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36 posts from July 2016

The Best Segulah

Hi! Racheli here. Someone asked me about doing a pidyon nefesh, which is a redemption of the soul from harsh judgments. I was like, "Why are you asking me? I'm not a kabbalist." A pidyon nefesh is an extremely powerful prayer that has the spiritual status of a sacrifice in the Holy Temple. Everyone should have one done at least once. 

This woman is 36 and still not married, and she thought it would be a good segulah to do. A segulah is a spiritual action that may lead to a change in a person's life situation. Wow, I'm giving you a whole kabbalah lesson here. Many people look to segulahs for help getting pregnant, finding a soulmate, or winning the lotto. Just kidding. Maybe I'll try that. Can't hurt, right?

Here's what I think about segulahs - I think they work based on two factors: if you believe in them, and if you do your hishtadlus - your maximum effort. If this woman just does a pidyon nefesh and sits on her couch watching Bruce Jenner prance around on the red carpet in a hideous dress as she waits for her prince charming to come banging down her door, she funna be waitin' a loooong time. 

But, if she reads books that will help her improve her character traits, like "Women's Wisdom" and "The Garden of Gratitude," and does personal prayer every day, all that spiritual effort will supercharge the effect of the segulah. 

Here's an example: I ask Rav Brody to do a segulah that will help me lose weight, except I'm not dieting and exercising. Not only that, I'm stuffing my face with chocolate chip cookies a la Cookie Monster. "Rebbe!" I spurt, as I watch the crumbs fly out of my mouth and land in his beard. "I need a segulah to help me lose weight!" Munch, munch, munch.

You know what the best segulah is? Gratitude! 

Saying "Thank You" for any situation opens the gates of salvation wide open! If you really want to change your situation, then thank away! And stop stuffing your face with chocolate chip cookies. 

From My Heart to Yours, Thank You!

Laniado with Dr. Amash
I received so many concerned emails from you, cherished friends, asking where I disappeared to last week, because I always inform you when I go overseas. This time I wasn't overseas - I was in the cardiology ward of Laniado Hospital in Netanya. I'm writing now because I'm home, with Hashem's enormous grace. My wings have been clipped somewhat, but I'm strong, thanks to Hashem.

It was a crazy story. I was in the height of fitness, beyond all the "excellent" levels not only for my age, but for people twenty years younger than me. I was working out every day except for Shabbat of course, and doing full-throttle wind-sprints twice a week. But, during recent sprint sessions, my heart rate was hitting 215, 54 more than what my heart-rate maximum should be. Yet, I felt great. I didn't know what was wrong - my heart or my heart-rate monitor. I decided to have a complete athlete's checkup at Israel's national college of sports and sports medicine, Wingate Institute in Netanya. I flew through all the tests with great scores until the final test - the stress test, where you wear an EKG while walking on a treadmill. The tester, a sports cardiologist, turns up the pace until you're totally exhausted, to determine a number of fitness factors. At the outset of the test, he called his two colleagues to come quickly. His face was ashen. The head cardiologist looked at the chart and said to his third colleague, "Go call an ambulance - dachoof - pronto!" I didn't understand what was flying - I felt great. To make a long story short, normal hearts have a steady even rhythm; my heart was showing a rhythm like the syncopation of Chassidic niggun. They said that I had arrhythmia - atrial fibrillation - so bad that I was in imminent danger, Heaven forbid. An ambulance picked me up and the paramedic wouldn't even let me lift my gym bag...

The doctors wanted to treat me with all types of drugs in preparation for electrical cardioversion, which in lay terms are electric shocks to the heart. I wouldn't let them. I spoke to my beloved rabbi and spiritual guide, Rav Shalom Arush, who prescribed different "treatments". The Melitzer Rebbe, well-versed in medical matters, agreed with everything Rav Shalom said. I followed their advice and I'm now home, feeling great. True, my sprint shoes went to the trash can and I must exercise a lot more "softly", making sure that my heart rate doesn't exceed 161. I'll tell you the whole story in my emuna lesson later this week, G-d willing, because this was surely one of the biggest emuna lessons in my life, brought to me by my loving Father in Heaven. As you can see in the above photo from the emergency room In Laniado, I'm smiling (next to me in the photo is emergency cardiologist Dr. Amash, an Israeli Arab from the village of Jasr al Zarka, who was my favorite physician and himself an athlete). This has all been for the best - thank You, Hashem! And, thank you, cherished friends, for all your blessings and concern, from the bottom of my happy heart to yours, which I hope will be strong and healthy until you're 120 years old, amen!

Sushi Surprise

Are you hungry? Welcome to this week's new issue of Breslev Israel web magazine. Here's what awaits you, including Racheli Reckles's Sushi Surprise (see above photo - yup, Racheli made that herself) :

This week's Torah portion is Matot. We learn how to channel our innate energies into a positive channel in my elaboration entitled, Uplifting Our Past.

Rav Shalom Arush describes the most powerful form of prayer in Save Me.

I wish my lead article could be happier, but this time of year reminds us of all the mass graves of our people, destruction, exile and Diaspora. Yes, it's the Three Weeks Again...

David Perlow reminds us that not only were the two Holy Temples in Jerusalem destroyed on Tisha B'Av, but so was Gush Katif.

Dr. Zev Ballen exposes the Psychofakes.

The answer to an unsolvable and unbelievably challenging problem is to find the one good thing concealed within the dilemma, and to thank Hashem for that one good point, as Lori Steiner points out in The Art of Prayer.

Jenn Safra tells a lovely story in The Journey Home.

Hashem certainly doesn't abandon anyone who makes aliya as Tamar Berger writes in The Big Boss.

Enjoy, and have a healthy new week! Don't ever take a single heartbeat for granted - G-d bless always.

Don't Cry Over Spilled Tuna

Hey everyone! I hope your Shabbat was great. 

I'm a hard worker, but there are certain things I get lazy about; one of them being taking things out of the fridge. On Friday, I was busy cooking way too much food, and I needed something that happened to be toward the back of the fridge. I was too lazy to move the bowl of toxic, mercury-infested, three-eyed tuna that I had made the night before. I was also too lazy to put the tuna in a plastic container, and instead just put a sandwich bag over the top of the bowl. 

As you can imagine, when I went to pull the mystery thing out from the back of the fridge, my hand hit the tuna and down it fell, all over my skirt and the floor. "Aye, kapparah!" I caught myself lamenting like an 80-year-old Moroccan Bart Simpson. Could "Aye" pass as the Sephardic version of "Oy"? Believe me, I was tempted to get all upset. Like I needed one more mess in the house of disaster and poopie diapers.

Luckily, I caught myself and realized that, yes, spilled tuna is a kapparah - a spiritual atonement - for some transgression that my husband did. In my warped reality, I'm just perfect. Instead of huffing and puffing and blaming my husband for it, I thanked Hashem. I felt so much better when I did that. You know, I think spilled tuna and spiritual atonement may have the same gematria. Gotta check that out.

Next time you face a minor (or major) annoyance or inconvenience, remind yourself that Hashem just did you a massive favor. Instead of a harsh judgment, He substituted it for a little spilled tuna. And that's a pretty sweet deal. 

Vezakeni: Prayer for our Offspring

Zaidie Lazer and Yanky

Zaidie Lazer learning Torah with grandson Yaacov Yosef Brody from Jerusalem (photo from 2008)

One of my biggest joys in life is grandchildren at my Shabbat table...

Whenever Zaidie (grandfather) Lazer Brody gets together with his grandchildren, we sing a moving song that 51uh9RTsdfL._SY450_ comes from a woman's prayer after lighting Sabbath candles. Many young couples also say this prayer on their wedding day:

Vezakeni legadel banim uvnei banim, chachomim u'nevovim ohavei Hashem, yirei Elokim anshei emes zera kadosh b'Hashem deveikim. Um'irim es haolam batorah umaasim tovim uvechol maleches avodas HaBoreh.

"May I merit to raise children and grandchildren who are wise and discerning, who love Hashem and fear G-d, men of truth, holy seed, clinging to Hashem, and who illuminate the world with Torah and good deeds and all the work of serving the Creator."

It's our family custom to sing this lovely melody at the Bar Mitzvas of my grandsons, three generations with three-part harmony.

Baruch Levine composed this melody, and performs it ever so beautifully. Enjoy! May you have nothing but happy occasions in your family, and joy from your offspring, a wonderful Shabbat, amen!

There is Always Progress

Hey guys! Amazingly, I (Racheli Reckles) didn't get any threatening emails for my last post, so Rav Brody let me join in on the Beams again. So, I've been staring at this blank screen for over five minutes, trying to keep from falling asleep and, at the same time, find something worth writing about. The cheap white wine and expired pomegranate juice spritzer I made myself a few minutes ago didn't help my thought process, either. But it did help me chill out, so that's a good thing. 

This week was an exceptional week for laundry. That means I did a whole lot of laundry; more than my usual 2 loads a day. As my kids enjoyed flapping around in our OMG THE POOL!!! OMG! I'll be right back!

Okay, I'm back. I just remembered in the middle of writing this that I left the hose on for the past two hours. I only needed to fill up the pool a few more inches so the filter would work properly, and the pool was overflowing when I went to turn the hose off. My husband's gonna be so mad. Goodness gracious. It must be the laundry. Yes. Back to the laundry.

I had an interesting thought today. I don't have a problem with doing housework. I do, however, have a problem with never seeing the end result, so to speak. This makes me feel like I'm not making progress. A second after the dishes are done, ten more dishes suddenly decide to jump into my sink. The moment the hamper is finally empty, clothes start magically throwing themselves out of our closets and begin rolling over to the hamper.

The thing is, if I'm objective about it, I see that I really am making progress. If not, I would be drowning in dishes, wet bathing suits, and cheap margaritas. So here's what I realized.

In life, especially in our spiritual pursuits, we may pray to Hashem for help in a certain area, yet feel like we're not making progress. We don't see any visible changes within ourselves or our situation, so we assume that either we're praying in vain, or we simply aren't moving forward. But, just like a seed that begins to sprout in the dirt, we don't see the miraculous growth process that's taking place under the surface. Only when the tiny stem and first leaves start to peak through the dirt do we actually see that growth is happening.

It's the same thing with us. We are moving forward, in every area of our lives. Even when it seems we're stagnating, walking backwards while trying not to trip, or running in circles like a dog chasing his tail, we're still moving forward. Every action we do, every prayer we say, slowly accumulates in our spiritual bank accounts. Even though we can't see the results right away, we need to trust that change is happening within us and all around us, all the time. When the time is right, Hashem will show us just how much we've grown. When the time is right, Hashem will "suddenly" fix whatever situation in our lives needed fixing. We just need to be patient until then, and keep in mind that there is always progress. 

It's Not What You See

How many times do you catch yourself making statements like, "It's not fair!", or "How can Hashem do this?" There's a big problem with eyes of flesh-and-blood, for they often misinterpret; they make big mistakes and they often don't know what they're seeing, as we'll learn in today's emuna lesson...