58 posts categorized "Prayer and Meditation"

Tough Opposition on the Field

Spiritual Growth
Dear Rabbi Lazer,

I'm writing this to you for two reasons: first, you don't know me and I feel really embarassed talking about this to a rabbi that knows me; and second, since you too are a Baal Teshuva, I'm hoping you can understand a fellow BT that was born in the spiritual gutters far away from Torah. I became observant about five years ago, when I finished my masters degree. As a university student and a popular dude at that, I guess you can say that I did about everything and enjoyed it too. I won't go into the reasons that I made teshuva, but I became very disgusted with my lusty lifestyle. I began to learn Torah and was drawn especially to the teachings of the Zohar. I did an about face and made serious efforts in developing my personal holiness. With daily mikva, daily teshuva, and total immersion Torah, I became a new person. Two years ago, I was introduced to a young lady who after three dates became my fiance. We are blissfully married, in no small thanks to The Garden of Peace, which I live by.

So what's my problem? I thought I had deleted my naughty x-rated past from my brain. On Yom Kippur, the Yetzer gave me a triple whammy. During Kol Nidre, a really raunchy image flashed before my eyes which I won't describe, but it was something from the lowest part of my past. The same thing happened during Mussaf, and the same thing happened again in Neila. During the three highest points in the Yom Kippur prayers, I was watching myself in x-rated movies from my own past, the exact opposite of holiness. Why did Hashem shtup me with these terrible thoughts? What could I possibly have done wrong to be pushed away like this? I had such aspirations of clinging to Hashem with real devotion in this year's prayers, and I blew it. I feel devistated and dejected, as if I've been totally defeated. What can I do? Please help me. Thanks so very much, David from California

Dear David,

The Yetzer - the Evil Inclination - wants you to think that you're a loser. The exact opposite is true - this Yom Kippur, you have attained a lofty and admirable soul correction. You're the winner, my man; here's how:

Back in your university days, you thoroughly enjoyed doing the lewd things that so embarassingly popped into your head during this past Yom Kippur. Yet now, the forbidden acts that you once enjoyed are now a source of shame. Your shame during Yom Kippur is not only a sign of humility and holiness, but a soul correction for the past. Having done teshuva out of love (hear our CD on the subject), your past transgressions now become valuable merits to your credit. What's more, when you did those wrong things, you didn't know they were wrong. You can be proud of yourself, for Hashem is proud of the unbelievable growth that you've made in five short years. Don't ever forget that spiritual growth and serving Hashem are like football - you can't gain an inch without facing tough opposition; that's why the rewards are so great. Keep plugging away, slowly but surely, for you'll be a big winner. Remember also that as a BT, you're now playing in a championship league. Be happy, David - you're doing great. With blessings for joyous Chol Hamoed and a wonderful year, LB

The Iron Elephant

Iron Elephant

Here's a Lazer fable for you:

A group of mighty Watusi hunters were walking home to their village at the end of the day's hunt. They reached a narrow clearing, but there path was blocked by a big truck. The chief said to his ten fellow tribesman, "Come, let's push this iron elephant out of our way." They pushed and pushed, but the truck barely budged.

Suddenly, a European-looking man in a safari suit emerged from the jungle. He saw the Watusis trying to push his truck out of their way, and offered in perfect Watusi dialect, "Excuse me, gentleman; I'll be happy to move the truck out of your way. In fact, it will be my privilege to give you a lift back to your village."

The chief and his tribesman were flabbergasted. Not only did they refuse to believe that the frail-looking European could succeed in moving an iron elephant on his own, but to carry them back to their village, all eleven of them? He must be deranged, they thought.

The European produced a key chain from his pocket, and waved it before the the chief's nose. "With the aid of this modest key, I shall move the truck and carry you home!"

"Labumba!", said the Watusis to each other, spinning their forefingers around their foreheads, indicating that the stranger was a fool.

The European unlocked the door to the truck, climbed aboard, put the key in the ignition, turned the switch, stepped on the gas, and VARROOOOOMM! Scared out of their wits from the roar of the 425-horsepower Detroit engine, the Watusis scattered in eleven different directions, mostly up. Now, watching from the treetops, they saw the iron elephant cruise merrily away, with no one even pushing...

To this day, the watusi chief is still scratching his head: "How could a little key move an iron elephant, when eleven mighty Watusis could not?"


Most of us aren't much smarter than the Watusis. We think that we can accomplish something only by physical means. Oftentimes we push for something and knock our brains out, yet we achieve minor results, that is, if we don't do damage to ourselves first. It takes tons of explosives to penetrate a reinforced enemy bunker, but if you have a key, you can peacefully walk right in the front door. Oh yes, we all have a general belief that there's a G-d in heaven who runs the show, but few of us really believe in the power of prayer - that Hashem really listens to us. Otherwise, we'd be putting a lot more effort into sincere prayer and spirituality.

Prayer is the tiny little ignition key that can move the iron elephant where the mighty hunters could not.

With all the problems left over from 5775, and staring us in the face from the outset of 5776, it's about time we learned to pray. The Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the best time to start. By the way, it's hard to push a stubborn elephant...

May you and yours be signed in the Book of Life for a wonderful New Year 5776, amen!


When the Words Don't Come

Sometimes, you go out to the field - yearning to speak to Hashem - but the words don't come. On one such occasion, when I was all choked up, I took my little shepherd's flute and began to play. Hashem in His infinite mercy gave me the gift of the following melody, which unclogged the heart, released the tears, and enabled the words to flow forth. I call this melody, "Whispering Soul" - with all the noise in the world, we need daily time to be alone with Hashem and to listen to the faint but sublime message of our soul, which yearns to be heard. 

Overseas, it's holiday season and the roads are jammed; whatever you do, drive carefully. Don't forget to say The Traveler's Prayer (Tefilat_haderech) when you begin your journey, whether by car, bus, train, boat or plane. Don't ever think that you're alone, because Hashem is right there with you. He cares so very much about you, and so do we.

Don't Waste the Wine

Hashem is a loving and compassionate Father in Heaven. He wants to give us every form of abundance, but he can't pour fine wine on the floor and waste it. We must prepare a suitable receptacle to receive Divine abundance. That receptacle is prayer.

One who erroneously believes that Hashem doesn't want to give him something is a heretic. Hashem's greatest pleasure is to give us abundance. But, we must be able to receive His abundance.

People complain that they lack things in life. Rebbe Natan said, "Wherever I see deficiency, I see lack of prayer." There are no instant remedies. There are no rabbit's-feet solutions for unemployment, a lack of a soulmate, childlessness or any other deficiency. The only solution is to turn to Hashem in prayer - the more the better. Many people don't like that answer, but it's the only true answer.

May Hashem answer all your prayers for the very best. Don't ever give up. Prayer is the best gift we have. And, Hashem always listens.

Yonatan Razel: Katonti

Our forefather Jacob was in grave danger, threatened with total annihilation. But he doesn't cry and complain to Hashem. Sure, he seeks Hashem's help, but before he does, he ever so humbly thanks Hashem and says (Genesis 32:11-12):

I am unworthy of all Your loving-kindnesses and the truth that You have done for your servant; 

For with my walking-stick alone, I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps.

Plase rescue me!

Yonatan Razel, one of our favorite singers, brings these holy words into one of the most beautiful melodies you'll ever want to hear. Enjoy it and have a wonderful Shabbat!