Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Shabbos Queen

I sing this song to my son Shalom Baruch every so often. He's been asking me to sing it to him more and more now...(except he says, "Mommy, sing me Shabbos Clean..." ;-) )

I used to think my mother was the Shabbos Queen
She’d stand so regally with royal grace
And whisper to the king of the universe, Hashem
In a very special place
Behind her covered face

I know that she’s not asking him for diamonds
My noble mother doesn’t ask for gold
She’s asking him to help me study in the Torah’s ways
And to let her eyes behold
The joy as she grows old

Oh...When I grow up, no matter what life brings
Hashem will give the strength I need to handle it
And I will walk by the lights of one thousand Friday nights
And the tefillos of my mother who always had her candles lit

And you can sing the chorus as many times as you want-it gets stronger and more powerful every time you sing it.

This song makes me teary-eyed. I have to hold back those tears so I could sing it to him from beginning to end because the words are so touching and it gives me so much to think about.

When I get to the chorus, so many thoughts run through my mind. Sometimes, I just look at those big innocent eyes staring back at me and I am overwhelmed. I don't know what Hashem has in store for my son but I do know that no matter what it is, Hashem will give him the strength he needs to go through whatever challenges come his way. I look into those big eyes and I think and I hope-I just hope that he will have it easy...and things should go smoothly for him. And I do know that whatever tests come his way, Hashem will help him through them.

Other times, I think of my mother. I think of all the tefillos she davened for me at the shabbos candles. I think of the challenges I've gone through and how much her tefillos must have helped me get through them. I think of the tests Hashem has given me, the little and the big ones...and it makes me cry. But I hold back the tears so I could finish singing the song to SB because he is looking back at me...I'm still thinking while I sing...and I think more about my mother's tefillos...and her hopes for all of her children. We've all been through challenges and we need those tefillos. She never stops. Every week she lights her beautiful silver candelabra and she davens for each of us.

I think of my future-the unknown. And I know that no matter what life brings Hashem will give me the strength I need to handle it because I have my mother's tefillos to rely on. And I have Hashem to rely on-always.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spiritual Growth

Growing in purity is often like a caterpillar climbing a staircase. For the caterpillar, stairs are a challenge. After a short upwards incline, the caterpillar reaches a plateau, a long flat surface that is not going up at all. Things go smoothly for a while as the caterpillar traverses this surface, until the he hits a wall. It seems like the end of the road. The journey has reached a dead end.

But after bumping into this wall, the caterpillar looks around and realizes that the journey is not over at all. The only way is up. So the caterpillar starts climbing. He then understands that this was not a dead end. It was the next step upwards, to reach a new height. What seemed like an obstacle was actually an invitation to go higher.

The same happens in our Avodas Hashem. After an initial high, we come to a flat period where things coast along. Suddenly, the Yetzer Hara attacks again and new obstacles appear that seem to threaten everything we've gained until now. It looks like we've failed and the journey is over. But this is normal. We are being beckoned to go to a higher level, to raise ourselves above our current state and reach upward. It is at this moment that we need to look up and start climbing.

Growing closer to Hashem is not always a steep incline. That would be too exhausting. The plateaus give us time to reenergize, and they are just there to prepare us to go to the next level. But the challenge is in front of you. Grab it, and caterpillar your way to new heights!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Giving Back

Watch this touching video and let me know what you think. It's a little long and takes patience but if you watch it slowly, you can take a message from it.

What I took from it is-it's amazing to see how much a parent does for a child...and that when the parent ages it is time for the child to give back. Sometimes, an elderly parent can be almost like a child in their ability or inability to do certain things. It takes patience for a child to be able to see through it all and be able to really give back to their parent-in the way their parent gave to them.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rejection Letters

Someone asked me to write a post about seminary rejection letters since they're going to be coming in the mail this week.

Of course it would be nice if we could all think positively and not even have to contemplate that fateful letter but let's face it-some girls may get it in the mail. And it's not only rejection from seminary you'll have to learn to deal with but throughout life, you will be confronted with rejection in different forms be it rejection from a potential job or a guy you were dating. And it's not easy.

I wrote a post a while back called Rejection-Strengthen Your Emunah.

Everything that happens to a person has a purpose. There is a reason for every single thing you go through, whether it's good or bad, whether it seems like a blessing or a curse.

When you get your letter in the mail, if you are rejected, (and I hope you are not!) the first thing to do is to let yourself feel. Let's be realistic-it hurts to be told no. Whether it's no to a high school, seminary, job or potential spouse, any no is painful. Before getting to the ideal, it's important to be real with yourself. Do whatever you need to do to get those emotions out. Go to your room and cry, listen to music, take out a notebook and write or call someone to vent. Do whatever works for you. Let it out and give yourself permission to feel so that you can heal.

Then, when you feel ready, you can focus on the ideal-the fact that there is a good reason for this even if you may not see it or understand it right now. It's something you may know in your head but it takes time until it gets to your heart and you really feel it.

There was a girl who was rejected from the seminary of her choice and was SO upset about it. She ended up going to a different seminary and became really close to one of the girls there...and ended up marrying her brother.

There was someone who did not get into the seminary she wanted to and stayed in America for the year instead of spending it in Eretz Yisroel. At the time, she was miserable about her decision but did not have a choice. During her year in seminary, she became very close to someone who helped her get a job as a teacher in a kiruv school for the following year. This was the beginning of some amazing experiences for her that completely changed who she was as a person and strengthened her appreciation for yiddishkeit.

This is something that may need some drilling but you should remind yourself that there IS a reason for this rejection. You may get to see it a few years down the line and you may never know why it happened. But there is a certain comfort in knowing that there is a plan and Hashem is doing this for your best.

Remember-be realistic. Let yourself feel. Don't expect yourself to think that "Oh, Hashem is doing this for my good" too soon. It's hard to get that no and it's hard to face it. It hurts because it makes you feel like you are not good enough. Don't let this no knock you down! You are still a good person. Just because one seminary didn't accept you into their school does not make you a bad person. You still have value and you still have plenty to offer to another place. Hold your head up high and hopefully something better will be waiting for you-wherever you end up going next year!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


My computer finally recovered from a virus. It was pretty frightening to say the least. I clicked on a link in an email from a sender I thought I could trust and next thing I knew something showed up on my screen that started running a virus scan on my computer...shortly after that my computer was completely taken over by this virus and the only option I had to click on was to purchase some sort of software that would clean up my computer-all I had to do was provide them with my credit card information. I knew better than to do that.

It took a lot of time to clean up this mess but by now my computer is just about back to normal. Some of the settings have to be plays around with to get it back to the way I like it but b"h I have all my files back and nothing was lost.

I cannot describe how scary it is to watch the icons on my desktop slowly disappear and then to click on Start>Programs and to see nothing there. Nothing at all. What happened to all the files i have saved there? And the pictures?!

"Don't worry." the guy who was helping us fix it said reassuringly. "They just do this to scare you. I will be able to get all your files back for you."

I was not really convinced and every time I asked him he calmed me down and told me there was no reason to worry; he would be able to retrieve all my information, every file and every picture for me.

It took a long time but eventually the men at Avenue M Computers got rid of the virus. It had penetrated deep inside the computer. It took a lot of work but they were able to get to the core of the problem and clean up the mess, getting the computer back to it's original state.

This gave me a lot to think about. I thought about Our People and how many of us are infected with a virus. So many teenagers are so far away from their parents' ways. So, so many people don't even know about the Torah and what they are missing-the virus has gotten to them, so deep inside their core.

It will take a lot of work, so much time and even more patience to get that virus out of them...to clean them up, to show them the way. With love and care they can be reached. We just need to use the right tools to get to their hearts.

Many people think that kiruv should be left to the professionals-the ones who are trained to answer the toughest questions and the ones who have all the proofs at their fingertips. But really, this is not true. You never know how far a warm smile, a friendly hello or opening the door to a stranger at the supermarket can go. Show people that Jews are warm and caring-it makes such a difference.

It's not that hard to make a kiddush Hashem with simple things. When you are out shopping or walking down the street, people are looking at you. You don't know how closely that woman in jeans is watching you. I was in a bakery on Friday and I saw an older couple purchasing challah for shabbos-I never would have guessed that they were Jewish from the way they looked. Were they watching me? Possibly. I'll never know. But if I act properly wherever I go, I can know that I am making a kiddush Hashem and whoever sees me will think positively of Our People.

Yes, our nation is infected. There are so many Jews who are so far away from the truth. You don't have to do huge things to make an impact. Sometimes, it's those small interactions with those who are far away that can help bring them back.

And if you feel you have the ability to really make a difference, take the time to sign up for Partners in Torah or Oorah's Torah Mates program.

May the day come when we are completely cleaned from the virus that has infected Our People for so many generations!