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29 posts from March 2018

V'hi She'amda: The Eternal Promise

There's a major difference between Hashem and political leaders: He keeps His promises whereas they don't. Seder night is proof...

Political leaders should really be in the furniture business, because all they care about is the chair they sit on. Ideology? Truth? You will find neither in politics, whether you look at the right, center or left. With that in mind, maybe now, our people around the globe will finally learn that there's no one to trust but Hashem. We certainly can't trust those who change their opinions as frequently as they change their socks and prefer political expediency to justice and truth. So, my Pesach-eve message to my cherished brothers and sisters, especially here in Israel, is that it's time that we all come back to Hashem in complete teshuva, asking His forgiveness for any trust we put in human beings, in Israel or abroad.

The Gemara (tractate Sanhedrin 97b) says that the Nation of Israel (aka the Jewish People) will be redeemed as soon as they make teshuva, in other words, return to Hashem and the ways of His Torah. The Gemara then asks, what happens if the Nation of Israel doesn't make teshuva? Rebbe Yehoshua answers that if Israel doesn't make teshuva, then Hashem places them under the influence of a wicked king whose evil decrees are as severe as Haman's, and then they make teshuva.

We cannot fathom The Almighty's love for us and His infinite mercy. Despite the fact that we haven't made Teshuva from Love, which is what we need to do in order to be redeemed, and despite the fact that our own misdeeds put us under the boot of each generation's wicked kings, Hashem has made an eternal promise to deliver us from their hands. That's the V'hi She'amda prayer that we recite each year in the Haggada.

Let me share with you something additional about Hashem's love for His people: The Heavenly Altar and Throne is known as Upper Jerusalem; it is situated directly above Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which is known in the Zohar, Midrash, and Gemara as Lower Jerusalem. Hashem refuses to dwell in Upper Jerusalem until His permanent dwelling on earth - the Holy Temple - will be rebuilt in Lower Jerusalem (see Gemara tractate Taanit 5a, Midrash Tehillim 122, Vilna Gaon's elaboration of Zohar, Safra DeTzniuta, ist Chapter). Many evil world leaders are denying our right to the area of our own Holy Temple. Once again, we have no cause to be angry at them, for as soon as we make real teshuva, they will crumble. But, until we make teshuva, those evil leaders should be forewarned that by disenfranchising Israel from what they call East Jerusalem, they are in effect trying to disenfranchise The Almighty. Cherished brothers and sisters, that won't happen, period.

Hashem has no gratification by forcing us to make teshuva. When we strengthen our emuna and seek Hashem on our own accord, we sanctify His Holy Name. Let's wake up, beloved brothers and sisters. It's either nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles or emuna books and CDs; the choice is ours. Now you can understand why Emuna Outreach is working so hard to spread emuna around the globe - Rav Shalom Arush says that every emuna book or CD neutralizes one ballistic missile. When Moshiach comes, he'll show us all how emuna saved lives; the Gemara says that anyone who saves one life is considered as if he or she saved an entire world.

V'hi She'amda is a Passover song whose words come from the Haggada. It conveys a very timely message for the Jewish people: He who stood by our forefathers stands by us to deliver us from the hands of our enemies in every generation.

One of Jewish music's favorite sons, my dear friend Yonatan Razel, wrote a beautiful melody for this song, which he sings here with the king of Jewish singers, my very special friend Yaacov Shwekey. You'll get shivers up your spine and tears in your eyes listening to them. We're sure you'll enjoy this musical treat as much as we do. Enjoy it and have a wonderful Shabbat, Seder night and Passover holiday!


How to Avoid a Tax Audit

Audit Fear
Dear Rabbi Brody,

My CPA tells me that there's a chance that the IRS will be auditing me this year and that really scares me. Can you give me a blessing (or advice) so I won't be audited?

Thanks so much, Mark (Moshe) from Brooklyn

Dear Mark,

Our sages teach us that where there is judgment in this world, there is no judgment in the Heavenly Court. In other words, when we judge ourselves, the Heavenly Court doesn't judge us. Therefore, the best way to avoid an audit is to do daily self-assessment, doing teshuva to Hashem for everything you might have done wrong in the past 24 hours. This will save you from an audit. Remember though, Jewish Law requires the we follow the law of the land - dina demalchuta dina. Therefore, if a person does shtick - dishonest business and breaking the law - it will ultimately catch up with him, one way or another. With that in mind, do your best to stay withing in the bounds of Halacha and the tax laws, do daily self-assessment, and Hashem will surely help you.

Blessings for a joyous worry-free Passover, LB

Would you like to be truly free? See the 4-minute clip directly below this post.


Food Shopping for Freedom

Shutterstock_85631065

How unrealistic does this picture look? Seriously, who skips through the grocery store? And there's way too much healthy food in that tiny little cart. Just look at that guy's forced smile. He's probably thinking, "I have no idea what half of this stuff is!" Sure he doesn't. He only knows what his wife puts on his plate, all nice and cut up. 

I've lived here for 6 1/2 years B"H, and I still can't get over the fact that my Nachman is screaming siren noises into the megaphone he's holding two feet away from my ears. Sorry, I got distracted. Why did I buy him that megaphone? Oh, right! I didn't. That was courtesy of my darling husband who's not home most of the time. How thoughtful of him! Tomorrow morning I'm going to use it to wake him up. 

Let's backtrack a bit. What I meant to say was that I still can't get over the end-of-the-world style food shopping people do before every holiday. 

I mean, I do it too. Don't get me wrong. But I don't know why! Just a few days ago I went food shopping, and literally half my cart ended up getting filled with Pesach cakes, cookies, and ketchup. (You like how I just wrote that in such a passive way? As if I had nothing to do with actually putting the "food" into the cart.) 

I tell you, the stores are chaos here. People are pushing past each other, trying to reach the last box of chocolate covered hard-as-a-rock potato cookies. Non-gebroktz, yo. Okay, so I happened to be the one trying to use an old lady's shoulder as a step-stool. I mean, what was I supposed to do? She was just the right height. But then I lost my balance because I put my hand on her head to balance myself, and her wig went flying off. And then I fell. 

Believe me, I learned my lesson. Next time I'll find someone with a nicely secured hair wrap to help me reach the top shelf. 

So how crazy is the food shopping by you? As if that weren't enough, on my street every year there's a huge market-type thing where people pre-order their stuff, then drive through with their cars while hot sweaty kids performing slave labor for less than minimum wage pant volunteer in the 100+ degree heat as they load the boxes of zucchini and plastic plates into the trunks of the cars as they breathe in the toxic exhaust because no one's turning off their engines. Two of my kids are out there right now, in fact. I gave them the choice of melting in the hot sun carrying heavy boxes or straightening up their rooms. Wise decision. 

I ordered from this organization one year because everything is cheaper than the stores, and I ended up with enough zucchini, onions, and lemons to last for three months. They all rotted after a week, and that was that. Money wasted in an attempt to save money. 

So there's a lesson that can be painfully extracted from this. 

When Hashem gave the Jews manna, the perfect food from Heaven, He gave them enough to last for one day. That was so they would learn to trust that He would take care of them. Because apparently a magnificent freedom from slavery wasn't enough to convince them that Hashem had their backs. Wait. We're like, ummm, what's 2018 AD-1446 BCE? A lot.  We're several thousands of years after the Exodus from Egypt and we still don't believe Hashem has our backs.

Maybe that's why we have to re-enact the Pesach seder every year? Hmmm. Maybe that's why we have to try to pass the test of not buying too much food? H to the mmmmm....

But you know, Jews and food. It's a soulmate union. 

Hey, I just thought of a joke! You know why Yom Kippur is traditionally thought of as the saddest day of the year, even though it should be the happiest day of the year because Hashem forgives all of our sins between us and Him?

It's because we can't eat! 

On that note, I'd like to try and be serious for a second. Every year Rav Arush collects for hundreds of needy families that really have nothing for Pesach. They can barely put together enough money to buy matzah. The situation is really that desperate. Know that by donating to these types of families, you will have a share in every mitzvah they do, every blessing they say, every ounce of joy they have during the holiday. It will be in your merit. For a few dollars, you've just gained blessings for eternity. 

I would say that's a wise investment. Wouldn't you? 

You can make your donation to Rav Arush's Emuna Outreach's Kimcha D'Pischa Fund by clicking here. Every single dollar goes directly to those families who need it and who have no one to turn to. 

May Hashem bless all of you with a happy, healthy, and meaningful Pesach surrounded by people you actually like to be with! And in the merit of helping the less fortunate and being a part of Breslev Israel's efforts to spread emuna throughout the world, may we experience the Final Redemption and the coming of our Mashiach and the rebuilding of our Holy Temple, Amen!!! 

~Racheli

 


Rav Shalom Arush: The Dedicated Twin

Dedicated Twin
Here's a story that my esteemed and beloved teacher Rav Shalom Arush told me
:

There were two twins – a brother and sister – who really loved one another and were each other's best friend. One wintry evening when the winds howled outside and torrents of rain pounded on their windows, the little girl started crying. Her brother asked her why she's crying. "I'm soooooo afraid," she sobbed.

Her brother held her hand and soothed her. "Don't be afraid; I'm your brother – I'll always protect you."

Days passed. The twins, merely 5 years old, fell ill with a rare disease. Miraculously, the brother recuperated; his body developed antibodies against the invasive microbes. The sister wasn't as fortunate. Barely alive, she needed urgent blood donations. Because of their rare blood type and the disease antibodies, the twin brother was the only suitable donor.

The attending physician asked the parents for permission to perform the needed blood transfusions. They agreed, hoping to save their daughter's life. Then, the physician asked the twin brother, "Are you willing to donate blood in order to save your sister's life?"

The little boy broke out crying. But, true to his word that he'd protect his sister, he calmed himself and said, "Yes, doctor – I'll do anything for my sister."

Lying in bed next to his sedated, unconscious sister, the brother looked at her while a tear trickled down his cheek. The nurse came and put the needle in his arm. The little boy seemed really upset, alarmed by the needle. " Doctor, isn't it true that I'm going to die soon?"

The doctor was shocked. The little boy was sure that he'd need to donate all his blood to save his sister. He thought that the doctor and his parents were asking him to sacrifice his own life for the sake of his sister, yet he agreed.

***

Our reality is like that of children in the story. Some of our brethren cannot shoulder the burden of Passover expenses. That means that they won't be able to fulfill the mitzvoth of our holiday, let alone enjoy it. How can a family that can't afford matza think about wine or meat? New shoes for the children are not even an option. These families are wondering if they'll have food on their tables this Passover.

With Passover almost here, this is a golden opportunity for you to participate in Emuna Outreach's annual Kimcha D'Pischa project.

Like the little boy who gave blood to his sister, the body produces new blood to replace that which was donated. In like manner, the Almighty not only returns that which one person contributes, but He adds big dividends too! Hashem says, "If you make others happy, I'll make yours happy."Our Kimcha D'Pischa Project enables hundreds of needy Jewish families in the Land of Israel to celebrate the Passover holiday with joy.

Rabbi Arush personally seeks out the needy families, many of whom are ashamed to ask for the help they so badly need. Unfortunately, we don't have to search very hard, for the needy families are many. Your generous donation to the Kimcha D'Pischa Project will provide needy families all over Israel with all their holiday needs, including meat and poultry, wine, matzoth, dry goods, fruits and vegetables.

You can make your generous tax-deductable donation to Emuna Outreach's Kimcha D'Pischa Fund by clicking here. May Hashem bless you and yours with a truly happy and kosher Passover, amen!