Posted by Chava Tombosky
Is winning a golden idol in the 7th grade for best science fair project, as cool as winning a golden idol at the Grammy’s?
Can I convince my kids it doesn’t really matter if they win first place at the Torah Fair?
If they don’t win first place, will my “you did your best which is all that counts” speech work instead?
Will I get reimbursed for the hundred and fifty bucks I spent on the Torah Fair supplies?
Is there a special place for teachers who create this fair?
Does anyone know the science fair project I won first place for in 7th grade, was a survey that proved the science fair was rigged and a waste of time?
Are the Grammy’s rigged too?
Is there any chance and hope that our society will cherish a free buffet night as reward for our accomplishments instead of a shelf duster?
Does anyone from my PTA mind if I wear a ball gown to the Torah Fair event?
If my kids break out in song during the announcements of who won, will they receive extra points?
Can we cancel any and all programming that require First place recognition so the rest of us who are second best can continue to be second best without any emotional scarring?
If you win first place, does it ruin your chances of ever being inspired to try anything ever again, since you will forever be trying to attain that which you have already aspired to be?
Is landing in first sort of overrated?
And why is the word “Bestseller” annoying?
How are bestsellers judged when there are more then a thousand of them with that title?
How many books can be a bestseller anyways? Cause if there is more then one bestseller, than was it really a BEST seller? Technically, it’s sort of an ok seller, it should be called BEST SELLER- IN COMPARISON, or second best seller. Maybe we can have a few other words that describe level of bests. Best, reasonable, fair enough, suitable sort of sold- seller. I’d like to be a “Sort-of-Sold Seller”. That would make me feel like a winner.
Would anyone like to give me an award for this essay?
If it wins First place, can we end all First place awards for good, so I am the last person on the planet with a first place title? Now that would be a true Best-seller. No need for applause, or a golden idol just break out the smorgasbord self serve meal, ‘cause I’m hungry.
11.18.13 at 9:03 am | To be afraid, means that you are unwilling to see. . .
9.13.13 at 2:01 pm | “I'm sorry if I offend anyone - I am in no way. . .
9.1.13 at 9:31 am | To be afraid, means that you are unwilling to see. . .
9.1.13 at 9:31 am | To be afraid, means that you are unwilling to see. . .
9.1.13 at 9:29 am | To be afraid, means that you are unwilling to see. . .
7.15.13 at 9:33 pm | I’ve been spending a lot of time numb from it.. . .
January 31, 2010 | 1:11 am
Posted by Chava Tombosky
Since I was a kid I have been video taping my life and its events. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to forget my experiences, or maybe it’s because I like looking at my life with two eyes. One eye to observe the entertaining moments, and the other to scrutinize it’s significance.
When my eldest son was becoming Bar Mitzvah, it was no surprise that I wanted to get as much footage as I could for the special day. Of course, editing and adding music and voice over, that was all part of the experience. I was so into it, I even arranged to make an entire party just so I could share this awesome film with my friends. Mostly, I wanted to capture what my son was experiencing so he would always have a live memory of this memorable milestone. A happy milestone that he can gleam inspiration from even if G-d Forbid the waters of adulthood should become choppy and perplexing.
Unfortunately for my son, who does not like to be in the limelight, who hates any attention at all, he was my main character, and without him, I just could not have a Bar Mitzvah movie. It was challenging getting Mordy to participate. I had to do lots of bribes. I chased him around with the camera constantly. He even lost me on purpose as I was trying to film him jogging down a path. He jogged so far I was left screaming his name. Alone. With a video camera. In a dog park.
I have to make a claim before continuing on with this story. After recently reading “Shalom in the Home” by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, chapter 3 entitled “Parenting out of Fear”, I have since learned this particular need to document my life could stem from some serious un-worked past psychosomatic childhood experiences that may need possible intervention therapy. But I am willing to expose this defect of mine for the sake of this story. The premise of Rabbi Boteach’s chapter was a particular dad who felt the need to follow his son with a camera wherever he went as not to miss a moment of his life, but in the end was missing it entirely by associating with his son as a bystander versus a participant causing his son to be the biggest brat who acted like a serious diva rather than a sweet little three year old boy. I can assure you, I’m not that defected. Mordy almost always listens to me.
I almost finished cutting the entire film, and just needed a few more shots to cover the music video segment. (Don’t ask). We had gone into the city for the day to buy him his bar mitzvah suit when we passed a store that had an enormous sign, which read “Bean bags, twenty five dollars”. Mordy’s little head perked up like it was Christmas in July- but Jewish. “Oh my God, a bean bag for twenty five bucks- I must have one! Mommy could we please please pleeeeeeease stop??”
I was on a mission, I didn’t have time to stop, and he didn’t need the beanbag. His room is two by two and there was absolutely no room for it anyways. We kept driving to our destination where my objective was to get more footage of my sisters and other extended family for the big movie. He was totally impossible. Again with the “Why do I have to? No! I won’t.” Then he lands the big one.
“I’ll only dance for you if you get me that bean bag. I got twenty-five bucks from my allowance. I will pay for it myself. I want the bean bag.”
It was extortion, and he knew it. I got my footage. I got him to dance. He even gyrated- modestly. He was affable and charming for the camera. But as we headed home, I said “Come on guys, we don’t need a bean bag, we’re going home.”
At this point my younger son chimed in with the big one- the guilt of all guilt trips. He had accused me of the greatest transgression I promised I would never ever do to my own children. “Mommy, if you don’t get us that bean bag, we will never ever trust you again. Your word will not be your bond.”
Okay he didn’t say bond, but he did tell me that I would never be trusted.
Here’s the part that I clearly needed to rectify. Rabbi Boteach, you will be proud.
When I was 9, I convinced my mom to call the Rabbi to come and kosher our home in honor of Passover. My dad was a little weary. He was still into Big Macs and Wendy’s chilly. He was not ready for a kosher home. He liked Chinese shrimp take-out, bacon and eggs, and ham sandwiches. But my mother convinced him it would only be eight days. Then we could go back to our pig eating habits. (Smart bacon did not exist back then) So he acquiesced. The Rabbi came over and boiled a huge pot where he through every dish and silver ware into it. The idea was to pressure cook the kitchenware on the highest temperature of water in order to get rid of the “trafe” (non-kosher pig). Once it was boiled, the Rabbi would deem the kitchen utensils kosher, and we could separate the meat dishes from the milk, spend an extra fifty cents to the dollar on kosher items and keep the holy law of kosher.
While the Rabbi was doing his ceremonious koshering, which included a set of tongs, three large pots, and lots of towels, my dad got hungry. Very hungry. Being that my mother had gotten rid of all the trafe food, there was literally nothing in the house for us to eat. My dad liked to eat. He liked it a lot.
So he did the next best thing he could think of- he ordered Volcano Burgers. BUT the big issue was, the Rams were playing the New York Jets, and my father never missed a game. So he’d have to order the meal to go.
Koshering the house idea seemed like a great bonding experiment for our small family, but little did I know it would lead to the colossal fights of all fights. My dad had brought home four Volcano cheese burgers with all the trimmings, a side order of chilly cheese fries, and four cokes to be eaten on the COFFEE TABLE.
After all, the coffee table could be trafe; it wasn’t even near the kitchen. Technically speaking, ya, you could see the coffee table from the kitchen through the window, but it wasn’t even in the same room, or even in the same vicinity.
The rabbi boiled the pot, my dad dug into his chilly cheese fries, and my mom flipped out. It would be at least another six times before my family would figure out how to not offend the Rabbi with fast food take-out during the blessing of the fork.
After the coffee table fiasco, things calmed down. That Passover went off without a hitch. We ate Matzo balls, Matzo Brie, Matzo meal cake, Matzo lasagna, chocolate Matzo. And at the end of eight days my dad was hungry. He was very hungry.
He had promised us on the last day of Passover, we could celebrate our spring vacation and our kosher victory by going to Disneyland. For those of you who don’t know this, Disneyland is known for their heavenly bbq. (So I’m told.)
For eight days my brother and I planned and strategized our trip. We measured ourselves daily checking our height to make sure we were the forty-eight inches needed to go on Space Mountain and the Matterhorn. My brother wore eighteen pairs of socks in order to make himself taller. He put on his snow boots, cause it was the only pair of shoes that had lift and room. Then he put his shorts and his t-shirt on, cause it was ninety-eight degrees outside in California. Summer was around the corner. It was April.
We had our sunscreen, our left over Matzo-brie sandwiches in our backpacks, and we waited. It was ten o’ clock in the morning. It was eleven o’clock in the morning. It was noon. My dad told us we could leave after lunch but he was still at the hospital making rounds. We ate our matzo brie sandwiches. Mind you, Passover was over. We played restaurant in our room. We sat through two Bugs Bunny episodes. It was two o’clock in the afternoon. We snuck some chocolate Passover-dik matzo. We checked the clock. It was four. Disneyland was getting further and further away from us. Finally my dad came home, “You guys ready to go? I never break a promise” It was six O’clock. We all got into the car. We finally arrived at Disneyland at six thirty. It closed at five. It was April.
Of course, little did I know, my father, the Doctor was dealing with real patients with real issues. He took care of dying patients. Patients with cancer and liver disease, and alcoholics who shoved pets down their throats in a drunken stupor. But when you’re nine you don’t really care who your dad is saving. You only care about one thing- getting Goofy’s signature.
So now my kids are staring at me with those words ringing in my ears. “We will never trust you again.” Of course the twenty- five-dollar beanbag advertised on the window was about as small as a hacky-sack. Sixty bucks later, we drove home in our four door Volvo sedan with a gargantuan bean bag shoved in the back seat and six little feet dangling from underneath. My boys were smiling. I had rectified my relationship with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland.
And after some self -reflection, I remembered my Disneyland experience to be the start of something pretty life changing. Instead of Disneyland, my dad made the best of the day and took us out to the Disneyland Hotel where we were to celebrate our 8 days of Kosher with a grand trafe-fest. With mouths salivating, we sat in the TRAFEST restaurant where the waitress rolled out a cart displaying a variety of fresh cut non-kosher raw meats to choose from. This place was like bbq on crack. ‘Course we chickened out after spotting a Yeshiva boy eating whole fruit with his mother who was sipping water. We ordered four salads instead of the coveted pork chops that the waitress was hoping we’d dive into. That was the last night I ever ate out in a non- kosher restaurant and the first time I realized some events are just meant to happen for a greater purpose.
And for those of you willing to sit through seventeen minutes of family video montage, here’s the final finished product of my Bar Mitzvah Video. I would have posted it on Youtube, but apparently anything that exceeds six minutes is considered a full length feature. Enjoy:) Here’s the LINK:
January 29, 2010 | 3:18 am
Posted by Chava Tombosky
After entering my last essay about bacon into Digg.com, I noticed this essay about bacon which, consequently got a hundred and eighty four digs, (I got ZERO). It said:
“Scientists have found that eating a plate of bacon and eggs could help pregnant women boost the intelligence of their unborn child.
But the new study suggests that a chemical in pork products can help the baby’s growing brain to develop.
Scientists at the University of North Carolina have discovered that the micronutrient, called choline, is vital in helping babies in the womb develop parts of their brains linked to memory and recall.”
Could this be? Is this possible? Are Jews relegated to second best in intelligence because we don’t eat the crispy meat? There must be a mistake! My kids are stupid because of my Kosher diet? But we are supposed to be a smart people. We are the developers of the Polio vaccine, the discoverers of the speed of light and color photography. We have uncovered the origins of how infectious diseases spread. We are the discoverers of the structure of the atomic nuclei, the inventors of the sewing machine! How could it be because we don’t eat bacon our intelligence is defected?
Then I read on:
“Other foods that contain a high level of the nutrient include liver, milk, chicken and nuts.”
Thank G-d! See- we’re all good. Get yourself a side order of chopped liver, and a large chocolate milk, there’s still hope for your babies turning out intelligent. Just don’t eat them together. That’s not Kosher.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1240932/Bacon-eggs-help-pregnant-women-boost-babys-intelligence.html?ITO=1490#ixzz0dyyFqZld
January 26, 2010 | 4:22 am
Posted by Chava Tombosky
This week my sweet sister in law’s- sister, whom I consider my own sister through marriage started out her blog called “Beauty and Food” with this question:
“Is there a good substitute for Bacon?”
This question had me thinking, what is the Jewish need to reinvent PIG? Is it the briney smoked flavor that permeates in the air while leaving a healthy layer of oily residue on the plate that one can glop up with their fried potatoes? Not that I would know.
Or is it the salty maple scent breathed in during the chomping of crispy heavenliness? What? I can imagine.
Pig. We’ve reinvented it with fried pastrami bacon, tempeh veggie bacon, Smart bacon (Like it’s got a higher I.Q cause it comes from soy), Turkey bacon, and the all coveted “Baco Bits”. The organs are playing now. I hope can you hear them.
We Jews don’t like to say the word bacon. My cousin Valerie, who I am known to quote often, (this is the second time) told me she and ten Jewish mommies went to lunch and when they ordered the Tempeh, they whispered it like it was against the law to order a red substance with loads of salt made for the purpose of pure imitation with issues of split hoof envy. We are a people who crave what we cannot have, try to mask food with pathetic artificial impersonations, and love Red food dye.
We’ve become accustomed to using pastrami as bacon’s understudy. Does it work? Definitely. Do we all need to figure out how to handle this bacon envy crisis? Pretty much.
Have I tried it before?
I’m not proud, but tomorrow, I will tell u about the last day I ever ate pork.
Now pass the baco bits.
PS. This is in no way me endorsing the salty cholesterol inducing filthy meat. But we should all find time to kick back and look at the funny of it all. I think even G-d would want us to find this one law amusing.
A big shout out to CHEF YOS for teaching us how to do the substitute in style. Here’s his suggestion for preparing Surrogate bacon using pastrami:
To saute pastrami:
Cut pastrami into pieces (your recipe will determine the size of the pastrami pieces you cut)
Pour e.v.o.o =extra virgin olive oil into a saute pan and add the pastrami pieces.
Saute on medium/high heat till the pieces are slightly browned and start to crisp around the edges.
Place pastrami on a paper towel on a plate and then continue with your recipe.
Eat and Enjoy!
January 24, 2010 | 11:13 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
This morning after a week of rain, I awoke to the sun sneaking into my room leaking through the window and blinding my right eye. I perked up. (I never actually perk in the morning- more like percolate) I woke up slowly to the request of my children asking- “Mommy, since the rain has stopped, can we go to the mountains for a snow day?”
Flashbacks of our last snow day consume my mind. It is a January day and I have just finished a grueling three weeks of writing the sixty seventh version of one of my many scripts that producers were waiting for, plus I had finished cutting three films for a fundraising event, and I was exhausted from piles of housework that seemed to be creeping into my life at enormous pace. I was tired. I needed a serious vacation when my husband suggested we head to the mountains. Three pans of oven fried chicken, two potato kugels, four trays of brownies, towels, sheets, freshly bought snow gear, and a heap of cold-cuts later, we traveled our way into the biggest snow storm of the decade. I was still tired. If you keep kosher, preparing for a vacation is enough to make you need the vacation even more.
Our car got stuck in the snow a mile away from our destination and we traveled by foot only to arrive at a log cabin with forty-three stairs covered in a blanket of thick snow that we now had to dig our way out of just to reach the front door. Although we managed to make the best of it, my husband whistled the whole time, my children sang like little doves with glee and had the best trip of their lives while I cried and muttered expletives under my breath unable to appreciate the adventure.
“Mommy, please can we go to the snow?” “Maybe,” I say. “Mommy can we please go? Please?” “We’ll see,” I say. “Mommy- good news! Daddy packed the car with enough food to feed us all for a week and found all the snow gear, get dressed!”
I know what you’re all thinking- my husband is a saint and I am- not. And he is, cause if it weren’t for him, we would have spent the day airing out in the sun sipping mai tai’s on the beach. That is my fantasy. But instead we are trailing through four freeways, passing numerous accidents and reaching our destination of snow capped mountains- Freizer Park after two hours. Everyone was giddy. Except for me. I just wanted a quiet Sunday. But because I am married to a saint who whistles, I am trapped in a van with children excited about their snow day, while I fear the worst, hoping this is not a remake of January 14th, 2008.
We approach the Frazier Park onramp and notice a huge sign indicating the only road leading to our destination is closed. A slight pang in my heart suggests this day could end with children screaming and lots of disappointed rhetoric brewing in a cacophony of ten and seven year old complaints. And although my thoughts are on a pearly white beach while sipping the most expensive cocktail, I still want my kids to have a good time. Was it possible to convince them their good time could be on sand instead of on snow? I’m already dreaming up bribes, incentives, and kickbacks that could possibly reverse this day’s outing.
“Not a problem!” my eager husband announces. He turns the car around and heads to the nearest exit hoping to whip around the freeway to another exit towards our snowy day of fun. But that onramp leads us to a row of cars with the same idea that is now circumvented by highway patrol announcing to each car that Frazier park is closed due to the population being too large. Apparently, we weren’t the only Californians hoping to hit the snow after a week of rain.
Our dear friends we were caravanning with follow us to the nearest rest area to strategize. We now have two lawyers, a Rabbi, and several bright children on the job. My husband, the warrior with a plan figures the best way to convince the highway patrol we are entitled to the holy road that leads to Frazier Park is if we are helping the economy so he books a hotel room. After all, they can’t deny us access if we have reservations. Now I’m scared we may have to sleep there, but try to remain calm for the children, even though the thought of sleeping in the snow for one night causes me enough panic and anxiety that several pills of Zanax won’t help. But I smile. I have to. We’re with real witnesses. Unlike our last trip where it was just me, my husband and my kids, we are with friends. I can’t exactly lose it- yet.
We travel up the road and approach the cops where my husband is sure his sweet charm will get us all up the mountain. Plus we have reservations. But apparently this cop is a smart one, and the reservation routine is one he’s heard before. We are denied access to the coveted road without written proof. We didn’t bring a printer.
I breathe a sigh of relief thinking this day can end without snow or adventure, and the possibility of driving to a quieter destination that could require sitting, possibly sipping something intoxicating, leaves me calm- until my husband, the problem solver that he is decides to PARK.
We head into a parking lot filled with hundreds of huge Peterbilt semi trucks, mini vans and loaded SUV’s all turned away from the Frazier park road. We are parked in front of Denny’s. You know those spots you park in that indicate you’re on your way to your destination, but haven’t actually gotten to your destination? Well that became our new destination. Along with thousands of others, we get out of the car where the only thing blocking us from a day of snow fun is a barbed wire fence and a heap of sloshy mud filled with cow dung, dead bushes, and large boulders.
“Let’s Go!” says my husband. All pile out of the car and head towards- you guessed it, the barbed wire! Spanish music is heard in the air, blankets have been laid out on the lightly packed snow ground, bbq’s are broiling pork chops and hamburgers, and my family is trucking through a land that looks like the Siberian wasteland that our forefathers were committed to- involuntarily. Even the lawyers are following. Has everyone gone mad?
“What? But Honey, where are we going to sled with the children?”
I asked that one too quickly, because the next thing I know we have trailed our way to the steepest hill where a thousand immigrants have planted themselves using garbage can lids as sleds, and now the Jews have arrived. The only thing blocking my kids from sliding down the hill and slashing their brains against the metal barbed wire is a small dried out bush, and a three hundred pound spanish man, named Julio, who I will be eternally grateful for, for years to come and ME.
Was I concerned this was a seriously bad mistake that could have ended us all up in the ER with lacerations and tetanus shots? Yes. Did I have the best time of my life drinking coke, eating make shift tuna sandwhiches and dodging wild life while catching my husband who was brave enough to barrel his one hundred eighty pound body towards me at warped speed on a plastic sled with only Big Julio and my little self to stop him from hurling his way into the dangerous metal sharp wired fence? You Bet!
Am I drinking a tall glass of wine right now remembering yet another hilarious snow day? Definitely.
January 22, 2010 | 4:58 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
This week, I’m keepin’ it simple, since I don’t have that many guests. Here’s the menu, for those of you looking for ideas. I have SLAVED all day. And if you are not celebrating Friday night, of course you are invited.
-Home made Challah- (probably gonna make the cracked wheat bread, and wait for the family to complain about the presence of whole wheat hidden in their beloved Shabbos Challah- will let u know how it goes.)
-Minestrone soup with meat. Cause you can never have enough protein.
-Green beans (pre-cut and washed from Trader Joe’s, saving me loads of time which I drench in mushroom soup made by Imagine, and then sprinkle with onion rings which I bake.)
-Sweet and sour apricot cornished hens with couscous and onions (I did this in one pot, it took all of five minutes to prepare and two hours to bake.)
- For dessert, I have a delicious angel food cake with shredded chocolate (from the box) as well as low fat apple cinnamon muffins (from the box).
-I told you I slaved. If I had a SarcMark, you’d understand “slave” to mean that this is not the typical gourmet Shabbat that I usually dole out, but needed to cut corners in order to spend the extra hour taking Zumba, a delightful class infused with Salsa and Columbian dance.
Saturday’s lunch will consist of leftovers, a salad, and I made steamed corn on the cob which the kids love. So pretty much, we will all be starving after Shabbat craving a serious pizza run.
*I dedicate this essay to my beautiful sister Tova on the occasion of her twenty fourth birthday and to my sister Mimi who slaved over two batches of birthday muffins which took up most of her day since she needed to walk four blocks to use my sister in law’s dairy oven which was two by four causing her to wait hours since the oven only held six muffins at a time to which she had to throw out BOTH batches anyways because she forgot the sugar and only used salt, but found a way to bake a third batch with frosting despite the mishap. Mimi, you are my hero!
January 22, 2010 | 4:49 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
In the movie “Religulous” with Bill Maher, he questions the reality of seen miracles. At one point he challenges a self-proclaimed believer by asking him if he’s ever seen a real miracle.
Even I was baffled after hearing the “believer’s” example of his self-witnessed miracle as he described a moment he challenged G-d by asking it to rain, and wouldn’t you know it, it rained at that very moment he put his hand out the window, once again proving to Bill Maher that miracles do not, cannot, and have not ever existed at least not to enlightened thinkers.
Bill continued to claim throughout the film that miracles are indeed a dangerous endeavor from the very fact that some who have claimed to have seen miracles have been capable of creating huge followings at the very expense of humanity, causing nations to do destructive things in the name of” seen” miracles.
However, in this week’s Parshah, Parshat Bo, Jews all around the world are reading the story of the plagues sent during the Hebrews’ stay in Egypt. Is there a lesson we can learn from this archaic story? The story of these miraculous plagues may just be the greatest mystery into understanding the Divine’s intentions for the the world and the Jewish experience.
Can we be enlightened thinkers even if witnessed events were not recorded on Youtube? Funny how after a few years, Bill Maher and many others would disagree with the notion that this story ever took place at all even though the entire human race at that time witnessed these events. Could it be that your great- great grandmother baking the best strudel may just be “hear-say” because no one recorded it on their flip? Before we discover this mystery, let’s commit to suspending our belief that these plagues may have actually happened.
Humans are finite creatures bound by time and space. We cannot entirely understand a world that has no time frame and no sense of anti- space. Eighteenth century German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, described space and time as “Elements of a systematic framework which humans use to structure their experience.” Without these elements, experiencing our lives would be very difficult to imagine.
Miracles are the suspension of time and space. Miracles by definition are surprising and welcomed events that are not explicable by natural or scientific laws. It is a supernatural experience. And we crave them because it gives us a sense that we are not alone, that time and space can be suspended, that we can witness an infinite force. We love this, because it makes us feel alive with purpose. All humans are on a quest for some sense of infinite measurement- the sense that the world has more than meets the eye and that our experiences are not one random mistake.
Even Bill Maher, the self-proclaimed atheist would jump for joy if he witnessed a super natural experience that could prove his existence has significance.
According to Chassidic teachings, in order for the natural world to be created, G-d had to cloak his infiniteness. Time and space could not coexist with G-d’s supernatural existence. He had to come down to this realm through filters. He had to create ways of responding to us using the rules of nature. Some would say that is not miraculous.
G-d chose to suspend himself and hide himself so we could be created. Why were we created in this way? Why not make us immortal angels?
That would negate our whole purpose. Our greatest challenge and gift in life is to have the ability to elevate our physical limitations by morphing it into a spiritual transformation.
This week G-d decides to have a serious “coming out party”. In this week’s Torah portion, he suspends time and space and decides this is the moment in history he will give us a vision into his immortality and lift the secret veil. Why was it necessary to have these plagues? Why was it necessary for G-d to announce himself by breaking the confines of nature?
What do men do when they are trying to attract a woman? They peacock. They strut. They show off their best assets before they seal the deal and move into commitment. Women do the same thing, and we are most impressed by men who go that extra mile. Many have compared G-d to the groom and the Jewish people to the bride and the story of Egypt as the most elaborate dating scene of mankind, (before Brad Pitt courted Angelina Jolie) making Sinai the biggest wedding with the greatest attendance of all time. (Before Princess Diana married Prince Charles).
Before these events, much of humanity questioned G-d’s existence. Many believed he did not exist at all. Some believed he created the world but had nothing to do with the details. And others believed he created the world, handled the details, but didn’t care at all about the outcome. This is the exact reason why G-d found it necessary to divulge the most miraculous of experiences by using the plagues.
This was G-d’s way of setting the record straight before sealing the deal at Sinai. If the Jewish people were to buy into six hundred and thirteen laws, they had better be getting into bed with a pretty awesome G-d- *“A G-d who is the ultimate mystery and the ultimate reality”. One who is compassionate, who cares, who will go that extra mile when we really need a lift. Who is capable of throwing out a couple million frogs, or sending hail to those who refuse to rain freedom on an innocent nation. G-d proved he is involved in every detail of our lives when he made the distinction between human beings and territories during the plague of attacking the animals. As it says:
And on that day I shall set apart the land of Goshen on which My people stands, that there shall be no swarm there; so that you will know that I am God in the midst of the land. (Ibid. 8:18)
G-d proved he is in charge of all life upon the plague of the slaying of the firstborn. G-d was telling us through the plagues, I am here, I am involved, and I am engaged.
Face it, we all want to see a sea split, a staff turn into a snake, or even on a more everyday level, illness cured unexpectedly. But we don’t have these miracles today. How do we know he is still there and listening? It is our job to remember the miracle of Egypt every single year by reading the story and celebrating the events as we once experienced them so many years ago. It is our job to recreate the spark, to fall in love all over again, to work on recommitting ourselves to the Divine by fostering that relationship with the commandments, to take time and pray to re-establish that connection. But to stay committed, first G-d needed to show us his ultimate power if we were going to be his partners in protecting the very fragile world he created within the confines of time and space.
We can be a light unto the nations and G-d’s partners in getting this message across to the world by taking an uplifting smile and giving a sick child the gift of hope. We can take a silver dollar and transform it by donating it to help the unfortunate people suffering in Haiti. We can use our arms to hug our spouse, child, or friend in an embrace that transcends words. And we can take a candle made of wax and fibers to light as we welcome a divine energy using time and space to trap the holy Shabbat into our mundane homes.
The greatest gift is the ability to transcend ourselves using our very selves and to connect with a higher power while using the very physical limitations we were born with. And if we decide not to believe in the plagues, we miss the opportunity of believing in our higher purpose, and in our greatest human endeavor which is the ability to create divine moments using time and space. That my friends, is the real grand miracle. That is supernatural.
If we continue obsessing about never getting the chance to witness unordinary we lose the chance at discovering extraordinary by listening to the whispers of today’s events that seem ordinary.
*Thank you to Rabbi Schwartzie for this powerful quote which I keep by my bedside.
January 21, 2010 | 12:20 am
Posted by Chava Tombosky
Listening to the radio this morning, Ryan Seacrest announces a site that has created a brand new text punctuation mark to indicate sarcasm. With the ever growing text-talking communication system in place, it appears many fights have ensued, many friendships have broken up, many housewives have left their marriages all because men have refused to use the little smiley face as their sarcasm tool because it is too “sissy” looking. Some use the phrase “lol”. But really, isn’t that just so overdone? Lol, save it for when you’re really laughing at something zany, or us humorous writers, comedians, and funny people will assume you are taunting us with your pity laugh. Unless there’s a real chuckle coming up followed by out LOUD laughter, don’t write Lol.
So what is this new tool used to guard against offending folks on the receiving end who might not get the joke? It’s called SarcMark. There’s an actual word for this new punctuation mark that has been coined. If you want to be sarcastic it’s gonna cost you. For $2 you can apparently download it. But if you’re an iphone user, you’ll have to wait before telling your loved one they look “fat” (meaning hot). Apparently, Iphone users are not sarcasm worthy quite yet.
The owners of this new punctuation mark are trying to get it as popular as the exclamation mark. Are you kidding? The exclamation mark has been around for centuries. We rely heavily on that mark giving us moments of glee, pep, vim, zing, or just plain yelling. And now they think they can outdo the line with the dot with some $2 swerley thing?
What is next?
Is someone going to come up with a caring mark? What about an all around irritated by my boss mark? How bout an I trust you mark, an optimistic mark, an awe mark? I’d like an awe mark. Someone texts me, they tell me hi, but they want me to know they’re in awe of me and I get a ^/ sign. Wouldn’t that be nice? Would you like to use my AweMark in your texting? Good. Send me two bucks. Make it a buck and a half, I’ll throw in a free “rage” mark. Except for you iphone folk, you are not deserving.
Here’s an actual paragraph written by a young teen upon commenting on the Sarcmark:
“The real breakthrough of Sarcasm, Inc is the realisation that, despite having used sarcasm and irony in the written word for hundreds of years, humans are simply too stupid to consistently recognise when someone has said the opposite of what they mean. The SarcMark solves that problem, and you can download it as a font for the reasonable price of $1.99 (£1.20). Our prayers are answered.”
What I found really amusing by this paragraph was that us humans are not too stupid to recognize sarcasm when we HEAR it. If you’re born in today’s world, you don’t ever actually HEAR anything. You see it. (your phone ring does not count) Many youngsters have never been trained to speak in person with one another. They can spend hours bombarded by loads of information without learning anything valuable and can communicate endlessly without saying anything valuable.
Much like monkeys and apes, we have become a species who now use our thumbs to speak with. (primates communicate using their hands.) We have almost lost the art of actually laughing. Now we just write three letters and there it is- a giggle.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the Sarcmark, but I do wonder how some swerley with a dot for two dollars has found a way into our society just because we’re too lazy to pick up the phone or have a real live conversation.
Just makes you wonder.
Also, that swerley with a dot- it’s just as sissy looking as the smiley face.