The Talmud makes an apparently surprising statement when it says (tractate Taanit, 26b), "There were never such wonderful days for Israel as the 15th of Av (Tu B'Av) and Yom Kippur." The 15th of Av is nicknamed "Love Day" in Israel, for it's the day when matches were traditionally made, as described in the above-cited Gemora. Several questions arise: First, what does Yom Kippur have to do with "Love Day"? Second, many people dread the fast and the ax of judgment hovering over their necks on Yom Kippur, so why would it be described as one of the two most wonderful days for Israel?
Our Talmudic sages reveal their divinely-instilled wisdom by juxtaposing Tu B'Av and Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is also a "love day", when Hashem demonstrates his limitless love for His chosen people. For the mere price of a 25-hour fast and saying we're sorry, Hashem forgives us of all of our wrongdoings against Him. Important - Yom Kippur does not atone for the sins of man against fellow man!!
Imagine that your national government declared a retroactive annual moratorium on all tax violations and unpaid debts once a year, as long as you appear in federal court, apologize in public, and fast for the day. What a deal! A wild dream? In Judaism, it's a reality. When we fast, beg Hashem's forgiveness, and promise to try our best this coming year, Hashem wipes our debt slates clean! A wonderful day, or not?
The Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch) is like an iceberg: The statutes that teach proper conduct in every facet of our lives are only a mere manifestation of deep spiritual causes and effects that transcend time, place, and matter. What you see is only a tiny portion of the spiritual benefits you get.
During the period between Rosh Hashana and Yom kippur - what we call the "Ten Days of Repentance" - we can do wonders in mitigating harsh judgments. This is a propitious time for prayer and self-improvement. All Hashem expects of us is that we're a tiny bit better today than we were yesterday.
If up until now, you weren't careful about washing your hands first thing in the morning, here's a great chance to perform an easy mitzva that could save your life, literally.
Jewish law dictates that you should wash your hands as soon as you wake up in the morning, pouring water three times alternately on each hand from a large cup, a minimum of approx. 150ml on each hand. The apparent reason for the hand washing is that one inadvertantly touches or scratches unclean parts of the body at night, and before saying G-d's name, the hands must be clean. Yet spiritually, the explanation is much deeper, as follows in a nutshell:
When you sleep at night, your soul leaves the body and enters upper spiritual realms. A body without a soul is tantamount to dead, even if the basic life forces continue functioning. When the soul leaves the body, as in the case of a dead person, the body is rendered ritually impure. Evil forces of the "Sitra Achra", or the dark side, easily control a person who is spiritually and ritually impure. That's why many people - especially Chassidim - put a pail with a large plastic or tin cup that holds a liter of water immediately beside their bed, so they can wash their hands even before taking their first step of the day, thus cleansing themselves from ritual impurity at their very first opportunity of the day. Why the hands? Spiritual impurity is especially concentrated in the fingertips, the point where the soul leaves the body.
One who harbors ritual impurity has difficulty believing in G-d or understanding the Torah, since ritual impurity acts as a barrier against Divine Illumination, thus preventing Divine light from reaching the soul. Only Divine light can nourish the soul. Therefore, an undernourished soul is easily vanquished by the animal urges of the body. The minute the body reigns, the person becomes a slave to base inclinations, and that's bad news, both in this world and in the next. You can study Kabbala day and night, but if you don't wash your hands in the morning, you're spiritually in the mud.
If you don't do so already, start washing your hands every morning, and within a week, you'll feel a marked change within yourself - LazerBeam guaranteed.
I tell you, I can see the redemption happening before my eyes!!
Two days ago I wrote a post about seeing signs of the redemption. You can scroll down a few posts to read it because I'm too lazy to post the link.
In that post, I jokingly said that grocery baggers would be another sign of our imminent redemption, because there's only one store that I know of in all of Israel that has them. Of course that's the American store that has tons of cheap, kosher American products at crazy high prices. Just because we live in Israel it doesn't mean that we should deprive our children (and ourselves) of Wacky Mac. Right?
Every other supermarket in Israel does not have grocery baggers. This was literally one of the hardest adjustments for me. I'm serious! I can't believe how much longer it takes to wait in line, plus bagging groceries, pushing an overloaded heavy shopping cart that refuses to go straight, plus putting all the groceries in your car. That's a lot of hard work! I'd gladly tip that overly qualified-looking guy in the picture to do all this for me. Not to mention, it makes the wait in line soooo much longer. Food shopping used to be fun for me, but not anymore. It's just too much work.
Never mind that I spend hours at the gym every day doing intense workouts. It's just different. You understand. Why do you have to find the closest spot to the entrance of the mall if you're going to spend the next two hours (at least) walking around? We humans are strange and complex creatures.
So, back to my point. Yesterday morning I did some last minute shopping in a new grocery store that opened up not far from my house. I went to the self checkout thingy as I always do at that supermarket chain, and started ringing up my groceries. I had brought two different fillets of salmon to the checkout, because obviously there were no prices on them and the stickers on the freezer didn't match up to the spot where they were sitting. Obviously.
So I asked the guy in charge of the self checkout thingies to tell me what they cost. Surprisingly, he started speaking to me in English. That right there was a shock, because this store is in a super Charedi area where Americans are afraid to venture, lest they get eaten alive, and second, because he was actually speaking to me. AND, he was so pleasant! After I decided which salmon I wanted, I went to put the other fillet back. When I returned, lo and behold, a shocking sight awaited me.
My groceries were sitting in my shopping cart, already bagged!
I thanked him profusely, and then went to pull out my credit card.
That's when I realized that I didn't have the credit card! David took it with him because he said he didn't want to be in the Ukraine without it. I think that was just an excuse so I wouldn't have unlimited, unsupervised spending ability. Like I didn't already. He can't read most of what's on that credit card statement because the stores are all in Hebrew or under a different name! In reality, he has no idea what I'm buying! Har, har, har!!
I had to take the receipt and go to the front desk, and of course there was no one sitting there. I asked three different people if they could help me out, and of course I stood there for nearly five minutes without anyone coming back. At this point, it was a serious test of patience. Finally, I got to pay and get out of there.
As soon as I got in my car, the irony hit me. Didn't I just say the day before that when people start bagging groceries this would mean the redemption was imminent?? And did it ever happen in the six years that I've been in Israel that someone else has bagged my groceries besides at the American store??
I started laughing. And laughing. Soon I was laughing so hard I was crying.
Hashem is amazing! You see? He listens to everything! He knows what we want, and He's happy to give it to us if that's what He feels is good for us.
OMG ANOTHER SIGN! I'm sitting on my balcony writing this, and there are drops of rain falling! Not much, but still - rain drops don't fall this early in the year!
I'm telling you, the Mashiach is here! Believe it and pray this Rosh Hashana with all your heart!
Now I have to go inside so I don't ruin yet another computer. I already ruined two in the past and cracked my phone screen this week. And last night I got a nail in my tire. Better check that out.
Wishing all of you amazing, special readers a happy and healthy Shana Tova and G'mar Chatima Tova!! Thanks so much for being a part of the Breslev Israel family! Your feedback and support mean so much to us. I am fully convinced that if we work together to continue bringing the teachings of emuna and gratitude to the world, we really can bring the redemption in the best, most joyous way possible. Here's to a wonderful new year filled with new opportunities and positive changes!
Oh, and you've just got to check out my delicious salmon recipe below!
OMG I hope my soul sister Sunny Levi isn't reading this. She's deathly allergic to salmon. I'm serious. Just looking at this picture might cause her to give birth.
For the rest of you, I thought I'd share this easy shmeezy recipe for salmon. Again, I don't have amounts. I just turn the bottle with the seasoning upside down and shake my arm vigorously like five or six times. I think I'm subconsciously trying to get some kind of workout by doing that.
Anyhow, here's the recipe:
-any cut of salmon you'd like. I use one long fillet. Of course, here there's no one to take the skin off, unless you go to the fish store and pay double.
-salt, pepper, minced garlic (lots!), paprika, dried dill (lots,) Dijon mustard, curry (not so much,) cumin (less than curry,) turmeric (a fair amount,) lemon juice (lots!), white wine, (LOTS!), and a little bit of olive oil. I think that's it.
-rub the seasonings and mustard into the fish.
-drizzle a little lemon juice, wine, and olive oil on top to help spread the seasonings, but save most of the drizzling for around the fish. Kind of like a white wine lemon juice fish bath. Sounds so luxurious.
-cover with aluminum foil (yikes!) and bake until it's done. You know I have no idea about baking times. Check it at 30 minutes.
This dish is great warm, but it's just as delicious cold. You can serve it as a first course with a nice baby greens salad.
And no, there's no Jubilee part. I just like the way it sounds.
Rosh Hashana is the King's coronation, when we crown Hashem as our King. People ask me why we leave our holy Land of Israel to go to the Ukraine on Rosh Hashana. The reason is simple: Rebbe Nachman himself told us before he left this world, Ish bal ye'ader - No one shall be missing, in other words, we Breslevers have a directive from our holy Rebbe of blessed memory to spend Rosh Hashana in Uman. This tradition was continued by Rebbe Natan zatza'l and by all subsequent generations of Rebbe Nachman's disciples.
Intrinsically, the main coronation of The King takes place in the Kloiz, the cental prayer hall near Rebbe Nachman's holy gravesite in Uman, which was the site of one of the greatest sanctifications of Hashem's name in history. During the Cossack pogroms of 1728, 33,000 Jews were brutally slaughtered after they refused to give up their ancient faith. Uman is the biggest teshuva and emuna factory in the world. Amazingly enough, last year there were 45,000 Jews praying together in Uman. This year, many more are expected.
Here from Uman, from Rebbe Nachman's holy gravesite, are our heartfelt blessings for you and your loved ones - Leshana Tova Tikatevu - may you be inscribed in the Book of Long Life for a wonderful New Year 5778, amen!
You're probably looking at this picture and wondering what I'm trying to show you.
PEOPLE!! Don't you SEE that gas station sign??
To most normal people, this looks like there's a gas station on the side of the road. But you'd be WRONG!
To this not normal person, that gas station sign has great historical symbolism.
You see, this gas station is not finished. It hasn't been finished since they started building it nearly four years ago. Ffffour years!
I ask you - is that normal? Even a high rise building can be completed in less than four years! Why is this gas station taking soooo long??
Before I reveal the answer, I'd like to explain my obsession with this gas station. It's no ordinary gas station, my friends. The back road that I'm driving on is a wonderful road that bypasses nearly all of Bet Shemesh from the East side. It cuts your travel time down to less than half versus driving through all of Bet Shemesh itself. I use it every morning to go to the gym and run other important errands, like shopping and... um... shopping. (I just gotta say that David pulled a smart move by taking the credit card with him. And it's a good thing we only have one, because I'm a professional at using credit cards.)
The nearest gas station is in the industrial zone in Bet Shemesh, and it's a pain to get in and out of when it's crowded. Wait! I just realized something so hysterically ironic. Right up the street from the gas station that I use is another gas station, but I never use that one because you need to make very sharp 90 degree turns to get in and out of there, and my big ol' van with the front bumper hangin' low as if it's too cool for school ain't doin' no 90 degree turns.
That gas station was built in three months. But that's not the ironic part! Just this morning, I was driving by it, and poof! Another gas station just appeared out of thin air! Right next door! Same crowded road, same problem getting in and out. So now we have three gas station within a 10 second walk of each other. Hysterical. Irony.
This gas station that's on the back road is a dream. Not only is it convenient and spacious, it even has a drive-thru car wash!!!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND??!!
A DRIVE-THRU CAR WASH!!!
THEY DON'T EXIST IN ISRAEL!!
And soon, God willing, Bli Ayin Hara, B'ezrat Hashem, For God's Sake, Goodness Gracious, G-d forbid, I will be able to drive my car up to the gas station in leisure, and then drive it through the car wash!! And the best part is that I won't have to deal with the crazy traffic in that part of town!
So that's all nice, and the wine is starting to kick in, and you're probably fed up of my nonsense by now, so I'll explain what in the world my point is. But first, the wine is calling my name.
Okay, now that that's done, let's get to the point.
Many people claim that our Final Redemption is around the corner. They say they can feel it. Well I can do better. I can see it, right in front of my face. I can see it in that gas station sign. There is no logical reason, aside from lack of funds, turning over the property, a lawsuit, or all kinds of other legal situations, that this gas station wouldn't be finished by now.
Therefore, since I don't know why it has been taking so long, I came up with a brilliant and slightly crazy theory. If you even think about using my theory in your name, I have patented it, and I will come after you. Be warned.
I fully believe that this gas station will be ready just in time for the arrival of our Mashiach. It's on a road that conveniently leads to Jerusalem in several different directions. It's stalling big time, just like our Redemption. It's way too convenient, and convenience isn't very Israeli. At least, not current Israeli. But it sure is redemption Israeli!
Next thing they'll do is put grocery baggers at every cash register like they do in the States. I'm willing to bet big money that the Mashiach will be here before or slightly after my fantasy becomes a reality. Grocery baggers are a luxury, so enjoy them, ya chutznikim. Look it up. I'm too lazy to explain what that word means.
I hope that this Rosh Hashana brings us our Final Redemption in all its glory, minus the blood and guts. I hope we will all be able to internalize that Hashem loves us and is always doing what's best for us, even if it's taking a really long time and we're fed up of waiting and driving to the edge of town to get some gas.
Let's do our maximum to be the best people we can be. Let's focus on being there for our families, our children, and our spouses more than anyone else. Let's talk to Hashem as much as we can.
May you all be blessed with a beautiful year filled with everything good! (Seriously. Does that make sense? Because I can fix it. Really.)
Warmest Wishes for a happy and healthy Rosh Hashana! Shana Tova and G'mar Chatima Tova!
Here's our Rosh Hashana Torah reading presented in animation and rap, for the whole family. Let the kids see how Yiddishkeit is not only enjoyable, but cool too. May you and yours be inscribed in the Book of Life for a healthy, prosperous, and emuna-filled wonderful New Year 5778, amen!
Oy, my stomach. I've had terrible stomach pains and cramps all morning. I think I visited the library at least 15 times in the past two hours. I must have overdone it on the MCT oil. That stuff is crazy strong! Unfortunately I don't feel up to jumping around in Zumba class this morning. And you'd think all these bathroom breaks I've been taking would have made my stomach nice and flat. But no. It's round and puffy from bloat.
But! Hashem does everything for the best, right? This morning things worked out perfectly. I woke up too late to prepare my usual delicious coffee that I look forward to every morning. My stomach started acting up as I was getting the kids ready for school, so I decided to hold off on the coffee. Usually I drink it as I'm making their lunch.
I miraculously managed to get my kids to school on time, but I was feeling worse by the minute. Not only were the cramps getting worse, but I was losing energy like a dying battery. There was just too much to do, so I decided not to use my common sense and relax until I felt better. Common sense is for weaklings!
And suddenly, as I was dragging myself around the house, trying to make the beds without falling into them, I realized that it was very pleasant outside. The mornings are so hot in the summer that even sitting in the shade is no fun. This morning, though, the air is cool and just perfect for enjoying a nice espresso and a gorgeous view.
So what's a few stomach cramps? I'm going to enjoy my coffee at my own risk. Oh, and my table is actually clean, so that helps.
I can't remember the last time I sat out on my balcony and just enjoyed the moment. It must have been at least since the spring! Isn't it crazy how time flies? Scary!
We all need moments like this, when we can just sit and relax. We don't even have to think about anything deep. Just enjoy the moment, that's it. These precious few times give us mental serenity and build up our tolerance for the annoyances and setbacks we'll likely experience later on. At least, hopefully. I mean, in theory it sounds good.
So go ahead. Enjoy your morning coffee! And while you're at it, enjoy this week's round of articles on Breslev Israel:
Rav Shalom Arush is on a mission to Save the World by telling everyone that having emuna is the key for being happy with your life.
Rav Lazer Brody tells the story of a few guys who also liked to enjoy their drinks, until one decided he could drink Anything but Whiskey. What's wrong with whiskey? Maybe I'll put some in my coffee. Sounds yum!
Are you ready to fall off your chairs? Then start drinking whiskey! But seriously, you DO NOT want to miss my latest, and I'm not saying that just because I wrote it. Well, obviously it's part of the reason, because I can't help but be a little biased. After all, I'm human. At least, I think I'm human. I may be more like a human/cheetah hybrid. David is convinced that this is the case, because when I get mad at him I bare my fangs at him. Why do I write these things?
Many of you may know that I am always looking for the truth regarding medical treatments and the agenda that mainstream medicine has. Not to say that it's all bad, because there are some very necessary and important parts that we should thank Hashem for. But, in the case of cancer, Big Medicine is failing miserably. Cancer rates are climbing exponentially every year, with no signs of slowing down.
And most of us think it's a genetic disease or bad luck.
Dr. Thomas Seyfried is one brave scientist that isn't afraid to tell the truth: that cancer is NOT genetic. Before you get all mad at me, read the article and watch the lecture that I've linked to in the article! You won't believe the simplicity of it!
After you read it AND watch the lecture, send me a comment and let me know what you thought!
Okay, I've got to catch up on some important reading, so as I run off, enjoy:
Dr. Zev Ballen: When the Blaming Doesn't Stop. I have no idea what he's talking about. I never blame anyone for anything, least of all my darling, sweet husband!
Dennis Rosen gives us great teshuva advice in his Rosh Hashana Recipe for Renewal. Dennis, I love your article, but I would have also loved if you would have included a keto-friendly Recipe for Chocolate Cake.
David Perlow has just scored massive points with me with his 5 Tips for Joy in Marriage. To quote: "TIP: Regularly give your wife a sum of money and say “Honey, this is for you to do whatever you want with for the home.” 'Nuff said.
Channa Coggan realized Hashem's Curriculum for her when her car refused to start. Seriously, Channa? Instead of getting upset you're in bliss and serenity? Share the love, woman!
You know what... I don't think that cappuccino was such a good idea after all.