Friday, May 30, 2014

By Moshe Murray ( My dear husband of 34 years)

Once more we reach my parsha in the Torah where the third aliyah that we read during the weekday, the aliyah of Yisroel, begins with “the sons of Murray!”  
I love this parsha…    


Do I detect skepticism among some of you?  The parsha plainly says: בְּנֵי מְרָרִ, that’s “b’nai,” the sons of; and mem resh resh yud, which certainly sounds like M r r y  or, in my case, Murray!   All right, so the Torah pronounces it Merari.  But all that means is that, for the gentile world, the sons of Merari gradually became Murray’s.  After all, Kohein became Cohen, nu?

However, perhaps a more important feature of this week’s parsha is not the parsha of Naso itself but, what follows. And what follows is Shavuous – one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals where all Jews were required to travel to Yerushalayim to bring Offerings to the Bais HaMikdosh, our Holy Temple.
And, Shavuous, where G-d Gave His Holy Torah to His Chosen people on Har Sinai. Where the Jewish People said: “Na’aseh v’nish’mah,” We shall do and we shall hear! This is the seminal moment of Jewish History when the Children of Israel Choose to become the Chosen People!

(For the rest of the non-Jewish world, the Christian holiday of Pentecost comes somewhere around this day, June 8th this year.This year, Shavuous begins on Tuesday night, June 3rd, and it continues on June 4th and June 5th. Pentecost, meaning the “50th day,” is the day associated with the apostles speaking in the different languages of all of the Jews that came from around the world to celebrate Shavuous in Jerusalem which is, according to the Torah, 50 days after Passover.)

I heard this story from a lawyer – I am not sure who.
He was a relatively successful lawyer and was trying a case where the next court date was supposed to be on Shavuous.  
He explained to the Judge that he could not make that court date as it was a Jewish holy day and he was not allowed to work on that day.
The Judge told him: “Mr. Lawyer.  I am Jewish.  I celebrate the Jewish holidays of Passover and Chanukah.  So don’t try and make up some story about some invented holiday that I have never heard of!”

The Judge did eventually come to find out that this was a real Jewish holiday but, that is an example of how little known is Shavuous, even to most non-observant Jews.

Nonetheless, over 3,300 years ago, Am Yisroel; the Jewish people, received the Torah at Har Sinai and formally became G-d’s Chosen People. 

Moshe Rabbeinu informs the Jewish people that G-d tells them: 
“And now, if you obey Me and keep My covenant, you shall be to Me a treasure out of all peoples, for Mine is the entire earth. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of princes and a holy nation.” 

However, we are informed that it was not that G-d Chose us, rather that Israel Chose G-d.

The Midrash tells us that G-d not only revealed Himself to the Jewish People but – to all the Nations of the world.

We learn that G-d first went to the children of Esav and asked them: “Will you accept My Torah?”
The Children of Esav answered, “What’s in it? 
Hashem said: “Thou shalt not commit murder.”
The Children of Esav said: “L-rd of the Universe, the very essence of our father Esav is that he is a murderer.  As it says, (Bereishis: 27:22) ‘And the hands were the hands of Esav,’ and (Bereishis: 27:40) ‘By the sword you shall live.’ 
L-rd of the Universe, we cannot accept Your Torah.”

G-d then went to the children of Amon and Moav and He said to them: “Will you accept My Torah?”
The Chidren of Amon and Moav answered, “What’s in it?” 
Hashem said: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
The Children of Amon and Moav said: “L-rd of the Universe, our very essence is that we come from adultery. As it says (Bereishis: 19:36), ‘And Lot's two daughters conceived from their father.’
L-rd of the Universe, we cannot accept Your Torah.”

G-d then went to the children of Yishmael and He said to them, “Will you accept My Torah?”
 The Children of Yismael answered: “What’s in it?”
Hashem said: “Thou shalt not steal.”
The Children of Yishmael said: “L-rd of the Universe, our very essence is that we live from thievery and robbery. As it says (Bereishis: 16:12), ‘his hand will be upon all, and everyone's hand upon him…’
L-rd of the Universe, we cannot accept Your Torah.”

Hashem went among all the nations of the world.  There was not a nation to whom G-d did not speak and on whose door G-d did not knock, asking them whether they wished to accept His Torah.  And every nation refused after hearing what was in the Torah.

 After G-d had spoken to all the nations of the world, G-d came to the Children of Yisroel and He said to them: “Will you accept My Torah?”
And the Childen of Yisroel said: “Na’aseh v’nish’mah; We shall do and we shall hear!”
We learn that Israel immediately pledged their loyalty to whatever Hashem wanted them to do even before they knew what was being asked of them.
This is the one seminal moment in Jewish history when the entire Jewish Nation spoke as One and proclaimed to G-d – Whatever you ask of us, we will do – even before we know what it is.
Israel Chose G-d and thereby became the Chosen People.
For most Torah observant Jews, the above is sort of “inside baseball,” a well known midrash.

However, I heard an additional understanding of “Na’aseh v’nish’mah” from one of our Kollel rabbis, Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, the other night –

Judaism is not a religion.   It is a Relationship.

“Na’aseh v’nish’mah; We will do (whatever you want) and (then) we will hear (what you want us to do)” is the Relationship that the Jewish People pledged to Hashem in their Greatest Moment at Har Sinai.
In the Torah, this Moment is referred to as the "marriage day" between G-d and the Jewish People; between Heaven and Earth.
And, for over 3,300 years, we have been trying to remember to infuse this sacred Relationship which we Chose to have with G-d into every aspect of our lives - into our own marriages.

For men, there is no more important place to remember to instill this Relationship than in marriage. “We will do and then we will hear” is, quite frankly, the opposite of my and, I suspect, many men’s responses to their wives’ requests.

G-d Chose the Jews because the Jews Chose to have this special Relationship with G-d.There is not a married couple who, somewhere inside of them, does not want this special Relationship with their spouse.
The Torah was given to us to transform our lives by taking each mitzvah; each lesson that the Torah can teach us, and applying it to every facet of our life.

For men, imagine the Relationship you could have with your wife if every time she asked you anything, your immediate response was – I will do whatever you ask, even before you tell me what it is….

May we all be zocheh to such a Relationship with our spouses and to remember that we Chose this Relationship at Mt. Sinai by proclaiming to the world that we agree to do what is necessary before we even know what it is that is necessary to do.

Gut Shabbos and Gut Yom Tov.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Age of Innocence

I am running through the tall grass on the highway meridian.  I think- I am the first and only person to walk here. On the ground I have stepped on, it is virgin territory. It is pure. I am pure. I am uncluttered.  I smile; I let the sun warm my skin. I like that very much.  I am real. I am free. I am unique.  I am growth personified.  Like a blade of grass in a field of grass. I am singular and I am part of a greater whole. 

I love
I love everyone and everything.
I talk with G-d and G-d hears me.  I am not alone…ever. I can ….do, be, do, be

I trust.
I trust myself. I know myself, I know my thoughts
I have thoughts.  My thoughts are unique to me.

I trust others…implicitly.  I am not afraid of others
I trust others and I trust G-d.
I am not afraid

I am not afraid of what others think of me
I don’t second guess me or others

I smile freely
I love what I am doing in the moment and I love everyone
I love G-d

If someone is upset
If someone is upset at me
It has nothing to do with me
I would not upset anyone…intentionally

If I am wrong, I’m sorry
And if I am will pass

I am in a wood near a stream, looking for salamanders. I am an explorer.  My eyes and ears are my tools. I am in the shade of the green canopy by the little stream watching the water rush around the rocks. I love the way the rocks look so clean in the clear rushing water. I collect the rocks. This one is special. As I am special.

I sing..all the time,
By Myself
With my friends
With G-d

I dance too
I am happy

I try my best in everything
And if I fail, I just fail a little because I tried my best and therefore I succeeded in what I set out to do…my best
I try again.

I consider others…
Can I help
How can I help
What do they need
Can I get it, do it, be it?

I climbed up the ditch with my homemade bow and arrow, searching for wild boar.  There are no wild boar. But that doesn't matter.  I am still searching, hunting...wild boar

Do I know the truth
Do I know the truth about me?
Do I see myself?
Can I assess myself with honesty
Do I strive for TRUTH
Do I strive for Truth and Kindness

This is the Age of Innocence

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Growing Up in the Bronx

My childhood friend Harriet Schwartz,, lived in the Sedgwick Projects in the same building as I did.  She encapsulates so well many of my Bronx experiences growing up there.  It was special.  Every Bronxite knows that and as she mentions- not in hindsight.  Mamish! It was special.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dov Ber -Go Viter!
We too have been charged...

For Chanukah my kids gave me the book, Out of the Depths:The Story of a Child of Buchenwald who Returned Home At Last. By Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau.  The last paragraph of the book repeated the theme that appeared throughout-the continuation of the Jewish people.

I came to Lakewood for the pidyon haben of my grandson, Dov Ber. (See picture) He was redeemed as commanded in the Torah.

Upon completing the Memoirs of Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau who emerged like a phoenix from the ashes of Buchenwald concentration camp, it seemed so right to be here with my children, and newest grandchild and my son in law's extended family (only) 40 of which were present at the seudah, the meal which accompanies the redemption ceremony; a real-life-time tangible continuation of the budding remnant of our people. As Rabbi Lau points out (quoting Mayor Ed Koch) that even those who did not experience the Holocaust were redeemed because had we been in Europe during the war, we would surely experience / witness its horrors. and even if we would have survived our psyches would surely have been wounded and filled with images too strong too forget. And although Rabbi Lau was only 8 years old upon liberation from Buchenwald, he and his brother Naphtali were charged by their father with the continuation of the family (Rabbinic) line.

I too feel so charged, and thank G-d have been blessed with 4 grandchildren far. As Rabbi Lau also points out while quoting an army offcer - Jews can only move forward. Go Viter..!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

One Word By Abie Rotenberg

With but one word, as time commenced, He bade the world “begin”
A universe of endless space, both outward, and within.
With but one thought, He granted life, the spark to stir the mind.
And to man, above all else, a soul indeed divine.

With but one Torah would He sketch a path on which to stride.
It dawned with cool refreshing springs to quench our thirst inside.
With but one people would He choose his Torah to impart.
Exalted by the ancestry that forged that noble bond.

With but one land, did He see fit, his presence to bestow.
A covenant with Israel, in sanctity, alone.
With but one tribe would He implant the gift of royalty.
In years gone by and days to come, to rule in majesty.

With but one glance He sees and knows, what was and is to be.
The thoughts and dreams of all mankind, their fate and destiny.
With but one word He can and will, return us to our land.
And how his love was always there, we then will understand.
Ani maamin, be’emunah sheleima.

With but one glance He sees and knows, what was and is to be.
The thoughts and dreams of all mankind, of fate and destiny.
With but one word He can and will, return us to our land.
And how his love was always there, we then will understand.
And how his love was always there, we then will understand.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Daled Amos: Melanie Phillips On The World Turned Upside Down

Melanie Phillips has become my new heroine; My new Oriana Fallaci.
Daled Amos: Melanie Phillips On The World Turned Upside Down: "Melanie Phillips addresses the world of no reason that we live in today--and she is not limiting herself only to the issue of Israel. Liste..."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Did I Mention I Lost 90 Pounds?

Did I have help?  -Yes I did.  Someone such as myself could not suddenly find the discipline to stop eating the way I have been eating for the last many decades without a major interruption into my habitual non- stop /grazing /gorging of food.  Did I really want to stop the insanity surrounding my relationship with food?  Yes, I finally became so disgusted with myself and knew that, on my own I would continue to get larger and bigger and probably die of any one of a number of things associated with obesity.  One day I looked in a mirror and saw Jabba the Hut – that large lump of wrinkly misshapen fat character in the Star Wars and said to myself that is so disgusting.  And that is when Hashem sent me a shaliach.
I was taught that I cannot eat like other people.  How many times are you at a dinner and everyone is taking a luscious looking dessert?  How can I turn that down? I have to taste it.  I’ll never get the chance again.  (And then a lovely women with a svelt figure says “no thanks”!  How did she do that?  I have never been able to do that.)  Tomorrow I’ll say no.  Tomorrow I won’t eat like that, where I can’t breathe. Tomorrow I’ll start, exercising, eating only raw foods, no carbs, never desserts, never drink alcohol, try Slim Fast, Weight Watchers or some other group or diet plan, South Beach,   take pills, eat only low-fat foods, or , I know I'll have Gastric Bypass surgery!  Yeah that's the ticket! etcetera,  etcetera, etcetera…You know the drill.  And on and on it goes…for decades.  

And the reason is because I think that once I lose some weight (or all the weight I want to lose) I can go back to the way I was eating.  I think I now have some control. I can do it myself. But I cannot.  Because if I do I will go back to the way I was, obese.

So I am committed to following the food plan that works for me.  Everyone is different.  Finding the right food plan isn’t hard. What is hard is sticking to it.  Now how are you gonna do that?  That is THE question

For me my shaliach led me to OA- Overeaters Anonymous.  I was willing to try it because nothing else worked for me.  OA is composed of a “fellowship” that knows you and your issues and your challenges because they have been there, done that.  And they HAVE overcome.  It is not for people who need to lose 10 -15 pounds,  although if food is an issue for you no matter what you weigh,  whether you are an overeater or anorexic or bulimic you might check it out.  If you attend a meeting, (which I highly recommend) and there are meetings literally all over the world, you will be amazed at the many miracles. I lost 90 pounds and the same story is repeated by 40 people in the room, I lost 50 pounds, I lost 125 pounds, I lost 60 pounds. I am no longer Type 2 diabetic. I’m off insulin.  I’m off high blood pressure meds completely. I gained 14 pounds ( from a former anorexic). It is most inspiring. There are also frum groups too.
So when you get so disgusted you would be willing to turn it over to Hashem and say You help me!  And He does.  He always does. 
Check out OA.  It works if you are sincere in your wish.   We say “I came for the vanity and I stayed for the sanity.”