52 posts categorized "Concepts in Judaism "

Cha-ching!

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!  

 


Happy Days

Shavua Tov, friends! Racheli here, and I am sooooo excited! Today is the first day of school!!! YES!! While it may be borderline torturous for us to get our kids out the door and into the classroom during the first several days, isn't it truly one of the happiest days of a parent's life? Well, for me it is. Wait - a phrase just popped into my head, and I hope I'm remembering it correctly. I think it goes: the two happiest days of a boat owner's life are the day he buys his boat and the day he sells his boat. Is that right? Here's my version: the two happiest days of a parent's life are the day he becomes a parent and the day he marries his child off. Is that right, too? Shame on me. Seriously.

As I was counting down the minutes on Shabbat to my long-awaited freedom, which I really shouldn't have been doing, I thought about my Summer of Suffering. Granted, it was only three weeks of suffering, as the Charedi school system only has a three week summer vacation. I don't know about you, but that right there is enough of a reason for me to be Charedi. Why do kids need two months off from school? So they can drive their parents insane? So here was my flash of insight: all suffering comes to an end.

Just like all good things come to an end (I'm full of outdated phrases today, no?) so, too, all bad things must come to an end. Nobody suffers forever - not in this world and not in the next world. Of course, during such trying times, we feel like time has stopped, or at least gone on vacation to Tahiti. Why did Time not take us with him? Don't we also deserve a vacation, especially since we're going through such difficulties? 

Here are two points to remember if you're going through some major, heavy-duty suffering: 1) every moment of pain is a spiritual atonement and soul correction. If we could see how much our suffering cleans us up, we'd welcome it with a "Bring it on!" 2) talk to Hashem! Were any of you stubborn children that didn't listen to your parents the first time they told you to do something, so they had to yell at you or shake you by your shoulders? Maybe they had to punish you in order to get the message across? That's called tough love, and sometimes Hashem has to use the same tactics. Do a soul accounting and figure out what you're doing that's detrimental to your spiritual well-being. And please don't tell me that you're not doing anything wrong.

Reincarnation is one of the foundations of Judaism; as such, we have to look at each life like it's a chapter in our book of lifetimes. We don't know how everything fits together. But we have to believe that there is a bigger picture. Watch Rav Brody's awesome emuna lesson, Life After Death. It'll help you put everything you're going through in a different perspective.

Wishing you a wonderful week! 


Ein Od Milvado

If there were only three words in my lexicon, this is what I'd choose - Ein Od Milvado, there is no one but Hashem. Whenever you feel anxiety, fear, sadness or worry in the slightest - repeat these three words and see what miraculously happens to you.

Israeli singer Shlomi Shabbat sang this gorgeous melody that was composed by Tomer Hadadi with lyrics by Yossi Gispin. I get chills up my spine and tears in my eyes whenever I hear it, even if I hear it 100 times a day. Now, our special friend, one of Jewish music's brightest young stars Dudi Knopfler from Monsey, came out with a Yiddish version that's every bit as moving as the original. We're delighted to share this with you. Sing along with the chorus:

Ein od milvado, mlo kol ha'aretz kvodo, HaKadosh Baruch Hu melech, va'ani avdo...

"There is no one but Him; His glory fills the world! The Holy One Blessed be He is King, and I am His servant."

Have a lovely Shabbat! Don't ever forget that Hashem loves you, and we do too.


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!

Collmenter640
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.