173 posts categorized "Jewish holidays"

V'hi She'amda: The Eternal Promise

There's a major difference between Hashem and political leaders: He keeps His promises whereas they don't. Seder night is proof...

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 politics, whether you look at the right, center or left. With that in mind, maybe now, our people around the globe 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, especially here in Israel, 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!


Food Shopping for Freedom

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How unrealistic does this picture look? Seriously, who skips through the grocery store? And there's way too much healthy food in that tiny little cart. Just look at that guy's forced smile. He's probably thinking, "I have no idea what half of this stuff is!" Sure he doesn't. He only knows what his wife puts on his plate, all nice and cut up. 

I've lived here for 6 1/2 years B"H, and I still can't get over the fact that my Nachman is screaming siren noises into the megaphone he's holding two feet away from my ears. Sorry, I got distracted. Why did I buy him that megaphone? Oh, right! I didn't. That was courtesy of my darling husband who's not home most of the time. How thoughtful of him! Tomorrow morning I'm going to use it to wake him up. 

Let's backtrack a bit. What I meant to say was that I still can't get over the end-of-the-world style food shopping people do before every holiday. 

I mean, I do it too. Don't get me wrong. But I don't know why! Just a few days ago I went food shopping, and literally half my cart ended up getting filled with Pesach cakes, cookies, and ketchup. (You like how I just wrote that in such a passive way? As if I had nothing to do with actually putting the "food" into the cart.) 

I tell you, the stores are chaos here. People are pushing past each other, trying to reach the last box of chocolate covered hard-as-a-rock potato cookies. Non-gebroktz, yo. Okay, so I happened to be the one trying to use an old lady's shoulder as a step-stool. I mean, what was I supposed to do? She was just the right height. But then I lost my balance because I put my hand on her head to balance myself, and her wig went flying off. And then I fell. 

Believe me, I learned my lesson. Next time I'll find someone with a nicely secured hair wrap to help me reach the top shelf. 

So how crazy is the food shopping by you? As if that weren't enough, on my street every year there's a huge market-type thing where people pre-order their stuff, then drive through with their cars while hot sweaty kids performing slave labor for less than minimum wage pant volunteer in the 100+ degree heat as they load the boxes of zucchini and plastic plates into the trunks of the cars as they breathe in the toxic exhaust because no one's turning off their engines. Two of my kids are out there right now, in fact. I gave them the choice of melting in the hot sun carrying heavy boxes or straightening up their rooms. Wise decision. 

I ordered from this organization one year because everything is cheaper than the stores, and I ended up with enough zucchini, onions, and lemons to last for three months. They all rotted after a week, and that was that. Money wasted in an attempt to save money. 

So there's a lesson that can be painfully extracted from this. 

When Hashem gave the Jews manna, the perfect food from Heaven, He gave them enough to last for one day. That was so they would learn to trust that He would take care of them. Because apparently a magnificent freedom from slavery wasn't enough to convince them that Hashem had their backs. Wait. We're like, ummm, what's 2018 AD-1446 BCE? A lot.  We're several thousands of years after the Exodus from Egypt and we still don't believe Hashem has our backs.

Maybe that's why we have to re-enact the Pesach seder every year? Hmmm. Maybe that's why we have to try to pass the test of not buying too much food? H to the mmmmm....

But you know, Jews and food. It's a soulmate union. 

Hey, I just thought of a joke! You know why Yom Kippur is traditionally thought of as the saddest day of the year, even though it should be the happiest day of the year because Hashem forgives all of our sins between us and Him?

It's because we can't eat! 

On that note, I'd like to try and be serious for a second. Every year Rav Arush collects for hundreds of needy families that really have nothing for Pesach. They can barely put together enough money to buy matzah. The situation is really that desperate. Know that by donating to these types of families, you will have a share in every mitzvah they do, every blessing they say, every ounce of joy they have during the holiday. It will be in your merit. For a few dollars, you've just gained blessings for eternity. 

I would say that's a wise investment. Wouldn't you? 

You can make your donation to Rav Arush's Emuna Outreach's Kimcha D'Pischa Fund by clicking here. Every single dollar goes directly to those families who need it and who have no one to turn to. 

May Hashem bless all of you with a happy, healthy, and meaningful Pesach surrounded by people you actually like to be with! And in the merit of helping the less fortunate and being a part of Breslev Israel's efforts to spread emuna throughout the world, may we experience the Final Redemption and the coming of our Mashiach and the rebuilding of our Holy Temple, Amen!!! 

~Racheli

 


Rav Shalom Arush: The Dedicated Twin

Dedicated Twin
Here's a story that my esteemed and beloved teacher Rav Shalom Arush told me
:

There were two twins – a brother and sister – who really loved one another and were each other's best friend. One wintry evening when the winds howled outside and torrents of rain pounded on their windows, the little girl started crying. Her brother asked her why she's crying. "I'm soooooo afraid," she sobbed.

Her brother held her hand and soothed her. "Don't be afraid; I'm your brother – I'll always protect you."

Days passed. The twins, merely 5 years old, fell ill with a rare disease. Miraculously, the brother recuperated; his body developed antibodies against the invasive microbes. The sister wasn't as fortunate. Barely alive, she needed urgent blood donations. Because of their rare blood type and the disease antibodies, the twin brother was the only suitable donor.

The attending physician asked the parents for permission to perform the needed blood transfusions. They agreed, hoping to save their daughter's life. Then, the physician asked the twin brother, "Are you willing to donate blood in order to save your sister's life?"

The little boy broke out crying. But, true to his word that he'd protect his sister, he calmed himself and said, "Yes, doctor – I'll do anything for my sister."

Lying in bed next to his sedated, unconscious sister, the brother looked at her while a tear trickled down his cheek. The nurse came and put the needle in his arm. The little boy seemed really upset, alarmed by the needle. " Doctor, isn't it true that I'm going to die soon?"

The doctor was shocked. The little boy was sure that he'd need to donate all his blood to save his sister. He thought that the doctor and his parents were asking him to sacrifice his own life for the sake of his sister, yet he agreed.

***

Our reality is like that of children in the story. Some of our brethren cannot shoulder the burden of Passover expenses. That means that they won't be able to fulfill the mitzvoth of our holiday, let alone enjoy it. How can a family that can't afford matza think about wine or meat? New shoes for the children are not even an option. These families are wondering if they'll have food on their tables this Passover.

With Passover almost here, this is a golden opportunity for you to participate in Emuna Outreach's annual Kimcha D'Pischa project.

Like the little boy who gave blood to his sister, the body produces new blood to replace that which was donated. In like manner, the Almighty not only returns that which one person contributes, but He adds big dividends too! Hashem says, "If you make others happy, I'll make yours happy."Our Kimcha D'Pischa Project enables hundreds of needy Jewish families in the Land of Israel to celebrate the Passover holiday with joy.

Rabbi Arush personally seeks out the needy families, many of whom are ashamed to ask for the help they so badly need. Unfortunately, we don't have to search very hard, for the needy families are many. Your generous donation to the Kimcha D'Pischa Project will provide needy families all over Israel with all their holiday needs, including meat and poultry, wine, matzoth, dry goods, fruits and vegetables.

You can make your generous tax-deductable donation to Emuna Outreach's Kimcha D'Pischa Fund by clicking here. May Hashem bless you and yours with a truly happy and kosher Passover, amen!


Passover: Cleansing the Spiritual Domain

Did you ever wonder why we search for chametz at night in the dark with a candle? Searching our physical domain is also an Emuna cleaner allegory for searching our spiritual domain, the dark innermost chambers of the heart and mind.

The holy Ariza'l teaches that matza is the "bread of emuna" and positive thoughts whereas chametz (leavened substances) is the bread of heresy and negative thoughts. Sin is the manifestation of negative thoughts and emotions. Many negative emotions such as hate, resentment, jealousy and anger are in themselves violations of Torah as well as the root cause of many other sins.

With the above in mind, our main task in preparation for Passover is the cleansing of our spiritual domain - mind, heart, thoughts and emotions. Particularly, we must rid ourselves of arrogance, selfishness and envy. Only emuna can do that. It's the magical spiritual domain detergent that cleans everything.

This week's Passover-eve issue of Breslev Israel web magazine helps put you in the body-soul happy and clean mode. Check out these lovely articles:

Rabbi Shalom Arush - Vehigadta: The Main Mitzvah 

Rabbi Lazer Brody - Guests at the Seder Table - a story that is conducive for a good income

Rabbi Meir Shlomo - Two Steps to Joy

Racheli Reckles - Another Day, Another Sandwich

Yehudit Channen - What's Eating You?

Dennis Rosen - Dawn of Freedom

Channa Coggan - My Burning Bush Moment

Jennifer Woodward - Reboot

Enjoy, and have a lovely, stress-free week with joyous Passover preparations!


Back to Life

Dolphin
A young man was once walking along the beach when he suddenly saw an old man trying to push one of a dozen or so errant dolphins back into the ocean. The dolphins had made a navigational mistake and ended up getting stuck on the shore, quivering between life and death.  "Hey, Granddad, it doesn't matter how hard you try – you simply won't be able to save all those dolphins. It's impossible – you won't be able to make a difference."

With a deep breath and a huge effort, the old man managed to push one of the dolphins back into the ocean and back to life. The ocean water and the movement of the waves revived the dolphin and he began swimming. "You see that dolphin, young man? For him," the old man panted, "I certainly made a difference."

The young man smiled bashfully and began to help the old man. A third passerby joined them as well, and the three succeeded in saving all the dolphins.

What do we learn from this story? Sometimes we look around us and we see all the deficiency in the world. There's so much to do and so many people to help that our hearts become filled with a sense of futility. We ask ourselves, "How can I possibly deal with all of this. With my sorely limited assets, how can I possibly make a change in anything?"

As soon as we ask ourselves the above question, we must remember: we must do what we are capable of doing and leave the impossible to Hashem. Just like the old man who refused to surrender to the fear that he won't be able to make a difference, he did what he could with no hesitation, summoning up as much power as he could. Then suddenly, as if with a magic wand, others joined him and he saved an entire school of dolphins from imminent death.

We're just like the people in the above story. Passover is almost here; this is a wonderful opportunity to partner in our annual Emuna Outreach Kimcha D'Pischa Project. The heavy expenses of the holiday make it ever so difficult for many families to fulfill the mitzvoth of Passover, much less enjoy the holiday. It's difficult to think about replacing the children's torn and tight shoes with new ones when there's no food on the table and no matzoth or wine for Passover. These are families whose struggle for survival is daily. This very moment, they are wondering if there will be any food to put on the table during Passover…

Emuna Outreach's Kimcha D'Pischa Project enables hundreds of needy Jewish families in the Land of Israel to celebrate the Passover holiday with joy. Since we buy everything bulk and wholesale, a donation of $180 provides an entire family with wine, shmura matza, vegetables, eggs, meat and/or poultry and everything else needed for Seder night. This fulfills for you the two tremendous obligations of Kimcha D'Pischa, providing foodstuffs for the poor on Passover, and Kol Dichfin, opening up your home to the poor on Seder night. This is an easy way to fulfill Kol Dichfin, for when you sponsor a family's Seder night, it's the same as if you hosted them in your own home.

You can make your generous tax-deductable donation to Emuna Outreach's Kimcha D'Pischa Fund by clicking here. May Hashem bless you and yours with a truly happy and kosher Passover!

Remember: do what you can do and leave the rest up to Hashem. That way, we'll truly make a difference.