135 posts categorized "Jewish holidays"

And Even Though He Tarries...

All the preconditions that our sages have stipulated for the coming of Moshiach have been fulfilled. The time is especially ripe now. Nevertheless, despite all the eager anticipation, and even though he tarries, we still wait for Moshiach innocently and patiently with simple faith. "And even though" in Hebrew is Ve'af al pi.

The Rambam's 12th principle of emuna is, "I believe with full and complete faith in the coming of Moshiach; and even though he tarries, I shall still wait for him whatever day he comes."

Let's hear Rav Shlomo Carlebach of blessed memory put the Rambam's above principle to music in one of his most soul-stirring melodies. Enjoy it, and may you have a wonderful Shvii shel Pesach and may we all soon - together - merit to greet Moshiach in our rebuilt Holy Temple in Jerusalem, amen. 


Matzo Man

Important Pesach notice: Sadness and depression are the two worst forms of spiritual chametz. They have no place in our house or in our hearts! If you're not smiling, G-d forbid, go have a look at Matzo Man - this is one of our perennial favorites. May Hashem bless you with the happiest Pesach ever!


The Aquatic Seder

Aquatic Seder
We all know how we want our Seder night to be, but there are usually surprises along the way - that's part of the Passover turf. Why, As Rabbi Shalom Arush teaches us, Passover is the holiday of emuna, and you don't strengthen emuna by eating chocolate ice-cream...

Imagine coming home from synagogue and looking forward to start your Seder, but the house is flooded. No joke - this is a true story as you can see in The Aquatic Seder, Rav Shalom Arush's Passover message in this week's special Pesach issue of Breslev Israel web magazine.

Here's a moving story about my father, of blessed memory: At the time, I was ten or eleven years old. It was the first day of Passover, and I was in the local Conservative synagogue with my father for Passover services. "Pop" was by no means religious, for his father had already left the fold of observant Judaism when he left the pogroms of Ukraine for Canada, but he had a really warm Jewish soul. He loved every Jew, respected Torah scholars and was constantly giving charity. He had the burly exterior of a kid who grew up on the tough side of town and of a World War II veteran, but underneath it, he had the softest heart in the world. Seeing a sick baby would bring tears to his eyes. Seeing a poor person would break his heart. But hearing anyone badmouth Jews would make his blood boil... don't miss the rest of Four Sons, all at the Table

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev's famous story about the two vagabond guests for Passover teaches that we should always have patience, otherwise we’ll miss the treats on the way, as we see in The Bitter Herbs.

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach teaches that Seder night is when we tell our children there is one G-d. There is one Torah. There is Eretz Yisrael. There's no time to waste - there's much to do in One Short Night...

Rebbetzen Chana Bracha Siegelbaum gives us a beautiful explanation of women's role at the Seder Table with Four Cups, Four Mothers.

While we're on the subject of Seder night, can you guess why it is God's Favorite Night...

You'll find a treasury of more Passover articles here.

To round out this week's Breslev Israel web-mag, see these great articles:

Racheli Reckles: Abusing Antibiotics, a must-read, especially if you have children.

Dr. Zev Ballen: The Double Bind, how to escape a negative pattern.

Yehudit Channen: Golden Years - is there life past 60? 

Dovber Halevi: Hi-tech and the Chafetz Chaim: did teh Chafetz Chaim envision smartphones?

Lori Steiner: The Emuna 26 - practical points of emuna.

Shai Mor: A Time to Shine, a tale of two sons...

Important Reminder! There are only 24 hours left to fulfill the mitzva of Kimcha D'Pischa. Don't miss out! Big Beams Blessings for a wonderful week and a joyous Passover!


V'hi She'amda: The Eternal Promise

Even though I am cold-turkey on political issues, many of my dear friends in Judea and Samaria, our biblical heartland, have been asking for my reaction to the USA's surprising (sic) backtrack on campaign promises, to the extent that President Trump is even retaining two ex-Obama very left-leaning advisers, while cooking in the White House kitchen a new (not KP) recipe for a  two-state solution.

We can't say a word about the American administration when our own political leaders should really be in the furniture business, because all they care about is the chair they sit on. Ideology? Truth? You will find neither in the current blue-and-white regime. Maybe now, our people will finally learn that there's no one to trust but Hashem. We certainly can't trust those who change their opinions as frequently as they change their socks and prefer political expediency to justice and truth. So, my Pesach-eve message to my cherished brothers and sisters in Judea and Samaria is that it's time that we all come back to Hashem in complete teshuva, asking His forgiveness for any trust we put in human beings, in Israel or abroad.

The Gemara (tractate Sanhedrin 97b) says that the Nation of Israel (aka the Jewish People) will be redeemed as soon as they make teshuva, in other words, return to Hashem and the ways of His Torah. The Gemara then asks, what happens if the Nation of Israel doesn't make teshuva? Rebbe Yehoshua answers that if Israel doesn't make teshuva, then Hashem places them under the influence of a wicked king whose evil decrees are as severe as Haman's, and then they make teshuva.

We cannot fathom The Almighty's love for us and His infinite mercy. Despite the fact that we haven't made Teshuva from Love, which is what we need to do in order to be redeemed, and despite the fact that our own misdeeds put us under the boot of each generation's wicked kings, Hashem has made an eternal promise to deliver us from their hands. That's the V'hi She'amda prayer that we recite each year in the Haggada.

Let me share with you something additional about Hashem's love for His people: The Heavenly Altar and Throne is known as Upper Jerusalem; it is situated directly above Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which is known in the Zohar, Midrash, and Gemara as Lower Jerusalem. Hashem refuses to dwell in Upper Jerusalem until His permanent dwelling on earth - the Holy Temple - will be rebuilt in Lower Jerusalem (see Gemara tractate Taanit 5a, Midrash Tehillim 122, Vilna Gaon's elaboration of Zohar, Safra DeTzniuta, ist Chapter). Many evil world leaders are denying our right to the area of our own Holy Temple. Once again, we have no cause to be angry at them, for as soon as we make real teshuva, they will crumble. But, until we make teshuva, those evil leaders should be forewarned that by disenfranchising Israel from what they call East Jerusalem, they are in effect trying to disenfranchise The Almighty. Cherished brothers and sisters, that won't happen, period.

Hashem has no gratification by forcing us to make teshuva. When we strengthen our emuna and seek Hashem on our own accord, we sanctify His Holy Name. Let's wake up, beloved brothers and sisters. It's either nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles or emuna books and CDs; the choice is ours. Now you can understand why Emuna Outreach is working so hard to spread emuna around the globe - Rav Shalom Arush says that every emuna book or CD neutralizes one ballistic missile. When Moshiach comes, he'll show us all how emuna saved lives; the Gemara says that anyone who saves one life is considered as if he or she saved an entire world.

V'hi She'amda is a Passover song whose words come from the Haggada. It conveys a very timely message for the Jewish people: He who stood by our forefathers stands by us to deliver us from the hands of our enemies in every generation.

One of Jewish music's favorite sons, my dear friend Yonatan Razel, wrote a beautiful melody for this song, which he sings here with the king of Jewish singers, my very special friend Yaacov Shwekey. You'll get shivers up your spine and tears in your eyes listening to them. We're sure you'll enjoy this musical treat as much as we do. Enjoy it and have a wonderful Shabbat, Seder night and Passover holiday!


Spiritually Preparing for Passover

Pesach Commando

We hope everybody is making preparations for Passover with big smiles on their faces. The house will surely be clean, but don't forget the soul. Passover is coming fast and we must prepare ourselves for true liberation - freedom of the soul.

The minute one loses one's personal sense of worth and a positive self image, he or she becomes a slave.

Lack of self-respect, self-deprecation, and ignorance of one's own marvelous qualities and heritage are tickets to the slave train. Shame or embarrassment about one's ethnic or religious background is tantamount to carrying around an iron shackle with a 50-lb. ball and chain.

These feelings of inferiority are an invitation to let society dictate how you should live your life. People who feel inferior are weak; it's easy to exploit a person with no backbone. Controlled and exploited people are the most miserable creatures on the face of the earth.

For a Jew, one of the most important Passover preparation - after getting rid of the chometz - is learning who we are and why we're celebrating. Modern society often discourages us from learning about our wonderful background, our G-d, and what emuna - the full and simple faith in Him - can do for us in every level of life, be it emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and even physical.

Emuna helps you feel good about yourself.  As soon as you begin feeling good about yourself, you become free. Every human has an inherent right to freedom; that's the universal message of the Passover holiday. Happy Passover preparations!


The Holiday of Emuna

Pesach cartoon

If I were Moshe Rabbeinu, I would say: "For the next 40 years we do Zumba and cross training until we're about to collapse, and in between all that we'll power walk and eat lots of guacamole-flavored manna."

By this cute cartoon, it seems that the manna really did become whatever we wanted it to be. It's a good thing we don't have manna today, because I'd be eating a full, all-you-can-eat buffet every night. This year more than ever, it's way too easy to eat whatever you want on Pesach. There's no feeling of lack any more. You can eat all kinds of cakes, cookies, even pizza that are from potato starch and gasp gluten free! But be forewarned: gluten free is a big scam! Aside from being a necessity for those with Celiac, gluten free just means TONS OF SUGAR. 

And all that sugar raises your insulin, and high insulin means you're storing more calories as fat instead of burning them. So eater beware. Don't end up with a Pesach Potbelly. I'll do my best to follow my own advice too, for once.

Speaking of potbellies, did you know that Pesach is connected with emuna? I have no idea what those two things have to do with potbellies, but I didn't have another lead-in. And I'm very, very tired. Like, fading out tired. This last sentence took me six minutes to write. Let's focus on the Pesach/emuna connection. Rav Brody talks about the strange contradiction between the bread of poverty and joyous celebration. Certainly these two don't go together, right? Wrong! Rav Brody makes an amazing connection between matzah and emuna, and I promise it's much better than my lame connection between potbellies and emuna. Don't miss this must-read article before Pesach, A Most Welcome Guest! 

Rav Shalom Arush says that to appreciate Pesach, we must learn gratitude as well. Amazing. I'm not exactly sure how, but in the midst of getting ready for Pesach and freaking out on our kids because they keep sneaking food into their rooms, we're supposed to look for our good points and thank Hashem for them. I've gotta try that sometime. I think that focusing on our Good Points and Gratitude is a great way for us to save our sanity and keep us from doing something that might get us a little jail time, if you get my drift. 

My featured article this week has nothing to do with Pesach, but it has a whole lot to do with emuna! You'll be amazed by this true story of a good friend of mine, who came back to Judaism through her Japanese student who wasn't Jewish, as she was living in Japan and teaching English and she ended up marrying him, and then there was this massive earthquake, and you seriously have to read From Riches to Righteous! 

I can't believe it. It happened again! I got chills at the end of Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen's article! How does she do it?? Read the amazing story of Shlomo, her son, and do your best to learn from her example. I know I will! Enjoy these beautiful Fruits of Emuna!  They're low-carb!

Dr. Zev Ballen gives us great tips for how to get out of the same destructive patterns that we fall into when dealing with our kids. I have absolutely no idea what he's talking about. But for all the rest of you parents that aren't perfect like I am, do yourselves and your kids a big favor and read Ending the Crazy 8.

It's obvious to me that Jennifer Woodward is one totally righteous woman. Just the title of her article alone is something I couldn't even write. While she's sharing her personal journey through some tough challenges and her attempts to reach Level 3 emuna, I'm still scratching my head and wondering if I'm ever going to reach Level 1. I'm really not kidding. Are any of you as amazing as she is, that you can see The Beauty of Tribulations in your life? Please, let me know who you are! I want to be your friend!

You know, I'm starting to wonder what I'm doing in such awesome virtual company. Dr. Rivka Levron writes about her amazing and terrifying (for me) car crash with The Flying Tire, but from the aspect of complete Divine Providence. Seriously, who does such a thing? I'm making myself sound more pathetic as I write, aren't I? Well, that's a-okay! 

Oh, brother. Here's another righteous one. Lori Steiner writes about Blessing the Evil Inclination.  Yes, it's true. Our evil inclinations are actually here to help us get closer to Hashem. Lori gives us great tips that help us use him for our benefit while not falling into his wily trap. What does wily mean? I'm too lazy too look it up. 

Just when you thought you couldn't be as righteous as our writers, I'm here to tell you that you can! Be a part of Rav Arush's incredible Kimcha d'Pischa fund, which gives food for Pesach to impoverished families. Imagine what beautiful blessings you will receive by sponsoring a poor family's Seder! It's priceless, I tell you! 

So that's it. I'm packing up and going on vacation to Eilat. By myself. Sometime in the next 20 years. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful Shabbat and Pesach Kasher V'Sameach! 

~Racheli