Jewish Thought

Curing the Age-Old Plague

At this time of the year during the Counting of the Omer, Rebbe Akiva's 24,000 students died because they didn't properly respect one another. We still mourn them, almost 2,000 later, because we haven't yet corrected their sin. We're all still guilty of intramural hate. Do you know why? We haven't yet learned the lesson of the Four Sons on Seder night. Let me explain, with an amazing story from fifty years ago, about my father, of blessed memory...


Fruit of the Soul

In this special lesson for the month of Shvat, we learn about the four types of fruit that our sages speak about. They are:

1) Fruit of the field and tree - vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds

2) Fruit of the womb - our children

3) Fruit of our labors - the result of our career, trade, professional and job efforts

4) Fruit of the soul - one's emuna, prayer and Torah.

All the above four types have one very significant common denominator...


The Self-Healing Prayer

I was lecturing at an IAF base, and my host - the assistant base commander - showed me where the bathroom was. When I came out, I washed my hands three times consecutively with a cup and said slowly and with intent the Asher Yatzar blessing that one says after visiting the toilet. My host looked at me wide-eyed, as if I'd suddenly sprouted peacock feathers. "Rabbi," he gasped, "you guys even make a blessing after relieving yourselves?"

We sure do! It's the best and cheapest health insurance policy anywhere. Hear this:

Asher Yatzar

Blessed are You, HaShem, Our God, King of the universe, Who created the human with wisdom and created within him many openings and many cavities, exposed and known before Your Throne of Glory, that if one of them were to be ruptured or one one of them were to be blocked it would be impossible to survive and to stand before You for even one hour. Blessed are You, HaShem, The physician of all flesh who acts wondrously.

Baruch atah Adonoi, Elohainu, melech ha'olam, Asher yatzar et ha'adam b'chochmah, u'vara vo n'kavim n'kavim, chalulim chalulim, galui v'yadua lifnai chisei chvodecha, she'im yipatei'ach echad maihem o yisataim echad maihem, ee efshar l'hitkayeim v'la'amod l'fanecha afilu sha'ah achat. Baruch atah Adonoi, rofeh chol basar u'mafli la'asot.

The Practical Halachas of Visiting the Toilet

No, this is not a joke. Proper deportment in the bathroom is an integral part of holiness. Besides, Jewish Law covers every single aspect of daily life.

As a service to our readers, here are the laws concerning visiting the toilet in a nutshell, based on Chapter Four of The Abridged Code of Jewish Law (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch):

  1. One must relieve oneself as soon as one feels the need, without delay.
  2. One must be modest in the toilet, and not relieve oneself in front of other people unless there is a partition.
  3. One must be careful not to overly strain, for it could create problems in the colon.
  4. One must not think about Torah or Torah-related subjects in the toilet; instead, think about mundane matters such as business or commerce.
  5. One must cleanse oneself thoroughly after visiting the toilet, for it is forbidden to pray if one’s body isn’t completely clean of excrement traces.
  6. Every time after visiting the toilet, even after urinating one drop, one must wash one’s hands thoroughly and then say the “Asher Yatzar” blessing.

May Hashem grant you and yours wonderful health always, amen.


Higher than Angels

Some people look at themselves in a negative light and think that they're unworthy of serving the Almighty, maybe because they've been in such low places and done such kinky things that they think Hashem doesn't want anything to do with them at all. Or, maybe they were born into an observant family and at some point fell off the path, and they think that the Almighty is angry at them; they fear that their Father in Heaven will reject them. Both groups are utterly wrong, as Rabbi Lazer explains in today's podcast with one of his original parables. You'll love this:

Click here for your free mp3 download of this podcast; you are entitled to listen to it on your own device and to pass it on to others as well, courtesy of "Emuna Beams."


The Right Way to Pray

Despite all the righteous men in our history, we learn the proper and best way to pray from Hannah, the mother of the Prophet Samuel. Hannah's type of prayer overrides nature - that's how powerful it is. We all can tap into the same source of abundance. 

Click here for your free mp4 download of this podcast; you are entitled to listen to it on your own device and to pass it on to others as well, courtesy of "Emuna Beams."