Just a reminder…..
26 Feb 2013 2 Comments
Now that Purim is behind us, Jewish women all over the world start what for some is a very stressful month – the time before Pesach (Passover). Some have known for a while where they will be for seder and some are just deciding now. Some have started to clean already and others are refusing to even think about it.
What we all have in common though, is the almost Pavlovian reaction to seeing another Jewish woman during this month – the inevitable question “what have you done so far for Pesach?”.
I’ve thought a lot about this situation, and I have come to the conclusion that what we are looking for when asking this question is not information (who really cares how your neighbor or friend does the cleaning?) but emotional support. What we really want to hear is that someone else is farther behind than where we think we ought to be at the given moment – so that we can feel less guilty about procrastinating, and less stressed out about the whole thing. After all, if Mrs. X has so much more to do than I do then surely I will be able to manage in the end. In addition, we also want to show off a bit, giving ourselves a pat on the back for whatever work we have done so far, and giving us further incentive to do more so we can brag again.
The main problem with the above scenario is that we don’t always hear what we want to hear. If your neighbor has done way more than you have then instead of the emotional support you are looking for you get a tremendous source of stress.
In addition, the conversation can take an insidious turn if we start to talk about what the other members of our family are doing to help. We all know women who are married to angels from heaven who not only know how to clean like professionals, but are willing to do this cleaning after long days of work, and do the cleaning EXACTLY as we would. Others have daughters – and sometimes sons, who are tremendously helpful and just live to ask “what more can I do to help, mom?” Most of us, of course, are married to wonderful but regular men who don’t exactly fit into this category, and have children who don’t think cleaning for Pesach is a top priority. Comparing our families is not only deadly for shalom bayit (peace in the home) but it almost always just adds to our anxiety and stress and feelings of jealousy.
What we should really be doing during this month is giving each other support. Asking “how are you doing” and responding that “yeah, this time of year is tough” and reminding each other that we somehow all get through it is what we really should be doing. I for one am going to give it a try this year. Who is with me?
17 Feb 2013 Leave a Comment
Jewish law has a solution for (almost) everything, and one can learn a lot about Jewish values from it. We learn what to cherish and what to avoid, and how not only to act but how we should think about the world.
One of the earliest things Orthodox Jews learn in childhood is that if we drop a siddur (prayerbook) or a chumash (a Jewish bible) we need to pick it up and give it a kiss. This teaches us at a very early age to not only treat our sifrei kodesh (holy books) with reverence but also with love. As a child gets older and can understand more, we teach him other laws regarding sifrei kodesh including the fact that you must not sit next to a sefer kodesh (you should either hold it in your hands or lap or put it onto a table). If a sefer Torah is dropped during the services in the synagogue, the people present at the time must fast.
When old sifrei kodesh are beyond use, we don’t throw them away or burn them, G-d forbid – we bury them. (This is why when the Nazis burned our Sifrei Torah and sifrei kodesh it hurt so much. We mourn much more than the loss of property – we mourn something much more precious).
The issue of burying old sifrei kodesh is the subject of this article in the Times of Israel. It seems that the problem of what to do with obsolete siddurim and machzorim (regular prayerbooks and special ones for the High Holy Days) has been exacerbated recently since every major denomination of Jewry in America has published a new version of their siddurim in the past few years.
I recently bought a new Koren siddur for myself, after using the Artscroll siddur for the past thirty years or so, since I became Orthodox. As you can imagine there were pages starting to come out of the old siddur. It still sits on our bookshelf. I don’t have the heart to put it into geniza (special storage for books before they are buried). I know I will need to someday, but not yet.
08 Jan 2013 1 Comment
I came across this article quoting the wife of a Hamas operative saying that the Palestinian mother “instills in her children the love of Jihad and martyrdom for the sake of Allah,” – and “I am constantly praying: ‘Allah, make the end of our days be in martyrdom.”
In other words, she prays that her her husband and children will kill themselves in order to kill others (Jews, in her case). This is her greatest goal.
I don’t know about you, but I pray for other things for my husband and children. I pray for them every day using my own words, and on Friday afternoon right after lighting the Sabbath candles I use the text in my siddur (Jewish prayerbook).
Here is this prayer in part:
“May it be your will Hashem, my G-d and G-d of my forefathers, that You show favor to me [my husband, my sons....] and all my relatives; and that You grant us and all Israel a good and long life:….Privilege me to raise children and grandchildren, who are wise and understanding, who love Hashem and fear G-d, people of truth, holy offspring, attached to Hashem, who illuminate the world with Torah and good deeds and with every labor in the service of the Creator…..” (taken from the Complet Artscroll Siddur)
I thank G-d every day that he made me a Jew, and I am profoundly grateful that the spiritual goals that we strive for are achieved by living a good life – illuminating the world with Torah and good deeds….