Prayer

A Signed Check from King David

Today's podcast takes us on a 3400-year tour back in history to Ashdod's ancient port citadel. From the scenic backdrop of ancient stones and the blue Mediterranean, we learn how the Book of Psalms resembles the history of the Land of Israel - the digger you deep the more you uncover. We also learn how three significant words invoke a good livelihood and one lone word invokes miraculous salvation, all signed checks from King David.

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."


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."


A Healthy National Heart

There isn't a single one of us that doesn't have a problem that hurts. To understand why, we must look at our spiritual health. We are all limbs of the whole body known as the Jewish People. Oftentimes, the pain in a limb is pain that has been radiated from the heart. In that vein, our individual problems are radiated from our national heart, Jerusalem and the Beit Hamikdash. Therefore, if we have a healthy national heart, then each one of us will enjoy every blessing imaginable - let's hear:

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."


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."


The Sweetest Fruit

King Solomon talks about what's sweet in two different places, but he seems to contradict himself. In Proverbs 9:17, he says that stolen waters are sweet.

Yet, he turns around in Ecclesiastes 5:11, and says that the sleep of an honest laborer is sweet.

So if you want to taste sweetness in your life, what do you do? Do you steal or do you perform honest labor?

First of all, let me assure you that King Solomon, the wisest of all men who ever walked the earth, didn't at all contradict himself. We simply must take a closer look at each of his sayings to see that they complement one another rather than contradicting each other. How?

The Gemara in Bava Kama 119a tells us that stealing a mere penny from someone is tantamount to murder. Therefore, the sweetness of stolen goods that King Solomon was talking about is really chocolate-covered poison, because anyone who steals is going to get the book thrown at him, not only in the next world but eventually in this world too.

Guess what else our sages categorize as stealing: they say that partaking of anything in this world without making a blessing is just like stealing from the Almighty. Many people don't like hearing this – they protest and say, "Hey what are you talking about? I didn't steal that food – I paid for it at the supermarket." OK, maybe you're not stealing from the supermarket, but it's still stealing from the Almighty. The supermarket didn't send the rain clouds that watered the wheat field that enabled the wheat to grow that eventually became the flour or the loaf of bread that you bought at the supermarket. Maybe you paid the bakery but you didn't pay the Almighty.

The same goes for medicine and medical care. Sure, you paid the doctor, the pharmacist or the medical insurance, but they don't make your heart, lungs and eyes function properly – the Almighty does that and He deserves our thanks.

With this in mind, we can understand what King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, that the sleep of an honest laborer is sweet.

You see, the blessings we make come under the category of prayer. Our sages say that prayer is "labor of the heart." So, when you pray for whatever you receive in life, the object of your prayer is the sweetest thing on earth. We therefore arrive at an amazing conclusion which should be an absolute obligation in our daily lives: whatever we pray for becomes the sweetest fruit on earth, yet if we receive something we didn't pray for, it simply won't have a blessing and its apparent sweetness will soon turn bitter. Take for example the guy that wins the Irish lottery: before he had the $20 million, he had a good night's sleep. But once he won the lottery, his doorbell doesn't stop ringing with long lost relatives and friends – our lottery winner has no more peace and quiet. Why? He didn't pray for what he got.

Don't take anything in life for granted. Pray for all your needs and in the meanwhile, thank Hashem for everything you have.

Before anything you do, pray. Say a short prayer before you get in the car so that you'll arrive safely at your destination. Pray for a minute or two before you make your sales pitch to the prospective buyer. Pray when you put the Shabbat dinner in the oven, that it should come out tasting wonderful. When it does, and when you make that fat commission, you'll know that it was Hashem helping you – that is ever so sweet, like a ripe watermelon on a hot August day.

The wonderful thing about the sweetness of prayer is that it neither spikes your blood sugar nor is it fattening. Prayer is the sweetest fruit on earth. You know why? When you pray for something, you won't become smug or arrogant when you get it. Oftentimes, if Hashem knows that we'll become arrogant if He gives us what we want, He simply won't give it. But, the more you pray and the more you depend on God for what you need, the more readily you'll see your prayers answered, and that is ever so sweet. Try, cherished brothers and sisters, you'll love it. G-d bless always!

If you prefer listening to reading, hear the broadcast of "The Sweetest Fruit":


A Spiritual Solution for Strong Bones

Spiritual Calcium
The same principles that apply to the material world apply to the spiritual world, as we see in this week's Torah portion, Ki Tetze.

"…and you were tired and exhausted and did not fear G-d." (Deuteronomy 25:18).

The Torah doesn't waste a single letter, much less a single word. So why is the Torah seemingly repetitious in the above passage when it says "tired and exhausted"? Wouldn't one description of fatigue have been sufficient here?

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches (Likutei Moharan I:67.8) that when a person prays without intent in his heart, he arrives to a state of "soul fatigue", when the slightest spiritual tasks seem to be heavy burdens. This tiredness of the soul causes a weakening of the bones.

In fact, virtually all of our physical problems stem from spiritual problems. Your nutritionist and your osteopathic surgeon may be baffled at your bone problems, especially if you eat naturally and consume a lot of calcium. This is the very reason why a truly holistic health coach must be abreast in the health of your soul as well as in the health of your body, as Rebbe Nachman reveals to us.

The remedy for this soul fatigue is to pray with such fervor and intent to the extent that he can feel the prayer in all his bones, as it is written, "All my bones shall say, Hashem, who is like You?" (Psalm 35:10). Such prayer, explains Rebbe Nachman, revives the soul and thereby solves the problem of soul-fatigue. In addition, it adds vitality to the bones.

Simply speaking, prayer with strong intent is spiritual calcium.

With Rebbe Nachman's teaching in mind, we can now understand the above passage much better. The two adjectives "tired and exhausted" are by no means superfluous. Whereas "exhausted" indicates physical fatigue, "tired" comes to describe a tiredness of the soul, or soul fatigue. We can also readily understand what the Midrash teaches, that the spiritually-weak lagged behind and outside the protective Cloud of Glory and therefore became easy prey for Amalek, because they had bad cases of spiritual osteoporosis.

A person's physical fatigue frequently stems from spiritual fatigue. One doesn't tire when he or she is doing something that they truly enjoy. To go a step further, the lack of desire that leads to spiritual fatigue also leads to sadness and depression. Wherever there are sadness and depression, the Divine Presence takes leave. In spirituality, there is no void. When the Divine Presence leaves, Amalek and the forces of evil descend on a person and overcome him immediately.

According to Rebbe Nachman's advice, there's a remedy for soul-fatigue, a way for one to rescue himself from the clutches of Amalek, the evil inclination, sadness and depression, which all go together since negative emotions stem from the evil inclination. How? A person should simply begin to pray with enthusiasm and with heartfelt intent until he can feel the warmth of the prayer in his entire body. If there's no "heart" in the prayer, and it's lip-service alone, then on a spiritual plane, one's heart becomes distanced from one's soul, a phenomenon that causes soul-fatigue. Under the principle of "divide and conquer", the more one's heart and soul are separated, the greater the soul-fatigue and the easier it is for the evil inclination - "Amalek" - to attack and subdue a person.

The good news is that anyone can rescue himself from Amalek and from soul-fatigue. Let him start by reciting one of his daily blessings with joy and enthusiasm. Imagine how miserable life would be without eyes; now, recite pokeach ivrim with all the joy in the world. Thank G-d, if you're reading this, you haves eyes! How fortunate you are to have such a wonderful gift from Hashem. Imagine how embarrassing life would be if you had to walk around all day long wearing a dusty burlap sack with holes for the head and the arms and nothing more. Now, get dressed and recite malbish arumim with such fervor and happiness, really thanking Hashem from the bottom of your heart.Try it - you'll feel better in an instant. This is the way we should approach all of our prayers - observing our blessings, taking nothing for granted and showing our gratitude with enthusiasm. This is the basis of the type of fervent, enthusiastic prayer that not only adds energy to our souls but cures our bones. Try it and have a lovely Shabbat!


The Lesson of Rebbe Eliezer ben Yaacov

REBY 4.9.19Above: Rabbi Lazer praying in the hill overlooking the tomb above Rebbe Eliezer ben Yaacov's burial cave 

A great health-enhancing aid is to pray by the gravesites of our holy sages, and here in the Land of Israel, there are plenty of them. Yesterday on my way up north to Tzfat, I stopped by the holy burial cave of the Tannaic sage Rebbe Elezer ben Yaacov, one of Rebbe Akiva's seven foremost students, who rose to greatness after Rebbe Akiva's first 24,000 students died in a plague for not properly respecting each other. Many people have asked me to pray for their health, so I was glad to fulfill their request at this holy site.

Rebbe Eliezer ben Yaacov was extremely humble. He didn't say much, but almost everyone of his utterances has been encoded in religious law.  Let's hear more about him:

A Message from the Holy Gravesite of Rebbe Eliezer ben Yaacov from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


The Self-Healing Prayer: "Asher Yatzar"

Healing Prayer 28.8.19
A while ago, I delivered a pep-talk to a group of police officers. When I arrived at the headquarters building, my host - an officer with little background in Judaism - greeted me and asked me if I needed anything before I begin my talk. I asked him to show me where the bathroom was.

After the bathroom, I washed my hands three times consecutively with a cup and said slowly with intent the "Asher Yatzar" blessing that one says after visiting the toilet. My host looked at me wide-eyed and asked, "Rabbi, you guys even make a blessing after relieving yourselves?"

I nodded in the affirmative and asked the detective if he'd ever had constipation or diarrhea. He grimaced and said yes, telling me a story of how his whole platoon in the army once contracted salmonella food poisoning during a training maneuver rendering him utterly out of capacity for a week with his intestines totally askew.

"What would you have given to have normal bowel movements back then, instead of the chaos in your guts?" I asked.

"A million shekels!" the officer answered.

"For sure," I responded. "That's why the minimum a person can do is to thank the Creator every time his personal plumbing does its job!"

*******

The Asher Yatzar blessing was initiated by the holy Amora (Talmudic sage) Abayei, (see tractate Brachot 60b). The Gemara relates: "Abayei said, when one comes out of a privy one should say: Blessed is He who has formed man in wisdom and created in him many orifices and many cavities. It is obvious and known before Your throne of glory that if one of them were to be ruptured or one of them obstructed, it would be impossible for a man to survive and stand before You. Blessed are You that heals all flesh and does wonders."

Our sages promise that by saying Asher Yatzar blessing after visiting the toilet, one is assured of good health. Every time we relieve ourselves, the Creator does a myriad of miracles in maintaining the body's health, casting away dangerous bacteria, microorganisms, and dead body cells in the bodily waste. Even more wondrous is that this heavy maintenance is done in a way that's extremely gratifying to the body.

Taking a few moments to say Asher Yatzar after visiting the toilet is liable to save you hours in down-time, sick-time, doctor visits, and even hospital visits. You'll also save a mint on medical expenses. Better than anything, you'll obtain what no health insurance plan can offer - a guarantee of good health.

As a service to our readers, here is the text in English translation and in English transliteration. There's no time to start saying this lovely blessing like the present.

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 Laws of Visiting the Toilet

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

As an additional 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 the Almighty grant you and yours wonderful health always, amen! Every blessing, LB


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.


The Precious Minute

Precious Time 31.8.19
Lives have changed in split seconds. Hundredths of seconds have separated between gold medalists and those who finished 4th and didn't even win a bronze. One heartbeat separates between life and death...

If seconds are so vital, then what can we say about the priceless irreplaceable commodity known as a minute? What's the value of a moment in life, or a life itself? Too many people take their own lives for granted...

Do you think crossing the street or arriving safely at your destination is a foregone conclusion? Not at all. In the USA during the year of 2017, 6,000 pedestrians and over 40,000 motorists and automobile passengers lost their lives in accidents.

In Israel during the same year, 84 pedestrians were killed crossing Israel's streets and another 362 travelers were killed on Israel's roads. To put these figures into proper perspective, we must first remember that each is a sacred, irreplaceable soul. Second, we must realize that these 446 fatalities were over twenty times greater than the number of fatalities that resulted from terrorist attacks against Israelis during the same year of 2017.

One minute – or even less – can save your life. Anyone who has ever been involved in a traffic accident (or in a war) knows that I'm far from exaggerating. Here's how:

Before you cross the street, even if you're at a crosswalk with a green light and you have every right of way, say a short prayer that won't take more than a few seconds: "Father in Heaven, help me get safely to the other side of the street." As we saw in the above-cited statistics, no one can take safely crossing the street for granted.

Before you put your keys in the ignition, take advantage of one precious minute that could save your life. In your own words say, "Beloved Father in Heaven, help me arrive safely at my destination. Guard me from all peril on the roads and guard my vehicle from any damage." You can't imagine how effective, time and money saving such a brief prayer can be.

Whatever you do in life, remember the power of a few moments of prayer.

If you're an athlete, before you go out on the playing field or the competition arena, ask the Creator to help you perform at your very best. You've been training so hard, for weeks and months; that one minute of personal prayer could make the difference between victory and defeat.

Business people know that clinching deals often defies logic. When you expected to make money, you lost money, and vice versa. Before you enter a negotiation, begin a transaction or start a new day of work, ask the Creator to grant you success.

If you're a teacher, ask the Almighty to put the right words in your mouth so that you'll be able to give over the subject matter to your students in the most engaging, clear and comprehensible manner. Pray for your students' success as well and wait and see how you soon become teacher of the year…

If you're a homemaker or a husband who helps with the cooking, ask the Almighty to help the food, cake, challah or whatever you're cooking or baking to come out successfully.

At this point, many people ask, "Do these mini-prayers really help?"

They sure do. We don't come uninvited to other people's homes. By the same token, the Creator doesn't come uninvited into our lives. If we think we're capable of doing anything on our own, He lets us. Then, the results aren't always favorable. On the other hand, when we seek His assistance, He smiles down and says, "Beloved son or daughter, since you are seeking My help, I'm right here with you." This is a signed check from King David, who said, "Hashem is close to all who call Him – to all who call Him in sincerity" (Psalm 145:18).

With the Almighty close to you, you'll not only cross the street safely but you'll enjoy every other blessing in life, all for the tiny price of the precious moment of personal prayer.

May you enjoy an abundance of Divine blessings for everything good always!

With deepest friendship, Lazer Brody