Food for the soul

Those days when you leave the house for an entire day, and the second you arrive at your destination, you realize that you left some of your food behind.

Thank you to the wonderful friend who gave me some food.

And thank you to G-d, who decided that today, she should have my favorite food- and not want to eat it.

Yes, this is a normal thing for a person to do. But did you ever think about how amazing normal can be sometimes?

For even one hour

Even if my tear-drenched, perched on the edge of my bed seeking relief from the pain, tearing my heart out for the umpteenth time today- prayers only gave me this burst of good feeling and health for– I’d say three hours now– it was worth it.

I hope it stays. I not only hope, I pray. I really really want it to. But even a small taste of relief, gone tomorrow, is an answer to my prayers from G-d. Even if He can’t take away the full burden, for reasons only He knows, He lightened the load a little for me.

 

The though I bring to you today is this: In a strategy game I play sometimes, if you make a fatal move you can reverse, undo, and try to choose a better one. You don’t get that in real life, unfortunately (but yet fortunately, more on that later) but the closest most of us will ever get is during these next ten days of teshuvah. We get an opportunity to look back at what we did, restart, and use the new year well. And if we do, it wipes the slate of the past clean.

Wishing all of you that 5776 be a year of growth, healing, blessing and light in all areas of life. See you at the Bais Hamikdash!

Change is good

When I cry out to G-d in a fit of frustration, it seems that the most often comment is– “Why so soon after the last test?! Can I not be allowed to breath freely or smile without worry for a minute?!” It seems that the tests come one after the other– as soon as one finishes, the next is less than a day away, and sometimes hours or even only 30 minutes past the last one. And I’m not talking about little things. I’m not going to get into an objective ‘is this an issue or not’ because we could spend all day topping each other; but to me at least, these are very big things. Things outside my ability to handle that can often take months to resolve.

The past two days have been the first two days of school. And, looking back, I really have had that break I asked for. Sure, I spent the first day back telling people not to hug me because my guts might fall out onto the floor (yes, I really was feeling that sick at first, and it was beyond hilarious when I said it to an over-enthusiastic teacher); I had a dilemma with my lunchbox and a horrible time with my safa diagnostic test, and I still don’t have my new headphones. But all of these, in the grand scheme of things, are pretty minor. Most importantly, I had the resilience to treat them as such.

But I’ve never laughed so much on the first day of school before. Ever. Or nearly any day, in fact. It turns out I can take better care of myself then I though, and so my health’s basically been stable. (To the utter shock of the resource room director, who’s known me for a while.) I won’t say the past two days have been so easy, but they’ve been amazing fun, amazing growth, and a lot of a lighter load then I’m used to getting from Above.

No doubt, even if I wasn’t ‘due’ for another test right now, writing this will seal the deal. But that’s ok. It won’t erase what a wonderful start of the year it’s been. I hope I’ll cherish these simple sweet memories for a while.

It’s ok to get upset when bad things happen. For me, acknowledging it’s hard, and that each test pushes me past what I think I can do, even as I usually come out ok, is how I get the strength to pull together and move on with life. But there’s a flip side. You have to knowledge the good. Believe it or not, I just did.

Thank you G-d, from the bottom of the healthy heart You gave me, written with the fingers that feel pretty good today, recognized with the amazing brain You gave me to use, on the computer that works well, for a day that was good not just in hindsight, but right here and now.

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.

Min Hametzar

I keep a running collection of quotes, and today was ‘Quote Day,’ where I sent one or two to each close friend. At one, I was at a loss. She’d seen my entire collection recently, including some of my best ones and the ones most suited to her. I picked a couple new ones I hoped would work and sent them off.

How was I supposed to know that the first one featured a favorite of hers? And thanks to being delayed a few hours in sending, I received the reply right when I most needed cheering up.

Shimshon’s Siyata D’shmayah

Some frequent readers will remember my now not-so-recent haircut. After two comments people independently made on the very day I was trying to decide about growing it out, I decided to keep it that way. Right now, it’s kind of long and shaggy, but boy am I glad I didn’t cut it yet.

We went to my grandmother’s apartment, the grand family meeting place, today to visit a relative who’d just flown in. Halfway through the trip, I sat on the sofa behind the window. Then I ran my fingers through my hair. (No, that’s not the cause of the limp shagginess, though it’s probably not helping much.) To check, I did it again.

“Hey, my hair is wet!”

“It was raining out before.” I hadn’t been out in three hours. Not to mention that it was only the last half inch of my hair finely speckled with mist.

I turned around to check if maybe the window had been left open. I found a four inch diameter puddle of water on the windowsill– and the window was shut. My parents came to check. To make a long story short, a wet windowsill is a small problem when the entire back wall is sopping.

As much as this sounds like an unlikely way to find the issue, the chances of it being found any other way were even smaller. Thank you G-d, for long limp hair!

But for the grace of G-d

Thank You, thank You, thank You G-d!

It’s a miracle– I can’t explain it. My sewing machine has been malfunctioning for months. Nothing worked– teffilah (prayer) (always a good first step), adjustments, larger stitches, smaller stitches, a new needle– nothing!

Out of the blue, it started working perfectly. I hope (and pray) that it will stay that way! I have kavod Yom Tov to make!


An even bigger and greater thank You for another huge miracle. In this post, I mentioned the name Tuvia Avraham ben Chaya Zisha– Rabbi Meister. In a chance so unlikely it must be the hand of G-d, he is doing a hundred times better. Baruch Hashem! Im Yirtzeh Hashem, he will have a complete recovery soon.

If you davened (also means prayed)  for him, then thank YOU! You literally made my day– and most definitely his.

(The full story is in last week’s Mishpacha Magazine, for those who are interested.)

Coincidence? I think not

Today

  1. I had to be home at a certain time so that I could go back out again a few minutes later. Don’t ask.
  2. The bus got caught in minor traffic and was a few minutes late.
  3. As I texted my father, who was meant to meet me outside of shul, to please wait one more minute, the cellphone unexpectedly died, and refused to turn back on for even one more message.
  4. My father had an errand to run and left shul much faster than usual.
  5. I rushed to shul. My father’s car was not in the parking lot, so I went in to ask the Rav if I could call my parents and let them know I would be a few minutes late.

Then what happened?

  1. The Rav told me that he’d seen my father not a minute ago, and went out to check the curb where, unknown to me, he sometimes parks.
  2. My father had just pulled away.
  3. Another Rav, whom I’d never met before, instantly asked where I was going until I gave up on saying that I really could walk on my own as long as my parents were called.
  4. Not only did he drive me home, he spent the entire ride telling me that it wasn’t out of his way, it was meant to be, and how on earth could I deprive him of the opportunity to do a mitzvah.
  5. Meanwhile, the Rav of the Shul called my parents to explain what happened and that I would be home safe soon.
  6. TODAH RABAH

Today was a day with many chasdai Hashem, some revealed and glorious, some hidden and painful. I am immensely grateful to all those who gave the day its glory and gave honour to Hashem.

The brightest light in the darkest place

http://unitedwithisrael.org/the-holocaust-picture-that-offended-facebook/

To me, the point is not that Facebook flagged the photo, or why, or people’s reactions. To me, the biggest deal is not even the photo itself. Thank you Esther, for bringing this photo to my attention, and thank you Miriam, for adding light to a dark world. To me, the point is in Miriam’s own words, quoted by her father, who is quoted at the above link. For the remainder of the article, see their website.

As I searched for an applicable quote to close off this posting in honour of Yom HaShoah, I realized that a very appropriate quote would be the following excerpt from my daughter Miriam’s diary of her recent trip to the death camps of Poland:

“Today was kind of a gap day… The fill in day… And yet, it was one of the saddest days of my trip to Poland…

“Today, we visited a mass grave. Yes, on this program, we’ve been to many and I never cried at any of them. Not as much as I cried here. You see, this mass grave is different… This mass grave holds 700 children. Yes, you heard me… Children.

“Alone, frightened and clinging to whatever family they had with them, if they even had any left to cling to… Nazis shot them… The children… And for what? Because they couldn’t produce… They were useless to the Reich and so, they were shot… Murdered…

“These sweet children… Gone. No longer can we hear their sweet laughter or small feet dancing. No longer can we see the smiles on their faces or the innocent look in their beautiful eyes… Children that didn’t have the chance to live; to become and live their dreams. Stolen from us by the worst animal of all…

“I sat motionless at that mass grave. What else was I able to do? I was barely able to hold my head up… It hurt me more than anything. I don’t think there was one person on our program that didn’t shed a tear when we stood there listening to our rabbi talk about his family and how these children must have felt in their last moments…

“Then he did something I will remember forever.

“He said to us, “These children never got a chance to see the holy land or let alone be buried there. We should give them that chance…” He then proceeded to pick up a box full of dirt. “This,” he said, “is from my backyard. This is soil from Israel. If they can’t be buried in Israel, then we will bring Israel to them. Their light will forever live inside us. Whoever wants, can come take a hand full of soil and sprinkle it over the grave.”

“We all stood around him, frozen. We literally were frozen in place and suddenly I saw a hand reach out and take a handful of dirt and when the hand touched the soft soil, I realized that the hand was mine.

“I looked at the Rabbi and just for a moment, our eyes met. I guess it was a kind of comfort for me… I walked over to the grave and soon others did the same. I looked over that blue painted fence and in my mind, as I held that soil for just a moment longer, the shabbat blessing that a father and mother gives their child came to my mind. Over and over it ran through my head as I watched the wind scatter the soil across the grave.

“Tears just fell freely and all I was able to do was sit there as tears just kept falling. I was frozen at the fact that they were all gone… For no reason other than hatred… These beautiful children are the light in the darkness and their light will forever live on through me and through every breath I take. These children play at the foot of G-d’s Kiseh Hakavod [throne] now.

“Take care of them for me, please… They are with You now.”

– Miriam Ciss, March 27, 2015, Poland

Thank you for sharing these words with us. Though deeply personal, they have something to teach the entire world. Thank you for teaching us a lesson from history, so that we never repeat it. May this bring merit to the children’s memories, all 700 and 1 of them.

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!