Watch our dear friend Chassidic singer Shulem Lemmer sing "God Bless America" at Fenway Park on Sept. 16, 2018 in front of 35,000 people, during the 7th-inning stretch of the Mets - Red Sox game. This is a phenomenal sanctification of Hashem's Name - we can all be proud of Shulem. Clip courtesy of esteemed friend and Shulem's agent, Yochi Briskman, email@example.com
The Gemara tells the following story (Ketubot 66b): Rebbe Yochanan ben Zakai was riding on a donkey a short time after the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and vanquished Jerusalem. On the outskirts of the city, he saw a young woman gathering grains of undigested barley from amongst the droppings of Arab-owned cattle. As soon as she noticed him, she sprung to her feet, covered her hair and pleaded, "Rebbe, give me something to sustain myself." He asked her who she was. She answered that she was Nakdamon Ben Gurion's daughter, who before the destruction of the Holy Temple, was the richest man in Jerusalem.
Our sages comment on the above episode and say, "How fortunate you are, O Israel! When you do Hashem's will, you are above the angels; no nation can prevail over you. But when you don't do Hashem's will, you are not only subservient to the most contemptible of nations and even below their cattle, but you are even below the droppings of their cattle."
No, there's not much middle ground for a Jew - it's either good or evil. A tzaddik who maintains a standard of impeccable personal holiness is higher than an angel; he gives off the spiritual fragrance of Gan Eden. But a lowlife who breaches every clause of personal holiness stinks worse than the dung of an animal.
King Solomon in Song of Songs (7:3) describes the Jewish People who fulfill Hashem's will as a "fence of roses". Why a fence of roses? Why the juxtaposition of the beauty and the thorns? What's the praise here?
The Jewish Laws of modesty for women and personal holiness for men seem to many people like thorns in the side. They are! Their purpose is to keep people from toying with the roses, which symbolize the beauty of the Jewish woman. All unauthorized personnel must keep their distance. Anyone who doesn't look at what is not rightfully his by way of holy marital bond will certainly not touch what is not rightfully his. That's the fence of roses.
We learn fortitude from our forefather Abraham, who lived his life like a fish swimming against the strongest of currents. He's called Ivri, or Hebrew, which means literally "from the other side," for he stood on the side of justice and monotheism and the whole rest of the world stood against him. So there's nothing new under the sun...
We need a double dose of fortitude now, both on personal and national levels.
...saying no to the crowd even when they ridicule you;
...maintaining your personal holiness even when they call you a prude;
...swimming against the current of conformity to do what's right;
...standing firm on your principles.
Here's a Prayer for Fortitude. I wrote it to strengthen myself when things get tough. I'm happy to share it with you, beloved brothers and sisters. Have a great Shabbat!
Hey All! How was your month of holidays and too much food? I almost never want to see food again. At least not until lunchtime.
So let's talk about sugar, because most of us had waaayyyy too much of it this past month.
Now I know what you're thinking. Sugar isn't a drug. It's a processed food.
Well. Guess what.
It is a drug! And a very addictive one at that.
What Sugar Does To Your Brain
-Just like a street drug, sugar attacks and overwhelms the reward center of your brain, creating an insatiable craving for more.
-Sugar weakens your brain's cognitive function, leading you to lose self-control and buy too many pairs of shoes... or overeat. Or both.
Isn't it true? You can't have just one slice bite of cake, or one scoop of ice cream. Maybe you could, but you know that your brain will be screaming for more. You know, deep down in that bottomless stomach of yours, that one smidgen of anything sugary is not enough to satisfy you.
-Sugary foods activate a higher glucose response than non-sugary foods, which also leads to... more intense hunger! It's not just, "The more you eat the more you want." It's, "The more you eat, the more you need!"
-This higher glucose response is also strikingly similar to a drug response, because it creates an increasing level of tolerance. Meaning, the more you have, the more you'll need to get that same high.
And yes. Your brain is high when you eat sugar.
-I don't have to go into all that hyperactivity stuff, right? Everyone knows sugar makes you crazy hyper.
And then, after the high has worn off?
-You suffer from a looowwwww...... A real mental and emotional crash.
But don't worry! Another hit will fix that right up!
-Overdosing on the white poison has actually been linked to depression because of the ever-increasing dependency on the artificially caused Dopamine high.
-Over time, sugar actually causes your brain to shrink, which reduces mental capacity and cognitive function. Did I mention that already?
What Sugar Does To Your Body
-Aside from making you fat on the outside, did you know that sugar makes your organs fat, too?
Yup. That slimy fluff is lining your heart, your liver, pancreas, intestines, even your kidneys.
-Sugar causes an inflammatory response, which can lead to all sorts of pains, even rheumatoid arthritis. It's even being linked to Alzheimer's. Turns out amyloid plaques aren't the real cause of Alzheimer's.
-Too much sugar makes your insulin go wild, and leads to insulin resistance, which is chronically raised insulin. Insulin resistance leads to Type II Diabetes pretty quickly.
-Most people don't connect too much sugar with heart disease, but in fact there is a huge connection. Sugar causes the artery walls to grow faster than normal, in other words to thicken past what's healthy. That leads to high blood pressure, heart disease, and G-d forbid a heart attack.
Instead of processed garbage, you're better off eating a piece of fruit for your sugar fix. Granted it's not as exciting, but your body won't complain. I promise.
Most of this info I got from webMD, one of my least favorite websites. But I thought I'd humor you people out there who only believe in mainstream medical info.
Remember, it's a mitzvah to guard your health. What will you say to the Heavenly Court when they accuse you of suicide, because you ate garbage and caused an untimely death due to "natural causes"? This is no joke, people.
Over the next month, take it seriously easy on the sugar. Your body needs you. So does your family. And your friends. I assume. Unless they pretend to be your friends, but really hate your guts.
If you're the first person who properly interprets the above image, you'll get a nice prize in the mail, courtesy of Lazer Beams and Breslev Israel. The deadline for answers, which you can send to rabbilazer(at)breslev.co.il is October 31, 2018.
Too cryptic for you?
Here's the good news - I'm going to give you the answer in today's live emuna broadcast from Jerusalem, which will be rebroadcast, G-d willing, this coming Sunday here at the Beams.
Now for your first hint:
Each happening in life falls into the category of thought, speech and deed, or combination of them. Each thought, speech or deed, when assessed on a spiritual level, falls into one of four quality levels, which we'll learn today with Hashem's help. Today's lesson will give you unprecedented clarity that will enable you to assess yourself and everything you do, especially in light of Torah and Divine Will.
Join us for today's emuna lesson and live broadcast from Jerusalem entitled "Thought, Speech and Deed: Four Levels", 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.