Grateful to the angel

ב׳׳ה

Rabbi Simon said,  

“There is no plant without an angel in Heaven tending it and telling it, ‘Grow!'”

Genesis Rabba 10:7. 

A couple of months ago, there was a small thistle plant near the back gate of my patio.  And I was going to pull it out, as my boys and I use the back gate to access community green space and tennis courts.  But then, one morning, I noticed a rabbit eating the thistle plant’s leaves, and I decided we humans could step around the little thistle.  

Rabbit leaving after a thistle snack

Then, as the thistle grew and we began to get scratched on thorns when we used the door, baby rabbits began to visit, so I absolutely could not remove the “weeds” that were attracting them!!!  

Baby rabbit

After much rain and sun, and the urging of its angel in Heaven, the thistle now covers most of the walkway and is five feet (1.5 m) tall!  

And it blooms really beautiful purple flowers that attract hummingbirds and bees to drink from them…

And a rabbit still visits regularly, although I’m not sure if it’s the original adult or a grow-up baby…


My lease requires me to “maintain” my patio area, so I’m expecting my landlord to stop by one of these days and demand that I remove the thistle.  I doubt she would be swayed by my story of rabbits and the thistle’s angel in Heaven… but until it’s required, I’ll going to keep thanking the angel who grew the thistle that has brought so much beauty and life to our patio this summer!

shavua tov, a good week, to all, jen

Shema Yisrael!

ב׳׳ה


This week’s Torah portion contains the central declaration of the Jewish faith —

Shema Yisrael: Hashem Eloheinu, Hashem echad. 

Hear O Israel: Hashem is our Gd, Hashem is one.  

Over the centuries, commentators have found multiple ways to interpret that declaration.   The command to hear could be to the entire community collectively or to individuals.    One could mean “our Gd is unique among the gods that are worshipped” or “there is only one Gd in all of creation.” 

Yet perhaps the most interesting word in the Shema is Eloheinu, which is translated “our Gd,” but is derived from eloheim — a plural noun meaning gods, such that the Shema could be interpreted to mean “Hashem is all our gods and is one.”  

And at this time in the history of human civilization, that seems to be an important lesson that humanity needs — whatever names we call, whatever language we speak, whatever our religious rituals… whether as individuals we most easily connect to The Sacred through music, art, prayer, study, acts of kindness, the beauty of nature, or relationship with others… we are all reaching for, and hopefully connecting with, the singular Unity that is the One mighty and awesome Gd of creation!

This weekend, through all of our experiences, in every moment, may we allow ourselves to connect to the One who hides behind the many.
Shabbat shalom, jen 

Or Hatzadik 

ב׳׳ה


 
Or Hatzadik means “The Light of the Righteous” and . . . it feels like an appropriate day to share a song that I’ve appreciated for a number of years — Or Hatzadik by Yosef Karduner.   

Praying righteous people of every race, nation, and religion shine Light that will help us all find our way to lasting peace and prosperity that can be shared by all people, jen 
 

Love that binds

ב׳׳ה


 
There is a Love that binds
me to You.
And in the Joy of this rapture,
in my submission complete,
I want only to be more tightly bound.
I want to sway in Your arms,
to bend to Your Will,
to rest secure in this unending Love.
I’ve no wish to flee
or chase material desires.
I can’t pretend that “rational = True.”
So I’ll study these texts
and complete tasks as assigned,
inside this Love that binds me to You.  
 
 
  ****************************

This Shabbat, may we all have moments when we are acutely aware of our connection to Gd, and may that awareness help us rest secure in Gd’s unending Love, so that we might offer compassion and peace to others.  
Shabbat shalom to all, jen

The Reminder

ב׳׳ה

There’s a man in my synagogue, a doctor, who’s of an age that makes it seem unlikely he’d have a tattoo.  But he has one.

It’s on his wrist, his left wrist, actually.   The location reminds me of tefillin, wrapped on the left arm to be closer to the heart.

The tattoo is of the Hebrew pictured above.  It’s pronounced “He-nei-ni” — which means “Here I am.”

“Heneini” was Abraham’s response when Gd called his name, Genesis 22:1, and then Gd tested Abraham by instructing him to sacrifice his son.

“Heneini” was Moses’s response when Gd called to him from the burning bush, Exodus 3:4, and then Gd sent Moses to free the Israelites from Egypt.

Thus, while Heneini might literally mean “Here I am,” it also seems to be the response of someone ready to do Gd’s Will, even at great personal expense.

One of these days, I hope to know the doctor well enough to talk to him about his tattoo.

For now, I’m just inspired by the fact that he carries this reminder with him in a location that is always visible to him.

His tattoo makes me wonder whether we all shouldn’t have such a reminder — not a tattoo necessarily, but something — to remind us to be listening for The Call and to be ready to do Gd’s Will…

A Beautiful Shabbat!

ב׳׳ה


This has been the best Shabbat!!   

My boys and I spent about six hours playing in our neighborhood swimming pool, and this morning I spent a few hours coordinating a synagogue program for families with young children — and those happen to be two of my very favorite activities!!  It’s been a Shabbat full of joy, love, and spirituality, and has reminded me how very good life can be.  I hope all of you had a great day too!!!

shavua tov, jen 

“Prayerless Prayer”

ב׳׳ה

The other day, when I read “Prayerless prayer,” a post by Didi, I was reminded of a saying attributed to Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vorki (1819-1868), who practiced silence and didn’t always answer questions. When he was asked how “true Jews” should behave or could be recognized, Rabbi Menachem Mendel replied: “upright kneeling, silent screaming, motionless dance.”

“Upright kneeling” reminds us that, wherever we are standing and whatever we are doing, we remain in the presence of Gd, and therefore our hearts should be kneeling humbly before our Creator.

“Silent screaming” reminds us that we need not scream aloud for Gd to hear our cries in the face of injustice or agony, because Gd hears our crying, and can bring us comfort, even when we make no sound. All we need do is think the thoughts, and Gd has heard them!

Finally, “motionless dance” is the idea that life is meant to be celebrated, and we should be grateful, happy, and enjoying the goodness that continues to exist, even when life’s details aren’t perfect. So although our bodies may be still, our hearts constantly should be dancing in celebration of our presence in the miracle that is Creation.

Like Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vorki, Didi juxtaposes an act and its opposite to remind us where the spiritual path can lead us — to a place where our every action is a offering to The One, before whom our hearts are kneeled, as we silently celebrate the mystery and grandeur of our Gd.

Please take a look at Didi’s post.

This Shabbat, may Didi and Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vorki inspire us to new depths of service to The One.

Shabbat shalom to all, jen