Friday, March 22, 2013

A Transformation of Mentality


Jerusalem_72929photo by  Giora's

G-d wanted to create a nation of princes and leaders and a transformation of mentality had to happen. Downtrodden slaves cannot lead, nor can they think highly of themselves or have lofty thoughts. Hashem therefore “played” with our enemies throughout the plagues, and even more so at the splitting of the sea, so that the children of Israel would see how much Hashem loves them by exacting punishment on their tormentors. It lifted their heads. (From: Rabbi Dovid Ostroff)
With Blessing for the best Shabbos of the year,
Dr. Zev Ballen

Oneness


I won't be able to give a lesson today due to the need to get ready for Passover, but here is a popular shir from a few months back. I hope you enjoy it!

Passover: Holiday of Emuna


Chag ha'emuna - If Passover is the holiday of emuna, the leil seder (night of the seder) is the Rosh Hashana of emuna The purpose of telling the Passover story at the seder is to entrench emuna into ourselves and the night of Passover is the time to work on it.
The more you describe the miracles of going out of Egypt, the more emuna you'll have. The way to do this is to imagine the hardships that they went through as if it were the holocaust and then how Hashem transformed the entire world for them. This gives us emuna by installing into our minds that Hashem has absolute control over the entire creation. (Slonim: I heard this from Rav Dovid Ostroff).
Today will never come again, make it the best day it can be!
With blessings,
Dr. Zev Ballen

Escape from the Box


In the Chut Shel Chesed Yeshiva in Jerusalem, there are so many people with amazing stories of what they were doing before they ended up in Rav Arush's yeshiva. Some of the students were five star chefs; others were world-class kick-boxers; there's professors and doctors and lawyers from top Manhattan law firms - and they gave it all up to come and study Rebbe Nachman's Torah in Israel. Why?
Because something, some message, some occurrence, hit them, and they all paid attention to what G-d was trying to tell them, and they acted on it.  Amazing things happen when we have the courage to act on the Heavenly messages we get. That's not to say that we go around making hare-brained or rash decisions. The correct approach is to...continue reading...
There's only one week left before Passover. These articles, by my esteemed colleagues will prepare you to enjoy the holiday to it's fullest:
Beyond Logic  By Rabbi Shalom Arush
Passover: Dread or Dream?  By Rabbi Lazer Brody
The Main Course  By Tal Rotem
Mess and Madness  By Racheli Reckles
Upstairs Downstairs  By Rick Eskenazi
EEEEEEmuna  By Rivka Levy
Shabbat HaGadol: No More Chains  By Rabbi Lazer Brody
Credit Cards: Two Sides  By Rabbi Berel Wein
Uplifting the Inner Animal  By Rabbi David Charlop
Blessings for a wonderful day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Triumph over Adversity


Are  children who undergo severe adversity likely to develop psychological and psychiatric problems later in life?
The psychological studies say that they are.
But that's not the case for all children. Especially kids who are raised by parents who live in accordance with the emuna principles of faith. For them, an adverse or traumatic event can even elevate them to greater levels of emotional and spiritual development than their peers. Here's how it works.



Staying on Track


Skagway Train into the mountains

photo by caniswolfie
Many people are afraid of life's ups and downs. But like the train track's hills and valleys, they are unavoidable. Emuna enables us to deal with challenges and changing situations while remaining emotionally 'on-track.' Just as the train tracks must constantly be maintained in good condition, so must our emuna (Rabbi Shalom Arush).
Blessings for a wonderful day,
Dr. Zev Ballen

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ultimate Marriage


New 'Ultimate Marriage' Program in Full Swing


Ultimate Marriage
A Six-Week Emuna Coaching Program
By Rabbi Dr. Zev Ballen
Dovesphoto by Digital Fly
The purpose of marriage

A peaceful loving marriage is life's most precious commodity. It's the only blessing that insures G-d's other blessings such as peace, happiness, spiritual growth, abundant income, good health, fertility, healthy children, and more! 

Why does marital peace rank first in serving G-d?

Because it is the primary receptacle of Divine Illumination and blessing for your life! The more  blissful and fulfilling a marriage you have, the more you'll feel G-d's  presence filling your home.

The expression that a man and his wife are one soul is not some simple platitude that sounds nice to the ear - it is a spiritual reality and the blueprint for the Ultimate Marriage coaching program. 

How to succeed

With Ultimate Marriage you'll see extraordinary success because of our uncompromising  adherence to the teachings of master coach and spiritual guide, Rabbi Shalom Arush; whose track record as a marital coach is nothing less than phenomenal. 

Over the past four decades, Rabbi Arush has personally helped tens of thousands of people to discover their own personal formula for marital bliss.  Millions more people have found comfort and inspiration in the books of Rabbi Arush.  His every word resonates with consummate wisdom and truth  and bring a person closer to G-d.

How has Rabbi Shalom Arush successfully diagnosed the root spiritual ills of today's marriages and prescribed remedies that work when psychological science has not? 
Simple.
Rabbi Arush's teachings are firmly girded in the perfect wisdom of Talmudic and Jewish esoteric thought. His teachings are crystal clear yet full of deep inner secrets that fill couples with a longing for each other and G-d.
We don't know of a couple, who has earnestly implemented Rabbi Arush's advice ,who have not seen a major subsequent improvement in their marital harmony and bliss.  There isn't a counselor or psychotherapist alive who can rival Rabbi Arush. His phenomenal record of success is simply incomparable.  

How it started

It startedwhen Rabbi Arush appointed his devoted student, Rabbi Dr. Zev Ballen, the mission of developing a marital enrichment program based on his teachings. Before he committed his life to learning Torah and spreading the teachings of Rabbi Arush throughout the world, Dr. Ballen was a psychotherapist with more than three decades of experience. Drawing from his deep well of clinical experience and his spiritual training under Rabbi Arush, Dr. Zev Ballen has created a bold and innovative approach to coaching couples. Ultimate Marriage works quickly by motivating, elevating and  transforming couples to levels of connectedness and fulfillment that they never knew before.

How it works

First you'll be empowered to believe in yourself and your marriage. Next you'll be helped to break through whatever has been blocking you from creating the extraordinary marriage that you've always wanted. Then you'll develop a passionate vision of what you want your marriage to become. And finally we'll provide you with the spiritual tools and strategies that are helping so many others.  We'll give you all of the support, follow-up and accountability that you'll need to succeed. Before long you'll be feeling more confident, more joyful, more productive and more in love than you've ever felt before. Your marital bond will become a deep well from which you'll draw inner strength and conviction, mental composure, and a zest for life that you'll share together for many years to come.

What are people saying about Ultimate Marriage?
Couple One: Saved from divorce

"I can't believe that this was all we had to do! It worked so fast! We were about to get divorced. What a tragedy that would have been. I'm embarrassed to say how simple it was for us to fall in love again!During the session, I literally felt something being lifted off me. I haven't been the same person since that day. Now my love for my wife knows no bounds. There isn't anything that I wouldn't do for her.  I owe this program my life!"

Couple Two: 'Our children are the greatest beneficiaries'

"For the first time, in our marriage, my husband and I are a team. Of course the greatest beneficiaries of this are our children. They see that we're so madly in love that they are also treating each other with more love and kindness. This, in turn, has brought indescribable happiness into the whole family. On Chanukah, after candle-lighting our whole family was lit up like a ball of fire sent from Heaven. We are so grateful to you and Rabbi Arush. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!"

Couple three: Floating on air

"We left your office floating on air. That one session was enough to show  me that my husband is the real deal, and that I don't have to worry about him 'pretending' to love me anymore; and it also reassured my husband that I am together with him 100%. Obviously Hashem is helping you in your work. May you continue to see great success and be blessed to help many more people."

Couple four: Tired of being roommates

"My wife and I came to you because we were tired of being "good roommates." As strange as it sounds, the problem was that never in our marriage did either of us feel love for each other. We didn't even know what love was. As miraculous as it sounds, in our first session, I felt I was given a brand new soul. I haven't been the same since and neither has my marriage. My wife and I still have our ups and downs but it's completely different now because we feel such a powerful incredible love for each other that we never had before. I would never have believed this was possible if I hadn't experienced it myself. G-d bless you and Rabbi Arush!"

Miraculous transformations

These  4 case studies involved four very different types of couples, who had very different circumstances. But in each instance, I was privileged to witness them breakthrough and lift their marriages to a higher level. And these changes all happened literally within a few minutes, or an hour or two. The pace of change that I'm seeing with our Ultimate Marriage program is the fastest I've seen in more than three decades as a psychotherapist. 

Program structure

The program works best when both partners are coached together although it's possible for men and women to be coached separately, or, in some cases, for only one partner to receive coaching. The program is flexible in this respect.  
There are a total of 6  coaching sessions. Each session is 1.5 hours in length. The sessions can take place either personally in Israel, over Skype or on the phone.

Program materials
  • A pdf copy of our beautifully illustrated workbook (separate workbooks for men and women) immediately upon enrollment
  • Books by Rabbi Shalom Arush:  Women's Wisdom (for women) and theGarden of Peace(for men)
  • English CD's of Rabbi Arush's teachings that reinforce each week's themes and topics
  • 18 Ultimate Marriage Tools
  • Progress rating scales
  • Individualized Personal Prayer Coaching
  • Discussion of weekly readings
  • Helpful questionnaires and lists
  • Specific measurable Goals for each session and week
  • Support, feedback, and close personal involvement with your coach
  • Step-by-outline
  • Prescribed morning and evening rituals
  • Special prayers written by Rabbi Arush
  • Spiritual Meditations
  • Strength-based solution-focused approach
  • Guided visualization
  • Rapid Relaxation training
Program costs
$995
Rabbi Lazer Brody's Endorsement

With Hashem's loving grace, it's my pleasure and privilege to give my wholehearted endorsement to Dr. Zev Ballen and his revolutionary "Ultimate Marriage" coaching program. Any person who participates in this program, which is solidly based on traditional Jewish teachings, will certainly see enhanced marital bliss and blessings, both material and spiritual. A happy marriage is tantamount to a personal redemption, and the more people attain their personal redemption, the sooner we'll see our national redemption and the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days, amen!

For more information about the Ultimate Marriage Program please call 1-718-577-2975 (or from Israel 02-532-3339), or email staff@breslev.co.ilThank you.
****************************************************************************
Remember Today's Live Broadcast 
G-d Willing we'll be broadcasting today's lesson live from the Chut Shel Chesed Yeshiva in Jerusalem at 5:00 PM Israel time. The broadcast, as well as my lessons posted are Mac and iPod compatible. If you tune in too early to the live broadcast link, you'll be sent to the main page of the Breslev Israel website.
G-d willing, we'll try and post a link to the lesson for all those who couldn't see it live by 12:o1 AM Monday (Israel time).
Every blessing,
Dr. Zev Ballen

The Power of A Decision


Shabbos dinner 
 Image Credit: Paul Jacobson
How can you be really happy on Shabbos? It's a decision - but  I'm not talking about a decision like "Oh, I really hopeI'll have a good Shabbos." No. It's got to be something that you want with a passion that leaves no room for anything else! This is the kind of decision that is more powerful than anything in this world
With Blessings,
Dr. Zev Ballen

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Rebbe's Smile

My Rebbe's smile is so beautiful and so real; lately I've been wondering about it.  The world is filled with beautiful people with beautiful smiles, but somehow when Rabbi Shalom Arush smiles - you feel something different - it's hard to describe. I've seen the 'confident' smiles of the wealthy and even of those rich in Torah scholarship - but my Rebbe does not smile like they do either.  I don't think I ever saw a real smile until I saw his.

What is his secret? What makes Rabbi Shalom so happy?  Does his pleasure come from being a best-selling author? No. He smiled before this.  Is he proud of the Torah institutions that he has built? No. He smiled before this. Is he smiling about his financial success, after years of poverty and debt? No. He smiled before this. Maybe Rabbi Shalom can smile as he does because he is proud of his achievements in learning or because of the beautiful children he has. No. He smiled before all of these. 

So what in the world is he smiling about?

I think that my Rebbe is smiling because he knows the deepest Truth about life and it just keeps nurturing him and giving him more and more pleasure all the time. He found this Truth when he was poor and unknown.  He realized that G-d is good and that He is the One Reality. Once my Rebbe saw that everything is G-d, it became impossible for him to complain about anything. He saw how much he had, and was grateful for it all.  Life became joyous, calm, sweet and worry-free. There were no more problems. There was only good.  My Rebbe's smile expresses his total and complete centeredness in Truth. When he smiles, he also wants nothing more than to share the Truth with you.  His passion to give can be found in his every intention; thought; movement and word. He has forfeited the illusion of 'self.' He is a limb of Hashem in this world. 

Imagine, for fun, how a Holy person would score on a 'cutting edge' 'highly reliable and valid' personality inventory.  The doctors would laugh at him like people laughed at the pure and simple man in Rebbe Nachman's story of The Wise Man and the Simple Man.  There are no psychological categories that can contain holiness.  If a tzaddik took a personality test, G-d forbid, he might appear psychotic, schizoid, isolative, obsessive, or grandiose. How ironic that the gatekeepers and guardians of 'sanity' spend their lives measuring thereality of others when they do not have a clue about what is real.  I am sorry to say that secular doctors know less about reality than our first graders do. Only Holy people are in touch with reality and only they can be happy. 

Why don't Holy people want to take pleasure from this world? It's because they have a highly developed sense of fairness. They think, "It's not my world and I didn't earn anything that I have. How much of a free gift can I take?" They  don't see any reason to feel pride or specialness either because whatever they have came from Hashem.   

So where does their great joy come from if not from this world? Their joy comes from detachment from this world. The Rambam said that the great holiness of a Jew is that he can live in Heaven and earth at the same time.  The Holy person's happiness comes from a place where there is only happiness and  only goodness - yet his feet are still on the ground. The tzaddik brings  indescribable joy, love and hope to us to purify us from this world. 

 A tzaddik's joy also comes from not having to depend on anything or anybody but Hashem. He is not  anchored to money or moored to honor. Like Hashem he hides himself and does not want to take credit for anything that he does. Since he is not attached to money, honor, material comfort - or even people - he is not afraid to die. He is free to fly away at anytime; and even while he lives, he is really not here. A tzaddik  knows the folly of this world and what happens to all our plans when we are called back to our service Above. 

As a disciple of Rabbi Arush, my job is to emulate him. How do I do that when the discrepancy between us is so huge? First, I try not to compare. Then, I tell myself that even I can smile. I can smile at my kids when I feel like yelling. I can smile at strangers when I want to ignore them. I can even smile and laugh at all the huge 'problems' that I have. 

Question: How real is my smile?  Answer: It is real enough for now. The main thing is to never give up.

Fear of the Sabra

Since moving to Israel, our kids have learned to prefer blunt honesty to sweet manipulation.  

Sam: Hi Dov. Do you mind if I ask you some questions about your Aliyah? I hope you won’t mind if I’m blunt.

Dov:  No problem Sam. That’s the Israeli way, direct and to the point. Fire away. 

Sam: I’ve heard its murder to get your kids into school… there’s so much discrimination against spoiled and materialistic Americans. Is it true?

Dov:  My nine year old daughter was accepted right away into the school we preferred best. I’m sure it helped that we had recommendations from her teachers and our Rabbi in America. Our 15 year boy didn’t want an American style Yeshiva so he applied to a very tough Israeli Yeshiva and was accepted on the condition that I hire a tutor to help him catch up on his Hebrew. No one there spoke a word of English, including his teachers. Within a month, my son, who is of average intelligence, was speaking Hebrew. 

Sam: That’s amazing. But what was it like for him socially. I’ve heard that the Israeli kids tease mercilessly.

Dov:  It’s true that at first he was teased quite a bit, but we were able to use this as a way to teach him about Emunah and talking to Hashem. He started speaking to Hashem for 10 minutes a day. He asked Hashem to help him get through the test. Then he made a list of what he thought Hashem was telling him through the bullies. He wrote: Hashem doesn’t want me to be worried about how many people like me; Hashem wants me to have more self-esteem and Hashem wants me to accept insults without getting angry.

Soon after this, the main bully pulled him to the side and said: “I hope you know that we don’t mean anything by it. The kids were teasing you more because you were getting angry. We were surprised that it bothered you; you’re just supposed to accept it - we all got it at one time. Everyone here really likes you and thinks you’re a cool kid. Soon after that, our son made lots of new friends. They began to appreciate him for his differences and included him in their barbecues and Thursday night chaboros (youth group meetings). He fell in love with Rabbi Brody and made him his spiritual guide.

Sam: But why do they have to act that way. Why don’t they have better manners?

Dov:  My dear Sam, you’re still thinking like an American. This type of bullying has a different quality to it. It’s part of an Israeli mentality that keeps them tough and vigilant. It’s just a way that Israeli teenagers initiate new members into their culture. Eventually our kids have learned to prefer blunt honesty to sweet manipulation.  My son has also grown a lot in his learning because he has had to push himself to keep up with the higher level of his peers.  And since he doesn’t have many material distractions here, it’s made him smarter. The Gemora itself says that the air of Jerusalem makes one smarter.

Sam:  I’ve heard that making Aliyah cannot come without hardship.  Why should I deliberately bring hardships upon myself? Most of the Jews that made Aliyah did so only because they had no choice. Nobody is forcing me.

Dov:  The Torah says that there’ll be difficulties in moving, but it doesn’t specify howdifficult they will be. The first immigrants to Israel were willing to live in tents and tin huts in order to escape anti-Semitism and pogroms.  Today one who makes Aliyah is treated to housing incentives, tax-breaks, job-training, free Hebrew classes, free air fare for the  family and even a monthly financial stipend for each child.

The issue of choice is more complicated. I suggest that you review the postings on Lazer Beams for the last week. There are big changes happening fast in the world right now – Rav Arush says that your coming to Israel now is a real necessity. The prophets warn that, as we come closer to Mashiach, we are not safe outside of the Land. 

Rebbe Nachman has said that the very essence of Israel is Emunah; and that in order to be a true member of the Jewish people, one must keep moving up to higher and higher levels of Emunah . This, says the Rebbe, is impossible except through the sanctity of the Land of Israel.

Sam: There’s no denying that Israel is a land of Holiness and miracles. But on a practical level how do you stay so calm. I would worry, for example that my kids would hang out more in Israel. I’ve heard that because the living conditions are more cramped, the kids get cabin-fever and run a little wild. After-all they can just hop on a bus and go wherever they want.

Dov: My dear Sam, I am calm because I don’t have to think about all the questions that occupy your mind. I trust in what my Rebbe tells me which is that Israel is where I belong, so my mind is at rest knowing that it’s better for me here. Since 1948, 2.5 million of us have come here. God has helped us to find work, raise our families and lend our talents to building up this country.

Yes our kids ride the buses and are more independent, but we see advantages in it. Let me tell you a story: One night, when I first came, I was on a bus traveling from Beit Shemesh to Maale Adumim. I needed to switch buses at the central bus station. I had five heavy bags with me. Next to me was a big 12 year old boy. He didn’t speak English but understood where I needed to go. As I was getting off I saw him quickly grab the three heaviest bags. He motioned for me to follow him. He took me all the way to the place I needed to be to catch my next bus. Relieved, I turned around to thank him and he was gone. Has that ever happen to you in the US? We’ve only been here a year and I can tell you a dozen stories like that. Life here is more colorful and real. We feel a reciprocal love and responsibility for each other which crosses religious and economic lines. Living in Israel, one has the secure feeling that we’re working together on something far greater than ourselves. What are you waiting for? Just come and join us. Don’t be afraid of the prickly sabras.

Teenage rebellion

According to Reb Shalom Arush, The best way to deal with your teenager is by doing everything that you can to maintain a peaceful loving relationship with him at all costs – this, says Reb Shalom, means that even if they are “rebelling” against our most cherished values and beliefs – peace comes before everything. 

How is a parent able to do this? Certainly Reb Shalom is not advocating that we abandon our role of educating our children – the Torah obligates us and ultimately holds us accountable for teaching our children how to live in accordance with Jewish Law.  How then can we avoid strife with our children and educate them when they are showing contempt and distain for our way of life?

Know with certainty, that no matter how far your adolescent has strayed from Hashem he secretly loves and respects you far more than you can imagine.  Even if he does not listen to you and opposes you at every opportunity, realize that he wants to find a way to come back to you and to admit that he needs your love, support and guidance.  Your teenager may not be strong enough to admit that his friends are not good for him. He may not believe in himself enough to admit these things to you or even to himself but he feels them nonetheless. 

An adolescent who is opposing his parents, his yeshiva and the life he was born into, is not rebelling against his parents. That’s psychological nonsense.  All of our children’s behaviors are being directed by Hashem because he loves our prayers and desires that we parents go to Him with our children’s “problems” rather than trying to figure them out ourselves or dumping them on the lap of some therapist. 

Deep down, an adolescent who is losing his grip on holiness and healthy functioning knows that he is lost and that the ways of his parents are the Truth – he knows that his parents have his best interests at heart; and that his parents have been advising him correctly despite his rejection of the Truth.  A parent who understands that his child’s behavior is being orchestrated from Above and blames neither himself nor his child for the behavior will certainly be able to save his child.

When Rav Arush had some difficulties with his own children, years ago, he didn’t complain or drag his kid’s in for evaluations, he went straight to the grave site of Samuel the Prophet and prayed for his children until the decrees were reversed. That’s what Hashem wants from us too – to beg and plead with Hashem to save our kids by telling Hashem about all of the good qualities that our children have. Hashem wants to hear us defend our kids not complain about them. We need to tell Hashem that our kids want to return to Him but that they need more strength and belief in themselves; we need to tell Hashem that our kids really do want to listen to us but that we need Hashem’s help to know how to speak to them; we need to tell Hashem that the only reason that our teenagers “rebel” is because their sins have caused them to feel so low about themselves that it’s too painful for them to admit that they have been wrong. We must mention every single good point that we can think of about our children to Hashem because even one little bit of goodness and light can push away trillions of dark experiences that the child has had. Once Hashem sees that we lovingly accept our children and defend them to Him no matter what, then: He will rip up the decree against them; they will lose interest in their silliness and they will follow you back to a life of purity, wholesomeness and Truth.

Here are some ideas of what to pray for:

Pray for self-clarification so that you know how you want to raise your child and what are truthfully the best options that you can offer him.

Pray to be guided by emuna. That doesn’t mean that you don’t make a great effort to help your child but the outcome is up to Hashem.  Hashem will cause your child to go in the way that he needs to go for his own soul-correction. Pray for the wisdom and strength to be able to show Hashem that you will accept the outcome that He ultimately decides upon with gratitude, humility and self-nullification. No matter what - a child needs his parent’s Blessings. Love them unconditionally!

Pray for acceptance of the reality that you probably are not going to know “why” your child is behaving this way. Each situation is highly complex and is being orchestrated from Above.

Pray to believe that your child’s behavior is not your fault or his; that even if you made mistakes  - it doesn’t matter - his behavior is coming from Hashem so there is absolutely no one to blame.

Pray to know with complete certainty that Hashem is leading you and your child though a series of tests where you are both are re-visiting “places” from previous life-times to see how you will handle the same situations now. This is one reason that glib advice from some therapist or pediatrician is dangerous.

Pray to remain at peace with yourself with your teenager and with your spouse during this process. Turn away from the slightest bit of strife. Never get angry, argue or enter into even “peaceful discussions” with your child that are tinged with even a little aggression. It is better to politely excuse yourself at such times.

Pray for the will to throw away all of your secular psychological books on child-raising – literally remove them from your home.

Pray to never turn to your pediatrician for his opinions about your child’s behavior unless he submits himself to a Tzaddik – otherwise his advice will probably not be true and will only confuse you and divert you from searching for help from Hashem.

Pray for the ability to avoid all standardized theories and techniques about child-rearing. Run away from the use of sophistication and manipulation to “shape” your child’s behavior. Simply pray for your child. Your prayers can completely reverse the situation if you inwardly acknowledge that Hashem is your only hope for salvation.

Pray to believe that what Hashem loves the most is the desire of parents to bring their children close to Him by example. Let your children know that you are committed to advocating for them and defending them before Hashem.

Pray to be a model of emuna for your child. By engaging in personal prayer you are teaching them how to pray as well.

Pray that your children will notice that you also don’t make your own decisions but rather consult with Hashem and His Tzadikkim before doing anything.

Pray that you will be able to lean towards chesed(kindness) over gevurah (strictness), with your child, but you need both.

Pray to know the Truth - Without Hashem you are just groping in the dark trying to figure out how to raise your children.

Pray to accept that the most important gift that you can give to your child is a model for how to speak to Hashem in personal prayer.

Pray hard that while your teenager is still in your domain, that you will have the opportunity to influence him by exposing him to your Belief’s about what’s best in life and what leads to the greatest happiness and sense of purpose. 

* Pray to humbly acknowledge that it was Hashem who assigned your teenager the job of rejecting everything that you stand for and to test your willingness to surrender yourself completely to Hashem’s Mercy.

Above everything - maintain a loving, caring attitude toward your child. A parent should never ever stop loving a child – even one that he may need to love from a distance in order to protect other children.  Never ever stop praying for that child to be able to return safely to your loving arms.

Amen.

Living the Dream

Lately I've noticed that I'm finally using all of the knowledge about success and happiness that I've known about for years. 
 
So, what took me so long? I've known what works for thirty years. In this time, haven't I met enough people to know what works and what does not work when it comes to success in marriage, parenting, and business? Even more surprising is that twenty-three years of religious and spiritual education was not enough to make me happy. 
 
Did I need time to develop myself and mature so I could actualize my G-d given potential?
 
No!
 
The greatest power that G-d gives man to grow and excel can be described in one word:
 
DECISION.
 
I didn't need thirty years to decide to change my life - It only took one second.
 
What took me thirty years was to find the right strategy to make the decision. You are more fortunate than I was. You can start right now because I'm going to give you what it took me all this time to discover.
 
I found the answer in chapter five of the book In Forest Fields, which was written by my Rebbe and Spiritual Guide, Rabbi Shalom Arush and faithfully translated into English by his loyal disciple Rabbi Lazer Brody - who is also a beloved Rebbe to me. 
 
All of our decisions in life are based on what we believe is possible. Before I could decide to bring my life to the next level, I needed a vision and a ironclad belief that I could really have the exciting, inspired and passionate life of meaning that I'm living now.  Once I believed in my end-goal I needed the best tools and strategies that I could find to break free from the limiting beliefs that were controlling me and make my vision real.
 
I found this in my spiritual role models. Rabbi Shalom Arush and Rabbi Lazer Brody.  These two role models worked very well for me because like myself they did not grow up religious, and so it was easier for me tobelieve that like them I could also discover the wonderful blessings that G-d designated just for me.
 
I've learned from both Rabbi Arush and Rabbi Brody that there is a huge difference between knowing something and living it. By observing my spiritual guides up close I've seen the difference between  Rabbis who espouses beautiful values and those who are totally immersed in them. 
 
Complete immersion means getting "psyched up" to be in the right state-of-mind to succeed at whatever I am doing and to have fun doing it. With G-d's help I can now consciously create states of energy and resourcefulness from which everything good flows naturally. 
 
The reason why most psychotherapies don't help people is because people are speaking about their problems in a unproductive and un-resourceful state.  Even when a therapist is offering someone a reasonably good solution, that person cannot benefit from the advice because of the low mood he is in. If therapists and educators understood this we would be living in a different world. I remember how Rabbi Arush used to begin his Torah Lectures to us. We never knew what to expect. Some mornings he came out and threw chocolates to those of us who were early; other times he came out balancing a glass of orange juice on his head. But he was always tuned into whether we were in the right state-of-mind for learning; and if we weren't, he interrupted the learning as frequently as he needed to with stories, jokes and humor in order to shift us back into a state of joy which is the most conducive state for learning. 
 
What is the most resourceful state of all?
 
Emuna.
 
Emuna is not just an idea, it's a spiritual state of empowerment that includes your physical, emotional, intellectual, relational and spiritual functioning .  Emuna is the peak of all peak states. It is the state that tells you that with G-d, anything is possible.  Learning to really focus and live moment-to-moment with  awareness that you are being driven by the power of G-d and not by fear, doubt or your past will take your life to a place you never dreamed was possible.  The more that you will see that every area of your life works better when you are immersed in emuna,  the more reinforced is your emuna in emuna.
 
If you are ready to take action now in some area of your life or your life as a whole, why not take advantage of what we have learned from the best emuna coach of our generation - Rabbi Shalom Arush. Rabbi Arush understands the emotional and spiritual ills of our generation and has remedies for them all.  Rabbi Arush's track record as a spiritual coach to tens of thousands of people and even many famous Rabbis in Israel is no less than phenomenal. Through his books and CD's, Rabbi Arush has inspired millions of other people with a vision of what it means to lead an exciting, passionate, compelling life of meaning and success based on the very best values.
 
Based on our uncompromising adherence  to Rabbi Arush's teachings we now have what we believe are the best one-on-one spiritual coaching programs in the world. For more information about our programs email: david@breslev.co.il or call him at: 054-543-2774. For a faster response, please leave a good time for David to call you back.

Spiritual Workout

Repetition is how we see change and results. When a person goes to the gym; or when a person does things that they know work over and over again - inevitably, they see results.
 
Progress is the only thing that makes us feel alive. Progress, or "growing", is an inherently enjoyable thing for a human being. It makes us feel good! But we have to have the right tools and strategies and a goal to work towards, if we want to make progress.
 
Spiritual health begins in the same way that good physical health does. How do we work out, spiritually? We talk to Hashem. Verbalizing words of prayer has a special greatness that no other form of "spiritual workout" really has.
 
Setting the goal
 
Before we can make the decision to set a goal, we first have to believe in that goal. That it's valuable; compelling; inspiring. That it's drawing us to it. Let's take the example of quitting cigarettes.
 
Once the person makes the decision to become a "non-smoker", it makes a big, big difference. They are no longer the same person. By deciding to become a "non-smoker", that person has just cut themselves off from cigarettes.
 
There's a lot of similarity between the words "incision" and "decision" - for a good reason. When a person makes a real decision, things change, they move. What's a "real" decision? I can tell you what's NOT a real decision:
 
"I really hope to try…"
"I really want to make a resolution to…."
"I would really like to…"
 
Ok, these are yearnings, it's a beginning, there's potential there. But it's not a real decision. It's a good start, but we need to go much further.
 
Conditioning
 
A group of scientists took a monkey, and tied it's hand down, all except for one finger. They then moved that one finger up and down 10,000 times. When they untied the monkey's hand, that finger kept moving up and down of its own accord. This phenomenon is called "conditioning."
 
The repetition conditioned the monkey to keep acting the same way.
 
This also happens to us, both for good and for bad. Whenever we repeat an action, a thought, an experience, whatever it is, that repetition creates a metaphysical wire between the neurons of the brain. Each time they moved that monkey's finger up and down, it created 10,000 of these "wires" in the monkey's brain.
 
The next stage of the experiment also yielded some very interesting results for us humans. They repeated the experiment, but this time, they also stimulated the "pleasure centre" of the monkey's brain at the same time they moved the finger up and down, so that the monkey felt extreme pleasure when his finger was being moved. Instead of taking 10,000 repetitions, they had that monkey conditioned with just 24 repeated actions.
 
This fits exactly with what Rebbe Nachman teaches us, about serving Hashem with simcha, or happiness. When we're finding our observance a pleasure, when it makes us happy to do Hashem's Commandments, we feel good in our brains and in our bodies.
 
Rav Arush says that we have to be in a proper state of mind before we can learn, or make a decision. If we're not, then we won't be able to carry it through. What is that that proper state of mind? Simcha. Happiness.
 
We want to make a good decision and stick to it? Then we first need to dance, sing, somersault - whatever it takes to get us into a good mood.
 
Before we make a decision, we have to believe in it. This leads us to the next question: how do we know what we really believe in?
 
This may surprise some of us, but we already have a number of beliefs in our mind that were "pre-installed" during our childhood, even if we didn't know that was happening. Even if we aren't consciously aware of these "beliefs", the unconscious mind is constantly reading those scripts, and telling us what we want to do, what we believe in, and what we are capable of.
 
"Be a doctor."
"Be a teacher."
"Be a rabbi."
"Be a fireman."
 
What we shoot for in life has a lot to do with what we believe about ourselves. 
 
The good news (for most of us...) is that we don't have to get stuck with these "pre-installed" beliefs, particularly if they aren't good for us. We can reprogram ourselves - and that's exactly what emuna therapy and emuna coaching is all about.
 
We can change our inner belief system by having conversations with G-d, where we ask Him to help us to believe what we really want to believe. We all have to find a way of believing that our aspirations are valuable; that they matter; and that we are really worthy of achieving them.
 
We say: Hashem can do anything! 
 
That's a very powerful belief system. So is the idea that prayer can accomplish anything. And that's what Rebbe Nachman is teaching us in Torah 75 of Likutey Moharan. I have to work on really ingraining that belief, on really believing it, in my conversations with G-d every single day. "Hashem! Let me believe that it's true for me too! Hashem, help me to believe that I'm not wasting my time trying to change and praying to improve, even if I can't see the results immediately. Help me to believe that talking to You is really working, and that I should continue doing it."
 
If the people of Israel had merited to keep the first torah that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, we'd be living in a world where everything would go right the first time, and we wouldn't forget what we were really striving after.
 
But we didn't! We have to work hard to achieve something in this world, but honestly, it feels so much better when we have to make that effort to get somewhere.
 
They did a study on lottery winners, to see what was going on with them a few years' after their 'big win'. The results were very interesting: the vast majority really weren't very happy. Yes, they had a lot of money, nice houses, great cars etc.  - but they didn't make any effort to get it. They didn't ask G-d for it. And when all was said and done, they really weren't enjoying the money very much.
 
Making an effort is a good thing. We don't want hardships, but we get them anyway. I can either complain and suffer about the difficulties in my life, or I can believe that they're really good for me, and I can use them to become a better parent, spouse, colleague and Jew.