90 posts categorized "Giants of Judaism"

Rabbi Elazar Mordechai Koenig, osb"m

Rabbi Elazar Mordechai Koenig  osbm
Breslev Israel, Emuna Outreach and Lazer Beams mourn the passing earlier today of a tzaddik and humble giant, rabbi and spiritual leader of the Breslev movement in the holy city of Tzefat, Israel, Rabbi Elazar Mordechai Koenig, of saintly and blessed memory. Rabbi Koenig was 73, and had been bravely battling a difficult illness in recent years. With all his suffering, his smile never left his face. 

Rabbi Koenig was one of the undisputed spiritual leaders of Breslev worldwide and he represented the traditional, quiet, Torah-and-prayer oriented mainstream of Breslev. His father, the holy Rabbi Gedalia Aaron Koenig osb"m, was the student of Breslev luminary Rabbi Abraham Sternhartz, the great-grandson of Rebbe Natan of Breslev, all of saintly and blessed memory.

May Hashem console the distinguished Koenig family and all of the community in Tzefat, and may Rabbi Koenig zatza'l intercede in our behalf before the Heavenly Throne, amen.

10th of Teveth and Rebbe Natan's Yahrtzeit: Today

Today, Tuesday 10 Teveth (18 Dec., 2018) is a fast day that commemorates the beginning of the Babylonian siege around Jerusalem, before the city fell and the First Holy Temple was destroyed two and a half years later. The fast begins 90 minutes before dawn on Tuesday morning and ends when the stars come out. Here in Israel, this is roughly from 5:00 AM to 5:09 PM, so it's the shortest fast day of the year.

10 Teveth this year also commemorates the 174th anniversary of the passing of our holy Rabbi and spiritual guide, Rebbe Natan of Breslev, of saintly and blessed memory. Were it not for Rebbe Natan, we wouldn't have had such a rich legacy of Rebbe Nachman's teachings. Rebbe Natan is a spiritual Transformer, for he brings us Rebbe Nachman's dazzling light in a measure that we can absorb. Rebbe Natan is also My Hero

Please light a candle for Natan ben Naftali Hertz, may his blessed and holy memory intercede on our behalf, amen. 

Here are some photos we took in Breslev, Ukraine a few summers ago, at Rebbe Natan's holy gravesite:

Photo 1: Rebbe Natan's Gravesite


Photo 2: View of the Ukranian countryside from Rebbe Natan's gravesite


Photo 3: The River Bugg, here Rebbe Natan would pour his heart out in personal prayer


Photo 4: Lazer praying at Rebbe Natan's gravesite



Rabbi Lazer's Chanukah Message: Mattatyahu's Courage

Kever Mattatyahu
Image above: the holy gravesite of Mattatyahu son of Yochanan, the High Priest (Cohen HaGadol), father and spiritual leader of the Maccabees

Happy Chanuka!

Mattatyahu Cohen HaGadol, whom we remember every time we say the "Al HaNissim" prayer during Chanuka, is buried in a cave in a forest, about a kilometer north of Highway 443 near Mevo Modiin, which Hashem enabled me to visit yesterday.

Mattatyahu and his sons fought a double war - not only against the Syrian Greeks, but against the 95% of the Jewish people who had become assimilated Hellenists. But because of his steadfast, unwavering and uncompromising commitment to Hashem, to his emuna, to the Torah and to his homeland, he was able to overcome all obstacles and instill the fire of emuna and total dedication in the hearts of his brave sons and daughter.

Where did he get his strength and courage from?

Nothing gives a person strength like clarification of the truth. A person who knows the truth and who lives according to the truth is as fierce as a lion. He is not willing to live a lie; so, if you take the truth away from him, he'll no longer regard his life as worth living. That's why our ancestors in every generation all the way back to our forefather Abraham were willing to sacrifice their last breath and heartbeat for our faith in Hashem and our Torah.

Mattatyahu and his sons Yehuda, Elazar, Shimon, Yochanan and Yonatan knew the truth. For a servant of Hashem, life is worthless without Torah, emuna, and holiness. The Hellenists fooled themselves while trying to dilute the truth and appease the Syrian Greeks, but the latter wanted to destroy it altogether and to substitute it with a life of pursuing bodily amenities.

Did Hashem send our souls down to this lowly earth just for another piece of steak, another fling with the opposite sex, or another NBA game? Those who waste their lives in the pursuit of material appetites are neither happy nor fulfilled. What's worse, they haven't devoted a single minute to clarifying the truth.

21" biceps won't give you courage. Truth and emuna will.

If the Prime Minister of Israel would clarify the truth, no foreign pressure in the world would sway him a single millimeter. If a teenager would clarify the truth, then he'd say no to the stupid things that his peers are doing. If a woman knew the truth, she wouldn't care if her neighbors called her "nebby" or "yachna" for dressing the way Hashem wants her to dress. If a man would be honest with himself, he'd realize how contemptible it would be to sacrifice one's entire family for a few moments of illicit thrills.

Mattatyahu and his sons were masters at truth clarification. They weren't willing to live for two minutes without the truth. That's where they derived the courage to fight a virtually impossible war. And that's why they won.

While we're basking in the holy light of the Chanuka candles, let's ponder the real meaning of this beautiful festival that commemorates the miracle of the few prevailing over many, the pure prevailing over the impure, and the light prevailing over darkness. Let's remember the dedication and commitment of Mattatyahu and his sons. Let's strengthen ourselves and carry their torch of Torah and truth, no matter what the odds. We can do it. All we need is emuna. Blessings for a wonderful Shabbat Chanuka!

Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev

Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev

Above image - the holy gravesite of Rebbe Levi Yitzchok in Berditchev, Ukraine

Today, the 25th of Tishrei, is the 209th yahrtzeit of the holy Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev (1740-1809), may his sacred soul intercede in our behalf, amen. When Rebbe Levi Yitzchok died, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev said that the world became a darker place. Rebbe Levi Yitzchok is especially known as the senegor of Israel, the defending attorney of the Jewish People in the Heavenly Court, for he only saw the good in people.

Light a candle in memory of Rebbe Levi Yitzchok ben Sara Sasha. may his holy memory invoke blessings for all of us, amen.

Rebbe Levi Yitzchok's hauntingly beautiful niggun (melody) is one of my favorites. Here is Yehuda Green singing it for us. Enjoy this bit of inspiration, and may you be blessed with a healthy winter and a wonderful new week.