Faith

The Precious Minute

Precious Time 31.8.19
Lives have changed in split seconds. Hundredths of seconds have separated between gold medalists and those who finished 4th and didn't even win a bronze. One heartbeat separates between life and death...

If seconds are so vital, then what can we say about the priceless irreplaceable commodity known as a minute? What's the value of a moment in life, or a life itself? Too many people take their own lives for granted...

Do you think crossing the street or arriving safely at your destination is a foregone conclusion? Not at all. In the USA during the year of 2017, 6,000 pedestrians and over 40,000 motorists and automobile passengers lost their lives in accidents.

In Israel during the same year, 84 pedestrians were killed crossing Israel's streets and another 362 travelers were killed on Israel's roads. To put these figures into proper perspective, we must first remember that each is a sacred, irreplaceable soul. Second, we must realize that these 446 fatalities were over twenty times greater than the number of fatalities that resulted from terrorist attacks against Israelis during the same year of 2017.

One minute – or even less – can save your life. Anyone who has ever been involved in a traffic accident (or in a war) knows that I'm far from exaggerating. Here's how:

Before you cross the street, even if you're at a crosswalk with a green light and you have every right of way, say a short prayer that won't take more than a few seconds: "Father in Heaven, help me get safely to the other side of the street." As we saw in the above-cited statistics, no one can take safely crossing the street for granted.

Before you put your keys in the ignition, take advantage of one precious minute that could save your life. In your own words say, "Beloved Father in Heaven, help me arrive safely at my destination. Guard me from all peril on the roads and guard my vehicle from any damage." You can't imagine how effective, time and money saving such a brief prayer can be.

Whatever you do in life, remember the power of a few moments of prayer.

If you're an athlete, before you go out on the playing field or the competition arena, ask the Creator to help you perform at your very best. You've been training so hard, for weeks and months; that one minute of personal prayer could make the difference between victory and defeat.

Business people know that clinching deals often defies logic. When you expected to make money, you lost money, and vice versa. Before you enter a negotiation, begin a transaction or start a new day of work, ask the Creator to grant you success.

If you're a teacher, ask the Almighty to put the right words in your mouth so that you'll be able to give over the subject matter to your students in the most engaging, clear and comprehensible manner. Pray for your students' success as well and wait and see how you soon become teacher of the year…

If you're a homemaker or a husband who helps with the cooking, ask the Almighty to help the food, cake, challah or whatever you're cooking or baking to come out successfully.

At this point, many people ask, "Do these mini-prayers really help?"

They sure do. We don't come uninvited to other people's homes. By the same token, the Creator doesn't come uninvited into our lives. If we think we're capable of doing anything on our own, He lets us. Then, the results aren't always favorable. On the other hand, when we seek His assistance, He smiles down and says, "Beloved son or daughter, since you are seeking My help, I'm right here with you." This is a signed check from King David, who said, "Hashem is close to all who call Him – to all who call Him in sincerity" (Psalm 145:18).

With the Almighty close to you, you'll not only cross the street safely but you'll enjoy every other blessing in life, all for the tiny price of the precious moment of personal prayer.

May you enjoy an abundance of Divine blessings for everything good always!

With deepest friendship, Lazer Brody


The Soul Correction and Second Chance

Sometimes we find ourselves in the exact place or circumstance where earlier in our life, we had some type of setback or misdeed, not acting in a way that we'd be proud of today. This is a gift from Above, enabling us to perform a soul correction on ourselves, in this lifetime. Enjoy this encouraging 90-second clip and have a lovely Shabbat!

The Soul Correction and Second Chance from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


Skydiving

Skydiver 5.7
If you ask people what frustrates them more than anything else, and really probe to the core reason, the’ll most likely answer that situations where they're not in control are probably the worst sources of frustration. A person doesn’t mind a normal headache so much if he or she can take a glass of water and two aspirins, which from experience, they know will relieve a good measure of his pain within the next thirty minutes. But they can’t stand the inexplicable migraine that doesn’t succumb to the pain killers. Why? They can’t control it…

Now ask a person what the worst type of dream is. Many will answer, the free-fall, when a person feels like he’s falling in space, usually waking up in a cold sweat right before he crashes to the ground. What an utter feeling of no control!

Skydiving is a very popular sport. Those who skydive live and breathe their skydiving. But let’s ask ourselves: are all the skydivers daft? The answer is certainly not. I’ve known skydivers who are level-headed former paratroopers and combat veterans, some of whom with advanced degrees from university. How can they allow themselves to jump out of airplanes? They perform a free-fall for so many seconds then either pull the cord that opens their parachute or else their parachute opens automatically. They can’t control the speed that they’re falling downward. So what’s the difference between the skydiver and the person free-falling in a nightmare?

One word: trust.

The skydiver trusts that the parachute will open. The free-faller in the dream has nothing to trust.

Someone stopped me in the street recently in my hometown of Ashdod, visibly worried. “What’s going to happen, Reb Lazer? What's with Hizbulla's thousands of missiles aimed at us and we don't even have a functioning government to do anything about it? Have you heard? Iran is about to is about to clash with the Americans in the Persian Gulf at Hormuz, and if so, we’ll probably get attacked with missiles. There's a big chance that we'll get dragged into a war soon. Hey, and I haven’t even mentioned the Atom bomb that the Iranians will have any day. They’re all planning to destroy is. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is calling on all the Arabs to kill all the Jews. And if all that isn’t bad enough, Yair Lapid could very well be the next prime minister in Israel. We won’t be able to send our children to cheder any more…”

“Slow down, my friend,” I injected at the opportune time, when he stopped to take a breath. “You’ve been listening to a lot of news lately."

“But I must be informed! I can’t live like an ostrich with his head in the ground,” he said, slighted by my suggestion that he’s spending too much time on CNN, YNet and Foxnews.

“Be honest with yourself,” I said. “You’re uncomfortable being in a situation where you’re not in control.”

He stopped and thought. The man had a kipa on his head and was obviously an observant Jew. “I never thought of it that way, but now that you mention it, I think you’re right, Reb Lazer.”

“It’s up to us to do what we can and to make the most productive use of our time. We have the control and the free choice to open up the computer or to open up a Gemara. We can spend an inconsequential hour on Facebook or we can put on our walking shoes and use that hour to walk a few miles and talk to Hashem in personal prayer. Why fret about the things we can’t control when there’s so much more to do in the realm of things we can control? Besides, who is presumptuous enough to think that he can run the world better than Hashem can?”

“But I believe in Hashem,” the man said defensively. “I just have to do my hishtadlut, my own effort, to stay informed.” 

“Our hishtadlut is to strengthen our emuna and our trust in Hashem. He runs the world and He is doing everything not only for the very best, but for our ultimate benefit both on a personal and a national level.” I continued to explain that when we’re worried or up tight, there’s no reason in the world to feel out of control. We can take a time out, push the “reset” button on our brain, and go speak to Hashem in solitary personal prayer for an hour. That’s real control...."

The man unfortunately preferred to perpetuate his worry and anxiety rather than living the sweet life of emuna and trust. Maybe the suggestion to swap Facebook for a walk and talk with the Creator sounded look fairy tales to him. Too bad that people prefer to live their lives as terrified free-fallers, never knowing when the crash moment of doom will arrive, rather than living the exhilarating live of a skydiver who knows that the parachute always opens at the right time.

It’s great being a skydiver when Hashem is your parachute...

I wrote this post to strengthen myself, for I have now returned to the USA urgently because of my mother's rapid health deterioration. Her Hebrew name is Chasia bas Kaila. 


A Lesson from Rebbe Oshiya of Tiria: Connecting with the Creator

From the Upper Galilee near the ancient town of Peki'in, we visit the holy gravesite of the "Amora", the early 4th Century CE Talmudic sage Rebbe Oshiya of Tiria, from whom we learn what it means to truly be connected to the Creator as a person of faith, not merely "religious"... Enjoy this 2-minute clip:

The Lesson of Rebbe Oshiya of Tiria from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


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.