4 Cheshvan 5781 / Thursday, October 22, 2020 | Torah Reading: Noach
 
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HomeIsrael and SocietyNoahide WorldA Hike with the Rabbi
 
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A Hike with the Rabbi    

A Hike with the Rabbi



Judaism is a religion of action, for both Jews and Noahides…The Yetzer Hara wants us to let our negative emotions take control - it wants us passive...

 



In doing research for this column I have, for the sake of my readers and a little for myself, ventured into the wilds of the internet in search of Bnei Noach material.  Don’t thank me.  Instead, send me a bottle of Tylenol. 
 
Every time I do this internet research I get a frying-pan-to-the-head feeling followed by a sensation that my soul is being sucked from my body.  So what is Hashem trying to tell me?  Go back to the books!  Therefore, I will with glee and with all my heart recommend my first book to you all.  And by ‘all’ I mean to ‘ALL y’all’ which is Southern for Jews and Gentiles alike.  And it’s a gem.    
                     

It is called The Trail to Tranquility and is written by Rabbi Lazer Brody.  Like Rabbi Brody himself, the book is intense, accessible, insightful, and delightful.  Your copy will be heavily dog eared, the spine will crack from re-reading, and people will borrow it and never return it.  Trail to Tranquility is a Torah-based approach to dealing with negative emotions.  In it Rabbi Brody lays out what I call spiritual laws of the universe.  When you start operating within the framework of these laws, anxiety, anger, depression, frustration, and arrogance -- keep going with that list -- stop ruling your life.  I know that’s a bold claim, but I have lived it.  So have thousands of others.
 
“By overcoming arrogance, a person attains wisdom, happiness, longevity, faith, and understanding of Divine secrets.”  - Rebbe Nachman of Breslev.
 
Reading this book is like taking a hike with Rabbi Brody through the White Mountains of New Hampshire on a cool fall day.  At the base of the trail you begin by taking a sort of baseline measurement of your emotional and spiritual state.  He spells out, in clear language, concepts right from the Torah that explain what anger really is and the role it plays in our lives.  Then your journey begins. 
 
As you walk together Rabbi spells out these spiritual laws using nature surrounding you -- lessons you can glean from the work ethic of a little black ant, the spiritual make up of an apple tree, or the power of white tailed buck dashing through a clearing.  He helps you see the negativity around you --and within you-- in the correct light.  Why can’t you and your spouse stop yelling at each other?  Why did Hashem give you that passive-aggressive boss?  How can you deal with people cutting you off in traffic that won’t get you arrested or involve cursing in front of the kids?  Going even further, how can we begin to look at the biggies: loss of life, violence in our lives, and serious illness?
 
Right when you need to catch your breath and come at all this introspection from another angle you relax on a moss covered rock to hear a story to illustrate a spiritual law right from the Torah, in the Chassidic tradition.      
 
During the course of the journey he shares with you a fusion of wisdom hard earned over years in the IDF and even more years immersed in Torah study and personal counseling.  Sprinkled throughout are highly pragmatic checklists that seem to come right out both spheres; they are concise and simple – designed for immediate use, yet the contents are deep and timeless, like the Torah from which they spring.  I hope the next edition of this book has these lists on perforated sheets you can tear out and laminate. 
 
This is not a self-help book in the conventional sense.  It goes way beyond that.  A few miles into the hike, as it were, it feels like the Baal Shem Tov and Rebbe Nachman have joined in, helping you get closer and closer to Hashem.  And really, you are.  What makes this book so powerful is that it isn’t just about the wisdom and experience Rabbi Brody brings to it from his own fascinating experiences.  He and his Rebbes walk the reader to the peak of the mountain, to connect with Hashem. 
 
The Trail to Tranquility is about taking action.  Why?   It's because Judaism is a religion of action, for both Jews and Noahides alike.  The Yetzer Hara, the evil inclination, wants us to let our emotions take control - the more negative the better.  It wants us passive.  The Torah teaches us that it’s not enough to pay for the gym membership, we must exercise.  It’s insufficient to feel guilty about insulting someone, we must apologize.  And truthfully, it’s not enough to apologize for insulting someone:  We must get right down to the source of the anger and treat the cancer. To take this even further, it’s not enough to feel like a victim, even when we are nursing wounds that would be painful to the strongest, most spiritual person. 
 
The Trail to Tranquility will help you to come to negative situations with the ability to put it in context, turn it around, and remain connected to Hashem.  And if you don’t feel connected to Hashem at all, Rabbi Brody supplies you with a tried and true Breslev approach to personal prayer to get you an audience with the King.
         
This is about Hashem helping you even more than it is about self-help.  You want help?  Turn to your Creator through more effective prayer techniques and learn how the system is set up.  Tap into the Source, get Him working with you, and get ready to feel what it’s like to be in the flow instead of fighting against it. That’s tranquility.




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