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.

Mid-conversation consideration

I arrived at shul last night for megillah reading (I walked, and it was lovely out) and sat down in an open seat with an empty chair on either side. At about five minutes before the reading was to start, I looked up to find that the four older girls who’d sat down by me, two on each side, were talking over my head. They were trying to work out why some other friends weren’t here and compare notes on which ones had a megillah reading already aranged for the night.

I didn’t mind just sitting there and letting them talk, but wouldn’t the girls be more comfortable not talking over a (however much shorter) head? I had no problems moving to the end of the row to let them talk in peace.

While I was waiting for the right time to speak up, one suddenly turned to me. “Oh! I’m so sorry. We’ve been talking over you all this time!” I rushed to tell her that it was no big problem, I didn’t mind, and I was happy to move if it was more convenient for her. But no, she continued, telling me that it was ok, I was fine where I was, and that she really was sorry. Put me in a great frame of mind for megillah reading.

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

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!