Jew in the suburbs


Pesach Journal
March 16, 2009, 5:21 pm
Filed under: author, Frum, Hashem, Jewish, Jewish, Judaism, Passover, Torah, women, write, Yom Tov | Tags: , , ,

 

 

 

    Passover Journal  by Jew in the Suburbs

 

 

 

@

Copyright March 2007

 

No part of this story can be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

 

Based on Exodus

 

 

Entry one

 

The words in this diary are my heart felt prayer. My name is Leora. I have brown hair and eyes. I am a wife and the mother of 3 small daughters. All three of them were born underneath an apple tree in the middle of a field.  Every day my family and I endure back breaking labor. We work in the unrelenting heat of the fields. We are forced to carry and construct many bricks and, we are forbidden to stop until told. We are Hebrews, seen as nothings in the eyes of the Egyptians. Every night we go to bed hungry. My husband and I do the best we can. We give our children most of our food and drink. We tell them to sleep and dream happy dreams. I ask myself if they know what a happy dream is. Every night before falling into a restless exhausted sleep (wherever I happen to find space) I tell my husband and children that I love them and that our family will soon be far away from this oppressive land. I whisper a prayer to the G-d of our fathers, the G-d I have head stories about. You must exist, G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob I can not stop believing that. Please lead us out of here. I will be so grateful.

 

Entry 2

 

My friend Miriam told me a story. Her mother Yocheved was a mid-wife, she was told by Pharaoh to kill every Hebrew baby boy she saw born. Of course, she did not follow orders. When Yocheved had her second son she was able to keep him secret for 3 months and then she put him in the hands of you, G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. She placed him in the Nile and Miriam watched as her little brother was rescued from the water by Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses, Miriam’s brother was raised in comfort just as any royal Egyptian would be. He ran from here years ago. Rumors flew that it was because he killed an Egyptian when he saw him mercilessly beat a Hebrew man. In truth this was a difficult story to believe. Why would he risk his life of comfort, why would he risk his life? I thought to myself. Moses is back and rumors are once again flying that he is speaking to Pharaoh! Please let this event help us! 

 

Entry 3

 

The tears in my eyes are too numerous to count as I watch my husband sleep. He was beaten today until he bled. Moses spoke to Pharaoh. He took his brother Aaron with him. I head that he requested that Pharaoh let us; his people go with him into the wilderness to celebrate a festival for our G-d. In response Pharaoh is now forcing us to search and gather our own straw for the bricks we make. My husband was unable to construct as many bricks today as he constructed yesterday and now because of it he is in physical agony. What purpose could this serve? Many are angry at Moses why has he made matters worse than we could ever imagine?

 

Entry 4

 

 Thank-you G-d of our fathers my husband’s wounds are healing. The work load has not decreased for us. Will it ever? Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh again and told him he should let us go so that we can worship YOU. I had so much hope that he would listen.  Am I wrong to hope? We are still here in this land? Aaron’s rod turned into a snake but then Pharaoh’s saucers were able to duplicate the action with spells. On the other hand I also head that Aaron’s rod was able to swallow the other rods. Maybe it is a sign that You have heard our many cries.

 

Just moments ago I was able to fetch water for my family, but the Nile and all Egyptian water sources have turned to blood!

 

Entry 5

 

When I woke up this morning every muscle in my body ached. I hear that frogs are   covering the land of the Egyptians. That is disgusting! I am grateful that in my home I am safe from them. They are not affecting my family or my people as a whole.   However, we are still slaves!

 

Entry 6

 

Rumor has it Pharaoh said he would let us go and the frogs have left after I hear Moses pleaded with You, but I awoke this morning still a slave and worked non-stop until this moment. The word of Pharaoh means nothing!

 

Entry 7

 

It’s a miracle! It must be a miracle from You G-d of our fathers. Today Moses and Aaron went back to the Pharaoh. Aaron placed his rod on the dust of the earth and it turned to lice! They are everywhere that the Egyptians are but these detestable lice are nowhere to be found among our people.  Furthermore, those men who do their little magic tricks for Pharaoh were not able to create lice! This has renewed my hope which has been so low lately. I must put my children to bed now. I think I will sing them to sleep tonight. I have not had the energy to sing in a long time. Thank-YOU G-d of our fathers I pray this oppression will be at its end by tomorrow.  

 

Entry 8

 

We are still slaves I was hoping this could be over. However, I refuse to give up hope. Once again G-d of our fathers you have set us apart from Egypt. Pharaoh has not listened. He will not let us go as of yet. I am not surprised, but all Egyptian livestock has been struck down and ours have not been touched, not a single one that belongs to our people!

 

 

Entry 9

 

Doesn’t Pharaoh know by now that refusing to let us go only causes him trouble? This morning Aaron and Moses gathered soot in their hands. I hear Pharaoh saw them do it. Moses threw the soot of the kiln toward the sky and now all the Egyptians and their animals have boils.

 

 

Entry 10

 

 When will my children, when will my whole family know what it is like to be free? When will Pharaoh decide he has had enough? Today the Egyptians endured Great Thunder and, hail and with the hail fire. Who ever heard of hail in Egypt and for that matter who ever heard of fire and hail together? I wish I had more answers than questions. I have prayed for many years and nothing happened. I have been laughed at for it at times by my own people. Now events seem to be happening constantly. My people and I live in Goshen and the hail which destroyed everything Egyptian outside in its path whether it was a beast or man did not touch us!   

 

Entry 11

 

 I heard that Moses and Aaron warned Pharaoh that You G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would send locusts. In response to the warning he told Moses and Aaron he would let only men go. I can’t believe his nerve he expects that we women will stay here with our children! We are a family! If my husband ever left here I would be by his side with our children. If one of us goes to worship YOU we all go! The locusts came, covered the land of Egypt and destroyed trees and anything else the hail might have left. Again, the event did not affect us. No locusts were seen in Goshen and nothing was harmed here.

 

Entry 12

 

Thank-YOU G-d of our fathers, there is an abundance of light in my dwelling and in every dwelling in Goshen. All of Egypt is in darkness; even in their homes the Egyptians can not see anything! Pharaoh has to let us go now. 

 

Entry 13

 

The darkness lasted 3 days and Pharaoh still refuses to let us go. My children have been asking if all these events mean we will soon be leaving. My husband told me he heard that after 3 days in darkness Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron to him and said that the men of our people can take their wives and children with them, but he demands our people leave our flocks and herds with him. What will happen now? 

 

 

Entry 14

On the 10th of this month Moses called us all together. He told us to get a lamb without blemish which we did. Those people in the community who had too small of a household for a lamb shared with their neighbors. After slaughtering the lambs at twilight our community placed the blood on our doorposts so that YOU would Passover us. We ate the lamb in a hurry with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. We dressed as you told us. That night was the most frightening I had ever spent as you passed over our people and smite every Egyptian first born son. We have now left the oppressive land. Pharaoh has had enough. We will celebrate the Passover for all time. We had to depart in such a hurry our bread did not have time to rise! I will admit as I walk with my husband, children, and other family no longer a slave to the Egyptians I am terrified. I wonder what will happen next. G-d of out fathers that said I trust in You.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I lay Awake
February 23, 2009, 3:37 am
Filed under: Frum, Hashem, Jewish, Torah, write | Tags: , ,
This peom was written  last year for the eight yeshiva students murdered on Rosh Chodesh Adar.
   
I  lay awake asking why, why HASHEM and I cry. Tears flow down my startled face, a disgrace.
 
 Celebration, and pain
 
 Men who love HASHEM have been slain and there are no words to describe how much pain there is inside,
 
 Mothers and Fathers have lost their young, have lost their sons Sons who drank in the holiness of your words like water to survive in your Holy City.
 
They did not forget you Yerushalayim. Simcha and Holy Torah were on their minds and protected in their hearts.
 
What beautiful lives, HASHEM hear Yerushalayim’s sigh,
 
 count each tear of your people as they cry. I find it difficult to speak, so I turn to you. I turn to you HASHEM,
I turn to Yerushalayim, and I turn to my pen once again.


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.

 

 

 

 

 



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



Story Teller: Israel State of Mind
October 20, 2008, 2:30 am
Filed under: Hashem, Jewish, Judaism, Sukkot, Torah, Yom Tov | Tags: , , ,

 

 

My Dear Blog Readers,

 

I have Israel on my mind.  Not that it isn’t always on my mind G-d forbid, “if I forget you Oh Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill” (Tehillim, 137).  Israel just happens to be more on my mind now than usual.  Did you ever meet a good story teller? No by storyteller I do not mean a good liar.  I am talking about the kind of person who can relate a story to you and make you feel as though you are experiencing it.  In my experience, a good storyteller can relate a story that they have experienced or that they have heard someone else experienced and the results are the same.  You are left feeling as though you are living the moment.  I met someone like that who recently told me a story about Israel, but not just a story about Israel, it was a story about a Sukkot trip to Israel.  As the person spoke, I felt as though I had been transported there; I could feel the energy and I could almost hear the music from the concerts that this story teller said took place on Chol Hamoed Sukkot 

 

I felt as though I could almost see the massive amounts of people in Israel during this time.  I was so uplifted by this story; I never wanted it to end.  This person spoke of young people who had never been to Israel coming in groups and the looks on their faces as they took it all in.  This story teller went on to say how incredibility amazing it was to see young people who had little or no knowledge of their Jewish roots, being and feeling so connected.  I think I said “wow, that is really inspiring but I don’t think this person knew just how inspired I was!   It would be such a blessing to be in Israel during Sukkot, it would be such a blessing to be in Israel at any time.  Sukkot in Israel How amazing that must be!  If I recall correctly this story teller described it as a big party! How wonderful it is to feel so connected and so aware of Hashem’s presence.   I could hear the excitement in this person’s voice when I was told I had to go to Israel.  You see this story teller knew I had never been to Israel, and although I am not there right now, I truly did feel like I was.    Do you have a Sukkot in Israel story you would like to share? Do you have any Israel trip stories you would like to share? 

 

Have a good Yom Tov everyone!



Intro
August 28, 2008, 12:55 am
Filed under: author, Jewish, Jewish, Torah, write | Tags: , ,

 

 

Hello Blog Readers,

 

For at least two years I wondered why anyone would keep a blog.  To me they seem like diaries, and diaries in my opinion should for the most part remain private.

 

 Why you ask would I venture to write a blog?  In truth, and to my surprise, an idea for a blog came to me last summer, I decided that before I wrote anything, I should do some research to make sure that this idea was original.  What I found was a beautifully written blog called Jew in the City. 

 

“That’s my idea”, I thought “and it’s already being done.”  I subscribed to the blog and forgot about writing my own.  I didn’t see the point.  Lately however, friends have been telling me that I should council people and that I have so much wisdom to share that I should write a non fiction book about my life because so many people would relate to it on at least one level.  I have been told by many that I am one of the most determined people they have met.  I am a modest person, I don’t know if all of that is true.  I do know that I am determined; I know that I have had many obstacles in my life and that I have always tried to keep a positive attitude and outlook.  I know that I want to help others. 

 

The purpose of my blog is to change negative attitudes and to show that although life can be very difficult; people can overcome their challenges and be stronger people because of them.

 

I am an orthodox Jewish woman with a disability.  I am a person who has faith and I continue to face challenges on my journey.   I am not alone, all people have frustrations.  It is how you deal with those frustrations that is important.  I want to inspire people and to give them hope.  I need to make it clear that I am not a Rebbetzin.  I am just a young orthodox woman living in the suburbs, full of determination to overcome obstacles with ability, thank G-d, to help people I come across to have a positive attitude when they are feeling frustrated and down.  I have a lot to say and I realize now that there is room for two Orthodox women trying to create and maintain positive influences while disregarding stereotypes, there is room for both Jew in the City, and me Jew in the Suburbs.