142 posts categorized "Emuna and Spirituality"

Take Care of Yourself!


I LOVE this little boy!!! 

Of course I love my other kids too (especially when they're asleep or at school,) but they hate it when I sneak pictures of them. This one hasn't yet put up a fight. Soon enough... 

So you might or might not be wondering what a face full of spaghetti has to do with emuna. To be honest, not much. But it does have to do with eating, which is kind of related to what I wanted to write about today, which is related to emuna. It's like six degrees of emuna. I can connect all kinds of dots. It's a talent.

I gotta tell you, I really enjoyed Chanukah, but I'm relieved that it's over. Isn't that horrible to say? YES! I admit it. Actually, I'm not happy that Chanukah the holiday is over. I'm happy that the kids are back in school and life is getting back to my usual routine of absolute craziness. You parents know what it's like to be stuck at home with all the kids for weeks at a time. It certainly ain't no vacation, and the kids just want to eat and be entertained all day long, and I'z be like, "Go find yourself a friend, boy!"

The hardest part of Chanukah was not being able to go to the gym. Hold up! I know that sounds very vain and self-centered. 

But here's my point: I don't take care of my body for vain reasons. I'm not out to win a Miss Zumba Israel contest or anything like that. However! I very much enjoy the feeling that I get from exercising. I feel strong, energized, empowered, and, um, all muscular and stuff.

Aside from feeling great physically, I also get a natural high that lasts for many hours after my workout. It somehow magically disappears when all the kids get home and start pulling me in 80 different directions, but until then, I'm as happy as a little kid in Disney World. 

Along with the endorphin rush comes the incredible stress relief. A good workout does wonders for releasing all sorts of tension and stress, especially the stuff that we're worried about without even realizing it.

People, especially you busy moms out there, there's no reason you can't exercise at least once, if not twice a week. Don't give me the excuse that you have no time. It's valid, but sorry, it ain't gonna fly. No one has time these days. And don't give me the terrible, INvalid excuse that you're too focused on your spirituality to exercise. WRONG ANSWER!

I see tons of people (literally tons) running from this Torah lesson to that prayer service, and another Tehillim group or something like that. Yet many of them eat terrible diets and get their exercise chasing the bus or panting their way up the stairs. 

My point is that spirituality doesn't mean you have to reject your physical existence! This is done on so many levels, more of which I will get into at another time. But for the meantime, I'd like to get you motivated to start taking better care of yourselves. 

It's not selfish to set aside a half hour to an hour a day to work out. It's life-saving! Especially with the terrible diets we eat, loaded with simple carbs, sweets, and too much dairy, the least we can do is try to counter the effects of our slow suicide by exercising. 

All you moms out there, I can't stress this enough. Join a gym and commit to going twice a week. Just do it! Don't worry about logistics to the point where you talk yourself out of it. Ask Hashem to help you figure it out, for the sake of your health, your sanity, and your marital peace, and I'm sure He'll be happy to oblige! 

I have to say that I'm proud of the women in my gym. A large percentage of them are Orthodox, and yes, they don't yet know what they're doing. But they're THERE! They've committed to making a positive change in themselves, not just for their sake, but for the sake of their husbands and children. And that's the hardest thing to do. Learning how to lift weights is the easy part.

If a mother of eight can take an hour out of her day, then believe me, you can do it. Unless you have nine children. That might be a little bit harder. 

This week, I'm asking TEN of you to take the first step and join a gym. I can't believe how much my life has improved just from getting in shape. I'm not only stronger. I have more energy, mental clarity, better focus, and more self-confidence. And all this and more gets absorbed by my family.

Ultimately, a happier, healthier you will have a stronger, deeper, and more satisfying connection with Hashem than you've ever had before. And a stronger connection with Hashem means stronger emuna. BOOYAH! 

If you're one of the ten that will commit to getting in shape, send me a comment below and we'll keep in touch! I'm excited for all of us to grow together and create real, lasting physical and spiritual changes! 

Have a wonderful, emuna-filled, pasta-free day!


Insult: It's All for the Very Best

One of the foundation principles of emuna is that Hashem does everything for the very best. There are no exceptions to this rule, whether or not we understand how a given tribulation or difficulty can possibly be for the best or not. As hard as we try, we can't understand what and why Hashem is doing. But, when the brain kicks out, emuna kicks in.

Minor tribulations frequently spare us from major suffering. Take for example humiliation in public: someone mops the floor with us in such a way that we're humiliated in front of hundreds of people, like in synagogue on a major holiday. Such an ordeal is more than enough to save a person from a head-on collision, a heart attack, a stroke, or a direct hit from a Katyusha rocket; that is, if we accept the ordeal with emuna. Sure our face is flush with embarrassment, yet we react with emuna and not with rage and clenched fists. A bit of insult is a gift from Hashem, a purification and correction of our souls, and an atonement that eradicates stern judgments. It's a priceless tribulation that keeps our health and income intact.

We don't look for insults and humiliation, but once we get them, we should thank Hashem profusely.

True strength is when we have the strength to react forcefully, but we don't. 

We don't ask Hashem to punish whoever it is that's tormenting us. Yet, don't envy such a person; they have chosen the path of negative deeds and that's why they are negative messengers. Yet, they will have to pay the price of their actions.

In light of the above, don't envy a journalist who deliberately slanders an entire group of people with the express purpose of perpetrating hatred for his own popularity or monetary gain.

Just remember, the negative messenger is only a stick in Hashem's hands. But, even if we get hit with the stick, it's all for the very best. Thank You, Hashem!

Laundry Lessons

Photo from Racheli Reckles (10)

What a gross picture. David took it. I always tell him he's a terrible photographer, especially when I have him take a picture of me. For some reason they always come out terrible. This picture makes it look like I live in the slums. In case you didn't know, my washer and dryer are outside because who the heck needs a washing machine in their kitchen? What, the kitchen wasn't small enough when they built this house? Oh, and a dryer? Like, what's that? Thank G-d I have one! In Israel it's a luxury because electricity is so expensive.

TODAY, finally, I got my washing machine back!! That's a week and a half without a washing machine! Insane!! I had to send my laundry out twice and pay crazy prices. Not only that, but the laundry didn't have any good smell, AND I had to open and re-fold everything! Their folding job wasn't the greatest and I'm a stickler for nicely folded clothes. My mother used to fold so perfectly, it's sickening.  

So... I'm going to say the words that I'd never, ever thought I'd say...

Thank G-d I can do laundry!! 

Have I completely lost my mind? Yes! But do you want to know the whole story? It's really something!

My washing machine suddenly stopped spinning. The technician told me it was nothing, banged on the bottom with the hammer, and miraculously the machine worked again. Then, it stopped working. Then, the guy came back and said the computer's fried, so he ordered a new one, which is really expensive. Then, he couldn't come back until Sunday. On Sunday, of course no one shows up and I finally get a call from the company telling me they're about to order the new computer.


WHY couldn't they order it on Wednesday, when the guy was there?! No sufficient answer. When is the part supposed to arrive?! Two weeks.


At that point the humor was gone, the emuna was gone, and all that was left was a very angry Iraqi customer screaming at "Customer Service" for their incompetence. 

But look at how Hashem does everything for the best. My friend told me to just get a private technician to look at it, since the only thing covered by warranty was the motor, and of course the company assured me it wasn't the motor. Amazing how they could diagnose the problem through the phone without having seen the machine. Genius that I am, I had never thought of getting someone private to come in. 

Later that evening, my neighbor who's an electrician came by to pick up his son. I just asked him as a side note, and he said he knew a great technician. He called him right away, and the guy came today and checked out my washing machine, and...

Whaddayknow?! It's the motor after all!! 

Believe me, if I had a little voodoo doll I would have been sticking knives in the first technician's eyes. The point is this: Hashem made the guy delay me by a week, and He made the people send the wrong part, just to give me enough time to get someone in there that would actually fix the machine!

If I hadn't hired this other guy, I would have spent a small fortune on a part I didn't need, waited two weeks to get it, then I would have had to spend another fortune on the motor, if they would have even figured it out at that point! And who knows? Maybe they would just try to convince me to get a new washing machine.

How ironic that the only part actually covered on the warranty was the motor. I suspect that they didn't check it on purpose so I would actually have to pay for something. Call it a conspiracy theory.

So, that's it. I'm thrilled to be able to do laundry again. YAY!!! It's amazing what you appreciate once it's gone. I think about the people in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and the Carribbean, and I realize how fortunate I am to have just a few days of minor inconveniences. These people have had their entire lives pulled out from under them. It's unfortunate that sometimes we have to lose what we had in order to appreciate it. 

Have a great week, and appreciate all of your blessings!

Let's see if I remember this laundry lesson next week...




For Esther Tova

I just got some horrible news. My neighbor's granddaughter fell out of a window and has a severe head injury, Hashem yirachem. She is currently in critical condition. 

She's only a year and a half old.

I can't imagine what this family is going through. It's beyond heartbreaking. Things like this make it so hard to have emuna. It's almost impossible to know that this is for the best. How? How can a child falling out of a window and cracking her skull and maybe suffering severe brain damage from this be for her best?

I cry because I can't see. I can't see the big picture. I can't see the ultimate future, and all of the tremendous good that awaits all of us. Because I'm stuck, helpless, watching others suffer terribly, watching them be helpless as well, my heart breaks.

It is situations like this that make us need emuna more than ever. We are completely blind, stuck, and helpless. Hashem creates our circumstances according to His wisdom, and we just have to go with the flow. And going with the flow means having faith that it's all for our ultimate benefit. 

Because without emuna that there is somehow good in this situation, what's left?

Please pray for the speedy and complete recovery of Esther Tova bat Chaya Eidel. 

May we all know no more suffering and share only good news, Amen.


p.s.- Check out my weekly post below! You don't want to miss what I wrote about David this week! 

When Jewish Blood Spills

Jewish Blood
Yesterday, Shmuel Salomon arose from his seven-day shiva mourning period to enter his 8-day old son, Ari Yosef, into the brit, the holy covenant of Abraham. This is the exact mainifestation of Ecclesiastes 3:4, "A time for eulogizing and a time for dancing." Often, especially in our lives here in the Land of Emuna, joy is juxtaposed with sorrow, both in the extreme.

Shmuel Salomon was sitting shiva for his martyred father, brother and sister who were brutally murdered last Shabbat evening at their Shabbat table. Not only were they murdered on Shabbat but murdered in the midst of performing several lofty mitzvoth - observing the Shabbat, celebrating the Shabbat, and celebrating the arrival of Shmuel's newborn son. I've had many people ask me probing questions this week, such as, "How could Hashem take away such righteous people?" Dozens of eulogies praised how each martyred member of the Salomon family was so special. Chaya, 46, was chosen as the most outstanding teacher in Lod. Elad, 36, was sweeter than honey, the type of person that seemed to lack any inclination for evil or cruelty. The father Yosef, 70, was a tzaddik who loved Hashem, His Torah, his fellow human and his holy homeland. And, as one email asked, "How could Hashem take these righteous souls in such a horrid manner?"

With emuna, we don't circumvent difficult questions. Here's my answer, and like everything else, it's the product of what I've learned from the "Minister of Emuna", my esteemed and holy teacher, Rabbi Shalom Arush shlit'a:

Each individual is here in the physical world on a mission. His life in this world is temporary; it begins and ends according to the task he must perform. When a person dies, even if the cause of death is seemingly apparent, it is the result of Divine decree – exacting to the tiniest detail. One person comes to earth for a seventy year tour of duty while another person is on a twenty year mission. A soul can sometimes fulfill its correction on earth in a mere five years within the body of a child. The considerations and Divine calculations are endless and mind-boggling, where everything is taken into consideration - past lives, credits, debts and many more.

Some souls come down to earth for a very specific soul correction; as soon as they complete it, there is no longer reason for them to remain here so they hurry back to their rightful place in Gan Eden ("Garden of Eden", the World to Come). Usually, after these souls die, those who knew them say how much those souls were so special and righteous who never did anything wrong. So, don't be surprised when you see martyrs who were the best imaginable people of the highest caliber. The reason they left this earth when they did was simply because they accomplished the mission that Hashem sent the here to perform.

The very fact that these righteous, often young people who didn't seem to have an evil inclination die before their time is apparently up is a giveaway that shows that they came here for a very special purpose. The holy Ariza"l (the father of Kabbala whose yahrtzeit is today, the 5th of Av) says that the evil inclination puts the most difficult obstacles in the way of the very mission that a person must perform on this earth. When a person has many different evil inclinations, it's an indication that he or she has much to correct in this world. But, those special people, especially the young ones who never did anything wrong, came here for a narrow specific purpose. They complete it and they depart.

What we do know is that Hashem does everything for the best. When logic kicks out, emuna - complete faith - kicks in. Have a lovely Shabbat and a wonderful weekend. May we all hear good tidings from each other, amen!

Don't forget to see our mini-lesson on this week's Torah portion in the post directly below.