Seeking Restoration

“In that day, I will set up again the fallen booth [sukkah] of David: I will mend its breaches and set up its ruins anew. I will build it firm as in the days of old.” – Amos 9:11, JPSN

If our expectations for the future rest, primarily, upon our fears, anxieties, and concerns having to do with the present, then we may expect to transition to something different in our lives as individuals, and part of the greater whole, based upon our discontent of the current status quo. Yet, we should not permit our expectations to lead us astray, into thinking that some better “state of affairs” will come into fruition, as a result of efforts that have more to do with a vision of utopia, based upon a progressive understanding of social justice, in totale, rather than giving credence to the transcendent wisdom of G-d.

Moreover, there is a difference between social justice, bought with the price of losing our freedoms, while condemning those who are not in accord with the pseudo-morality that it proffers, versus a sense of justice that is balanced by chesed (mercy), bringing about a harmonious world view that treats all according to the same standard. G-d’s worldview and divine plan for humankind differs greatly in kind and means to bring his Kingdom into the world, as opposed to mankind’s vision of New Babylon that is already becoming a dystopian reality.

Therefore, let us strive to be in accordance with G-d’s promises for His people, by looking forward to the rebuilding of the Beish HaMikdash in the near future; so that we may not falter while the world around us descends into darkness, let us fully place our trust in G-d, and our expectations in his divine plan.

Prayer Request:

Yehudsi bas Tzviya (Judith, daughter of Sylvia)

Please, if you feel inspired to do so, pray for my mother, Yehudis bas Tzviya (Judith, daughter of Sylvia). She is 82 years old, and has a heart condition. She is being evaluated at a medical center, and may need to be hospitalized. She had been diagnosed with stage 2 heart failure; at current, further testing is being done.

May G-d bless you for your kindness.

Rosh HaShannah 5783

Rosh HaShannah is a time of renewal. Through teshuvah (repentance) we prepare ourselves to face H’Shem: Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father, Our King) on the Day of Judgment for the New Year. Through proper reflection, and rooting out our sins well in advance of that day, we hope to begin the new year with the resolve to start anew.

Rosh HaShannah is considered to be a day of judgment for the new year. We would like to be judged favorably, so we make an accounting of the soul (heshbnon hanefesh), in order that our conscience will permit ourselves to stand before the King. According to the Zohar, “’You stand this day all of you before the L-RD your G-d’” (Deuteronomy 30:9) refers to Rosh HaShannah, when we stand before H’Shem in judgment for the New Year.

When we examine our conscience, we may be brought to a place of moral compunction as a result of guilt and remorse. During the Ten Days of Repentance, otherwise known as the Days of Awe, we continue to search our souls for the flaws that need to be brought into the light . During that time, any judgments against us for the year may be diminished through our efforts at “teshuvah (repentance), tefillah (prayer), and tsedokah (charity),” that “avert the severity of the decree,” for the decrees are not sealed until Yom Kippur.

Shavuot Renewal 5782

“And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”

– Ezekiel 36:25, JPS 1917 Tanach

The B’nei Yisrael (Children of Israel) had sunk to the 49th level of impurity in Egypt. Had we descended to the 50th level of impurity, according to chazal, we would have been indistinguishable from the Egyptians. From this perspective, we were not brought out of Egypt, based upon our own merit. This is akin to what is mentioned later in Torah, “Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thy heart” (Deuteronomy 9:5).

Thus, we were taken out of Egypt by way of what is called itaruta dil’eyla, an “awakening from above,” wherein H’Shem brings about an effect from Shomayim. From out of the influence of an idolatrous society, B’nei Yisrael was freed from slavery, in order to serve H’Shem.

The 49 day counting of the Omer, between Pesach and Shavuos is a gradual ascent to the 49th level purity. A time to effect a gradual transition to a positive set of character traits, through an itaruta dil’tata, an awakening from below, i.e., from our own efforts. As B’nei Yisrael spent forty nine days on a journey from Egypt towards Mount Sinai, where the Torah was given, so opportunity given the opportunity to prepare ourselves to receive the Torah anew on Shavuot.

Omer: Day 17 Tiferes shebbe Tiferes – Back to the Garden

Tiferes shebbe Tiferes: Beauty within Beauty

The epitome of beauty that speaks of harmony and balance within all of creation was present in the beginning within Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden). That harmony was disrupted, when Adam and Chava (Eve) partook of forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Up until that moment, the progenitors of humankind lived in a nondual world of blissful connection to G-d. Their relationship to Him was whole, and immersed in complete Oneness. They were at one with each other, and all of creation as well. Subsequent to their disobedience, the world became an admixture of good and evil.

Throughout history, these two forces often appeared in sharp outlines, discernible even to the casual eye, as well as the more carefully honed conscience. Today, the blur between good and evil that seems to have proliferated in the twentieth century is increasing to the point of concern, whereas the boundaries are no longer clearly marked in society. The prophet’s words apply, “woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that change darkness into light, and light into darkness; that change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter” (Isaiah 5:20, JPS 1917 Tanach).

The words of singer songwriter, Joni Mitchell, during the tumultuous 60’s still ring true, “We’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden.” How so? Through bringing compassion towards a disharmonious world, beginning with ourselves. For G-d primarily expects His crowning achievement (humankind) to live lives that reflect His image. Mankind has fallen far since the days of yore; yet, recovery for the soul is still possible. With a sincere effort, a response will be elicited from Above.

note: These are my personal reflections on the implications of today’s combination of middot (character traits). These reflections are not meant to be comprehensive, inasmuch that they are not based upon any one particular system. Nor, may these ideas be characterized as authoritative, because I profess to being a student, not a teacher. I hope to inspire others to delve into an exploration of their own personality, for the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul).

Pesach 5782 – 7th Day

“And Moses said unto the people: Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the L-RD, which He will work for you to-day; for whereas ye have seen the Egyptians to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” – Exodus 14:13, JPS 1917 Tanach

As the Egyptian army approached, Torah records that B’nei Yisrael, encamped near the Sea of Reeds, cried out to H’Shem in great fear (14:10). Commentary notes that the people were divided in their response: 1). Some cried out to H’Shem in prayer, akin to the later writing of the psalmist, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will make mention of the name of the L-RD our G-d” (Psalm 20:8, JPS). 2). Another group of the people, having great trepidation about their circumstances, took the exact opposite approach, expressing their regret for having left Egypt, and complaining to Moshe (see Exodus 14:10-12).

When Moshe responded to the consternation of B’nei Yisrael, in light of their present circumstances, despite the seemingly near danger that was imminent, he said to them, “Fear ye not, stand still and see” (see above). Or HaChayim comments, that the words “stand still” convey the essence of prayer, a reliance on H’Shem, turning to Him in the midst of nisyanos (trials). He notes that the same Hebrew phrase is used in the Tanach, in regard to the prayer of Hannah, Samuel’s mother, who prayed in all sincerity to H’Shem. The picture derived from this understanding is one of a people’s reliance on H’Shem, in hope of seeing His salvation at a time of great need, when Pharaoh’s army was bearing down on them.

That night, an angel of H’Shem protected the people from the Egyptians, a cloud darkened the Egyptian camp, while a pillar of light shined upon the B’nei Yisrael. Moshe stretched his hand over the sea; and, H’Shem caused the sea to part by way of a strong east wind. The Children of Israel passed through the sea; however, when the Egyptians pursued them, Pharaoh and his army were drowned in the sea. Our own expectations of H’Shem for deliverance in our lives, regardless of our circumstances, when made through the prayer of sincerity, may bring results greater than our expectations. Especially, when there is no other recourse to be made, it is then that we may see the grandeur of His salvation. This is the type pf prayer that will be required, directly preceding the Final Redemption.

Dawn Arrives Serene

"Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast." 
- Isaiah 26:20, JPS 1917 Tanach

The final dawn arrives to bring

a hopeful message tinged with joy,

compels the soul to lift on high

the weary eyes above the sky.

Until that day, I’ll hide away,

and bide my time, making rhyme,

behind the screen of inner space,

where no one sees my hidden face.

I’ll greet the dawn with praise and song,

without the slightest sound of alarm,

resting in my safest haven,

and in anticipation sing.

The veil will part in sky and heart,

revealing all to glorify the One,

Who in Heaven’s Highest Abode,

sends blessings from His treasure trove.

Hope in the Skies

Look up,

for the hour draws near.

There is hope in the skies,

beyond what is imagined,

by the fear in our hearts.

There is a lasting generation

of humanity that will survive

the death and decay of the earth,

before the arrival of its revival.

The truth will transcend science,

and reason outlast the media’s

implicit portrayal of doomsday,

on the brink of tomorrow.

I shall not seek Hollywood’s

fantastic predictions on the screen;

nor, fear the earth-changes,

while my faith is intact.

I will do my part to hasten

the renewal of the earth;

and prevent the suffocation of sea turtles,

by not accepting plastic bags at the store.

My conscience clean, I will rest in quietude

every night in expectation of a dawn,

that will succeed man’s best efforts

to create harmony within the biosphere,

as G-d enacts a rescue plan.

Hope Surfaces

Hope, is the mainstay of my life

and the fruition of my thoughts.

Hope, will outweigh the strife

that weighs heavily upon my heart.

Hope, the champion of the future,

a prelude to ultimate victory.

Hope, is enough to suture

the wounds inflicted by misery.

Hope, will mend the broken fragments

of a life unduly shattered.

Hope, will diminish the lament

of those whose clothes are tattered.

Hope, designed to stich each patch

and sew together the unraveled strands.

Hope, will help to gather all who are lost,

like collecting so many grains of sand.

Hope, will meld with faith,

bridging the gap in between.

Hope obtained, will never fade,

always realizing the dream.

Let Faith Reign

And there’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend.

Slow Train, by Bob Dylan

When society is upended,

and people are tormented,

take heart in your faith,

don’t let your soul go to waste;

there will be a slow train

coming around the bend.

Let faith reign in your heart,

don’t pretend to play the part,

when the mind is sincere,

and the pathway is clear,

there will be a slow train

on the tracks ready to start.

Let’s dare not be hesitant,

when opportunity prevails, take that first step,

look, the passenger door is open,

these tired souls that appear to be broken,

will be renewed on the slow train,

moving along the tracks.