56 posts categorized "Concepts in Judaism "

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Just like all good things come to an end (I'm full of outdated phrases today, no?)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.

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