The freedoms within (ask me about what I mean)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Unconditional Faith

I woke up at 8. I remembered a dream. 2 crucial parts. I was leaving with my group and I was in tears because I forgot to say goodbye to G-d's dog. I ran away from our single file line and hugged it and came back. The people I was with were all ridiculing me, and I was crying because of this too. Then, I realized I forgot to say goodbye to G-d's wife. I left the group again hugged her, she told me she would always be there for me, and that she was really thankful that I came back.

Dreams can be interpreted in many ways, but with help of the internet, I found that dogs are unconditional lovers, and that that G-d's wife could mean his Shechina ( The divine presence in prayer, times of righteous judgment, and when personal need is apparent). Maybe I'm more aware of G-d being unconditionally loving then him actually being around me? I don't know. Dreams are one of those things that maybe should go unnoticed.

Anyways-I've come across another reason on why I went to Israel. I'm home on my winter break vacation right now, and with the advice from my program director in Israel, I've been learning on my own mostly every day. On Shabbat, which was a challenge in itself, I was reading some of my books, and my Father came along too read some of his books too. I was reading a book about the parsha and then realized I actually have not read that weeks portion in English yet. I asked my Dad if he had any copied of Chumashim. He got up, obviously meaning he had some, and went to his room. He came out with one that was his copy of Bereshit when he was in 8th grade! He's had it for all these years..

I then told him, that this weeks parsha was not in that book, but was in the book of Shemot. He laughed, and got up to see if he had that book as well. Well, he didn't, but he did bring back something else. A variety of small books, small Breslove advice books. We were flipping through them and I found one I thought was appealing titled 'Heaven is open'. We started to read it. Every few lines at first, my Dad would get emotional. I saw myself immediately in him. Anytime I would study or learn or recite anything that had something to do with the Jewish religion, my eyes would well up and I would give up. I would even get mad at myself for allowing this to happen, furthering myself away from anything that would make me feel that pain.

My Father told me that he has it in him, and at any moment he can change. He told me that my ancestors, the Freiman were amazing people that are traveling with us. I can see why he would get mad at me now, when I would appear the opposite of the Jewish religion; dressing the way I did, partying, wasting my life away...

I've been reading "Have a Little Faith" by Mitch Albom and have picked up on the theme of connection. The author asks the Rabbi what the point of all these traditions are and in his response he mentions being forgotten. He says something like when you die there are two deaths, one when you physically die, and one when your future grand children and great grand children forget about you. But if you keep passing along the Jewish heritage, and the Jewish tradition, then you will never be forgotten, and you will always stay connected.

I want to stay connected to my faith, stay within my family's precious heir of religion, know that G-d is unconditionally loving, and know that he is, was, and always will be here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Values of the old and new

 I have a few close friends in this world. They know who they are and they know the value of our friendship. I beleive that these friendships I have, have been acquired through opening up who you truly are through a chain of life, love, fear, and happiness. Each of them has seen me in my deepest sorrows and my most joyous celebrations-each of them has expressed their future goals, their concerns, their personal matters, and anything you wouldn't post on a daily blog to me. We've grown to that stage where if we see each other in ten years, we'll be able to sit down, have coffee, and act as if those ten years have never gone by. All in all, I love them.

Before I was in Israel, only a few people understood my desire to become more religious, and how much it killed me on the inside. I couldn't talk about changing publicly, in fear of emotionally breaking down. Now that's a huge difference about then and now. I can now freely express my love for Judaism without any concern and find other people that share those deep feelings with me. Making these new connections with people has given me a whole new found love for these kinds of people. I appreciate everything they have to say and can almost cry in happiness knowing that there are other people that parallel my same thoughts.

To sum that thought up:

'Our thinking is shaped and corrected only through the exchange of thoughts with others. To sharpen yourself, communicate with friends who are striving toward the same goals. An intellect which depends entirely upon itself is prone to stagnation, fantasies or erroneous ideas.'
(Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch - Wisdom of Mishlei, p.183; Rabbi Pliskin's Gateway to Happiness, p.135)

To Menucha: you have shown me that there are possibilities in life that even though they may seem impossible, are certainly doable. I was a witness to your loving self while you were loving to your family and they were loving back. Not only that, you constantly expressed your desire to continue this love into your future generations and to make sure it stays there. I love you for everything you've showed me, and even though you're leaving for the states, for a new life, next semester, I know this is the only a beginning of our friendship. Soon we'll be adjusting each other's tichels in real life.

To Robin: to be an inspiring person you have to do a few things. Maybe say something, write a song, ask a challenging question; whatever it may be-you nailed the title. I really look up to you in everything that you are going through-you have shown me that you can get past family problems while working on yourself at the same time. You have the courage to speak your mind, which many people don't, and this is taking you to places farther then you ever expected (like Har Nof). Anyways, I know you are leaving to another place is Israel, but I know it's for the best. If there is one thing I learned from you is if you are not challenging yourself, and your only staying somewhere because your comfortable, it's wrong. That will stick with me forever.

 Both of these girls showed me the meaning of this new found-life goal relations-friendship that I will cherish and value forever. Make sure to make those friends in your life. My happiness can be found on my face because of it-when you release those secret inner thoughts and feelings-you release an immense amount of pent up pain..

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Walking on dry land through the dark and light

Chains of events are seriously amazing. Something happens, and then you meet someone, and then they show you this place that you find this awesome song at that you show to another person that inspires them to change that begins to go to some lessons who asks the teacher a crazy question that changes the teachers view who teaches someone else it then that person has crazy mid life crisis and the only thing holding them strong is that one get it.

In the midst of all that craziness there is definitely going to be downs that will descend you to places you've never ever fathomed of before. You'll want to rip your eyes out and loose everything then be where you are...

That's where the whole concept of Ein Od Milvado plays in-everything G-d does has it's purpose no matter how crazy and unfair and life-changing it is. It's something you have to always have in the back in your mind in order to preserve your sanity.

One more thought-I spent Shabbat in the Old City and it really was an awesome experience. Living in an area where the Jewish people used to have their center of worship. There was also a serious sense of unity. The surrounding communities are arab communities, that of course will create-Jews and arabs creating-tension. Every Jew has a sense of being there for each other since they are under the eyes of maybe hatred, terror, or inhumane thoughts. But besides that, you can really feel the community vibe in the air.

One cool lesson I got out of it was from this super cool rabbi that recently just cut off his dreads and found the beauty in Judaism. He brought up this weeks parsha and the miracle of the sea splitting. It says, and they walked on the dry land through the ocean-instead of walking through the ocean of the dry land. Basically this means that they didn't need the actual miracle to feel the intensity of the, just because G-d isn't really splitting the sea in front of us, we should really see the miracles in our daily lives of things that happen to us on a daily basis..

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Praying like a changed Yehuda

It's finals week(s) here at Israel Experience! I can't believe that the first semester is coming to an feels like just yesterday I was starting my first class, eager and ready to take on a whole new world of Jewish information. In confidence I state I have seriously learned SO much about the Jewish religion; history, laws, stories, the works. Despite my fear that it was all going to be lectures straight from the Torah, it really was something way more. Each class had it's own special topic that either seriously inspired me or seriously educated. I'll share a few important messages I picked up from some of my classes.

Jewish Philosophy.
This class, taught by a woman that is vigorous but intriguing in her teaching style introduced every lesson with a theme. This way, she kept us, or at least me, all ears trying to see how it would tie in at the end. One lesson we covered was the topic on if we are able to influence G-d or not. I immediately thought of course we could, but I was then informed otherwise. There is one opinion that the righteous have the ability to change G-d's decree, but then there is a counter. NO-we cannot influence G-d. Questions are raised like-if G-d knows what our whole life is going to be like, then why do we have to pray for something to change anyways? The answer, making complete sense to me at least, is that through prayer we are influencing ourselves. The literal meaning of 'Hitpallel' (the Hebrew word to pray) means self-judgment. It all comes down to what you need, who you are, and what you've done. Through this process of self-judgment, one may or may not be inclined to change. If you are, you change yourself, erasing G-ds decree, and starting you on another path. Anyways, that was a little lesson from that class-but one more seriously important thing I picked up on is about the repetitive praying everyday. It's a main question people ask on why Jews always are in constant prayer. Even though it didn't bother me, I wanted to know the answer anyways. I was presented with an analogy while studying for the final on this question that makes total sense: lets say you want to be someone's best friend. You can't just go up to them on their birthday's and say happy birthday and expect to from then on to be their best friend; you have to be in constant work with them. You have to hang out with them, compliment them, talk to them, etc. This parallels praying everyday and why you can't just randomly go asking G-d for something, only when you need it. I took this into serious consideration and now that I'm attempting to pray everyday, I feel very comfortable when I need to ask for something from G-d.

In my World view of the Sages class, author, lecturer, strongly opinionated (in a good way-if you agree with him), teacher Rabbi Kahn, discusses the weekly parshas (biblical stories) and gives his insight on the deeper meanings. One story that was covered was the story of Yosef. I though the whole time we would be talking about him, but we side tracked into one of his brother's Yehuda. At first, the view of Yehuda is-lets just say not so good-he is the leader of the pack when it came to throwing Yosef in the pit and then deciding that instead of killing him, to make a profit my selling him. Then after all of that goes down, after his first son dies (because of ignoring G-d's prophecy-read up on it to understand in depth), he tells his first sons wife, Tamar to marry his second son. His second son sinned, then he dies and then Yehuda tells her to marry his third son. But he then changes his mind, blames all the problems on Tamar, and sends her away. Yehuda gets lonely one day and decides to take a drive to the corner store to pick up a prostitute. Yehuda didn't have any cash with him so he gave her his ring coat and staff as compensation later to be picked up and payed for. Little did he know that Tamar was the hooker, undercover. So when he tries to find the hooker to pay her back, she is missing. He forgets about it. A message comes to him later telling him that Tamar is pregnant. Furious, he sentences her to death. Right before she is about to be killed she takes out the things that Yehuda gave to her as compensation and says 'whoever is the owner of this stuff is the father of my child!' Dramatic right? Well right after that, instead of denying it, Yehuda immediately comes off his pedestal and admits that she was right and changes his life from then on. He did a 180-a complete 180. Stories like this show that broken hearts are really the full hearts-and that turning a new leaf is possible-despite circumstances like impregnating you first and second dead son's wives.

These are just two examples of some interesting and inspiring lessons I've received from this semester, and that was only from actual classes. I've been on many shabbatons, attended many extra classes, and met many people that have made serious impact on my life. I know that a new life is just beginning-deep down I know that it's right.
Ice skating with some friends on a Thursday night :)
From left: Me, Atara, Leetal, Rachel, and Sheera

Friday, January 7, 2011

Flowing tree sap

The concept of things being hidden within intrigues me.

This past halacha class, we had a lesson on tu b'shvat. I wasn't totally aware of the meaning of the holiday; I knew it had something to do with trees though. I learned that on this holiday, the trees are celebrating their birthdays. Technically, a person should not eat the fruit of their planted trees until they are four years old (Orlah) and that in the fourth year (back then) the fruit must be eaten in Jerusalem (Neta Revai)(since that rule doesn't apply today really, you just don't eat the fruits in the 5th year). After going over the technical rules, we looked deeper.

Rav S. R. Hirsch wrote up a meaning on what this holiday means to us as human beings. Basically he said that underneath the twigs and dead bark, on tu b'shvat, new life is pulsating within. The tree sap is slowly moving up to eventually provide enough nourishment for regrowth. His last paragraph states:

"Behold the trees on the day of their birthday...they celebrate today their silent inner rebirth in defiance of nature's onslaughts... But their inner core remained alive and fresh. They will always weather the storm...Their strength was located not in the transient part if the trees, the rustling crown of adornment of branches, twigs, and leaves; their foundation was in place where weather and storms do not reach'

I am amazed at this understanding, knowing that before I just thought this holiday was about planting trees. This holiday is in the middle of the Jewish year, giving us a perfect timing to reflect on the first half and to see what we can do better for the second. I am truly thankful for these renewals that Judaism provides, G-d is always trying to give people second chances! Every morning, every week, month, half year, and year.

But besides that, quoting my halacha teacher Tamar Weissman, for the second part of this year, we should put create an incubator for ourselves. Get deep within and embrace the fruits that emerge at the end of the year...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Wolf parrallels

As I expected, this new years did not come with the whole bottle of champagne, the glittery mini dress, and the ringing in of the joy of a new year. It came with something way more.

At around 1030 I left the room wherever was having an Oneg for shabbat and walked onto the roof. I was pacing back and forth, hating the fact that I couldn't talk to someone on how I was feeling. Well, I could have but I didn't have the courage too. I was mad at the program for not providing alcohol that would let my guard down more to allow me to have a more emotional experience. I guess I'm admitting that substances help let people feel if they have a problem with it. After I realized that I had just made my new years resolution to figure out a way to speak up without the 'aid', I found myself pacing.

I started to feel numb. I realized that this year was going to be the first year of my life where I found happiness, and where I was going to make real use out of it, instead of only having it under my skin. I started to cry a bit, but they were definitely tears of joy. My mind started going in many directions, and since I was in the Golan Heights in the beautiful Yishuv of Chispin, I started to ponder on nature. I wondered what it would be like if I just saw a wild animal. What would it do? Would it be a cheetah-my all time favorite animal? I realized that wouldn't be rational since there aren't any cheetahs in the area. So I just imagined a wolf.

Pacing back and forth, reflecting and imaging what life was like and how it is going to be like I came toward the ledge of the roof. I peered over the side. Of course, there was an animal waiting for me down there. A large dog like animal, wolf or not, I'm going to say it was one. So this wolf was looking around I guess for food. Tail between it's legs it kept looking around to see if anything was coming for it. For about 5 minutes I watched it search until it heard something, looked up, and ran in the opposite direction. It started to pace too. I can imagine it was hesitating on 'should I go back and look or shouldn't I?' It made it's decisions and continued along its way back to where it was coming from. I wanted to follow it so I took a step closer to where it was running.

In its tracks it stopped and looked straight at me. I actually may have found myself in real meditation for this first time ever. My mind was blank. This may have been going on for 20 or 30 seconds until it continued on its path, but I just stood there,stopped in time.

After I regained my mindset back, I was pacing again. WHY DID THAT JUST HAPPEN? I thought a while about it and came to one conclusion. The wolf, was so close to coming to danger. It put itself there anyways though. It would search and search and it didn't find anything. After hearing something, it went in the opposite direction, to hesitate some more before it left. I find myself in this story coming so close to danger and walking the opposite direction. I came to so many stops along the way to getting here, but I'm here now and that is all that matters. My reflection looked at myself to remind me that I will get to where I want to be no matter how hard it is going to be.

If you haven't heard this before, hear it now and hear it strong. Only when you can look yourself in the eyes and be satisfied, will you know that you are reaching your potential...