B”H “And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth.” Psalm 119:43 , JPS 1917 Tanach An acknowledgment of my own lack of gratitude compels me to look at my feelings that are often negative to some degree, even when the positive in my life seems to abound. Perhaps, this is notable […]the Inner Journey — Clear Horizons
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Tu b’Shevat Guide
“It is a good custom for the faithful to eat many fruits on this day and to celebrate them with words of praise.” – from Pri Etz Hadar ch. 1, sefaria.org
Baruch atah H’Shem Elokeinu melech haOlam borei pri haEtz. Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, who creates the fruit of the tree.
Baruch atah H’Shem Elokeinu melech haOlam shehechiyanu, v’kiemanu, v’higianu lazman hazeh. Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, who has granted us life, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
The concept of enacting a tikkun (rectification) through the conscious eating of a variety of fruits on this day is exemplified within the teachings found in the Pri Etz Hadar – Tree of the Goodly Fruit – that serves as a type of manual for Tu b’Shevat. To eat with intention (kavannah), means to acknowledge the spiritual significance of the day, as well as the symbolism from different types of fruits. Especially important are the seven species from Israel mentioned in Torah:
“A land of wheat and barley, and [grape] vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey. – Deuteronomy 8:8, JPS 1917 Tanach
B”H February 9, 2020 “How long, O L-RD, wilt Thou forget me for ever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?” Psalm 13:2, JPS 1917 Tanach The concept of hester panim (G-d’s hiding his face) from man, speaks of the need to find Him within the circumstances of our lives, despite His apparent […]Inner Calling — Clear Horizons
B”H February 8, 2020 “O G-d, Thou art my G-d, earnestly will I seek Thee; my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee, in a dry and weary land, where no water is.” Psalm 63:2, JPS 1917 Tanach G-d is still my G-d, that is in season or out of season. In other […]Thirst Quenched — Clear Horizons
B”H Shiur for parashas Beshalach 5780 “The pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, departed not from before the people.” – Exodus 13:22, JPS 1917 Tanach Upon departing from their former lives as slaves in Egypt, B’nei Yisrael was provided with H’Shem’s presence in the form of “the pillar of […]parashas Beshalach: G-d’s Protection — Inspired Torah
B’nei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) were slaves in Egypt for 216 years; yet, they were not forgotten by G-d, who eventually heard their cries. Didn’t G-d hear their cries all of those years of bondage in Egypt? Of course, He did; however, all of the circumstances for their deliverance did not fall into place until that time.
Moreover, it is written, as revealed to Abraham when he enacted the covenant of the parts, that B’nei Yisrael would not be brought into Eretz Canaan, until the iniquity of the Amorite was full (see Genesis 15:16). In other words, G-d could not reasonably displace a people until the full measure of their immorality was brought to light by their sinful conduct. Only then could G-d permit the Israelites to enter the land, that was previously occupied by an iniquitous nation.
“Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thy heart, dost thou go in to possess their land; but for the wickedness of these nations the L-RD thy G-d doth drive them out from before thee, and that He may establish the word which the L-RD swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”
- Deuteronomy 9:5, JPS 1917 Tanach
Regarding the circumstances of our lives, when we pray for something that will make a major impact for us, we need to fully place out trust in G-d, knowing that through His wisdom, the timing and manner of actualization of our prayers is best placed in His hands, and not our own. Otherwise, we may even run the risk of thwarting His plans for us. This was the case of the Ephraimites, who attempted to leave Egypt thirty years prior to the Exodus. They were defeated in battle by the Philistines.
So, when we look to G-d to provide safe passage for us, as He did for the Israelites at the Sea of Reeds, into some place of renewal in our lives, let’s acknowledge that this is only possible through complete emunah (faith) in Him, despite whatever the circumstances are in our lives – His timing is perfect. He can even change a negative situation into a positive one, like He did when B’nei Yisrael appeared to be trapped at the Sea of Reeds, when Pharaoh’s army approached.
B”H “And the L-RD said unto Moses: Go in unto Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might show these My signs in the midst of them.’” – Exodus 10:1, JPS 1917 Tanach According to the Zohar, when Moses entered Pharaohs inner chamber, considered to be the […]parashas Bo 5780 — Inspired Torah
B”H January 27, 2020 Holocaust Remembrance Day What frame of reference, perspective, or starting point is there, if any, to even begin writing a brief set of thoughts of my own, concerning the Shoah (Heb., catastrophe)? Up until recently, there had not been a personal connection, except for the fact that I am Jewish. Yet, […]Remembrance — Clear Horizons
Aseret B’Teves – the tenth of Teves
a minor fast day on the Hebrew calendar
Yearning for a connection, beyond the panorama of my assimilated life, so unlike my ancestors from Europe, many who grew up in the shtetl. An insulated environment, sheltered from the influence of the surrounding peoples, who eventually turned, for the most part, against their fellow neighbors – the divide between Jew and gentile, during the antisemitic climate that reached its peak during WW2. The Shoah, also known as the Holocaust, was the tipping point between right and wrong, good and evil, friend and foe, exposing the hidden intentions of the hearts of millions.
My forebearers clung to G-d, Torah, and their sense of yiddishkeit (things Jewish). How can I walk in their shoes? Modern values clash with the sense of propriety that is still honored amongst Orthodox Jews around the world. The television, Internet, and Hollywood compete with the instititions, traditions, and way of life of a Jew. There is a tenuous line that is drawn in the sands of time across the generations. How shall I walk?
How I occupied my time in my younger years is no longer kosher (fit). Like clothes out grown, favorite pastimes are cast aside, in favor of time-honored traditions that are the building blocks of a life of sanctity. Yet, the call to a high set of morals is still met with wavering and hesitation on my part, even fifteen years after I began this journey. A journey back in time to the shtetls of my great grand parents, and great great grand parents. That is where I find solace.
It seems as if I am being put to the test; not only me, of course, I wouldn’t be so prideful to assume so. However, I am feeling a part of this collective nisyanos (challenge) for K’lal Yisrael, “All of Israel.” As for the scourge of antisemitism, the most proficient response, in addition to practical measures, is prayer. Prayer is universal, immediately accessible, and potentially more effective than any other measure taken. As the teaching goes, the more trust placed in G-d, the greater our security will be.
As the eighth day draws to a close, I commit to preserving the light of Chanukah through prayer, study and gemilut chasadim (acts of lovingkindness). How appropos, as the new year begins on the Gregorian calendar to make such a resolution. May others be inspired. And, “Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear” (John Lennon, War Is Over). For fear resides in the heart of man, unless squelched by faith, love, and hope, despite whatever the circumstances may be in a person’s life or the condition of his environment. Transcend the darkness with light, until the perfect dawn.