56 posts categorized "Concepts in Judaism "

Spiritually Preparing for Passover

Pesach Commando

We hope everybody is making preparations for Passover with big smiles on their faces. The house will surely be clean, but don't forget the soul. Passover is coming fast and we must prepare ourselves for true liberation - freedom of the soul.

The minute one loses one's personal sense of worth and a positive self image, he or she becomes a slave.

Lack of self-respect, self-deprecation, and ignorance of one's own marvelous qualities and heritage are tickets to the slave train. Shame or embarrassment about one's ethnic or religious background is tantamount to carrying around an iron shackle with a 50-lb. ball and chain.

These feelings of inferiority are an invitation to let society dictate how you should live your life. People who feel inferior are weak; it's easy to exploit a person with no backbone. Controlled and exploited people are the most miserable creatures on the face of the earth.

For a Jew, one of the most important Passover preparation - after getting rid of the chometz - is learning who we are and why we're celebrating. Modern society often discourages us from learning about our wonderful background, our G-d, and what emuna - the full and simple faith in Him - can do for us in every level of life, be it emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and even physical.

Emuna helps you feel good about yourself.  As soon as you begin feeling good about yourself, you become free. Every human has an inherent right to freedom; that's the universal message of the Passover holiday. Happy Passover preparations!

Purim: Hashem's Mercy

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches (Likutei Moharan I:64) that Hashem created the world in order to reveal His mercy, because if He hadn’t created the world, He would have no one to whom He could reveal His mercy.

What do we learn from Rebbe Nachman’s teaching? We come to the conclusion that if Hashem created the world and all the creations therein in order to reveal His mercy – and you and I are His creations – then Hashem created us in order to have mercy on us and to show us His mercy.

With this in mind, we all must tell ourselves:

1) Hashem created me in order to have mercy on me and to show me His mercy;

2) Everything that happens in my life from A to Z is a result of Hashem’s mercy on me.

3) Since everything Hashem does is mercy for me, I have to thank Him for everything that happens in my life.

That's what Purim is all about - Hashem does fantastic miracles and saves our entire nation from annihilation, not because we deserve it, but just to show us His mercy. May Hashem perform unfathomable miracles for us this Purim, which is this coming Saturday night and Sunday (Sunday night and Monday in Jerusalem) and may we all rejoice on this exalted and holy day!

For those who are fasting today, blessings for an easy fast.

Guide for the Purim-Perplexed: To make life easy for our readers, especially those who are newcomers to observant Judaism, Breslev Israel and the Beams have prepared a day-to-day guide for celebrating the joyous holiday of Purim. Click here for to see your day by day and mitzva by mitzva guide, which is easy to read and clear to understand.

On a lighter note, Walt Disney illustrator Ken Becker made me a Purim costume - he turned "Uncle Sam" into "Fetter (Uncle in Yiddish) Lazer" - look at what will soon be appearing on the windows of all the military emuna recruiting offices: Hashem Wants You

The Godfather's Lineage

In a scene from the classic film "The Godfather" (see above image), Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) says to his son Michael (Al Pacino), "Revenge is a dish best served cold." He then explains to his son the "fine art" of assassination: put your enemy to sleep; make him feel like you are his best friend. Once he drops his defenses, get close to him. Do not roar like a lion; do not make a battle cry like a tiger. Just smile. When he opens his arms to embrace you, put a knife in his heart, and be cool about it.

Don Vito the Godfather's advice was not new. If Don Vito had traced his lineage, he would have found that he was a direct descendant of Amalek, who was the grandson of Esau. Esau's soul was rooted in the pit of evil, the primordial snake, the nachash. Their strategy of eliminating their enemy goes back 5,777 years, as far back as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Don Vito didn't invent his mode of assassination, which he passed on to his son Michael. He received it from his father, who received it in an unbroken chain of dark-side tradition all the way back to Sicily, Rome, Amalek and Esau.

If you think that the above is stimulating, then you won't want to miss today's emuna shiur and broadcast entitled "Chocolate-Covered Poison". 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. 

The Countdown Begins


Yesh! That's Hebrew for "Yes!" Tomorrow, David will be home! I don't know why I'm so excited, because it just means more laundry, more mess, more cooking, more dishes, OMG I just realized I went through the same feelings last time he came back from his trip. Does that mean I have conflicting feelings about my husband? I'd better speak with Rebbetzin Channen, our Emuna Therapist, about this.

Today, he had 25 minutes to run into a store and buy a "few" things, since predictably he went over the weight limit. I told him not to order so much stuff, but he didn't listen! Okay, you know I'm being completely sarcastic, right? In my defense, it's hard to remember what I ordered, and to figure out if it's all gonna fit in one suitcase. Since he had another 50 pounds of space, he did a power shopping run at one of the discount stores, 'cause that's how we roll. 

I wanted a new pair of slippers, so he starts sending me pictures of slippers. Then, I started to wonder where I can make myself a T-shirt that says: "My husband traveled the world with Rav Arush and all I got were these lousy slippers." Wait. That wouldn't make sense. I can't talk about slippers on my T-shirt. Can I put a caption like that on my new slippers? You see what happens to my brain when it's overtired? It don't think straight.

Check this out:


And this:


That is so not cool. Why is he sending me pictures of these things? More importantly, why don't we have them in Israel? Isn't it so weird that there are more and better kosher options outside of Israel than in Israel? It's the Yetzer, man! The Yetzer, I tell you!

I'd better get some rest so I can be ready to tackle the  extra 100 pounds of dirty laundry I'm going to have to do this week.


My thinking is cloudy, and I'm trying to figure out an emuna angle to all this. Yesh! Here it is. It's been a long almost-two weeks. Thank G-d things were normal with the kids. By normal, I mean the usual amount of screaming, fighting, crying, and refusing to brush teeth and get into and out of bed. But throughout the times when my husband travels, it's comforting to know that one day the trip will be over, and life will go back to its regular routine, G-d willing.

Many of us suffer through very long periods of extremely challenging and difficult times. These days, no one has it easy. But with emuna, we can help relieve a lot of the negative feelings we have about going through such trying experiences. One day, the tough times will pass, and Hashem will show us how much we have accomplished and how much we have grown and learned, especially from the challenges.

Let's make an effort to really internalize this message, because the alternative isn't that great, right? In life, we basically have two choices: to suffer by believing that everything is random and without a purpose, or to believe that everything is orchestrated by God for reasons we can't possibly understand. Isn't the second one so much better?

I'd love to hear your stories of how you have grown through difficult times and have seen in the end that what you went through was the best thing for you. You can write in a comment, or email me at racheli@breslev.co.il

Have a wonderful day!



The Greatest Kiddush Hashem


Isn't this picture incredible? It's the Helix Nebula, one of the closest nebulae to Earth at a mere 700 light years away. After trying to understand what a nebula is, I couldn't get past the whole expanding ionized gas from a dead star thing, so I gave up. If you're a curious and brainy type, or just plain curious, you can read about it here. 

I don't know about you, but pictures like these just put me in a state of awe. As in, "Awe my God, is that fo' real??" Seriously. Stuff like this should boggle your mind. Looking at the world around you should boggle your mind. Just looking at your own body should boggle your mind. Life is incredible. Hashem is incredible. How does He sustain every single thing in Creation at every moment? 

Isn't that thought enough to hike your awe-factor through the roof? 

A few weeks ago, I was talking with Rav Brody and he mentioned a common question that people ask him: "Why did Hashem put me here?" To which he answers, "So you can learn emuna."

So I was thinking about this, and aside from the next obvious question, which is , "Why do I need to learn emuna?" I also tried to clarify exactly what aspect of emuna he was referring to. Here's what I came up with. 

Historically, Jews have performed the greatest kiddush Hashem (sanctification of Hashem's name) by dying as martyrs. Until the Enlightenment, Jews generally didn't have a problem with emuna. They accepted Hashem's will for better and for worse. 

But with the Enlightenment came tremendous skepticism and doubt as to not only the Creator's will, but the existence of a Creator at all. Now, Jews faced a new enemy: temptation from the outside world coupled with the illusion that God doesn't exist; or if He does, He's not directly involved in our lives.

This is anti-Torah and anti-emuna thinking. Today, we've come to correct this mistaken idea that everything is random, and to believe with all of our hearts that Hashem is here, He knows what He's doing, and He's doing it all for our best. That's what it means to learn emuna.

But there's more. You see, it's not enough to have emuna. We also need to know why we need emuna. The answer to this question can be found in two words: Thank You. If you can go through a difficult time and say "Thank You" to Hashem with all of your heart, even though you don't understand why things have to be this way, then you know you have emuna. Nothing brings you closer to God than really knowing in your heart that He loves you and wants the best for you. 

"Thank You" is the aspect of emuna that helps us create a close relationship with God. Without emuna and especially "Thank You," He's just a far-off Creator that we may intellectually believe in, but not feel a connection to.

I promise you that saying "Thank You" is the greatest kiddush Hashem there is. And one day, you will see how precious those two words were, both to you and to Hashem. 

Wishing you an awe-full week! Terrible play on words. So sorry.


Hormone-Crazed Chickens

How crazy is this? 


And this?

IMG_20170125_194120326 (1)

And this?

IMG_20170125_194048706 (1)

Have you ever seen Siamese eggies in your life? All in all, over the past week, we've had about 20 sets of twins. Thank G-d I wasn't the one giving birth to them. I wonder what this means, you know, spiritually. Is anyone out there a secret kabbalist that might be able to tell me? But you can only tell me what it means on one condition: that I will like your interpretation. If you're going to tell me that this means that we'll double our income four times over, then by all means, do it! Whatever cool and imaginative interpretation you may come up with, just do me a favor and don't tell me these are hormone-crazed GMO chickens gone wild. 

I thought ignorance was bliss or something. No? So I can't just ignore the fact that these eggs might have way too many hormones, even by the crooked FDA standards? Sometimes the truth hurts, don't it.

That reminds me - I was talking to a neighbor and trying to convince her to get on the almost-vegan lifestyle that Rav Brody and I are following, and she asked me point blank: "So what do you eat?" Can you believe that I had no ready answer for her? I was like, "Well, I eat... um... I don't really know.... lots of fruits and vegetables?" It almost sounded like was asking her what I ate. She asked me if I can be more specific. "Umm, I'm not really sure... bananas? Cucumbers? Sweet potato? Black bean pasta?" I was so extremely bothered that I was answering her question in the form of a question. Did I need confirmation? Validation? Was I just confused? I have no idea. In the end, I only managed to convince her that I'm a little bit kooky. 

Well I don't know what that had to do with anything. I guess what I'm trying to say in a very roundabout way is that people don't like to hear the truth unless they're searching for the truth. It's human nature to try to rationalize your point of view, even though it may be totally wrong. It really hurts to be wrong. I know - I am so allergic to apologizing to my husband that I break out in canker sores if the "S" word tries to escape my lips. 

Rav Arush is no stranger to people like me. In fact, he wrote a whole article on people that I like to call "Delusional Tzaddikim." These are baalei teshuva who, upon committing to a holy and Torah-observant life, suddenly believe that they belong light years ahead of where they are. Not only that, they don't think that all of their baggage from their former lives needs to be dealt with and fixed. But have no fear, Hashem is here! Here to bring them back to reality with a good dose of BT Bubble Burst. Hashem ain't afraid to tell it like it is, yo.

You know who else ain't afraid of telling it like it is? That's right, our very own Rav Lazer Left-Hook Brody. He's swingin' punches in his latest article by showing that everything that happens is because Hashem wants it to happen, and for a purpose. Even the Nuremberg laws and Hitler's ym"s rise to power were all Hashem's doing. Rav Brody explains why Hashem was giving us a Warning from Above. Is your jaw dislocated yet? No? Then just wait until you read the article! 

Yours truly is also no stranger to sharing the truth with others, even though it might make me, let's just say, a bit controversial. Okay, I admit it. Some people might get their feathers all ruffled up because the truth ain't so pretty. This week, I'm showing y'all how western medicine is in the business of making money, even at the expense of your life. Instead of helping people learn how to eat properly in order to minimize disease, Big Pharma and the rest of their medical mafia are doing what they can to keep you in the dark and make you think that getting sick is a matter of chance, luck, karma, tikkun, astrology, Mercury in retrograde, your parents' fault, or like, so totally random, dude! In my latest article, I expose these criminals for what they are: Medical Vampires. Read this. Now.  

Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen shares a wonderful and deep lesson she learned about truth over the course of her life. She shows through her own personal example, how much the fear of taking a good look at who we are actually creates so much stress in our lives. We create unnecessary competition, both within ourselves and with others. She takes an objective look at her fear of Measuring Up, and realizes that she was trying to live up to a fantasy instead of being truthful with who she is and what her unique set of strengths were. Don't we all do this to one degree or another? C'mon, be honest! And read this article, STAT!

Even though I have no idea what STAT stands for, I know that it's a medical term, so I think it's perfect to introduce Dr. Ballen next, even though he's not a medical doctor, but a psychotherapist. That's not an MD, is it? I'd better ask him. Until I do, Dr. Ballen exposes a type of sadistic therapist that uses threats and sadism therapy in order to control his clients. These therapists are extremely dangerous! If you or someone you know is seeing a therapist, then you must read Consumer Beware!

After reading my dear friend Sunny Levi's latest article, I'm convinced that she's way too righteous for me. I'm going to have to break up with her. She was able to take a potentially explosive and long-running nasty situation with her next-door neighbor and turn it into sunshine and butterflies - and a brand new martial arts studio! I would have just killed the neighbor. I'm kidding (but not really.) Check out this 6th degree black belt Tae Kwon Do Master's Spiritual Aikido moves! 

Yehoshua Goldstein wants to Get Up Like a Lion, and I just want to Go To Sleep! Here's another one that's too righteous for me. I would never think to ask my Rosh Yeshiva about the characteristics of a lion in order to properly fulfill the halacha of rising like a lion in the morning. Of course, I'm a woman and don't go to yeshiva. But of course. I'm so tired I'm rambling. Anyhow, he found out the meaning, and I bet that it's not what you were thinking! 

Oh, here she is again! Rebbetzin Channen teaches us a great way to thank Hashem for things that you either don't think are worth thanking Him for, or you don't feel like thanking Him for. It's called The Glad Game, for all you folks that never heard of the Walt Disney movie, "Polyanna." Actually, I never heard of it, either. But I'm sure this game is a lot more fun than The Mad Game, or The Sad Game, or The Get Out of My Room Right Now Before I Throw a Hanger at You Game. 

On that note, have a lovely week!




My (Racheli) memory is so weird sometimes. Actually, the really weird thing is the associations I sometimes make between different thoughts and memories. Case in point: last week, I had what you would call, "One of those days." Sigh. Eye roll. I'm not very good with those little smiley icons. 

It started with me being woken up by my kids' screaming that there were cats in the backyard. Then they began screaming because they were killing each other. Then I tried to make a coffee, which I didn't get around to until like 11 am. Then, by the time I actually went to make the coffee, my hand hit the paper cup and spilled the hot water all over the counter. That's what I get for being lazy and trying to avoid doing more dishes. I'm so environmentally unfriendly sometimes. Finally, when I actually got to put the coffee in the paper (I'm very stubborn) cup again, I put almond milk in it by mistake. Yuck. I threw it out and had to start all over. Again.

Since my memory is so bad, I can't remember what happened the rest of the day, but I can safely assume there was quite a bit of fighting, threatening, screaming, laundry, etc. All in a good day's work, I say. So what does this have to do with the title of the post?

Our sages teach us that every difficulty is an atonement for something we did wrong. Okay, maybe not me, but definitely you guys out there. And for sure, my husband. Can't forget to leave him out, right? Every atonement brings us a necessary soul correction. Somehow, this thought made me remember Seth Green in a really silly commercial saying, "Cha-ching" when he was ringing up someone's order. Go figure.

So when you're experiencing "one of those days," you can also say "Cha-ching" every time you knock over a cup of hot water or fall smack on your tailbone during your Zumba class, like I did this morning. So much for being the Zumba Queen. But ain't no one gonna take my title from me that fast. You'z gonna have to come and get it. 

What's the vital lesson we need to keep with us during these last few days before Rosh Hashana? Every atonement is like money in the bank! Next time something goes wrong, instead of getting upset, say, "CHA-CHING!" in your most enthusiastic voice. Okay, I don't think I could do that. But if you can, please, let me know how you did it. Would you do it if I promised you that you would double your money? Well of course I can't do that, silly! 

So thank Hashem for every "cha-ching" He gives you this week. G-d willing, you'll see tremendous blessings because of it for the entire following year, and beyond!