Friday, November 29, 2013


You can achieve awesome spiritual corrections while kindling the Chanukah lights tonight. Just have in mind that Hashem already forgave you for whatever you did wrong last year on Yom Kippur. Nowhere is G-d's love for us more clearly revealed than by his willingness to continually forgive our sins. So remember to forgive yourself too before kindling the lights tonight. 

Also have in mind that you are drawing the sanctity of the Holy Temple upon yourself and your family.

You can achieve this - there's just one catch: you must act as G-d did and forgive yourself first.

Happy Shabbos Chanuka!
Dr. Zev Ballen
 Nowhere is G-d's love for Israel more clearly revealed than by his willingness to continually forgive our sins. Remember to forgive yourself too before kindling the lights. 
The theme of Chanuka is the consecration of the Holy Temple (chanukas beis Hamikdash), and on Chanuka you are drawing the sanctity of the Holy Temple upon yourself and your family - but you can only do this if you first forgive yourself for your sins like Hashem already did!
Happy Chanuka!
Dr. Zev Ballen
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Thursday, November 28, 2013

How to Win

The Syrian-Greeks thought that they could wipe out Judaism by outlawing the study of the Torah. They reasoned that without the Torah we would be lost and they could then influence us to become Greeks. In their diabolical plan to destroy us there was just one factor that they failed to consider and that was the great love that G-d has for the Jewish people. G-d sent the chief priest, Matisyaho and his fellow priests to save us. How did they do this? By believing in themselves, their cause and the Power that guided them. 

All of us need to believe in ourselves as well as in G-d. Every word we utter, though that we have, and all of our emotions and behaviors are shaped by what we believe we can accomplish. Matisyaho succeeded only because he believed with every fiber of his being that with G-d's help he could win a war against a well-armed enemy that hugely outnumbered him. We can do the same. May it be so. 

Happy Chanuka!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Master your Emotions

Everything we do goes better when we are feeling good about ourselves. Whether you are a mother, an executive or an athlete you know that in order to do what you do you well you need to know how to shift into a positive emotional state.

Yet most of us have little or no training in how to do this quickly and effectively. Most of the time instead of using the great power of our intellects and the G-d given talents we have to be in resourceful emotional states, we leave ourselves at the "mercy" of the evil forces in life which are only too happy to prevent us form serving G-d in joy.

Chanukah was a time when the Jewish people stood up to and defeated those evil forces that wanted to block them from serving G-d and keeping His Torah. The evil forces that they battled were mainly the heretical thoughts and philosophies that had entered their minds from the Greek culture. These philosophies were designed to get people to question that G-d was the ultimate sovereign and ruler of the world. 

This battle continues till this day. Chanukah was not something that just happened back then, it has continued in every generation and is happening this very moment. Now is the time for every Jew to put on his or her battle gear and fight against negative thinking and negative emotional states that are trying to come between us and our Creator.   

Have a very happy and joyous Chanukah!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Power of Decision

When we have a passionate vision of what is most important in life there is only one way to get there -- by taking action. And what is the lighter fluid for taking action? It is twofold: first we must be willing to try harder than we have in the past and secondly we must rid ourselves of any limiting beliefs about our ability to reach our cherished goal. 

So what empowers people who have achieved great things in life? It is the power of free choice - the power of decision. Realistically speaking, if you don't make decisions about how you're going to live, then you've already made a decision, haven't you? You've making a decision to drift along and be directed by your environment rather than believing that through faith and hard work you can fulfill the true purpose of your life. My whole life changed - in just one day when I decided to leave my private practice in New York and make aliyah with my wife and children. That was the day I finally committed myself to what I wanted and who I would strive to be in my life. 

Our sages say that all beginnings are difficult. Just like in physics its known that the amount of energy that it takes to start a process is much greater than whats necessary to sustain  that same process and move it towards its completion. For example, the power to get a truck inching forward from a standing position is far greater than the power that's required to keep it moving forward at 65 miles per hour. 

The first candle that we light on Chanukah is the power that drives all eight nights. Though we add an extra candle every night of the festival, we continue to light the first one every night. Why? It's the unlimited power of the first candle that sustains the subsequent eight ones. So, our Rabbi's teach us that if someone didn't have enough candles he would be in fulfillment of his responsibility by lighting just one candle a night.   
Our sages taught that our greatest asset was our power of free choice. G-d will lead you along the ways that you choose to go. He gives you the power to shape your own future.

As Rav Arush says, it's not what happened in your past or even what's happening to you right now that determines who you become. Rather, it's what you are choosing to focus on, what you choose to believe in and what you're going to do about them. 

If you want to make a lasting change in your life you can do it right in this moment - by deciding to. As it says, "the end is in the first thought." So if you've had it with drifting along in some respect and you're ready to declare a new beginning, let this year's first candle get you moving and illuminate your way. It just may be the powerful boost that you've been looking for. The decision is yours. 

With love and respect,
Dr. Zev Ballen

Monday, November 25, 2013

Awakening Your Passion

We all dream that somehow we can access the special gifts that G-d has given us and that somehow we can make an impact on the lives of others in a special way. Everyone has deep down in his soul the wish to be a "partner" with the Creator in making our world a better place.We all have had at one time or another a passionate vision for the quality of life that we desire.  Yet, for too many of us, those dreams have become so covered over by the frustrations and routines of daily life that we no longer even make an effort to accomplish them. For far too many of us, the dream has been lost — and with it, so has the will to remember and use the unlimited Power that lies sleeping within us.  

This Wednesday night starts the festival of Chanuka which is our first huge blast of spiritual light for the new year. We see just how real this is in the word Chanuka itself which comes from the word Chinuch, to begin. 

Now is the time for us to choose to accelerate our growth in massive ways. Every night of Chanuka we add the light of an additional candle to show how strong our desire is to keep growing and progressing in every area of our lives. If we will resolve to raise our standards now and come closer to the Power that shapes our lives for the best, we can use this special time to create the lasting change in our lives that we all deserve.

With love and blessings for a happy Chanuka,
Dr. Zev

Dr. Zev Ballen   

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fearless Action

A person who has clarified the meaning of his life is ready at any moment to take fearless action, if necessary, in order to protect his most cherished values.

Blessings for a wonderful Shabbos!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Red Hat

How can learning about and being connected to holy Rabbi's help us in the midst of a severe test of one's patience? Check out this popular video clip.

With blessings,
Dr. Zev Ballen

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chanukah Blessing

Rabbi Shalom Arush says even if a person would have a house that is empty of material things, if that house has happiness in it on Chanukah then you have it all! What better Chanukah present can we give others that sharing our joy with them at this special time. 

Blessings for a Joyous Chanuka!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Big Payoff

Rebbe Nachman is quoted as saying that happiness is more difficult to achieve than anything else in Judaism. By this he meant a feeling of constant happiness, in all situations. 
Why is this genuine happiness so hard to come by? Because it has a very big payoff, or reward: G-d protects a person who is happy with a special protection. Happy people are genuinely serving G-d, and genuinely enjoying their lives. If they hit a rough time, their happiness and joie de vivre smoothes it out. Their life isn't over. Their desire to serve G-d and to do His commandments isn't over. They aren't looking for a reason to stay in bed all day, or a rationale to cut G-d out of their life. The discomfort from that period of 'bad' is minimized by their joy. They get through it faster, they come through it stronger, and once it's behind them, they are even happier than before.
That's why depression is considered the worst sin in the Torah because it inevitably leads to other sins. It is like the lighter fluid that ignites all the other bad behaviors and desires and bad characteristics in a person.
Depressed people are much more likely to eat unhealthy or forbidden foods; they are much more likely to "indulge" in unhealthy or forbidden behaviors; they'll find it much harder to pray; much harder to make their kids lunch; much harder to prepare for Shabbos, much harder to treat other people nicely, with the proper respect etc. That's why "being happy" is not just a choice or a preference - it's a torah commandment.

The Torah obligates us to be happy. It says very clearly: “You shall rejoice with all the good that the Almighty has given you.” (Devorim 26:11). So now we come to the question of questions: can a person really be commanded to feel happy? According to our Sages, it is not the nature of man to be happy. Man’s nature is to constantly want more than he presently has. He who has one hundred wants two hundred” (Kohelet Rabbah, 1:34). So how can the Torah legislate happiness?
The answer is that G-d would not obligate us to do the impossible. He wouldn't command us to be happy, then send us a whole bunch of difficult circumstances and inner turmoil to completely take us off track. Each of us can choose to be happy with our lot in life, at any point. How can we do this? By internalizing the three main principles of emuna.
Firstly, by internalizing that there is a G-d, and He is running every single detail of our lives. There is no such thing as "random", "happenstance" or "coincidence." Everything is Divine Providence, tailor-made to provide us with the optimal circumstances we need to achieve our soul-rectification.
Secondly, by internalizing that everything that's happening to us is actually only a kindness from the Al-mighty. Even when it's painful and hurts, it's coming to correct something fundamentally flawed. It's spiritual surgery - not fun, perhaps, but still necessary and life-saving.
And lastly, that G-d is trying to start a conversation with us. He wants a relationship. He's trying to give us clues all the time about what we're really doing down here, and what's really required of us. 
Let's take a practical example: a father and son are learning Torah in the same Beit Midrash (synagogue) with different study partners. The son borrows his father’s cell phone and forgets to return it. Later on, the son develops a headache and leaves without telling his father where he is going.
Without emuna, the father thinks that his son is his “enemy”. After all, his son left disrespectfully without a word and left his father without a cell phone for the whole day! With emuna the father sees that his son is not his enemy but rather a loud speaker through which G-d is saying: “Hey, buddy - if you don’t like the feeling of being disrespected by your son why do you show such disrespect to Me - your father in Heaven?…and if you would like your son to be more communicative with you, why don’t you speak more often to Me? Look at how you complain and get sad when I took your cell phone away for just one day. Do you have any idea how many days I have been waiting “by the phone” to hear from you!" Continue right here...

Do you love to read? If so, here's more!

By Rabbi Lazer Brody - A Mother's Prayer

By Rabbi Shalom Arush - Miracles Year Round

By Racheli Reckles - A Chunk of Meat

Have a blessed day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen


Sunday, November 17, 2013


Rabbi Shalom Arush said that ones yearning to get closer to Hashem and to cling to Him is a virtue above all virtues. How can Rav Arush say that merely yearning for G-d is superior to actual achievement? How does this work on a practical level?

Have a great day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Thursday, November 14, 2013

An Open Miracle

Why did the Nicholsberger Rebbe insist that a particular man pray right next to him on Yom Kippur? The miraculous answer is right here and takes about 2.5 minutes to watch.

With blessings,
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Today's Live Broadcast: Heightened Yearning

Rebbe Nossan of Breslev said that the epitome of good is having good desires. Rabbi Shalom Arush said the will and yearning to get closer to Hashem and to cling to Him is a virtue above all virtues.

Practically speaking, though, how is a person supposed to access his or her will? Why not join me live today and learn more!

G-d Willing we'll be broadcasting today's lesson live from the Chut Shel Chessed Yeshiva in Jerusalem at 5:00 PM Israel time. The broadcast, as well as my lessons posted are Mac and iPod compatible. If you tune in too early to the live broadcast link, you'll be sent to the main page of the Breslev Israel website, so try to tune in as follows: 10:00 AM in NY; 7:00 AM in LA and the West Coast, 8:00 AM Denver, 9:00 AM Mexico and Central Daylight; 3:00 PM in the UK, 5PM Johannesburg and Capetown.

G-d willing, we'll post a link to the broadcast for all those who couldn't see it live by 12:01 AM  Sunday (Israel time). If you can't see the broadcast, you might need to download a new version of Flash Media player, which you can do here. If you have any questions or comments regarding today's lesson, please write to me at: 


With blessings,
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Don't Miss This!

1:44 pm today is a very special moment when you can ask G-d for whatever you want and your chances of getting it are not likely to be as great for another 50 years! Please read this extremely important anonymous email that I received today:

Rav Chaim Vital, in the introduction to his work Eitz Hachaim, writes: The sefer Bris Menuchah was written by an early-generation tzaddik to whom Eliyahu Hanavi appeared and revealed secrets, among them the following secrets: “Once every fifty years, the ninth year of yovel arrives and in it the ninth month, and in it the ninth day, and in it the ninth hour – whereupon all the wheels in the upper worlds are agitated and ‘Your good treasure house upon us do open’ is fulfilled. “During these fateful moments, an incredible abundance of yeshuos [salvation] is poured into this world. Hakadosh Baruch Hu opens the heavens and is mashpia salvation, joyful events, communal yeshuos and individual ones, Torah, good health, parnassah, zivugim, marital harmony, children, and nachas from the children.” The key to the abundance of the coming fifty years can be found in these moments. “It is auspicious for success,” our sefarim say about this hour. “It is a time of joy and gladness,” the Ramban writes. “It is a pipeline of abundance,” writes the author of Bris Menuchah. Out of fifty years – out of all the years, months, days, and hours – there is one solitary hour that never repeats itself, about which it is written, “This is the choicest of all hours and auspicious for all abundance.” What is obtainable during this hour is unattainable at any other time. Maran Hagaon Harav Wosner, shlit”a, the posek hador, said to the people of Kupat Ha’ir who went to consult with him on the topic of “the ninth of the ninth”:“In Shamayim, they agreed to this eis ratzon.” Four years ago, it was discovered the segulah of the ninth of the ninth. That’s when it became known that “nine” was a very auspicious number in Yiddishkeit. Nine is like the key to the pipelines of abundance in Shamayim. The more “nines” that come together, the more locks to the very highest heichalos of abundance fall away. Because this is what is written in the sefer Bris Menuchah, written by the saintly Tanna’im: Regarding the source of the segulah, we learned beyond the shadow of a doubt that this is from the mekoros that throughout the generations all the tzaddikim without exception endorsed and confirmed, and so this is indeed a rare, supernatural hour. Kupat Ha’ir asked the rabbanim, each of whom spent many hours calculating. After Kupat Ha’ir received all the various opinions, we discovered something truly astonishing: There are nine minutes that are definitely, according to all calculations, part of the big eis ratzon described in our holy sefarim. This year, 5774, is the first time since the “Ninth of the Ninth” segulah became known to the public, that all the factors are coming true! This is the first time, and also the last in the next fifty years. Because this year, according to many Rishonim, is the ninth year of the yovel! Maran Hagaon Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a, writes in his peirush, Derech Emunah (siman katan 137) that the year 5756 is the 40th year of the yovel, and 5765 is yovel. The ninth year of the yovel, so auspicious to receive G-dly shefa, is this year, 5774! In the heart of that special hour, there will be nine minutes during which, according to all calculations, Hashem chooses to open all His treasure houses to anyone who comes prepared with vessels to contain the goodness. Very soon, abundant bounty will flow in all the worlds. Don’t be left behind! Daven on Tuesday, November 12, 9 Kislev from 1:44 pm - 1:53 pm Please do not forget to put Moshiach on the list, you have the Geulah , you have it all!!

With blessings,
Dr. Zev Ballen

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nothing to Hide

When Mark was 20 years old he became a Torah observant Jew and enrolled in a yeshiva. It was a good move for Mark, he loved his new life and took to learning Torah right away. He dreamed of spending the rest of his life learning Torah which after 25 years he still does. Mark's progress as a "learner" was spectacular. He worked hard and advanced from level to level so that today he learns in one of the most prestigious yeshivas in the world where he has been learning full time for the past 15 years.  Mark is now a seasoned Torah scholar who has learned the entire Talmud and learned it well - alas there's another side to this story. 
You see when Mark first embarked with excitement upon his spiritual voyage into the yeshiva world, he was a young man who smiled and had friends and socialized normally - but that's not the case today.  Mark hasn't had any friends for years and he sorely misses having people in his life that he can open up to and spend time with - but unfortunately Mark's situation is even more serious than this. 
Over the years, Mark's psychological health has spiraled down. He became not only socially and emotionally isolated but he became the victim of paranoid ideas and very fixed false beliefs that certain others were plotting against him. Fears of being persecuted and ruined by others began to dominate Mark's consciousness and at times it became impossible for him to learn or pray. 
Eventually Mark turned to psychiatric medication in the hope that the right combination of medicines would stop the terrifying intrusive thoughts and "command" hallucinations (voices in his mind) that tortured him. On several occasions, these "voices" commanded Mark to jump up from his seat in the yeshiva or in the synagogue and run for his life. He responded to these voices by running out into the street in a cold sweat as though there was a real threat to his life.  Mark didn't respond to psychiatric medication and continued to suffer with episodes of psychosis for many years. 
The obvious question is what happened to Mark? What changed in his life that could possibly explain the onset of these kinds of troubles?  What caused this radical change in Mark's personality that suddenly transformed him from a normally out-going person to someone with paranoid schizophrenia? 
I can't say for sure but here are some thoughts to consider:
Yeshivas differ from one another about how to educate abaal teshuva (someone new to Torah observant Judaism) and prepare him for his future as a religious Jew. The philosophy of the first yeshiva that Mark attended was that he should hide the fact that he had not been born from religious parents and was not raised in a religious environment. He was told that he and his future children would be more accepted in the religious community if he never spoke about his past and tried his best to act like everybody else. He was told that if he didn't conceal his true identity that he ran a high risk that his children would be barred from the best schools and yeshivas and that his children would certainly not get "the best" arranged marriages. 
Mark was a serious student who trusted in the leading Rabbi of the yeshiva who advised him to make a total break from his past which included cutting himself off from friends and family who were not religious. Mark followed his Rabbi's advice and never revealed his secret to anyone, until 6 months ago when we first met. Continue here...

Need more to read?

By Rabbi Shalom Arush - No Room for Rebuke

By Rabbi Lazer Brody - Pursuit of Prestige

By Rivka Levy - Brazen Face

Have a blessed day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Best Defense

In such challenging times where there are so many conflicting ideas about how to be happy, how does a person know who or what to believe in? This week's video lesson provides some answers. I hope you enjoy it!

With Blessings,
Dr Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen