30 posts from March 2016
Pick up a Gemara. Nothing in the world will build your brain muscle like a Gemara. And it's the toughest form of resistance training too - wait till you see the resistance that you get from the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) the minute you decide to pick up a Gemara.
I invite you to visit an old age home in the ultra-Orthodox areas of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. Don't be alarmed when you walk into the Bet Midrash (study hall, which every Charedi old age home has), and you'll find two spry nonagenarians animatedly waving their hands in the air, banging on the table and yelling at each other while arguing a point in Talmudic logic and debate. There's no one here with Alzheimer's - these old gents have been doing resistance training for their brains all their lives. Maybe many of their body functions are limited, but they suffer no atrophy of the mind. Their brains work hard.
The Koreans have always been pioneers in fitness. It's no surprise that the Talmud (Mishna and Gemara) has become a smash bestseller in Korea. The Koreans too want to strengthen their brains...
How is it that Alzheimer's is so rare in the Torah world? While 11% of the general population in the USA over age 65, and 32% of the population over the age of 85 suffers from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, the estimated numbers are less than a tenth of that among Torah scholars. Take for example Rabbi Leib Steinman shlit'a, one of this generation's greatest spiritual leaders - he's past 100 and his mind is still razor sharp. So were the minds of Rabbi Vosner and Rabbi Elyashiv, of sacred and blessed memories, who left us in recent years, both well over 100 years old.
What is it about the Gemara that strengthens the mind so much? First of all, it's Divine nutrition for the brain as opposed to the passive junk-food that most people feed their brains today. Second, understanding the Gemara requires conscious, sustained mental effort - it does for the brain what an HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout does for the body. Even when a person gets up from his Gemara session, his mind is still contempleting what he learned, just like the afterburn effect of a good workout. Third, learning with a chavruta (learning partner) forces the Gemara learner to be alert, attentive and mentally sharp. There's no boredom here. In fact, chavruta-style learning is fantastic for those who are kinesthetic or audial learners, because of the back-and-forth give-and-take style of learning where it's OK to fly out of your chair, learn standing up or any way else you like.
Bottom line - for a strong mind, nothing beats a Gemara.
The world is like a mirror: when you love something, it loves you back. Here is the video replay of one of my recent hashkafa lectures in the Chut Shel Chesed Kollel in Jerusalem. Enjoy and have a day full of smiles!
Don't miss today's super vital and practical emuna shiur and live broadcast from Jerusalem, entitled, "The Steps to Success," which takes place 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 week on Lazer Beams.
Do you have trouble focusing? Does your child?
Five years ago, I wrote an article Diet and Child Temperament on Breslev Israel that the right diet is oftentimes enough to solve the problem of ADHD. People don't realize that the same folks who tell you what's safe to eat and what's not - the ACSH (American Council on Science and Health) - are heavily funded by Monsanto, Pfizer, Merck, Coca Cola, Pepsi Coal and other white-collar corporate junkies who want to poison our children with empty carbs, sugars and GMO's, then label them ADHD and feed them Ritalin for the rest of their lives (please read "Shedding Light on Genetically Engineered Food" by Dr. Beth Harrison).
In addition to the problem of faulty nutrition, many so-called educational specialists misinterpret a child's inability to sit still for 8 hours as ADHD, when in actuality, the child is a kinesthetic learner. Kinesthetic learners need to move around and work manually with ideas. They touch things a lot. Smells and textures are important. They get bored just sitting still in class just listening. The more activity they experience while doing a skill, the better they learn it. I myself was a classical kinesthetic learner; I didn't swing from the rafters like hyperactive kids did, but I would daydream and doodle all day long, completely out of focus with what was going on in class. My best subjects were botany and biology, where there was much hands-on lab work. If your child is a Kinesthetic learner, do what King Solomon says - educate him according to his talents, aptitudes and particular style of learning ( see Proverbs 22:). Don't be trigger happy to shoot your child down with negative labels.
I'm happy to introduce you to a brother-in-arms, Dr. Josh Axe, MD, fitness expert and doctor of functional medicine. Doctor Josh himself was labeled as ADHD as a child - that didn't stop him from becoming one of the tops in his field. This vid is a must-see for parents, or for anyone who thinks he/she suffers from ADHD: Before you reach for the Ritalin, got the processed foods and the white sugar out of your child's diet - give him a teaspoon of fish oil or cod liver oil in the morning.
Now, let's listen to Dr. Josh's advice - it's spot on:
One of the important lessons that we learn from the mitzvah of the Red Heifer, which we'll be reading in the haftara this coming Shabbat, which is known as "Shabbat Parah", is that the same entity contains equal and opposite powers. Two people can essentially follow the same path - one will succeed and one will fail; one will be upright and the other will be corrupt. It's not necessarily the path we follow, it's where our desires want to go, as we learn in Double Dimensions, my article for Shabbat Parah in our new issue of Breslev Israel web magazine, your spiritual multiple vitamin for this week.
Few people in the world are ethically honest; worst of all, they lie to themselves. They first decide what they want, then build an ideology that accommodates their urges. That's not the way to find truth, as we learn in Truth: No Room for Lust, my elaboration on this week's Torah portion, Shmini.
Also featured this week:
Rabbi Shalom Arush - Clean Money
Dr. Zev Ballen - What am I Doing Wrong
Racheli Reckles - Heavenly EBS
Dovber Halevi - Lesson from an Iranian
Sunny Levi - Labels are for Shirts
David Perlow - The Better Friend
Steve Gardner - The Good Doctor
Enjoy, and G-d bless for a fantastic new week!
While our neighbors here in the Middle East are busy killing people as well as exporting murder to all points abroad and most recently Belgium, we here in Israel are busy healing people and extending humanitarian aid all over the world, sometimes before people's own governments act. When an earthquake devastated Haiti, an Israeli relief team of over 200 medical professionals arrived within 24 hours. When a typhoon crippled the Philippines, Israelis were there within 36 hours after Philippine medical facilities utterly collapsed. To quote one American relief volunteer, "The Israelis, who come from the other side of the world, get here before the government does!"
Since the Beams is dedicated to health of body, mind and soul, we thought it appropriate to feature Rachel Lester's award-winning video clip, "One Call Away". It's important for the truth to be told. See for yourself and have a wonderful new week: