter that he had it coming to him because he wore a t-shirt that showed he was a Trump supporter. 

While everyone is outraged by this absolute nightmare of a tragedy, Hashem have mercy, I have my own set of outrage questions:

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE against Big Pharma, criminal drug pushers who are responsible for putting MILLIONS of people and children on dangerous, unproven drugs whose side effects are usually worse than the diseases themselves?

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE against all of the pedophiles, rapists, and molesters that are allowed to hold high positions in office and run the country?

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE against men who leave their wives and children because they couldn't control their libidos?

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE against abusive spouses, parents, and guardians?

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE against leaders of countries who are committing rape, child trafficking, civil war, and genocide on a mass scale?

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE against the soul-destroying agenda of the Transgender movement, who is setting up innocent children for a lifetime of self-hate and confusion - and possible suicide?

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE against the UN and all anti-Semitic countries who are doing everything they can to make the State of Israel go bye-bye?

I'll tell you where the outrage is.

It's in Facebook, where people are so busy insulting each other, cutting each other down, and trying to show the world that they're the wisest prophet to have ever walked the Earth. Seriously?! What is the meaning of getting into conversations, arguments, and revealing your darkest secrets with total strangers? Am I missing something here?

Is life so much more exciting when you don't know who you're talking to?

We've become so numb to reality, it seems we're living more in our phones than in real life. Even people sitting in a restaurant at dinner, in the elevator, even at home with their kids - most have their faces about 12 inches from the screen of their phones. 

Instead of being outraged by nonsense, let's be outraged by the fact that we're losing precious time on social media and online activities that don't serve any constructive purpose. People, we can never get that time back!

How much time have we lost by having arguments with total strangers on social media? Time that we could have used to make our families' dinner a bit earlier, have the house straightened up by the time the kids got home, or even have all of our work finished - at work? 

Stop and think...

The world is getting more insane by the minute.

What do we want to do with the precious few moments we have with our loved ones? With our lives? 

Will we continue to throw them into the social media sewer?

Or will we decide to put that phone down and spend real quality time with the ones we love?

The choice is yours.

~Racheli