Tuesday, December 31, 2013


It's Friday night. It's time to put the kids to bed. We go through the regular routine of shema and songs and then I talk to my son for a little bit. He's my big boy and we can actually have conversations before he goes to sleep...sometimes :).

"Good night, SB. Hashem is always watching over you," I say.

"But not today," he responds.

"What?? Why do you say that?" I ask, taken aback.

"Because Hashem rests on shabbos."

I could pinch this little boy's cheeks. I love the way he thinks. And I love that he thinks. He uses his little head and there's so much going on in there. It's delicious. It's precious. And I'm happy when he can verbalize these things and we can work out his cute emunah questions, doubts and uncertainties...especially at such a young age.

So I explain to him that Hashem never rests. Hashem never goes to sleep. He created rest on Shabbos so that we can rest. 

We go through the seven days of creation and what happened on each day.

Hashem didn't rest on Shabbos. He doesn't need to rest. He wants us to rest so we can benefit from all the things Shabbos has to offer us, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

He seems to understand now. 

He seems to get it.

And I wonder...

Why is it that when a little kid asks a question, it's okay and we take it seriously? Why, when they get a little older and express something that sounds like they are...thinking...does it become a problem?

Why are girls labeled an apikores for asking questions their teacher cannot answer?

Will that encourage them to continue asking?

To continue searching?

Judaism does have the answers.

And it's okay to ask.

We should ask.

Asking shows we are thinking.

It shows that something is bothering us...bothering us enough to question.

We may not always get a satisfying answer right away. Some questions are pretty big. (Like the shortest but hardest question of "Why??")

But we should always ask.

It's good to think. (But not too much... :)) 

It's good to question.

And it's great when we can get good answers.

May you be able to have the right people to ask your questions to, get good answers and come out feeling enriched. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013


“I wanna go with you Tatty,” my little girl says.

“Sure, you can come along!”

“Where are you going?” she questions.

And I think. 

She doesn’t even know where her tatty is going yet she wants to go with him.

This must be what it means when Hashem praised the Jewish people with lechteich acharei bamidbar-that we followed Him in the desert, not knowing where we were going.

If you love someone, when they go somewhere, you want to go along with them.

When you feel safe and secure with someone, it doesn’t matter where they are going, you just want to be in their presence.

Just like my daughter.

Just like the Jewish people.

We trusted Hashem. We felt safe in His presence. He took care of us while we were in Mitzrayim, even though at times He put us through so much and we may have felt so distant and so hurt. 

We still called out to Him, even though He was the One causing us to have to work so hard.

We loved Him, even though it was He who made us go through the back-breaking labor.

We connected to Him. 

And we followed Him. Into the desert, the barren land…not because of where we were going, but because Who we were going with.

And by sticking through it all, the rough times in Mitzrayim, the pleasant and not-so-pleasant times in the Midbar, we became who we did. 

The Jewish People. 

The Chosen Nation.

The special people that we are.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Parshah Poem

I wrote this last year and wanted to share it with you once more.

Parshas Shemos
The Jews enslaved
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
They groaned
They sighed
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.

Much has changed
Since the time
We spent
In mitzrayim
We are not tortured
Put to work
Forced labor
But we go through
Of pain
It's the same
We're the same
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
He listens.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pink Dreidel

My daughter just celebrated her 3rd birthday. 

It's so cute how little kids think. When we made her birthday together with one of the many family Chanukah parties, she was a little confused. She woke up the following morning, and the next one too, with the same question. She wanted to know, "Is it still my birthday?"

She is a lucky girl. She's happy, she's healthy, she's adorable ke"h, she is smart...and she got a nice, big birthday present from her mommy and tatty.

But when we asked her what she wanted for her birthday present, her answer was simple. "I want a pink pwesent." That's all she needed. A pwesent that's pink. And when she got a pink dreidel from her Zaidy on Chanukah, she was so thrilled. She didn't need more than that.

My little girl is so not high maintenance. She is happy with a little pink dreidel.

And what about us? What does it take to make us happy? 

What are our dreams and wishes? 

If someone asked you, what can I buy you for your birthday? Or as a thank you gift? What would you want?

Are you happy with the things you already have?

Are you satisfied with the many gifts you have been given? 

We are so blessed. Our generation has been given so so much more than the previous generations. Our necessities were luxuries in the past. Heating in the winter, air conditioning in the summer, coats, spring jackets, rain jackets...and look at the standard teenager's wardrobe! One shabbos outfit? Who ever heard of that in today's times? 

We have shopping centers, huge supermarkets with everything you can ever imagine, every brand, color and variation of the same item (check out the different flavors of chocolate chips and you'll see what I mean :-)), avenues filled with stores of all types (think: 13th Avenue, 18th Avenue, Avenue J, Kings Highway...and that's just some of Brooklyn !)...there is so much that Hashem has given us.

We truly are lucky. 

It says in Pirkei Avos, "Aizehu ashir, hasame'ach bichelko." Who is rich? He who is happy with his portion.

Are you happy with the things you have? Or are you always looking for more? More clothing, more accessories, nicer, fancier, better, bigger, more exotic...and...why? Why do you want it?

My little girl is satisfied with a little pink dreidel.

My dear daughter, your birthday has passed. My bracha to you is that you should continue to have such simple expectations from your parents. You should always be happy with the little things you have. Your needs should always be met...and your wants should stay as plain and simple as the little pink dreidel that made you so happy on your 3rd birthday.

Happy (belated) Birthday, CG!