Mind and Body

SCS: Spiritual Cataract Surgery

For everything in the physical word, there is an equivalent in the spiritual world. In fact, the spiritual equivalent is the source and spiritual root of that object in the physical world. For example, the same way that the light of the sun acts in photosynthesis to sustain a plant, Divine light acts upon a soul to sustain it in a strikingly similar manner. Just as we have cataract operations to correct cloudy vision in this world, there is SCS, "Spiritual Cataract Surgery" to better the soul's vision. If a person is unhappy in any way, he or she should strongly consider the option of SCS. Learn all about it in today's eye-opening and eye-healing podcast.

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.


A Healthy Self-Image

When you feel good about yourself, other people will feel good about you. There are three ways to pursue happiness and to build a healthy self-image: strengthening the body, strengthening the soul, or to understand that body and soul are inseparable and to strengthen both simultaneously. Today's Emuna Beam teaches us how to do that. Enjoy today's six-minute chizuk and have a lovely Shabbat!

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."


Give Yourself a Break

The human being is not a chinchilla, yet so many people are spinning full-speed on the wheel.  With the fast pace of 21st-Century living, both our bodies and our souls need a break! It's vital that we reboot daily and reconnect with our Creator and with ourselves. Rabbi Lazer goes out to the dunes on the southern outskirts of Ashdod, to tell about a big favor that you should be doing for yourself. Enjoy this:

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."


Cardio for the Soul

Cardio4Soul
Thank G-d, we're home from two very successful trips to the UK and the USA

Our forefather Isaac was righteous and holy, connected to the Almighty with all his might. What's more, he maintained fantastic physical shape. Not only did he perform heavy labor like digging ditches, but he made sure to get his cardio in daily, walking in the field while communing with Hashem. The Torah in this week's portion says so:

"And Isaac went out to converse in the field..." (Genesis 24:63).

Every single movement of our holy forefathers, including their labor and their fitness routine, was motivated by the purest intent to serve Hashem. With this in mind, why did Isaac make a special effort to go out to the field in order to commune with Hashem?

If I'm not mistaken, the notion of "field" is an allusion to the service of Hashem. The Gemara cites a case about a field that has strong undertones alluding to one's obligation to refine his or her character. The Gemara states[1]: "One who rents a field from his neighbor and refuses to weed the field, saying, "What do you care as long as I'm paying the rent" – one need not listen to him, for the owner of the field can say, "tomorrow you leave the field and it yields for me weeds."

The simple interpretation of the above passage is that a person has rented a field for whatever reason but he's too lazy to weed the field and properly maintain it. The owner of the field therefore has a bitter grievance. The renter asks the owner, "Why are you so upset? I'm paying the rent, so I can do whatever I want with the field."

The owner replies, "Oh, no you can't! You must pay me damages. The field was capable of yielding thick, luscious stalks of wheat. But now that it's full of weeds, it will only yield scrawny thin stalks. The potential yield will be much less."

The renter answers, "No problem! I'll by you the best grade of wheat on the market and reimburse you for your field's loss of potential."

Disagreeing, the owner says, "I don't want the wheat from the market; I want the wheat from my own field!

The renter then says, "OK, I'll cultivate and weed a portion of the field to repay you the damages. The owner doesn't agree to that either, for he claims that the renter has given a bad reputation to his field.

What's the bad reputation that the owner is speaking about? Rashi explains[2] that the neighbors, who know that the owner of the field is diligent and undoubtedly weeds and cultivates the field, will see that the field nevertheless is full of weeds. The field will therefore receive a bad reputation that will sorely decrease it's value if the owner ever desires to rent it again or to sell it.

The renter thinks that he's fulfilling his obligation by merely paying the rent. He doesn't take into account the long-term damage that his negligence causes. The un-weeded weeds will grow to maturity, then cast their seeds all over the field. After every rain, new weeds will spring up, harming and reducing the yield of the desired crop in addition to weakening the field. Therefore, "one need not listen to him" as the Gemara says. Religious law states emphatically[3] that the renter is not allowed to neglect proper maintenance of the field because of the long-term damage that the negligence will cause.

If I'm not mistaken, the above sugiya[4] alludes to a person who fails to fulfill his obligation to refine and rectify his character. The owner if the field is symbolic of the Almighty. The field symbolizes the soul, which is given temporarily to the renter, which symbolizes the body. The weeds in the field allude to bad character traits. By "proper cultivation", Torah and Jewish ethics learning, one 'weeds the field" and refines character. The lazy "renter", especially a person with a religious appearance who fails to learn Torah and emuna while doing his best to internalize and live by them, ends up giving a bad name not only to "Hashem's field", but his uncultivated character and bad traits will give a bad name to the entire community, Heaven forbid. As such, we all must get to work for there's no room for laziness in Judaism.

Blessings for a magnificent Shabbat, LB

[1]        Bava Metzia 105b

[2]        ibid, Rashi's commentary

[3]        Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 328:1

[4]        Case of discussion 


7 Steps to Preventing a Panic Attack

Preventing Panic 29.10
To prevent a panic attack, it's important to remember how and why it's happening. King David, the greatest psychotherapist who ever lived, understood the human soul better than anyone else. He said, "Happy is the person whose strength is in You" (Psalm 84:6). In other words, the moment a person realizes that he or she cannot handle a situation on their own, and they turn to the Almighty for strength, then they immediately neutralize panic and negativity. Understand that panic comes from the evil inclination, to disarm and disable a person so that he or she cannot serve Hashem. Our sages in the Gemara teach that no one has the power to overcome the evil inclination on their own. We all in varying degrees are susceptible to panic, but we overcome it as soon as we throw all our problems into Hashem's lap. In the same vein, Rabbi Chaim of Volozyn osb"m said that the spiritual ploy of overcoming any fear or anxiety is simple to remember and repeat ein od milvado,  "There is nothing or no one but You, Hashem!"

Therefore:

Step One of preventing a panic attack is to remember Hashem,

Step Two is to repeat "ein od milvado,  There is nothing or no one but You, Hashem," seven times.

Step Three is to ask the Almighty for help - call his Name out load, be vocal, even yell or scream if that helps you.

Step Four is to get the endorphins (feel-good hormones) flowing. How? Try one of these options: 

    a. Do as many pushups as you can;

    b. Run around the block or jog in place for two minutes;

    c. Do ten burpees.

Step Five is to take ten deep breaths, inhaling as deep as you can and exhaling as slow as you can.

Step Six is to sniff the aroma of lavender oil, which is known for being soothing and stress-relieving. It can help your body relax.

Step Seven is to call a time out, sit or walk in a quiet place, and speak to Hashem and once again, ask for His help and guidance; He'll be glad to give it to you.

Panic and the above 7 steps are mutually exclusive. But, as preparing for war, we must practice maneuvers. Don't wait for a panic attack to implement the above steps - you can do them anytime and they'll make you feel better. Yet, once we never forget Hashem and we always remember "ein od milvado,  There is nothing or no one but You, Hashem," we safeguard ourselves against any and all sorts of panic, fear and anxiety. Try it - it works and has been tested under the most extreme of challenges. Every blessing, LB


Powerlifting for the Mind

KB Gemara
Power-lifting? That's lifting heavy weights, what trainers call "resistance training". What could possibly be power-lifting for the mind?

Pick up a Gemara. Nothing in the world will build your brain muscle like a Gemara. And it's the toughest form of resistance training too - wait till you see the resistance that you get from the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) the minute you decide to pick up a Gemara.

I invite you to visit an old age home in the ultra-Orthodox areas of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. Don't be alarmed when you walk into the Bet Midrash (study hall, which every Charedi old age home has), and you'll find two spry nonagenarians animatedly waving their hands in the air, banging on the table and yelling at each other while arguing a point in Talmudic logic and debate. There's no one here with Alzheimer's - these old gents have been doing resistance training for their brains all their lives. Maybe many of their body functions are limited, but they suffer no atrophy of the mind. Their brains work hard.

The Koreans have always been pioneers in fitness. It's no surprise that the Talmud (Mishna and Gemara) has become a smash bestseller in Korea. The Koreans too want to strengthen their brains... 

How is it that Alzheimer's is so rare in the Torah world? While 11% of the general population in the USA over age 65, and 32% of the population over the age of 85 suffers from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, the estimated numbers are less than a tenth of that among Torah scholars. Take for example the great spiritual leaders of recent years, such as Rav Shach, Rav Leib Steinman shlit'a, Ravi Vosner and Rav Elyashiv, all of sacred and blessed memories, who lived past 100 years old and had crystal-clear razor-sharp minds until their final days on earth.

What is it about the Gemara that strengthens the mind so much? First of all, it's Divine nutrition for the brain as opposed to the passive junk-food that most people feed their brains today. Second, understanding the Gemara requires conscious, sustained mental effort - it does for the brain what an HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout does for the body. Even when a person gets up from his Gemara session, his mind is still contemplating what he learned, just like the after-burn effect of a good workout. Third, learning with a chavruta (learning partner) forces the Gemara learner to be alert, attentive and mentally sharp. There's no boredom here. In fact, chavruta-style learning is fantastic for those who are kinesthetic or audial learners, because of the back-and-forth give-and-take style of learning where it's OK to fly out of your chair, learn standing up or any way else you like.

Bottom line - for a strong mind, nothing beats a Gemara. Blessings always, LB