Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Those who grew up in frum, close knit Jewish communities know how many meshugassen (follies, strange customs) there are.
Some have a basis in Halacha (Jewish law), and some were generated many years ago, based on circumstances, superstitions and customs adopted by various Rabbis.
Some I find funny and enjoyable, some I find strange at best and ridiculous at worst and some can just not be fathomed by my pragmatic mindset.
We all know the grass is greener by the neighbor, but there’s an insightful mussar story (story with a moral), that envisions everyone throwing his pack of t’zures (troubles) into one big container, and then choose another one.
When selecting another pack , most people will want to pick up the one their threw in originally rather than any other, teaching that everybody is given the challenges that fit their level of strengths, and that the tribulations of others, which are not always known or visible, will seem much harder to bear.
Since exchanging is not an option, Jews will resort to prayer and beg H’Ashem for help, for the tiniest insignificant worry to matters of life and death, a Siddur (prayer book) and a Tehillim (psalms book) is always within reach
And so it’s a common occurrence that a text message is being passed from one person to the next with a request to pray for someone, usually a person the receiver of the text message doesn’t know, but that does not matter.
Praying has almost scientifically been proven to be effective and many wonderful stories can attest to the fact that prayer, recited by oneself or by others on one's behalf, helped them, physically, psychologically and metaphysically.
Besides praying, many Jews, especially Chassidim, finding themselves in dire situations will appeal to a Rabbi to pray on their behalf.
It is believed that a righteous person’s prayer is more powerful, and that their blessing can bring about salvation to any predicaments.
Some people go to a Rabbi to ask for a blessing or for advice in all matters. Naming a child, moving to another house or country, which material to learn etc…
Others will visit the Rabbi’s only in situations of need, such as illness and the like.
In recent years a trend has developed to visit graves of Tzadikkim(righteous ones) of the old days, whether it’s in Poland or in Russia, or in Israel. Often these trips are coupled with visits to concentration camps. Long time readers know how I feel about these.
People will drive for hours and fly miles to visit a grave, pray at its sight and leave.
Some particular graves are renowned to help in specific cases, one is great when you need a Shidduch, another one is great for a Refuah Shelemah (getting healthy) etc..
Unfortunately, praying at a grave is no guarantee for anything, and many having spend money and energy, come only to feel their last hopes are now crushed.
Personally I don’t participate in these travels.
I’m not saying I don’t believe it is of any use, but I can’t help but think it’s sort of unreal.
Prayer is available to all, and if one does have the belief that a righteous person’s prayer is more effective, then there are plenty of live ones where one can appeal.
Visiting graves, as a tourist-thing-to-do beats all the other meshugassen I know.
Visiting them in such hostile countries as Poland for the purposes of praying less so, because I understand the visitors are often driven there by despair.
Yet I’m still of the opinion that deceased people are in another world, hopefully better one, and that prayer is to be directed to H’Ashem and not inadvertently to Tzadikim that are no longer with us.
What is your opinion? Do you visit gravesides to pray and invoke the merit of the deceased? Do you feel it’s useful to pray at gravesides or is H’ashem just as close in our homes and Shuls as he is by the Kevorims and in countries where Judaism hasn't been practiced for the last 40 years?
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
THEY HAVE BEEN CLONED!
Like any good Jew, every night after eating a nice supper, feeling satiated and cozy, safe from the cold and wind that roams the streets, I’m impelled to put on my jacket and head for the cold and cruel world out there.
Why any sane person would leave the comfort of home? Simply to join another bunch of frummies and daven (pray) maariv(evening prayers) together.
Going to a local shtiebel close by affords me the opportunity to observe characters I’m not in touch with ordinarily.
The other day I went as usual and observed something disconcerting.
For a moment I thought I had walked into a time machine and returned to 10 years ago, then it hit me, that’s not Chaim, my classmate from long ago, it most likely his brother. But what an amazing resemblance!
I hadn’t seen Chaim for the last ten years, so for a moment from my point a view it was as if time had stood still for him.
Intrigued I continued to watch Chaim’s brother while he was conversing with someone. Interestingly he reminded me of someone, but it wasn’t his brother, it was that kid that davens where I daven on Shabbes.
And that kid reminds of my cousin who’s in yeshiva; but wait! These three aren’t even related?
Since Maariv hadn’t started yet (late again!) I continued to watch him while hearing the latest plotkes (No Lashon Hara obviously) from a friend.
It wasn’t his face that had reminded me of those other kids, it was his gestures, his way of smiling, his head shaking while talking his… well whole body language.
I had noticed before how Yeshiva bachurim have a common language. They answer Baruch H’Ashem(thank G-D) to almost any question, they daven a Shemoneh Esrei that make Rabbis and Rovs jealous, they remove their hats only to bathe and always throw a “My Rabbi told us that…” in any conversation.
But I hadn’t known that, in perhaps an attempt to resemble their Rabbis as much as possible, they had completely given up individuality.
Are Yeshivas looking to create hordes of identical twins, talking alike, going so far as to work on the student’s subconscious and develop one standard of body language? Or is it the students who, wanting to look like their mentors and older friends, imitate them consciously until it becomes second nature?
It is the lack of variety of types of boys and material taught that is responsible for this tribe of look a likes?
Is malicious intent involved, or is it a natural consequence of the environment that has brought about a generation of frum youngsters that could have very well been clones of each other?
Sunday, January 15, 2006
WISDOM IS THERE TO BE SHARED
Whenever I get a fun or otherwise interesting email, I like to share it on my blog, especially now that I can’t seem to find the time and energy to put together a decent post.I hope you enjoy these titbits of wisdom..
A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked,
"How heavy is this glass of water?"
Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.
The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter.
It depends on how long you try to hold it.
If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem.
If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm.
If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.
In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."
"And that's the way it is with stress management.
If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later,
as the burden becomes increasingly heavy,
we won't be able to carry on. "
"As with the glass of water,
you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again.
When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden."
"So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down.
Don't carry it home.
You can pick it up tomorrow.
Whatever burdens you're carrying now,
let them down for a moment if you can."
So, my friend, why not take a while to just simply RELAX.
Put down anything that may be a burden to you right now.
Don't pick it up again until after you've rested a while.
Life is short.
Here are some great ways of dealing with the burdens of life:
* Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.
* Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
* Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
* Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.
* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
* If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it
* It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
* Never buy a car you can't push.
* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.
* Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
* Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
* The second mouse gets the cheese.
* When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
* Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
* You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
* Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
* We could learn a lot from crayons...
Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.
*A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today....
Friday, January 13, 2006
A well rested Blogger!
I'm back from an internet free week! It was a hard but interesting experience.
More about that in an upcoming post.
I'd like to thank the kind Blogger who nominated my Blog for one of the Jewish Blog Awards(JIB). I just don't know who nominated me, and am very curious to find out.
Also thanks to A Frum Idealist for your email, it feels great to see I was missed.
Check me out again on your blogs and mine!