Thursday, March 21, 2013


Do we realize how blessed we are?

I'm packing up to go away for yom tov. There is so much to do, it's kind of overwhelming. I make a list and start going through it one thing at a time. As I pack, I look at the clothing I am taking and my heart fills with gratitude to Hashem.

Look at all these colors! I have so many choices of tops, sweaters, the perfect color's such a gift!

I start packing up my children. Baruch Hashem, they have plenty of clothing. I am so grateful. Little girls are so much fun to dress. My daughter has way too much to wear; I may not have to do any laundry while we are gone.

Is that normal?

I think back to just a few generations ago. How many dresses did a little girl own? One? If someone was a little more wealthy, maybe they had a second dress? I don't know. But they certainly couldn't compete with my daughter's wardrobe.

Hashem has given us so much good.

Look at our choices of clothing-colors, textures and a perfect, comfortable fit. We can buy a shell that matches to the top with such precision, it is truly amazing.

Do we realize how blessed we are?

I go into the tights store and decide to buy my daughter a pair of cute bobby socks. So many choices! And they make such pretty ones these days. My daughter will be a princess this yom tov. The woman shows me another few choices. I decide to take just one pair. How many socks does a little two-year old need anyway? How much am I spoiling my little girl? She already has so much. Does she need even more?

I think about the bounty our generation has been blessed with while I admire the pretty bows, flowers and headbands in the store.

Yes, we are truly blessed.

We only need to open our eyes and we will see...just how much good Hashem has showered upon us. It's easy to miss it...but sometimes it stares you right in the face.

May you be able to notice the good things you've been blessed with and may Hashem continue to shower you with loads of goodness and extra bracha!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Night of Questions

I am standing in the kitchen having a discussion with my son while I work. We are talking about the makkos, and my ever so curious boy has a lot of questions. He really wants to understand.

We go through the makkos one by one and I try my best to describe each of them to him.

I get up to makkas arov, that of the wild animals.

My son has a lot of questions.

"Why did the animals hurt the mitzriyim?" he wants to know.

I give a simple explanation.

"They were so mean to the yidden. The mitzriyim made them work really hard and they hurt them. So Hashem punished them. Are we allowed to hurt? Nooo. We have to be nice to other kinderlach."

I am feeling proud of myself for sticking that little lesson into our conversation.

But my son has his own take on it.

"Hashem is so mean." he tells me.

I stand there open-mouthed for a minute and I just want to pinch my son's cute cheeks.

I try to explain it to him a little more. I explain how Hashem punishes anyone who hurts the yidden and how hard the mitzriyim made the yidden work. How they hit them and the yidden used to cry.

I describe the different animals and what they did to hurt the mitzriyim. How some animals kicked with their feet and how the elephants hit with their trunks.

My son is so "there"; it seems like he is living the story along with those back in mitzrayim.

And then he says, "Mommy, who punished the animals?"

He realizes that no one gets away scot-free. And if the animals hurt the mitzriyim as a punishment for hurting the yidden, then the next step is that the animals must get punished too.

I am done. My mind is racing. I love the way this little kid thinks.

And I wonder...when do WE stop thinking and asking? When do our minds stop questioning and just accept everything we are told?

And more importantly...why?

Why don't we continue to ask?

In Judaism, not only aren't we afraid of questions, but questions are encouraged. We are supposed to ask, inquire, delve, learn and hopefully come out with a deeper understanding and feel more satisfied inside.

On Pesach night, parents do so many unusual things.


Kidei that the little children should ask.

But it's not only the little ones who should be asking.

All of us, no matter our age, should be encouraged to open our minds and our hearts and ask those questions that have be bothering us for some time. And if the Seder night is not the right time for it, save it for another time, but don't forget about it.

So hold on to this message...and never stop asking.

Because the more we ask, the more chances we have for answers. And answers add so much depth and meaning to our lives.

The Seder night is a night of questions. It's a time to think and a time to ask.

May you be able to achieve clarity amidst confusion, depth when you are searching for meaning and may you always find the right people to ask your questions to. And most of all...may you be able to get answers that satisfy you and make you feel like you can keep asking. There is so much growth you can attain when you ask and you learn!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Always There

I remember learning about the concept of object permanence in child psychology. It's fascinating to see how babies and children develop and mature in their understanding of abstract ideas.

Why do babies love the game peek-a-boo? 

It's because when they see something, they know it's there. But when they do not see it, their little brains cannot register that the object or person is still right there. They think it's gone. So peek-a-boo is like a mini magic show to little babies! Now you see me, now you don't. Now you're here and a moment later you're not! How did you do that? Kids love it!

As children mature, they can understand this concept on a little bit of a deeper level. They learn that just because they cannot see the something, that does not mean it isn't there. If they don't see the treat they want, that doesn't mean it's not around. And they'll go looking in all the best hiding places until they find the spot where their mommy hid it.

But there's still another level.

Ever since my son got his Purim mask, we have been playing this game together. He puts on the mask and starts looking for his real nose. He gets such a kick out of it every time because when he looks into the mirror, he sees a green nose. Then he lifts the mask and says, "Uhhh! Here's my real nose!" And he giggles and laughs because he finds it so funny.

While we are living in this earth, we also go through different stages of maturing in our understanding of the concept of object permanence. Except, it's not an object that we are relating to, it's Hashem. And as we grow and change, we begin to realize that just because we cannot see Hashem, that doesn't mean He isn't there. To the contrary, Hashem is always here, but we don't always see or feel Him by our side.

As we go through different challenges in our lives, we may fluctuate between feeling this idea on both ends of the spectrum.

Some days, we may feel so connected and so close-we feel Hashem right at our side, even though things may be hard for us. We feel Hashem making the little things easier for us, small things go right and it makes us feel like we can deal with the bigger things. This gives us the strength we need to carry on, to continue going.

Then there will be days when we feel so distant, so alone. Things get hard, almost too hard. It can be a combination of many little things or one big test that makes us feel so lost. When small stresses pile up on top of big things we are dealing with, those little things become so much bigger and so much harder. This is when it's easy to feel like Hashem has left us.

But a Jew must remember that no matter what they are going through, no matter what is going on in their life, Hashem is always there.

You may not see Him. There may be times when you are in too much pain to feel Him by your side.

But always remember that He is there. At all times.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

While You Clean

This is something that makes me feel like I love having a part in our special nation.

I'm walking down my block and I see someone vacuuming their car for Pesach. Coming from the loudspeakers is a doesn't even matter what.

Mi K'amcha Yisroel! What a Kiddush Hashem. To see someone exercising their spiritual muscles while exerting their physical muscles and cleaning for Pesach.

I just love that idea-of using the time while cleaning for some mental stimulation and spiritual growth. 

What do you do while you clean for Pesach?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dear Precious Neshama

Dear Precious Neshama,

So many people are mourning your loss. People who didn't know your family, and who surely didn't get to know you in the short time you spent here on this earth.

But your story is touching so many.

You are proof, once again, of how much we humans cannot understand.

Your short life is one big our little minds.

One big question mark.

One big question.

A question that cannot be answered.


Why so much pain?

Why were you put into this world for such a short amount of time...only to return to shamayim without doing, without accomplishing?

There is no one to sit shiva for you. No one to mourn your loss.

So instead, all of us are mourning.

All of us are crying.

All of us are in pain.

But you, you have accomplished whatever you were put here to do. You didn't need as much time as the rest of us. You had to take a measured amount of breaths in this world...and then you were ready to ascend to the next world.

You are so pure, shining little soul.

You are so completely clean, precious neshama.

You are so holy.

You were encased in holiness in those few months that your mother carried you, spending all your time learning with a malach...all you would have to know.

What did you learn in there, little neshama?

What did the malach teach you?

What did you need to learn if you were going to be taken so soon after your body entered this world?

So many questions.

I certainly don't have answers.

Little neshama, now you are in a lofty place. You are together with your parents, together with your mother, together with your father...and together with our tatte in himmel, the only Father each of us can call our own.

You are so close to kedusha. You are in a place of clarity.

You understand everything we wish we can understand.

Precious, shining neshama, can you please have a little conversation with your Father, with my Father, with Our Father?

Can you please ask Him to put an end to our pain? An end to our suffering?

Can you please ask Him to replace our tears of sorrow, of anguish and of despair...with tears of joy, of happiness and of hope?

We've been hoping for so long. We've been waiting for too long.

Don't you think it's time?

Precious neshama, I know you can hear me. Please...I wish I can hear your answer.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dear Precious Newborn

Dear Precious Newborn,

I heard what happened and my heart is breaking for you.

You came into this world without parents-they were killed while you survived. The day of your birth, your birthday, will always be the yartzheit of your parents, of the parents you will never be lucky enough to know.

You will never feel the warmth of a mothers kiss on your cheek. You will never be able to run into your mother's loving arms when you fall and hurt yourself.

You will never be able to be comforted with the simple, innocent cry of "Mommy"...because there will be no one to answer that call.

And you will never have a father to do homework with you, to share special moments with, to sing songs to you or to tell you funny stories.

I don't know your parents. I never did.

And...neither will you.

I heard their story, I heard your story, and connected to your pain.

You will be raised by others. Others who will love you and take care of you...and treasure you.

If there is one thing I can tell you, precious little newborn, one message that I can give over to you, it would be this.

So many of our great people grew up without parents and they became great despite...or because of, their circumstances. They struggled, they fought and they achieved.

Hashem is on your side. Hashem will be with you, little neshama. Hashem put you in this world at the precise moment that He desired...and He chose to take your parents away from you at the very same moment.

We don't understand why.

We can't understand why.

But we do know...that there is a reason.

There is a plan.

And you are a part in it.

Just like your birth was so clearly a miracle, Hashem's hand in your life, your parents death was also a manifestation of Hashem's hand in your life.

Hashem gives...

Hashem gave you life.

Hashem takes...

Hashem took your parents' life.

Yehi sheim Hashem mevorach.

May you be able to see Hashem's hand in your life...always.

May you be able to feel Hashem by your side when you call out "Tatty"...because He is your only Father. The only Father you have.