Monday, October 20, 2014

Now what?

It has truly been a whirl wind of holidays..flying back and forth NY-Home, Home- NY...


There is generally a feeling of exhaustion, and just plain heaviness at the end of the three day yom tov. The feeling of a shower after three days...is there anything sweeter?

For me, I was expecting all those feelings.
I was expecting feeling stuffed, of being tired despite all the sleeping,
I was expecting to feel a little despondent from not being with my family.

But come motzai Shabbat the one overwhelming emotion I had was elation. I was spiritually energized, I was.. MitChazek.. things were clear that were once murky I knew where I stood. I was ready to face the world again.

Its ironic, for on the surface I had the least "Spiritual" holiday. I never once went to shul. I wasn't with my family. I stayed by myself and ate each of the 7 meals by a different family. I spent a lot of time on the couch curled up with a book and food. Lots of food. I learned a little about the Parshah, I finished reading The Happiness Project, I started R' Moshe Feinstein's biography, reviewed my hilchot Shabbat notebook from seminary. I didn't do anything earth shattering. I did not sit  and meditate. My prayers were not more meaningful than usual. But I was strengthened.

The holiday season is over. There is nothing till Chanuka :( and somehow we have to forge on. Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan is this Thursday. We are moving back to reality. Being thrown back into "real life" for all intents and purposes, And its a struggle. It feels almost impossible to maintain the spiritual high of Tishrei just through this week let alone through the end of Kisleiv.

This week is the Shabbat Project. and if you don't know what I'm talking about, please please check it out. I think the secret to keeping a strong Jewish identity and perspective lies in Shabbat. I know that this tends to be my soapbox so I apologize in advance. Shabbat is what truly separates us from the world in both the literal and spiritual sense. It is the oasis in the middle of the toxic waste pit of 2014. The moment we light candles and the serenity of Shabbat falls upon us, we have 25 hours to do something magical, something so elevated, so spiritual that it can only happen once a week.

In those ethereal moments when the sun light fades and the world darkens, our homes brighten with the flames of the Shabbat candlesNeshama Yetairah.  We are granted respite from the hamster-wheel lives we live and can stop and take stock. Regroup. Re-Strengthen. Re-Energize.
. Our souls are lit anew with the addition of the

But this doesn't happen by osmosis. If we just sleep through the day, we miss it. We have to seek it. Ask G-d for it. We have to actively bask in the glow of G-d love and attention.

Shabbat is the secret to spiritual success.

Friday, October 3, 2014

This is it

I clearly have forgotten the importance of regular blogging.

Truth is that my computer has been..let just say..MIA...it has not been cooperating, thus making it difficult to blog, or do most anything related to the 21st century.

So quick recap, I am in my 4th semester of PA school 2.0, I am currently working also! AHHH! which makes my life a little bit crazy, because I wake up at 645 every morning and get home between 9:30 and 10:00 at night. Shabbat is my only day off because I go to school Sun-Thur and work Mon-Fri.

So, its Erev Yom Kippur, Erev Shabbat, the holiest day of the year. It all comes down to this. This is the moment when we are at our holiest and our cleanest. Wearing all white, completely separating from the physical. Not a word coming out of my mouth except prayer. The only one I will be speaking to is G-d for the duration of the next 25 hours.

it is a daunting task. I'm hungry just thinking about it. I'm exhausted remembering the hours and hours of standing. Freezing. ( don't forget a sweatshirt shul is always freezing on YK)

I don't think I have anything truly inspiring to say. Mostly because I am not all that inspired myself. This week was far too exhausting to do anything but survive it. I don't doubt that is part of the Yetzer Hara's plan, as it is all year long. He doesn't have to fight us, just keep us so busy, fatigue us to the extent that we just cant stand up anymore. If we cant summon the energy to move forward, gravity will naturally bring us down. He just has us running in circles, and then just sits back and watches. its just too easy.

So I'm packing it in last minute. watch that shiur, going through my phone seeing who I have to apologize to.

So my one piece of "advice" if you wanna call it that...take on a Taanit Dibbur. Refrain from speaking to anyone but G-d. I started doing this a few years ago and really it transforms your prayer! Transforms your day! Obviously, if one has children or a family this isn't really possible, But if you can,..it really is an incredible feeling.

and the last thing: I'd like to take this moment to ask mechila if anything i said or didn't say offended anyone or hurt you. It was never my intention and if i did so i am truly sorry.

Shana Tova Gmar Chativa V'Chatima Tova
May we all be truly inspired and focused and have an easy meaningful fast, filled with connection and true repentance.

AM

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

words of advice

My high school friend recently got engaged! Mazal Tov! and we all couldnt be happier!

Her parents posted this on our community yahoo group and I just had share it.

As we make preparations for our first child’s wedding, I am taking a moment to reflect, thank, and yes give some advice. Advice to parents who are trying to help their child find a soul mate and advice to others who are either professionally or otherwise trying to help singles lose their status. If you are not interested in any of the above, proceed now to the next posting.

The Talmud compares one finding their zivug to the splitting of the sea. We are told that when the Jewish People went into the sea they didn’t cross over the sea but actually made a semi-circle coming out on the same side as they entered. That being the case, those who were on the exterior side of the semi-circle had a much longer path to travel than those on the interior side. There were definitely days when I thought that our child would never find a match and days that we thought we were close only to be disappointed. I have a small inkling of what the Jews felt as they crossed the sea waiting to exit from their encounter.

THANK YOU – Firstly, thank You to the Almighty for enabling us to reach this moment and thanks to all who gave advice, made suggestions, and prayed. I hope that I am able to repay in kind all the chesed we have been the beneficiaries of.

In terms of advice – it may be worth what you are paying for it. Firstly, I would like to humbly suggest things that may upgrade the professionalism of the field of shadchanim. There are many wonderful shadchanim that exist and please continue serving in your holy and challenging task.

Please think carefully before making a suggestion: Just because he is a he and she is a she and they are both Jewish, doesn’t a shidduch make. If you are really interested in helping others, find out what they are really like and what they are truly looking for.

On the other hand, don’t hesitate to suggest someone because they don’t fit the exact image of what you think the other person is looking for. And please, please be honest about the other person (within the framework of shimras halashon). Do you want a person to be angry with you because you withheld some very pertinent information?

Never pressure a boy or girl or family. This is a decision that will impact the rest of their lives. Let all parties involved contemplate their choices carefully. Sometimes giving information or suggestions is helpful, but leave the pressure in your car tires.

I’m uncomfortable when shadchanim ask for a photo, but I do understand it. However, it is beyond me how a shadchan could ask for a girl’s size and one shadchan shockingly told a mother “call me back when she is two sizes smaller”.

If the other side isn’t interested, please just say so and don’t say “he’s busy right now”. (Three years later when he is still single one begins to wonder). I ask forgiveness from the person who said it to me and my sharp reaction.

The following incident happened to me a few years ago and I still retain some resentment at this shadchan. I had been calling this shadchan about once a month to check if she had any new suggestions. Each time she was polite but said that no new names had come her way. After about six months (without a single suggestion from her) she says to me….you really should think about not being so rigid in what you are looking for. I held my tongue but internally I thought, lady if you had made five suggestions and I had rejected several of them, then you have the right to make such a statement. Needless to say, I did not continue calling her after that.

And now a word for parents (I am by no means an expert in this area so these are just my three cents worth –inflation).

Pray, pray, and pray. We don’t know when, how, or whom it helps, but it does.

Network, network, network. The best suggestions came from people that knew us or knew our daughter. Shadchanim whom you’ve met once or twice (or just spoke to on the phone) can be a help but our experience is that networking is very beneficial.

Think out of the box. The only place to find a perfect pair is in the shoe store so be open to suggestions. Every suggestion that came our way we made at least one or two phone calls (and some many more). Even if on paper you can’t imagine your daughter marrying type x,y, or z – withhold judgment and really consider the suggestion. If you still are uncertain, ask an outside party (like your rav).

Though references on a shidduch resume are helpful, try to find at least one or two people not listed on the resume to talk with. Prepare a basic list of questions that you want to know and ask anything else that occurs to you while you are talking. Don’t be embarrassed to ask things like “did you ever see him angry?” or similar types of questions to really get a flavor for the person.

Finally, pay the shadchan and pay all the other wedding expenses (that’s the millionaire’s advice).

May we and all of klal Yisrael share many simchas.


Maran Harav Ovadia: the Revered Gaon and Posek who Restored the Crown of Sephardic Jewry

So ...its been a really long time..I had finals..and then "summer break" and now back to real life.

So somewhere in that interim ( read: a long time ago) Artscroll contacted me about writing a book review..I was so honored I said yes! right away! But then school got in the way...but here it is...My first official BOOK REVIEW!


My first thought when I received it..was man this book is thick..this is going to take forever! It is actually 561 pages. I figured I had a few Shabbatot worth of reading ahead of me. The exact opposite was true. I could not put it down... I was walking down the streets reading as I went. It was enthralling, exciting an inviting. 

I'm not one to read biographies of Gedolim. I always say that I should..and I always think that it is important to and one day I will have a huge library filled to the rim with every Artscroll book ever published..all the biographies included and I would be inspired. But realistically it never really happened. But this one was different. R' Ovadia Yosef. Being Sephardi, I felt like I owed it to myself to read this. Sephardic Jewry is changed forever and completely by the works and the life of Maran. 

We know that at his funeral " an estimated 850,000 people came running the gamut of Israeli society, came to pay their last respects." Never have we seen such a turn out. So many people from so many different walks of life come together, united by their love and grief over the loss of one man. 

The biography, written by Rabbi Yehuda Heimowitz is written is true Sephardic style, with the sephardic pronunciations and spellings. I was impressed by the breadth of information that was present. Every page told more and shed more light on the Gadol that is so missed in our day. 

One starts to get a feel right away, of what kind of person Maran was, even from a very young age. From the time he first published his own sefer at 18. To the way he persuaded his wife to marry him. His entire life was Torah, his entire being was Torah. He risked his own life on multiple occasions to uphold the sanctity and the emet of the Torah. 

After his, passing, Hespeidim (eulogies) were abound. In every corner of the globe people gathered to hear about his greatness. Many stories were told. The biography contains all those stories and more. The many pictures depict his real life, his real persona. The stories told by Maran's sons and neighbors..give us maybe a glimpse into the mind and the thoughts of Maran Harav Ovadia. 

I definitely recommend taking the time to open it and read it. Yes, it may seem daunting at first. Its a big book, but that comes out of necessity When one is a gadol,,it is only fitting that his biography reflect that. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

the ugly truth

What does one say? What is there to say? 

I feel compelled to write about it. It almost seems flippant if I don't. 
On the other hand, how does once reduce such a horrific event to words?

I was on the train yesterday, and all these people were going about their days..listening to music, playing candy crush, watching the latest episode of "Orange is the New Black" and I wanted to shout!

DON'T YOU KNOW WHAT JUST HAPPENED?! 
HOW CAN YOU JUST GO ABOUT YOUR DAY!!

but the truth is, I also had to just go about my day. I had to study I had to go to school. My life was basically the same as it usually is. Nothing really different. I couldn't afford the time to be down and depressed. 
As callous as it sounds..there really wasn't much for me to do at that point and I had to do what i had to do, much to my dismay. 

the other truth is that people are dying everyday. There are people of all walks of life dying from things as simple as the flu, to stage 4 brain cancer. Children dying of malnutrition and malaria. Babies dying of bacterial infections. People are trafficked, children are kidnapped, girls and boys are raped. There is spousal abuse, child abuse, elder abuse.. the list just goes on and on and on. 

The truth is that the world is a terrible place. I stopped reading the news. Its too much. I cant handle. There is so much evil in the world. So much death. So much sadness. How dare I get up in the morning and watch a dumb YouTube video when right here in my own city, children don't have food to eat? when a mother sits in the hospital praying that her child opens her eyes?! 

How do I dare have the gall, the audacity to complain about a difficult school schedule? How do i have the chutpzpa to complain about my precious few hours of sleep, when there are people who never sleep, people who are up all night holding the hands of their loved ones never knowing which moment will be their last?

these questions plague me. I don't know. But another truth...is that we cant possibly care. We cant live our lives in the shadows of death. It is all around us, all you have to do is watch the news. 
We are biologically tuned to care more for those that we are related to. 
so why did this affect me more than any other news or school stabbings or yet another story of teenage rape?

its simple, these boys are our boys, my brothers, as distant as they are from me geographically, we are all one family as cheezy as it sounds. It was my mothers birthday yesterday and i couldn't bear to tell her the news because i knew it would devastate her...and i thought she deserved one day all to herself. 

but as much as I am affected by the tragedy...i still have to live my life. I still have tests to take, classes to attend, notes to take, charts to make. I don't sit shiva, I am listening to music...I am not outwardly mourning..I cant. Maybe if i was a better person i would..but right now..the ugly truth is that i have too much to do to stop my life. 

The families of these boys are scions of strength and emunah. We always lament the fact that it takes disaster for the divided Jewish people to unite..but somehow it happens over and over and over again...we don't seem to learn our lesson and this history repeats itself. 

Hashem please have mercy on our people, we cant seem to learn our lesson, please don't try to keep teaching it. We can't afford any more grief and loss. 

May Hashem comfort the mourners of Tzion 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

ENOUGH!

its been a while..not sure if anyone reads anymore..but write i will if only for myself.

its gotten to the point where people just look and me and they pity me. I am almost 26, not married with no prospects in sight and I have been told that people think
im not serious,
my resume is all wrong,
i dress wrong,
i dont meet enough people,
hmm what other reasons can we come up with..
i dont meet enough shadchanim,
my hair is too short,
its too long,
im too frum ,
im not frum enough,
the boys are picky,
i'm picky
im too smart
i intimidate
im asking for too much
my biological clock is ticking
....
the list goes on and on and on bemoaning the many reasons of my single hood..yet the one factor that no one seems to look at is that this is the one thing in my life that i really have very little control over.

I have told people over and over and over again. I refuse to pretend to be someone I am  not. No one wins in that situation. No one comes out on top. Yes, i may be married for 5 minutes. But I know myself. I know that I am not the kinda person who will just sit there and take it from a relationship that is superficial and stifling.

Marriage for the sake of marriage just isn't the goal for  me. You don't need to remind me that you want grand-kids or that you want to tell people that you have news for once. This is MY life. I WANT kids, I want to be happy and there is only so much i can sacrifice for someone else.

Yes, it would be lovely for me to meet someone who just came in and swept me off my feet. Who was intelligent, Persian, funny, adventurous, learned, witty, "frum but with it", someone from out of town who understand why I cannot imagine ever raising my family in NYC...yes all those things would be lovely.

Of course we all have to settle, we have to compromise, and no one is perfect, you marry the person you deserve..all this is true and I am acutely aware, but please please stop trying to sell me off. Stop with the guilt trips. Stop making this MY FAULT! Because you know what..it is not.

Gd is in control, this is His world and I am just living in it. Just a puppet in His play. I am doing the best with the challenges that He has given me. My "rich white girl problems" are the ones that I am dealing with. Maybe I should be a better person and take on more..but I cant, please understand

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Freedom?

The semester is officially over for a paltry five days..so I finally have some time.

Pesach is supposed to be a holiday celebrating freedom. We are commanded to feel as if we ourselves have left Mitzrayim. It is not a holiday commemorating a day that happened all those years ago. It is one celebrating the freedom that I, AM, is experiencing today in 2014. We sing Hallel and praise Hashem for His greatness and kindness, thanking Him for saving us from an exile that would have surely decimated us had we stayed a minute longer.

But how many of us felt that freedom Seder night? Sitting around the table with the same people as last year, reading the same words, asking the same questions, most of us barely sitting up straight from exhaustion..please tell me..how many of us felt truly free? Spiritually free? Physically free?

We are privileged to live in a time where we are physically free. We live in a time that is so politically correct, anti-semitism is not an obvious obstacle. ( just to be clear, i am painfully aware that it still lives and breathes in the US just that it is more subtle than in generations past) As for spiritually free? I have never felt less free. I recently heard this quote "the older we get the further we get from who we think we are" and it reverberated so deeply within me and scared me witless.

I often think about who I am, and how I got here and how in heavens name is this my life? Is this the person that I imagined myself to be at 25? Is this the person that I want to be the mother of my children? and the answer is usually no. I have had to allow myself some vices, and just let things be right now. There are only so many things that a person can take at a time.

Doing PA school for the second time? pretty much takes up all my head space right now. Just dealing with the fact that it is happening is painful on so many levels. I have to remind myself almost daily that this was the right decision and that Gd wants me here and this is what I am supposed to be doing. I am so focused on the right now I can't expend any extra brain space on what it is that I am doing wrong and what i need to be fixing to be the person that I am supposed to be.

Its kinda like spiritual growth has taken a sabbatical. Just working on getting through the day today and I will take on tomorrow..well... tomorrow.

When the Jews left Egypt 4/5 got left behind. They didn't want to be free. It was easier to be a slave. At least then nothing changed. Inertia took over. Staying was easier than moving. And that is the definition of death, not moving standing still while the world moves on around you. I am living like a zombie and very much enslaved..but it just has to be OK for now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Just Lovely

it is absolutely beautiful! the sun has come out and so should those funky shades!

days like this, make you happy to be alive, make you want to feel the grass between your toes ( if you could actually find any grass in this city) makes you want to do everything outside. I actually don't mind studying if i can do it outside with the sun shining, loading up on the vitamin D!

Chodesh Tov! Thank you to the Creator of the World for this wonderful present. Pesach is definitely in the air! I plan on enjoying this gorgeous day! Maybe even go to juggling at Bryant park..who knows what the day holds :)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

....nothing too original

another week come and gone, time passing like the wind, so fast and as much as you would like to, you cant seem to grab a hold of it.

A few of my friends recently turned 26, and i am not far behind. Its an interesting position to be in. Being a quarter of a century old. I remember being 19-20 talking about those girls..those older singles..the 24-25 years old. Now that's me.

The statistics on the ever tragic shidduch crisis is that 10% of girls don't get married. Yet, somehow everyone thinks that it wont be her. G-d forbid they should even entertain the idea. But you know what, it is possible, and its not all that crazy that I or someone I know never gets married. We all know that woman in our own community, shes bright, beautiful, interesting and yet shes 45 and not married. Its too easy to say that she is being picky and that at this point its her own fault.

But you know what, I don't even know how the time passed, how is it that this is my third year living in NY? How is it that high school was 8! EIGHT years ago?! I remember when i turned 18 and a friend told me that I was halfway to 36, now I'm halfway to 50!

I'm not sure what the point of this ramble is, except for that remember to enjoy life, find small things that make you happy, and don't get bogged down with today because you know what, tomorrow will be here faster than you know.

I think that we get so focused on this one goal of being married, of being this person that our communities expect us to be, that we forget that you know what life is awesome. We have life! We can go out and do things that we enjoy. We can take this time to cultivate our own interests and deepen ourselves in a way that would never be possible other wise.

Buy flowers for Shabbat even if its just you. Walk instead of taking the bus and enjoy the rare days of sunshine that we get.

I'm so sick of every conversation I ever have with every tom dick and Harriet is about dating, and what am i looking for, and who should i meet and what I'm doing wrong. Or about how messed up dating is these days and how can we fix the crisis, how its a mans world , how we just cant win...I'm just done discussing it to dearth!

I want to live today! I want to just be and enjoy the blessings Gd has given me