Faith

Much More than Joy

2More than Joy 14.6

I wrote today's post as an encouragement for myself...

In case you don’t yet know any Hebrew, I want to teach you a vital Hebrew word – Simcha. It's much more than joy, more than happiness, more than gladness. It's the deep inner feeling of contentment and gratification, no matter what's going on in your life at the moment or how difficult things are. Simcha - once again, the deep inner feeling of contentment and gratification - is the most dependable indication of spiritual and emotional health. After emuna, simcha is the next word to add to your vocabulary. What's more, emuna and simcha are the dream couple. Just saying both words already makes us feel happier.

The Rambam teaches us that a person can influence him or herself by his or her own actions. If we force ourselves to smile, the first time or two will be mechanical, but the third smile will be for real. So wherever you are right now – in the office, on the subway, in the kitchen, in your living room or even in a hospital bed, let's continue the day with a smile; yes – right now, cherished friend, put a smile on your face. When you're happy, your brain functions much better, and you'll more readily internalize what we’re talking about. So look in the mirror, show us your teeth, and pretend you're doing a toothpaste commercial.

Happiness is a statement that we like the way Hashem runs the world. Happiness is therefore the  key to success, for when a person is happy, Hashem is with him in measure-for-measure fashion.

Sadness causes worry and anxiety. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev says that all sickness and disease stem from lack of happiness. Ask any doctor: when a person is happy, not only the heart but the whole body functions at its optimum. In fact, the Rambam, history's greatest doctor, teaches that sickness come from worry and anxiety.

The holy Zohar teaches that sadness is the worst transgression in the Torah. That sounds a little strange, so we really should ask why. How can sadness be worse than eating on Yom Kippur or violating the Shabbat?

Suppose a person accidentally turns on the lights on Shabbat. He or she is disappointed in themselves, but they ask forgiveness the next time they pray and finished. With teshuva, the blemish of a misdeed is totally rectified. The sin has been cleansed and wiped away.

But, sadness is heresy – an expression of dissatisfaction with Hashem's way of running the world, which is none other than denial of Hashem. For that reason, the Zohar says that sadness is the worse type of idol worship. Just as Rebbe Nachman says it’s a mitzvah to be happy, conversely it's a terrible sin to be sad. Sad people neither pray nor do teshuva, so with each day of sadness, they drift further and further away from Hashem.

The basis of genuine joy is contentment with your own lot in life, with whatever Hashem gives you. How do you achieve this? The one-word answer is Emuna

Many people write me and tell me that they have emuna, yet they're still not happy. By emuna, they mean that they have a general belief in Hashem; the type of emuna one needs to attain happiness isn't the living-room discussion emuna, but the emuna in your heart that everything Hashem does is for the very best. With that level of emuna, worry falls; when worry falls, a person's tension and anxiety levels fall way down and the heart becomes free to be happy.

To attain genuine joy, a basic belief in Hashem isn't enough. We must believe that everything Hashem does is for the best. Until a person believes that everything is for the best, he doesn't have emuna.

How do we arrive at the level that we believe that everything is for the best? We speak to Hashem and ask him to help us observe and understand to the limits of our God-given capabilities how everything in our lives is for the very best. And where understanding kicks out, emuna kicks in.

Have a more than a joyous Shabbat! Warmest regards and blessings, LB


Fruit of the Soul

With Hashem's loving grace, our emuna broadcasts are back. We hope to record weekly, G-d willing. Meanwhile, today's lesson prepares us for Shavuot, this coming Saturday night and Sunday in Israel, and Monday as well outside of Israel.

In today's lesson, we talk about the four types of fruit mentioned in the Talmud - fruit of the field, fruit of the womb, fruit of one's labors and fruit of the soul. What is fruit of the soul, and what's its connection to the Shavuoth holiday? Here's your answer and we hope you enjoy it:

Fruit of the Soul from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


The Importance of One

Suppose a person has good health, a good income, and many other reasons to be content. Yet, he or she is still not happy. What could be the problem? There's one important element missing...

I'm writing this post from the USA, where I've made an emergency unscheduled visit to meet all my fellow sibs and visit our mother, who needs a major portion of Divine compassion and mercy. Please pray for the full recovery of Chasia bas Kaila. King Hezekiah teaches us that even if a sharp sword is resting on a person's jugular vein, he shouldn't give up hope.

Watching an elderly person's health deteriorate stimulates a lot of thinking and soul searching. Let's not wait until age 93 to ask ourselves what life is all about. Now's the time, for no one knows what will happen in another hour, much less tomorrow. In any event, the best way to weather a challenge in life is to maintain the smile on our face. It works!

Enjoy this, and may we hear good news from each other. Every blessing, LB

The Importance of One from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


Lesson of the Sagebrush: Vitality in the Desert

Sage 15.4
The plant you see in the above image is called rotem in Hebrew, or sagebrush. I photographed this in the dunes, right south of Ashdod, one of my favorite personal prayer and exercise spots (running up sand dunes is really healthy, and it doesn't put wear and tear on your joints like pounding the asphalt does). At any rate, we're in the summer here already and it's hot and dry. Yet, the sagebrush is still lush and green. It shows us that there is vitality in the desert; that's one of the messages that the Almighty was revealing to Moses when He revealed Himself in the burning bush. Guess what type of bush that was - rotem, just like the one you see here. With this in mind, enjoy today's "Brodybeam":

Secret of the Sagebrush from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


Lesson from the Baba Sali

Baba Sali
Thanks to you, dear readers and friends, "Strength and Serenity" is now delighted to feature our weekly Wednesday shot of emuna and encouragement, which we've crowned, "Brodybeams", for we certainly hope that these messages will illuminate your life with meaning, faith, empowerment and joy. As opposed to the emuna lessons we used to record from our yeshiva broadcasts, many of these will be outdoors, shorter, and from all over the Land-of-Israel countryside.

You're about to see a clip we recorded from the holy gravesite of this past generations monumental tzaddik, Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzera, aka "The Baba Sali" from Netivot in the south of Israel. Shortly afterwards, two days of intense missile barrages began to rain down on us from Gaza.

We certainly hope that you enjoy today's Brodybeam of emuna. Feel free to comment:

Rabbi Lazer Brody: Lesson from the Baba Sali from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


Encouragement for the Soul: The Lesson of the Omer

Today's mini-broadcast comes to you from Meron in the Upper Galilee of Israel, from the holy gravesite of Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai

This week, I received emails from all over - the USA, UK, Switzerland, Canada and here in Israel all telling me the same polite thing, more or less like this: "Rabbi Lazer, we really appreciate your health and wellness articles, but you don't know how much we miss the weekly shiurim (lessons) broadcasts. Could you please bring back the weekly shot of emuna and encouragement?"

How can I say "no"? In Yiddish they say, "When ten people tell you that you're drunk, go to sleep!"

I agree. I haven't prepared shiurim ever since I was discharged from the hospital after my cardiac challenge, which we're now fully recovered from, thank G-d. Since then, I've made a new beginning with new ventures, all on my own so I've been a busy boy...

The first thing that is returning is our mini-clip messages from all over Israel. Last night I was in Meron, and you all were in my prayers. Here's my message from the holy gravesite of Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai. Enjoy it, and have a wonderful Shabbat and new month of Iyar. By the way, you'll notice that our new video host is Vimeo, where we have clean, no-ad, no-popup or immodest surprises viewing.

Every blessing, LB

Rabbi Lazer Brody from Meron: Lesson of the Omer from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


The 7 Tenets of Belief in Yourself

Believe 2

Thursday night is the eve of the seventh day of Passover, when at midnight, the Almighty split the Red Sea. Our sages say that the Israelites lacked the merit to deserve such a miracle, but the catalyst was the dedication of one dedicated individual, Nachshon ben Aminadav, who jumped into the sea despite the fact that he couldn't swim. Where did he get the courage to do such an act? He believed that if he did everything he possibly could, the Almighty would come to his aid.

In other words, Nachshon believed in G-d and believed in himself.

What is “belief in myself”? Here are the basic seven parameters:

  1. The Almighty created me, as He did every other creature, with a unique trait of my own that no one else has, just as my fingerprints are unique; there is no exception to this rule.

  2. The particular attribute, skill, or talent that the Almighty instills in me enables me to successfully accomplish my own very special mission on earth.

  3. The Almighty wants me to successfully accomplish my mission on earth; I can therefore succeed; indeed, if I don't limit myself, I can attain greatness.

  4. The Almighty loves me, for He has no other child like me; He wants to help me and He especially loves hearing from me.

  5. I am a person of worth.

  6. I have the power to improve myself.

  7. I can be happy.

Repeat the above 7 parameters over and over, daily, until they become second nature. Once you believe in yourself, wait and see how your life takes off. Your own personal Red Sea will split too...

Go for it, because you'll now go far.

With blessings for a continued lovely Passover and a wonderful Shabbat, LB