Soul Renewal: Changes Along the Journey of Life

“Some people will remain with us on our journey when we change; others will not.” – Tzvi Fievel Schnee

As I change, from time to time, over certain periods of my life, the adage that was made known to me, personally, by the founders of PD Seminars, at The Haven in British Columbia has become realized: I was told that some people would draw closer to me, and others would move further away from me. It is as if I can add this statement to my “facts of life” list, if indeed I had a facts of life list to begin with, written down somewhere in my personal journal. Yet, I never even though about beginning a list like that until now. The reason that I have even brought up this issue, is based upon my noticing that every once in a while, my Instagram account loses a follower: it is as if to say, that it is a fact of life for those who post on Instagram and other social media platforms; of course, this could apply to any other social media platform. Although I cannot be sure, I make the generalization with some certainty, despite any statistics; therefore, I hope that what I have mentioned in this specific post of mine, may be of some consolation to others.

poem: Seeking Solace

“As we step forward, they attempt to surround us; they intend to spread out across the country.” – Psalms 17:11, embellished

May the right arm of Your majesty, in all its effectiveness, assure victory for us over the challenges that we face each and every day of our lives. During this time of peril, whether starting our lives over elsewhere, or trying to remain hopeful in the midst of uncertainty, as we hunker down below the city streets, let us see the light of dawn breaking through our sorrows.

The prayers of the faithful will be sent to shomayim upon the wings of angels. We send even our most seemingly trivial concerns to Heaven; for, it is the small details of our lives, and the relatively inconsequential choices of our lives that appear to matter most at times. Once the important decisions have been made, the smaller ones appear in clear relief.

Like a picture-perfect day, not a cloud in the sky, may the realization of our dreams exceed our expectations. May our cities be rebuilt, and our lives resume, only stronger for having been through these traumatic experiences, and the overall devastation that has pummeled our cities. May we live to see the day when the seeds planted across the nation will bloom into tall sunflowers, always facing the light.

Note (FYI and Disclaimer): This a dramatic monologue. A dramatic monologue gives voice to those whom the poet chooses to give expression through the poem. Although I am a poet, and not a Ukrainian, I feel an affinity with the Ukrainian people, especially my Jewish brethren (i.e., brothers and sisters). Additionally, this is also a prose poem, and not a typical poem that has verses, stanzas or rhymes.

shabbos reflections: Tradition

As Shabbos approaches, I have already said, “amein” after my mother lit candles, on Zoom according to halachic time on the East Coast. After welcoming Shabbat, I recited kiddush, we partook of motzei and ate our meals quietly, as if two thousand miles were condensed into two feet across the table. Now, back in my own time zone, so to speak, I am making the most of three hours until Shabbos begins. This would not have been possible, without the many circumstances that led to this new tradition. The Coronavirus is not without its blessings; although, I would not intend to diminish the overall tragic consequences for many people that have occurred in its wake.

Yet, for myself, I carry on, introvert that I am. For, my self-imposed shelter in place policy 24-7 provided much time for reflection. And, a prolific abundance of writings that I have mostly posted on my blogs. Overall, there is no way to measure these times, except within the framework of the big picture. As incident rates of Covid-19 decrease, we will not necessarily be entering the “new normal,” unless our minds are complacent. Rather we are already entering what is more akin to a brave new world, promoted by the technocracy, i.e., the means to manage the infrastructure, ideology, and economic system of the future. This will not lead to an utopia, rather, a dystopia; therefore, I will continue to cling to G-d, Torah, and acts of kindness, instead of the “new normal.”

reflections: Home, Sweet Home


Home, Sweet Home

While spending a few hours writing at my desk, I noticed that the battery charge level on my electronic device was below 10 percent; so, I left my kasha on the kitchen countertop, that I had prepared, for a brief interval between writing endeavors, and went to my travel backpack, where I keep everything that is essential to me. My backpack is a top loading pack with a drawstring, and, when I was reaching inside to find my charger with its cord, I saw that my double layered cotton mask was about to drop out of the bag. So, I quickly reached with my left hand to grab the mask, accidentally jabbing my right hand with the only fingernail, that I hadn’t pared well on the previous Wednesday.

Now, even as I type out these letters on the keyboard, forming words in front of my eyes on the page, I have a hermetically sealed latex free bandaid, wrapped around the part of my hand below the thumb. A constant visible reminder of what would not have been a concern to me five months ago. Yet, I know from a scientific animation in a documentary produced by the Epoch Times, about the origins of the coronavirus, how the virus enters the human body, unlocking the entrance to a human cell by binding to its receptor sites; and, I am repulsed to think about how easy it could be, within my imagination, for one germ to get into my very small open wound and change my life forever (G-d forbid).

So, instead of venturing out to the health food store, along the sidewalks of this coronavirus laden town, like all other towns and cities across the States, I decided to stay right at my desk, behind my screen, where I usually am virtually twenty-four seven. Perhaps, I am one of the few people who chooses to remain sheltering in place, despite the lessening of restrictions several weeks ago; and, the percentage of positive cases is up from 5% at the time the restrictions were still in place, to 12% in the state, since that time. Incidentally, the statistical scenario is similar for other states as well. Need I attempt to defend my voluntary hermitage with any other statistic? I have remained adamant, knowing that I am Biblically mandated to stay right where I am:

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

If everyone in America could be impacted by the realisation that G-d is sovereign, then we could all chill out, knowing that G-d is in charge, even of something as catastrophic as a global pandemic. And, His recommendation to all of us is to relax, until the plague passes from this earth. The verse is likened by rabbinical commentary to the experience of the Children of Israel, during their last night in Egypt, when the Angel of Death was wreaking havoc in the streets of the metropolis. They stayed inside their homes, until the precise time of their redemption. And, who knows whether the above mentioned verse could be rendered as a prophetic statement, also reaching across the generations to this very time?

Reflections: Lighten Up


Do things differently today. Certainly, there is plenty of opportunity to pay heed to this recommendation. This is a proposal that I intend to take to heart. These were the first words that formed in my mind this morning, while I was still half a sleep. Probably, because I was vaguely thinking at the time, that having overslept, my day was already lost. Then, I began to analyse myself, and my previous day, to get to the heart of the matter, by asking myself questions as if I was my own personal life coach. Why did I oversleep? Am I feeling depressed this morning? What reason could possibly warrant my being depressed? I began to review the nature of some recent interactions with others, prompted by something that troubled me yesterday. Perhaps, I have some ongoing concerns, that I was reminded of by this negative occurence; or, other issues that arose for me later, based on this; things that I have never resolved for myself. How do I break out of any negative patterns that might have already formed below the level of my awareness, and, no pun intended, may have been plaguing me for months?

Then the thought struck me, bypassing all of my concerns, as if to answer everything that was disconcerting to me, by sidestepping those obstacles in one precise move, “do things differently today.” Words of wisdom from the depths of my own soul? Hmm. Regardless of where the idea formed, I am beginning to have some insight about this seemingly simple endeavor. The directive does not mean, to do something different today. Rather, to do what I would normally do under stay at home orders, differently. I.e., a catalyst towards changing my attitude, perspective, and any maladaptive coping styles. An effort already in progress, as I pay attention to relaxing my shoulders, and the tension in my body, as I sit here at my desk, writing this blog. And, take a deep, refreshing, cleansing breathe.

I recall, years ago, being occasionally told by others, to “lighten up.” Even before the adage became familiar to me through its commonplace usage, in an effort for others to compel me to make an attitude adjustment, I can also recount, prior to this, when I would be told every now and then to relax my shoulders. However, I could do neither through sheer willpower alone. Moreover, I only now realised that most of the people, who told me to “lighten up,” over the years, were not doing so out of genuine concern, rather, out of a sense of their own discomfort with my serious attitude. Furthermore, those who told me, “relax your shoulders” may not have realised that physiological patterns of stress can not be instantly changed.

So, here I am, now, with my own sense of directive, and inner locus of control, a phrase borrowed from Steven Hassan, a mental health specialist, trying to listen to my inner voice, go at my own pace, and melt away the negativity that would otherwise result from holding patterns in my mind, body, and spirit. With a little help from Above, I feel assured of a gradual shift, with G-d’s continuous prompting, that will effectively lead me into a new realm of awareness: less stressful, less hurried, and more alert to the potential of the everchanging moments, that constitute my life, like building blocks for a strong foundation. I hope that my personal account of this challenge, along with its accompanying insight along the way, may inspire others. As I do not often write within the framework of my own personal narrative, revealing my own struggles in life, perhaps, this is permissible, according to my own conscience, if by way of using myself as an example, others will benefit.

candid reflection

B”H February 12, 2020 I often find myself in an existential bind: because my identity is partly defined by my expression of belief through writing, as well as my personal thoughts, as funneled through that belief, it is almost as if I could say that “I write therefore I am.” Of course, this also implies […]

candid reflection — Clear Horizons