Balancing Act
Oct02

Balancing Act

A Sacred Time – Tishrei #1 Rebbe Nachman, z”l, explains that the letters of the word for obstacles, meniot, can be rearranged to be read as ne’imut, which means pleasantness. The natural barriers and obstacles of our material existence help to balance us and enable healthy spiritual connection, whose “ways are ways of pleasantness.” Reb Nosson, z”l, uses this concept to explain why there is a mitzvah to eat on the day before Yom...

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Staying Connected
Oct01

Staying Connected

As the sun begins to set, the Torah scrolls are removed from the Holy Ark. They are held close to the heart as the chazan, dressed in white and bedecked with a tallit, begins the famous chant, “Kol Nidrei, v’esarei, u’shevu’ei, vacharamei…” Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, is upon us. We will pray five prayer services and abstain from food, drink, washing or anointing our bodies, wearing leather footwear, and marital...

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Lasting Change
Sep19

Lasting Change

A Sacred Time - Elul #5 Elul is the month of repentance that leads up to Rosh Hashanah, when we crown G-d king of the universe. This coronation really means making it clear to ourselves and declaring publicly that the universe has a Creator and an Orchestrator of absolutely everything that exists. The Maggid of Mezeritch would say that if a person has an audience with the king, he’s going to need time to prepare. If he shows up at the...

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This Year Will Be Different
Sep18

This Year Will Be Different

The summer is quickly fading away. Days are getting shorter, nights are a lot cooler and the leaves have begun their beautiful transformation. Indeed, it’s that time of year again – the “head” of the year is around the corner. On Rosh HaShanah, not only is our annual income predetermined, but our very lives hang in the balance. We say in the stirring prayer U’Netaneh Tokef: “On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur...

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What Stops You From Really Praying?
Sep18

What Stops You From Really Praying?

Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are on the horizon, and you know there will be a prayer-marathon: days of intense, emotional, and ultimately uplifting introspection, prayer, and closeness to God. But what if Elul is feeling more like a last-minute scramble than a preparation period? And what if you feel you are “falling behind” and you need to do some psycho-spiritual catch-up? Or what if you just aren’t feeling all that...

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Lost Sheep
Sep12

Lost Sheep

A Sacred Time - Elul #4 Rebbe Nachman, z”l, reveals that every lost opportunity, every missed mitzvah, must be recovered. These missed opportunities for connection with God keep us distant from Him until we find some way to revive them. Elul, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the main times to seek out what we have neglected throughout the year. The yearning that we feel to bring back those lost potential connections has the power to...

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Sweeping In The New Year
Sep10

Sweeping In The New Year

A Sacred Time - Elul #3 Many people find the spiritual work of the month of Elul and the High Holy Days somewhat trying. After all, introspection can be so daunting. And if you believe you are going to be judged, shouldn’t you be scared? But this attitude is all wrong. As the Chofetz Chaim, z”l, put it, “Some think Elul is a ber (Yiddish for ‘bear’]. In truth, Elul is just a kerr (broom). It is a special time to sweep out the negative...

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Self-Assessment, Honor, And Coming Closer To God
Sep09

Self-Assessment, Honor, And Coming Closer To God

Rosh Hashana is the Day of Judgment for all humanity. But despite its profound ramifications, Rosh Hashana is actually a very down-to-earth day. On the New Year, we are judged and awarded (or not), all the ‘stuff of life’ in this world—life, health, wealth and sustenance for the coming year.  What we’re given depends not only on our actions during the past year, but also on how effectively we judge ourselves on this day, and open our...

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Laugh!
Sep05

Laugh!

A Sacred Time - Elul #2 Rebbe Nachman reveals that Elul is an acronym in Hebrew for King Solomon’s famous words about the Woman of Valor: “Oz v’hadar levushah vatischak l’yom acharon”—“Strength and splendor are her garment and she will laugh till her last day.” This is the attitude we need to have during this month. We need to really know that we are beloved to G-d. This is why the zodiac sign of Elul is the maiden. This shows how...

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Elul: Our Chance For Liberation
Sep04

Elul: Our Chance For Liberation

A Sacred Time - Elul #1 Our sages tell us that Elul are yemei ratzon, days when it is easier to find favor in G-d’s eyes. Rebbe Nachman explains that the forty days during which Moshe ascended on high to receive the second set of the tablets began on the first day of Elul and ended on Yom Kippur. It was during this period of time that G-d was appeased after the sin of the Golden Calf that had precipitated the shattering of the first...

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What Is Elul?
Aug24

What Is Elul?

For those who have studied in Yeshiva, just the sound of the word Elul is enough to send a chill down your spine. It is said that in the days of old, when the month of Elul was announced in communities throughout Europe (on the proceeding Shabbat), many would faint from fear. If one takes a quick glance at the laws and customs pertaining to Elul, we learn we should recite more Tehilim, refrain from certain activities that although...

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Faith & Trust
Aug24

Faith & Trust

A Sacred Time – Av #6 The very name Av has important connotations. Av means father in Hebrew. We need to muster all our strength to turn to our Father in heaven during this month. On a simple level this means becoming less focused on the demands of the self and remembering that G-d is at the center of the universe, not me. The Talmud tells us that the Temple was destroyed due to gratuitous hatred, and hatred stems from...

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Today ONLY!
Aug20

Today ONLY!

A Sacred Time – Av #5 As the Month of Av draws to its close, we consider how to repair the ruins of the Temple. We need Mashiach, our righteous redeemer, to pull the world out of the flaming conflagration of greed and corruption that threatens to consume it. In a world where no one needs to be hungry or lack shelter, so many people suffer from poverty and lack. What prevents this world from being the paradise that it could be?...

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Breslov Tisha B’Av Message
Aug05

Breslov Tisha B’Av Message

A king once told his prime minister, who was also his good friend, “I see in the stars that whoever eats any grain that grows this year will go mad. What is your advice?” The prime minister replied, “We must put aside enough grain so that we will not have to eat from this year’s harvest.” The king objected, “But then we will be the only ones who will be sane. Everyone else will be mad. Therefore, they will think that we are the mad...

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I’m So Hungry!
Aug04

I’m So Hungry!

Rebbe Nachman explains that the true tzaddik is the true beauty and grace of the world. This tzaddik represents the luminaries of light which illumine a person’s mind and path throughout life. Conversely, there are luminaries of fire, which consume a person’s life with false paths and devotions and steer the person away from God. As the Rebbe explains, the tzaddik is the light which illumines the Temple and all that it...

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The Birth of Moshiach
Aug04

The Birth of Moshiach

A Sacred Time – Av #2 Sometimes we can only see the good when it’s reflected through the lens of suffering. When we see the great spiritual desolation and yearn for light from within that darkness, we build vessels to see the positives and build on them. Sometimes we prefer to ignore the barren areas of our spiritual life, but how can we improve if we refuse to see the need for improvements? The fast of the ninth of Av is an...

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