Friday, July 28, 2006

Weaving and learning to be in the Moment

I have been wanting to blog for weeks now. I either did not have time or what I wanted to say seemed so unimportant. With everything that is happening somehow talking about anything other than the spiritual, seems utter vanity. Yet, I struggle with that also thinking to myself, "Is it really such a bad thing to talk about my knitting struggles and roving cravings?" (roving is wool carded and ready to spin) Truth be told, the Baal Shem Tov teaches us that everything can be raised to a level of kedusha (holiness) so I just need to find the spirituality in all my projects.
Right before the Nine Days (The beginning of the Jewish Month of Av until the 9th day of Tisha B'av) I started a tapesty weaving. I have to say that weaving and spinning are for sure my absolute favorite things to do. Unlike any other handwork I enjoy, such a sewing and knitting, when I weave I am not so caught up in the goal of completing the project so much as I am caught up in the actual doing. There is a total serenity that comes over me as I weave and spin. In my incredibly busy life, weaving brings me back to the core of who I am. As I 'color' my picture with my yarn, the back and forth motion reminds me so much of prayer. Rocking gently, my heart either bubbling over with joy or broken with sorrow, I find great comfort there. I play the warp like a harp as my fingers guide the bobbins. Line upon line the picture begins to form, from the bottom up, and only I know what I the end result will be. As I pack the weft tightly together, to the outsider it seems I've made little to no progress, but I truly know the reality of how far I have come. To me the joy is in the creating, the bliss is in the potential beauty I see there. I see the end result in my mind and yet it does not speed my work. I am not eager to complete, I am simply content to do and be.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Breslov and Chabad on the front lines

A New Generation of Israeli Soldiers Confronts the Unknown Across the Lebanon Border
General NewsWebby25 July 2006

An Israeli tank near Avivim, Israel, passed Hasidic men showing support in a “mitzvah tank” van.

ISRAEL’S NORTHERN BORDER — Ohad, 22, is a narrow-faced warrior who has spent four years in the Israeli Army and operated tanks in the Palestinian territories, tough duty for any soldier. But going across the Lebanese border brought a new set of anxieties.

Having worked on the border before, he was familiar with the Hezbollah fighters he would be facing. Hezbollah positions and Israeli positions had been close enough for soldiers on each side to recognize the faces on the other, he said. But southern Lebanon itself was a forbidding place, known only from the hearsay of past wars.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “When you go to fight in a new territory that you only know from stories or pictures, it’s scary.”

Ohad, a taciturn man, did not seem to notice when a Katyusha rocket slammed with a blast into a nearby hillside, leaving a faint contrail and a plume of smoke and dust.

He grew up in a small religious community in the Galilee. Like most Israelis, he entered the army when he was 18. He has been married for a month but has not seen his wife since just after the wedding. They live in a tiny apartment in Lod, a town near Tel Aviv.

Last Thursday, Ohad, who like other soldiers was prevented from giving his last name by Israeli military rules, found out what the other side of the border was really like.

As a second lieutenant, he was in command of one of the Israeli tanks that clanked into the mountaintop village of Marun al Ras before sunrise on Thursday. It was the army’s first ground penetration into Lebanese villages in territory from which it said rockets had rained over northern Israel for more than a week.

Just minutes after entering the village, before he and his three-man crew could aim at anything, the tank was rocked by a deafening explosion that sent sparks and smoke shooting through the cramped space inside. An antitank missile had penetrated the tank’s rear corner, wounding the gunner.

They pulled the tank back and moved the wounded soldier into an empty building from where he could be evacuated.

Then they went back to help with a tank that had been disabled in the attack. They took two soldiers who were more seriously wounded than their gunner back to the border and then returned with a new gunner to get back into the fight.

It was the first time Ohad or any of his crew had experienced serious combat. They stayed in Lebanon only about 10 hours. Five Israeli soldiers died that day, one of the Israeli Army’s worst days yet in the conflict.

The resistance was “very strong,” Ohad said. “Hezbollah was well prepared for us.”

Ohad said he called his wife to say goodnight before going into battle, and called her when he came out to say he was O.K. As for crossing the border again, he said: “I’m more worried because we’ve been hit once and now we know their capability. But no one died, and so I’m reassured because the tank saved our lives.”

Right then, his tank’s radio warned of incoming rockets. He climbed aboard and called for his crew to get in. Moments later, the tank was rumbling and rattling in a cloud of dust as the soldiers moved it into position on the crest of a hill overlooking the Lebanese border.

Ohad peered through binoculars, giving instructions to his gunner as the tank barrel turned to the right, zeroing in on its target. It was time for reporters to leave.

Later, at a junction near the border, civilians came and went, offering encouragement to the young troops gathered there. An ice cream truck made several visits, its driver handing out vanilla ice cream cones to anyone who wanted one. Several rabbis canvassed the soldiers, looking for men wanting to pray.

Rabbi Eliyhu Benatar, with a graying beard and wide-brimmed black hat, helped wrap the young men’s left arms and foreheads with tefillin, ritual leather straps that hold in place small black boxes containing biblical scriptures. “God help us,” he said. One of the soldiers who sought the rabbi’s assistance was Gal, 20, from Ramat Hasharon, near Tel Aviv. He is a medic in a paratrooper unit but had been sent here to help evacuate wounded soldiers. “If something happens, another doctor and I go in a tank to take the wounded out,” he said.

He had scrambled into his tank several times in the past few days, but had not yet crossed the border. At each alarm, he said, he was gripped by an initial anxiety, which dissipated as soon as he got in the tank. “I’m waiting,” he said. “I want to be useful.”

This is the first real fight for most of the army’s young men, who seem uniformly tall and lanky. None of them have ever fought outside the country, and there is an unspoken but palpable sense that this is their war.

“If you asked me two weeks ago whether I would be standing here waiting to go into Lebanon, I would have said, ‘what are you talking about,’ ” Gal said. “But I’m here, and I’m used to it now.”

A tank repair team was busy, slamming a tank tread with a sledgehammer. “We’ve lost a few tanks,” a member of the repair team said.

A plume of smoke appeared a few miles away, marking the impact of a Katyusha rocket. It slowly built into a skein of white tilting across the sky as the pine forest around it caught fire. Yellow firefighting planes soon swooped and climbed, dropping a red fire-retardant over the flames.

“Mitzvah tanks,” the brightly painted minivans operated by adherents to the Chabad-Lubavitch branch of Hasidic Judaism, arrived at the junction in the afternoon, broadcasting a sort of Hasidic disco. Their passengers, young men in Hasidic dress with wildly flowing sidelocks, spilled out of the vans dancing and singing, some leaping onto the tanks.

“We’re here to entertain the troops,” a man with a footlong beard shouted from atop one of the vans.

Another group handed out white knit skullcaps bearing the words “Nachman of Uman” in blue Hebrew letters, a reference to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the founder of another Hasidic branch. “They protect the soldiers’ lives,” one of the Nachman followers said of the caps. When asked what he thought of the fighting, he summed up what many Israelis are saying these days.

“It’s because of our own foolishness,” he said. “We left Lebanon six years ago and let Hezbollah do whatever they wanted, and this is the result.”

[ Ed Note: The Times seems to have merged the Lubavitch Mitzvah Tanks with the Breslov Chasidim's Simcha Van's. Interesting observation.]

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Rebbe Nachman and "Measure for Measure"

God repays man "measure for measure". Nowhere is the repayment more exacting than in the Land of Israel. But this is really a great kindness. If we know that God repays us according to our deeds, then by thinking about the situation God sends us, we can gain an insight into our own behavior and learn how to improve.

Rebbe Nachman: Advice, Land of Israel, 14

More Live from Tsfat

This is from Rabbi Moshe's blog. Rabbi Moshe is still in the Holy City of Tsfat and is reporting us what is happening now. Please send help (prayers and tzedakah) as they desperately need us!


The people that have stayed are warn out. Those that left are miserable and homesick, temping to return. The streets are empty. I don’t think people realize that they must help the evacuated Jews that left and those that remain. People are really troubled. A couple of houses have been broken into. We are seeking more tefillos that we can return to a normal life which will take weeks now.

I just took my son to doctor, he has an ear infection. On the main street I saw windows broken from the noise of the rockets. I saw one building that had an entire floor blown off. The english bookstore was open, a big suprise! I got two books for the kids. All day he had about two people come in. Nothing else was open really. Banks were closed, local post office closed, stores closed. Angels bakery was open and people were sitting around talking outside. I met a friend of mine there. I saw a for sale sign on one store. I was told some people who were not attached to Tzfat are planning on moving out and many stores will close from the lack of business for 2 weeks and tourism is finished for a long time. On the streets coming home, I saw cars with blown out windows. A beautiful BMW with no back window. I just found out that a friend of mine who is a taxi driver remained so i am going to take the family to a park later. Maybe do another Torah video for you all!

He told me that people paid up to 2,000 sheckles to get a taxi to Jerushayim and he is charging his normal price but its ashame many were overcharged. So my friends, anyone want to help the people of Tzfat? I was told by someone who just got back from jerushalayim that the people there think we got hit by about 3 rockets and its not a big deal. Try about 40-60!!!!!!

12:15 Tzfat hit by 3 bombs, I don’t want to say were they right after as these guys are monitoring news and media to know how their aim is but doesn’t appear anyone was hurt.

Please Help the Poor of Tsfat

This was over on A Simple Jew's blog:

from R'binyomin Rosenberg

The situation in Tzfat is desperate and there are families living with no electricity, who have absolutely no food at all! Even if they tried to buy some, most stores are closed. Ezer L'Shabbos is getting food from a supermarket on credit, but can't for much longer without paying. They also have to pay to have it delivered since most of their volunteers have left Tzfat. Sadly, the most vulnerable - large families with small children, Baali Teshuva without family support systems, are the ones left behind and are suffering. Please make checks out to Ezer L'shabbos and get them to Shloma Edelstein or drop them off in the mailbox or Pushka at Rabbi Twerski's shul (Ateres Shloime- corner of E29th & K).

You can also mail checks made out to Ezer L'Shabbos to: Tzfat Emergency Fund c/o Ordinal, 1412 Avenue M #2467, Brooklyn NY 11230.


Monday, July 17, 2006


As always Rabbi Brody is on the cutting edge of the real news! Here is the latest:

Israel's secret weapon: Emuna News is now exposing Israel's newest secret weapons, hidden in Northeast USA:

Meet the Jewish people's newest Baalei Tshuva, Yitzi and Rachamim C., ages 7 and 9, who are making tshuva so that Hashem will save their people. How can Hashem refuse these two? They've completely conquered my heart. They've convinced mama Leah to kosher her kitchen and to observe the Sabbath. They have committed to saying Shma at night, washing their hands in the morning, saying their blessings, wearing kippot, eating Kosher, keeping Shabbat, and learning Torah. In their merit, G-d willing, we're going to beat the daylights out of Iran and Hizbolla. Our victory is assured now.

Personal note: these little Tzaddikim are extra special to me. I have been personal witness to thier struggles and growth and their very intense and real love of Hashem. May our family continue to have more nachat from these amazing neshamot!

Just a little Emunah

My beloved friends Rabbi Shalom Pasternak, his wife and their two children live in the holy city of Tsfat. They raise their children with yirat shamayim and an eagerness for the coming and imminent geulah. The proof of this was when the bombing started. There oldest daughter Emunah (around three years old, BA"H) asked her Tatty something like this (I cannot remember the exact quote) , "Is Moshiach coming now?" Her humor is good and calm. She was excited to stay with friends over shabbat and simply said they there because the bombs keep going "BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!" Oy...what we should all be learning from these children. Little Emunah has so much to teach us. She is so aptly named.

What is it going to take for us to pray? What is it going to take for us to lay aside the trivial and frivolous? When are we going to truly cry out to Hashem? If not now, when? Dear family and friends I ask myself this question first and foremost. What am I going to do about this? Do I REALLY understand the gravity of this situation? Am I hearing and listening to the message?

My children want to leave so badly. They are so unhappy here. Their hearts are still tightly bound in Eretz Israel. How I wish we were all there. My family is concerned and does not want either of them to go back. How could I prevent them? Do I even want to? The Lubavitcher Rebbe has said that the land of Israel is the safest place. Strangely enough, in spite of the news reports I agree with him. Who knows better, the media or the Tzaddikim? My money will always lie with our Tzaddikim.

The war of Gog and Magog has begun and it is the war on our Emunah. Our teshuvah, tefillot and tzedakah are the strongest, most effective bombs that can be dropped.

Live Blog from Tsfat!

Please pray for the safety of my beloved friends Rabbi Moshe, Rochel and thier children who remain in the holy city of Tsfat. Here is the link to their blog to see what is currently happening.
Rabbi Moshe's Blog

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The True Weapons of War

Breslov Hassidim Distribute ‘Tikun Klali’ Prayer in the North
05:49 Jul 16, '06 / 20 Tammuz 5766

( Hundreds of hassidim, followers of the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, on Saturday night began distributing specially printed copies of the ‘Tikun Klali’ prayer that they recite daily.

Leading the campaign is Breslov hassid Binyamin Ze’evi, a son of assassinated government minister, Rechavam Ze’evi.

Reprinted courtesy of Arutz Sheva News

Note From Philly: Tikun Ha Klali are these ten psalms recommended by Rebbe Nachman as a General Remedy. A powerful and true weapon to be sure!
16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, 150

You wanna help Israel?????

Then do what the Melitzer Rebbe has advised all of us to do:

"The Melitzer said that each of us now must try to be a little bit better in our service of Hashem in order to invoke Divine compassion."

Rabbi Brody says this means all of us! Jews and non-Jews, unaffliated, Orthodox, and everyone in between. No matter where you are holding right, now please take on a mitzvah and do it to the best of your abilty. To all my beloved Noahide friends please do the same! We need you, we need each other and Israel needs us. Hashem is calling to us and the call is do teshuva now! This is a way to do this, showing Hashem our love and sincerity.

May we soon hear good news, may Hakodosh Baruch Hu watch over and protect all His children and may we soon hear the call of the shofar announcing our righteous Moshiach and may it be TODAY!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

On the Ninth of Tammuz...

...not too many years ago, a small neshama descended to the earth to a beautiful young lady and a handsome young man and became their little girl. This neshama chose this lady to be her mother even though she would only remain on the planet for another five months loving and caring for her. When her mother left this realm, the little girl would be cared for by grandparents for two and a half years. Finally a very special lady would marry the little girl's father and care for the neshama as her very own child.

Thus began my sojourn here on earth. Today is my Yom Huledet, my birthday. Since the time of my arrival I have been through a lot, just like the rest of you. I have had my share of heartbreaks and joys and I have crossed many a narrow bridge. I have seen things a child should never see, or a grown up for that manner. I have had joys that I thought I would die from because of the sheer ecstasy! I have cried tears that I was sure I would drown in because I did not think I could not stop. I have danced with my children and fallen asleep with them lying on my chest. I have felt my son's scruffy beard and wondered where the baby cheeks went. I have watched my little girls grow from wanting to be "The Little Mermaid" and "Anne of Green Gables" when they grow up, to blossoming into beautiful young ladies who burn with the love of Torah. I have been married and have been alone. I have been a single parent and have had more children in my home and helped in their upbringing than to whom I have given birth to. I have walked away from G-d, screamed at Him, bargained with Him, pleaded with Him, shook my fists at Him, told Him to leave me alone, only to run back to Him with tear filled eyes knowing He was the only one who could truly understand and help me. I have been many people and lived many places. Sometimes I think to myself there is no way I could have lived a past life, I have lived them all this time around! All in all I would have to agree with Gerry Garcia, "What a long strange trip it's been."

I know I have so much more to learn, in so many ways I still feel much like a child. Other days I feel old and tired. I have grown in gratitude and serenity. I have learned that Hashem loves me dearly and only wants what is best for me. I am beginning to learn that Hashem really does have all things under His control and really does not need my help in running the universe. I have learned that being a mother is not for cowards. I have learned that women can birth their own children, teach and raise them. I have learned that for whatever reason G-d in His wisdom gave my children to me which means I must have somewhere the capability of raising them. I have learned that there is an awful lot to learn from your children and one of the best ways to learn how to be a parent is to see how G-d raises you up, patience, loving kindness, discipline and all. I have learned children grow up and it is a wondrous thing. I have matured enough not to buy into other people's unsolicited opinions on how I raise my children, how I dress, live my life, what I eat etc. I am grateful I do not buy into people assuming the position of fortune teller in my life (i.e. wait until the children turn 13, 16, 18 etc. then you'll have trouble, chas v' shalom!) I have learned not to accept people's poison into my life or make their personal issues mine. (I have enough of my own, thank you!) I have learned to speak life and hope to others and pray they will pass it along. I am learning to accept correction, whether it is given in love or not, knowing G-d allowed it for some reason. (Even if it was to learn how not to talk to another person.) I have learned to how say I am sorry very well. I have learned to have a broken heart over my sins especially if I have hurt another by what I did. I have learned that to have a good marriage you actually have to work at it and be committed. I have learned I do not have to change my beloved nor do I want to, he is an amazing tzaddik and the perfect man for me! (Otherwise why would I have married him?) I have learned that being a Torah Jew is very hard work and it is unbelievably fulfilling and exciting. I am learning that having a relationship with G-d means fearing Him and loving Him. It also means doing what He says to do and loving all of His other children. I have learned that G-d does not wield a magic fairy wand waiting to grant your wishes. When you say you want to trust Him, He will put you in situations where you will have to learn to trust G-d. Sometimes that means closing your eyes and holding on for dear life. I have learned that the truth is 'two Jews, three opinions'. I have learned that halacha is confusing sometimes and beautiful all the time. I am learning that tefilla (prayer) is my breath, torah is my food, the mitzvot are exercises to help me grow strong and chassidut is the blood that transports all the nutrients to the different parts of my neshama. I am learning to look for G-d in everything. He really is there in the mist. I am learning to respect others the way I want to be respected, knowing they have a path that might be different from my own and my job is only to help them draw closer to Hashem and His holy Torah. I have learned I do not need to give you directions, I just need to shine the light in the darkness. I am learning to talk less and be an example more. I am learning to bloom where I am planted and to hold on tight to the Truth. I have learned that I can be no one else but who Hashem made me to be. I need not apologize for it. I have learned that it takes an awful lot of energy and that it's very hard work learning to become the Village Wise Woman. I am also learning that I still need to grow in so many ways, refining my character and becoming all that G-d has made me to be.

I have a birthday wish for you all my family, friends and the miscellaneous nice people who visit my blog, a blessing if you will receive it.
You should all have good health and long life, you should grow in torah, mitzvot and deveykut (cleaving) to Hashem. I pray those who need them find and make good shidduchim. Those who are married should fall deeper in love. Those married without children should be granted their hearts desire and those with children should raise them to torah, mitzvot and to the chuppah. That they should bring you much nachat! That you should have the parnasa that you need with some extra to give tzedakah and to get some of the fun things you want. That you should all grow from strength to strength, hastening the soon and coming geulah may it be in our day, with the coming of our righteous Moshiach, the rebuilding of the beit HaMikdash and the return of all of the exiles to our home in Eretz Israel, may it be speedily and in our time. Amen v' Amen.

Please say tehillim for Gilad ben Aviva, and may he be returned safely to his family.
Please pray that the Hakadosh Barukh Hu will not allow the 'World Pride' parade from defiling the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Reality Checks

If you have not been over to Lazer Beams yet, you need to check it out! Rabbi Brody keeps us all aware of the real news and reality checks we need to hear. The coming guelah (redemption) is so close! We all need to wake up to what is happening and hear the messages!

"In Israel, you won't need the second car. Public transportation in Israel is convenient and inexpensive. So is education. If you have four children in Yeshivas or Beis Yakovs, you'll be saving close to $50,000 a year by coming to Israel. You can't imagine the sweetness and satisfaction of every minute over here; if I get started on that subject, I'll be writing all night long."
~~~Rabbi Lazer Brody

State of New Jersey shut down?!

This is incredible! Because of budget disputes the state of New Jersey has been shut down. Check it out here.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Happenings in my side of the Universe

1. My beloved children both arrived safely in JFK airport on the 20th of June from Eretz Israel. It was such an amazing time of anticipation for their father and I. We were both so nervous (can you imagine?) and so excited about them getting back! As we were waiting for them to come out of customs, I wondered what they would look like, how they were going to do with reentry, how tired would they be, etc.? After waiting for what felt like hours and hours we finally saw them. They there were, Ya'akov my yeshiva bochur and Racheli radiating Tsfat, it was amazing! After my initially squeals, hugs and kisses, we started for our journey back to Philly. It was all so strange to them and ironically foreign. Their father asked if they were happy to be home and he was answered with dead silence from the back seat. I looked at him and laughed, "What kind of question is that? Ask if they are happy to see us?"
"Well, are you happy to see us?" He was quite relieved by the zealous "Yes!" that resounded from the back seat! So far they seem to be doing well, Ya'akov busy getting his learning seder set up and Racheli doing her best to recover from jet lag. She misses her friends very much so I am sure that adds to it. What are they going to do from here? Only Hashem knows for sure. They both want to return to Eretz Israel, and B'ezrat Hashem they will.

2. I am teaching ballet again! Yippee! It is so much fun to teach the little ones again. I taught many years ago and quite honestly figured those days were done. Well, thankfully I was wrong. It all started with one mommy asking if I knew anyone who taught ballet. I said, yes as a matter of fact I do, me! She was so pleased and we started talking about the possibilities of teaching dance to some girls. I am happy to say I have two classes now, pre-ballet and ballet 1!

3. Along with everything else I try to squeeze in to learn, I am busy trying to keep up with my doula skills. G-d willing, I will have a new mommy this month and I am so looking forward to attending this birth. This lady is a special friend of mine and it is an honor for me to have been chosen to be her doula. But, truth be told, being a doula is an incredible honor and privilege.

4. My little one that I care for is growing and talking by leaps and bounds! I do not have her as often now since mommy is a work at home mommy, when I do have her (about twice week now) she keeps me on my toes! She is a real snuggle bunny and quite generous with her hugs.:::sigh::: I really love my jobs!

5. For the past two weeks we have had a little one staying with us. What a delight he is, but as all young mothers know, what hard work! He is a very bright and busy fellow who is filled with the simcha of life! Thank G-d, I have help with my girls but along with the other day to day goings on, classes, shopping, and general happenings it makes for a full life for all.

Overheard in the rooms...

The hole in your soul was placed there by G-d to be filled by G-d.