It doesn’t take long for anyone who meets Rabbi Lazer Brody, the noted author, inspirational speaker and spiritual guide, to appreciate the secret behind his success. In addition to being a rabbi, he is also a certified personal fitness trainer and health coach. But as impressive as his résumé is, it’s his uncanny ability to connect with people that truly sets him apart. He is so engaging that it takes only a few moments of conversation for me to feel as if he and I are longtime friends. But what I find even more compelling about Rabbi Brody is his disarming self-effacement and humility. He sincerely attributes everything he does—literally everything, including helping tens of thousands of people around the world to find fulfillment in their lives through faith—not to his own abilities but to those of his mentor, Rav Shalom Arush. And that degree of bittul and self-nullification is truly rare.
“Before we talk about anything I do,” he insists, “we have to talk about Rav Shalom, because I’m just his conduit. He’s a special neshamah. It’s enough that Hashem has given me the privilege of bringing this wonderful light to the English-speaking world by being his translator and talmid muvhak for the last 19 years, because it’s exactly what this generation needs.”
“Let me preface my remarks with a story from the Gemara,” he begins. “Rabbi Yochanan was once told that Rabbi Elazar had given a drashah in the marketplace in Teveriah without mentioning that he’d learned it from Rabbi Yochanan. Rabbi Yochanan became very upset. A number of talmidei chachamim tried to calm him, but they were unsuccessful. Finally, Rav Yaakov bar Idi told him, ‘Everyone already knows that everything Rabbi Elazar knows comes from you, because he never learned from anyone else.’ This succeeded in calming Rabbi Yochanan. The same applies to Rav Shalom Arush and I.
“I’ll tell you another little story,” he continues. “When I was a new baal teshuvah and first making my way through all the sefarim, there was one thing that always stood out: the importance of ‘Asei lecha rav,’ having a connection to a mentor. This was actually something I had experience with as a former athlete and combat soldier, because if you don’t have a good coach or commanding officer you’re not going to be able to get very far. Unfortunately, it took a lot of trial and error until I finally found Rav Shalom. It took nine years of davening and saying, ‘Ribbono Shel Olam, I need someone to help me because I can’t really grow by myself.”