The clothes make the girl

I was at the park this Shabbat with my little sister. There was another sweet little girl there of about seven years old. She started talking with us, and after a few questions, then asked, “Are you religious?”

“Yes.” I answered. “Why?”

“You look like it.”

It should be mentioned that I was wearing pale lilac sneakers and a subdued floral baseball cap. (It was a park, and quite sunny out, requiring both.) I was also wearing a tunic and ankle-length black skirt in contrast to a more typical short one.* My glasses were neither notably stylish or distinctly plain.

To her, the dress of a religious girl is exactly as it should be– a long skirt, a long sleeves, and a high neckline. Since most of the other girls in the park were goyim in tank tops, she saw me as being dressed exactly as I should, with no need to contrast me to anything. It was really refreshing.

And who knows? Maybe somehow, deep down, she recognised and acknowledged the effort that it had taken me to get to this point. With G-d’s creations, you never know.

—–

*This was said with a disclaimer. If your minhag or community standard is to wear skirts that are totally tznius but not conspicuously long, then kol hakavod. That is tznius for you because it davka doesn’t draw attention and you should got for it.

In my community, most non-Jewish stores sell three types of skirts– really short, really tight, and really long. Far from being attention-getting, they really are the most modest option.

No Music– More talking (but of course, No lashon Harah)

I often wondered what having no music over Sfirat Haomer has to do with the message of the time. of course, it makes us, (me, me) miserable, but so could many other restrictions. Why music?

This restriction has a modern day effect only a Navi could have foreseen. On the school bus each morning and evening, most people who aren’t chatting listen to music. It’s a wonderful way to recharge for the work ahead.

You have no idea how much more sociable the bus was last Monday. At first, everyone was simply kvetching and commiserating. Those who could swapped recommendations for a capella. But by the end of the long ride, everyone was chatting happily.

Even I was drawn in. Why? Though I had an audiobook to listen to– my headphones broke over Pesach cleaning! So while at first it began with some harmless conversations about ‘G-d doesn’t want to make us miserable, so obviously there’s a point to this.’ (Which, by the way, is my motto during Sfira. We’re supposed to learn from the experience.)

And yet, (gasp), yesterday I talked the entire ride home with a friend. In my defence, I was hyper and off the wall and she’s leaving for seminary next year, but still.

During Sfira, it’s nice to see that a restriction can no only upset us, but serve as a springboard for growth. In this case, the growth is in the exact area we need to improve during this time.

May our efforts in increased achdus during these days bring us to Shavout in the Bais Ha’mikdash, SOON!

Sunny day…

Thank you, G-d!

I thought it was an absolute miracle that the school was silent today at lunch. Turns out, it was just gorgeous weather outside, chasing girls out even from  the locker room to bask in the sunshine.

Thanks to the peace and quiet, I was able to recharge a little from yesterday’s gym class, and finally clean out my locker.

Thank you!

(And lest you think this is something to be overlooked– lunch break in my school resembles recess in second grade. Lovely, lively girls!)

I miss it already

Pesach has only been over for a little while here in the disporia, but I miss it already.

If you knew me well, you wouldn’t believe it. Since I’m unable to eat the Pesach staple, potatoes, in the quantities they are presented to us during the Holiday, I found myself scrambling for alternatives at most meals. Between the late nights and deciding that I could survive a week without Pesach-dik sleeping medication, it was a tired and headache-y week.

I couldn’t write (not even for my homework.) Nor could I sew. Most of my friends were out of town. Sounds like a real treat, right?

So why am I crying? (Believe me, it’s not just a mound of dishes and the start of school on my mind.)

G-d gave us Pesach as a special gift. And I want it back! Incomprehensibly. In spite of everything. Though I look forward to a Mincha at school and I know good things aren’t meant to last. I still irrationally wish for just one more day. (After all, I spent most of the last ones in bed.)

Yours, incoherently tired and looking forward to Shavout,

Mimi

Triumph-‘tent’

Whoa, that was hard work! I just finished assembling a children’s tent and tunnel. It’s a wonderful way to keep a child busy during the erev Pesach madness.

It also is almost as tall as I am, with a six foot long tunnel and is composed to a mile of stiff fabric and several hundred tubes. As I sweated my way through it I wondered how, if it was giving me so much trouble now, I’d ever done it at 12 or 13? This thing was big enough for an adult to sit inside!*

As I examined my now-metallic hands and rubbed my aching shoulders, the answer came to me. The first few times I’d done it, I almost certainly had my younger brother’s help.

*Although not big enough for them to get out! 🙂 I just managed it myself.

An Old Friend

An anonymous reader recommended this post. Read it here: –>  or below

Friday, March 6, 2015

Hello, Old Friend

I met up with an old friend the other day. I’d spoken with him fairly recently, but it had been a while since I’d seriously opened up to him. I’m not really sure what made this time different, other than the fact that I’d been drinking. Still, for the first time in way too long, I felt heard, as if he was seriously listening. I spoke in that  non-self-reflective way, opening up in a manner that I can truly do, only when speaking with close friends.


It felt good, but as I spoke, I had this terrible gnawing feeling. I started thinking about the fact that soon our meeting would be over. I began to  become self-conscious of the fact that I better say everything I had to say, as I was unsure when the circumstances that had led to this conversation might happen again. I don’t know who  is responsible for our recent divide, although I can’t deny that I am far from blameless.


So there I was, with a combination of the joy that came from opening up to a friend, combined with the recognition that I better not waste a moment of our time together. Then, it was time to go. Reluctantly, I parted, sadly taking my leave. Without turning my back, I bowed and took three steps back.
Yihiyu l’ratzon imrei pi v’hegyon libi lifaniecha, HaShem Tzuri v’Goali.

 

Thank you to the person who sent me the article, the person who allowed me to use it, and to all you loyal readers!

Have a wonderful Shabbat!

Davening for the ill 1

davDedicated for a refuah shelema (full recovery) for Tuvia Avraham ben Chaya Zisha, among others.

For an idealistic perfectionist, some Mitzvot (commandments) can be tough. You can give charity to some poor people– but not every single one. After all, then how would you buy yourself food for Shabbat and Yom Tov? Nor can you do kiruv in the entire world simultaneously.

But one mitzvah allows you to encompass the entire world in one go. In Shmoneh Esrai (also known as the Amidah) during the bracha of Refa’enu, where we beg Hashem to heal the sick, is a special prayer one can add to mention a certain name. The text, fairly simple and straightforward, closes with the words בתוך שאר חולי ישרא-ל — among all the sick people of Yisrael.

Isn’t that amazing? When I daven for my friend’s father or Mim’s little brother, I am literally also praying for the thousands of other people who need it.

Hashem, please heal them all soon.

Acceptance with Love

“Does anyone know where I put my book down?”

“Were you holding it when you went to chase Mendy*?” (*henceforth the pseudonym for the 2 1/2 year old boy)

Mendy heard me. “Me?”

“You.”

“Yay!!!!”

This reminds me of something I once learned about the famous prophet Yeshayah (Issiah.) One of the things that gave him the merit to have so much positivity in a time of historic darkness was that he accepted what G-d wanted from him with joy and happiness.

Mendy, so young and sweet, was just genuinely happy to be… Mendy. In spite of the hardships he faces. Maybe this is something we could all learn from.

Have a wonderful and peaceful Shabbat!

Thoughts on Purim :)

A belated Chodesh tov to all!

Some homemade thoughts on Adar and Purim for inspiration and fast day distractions. Sorry for digressing so much, since these are rather deep and complicated ideas.

One of the central themes woven into the fabric of Purim is the idea of concealment and masks. Of the outside hiding the inside, of working in the shadows. It is part of both the ‘mashal’ (the obvious, written Purim story) and the ‘nimshal’ (a careful examination of what’s not mentioned. There are some great articles about that on Aish and Chabad.)

But masks aren’t just a fixture of Purim. Our bodies, too, are masks. They clothe the neshama (roughly: soul), allowing it to live in a material world. Depending on the way you use your body to express yourself, you can either hide or reveal some of your inner depth.

It is the nature of Jewdism to have more hidden than revealed. If everything was open and exposed, the world would be a very different place in terms of ‘abstract’ concepts such as free choice, learning Torah, etc.

Ideally, the body hints or echos the soul. (This is essential to the concept of Tznius, ‘hiding’ the body. If the soul is so great that it even shows in the body, then the body is also holy and needs cover and protection.) But sometimes, people’s outsides’ don’t match their insides. This can be in the tragic case of people who look ‘frum’ ‘charedi’ ‘normal’ ‘holy’ on the outside, but inside they are the sort of people that we are not proud to call our own.

This is a sad and rare case. But there are two others that are more common. Since the nature of the soul is to be hidden, we can’t see other people’s internal growth. People who dress and act the way they always have might be the most refined and kind individuals underneath. Physical changes, especially when you are around people who know you well, can be much more difficult and intimidating. Far easier to take on giving extra tzedaka every week then to chop off the dreadlocks and wear a kippa. Some find it much simpler to refine their language or swear off texting for a month than to ‘un-dye’ their hair and wear longer skirts, or even a skirt at all. Far easier to daven mincha then to, say, stop wearing jeans.

There is another type of person in this catagory. There are people, great tzadikkim, who seem like average, pious individuals on the outside, but inside contain great depths of holiness and purity. These are people who seem like the stories of bygone years– because you never discover it until they have left the world.

So the next time a person’s actions don’t seem to reflect thier soul– think again. And remember, the same is true of you.

Have an easy fast and a joyous Purim