Monday, March 13, 2017

Purim Poem-Costumes

Here is the poem I sent along with my mishloach manos this year. 
Enjoy!

Why do we dress up on פורים, is a question I was asked,
And so I set out to find a deeper answer, I was ready for this task,
After some research I found in R’ Binyomin Eisenberger’s name,
(בשם אומרו I quote him just as מרדכי did the same)
Going all the way back to יוסף הצדיק who was focused on how he did appear,
Fixing his hair, beautifying his eyes, the contrast is unclear.
How could he have been a צדיק if he was busy with the outside?
It’s because his inner holiness he did not show-his greatness he did hide.
His colorful coat, the כסונת פסים was clothing that concealed,
All he had inside of him, to the public this was not revealed.
Like his mother רחל who had the מידה of שתיקה-secrecy,
Who didn’t reveal to יעקב that lavan would switch לאה with trickery,
This מידה was passed down to רחל’s children, first Yosef and later אסתר too,
Who kept her identity hidden and didn’t reveal that she was a Jew.
She lived in a secular environment, yet she remained pure,
It may not have been obvious on the outside but of this we are sure.
She wasn’t fooled when she stood with fear before אחשורוש the king
She knew Who really had the power, it was the King of Kings.
She davened to Hashem, begging and pleading on behalf of her nation,
She knew He was the only One to rely on for their salvation.
This shows she stayed connected on the inside even in the palace far from home,
Just as her ancestor יוסף who educated his children in מצרים where they had grown.
They kept their קדושה  intact, no matter in which גלות they were found,
And our job as Jews is to follow them, to their legacy we are bound.
So on פורים we dress up, our costumes serve to hide,
Its’ purpose is to cover up whatever is going on inside.
So how does what is hidden become visible for all to see?
It’s another מצוה of the day that reveals with clarity,
נכנס יין יצא סוד it’s the wine that brings out our core
Our essence comes to light when we are not in full control anymore.
But there must be something of value inside for it to be brought out,
When we cultivate our נשמה, we can see without a doubt,
That what’s inside is beautiful, it’s holy and it’s real,
We hide ourselves in clothing and our inner selves reveal.
That’s the purpose of drinking on this day so great,
We want to expose what’s real and true, what we appreciate.
So as you enjoy your פורים with costumes, drinks and fun  
Remember it’s what’s inside that counts once the day is done.
May you be able to be like our ancestors who in גלות stayed so strong,
Until the day when all of us will sing the ultimate song.
May the day come when Hashem will finally hear our call,
And then His hidden essence will be revealed to one and all!

א פרייליכען פורים!

Please note, if you found this poem and would like to share it with others or use it for yourself, I would appreciate if you can email me or leave a comment to let me know.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hamantashen

On Purim, we eat hamantashen.

Why?

Look at the shape of this cookie. It is shaped like a triangle-the same shape as one of the nekudos, a סגל. We see this root word in one of the names given to the Jewish People. We are called the עם סגולה. 

What is the significance to all this?

If you look at the סגל, you will notice that any way you turn it, it will keep its shape. The same is true of the hamantash and triangle. It doesn’t change its shape when you twist it, twirl it or flip it.

The same is true of every Jewish person. No matter what a person does, no matter which way they turn, they will always remain a part of the עם סגולה.  There is nothing a person can do-no sin, no act, no thought and no belief that can change the fact that they are a part of the Chosen Nation, the עם סגולה. 

So no matter which way life takes you, remember this. Remember this on all the twists and turns of life. Remember this forever.

You will always be a part of our Chosen Nation.

That is the secret behind the hamantash.

And that is what bothered Haman so much about us to the point that he wanted to kill us. We are anעם מפוזר ומפורד בין העמים. We are scattered, far-flung and widespread and yet at the same time, ודתיהם שונות -we have different customs. We don’t do what the goyim do. We are different.

How?

Because we are an עם סגולה. And by always remembering that we are part of the Chosen Nation, we can keep our identity strong no matter which direction life takes us.

May you be able to stay strong and stay true to the Nation you belong to throughout all the twists and turns of life.

Happy Purim!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Just Precious

I’m sitting in a classroom when I hear the shrill of a siren. Instinctively, I say a perek of tehillim.

Shir hama’alos mima’amakim kir’asicha Hashem…” 

I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. I think it was my second grade teacher who told our class about this idea and since then, it stuck. When an ambulance passes, it’s an opportune time to ask Hashem for the patient to be safe and everyone to be okay.

As I grow older, the lessons I’ve learned as a child get passed on to my own children.

The first time my kids saw me stop when I heard a siren, they questioned me. I explained that the sound I heard meant that there was an emergency. And if someone needs help, if there’s a fire or an accident, I stop and say a tefillah to ask Hashem to keep everyone safe.

My kids understood and went back to whatever playtime activity they were busy with.

Now, every time we hear a siren, my little boy yells out, “Mommy, you have to say a tefillah!”

And he checks to make sure I am whispering something quietly to myself.

And then the precious moment came...

After hearing a siren wailing outside, I stopped, said a perek of tehillim and noticed my little girl whispering quietly to herself.

I took a step closer and was able to make out the words she was saying.

What tefillah did she choose to say at that very moment?

Her words were those of elokai neshama.

How precious is that?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Winter-A Poem

I wrote this a year ago and can appreciate the message even more as I continue to live and experience the truth of what I wrote. May you all be able to see growth and change as you go through the seasons of the year and the seasons of life.

Winter's here
Trees are bare
'cept for some snow
Who would know
What's going on beneath the ground
Under the snow covered mound
Of dirt
Of grass
Of concrete for some
So much
Going on
Beneath the surface
So much
Happening
Underground
But we can't see it.
Just because we can't see it
Doesn't mean it isn't happening
So much growth
So much change
Down there
Even though
Up here
The trees remain bare
The plants aren't there
No flowers to behold
Just emptiness.
But then...
Spring comes!
The sun begins to shine
The leaves begin to rustle
The plants
And fruit
And flowers
Begin to blossom
To grow
To add color
And light
Make bright
Our days
Our time
Outdoors
How?
How did that all happen?
So quickly
Seemingly
It's because
When we couldn't see
Beneath the surface
So much was happening
Underneath the surface
We just don't have
The vision
To see it.
Life brings with it
Many seasons
And during the winter
When things are hard
Dark
And cold
Harsh
Difficult
Sometimes seemingly
Unbearable
We must remember
We must internalize
We must believe
That there is something
Something very deep
Something very profound
Going on
Beneath the surface
It's so big
Yet so tiny
So...precious
Yet so hard to grasp
That we cannot even see it
We cannot even notice it
During the harsh winter
But then...
When Spring arrives
It's suddenly so clear!
It's so...there!
You can't even miss it if you tried
It stares you in the face
The growth
The change
The color
The depth
The newness
It's a whole different creation
WE become different
WE become new
WE change
WE grow
With a depth
With a maturity
With a resilience
With strength
With character
All because of
The winter
All because of
The darkness
All because of
The hard times
When we couldn't see
We were in so much pain
We couldn't even notice
The tiny changes
But once they happened
Little changes grew
Little steps became a staircase
Climbing up
Reaching up
Forever higher.
All during the cold, harsh winter
When Spring arrives
We can finally see
The beauty
The color
Of our blossoming character.
Stay strong.
Hold on through the cold.
Hold on when it's dark.
Hold on when it's so tough.
You will grow.
You will blossom.
You will change.
And when the Spring comes
You'll finally
Be able
To see it
Yourself.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Dreidel

Someone sent this to me and I want to share it with you. 

The dreidel has an important message. It spins and when it falls we can only see the one upper side of the dreidel. 

Life seems to be spinning and we are sometimes caught up in a whirlwind. We have to remember that just as when the dreidel falls, we can only see one side of it, so too in life we can never see the full view. With our very limited vision we can only see and perceive one angle, but we know there is far more than meets the eye and that Hashem always has a master plan. There is far more to the picture than we can see, so we put our faith in Hashem. We know and believe He is the One who turns the wheel of life and He Who creates and can see the whole picture can perform for us Nissim which to us with our limited vision may seem impossible.

So if things is life don't seem to be falling on Gimmel, DON'T GIVE UP - the One Who keeps the world spinning can also spin miracles - בימים ההם בזמן הזה.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Always A Plan

We all want to understand. We want answers. Yet, things are not always so clear.

Some days, things go the way we want them to. Little annoyances crop up, but we deal with them.

Other times, things don't go the way we'd like. We turn to Hashem and ask, "Why?" Sometimes it is easy to remember Hashem when He is making things difficult for us. Challenges remind us that He is in charge.

Yet, we don't understand.

What to do? 

How do we get through challenges, both big and small?

One thing that helps me through tough times is reminding myself that Hashem has a plan. There is a reason why I have to have this specific inconvenience. There's a reason why I have to deal with this frustration at this time. There is a reason for the big stuff too. Hashem knows why. I don't. 

There's something comforting in that thought. It helps to know that the One Who created me decided that at this moment, I should be in this place, going through this experience. There's a reason. This is exactly where I am meant to be.

Even if I don't understand. Even if it doesn't make sense. Even if I wish things were different. Hashem knows why. 

And...He put me here for my own good. There is some way that I can benefit from this specific situation. Maybe I can work on a certain character flaw, maybe I need to learn something deeper, maybe I need to be knocked down so I can climb up. Maybe I need to need so I can learn to give when my cup is full. Maybe I need to feel this feeling so I can become more caring towards others. Maybe this is an atonement for things I did that I don't remember but G-d above doesn't forget.

I don't know Hashem's reasons. But I know He has a reason for each and every thing He puts me through. 

The same God who watches over every insect and animal is watching over me. The same One who makes the rain fall and the trees grow, the same One who keeps my heart pumping and my body functioning, the One who gives me koach when I need it most, He is the God who plans my life. And if I believe that there is a purpose to the existence of every creature He put into this world, I believe that I have a purpose too. 

I may not discover it just yet. But I know that every step of my life is leading me towards that purpose. 

May we all be able to live our lives with meaning and strengthen our trust in Hashem so we can achieve true, inner happiness.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Hungry-a Poem

Recently, while looking through some old things I wrote, I found this poem. I hope you like this message as much as I do.

Hungry
Thirsty
Take a drink
Can of soda
Snap and pop
Open up
And pour it out
Take a sip
Let the taste
The fizz
Tickle my tongue
It fills me up
Easily
Makes me feel full
But
My thirst
Has not been quenched
I want more
But there is no more
Left.
The full feeling
Sits in my tummy
But slowly subsides
And I realize
I'm still hungry
Thirsty
Need something more
Something else.
In life
We feel hungry
Thirsty
Yearning
For something
To fill our souls
Our hearts
Our lives
Our days and nights
With fulfillment
Accomplishment
With meaning
But the fizz
The excitement
The bubbly feel
The colorful choices
Of drinks
Entice us
And we take a sip
Finish the can
Indulge
In physicality
In pleasures
In fleeting pleasures
That don't last
Out to eat
Out to shop
To the mall
To the shops
To the restaurants
To ice cream
We're never satiated
We want more
Vacations
Luxuries
We chase them all
But we don't feel full
Something's missing
That inner yearning
That inner thirst
Cannot be quenched
By physicality
By materialistic pleasures alone
There's more

There's more to life.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Letter From God

My precious child,

I want to wish you a shana tova, a sweet new year, and share with you a few things that I think you need you to know.


When I look at you I see something very different than what you see when you look in the mirror. You see yourself as you are now. But when I look at you I see who you can become. My primary goal is to help you grow from where you are now to where I know you can be.


Sometimes you are already challenging yourself and pushing yourself to become that person that I created you to become. So I just watch, with great nachas, and gently guide you in that direction. I orchestrate the events and experiences of your day-to-day life to ensure the maximum possibility of your achievement of that goal.


Other times, I have to present you with challenges and hurdles in order to convert your potential greatness into actualized excellence. I know that those moments are sometime painful, but if I don’t challenge you then you will never actualize your potential. Please remember that I am closer to you during those moments than I am at any other time.


I want to tell you about one of my most important employees. He is the V.P. of Human Development. His name is Yetzer hara, the evil inclination, and he works for me 365 days a year, 24/7. The Yetzer hara gets a bad rap, but he is really your best friend. If it weren’t for him, you would remain a nobody forever. I have empowered him to provide you with constant assaults and to approach you with a never ending barrage of creative tactics, but they only come to challenge you to grow and improve yourself. The Yetzer hara and I have only one goal for each encounter you have with him: we both want you to overpower him and show him what you are made of. Of course, once you do that I send him back with a more difficult obstacle to overcome, because that’s how you really become great.sh


Here’s some good advice: Speak to me. Often. And don’t think I only understand Hebrew. I understand every language there is. So speak to me in your own language. And you don’t have to wait to be in a synagogue; speak to me any time of day, no matter what you’re doing – when you’re driving your car, when you’re taking a walk. Speak to me before you go to sleep. And most of all, speak to me on Shabbos. I am always available and I really am a good listener. In fact, I understand you better than anyone else (even yourself) because you are mine and I made you. So don’t be shy, don’t feel awkward; just pour your heart out to me and I promise I will respond.


And take advantage of Shabbat; it’s My special gift for you. Turn off your phone, computer, iPad and all those other gadgets and use the quiet time to celebrate your most important relationships: your relationship with Me, your relationship with yourself and your relationships with those special people that you are closest to. Even if you can’t carve out the whole 25 hours for this purpose, at least use some of the day to connect to me.


I will let you in on a secret: I am talking to you all the time but I speak in a faint whisper. You have so many competing sounds, a cacophony of noises going on around you that drown me out. Find some quiet time and Shabbos and listen. You will be amazed what you hear.


Don’t try to go through the journey of life on your own. I want you to find a mentor who can guide you and teach you and show you how to find Me and connect to Me. When you find that person, cling to him or her and don’t let go. Make them teach you and guide you and take their advice to heart.


In addition, find someone to take this journey with. It is a lot easier to make this trek if you have someone with whom to share the journey. You can both make sure you are staying on target and heading toward your goals.


If you can, make the effort to come to the place on earth where My presence can most be felt. Spend some time in My city Jerusalem and imbibe the wisdom that oozes from the ancient walls there.


Rosh Hashanah is coming up. It’s the birthday of mankind when I revise the plan of human history and write the next act for the year to come. Think about what major role you want to take. I am willing to let you play any role that you are committed to play. So think big and create a passionate vision of who you want to be this coming year. And on Rosh Hashanah, instead of counting the number of pages left in the machzor, talk to Me and tell Me what role you want to play.


The Book of Life will be open on that day and I am putting the pen in your hands. Choose life.


Love,

Your Father in Heaven who believes in you and loves you unconditionally.

I don't know who wrote this, but if anyone does know, please tell me so I can give them the proper credit!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Tzom Gedalia

Here's a short thought and a practical lesson we can take from today's fast day.

We fasted because the tzaddik Gedalia was killed on this day. He was warned beforehand that someone was planning to kill him but he didn't believe the Lashon Hara nor did he investigate to see if there was any truth to it. 

We learn from here that there are times to ask questions, to see if something negative we heard is true-in order to protect ourselves. We can't have an "absolutely no Lashon Hara"  policy. 

Extremes are not good; everything must be done in moderation. 

Maybe this day comes right after Rosh Hashana, when we start to accept new changes upon ourselves so we can be aware: STOP! Don't take too much upon yourself. Do good, make changes, but don't go to crazy extremes or you may end up hurt in the end!

Have a meaningful next few days of slow, gradual changes!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Elul-A Message

Someone sent this to me and I wanted to pass on this beautiful message.

There is a fellow who owns a jewelry store in Israel. One day a nine year old girl walked into the store and said, “I am here to buy a bracelet.” She looked through the glass cases and pointed to a bracelet that was $3,000. The man behind the counter asked her, “You want to buy that bracelet?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“Wow, you have very good taste. Who do you want to buy it for?”

“For my older sister.”

“Oh that is so nice!” the storekeeper replied. “Why do you want to buy your older sister this bracelet?”

“Because I don’t have a mother or father,” the little girl said, “and my older sister takes care of us. So we want to buy her a present, and I’m willing to pay for it.” She pulled out of her pocket a whole bunch of coins that totaled just under eight shekels, a little less than two dollars.

The fellow says, “Wow! That’s exactly what the bracelet costs!” While wrapping up the bracelet he said to the girl, “You write a card to your sister while I wrap the bracelet.” He finished wrapping the bracelet, wiped away his tears, and handed the little girl the bracelet.

A few hours later the older sister entered the store. “I’m terribly embarrassed,” she said. “My sister should not have come here. She shouldn’t have taken it without paying.”

“What are you talking about?” the storekeeper asked.

“What do you mean? This bracelet costs thousands of dollars. My little sister doesn’t have thousands of dollars – she doesn’t even have ten dollars! Obviously she didn’t pay for it.”

“You couldn’t be more wrong,” the storekeeper replied. “She paid me in full. She paid seven shekel, eighty agurot, and a broken heart. I want to tell you something. I am a widower. I lost my wife a number of years ago. People come into my store every single day. They come in and buy expensive pieces of jewelry, and all these people can afford it. When your sister walked in, for the first time in so very long since my wife had died, I once again felt what love means.”

He gave her the bracelet and wished her well.

During the High Holy Days, we come to the Almighty and we want to buy something very expensive. We want to buy life. But we cannot afford it. We don’t have enough money to pay for it. We don’t have the merits. So we come to the Almighty and we empty out our pockets, giving him whatever merits we have plus promises for the future. I’ll pick up the phone and call someone who is lonely, I will learn an extra five minutes of Torah, I will be kind and I will be scrupulous about not speaking lashon hara (gossip) for one hour a day.

The Almighty says, “You don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve felt what love means.” He sees how much we love Him and how much we yearn to improve, and He says, “You know what? You have touched my heart. Here it is, paid in full.”

(The story was told over by Rabbi Go’el Elkarif who said he heard it from the person to whom it happened.)