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.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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.


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.

 

 

 

 

 



Gossip: This Shabbos September 20 Speech awareness

 

Hello Blog Readers,

 

I was informed a few days ago that this coming Shabbos, September 20, 2008 is National Lashon Hara awareness Day. Simply put, Lashon Hara is gossip. It is a mitzvah, a commandment to avoid this, and there are many laws of proper speech which I will write more about at another time. I thank the person for sending me this important news and for knowing that it would be good for me to have a laugh at the same time. You will see what I mean when you click on this site below. You will see the face of a very funny and famous man. Click on the face and the video will begin to play.  Let’s all be mindful and careful about the words that leave our mouths.

 

http://www.ou.org/ou/event_more/national_day_of_lashon_hara_awareness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur: The Call to Self-Improvement Part 2

 

 

Hello Blog Readers,

 

 

We are still in the Hebrew month of Elul, the Seventeenth day of Elul to be exact and preparations for the New Year, Rosh Hashanah and the day of repentance Yom Kippur are well underway.  If you feel you have gotten off to a slow start, or have not started at all as of yet, don’t worry.  It is alright, you still have time.  As I said previously in Rosh Hashanah the call to self improvement, the month of Elul is a special time for prayer.  This is not to say that once the month of Elul passes, the doors of prayer are closed.  The doors of prayer are never closed.  Hashem, G-d, always listens.  My personal interpretation is that the month of Elul is a time that G-d pays extra attention to what our prayers are. I asked you to examine, as I am examining the answers to some questions including what it is you want out of life Some of you may be thinking, that is very nice but how do I ask for what I want, and how do I know what it is that I truly desire? I. can’t give you all the answers and I will never claim to be able to but I can give you some suggestions based on my own experience.

 

  If you have an idea of what you want, sit in a quiet room and write these things down.  Don’t be concerned with how silly you think some of the things you write might be, write until you feel you can’t write anymore about what you want or think you want.  Then read through your list, depending on how long the list took, you might want to leave it for awhile, before you go over it.  This all depends on how tired you feel.  When you read through the list, ask yourself if every goal is important.  If you read something you find to be unimportant or superficial put a line through it.  Read through your list a second time to make sure that everything on it is a goal you wish to accomplish. 

 

In the case you need to ask for help knowing what you want, I suggest that when you have time you go into a room by yourself,  it must be a room where you can have privacy. Once you find this place, get comfortable and begin to talk.  No, you will not get a verbal answer, but this exercise may give you an answer, all the same.

  When I am feeling confused I do this. The best time I find is at night when everyone is sleeping, I think, and then I start talking until the situation I am dealing with begins to become less confusing to me. I pray to G-d without asking him anything yet.  I just pour out my heart, like I would with a best friend who is greatly trusted.  This communication process helps me to understand myself in ways I don’t think I could otherwise. It makes me feel that Hashem is very near.

 

Rosh Hashanah is a time we can allow ourselves to return to Hashem and during the month of Elul Hashem is begging us to come closer to him, to return to him and to what is most important in life. Sometimes a person can’t find the words to express all that they feel.  In this situation, I look up at the ceiling or sky and say “Hashem, there is so much I want to say to you but the only word I can think of is Help”.   Just saying that one little word, “Help” helps me with whatever situation I am in.  Again, I do not get a verbal response, and the problem may not be immediately solved, but I can feel a difference many times the instant that I do this.

 

Over the years, I have heard some stories of married couples renewing their wedding vows.  These couples have been together for years and have barely been separated since the beginning of their married life and love each other.  These couples were all already legally married.  So why did they choose to renew vows?  They did this act because they have deep love for each other.  It was important to these couples that they express that love and commitment in front of people but most importantly in front of each other.  These couples promised to be good spouses and to be better spouses than they had been over the years.   Rosh Hashanah is a time that we can very effectively, through a process, recommit ourselves to Hashem, and make new commitments to him to be better people who have better relationships with him and the important people in our lives.  Hashem brings himself closer to us and we help to bring ourselves closer to him during this time.  This is why the month of Elul is a particularly special time for prayer. Elul is often the right time for our heartfelt prayers to be answered with a yes.