Elevating the mundane 1

My parents (thank you thank you thank you) bought me a tablet for use at school. One of the many ‘useful and popular’ preloaded apps (I’ve already deleted about half of them!) was a newsfeed. It was preloaded with feeds for sports, worldwide news, health and fitness, media, entertainment and other news. (Forget that there were about 3 other apps already on there that had those things. Gashmiyus! Mindless bittul zman!)

I deleted all the pre-loads, and contemplated deleting the app as well. But before I did, I decided to do one quick search. Maybe they had a creativity blog I went to occasionally? They did. And that got me thinking. And searching.

Hey! If they had interior design, why wouldn’t they have access to Torah sites as well?

3 sites worth of Torah, fed straight to my tablet. Keeps me off the internet? Check! Keeps me reading Torah? Check! Am I thrilled? CHECK!

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!

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.

Another’s pain

The past year has been one of pain and sorrow for us. Chevlay Ha’Moshiach, they say. But each tragedy, we believe to be our last. Moshiach must be here tomorrow- no, today. Each time, we are proven wrong

We’ve said tehillim, and we’ve held achdus rallies and we’ve spoken with our Gedolim. And we’re almost there. We now see things on the big scale. But what about the details?

It should suffice to say that I am not on a level to pasken or direct. But here are three of my suggestions– take them or leave them.

One is to eliminate the word ‘type’ from describing other people. I must say, it makes my blood boil. You can describe blood by type. You can classify recipes by type. You can sort music by type. But each of these descriptions only scratches the surface of what is. Inanimate objects can sometimes be sorted into broad categories, but only if you want one specific attribute. Recipies can be breakfast or lunch, dairy or meat, simple or complicated. Each is a different ‘type’ of ‘type’. And if we can’t even sort food by type, how on earth can we HOPE to do it to HUMAN BEINGS!!!

Would you like to be classified by your kippa, your skirt length, your shul or school, your parents, your siblings? What about this elusive type? “What type is she?” “She’s modern Orthodox.” “Do you think he was at the concert last night?” “Na, it’s so not his type to be there.”

“His  type?” What does that mean anyway?! That if you found someone else who is “his type”, they will show up at the same weddings and the same concerts and wear the same kippah (at the same time, hopefully not sharing it between themselves?)

Please. You are not a ‘type.’ A blood type, probably. But a ‘human type?’ I should hope not. Please remember this when you speak of others.

Parts two and three to follow

Hy”D

No news is good news. That’s not always true. Snow days are good news. Babies born are good news. The arrival of Moshiach, speedily in our days, will probably be the most hotly posted good news on the internet.

But there is a element of truth to the saying. When I got greeted this morning with ‘Have you checked the news yet?’ as I have heard so often in the past year, I only felt dread and fear.

I still only know the bare details- but enough to feel sad and sickened.

After the tragic kidnappings, we all thought- this will be our last tragedy. We keep being proven wrong. Why?

The achdus levels we have now are amazing. We are so close, so near to our ultimate goal. How many more tragedies do we need to shock us awake? Even if Moshiach came (may it be so) right today, things would never be exactly as they were. We could not erase the shock, the loss of life, the grief of their families and of everyone. But we can ensure, with every drop of goodness and kindness that we posses, that it never happen again.

We are so close. Please, my friends, let us eradicate every last drop of sinat chinam in our hearts. We have gone so far from Sinat chinam- hating one another. All we need is Ahavat Chinam- to love one another.

Remember the story of Kamsa and Bar Kamsa? If we could create a world where we could ensure that that would never happen again- Moshiach would belong in that world. We just need to love one another- to be polite, respectful, to temper the criticism, teasing, and arguing with a handful (or a heart-full) of understanding, friendship and patience.

Please, my friends.

I want to belive

Is it a test if you know that you’re being tested?

Seeing and hearing things that are upsetting, is, unfortunate, a normal part of our society. But since I’ve opened this blog, I’ve experienced more and more of them. Or maybe I’m just more attuned to them.

I try my hardest to make this site 100% positivity and good things, but the sad truth is that there is bad out there. Ignoring it doesn’t make it disappear. So why don’t I talk about the bad, to? Even just to comment that maybe we could be doing things better?

What stops me from throwing in the towel and becoming another cynical blogger, like, Hashem Yerachem (G-d should have mercy on them), others are? What is it that convinces me that we’re not just a ‘failed experiment’? After all, G-d allowed us to choose right and wrong. What stops me from believing that we’ve screwed up? Or, from a more balanced viewpoint, what stops me from condemning the bad along with praising the good?

I think that there are two reasons. One is that the bad often gets so much more exposure than the good. It’s so much easier to find about (fill in any negative example you’ve seen recently- I don’t want to cry more providing examples) and sometimes exaggerate the truth, then it is to find a good story and tell it. We know that the bad is out there. It’s in our faces all day. The good- is often subtle and small. But the impact is huge. For all those who are tempted to give up on good. Who’ve had one of those long, hard days. Who don’t understand why people won’t just listen, and stop the evil they’re doing.

And the second reason? The why? Because there’s a part of me that defies all logic I throw at it. A part of me that says that humanity’s goodness is not gone yet. That we- me, and you, and them, and the ‘others’, and everyone- are still capable of good. And not only capable, but that, when push comes to shove, we will all do the right thing.

There are those of us who won’t go down without a fight. Who will believe, no matter what. Who will do good, and act good, and are good. Who are the ones who will, loudly or quietly, in the news or behind the scenes, bring us to an era of peace.

So for both the cynics and the believers — this is for you.

(And just F.Y.I.- this is the last negative post I will put up here. When (if) I break the rules, you can quote me this.)

Mama Rachel

Today is the yartzite of Rachel Imeanu. I could say more, but it might be better just to find or watch one of the movies made in honor of the occasion. Anything by Chabad, the Chofetz Chaim foundation, the Rachel Imeanu foundation, or the like will be fine.

It’s ok to cry while you watch it. Rachel is crying too. She watches the pain we are going through and she burns to tell us that it all can be avoided. If we would just return to her and to each other, we will stay together. If we choose to define ourselves by what connects us, and not what devides us, we will return to being her children. Hashem’s holy nation.

May it be soon.