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32 posts from February 2017

#NOTMYCOOKIES

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I'm torturing myself right now. Aside from Shabbat, which has turned into my cheat day, I've been very good about staying away from such healthy treats like these chocolate chip cookies. First of all, I'd just like to inform you, our educated readers, that there are actually many people here in Israel that really believe canola oil is healthy. It's true! I mean, not that canola oil is healthy. I mean that people believe it's healthy. Well, you get it.

Listen, Schreiner's, just because you make an awesome cookie and I'm giving you a free plug, it doesn't give you the right to advertise your cookies as healthy when they're full of unhealthy ingredients, like canola oil, processed "whole" wheat, sugar, chocolate chips, um, excuse me, but what exactly is healthy in this cookie? So please stop with the false marketing and send me a few free boxes of your most unhealthiest cookies. And brownies. I love your brownies. I mean, I hate your brownies. Hate them! HAAAATEEEE!!!!

I'll tell you why I'm torturing myself. I just ate a cookie. I sound crazy, I know. Believe me, I know. But I wasn't even hungry. Actually, I was totally full. But you know, I work out, I eat right, and I am so bothered that it's so easy to undo everything I spent the last few days/weeks/months doing! 

You know what really drives me crazy? Just walking past these things in the kitchen. Actually, my kitchen is so small that there's no room to walk past them, so I bump into them every time I walk into the kitchen. I'm like, "Oops! Whoa, so sorry about that!... Wait a minute... you look familiar. Have we met somewhere?" I ask the box of cookies as I lean forward with a little flirtatious smile. In the meantime, I've managed to pull a fast one and slid my hand into the box to steal a cookie without the box realizing what I've done. It's because the box has fallen under the magical spell of my charm.

I gotta tell you that for the first time in my life, I'm salivating like Pavlov's dogs when I walk past any bakery. Could it be because I'm not eating it any more? Hmmmm. Will have to think about that possibility. Eureka! I just had a genius idea!

What if I start a one-woman protest called #notmycookies? I could pretend that, even though I bought the cookies and they are literally mine because I own them, I could create this fantasy in which I believe that these cookies really belong to someone else, and one day they're going to come and get them, so I can't in good conscience eat them, because that would be stealing. 

That's right, folks. I don't accept these cookies as my cookies, because I don't agree with the ingredients they're made from. I stand for health, fitness, and looking good, and these cookies stand for sugar (yum,) chocolate (yum yum,) and all those toxic ingredients. And dogs. Why in the world did I just write that? How can cookies stand for dogs? What's wrong with me? BTW, is it true? Can dogs really not eat chocolate? I had two dogs, but I loved them too much to test that theory out.

Since I have a feeling that my protest will not go viral on social media, I have another suggestion as to how we (especially ME) can avoid this constant torture of the chocolate chip cookie and all forbidden foods:

DON'T LET THEM INTO YOUR HOUSEEEE!!!!!! 

When you go to the market, DON'T go down the aisles with all of the processed garbage foods! STAY AWAY from aisles #4,5, and 6! And 7,8,9, and 10! If you find yourself in a war with your hand that refuses to let go of the box of Entenmann's chocolate-covered donuts (my absolute favorite,) smack your hand with your other hand and keep walking!

Have you figured out this week's secret to losing weight? That's right! If you don't see it, you don't want it! Don't you find that to be so true? How many times do you not want a can of Coke until you see the big red Coke truck driving by? Doesn't your mouth start to salivate? Are we all just dogs? Or is it just me?

This week, when you do your shopping, steer clear of the middle of the store. Not only will you find yourself eating less junk throughout the week, but you'll save a whole 'lot of money! I know those snacks and drinks ain't cheap!

Keep in touch with me and let me know how your week is going. Also, I'm starting a new thing. I'm inviting you to send me your recipes with a picture, and each week I'll pick one recipe and post it on Thursday so people can have time to get the ingredients and make it for Shabbat.

Email me your recipes at racheli@breslev.co.il. 

In the meantime, I'm going to help myself to another cookie (or three.) Seriously, how much longer can I drive myself crazy by looking at that box? At least I don't have to prolong my suffering, right?

~Racheli


How Embarrasing!

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Don't worry, I have an explanation. You see, this time it's really not my fault. The kids and I were on our way to the airport to pick up David from his #ravarushhoneymoon. I pulled into the parking garage, which was incredibly poorly lit. No spots. Obviously. Are there ever spots available on the first floor of an airport parking garage? 

So I was about to make a right turn to head up the ramp, and BOOM! I screamed like a hysterical lunatic (woman) as it happened. But I quickly recovered (was too lazy to get out and check the damage) and kept driving up the ramp. When I finally found a spot, I sent my oldest son out of the car first to inspect the damage. At first, he didn't see anything because it was so dark in there, but then, he got this huge smile and started going crazy from excitement. "Ooooh, Aba's gonna be sooooo mad!!!" he began yelling as he jumped up and down. "Oh no he ain't," I thought to myself. 

Since hubby has read The Garden of Peace, he knew better than to try to blame me for something that was simply not my fault. How could it be my fault? After all, would I be in the parking lot if he didn't go out of town? I should have been a lawyer.

Most normal people would be too embarrassed to post their disasters online. But not me! For some reason, I didn't get the embarrassment gene. What can I say - I'm defective. I'm going to have to blame my mother for this. 

After reading Rav Shalom Arush's latest article, I feel so much better. He says that It's an Embarrassment for us, the King's children, to behave in ways that are not befitting of us. That makes my embarrassment look so minuscule in comparison, doesn't it? You know what else is an embarrassment? The horrible 4th grade school picture that my brother just emailed me. I don't know how he got it, but oh boy, wait 'til I get my hands on him. Actually, am I allowed to hit him? If not, can I hit him with a broom stick? What about if I wear boxing gloves? Doesn't it not count as touching him, then?

Since we're on the subject of embarrassment... I have a question. Should I be embarrassed that some of my kids come back with their sandwiches completely uneaten, day after day? Does that say something about my poor sandwich-making skills? I never used to go through a day without eating my lunch. It was actually the highlight of my day at school! I remember one time, sitting down in the massive school cafeteria and opening up the container of sardines that my dad had sent me. I loved sardines dripping in lemon juice and oil, but when I opened up that container, it quickly became apparent to me that none of the other kids appreciated gourmet food. Kids started holding their noses and screaming at the top of their lungs, "What is that smell?!!!" Maybe I should have brought Peanut Butter and Banana  sandwiches instead. Who knew that you could learn about exceeding your limitations from a sandwich? Check out Rav Brody's latest!

These days, it might not be considered embarrassing to be pregnant before you're married, but just think back a few decades. It was shameful to the max! Well, we live in more "tolerant" times, and Aaron writes to me, telling me, "My Girlfriend's Pregnant." Should he marry her or shouldn't he? Oh, what to do? You don't want to miss my answer in my latest!

Our beloved Emuna Therapist, Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen, talks about how she was ashamed to be happy when she was growing up. For various reasons, she was taught that happiness is not something you are allowed to have, especially if others around you are suffering. So what finally gave her Permission to Rejoice? And here's a challenge - see if you can figure out the amazing Divine Providence in this article. I'll give you a hint: it has to do with the timing! 

Speaking of being happy, our other amazing Emuna Therapist, Dr. Zev Ballen, asks some fascinating questions: what exactly is the reason having gratitude improves the quality of life? Well, I never actually thought about it. I guess that's why I'm not a therapist and he is! So, are you Granted, or Taken for Granted? Which is it??

Lori Steiner's latest, Rich King, Poor King,  just reminded me of David's grandmother, Esther, a"h. "Rich or poor, it's nice to have money," she'd say. What a wise woman. She'd also say, "I'll eat anything that doesn't eat me." Except I never actually saw her eat anything. But that never stopped me from enjoying her delicious food! I'm sorry. When I'm tired, I just start to ramble. But seriously, guys, this is a beautiful allegory (is that the right word?) of a king who lives in a kingdom, and, well, you'll have to read the rest! Lori, I'm waiting for a novel!

Dennis Rosen hits it right on the money with his warning about the Quicksand of Despair.  He reveals a big secret in how the Evil Inclination traps us in his death clutches. And guess what - it has nothing to do with the actual transgression you just did! Go figure! So what is it? Well, read the article already!

I'm so relieved to discover that Yael Karni is human, as she doesn't always feel like praying. Whew! What a relief! But she may be superhuman, because she actually went to the trouble to discover tips that would help her strengthen her connection when she needed it most. I'm so happy that she saved me (and the rest of you) the trouble of having to figure it out myself! Check out her suggestions on how to improve your Intimate Connections.

So I'm trying to expand my vocabulary a bit, and I went onto thesaurus.com to find synonyms for awesome. Can anybody tell me why HAIRY is one of the synonyms??? I'm serious!

Have a hairy week, yo!

~Racheli


Parshat Mishpatim, 5777: Sold into Servitude

The Torah talks about the man who sells his daughter into servitude. She works for her owner, and he has the right to marry her if he desires, but the Torah obligates him to give her three things. What is the hidden message that the Torah is conveying here? Enjoy today's eye-opening mini-lesson, which is certainly something you can give over on the Shabbat table, and have a lovely Shabbat Shekolim-Mevorchim!


Antisemitism, USA: The Emuna Factor

Bomb Threat USA 2017 JCC
As soon as I got off the plane at the start of my recent trip to the USA, I received a call from a family very close to me in Chicago. They told me about a chain of antisemitic crimes in their neighborhood, one very close to their home. They were visibly and understandably concerned, especially for the welfare of their children.

For Breslev Israel and yours truly, St. Louis is one of our favorite cities and a bright star of emuna on America's Midwest map. Just this week, the historic "Chesed Shel Emet" Jewish cemetery there was terribly vandalized. Meanwhile, Jewish Community Centers in a dozen different US cities have received some sixty bomb threats recently.

It certainly seems that a tidal wave of antisemitism is in our faces lately. The question is, is this a new epidemic of Jew-hating on the rise, or simply old business?

It depends who you ask.

A Jerusalem Post editorial calls this a shocking rise. The Washington Post and the Forward both say that nothing is new and that there's no need for alarm. Who is right? Who do we believe?

We don't believe any of the above sources, for they all ignore the emuna factor. 

What do I mean by the emuna factor? The emuna factor is the only key to understanding the events around us, whether on a personal scale or on a national or international scale. The emuna factor tells us three key spiritual facts that underlie every event or occurrence in the universe; they are:

  1. Everything comes from the Almighty - the Rambam says in the 1st of the 13 Principles of Faith that, "He alone did, does and will do every deed."
  2. Everything the Almighty does is all for the best - there is no exception to this rule, whether or not we understand (See both The Garden of Emuna and The Trail to Tranquility for elaborate explanations of this point).
  3. Everything the Almighty does is all for an explicit purpose - no occurrence in the universe is random, happenstance or fate; it's all the result of precision Divine Providence down to the tiniest detail.

Now, let's apply the emuna factor to the current wave of antisemitism in the USA. We see that everything is coming from the Creator; He is using the free choice of the Jew-haters as an alarm clock to make American Jews stop and think that Jews can only trust in Him and not in their host country, despite their house with the swimming pool and tennis court in Great Neck or their posh 42nd floor condo overlooking the Atlantic in Miami Beach. Intrinsically, a Jew is no more safe in Monsey or Lakewood than he is living in Sderot or Gush Etzion. Hashem is reminding American Jewry that they need Him, not the ADL or any other activist organization.

The good news is that this wake-up call has been devoid of any bodily injury, Heaven forbid. The Almighty simply wants to arouse American Jews from their spiritual slumber. Glatt-kosher delis and pastry shops aren't what He's looking for. Hashem wants all of us to strengthen emuna. When we wake up in time, He won't need to send any louder wake-up calls.

Consequently, whether antisemitism in the USA is on the rise or whether it's old business is a moot question. The real question - the one that the future of the Jewish People depends on - is whether the Jews of America - and the Jews of Israel - will cast their eyes to the Almighty for salvation and not put their trust in all types of organizations and political leaders who really could care less about anything than their own padded seats. For that reason, as long as anyone worries about strengthening him/herself in emuna, he or she has nothing else to worry about, especially antisemitism, which is no more than a stick in the Almighty's all-powerful hands.

My esteemed and beloved teacher Rabbi Shalom Arush told me emphatically to make he following promise in his name: anyone who helps us spread emuna will be guaranteed Divine protection against any calamity, including antisemitism in the USA. If you'd like to help us to spread emuna to your city, drop us a line at staff@breslev.co.il. The light of emuna will readily disperse the darkness of evil.