Thursday, July 27, 2006

Can I tell you a secret?

Can I tell you a secret? I'm in the mood to divulge a few.

Number 1: I posted my poem "How Hard the Mighty Fall" NOT because I needed confirmation that I do have a budding career as a poetess (which I know I do not), but because I like it so much, that I wanted to put it somewhere where I'll never lose it. And I am NOT offended that only two, sweet, dear people cared to comment on my second-year-of-seminary poem...But I am a tiny bit surprised. I've been spoiled by all the double-digit commentary lately.

Number 2: I am not in my second year of seminary. I think you knew that. But I thought I should remind you, in case you were confused by a statement in the above paragraph.

Number 3: As you can tell from Number 1, I have a slight tendency of losing things. A tendency I happen to be ASHAMED of and DESPISE, but a tendency nonetheless. Recently, I bought a pair of cheapish-but-very-cool earrings, lost one, found it, lost both, found them, didn't put them back where they belong, and I lost one of them, again. Haven't found it yet, but I also haven't said the thing and gave tzedakah for it, either. For some reason, I feel as though due to my tendency, I should only use the "R' Meir/tzedakah" thing when I REALLY need it.

Number 4: Pause. I'm about to put two waffles in the (toaster) oven. Hold on.............Okay, I put them in. When they're ready, I'll eat them with my new "no-calorie pancake syrup". Yummy lunch.

Number 5: I try not to think what are actually the ingredients of my "no-calorie pancake syrup".

Number 6: I don't have a working oven-oven, only a toaster-oven. And no microwave. But I do have a (single) burner!

Number 7: Due to Number 6, until last week, I ate almost every meal out of a take-out box from a local kosher establishment. They got to know me a little too well, so I went grocery shopping and started cooking. Hence the (Eggo) waffles.

Number 8: I'm sure you can't tell, but I am SOOOOOO stressed out right now. Between family stuff (nothing major, just a little, but heyyy), school stuff (I sorta didn't yet graduate college, but I'm starting law school in less than a month), work stuff (nothing big, just lots and lots of little things), life stuff (aka miscellaneous, like how I'm planning on finding a new roommate and a new apartment and a new location in the next three weeks, and how I need a fax machine but I have none, and I need a car, but don't have one), and everything else written n lime-green post-it-notes all over my kitchen, I'm going nuts! I'm going nuts in my kitchen, my dirty kitchen, in my dirty apartment. Grrrrrr. (Ok, it's not actually dirty, but I should clean it more often than I do.)

Number 9: My nerves are getting so fried that last night when I was watching the last episode of season four of "ALIAS", the sudden-out-of-nowhere car crash made my jump-out-of-my-skin....and three seconds ago, a loud noise from outside came through the open window and made me jump-out-of-my-skin-for-the-second-time-in-twenty-four-hours.

Number 10: To resolve all of the above, I nothing, procrastinate, and maybe hit Central Park tomorrow.

Number 11: The waffles are done. Bye, now!!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

How Hard the Mighty Fall

I'm not quite sure how to proceed from my last post. The conflict in the middle east rages on, and my life has taken no unexpected turn for the worse or for the better. I have no "breaking news" to rival my short foray into the political arena, and although I still have much to say about everything, I can't seem to focus on anything.

So allow me to take you into the past -the not-so-distant past. When I was in Israel, and inspiration -like milk and honey -flowed freely. I kept a journal every night, chronicling my spiritual journey, making a cheshbon hanefesh. But I often meandered away from that theme, and just let my pen write what it will. Sometimes poems came out, and sometimes, they were actually good. The following poem was written by me (for a change!), and I'm still deciding if it's good, bad, corny or somewhere in between. Maybe you can help me out.

Bear with me -it isn't the shortest poem on the block. Not that it's on a block, of course, it's on my computer and now yours, but you know what I mean.

How hard the mighty fall
The fool builds a tower high
And climbs it to survey his work
But on no foundation, it cannot stand
The fool cannot fly and he falls to land

How hard the mighty fall
The fool, the king, the palace tall
Without wings, the fool does not fly
With no foundation, he cannot build high
The fool believes the sky is his
He sets his eyes to the heavens above
The fool, the king, over all, he dreams
But then that king does fall

On the ground again, his life is saved
And once standing, again he dreams
And again prepares to duel with the sky
He does not learn a fool cannot fly

After many flights never flown
The fool finally sees how the wind has blown
A fool such as he must have wings to fly
And those wings can be grown only with his mind
So this fool, this king over nothing but his own feet
Left for the city where great wisdom he would meet
His travels took him near, far, low, and high
And his name was unknown! he said with a sigh
But once I gather knowledge great
I'll have the power to change all their fates
With knowledge, understanding, and with wisdom too
I'll dominate over all the nations very soon
He grew so excited contemplating all he would learn
That he forgot a fool can never the truth discern

Once the king reached the city of wisdom great
Time passed as it does, at a pretty quick rate
Eventually, the king had knowledge so vast
That he decided to return to his kingdom, fast
To impress, to amaze, to enlighten and inspire
And news of his wisdom spread like fire

The king gathered his people into his banquet hall
Proclaiming out loud, daring everyone and all
To ask a question on any sort of matter
(If he couldn't answer, his reputation would be in tatters)
One after another, the people asked questions galore
One after another, the king answered easily all and more
Finally, silence reigned -their king was a sage!
The king was satisfied -he was now all the rage!

But amidst the silence, one woman stood crying
For this all was a mockery; she felt her king was lying
To uphold the truth, she felt she must speak
Even if that meant dying

"I have a question, Your Majesty," the woman cried out
"Please, from your heart, what is life about?"
Those words- from your heart -froze the fool, the king
He could not utter a word, not one thing
For he never expected to be tried on such a small part
For you see, dear friend, this fool had no heart

And so he knew nothing at all about life
But from this moment of truth, though full of strife
The king, the fool, understood finally, at last
He must start over and learn more fast
If he wishes to fly, to reach heavens high
To be wise and loved, he cannot live a lie
Not knowledge he now must seek high and low
But instead he must find for himself a heart, a soul

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Rockets and Thunder

So far, I have never "gone political" in a post. I have commented on other bloggers' potentially controversial topics, but have refrained from posting something that might create unrest or virulent disagreement. Note, please, how this post should not provoke either of those. But over the weekend, certain readers of this blog of mine advised me to mend the lack of political commentary in order to "spice things up a bit".

Well, they weren't being completely serious -this is, after all, a blog about a girl who went to seminary in Israel for two years, became a Judaic studies teacher, and is on her way to law school, and loves Slurpees. Not exactly evening-news-worthy. Thank G-d.

But regardless of my political aspirations blog-wise or in general (I used to want to be the first female, Jewish President. Used to.), I feel as though I cannot just write another post about my own idiosyncrasies, but instead something referring to the current world political situation.

No one can be unaware of what is going on between Israel and Lebanon, between Israel and the Hezbollah, between Israel and Gaza, between Israel and Hamas.

And on what day did the situation so dramatically escalate? Almost laughingly coincidentally, on Shiv'ah Assar B' Tamuz -the day of fasting for the Jews, a day marked by the breaking of the Luchos, the discontinuation of the Korban Tamid, the breaching of the walls of Yerushalyim, the burning of the Torah by Apustamus, and the placing of an idol into the Bais Hamikdash -a day of mourning for Klal yisroel, the day marking the beginning of the three weeks of mourning leading up to the saddest day on the Jewish calendar- Tish'ah B'Av.

I am so scared.

I was supposed to be in Israel now, you know. But members of my family said no, so I didn't go, but my heart is there, and my heart is breaking. People are fleeing the north of Israel, the mountains of the Galil, the shores of the Kineret. People are asking the dreaded question, "What will be?" And no one knows the answer.

They say to take shelter if you are anywhere from Tel Aviv up to the border.
And they say it is not just the guerrillas of Lebanon and Gaza, but also Iran, Syria...
And they say Israel's retaliation is disproportional to the provocation.
And they say Israel has the right to defend herself.
And they say we should turn to Hashem, utter the priceless words of Tehillim, beseech His mercy...

Tzfat, Meron, Chaifa, T'veriya...hit, rockets and thunder...

So many voices saying so much...after a while it all blends together...after a while we hear nothing...but, please, for all our sakes, hear the voices that say we should turn to Hashem. Are you nervous? Use that worry. Are you afraid? Use that fear. Are you angry? Use that ferocity. Are you crying? Use those tears. And throw that worry, that fear, that ferocity and those tears at Hashem. Beg Him to help us now. Our upcoming Tisha B'Av does not have to be another day of weeping - it can become the most joyful day we have ever known.

"Then they will say among the nations, Hashem has done great things for them; Hashem has done great things for us; we will be joyful..."
(May it come soon)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Remedy for Stress? Ohhhh, yeahhh!

I was going to write this post in just a sentence, nothing more. Merely a question -Does anyone have a remedy for stress?

But then today I decided -in my buckets of spare time -to visit Central Park. I brought a towel, a large ice coffee, two books, a notebook, and an inky pen. Blissssss. The sun was shining, children were laughing and playing ball, a small castle in the distance perched as if for my own benefit, a pond of turtles swam before me, and I began a new novel. This one I hope to finish. (I know I say that about all the books I began writing but never finished, but this one will be different. Really. Really.)

It was so tranquil and happy and bright and peaceful and great. Then I left, went home, and I remembered all that I had been so stressful about. I even cried a little. I do get rather emotional sometimes...Well, I am female, in case you haven't noticed! But then I caught myself. I realized I was getting inordinately worked up over something that with just a bit of bitachon, I wouldn't worry about at all. So I took a small breath and thought, Okay, then -it's up to Hashem. I felt a bit better.

Later that night -oh, I mean tonight:) -in just a few minutes I was told of something that greatly eased my worries. And even if that doesn't work out, it is such a splendid relief to know that things can turn around, so quickly, so easily, so hashgachically. It's really quite amazing.

So, to conclude (I can't go on and on, it's nearly 1:30 in the morning and I gotta get some sleep! It's been a long day), I found one can purchase stress relief with relaxation, sunshine, and creative outlet. But one can eliminate stress with bitachon. One can treat the symptoms -which is good to know -and one can cure the disease.

At least until tomorrow, anyway. :-)

Good night, everyone, and happy trusting!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Journeys and My Journey

At the risk of being repetitive, even, G-d forbid, boring and predictable, I will again transcribe a song.

Because my life plays out to the soundtrack I hear and the music I feel. And the song I'm listening to right now is the type that never fails to pierce my heart, make me cry, and wish I could be better than I am.

I'm not going through the best time spiritually. I need more strength. So forgive this guilty pleasure, this beautiful, heart-wrenching song by Journeys, entitled "The Place Where I Belong". (which, when compared to some other songs I love, isn't guilty at all...)

"I was made way back in 1842
By a humble man, a real G-d fearing Jew
Who did his work with honesty, feeling, and with pride
He was known in Kiev as Yankele the scribe
With loving care, his hands so sure and still
He formed me with some parchment, ink, and quill
Each day he'd slowly add to me just a few more lines
With words to last until the end of time

And on the day that I was finally complete
The whole town came and filled the narrow street
And they sang and danced and held me high and carried me away
To the little, wooden shul where I would stay
And then the Rabbi held me close against his chest
He spoke out loud and clear to all the rest
He said, 'No matter if you're very young, or even if you're old
Live by the words you'll find inside this scroll'

Three days a week, they read from me out-loud
It filled my soul with joy -it made me proud
They followed each and every verse with fire in their eyes
The words that told them how to live their lives
I watched the generations come and go
I saw the old men die, the children grow
But never in a century, did I miss my turn once
For the fathers -they had left me with their sons

But the hatred from the west came to Kiev
And they rounded up the Jews who had not fled
But Moishele the shammos, he was brave, and he was bold
He hid me in his cellar dark and cold
And for years and years, I waited all alone
For the people of my town to take me home
And they'd sing and dance and hold me high when they carried me away
To the little wooden shul where I would stay

But it was someone else who found my hiding place
And to America, he sent me in a crate
And the men who took me off the boat, they said I was a prize
But they were Jews I did not recognize
And in a case of glass they put me on display
Where visitors would look at me and say
'How very nice how beautiful, a stunning work of art'
But they knew not what was inside my heart
And across the room, I saw upon the shelf
Some old friends of mine who lived back in Kiev
A silver pair of candlesticks, a menorah made of brass
We'd all become mere echoes of the past

So if you hear my voice, why don't you come along
And take me to the place where I belong
And maybe even sing and dance when you carry me away
To some little wooden shul where I could stay
And as the Rabbi holds me close against his chest
He'll speak out loud and clear to all the rest
He'll say 'No matter if you're very young, or even if you're old
Live by the words you'll find inside this scroll'

Live by the words you'll find inside my soul

Yeah. That's it. I remember going to the Israel Museum in (duh) Israel while I was in seminary (my first year, when all was new and shiny), and I saw Torahs, menorahs, siddurim, and more on display. Beneath glass. Under signs that read, "Do Not Touch". People were taking pictures. It was a tourist's dream. And I was so incredibly disturbed by it all -by Judaism on display, like a newly excavated Egyptian urn from a million years ago, like something lost, forgotten, remembered only in history books and museums. I felt so upset, I think I almost became nauseous -I know I almost began to cry.

Why? Well, because of that -because Judaism isn't lost and forgotten, it is real, and a part of who I am and how I live. But most Jews cannot really say that, can they? The majority of Jews cannot read the words of the Torah scroll, cannot understand the miracle of the menorah, cannot know the words of Shema by heart. For so many, it is merely history. "But they were Jews I did not recognize."

And then there's the "Live by the words you'll find inside this scroll". I don't think I am. Not really. Oh, G-d, it really hurts to say that. It's embarrassing, and painful, and makes me wonder when this happened. Not yesterday, or a month ago, or even a year ago, so when? When did my life turn from a Torah life to a life of Torah on the side?? When I came back from Israel? That answer's too simplistic, and would mean my achievements weren't true, but I KNOW they were. I could isolate what I wish would improve, and it doesn't sound like a lot, but those small things linked me to the Torah way of life and are now a breach between me and my ideal. So how to bridge the gap?

Please help me, and answer...How to bridge the gap?