40 posts categorized "Breslever tradition and thought"

The Land of Israel: Kinneret's Holiness

Rebbe Nachman said, "Wherever I walk, I walk in the Land of Israel." He knew what he was talking about, for walking in the Land of Israel is being immersed in kedusha, holiness. And, when Rebbe Nachman visited the holy Land of Israel, he made a beeline for Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee. He knew what he was doing...

Those who love the Land of Israel say the word "Kinneret" as if it were the name of their long-lost love. The Sea of Galilee is known as Kinneret in Hebrew, from the word kinor, or violin. Most people will tell you that Kinneret got its name because it's shaped like a violin. Your brother Lazer will tell you otherwise - Kinneret's gentle waves play music like a violin. 

"Eretz Yisroel is holier than all other lands" (see Mishna, Kelim 1:6 - LB). Kabbala teaches that Eretz Yisrael has a holiness that manifests itself by seven different spiritual lights that illuminate the seven different sections of the Holy Land, corresponding to the seven spheres of Chessed to Malchus. Kinneret receives her illumination directly from the Shechina, the Divine Presence.

We all long for the Shechina. We're waiting eagerly for the redemption of our people, when the Shechina will illuminate all of Eretz Yisrael in an indescribably exquisite splendor. One look at the Land of Israel in all of her glory will make everyone forget about the senseless and meaningless material idiocies they chased after their entire lives. Soon, very soon, amen.

Three Levels of Peace

Policemanmachpela Lazer with security forces in the holy city of our Patriarchs Hevron, during a day of Emuna Outreach lectures at the Machpela Cave

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev explains that a person's quest for peace must be threefold - between him/herself and G-d, between him/herself and the Jewish people as a whole, and within him/herself.

In order to develop a harmonious approach to life as a whole, one must develop the ability to find Hashem's presence everywhere and in everything. That way, a person can feel love for Hashem regardless of the situation - whether things are good or seemingly bad.

If a person doesn't love G-d, he or she won't feel love for a fellow Jew. Therefore, the love of G-d is a prerequisite for ahavat Yisrael, the love of fellow Jews. Ahavat Yisrael leads to peace and unity; peace and unity among our people will hasten the redemption, soon and in our time, amen.

10 Teveth: Rebbe Natan's Yahrtzeit in Pictures

Today, 10 Teveth, 5778, is Rebbe Natan of Breslev's 173rd yahrtzeit.

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Image 1, above: Praying by the holy gravesite of Rebbe Natan Sternhartz, 1780-1845, known as "Rebbe Natan (Nosson in Yiddish) of Breslev", Rebbe Nachman's prime disciple, who wrote down all of Rebbe Nachman's teachings. Today, 10 Teveth, is his "yahrtzeit", the anniversary of his passing from the physical world. The gravesite is located in Breslev, Ukraine.

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Image 2, above: Rebbe Natan's gravesite, outside view.

Image 3, above: The Bugg River and the view of the Ukrainian countryside from Rebbe Natan's gravesite in Breslev, Ukraine.

Image 4, above: Personal prayer along the banks of the Bugg River, at the same exact spot where Rebbe Natan would spend hours pouring his heart out to Hashem.

May Rebbe Natan's holy and immortal soul intervene in our behalf, amen!

The Innocence of Simplicity

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev in his far-reaching spiritual vision saw the ills of this generation and of its leaders. He knew that the downfall of leaders and of countries would stem from a negative form of sophistication that manifests itself in several fatal phenomena as we'll soon see. He foresaw the sophisticated pseudo-intellectual leftist media that ridicule the Ten Commandments and glorify debauchery in the same breath. He saw leaders of countries becoming entangled in scandals and spiderwebs of immorality. He saw the New Age values that bow down to the idols of sophistication, resulting in:

    1. A total breakdown of faith;
    2. Global and individual narcissism that destroy interpersonal relationships and world peace;
    3. Immorality;
    4. Injustice, where powerful criminals and corrupt leaders sit posh offices rather than in jail cells;
    5. Corruption to the point where entire political and "legal" systems are geared to perpetuate the self-interest of the ruling despots;
    6. Total disregard for basic human rights, especially of the "silent majority" that lacks political representation.

The list goes on...

Fortunately, Rebbe Nachman always leaves us in a positive tone of hope and faith. He gives us the direction to take so that we can find happiness and success. He sends us to the real diamond mine of the rarest commodities on earth today: simplicity, innocence, purity and integrity. These four qualities are really aspects of the one true quality of simplicity, which according to Kabbalistic teachings, most characterizes the Almighty. No wonder that this characteristic was especially dominant in the personalities of our forefathers and our spiritual and national leaders, who did their utmost to fulfill the Torah's commandment of emulating our Creator (Deuteronomy 10:20).

What ever you do, don't miss today's emuna news and weekly emuna shiur and live broadcast from Jerusalem entitled, "The Innocence of Simplicity", which 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 (while we're already on Standard time, the USA is still on Daylight Savings until after this coming Shabbat - take that into consideration); 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.

My Fire Will Burn




My stomach is about to burst. Yet I can't stop eating. Right now I'm enjoying a disgustingly appetizing mix of canned mercury tuna, guacamole, salsa, and re-fried black beans. I put them on this Hulk-green veggie cracker. David's going to let me have it when he finds out, because I made so much fun of his breakfast this morning. And then I made the same thing.

Is food envy a real thing? Like, psychologically? What does it mean?

Deep thoughts aside, I'd just like to say that I'm fed up of being in the kitchen. I spent most of my Sukkot cooking... in the kitchen. Because where else would I cook? In addition, most laundry was off limits, so I had some free time. It's not like I have a life or anything. The truth is, I didn't leave Bet Shemesh because I'm terrified of getting stuck in traffic with five kids in the car. Someone suggested that I take them to the zoo, but I was like, why would I do that? I live at the zoo. 

If you still have some brain space left, then you're probably wondering why I posted a picture of half my stove top. It's because I had no idea what else to post. 

So here are the real reasons. First, I was too lazy to clean the other half. Second, on Shabbat, we had my husband's second cousin twice removed and her family over. What in the world does that mean?! What is a second cousin twice removed? Is that the same thing as a third cousin? Is it easier than saying, "My mother's cousin's daughter's from her mother's side?

We were talking about her new neighbor, who happens to be Breslev, and my husband asked her jokingly if she had a big "B" on her forehead, to which I responded, "No, she has the fire symbol in diamonds on her forehead."

This fire symbol is actually made up of part of Rebbe Nachman's famous phrase, "My fire will burn until the Mashiach." After saying that to him, it occurred to me that Rebbe Nachman and I have something in common.

My fire will also burn until the Mashiach, because of all these holidays that I keep having to cook for. I hope the Mashiach comes soon, because I'm ready to go on strike. Can anyone tell me why there's no kosher Chinese take-out here? I mean, is that normal?? We're a town of like, 100,000 Jews! WHERE'S THE CHINESE FOOD??? 

But seriously, how much can one woman cook? And shop? And watch the laundry grow and invade the rest of the house like the Blob? And suffer through two endless weeks of kids at home? I went food shopping yet again this morning so I can spend the rest of today getting my nails done. Plus, I didn't go to Zumba this morning. I'm a very irritated Iraqi. Stay away. 

This has been a loooong month for all of us. And it's been even longer for all of you that don't live in Israel. The two day plus Shabbat holiday thing is crazy hard! I gotta give you guys a lot of credit. 

Guys? Did I just write guys? I meant Gals! Holy women, the credit and admiration goes to you! Without your hard work and major lack of sleep, most of us might be enjoying our holiday dinners with a can of tuna or a salami sandwich. Give yourselves a pat on the back. Better yet, treat yourselves to a massage. I'll also give credit to any man who was man enough to help his wife or take care of the meals on his own. You rock.

All of you who have celebrated this intense month of holidays should know - your fire burns bright, too. Your souls are lit up from all of the spiritual energy that you've been connecting to, and this will carry you through an exciting year filled with every blessing you need. Very soon, G-d willing, we will greet our Mashiach together with great joy and lots of dancing! 

Speaking of dancing, wishing you all a wonderful and joyous Simchat Torah!

Oh, and one more thing. If you think my food concoction was gross, you should just know that one of my son's friends came over just now with a can of sardines. He ate the whole thing and managed to leave globs of smelly sardine oil on my new tablecloth. Thank G-d it was plastic. Okay, my stomach is not happy right now. Gotta go wake Sleeping Beauty so I can complain to him about his revolting food creation. 

Rebbe, Rebbe

Gmar Tov! We hope you're having the best Succoth holiday of your life...

Uman this year was so memorably meaningful. I already miss being by Rebbe Nachman, especially since yesterday was his 207th yahrtzeit. With this in mind, here is one of my favorite melodies, which I was humming the whole time I was by Rebbe Nachman's holy gravesite in Uman this past Rosh Hashana. It's called, "Rebbe, Rebbe".

A Breslever custom is to say a hitkashrut prayer before every mitvza, where we bind ourselves to all the true tzaddikim and particularly our own rebbe, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, osb"m.

Yehudah Green turned the hitkashrut prayer into a beautifully stirring melody named "Rebbe, Rebbe." Here, our dear friend Chassidic singer Duddy Knopfler with the Meshorerim Choir sing a moving rendition, which I'm sure you'll enjoy as much as I do. Below are the lyrics in Yiddish transliteration, in Yiddish and in English translation. Enjoy and have a wonderful Succoth and New Year 5778!

Rebbe, rebbe, mir villen zich mikasher zein Tzu dir

Hinneni mikkasher nafshi, ruchi venishmasi lenishmas adoni mori urabi

Im shaar hatzadikim veha'avos hakdoshim ve'im shaar hatzidkanios vehaimahos hakedoshos

רבי, רבי, רבי, מיר ווילען זיך מקשר זיין צו דיר

הנני מקשר נפשי, רוחי, ונשמתי, לנשמת אדוני מורי ורבי

עם שאר הצדיקים והאבות הקדושים ועם שאר הצדקניות והאמהות הקדושות

Rebbe , rebbe, I want to bind myself to you

I hereby connect the three elements of my soul to the soul of my master, teacher and rebbe,

Together with the other tzaddikim the holy patriarchs and the holy matriarchs. 

The Real Reason for Yom Kippur

Photo from Racheli Reckles (18)

Happy post-Yom Kippur! How was your fast? Not that you care, but I'll tell you about mine in a minute. But first, I'd like to share this hysterical and very appropriate picture that Rebbetzin Channen just shared with me.

Aside from being absolutely true, this picture gave me a whole new insight into Yom Kippur. I'd just like to say that if Sunny I sat on that chair right now, it might groan and the legs might start bending in agony until it collapses and dies of suffocation. Now I'll share the incredible chiddush (insight) I got, direct from Shamayim about the meaning of Yom Kippur. 

And before you get all mad at me, realize that this is a joke. And go eat something.

WHY did Hashem stick Yom Kippur between Rosh Hashana and the rest of the holidays?

BECAUSE He wanted us to fast so we'd reset our metabolisms so we wouldn't gain so much weight that we'd tilt the world off its axis!

Okay, it was a bad joke. Really. Bad.

I bet you Jackie Mason could have made it funny, though. 

So now I'll tell you about my Yom Kippur, because I'm sensing that you can't handle the suspense anymore. But before I begin, I'd like to say that there's nothing I enjoy more than mopping the floor, doing laundry, dishes, straightening up the house, and feeding other people before I feed myself right after I finish a nearly 26-hour fast.

You like how I did that? Added suspense on top of suspense? 

My husband and I were doing comparisons, more like arguing actually, over who had the harder day. We're very competitive, he and I. While I didn't spend my day in a prayer marathon like he did, I was doing my best to fight off my massive caffeine headache and cold while trying not to yell at my kids by hiding under my bed most of the day.

That wasn't so easy, because there's only an inch of space between my bed and the floor, and my a/c unit decided to keep on going all day long because somebody thinks he lives in Antarctica. It was f-f-f-freeeezzziiing in my bedroom! Doesn't David realize that I don't have whale blubber as insulation? Does he even know what I look like? 

Anyhow, it's not like it's that hard for my kids to find me. I'm not exactly in the west wing of the mansion, after all. I should learn to lock the door. All in all, I prayed for about five minutes. At least, I think I prayed. Does yelling repeatedly at the ceiling, "G-d help me!" count?

In between reading books and breaking up fights and trying not to drool on the food that I served my kids, I managed to close my eyes for a few minutes here and there. Actually, come to think of it, the drooling wasn't so bad this year. The day before, I ate - and I'm not exaggerating - FIVE slices of pizza and THREE cinnamon buns. Fo' serious! In reality I was so thankful for the fast because I was suffering from the type of regret that only comes with doing something you really, really... regret. 

Amazingly, by the end of the day, I was so spiritually charged that this deep spiritual thought came to me. Like ruach hakodesh. Divine inspiration, light-headedness, whatever. No difference for my purposes. I'm almost a prophet at this point.

But really, this post does have a point, and it's hidden in the gematria of Yom Kippur. Get ready for a chiddush that'll knock you off your broken scales!

Yom Kippur = Intermittent Fasting!!

Seriously, where's my Nobel prize already. I'm getting impatient. Nobody likes an impatient Iraqi. 

So here's the deal about intermittent fasting. It's a fantastic way to supercharge your metabolism, detox, lower your blood pressure, help cure diabetes, lose weight when you've hit a wall, and can even be used as an important part of curing cancer, lo aleinu. 

I absolutely love this website, which includes tons of info on intermittent fasting. 

Now we don't have to pull a Yom Kippur every week, so don't get scared. I fast every day. Here's how I do it: I try not to eat after 7 or 8 pm, and then don't eat again until about 1 pm the next day at the earliest. Now before you write me off as completely crazy, here's how you can "eat" and still call it fasting: I drink a coffee and add stevia and a splash of milk. I also take MCT or coconut oil in the morning, which gives me tons of calories and energy so I can hit the gym like nobody's business.

That combo plus working out keeps me from being hungry until at least noon. And I drink tons of water. 

There are many ways to fast, and you should check out the link above to learn more about it. The minimum amount of time you want to go without food is 12 hours. 

Oh, and there are people that should not be fasting under any circumstances, or only under a doctor's supervision. Refer to the link to find the guidelines. 

Enough with this nonsense. I can't wait for Sukkot already because I'm making a full Thanksgiving-style turkey dinner!! I'm so excited!! All of you lucky people that are coming to my house had better start fasting from today, 'cause we gonna go downtown to Chinatown!