Previous month:
August 2017
Next month:
October 2017

63 posts from September 2017

Kol Nidre: Yitzchak Meir Helgot and Yitzchak Perlman

This Friday and Shabbat is Yom Kippur.

A person can't make teshuva with a clogged heart. To help us all unclog our hearts, here are two of my favorite "Yitzchaks", Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot and violinist Yitzchak Perlman with their rendition of Kol Nidre. Close your eyes and listen to the melody, and you'll feel the innermost spark of your neshama yearning to return to Hashem. Enjoy it, and may Hashem bless you with the most meaningful and very best Yom Kippur of your life, amen!

Ten Tips for an Easy Yom Kippur Fast

Easy Fast YK
Fasting doesn’t necessarily mean suffering. There’s quite a bit we can do to alleviate the bodily and mental stress that normally accompanies a fast. Today, the day before the fast, follow the following guidelines:
1. Cut down your caffeine intake to minimize headaches. That means stop drinking coffee, tea, and cola at least eight hours before the fast, and preferably twenty-four hours before the fast.
2. Avoid salty, spicey, and fried foods on the day before the fast.
3. Avoid white sugar, white flour, and white rice. Eat whole-grained foods such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread or challa.
4. Drink a lot of water all day long.
5. Eat a good breakfast that includes fruits, veggies, eggs or sardines, and whole grains.
6. The pre-Yom Kippur meal (se'uda mafseket) should include baked or broiled fish, a veggy salad, consomme, a small portion of chicken or turkey, and a side dish of complex carbohydrates such as kasha or quinoa. Substitute sweet deserts with watermelon or other water-retaining fresh fruit, and a cup of herb tea with a whole-grain cookie.
On Yom Kippur:
7. The more you immerse yourself in prayer, the less you'll think about food.
8. Rest between prayers. Don’t run around outside, especially in the hot sun. Save your voice for prayers. Idle talking will make you thirstier, and will detract from the holiness of the day.
After the fast:
9. Drink two glasses of water, and then eat solids gradually, so as not to shock the digestive system. Begin with fruit, like plums or grapes. The worst thing people do is to consume pastries and soft drinks, or “lekach un bronfan” (cake and liquor) right after the fast (these are unhealthy anytime, all the more so right after the fast when they give your body a shock of glucose).
10. Forty-five minutes to an hour afterwards, one can eat a balanced meal with protein, complex carbohydrates, and vegetables. After eating, relax for an hour with your favorite book (preferably Gemara of the laws of Succoth from Shulchan Oruch) and your favorite beverage, then begin constructing your Succa.
Attention diabetics, heart patients, folks with high blood pressure, and people whose health depends on regular medication - you must be especially careful to ask your doctor if you are capable of fasting, and then consult with your local rabbi, giving him the doctor's exact opinion. For many such people, it is a mitzva not to fast on Yom Kippur.
The Israel Cancer Association recommends that cancer patients not fast without approval from their physicians. Fasting could cause considerable discomfort in cancer patients, who need a lot of liquids to alleviate side effects of chemotherapy. Again, first consult the doctor and then the rabbi. Give the rabbi all the details that you received from the doctor.
Don't let children (boys under the age of 12 or girls under the age of 11) be overzealous. Make sure they eat on time.

With G-d's blessing and the above guidelines, you'll have an easy fast. May all of us be signed and sealed in the Book of Long and Happy Lives for the best year ever, amen!

Holy Hampers, Batman!


You guys know what that picture means. David and the boys are home! Baruch Hashem! Go ahead. Ask me how much my kids missed me. I dare you. 

After they fell asleep I embarked on the exciting and slightly nauseating task of sorting their laundry. I gotta tell you, there's one thing that I really hate about laundry. I know that I'm not supposed to complain about anything having to do with laundry, but let's just pretend I never wrote that.

As I sighed and fantasized about the week before, the week of no screaming, early bedtimes, and a load of laundry every other day, I mindlessly started turning outside-in all of the shirts and socks that were inside-out. Did that make sense? Should I say inside-in, and then that would mean outside-out? I'm seriously confused. Whatever.

Whenever I reached a sock that was turned inside-out, I involuntarily tilted my head toward the ceiling and cried out, "Lord have mercy!" Unfortunately I'm not very good at holding my breath. 

Sigh. Again. It's amazing what doing unappreciated household chores does to me. Especially gross unappreciated household chores. They make me feel so, um, unappreciated. It seems like such a lowly act for a spiritual guru like myself. I feel like I should be learning some Zohar or something.

But then, I remembered what a wonderful rebbetzin once said. "Your housework, the food shopping, and everything else you do to take care of your family is your avodas Hashem!" In laymen's terms, this means that I am serving Hashem in the highest way possible by turning my kids' socks inside out. Or outside out. Plus everything else that I do as a mother and wife. 

Gals and guys, we're talking about seriously holy work! A woman's work is looked down upon in the Western world. She's thought to be a failure if she's not out in the working world or earning a Ph.D. in astrophysics. Nonsense, I say! No matter what your career is, the most important work you do is at home, taking care of your family.

That includes food shopping, carpooling, dragging your kids to piano lessons that they really don't want to go to, and of course, doing laundry. 

To all of you fabulous ladies with the holy hampers, I have this to say: 

HEY GIRL, when you're done folding your laundry, can you come over and fold mine? Then feed my kids and put them to bed? I already showered them.

Oops! I don't know who wrote that. What I meant to say was:

HEY GIRL, did you know that you're some kinda holy woman? Keep up the great work! 


A Heart that Sings

Psalm 84
How do you obtain a heart that sings?

A heart that sings is happy, despite the challenges and difficulties of life.

A heart that sings has feeling and understanding. 

A heart that sings experiences the jubilation of prayer and Torah learning.

A heart that sings tastes the holiness of Sabbath and the holidays.

So how do you get a heart that sings? My beloved teacher Rav Shalom Arush explained how in Uman during this past Rosh Hashana. Today, I'll be delighted to give this over in English.

Don't miss this evening's vital emuna lesson and broadcast, which also prepares us for Yom kippur and Succoth, entitled "A Heart that Sings", which will take place, G-d willing, in the ground-floor main sanctuary of the Chut Shel Chessed Yeshiva on 13 Shmuel Hanavi Street in Jerusalem at 7PM Israel time (12 noon EDT); the shiur is open to the public - both men and women are invited. 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.