Thursday, July 27, 2006

ooh ooh meme me pick me!!

ive been tagged ...

Things I want to do before dying:
get married and have kids
get a phd in psychology
dye my hair purple and cover it
travel to Russia, Kenya, Alaska, Ireland and China
write a book
live in tsfat
learn to live fearlessly
hitchike across america and eat apple pie a la mode in random diners

Things I can not do:
keep my room clean
do dishes before the food encrusts permanently in them
throw used kleenex IN the garbage

set the table correctly
tell left from right
stay calm in a debate/discussion
stay polite with pushy/nagging people
return phone calls

Things I can do:
be real/ honest
forgive, forget
be daring.. sometimes.. when its not too scary!
procrastinate like a pro
think critically
go to the bathroom.. anywhere, anytime
ignore spiders

survive my extreme mood swings (i make no promises for those around me!)

What attracted me to my husband:
definitely not his speed in finding me!

Things I want in a mate:
a good heart
warm eyes
acceptance, not judgemental
open mindedness

purity, love and joy in his avodat hashem
a funky eclectic fun side
and my guilty pleasure... a thick neck

Things I say most often:
are you on crack?!
I was juuust going to call you…
so.. I have a theory on that..
oh no! I forgot my wallet/money/creditcard/bank card…

my head hurts :(

Books that I love -> I already listed that here so I'm changing it to:
Books that I am currently reading:
Sophie’s World – jostein gaarder
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Oliver Sacks
Borrowed Time – Yair Weinstock
Chofetz Chaim - A Daily companion

Movies that I love-> I already listed that here so I'm changing it to :
TV shows that I love:
law and Order
malcolm in the Middle
the office
greys anatomy

and now its my turn to tag (muahaha)...
david on the lake ,
the only way I know,
yeshivishguy (if he ever gets back here!)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

randomness on the cape

I just came back from a weekend trip and although I have nothing too exciting to report, I thought I would share a bunch of random events that happened.

Since I’m starting a new job soon and they only want to pay me AFTER I start working (the nerve!) I decided that I would skip going on a big trip this summer and instead take a long weekend road trip down to Cape Cod.

I don’t know how popular it is as a tourist destination among the crowd who reads this blog, but it was absolutely beautiful. It’s a very quaint and charming beach town, not Florida gaudy or Atlantic-city touristy at all, the beach is relatively quiet and the people are SO friendly (I’ve never had so many strangers smile and say hello to me in the street!) All across town there are lobster/crab/chowder eateries, pubs and mini putt golf courses and the landscape is filled with lighthouses, fishing boats and small cape cod style wooden houses. It’s really serene and natural.

There was, however, one problem and that was the weather. We were expecting a good 3-4 days of beautiful beach weather and instead we ended up spending our time hiding from, or anticipating, a tropical storm which was happening not too far off the coast.

We were hoping for this…

Instead we got … this…

Gray cloudy skies and rain throughout the day is not my idea of a beach style summer vacation. Its one thing to have 3 days of rain when you’re on a 2 week vacation, but its much more unpleasant on a 4 day vacation!

One of the random things that happened was that on one of those rainy afternoons, I ended up going to the nearby mall (when in bad weather, shop!). For those of you who know Cape cod, I’m sure you’ll agree that it feels like the most un-Jewish place. I found more Jews in Asia than I did out in Hyannis. Well if there’s one thing anyone who likes traveling knows its that, there isn’t a place on earth where you don’t find coca cola, chabad and Israelis! The first two, I found right away, but I was really starting to believe that Israelis had not yet set foot out on the Cape. You can imagine my surprise when I was walking in the mall and passed one of those little stands that sells hand cream and a beautiful, fresh off_the_boat Israeli girl approached me to sell me some of her products. Of course I had no interest in that but I right away started speaking to her in Hebrew and we got into a whole conversation about what she was doing, where she was from and where she was headed. I gave her my contact information and told her to be in touch if she was ever in my area. The coolest thing was that this adorable tattooed Israeli traveler, making money selling hand creams so she could go traveling to south america as she has just completed her army service, asked me (after noticing my long skirt) whether it was better to light her Shabbat candles – before 9 am - before she went to work – or after 10 pm when she got home on Friday night. (I guessed and told her 9 am sounded safer!) Anyway it was really fun to meet her and get a little taste of Israel, especially during this time when I feel so homesick for Israel.

The next random thing was this shop I came across in the mall – it was called the Gourmet Dog Bakery. That’s right DOG BAKERY! They had all kinds of delicious looking treats.. for dogs!
They had a dog birthday cake in the shape of a bone for $19.99, they had dog truffles and dog cookies, they had birthday party supplies for dogs and fashion accessories for dogs!
At first I thought it was really funny.. but then I realized how sad and pathetic it was..I mean, my family has a beautiful dog and I love her.. but people- seriously- need- to- get- a- grip!

Finally a series of random wedding related things happened.
First my sister found a dress she needed in a bridal store (who even walks into one of those cheesy overpriced stores?!).
Then a newlywed couple registered into our hotel. The bride walked in with her wedding dress still on, and their car had a sign that said, “just married”… how romantic! (who goes to a motor lodge for their honeymoon?!).
Then on Saturday night we took a walk on the marina and we saw a guy propose to his girlfriend. We weren’t close enough to hear them but it was clear from the way she jumped up and kept looking at her finger and squealing in delight.
And finally on the last day, as we were driving home, we stopped at a rest area on the road and I saw two bunny rabbits run out of a bush and into the forest – now if that’s not a sign, I don’t know what it is..
Apparently.. love.. is.. in.. the.. air..

So that was my exciting weekend on the tropical storm hit beaches of Cape Cod. I had a really nice and relaxing time, but the next time I go on a trip, I’ll make sure to check the weather channel before I head out - and to have all that wedding randomness revolve around me !!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

so much more than a body

i just came back from a weekend trip and im really tempted to post about it but i am so so so tired that im choosing, instead, to do the easy thing and just copy/paste something short and beautiful that I've come across..
enjoy the food for thought..

"The soul of man is like a piece of crystal,
but it takes the color of whatever is near it.
Whatever the soul touches... it has to take its color.
That is the difficulty.
That constitutes bondage.
The color is so strong,
the crystal forgets itself and identifies itself with the color.
Suppose a red flower is near the crystal:
the crystal takes the color and forgets itself, thinks it is red.
We have taken the color of the body and have forgotten what we are.
All the difficulties that follow come from that one dead body.
All our fears, all worries, anxieties, troubles, mistakes, weakness, evil,
are from that one great blunder-- that we are bodies.
This is the ordinary person.
It is the person taking the color of the flower near to it.
We are no more bodies than the crystal is the red flower."
- Vivekananda

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I don’t want war in Israel. I know this sounds like an obvious statement but I feel that in some way it sounds a little radical. Everywhere I turn I hear calls for the destruction of our enemies. I hear about wiping them off the map. I hear that this is finally Israel’s chance to do what needs to be done. I hear battle cries from all sides.
Unfortunately I hear them from the enemy too, and it really scares me.

Of course Israel has a right to defend itself, of course the force used is not disproportional considering the enemy and what’s at stake. Of course I support Israel 100%.....
but I don’t want a war.

I know many are praying for long lasting peace and for a quick and painless resolution to this conflict.. but I have a feeling many have forgotten that this is the end goal we should all be directing our efforts to.

The situation in Israel tears me up inside. I cringe every time I open a news site to see what’s happened, but I would rather spend my energy praying for peace than gloating over the hopeful and anticipated destruction of Israel's enemies. Maybe im wrong, but I don’t CARE about any enemies being destroyed, I just want them to let Israel live in peace! I get no satisfaction from knowing that Arab civilians were killed.

Praying for the destruction of our ennemies and hoping for their annihilation seems to me like praying for the symptoms to go away instead of the illness to be cured.

I want to pray for peace and for a quick and safe resolution to this mess. I don’t wish for a massacre, I don’t wish to prove Israeli might over its enemies. I don’t want Palestinians or Lebanese or arabs to die or suffer. I am not happy and wishing for the death of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructures.

But - most of all - I dont want war for the sake of Israel, Israelis and Jews everywhere. I worry about the effect a war has/will have on Israel. Don’t get me wrong, as much as the wasteful death of “the others” pains me, it is at the bottom of my list of worries. What REALLY worries me are the Israeli casualties – physical and mental.

We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you
for making us kill yours.
- Golda Meir, to Anwar Saddat just before the
peace talks.
Soldiers who need to fight and kill turn into barbarians because often it’s the only way for them to cope. Cognitive dissonance dictates that they shed their human traits even when they are out of battle so that they can continue to do what is necessary when they are in battle. This is not something I wish upon my brothers.

in 1948 there were 6,373 Israeli casualties
in the 6 day war there were 779 killed, 2,563 wounded and 15 prisoners
in the Yom Kipur war there were 2,656 killed and 7,250 wounded
in the Lebanon war there were 675 killed
and since September 2000 there was been 1,119 people killed in terrorist attacks.

Those aren’t just numbers, each and everyone one of those is someone’s son, father, wife, sister.. jobs lost, post traumatic stress, shortage of necessities, alcoholism, anxiety, fear, orphans and widows.. all those are natural consequences of war – and this is what we wish for?? War is not handsome soldiers, shiny fighter jets, flags waving... it's pain and suffering and destruction.

I know everyone wants peace in the end. No one wants to live in a perpetual state of conflict, but it makes me sick when I hear the blood thirsty calls for the destruction of our enemies. I want to make it clear that I am in no way criticizing Israel and its actions, I fully support Israel and I have faith in its leaders. What I am having an especially hard time with is the enthusiasm displayed by those living in their American (or european..) comfort, foaming at the mouth, and calling for war and destruction. If we believe in G-d then let Him find a way to get rid of our enemies, let Him find a way to bring us peace – our only participation in this should be meriting peace and security through out exemplary deeds and our prayers.
We don't thrive on military acts. We do them because we have to, and thank God we are efficient. - Golda Meir
This world, including the politicians, the national borders, the fighter jets.. are all illusion. The ONLY thing that matters at the end of the day is the way we behave spiritually. Our fate is based on that. When the lives of our brothers and sisters are lost, when pieces of the land are given away, when Israel suffers, it is a direct result of the lacks in our efforts – spiritual efforts. G-d gives us what we deserve and at this point, I don’t feel we have very much to be proud of.

I don’t want to worry about the enemy, I want to worry about myself and my behavior and my avodat hashem, and that in the end will bring peace in a faster and more painless way than wishing for the destruction of my enemies.
It is true we have won all our wars, but we have paid for them. We don't want victories anymore. - Golda Meir

Sunday, July 16, 2006

remind me why....

im having a mid-bloglife crisis..
and i came across
- mirrors my thoughts for today..

who are we kidding?!

update : i just had such a good laugh and im feeling MUCH better..
it out!

and here's some more good stuff...
"if a
mime fell in a forest, would it make a sound? If I ever see a mime in a forest, I'm going to trip it to find out. "

"I didn't have any friends when I was a kid (and I still don't), so I would spend all my time hating
Tony Danza"

"If there were a building that stood for grammatical integrity, this email would be the
plane that crashed into it."

"If you lose your job to an immigrant, it's probably because he or she was willing to work harder for less money" "It's not like they can literally come to America, ambush us in the parking lot and take our jobs. "

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

learning to detach

This is an excerpt I really like from the book Tuesdays with Morrie. The book is about Morrie, a professor who in the last moments of his terminal illness imparts his lessons on life and living to one of his students. We have a tendency to fight strong emotions. We all crave drama but when it comes to real emotions, we shy away from them because we're afraid. I think most of the time the reason we're afraid of these emotions is because we feel like if we give in, we'll lose control. Morrie advises Mitch, his student, to just go with the emotions, as they come, to let go, to live them fully... and then, to detach from them.
We want to feel the emotions... but not too much. The problem is that when you keep fighting the emotions, they get bottled up and eventually they burst out of you at the wrong time and in the wrong form. Accepting that at a certain moment you feel a certain emotion, experiencing it completely .... but keeping in the back of your mind the awareness that you are in control, that this is a natural emotion, it has come.. and it will go - when youre ready - allows you to live it fully and then, to let it go and move on. It allows you to regain control and not to be a slave to your emotions.

The small horrors of his illness were growing, and when I finally sat down with Morrie, he was coughing more than usual, a dry, dusty cough that shook his chest and made his head jerk forward. After one violent surge, he stopped, closed his eyes, and took a breath. I sat quietly because I thought he was recovering from his exertion.

“Is the tape on?” he said suddenly, his eyes still closed.

Yes, yes, I quickly said, pressing down the play and record buttons.

“What I’m doing now,” he continued, his eyes still closed, “is detaching myself from the experience.”

Detaching yourself?

“Yes. Detaching myself. And this is important – not just for someone like me, who is dying, but for someone like you, who is perfectly healthy. Learn to detach.”

He opened his eyes. Exhaled.

“You know what the Buddhists say? Don't cling to things, because everything is impermanent.”

But wait, I said. Aren’t you always talking about experiencing life? All the good emotions, all the bad ones?


Well, how can you do that if you’re detached?

“Ah. You’re thinking, Mitch. But detachment doesn’t mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That's how you're able to leave it.”

I’m lost.

“Take any emotion for example - love for a woman, or grief for a loved one, or fear and pain from a deadly illness. If you hold back on the emotions - if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them - you can never get to being detached. You're too busy being afraid. You're afraid of the pain, you are afraid of the grief. You are afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, "All right.i have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now i need to detach from that emotion for a moment."

Morrie stopped and looked me over, perhaps to make sure I was getting this right.
“I know you think this is just about dying, “ he said, “but it’s like I keep telling you. When you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

Morrie talked about his most fearful moments, when he felt his chest locked in heaving surges or when he wasn’t sure where his next breath would come from. These were horrifying times, he said, and his first emotions were horror, fear, anxiety. But once he recognized the feel of those emotions, their texture, their moisture, the shiver down the back, the quick flash of heat that crosses your brain- then he was able to say, “Okay. This is fear. Step away from it. Step away.”
I thought about how often this was needed in everyday life. How we feel lonely, sometimes to the point of tears, but we don’t let those tears come because we are not supposed to cry. Or how we feel a surge of love for a partner but we don’t say anything because we're frozen with the fear of what those words might do to the relationship.

Morrie’s approach was exactly the opposite.
Turn on the faucet. Wash yourself with the emotion. It won’t hurt you. It will only help. If you let the fear inside, if you pull it on like a familiar shirt, then you can say to yourself, “Alright, it’s just fear, I don’t have to let it control me. I see it for what it is.”

Same for loneliness: you let go. Let the tears flow, feel it completely – but eventually be able to say, “All right, that was my moment with loneliness, I’m not afraid of feeling lonely, but now I’m going to put that loneliness aside and know that there are other emotions in the world, and I’m going to experience them as well.”

“Detach,” Morrie said again


Finally, in a whisper, he said, “I know how I want to die.”

I waited in silence.

“I want to die serenely. Peacefully. Not like what just happened.

“And this is where detachment comes in. If I die in the middle of a coughing spell like I just had, I need to be able to detach from the horror, I need to say, “This is my moment.”

"I don’t want to leave the world in a state of fright. I want to know what’s happening, accept it, get to a peaceful place, and let go. Do you understand?”

I nodded.

Don’t let go yet, I added quickly.

Morrie forced a smile. “No. Not yet. We still have work to do.”

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Little People

I had this random thought today and im curious to hear what others think.
I was noticing today how children in the Torah observant communities dress like mini adults.
The boys sport little blue suits with white shirts and if they’re teenagers a black hat/fedora. They have black dress shoes and buzz cuts. They look like mini men.
The girls wear little pin striped suits, or long skirts and button down shirts.
They remind me of businessmen and career women, mini mommies and daddies, completely at ease in these nonflexible outfits. The girls wear their hair up and sit cross legged, the boys, mischievous as they are, sit properly and adult like when in the presence of grown-ups.
I just looked at them today and thought – these are not the kids im used to, these are mini adults – adults in training.

Now contrast that to what we are used to seeing out in the world. When was the last time you saw a little boy in a suit, or a girl wearing a dress? Boys wear jeans, ripped t-shirts, baggy, comfortable clothes and the girls wear funky little outfits, bright tshirts with their bellybuttons showing and denim mini skirts. Everything is stretchy, bright and fun.
Now my initial reaction was.. oh these poor little religious kids, cant they dress more casually, have a little fun, they’re just kids after all? But then it occurred to me. At what point does a child switch from “just a kid” to a responsible, mature adult, in terms of clothing and more importantly, in terms of mentality?

When you look out into the world, you realize, it’s not only the kids who are wearing stretchy, bright and fun clothes. More and more this has become the way adults dress too. Casual Friday at work, lycra gowns, baby T’s, platform shoes, mini, shiny, stretchy, comfy.. that’s the dress code today.. but not for kids alone, for adults as well.

So what’s wrong with adults also dressing comfortably? creatively? fun? I don’t know if anything is wrong with it but it makes me wonder where this tendency comes from? Is it from an unhealthy desire to remain child-like, from a selfish yearning for childish freedom?

It seems to me that in today’s society, the emphasis is on ‘fun’ and ‘easy’. Everyone wants to be happy, but happy is often associated with having fun and feeling good – and that shows in the clothing of our generation. In a society where it’s common to lie about one’s age, where botox is a lunchtime beauty procedure and where every effort is made to stay looking young, children are taught that adulthood and maturity is to be avoided at all costs. People are getting married later – if at all – and its not uncommon for women to start having children much later, balding men ride in their red convertibles, everyone’s teeth are capped, and not a grey hair can be seen. The message is – avoid getting old – at all costs! Maturity, wisdom and experience are not valued. Youth, entertainment and a carefree existence are this generation’s aspirations.

In the Torah world, the focus seems to be different. Children are in training for something much more serious. They will have to live a life focused on spiritual growth and community service and the training can’t start when they turn 18. It’s a process that needs to begin during childhood. Of course children are children, and have needs specific to childhood, but the focus is on training responsible adults.

I don’t know if this idea is a little far fetched, but today, as I sat in synagogue and watched this little girl in her pinstriped suit in contrast to the (not so young) woman in her lycra army print clothing (much more suitable for her grandaughter!) it occurred to me that there really was a difference in the way these two communities dress. Not a differnces based on the laws of modesty, but one based on perspectives, on life focus, on direction. It made me proud to be part of a community that sees so much potential in its children and dresses them in a way to inspire them to grow up unafraid of growing up.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I dont beleive it!!

People love throwing around terms like emunah, bitachon, faith, trust…or giving generic advice like “you just need to have bitachon!”
(JUST?!) and for the longest time this kind of thing would drive me crazy. I thought I understood those terms but whenever someone would tell me to just have bitachon I’d cringe.. what a cop out piece of advice. It seemed so abstract, so empty, I just couldn’t internalize it.

Today, I try not to be one of those people who throws around terms like that.. but sometimes it really is JUST the right expression to use, the right feeling to have.

I once heard it explained to me this way :

Emunah is the belief that whatever happens comes from G-d. It’s being able to see the hidden hand of the “Craftsman” (אומן - oman) through His work.

Bitachon is the behavior that accompanies that belief, it implies acting in a way that demonstrates that you are 100% sure that whatever is going on is divinely guided. We accept that as long as we put in the effort do the right thing, then the outcome is in the hands of G-d.

The other day, I was talking to a friend and she started telling me how she is so stressed out about her children’s schools, the community, her husband , his job, their new house.. and all I could think was “Why is she freaking out?? Doesn’t she realize she cant control what school her kids will be accepted to, where her husband will work, how the community will treat them? Doesn’t she realize that she is only responsible for her efforts, the outcome is ultimately in G-d’s hands??” She then concluded by telling me that all she really wants is for things to go smoothly so she can do her avodat hashem in peace. At that point I couldn’t hold it in anymore and I asked her if she didn’t think that maybe her avodat hashem was to not freak out, to accept her challenges, to accept G-d’s decisions and to deal with them with love and be’simcha .... and that maybe she was missing the point?

The way I understand it, reading tehilim, praying, keeping the mitzvot are not an end in themselves, they're simply tools. The goal is to connect to Hashem, to get to know Him, to develop a relationship and to emulate Him. Keeping the mitsvot are tools we were given to help us connect. Reading tehilim helps me develop emunah and bitachon. Not being jealous helps me accept my lot. Keeping Shabbat reminds me that I am not the Creator, despite how much I feel like I spend my entire week creating. What’s the point of nitpicking on the details and the technicalities if I miss the whole point and panic whenever things don’t turn out the way I want them to!?

Having bitachon means that I behave in a way that shows that I accept what G-d decides for me, I welcome G-d's authority. I don’t freak out, I don’t panic, I don’t go crazy trying to control things.. I do my best, and I accept the outcome.

Now of course.. this is all

So here is my little bitachon story ..
A few weeks ago, when I was still job searching, I was called in to pass an exam for a potential employer. I was only alerted a few days before and the amount of material to study was massive. I procrastinated and panicked until I finally broke down and accepted that there was no way I’d have enough time to study and would inevitably fail the exam. I quickly skimmed over the material and figured it was pointless to bother studying since there was no way I'd learn it all.

Throughout the night I had this debate raging in my head that went something like this :

"It really is pointless to study - you know there is no way you can get through the material adequately enough to realistically pass this exam or ever get this job!"

"well sure, but passing an exam or getting a job isnt really in my hands, it's in G-d’s hands. As long as I do my part, I study, I show up at the exam, I write the exam, the results really are not under my control."

"oh puleeeeeez.. you actually beleive that?? what do you think is going to happen?! The answers wont just fall from the sky!! There’s no way you can pass this exam even if you study ALL night”

“So G-d can create the universe and sustain it, but He cant make me pass an exam if He wants to?!”

I finally just went to bed (me and all my voices) and figured I'd just deal with my upcoming failure in the morning.

In the morning the friend I drove to the exam with showed me a list of questions she had received from another friend who had taken the exam a few weeks earlier and we reviewed the questions to get an idea of what to expect. Of course I didn’t know any of the answers, but then again, I had assumed I wouldn’t, and didn’t bother too much with the reviewing.

Well, I’m sure that by now you must have figured out what happened. I went to take the exam and to my complete shock, as I turned over the sheet and read through the questions, I realized that this exam was IDENTICAL to the one my friend had shown me in the car. I had assumed I would fail and had barely paid attention to the answers, but now I realized I could have easily had a 100% on this exam if I hadnt been so convnced there was no way I could pass. If only I had had some emunah and acted with bitachon, I would have done my part, studied, and trusted that the rest would fall into place if it was meant to be. I answered those questions I recalled and hoped for the best with the rest. I have to say though that the amazing thing was the realization I had. It hit me as soon as I saw the exam - G-d had found a way to create the universe AND make me pass this exam. What a shock! I had lacked bitachon, pure and simple. I had assumed that there was something that G-d could NOT do and had acted accordingly. What an amazing lesson this was. I sat through the exam with a huge smile on my face, I didn’t care anymore if I passed or failed this exam, the lesson was worth so much more than any exam or job!

At this point in my life, I think I have finally internalized the meaning of these terms... the goal now is "just" to keep it at the forefront of my mind.

Who links to me?