49 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, each of us has to 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, and may we all rejoice on this exalted and holy day!

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 be appearing on the windows of all the military recruiting offices: Hashem Wants You

The Power of Understudy

The Gemara in tractate Berachot teaches that even if someone knows the entire oral and written Torahs by heart, but that hasn't done understudy under a true upright Torah scholar, the person remains inane. I therefore cherish every moment of understudy that Hashem enables me to do under my esteemed and beloved rabbi and mentor, Rabbi Shalom Arush shlit'a. During our recent trip to North America together, I spent a goldmine of time with my teacher; every word that comes out of his holy mouth, especially in his Torah learning and his giving advice to people, outshines a flawless 5-carat diamond. Here are a few photos that tell a small part of the story; enjoy them and have a wonderful Shabbat:

1 - Rav Arush and I leaving chilly Canada RSA LB Toronto

2 - Listening to pearls of wisdom before takeoff to our next destination Pearls of RSA wisdom

3 - Learning together in the Southern California morning air RSA LB LA

4 - Doing simultaneous translation of the Rav's emuna lesson in Las Vegas Translation booth LB

5- Rabbi Arush utilizing every moment of time - writing his newest book while waiting to be picked up from the airport RSA LAX

Grow a Beard: It's Healthy!

Josh Collmenter, above, is not a Breslever Chassid; he's a Major-League pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks - image courtesy of mlb.com

The Torah tells us not to shave our beard. According to most rabbinical authorities, this applies only to shaving with a razor. Yet, we Chassidim take the stringent view and don't touch our beards at all.

Recent Australian research shows that beards not only prevent skin cancer, but delay aging. See for yourself

At any rate, anyone who stops shaving with a razor is bound to see a big blessing.

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.

Life After Death

Today, the Tenth of Teveth, is the yahrtzeit of Rebbe Natan of Breslev, osb'm. Why do we celebrate a yahrtzeit, the anniversary of a death?

Is life after death a Jewish concept? What awaits a person after the physical life? Is the "near death experience" (NDE) something substantiated in the Talmud and Zohar? With Hashem's help, today's lesson will answer these questions:

The Design Engineer

Design Engineer
Dear Rabbi Lazer,

How do you respond to someone who questions the relevancy of ancient Torah laws to modern day living, i.e. Laws of Kosher, The Sabbath, etc. All the best, You are doing great work, SL from Rockville, MD.

Dear SL,

Nobody doubts that the design engineer of Harley-Davidson knows what's better for a motorcycle engine than anyone else does. If you own a Harley, you're ridiculous not to heed every single clause of the owner's manual. Why? The head engineer wrote that manual; he designed the bike, and knows what's best for it. So if he says, change oil and spark plugs every so-many miles, you'd better listen, or else you won't get maximum performance from your machine.

The same goes for the soul...

Hashem - The Almighty - designed the human soul. If you want maximum performance, you have to fulfill the recommendations of the owner's manual - that's the Torah. Since we are incapable of understanding the spiritual fiber of our own souls, we are also incapable of knowing what's good for the soul. Only the manufacturer - Hashem - knows what's good for the soul, and that's none other than the 613 ancient commandments mentioned in the Torah and elaborated upon in the Talmud and Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law).

Jews have a unique spiritual makeup - the neshama kedusha - that requires observance of 613 commandments. Otherwise, certain damages will be done to that highly delicate and ever so intricate soul. When a person fails to keep kosher for example, his or her soul acquires a coating of impurity that blocks out Divine light. A person who doesn't see or feel Divine light can forget about emuna and spirituality. Lack of spirituality manifests itself in bodily sicknesses, anger, anxiety, stress, and depression, just to name a few.

Yes, the laws are ancient, but so are our souls. The body lasts for 80 or 90 years if you're lucky, but the soul is eternal. We observe the ancient laws for the benefit of our souls, so that we can always be close to Hashem.

With blessings always, Lazer