Sanctify yourself through the permissible... Yevamos 20a

Divrei Torah to provide Chizuk in the struggle to balance spiritual and physical needs.

L'Iluei Nishmas Mirkah Bas Yosef

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A different view of troublesome events.

Once you realize that the purpose of the world-and your purpose as a player in it-is to attain perfection, you begin to notice Hashem's Hand in your life.  You begin to view troublesome events as challenges that will help you grow.  You no longer take the good for granted, you realize that Hashem is giving you tools with which to advance.  You cease to view events in your life as random occurrences.

from the Sefer-- The Six Constant Mitzvos  based on Lectures by Rabbi Yitzchack Berkowitz

Looking Past this world

When we get to the next world and we look around, we will see that the people who are important are not the people who accomplished a lot with their lives.  It will be the people who made the most of what Hashem gave us.  The person who was given very little ability but made the most of it will be more valued then the person who was given tremendous talents and didn't use them.

The key to judging ourselves is to look at how we used our potential versus how much we were given.  The person who uses 85 percent of limited capacity will be more valued then the person who uses 35 percent of major capacity even though in this world he seemed so great.

From A Shiur by Rabbi Shafier-The Shmuz

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Restructure your thoughts

Instead of worrying," will I have what I need". We should be worrying "Will  I will be worthy of Hashem giving me what I need."
from a Shiur by Rabbi Mizrachi.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

One source for everything.

Rabbi Noach Weinberg tells the story of a young man who had a frightening accident and went over a cliff.  While hanging on for dear life he prayed and asked Hashem to save him.  He promised that if he was saved he will learn more about being Jewish.  This eventually led him to Aish HaTorah Yeshivah.

Rabbi Weinberg pointed out to him that not only did Hashem save him, he also caused him to go off the cliff, so that he would reach out and connect to Hashem.

In our lives, when things are difficult, we have to remember that there is only one source, and everything is for the best.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Making our Tefilah Real

Rabbi Noach Weinberg says that if we really believe in Hashem our Tefilah will be totally real.  If we are just going through the motions but we are not really talking to Hashem it is worthless.  He quotes the Chofetz Chayim who tells a story about a man who asked to take over a factory, and the owner of the factory wrote out detailed instructions for what to do when he was running the factory.  He made the man promise to review the directions twice a day.  He came back a few months later and found the factory in ruins.  He said, "what about all of my instructions".  The man said, "I reviewed them every day".  The factory owner said, "I gave them to you to follow, not to review"  The Chofetz Chayim said, "This is the Shema, we are told to review it so that we will follow the instructions, not so that we can read it mindlessly" 

Keeping the feeling alive

Rabbi Noach Weinberg talks about the Mitzvah of Emunah.  He tells us that if we have really made our connection with Hashem real, we will truly feel as though we are talking to Hashem when we pray.  If we just mouth the words we have not really made a true connection.

Walking though the old city, in the early morning, rushing to the Kotel to Daven, our connection to Hashem feels so much more real then back in our regular grind.  We have to keep that feeling alive, wherever we are.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Keeping a clean Neshamah.

The Dos Zakainim explains that the reason every korbon must be brought with salt is to remind us that just as salt is a preservative that allows food to last longer, so too the sacrifices are permanently ours to cleanse us from our sins.

He then explains why this concept is crucial. If a man sins and gains atonement from that sin, he is clean and will then be guarded against committing the sin again. However, if he couldn’t become purified, once he sinned, he would repeat the act over and over again. It can be compared to man with a beautiful white garment. When he first puts it on, he is careful to maintain its pristine condition. Once his garment becomes soiled, however, he is no longer careful about avoiding additional stains. So, too, if a man sinned and that sin remained with him, he will continue committing that sin over and over again. This is the concept that “Once a man sins, the sin becomes ‘permitted’ to him.” That is why the Torah gave us the process of teshuvah.

From the Shmuz on the Parsha

Monday, March 4, 2013

Falling into place

When I look back at my life I realize that everytime I thought my life was falling apart it was really falling into place. I just had to get used to falling
From a shiur about Pesach from Rabbi Shais Taub

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The museum of dysfunctional attachments

Pesach cleaning is visiting the museum of dysfunctional attachments All the junk that you have saved up and didn't want to throw out You have to take a look at it and say what is this doing in my life

The more junk that you throw out the more ready you are for Peaach

From a shiur by Rabbi Shais Taub

Monday, December 24, 2012

Getting rid of resentment -a vort from Reb Yisrael Salanter

When someone does something that really bothers you, do something nice for them. When you do something nice for a person it builds positive feelings in you.
From a shiur by Shira Smiles on Naaleh.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Even when the odds are against you

One of the many inspiring messages of Chanukah is never give up. When the Maccabees went to war against the greeks they did not think they would win. They just knew it was the right thing to do. In our life we should focus on making the right decision and leave the results to Hashem

From a shiur by Reb Heller about Chanukah

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Creating a healthy balance in our lives.

Many people think that when they struggle to control their eating, it is a limited battle.  Not so, says Rabbi Kirzner ztl in the name of Rebbi Nachman.  Our struggle to overcome our problem with overeating is just a reflection of the overall struggle between the physical and spiritual sides of our nature.  Every time that we conquer our desire to overeat, we are building up our spiritual muscles, and becoming a more spiritual person.

From a Shiur from Rabbi Kirzner's website, the Advice Series.

Monday, August 6, 2012

An extremely moving letter to Rabbi Brody

I'd prefer to conceal my real name, but the editorial staff of Breslev Israel knows who I am. You can call me Yisrael; I live in Denver, Colorado.

With thanks to Hashem, I have grown in my Judaism over the last few years as I've learned about the central importance of guarding our eyes and personal holiness, an awareness in no small measure developed from reading Rabbi Brody's articles and Breslev books. Consequently I have generally stopped seeing movies, recognizing that sitting for two plus hours in front of a screen featuring bloodshed and immorality is misusing my eyes and hurting my Divine soul.

Image courtesy of thedarkknightrises.com

Still, the temptation of superhero films has been a great struggle for me. I grew up reading comics and to this day the thought of my favorite childhood superheroes brought to life on the big screen is indescribably alluring!

In recent years when I have "acted out," I go to a particular theatre outside of Denver so I don't see anyone from the Jewish community, sparing myself embarrassment and potential chillul-Hashem, defamation of Hashem's Holy Name. (Where was my embarrassment before Hashem? He wasn't looking? He wasn't with me?)

I would frequent a theatre five or six miles away, called Century Aurora 16.

I've harbored a unique obsession for Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy since 2005. To give you a clue, I've read novelized accounts of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. When The Dark Knight came out in the Summer of 2008 I am embarrassed to divulge I saw it on the inaugural day of the Three Weeks of Mourning. That's right, the 17th of Tammuz. I was so eager to see the film that I spent a day meant for teshuva in a movie theatre! I wonder if it was precious to Hashem that at least I was still fasting though I was neglecting the actual core message of the day- teshuva!

Fast forward four summers. Though I no longer see movies like I once did, how could I not see the epic finale of Nolan's Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises? Especially not on opening night at the midnight premiere like I've done in the past for other comic-book films?!

Upon realizing it premieres on Rosh Chodesh Av, the beginning of the Nine Days, my evil inclination was still not extinguished. Remember, I'm the guy who shamefully saw The Dark Knight in 2008 on a fast day of mourning, the 17th of Tammuz.

Please do not judge. There is no rhyme or reason to a taiva, a lust or urge; we all have our own strange tests in life.

I was actually too ashamed to confide this personal test to my own rabbis here in the States, irrationally fearful it would sound ridiculous to their ears. So instead I typed an email to a rabbi overseas who I might as well consider a rebbe-figure all the same: Rabbi Lazer Brody, whose website and translations of Rabbi Shalom Arush's books have been so illuminating in my Jewish growth over the years. Then there's the personal connection. Rabbi Brody came to Denver last summer, Shabbat Shelach-Lecha. I met him over that unforgettable Shabbos. Not sure I ever saw someone who gushes love for other people quite like this man; I knew Rabbi Brody would be a "safe" person to divulge my nisayon, my personal test.

On July 12 I sent him a long email about my Batman / Nine Days nisayon. I told him how much this meant to me. I concluded and asked, "Would it be precious to Hashem if I delayed seeing the movie until after Tishah B'Av, to show I'm refraining from something I would find highly enjoyable? Or, would it not matter because either way Hashem would be totally against my seeing this movie to begin with?"

Other rabbis might have jumped down my throat saying, "What do you mean, movies? They're absolutely forbidden!"

Not Rabbi Brody; he seemed to understand exactly where I'm coming from, letting me grow at my own pace. He replied the same day with a succinct email consisting of five words in his telegraph style (who knows how many emails a day he answers?), and said: "Delay until after Tisha B'Av", followed by his signature "Blessings Always." And I knew he meant it.

He wasn't judgmental at all. He simply told me to delay seeing the movie. That's all it took.

2012 was not going to be like 2008, when I went on the 17th of Tammuz.

I was not going to the debut at the Aurora Theater on Rosh Chodesh Av, July 20, 2012. Simple as that.

Instead of spending that midnight at the much awaited premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in my "escape" theatre Century Aurora 16, I was in the apartment of my dear friend A.C. studying Hashem's Torah.

The text A.C. and I studied was a discourse from the talks of Rabbi Tzvi Meyer Zilberberg shlit"a, an American-born tzaddik residing in Israel, entitled,  "To feel the great love our Heavenly Father has for every single individual, in every situation he is, for doing so greatly hastens the redemption."

Sweetest friends, he is saying that the month of Av is called Av (i.e. father) because among our main jobs in this month is to really truly feel the great love our Heavenly Father has for all His children.

I left A.C.'s apartment around 1:15 AM. I went to bed thanking Hashem that I overcome my movie Nine-Days temptation.

Not five hours later I was awakened by my distraught mother calling me with dreadful news of the massacre at the Aurora Theater debut of "The Dark Knight Rises".

At that moment I really, truly felt Hashem's love for me, His beloved child.

Thank You, Hashem, for giving me life.

Thank You, Hashem, for sending Rebbe Nachman into the world to show us there is no despair (Likutei Moharan II:78), and that we are to constantly begin anew every single day in serving Hashem as if we had never before begun, especially after falling (Likutei Moharan I:261).

Thank You, Hashem, for Rebbe Nachman's faithful students in our generation spreading the tzaddik's light, including Rabbi Lazer Brody.

Thank You, Hashem, for dear friends like Y.M.H., S.M.G, A.C.F., and E.D.W. who give me great encouragement in Your service.

And thank You, Hashem, for Rabbi Brody's succinct five-word email to me, Your beloved child, on July 12th.

I end with a prayer that our Heavenly Father comfort a lot of grieving, hurting people in Colorado, and across the world. May He speedily heal the survivors completely in body and spirit.

And may He finally fulfill his promise in Isaiah 25 to "swallow up death forever and wipe away tears from all faces." Truly, in our days.

P.S. I recognize that people in my small community reading this might easily figure out my identity. If so, I kindly and sincerely request do not discuss my identity amongst each other and that you do not bring this up to me when you see me next. Thank you. Writing this piece involved disclosing things of an embarrassing nature but with Rabbi Brody's encouragement I felt it was more important to overcome my personal shame and publicize Hashem's loving kindness, to try and sanctify His great Name, may it be sanctified.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The cause of our distress.

Rabenu Yeruchom Levovitz, famous mashgiach of the Mir Yeshiva Poland, taught us the following :
"Just as it is mistaken for a poor man to be distressed over his financial difficulties, imagining that he will remain a poor man although in reality he could become wealthy overnight; so it is with a sick person who might think that he will be ill forever but in fact he could be better by the morning." 
I learn two pieces of very important information for life from this short piece.
1) What is it that causes our distress?
Is it the sickness or the financial difficulty we are experiencing? Or is it something else? If we examine the words of R'Yeruchom we'll understand that it isn't the actual experience of sickness or poverty in the moment that distresses a person. It is his imagining that this is how he will remain, that he is stuck like this forever.
If a patient would know that he will surely get better, and that it will be soon, he won't feel distress. He might feel some discomfort because of his sickness, but not worry, anxiety, stress and terror.  He'll be planning what he wants to do when he gets better! 
If a pauper would know that he's going to get all the money he needs tomorrow! He won't be distressed, he might still feel that he's lacking certain things, but he'll be looking forward to what he'll do with that money when he gets it! He won't be feeling worry, anxiety, stress and terror- these all come upon a person according to Rabenu Yeruchom because "he imagines he will remain poor," or "he thinks he will be ill forever".
So it isn't the nature of our experience however bad it is, that causes our distress! It is our imagining that it will go on forever. When a woman goes to give birth, she knows that however hard it might be, no one was in labor for a week! B"H for that! She is prepared to go through it because by the next day  B'ezras Hashem Yosborach , she'll be holding that precious newborn.
 Hashem even gives us breaks in-between contractions, we know that no single contraction goes on forever, we can look forward to respite and some good, deep breaths, maybe even a smile and a back rub before the next one comes. We don't think to ourselves "Oh no, I'll be here in the labor ward forever; grey hair and false teeth and all the family gathered around me saying to each other 'a contraction every fifteen minutes for the last 16 years. No hope!' "
Why do we choose to distress ourselves with imaginings? 
Why do we so often imagine the worst case scenario?
We think "but this is the reality! These are the facts, you can't escape reality, can you?
So R'Yeruchom comes and teaches us something else:
2) The nature of reality.

"... in reality he could become wealthy overnight;... in fact he could be better by the morning."
R'Yeruchom is teaching us that if we want to be real we have to know that the nature of the world is to change. The root of the word for year shana isshinui change.
The reality is that change for the better is not only possible but likely! Especially with Trust in Hashem! It is most probable that he will get better, that the money will come. Those are the "facts"! That's being "real"! We are avoiding reality when we think things will stay the same.
It's our negative inclination that inclines us to negative prognostication. We need to fight that urge. We need to replace our negative imaginings with those kind of thoughts that are reality based; eg that good news is probably around the corner.
One lady had a very sorry shalom bayis  situation. She said her husband never spoke to her. They hadn't had breakfast together in maybe 15 years! I encouraged her to imagine her husband coming home from shul, saying good morning to her and joining her for breakfast. 
she: "It'll never happen"
me: "Just try it"
she: "It's impossible"
me: "imagine it anyway!"
So she did. She called me the next day.
"It happened, you won't believe it" (I did believe it) " He came home from shul and sat down to breakfast with me! We talked!"
In whatever situation we are in we must align our thinking and our imagination, with the facts, which are that our troubles can be over by the morning. 
"Hashem is sending us the money we need"
"Hashem will help you suceed in the exam"
"B"H your bashert is just around the corner"
"B"H I'm excited about  getting the perfect job for me really soon"
In any situation we find ourselves communicating to ourselves what we think will happen. We must understand that this inner communication results in our imagination providing the pictures to go with it and those pictures are what arouses our feelings. If we are thinking frightening and worrying thoughts we will feel fright and worry. 
If we are communicating to ourselves a fact-based thought that things will be better soon, B'ezras Hashem, then we'll right away begin to feel better. Then that feeling of relief and happiness will, in and of itself, likely bring about good results because that is what trust feels like, and one who trusts in Hashem is surrounded by His Kindness. 
Let's try and be real, let's try and stick to the facts...
and look forward to tomorrow.
Chaya Hinda

from jpthink.com

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A fantastic collection of quotes.

 from http://www.thesponsorsaide.org/SlowGuns.htm

D.E.N.I.A.L. - Don't Even Notice I Am Lying

Lips are moving, we're off and running.  Ever told a story, joke or lie so many times that even you believe it's true?
H.O.W. - Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness This ones for you, Dad!  Hope you like it. 

S.L.I.P. - Sobriety Lost It's Priority / So Long, I'm Perfect
If you don't want to slip, stay out of slippery places!
B.I.B.L.E. - Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth
Take it as you will.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.
My Way - No, My Way! - No My Way!
You're as sick as your secrets. Most of the time, folks see it, know it, or feel it in some way or another, anyway.  Get it?
S.O.B.E.R. - Son Of a Bitch, Everything's Real WOW!  Life happens at the funniest times!
Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional
ace Everything And Recover
Not Using The Steps
dging God Out
Don't Even Notice I Am Lying
[Don't get too] Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired
Happy Our Program Exists
Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness
Good Orderly Direction
B.I.G. B.O.O.K.
Believing In God Beats Our Old Knowledge
obriety Losing Its Priority
ny Change To Improve Our Nature
eople Relying On God Relaying A Message
Solutions To Every Problem Sober
Keep It Simple, Sweetheart

Seven missed meetings makes one weak.
HALT: Don't get
too Hungry,
too Angry,
too Lonely, or
too Tired!!
If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.
If you keep doin' what your doin'
you'll keep gettin' what your gettin'
A.B.C. - Acceptance, Belief, Change
A.C.T.I.O.N. - Any Change Toward Improving One’s Nature
E.G.O. - Edging God Out
F.A.I.L.U.R.E. - Fearful, Arrogant, Insecure, Lonely, Unsure, Resentful, Empty
F.E.A.R. - Face Everything & Recover /False Expectations Appearing Real
G.O.D. - Good Orderly Direction
H.A.L.T. - Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired
H.E.L.P. - Hope, Encouragement, Love, Patience
T.I.M.E. - Things I Must Learn

Progress not perfection.


Change the things I can.



AA slogans, sayings, and assorted inspirations

The steps keep us from suicide; the traditions keep us from homicide.

The only thing alcoholics do in moderation is the 12 steps!

The elevator is broken - take the steps!

Step 13: My life is unmanageable, and I want to share it with you.

It's alcohol-ism, not -wasm.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Gossip hurts - and sometimes kills.

Pain is necessary, suffering is optional!

If nothing changes, nothing changes.

If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got.

Some things have to be believed to be seen.

Feelings aren't facts!!!

In AA, first we remove the anesthesia, then we operate.

Fellowship is the meeting after the meeting.

Let us love you until you learn to love yourself.

Isolation is the dark room where we develop our 'negatives'.

Compare and despair.

Don't compare you insides to other people's outsides.

Let go or get dragged.

If your spinning your wheels, try getting out of the driver's seat.

If your ass falls off, pick it up, put it in a paper bag, and carry it to a meeting.

Remember the cost of your last drink or drug when observing the 7th tradition.

Take an action, then let go of the results.

Carry the message, not the mess.

Don't tease your disease.

It's the first car of a train that kills you, not the caboose.

Relapse is NOT a requirement.
Relapse begins long before you pick up the drink/drug.

If you hang around a barbershop long enough, eventually you'll get a haircut.

Those who matter, don't mind; those who mind, don't matter.

Expectations are preconceived resentments.

Serenity isn't freedom from the storm; it is peace within the storm.

Don't speak unless you can improve on silence.

You don't need to "find God"; He isn't lost.

Tell it to your sponsor, or you will be telling it to a bartender.

Surrendering means you don't have to fight any more.

Surrender Dorothy!

I didn't use drugs, drugs used me.

You can be just a crazy sober as you were drunk, you'll just remember it the next day.
AA Sayings - The Complete? List - "Easy Does It", "Keep it Simple Stupid", and many more.
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