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HomeFoundations of JudaismRabbinic LeadersMeet Rabbi Yonatan Balaish
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Meet Rabbi Yonatan Balaish    

Meet Rabbi Yonatan Balaish

Meet Rabbi Yonatan Balaish. He has been teaching emuna for years in English in his travels around the world. Now, in addition to his Hebrew videos he teaches online in English too!


My name is Rabbi Yonatan Balaish. I am married and the father of eight children k”h. I began becoming religious 22 years ago through Chabad classes. At the same time, I had several experiences that happened to me and changed the course of my life. 


For many years before I became religious, I asked everyone I met: ““What's the purpose of my life?” and “Where do you get true happiness?”  


I tried to find happiness through materialism, which aroused in me a desire to try and make money. I discovered that it did not satisfy me and saw the destructiveness of materialism and everything that came with it. I also realized that there was no such thing as endless pleasure. I was surrounded by friends, yet I felt alone. I would return home after being with them and have a sense of emptiness and a lot of unanswered questions. Eventually, I realized that I had exhausted myself in this pursuit, and I decided that I needed a new direction. 


I began to seek spirituality. I felt “hungry,” but I didn't understand that my soul was hungry. I was looking for ways to get what I was looking for even though I didn't know exactly what I was looking for! I enrolled in Alternative Medicine courses and studied Advanced Reflexology that led to areas of new types of healing. I became a therapist, which gave me some satisfaction, but it still wasn't what I was after.  


Then, I went to Europe for a while to work and think more about what I was looking for. There I was told that maybe if I go to the Far East – to India – maybe there I would find what I was looking for. 


I traveled east and wandered from place to place for a few months. I saw that all their idolatry was nonsense and felt no attraction to it. On the day before Passover when I was alone in a remote place, feeling sad and down, the Creator of the Universe sent me a precious Jew. He spoke with me for the entire night, and for the first time I experienced Judaism and its inner strength. From there, the road was paved smooth for me to return to Hashem.  


came back to Israel and after another period of confusion, I slowly began to pray and observe Shabbat, but I felt that it still was not what I was looking for. I needed more strength.  


By good fortune and Divine Providence, a close friend told me about two of his friends who are Breslev. My friend asked if I would like to attend a class that dayI came and heard words that went straight into my heart and awakened hidden areas there. My friend strengthened me in Rabbi Nachman's teachings and kept telling me, “I want you to meet my Rabbi,” but I refused the idea. One day, another friend told me that he was at a class and there he saw "Moshe Rabbeinu" and that it was worthwhile for me to come to the class. When I got there, I saw a rabbi with a huge light and a shining countenance. This was Rav Shalom Arush, shlit'a! He gave me a soft smack and a strong hug and kept me next to him. 


I decided that I wanted to go ahead and go to yeshiva – obviously, Rabbi Arush's Yeshiva. I studied in Hod Hasharon and also in Jerusalem. I realized quickly that I wanted to share with others what I feel. I got married pretty quickly and learned full time 


I studied to be a shochet (ritual slaughterer) for a year and a half. In the evenings after I finished personal prayer in the field next to the Yeshiva, I would go to traffic intersections in the city center and distribute Rabbi Arush’s recorded classes (back then, on tapes)Someone who has never distributed emuna materials like this cannot understand the light that there is (along with the disdain that I received many times). I strengthened a lot of people and most importantly, I spread Torah. I attended classes in Jerusalem and in the surrounding communities. It was important for me to hear Rabbi Arush's classes that can give life to a person, change him, and take him to new heights in life. 


Most of my life I have worked with children. I was a Rebbe in preschool and for years I used to do plays and activities for children all over the country and in all sectors of society. For a while, I studied at the yeshiva, then picked up children who lived in the area, and did “Psalms and Stories of the Tzaddikim” with them. I also taught in Rabbi Arush’s boys' school for 12 years. 



My biggest distribution effort started when my cousin from Los Angeles invited me to visit him for a week during Hanukkah. I traveled there with the blessing of Rabbi Arush. I took tapes and Likutei Moharan books and traveled all week without feeling exhausted. By the end of the trip, I met a new friend who became the cornerstone of many trips abroad. 


Initially, I travelled to Los Angeles where I would gather young unmarried guys and married men, give lessons, sell books and CDs, take them to do hitbodedut in all sorts of interesting places, and also bring them to Uman for Rosh Hashanah. Baruch Hashem, many of them became religious, established families, and immigrated to the Land of Israel. 


I traveled to New York, Hawaii, Toronto, Montreal, France, Belgium, and Switzerland. And all this in addition to teaching the children in the school!


For a long time, Rabbi  Arush would broadcast his lessons live to Los Angeles from my home through a friend's server, and then speak to people there via Skype. On my first trip with Rabbi Arush and the Rabbanit to Los Angeles, we made conferences and distributed a lot of books and CDs. That was the start of their many trips to Los Angeles. 


also participated in the film "Ushpizin" together with a good friend Shuli Rand and Avraham Abutbul, as well as the television series "Shtisel.This gave me the opportunity to help bring a well-known actor who was close to me in my childhood close to Judaism. This is also a form of “distributing emuna.” 


Eventually, Rabbi Arush told me to stay in Israel and teach emuna overseas by phone. For six years I worked in the Outreach Department of Breslev Israel and did world-wide emuna distribution. I gave many lessons in Israel and also gave video lessons on a children's website called "The Garden of Emuna for Children" and "A Shabbat Story.” Many people strengthened their connection to Judaism and emuna as a result of these efforts. 


I took a Sabbatical year off of work. During this time, I gave classes around the country. I received a gift from Hashem, may He be blessed, and married off my eldest daughter to a son of Rabbi Shalom Arush, shlita. I know this is a great privilege. 


I recently returned to Breslev Israel, this time, to spread Rabbi Arush’s teachings of emuna in English. I saw many English films without translation in my youth and had ample opportunity to practice English in my many travels abroad. Now I teach video lessons in English and look forward to helping a new group of people experience the light of emuna! 

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