Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Generation of Exodus

The great Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria writes that the last generation before the coming of Moshiach is the reincarnation of the generation of the Exodus.  In my last blog post I wrote about my daughter's spiritual journey towards her Bat Mitzvah. Well I read a intersting thought today that sparked a new understanding for me personally.

"Today, as we stand at the threshold of the ultimate redemption, it is once again the woman whose song is the most poignant, whose tambourine is the most hopeful, whose dance is the most joyous. Today, as then, the redemption will be realized in the merit of righteous women. Today, as then, the woman’s yearning for Moshiach — a yearning which runs deeper than that of the man, and inspires and uplifts it — forms the dominant strain in the melody of redemption."
Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

(C)Copyright 2006 silk painitng by Rivka Sari

There is no doubt as a religious woman I yearn for Moshiach so much more than I ever have. The world seems to be in caos and so much is terrible happening around the world that I 'm concerned for the future of my children and their future generations. Is there going to be a world left? So when I read this teaching from the Rebbe I realized this is getting to be the generation of redemption. I'm now begining to understand that my daughter is feeling it too. Is she that generation? I do not know the answer, but one thing I do know that the golus (Exile) is coming to a end because knowledge is increasing at such a rate that only goodness will be desired. We are are certainly headed for a better world to come, the Olam Haba. As we are getting ready to celebrate Chanukah we are celebrating light and it will multiply as time moves forward.  See you in Jerusalem! 

 "קץ ישטטו רבים ותרבה הדעת"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bat Yisrael (Daughter of Israel)

As I watch my daughter study Torah in Jewish school I began to realize she is just four years from bat mitzvah and it struck me we have to start planning now. But then I breathed a sigh because I have been planning this since she was born. The only real tangible thing we can give our children is Torah because it is the only one thing that shows her how to be a good Jew and be a good fellow human being. I want her to live a good spiritual life and pass on Torah to her children. I read Psalms 128 and I realized this blessing is not just for a man but one that is for a woman. Women have the most influence on children and I pray I have been doing ok in that department.

שיר המעלות אשרי כל־ירא יהוה ההלך בדרכיו׃
יגיע כפיך כי תאכל אשריך וטוב לך׃
אשתך כגפן פריה בירכתי ביתך בניך כשתלי
זיתים סביב לשלחנך׃
הנה כי־כן יברך גבר ירא יהוה׃
יברכך יהוה מציון וראה בטוב ירושלם כל ימי
וראה־בנים לבניך שלום על־ישראל׃
Psalms 128

Women don't have to be like men, and men don't have to be like women, every single creation has a purpose in this world, a purpose which no one else but him or her can accomplish. Being religious jewish family I am told that a woman does not need the spiritual elevation of milah, or a kippah for that matter. Nor does she need an aliyah to the Torah. The word "aliyah" means to be called up, be elevated; a woman does not need the public elevation which comes from being called up to the Torah. This is because she is either naturally elevated due to her unique spiritually sensitive feminine soul, or because she achieves elevation through observing those special mitzvot which are designed to elevate the Jewish woman. But my daughter wants to go up to Torah not because she wants to be like a man or to prove she can do anything like a man can.

 My daughter says she wants to have her special moment singing her "Song of Miriam". She explains it like this. When Moshiach arrives we will sing the song of Moshe and Miriam. And that song is our portion of the Torah that is troped based on the date of our birth. Wow talk about spiritual at age 7 1/2 already! She describes that the Song of Moshe and Miriam in the olam haba (world to come) is it will start with Jewish people who were born during weekly parsha reading of Bereshes will sing and then the next parsha to the next until the whole Torah is sung. Powerful scene right? Needless to say I was speechless by her dream and vision also by her strong desire to learn her portion's trope (Hebrew cantillation) so she can indeed make alyia at her bat mitzvah. I have lately been exploring options where she can be frum still and have her alyia to to read the Sefer Torah. "Women of the Wall" maybe that option or "Feminist Orthodox Movement" maybe another option.
The chassidic masters teach "The tenth song, says the Midrash, will be the shir chadash, the "New Song" of the ultimate redemption: a redemption that is global and absolute; a redemption that will annihilate all suffering, ignorance, jealousy, and hate from the face of the earth; a redemption of such proportions that the yearning it evokes, and the joy it brings, require a new song -- a completely new musical vocabulary -- to capture the voice of Creation's ultimate striving."
see ( My daughter says "this the singing of the whole Torah in the Olam Haba." My daughter is definately touching on a huge spiritual concept at such a young age.

Whatever choice we find to make my daughter's dream a reality, we know that she will make every step towards her bat mitzvah a wonderful journey. My daughter wants to go beyond the party and reading a poem or even having a speach she says I want to sing that song that Hashem gave every Jewish Neshama born into this world. Then she really sends my mind on a high beyond high and says she has to have to have that practice time for the olam haba (the world to come). So we have four years to prepare and if Moshiach arrive then she will be ready if not then B"H she will have her time to practice. Either way I already know she is taking Torah and will pass it on to her children. L'dor V'dor! (generation to generation)

May you live to see your world fulfilled.
May your destiny be for worlds to come;
May you trust in generations past and yet to be.
My your heart be filled with intuition and words with insight;
May songs of praise ever be on your tongue
And your visions be on a straight path before you.
From the Talmud~

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three lightings for Shabbos


It has been a while since I blogged. I have been very busy with homeschooling, art shows, market places, kinderlach appointments to the dentist, doctors. So life is full and very fast spaced. When shabbos comes it is long desired for each week. To rest, feel refreshed, and to enjoy shabbos with friends and family alike is wonderful. It is what our whole family looks forward to each week.

There is an undercurrent of excitement and joyful anticipation as the family eagerly prepares for Shabbos and another visit from the Shabbos Queen. An atmosphere of tranquility and family unity descends upon the house. Shabbos is indeed a day of rest physically, and emotionally. All grief, care, and burdens are forbidden and indeed, with ourselves. However, Shabbos is enriched not only with rest but with activity. This is alluded in the expressions:
"Remember the Shabbath to sanctify it (Exodus 20:7), by licht benching (candle lighting), reciting Kiddush, dining festively, dressing in special clothes, praying, listening to Torah reading in Shul, and learning and discussing portions of Torah.
Refers to guarding oneself from any of the forbidden 39 categories of work (melacha) as well as others which may be halachically permitted but are not fitting or appropriate on this special day.
Every Jewish home should contain pushkas, containers designed for Jewish charities, shuls and yeshivas. Money, even a few coins, should be put in these every day. Before lighting the Shabbos candles is an especially appropriate time to fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah. We cannot begin too early to teach our childeren the importance of tzedakah. As a matter of fact with each one of our children their first words were " Emah, Abba, and Tzedakah"

Our Sages have said, "Great is the mitzvah of candle lighting, as it brings peace into the world." On one level this means that the light of the Shabbos candles brings peace by illuminating the house so that people do not stumble in the dark or bump into each other.

In a deeper sense, Chassidut teaches us that the Shabbos candles light up the house and every member of the family with the light of the Torah which guides them safely along the path of life that is full of dangerous pitfalls.

Every mitzvah of the Torah is likened to a candle: "Ki Ner Mitzvah v'Torah Or" (a mitzvah is a candle and Torah is a light [Proverbs 6:23) Each mitzvah that a person does effects a physical and spiritual illumination. Each mitzvah---each light tunes us in more closely to the sprituality latent in this world.Candle lighting has always been a special and auspicious time, one of meditation and quiet prayer. The Jewish woman or girl stands before the kindled flames with eyes covered as she recites the blessing. The reason that the blessing must be said after, rather than before, lighting the candles is that if the blessing were to be recited first it would seem as if the woman has already "inaugurated Shabbos." In that case she would not be permitted to light the candles, since kindling of the lights on the Shabbos is forbidden.

At this moment, when the family is gathered together, she has traditionally offered a silent or verbal prayer on behalf of her husband and children. In generations past, personal prayers in Yiddish called "techinos" were commonly said by Jewish women before doing a mitzvah and on special occasions.
A minimum of two candles are lit corresponding to the two expressions of Shabbos mentioned preveiously: "Zochor" (remember) and "Shomor" (guard), that are mentioned in the Ten Commandments. Some women add an additional light with the birth of each child and continue lighting it throughout the years. The lights are symbolic of the cheerfulness and serenity which distinguishes the Shabbos.

Shabbos is so special to our family that is become an oppertunity to bless our children and let them know how proud we are of them for all the wonderful mitzvos they have done during the week. To see them beaming with smiles that just can make your heart melt. This is the second light we ignite on Shabbos is praising our children and seeing the light within them grow and become brighter than ever before. This is especially a kosher light for Shabbos and the most important.

Some special ingredients at the Shabbos table, where the meal is more leisurely joyful and elaborate, and where all family members are present, are the Torah talks (whch are more detailed than at the weekday table) the songs and guests.

Our sages teach us that the Sechinah (Divine Presence) doe not rest on a person sunk in sadness or laziness, but comes only with the joy of mitzvah performance. Therefore, when a Jew prepares to invite Hashem's presence to his Shabbos table, he must first be able to declare that he has prepared himself for it by elevating himself to the level of spiritual joy which can be done only by means of holy pursuits, such as praising G-d, study of Torah, and performance of good deeds.

Some of the songs (zmiros) sung at the Shabbos meals are from the Siddur (prayer book), some from the psalms, and some from other Holy writings, while other nigunim (tunes) are wordless. All are full of the feeling of joy and faith which fills our hearts on special holy days. According to the Rabbis, food can be sanctified by holy utterances pronounced at the table, and a food thus hallowed becomes a "food of healing."

The third light is the havdallah candle. The Havdalah prayer is said over a cup of wine, with a blessing. However, grape juice, beer, and certain other liquids may be used instead. In addition, two other blessings are also recited. The first blessing is said over the smelling of spices. Sweet. smelling spices have the ability to revive broken spirits, and now that Shabbos is over and our added spiritual soul has departed, our mood needs to be uplifted and revived.

The second is a blessing for fire, said over the light of a Havdalah candle (a special candle made by combining several wicks or by joining the flame of two candles). One reason for this blessing is a remembrance for the light (fire) Adam made by rubbing two stones together when he first experienced darkness, which was on Saturday night. After the blessing, we hold our nails to the light to see the difference between dark and light reflected on our hands. The order of the blessings is wine, spice, flame, havdalah (acknowledgment of the separation).

"If you will obseve the kindling of the Sabbath lights you will merit to see the lights of the redemption of the Jewish people."

Gut Shabbos Yall'!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Revealing what's hidden within

"They are to observe these as days of feasting and gladness, and for sending delicacies to one another, and giving gifts to the poor." -- Esther 9:22

"Take the Christian Christmas pageant, add a down-home Halloween and a couple bottles of wine, and you start to get a good idea of the Purim festival." -- Judaism for Dummies

Really Purim seems to be the one Holiday that I can say really puzzles alot of people including those in the tribe. Where in the heck did the costumes come from? Purim is such a joyous holiday that the rabbis teach it will still be observed in the messianic age, when most all other holidays will be abolished. We look we find that succot of course will exist and the sages teach that Yom Kippor will a day of joy as well and feasting on foods instead of fasting. The costumes is the idea that Esther who is really Hadassah hides as a Persian when infact she was Jewish. The idea is that why we wear costumes is to also hide our true idenity and remember the story of Esther who saved the Jewish people from destruction because she only revealed her true inner self when the time was right. Some sages say that it is a time to remember that even when Hashem seems hidden that really He is near and that He is only hidden because it is the other way around we are actually hidden from HIm.
So how does that relate to costumes?  Our Purim costumes not only diguise but reveals also, and it demonstrate our aspirations and emotions, showing how we might act, given the opportunity to emerge from our "shells". While a costume can reveal our funny witty and happy fun loving  person it can also reveal the fact that person really feels like they are a stranger and hides it in their humor most of the time. The contrast between image and reality begs the question: by what is one judged? By actions, intentions, or nature?  I like the way one Rabbi  Yehoshua ben Prachya puts it, "judge everyone favorably" (Mishnah Avot 1:6). We must help that individual overcome the evil inclination by responding positively to negativity, throwing water on the flames, rather than oil. So sometimes what you see is not always be what it seems.

 It is important to really think about the costume you chose and how it reveals your inner self and what you really want to be in life. Do you want to be a peace make or give more charity , or maybe volunteer in something that helps people? Whatever it may be instead of hiding, reveal those inner desires to be better and want to do more. Put on that spiritual mask that helps you come out of your "shell" and do what you always wanted to do that truly is the best you can be. That spiritual mask hides the negative thhoughts you cannot do it or be the best. What is that spiritual mask? Well it is called complete emunah in Hashem that He is always near and never let you down and totally believes in you and that you an overcome these negative inclinations that hold you back. A person is not judged by their inclinations, but rather by their reactions to those inclinations. So next time when you see someone who seems bad in nature remember that person maybe hiding the goodness inside somewhere deep just waiting for that right time to reveal his or herself.

Happy Purim Yall!!