“A compassionately hastened redemption depends on masses of people turning to Hashem in emuna and personal prayer.” (Rabbi Lazer Brody)
We live in a time of economic scarcity – for the spiritual leaders of Yeshivas or Kollelim (yeshivas for married men) – the bottom line is money and the survival of the Yeshiva. Today’s Yeshiva market is highly competitive – so it’s natural that the men in charge are vulnerable to stress. A good number of Rosh Yeshivas (heads of Yeshivas) and other spiritual leaders have come to me for some “shrinking” over the years – they are also human - their minds are consumed with worry - where will they find the funding that they need? What will they do if they lose their jobs?
Naturally, a Rosh Yeshiva or one with an honorable position in a mossad (Torah Institution) would be upset about losing his position. The emotional consequences of losing one’s job can be crushing – especially since he believes in what he is doing, has good intentions and has been working very hard. Most of the time when the crunch hits – these men turn to doing more of what they have already been doing: more dinners – more parlor meetings, and more networking to raise the needed funds. Their focus of attention narrows on doing more of what they need to do to save their own projects and programs. If after all this they have some spare time - they learn more Talmud.
I was trying to understand why it is different at the Chut Shel Chesed – the Yeshiva of Rabbi Arush. Together, Rav Arush and Rav Brody are presiding over the fastest growing Jewish outreach program in the world – but they aren’t worried about money, success, failure or anything. You would be hard-pressed to find two people as happy and worry-free as they are – because they just serve Hashem and know that there are no guarantees about the outcome of their efforts.
It won’t be good business for psychotherapists if more people become like my beloved Rabbis!
I started to wonder how my Rabbis’ model of Jewish leadership differs from most other Jewish leaders of today. The answer in two words - emuna and hisbodedut (personal prayer) – When a person spends many hours in personal prayer with Hashem – he becomes intimate with Hashem; and he begins to appreciate how great Hashem’s love for every person is. Eventually his hisbodedut leads him to the awareness that he can have total and complete faith in whatever Hashem causes to happen in his life – because he knows that whatever Hashem does is for his very best – he no longer worries about losing anything – no matter what he may lose he knows that he will always have Hashem.
Rav Arush and Rav Brody have developed a deeply personal relationship with Hashem. Emuna in Hashem is the only way to be free of anxieties and have the proper type of mental composure. Minds that don’t do hisbodedut remain narrow constricted and frightened – even a well-meaning Rosh Yeshiva will remain enslaved to his own ambitions because he has not learned to connect with Hashem’s will. He will not be able to break out of his preoccupations and worries about the survival of his Yeshiva simply by learning more Talmud. If he loses his position, it may hurt his pride to think of going to work for another Yeshiva in a lower position.
Then again, with complete emuna like Rav Arush and Rav Brody have, it’s not their Yeshivas and other institutions that hold them up – it’s Hashem. With or without the institutions that back them, they would be exactly the same servants of Hashem. Hashem gives to the true Jewish leaders, who can divorce themselves from self-interest - a panoramic, global perspective – Hashem works miracles through such a person – and since their emuna in Hashem elevates them above nature, they can literally have the whole world on their minds. Not only that – their emuna gives them the strength and confidence to follow in the ways of Abraham, our father and to fearlessly do Jewish outreach in the ways that the Torah prescribes.
Let’s see what the Torah says about spreading emuna. G-d said to Abraham “…I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.” Here we see that G-d’s intention for Abraham was not limited to converting people to Judaism. G-d saw that Abraham possessed the unique spiritual DNA to do far more than that. Hashem appointed Abraham to be the father of the world – not just Israel. G-d’s covenant with Abraham was to develop a nation – Israel – who would spread faith in monotheism - so that a “multitude” of nations will know Him and live by His fundamental principles.
The prophet Yeshayahu writes, “I will set you for a covenant to the people, for a light to the nations.” This was G-d’s sole intention for the Jewish people and the reason that we were created - to spread emuna in Hashem to the nations of the world.
So why does it seem strange to some religious leaders that Rav Arush is sending Rabbi Brody all over the world to spread emuna even to the Reform and Conservative movements as well as to non- Jews – it’s because this is our mission! The Chofetz Chaim understood this when he gave permission for Reb Shraga Feival Mendelovitch to literally go anywhere to speak to people about Hashem if they were willing to listen – “even to the communists!” (who completely rejected Hashem).
Since G-d told us through Abraham and our prophets that he created us to spread His light to the world – Emuna is our covenant with Hashem. It would show a total lack of emuna for us to stay home and bask in the spiritual light of Jerusalem – as enjoyable as that is. This is why Hashem makes my spiritual guides successful: their books and CD’s go out to the world – the books have been translated into eight languages including Farsi, (an Iranian language). Breslev Israel has websites in seven languages! – This is the legacy of Abraham, our father.
When the Jewish people follow in the footsteps of Abraham they are immediately recognized and appreciated by the nations. The most recent example of this in was the beloved Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (1902-1994), the leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement – he also spread the knowledge of Hashem to the nations. The Talmud states: "Righteous people of all nations have a share in the world to come" (Sanhedrin 105a) and a non-Jew who occupies himself with the study of the Noahide Laws is said to be like Israel's own Kohen Gadol (high priest). (Talmud, Bava Kamma 38a)
May we soon see “masses of people turning to Hashem in emuna and personal prayer,” and all of Hashem’s nations returning to the Noahide Laws – which have been the spiritual/ethical bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization – on that day when we all proclaim Hashem our G-d - there will be Blessing for all of humanity the likes of which history has never known.
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Zev Ballen, LCSW has been a practicing psychotherapist for 32 years. He is licensed in Israel and the State of New York. Zev has the endorsements of prominent Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Shlita, Reb Yitzchok Fagelstock, Shlita, The Kasaner Rebbe of Forshay, Shlita, Rav Shalom Arush, Shlita, and Rabbi Lazer Brody, Shlita. He resides with his family in Jerusalem where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time practice. You can write to Zev Ballen at: email@example.com or call him at: 845-362-8600 (US line) or 054-840-9499 (Israeli line).