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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Connecting to Hashem through Davening

From a sefer by Rabbi Shimshon Pinchus on Tefilah

When you say one of Hashem's names you are actually activating the Middah that that name represents. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Calling Hashem by Name

From Rabbi Shimpson Pinchus on Prayer

When you are walking down the street and you hail a cab, you expect it to come.
When you are in distress and you call a police man to help you, you expect him to come.

L'havdil- when you call Hashem by name you should expect and feel his presence even more.

Monday, December 28, 2009

More from "The Thinking Jew's Guide to Life-Happiness" by Rabbi Akiva Tatz

From a Shiur by Rabbi Akiva Tatz, "The Thinking Jew's Guide to Life-Happiness"
from Simple to Remember-

If a person has put a lot of time and energy into working out and has really built himself up physically, he will feel tremendous pride and satifaction with his acomplishments. If you would see him in the gym sweating and struggling, you would feel sorry for him, but he would be feeling happy and acomplished.

Life is about the journey and not the destination. We have to find satisfaction in our struggle and in our acomplishments or we will never get anywhere.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"The Thinking Jew's Guide to Life-Happiness" by Rabbi Akiva Tatz

From a Shiur by Rabbi Akiva Tatz, "The Thinking Jew's Guide to Life-Happiness"

from Simple to Remember- a must listen to shiur!

If you go through any list of the 613 mitzvahs you will not find the mitzvah of being happy.

Why does Rebbe Nachman say that it is a great mitzvah to be happy ALWAYS?

How can you be happy during mourning? How can you be happy with all of the problems in today's world?

For most people in Western Culture their goal in life is happiness.

For Jews happiness is a means to an end.

Happiness is the experience of the soul to be doing what it should be doing. When you are doing what you are supposed to be doing - you will be happy. The inner experience of the soul when it achieves its goal is true happiness. Growth always takes place against resistance.

Real sadness is not knowing what road you should be on. If you are walking along the right road and your neshamah knows it is the right road you will be happy.

Evdu Et Hashme B'Simcha means Serve Hashem with Happiness.

Chocolate covered poison

From Rabbi Shalom Arush , "In Forrest Fields"

The temptations of transgressions and bodily appetites are like eating chocolate covered poison. Delicious on the outside but deadly once you get going.

In a meeting today someone shared that when you start a binge, you only enjoy the first bite. After that you are consumed by doubts and compulsions that make you miserable.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Filling your void

From a Shiur by Rebetzin Heller on Netivot Olam

The Yetzer Harah is looking for a person with a void and tries to get you to fill that void with bad things. The Yetzer Harah can only work were you are lacking, but you can stop this by filling your void with Torah.


From a Shiur by Rebetzin Heller on Netivot Olam

Anonymity is the opposite of compassion.

Compassion is what we show each other in meetings, anonymity is what we exhibit in public.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dvar Torah from a Phone Call

When you are hearing something disturbing- over and over, do not ignore it- Hashem is sending you a message.

A tool for fighting the Yetzer Hara

From a Shiur by Shira Smiles-Parshat Vayigash: Dual Flames

The Yetzer Hara works by making us feel removed from Hashem. We can fight this by saying, "Hashem is here now!"

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"The Joy in Consistency"-Bilvavi Miskan Evneh

From "Getting to Know Your Self" by the author of "Bilvavi Miskan Evneh"
page 244

If you seek pleasure in something new and different, you are stuck in the mentality of a created being, which by nature is always moving and imbalanced. You cannot find true pleasure on that level. The Creator, though, is unchanging; He is timeless. To find His Presence and the deepest pleasure, you must rise above your level and find balance, which transcends all change.

You may be wondering, "Am I supposed to eat the same foods every day? Should I go to work exactly the same way each day? Must I learn the same songs and read the same books? That would be so annoying!".

But why is that annoying? Because you are used to extremes, and you don't recognize the joy in consistency which confers the absolute and true pleasure! The pursuit of extreme movements come from other nations, who do not have a deep connection with Hashem. But we can truly cleave to Him, by connecting to the state without extremes that does not need to change.

We see that learning balance is necessary in order to be able to find the deepest part of yourself. One who does not guide himself in this way is liable to enter the mode of extremism, never to depart from it.
This insight was the final push that I needed to join OA. The realization that the structure of OA is for my spiritual good opened the door for me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reminders for Chesbon Hanefesh

From a Shiur by Rabbi Berkowitz on "Keeping Chesbon Hanefesh Going"

Make a sign for yourself that says:

"I live to perfect myself.
I will never perfect myself if I don't do Chesbon Hanefesh daily.
I need Chesbon Hanefesh desperately."

Feeling like you are in control of your life keeps you doing Chesbon Hanefesh daily.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Consistentcy with your Chesbon Hanefesh

From a Shiur by Rabbi Berkowitz on "Keeping Chesbon Hanefesh Going"

How do you make sure that you will be consistent with your Chesbon Hanefesh?
The Yetzer Hara does not want us to do Chesbon Hanefesh on a regular basis. The Yetzer Hara is more worried about this than anything else. Chesbon Hanefesh is the best tool for growth that there is, and the Yetzer Hara will do almost anything to keep us from doing this.
This is the biggest battle you will ever fight.

The only way to do daily Chesbon Hanefesh is to realize that this is the reason that you are alive. The Gra says that this is what we are created for. We are alive for self improvement, and the only way that we can do this is through Chesbon Hanefesh.

The more that we perfect ourselves, the closer that we get to the perfection of Hashem.

I was thinking about this and I suddenly realized what a powerful tool our nightly writting is. Not only do we do a daily Chesbon Hanefesh, but we share it with our sponsor which ensures that we always do it.

Check out our related blogs.

I have been meaning to start a blog to record some of the great shares that I have heard for a long time and I finally did it today.  I was inspired by some particulaly good advice.  If you want to read it click on:


The other blog, which is tips for Shabbos and Yomtov is:


Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Road to Greatness.

From a Shiur by Rabbi Berkowitz "Intoduction to Chesbon Hanefesh" from Aish Audio.

The road to greatness is in perfecting yourself. You don't want to beg the world for recognition. You want to make yourself great because this is what Hashem created you for, whether or not other people recognize it.

You can not allow other people's perception of you to change your perception of yourself.

Changing the world by changing yourself.

More from the Shiur by Rabbi Berkowitz "Introduction to Chesbon Hanefesh" from Aish Audio

The way to change the world is not by making noise, but by never forgeting that you have to work on changing the world. You have to know that you have to grow in every possible area. All of the troubles of this world are really opportunities for growth. Everyone can be big, everyone can be great, we have to be. You can not sit in the corner and wait for someone else to do things. You have to set goals that help you to change the world. Your number one goal is, "I have to make a difference". If you don't see greatness as a goal you will never get anywhere.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Making Chesbon Hanefesh Real

The 4th Step - made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Rabbi Yitzchack Berkowitz- Introduction to Chesbon Hanefesh from Aish Audio

The first thing you have to think about is, "what am I living for?" Everything in your life should reflect your long term goals.
Chesbon Hanefesh mean sitting down and working out the stuff that is floating around in your head and making it concrete. What do I have to do, to get where I want to go. You can not grow if you do not have a clear sense of direction.

Hashem's Plans revealed through the twist and turns of our lives.

Parshat Mikeitz

Rabbi Benish Ginsberg on Naaleh

The Torah says Miketz -at the end of Yosef spending 2 years in jail- Pharoh had a dream that needed interpetation, to tell us that this was no a coincidence.  Hashem had a plan that Yosef needed to be in jail for 2 years, and when the time came for him to come out Hashem caused a natural occurance that brought him out.  This is to teach us that everything that happens in our life is part of Hashem's plan, and even if we don't know why, there is a reason.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rebbetzin Heller on Chanuhah and Choices

What did the Macabees think of their chances when they began their battle?

They did not know if they would win, they just knew that it was a battle that they had to fight, no matter what.

Results belong to God, choice belongs to man. We are in this world to make choices that are true, that fit with the Torah. We are not here to win battles. This attidude is the reason that they won.

The Mind- Body Relationship and Tefilah

From a Shiur by Rebbetzin Heller

Speech is the bond between the body and the soul. The reason the we are silent durring Shemonah Esrei is that we have to allow the voice of the soul to preside over the body.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rabbi Shimshon Pinchus on Hanukah

On the Moedim and Shabbas we do not confront the darkness, when they come we stop thinking about our problems. Chanukah is different. The reason that the most bacic mitzvah of Chanukah is the candle is that we are learning to put light in the darkness. Chanukah was the beginning of the longest golus, so it is a time when we have to learn how to put light in the darkness.
The war of Chanukah was not easy, it was a war of 13 against millions. They fought with Miseras Nefesh and there were great sacrifices. We learn from this that if we want to be succesful in this Golus we have to be prepared to struggle.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The light of Chanukah -Rebbetzin Heller

From a Shiur by Reb Heller on Aish MP3

The light of Chanukah is meant to illuminate to us the light of self conquest. This is the opposite of the Greeks, they were into self development but not into self control. We see that true strength is self conquest.

Chanukah is a very big challenge of our self control, but we can know that we are working on the true light of Chanukah.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Leavining the Greek mentality behind.-Shira Smiles

From a Shiur by Shira Smiles on Kosher Tube

Life is not about the Greek mentality that what you see is what you have. Life is about spirituality and working in partnership with Hashem to acomplish much more then we thought we could. Our job is to open ourselves up for inspiration, because when we open ourselves up, it is mindboggling what we can acomplish with Hashem's help.

Rebbetzin Heller on Chanuhah

Hedonism is a remnet of Greek thought that still exists today. The idea that we should be able to get what we want, when we want it is part of our society today. We have to work to free ourselves of this mindset.

Why not be a Greek? Whats wrong with this mindset?
The problem with this mindset is that it denies the possibility of spirituality. We have to infuse all aspects of our being with spirit.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Don't turn to men- turn only to Hashem

From a Shiur by Babbi Brody, "Don't Despair"

Why did Reuven throw Yosef into a pit, which meant certain death, instead of letting him beg his brothers for mercy?

A person who asks people for salvation will never gain true salvation. Only the person who knows that the only source of salvation is Hashem will gain true salvation and become a Tzadik. Reuven wanted to be sure that Yosef did not lower himself before his brothers. Since Yosef had only Hashem to turn to he was forced to grow spiritually.

Our success is only from Hashem.

Chanukah: Revealing The Essence

From a Shiur By Shira Smiles

It appears that the greatest darkness is failing
to recognize the inherent greatness
contained within each of us. This mindset
cripples us and doesn’t allow us to develop
our true potential.
In Al Hanissim we say, “Rabim beyad
me’atim, the many into the hands of the few.”
The Macabees were few in number but they
pushed themselves to be the vehicle by
which Hashem saved the Jewish people.
There is a concept in the Torah, “Muat
machzik es hameruba. Something small can
hold something great.” In a sense we
personify this concept. We are puny, but we
posses an eternal soul, which is limitless. In
Kabala, the number eight signifies something
above nature. The eight days of Chanuka
have the power to help us escape our natural
confines. It is a time to break out of our mold
and recast ourselves into something different.
There is a special force in the air that whispers
to us, “Find a different dimension, improve,
spread your wings!”
The Chanuka lights contain a spark of the ohr
haganuz, the ethereal light that Hashem hid
away at Creation. We have to ask ourselves,
“What’s stopping me? What inside me is not
letting me grow?”
We are not simply lighting physical candles.
It’s a transformational moment. We are
igniting something within ourselves, and the
sparks of all our ancestors come to join us. It
is a sacred time to introspect, reflect, and
connect with Hashem. It is also an auspicious
time to give charity and to pray for Torah, good
middot, righteous children and blessing in the
home. May we merit to perceive the holiness
within us as reflected in our small, yet deeply
meaningful, Chanuka lights

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Feeding our spiritual void.

From Battle Plans by Rebbetzin Heller and Sara Yoheved Rigler

According to the Maharal, the spiritual void within each of us is part of the human condition. This spiritual void is different than biological lacks. For example, if you feel hungry because you haven't eaten for four or five hours, and then you eat dinner, your hunger is satiated. But if you feel hungry because you feel unloved or unappreciated, because you just lost your job or your best friend, and you eat dinner, you'll still feel hungry. You'll gobble down two desserts, and a half-hour later you'll be rummaging through the refrigerator again.

Before you eat that Donut-

Great Quote from a Meeting

You can take a cucumber and turn it into a pickle, but you can not turn a pickle into a cucumber.

Maybe you were a normal eater at one time, but now that you are a compulsive eater you can never go back to being a normal eater.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rebbetzin Heller on Spiritual Strength

From a Shiur by Rebbetzin Heller

Nobody gets to where they are without struggle, we give birth to ourselves again and again every day. Our challenges and our choices determine who we are and what we become. We are meant to allow the Godly soul to win the over the animal soul.

When you daven and your mind wanders, that is an example of your animal soul conquering your neshomah. A good way of understanding  the spiritual soul versus the animal soul, is to think to yourself that if this was your last day and your are going to be judged for everything you do and say, what would you do.
We live our lives in self created prisons, Hashem can do whatever he wants.

Our choices count.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Shira Smiles on Chanukah

Chanukah Inspiration from Shira Smiles


Reb Chaim Shmulevitz asked, "why do we focus most of our energy on the menorah and and oil, when it seems like the real nes is the victory of 13 over an army, which saved the Jewish people." He answers that the survival of the jewish people was nessesary for Hashem's plans to continue, but when Hashem saw the Ahavat Hashem burning in the Hashmoniam, he rewarded them with the "extra" miracle of the oil This was to show Hashem's love for them.

The message of Chanukah is that we need to continue this love ,devotion and passion for Hashem. Aharon Hacohen is the best example of this, for all the years that he lit the menorah he never lost his passion and excitment about lighting the menorah. Chanukah is a time to work on ourselves that we do not fall into the trap of taking things for granted. It is the time of the year when we celabrate our relationship with Hashem. when we are able to establish a loving relatinship with Hashem, to make it as personal as possible.

Chanukah is not about the latkes and donuts, it is a spiritual time to develop a closer relationship with Hashem.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nishmat Kol Chai

An online session of Hitbodedut (Personal Prayer)


This is a song written by Rabbi Brody set to a beautiful walk through the forrest.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rabbi Brody on Chanukah

The message of Chanuakkah is the lesson of the contamination of the oil. The oil is a symbol of the brain. If we purify our minds like the Macabees purified the oil we will be pure and the light of Chanukkah will shine today.

Hellenism is still around, it is the external influences that influence us today. We have to strengthen ourselves in even the smallest ways to make sure that we are pure.

We can not allow outside influences to change our behavior.

Rabbi Mordechai Aderet on Chanukkah

from Torah Anytime

The Ari says that every house has to have lights for Chanukkah. Even if you have to beg or borrow there is no excuse for not having Chanukkah lights. You have to have at least one light each night. The Ari says that the last day of Chanukkah is like the conclusion of the Yamim Noraim. That Hashem gives us another chance to get a better judgement for the rest of the year. This is based on how we keep Chanukkah. We have to behave with Emunah Shalamah, we can't just say B'Ezras Hashem, we have to mean it.
The Koach of the Machabees was that they were willing to fight for Hashem and the Torah against seemingly impossible odds. The Macabees didn't just send the Greeks out, they saved our Neshamahs.

We have to be willing to fight for Hashem no matter how hard the battle seems.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why did Chava Sin?

from a Shiur by Rebbeztin Heller


Why did the snake approach Chavah? The snake knew that it would be easier to influence Chavah. He told her that everything desirable is forbidden. Adam and Chavah choose autonomy and pleasure over Hashem's will.

We know that it is not true that everything desirable is forbidden. We should not allow the "snake" to talk to us. We should choose Hashem's will over autonomy and pleasure. It is Hashem's will that we should be healthy.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An amazing insight from Carl Jung on spirituality

Part of a Letter to Bill Wilson (one of the founders of AA)
from Dr.Carl Jung
from http://www.thejaywalker.com/pages/jung_ltr.html

I am strongly convinced that the evil principle prevailing in this world leads the unrecognized spiritual need into perdition, if it is not counteracted either by real religious insight or by the protective wall of human community. An ordinary man, not protected by an action from above and isolated in society, cannot resist the power of evil, which is called very aptly the Devil. But the use of such words arouses so many mistakes that one can only keep aloof from them as much as possible.

These are the reasons why I could not give a full and sufficient explanation to Roland H., but I am risking it with you because I conclude from your very decent and honest letter that you have acquired a point of view above the misleading platitudes one usually hears about alcoholism.

You see, "alcohol" in Latin is "spiritus" and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum.

Dvar Torah from Tonights Meeting 12/2/09

The Iggeres HaRamban says:
"Review your actions in the morning and in the evening, and in this way all your days will contain repentance."

The Tenth Step Says (L'Havdil):
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

Every meal when we sit down to eat we should review what we did that day from the last meal until this one and we will be doing Teshuva on a constant basis.

I took this picture at the top of Bear Mountain with my cell phone.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What is happiness?

From "For Today" Dec 1

All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple frugal heart. Nikos kazantzakis

Who is rich, he that is happy with what he has. Pirke Avos

Monday, November 30, 2009

Depression means climbing into bed with a bar of chocolate

From a Shiur by Rebbetzin Heller

Depression means climbing into bed with a bar of chocolate.

Bitterness is like drinking some tea that someone put in salt instead of sugar, you would spit it out.

When you face problems that bother you, use the tool of bitterness and not the tool of chocolate(I mean depression).

Shira Smiles on Parshat Vayishlach

From a Shiur by Shira Smiles on Parshat Vayishlach

Kever Rochel represents the place of concealment from Hashem's ultimate goodness. In Kever Rochel even Hashem hides this truth from himself so that he can cry with us. Kever Leah reprsents the place where we can see with clarity that everthing Hashem does is for the good. Our job is to "visit" both. To cry for the Shecinah in Golus, but also to bask in the knowlege that everything is for the best.

Yes we live in a world with pain and tears, but it is also a place of Geulah.

We have to face all of our challenges with this approach.

A person's cure can come from his food.

From "For Today" Nov 30

Chance is the pseudonym of God when He did not want to sign. Anatole France

I was shopping in the market and I gave someone some money and he gave me some Breslov pamphlets. I put them aside to look at, and forgot them. I am lying in bed recovering from the flu and noticed one called "Get Well Soon". It was almost worth being sick just to bring me to read this pamphlet. The following is worth its weight in gold:

page 17- "get well soon"

A person's cure can come from his food. We see this in the verse, "Your food and water will be blessed and Hashem will remove disease from you midst" Ex 23.
When a person prays to Hashem then Hashem gives this person's food curative power so that he is healed and doesn't need any more medicine......
But when a person accustoms himself to pray to God, he can reach the point where he will be cured from disease by bread and water alone, and then all medicine is superfluous. The food he eats may also cure diseases within him of which he is unaware. This is because the power of prayer draws upon a person a special blessing from Hashem, making it unnecessary to rely on man made remedies.

How many people on OA report no longer needing many routine medicines? Is it really just the weight loss, or is it our closer connection to Hashem.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nobody knows what the door is going to open to tomorrow.

From a Shiur by Rebbetzin Heller
"To Worry or Not to Worry"
from Aish MP3

Rambam says that no one knows what is going to come in with the new day. We would all like to think that our lives will be without challenges and without difficulties. Our live can be lives of Simcha, but nobody has a life without difficulty. So how do we know what will happen when difficulties happen? What determines this is our relationship to the past and the present. You can not get out of your past by yourself. You have to ask Hashem to Help you.

We have to worry if our choices are right. If we make decisions without thinking them through very carefully we are liable to make a mistake.

Another worry that we have to have is are we the person that we are supposed to be. Did we use the potential that Hashem gave us.

Another worry that we have to have is did we cause quarrelling. The reason that we are tempted to start quarrels is our desire for truth. The way to do this is to respect the person if you do not agree with the persons opinion.

The ultimate way of losing our self is to focus on taking not giving. Something like taking a pen from work is worse then stealing something major because we will never do Teshuvah.

The first step in seeing goodness and wholeness is to at least not belittle.

When we confront bad we have to use it to reflect on how to become better and what message is this sending me. Then we have to personalize it.

All of our worries can be contained in one, Golus Haschichnah. The more that our hearts are involved in this worry the less we worry about the rest. We have to be open to wherever Hashem takes us because we never know what is going to help us bring out the best in ourselves. We have to be open to all opportunities.

Lets say you are having a lecture in a half an hour and the chairs did not come. You are beside yourself with worry. Now lets say that there is someone else who is responsible for the chairs, Evelyn. Its not your problem its Evelyn. Make Hashem your Evelyn for all of your problems. They are not your problems, they are Hashem's problem.

One of my biggest fears now is losing my abstinence. Like many others I dream about it all the time. This is a powerful tool for facing that fear, and many others.

"Abraham did not live to fill his stomach-he lived for truth."

From a Shiur on Aish MP3
"Discovering God Beyond Yourself"
by Rav Yitzchack Berkowitz

Rabbi Berkowitz discusses the different ways of accomplishing something. He asks, do you want practicality or do you want truth? He says that sometimes we are so focused on the practical goal that we forget the side benefits that we can get by doing something properly.

We tend to think that the less that we give the more that you have. But that is not what we live for-we live to give, and to connect with Hashem. Abrahams road to truth started with gratitude and selflessness. He taught the world that what is true and what is practical are two different things.

You don't hate yourself for having weakness, don't hate others for it either.

We are so subjective that we can only find truth if we are open ourselves to other's reality. To be sensitive to other people.

There has never been a Gadol B'Yisrael who was not a Gadol in loving his fellow Jew and caring. The road to truth is chesed. The road to God is Bein Adam L'Chaveiro.

There is so much here that applies to so many aspects of the program that I am going to let it speak for itself.

Watch Those Thoughts!

The Nature of Thought

The Baal Shem Tov taught, “A person is where his mind is” (Keter Shem Tov 56). The first thing is to be aware. Cease to take the mind and its designs for granted. It shouldn’t be left alone on “automatic.” Monitor everything that goes through the mind. We see how careful people are to keep their doors locked in order to make sure that no one steals, intrudes, or disturbs their home. How much more so should one keep a lock on the mind to prevent its attention from being stolen away to vanity, to keep bad ideas from intruding, to stop negativity from disturbing it.

From Rabbi Perets Auerbach’s “The Science, Art and Heart of Hitbodedut.” Explantory notes have been omitted from this online version. This work-in-progress may be purchased by contacting the author by email: peretsz@gmail.com. We thank Rabbi Auerbach for permitting us to present this and other excerpts from his writings here.

From the Blog- Solitude

A simple thought-- the more I stay out of the kitchen the better

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Poor Me Syndrome

From an article in the Breslov Israel web site about Reb Shalom Arush's New Book "Chacmot Nashim"


Main issue number one: I was always feeling sorry for myself, and a bit ‘down’. I felt I had good reason to be, because of the issues having more kids, and the social isolation I felt that was causing.

Boy, was I wrong. Rav Arush writes a whole chapter about gratitude, and about how the main thing in life is to be grateful to Hashem for all the blessings He gives us. The trouble is, it’s much easier said than done. I’ve been trying, I really have, to just be grateful. But all my gratitude was always tinged with ‘poor me!’

In the book, Rav Arush suggests keeping a little exercise book, which you write down all the things to be grateful for. I started doing that a few days’ ago, and I’m already up to 150 things – I’ll write more about this another time, as it’s been extremely useful and insightful, and I’m genuinely starting to feel a lot more grateful and happy.

One of the most eye opening things about starting the program was when I realized that a glitch was not just a mistake in the Plan of Eating, but indulding in a session of "poor me" As my sponsor calls it, a pity party.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Parshat Vayetzei -The Greatness of Rochel

From a Shiur by Shira Smiles on Parshat Vayetzei

Rochel gave over the signs to Leah, but she did it in a way that Leah did not even feel the sacrifice that Rochel made. Fourteen years later when Leah said to her, "Its not enough that you took my husband, you also want to take some of my son's Dudaim" Rochel could have said, "your husband, he was mine from the start" but she didn't.

Shira Smiles quotes Rav Pam was asks, "how can Hashem be both chesed and emet, when they seem to be opposite traits?" The answer is that when Hashem wants to do chesed for us but we are not deserving of it he gives us an opportunity to do chesed which makes us deserve what he wants to give us. By keeping quiet when Leah said that, Rochel earned the zechusim to have a child.

When we are facing a very difficult nisayon that makes us feel like eating, we should remember that Hashem is giving us an opportunity to earn Zechusim.

Wake UP!

From a Shiur by Rabbi Lazer Brody "Wake up"

If we do not spend time at the end of each day reviewing our deeds and doing Teshuvah, how will we remember everything that we need to do Teshuvah for on Yom Kippur.

Every thing that we did a Chesbon Hanefesh for at the end of the day, Hashem forgives us and wipes the slate Clean and we do not have to face the consequenses for these actions in the future.

STEP 10:
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Focus on Your Grateful list

From a Shiur by Rabbi Lazer Brody. "Kosher Humor".

One of the most powerful tools of the Yetzer Harah is to mach you focus on the bad instead of the good. Haman is a perfect example. He was not happy with everything that he had because Mordechai would not bow down to him.

That is why it is so impotant to focus on all of the things that we need to thank Hashem for.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Let go of your expectations-so that you have no resentments

One of my favorite quotes from the big book is:
Let go of your expectations-so that you have no resentments

I find this to be such a powerful thought that I have it hanging on my desk at work.

Today I was listening to a Shiur by Rabbi Lazer Brody, "Emunah with Love" and he said that the best barometer of our emunah is how much hate and resentment we have inside. If we have real emunah we will understand that everything comes from Hashem so that there is nothing to be angry about.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Parshat Toldos-Shira Smiles

From a Shiur by Shira Smiles on Toldos


Yakov came out holding Esav's heel to teach us that life is about struggle and growth. We have to grasp onto the good in life and hold on and grow. Yakov and Esav were twins, they had the same potential but Yakov didn't let go of growth, and Esav felt that he was "Asui" already made.

If we don't work hard to reach our goals we will not get there.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Don't let difficulty turn you away from something

More from the Shiur by Shira Smiles on Chayei Sara


When Rivkah went to draw water the water came up to her because of her kedushah. When she went to draw water for the camels, the water did not come up to her and she had to work hard to bring the water up.

We learn from this that sometimes when we do a mitzvah it becomes more difficult, not less. We should not allow this to keep us from completing what we started. We should understand that the difficulty is part of the growth process. Sometimes we are tempted to think that because it is difficult it is not meant to be, but we should not think like this. We have to know to persevere and keep trying and we will get even more reward.

Sometimes when we first start controlling our compulsive eating it is easy, in part because of the excitement of being in control. After awhile it seems to get more difficult, but we should not give up. This is part of the process.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Importance in the details

An interesting exchange of letters to and from Rabbi Lazer Brody about the importance of details. Next time I am putting back 3 grains of barley to make the weight perfect and I wonder about details this is a good thing to keep in mind.

Dear Rabbi,

Why does the Jewish religion seem to fuss over insignificant details? How much matza do we have to eat, which spoon did I use for milk and which for meat, what is the right way to tie my shoelaces? It seems to me that this misses the bigger picture by focusing on tiny trivia. Is this nitpicking what Jews call spirituality? I actually already sent you this question over a week ago and didn't receive a reply. Could it be that you have finally been asked a question that you can't answer?! Signed, Rob

Dear Rob,

I never claimed to have all the answers. There are many questions that are beyond me. But it happens to be that I sent a reply the same day despite the fact that I've been away from home on a rigorous speaking tour in the USA. The fact that you didn't receive it is itself the answer to your question. You see, I sent you a reply, but I wrote your email address leaving out the "dot" before the "com". I figured that you should still receive the email, because after all, it is only one little dot missing. I mean come on, it's not as if I wrote the wrong name or something drastic like that! Would anyone be so nitpicky as to differentiate between "yahoocom" and "yahoo.com"? No, it's not ridiculous. Because the dot is not just a dot. It represents something. That dot has meaning far beyond the pixels on the screen that form it. To me it may seem insignificant, but that is simply due to my ignorance of the ways of the web. All I know is that with the dot, the message gets to the right destination; without it, the message is lost to oblivion.

Torah observance and mitzva fulfillment contain a world of symbolism. And every dot counts. When the mitzvot are performed with precision, a spiritual vibration is emailed throughout the universe, all the way to G-d's inbox. If you want to understand the symbolism of the dot, study cyber tech. If you want to understand the symbolism of Judaism, study Torah. Yours always, LB

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Humility is the Key to recieving Torah

From a Shiur by Shira Smiles on Parshas Chayei Sara


When Eliezer came to look for a wife for Yitschak he brought tremendous riches and he could have been mistaken for Avraham. The first thing he said was, "I am Avrahmam's servant" We learn from this the importance of humility. He does not want praise that is undeserved. He clearly learned this from Avrahm. Rav Lugasi says that if you translate this into action you will have success. If you do not have humility, you will not have humility before Hashem, and you will not be able to grow.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dealing with Bad Thoughts

From a Shiur by Rebbetzin Heller


You may not be able to prevent a bad thought from entering your head, you do have the ability to decide if it is going to stay there or not.

Maybe this is why we don't discuss food in meetings.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Histadlus Vs Bitachon

Rabbi Lazer Brody from a Shiur "No Bad in the World"

Before you do something you have to do the best that you can, but after the fact you should see all results, good and bad, as coming from Hashem. Just like milk is Kosher on its own, and meat is also, it is traif if you mix them. You should never mix the two. Before the act you should never say, "It doesn't matter how hard I try because it is up to Hashem".

How hard we try is up to us, if we succeed is up to Hashem.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Another case of my learning matching my OA reading.

The reading in For Today is: I choose things that are lovely to put in my mind.

Last night Rabbi Brody said that the reason that the word B'Simcha (happiness) has the same hebrew letters as the word Machsava (thought)is that your happiness depends on your thoughts.

Filling Yourself with Good


BY Rebbitzin Heller and Sara Yoheved Rigler
page 42

The Maharal advocates filling the empty space with Torah and with acts of Kindness. How do these vanquish the yetzer Hara?

The Torah offers you goodness. People are mistaken when they think that learning Torah is a matter of acquiring information, like learning chemistry or medieval history. Rather, learning Torah is a process of actually acquiring goodness.

When the urge to eat compulsively comes on us, learning Torah fills us in ways that food can't.

The three second rule

From a Shiur by Rabbi Lazer Brody
Last night in Iselin NJ

When you feel tempted to do something wrong keep in mind that the Yetzer Harah has you in its grip for 3 seconds. Count to 3, visualise the letters of Hashem's name, and you will free yourself from the grip of the Yetzer Harah.

I am really grateful that I got a chance to hear Rabbi Brody live, for more of Rabbi Brody's wisdom go to.


Saturday, November 7, 2009


All of the pleasures of this world are like sunbeams in a dark room. They may seem solid, but when a person tries to grasp hold of a sunbeam, he finds nothing in his hand. The same is true of all worldly desires.

Rabbe Nachman of Breslov
Sichot Haran #6

We should keep this in mind when food tempts us.

Friday, November 6, 2009

OA Shabbaton

The OA Shabbaton this year is in early January.  For more information listen to the torah 12 steps.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Anyone can do chesed- Rebbetzin Heller

From Torah Anytime --Chesed in Turbulent Times - Rebbetzin Heller

These are not really turbulent times. Our great grandparents didn’t have to worry about going on a diet. We have less then we had, but we still have a lot.

Giving keeps us spiritually alive. It is like oxygen for the soul. Chesed , the Maharal says, is spreading forth of yourself. This means knowing yourself and believing that you have something to give. Chesed means giving what you are, not just what you have. Everybody has the ability to do this.

In OA we talk about service, service is chesed. Sometimes just by being who we are we can influence and do chesed for others.
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