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11 posts from October 2011

The Barometer of Joy

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On Simchat Torah, we spend hours dancing with the Torah scrolls, both at night and during the following morning. We rejoice at our annual completion of reading the Torah, and during the same festival, we begin to read the Torah from the beginning once more. Surely, this is a joyous holiday; but why do we dance until our clothes are literally soaked and until we can barely stand up?

Rebbe Natan of Breslev writes (Sichot HaRan, 299), "It was my custom to see the Rebbe (Rebbe Nachman - LB) every year after Simchat Torah. He would always ask me if I truly rejoiced on the festival. Many times he told me how the community celebrated in his house and how much pleasure he derived from their joy. Once, the Rebbe spoke to me about Simchat Torah in the middle of the year. He asked me, 'Do you now feel joy in your heart? Do you feel this happiness at least once a year?' … The Rebbe very much wanted us to be joyous all year round, particularly on Simchat Torah… The Rebbe told me that once on Simchat Torah he was so overjoyed that he danced all by himself in his room."

We learn several amazing lessons from the above discourse. First, that Rebbe Nachman attributed tremendous importance to being joyous on Simchat Torah; second, that Rebbe Nachman was very concerned that his Chassidim were joyous on Simchat Torah and derived enormous gratification when they actually were; third, that Simchas Torah is the time to harvest happiness – "joy in the heart" – for the whole year; and fourth, Rebbe Nachman himself danced as an expression of his joy.

Two special occasions in Judaism are the best-known times for dancing – weddings and Simchat Torah. The two are strikingly similar: A wedding is the celebration of the newly-created bond between bride and groom; Simchat Torah is the celebration of the renewed bond between the Torah, the spiritual bride that's betrothed to the People of Israel, the groom. The more a bride and groom rejoice in one another, the more fervently they dance. Rebbe Nachman had lofty goals for Reb Nosson, his chief disciple. Rebbe Nachman wanted Reb Nosson to attain the level of perfect, unblemished love of Torah. Therefore, he would question Reb Nosson every year about the latter's degree of happiness on Simchat Torah, for clearly, the level of one's rejoicing on Simchat Torah is the barometer for one's true love of Torah, as we shall see in the following parable, with Hashem's loving grace:

Continue reading Barometer of Joy on this week's special edition of Breslev Israel web magazine for Simchat Torah


The 2-minute anti-depression plan

Depressed? Worried? Anxious? Stressed out? That's not the way to be during Sukkot, for this is the season of joy, when you can fill yourself up with joy for an entire year...

Here's a fool-proof plan to help you feel 1000% better in 2 short minutes, without the aid of drugs, pills, or any other artificial substance, and with no need to leave your office or the room where your computer is located:

Follow the following instructions:

1) Remove your shoes.

2) Stand up, and take 3 deep breaths.

3) Click here.

4) Let yourself loose and begin 2 minutes of aerobics (what Chassidim call a Kazzatzke - all you need is about 10 square feet of empty floor space).

5) If you have the stamina, repeat the above cycle for longer-lasting joy.

Happiness gives you a direct line to holiness. Caught your breath? Good - now click on the music link and start dancing all over again.

Feel better? You bet!

Music by Breslev's outstanding clarinetist Chillik Frank, played in Miron this past Lag B'Omer and also frequently played during Simchat Beit Hashoeva during Sukkot.


A Thank-You Note to Hashem

To my beloved Father and King, may Your Holy Name be praised forever!

Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for the gift of Yom Kippur. I never cease to be amazed at the magnitude of Your kindness; You give us a day a year when You wipe our slates clean of all transgression. For the price of a day's fasting and repentance, You forgive us for everything! How can I begin to thank You?

Imagine that the President of Chase Manhattan declared a financial Yom Kippur, and declared that anyone who agreed to fast for a day and beg forgiveness for all their accumulated debts - no matter whether they swelled to hundreds of millions of dollars - would have all their debts erased and could receive a new line of credit. Unthinkable?!?

Wiping one sin off our soul is worth much more than any million-dollar debt cancellation. You're the greatest, Hashem; I'm so happy that You are my Father and my King.

Imagine one more thing; imagine that You withheld food and drink for 26 hours from a group of skinheaded rowdies, and then allowed them to eat and drink as much as they liked. How much beer would flow? How much would they stuff themselves? How well would they have behaved before they shattered both their fast and their skulls? We both know the answer...

Now look at Your Children of Israel; during the Neila prayer, after having fasted for over 24 hours already, they were praising Your Holy Name even more fervently than all day long. Once the fast was over, they had a quick coffee and piece of honey cake, ran to the Mikva, hurried to make the blessing of the New Moon, and then ran home to start building their Succas. Dearest Father, do you have any other nation on earth that can come to anywhere near to the dedication of Your Jewish children? We both know the answer to that, too. Therefore - with all our shortcomings - You can still seal all of us in Your Book of Long and Happy Life for a wonderful New Year 5772.

Thank You, beloved Tattie. Your loving son, Eliezer Raphael ben Chasia (Lazer)