10 Cheshvan 5782 / Saturday, October 16, 2021 | Torah Reading: Lech Lecha
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Light on the Prairie    

Light on the Prairie

A rare family on the plains of South Dakota that has discovered the beauty of Torah and the truth of Hashem. Meet the Daniels...


Hashem is everywhere, even in South Dakota. 
Tonight, in the middle of a vast field, cloaked in winter’s white cape, there’s a modest home emitting enough warmth to melt ten-feet of snow.  Meet the Daniels family - an oasis of Torah goodness in the lush, prairie-filled Dakotas of the American Mid-west.  For the Daniels, Torah and Hashem are everything despite myriad obstacles that would have many folks throwing up their hands in surrender.  Frankly, they live in the furthest reaches of a very beautiful nowhere.  The nearest store that sells kosher meat is seven hours away.  They once held very different religious beliefs and have been rejected by friends and family for their love of Torah. Then of course there’s the snow, more snow, and some snow drifts to go with the snow.  And they have almost zero community. But, all the obstacles didn’t prevent them from seeing the light on the prairie – the shining truth that Hashem is One and that His Torah is the real deal. 
Lest you think prairie life dull, dad sometimes commutes via helicopter to the hospital where he works as a doctor in the ICU, leaving behind mom and the three home-schooled kids to care for their farm full of animals.  Hashem has opened His hand for the Daniels family and has been right by their side on their long trek towards Torah.  We here at Breslov World can’t help but think their super-charged emuna has had something to do with it.  (We are changing their names to protect their privacy.)
Breslev Israel: How did your interest in Torah begin?
Mr. Daniels: Well, basically, it started...over 12 years ago.  I was reading a book and the book was talking about all the things that have happened on the 9th of Av and the 17th of Tammuz, and my wife was sitting there while I was reading, and it was just like a bell went off inside me.  All these events had happened, and I realized that we were missing something, that in Christianity we hadn’t been taught anything about the Hebrew calendar...And so I told my wife, “We’re missing something here.  God is still keeping this calendar, and it’s not the one we know.  So, we’ve got to start learning about this.”
Our family has always been close.  We’ve always done everything together, and studied the Bible together and things, with the kids and everything, always, and so we began starting to research, and we were looking into the Sabbath and we were looking into the feasts.  We went to a Bible study not long after that... and so, I shared what we had learned and the Pastor that was there, he jumped all over me, and said, “Why in the world would you want to wrap yourself in this bondage and tie yourself down with that when we have this freedom in our religion?”  And I knew right then… I thought, “Why are you so worried about this?”  The bubble of lies just burst!
My whole life, my dad always told us that no matter what, you stand by Israel, you stand by them.  You always end up for them.  And no matter what, it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re with Israel, you’re okay.  But you don’t ever get caught on the other side, you know?  And this was ground in us the whole time we were growing up.  And so, I just know it’s what we’ve had to do, and, as we’ve walked this out over the years, like I said, we’ve been through different situations that might have broken up other families or crushed them, but our family, Baruch Hashem, has drawn closer together and tighter and stronger through the things we’ve been through.  And we even lived in the woods for several months during that time.  We chose to do that, and that was another time of growing that much stronger.
Breslev Israel: In the woods?! On purpose?
Mr. Daniels: I had a friend from Oklahoma who bought a bunch of land in Utah, and he wanted some help with building a cabin on that property.  And they invited us to come and live on the land, and even offered to give us part of the land if we wanted it.  And so, we just took off and said, “You know what?  I think we’re supposed to go do this.”
And so, we went and lived that way, lived off the land for five months out in the woods.  It was an incredible experience.  I mean, one of the first nights we were there and we just pitched a tent and we had our dog with us, you know, which is just a working dog, because we’ve always had horses and always trained horses.  But, yeah, in the middle of the night, where we set up our tent the first few nights, we had a wild hog almost run right through our tent several times.  We couldn’t even see it, it was so dark in the woods, but you could hear it, and the dog would chase it, run it off.  But it was quite an experience.
Breslev Israel: So was moving towards Torah, towards a new religion, a long process?  Has it taken twelve years?  That’s a long time.
Mr. Daniels: Yeah.  Honestly, a lot of it was that I take this incredibly seriously. I mean, I have my kids and my wife and if I take a wrong step or a wrong turn, then it’s not just me that I’m messing up; I’m messing up the treasures that Hashem gave me.... The big issue, right off the bat we saw that the holidays and everything that Christianity had were pagan-based and all the pagan symbolism and all those things that were in there, but we kept trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole, and to try to justify a way to make their man to be the Messiah. 
But eventually, there just wasn’t any way that he qualified.  He didn’t meet the requirements, he didn’t fulfill them, and it literally goes directly against Torah. And so, you know, even then, it’s kind of like you’re almost afraid that you don’t want to shock your kids or something to that effect.  We went around and around, but finally realized, “You know what?  We just got to talk about it.  It just is the way it is, and it’s wrong, and we have to straighten this out.”
Breslev Israel: Yeah, you have to be gentle with the kids. 
Mr. Daniels: Yes, for sure.  And my wife’s father is a minister, and two of my brothers have multiple degrees from seminary.  So, it’s caused a lot of animosity and we basically have been pushed aside and ostracized from everything because of it.  We’ve lost a lot of friends and most of our families.
Breslev Israel: That’s the price that truth-seekers often pay. 
Mr. Daniels: You can’t turn back, there’s no turning back.  We can’t ignore the light of truth. Our hearts and our minds and everything about us, our whole beings, are tied into this journey, and, of course, you probably are aware of this, but our plans are to move to New York this summer.  
Breslev Israel: It will be great to finally have some community.  What good has come from being out there alone in terms of your faith?
Mr. Daniels: Well Rabbi Brody has said, “I can tell that you’ve been living out in the middle of nowhere because you haven’t had all the static of modern society around you.  Your radar’s pretty good.  You pick up on things because you haven’t had all this junk going on around you to distract you.”
And I think there’s a lot of truth to that, you know?  You go outside and you walk and there’s no sounds, nothing but coyotes howling or something like that, or you might hear a horse or something, but you look up and you see the billions of stars up there, just clear, and you look to the north from our place and we regularly see the northern lights just dancing all over the place.  And it’s not hard to connect to Hashem in that setting.

Above photo: One of the Daniels boys in personal prayer at sundown – the entire Daniels family speaks to Hashem in personal prayer every day
Photo below: Dakota Sunset as seen from the Daniels wheat field

Alice Jonsson: I became religious living in the middle of 110 acres of Carolina farm land.  The connection Hashem forged with me in that uncluttered space stays with me to this day, so I am inclined to agree very much with Rabbi Brody’s and Mr. Daniels’ views on this subject.  One develops a solid foundation when it’s just you and Hashem without the distractions of community.  On the other hand our Sages say we should not isolate ourselves - that the spiritual work we all must accomplish requires the challenges that come with day to day contact with our spouse, our family, and our community.  Perhaps that’s why Hashem had a gift in store for the Daniels family...
The Daniels family story continues here. 

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  Thank you Alice Jonsson
Lynn in Edmonton8/22/2009 8:58:45 PM

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