Bridges

ב׳׳ה

There are many truths,
but none of them is Truth,
so the only answer is Love.
We must summon compassion
when we least think we can
and offer it to those
who think that we won’t.
For then bridges are built,
one person to another,
that will carry us all to Heaven.

******************

praying shabbat brings more shalom to us all, jen

How old am I?? 

ב׳׳ה


This week we return in the Torah to “my portion” — B’har/B’chukotai — the portion of my conversion to Judaism and of my bat mitzvah.  It’s been 12 years since my conversion and 9 years since my bat mitzvah.   Each of those events feels simultaneously like they happened yesterday and a hundred years ago. 

May is also the month of my physical birth — 47 years ago, which I find really hard to believe because I remain a total kid at heart.  I find great joy in playing with my sons, whether building Legos, playing video games, racing cars, jumping on trampolines, or battling with Nerf guns.   

In a video I posted here a few weeks ago, Rabbi Rami Shapiro reminded his audience that whatever we think our age is, we have to add at least 13.8 BILLION years to it, because the pure soul that we were given is a piece of Hashem and has existed at least since The Big Bang.  

And, yet, each day, as we say in the morning prayer Yotzer Or, Gd renews Creation . . . including each of us!!   Because of this, Rabbi Nachman taught we need to take full advantage of each day for the unique opportunities that it offers. Who knows how we might be different today from yesterday, what  new talent or skill or interest we might find within ourselves . . . and maybe that also means that this version of me is here only today, so today, and every day, is Day 1 of an amazingly miraculous adventure!! 

I don’t know what number best describes my age, but I know I’m going to keep embracing each day and the opportunities Hashem gives me to live, to laugh, and to love.  And I pray you’ll do the same.  

Shabbat shalom to all — may you feel young and excited to be alive!!  jen

my little ukulele experiment

ב׳׳ה

Yes, that’s a ukulele. 

And, yes, I’m learning to play Jewish songs on it to lead family services and Tot Shabbats.  

And, yes, I’m having more fun than should be possible for someone who tried (very, very unsuccessfully!!) over a number of years to learn to play guitar.  

And, yes, I may fail miserably with this little ukulele experiment, but I’m going to have LOTS of fun trying!!!   

You see, over a decade ago, my Rabbi encouraged me to let go of my need to be perfect and to instead embrace the idea that only through trial-and-error would I begin to test the limits of my potential to “become” as an image of Gd.  It took me way too many years to begin living that philosophy, and now that I am, I can’t wait to see what I find to challenge me next!!    

The immense JOY to be found in every day of this Journey — living as a spirit having human experiences, rather than a human having occasional spiritual experiences — never ceases to amaze me . . . jen 

White Fire

ב׳׳ה


White Fire
The White Fire of Hashem holds many secrets sublime, connections and mysteries that remain true for all time. Standing in that Fire is an experience to be shared, but no words can truly capture the wisdom held there. The passion and promise of unbounded Love; the Joy and Peace are so much more than enough to bind us to the beauty and grandeur of Life, to strengthen our resolve to build peace and not strife. We emerge from the Fire being less, and yet more, forged to handle tasks Hashem has in store.

Mizmor l’David

ב׳׳ה

I’ve fallen in love with Rabbi Menachem Creditor’s rendition of Mizmor l’David, so I thought I’d share it before Shabbat.   The lyrics are in Hebrew and are the verses of Psalm 23, which in English says:

Psalm 23

1
A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.

3
He restoreth my soul; He guideth me in straight paths for His name’s sake.

4
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.

5
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

The Hebrew text is available here.  And transliteration of the Hebrew is here.   

Before and after singing all six of those verses in order, Rabbi Creditor repeatedly sings the middle of verse 4 — “lo ira ra ki Atah imadi” — which is generally translated to something like: “I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”   

Early this morning, as I began trying to get the text of Psalm 23 into this post, and as I was deciding whether to include the Hebrew text, I noticed something strange about the Hebrew in that repeated phrase.  “You are with me” comes from two Hebrew words “Atah imadi.”  Atah means You, and every translation i found online indicated “imadi” is “with me.”   But “imad” is from the root for “omed” which means “stand.”  So really, what the line means is that Hashem will “stand me”… that when we are so terrified that we think we may fall down, Hashem will keep us standing… and that’s a much more beautiful image than God simply being “with” us!! 

Shabbat shalom!!!  jen 

Jewish superstitions??

ב׳׳ה

Friends — I’m currently taking a class on Jewish Magic and Superstition, about the ways in which various amulets, phrases, etc. have been used throughout Jewish history to “produce” a desired effect or to “protect” from evil forces.  

One well-known amulet is the Hamsa (derived from the word for “five” in Arabic), an example of which I have provided in the picture above.   Hamsa typically take the shape of a hand and they were/are believed to provide protection from evil.   

My homework assignment is to ask others about superstitious behavior they may have “inherited” from Jewish parents, grandparents, or mentors.   If you have any stories you are willing to share, I’d love to hear them!!!   Thank you for any help you can provide with my homework.  😊

shavua tov, jen 

Perspective . . . 

ב׳׳ה

Three “views” of one moment:

1.

2.


3.


.

None of them is right or wrong.  All of them contain Truth and offer an opportunity to see holiness unfolding.  It’s just a matter of perspective and focus. 

The same is no less true when we interact with other people.  They are not “standing” where we stand, and their “focus” may not be where ours is.  It doesn’t make their “snapshot” of a moment wrong.  Only different.  

This week, may we be cognizant of our perspectives, and may we have more patience for the perspectives of others.

  shavua tov, jen