51 posts categorized "Encouragement"

Tough Opposition on the Field

Spiritual Growth
Dear Rabbi Lazer,

I'm writing this to you for two reasons: first, you don't know me and I feel really embarassed talking about this to a rabbi that knows me; and second, since you too are a Baal Teshuva, I'm hoping you can understand a fellow BT that was born in the spiritual gutters far away from Torah. I became observant about five years ago, when I finished my masters degree. As a university student and a popular dude at that, I guess you can say that I did about everything and enjoyed it too. I won't go into the reasons that I made teshuva, but I became very disgusted with my lusty lifestyle. I began to learn Torah and was drawn especially to the teachings of the Zohar. I did an about face and made serious efforts in developing my personal holiness. With daily mikva, daily teshuva, and total immersion Torah, I became a new person. Two years ago, I was introduced to a young lady who after three dates became my fiance. We are blissfully married, in no small thanks to The Garden of Peace, which I live by.

So what's my problem? I thought I had deleted my naughty x-rated past from my brain. On Yom Kippur, the Yetzer gave me a triple whammy. During Kol Nidre, a really raunchy image flashed before my eyes which I won't describe, but it was something from the lowest part of my past. The same thing happened during Mussaf, and the same thing happened again in Neila. During the three highest points in the Yom Kippur prayers, I was watching myself in x-rated movies from my own past, the exact opposite of holiness. Why did Hashem shtup me with these terrible thoughts? What could I possibly have done wrong to be pushed away like this? I had such aspirations of clinging to Hashem with real devotion in this year's prayers, and I blew it. I feel devistated and dejected, as if I've been totally defeated. What can I do? Please help me. Thanks so very much, David from California

Dear David,

The Yetzer - the Evil Inclination - wants you to think that you're a loser. The exact opposite is true - this Yom Kippur, you have attained a lofty and admirable soul correction. You're the winner, my man; here's how:

Back in your university days, you thoroughly enjoyed doing the lewd things that so embarassingly popped into your head during this past Yom Kippur. Yet now, the forbidden acts that you once enjoyed are now a source of shame. Your shame during Yom Kippur is not only a sign of humility and holiness, but a soul correction for the past. Having done teshuva out of love (hear our CD on the subject), your past transgressions now become valuable merits to your credit. What's more, when you did those wrong things, you didn't know they were wrong. You can be proud of yourself, for Hashem is proud of the unbelievable growth that you've made in five short years. Don't ever forget that spiritual growth and serving Hashem are like football - you can't gain an inch without facing tough opposition; that's why the rewards are so great. Keep plugging away, slowly but surely, for you'll be a big winner. Remember also that as a BT, you're now playing in a championship league. Be happy, David - you're doing great. With blessings for joyous Chol Hamoed and a wonderful year, LB

My Favorite

Hashem's Business Card

My cherished friend Nachum Kligman from Ramat Beit Shemesh sent me the following beautiful thoughts that a very special anonymous person wrote:

Hashem doesn't have a Blackberry or an iPhone, but He is my favorite contact.

He doesn't have Facebook, but He is my best friend.

He doesn't have Twitter, but I follow Him nonetheless.

He doesn't have internet, but I am connected to Him.

And even though He has a massive communication system, His customer service never puts me on hold!

And here are a few Lazer additions:

And even though He doesn't have a medical degree, He's the best doctor in the world.

And even though He is King of Kings with billions of servants, He is never too busy to grant me a private audience with Him, wherever and whenever I want.

And even though He doesn't have a PhD in clinical psychology, He understands exactly how I feel and always knows how to encourage me.

And even though He doesn't have a degree in fine arts, His creations are works of art that no master artist can duplicate.

My goodness, we love you so much, Hashem!

G-d Despises Bullies

Bullies should be forewarned: King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3:15, "And G-d shall seek the pursued." In other words, Hashem will come to the aid of the bullied and punish the bully when he least expects it. Rabbenu Bachiya explains that this principle is so strong, that Hashem despise bullies so much, that if even a righteous person bullies an evil person, Hashem will come to the aid of the evil person and settle the score with the righteous person (see Rabbenu Bachiya on Vayikra 22:27).

Hashem loves compassion and kindness, yet hates bullying. True faith means loving what Hashem loves and depising what He despises. It is therefore a mitzva to despise bullies and to come to the aid of the bullied, no matter who they are and where they are.

Back On Our Feet

Still on my feet

Here's a bit of encouragement for the Three Weeks:

My father, may he rest in peace, was the only Jewish pilot from Western Canada in the RCAF in World War II. He went to flight school flight school at the Edmonon, Alberta training base. He told me that as a trainee, they had quite a few survival and land-navigational exercises. These were led by a mean sergeant major named Macdonald, who despised Jews. My Pop never hid his Judaism.

Once, Macdonald was leading the trainees up a difficult mountain path in the ice. My father slipped and fell, but was instantly back on his feet. Macdonald didn't miss the opportunity and snorted, "You see - you fell because you're a Jew!"

My Pop was quick on the draw too, and more than a bit sassy. "Wrong, sergeant major," he snapped back, not caring about the consequences, "I'm back on my feet because I'm a Jew!"

Keep on Dreaming, Keep on Trucking

When I was a little boy in inner-city Washington, DC, we lived in a small apartment on top of my father's grocery store on Independence Avenu SE, twelve blocks from the Capital. We had a really nice African-American mailman who used to deliver the mail to us every day. I don't remember his name, but he had a smile like Louie Armstrong. I loved to greet him and talk to him. He would pinch my then-chubby cheeks and say, "Child, I ain't gonna be totin' mail all my life. Someday, I'm gonna be rich. Maybe I'll buy the White House. Meantime, I keep on dreamin' and I keep on truckin'!"

I'll never forget those words of wisdom. You keep on dreaming and in the meanwhile, you keep on plugging away. Every major accomplishment began with taking the first step to fulfill a dream.

Dreams Come True

Tu B'Shvat: A Lesson about Roots

Roots are Strength

Tu B'Shvat this year is  Tuesday night, Feb. 3 and Wednesday, Feb. 4

People ask what a "New Year for Trees" is all about.

The Torah says that "man is a tree in the field." We, the People of Israel, are certainly like a tree.

In the Holocaust, we lost 6,000,000 leaves and were left with bare branches. According to the Iranians and their proxies Hizbulla and Hamas who are at this moment aiming 200,000 missiles at us, we're dying altogether, and - in their words - it's a matter of pushing the button and a mere 9 minutes for them to finish us off. Utzu eitza v'tufar...

If that's not enough, we have an enemy within us that fails to recognize our connection to our own roots. With nothing to anchor them, they'll soon disappear, blowing in the wind like chaff from a wheat stalk. 

What our enemies in every generation fail to understand is that our roots are deep and mighty. Our 3,800 year-old spiritual taproot cuts through the boulders of time and reaches Moses, then back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Just as our enemies can't see our roots, they can never uproot us.

On Tu B'Shvat, the trees look dead. But don't be mistaken - soon they shall flower in all their glory.

Maybe we look dead now with all the threats from the outside and all of our unity-and-tolerance problems from within. But don't lose heart. When we lease expect it, Hashem will redeem us and send Moshiach, and the Jewish people - like an almond tree in Shvat - will blossom and rejuvenate in all our glory, in our newly rebuilt Holy Temple in Jerusalem, soon, amen! Happy Tu B'Shvat!