Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tu B'Shvat-Trees

There's a beautiful piece of poetry about a man who took a walk outside and saw a tree with delicious tasting fruits. The man gave the tree a wonderful blessing. Instead of blessing the fruit tree to bear sweet tasting fruits or to give off a pleasant shade, he wished upon the tree to have offspring, fruits, that are just like the tree itself. In essence, he was blessing the tree that there should be many more fruits like him, with all the positive qualities of the tree, not just replicating one aspect of it's goodness.

Someone composed the "chorus" of the story and made it into a beautiful song. 

Ilan, Ilan, bamah avarechicha...

Although many people have taken the message of the song and applied it specifically to parents-blessing them that their offspring should be as wonderful and as special as they are, I want to take this parable to a whole different level.

Ki Ha'adam Eitz Hasadeh-each one of us is compared to a tree. Just like there are many trees outside, there are many people in this world. And we meet different people at different points in our lives. Those who we come in contact with are looking at us, watching us and being affected by our shade-by the positive energy we give off. 

Do YOU realize that? 

Do you realize what power you have? 

And how you can impact other people by the way you interact with them?

Imagine if this blessing was showered upon you. That all those who come in contact with you should learn from your positive character traits, from your good and giving heart, from your excitement for another act of kindness...would you act differently? Wouldn't you want to be the best person you can be...if you knew others were learning from you and acting just like you?

You are like a tree.

The people around you bask in your shade. They are watching you, making observations and following your lead.

Each one of you has the power to impact those around you for the good!

You don't know who is watching you with wide eyes. Who around you looks up to you and wants to be like you...because of the good they see in you that makes them wish they can be like you too.

*  *  *

I took another message from this beautiful blessing bestowed upon this tree.

I think about my brother Shalom a"h and about how he spent the last summer of his life. He was in camp Stolin, having a good time-just like all the other boys who were there with him. But he did do some extra special things, things that were highly unusual for a boy his age. He said tikkun chatzos every night. He got up early every morning, went to the mikvah and then learned with a chavrusa before davening.

I think about the last day of his life. He was extremely tired because on motzei shabbos nachamu, he stayed up to clean up and organize the siddurim, the tables and the chairs after all the men had finished dancing. His rebbe said that Shalom stood throughout the morning seder, leaning over his shtender. He didn't sit down because he did not want to fall asleep and he learned with an extra measure of excitement. Did he know what was coming? What the rest of the day would bring?

I think about the last few moments of my brother's life. 

He was...up in a tree.

Marveling at the beauty of the borei olam. Looking at the scenic lake from his spot high up in that tree.

And then he fell. 

This was Hashem's plan. 

I think about my brother and I think about the song. And I say, Shalom, I give you a bracha. My wish is, shekol netiyos shenot'im mimcha yi'hiyu k'moscha-that all the children who were named after you should be just like you.

You already have three nephews who carry on your name.

One of them is my son. 

I know the day will come when he will be old enough to listen to stories about you and mature enough to understand what a special uncle he had.

And my deepest desire is...that my son should be like you. That he should have that amazing mix that you had. 

You were so good with your hands, always able to take things apart and put them back together in the most creative ways. I remember how you took apart a broken food processor and used the motor and some other small pieces to create an alarm clock. How you took the inside of your hat box and covered it with duct tape so it shouldn't get ruined by rain-and attached it to the back of your bike so you'd be able to switch from your helmet to your hat when you went off your bike and into yeshiva, shul or a store. You were so unbelievably creative.

You were so warm and loving to your nieces and nephews. You loved kids and were so gentle with them.

You were so much fun to be around. Your smile lit up the room...and our house.

You knew when to be serious but you also knew how to tell a great joke and get everyone to laugh.

There is so much about you that cannot be captured over here. But I know you...and I know that I wish that my son, who carries on your name, will grow up to be just like you...just like the uncle he never knew.

Shalom, yehi ratzon...shekol netiyos shenot'im mimcha yi'hiyu k'moscha.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Birthday Message

Today, Vav Shevat, is my hebrew birthday.

There are so many thoughts and feelings that come to me in this special day.

For me, my birthday is a time when I remind myself about how much I have to be grateful for. It's a day where I think about the good I have been given and thank Hashem for it.

When it comes to thanking Hashem, a lot of it boils down to the little details. It's all those little things that make me realize just how blessed I am, just how much good I have in my life and just how much I should show Him that I appreciate all of it.

I think about my precious, healthy little children, the adorable things they say, the joy they bring into my life...and I am grateful.

I think about how SB told me he had "corn on the bone" for lunch...and I smile...and I laugh. :-D The kid is too cute!

I watch CG play with her dolls, talk to them, diaper them, feed them and take care of them and my heart bursts with joy and appreciation to Hashem for giving me such a gift.

When I see Moishy crawling around the house faster than the speed of lightening and I hear him say his first few words, I am in awe of how this little teeny thing can do so much, can understand and communicate without very many words...and I am grateful.

I observe the way my children interact with each other, run to help each other and play together. They are learning so much, growing, changing and maturing each and every day. And my heart expands...until it can almost burst from thanks and appreciation.

I remember who gave me these priceless blessings, these adorable children, who take over my life and my heart. Who teach me to work on my patience, to be more easygoing, to let things slide...and to understand that they have reasons for their behavior and misbehavior...and who teach me to work on myself to be a better parent.

Kol zeman shehaneshama b'kirbi, modeh ani l'fanecha.

People say time moves fast. And that you turn around and wonder where all that time went. I don't feel it. My life is crawling. Each day is long. Sometimes, I look back and think to myself, that was just last week? It feels like ages ago!

But...I am alive. And I am grateful for each and every day I am given, each day that is filled with the joy and love and happiness I get from my children.

Each birthday brings me closer to the day...to the time of...v'atah asid lit'lah mimeni. I have no idea when that time will be.

Is it scary? Yes. But...don't I need that reminder? Isn't that something that's safe to think about (at least) once a year?

Kol zeman shehaneshama b'kirbi, modeh ani l'fanecha. As long as I am alive, I will be thankful.

Each birthday is an opportunity for me...and opportunity for reflection...for introspection...and for connection. A chance to look inside myself and see where I want to be and to take steps to get there. It's easy to forget but I have one day a year that I can make a little more spiritually elevated. Today can be a little different. It's not a special day for everyone else; it is my day. My day to make special...amidst the mundane, in middle of the regular routine...and use that day to the fullest, to start making positive changes, and to take steps in the right direction.

I am still young. I still feel so young. There is still so much I still have to do, so much I want to accomplish!

So...I will daven. I will ask the Only One who can help me for strength and ability to make those changes, to become better...and for the time I need to do it.

How could I write a birthday post without ending with a bracha? :-)

But first...I need to say this.
To all my readers out there, thank you. Thank you for your comments! They keep me going and make me realize that someone out there is reading and appreciating (or questioning :-) ) what I write. I enjoy the discussions and the feedback...and I want to thank you for it. Knowing that the inspiration from this blog is spreading is one of the things that keeps me writing and sharing my thoughts with you.

My bracha to you is that you should always feel Hashem close to you, at your side. You should feel like those lines of communication are always open and you should be able to express yourself to Him at all times. When you can't find any reason to open up, think of one thing you are grateful for...and thank Him for it. Hashem gives us so much bounty! Variety of food, colors, tastes and so many simple pleasures. Say thank you!

May each one of you who comes here for inspiration always feel that inner desire to grow and become better...and may you have the strength to overcome your challenges in the difficult times and use the good times to connect to Hashem too, through gratitude and appreciation for all He does for you!

May you and those close to you have yeshuos in every area-shidduchim, parnassah and health. Those of you who know people struggling with their yiddishkeit should know-keep davening for those precious neshamos-and may you see them come back, finding their own path, with a passion and love for Judaism and for Hashem.

I usually don't have a hard time expressing my brachos to you. My last bracha is...that just as easily as I expressed all this, that's how easily and smoothly Hashem should fulfill all that I wish for all of you!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Every Neshama Can Soar High

every person is so important and has the power to become great! enjoy this video!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Parshah Poem

Parshas Shemos
The Jews enslaved
Tortured
Hit
Put to work
Backbreaking labor
Not much time to think
Just work work work
No time for a drink
No time for much
Except work
Gather materials
Keep moving
Keep going
Keep working
No stopping.
In between
The schlepping
The dragging
The pulling
A Jew lets out
A sigh
A sigh of pain
Of emotion
Of despair
Of prayer
No time to talk
No time to express
Real prayer
So instead
Vayei'anchu
They groaned
They sighed
Vayiz'aku
They cried
They expressed
That which real words
Cannot express
And Hashem
He heard
Vata'al shav'asam
Their outcry
Their deep expression of pain
Went up
Rose up
To the highest Heavens
And He heard
Their unspoken words
Their sigh
Their groans
Their cries
Spoke volumes
That only Hashem
Could hear
Could really know
The meaning behind
The depth of
Their pain.
The message
We all
Can take
Is the same
Hashem knows
Hashem hears
Your unspoken words
When pain is too strong
To talk
To express
Real words of prayer
He still hears
The silent whisper
The silent voice
Behind each sigh
Behind each cry
Direct it to Him
He hears
He knows
He understands
And He listens.
Always.
Much has changed
Since the time
We spent
In mitzrayim
We are not tortured
Oppressed
Put to work
Forced labor
But we go through
Moments
Experiences
Of pain
It's the same
We're the same
Jew
Inside
We turn to Hashem
Our Father
In those moments
Of despair
Of pain
Of emotion
In prayer
With that same sigh
With that same cry
Because
He listens.
Always.