Holy Machlokes

We learned a most inspiring peice about Machlokes today. Why can Yidden not just stop arguing?!

Suppose someone at your workplace was doing something wrong. It wouldn’t have a major affect on you, but you thought you could help them correct it. After a few persistent ‘no’s, maybe even a few ‘my way is better’s, you would probably give up.

But say your brother or sister was doing something simmilar. Something that might bother them, but wouldn’t really have such a huge affect on you. Would you still try to help them? Of course!!! If they’re in any form of danger– spiritual, financial (as in our previous case), physical– you would do your utmost to stop them.

We don’t fight because we think everyone else is wrong and we’re right. We fight because we want to help all our Jewish brothers and sisters do the very best that they can!

And, like all other siblings, we might beat eachother black and blue within the family. But when an outsider threatens? “No one messes with my baby brother!” Please– in times of peace, may they come soon, lets remember how we feel about each other when the bigger threats loom.

Should you help people grow spiritually? Of course!!! (That’s a subject for a later post.) But if you’ve ever cried bitter tears over the ‘wars’ within– there is hope! We fight because we care!

A teacher is like a parent

One of my teachers is (ok, I’m following Lucky’s lead. However harmless ‘the type’ is, it shouldn’t be used.) a gracious and kind human being who goes above and beyond for her students.

Above and beyond like allowing a student who missed class to call her up in the evening the night before the exam to explain a complicated concept she missed?

In this tzadekes’s mind, why not? I am very grateful for such an attitude!

(Must get back to studying. Other teens know what that means!)

Asher Yatzar

My health issues (which baruch Hashem, are quite minor, and with Hashem’s help will vanish soon) still make it difficult for me to say asher yatzar wholeheartedly. Sometimes the best I can manage is a distracted mumble. At times, it was an ‘at least I am halachikly able to say asher yatar. Even though I have to lean against the wall to do so.’ I remember a few times where I literally cried my way through it. (Even negative emotion is better than apathy.)

Now I’m more on the apathetic side. I try to have kavanah, but really? Usually, the only times people want to talk to me are between leaving the room and asher yatzar. Or I’m in a rush. Or both.

I’ve been reading a lot about the four Kedoshim who were murdered last month. I read so I won’t forget. And in school, when the topic was briefly brought up, it suddenly clicked in me. They were people who served Hashem at levels we all daven to reach. They were tadekim. They used every moment well. They served Hashem much better than I can. Why aren’t they alive? And why am I? If  Hashem didn’t give them more life, why did He give it to someone like ME?

And so every day, whenever I remember, I thank G-d for the challenging, frustrating, miserable, amazing, rewarding gift we call LIFE.

Tired of ‘You look TIRED!’

A friend of mine recently embarked on a rather major project– involving quite a few late nights. After a few of those, even the most poker face will acquire droopy eyes and a yawn.

So I had some sympathy, and I asked her, “You look exhausted! How are you feeling?”

“Oh, you… hi! Yeah, maybe just a little. But you’ve gotta be the twentieth person to ask me that today. Do I really look that tired?”

Don’t tell her that the answer to that is a resounding ‘yes!’

!מי כעמך, ישראל Far better to have too much sympathy than none at all.

Door to Door service. Driven by G-d

If you don’t already know who I am, dear friends, this post will seal the deal for sure. This happened some time last year.

I love my high school. In fact, one of the things I dislike the most is how long it takes me to get there. Mornings, for various reasons, are shorter, but the average for an evening (no snow!) is an hour. 45-50 minutes on the bus, and then a short walk home. (Ten minutes if I’m fast, and 15 if I’m feeling lazy!)

And one day, we had a driver who doesn’t usually drive our route. For some reason, the girl at the very last stop wasn’t there that day. And, inexplicably, that it was somehow ok to drop me closer to my home, and double back to the original route. Not something that could happen every day, the driver stressed. But for some reason, today was ok. Today was also the day where I had almost literally fallen asleep multiple times. I couldn’t face the walk home, and I wasn’t able to get a ride.

I asked to be dropped at the end of my street. I was dropped right by my front door. “Hashem loves you.” Said the driver.

I heartily agree.

He’s not standing right at our side where we can see. We are riding on His shoulders.

Thinking about others

Play breakout was at our school  this week. I got a fairly minor part, but this isn’t about me.

Even though I had promised myself that I wouldn’t get upset, that for various reasons a big part wouldn’t be practical for me, and that if I was honest, I simply couldn’t act well enough, it did hurt a little. The mains are well, so amazing. Really cool this year. You know what I mean- if our play was a 5000 page novel, I’d read it just for them.

So when someone, (not a close friend but I’m working on getting along with her,) asked me what part I had, I couldn’t keep a slight note of regret out of my voice.

She told me what I’d been telling myself all along, but she made it seem real. “You know, it’s really the little parts that make a difference. They’re the ones everyone remembers. In Aladdin, the genie has an even smaller part than the tiger. But without him, there would be no story.” Of course, I’m paraphrasing, but how could I remember something so perfect word for word?

I thanked her for her sincere words and walked away, remembering that at least I got a part at all. And it wasn’t even just two lines. And then I remembered something.

“So, what about you? What part did you get?”

“Oh, me? I’m (insert main part here.)”

Unbelievable.

Dovid’s prayers

My school has a program where, at lunch break once a week, those who are interested crowd into one of the classrooms. The purpose is not to break the world record for the game sardines- I don’t think there are enough of us for it- but to say Tehillim. The goal is to say the entire Tehillim once over.

I say crowd not only because the room is fairly small, but also because there are more of us than usual. At the beginning, it was a struggle to get enough people to do all about 50 cards. Attendance has fluctuated since, but we have, at some points, done the entire Tehillim twice.

Today, when a few others and I got in a minute or so late- rather than the five it often takes to start- there were no cards left! The entire room was free of chatter, texting, side conversations- just the soft murmur of Dovid’s Prayers.

Cookies and Snowflakes- additional thanks

There is a huge thank you that I almost forgot- and really shouldn’t have. Here, you can read the first part and then I’ll explain.

I mentioned that I wasn’t even meant to be on that bus, but would instead have to take a later one. But the reason why? I needed to meet with someone after school for something important, but not particularly lengthy. The actual meeting itself would have only taken five minutes, but all the peripheral stuff would have set me back at least 15 min. And once you add the length of the other bus ride vs. the shorter one, it would have taken forever.

So a asked for an exception and we met at lunch. Two minutes and we were both done. She would have been well within her rights to insist that I wait ’till later like everyone else. But she didn’t. Isn’t that great?!

Cookies and snowflakes

Today, I was on a bus home for three hours. Usually, the ride can take anywhere from 35 minutes to most of a hour, but today with the first snowfall- most definitely not usual.

A lot of things stood out- the fact that the bus was almost empty, making the situation a little more tolerable. The sudden scare, where someone mentioned that there had been another attack- chas v’shalom- in Israel. (I am almost positive that, Baruch Hashem, it was a false alarm.) The fact that I was even on the bus in the first place, when I was meant to be on a later one, that would not have return home until even later. The wonderful entertaining friends who kept me company.

But I think the best thing was when I got home. My brother (my baby brother, all of twenty months younger than me,) had brought everyone home cookies from school.

I almost hugged him. Granted, it was an oatmeal raisin cookie- the crumbly kind where you can’t easily pick out the raisins. But it’s the thought that counts, and in this case, it counted three hours worth.

Read part 2 here!

Thank you- no, thank YOU

I e-mailed someone- an artist who put his work up for public use- to let them know that I had used their creation, and really enjoyed it. I tried to be as positive and cheerful as I could without writing something sounding like hero warship. Convinced I had something that was polite but still enthusiastic, I sent it off.

A day or two later, I got my reply. Polite and gracious, of course, but also very very cheerful. It really did sound as though my few kind words had made this person’s day.

And hearing that another person so appreciated what I had to say (even though most of it was one long compliment, so I should hope it was appreciated!) had me float on air the entire day.

It drove home again the lesson about giving to others. A bit of a sobering thought, but it’s true: Ultimately, at the end of our lives, the only things that we still can call our own are what we’ve given to the world.

Possessions- handed down or thrown away. One’s house, car, money- the best one can hope is that it’s given to family, or to a good cause.

Talent- what good is latent talent if it’s never used? Everything that you’ve been able to do and haven’t- what value does it now have?

Achievements- did you spend your life chasing good deeds? Or recognition?

But the kindness that a person does is passed forward forever. A ripple effect that never fades.