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Read Parshas HaMan Today – Segulah for Parnossa (Income) During the Year!

Read Parshas HaMan Today – Segulah for Parnossa (Income) During the Year!

Today is the Tuesday of the week during which we read Parshas Beshalach.  Our sages teach us that it is an opportune time to read Parshas HaMan, which is not about Haman (from the Purim story), but is actually about the “man” – the manna that fell from heaven.

This is called a segulah, which is something one can do to invoke increase spirituality and change one’s mazal (natural fortune) for the better.  Certain segulot are said to bring about certain changes in one’s fortune on a spiritual level.  Reading Parshas HaMan today is said to increase parnossa (income or wealth).

If possible, read Parshas HaMan in Hebrew.  Read it twice mikra and once targum.  (You can find a good version of Parshas HaMan HERE.)  But if you can’t read Hebrew, don’t worry – just look it up in your English chumash and read it there.  You can find it in Exodus Chapter 16, verses 4-36.

Hashem should bless you and me and all of us with a year full of amazing and abundant parnossa!

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Do Jews meditate, and what is Jewish meditation?

Do Jews meditate, and what is Jewish meditation?
Rabbi Ben meditating as he looks out over the Pacific Ocean

Rabbi Ben meditating as he looks out over the Pacific Ocean

Meditation is a major part of most of the world’s religions.  Hindus and Buddhists believe their meditations can change the spiritual  vibrations of the world.  But in Judaism, we almost never hear meditation mentioned.  Why not? Does Jewish meditation exist? And if so, what is Jewish meditation?

To answer this question, you must first determine what meditation is.  There are many types of meditation.  Some meditation is simply quiet contemplation and some mediation is an attempt to reach spiritual realms.  These are totally different activities and are viewed differently by Judaism.

One of the most well-known types of meditation is transcendental meditation.  This is when people try to use meditation to reach a higher spiritual plane.  The Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke out strongly against this practice.  In Judaism we do believe in high spiritual worlds, but transcendental meditation is not the appropriate way to access them.  Transcendental meditation is used for avodah zarah (idol worship) and does not take G-d into account in the way that prayer does.  In Judaism, rather than engage in transcendental meditation, Jews should instead work on their prayer and study of Torah. In this way anybody is able to reach a higher spiritual level and those who work on themselves enough to become tzaddikim may even be able to access the higher spiritual worlds in a kosher manner.

But transcendental meditation is not the only kind of meditation.  Just because Jews should not engage in transcendental meditation does not mean they should not engage in any kind of meditation at all.  In fact, prayer can be a form of meditation.  Many of the traditional forms of meditation involve chanting a mantra or reciting a text.  There is nothing wrong with choosing a Jewish text to recite as part of a meditation or mantra. For example, reciting the Shema or saying over and over again “gam zu le tova” (everything is for the good) could be positive and fulfilling mantras and would aid in appropriate meditation.  In fact, someone who is very spiritually connected should view each of the daily prayers as an opportunity to connect to G-d directly and the text of the prayers should be like a meditation. As with a meditation, they should help clear the person’s mind and raise them to a higher level of spirituality and spiritual awareness.

There is another type of meditation we use in Judaism, which is called by the Breslov Hasidim “hibodedut.”  Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explains that this is a personal prayer in which you can say anything you want to G-d.  He advocates going alone to the fields and forests to pray like this for an hour every day.  If this is not a type of meditation, I don’t know what is! This is your chance to talk directly to G-d using whatever words and spiritual energy you have.

Furthermore, simply sitting quietly and clearing one’s mind is a type of meditation.  This is certainly not a problem in Judaism, although perhaps prayer is preferable.

But one must remember not to get too caught up in meditation, or even in prayer. Judaism is a religion of action.  Even someone who is praying the shmona esrei (the most holy prayer) must stop what he is doing and run to help in certain situations.  And there are many situations where it is preferable to stop one’s prayers to go do an active mitzvah helping another person.  In Judaism, of the 10 commandments, 5 are between G-d and man, and 5 are between man and man.  This indicates that we should find a balance between these two relationships in our lives.  Meditation is good because it can connect us to G-d, if done in the right way. But our relationship with G-d is only half of what we must accomplish as Jews. We must be sure to also work on our relationships with our fellow men, too.

Hopefully, this has given you all something to… well… meditate on!

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Oneg Shabbat, Tish, and Farbi in Adelaide- Friday Night Spiritual Gathering

If anyone is around in Adelaide and would like to join us:

Friday Night Spiritual Gathering
Call it an Oneg Shabbat, a Tish, or a Farbi
Join us  for an evening of singing, words of Torah,
and inspirational stories.
When: First Friday night of the month from 9.00pm – midnight
Where: 10 Windsor Rd., Glenunga
Who: For men and boys

Refreshments served

“Oneg Shabbat, (Hebrew: “Joy of Sabbath”), informal Sabbath (or
Friday evening) gathering of Jews in a synagogue or private home to
express outwardly the happiness inherent in the Sabbath holiday. Now
more social than religious, the group entertains itself with music,
drama, community discussions, lectures, or the singing of religious
melodies—all in keeping with the biblical injunction, “and call the
Sabbath a delight” (Isaiah 58:13). Usually refreshments are provided to
complement the congenial atmosphere.   -Encyclopedia Britannica

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Parshas Vayetzei: Praying for and in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem)

Parshas Vayetzei: Praying for and in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem)

Terrorist Rocket Range in Israel now includes Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

Terrorist Rocket Range in Israel now includes Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. (Taken from via

It’s not often you hear people getting excited about taking a trip to a war zone.  Usually if there’s a war on in a particular part of the world, people steer clear.  They’re trying to leave the area if they can, not get in.  And you can’t find airlines willing to take tourists to danger zones.  Yet, this week, I have seen several of my friends get very excited to be going to Israel.

Sadly, there is a war on in Israel.  Terrorists are flinging rockets and missiles at innocent civilians and they are now able to fire these rockets from Gaza as far as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  It is a dangerous time to be in Israel.  Yet, so many people (ourselves included) actually want to go there – war or no war.  Israel is a special, unique place.

Rabbi Ben davening (praying) at the Kotel, the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall, in Jerusalem, Israel

Prayers said in Jerusalem are always heard by G-d.

In fact, Jerusalem features in this week’s parsha as a holy, special place.  Yaakov (Jacob) goes to sleep and dreams of a ladder with angels ascending and descending.  When he wakes up, he calls it a special, holy place.  It is described as the “Gate of Heaven.” Rabbi Weinreb of the OU points out that it is our obligation to pray for Jerusalem.  The Ramban on this week’s parsha notes that prayers uttered in Jerusalem are always heard.

In this time of war and tribulations it is especially important for us to pray for Jerusalem and all that it stands for, especially those of us who are in Jerusalem!  As our soldiers enter Gaza to protect our family (for we Jews are all family!) from terror, we must pray for them.  Rabbanim are asking Jews everywhere to recite tehillim (Psalms) 130, 121, 83, 20, 91, 143.

Please G-d let this coming week bring us all peace, safety, security, and MOSHIACH!

Shabbat Shalom.

Read more about Parshas Vayetzei: Jacob’s Ladder Teaches Us to Strive for Perfection

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A Prayer for Israeli Soldiers

A Prayer for Israeli Soldiers

“No one brought me chocolates, flowers, or cake,” said our host. “Most likely none of you will send a thank you card, but I’d like you to show some appreciation for this meal.”

I looked around the table. We were an interesting group of mismatched people with one thing in common: none of us had a place to eat our Friday night dinner. We had all ended up in the same house where the food and singing were good. But what now?

“Well,” continued our host, “What I request from you is that each one around this table should take on one small mitzvah, nothing big. Don’t say you will start keeping kosher or Shabbat , or that you will put on tefillin every day. Because in three days time you’ll quit. Take something small, a little tiny mitzvah that you will start doing right way, nothing big or complicated. A mitzvah that is between you and G-d.”

While our host was explaining what a mitzvah was, I got lost in my thoughts. A few hours ago I was standing at the kotel. It was the second time in my life that I could pray there and experience the love, warmth, and joy that permeates the place on a Friday night.  An hour-long service of singing and dancing fed me spiritually. I then turned to figuring out how to feed myself physically.  I found my way to Jeff Seidel who stands at the kotel every Friday night. Jeff acts as a shadchan between people with nowhere to go, and individuals looking for a Shabbat guest. I was one of six guests that were teamed up with our current host. I came from a religious family and for me a Shabbat dinner was the norm, but for some of the guys in the group it was their first time.

Dessert was brought, conversation continued, and I was still lost in thought. I was having difficulty coming up with a small mitzvah. I was not the only one. At the far end of the table from where I sat, one of the guests was discussing mitzvah ideas with our host. I caught a few words about saying, ‘a chapter of tehillim every day for the Israeli soldiers.’

I did not personally know a single Israeli soldier, though the idea sounded right to me. It has now been almost ten years where a day has not gone by without me saying  a chapter of tehillim for our brothers and sisters who risk their lives protecting us.  I still don’t personally know any current Israeli soldier, only those who have been.

I don’t remember my host’s name and we would probably not recognize each other if we crossed paths. He may never know because I overheard his conversation at the other end of the table. I have now been saying tehillim for ten years.

This is the first time I’m telling this story in writing. I’ve shared it dozens of times at Friday night Chabad house meals around the world. I can’t say for sure, though I am confident, that of the thousands of Israeli travelers who have heard me tell the story, at least one has been inspired to say some tehillim.

Yom Hazikaron remembers the more than 22,000 soldiers killed in the line of duty and the nearly 4,000 civilian terror victims. Let’s remember them and what they have given their lives for. Let us also pray for living soldiers so that please G-d as time passes, there will be less of the dead to remember.

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Shirat ha’asavim ~ The Song of the Grasses

“The Song of the Grasses” by Naomi Shemer based on Rebbe Nachman.

When I pray in the wild I often meditate on this song. I find it beautiful and inspiring. Because I spend so much time in the outdoors, I am often praying there as well. Without other people to pray with, I see the rustling of the leaves as they pray with me. I hear the birds chirping and they pray with me. And when a fish jumps out of the water it is dancing in prayer. Everything is dancing in prayer. Oh how beautiful it is…

Da l’kha shekol ro’eh ve ro’eh yeish lo nigun m’yuchad mishelo.
Da l’kha shekol eisev v’eisev yeish lo shirah m’yuchedet mishelo.
Umeishirat ha’asavim na’aseh nigun shel ro’eh.

Kamah yafeh, kama yafeh vena’eh k’sheshom’im hashirah shelahem.
Tov me’od l’hitpaleil beineihem uv’simchah la’avod et Hashem.
Umeishirat ha’asavim mitmalei haleiv umishtokeik.

Ukh’shehaleiv, min hashirah mitmalei umishtokeik el erets yisra’el.
Or gadol azai nimshakh v’holeikh mikdushatah shel ha’arets alav.
Umeishirat ha’asavim, na’aseh nigun shel haleiv.


Know that each and every shepherd has his own tune.
Know that each and every grass has its own song.
And from the song of the grasses the tune of the shepherd is made

How beautiful, how beautiful and pleasant to hear their song.
It’s very good to pray among them and to serve Hashem in joy
And from the song of the grasses the heart is filled and yearns.

And when the heart is filled by the song and yearns for the Land of Israel
a great light is drawn forth and goes from the Land’s holiness unto it.
And from the song of the grasses the tune of the heart is made.

From  Reb Nachman.

דע כי כל רועה ורועה יש לו ניגון מיוחד לפי העשבים ולפי המקום שהוא רועה שם כי כל עשב ועשב יש לו שירה ומשירת העשבים נעשה ניגון של רועה הלוואי והייתי זוכה לשמוע את כל השירות והתשבחות של העשבים איך כל עשב ועשב אומר שירה לה’ יתברך בלי תהייה ובלי שום מחשבות זרות ואינם מצפים לשום גמול כמה יפה ונאה ששומעים את השירה שלהם וטוב מאוד ביניהם לעבוד את ה’ ביראה תיכף כשאדם מתעורר להשתוקק בארץ ישראל אזי כפי התעוררותו ותשוקתו נמשכת עליו הארה מקדושת ארץ ישראל

(ליקוטי שיחות, רבי נחמן מברסלב)

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