By sharing the burden of life's difficulties, we create national unity. By creating national unity, we bring Moshiach and the full redemption of our people. Many people are asking how they can fulfill the mitzva of saying Kaddish for a deceased parent or loved one, when synagogues have been closed down because of the Coronavirus. Here's good news - Rabbi Lazer Brody, who is saying Kaddish anyway for his mother ob"m, will say Kaddish for you and it will count just as if you said it yourself. What's more, it won't cost you a cent. See today's podcast...
In this week's Torah portion, Moses begs Hashem to forgive the nation of Israel for the sin of the golden calf and says, "please pardon them of their sin, Hashem, for they are a stiff-necked people." (Exodus 34:9)
This week, we also read "Parshat Parah" (Numbers, Chapter 19), the episode of the Red Heifer, where we learn that every power in the universe can both purify or contaminate, depending on how it's used.
Look how the Torah reflects current events:
A stiff neck is the Torah's way of saying stubborn. Like any other character trait, stubbornness can go either way, for good or for evil. Throughout the ages, our righteous people have been so stubborn in their faith that they preferred to endure torture and death in sanctification of Hashem's Name rather than compromise their emuna. On the other hand, the riff-raff of our people have always stubbornly refused to recognize Hashem's monarchy and His Divine Providence, choosing the path of publicly and blatantly trampling the Torah's laws, from the time of Moses to the present.
Hashem is not some old lady in the sky that can do nothing against the Corona Virus, Heaven forbid. The first principle of our emuna is the "He alone did does and will do every deed." The Coronavirus, like all powers of evil, are emissaries of the Almighty and the executioners of stern judgment in the world. But like all powers, they can be harnessed to do good as well. For example, if the Coronavirus succeeds in bringing people to assess themselves and cast aside evil ways while striving to get close to Hashem, then it is intrinsically good. In fact, the Coronavirus could be one of the key catalysts of Moshiach. Here's how:
Here in Israel, there have always been problems of government-sanctioned breaches of Torah. Although every person has the right of free choice to do as he or she pleases, they will ultimately be called to account for their deeds. But, the Government of Israel, who bases its right to the Land of Israel by virtue of the Torah, has no right to trample the Torah. The Ministry of Culture and Sport never interfered with stadiums and theaters that publicly desecrated the Shabbat, but the Corona virus is putting an end to that: the latest Health Department Directives are now prohibiting stadium and theater attendance and all many other mass public desecrations of Shabbat. The Government has always sanctioned the lewd public displays of debauchery known as the Pride Parades, and that too won't happen anymore.
Before our very eyes, the amenities of the material world of indulgence, especially here in Israel, are shattering into smithereens. The stock market here went down a whole 7% today, Ben Gurion airport is a ghost town, and restaurants and night clubs are empty. El Al has put 80% of its work force on forced vacation.
The medical world, both here and abroad doesn't have an answer to Coronavirus. No one can outsmart Hashem, especially the politicians. In Israel, we're still without a government, for Hashem is showing that there's no salvation in the politicians of both right and left, all of whom care about nothing except grabbing power. Let's hope that they soon wake up and realize that there is no power but Hashem.
Hashem wants to bring Moshiach, but our stiff-necked people over here who think that we can live without Hashem and His Torah, Heaven forbid, are now getting a wake-up call. Unfortunately, our history shows that not many people will wake up; our Torah tells us that only 1 out of 5 left Egypt; the other 4 denied Hashem's miracles, Divine Providence and the redemption from Egypt so they stayed behind and perished during the three days of darkness.
But here's the good news, both in the material world that is tailored to reflect the spiritual world and in the spiritual world itself. The same power of destruction has the power of healing. Atomic power can either illuminate a city or blow it into oblivion. The same virus that kills can be harnessed into a life-saving vaccine. The Midrash, Gemara and the Zohar all tell us how even Ashmedai, the king of demons and the mafia boss of the dark side, what we call the Sitra Achra, was harnessed to do good.
The Zohar tells us that Ashmedai taught King Solomon an important Halacha, namely, that a person must pay full price for a mitzva, because if a mitzva is free, the dark side can hijack it and contaminate it.
What's more, the Midrash Aicha tells us that Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai went to Rome in attempt to convince Caesar to rescind the harsh edicts against the Jews in the Land of Israel; this was a mission impossible. But, because Rebbe Shimon was such a perfect tzaddik, Ashmedai came to his aid. Ashmedai penetrated and possessed the brain of Caesar's daughter. She went crazy screaming day and night and making the palace in Rome unbearable. One day, she started screaming over and over, "Bring me Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai" – Caesar summoned Rebbe Shimon, who warned Caesar that in order to cure his daughter, all the glass in the palace will be shattered. Caesar agreed. Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai whispered in the ear of Caesar's daughter and told Ashmedai to leave her, but allowing him to break all the palace glass instead. The daughter was cured and the evil edicts were annulled.
The holy Ariza'l explains in his classic work "Etz Hachaim" that Ashmedai has the power of doing good or evil because he comes from the klipa of Noga, which can go either way, for it separates between holiness and the opposite.
The world at large and Israel in particular are suffering now from coronavirus and in a near panic. Panic doesn't solve anything. Read this week's Torah portion and you'll see that Moses is defending us by calling us "a stiff-necked people", in Hebrew, עם קשה עורף,which has a numerical value of 871. And guess what, if we say that "Coronavirus is Ashmedai", in Hebrew that would be נגיף הקורונה אשמדאי, also a numerical value of exactly 871. This is a clear message that when we're too stiff-necked to do teshuva and to strengthen our emuna while throwing away the lusts and follies of this world, Hashem sends a messenger like Ashmedai and the Coronavirus to soften our stiff-necks.
Why wait for Ashmedai and the Coronavirus to wake up? Why not start talking to Hashem, praying in your own words, praising His Name and asking to get close to Him? Hashem taught Moses that 515 prayers, "V'etchanan" has the power to rescind harsh judgments and overturn nature, and that's the way Hannah – who was childless – prayed to have children. 515 is not only the Gematria, numerical equivalent of תפלה - tefilla, prayer, but also of שירה - shira, songs of praise, as well as ואתחנן - v'atchanan, pleading to Hashem. These are the spiritual remedies of נגיף הקורונה – the Coronavirus, which by no small coincidence is exactly 515.
It's time for emuna. The barometer of emuna is one's desire to pray. Emuna and teshuva are what we need now, because Moshiach is fast on the way, as we see that the entire world is trembling from fear of the Coronavirus. Don't wait until it's too late. Soon, the whole world will be trembling from fear of Hashem, when He reveals Himself with miracles that defy nature and hasten the Geula, our full redemption, speedily and in our days, amen. Stay healthy and have a wonderful Shabbat!
In a mad rush to prevent the global pandemic of coronavirus, researchers are looking for all types of defensive measures, such as boosting people's immune systems and looking for antibodies that prevent the penetration of coronavirus into healthy human cells. The difficulty of coronavirus is that its protein-like spikes serve as daggers that pierce and penetrate healthy cells. From a spiritual standpoint, though, I would take an offensive measure, and use a spiritual equivalent of what the pharmaceutical world calls antivirals, substances that fight off viral infections by attacking the viruses themselves. The power that knocked down the impregnable walls of Jericho can surely knock down the walls of the coronavirus.
The advantage of antivirals is that they attack different parts of the virus and thereby prevent it from entering cells friendly cells. Antivirals weaken the virus even before they destroy it and that way slow or even stop its power of infecting healthy cells.
The problem with the coronavirus is that its attack spikes, in addition to being offensive in nature, protect the coronavirus cell wall and therefore make it almost impregnable. That's why researchers are trying to protect against coronavirus rather than destroy it, which is a task no one has a strategy for.
If you remember our emunabeams podcast from this past Feb. 9, we showed how the root of the epidemic was in heresy and lack of emuna. I suggest you back and hear that podcast.
Hashem runs the world measure-for-measure. If we look at the world through emuna eyes, we can see a spiritual protection and even solution for destroying the apparently impregnable viral wall, which is actually a double fortification. Viruses have an outer wall of a protective protein coating underneath the spikes that seals the whole virus cell and then an inner wall called a nucleo-capsid that protects the viral DNA.
The coronavirus double-protective walls are tough to destroy. But let's look back in history. Israel coming out of Egypt had no chance or no military strategy for penetrating the Walls of Jericho. Joshua had no idea what to do. He poured his heart out to Hashem in such powerful prayer that Hashem illuminated his brain with a prophecy that manifest itself in what we know today as the Aleinu prayer, a prayer that we pray three times daily, every day, all year long including Shabbat and holidays.
The Chofetz Chaim writes in the Mishna Berura that the Aleinu prayer must be said with tremendous awe and intent, because the Almighty with all of His Heavenly Legions listen and respond, "Happy is such a nation" (Mishna Berura, Orach Chaim 132:2, letter chet). Let's ask ourselves: there are other extremely important prayers, yet here, the Chofetz Chaim gives us marching orders of "tremendous awe and intent". Why Aleinu in particular?
Encapsulated in the Aleinu prayer is the entire Jewish faith, the task on earth of the Jewish People, both in regard to themselves and in regard to the entire world, and the secret to Jewish success and survival, as we'll soon see.
Jericho was virtually impregnable. Its high and thick walls could not logically be breached with the weaponry of the time. What's more, its residents were fierce fighters. Joshua saw no rational chance of victory. He therefore said this prayer seven times, each time he circled the city. And, as the Chassam Sofer explains, after he circled the city for the seventh time, Hashem personally knocked down the walls of Jericho and delivered the city into Joshua's hands.
The Dark-side forces of Jericho were so great that its conquering could only be done through the miracle of Divine intervention.
The same goes for coronavirus.
The Jewish People are the People of Emuna in the Land of Emuna with the task of spreading the light of emuna around the globe. Since Aleinu is the prayer of emuna, the Chofetz Chaim placed so much importance on it.
Let's now see how the Aleinu prayer is encapsulation of the entire Jewish faith, the task on earth of the Jewish People, both in regard to themselves and in regard to the entire world, and the secret to Jewish success and survival:
- Encapsulation of the Jewish faith: as the Rambam says in the first principle of Emuna, Hashem is Creator and Director; he alone did does and will do every deed. Aleinu tells us that He is the "Master of all", the One who "forms all of creation," that "He is our G-d, there is none else," and that "He will reign forever and ever."
- The task on earth of the Jewish People: our individual task is to internalize the principles of our faith, which we mentioned in the previous point of "Encapsulation". Aleinu obligates this, as it says, "And you shall know today, and internalize in your
heart, that Hashem is the only God, in the Heavens above and on Earth below. There is no other." Not only must we know this, we must review emuna every day, even after we internalize it.
- The Jewish People's task in regard to the world: as "Light unto the nations," it's our job to do everything we can so that "all living flesh to call Your name." We do that by spreading emuna. This is the correction of the world, Tikkun Olam, which is our solemn responsibility.
- The secret to Jewish success and survival: we have no power on our own. A Jew must know that "we put our hope in You, Hashem our G-d, to soon see the glory of Your strength". Hashem is the source of all our strength and all our abundance. There is no one but Hashem!
Joshua's emuna and trust in Hashem, as conveyed in the powerful Aleinu prayer, had the power of knocking down the impenetrable walls of Jericho. Similarly, this prayer when said with fervor can knock down the walls coronavirus that threaten us. Whatever you do, don't chase out of shul at the end of davening. Say Aleinu with all your heart and you too will see Hashem's miraculous salvation for you, your family our people Israel and all of humanity that throws away its idols and heresy, very soon, amen!
Recently, when I spoke at a girl's school in Brooklyn and discussed the importance of a person having his or her own personal relationship with the Creator and speaking to Him daily, a young lady shot up from her seat and said, "Hey Rabbi, what you're talking about might have applied to Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah and other holy women mentioned in the Torah, but not to me and my generation. How could God possibly care about me, especially when I'm far from Torah and holiness and all that stuff? What does He need me for anyway?" Here's what I answered her:
Click here for your free mp3 download of today's podcast.
Today's Emuna Beams podcast comes from the holy gravesite of Rebbe Meir Baal HaNess in Tiberias, where we learn the miraculous power of Rebbe Meir's emuna, something we can all tap into.
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:
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):
- One must relieve oneself as soon as one feels the need, without delay.
- One must be modest in the toilet, and not relieve oneself in front of other people unless there is a partition.
- One must be careful not to overly strain, for it could create problems in the colon.
- One must not think about Torah or Torah-related subjects in the toilet; instead, think about mundane matters such as business or commerce.
- 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.
- 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.
On today's podcast (which you can hear below), we mention a prayer that can turn difficulties into diamonds. The prayer, which I had the privilege of composing, is based on a quote from the holy Rebbe Avraham Dov of Avritch, osb"m, aka "The Bat Ayin". He says: "Anyone who believes that all the events in his/her life are the product of Hashem's Divine Providence brings compassion from the Upper World down to this world."
Prayer for Turning Difficulties into Diamonds, composed by Rabbi Lazer Brody:
"Master of the World, I believe with a full and complete belief that my difficulties, troubles and challenges, particularly the one I am facing right now, are from You and a result of Your precision Divine Providence that never makes mistakes, for You are perfection. Although I might not know why I am suffering this difficulty, I believe with full and complete belief that You love me and that You are giving me this challenge for my very best. Please, Father in Heaven, as I willfully accept this tribulation, please willfully accept my prayer for ___________________ (plug in the blank with whatever "diamond" you want to ask for)."
The above prayer really works. To hear how, listen to today's podcast, directly below:
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."
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."
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."