13 posts categorized "Chassidic thought"

Piety with Good Sense

Chossid Tipesh

If you are a man, and your answer to the question in the above photo is "yes", and you consider yourself religious, then you better double-check your value system, because you're not synched with the Torah...

Yes, the hand you see in the above photo is the hand of a woman. And she's drowning, screaming for help with her last breaths. But you don't look at women, and you're shomer negia, so you certainly don't touch them...

The Gemara teaches that any "religious" person who ignores a drowning woman is a pious idiot. The Gemara also tells the story about another pious idiot who saw a baby drowning in a river, but he didn't jump in to save the baby because he wanted to fold up his tefillin first.

Hashem doesn't want pious idiots. The entire Torah is common sense and human decency. Saving lives overrides everything. Where do we learn this from? It's right in the Torah: Moses became the leader of the Jewish People not because he was so frum, but because he never ignored the needs of a fellow human. Blessings for a wonderful Shabbat, and if you're in the NYC area, we hope to see you in Monsey on Motzaei Shabbat.
.


Sky Full of Transmitters

Heavenly Transmitters
People have a weird notion that if their prayers are not answered right away, then either Hashem doesn't hear them or the prayers are ignored, Heaven forbid. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not a single syllable goes to waste. Imagine that there's a sky full of transmitters that record every word you say and broadcast them to the Heavenly Throne. But, more thasn you can possibly fathom in your mind, Hashem hears everything, everywhere - He personally and with no static. Just as you don't jump everytime your seven-year-old asks for something, Hashem doesn't necessarily grant our requests on the spot. Remember - Rebbe Natan of Breslev says that wherever you see deficiency, you'll find insufficient prayer.

Everything we ask for is like an item in a store with a price tag. Our prayers are the currency we use to purchase Divine abundance, both material and spiritual. So, if your request has not yet been fulfilled, it means that you haven't yet paid the whole price. Don't be discouraged - keep praying and you'll see big salvations. I guarantee you that Hashem not only is listening to you, but He loves to listen to you. 


The Blacksmith of Grodno

Blacksmith of Grodno
Shabbat Chanukah reminds me of my great grandfather, who died some 26 years before I was born.

My maternal great grandfather, Reb Yankev ("The Blacksmith") Podrub from Grodno, Belarus (formerly Poland) was a legendary figure in the annals of Stolin-Karlin Chassidus. He arms were like twisted steel, but his disposition was extremely gentle. Although he was a blacksmith. he was also a Talmudic scholar. He worked so that his little brother, Arie Leib, could attend rabbinical yeshiva. Ultimately, Arie Leib became the head rabbi of Meretch in Lithuania and one of the prime students of Rav Chaim Ozer Grudzinski, osb"m.

The renowned "Yanuka" of Stolin, the famous Rebbe Yisroel Perlov ob'm who had over 20,000 Chassidim, would stay in Reb Yankev's house every Shabbat Chanuka when he'd visit his chassidim in Grodno. Even more, The Stoliner Rebbe - who loved horses - insisted that only Reb Yankev shoe his horses. From what the old Stoliner Chassidim told me, the Rebbe loved my great-grandfather's pure and simple emuna and the innocence in which he served Hashem. Reb Yankev would be so excited that the Rebbe was a guest in his home that he'd dance all night long. Rav Binyomin Adler, who was head of the Kashruth Department in the Jerusalem Rabbinate, heard from his uncle - who was also a guest in my great grandfather's home when the Rebbe was there, that Reb Yankev danced all night long in the living room, singing, "Shabbat! Chanukah! Rosh Chodesh! Rebbe!" and making such a commotion that no one could sleep.

What was so special about Reb Yankev? He never spoke small talk. Even at work, he'd mumble tehillim and mishnayot. Also, his trust in Hashem was phenominal - he'd only work long enough to earn that same day's bread with one extra kopeck; he saved the extra kopecks in a jar all year long, and then at the end of the year, he'd use the money to travel to his Rebbe in Stolin for Rosh Hashanna. As such, my great grandfather lived his connection with the tzaddik all year long.

The minute Reb Yankev finished his day's work, he'd fly up the stairs to the Stoliner shtiebel, conveniently located on the second floor over the smithy, and open up a Gemara. Grodno lore holds him as one of the hidden tzaddikim of the area, may his blessed memory be cherished always.

***There's a poignant epilog to the above story: when I received my rabbinical ordination in 1992 from Rav Yitzchak Kulitz of blessed memory, former head Rabbi of Jerusalem, he told me that my great-uncle Arie Leib, Reb Yankev's younger brother, was the rabbi who ordained his father. In fact, when Rabbi Arie Leib passed away, Rav Kulitz's father took his place as the head rabbi of Meretch in Lithuania. It was my great grandfather who enabled his little brother Arie Leib to learn in Yeshiva. Now, Rav Kulitz was ordaining me - a lovely cycle was completed.

I heard the above stories and many more from my grandmother Kailie of blessed memory, from Rav Yitzchak Kulitz of blessed memory, former head Rabbi of Jerusalem, who as a little boy saw my great grandfather, and from Rav Benyamin Adler shlit'a of Jerusalem, whose uncle knew my great grandfather well, and from the elderly Stolin-Karlin chassidim of Jerusalem.

I know that alte zaidie (Yiddish for great grandfather) has nachas (gratification) that his great granchildren are continuing on in the way of Torah and Chassidus. You know what that means? The Greeks and the Hellenists lost, and so did Hitler and western assimilation. With simple emuna, we shall continue to overcome, with G-d's help. Have a wonderful Shabbat Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh!


A nation of miracles

Miracles "For the people of Israel, miracles are the way of nature, for the people of Israel are above nature." Rebbe Nachman of Breslev

Don't be upset with the nations of the world because they don't understand us; they're not capable of understanding us.

Many of our own brothers and sisters don't know what it means to be a Jew, so what can we possibly expect from our neighbors? One of life's biggest tragedies is when the King's own son and daughter don't know who their father is.

Our Father in Heaven can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants. Nature is nothing more than a tool in His hands. Whenever He so desires, He overrides nature. We call that miracles, but for Hashem, it's business as usual.

How can we invoke miracles?

My beloved teacher and spiritual guide Rabbi Shalom Arush says that if you haven't yet seen a miracle today, it's because you haven't said thank-you to Hashem today. So what are you waiting for?


Little Nachman Loves to Learn

In the clip we showed yesterday, Leonard Nimoy bemoaned that Yiddish was becoming a dead language. Unfortunately, he wasn't aware of the Chassidic communities that are so vibrant today in the USA and in Israel.

In today's amazing glimpse into the Chassidic world in Israel, we meet a little boy of four, who like other children his age, reads fluently. He grows up in a world of emotional and intellectual purity. His parents have no computer or TV. As such, after school (which is from 8AM to 5:30PM at age 4 already, with a 90-minute lunch break) Little Nachman is either outside playing or inside reviewing his learning. He does both with joy, as you can see for yourself:


Influential Speech: Don't Shoot from the Lip

Speech without thought is like a body without a soul. A person who speaks without thinking utters empty words, and empty words don't have the power to cast a lasting impression on the listener's heart and brain. Therefore, if you want to influence others, it's a good idea to think before you speak.

The holy Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, of blessed and saintly memory said (Kedushat Levi, parshat Vayigash), "Words spoken from the heart penetrate another heart." In other words, when a person fervently believes and acts according to what he says, his words will have the power to influence others. Simply stated, we must practice what we preach for our words to be cogent.

The Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) tries to make us speak impulsively. Usually, the result of impulsiveness is remorse. When we allow our brains to filter the words that reach our lips, we don't make mistakes.

When someone asks you a question, you certainly have the right to pause for a moment, take a deep breath, contemplate your answer, and then say it. "I have to think about your question for a while," is always a legitimate answer. Any marksman knows that shooting from the hip is much less accurate than taking careful aim.

Shooting from the lip is even worse than shooting from the hip.


Why A Tzaddik?

Dear Rabbi Lazer,

I understand we have to believe in tzadikim however is it permited to think that the only way to connect to Hashem is thru a rebbe? Without a rebbe we can't connect to Hashem? Please advise - I'm only seeking the truth. BD, NYC

Dear BD,

You don't need a rebbe with a multi-colored satin coat who gives out crumbs of his gefilte fish. But we all need a connection to a true tzaddik, a righteous and selfless individual who practices every letter of what he preaches.

Without connection to a real tzaddik, a person can walk around thinking he's perfect; that breeds arrogance, and therefore takes a person away from Hashem. A true tzaddik shows us what we must correct - we can't be arrogant compared to him, indeed, we see how much we have to learn and improve. Therefore, connecting to a true tzaddik brings a person to learn humility, and humility brings him much closer to Hashem. I'd hate to think where I'd be if it weren't for my own rabbi and spiritual guide, one of this generation's true tzadikim, Rav Shalom Arush, may Hashem bless him.

BD, our sages say, Aseh lecha rav - find yourself a rabbi and spiritual guide. It's not easy, so start praying for the right one immediately. I pray for your success.

Blessings always, LB