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RABBI YOSSI BRAUN
THE ROV CROWN HEIGHTS NEEDS
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RABBI YOSSI BRAUN

A FAMILY OF RABBONIM GROOMED FOR RABBONUS


Rabbi Yosef Yeshaya (“Yossi”) Braun As a youngster, R’ Braun attended the
Shlit”a was raised in a family of rabbonim Chasan Sofer and Kochav M’Yaakov-
and geonim. His Tchebin yeshivas, where
grandfather, Rabbi he was recognized
Shlomo Zalman Braun as an unusual iluy.
z”l, a renowned rav and During his teenage
posek, authored the years, he began to learn
“She’arim Metzuyanim chassidus and became a
b’Halacha” on Kitzur tomim, studying first in
Shulchan Aruch. Kiryat Gat, followed by
Oholei Torah, shlichus
The Rebbe highly in Sydney, and 770.
recommended these
Sefarim and used Rabbi Braun had the
them extensively. His privilege of serving as
father, Rabbi Chaim a chozer of the Rebbe’s
Elazar Braun Shlit”a, farbrengens during
serves as the Rav of the early ‘90s and was
the Sha’arei Tzion noted for his precision
community in Flatbush in preserving every
and has continued the word and utterance
“She’arim Metzuyanim of the Rebbe. After
Ba’Halacha” series, marrying his wife
with additional works Yehudis, daughter
on Shas (15 volumes). of the mashpia Rabbi
Berel Lipsker, he continued to pursue his
It was in this atmosphere of rabbinic rabbinic training and received shimush
scholarship and communal leadership, from some of the greatest rabbonim and
coupled with Halachic analysis and poskim of our time, both within Chabad
scrutiny, that Rabbi Braun was raised. Not and without.
surprisingly, his brothers are also noted
talmidei chachomim—Rabbi Moshe Shmuel
Braun Shlit”a serves as a rav and dayan in RELATIONSHIP WITH
Monsey, and Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Braun
Shlit”a, a renowned mekubal, serves as a LEADING POSKIM
mashpia in Mount Kisco. The Mara d’Asra of Crown Heights, Rabbi
Yehuda Kalman Marlow, famous for his short

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and concise Halachic decisions, utilized Rabbi RENOWNED EDUCATOR
Braun’s rare grasp of Halachic knowledge
Despite dedicating most of his time
and his outstanding communication skills to
to rabbonus and the leadership of the
formulate detailed Piskei Din for publication.
community, Rabbi Braun still devotes much
The two spent hours together, delving into
time to chinuch and shalom bayis. He
Halachic complexities.
organized seminars for his community on
Rabbi Braun remains in contact with leading chinuch, dating, marriage, and sholom bayis.
poskim and is highly regarded for his Rabbi Braun’s expertise in education has led
encyclopaedic knowledge of Halacha and the Department of Education of New South
familiarity with the most obscure sources. Wales to appoint him as the governmental
The tremendous knowledge that Rabbi representative overseeing the Limudei
Braun has acquired in various Halachic Kodesh curriculum for matriculation in all
fields, as well as in the Rebbe’s Sichos, has of its schools.
led numerous authors of s’farim to submit
Rabbi Braun was also one of three individuals
their works to him for review. He has also
appointed to a committee assigned the task of
participated in editing his father’s series,
developing the curriculum and examinations.
“She’arim Metzuyanim Ba’Halacha.”
In addition to his Torah studies and Halachic
expertise, Rabbi Braun is a friendly and
sociable family man, who is adept at using
SERVING HIS COMMUNITY cutting edge technology to better serve
his community. He promptly responds to
Fifteen years ago Rabbi Braun moved to
Shailos and inquiries from around the world
Sydney, Australia, where he served as the
via email at all hours of the day.
Menahel Ruchni of the Mesivta and lecturer
at the girls’ seminary. Shortly thereafter,
he was chosen to lead the Tzemach Tzedek A PEACEMAKER
Community Center.
Rabbi Braun consistently champions achdus
In short order, Rabbi Braun became one of and cooperation. maintains good ties with
the most distinguished rabbonim in Australia. the local Shliach, Rabbi Pinchas Feldman,
He established close personal relationships as well as the rabbonim and leaders of
with the members of the community, while Australia’s Chareidi and Modern Orthodox
concurrently establishing a Yeshiva Gedola communities.
and a Machon for Semicha.
Notwithstanding the past friction between
Rabbi Braun serves as an executive member the Chabad communities in Sydney, he
of the Va’ad haRabonim of Sydney, having succeeded bridging their differences and
already served a term as vice president of the promoting unity. In recent years, the two
Va’ad. Additionally, Rabbi Braun maintained communities hold joint farbrengens and
a special relationship with Rabbi Yitzchok gatherings. Rabbi Braun is universally
Dovid Groner z”l, the Rebbe’s shliach to respected as a rav, a gaon, a teacher, a
Australia. mashpia, a problem-solver, a communal
leader, a counselor, a trusted advisor, and a
peacemaker.

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INTRO Tishrei:
Rabbi Braun is a noted author and
lecturer. His writings range from Yom Tov
scholarly halachic monographs
in the most prestigious rabbinic
Overdose
journals, to popular inspirational
BY R ABBI YOSSI BRAUN
essays and practical guides to
Reprinted from Chabad.org
halachic issues. The following
selected essays first appeared in
My household cleaning help is getting frustrated.
Rabbi Braun’s weekly e-mail to A yom tov. And then another one. And following
his Community and Chabad.org. that, a Chol Hamoed, when only some activities
are off-limits. And then again two days off all
forms of work. “Can’t you guys schedule your
festivals in a more organized fashion”?
It isn’t much easier for us either. Cooking,
grating, cleaning, baking, cleaning. Peeling,
peeling, and more peeling. And did I mention
cleaning? So much work just to jam-pack the
stomach with cholent, fish, meat, kugel, ice
cream, salads, and spirits (we’re only mentioning
necessities, okay?). Every day. Two or three
times a day. And then next week all over again...
My wallet and credit cards are also starting
to kvetch under the strain. Loads of fleish,
contents outfitting the entire family with matching outfits
from head to toe, and prime seats in shul get the
Tishrei: Yom Tov Overdose...........................4 bills skyrocketing in no time.

Broken Resolutions...........................................6 Couldn’t the Master Planner of these holidays


space them out a bit more, giving us a bit of time
Who Needs a Human Moshiach?.................7 to breathe and recuperate before the next one?
Looks like time management is not high on the
Selfish Desires & Sinful Thoughts................9 list of priorities there.
And then there is the concern of overdosing.
iGeneration.........................................................10 Wouldn’t a monthly conveniently sized spirituality
dispenser with a small dosage to boost our
Inner Dignity......................................................12 spiritual circulatory system be just fine?

Why is my Davening so Boring?................14 Here’s the formal answer: The month of Tishrei
is full of festivals, joy, and intensity; the following
month, Cheshvan, does not even have one

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minor holiday. You need a megadose of holiday
spirituality to help get you through the dull, dry,
festival-free month of Cheshvan.
Somehow, this answer doesn’t satisfy me. That
sounds like really poor planning. Cram up all the
major festivals in the first month of the year and
then follow it with a vacuum—a month devoid
of any parties, new outfits, and stomachaches.
Feels like a spiritual roller-coaster ride. Couldn’t
the descent “back to earth” be gradual, avoiding
unnecessary turbulence and a potential collision
upon landing?
Clearly, this is part of a detailed, direct, and
deliberate plan. Herein lies the paradox of
life: The only way to survive and cope in the
wilderness is by filling your suitcases to the brim
prior to the journey. Yet, the only way to develop
coping skills and experience true independent
growth is by camping in a site devoid of any
amenities, facilities, and resources.
The packing and planning in Tishrei—the first
month of the year—is crucial to the success of
our journey later on. Tishrei can be seen as the
“head” of the year (the Hebrew letters of the
word Tishrei can also spell the word “reishit”- go, with food for the journey and some basic
-beginning and head). The head contains the appliances—i.e., acceptance of G d’s Sovereignty
brain, mouth, nose, ears, eyes, and face— and awe of Heaven (Rosh Hashanah), teshuvah
intelligence, speech, smell, hearing, and sight. (Yom Kippur), joy and festivity (Sukkot), and
All that crammed into one part of the body—the dedication to Torah (Simchas Torah).
head? Couldn’t these vital sensory organs be
spread out over the entire body? But, then it’s time for “real life” in the jungle.
Having a yom tov in Cheshvan would be akin
But that just wouldn’t work. In order for the to hitting concrete pavement while hiking in the
head to conduct all the affairs of the body it countryside. It ruins the experience. This is the
requires those vital tools to work with. Each of time to put to use all our coping and camping
Tishrei’s special days is another section of the skills.
“head”—a source of strength and inspiration for
all the following days throughout the year. So let’s stuff those overweight suitcases, eat to
our fullest, and write out fat checks—loaded
Yet, the actual journey is done with the legs, or with sanctity, joy, commitment, resolutions and
more correctly the heels (the least sensitive limbs aspirations. But, remember: at the end of the
of the body), which take their cue from the head. month the bills need to be paid. Come Cheshvan,
And it’s only the heels that actually “go places.” make sure those checks don’t bounce.
Cheshvan is traveling time.
To get the maximum experience out of our
trip we need to stock up very well before we ji
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fretting about it, you’ve conceded defeat and
Broken given up the mission altogether.
Indeed, it’s a vicious cycle. We continue to
Resolutions struggle in order to win, yet we acknowledge that,
according to the laws of nature – or Murphy’s
Law, we lose more often than win.
By Rabbi Yossi Braun
And now for the home run: many of us often
complain that our kids are sore losers. They have
a hard time striking out at baseball or losing an
Question: argument with their siblings. Losing can trigger
Rabbi, I heard you speak in shul on Rosh their anger, shouting, tears, or the common “I
Hashanah about undertaking a deeper don’t want to play anymore” syndrome. This
commitment to serve Hashem, and I made makes life very difficult for us as parents. Some
several resolutions accordingly. Yet, it’s nary a parents steer clear of playing games with their
month since Rosh Hashanah, and I have yet again children because it is just too “traumatic.”
broken almost every one of my resolutions. From the child’s perspective, it is indeed very
I am starting to think that I should stop making difficult to lose. Losing a game is the equivalent
resolutions altogether, because they only add to of accepting the fact
my feelings of failure. that they’re not so
So why make good at things. This
I need your help desperately. resolutions can be too much for
altogether? Aha! a child to swallow.

Answer:
That is the mission (Adults are no
different. Why are
– to strive to be we so intolerant of
Every journey begins with a first step. You are
already at a head start. Asking for help before
flawless and fail at our children being
frustration and anger takes over is the first and it. Failing is part sore losers? Because
most crucial step. of our mission. we have a hard
time accepting our
Now on to second base: Making resolutions is children’s faults; we
very easy. Many of us do it quite often. Breaking can’t acknowledge the fact that we have failed in
them is even easier. Most of us do that on a educating our brood).
regular basis.
Certainly, we can fix the outcome and contrive
In fact, resolutions are made to be broken. The to let them always win. This can work some of
very word “resolution” means that we want to the time with some of the people. But children
resolve something that isn’t working – or is must learn at some stage that in life you win some
failing – for us. Resolving to improve our lives and you lose some. Losing is part of life and it’s
implies that we are not yet perfect human beings. important to know how to deal with it.
It is only predictable that imperfect beings striving
to be faultless will fail in their mission. The aim of the game is not to win. It’s to play
the game attempting to win and then lose (or
So why make resolutions altogether? Aha! That is win—does it really make a difference?). And then
the mission – to strive to be flawless and fail at it. play again.
Failing is part of our mission.
“For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises
If so, should I be happy that I’m falling short of up again; but the wicked are overthrown by
my aspirations? No way. The moment you stop

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calamity” (Mishlei 24:16). If he has fallen seven
times, why is he still called “righteous”? Because
no matter how painful the fall is and how many
Who Needs
strikes he had, he always picks himself up and
plays again. But one who takes his failings as an
indication that he is a bad player loses the entire
a Human
World Series.
The distinction between winners and losers is that
Moshiach?
winners lose well, and losers lose poorly. We are
so caught up with winning that we have lost out BY R ABBI YOSSI BRAUN
on the lessons of losing. Winning isn’t everything; Reprinted from Chabad.org
losing is.
Yet, there is more to a game than even “losing like
a man.” There is the enjoyment of watching the Question:
game. While some people play tough as if they’re I appreciate the point about the world having a
at war at each other, others realize it’s only a goal and destiny and how the world is evolving
game—a tough game but a game after all. But towards a state of perfection and redemption.
both of them are engaged in some type of warfare But why the focus on a human being as the
– real fighting or playful fighting. Then there are redeemer? If redemption is that crucial, couldn’t
the spectators. Sometimes they don’t even care G d do it on His own?
who wins; they just enjoy watching a good game.
The Midrash says “In the future, Hashem Answer:
will make an entertaining animal fight for the
righteous” (Vayikra Rabba 13:3). This is not In typical rabbi fashion let me explain with a
intended to be taken literally, as Judaism was parable.
never big on bullfights—they are perceived as I’ve recently noticed that mortgage brokers are
cruel and immoral. The Midrash is saying that in sprouting up all over the place. More and more
the future the righteous will appreciate that our people prefer to use mortgage brokers rather
struggle with evil in this world was nothing more than the old-fashioned system of setting up
than a staged game. A real sportsman is not an appointment with their bank. The reason?
out to win the game. Ideally, he shouldn’t even With so many different loans and lenders in the
be thinking about himself. His agenda is solely market, it’s highly advisable to rely on a mortgage
to produce quality entertainment for the World broker to do the
Spectator, the one and only Sponsor, Owner and legwork for you.
leading Fan, Who designed the game to begin Whom do you
with. With a broker, you
propose as have access to a
So even though you fumbled, don’t throw in the the negotiator greater range of
towel. Keep up your game plan with your eye on mortgage options,
the ball. Give it your best shot and carry on with
between both
better service and
your resolutions. Fix them. Improve them. You’ll parties? G-d? He, you can use the
be constantly getting better at the game. as it were, can’t broker to negotiate
There is only one resolution that you should do it on His own. with lenders on your
discard – the resolution not to make any more He represents one behalf. The banks
resolutions. also benefit from
of the parties... this trend, as they

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can now conserve manpower by outsourcing to time we engage in the physical act of performing
the brokers the task of finding and qualifying a mitzvah we speed up the process of “drawing
borrowers. Most importantly, the broker down” the Divine into our environment.
“understands the language” of both the lenders
Other than us, no one else can do the job. All
and the clients. Thus, the broker acts as a
others have a “conflict of interest” and represent
successful intermediary.
one of the two parties. Whom do you propose as
the negotiator between
both parties? G-d? He,
as it were, can’t do it on
His own. He represents
one of the parties...
We, on the other hand,
possess a soul which is
“part of G-d above,”
yet this G-dly soul is
garbed in a physical
and corporeal body.
We “understand the
language” of both parties
and are therefore the
perfect candidate for the
task of merging the two.
The consummation
of this process will be
realized in the Era of
What if a mortgage broker turned out to be Redemption when every dimension of our worldly
employed by a particular lending institution? existence will be truly permeated by G-dliness. In
Now that’s what we’d call a dishonest broker. the words of our Sages: “Currently we are in a
He would lose his license and possibly be state of betrothal; in the World to Come—will be
subject to a variety of legal penalties. It would the Marriage.”
be like sparring parties finally agreeing to
Moshiach, the one who will usher in the
arbitrate their dispute, only to discover that
redemption, is a “man of this world,” a flesh-
the designated neutral arbitrator has a direct
and-blood human being who undergoes physical
financial or personal interest in the outcome of
challenges such as stress, opposition, and illness.
the arbitration.
Yet, his soul is as pure and pristine as they come;
Same thing with Moshiach. Our duty is to create his ego and intellect nullified, to be consistent
a union between the world’s material substance with the Divine will. He has a good take on both
and its spiritual reality, to marry Heaven and Heaven and Earth.
Earth. Call it arbitration, mediation, brokerage,
Indeed, an honest broker.
or matchmaking. We have been entrusted with
the sacred mission of perfecting this world
by bringing spirituality and G-dliness into an
otherwise ungodly world. Our observance of the
mitzvos all center on this ideal of bridging the
ji
chasm between G-dliness and Worldliness. Every

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Think about it this way: Different people have
Selfish Desires different taste preferences. Some people are born
with a highly demanding sweet tooth; they shy

and Sinful away from all things spicy. Their preferred diet
is candy, cookies, cake, ice cream, and anything
else full of sugar and sweetness. Others belong
Thoughts: to the clan that can’t tolerate sugary substances
and only consume hot, spicy victuals. The hotter,
the better.
Where is While there is something to be said about that hot
the Meat? taste on the tongue, there are strong arguments
in favor of the sugary taste bud. We have to
resign ourselves to the fact that there are multiple
BY R ABBI YOSSI BRAUN interpretations and spins on the concept of “tasty
Reprinted from Chabad.org food.”
G-d, in His infinite capacity, subscribes to all
types of taste preferences. He enjoys the
taste of the struggle-fr
struggle-free, sweet, and darling
Question: sweeth
behavior of the sweethearts and honeys in life.
ness over my
I find myself feeling hopelessness appreciat the nose-running and
But He also appreciates
spiritual state. As much as I try, I can’t react
head-splitting reaction from the tangy and
oughts,
rid myself of inappropriate thoughts, co
bitter toil of confronting challenges.
ehensible
unhealthy cravings, and reprehensible Spicy foods rrelieve congestions, clear
urges. Are they all here to stay?
ay? the system, and “restore
Am I doomed as far as my the soul.” When we
piety and religiousness are engage in the “bitter
concerned? h
herbs” of facing our
temptations and confronting
them, we cause such an intense pleasure
Answer: and euphoria above; it provides Him, so to speak,
I’m sorry for turning the tables on you, but, in with an eye-watering experience—an experience
truth you are one of the luckiest people around. that clears up the Divine System.
Selfish desires or sinful thoughts? That’s So, if you are riding the smooth, calm, and easy
fantastic! waves of life, possessing no inner struggles and
Have you ever met someone who feels guilty challenges, you are falling short of providing
about helping an old lady with her heavy your Creator with a mainstay of His diet. Sure,
packages, delivering meals to the sick and you can satisfy His sweet tooth, but where is the
infirm, or managing to pray with devotion and meat?
concentration?
Controlling negative temptations is a mitzvah
just like eating matzah on Pesach, taking time
to visit lonely patients at a nursing home, or
dispensing hard-earned money to a worthwhile
cause. Performing a good deed is a cause for
celebration, not the reverse.

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matters.
iGeneration: A Chassidic sage was once asked to explain the
distinction between these two forms of timtum.
The Ism of all Isms His succinct response says it all: “’I think’ is
timtum hamo’ach; ‘I want’ is timtum halev.”

BY R ABBI YOSSI BRAUN The mere pronoun “I” is a form of timtum,


contamination and insensitivity.
True, we are naturally inclined to be self-centered
beings. If you ever looked at a group photo,
“I can’t…” be it a class picture or a family picture, you’ll
“I must…” discover that regardless of
your position in the group,
“I need to…” iPod your eyes will consistently
These sentences or outbursts Music > carry you to your image.
were not copied out of my
Photos > Your post-viewing photo-
two-year-old’s temper tantrum
Videos > analysis will always feature,
first and foremost, the ever
Extras >
manual, nor are they renditions Settings >
from the “teen vs. parent” daily Shuffle Songs popular theme of “did I
performance. Rather, they Now Playing > look good?” or any of its
regularly repeat themselves in derivatives.
our hearts and minds. This is an ingrained,
Often, in response to that soft inborn, natural
or silent inner voice gnawing at MENU predisposition. Natural
our conscience, we will protest tendencies, however, are
that we can’t do it any other not precluded from being
way. listed in the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual
The formula is straightforward of Mental Disorders,
and consistently follows these psychiatry’s encyclopedia.
lines: Think. Want. Blame it on whatever
Must. Can’t. you want—nature,
Spelled out in full, it nurture or neither—
reads as follows: “I think. it is a disorder, and
Therefore, I want. Hence, I of severe proportions.
must. Consequently, I can’t do otherwise.” But we also have an ingrained, inborn, natural
Chassidic literature addresses the wide range cure to this disorder. The soul’s immune system
of spiritual maladies that may confront us constantly produces antibodies to kill spiritual
as individuals. Specifically, it is replete with pathogens.
diagnostic and prognostic information, along While the body is self-centered, the soul is
with suggested cures and solutions to the spiritual anti-body and G-d-centered. So, all our issues,
maladies known as timtum hamo’ach (dullness challenges, and concerns boil down to the
of the mind) and timtum halev (dullness of the million-dollar question: I or Him?
heart). These describe an individual whose mind
and heart have become “contaminated”—i.e., he There is something strange about the English
is rough, insensitive, and unresponsive to spiritual language. The “I” rule. The nominative form of

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the singular first-person pronoun, “I,” along with The threat comes from somewhere else
all its contractions (I’ll, I’m, etc.), are always altogether—I-ism. While the isms of the past are
written in uppercase letters. There’s absolutely no fading into oblivion and coming to an end, the
grammatical reason that the solitary majuscule “I” disorder is taking advantage of the vacuum
“I” should tower above “you,”’ “us” “he” or the and rearing its ugly head. The shallowness
royal “we.” Consider what effect capitalizing “I” and emptiness of past-post-modernism have
but not “you” may have on English speakers. created a vanity fair—a world that is completely
self-absorbed and self-obsessed but internally
The most recent outbreak of this infectious
impoverished, externally successful but
disease has reached epidemic proportions and
possessing an inner emptiness.
should set alarm bells ringing. I am referring
(sorry, that should have been “i am referring,” It is an “i,” but in lower case. An “i” that is empty
in the lower case; actually who needs the and void, lacking inner dignity and pride. Ours
“I” altogether? That should really be “this is is a generation of chutzpah—brazenness and
referring”) to our generation, the iGeneration. arrogance, without having a leg to stand on.
We are a generation which is self-obsessed: iPod,
This is good news. Why so? Because emptiness
iTunes, iPhone, iPad, and iBook. Or MySpace.
is—guess what—empty. It doesn’t present a
Gone are the days of email, eBook and eBay; challenge. All that is necessary is to fill the void
it’s all about “I” now. (By some fluke chance, with truth and genuineness.
YouTube, the pioneer of the “broadcast yourself”
Put simply: Treating a sick person is a daunting
industry, wasn’t named iTube).
exercise. Aside from being time-consuming and
In our blood cell count, the “I” count is very expensive, you’ve got to know what you’re doing
high. “I need it and I need it now” is the motto and, even then, it is uncertain whether you will
of the day (make that hour, minute, second, succeed. But treating a hungry person is simple.
millisecond, microsecond, or nanosecond). A drink of water and a morsel of bread is all it
takes to do the job. And you’re a definite winner.
And we better do something about it fairly
quickly… like, NOW. Our generation, the iGeneration, are hungry
souls. Filling ourselves with the sweet waters of
But, wait a second, isn’t the iGeneration using
Torah or relishing the taste of approaching G-d in
the lower-case “i”? Indeed, modern email culture
prayer will immediately fill that craving.
negates all uses of capitalization (and even
correct spelling, for that matter). The “i-ism” will go the way of all other “isms.”
The iGeneration will soon be replaced with the
Aha! We just hit the nail on the head.
IGeneration, THE CAPITAL AND UPPER CASE
In the past, people were plagued by isms of all I, referring to the one and only I, the I of all other
sorts (e.g., agnosticism, atheism, socialism, i-s.
pantheism, etc.). Religion was confronted with
Our G-d-centered soul will successfully have
the challenge of tackling with these isms head-on.
fought off our high i-count and will be given the
Philosophical arguments were postulated, texts
all clear to go home.
were brutally analyzed, and roles were redefined –
all in an effort to fight the contemporary “ism.”
Nowadays, the “ism” gods have virtually
disintegrated and been buried in the local
ji
junkyard. No longer does the believer feel
threatened by the onslaught of “isms” currently in
vogue.

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Inner Dignity
On Mannerisms
& Modesty

By Rabbi Yossi Braun

Q. My Mom is big into mannerisms. She keeps


on lecturing to me about the role of knives and
forks, sitting upright at the Shabbat meal (I would
prefer to recline...) and how casual wear is not
appropriate.

Does the Torah have what to say about this stuff?

A. The Torah encourages reclining at meals,


dipping your fingers into your food, and wearing
ripped clothing. It is only a question of where and Q
Q. I never heard about this
this. Be it as it may
may, what
when. does this have to do with tzni’us? This isn’t a
neckline and hemline issue?
At the Seder table we are expected to recline
to symbolize freedom; at a bris the mohel dips A. Many people see tzni’us as a rule or a ritual.
his finger into the cup of wine (many follow the Just as we have specific guidelines how to cut out
custom of dipping their finger in the havdala wine nails and how to wash our hands, the Torah gives
too) and mourners are instructed to wear ripped us technical instructions about how we dress.
clothing.
In truth, tzni’us has nothing to do with necklines
The implication is that, ordinarily, we should sit and hemlines. In other words, one can keep all
still when we eat, eat with forks and knives, and the technical rules of tzni’us and miss the essence
dress elegantly. of tzni’us. You can cover up from top to bottom
yet expose much more.
Q. I get you. But is there anything inherently
wrong with being casual and free spirited? The term tzni’us is rooted in the verse “hatznay’a
leches im Hashem elokecha” — “Walk discreetly
A. Yes, it is a lack of tzni’us (modesty). with your G-d” (Micah 6:8). This verse describes
our inner relationship with G-d. Tznius,
Q. Tzni’us? I dress very modestly. I cover my accordingly, is actually all on the inside.
elbows, knees, necklines, the works... I just prefer
tee shirts and casual style clothing. Q. Why then is the requirement to “cover up”
always referred to as the laws of tzni’us?
A. Torah places an emphasis on dignified
appearance — in dress, in posture, in everything. A. Because it is our inner dignity that propels us
to dress in a certain way.

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The manner by which so many people clothe literally, a “part of G-d,” as it were. The only
themselves in public these days reveals a lack of way to enhance this inner dignity is by looking
self-worth that is unfortunately all too common inward, in search of our inner holiness.
today. In order to attract attention or in the name
of comfort and informality, people will present Every one of us is a ben melech, a child of the
themselves to others in the worst possible way, King of kings. This is our true source of pride and
against their own self-interest. the ultimate root of our inner confidence.

Q. Why do you think people are acting like this? The eishes chayil is described by Shlomo
haMelech (Mishlei 31:25) as a woman who
A. Kabbalah teaches that we all possess ten key dresses in “garments of strength and regality.”
character traits, comprised of three intellectual Her strength lies in her persistence and fortitude
faculties and seven emotional attributes. We have in withstanding peer
been granted the intellectual capacity for wisdom pressure. She does
(chochmo), understanding (bina), and knowledge In a value-free not need acceptance
(da’as). And emotionally, our soul possesses the society —free from others. Her
inner gifts of love (chesed), discipline (g’vura), of morals, free self-value comes
harmony (tiferes), endurance (netzach), humility of standards— from the fact that
(hod), bonding (yesod) and dignity (malchus). she is regal; it stems
where virtue and from her inner
While the score for intelligence quotients and purity do not royalty.
perhaps even emotional intelligence might be on readily trade in
the rise, many of us have failed the malchus (inner Q. Okay, back to
dignity) test.
the marketplace, casual clothing and
many also live slouching on the
True, we got nine out of ten on the exam, but we free of feelings couch during the
missed the fine print—that this tenth question is meal...
of self-worth,
worth more points than the other nine combined.
self-respect, and A. So whether
In a value-free society —free of morals, free of dignity. And thus, one dresses
standards—where virtue and purity do not readily one’s dignity can inadequately (non-
trade in the marketplace, many also live free of kosher necklines),
feelings of self-worth, self-respect, and dignity. be violated.
ostentatiously (loud
And thus, one’s dignity can be violated. and gaudy styles) or
casually (untidy and baggy), it is all an expression
Q. So how does one go about ‘getting’ self- of lack of tzni’us. Therefore your posture or table
dignity? manners can equally indicate an awareness of
tzni’us or lack thereof.
A. Self-worth and dignity come from within;
they are rooted in the very depths of one’s You are a walking advertisement. What you wear,
consciousness. They have nothing to do with how you sit, and your manner of eating, will
feeling good about ourselves, nor whether our either advertise your skin-deep physical properties
parents, educators, or friends think highly of us or or display your values and inner royal persona.
not. Letting others establish our standards implies
that we are depending upon someone else’s image,
rather than our own.

Malchus is a sense of dignity and majesty born of


ji
the knowledge that each of us has a soul within—

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Why is my
Davening so
Boring?
By Rabbi Yossi Braun

Question:
My davening is getting rusty and stagnant. I find
that whether I daven at home or in shul, it is
outright boring and sleep inducing.
What is the secret formula for inspirational
prayer?
-Uninspired

the planet endlessly without a goal in sight, just


Answer: because you’re not in the mood of work. What
do you do on a bad hair day, those days when
Here comes the secret formula, passed down Murphy’s Law is in full swing, when it’s time to
from-generation-to-generation. go out to an important business meeting/party/
You’ll need a coin, a pool of water, a brain, and dinner/shul function?
some reading material. That should do the job. Here are three tried and tested techniques to get
First, please allow me to elaborate on the you rolling and moving:
effectiveness of this well-tried and time-tested a. Take a shower.
formula.
b. Force a smile “just for so-and-so.”
I agree with you wholeheartedly that worshipping
our Creator should never be boring, drab, and c. Apply yourself to the task(s) at hand —
dull. But, c’mon Mr. Uninspired—I don’t know and you’re off.
what you do for a living, but do you really A shower refreshes and invigorates your body.
think I was in the mood of writing this article? Forcing a smile for someone else might just put
My desk was piled high with “requires urgent you in the right frame of mind. Maybe. Just
attention” folders, I had a million things on my maybe. Worth a try.
head, my inbox kept on popping and flashing
with new URGENT, IMPORTANT chores and Obviously, it only works if you’re willing to “do
responsibilities, RED-FLAGGED to deal with something about it.” Sitting and kvetching about
NOW, and, to top it all off, I was in one of those your fate and mood will get you nowhere. You’ll
“I just can’t be bothered” moods. remain “sitting and kvetching about your fate and
mood” until you decide to stand up.
You know those days where you surf the web or

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Brochure Braun.indd 14 8/30/2010 2:32:20 AM
Same with davening. One must invest in it in How can you
order to get the maximum benefit. As a wise As a wise man put appreciate davening
man put it, “Many people daven for ten minutes it, “Many people if you know
because they find it boring. In truth, they daven for ten nothing about
find it boring because they only daven for ten minutes because it? The study of
minutes”. What you get out of davening is often Chassidus explores
proportional to how much you put into it. they find it boring. your relationship
In truth, they find with G-d and His
Here are three tried and tested techniques that
it boring because relationship with
can ‘get you rolling’ in prayer:
they only daven you, and gets you
Dunk in the mikvah, drop a coin in the pushka, focused on the
and engage in serious study of Chassidus—and for ten minutes”. important things in
you’re on. life. When we get
keyed up about who
A shower invigorates your body; mikvah purifies
He is and what He means to us, engaging him
you soul. Leave the shower and you’re fresh
in conversation will no longer be lackluster. The
and clean—a changed person; come out of the
more time we spend with Him, the greater our
mikvah and your soul is cleansed and purified—a
craving for spending more time with Him.
recharged spirit.
You’ve got the formula; go with it. It works. Just
Recent studies have proven that forcing a smile
don’t keep it a secret.
actually causes the brain to release endorphins,
having a calming effect on you. Ancient studies
have long recognized that tossing coins into a
pushka actually causes the soul to release divine
energy and spiritual vibes. ji

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Brochure Braun.indd 16
Rabbi Braun’s illustrious grandfather
requests a bracha from the Rebbe that his
young grandson Yossi, whom he refers to
as a great lamdan, continue to succeed in
Torah-learning. The Rebbe answers:

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‫ס'איז דאך דא א כלל‬
,‫אז קדושה אינה זזה ממקומה‬
.‫ובפרט קדושת התורה‬
It is axiomatic that
holiness does not depart
from its place—
particularly the holiness of Torah.

8/30/2010 2:42:42 AM
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