Healing & Spirituality

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Healing and Spirituality

Toward a Meaningful Life with Simon Jacobson
Radio Show Transcript – February 4, 2001

Rabbi Simon Jacobson: Good evening and welcome to another edition of Toward a Meaningful Life. We’re on every Sunday from 6-7pm on WEVD 1050AM, talking about your life and our lives and how to find deeper meaning.

The basis and principles of this show have always been that the architect of life, G-d, gave us a blueprint that allows us to illuminate and access our inner psyches and our inner selves. By looking into that blueprint, we can learn to align our outer lives with our inner lives and thus find deeper meaning.

As always, I always appreciate your calls and emails.

Tonight, I’m honored to have a special guest, but first let me give you some background into the subject we’ll be discussing. One of the big things that you hear about lately is the interface between areas and schools of thought that once were seen as mutually exclusive, whether it’s science and faith, faith and reason, and of course medicine and the spirituality of healing.

Healing and spirituality is a topic that I’ve always wanted to address on this show. Recently, especially in the last few decades, a lot of talk, books, shows have focused on the mind, spirit and healing, and how faith plays a role in all of this. Of course skeptics will ask whether this is real or just what people want to believe.

So tonight’s show is called “Healing and Spirituality”; finding insights into meaningful healing as opposed to symptomatic healing. The guest I’ve invited on, whom I’m sure will inspire and also enlighten us all, is a man called Herschel Lazaroff, who is a gifted man on a mission. His website describes him as: “using techniques culled from a number of sources—psychics, quantum mechanics, bau-biology, kinesiology.” He serves as a conduit for healing energy and has been acclaimed by many people, both skeptics and believers, as someone who has been effective.

I’ve heard good things about him, so I felt it was appropriate and an honor to have him on the show. So let me welcome Hershel. Hershel is based in Baltimore, Maryland and he uses Torah and spirituality in active healing and helping people. How many years have you been working in healing, Herschel?

Herschel Lazaroff: Approximately five years. I’m from the Midwest and I went to school in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan. I found that there is a spiritual component to my unnourished spiritual side when I was in school, and after I left Ann Arbor and moved to the East Coast in order to “strike it rich” with the other half that I now have called the wife, I became involved in food, healing with food. My wife, who is a physical therapist, got me involved in a form of energy work called Health Kinesiology, which is a process of accessing information from the body using a muscle-testing device and employing different forms of pressure and batteries, etc., to open up blocks we have in our body to heal. It is similar to what someone would do perhaps if you went to an acupuncturist or someone who practices Reiki.

Now to give some background, when I came out to the East Coast, I did have a commercial whole wheat organic bakery and I loved to bake challahs, which is braided bread used for the seventh day in the Jewish holiday, the Sabbath. I made Jacob’s Table Challah: “From my table to yours…a challah that rises to the occasion.”

So I was hands-on. But if people ended up looking like my challahs, either overbaked or with too many seeds on top, it wouldn’t be good!

Jacobson: Or overinflated.

Lazaroff: Yeah, well that’s why we have matzahs, because you have to have a balance—the duality of life, challahs or matzahs.

But I found that there is a form of healing called “Healing the Thought” and I said, “Wow, what a novel way to work with people.” And once I realized that this is a valid modality I wanted to try it. But it wasn’t enough for me, so I went back to my background in particle physics and saw that energy could be moved in many different ways; it’s been shown that you can heal with thoughts, and prayer is a thought. You can have a wishful prayer for someone and somehow that person may end up being healed. This has been quantified. People may know the work that Dr. Larry Dosseyhas done in statistically quantifying the power of prayer to heal others. There is a statistically significant percentage of people who are healed vis-à-vis prayer.

So if you have a thought, is that enough? Well, I found that there’s more than just a thought. It’s not just what you think, it’s how you think. You know the old adage, “If you think good it will be good.” And maybe from this emanated the first person who started psycho-immunology: mind over matter, or in scientific terms, mind over what matters, perhaps.

Jacobson: Lawrence Taylor,the linebacker of the New York Giants, was once asked about playing while he was injured and he responded, “It’s mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Lazaroff: That’s right. It only jacks up the orthopedic bills, which is very good! By the way, I was a fullback on my high school football team. And things did matter to me.

Jacobson: So you developed the idea that thought and how you think affects the actual energy flow?

Lazaroff: Exactly. Thoughts and energy flow are connected. Whether we have a good thought or a negative thought does affect how we feel. Negative thoughts have been shown to actually weaken you, deplete your production of T-cells or thymus cells which affect the immune system or vasoconstrictors. Positive thoughts have the opposite effect. Positive thoughts produce endorphins and serotonin which make you feel good.

If you can engender in someone the concept of thinking good and it will be good, that starts a new field of healing. Once you think you can be healed, and know that you can be healed, it sets everything in motion. It’s part of an overall Divine plan that we know about because the architect of life, whom I will call G-d, looked into a blueprint, which I will call Torah, and told us: I’m going to create the remedy before I create the illness. So you know there’s a way out.

Jacobson: In a sense, built into every illness is a cure.

Lazaroff: The possibility to be cured is built in but you have to look.

Jacobson: About your background, did you grow up with Torah?

Lazaroff: I grew up with a modified form of the blueprint, and sometimes when you modify a blueprint, the house isn’t exactly what you would like to have. So yes, I did have some semblance of a kosher home, so to speak. We had dairy and meat and sometimes the dairy and meat would mix. And we did have Shabbos candles and I did have a bar mitzvah and I think I put tefillin on once right after my bar mitzvah and then I found a safe deposit box for them so they wouldn’t get worn out — G-d forbid they should lose their lustre!

I was introduced to spirituality by an adherent of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Ann Arbor who made me aware that there’s something more in life than just the physical, tangible, that you can just taste or touch. By realizing that there is a means to enable you to open your eyes and see something other than physical, that got me to look — and I looked at what I knew best, atoms and molecules.

Jacobson: You’re a trained physicist I gather.

Lazaroff: Correct.It came to me that if molecules are composed of atoms, and there’s something called sub-atomic particles which by definition aren’t really particles, because a particle is what? Something that has some sort of even miniscularspace, by definition, even if it’s a nanometer.to come into being at some place at some time. So if what I am made of, so to speak, is some sort of quantum field that may or may not come into being, then am I here or not here? Well obviously I am here.

I realized that maybe spirituality based on this context has a basis in quantum field theory, quantum mechanics, and that Einstein’s theory of E=mc2 has another meaning, or it could be emunah, faith!

Jacobson: Let me ask you another question. What do you say to most physicists or scientists who don’t necessarily make that bridge and they in a sense limit their research to the physical or, let’s call it the sub-atomic level of the physical or quantum?

You made this bridge, and not just philosophically, because you work with healing. Clearly you see the energy of thoughts as a true bridge, as you said, think good and it will be good, that good thoughts actually affect your energy flow. What do you say to the skeptic or physicist and so many others who continue to maintain that they’re either atheists or agnostics or don’t necessarily make that jump?

Lazaroff: One can be a good observer, which doesn’t mean you’re a good interpreter. So you have a lot of facts, but how do you interpret those facts? An article I read recently, which I think was penned by Dr. Larry Dossey, talks about people who are “meaning challenged,” which means that you see all these events but how do you connect them? And what’s the cause of all of these events?

Jacobson: Let’s go back for a second and reconnect it to the theme of the show.The bottom line is that many people talk about Torah or their experience with G-d or religion and see it at best as some type of traditional heritage: you sit at a Sedertable or you go to Yom Kippur services, either out of guilt or out of responsibility or compulsion. Or people don’t go at all because they think it’s irrelevant. And seeing that you discovered in Torah, and the spirit of Torah, the things you’re describing, and actually working with it—working on the principles of discovering in this blueprint ways of helping people grow and heal—clearly demonstrates in a very powerful way the role of G-d or the role of spirit in healing.

This is something that medicine may be acknowledging, but it has not yet become the cornerstone of healing. I mean, if one were to say that G-d is the ultimate healer, as it says in Torah, “Ani Hashem refo’echa,” “ I, G-d, am your healer,” and G-d gives the power of healing to human beings through doctors and through healers, then clearly it’s not some incidental factor. That’s where the heart of healing lies.

So I’d like your reactions to that: first of all, the medical community at large and how you see the future evolving in that direction, and the crucial role that spirit plays in even physical medicine and all forms of it.

Lazaroff: Well, that’s a very good point, Simon. Recently it’s been brought to my attention that there are actually devices that seem to be able to measure that which is not merely physical.

Over the summer, when I was in Toronto, it was brought to my attention that there was a program on the Oprah Show where some doctors and scientists created a very sophisticated device that can determine up to three years in advance what major illness you may have and they put you through very specific protocols and drugs to stave off this very major illness. They noticed something unusual in the tissue as part of this analysis that is not defined as physical, and they called it spiritual. And along with all the physical protocols and modalities and adjunctives administered in the clinical setting to whomever, there’s also a group of spiritual gurus that come in that help everything stick.

Now, what’s employed may vary from practitioner to practitioner but it’s there, it’s known, it’s been televised. Recently in the last week I spoke to someone who has the device and is able to analyze emotional, physical, and what he calls thespiritual, and when I asked, “What’s your definition of the spiritual?” part of what came up in simple terms is, “That which is beyond the pale of understanding; that’s why I use my computer.” And so, who programmed your computer? And so if it’s not G-d, then how do you get out the spiritual? In pure, absolute terms, the real question is, can anything physical really measure the spiritual?

One of the reasons that scientists wanted to see the $7 billion linear accelerator built somewhere in America was to find that there is a building block in nature beyond the physical that they knew was G-dly and spiritual. By definition, we can’t break apart the physical in order to see the spiritual, but there is a way. And I call that way non-cognitive reality because you can use your mind toascertain many sentient things. However, beyond that, what can you do with your mind? Can you see the spiritual? Can you touch the spiritual?

This is where the knowledge of Torah can come in, or even on a more rarefied level, the knowledge of the esoteric in Torah, beyond what is printed, but that which was received in a realm called Kabbalah, that talks about this interface at great length.

And the knowledge that we have the means to move the spirit so to speak in order to heal. That’s how G-d planned it.

Jacobson: Let me give you one question to think about over the break. You were saying how good thoughts actually change your energy. The thing is, there are some people who simply cannot bring themselves to have good thoughts, either due to the haunting scars of their childhood or other issues like low self-esteem. I’d like to know what you do when you can’t control your thoughts.

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Jacobson: Okay, we’re back with Herschel Lazaroff. I’ve heard some of the reactions of some of the people that you’ve helped, and you can’t argue with success, even if you’re a skeptic like me! But I’d like to hear your thoughts on the question I asked you. The line you quoted is from the Tzemach Tzedek, a Chassidic Rebbe, who said, “Think good and it will be good.” Clearly it’s not just a nice little thought, it has, as you so eloquently described, very practical application.

What about a person who just can’t bring himself to think well or can’t think good thoughts? I’m not looking for a quick gimmick, because I know there’s no quick answer to that, but how do you address that?

Lazaroff: It’s a very good question. The first thing I try to establish is knowing that the entire plan of creation is predicated on good, on love — that everything is good. Chessed olam yiboneh. G-d created everything with goodness and kindness. And that’s the basis for creation.

Now it may be trite to say in all circumstances “this is also good,” (as someone in the past is quoted as always saying: “Gamzu le’tova,” “This too is good”) because how do you see the good in very complicated or traumatic issues that have occurred in our own lives and instances? That’s problematic.

So once you establish that everything has a basis rooted in good, what I want people to establish in their own lives is something called “flow.” Things should go easily. Things should come to you and you shouldn’t have to scramble to make another dollar, to make this relationship always come out the way you’d like it to come out through arduous labor. When you know it could happen and it could come to you because you have this as your goal, then part of the success is knowing that this success is a gradual process and there are ups and downs, that’s part of life.

But by thinking good you accomplish two things: You can actualize your goal and help avoid and mitigate tremendously the number of negative influences in your life. Like a laser. Cutting through the vicissitudes and exigenciesin life in order to reach that goal.

Sometimes the outcome may not be what you had in mind, but by thinking good you employ the powers of healing and the accessible forces in the cosmos that can make it happen for us in a very tangible, profound way of revealed good.

Jacobson: You know, that’s the Catch-22: a prisoner can’t free him or herself. Obviously that’s where the role of the healer comes into play. If we could just make a statement to the world, “Think good and it will be good,”and find the good in everything, nobody would need any healers because people could just access it themselves.

But if a person is in that Catch-22 situation where they can’t bring themselves to think that way, what do you do? Is it just a matter of education? Do you spend time inspiring them and just saturating them with good thoughts?

Lazaroff: That’s a very good point. Let me put it to you this way. I don’t believe that one modality or protocol can help one individual. Usually, there’s a team approach, a multi-disciplinary approach, whether you’re going to your doctor who’s conventionally trained, or to a complementary specialist of some form or another. There’s usually a team effort.

If you look into the Torah as a source of how doctors have their “supernal” license for healing, you’ll see that G-d gave license to humans in the form of v’rapeh, y’rapeh which means“You will heal.” And this is how physicians came about so to speak.

It’s also known that in a specific time and a specific place a certain person using specific drugs, herbs or modalities can get better. But what if you want to speed up the process and find a catalyst? If you look at the numerical value of the words v’rapeh, y’rapeh you’ll see that it’s the same as pidyon nefesh, giving over your soul to someone who’s inspiring that can help you, that catalyst is inspiration.

If you’re spiritually inspired and know that there’s more to life than just what you see and feel and touch (and that it’s also inside of us which we access through the actions that we do every day in a spiritually meaningful way vis-à-vis the 613 commandments that are incumbent upon Jews and the 7 Laws of Noah that are incumbent upon non-Jews), then we have another framework for looking into how to do what I do to engender a sense of stability, psychological calm, tranquility, and peace. But also it brings meaning, and we all search for meaning. It’s the meaningful acts that bring meaning to our lives.

Jacobson: So it’s not just introducing thoughts, it’s also introducing modalities of behavior to actually open up channels.

So in your own experience, how have you seen this process demonstrated, or things that have affected you most deeply, or resonated in these spiritual parallels in the healing process? And what are some of the methods that you’ve used?

Lazaroff: In creation, there is something called a leitmotif. This can be witnessed whether you look at the field of physics (the science of the unified field theory, a theory connecting all forms of measurable energy and forces in the world), or whether you look in linguistics where there are deepstructures as Noam Chomsky, a linguist, calls them, and other fields.

There’s a reason why sparrows go to Capistranoand not to Martinique. It’s not because they got a better deal from some travel agent. Our Sages have taught us that the fabric of creation has something in it called spiritual DNA which is an antecedent to the physical DNA. It’s known in the teachings of Kabbalah that there are Sefirot, ten spheres of spiritual influence that make up the structure of spiritual existence. As an analogy, people have heard the term “chakras” from the Eastern approach, these confluences of energy that are in our body. In my own system I would use this spiritual DNA described by our Sages as a means of determining what makes a person click. The basis for this is seeing if a person’s energy is in tune with his or her higher self or not. But then, what do you do to maintain the balance of your spiritual DNA? We all have one of one form or another. Some people love to give a lot of money to charity. Some people are very careful with what they eat vis-à-vis keeping the laws of kosher. Some people like to have big mezuzahs up on their doors and others take solace in helping someone get a job.

This is what adds meaning to our lives. Once people see that there’s a spiritual side and a physical side, and that the two synergistically come together, that creates the jump start. As a matter of fact, a friend of yours came to me recently and said, “I see a great logo for you. You have this guy with two cables: one hooked up to you and one to the guy, and that’s the jump start.” And that’s true. But the jumpstart only lasts as long as your motivation—and what motivates a person differs from individual to individual, because each human is different. No two snowflakes in the universe are the same; no two individuals are the same. We all need a different prescription. There are scientific studies that actually corroborate the fact that two people with identical illnesses need totally different protocols and modalities in order to heal.

Jacobson: That’s the motivational side. What about the maintenance side?

Lazaroff: Unfortunately, people often spend more time maintaining their cars than themselves. But there’s actually a very specific mitzvah in the Torah which is, you have to maintain yourself to be healthy. It’s a mitzvah to be healthy, to take care of yourself.

As a matter of fact, I once wrote in to the Rebbe about creating a program for executives about eating healthy foods based upon macrobiotics, and the answer I received was actually that night in a public speech of the Rebbe, in what’s known as a farbrengen, at Lubavitch World Headquarters, 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. He said, in part of the 20-minute speech which answered my question, that in order to have a healthy body, you need to have a healthy soul. But first you need to have a healthy body. The soul needs to be healthy also, but he emphasized the body. You are what you eat. And based upon what we discussed earlier, you are what you think!

And so if you’re eating well and you’re thinking good thoughts, then you can start to develop a maintenance program between what you think (which requires the proper meditation: meditation can be kosher or not kosher also) to how you dress, what kind of air you breathe, supplements you take, and of course prayer. Prayer is important.

Jacobson: So how would you distinguish between your method of healing using Torah and what you would call a successful secular healer. In other words, how does G-d and Torah and mitzvahs actually contribute more than what we’ll call “secular spirituality”?

Lazaroff: Let me reframe that. Let’s say you take two people who are healed. One did it the way you’ve just depicted, through a “secular healer” as you put it, and another used my approach, or a Torah approach (it’s not my approach, because there are many people who heal using other modalities that are in the spiritual realm, not just what I’m doing). What’s the difference? You have two people who are healed—they’re healed! The symptoms that they initially presented are gone.

The way I like to look at it is this. But first let me preface it with something someone  once said to me about the effect of making a blessing over food.

The person happened to be a psychic (he was also actually observant), and he happened to see things. He saw light go into his wife when she made a blessing and light go up out of his wife after the blessing. Light. That’s the difference. The word for blessing in the formulaic version we use is Boruch, “Blessed art Thou….” Making a blessing on whatever you’re eating or doing whatever mitzvah starts formulaically with the word Boruch. Boruch is also related to the word to bring down or draw down light. And so, ultimately, when you heal, vis-à-vis a spiritual modality (I personally believe this from what I’ve seen and what I’ve learned from my masters) we bring in a new form of light to the world that not only raises the consciousness of the person being healed but also of those around him or her and the world at large. I think that’s the difference.

Jacobson: It always seemed to me that the concept of G-d as opposed to spirituality always had the component of humility, as opposed to selfish self-actualization. Many spiritual people are just arrogant, but they’re arrogant through spirituality.

I guess humility is a big factor. We alluded to it earlier but in the sense that healing is more of a channeling than a creating. It’s not you or I or anyone who can create anything, and humility has a big impact on this whole thing.

Have you seen that in actuality?

Lazaroff: Yes I have. If you want to talk about humility we can go back to the “forerunner” of humility, and that’s Moses. He was the most humble of all people and look how great he was. So he was humble but he knew his worth; he knew who he was.

And so from a healing perspective, giving has a lot to do with healing. When you’re employing these methodologies, a significant part is imparted to whom you’re helping, because you have the desire to give over what you’ve been given. Let’s say it’s a G-d-given authority and a G-d-given talent and strength, a koach (power), and by doing good in other realms in your life, that engenders an ability in the healer to give over more of this universal, divine energy in order to promote a change.

Jacobson: Does any case study come to mind, something that inspired you or moved you deeply?

Lazaroff: I’ll give one or two. One is with a woman, and part of the process deals with looking at which mitzvah or two could be beneficial in helping you.

Jacobson: Was this a secular woman?

Lazaroff: Yes. I said to her, why don’t you light candles for Shabbos? And she said, you know, I was married for many years and I’ve been divorced for an equal number of years and I used to light candles when I was married. Since I got divorced I stopped. And on top of that I live in a small apartment and I have pets that could knock over the candles. It could be a dangerous situation. I don’t know if I could do it. And on top of all that, I’m really Reform.

So I said to this woman, you know, I don’t know if you’re Reform. Let’s say you’re uninformed and you can’t make an objective decision without sufficient information. So she said, all right. I mean, she couldn’t argue with the fact!

At that time she was going on a vacation somewhere, either Tahiti or Hawaii, and when she came back, she called me and said, “Hershel, I lit candles and it had an impact. It changed my life.” And I said, “Why is it different now than when you used to light candles years ago?” “Well, with everything else that we talked about and the blocks I had, issues with whomever, and the homework you gave me, I started to light candles and I saw a new light. I just felt this energy come to me and this peace. I never had such peace. And I’m calm. I took a dose of Shabbos candles and that’s what did it.”

Jacobson: And that unblocked her?

Lazaroff: That was part of it. That deals with the spiritual blocks, although there are other instances where I’ve worked with more tangible blocks, but I think you’re referring to more of a spiritual block?

Jacobson: Not necessarily. Give another example of something that didn’t involve a spiritual block.

Lazaroff: Okay, I had a woman come to me. She and her husband were trying to have children for 18 years, and when I worked with her it came out that she had an issue with a high school classmate years ago. It seemed very innocuous and to the average bystander, who would care if so and so did something to me that was so innocuous? It came and went in a heartbeat.

And we dissected it for about half an hour and the energy release was so powerful I almost flew out of my chair. She took to heart what came out through the session. Her husband took it to heart and he put over their entire apartment the words, “Think good and it will be good.” Within two weeks she conceived. The baby is now a couple of years old.

Jacobson: Okay, we’re going to take some calls if anyone has any questions after this break.

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Jacobson: We’re back with Herschel Lazaroff. Obviously we’re going to need you on other shows because there’s so much to talk about. We have Marsha on line one.

Caller: Hi. I was raised like you were, and about 20 years ago I became little by little more frum (religious) and before that I had been interested in yoga and meditation. At this point I feel like I want to combine the two, like I want to go back to doing meditation and yoga.

Lazaroff: You sound like my wife! We had this talk before I left this morning.

Caller: My question is, is it kosher to do that? I’ve been doing it lately and once I went to a Jewish Meditation Workshop and the man just talked so much, we couldn’t meditate.

Lazaroff: Well, I could teach you a very simple meditation. Meditation does work and if you pray every day, that’s also meditation, but if you need something a little more formulaic, you could meditate on the word shalom. When you breathe in, have in mind the syllable sha, and when you breathe out have in mind the syllable lom. That’s a great starter. But if you’ve done meditation, you may want something a little more involved. Does that sound like you?

Caller: No this sounds good because this would be something good to focus on and then I would feel like it’s a Jewish thing. I wouldn’t question it.

Lazaroff: Well, shalom means peace, G-d, good-bye, hello. So that’s a good start. If you want something a little more complicated, call back after the show. There are derivatives of the way shalom is spelled and you can put the different letters in different parts of your body and have it affect you in more profound ways.

Caller: Like if I use another word like “om,” is that not kosher?

Lazaroff: Well, some of these words that people use in TM come from deities, and because they meditate on something that may have been used for idol worship, it’s questionable and it’s better to stay with a safe word.

Jacobson: We have Lorraine on the phone.

Caller: I live in Riverdale, and what I really want to know is how I can find a Chassidic synagogue that also says the prayers in English, because my philosophy is most in line with the Chassidim. When I go to a regular synagogue, I get depressed.

Jacobson: So Lorraine, stay on the line and I’ll have Philip, the producer of the show, take your name and number, and we’ll put you in touch with someone. But I appreciate your call. Let’s go to Shifra.

Caller: I have had the merit of learning Torah and always had a very good body image as a teenager but then in my studying I felt that my body was a temple, and when I said berachas I did feel that light. But as the Rabbi knows, I had an operation and I asked my doctor how many stitches I had and I had 26, which is the numerical equivalent of the name of Hashem, but I feel that now my body has been desecrated and I think I really went into a little depression. In other words, my temple in the operation has been cut and I wanted to share this with you and what you would suggest for people who have had operations and if they feel deeply that their body is a Beis HaMikdash, not only the body image but how to get that feeling. I’m sure I had a trauma, it was an emergency situation, but I feel that the Beis HaMikdash should become whole again.

Lazaroff: That’s a very good question, Shifra. I don’t know if I can answer the question in brief, but I hope you find this satisfying. Yes, indeed, our body is considered holy and a temple in which G-d resides, but when it’s necessary and when you’ve gone through the means of working with the approved medical establishment methods, which it sounds like you’ve done (and these people have been licensed by G-d to heal), it’s a necessary process in the overall scheme of things. Let’s call it hashgacha pratis, that you went to this doctor at this hospital at a certain time and you needed this as part of your maturational growth on the physical and spiritual and emotional plane. Of course if you feel violated in any way, I wouldn’t discount it, but knowing that it’s part of G-d’s plan and you’re doing all you can to maintain what you have through G-d’s licensed practitioners, you should feel good that you have your strength and your energy back to take care of yourself and your family and G-d should give you many more years of feeling good about yourself and others, and be careful.

Jacobson: Okay, let’s go to Cathy on the air.

Caller: Hello. I have an awful lot of bad habits. I’m counting all the time. I can’t stop counting. I would like to be able to meditate. I’m very religious. I go to church every morning. I’m Catholic but I don’t know how to meditate.

Lazaroff: Well the fact that you’re always counting is good because things that are important in your life, you count, so you obviously you find many things of meaning in your life. You probably have been listening to this show for a long time and have found meaning in everything. And so if you want to meditate, the suggestion I gave the young lady a while ago was to use the word shalom. You may use another word if you like, something that resonates with you, and have that in mind. And have in mind that you’re taking the powers of your soul to another realm and this realm you are uniting with what you understand G-d’s light to be, and specifically, G-d without intermediaries.

Jacobson: Thank you. Let’s go to David.

Caller: I was wondering if you could tell me the effect of health and healing for let’s say anxiety and depression and what it has to do with changing your name. Let’s say if your name is not one of the root soul names like Moses or, you know, a lot of today’s Hebrew names are not really American names, there more like “Tzippy” or whatever, in order to effect overall mental health.

Lazaroff: Well, you’ve asked two questions. One is specifically about an issue, anxiety and depression, and the other is about a name change. A name change does help in healing and you can go to your local Orthodox rabbi and ask for an appropriate name —some names are more appropriate than others. And if you feel and he feels also that it would be beneficial for you, that indeed could be a first step in healing. I would still seek professional bona fide, approved practitioners, whether it’s a psychologist or a psychiatrist, or others in the alternative realm who can give you assistance, but I would look to professionals first in addition to seeking a name change. You should be comforted and things should go well for you, and I’ll give you a blessing for an immediate, speedy recovery.

Caller: Thank you. Could you tell me what causes, especially that it’s so prevalent today, anxiety and depression? What is the root cause of it and what mitzvah can you do to help alleviate it?

Lazaroff: Well, it’s known that simchah poretz geder, joy breaks through all boundaries. I would like, inside of setting up an ideology, what you can do to shift out of it in a very practical way, which is being b’simchah, being happy. There are people who can show you that step by step because every person is different from any other person and the causes of why you are the way you are are different from someone else with a similar issue. So it takes a professional to understand why you are the way you are versus someone else and to give you a specific methodology and establish a program or regimen or what to do, your hishtadlus, your homework so to speak, to help you reach a form of mental well-being.

Jacobson: We have David on the line.

Caller: Thanks a lot Rabbi and Herschel. This show has been a fantastic continuation of my day. I struggled through tefillin this morning with getting over some surgery in my neck. We have Leibel Wolf from Australia coming to talk to us tonight at our Chabad House and he of course has done a lot of meditation tapes.

My question is this. If we have these struggles that we carry around, excess baggage… it says in this week’s parsha that after 40 years a man attains a full grasp of his knowledge. Does that mean we have to work on this thing for 40 years when we start to learn? Or does it mean 40 years of age? I mean, do I have to wait until I’m 88 before I get a full grasp?

Lazaroff: Real quickly, the answer is hamaaseh hu ha’ikar, the essential thing is to just do it. You don’t have to wait because the benefits are immediate.

Jacobson: Particularly when sometimes the 40 years are cumulative: it could be perhaps in the merit of your parents and grandparents who have already done the work. Remember, we live in a generation where we suffered greatly, and collective pain works in a great way. G-d counts all those years together, so we have many more than 40 years behind us.

Let’s go to Ellen.

Caller: Hello Rabbi. I have a suggestion for Shifra, who asked something earlier. There’s a little prayer that I say every morning and it goes, “In my heart I will erect a sanctuary to glorify His honor, and in the sanctuary I will place an altar to the glories of the splendor for the eternal light I will testify for the sacrifice for my soul, my unique soul.” So if she prays in her heart, the rest of her body will just follow through.

Jacobson: That’s very kind of you.

Caller: And the other thing is that for the lady who’s counting, she means that she counts numbers and that is an obsessive-compulsive thing and there are many medications that can help her. When I say my prayers, I say a general “G-d bless my family,” but then I get specific and I say, please help her with her pregnancy, please help her with her diabetes, and I get specific. I start feeling like I’m directing G-d to what I want instead of letting it be G-d’s judgment, so is it right to pray specifically in addition to a general prayer?

Lazaroff: That is actually a really good question because even though I mentioned studies where prayer (tefillah) does work, when you’re specific you actually bring down a more refined light and you direct that energy more specifically, and that, in my experience, does have a more profound effect. That’s part of what I do. That’s good. Keep it up.

Jacobson: I’m going to have to apologize to those callers who are still holding because I have a few questions that I must ask. Number one, do you have a contact name and number if anyone wants to contact you?

Lazaroff: Well, you can reach me at 443-831-0932. And I have a website. Herschel.net.

Jacobson: And a final question. What suggestion can you make that people can take to begin a process that obviously can be followed up through contacting you or other bona fide healers?

Lazaroff: Well, you just said it. You contact a healer. You contact myself or other people whom you’ve heard about who have reputations, which is important. But if you want something practical to take home or share with a friend, I would suggest making a commitment to honor yourself and to love yourself. When you love yourself, you’ll be able to love others, and from that perspective you develop a sense of worth and self-esteem and engender the feelings that will help you heal and make yourself whole.

Jacobson: Thank you very much Herschel. It’s been a real honor to have you on the show. It just shows how much more there is to talk about and I feel somewhat frustrated in that sense. I want to thank all of our listeners for listening to this show about healing and spirituality, once again demonstrating that you cannot be complete or whole or happy if you don’t nourish your spirit as you do your body.

Have a good evening. See you again next week.

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