61 posts categorized "Advice and counseling"

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? 

Ein Od Milvado

If there were only three words in my lexicon, this is what I'd choose - Ein Od Milvado, there is no one but Hashem. Whenever you feel anxiety, fear, sadness or worry in the slightest - repeat these three words and see what miraculously happens to you.

Israeli singer Shlomi Shabbat sang this gorgeous melody that was composed by Tomer Hadadi with lyrics by Yossi Gispin. I get chills up my spine and tears in my eyes whenever I hear it, even if I hear it 100 times a day. Now, our special friend, one of Jewish music's brightest young stars Dudi Knopfler from Monsey, came out with a Yiddish version that's every bit as moving as the original. We're delighted to share this with you. Sing along with the chorus:

Ein od milvado, mlo kol ha'aretz kvodo, HaKadosh Baruch Hu melech, va'ani avdo...

"There is no one but Him; His glory fills the world! The Holy One Blessed be He is King, and I am His servant."

Have a lovely Shabbat! Don't ever forget that Hashem loves you, and we do too.

What to do about an Overweight Wife

Overweight wife
Dear Rabbi Lazer,

My wife is way overweight. Whenever she gets pressured by anything, she grabs chocolate rugalach (croissants - LB) to console herself. I've tried everything to get her to diet, but if she loses two pounds in one week, she'll gain back four the next. What do I do? I'm trying my best not to look at other women, but with my wife more and more turning me off, it's getting harder. By the way, I really appreciate all your health and exercise advice - it's really helping me. With appreciation and hoping to hear from you, Meir

Shalom, Meir!

  1. The first thing that you must know is that a husband's prayers for a wife are very powerful. In your daily personal prayers (which I hope you're doing), invest 5 minutes of prayer for her in your own words. Ask Hashem to uplift her self-esteem and ask Hashem to help you give her the love and attention that she needs, so that she won't have to find solace in sweets, which are none other than chocolate-covered poison for the body.
  2. Buy her a gift of a new pair of walking shoes and take walks together; start for short durations and work it up to an hour, at least three times a week. If you have small children, it's worth it to pay a babysitter during this hour. You can't imagine what it will do for your health and relationship.
  3. Diet never helps. You must influence her to change her thinking and lifestyle, but this should be done as a couple. Cakes, cookies, ice-cream and other sweets as well as soft-drinks and other sugary manufactured foods should be considered as if they're not kosher, just like keeping pork in your home, for these substances destroy health. Together, go on an eating regiment (lifestyle, not diet!) that is based on foodstuffs that are unadulterated by manufacturers. Get all white sugar, corn syrup solids and modified starches out of your life - that includes cereals, cakes, cookies and most manufactured foods. Compensate with the best fruits, veggies, fish, meat and poultry, and cheeses. Once you lower carbs, you can enjoy nuts and seeds without worrying about gaining weight.
  4. Meir, intrinsically, a wife wants her husband to love her more than anything. Make the first move and give her that love, and I promise that she'll bend over backwards to please you. Meanwhile, offer her an incentive of a nice chuck of money to buy new clothes every time she drops a size or two. This is much better than paying doctor bills and it's also a mitzvah from the Torah to clothe your wife (ksut).

Start with the above four steps and keep me posted. I pray for your success and her good health. Blessings always, LB

Dismantling: a stress-management strategy


The Talmud offers practical homiletic advice on how to survive under extreme stress:


Rabbi Akiva sailed from Israel to Cyprus. Before he left port, he saw his prize understudy, Rabbi Meir, board an older vessel, also sailing to Cyprus. In the midst of their journey, a terrible gale struck the Mediterranean. Rabbi Akiva's heart broke as he gazed into the distance, wincing while the storm lashed into the decrepit craft that carried Rabbi Meir. In a matter of minutes, the latter's ship was utterly destroyed...

A tear slid down Rabbi Akiva's cheek. "What a waste of a brilliant mind!" he lamented.

Several days later, upon reaching the shores of Cyprus, Rabbi Akiva entered a local synagogue and house of study. Flabbergasted, he froze in the doorway. Rabbi Meir was in the middle of a lecture to a group of Cypriot Talmud students. Seeing his esteemed teacher and spiritual guide in the doorway, Rabbi Meir ceased lecturing. "Rabbi Akiva, my honored master, please come inside!"

Rabbi Akiva could barely speak. "M-Meir! Y-You're still alive! H-How did you get ashore?"

"Simple, my master. Instead of focusing on the stormy sea, I rode one wave at a time. I caught wave after wave until I reached the shore!"

* * * * *

Had Rabbi Meir attempted to battle the entire tempestuous sea, he would have expended his strength in a short time. Instead, he used the centuries old formula of "divide and conquer" - Rabbi Meir knew that he couldn't overcome the sea, but he could surely cope with one wave at a time. Even more amazing, he arrived ashore before Rabbi Akiva!

The 2nd-Century CE sage Rabbi Meir teaches us the secret of staying on top when we seem to be buried under an insurmountable load of stress. Don't fight a whole raging sea, or don't try to move a one-ton boulder that's in your way. Take a 5-lb. hammer, and break chips of the boulder. Before you know it, the boulder - that ton of stress on your shoulders - is no longer there!

The secret of handling an overload of stress is dismantling - don't try to deal with all your pressures simultaneously. Ride one wave at a time, and you'll make it safely to shore, too.

Don't forget also that the best way of dismantling is to take all the problems off your own shoulders and throw them onto Hashem's lap. You do that with an hour a day of personal prayer; that will really make you feel light on your feet!

Ending the Hostilities

No more fighting
When we're faced with a problem that looks unsolvable, we should learn how our forefathers handled similar situations. Here's something very recent with a happy ending:

Dec. 25, 2015

Shalom Rabbi Brody.

It's Mrs. F. from NYC  here. I have a question and any advice or guidance you can give me will be tremendously appreciated.

My oldest daughter Chavi is 7 years old (second grade). There is a girl in the class that she is constantly fighting with. They literally fight verbally and physically. This is going on for a few months already. The teachers tried implementing some positive reinforcements, but nothing helps. They are both tough kids and keep getting at each other's throats. Today the mother called me after school, and told me that my daughter shoved her daughter and made her fall down the steps (as a side note-my daughter came home crying that the other girl fought with her terribly today), and that something must be done; we must involve someone here. Now, it is true; my daughter - as precious and delicious as she is - is also a high-voltage child that could get aggressive when she plays or things don't go her way or highly anxious but only at home with her us and her brothers.

My question is as follows: aside from saying THANK YOU HASHEM FOR THIS WONDERFUL CHALLENGE, and  asking Hashem for guidance when I (try) to my daily hour of personal prayer, am I supposed to do any form of hishtadlus (effort - LB) here like calling a professional and or take my daughter to get evaluated and maybe get approved for some sort of therapy they will provide? (in general, she plays nicely with other children- I have never seen her acting aggressively with the neighbors and we have plenty of girls all around. somehow this girl brings out the worst in her).

How do I deal with this other mother? Do I let her involve whomever she chooses and follow a plan she will come up with?

Thank you for always being here for us. Your encouragement and guidance with Hashem's help is what keeps us going!!! Mrs. F

B"H, Dec. 25, 2015

Dear Mrs. F,

Have a three-pronged plan like our forefather Jacob did before his historic confrontation with Esau - doron, tefilla, milchoma - he prepared to appease Esau with a gift, he prayed, and he prepared himself for war. The girls have already been having the war, so now you should pray to Hashem for peace and teach your daughter to do so also. As far as the gift goes, I suggest that you buy a nice gift for the other little girl, and you and your daughter go visit the girl and her mother and give them the gift  - with Hashem's help, this will be a pleasant surprise for them that will surely make Shalom. My prayers for your success!

With blessings always, LB

Dec. 27, 2015

Rabbi Brody,  I have no words to express my gratitude to you - your words gave us such clarity and peace. We bought a nice book for the other girl, my daughter met her and gave it over (she also added an adorable written card on her own). That other girl literally lit up! Now, the girls are begging for time to play together. Things are looking up.  Thank you for your advice and for EVERYTHING! May Hashem bless you with good health and much nachas from your family until 120!! With much appreciation, Mrs. F

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