60 posts categorized "Advice and counseling"

The Delusional Tzaddik

Delusional
I've been to a night club or two in my life, and one of the most entertaining parts of my evenings out was to huddle up with my girlfriends and size up the competition. "Hey, check that one out," I'd say, nodding in the direction of the Barbie doll supermodel that looked like she dunked her head in a bucket of Clorox. It was South Beach, after all. "She be thinkin' she's all that with her goods on display." "Mmm, hmm, just look at her dress... she wishes she was as hot as you." Then we'd high-five and go dance some more. 

Okay, so this was totally my imagination gone wild. I hated going to clubs and I rarely drank. But, seriously, sizing others up is a problem that all of us face from time to time. It's easy to judge others for not being as good-looking, wonderful, smart, funny, well-dressed, blah, blah, blah, as we are. Actually, it's more than just easy; it's human nature. 

In reality, we're all delusional. All of us think that we're more perfect than we really are. That reminds me of South Beach, too. Oh, how many women I saw sauntering down the street in short dresses and too-tight tank tops when they really shouldn't have been. Really. Did they have one of those special circus mirrors at home that magically erased all of their imperfections? And if so, how can I score one?

Hey, all you BT's in da house... don't think you're not delusional, too. You are still human, right? Rav Shalom Arush explains that Baalei Teshuva are particularly prone to suffering from self-righteous delusion. Your beard can be so long that you're stepping on it, but that don't make you righteous. You're still the same person with the same baggage as you were before you decided to make teshuva. Every new BT wonders why he is suddenly bombarded with problems shortly after making the decision to lead a Torah lifestyle. Elementary, my dears! Rav Arush explains it all in his latest, Rebbe Natan and the BT's. Sounds like a music group from the '60's, no? 

Hmmm. Apparently there's a theme of delusion running through this week's Breslev Israel webmag. Rav Lazer Brody is telling us that if we think that Moshiach is going to come and wisk all of our problems away like Cinderella's fairy godmother, then we're in for a BIG surprise. Ain't no such thing gonna happen! So what's the point in Looking Forward to Moshiach if our fantasy lives of never-ending Tahitian vacations and 'round the world cruises don't await us? Great question! But I'm not going to tell you the answer - read it for yourself!

Ah, yes. More delusion. This time it's my turn to show y'all how delusional you are. I'm doing a series of shocking articles regarding diet and health. The Protein-Cancer Connection is the first in this series. While we're on the subject of delusion: did you know that most people don't relate what they eat to their state of physical health? Doesn't that seem a little crazy? But the craziest info is in this article. Please write me and tell me just how low your jaw dropped when you read what I wrote about the relationship between animal protein and cancer. 

This next story is an amazing one. Dr. Zev Ballen writes about the holy Rebbe Klonymus Kalmish Shapira, who served as a ray of hope and emuna in the dark and terrible years of the Holocaust. How can a person endure such horrific tortures and still be a source of inspiration and strength for others? Read about this amazing tzaddik (who wasn't delusional in the slightest) and his Faith in the Face of Pain. 

Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen, our amazing and well-loved Emuna Therapist, will send chills up your spine when you read her crazy (and not delusional) story about a little argument she had with her husband over where to have lunch. She learned the hard way that what seems to be unfair was actually the best thing for her in Your Money or Your Life.  Seriously, don't miss this one.

Dennis Rosen must have been a straight-A student in school, because I have no idea how he remembered so much detail in Rav Arush's and Rav Brody's lectures in Uman, and without taking notes! Anyhow, enjoy their Gifts From Uman, courtesy of Mr. Hyperthymesia. Just kidding, Dennis! 

Jennifer Woodward is way too organized for me as she describes her Spiritual Business Plan for 2017. It is 2017, right? Didn't I ask that already? 

And the Delusional Award of 2017 goes to David Perlow, for his unbelievable flight mix-up. Okay, so it's not so unbelievable to think you're flying on a different day than you actually are, but what do you do when you realize you've only got four hours to board your international flight? Speilberg, Emuna Take-Off is your next blockbuster. I want a 10% commission. Okay, 20%.

Wishing you every blessing!   

 ~Racheli (I'm really loving that squiggly thing!)


Sugar Sabotage

What day is it today? I know it's Wednesday, but I don't know the date, and I'm too lazy to look it up. Whatever. It doesn't matter. My brain is high on sugar right now. I just stuffed my face with a jelly donut minus the jelly, in honor of Chanukah. Jelly has lots of empty calories, you know. 

The worst part is that I had a seriously intense workout this morning. I've discovered that I'm a closet masochist. After my morning Zumba class, I head down to the weight room, where I practically kill myself for the next hour. But it makes me feel so good! I love the energy boost and the endorphin rush that I get from working out. I also love feeling strong and in shape.

So why in the world would I sabotage a good two hours of heavy exercise with a 1,000 calorie donut? I haven't the faintest idea. Maybe it's because I'm subconsciously afraid that I'll disappear if I keep working out this way. Or maybe it's just that I really, really love jelly donuts without the jelly. Definitely the second reason. 

I'm consoling my wasted hard work with the fact that: there is always Zumba tomorrow, and YES! David is finally coming home! I'm gonna get my kicks on and bolt out the door come rain, shine, snow, hail, bolts of lightning, whatever. See ya. But first, I'm gonna check out what goodies I ordered for myself, because I already forgot. 

So here's what I'm thinking. So many times we put in so much hard work and effort to accomplish something, and then we end up messing it up somehow.  The worst part is that we start to beat ourselves up because of it. It's very frustrating to take a few steps backward when we've worked so hard just to take one step forward.

But  it's okay! This is the way life works. We're meant to move backwards in our quest to move forwards. And do you want to know the truth? Even the backwards movements are helping us move forward. I'm getting dizzy thinking about all of this backwards and forward nonsense. It's the sugar, I tell you!

There are lessons Hashem is giving us each time we take a step backward. If we manage to figure them out, our next steps forward won't just be steps- they'll be giant leaps in zero-gravity chambers! 

Have a wonderful day!

Racheli


Choosing the Right Spiritual Guide

Looking for a Spiritual Guide
If you're searching for a good driving teacher, fitness trainer or piano teacher, or a tradesman whom you'd like to apprentice yourself too, then eventually, you'll find such a person. Pray for what you want and look for an individual with expertise in his/her field and decent communication skills with a pleasant disposition. The process of finding such a guide in your sought-after field of endeavor is relatively easy and straightforward. The first name you pick from the Yellow Pages might be the right person for you, especially if prayer has preceded your search. Why? The evil inclination doesn't care if your learn to drive a car, play the guitar or do pull-ups on a bar.

Finding the right spiritual guide is much more intricate, especially if you're Jewish or a Noahide trying to get close to Hashem. Why? The evil inclination doesn't want you getting close to Hashem, because then you'll be happy and fulfilled and it'll no longer have control of you.

It took me nine years of praying to be blessed with the privilege of finding the right spiritual guide, my esteemed and beloved rabbi and teacher, Rabbi Shalom Arush shlit'a. In doing so, Hashem illuminated my brain, showing me what to look for. In today's shiur, I hope to share these illuminations with you.

Join us today for our weekly shiur and broadcast from Jerusalem, entitled "Choosing a Spiritual Guide," a shiur you don't want to miss. It 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 EST); 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. 


Keep it Shut

A few days ago, I took the kids bowling. I can't get into all the details, but let's just say our quality time together was filled with lots of arguments, cheering, hitting, screaming bloody murder, more cheering, and threats that we're gonna go home this second if you kids don't stop driving me crazy. 

Overall, I think I handled it pretty well, except for the part where I screamed at one of the kids in the middle of ordering our food. Cash register girl didn't get it. She looked about 15 and obviously didn't have any kids. If she were a mom she would give me a sympathetic smile or some free food.

Speaking of free food, I actually scored some from a take-out place that was having its grand opening. I ate enough free samples to call it a full meal, and then the kids and I went to their restaurant. I'm cheap like dat. After fighting over who got too many french fries and squirting ketchup all over themselves from those stupid packets, we headed home, exhausted. I mean, I was exhausted. They were just getting warmed up.

So I pulled up to the parking lot and got a rude surprise. Somebody had parked in my spot. I didn't recognize the car, but my oldest one did. It was a neighbor's car! For the life of me, I couldn't understand why he would park his car there, as he has his own spot. Furthermore, if he wasn't happy with his spot, there were plenty of other spots on the street that he could have chosen from. Why did he davka (it's like intentionally, but with or without spite) park in my spot?

I was fuming from his lack of consideration, and I sent my son to get him to move his car. As the steam was coming out of my ears, I felt like I was waiting forever until he lazily sauntered over to his car to move it. Do you think he even bothered to apologize or tell me why he parked in my spot? Absolutely no way! He just gave me a little wave hello and walked right up to his car. I was sooooo mad! 

It was late, I still had to shower the kids and go through the hellish routine of getting them into bed, and here I was, waiting for Mr. Margaritaville to move his car. I really wanted to give it to him, and at least get a reason out of him. An apology might be asking too much. 

Hold up. I suddenly realized that I was totally being tested at that moment. My cheerleaders in Heaven were waiting to see if I could keep my mouth shut, or if I would blow it and give the guy a piece of my mind. I could even hear Bob Costas asking in a hushed voice, "Will she be able to pull it off?" 

After holding my breath for about 30 seconds, I am proud to say that I kept my mouth shut! Awwww, yeah! Bring on the gold medal! Hopefully, I scored myself some serious blessings with that one. Somewhere in Judaism it is said that a person who doesn't say anything negative when he has the opportunity to - even if it's constructive criticism - earns a major amount of Divine blessings and abundance. Husbands, that includes giving your wives a few "helpful" pointers on how she can run the house better.

The point? Just keep it shut.

See? There are benefits to keeping our mouths shut. Just don't tell hubby. He will totally use it against me. 

-Racheli


Beware: The Expanding Succoth Waistline

DB Succoth

Succoth begins this coming Sunday night. It was important to me to get this info to you before you begin planning meals - and snacks - for Succoth. This post, if you follow it, will aid your health and save you from needless holiday weight-gain.

Parenthetically, I don't believe in dieting of any kind - most diets are unhealthy fads that lead to short-term weight loss and long-term frustration, metabolic and/or nutritional imbalance, ailments of all kinds and weight gain. The extremes of Paleo and Primal that tell you to eat all the meat and fat you want but stay away from carbs to total vegan that tells you that an egg, sardine or chicken breast will kill you are not in accordance with Torah and the Rambam's timeless advice on nutrition. But, let's save that discussion for another time. Meanwhile, the best advice is what I call "Ivri", eating just the way our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did. That means eating foods as close to the way Hashem created them, with no interference from food manufacturers and genetic modifiers. With that said, let's talk about Succoth...

In Judaism, Succoth is the annual "joy harvest", where we gather happiness for an entire year. The problem is that with multiple daily festive meals, visiting friends and relatives in their Succas and partying all week long, most people gather pounds in addition to the joy. And, the excess weight eats away at the joy…

But like Rebbe Nachman tells us, there's no despair in the world. Today's Beams might save you from adding two inches to your waistline this Succot. None of us want to go the route of gaining needless weight, so let's do a little holiday-eve preparation with this food for thought:

The perenniel post-holiday problem of many Jewish people is the added calories, pounds, flab, and cholesterol of a week of eating and rejoicing in the Succa. As the Beams is committed to the health of body, mind, and soul, we've composed a few guidelines to combat the expanding Succoth waistline.

Beware of empty calories: empty calories come from nutrient-scant foods, especially manufactured products, fast food and junk food. Stick to what I call nutrient-dense foods, where you get the most nutrients from each calorie consumed. Here, the winners are fresh vegetables, fresh foods and naturally dried (not roasted or salted) seeds and nuts. Nutrient-scant foods (cakes, pastries, sweets, soft drinks and liquor) are outright dangerous to the body.

Beware of the cakes: Many people want to make a blessing on the Succa every time they enter it. But, one really shouldn't make a blessing unless he eats something. For that reason, many folks eat cake ("mezonos", at a minimum amount of a little over and ounce) so they can say the "Leshev B'Succa" blessing, the blessing to sit in the Succa. If a person eats 2 ounces of cake 3 times a day, that adds another 840 calories to his daily intake. The Melitzer Rebbe shlit'a says that one should make a "Leshev B'Succa" blessing only when eating a proper meal that includes washing your hands and breaking bread. So, don't eat cake for the purpose of making a blessing to sit in the Succa. If a person eats 3 average-sized portions of cake a day for the 9 (outside of Israel, 8 in Israel) days of the Succoth/Simchat Torah holiday, he'll gain more than two pounds. We suggest eating sliced fresh carrots or sliced green apples instead of the cake.

Beware of the liquor: Many people make a "Lechayim" every time they visit the Succa of a friend and relative. In Israel, quite a few people that barely touch alcoholic beverages all year long keep them on hand to serve guests, and end up toasting glass-per-glass with the guest. A one-ounce shot of vodka or 86-proof Whiskey is 70 calories, while an ounce of a 72-proof liqueur such as Kahlua or Banana Liqueur is a hefty 117 calories. 3 "Lechayims" a day is enough to pick up another half pound during the week of the holiday. Adding that to the cakes (see above), you've already gained 2.5 pounds during Succoth. Putting the weight on is so much easier than taking it off.

Beware of sweet beverages: Succoth is a time when parents allow the Pepsi and the Coke to flow freely all week long. Now hear this - an 8-ounce glass of Coke Classic is a whopping 97 calories, just as caloric as the equivalent amount of beer or of a slice and a half of bread. A person that drinks 6 glasses of cola a day will gain almost a pound on Succoth, plus wreck his teeth in the process. We suggest that you reach for the mineral water, sparkling water, or herb tea instead, for they have zero caloric value.

Beware of snacks: People like to munch in the Succa. We all know that you can't eat one Frito or potato chip - therefore, those plastic bags empty fast. One ounce of fritos, potato chips, or our Bamba and Bisli add another 160 calories to your calorie-aglore score. If a person drinks two glasses of cola and consumes two ounces of snack foods a day, he'll gain over a pound during Succoth. Again, fresh carrot and cucumber sticks are a virtually non-cloric and healthy replacement for the junky snack foods. And, if you want something sweet, try Madjool dates or dark chocolate that's 85% cocoa or more, but limit yourself to 2 dates or 2 chocolate squares a day.

So, with the cakes, the l'chayims, the cokes and the snacks alone - without the heavy meals that include kugel and fat meats, you've already gained close to 5 pounds. And, if you drink diet beverages and use artificial sweeteners, you might not gain the weight but you'll be likely to suffer from headaches and anxiety.

True, tradition is important; that is, as long as it doesn't ruin your health. Here at the Brody homestead, whole-grained rice, buckwheat groats and quinoa have replaced fried farfel and oil-dripping kugel. We don't fry, but boil and bake. We eat loads of veggies and fresh fruit, and drink local mineral water. Fish and lean poultry have replaced the beef and veal, and we eat animal protein sparingly. Dessert is homemade applesauce, fresh cantelope cubes, or an almond-stuffed fresh date. Our bread is home-baked and whole-grain, preferably spelt. We want to control what enters our bodies; the manufacturers care about making money, not about our health. That's why we don't buy their products. Our bodies weren't designed to digest the myriad of chemical additives and preservatives that they force-feed us.

The Rambam gives an important reminder - don't eat until you're full. The stomach resembles a washing machine - if you overload it, it can't do the laundry. By the same token, an overloaded stomach can't digest, resulting in indigestion, another common Succoth ailment.

A great way to combat the the expanding Succoth waistline is to walk for an hour a day. Better yet, while you're walking, talk to Hashem in personal prayer. That way, your body gets its exercise and your soul gets its nourishment, that is none other than connecting with Hashem. What could be better? Breslev Israel and the Beams wish you a happy and healthy Succoth with no indigestion and no expanding waistline, amen.


Let it Go

Shavua Tov, everyone! Racheli here, and I can't believe another week has gone by! I'm half asleep, so I hope this post makes sense. Here's a thought that we should all try to work on this week. It's called forgiveness. To me, that's such a non-pc word. I hate it. But a word I hate even more is the word, "sorry," but only if I'm saying it. If my husband says it, I first get more mad at him, because then I have no excuse not to forgive him. And that's the problem.

Let's be honest. Many times we don't want to forgive the other person because we still feel like we have the upper hand. Assuming they're asking for our forgiveness, it means we know they're wrong, and they know they're wrong. Therefore, we feel like we deserve to hold it over their heads. Maybe we would like a little more groveling and some begging? Or is it just me? 

Believe me, I know how hard it is to forgive, especially when our hurt feelings are completely justified. For me, agreeing to forgive someone that wronged me is almost as bad as admitting that I was wrong, even if I wasn't. What's the alternative? Holding a grudge? What good does it do us? Does it make us happier and less stressed? And what if it's family or someone we see every day? Does it make things easier by having to avoid each other, or pretend like the other person doesn't exist? Doesn't that just ruin any fun family get-together? Or is that an oxymoron in itself?

Holding back our forgiveness is one of the evil inclination's favorite tricks. Not only does he manage to rob us of our happiness and weigh us down with anger, stress, and all types of negative emotions, but he manages to take away our blessings at the same time. When we don't forgive another, we are literally shutting off the channels of abundance that should be pouring down on us. It's really like the saying goes: we cut off our nose to spite our face. In the end, we are the ones that lose. 

And, of course, I have to remind you (and me) that lack of forgiveness = lack of emuna. Ultimately, we don't really believe that it was Hashem that sent that person as a messenger of divine justice. That person, for whatever reason, was chosen to do the dirty work. So if we're like the rabid dog that's getting his poisonous slobber all over the stick that he's biting, instead of looking at the person holding the stick, then we've missed the point of the message and soul correction that Hashem was trying to send us. 

At the end of the day, holding a grudge is just not worth it. Let it go. You don't have to be best friends with that person, but just be on amicable terms. You'll feel so much better aftewards, I promise. With Rosh Hashana only a few short weeks away, there is no better time than now to fix our broken relationships. So this week, any time someone hurts, insults, annoys, or bothers the heck out of you, repeat this invaluable mantra to yourself: let it go. 

Wishing you a wonderful week!


Open Your Eyes

Hey, all! It's Racheli, and I'm ready for a nap. Actually, now that the kids are back in school, life is getting more manageable again. In fact, yesterday my husband and I celebrated the kids' return to school by going out for breakfast! What a treat! Of course, I couldn't stop myself from trying to get something for free, because it's just so fun to get stuff for free. The best part, aside from my free mushrooms on top of my salad, was that I actually got to eat my entire meal sitting down. Yes. They charge for mushrooms. The nerve of them! 

As I was driving my date out of the parking lot in my garbage-mobile, I stopped to let an old lady cross the street. Is saying that someone is old politically incorrect? Is there a more acceptable term these days? What about "youth-challenged"? That's just too long, so let's stick with old. Anyhow, there was a car to my right, waiting to get out of its parking spot. The guy started honking at me like crazy, but I had nowhere to go. I couldn't go around the "elderly" lady, because there was another car waiting in the opposing lane. So I sat there for a whole 15 seconds. Big deal. But this guy couldn't contain himself. He honked and honked until I was able to move. 

His gross impatience was a perfect example of an important lesson. Oops - was "gross impatience" not pc? Sorry. So the lesson he taught me was twofold: first, use your common sense. If I'm stopped behind you, is it because:

a) I don't want to go home, because I have laundry all over the couch

b) I am bored and thought I would pass the time by stopping behind your car

c) I'm not driving because I just can't at the moment. 

Hmmm. Tough call.

Second part of the lesson: we all tend to be extremely short-sighted when confronted with frustrations. We can't see how Hashem has put that obstacle in our path for a reason. If we are able to control our reaction and count to one, maybe we will be able to realize that there is a big picture, and if we're facing an obstacle, it must be for our best. 

Hopefully I and some other lucky person out there will be able to remember this the next time we're faced with an annoyance, or worse. If we open our eyes and try to see Hashem in our situation, we will be able to bear it much more easily. I'll make sure to read this post numerous times this afternoon, when my nerves are being tested every three seconds by my adorable, sweet, agreeable children. That was pc, right?