Maybe you think that something is impossible - teshuva and emuna say that it is not. Maybe you think that you can't pick up a large-sized rock, but teshuva and emuna say that you can move mountains. People procrastinate and delay their Elul-obligation to prepare for Rosh Hashanah -that's regrettable, because it's really so simple and so very rewarding.
Today's podcast is not only enjoyable and inspiring, but it gets quite a bit done in 6 minutes, as follows:
1. Takes the confusion out of our task in Elul;
2. Provides simple but effective preparation for Rosh Hashanah;
3. Guarantees good health and adequate income.
Who can refuse such a deal? Not only does it not cost you a cent, but you may download this mp3 and share it with as many people as you like, courtesy of Emuna Beams and our wonderful supporters who, with Hashem's loving help, make this happen.
Did David and Batsheva really sin? Here's an in depth lesson from chapters 11 and 12 of the Book of Samuel II, with a very practical and vital message for each one of us (54 minutes). Enjoy and have a wonderful new week!
Here's a delightful Jewish parable that gives us wonderful advice in making the best out of the new month of Elul and preparing for Rosh Hashanah:
Today's lesson is about the Torah's commandment of judging another person fairly. Some people wonder why they have troubles in their life, especially when on the whole, they are mitzva-observant people. The Gemara says that they should double-check themselves in the mitzva of judging others fairly, because people violate it right and left without even thinking. What's worse, the EI (Evil Inclination) gives them the sanctimonious feeling that they're doing a mitzva, talking about how someone else isn't learning Torah or serving Hashem properly. The Chofetz Chaim reminds us in his classic Shmiras Halashon – Guard your Tongue – that judging others fairly is one of the 31 mitzvoth involved in wholesome speech. In Klal Gimel, rule 3, he says that the terrible aspect of failing to judge another person fairly is that the person is simultaneously guilty of Lashon Hara – evil speech. The Gemara in tractate Arachin 15b stresses that Lashon Hara is worse than idolatry, debauchery and bloodshed combined. Therefore, many of a person's tribulations can be traced back to forbidden speech that he or she never atoned for.
King David says twice, in Psalm 115 and in Psalm 135, "They have eyes but they don't see." Jeremiah the Prophet repeated the same passage. On surface value, it looks like they're talking about idols made out of wood and stone. The Dubner Maggid and many other of our sages point to the universality of this passage that it applies to our generation. "They have eyes but they don't see." In other words, they don't see things the way that Hashem and His Torah want them to see. They forget about such mitzvoth like judging others fairly. Our sages say that the difference between a wise man and a fool is that while the wise man sees the world through eyes of Torah, the fool sees the world with no understanding of what he sees. Therefore, Hashem cannot share the secrets of the Torah with a fool but freely shares the secrets of Torah with a person who is not only wise but refrains from evil speech and always looks for the good in others. You know what this means? If you see a rabbi or apparent Torah scholar who talks bad about others, then his knowledge if far from the truth and he's not the real deal.
Don't think that I'm speaking theoretically. Let me tell about something that happened to me just days ago, and you'll see how serious judging others fairly and refraining from slander are, especially in the era of social media.
Between 2 wars and 20 years of combat-duty service that included extreme exposure to gunfire, artillery and explosions - and now, having hit my seventies - I suffered an acute hearing loss. I tried all kinds of recommended hearing aids from leading companies and they just didn't seem to help. I don't have a problem with volume, but I lost over 80% of high-frequency hearing that you need to differentiate between consonants. I couldn't tell the difference between a bear and a pear or between a sheep and a creep. I finally discovered the Israeli representative of a wonderful Swiss firm named Phonac. They made a custom in-the-ear hearing aid for me (image, above) that brought my hearing back from an overall score of 50% up to 90% - what a joy! The problem was, that since they are so sensitive, every time my payos (sidecurls) would brush up against them, I get static that sounded like a hurricane wind blowing through the treetops. I didn't know what to do until Hashem gave me the simple idea to tuck my payos behind my ears like the Lithuanian world does. Voila! All of a sudden, I heard crystal clear! I could hear paper rustling, the clock in my office ticking, my keyboard clicking, the birds chirping and things I haven't heard for 40 years. For me, that's the Irish lottery! Like they say in the British Parliament, the Ayes have it! From now on, the payos go behind the ears!
This is only the beginning of the story. I now posted new profile pictures on Facebook and Twitter (image, right). One person starts an avalanche, with a tiny little snowball of a comment, "Where's Lazer's payos?" Usually, when people call me "Lazer" instead of Rabbi Brody or RebLazer, I can expect incoming fire of sarcasm or disparagement, because some joker has decided to strip me of my hard-earned ordinations. That's par for the course, because anyone who sincerely teaches emuna is a target for the EI. At any rate, someone else says, "Wow, he must have gone off the derech." I don't even want to repeat what the third, fourth and fifth people had to say. Thousands of people saw this thread before I deleted it. Only one righteous woman told everyone to shutup and she gave a simple explanation, "I'm sure his payos are behind his ears." Young lady, you were 100% right. The Gemara promises that just as you have judged me fairly, Hashem will judge you fairly – that's a signed check from the Gemara and the Chafetz Chaim. If you look at the photo on today's Emuna Beams, you'll see just how correct you were.
Now, stop and consider the troubles in your life. Stop and think about the instant judgments you might have made about other people or the things you might have said about them that disregard a load of facts that you're not aware of and just don't reflect the truth. The Heavenly Court regards that as tantamount to idolatry and punishes in accordance. Very few people take this into account when, even when they assess themselves and do teshuva daily. Why? Because they don't think they did anything wrong! These types of transgressions are unthinkably dangerous, especially with a seemingly innocent comment on social media turns into a jamboree of insult that thousands of people see. To make effective teshuva, you have to find every one of those people that heard what you said or read what you wrote and tell them that you made a terrible mistake. Who can do that! Is it worth the terrible punishments? No way…
Psalm 34 tells us that if we want good lives then we must guard our tongues and the Chafetz Chaim stresses that judging others fairly is an integral part of guarding our tongue.
What's the best advice, especially with Rosh Hashana right around the corner? If you can't judge a person fairly, don't judge at all. And if you can't speak complimentary about others, don't speak at all. Don't listen to lashon hara either because it's just as bad as speaking it. That's the healthiest and safest road to travel. Hashem wants us to be human, not statues of wood and stone that have eyes but cannot see. Really, the only way to completely maintain a clean tongue is to strengthen emuna, because if a person believes that Hashem is with him or her, and knows everything that they are thinking, much less saying, then they'll never speak or write or even think a derogatory thing about anyone.
If we all commit to judge others fairly, we uproot the intramural hate that destroyed the Second Holy Temple and invoke such Divine mercy where Hashem will get rid of Coronavirus and all the suffering of exile and bring us home to our rebuilt Holy Temple with Moshiach and the full redemption of our people, speedily and in our days, amen! G-d bless and have a wonderful Shabbat.
Hear the above lesson on the mp3 player below, or download it here:
If you don't think that our Talmudic sages saw far into the future with their crystal-clear spiritual vision, then hear today's podcast, which shows just how the holy Raba bar Bar Chana saw what would happen in our generation in general, and with the upheaval of COVID-19 in particular.
Our message today is intended to be a spiritual antidote to all that's trying to pull us down and to enable us to truly feel good about ourselves. The "Three Weeks" period is a time to yearn for Moshiach and the Holy Temple, but not a time to be sad or depressed. Enjoy this and have a wonderful new week:
Today's podcast is dedicated to the loving memory of Jack R. Cohen, Yaakov Yisrael ben Chaviva A"H
There is a terrible phenomenon, even within "religious" circles, of scoffing at baalei teshuva, converts and Noahides because of their pure and innocent desire to strengthen faith and get closer to Hashem. And even within many "religious" communities, people scoff at those who strive past group norms of mediocrity. Today's podcast is a message of encouragement to the victims of the scoffers, who like King Solomon says, will have the last laugh at the scoffers.
Headlines like this and this make me cringe. Do the anti-emuna politicians, medical establishment and media really believe that they can defeat Hashem? They thought they did. They even started boasting membership in the post-Corona club...
Such anti-emuna bravado hits the fan quickly.
For quite a few days, there were no new Corona outbreaks in Israel, then all of a sudden, over the Shavuot weekend, there has been an outbreak of new cases. Now, there's a whole debate going on whether this is the continuation of Round 1 or the beginning of Round 2. Could this be a message from directly from Above? What does it mean? Did the gong sound for the beginning of COVID 19, Round 2? Let's hear today's emuna news analysis:
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev says that if you believe you can ruin something, then believe that you can rectify it. This is not just a pleasant expression, but a signed promise in the Torah. The second chance we all get is a much more effective way to beautify and overhaul ourselves than plastic surgery, and a whole lot cheaper...