Chanukah is less than three weeks away. Would you like a great fitness gift that costs virtually peanuts? You can get an off-brand but good balance ball for less than ten bucks. Emuna Fitness is happy to introduce you to the balance ball; you don't need an expensive gym membership to stay in shape. See this and have a great Shabbat:
We always regard our matriarch Rachel as the heroine of this week's Torah portion, for she saved her sister from embarrassment. But look what the Torah says about Jacob; enjoy this week's mini-lesson and have a wonderful Shabbat!
I didn't want to write about Pittsburgh or the wild fires, but people have been repeatedly requesting. So before I write, I recite this short prayer and ask Hashem to illuminate my eyes to the message He wants to convey to our people wherever they are, in Israel and abroad. I pray that Hashem should guide me to truth, which as Rebbe Nachman teaches, can only be attained through emuna and self-nullification. Hashem, let this post be for Your honor exclusively and for the good of our people, amen!
On Shabbat, Oct. 27, 2018, the angel of death masquerading as arch Jew-hater Robert Bowers entered the Shabbat morning services of the "Tree of Life" synagogue in Pittsburgh and gunned down eleven of our holy brethren, of blessed and sacred memory, all martyrs, including a 97-year-old woman, a husband and wife, and two brothers. Yes, they were conservative Jews but all hand-picked by Hashem to be holy martyrs. Why holy martyrs? Our people, because of a certain blemish they've not yet overcome, need martyrs to atone for them. The angel of death and his accomplices such as the Neo-Nazis and other terrorists simply do the dirty work. Guns fire bullets; the martyrs' deaths according to Kabbalah was death by fire.
At the time of this writing, the fires in California have taken the lives of 48 people that authorities know about; that number is expected to rise as rescue teams make it into areas that they previously had no access to. Over 8000 people have lost their homes, many of them Jews. Many others have been evacuated (remindful of Gush Katif?). They are now in a double exile, or an exile within an exile. This is a double atonement, not only for them but for all of our people. The Gemara says that losing one's assets is tantamount to death. This atonement and cleansing of sin here is again by fire.
By no small coincidence, when the final campaigning for the runoff of the municipal elections in Israel was taking place, and Jews were slinging the worst type of mud at one another including the worst type of infighting between different camps of Orthodox Jews, Hostilities broke out in Gaza. 470 missiles rained down on the south of Israel, also leading to repeated exile - from homes to bomb shelters. Miraculously, only one person was killed but many suffered loss of homes just like our brethren in Southern Califormia. I repeat - missile fire - once again, the atonement and cleansing of sin here is again by fire, and that's after the recent weeks where thousands of acres in the south of Israel have been burned by wild fires caused by incendiary balloons from Gaza. Once more, the culprit of fire.
Pittsburgh, California, Sderot or Ashkelon - it doesn't matter. We are one people like one body. The schism between American and Israeli Jews is inane. OK, there's an ideological difference between Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews - granted. But we're all brothers. The intramural hate destroyed the holy Temple. Our sages call the intramural hate, fire of contention. This comes from one of King Solomon's sayings (Proverbs 25:24) which says, "It is better to dwell in a roof corner than in a house with with the fire of contention."
Your dictionary will define contention as discord, conflict, friction, strife, dissension, and/or disharmony. Is this not the state of the Jewish People today? My beloved teacher Rav Shalom Arush constantly calls for an end to this. He warns against speaking detrimentally against any other Jew on earth, even those who cause us the worst grief. Do we hear any other voice saying the same thing, or do we only hear the so-called leaders who despise other Jews "for the sake of Hashem". When will they ever learn?
The fire of Pittsburgh, California and the South of Israel all come to atone for the fire of contention and intramural hate.
Almost a thousand years ago, the holy Rabbi Yehuda HaChassid said that an enemy can not touch a hair on a Jewish head until one Jew harms another Jew, even verbally. The holy Chafetz Chaim said the same thing before he left this world, less than nine decades ago. Do you realize what that means?
Any Jew who hates any other Jew - no matter the color, origin, creed or ideology - creates a negative spiritual force that embodies itself in a terrorist, a missile or a wildfire. Anyone who doesn't do immediate teshuva for hating their fellow Jew cannot say, "My hands did not spill the blood of Pittsburgh, give power to Hamas, or fan the fires of California.
For our own future, let's start loving one another. One cannot love a fellow Jew unless he/she first strengthens themselves in emuna, believing that we all have the same Father in Heaven, for the Torah tells us that we are His children. Nothing gives a parent more pleasure when his/her children love each other. May we all follow the path of loving one another and may this be the end of sorry for our people everywhere, amen.
And it took a whole three minutes to put together.
I'm lying in bed, floating between consciousness and my first class kosher cruise, and I'm naturally dreaming about their all-you-can-eat buffets. How many are there in a day? Six? One per hour? Would that make it 12 or 24? Does the midnight buffet count?
Speaking of midnight buffets, I'm hungry. But I'm too lazy to get out of bed, and it's too late to eat, so I did the next best thing. I found a picture of food to salivate over.
Just look at this gorgeous plate. Delish!
One of the things that the yetzer (evil inclination) loves to make us think is that we don't have time to prepare healthy food. So we settle for eating junk.
True, we don't have time. No one has time these days. But that doesn't mean you can't grab a piece of fruit or a vegetable instead of a sugar-loaded granola bar.
Granted, the cucumber isn't as exciting as chocolate chips in "healthy" rolled oats.
But you know what?
It pays off when you start dropping weight like nobody's business.
Stay away from processed snacks and you won't believe how quickly you'll start to lose pounds and inches.
And not just pounds and inches! You'll also lose that brain fog that you don't even realize you have right now. You'll lose that after-carb coma that we all get when we eat too much of a good thing.
People! Don't forget. It's just as important to take care of your bodies! Your souls need healthy, clean spiritual food. And your bodies need healthy, clean physical food.
Get organic if you can without going broke.
I know it's basic, but we all could use reminders like these to help put us back on track.
Speaking of lucky husbands, I hear Rav Brody is going to speak tonight about how lucky David is to be married to me. Great choice of topic!
But seriously, if you want to know the truth about soulmate relationships, don't miss his emuna talk tonight! Scroll down for details.
Some soul-mates are obvious, like the King penguin couple in the above photo. Yet, so many people are walking around with the nagging and gnawing feeling that they married the wrong person. Could that be?
Don't miss today's emuna lesson and live broadcast from Jerusalem entitled "There's no Mistake", which 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 7 PM 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.
According to the IDF scorecard after the first 370 missiles were fired in yesterday's hostilities (today brought the score up to 450 by the time the ceasefire came into effect at 3:30 PM our local time), the Iron Dome missile missile-defense system succeeded in intercepting only 100 of them. That's less than 30%, nowhere near a passing grade in any classroom (or battlefield). Two years ago, the Iron Dome was knocking down more than 80%. What that means is that Hamas uses every ceasefire to upgrade. Their new missiles, courtesy of Iran and Syria, are sophisticated enough to outsmart the Iron Dome, as the direct hits on homes and factories unfortunately bear witness to.
This evening, many residents in the south are demonstrating and burning tires to protest the ceasefire, whose terms Hamas virtually dictated. Hamas is parading the streets of Gaza in glee, celebrating the bloody nose it gave Israel.
Yes, Israel's political leaders are loquacious and indecisive. But with emuna, we know that it's Hashem who makes them act that way. Once again, we see another inexplicable round of violence and an even more inexplicable ceasefire, a cycle that has become biannual over here.
Hashem wants to show us that we can't depend on political leaders. Even if we replace the current ones, their replacements will act the same once they sit down in those cushy velvet chairs around the coalition's mahogany table. Hashem is also showing that we certainly can't on Iron Dome either. We can only depend on Him.
Despite everything, Hashem still did tremendous miracles. 450 missiles fell, there was all kinds of chaos and property damage, yet only one person was killed - not even an Israeli - but a worker from the PA village of Halhoul illegally sleeping over in Ashkelon. There were no Jewish Israeli fatalities!
Hashem is giving us another chance to learn emuna and do teshuva. Once we do, we're home free. But, if people simply use the respite to go back to their sidewalk cafes, then the next round of hostilities will be even worse. What's more, if Iron Dome's success against Gaza was a mere 27% (flunking Fall Semester midterms against Gaza, 2018), what will it be against Hizbollah, whose firepower is twenty times that of Gaza?
I'd much rather write about emuna and good health, but the 4oo+ rockets that have fallen so far in the last 24 hours in the south of Israel are quite an acute threat to our health. Here are the latest updates with illustrations:
Rocket fire continues from Gaza - the image directly below shows what the skies of the Eshkol area in South Israel look like this morning.
The 19-year old soldier who was critically wounded yesterday when a Hamas guided missile (courtesy of Iran) hit a bus yesterday only moments after 50 other soldiers got off it is from Ashdod.
Of the dozens injured yesterday, some 15 are still in the hospital. Two women are critical, injured in the same barrage that took the life of a man in Ashkelon yesterday, killed in his sleep. The two women were rescued after courageous civil defense and first-aid personnel pulled them out of the rubble. (See image below, apartment block in Ashkelon that was hit last night).
School an public gatherings from Ashdod to Beersheva, which are now on alert, have been cancelled today. Hamas is threatening to expand their bombing to Ashdod and Beersheva; meanwhile, the rocket fire has affected the radius from Gaza to Ashkelon, Ofakim and Netivot. (See adjacent map).
A missile fell in the playground of a Shaar Hanegev kindergarten this morning. Thank G-d, no one was there.
Meanwhile, things are very tense and we have no idea what will happen in the coming hours. May we hear good things from each other. Anyone who wants to help the security of Israel, and that of Jews all over the world, should stop the idiotic intramural baseless hate, right now.
Even in the military combat units, when the DI (drill instructor) says, "Drop down for 10", guys grumble and grunt. What's the big deal? Ten pushups with a full pack on your back? The reason is that people complain when they're having commands barked at them. But, if the DI hears you complaining, you'll have to do 50, even if you feel like your arms are falling off...
I love pushups. I'm always dreaming up new and more challenging ways to do them, like this elevated pushup that I did on the road in an early-morning drive from London to Manchester. Pushups are one of the most important - if not the most important - body-weight exercise there is. By doing a proper pushup, you're not only working your arms but your core, glutes and leg muscles as well.
Don't be afraid of pushups. In this vid, I teach you 5 basic forms, starting from a beginner's pushup that even your grandmother can do, then graduating to immediate and advanced. Once you get the hang of a pushup, I then teach you how to do a perfect pushup, because one pushup in perfect form is better than 10 in lousy form. Now, for more of a challenge, there's the medicine-ball pushup, which gives the body a big clout for a small investment of time.
Let's go another step further: once you've seen the above lessons, you're ready for the rough-guys' lesson. This is the lesson that makes the thugs regret that they ever messed around with emuna-fitness folks. Here are three pushup forms to strengthen your hands, something that's crucial for anyone who participates in combat-arts sports. Enjoy this:
The Israeli-Arab driver of the above-pictured bus that suffered a direct hit from an anti-tank missile from Gaza was rushed to the trauma center. He said, "God loves the Jews; minutes before before my bus was hit, 50 Israeli soldiers de-boarded, they all would have died, its a miracle". Even during the barrages, we must never forget how much Hashem loves us.
Meanwhile, more than 300 missiles have fallen on the south of Israel today and there have been some serious injuries and property damage. Red-alert sirens are still going off periodically all over the south of Israel.
Below is a police photo we just received from a rocket that exploded down the road in Ashkelon about a half hour ago. May we hear good news from each other, amen!
Israel, 5:45 PM local time - during the last 60 minutes, more than 100 rockets have been fired at Israel from Hamas in Gaza. There have been damages, such as direct hits on a house, a bus and a gas pipeline. Most of the hits are in Sderot and Gaza-belt settlements, but sirens have hava also sounded down the road from us in Ashkelon, where all the public bomb shelters have been opened, in Ofaqim, Netivot, Kibbutz Saad and elsewhere. We have not heard of fatalities, Heaven forbid, but there have been casualties. From here in Ashdod, we can see jet fighters on their way to Gaza. Pray for Israel and we should all make every effort to rid our mouths of evil speech about anyone.
Last night, Lt. Col. "M", commander of an IDF special ops unit, was killed operating in Gaza. The whole operation has been hushed up and it's quite a mystery. It's rare that the IDF doesn't release the name of a fallen officer or soldier. Something is wierd...
Let's not forget that Hashem runs the world. Emuna, teshuva and prayer are still our best weapons.
Update, 6:30 PM, Israel local time - we've just heard that three people in Ashkelon have been wounded by shrapnel from the exploding incoming missiles. There are additional casualties as well. Just now, more missile fire at Ashkelon. Beer Sheva is now on alert.
Do you remember DG From the Pits of the Texas State Penitentiary? He's the one who received the Garden of Emuna on the day he decided to commit suicide, losing all hope in the doubly depressing predicament of life imprisonment and solitary confinement. DG was angry - at the warden, at the guards, at all the Jew-hating inmates who made his life unbearable and at the whole world. To make a long story short, instead of committing suicide, DG sat up all night reading the Garden of Emuna...
Rabbi Shalom Arush and I now get letters form DG every month. By way of Emuna Outreach, we send him our latest emuna books and pamphlets. DG is now out of solitary confinement and he works night shift in the prison boiler room. He does two hours of personal prayer five nights a week, a six-hour personal prayer session on Shabbat, and one hour on Fridays, when he's getting ready for Shabbat. He thanks Hashem for being imprisoned, because it brought him closer to Hashem.
Hold it - that's not the main story...
Three weeks ago, when Rav Arush and I were in Houston, a women came up to us after our lecture with tears streaming down her face: "I'm DG's mother; I came her to thank you - you saved my son's life!" What a moment that was! The 450-500 people that were there all witnessed that moving moment.
Rav Shalom says, "We don't deserve the credit. Imagine the Gan Eden (paradise) that awaits the person who donated the $20 to Emuna Outreach that enabled us to send the Garden of Emuna to DG.
You can save a life for $20!
We have hundreds of requests for Emuna books and CDs from the state penitentiaries of Florida, Texas and New York State. We need you to partner with us - Rav Shalom says that there is no tzedakah (charity) on earth that can compare to spreading emuna, especially when it's so instrumental in rehabilitating prison inmates and preventing suicides.
What would you think if DG and those like him were your own brother? Guess what, he is. For every $20 Donation to Emuna Outreach, you can save a life. Because of the money we save in shipping 10 books, for $180, you can save ten lives. Donate to Emuna Outreach - you'll reap blessings from Above and below, in this world and in the next. Thanks and G-d bless.
Rabbi Lazer Brody translating a joke for Rabbi Shalom Arush in Miami, during the recent "Emuna is our Future" speaking tour - he doesn't need to translate, "You changed my life" anymore… photo by Rachel Israel, Miami
The one phrase I don't need to translate for my esteemed and beloved teacher Rabbi Shalom Arush shlit'a is, "You changed my life." During our recent North American "Emuna is Our Future" speaking tour, Rav Shalom heard it from almost everyone who spoke to him, as I witnessed during our 16 days together morning and night. And now, after the tour has been completed, he is receiving loads of letters, where people are saying the same thing over and over, like the one Dov from South Florida sent us. This is phenomenal...
Would you believe that a boy who never went to school because he spent his young years in concentration camps and escaping from the Nazis would grow up to be Commander of US Army Special Forces? This is much more than a hero story: don't miss The Tiger from Kovno, about Maj. General Sidnet Shachnow ob"m, by Rabbi Lazer Brody.
Shavua Tov! Our esteemed and beloved rabbi and teacher Rav Shalom Arush shlit'a asks, "Is it a sin to forget about your troubles for a half hour every day?" How do we do that and what do we gain? Enjoy this encouraging shiur and have a lovely new week!