Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Erez Levanon OB"M

I just read about the great loss klal Israel has experienced with the murder of the tzaddik Erez Levanon, ob"m. I read about how he was in hitbodedut in the forest near Bat Ayin when this atrocity occurred. As I read of his simple life dedicated to Hashem, his Rebbe (The Holy Rabbi, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov) and to all his brothers and sisters in Israel I wept and wept. I was again humbled as to what my life is and who I really am. There I read the testimony of his joy and devotion. Testimony of his commitment to Hashem's children by spending summers in India to bring the lost sheep of Israel home to Judaism. As you can see by this picture, that truly is worth a thousand words, you see how this man was truly a tzaddik dedicated to his community's most valuable assets. We have all deeply suffered a great loss. May his martyred death not be in vain. May his sacrifice draw my heart to true teshuvah. May his life of example always remind me what is really important. May his devotion spark my own and bring me to a life that is filled and overflowing with love of Hashem, love of His holy Torah and miztvot, love and attachment to the Tzaddik and true love of my fellow Jew. This is my prayer for me and for you my dear friends. May his sacrife bring us all closer to the coming of Moshiach, mamosh bimheirah b'yameinu.

Note: Picture is taken from Rabbi Lazer Brody's site.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A 'laugh at myself' story for Adar

It is not my custom to wear shietels. I always cover my head, but my beloved and I prefer I wear scarves. That doesn't mean I haven't acquired a couple of shietels over the past few years. When I decided that it was wrong for them to just sit in my closet, I discovered a couple of ladies in my neighborhood, whose custom it is to wear shietels, were in need of them. I gave one my hat fall and the other I gave my sheitel too. The fall was fine to go but I wanted to wash and set the sheitel for my friend. When I just about had it ready, I called my friend and asked if she would mind picking it up after she dropped her child off at preschool. She told me it was no problem and that she would pull up in front of the house and honk the horn. She has a two year old (BA"H) and is due (B'ezrat Hashem) in a week, so with the snow and ice we thought it best just for me to run it out to her. As I was putting the finishing touches brushing out the hair on the sheitel I heard a horn beep. Not wanting her to wait I quickly grabbed the head model with the sheitel and frantically ran out of the house and stood on my porch. I could not see her car so I looked left and right holding the sheitel like some ridiculous frum head hunter! Where was she?! Finally I looked across the street to see my neighbor's ride to work waiting for him. I sheepishly walked back in to my house and told my daughter my story. We both laughed and laughed! Within a couple of minutes I heard another horn beep but this time I went to the door calmly and peeked out the window to be sure that this time it was my friend. It was. °Ü°

Happy Adar!!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Warning: Adar is here and Yetzer Ha'ra is hard at work

משנכנס אדר מרבים בשמח 'Mishenichnas Adar marbin b'simcha' (as Adar approaches, we increase our level of simcha). Adar is here and so we are supposed to increase our level of simcha (joy). But guess what, it don't come easy. So what's the flip side? Our yetzer also knows that it is the month of Adar and is hard at work trying to steal this simcha from us. Around every corner it is there waiting to try and steal joy from you.

So what do you do? Hold on tight man! Don't let go of your joy for anything. If you feel it slipping from you, laugh in the yetzer's face and grab it back! And then sing and dance and thank Hashem that He gave you the strength to do it!

I was in the marching band in High School (yes, Philly was a Band Geek ;-) ) in the 'Silk squad', y'know the really big flags that you twirl around and throw in the air. Well, I remember one day while we were out practicing for the upcoming homecoming parade, a football player from our rival school came out of nowhere and tried to steal my flag from me. He grabbed it and pulled with all his strength, I imagine thinking this would be an easy trophy to capture and display at school the next day. Let me tell you, I held onto that flag for dear life, so much so that he drug me across the concrete and I hurt my knee badly in the process. He finally gave up when he realized I was not letting go. I was a little bruised in the process but I still had my flag!

What was this flag? What did it really mean? The only thing I can figure is that it was mine, and I was not about to allow some rival football player to steal it from me and then brag about how he got it!

Well, isn't my joy much more precious! Isn't Adar more important than any parade. Who knew Hashem was preparing me for this month back when I was only 15 years old. So here I am now passing on this message to you all, hold on tight to your flags of simcha! Keep your joy! You may end up a little bruised in the process but hey, at least you'll still have your flag to wave proudly and high!

PS. Thank you to my beloved sis "N," who reminds me to laugh, at myself and in the face of my many sparring partners. Gam zu l'tovah! Mitzvah Gedolah, baby!!!!

Beings that I am farmgirl after all...

I should let you know about Progressive Farmers all new Best Places to Live in Rural America. Not surprisingly Lancaster County Pa is not even listed. It is getting so built up with tourist places and shopping outlets that there is less and less farmland. Granted there is still some but I heard through a friend of mine in Lancaster that many of the Amish are selling their one farm and going to Kentucky and purchasing TEN! That tells you how VERY expensive the land is there in Lancaster. This is one of the reasons that many of the Amish have started their own business in carpentry etc.

Anyway, the places are gorgeous and if you are here in the U S of A and are looking for a rural town to live in, by all means check this out. There are still many wonderful places there for those of you who are ready to leave the concrete jungle. But I gotta tell ya', even though I think these places are beautiful and I am all for the small town, this gypsy/farmgirl won't even consider moving right now unless she is moving to Eretz Israel! I want to take all the skills I have been learning to Eretz Israel and do something there. Hard work...oh yes, I know! And I also know you can't farm Tsfat but how about a moshav nearby?

You coming with?

Monday, February 12, 2007


In the words of the late Bob Marley...

Don't worry
About a thing
Cuz every little thing
Is gonna be alright! think he ever read about Rebbe Nachman? ;-)

Some jokes to make us laugh at ourselves...

These are all from A Simple Jew's blog, I thought I would help spread the smiles around!

Moshiach arrives and, together with the simple Jews begin to dance ecstatically in the streets.The Litvaks run home to get their gemorras and all their shailas for the Moshiach. The Chassidim dash off to the mikve and change into their long frock coats.

Quickly the Litvaks (with their gemorras and shailahs in hand) and the Chassidim (with their peyos still dripping) hurry back to join the crowd of dancing Jews.

The Moshiach spots them there and turns to one of the simple Jews and asks, "Who are they?"

"Them?" replies the simple Jew, "It's OK. They're Jews too!"

(Told to me by Shlomo Carlebach)


A Chassid and a Misnaged were sitting next to each other in front of an open Gemara, learning together in chavrusa. The chassid looks over at the Misnaged and excitedly says, "Do you see this!!!? It says, 'They said about Yonason ben Uziel, that when he sat and studied Torah, any bird that flew over him burst into flames.'"

The Misnaged, apparently not impressed, responds, "Nu, so what is your point?"

The Chassid repeats the line once again, "They said about Yonason ben Uziel, that when he sat and studied Torah, any bird that flew over him burst into flames."

Sitting stone-faced, the Misnaged responds, "So......"

Exasperated at his chavrusa's indifference, the Chassid explains, "Can you imagine the deveykus of this tzaddik?? He learned with such intensity and fervor that a pillar of fire shot out of the sefer before him and incinerated the birds flying over him! You are not impressed with this??"

The Misnaged responds, "Why would I be impressed with this?? I want to know whose birds they were and how much the owner gets in damages!"


A Two Chassidim, a Chagas'nik (please don't shoot me for saying that -it's the way a Vizhnitzer told me the joke) and a Chabad'nik were speaking about the different ways in which they serve Hashem.
The Chagas'nik said that every night he fills up a kelishke of vodka and places it next to his bed . . . in the morning he said modeh ani, washes negel vasser, and then says l'chaim to the Aibishter.
The Chabad'nik is shocked.
"What's wrong," the Chagas'nik asks him.

"How can you sleep if there's mashke next to you bed?" replied the Lubavitcher.


When HKB"H gave us the Torah at Sinai three things happened:

1. The Yekkes (German Jews) came early, and got the Derech Eretz (Derech Eretz Kodma LeTorah).

2. The Litvaks came exactly on time and got Torah.

3. The Chassidim were so awed that HKB"H was giving them this gift they spent great amounts of time preparing themselves, and thus, arrived late (as Chassidim do) missing the entire thing. But there was great joy and closeness with G-d after kabbolas haTorah... and that's what they got!


There is an old joke: When the Moshiach comes and brings peace to the world, the Litvaks will realize that the Chassidim also "know how to learn," and the Chassidim will realize that the Litvaks also believe in G-d!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Avoiding Anger

The Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, Spain-Egypt, 1135-1204), in Hilchot Dei'ot (2:3; listen to audio for precise citation), elaborates on the evil nature of anger and the need to distance oneself from this emotion to the farthest extent possible. According to the Rambam, one should train himself not to grow angry even over very important matters, regarding which we may have thought it appropriate to respond angrily. And when a person finds it necessary to show anger for the purpose of instructing his children or other people his authority, he should display anger only outwardly, but remain in full control of his emotions internally. The Rambam cites a number of comments from the early Sages emphasizing the gravity of anger, including, "Whoever becomes angry is considered as if he worshipped idols." A scholar who becomes angry loses his knowledge, and a prophet who becomes angry loses his prophetic capabilities. The Rambam goes so far as to say that "Ba'alei Cheima," people who commonly grow angry, "their lives are not lives at all." Therefore, the proper way to live one's life is to accept insults and harm without responding angrily.

Later, in Hilchot Teshuva (7:3; listen to audio for precise citation), the Rambam writes that the obligation of Teshuva (repentance) applies not only to those who have committed forbidden acts, but also to those with faulty character traits. A person with a tendency to anger, jealousy, greed, lust for honor, and gluttony, must repent from the given trait even if he has committed no specific, forbidden act. The Rambam observes that repentance is generally more difficult to accomplish in cases of improper character traits than in situations of a specific act. It is far easier to resolve never to repeat a given action than to change a mode of conduct to which one has grown accustomed, making this kind of Teshuva particularly difficult.

It therefore behooves us to ensure never to grow angry, and to conduct serious, sincere introspection and Teshuva to repent for all situations where we became angry.

Note: this is taken form the website TO listen to the clip click here.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Sitting in the waiting room

In this life a woman does a lot of waiting. She could be waiting at a doctor's office, her mechanic's, the bank, in her car, etc. A Wise Woman always has things with her that she can work on if she finds herself in a waiting room. This woman will never have idle hands. She will either be balancing her checkbook, writing lists, knitting, crocheting, quilting... you get the picture.

Now I am sorry to tell you, I am not yet one of these women. I try to be. I do often shlep something with me to work on. I may not always pull it out, but I do have it with me, just in case.

OK, so what is the point of all this.

Well, right now I am in the waiting room of Hashem's will. I have no idea what He wants me to do, why He has set me to do the tasks He has and what He wants from me. I have desires burning in my heart and sometimes I think they may consume me. I long and pine to be in the Land but the time for this is not now. I pray soon, but meanwhile I need to focus on where I am and what I am supposed to do.

The tasks Abba has given me I never asked for nor do I recall wishing for them. He literally just plopped these things in front of me and said,"Do this." There has been much joy in this journey, but there has also been a lot of hard work and not just a little pain.

I feel lost sometimes and uncomfortable in what I am doing. I don't know how I can do all that He has asked of me, and I don't know if that is even what He wants. I may not have to complete these tasks but meanwhile I still have jobs to do.

It is frustrating to not know. It is so hard to work in the dark.

That is just it, it is so dark here. Everywhere is darkness and my eyes hurt from the strain. Sometimes I am blessed with a shimmer, a spark that calls to me. I run to it and warm myself, but then...then I get called away. My tasks call me and I cannot see all that I know must be hidden there. Oh, how I cry! I just want to remain by the small fire and warm myself. I long to see what is really behind all the shadows that I find and see what is the reality. But no, I am not allowed at this moment to do so. Perhaps, I need to strain a bit more, work harder to see, but I get so tired and I want to just rest there.

Sometimes I become discouraged and content myself with the darkness and I remain still or worse yet, I flounder about in it walking aimlessly from this to that. The Tzaddik comes to me leading be back home after I inevitably crumple in a heap somewhere feeling like I am lost for good. "Do not give up, it is forbidden." He says.

I am reminded that 'wait' does not mean 'no.'

Sitting in the waiting room does not mean that nothing is getting done. In fact much is being accomplished, I just cannot see it. The darkness around me need not affect me if I take one step at a time as Hashem shines a light. It may not be the blazing light of the sun, but a small lamplight to guide me one step at a time. The treasures may not be overflowing and abundant as they are in the Land, but oh, when they are found here in the dark after digging so long and do deep they are most precious indeed.

Hashem's voice is always there wooing me home.

So I must be like the Wise Women and not allow my hands to become idle.

Hashem has given me tasks to do while I am waiting and so I shall endeavor to do my best. With His help I shall be a faithful servant child and wait a bit longer remembering that 'not now' does not mean 'no.'

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Learning that Hashem is King

I once heard of a man who was in dire need of money. He was a man of emunah and asked a rabbi if it would still be keeping with emunah to buy lottery tickets. The rabbi responded saying that to buy one ticket would be fine because who knows if that was how Hashem would bless him with the money he needed. But if he bought more than one, that would be playing the odds and not keeping with emunah at all. It doesn't matter how many tickets are out there, Hashem is King and all He needs is one.

Here in Philadelphia there have been a couple of back to back ladies functions which included a Chinese auction and a raffle. I am not so into such things since I seem to not have such 'luck' with them, but one was offering a trip to Israel and I am always up for a way to get back home. So with the above story in my mind and a lack of fundage in my pocket I bought one ticket and put it in the trip to Israel. Well, since none of you heard me screaming with joy, you can guess I did not win the trip. Of course I was disappointed but I trusted that if Hashem wanted me to go He would have made sure that inspite of the abundance of tickets in the box, mine would have surely been the golden one. Obviously the other person who won needed to go more than I did. (I made the aside comment that the reason I did not win was because the next time I go, I am not coming back.)

OK, auction/raffle take two:

This past Sunday was the other ladies event and auction. As I browsed all the interesting and lovely items up for raffle there was one item that I really became fond of and was interested in winning. I debated and debated and the more I debated the more I wanted it. I kept peeking at the bag that the tickets went into and my odds look more than good. I thought to myself that's it, a sure thing! So I placed my ticket in, confident the prize was mine.

Very soon after, the time came to start announcing the raffle winners. I was eager to collect my prize. After all, I waited until the last minute to put my ticket in. As they announced my prize you can only imagine my shock as my mouth dropped open and they called someone else's name and ticket!

How could it be?! I really lost?! I was truly devastated. I could not believe it. I was supposed to win that prize, it was a for sure thing wasn't it?

As I dejectedly walked to my car I asked Hashem what had happened.

Why? How come?

The answer came quickly as I was reminded of the story I first shared with you.

Emunah is as emunah does.

How is it that I thought I was playing the odds? I was supposed to win right? The odds were in my favor weren't they? Wrong on both counts, because the truth is, there are no odds. Only Hashem.

Hashem made it very clear that day that He is king. It doesn't matter if there are a million tickets in there or the box is empty and you think yours stands alone. He alone ordains who wins and who loses. All He needs is one, yours or someone elses.

But who really lost? It was all for tzedakah and I learned a valuable lesson in the process. Remember all that Hashem does is good and for our good, right?

Of course right!

Monday, February 05, 2007

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

What do you do when you are on the road and your child's whining and kvetching is slowly escalating to a full blown tantrum/meltdown and Mommy is about to join in?

At that point it just about too late. You are either going to have to pull the car over and deal with the situation, which more than likely could just end in you spinning your wheels (no pun intended) or you are going to have to bag the trip and go home.

Well, as the title states this is about prevention rather than cure.

Here are several ideas that may help.

Is your child REALLY hungry or having a sugar low? Always try to have snacks and water in the car. High protein foods like peanut or soynut butter, fruit sauces (like unsweetened applesauce) and fruit cups, keep well in a car and are great at helping to regulate sugar levels if this may be a concern of yours. I would suggest nuts only if your children are much older to avoid any (G-d forbid) choking hazards. It can be amazing how a normally sweet child can become less than controlled if they have a real sugar issue.

Know your child's limits and try to work around them. How much can your child reasonably handle? When is his best time? Are you traveling at a bad time for him or you for that matter? Can the trip be arranged at a better time? For myself I hate traveling or going out at night. I would much rather travel or do errands in the morning, our children are probably the same way.

Make sure you are also refreshed and ready for the trip. Going out when you are frazzled or have had a long day only makes things worse because your patience is pretty well nil. Travel at the best time for you too.


This is an amazing post from a young lady that attended the same seminary as my daughter. She is a sold out, intelligent, 20 year old Chabadnik. I had the pleasure to meet and spend time with her last pesach in Tsfat. I was already so impressed with the caliber of girls my Racheli went to seminary with but upon reading this even more so. I think you will be too.

by Mimi
The question makes me feel awkward right away.

I hear it.

I pause.

I smile uneasily.

I stumble on my words.

I basically look totally confused.

My answer completely dodges the inquirer's real question.

I always just end up saying, “Yea, I want to get married.”

I just can’t give a yes to the dating inquiry.


The last thing I want to do is date.



When someone hears I’m 20, their response is immediate.

“So, are you dating?”

Just hearing the word “dating” sends me into complete bewilderment.

I am completely baffled, actually.


Did someone just ask me if I am dating?

Is dating something people actually do?

It’s like they know about this trendy thing that all the Jewish youth are getting into.

But, really…

Since when do Jews date?

Who invented such a thing?

I guarantee you, it wasn’t a Jew.


Because Jews don’t care about dating.

We care about finding our soul mates.

Dating just doesn’t exist in our world.

Whenever someone gets engaged, you always hear those people who say, “Wow, I had no idea that s/he was dating.”

Well, this is exactly why.

It’s because they weren’t dating.

And because they weren’t dating, they got engaged.

People who date don’t get married. They get to tour some nice hotel lobbies and drink water from fancy bottles. They sharpen their dining etiquette. They may even get to cruise in a nice rental car.

People who date meet people. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy.

But I’m not interested in meeting a boy.

You have come up to me and said, “Mimi, there’s a great guy I want you to go out with.”

But, come on.

You know I don’t “go out” with guys.

Instead of offering someone you want me to date, why don’t you offer someone you want me to marry?

Just say, “Mimi, I have someone you may want to marry.”

Nothings wrong with that.

That’s how Jews talk.


Last night, someone said to me, “You’re 20?”

“Prime age. You should find your husband very soon.”

Now you’re talking.

Yes, I am looking for my husband.

Not a guy.

Not a boy.

And most definitely not a date.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Don't let the guard fall asleep

As I said on Friday my son was in Tsfat for shabbat. He called me a little before shabbat to ask me if I would do him a favor and cancel all his credit cards for him. "What happened?!" I gasped. He proceeded to tell me that his wallet had been stolen from the Holy Ari's mikveh. I could not believe it. I got the bank phone numbers for him and told him he should try to call before shabbat and then call me back. I waited and then I decided to call him on his cell phone. Someone else picked up and I thought it was one of his friends. He spoke in Hebrew. I asked where was my son and he told me he was in the beit ha knesset. I asked if he was a friend of Yaaqov's and he said something that I did not understand. He then told me he would speak with Yaaqov and tell him I called. OK, fine, shabbat shalom. A few minutes later, my son called back to tell me everything was cancelled and I told him how I had just tried to call him on his cell phone and that I thought he was in shul. That is when he told me they had also stolen his cellphone and his pants. You can only imagine my shock and how freaked I was. I had just had a conversation with the thief! Then the whole story unfolded as he explained how they had stolen his pants and everything in them from the mikveh. A nice man gave him a long coat to walk out of the mikveh. My son also did not have a kippah so as he was walking through Tsfat wrapped in a coat, another very nice man, a Chabadnik, came along and asked him if he realized he lost his kippah.(I can only imagine he was trying not to embarrass my son any more than I am sure he already was.) My son told him the whole story and was helped further by him.

As my son is relating all this to me I am beginning to think all kinds of evil, vengeful thoughts. I share some of this with my son and he says, "No Mommy. Hashem should forgive him of his sins and let him live a long and happy life." I couldn't believe it. I felt ashamed of myself, thinking of this tzaddik of a son I merited to give birth to.

I really thought hard about it and so I decided to ask Hashem to forgive the thief and that this should be a kappara for my son. I thanked Hashem that my son was safe and for being the tzaddik that he is.

When I called his host family today they told me that my son did not let any of it get him down and he just had an amazing shabbat. I thanked Hashem again, telling Him how much I loved Him for His kindness to me and my family. My son called today and baruch Hashem he is safely back in Yerushalayim. He is well and Hashem is taking care of him.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I have been doing a lot of praying and soul searching. I realized how I had let the guard fall asleep at the gate. That I was not praying and that I need to pray more often and consistently. I also need to relearn over and over the lesson that everything, mamash, EVERYTHING Hashem does is for our good. That He loves us and only wants what is best for us.

Because of this, I put my all into shabbat this week as sadness was trying to make itself very comfortable in my heart. I bought extra food and special fruits and treats in honor of Shabbat, Tu b'shvat and our guests that were joining us. I have the custom to light candles in the merit of Tzadikkim, so along with my candle I light for Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, I also lit a candle in the merit of the Holy Ari zal of Tsfat. I am pleased to tell you we had a lovely and peaceful shabbat.

I have to also tell you the yetzer hara did take this opportunity to try and scare me into not wanting to move to Israel and especially to Tsfat. "You REALLY STILL want to go THERE?! Are you kidding? It is not safe! You see what happened? etc...yadda, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah." After a few seconds of dumbfounded silence I finally regained my composure after the pummeling I received and responded emphatically, YES!


Just for indie am I

They got this right ;-)

You Are 87% Indie

You're so indie, it's kind of amazing that you actually found your way to this quiz.
Generally, your tastes are genuinely indie... but sometimes you like something just because it's weird!

Friday, February 02, 2007


So, my son is in Tsfat this Shabbat. How kewl is that? He said there are a lot of new buildings up since the bombings. Baruch Hashem! It feels so good to know he is there. Somehow it feels like I am there too. It is like the first time he called me from the Kotel. He was so excited, so was I. I thought to myself 'he made it'! I felt like I had too. Now he is there is Tsfat and I feel I am there too. My heart is aching right now, my longing is so very intense to be home. I am praying someday soon to board the plane back home for good...but for now I am comforted to know part me is already there.