Monday, May 21, 2012

Everything old is new again.

Yom revi'i, 1 Sivan 5772, Rosh Chodesh.

There is an expression I like to quote from the 1998 edition of the Artscroll Chumash.  "To the degree that one trusts in God's help, one receives it."

Someone else -- I can't remember who it was -- said it very nicely.  When you notice Hashem's gifts and acknowledge them, it is as if He says, "You liked that?  Wait till you see this!  I've got a lot more to show you, since you're interested..."

Living in the Holy Land -- within the "local call zone" of all that kedusha (holiness) -- it feels as if there are even more opportunities to notice little gifts of hashgacha (G-d's involvement in each and every moment of our lives).

I was in Jerusalem the other day to do some banking.  (I never get tired of remembering that I do my mundane life tasks in the holiest city on the planet.  And in response to that little twinge I just caused in your neshama, Shprintz, I'm still davening for you to be doing the same.  Very soon.)

Behind the Central Bus Station is a short cut that takes me down some steps, into an alley, and onto Yafo Street.  In that alley is a little apartment behind a green gate.  I notice there has been some mini-landscaping done in the yard, and they've put up a couple of interesting signs.

I must admit to a failing caused by laziness.  In all my years of learning Torah, I have mostly studied in English.  So while I know that "lo tignov" is "don't steal" from the Ten Commandments, I wasn't too sure about the other one.  (Yes, I know you figured it out already; but wait for me.)

I asked a Sephardi gentleman who was passing by to decipher the sign for me.  (This is another miracle of the Holy Land.  Since we are family, it is not quite so extraordinary to stop apparent strangers on the street and ask them questions beyond the usual directions.  Asking them advice is not even that odd.  Receiving life-altering answers is common.  Even when you don't ask.)

He didn't feel qualified to answer.  This was because he didn't have English, and didn't realize how easy it would be to tell it to me in simple Hebrew (like he probably told his kids and grandkids many times.  Later, I felt sorry for him for his missed opportunity).

I had a great morning, getting tasks accomplished and visiting with favorite "regulars" along the way.  Then, with a few minutes to spare before my bus home arrived, I visited one of my favorite bookstores.  "Divrei Shir (Words of Song)" is a really lovely little bookstore, situated on the third floor of the bus station (conveniently near the bus platforms).  I was browsing for a book by Emunah Alon, who writes children's books in Hebrew that I can (mostly) understand.

Suddenly I noticed that Rav Shlomo Aviner has published a number of children's books!  (I should not have been surprised.  "Prolific" and "Aviner" are right near each other in the dictionary.)  One in particular caught my eye, perhaps because it wasn't the usual extremely slim picture book, and I wanted to challenge myself.  I picked it up and opened it at random.  To my delight, I could read the story, only needing to guess at the meaning of a few words.

And that went so well...  I shuffled through a few more pages...  Mah pitom!  I discovered a story that seemed very relevant to this very day.

In easy Hebrew (sorry about your missed opportunity, sweet old Sephardi guy), I learned the meaning of my word.
Just as I guessed.  "Do not covet."  A lesson to little Avri of the story about not wanting that which belongs to his friend.

I could have stumbled upon this book any number of times that I visited this store.

But Hashem often doesn't work that way.  He so very often speaks directly to us, if we will simply open the book.

I love being a Jew.  And I love living in Israel.

Don't forget Tefilat Sh'lah Hakadosh for your children today:  Chodesh tov!

Friday, May 4, 2012

You can't keep a good Jew down.

Yom shishi, 12 Iyar 5772.

Hey, holy Yidden!  Specifically, holy Israelis!  Wanna feel a little national pride?

Israeli para-athlete Moran Samuel won an international rowing competition in Gavirate, Italy. The organizers weren’t expecting her to win, so they hadn’t bothered to secure a recording of the Israeli national anthem, “Hatkivah.”
When Samuel found out there would be no anthem played when she was on the podium, she asked for the mic and started singing herself.  (Quoted directly from the blog 6 Degrees No Bacon Celebrity Roundup.

This is the indomitable spirit that makes me proud of my People.

And speaking of the resilience of the Jewish people...

With much gratitude to all of the people all over the world who have been praying for my dear friend Stella -- aka Tzuriya Kochevet bat Sara -- I would like to amplify the good news shared by her husband Yarden.  As Yarden says, "I know it's sefira [a period when many Jews do not listen to music, due to our collective pain at the loss of 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva to plague], but sometimes you just gotta sing."  Please share Yarden's joy over the latest news at his blog post Gotta Song in My Head.  It will lift your spirits.  Hodu Lashem, Ki Tov, Ki L'Olam Chasdo!  (Thank Hashem, for he is good.  His loving-kindness is forever!)

Please feel free to share any examples you have of uplifting stories in the lives of Jews you know, in the Comments section.  You will add to the happiness, and publicize the miracles.  Nice way to go into a Shabbat!