Jew in the suburbs


Shabbos Dinner Debate
November 17, 2008, 3:03 am
Filed under: Books, Hashem, Jewish, Judaism, Shabbat, Shabbos, Torah | Tags: , ,

 

 

 

Dear Blog Readers,

 

Is unity a negative or a positive thing? This question was the subject of debate at Friday night’s Shabbat dinner.  You see, a friend of mine’s son is reading a book in which the characters in the society are all groomed to be the same.  They do not have the luxury of choice.  They are told where to live, what career they must take, and exactly who they should marry (I gather that who they marry in the society of the book is not based on compatibility).  Decisions are given to one person to make and the memory of the whole community is held by this person, the community calls a receiver.  The receiver holds all the memories of the community and when the receiver can no longer do the job, another is trained.  If a person cannot handle the sameness of the community, that person is kicked out.  I believe that the point the author of this book is making is that unity is bad and individuality is good.

 

I don’t think the answer is that simple.  Judaism teaches us that the house of Yisrael   should be unified; it teaches us that the actions of one Jew affect the entire House of Yisrael   and yet we all have differences.  Differences in interests, differences in politics, differences in taste, and differences in the kind of person we choose for a mate. 

 

During the debate, at the dinner table, my friend told a story about an Orthodox woman with her five children in a store, the woman was looking at some items in an isle, her children were nearby, a man in seeing them shouted at her something like “all of you Jews”.  Yes, this man is an anti-Semite; he is an anti-Semite who sees us Jews all as one people.  The bottom line is that every one of us is an individual blessed with certain talents and different obstacles to contend with.  We are all individuals; our individuality is something to be proud of.  We are also all family and that unity should be acknowledged, respected and celebrated just as much as our individuality.  When I go into the workplace, or in another public arena, I am very much aware that I am a representative of the Jewish people.  I am a Bas Yisrael   and I need to try to behave correctly at all times.  My behavior, I realize has an affect on the way others in the world perceive other Jews.  I want to live Kiddush Hashem, for the sanctification of G-d’s name.  I don’t want any of my actions to reflect badly on the Jewish people as a whole. I would love to hear what you have to say. What do you think?  Is unity a bad thing, is individuality a bad thing or are both unity and individuality good in moderation

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High Holy Days: self-improvement and HASHEM’s Love

 

 

Hello Blog Readers,

 

I was so disappointed to miss Selichot services after Shabbos this week.  Simply put Selichot are special prayers for forgiveness as the month of Elul begins to close.  The time period of these services usually begins the Sunday very early morning hours before Rosh Hashanah.  These prayers are about committing to do better and be better in the upcoming year.  I know I have been talking about self improvement all month.  So, what sets the time period for selichot apart from the rest of the month of Elul?  I believe the answer lies in urgency.  Yes, it’s true we should use all of the days in the month of Elul to prepare for the High Holy Days but I believe that Selichot is a warning, a signal, a reminder that Rosh Hashanah.  is quickly approaching and Yom Kippur is not far behind it.  These prayers serve as yet another opportunity for forgiveness and personal growth. 

 

I was sitting in Shul, Synagogue Saturday morning, listening to the rabbi speak when I realized that  after midnight Selichot services would  begin.  My breath caught and I thought to myself, I have a problem. Depending on how you look at it these services are either very late into the night or very early in the morning.  This particular service was scheduled for 1 AM.  Of course, another service was scheduled later in the morning for those who would be sleeping through this service.  I knew I could not be at Shul at 1AM in the morning and that I had conflicts later in the morning making it impossible for me to make it to the second service.  I really didn’t want to miss this; after all, I have been writing about self improvement and digging deep in my own Teshuvah, repentance process.  What was I to do?  I asked a rabbi who understood there was no way for me to make it to either Selichot service.  He told me that I didn’t have to be there, I told him, I know that but I really want to be there.  I wanted to know what a person like me who knew she could not be at a service could do to make up for it.  The idea that I didn’t have to attend these services and I would still be all right should have made me feel a lot better, but it didn’t. I felt terrible I knew that this rabbi was right but I still chose to look up the subject in a very handy and user friendly book entitled Halichos Bas Yisrael   A Woman’s Guide to Jewish Observance Volume II published by Feldheim. 

 

All week I felt as if I did something terrible by not attending these services, then yesterday I was writing something on a different subject matter, I got frustrated because the word count wasn’t exactly as it should have been.  For a brief moment, I thought to myself, I failed, I can do nothing right but then, thank G-d, the knowledge that Hashem loves me and all human beings, and all the creatures He created, hit me once again, like a lightning bolt, at exactly the right time.  Preparation for the High Holy Days, self improvement, and personal growth are of extreme importance.  However, yesterday when I was writing and it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to, I lost sight of the fact that if I make a mistake, or a project I am working on doesn’t come out exactly they way I want it to, It doesn’t mean that I am a failure.  Yes, I missed the service last week and even though I was told that I was free from the obligation, I felt it was a mistake but I am trying, I am working on my Teshuvah process and Hashem knows it.  Hashem wants us to come close to Him, we should never forget the reason He wants us to come close to Him is because He loves us.

He knows that we can do better and wants us to have faith that we can. He is aware we are imperfect and loves us despite our imperfections.

May the New Year bring you all blessing upon blessing!