Friday, July 29, 2022

"Kinda Awesome"

So... this summer I've begun embracing my inner crafter, which dovetails nicely with Mommy Camp. I picked up a small side table off of Facebook Marketplace (a rabbit hole of possibilities) and have been working on repainting it and jazzing it up a bit. (You can see the beginnings of this project in the photograph above.) I was painting it on my front stoop while watching my kids ride their bikes up and down the sidewalk. Yaakov took a break for a moment and on his way into the house complimented my work as "kinda awesome". Those two unsolicited words - that compliment went straight from his mouth to my heart. I still hear those words now as I type them.

Tonight is Rosh Chodesh Av, beginning the 9 days leading us to our national day of mourning, Tisha b'Av- we are mourning for our Holy Temples, mourning for all the horrible events of our history and most of all mourning our lack of connection with G-d. 

Sometimes it's hard to mourn something we do not understand - like the destruction of the Holy Temples and what they meant in Jewish life... but we can understand how it's possible to see why they were destroyed. Our Rabbis teach us that they were destroyed because of 'sinat chinam' - baseless hatred. What a strange concept in some ways - how could one person hate another person without reason? I would point to social media to help us understand... tolerance for someone else's ideas is at a minimum... commenting using words that would never be used in real life to someone's actual face happens all the time... hurling and accusing others of horrible things are common place. 'Sinat chinam' is a "normal" occurrence on social media.

The Holy Temple - the singular focus of all Jews could no longer stand as a symbol of unity when 'sinat chinam' (baseless hatred) ran rampant - so G-d destroyed it. 

We learn that every generation that is unable to rebuilt the Temple is just like the generation that destroyed it. In other words, the terrible situation of 'sinat chinam', of baseless hatred, still exists. We have to take this sinat chinam and flip it on it's head and create a situation of 'ahavat chinam' - baseless love. We have to love each other without wondering what is in it for us. What will we gain by showing love for another person? That is the wrong attitude - we love because the person in front of us is a Creation by our Creator. G-d loves them just as much as G-d loves us. "Love your neighbor as yourself". We don't love ourselves for particular reasons... just as much as we don't shouldn't need a reason to love our neighbor.

So what's the first step? I would say the first step to creating 'ahavat chinam' - baseless love, is to give compliments freely. When my son Yaakov said two words "kinda awesome" about my creative endeavor, he created a connection with me that wasn't there before. He gave me a good feeling. Love is created by giving to another person, not by taking.

Here we are at the beginning of the 9 days leading to Tisha b'Av - let's spend our time during these days handing out compliments to family, friends and strangers for no reason other that to make that other person feel good. G-d willing, perhaps Tisha b'Av this year will be a joyous holiday instead of a day of mourning. Please G-d.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

It's Thursday! Almost Shabbat!

Okay, it's officially Thursday, but really it's 12:13am on Wednesday night.

You turn around and it's the end of the week. Crazy! What that also means is that Shabbat is coming. It's the only day we have to breathe a bit and to just 'be'. This is the day that HaShem wants us to 'just enjoy the day.' We do not work, we do not create - we just enjoy the results of what we have put our energy into the whole week. 

This doesn't just happen. We have to prep for our day to just 'be'. We buy or cook special foods in advance that we can actually take the time to appreciate eating on our special day of Shabbat. 

There's the lighting of the Shabbat candles - making time Holy. There's Kiddush and Challah - making our eating of the meals Holy. It's the singing and the giving thanks to the One and Only Creator. It's a special time.

At our house we have a Shabbos Party. In some houses it's called the 3rd meal of Shabbat. We make sure to have the kid's favorite foods and drinks. In advance, a couple of the children prepare a dvar Torah (words of Torah - might just be three sentences) that they give over at the Shabbos Party. It's pretty exciting for them to be the focus of attention.

[The book that they prepare their dvar Torahs from is published by Tzivos HaShem, called Living Jewish: A Handbook for Life, and I have a photo of it above. The book is so well done that I love looking through it myself and recommend it to everyone - children and adults!]

Here's a great article about Shabbat and how important it is in a Jewish person's life.

Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Time Flies, Life Changes -Random Thoughts

It's more than three months since I last wrote, and life has changed. Wow. Looking over my last post from the beginning of April, I could never have imagined.

Pesach was successful - aka we put away our Chametz, pulled out the Passover paraphernalia, and actually returned it all to it's hiding place when we were done with the holiday. 

My father passed away May 23rd. (Ran back for the funeral with my two youngest and had the most exhausting shiva ever - but ever grateful to friends and family who were able to stop by and those who contacted me in other ways.) There's never a good time to go - but I know that he had a good life, thank Gd.

The school year ended, phew. It was a doozy... but at least it wasn't on Zoom (aargh!)

And now we're doing "Mommy Camp", no joke, we have the t-shirts to prove it.

In other words, I'm cooked. I'm tired. But I'm not so cooked, and not so tired to appreciate what I have. I have been waiting for this summer for two years! Covid summers are borrrrrrring. So finally, we are here and we're going to take full advantage of it.

Life is crazy, and there are parts I *really* would NOT miss not being a part of ie. funerals and shivas. And honestly, I hate going to these things, I'm more of a wreck than the person at the funeral/shiva - so unfortunately, I'm not so great at going, so I have to shout out and thank those who came to be there with me and my family.

So while we can't do much about the parts of life we could do without, we need to focus on the parts that we can "control". We are running Mommy Camp - mornings are for running around, we return to the house around noon, for the 2 year old's nap time and serving lunch - and for the downtime where the kids enjoy their computer time for coding and games. Then in the afternoon we try to get some art project done - or our new hobby (hopefully)... woodworking!!! (I just got hammers, nails, saw and a drill!) Haha!!!

Life is quite the roller coaster - ups and downs and not much "control". But HaShem trusts us to learn and grow from each turn on that roller coaster... and we should learn to trust ourselves too.

Hope you are all enjoying your summer!