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August 2019

September 2019

Overweight, Lustful Eating and Self-Image

Overeating 16.9.19
Let's define "lustful eating": lustful eating means that we eat when we don't need to, either out of boredom, compulsion, as a means of trying to console ourselves or as source of recreation, when we strive to satiate our bodily appetites with no regard to our spiritual and physical health. Lustful eating is the opposite of healthy eating. The three main types of lustful eating are eating unhealthy foods, overeating and binge eating. Lustful eating is not only detrimental to the body, but to the soul as well, as we'll soon see.

According to the Rambam, lustful eating the #1 cause of all disease, even the nasty big C, the disease that won’t don’t even like to mention by name. Lustful eating also creates an iron curtain between a person and Hashem. So, a person can’t possibly get close to Hashem until he or she overcomes their lust for eating. These are not my words, but the words of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev.

Western society’s preoccupation with pleasure seeking and appetite fulfillment is fertile ground for lustful eating, but it's not the root of it. The root, as many psychotherapists will tell you, is a low self-image. A person who can't see his or her own self worth will suffer from being overweight and out of shape, but they won't go past a mere one-time paltry effort because they don't believe that they are capable of succeeding in getting into shape. I see this time and again in my clients; just as important as teaching them healthy eating habits and exercise, I work with them on their self image. Nine out of ten people with weight and fitness problems, in my experience, had or have an abusive parent who robbed them of their feeling of self worth from a tender age. Let's go deeper. 

In Likutei Moharan, Part 1,Torah 47, Rebbe Nachman says: “One who is entrenched in the lust for eating is far from the truth, and severe judgments hover over him."  

The lustful eater encounters Rebbe Nachman's above teaching and protests vehemently: "What, is Rebbe Nachman calling me a liar, just because I'm into the cookie jar more than I should be or just because I down a pizza with a couple cans of cola?" Cherished friend, if you eat like that, you can't possibly care too much about yourself. What's even worse is that you're unaware how much Hashem cares about you, loves you and wants to be healthy. What's worse yet is that you don't believe how much Hashem cares about you, loves you and wants to be healthy. Sorry, but in that respect, the lustful eater is far from the truth.

Hashem loves you - guaranteed - and He wants you to love yourself. All the negative comments that the abusive person in your life made when you were little were the biggest lies in the world. Tell yourself over and over how much Hashem loves you; say it to yourself a thousand times a day. Once you internalize it, the distance between you and looking and feeling your best is much much shorter. Hashem loves you - I promise. G-d bless for your good health!


A Spiritual Solution for Strong Bones

Spiritual Calcium
The same principles that apply to the material world apply to the spiritual world, as we see in this week's Torah portion, Ki Tetze.

"…and you were tired and exhausted and did not fear G-d." (Deuteronomy 25:18).

The Torah doesn't waste a single letter, much less a single word. So why is the Torah seemingly repetitious in the above passage when it says "tired and exhausted"? Wouldn't one description of fatigue have been sufficient here?

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches (Likutei Moharan I:67.8) that when a person prays without intent in his heart, he arrives to a state of "soul fatigue", when the slightest spiritual tasks seem to be heavy burdens. This tiredness of the soul causes a weakening of the bones.

In fact, virtually all of our physical problems stem from spiritual problems. Your nutritionist and your osteopathic surgeon may be baffled at your bone problems, especially if you eat naturally and consume a lot of calcium. This is the very reason why a truly holistic health coach must be abreast in the health of your soul as well as in the health of your body, as Rebbe Nachman reveals to us.

The remedy for this soul fatigue is to pray with such fervor and intent to the extent that he can feel the prayer in all his bones, as it is written, "All my bones shall say, Hashem, who is like You?" (Psalm 35:10). Such prayer, explains Rebbe Nachman, revives the soul and thereby solves the problem of soul-fatigue. In addition, it adds vitality to the bones.

Simply speaking, prayer with strong intent is spiritual calcium.

With Rebbe Nachman's teaching in mind, we can now understand the above passage much better. The two adjectives "tired and exhausted" are by no means superfluous. Whereas "exhausted" indicates physical fatigue, "tired" comes to describe a tiredness of the soul, or soul fatigue. We can also readily understand what the Midrash teaches, that the spiritually-weak lagged behind and outside the protective Cloud of Glory and therefore became easy prey for Amalek, because they had bad cases of spiritual osteoporosis.

A person's physical fatigue frequently stems from spiritual fatigue. One doesn't tire when he or she is doing something that they truly enjoy. To go a step further, the lack of desire that leads to spiritual fatigue also leads to sadness and depression. Wherever there are sadness and depression, the Divine Presence takes leave. In spirituality, there is no void. When the Divine Presence leaves, Amalek and the forces of evil descend on a person and overcome him immediately.

According to Rebbe Nachman's advice, there's a remedy for soul-fatigue, a way for one to rescue himself from the clutches of Amalek, the evil inclination, sadness and depression, which all go together since negative emotions stem from the evil inclination. How? A person should simply begin to pray with enthusiasm and with heartfelt intent until he can feel the warmth of the prayer in his entire body. If there's no "heart" in the prayer, and it's lip-service alone, then on a spiritual plane, one's heart becomes distanced from one's soul, a phenomenon that causes soul-fatigue. Under the principle of "divide and conquer", the more one's heart and soul are separated, the greater the soul-fatigue and the easier it is for the evil inclination - "Amalek" - to attack and subdue a person.

The good news is that anyone can rescue himself from Amalek and from soul-fatigue. Let him start by reciting one of his daily blessings with joy and enthusiasm. Imagine how miserable life would be without eyes; now, recite pokeach ivrim with all the joy in the world. Thank G-d, if you're reading this, you haves eyes! How fortunate you are to have such a wonderful gift from Hashem. Imagine how embarrassing life would be if you had to walk around all day long wearing a dusty burlap sack with holes for the head and the arms and nothing more. Now, get dressed and recite malbish arumim with such fervor and happiness, really thanking Hashem from the bottom of your heart.Try it - you'll feel better in an instant. This is the way we should approach all of our prayers - observing our blessings, taking nothing for granted and showing our gratitude with enthusiasm. This is the basis of the type of fervent, enthusiastic prayer that not only adds energy to our souls but cures our bones. Try it and have a lovely Shabbat!


7-Minute Exercise Routine for Total Beginners

7-Minute Exercise Routine for Beginners from lazerbrody on Vimeo.

Today is your last day for excuses that you can't exercise, or you're too out of shape, or two old, or whatever. This is the routine that I give to my beginning diet and conditioning clients, which anyone can do on their own level. In seven short minutes, you'll fuel your metabolism to the point that your body will burn more calories long after you complete this exercise. What's more, the "endorphins" - the "feel-good hormones" that result from exercise, begin to flow after 7 minutes of exercise. Here's the routine:

Minute #1 - Warmup - 30 seconds of neck circles (15 seconds in each direction) followed by 30 seconds of arm circles (15 seconds in each direction)

Minute #2 - Warmup - 30 seconds of seal claps followed by 30 seconds of hula hoops (15 seconds in each direction)

Minute #3 - Cardio - 60 seconds of marching, stepping as high as is comfortable for you

Minute #4 - Strength - 60 seconds of curl & press, with dumbbells or any other weighted objects you have at home, like bottles of water

Minute #5 - Flexibility - 60 seconds of side lunges

Minute #6 - Combining cardio with strength and flexibility - 60 seconds of squats

Minute #7 - Cooldown, hug yourself while bending down, followed by a big upward stretch and thanks to the Almighty!

Do this every day, and wait and see how good you feel! G-d bless for great health, LB


Bouncing Back from a Setback

Winner's Code 9.9
Sure, it really hurts. You lost the match. Maybe you just now flunked your driving exam. Or maybe you just received a rejection letter from the school, job or marital prospect of your choice. Anyone hurts all over from a setback that's natural and expected. Remember, we're flesh and blood…

The good news is that there's no law that one must stay down from a setback. Indeed, getting back on our feet requires far more strength of character than staying on our feet, without ever haven been knocked down. For that reason, King Solomon, the wisest individual who ever walked the face of the earth, said, "A righteous man falls seven times, and gets up again" (Proverbs 24:16). In other words, he doesn't merit the title "righteous" until he has fallen at least seven times.

Don't let a setback get you down. You can't have a comeback until you've had the setback. Don't forget too that even the halfback and the linebacker of the winning team are full of bruises and sore muscles.

Take five minutes and ponder the following five points – one point per minute. They'll put you back on your feet and give you the motivation and power to make your own fantastic comeback.

  1. Only doers fail. People who drive sometimes get traffic tickets. People who don't drive don't ever make wrong turns. Wouldn't it be ridiculous if an elderly person bragged that he never committed a traffic violation, if he never drove a car? The first consolation of a setback is the knowledge that you are a doer.
  2. Setbacks teach, and usually trigger a stronger second effort. Failure guards us against complacency and arrogance. When we fail, we realize that we need to improve. Oftentimes, a second effort is far superior to even a best first effort. Don't be angry with yourself; just try harder. Failure is like your soccer team losing a goal – the other team may have scored a point, but the game's not over! A setback helps us try harder and reach higher, thereby enabling us to fulfill a higher level of our potential. And, if you've failed that driving test, it simply means that with a few more lessons and additional practice, you'll be a much better driver on the road, for your own safety and for the safety of everyone else on the road.
  3. Setbacks strengthen faith. If we were constantly successful, we'd probably walk around with our noses in the air. Then, we'd be ugly, heaven forbid, because few things are uglier than arrogance. The Creator loves humility and wants us to realize that He is the source of both our setbacks and comebacks, failures and successes. He gives us a setback (yup, it's not your fault!) because He wants us to pray a lot harder and earnestly seek His assistance for our next effort. If our lives were a perfect string of successes, we'd almost certainly neglect our spiritual development.
  4. Experience is life's best teacher. The experience of a setback, especially a painful one, drives a lesson home immediately. Usually, we are slow in internalizing and implementing what we learn. After a setback, we have a golden opportunity to better ourselves immediately.
  5. Small-scale setbacks assures large-scale success. Where would an actor prefer to forget a line, in rehearsal or on stage? A failure in rehearsal often assures a better performance on stage, since the actor makes a special effort to polish the rough edges of his or her performance. Sometimes, small failures are none other than preparations for large successes. Rejections are Divine filters to keep you away from unwanted paths. Rejected? Don't be dejected. Something much better (job, soul-mate, etc.) is on the way.

Therefore:

Don't ever despair when you have a setback. Try harder, ask the Creator for help, and then be positive that you'll do much better the next time. Depression and despair stem from the dark, spiritually impure side, and prevent you from being happy. Despair perpetuates inner turmoil and creates a barrier between you and Divine light. With these five minutes of motivating ourselves, we now mobilize the strength within us to make a great comeback. It's the real deal. When we do, we usually discover that our second effort yields much better results and reveals potential that we didn't even know that we had. Remember, the setbacks all come from a loving Father in Heaven and they're all for our very best. Now smile, because it's all good. Yours always, LB


Finding Your Spiritual Guide

Spiritual guide 5.9.19
Here's a thought on this week's Torah portion, "Shoftim":

"A prophet from your midst, from your brethren, like me, shall Hashem your G-d establish for you; to him shall you heed..." (Deuteronomy 18:15).

How can we recognize the true prophet, the spiritual leader that the Torah refers to in the above passage?

The Torah itself asks, "How can we know the word that Hashem has not spoken?" (ibid 18:21). Even more perplexing is what Rashi says here, "Don't listen to him unless he's an expert for you and a known tzaddik like Elijah on Mount Carmel who sacrificed from a platform during the time that platforms were forbidden."

We're left with a perplexing question: how can a simple person possibly determine who is the genuinely righteous spiritual guide that he should listen to?

Two yeshiva boys who came from two different Chassidic groups were once arguing who is greater, A's rebbe or B's rebbe. Their debate became so vocal that the Mashgiach[1] of the Yeshiva overheard them. On the spot, he summoned both students. He asked young-man A, "Do you know how to say the Ata Chonantanu blessing[2] by heart?" Young-man A rattled off the blessing with ease, in one breath. The Mashgiach then turned to young-man B and asked, "Can you say the Vatodienu blessing by heart, the blessing that we say during Kiddush when Yom Tov comes out on Motza'ei Shabbat[3]?"

Young-man B's face flushed with embarrassment. He stuttered, made a few abortive attempts, but he couldn't recite the Vatodienu blessing by heart.

The Mashgiach consoled young-man B and said, "Don't be ashamed, because I don't even know how to recite the Vatodienu blessing by heart - in fact, I don't think that anyone does. Do you know why? We say the Ata Chonantanu blessing every single week on Motza'ei Shabbat, when Shabbat is over. As such, everyone knows how to differentiate between the holy and the mundane. Yet, we rarely say the Vatodienu blessing - sometimes an entire year or two can go by without having a Yom Tov fall right after Shabbat. In like manner, few of us can differentiate between holy and holy."

With an understanding smile, the Mashgiach turned to young-man A and said, "Your rabbi is your gateway to Heaven; he knows your soul, your talents and your unique qualities, your strengths and your weaknesses. But your learning partner's rabbi knows his. There is no one single spiritual expert and guide - each person has his according to the inclinations of his soul and Divine providence. Therefore, respect each other, and respect each other's rabbis. Both are holy."

The Mashgiach's analogy is alluded to in Rashi's above commentary, "an expert for you", for you in particular. Each righteous spiritual guide enjoys special Divine assistance for those who earnestly seek his help and advice. Since a truly righteous individual is accustomed to nullifying himself, he is sensitive to the needs of others. Still, we haven't answered our original question: How can a simple person possibly determine who is a genuinely righteous spiritual guide that he should heed?

The answer is simple: if the spiritual guide is capable of identifying a person's spiritual weaknesses, even if the latter individual doesn't know how to determine them on their own, then this is probably your "personal expert". This is what the above Torah passage hints at when it says, from your midst - Hashem helps the truly righteous spiritual guide to see a person's inner spiritual dimensions so that he can help that person get closer to Hashem. And, by virtue of his sensitivity to his students and to those who seek his help, he is able to identify what bothers them and provides them with the needed remedy to cure their aching souls. Also, one truly loves his or her "personal expert" even when he chastises them. So, if he scolds you and you still love him, listen to him, for that's your true spiritual guide, your "personal expert".

Blessings for a wonderful Shabbat and weekend, LB

[1]    Academic supervisor

[2]    The blessing made during the Shmona Esrei of Maariv on Saturday night, which is the blessing that thanks Hashem for differentiating between the holy and the mundane.

[3]    Saturday night


The Lesson of Rebbe Eliezer ben Yaacov

REBY 4.9.19Above: Rabbi Lazer praying in the hill overlooking the tomb above Rebbe Eliezer ben Yaacov's burial cave 

A great health-enhancing aid is to pray by the gravesites of our holy sages, and here in the Land of Israel, there are plenty of them. Yesterday on my way up north to Tzfat, I stopped by the holy burial cave of the Tannaic sage Rebbe Elezer ben Yaacov, one of Rebbe Akiva's seven foremost students, who rose to greatness after Rebbe Akiva's first 24,000 students died in a plague for not properly respecting each other. Many people have asked me to pray for their health, so I was glad to fulfill their request at this holy site.

Rebbe Eliezer ben Yaacov was extremely humble. He didn't say much, but almost everyone of his utterances has been encoded in religious law.  Let's hear more about him:

A Message from the Holy Gravesite of Rebbe Eliezer ben Yaacov from lazerbrody on Vimeo.