143 posts categorized "Weekly Torah Portion"

Vayakhel-Pekudei. 5777: How to Get the Most out of Our Talents

This week's Torah portion not only teaches us the source of our talents and aptitudes, but gives us the key to putting them to the very best use. Here's how to succeed, as we learn in our mini-lesson on this week's Torah portion:

Here's an important message from my esteemed and beloved teacher, Rabbi Shalom Arush shlit'a:

As the Rosh Yeshiva of Chut Shel Chesed, I feel that chesed - loving-kindness - is one of the most important mitzvoth there is; I'm sure that you agree with me. That's why I included the word chesed in the name of our yeshiva, to emphasize that helping our fellow human is a highest priority. The Torah says, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." "Flour for Passover" means to help the less fortunate of our Jewish brethren have a joyous Passover holiday by enabling them to have the necessary staples. This is something we're all obligated to think about with Pesach less than three weeks away.
 
Rebbetzen Arush and I do our utmost to identify the needy families who are too embarrassed to request assistance, and to give them the needed foodstuffs and financial support. I am privileged and honored to offer you a share in this mitzva.
 
Your donation to our "Emuna Outreach Kimcha d'Piskha Fund" will provide needy families in Israel with all their needs for Passover, including meat and poultry, wine, matzot, dry goods, fruit and vegetables. Since we purchase quality fish, poultry, meat, fruit, vegetables, matza and wine at bulk wholesale prices, we provide all the Seder needs for a family of six for a mere $180. For $72, you can sponsor a guest for the Seder and Yom Tov day. In any event, participation in our "Emuna Outreach Kimcha d'Piskha Fund" with whatever you can afford is a tremendous mitzva that will invoke miraculous blessings for you and yours. Donate to Emuna Outreach to make sure that these worthy families of sorely limited means will also be able to enjoy their Passover holiday. Your donation is US tax deductable. Blessings for a wonderful Shabbat and new month of Nissan. With prayers for your success, Shalom Arush


Don Amalek Corleone

Corleone

I was a bit young, but I do remember watching one or two of "The Godfather" movies. I have to admit, I was enchanted by the slickness and smoothness of Vito and Michael Corleone. Even today, as I write this post, I envy their ability to get downright murderous without yelling and screaming. I wish I could do that. I mean, get angry without screaming. Not interested in getting all murderous, thank you very much. 

Obviously, Don Corleone was not Israeli, because everyone knows that Israelis can't possibly hide their true feelings, for better and for worse. I wonder how The Godfather would have played out with an Israeli cast. Vito would be the rash, brutish grandpa that barks out killing orders as he's spitting out sunflower seeds onto the floor. Michael would be the hyper, irrational, but oh-so-charming heir to the Corleonestine dynasty, but without any self-control. When he confronts his brother, Fredo (Fishel in Hebrew,) instead of quitely but forcefully telling Fredo how he broke his heart while grabbing onto both sides of his face, the Jewish version of Michael would start screaming hysterically at the top of his lungs, accusing Fishel of trying to have his own brother killed, as he squeezes with all of his might on both sides of Fishel's face. The scene ends with Fishel's face being squished beyond recognition as his brains come flying out of the top of his head.

Can I ask you something? Do I need therapy? Or is my imagination just extremely active?  

This whole Godfather thing didn't come from my genius brains, though. Hard to believe, I know. Actually, our very own Rav Lazer Brody came up with this amazingly brilliant comparison of Don Corleone to Amalek. Just like Don Corleone and Michael Jackson, Amalek is a smooth criminal. He ain't comin' at you with a whole big drama scene. Uh, uh. He's sneaking up close behind you, pretending to be your best friend and someone who cares about you, and then when your guard is down - BOOM! The kiss of death. You've gotta read Rav Puzo's, I mean Rav Brody's, Hollywood best-seller, The Assassin. 

As if right on cue, Rav Arush has the sequel to The Assassin ready, and you're about to read it here for the first time! After it seems that Michael Corleonestine and his crew are at the brink of falling down into the gehinnom-like abyss because of all of the terrible things they've done, this obscure group of superheros called The Soul-Savers suddenly shows up at the Corleonestine's Lake Tahoe home. They give Michael a copy of The Garden of Emuna, and tell him that Rebbe Nachman says there's no reason for despair in the world! Michael reads the book and decides to make teshuva and does his best to clean up the gigantic mess he's made of his life and the lives of all those he's hurt. Granted, many of those people probably deserved to be killed, because they were no angels themselves, right? But who are we to judge? Let's leave that in Hashem's hands.

In fact, yours truly already has her very own screenplay ready to go! It's a horror movie called The Dreaded Dentist, and it goes like this: a tired, overwhelmed mom of five boys takes her kids to the dentist, and it turns out her 5-year-old has a cavity. Talk about screaming bloody murder! Well, this mom could already imagine the trauma that was to come; the screechy drill. The kid's screams of terror. The nitrous oxide that doesn't really do anything. The bright lights and mask-wearing aliens holding pointy instruments and mini-vacuum cleaners in the kid's mouth. Oh, what fun. But, she remembered about a little thing called personal prayer. So how did horror movie turn out? You'll just have to read the screenplay!

You know, I think that a lot of the murders caused by the Corleonestine families and the other four feuding mafia families could have been avoided if Dr. Zev Ballen would have been their terapista (therapist in Italian.) He could have made them realize that their need for honor, money, and blood was what caused them to be ruthless, greedy killers. In fact, the title, Love or Honor, is a perfect one to complete Breslev Israel's version of The Godfather trilogy! We'll call it "The Sandak," because we actually do have real-life godfathers in Judaism. The Sandak is the one that holds the baby boy in his lap during the circumcision. You know, I'm starting to see a major connection between Jews and Italian mobsters. Seriously, Speilberg, Coppolla, somebody call me! 

I just decided that Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen should have another title  aside from Emuna Therapist. She should be referred to as The Godmother, because she knows exactly what people need in order to feel good about themselves. This week, she deciphers The Language of Love, and explains that in order to create a real closeness with others, we need to know how to speak nicely to them. Husbands, that means you need to know how to compliment your wives. That's especially true for you, David. Are you reading this? The Godmother is happy to help make all of your problems go away! If you want to set up a meeting, contact staff@breslev.co.il. 

If someone were to do a remake of The Godfather today, I have no doubt that President Trump would make an excellent Godfather. Dovber HaLevi makes an amazing connection between Trump and the ancient Pharaoh, who likened himself to a deity. Pharaoh was the Egyptian version of the Godfather, you know. Dovber points out that just as in ancient Egypt, the world and the media are turning Trump into a deity by spotlighting every single move he makes and everything he says. I've got it! In Dovber's screenplay, Donald Trump would be called Don Trump Corleonestine and the title of the movie would be "The God." Talk about genius!! Okay, so maybe we'll stick with Dovber's original title, Hashem's Trump Card. I'll try not to cry as I finish off my glass of fine Italian red wine. 

David once told me he had a basket of riches for me, and I thought he meant lots of diamond jewelry. Well, I was wrong. What a shocker. Instead, he presented me with a basket of dirty laundry, which I did not find very amusing. I would have preferred Dennis Rosen's Basket of Riches, because at least his riches are valuable. In fact, they're more than just valuable - they're priceless! Don't let these riches pass you by!

Lori Steiner has ruined my day by reminding me that Passover is around the corner. I'm just kidding, Lori! I love Passover, especially the cleaning- because I can get rid of lots of stuff under the excuse that I'm "cleaning for Pesach." Gosh, I hope David doesn't read this! Lori gives us some great tips to get our cleaning in high gear without freaking out and squeezing our murderous, back-stabbing brothers' heads until their brains come flying out. Check out Lori's latest in Defining a Kosher Passover.  

Yes. A terapista is in high order. And so is sleep. Have a wonderful week! (And try to keep your brains in your heads, okay?)

~Racheli

 


R U Scared of Sin?

IMG-20170312-WA0049

I'm in a fog. It seems I may have drank a bit too much last night. I don't think I did, but that could be because I lost count after my third glass of wine. What got into me? I'm not a big drinker. I don't like not being able to walk in a straight line. But, boy did I enjoy laughing! I'm one of those people that can't stop laughing when they get a little tipsy. And I'm not talking about a quiet laugh. Oh, no. I'm talking like loud, over-the-top, obnoxious, snorty laughs. 

I've gotta work on my tznius. Really. Shame on me. How un-ladylike.

Lucky for me, Purim only comes once a year, so that means I'm only a bit looney once a year. Okay, that's not really true. I'm looney all year long, but on Purim I can blame the wine. The rest of the year I just blame my husband. In case you haven't noticed, it's one of my favorite hobbies. 

Oh, and I have to thank my soul sista, Sunny Levi, for this gross picture of her grizzity gross gluten free, organic "hamantashen." Sunny, I love you, but these things look awful! Can you send me some?? Even though they look horrible, I'm sure they're absolutely dee-licious, because I know what a fantastic cook you are. I'm just wondering if you're ever going to speak with me again after you read this post.

So how many of you party animals got smashed yesterday? Are you wallowing in regret today? Jewish guilt? Fear of punishment? Can you even remember what happened yesterday? 

Thank G-d, I know about the power of teshuva, so I did some of that yesterday as I was sobering up. I promised not to make myself look like an idiot in front of my kids if we're around other people. Because I certainly seem to have no problem looking like a crazy person at home, when there's no one else around! Am I starting to make myself look bad? Should I take a public opinion poll? NEVER! 

What happens when we sin and don't make teshuva for it? Well, Rav Arush explains that we're actually creating our own judgments because of our lack of teshuva. Our judgments take the form of all kinds of bad stuff that happens to us, and thus we become afraid of these things, such as getting sick or getting pulled over by the cops. These types of things happen just to awaken us to do teshuva, not to torment us. As Rav Arush says, when you Fear One, Fear No One. If we have the right, healthy types of fears, no other threat will affect us, because we know it's coming from Hashem for a certain reason. 

Hey, I just found out that Dracula was related to Haman! No joke! They were both wicked, blood-thirsty killers. I'm pretty sure that Haman had fangs, too. He was certainly evil enough. And here's another similarity: they both had countless children. It's true! I've heard that Haman had hundreds of kids. And according to Rav Brody, Dracula also has not hundreds, but millions of kids. He says that anger turns a person into a demon, and this demon can double for one of Dracula's Kids.  Come to think of it, I also looked like Dracula's daughter when I took off my eye makeup. I was a scary sight! 

Even though my article this week talks about an interesting situation I encountered at the grocery store, I would just like to say that I do not spend my entire week at the grocery store. It's possible that it's more than half, but I'm afraid to actually think about it too much. Crowded grocery stores aside, Hashem sends us Hidden Opportunities to do great things, but the problem is that they're hidden. That was redundant, wasn't it? Could I still be a little drunk? Don't answer that. 

Thank G-d Lori Steiner is thinking clearly, because she's got loads of insights to share about Purim and the month of Adar. They're all to insightful for me to appreciate at this moment, but I want you to check out her Radar in Adar and then tell me how profound it is! Why does David keep closing the bathroom door? Doesn't he know I'm desperately trying to think?

I just took at look at the clever title of this next article, and I instantly knew that it was written by our uber-talented Emuna Therapist, Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen. This week, she shares how she helped women in her Connective Writing course gain invaluable perspective on the most difficult parts of their childhood. She helped them discover, through Writing the Wrong, that the painful situations they experienced were exactly what they needed in order to flourish later in life. You don't want to miss this one!

I'm telling you, our writers are all so insightful, I wonder what on Earth I'm doing in such awesome company. This week, Dovber HaLevi clearly shows us how the working world functions according to how Hashem wants things to happen, and not according to our physical efforts. You can see it all around you and likely in your own life - how hard you work has little to do with the success of your efforts. Why is that? Dovber explains it all in Opportunity Knocks

Wow, this is amazing. Dr. Zev Ballen, our other wonderful Emuna Therapist, talks about a similar theme to Rebbetzin Channen's in his latest article! He reflects on his own painful situations in his childhood, and shows on a very personal level how they have all worked to build him up into who he is today. He calls it Productive Pain, and I call it "Read this article right now!" 

I just had a good laugh while reading David Perlow's latest article. As he's describing what a mikvah is and how it can be used to spiritually purify us, I remembered my David on our honeymoon in Israel. It was January, freezing cold, and he decides he's going to leave me in the taxi as he hops from mikvah to mikvah, spiritually purifying his holy self. One mikvah happened to be absolutely freezing, and only after he dunked did he realize his kippah was still on his head, so he had to dunk again. The water was basically frozen, and so was his kippah. Serves him right for leaving me in the car on our honeymoon so he can enjoy Taking the Plunge. You know, I would enjoy taking the plunge in a nice Jaccuzzi. Is that too much to ask? Is it? Really?

Rav Brody shares with us an encouraging Purim insight in his article, Above the Sun. He explains that if we go by the rules of nature, then our future looks bleak. What an understatement. But, if we go above the rules of nature, then the possibilities are endless! And how do we go above the sun? Read the article!

Wishing you a happy Shushan Purim, or an enjoyable day off if you're not in a walled city!

~Racheli


Wife, or Wolf?

OMG am I going to get in trouble for that title. But let me explain! First, I just have to say that I'm so excited that Purim is coming up! I don't have a costume yet, but I'm hoping tomorrow I'll be able to find something. Here is my oldest son's idea of a Purim costume.

IMG_20170205_182148574

What do you think? Do you like it? Does it bring out his eyes? And what's with the fingers? Is he learning sign language? What does this mean??

Well of course I refused to buy it, because I don't think that going as a thief/terrorist/criminal is exactly appropriate for Purim. Speaking of inappropriate, the toy store also had tons of rap-style chains, hats, and shirts that look like fake tatoos. I tried like six hats on, then found myself debating which type of chain would be most flattering for me, and I ended up picking the big fat gold dollar sign with lots of fake diamonds on it. I'm so spiritual, yo.

But seriously, I'll tell you what's not flattering. It's when I put on my daily Purim costume of big bad wolf. Did you ever see that show, "When Animals Attack"? David tells me they had me in mind when they came up with that show. Isn't he just the sweetest?? Luckily for me, I'm not the only woman on a rampage when I get mad. 

I'm sorry to do this, but in all fairness, I must let you ladies know that we are, to a very large degree, responsible for the peace in the home. We're also greatly responsible for the sustenance and abundance that our families enjoy (or not.) But before you skip to another site, chillax! He's also got a few insights on the men out there that makes them just as responsible for building up or messing up your families. Ladies, doesn't that make you feel so much better? But hold up! This doesn't mean that all you couples can go and start a blaming war. Instead, you've got to read Rav Brody's Tale of Two Wolves.  It'll save you lots of fights. Trust me.

I'll let you in on a little secret that's not so secret. You know all those marital fights you're having? Rav Shalom Arush boils it down to one cause: ingratitude. Nothing is worse than an ingrate, both to your spouse and to Hashem. Rav Arush tells us that there were actually two very different (what an understatement) people who you would never see a connection between, yet he says they both suffered from ingratitude, and this ultimately led to their downfall. Who were these people? And what is the connection to Purim? Well, you know, you've got to read Downfall of the Ingrate to find out!

If you've been following my health posts, you know that I've been saying some pretty controversial stuff. Well, the controversy continues with my latest, Beat Brest Cancer! You're about to find the real reasons so many women are suffering from this terrible disease, lo aleinu. And even better, you're about to find out what you can to to prevent and heal! Please share this with others! 

It's unbelievable, but every time I read our Emuna Therapist, Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen's articles, I get chills when I finish. I'm sure I'm not the only one! This week, she tells the story of how her father came back to Judaism years after suffering the trauma of watching his father drop dead in the middle of prayers at the Synagogue. Talk about insane! You don't want to miss My Father's Faith! And please tell me if you also got chills at the end, okay? 

Oh, my goodness. Sara Bercovics' article had me on the edge of my seat and literally holding my breath. She writes about the tremendous miracle Hashem did for her when her husband suddenly became deathly ill. Why did she decide to put on A Scarf for Life?  And I'm not talking about one of those winter scarves. That would be silly. 

Dr. Zev Ballen, our other amazing Emuna Therapist, gives us some great tips on how to use our Divine Search Engine. What does this mean? You know I'm not going to answer that, right? 

I think David Perlow must have seen this picture of my son, because he's asking him, "Where's Your Smile?" That was seriously so lame, but this article is anything but! He talks about one of the main reasons kids leave observant Judaism, and he gives us pointers on how to keep them on the path of Torah. This one's a must read for anyone with kids, who knows kids, who used to be a kid, and especially those who teach kids!

We just celebrated the death anniversary of Moshe Rabbeinu, and Lori Steiner says that we all have an aspect of Moshe inside of us. I think that's just the coolest! Even better, she helps us figure out how to tap into The Moses Within. Well done, Lori! 

Everyone likes a good party - especially me, if there's good music and lots of yummy food. Okay, so who doesn't love this? Imagine being invited to the post-Oscar parties, and you're all ready to go, when suddenly your rabbi sends you an urgent What'sapp and pleads with you not to go. You furiously What'sapp him back, telling him that you don't want to be stuck at home with the Prudes and Party Poopers, while getting into your Bentley with your personal chauffer. Little do you realize, though, that going to this party could cost you your life. What's the big deal of enjoying a night of glamour, great music, and gluttony galore? You'll find the answer like, 2,400 years ago! I'm too tired to figure out the real number. Sorry.

Every year before Purim, we read the famous Torah Maftir portion of Zchor. We are obligated, in this portion, to remember Amalek, our worst enemy. Rav Brody brings up a good question: how can King Saul, after not having listened to Hashem's orders to kill every Amalekite and all of the animals, say that he fulfilled Hashem's will? Great question! Read the answer and more in Right Action, Right Time. 

Last, but not least, here's a link to all of our Purim articles.

And now, let the Purim festivities officially begin! Have a wonderful week!

~Racheli

 

 


Parshat Truma: Deeds of Dads, Signs for Sons

The Torah talks about the type of acacia-wood boards needed to erect the holy Tabernacle in the desert. They had to be 10 x 1.5 cubits, or about 15 feet long and 2.2 feet wide. Where did Moses find such choice lumber in the desert? What's the significance of these planks? The Midrash's amazing answer is something you'll surely want to share with your family at the Shabbat table, as we'll learn in today's mini-lesson. Enjoy it and have a wonderful Shabbat!


How Embarrasing!

IMG_20170222_142424718

Don't worry, I have an explanation. You see, this time it's really not my fault. The kids and I were on our way to the airport to pick up David from his #ravarushhoneymoon. I pulled into the parking garage, which was incredibly poorly lit. No spots. Obviously. Are there ever spots available on the first floor of an airport parking garage? 

So I was about to make a right turn to head up the ramp, and BOOM! I screamed like a hysterical lunatic (woman) as it happened. But I quickly recovered (was too lazy to get out and check the damage) and kept driving up the ramp. When I finally found a spot, I sent my oldest son out of the car first to inspect the damage. At first, he didn't see anything because it was so dark in there, but then, he got this huge smile and started going crazy from excitement. "Ooooh, Aba's gonna be sooooo mad!!!" he began yelling as he jumped up and down. "Oh no he ain't," I thought to myself. 

Since hubby has read The Garden of Peace, he knew better than to try to blame me for something that was simply not my fault. How could it be my fault? After all, would I be in the parking lot if he didn't go out of town? I should have been a lawyer.

Most normal people would be too embarrassed to post their disasters online. But not me! For some reason, I didn't get the embarrassment gene. What can I say - I'm defective. I'm going to have to blame my mother for this. 

After reading Rav Shalom Arush's latest article, I feel so much better. He says that It's an Embarrassment for us, the King's children, to behave in ways that are not befitting of us. That makes my embarrassment look so minuscule in comparison, doesn't it? You know what else is an embarrassment? The horrible 4th grade school picture that my brother just emailed me. I don't know how he got it, but oh boy, wait 'til I get my hands on him. Actually, am I allowed to hit him? If not, can I hit him with a broom stick? What about if I wear boxing gloves? Doesn't it not count as touching him, then?

Since we're on the subject of embarrassment... I have a question. Should I be embarrassed that some of my kids come back with their sandwiches completely uneaten, day after day? Does that say something about my poor sandwich-making skills? I never used to go through a day without eating my lunch. It was actually the highlight of my day at school! I remember one time, sitting down in the massive school cafeteria and opening up the container of sardines that my dad had sent me. I loved sardines dripping in lemon juice and oil, but when I opened up that container, it quickly became apparent to me that none of the other kids appreciated gourmet food. Kids started holding their noses and screaming at the top of their lungs, "What is that smell?!!!" Maybe I should have brought Peanut Butter and Banana  sandwiches instead. Who knew that you could learn about exceeding your limitations from a sandwich? Check out Rav Brody's latest!

These days, it might not be considered embarrassing to be pregnant before you're married, but just think back a few decades. It was shameful to the max! Well, we live in more "tolerant" times, and Aaron writes to me, telling me, "My Girlfriend's Pregnant." Should he marry her or shouldn't he? Oh, what to do? You don't want to miss my answer in my latest!

Our beloved Emuna Therapist, Rebbetzin Yehudit Channen, talks about how she was ashamed to be happy when she was growing up. For various reasons, she was taught that happiness is not something you are allowed to have, especially if others around you are suffering. So what finally gave her Permission to Rejoice? And here's a challenge - see if you can figure out the amazing Divine Providence in this article. I'll give you a hint: it has to do with the timing! 

Speaking of being happy, our other amazing Emuna Therapist, Dr. Zev Ballen, asks some fascinating questions: what exactly is the reason having gratitude improves the quality of life? Well, I never actually thought about it. I guess that's why I'm not a therapist and he is! So, are you Granted, or Taken for Granted? Which is it??

Lori Steiner's latest, Rich King, Poor King,  just reminded me of David's grandmother, Esther, a"h. "Rich or poor, it's nice to have money," she'd say. What a wise woman. She'd also say, "I'll eat anything that doesn't eat me." Except I never actually saw her eat anything. But that never stopped me from enjoying her delicious food! I'm sorry. When I'm tired, I just start to ramble. But seriously, guys, this is a beautiful allegory (is that the right word?) of a king who lives in a kingdom, and, well, you'll have to read the rest! Lori, I'm waiting for a novel!

Dennis Rosen hits it right on the money with his warning about the Quicksand of Despair.  He reveals a big secret in how the Evil Inclination traps us in his death clutches. And guess what - it has nothing to do with the actual transgression you just did! Go figure! So what is it? Well, read the article already!

I'm so relieved to discover that Yael Karni is human, as she doesn't always feel like praying. Whew! What a relief! But she may be superhuman, because she actually went to the trouble to discover tips that would help her strengthen her connection when she needed it most. I'm so happy that she saved me (and the rest of you) the trouble of having to figure it out myself! Check out her suggestions on how to improve your Intimate Connections.

So I'm trying to expand my vocabulary a bit, and I went onto thesaurus.com to find synonyms for awesome. Can anybody tell me why HAIRY is one of the synonyms??? I'm serious!

Have a hairy week, yo!

~Racheli