Giving Tzedakah

ב׳׳ה

 

 
 As Jews, we are taught to give Tzedakah, commonly translated “charity,” meaning money, before each Shabbat and holiday, as a way of expressing our gratitude for all that we have.   

This week, I was reading a book of Chassidic stories as told by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, tzt”l, Lamed Vav: a collection of the favorite stories, adapted and illustrated by Tzlotana Barbara Mildo (2005/5765).  In it, I ran across a story that inspired me, so I want to share it with all of you, with hope that it will touch your hearts too:

 
Let’s say we’re walking down the street, and a [person] comes up to us.  He’s dirty and ragged, maybe he even smells.  He says, “Oy, Oy — I’m so hungry. I’m … at the end. Could you give me a couple of dollars?”  Or maybe he doesn’t say anything, he just holds out his hand.

So what do we do? We take out our wallet, and — trying not to look at him — we give him some money.  Then, without a word, we walk away.  And we feel so good because we think we’ve just fulfilled the holy mitzvah of giving charity to the poor.

That’s all cute and sweet. But it’s not enough.  Because maybe, with the charity we have given him, the [man] can feed his body.  But have we given him anything to feed his soul?

There’s a teaching from the Holy R. Yitzhak Vorker: G-d didn’t take us to Mount Sinai and give us the Torah just to tell us to give a beggar some dollars or shekels.  Yes, it’s important to give him money.  But we have to do more than that.  We have to give him back his pride, his self-confidence.  We have to revive his soul.  

 
This Shabbat, and every day, may we remember to open not just our wallets, but also our hearts.
  Shabbat shalom, jen

Dance, Vol. 2

ב׳׳ה

water heater closet & fan under carpet


Yesterday morning I wrote: 

…whatever life throws at you, for the love of Gd, DANCE!!!

So, G-d, the Universe, karma, the Unity, (whatever name you prefer), decided to “test” my resolve to keep dancing!! 

Last night at 9:30, I arrived home to a massive water heater leak and a few hundred square feet of carpet that was so sopping wet that water splashed when I walked across the carpet.   Maintenance arrived at 11:00 pm to deal with the water heater.  A carpet cleaner arrived at 11:30 pm to start removing the water from the carpet.  And now there’s a very large fan blowing air under the carpet and padding, and someone is to install a powerful dehumidifier this morning.  

As you might imagine, I didn’t get much sleep, and I’m pretty tired.  I need to have a productive day at work, go to the grocery, be a mom, and then figure out how many more days it’ll be until the bookshelves (and all the books, toys, and games that lived on them) can return to that wall between the closet and stairs.   

Between being tired and knowing part of my house is in disarray, I’m not feeling especially relaxed.   I’m tense.  And I could focus on that feeling and worry about the carpet and the disorder.  I could let that feeling spiral into a grumpy mood that would result in less than ideal interactions with others, and increased frustration.  

OR 

I can accept that I cannot fix the house or carpet today, because carpet dries when it dries, and I can let go of the worry about if, when, and how I’m going to get my house back in order.  And instead I can focus on NOW —  the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and my life is filled with blessings!!!!

I’m tired, but the choice where to focus remains mine .  . . 

Let’s see if I can pass today’s test!!!

Dance

ב׳׳ה


Dance
May we, might we, shall we dance? For I think Hashem’s playing our tune, the one that can carry us o’er clouds to the garden above, where all the world’s awash in Hashem’s Love, where we can dance and frolic, laugh and play, where even two seconds feel like a full day, for there is Eternity in the palm of our hand. So turn on some techno, find a Na Nach van; let go of the clutter and set your mind free; experience Joy today for tomorrow might not be. It might sound crazy, but give it a chance — whatever life throws at you, for the love of Gd, DANCE!!!

And the message is??? 

ב׳׳ה


 

I took that picture last weekend in Florida, and I’ve been drawn back to it nearly every day this week, almost as if I’m waiting for it to tell me… something…

But every day that I look, the picture seems to bring me a slightly different message about Life — about the cycle of life and death, about the interconnection of all existence, about finite matter “standing” at the edge of infinity and eternity, about the holiness and beauty inherent in moments of transition… 

So I decided that, this Shabbat, instead of telling you what I see, I’d post the picture and invite all of you to tell me what you see in it.   I’d love to hear what messages you see — please leave a comment and let me know!!   🙂  Thanks!

Praying Shabbat brings more shalom to all, jen 

A little beauty before Shabbat 

ב׳׳ה

.flower in my favorite color…

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.a crab shell I found in the surf…

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.the tiniest frogs I’ve ever seen…

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.amazingly beautiful flower…

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This Shabbat, may we take a few moments of our rest to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us, and may the beauty remind us to be grateful to The One who created it all.  Shabbat shalom, jen 

My travel song

ב׳׳ה

I’m flying today to play with my kids on the beach for a few days and, while I’m sitting here at the airport, I thought I’d share my travel song with you.  

Judaism has a “Traveler’s Prayer” that asks Gd to guard us from “enemy and ambush, from robbers and wild beasts” so that we might reach our destination in peace. It’s full text can be found here.  

But my personal travel prayer is B’sheim Hashem, which means “In Hashem’s Name,” as sung by Neshama Carlebach. In English, the lyrics are these:

In the name of Hashem,
the Gd of Israel,
may Michael be at my right hand; Gabriel at my left;
before me, Uriel;
behind me, Rapheal;
and above my head the divine presence of Gd.

Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael are angels, and the divine presence of Gd is typically referred to as the Shechina, which comes from a Hebrew word for “dwelling,” because it represents a form of Gd that dwells with us. 

Neshama sings the song in Hebrew, and Hebrew lyrics are these:

B’shaim Hashem,
Elohei Yisreal,
mimini Michael;
umismoli Gavriel;
umilfanai Uriel;
umeachorai Rafael;
v’al roshi Shechinat El.

Now that you know what the song is about, feel free to take a listen to Neshama singing it … Enjoy!  jen 

An evening prayer

ב׳׳ה


An evening prayer

The reddest of suns sets
in a clear blue sky,
drawing my soul toward You,
stopping me from worldly chores
to breathe deeply in this holy moment.
As day turns to night,
Adonai my Gd,
I reach toward You for Grace,
knowing You’re here to comfort me,
wherever life’s journey may lead.
Blessed are You,
Eternal Hashem,
Creator of the evenings
that bring us new days.

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shavua tov, may it be a good week for all, jen