Feeling down? Today's podcast will give you an amazing lift! Enjoy it and have a lovely Shabbat.
As you can see today, "Strength and Serenity" has received a face lifting, not only in appearance but in content as well. Throughout my recent travels in the UK and the USA, people asked me to put more of an emphasis on emuna. An old Yiddish expression says that when ten people tell you that you're drunk, go to sleep. In other words, when so many people gave me the same message, it behooves me to respond accordingly. So here we go. We call this series "Emuna Beams" and with a little help from our friends, we hope to post a daily message of emuna and spiritual strengthening, both here and on other social media outlets. We'll keep you posted, G-d willing. Enjoy today's, our first, recorded last night in Meron where all of you were in my prayers:
During my recent trip to the USA, not only did I lecture and teach but I learned as well. One of the great things I was introduced to in the fitness arena was the massage gun. It's fantastic and it's a must for anyone who is serious about fitness, workout and recovery. Even if you don't exercise (we hope you'll start) and you spend your day behind a desk, the massage gun will literally save your back, neck and shoulders.
The particular model I'm using here is the "Sonic" by a company named Lifepro. You can obtain this product on Amazon or directly at the Lifepro website. If you do go to the Lifepro website, Healthy@120 is the name of their coupon worth $15.
Check this out, it's amazing:
Wherever I go, I ask people to tell me what they think is the worst evil inclination. You can imagine what most people say, but what they're thinking is really #2. When I tell you what #1 is, you'll nod and say, "Sure, why didn't I think of that?"
The worst evil inclination today, in both men and women, is the feeling that you're not good enough. Why do people feel like that? There are two reasons: first, they compare themselves to others; and second, they haven't tapped in to their own amazing potential. This is like a poor guy on a park bench who doesn't know that he has $20 million in the bank. What a tragedy!
As a spiritual guide and health & fitness coach, I've had the privilege of helping people around the world discover themselves and their unique talents and aptitudes. My practical technique is now available to you in a very reader-friendly form entitled, "The Path to Your Peak", conveniently available on Amazon in both pocketsize paperback or Kindle ebook formats. Do yourself a big favor and read this book - you'll be glad you did.
Our forefather Isaac was righteous and holy, connected to the Almighty with all his might. What's more, he maintained fantastic physical shape. Not only did he perform heavy labor like digging ditches, but he made sure to get his cardio in daily, walking in the field while communing with Hashem. The Torah in this week's portion says so:
"And Isaac went out to converse in the field..." (Genesis 24:63).
Every single movement of our holy forefathers, including their labor and their fitness routine, was motivated by the purest intent to serve Hashem. With this in mind, why did Isaac make a special effort to go out to the field in order to commune with Hashem?
If I'm not mistaken, the notion of "field" is an allusion to the service of Hashem. The Gemara cites a case about a field that has strong undertones alluding to one's obligation to refine his or her character. The Gemara states: "One who rents a field from his neighbor and refuses to weed the field, saying, "What do you care as long as I'm paying the rent" – one need not listen to him, for the owner of the field can say, "tomorrow you leave the field and it yields for me weeds."
The simple interpretation of the above passage is that a person has rented a field for whatever reason but he's too lazy to weed the field and properly maintain it. The owner of the field therefore has a bitter grievance. The renter asks the owner, "Why are you so upset? I'm paying the rent, so I can do whatever I want with the field."
The owner replies, "Oh, no you can't! You must pay me damages. The field was capable of yielding thick, luscious stalks of wheat. But now that it's full of weeds, it will only yield scrawny thin stalks. The potential yield will be much less."
The renter answers, "No problem! I'll by you the best grade of wheat on the market and reimburse you for your field's loss of potential."
Disagreeing, the owner says, "I don't want the wheat from the market; I want the wheat from my own field!
The renter then says, "OK, I'll cultivate and weed a portion of the field to repay you the damages. The owner doesn't agree to that either, for he claims that the renter has given a bad reputation to his field.
What's the bad reputation that the owner is speaking about? Rashi explains that the neighbors, who know that the owner of the field is diligent and undoubtedly weeds and cultivates the field, will see that the field nevertheless is full of weeds. The field will therefore receive a bad reputation that will sorely decrease it's value if the owner ever desires to rent it again or to sell it.
The renter thinks that he's fulfilling his obligation by merely paying the rent. He doesn't take into account the long-term damage that his negligence causes. The un-weeded weeds will grow to maturity, then cast their seeds all over the field. After every rain, new weeds will spring up, harming and reducing the yield of the desired crop in addition to weakening the field. Therefore, "one need not listen to him" as the Gemara says. Religious law states emphatically that the renter is not allowed to neglect proper maintenance of the field because of the long-term damage that the negligence will cause.
If I'm not mistaken, the above sugiya alludes to a person who fails to fulfill his obligation to refine and rectify his character. The owner if the field is symbolic of the Almighty. The field symbolizes the soul, which is given temporarily to the renter, which symbolizes the body. The weeds in the field allude to bad character traits. By "proper cultivation", Torah and Jewish ethics learning, one 'weeds the field" and refines character. The lazy "renter", especially a person with a religious appearance who fails to learn Torah and emuna while doing his best to internalize and live by them, ends up giving a bad name not only to "Hashem's field", but his uncultivated character and bad traits will give a bad name to the entire community, Heaven forbid. As such, we all must get to work for there's no room for laziness in Judaism.
Blessings for a magnificent Shabbat, LB
 Bava Metzia 105b
 ibid, Rashi's commentary
 Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 328:1
 Case of discussion
In the last 16 hours, over 200 rockets have fallen in the south of Israel. Families are back and forth between the bomb shelters and living quarters, having to cope with overflows of adrenaline every time the Red Alert siren wails and the rockets or rocket interceptors explode. It's not pleasant, to say the least.
Over the years, I've put together a few simple guidelines to coping and staying calm in the scenarios of rocket attacks, which have proved effective. If these ploys work under rocket attacks, they certainly won't let you down in coping with day-to-day stress.
- Remember Hashem! Say over and over, ein od milvado - "There is no one but Him," and remind yourself that a hair cannot fall from your head against his will. Remind your family that Hashem is right here with you.
- Thank Hashem for whatever blessings you can immediately think of, such as, "Thank You, Hashem, for this bomb shelter" or "Thank You, Hashem, for the IDF and the missile interception systems." Ask your children to say what they're grateful for and to thank Hashem too.
- Sing or hum a melody of faith, encouragement and inspiration - I love this one or this one, for example. If you're with your family, get everyone to sing along. There will be no more fear.
- Say, "Hashem loves me," over and over.
- Be optimistic - positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes.
By now, the coast is probably clear. Every time you implement the above steps, in part or in whole, under fire, you develop more inner strength. They won't let you down.
- Heart-related ailments: your cardiovascular system is not designed to be anxiety-and-worry proof. Anxiety and worry are frequently the culprits responsible for rapid heart rate, palpitations, high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Digestive system: also with a low anxiety/worry resistance rating. Loss of appetite, stomach aches, nausea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are common hitchhikers on anxiety-ridden lives. Also, IBS people are super susceptible to vomiting, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
- Immune system: with the body in the constant fight-or-flight stage because of the anxiety, the huge amounts of adrenaline and cortisol released to the body deplete the immune system's energy and open the body wide open to infection and sicknesses of all types.
- Appearance and fitness: anxiety and worry expedite the aging process, make a person look older than his or her years and interfere with weight loss and physical fitness. Also, the headaches, insomnia and muscle tension associated with anxiety rob a person of his/her ability to exercise and to stay in shape.
- Respiratory system: anxiety causes shortness of breath and triggers asthma.
- Central Nervous system: Look out! Anxiety sets off panic attacks, spontaneous feelings of extreme negativity, terror, and/or impending doom, Heaven forbid. Anxiety also raises the risk of a stroke.
Is anxiety worth it? Heck no! That's all well and good, but what can you do about it?
First of all, come hear my lecture in Manchester, UK on Nov. 9, 2019 (see poster below) or in Brooklyn on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019. After I get hope, G-d willing, I'll post a synopsis of the lecture. Meanwhile, listen to calming music, play your guitar or flute, enjoy a cup of herb tea or dry red wine (preferably from Israel) and talk to the Almighty.