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 
 

And, after we dance with tambourines???

ב׳׳ה

 

 
Jewish Tradition commands us each year to celebrate Passover as people who were actually freed from Egypt. It prompts us to look at the world around us and ask such questions as: 

What is my Mitzrayim?
 
To what am I enslaved?
 
What things, people, activities, habits, thoughts, emotions or biases prevent me from accessing my holiest self and offering Gd’s compassion and mercy to myself and to others?

 

And I’ve been thinking . . . if we are to see ourselves as people who actually fled Egypt and crossed the Sea to dance with Miriam and the other women as they played tambourines . . . ought we not take the rest of that Journey from slavery to freedom with the Israelites?  

Why not “walk” the 49 days to stand at that holy mountain, to feel the earth rumble, to see the lightening flash, to hear the Aleph spoken from within the silence, and to experience the awe and wonder of Torah’s revelation??

Of course, we can’t actually put ourselves in the desert thousands of years ago to spend 49 days wandering with the ancient Israelites and learning to have faith in the Holy One.  So, how can we get to that mountain?

Jewish Tradition teaches that we have to prepare ourselves spiritually. We need to spend some time after Passover trying to move ourselves away from the things that enslave us and toward the Holy One of Unity.

Maybe that spiritual preparation happens with a therapist. Maybe it happens in daily meditation or the chanting of prayers. Maybe yoga or exercise is our time to find clarity and reconnect. Maybe we count the Omer each night and engage in a 49-step journey of personal refinement through the emotional attributes of the Sefirot. Maybe we study Moses Cordovero’s ethical treatise on living as a likeness of our Creator, Tomer Devorah (available free from a link here).

The specifics of the process can be particular to each individual, but some process needs to happen if we want to encounter Gd’s presence at Sinai on Shavuot. … Just as Gd didn’t part the Sea until Nachshon, who couldn’t swim and was afraid of the water, was nearly submerged, we can’t expect Gd to give us the gift of revelation if we don’t prepare ourselves by making the journey…

praying our paths reveal blessings and our journeys lead us Home, jen
 
 
 

Hanukkah, The Force, & 2017

ב׳׳ה

“I am one with the Force. The Force is with me. I am one with the Force. The Force is with me. I am one with the Force. The Force is with me.”

meditative chant of Chirrut Imwe, Guardian of the Jedi Temple in Jedha City, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

This week, my 12-year-old son told me he had realized the story of the Maccabees is like the story of the rebels in Star Wars, and that realization led him to start thinking that the true miracle of Hanukkah was that a small group of rebels could defeat a mighty Empire.

I told my son he was correct that the Maccabees’ victory was the real miracle of Hanukkah, and I explained that this connection he had begun to understand between the Maccabees and the Star Wars rebels was why I had always encouraged his love of Star Wars… to help me raise him to be a Jew!!

Faith in The Power greater than ourselves that flows through the universe –regardless whether we call it The Force, or Gd, or The Unity, or any of the thousand other inadequate names– can give us the strength and courage to struggle to create a better future… to fight for what is most just, not only for ourselves but for everyone.  And THIS is why I wanted to raise my son as a Jew and as a fan of the Rebels in Star Wars… so that in his life, when he sees people acting as bullies or sees a situation that is unjust, he will have the faith, strength, and courage of conviction to stand up for himself and others.

We enter this year of 2017 on the same evening that we light eight candles for Hanukkah — may we carry the Light and Holiness of our fully lit menorahs with us into the new year. And, whatever the future brings, may we find strength, peace, and courage in knowing we are One with a Force much greater than ourselves!

with blessings, jen

Live with Joy NOW

ב׳׳ה

We’ve been celebrating Sukkot, the Jewish fall harvest festival.  It is a time when we build a sukkah, or temporary shelter, in which we dwell for seven days.  The sukkah reminds us both of the ancient Israelites who wandered the desert and of the Jewish farmers in Canaan who dwelled in temporary shelters near their fields during the fall harvest.  

But, as Rabbi Alan Lew explains, the sukkah has another purpose — to remind us of “the illusory nature of all houses” and the fact that “Nothing can save us from death.”   This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation at 270 (Little, Brown 2003).   

And what is it we Jews are to do as we dwell in this reminder of our mortality?   Invite our family, friends, and neighbors to join us, and celebrate with a joy greater than at any other holiday.   

Because there’s nothing like death to remind us to live today — NOW, at this very moment — with JOY — and SHARE that joy with others!!

shavua tov, a good week, to all, jen

My New Year Plan

ב׳׳ה

The Plan 
To love with a love too great to fathom, to laugh with a joy heretofore unimagined, to dance through the fire and rise from the ashes, greater than any phoenix mythology fashioned… this is my journey, my quest, my crusade, to embody the grandeur of the plan my Gd made.  

May this New Year be — for all of us — good, sweet, and filed with peace, love, and blessings!
jen

Shabbat shalom!!

ב׳׳ה

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I took that picture Wednesday evening at the local park where my son meets another synagogue member to practice shofar for Rosh Hashanah services.   It’s hard to believe Rosh Hashanah is only 16 days away!  Between getting back into the swing of school (secular and religious) and planning/preparing for the Holy Days, the last month has flown by. 

At some point in the next 16 days I need to spend more time assessing who I am, where I’m meeting my potential, and where I’m falling short — the annual Cheshbon HaNefesh, or accounting of the soul — so that I will be ready to re-set my priorities for the coming year.   It’s not an easy task (and sometimes it’s not a fun task!!), but the only way we can improve is by being honest with ourselves about who and where we are today.  

But that’s not a task for tonight! 

Tonight I’m going to hit “pause” to stop everything that makes life hectic.   I’m going to play Legos with my kids, race our remote control cars, and maybe take a walk.  I’m going to order pizza for dinner and curl up with them to watch a movie or play a game.  I’m going to stop “doing”… stop “trying”… stop “becoming”…  and instead I’m just going to BE in each precious moment with them, and I’m going to truly enjoy them for who each of them is today. 

If you’ve never tried hitting “pause” to share some time with those you love, I encourage you to try it.   You just might find, as I have, the wisdom in Ahad Ha’am’s saying: “More than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.”   

Shabbat shalom, jen

The Path to Freedom

ב׳׳ה

  

My younger son is amused by emojis and he likes to get a note in his lunchbox, so after I pack his lunch, I quickly doodle a note that includes emojis. When I finished today’s doodle, I realized it illustrated some of the Passover lessons that I’ve been thinking about lately, so I thought I’d share it with all of you and tell you what I’ve been thinking about…

The Path to Freedom isn’t always the “easy” path. In fact, sometimes it’s a terrifying journey fraught with danger and difficult steps!!

However, if we want to live as people free of the ideologies, assumptions, habits, and thought patterns that enslave us . . .
then, despite our fear, we must keep walking forward — looking neither down at the muck around our feet nor over at the walls on each side that may collapse in on us, but rather out ahead in the distance, at the Freedom that awaits those willing to place unwavering faith in the One whose power can create us anew each day . . .

This year, may we all become free from more of the things that enslave us!

Happy Passover,
and Shabbat Shalom,
jen