No Easy Way Out

Dear Rabbi Brody,
I’m not religious, but I get a kick out of your column and your broadcasts, even though I disagree with you plenty. One thing I particularly don’t like is the fact that you’re always hounding Jews about keeping all of the 613 commandments. So what if I’m Jewish? Why can’t I just keep the seven Noahide commandments like you tell the non-Jews to? How come you’re so nice to the non-Jews, and you’re all over the case of the Jews. That doesn’t seem fair. Please explain. Thank you, GA from Ohio

Dear GA,
Diesel fuel is fine for a diesel engine, but it won’t propel a jet engine. The spiritual profile of a Jew differs that of a non-Jew. Therefore, the spiritual diet that can keep a non-Jew healthy won’t get a Jew off the ground. A non-Jew can eat shrimp and lobsters all day long, and as long as he/she observes the seven Noahide laws, he/she is considered righteous. If you eat 28 grams of shrimp, you put a gaping hole in your soul. Whenever you turn on a light bulb with a tiny flick of the finger on the Sabbath, you cut yourself off from Hashem. On the other hand, a non-Jew can do whatever he or she pleases on their Saturday.

If a Jew keeps 612 out of the Torah’s 613 commandments, and willfully breaks #613, he or she is considered a transgressor. Not fair? Consider this – if a grain of sand lands on your hand, nothing happens. But, if it lands in your eye, you suffer excruciating pain. Not fair? A hand and an eye – while both being very necessary parts of the body – are built differently with different strengths and sensitivities; the same goes for a Jew and a non-Jew. While both are Hashem’s beloved creations, they have different strengths and different sensitivities because of their different tasks in the world. Yet, like an eye and a hand, both are vital.

Since you’re a Jew – whether you like it or not – the only way for you to guarantee yourself true happiness in this world and in the next is to keep all 613 mitzvas. There’s no easy way out. We all came down to this lowly world to perform a difficult task, and not to have fun and games. Yes, I will continue to get on your cage for your own good – if that’s so distasteful for you, why do keep on reading the Lazer Beam? I’ll tell you why, GC – deep down, it makes your soul feel good. Think about it, GC. If you add some emuna to your life, you’ll feel great.

With smiles & blessings, Lazer Brody

Originally Published Here.

Rabbi Lazer Brody on Shalom Bayis – Mp3

Rabbi Lazer Brody inspired approximately 200 people on Sunday with a shiur sponsored by Chazaq at the Beth Gavriel Community Center on Shalom Bayis. As you might know, Rabbi Brody has translated Rabbi Shalom Arush’s book on Shalom Bayis called The Garden of Peace, a marital guide for men only. If is highly acclaimed and highly recommended.

Rabbi Brody’s first key to Shalom Bayis is that we should thank our spouse for all they do for us. Expressing thanks is the first key to Shalom Bayis.

The second major point is that a wife needs to know that she holds a central place in her husband’s list of priorities. This should be easy since the wife is the strength of a Jewish home, but we all need to make the effort to show our wife she is in first place in our eyes.

The third key is avoid criticizing your wife. Criticism and comments are very painful for a women and we should avoid them at all costs.

For women, Rabbi Brody noted that a shalom bayis book for women is on the way, and he suggested that women should encourage their husband and build their confidence..

Rabbi Yosef Nechama of was kind enough to allow us to share Rabbi Brody’s shiur. So please avail yourself of this opportunity to improve a most important aspect of our lives, our shalom bayis.

Rabbi Brody’s shiur on Shalom Bayis can be downloaded here.

Doing the Right Thing in a Tough Situation

Rabbi Lazer Brody originally posted this good advice here:

Josh from New England sent me the following question via my dear friend A Simple Jew:

I wanted to get your 2 cents on something. It’s my rabbi and my trouble seeing him as “my rabbi”. I am used to warm and caring rabbis, however he is what my wife refers to as “gruff”. His wife, on the other hand, is one of the sweetest rebbetzins you would ever meet.

The rabbi is constantly frazzled and short with me. Often he walks right by me without saying hello. He never engages me in conversation when I come over to wish him a “Good Shabbos”. He is easy to lose his temper, barks out commands to his kids, and often partakes of an inordinate amount of alcohol – and not just at times when it is customary to do so. This last observation has also been made by a number of people at my shul.

If I boil down what I am saying, he is not my ideal for a rabbi and barely meets my qualifications for a decent person. Have any advice for me? Finding another shul is obviously your first answer. However, my kids have lots of friends at this shul and also adore the rebbetzin. What should I do? I would have to move to another town since this is the only shul in walking distance if this is your advice to me.

Regards, Josh

Dear Josh,

First off, I want to warn you about gossip and slander. Even if the facts are true, you and other community members shouldn’t be talking about the rabbi unless you are bona-fide representatives of the community doing so to consider extending his contract or not. In your words, This last observation has also been made by a number of people at my shul – don’t fall into the Yetzer’s gossip trap.

If what you say is true, both anger and alcohol are clear signs of dark-side influence. Such a person cannot be a healthy spiritual guide, for if he is disconnected from holiness, how can he connect you to holiness?

I don’t suggest that you uproot your family because of this guy. Find yourself a rav and spiritual guide outside the community, and pray within the community. With email and cheap long-distance dialing, it’s no problem talking to any rav you like anywhere. Make no expectations from the local rabbi and you won’t be disappointed. Also, be careful not to join on a bandwagon against him. Hashem will take care of this His own way. Blessings and Happy Chanuka, LB

Without the Branch, There’s no Fruit

I became an observant Jewess about 3 years ago, when I was 17. Today, I have a wonderful schedule and I love my life and learning – I’m studying to be an optometrist in the morning, and in the late afternoon I attend classes at a Jewish Women’s Seminar. But, I have a fly in my ointment – my parents.

My parents are lovely people, but their world is still at the level of 9 to 5 followed by dinner and popcorn in front of the television. Although they respect me, they embarrass me all the time. I’ve told my father a million times that he can’t shake hands with my girlfriends, but everytime I bring one home he sticks his hand right out. I’ve tried to explain to my mother the severity of slander and idle gossip, but she says everything about everybody. Even worse, all this gives me a nasty guilt trip; after listening to lectures from the best Torah teachers one could wish for, I come home to two people who only seem to be interested in what’s for dinner and what’s on TV. It’s hard for me to respect them, and that’s a big test, since I’ll be living at home at least for another two years or until Hashem sends me my intended (please make a blessing for me). Please give me some advice on how to accept my situation with emuna. Thank you for being there, Rabbi. With sincere appreciation, Karen from New Jersey

Dear Karen,

First of all, I’m glad that you’re still at home; the advantages of your sanctity far outweigh the peripheral aggravation you have from little details at home. Please forgive me, but I must take exception with the “fly in the ointment” metaphor. Maybe your mama isn’t a Lakewood rebbetzin and your dad isn’t a Rosh Yeshiva with a Homburg on his head, but I’m sure that they’re wonderful people to merit a daughter that’s devoting her life to Hashem. Remember, they are simply the products of their environment, much like babies that grew up in captivity. They never cast away Yiddishkeit, for they never had it. There’s a lot of headway to give them the benefit of the doubt.

You can influence them best by being a kind, considerate, understanding and loving daughter. Please don’t preach and don’t look down on them. Concentrate on your own soul-searching and self-improvement. The more you show compassion for your parents, the more Hashem will have compassion on you – that means you’ll find you bashert (intended) with considerable less hassle.

You don’t have to respect your parents’ lifestyle, but Halacha requires you to give them absolute respect. Since this is the month of Shvat, let me explain in terms of a fruit tree: Fruit can’t develop on its own; it must grow on a branch. You, as a baalas tshuva with a bright future, are the aromatic fruit. Your parents though, are the branch you grow on. One doesn’t eat the branch, but without it, there’s no fruit. Don’t forget that, and you’ll be fine – I’m glad you wrote. May Hashem send you your true soulmate in the nearest future, amen.

Blessings always, LB

This article was originally posted on Rabbi Brody’s site.

Rabbi Brody on the BT Blues – The Uncooperative Spouse

Rabbi Brody posts the following question and answer from a reader and thought it would be of interest to the Beyond BT audience.

Dear Rabbi Brody,

I’ve been a Baal Tshuva for almost a year and a half now. Before I made Tshuva, my relations with my wife were shaky at best, and tense most of the time. Now, they’re even worse. She doesn’t want to hear about Torah or tshuva. All she seems interested in is fun and games – DVDs, tennis, girlfriends. I see no hope in this marriage; when I’m in shul, she’s playing tennis with a girlfriend. We’ve tried marriage counseling, but it hasn’t done anything other than depleting my available cash. Luckily, our three-year old son is not in school yet, but that’s the next potential battle down the line – how to educate him. Both her parents and my parents are against me. I need some urgent advice. Waiting to hear from you as soon as possible, Dennis C., Southern USA.

Dear Dennis,

Your wife isn’t against Torah – she’s against you and anything you represent. If you started playing tennis, she’d probably start horseback riding. The first thing you have to do is to learn how to be a loving and considerate husband. For that, you need emuna.

Don’t despair, and don’t fall into a self-pity mode. Now’s that time to mobilize and take positive action. If you play your cards right, everything will fall into place. This is a classic test of faith. Stop wasting money on marriage counseling, for if the counselor doesn’t help you strengthen your emuna, then nothing will change.

With emuna and patience, you’ll have just the home you want. From this moment on, do the following with no excuses and no compromises:
Read more Rabbi Brody on the BT Blues – The Uncooperative Spouse

The Beauty vs the Burden of Keeping the Mitzvos

Dear Rabbi Lazer Brody,

I’m 17, and a junior in public high school. My parents belong to a conservative synagogue, and give me all kinds of flak because I don’t attend services or observe the high holidays. Being honest, I went to McDonald’s last Yom Kippur, and ate Kentucky Fried all Passover which drove them mad. Really, I have a great set of parents, but we fight a lot because of the religious issue. I read in a book that a person is not responsible for breaking Jewish laws under coercion. I didn’t ask to be brought into this world, nor to be born Jewish. Doesn’t that exempt me from keeping the commandments?

Yours truly,
Free Spirit from Philadelphia

Dear Free Spirit,

You are my kind of young man – sincere, straight shooting, and sharp. With your mind, you should either set your sights on law school or begin learning Gemorra. I’d recommend both…
Read more The Beauty vs the Burden of Keeping the Mitzvos

Motzi (Step 7) – Uplifting a Jew to Near Perfection

By Rav Lazer Brody

Motzi uplifts a Jew to near perfection. A Jew possess the body of a mammal, yet the soul of an angel. No one but the Jew can take coarse materiality and convert it to spirituality. On Seder night, when the Jew grasps the matzos with his ten fingers, and then says the blessing “HaMotzi” that consists of ten words, he and his family are able to ascend the spiritual ladder of the ten spheres and attain perfect unity with Hashem, as the number ten indicates perfection. Since Hashem is perfection, all who cling to Him and subjugate themselves to Him interfuse with perfection.

On Seder night we make “HaMotzi” on the simplest of pas, the matza shmura that consists of water and wheat with nothing else. Symbolically, this shows that we attain spiritual perfection by minimizing material needs, since interestingly enough there are ten mitzvas in the Torah involving wheat. A happy and kosher Passover.

Teaching Kedusha in the Home

Dear Rabbi Brody,

In case you don’t remember, my wife and I made Tshuva 5 years ago. Then, our daughter was 6. Now she’s 11, and despite our efforts, she isn’t careful about washing her hands in the morning or about saying Krias Shma at night. In your last letter to us, you told us to try and be stronger personal examples and do everything that we demand from her; we’ve implemented your advice, but it still isn’t easy. Could you devote some of your valuable time to strengthening a little girl in Kedusha? Could you please explain to our Debbie the importance of “negel vasser” and Krias shma at night? We’re sure that she’ll listen to you, and we’d be forever grateful.

S and J Ross,

Read more Teaching Kedusha in the Home

Remedies for Spiritual Freeze

Dear Rabbi Brody,

I don’t feel any kind of emotion when I go to synagogue. Praying seems to be a drag, and I feel nothing. I want to be a proper BT, but I just can’t seem to pray. What should I do?

Thanks, FR from New Jersey

Dear FR,

The old Novardok Yeshiva remedy for firing up a person with your problem is to say the prayer “Nishmas kol chai” from the Shabbos morning service; you can say it at any time or at any place, and it works wonders. Say each word slowly, loudly, and with fervor, as if you’re counting one-hundred dollar bills. If you don’t understand the Hebrew, say the translation from an English prayer book, then go back and say the Hebrew. Contemplate every word. By the time you’re through, you’ll have thawed out. Normally, when a person says “Nishmas” like he/she should, he/she kindles a bonfire of love for Hashem in their heart.
Read more Remedies for Spiritual Freeze

BT Vertigo


Vertigo is a term that jet pilots use to describe spatial disorientation. When a pilot approaches the sound barrier, strange things can occur, especially on a clear-day’s flight over water. The pilot is liable to become disoriented, and to confuse the blue of the sea with the blue of the sky, and vice versa. Some pilots become dizzy and others elated; in any event, vertigo can make a pilot think that up is down and down is up.

The laws of the material world apply to the spiritual world as well. The best of the Baalei Tshuva resemble jet pilots: Thirsty for Hashem and His Torah, they cruise at supersonic spiritual speeds. A good BT’s takeoff in Yiddishkeit – let’s say his or her initial thrust and climb in spiritual altitude – would make even a strong FFB’s head spin. But, as in jet flight, the faster a BT ascends and cruises, the more critical any tiny mistake in judgment or spiritual navigation becomes.
Read more BT Vertigo

Believing in Yourself

A baal tshuva – or any other Jew with aspirations – needs two primary spiritual resources: Belief in Hashem, and belief in oneself. Many sources speak about the former, but few discuss the importance of the latter.

Young BT’s are frequently misled by mistaken concepts of “anava”, or modesty. Hashem doesn’t expect you to walk around telling everyone that you’re “gornisht”; those who do so, even if they are sincerely trying to rid their lives of arrogance – end up believing that they really are nothing. That’s wrong. A soldier must know his capabilities in order to effectively utilize the weapons at his disposal. An F-15 pilot must be perfectly aware that the government has entrusted $50 million sophisticated airborne arsenal in his hands, including an array of ultra high-tech weaponry in order to get his job done. He can’t say, “I’m a weak nothing,” or else he’ll be endangering the security of his country, wasting potential, and losing the war.

Yiddishkeit is also a war. Read more Believing in Yourself