14 Kislev 5776 / Thursday, November 26, 2015 | Torah Reading: Vayishlach
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Emuna at Fort Bragg     Emuna at Fort Bragg

The Chaplain gave a copy of "The Garden of Emuna" to a spiritually hungry female soldier at Fort Bragg; he had no idea about how it would impact her whole family...


The closest thing to Rebbe Nachman's heart was hafatza, spreading emuna teachings and bringing people closer to hashem.
Our sole purpose in our travels around the globe is to spread emuna, for only emuna is the key to all of humanity living in harmony and to preventing this entire world from blowing itself to smithereens.
I can testify that my beloved teacher Rabbi Shalom Arush's greatest joy in the world is getting another human being to call Hashem's Name. That's understandable; as we say three times every day in the Aleinu prayer, the world will attain its correction when all of living flesh calls Hashem's Name.
The IDF the US Armed Forces are two focus-spots where we invest much time, effort and funds in spreading emuna. One of our esteemed partners is US Army Captain Ephraim Travis, the Jewish chaplain of Fort Bragg. Rabbi Ephraim sent me an inspiring and encouraging letter that I'd like to share with you. He's doing great things, simply by putting emuna books and CDs in soldiers' hands. And, soldiers are spiritually hungry people. See for yourself:
Dear Reb Lazer,
It was an honor and privilege to see you in the Five Towns after the hurricane a few weeks ago. G-d willing, next time in Yerushalyim or Uman!!! I also wanted to share what I think is an amazing tidbit about The Garden of Emuna.
Several months ago, I was contacted by a young lady whom I'll call "J." She was interested in learning and studying Judaism with the possibility of conversion. She grew up as a Catholic but had issues with Catholicism and became a Protestant. She eventually came to reject that theology as well and became introduced to Judaism through a Jewish Army Officer she was dating. They broke up B"H but she still has a great desire to study and learn. I tried on many occasions to dissuade her as she is not Jewish and she needn't become a Jew. I told her repeatedly that she should "Just keep the 7 and go Heaven" as my Rebbe is known to say.
A short couple of months later, J arrived at Ft. Bragg to begin her Army service. She immediately began to attend EVERY Jewish event she could; Friday Night Davening, Lunch n' Learns, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Chanukah, etc. I've noticed that she is holds back tears every time I share a Torah thought on Parshas HaShavuah, often during a Torah class and she'll cry openly when she talks to me one on one about her spiritual yearnings. I observed how she quickly transitioned from wearing clothing that was borderline modest to clothing that would make any Bais Yaakov girl proud. She tries her best to study and learn on her own when she can. She has started to keep Kosher in a limited way and only ate vegetarian MREs on her most recent field exercises because the Kosher MREs weren't available to her.
All the while, I've been urging "J" to reconsider and stick with being a Noahide. She adamantly refuses and often has tears in her eyes as she responds with the following words, "Rabbi Travis, I just can't explain it but I want something more and I see it, feel it in Traditional Orthodox Judaism. I tried Reform for a couple of months and I knew immediately that it's not enough for me." Yet, I continue to counter her and inform her of the difficulties she'll encounter should she convert. I haven't let up in my efforts to urge her maintain her Emuna as a beloved Bas Noach. I've been unsuccessful thus far. She's already planning on clearing her schedule for Purim and Pesach.
Reb Lazer, when we saw each other at the Agudah in Lawrence NY, someone had graciously donated dozens of copies of TTTT, Garden of Emunah, Garden of Peace etc. I took just a one copy of each with the intent to give them out. B"H I was able to easily find Soldiers who were interested and I gave a copy of Garden of Emuna to this woman. I felt confident that she would read it and ingest it. But I had no idea of the impact it would have on her family.
Please understand that her oldest brother (whom I'll call "M") is a hardcore, US Army Special Forces, "stone-cold killer." He's a Sergeant Major for the super elite and highly secretive, best of the best, Delta Force. She is very close to her brother and although he has his reservations about her 'new-found' spiritual journey, she has his love and respect. "J" had shared with me that he's been dealing with very significant challenges lately.
They were attending a family gathering for Thanksgiving Day weekend and some of their other family members were harassing "J" about her search and exploration of Judaism. Well, B"H she had brought her new copy of Garden of Emuna and was peeking into it whenever she had a moment. At one point, "M" asked "J" what she was reading. She responded that it was a book about faith and trust in G-d. At some point, "M" began to read the Garden of Emunah and asked, "Who is this Hashem character?" Once he got his answer, he commented to "J" that "This is great stuff. I want to get a copy. Where do I get one?" B"H she related to me that she answered a lot of his concerns when she simply answered, "Rabbi Travis."
This is not about me. This is just a beautiful anecdote of the power of Emuna; the desire for Emuna among people from all walks of life. I truly feel humbled and undeserving to be a messenger for Hashem but understand that I should share these moments.
We should all consider ourselves chaplains of spreading emuna wherever we are. According to the Zohar, there is no greater mitzva. So if wonderful people like Captain Travis can spread emuna in hard-core places like the military and the prison system, you certainly can do so in your hometown and neighborhood. The great thing is that you can use your maaser money (tithe) to do so. Contact the staff at Breslev Israel, and they'll be happy to tell you how you can help. When you partner with Rabbi Shalom Arush, you only win.
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We invite you to visit Rabbi Lazer Brody’s award-winning daily web journal Lazer Beams.

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  4 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  discouraging converts
YY, 12/30/2012 6:02:04 AM
  I remember Fort bragg
Francine, 1/1/2013 10:13:55 AM
  Discouraging Converts
Ephraim Travis, 1/1/2013 7:04:33 PM
  Ft. Bragg
Ephraim Travis, 1/1/2013 7:14:32 PM

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