mardi, juillet 12, 2005

mah rabbu ma'asecha Hashem

I spent the past three days miserable from a migraine headache. (I'm going to have to do something about the low-stress thing...) Everytime I moved I threw up or was nauseous. I couldn't see, because I had these spots in my eyes that I couldn't focus or see what was there. The pain around my skull as like this tremendous pressure. It hurt in an unbearable manner. Today, when I woke up without that pain for the first time in three days, I truly thought, wow, I am so grateful. I walked out and about and really praised Hashem for all the sights I saw -- the ability to move without nausea, to see clearly, to adore the trees... There is nothing so precious as being able to take one foot, put it down next to the other, to stand, to walk, to go about freely... to see, to speak, to write, to simply be. We are blessed indeed...

Being cheerful and aware of the other things in the world is really important for maintaining perspective and I for one am grateful.

I think Hanich Teller would say that R'Binyamin Steinberg z"l would say...
Today, what does G-d want of me?

lundi, juillet 11, 2005

Inwardly, a princess, Outwardly, a Jane.

It is so incredibly important for a Jewish audience to know that every day, when they dress nicely on the outside yet inwardly do not behave properly… they create a desecration to G-d’s name, called in Hebrew a “chillul Hashem.”

A young man told me that wearing nice clothes was a sign of self-respect. I saw how little respect he gave to others and wondered how little self-respect he must have if he didn't respect other people. Indeed if that was the sum total of his show of dignity, that he could wear nice clothing... then it makes more sense to say that those who dress well are empty inside. The clothes are a sham to fool those who cannot perceive and make them think the person within is of some stature.

Occasionally, I come across people who dress well in order to remind themselvse to behave well. If one is mindful that this is the reason then how well that person must behave!

I would rather see men and women who dress in a more average manner, but who behave with the courtesy of a princess, the kindness of someone who has so much they can afford to give generously, and the dignity and respect of someone of stature. When we teach our children about how to behave, we rarely call upon them to respect themselves, rather we teach them instead to behave because it will come with rewards of love –in this day an age that means material goods or attention. What have we been teaching really then?

Comportment often reveals much about an inner person. I for one shall have to strive harder to be a better cat than I have been of late... no more bow ties, until I stop biting the hand that feeds me... ;)

dimanche, juillet 10, 2005

donating to the Jewish Federation...

So this morning I was reading about Rabbi Binyamin Steinberg's life and how he was always grateful to people for what they did.. a concept called hakarat hatov in Hebrew.. and then I got to thinking...

Steinberg touched the lives of a lot of people and those people kept up his legacy and passed on to tohers what they thought and learned.. at some point Hanoch Teller writes a book about him and I among many thousands of others get that book read it and are touched by it and its messages.. and we do things becuase those ideas are given more strnegth in our minds.. and slowly the impact of one man, becomes an impact on a millions or possibly millions of people... we are all part of a grand tapestry, becuase we are all living beings sharing a place in time and space on this earth..

... and the Federation miraculusly were able to capitalize on this...

So, if you think about how we are all interconnected. every life is like a tapestry interwoven and linked from one person to another.. our lives.. each life in fact is part of a domino effect. Indeed, if the Federation is out there someplace helping some poor Jew and all actions in life are a ripplee effect, eventually the good they do for this one person will reach me, my children, my children's children... and it is as always a ripple effect which becomes a force in my world and in my life, whether I can see it or not. If such is the case, well, despite how little I might have... how can I not give to them?

It is impossible to say that this is not partly a matter of selfishness, becuase is it not selfish to think that in giving charity one is ultimately helping oneself.. but the truth is we are rarely do anything without motivation of some sort.. our minds do not function in a vacuum. Pst years of experience and current thoughts mix to give us what we are and what we have now. No matter, at any rate, the Federation got its first donation from me ever today.

jeudi, juillet 07, 2005

the beginnings of a rambling... regarding zionism -heavily Jewish topic, not likely to be of interest to others

Why are we so enthralled with taking sides in politics?

I ask this particularly with regard to Israel and Israeli politics.

Can one love the land and not give to her? Can one's heart beat with the land and not know to build her and be built by her? Can one adore the land and not feel her crying when we are not our good selves within her boundaries? Can one know that of all the land in the world that Hashem chose her to be his own, no "sar" to reign over her, but HKB"H and not feel the kedusha it imparts?

Whatever Jew -or Jewish stripes- one bears, ... be ye yeshivish, hiloni, chareidi, modern orthodox, new age or whatever they will come up with next... a Jewish neshama is connected to that land.

I cannot speak for any other Jew, nor can I say much about the polity, becuase to be honest I know next to nothing of the politics. I'm so far from newspapers and from news websites that I am ill-equipped to debate much of anything regarding the politics. I rarely ever think of the politics, but of the people and of the land. Nothing matters more than Am Yisrael living as one nation. Nothing matters more than Eretz Yisrael's kedusha. The two are inexorably intertwined.

Whatever comes politically, the unity of the people is of greatest concern to me.

A friend said to me that he doesn't associate Zionism with yeshivish values... I don't know what values one associates with yeshivish types. I don't know either what values one associates with da'ati leumi types. I don't fit in either world and never will probably. It would be best if I could fit in both and maybe someday I shall. I would wish to embody the best of both worlds if I were granted the privilege of such a good character.

The da'ati leumi scorn the yeshivish for caring naught about the land, for their superficiality, and for their excessive sinat hinam. (Mind you, the yeshivish are winning the battle for ba'alei tshuva so they must be doing SOMETHING right.) The yeshivish scorn the da'ati leumi for not really learning torah, for having no dedication to halacha or mitzvot , and for having no standards. I would have them scorn no one, but see how collectively they work together to build our people and our faith. If I could have a hand in pulling people together and building Am Yisrael, I would be grateful for my life's journey when I got to its end no matter how hard the journey.

It is a painful concept to join one side to spit on the other. So why do we do it? Why are there countless Jews standing on one side of the argument yelling at countless Jews standing on the other side? A friend yesterday gave me an orange bracelet that reads "I love Gush Katif" on one side and reads " Jews don't expel Jews" on the other side. I will spare you what I personally think about such items, slogans, politics, etc., because I don't think it matters. What matters at this moment is that I recalled seeing people in orange, with orange signs, on a picket line shouting and protesting when I was in Washington, D.C. and feeling sad. I was sad that once again Jew is pitted against Jew.

If to be Zionist or not to be Zionist means creating this sort of division... I wish I could throw the whole lot of it out and start over again. What kind of world would we have if we began parenting our children, teaching them to love and about love, and standing up not against one another, but for one another? --hah, okay, so I'm a pipe-dreamer. Well, what's next best?

What if we united in our love of the land and united in our need to ensure a homeland of any sort for Jews? ( they might have a place to go when America turns Muslim? heh, heh. okay. Well, you never know.)

mardi, juillet 05, 2005

two sparks I hope will change the world

If we can change the education system, we can change the world...
I believe that with all my heart...
and some day I hope to live it with all my heart. I almost cried over the second article listed below. It's the kind of thing I see in Jewish schools everywhere.. this shtuss.. where the students think they can bargain with the teachrs.. chutzpah that is in the wrong place.. and really partly because the parents are letting the school parrent but the school isn't able to parent the kids. More and more we see this... not just in Jewish schools, in public schools, in schools all over... and the tide must turn. This method is creating more and more kids who are depressed, suicidal, who act out and bully others... kids need love and boundaries... adults do, too.

Someone asked me once about G-d's love and freedom... how is it the Jews were taken out of Egypt to freedom.. to serve G-d... Isn't the service of G-d another slavery, she asked me. The most amazing thing, I thought, is that the laws are a sign of G-d's love.. just like a parent who teaches his child with limits ... a life without limits is a life without love ...

In very very simplistic terms it goes a bit like this... If you love yourself you will put limits on how much you give to others. If you love others you will put limits on how much you take and push. If you learn to love yourself and others than you learn to live free. because you have learned to be strong for yourself. You have learned to break the confines that bind you to not-loving yourself or others... and this is freedom, becuase when you love the world easily, you find doors open up within. To love yourself and to love others, requires some bottomline discipline.

meow, so saith the Cat.
We shall fight garbage on the beaches
By Yuval Azoulay

the articles are pasted int he comments section.. click on the comments to read them.
Stand and Deliver
By Vered Levy-Barzilai

I've begun reading a new book

So I started reading Sam Apple's book on shleping through the alps, but couldn't bring myself to finish it. I've put it down in favor of reading _Impressions of Theophrastus-Such_ by George Eliot. It's great fun. Lately, I've read a lot of non-ficiton and I think that I'd like to go back and start again on reading classics... I recent;y heard Rabbi schwarz talking about Prisoner of Zelda, which I havent' read yet, but would really like to.

I just today finished another run through editing of the story I'm writing from yom Hashoah. I'm figuring that those of you who want to read the story can leave me a comment and I'll email it to you. It begins like this...

Shterna Ester walked briskly down the street towards her grandmother's home. She was in a rush, with so many errands to do before shabbat. The day was bright, but still had a lingering mid-morning chill. She looked above and remembered what Gramma Helen had told her once, "In the camps, sometimes there were these bright days and the first time it was like this, you couldn't believe G-d could be so cruel. The irony was that the day was so beautiful in its crispness and so precise in its delicacy, and here we were with everything taken from us. Over time though, we ignored days like this. Only after the war, when we were free -you know I could not believe them, when they told us we were free?- I learned again to love this kind of a day." Shterna Ester breathed in the air, like a sweet, tart apple, its taste going deep into her heart. Today, she hoped Gramma Helen would tell her stories, while she set up the apartment for shabbos. Today felt like a story day.

If you want the rest of the story you've got to post me a comment...