The Loyal Messenger
Oct29

The Loyal Messenger

There was once a king who wished to send secret messages to a fellow monarch, but the only route passed through a hostile neighboring kingdom. The enemy king was always on guard, fearing a conspiracy between his allied neighbors. The king’s first messenger was exceedingly wise. He passed through the enemy kingdom and never blew his cover; no one suspected a thing. The second messenger was less adept. He was questioned and almost...

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Remedy for Pride
Oct23

Remedy for Pride

“You can overcome your arrogance by praying for someone else” – Rebbe Nachman of Breslov R’ Yudel, one of the Rebbe’s close students, wondered about this teaching. It seems like the opposite should be true. Wouldn’t praying for my friend feed my ego and make me feel even more prideful? After all, aren’t my prayers answered because I’m important? Rebbe Nachman explained his teaching with a parable: Once there was a prince who angered...

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Making Life Worthwhile
Oct23

Making Life Worthwhile

A Sacred Time – Tishrei #4 The tribe associated with the month of Tishrei is Efraim. Reb Nosson, z”l, explains that the name Efraim means to be fruitful or multiply. The deepest kind of fruitfulness is in focusing on one’s good points so that they truly shine, and then they spark even more positive growth. Even the smallest good point forges an eternal connection with G-d. During the silent prayer of the Amidah, we describe G-d...

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Another Note In The Melody
Oct23

Another Note In The Melody

A Sacred Time – Tishrei #3 Lamed—which also means to teach and learn—is the letter associated with the month of Tishrei. When we completed the yearly cycle of the reading of the Torah, its final letter was lamed of the word “Yisrael.” When we began it again right afterward, it’s primary letter was beit of the first word “Bereishit.” The two letters form the word lev—the heart. It’s only with a heart that is open to hear G-d’s...

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“Holiday” Rental
Oct07

“Holiday” Rental

A Sacred Time – Tishrei #2 “Visamachta b’chagecha v’hayitah ach sameach”—“And you shall rejoice during your festivals and you shall be only joyous.” The astrological sign associated with the month of Tishrei is a balance scale—the iconic image that expresses the judgment of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when good and bad are calibrated and the direction of the entire year is determined. The festival of Sukkot then falls out on...

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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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The Good Points
Oct01

The Good Points

A chassid once approached Rebbe Nachman, z”l, with a heartfelt question. “Rebbe, I feel like such a lowly person. The negative way that I see myself permeates my life and I have a hard time being happy. How can I be free of it?” “It is forbidden for one’s confidence in self to falter for even an instant.” Rebbe Nachman responded. “You need to learn to vitalize yourself by focusing on your good points. Think about it for a moment:...

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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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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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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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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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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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Klap Freilich!
Jul31

Klap Freilich!

Wedding are such joyous affairs. Yet today’s weddings are fairly tame compared to the way they used to be. In prewar Europe, the average Jewish wedding was an all-night event. Musicians were hired to play a full program of lively tunes and people would dance happily for many hours. The joyous atmosphere was infectious. Reb Noson once attended the wedding of a very distant relative, although he usually didn’t attend the affairs of...

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New Openings
Jul27

New Openings

A Sacred Time – Tammuz #8 The three weeks is the hardest part of the year for the Jewish people. It is much harder to hold onto a deep connection to Hashem during this time. What are we to do when we feel under attack, when everything seems to be going wrong? When Reb Nosson was going through real distress during this exact period, he said: “Our only source of vitality is the Rebbe’s teaching about focusing on the windows of...

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