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20 posts from April 2016

Serving the same G-d

During the Omer, we must make a special effort to love, and at least respect, our fellow human. We curtail music and rejoicing during this time of the year because of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students who died in a plague. Yes, they were lofty Torah scholars, but they didn't properly respect one another. We must rectify this... 

The Melitzer Rebbe shlit'a told me the following story about his great grandfather, Rebbe Meir'l of Promiszlan. Keep it in mind before allowing yourself the "luxury" of feuding with a fellow Jew:

Serving the same G-d

Rebbe Meir'l of Promiszlan and Rebbe Yitzchok of Strettin were engaged in a long, drawn-out feud. Knowing that dissension serves no purpose, Rebbe Meir'l approached Rebbe Yitzchok and attempted to make peace. The latter only turned his face to the wall. "Please, Strettinner Rebbe, allow me to tell you a tale," said Rebbe Meir'l, and told him the following story:

During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, a Marrano* suspected of secretly being Jewish became deathly ill. The Inquisitors called the local priest, and told him to go see if the dying man would make last confession, proving that he's a Catholic, or else otherwise be burned at the stake as a Jew. The Priest and the Henchman entered the sick man's room, and the sick man turned his face to the wall, refusing to reject his true faith in Hashem during his last minutes on earth.

The Inquisitors said, "Ahah, he's a secret Jew!" The priest said no, he's embarrassed to confess in front of others. Everyone must leave the room!

Only the dying man and the Priest remained in the room. The priest, a Marranno himself, whispered in the man's ear, "You can say Shma Yisrael now, and express your belief in Hashem before you die. You no longer need to turn your back on me, because we both serve the same G-d." With his dying breath, the Marrano utterred, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is one!"

"So you see, Strettinner Rebbe," said Rebbe Meir'l, "You no longer have to turn your back on me, because we serve the same G-d!" The feud ended on the spot.

*Marranos - the Spanish Jews who posed as Catholics on the outside, and secretly continued to practice their Judaism behind closed doors

This One's for You, Jherin

Jherin Esther Gorcey (1995-2011) was an angel of emuna disguised as a bubbly sweet teenager who loved life and everyone around her. She was the daughter of our dear friends Rachel and Dr. Steven Gorcey from Deal, New Jersey. Jherin was sent to this world to inspire people, to spread emuna and to bring people closer to Hashem. Her influence on people, especially on her peers, was prodigious. She was just as adept on skis or on a surfboard as she was in her studies. Her heart glowed with love of Hashem, so much so that the words of her poetry that she left us ooze Divine inspiration.

Jherin gathered countless girls together for Torah classes in her home. She never discriminated, inviting every young lady, no matter which school she attended, her background or her religious level - Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or totally secular. She was a magnet of emuna and holiness. Jherin's mission on earth came to an abrupt halt when she had an allergic reaction to anesthesia during routine surgery in April of 2011.  She is buried here in Ashdod, Israel, may her holy, pure and blessed soul intervene in our behalf under the Heavenly Throne, amen.

I have shivers up my spine every time I read Jherin's poem emuna:

He is always there for us
no matter where we go
it is patience we need to give
for us to see that flow

It is the confusion I must overcome
the stupid things it comes from
but only one invincible might can stop that
and that will be Hashem

Bitachon is what we need
emuna is what we gain
the trust and love we have for Him
must empower all our pain

He is always there for us
no matter where we go
it is patience we need to give
for us to see that flow

and that will be Hashem!

Tal Vaknin and Gad Elbaz put Jherin's words to song in a most lovely way - may this be an inspiration for all of us and an eternal credit to Jherin, of blessed memory. You'll love this:

The Finest Fabric

Fine Fabric
Passover night is an excellent example of Judaism's outside apparent dullness that conceals its inner glamor and excitement. To those who lack an appreciation for Judaism's exquisite inner dimension, Passover seems strangling: you can't eat bread or bread derivatives, you have to spend an arm and a leg preparing for the holiday, and you have to work your fingers to the bone – how dull and unattractive to the spiritually unaware! Yet, once one realizes that Passover is true freedom, that our Hagada is a monumental story of our people that is ever so relevant to this day, and that we sit around our Seder table like the sons of royalty, he can begin to recognize the deep inner value of Judaism, which I compare in my feature article this week to The Finest Fabric. In my second article, we see that Spain after the Inquisition was a dangerous place for a Jew: he'd be faced with the choice of death or forced conversion. And here, Shimon and Reuven were shipwrecked... Not Even A Trace is a delightful parable by that I retell from the Ben Ish Chai to help us prepare for Passover.

Rav Shalom Arush asks what it means to be an "outstanding" people, as the Haggada calls us. He says that in the 210 years of the Egyptian exile, there was only one case of breached modesty among the millions of Jewish women; that's why they're called "outstanding"... Don't miss his article Apart from the Rest in our Passover Eve issue of Breslev Israel web magazine.

If you'd like to gauge your emuna, read The Emuna Dial by Dr. Zev Ballen.

Leave it to our dragon-slayer Racheli Reckles to tackle subjects that other people get wobbly knees about. Ritalin: the Drug of Choice? is a must-read.

Did you know that Herman Melville, famed author of Moby Dick, made a historical visit to Jerusalem in 1857? Howard Morton's Melville in Jerusalem is priceless testimony that the notion of a Palestinian people is an utter myth - check it out…

Yardena Slater shows how your soul is really a magnet in Sparks of Attraction.

Dovber Halevi offers Five Hacks to Clear Your Mind.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful week with meaningful preparations for Passover.

It's All B'Seder

When everything is OK, in Hebrew we say "hakol b'seder", or literally, everything is in order. Why do we call our ceremonial Passover eve meal a "Seder"? What does "everything is in order" have to do with it?

Today's emuna shiur and live broadcast from Jerusalem, entitled, "It's All B'Seder,"  answers the above questions - this is a survival course for Passover night! Because of Passover preparations in the Yeshiva, the broadcast will not be open to the public.  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.