Naaleh – Proving Cyberspace Can Be Personal

25 09 2008

Late in the year of 2006, I came across an interesting website, an “online Torah school.” I was intrigued, and registered for a free trial period. This was before Naaleh went completely Free!
It’s been almost two years since I discovered Naaleh, and it has changed my life. Being able to watch outstanding Torah classes whenever I wanted was impressive enough, but my real turning point started several months ago when Naaleh sent out an email announcing a pilot program. Interested students chose a course, watched one class weekly, took notes, took tests, posted on forums, and wrote a final essay. I enrolled in Rebbetzin Heller’s course on bitachon, “The Meaning of Trust.”

I didn’t realize how much more I’d gain from this program. It brought my learning to a completely different level. Taking notes caused me to follow the class more closely, reviewing my notes helped me understand and retain the lessons much better, and summing it up in the final essay concretized everything I had learned. The course itself taught me the most important thing I have ever learned – how to relate to and bring Hashem into every part of my life. It awakened me to be much more aware of Hashem and, at least now, I know how to redirect my thoughts and deeds to make Hashem the center of my picture.

One of my favorite things about Naaleh is the depth and scope of the learning on the site. The above course had eleven classes, each about an hour long, and in every class Rebbetzin Heller went into clear detail about a different area of bitachon. It’s incredible! I very much enjoyed her teachings on tzniut and achdut, as well as all of her lessons, which I found to be strikingly insightful, refreshing, and beautifully real.

Besides for the actual learning, at Naaleh you get to know these exceptional teachers a little bit – and that is truly inspiring. When Rebbetzin Heller gives a class, she smiles at the video camera, as if we are right there in front of her. She sincerely cares about us far-off and unknown students. When she talks about painful issues, you can feel the compassion and understanding flowing through the screen. In the new question/answer sessions, the connection was powerful. If you don’t believe cyberspace could be so personal, after Naaleh you’ll believe it.

I can never thank Naaleh enough for everything they’ve given me. What they put together is revolutionary. May Hashem bless all the wonderful people who make Naaleh a reality.

Ayelet Elbaz – Long Branch, NJ

My World Changed When I Found Naaleh

25 09 2008

My decision to become a religious Jew was purely intellectual.  I was living a very secular life in California with my husband and our 4 young children when my husband suddenly wanted to become more observant.  I strongly identified myself as a Jew, but I didn’t actually believe in anything Jewish.  I started to weigh what I thought were the positive outcomes of becoming observant.  If being observant meant that the family spent more quality time together, I would go along with that.  Shabbat meals and activities with the whole family seemed like a real good thing.

I went to a Jewish lecture that happened to be about Loshon Hara.  The speaker covered things that took me years to learn on my own.  I had no idea “my” religion covered so much useful information for everyday life.  I began to learn more, and everything I learned made sense and was clearly a better way to live.  Making the house kosher wasn’t too much to do considering how important it was to the whole Jewish package.  Putting the kids in religious schools was the next logical step.  I could see how superior their education was morally and even academically.  Somehow the more I did for intellectual reasons, the more I began to feel ownership spiritually.

I began taking classes here and there and learning on my own.  I was thrilled to discover that having a big family was a Jewish thing and happy to discard the “zero population growth” nonsense that kept me from having more children, which I so passionately wanted.  We decided to live in Israel when I was pregnant with our 5th child, and by the time our 6th child was a year old we moved to a small community in the Negev.

I’ve continued to grow and learn but I’ve always felt that I missed out by not having a religiously observant upbringing and education. I wish that I lived in an educational center where I could conveniently take classes.  It helped to discover the joys of listening to lectures on my iPod, but my world changed when I found Naaleh and Rebbetizin Tzipora Heller.  Rebbetzin Heller is a wonderful teacher.  I now have available to me hundreds of Jewish classes taught by a gifted scholar!  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be her student.

Ellen Grogin (Metar, Israel)

Questions Answered in Rebbetzin Heller’s Q & A Achieving Balance Class

24 09 2008

We are excited to announce that Rebbetzin Heller has now recorded four Question & Answer classes in our popular series Achieving Balance: G-d, Family and Work.  Three of those classes are already available for viewing at and the fourth class should be available at that link by the end of this week.  All questions answered were submitted by our very own Naaleh members, so Thank You to those who submitted questions.  Rebbetzin Heller will be taking a break from recording this class series until after the chagim, but will resume filming this series every few weeks thereafter.  Please continue to submit any questions you may have for her to and she will address it if it has not already been addressed in the first four classes of this series.

The following is a list of the questions that have been answered in the first four classes:

Read the rest of this entry »

Naaleh – Giving Me the Strength to Rise Above All Storms

17 09 2008

People think that psychologists lead charmed lives – that we do not experience any pain and have it “all together.”  After all, in our offices we are always calm and understanding, radiating an aura of emotional tranquility.  However, hearing tragic stories all day, especially about abuse and grief, can be very difficult.  Furthermore, all human beings, including us therapists, have our own personal trials.  Our ability to understand emotions does not eliminate the pain of our own losses.

The only way to handle pain is to grow from it!  And we need Torah to teach us how to feel Hashem’s love and focus on our own tikkun as we go through these difficulties.  I call this “Emotional Multi-Tasking,” i.e., to accept our pain and, at the same time, use it to strengthen our spiritual powers – such as love, humility, compassion and courage.

The world is facing terror on a level never before experienced.  We are all exposed to stories of abuse and tragedy either by word of mouth or from the media.  It seems that Hashem wants us to feel very insecure in the physical world – because that is the reality we are all facing.  The only way to cope with all this fear and insecurity is to fill ourselves with the inspiration of Torah.  In this way, very little room will be left for despair, anger and anxiety!

This is where Naaleh comes in.  Thanks to your work, we can listen to Torah throughout the day and night, which helps us all rise above the storms – person, political and geographical.  We need these voices of strength and wisdom in our heads!  May Hashem give you the ability – and the money! – to continue your holy work!

Dr. Miriam Adahan

Naaleh – An Inspiration in My Life!

17 09 2008

The Naaleh website has been an inspiration in my life!

Before I knew about the Naaleh website, my friend had tried to persuade me to get in contact with Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller in order to get her advice and guidance on finding a shidduch. I did nothing about it.

A few weeks later Shavuos was approaching and my thirst for learning Torah led me to google ‘Torah learning’.  The Naaleh website came up along with some other sites, and it was the first site I clicked on. I started listening to the introduction of Mrs. Shira Smiles on the topic of Shavuos and was so inspired that I signed up to the Naaleh website right away so that I could listen to the rest of the shiur. I was completely satisfied and rejuvenated by listening to the class.

When I realized that Rebbetzin Heller was also giving classes on this site, I found it very interesting because of how much my friend wanted me to listen to her and make a connection.

At some point, after listening to classes on the Naaleh website once or twice every day, I wrote to Mrs. Shira Smiles asking her for clarification on the topic of Shidduchim. To my astonishment and exhilaration, within a week Rebbetzin Heller gave a class on this exact topic.  The class gave me the clarification that I was looking for and covered the topic thoroughly.

I felt that this was real Hashgacha Pratis.  My friend had such a strong desire for me to listen to Rebbetzin Heller, specifically on the topic of Shidduchim, and I finally received the opportunity to do so.

I want to express my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller, Mrs. Shira Smiles, and to the Naaleh website for being such an inspiration through spreading Torah, and for making Torah learning available day and night in a very pleasant and enjoyable manner. I am also thankful for the opportunity to ask questions, receive beneficial answers, and have Shiurim covering topics that I have a specific interest in listening to.

– Miriam Kirsh, Los Angeles, CA

Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement

10 09 2008

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the most solemn day of the Jewish Calender. On this day, G-d seals the fate of each person, deciding what the coming year will hold.  The Sages tell us that Rosh Hashana , the Jewish New Year, is the day when judgment is inscribed, and Yom Kippur, ten days later, is the day when the judgment is sealed.  As the final day of judgment, Yom Kippur is an opportunity for every Jew to fully repent any previous wrongdoings or faults, and merit a year full of blessing.

Atonement For All Sins

The Torah describes Yom Kippur as the “day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G‑d” (Leviticus 16:30).  The day is marked by fasting and prayer as we beseech G-d for a good year for ourselves, our families, the Jewish People and the entire world.  For 26 hours, we focus completely on returning to G-d.  We refrain from five significant acts.  There is no eating or drinking, we do not wash or anoint our bodies, no wearing leather shoes, and we abstain from marital relations.  These acts represent the material and physical aspects of our lives, and we abstain from them on Yom Kippur in order to emphasize our inner selves, and our longing for closeness to G-d.  It is also a custom to wear white clothing, signifying our desire for purity and holiness.

Repentance and Atonement are key themes throughout the day.  We beg for forgiveness for our sins of the past year and resolve to act only in accordance with G-d’s will.  Our Sages tell us that Yom Kippur can only atone for sins between Man and G-d, such as eating non-kosher food, inadequately fulfilling one’s obligation to learn Torah or pray properly, not keeping Shabbat, etc.  However, Yom Kippur cannot atone for sins between Man and his fellow Man.   Stealing from another person, slandering, or shaming someone will not be forgiven on Yom Kippur unless the sinner first begs for forgiveness from the person he has harmed.  Only once he has appeased his friend can he proceed to ask G-d to forgive him for those sins as well.  It is therefore an accepted practice among Jews to try to remember who they might have harmed over the past year and ask them for Mechila (forgiveness).

The Tefillot of Yom Kippur

There are five specific tefillot, prayers, throughout Yom Kippur: Maariv, Shacharit, Mussaf, Mincha, and Neila.  The highlight of each of these prayers is the Vidui (confession), which is recited twice during each of these five prayers.  Perhaps the most famous prayer of Yom Kippur is not one of the five prayers at all, but an introductory prayer to the Yom Kippur service, the Kol Nidrei. Kol Nidrei is the soft, supplicating prayer that precedes the tefillah of Maariv.  In this short prayer, we exclaim that, tonight, we allow everyone, both the wicked and the righteous, to join together in prayer to Hashem.  We then ask Hashem to nullify any vows and promises that we’ve made over the last year, so that we may begin the coming year with a clean slate. 

Maariv, the Prayer after Nightfall, which is recited after the sun sets and Yom Kippur begins, is different from any other holiday Maariv service. It is the only Maariv prayer that includes Selichot, special supplications for forgiveness. The selichot prayers feature many repetitions of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, the special prayer that G-d taught Moshe Rabbeinu, Moses, when He forgave the sin of the Golden Calf. 

Shacharit, the Morning Prayer, follows the regular pattern of Shacharit for Holidays, and also includes Vidui in the private Shemoneh Esrei and the chazzan’s repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei.  Many piyutim (prayer poems) proclaiming G-d’s Sovereignty versus Man’s impotence, are added to the chazzan’s repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei. The Shacharit prayer ends with the Reading of the Torah, which describes the Kohen Gadol’s service in the Beit Hamikdash (the Temple) on Yom Kippur, and with Yizkor (the Memorial Prayer for the Deceased), which is recited on every holiday.

In the times of the Temple, an extra sacrifice was brought in honor of every holiday.  Now that we don’t have a Temple, Mussaf, the ‘Additional Prayer,’ is added to every holiday Morning Service.  The Shemoneh Esrei of Mussaf describes the sacrifice that was offered in the Temple on the holiday.  The Mussaf of Yom Kippur relates the unique service of the High Priest in the Beit Hamikdash on Yom Kippur.  On Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) sacrificed special sacrifices in order to atone for himself, his family, his tribe, and the Jewish People.  The Mussaf prayers beautifully describe the many steps of purification and atonement performed by the Kohen Gadol, climaxing with the once-a-year entry of the Kohen Gadol into the Kodesh HaKedoshim (Holy of Holies).  During this time, a red thread was hung outside the Beit Hamikdash while the Kohen Gadol was in the Kodesh Hakedoshim.  If the service in the Kodesh HaKedoshim was performed properly, the red thread miraculously turned white, symbolizing G-d’s forgiveness of His People.  The people would then joyously accompany the Kohen Gadol to his home.  One who fervently recites these Mussaf prayers is considered to have actually witnessed the Yom Kippur service in the Temple, and therefore merits the same level of atonement.

Mincha, The Afternoon Prayer, features a reading of the Book of Jonah, which describes Yona Hanavi’s (Jonah the Prophet), attempt to ‘escape’ the prophesy of G-d by leaving Israel, and his subsequent suffering on the boat and in the innards of a large fish.  The theme of the Book of Jonah is repentance; the repentance of Yona Hanavi, the sailors on the ship, and the non-Jewish city of Ninveh are all described.

The last tefillah of the day is Neila, literally the Locking of the Gates.  This prayer is the climax of Yom Kippur.  Recited just before nightfall, we desperately beseech G-d for His mercy before the Heavenly books are closed.  We end the tefilla with a powerful Acceptance of G-d’s Sovereignty, Kabbalat Ol Malchut Shamayim, as the whole congregation cries out the Shema in unison, and follows by affirming our complete faith in G-d by reciting other pesukim of faith repeatedly.

Although Yom Kippur is a serious time, there is an undercurrent of joyful hope. We believe that G-d will accept our sincere repentance and forgive us for our sins, allowing us to build a relationship of love and trust with Him again. The day ends with a shofar blast and singing of “Next Year in Jerusalem” usually accompanied by singing and dancing.

To learn more about Yom Kippur as well as the Yom Kippur Davening (Prayer), check out these Torah video classes at

Rav Moshe Weinberger & Rebbetzin Heller Answer Your Questions! Deadline Fast Approaching

5 09 2008

In response to your requests, will be filming its next Question and Answer video classes entitled Achieving Balance: G-d, Family, and Work! Rabbi Moshe Weinberger of Aish Kodesh in Woodmere will be answering questions relating to the unique challenges faced by today’s Jewish men, while Rebbetzin Heller, in a separate shiur, will answer questions relating to the challenges of contemporary women. Please email questions on balancing the different aspects of your life to by Sunday September 7th at 5 PM EST. We hope you will take advantage of this amazing opportunity!

Our Elul Zman is in full swing! Click on the images or links below to watch our newest classes. For other Naaleh classes and topics visit

Themes of Rosh HaShana Island of Refuge Repent! A Survey of Al HaTeshuva Proper Treatment of Hashem's Names

Naaleh – Bringing the Classroom to Those of Us Who Can’t Go To The Classroom

3 09 2008

In Pirkei Avos, Rebbe Yehoshuah ben Perachya advises us, “asseh lecha Rav, u’kenei lecha chaver” – make for yourself a Rav, and acquire for yourself a friend. From the day our Torah was given at Sinai, it contained two halves that could never be divided. Torah Shebechtav (the Written Torah) can only be understood through the lens of Torah Shebal Peh (the Oral Torah), the Torah passed down through the mesorah. Learning from written books and articles can only enable one to get so far. It is the living, breathing Torah, that is passed from the mouth of the teacher to the attentive ear of the student, that forms the core of Jewish learning. So much more can be understood through a teacher’s expressions, hand motions, and places of emphasis. These are lost on the written page. Italics and exclamation points will never be able to express the enthusiasm and love that a teacher wishes to pass down to his/her students.

After finishing seminary, I continued to study Torah through sefarim and chavrusas. But I missed the involvement of being in a classroom and the give and take between teacher and student. I missed the excitement of enthusiastic teachers conveying their love of Torah and Hashem through perhaps a Rashi they found particularly beautiful. I missed the after-class debates as students struggled to interpret what the teacher had said.

And then I found Naaleh. Through video lectures and forums for students to post comments on classes, Naaleh has found a way to bring the classroom to those of us who can’t go to the classroom. I love feeling the excitement of being in a classroom once again. Torah learning cannot take place in a vacuum. One needs a Rav and one needs fellow students to truly learn Torah. Thank you Naaleh for giving me both.

– Ayala, New York, NY

Naaleh – A Life Saver in Oregon

1 09 2008

I want to tell you what Naaleh means to my wife and I. My wife and I originally lived in a small town in Oregon. We have a few members of our family that still live there. My family came there as early settlers over 150 years ago. My maternal Great-Great Grandmother’s name was Sarah Levi. It was only a few years ago that we learned that some of our family, including me, are still Jewish. My sister and I became the first to return to Judaism; we are fourth generation Americans and it has been a near miracle that our Jewish identity has not been lost.

My wife and I moved to Baltimore a few years ago to live in a large Jewish Community. We had to recently return to the Pacific Northwest due to family illness. We had only expected to be here a couple of months at the most. But Man plans and G-d laughs, and so we have found ourselves in a situation where we will be here at least until next June. We are 150 miles from the nearest Orthodox Shul. For Orthodox Jews, this place feels like the ends of the Earth.

Naaleh gives us the daily connection to Torah that we could not get otherwise. We are even able to listen daily when camping in the Mountains! When we finally bought an aircard and were able to connect, my wife and I cried feeling like we found our lifeline in Naaleh. B’’H for those with vision to reach out to the Jewish people wherever we are spread. I also want to say that we are making Aliyah next June and are really going “home,” and we hope to continue with Naaleh in Israel. G-d Bless all the wonderful teachers who give so much of their valuable time.

– Daniel and Shannah, from Oregon

Naaleh: Adding Torah to my Day

1 09 2008

Every morning, upon returning from shul, I prepare my lunch, and walk to the subway station to catch the train to work. This time is greatly enhanced by the shiurim provided by Now, rather than let my mind wander for those 25 minutes every morning, it is listening intently to the sacred words of Torah. It is in this way that this wonderful website has greatly elevated my day-to-day routine.

While there are other wonderful websites from which free shiurim can be downloaded, I do not think any are as easy and convenient as Naaleh. Upon entering the site, all of the available teachers, courses and topics can be accessed with just a few clicks. I need not run any cumbersome searches for a topic that might catch my interest.

Aside from its great user interface, Naaleh’s teachers and shiurim are superb. I enjoy the many courses that Naaleh offers on the hashkafos, halachos, and mussar pertaining to the various moadim. However, what has been most meaningful for me has been the opportunity to review Hilchos Shabbos (which always is worthwhile of review) with my Rebbe, Rav Shimon Isaacson. I am grateful to all those that make this great source of Torah available. Thank you.

– Avi Eisenman, Washington Heights, NY