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August 2019

If You Live it, You Can Give it

Live it give it 22.8.19
Now that America and Israel are back in sync as far as weekly Torah portions are concerned, we're happy to offer our readers some nutrition for the soul with a lesson from this week's portion Ekev:

It's a no-brainer that a parent smoking a cigarette can't tell a child not to smoke. A junk-food, sugar addict parent can't tell his/her child to eat healthy. A parent who perpetually breaks traffic laws can't tell his/her son or daughter to drive safely. The youth of this generation - rightfully so - despise hypocrisy. 

We read in this week's Torah portion, "You shall teach them to your children to talk about them, while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you lie down and when you arise." (Deuteronomy 11:19).

The Torah commands us to teach our children to "talk about them" – them, the words of Torah - constantly. We would think that the command should say, 'you shall teach them to your children to talk about them, while they sit in your home, while they walk on the way, when they lie down,' and so forth. This is the seemingly logical way of teaching our children to live a life of Torah values, by speaking about and internalizing Torah and its teachings from morning to night, in everything they do. Yet, surprisingly, the Torah instructs the parent to teach them to discuss Torah while he or she sits in the home, walks on the way, and the like. What's the message that the Torah is conveying here?

The Torah is telling the parent that education is not preaching – it's personal example. A child's innate sense of justice cannot stand hypocrisy and inconsistency. A parent who preaches one thing yet practices otherwise is guaranteed to obtain the opposite results.

In simple English, if you live it, you can give it: if you don't live it, you can't give it. Therefore, before a parent educates his child, he must educate himself.

The principle of "live it to give it" is evident in the above-cited passage. Hashem is telling us that the best way to teach our children to be immersed in Torah is when we ourselves are immersed in Torah. The Torah is saying, "while you sit in your home" and the subject of your discussion is Bava Kama and not the New York Times or WhatsApp, then you won't even have to tell your son to pick up a Gemara. When he sees that the Bava Kama is much more important to Daddy than the newspapers, he'll want to learn Bava Kama too.

The same goes for Mom and her daughters. When mom's Friday mornings are devoted to distributing challas that she baked to poor families, her daughter will undoubtedly follow in her footsteps and engage in acts of lovingkindness as well. But, when Mom's prime-time Friday mornings are devoted to the make-up specialists and clothes shopping, then the daughter will conclude from Mom's personal example that nothing in the world is more important than the latest fashion and the eye-shadow with the glittering sparkles, none of which have anything to do with modesty, holiness or serving Hashem. Maybe the daughter will be "Orthodox", but her head certainly won't be in spiritual endeavors and charitable deeds. Because of her material demands, her husband won't be able to devote much time to learning Torah, for he'll be chasing dollars...

Children have highest regard for parents, their chief role-models. As our sages teach, the deeds of parents are stepping stones for the children. If you live it, you can give it! Blessings for a lovely Shabbat! Yours always, LB


Practical Kabbalah: The Key to Successful Relationships

Many people mistakenly think that Kabbalah is exclusively for people who are rolling their eyes and floating on clouds. Not true! As you'll see in the Kabbalah lessons we hope to present periodically, the lessons of Kabbalah are ever so practical. Since Kabbalah is essentially the Divine blueprint of creation, its wisdom exemplifies profound lessons that we can use to learn more about ourselves and how to live our lives in the best possible manner.

Today, we'll learn the concept of "light and vessel", known in Hebrew as or v'kli. To better understand this concept, we relate a story from the Gemara in Tractate Taanit. This is the key to success to establishing successful relationships, whether it's finding your soulmate or picking a best friend. We hope you enjoy it and find it both beneficial and enlightening:

The Key to Successful Relationships from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


Go for the Endorphins

Endorphin Break
We all know how to function in a favorable environment, when everything is progressing the way we want it to. Yet, few of us know how to function in a hostile climate, when nothing seems to go the way we want it to.

Why do we find ourselves so often in the hostile climate, rather than in the favorable climate?

The Creator wants us to be our best. No one ever made character, physical or spiritual growth and gains by eating chocolate ice-cream. Coping with difficulties make us great. That's why we must learn how to function when things are not going our way. These are the stress situations in life, and we all have plenty of them. So what do we do?

Many people reach for pills, liquor, tobacco or any number of other substances as stress relievers. Others check out of the painful reality and turn to social media, a movie or a TV show. None of these help us cope.

I have a better suggestion: why not try a biochemical that the body produces? It's a feel-good hormone called endorphin and it won't cost you a cent. Endorphins have three great affects:

They reduce pain;

They decrease fatigue;

They give you a positive attitude.

The above three benefits enable our brains to function much more efficiently. Once the endorphins start to flow, the stress and anxiety of a few minutes ago no longer look like the end of the world. The brain kicks into positive mode.

The double-great news is that you don't need a prescription for endorphins and they won't cost you a thing. What could be better? The Creator implanted a built-in pharmacy in our endocrine system. Endorphins are also wonderful in that they don't cause addiction or dependence.

So how do you get a good dose of endorphins? A 30-minute workout will do the trick.

"I don't have 30 minutes!" you might be saying. OK, I'll give you a big discount. Try five minutes.

Do things at your own level. Start with simply high-stepping or jogging in place, stretching and loosening up your body. It's easy. Then try pushups; after, continue with planks. Add a few body squats and finish off with some more jogging in place and stretching. Make sure you've had 5 minutes of nonstop activity. This beats a coffee break any day of the week…

This will definitely work for you too - guaranteed. Blessings for your good health, LB


Five Vital Questions to Ask Your Physician

5 Questions Physician
One of my main tasks as a health coach is to refer people to the proper medical professional to attain more specialized care for their health issue, whether it's a cardiac problem, diabetes, or any other chronic ailment. As a health coach, my job is to keep healthy people healthy, or even healthier, and to help ailing people to find the best proper treatment.

It's not enough that you find the right physician. It's imperative to ask that physician the right questions. Here are the five most vital questions one needs to ask, not only in relieving the chronic condition, but in improving overall health:

  1. Should I lose weight, maintain my weight or gain weight?
  2. What are the foods I need to eat and what must I avoid?
  3. What is the best type of exercise for me, including recommended frequency and intensity?
  4. Should I limit alcohol, caffeine, or anything else from my diet?
  5. How does stress affect my particular situation and how can I avoid it?

Any treatment or medications that ignore the vitally-needed answers to the above questions will be only partial at best in its effectiveness. Yet, by rectifying diet, exercise, weight control and stress, one will not only improve his or her quality of life but in many cases, overcome the health challenge altogether.

What's more, don't ever forget Who the real Healer is. Prayer, charity and good deeds always help. G-d willing, we hope to do a separate post soon in the vital questions to ask your rabbi or spiritual guide in coping with any health ailment.

At any rate, when choosing the right physician, keep in mind that if he or she does not exercise or lives an unhealthy lifestyle, they in all likelihood won't be able to help you live a healthy lifestyle. Health professionals should be role models and should be living a healthy lifestyle. If they don't, proceed with caution.

One important note - before a fast day like Tisha B'Av or Yom Kippur, if you have a health issue, consult your physician - then your rabbi - before you fast. Meanwhile, have a wonderful Shabbat and a meaningful and easy Tisha B'Av fast. Every blessing, LB


Tips for a Safe and Healthy Fast Day

Bayit Shlishi 6.8.19

Above image - dreaming of the Holy Temple, which we all lament for on the fast day of Tisha B'Av

This year, Tisha B'Av - the day of the worst calamities that befell the Jewish people - falls on sundown, August 10, and continues until the stars appear on Sunday evening, August 11, 2019.

Since this is a fast day during the year's warmest weather, it's a challenge. A person could be especially susceptible to headaches, extreme weakness, dehydration and hypoglycemia, when blood-sugar levels fall dangerously low. With a few precautions and proper preparation for the fast, the dangers can be avoided and the fast can actually be safe and healthy.

Before the fast:

  1. Beginning with Friday morning, 36 hours before the fast, try drinking a glass of water every hour.
  2. On Thursday night and Friday, eat salty foods (this is no mistake!) such as pickles, olives and goat cheese. These are all the foods that people with edema avoid, for they help retain fluid and therefore prevent dehydration. To avoid thirst, stop eating these foods on the day that the fast begins, namely all day Shabbat (Saturday).
  3. Avoid sugary and starchy foods this Shabbat, for they have a high glycemic index (GI) and therefore cause a deeper GI Levelsplunge in blood sugar levels shortly after eating (see adjacent graphic).
  4. Eat plenty of good quality protein - eggs, fish and high quality pasture-fed (organic, if available) beef and poultry - protein is satiating and will provide slow-release energy during the fast, since they are complex food stuffs that require longer time to digest.
  5. Stay away from coffee and caffeine for 24 hours before the beginning of the fast. Drink herb tea instead.
  6. My favorite rule of thumb is to focus on eating foods that are as unprocessed as possible, not only making the coming fast easier and healthier but promoting better blood sugar balance and better digestion, both of which lead to better weight control. 

After the fast:

Be careful, for after the fast, your blood sugar levels are at their lowest. The worst thing you can do (a cardinal nutrition sin that many congregations commit) is to dive into the coke, fruit juices and pastries the moment the fast is over. This drives blood sugar through the roof and creates a shock to the body; this could actually trigger diabetes, Heaven forbid. What's more, drastic rises and falls in blood sugar cause headaches, nausea and fatigue. In order to avoid this, takes the following precautions:

  1. Break your fast with a glass of ice-water and high-fiber foods such as celery sticks or whole grain/bran crackers.
  2. Add to the above a portion of protein, such as cottage cheese or goat cheese, which will also slow the rise of your blood sugar level.
  3. Avoid all sugary substances, soft drinks, fruit juices, cakes and pastries - these are downright dangerous at the end of a fast.
  4. Drink at least 2 glasses of water an hour for the first 4 hours after the fast. This will replenish the body's fluids and slow the increase of blood sugar levels.
  5. Don't eat a heavier meal until at least an hour after breaking your fast in the above manner; preferably, do some light exercise (like a 30-minute walk) before having a heavier meal.

Feel free to pass the above advice along to friends and family. Even better, send them this link so that they can subscribe to our weekly newsletter. We have no doubt that the above tips will not only make your fast more bearable, but safe and healthy as well! Every blessing, and may we soon see our rebuilt Holy Temple in Jerusalem, speedy and in our day, amen!


Lazer's 18 Favorite and Most-Effective Conditioning and Weight-Loss Tactics

18 Tactics 5.8
You got it! You'll never hear me speak about losing weight without getting into shape. They must be simultaneous in order to be healthy, for weight loss without conditioning is liable to be damaging, as we've written several times previously. I have found that the more my clients taste success, the more motivated they become; the more motivated they become, the more efficiently they improve their fitness, reach their weight goals and vastly improve the way they feel. Try these 18 tactics - all or a segment of them - and you'll succeed too.

  1. Eat veggies and protein for breakfast - to build muscle, you need adequate protein. Try an omelette, a chunk of baked salmon or sardines with a green salad that includes leafy veggies and celery. Whereas the cornflakes breakfast leaves you starving by 10 AM, the veggie and protein breakfast will have you satiated well past noon. What's more, good morning fuel boosts metabolism.
  2. Brush your teeth after every meal - it's great for your dental health and curbs appetite.
  3. Cut out both sugary drinks and fruit juices - they add loads of carbs and calories that are the #1 enemy to weight loss.
  4. In continuation of #3 (above), drink plenty of water; cold water especially causes your body to burn calories in order to maintain your 98.6F body temperature, so don't spare the ice.
  5. Lift heavy weights - incorporate resistance training into your workout routine; this can also be such bodyweight exercises as pushups and squats. The more you build muscle mass, the more you increase your metabolism.
  6. Move more - walk (30 min./day at least, 5 days a week) as much as you can; climb stairs rather than using the elevator (super cardio!), and carry packages home from the store. Be imaginative!
  7. Cut out all white sugar and use only natural sweeteners such as dates and unprocessed honey, sparingly as well.
  8. Substitute all white flour for whole grain flour and whole grain foods - spelt (the king!), whole wheat, oat, rye and barley.
  9. Don't purchase manufactured foods - they're full of substances that the body doesn't know how to process and digest; as a result, the inhibit weight loss.
  10. Cook and eat at home rather than eating at restaurants - you'll be improving your health and saving tons of money.
  11. Maker realistic goals that you can reach, then set the bar higher.
  12. Give yourself incentives - as you reach your interim goals, buy yourself new workout shoes, a new clothing article or a new piece of workout equipment.
  13. Get a fitness watch - such devices as the Fitbit Charge 3 (my favorite) or Inspire motivate you to walk, workout and log weight, giving you constant positive reinforcement.
  14. Track your activity - keep an exercise and weight log, and monitor your progress.
  15. Have a weekly cheat day - on Shabbat, eat what you like and enjoy, then go right back on regiment the next morning. But, don't go crazy and keep white sugar off the cheat list.
  16. Drink coffee - despite what people tell you, natural ground coffee (best to buy beans and grind your own) coffee has been shown recently to help you live longer, protect your liver, and even ward off diabetes. It also curbs appetite.
  17. Improve posture - by sitting up straight, walking and standing taller, you engage your core and burn more calories, so be conscious of your posture and don't slouch.
  18. Vary your workouts - do different types of exercise on different days, and keep yourself motivated and interested.

That's my "Chai" (18) for good health. Give it a go and let us know your progress. Feel free to send us your success stories. My blessings for your great health and warmest regards, LB


Hannah's Prayer

This is a vital message for everyone, but especially for women, telling about their two prodigious powers - faith and prayer. Despite all the righteous men in our history, we learn the proper and best way to pray from a woman - Hannah - the mother of the Prophet Samuel. This is encouraging and enlightening, especially during the Nine Days. Enjoy it and have a wonderful new month of Av and a great Shabbat and weekend...

Hannah's Prayer from lazerbrody on Vimeo.