Short Idea- Pesach 5783- Finding True Freedom💡
One of the main ideas and focuses of the holiday of Pesach🍷 is freedom. Hashem freed us from our slavery in Egypt. We became a free people, a people free to serve Gd in our own land, after our years of exile and wandering in the desert.
How can we connect to the concept of freedom today, as Passover approaches? How do we find true freedom in our lives? 🤔
I have been learning this month about the third step of the 12 Step program from a powerful💥 daily learning book someone recommended to me last year. Step 3 of the 12 Steps of recovery is the decision to give our lives and our desires over to Gd’s providence💖. It is the belief that only He can heal us and set us free from everything which holds us down. Freedom from all of the actions and thoughts that hurt us and hurt others. In recovery it is taught that if we truly live this step everyday, we will begin to experience real freedom. The freedom of feeling and knowing that everything does not depend on us, we don’t need to carry everything on our shoulders🤗. Many times we have an overdeveloped sense of responsibilty, which causes us pressure. Step 3 teaches us to give our lives over to Gd, since the truth is that really He is in charge of everything. We just need to try our best everyday to make good choice and live a healthy life. Step 3 will give us the gift of quiet and peace inside our souls❤. We can sit in the back seat of the car (so to speak), relax, and let H’ take the keys. Step 3 gives us the freedom to live each day as best as we can, and to let go of the past and the future, which are not in our hands anyways. One of the spiritual principles of the recovery program is Only Today. I only have the day in front of me to try to be healthy. I only need to try my best, the results are not up to me. Let Go and Let Gd. 🤩
Rebbe Nachman teaches in the second teaching of Sichos Haran, Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom🔥: “It is very good for a person to throw himself upon Gd, and to rely only upon Him. My (Rebbe Nachman) way is that when the day begins I give over all of my actions, mine and those of my family and all of those who depend on me to Gd. I pray that everything should be according to His will.”
May everyone have a beautiful Pesach of feeling the taste of freedom!
Short Idea- Being connected and happy💡😃
In Ran Weber’s new book, Connected, מחובר, he teaches about happiness and satisfaction in work and our daily lives based on Rebbe Nachman’s powerful story💥, the Sophisticate and the Simpleton. In the conclusion of his book, after discussing some of the main, practical understandings and advice that we can learn from the Rebbe’s story, he writes: To live a life of connection is the greatest gift 🤗that we can give ourselves… In a generation of chronic disconnect, where technology and a lifestyle of enjoyment drag us outwards, without a doubt, it’s not simple to choose to act differently…” (page 288)
One of the challenges aspects of this time of year🧐, as we begin the winter, after the inspiration of the month of Tishrei, is returning to the daily grid. Another day of work, another day of school. The daily grid. It can feel boring and we struggle to feel inspiration and connection💔. How can we be more connected to ourselves and to our lives?🤔 How can we feel more connected? How can we choose a life of internal connection to our souls in the face of an external culture?
These are deep questions which the book addresses. As I was thinking about these questions, I thought about my daily practice of personal prayer, hitbodedut. I think that the path of personal prayer, Rebbe Nachman’s advice🔥 to meditate and be with ourselves every day in seclusion, helps us to become more connected and find meaning and happiness in life.
In my experience this is one of the most powerful and real ways to be more connected to our souls, to our lives and to others.💖 When we give ourselves this quiet time for reflection and prayer, we give ourselves a place to take a deep breath and to disconnect from the noise of the outside world for a little bit. We connect to where we find ourselves at that moment. We can let ourselves ask questions, meditate on what we feel and why, and pray over what we are lacking😞. We also give ourselves time to reflect on all of the blessings in our life.🤔 Taking time for ourselves helps us to re-engage with the world afterwards in a more composed and connected way.
Step 11 of the 12 Steps states: “We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious connection to God, as we understood Him, praying only to know His will for us and the power to carry that out.” Seeking to increase our connection with God by prayer and meditation will also have a positive influence on other areas of our life, it will help us to live a more positive, connected life. Amen.
Short Idea- Elul 5782💡
Opening our hearts to new knowledge.🤗
There are many things to say and to write about this special month of Elul, as we prepare for the awesome days💥 of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, when everything begins again. This month is very powerful in its own right💪. The days of this month are known as days of love and mercy, where we can renew ourselves and obtain new levels of closeness. The most famous acronym for this month is the verse “I am to my beloved, and my beloved is to me.”
Rebbe Nachman teaches in Likutei Eitzot🔥, the book of Advice, that the month of Elul is the opportune time to merit new knowledge, to know and to understand that which was hidden to us previously🧐. Through the light of this new knowledge we reveal new levels of our soul. This new light of knowledge also protects us from suffering and difficulties. 💔
We suffer when we feel and experience something and we don’t understand why it is happening or why it is good for us. However, if we had true knowledge in that moment, that we are being helped and protected by Gd, that everything is good for us, that we are loved; we would not suffer.💖 This month is a special time to seek and to request from Hashem to have new and deeper understanding about our lives and our mission. To request feeling His love throughout the year🙏.
One of the principles of the 12 Step program is openness🤗, being open to change and to new understandings, about life and about ourselves. The second step states: We have come to believe that (only) a power greater than ourselves can return us to sanity. I think that this is what Rebbe Nachman is teaching us here🤔. When we are open to learning more and seeking new knowledge, knowledge which brings healing to our souls, this brings us to sanity, to composure, and to being present and happy in the moment.😃 It helps us to feel faith and love in our lives.
May we all have a beautiful and powerful month of renewal and insight.🙏
Short Idea- Parshat Ekev 5782💡
Speech and Encouragement
After Tisha B’av💔 we begin to read seven special haftarot which speak of prophecies about the final redemption. They are called the seven special parshas of comfort❤️. In addition, the special parshas that we read during this time of year are filled with Moshe Rabeinu’s words of faith and encouragement; reminding us of our special, eternal relationship with Hashem💥. I remember once🤔 a chevruta of mine in Shomria said that the book of Devarim was his favorite book of the Torah due to this- the amazing way that Moshe gives chizuk, encouragement, to Am Yisrael. The words of faith and encouragement🔥 which a tzadik gives over in his teachings stays with us forever.
How can we bring this more into our lives? How can we also feel this today? In addition to learning these parshas with an open heart and mind, we too can also share words of faith and encouragement. Our speech has a lot of power. We all have words from our heart that can lift someone else up. We have light to share💖. When we share faith and encouragement, when we say a compliment or a good word to someone else, it can really help them and have an impact on them. Sometimes we have no idea💡 what good can come from the words we express.
The 12th step of the 12 step program teaches: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs. We all have a message of faith and healing that we can share with others.
Shabbat Shalom 🕯️🕯️
Short Idea- Parshat Devarim 5782💡
The Three Weeks- Galut השכינה. What are we missing? 🤔
What are we missing during these special and difficult days before Tisha b’Av?😢 What are we longing for? What are we lacking without the בית המקדש?💔
There is a beautiful book called the Soul of Jerusalem💥, a compilation of Rav Shlomo Carlebach’s teachings on the Temple and Jerusalem (Compiled by Rav Shlomo Katz). When I read this book it takes me to a different place inside, a place of comfort and longing. In the end it’s going to be okay🤗. The first chapter of the book talks about the Temple, what it was like to be there and what we are missing today. Reb Shlomo says (page 25): “In the Holy Temple, what Gd wanted me to do was so real and so clear, that it filled me with light and such a longing that all my life should be according to Gd’s will. I was as connected to Gd as my foot is connected to my brain. Our beings were all together and all together with Gd. In the Holy Temple, all our fears, doubts, arguments… they all faded away in the Oneness of Gd.”💥❤️
We are missing the feeling and the place inside where everything is clear in our life. Where all of our fears and doubts melt away. We knew in a completely revealed way that Hashem was with us at every moment. We didn’t suffer from disconnection💔, we were deeply connected to our souls and to those around us.
Many of our pains and struggles today are because we are missing the Divine presence and revelation which existed in the Temple.
May our experience and observance of the nine days and Tisha b’Av be one of recognizing what are truly missing and yearning for the full revelation of Gd’s presence in our lives. Amen.
Short Idea- Parshat Matot 5782💡
There is a popular Jewish podcast I enjoy listening to called Meaningful People.💥 This week the guest was a Rabbi, teacher and musician from Israel, Shlomo Katz. At one point during the interview, the podcast co- host, Nachi Gordon, asked Rav Shlomo about a powerful, beautiful song released a few years ago, Everlasting Love🔥💖. Rav Shlomo shared about the powerful experience of how recording that song on an album called Only You had changed his life. The song is based on a prophecy which describes how even if the mountains will crumble and everything will fade away, God’s love for his people will never end, will never fade💪. What we want to feel so deeply and what we want to give over to our loved ones and those around us is Hashem’s eternal love for his people😍. Many times the pain we feel in life is because this everlasting love is hidden from us.😢
How do we reveal this everlasting love more in our lives?🤔
The Zohar Hakadosh teaches that each mitzvah is another way; each mitzvah is a special piece of advice how to connect to Hashem, how to reveal the deep love that exists between us🤗. In Hebrew the word mitzvah is also related to the word צוותא, which means together, connection. Every mitzvah helps us connect to this eternal love. 🙏May this principle help us seek this deep, eternal love each and every day. May it turn our mitzvah observance and our relationships into something so much deeper and more connected. Amen.🙏
Short Idea- Parshat Pinchas 5782💡
Thank You Hashem🙏
אני אסיר תודה
Last week was our aliya day. The day we merited to make aliya seventeen years ago. I felt a special sense of thankfulness on this day for our life in Israel🙏. Hashem has blessed us with so many gifts. We have so much to be thankful for. There are so many undeserved and unexpected gifts along the way❤️. However, much of the time many of us are not focused on the gifts in our life. We tend to focus on what is lacking, on what bothers us💔. How can we increase our awareness of the chesed, the kindness, which surrounds us?🤔🧐
One avodah which I have been practicing as part of 12 step program is writing down ✍️each day in my journal things that I am thankful for. I try to spend a few minutes each day to contemplate and recognize how many gifts Hashem has blessed me with.💖 Giving time each day to focus and meditate on what we are thankful for can help us change our focus and perspective in life for the better💥. It changes how we see things. Even if there is difficulty and pain, we can still recognize the mercy and kindness which is truly surrounding us.
מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקיים שהחזרתי בי נשמתי רבה אמונתך.
Shabbat Shalom 🕯️🕯️
Short Idea- Parshat Chukat 5782💡
Meditation and Healing
It is taught in the 11th step of the 12 Step program: “We seek by way of tefilah (prayer) and meditation to improve our conscious connection with God,🤔 according to our understanding; our goal in our prayer is only to know God’s will for us and the strength to fulfill His will.”
In our group last week, which is based on the 12 step program with a focus on meditation and introspection, we did a powerful series of breathing exercises, meditating on our emotions and experiences.🧐 Letting ourselves just to be with whatever we were feeling. Through the breathing we were able to accept and release whatever pain or experience came to the surface🤗. Meditation and therapy also helps us with separation. The more that we are able to give our emotions and experiences expression, in a safe space💖, before Hashem and with supportive friends and mentors, the more that it helps us not become mixed up and overwhelmed by difficult emotions. We can embrace all our emotions and not be controlled by them.🤗
This ancient practice of meditation was know to our Sages and forefathers, such as Avraham Avinu💥. As we get closer to the geulah, the ancient wisdom of Jewish meditation techniques and the inner light 🔥of the Torah are being revealed more and more. To find peace and healing in these turbulent times💔, our souls need the healing advice of the secrets of the Torah. They deepen our connection to Hashem and allow us to find inner healing. Amen.🙏
Shabbat Shalom 🕯️🕯️
Short Idea- Parshat Korach 5782💡
אוהבים אותך 💖
In this weeks parsha we learn about the powerful and painful story💔 of Korach and his rebellion against Moshe Rabeinu. According to many tzaddikim and rabbis, Korach, despite his great position and spiritual level, had jealousy of Moshe’s role as leader of the Jewish people😢. The Sages teach that jealousy takes a person out of this world. We see this very clearly with Korach. What can we learn for our lives today from the rebellion and downfall of Korach?🤔
In my opinion, we can learn about working on our love and acceptance of others.🤗
It is a practice in every 12 step group meeting (as far as I’m aware) to say to each group member after they finish sharing, אוהבים אותך, we love you💖. The other group members express love and acceptance of their friend, no matter what they have just shared with the group. We love and accept you the way that you are. We don’t express any judgement or criticism of the other group member🙏. Korach said to Moshe why do you raise yourself up above the rest of us?👺 He wasn’t able to accept Moshe’s role as the leader of Am Yisrael.
We also need to say to ourselves ‘we love you’.😍 I love you, you are good. The more that we work on loving and accepting ourselves, the more we will be able to love and accept others, without judgement and without jealousy.❤️💖
Short Idea- Parshat Shelach 5782💡
From the narrow place- Hashem always helps.
In our parsha, in Moshe Rabeinu’s prayer on behalf of Am Yisrael before Hashem, after the Sin of the Spies, he praises Gd as being patient and full of kindness, ארך אפים ורב חסד.💖
Rebbe Nachman teaches in Likutei Moharan💥, based on the verse in Tehillim “In the sorrow, You have given me an expansion”, that even in the difficulty or sorrow itself Hashem helps us. We can find Hashem’s kindness and help even in the difficulties themselves.🧐 (Likutei Moharan teaching 195)
I had surgery last week in the hospital and BH it was successful.🙏 As I reflected on the experience of the surgery and the recovery process that I’m in,🤔 I thought about this teaching from Rebbe Nachman. I was able to keep up with my daily journal writing✍️ even when I was in the hospital. In addition to turning to Hashem with my fears and pain regarding the surgery, I also was able to write down and reflect on the kindnesses I experienced during the time in the hospital.❤️ I had a nice room. I got a room after just a short wait. The staff were kind and helpful. I had time to rest. I had a really nice roommate. I had all the food I needed. My family was very dedicated and supportive. There were so many kindnesses surrounding me!❤️💖 Even in the difficulties there are so many things to be thankful for.🤗
Thank you Hashem, and thank you everyone for your prayers.🙏
Shabbat Shalom 🕯️🕯️