Happy New Year!!!!

ב׳׳ה

 

I’ve started putting my seventeen years as a professional writer and editor to use as an editor of High Holiday sermons for a Rabbi that I know.  She pays me in my favorite “currency” . . . BOOKS!!!  🤗  She’s collecting a stack for me at her house, and these four arrived from Amazon in the last two days.   

I feel spoiled!!!!   Not only am I learning more about the topics of her sermons, I’m also getting to study the source texts with her and learn more about the sermon-drafting process.  I’m accustomed to writing for readers, so it’s interesting to see how writing for a listening audience is different.  

It’s been a great learning experience AND I’m getting some reference books that I’ve been wanting for a while . . . definitely a Happy New Year!!

I led a 45-minute Rosh Hashanah service for children and their families at my synagogue yesterday morning.  Approximately twenty adults and fifteen kids between ages one and nine attended.  I feel really blessed to have been able to lead the service!   I’ll paste my “sermon” below, for those who care to see what lesson I taught the kids in about 10 of the 45 minutes.  

 Shabbat shalom to all!!!  May you be sealed in the Book of Life for a healthy and happy year,  jen

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

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

Rosh Hashanah 5778 (2017)

Come on up, kids! Let’s have a story and discission!!

 I’m so happy and excited that our calendar has brought us back to the first day of another new Year! And I thought it might be fun to talk a few minutes about some truly awesome things that we should look for in the New Year… does that sound like a good idea?

All right, well, let’s start at the beginning… the VERY beginning… five-thousand seven-hundred seventy-eight Jewish years ago. Can anyone tell me what happened on the VERY FIRST Rosh Hashanah?
On the day we consider the first day EVER?

Yes! Gd began creating the world!! Gd separated the Light from the dark and the water from the sky. Gd removed the water from dry land, put plants and creeping things on the land, put the sun and moon and stars in space, put fish in the water and birds in the sky, and finally created all the animals that live on dry land, including humans. On Rosh Hashanah 5778 Jewish years ago, Gd started the process that led to the creation of me and you and you and you and everyone who is here today. Isn’t that amazing?!?!?

And this ongoing process of creation contains some really awesome Wonders that I thought we could read about today.

[READ WONDERS OF NATURE]


What other things have you seen in Nature that made you say “Wow! Look at that???”

Those are great examples!!!

If we are looking, we can find things in Nature every day that make us say “Wow!”, and each time we see one of these Wonders… our Jewish tradition tells us we should say a blessing.

Who remembers the special phrase that is at the beginning of all our blessings? We’ve already said it a few times here today, and we say it before we have juice or challah…

Right!! Our Blessings begin with “Baruch Atah Adonai” … and this book tells us the blessing for seeing Wonders in Creation is: “Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Mekech Haolam, oseh ma’aseh b’resheet” which means “Thank you, Gd, for making this process of creation!!”

So this year, when you see a pretty flower, I want you to say “Thank you, Gd, for making Creation.” And when you see a colorful sky, I want you to say “Thank you, Gd, for making Creation.” And when you see a rainbow or the Ocean, what will you say?

Good! What if you see a really ugly creepy bug that kinda scares you?

And when you see yourself in the mirror???

What about when you see someone in your family?

Do you think you can do that this year?

Great! Because the more blessings you say, the more blessings you’ll begin to see… and you’ll have a happier year…

Now, to help you remember to say thank yous every day, I have a little surprise for you. Who can tell me what this is?

Yes, its a Yarmukle or Kippah. And each of you can take one from the bowl. I want you to keep that kippah in a place where you’ll see it every day — like your bedside table, or your chair at the dinner table, or in your backpack — so it can remind you to say Thank You for all the awesome Wonders you find in Creation.  Okay? 

Now. One last note about your kippot… please bring them back on Yom Kippur, because we are going to learn together why they are so white in the middle! Can you do that for me? Great!  Thank you!   You can go back to your parents now.  

wandering, not lost!

ב׳׳ה


“My father was a wandering Aramean”

but he was not lost

He had heard the call 

Lech Lecha!” 

and was traveling to a place he would be shown, 

from which he could hear another call

Ayeka?” 

and would have a new response

Heneini!

May we all be as blessed as our father!!

.

This Shabbat, may we each wander toward our Self, so that we might be ready to answer “Heneini!”
shabbat shalom, jen

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

“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

Dust and Ashes

ב׳׳ה

Dust and Ashes
************************
I’m just dust and ashes, but this world WAS made for me! When my fear is out of the way, I’m able to see the pattern in the process, the rhythm of the rhyme, Hashem bringing what I need when it’s truly time for me to grow or to “shed another skin,” so I’ll keep “digging this well,” until this body’s just dust again!!
 

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

Rabbi Simcha taught we should keep a strip of paper in each pocket of our pants — one to remind us (when we feel arrogant) that we are just dust and ashes, and the other to remind us (when we feel down) that the world was created just for us.  

This Shabbat, let’s imagine holding both of those strips of paper at once. Let’s each remain certain that we are only dust and ashes, while also having no doubt that we have a unique, infinitely important role to play in the miracle that is Creation’s unfolding… for there, balancing both, is where we can find holiness.  

shabbat shalom to all, jen

HaMakom (“the place”)

ב׳׳ה



HaMakom
(“The Place”)

How can I express
what it is to experience
floating in “The Place” with no words,
where all discord harmonizes
into one perfect Unity and
The Mystery calls me its own Name?

To be in HaMakom
where there is only breathing
(and the One breathing is not mortal-me)
is to be transported
beyond time and space,
to where souls once were and will be.

There’s no need for signposts.
Past and future irrelevant,
transfixed in the Eternity of Now.
No directions to wander
when diffused through Infinity.
Nor feet that could touch solid ground.

There I’m forever,
no beginning or ending,
Eternal-Infinite breathing The Name.
I return awestruck and giddy,
with joy and peace overflowing,
mortal-me again forever changed.
 
 

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

 

HaMakom
is Hebrew and literally means “the place.”  However, it is also a name for Gd.  And, as there is no place without Gd, any place can be The Place, if we are willing to open our hearts so that our eyes might see and our ears might hear. 

shavua tov, 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!!!