facebook_882928399Spiritual Aliyah: Soulful Wisdom for New Immigrants to the Homeland

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

New Immigrants to the Jewish homeland!  Aliyah Jews!

Awaken to the spiritual connections peeking out from amidst our G-d given land inheritance,

As your Aliyah journey progresses and you meander through the back doors of bygone eras of Jewish history and the front doors of modern Jewish history.

Don’t be put off by ego challenges that attempt to rob you of the very soul depth you will soon discover.

Wait a moment in time and see how your life will unfold with the countless blessings awaiting the arrival of your emotional maturity and deepening connections.

Rise up and claim your greatness, as you shed the shrouds of a dying past in foreign lands to embrace your alive future in G-ds beloved garden.

Watch yourself grow, like a flower seed planted in the ground, as you water yourself with the Torah teachings that will arrive at your doorstep like manna from Heaven.

Get to know your true self, as your soul becomes aroused, when you uncover the wonders of life in the holy land amidst the backdrop of Biblical history.

Hold your heart tenderly and lift it up, as your breathe in the air of the holy land which makes you wise.

Do not allow fear of our neighbors to swallow up your soul strength, for it is within your G-d given power to claim your power anew and re-affirm your faith path to greatness,

As dormant sparks of the DNA of the matriarchs and patriarchs arouse you to your true Jewish nature through new recognition of your gifts and strengths,

Which you can share with the nation, who has long awaited your inner birthing process to become manifest.

And then shout gleefully, as you arrive at the army headquarters of the King of Kings, for your arrival in the land directs you straight to the induction ceremony,

Where, you will bask in the glow of being called a member of the regiment of His loyalists as you don the garb of warrior for G-d,

For G-ds homeland needs protection and you are privileged to do so.

Become aware that the Torah of the Land will whisper in your developmental soul ear as the energetic force field called Zion reverberates through your days and nights.

Quiet your mind, so you can feel your prayers ascend straight to heaven for the first time and jump for joy like a child receiving a long-awaited, tasty treat.

In order to achieve your full measure of success, allow your heart, mind and soul to caress the inner soul awakening within,

And bask in the success you are about to achieve, as your life purpose becomes more fully revealed to you.

Dance with joy as you allow your newfound re-awakening to overcome limitations of the past.

Allow the spirit force of Zion to influence and beautify your every move like a skilled dancer performing a graceful dance routine.

Embrace your destiny as the cosmic forces embedded in taking up residence in the holiest place in the world creates new opportunities that restore your balance and harmony, as you align with your birth path destiny once and for all.

Allow the greatness of our nation, which has manifested throughout its glorious yet painful history, to liberate any darkness or negativity.

Contemplate the removal of your spiritual poverty as you return home and forge a connection to your inner soul flame whose source is divine like the holy land.

Tap into your inner character of holiness, as you return to your G-d given everlasting inheritance.

And finally, tap into your inner aspirations to live according to the Torah’s holy and lofty ideals, so you can feel the towering stature of what it means to be a Jew in the Land….an Aliyah Jew on an upward climb to greatness.

Welcome home and may you benefit from this soulful wisdom!

 

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yomzYom HaZikaron: The Sacred Privilege of Awareness

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

I never knew anything about Yom HaZikaron when I was living in America. The 4th of Iyar had no relevance to my life. I lived by the American calendar not the Jewish calendar. But thank G-d, since coming home to our nation’s divinely ordained biblical inheritance, my mind knows, my heart knows and my soul knows the date and if I ever forget, the sirens that pierce the airwaves (one at 8PM and one at 11AM) remind me of the sacred privilege of Yom HaZikaron awareness.

Yom HaZikaron is a special day set aside as a time of remembering the fallen soldiers of Israel, as well as the civilian victims of war and terrorism. It is a precious day that offers national solace to the memory of the fallen, as well as communal support to the families. Unlike America, where it is a day of shopping and play, here in the Holy Land, the character of the day is like a 24-hr fast from all public places of entertainment. All businesses, schools and stores are closed. All radio and TV station broadcasting is devoted to stories and songs dedicated to the fallen of Israel. Yom HaZikaron is officially observed for all of those who fell since 1860 when Jews were first allowed to live outside the city limits of Jerusalem in what was then known as “Palestine.”

One of the many commemorative  practices that take place during the 24 hour period is the scroll of names that is broadcast by government-owned television stations. The names of the fallen are scrolled on the screen in chronological order (rank, name, Hebrew date of deceased and secular date) over the course of the day. Names appear for about 3 seconds each…..3 sacred seconds to remind us of the life they gave up for a cause they believed in with their very life.

My heart is especially heavy this year as the holy date approaches, for who would have imagined last year in 2015, what we would be faced with, as the high holidays arrived and terrorism reared its ugly, ferocious, beastly head. The losses are so fresh and so real and so painful. When one is close to the source of suffering, it is more intense and impactful.

I believe every Jew, wherever they may be, owes it to their nation to mark their calendar with the date of YOM HAZIKARON AND TO DEVELOP AN AWARENESS OF THE SACREDNESS OF THE DAY. This day bears a message for every Jew as to the debt of gratitude they owe to those who gave their lives in the fight for reclaiming our sovereignty in our G-d given land.

In a telling article written by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis in a pamphlet entitled, “Zionism, A Challenge to Man’s Faith,” she lays out the truth about what it is like to be a citizen of the State of Israel, on the line, as she tells the following story:

In the Holy City, I met a woman who related a tale which reflects the agony of Zionism in the 20th and now 21st century. The woman of Jerusalem had a son named David who was 20 years old. She had a sister, who lived in New York, who had a son the same age named Chaim. Chaim, the American cousin came to Jerusalem for a year of study. Then suddenly, the Yom Kippur War broke out. Both boys were in synagogue together praying side by side. David, still wrapped in his talit (prayer shawl), without pausing for food or water, ran to answer the call of his people. He bid farewell to his cousin, his mother, his father, and to his young bride. He felt he had no choice but to go forth to defend his people.

The following day, the mother in Jerusalem, received an emergency call from the United States. “Please, please, a near hysterical voice called across the great ocean…Where is my Chaim? Please do not let him do anything rash…you must find him and get him out on the first plane to safety. We are sick with worry. I want him home!” The mother in new York was overcome with fear…and somehow in her agitation forgot to ask about David….her sister’s son…the son of Jerusalem, whose heart at that very moment was pierced by a shell in the Golan….(Northern Israel).

TWO SISTERS…TWO MOTHERS…TWO SONS

The Rebbetzin then writes the following:

The story haunts me. It leaves me no peace…For indeed, if the land of Israel has been given by G-d as an inheritance to all Jews, then by what right do we in the United States go to sleep in security, knowing that our sons are well and sound, while our sisters lie awake with a gnawing fear gripping their hearts…asking the question, “Where is he now?” …whispering a silent prayer, Hashem, Almighty G-d watch over him…”

The Rebbetzin continues:

No matter how much the American Jew has given and will give on behalf of Israel, he will never equal the sacrifice of those who live there and offer their very lives for the land.

No Matter how much the American Jew continues to give, he will never be able to justify the fact that he belongs to the generation that was given Jerusalem yet opts for New York or Los Angeles.

To have witnessed 2,000 years…to have suffered the agonies of exile…to have dreamt and hoped to have been given the land only to reject it! How will the Jews in exile answer to future generations when they ask, “Where were YOU?”

The message of the day is clear….the Jewish nation owes its independence first and foremost for the miracle G-d wrought in returning us to our homeland but secondly to the pioneers, soldiers and citizens who have and will sacrifice their lives for its existence and its future.

Please take note of the day and honor the memory of its fallen and the families left behind. Also please offer special prayers for those victims still recovering.

yom hazikaronIDF soldiers participate in a memorial ceremony on the Israeli national Memorial Day, in honor of fallen soldiers and the victims of terror attacks. Each soldier stands before the grave of a fallen serviceman.

Scheduling Yom HaZikaron right before  Yom Haatzmaut is intended to remind people of the price paid for independence and of what was achieved by the soldiers’ sacrifice. This transition shows the importance of the day among Israelis, most of whom have served in the armed forces or have a connection with people who were killed during their military service.

Yom HaShoah: Earth Shaking Echoes of Pain Wracked Bodies

Yom-Hashoah2Yom HaShoah: Earth Shaking Echoes of Pain Wracked Bodies

by Ariella Bracha Waldinger

The day of REMEMBERING begins at night with the piercing scream of the siren…a time when silence reigns and earth shaking echoes of pain wracked bodies send seismic shock waves into the atmosphere.

Words become too few and too narrow to speak, when one attempts to express the raw pain of the grief-filled, heart stopping, blood curdling suffering of the nation of Israel during the horrific chapter called Shoah…Holocaust.

The word Holocaust lends itself to the echoes of the death camps where Jewish life was as cheap as disposable dishes or the garbage that clings to them.

The pain vibrating from then until now and into the future, forcefully imposes itself and cracks the foundations of one’s status quo, as one is horrifically reminded of a time when the world had gone mad!

During each and every day of the Jews’ incarceration, the innocent victims watched the shadows deepen, as the death knoll beckoned to them and their loved ones… innocent victims whose only sin was being a Jew… one of G-ds chosen people.

Disintegration was its name!

Destruction of the Jewish nation was its game,

And the whole world was to blame…WHERE IS THE ETERNAL SHAME?

Jews, Beaten into submission…NO RESPITE, NO SAFETY. BRUTALITY REIGNING!

Possessions confiscated,

People snatched off the street never to return,

Hearts and souls violently pierced like a commonplace earlobe waiting for an adornment.

Killing, maiming or destroying a Jew was like an Olympic event to be boasted and bragged about to the co-conspirators.

A hell on earth NO HUMAN CAN COMPREHEND but IT HAPPENED. IT IS AS REAL AS THE NOSE ON YOUR FACE.

And when they were robbed of safety and all that life held dear,

And their world consisted of burning, DEVASTATING hunger and great and mind consuming fear….

THE WORLD WAS SILENT.

And when the Jewish people tried with all their might to get the help they needed,

All the nations looked aside, as their horrific pleas of mercy went unheeded.

In the end, the soul-searing silence of aloneness permeated the depth of their souls, as the earth shaking echoes of pain wracked bodies subsided into the silent world of Jewish consciousness.

Dear Jewish family, let us not be silent to our nation’s pain during this horrific chapter!

Let us use this Remembrance Day in an honorable way and pray and pray and pray!

That we, the Jewish nation rise above the modern day would-be assassins, and claim our strength and power as noble inheritors of G-ds blueprint for life…

through clinging to our Torah and choosing to live in our Biblical Land, where we can truly bring honor to G-ds name and keep alive the memory of those holy souls who perished in the Holocaust.

Please light a candle and give charity on behalf of the more than 6 million.

Tu B’Shvat: Man as a Tree

Tu B’Shvat: Man as a Tree

Heather+Cowper+Olive+Tree+ArgassiA tree of the field

The Torah in Deut. 20:19 refers to Man as a “tree of the field.” Tu B’Shevat is the holiday of this dimension. The essence of Tu B’Shavat is related to the fruit trees in the Land of Israel because it was the specific calendar date set aside for the tithing of the fruit and orlah from the trees. These tithes refer to a portion of the fruit taken from the tree and given to the Kohanim and Levites. Tithing the fruit from the trees was obligatory during Temple times. The entire holiday provides a focus on the Land of Israel and the significance of fruit trees to which man is compared.

Fruit trees and tithing

The beauty of the tithing practice of sharing and giving teaches us that in Eretz Yisrael, one plants a fruit tree for many reasons.

  • One plants a fruit tree primarily because it is a mitzvah to build up the Land.
  • Secondly, one plants fruit trees in the land to share his bounty and good fortune with his nation, as instructed by G-d.
  • Thirdly, one plants fruit trees for the value to both the Land of Israel and his offspring and to reap the fruits of his holy endeavors. Throughout time, Kabbalists have used the fruit tree as a metaphor to understand G-ds relationship to the spiritual and physical worlds, as well as to teach us our role in this world.

Who does not respond soulfully or emotionally to the sheer grandeur of a majestic tree standing stately like a monument before our eyes?  Or a wondrous fruit tree sharing the fragrance of her beautiful blossoms? The tree is one of the most powerful symbols of life, renewal, growth and continuity and each aspect of the tree’s formation and development has something of value to teach us.  Every part of the tree is utilized for the good of mankind. It is astonishing to me that G-d compares us to a fruit tree but it is essential to understand, that it is for the sole purpose of our personal development and should not be taken lightly.

479be2ba1953858be4f498307428b8eeThe development of the tree

The development into a full-fledged, fruit-producing tree is a most dynamic and inspiring transformation. The tree develops in a magnificent way demonstrating to man how to reach his highest potential.

  • First and foremost is the development of the tree’s root system.
  • Afterwards, the trunk and body of the tree, as well as its branches and leaves come into being.
  • Finally the time arrives when the tree bears fruit.
  • The roots are hidden beneath the surface of the tree and are not visible for others to see and yet, it is from them that the tree derives its main life-force.
  • The trunk and body of the tree including its branches are in a constant state of growth.
  • The fruit tree attains a state of completion only when it bears fruit. The entire process of development is one huge miracle just like the birth and development of a human.

Man is like a tree

So too man possesses a trunk and a body and has roots and branches. He also has the ability to produce fruit. Thus, we see the amazing degree of similarity between between man and a tree.

According to an article in the magazine, Living Jewish,

“Man’s roots are his faith because through his faith he derives his true life force which comes as a result of his belief in G-d, Judaism and Torah. It is his faith i.e., his roots, which anchors and bind him with G-d. Once a person has attained the level of viable roots of faith then a Jew’s trunk, branches and leaves must be tended and nourished through the study of Torah and the performance of good deeds. In spiritual terms, according to the article, this means that a Jew can never be satisfied with faith alone, for then he would be like a tree that laid down roots but never developed a trunk, branches or leaves. Furthermore, just as a tree’s body grows constantly, so too should there be constant growth on the part of every Jew for it is only then that he truly bears fruit. In bearing endless fruit, he affects his friends, neighbors and family for generations just like a tree.”

Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller in an Aish.com article titled, “L’Chaim to the Trees,” wrote the following,

“Like a tree, our first experience with reality is physical and tangible. Then we grow beyond our roots. We extend our branches towards the heavens as we search for connection and meaning. We devote our lives to the production of fruit because we yearn to leave an enduring mark that we too were here.”

Rabbi Avraham Branwein in an article titled, “Tree that Tastes Like its Fruit” also notes the many similarities between man and a tree.

“So too with a person; in order to ascend spiritual levels, one needs to work on their character traits. Pruning the tree refers to distancing oneself from bad traits. Watering is accomplished through Torah, which is compared to water. Furthermore, through mitzvahs and good deeds, the person develops and is converted from a non-fruit bearing tree to a tree which produces fruit.”

In an extraordinary book titled, The Twelve Dimensions of Israel, the author, Nechama Sara Nadborny, also elaborates on the parable that man is likened to a tree of the field. She reminds us “the roots of our tree are the solid foundations we have in the world which arise from our relationship to our ancestral roots.” She further states,

“The more we absorb the life force of our true heritage by meditating on and living with the character traits of our forefathers and mothers, who are the living Torah, the more we become rooted in life just like a tree. The more solid our roots, the greater is our ability to grow.

The trunk of our tree, our torso, is our individuality, our unique center which when combined with the instruction of the Torah, enables us to blossom. When we are truly connected to the wisdom of the Torah, we free ourselves from the natural tendency to uproot ourselves or fall into self-centeredness, disconnected from the soil of our soul essence.

Our branches which reach out in many directions represent the relationships towards which we extend ourselves. The taller we stand in relating to the pride of our heritage, the better we are able to, like the tall tree, receive the sunlight, represented by our inner visions. Our higher vision provides the inspiration to live in the present and strive forward with a keener awareness of our mission and purpose.

As we give birth to our fruits, which represent children, projects, good deeds and mitzvot, we must strive for a balance in order to become healthy manifestations of our true potential.

Like the tree itself, growth is a continual process of receiving light which on the human level equates to higher levels of consciousness. These higher levels of consciousness are then creatively absorbed into our interactions with others which transforms our lives and positively benefit our nation.”

What a blessing we have in the holiday of Tu B’Shvat with all its deeper teachings and implications relating to fruit trees in the Holy Land. The holiday of Tu B’Shvat gives us a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the renewal of trees in the Holy Land, as well as an opportunity to partake of the delicious fruits themselves. By eating from the special fruits of the Land, we tap into the infinite love of our Creator as well as the holiness embedded in the fruit itself.

May we merit to ingest the deepest Torah teachings of Tu B’shvat, while digesting the special fruits and foods of the seder itself.

May we uplift the act of eating and rectify it at its source in order to draw down the dynamic blessings hidden in the food.

May we fully comprehend the meaning of man as a tree of the field and utilize its wisdom to truly blossom and grow all the days of our life.

With love and blessings for health, prosperity, wisdom and refinement, Ariella Bracha

The Sacred Act of Building up Israel

pic 3The Sacred Act of Building up Israel
The Center of Holiness in the World

 

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

If anyone had told me that soon after making Aliyah, my husband and I would be Building up Israel, not just with our Aliyah but with the sacred act of building a home on virgin soil in the Holy Land, I would have either cried in awe or laughed in disbelief. I certainly would have told them they were crazy! As it turned out, my husband and I are the crazy ones, Baruch HaShem. Honestly, the thought never entered my mind and was never a dream or desire I had ever identified.  It wasn’t an idea that I could actually fathom but that’s not the case with my holy husband.  He knows how to go after what he truly wants and he dreams big. He made the decision and I went along with it. During the construction, he tossed coins on the ground with the intention that our house be built on the solid foundation of tzedakah (charity).

The process of building our home began with ease but as it progressed, big challenges set in. It was emotionally disruptive, to say the least and brought us into tense situations, where we didn’t know what to do or where to turn. It tested us on many levels but ultimately, through the challenges, we learned about ourselves, about Israelis and about getting the help you need in Israel. We survived the process and ended up with a little Gan Eden (Garden of Eden) home. We live on a dunam (1/4 acre) of land that overlooks Mt. Hermon (the highest spot in Israel), the Hula Valley and the Golan—three amazing locations in Israel, each with their own unique beauty and charm.

DSCF2052The vista is spectacular! The quiet is other worldly and deliciously soul satisfying. It has the feel of a spectacular retreat center which is removed from the world. I have no words to describe the intense emotion of watching your home being built in the holiest place in the universe; the place where the physical meets the spiritual creating amazing nuclear spiritual explosions which reverberate throughout the land and, actually, the world. The crazy part was, I had no idea that building in the Holy Land is an enormous mitzvah which brings about spiritual unifications and rectifications. No one taught me which is why I feel compelled to share our experience with you.

The land of Israel, which is divine in nature, represents the sphere of Kingship (Malchut). The sacred act of building in the Holy Land is part of a Divine process. This act draws down divine fulfillment into actuality which comes as a result of great effort, labor, cost and self sacrifice on the part of the builders. These actions are pleasing and acceptable to G-d for they create a receptacle for Him below. This allows Israel, both the people and the land, which is a spiritual entity, to become filled with spiritual content.

Tanna DeVei Eliyahu says,  “Israel is the delight of the world!  The Holy One Blessed Be He desires our labor and our deeds. Performing the positive commandment of settling and building the land enhances the upper heavenly spheres and brings an influx of good into the world.”

Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal zt’zl, a true gadol b’Yisrael and holy man, may his death be avenged, in his Book, “Eim HaBanim Semeichah” written in 1943, stated, “fulfilling the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael by constructing homes, and other buildings, planting trees and transforming the land into productive crops, and cultivating vineyards achieves unification in the upper realms, and rectifies the supernal sphere of Kingship. G-d’s name is glorified by today’s builders as well as all the builders of the past especially the early pioneers.”

He goes on to state, ”Today’s pioneers (meaning in the 1900’s) have caused the settlement to grow and expand, and it is impossible to retract or negate their actions, regardless of their intentions, for we benefit from them.( I believe the same applies today) Therefore, even if transgressions were committed in the process (G-d forbid), the mitzvah was still fulfilled in all its strength and vigor, in both a revealed and esoteric sense. Thus, it is clear that the Omnipresent desires the work of today’s builders and accepts their efforts before His glorious throne with love and abounding affection.”

Dovid Rosoff, in his outstanding book, “Land of our Heritage” states, “The two ingathering’s (Joshua’s and Ezra’s) were similar in that both initiated profound changes in the actual dust of the earth whereby the mysterious process of sanctification was begun. Their mere presence in the Land awakened the spiritual potency of the earth which had lain dormant under foreign rule.” How much more-so today when Jewish sovereignty is present over the majority of the Land.

Remember, the Land of Israel lay barren for 2,000 years and conquerors tried to cultivate its once fertile soil but to no avail. The Land’s unwillingness to yield to foreign rulers is a prime example of its faithfulness to the Jewish nation and its inner holiness. Only with the return of the Jewish people to their Land, their Divine inheritance, hand-picked by G-d Himself, has the Land become blessed and bountiful. The desert blooms and we have become a major exporter of fruits and flowers. All this has come about through the process of building. Rav Kook says, “The meeting between the Land of Israel and the people of Israel gives life and strength to both as our dry bones come to life.” He tells us that “at the core of the bond between the Land of Israel and the Nation of Israel, is a unique spiritual holiness granted by G-d which they share in common.” (From the book, “Lights on Orot.”)

From these teachings, one can better understand, THE SACRED ACT OF BUILDING UP ISRAEL, THE CENTER OF HOLINESS IN THE WORLD.

Breaking News Israel news reveals an amazing opportunity to build up Israel “Brick by Brick.”  The website is www.buildupisrael.com. You choose the project and dedicate the actual bricks and stones. This effort presents an amazing opportunity for the world to participate in an incredible divine mitzvah which truly helps the nation.

The prophet Isaiah teaches that the Almighty promises to help rebuild the Holy Land and its cities. For those of you who have not made Aliyah, why not come home and become HIS partner in the sacred act of building? For those of you who have made it home, Celebrate your great good fortune and Build, Build, Build all you can. WE did and our lives and the lives of our nation have never been the same.

With blessings to claim your Divine inheritance and Bless G-d and your nation, Ariella Bracha

Turning Inspiration Into Action

garden-wallpaper-hd-12-decoration-inspirationTurning Inspiration Into Action

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

I always feel sad as the sun sets on the last day of Chanukah and I can no longer kindle the lights of my Chanukah candles. Waiting an entire year to perform the mitzvah again seems far away and yet in truth, I know a year passes very quickly. The question always arises in my mind after the departure of a holiday filled with powerful spiritual messages, rituals and fulfilling experiences: “How can I personally turn the inspiration of the holiday into action that will keep me living inspired?” I am certain many people ask the same question.

It has been suggested by numerous Rabbi’s that if you truly want to keep the inspiration alive, you must create a plan of action. Rabbi Simon Jacobson teaches that “action changes human beings, moves mountains and ultimately changes the world.” He further explains that, “Performing an action melts the tension between matter and spirit fusing them into one. Matter is temporary but tangible while spirit is eternal but intangible and therefore, the solution is to fuse the two.” For example, when you make a blessing over food, it uplifts the mundane act of eating to the realm of holy thus creating a spiritual entity from the fusion of the two. The act of eating is thereby refined and transformed. This spiritual act manifests holiness and brings blessings in the world.

As I look at the English letters of the word CHANUKAH, they actually guide us into ACTION.

  • The C in Chanukah stands for CHOICE
  • The H in Chanukah stands for HOPE
  • The A in Chanukah stands for ACTION.
  • The N in Chanukah stands for NULLIFY or NATION.
  • The U in Chanukah stands for UNITY.
  • The K in Chanukah stands for KINDNESS or KEEP
  • The A in Chanukah stands for AWARENESS.
  • The H in Chanukah stands for HEROS, HEROINES AND HONOR.

To summarize the message of the letters (which are not in the same order as the word Chanukah):  TURN INSPIRATION INTO ACTION

We must make a choice to nullify our will for G-d’s will in the hope that through our actions which are being done out of kindness for our nation’s purpose and mission in the world, we will develop the awareness that to become a true hero or heroine, we must choose the honor of G-d and our nation above our own self interest and in so doing, bring unity to our people in our land which will keep alive the hope and yearning for Moshiach and the Torah-true living that we long for.

Then, we can become the true candle of G-d and shine our light into the world with genuine Jewish warmth and vitality. We will become warriors for G-d and His Nation just like the Maccabees who represent the ultimate manifestation of the above summary.

I leave you with a reminder that Prayers on behalf of our nation at this time when we are facing great challenges is one of the best actions you can take. They are powerful and vital to the safety and well-being of our Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. The Maccabees prayed and cried out to HaShem constantly. Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky reminds us that every single prayer has the ability to change the world we live in. He also reminds us that Yishmael which literally means, “G-d will hear his voice” are not embarrassed to pray and they do it no matter where they are. We are fighting someone who has the exact same power as us: Prayer. Thus, we must make it a priority.

Below is a link to a beautiful Prayer to be recited by inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael. When I came across it in the book, “To Dwell in the Palace” edited by Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein, and I read the prayer, it took my breath away. I have also included the Prayer for the State of Israel, as well as, the prayer for the safety of the IDF. Please say them every day and may it bring blessings to our nation.

http://bataliyah.blogspot.co.il/2012/09/prayer-for-residents-of-eretz-yisrael.html

English Prayer for the State of Israel

Our Father in Heaven, Rock and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel, the first manifestation of the approach of our redemption. Shield it with Your lovingkindness, envelop it in Your peace, and bestow Your light and truth upon its leaders, ministers, and advisors, and grace them with Your good counsel. Strengthen the hands of those who defend our holy land, grant them deliverance, and adorn them in a mantle of victory. Ordain peace in the land and grant its inhabitants eternal happiness. Lead them, swiftly and upright, to Your city Zion and to Jerusalem, the abode of Your Name, as is written in the Torah of Your servant Moses: “Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the world, from there the Lord your God will gather you, from there He will fetch you. And the Lord your God will bring you to the land that your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your fathers.” Draw our hearts together to revere and venerate Your name and to observe all the precepts of Your Torah, and send us quickly the Messiah son of David, agent of Your vindication, to redeem those who await Your deliverance.

Manifest yourself in the splendor of Your boldness before the eyes of all inhabitants of Your world, and may everyone endowed with a soul affirm that the Lord, God of Israel, is king and his dominion is absolute. Amen forevermore.

Prayer for Members of the Israel Defense Force

He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Force, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.

May Hashem cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighting men from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.

May He lead our enemies under their sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is Hashem, your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you. Now let us respond: Amen.

May we merit to hold sacred the inspiration we gain from all our holidays and act upon their depth of meaning, living inspired, passionate lives, turning inspiration into action on behalf of our beloved and holy Nation.

AM YISRAEL CHAI!

With Blessings of love and light, safety and well being for us, Am Yisrael and the world. ARIELLA BRACHA

 

The Heart Explodes

Tal

The Heart Explodes

I dread going to my computer after Shabbat ends in order to check the news reports. I cannot avoid it however, for I have a “need to know” the goings on of our people in our ancient, holy homeland. I go to my major news source and once again MY HEART EXPLODES as an inner, expansive force of psychic pain and ancestral grief burst forth from the confines of my mind and heart space: More terror victims to pray for, more hearts unjustly broken and bodies injured and maimed. In the midst of life, suffering and death explode upon our world here in Israel. Life changes in an instant. Yes, life changes fast for those caught in the cross fire of terrorists bent on killing and maiming Jews in the Land of Israel—our beloved homeland.

One cannot minimize the damage done, nor the feelings of apprehension rippling through the currents of daily life in the land. The very rhythms of our lives have been impacted as our daily routines have become opportunities for the enemies to strike. The families of the victims have little time to adjust to the new reality and deal with the charged emotions and upheaval playing out in their lives. And yet they must go on.

In a book titled, “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion, she explains the gamut of emotions she felt and experienced upon the death of her beloved husband.  She explains the difference between losing elderly parents and losing a spouse or child or someone in their prime. She shares a letter from a priest who intuited what she felt when her parents died. “The death of a parent, he wrote, despite our understanding of the inevitability of  death as they age, dislodges things deep in us, despite our age and sets off reactions and feelings we had thought gone to ground long ago.” And yet, despite the mourning we go through, for most of us, our parents have been removed from the ongoing dailiness of our lives. Therefore, in spite of our mourning, we still get up in the morning and live our lives. We are in a different head space and our hearts are heavy but life goes on.

But losing a spouse or child or someone extremely close to us both physically and emotionally is a grief far different, for it has no distance. It is up close and personal in an intimate way. She said, “The grief comes in waves and sudden apprehensions that weakens the knees and blinds the eye and obliterates the dailiness of life. There is shock and bewilderment that throws one off balance. There is a raw feeling of being wild with pain as the mind becomes clouded with grief and the senses become dulled from the pain.”

I believe this is what Jews are experiencing in Israel where death and destruction is up close and personal. Each Jew feels the magnitude intensely because we are one people….one family and our connection is profound

Fortunately as Jews, it is our biblical teachings and beliefs that help us overcome the issues of uncertainty and powerlessness and enables us to move beyond a tragedy that is inexplicable. We draw upon our faith in G-d, our mission and life purpose and the future in which we strongly believe. And fortunately, we draw upon the strength, resolve and compassion of our brethren in the land.

Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf, is quoted in an article on Arutz Sheva, saying “The battle for Eretz Yisrael is the outer manifestation of the battle between truth and falsehood. The very presence of the enemy in our midst raging at us and warring with us informs us that redemption is just around the corner.”  This too gives us solace as we deeply understand the value of living here in spite of the challenges and hardships.

What can we do is always the question that each of us must answer.  I believe each of us must become part of an active front on behalf of the Jewish nation and in particular on behalf of the Jews in Eretz Yisrael, who are on the front lines of the battlefield. Each Jew must acquire an unwavering resolve and commitment to provide the necessary help to the victims and to increase their giving to Israel. Additionally we must work personally to increase our faith and trust in G-d.  We must become an advocate in every possible way for the Jews in Israel and the Land of Israel.

Most importantly, we must not allow ourselves to become deadened emotionally to the traumas being perpetrated in the holy Land. Nor should we allow ourselves to become despondent. Rav Shlomo Carlebach OBM reminds us “ERETZ YISRAEL is the holiest place in the universe and when we are going through difficult tests, if we hold onto our Faith and Trust in G-d, we can open extraordinary gates in heaven for everyone, thereby helping others to go through their own challenges in an easier way.”

May G-d guide and protect each Jew wherever they are in the world but especially in Eretz Yisrael. May He uplift and comfort the injured and the families of the injured and bring them complete healing. May He bring emotional relief to the families of the deceased and comfort them. May these pure offerings of holy souls bring the long awaited Moshiach immediately and without delay.

With enormous Blessings of love and light to each of you, Ariella Bracha

Aliyah, Teshuva and Israelis: What do They Share in Common?

3-questions-for-lifeAliyah, Teshuva and Israelis: What do They Share in Common?

Aliyah, teshuva and Israelis: What do they share in common? They can be:  Stressful! Scary! Humbling! Frustrating! Challenging! Hard work! Anger-Inducing!  But ultimately all three can bring us into greatness if we open ourselves up to truth.

When the initial shock of making Aliyah begins to settle in and you recognize you are living in the Middle East, surrounded by enemies, struggling to figure out every aspect of your life, one could say a pushy, direct Israeli who doesn’t mince words, is the last challenge you want. However, when you begin to understand that your association with him holds the key to your future success, it becomes vital to accept and appreciate them in order to solicit their help in moving through the maze of adjustments. In order to be successful in each endeavor, self–abnegation and reaching out for help and guidance holds the key to successful Aliyah, teshuva and learning to deal with Israelis.

Since we are in the ten days of teshuva, and the hot blog topic for many new immigrants appears to be the challenge of dealing with Israelis, I wanted to present the connection it shares with both doing teshuva, as well as making Aliyah, in the hopes that as we go into Yom Kippur or settle in as new immigrants, we make peace with all three.

Jews, as new immigrants exposed to Israelis for the first time, clearly state their aversion to being identified as Israeli, due to negative perceptions associated with Israelis. Perhaps as facts are revealed and our deeper understanding shifts, we may find teshuva is in order, due to the negative judgments we have placed on the host citizens of our new country—the place we now call home.

Aliyah, teshuva and learning to deal with Israelis are processes, whose end result is not achieved overnight. They require knowledge, awareness, honesty and a willingness to suspend self, in order to achieve a new way of being, as we strive to become better Jews by serving G-d and our nation in our ancient homeland. Maintaining shalom is imperative throughout each process, as the second Temple was destroyed as a result of baseless hatred. We have too many enemies including our yetzer hara, to create undue animosity between ourselves and our new Israeli family, as we work at settling in.

In an online business article about Europeans working with different cultures, the following observations are made based on their perception of Americans:

Americans consider themselves to be: professional, polite, boundary conscious, and respectful to others.

However, other cultures perceived Americans as: bureaucratic, artificial, self-indulgent, politically correct, people pleasers who apologize all the time, lack personal power, are spoiled as well as passive-aggressive.

On the other hand, their observations of Israelis were:

Israelis consider themselves to be: caring, creative, direct and honest while other nationalities perceived them as arrogant, stubborn, rude and pushy.

Interesting? Which perception is correct? It depends on the individual because the truth lies with our perceptions and experiences based on our own core values and personal bias. The article clarified that as time went on each group learned to value and appreciate the positive values inherent in the other cultural group, in spite of their initial negative judgment and perceived differences.

On November 29th, 1947 ,when the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish state, it was the ancestors of today’s Israelis who worked through the great struggles that ensued to create, through the grace of G-d, today’s thriving country.  Israel did not become the nation it is today by sheer luck.  Immigrants came to help build the land and the nation and their self sacrifice was enormous. They performed difficult, back breaking manual labor while at the same fighting for their lives, their land and their sovereignty. If we can begin to comprehend for one precious moment, the massive efforts required on the part of the Jewish community in Israel to establish a Jewish state and the skills and personality traits that were developed as a result of living through constant struggles and wars with enormous loss of our people both young and old, I believe, we will come to value and appreciate Israelis, as we strive to learn from them. If we can suspend misconceptions and negative judgments, we will make Aliyah, teshuva and dealing with Israelis more positive and beneficial for everyone and we will with certainty COME INTO THE LIGHT of our soul powers along with making G-ds name great.

According to published articles, as well as my own perceptions and experiences, I will enumerate the many outstanding qualities that make Israelis who they are.

Mahane_Yehuda_Market_P1020256Israelis are real!   This trait alone can jolt the inner nervous system of most unsuspecting Americans and send them back to the airport on the next plane out. I happen to be married to a New York born Jewish husband, who is very much like Israelis. (Yeah G-d, I love it).  Israelis have a genius for improvising and creating. They have brilliant minds. They have a taste for the good life but can live without it. They work hard caring for their communities. They are not afraid to be whom they are and they are not apologetic about it. They are loving and intimate with their friends and family…they establish close, life-long relationships and nourish them. They are affectionate. They have learned the art of living successfully under threats. Israeli’s are bonded by shared experiences which makes them strong. They are courageous. They are warriors. They are direct, pushy if need be, and fight for what they want and do not give up easily. They will strive mightily to figure a way to make what they want happen and they are incredibly resourceful. They are rule breakers. They are playful and love to joke and laugh. They smile easily and are full of kindness. They are warm and friendly and welcoming. They are taught to serve the community from their youth. (65% of high school students are required to do weekly community work for the full school year).

Israelis are not afraid to take risks or even fail. In America and Europe failure has a very bad name and is considered to be a liability against success. Israelis consider it a tool to simply do better.  Israelis are gutsy and not afraid to use their voice nor challenge authority. These are a few of the reasons why the Israeli start up rate is soaring. The IDF shapes the mentality of the young people in Israel to be community minded and nationally aware. Israelis are not spoiled. They work hard and play hard. They are passionate and direct and honest. They are extremely curious and creative. They are friendly and helpful if they want to be and that challenges most Americans. They do not play the game of pretending about anything. They have acquired the ability to push forward against all odds. They love to argue and to negotiate. Most will go out of their way to help you. Israelis do not always follow through on what they say they will do, but there is always a reason behind it.

The most truthful aspect of new immigrants dealing with powerful, non PC Israelis, is that when you are operating in a weakened emotional condition, and are unable to advocate for yourself, you view those who are NOT helping you in the way you need it, as the enemy. I believe the emotional volcano that has lain dormant rises to the surface and erupts in the face of the numerous settling in challenges and the culprit becomes The Israelis and/or Medinat Yisrael. This is a normal and common psychological response but can be deeply problematic if it gets out of hand. It is perfectly understandable that behaviors of others can often cause distress but it does not give us license to condemn them. In fact, when we stand unsure of ourselves, swirling in emotions, and uncertainty, feeling the deep loss of our selfhood and home connections, we tend to judge those closest at hand.

right_handMaking Aliyah, teshuvah and dealing with Israelis tends to remove all the layers of our hiddenness and our essence and character stands bare and vulnerable. They force us to face the truth of who we really are as they confront us with ourselves and break our illusions. In our discomfort, we often strive to find ways to justify our behavior or judgments in order to absolve ourselves of guilt. The key to Aliyah, teshuva and success in dealing with Israelis according to noted teacher, Rebbetzin Tzipora Heller, is to take yourself out of the center of everything. She states that most aveiras are a direct result of pride and arrogance because they cause us to see ourselves as being perfect and see others less than perfect in comparison to us.  If you choose to be intolerant towards Israelis and disparage them, this will be negatively impactful to our entire nation, for we return home to the Holy Land to build not destroy. When we approach Yom Kippur to be forgiven of our sins, we can hardly expect forgiveness if we have not been willing to forgive others. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach OBM says if you can see the good in others, it means you have merited the highest level of teshuva.

In the extraordinary Book, “Garden of Gratitude”, Rabbi Lazer Brody relates the following, “Hashem knows exactly what we need to move us into the realm of character refinement. Hashem knows that in a life of pampered pleasures, a person won’t make any character improvements and won’t fulfill even a small portion of his personal potential and certainly won’t seek Hashem. He will be light years away from teshuva and spiritual awareness. Such a person will be spoiled and weak; he will probably develop an over-inflated sense of entitlement and an intolerable personality who demand much of many people. On the other hand, life’s difficulties especially upon returning to the Holy Land, will not only strengthen a person but stimulate his search for meaning and spiritual growth.” Aliyah, teshuva and learning to deal respectfully with Israelis has the power to lead us in spiritual maturity which leads to true freedom.

To summarize:  Making Aliyah to live in Eretz HaKodesh and teshuva are two of G-ds greatest gifts to His beloved nation. Israelis are the residents of Eretz HaKodesh and have lived, worked, died and sacrificed to make it what it is today. Just as we owe Hashem an enormous debt of gratitude for our incredible land inheritance and for the chance to do teshuva, we owe our Israeli family acceptance, respect and appreciation. Just as G-d extends His love and Divine mercy through His gift of teshuva because He wants us to straighten ourselves out, we too must extend love and compassion to our Israeli family in spite of the differences. Our motivation should be love and fear of G-d. The challenge is awesome, but it is completely possible to shift perspectives and release negative judgments. Be encouraged by the fact that this is what G-d wants for our nation especially in our biblical homeland. During this time of the ten days of teshuva, G-d is asking us to carefully avoid the pitfalls of sin through positive, refined interactions with our family, friends, community and nation.

May we merit a soulful, deeply connective, and restorative Yom Kippur with a deep teshuva that enables us to accept and rise above our challenges with a renewed spirit and dedication to the King of Kings and His beloved nation in His beloved land.   May we merit to see the connection between Aliyah, teshuva and Israelis and restore each relationship to wholeness and perfect balance.

With Blessings of love and light.  Chag Sameach  Gmar Chatima Tova,   Ariella Bracha

*Note: Please refer to blog post of November of 2012, titled “Becoming Israeli” as it has additional insights which may be helpful.

 

Aliyah & Rosh HaShana: Their Commonalities and Connectors

rosh-hashanah-hd-wallpapers-wallpaper-f916b2ed383e62ec91b915de8ba77e0b-big-13089Aliyah & Rosh HaShana: Their Commonalities and Connectors

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

Every change in perspective creates a new beginning just as every new beginning creates a change of perspective. I love new beginnings and the feeling of a new start. I also appreciate and value a change in perspective, as new and relevant information is presented to me by learned Rabbis and scholars. It awakens a sense of discovery and brings a feeling of vitality in its wake. I believe the excitement and pleasure it engenders stems from a deep place of longing for wholeness and spiritual depth. At the same time, I believe every fear that arises as a result of change, also has at its source a longing for wholeness and spiritual depth.

Both aliyah and Rosh HaShana share the commonalities of new perspectives and are truly new beginnings at their finest. The Ba’al Shem Tov, in preparation for Rosh HaShana said, “Pray like a pauper…… suspend all your sophistication, literacy, and intelligence. Stand vulnerable, with no layers, with your essence exposed before G-d‘s essence. Stand innocent like a child. Then you will reach and see G-d’s face….G-ds essence.”

imagesThis is the exact description of the stance we should take and the awareness we should acquire upon returning home to Eretz Yisrael.  Most of us making aliyah arrive after a long separation in the land of our exiles. Upon coming home, many Jews feel as if they have no sophistication, no intelligence and feel lost and vulnerable with our ignorance and helplessness exposed. Some feel as if they have lost their personal identity and it feels crushing. We lose ourselves in the emotions without a clear understanding of the journey we have embarked upon. And yet, if we can stand innocent like a child with our true essence exposed, ready to receive all the goodness and blessings coming home to the Holiest place has to offer, we will see G-ds essence and He will guide us as His beloved children.

Just as we need to learn and understand the process of preparation for Rosh HaShana, we also need to understand its deep connection to the aliyah process of settling into the land. Similar to the month of Elul directing us inward for the purpose of Teshuva (returning to our true selves) and change, aliyah directs us to look inward to uncover our true selves that have often times been lost in the lands of our dispersion. Rosh HaShana and aliyah impart the need for change and change ultimately breaks things wide open.

Regarding the process called teshuva (returning to our true soulful selves), Rabbi Simon Jacobson says, “Teshuva infuses all our activities with vitality and a deeper sense of our own essence. Teshuva polishes and refines all our activities and makes them sparkle with the fire of the recesses of our soul reaching upward, returning to its source.” It is both a cleansing and healing process and has the ability to restore us to a sense of inner wholeness and G-dly harmony with life.

The same is true of aliyah, as it moves us into the aspect of total integration with the Jewish nation on all levels. It gives us the opportunity to infuse all our activities in the acclimation process with vitality and a deeper sense of our essence. A Jew living in the land can make his mitzvot sparkle with the fire of deep connection in the Holy Land of the Jewish nation. The prophet Ezekiel states,” I will gather you out of all the countries. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean. From all your uncleanness and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” (EZ.36:24-25) This cleansing creates an amazing feeling of inner wholeness and G-dly harmony which is likened to teshuva.

In this week’s Torah portion of Nitzavim, relating to the ingathering of the exiles (Dev. 30:3-5), Rabbi Moshe D. Lichtman in his commentary teaches that Rashi explains that when the Jewish people go into exile, G-d accompanies them and suffers with them and when they return to their land, G-d returns with them. The Rav explains that just as aliyah is good for the Jew on a personal and national level, it is also good for G-d. Not only does a Jew returning to his homeland bring back G-d, he brings back the Shechinah as well (Eretz Yisrael in the Parashah by Moshe D. Lichtman).The same Divine truth relates to teshuva and Rosh HaShana.

Elul and Rosh HaShanah are a compelling time frame of divine energy which allows accessibility to the inner realm of the soul. They allow for a powerful individuation process which initiates one into a truer and deeper state of being. And yes, aliyah is the same process.

Teshuva and aliyah are both fraught with advances and setbacks, successes and failures. Just as we would not reject doing teshuva during Rosh HaShana, we should not reject the possibility of making aliyah, nor the challenges that go along with it.

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Our ultimate aim as Jews is to fulfill the Divine mission we were charged with. As we traverse the path of returning to our true selves and returning to our homeland, we arrive at a more mature and conscious awareness of our true reality as an integral part of the Jewish nation. Ultimately we will discover that we have the ability to evolve and create a deep conscious connection to God, ourselves and our nation.

In truth, our life choices must reflect the vision of our higher selves which we long for. Each of us must choose to become the master of his soul journey, as we strive to steer our souls into an expansive, uplifting and soulful life, serving G-d and our nation with all of our gifts and talents.

May we embrace all our new beginnings and new perspectives revealed through the deep teachings and experiences embedded in both Rosh HaShana and aliyah and may we understand, THESE ARE NEW BEGINNINGS AT THEIR FINEST!

May all new immigrants truly acquire the understanding of the great Blessings they have brought into the world through making aliyah. May you allow nothing to stand in the way of your successful aliyah knowing you are in the Land G-d personally has His eyes on every single day. May you personally feel the privilege of serving THE KING OF KINGS IN HIS PALACE….ERETZ YISRAEL.

To all of Klal Yisrael: May this year be endowed with the deepest clarity of G-dly purpose, joyous experiences and meaningful relationships along with health and well being. When the shofar sounds, may it usher in a good, sweet year granting you fulfillment of all your personal and spiritual needs.

La Shana Tova! And Kesiva V’Chatima Tova!

With Love and Blessings, Ariella Bracha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, zt”zl

I had never been introduced to the teachings of “The RAV” …..Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook zt”zl until we made aliyah. Through Divine Providence, he and his teachings came into our lives and forever changed the way we view Eretz HaKodesh and our beloved Jewish nation. Please enjoy this extraordinary biography of the Rav, so you too may catch a glimpse of one of the greatest Rav’s of the 20th century.