Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Home

He's coming home!
We can all feel the excitement
A corona patient
We've all been davening for
Will be sent out 
Of rehab
And allowed to go
Back home
To his family
Such great news!
Not a day went by
That he wasn't missed
In his home
Not a day went by
That his family didn't 
Pray
For his return home.
And I think about
Our home
And our time away
It's been so long
How many days go by
Before we think about it?
How many days
Have gone by
Without us thinking
About our home
And how much we miss
Our true home?
Hashem...?
Don't you see the difference?
It's been too long
We've been away 
For much too long
Not a few months
Like this patient
Not a few years
Like some prisoner
Away from home
Hashem...?
It's been thousands of years
Of course it's not the same!
Of course we can't long for home
In the same way
As someone who has
Experienced home
But sometimes
We get a little peek
A little taste 
A little inspiration
To make us long for
To make us yearn for
To give us this feeling
That there's something we're missing
That we're missing
YOU
And for just a fleeting moment
Our heart tears up
And our eyes get prickly
And we think about crying
And we just want
YOU
We want to come home
We yearn to come home
We want to be with you
Even though we don't know
What that even means
We can think back to times
When we felt you so strongly
And we want to feel that
Again.
Hashem...?
Can you make it happen?
You can.
The question is...
When?
When will you make it happen?
We are yearning
We are hoping
We are praying
We are wishing
To just come back
To come back home.
Bring us back.
Bring us home.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Privacy Policy

Just a thought...

I find it interesting that the entire world went crazy when they heard about the updated privacy policy released by Whatsapp. We were told that our information will be shared with other businesses so we can get targeted ads. People started flipping out and announcing that they would be leaving Whatsapp and switching to messaging apps that were far less safe. Interestingly, the information that would be shared is information that has been shared by Facebook and Google for a long time. Haven't we all had pop-ups and ads on our web pages that were so similar to our recent searches?

But that's not the reason for this post.

I had a different thought.

How many of us took a moment to think about that fact that every single thing we search for, every page we open, every website we visit and every message we send and view is seen by the One Above? 

Are we concerned about that?

Maybe, if we took an extra minute to think about the fact that there is absolutely no privacy when it comes to Hashem, we'd be a little more careful with the way we spent our time on our phones...and online.

We can't hide anything from Him.

He sees everything. 

I don't hear anyone getting nervous about that.

Maybe because we didn't take the time to let that sink in.

There is no hiding anything from Him.

May we be able to use the technology we were blessed with for the good and never feel the need to hide any part of it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Flame of Hope

There are many answers to the famous question of the Bais Yosef. If there was enough oil to last for one day, why do we celebrate Chanukah for eight days if the miracle was only for the seven extra days that the oil burned?

There is a powerful lesson to be learned from that first day. 

We are commemorating the fact that those Jews even bothered lighting the oil they had on that first day. They could have said, if we only have enough oil for one day and it'll take eight days to get new oil, we'll light it the day before we have new oil so we will have continuous light from the day we light it. But a Jew doesn't work that way. A Jew doesn't look at his resources and decide what the outcome will be based on the facts. He relies on Hashem for results. He does the best he can with whatever he has and leaves the rest in Hashem's hands.

This is what we are celebrating. And we remember this lesson each year when we celebrate Chanukah for eight days instead of seven. That first day is what we are celebrating. It's not extra. It's essential. It helps us internalize that no matter how dark things are or how challenging our lives are, we do whatever we can with the resources we have and have faith in Hashem that things will work out in the best possible way.

We all have goals, hopes and dreams. And sometimes we don't know how we'll ever be able to accomplish the things we want. What we want seems too difficult to achieve. 

But we have to try. We need to put our best foot forward and utilize whatever little abilities we have to start. And then we trust in Hashem to help us reach the finish line.

This is what those Jews did so many years ago. They didn't have enough oil to last for eight days, until they'd have more, pure oil. But it didn't matter. They lit what they had and Hashem allowed that light, and essentially the flame of hope and faith, to remain lit until they'd have more oil to keep the menorah's light glowing.

It's the first day of Chanukah that we are memorializing. That's the day that is most important to all the days that come afterwards. It's the day that infuses hope into the rest of this holiday and into the darkness of our lives. The first day teaches us to take that first step when we are scared, to try when we are unsure if we'll succeed. Because ultimately, it's our emunah when things are tough that will help us pull through and keep trying.

May we be able to take this lesson to heart, have hope when things are dark, and try even when we don't have enough resources to achieve the outcome we're hoping for. And may Hashem reward us for having faith in Him by exceeding our hopes and dreams!

Happy Chanukah! 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

After Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the one time a year when we really face our shortcomings head on and own them. Instead of walking through life carrying pieces of guilt from our mistakes and having them weigh us down, draining our energy and straining our relationships, we bring them to the surface, put them on the table, recognize them for what they are and say “I did this but that’s not who I am. This is not who I want to be.”

We make a separation between ourselves and the deeds we regret in the healthiest possible way. If we’ve hurt another person, we ask for forgiveness and try to make amends. We resolve not to do the same thing again. The same goes if we've hurt ourselves or our relationship with Hashem. And Hashem loves us and knows exactly where we’re coming from. He is waiting for us to reconnect with Him and accepts our heartfelt efforts with open arms.

Hopefully, we were all able to utilize Yom Kippur and heal ourselves and our relationships on the deepest level. As we ended the day with newfound humility and holiness, purified and cleansed, we can now start the new year afresh.

Now, it's up to us to go on to accomplish all the incredible things we are capable of. All we have to remember is, whatever we did in the past does not the define the person we are or the person we want to become. We want to be greater and we must strive to be better. 

May we be able to take the inspiration of Yom Kippur into the upcoming week and take small steps towards becoming the very best versions of ourselves!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

How Can it be?

The 15th yartzeit of my brother, Shalom ben Chaim Nosson, is tonight and tomorrow. It's hard to believe it's been so long, yet the emotions come back and we miss him so much. May all the actions we do for his neshama bring us comfort as his neshama continues to go higher and higher in gan eden.

Here's the poem I wrote this year.
un
How can it be?

It's been 15 years since that fateful day,
When you climbed that tall tree that took your life away,
Our family was so shocked when we were told,
Shalom, you were too young to die, you weren't yet 16 years old!

How can it be?

You lived your life according to the way you were raised,
At your levaya, for all your special qualities you were praised,
You looked out for others, helping before you were asked,
And now, up in heaven, in the pleasure of the שכינה your soul does bask.

How can it be?

We continue to talk about your unique qualities,
Sharing stories with our friends and family,
How your sense of humor and love of animals is what made you you,
And now your nephew, with your name is so similar too!

How can it be?

He loves to climb trees, wishes he could live on a farm,
Is so gentle with animals, won't cause them any harm,
Chess is a game he loves to play,
And now for a label machine, with his own money he wants to pay.

How can it be?

I miss you more than words can express,
I became stronger and more sensitive through this huge test,
I wish I could see you one more time,
Give you a hug and share thoughts that are mine.

How can it be?

So many milestones in my life that you haven't shared,
Moments of joy and times I was scared,
I often wonder what my life would be like if you were still here,
Shalom, how much I treasure you - in your lifetime were you aware?

How can it be?

Near my shabbos candles stands your picture in a frame,
Your face so calm, your demeanor so tame,
I think about you so much, I never dreamed,
That your loss would affect me so strongly.

How can it be?

As Jews we live with אמונה that's constantly put to the test,
That Hashem has a plan for our נשמה and He knows what's best,
He puts us through challenges that refine our soul,
So through our time on this earth, we become better, more whole.

That's how it can be.

We accept that this too, was for our good,
Even when we feel weak and question how this could
Be for our benefit, we still know deep inside,
That Hashem put us on this journey and He is our guide.

That's how it should be. 

To make a donation in memory of my brother, you can go to my personal fundraising page here and help us continue to run programs that bring non-affiliated college students closer to Torah and Mitzvos!

To read more about Shalom and his story, click on the following links: 



Monday, August 3, 2020

Parsha-Shema

This past week, we read Parshas Va'eschanan. The foundation of our belief in Hashem, the Shema, is written in the parsha. We cover our eyes when we say this phrase, reciting it in the morning and in the evening, and even before we go to sleep at night.

Why do we cover our eyes? We are expressing that we believe in the oneness of Hashem and that everything He does is for our best. Whether we are experiencing the highs of life, the clarity and openness of Hashem's involvement in our lives, or we are going through challenges and things are dark, we remain strong in our trust in Him. We believe that He orchestrates every single thing we go through - the happy times, the difficult ones, they all come from Him.

And we cover our eyes to express that even when we can't see how it's good, we believe there is an ultimate benefit to be gained from every single thing we go through. 

The morning represents the good times. 

The evening represents the tough times. 

And even before we retire for the night, every Jew proclaims this truth: As my day comes to an end and I reflect on my experiences, there are some things I'm grateful for and some things I'm confused about. I will never be able to understand everything going on in my life. But I believe that you Hashem, you know what I need in order to accomplish my mission. Please help me continue to believe in you, no matter what I go through. 

May we continue to strengthen our trust in Hashem at all times!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Why I Cry

I wrote this poem seven years ago. I still remember sitting on a bench on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, taking out my notebook and writing.
The message is still relevant now as it was when I wrote it. 
Read and be inspired!

Why I Cry
I look up at
The deep blue sky
And slowly
Teardrops
Form in my eyes
And I 
Begin to cry

Why?
Why do I cry?

I cry because
When I am in pain
When I am hurting
I know how to cry
It's almost...easy
The tears just come

When I am overwhelmed
By...my life
By...my struggles
By...my challenges
By...my difficulties
I know how to cry
Those tears
Spring forth from my eyes

So why?
Is it so hard to cry?
When the month of Av
Comes around
And I should be thinking
Feeling
Hashem's pain
Hashem's loss
Our pain
Our loss
A house that once was
A nation that once was
The glory that once was
A relationship that once was

Why?
Why can't I cry?
Why don't I feel the pain
Why is it
So hard to feel
To make it real
To me?

When I'm having it hard
When someone hurts me
Those tears flow
So freely

When I'm simply taken over
Overwhelmed
By so many little things
And sometimes
Sometimes bigger things

I can cry
Easily

But...Hashem's pain?!
The thought of the kosel
The thought of the shechina in galus
The thought of all that we are missing?
Why doesn't that make me cry?
As simply
As effortlessly
As easily
As my own pain?
As my own life?

Hashem...?
I lift my eyes
Up to Your skies
I think about
Things
Close to me
That hurt me
That touch me
That inspire me
To cry

And I realize...
They are all connected.

It may be easier
For me
To shed tears
Over personal losses
Over personal hurts
Over personal frustrations
Over...my personal life

And I see
I understand
That it all comes from
The same place

A place of emotion
A place of longing
Of yearning
And of hoping

So...although I may not
Be able to cry
Shed real tears
Over bigger losses
Bigger pain
Deeper losses
Deeper pain
I know...
That inside
My heart is crying

And Hashem
Who is bochain libos u'chelayos
Who knows
Who sees
And Who understands
The inner workings
The inner chambers
Of my heart

He knows
He sees
And He understands

The inner sigh
The inner cry

Even
Without
Real tears.

I lift up my eyes
Look up at the shimmering blue sky
Searching
Yearning
Hoping
And...yes.
Crying
Without real tears
But I cry inside 
And Hashem
Understands
Why
I cry.

May we reach the day of u'macha Hashem dim'ah mei'al kol panim. Amen.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Video-Dear God


Sometimes, we have so much in our hearts that we want to express to Hashem. But we don't know how to say it. We don't have the right words.

Hashem, who created us all and knows the deepest parts of us, understands it all.

This video illustrates this idea really beautifully.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Guest Room

My basement
With the guest room
Once a happening place
Busy hosting
Sleepover guests
Now replaced
With quiet
It's empty
Week after week
As we seek
To remain
Safe
Home
Alone
No guests
No more changing linen
On a weekly basis
No more inviting guests
Every shabbos
No more last minute requests
"Is your basement available?"
No more calls
To reserve the space
For families
Who need a place
To stay
When coming from far away
So they could partake
In a family simcha.
No more telling the kids
To choose a few games
Before shabbos day
So they could play
On shabbos morning
Upstairs
So the guests could stay
Sleeping
Downstairs.
The basement -
It's all theirs
Every day of the week
No more sharing their space
No more hosting with grace
No more giving a place
To people who need.
Our guests thanked us
They were so grateful
When they'd leave
But did I realize
Indeed
How much I gained
From hosting?
How much I enjoyed
Being
On the giving end?
Our home is still full
Full of noise
Full of laughter
Full of learning
Full of fun
Full of laundry
Full of messes
Full of kids.
But it's empty
Empty of guests
Empty of Hachnosas orchim
Empty of
The weekly giving.
Yes, I'm still giving
Endlessly
To my kids
To my family
But I want to give
To a bigger circle
Of people who need
Of people who enjoy
My home
My food
My desserts
My company.
I think about
Hashem's home
That was once full
Full of people
Full of kedusha
Full of purpose
Full of meaning
Full of life.
Now that home
Is empty.
Completely empty
Are we ready?
Ready to be the ones
To fill that home
With kedusha?
With purpose?
And with meaning?
Do we fill our homes
With kedusha?
With purpose?
With meaning?
Can we be the ones
To return to
Hashem's home?
So He can host us
And bestow upon us
All the goodness
All the blessings
That come along with
Basking in His presence?
My home is so full
Yet empty in some ways
My heart is full of yearning
Waiting for true change
When we will be united
Together all Jews
With clarity
And the redemption
Just to name a few.
Hashem,
Look at your nation
Look at the chessed
Look at the tefillos
Look at the teshuva
Of so many individuals
We are changing
We are growing
We are yearning
We are hoping
For change
The Ultimate change
The Ultimate geula
We want to be
In Your home.
Bring us home
Fill Your home
With our noise
With our laughter
With our joy
Of the geula
Of knowing
That all this
Was part of
Your plan for us.
Bring us back.
Bring us home.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Microscopic

The following poem was written by Sarala Pollack. I'm sure it will inspire you as much as it inspired me!

A tiny microscopic germ,
Inflicts so many,
Keep us in our house,
Does not allow us to interact,
Has changed our lives, while trying to keep intact,

Thought it's tiny,
Its potential is so great,
It created such a scare,
Do not go near me, don't dare!
So tiny, yet it has changed our lives
So small, yet it has dictated what we do,

We, precious human beings,
Children of Hashem,
We may think we're tiny, so small,
We may think we're just nothing at all,
I'm just but like the many starts in the sky, we think,
Who am I, amongst so many stars?
But that's precisely who are we are,
Our value, our worth,
So vast, unlimited,
So bright and shining,
So precious and unique in our own way,
So special, it would be a sin to forget it all,

So, as we're home,
Let's contemplate our unlimited worth,
Let's embrace ourselves,
Let's shine in ways that may seem "microscopic" but are truly not,
Let's shine, smile, laugh, sing, create and let ourselves break through