68 posts categorized "Prayer and Meditation"

Amen, Brother!

Amen
The distinguished and saintly Rabbi Bentzion Mutzafi, may Hashem bless him, in commenting on the increasing tensions along our northern border, suggests that we do several self-strengthening measures that will both enhance our personal safety and our national security. They are:

  1. Recite Psalm 91;
  2. Recite "Ana B'Koach," 7 times;
  3. Recite Psalm 121, 7 times;
  4. Say the "Aleinu" prayer with intent;
  5. Recite Parshat Haketoret;
  6. Recite Psalm 20, 12 times;
  7. Recite Psalms 120 through and including 134.

The above advice is powerful, all based on our sages' advice in the Gemara, Zohar and Chassidic writings. They invoke big miracles, for those who do them. Unfortunately, I don't think many people will.

Hashem opened my eyes to a equally powerful protective ploy that also invokes miracles, one that is firmly based both in the Gemara and in the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law). And, it's much easier, as I wrote in Monday's Emuna News. Anyone can do this and it won't cost you a cent. Simply, get used to saying "amen" every time you hear a blessing recited. This is spiritual non-conventional weaponry.

Later today, G-d willing, we're going to learn about the power of one word - amen. 

Don't miss today's (Wednesday) Emuna shiur and live broadcast from Jerusalem, entitled "Amen, Brother!," will take place, G-d willing, on the ground-floor main sanctuary of the Chut Shel Chessed Yeshiva on 13 Shmuel Hanavi Street in Jerusalem at 7PM Israel time; the shiur is open to the public - both men and women are invited. You can see today's lesson here - the broadcast, as well as our lessons posted from now on - are Mac and iPod compatible. If you tune in too early to the live broadcast link, you'll be sent to the main page of the Breslev Israel website, so try to tune in on time.  If you are not able to view today's broadcast live, then G-d willing, you'll be able to see the video tape of it later this coming week on Lazer Beams.


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 Rosh Hashanah, the Yetzer gave me a triple whammy. During Maariv on the first night, 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 the second night. When I should have been crowning the King, 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 devastated 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 year, 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 a meaning Yom Kippur and a wonderful year, LB


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.

~Racheli

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


Sometimes, the Answer is "No"

Loving Answer
Many people, no matter what level of religious observance they're on, ask Hashem for something that they need. It could be a soulmate, children, money, health, or whatever they need at that moment. When they don't get what they want, many times they come to the conclusion that Hashem isn't listening to their prayers.

This couldn't be further from the truth. How can I prove it? Here's the test. Parents, imagine if your child came to you with a very concerned look on his face. "Mommy, Daddy, I really need your help with something," he asks. Would you ever think to ignore his plea for help? Who could turn their backs on their child when he comes to them with a problem, or with a request for something he needs? Even if you decide not to grant that request, surely you would at least hear him out.

Hashem is infinitely more compassionate and merciful than the most loving parent. When one of His children calls out to Him for help, He drops everything else to come close to them and listen to their requests. So, if Hashem is always listening, then why aren't all of our requests granted?

As loving parents, we try to do what's best for our children. If your child wants to eat a chocolate bar for dinner, you will not allow it, because you know it will ruin his appetite and fill him up with sugar and chemicals right before bedtime. No matter how much he cries and screams, most parents will hold firm to their response: "No. This is not good for you right now."

Who knows what would happen if we got what we think we needed? It could end up being the worst thing for us. Maybe the million dollars in the bank will make us become arrogant and insensitive. Maybe the person you wanted to marry would have been a less than wonderful spouse. Maybe the dream job would have come with a nightmare boss. 

Hashem knows what's best for us. It's our job to believe that. 

So, yes - sometimes the answer is, "No."


Who Did What in Washington?

Shavua Tov, blessings for a wonderful new week!

First of all, I'm happy to report that I arrived home safely to my beloved homeland this past Thursday night.

When our speaking tour in LA, Houston and Monsey, New York was concluded, Rav Arush continued on to Latin America with my Spanish-speaking colleague, Rabbi Yonatan Gal'ed. I boarded the Amtrac from NYC to DC, looking forward to visiting my 90-year-old Mom, may Hashem bless her, and spending some two days of cherished chill-time with my two brothers in the DC area. Hashem had different plans. As soon as I arrived in DC, I took a cab to Mom's apartment in an assisted-living facility on Connecticut Avenue. I found her choking for breath; she was suffering from pneumonia and congestive heart failure. She had to be rushed to the hospital. For 48 hours, things were touch and go but with Hashem's mercy, she bounced back.

When I wasn't with Mom in the hospital, I was spending as much time as I could out in the woods by the Northwest Branch of the Potomac, near where my brother ZZ lives. When I came back to his house after my personal prayer session (yes - Hashem is in the Washington, DC area too), we went to Mincha prayers at his synagogue. One man greeted me and said, "Hey, Rabbi Lazer - you arrived here the same day that Bibi did! Do you plan to go the White House too?"

"To tell you the truth," I said, "my only reason to go the White House would be to give Donald Trump a copy of The Garden of Emuna and The Trail to Tranquility. Other than that, Hashem has a fantastic office out on the Northeast Brach trail - I just went there to visit Him. Beats the White House anytime." The man who greeted me walked away. He looked at me as if I had nerve talking about emuna in a synagogue...

It turns out that at the same time I was talking to Hashem in the woods right outside Washington, DC, Bibi was talking to Trump in the White House. Bibi should have joined me in the woods.

Why?

When you speak to Hashem, you get results. Maybe your request isn't fulfilled on the spot, but you right away get closer to Hashem, something that's conducive to every blessing in life.

When you speak to flesh and blood, you never know what you're getting. Already, people are baffled by President Trump's confusing positions where he seems to be backing down from campaign promises. But Trump doesn't run the world - Hashem does. Rather than putting trust in him, Israel should put its entire trust in Hashem, for whatever Hashem decides, that's what will be.

Next time Bibi comes to Washington, he should include this place in his itinerary - for results, it beats the White House:


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 5776, and staring us in the face from the outset of 5777, 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 5777, amen!

 


Daily Centering

Time for Yourself
Here's something I picked up from a health-and-fitness coach's manual (the bold-letter emphases are mine):

"The very first way to combat stress is to have your clients begin the exercise of taking 10 minutes each day - to simply sit and center themselves with their thoughts. They can find a quiet room somewhere and as they do, they should simply clear their mind or let their thoughts take place and then release them. This is a form of meditation and it can do wonders for helping to restore central nervous system balance, reducing ongoing stress and helping them feel that much better on a day to day basis. If they can’t do this for 10 minutes – 5 minutes will suffice. Any amount of time done daily or as close to daily a possible will have a very positive influence on their stress levels."

I don't know how many other health-and-fitness coaches follow the teachings of Rebbe Nachman, but the author of the above manual is right on the money. If 10 minutes daily ("5 minutes will suffice") does so much good for a person's nervous system, stress levels and overall good feeling, then imagine what 60 minutes a day of secluded personal prayer accomplishes! This is quality time, alone with Hashem, where you collect your thoughts, clarify issues and simply recharge body and soul. I like to do my daily sessions while walking, especially somewhere secluded and beautiful where heart and soul open wide up. It's the key to self-composure, happiness and sanity. Try it - you'll love it.