Saturday, April 30, 2016

Free

Pesach is over
So much to wonder
About
Why the rush
To the pizza shops?
Why wait
On the lines
Just to get
Your own pie
The moment chometz
Is allowed again?
Can you pause
For a moment
Think 
For a moment
About this past week
(And a bit)
Of holy days
Special days
So much preparation
For these days
Where did it go?
What did you gain?
Aside from a few
Potato pounds? :)
Did you free yourself
From habits
That held you down?
Did you free yourself
From patterns
From actions
Reactions
That pulled you down?
What keeps you busy
When you're bored?
What do you do
When you have nothing to do
Or need an escape
From life
Real life?
Do you have good outlets?
Can you free yourself
From things
That pull you down?
Can you free yourself?
Release the bonds
Remove the chains
From around your soul
And feel yourself
Becoming more whole?
Even if you didn't yet
You still can
Even if you haven't yet
You can construct a plan
So the coming weeks
Leading up
To the day of
Acceptance
Of our holy Torah
You can become
A little holier
In small steps
By freeing yourself
Of the chains
That hold you back
That pull you down
That prevent you
From being
Truly free
May you be able
To have the strength
The determination
The perseverance
And the inner drive
To keep at it
To keep working
So you become
Truly free.

Happy changing over!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Purim Poem

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

Purim is here, a day full of fun
A day of happiness for everyone
The megillah is read for all to hear
Then gifts to the poor and goodies to share
There is so much meaning to the mitzvos we do on this day
It’s about finding Hashem in nature in a deeper way
Everything we have is like a personal gift from Hashem
From our health to our family and everything between them
It’s sometimes hard to notice that it’s special for you
When everyone around you has the same gifts too
So on Purim when the megillah is read
Hashem is migaleh, He is revealed from beginning to end
Even though His name is not mentioned at all
We can find Him when we see Haman’s downfall
Just like Esther didn’t understand why she had to be married to the king
It was only later when she saved the Jewish Nation that she understood everything
So too in our own lives, we may not always see Hashem’s hand
But we must internalize this emunah that He has a good plan
So after reading the megillah, our hearts overflow
With love for Hakadosh Baruch Hu for now we know
That whatever may appear to be bad in our eyes
Is really for the good, Hashem is just disguised
Now we want to give back to Hashem but how can we
Give anything to the King of all kings who created you and me?
Instead we give His children two types of gifts on this day
Matanos Li’evyonim is filling their needs and it’s as if we say
Hashem, I’m taking care of your children and since I am your child too
Please continue to take care of me, giving me all I need from you
Then Mishloach Manos-we give to people who don’t need anything
It is an expression of our relationship and closeness it does bring
So too Hashem gives each of us things we need because we lack
But He gives us so many extras, more than just the clothing on our backs
This shows that He loves us because we are His children so dear
He takes care of us and gives us so much bounty, every day every year
So on this Purim day, let’s realize that we show our appreciation
To Hashem for all the good by giving gifts to His Chosen Nation
And may this Purim be the year
When the “whys” of our life all disappear
And all is revealed and it’s finally clear!

A Freilichen Purim!

(If you are looking for a Purim poem and came across this one and want to use it, please email me or leave a comment here. Thank you!)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Accident

I was in an accident almost two weeks ago.

I was coming off the Verrazano Bridge, driving along with the speed of traffic when the car in front of me short stopped. I couldn't stop fast enough. I knew that if I continued going straight, I'd hit the car in front of me. In order to avoid a collision, I veered a bit to the right. That's when I heard a loud noise. The truck in the right lane scraped the passenger side of my car. My mirror flew off and disappeared onto the highway, my front bumper fell off and my tire got sliced.

Baruch Hashem, nothing happened to me or to the truck driver. His truck was fine too. All I had was a small headache and a team of people to help.

First it was a police car. Someone driving by saw an accident and called 911. 

Then the tow truck came. My car was towed to a safe spot a few miles away (while I got a ride inside the police car ;). I saw the buttons that make each type of siren sound and I eyed the policeman's gun with calm trepidation.)

Next the men from the towing company (who do this as a free service for all accidents on the bridge) offered to change my tire for me. They found the spare, changed the tire, and also outfitted the front of my car with duct-tape. I now had a real yeshivish-looking car :-). It was all ready to go...straight to the mechanic for some major fixing.

I had a lot of time that day to think and reflect. 

The driver who made that short stop in front of me went on driving, having no idea what happened right behind him. 

And I thought...how many times did someone short stop behind me while I went on driving? 

I have no idea.

How many times does Hashem protect me from danger?

We daven for so many things. We sometimes wonder, Hashem, why aren't you answering my tefillos? But we don't know how many things could have happened that didn't. Because we didn't see it. 

In shemona esrei, we say, "melech ozer u'moshia u'magein"-Hashem is the King who helps, saves and protects. Magein-protect means that Hashem prevents bad things from happening. He literally protects us. And I got to see it with my own eyes. The driver in front of me was protected, and Hashem was watching over me when I drove in the left lane along the bridge the whole time. This way, the impact of the accident was on the passenger side and not on the driver's side. Had that happened chas v'shalom, I don't want to think about where I would be right now. I probably would not be sitting at home typing up this inspirational post.

Hashem was protecting me.

It made me think of the concept we all learn about in school when Hashem passed by Moshe rabbeinu while wrapped in a tallis and Moshe rabbeinu asked Hashem, "Show me your ways." He wanted to understand the ways of Hashem, why bad things happen in this world. Hashem responded, "vera'isa es achorai"-you will see My Back, but you will not see My Face. The way we always learned it was that a person can only understand why they had to go through difficulties after the experience is over. While they are in it, it is not possible to understand why. Sometimes it takes years to be able to understand. (And sometimes a person can never understand.)

Maybe it means, when you're in the back, when you're behind someone, you can see what they were saved from. But they can't see it because they are in the front. They don't have eyes behind their back!

The person driving his car in front of me had no idea what he was saved from when I short stopped on the Verrazano. 

We have no idea what Hashem is saving us from. 

We may get frustrated sometimes when we don't see our tefillos being answered. But let's remember that every single day, Hashem is protecting us from harm, watching over us with love and taking care of our needs.

May we all be safe and be able to appreciate all Hashem does for us without any terrifying stories.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Winter-A Poem

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 2, 2015

Miracle

As you prepare for the Yom Tov of Chanukah, a day when every Jew celebrates the miracles of the past and the miracles of the present, you may wonder...What miracles am I experiencing in my life? I just go about my schedule and nothing earth shattering is going on in my life. What am I celebrating? What miracles am I thanking Hashem for?...Just remember this: "If you don't believe in miracles, perhaps you've forgotten you are one."

I'm polishing the menorah.

My little Moishy wants to watch me do it. He brings over a chair and stands next to me so he can see how I scrub the menorah until it shines and sparkles.

He wants to understand how it works.

Of course, my little boy wants to touch everything so he can get a better understanding of how it works. If he feels it, he experiences it on another level. So he reaches over to stick his fingers into the silver polish.

I stop him immediately...before his little fingers get close enough.

"Don't touch it, Moishy! That's a chemical. It's not safe for you to touch."

He hears the word chemical and he backs down.

But he wants to feel it.

So...he tries to smell it and again I stop him (not fast enough though :)).

"Eww! It doesn't smell good, Mommy," he tells me.

I know that. And I tell him. I explain...

This is not a safe thing for us. We should not touch it, taste it or smell it.

And I think about how amazing that is. It's amazing that it smells very unpleasant...so that we should know not to take it one step further. Don't touch, don't let these chemicals inside your body, protect yourself.

And I tell him...

Isn't it amazing that Hashem created our bodies to be able to smell things that are dangerous? Isn't it incredible that those dangerous things have an unpleasant smell? And things that are edible and are healthy for us to ingest look and smell appetizing?

Is that not something to marvel at?

You are a miracle. Never forget that.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Believe

I love this! It's too good and I had to pass it on. I hope you will like it as much as I do.

Question:

How can a rational, thinking person believe in G‑d, when there is absolutely no evidence for His existence? Today we have X-ray, radar, satellites, infrared photography, ultrasound imaging, gamma-ray telescopes and CCTV, and yet we still have found no trace of G‑d. If He is supposed to be everywhere, why is He nowhere to be seen? My logic says, if you are nowhere, you don't exist...

Answer:
By R' Aron Moss

Being everywhere doesn't make you easy to find. On the contrary, logic says that if you are everywhere, it's as if you're nowhere. A bit like our fridge.

As our family grew, we needed more fridge space, so we bought an old fridge online. It was a bargain. We soon found out why. When we plugged it in, it started humming quite loudly. At first, we thought we couldn't live with this constant, monotonous buzz coming from the kitchen. But in a day or two, we didn't even notice it anymore.

You can only hear a noise if that noise sometimes goes silent. But if it's always there, it's like it’s not there at all. If you would ask our kids what that buzzing noise coming from the fridge was, they wouldn't even know what you were talking about. When you live with a noisy fridge, buzzing is silence.

It's the same with G‑d. We live in a reality where the buzz of G‑d is everywhere. There is no place devoid of Him, no moment when He is absent. So of course we can't detect Him. You can only detect the presence of something if you can detect its absence. The very definition of finding something is knowing where it is, but for that you have to know where it isn't. As the Baal Shem Tov taught, G‑d is all and all is G‑d. There is nowhere that he isn't. So we never see Him, because we are always looking right at Him.

This leads to an interesting conclusion. It's not that you can't see G‑d. You actually can't miss Him. It just depends how you are looking. Put down your telescope and look at your life. You'll see He's been right there all along.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Time

We have an extra hour tonight
The clock will be pushed back
What will I do with this extra hour?
Will I stay up later?
Will I sleep in tomorrow?
Or will I utilize this hour?
I always say I need more time
I always feel like I need more time
In my day
And now that I'm getting it
Another whole hour
Will I sleep it away?
Will I waste it away?
What if
I took this hour
Took advantage of this hour
And did something with it?
Something I never do
Something I never made time to do
Take care of something
Take care of someone
Take care of myself
Use this hour
To make a resolution
To think
To come to a conclusion
So there is something valuable
To be gained
From the extra bit of time
Granted
To me
On this night.
Let me think about
How I use my time
And utilize this time
To think about 
A change
That I want to make
That I want to see
In me
But never had time for
Never made time for
Now I have it
That extra hour
How will I use it?
Now I will use it
To take that step
To make that change
To think about what's stopping me
To think about what motivates me
To do it
I know I want to
I know I can
And if I feel I can't
I will turn to the One who can
Help me
Guide me
Support me
And give me
Clarity
To use this time
To make the change
And hold on to it
So I can keep doing it
And stay strong
Without backing down
So that next year
At this time
I can look back
And be proud
Of how I used this time
Of changing clocks
To change myself

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Grateful

His first day was great
How much I appreciate
His rebbe's hard work
His approach
He will coach
His talmidim
Help them learn new skills
On their knowledge they will build
Using contests, charts
Stickers,
Prizes too
Whatever it takes
To get his boys to
Learn
Challenge themselves
Strengthen their skills
Build upon them
And keep learning
With excitement
Enthusiasm
And love for
Torah
Mitzvos
Work on middos
Listen to stories
He will do it all
He will teach
They will absorb
My son absorbs
He is eager
To learn
Excited to advance
Push himself
Further
I am so grateful
A new start
A good beginning
A great beginning
Thank you, Hashem
Thank you for the good
Thank you for a good start
Thank you for a good click
Between my son
And his rebbe
Thank you for
The sparkle in his eyes
When he tells me,
"Rebbe said......."
Thank you for
The things I hear
When he tells me
What his favorite thing was
Today
Davening
(Wow, so special)
Playing outside
(Okay, he's normal :))
And for a rebbe who is willing
To work
To change things
So my son can be
Happy
Feel satisfied
That he is learning
At a good pace
And when he said
His least favorite part
Of the day
Was
Benching
(With a nervous look on his face)
And he told me why
'Cuz the boys go too fast at the end
At the part he isn't familiar with yet
He didn't learn it
At his summer camp 
So I sent a note
Asking if the class 
Could go slower
He did it
Right away
And the next day
The very next day
My big boy said
He was able to bench
Together
With everyone else
'Cuz rebbe went slower
Today
Thank you, Hashem
For every day
With this rebbe
Who ignites his heart
With a fire
A passion
A love for
His learning
Torah
And mitzvos
I am grateful
And I keep davening
That it will
Continue
This way
Every day.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Letting Go

Tomorrow is a big day
It's the first day
Of a new school year
For my big boy
Oh boy!
I'm nervous
For him
He's excited
New knapsack
All packed
Sharpened pencils
Nice and neat
How sweet
To see
His cute little face
Eager to start
A new year
In yeshiva
As a big boy
But I'm nervous
A new year
A new start
A new rebbe
How will it go?
I know
I need to let go
Of my worries
Of my fears
He's prepared
There's nothing more
I can do
He can do
It's not in my hands
But...I so much want
It to be a good year
A productive year
A year
Where
He accomplishes
Learns
And grows
So much
There's so much
That is at stake here
He's a good kid
Eager to please
But he's also smart
Too smart, sometimes
And I worry
Will his rebbe be smarter?
Will he know what to do?
Will he be able to 
React appropriately
When my son 
Tests his boundaries?
Will he know
How to handle
The trouble
The ideas 
The mischief
My son might come up with?
He's a good kid
And he's eager to please
But he's smart, my son
Too smart, sometimes
And his brain works
So quickly
That before you blink
He can be on the brink
Of another ohmygosh moment
Heart stopping
For me
Feet climbing
For him
He's so high up
I can't figure out how he got there
But he knows
How to get down
He's smart enough
Too figure out the rungs
Or cracks
Or holes
On the wall
On the gate
On top of that garage
And he'll climb
Or jump
Or slide
Right down
It's fun for him
Not for me
So I get nervous
For him.
He has so much potential
He can reach so high
He can soar
He can fly
Rebbe...?
Will you try
Too work with him?
Too keep him
Stimulated
Instead of frustrated?
Busy doing
Instead of bored?
Looking for something to do?
He experienced both
And I'm telling you
He wants to please
I want to feel at ease
For tomorrow
For the big day
I want him to come home and say
How great it was
How much he loves his rebbe
How excited he is for tomorrow
Like he did last year
Every single day.
I pray
Today
And every day
That the Torah should be sweet
In his mouth
Like it is now
That he should love to learn
To acquire
To absorb
And take in
Every lesson
Every word.
There is so much in your hands,
Dear rebbe
But I need to remember
Whose Hands
This really is in
It's not in my hands
(And so I daven)
It's not in my big boy's hands
(Even though those hands can
Keep quite busy!)
It's not even in
The rebbe's hands
(As much as he tries
To make each lesson come alive)
It's in the Hands of
Hashem above
And so
I send up
Another prayer
And another
I don't stop davening
And hoping
And davening some more
As I shed a tear
For a productive year.
I am nervous
I am scared
I am worried
But I do know
That I need to let go
So I take a deep breath
Inhale and internalize
Exhale and let go
And inhale once again
To let that emunah seep into me
And exhale once more
So I can truly let go.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Seek Him-A Poem

Why?
Why is it
So clear
So obvious
So noticeable
Why?
Why is it
So much easier
To see Hashem
To notice Hashem
When things are good?
When things go right?
When we hear good news
And we say, 
"Mazel tov!"
A birth
An engagement
A simcha
A bar mitzvah
A wedding
We know it's from Hashem
And we thank Him for it
What a miracle
The birth of a child
The meeting of two halves
The achievement of a milestone
It's all to His credit!
It's from Hashem
And we are thankful.
So why is it
That when things go wrong
When things are hard
When we hear bad news
It's not so obvious?
We don't see Hashem
As clearly?
He's not as noticeable
And we wonder
And we question
And we ask
Why?
We wonder...
What if?
We think...
Why me?
Why her?
Why them?
Why now?
Why is there so much pain?
We don't see Hashem
We can't find Hashem
And we wonder...
Where is Hashem?
In all this pain
In all the loneliness
In all the sadness
We hear bad news
We hear sad news
A miscarriage
A broken engagement
A levaya
A loss
A divorce
A challenge
Any challenge
It's so much harder
To see Hashem
To find Hashem
Why?
Where is He hiding?
"Imo anochi b'tzarah"
Hashem says,
I am with you
In your pain
You are not alone.
I'm here
Right here
At your side
Don't hide
From me
At this moment
Search for me
Look for me
Try to find me
Seek me out
And you'll see
I'm right here
I'm always here
I'll never leave your side
For you're my child
And I love you.
It may be hard
It might not be obvious
It might not be noticeable
Because we feel lost
And alone
But when we look out for
Hashem
Even when things are hard
Especially when things are hard
Specifically when we are confused
We will find Him.
If we seek Him
We will see Him
We need to look
Outside
Instead of focusing only
On the pain
Inside
Look beyond the pain
Realize...
There is something to gain
From this exact moment
From this exact situation
Hashem is there
With you
In your pain
He is right here.
Turn to Him
Ask Him
To help
Things change
For the better
To help 
You change
For the better
From this exact moment
From this exact situation
Ask Him
Beg Him
And trust in Him.