{Torah and Tea: Thoughts on Elul and the High Holidays.}

Shavua Tov,

It’s a quiet Saturday night, I am sipping a cup of hot tea (HELLO FALL) and I have a chance to blog.:D

Growing up, Pesach was my favorite holiday. I love the story of redemption – both physical and spiritual. I love the traditions and symbolism of the Seder. I love how Pesach brings people together. And… I love chocolate covered matzah!!!

But as I have grown older (and hopefully wiser) I am eager to celebrate the High Holidays! They are just a few weeks away now!

The month leading up to the feasts is called Elul. The month of Elul is a time of preparation – spiritual preparation. It’s a time for introspection and reflection. It’s a time for doing teshuva. It’s a time for getting back on track spiritually.

Ultimately, the month of Elul is about returning. I have spent a lot of time over the last several weeks thinking about what exactly we are returning to and what the High Holidays are really all about.

I’ve recently read, “Inviting G-d In: Celebrating the Soul-Meaning of the Jewish Holy Days” by Rabbi David Aaron. His book is filled with beautiful descriptions of the feasts that I have to share!

“The great sixteenth-century master of the Kabbalah, Rabbi Isaac Luria – better known as the Ari – explains that the story of Adam and Eve is a paradigm for understanding this process of awareness, especially in reference to what is spiritually happening during the High Holidays.

The Torah teaches that Adam was not just a man; he was androgynous, both male and female. Neither part knew the other existed. After creating this being, G-d said that it is not good for Adam to be alone. The Torah relates that while Adam was sleeping, God separated the two beings. Adam woke up to find his other half, Eve, whom he realized was of his essence. At this point, Adam and Eve stood face-to-face, chose to unite, and experienced the ecstasy of love.

The Ari explains the story of Adam and Eve as the quintessential love story, which parallels the love story between us and G-d. Just as in the case of Adam and Eve, we experience the feelings of loneliness and alienation that actually create the yearning and the anticipation for the final conscious reuniting with G-d.

Similar to Adam and Eve –who began as one entity joined back-to-back yet knew nothing of each other’s existence – we too are intrinsically connected to G-d whether we know it or not. But without knowing it, we cannot experience the blissful joy of oneness. Until we experience alienation from G-d, yearn for oneness, and consciously choose to reconnect to G-d, until we move from being back-to-back to being face-to-face with G-d, we will not know the ecstasy of ultimate love.

According to the Kabbalah, the period beginning with Rosh Hashanah, extending into Yom Kippur, followed by the festival of Sukkot and ending with Simchat Torah, is an especially opportune time for realizing our ultimate and eternal connection to G-d and to each other. Each Rosh Hashanah, we return to a state of back-to-back with G-d – we are one with Him, but we do not know it. We yearn to return to G-d during the ten days of awe from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, the day on which we are finally granted forgiveness. It is that forgiveness that reestablishes and reveals our face-to-face connection, and the joy of that forgiveness empowers us to achieve the ultimate realization of our oneness with G-d on Simchat Torah.”

Rosh Hashanah –

Rosh Hashanah is also known as Yom HaDin or the Day of Judgment. It’s the day on which G-d remembers every single little thing you did over the last year – both good and bad – and decides your fate.

The thought of being judged is a little scary and overwhelming! Yet on Rosh Hashanah, we rejoice in trembling. We acknowledge that Hashem is a righteous and compassionate judge!

One of the most beautiful traditions of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar. It beckons us to awake from our spiritual slumber and return to Hashem and to Torah. It is also a reminder to Hashem!

“The oral tradition teaches that when we blow the shofar, the King, who is sitting sternly on His throne of judgment, suddenly gets up and takes the seat of compassion (compassion is the process of kindness overriding justice.) The whole nature of the day changes when we blow the shofar. With just one piercing sound, the day is transformed from a day of judgment into a day of compassion. Why? Because by blowing the shofar, we willing submit ourselves to judgment. And that very act ignites, so to speak, compassion in G-d.”

On Rosh Hashanah, Hashem judges us not because He wants to get back at us and slap us around a little. He is judging us because He loves and cares for us. On Rosh Hashanah, we are returning to Avinu Malkeinu, “Our Father, Our King.”

Yom Kippur –

Yom Kippur or The Day of Atonement is a day of love and forgiveness.

“The Talmud teaches that in this world, when something good happens to us, we praise God: “Blessed be He who is good and does good.” But when something bad happens, we must say. “Blessed is He who is a true Judge.” However, in the future we will say, “Blessed is He who is good and does good” even about the misfortunes in our lives. In other words, when we will look back and see the whole picture, we will realize that every bad thing that happened to us contributed to G-d’s plan, which is to bring upon us ultimate goodness. This is also true about every bad thing that we did.”

There is a connection between Yom Kippur and Purim.

“On Purim we are able to say “blessed is Haman” because although he was evil, even Haman contributed to G-d’s plan for goodness. Yom Kippur is like Purim because on that day even our misdeeds can be seen as positive forces in serving G-d’s will and plan. Therefore, on Yom Kippur G-d forgives us and we can forgive ourselves. The darkness can serve the light, and the ugly past can be recycled into a beautiful future.”

On Yom Kippur we are returning to G-d, our Forgiving Parent.

Sukkot –

“On Rosh Hashanah we experience G-d as a Judge. On Yom Kippur we experience G-d as our Lover. According to the Kabbalah, when we sit in the close confines of the sukkah, we feel G-d hugging us.”

“Judaism teaches that the goal of life and the source of true happiness is holiness. We are holy when we are whole – integrated and harmonious with our inner self, with our nation, with the rest of humanity, with nature, and with G-d. We accomplish this by fulfilling the commandments of G-d.”

“From Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur, we work our way back from disintegration to wholeness and happiness. On Sukkot we reach the finish line and celebrate becoming whole again. As part of this celebration of wholeness, we take the four species and wave them toward the four corners of the world, as well as up and down.”

“The Talmudic sages tell us that the four species represent different parts of ourselves. The citron symbolizes our heart; the palm branch symbolizes our spine; the shape of the myrtle leaves suggests our eyes; and the willow leaves look like our mouth. Therefore, when we hold them together to fulfill the commandment of waving them on Sukkot, it is as if we are pulling ourselves together and dedicated ourselves to G-d.”

On Sukkot we celebrate wholeness and return to our Lover.

Each passing year, the thought of Hashem as a compassionate Judge, a forgiving Parent, and a faithful Lover become more and more profound to me!

I pray that as we finish out the month of Elul, chop apples, fast, and dine in our sukkahs we are reminded of the soul meaning of the High Holidays and who we are returning to!

B”H,
Maayan

My 12 Commandments

Inspired by Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, I have set 12 “commandments” for myself. I believe there is power in our words. My goal is to say these out loud daily. 😀 

1) Be Maayan. 

crysta

2) Let it go.

let it go

3) Act the way I want to feel.

thoughts

4) Do it now.

oneyear

5) Wherever you are… be all there. 

grass

6) Enjoy the process. 

started

7) Spend out.

giving

8) Lighten up.

real

9) Take the time. 

good mom

10) Do what ought to be done.

work

11) No calculation. 

others

12) There is only love. 

smile

Happy arbitrary winter day (most commonly referred to as New Year’s),

Maayan

I AM SHORT

I stand proudly at 5’2 {on a good day}. I am short. I’m never going to be great at basketball, a model, or fit jeans properly… and none of that really bothers me. I don’t like basketball. Even if I was tall enough to be a model I like food too much. My personal goal to wear skirts alleviates the issue of pant lengths. Problems solved!

I am a wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend. I fall short. It does bother me. Is there a solution?

Today; was an exceptionally short day… I’d say I measured a measly 4 feet.

As a wife I want to be the constant encourager, advocate, and source of renewal for my husband. I want to show him how I really feel about him. I want to have a tidy home and hardy meal for him to enjoy every day. I fall short.

As a mom… I want my daughter to know she is cherished, loved, and welcomed. I want her to know she is never too much work. I want her to know I will always be there for her, make time for her, and make decisions with her welfare in mind. I fall short.

As a daughter… I want to honor my parents. I want to remain close to them. I want them to know I am so thankful for their influence in my life and for the sacrifices they made for me. I fall short.

As a sister… I want my siblings to know even though I am far away I think of them every day! I miss them. I want them to know I will always have “listening ears” if they want to talk. I fall short.

As a friend… I want the sweet ladies in my life to know I am reliable. I want them to feel welcome in my home. I want to be in tune to the needs of others and be a source of encouragement for other tired mama’s. I fall short.

After spending much of the day short on grace, love, and patience… I had a moment. {You know… the moment where the stars align and a voice from the heavens say’s… “Would you stop being such a MORON?”} When I realized how many “better parts” I missed out on today… I was saddened. I fell short.

Did you know there are midgets taller than me? For real! New advancements in medicine allow for individuals to add inches to their height by breaking the bones in their legs and allowing new bone to grow! Sounds painful but worth it if you really don’t want to have ask random strangers in the grocery store to hand you *whatever* you need that is *always* on the top shelf!

Don’t you wish there was a procedure that would allow you to add inches to your spiritual stature? Me too! Turns out we are in luck! It’s called life. The constant weights of the world, struggles we face, “falling” short of _______________ (fill in the blank), and battling the yetzer hara – equates to spiritual brokenness.  New growth comes from meditating on the Torah and the power of the Ruach to turn our hearts back to Hashem when we allow him to. Baruch Hashem! He is never short on mercy or grace.

 “who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.” Psalms 75:10

“The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.” Psalms 145:14

May we have the binah and clarity to look to Hashem in our brokenness and allow him to rebuild us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Maayan

Owning Wisdom

” You can live in a place filled with treasures and still be poor. To be wealthy, you must own the things you have. So, too, with poverty of the mind: You may have all the knowledge and brilliant ideas in the world, but you are still poor until they become a part of you.”

– Rabbi Schneerson

Hello world!

Shalom and welcome to my blog!

The purpose of this blog is to:

  •  Chronicle my thoughts, memories, and lessons learned.
  •  Talk about my favorite subjects… my baby and Torah!
  •  Give me something to do other than blowing up netflix while nursing. 😀
  •  Hopefully, bless a few people.

This blog is not:

  • Written or edited by a grammar freak… expect errors.
  •  A reflection of all the things I’ve accomplished but what I aspire to.

What does this mama plan to blog about?

  • Torah observance
  • Raising kids to love Hashem
  • Cultivating and maintaining shalom bayit
  • Homemaking
  • Kosher Cooking
  • Organization
  • Motherhood/Womanhood
  • Marriage
  • Homeschooling
  • Health/Nutrition
  • Pregnancy/Birth/Babies
  • Frugal Living
  • Books

B’H,

Maayan