Jew in the suburbs


The Bracha: A story of a blessing
February 24, 2009, 4:14 am
Filed under: Hashem, Jewish, Judaism, Shul, women | Tags: , , ,

 

 

 

Dear Blog readers,

 

Several weeks ago I had a wonderful opportunity to be blessed by a Rebbe and I took it.

I was so excited and to tell you the truth, nervous.  I’m sure if not all people who have been blessed by a Rebbe can say, it was a big deal most can.  Out here in the suburbs, I feel it is an even bigger deal because the opportunities to be blessed by a Rebbe are few in comparison to big cities such as New York.  Rebbes don’t always come to the suburbs for three day visits.  I felt an urgency to get a Bracha, a blessing.  Perhaps more of an urgency than I would have felt if I now lived in New York.  I thought to myself, I had better get a Bracha from this Rebbe ASAP because who knows when I will get the next opportunity and how often will a Rebbe come to the suburbs?

 

I was filled with excitement about getting a Bracha and I should mention that it was the first time in my life that I had an opportunity to get a blessing from a Rebbe.  Someone told me that I should ask for a Bracha for another person before asking for myself.  This was common sense to me and to do anything else would be against the person that I am.  I always think of others first, I always try to think of others before myself. And don’t feel right requesting something just for myself when I can request the same for others in need. I did some preparation before receiving my Bracha.  A few days before, I collected the full Hebrew names of people I knew, double checking some of them to make sure my information was correct;  I then made a list of all of these names and next to each name  I wrote the things I wanted these people to be blessed with. When I got to the shul the next afternoon, I was surprised to see that there were not that many people waiting, but I was happy. I knew this Rebbe was going to be in my community for three days and for many hours during these three days would bless the people who came to him.  I had chosen to come the first hour he was there on the first day.  This Rebbe decided he was more comfortable giving blessings to people in the sanctuary after a few minutes inspecting another room.  When we were asked to come in, this Rebbe was sitting at a long table I watched as  other people got their blessings and then I was summoned to get my Bracha but I didn’t realize it.  I thought there were people ahead of me and I said people who were not ahead of me could go before me but this would not do.  I walked over to this Rebbe, in my opinion quite timidly and thank G-d, he gave me a blessing which encompassed within it everything.  I was disappointed that I was not able to ask this Rebbe for blessings for others.  I thought I would have the time and I didn’t so although I got a Bracha I felt disappointed that I did not have the time to ask for others.  This Rebbe needed to give a Bracha and move on to the next person.  I know that after receiving my Bracha, I walked out of the shul, my feet steps light and thought to myself its working already which was a very comforting feeling

 

Hours later I felt even more gratitude toward Hashem and this Rebbe than I felt when I first got the Bracha because I thought about it more and was able to process it.  I had prepared so much in order to get this Bracha, and the moment I had to get it was so fleeting even though I knew that I felt lighter on my feet walking out of the sanctuary and the shul after getting my blessing, I also felt bad because I tried to let other people get in front of me in order to get their Bracha first and I came with a list of people who I wanted blessed and was not able to talk about to him about these people so I had a sense of guilt that I could or should have done more.  When I told my friends this, they were not surprised.  They know I want the best for others and that I think of others before I think of myself and that is why I wanted other people to get their blessings first.  It was a beautiful experience, one that I’m glad I have been able to reflect on.  Yes, I wanted others to get their blessings first, but after reflection I realized that maybe it was part of the plan that I was summoned up to get my Bracha at the exact moment it was meant to be and when I left they were able to get their blessings I am thankful to Hashem and I am thankful that the Bracha I received was and is so very helpful.  Everyday in little ways since that day several weeks ago, I see myself in small ways getting stronger in areas of life.  May all of you have blessing upon blessing and get whatever it is you need at the right time.

 

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Online Tehillim group
January 19, 2009, 1:38 am
Filed under: Jewish, Judaism, Tehillim, women | Tags: , ,

 

 

I got an e-mail days ago asking for peple to join an online Tehillim group. The goal of this group is to have Tehillim said around the clock. You can pick Tehillim you want to say everyday and fill out on the timesheet when you will recite it.

 

If you want to join click on the link below.

 www.tehillim.ning.com

 

Please, let me know if this information was halpful or if you decided to join.



Torah, Torah, Torah
January 18, 2009, 7:06 pm
Filed under: author, Frum, Hashem, Jewish, Jewish, Judaism, Orthodox, Torah | Tags: , , , ,

 

 

 

I wrote the paper below in college. The question I had to answer was as follows:

Describe precisely how Jewish tradition relies heavily on the Oral Torah to interpret the Written Torah.  Your answer should treat the major documents of the Oral Torah, covering both their age, scope, and function (e.g. Midrash, Mishnah, Talmud, etc.).

 

 

 

 Perhaps it is easiest to grasp the interrelationship between the Written Torah and Oral Torah if one views it from a religious perspective.  According to this belief system, the Written Torah and the Oral Torah were given by G-d to Moses on Mount Sinai at the same time.  Therefore, traditional Judaism says that the Oral Torah is holy as well. One can conclude that at the time, the Written Torah was given by G-d; it was all that was needed for life in the desert. However, the Oral Torah was intended to be passed down orally to leaders of future generations and applied as needed.

 

The Written Torah, although a sacred document can seldom be applied directly, without clarification, to the everyday lives of the Jewish people, simply because, the Written Torah is missing much detail and provides very little regarding ways to implement G-d’s intentions into actions, and laws.  In addition, as time passes, new challenges and issues arise, which need to be addressed.  Therefore Judaism created, with the Oral Torah, an interpretive tradition which is always evolving as these new issues present themselves. Working within this framework, in a limited sense, when one refers to the Written Torah, they are speaking of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.   Again, these five books contain ambiguities and missing information therefore, the Oral Torah is crucial to the preservation of Judaism. This crucial need for the oral tradition was illustrated by the Sadducees, a small sect of Jews whose position was that the oral laws had no authority and only the Written Torah should be followed.  The Sadducees endeavors failed due to the omissions, and they were forced to come up with their own oral tradition in order to practice the religion. 

 

Torah means teaching, therefore when one speaks the word Torah they are not necessarily referring to the five books; they can be referring to the oral tradition.  Some of the documents included in this Oral Torah are the, Mishnah, the Midrash of which there are two types, and the Kabbalah. 

 

Since Judaism has an oral tradition, one might wonder why the Oral Torah was eventually written down. Though one could make the argument that the Oral Torah should have remained oral; the writing of it is logical and necessary for several reasons. In the process of being transmitted from person to person and over time, much of the information is changed and lost.  In order to keep the tradition alive, leaders had little choice but to write it down so that people would not forget what to do as Jews during the course of their daily lives. It proved to be very necessary as the Jews moved around to different communities for various reasons especially exile, and were surrounded by other cultures and living under foreign rule.  Early on, as issues arose, over time, the leaders, using their wisdom addressed situations and wrote down what they had said but these writings were not organized into any specific or formal collection until later.

 

The Talmud embodies the study of Torah in the broadest sense and all it entails.  Very generally it is the Mishnah and Gemara. One part of Talmud, the Mishnah, is a compilation of much of those writings mentioned above; it came into being in around 200C.E. it is a collection of Jewish laws.  It also contains legal issues in which no decisions were reached as well as other miscellaneous material. Rabbi Judah Ha-Nasi is credited with compiling it into a collection organized by subject mater.

 

He arranged the material into six orders the first one is Zera’im or seeds which not surprisingly deals with laws of agriculture, Jewish blessings and prayer. According to Seeds, it is very important to avoid cross pollination between plants, therefore it discusses the space between seeds. In Judaism one must leave the corners of the fields untouched to benefit the poor.  Seeds discuses how large those corners must be. There are blessings for everything including crops which are very important to the survival of people. Included in this Tractate is discussion on how and when to recite prayer.  An example of a prayer discussed is the Shma.  One of the reasons Jews rely so much on the Oral Torah, is due to the fact that prayer was developed and has taken the place of sacrifice at the Temple.    The second order of the Mishnah is entitled   Mo’ed or appointed times.  This order contains laws having to do with the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays. In the written Torah, it says to keep the Sabbath holy, however, it does not go into further detail, and therefore Mo’ed discusses details on how to keep the Sabbath holy.  The third order is entitled Nashim or women.  This order deals with relations with women as well as marriage and divorce laws.  The fourth order of the Mishnah is called Nezikin or damages and is concerned with matters of criminal and civil law and what to do when lost and found issues arise.  The fifth order discusses sacrifices and the Temple which was destroyed for the second time in 70 CE.  This order is entitled Kodashim or holy things.  The sixth order of the Mishnah discusses the ritual purification and is called Toharot or Purities. Rabbi Ha-Nassi further organized the six orders by dividing each into Tractates numbering 63.  The Tractates do not have a set length. 

 

The Gemara is a collection of explanations, interpretations, theological arguments and discussions all of which is about the Mishnah.  Again, as times change, and developments are made, Judaism is faced with new challenges which need to be dealt with.  The Mishnah makes statements of law but the Gemara debates both the interpretation of existing laws and new laws which had to be created to deal with issues which were not addressed in the Mishnah.  When debates are made in the Talmud the Gemara explains the final ruling of the debate and also explains if no decision was agreed upon.  The Gemara tells the person reading it, not only what the final ruling was, if there was one, but also, who won the debate or argument.  The Gemara includes not only legal debates, but lessons, the personal stories of the rabbis, Jewish law and Jewish legends or folk lore.  There are two Gemaras in existence, one was developed by the descendants of the Jewish people who stayed in Israel after the destruction of the Temple, and the other Gemara was developed by the descendants of the Jews who lived outside of Israel.  The writings of the Gemara from the land of Israel began approximately in the years 350 – 400 C.E. and it was compiled by the year 500 C.E.  The writings of the Gemara which took shape in Babylonia were occurring until approximately 500 C.E. However, this particular Gemara was not in its final compilation until approximately 600 C.E.  Just as there are two Gemaras there are two Talmuds, the Babylonian and the Jerusalem Talmud.  The Jerusalem Talmud is shorter in length and was developed earlier than the Babylonian Talmud in approximately 300C.E.  In this document more emphasis is placed on agriculture whereas the Babylonian Talmud pays more attention to civil and criminal law.  The Babylonian Talmud was developed in approximately 500C.E. 

The purpose of Midrash or Midrashim (plural) is to try to make the biblical text more accessible or understandable.  A few of the most famous Halakhic Midrashim are as follows: Sifra on Leviticus, Sifrei on Numbers, Mechilta and Sefrei Devarim on Deuteronomy.  In general, the Halakhic Midrash dates from about 200 through 400 C.E. The Mekhilta, the Sifra, and the Sifre are believed to have come out of the Tannaitic period up to the time of 200 C.E. Halakhic Midrash are stories and interpretations designed to explain Jewish law.  On Succot, Jews are required to wave a palm, otherwise known as a lulav and a citron.  This is a requirement because the Halakhic Midrash says that it is.  It does not say that on the holiday of Succot you can substitute a citron for another fruit.  Therefore, waving of the citron becomes the Jewish tradition and required custom.    An  Aggadic Midrashim on the other hand, endeavors to fill in the blanks left in biblical stories.  For instance, in Genesis, after having relations with Tamar, how could Judah not have realized that he had not slept with a prostitute but in fact, had slept with his daughter-in-law? Furthermore, how could Jacob have married Leah when he spent seven years working to marry Rachel and what exactly was said in the story of Cain and Able before Cain killed his brother?  The Midrash attempts to give these stories possible explanations. 

 

The Talmud is not in the language of Hebrew as on might expect, instead it is in the language of Aramaic and is set up like a stream of consciousness.  In the Talmud rabbis discuss topics which lead them to discuss different topics before they have finished the original discussion or argument and eventually they manage to return to the original argument at hand.    The first known printed copy of the Talmud was discovered in Spain in the year 1482.

 

The Jewish people rely heavily on the Oral Torah to come to a better understanding of the Written Torah and its sometime implied and missing information.    As time goes on, things evolve and Judaism must evolve.  The Oral Torah is designed to ensure that Jews will have laws and teachings to follow as there surroundings change and time moves on.   For a last example the Written Torah says to keep the Sabbath holy. The Mishnah comes up with ways in which to do that and states that on the Sabbath it is prohibited to light a fire.  However, during the time that this law was made, cars were not invented.  The Mishnah does not say there will be no driving, what it says is that one cannot light a fire.  Since, the act of turning on the ignition of a car would cause a spark which constitutes fire; Jewish law has evolved to include the prohibition against driving on the Sabbath.  It is for this reason that Jewish law is not stagnant.  The fact that the law evolves as technology in the world evolves, allows Jews to survive.

 

 

 

 

 



I Am Woman
January 15, 2009, 4:32 am
Filed under: disabillity, Frum, Hashem, I am a Woman, Jewish, Jewish, Judaism, Orthodox, women | Tags: , , , ,

 

 

About six months ago I decided to change hairdressers, I got my hair cut by a different hairdresser and loved it when I got used to it. However, I didn’t like the way I was treated as a person, and tried to tell myself that the woman who cut my hair didn’t mean it. Let me explain what happened. I went in with another person and she spoke to that person about me instead of directly to me. My believe is, she saw I didn’t walk perfectly and thought I lacked intelligence. I was nice to her but didn’t like the way she made me feel. I find that I have to get my hair cut a lot because it grows so unbelievably fast. The next time I went back was about a month later. Being an Orthodox Jewish woman, I always wear long skirts or dresses. When I walked in to the hairdresser’s place of business I noticed the way she looked at me. I began to talk to her and as the conversion progressed the look didn’t fade. It was a look of bewilderment.  I had a gut feeling and I went with it. I started to talk with the person I came with, the same person I came with the first time I went to this hairdresser. It was small talk. I revealed nothing too personal about myself and nothing personal about others. I used the words in the community and in my community. Finally, my fairly new hairdresser said “What do you mean when you say your community?” I told her “I’m an Orthodox Jewish woman, that’s why I always wear long skirts and long sleeves. She responded very innocently “Oh I thought you were a cripple.” My gut feeling had been confirmed. The person who came with me was in shock, her eyes went wide and she looked as though she was holding her tongue waiting for my reply after hearing the word cripple, a word which I hate, a word which as far as I am concerned should be struck from the English language or should be considered a curse word. My response came calmly. “No I’m not a cripple. I just dress modestly. It makes me feel more comfortable.” She told me she thought it was became my legs looked deformed and I did not want people to see them. I told her honestly my legs don’t look deformed.

 

I must explain that this woman, who was not close to my grandmother’s age meant me no harm. I could see that she thought there was nothing wrong with her attitude or the word she used. Some people have told me she would have made them angry and hurt by her thinking and her use of such a terrible and untrue word. Getting angry would have been easy, what she said was hurtful, but I decided not to be hurt, to take it from where it came. The statements came from a sweet woman who didn’t realize she was saying or doing anything hurtful. I made a choice to educate instead of getting angry or allowing anger to cloud me.

 

I am not a cripple and I don’t believe cripples exist, that being the case as I said before, I believe with my whole heart that the word should be erased. It is a word that carries with in pain and untruth. I am not a cripple, I don’t walk perfectly but I am not a cripple.

 

I am a caring, understanding, compassionate, strong woman. I am a woman who is educated. I am a woman who has great faith in G-d. I am a woman who Thank-G-d has people who love and care about me. I am a woman with talents and a woman with so much love to give. I am a woman and I refuse to be defined nor should anyone else allow themselves to be defined as a cripple. I am a woman.              



A Love Story:My Lesson Learned

 

 

A while back, In the Pink wrote that she was conducting some research on True Love. I was temped to e-mail her a story on the topic, but held on to it, thinking it would be good for me to write about. The story I am about to tell you is a true love story, and while it is not my love story it taught be something incredibly valuable.

 

Last Pesach I was going through a very difficult time in my life. I thought I would be spending Yom Tov out of town, but I ended up spending it in my community which turned out to be a blessing. I was invited to lunch with friends of mine after Shul on the last day of Yom Tov. When I walked into the house I heard laughter from obliviously happy people and almost immediately met a married couple visiting from a much larger Jewish community in another state.

 

I have a small disability which people can see, I don’t walk perfectly, but I do walk, Thank G-d. My parents have always told me that my soul mate could have a disability, but this is not necessarily the case. I was almost entirely convinced last year that this was not true, that I had to marry someone with a disability. It hit me like a bolt of lighting when I looked at this couple that I was wrong. They were both accomplished, the wife was a school teacher with no disability, and the husband was a lawyer who just happened to be deaf. My heart soared when during the meal the wife told everyone how they met.

 

 She said she had gone on a Shabbos walk with a friend and they decided to stop at a house to visit a family. That family had a certain young man for a Shabbos guest, she gave him a Shabbos greeting, there were other people there and she joined in the small talk of the group. When she left the house with her friend that certain gentleman was on her mind. She told herself if she was still thinking about him at that time the following week she would do something about it. A week later he hadn’t left her thoughts. She called the family he had been visiting to do some detective work. All she heard was how nice and how helpful he was. Some time went by and with more investigating she was able to get an email address.  She emailed him, telling him where she had met him and pouring out her heart, telling him her interests, likes, dislikes, and so on. Her thinking was she had nothing to loose, if he was not interested in her, she would most likely not see him again and if he was interested she could have found the one. The idea that she might not ever see him again was what pushed her to write the e-mail. She had never done anything like that in her life. She was so excited when she saw a reply sitting in her e-mail box. She clicked on it and read. “Which one are you?” There had been other girls in the group. She remembered she had told him her name in the house that Shabbos afternoon. In reply she typed her name and pressed send. He answered her, shortly after that a first date was set up and than a second, shortly after that they were engaged and married.

 

Looking at this couple I remembered that my small disability could be a non-issue to a non-disabled soul mate. I only wish I could tell this amazing couple what an affect their true love and devotion to each other had on me. It was part of G-d’s plan that they met and married and I truly believe now it was part of HIS plan that I met them at the time I did, so that I could relearn something I never should have forgotten. Having that faith and knowledge restored is such a blessing and if I left town for Yom Tov I would never have met them at that time. They went back to their community the very next day.

 

May all of us find and hold on to love!



I Sing to YOU
December 29, 2008, 4:33 am
Filed under: author, Hashem, Judaism, song, write | Tags: ,

 

 

My Dear blog readers,

 

I have  vocal training and I have written songs. Here is one I wrote a while ago. Sorry, you can’t hear it, but all songs with lyrics are poems.

 

HASHEM, HASHEM, HASHEM

I sing to you HASHEM

In the Morning light

In the Night.

 

Fill me with light

Hashem, fill me with light, Hashem.



Chanukah: Menorah, Lights, and Tehillim
December 21, 2008, 8:27 pm
Filed under: Chanukah, Jewish, Judaism, Tehillim | Tags: , , ,

 

 

Hello bog Readers,

Tonight is the first night of  Chanukah, our first chance this year to light the Menorah. Lighting the Menorah is a way to bring light into the world, Tehillim is another. It was recommended to me and others to say certain Tehillim while in front of the candles These Tehillim are

Perek Yud-Tes-19

Perek Lamed- 30

Perek Lamed-gimmel-33

Perek Samach-Zayin-67

Perek Tzaddik-90

Per3k Kuf-100

Perek Kuf Lamed Gimel-133

 

 

We need all the light and blessing we can get. Have a very Happy Chanukah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!