30 posts categorized "Thought for the Day"

Paradise

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Okay, the strangest thing just happened. I had a completely different idea for this post, but that can wait until I tell you what happened. First of all, shavua tov! I hope you all enjoyed a leisurely Shabbat, whatever that means. Now I'll get to my crazy story.

I didn't have any clue as to what I should post, so I decided to look through the pics on my phone to see if anything interesting came up. All in all, I was sitting at my computer for about an hour, going through emails and whatever. So I'm scrolling through my pics and this one of a T-shirt popped up. I took it a couple of weeks ago when I managed to get out of Bet Shemesh and reach civilization, i.e., a big city. I was at the Azrieli mall in Tel Aviv and saw this shirt hanging there, which I found so funny because I'm from Miami Beach, and aside from the fact that it really does look like Paradise, it also looks a lot like Tel Aviv these days, so I don't understand what all the hype is about. Actually, Tel Aviv and Miami are too similar in too many ways, if you get my drift.

Anyhow, as I'm downloading this picture onto my computer, I'm trying to tune out David's guitar playing that's grating at my ears from the living room. He was also playing for the same amount of time that I was on my computer. Then, as this picture is uploading, I hear him suddenly start to sing some lyrics from a song back in the '80's, about Paradise. I couldn't believe my ears!

I called him over, wondering if he had seen my email of the picture to myself, because he also gets my emails on his phone. Talk about nosy! And then I remembered that I didn't put anything in the subject line, so there was no way for him to know what I was sending myself. So in the exact same minute, he's singing about Paradise as I'm downloading it onto my computer!

Is that not totally crazy?

It's funny when these things happen, isn't it? We may think that things like this are random, but they're not. Hashem is always working behind the scenes, pulling the invisible strings in our heads. When you're thinking of someone and they suddenly call you, it's not random. It's Hashem.

Now I totally forgot my original point. Give me a minute.... Oh, yeah. So Paradise is not a place. It's a state of mind. 

I know it's hard to believe for those of us that aren't multimillionaires, but you can have everything and be miserable. 

If you are truly happy with your life, then you are living in Paradise.

Why did I keep writing Paradise with a capital P? 

Blessings for a wonderful week!

~Racheli


Oops! I Did it Again

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Last night, as I was putting my kids to sleep, I was overcome with the urge to clean out my husband's shelf in our tiny closet. Now I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of the shelf before I cleaned it, because it was a total disaster. Plastic bags were piling up on top of each other, loose change was laying around, and all kinds of wires and G-d knows what were clogging up my shelf. Since my little boyfriend decided he was going to sleep in my bed last night, I did my best to persuade him otherwise by leaving the light on and cleaning the closet without attacking him with kisses. 

Finally, he decided to go sleep in his own bed, and I decided that half of the junk needed to go. So I threw it away. Fast forward a few hours. David came home and wanted to eat dinner. Since Thursdays have turned into my "fast food" night, (OMG!) I showed him the vegan kebabs that I had so expertly warmed up in the oven. He wanted to see the nutrition info on the bag, and I pointed to the garbage can. "How am I supposed to eat it if I don't know how many calories are in it?" he asked. "Why are you so concerned, Mr. Universe?" I told him. "It's not like you're gonna see a difference one way or another!" Ouch. Why do I write this stuff?

So we argued about it for a while, and finally he decided he was going to go through the garbage and look for the bag. I couldn't believe it. As he was making his way down the pile, he noticed a bag of stuff that looked familiar and pulled it out. 

Uh, oh. 

He took it to the counter and opened it up. I tried to ignore what he was doing, but soon enough he called me over. "What is this?! Why do you keep throwing my stuff away???!" He was sooooo mad as he pulled out his brand new eyeglass case and held it up in front of me. "What?" I asked, all innocent-looking. "I never saw that eyeglass case before!" "That's because I just bought it!" Like, oops. "Well, that's what you get for being such a slob!" I snapped at him. And then we enjoyed a nice romantic glass of red wine together.

I thought I would write about this because Pesach is less than a month away, and that means that suddenly everyone goes into hyper-cleaning mode. Since I'm always in hyper-cleaning mode, I felt that I should kick it up a notch and go into hyper-throwing-out mode - you know, in honor of Pesach. 

So what's my point? I've realized that cleaning for Pesach is similar to personal prayer. If you do it all year long, you don't get unexpected surprises popping up in your life , or in your garbage. Wait. That doesn't even make any sense. Isn't every surprise unexpected? I mean, if it was expected, how could it be a surprise? 

Gosh, I'm so profound.

Personal prayer, especially a daily self-assessment, is like Pesach cleaning all year long. There is no way you can remember what you did wrong or right like, nine months after you did it. I can't even remember what I did five minutes ago. So how can you do teshuva for something that you don't remember doing? And if you didn't do teshuva for it, then by default you've created judgments for yourself. It's sad, but true.

Every day we have an opportunity to spend a few minutes in self-introspection, so we can clearly see what we need to work on. If we don't try to improve ourselves, our negative character traits could end up in the garbage, right next to my husband's eyeglass case. And wouldn't that be a shame?

On that note, have a happy, healthy, and restful Shabbat!

~Racheli


Haman's Curse

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A few nights ago I took my kids out for some last-minute Purim/Shabbat shopping, because I just can't learn my lesson. They wanted to "stop by" the toy store, you know, just to schmooze around. Sure. I told them like a thousand times that I wasn't going to buy them anything, but of course they suddenly developed amnesia when they walked into the store. 

As I did my best to hide from my older kids, my little boyfriend, Natan, who's turning three in a few days, walked around the store asking me if I could buy him everything on the shelves. The funny thing was that he asked it so nonchalantly, showing me that he really didn't care about the toys he was asking me to buy him. I found myself saying, "No" every two seconds, while casually checking out the prices on the toys.

Many things were on sale, and if I had wanted to, I could have bought a few of those toys. And that's when I realized something amazing: because the toys were so easy for me to buy, they didn't have any real value in my eyes. Of course, part of that was probably because I wouldn't be playing with those toys, although maybe I would if I actually had some time to play.

For a few minutes, I actually felt what it would be like to be super-wealthy. I gotta be honest - it didn't feel that exciting. All of us, no matter what level of wealth we have, get bored with our stuff. The super-rich can walk around any store and buy anything without necessarily feeling the pinch in their big inflated bank accounts, but they're missing something precious - the excitement that comes along with buying something you really want.

That's why being rich is a bottomless pit. Money makes a person insatiable; he can never have enough stuff. Not only that, he has to constantly get nicer and more expensive stuff, and eventually he gets bored of all of it. This, my friends, is a curse.

Haman suffered the same curse. He was so rich, if he had lived today he would easily be on Forbes' "Top 10 Wealthiest People" list. He might even beat Bill Gates. But, as he states in Megillat Esther, all his riches are worthless when he sees Mordechai sitting at the palace gates. It's true that Mordechai's stubborn unwillingness to bow down to him enraged him. But why exactly was it so important for Haman that Mordechai should bow to him? Why wasn't it enough that the rest of the world bowed to him when he passed by?

Here's what I think. Haman wanted from Mordechai the one thing he couldn't have. Since he couldn't have it, Haman instinctively knew that this was the one thing left in the world that was exciting for him. What else was left? He had money, power, women, a palatial mansion, children. He had everything.

In reality, Haman's curse should be called "The Curse of Everything." Because once you have everything, there's nothing left to look forward to. More of the same just doesn't do it.

Those of you that dream of living the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, do yourselves a favor and dream yourselves out of it. There's a big blessing in not being able to have the dream life that you want. Believe me, Hashem is doing you a massive favor. Just think about how many uber-wealthy people are terribly depressed, suffer from marital problems, and/or have kids that are totally messed up. That's not a happy life. 

Wishing you all a wonderful, meaningful, and SAFE Purim!!

Oh, yeah, so you're probably wondering why I put a picture of sheep at the top of this post. Well, the truth is that I really didn't have a picture ready for this post, so the idea came to me to use this picture and say that these sheep are actually people dressing up as sheep for Purim. And then, as I was uploading the picture, I suddenly remembered that we just read Parashat Zachor, in which King Saul was commanded to wipe out the nation of Amalek, and even their animals, because the sheep might really be people in disguise! I promise you I'm not lying! Isn't that just insane?? And, I took this picture about two weeks ago, because I never saw a bunch of sheep so close to my house. Totally freaky Divine Providence, yo! 

~Racheli


#NOTMYCOOKIES

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I'm torturing myself right now. Aside from Shabbat, which has turned into my cheat day, I've been very good about staying away from such healthy treats like these chocolate chip cookies. First of all, I'd just like to inform you, our educated readers, that there are actually many people here in Israel that really believe canola oil is healthy. It's true! I mean, not that canola oil is healthy. I mean that people believe it's healthy. Well, you get it.

Listen, Schreiner's, just because you make an awesome cookie and I'm giving you a free plug, it doesn't give you the right to advertise your cookies as healthy when they're full of unhealthy ingredients, like canola oil, processed "whole" wheat, sugar, chocolate chips, um, excuse me, but what exactly is healthy in this cookie? So please stop with the false marketing and send me a few free boxes of your most unhealthiest cookies. And brownies. I love your brownies. I mean, I hate your brownies. Hate them! HAAAATEEEE!!!!

I'll tell you why I'm torturing myself. I just ate a cookie. I sound crazy, I know. Believe me, I know. But I wasn't even hungry. Actually, I was totally full. But you know, I work out, I eat right, and I am so bothered that it's so easy to undo everything I spent the last few days/weeks/months doing! 

You know what really drives me crazy? Just walking past these things in the kitchen. Actually, my kitchen is so small that there's no room to walk past them, so I bump into them every time I walk into the kitchen. I'm like, "Oops! Whoa, so sorry about that!... Wait a minute... you look familiar. Have we met somewhere?" I ask the box of cookies as I lean forward with a little flirtatious smile. In the meantime, I've managed to pull a fast one and slid my hand into the box to steal a cookie without the box realizing what I've done. It's because the box has fallen under the magical spell of my charm.

I gotta tell you that for the first time in my life, I'm salivating like Pavlov's dogs when I walk past any bakery. Could it be because I'm not eating it any more? Hmmmm. Will have to think about that possibility. Eureka! I just had a genius idea!

What if I start a one-woman protest called #notmycookies? I could pretend that, even though I bought the cookies and they are literally mine because I own them, I could create this fantasy in which I believe that these cookies really belong to someone else, and one day they're going to come and get them, so I can't in good conscience eat them, because that would be stealing. 

That's right, folks. I don't accept these cookies as my cookies, because I don't agree with the ingredients they're made from. I stand for health, fitness, and looking good, and these cookies stand for sugar (yum,) chocolate (yum yum,) and all those toxic ingredients. And dogs. Why in the world did I just write that? How can cookies stand for dogs? What's wrong with me? BTW, is it true? Can dogs really not eat chocolate? I had two dogs, but I loved them too much to test that theory out.

Since I have a feeling that my protest will not go viral on social media, I have another suggestion as to how we (especially ME) can avoid this constant torture of the chocolate chip cookie and all forbidden foods:

DON'T LET THEM INTO YOUR HOUSEEEE!!!!!! 

When you go to the market, DON'T go down the aisles with all of the processed garbage foods! STAY AWAY from aisles #4,5, and 6! And 7,8,9, and 10! If you find yourself in a war with your hand that refuses to let go of the box of Entenmann's chocolate-covered donuts (my absolute favorite,) smack your hand with your other hand and keep walking!

Have you figured out this week's secret to losing weight? That's right! If you don't see it, you don't want it! Don't you find that to be so true? How many times do you not want a can of Coke until you see the big red Coke truck driving by? Doesn't your mouth start to salivate? Are we all just dogs? Or is it just me?

This week, when you do your shopping, steer clear of the middle of the store. Not only will you find yourself eating less junk throughout the week, but you'll save a whole 'lot of money! I know those snacks and drinks ain't cheap!

Keep in touch with me and let me know how your week is going. Also, I'm starting a new thing. I'm inviting you to send me your recipes with a picture, and each week I'll pick one recipe and post it on Thursday so people can have time to get the ingredients and make it for Shabbat.

Email me your recipes at racheli@breslev.co.il. 

In the meantime, I'm going to help myself to another cookie (or three.) Seriously, how much longer can I drive myself crazy by looking at that box? At least I don't have to prolong my suffering, right?

~Racheli


My Medicine Cabinet

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Okay, so it's not really "medicine" and I don't keep it all in a cabinet. I wanted to share these little helping healers because I don't believe in suffering unnecessarily. Hashem gave us plenty of tools to help us not only alleviate our suffering, but to speed up the healing process. There's no reason we need to be martyrs. Unless, of course, you enjoy suffering because you're a masochist. 

Obviously I'm not referring to western medicines, which don't do much to speed up the healing process, unless that healing process includes breaking down the body's defenses... in the process. Think antibiotics.

I'm going to have to rant a bit, so bear with me. Yes, antibiotics are a wonderful discovery. They can absolutely be lifesaving. But where is the logic of putting an atom bomb in the body to kill off all of the good bacteria, which is plays such a primary role in eating up and fighting off the bad bacteria? So they all get killed together, and there are few survivors left.

Do you know what happens then? The body's landscape becomes like an abandoned Beverly Hills mansion. It's almost completely defenseless against illegal immigrant invaders and squatters that want to loot and claim it as their territory. As a result, the body becomes more susceptible to illness, and the vicious cycle continues. So why are antibiotics so over-prescribed these days? Why aren't doctors helping people strengthen their immune systems, so their bodies can fight off the infection or virus themselves? Why not give the body a chance to do one of the trillions of amazing functions that Hashem created it to do? 

Well, I know the reason, but I'm not telling you yet, just because I want you to really think about it. When you come up with a good reason, send me a comment and we'll talk about it further. 

The first thing we need to do is create a strong foundation that will support good health. I've been talking a lot about this lately, and the bottom line is: a healthy diet and exercise = a healthy body. A healthy diet means mostly vegetables and fruits, complex carbs, healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil, and minimal animal protein and processed foods. 

Since we can't avoid ever getting sick again, it's a good idea to have a few important items in your home for when you need them. I'm going to give you a quick rundown, and I encourage you to find out more about each of these things on your own. 

1) Bentonite Clay- made from aged volcanic ash, this clay is a powerful detoxifier. Mine is a gray powder, and I mix about half a teaspoon in with a cup of water. When wet, the clay swells up like a porous sponge and becomes negatively charged. Most toxins and heavy metals have positively charged molecules. The clay sweeps through the digestive system and soaks up all of the garbage like a giant industrial-sized wet-vac. I use it when I feel nauseous, and it's perfect to help you get rid of food poisoning. You'll start to feel better within minutes! Here's a great list of how it works and other ways you can use it. Also, it's excellent at stopping diarrhea, but not necessarily from stomach viruses. That's our next little guy in line.

2) Kyolic Garlic Extract- This is an aged garlic extract that has undergone some kind of process that I don't understand which removes the irritating and strong-smelling nature of garlic. It also supercharges the garlic's healing properties. It is well-known to suppress an enzyme in the liver that creates cholesterol, therefore helping to lower LDL cholesterol. Aside from being an excellent supplement for cardiovascular health, it's also great for helping to cure gastroenteritis, or stomach viruses. You take a tablespoon in some water about three times a day. I've taken it, and I can tell you that the flavor is very mild. Definitely read up more on this one! 

3) Arnica - This is an absolute must for anyone with kids in the house, or anyone who's klutzy, or both. It's excellent for relieving bruising, especially if you put it on immediately after your kid bangs his knee into the table for the 30th time. I've read that it's also good for pain relief for muscles and joints, but since I haven't used it for that, I can't say for sure that it works. However, if you have used it for pain relief, please let the rest of us know!

4) Vitamin D3- This is arguably the most powerful immune-boosting vitamin. It's especially important in the winter, when we're not exposed to direct sunlight. Unless you live in Miami like I used to. In that case, you're exposed to direct sunlight 359 days of the year. For the rest of us that turn into ghosts from October through March, vitamin D3 is super crucial to have. It's not only good for your bones and your immune system. It's also been touted as one of the top anti-cancer vitamins. Two things: first, you need to take it with a fat, as Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Second, you can take lots more than the RDA, which is only 400 IU's. I've seen many say that it's just too low, and you can take even 10 times that amount without experiencing any toxicity. If you're afraid to do that, stick with at least 1,000 IU's a day. You can give it to your kids, especially the little ones that get their daily infestation fix from preschool.

5) Oregano Supreme- Over the years, I've tried every type of herbal and homeopathic formula to help me get over a cold faster. But nothing works as well for me as this brand. I take three pills, twice a day when I start to experience symptoms, and within two days, my symptoms are not only lessened, but mostly gone! However, I would suggest you continue to take them for another two days minimum after your symptoms disappear. Just last week I felt myself getting a potentially bad cold, and I took these little babies, and within hours, I started to feel better. When my symptoms started to get worse again, I took another round. 

6) Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey Whiskey- Okay, so it's not really a medicine per se, but why not put it on this list? Doesn't whiskey have some antibacterial properties or something? And for sure it has pain-relieving properties. So I'm leaving it on this list. Not to mention that the honey flavor tastes awesome! I put half a shot in my hot apple cider, and oh, boy, talk about goooood!  

If you have anything you'd like to add, please share it with the rest of us. Inquiring minds want to know! 

Have a wonderful, virus-free day!

~Racheli


Chutzpah Cat

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That's a gorgeous cat, isn't it? I took this picture from the inside of my car. Aside from being quite the looker, this cat has another charismatic quality - it's got chutzpah. Nerve. Audacity. Gall. Brazenness. Extreme self-confidence. 

You see, I caught this cat sunbathing on the hood of my car as I returned from a store I was shopping at. I hissed at it as I walked toward my car door, assuming it would jump off and walk away. But, no. It just looked at me. I couldn't believe it. "Are you challenging me, kitty?" I asked it. It responded with an amused smirk and turned over to work on tanning its other side. I couldn't believe my eyes. "Get outta here, ya chutzpah cat!" I yelled at it. A few people turned to stare. 

Can you imagine? The cat didn't move! I actually opened the door and got into my car, and it still just sat there! Since this was such a gorgeous cat I figured I would take some pictures of it. As you can clearly see, it knew how gorgeous it was, because it was obviously posing for the paparazzi. I guess the ego went to its head, which is why it was so impudent. 

When I turned on the engine, it finally jumped - on to my roof! This cat had zero fear. 

Since everything is a message from Hashem, I thought I would try to figure out the message in this strange event. And sure enough, I came up with something. Of course, it might have nothing to do with the actual message Hashem was trying to send me, but it sounds nice, so I'm sticking with it. 

This cat reminded me of a phrase that I've heard Rav Brody use many times: When you fear One, you fear no one. 

When we really internalize the fact that Hashem is running the world, this gives us Holy Chutzpah to do the right thing, even when others are ridiculing us or directly opposing us. Doing the right thing doesn't make you popular, and we all know that. But if we can remember that Hashem's approval is the only one that counts, this will give us the courage and chutpzah to do what's right without feeling embarrassed or ashamed. 

So thanks, kitty! Hopefully your chutzpah will inspire people across the world. I think this is a royal cat. Doesn't that marking on its forehead look like a crown of sorts? Or is my imagination on overdrive as usual?

Have a wonderful week!

~Racheli


A Lesson from Amona

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Today was a very sad day in Israel. In the tiny Shomron (Samaria) village of Amona, 40 families were forcibly expelled from their homes. Back in 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court voted to not only expel these families because the land on which they built their homes - with government grants, no less - was later claimed to have been built on private Arab land. 

The worst part? Actually, there are two. First: the Supreme Court refused to provide the families with alternative housing. It's not bad enough that they're demolishing their homes, but they're leaving them homeless, too. Second: it was a Jewish "human rights" group, Yesh Din (there is judgment,) that instigated this fiasco, claiming that the homes were built on private Arab land. It's one thing if an Arab "human rights" group wants to bring up such a claim. But a Jewish group fighting for the rights of people who hate us? 

Why aren't they fighting for the human rights of these 40 families who now have nowhere to live? What about the children's rights to grow up without suffering the trauma of losing their home and being made homeless in the freezing winter? Yesh Din, where are their human rights? 

After seething at this injustice the entire day, I realized something.

Since I have to believe that Hashem is doing everything for the best, I trust that this indeed is for the best. Okay. That's nice and vague an all, but why do I need to stand by and watch these people suffer? And then I thought, why do we need to go through any suffering at all? When things are so painful, why can't Hashem just speed things up a bit and/or make them go away altogether?

But then I realized that Hashem is trying to teach us an extremely important lesson: 

We have to be patient with the bad things, just as we are patient with the good things. 

You see, Hashem can't run this universe on a double standard. He can't separate cause and effect only when the effect is negative. He can't take away our free will only if we're going to make decisions that will hurt us later. He can't speed up the process only when it's painful for us. 

When good things happen, like when we're on vacation, we wish it could last forever. Be honest - we'd have no problem living on a cruise ship for the rest of our lives. At least, I wouldn't. But when something bad happens, we want it to go away as fast as possible. Sure, it's human nature, but I believe Hashem made us like this to teach us to have equal-opportunity patience, as opposed to selective patience. 

Now I understand what it means when Hashem is referred to as "long-suffering." He suffers along with us in our tough situations, but for our own spiritual growth and soul correction, He can't take these painful times away from us, because in the end, we will see how they really were for our ultimate good. 

So we need to learn from this example and be "long-suffering" as well. As much as we would like to not have to go through difficult times, we need to do our best to accept that this is what Hashem wants, and to try to emulate His patience to the best of our ability. 

As for this leftist group, Yesh Din, I have one thing to say to them: "יש דין ויש דיין." There is judgement, and there is a Judge. And one day, He's gonna give y'all a Heavenly smackdown that's gonna send you straight to Planet X, where you belong. 

~Racheli

Rabbi Lazer adds:

Well said, Racheli. The Gemara says that Hashem lets evil people do evil things, but ultimately, they will pay the price. Our Arab neighbors say kol calb bijh yomo - every dog will have its day. That is a message to anyone who has a hand a uprooting a Jew from his home in the Land of Israel.

There's another lesson here. Folks in Israel rejoiced when the so-called "right" was elected. But with all the politicians and their talk, the bottom line is a program than any extreme-left government would be proud of. What does that mean?

Hashem is shouting at us: Menachem Begin the far-rightist gave Sinai to the Egyptians. Ariel Sharon the far-rightist gave Gush Katif and a chunk of Northern Samaria to the PA. Now Bibi and Bennett (Yes, Bennett, a member of Bibi's government) are uprooting Jews from their home in Amona. Hashem is showing all of us a painful lesson that's recurrent all through Jewish history - we can trust no one but Him.

The only way we can strengthen our hold on all of our sacred homeland is to fulfill King David's advice as he states in the last passage of Psalm 105 - Hashem gave us this land for the sole purpose of observing the Torah ands its mitzvoth here. Hashem wants us to strengthen our dedication to Torah and especially Sabbath observance. Hashem wants an end to government-sanctioned policies and laws that negate Torah. There is no one or nothing but Hashem, and if we want to build our country on His holy land, we need His help.