11 Cheshvan 5781 / Thursday, October 29, 2020 | Torah Reading: Lech Lecha
 
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Ditch Your Dreams    

Ditch Your Dreams



Sometimes, in order to fulfill your wildest dreams, you have to ditch some dreams that really weren’t meant for you along the way. Clearly, G-d knew better…

 



I think it’s time to tell a bit more of my own crazy story of how I came to start keeping Torah and mitzvot. That would probably take at least ten articles, but I’ll try to give you some of the best juicy tidbits for now. 

 

Let’s start with a funny, but serious, story from my childhood.  

 

Growing up, I was different. I did everything that I knew about. It wasn’t much, but the commitment was significant, compared to everyone around me who really, hate to say it, didn’t care - didn’t know to care. I happen to also be a singer with a trained voice, which is important to know in order to understand this story. I was the only person in perhaps a decade to actually read the entire Torah portion at my Bat Mitzvah (most people read whatever they managed to learn, heck we never read the Torah anyway, who knew better?). I lained Yonah (read the Book of Jonah in Hebrew with the special tune) on Yom Kippur in HEBREW every year thereafter (gasp – people actually complained and would only let me lain part of it, they said it was too long, since there was a professional speaker who also read it in English). The first place I ever drove with my own license was to my Reform synagogue on Friday night.  

 

I know it’s ludicrous since of course all of this is against Jewish law, but when you compare such commitment to my teenage peers (in a city that is .0005% Jews or less), or to many/most in my extended family who don’t even keep basics like fasting on Yom Kippur and eat cookies on Pesach and don’t know the Shema, I was somewhat of a religious freak. And needless to say, I didn’t know better – this is what I knew, so that’s what I did. The point is – I actually DID something! 

 

When I started to become religious, I went back one last time to said Reform synagogue at the behest of my mother for Friday night services. Everyone tried to convince me to not become Orthodox (I hate that too, by the way. There are Orthodox Christians, but there are only Jews who keep Torah, as opposed to not), not understanding that this was born out of the same commitment they once lauded.  

 

The infamous comment though: “No, you cannot become Orthodox. You can’t! Since you were a kid, we were all placing bets on whether you would become a Rabbi (because of my natural leadership ability and commitment), or a Cantor (because of my singing ability). We have money at stake in this! Now, you won’t be able to be either! What will be of our bet? 

 

I laughed and said, “Don’t worry, I’m going to be a Rebbetzin!”  

 

*** 

 

Now, maybe you’re asking what a lot of people ask me: “How did you manage to stop singing? That must have been hard.” 

 

Well, it WAS hard. And it took a long time. Thankfully, Hashem sent me some wonderful outlets, like a women’s charity play one year, and a special group of women that I sang with for years at third meal on Shabbat. 

 

But essentially, changes are made because – who wants to live a lie? As I mentioned in my article Put the Knife Down, my life mission is to find the truth, and live by it. That requires some tough changes all around, but ultimately, they are worth it.  

 

I say it all the time, “The best things in life are hard – and they are worth it.” 

 

The same answer applies to the many people who have asked me how I was willing to put aside many of my dreams. The Cantor that taught me in my childhood urged me on, since I learned the trope (chanting tunes) to the Torah on my own and could sing them with great precision, saying that one day people would pay me incredible amounts of money to lain from the Torah on the High Holy Days. And I made more than one boyfriend just by leading Friday night services. 

 

But really, who wants it? In fact, it was after one such episode that I decided to stop singing in public, once and for all. If the guy only wants me for my voice, then what do I want it for? He doesn’t want me for who I am – he is only infatuated with my voice. I don’t want that, really. And what about the poor guy? Is it really fair to do that to him? Is that upright and honest? Does that sound like the truth to you? 

 

No, I decided. I only want to sing for Hashem, in service of G-d. And that means, that I have to use my voice in accordance with G-d’s rules, not mine. And after not once but twice, that I intended to sing for my own benefit, for people to ooh and aah at my voice – and Hashem made me lose my voice altogether for those performances – I realized that the only way to sing, was to sing to G-d. To inspire women because they hear my soul singing 

 

And a man, he can’t do that, G-d didn’t create him able to make such a distinction. So not only can I not give him a test he can’t pass, but such singing would be by definition against its purpose to bring people closer to Hashem. After all, I didn’t create my voice – G-d did. Certainly He didn’t give it to me to use it in a way not in accordance with His will.  

 

Clearly if He gave me this test, then I could pass it. 

 

As for the Rebbetzin thing – G-d willing, we’ll yet see. But the important thing that I have learned in the last few years, learning Rabbi Arush’s teachings: The last thing you want to do, is teach, counsel, or whatever based on your own mind, based on your own learning, or your own understanding. I shake when I think of some of the advice I gave people way back when, before I realized that I don’t know anything.  

 

Rabbi Arush says that most rabbis will not be happy when they see the Gehinnom that awaits them for all the bad advice they gave, when they didn’t have the knowledge of what they were really talking about. Rabbi Arush bemoans, “They give advice on marital peace, when they themselves don’t have it or know the first thing about it!” I experienced a lot of this concept during my previous divorce. I pray for mercy for those rabbis because they have no idea what they almost did to me, thank G-d I had tzaddikim like Harav Arush shlita and others who were telling me the opposite, and I listened to them.  

 

So, I thank Hashem now that I am just a quotable Rabbi Arush, and I try to encourage others with my personal stories, and pray that Hashem gives me the right quotes.  

 

And let’s get real. Sure, I let go of these dreams that I now realize aren’t dreams I really want. But what did I get in return? My wildest dreams! Living in Israel, happily, and fulfilled?! Meaning and purpose in life, connection to Truth – things many people tried to convince me didn’t even exist. I didn’t even DARE to dream it, but here I am living it! Clearly, G-d knew better than me what my real dreams were… 

 

*** 

Rachel Avrahami grew up in Los Angeles, CA, USA in a far off valley where she was one of only a handful of Jews in a public high school of thousands. She found Hashem in the urban jungle of university. Rachel was privileged to read one of the first copies of The Garden of Emuna in English, and the rest, as they say, is history. She made Aliyah and immediately began working at Breslev Israel.  
 

 
Rachel is now the Editor of Breslev Israel's English website. She welcomes questions, comments, articles, and personal stories to her email: rachel.avrahami@breslev.co.il. 

 





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