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 

please carry me

ב׳׳ה



please carry me

Won’t You please carry me
out past my fear
to where I’m secure in Your Love?
To a place where I know,
as surely as I’m breathing,
my existence alone makes me enough,
that I don’t need to struggle
or feign that I’m more
for those “mores” don’t really matter.
What matters are compassion
and renunciation of pride,
for then can You bless me with Grace.

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

shavua tov 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

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 

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 

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
 
 
 

Wisdom from the Desert

ב׳׳ה

 

 

The One we seek…
The longing of our souls…
The destination we fear is unreachable…

If we break the chains of bondage,
wander empty-handed into the desert,
and, trembling in love and awe,
submit to the Infinite-Eternal Unfolding,
we come to understand:

“Heaven” is less than a hair’s breadth away.