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

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 

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

Street signs and Life

ב׳׳ה


Did you ever arrive at one of those places in life where you were certain your path was to the right, but other “signs” in your life kept telling you that turning right wasn’t currently an option?   

I’ve been in that place before, figuratively (and literally when I took the picture above on Tuesday evening).   Being in that place is frustrating because it leaves us uncertain which way to go!!

Tuesday night when the light turned green, I drove forward.  And, it seems to me, that’s also the only choice we have when we are in that place figuratively — we have to keep moving forward:  learning, growing, being compassionate, fostering peace where there is discord, and building order from life’s chaos.  

But not tonight, for tonight is Shabbat.   And although the world might want us to live as if “the light” is always green and we should always be going . . . we were commanded to stop, to breathe, to BE . . . to appreciate what we have already accomplished, the blessings we have been given, and the people we have in our daily lives who provide us love and support.  

Praying Shabbat brings us all more shalom, jen 

Olam Ha’ba today

ב׳׳ה

 

 
 
Awareness of Your Love
–like the first morning light–
transforms the world around me.
From dark and isolation,
great fear and sinking unknown,
to a fullness where hope can abound.
It helps me stand up.
It lightens my load.
Makes dreams seem not so far away.
It gives me the courage
to pass on to others
the Love of Olam Ha’ba today.
 
 

Praying Shabbat brings shalom, and greater awareness of Gd’s Abiding Love, to us all, jen

G-d whispers

ב׳׳ה

 

 

When G-d calls, He does not do so by way of universal imperatives. Instead, He whispers our name — and the greatest reply, the reply of Abraham, is simply hineni: ‘Here I am,’ ready to heed Your call, to mend a fragment of Your all-too-broken world.
——–Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

 
This Shabbat, may we each stop long enough to listen for Gd’s whisper and, then, may we find the courage respond when we are called.
shabbat shalom, jen
 

A quote to contemplate on Shabbat… 

ב׳׳ה

“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.” —THOMAS MERTON 

Shabbat shalom to all, jen