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
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