Advice and Guidance

Overcoming Your Acute Problem

Here's how a small segment of the cogent "Nishmas" prayer helps us defeat worry and depression while overcoming that nagging acute problem that each of us has. (Text of segment below vid):

"If our mouth was as full of song as the sea, and our tongue as full of rejoiceful singing  as the multitude of waves, and our lips as full of praise as the expanse of the horizon, and our eyes as brilliant as the sun and the moon, and our hands as outspread as the eagles of the sky and our feet as swift as antelopes -- we still could not thank You sufficiently, HaShem our God and God of our forefathers, and to bless Your Name for even one of the many thousands of thousand, thousands times thousands and myriads of favors, miracles and wonders that you performed for our ancestors and for us." (from "Nishmas" prayer, English translation by Rabbi Lazer Brody)

A Debt-Free Chanukah

Debt-Free Chanukah
With COVID lockdowns and unemployment, many people are having a rough time. They can barely afford the the weekly food bill, much less the electric bill and the mortgage. One would think that Chanukah would fill everyone's heart with joy, but many ask, “How can we afford Chanukah gifts?” 

Let's set the record straight: “Gifts”, from a Jewish standpoint, is part of Purim, not Chanukah. Even then, the gifts consist of food baskets to friends and money to the poor. Gifts on Chanukah are an imitation of the non-Jewish custom at this time of the year. The real celebration of Chanukah is lighting candles and singing songs of praise and thanksgiving to Hashem. So, it's definitely not a mitzva to go into more credit-card debts by buying gifts for Chanukah. 

A couple I knew suffered from acute financial difficulties. Neither husband nor wife lived on a budget or knew how to plan one. They were buying Chanukah gifts left and right – on credit, of course, with the false type of emuna that says, “Hashem will provide.” Meanwhile, they continued spending money they didn't have, indiscriminately on frills and needless items. That was really unfortunate, especially in light of the fact that the husband and wife were quite compatible. If Hashem put them under the chuppa together, then they are surely soulmates. They didn't have to be miserable, especially when some simple guidance could help them be happy.

The Talmud is well aware of the havoc that money problems create in a marital relationship. Our sages said that "Whenever a woman lacks wheat in her silo, she immediately screams". No wife enjoys looking at bare cupboards.

To help folks with money problems to sleep more peacefully at night, I made a list of some important pointers for avoiding financial trouble, not only during Chanukah, but all year long:

  1. Sit down with your spouse and make a list of all your monthly income and expenses.
  2. Arrange your expenses in order of priority, highest to lowest.
  3. If your expenses exceed the income, start deleting the lowest priority expenses until you balance the budget. That includes the Chanukah gifts you can't afford.
  4. Don't use charge cards and don't buy on credit unless you have money in the bank to back up your purchases. Credit cards should be used only as a means for not having to carry around a lot of cash. What's more, credit purchases are questionable according to religious law, because of interest payments. 
  5. Avoid impulse buying; look at all the junk you've accumulated over the years, and think about how many things you purchased on a whim, that really add nothing to your life. Sell or get rid of whatever you don’t need in the service of Hashem.
  6. Remember that The Almighty gives you everything you need in life; But, He does not provide you with a stipend for "keeping up with the Jones". Spiritually, debt stems from things you don't really need.
  7. Our sages teach that "Happy is the person who is satisfied with what he/she has". Don't expect material possessions to satiate spiritual or emotional hunger.
  8. Try walking and using public transportation. Try getting rid of the extra car, you'll save time, money, and improve your health. If you live in the city, you probably don't need a car at all.
  9. Don't save on Jewish education - the Talmud promises that you'll be refunded to the last cent. The message of Chanukah is to shun Hellenism and to educate our children in the way of our holy forefathers.
  10. Give at least 10% of your net income to charity. The Almighty is more than happy to give you $1,000,000 when He knows that you'll give $100,000 to charity.
  11. Eat naturally; by cutting out fast food, convenience food and manufactured food you;ll save tons of money and better your health.
  12. Teach your children to perform household and garden chores; let them earn their spending money. It's great for their education and saves on domestic help. Unspoiled kids are less likely to fall into financial trouble when they grow up.
  13. Husbands – honor and respect your wives! This Gemara promises that this will will make you rich. 
  14. Never lose your temper, especially on Chanukah. Anger causes financial difficulties. Rebbe Nachman teaches that oftentimes when a person is about to receive riches, he or she is tested with anger. If they pass the test and don’t lose their temper, they are rewarded with a gift of abundance from Above.

May you be blessed with a wonderful income and a continued Happy Chanukah!

Dealing with Your Challenge

The evil inclination tells a person that everybody else has a great life and only he or she has this major challenge in life. That's not true! Every one of us has some acute issue that we're forced to deal with, a major challenge in life. Today, we'll learn how to put it into proper perspective and deal with it capably and effectively.

Save the Children

Today's podcast is all about the nasty "A" word – abortion. What we say here is very politically incorrect with the contemporary liberal norms that turn what the Torah calls abominations into ideology, but I don't care because I'm not running for office and am not trying to garner votes. Hopefully, though, today's podcast will save lives; even if it saves one unborn child, it's more than worth it.

The Gemara in tractate Sanhedrin, page 37a says that anyone who causes the loss of one life is equivalent to someone who has destroyed an entire world. And conversely, anyone who saves one life is equivalent to someone who has saved an entire world...

You too can help save lives - download this podcast - it doesn't cost you a cent - and spread it far and wide. If you need urgent help in a crisis related to contemplating abortion, contact the wonderful people at Efrat.

Click here to  obtain your free mp3 download of today's podcast.

The Prayer for Turning Difficulties into Diamonds

Emuna Diamond Weeds
On today's podcast (which you can hear below), we mention a prayer that can turn difficulties into diamonds. The prayer, which I had the privilege of composing, is based on a quote from the holy Rebbe Avraham Dov of Avritch, osb"m, aka "The Bat Ayin". He says: "Anyone who believes that all the events in his/her life are the product of Hashem's Divine Providence brings compassion from the Upper World down to this world." 

Prayer for Turning Difficulties into Diamonds, composed by Rabbi Lazer Brody:

"Master of the World, I believe with a full and complete belief that my difficulties, troubles and challenges, particularly the one I am facing right now, are from You and a result of Your precision Divine Providence that never makes mistakes, for You are perfection. Although I might not know why I am suffering this difficulty, I believe with full and complete belief that You love me and that You are giving me this challenge for my very best. Please, Father in Heaven, as I willfully accept this tribulation, please willfully accept my prayer for ___________________ (plug in the blank with whatever "diamond" you want to ask for)."

The above prayer really works. To hear how, listen to today's podcast, directly below: