50 posts categorized "Advice and counseling"

Unsupportive parents

Angry parents
Dear Rabbi,

My name is Sherrie. I live in California, and I became a baalas tshuva last summer, after attending a religious music festival (religious Jewish musicians are the greatest; I'm writing you because one of them told me that you rock!).

My parents are, in short, not particularly supportive of my decision. They think my keeping Shabbos is a waste of a day that could be spent on homework (I'm going into my junior year in high school, just turned seventeen), and that keeping kosher is a hindrance. Now, I have a lot of family issues - we don't have particularly great family dynamics in general. Anyway. So I wanted to ask your advice. Oh wait - I also go to public school and wear a kippah full-time. I got the impression from my musician friend - who's one of your fans - that you're not egalitarian, so I don't know if you like that, but it's what I've chosen to do. 

I've got to go. My mom is yelling at me. Thanks for listening!!


Dear Sherrie,

The way to get your folks on your side is to avoid any disrespect, and simply be a model daughter, just sweet, considerate, and loving; that'll be a showstopper! Disrespect to parents is worse than eating treif. Let them see how observant Judaism is simply making you a better person, but under no circumstances should you compromise on Shabbat, Kashrut, modesty, or what you know and believe is right (when in doubt, ask a rav that you trust). Be careful never to lose your temper, and even when your folks get all over your cage, simply grin and bear it - it'll cleanse your soul.

As for the egalitarian business, I'm not going to tell you what to do; if you're really searching for the truth, Hashem will help you get there. Most importantly, talk to Hashem for an hour a day in your own language. Make sure you read The Garden of Emuna too. Judaism without emuna is like a car without an engine - you won't get so far. May Hashem bless you always with all your heart's wishes for the very best, LB

Freedom: Life After the Web

Let my people go
Dear Rabbi Brody,

I'm 19, and torn between two worlds. On one hand, I want to be a Baal Tshuva - I love Lazer Beams, but I get inspired and then end up surfing over to one of my favorite porno sites, and then (...severely edited - LB) ... I end my day going to sleep super depressed and disappointed in myself. Why can't I just be courageous enough to start putting on tefillin and keeping Shabbos? Rabbi Brody, can you help me out? Can you explain to me what's happening to me? I'd be forever grateful. Thank you, Steven from California

Dear Steven,

Every soul requires a heavy dose of love. Jewish souls especially require a refined, ultra-high spiritual octane form of love that Kabbala terms Chessed d'Kedusha, or lovingkindness from the realm of holiness. This love is achieved by dedication in performing a mitzva, by prayer with Kavanna (focused intent), by Torah learning, and by doing charitable deeds for one's fellow human. Also, this love is attained through a gratifying marital union.

The laws of the spiritual realm are similar to those of the material realm. Just as there is no void in matter, there is no void in spirituality. When a person fails to provide his or her soul with Chessed d'Kedusha, then the sphere of Chessed d'Sitra Achra, or Impure (unholy) lovingkindness, fills the void. Promiscuity and pornography are prime sources of Chessed d'Sitra Achra, all dangerous and addicitive, the type of chocolate-covered poison that destroys one's soul, Heaven forbid.

Simply speaking, Steve, we need to help you replace the detrimental elements that have pervaded your soul with the beneficial. Here's a gameplan that I'd recommend for you:

1) Torah - in LA, there are plenty of Torah lessons. Start attending them. In fact, you can catch me here this weekend. Also, begin learning as much of Rebbe Nachman's books as possible - they're an amazing balm for an aching soul.

2) Immerse yourself in a mikva as much as possible.

3) Say psalms 16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, and 150 every day - this is called the "Tikkun HaKlali", a general all-purpose spiritual medication for a soul that's been infected by Chessed d'Sitra Achra.

4) Talk to Hashem every day in your own words, and ask Him to help you.

5) Steve, build a life without the web - there is life after the web!

Steve, most of all, don't be down on yourself. Don't listen to the hellfire and brimstone preachers that send people to purgatory and give you a guilty conscience. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev says that if you believe you can make a mess of things, then believe that you can correct. Consider coming to Israel for a year or two for Yeshiva, and if that's not possible, think about a local Yeshiva for Baalei Tshuva. I'd like to see you make some solid spiritual gain, and then meet a wonderful young lady and start a family within the next two years or so.

If you would realize the satisfaction that Hashem has from your fight for Kedusha (holiness), you'd be jumping for joy all day long. This is your true freedom, Steve. With Hashem's help, you're going to go a long way. Hoping to see you, Lazer Brody

How to Reduce Your Phone Bill

Phone bill
A woman wants to feel that her mate is her best friend, a father, a mother, and a confidant all rolled into one. She needs the security that she'll be loved and accepted no matter what she does. She feels calm in knowing that even if she makes a mistake, he won't criticize her. She certainly doesn't need the type of husband that acts like the state's witness – when she tells him her troubles, he points an accusing finger at her, blames her, and belittles her. Soon, she won't share her thoughts with him and their lines of communication will be severed; he can only blame himself for the subsequent crisis that will surely arise.

Caution – as long as a wife seeks the ear of a girlfriend, it's a warning sign that she can't pour her heart out to her husband. As long as she needs the constant backing and encouragement of her parents, it's a warning sign that she doesn't get enough love and support from her husband. As long as she spends hours on the telephone, it's a warning sign that she lacks an attentive and receptive ear from her husband.

Beloved brothers, give your wife at least a half hour (barest minimum!) of quality one-on-one time every day with a listening ear; you'll not only have a better marriage, but your phone bill will be at least 30% less. Try it!

By the way, cellular phones were created for shalom bayit, for marital peace, so a husband can call home twice a day and tell his wife that he's thinking about her. You can't imagine what this will do for your marriage.

Have a great week. If you're in LA, join us for the "Shalom Bayit" Shabbaton this coming Shabbat, Oct. 30-31.

Oct 30 31 LA

Tough Opposition on the Field

Spiritual Growth
Dear Rabbi Lazer,

I'm writing this to you for two reasons: first, you don't know me and I feel really embarassed talking about this to a rabbi that knows me; and second, since you too are a Baal Teshuva, I'm hoping you can understand a fellow BT that was born in the spiritual gutters far away from Torah. I became observant about five years ago, when I finished my masters degree. As a university student and a popular dude at that, I guess you can say that I did about everything and enjoyed it too. I won't go into the reasons that I made teshuva, but I became very disgusted with my lusty lifestyle. I began to learn Torah and was drawn especially to the teachings of the Zohar. I did an about face and made serious efforts in developing my personal holiness. With daily mikva, daily teshuva, and total immersion Torah, I became a new person. Two years ago, I was introduced to a young lady who after three dates became my fiance. We are blissfully married, in no small thanks to The Garden of Peace, which I live by.

So what's my problem? I thought I had deleted my naughty x-rated past from my brain. On Yom Kippur, the Yetzer gave me a triple whammy. During Kol Nidre, a really raunchy image flashed before my eyes which I won't describe, but it was something from the lowest part of my past. The same thing happened during Mussaf, and the same thing happened again in Neila. During the three highest points in the Yom Kippur prayers, I was watching myself in x-rated movies from my own past, the exact opposite of holiness. Why did Hashem shtup me with these terrible thoughts? What could I possibly have done wrong to be pushed away like this? I had such aspirations of clinging to Hashem with real devotion in this year's prayers, and I blew it. I feel devistated and dejected, as if I've been totally defeated. What can I do? Please help me. Thanks so very much, David from California

Dear David,

The Yetzer - the Evil Inclination - wants you to think that you're a loser. The exact opposite is true - this Yom Kippur, you have attained a lofty and admirable soul correction. You're the winner, my man; here's how:

Back in your university days, you thoroughly enjoyed doing the lewd things that so embarassingly popped into your head during this past Yom Kippur. Yet now, the forbidden acts that you once enjoyed are now a source of shame. Your shame during Yom Kippur is not only a sign of humility and holiness, but a soul correction for the past. Having done teshuva out of love (hear our CD on the subject), your past transgressions now become valuable merits to your credit. What's more, when you did those wrong things, you didn't know they were wrong. You can be proud of yourself, for Hashem is proud of the unbelievable growth that you've made in five short years. Don't ever forget that spiritual growth and serving Hashem are like football - you can't gain an inch without facing tough opposition; that's why the rewards are so great. Keep plugging away, slowly but surely, for you'll be a big winner. Remember also that as a BT, you're now playing in a championship league. Be happy, David - you're doing great. With blessings for joyous Chol Hamoed and a wonderful year, LB

September, 2015: Economic Doomsday for the USA?

Expected economic meltdown
For the past three years, I have been telling anyone who listens to me to liquidate investments in the USA and to invest in real estate in Israel. Those who heeded my words made a lot of money, for the closer we get to Moshiach, the more Israeli real estate skyrockets.

The American economic bubble is about to burst. Today, the USA has a national debt of $18.5 trillion, and it is expected to become nearly $21.5 trillion buy the end of 2015. Things don't look so good for the land of baseball and apple pie. The USA can't even pay the interest on their debt, much less the principal.

Several of my good friends in the USA argue with me. They cite the oil prices, which have been cut in half in recent months. They cite the dollar, which has strengthened against other currencies. They cite Wall Street indexes, which are at an all-time high.

My response is dump your investments immediately, before the bubble bursts, especially the money you have invested in the stock market. Why?

This coming September 13, 2015, marks the end of the Shmitta, or Sabbatical Year. It is a time of abundance in the Land of Israel, especially for those who observed the laws of Shmitta, but a traditional time of economic catastrophe in the USA. Modern-day Kabbalists consider the USA as today's Rome; the Gemara tells us that when Jerusalem is up, Rome is down and vice versa.

An established pattern according to Rabbinical Law - what's known in Hebrew as a chazaka - is three consecutive times. The fact that the American economy has nose-dived at the termination of the Shemitta year is more than an established pattern. Let's see what happened at the termination of previous Shemitta years, the end of the seven-year cycle in the Hebrew calendar:

2008: Stock market collapse, mortgage crisis, bank collapse - Sept. 29

2001: Stock market collapse, 9/11 attack - Sept. 11

1994: Bond collapse - more than $1 trillion loss to bondholders

1987: Black Monday, stock market crash, October 19

We can go back even further and mention the 1980 Silver panic and stock market crash, the 1973 oil embargo when oil prices quadrupled and more, and the 1966 stock market collapse. Enough said?

The only thing that is better than investing in the Land of Emuna is to bring your family and to come here. Thank goodness, I don't have money invested in Wall Street (I don't even own a car for that matter, but nothing can rob me of my spiritual assets), but if I did, I'd be liquidating as quickly as possible. Don't say that you weren't warned. Meanwhile, you have my blessing to find a beautiful condo for you and your family here in our holy homeland of Israel.

2 Forward, 1 Back

Those who climb
Dear Rav Lazer,

I have a master's in engineering from the Technion in Haifa. I spent three years in active duty as an IDF paratrooper. I've had Hizbulla missiles land in my back yard. I've managed to compete for the last 18 years in the dog-eat-dog world of Israeli hi-tech. After having become a Baal Teshuva (newly observant Jew - LB) 2 years ago, I started being a shomer brit (guardian of the covenant, maintainer of personal holiness - LB) six months ago and it's the toughest battle I ever had. After 28 crystal-clear days and feeling great about myself, I blew it. What's wrong with me? Am I back to zero? Menachem from Northern Israel

Dear Menachem,

I guarantee you that Hashem has phenomenal gratification from what you're doing. The biggest tzaddikim have setbacks. True spiritual growth is two steps forward and one step back; don't be disappointed when you fall, because today's fall is higher than yesterday's success. In your corner with a big hug, LB 

College Crossroads

Dear Rabbi Brody,

I am a 20-year-old college sophomore in the US, and lately I have been worrying about whether or not I am on the right path in life. I know I'm still young, but I feel I am ready to be married and start a family, and I live somewhere with very few Jewish males, none of whom are particularly religious. While I've always pictured myself as finishing college, lately I am not sure if this is the right thing to do. I was always an excellent student but lately I have been having a very difficult time finishing assignments because my mind is elsewhere, and even so, the liberal arts program I'm in is not likely to lead to many career opportunities. Also, so unbelievably many random things keep going wrong, making it more difficult to continue in school, and I don't know whether to take this as a sign from Hashem that maybe I should head in a different direction, or just as another challenge in life to overcome. I don't want to waste any more time if this is not what I should be doing with my life, and end up unmarried, having wasted what should be an exciting time in life on unfruitful studes. Should I spend at least the next two-plus years finishing my BA degree, or is it time to change directions? I would greatly appreciate any advice you might offer. Thank you so much for your time.

Wishing you happiness always like you make others happy,
Alicia in the western USA

Dear Alicia,

Good girl - you've done a good job of understanding the messages that Hashem has sent you. It's definitely time for you to seriously search for the right person and to raise a family.

The restlessness in your soul is straight from Hashem. A liberal arts program in a university is a waste of your valuable time and money. As far as a livelihood goes, you can take one of many inexpensive aptitude tests available on the web, determine a skill you like, and then pursue a six-month occupational course, such as computers, graphic design, dental tech, or whatever. So, I recommend that you check out of university, move to an area where there are Jewish studies for women your age, and then simultaneously strengthen your Judaism and acquire an occupational skill.

On the other hand, my blue-chip advice for you would be to come to Israel, enroll in a women's seminar for Jewish Studies such as Midreshet Beerot Bat Ayin which I'm sure you'll love, or EYHAT (Aish Hatora women's seminary) or Neve Yerushalayim as possible alternatives. That way you'll be able to strengthen your Judaism and find the exact guy you want. You'll be a smashing success, G-d willing. May Hashem bless you and lead you in the right path. Feel free to write. With blessings, LB