Happy Shavuos from the South of Israel

NH Gaza
I had all kinds for ideas for Shavuos posts and podcasts but Hashem had different plans. Our life has been disrupted here with incoming missile attacks from Gaza every other hour during the night and usually morning, noon and evening during the day. It's difficult to plan a 5-minute skip over to the grocery store because of back-and-forth scurries to the bomb shelter. Despite everything, Hashem is showing us phenomenal miracles that if I'd tell them, one could hardly believe. In the middle of cholent yesterday, our Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a Hamas missile right over our balcony. The same thing happened right after Havdalah. The explosion and the tremors defy description. It's not easy for the family but they're biting the bullet and holding on. At any rate, we want to wish you, cherished friends, a good Yom tov from the South of Israel with prayers that we can receive Torah this Shavuos with greater conviction and commitment, thus invoking Divine mercy so that Moshiach will come speedily, in the nearest future, amen and G-d bless.

Dawn of Freedom

Emuna Hour this week is all about Passover and particularly a preparation for a meaningful Seder Night, showing how the "Festival of Matzoth", as the Torah refers to Passover, is every bit as relevant today as it was 3,331 years ago when Hashem freed us from bondage in Egypt. Enjoy it and blessings for a joyous and meaningful Passover!

Avoiding Weight-Gain and Constipation during Passover

Matza Hurdle 15.4
Passover is the freedom holiday - freedom from all types of bondage, mental and physical. But, with the drastic change in diet, many people become slaves to weight-gain and constipation. It doesn't have to be that way. Proper matza consumption, when done in accordance with the Rambam's principles, is actually fantastic for overall health, enabling you to jump over the hurdles of matza-related health problems. Here are a few important tips to remember during Passover; follow them, and you'll enjoy freedom from both constipation and weight gain:

  1. Twenty minutes before your meal with matza, drink at least two glasses of water. Try to avoid drinking during the meal, unless it's dry red wine or water or seltzer mixed with dry red wine at at least one part wine to three parts water.
  2. Chew matza slowly and thoroughly, enabling your saliva to act upon the matza until it becomes a soft paste in your mouth. Only then, swallow. You'll eat slower and will be satiated by eating much less. What's more, the saliva plays an important role in digesting carbohydrates.
  3. Purchase whole-grain matza - wheat, spelt or oat - and avoid the cheap white-flour industrial square matzas. 
  4. Fresh and leafy veggies and increased fiber intake are a must during Passover.
  5. Don't multi-task while eating, especially while eating matza. The brain treats matza like potato chips, so if you munch without thinking about what you're eating and how much, then the calories pile up fast.
  6. Set aside daily time for exercise, especially walks with the family. This is great for both health and relationships.
  7. Make sure to eat a minimum of other carbs. Treat sugar, especially white sugar, as if it's not kosher for Passover. From a health standpoint, it's not kosher all year long.
  8. Avoid all soft drinks, even the ones with artificial sweeteners, for the body has no idea how to digest such chemicals. Drink water, seltzer and dry red wine.

Follow the above eight tips, and you'll feel great, both during the Passover holiday and afterward. G-d bless for a lovely Passover!

Wiping out Amalek

This coming Shabbos is Shabbos Zchor and next Friday is Purim. Amalek, the arch-evil personification of the Sitra Achra (literally "other side", the antagonist of holiness) in every generation, has one main task - to destroy emuna and everyone who spreads it. The politically correct flow with Amalek, but a select few fight fiercely against him...

Thanks to our generous donors, you can obtain a free mp3 download of this podcast by clicking here on Wiping out Amalek.

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!

The Balance Scale of Baghdad

Today's 8-minute podcast is a 4-in-1:

1. It's a preparation for Succoth, telling about the significance of the Four Species;

2. It tells a traditional story, well known to Iraqi Jewry;

3. It's an ethics lesson, and -

4. It has a special message about rescinding the harsh decree of the Corona-virus pandemic.

Enjoy it, and feel free to share and download it at no charge, thanks to our wonderful supporters.

Ten Benefits of a Pure Soul

Rav Yosef Galimidi shlit'a of Miami asked me to post a synopsis of the Zoom lesson we gave earlier this morning, "Emuna, Effort and Expectations", particularly the ten benefits of a pure soul.

LB AriTzfat
Yom Kippur only atones for those who return to Hashem and believe in its power of atonement, but it doesn't benefit a person who scoffs it and doesn't believe in its power of atonement (Code of Jewish Law, O.C. 607:6)

From this Halacha, we derive a formula for success on Yom Kippur, success that will influence a person's entire year for the very best –

EMUNA – believe in Yom Kippur's power of atonement and believe that Hashem will forgive you of all your sins

EFFORT – asssess yourself, make teshuva and return to Hashem

EXPECTATIONS – a clean bill of spiritual health: not only forgiveness for all your sins, but purification of the soul which is a magnificent gift from Hashem, with the following 10 benefits:

1) inner peace, 2) happiness, 3) patience, 4) no anger, 5) forgiveness, 6) prayers answered, 7) spiritual awareness, 8) understanding of Torah, 9) no outstanding judgments, 10) no fear

Gmar Chatima Tova and much love from the Land of Emuna, LB

Emuna News: Avalanche or Birth?

Welcome to Emuna News, where you find out what's really happening in the world. Today's news update and message is, "Avalanche or Birth?" It sounds weird, but it's an exact description of current events right, where we find out the connection between COVID 19, wildfires, BLM, Geula, Moshiach and Yom Kippur.