Today's podcast is entitled is a vital answer to what many people are asking now in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic about how much should we be putting effort into doing everything that the medical authorities tell us to do and how much we should be relying on faith and trust, what we call emuna and bitachon. A simple metaphor will help us understand...
Advice and Guidance
These days, during the challenge of the Coronavirus pandemic, any person with the slightest bit of emuna thanks Hashem profusely for every new day of life, even every moment of life. As things are getting shut down by the minute, we are more and more limited in our choices. But, there is one important choice we can make, where we earn the reward of a good and healthy life, just as our sages promise. Enjoy today's uplifting podcast and have a healthy and lovely Shabbat!
Today's video podcast not only gives advice on how to keep body and soul healthy in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, but shows that King David dealt with a terrible plague in his time that his son King Solomon knew all about, which the holy Tanna Onkolos calls "Kurhana". See for yourself, and see how King David stopped the plague as well as a 950-year promise from Rashi about how to defeat this disease...
In this week's Torah portion, Moses begs Hashem to forgive the nation of Israel for the sin of the golden calf and says, "please pardon them of their sin, Hashem, for they are a stiff-necked people." (Exodus 34:9)
This week, we also read "Parshat Parah" (Numbers, Chapter 19), the episode of the Red Heifer, where we learn that every power in the universe can both purify or contaminate, depending on how it's used.
Look how the Torah reflects current events:
A stiff neck is the Torah's way of saying stubborn. Like any other character trait, stubbornness can go either way, for good or for evil. Throughout the ages, our righteous people have been so stubborn in their faith that they preferred to endure torture and death in sanctification of Hashem's Name rather than compromise their emuna. On the other hand, the riff-raff of our people have always stubbornly refused to recognize Hashem's monarchy and His Divine Providence, choosing the path of publicly and blatantly trampling the Torah's laws, from the time of Moses to the present.
Hashem is not some old lady in the sky that can do nothing against the Corona Virus, Heaven forbid. The first principle of our emuna is the "He alone did does and will do every deed." The Coronavirus, like all powers of evil, are emissaries of the Almighty and the executioners of stern judgment in the world. But like all powers, they can be harnessed to do good as well. For example, if the Coronavirus succeeds in bringing people to assess themselves and cast aside evil ways while striving to get close to Hashem, then it is intrinsically good. In fact, the Coronavirus could be one of the key catalysts of Moshiach. Here's how:
Here in Israel, there have always been problems of government-sanctioned breaches of Torah. Although every person has the right of free choice to do as he or she pleases, they will ultimately be called to account for their deeds. But, the Government of Israel, who bases its right to the Land of Israel by virtue of the Torah, has no right to trample the Torah. The Ministry of Culture and Sport never interfered with stadiums and theaters that publicly desecrated the Shabbat, but the Corona virus is putting an end to that: the latest Health Department Directives are now prohibiting stadium and theater attendance and all many other mass public desecrations of Shabbat. The Government has always sanctioned the lewd public displays of debauchery known as the Pride Parades, and that too won't happen anymore.
Before our very eyes, the amenities of the material world of indulgence, especially here in Israel, are shattering into smithereens. The stock market here went down a whole 7% today, Ben Gurion airport is a ghost town, and restaurants and night clubs are empty. El Al has put 80% of its work force on forced vacation.
The medical world, both here and abroad doesn't have an answer to Coronavirus. No one can outsmart Hashem, especially the politicians. In Israel, we're still without a government, for Hashem is showing that there's no salvation in the politicians of both right and left, all of whom care about nothing except grabbing power. Let's hope that they soon wake up and realize that there is no power but Hashem.
Hashem wants to bring Moshiach, but our stiff-necked people over here who think that we can live without Hashem and His Torah, Heaven forbid, are now getting a wake-up call. Unfortunately, our history shows that not many people will wake up; our Torah tells us that only 1 out of 5 left Egypt; the other 4 denied Hashem's miracles, Divine Providence and the redemption from Egypt so they stayed behind and perished during the three days of darkness.
But here's the good news, both in the material world that is tailored to reflect the spiritual world and in the spiritual world itself. The same power of destruction has the power of healing. Atomic power can either illuminate a city or blow it into oblivion. The same virus that kills can be harnessed into a life-saving vaccine. The Midrash, Gemara and the Zohar all tell us how even Ashmedai, the king of demons and the mafia boss of the dark side, what we call the Sitra Achra, was harnessed to do good.
The Zohar tells us that Ashmedai taught King Solomon an important Halacha, namely, that a person must pay full price for a mitzva, because if a mitzva is free, the dark side can hijack it and contaminate it.
What's more, the Midrash Aicha tells us that Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai went to Rome in attempt to convince Caesar to rescind the harsh edicts against the Jews in the Land of Israel; this was a mission impossible. But, because Rebbe Shimon was such a perfect tzaddik, Ashmedai came to his aid. Ashmedai penetrated and possessed the brain of Caesar's daughter. She went crazy screaming day and night and making the palace in Rome unbearable. One day, she started screaming over and over, "Bring me Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai" – Caesar summoned Rebbe Shimon, who warned Caesar that in order to cure his daughter, all the glass in the palace will be shattered. Caesar agreed. Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai whispered in the ear of Caesar's daughter and told Ashmedai to leave her, but allowing him to break all the palace glass instead. The daughter was cured and the evil edicts were annulled.
The holy Ariza'l explains in his classic work "Etz Hachaim" that Ashmedai has the power of doing good or evil because he comes from the klipa of Noga, which can go either way, for it separates between holiness and the opposite.
The world at large and Israel in particular are suffering now from coronavirus and in a near panic. Panic doesn't solve anything. Read this week's Torah portion and you'll see that Moses is defending us by calling us "a stiff-necked people", in Hebrew, עם קשה עורף,which has a numerical value of 871. And guess what, if we say that "Coronavirus is Ashmedai", in Hebrew that would be נגיף הקורונה אשמדאי, also a numerical value of exactly 871. This is a clear message that when we're too stiff-necked to do teshuva and to strengthen our emuna while throwing away the lusts and follies of this world, Hashem sends a messenger like Ashmedai and the Coronavirus to soften our stiff-necks.
Why wait for Ashmedai and the Coronavirus to wake up? Why not start talking to Hashem, praying in your own words, praising His Name and asking to get close to Him? Hashem taught Moses that 515 prayers, "V'etchanan" has the power to rescind harsh judgments and overturn nature, and that's the way Hannah – who was childless – prayed to have children. 515 is not only the Gematria, numerical equivalent of תפלה - tefilla, prayer, but also of שירה - shira, songs of praise, as well as ואתחנן - v'atchanan, pleading to Hashem. These are the spiritual remedies of נגיף הקורונה – the Coronavirus, which by no small coincidence is exactly 515.
It's time for emuna. The barometer of emuna is one's desire to pray. Emuna and teshuva are what we need now, because Moshiach is fast on the way, as we see that the entire world is trembling from fear of the Coronavirus. Don't wait until it's too late. Soon, the whole world will be trembling from fear of Hashem, when He reveals Himself with miracles that defy nature and hasten the Geula, our full redemption, speedily and in our days, amen. Stay healthy and have a wonderful Shabbat!
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.
The world is in a near panic from the Coronavirus outbreak, as scientists and health authorities around the world are racing to halt the spread of this deadly virus that emerged from a live animal and fish market in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, when it then jumped to humans. Once it jumped to humans, it was then transferred from human to human whenever they come in contact with one other.
At the time of this podcast, according to official Chinese statistics which many believe are downplaying the proportions of this health disaster, some 60,000 Chinese have already contracted the new coronavirus, which causes respiratory illness similar to pneumonia, and the death toll of nearly 700 is rising daily. This past January 30th, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a “public-health emergency of international concern” — an alarm it reserves for events that pose a risk to multiple countries and that requires a coordinated international response.
The World Health Organization is correct – we need an international response. But what should that response be? Listen to today's podcast, which looks at current events through eyes of emuna:
Click here for your free mp3 download of today's podcast, courtesy of Emuna Beams.
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.
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:
My first baby is only three months old, and he's been suffering all through Succoth from stomach pains that keep him yelling and screaming much of the time. Yesterday, I went to the pediatrician, and he gave me a prescription and told me not to breastfeed any more. I read so much about the importance of nursing, and I hate to give it up. My next-door neighbor is a fan of yours, and suggested that I ask you before putting my baby on the bottle. Is there some urgent advice you can give me? I'm eagerly awaiting your answer. Thanks very much, Keren from Ramat Beit Shemesh
You're correct about the importance of breastfeeding. The value it has on your baby's healthy emotional development is inestimable. My estimation is that your holiday menu was not to your baby's liking, for whatever you ate ended up as a component in the milk he nursed. Here are a list of things - well known to our sages all the way back to Moses - that cause a baby to have gas and sharp stomach pains from mothers milk (see which of these were part of your holiday menu): Squash, garlic, onions, liver, and hearts (animal or poultry), hot peppers, highly-spiced foods, and fried foods. All these are notorious in raising the acidic content of mother's milk, and wreaking havoc on the baby's digestive system. Avoid these foods and the stomach pains should vanish, G-d willing. Hold off on the bottle and the doctor's prescription for 72 hours; as soon as you correct your diet, the baby's stomach pains will most likely disappear in a day.
If you've been eating liver for iron, then start eating beets instead. For your mother's milk to be plentiful, sweet, and digestible, eat lots of almonds, whole-grained rice, and melted cheese (natural, not processed).
One additional important point: Substances - especially tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, and narcotics destroy the quality of mother's milk and have a sorely detrimental effect on the child.
May you have all the joy in the world from your baby, and may he grow to strength of body and strength of spirit. Blessings for a healthy winter, LB
Holiday to Shabbat to holiday, with heavy meals and tons of snacking on the way. Don't forget that a minute on the lips is a year on the hips, if you're not careful. That's why this post is so vital before the upcoming week of Succoth:
This post, if you follow it, will aid your health and save you from needless holiday weight-gain.
Parenthetically, I don't believe in dieting of any kind - a person who learns how to live and maintain a healthy lifestyle doesn't need to diet...
Most diets are unhealthy fads that lead to short-term, unhealthy weight loss and long-term frustration, metabolic and/or nutritional imbalance, ailments of all kinds and weight gain. The extremes go from Paleo/Primal on one end that tells you to eat all the meat and fat you want but stay away from carbs, to total vegan on the other end that tells you that an egg, sardine or chicken breast will kill. Neither extreme approach is in accordance with Torah and the Rambam's timeless advice on nutrition. But, let's save that discussion for another time. Meanwhile, the best advice is what I call "Ivri", eating just the way our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did. That means eating foods as close to the way Hashem created them, with no interference from food manufacturers and genetic modifiers. With that said, let's talk about Succoth...
In Judaism, Succoth is the annual "joy harvest", where we gather happiness for an entire year. The problem is that with multiple daily festive meals, visiting friends and relatives in their Succas and partying all week long, most people gather pounds in addition to the joy. And, the excess weight eats away at the joy…
Today's "Strength and Serenity" advice might save you from adding two inches to your waistline this Succot. None of us want to go the route of gaining needless weight, so let's do a little holiday-eve preparation with this food for thought:
The perennial post-holiday problem of many Jewish people is the added calories, pounds, flab, and cholesterol of a week of eating and rejoicing in the Succah. As Brodyhealth.com is committed to the health of body, mind, and soul, we've composed a few guidelines to combat the expanding Succoth waistline.
Beware of empty calories: empty calories come from nutrient-scant foods, especially manufactured products, fast food and junk food. Stick to what I call nutrient-dense foods, where you get the most nutrients from each calorie consumed. Here, the winners are fresh vegetables, fresh foods and naturally dried (not roasted or salted) seeds and nuts. Nutrient-scant foods (cakes, pastries, sweets, soft drinks and liquor) are outright dangerous to the body.
Beware of the cakes: Many people want to make a blessing on the Succa every time they enter it. But, one really shouldn't make a blessing unless he eats something. For that reason, many folks eat cake ("mezonos", at a minimum amount of a little over and ounce) so they can say the "Leshev B'Succa" blessing, the blessing to sit in the Succa. If a person eats 2 ounces of cake 3 times a day, that adds another 840 calories to his daily intake. The Melitzer Rebbe shlit'a says that one should make a "Leshev B'Succa" blessing only when eating a proper meal that includes washing your hands and breaking bread. So, don't eat cake for the purpose of making a blessing to sit in the Succa. If a person eats 3 average-sized portions of cake a day for the 9 (outside of Israel, 8 in Israel) days of the Succoth/Simchat Torah holiday, he'll gain more than two pounds. We suggest eating sliced fresh carrots or sliced green apples instead of the cake.
Beware of the liquor: Many people make a "Lechayim" every time they visit the Succa of a friend and relative. In Israel, quite a few people that barely touch alcoholic beverages all year long keep them on hand to serve guests, and end up toasting glass-per-glass with the guest. A one-ounce shot of vodka or 86-proof Whiskey is 70 calories, while an ounce of a 72-proof liqueur such as Kahlua or Banana Liqueur is a hefty 117 calories. 3 "Lechayims" a day is enough to pick up another half pound during the week of the holiday. Adding that to the cakes (see above), you've already gained 2.5 pounds during Succoth. Putting the weight on is so much easier than taking it off.
Beware of sweet beverages: Succoth is a time when parents allow the Pepsi and the Coke to flow freely all week long. Now hear this - an 8-ounce glass of Coke Classic is a whopping 97 calories, just as caloric as the equivalent amount of beer or of a slice and a half of bread. A person that drinks 6 glasses of cola a day will gain almost a pound on Succoth, plus wreck his/her teeth and gall bladder in the process. We suggest that you reach for the mineral water, sparkling water, or herb tea instead, for they have zero caloric value.
Beware of snacks: People like to munch in the Succa. We all know that you can't eat one Frito or potato chip - therefore, those plastic bags empty fast. One ounce of fritos, potato chips, or our Bamba and Bisli add another 160 calories to your calorie-galore score. If a person drinks two glasses of cola and consumes two ounces of snack foods a day, he'll gain over a pound during Succoth. Again, fresh carrot and cucumber sticks are a virtually non-caloric and healthy replacement for the junky snack foods. And, if you want something sweet, try Madjool dates or dark chocolate that's 85% cocoa or more, but limit yourself to 2 dates or 2 chocolate squares a day.
So, with the cakes, the l'chayims, the cokes and the snacks alone - without the heavy meals that include kugel and fat meats, you've already gained close to 5 pounds. And, if you drink diet beverages and use artificial sweeteners, you might not gain the weight but you'll be likely to suffer from headaches and anxiety.
True, tradition is important; that is, as long as it doesn't ruin your health. At the Brody homestead, whole-grained rice, buckwheat groats and quinoa have replaced fried farfel and oil-dripping kugel. We don't fry, but broil and bake. We eat loads of veggies and fresh fruit, and drink local mineral water. Fish and lean poultry have replaced the lamb and veal, and we eat beef sparingly. Dessert is homemade applesauce, fresh cantaloupe cubes, a square of 85% (minimum) chocolate or an almond-stuffed fresh date. Our bread is home-baked and whole-grain, preferably spelt with minimal or no yeast. We want to control what enters our bodies; the manufacturers care about making money, not about our health. That's why we don't buy their products. Our bodies weren't designed to digest the myriad of chemical additives and preservatives that they force-feed us. By the way, we do male a l'chaim over a glass of a fine Land-of-Israel dry red wine, which is rich in rich in many antioxidants that contribute to cardiovascular health and other perks for the body, including fighting inflammation and blood clotting, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.
The Rambam gives an important reminder - don't eat until you're full. The stomach resembles a washing machine - if you overload it, it can't do the laundry. By the same token, an overloaded stomach can't digest, resulting in indigestion, another common Succoth ailment.
A great way to combat the the expanding Succoth waistline is to walk for an hour a day. Better yet, while you're walking, talk to Hashem in personal prayer. That way, your body gets its exercise and your soul gets its nourishment, that is none other than connecting with Hashem. What could be better? BrodyHealth.com wishes you a happy and healthy Succoth with no indigestion and no expanding waistline, amen. If you need further advice, feel free to contact us.