68 posts categorized "Encouragement"

MC "Hitbodedut" Hammer

PC and Truth
It's amazing that you can find spirituality in everything if you just take a good look. Speaking of good looks, over Shabbat, David and I were arguing over where our kids got their good looks from. Obviously, he points to himself, to which I respond: "Well, that's exactly why I'm asking the question." 

Shameful.

Great, I already forgot what I wanted to say. But you know what I didn't forget? I didn't forget that I ate too much cake on Shabbat. I look about four months pregnant right now, that's how bloated I am. All week long, I'm fine with eating healthy. I don't have any temptation to stuff my waist with processed junk and calories that are going to end up being like that annoying person that can't get the hint that you want him to go away and leave you alone, so he keeps talking and talking, totally oblivious to the fact that you've tuned him out and are trying to make it obvious, but not to the point of being rude, that you just want him to get the heck away from you. Maybe I should have written "her" instead of "him." What difference does it make these days, anyway? Gender titles have suddenly become passe and degrading.

My problem, like many others out there, is that my desire to eat the moist, chocolaty marble cake is aroused only when I see the cake. If I don't see it tempting me from its container on my counter top, then I don't desire to eat it. I just realized that maybe I should put the cake somewhere where I can't see it. But then, how will it get eaten? Do you see my dilemma?

Well, Rav Arush understands my suffering. He realizes that resisting the cake is almost The Toughest Challenge for me. As in every tough challenge, he explains that our attempts to resist our bodily urges are futile without asking Hashem to help us succeed. More specifically, Rav Arush is referring to bodily lust. Even though I'm not a man (but I could say I am if that's how I feel, because this world is so messed up,) I feel your pain, guys. I have found through personal experience that it is absolutely impossible for me to resist my sweet goodies if I don't ask Hashem to save me from my desires. 

So you may be wondering why I titled my post the way I did. If you're not wondering, there's something wrong with you. Back in the '90's, I was in high school, and MC Hammer was all the rage. All of us wore those Hammer pants that looked like something fell inside of them and created this massive hanging piece of fabric between the pant legs. It almost looked like a curtain. I bet those pants could actually have been used as a curtain or as a cape in desperate situations where one needed to shield himself from the sun or suddenly fly away like a witch into the night. 

Well, I distinctly remember one of Hammer's songs, which wasn't his most popular, but it was catchy enough for me to remember it 20+ years later. It's called, "We Got to Pray." The lyrics are so spiritual and profound, that I am totally convinced that Hammer was another hidden Breslever, just like Martin Luther King, as I discussed in last Monday's post. Hence, I've given him the name, MC "Hitbodedut" Hammer. Check it out!

We got to pray (pray), I said we pray (pray,) We got to pray just to make it today. 

Okay, so that's half the song right there, but it gets better:

I tried and tried and tried to make a way, but nothing happened 'til that day I prayed. 

We're sending this one out to the Lord, And we thank You and know we need to pray, Cause all the blessings that are good, they come from Above, And once again we want to say "THANK YOU" to the Lord with all our love.

I'm thinking about coming out with a book called "Hidden Breslevers Through the Ages." Seriously. 

With the anti-God Liberal movement in full swing in the U.S., many people might believe that political correctness is a fairly recent invention. Rav Lazer Brody shows us that actually, it's not. In fact, political correctness dates all the way to the times before the Holy Temples were destroyed. Saying something Politically Incorrect certainly doesn't make you a popular person, especially not in Israel, ironically enough. What's the consequence of ignoring actions that are being done which go directly against the Torah? Oooh, you don't want to know! But, really, you do! Read the article!

Just because I like to enjoy a good piece (or three) of cake, it doesn't mean that I'm not into being healthy. Au contraire, darlings! This week, I examine a type of scientific short-sightedness that I call Medical Myopia.  Instead of focusing on changing our eating habits, drug companies and even vitamin and supplement companies try to re-direct our focus to buying more magic pills or vitamins. But too much focusing on taking pills can make us feel like we don't need to change our lifestyles, if we're giving our bodies what they need through medicines, natural or otherwise. Not to mention that it makes such companies crazy rich. This cuckoo mindset is W-Wr-Wro-Wrong! I've got some shocking statistics in here for you, so definitely don't miss reading this one!

I've decided that Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen's life should be made into a movie. I've never met anyone who has had so much drama, and survived it all! You'll never believe the mess she found herself in this time, on her Walk on the Wild Side. OMG. 

Chana Sherman writes about the struggle of being Torah-observant in the corporate world in The CEO Wears a Sheitel. 

David Perlow is a former IDF soldier, so he knows lots about discipline, fighting, and lust. Oops, what I meant to say was that he makes a brilliant comparison in the way soldiers are forced to depend on their superiors to how we are forced to depend on Hashem, and shows us that we are all spiritual Soldiers of the Honor Guard. *This article is for men only, and by men, I mean those who were genetically born as a man and remain a man. Of course, I had to read the article so I can promote it, but for the duration of actually reading the article, I really believed that I was a man, so according to Liberals, that made me a legitimate man, even if it was only for three minutes. Now, does this make me a transgender? Is there a term for going from one gender back to another and then back again? What an avant garde idea!

Lori Steiner came up with a great invention called The Happiness Meter.  It keeps you from feeling so elated that you'll predictably crash afterward, and it also keeps you from falling into a depression. How does it work? Well, I didn't invent the thing! Read the article to find out.

Dr. Zev Ballen continues discussing the secrets and joys of Living the Simple Life.  With all of the material temptations we face every day, is there a spiritual reason and benefit to resisting them? And if so, how can we accomplish such a tremendous feat?

Wishing all of our awesome readers a wonderful week! 

-Racheli


Disaster House

YES!! David, the guy that I vaguely remember being married to, is finally home! I am so relieved! But, honestly, I'm not sure why. Now I just have more work again. I have to cook more, I have more laundry, I have to pick up more, I have to bring him food to his office when he works late, you know what? Maybe he should go on another trip. On second thought, he does take the kids off my hands for an hour or so a day. And that's worth all of the extra work, in my mind. 

So of course, he came home with two suitcases bursting with stuff. The kids and I were crowding around him, cackling at him to show us what we got, and pushing in front of each other to get the best spot. He was getting so annoyed because we were basically standing on top of him. I got some awesome new workout clothes and a hot pink pair of Nike's. BTW, you want to know something so funny? In Israel, they don't call it Nike like we Americans do. They call it Nike like Mike. They don't pronounce the "e." Isn't that so strange? Nike like Mike. Maybe that should be the slogan for Israel. I'm seeing the whole commercial in my head right now.

It's a pencil drawing of two stick figures, Nike and Mike. And then the narrator says in Israeli English: "Nike meet Mike. Nike like Mike. Nike and Mike friends. Nike kill Mike when he find out Mike pick Trump." The really funny part is that many Israelis don't use past or future tense when they speak English. Everything is spoken in the present tense. So you never really can be sure what they're saying. God I love Israeli English. It's so terribly entertaining.

So it's Thursday night at 10:15, and the house is a disaster. Disaster house. For those of you that don't know Hebrew, disaster in Hebrew is deesasterrr. Clothes are everywhere. Tags and plastic wrap are falling out of the tag and plastic wrap garbage bag. The laundry is a massive blob on the floor by the back door. My kitchen looks like it's suffering from neglect. You would think that I didn't do a thing all day. Oy, the joys of womanhood. 

I was walking around in circles, trying to figure out where to start to deal with the disaster house, and of course, I started complaining. "Just look at this mess!" I muttered. Okay, so I didn't actually mutter. Hubby overheard me and replied, "You just got so many new clothes and you're complaining?" 

Like, oops.

"Go to sleep," I told him. But he has a point. Writing that just made me feel so icky. Anyhow, here's a metaphysical law that even my Saba Al (a.k.a., Albert Einstein) didn't know: blessings and challenges usually go hand in hand. They don't have to happen directly at the same time, but they usually happen pretty close to one another. 

Challenges help us earn the blessings that Hashem wants to give us. If we're aware of this, we can thank Hashem for the challenge and the blessing. And if we're able to thank Him genuinely for the challenge, we may find that the challenge didn't just help us earn the present blessing; it becomes a vessel for future blessings as well!

So thank Hashem for every challenge (and blessing, obviously,) and God willing you'll create a snowball effect of blessing after blessing! 

Wishing you a wonderful Shabbat!

-Racheli

 


I Don't Have Problems

Today I picked up a hitchhiker, which is something I normally don't do, unless it's a woman or a man with a child. But this guy was leaning on his cane and looked so desperate, that I felt compelled to stop. He took a good two minutes to get into the car, because it turns out he suffered some major bodily injury, though I don't know from what. He must have been in his early 40's but aside from barely being able to walk, his speech was severely limited and hard to understand. On the way to where he wanted to go, he told me about his near death experience, which was totally freaky and awesome.

Then, he took my hand and made me put it on his head, where there was literally no skull. There was about a three-inch wide circle with just soft mush under his hair. Totally freaky and not so awesome. He told me that his "white brain" had come out of his head. Is anyone out there squeamish? Sorry.

As he was struggling to talk to me, I tried to keep a normal face while trying not to get more freaked out by the second. I was still alone in the car with a strange man, and even though he didn't appear dangerous, I was getting seriously uncomfortable. When he finally opened the door, I got out of the car to help him leave, because he nearly fell. I helped him get onto the curb and thanked him as he gave me blessing after blessing. Incidentally, only in Israel will a hitchhiker bless you. Totally awesome.

So of course I asked Hashem why He compelled me to pick this guy up, and eventually He answered. The lesson was, that even though my husband has been away for nearly three weeks and it's been very, very difficult with my perfectly-behaved kids, I don't have real problems.

Yes, life is hard. Very hard. Yes, many are struggling with marital issues, child raising issues, sustenance issues. But if you have your health, believe me, you don't have problems. Can you see the screen on your smartphone? Can you walk without a cane? Can you breathe without a breathing tube? Can you eat without a feeding tube? Can you go to the bathroom normally? Can you listen to music or your spouse's nagging? Can you hold something with both of your hands? Can you hug your children with two arms? Can you speak clearly?

Then you don't have problems.

Everything else can be dealt with. But health - there is no greater blessing than good health.  

Wishing you all a wonderful, problem-free day!

Racheli


Hashem Made Me Do It

My husband was showing me a few adorable pictures he took of my two youngest boys, Nachman and Natan. These two are soulmates. Nachman is almost 5, and Natan is almost 3. Their birthdays are both in Adar, six days apart. They have the closest brotherly connection of all of my kids.

What's most interesting to me is that when Nachman was just 14 months old, I was suddenly seized by a desire to have another baby. It came out of thin air. And once I get my mind on something, that's it. I ain't gonna stop until I get what I want. 

I told my husband that I want another baby right now, and he told me that Amazon doesn't do Prime two-day shipping for these kinds of things. What a shame. B"H, one month later I was pregnant.

Now, looking back, I can see why I was so compelled to have another baby. It was because these two souls were extremely close, and they needed to be together. So I realized that it really wasn't my decision to want another baby. Hashem knew that this would be what I needed for many reasons, so He put that desire in me. 

How many times have we had an idea, or done something for reasons that we just can't explain? It's easy to accept that Hashem made us do it when the things that we have done were good. But, I have to tell you that Hashem also compels us to do things that seem to make no sense, either. We can look back on so many stupid decisions and thing, "What in the world was I thinking?"

Well, the good news is that you really weren't thinking anything. Hashem was influencing your thoughts in order to bring about a necessary soul correction for you. Sometimes we can see how it all worked out for the best; and sometimes, we can't. But we have to believe that the outcome will always be good. 

Therefore, let's stop beating ourselves up over our stupid decisions, and stop hogging all the credit for our good decisions. Hashem is in control, and will always be in control. Once we really internalize that, we'll feel so much better, and life will turn into a never-ending fairy tale filled with butterflies and sunshine and lots of money. Okay, so not really.

Have a wonderful day!

-Racheli

 


Hello, Kapparah!

Shavua Tov! I hope your Shabbat was great. Let's start the week off with a pop quiz. Doesn't that make you feel all nostalgic for school? Don't you just miss those dreaded days? So here goes:

In the past month, I have lost my:

a) house keys 

b) checkbook

c) brand new earrings that I didn't even get to wear yet

d) a large blue bag filled with all kinds of nice plastic table wares, such as plates, cutlery, napkins, etc. for Shabbat

e) all of the above

Now, if you may recall, if you don't know the answer, you're supposed to pick "c" for reasons beyond my limited understanding. But if you picked "c" in this case, sorry! You failed! The actual answer is "e!"

Yesiree. I really don't know what is going on with me. Why do I keep losing things?? It's so frustrating to not be able to remember where I put anything. Since I can't stand taking responsibility for anything (just ask my husband,) the real reason that things keep getting lost is because there is a secret black hole vortex somewhere in my house. I suspect that it's in the washing machine. 

Actually, I just came up with an even better possible answer. I think my husband is messin' wit' my mind. I think he hid everything at his office, just so he can see how frustrated I can get. Yes. This is definitely the reason. He's getting back at me for all those years I threw his stuff away without asking his permission. Most recently, he accused me of donating his Sukkot siddur to a local gemach, (a place where people can buy used stuff fo' cheap.) Of course I have no recollection of doing such a thing. 

One of these days I have to get over to the bank to check my account. I'm not in such a huge rush, because it's not like someone's gonna steal my millions. G-d willing, one day soon - like tomorrow - all of these things will just reappear. Until then, I have to accept all of these losses as a kapparah, a spiritual atonement for some transgressions that (fill in the blank) did. Like I said, I can't take responsibility for anything. Even typing that word hurts my fingers.

We should never think of our losses as random. Hashem has His own personal ledger, and He is keeping close track of what we owe and, well, what we owe. Because we really don't deserve anything. I'll share a little secret to happiness with you: consider whatever you get as a free gift, and whatever was taken from you wasn't really yours anyways. 

It's all for the best! At least, that's what I'm going to tell hubby as I steal some cash from his wallet to get me another pair of earrings. And while I'm shopping, I might as well look at updating my wardrobe too, no? 

Have a wonderful week!

-Racheli


Wrong Expectations

So a friend of mine (Racheli here) was telling me that she feels bad that she's not so into praying for long stretches of time and doing her "womanly" duties, such as baking challah, cooking, etc. Her comment made me think of my post from a few days ago, "High Expectations." 

Here's where I think many of us get a little confused. We all have greatness inside of us that has yet to come out. Hashem knows what we are capable of, and yes, we must believe in ourselves and our strengths. However, there can be a very fine line between being our very best and trying to be someone else. Somewhere along the line, we may lose sight of our strengths and instead focus on building other parts of ourselves that are really not top priority for us.

Take my friend, for example. She's highly in tune with others, very empathetic, has a background in addiction counseling, is a wonderful listener and is very encouraging. She can use her strengths to help others and at the same time, enjoy a successful and fulfilling career. Now I feel like I should get a commission for every new client.

So what if she doesn't like to pray for hours on end? And who said she has to bake challah every week? Sure, these things are great and very admirable. But, that's just not who she is. And that's totally okay.

Hashem has created each one of us with a certain set of strengths and priorities. He made us that way to help us achieve our God-given missions in life. Her mission is to help others; so why should she put extra pressure on herself to do something that's not enjoyable for her? As long as she's following a Torah-observant lifestyle, the extras are icing on the cake. 

Are there areas that you are pressuring yourselves into, just because you feel like that is what's expected of you? Then it's time to re-evaluate. What are your strengths? Your talents? Things that you truly enjoy that are productive? How can you best capitalize on them? Focusing on other areas when they are not necessary to your growth will only lead to disappointment, and that is an endless downward spiral. 

Talk it over with Hashem this Shabbat. I bet you'll come up with some wonderful insights about yourselves, and I'd love to hear them. Shabbat Shalom! 

 


High Expectations

Last week, I (Racheli) got one of the best compliments of my life. My new Zumba teacher said that I should be teaching Zumba! I was totally thrown off, and of course my first reaction was, "Are you crazy? I could never do that!" But, then the idea began to dig its tentacles into my brain, and in a few minutes, the idea grew on me. Yeah, I could do that! Why not?

In the end, I'm not going to pursue it because I barely have time to shower every day, let alone learn and memorize new dances. Obviously I'm not writing this to highlight my obsession with dancing. So what's the point?

Well, the point, I realized, was in my reaction. My first thought was "No way!" Why? It's because that's how we think by default. Usually, when presented with a challenge or an opportunity that is beyond our regular lifestyles or accepted self-imposed boundaries, we immediately reject the new proposal as out of hand. Maybe we feel it's too much for us to handle, or beyond the scope of our capabilities.

But I gotta tell you - you're so much greater than you give yourself credit for. Hashem knows that. That's why He has such high expectations of us. He knows what we're capable of achieving, and He's going to push us until we get there. Whether it's career, family, helping others, or expanding on our personal gifts and talents, Hashem knows that we have so much that we can accomplish.

The only caveat is that we need to believe in ourselves. Believe in yourself! Believe in your potential! Even if the opportunity seems crazy and totally impractical, why not at least try to accomplish it? Even if in the end you don't succeed, at least you can say you gave it your best shot. 

Believe me, I never ever saw myself living in Israel and being a mother of five children. But Hashem put tremendous opportunities before me, and after my initial rejection of those opportunities, I jumped in 100%. That is the secret of achieving your hidden greatness. And, of course, don't forget to ask Hashem to help you every step of the way! He certainly doesn't expect you to do it all on your own!

May we all use this coming year to accomplish beyond what we thought was possible, and as a result, enjoy every blessing, both spiritually and physically, Amen! 

p.s.- If you're in Miami, check out Rav Brody's post below! You don't want to miss an awesome night with him and Rav Wallerstein! I'm so jealous!