May 29, 2024
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May 29, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A little over four years ago, I was living a different life. I had grown up Modern Orthodox with a heavy emphasis on the modern part. My wife and I lived here in Teaneck already but my observance level could best be summed up by my religious views listed on my Facebook profile: “Hedging My Bets.” Even having gone to Yeshiva schools my whole life, I didn’t fully buy into Hashem and the Torah. I wasn’t convinced what the next world held. I didn’t want to “lose out” on all the great things in today’s world by wasting time on religious duties. But I also wasn’t sure the Torah was wrong. So I hedged my bets. I kept what I felt were “the important things”: Shabbat, kashruth, family purity, shul attendance for the major holidays. Everything else lay at the wayside. My troubled marriage was the start of my changing all of this.

Over the eight years we’d been married, things had gone downhill. I was miserable. The details aren’t important but we reached a tipping point. My wife was really upset and I really felt that if I didn’t do something, we’d be calling divorce lawyers the next day. Somewhere deep in the pit of my stomach, I knew I didn’t want to go down that road. So I called my older sister, Chaya, who’d gone through divorce herself, to ask her advice. Long story short, she talked me down from the ledge of divorce and said she was sending me some helpful CDs and a book in the mail. The book she sent me was, “The Garden of Peace,” by Rabbi Shalom Arush, translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody. The CDs were other lessons on marital peace by Rabbis Arush and Brody as well. (Rabbi Arush mostly speaks Hebrew. Rabbi Brody is his prime disciple, translating his work into English and spreading his Torah around the globe.)

Reading “The Garden of Peace” was a much-needed slap in the face for me. I had all these twisted and selfish ideas of what a marriage was and how my wife should be behaving. Until I read the book, no one had really taught me the spiritual basis and purpose for marriage according to Torah and living each day with Hashem. With Hashem’s help, I realized my way of doing things had only been causing me pain. I decided to give The “Garden of Peace”’s way my 100 percent. I was not ready for the miracles that were about to ensue. The changes in my wife and our marriage were nothing short of miraculous! Several times, exact scenes that Rabbi Arush had given as examples in the book played out exactly as he said they would! My wife said and reacted to me in ways I’d have never expected her to if not for Rabbi Arush’s teachings. For the first time in my life, I had touched upon some Truth.

“The Garden of Peace”’s resounding success on my marriage made me decide to read Rabbi Arush’s bestseller on life, “The Garden of Emuna.” The Garden of Emuna focuses on three main principles:

Once a person accepts those pertinent ideas, the challenge in life becomes acting and reacting according to those ideas. I’ll share an example that Rabbi Arush gives in the book that actually happened to me and my wife!

After Pesach one year, my wife got pulled over on our way back to Teaneck. She had been going 82 in a 65 mph zone. Rabbi Arush teaches us that it’s not the officer who pulled us over, its Hashem who pulled us over. Don’t get mad about the ticket. Don’t try and sweet talk the officer. He’s just the stick in Hashem’s loving hand. So we politely greeted the officer and gave him my wife’s license and registration and watched him walk away. I turned to my wife and said, “Well, this ticket is going to be $150+ and 4 points but Hashem is always merciful so if whatever this costs us between fines and increased insurance, it must be a pittance to what we actually deserve. So we need to thank Him. Thank You, Hashem for this speeding ticket. Thank You for Your mercy and kindness.” The officer comes back at this point and says, “So here’s what I’m gonna do: I’m going to write you up for a faulty speedometer. It’ll be about $50 and no points. Drive slower here on out.” My wife and I thanked him and were on our way! I’d been pulled over at least 5-10 times in my life and never had I gotten out of the ticket like that! And this is exactly what Rabbi Arush said would happen in the book! By accepting Hashem’s judgments as merciful and kind and thanking Him, one removes the judgments from over his head altogether. As I’ve heard Rabbi Brody say on the CD: If a person thanks Hashem for his troubles, Hashem responds, “He’s thanking me even with his difficulties? Now I’m going to give him a real reason to thank Me!”

As I continued to grow in Emuna, I happened to hear from someone that Rabbi Brody was going to be in the tri-state area speaking about Emuna. With Divine Providence, my wife agreed to spend Shabbos in Woodmere at her uncle’s house, so that I could experience a Shabbaton with Rabbi Brody at Agudath Israel of Five Towns. I still remember the first thing he said when he started to speak. He asked us, the audience, how many of us believed that Hashem is running the world? We all raised our hands. With a smile on his face, he then asked us, “So why aren’t you smiling?” We all smiled.

Listening to Rabbi Brody’s inspiring words of Emuna was just what I needed to propel me on the right path. I continued to engulf myself in the Emuna books and CDs every day. One CD taught me a better love and respect for Shabbos. Another CD pointed out that when I talk during shul, I’m being inconsiderate and disrespectful to others. Therefore, Emuna says I can expect to experience more inconsideration and disrespect from others. Surprise! As soon as I started shutting my mouth in shul, the world around me got more considerate and respectful as well. I started trying to make all three daily prayers. I started learning in shiurim and chavrusas. (Even my decision last year to have a third child was based on Emuna.) Emuna was starting to take over my life.

Meanwhile, I kept grabbing any chance I could to hear Rabbi Brody in person, and luckily enough, Rabbi Arush as well, the few times he’s been in the U.S. in the past four years. Their hard work to spread Emuna has had such an impact on me. As you’ve now read, “The Garden of Peace” saved my marriage and “The Garden of Emuna” changed my life. I started to feel an interest in wanting to help others to learn Emuna and living every day with Hashem. Eventually, the opportunity arose to bring Rabbi Brody to Teaneck last winter at Shaarei Orah. With Hashem’s blessing, 150 people crowded on a weeknight to learn about “Gratitude: The Master Key to Life’s Blessings.” This past summer, at Bnai Yeshurun, we had another 150 people learn from Rabbi Brody how to use Emuna to unlock their ultimate potential. On Sunday, December 11 at 8 p.m. at Keter Torah in Bergenfield, come hear Rabbi Brody speak about “Starting Over: If You Believe You Can Damage, Believe You Can Fix!” Come to learn Emuna. Come to be inspired. I’ll be there.

By Pinney Wolman

 When he’s not strengthening his own Emuna or helping spread Emuna to others, Pinney Wolman has been a full-time personal trainer in NYC and the Bergen county area for 15 years. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

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