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

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.
SPONSOR:  Sober Person Offering Newcomers Suggestions On Recovery

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hashem's Salvation in the Blink of an Eye-Mazel Tov Mazel Tov

In my wildest dreams I never would have imagined making 2 such amazing simchas in one week.  We made a Seudas Hodaas for a previously sick family member, and a L'Chaim for a child who is been in the Parsha for longer then we ever dreamed it would be.

There is no way that I can adequately express my Hakoras Hatov to Hashem for bringing me to this point.  I want to share with everyone that Tefila works.  Don't ever dispare.  Hashem can cause miracles.

Monday, April 2, 2012

“I don’t learn amidst suffering,” the Rosh Yeshiva replied. “I learn amidst joy!”

Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel refused to be enslaved by his debilitating disease:
“”Rav Nissan Kaplan related that after the Rosh Yeshiva passed away, he heard that a relative of the Rosh Yeshiva had testified that he never heard him complain about his disease. Rav Nissan was so surprised by this claim that he decided to verify it. When he visited Rav Nosson Tzvi’s children during the shivah, he asked each one whether they had ever heard Rav Nosson Tzvi complain – and each one said no!

Not only didn’t he complain, he didn’t even consider himself unfortunate. A student who had been struck by several tragedies in the span of a few months came to the Rosh Yeshiva for inspiration. “How does the Rosh Yeshiva learn amidst suffering?” he asked.
“I don’t learn amidst suffering,” the Rosh Yeshiva replied. “I learn amidst joy!”
from Aish.com

Monday, March 26, 2012

Watering the Garden of Gratitude


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The power of a nurturing relationship.

Try and remember the person that had the greatest influence on your life. Maybe it was a teacher, a relative, a grandparent, a spiritual guide or a military commander. Notice that this particular person had certain qualities that you adored, even though he or she wasn't always easy on you. Let's reconstruct those qualities and put them down on paper:

1. You had no doubt that this person categorically cared about you and only wanted the best for you.

2. This person believed in you completely, even when you failed to believe in yourself.

3. This person always seemed to know how you feel.

4. This person was a great listener.

from http://lazerbrody.typepad.com/lazer_beams/

When I read this I realized that this is a perfect description of a good sponsor.  This is one of the most powerful success tools of the 12 step program.  I am so grateful to Hashem for sending me a great sponsor.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My personal prayer while eating-it really helps.

When I am eating my weighed and measured meal, there is always a point when I look at my food and say, "Oh, no, there is not much left."  I try to use this as a reminder to daven for 3 things:
1) That Hashem should keep me abstinent until my next meal.
 2) That Hashem should make me satisfied from this meal, and
 3) That my food should be a Refuah. (I read in a Sefer by  Rabbi Nachman that our food can be a refuah.)

I have shared this with many people and they say that it helps them too, so I decided to post it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Put on a Happy face

Dry Bones cartoon: Purim, Holiday, Jewish Culture, Judaism, Jewish,

A Dvar Torah from Rabbi Katzenstein - Purim

What is Purim? In truth, many believe they know the answer to this question, but in actuality they don’t. To numerous people, Purim is an “everything goes” day, a day in which all limitations are removed and all restrictions are non-existent. They say whatever they want, and they do whatever they want. To others, Purim is simply a masquerade, with the most important feature being their costume. This, however, is far from the truth!
Chazal teach us that in the days of Moshiach, of all of the Yomim Tovim, Purim will be the one that remains, for Purim is a taste of “tomorrow.” What does this cryptic allusion to tomorrow mean?  ביום ההוא יהי' ה' אחד ושמו אחד, on that day HaShem will be One and His name will be One. Upon the arrival of Moshiach, all will recognize the Oneness of HaShem, all will be cognizant of the fact that it is He and only He that created and maintains all that is. It is this truth that will unite us as a nation, and the entire world, under the domain and dominion of HaShem. All of our differences will dissipate, and all of our diversity will seem petty, as we will comprehend and appreciate all that transpires is the will of HaShem. It is this feeling that is palpable on Purim. The togetherness and camaraderie is tangible. The friendship and togetherness is manifest. It is a glimpse of the much anticipated “tomorrow” that we anxiously await and long for.
Purim is a wonderful day filled with many mitzvos all sharing this common theme and fostering this feeling. Mishloach Manos conveys the idea that, if it were to be possible, we would all join at one tremendous communal seuda. Since we cannot, we send each other gifts of food, sharing our festive meal, relaying the reciprocal message to others that I wish you could be my guest. We give Matanos L’evyonim, expressing to the less fortunate, that as we are ready to dine royally, our feast would be incomplete knowing that our brother is lacking and needy.
The Gemora tells us that in contrast to Matan Torah, on Purim the Jewish people re-affirmed their commitment to HaShem and His Torah out of pure love. This love was an expression of sincere thanks for being miraculously saved from Haman and his cohorts and their diabolical plan to annihilate our nation. The Purim story represents of our myopic view of the world around us, the many times that we do not perceive the ways of HaShem. It is a sign of the ecstasy and excitement that exists when at the end we understand in hindsight the profundity of all that transpired.
May Purim enable us to feel the extraordinary love of HaShem, to shower others with our affection, and to merit such great days through the coming of Moshiach.
A Freilchen Purim!
Rabbi Katzenstein

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

At the Purim Seudah we are on a higher madregeh then at Neilah of Yom Kippur.

I went to a Shiur last night by Rebetzin Kalmonovitz last night  who said that at the Purim Seudah we are on a higher madregeh then at Neilah of Yom Kippur.  Hashem opens gates that are not open at any other time of the year.  Hashem forgives us for things that we did not do Teshuva for, and for things that we did intentionally, as long as we are filled with the Bitachon that everything that Hashem does is for the best (like in the story of Mordechai and Esther).  This is the reason for wanting to be in a state that we dont know the difference between Bless Mordechai and Curse Haman.  In the end, whatever happens is for our best, so even the seemingly bad is really a blessing.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gam Zu L'Tova on Purim

In our lives there is nothing good or bad, there is just sweet and bitter.  Since everything comes from Hashem, nothing is bad.  In the Purim Story, the things that made the situation seem the worst, were actually the root cause of the redemption.  This is the essence of Purim, looking at things in our lives that seem difficult and realizing that they were really for the best.

from A Shiur by Rabbi Berkowitz on Aish.com -Purim Perspectives

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Removing Illness from our midst.

"And You shall serve HaShem, your G-d, and He will bless your bread and your water, and I will remove illness from your midst,”  (Shemos 23, 25).

This verse clearly connects our physical sustenance and health to spiritual service. The commentator, Kli Yakar, identifies an inconsistency in the verse which teaches a beautiful lesson.  It begins in the plural, ועבדתם (And you[plural] will serve), and continues in the singular, לחמך (your[singular] bread).

He explains that all Jews are responsible for one another and therefore each individual’s bread won’t be blessed until all Jews are serving HaShem in unity. Hence the usage of “serving” in the plural tense and “your bread” in the singular.

This fundamental idea can be applied in all areas of our lives, particularly – as the verse openly states – to our eating and well-being.  We all have the responsibility to educate and encourage each other in proper health care and nutrition.  We can’t turn a blind eye toward unhealthy practices, such as poor eating habits and lack of any physical exercise.

from the Sovea newsletter

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Making a change in our lives.

There was a study of graduates of Harvard Business School.  They were asked upon graduation if they had specific goals for there future.  13% had goals, 3% had written goals.  Ten years later they found that those who had goals exceeded their goals by double.  Those who had written goals earned ten times what they had planned on making.  The only distinction between them and the rest of the class was that that set concrete goals and set out to meet them.

In our lives, if we want to change things and achieve things we should have written goals.  If we want to lose 20 pounds, it is not enough to say, "I am going to lose 20 pounds" You need to have a daily plan of what you are going to eat and how much you are going to exercise. 

 From a Shiur on Torah anytime:


These are his words, not mine. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What ropes are keeping us from attaining what we what to?

How is it  possible for a work elephant's owner to tie the elephant up at night when the elephant is so strong that it could destroy any shelter or rope that confines it.  The answer is:

To train elephants in India they start when they are young. They tie an Elephant to a tree with a chain. The young elephant tries and tries to get away but is not able to break the chain. They struggle and struggle to no avail. They soon learn they can not break the chain and therefore give up  the struggle. When they are older and much bigger the elephant feels something tied around his ankle and he will not struggle and believe they are stuck. An elephant trainer knows this and is then able to tie a full grown elephant to a tree with nothing but a rope. Even though its incredible strength would allow it to easily break the rope and be free. In their head they are bound, they are stuck and do not fight.

We have to look at our own lives and think to ourselves,"what do we want to accomplish that we are not doing? What nonsense is keeping me from achieving my goals?"

from the Shiur on Torah Anytime:

How many years did I want to become healthy but believe that it could not be done?  How many times did I wish that I could stop eating, but think that I couldn't.  Now that I am BH maintaining an 87 pound weight loss, I realize that it was just a thin rope holding me back.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cry No More by Yaakov Shweky-check out this inspiring video!

Maintenance-is it possible to stay the same?


Many years ago a Rav asked my husband if his wife is learning.  My husband told the Rav that I was too busy between Kids and working.  The Rav told my husband that there is a rule in spirituality that you are either going up or going down.  I started attending his class every week, with my husband's blessing. Since then I have logged many hours of learning weekly.

I used to think that the same rule applies for weight, you are either gaining or losing.  Then came OA and measured portions-the dreaded  Maintenance.  Unfortunately at a certain point  your body gets used to the food.  It often happens that you have to cut your food to stay the same weight.  I went to my doctor and showed him my food plan. He told me to cut out the ounce of oil that I add to my salad every day.  After about a month of no oil at all, I started to get sick.  After several months, I was getting sicker and sicker.  The doctors couldn't find a cause. Finally my GP said, "why don't you try putting oil back for a few days and see what happens".  Magic- I got better within a few days. Moral of the story-our bodies need some oil and there is a reason that our sponsors tell us to add oil to our diet.

New dilemma-how am I going to keep from gaining weight, what food should I cut out.
Revelation-instead of cutting calories in I can increase calories out.  Exercise.

In the last month I have made a point of riding my exercise bike enough to cover the added calories of the oil.  Amazing-not only did I not gain but I actually lost a pound. Yeah.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A plan of action


OA recently added a new tool, the plan of action. Basically it helps us to turn our good intentions into actions in areas of our lives other then food.  I have wanted to add exercise to my daily routine for a long time, but have not gotten around to it.  Now that I have made it a serious part of my plan of action, I am feeling much better.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


The only person you need to be accepted by is yourself, and you achieve this by bringing Hashem into our lives.  If our lives are focused on doing Hashem's will, we will be pleased with ourselves.  We have nothing to fear other than Hashem, becuase nothing is as real as Hashem.

from the Shiur on Naaleh:

Parshat Yitro: The Experience of Sinai
Teacher: Mrs. Shira Smiles Class: Added: February 07, 2012

Parsha For Our Lives 5772

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Keeping vigilant.

When I started the OA program, I had to learn to be honest with myself.  One of the things that I had to be honest about was that if I bite my nails on weekdays, I might not be able to stop myself from doing it on Shabbos.  I decided to make sure to keep  my nails polished so that I wouldn't bite them on Shabbos.  Now that I am on OA for 844 days (give or take a few minutes), I wanted to see if I needed to keep them polished.  For a few days everything was fine.  All of a sudden a nail broke and I wanted to "just even it out".  Before I knew it I was fighting to keep myself from biting my nails.  Back on went the polish.  I learned an important lesson from this.  Even when we think that we have conquered a bad habit, there are no guarantees out there.  We always have to stay vigilant, because the Yetzer Hara is stronger then we are.

In OA we learn that the tools are a protection of our abstinence.  You don't sit down and decide to break your diet, first you skip a meeting, then an outreach call, and before you know it your program is sliding down hill. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Life is a dream

It is brought down in the Talmud that the interpretation of a dream determines the reality of the dream.  If it is interpreted for good, it will be good.  Rabbi Label Lam says that our lives are life a dream.  If we interpret them for good, they will be good, and if we look at our lives in a negative way, that is the way they will be.

from this Shiur on Torah Anytime:


Thursday, January 26, 2012

The secret of happiness-from Rabbi Kirzner

Rabbi Label Lam says that he once heard Rabbi Kirzner say that the secret of happiness is  "expect nothing".    There is an oa saying, "An expectation is a planned resentment".  Rabbi Lam explains that while this might sound negative, it is really very positive.  It is saying that every little thing in your life should make you happy.


Monday, January 23, 2012

"I'm not different"

When Yakov struggled with the angel and won, he asked the angel what his name is and he refused to answer. Rabbi Wallerstein said that the angel's name (the Yetzer Hara) is, "I'm different". Everyone thinks that "I'm different, I can do what I want and get the results that I want"  But that is the trick of the Yetzer Hara, he wants us to think that we are different and we don't need the rules and regulations of the Torah.  If we want to grow in Yiras Shamayim we have to realize that we are not different.

from a Shiur on Torah anytime:


Thank you Hashem for a year without Yishuv Hadas.

In a Shiur by Shira Smiles on Parshat Viera she said that we have to thank Hashem for what we don't have, not just what we have.  She also spoke about the reason that the frogs were such a difficult Maka was that they robbed the Egyptians of their Yishuv Hadas.  In light of this I am trying to find a way of thanking Hashem for the fact that I have not had any Yishuv Hadas for almost a year now.

  I have a lot to be thankful for in the past year, Health Insurance, warm and caring family members and doctors who helped me through a difficult time, modern medicine which makes major problems livable in the long term, and so much more.  But Yishuv Hadas was not there.  The longer that I think about this whole year, I feel that the biggest message that I can take out of it is that Hashem runs the world not me.  While this may seem obvious, it is a hard message to internalize.  I kept thinking that if I called one more doctor, or looked up one more thing on the internet, I would find an easy solution.  There are no easy answers.  Hashem is the final address for all of our problems.  To paraphrase Rabbi Weinberg from Aish,  we turn to Hashem for the answers to our problems, but we forget that Hashem gave us these problems to cause us to turn to him.

Therefore, I am thanking Hashem for my difficult year, with no Yishuv Hadas, because it helped me to internalize the fact that I can do and do and do.  But if Hashem does not want things to go well they won't. The opposite is also true.  I can make tremendous efforts to solve a problem, only to come up with a blank wall, and then I can turn around and find the solution fall into my lap through no effort of my own.

The biggest cost of my difficult year has been this blog.  Without Yishuv Hadas I was not able to post much. I am trying to get back to it, and I greatly appreciate all of the help that everyone has given me, in the past, and I hope to bring my blog back to it's former self.
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