Gifts from Uman

This year in Uman, we received some priceless spiritual gifts from our beloved rabbis. Dennis Rosen is happy to share them with our readers so that they too can enjoy them...

3 min

Dennis Rosen

Posted on 05.09.23

During this year’s trip to Uman for Rosh Hashanah, there were many uplifting and inspirational experiences. For me, one of the biggest highlights occurred on the second night of Rosh Hashanah when Rabbi Lazer Brody and Rabbi Shalom Arush spoke to our group. Each of them gave amazing talks that lasted approximately an hour. I would like to share some of the life-transforming takeaways. 

Rabbi Brody’s Talk

Rabbi Brody said that it’s vital to set a good example for children by praying with enthusiasm and emotion. It’s also important to use our spare time constructively for Torah, prayer, chesed and family related activities. We should not squander our time on passive entertainment like TV and internet surfing. By doing this we teach by example what should be our main priorities in life.


Genuine Judaism requires emuna and joy. We can’t just threaten our children with punishment and hope that they’ll want to study Torah and do mitzvot. We need to demonstrate by our behavior that Torah is the ultimate source of joy and happiness.  Rabbi Arush writes in the Garden of Education: “If you live it you can give it.”


It’s important to do mitzvot and pray with joy, devotion, and intent. Even a parrot can be trained to recite profound concepts by rote. Rabbi Brody told a great story about three parrots that were for sale: one for $10,000, another for $20,000 and a third one for $50,000. A man came into the pet store and was incredulous. He asked the pet store owner why they were so expensive. The pet store owner said that the one that cost $10,000 knew Chumash with commentary by Rashi and was able to recite this by heart.


The man asked the pet store owner about the parrot that cost $20,000. The pet store owner said that this parrot was able to recite all six orders of the Mishna with commentary. Finally, the man said “I’m almost afraid to ask but what does the parrot know that makes it worth $50,000?” The owner said “I’m not sure what he knows. The only thing I can tell you is that when the other two parrots address him they refer to him as ‘Honorable Rabbi’.” 

From This Moment On

Let’s contemplate the infinite value of the mitzvot and realize what a great privilege it is to serve our Father and King. Let’s perform mitzvot with joy, love, energy, and enthusiasm. The value of a mitzvah depends on the joy that is invested in it. Through joyful performance of the commandments we will achieve maximum closeness to the Commander. At the same time, we’ll attract other people to a religiously observant life, especially our family members. 

Rabbi Arush’s Talk

Rabbi Arush discussed the Gemara narrative about two critically sick individuals and two people who were about to be tried for capital offenses. Only one person from each of the sets had his prayers answered. The reason is that they were the only ones to pray a complete prayer.


Rabbi Arush asked how is it possible that in desperate life-and-death situations two of them didn’t pray with proper concentration and intent?


Answer: In order to pray a complete prayer, we must truly believe that Hashem loves us and wants to help us. Only two of them believed and brought this realization into their prayers. The other two men’s prayers lacked this crucial ingredient. Even though they believed in Hashem and prayed to Him, their prayers were flawed and incomplete.


How do we internalize this vital concept? We do this by constantly saying thank you to Hashem. Remembering and expressing thanks for all the kindness we receive from Hashem enables us to realize how much He loves us and wants to help us. This awareness will empower our prayers like nothing else can. 

From This Moment On

Let’s thank Hashem for things large and small. Let’s thank Him for really important things that we may often take for granted. Above all let’s thank him for the things that don’t look good at all. With emuna we realize that everything that happens is from Hashem and is custom tailored to help us achieve our unique mission and soul correction. In this manner we will internalize the reality of Hashem’s love and truly empower our prayers. Our prayers will be complete prayers infused with gratitude and emuna. These will elicit Divine compassion and salvations. 

Gifts to Take Home

Just before the end of Rosh Hashanah, Rabbi Brody explained that we received many gifts in Uman and we’ll open them once we get home. Indeed, we received many spiritual gifts from our rabbis, teachers, friends and reflections on our personal experiences in Uman. The goal is to pray to remember, internalize and apply them once we return home. By doing so we can build stronger vessels to receive more light and become beacons to illuminate others. May we use the wonderful experience in Uman this Rosh Hashanah to uplift our lives and the lives of others.

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