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35 posts from November 2017

Holiness and HiTech

HiTech Holiness
Holiness and HiTech, do they go together?

You might not realize it, but this is an age-old question. It's also the underlying historical theme of the relationship between ancient Greece and ancient Israel, Hellenism, Chanuka and assimilation. This knowledge is vital to understanding current events and particularly contemporary Jewish history as well as what's going on in Israel and the Diaspora.

In our series of prepatory lessons for Chanuka, today's lesson presents an unprecedented overview of history, combining known historical facts with the wisdom of Gemara. We'll learn about the connection between Aristotle and Mordechai the Tzaddik, and between Alexander the Great and Shimon HaTzaddik. We'll also see how Chanuka is an ongoing historical event, still being plated out 2,156 years after the miracle of Chanuka took place in the time of the Maccabees and the Second Holy Temple.

You don't want to miss today's lesson.

Today's (Wednesday) Emuna shiur and live broadcast from Jerusalem, entitled "Holiness and HiTech," 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; 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.

The Piaseczna Niggun

The moving and hauntingly inspiring melody you are about to hear was composed by "Derech Achim" from South Africa in memory of one of my all-time heroes and role models, the holy "Aish Kodesh" Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira of Piaseczna, Poland. He was a formidable educator and a profound influence on his generation. He was named after his great grandfather, the holy "Maor Vashemesh" - Rav Kalonymus Kalman Epstein, osb"m - who was the Rebbe of Krakow, Poland and the prime disiple of the holy Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk, osb"m.

The Piaseczna Rebbe inspired thousands of people during the darkest times of the holocaust. He brought hope and light to everyone around him and inspired so many to serve Hashem even in the purgatory of the Warsaw ghetto. In 1943, he was taken to the Trawniki Concentration Camp where he returned his sacred martyred soul to Hashem.

Enjoy this rare glimpse into history and into Chassidic life of today. We're still here - our oppressors always fall. Am Yisrael Chai!




While all you turkey killers were recovering from your gluttonous food fest (which I wish I could have enjoyed too,) I was mentally preparing for a gluttonous food fest of my own. Dat's right - pancakes!!!

For TWO LONG WEEKS I've been dreaming about Cafe Rimon's Friday morning stuff-yer-face buffet. I hope the fact that I just gave them a nice plug will get me some free food. I'm totally serious. If any of you out there know any management at Rimon in Bet Shemesh, tell them to hook a sista' up! 

So here's the lowdown. 

The Yetzer knew that I had big plans for Friday morning, and he started messing with me on Thursday afternoon. After a week of my car making noises like an old man trying to cough some phlegm out of his chest, my car decided that it was fed up of being neglected and refused to start. Thank G-d I was home when it happened. Sorry, I meant eppened. 

I called the mechanic and gave him the bad news. He sent me flowers and gave me his most sincere condolences, but more important things were on my mind. HOW WAS I GOING TO GET TO THE BUFFET ON FRIDAY?? I tossed and turned all night, worrying about how I was going to get there and back home in time. I needed to make sure that the kids would walk in the door and find me cooking in the kitchen like a good little woman, ya know? G-d forbid they should find out I had fun while they were in school! 

Sure enough, Friday morning comes and the car won't start. Now I had to deal with getting the kids to school, calling the mechanic who insisted on sending someone to make sure it wasn't the battery (which I already knew it wasn't,) and all kinds of aggravation with getting the car out of its parking spot and back in again. And of course I couldn't get a towing company to come. It was a total disaster.

Instead of calling a taxi, I activated my chutzpah powers and transformed the entire pointless hour by convincing Useless Mechanic Driver Man to give us a ride to the mall. GENIUSSSS!! 

He pulled up to the entrance and I delicately stepped out of the back seat of his tiny 1983 smoke-smelling Isuzu. Waiting for me was a red carpet and hundreds of paparazzi, just as I had requested. I waved like Queen Elizabeth at the imaginary paparazzi that were falling over themselves in adoration as they snapped millions of pictures of me walking into the mall and all the way to the restaurant, wearing my black Jackie O sunglasses. 

They tried to follow me into the restaurant, but the manager refused them entry. I turned and flashed them a million dollar smile, blew them a kiss and bid them farewell. When it was our turn to be seated, I walked in with one thing on my mind: pancakes.

Right at the entrance to the buffet stood my BFF, Pancake Man. As we high-fived each other on my way to the table, I snuck a quick glance at his neck to make sure he was still wearing our split heart BFF necklace. The hostess seated us at a great table outside so we could enjoy the cool and fresh winter air along with the occasional cigarette smoke blowing our way. Yuck. Oh, and just to clarify, by "we" I meant David and I. Unfortunately Pancake Man had to stay at his station. 

As I waited anxiously for the waitress to bring us plates, I quickly changed from my heels into my running shoes. My heart was pounding in anticipation as I worked out the logistics of which buffet station I was going to hit first. And why are you rolling your eyes, by the way? Should I have dressed for my big day out in Nike's? What would the paparazzi say??

It would be all over the trash magazines: "Racheli Reckles, self-proclaimed 'world-famous writer,' steps out to a fabulous breakfast wearing... NIKE'S??!" 

Oh, and you want to hear something hilarious? Here they don't say Nike like we say it in the States. They say Nike like Mike! NIKE!! "Yo, chabibi, you got the cool Nikes! Pssshhhhhttt...

Finally, I saw the waitress heading over to our table with two plates on her tray. Assuming they were ours, I bolted out of my chair and sprinted toward her, grabbing a plate from her like an Olympic relay race runner. And I was off! 

I ran from table to table, dumping all kinds of delicious carb-infested food on my plate. Why didn't I head straight to my beloved Pancake Man? Simple. I just couldn't rationalize paying the buffet price just to eat pancakes. I had to feel like I was getting something more for my husband's money than just fried batter. 

After a short while of filling up on all kinds of delicacies, I decided that the moment I had been waiting for has arrived. YAY!!

I ran to the pancake station hoping that there would be pancakes ready. No such luck. I stood there with my plate in my hand, suspiciously eyeing the people next to me. "What are they waiting for?" I wondered. "Pancakes or omelettes?" It was hard to tell. I nudged in closer to the pancake griddle and stood right in front of it, on top of the Hollywood star that I had placed in the floor with my name on it. I could tell the people around me were getting annoyed because I had just cut them off in line. I turned to them with fire coming out of my Iraqi eyes and silently mouthed, "My spot." 

My mouth was watering from the delicious syrupy smell. G-d help me if they ever have a kosher IHOP over here. I won't know what to do with myself.

FINALLY, my BFF started flipping those little fluffy heavenly circles into the basket. I shoved my plate directly over the basket so no pancakes would land in the basket. The people around me started yelling at me. "It's on," I thought.

I expertly elbowed the guy to my right and side kicked the lady to my left so there would be no competition for my prize. I vaguely heard some glass crashing to the floor behind me, but I was to engrossed in pouring four pounds of syrup on my pancakes to care. After loading a huge chunk of butter on top, I smiled sweetly at Pancake Man and headed back to my table. 

I walked back with my head held high in victory, oblivious to all the commotion going on behind me. From the corner of my eye I could see several people laying on the floor covered in food, surrounded by broken plates and being tended to by Hatzalah medics. 

David was shaking his head as I sat down. "What?" I asked him. Was it the mountain of pancakes on my plate that bothered him, or the fact that I can't go anywhere without making a scene? "Nothing, nothing," he answered, and went back to eating. He's been married to me long enough to know when not to start. 

I snarfed down the first 100 pancakes and got up to grab me a second round. But this time, I got smart. Instead of waiting for my Prince of Pancakes to make me another batch, I took the squeeze bottle and started squeezing out little pancakes on the griddle. He reached out to grab the bottle from my hand. Bad idea. I snatched it away and hissed, "Go ahead. I dare you." 

All in all, I ate about 300 pancakes and had to be carried out because I couldn't walk. Thank G-d Hatzalah was there. Talk about divine providence, yo! As I was being whisked to the taxi, I stuck my hand out and grabbed one of the squeeze bottles filled with pancake batter. With my other hand I ripped off the BFF chain from Pancake Man's neck. 

I felt so sick from eating all those pancakes, that I've decided to take another two weeks off before I go back. You know what they say: you can have too much of a good thing.  

It's great to have nice things, as long as getting those nice things doesn't become our main goal in life. Nice things are just tools to help us connect with Hashem in so many different ways. They're not an end in themselves, which is why we're never satisfied with them if that's how we think of them.

Whoah. That was like, sooo deep and profound.

Oh, and shoes are the exception! A woman can never have too many shoes! Got it, guys??

Have a great week!



The Emerging Anti-Iran Alliance

Hashem's world is full of surprises, yet there's nothing new under the sun.

In the above photo, you see an Israeli F-15 Eagle refueling from a Boeing 747 that is serving as "jet mom", the tremendous aerial refueling plane that replenishes the small jet fighters, thus increasing their combat range. If someone would tell you that the "jet mom" in the photo is an aircraft from the Royal Saudi Air Force, it wouldn't be true - yet. But it could be - soon. Israel and Saudi Arabia are already sharing sensitive intel. They both face a mutual existential threat - Iran. In fact, the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is all over the Middle East - in Yemen, in Iraq, in Syria and in Lebanon. The advantage that Saudi Arabia stands to gain from allying with Israel far outweighs and differences that Riyadh holds with Jerusalem. That's why a joint military maneuver between Saudi Arabia and Israel is something that could realistically happen, soon.

Here's more proof: when did you ever hear Kuwaiti and Saudi leaders speaking pro-Israel ideas?

Meanwhile, Iran continues to threaten Israel with annihilation.

Anti-Iran Alliance
Although Saudi Arabia stands to gain from allying with Israel, Israel - historically - does not. Throughout history, whenever Israel leaned on a wobbly reed - any source of help or reliance other than Hashem - Hashem broke the reed so that Israel will learn to depend on Him alone (see Ezekiel 29:6 and Rashi's commentary there).  The Israeli government would be much better advised to strengthen its adherence to Torah while we, Israel's citizens, should be working day and night to strengthen our emuna. This is our best defense against any enemy.

As far as strengthening emuna goes, it's not only the key to our survival but the key to Redemption too, as Rebbe Nachman writes in Likutei Moharan I:7. That is why the closest thing to Rebbe Nachman's heart was hafatza, spreading emuna teachings and bringing people closer to Hashem.
Emuna Outreach's and Breslev Israel's sole purpose in our travels around the globe is to spread emuna, for only emuna is the key to all of humanity living in harmony and to preventing this entire world from blowing itself to smithereens. I can testify that my beloved teacher Rabbi Shalom Arush's greatest joy in the world is getting another human being to call Hashem's Name. That's understandable; as we say three times every day in the Aleinu prayer, the world will attain its correction when all of living flesh calls Hashem's Name.
The IDF and the US Armed Forces are two focus-spots where we invest much time, effort and funds in spreading emuna. Look what happened at Fort Bragg.

For a complete overview of current events in light of emuna, see Revealing the Redemption, this week's Emuna News summary in the stimulating new issue of Breslev Israel web magazine.

Also featured this week:

Rabbi Shalom Arush - You're Ready!

Dr. Zev Ballen - Image of Eden

Racheli Reckles - The Right/Wrong Guy

Yehudit Channen - Force of Deception

Dovber Halevi - Your Winning Ticket

Dennis Rosen - Joyful Connection

Shai Mor - The Ring

Enjoy, and have a lovely new week with good news only!