Who moved my cheese?

Who moved my cheese? The Movie

Goodbye Prozac, Hello Emuna

By: Howard Morton 3Jnauary2015 http://www.breslev.co.il/articles/family/health_and_fitness/goodbye_prozac__hello_emuna.aspx?id=19866&language=english

“Prozac took the edge off my depression and helped me function better. But there was one side effect—I felt my entire being was encased in a kind of invisible cellophane…”

During my annual checkup several years ago, my physician asked me how I was feeling. “Lousy,” I said. I told him I felt both lethargic and agitated, shrouded by a heavy sadness that seemed almost tangible. I said I had had trouble concentrating and that even small tasks seemed to require an incredible amount of effort.

He told me I was suffering from depression and prescribed Prozac.

That quick diagnosis came to no surprise to me; I was just laid off from the job I loved. My employer was one of the largest corporations in America where I was a vice president in charge of marketing for six states. Having just merged with another Fortune 500 corporation, the company I had helped increase revenue and brand awareness for announced it was laying off 10,000 employees. And I was one of them.

Of course I saw it coming. Rumors were flying for weeks. But it didn’t make it any easier when I received the phone call from the regional Senior Vice President saying my job had just ended. I was forced to stop clinging onto a false sense of hope. So here I was with a wife and half dozen kids to support with no income. Thank G-d for my generous severance package and unemployment benefits, but all that had run out after several weeks.

My new full-time job was looking for a full-time job. The recession was in full swing, and I was repeatedly told that most companies weren’t hiring—and if they were hiring, they weren’t hiring higher paid marketing executives with a couple of decades of experience. Budgets were slashed. Doors were closed. I started collecting post-interview letters wishing me good luck on my future endeavors.

Throughout all this, I was fighting depression. The waves of depression kept growing higher and higher until I felt I was drowning. But when my family doctor prescribed Prozac, I didn’t get the prescription filled. I thought, “This doctor’s a general practitioner. What I need is a specialist.” So I went to see a well-known psychiatrist. I sat in the waiting room with other embarrassed people while the intercom system piped in a Vivaldi concerto. When I finally saw the psychiatrist, he asked me if I heard voices coming out of my nose or if my TV told me what to do. Standard questions to him, strange questions to me. I told him my symptoms and my worries about paying my mortgage payments and putting food on the table. He diagnosed me with depression and prescribed Prozac.

Prozac is part of a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs for short. Other SSRIs include Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil and Zoloft. All these type of drugs work by seemingly making nerve cells form stronger connections in parts of the brain. For me, Prozac took the edge off my depression and helped me function better. But there was one side effect—I felt my entire being was encased in a kind of invisible cellophane. There was a thin, transparent barrier between the Prozac me and the real me, and sometimes it would irritate me so much that I would stop taking the Prozac. But then the the concrete-like sadness, agitation and other depression symptoms would come flooding back, which my wife found unbearable. So I began a roller coaster ride of on-again, off-again Prozac.

Even when I started a new job with a higher salary, I was still depressed and still dependent on Prozac. Then a friend of mine introduced me to The Garden of Emuna. And my life changed.

Actually, it wasn’t until I read The Garden of Emuna for the third time that all the lights started blazing in my head. Previously, I thought I already had emuna—of course I believed there’s a G-d in the world. Yet now after reading The Garden of Emuna the third time, I saw I never really had emuna. I now saw the world in an entirely new light: Hashem Hu HaElokim ain od m’valdo, Hashem is G-d and there’s nothing else besides Him. I now saw that every single thing in my life was by Hashem’s decree. And that everything Hashem decrees is for the absolute benefit of my soul, even if it doesn’t feel comfortable. And that everything Hashem does is a tailor-made message for me to achieve my soul correction. And that nobody can help or harm me without Hashem’s permission.

I finally saw the root cause of my depression: I was lacking emuna.

I was depressed because I wanted to be in control in this seemingly cause-and-effect world. And I was anything but in control. The Garden of Emuna plucked me into a new reality where I could connect my intellect with my emotions and recognize that only Hashem is in control. Not me. Not the company that laid me off. Not my new employer.

I felt much like Neo, the protagonist in the 1999 film The Matrix when he realized the world he lived in his entire life was not real. It was all an illusion. There was one scene in the movie I now especially identified with. It’s the scene where Neo is waiting to see the oracle, and in the waiting room is a bald nine-year old boy bending a spoon with his mind. When the boy catches Neo watching him, he says: “Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.”

“What truth?” Neo asks.

“There is no spoon, “the bald kid answers. “Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.” And so I bent, realizing Hashem did, does and will do every single deed. I realized Hashem is the cause of every catalyst, and that any situation of stess or sorrow is only a test of emuna.

I started focusing on relying only on Hashem—and stopped relying on Prozac.

Prozac could only take care of the symptoms; The Garden of Emuna helped me take care of the root cause—emuna. With my new awareness of emuna—and with my newly acquired practice of talking to Hashem in my own words—I went off Prozac cold turkey. It’s been nearly three years since I’ve stopped taking Prozac, and my depression never returned. I know I’m one of many who have successfully replaced meds for emuna, and I can’t begin to express my gratitude to Rabbi Shalom Arush for having written The Garden of Emuna (and subsequent emuna books), to Rabbi Lazer Brody for tirelessly reinforcing the importance of emuna to the English-speaking world and, of course, to Hashem, the ultimate cause of everything.

Nefesh B’Nefesh: Rachelle Sprecher Fraenkel – Yomim Noraim Video Series

Rabbi Lazer Brody, The End of Days-21July2015

Lech Lecha – Does that Mean Me?

torah-tidbitsTorah-tidbitCHIZUKandIDUD
Torah Tidbits #1145 – Matot-Mas’ei
July 17-18 2015, ’15 – 2 Av 5775website: www.ttidbits.com
http://www.ttidbits.com/1145/1145lite.pdf
CHIZUK and IDUD for Olim & not-yet-Olim respectivelyIn the early 1980s I met with the Olim parents of a group of boys whom I was teaching in preparation for their Bar Mitzva. As we discussed the boys’ upcoming celebration, one of the mothers, a recent Olah from Iran, broke down in tears. Noticing my surprise, the woman explained that she could not enter into the festive mood seeing as her husband and daughter were still trapped in Iran. She proceeded to describe how the family of four had arrived together at the Teheran airport planning to board a plane out of Iran, when they were notified that only two of the four family members would be allowed to leave the country. The Iranian authorities did not trust their claim that they were touring Europe, suspecting their real intention of making Aliya. The mother and son were told that they could leave, and upon their return from the “European tour”, the husband and daughter would be allowed to conduct a similar visit.
This woman had already been in Israel for a few months and the prospects of the family reuniting in the Holy Land any time before the Bar Mitzva were bleak.
As the woman continued her story, she wistfully noted that had they chosen to leave Iran a few years earlier they would not have met with such difficulties. Now, however, once the Ayatollah had overthrown the Shah, the family’s only hope was for the husband to find an underground smuggling ring to help him get across the border. Why had they not emigrated earlier? The answer was as predictable as it was tragic: She bitterly described the successful chain-store which had once been owned by her husband’s family and how the thought of forsaking this business was simply too difficult for them to countenance. If only they had known what was in store for them…
This story came to my mind as I studied the Torah’s account of the tribes of Reuven and Gad. The two tribes heightened concern for the protection of their wealth and livestock led them to choose to remain on the other side of the Jordan River near the coveted, vast pasture lands.
Rashi writes that their attachment to their wealth overshadowed their concern for their own children. The Torah quotes their telling Moshe: “we will build corrals for our sheep and cattle, and then build cities for our children” – Moshe realizing they have their priorities reversed sets the record straight – children and family must come first!
Ba’alei Tosafot were somewhat milder in their critique, however. They too pointedly noted how the tribes’ attachment to their possessions led them to disassociate themselves from their brethren. Indeed, till today many Diaspora Jews find that they are tethered to the Diaspora, since they are incapable of severing the umbilical cord connecting them to their business concerns.
In his response to the tribes’ request, Moshe raises an additional concern: “Will your brothers go to war and you will sit here?!“ (Bamidbar 32:6). The Malbim explains that their request not to cross the Jordan is neither ethical nor just – even if they truly believe that they will not be missed. To carry one’s own share of the war effort is crucial even when an objective assessment of a person’s actual assistance reveals it may not be needed. For when one chooses to stay away from the fighting, sitting outside in peace and tranquility, this undermines the resolve of all of those who will enter into battle. (Thus, Ibn Ezra translates the phrase LAMA TENI’UN, as why do you break the hearts of the people, (32:7) and Moshe proceeds to compare them to the Meraglim, the spies, who turned the hearts of the people).
The Malbim succinctly states the point: “By not crossing the Jordan they will lead the people to think that it was the fear of fighting the inhabitants of the land that motivated them. As a result, the others will be afraid and refuse to cross as well. “
The simple truth is that the entire Jewish People share a common destiny: Those who remain “on the other side of the Jordan” affect the lives of those in Israel, and vice versa. Nonetheless, as we all know, we face different challenges and dangers.
While the attachment to the land naturally strengthens one’s attachment to the people, life in the Diaspora can lead to a weakening of these familial ties. As we all know from bitter experience, intermarriage occurs. (Interestingly, in Divrei HaYamim Alef 7:14, we see that Menashe had two wives – one of whom was an Aramean). Current rates of intermarriage in America reportedly exceed 50%, while in Israel this challenge remains negligible.
For those who see the move to Israel as involving too great a sacrifice of their “livestock across the Jordan”, I would advise to focus on the following thought: If you choose to come here, you can at least rest assured that whatever belongings you leave behind, after your death, will be inherited by Jewish descendants…Rabbi Yerachmiel Roness, Ramat Shiloh, Beit Shemesh

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