Jewish Thought

Hannah's Prayer

This is a vital message for everyone, but especially for women, telling about their two prodigious powers - faith and prayer. Despite all the righteous men in our history, we learn the proper and best way to pray from a woman - Hannah - the mother of the Prophet Samuel. This is encouraging and enlightening, especially during the Nine Days. Enjoy it and have a wonderful new month of Av and a great Shabbat and weekend...

Hannah's Prayer 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


Hospice Nurse

Hospice Nurse 12.6
I had every intention to prepare an emuna body-soul health vid for today, but Hashem had other plans for me. I had to get back on a plane and return to the USA to perform a mitzva that no one else can do for me - honoring my 93-year-old Mama, may Hashem bless her.

I have been blessed with awesome sibs, each one a star in his/her own right. While I've been in Israel, they've been caretaking for Mama, who has already been fighting a long and tough bout with congestive heart failure. After careful consideration and consultation - while taking into account both Mama's wishes and Jewish Law and Bioethics - we've taken Mama off the remedy-seeking agenda and put her on a comfort-oriented agenda. In other words, she's in hospice care, usually administered when the attending physicians feel that the patient is approaching the final stage of life on this physical earth.

It's now my turn to care for Mama. Temporarily, the rabbi health & fitness coach is now a hospice nurse. The above image is real, showing the type of meds I must pre-prepare daily so that Mama can have them in times of crisis and/or as regularly scheduled. The responsibility is prodigious, but it's a gift from Hashem to enable me to give back a tiny bit of love and gratitude to a young lass who escaped the Holocaust to become a mother that raised her children with unbelievable dedication despite indescribable hardship. Therefore, everything in my life has come to a temporary halt with my entire focus directed at taking care of Mama during each precious extended moment of life that Hashem grants her on this earth.

Our sages tell us that properly honoring our parents is the most challenging mitzva in the Torah; they knew exactly what they were talking about.

G-d willing, I hope to write a post about hospice care and Jewish bioethics in the near future. In the meanwhile, thanks to the support and cooperation of my cherished wife, may Hashem bless her always, I'll be here in the USA until the end of the month trying my best to keep a smile on my Mama's face just as much as my wonderful three brothers and one sister have been doing. May Hashem our parents wonderful health and help us all to properly honor them always, amen. 


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.


Rebbe Oshiya Ish Tiria

Rebbe Oshiya Ish Tiria 17.5
One of the greatest things a person can do to benefit his/her own body-soul health and well-being is to visit and pray by the holy gravesites of the great tzaddikim, especially here in the Land of Israel. One such tzaddik - not so well-known but where those in-the-know go to pray for astounding salvations - is Rebbe Oshiya Ish Tiria, whose place of eternal rest is in the north of Israel, slightly east of Meron in the Upper Galilee and near the village of Peki'in, overlooking the gorgeous Tiria Valley.

Rebbe Oshiya was an Amora, one of the holy sages of our Gemara, mentioned primarily in the Yerushalmi Talmud and in the Midrash for his extreme righteousness, humility and holiness. The Midrash Raba (Kohelet, ch. 1) tells us that the day Rebbe Abin the great of his generation died, Rebbe Oshiya - the tzaddik of his generation - was born. This puts Rebbe Oshiya in the time frame of the 4th generation of Amoras in the Land of Israel, which places him chronologically in the latter half of the 4th century CE, somewhere between the years 360-400, at the time of Rav Pappa and Rabina in Babylon. The Jews in Israel suffered extremely under Roman occupation. This is the setting for a story that the Yerushalmi Talmud in the beginning of tractate Bava Metzia relates, as follows:

A Torah scholar of impeccable piety and character, Rebbe Oshiya eked out his meager living as a launderer, washing people's clothes. To remain above suspicion of any wrongdoing, he wore odd and shabby clothes that no one else wore, to avoid any suspicion that he took unauthorized advantage of the clothes his customers entrusted in his care.  One day, the Roman queen was walking by the river at a spot where Rebbe Oshiya would wash clothes. She lost a packet of rare jewels. Rebbe Oshiya found this priceless packet and returned it to the queen. She said, "Go ahead and keep them - I have plenty of jewels."

Rebbe Oshiya responded, "The Almighty and His Torah require me to return a lost article to its rightful owner. These belong to you, Your Majesty."

The queen, not particularly known for her love of the Jews, to say the least, replied, "Blessed be the G-d of the Jews." This was a phenomenal sanctification of Hashem's Name. The Midrash in Vayikra Raba 30:1 therefore tells us that when Rebbe Oshiya died, his death bed floated in the air and a voice from Heaven declared, "No riches in the world can buy the love that Hashem has for Rebbe Oshiya Ish Tiria!"

I recently visited his gravesite and prayed for something I badly needed. I made a promise to Rebbe Oshiya that if he intervenes in my behalf, I will tell the whole world about him and his holy gravesite, where many here in Israel have seen big miracles after frequenting it. Rebbe Oshiya kept his part of the deal, and I am now happy to keep my part. I received the big salvation I asked for.

For your convenience, below are 2 maps - larger scale and smaller scale - of how to get there. If you need a big salvation, pass the link to this article on to at least five people you know, and G-d willing, you too will see miracles. Meanwhile, have a lovely Shabbat. With blessings always, LB

Rebbe Oshiya Ish Tiria Map

Oshiya Ish Tiria Map


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.


The Key to Body-Soul Health

Thanks to everyone who forwarded the lovely feedback for our new "Brodybeams" series here at "Strength and Serenity," the blog of brodyhealth.com - in honor of our debut week, we've taped another "Brodybeam", which we're happy to post today.

Brodyhealth.com focuses on three main areas of interest: The first is health coaching, which includes fitness, nutrition and disease prevention. The second is spiritual guidance, which focuses on health of the soul, predominantly by way of emuna. The third is family and personal counseling, the bulk of which centers on marital relationships and parenting. We are seriously considering a series on successful relationships, if enough people express an interest. We'd be happy to hear your input.

Today's "Brodybeam" comes from our exquisite riviera in Ashdod. I wish I could share the lovely Mediterranean Sea salt-scented air with you - that would be quite an advance in video production. Meanwhile, we're delighted with the quality and service of our video host "Vimeo", where we pay for ad-and-popup free, wholesome viewing for our readers and viewers.

Here's the key to body-soul health. Enjoy it and have a lovely Shabbat. Every blessing, LB

The Key to Body-Soul Health 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.