A person's birthday is a time for self-assessment. What have I done and where am I going? What does it mean to be an independent Jewish nation? Let's ask ourselves some tough national questions and seek some answers:
Imagine that you're invited to a reception in the King's Palace. Would you show up dressed like the individual in the above photo? If you did, you'd be quickly ushered out the back door by burly guards with six-poles...
One of the lessons we learn in this week's Torah portion "Emor" is that acceptable behavior in a discotheque or in a tavern is not necessarily acceptable behavior in the cockpit of an airliner, and certainly not in the King's Palace. Read all about it in the Airborne Inebriate, one of my two feature articles in this week's new issue of Breslev Israel web magazine.
Did Moses really know everything? Why didn't he invent wireless technology? Why didn't all the Children of Israel enjoy the convenience of iPhones and microwave ovens? See your amazing answer in The Buzz and the Bees.
Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's time in putting together a coalition is running out. Before Shabbat, he received a 2-week extension and now he only has 12 days left. The negotiations are like a short blanket - if he covers his head, his feet are outside; if he covers his feet, his head is outside. In like manner, when he pleases one prospective coalition partner, his displeases another. What should he do?
If Bibi were to ask me, I'd take him out to the beach south of Ashdod after sundown, and teach him how to talk to Hashem. If he'd throw the whole problem in Hashem's lap, he'd see how fast he gets a solution...
Bibi a Breslever? Am I pipe dreaming? For sure, not! Wait and see how many people will be making teshuva in the coming six months. Big things are about to happen, and no one will be able to sit on the fence anymore.
A bright Beams blessing and thanks to Rosy Afriat and the Doniger Family for sharing the following image with us...
I am a 20-year-old college sophomore in the US, and lately I have been worrying about whether or not I am on the right path in life. I know I'm still young, but I feel I am ready to be married and start a family, and I live somewhere with very few Jewish males, none of whom are particularly religious. While I've always pictured myself as finishing college, lately I am not sure if this is the right thing to do. I was always an excellent student but lately I have been having a very difficult time finishing assignments because my mind is elsewhere, and even so, the liberal arts program I'm in is not likely to lead to many career opportunities. Also, so unbelievably many random things keep going wrong, making it more difficult to continue in school, and I don't know whether to take this as a sign from Hashem that maybe I should head in a different direction, or just as another challenge in life to overcome. I don't want to waste any more time if this is not what I should be doing with my life, and end up unmarried, having wasted what should be an exciting time in life on unfruitful studes. Should I spend at least the next two-plus years finishing my BA degree, or is it time to change directions? I would greatly appreciate any advice you might offer. Thank you so much for your time.
Wishing you happiness always like you make others happy, Alicia in the western USA
Good girl - you've done a good job of understanding the messages that Hashem has sent you. It's definitely time for you to seriously search for the right person and to raise a family.
The restlessness in your soul is straight from Hashem. A liberal arts program in a university is a waste of your valuable time and money. As far as a livelihood goes, you can take one of many inexpensive aptitude tests available on the web, determine a skill you like, and then pursue a six-month occupational course, such as computers, graphic design, dental tech, or whatever. So, I recommend that you check out of university, move to an area where there are Jewish studies for women your age, and then simultaneously strengthen your Judaism and acquire an occupational skill.
On the other hand, my blue-chip advice for you would be to come to Israel, enroll in a women's seminar for Jewish Studies such as Midreshet Beerot Bat Ayin which I'm sure you'll love, or EYHAT (Aish Hatora women's seminary) or Neve Yerushalayim as possible alternatives. That way you'll be able to strengthen your Judaism and find the exact guy you want. You'll be a smashing success, G-d willing. May Hashem bless you and lead you in the right path. Feel free to write. With blessings, LB
Lazer with security forces in the holy city of our Patriarchs Hevron, during a day of Emuna Outreach lectures at the Machpela Cave
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev explains that a person's quest for peace must be threefold - between him/herself and G-d, between him/herself and the Jewish people as a whole, and within him/herself.
In order to develop a harmonious approach to life as a whole, one must develop the ability to find Hashem's presence everywhere and in everything. That way, a person can feel love for Hashem regardless of the situation - whether things are good or seemingly bad.
If a person doesn't love G-d, he or she won't feel love for a fellow Jew. Therefore, the love of G-d is a prerequisite for ahavat Yisrael, the love of fellow Jews. Ahavat Yisrael leads to peace and unity; peace and unity among our people will hasten the redemption, soon and in our time, amen.
Birthdays are days of introspection. Since Israel Independence Day is the birthday of the modern Jewish state, let's assess ourselves and see why we have so many difficulties...
Today's shiur, entitled "Emuna and Independence," will take this evening (Wednesday), G-d willing, at 7:00 PM local time at our Chut Shel Chessed Yeshiva, 13 Shmuel Hanavi Street, Jerusalem, in the main sanctuary. 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
As always, the live shiur is open to the public - both men and women are welcome - so if you're anywhere near Jerusalem, come on by! 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 on this coming Sunday's Lazer Beams.
Today is Memorial Day in Israel for our martyred soldiers, of sacred and blessed memory.
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 Tshuva. 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.
Why do we count the Omer? If we are looking forward to Shavuot so much, why not count how many days left rather than how many days have transpired since Pesach? Enjoy this week's 40-minute emuna lesson, and we hope it will make your Omer so much more meaningful.