39 posts categorized "Reader's feedback"

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

A Condolence Call to Rabbi Arush

Dear Rabbi Lazer,

I wanted to leave a comment on your website along with all the other condolence comments, but it felt so impersonal. As a grandmother myself, I can't bear the thought of (a million times Heaven-forbid!!!) losing a grandchild. I know that Rav Arush's emuna is great and he surely accepts Hashem's judgments with love and without a doubt, but I'm sure he has pain too - tremendous pain. I couldn't live through a test like this. How can I do something really meaningful, to convey my condolences and ease some of Rav Arush's pain? I owe so much to the Rav for his books and CDs, which have added so much light to my life. I want to do something for Rav Arush in return. What do you suggest? Sincerely, Betty Sorren, NJ.

Dear Betty,

Thank you so much for your kind letter. Nothing makes Rav Arush happier than when another human being in the world calls out the Creator's Name. In that sense, nothing in the world is more important to the Rav than spreading emuna. I suggest that you pick up 100 emuna CDs which are subsidized and distribute them in memory of Feigie Channa bat Shimon Machlouf, Rav Arush's granddaughter of blessed memory. If you are unable for some reason to distribute them on your own, you can donate the cash equivalent to Emuna Outreach (see top left-hand toolbar on this site) and we will distribute them for you in the IDF, Israeli prisons or Israeli hospitals. Rav Arush will surely be comforted to see this letter. All the very best, LB

Joy, not Zealotry

Dear Rabbi Lazer,

Six months ago I wrote you about my husband's spiritual slide, that he shaved his beard and stopped putting on tefillin in the morning. We exchanged a few emails and you told me that I was being too zealous and too "frum", always nitpicking at small details rather than stressing joy and emuna. I must be honest that you really upset me, and my heart (really my Yetzer Hara, but I didn't know it at the time) told me that you're just some NaNach-BT-Breslever parading as a rabbi and spiritual guide. But, when my husband opened up divorce proceeding in the Beis Din, I got a wake-up call from above that I had better listen to you. Other rabbis here were telling me to get a divorce. They said that my husband would ruin our three boys spiritually, and that I'd be better off on my own. You said the opposite. Despite the way I insulted you, you answered with patience that I should stop criticizing him and stop yelling, and that I should pray for him at least an hour a day. I did, while doing my best to control my temper and to be attractive at home. Better to be a meshiggina Breslever than an arrogant single parent. (I can't believe how arrogant I was in thinking all the negative about you - please forgive me).

The patience paid off. After Succos, my husband cancelled the divorce file. This has been the best Chanuka ever. Like it says in "Women's Wisdom," I give him nothing but positivity. It has paid off big time. He is doing all sorts of things to earn more love and respect, which he is thriving on. Not only is he back to davening with a minyan, but he now has a Gemara chavrusa between mincha and maariv every day. He is spending much more time with our boys too.

I don't know how many families Rabbi Arush and you have saved, but ours is one of them. I just want all your readers to know that Yiddishkeit with joy - and not zealotry - is the way to go. Forever gateful, Miriam from Queens

Dear Miriam,

I don't remember that you insulted me but of course I forgive you anyway. Thanks so very much for your letter. Happy Chanuka and blessings for another simcha in the family this year, LB  

Susan's Story

Dear Rabbi Brody,

I'm sure you probably get emails like this all the time, but I'm writing you anyway. I'm almost finished my second year in college. After a terrific first year, this year was a disaster. I fell into a terrible relationship and became the victim of lies and maneuvering. My grades suffered and so did my self-image. I felt the worst depression ever and just felt no point to living anymore. My girlfriend saw me crying, and she was upset because of that. She grabbed me by the hand and took me to the Hillel House on campus. She said, "Come and meet some nice people." I always thought that the Hillel House crowd were nerdy, but I was wrong. The rabbi there was really nice and he gave me a CD, called Hashem Loves Me. I told him I didn't want it, but he said "Take it, it's free. There's an organization in Israel called Emuna Outreach that sends them to us every now and then." Rabbi, I'm not religious at all, but I do feel spiritual. This CD spoke right to my heart. I never heard such soothing and encouraging words before. You should know that it saved my life. It gave me the will to keep going. I'm finished most of my finals, and I managed to lift up my grades again and salvage this year. All thanks to Emuna Outreach and your CD. You have no idea what you're doing. I'm one person, but I'll bet there are many more like me. Thank you for giving me my life back. With deep gratitude, Susan from an Atlantic Coast university

The Gemara says that he who saves one life saves an entire world. Emuna saves lives. Your tax-deductable donation to Emuna Outreach (see "Donate" button on the top left-hand toolbar of this site) makes you a full partner in saving lives around the globe. We can't reach people like Susan, people on other campuses, soldiers on the front lines and prison inmates, in addition to tens of thousands of other people who benefit from our media and online lessons, without your generous support. Thanks so much and G-d bless always.

The Land of Emuna

Here is a letter with an amazing lesson of Hashem's constant and complete intervention in the tiniest details of our daily lives. Yes, emuna is for real:

Dear Rabbi Lazer, I  just watched your "Hashem's Pharmacy" video and  was astounded at the end with Rabbi Nachman of Breslev's concept that the more Emuna, the more fruits and vegetables.

My husband and I made aliyah 29 years ago and he went into the IDF during the Gulf War. Money was limited, and I didn't have much food in the house. He came home on leave one evening and we went for a walk. I was thinking about salad but not concerned believing that the next day everything would work out and I'd get my fruits and veggies. As we were walking along the road, I saw something up ahead, it was already dark but there was a full moon. Something on the sidewalk ahead looked like small round objects. As we approached, I became more sure that what I was seeing was fruit or tomatoes or something like that. Sure enough, we arrived at the spot and that is exactly what I found. A couple of tomatoes, some small cucumbers, two peppers and even an onion! These veggies were in perfect shape, no bruises and not even a speck of dirt. I could have eaten them right there. It was a  still night and I looked around for a plastic bag to see if they had been dropped and there was none to be seen anywhere around.

It was very unusual for me to have a bag in my purse but I looked and I just happened to have one that night!  I gathered the produce and we went home. My husband was a little freaked that I would eat food I found on a public sidewalk by the road but I KNEW it was from HaShem.  It was the best Israeli Salad I have ever eaten and I never lacked for veggies after that. Yours always, MS

Lacking something in life? With prayer and emuna, you won't lack a thing. If you haven't seen "Hashem's Pharmacy", enjoy it below:

Don't Wait Another 10 Years

Debbie finally arrived in Israel last month, after ten years of longing. She has been corresponding with me for a little over a year, and the first thing she did was to show up at my Wednesday evening weekly Emuna talk and broadcast in English from the Chut Shel Chesed Yeshiva in Jerusalem. G-d willing, she'll be working in the mornings as an English teacher and spending her afternoons at a women's seminar for Baalot Teshuva.

Debbie wrote a message that we wants me to convey to all of you; it's really profound:

Rabbi Lazer, please tell your readers how I wanted to make Aliya ten years ago when I was 21. I also wanted to learn more about Judaism. I let my mother talk me out of both. During the last ten years, I wish I could say I've been treading water, but it's worse. I floated from job to job, had a miserable relationship with a person outside of our religion who I lived with for four years, and have sacrificed my own aspirations to keep mom happy. I was miserable and lost my self-esteem. You gave me the courage to pack up and do what I really want. Pass the message on to others - don't waste a decade of your own lives to keep others happy. Come to Israel today, and claim your Jewish birthright. Live your own lives. 31 is better late than never...

No, Debbie, don't cry over spilt milk. With Hashem's help, your Emuna will strengthen and you'll meet a good guy very soon. Your message is an important one.

The ingathering of the exiles is just one more sign of the wonderful times that await us in the rebuilt Jerusalem of Eretz Yisroel, amen.

It Really Works

Dear Rabbi Brody,

In case you don't remember me with all your mail volume etc., I'm Peter from Kansas City who wrote you about my financial difficulties three months ago. You told me never to criticize my wife and to be sure I give a tithe to charity. To be honest, I thought your advice was off the wall. Then again, a little voice in my head said, "Hey, Peter - you're the one that asked his advice. He called it the way he saw it. Maybe you should listen?" Well I did, and not only has my marriage never been better but 2 weeks ago I landed a job with better hours, nicer people, great bennies on the side, and catch this - $12,000 more a year than I've been making. And guess what - I owe different people the sum of $12,000! Can you believe it?! Your advice and your CDs (I listened to "First Place" and "Respecting Your Wife") really work! The good Lord is great and thank you Rabbi for bringing us all closer to him whether we're Jews or not. May you have continued strength in your holy work, an appreciative Peter from KC