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39 posts from July 2018

Misplaced Pride

Lost Ship
One of the proudest Jews I ever met was Menachem Begin, our Prime Minister from 1977 to 1983. Life was different in Israel then. I would frequently and freely visit friends in Gaza City, Jazi and Ibrahim, whose family owned an ice-cream factory. My Druze friend Suleiman from Daliat el Carmel and I would often go hiking together. My bosom buddy was Naif from the Arab village of Tira, east of Kfar Saba. In my reserve unit, a very close comrade and one of the best medics in our unit was Ronnie, who was gay; nobody made a big deal about it and he didn't flaunt it. As long as you did your duty the best way possible, nobody cared. Ronnie, by the way, got along great with our battalion rabbi, Captain Yoni from Bnei Brak, who was all love and brotherhood without trying to push any agenda on anyone. He was there if you needed him.

How different things have become. Menachem Begin was a proud Jew but his pride was not at the expense of any minorities. In fact, because he didn't feel like a 2nd-rate human, and because of his lack of a Jewish-inferiority complex, Begin was courageous enough to engineer a peace treaty with Egypt that has lasted to and through this day. Menachem Begin was the one who uplifted Sephardi Jews from their second-rate status under the elitist secular Ashkenazi left.

In biblical Hebrew, an "uplifted heart" means arrogance, the negative type of pride. The Torah warns, "Lest your heart be uplifted, and you forget Hashem" (Deuteronomy 8:14). In other words, as soon as a person is arrogant in any way, he or she forgets Hashem. As such the Gemara says in the Name of Hashem (Tractate Arachin 16b), "The person with the uplifted heart and I cannot dwell in the same universe." Wherever there's arrogance, Hashem is not there...

Is all pride arrogance? Of course, not. When the Tanach describes King Yehoshafat, who strengthened himself in emuna, scorned the ways of his errant father King Asa and returned to the ways of his fifth-generation great grandfather King David, it says, "And he uplifted his heart in the ways of Hashem" (Chronicles II, 17:6). In Judaism, "kosher pride" is the pride we have in observing Hashem's commandments. All other pride, as the Gemara and Midrash say, is like stealing the King's robe, for all pride belongs to Hashem.

Now we can understand how without the values of Torah, the Government of Israel and its institutions have become a lost ship with lost pride. How so? Rather than taking pride in serving Hashem, the government is taking pride in going against Hashem. The IDF has lost its mind and lost its way, as subservient to the government. Why are religious combat soldiers, whose emuna is their strongest weapon, forced to listen to transgender lectures? Then, the IDF wonders why it's losing deterrence, and that incendiary balloons are now reaching Beer Sheva. They don't get it. IDF values have so eroded that service personnel have been freely uploading top secrets to social media. In my day, our post cards were censored. Where's internal security in the IDF? The same place that modesty is - out the window. In this day of warped values and mixed gender units that the Torah also warns against (see Deuteronomy 23:15), there's no discipline and no loyalty. The Divine Presence cannot be in such a place; I say this with extreme pain - it's my country and it's the army I gave almost three decades of service to...

Last week, we had a gala Sefer Torah inauguration parade through the streets of our neighborhood (See post below). No one would dream of flaunting our lifestyle by having the parade down at Ashdod's bikini beach. 

So a person chooses a gay or transgender lifestyle, that's his or her business, just like it is if he eats BLT sandwiches. Do what you want behind closed doors. Ultimately, whether people want to believe it or not, we are all totally accountable for everything we do. But why flaunt a lifestyle that the Torah calls an abomination through the streets of Jerusalem? Why must our children be exposed to this public debauchery debacle? No wonder it's called the Pride Parade, because it is only possible because the organizers and the government that allows it have forgotten Hashem.

Another sad indication of the government's spiritual amnesia is the needless Nationality Law. We don't don't need the Government's definition of the Land of Israel - the Torah does that already, and we don't need the Government's help. The silly law has angered and alienated minorities and gives the secular courts the power to define and overrule Torah. Once again, this is case of sorely misplaced pride that both threatens to further uproot Torah and destroy relations with our Druze and Arab citizens.

In case I haven't made myself crystal clear, I vehemently protest the Pride Parade planned for this coming Thursday in our holy city of Jerusalem. And, I vehemently protest any erosion of minority rights in Israel.

Without the Torah, which keeps our country anchored an on course, the government becomes shipwrecked, not washed up on an island, but in the middle of an arid wilderness. Please Hashem, we need Moshiach now! 

Rare Glimpse of Chassidic Israel: Celebration of New Torah Scroll

Here is a rare documentary and inside glimpse of life in the Chassidic community of Ashdod, Israel. The Melitzer Rebbe of Ashdod, may Hashem bless him with health and long life, sponsors the gala celebration of the completion of a new Torah scroll and the festive parade from his home to the Melitzer Synagogue, where the new Torah scroll was received with singing, dancing, prayer and a festive meal, in a total holiday atmosphere with the Melitzer Chassidim dressed in their Sabbath and holiday garb. Enjoy it:

Unity and The Right Way to Give

No-strings Giving

The closer we get to Moshiach, the more we are behooved to give of ourselves, in every way possible. The Zohar teaches that giving is holiness, while taking is the dark side.

With what's going on in the world and the tension on our borders, not a single Jew in the world has the right to relax now. Learn, pray, spread emuna, do a mitzva or whatever you can in behalf of our people everywhere, in Israel and abroad.

We can't go back to the intramural hatred mode, where I'll only donate to my own cronies and I won't speak to anyone who is associated with a different group. That "golut" garbage has to go - now.

Being 'religious" also doesn't cut the mustard any more. We must be givers - with all our hearts and with all our souls - to anyone in need. Even to those who are on opposite sides of our ideological fence. The result is wonderful - a no hate, unified nation despite our disagreements.

What is real giving? When I donate blood, I don't ask who it's going to. I'm happy that anyone in Israel in need of B+ (my blood-type), will get it. I have no idea whether the person is religious or not, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Polish or Ethiopian, male or female. I don't know whether he observes Shabbat and Kashruth or not. I do know that whoever gets the blood is badly in need of it and it might even save his or her life. I use this as a model for how all my giving should be...

There are whole groups in Israel with all types of weird ideologies, some of which the Torah calls abominations. We can disagree with the ideology, but we must love the person, each of us respecting one another as well as each other's individual rights and free choice, and be willing to give them our blood. I would put people in jail for cursing and rock-throwing, no matter what the reason.

Rather than being angry at them, have pity on the spiritually poor people who haven't yet learned that there's Hashem in the world and don't feel Him in their lives.

Few people will listen to me. But the few who do will turn the scales in our favor, hopefully, G-d willing. Now that Tisha B'Av is over, let's hope that from now on, things take off toward the full redemption of our people and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, speedily and in our days, amen! 

One of the guaranteed best ways of giving is to help people get closer to their Father in Heaven; we do that by spreading emuna. Donate to Emuna Outreach!

Peerless Parents

Dream Dad
After years of hearing people's woes about their parents, I concluded five main points that everyone - young and old - would love (or have loved) to see in their parents. Try these and see if you agree:

1. I want my parents to truly care about me.

2. I want my parents to believe in me. That means never to cut me down or belittle me.

3. I want my parents to recognize and appreciate my individuality. That means acknowledging that I have my own strengths and weaknesses and never judging me by comparing me to anyone else.

4. I want my parents to be genuinely interested in how I feel.

5. I want my parents to give me a listening ear.

Isn't it only fair and ethical that we give our children the type of parents that we would have wanted for ourselves? If you really care about your children, you'll want to read 5 Minutes to Super Parenting, my feature article in this week's new issue of Breslev Israel web magazine.

Also featured this week:

Rabbi Shalom Arush - The Tree of Life, Now!

Dr. Zev Ballen - Popularity in a Flash

Racheli Reckles - Unbearable

Alizah Teitelbaum - The Bright Side of Darkness

Yehudit Channen - Temptation Bait

Elisheva Burda - Anya - this is such a moving story about a distant cousin of ours from Odessa, and a slap in the face to Holocaust deniers - don't miss it...

David Ben Horin - Divine Representation

Blessings for the loveliest of lovely new weeks!

The Real Benefactor

One of the most amazing concepts in Judaism is that of Ben Mazakeh Av; the parent, long after his or her life in the physical realm, derives limitless benefit from the upright deeds of sons and daughters. Enjoy today's lesson and have a wonderful new week:

Tu B'Av: Happy Love Day!

Tu B'AvToday is the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av - "Tu B'Av" - known affectionately in Israel as "Love Day". The Gemara in Tractate Taanit tells us that this is one of the two very best days in the Hebrew calendar, an opportune time for seeking and finding a soul-mate. Here're the events that happened on this wonderful day:

  1. The 40-year long plague that resulted from the Sin of the Spies terminated.
  2. The tribes of Israel were allowed to intermarry, whereas previously one was required to take a spouse from his/her own tribe.
  3. Pilgrimage from all over the Land of Israel to Jerusalem was renewed, whereas previously, anyone outside Judea couldn't reach the Holy Temple.
  4. This became a festive occasion when all the wood needed for the coming year's sacrifices on the altar in the Holy Temple was completely gathered, despite huge obstacles.
  5. The myriad of Jews who had been killed defending Beitar during Bar Kochba's revolt were finally brought to burial. This was a double miracle, since the bodies - despite their being strewn in the hot sun for an extended period - did not decompose. 
  6. This is the day when Hashem in His infinite love and mercy put me under the chuppa (wedding canopy) with the very best woman on earth - my wonderful wife Yehudit, may Hashem bless her with abundance of spiritual and material riches, including long and happy days, amen.

Rav Shalom Arush mentioned in his lecture last night in Holon that "Tu B'Av" has always been a propitious and traditional day for matchmaking. Our sages codified an ancient tradition where all Jewish girls – rich and poor, beautiful and homely - go out dressed in borrowed white dresses and dance in the vineyards (see Tractate Taanit 10b). This was our sages' equal-opportunity mentality, to teach young men to look for upright character rather than a girl's makeup and fancy clothes. If you're married, we wish you much joy and wonderful shidduchim for your children. If you're not yet married, we pray that you find your soul-mate in the nearest future, amen!

People who have searching for their soul-mates have had great success after donating to Emuna Outreach. The reason is simple: by you helping others to connect with Hashem, Hashem helps you (or your child, or whomever you're praying for) connect with your bashert, your intended soul-mate. With that in mind, Donate to Emuna Outreach, and we'll be praying to hear good news from you in the nearest future.

Meanwhile, blessings for a lovely Shabbat! If you're going away for Shabbat, safe travels and please drive alertly, with two eyes on the road and two hands on the steering wheel. Hashem loves you, and we do too!

The Beams Friday Web Yeshiva: Shabbat Ve'etchanan - Nachamu

BB Friday Web Yeshiva

We here at the Beams are delighted to feature select lessons, brief and comprehensible, from Breslev Israel's distinguished staff of English speaking rabbis. We surely hope you enjoy this, so don't let your day go by without grabbing some Torah, especially ideas that you can say over at your Shabbat table:

Lesson #1 - Rabbi Lazer Brody on Parshat Ve'atchanan - Nachamu: "Tell, Don't Yell" (10 minutes duration):

One of the most important passages in all of Torah appears in this week's Torah portion: "And you shall know today, and internalize it in your heart, that Hashem is G-d in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none other" (Deuteronomy 4:39). Let's learn how this passage is the key to happiness and success:

Lesson #2 - Rabbi Dr. Zev Ballen: "Revealing the Ultimate You" (35 Minute duration):

Lesson #3 - Rabbi Aharon Dobinsky: "Achieving Your Vision" (11 minute duration):

Lesson #4 - Rabbi Ralph Cohen: "Shabbat Va'etchanan" (7 minute duration):

Enjoy, and have a lovely Shabbat!