143 posts categorized "Emuna and Spirituality"

Things That Money Can't Buy

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Sigh...

Isn't this view just spectacular? 

It's so calming to look at the ocean, isn't it? 

The turquoise blues and emerald greens, the vastness of the horizon - just spectacular. 

Isn't it amazing how the most precious gifts in life are things that money can't buy?

As I sit here on the 24th floor of my parents' condo building, gazing at this mind-boggling Divinely created work of art before my eyes, I am so grateful for all of the gifts Hashem gives me at every single moment.

Driving around Miami, I'm constantly gawking at the multi-million dollar homes and fancy cars people have here. Living on such a high level of materialism sure makes it easy to view money as the end-all and be-all of life. But we all know it's not.

So, I'm putting together a small list of things that money can't buy. These things, these blessings from Hashem, are usually taken for granted because most of us enjoy them on a daily basis. 

If we have these blessings, we can consider ourselves the richest people in the world. 

Things that money can't buy: your eyesight, your working brain, your sense of smell and taste, your ability to taste, chew, and swallow your food, your incredibly complicated digestive system, your incredible nervous system that allows you to feel pleasure and pain, your ability to walk, get up, sit down, run, and jump as you please, and oh, do you have two working arms and legs? No prosthesis even comes close! What about your healthy heart and circulatory system? Is this list not mind-boggling already?

Money can't buy a tranquil mind, a content heart, genuine marital peace, love for your children, love for others, tolerance, genuine respect not motivated by money, self-acceptance, self-love, job satisfaction, and common sense.

And money certainly can't buy strong emuna, a feeling of gratitude, an understanding of the spiritual rules of life, and a deep love and appreciation for Hashem and everything He does for us.

I think I'm going to start my own American Express commercial. You remember that one?

Shirt at Walmart - $5

Shoes at Marshall's- $35

The feeling of trusting Hashem even when things look bad- Priceless.

I smell a big emuna marketing campaign on the horizon! ;)

Until it launches, don't forget to watch Rav Brody give his weekly emuna class! Details below.

Wishing you a wonderful day!

~Racheli


The Kotel, Emuna, and Geula

 

Kotel
Above image: The Kotel and Temple Mount at twilight

The Divine Presence never leaves the Kotel HaMaaravi, the Western Wall remnant of the holiest place in our history - the Bet HaMikdash. If one needs any kind of salvation, the Divine Presence is available 24/7 - you don't need an appointment. In the holy Land of Israel, especially in Jerusalem, and most of all at the Wall, one feels Hashem's presence.

Our Talmudic sages therefore make a seemingly stiff statement when they say (Ketubot 110b): "Anyone who lives in Israel resembles a person who has a G-d; anyone who lives outside of Israel resembles a person who has no G-d." Rebbe Nachman of Breslev elaborates on this concept, and teaches (Likutei Moharan 7:1) that emuna, prayer and miracles are dependant on Eretz Yisroel. In other words, outside of Israel, one cannot attain the level of emuna and prayer that one can attain in Israel.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev also teaches (ibid.) that the "Geula", the redemption of our people, is dependent on emuna, the pure and complete faith in Hashem. Conversely, lack of faith prolongs the exile and diaspora.

In the same vain, Rebbe Klonimus Kalman, author of "Ma'or VeShemesh" and prime disciple of the Noam Elimelech, writes (Ma'or VeShemesh, parshas Behar) that the material abundance outside of Israel blocks the light of spirituality, and is therefore counterproductive to emuna, whereas in Israel, the brighter lights of spirituality are at the expense of a lower level of materialism.

In light of the above, living in the Land of Israel is conducive to developing higher levels of emuna and spirituality.

According to the above teachings, anyone who strengthens his or her faith, comes to Israel, or does both is making a direct contribution to hastening the Geula, the full redemption of our people Israel, and the rebuilding our our Holy Temple in a united Jerusalem, soon and in our days, amen.

But what if your personal circumstance requires you to remain for the time being abroad? Don't feel guilty - Hashem put you in the situation where you must care for an elderly parent, or you have joint custody with your ex and you can't leave your children, or you haven't been able to find employment in Israel. Hashem doesn't expect you to do what you currently cannot. But, there's plenty you can do outside of Israel to hasten the Geula. We mentioned above that Rebbe Nachman attributes the prolonged exile and Diaspora to the lack of emuna. So, by spreading emuna - wherever you are, be it New York, LA, Miami, Toronto, Melbourne, Hong Kong or Maui - you hasten the Geula.

There's no excuse for not spreading emuna. If you personally don't want to, or can't teach emuna and spread emuna materials, you can partner with Emuna Outreach - we'll do the leg work. All you have to do is to Donate to Emuna Outreach and you'll be a full partner is hastening the Geula. May we hear good news soon, amen!


Above The Clouds

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My oldest son told me he wants to go skydiving one day. G-d help me. I can already tell what kind of teenager he's turning into. He loves adventure, has zero patience, and hates school.

Hmmm... sounds familiar. 

I mean, he sounds just like his father. His mind goes a million miles an hour, just like David's. He wants to be rich when he grows up, and so does David. To be honest, David has more patience than I do. But that's probably because he's not around the kids as much as I am. 

I mean, it's easy to have patience when your patience isn't being tested, right? 

I hate anything to do with falling, and the only way I would ever skydive is if I were lying unconscious on someone else's back. 

But I do love this picture.

Isn't it spectacular?

Every day we're so stuck in our immediate surroundings that it's difficult, impossible sometimes, to remember that there is a world of perfection that exists. 

This world is right here, so close, but we can't see it. As much as we want to, we can't experience it. 

The sky above the clouds reminds me of this perfect world. No matter what's going on underneath, whether it's raining, a hurricane, tornadoes, snow, or Black Friday sales, the world above the clouds is always peaceful. Always perfect. 

Is it possible to experience this perfect world while we're still alive? How so, if our lives are full of difficult challenges, extremely limited perception, and chaos? 

Well, we could:

a) spend the rest of our lives flying above the clouds in airplanes

b) work on connecting to that perfect world through our emuna

"A" doesn't sound so comfortable, unless the plane you're flying in happens to be tripped out with a Presidential Suite, a personal chef, and a jacuzzi with those super cool lights that switch colors. 

That means that for most of us, "B" is our only practical option. And it really is a practical option. Like I wrote last week, emuna is the only thing that keeps us from giving up all hope when the challenges start feeling impossible. 

When we feel like we're trapped in our difficulties, if we can just remind ourselves that these challenges are not forever, this could literally save our sanity. 

If we can remember that everything is supposed to be as it should, and Hashem is running the world, we will be okay with whatever the outcome is. I'm not saying that we have to be happy with whatever happens; but at least we need to recognize that whatever happens is what is supposed to happen, even though we may not understand why. 

On the other side of the clouds there is peace, tranquility, and eternal blue skies. You know the fastest way to get there? 

Just close your eyes. 

Keep this stunning picture in your mind and have it handy for when you go through your day, your week, your life.

I hope this helps make your day a bit brighter!

~Racheli

 


What is Divine Providence?

SilkwormHashem not only decides who the next President of the United States will be and the longevity of the great galaxies; He decides which mulberry leaf a Japanese silkworm will eat for dinner (image, above).

Dear Rabbi Lazer,

I often hear you using the term "Divine Providence". Could you please give me a simple explanation of what it means? Thanks for all you do. Roberta from Atlanta

Shalom, Roberta!

Divine Providence is G-d’s will and personal intervention in our lives, which governs everything that happens to us both on a day-to-day scale and on a longterm scale. On an individual level, Divine Providence is designed to help us perform our task in life.

Divine Providence is both macro and micro. It not only determines events on a global scale, but also dictates the tiniest details in the universe, such as the evening meal of a worm. Our lives in their entirety – including each individual moment – are the outcome of G-d’s infinite wisdom and will. So, on a practical level, Divine Providence dictates when we succeed and when we fail, when times are easy and when they're hard, all for the benefit of our fulfilling our mission on this earth.

I hope you find the above explanation useful. All the very best, LB


Emuna Kids

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Check out that awesome Manta ray. So incredible, right? 

That's my little nephew in the corner. I'm convinced he's really mine because he has blonde hair and blue eyes and a super Iraqi personality. My sister's other two kids are brunettes with brown eyes (like me) but they're way too nice and calm to be mine. 

But that little boy is MINE. So hand him back, dear sister who used to steal all of my clothes and then leave them crumpled up on the floor of her room. 

Some things you just never get over.

Speaking of my kids, I love my kids. Especially when they're in school or asleep. 

But they drive me insane. Completely. In. Sane. 

Sometimes I fantasize about dropping them off at the nearest zoo or pet adoption center. But since I'm too lazy to return them to the zoo, and I have no idea where the nearest pet adoption center is, they still live at home. For the time being.

Okay, all joking aside, I'd like to share something amazing with you.

My kids are what I would call "Emuna Kids." 

For the past nearly 9 years, they've been exposed to a lot of screaming emuna. I'm far from perfect, like on the other side of the world far, but I am pretty good about bringing Hashem into the picture when relating to my kids. 

If one of them isn't feeling well, or they get hurt, upset, their brother stole their one favorite car out of the 3 million cars that are available to play with, I do my best to:

a) not scream 

b) give them a little boost of spiritual awareness

Okay, so I'm really bad at doing a, and maybe I shouldn't keep emphasizing that, but in my defense I'm awesome at b. 

And because of this, I see how, during some challenging times, suddenly one of my kids might say something on his own about Hashem and His plans. Or something along those lines. 

I make tons and tons of mistakes every day, and I have many shortcomings (please don't tell David,) but I know that the gift of emuna is the greatest gift I can ever give my kids.

I can do my best to give them good health, a good life, a good education, and G-d willing some awesome wives. But I can't control how these situations turn out.

What I can do is give them the faith that everything is in Hashem's Hands and that He loves us and does everything for our best.

I hope one day, when they face challenges that are slightly bigger than "He stole my carrrr!" the emuna and spiritual awareness that I have tried to instill in them will shine. 

Believe me, there is no greater gift we can give our kids than emuna. Imagine if you had known about emuna when you were growing up. How different would your life be? 

How much heartache, pain, and frustration would you not have experienced? 

People, emuna is all we got.

And it's the best thing we can ever give to our children.

So where to start? What if you've never spoken to your kids about Hashem?

I would say start with talking about nature. Point out the wisdom in every flower, the trees, the ocean tides. Talk about the wonder of outer space, the orbits of the planets, the different climates and environments in this beautiful world of ours. 

There are so many opportunities to see Hashem in our lives. Let's share the precious gift of emuna and spiritual awareness with our children.

Have a beautiful day! 

FYI, Rav Brody won't be giving his weekly emuna shiur and live broadcast this week, because he too is an "Emuna Kid" - he's going to visit his Mom in the USA for a few days; she just turned 92 - mazal tov! 

~Racheli


Self-Confidence: Triple Your Potential

Believe
People want to accomplish things, but there bodies won't let them. Why?

  1. They don't eat the proper foods in quality and quantity.
  2. They don't exercise.
  3. They're not confident in their ability to achieve what they want.

By the same token, people want to accomplish things, but there minds won't let them. Why?

  1. They lack the desire.
  2. They lack the dedication.
  3. They're not confident in their ability to achieve what they want.

We see that lack of a good diet and lack of proper exercise hold the body back, while lack of desire and lack of dedication create obstacles in the mind that prevent people from accomplishing.

We also see that lack of self-confidence is Public Enemy #1 that gets in the way of both mind and body. For the moment, let's put the subjects of  diet, exercise, desire and dedication aside, for our sages teach that if you try to grab too much, you end up grabbing nothing. Yet, once we attain self-confidence, diet, exercise, desire and dedication will all fall into place.

You'd love to have self-confidence, wouldn't you? It's simpler and easier than you think. See Self-Confidence in 5 Minutes, my feature article in this week's new issue of Breslev Israel web magazine.

Also featured this week:

Rabbi Shalom Arush - SAT's, Lean on Me

Rabbi Berel Wein - I Made My Day

Lori Steiner - Don't Push It

David Ben Horin - What They Can't Take from You

Dr. Rivka Levron - In Search of Unity

Yardena Slater - Simple and Natural

Sharon Roter - Sergeant Mom

Enjoy, and have a fantastic new week!