19 posts categorized "Character development"

Keep Moving Forward

Coconut rice & vegetables

Mmmm, mmmm! Doesn't that look just delicious? Here's another one of my friend Tena's healthy and delicious creations. It's coconut rice and mixed vegetables. I'm so frustrated that I can't eat it right now. Tena, will you please reconsider moving in with me? I'll even let you put my kids to bed and spend 1-on-5 quality time with them while I'm out enjoying my peace and quiet. At least think about it. 

If you want this recipe, email me at racheli@breslev.co.il and I'll send it to you!

What does this picture have to do with the title of this post? Well, nothing, really. I didn't want to put a picture of a guy on a moving walkway, and I'm hungry, so I thought I could at least enjoy looking at yummy food if I can't eat it right now. But now I realized that I actually made things worse for myself. Great, my stomach is grumbling.

So let's talk about this title. What does it mean to move forward in life? It means that you're evolving in your personality and abilities. For example: I was realizing lately that I have greatly improved my Zumba skills, to the point where I'm not tripping over myself and bumping into other people. Okay, so I'm not really bad at all, but I have seen a great improvement. My sister calls me the JLo of Beit Shemesh. I kinda like that! 

As it happens, I love to lift weights as well. I've gotten to be friendly with many of the women in the gym, but I've noticed over the past 8 months that many of them stay at the same level they were on when I joined. In 8 months, I've increased the amount of weights I'm lifting several times. It's very motivating to see myself getting stronger.

But I wonder why some of the others stay at the same level of weights. I actually told one woman that she could clearly lift heavier weights, but she refused to even try, saying it was too hard. 

Unfortunately, this is how many of us behave in life. Hashem is trying to push us to the next level, but how many times do we refuse to budge because we think it will be too hard? Fear of the unknown and fear of failure can be completely incapacitating, and can cause us to freeze in our forward progression in life.

That's why emuna is so key. When we learn to trust Hashem, to believe that we can handle the situations He's trying to put us in for our own personal growth, this is when we are able to move forward. 

What about when things aren't clear? When we're not sure if the direction we're being pushed in is actually what Hashem wants for us? The only way to know is to talk to Hashem about it. Tell Him you're confused and you need clarity, so you can make the right decision. 

We all have so much untapped potential hiding inside of us; things that we can do that we never imagined were possible. Do you not know what your hidden talents are? Do you want to develop the talents that you're already aware of? Then ask Hashem for help! 

I really believe that everyone has a certain gift that Hashem gave them. Whether it's art, music, helping others, cooking, being empathetic, etc., each one of you has a special and brilliant diamond inside that's just waiting to sparkle. Your potential is so much greater than what you're aware of. You just have to ask Hashem to help you reveal it.

Wishing you a wonderful and insightful Shabbat!

~Racheli


Wrong Expectations

So a friend of mine (Racheli here) was telling me that she feels bad that she's not so into praying for long stretches of time and doing her "womanly" duties, such as baking challah, cooking, etc. Her comment made me think of my post from a few days ago, "High Expectations." 

Here's where I think many of us get a little confused. We all have greatness inside of us that has yet to come out. Hashem knows what we are capable of, and yes, we must believe in ourselves and our strengths. However, there can be a very fine line between being our very best and trying to be someone else. Somewhere along the line, we may lose sight of our strengths and instead focus on building other parts of ourselves that are really not top priority for us.

Take my friend, for example. She's highly in tune with others, very empathetic, has a background in addiction counseling, is a wonderful listener and is very encouraging. She can use her strengths to help others and at the same time, enjoy a successful and fulfilling career. Now I feel like I should get a commission for every new client.

So what if she doesn't like to pray for hours on end? And who said she has to bake challah every week? Sure, these things are great and very admirable. But, that's just not who she is. And that's totally okay.

Hashem has created each one of us with a certain set of strengths and priorities. He made us that way to help us achieve our God-given missions in life. Her mission is to help others; so why should she put extra pressure on herself to do something that's not enjoyable for her? As long as she's following a Torah-observant lifestyle, the extras are icing on the cake. 

Are there areas that you are pressuring yourselves into, just because you feel like that is what's expected of you? Then it's time to re-evaluate. What are your strengths? Your talents? Things that you truly enjoy that are productive? How can you best capitalize on them? Focusing on other areas when they are not necessary to your growth will only lead to disappointment, and that is an endless downward spiral. 

Talk it over with Hashem this Shabbat. I bet you'll come up with some wonderful insights about yourselves, and I'd love to hear them. Shabbat Shalom! 

 


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!


The Pep-Talk Selfie

Work on Yourself
The secret of winning coaches and mentors is knowing how to motivate their players, to "fire them up".

Even if you don't have a coach or a mentor, you can fire yourself up with "positive self-talk." Essentially, this is a pep-talk selfie.

Use positive language to describe what you hope to accomplish today, tomorrow and in the future. Tell it to Hashem and pray for it, too.

Unfortunately, people are constantly using statements that cause them to berate themselves, their efforts, or their abilities. What could be greater self-persecution? They need to learn how to turn these around into positive statements instead. That's where "positive self-talk."  You certainly know how to take a selfie with your cellphone camera, right? This is just as easy - give yourself a pep-talk selfie! Make 5 to 10 strong statements that reflect your aspirations and abilities. Share them too with Hashem, and tell Him that you're positive that He hears you and that He'll help you. Do this daily and you'll go a long way.

Don't ever forget though: true personal growth doesn't come easy. In fact, it hurts. But it sure feels great.

 


G-d Despises Bullies

Bully
Bullies should be forewarned: King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3:15, "And G-d shall seek the pursued." In other words, Hashem will come to the aid of the bullied and punish the bully when he least expects it. Rabbenu Bachiya explains that this principle is so strong, that Hashem despise bullies so much, that if even a righteous person bullies an evil person, Hashem will come to the aid of the evil person and settle the score with the righteous person (see Rabbenu Bachiya on Vayikra 22:27).

Hashem loves compassion and kindness, yet hates bullying. True faith means loving what Hashem loves and depising what He despises. It is therefore a mitzva to despise bullies and to come to the aid of the bullied, no matter who they are and where they are.


The Facade

Under the mask

People are always trying to impress each other, especially since modern society places such an emphasis on the exterior. That's why clothes, cosmetics and coiffure are so lucrative. If you're looking for a soulmate, focusing on the facade could be a fatal flaw.

Look beyond the mask. Go deeper. Does he or she have a good heart? Don't focus on their appearance. Close your eyes and listen; discern whether you hear a tone of compassion and caring or a tone of egotism and blemished character. If you listen carefully, you'll be able to hear it. Don't be fooled.

Before a date, the best thing to do is to pray for Divine guidance, that Hashem should show you if this person is the right one for you. Don't go it alone - Hashem will be happy to help, just ask Him!


Face of the True Leader

Face of a true leader
The Gemara tells us than in the generation before Moshiach, the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog. What does the Gemara mean?

A dog walks in front of its master, yet always looks back to see where its master wants it to go. In like manner, the leaders of this generation lack conviction and direction, but look over their shoulder to see which way political convenience and convention wants them to go. That certainly is not the face of a true leader.

How do we recognize the face of a true leader? He leads, without looking over his shoulder or behind him. He looks forward and also skyward, to determine the direction Hashem wants him to take.

This week's Torah portion, Lech Lecha, shows us the portrait of a true leader. I write about it in Decisions of a True Leader, one of my two feature articles in this week's stimulating issue of Breslev Israel web magazine.

Imagine walking into the synagogue and it's packed. Someone is sitting in your seat; you ask him politely to let you sit down, but he claims that it's his seat. You show him the name tag on the seat, and now he claims that it's his name! This really happened - check out the amazing story of The Real Shimon Cohen.

Also featured this week:

Rabbi Shalom Arush - The Gift of Enthusiasm

Dr. Zev Ballen - Liars

Racheli Reckles - Abba Knows Best

Rivka Levy - Who Are You, Really

Howard Morton - The Year of Moshiach

Rabbi Dovid Charlop - Mordechai Schwartz

Enjoy, and blessings for a wonderful new week!