20 posts categorized "Interpersonal relations"

What The World Needs Now

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What a spectacular backyard, right? Yesterday we arrived in Chicago to visit David's family. It's so peaceful out here. Great for thinking and reflecting. Which is exactly what I've been doing, besides yelling at the kids to stop fighting. 

It's been quite a whirlwind of emotions since I've been back. What's really interesting is that in just a week, I've met so many different people. 

Well, it's mainly because I'm a young-ish looking woman walking around with 5 little kippah and tzizit-wearing gangstas who are by far the LOUDEST kids in my parents' building. But aside from that, people stare at me because I'm so gorgeous surrounded by so many children. 

I feel like I've almost hit celebrity status. The more daring ones stop themselves from gawking at us long enough to ask me, "Are these all yoursss??" And I'm like, "Fo' shizzle! Would you like my autograph?" 

It takes a minute for their brains to reboot. I can tell by the momentary blank stare they give me. When they return to full consciousness, they give me incredulous looks that seem to be a combination of "you're crazy" and pity. 

In just one week, all kinds of people have been coming up to me, just to tell me that they're Jewish. It's so interesting. I mean, 5 boys in kippahs and tzizit walking around areas of Miami Beach that are not primarily religious is not a common sight. 

Their obvious Jewishness seems to compel some people to come up to me and tell me they're Jewish too. I think that's amazing. It shows me that even though they aren't making their Jewishness obvious (yet,) their spark still burns bright inside. The other morning, another resident in my parents' building came up to me and said, "I am one of the community."

I smiled and politely asked, "Oh, you live in the building?" Luckily, he didn't get the fact that I didn't get what he was saying, and after a few minutes of conversation it finally clicked. 

Another lady I met told me she does absolutely nothing Jewish. She was raised by parents that forced Judaism on her in a way that made her resentful and burnt out. She has disconnected so much from anything Jewish that she even questions the existence of G-d. 

What motivated these people to come up to me and tell me they're Jewish? What feelings did seeing my kids bring out in them?

My feeling is that they came up to me because they needed something, but they didn't necessarily realize what. Could it be they were saying, "I'm Jewish but I don't feel any connection. I know Hashem exists, but I don't know anything about Him. Please help me understand."

I can only speculate why, but the reality is that there are so many precious souls here that are searching for a connection with Hashem. They want more, but they don't necessarily want to be more religious.

That's why emuna is so great. It can bring someone close to G-d who was so far, without compelling them to become religious at the same time. It can also bring a deeper spiritual meaning to a person who has been observant all of his life. 

Without emuna, is it possible to be at peace with one's life and all of the challenges that come along with it? Is it really possible to have a strong spiritual connection to Hashem if a person doesn't have emuna?

So now, after 8+ years of being a fortunate member of the amazing Breslev Israel family, I can finally understand what the one most important thing the world needs is: emuna. 

Now that we're in the nine days of Av, days of mourning the many devastating occurrences that have happened to the Jewish People throughout our history, we should also be mourning the fact that so many people, Jews and non-Jews, don't have a solid connection with Hashem.

It is this solid connection, the emuna that is the foundation of our happiness and survival, that the world needs more than anything.

I genuinely hope that all of our efforts to spread emuna throughout the world will be blessed with success, so we can experience a joyful Redemption and the end of all pain and suffering, Amen!

Wishing you all an easy and meaningful fast!

~Racheli

p.s.- Check out Rav Brody's weekly emuna shiur details below!


Just Be Real!

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It seems that humans aren't the only ones having identity issues these days. 

This little house cat self-identifies as a killer carnivore, one of the most dangerous predators in the world, the Bengal/Siberian/Malayan/Sumatran/I could list ten more types (of) Tiger. 

OMG did I just insult the cat by calling it little? Or a house cat? What if it thinks it's an outdoor cat or a stray cat? Could it sue me in court? Are these questions even allowed anymore?

So I was talking with a person I had paid to listen to me rant close friend about the whole fake issue. Okay, so she's a therapist. And she's one of my closest friends. You know, I'm starting to wonder if she really likes being around me, or she just finds me such a fascinating case study because I'm so not like other people here. 

It's funny that I said that because it happens to be a perfect lead-in to my point. 

Why so many people be so fake? I understand that some level of fakeness is good, like when you have to be cordial with someone that you secretly (or not so secretly) want to kill, tell off, kick off a cliff, or all of the above. It's great to learn to control your emotional urge to lash out at someone who upsets you. Racheli. Yeah, gurrl, I'm talking to you! 

Aside from proper etiquette, why is it so hard for people to be real with each other? Why is it always, "Baruch Hashem," when I ask people how they're doing? Like, I know that we're supposed to thank Hashem for everything, but where is it forbidden to say, "You know, my day really stinks. I overslept, the kid's not feeling well, and I'm up to my ears in dishes and laundry. Plus I ate a few too many carbs yesterday and now I'm all bloated and gross." 

Would it be so bad? Would someone stop being friends with you if you just told them how you felt about something?

What, exactly, would happen if you let your real feelings out? I mean, without insulting or hurting another person's feelings, of course!

But for some reason, we continue to act one way on the surface and another way behind closed doors. If you're like me, hopefully the windows are closed too, because if not, half the street can hear my kids' yelling and screaming.

But seriously, being spiritual and religious doesn't mean you have to deny your feelings and try to act as if you have no problems and no emotions. If you're worried that people won't accept you into their exclusive inner circle because you had the nerve to say you're having a bad day, or some issue is really bothering you, then you don't want those people as friends anyway.

So c'mon folks! You can do it! Who knows? Maybe you'll be an inspiration to others!

And while you're all busy getting all real'd up for me, don't forget to check out Rav Brody's shiur TONIGHT! Info is in the post below!

Have a great, rizzle-ed out day!

~Racheli


Social Media: A Calculated Addiction?

Social Media is definitely a huge part of the way the world runs now. To be clear, I'm not taking a full-on stance against it. I believe that in the right circumstances it can be a wonderful tool to keep in touch and promote your business.

However, the line is very fine between using it as an innocent tool and addictively checking your messages 100 times an hour (I'm not exaggerating!) or joining others in the gang-bashing of someone's opinion in the comments section. And I'm just talking about adults. Children have no business being on social media. It takes away from the time they could spend with friends (in person,) playing sports and developing their talents. Not to mention studying, G-d forbid. Just as importantly, being on social media poses a huge risk of falling into the hands of cyber-predators and cyber-bullies.

As I wrote in Weapons of Mass Distraction, one of the major problems with Facebook is the time that it's taking away from people's lives. Instead of living, spending time in the now, people are too distracted on their phones to pay attention to the love, the memories, the life that's passing them by. 

This shocking video reveals the truth of how social media intentionally manipulates people's thoughts, feelings, and lives. Yes, you read that right. Facebook and similar platforms are structured in a way as to keep you hooked by blasting your brain with an intense dopamine high and keeps you coming back for more. Just like drugs.

While it's true that not everyone that uses social media is addicted to it, people should be aware of the warning signs of addiction, as some people tend to have a greater vulnerability to addiction than others.

I recommend that everyone who uses social media religiously watch this video.

 ~Racheli


All For One

Hey everyone, it’s David, Racheli’s lucky husband. I’d like to talk to you about a very special person who, through his untimely and tragic passing, taught me the real meaning of unity. 

Nearly eight years ago when my family and I made aliyah, Rav Brody told me something that I didn’t understand: “When a soldier dies in the States, most people don’t hear about it. If they do, they’re not deeply affected by it. But when a soldier dies in Israel, the entire country mourns his loss.”

I superficially understood his point because my Memorial Day holidays consisted of partying at the beach with friends. Unless someone personally knew a soldier that had perished in battle, no one else felt the solemn occasion of the day.

But here, it’s very different.

Here, most Israelis feel the pain of Memorial Day. Unfortunately I finally understood why, this past week. My dear friend from shul lost his beloved 20-year-old son last Friday night as he was chasing terrorists during a smuggling operation. May Hashem avenge his martyred blood. 

The tank he was driving somehow veered off-course and turned upside down. The explosives it was carrying blew up while he was still inside…

No one should know from such horror.

A group of my buddies from shul went with me to the funeral this past Sunday. To say everyone there was crying would be a sorry understatement. My heart breaks every time I think about my friend having to watch his son’s martyred body being lowered into the ground.

Yesterday my friends and I were catching up, and two of them said something very telling. One mentioned that when he was asked at work why he wasn’t there Sunday, he explained that he was at the funeral of his friend’s son who had just been killed in battle. “Oh, Eliyahu Drori?” the co-worker asked with tears in his eyes.

My other friend recalled a strikingly similar conversation at his workplace.

To me, this revelation says it all.

Although on the surface there is so much tension between Israelis, and they can start fighting with each other at any moment, underneath there is a deep connection that Americans can never understand.

I see it at my gym. When a guy walks in and starts hugging all of his friends with such warmth, even though they’re sweating like crazy, I see the love, the brotherhood they share with each other.

Being a part of the army together, risking your lives at every moment together, going through grueling, nearly impossible trainings and missions together - that creates a bond that is indescribable.

And this bond is not just between soldiers. Every soldier here is like the son and daughter of every parent. Every father and mother cries when they hear of a soldier being killed. They feel the pain of that soldier’s parents in such a deep way.

I understand because that’s the way I feel about my friend.

Eliyahu z”l was a former student of my oldest son’s yeshiva. I was touched by the outpouring of support by the entire staff, as well as students that had never met him. My son Yehuda arranged for his class to hold morning prayers at the shiva home for the duration of the shiva. This morning, some of the faculty spoke about him and fondly remembered him as a special light, a sweet soul that was a much loved addition to their school.

To my dear friends, the Drori family, words cannot express the immense sorrow I feel for you. Even though I had only met Eliyahu a few times at shul, I was touched by his warm smile and friendly demeanor. You were truly fortunate to have him as a son.

May he and all of the righteous martyrs that died for the sake of the Jewish People, or because they were Jewish, shine brightly in that special place in Heaven reserved for the most precious of souls. And may we see the end of pain and suffering, and joyfully greet the Mashiach and all of our loved ones once again, speedily, Amen.

In loving memory of Eliyahu Drori z"l. Don't miss Rav Brody's Memorial Day post below. 

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Happy 70th Birthday, State of Israel!!

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My cousin Maya is on a March of the Living trip in Poland, and she sent me this totally awesome picture of a classmate standing on the train tracks that lead into Auschwitz Birkenau extermination camp. 

What a great picture, right?! 

It's mind-boggling that the world has repeatedly tried to kill us off in the most barbaric of ways. Our history is filled with war, persecution, and bloodshed. But somehow, we're still here. And growing.

We're not perfect (the understatement of the year) but we're still on this Earth, and in our precious Holy Land, and we're growing like nobody's business. With all of the threats that surround us every moment, we still manage to keep moving forward and thriving. 

And I'm not just talking about the Torah-observant Jews. 

The secular Jews are making great contributions to society and the world. I mean, except for Harvey Weinstein and Bernie Madoff. Oh, and Howard Stern. 

I feel so blessed and fortunate to be here, in Israel, getting ready to celebrate the 70th birthday of our Jewish state, which will be this Thursday. 

Yes, our government is totally corrupt. Yes, there's pork-eating and pride parades. Yes, there's A LOT of room for improvement.

But I think about the diversity of people here, and I'm amazed that we not only manage to survive together, but we thrive together. 

The lesson I take away from being here during Israeli Independence Day is that we should have more tolerance for one another.  

We should have more tolerance for different political opinions, religious views, levels of observance, and traditions. I really think that if we could just work more on this, Mashiach would be here in no time. 

If someone else is not holding by our stricter standards, that is not a reason to look down on them or make them feel less Jewish. Everyone has their process and their timing and their unique soul correction, and we need to be okay with that.

Hashem has infinite patience for us and our process. If He didn't, well, none of us would be here. 

So let's learn from Hashem this Independence Day. Be tolerant of one another, be patient with one another, and G-d forbid, love one another. 

~Racheli

In loving memory of Eliyahu Drori hy"d, the IDF soldier that was killed while chasing smugglers last Friday night. His father is a beloved member of our kehilla, and we at the Beams extend our deepest condolences for their tragic loss. May they be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. 

Photo from Racheli Reckles (37)

 


Iguana Invaders

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Few things have made me so happy early in the morning like this picture. 

But really, the video was even more entertaining.

In case you snow-covered Northerners don't know what this is, it's an iguana. (I think.) Iguanas roam South Florida freely, as if they own the place. They can be strolling along the side of the road and give the Look of Death to a guy on his bike, and that poor guy will inexplicably fly right off and land in the bushes. I mean, hopefully. 

Yesterday, this not-so-little guy, affectionately known as Big Ig, decided to take a dip in my sister's pool. She was in the house when she spotted him catching some rays. Since Big Ig thought he owned the place, he demanded a lounge chair and a Strawberry Daiquiri. Seriously, what self-respecting iguana lays out without the appropriate sunbathing accessories? 

Naturally, my sister ran to record the whole drama. But what she didn't realize when she began screaming about the iguana jumping into the pool was how much I'd enjoy it. If she did, she never would have sent me the video.

Oh, how I laughed and laughed when she squealed in horror as she helplessly watched the iguana jump into the pool. 

How I snorted in hysterics when her husband finally caught Big Ig in the pool net and started heading toward her with it. 

I think I watched that video 24 times today. 

And I laughed every. Single. Time.

Big Ig taught me a profound spiritual lesson, and I'm just passing it along as per his request. 

He said to me, "You may look at me, laying out by this fancy pool, looking all glamorous with my long nails and shiny scales, but you don't see the whole picture. You don't see how much secret pain I carry around as I slither 'round the 'hood. You think it's cool that other people scream from fear and repulsion when they see me, but inside I'm sad because no one wants to be my friend. You may think that I roam the streets carefree, but you can't imagine the secret terror I carry with me because I can turn into roadkill in an instant."

"Wow, Big Ig," I responded. "I'm so ashamed that I misjudged you. I only saw what was on the outside and didn't think further than that."

"Well that's because you're superficial and self-centered," he replied. 

"And shallow," I added.

Isn't that kinda the same thing?

So you see, fellow self-centered people who love to judge others based on their glamorous selfies on Facebook: everyone's got problems. It reminds me of one couple a few years ago that kept posting pictures of their gorgeous family vacationing here and there. They looked like the perfect family with the perfect life. But just a few months later, all pictures with the husband were deleted, and she changed her status to "single." 

And I'd like to add that when someone gets upset, or seems to have a negative reaction that's way out of proportion than what would be appropriate, do your best to step back and give that person the benefit of the doubt. You really have no idea what secret painful situation he may be going through.

So before you start judging others or fantasizing about trading your life with someone else's, stop and ask yourself this one important question:

What would Big Ig do?

G-d I'm soooo happy my sister doesn't read this blog! 

~Racheli