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It’s not easy to give.

But the people who most benefit from our generosity is…ourselves.

I just wrote a whole, long piece about two families who need some serious help to get their children married off this week. Long story short, they need to find $4000 each to pay for the most basic, subsidized wedding you can make, without just eloping.

They’ve raised $2,000 so far – which is totally awesome, and has made all the difference in the world to the family involved. And you can read more of my musings on the whole subject of giving tzedakah on the ravberland.com site, HERE.

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I’m not going to repeat myself, but I do want to just amplify one of the points I made over there, which is that I’ve noticed that the yuckiest people I routinely have to deal with – the critical, judgmental, evil-eyed blamers who are constantly moaning and complaining about how hard their own lives are, and trying to squeeze attention and money out of everyone else whilst giving nothing back – also seem to be the people who are most allergic to the idea of:

  1. Giving tzedaka to other people
  2. Doing pidyon nefeshs 
  3. Rabbi Berland being a big Tzaddik.

It’s amazing to me, how it all seems to go together, but now that I’ve seen this pattern show up again and again and again, I just wanted to flag it here.

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There is one reason why people are ‘anti’ Rav Berland and this is it:

Their own middot suck.

That’s it, that’s the whole ‘big secret’ behind his widespread persecution.

Thank God a million times, I’m not on that side of the equation.

Because the other thing that I’ve noticed is that these people with bad middot live very difficult lives, that are full of harsh judgment and suffering. No-one likes them, no-one wants to hang out with them, and their own families are ‘nightmares on Elm Street’, because when you get all those bad middot amplifying through the children….and the grandchildren….and the siblings….and the parents….

Well, let’s just say it’s unpleasant.

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So, don’t think you’re doing anyone else a favor, when you give tzedaka, or do a pidyon, or work on your bad middot, because you’re really not. There is one person you are helping out, and that is yourself.

And we all need all the help we can get. So even if you just have $5 spare  – or $1 spare – do yourself a favor, and go buy yourself some Divine compassion. You can do that by going HERE, and helping two God-fearing families to marry off their children with a basic measure of dignity.

But let’s be clear, every penny given is not really helping them, even though that’s how it’s dressed-up.

It’s only helping us.

And we all need all the help we can get.

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Buy your better middot, sweetened judgment and Divine compassion for as little as a buck, by going HERE.

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UPDATE, FRIDAY 20TH DECEMBER, 2019:

Baruch Hashem, so far they raised around $3600, and they managed to get both couples married off. It mamash took so much of the pressure off the families, so thanks to everyone who contributed. But you don’t have to stop here! Go back, and donate again – $5 even, it all makes a difference, because the families still have to find the remaining $4,400 to cover their debts, and for families like these, that amount is an enormous debt.

I realised this week, that I’ve been in a pretty good mood the last two days because every time I think about how much stuff I’ve got to sort out, and get on with, and work on – in so many ways – just knowing that I went and helped these families a little is making me think on some level, Hashem is going to help me too, bezrat Hashem.

Not because I deserve anything, because I don’t.

But just because it’s a spiritual rule, that God treats us the way we treat others, and I’m doing my best to stop judging harshly, and just to shut up and give a bit of help and kindness.

In the meantime, here’s the father of the bride from yesterday’s wedding, thanking the donors who helped to make it happen. If you gave something, watch this and kvell, and if you didn’t – it’s never too late! Even a $1! What do you care? You’ll buy yourself a smile for the rest of the day.

Buy your better middot, sweetened judgment, Divine compassion and inner smile for as little as a buck, by going HERE.

Photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash.

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Help to keep Rabbi Arush and Chut Shel Chesed Yeshiva going.

Yesterday, I got an email from someone I know from way back when, during the time my husband and I were a part of Rabbi Shalom Arush’s Chut Shel Chesed Yeshiva, telling me the Rav needs our help.

Here’s what she sent me to post up here, which I’m going to cut and paste below:

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Everyone knows Rabbi Arush for his books including “The Garden of Emuna,” and his classes. What you may not know, is that Rabbi Arush runs an entire organization centered in Jerusalem, whose reach is all over the world, called “Chut shel Chessed.”

> The sounds of Torah learning that fill Rabbi Arush’s Yeshiva 24/6 – you can have a portion in the merit of all that Torah.
> The sounds of small children learning in Rabbi Arush’s preschools, the breath of the children that sustains the world – you can have a portion in their learning.
> The sounds of school children, high school, and seminary/Beit Midrash girls and boys busy at their studies – you can have a portion in that too.
> The hundreds of food baskets and thousands of hot meals served to the poor of Jerusalem, many of them the families of Torah scholars – you can have a portion in all of that chesed, made even more important by supporting the poor of the Land of Israel.
? The almost one thousand classes given monthly by Rabbi Arush and his students, plus tens of thousands of books distributed and thousands of readers of the website in five languages – you can have a portion in all of that outreach.

No other organization gives you everything, all under one roof!

By donating to the Campaign “The Fire of Emuna” you become a full partner in everything that Rabbi Arush does.

And he wants to do more! He has a rare opportunity to build a new building for the boys school, which right now is squeezed into a makeshift space out of a few apartments – he needs the money NOW, or it won’t happen. He has an amazing opportunity to do special classes in the Israeli army, something that no one gets security clearance for – he got the clearance, and now we need the funds. He wants to greatly expand his efforts spreading emuna around the world.

He has already done so much, and he can do much more – but he cannot do it alone.

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Rabbi Arush has promised something huge back in return: A guarantee that anyone who donates to the Campaign will see miracles already this year! 

He will also pray for each and every person who donates. You can also receive special gifts like a mezuzah or Kiddush Cup specially blessed by Rabbi Arush, a personally signed and blessed Book of Psalms or “The Garden of Emuna,” or even a special, personal prayer for you at the Kotel.

In every way that you increase your donation, and even more so by encouraging other people to donate as well, so too do you increase your level of partnership, thus increasing your merit and the salvations that will inevitably come as a result.

Click here to donate via the Charidy website or to donate by phone using credit card, bank transfer, or horat keva (last two are Israeli only), or for more information on the special gifts, or to break your donation into monthly payments, call my personal contact for the Campaign on: (323) 992-6090 from the US or 058-320-5057 in Israel.

Remember, it’s all or nothing! The Campaign ends 12AM Midnight Israel time on Thurs. 6/27!

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Some more of my personal thoughts to add on this:

In case you don’t know how these charity campaigns run in Israel, they basically work along the lines of a Vegas game of poker. The site offers to match the donations brought in – but only if your campaign makes its target amount within 36 hours. If it doesn’t – then it’s really, really bad news.

Personally, I don’t like the idea so much, but it appeals to the Israeli ‘high stakes’ mindset, and I know most of the charity campaigns I’ve contributed to the last few years all over the orthodox Jewish world in Israel have been run along the same lines.

So, Rav Arush really needs our help.

I heard a whisper on the grapevine that the people behind the persecution of Rabbi Berland basically went after many of Rav Arush’s donors, after he came out – repeatedly – in public support of him. If you want to know why he suddenly fell quiet a couple of years’ back, it’s because the Meah Shearim Mafiosos targeted him and his institutions for retribution, and also threatened to get his books removed from shelves and stores in Israel for being ‘religiously coercive’.

This stuff would be funny, if it wasn’t so very, very serious.

And it makes me very sad to see that so many gullible people fell for their tactics, and that the yeshiva is now in such a bad way, financially.

Are we going to stand back, yawn and let the bad guys win?

I hope not.

And I hope you’ll consider giving something to the campaign, and letting other people know about it.

For once, the fundraising bumpf is not lying:

It really is all or nothing.

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Go HERE to donate, or follow the instructions above, to deal with a real, English-speaking helpful person.

PS: Just to say, this email really made me think about how much ‘good’ I got from the Garden of Emuna, and especially ‘Education with Love’, amongst Rav Arush’s other books. I can’t do much, but the little I could give I was very happy to do with tremendous gratitude. Rav Arush really did change my world for the best. I hope I can return the favor, at least a tiny bit.

BH, I have many, many issues and flaws that I’m working on (as you probably have figured out yourself, by now) – but probably my main saving grace, spiritually, is that I don’t have a problem giving tzedakah.

Even when I was a penniless student in university, I regularly gave 10% of whatever measly income I actually had to charity. When I was earning a fortune in the UK, we used to get lines of collectors from Israel queuing up outside our door (which to be honest was something of a mixed blessing and not always an uplifting experience, especially when people would start arguing over how much we’d given them and even turning a little abusive.)

Then, we moved to Israel – and throughout all my ups and downs, my losing my home twice over, my enormous difficulties with money that at times have been completely overwhelming, even then – I still gave charity. At least 10%, and sometimes even more.

So when people have issues giving charity, I don’t always find that so easy to relate to.

Someone tried to explain the problem to me a few days ago, and said that while they try to see God in every area of their life, as soon as it becomes a question of money, it’s like God is completely out of the picture.

The battle for ‘self-preservation’ kicks in, the primitive, instinctual brain whose motto is ‘me first’ takes over, and all thoughts of giving tzedaka kind of vanish in the mist.

After they explained it that way, I started to understand the battle that so many of us have to give 10% of our income away, even when we have enough for all of our own needs. And since I’ve been reading more of Rebbe Nachman’s works, I also understand that the ‘lust for money’ is the hardest one to escape, and the biggest problem for most people heading into geula and the time of redemption.

I’ve also noticed another strange thing: the more money a person has, the more stingy they often become with other people, and the more judgmental of the people asking for help (probably as a defense mechanism, so they don’t feel guilty for not giving.)

I was discussing this with my husband a while back, and he told me he thinks money acts like a kind of spiritual magnet for a person. The bigger the pile of cash in the bank account, the harder it seems to be to part with any of it.

Yet, Rebbe Nachman teaches that the ONLY way to really break the lust for money is to give charity generously. And that’s where things can get very, very difficult, especially for people who are truly sunk in the lust for money.

EVEN IF WE DON’T GIVE THE MONEY TO TZEDAKA, WE’LL STILL END UP LOSING IT

A little while back, someone I know did a big financial deal that netted them around half a million euros. They didn’t give any of it to charity, let alone 10%. A few months later, they got landed with a very unexpected and stressful bill for €50,000 – exactly 10%.

I’m bringing this story to prove our Sages dictum that a person’s income, including how much money they’ll have and lose, is decided on Rosh Hashana. And if the person is worthy, they’ll end up ‘losing’ their money to charity. And if not? Then it’ll be unexpected tax bills, expenses, fines, things breaking down, a year of therapy for their unhappy kids, marriage counselling sessions etc etc.

When you give 10% to charity, you see blessings in all areas of your life, because as our Sages also teach us, charity saves us from death, and overturns the harsh decrees. (It’s a separate post, but this is the main principle underlying why people do a pidyon Nefesh, especially when they’re seriously ill or suffering in some way. It’s literally ‘money for blood’ – your cash instead of your health, or your marriage, or some other big judgment against you, God forbid.)

Given how hard the yetzer sometimes makes it to give charity to others, I thought I’d bring some quotes from Rebbe Nachman’s Book of Traits, to underline the many advantages that come from doing so, and also some key reasons why money can be so tight in a household, in the first place.

Here goes:

FROM THE SECTION ON MONEY:

  • One’s wealth doesn’t endure if one doesn’t have mercy on others.
  • Four things cause the possessions of houseowners to fall into oblivion: denying payment to their employees; denying employees their salary; evading one’s obligations and shifting them on to others; and arrogance. (If you’re wondering why I lost my home twice despite all my charity, it’s a pretty safe bet that arrogance had something to do with it.)
  • Honoring the Torah and Shabbat is conducive to wealth.
  • If one includes God in his pain, his income is doubled. Also, his income soars like a bird.
  • When one sees that his sustenance is limited, he should give part of it to charity.
  • One’s sustenance is diminished when one does not judge others with the benefit of the doubt (also one of my very big problems, at least up until now.)
  • One who deals with impure names and witchcraft becomes poor (after the story I recounted below HERE about the evil ‘alternative healer’, this sentence really jumped out at me…)
  • Through apostasy [i.e. not really believing in God] comes poverty.
  • The words of a Tzaddik bring income (take a look at THIS story, about Israeli multi-millionaire Yaron Yamin.)
  • Blessing only rests within one’s house in the merit of honoring one’s wife.

FROM THE SECTION ON CHARITY:

  • Great is charity, that it brings the redemption near.
  • And saves from death…and evokes the Divine presence…and raises a person’s fortune…and renders one a complete Tzaddik.
  • Through charity, one becomes able to avoid evil.
  • Charity is equal to all the other commandments together.
  • God grants one who pursues opportunities to give charity with money, and with upright people to whom to give it. He also merits children who become wealthy, great in wisdom and masters in aggadah.
  • One should give charity with both hands, and his prayer will be heard.
  • Through generosity, you will have renewal.
  • Through charity, one comes to emuna…and salvation is brought.
  • In the merit of charity, one is saved from pride.
  • The joy one feels in giving charity is a sign of a whole heart.
  • Even an impoverished person must give charity and if he does, he will not see further poverty.

And lastly, this

FROM THE SECTION ‘TZADDIK’:

  • Don’t be disturbed by the fact that the Tzaddikim accept financial support from others in order to run their households with wealth and honor – would it not be better for them not to lead, and not to take from others? For the more delight and expansion the Tzaddik has, the more his soul expands, and there is a resting place in which the Divine Presence may dwell.
  • The students of a Tzaddik attain their livelihood in his merit.
  • Giving money to benefit a Tzaddik is like serving in the Holy Temple.
  • One who doesn’t support a Torah scholar from his possessions will never see a sign of blessing.
  • Through giving charity, one becomes a ‘veer from evil’ [and do good].
  • God gives livelihood to a tzaddik through the community in order that he will have some connection with them, and so that when God remembers the Tzaddik, he remembers them as well.
  • The sufferings that come upon the Tzaddikim are an atonement for all the Jewish people.
  • One who benefits the Tzaddik from his belongings it’s as if he benefited all the Jewish people, and he’s saved from death.
  • Through the livelihood people provide for the Tzaddik, all their sins are forgiven, just as the Cohen’s eating of the sacrifices atoned for those who offered them.

HOW DO WE KNOW WHO’S A ‘REAL’ TZADDIK, TO GIVE OUR MONEY TO?

There is one answer to this question, and one answer only: Talk to God about it, and ask Him to show you clearly who is really a Tzaddik in this upside-down, backwards, all-mixed-up world, and who isn’t.

I guarantee if you ask this question sincerely, God will very quickly start to show you who is the real deal in the world. When me and my husband started asking God to show us who the real rabbis were a couple of years ago, He very quickly exploded both of the ‘rabbinic’ fakers in our lives within a week of each other….

This is one question that you can’t take anyone else’s opinion on – you just have to deal direct with God yourself, and ask Him to show you the truth.

B’hatzlacha!