A little bit of change

I was taking public transit home after spending some time with friends, a good hour’s journey direct from home. To return, I needed to take two buses, and due to a mishap at the first bus stop (the station that actually didn’t exist, and was also two intersections away from where the schedule said it was,) I didn’t have the exact change I would need to get on the second bus.

After confirming that only exact change would get me a ticket, I asked the kind-looking woman sitting opposite me if she had change to exchange for a small bill. She said she didn’t, apologized, and then began to look in every pocket of her bag on the off chance that she did after all.

There was an elderly couple sitting in front of her, who overheard the discussion. The gentleman passed me a handful of small change, and asked if it would help. I explained that I was just trying to get smaller change, and showed him the bill. He and the wonderful woman beside him insisted that I just take the money, as it wasn’t very much, and not to worry that they didn’t have enough change to make an exchange. It made a huge difference to me, and I conveyed my appreciation as much as possible.

***

The trip was meant to just be three friends hanging out together and enjoying the vast nature surrounding us, and it was peaceful, gorgeous, and a chance to get to know everyone a little better and make a stronger connection. And those 24 hours were all that, and more. The friend who was the host is a holy lady, and while we were eating breakfast together on the front porch, she mentions that she was about to do her daily Tanya study. Knowing that I’m usually interested in whatever she’s learning, she offered to read it aloud. Given that, while I was interested in learning Tanya but knew almost nothing, and the ‘cycle’ of lessons is currently near the end, she had to explain a few concepts to me as we learned. One of them was how our world is made up of G-d’s holy light, contracted and ‘scrunched up’ many, many times, and that the world we see is the barest fraction of the true power and glory of the Almighty. (It sounds much better in her words, or in the original Hebrew.)

While we paused to let my brain take all of this in, I was looking around at the trees surrounding the porch, and the clearing that showed so much of the land. I realized that there are billions of trees, and no two are truly identical – and each one is beautiful in some way. After spending some time there, I could appreciate tree differences very well. There are billions of trees in the world, and billions of people, and countless other beautiful and unique beings of all sorts. And this is only a fraction of a fraction of G-d’s power and majesty and creative light? My mind was blown, but in a good way. We finished learning, finished breakfast, and went out to collect mosquito bites (sorry, to see the fields and the butterflies and the garden and the pond,) and this echoed around in the back of my mind. It really changed the way I saw everything.

I’m sorry for rambling – I’m so tired, but I wanted to get this post out before Shabbat. I may edit for clarity soon. Have a wonderful Shabbat, readers!

Tisha b’Av 5777 – 1

I’m reading my way through an introduction to Megilas Eicha, and I’m reading about why the First Bais HaMikdash was destroyed, the sins that brought down the nation.

I just don’t understand… They had everything we dream of today, G-d with them in the Holy Temple. Why did they throw it away?

I want to understand them, to excuse them, to find a reason why this could possibly make sense… And what hope we have of doing better I’m going to keep reading. And crying

Tisha b’Av thought posts forecast

I apologize in advance – it does not seem likely that I will be able to run the usual set of posts that usually are posted over Tisha b’Av. Personal commitments require me elsewhere.

Really, all my thoughts at the moment are the same… why haven’t we learned to get along yet? We Yidden can do almost anything, we can face almost any challenge, we can solve almost every problem. Why haven’t we solved the challenge of Galus? It’s not a punishment, it’s to prepare us for Geulah, which we could be ready for at any moment. But it’s been thousands of years, and we are still not ready for Geulah, still not ready to live together in Israel and serve G-d as one multifaceted but brilliant jewel. We’re too busy splitting ourselves apart.

Every other day of the year is dedicated towards looking forward to Geulah and working towards Geulah, and towards making this world a better place for each other. Today is the day that we look back at the past year, at our past generation, and regret that even if Moshiach comes tomorrow (please!) it will not have come yesterday. Or last week, before the most recent terror attacks. Or last year, before so much other pain. Today is the day to realize that, while we will never give up hope, we need to try harder.

There are countless other resources available to help you feel Tisha b’Av – the pain and yearning and the spark of hope. They’re available online at Chabad.org, Torah Anytime, the Kotel Camera, and many other sites. There may be programming at the local shul. And there is always megillat Eicha.

Wishing you all an easy and meaningful fast…

Shuir recommendation

In these days without music, while we quietly reflect on the destruction of the past, and our hopes for the future, the lack of noise can be a blessing – and a distraction. If you need background noise while you work, a shiur is a good choice. Baruch Hashem, the Torah world is thriving, even online, and there are no end of speeches and lessons and short divrai Torah to listen to.

Aside from the large number of Tisha B’Av related classes, this is also an opportunity to try something new – a recorded parsha class, mussar, hashkafah, or anything else that will help you get through the day. Whether you listen to them intently, or subconsciously soak up the Torah while you work, it has benefits.

I would like to give a special shout-out to the lectures of Ms. Chana Spiro (link to Torah Anytime here) for women and young ladies. I would start with her first speech, the one from 2016, and move forward from there. I listened to that speech live, and then downloaded it. It never fails to make me cry, but it a good way.

Torah Anytime also has so many other recordings for people of all ages and interests, including video recordings and live streams of some classes. If you haven’t looked at it yet, please consider it now. There is something there for everyone.

A good Shabbat Nachamu to all!

A Good Shabbat Nachamu to everyone! May you be comforted from all your hurts and challenges!

I saw something the other day that I just had to share. I’m signed up to Torah Anytime’s email list, and they sent out their ‘Tisha b’Av stats’

tisha b'av stats

I did the math, and that’s and 162% increase! Kol Ha’Kavod to everyone who learned. You are helping bring Moshiach sooner.

Now, if you help bring it…

Every year for the past few years, I’ve written a post that I firmly believe Moshiach can, and will, come this year, and that we’ve just seen the last Tisha B’Av. The first ones were in my journal, and more recent ones are shared here.

And in spite of being wrong, every year, I still believe. I believe that the upcoming Tisha B’Av might be the promised day of celebration, and even if that doesn’t happen, I will believe the same of next year. But I’m coming to realize that it isn’t so simple.

We aren’t waiting for G-d to ‘spontaneously’ decide that now is the time for Moshiach. WE HAVE THE POWER TO BRING MOSHIACH EVERY DAY! WE HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO TRY TO BRING MOSHIACH EVERY DAY!

(Sorry for yelling but that was really therapeutic.) Let me explain. G-d can bring the Moshiach at any time. But He is waiting for us to be ready, waiting for us to receive the Moshiach with open arms as one united people. Learning this made me realize that it’s not that I believe that G-d can bring the Moshiach, because of course He can. It’s ‘do I believe that my fellow Jews have the ability to bring the Moshiach?’ And the answer is yes.

So, why isn’t the Moshiach here yet? Good question. As much as I believe we are each responsible for bringing Moshiach, the only person I have control over is myself. So the question is – ‘If I believe that everyone has the potential to bring Moshiach, and I trust that everyone is doing their own personal best, then what more can I do to bring Moshiach?’

That’s what the Three weeks, and the Nine days, are meant to make us think about. We’re meant to truly appreciate the depth of what we have lost, of what we are missing in our lives each day.  It’s not meant to drag us down into hopeless misery, but to motivate us to do better, to try harder, since we have the potential to bring back, not only what we have lost, but a whole new bright future.

So, do your best. Try a little bit harder. Embrace the pain and sadness and use it to remind yourself that no one else should ever hurt like that because of you. Examine yourself and see where you have room to improve, and if you think you’re doing your best (as I have faith you all are,) you are welcome to climb aboard here and help others improve.

EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU HAS THE POWER TO BRING MOSHIACH TODAY! REMEMBER THAT! YOU ARE AMAZING! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

Artistic Visit

Today we had the privilege of having a guest speaker in our careers class. She volunteered her time to visit her old school and speak for close to an hour, two consecutive classes

Not only was I impressed with her speech and the information she taught us, I was also impressed with her career. Makeup artist is often seen as such an external-related, physical, gashmiyusdik occupation. Hearing her speak gave me a totally different mindset.

First of all, in contrast to the gashmiyus of the makeup industry, she was dressed impeccably tzniusdikly. Her own makeup was subtle and very tasteful—in fact, clueless me is just assuming that she was wearing any at all. The glow of her skin was concentrated only in the areas that were visible

She described using makeup for the most spiritual of purposes—to make brides look amazing and feel confident on their wedding days. She talked about how the flexible hours allowed her to work even after her own marriage (Hashem should bless them both with everything). She emphasized how thrilled she was to finish school and work with the frum community.

Thank you for many lessons, well taught.

The lunch that lasted all afternoon

What bracha do you make on a tuna wrap?

I still don’t know. But THANK YOU to all the teachers and rebbeim who took time out of their day to point me towards the right person and THANK YOU to the teacher who provided me with the solution.

The consensus? Still unknown. But I was told that my mezonot was ok and to say an al hamichyah.

As with nearly everything, if you find yourself in a similar situation, ask a Rabbi!

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!

Huge Kiddush Hashem

http://forward.com/news/306056/can-an-orthodox-charity-help-save-lives-in-this-mans-church/

Not only are the actions presented in the article amazing and bring honour to Hashem, but so does the article. So rare at the moment is an article that is from a secular site, yet honest and unbiased.

Apologies that the article is too long to embed. It looks clean and good, but, as with always, think before you click.