Holidays

Tips for a Safe and Healthy Fast Day

Bayit Shlishi 6.8.19

Above image - dreaming of the Holy Temple, which we all lament for on the fast day of Tisha B'Av

This year, Tisha B'Av - the day of the worst calamities that befell the Jewish people - falls on sundown, August 10, and continues until the stars appear on Sunday evening, August 11, 2019.

Since this is a fast day during the year's warmest weather, it's a challenge. A person could be especially susceptible to headaches, extreme weakness, dehydration and hypoglycemia, when blood-sugar levels fall dangerously low. With a few precautions and proper preparation for the fast, the dangers can be avoided and the fast can actually be safe and healthy.

Before the fast:

  1. Beginning with Friday morning, 36 hours before the fast, try drinking a glass of water every hour.
  2. On Thursday night and Friday, eat salty foods (this is no mistake!) such as pickles, olives and goat cheese. These are all the foods that people with edema avoid, for they help retain fluid and therefore prevent dehydration. To avoid thirst, stop eating these foods on the day that the fast begins, namely all day Shabbat (Saturday).
  3. Avoid sugary and starchy foods this Shabbat, for they have a high glycemic index (GI) and therefore cause a deeper GI Levelsplunge in blood sugar levels shortly after eating (see adjacent graphic).
  4. Eat plenty of good quality protein - eggs, fish and high quality pasture-fed (organic, if available) beef and poultry - protein is satiating and will provide slow-release energy during the fast, since they are complex food stuffs that require longer time to digest.
  5. Stay away from coffee and caffeine for 24 hours before the beginning of the fast. Drink herb tea instead.
  6. My favorite rule of thumb is to focus on eating foods that are as unprocessed as possible, not only making the coming fast easier and healthier but promoting better blood sugar balance and better digestion, both of which lead to better weight control. 

After the fast:

Be careful, for after the fast, your blood sugar levels are at their lowest. The worst thing you can do (a cardinal nutrition sin that many congregations commit) is to dive into the coke, fruit juices and pastries the moment the fast is over. This drives blood sugar through the roof and creates a shock to the body; this could actually trigger diabetes, Heaven forbid. What's more, drastic rises and falls in blood sugar cause headaches, nausea and fatigue. In order to avoid this, takes the following precautions:

  1. Break your fast with a glass of ice-water and high-fiber foods such as celery sticks or whole grain/bran crackers.
  2. Add to the above a portion of protein, such as cottage cheese or goat cheese, which will also slow the rise of your blood sugar level.
  3. Avoid all sugary substances, soft drinks, fruit juices, cakes and pastries - these are downright dangerous at the end of a fast.
  4. Drink at least 2 glasses of water an hour for the first 4 hours after the fast. This will replenish the body's fluids and slow the increase of blood sugar levels.
  5. Don't eat a heavier meal until at least an hour after breaking your fast in the above manner; preferably, do some light exercise (like a 30-minute walk) before having a heavier meal.

Feel free to pass the above advice along to friends and family. Even better, send them this link so that they can subscribe to our weekly newsletter. We have no doubt that the above tips will not only make your fast more bearable, but safe and healthy as well! Every blessing, and may we soon see our rebuilt Holy Temple in Jerusalem, speedy and in our day, amen!


Goat Milk vs. Cow Milk

Goat Milk 7.6
Shavuot is the holiday where we have a tradition of serving dairy products. With many people, that's problematic because of lactose intolerance, which leads to indigestion, bloating, flatulence and irregularity. Ironically, despite the hype, cow milk actually bleeds the body of calcium and can lead to osteoporosis.  What's more, many suffer from milk allergies; a glass of milk is liable to make them break out in acne.

So what do you do, especially of Shavuot? Substitute the "moo" - cow milk, for "maa'aah", goat milk. Even if cow milk doesn't cause you problems, goat milk is umpteen times healthier. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Goat milk is more digestible - the protein in goat milk forms a softer curd than cow milk – and this also decreases the irritation that one might otherwise experience with cow milk.
  2. Goat milk is great for heart health - it contributes to the healthy type of cholesterol - HDL - without upping the bad type of cholesterol, the LDL. What's more, it's a fantastic source of magnesium.
  3. Goat milk combats inflammation - in Israel, we use goat milk to combat mouth sores. Since goat milk is less acidic than cow milk, people with ulcers can also drink it.
  4. As opposed to cow milk, the calcium in goat milk adds to bone strength and reduces the chances of osteoporosis.
  5. Goat milk is a better metabolic agent than cow milk - it boosts the metabolic utilization of minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. It also has A2 beta-casein, which is far healthier than A1 beta-casein that cow milk contains.
  6. Goat milk works well for lactose-intolerant people who can't drink cow milk.
  7. Goat milk more closely resembles human milk and is therefore healthier for babies and toddlers than cow milk and is the next best thing to mother's milk.

The only disadvantage I can think of when it comes to goat's milk is the high price. But, when considering its health advantages and great taste, it's worth it!

By the way, people think that the "Land of milk and honey" (Exodus 13:5) - none other than our holy Land of Israel - refers to cow milk and bee honey. Wrong! The Gemara in tractate Ketubot 111b says the words 'flowing with milk and honey' refer to milk that flows from goats’ (udders) and honey that flows from trees, particularly dates.

With the above in mind, we recommend the "maa'aah" (neigh) of the goat over the "moo" of the cow. Try it, and may you have the best Shavuot ever. Yours with 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 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


"Dayenu": The Key to Emotional Health

Dayenu 19.4
Our sages teach that a truly rich person is he or she who is happy with their lot in life. The main characteristic of happy people is gratitude -  they are grateful for their blessings in life, material and spiritual. One of my favorite expressions is that grateful people are never bitter, yet bitter people are never grateful. 

Passover, and particularly Seder Night, is a lovely way of expressing our gratitude to the Almighty. A prime example is the "Dayenu" sonnet, which shows our appreciation in the loveliest manner.

This year, let's stop and elaborate on Dayenu at our Seder table. The bold letters below is our translation of the original prayer; our explanation appears in the adjacent the normal letters. No numbers appear in the original sonnet, but we added numbers to show the cumulative effect - feel free to print this and attach it to your Haggadah:

How many cumulative favors has the Holy One bestowed upon us!

  1. If He had taken us out from Egypt, and had not executed judgments against them - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! Sometimes people are saved from the hands of their oppressors but they don't get to see their downfall. Hashem not only enabled us to see the downfall of the Egyptians, but in executing severe punishments against them, He warns our subsequent oppressors that they will attain a similar fate; history shows that they always do.
  2. If He had executed judgments against them, and not against their idols - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! The other pagans of the world may have maintained that Hashem was mighty against flesh-and-blood but powerless against their idols, Heaven forbid. By destroying them, Hashem showed otherwise. As our G-d, His might heightens the prestige of those who believe in Him.
  3. If He had demolished their idols, and had not killed their first-born - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! The pagans and the heretics still had room to deny the concept of Divine providence. When Hashem smote the firstborn of Egypt, He demonstrated a doubly miraculous measure of Divine providence, differentiating between those who were firstborn to their fathers and those who were not, and between the differentiating between Jewish and non-Jewish firstborns.
  4. If He had killed their first-born, and had not given us their wealth - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! As if it wasn't sufficient that Hashem freed us from slavery in Egypt, He gave us all the money retroactively that we should have been paid for our labors.
  5. If He had given us their wealth, and had not split the sea for us - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! The weak believers might continue to maintain that our receiving the Egyptians' wealth was a simple matter of social justice and fate; splitting the sea showed the world how Hashem personally overrides nature, fate and logic to perform miraculous deeds for Israel.
  6. If He had split the sea for us, and had not taken us through it on dry land - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! Here, Hashem shows us a miracle upon miracle. Sure, the sea split but the seabed should have been a muddy mess and most difficult to traverse. It was bone-dry for Israel.
  7. If He had taken us through the sea on dry land, and had not drowned our oppressors therein - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! Even though the sea-bed was bone-dry for Israel, it returned to its natural muddy status once the Egyptians entered it. Immediately, their chariots were bogged down in the heavy mad and once they were trapped, the walls of the sea crashed down on their heads.
  8. If He had drowned our oppressors therein, and had not supplied our needs in the desert for forty years - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! If it were not enough that Hashem rescued us from our oppressors, He continued to sustain us miraculously – not in Iowa or Switzerland, but in the desolate Sinai Desert!
  9. If He had supplied our needs in the desert for forty years, and had not fed us the manna - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! Hashem could have fed us bread and water, but instead, He miraculously provided the sublime delicacy of manna, the Heaven-sent bread, which itself was miraculous in many ways. It tasted whatever you wanted it to taste like.
  10. If He had fed us the manna, and had not given us the Shabbat - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! Hashem gave us a double portion of manna on Friday so that we would not have to worry about where our food will come from on Shabbat. Who can estimate the priceless gift of our weekly day of rest for body and soul, ever so conducive to getting close to Hashem.
  11. If He had given us the Shabbat, and had not brought us in proximity to Mount Sinai - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! To bring us even closer, Hashem revealed Himself to our entire nation on Mount Sinai.
  12. If He had brought us in proximity to Mount Sinai, and had not given us the Torah - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! If it wasn't enough that Hashem revealed Himself to us, He gave us the Holy Book that is the secret of our timelessness despite all that has befallen us.
  13. If He had given us the Torah, and had not brought us into the land of Israel - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! As if the Torah wasn't the most precious gift that Hashem could give us, He brought us especially to the Land of Emuna and its inherent holiness, the ideal place on earth for fulfilling the Torah's commandments.
  14. If He had brought us into the land of Israel, and had not built for us the Holy Temple - Dayenu, it would have been enough for us! We now await for the imminant rebuilding of our third and final Holy Temple, may it be built soon in our days, amen!

Thus how much more so should we be grateful to the Omnipresent One for the doubled and redoubled goodness that He has bestowed upon us; for He has brought us out of Egypt, and carried out judgments against them, and against their idols, and smote their first-born, and gave us their wealth, and split the sea for us, and took us through it on dry land, and drowned our oppressors in it, and supplied our needs in the desert for forty years, and fed us the manna, and gave us the Shabbat, and brought us before Mount Sinai, and gave us the Torah, and brought us into the land of Israel and built for us the Beit Habechirah (Holy Temple) to atone for all our sins.

Rabbi Judah the Prince, who codified the Mishna and whom many consider the author of the Haggadah, listed fourteen particular favors, no more and no less. Why? He quotes the Torah and says that Hashem took us out of Egypt with “a strong hand and an outstretched arm”. “Hand” in Hebrew is yad, spelled yud-dalet. In Hebrew numerics, yud=10 and dalet=4, together the sum of fourteen. The Dayenu sonnet is therefore a hint that the Almighty's mighty hidden hand not only took us out of Egypt, but personally massages our hearts and sustains us each moment of the day.

To be truly happy, we should all sit down and compose our own list of Dayenus – once we open our eyes to all our blessings and thank Hashem for them, life becomes a Heaven on earth. Blessings for the very best Passover you ever had!


Tree Grown Cosmetics: The Avocado Facial

Avocado
The world's finest cosmetics grow on trees.

Here are our favorite facial moisturizing treatments. If they're 100% effective in Israel's arid climate, they'll work for you too. Save your money - instead of all those expensive creams, try these fantastic tree-grown natural cosmetics, courtesy of the Creator and totally organic with no synthetic additives that might not be so conducive to your health in the long run:

Our #1-choice tree-grown cosmetic is avocado. Mash a ripe avocado in a glass dish. Spread it liberally all over your face and let it sit for 15 minutes (this can be combined with solitary personal prayer, because you won't want anyone to see you with a mushy green face). Wash the avocado off in cold water and you face will feel fresh, invigorated and completely moisturized.

Our second choice of tree-grown cosmetic is coconut oil. Natural unprocessed coconut oil hardens into a paste at temperatures below 76F (25C). Use it the same way you'd use a skin cream.

Our third choice of tree-grown cosmetics is olive oil. Olive oil is superb for skin lubrication and vitality, but for some people it clogs pores. For that reason, avocado is preferable for it doesn't clog pores. Another advantage of our tree-grown cosmetics is that they're all kosher for Passover. Add the smile of personal and collective freedom, and you'll look your best at the Seder table.

Leave a comment and let us know how the tree-grown cosmetic treatment worked for you. 


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!