Friday, January 31, 2014

Feel The Difference

If it were not for the special influence that G-d put into the Torah, it would be like any other book. This short exercise can help you to really feel the difference. 

Blessings for a good Shabbos and good month of Adar!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Martyred Child

Suppose you're a parent with a disrespectful, disruptive child: a child who's acting out, and child who's going off the path of religious observance, G-d forbid. The normal, natural, initial response for a parent is to ask: "What's going on here? How on earth can this be good?" That's actually not a bad starting point, but we need to take it up a level, and start asking ourselves more questions: "Why is this happening? What's the message? How can I relate to this in a productive way?"
Here's one idea of what may be going on under the surface of your out-of-control child: Kids are the purest beings on the planet (and we were that way too, when we were kids.) All kids have the intention, deep down, to be helpful to their parents. If that kid is misbehaving, or acting out, or going away from Judaism, in a certain sense, it means they've taken control of the family. Yes, it's unhealthy control, but all children need connection, and attention and parents, and they will do whatever they can to get it. If the child's parents are struggling, and the family unit is starting to break apart; that kid doesn't want to have a divorce in the family, G-d forbid. If the only way he can keep his family intact is by creating an emergency situation, or 'shock', then that's what he's going to do.
Maybe this sounds shocking, but in the more than 30-something years that I've been a therapist, I've never seen a divorce in a family where a kid was suicidal, anorexic, or self-mutilating.
In a very profound sense, the child is sacrificing himself to keep the family together. Children aren't hurting themselves just to fight with their parents, or to be difficult. Deep down, that child's heart yearns to be a healthy member of their family unit...continue right here...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Today's Live Broadcast: Torah Reframing

Learning to find something positive in everything that happens is the Torah's way of re-framing suffering into joy. Please join me live today at 5 pm Israel time.

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, 5 PM 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

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Spiritual Parasites

The evil inclination can only exist by living off the life-blood of a person's good holy qualities and special abilities. He does this by surrounding a persons's holiness and aliveness like a vampire and sucking out it's energy and power. This leaves the person feeling very flat, lifeless and prone to wander away from Hashem. The "yetzer" comes in the form of anger, lust, sadness, jealousy, hopelessness doubts and inner conflicts - all of these suck up a person's goodness and holiness. In order to become fully human and whole again, we need to rescue the precious parts of ourselves that are being strangled to death and release them. Once we have located our special qualities we must remove the parasitic husks that surround them. Then we'll become ourselves again, integrate the fragmented parts of ourselves and grow.

With every blessing,
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen

Monday, January 27, 2014

One Size Fits All

15 years ago Alex was a popular guy, a gifted musician, an athlete and a gourmet cook.  Loved by everybody, Alex conversed in three languages and was known for being a super handy and helpful person. He could fix just about anything and was always willing to lend a helping hand. 
Alas, today Alex is unemployed, unable to study, his marriage is on the rocks and he's a stranger to his kids because he sleeps all day. Sometimes his body shakes violently, sometimes he literally can't move and sometimes he simply collapses. When Alex began to think about suicide as a "solution" he was taken to a doctor who diagnosed him with mental illness.  
In a famous study, David L. Rosenhan proved that psychiatrists, psychologists and psychiatric social workers really can't tell the difference between people who are genuinely crazy and those who were really sane but were simply pretending to be "crazy."
Alex was neither crazy or pretending to be crazy. This might sound odd but his problems resulted not from an illness but from rejecting the truth of how he was meant to live.  Please allow me to explain. 
The paradox of Alex's story, as you'll soon see, is that he really was looking for the truth - like so many people in our troubled times, Alex yearned to find G-d in his life.
When Alex met the Rabbi he was told that the only way to be close to G-d and live a life of truth was to learn the Talmud for 12 hours a day. Alex went along with this advice because the Rabbi showed him in writing that this was the "truth." Since Alex was serious about finding happiness in spirituality he followed the Rabbi's advice and made an abrupt change in his life. He began to learn 12 hours daily and in one fell swoop he cut out every other activity in his life that had been giving him pleasure. 
The problem with his new lifestyle was that instead of making Alex happier, it was making him more depressed. Alex's body began to revolt against conforming in this way. But Alex thought it must be his fault. After all, if the Torah said that learning was the main purpose of a man's life why wasn't it making him happy? He went back to the Rabbi to find out what he was doing wrong. Continue here...

More great reading:

By Rabbi Lazer Brody - Tale of Two Shidduchim

By Rabbi Shalom Arush - The Price of a Lollipop

By Natalie Kovan - The Wagon Master

Blessings for a wonderful day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen

Sunday, January 26, 2014


There is an immense spiritual treasury from which any troubled person can draw strength and hope for free. Here's how you can claim your portion! 

Wishing you a fantastic week!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Friday, January 24, 2014

If You Were G-d

Since you ( your soul) was created in the image of G-d. You are actually an aspect of G-dliness yourself. Knowing this, if you then honestly speak to your troubles "as if" you were G-d you'll usually feel better right away.

This world is compared to Friday, the day of preparation for Shabbos. The next world is compared to the delight of Shabbos itself. The more we prepare for Shabbos the more delightful and meaningful Shabbos is for us when it comes. 

May this short exercise add to your joy and love of this coming Shabbos.

With blessings always,
Dr. Zev Ballen

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Blueprint of Life

The Torah is the blueprint with which Hashem created the world and everything in it. It is also only through the Torah's precious influence that everything continues to exist. This includes the lives of all peoples everywhere. Here is one of my all time favorite clips of Rav Arush. It's dedicated to my good friend, Gabi.

Have a blessed day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Spiritual Coaching: The Four Levels

Emuna coaching is a faith-based method of emotional, physical, and spiritual healing that was developed in Israel by Rabbi Dr. Zev Ballen with the endorsement of his Rabbi and spiritual guide, Rabbi Shalom Arush. Emuna Coaching is a unique and proven path for personal growth that is based on the perfect wisdom of the Torah. You will be led on a wonderful journey of mind, body and spirit that will enable you to achieve:

*A deep recognition of your rare and special qualities
*A greater understanding of your life's destiny and purpose
*A sense of personal wholeness, vitality and aliveness
*The ability to live fully and spontaneously in the moment
*An enhanced capacity to relate to yourself, to others, and to G-d
*An awareness of Divine messages within life events and *Discovering your innate capacity to grow from them
*An appreciation of the need for challenges as avenues for hope, learning and growth
*A life filled with humility, gratitude, optimism and joy
*A deep appreciation for the special qualities of each person

Through experiencing the above, participants in Emuna Coaching are able to:

*Change limiting self-beliefs
*Experience more consistent feelings of self-worth
*Live with greater calmness and faith
*Enjoy giving and receiving love
*Overcome worries and fears
*Feel more empowered emotions
*Eliminate unwanted habits
*Reframe past traumatic events
*Improve health and alleviate physical pain
*Eliminate negative-self talk
*Discover their passion and keep it before them always
*Live a truly empowered life full of vitality

If you are interested in becoming an Emuna Coach we have a comprehensive training program that prepares students with the knowledge and skills to become effective practitioners of Emuna Coaching. There are four training modules of 25 hours each which can be taken separately or together. Upon completion of each training module, students are awarded a certificate suitable for display by Yeshiva Chut Shel Chesed.

The four levels of training are:

1) Emuna Coach Practitioner
2) Emuna Coach Master Practitioner
3) Emuna Coach Trainer and Consultant
4) Emuna Coach Master Trainer

All sessions are available via phone or skype.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment call us at:

From the U.S: 1-718-577-2975
To dial directly to Israel: +972-2-532-3339 X1
Hours you can reach us: 3pm - 11pm Israel Time

Today's Live Broadcast: Hope

From where can a person who is overwhelmed with difficulties and troubles of all kinds draw inspiration and hope?  Rebbe Nachman of Breslev gives us the simple answer which provides the basis for our method of Emuna Coaching. Please join me live today at 5 pm Israel time.

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

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Digging Deeper

This is the story about how a certain mother used emuna to deal with her daughter who was caught cheating on a test.

Have a great day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Psychotherapist's Confession

I started my career as a really serious student of psychoanalysis and its founder Dr.  Freud:  After all - I came by it naturally – my mother was a psychoanalyst. That meant that I was raised to believe that nobody is normal – rather - the world is divided into three clinical categories: psychotic, borderline-psychotic and neurotic –normal people simply don’t exist and it is beyond the scope of science or even the best parents to raise normal children.
Who cared if Freud wasn’t so optimistic – I was still determined be the highest functioning neurotic that I could be. 
Following my acceptance into a post-graduate psychoanalytic training program and armed with my sparkling new 27 volume set of The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud – I was sure that the gates of happiness were about to swing open for me. I was about to enter a great new world of clarity and understanding about myself and others – my secret claim – that all of my doubts, conflicts and neurotic preoccupations would be removed and that I would be privy to the wisdom to cure many people.  I couldn’t wait to embark upon my career as a psychoanalyst. 
Let’s jump ahead 32 years and thousands of patients to see what happened to old Zev. Did I get to fulfill my personal and professional aspirations? Did a through training in behavioral sciences lead to the realization of my cherished ideals?
Just ask any therapist who has been around for a while – the severity of mental illness in the world has sunk to an unprecedented low - There has likewise been a steady decline in the overall mental health of people seeking psychotherapy. Today, there are disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders that we didn’t even have names for years ago - The internet alone is driving multitudes of people into unspeakably bizarre forms of insanity that no one could have anticipated. We are living in a nightmarish world where a million people a year are being murdered by their own hand – that’s about one every 40 seconds – and the truth is – that without emuna – we therapists don’t have a clue of what to do about it. 
We are living in a Sodomite-world that is so flooded with increasing crime, murder, terrorism and the threat of nuclear war – while the atheist movement, spearheaded by very learned and renowned academics in psychology, and other fields continues to thrive – blaming G-d rather than themselves for the mess they have made of the world.
Isn’t it time that we stopped believing in a profession whose founder called religion the opiate of the masses while he was himself was writing under the influence of cocaine?  In his book Civilization and its Discontents, Freud came to the mindboggling conclusion that Moses, our Teacher, was an Egyptian!
Freud’s biographers tell us that just before his death in 1939; Freud had profound regrets about straying from his mother’s Chassidic roots; for his assimilation into German society, and for his anti-Jewish writings. Although he had attended cheder (a Jewish school), as a child – Freud completely forgot the Hebrew alphabet and admitted to an Israeli psychoanalyst that he could not read one of his books that was translated into Hebrew.
The turning point, for me, came when I discovered the “The Path of the Just” a Jewish Ethical work, published in 1738 by Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzato. Rabbi Luzzatto wrote:  “only teachings that are based on the Torah have the power to cure human problems.  The only reason why Torah has any power at all is because G-d bound His most precious influence to it. If G-d had not made it so, then the Torah would be no different from any other educational book. These [secular] books may contain accurate and valuable information, but they do not incorporate any significance and excellence into the soul of a person who reads, recites or comprehends them. Books such as these have absolutely no power to rectify creation.” 
The confessions of a psychotherapist

* Self-Doubt and doubt about the existence of G-d is the primary weapon of the evil inclination. Once doubt is allowed to enter a person’s mind, it can manifest itself in numerous forms of psychopathy.

Any form of psychological treatment that is not based on emuna will at best, lead to very temporary results.

Psychology can never be separated from morality. It is only through the study of Jewish Law that we can determine what is good and what is not.

Restlessness, irritability, impatience, anxiety, low-mood, obsessive thinking, impulsive behavior, aggression, competitiveness and sadness– are all reduced or eliminated when one lives in alignment with the Spiritual Truths than run the universe.

Becoming conscious of one’s unconscious will not lead to psychic liberation.

There is no such thing as a neutral and unbiased therapist. His morality is still speaking to your unconscious mind.

The curative value of a “therapeutically corrective relationship” with the therapist is a myth. To see the rest of my confession click here.

Have a great day friends!
Dr. Zev Ballen 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Video Lesson: Hollow People

People who don't face their pain are not able to grow. This might sound demanding, but now its possible to really grow emotionally and spiritually without years or decades on the couch.

Have a great week!
Dr. Zev Ballen 


Friday, January 17, 2014


When a psychotherapist gives HIS opinions about his patient,  he is imposing his intellect onto that person's experience and stopping that person from growing. 

Have a blessed Shabbos my friends!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Therapist Without G-d

As a therapist without G-d what was there to say to holocaust survivors and their children?

I braced myself as I listened to their stories: A woman whose angelic child was viciously killed before her eyes; a man who had to eat insects to stay alive; a man who watched his brother being buried alive until the shoveled earth above his brothers outstretched hands finally stopped moving; and a poor soul who stood helpless as a loved one’s face was smashed into an unrecognizable pulp with one swing of a Nazi’s shovel – may his Holy blood be avenged!

The truth is that I had nothing to say to my clients.  I sat there frozen and traumatized nodding my head as if I understood. There was nothing in my training that I could draw upon; there was nothing in my American background that I could draw upon; it seemed there was nothing in the world that I could draw upon. I was alone with twenty survivors from a nightmarish world and they felt my fear.

I sat there week after week with twenty holocaust survivors and nothing to say – I was too frightened, confused, or angered to be of any real help. Meanwhile they spoke to each other in code - I was utterly lost – and they knew it. When the group meetings ended – you had to peel me off the floor - I literally couldn’t function. My soul felt murdered.  I would go home and collapse – and at night my dreams tortured me – because I had looked into Hell with no G-d to protect me.

After writing Confessions of a Psychotherapist, I was contacted by a truly remarkable woman who lives here in Israel. Yisraela was born in a DP camp. She has virtually no extended family – there are no graves for her to visit. She grew up in a constant state of fear and humiliation. She felt “spiritually raped” by her abusive and anti-religious father who survived the camps. She said about her father, “It was easy for him to blame everything on the war it meant he never had to take responsibility for his behavior.”  Yisraela told me that her father didn’t have much patience for their childish problems. He couldn’t understand how anyone who didn’t live in a concentration camp could have a problem. “But how could I express my anger to my father with all that he went through”, said Yisraela, “after all - his father was murdered!” Yisraela who is now 63 still takes care of her father who is still abusive at 98!

Yisraela told me an amazing story. She said that when she was 6 years old she was given the biggest gift of her life. One of her mother’s friends, Etta – may her Holy soul rest in peace - secretly taught her the shema. Now Prayer wasn’t something one spoke about in Yisraela’s home – “there was no G-d. G-d was my father telling us what to do - I had to say the shema in secret - but I just kept saying it… and saying it… and saying it!”  She memorized the shema when she was six years old  and has said it faithfully every night – till today -  she says that it’s saved her many times.

One night when Yisraela was 10 years old she awakened to fighting and screams - another survivor, a friend of the family had gone berserk and was trying to kill her parents with a butcher knife. Her parents were cut up pretty badly before they were miraculously rescued by a young man in the building - a non-Jewish Polish man.

After that, Yisraela said that it became clear to her that she could look at life in one of two ways: continue here...

Happy Tu B'Shvat
Dr. Zev Ballen

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The True Doctor Of The Soul

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s I was in a post-graduate psychoanalytic psychotherapy training program. At the time, it was considered a prestigious Freudian Training Institute that prided itself on the scientific study of the human mind. My instructors were mostly PhD’s in clinical psychology that held prestigious positions as clinicians, teachers and researchers. I was there for 4 years. Later in life, after becoming religious, I became interested in helping people with various kinds of addictions, but during my training, when it came to the subject of addictions, because of the dreadfully low success rate, we were sort of encouraged to look for nice easy neurotic patients after graduation. I will come back to the subject of Alcoholism at the end of this essay to make a point and hopefully you will see why I have specifically chosen to use the suffering alcoholic as an example.
Fast forward: In 1988 my wife and I started our journey into Torah-observant Judaism and I came upon a book called “Path of the Just”, a Jewish ethical work, published in 1738 by the influential Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzato (1707-1746). The aim of the book is the perfection of human character. As I started to read, I came to something that completely knocked me out. I want to share with you the actual words that have had such a profound effect on my personal and professional life. I believe that what I read was responsible for a personal transformation that ultimately led our family to make Aliyah to Jerusalem, the Holy city of our ancestors; turned me into a student of Rav Shalom Arush and his student Rabbi Brody, may they always be Blessed, and made me a follower of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, the true Doctor of the Soul. Here is what I read:
Rabbi Luzzato writes: Only teachings that are based on the Torah have the power to cure human problems. The only reason why Torah has any power at all is because G-d bound His most precious influence to it. If G-d had not made it so, then the Torah would be no different from any other educational book. These [secular] books may contain accurate and valuable information, but they do not incorporate any significance and excellence into the soul of a person who reads, recites or comprehends them. Books such as these have absolutely no power to rectify creation.
Finally, I understood why my own personal psychoanalysis although helpful in certain ways had failed to bring me the deep spiritual joy that I was seeking. The psychoanalytic theory, on which the therapy is based, although brilliant in many respects, simply did not have the power to heal my Jewish soul and in fact was in other ways quite harmful to me. I was inspired to give away my collected works of Freud and practically my entire professional library. An esteemed colleague of my mine politely asked if I wasn’t sure that I wasn’t having a middle-life crisis! I later realized that I was - he was right - but it wasn’t the type of crisis that he was familiar with(the type that leads to psychopathology and mental deterioration) it was the type of existential crisis that, with Hashem’s loving help, forced me to examine my life and has led me to the Truth.
So by now you want to know what this has to do with the treatment of alcoholics. The connection is simple: that it was only through a Spiritual Awakening and a close ongoing relationship to Hashem, and not medical science, that millions of recovered alcoholics are alive today. Read what Dr. William D. Silkworth, M.D chief physician at a nationally prominent hospital specializing in alcoholic and drug addiction wrote: “I have specialized in the treatment of alcoholism for many years. ..We doctors have realized for a long time that some form of moral psychology was of urgent importance to alcoholics, but its application presented difficulties beyond our conception. ..with our scientific approach to everything, we are perhaps not well equipped to apply the powers of good that lie outside our knowledge…we physicians must admit we have made little impression upon the problem as a whole…they [the recovered alcoholics of Alcoholics Anonymous] believe in themselves, and still more in The Power which pulls them back from the gates of death”. Turning to Hashem (their “Higher Power”) and simply asking for His help as a child would speak to a loving father...continue here...

Blessing for an extraordinary day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sam and Esty

The new Rabbi was in a panic. He had just moved into the community. It was his first job out of yeshiva. As he whispered into the phone I could hear that he was obviously more than a little miffed that he was facing a scandal like this one in his first month on the job.
There was a young couple in his congregation -  a striking couple - thirty-something with four young kids. Like everyone in that neighborhood, they seemed to be living the "good" life. Sam had a big job in his father's business and played golf on Sundays. Esty was a devoted wife and mother. The Cohen's had "escaped" from the crammed city life they grew up in and "made it" to an upscale religious neighborhood.
When they first saw the neighborhood, they were immediately drawn to the large idyllic-looking estates. Their own spacious new house and large tract of land was surely a dream come true.  Outwardly, Sam and Esty were the "perfect" match right down to their "his" and "her" BMW's that cuddled side by side in their long driveway. Outwardly, Sam and Esty Cohen were living their dream, inwardly they were as lost as two people could be and were losing more of themselves with every passing day. 
It started when Sam met Jay. They hit it off immediately although Jay was far more sophisticated than Sam was. Jay had a reputation amongst the Rabbis in town, they knew he was a danger, but they weren't sure what to do about him. Jay soon became Sam's closest friend. Time and again, Jay proved his loyalty to Sam and always stuck by his side. Sam felt that Jay was always calm and relaxed and seemed to understand him without his having to say a word. On a number of occasions, Jay helped Sam out of tough situations that he got himself into and seemed to be the only one who could distract Sam from his pain. If you were Sam, you would have found it impossible to imagine what a backstabber Jay was and how he planned to wheedle his way into Sam's life and ultimately into his marriage. Jay was starting to show up at Sam's house on a regular basis and Esty was also charmed by Jay's cool and confident facade. The time had finally come for Jay to destroy the Cohen's marriage as he had done to many marriages before. 
It started when Jay introduced Sam and Esty to marijuana and other "soft" drugs. Eventually one day Jay brought over some crack cocaine. Sam and Esty tried smoking some and immediately experienced an intense euphoria and "supreme confidence" that took over their lives. They were instantly addicted and craved more and more cocaine which Jay was glad to provide. Their lives began to deteriorate. They lost weight, couldn't sleep, couldn't care for their kids, couldn't work or do anything! Once Jay had stripped them of all of their inhibitions he moved in for the "kill." Jay seduced Sam and his wife into submitting to the most degrading physical acts with him and with other couples who he trapped in a similar way. Esty was even pregnant at the time. 
When word hit the street...Continue right here...

Do you want more to read?

By Rabbi Lazer Brody - Planting and Posterity

By Rabbi Shalom Arush - Stark Contrasts

By Rivka Levy - Funny Money

Blessings for an extraordinary day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Please answer our poll questions below:

Dr. Zev Ballen

Sunday, January 12, 2014

How To Like Yourself

 G-d made everyone special and unique. The challenge here is that due to each person's uniqueness, its not possible to put two people together without there being conflicts between them. Nevertheless since we know that interpersonal conflict is by Divine design, we trust that it can be a great source of hope and growth. 

Have a great week!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Please answer our poll questions below:

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Real You

Ask yourself: "How would it feel to be valued and appreciated for my unique qualities and to live a life of authenticity that is true to who I really am?" Here is a fast and practical way to starting living your truth right now. 

Blessings for a restful Shabbos!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bert And The Beast

It had been 10 years since Bert spoke with his parents. He cut them out of his life following a minor disagreement that had escalated into family warfare. Throughout the years, he sometimes thought of making peace but his pride told him that he didn’t need to. After all, he was happy without them; at least that’s what he thought. When both of Bert’s parents were suddenly killed in a car accident he was forced to face his real feelings.
When a person gets angry, says Rebbe Nachman, “a flurry of accusers and enemies come down and takecharge of him. Since Bert refused to look past the surface meaning of what had happened, Hashem sent him a “surface” solution. Bert developed the worst case of psoriasis (a skin disease) that his Manhattan dermatologist had ever seen; literally every square inch of the surface of Bert’s body (except his face) became covered with a thick rash of painful, itchy scales. His skin cracked. He was covered with blood and pussy infections all over. Bert was so sensitive to-the-touch that He couldn’t wash, dress or even walk without excruciating pain. As Bert’s depression worsened, his will to live grew weaker. Suicide began to seem like his only option.  He curled up in his bed, became psychotic and prayed to die. The wish to end his tortured existence continued to progressively dominated his mind.
The Torah teaches us that all human problems, illnesses and negative personality traits (such as anger) have their root in holiness and are a part of the Divine Plan to help one to advance spiritually and achieve ones true mission in life. When I first met Bert, I discovered, as I have with other psychotic people, that he had very special abilities. Clothed within his vivid and terrifying visual and auditory hallucinations was a powerful source of intelligence and creativity. Hashem’s healing Light is always there hidden even in the darkest places. 
I asked Bert if he had ever had any unusual extra-sensory experiences. He told me two fascinating stories. On one occasion, he was swimming in the ocean when suddenly a storm struck and he was pulled out to sea. The powerful waves tossed him around like a leaf in a hurricane. He was pulled under water and thrown in all directions. He felt his body splitting in half. Out of air, he knew this was it. He was about die in the raging sea. Suddenly, Bert felt an indescribable calmness and confidence. He was no longer worried about breathing; the air in his lungs could last. He simply decided to wait and do nothing; and, when the ocean was done tossing him around, he’d swim safely to shore – and he did.
Bert worked on the shipping docks as a longshoreman. Once there was a very tall pile of tracker trailer tires stacked up near him (he estimated that each tire weighed almost 200 pounds). Bert didn’t see a small vehicle accidently back up into the stack - the tires began raining down toward him. Again, Bert felt the assistance of “a force outside of himself.” Everything around him, including the tires, shifted into slow motion giving Bert, who is neither athletic, nor graceful, the time that he needed to deftly weave his way out from under the danger.
Notwithstanding his profound ability to experience supernatural phenomena, Bert needed to break his anger and make amends to his deceased parents. We began to use various forms of meditation. Bert re-experienced the calm serene experiences that he had felt on the docks and in the sea. He was taught how to re-experience these calm and empowered states on his own. He visualized a “good” army of “killer” white blood cells chasing after the “foreign enemy” psoriasis cells; they surrounding and killed the enemy cells. Bert watched as the evil foreign cells staggered and fell dead with a thud before being thrown out of the body.  Then, he felt a special warm feeling all over his skin; it was the gentle soothing sunshine healing his wounds. He spent a lot of time absorbing this experience. In a deeper state, Bert dreamt that a miraculous healing ointment from Heaven was being gently applied to his skin by angels with pure loving faces.
Bert began to feel a little better. His symptoms abated slightly; and it was then that Divine Providence began to turn in his favor. Rebbe Nachman says that when a man gets angry… the image of G-d disappears from his face. He no longer has the face of a man…but the appearance of a beast.  Bert was startled by an old photograph of himself; there was something about his face, he said, that just revolted him: he broke down and sobbed – finally, he was in touch with his core feelings and not just those on the surface of his skin. Years of pent up feeling poured forth in a torrent. He cried out to his parents for forgiveness like a young child begging to be held and comforted one last time. He confessed to all of the evil in his heart, hurling it all out. He saw all of the mistakes he had made in his life. As he took hold of each one of his mistakes, he hurled it into the raging sea which pulverized each one into tiny bits. Continue reading right here...

Blessing to live fully today,
Dr. Zev Ballen

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Today's Live Broadcast: Conflicts of Hope

Each of us is very special and unique yet it is our very uniqueness and our differences from each other that inevitably leads us to be in conflict with others. In today's live broadcast, I'll be speaking about the conflicts that we face and how rather than trying to erase them or deny them we can use them--for they are avenues for great growth and hope.

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

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Ugliest Predators

Bashe was a 14 year old developmentally disabled girl who was referred to a religious psychotherapist by her school social worker. The social worker suspected that Bashe was being sexually abused by her father. The social worker told the therapist that Bashe had come to her in a very depressed and agitated mood which was not typical of her and spoke about her father "hurting" her. Bashe had also suddenly developed a fear of getting on the school bus to return home at the end of the day.
Due to Bashe's developmental challenges it was difficult for her to communicate verbally, but the therapist could see from her facial expression and her agitation that she was clearly distressed. She may not have been able to communicate well verbally, but Bashe's drawings spoke even louder than words could. She drew pictures of body parts that were damaged, of knives, of terror and of rage. The explicit sexual content of her drawings was not age appropriate; they weren't culturally appropriate either -  since she was raised in a  strictly insulated community under the leadership of a grand Rabbi. 
Bashie's father, Mr. Brown agreed to discuss his daughter with the therapist, but he denied that he was doinganything inappropriate with her. He was asked if he would be willing to submit to taking a polygraph test (a lie detector test). He took the test twice and failed it both times.
A few days later, Mr. Brown confessed to the therapist, a mandated reporter, that he was indeed living with his daughter as though she were his wife and felt that he had every right to do so. By this time, Mr. Brown had become so sick  that he actually believed in his own pathological claim to his daughter. He viewed his daughter as his "property" which he could do with as he pleased. Mr. Brown threatened to board a plane to Israel with his daughter if the therapist or anyone else would interfere with his relationship with Bashe.
The therapist called the police who went to pick up Mr. Brown, but he was nowhere to be found. People in the grand Rabbi's community were hiding Mr. Brown and he was still being allowed to have private contact with his daughter. According to the police, no one in the grand Rabbi's community was willing to help them stop this man from hurting his daughter. 
Eventually the police found and arrested Mr. Brown who spent a couple of nights in jail; it didn't take long for the community to raise the money for his release. The therapist was told by community leaders that Mr. Brown was no longer living with his daughter and his visits with her were being supervised. They also told the therapist that the cell phone that Mr. Brown had given to Bashe in order to stay in contact with her was confiscated but the social worker found that Bashe still had the phone.
The therapist was asked to participate in a meeting held by a concerned Rabbi who served as a Rabbinical advisor to Bashe's school and lived outside the grand Rabbi's community. The grand Rabbi sent two representatives to this meeting to assure everyone who was involved that measures had been taken to ensure Bashe's safety.
This was almost 10 years ago. The therapist hasn't heard any further information about Bashe or her father. It is known that prior to reporting this case more than 50% of the therapist's client referrals came from Bashe's community - since that time, he hasn't received one.
In an article entitled, The Criminal Cover-Up I wrote: Health and mental health workers in the Orthodox Jewish community are often stuck in a legal, ethical and religious dilemma. As "mandated reporters"...Continue reading right here...

Want more to read?

By Rabbi Lazer Brody - Saving Lives The Easy Way

By Rabbi Shalom Arush - Tell It To The Judge

By Racheli Reckless - The World Of Moshiach

By Rivka Levy - Our World Of Imperfection

Blessings for an extraordinary day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen