BRESLEV - Bnei Noah (English)


A Neighbor's Rant   It is so easy to get wrapped up in this world’s events; easy to assign blame to the person, thing, event that is right in front of us. But, that'

She was yelling. I couldn’t quite hear what she was saying from where I stood but her actions and tone told me she wasn’t pleased. Her audience, another neighbor, was responding quietly and apparently trying to laugh off the situation he’d inadvertently stepped into. He’d just stopped to say hello to her and find out why she was on his other neighbor’s (our) property, but what he was getting was an earful about how she wasn’t pleased with the manner in which we upkeep our property.
We three neighbors live at the edge of the wilderness – the last line of homes before hundreds of acres of open land and mountains. Our properties are a mix of rolling hills, open fields and stands of pine and juniper trees.
She has a beautiful property that is impeccably manicured with lush lawns, blooming gardens, and lovely seating areas all protected from the wildlife by motion sensor sprinklers and a big ol’ German Shepard.
Our property, as well as that of the neighbor that was speaking with her, is also beautiful and well up kept. But instead of manicured lawns we have pastures and open fields that are home to both livestock and deer. Our fields are mowed and random natural debris (branches, rocks, etc..) are regularly picked up. The natural look of our property is peaceful and welcoming to us so we do not spend a lot of time planting flowers or other plants not native to the area.
You could say this neighbor lady keep a resort / golf course feel to their property while we keep a managed natural wilderness feel to ours.
On this day I was out with the quad and trailer preparing to load branches from a tree that had fallen and we’d removed this winter. The weather had been too wet to attempt this branch clean-up project earlier in the year and this day was a lovely day to get started on it. That’s when I saw her fly down the road on her quad pulling a trailer – she whipped around outside our fence to the base of one of our oldest pine trees on and started rather violently throwing small branches and pine needles that had fallen off this old tree over the winter into her trailer. I was watching her, quite confused, when the other neighbor happened by and she started yelling. She was very bothered by the fact that we had not yet tackled that project, that the branches I was working on had not yet been cleaned up, that our lawns were not yet mowed.
This behavior is out of the ordinary for her but not completely unheard of – so this day I just racked up her behavior to an oddity, laughed it off and went on about my day.
The next day I was out mowing the field and thinking about the events of the previous day. At first I was annoyed – how dare she come onto my property, do something I didn’t ask her to do, and then complain to another neighbor about us?! Next I was laughing about it – how silly it was for her to do that? She’d picked up less than a wheelbarrow load of debris but spent an exorbitant amount of energy and negative emotion in doing so. Didn’t she have something better to do?! Finally I remembered my emuna (sometimes it takes me awhile) and that everything comes from Hashem. Ooops.
This put a whole new perspective on the situation. What was Hashem trying to show me? Everything my neighbor was upset about were projects that are definitely on our regular to do list, we do them every year, multiple times – we just hadn’t gotten to them yet in the nice weather days we’ve had so far this year. It’s not that we haven’t been busy, we have, but we’ve been busy on projects that are more important to us and had just not gotten to those “smaller” things yet. Apparently those things are not so small to our neighbor.
I wondered if perhaps I’ve been busy working on spiritual projects that I think are important and ignoring some of the “small” spiritual things in life that Hashem says are important. Things that are on my to do list of areas to work on but that always seem to get bumped for something more fun or that I think will be more rewarding or that seem more urgent. When I thought of this possibility several examples came immediately to mind.  Seems as though I need to focus some energy into areas I’ve been ignoring.
It is so easy to get wrapped up in this world’s events; easy to assign blame to the person, thing, event that is right in front of us. Easy to keep ourselves from growing and learning simply by refusing to acknowledge that everything, yes everything, is from Hashem. It takes effort and a willingness to engage our emuna beyond the words and implement the full meaning of emuna into our lives. The beautiful gift is that Hashem is very patient and once we sincerely ask what it is He is trying to tell us (even if it takes us a while to get there, like it often does me) He is more than willing to pull us in and share the message.
My thanks to my neighbor lady who got so upset at our unfinished small projects and became the messenger that I have much work to do around our property and in my spiritual journey.
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Jennifer invites you to participate in a regularly held Noahide on-line study group that reviews the garden series books of Rabbi Arush. You can contact her for dates and times.

PLEASE, DON'T SHARE MY STORY;pageID=7890187770458732097

Please Don't Share My Story   Mom's words penetrated straight to the heart: “If you are willing to share your smiles with people, why are you not willing to share your tears?”

On my first day of elementary school, I was 5 years old and so happy to surrounded by new friends. Heading back in from our first recess break, a couple older boys (to me they seem like near adults, although they must have only been 4th or 5th graders) ran up and started saying something like “worm hair, you’ve got worms for hair.” I didn’t understand what they meant but I slowly put my hand up to my head and found that a big, fat earthworm had been placed in my hair. They probably expected me to freak out at having touched a worm. What they didn’t know is I was raised in the country and was accustomed to creepy crawlies. I didn’t scream or cry – I simply removed the worm from my hair and went on about my day. Although I was devastated that someone would do that to me (or anyone else) it was more worrisome to me that other people might find out I had been the center of a prank.
Keep calm. Keep emotions in check. Make sure everyone thinks everything is ok with me… even if things are not ok. Whatever happens, don’t let them see you cry. Where I got these concepts is beyond me.
From as far back as I can remember, I’ve been what I call a private person. An introvert by nature it often doesn’t occur to me to share details of my life with others – and if those details have any bit of pain or potential embarrassment associated with them you can bet I’ve got them locked down and under guard least they accidentally slip out into public knowledge.
One day about 8 years ago my mom and I were out for a walk and I mentioned my rule about never crying (or really showing any emotion other than contentment) in front of people. As is usual, whenever I’m in need of some grounding advice I can count on her to have a succinct comment that drills right to the core of the issue. She said “If you are willing to share your smiles with people, why are you not willing to share your tears?”  Well if that wasn’t something to ponder.
If I remember correctly, my first email to Rabbi Lazer Brody back in 2008 or so started with something similar to “Please don’t share my story on your blog… it’s too painful for me but I need help.”
Thinking back on that email all these years later I can still feel some of the feelings I was having at that time. I was desperate, lost, hurting, and (now I realize) oh so full of ego.
Here I was reaching out over the internet (which seemed really weird to me anyway) to a Rabbi in Israel for help because the stories on his website had given me a glimpse of truth. I wanted help and I wanted to find out more about that truth but I didn’t want MY story shared because it was too painful for ME.
At that time it didn’t cross my mind that the very stories that had given me hope, had inspired me to keep coming back to the blog, that had ultimately convinced me to reach out – were also painful to other people yet they obviously didn’t put the same caveat on requesting help as I had.
“Help me, but don’t publish my story (even thought it might help someone else) because I don’t want people to know I need help.” Is really what my ego as saying.
Thankfully Rabbi Brody did help me and without publishing my story. It was one of the first times I’d been completely open and honest with someone else (and myself) about needing help and advice. Hashem had led me to a kind and true resource where my outreach was returned with the roadmap to the path Hashem was wanting me to take. I laugh when I think of the response I would have had if I’d been told that 7 years later I would be willingly and excitedly sharing my life lessons with the world.
As Hashem has so gently lead me down this path, the areas of growth in my life have been many. One of them is the willingness to open up and share the truth of who I am, where I’ve come from and the emuna that keeps me moving forward – on this very public space.
It is my prayer that my stories will help spread emuna in the world and encourage others to seek Hashem and their true path in life.
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Jennifer invites you to participate in a regularly held Noahide on-line study group that reviews the garden series books of Rabbi Arush. You can contact her for dates and times.


Progress not Perfection    There's a big difference between doing our best and being happy with the results and between striving for perfection and being disappointed when we never attain it...

In my line of work we use the term MVP (minimum viable product) regularly. Loosely defined we look at every project we are working on and determine at what minimum level the project will be complete enough for release. Although one may think this means we are willing to release inferior products the truth is actually far from that. We always strive to release exceptional products but we’ve learned that there is a major difference between exceptional and perfect.
Exceptional means we’ve done our best work,  that we’ve strived to reach the MVP of the project in a manner we are proud of, and that we recognize and embrace the fact that the project can always be improved upon.
However, striving for perfection means we’ll never finish a project and if, by some chance, we ever do release the product we consider “less than perfect” we’ll be dissatisfied with it because our focus will be on its flaws and not on all the things that are right with it.
When our projects are done with excellence and we release our MVP we open ourselves up and make room for the progress that can be made in the next release.
I watch the clip of Rav Ovadia Yosef osb”m regarding Jews entering Temple Mount and smiled at the learning opportunity. You see, back in 2001 I was blessed to be able to visit Israel and spend a couple weeks in Jerusalem. At that point I had barely been introduced to the concept of Bnei Noach and was still feeling my way around having left the xtian church a few years prior.
One of the big events I participated in was a coordinated march to the entrance to Temple Mount in symbolic demand that the entrance be opened and the Jews be allowed to enter.  There were what seemed like a couple hundred or so people who made the march, waved flags and sang songs. I participated in the whole event and left feeling happy about being a part of this effort. However, after listening to the Rav’s statement, I realize I did not (and still do not) have a clue of all of the depth and details of entering the Temple Mount.
At that point in time I was doing my very best (my MVP) with the level of understanding I had. But I also knew that I certainly didn’t know everything and, in fact, I knew very little. That knowledge allowed me the room to grow, to question, to learn and reevaluate what I “knew” while at the same time giving my best effort to be exactly in the place I was.
Skip forward just over 13 years and I’m still doing my best with the level of understanding that I have. I still know that I’m just scratching the surface of all there is to know but I’m thankful for the learning opportunities that Hashem has given me.  I also do not feel foolish for the way I felt 13 years ago or even yesterday for that matter. With Hashem’s help, by focusing on the progress and not my lack of perfection, I am able to continue to move forward with my daily efforts.
I’m a work in progress, we all are. If we embrace this fact we can look at our learning opportunities with joy and anticipation for the new level of understanding we will achieve. If we are honest with ourselves, the world and Hashem, each day we can release our own personal MVP and thereby make room for new growth and lessons so that tomorrow our MVP will be just a little bit better.
Sometimes the lessons may be hard, and we may feel like we’ve lost days (or years) of progress. But if we are open and willing to learn, those lessons are often the ones that Hashem uses to prepare us to propel into a new level of understanding that we’d previously never even considered. Sometimes the lessons may be easy, and we feel like we are gaining new insights and understandings at lightning speed. In these times we must remember to be humble and thankful for if we allow ego into to the picture we will lose the ability to remain open to new lessons. Our vision can become clouded and our progress stalled.
By keeping our hearts and minds open and focused on Hashem, by engaging our emuna and embracing the path, we are able to continue to make progress without feeling foolish for the past, prideful over where we are, or nervous about lessons yet to come.


Please Keep Calling Me   A person can ignore Hashem's wakeup calls, but they only get louder and more alarming. Isn't it better to heed them and to live a much bett

Driving home last week from a meeting with my new medical professional I received a beautiful understanding, thank you Hashem! Let me explain.
I’ve been heading down the wrong path with my health for years. After the eye-opening meeting with my practitioner, I realized that Hashem has been calling me, progressively louder, for a very long time.
I’ve fought against the calls and the messengers – arguing that my diet is better / cleaner that the majority of US population. I don’t frequently get fast food, we buy organic when possible, and I don’t tend to overeat or eat particularly “bad” foods. Yet even with all of my arguing the health symptoms continued to plague me. In the last 6 years or so I’ve had 3 different doctors clearly tell me I need to modify my diet. I’ve also read articles, watch videos and listened to the Healthy Eating CD from Rabbi Brody outlining a healthy diet – where he clearly lists out the dos and don’ts. I always said “yeah yeah yeah, but look – my diet is not THAT bad!”
That is until last week, when I received the results from a wide panel of testing that was done two weeks ago. My practitioner (my messenger from Hashem) handed me a packet of papers and explained that, if I didn’t make a change, things could (Heaven forbid) get much worse for me. Right now, she said, we have a chance to change all of these issues naturally. Her words sunk in – message received and understood.
If you’ve read the Garden of Emuna then you’ll probably remember that Rabbi Arush explained that Hashem sends us messages immediately when we’ve strayed from the path. If we don’t have our spiritual antennae tuned in we may not hear the message. Hashem then sends us louder and louder messages (what we often interpret as tribulations) in an attempt to wake us up and bring us back.
I’ve always accepted this concept without much thought. What I realized tonight was what an amazing gift Hashem is giving us by continuing to call out, louder and louder, until we finally hear Him! Can you imagine if He only called out once, quietly, and if we didn’t respond He just let us go on our way… down the wrong path?! Heaven forbid - I shudder to think! The tribulations are a perfect kindness from a loving Father who wants us to hear Him.
Hashem has been telling me all along how I need to nourish this housing for my soul. I’ve known from a young age what foods make me feel good and what foods make me feel bad. When I ignored that knowledge and chose to eat the not-so-good-for-me foods, Hashem sent me louder messages via doctors. Then He sent me Rabbi Brody and his clear explanations of good-for-me foods and nutrition. When I still ignored the messages, Hashem made them louder and louder until I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
You see, the packet of papers that was handed to me today – was almost an identical “diet” as Rabbi Brody has so often prescribed through his articles, videos and CDs – especially the "Healthy Eating" CD. Foods that my (I’m assuming secular) practitioner thinks will help heal my health issues naturally…. The messages have finally been received loud and clear – Thank you Hashem for continuing to call me!
So, where does that leave me today? I quit the damaging foods cold turkey. I spent the last week detoxing from sugar, fighting cravings and coming up with new meal plans. It has not been easy but what I’ve discovered is so much of how I was eating was simply habit. I had go to foods that were not healthy for me but which I’d come to rely upon as my staples when hunger struck. Eating had been a mindless thing that was done as matter of course through the day… and from what my Rabbi has taught me, it is not the proper way to eat or fuel my body. Now, since my meals are all new creations with foods that I’ve always liked but consumed much too little of, I have to think and plan and prepare what I’m going to eat. There is time for consideration of the gifts of health, energy, healing and strength that Hashem provides through the food.
When I first reviewed the list of foods I shouldn’t eat I thought it was restrictive. Now I realize the physical, mental and emotional side effects those foods cause me are way more restrictive on my life than simply dealing with a food craving now and then. A week in and I’m feeling better than I’ve felt in a very long time – Thank You Hashem!


Rockin’ and Rolling   Sometimes things happen in life that become seemingly-perilous boulders in our life, blocking the path to truth and totaling dis

One of our favorite family activities is rock crawling. We started by joining our local 4x4 club and touring around on trails in the forests and deserts around our home. Although our vehicle was built for the terrain I was constantly nervous over the slightest “interesting section” we encountered. You would find me with a white knuckled grip on my safety bar as we’d drop over rocks, drive side hill across mountains, and maneuver across creek washouts. I felt like the only one that was so nervous – looking around, everyone else was having a great time and looking for even bigger challenges.
On almost every run there would be an official challenge hill of some sort. My understanding husband would let his panicking, hyperventilating wife (me) out of the vehicle before starting the challenge. Sometimes I would be “brave” and think I that I would just ride along in the challenge… this often resulted in my dear husband having to stop mid challenge (not necessarily the safest thing to do) and let me out of the vehicle before attempting to continue to climb.
We continued to join the 4x4 club on their local outings for about 2 years and I remained pretty much the nervous nelly of the group. I continued to participate because, despite my nerves, I truly love spending time out in nature far from buildings and development. This love for the outdoors is what prompted me to agree to travel over 1000 miles from home to a rock crawling event in Utah. A weeklong event with new trails each day on landscape I’d never seen - vertical rock walls we climbed, descents that required multiple safety ropes tied to the vehicle and secured so that it would not roll nose over end down the hill, trails that were so narrow with drop offs on either side of the vehicle that you literally could not open your door and get out – there was nothing but air under your door…. It was an amazing, terrifying, thrilling, and limit-stretching event for me.
Upon returning home one of the first trails we did was one that had made me most nervous in the past. I was shocked when I found myself laughing and thoroughly enjoying the trip – challenge hill and all. The “interesting parts” of the trail no longer seemed life threatening; the challenge hill appeared as an interesting and enjoyable diversion in our (now to me) relaxing drive in the wilderness. What had happened? My perspective had been changed. I’d grown. I’d learned. I’d gone through (much) bigger challenges and survived so I no longer needed to panic over these small bumps in my path. It’s been many years since those first two panicky years, and we’ve been blessed to visit several rock crawling areas around the western United States. Each time I’m challenged a little more – sometimes I still get out of the vehicle – but its all learning and growth.
Recently I ran head long into an emuna challenge that started because of a single sentence I’d read that I had misinterpreted and that had left me questioning everything I know to be true about being a Noahide. I emotionally crumpled and panicked and spilled what seemed like my entire vessel of emuna out on the ground. Figuratively standing there with my hands on my hips staring at my seemingly empty emuna vessel I felt utterly defeated and quite nervous. I questioned how I could lose my emuna so quickly?! Did I ever really have emuna to start with?
I will not take you into the depth of my thoughts as I pondered that sentence and rolled around the possible meanings as that is not important. What is important is the lessons that I learned.
1. I should have headed straight into personal prayer as soon as I became confused and after that,
2.  should have reached out to my Rabbi and Spiritual Guide
Instead I spent a week or more in spiritual turmoil. I was lost and confused and exactly where the EI wanted me. Thankfully a dear friend threw me a lifeline – a few sentences that completely cleared up my misunderstanding. Upon reading her words, the answer seemed so simple I could not believe I ever misunderstood what I had read… let alone have let the confusion go on for so long without asking for assistance in understanding.
That week of confusion was a giant rock in my emuna path – I’d climbed to the top of it and froze in fear not knowing how to descend the other side. When I finally came to my senses enough to reach out in prayer and to a reliable resource my path to understanding was illuminated and I’ve been able to continue on my way with that emuna challenge behind me.
Here’s the interesting bit – I am SO thankful for that emuna challenge. It stretched me, had me question ideas, gave me time to think and it gave me the skills to handle future challenges. I came through that big emuna challenge and now the everyday emuna bumps in the road no longer look like big obstacles – they are now opportunities to be thankful and smile…. Knowing that Hashem has led me safely over much worse rocky patches and trusting that in the small or the big He will always be there to help me keep rolling down the trail toward my mission in life. 


Religious Clutter   Being trapped by my old religious beliefs clutter is no way to grow. Being overwhelmed by the tremendous gap in my k

We’ve been doing a lot of reorganizing of our home space lately. Digging into the corners and cupboards – analyzing the contents for need and usefulness – questioning why we’ve kept some things for so long. My tendency is to lean toward the minimalist lifestyle – born from moving 13 times in the first 10 years of our marriage.  At one time we had paired our household items down to the point that I could wake up in the morning, pack everything, move, and be sleeping in our beds with everything unpacked and put away that evening.  To be at a place in life where we are settled and “feathering our nest” if you will, feels a bit disconcerting and all the stuff that goes along with that feels overwhelming.
What, to many people, looks like regular household items looks to me like clutter piles. They grow and accumulate almost unnoticed until it feels like they are literally everywhere. A book that I want to read, mail that needs gone through, a craft project started and waiting to be finished, the blanket from couch in the office from that morning it was a little chilly, pictures framed that need hung, piles of magazines - dayby day, sometimes even hour by hour, the clutter accumulates. It’s a regular project to go around the house, room to room, putting things back where they belong or removing them from our home altogether.
I recently tackled my office closet. This is the catch all of keepsakes and other stuff, not well organized and overfull. I dug and pulled and stacked the contents out of the closet onto the floor space around me… until I realized I was trapped by a wall of stuff to the point of needing assistance. It felt hopeless. I was giddy with exhaustion from the effort and the strange predicament I’d ended up in.  I realized I tried to do too much all at once. 
You may be wondering why I’m sharing my clutter conundrums with you. Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a lot of religious beliefs clutter rattling around in my brain as well. Concepts and ideas gathered over years of xtian services and teachings, secular media, and random conversations that just kind of hang out there in the corners of my mind, coloring my point of view and clouding my understanding. 
From time to time I will be reading a lesson or listening to a shiur and a comment will be made that rouses the dust around that old religious beliefs clutter and makes me stop. “What?! But that is not what I “know” – Where did that come from? That doesn’t register with anything I’ve ever been taught! How could it be that what I “know” is so very different from what the Rabbi is telling me?” It is in these times that I realize that, although the majority of my beliefs have been realigned with the truth, there are still areas where I need to do some work. I have all of these mental and emotional cupboards and closets where I’ve stored beliefs that just appeared so true and useful that I needn’t reexamine them. Wrong.
We are taught by Rebbe Nachman of Breslev about removing our own intellect and connecting to the tzaddik of the generation.  When I think about this and try to apply it to my life I often feel like I did when cleaning out that office closet – Digging out all of the concepts and understandings in order to make room for this new knowledge can and has actually blocked me up. I become trapped in the stacks of old understandings – trying to analyze and compare the old information for usefulness – questioning why I’ve held onto these beliefs in the corners of my mind for so long without holding them up to the light of truth.
Being trapped by my old religious beliefs clutter is no way to grow. Being overwhelmed by the tremendous gap in my knowledge of truth is not helpful either. 
So, where does that leave me? When I engage my emuna I know it leaves me exactly where I’m supposed to be. If my desire is to know truth, then Hashem will lead me down that path at the pace that is appropriate for my level. That may mean some days I’m able to clear out large swaths of old “knowledge” in light of a new level of truth that I’ve learned. It may also mean that there are times when I’ll get stuck and have to spend much time working through those old understandings, digging deeper, until I finally reach a point where I’m ready for the truth. 
For me the trick is to keep at it - Everyday. Concept by concept - through personal prayer, continued learning from my Rabbi and Spiritual Guide, and never ever giving up.


Slingshot   Before I learned about emuna, when I thought I was down – doing the things that the world told me were stuffy and boring – I was actually up...

I’m a visual person – I like graphs and lists and pictures and doodles in the margins of my pages… or all over my page sometimes. Writing draws me in and allows my true voice to speak as I silent the noise of the world from my mind.  It is a meditation of sorts I suppose. As I stare at the blank journal pages I often do not know what I’m there to write, I simply know I need to write. Often the pages will start out with something simple, the weather, the time, even stating that I don’t know what to write, is generally enough to open the floodgates and the words flow onto the page with little effort. I will read what I have written, repeatedly sometimes, thankful for the opportunity to express that which I did not even know needed acknowledgement. 
As Hashem has led me to Breslev and Rabbi Nachman’s teachings of personal prayer I realize that my basically life-long need for expression through writing was my soul yearning to connect with its Creator.   It is of no surprise then that my personal prayer sessions take on a very similar pattern of my journaling. I am there, staring at this beautiful blank page of opportunity to speak with my loving Father in Heaven not always knowing what I’m there to say, simply knowing I need to talk. And so I start and eventually the floodgates open and the words come forth. There are times at which the words stop like a comfortable pause in a conversation with a trusted friend, times when the only option is to sing, times when the tears flow, times when there just isn’t enough time to say everything that needs to be said, and times when the words just won’t come at all no matter how long I try. I find that my attitude is a major determining factor in how the time goes.
I experienced some attitude challenges lately, attempts from the evil inclination (EI) to pull down my attitude into deeply negative thoughts and feelings. I was frustrated and tired of fighting the negativity – I wanted to give in and just accept that I was in a “bad mood”. I felt stuck – as if I’d slid all the way back down into the muck and mire that Hashem had so lovingly pulled me out of. I didn’t feel like praying, I didn’t feel like writing – each night I was excited to go to sleep just so that I could “shut off” for a short time.
Then I remembered a lesson I had heard from Rabbi Brody – he spoke of the downs being a necessary part of the ups. I envisioned a slingshot with the shot being pulled not only backwards but also down in order to shoot the shot in a beautiful upward and forward arc as it headed for its target.
Visualizing my life as a line graph in which my emotional / spiritual ups and downs where charted I could identify a bold separation line – life before emuna and life after emuna. 
Here’s the interesting thing with viewing this chart from an emuna perspective: it showed my earlier ups and downs all catawampus. 
Before emuna, when I thought I was up – doing the things the world told me where good and right and fun – I was actually very far down. And when I thought I was down – doing the things that the world told me were stuffy and boring – I was actually up. 
Now, after emuna, my perspective on the causes of ups and down is so very different. As I looked at my ups and downs after learning emuna I could clearly see how each time I felt myself going low Hashem cared for me and prepared me for the inevitable upward movement. It was so clear that this process is all for the very best!
“Oh if I had known this lesson earlier in my life I would have been saved so much strife” I thought. And then I remembered that that “before emuna” time – all of those years – was also a part of this amazing life slingshot. That first moment of learning about and embracing emuna was the instant of release from the drawn back sling and the beginning of my journey upward and forward towards my life’s target… my life’s mission. 


The Right Way   How easy it is to become disheartened when we’ve worked so hard on something like a negative character trait and yet things still appear to be such a mess...

My dad is Italian and my mom is Scott-Irish. Based on that perspective alone, to say I have a bit of a stubborn streak would be putting it mildly. I was also raised to be independent and practical but was given a strong sense of the importance and value of dreaming and reaching for [beyond] the stars. 
These concepts my parents instilled gave me the basis for truly believing that nothing is impossible and I’m stubborn enough to hold onto that belief. 
Although these traits have been a huge blessing to me, I’m sure my parents paid a high price for encouraging and fostering them in me since I was an (overly) confident and stubborn youth. 
One of my Dad’s very favorite stories to tell is of him having a discussion with me when I was quite young. He told me how to do something, I said I was going to do it another way. He said no, do it this way and I responded (in all of my pre-teen somewhat snarky wisdom I’m sure) with “Dad, there is more than one right way to do things!”
I do still believe that in statement though with a slight modification. My right way may not be anyone else’s right way, and that’s okay. 
My family lives on a small piece of land I call our farm… although our only livestock is only 6 hens we raised from chicks this spring together with the neighbor’s sheep that come through our shared fence to help keep our grass down. 
My husband and I have been contemplating the sloped ground leading to the chicken coop and the inevitable muddy conditions this winter would bring. From our analysis the muddiest area would be in the same place where we would need to stand to gather eggs each day. 
The right way to fix this situation would require quite a bit of money, a delivery of a dump truck full of gravel, a lot of 1700# concrete blocks, borrowing a tractor, and many days of work over several weeks. The quick way to deal with it would be to dump a yard of gravel right by the chicken coop, spread it out and go with it as-is this winter… putting the “right way to fix it” on next year’s improvement list. 
We opted for the quick way and brought home a yard of gravel in our little trailer. Armed with a wheel barrow and shovels we stared at the situation.  The quick way would patch the situation and make it work for now. But the truth is it wasn’t the right way … it wasn’t our right way. So, we borrowed the tractor and dug into the (still ongoing) project. 
As I look at the project now in its half-finished state, it isn’t pretty. The ground is torn up and raw, the gravel has been compacted into a path and we are waiting on the concrete blocks. The grass around the project is flattened with tractor tracks pressed into the soft earth. The whole area is a mess and looks much worse (and more muddy!) than when we started. But here’s the thing, we are not disheartened about its current state because we have a clear vision of what the completed outcome will be. Its current state is actually exciting because we can see the change, see how far we’ve come and how much work we’ve put in. We know we are making progress every time we work on it. 
The whole project made me think about the spiritual “projects” we are all working on. How easy it is to become disheartened when we’ve worked so hard on something like a negative character trait and yet things still appear to be such a mess. We still exhibit the trait, perhaps at times the trait even shows up even worse than before we started. Thoughts of throwing in the towel, or even, G-d forbid, thinking that things were better off and “prettier” before you started working on yourself are easily entertained.
We each have our own spiritual paths, our own right way of getting to where Hashem is leading. The time to really invest our time and energy in following those paths is right now, today. Putting it on next year’s improvement list won’t work and shortcuts won’t work – they may even cause us more work in the end. 
When you are mired down in the heavy work, in the not so pretty work, in the work you would rather throw some gravel on and deal with later – remember to be stubborn enough to know without a doubt that Hashem loves you and that this process is all for the best - and be a dreamer enough to know that the beautiful outcome will be so worth the work.



Busy Bee   Mother? Wife? Entrepreneur? The person I am is not the person I aspire to be. That could be a very depressing thought. But it can also be very motivating...

If we were to meet at an event and you asked me what I “do” the answer you’re likely to hear would be along these lines:
“I am an entrepreneur in business launch phase with one company and negotiating the purchase of another company.  I also provide business support services to six companies and I’m a writer (professionally and personally)… oh yeah, I’m also a wife and a mother to a preschooler whom I’m homeschooling.”
See, right there, that last bit is the problem. That “oh yeah” part.
If I’m living my truth that description should have been completely flipped around… starting out with an introduction of being a wife and mother and oh yeah, I’m also involved in the business world.
If I’m living my truth my days should be arranged with the duties that truly speak to my heart filling my days – supporting my husband and raising my son - with “extra” time being spent on work.
My life plays out of the classic story of business first, family second - and if I’m being especially clever I can squeeze family time in AND hobby time or chore time at the same time. The problem is, this is all upside down and backwards to how I want to live my life… to how I believe Hashem wants me to live my life.
When my two worlds collide my family suffers the consequences – a curious and creative preschooler excitedly bursting into the room while I’m head down into a report that was past deadline to the client and my reaction tends to be less than stellar. As I lay in bed at night and think back over my day I often cringe. The person I am is not the person I aspire to be. That could be a very depressing thought. But it can also be very motivating. I come to the same conclusion every time – more prayer is needed.
You see, I can be depressed over my rough edges and difficulty in prioritizing my life – saddened by my choices and actions. Or I can be energized and excited over the path ahead and the possibilities of improving little by little each day. The choice is mine to make and the correct answer is emuna. Accepting that what is has happened is all part of Hashem’s plan and believing that, with His help, I can make better choices moving forward.
Each day, each moment, each choice presented to me is an option to weigh and consider my priorities. The more I allow myself a few seconds to think and say a prayer for guidance, the more likely I’m apt to make a decision that correspond to how I want to live my life vs being pulled into unnecessary (at that moment) work matters. I’m learning that taking an unexpected 10 minute break to share in an excited discovery with my son matters more than finishing a report 10 minutes earlier. Making sure I’ve prepared a meal for my husband when he returns home after his generally very long days at work makes ME feel better than spending my evenings returning emails.
Work is important and motivating and inspiring in many ways. There are truly times when I shouldn’t jump up from my desk, when I am responsible for meeting a deadline, when I’m so excited about a project that I don’t want to stop, when I’ve made agreements and need to try my best to meet those obligations. However, living constantly in that state of “work first” robs me of the life I want to live.
When I ask Hashem’s help to live my truth – family first – I find that I am more balanced, even with the same workload. That may mean rising in the early, early morning to finish some research and staying up late into the night submitting proposals so that my days are free to spend on the many duties of being a wife and mama. But when I’m feeling balance in my life, when I’m feeling I’m living my truth, then it all flows. My family time energizes me for work and my work time motivates me for family activities.
I’m a work in progress and that is a wonderful and thrilling thing to be. I still make so many mistakes but the more I engage my emuna, the more time I spend in prayer, the more accepting of outcomes I become, then I’m able to better appreciate and love the work Hashem is doing in my life.


Why Would You Do That?   People question Jennifer time and again: "What's a Noahide?" As such, she is constantly answering those questions for herself over and over again, digging deeper 

 My father walked up to my husband as we finished up work for the day. We had just placed 14 concrete blocks that weighed approximately 1700# each – a very physically tiring job on a regular day and this day was full on winter weather conditions. We were cold and tired but satisfied from a job well done. 
As I went about gathering tools my husband and father begin a discussion that started out with my father asking “why would you do all of this?”
The question rang in my mind as the answer could be simple – these blocks, once backfilled and compacted, will keep the driveway from sloughing off – or the answer could be complicated and multilayered. It has to do with long range plans for the property, future growth and development, creating something that will last beyond the current season. 
The question had a similar feel to one I’d received about a month ago during a business dinner. As seems to often happen, my choice of food (or perhaps it is my choice to not eat certain foods) brought questions from my dining companions. After explaining my religious / spiritual position as Noahide (and answered the regular questions about what that means) the next most common question arises – “But why would you choose to do that?!” 
As a Noahide I am not only searching for the path, our path, but I also find that I often end up being the person introducing the concept of Bnei Noach to many people.  To date, I have not used the term with any person and had them know what I was talking about. Honestly, it’s all a bit overwhelming and feels like a huge responsibility to have the correct words to explain what being Noahide is all about.
I never know quite when I’m going to be questioned and, even after all of these years, I still find myself a bit tongue tied. My first inclination is to go with the simple answer that I’ve boiled down to “I am not Jewish, but I follow Judaism as it relates to non-Jews”.  Most people will respond with some variation of “OH, so you’re Jewish but you haven’t converted yet.” Then they dismiss the conversation as they feel they’ve properly labeled me and whatever behavior that caused them to ask in the first place.  This is not the impression I wish to leave people with and yet this is where the conversations often end due timing or lack of interest.
At times I’m able to pursue the conversation further – to explain that I don’t need to convert, that I / we all have a special place with beautiful mitzvoth to perform, relationships to build and important work to do in the world. It is at this point when I get blank stares and the “But why?!” questions.  Why would I take on certain dietary practices? Why would I abandon the xtian holidays? Can’t I just celebrate the xtain holidays in a non-religious fashion? Why would I take on all the extra work and effort this religion takes?
I can’t say I always have the best answers. I’ve been stumped by questions many times, unable to articulate a proper answer. Often times I wonder why Hashem sent the person to question me – couldn’t they be introduced to Bnei Noach by someone better than me? Someone who can share quotes from Rabbis, lead discussions in Torah, and debate theological concepts. I’m just a woman of simple emuna who knows beyond knowledge that Hashem loves me, has a job for me in this world, and that His Torah is truth.
But, as always, Hashem does everything for the best. The people question me and I in turn must take a deeper looking into my beliefs. I must answer those questions for myself again and again. In doing so, I dig deeper into the knowledge of the truth of this path.  The questions clarify the distance of this path show me how far I have come and how far I have yet to go. It is through this beautiful process of questioning that one begins to understand the complicated answers.
If I am not voluntarily questioning and trying to learn and grow through my own initiative, Hashem sends me a messenger to start the questioning process for me. 
In the USA, we are now into the winter holiday season. The opportunities to be tagged as “different” have been abound recently as we declined tree cutting parties, skipped the house decorations, and had to deal with the awkward questions such as “is your son excited for Santa Clause?” Although I pray to have the “right” answers that people need to hear, perhaps the bigger opportunity for growth is not in my “educating” people about Noahides but rather in searching for/remembering the answers myself.


Baby Bug   The stories of Rabbi Nachman, the lessons of Rabbi Arush and advice of Rabbi Brody built a path upon which I could find firm footing and discover my place as a daughter of Hashem

Up until the age of 16, I was pretty much a tomboy growing up on a farm with a pretty strong independent streak. I’d been dating my then boyfriend, now husband, for about 3 months and suddenly the baby bug hit. I was still the independent farm-girl tomboy but now I also wanted a baby… bad. 
Marriage didn’t happen until after boot camp and tech school for him, community college and career start for me. I was 21 and he had just turned 22 on the day we married. Oh the plans we had… and hoping for 12 children to boot. Neither of us came from large or particularly heavily religious families – yet we both had a strong desire for many children and belief in the Creator. 
It’s been almost 25 years ago that that baby bug first hit, almost 20 years since that beautiful March day when we got married. We’ve been blessed with years of growing and learning and loving… and about 4 years ago we were blessed with our beautiful, kind, gentle son. 
Being a parent is the most unbelievably wonderful, humbling, challenging, and prayerful endeavor I’ve ever experienced. I type this at the end of an incredibly long and trying day – I felt a failure after how I’d handled the parenting needs required of me today. In fact, I felt completely lost as a parent. You know those times when something happens and you have no clue how to respond? That was today…. Over and over and over again. And every response I tried failed… miserably.
After handing the bedtime duties over to my dear husband, the first time I’ve needed to do that in 4 years, I stood at our glass door staring out into the moonlit night with tears streaming down my face. The negative thoughts rolling through my brain threatened to crumble my spirit.  I felt defeated as I thought of the lessons I’d learned inThe Garden of Education and how I’d utterly failed at properly utilizing (or using at all) Rabbi Arush’s advice with today’s challenges.
Five years ago I came to Breslev. Spiritually lost and hurting, the stories of Rabbi Nachman, the lessons of Rabbi Arush and advice of Rabbi Brody built a path upon which I could find firm footing and discover my place as a daughter of Hashem.  I was welcomed, encouraged, challenged and supported as I sorted out what it meant to be Bat Noach.  I learned the principles of emuna and began to implement them into my life – a continual and life long process that gave me, among many other things, the understanding that everything happens in perfect timing.
The 15+ years we waited for our son was perfect. Indescribably hard, but perfect nonetheless.  Hashem, our loving Father, knew when we were ready. He knew this challenging day I’ve had (and the others before it and the lessons yet to come) would come and I would need the emuna and learning I’ve gathered over these last 5 years to pull out of the negative space I’d fallen into tonight.  I found myself repeating a statement I say often when negativity threatens “Negative thoughts are sent by the evil inclination (EI) to steal my joy. That won’t happen!” I may not have handled this day correctly, I may have failed the parenting tests today, but I certainly am not going to allow the EI to pull me down into despair.  
After a while the tears stopped and I found myself smiling. Hashem is so good. I have so much to learn and I will try, with Hashem’s help, to grow and do better every day.  I know parenting is going to have its challenging days, but it is also the most beautiful thing.  And, knowing that Hashem allows our children to be our mirrors, to show us what we need to work on, I can say that after today, I have a whole list of items I need to work on and talk with Him about during my personal prayer sessions.
And guess what… even after days like today… I’ve still got that baby bug… bad. 


Reaching Out to Noahides    You may feel like you're walking alone and questioning your decision to strike out on this trail. Have confidence in your quiet voice that tells you you are on the right path...

Shalom my sisters, my brothers.
I call out to you today to wherever you are in the world and in your journey. Know that you are a beloved child of the Creator.
This life is full of questions, many designed by the evil inclination to distract you into minutia instead of focusing on finding your truth... your path... your purpose... your mission.
I implore you to focus on love - it is the answer to the questions to the degree that we can comprehend in this life. The Creator loves you more than you can imagine and you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment. Everything is coming together in perfect timing and know that everything is for the good - despite our limited ability to comprehend.
Do not allow yourself to slide into depression. Lift your eyes to the sky and give yourself permission to wonder in amazement at the beauty and intricacy of creation. Know that you have an important role to play - your mission to complete - in this world. Allow yourself to believe it from that place beyond intellect... the place where the real you speaks with a quiet voice that is all too often drowned out.
The path the Creator has laid before you may be so different than anyone else you know. You may feel like you are walking alone and questioning your decision to strike out on this trail. Have confidence in your quiet voice that tells you you are on the right path...the path to truth.
Honor the journey that has brought you to this point. For many of us the road has been somewhat less than smooth and yet we felt drawn to break away from the crowd and find out where the road went. As we started our journey many of our companions stopped or turned back and yet we kept going and keep going forward despite not knowing the destination. Each footstep rings of higher truth and so we must continue forward. 
This is our journey - individually and as a whole. There is a reason why so many are awakening to the truth of the Creator at this time. Despite how it may feel, you are not alone. Be strengthened.
Reach out - we are waiting for you to connect in your own time and in your own way when you are ready.

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Jennifer invites you to participate in a regularly held Noahide on-line study group that reviews the garden series books of Rabbi Arush. You can contact her for dates and time