The big boy with Tatty!

The big boy with Tatty!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ahavat Israel

I found this little treasure as I have been purging my old facebook statuses. When I was in seminary I was annoyed when everyone quoted the Baal Shem Tov, if I see it in you it's in me. Because it was flipped, I was told often that because someone saw a certain trait in themselves it therefore existed in me. My Rav, told me to read the Sicha by the Rebbe which actually entailed three separate parts to that idea. 1. If you see it you are supposed to help that person correct the flaw. 2. If you see the flaw, it's within you. 3. Don't look for it in the first place. Now whenever people quote this sicha I ask them if they ever learned it themselves. It's a good one to know what it really says not just what we hear.

May 7, 2009.

The words flow so easily and routinely off the lips, like the rushing waters that flood from cliffs and fill the ravines below. “Behold I take it upon myself to love my fellow Jew as myself.” Then we live our day to day life, completely immersed in ourselves, in the needs of our family, in what has to be done, in the money that has to be earned and somehow those words we spoke in the morning have been forgotten as some guy at the store whose had a hard day greets you and accidentally says the wrong thing, or your friends can’t call because they are busy with their own families, or even better you noticed some person talking at Shul so you tell them to be quiet not even knowing they were just baring their heart to the person next to them because their home life isn’t the perfect picture that they’ve painted.
Despite your best efforts you feel that pinch of jealousy or perhaps frustration rising within you, and what do you do? Get mad!

There was once a gentile who came to Shammai and asked him to teach him the entire Torah while he stood on one foot, Shammai refused and sent him away. The same man approached Hillel and asked the same question and Hillel answer, “what is hateful to you don’t do to your fellow man, the rest is all commentary.” On a simple level we understand this to mean that we should go out of our way to love our fellow Jew, we should be nice, we should be polite, but all of these, just as they are surface level emotions, only touch the surface of the gravity of this statement.

A woman struggling with her Yiddishkeit walked into the shul one day to speak to the two teachers that had been teaching her son in Sunday school. She expressed her frustration at Orthodoxy and how it seemed that the most cruel things were said to her while she lived in a Hareidi community in Israel. As they were speaking, the Rabbi of the Shul came around the corner and said to one of the girls, “don’t you have something you’re supposed to be doing right now, we don’t pay you to talk to the parents.”
The woman turned to the two girls and said, “I was going to start coming to shul again, if this is who is leading the Shul, than I’ll stay where I’m at, I’m appalled.”

The basis for Hillel’s statement was that no one likes it when they do something wrong, and even more so, when someone points it out, because than it brings forth their shame and humiliation to the forefront, and it doesn’t just end there. It reaches all the way to the Ein Sof, and when he sees the attribute of Judgment coming from his creations, he too judges with harshness, and instead of two Jews coming together in Achdus, in unity the correction has now aroused Hashem’s judgment, but what would happen, if the person had instead, looked upon their fellow man with mercy, with a yearning to protect their dignity, than Hashem too, will look down and yearn to protect the dignity of B’nai Yisrael and His mercy will be aroused, He will be moved to compassion and the sufferings that we have known, will fall by the wayside and we will see Mashiach in our generation.

Being Jewish, has never been about who can keep the most strictures, who can keep the best kosher, or have longest payos, it has always been about the unity that God wishes to have in our world, that can only happen when we are one with each other and realize, that we are all human, we all make mistakes, we say the wrong things and when your turn comes to tell someone that they’ve hurt you, treat them as if they are your friend since childhood that is more precious than any treasure on the world to you and dearer than any desire for self gratification in rebuke or knowing you are better or smarter, but for the true purpose of bring peace, and oneness from this world to the world above and create a true dwelling place for Hashem in this world.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Respecting My Children's Right to Privacy

I recently discovered that reading news is fun. It’s even more fun to find a search engine like Yahoo and scroll through the random posts. Some lately, are posts that have gone viral on facebook of parents posting pictures their children. The cute, cuddly, and sometimes ones that break your heart. A few weeks ago one such mother posted a picture of her daughter now sporting a baldhead because her hair became tangled badly and her mother thought the best way to teach the lesson was to shave her head. If that wasn’t enough, she posted it on Facebook bragging to her friends, with her sweet broken hearted daughter’s face sadly staring at the camera and I have to ask, what was the point of that? So you teach her a lesson? Was not enough that her head was shorn? Not enough that she was going to have to go to school and face that humiliation? Not enough now, the entire world knows her face, and for ages to come is going to recognize her as the girl who’s head was shaved at five and posted online.
            In the past I’ve blown up about my in laws online, I’ve looked for help for my children, and even bragged about my husband. A few months ago I started thinking about the long term ramifications, what if I posted every picture online? What if someone shared it? Proof this can happen, a few months ago I got nearly 600 hits on my stroller blog alone, ( 600…I never expected randomly for that post to get as much attention as it has, and to be passed around as much as it was. But that's the power of the internet these days.
            But what about my kids? What if one day, in the not too distant future, I am looking for a shidduch for my sons, and nothing is secret, because all the videos, moments and pictures are posted online? What if my sons at almost 4 and 18 months could tell me that they never wanted those pictures posted, those stories shared, that it was lashon hora and all I could say is sorry because I posted it years ago I cannot erase the damage that was caused by it?
            So forgive me, going forward on facebook and on my blog, I will no longer be posting stories of my children or pictures. I want them to enjoy a childhood with dignity and privacy. I don’t understand all the laws of Lashon Hora yet, but I know a good place to start is within my own family.
            Of course if I can turn it into a lesson than I would be more than happy to share it online, because who wouldn’t want their stories to be used for something holy? I just went to the most amazing women’s even, the Mid-Winter Convention, I cannot recommend it highly enough. I once thought Rabbi Lew was a little over the top when he gave a speech on the dangers of blogs and facebook and very slowly, I am seeing he was right, he is on to something that thank God I’m beginning to see.

            Have a great week everyone, I plan to write about what I learned at Convention soon! School is out and thank God, things seem to be relaxing a little bit!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Blessed Facebookless Life

I did have withdrawals in the beginning…I’m not joking. I’m a stay t home of two small children who literally demand my attention 100% of the time despite my objections that yes, the two of you should be able to handle life without me, for simple things like doing the dishes, and going to the bathroom and no I am not going to spend the entire day entertaining you and yes you will spend your every last breath in time out if you don’t give me a few minutes when I ask, or when I need to focus on clean up. It’s not an option, so what did Facebook become? My only interaction with the outside world.
            But it was a shallow interaction with the world. It meant I could like and comment on friends photos and pat myself on the back because I had contact with people, it meant that I could get annoyed by what I saw and wonder why in the world would someone post that. And finally I realized that it was just not the right place for me. Superficial facebook relationships were just not good enough. I could never dream what would happen once I decided to leave Facebook behind.
            I discovered that yes, I can call friends on the phone and we can talk. I could hear the beautiful voices that I thought I would never hear again and that I was always too busy for. I could reconnect with wonderful people, who I thought I had lost touch with and mostly, once again I could experience what I’ve been missing, deep relationships. Don’t get me wrong, facebook has it’s uses, and in the beginning my intentions were noble, it would mean an easier way to keep in contact with people, but easy quickly became lazy and lazy became superficial.
            So here I am a few months later, I think and I’ve only popped back on to wish mazal tov to friends who are getting married, or friends who waited for years for children and were finally blessed with one and get to see what people have been up to.
            It’s also meant I have time for things…no seriously, even when I with part time work, part time school, and full time mommy hood, I have time to write, I have time to read, I have time to think. I have time, for the things that actually matter, and I have time to really spend with my kids and I no longer really resent the fact that they take up my entire life and they no longer clamor for attention because I am not as lost in computer land as I used to be.

            This also brought about a renewed nursing relationship with the baby I thought I had weaned. Yep, we lasted two days…when Tatty was gone on the third day, YY proceeded to demand nursing and nothing would calm him, when I caved, and cave I did, he stayed latched on for an hour or more, and you could tell his expression was, “oh thank God…this is what I missed!” Thank God. Life is hard sometimes but the major lesson I am learning, is that Hashem wants our lives simple, the more unnecessary things I start to get rid of, the more I realize how much time I have for the things I truly love.

Oh and hits on my blog have nearly doubled. Coincidence?? 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Leap of Faith-Conversion to Judaism

I remember finding out about this documentary, I'm not sure if it was around the time I first started dating my husband.

Words don't quite describe, I suggest watching it yourself. I remember so clearly those moments, trying to figure out who I wanted to be, was I making the right choice. So many years later, I don't regret a thing.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Life with Connection

I think it might be a full month now that I have been facebook free. I am a happier person. Go figure. I like that I can go find news myself, without feeling obligated to read everyone’s articles. I think what I like the most is that I don’t feel the urge any longer to comment on posts. I feel like I made a huge positive stride and thank God views to my blog are higher than before. I think back in 2008 when I decided to join the social highway I made a mistake. I wanted to do it, because I wanted to keep in contact with people, and not lose friendships I valued. But I think I also realized, that back in the day, when we lost touch with some people, sometimes it was better.
            When people grow up, they change, their ideals change and the focal points of a friendship may no longer be the same and this is heightened on social networks. What’s even more is that then people feel like it’s their job to tell you what to think. Then I started wondering, what would have happened if you had just fell out of touch with these people to begin with? Would it have been so bad? Maybe I’m nostalgic, there are so many good friendships where people just drift apart.  I think some of them should have, I should have understood, that it was okay, and in many cases needed.

            I was at Costco today and a sales pitching Direct Tv man, went from trying to sell me something to telling me his life story. At the end I finally realized what he was trying to sell and told him that I don’t have a TV, haven’t been to a theatre in 10 years, and deactivated facebook. He said he wished he could do all that, I only wish I asked him why? I know why I did…why would you? 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bittersweet Weaning

My goal has and will always remain to nurse for a full two years. It seems no matter what my breastfeeding goals are something else happens. I was thank God blessed both times with my children that despite dangerously low milk supplies that I was able to garner a full supply. For my first, MM loved nursing, he loved it so much he still asks me if I can nurse him, because he misses it. Instead I hold him closely and tell him stories of when he was a baby and kiss his forehead and cuddle him. My second on the other hand…it’s always been about food and sometimes about comfort. Unfortunately, after 12 months, when it’s like that, the supply dwindles. I would love to say that I would do it again, to nurse him to the second year, to start pumping and taking fenugreek, but if he won’t nurse for comfort, and barely nurses, it’s not really going to stimulate supply and I’m fighting a losing battle.
            Last night, I tried nursing YY and he became livid when there was nothing there. Instead we gave him some water and thank God he drank and was happy. He drank an entire sippee cup and then off back to bed. I told my husband this isn’t the first time it’s happened and it’s almost unfair, why should he have to go into a fit because there isn’t anything there?
            So I did it…today I did not nurse him. Last night was the last time, and I’m heartbroken. Since two months after I was married I’ve been pregnant, nursing or both. This will be the first time that I am just me!! What am I supposed to do with just me?? I feel naked, awkward…strange, when did it become me?
            Thank God though, I think even though it feels odd I am going to enjoy it just being me. It’s interesting, I’m very glad that I made it to sixteen months, almost, minus a few days but really now I am dreading Yom Kippur much less. God willing I will do much better this time when it comes to fasting.

            My little guy is much more snuggly now and less apt to scream in frustration. It’s wondrous how often we have our own plans and how Hashem makes other plans.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Knowing When To Give Up

I love arguing. It has to be part of my upbringing crossed with my Jewish Neshama. The sages in the Talmud and the gemora love a good argument, anything L’shaim shemayim and those are perhaps my most beloved arguments. If/when I say something outlandish in the defense of Torah I want people to realize why I am saying it. I think I came to the realization recently that life as a ger and life as a baal teshuva are two different things. The paths you travel are almost backwards. A BT can take as long as they want to reach whatever their goals, whereas someone who converts, the goals are placed before them before they can finally take the dip literally and dive into Judaism.       
            More and more recently, I’ve realized that it’s not about knowing when to argue, but when to just walk away. This is not a strong trait for me, but I’m starting to realize sometimes you just can’t win. You can’t change the world in one fell swoop sometimes it has to be step by step. And sometimes fighting for things isn’t really what is necessary. It’s happened in a great many things recently, whether it’s friendships, where I look back fondly and actively miss the time all a the same time, but I cannot fight to make someone speak to me. Likewise, I realized I cannot fight to my inlaws like me.
            It finally happened, the bomb was dropped this weekend, it went something like this, “I think DL is stupid. I have 2 masters degrees, I’m smarter than she is…”In front of my kids and my husband and thank God not in front of me. I’ve been asking myself recently, what can I do to make this situation easier, and honestly wanting to blow up on people in Milwaukee, because somehow they just don’t get that no! It’s not my fault. But I’ve simply realized, it’s time to walk away from this too.

            The hardest part about being a frum Jew, is dealing with non-frum realitives who are combative to everything you do. How can you explain to them what is important, when they see it as trivial, how can you ask them to put glasses on and see your reality when they are so encompassed in their own? Finally, how can you make them see that a person worth is not wrapped into the paper they have on the wall? I already gave up two years ago, but now I am really giving up, they can hate me for the rest of their lives if they want to…but it’s time to walk away and say that I did a good job trying to deal with them. Sometimes it’s just by not even trying. Giving up sure does feel good.