Sunday, May 29, 2011

Heart Warming...or Breaking?

The baby was crying and screaming. Help.

The toddler wanted to play, but it was time for bed.

I had a headache.

Ugh, I thought. Maybe I'm not so ready for kids now.

I warmed up the baby's bottle and placed him in the crib. I just wanted him to leave me alone and go to sleep.
But then...something happened.
He was laying down and drinking his bottle. He looked so serene. So...mushy.
My headache vanished. I dimmed the lights and turned on his crib-lullaby.

Don't leave me.
I wanted him to stay awake now, so that I could hold him in my arms.

I gently closed the door and swiftly moved across the hallway to the toddler's room.
"Me no want sleep!"
"okay, how about a book?"
I read him his favorite story. Again. And again.
Then a second book about Shabbat.
Then a third about zoo animals. Cow goes MOOOOO. Something goes BOOOOO.

He still wasn't sleepy after story-time. I remembered his father telling me "he likes when people sing to him."
So I sang.
Anything I could think of.
V'zakeini, Hamalach HaGoel, Esa Enai...
"some mo', some mo'" he echoed.

He didn't care that I was forgetting certain lyrics or sounding off key.

He clutched onto his stuffed animal and fell asleep. He looked so near perfection.

I felt tears forming in my eyes as I watched him sleep.
What's happening to me? I wondered.
Why am I crying?

At that moment, a certain degree of pure bliss hit me.

And then I felt more ready than ever before.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Emunah Essentials


I heard most of the following ideas from a fantastic & inspiring shiur by Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser.

Chazal teach us that Shamai would go out daily and seek something nice for Shabbat. He would find a nice object, like a fruit or vegetable, and say "l'kavod Shabbat" & set it aside. Then the next day, he would go out and when he would find something even nicer than what he found during the previous day, he would say "l'kavod Shabbat." And that was one of his daily goals: find something nice for Shabbat.

Hillel, on the other hand, would go out on EREV SHABBAT and simply have emunah that he would find something l'kavod Shabbat. And he would find something every week.

So, who had a higher level of emunah?
So should an individual wait to see if (s)he finds something better or take the good that he finds immediately when he finds it? Should a person wait until the last minute? What if he won't find what he's looking for?

The answer is EMUNAH!
There's a quote from Tehillim => "they trusted HaShem, and HaShem made sure they weren't embarrassed."
Chazal teach us => "the tzaddik decrees and HaKadosh Baruch Hu fulfills!"

A person has to trust in HaShem and know that HaShem is "kol yachol." He can give anything to anybody. Nothing is beyond HaKadosh Baruch Hu; He has no limits. HaShem has the ability to give us all that we want. There is NOTHING that can't happen. A person should fill his heart with emunah.

One of the three questions a person is asked when he goes to Shamayim is: "did you deal "b'emunah?"
In this context, "b'emunah" is usually defined as business/dealings. Was the person honest in business? Did he cheat? Did he lie to his customers, to his shidduch prospects, etc.
However, there's another way to intrepret "b'emunah." LITERALLY - did you deal with YOUR faith?
Did you leave your emunah the way you got it in 2nd grade, or did you try to make it deeper? Did you try to grow? Did you try to learn about wha ta person should believe? Did you try to work on your middot and hashkafah and know that everything in our lives is Hashgacha Pratit?

The reason we don't know the reasoning for everything is in order to BUILD our emunah! If we knew the reasons for everything, then we would be HaShem. He's the only One Who knows!

Each individual is a ben yechidi or bat yechida (only child) of HaShem. There is NOTHING that is impossible for Him, and therefore, a person should always speak and pray to HaShem. Even for "minute" things -- because there is nothing that we can accomplish without His help!
A person should tell HaShem the following: "this is what I'm asking for. If it's good for me, please make it happen. If not, then please don't let it happen."

And if you didn't get it, then that means it wasn't right for you at the moment. A person with big emunah knows that what happens right now or doesn't happen is hashgacha.

Chovot Halevavot teaches us that the more a person can trust in HaShem, the more HaShem will protect him.

It behooves every individual to call out to HaShem and say "HaShem, You're my Father in Heaven! There's no one ELSE who can help me! It's not that I have plans A, B, C, and D. I only have plan A - HaShem! I am completely dependent on You, HaShem!"

If one approaches life with that outlook, (s)he will notice tremendous Hashgacha Pratit in life.

You have unlimited potential once you know that your strength comes from your connection with your Creator.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tov lehodot l'HaShem!

This video captures an amazing miracle. Definitely worth watching.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Finals week is always interesting slash depressing.

It's always finals week when...

-pringles and sour sticks are my nutritious dinner
-I wake up with raccoon-like eyes
-the sound of the printer is music to my ears
-shidduch offers begin to roll in. Weird ones, but I guess that's nothing new
-all the fun stuff is going on; weddings, bridal showers, sales @ favorite stores, etc. CAN'T Y'ALL WAIT UNTIL I'M FREE???

So yeah.

Just need to take a deep breath and remember that these are JUST tests. So, okay, my GPA is dependent on them.


Thursday, May 19, 2011


I feel oh so special.

I think I'm the only person in the world with water-proof purple liquid eyeliner on her foot.

Yes, you've read that correctly.

Yesterday, it was pouring rain outside. I ran into one of the nearest stores - sephora. For all who don't know, sephora is a relatively expensive make-up store where you can try on just about any of their products. As a result, sometimes I come out of there looking like a clown.

I saw some eccentric purple liquid eyeliner and thought "hey, why not?"

I applied it onto my eyes, and it looked kind of nice. Different from the usual black that I use. As I was looking in the mirror (oh, vanity), a lady walked by and unintentionally knocked over the liquid eyeliner.

Some of it splashed on my foot. I was wearing tan tights, and the purple went straight through the tights.
So, now, my foot has purple waterproof eyeliner on it.

It's not coming off so easiy.

I think I'm the only person in the world (1 in 6+ BILLION people) with waterproof purple eyeliner on her foot.

I'm sure it'll come off.


Otherwise, it'll have to go on my shidduch resume. Who will want to marry a girl with a purple foot???? I think there's a law that you can't go into any hotel lobby if you have a purple foot.
More restaurants? Ohhhh the pain. Oh, the agony. The torture!

But for now, I feel truly unique.

Now, off to write papers!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Say Cheeeeese

When you smile, the whole world smiles back at you.

It's true.

And even if you don't think so, at least you'll be smiling back at yourself.

Your attitude is what determines your mood. Nothing else. And nobody else.

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company...[a Synagogue]...a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes."
-Charles Swindoll

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stop Waiting! :)

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to's about learning to dance in the rain!"

Monday, May 9, 2011


One of the (countless) concepts I love about Judaism is the Torah's approach towards relationships. I think that if BOTH spouses 100% fully follow the Torah's advice (obviously, that includes Torah Sheh B'al Peh and Chazal's adivce) towards relationships & marriage, then they're bound to have a happy marriage.

I remember when I was first doing teshuva and learning about shomer negia, abstinence before marriage, hilchot nidda, the chuppah, and the obligations of a husband and wife, I was shocked. I was at awe at how beautiful and true everything really is. How much logical and emotional sense it all made.

Some time shortly before seminary, I remember learning about the concept of tzniut between a husband and wife. I didn't understand why they can't touch in public. C'mon, they were shomer negia for so long, and now they're MARRIED! Give them a break.
I didn't understand. I didn't want to listen.
Same thing happened at seminary. I saw how physically distant the religious married couples were, and I just couldn't sympathize. I always pictured a husband and wife to be showingly affectionate; not through major PDA form, but you holding hands or stuff like that.

Not too long ago, I was discussing with a friend how certain hashkafic concepts that I "rejected" during seminary, I now totally agree with. Why? Because I've experienced situations that led me to realize how truth about what my teachers and Rabbanim were preaching.

I finally noticed the emet and importance of tzniut and lack of public physical contact between a husband and wife.

I saw somebody I know who recently got married. She was always a very quiet, sweet girl. Very modest with her actions and mannerisms. She was with her husband, and they kept touching. Holding hands, hugging, etc.
I felt myself cringe. Not out of disgust or jealously. Rather, this cringe was out of discomfort. It was at that moment that I realized how important it is to conceal physical touch in public places.
1) Touch is special. It's intimate. It's reserved for the husband and wife. Alone. When one has something precious, (s)he doesn't show it off to the whole world. Rather, (s)he keeps it in a safe or private, unknown area.
2) It can easily make other people feel uncomfortable. Nobody, especially shomer-negia singles, want to see that. The only people who might appreciate the couple's lovie dovie antics are their parents and old people.
3) Sometimes it seems as if the couple is insecure in their own relationship, and therefore, feels the "need" to prove their affections to themselves by flaunting to everyone around them. I have a friend who recently got divorced. A lot of our friends were shocked because, apparently, she and her husband always posted pictures of themselves - touching, looking happy, smiling, going ice-skating, etc.
Their facebook statuses were often "I love my wife!" or "thank you so much to the best husband in the world for driving me to work today!"
6 months later...divorced.
Initially, I was also surprised and of course, upset, about the news. However, after one intently focuses on the details, it isn't so surprising that such a public relationship failed.

Just to clarify: I don't think that means couples should be cold or robotic. I just think the public affection should be kept to a minimum.

Just some food for thought.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ah, How Romantic

Some people have their favorite romantic line from a movie or novel.

Don't get me wrong. I have those too.
(Mr. Darcy, anyone?!)

The classic romantic line is usually poetic. Or it gives off the vibe of: baby, I love you. I'll do anything for you. I'll be here for you forever. And ever. I can't live without you. You inspire me. You complete me. I neeeeeed you.

You know, stuff like that.

Well, I've always been a hopeful (and sometimes...hopeless) romantic.

I'm not waiting for my date to start rattling off poetry to me or to take me for a long walk on the beach and inform me how my lovely eyes sparkle and glisten by the moonlight.

Reality is often more romantic than fiction. Why? Because reality is tangible. It leaves room for possibilties, while fiction shuts out the possibilities. A lot of people initially think it's the other way around, but no. It's not.

I've only really noticed this recently...

my engaged friend shared with me something that has now become the most romantic moment I've ever heard of.

This friend went through a lot of adversity in life and has worked incredibly hard to reach the point where she is. Without getting into too much detail, I'd say her challenging situations are not the typical challenges that a young frum girl in her early 20s has experienced.
She has worked tremendously on her middot and religious observance (that includes chessed, modesty, etc.), and she is one of the most amazing people I know.

While she was dating her husband-to-be, she knew that she had to open up and share her difficulties and life experience with him. She was very nervous because she wasn't sure how he would react or handle the information. But clearly, the information had to be conveyed to him because it's integral. If he wouldn't be understanding, their relationship would have to come to an end.

It was a winter night; dark and chilly outside. They were both sitting in his car, having a deep discussion.
This is your opportunity. You have to tell him.
And so she did.
After she shared her situation with him, she looked down. She was embarrassed; she felt tears forming in her eyes because of the painful experiences she had. She was unsure what he was thinking and nervous about his response. As she stared at the car carpet, she fidgeted around with her hands, locking and unlocking her fingers.
Before he could respond, she quietly said "I need somebody who will appreciate my struggles."

Within seconds, he looked straight at her, and with a tone of sincere disbelief said "you really think you wouldn't?"

She felt a huge sigh of relief. She had found him. Her zivug.

Those 5 words he said to her made all of the difference. He was amazed that she could even doubt that a person as beautiful and strong as herself could ever doubt that she wouldn't find somebody who would appreciate her.

For me, that was the most romantic moment I've ever heard of.
Picture the following:
here's this insecure with her history and difficulties that she has to deal with daily. She's dating for quite some time, praying and hoping for her zivug daily. Thoughts like "will I ever get married? Who will overlook my background? Who in his right mind will want to marry me?" cross her mind.
Finally, she meets a wonderful guy who posesses all of the traits she needs.
But she needs to take the relationship a step further and let him know who she really is.
So, she opens up to this guy whom she admires so much and wants to get married to and build a holy home with. However, she's nervous that she might scare him away. After she musters the strength to open up, and while shyly and insecurely looking down at her feet while almost about to cry, she's sure that he would respond harshly. She imagines the worst-case-scenario.
And then...
He tells her that he is shocked someone as amazing as she would ever dare think that she wouldn't find somebody who is sensitive and appreciative of her life. He's someone who can say "wow, this girl is so incredible. It's BECAUSE of her struggles that she was able to build herself up. It's not that she's incredible DESPITE the struggles. She used her problems as stepping stones...not stumbling blocks."

She found him. He's the perfect guy for her; he sincerely appreciates her.

Advice for all of the single folks: find somebody who appreciates and understands your struggles.
I once read that you know you've met somebody special when you open up and tell them something that you rarely share with anybody, and yet...that person doesn't run away.

Reality is way more beautiful than fantasy.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Flowers

Each Jew represents one letter in the sefer Torah. If even one letter is missing in a sefer Torah, then that sefer is pasul and can't be used. Similarly, every single member of Klal Yisrael is significant. If even one is on your hate/grude/lashon hara list, then Klal Yisrael is not complete. If there is hate among Am Yisrael, then it is as if we are creating a pasul Sefer Torah!

We are now in the mourning period during sefirat haomer. (According to some, the mouring starts in chodesh Iyar.) We remember Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students who perished because they disrespected each other. The Gmara refers to them not as 24,000 students, rather as 12,000 pairs. There's a great question about this Gmara. Why use the fancy language of 12,000 PAIRS? Why not just outright state 24,000?
A possible answer is that each individual respected his other half/pair (ie: chavruta). However, when it came to other people - the respect wasn't there.
A person's chavruta thinks similarly to him. It's easy to respect those who are similar to us and respect us. However, the challenge arises when our fellow Jew is DIFFERENT from us.

In this past week's parsha, parshat Kedoshim, HaShem teaches us the mitzvah of "v'ahavta l're'acha kamocha" - love your fellow Jew as you love yourself. It is no coincidence that this commandment falls during sefirat haomer/the mourning period. How can we deal with those who frustrate us? Be it because of personality, religious, social/ethnic clashes, etc.
-We must try to find the positive attributes in every person. Nobody is perfect, but there is also nobody who is completely flawed.
-Try to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Ask yourself - "if I were him/her, how would I feel in this situation?" Find a benefit of the doubt/zchut/excue/rationalization for their behavior.
-You do not need to AGREE with a person in order to love him/her. You can say "I neither like nor agree with the lifestyle/attitude this person has." You can love someone who is sinning, irritating, rude, etc. Hate the dreadful action, not the person.

Shavua tov u'mevurach!