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February 2017

26 posts from March 2017

Four Cups, Four Worlds

With a mere four weeks until Passover Seder night, we not only must clean our physical domain, but our spiritual domain as well. Seder night is not some mere commemoration of something that happened three thousand years ago; it is the rectification of the entire world in general, and each of us in particular, as we'll learn in Today's lesson. Blessings for a lovely new week, and enjoy the lesson...


Vayakhel-Pekudei. 5777: How to Get the Most out of Our Talents

This week's Torah portion not only teaches us the source of our talents and aptitudes, but gives us the key to putting them to the very best use. Here's how to succeed, as we learn in our mini-lesson on this week's Torah portion:

Here's an important message from my esteemed and beloved teacher, Rabbi Shalom Arush shlit'a:

As the Rosh Yeshiva of Chut Shel Chesed, I feel that chesed - loving-kindness - is one of the most important mitzvoth there is; I'm sure that you agree with me. That's why I included the word chesed in the name of our yeshiva, to emphasize that helping our fellow human is a highest priority. The Torah says, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." "Flour for Passover" means to help the less fortunate of our Jewish brethren have a joyous Passover holiday by enabling them to have the necessary staples. This is something we're all obligated to think about with Pesach less than three weeks away.
 
Rebbetzen Arush and I do our utmost to identify the needy families who are too embarrassed to request assistance, and to give them the needed foodstuffs and financial support. I am privileged and honored to offer you a share in this mitzva.
 
Your donation to our "Emuna Outreach Kimcha d'Piskha Fund" will provide needy families in Israel with all their needs for Passover, including meat and poultry, wine, matzot, dry goods, fruit and vegetables. Since we purchase quality fish, poultry, meat, fruit, vegetables, matza and wine at bulk wholesale prices, we provide all the Seder needs for a family of six for a mere $180. For $72, you can sponsor a guest for the Seder and Yom Tov day. In any event, participation in our "Emuna Outreach Kimcha d'Piskha Fund" with whatever you can afford is a tremendous mitzva that will invoke miraculous blessings for you and yours. Donate to Emuna Outreach to make sure that these worthy families of sorely limited means will also be able to enjoy their Passover holiday. Your donation is US tax deductable. Blessings for a wonderful Shabbat and new month of Nissan. With prayers for your success, Shalom Arush


Killer Antibiotics

Image result for eustachian tube anatomy in young child

This week, I'd like to address a very common and very big problem regarding the over-use of antibiotics. Now before some of you get all hysterical on me, yes, I absolutely agree that they are a wonderful life-saving invention. However, there are many - too many, in fact - cases in which antibiotics are prescribed when they're simply not necessary.

Take, for example, the all-too-common case of a young child with an ear infection. Typically, babies under two years old are more susceptible to middle ear infections because the eustachian tube doesn't drain fluid as easily as an older child's or adult's. You can clearly see the anatomical difference in the above drawing. 

I found this wonderful article that discusses the real cause of middle ear infections, and I highly recommend that all of you read this, especially the parents of young children. In a nutshell, most middle ear infections are caused by inflammation, but not as a result of bacteria! One Dutch study found that 88% of children with otitis media did not need antibiotics! Many times it's actually an allergic reaction to a food, dairy products being the biggest culprit. Well, what a surprise. Dairy is known to cause all kinds of health problems, from increased mucus production to all sorts of digestive problems to skin rashes, particularly around the mouth. My advice? Dump the dairy.

So what can be done when you have a child screaming in pain from middle ear inflammation? First, give the poor kid some Tylenol! Even though I hate Big Pharma, I am not a fan of screaming children, either. Why should they suffer unnecessarily? If you were screaming in pain, wouldn't you help yourself to a little relief?  I think even giving half a dose is also not okay, because would you give yourself half a dose if you had a fever or were in severe pain? I sure wouldn't! Don't turn your kids into martyrs, for G-d's sake.

Now that I have angered many parents out there, let me anger the doctors, too. I feel that it is completely negligent for a pediatrician or any physician to prescribe repeated doses of antibiotics for non-life-threatening medical issues. But you should know why they do this. First, their hands are tied legally. They are placing their licenses on the line if they give their patients any nutritional or natural healing advice. Second, they might really not know what other natural options are available, since it is well-known that nutrition and natural approaches to healing are not taught in medical school. So in reality, all they are left with is their little pen and prescription pad.

Some of you might remember the famous adage, "The pen is mightier than the sword."

Well, I've just given it a 21st century makeover: The pen is deadlier than the sword.

Believe me, I wish I were exaggerating. The CDC states that 2 million people per year become infected with antibiotic-resistant germs, and 23,000 of those people die as a result. Each year! If this were a plague, everyone would be running hysterically through the streets. Even if a person doesn't die from repeated antibiotic use, they are placing their health in major jeopardy, because antibiotics act like an atom bomb when ingested. They kill off the bad and the good bacteria, which allows the bad bacteria to grow unchecked by the dead good bacteria, and the vicious cycle continues. 

Now, let's take off our angry caps and put on our thinking caps. How, oh how, can we fix this problem? Well, there are many solutions. First, I would recommend that everyone find themselves a good naturopath, homeopath, or doctor of Chinese medicine, and make that doctor their primary care physician. Just stay away from the psychopaths.

Second, regarding otitis media infections in particular, Mullein Garlic drops are excellent for relieving inflammation. Garlic is a powerful anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial healing agent! You can get them at the local health food store. I would suggest that if you have small kids, you should have a bottle on hand even though no one may be sick at the moment.

Third, we have to get back to basics. As I've said time and time again, the entire approach of modern medicine is backwards. Instead of focusing on building up the body's defenses, their entire aim is to break down the body's defenses, all in the name of killing the enemy.

Let's put this strategy into perspective, shall we? If you were involved in a war with another country and you had to send your troops out to battle, would you drop an atom bomb on everyone on the battlefield, knowing that you will be killing your own soldiers in the process of trying to kill the enemy? What do you think would happen to a general who came up with such an insane tactic? 

If the good bacteria have been decimated in an intestinal Hiroshima, the best thing to do is to eat probiotics. These help the good bacteria reproduce and strengthen your immune system. Here's a good article that discusses probiotics in more detail. 

Back to basics means that we have to focus on eating healthy and taking care of ourselves! Our diets are the main cause of our physical and mental states of well-being! How can you expect to be healthy if you're stuffing your face with fake food and sugary snacks? How can you ask why Hashem gave you an illness if you eat like garbage? If you want to be healthy, you have to eat healthy! There's no way around it. And, of course, you must must must exercise!

I have one more thing to add to parents who are looking for spiritual reasons as to why their children are sick. Yes, it is obviously a tikkun for the parents. I'm not arguing with that. But I know, as a BT, that it's easy for a religious person to get caught up in the spiritual aspect of a situation without giving much consideration to the physical, practical aspect of it. The best route is a combination of both approaches. Yes, look for the spiritual message behind it. But while you're looking, you've got to put forth your maximum effort by looking for physical solutions as well!

Let's get back to the common example of a kid is getting repeated middle ear inflammation and going for a prolonged period of time on antibiotics without recovering from the original problem. Why are the parents still taking him to this doctor? I personally think the message for these parents and the rest of us is that we've got to stop having blind faith in modern medicine. We need to educate ourselves about natural healing methods and especially about how to keep ourselves healthy, so G-d willing, we won't need a doctor ever again!

You are welcome to post your infuriated comments below.

Blessings for a healthy, happy, and educated week!

~Racheli


Don Amalek Corleone

Corleone

I was a bit young, but I do remember watching one or two of "The Godfather" movies. I have to admit, I was enchanted by the slickness and smoothness of Vito and Michael Corleone. Even today, as I write this post, I envy their ability to get downright murderous without yelling and screaming. I wish I could do that. I mean, get angry without screaming. Not interested in getting all murderous, thank you very much. 

Obviously, Don Corleone was not Israeli, because everyone knows that Israelis can't possibly hide their true feelings, for better and for worse. I wonder how The Godfather would have played out with an Israeli cast. Vito would be the rash, brutish grandpa that barks out killing orders as he's spitting out sunflower seeds onto the floor. Michael would be the hyper, irrational, but oh-so-charming heir to the Corleonestine dynasty, but without any self-control. When he confronts his brother, Fredo (Fishel in Hebrew,) instead of quitely but forcefully telling Fredo how he broke his heart while grabbing onto both sides of his face, the Jewish version of Michael would start screaming hysterically at the top of his lungs, accusing Fishel of trying to have his own brother killed, as he squeezes with all of his might on both sides of Fishel's face. The scene ends with Fishel's face being squished beyond recognition as his brains come flying out of the top of his head.

Can I ask you something? Do I need therapy? Or is my imagination just extremely active?  

This whole Godfather thing didn't come from my genius brains, though. Hard to believe, I know. Actually, our very own Rav Lazer Brody came up with this amazingly brilliant comparison of Don Corleone to Amalek. Just like Don Corleone and Michael Jackson, Amalek is a smooth criminal. He ain't comin' at you with a whole big drama scene. Uh, uh. He's sneaking up close behind you, pretending to be your best friend and someone who cares about you, and then when your guard is down - BOOM! The kiss of death. You've gotta read Rav Puzo's, I mean Rav Brody's, Hollywood best-seller, The Assassin. 

As if right on cue, Rav Arush has the sequel to The Assassin ready, and you're about to read it here for the first time! After it seems that Michael Corleonestine and his crew are at the brink of falling down into the gehinnom-like abyss because of all of the terrible things they've done, this obscure group of superheros called The Soul-Savers suddenly shows up at the Corleonestine's Lake Tahoe home. They give Michael a copy of The Garden of Emuna, and tell him that Rebbe Nachman says there's no reason for despair in the world! Michael reads the book and decides to make teshuva and does his best to clean up the gigantic mess he's made of his life and the lives of all those he's hurt. Granted, many of those people probably deserved to be killed, because they were no angels themselves, right? But who are we to judge? Let's leave that in Hashem's hands.

In fact, yours truly already has her very own screenplay ready to go! It's a horror movie called The Dreaded Dentist, and it goes like this: a tired, overwhelmed mom of five boys takes her kids to the dentist, and it turns out her 5-year-old has a cavity. Talk about screaming bloody murder! Well, this mom could already imagine the trauma that was to come; the screechy drill. The kid's screams of terror. The nitrous oxide that doesn't really do anything. The bright lights and mask-wearing aliens holding pointy instruments and mini-vacuum cleaners in the kid's mouth. Oh, what fun. But, she remembered about a little thing called personal prayer. So how did horror movie turn out? You'll just have to read the screenplay!

You know, I think that a lot of the murders caused by the Corleonestine families and the other four feuding mafia families could have been avoided if Dr. Zev Ballen would have been their terapista (therapist in Italian.) He could have made them realize that their need for honor, money, and blood was what caused them to be ruthless, greedy killers. In fact, the title, Love or Honor, is a perfect one to complete Breslev Israel's version of The Godfather trilogy! We'll call it "The Sandak," because we actually do have real-life godfathers in Judaism. The Sandak is the one that holds the baby boy in his lap during the circumcision. You know, I'm starting to see a major connection between Jews and Italian mobsters. Seriously, Speilberg, Coppolla, somebody call me! 

I just decided that Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen should have another title  aside from Emuna Therapist. She should be referred to as The Godmother, because she knows exactly what people need in order to feel good about themselves. This week, she deciphers The Language of Love, and explains that in order to create a real closeness with others, we need to know how to speak nicely to them. Husbands, that means you need to know how to compliment your wives. That's especially true for you, David. Are you reading this? The Godmother is happy to help make all of your problems go away! If you want to set up a meeting, contact staff@breslev.co.il. 

If someone were to do a remake of The Godfather today, I have no doubt that President Trump would make an excellent Godfather. Dovber HaLevi makes an amazing connection between Trump and the ancient Pharaoh, who likened himself to a deity. Pharaoh was the Egyptian version of the Godfather, you know. Dovber points out that just as in ancient Egypt, the world and the media are turning Trump into a deity by spotlighting every single move he makes and everything he says. I've got it! In Dovber's screenplay, Donald Trump would be called Don Trump Corleonestine and the title of the movie would be "The God." Talk about genius!! Okay, so maybe we'll stick with Dovber's original title, Hashem's Trump Card. I'll try not to cry as I finish off my glass of fine Italian red wine. 

David once told me he had a basket of riches for me, and I thought he meant lots of diamond jewelry. Well, I was wrong. What a shocker. Instead, he presented me with a basket of dirty laundry, which I did not find very amusing. I would have preferred Dennis Rosen's Basket of Riches, because at least his riches are valuable. In fact, they're more than just valuable - they're priceless! Don't let these riches pass you by!

Lori Steiner has ruined my day by reminding me that Passover is around the corner. I'm just kidding, Lori! I love Passover, especially the cleaning- because I can get rid of lots of stuff under the excuse that I'm "cleaning for Pesach." Gosh, I hope David doesn't read this! Lori gives us some great tips to get our cleaning in high gear without freaking out and squeezing our murderous, back-stabbing brothers' heads until their brains come flying out. Check out Lori's latest in Defining a Kosher Passover.  

Yes. A terapista is in high order. And so is sleep. Have a wonderful week! (And try to keep your brains in your heads, okay?)

~Racheli

 


Paradise

IMG_20170309_103856708

Okay, the strangest thing just happened. I had a completely different idea for this post, but that can wait until I tell you what happened. First of all, shavua tov! I hope you all enjoyed a leisurely Shabbat, whatever that means. Now I'll get to my crazy story.

I didn't have any clue as to what I should post, so I decided to look through the pics on my phone to see if anything interesting came up. All in all, I was sitting at my computer for about an hour, going through emails and whatever. So I'm scrolling through my pics and this one of a T-shirt popped up. I took it a couple of weeks ago when I managed to get out of Bet Shemesh and reach civilization, i.e., a big city. I was at the Azrieli mall in Tel Aviv and saw this shirt hanging there, which I found so funny because I'm from Miami Beach, and aside from the fact that it really does look like Paradise, it also looks a lot like Tel Aviv these days, so I don't understand what all the hype is about. Actually, Tel Aviv and Miami are too similar in too many ways, if you get my drift.

Anyhow, as I'm downloading this picture onto my computer, I'm trying to tune out David's guitar playing that's grating at my ears from the living room. He was also playing for the same amount of time that I was on my computer. Then, as this picture is uploading, I hear him suddenly start to sing some lyrics from a song back in the '80's, about Paradise. I couldn't believe my ears!

I called him over, wondering if he had seen my email of the picture to myself, because he also gets my emails on his phone. Talk about nosy! And then I remembered that I didn't put anything in the subject line, so there was no way for him to know what I was sending myself. So in the exact same minute, he's singing about Paradise as I'm downloading it onto my computer!

Is that not totally crazy?

It's funny when these things happen, isn't it? We may think that things like this are random, but they're not. Hashem is always working behind the scenes, pulling the invisible strings in our heads. When you're thinking of someone and they suddenly call you, it's not random. It's Hashem.

Now I totally forgot my original point. Give me a minute.... Oh, yeah. So Paradise is not a place. It's a state of mind. 

I know it's hard to believe for those of us that aren't multimillionaires, but you can have everything and be miserable. 

If you are truly happy with your life, then you are living in Paradise.

Why did I keep writing Paradise with a capital P? 

Blessings for a wonderful week!

~Racheli