Man plans…

Man plans and G-d laughs

“Yiddish Proverb”

Based on some ‘field research’ done this week, I’m no longer so sure about that one. I think it probably goes more like this.

Man plans, and G-d sighs

Why? Somehow, I don’t think G-d laughs at us when He changes our plans and gives us the opportunity to learn lessons we would never have met in our ordinary lives. He sighs, not because He’s worried if we will learn or not– He already knows the outcome. But we don’t. He sighs because He recognizes that it’s hard for us us down here. We have great and noble plans and sometimes, they fall through. He knows that this can shake us and frustrate us. They can shake us so much that we loose the message in our frustration. He sighs as He watches our plans fall through and He only laughs when He sees us pick ourselves back up again and move on- with us, not at us.

Scared, but with faith

Tisha B’av scares me. Lucky mentioned it, so I’ll elaborate

I looked at the calender and saw that this year, the actual date of the ninth of Av is a Shabbat. The fast is on the tenth of Av this year. And that seemed really surreal to me. On the one hand, it’s the saddest day in the Jewish calendar year. Postponing the fast doesn’t change the date of all the sad things that happened. (Also see the rest of Chabad.org on the subject.) On the other hand, it’s Shabbat. We’re commanded to rejoice. Even if you can forget the date, the fast is lurking right around the corner, reminding you to drink plenty of water and not eat anything that will make you feel sick the next day.

And then I was thinking how if the Shabbat Project ever did another one this year, this would be the perfect week for it. But no, that would never happen. Something really drastic would have to happen for them to whip together a worldwide Shabbat campaign at such short notice. And then it brought me back to where I started.

Drastic things do happen. Like last year. And last year, we promised ourselves that this would be the last time we fasted and mourned. And I believed it. It seemed impossible to me that the world would not wake up and fix things. That we would not wake up and fix things. That I would not wake up and fix things.

Tisha b’Av scares me beacuse I’m scared of living in another year of Galus. We can’t last much longer. S0 G-d, who cares too much to give up on us, shakes us to wake us up before it’s too late. And those shakes HURT. Bombing, wars, mass antisemitism. We confuse the symptoms for the disease, but really, though life is calmer now, we’re still facing the same core problem. And already, we’re being shaking up again. Thank G-d, the bombs landed an unoccupied area. Thank G-d, nothing terrible happened during the protest in London.

But how much longer before we’re shaken up again? That’s what scares me, even more than seeing our nation fall more every day. These symptoms tell us how bad things are. But in and of themselves, they are sooo painful.

I’m not writing this to give up hope. Not at all. I may feel desperate, but I haven’t given up yet. If we take this message to heart, there will be no need to fear anymore. I know I say this every year, but it needs to be said again. G-d will keep on shaking us. And we will not give up.

Please help me. We’ve all made mistakes this year. But we’ve learned that we can come together, and the echos of last summer’s unity still live on. Wake them up!

אני מאמין באמונה שלמה בביאת המשיח .ואף על פי שיתמהמה, עם כל זה אחכה לו בכל היום שיבוא I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Moshaich. Even if he delays, I wait for him every day.

It sounds so simple. But maybe if we truly believe this, it will be easier for us to take the final step forward in all our actions. If we remember this, that Moshiach is on our doorstep, that he is just waiting to know the time is right for him to enter…

Never too late

It’s never too late

Even when your finger brushes the button

Even when you’re about to turn the wrong way

Even when the lashon harah is about to slide off your tongue

Even when you’ve stood up to storm off.

Even when you’ve picked up the book, ‘deciding’ it’s probably ok

Even when you’ve already turned on the screen

Even when you told someone you’d show up

Even once you’ve convinced yourself that the shirt really isn’t too loud

Even when… you’re about to hit ‘POST’

Even when the perfect tactless comment is in your brain

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE

From personal experience.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach! Have a happy and uplifting ‘long weekend!’

Spot the connection

Mim’s post brought up an interesting thought. What does Sfira– counting up towards accepting the Torah– have to do with being kind to one-another. Is it just a coincidence that the death of Rabbi Akiva’s students died during the count-up to Matan Torah?

The post was due weeks ago so I’m condensing it now.

Rabbi Hillel said that the foundation of the Torah is ‘V’ahavtah Leracha Kmocha’– Loving your fellow like yourself. Without it, Torah cannot be sustained.

Whatever the sin of Rabbi Akiva’s students did (and there are many many interesting opinions,) they are said to not have been on the highest level of love for each other.

We don’t just wait to receive the Torah, we are actively preparing ourselves for it. Preparing ourselves to be the foundations of Torah.

Without Torah, there is no life. And without respect, love, and consideration for each other, there can be no Torah.

 

See you all at Har Sinai!

ONLY ONE LAST DAY

It is said that the final galus parallels the galus of mitzrayim to the extent that ‘Just as we were redeemed in Nissan, so to shall we now be redeemed in Nissan.’

Tomorrow, is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar. It is also the last day of Nissan.

PLEASE, DEAR YIDDEN AND FRIENDS! We have one more day. Tomorrow, take upon yourselves one more thing in the area of interpersonal relationships. Go above and beyond to do one nice thing for another Jew. Go above and beyond to judge every Jew favorably.

I write this knowing that by doing so, it will lead me to be tested more stringently in this area. But I am willing and ready and eager to give this mission my all.

Please, please forward this message to everyone you know. We can put an end to tragedy tomorrow– forever!

Moshiach!!

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!

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

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