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.
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January 21, 2010 | 1:20 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.
January 20, 2010 | 6:07 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
**Today I am married fifteen years. That’s more than a decade! As my cousin Valerie reminded us, it is “half a lifetime.” Fifteen years is half of thirty. It is five years away from twenty! (incase you can’t add) It is a HUGE number.
The last time I remember feeling I’ve really accomplished anything that required more than a decade of time commitment was when I graduated high school. That only took twelve years. I guess you can consider it thirteen if you include kindergarten. Which means, I’ve been married longer than I was in grammar school, kindergarten, and high school put together.
After fifteen years, I have calculated these statistics of our marriage experience:
We’ve had 2 bris’, 1 bar mitzvah, three bio children, 4 foster kids, 2 miscarriages, 8 cars, 6 houses, (we only owned 1 of them), 6 ER trips, 2 emergency surgeries, 7 family deaths, 3 family divorces, 12 jobs between us, 4 state moves, 1 out of country vacation, at least two dozen family vacations, 11/2 plants, and two fish. (I say half because the first plant was half dead when I gave it away- so technically it could still be alive somewhere.)
The first fifteen years of marriage have been filled with firsts. First pregnancy, first birth, first night, first morning, first time we dropped our child off at school, first house we bought, first house we sold, first job. The list is endless. But the next phase, the next fifteen years are going to be a whole bunch of seconds. Which means we get to do things all over again but this time, do it seasoned.
This time we’ll make better choices and live life on our terms not on anyone else’s. This next fifteen (I only say we’re having fifteen more, not as a prerequisite of ending things at year thirty, but since we’re talking in phases of fifteen, I figured it’s apropos) we are going to have the best time, cause we look better, we act better, we’re all over better people.
The first thing on the agenda to this half a lifetime celebration is to change some of our furniture. Every piece we have in our home was given to us by family members who moved, divorced, or died and needed to give away their leftovers to the couple who just got married, being us. Some of our pieces have no style except the style of mismatched, on sale, child friendly, Ikea-built drab.
I’d like our home to finally reflect our personalities. Now that we know what those personalities are. When you get married in your teens, you don’t fully know yourself. And now that we are no longer teenagers, I can say that I do know myself, I know my husband, and he knows me, which means we need a sofa to reflect that.
For those of you looking for traditional-styled cherry wood bed frames, maple bedroom sets, or TV armoires, please inquire.
Next on the agenda is to work on date night. Last night we went to a King’s hockey game. Maybe we’ll try going to more theater, or attend the symphony. (Who am I kidding? We hate the symphony.) Make that a rock concert. We’ll go to rock concerts. (Jewish ones)
We’re going to change our health habits and work out more, and sleep less, make love more, and cry less, and laugh more, and eat better, and do everything that you do when you get a divorce. Except, we’re not getting divorced. We’re just divorcing ourselves from the last fifteen years of our firsts. And I am so excited to enter the next fifteen years of our seconds, without the fits, without the bad furniture, and without the hassle of any overpriced lawyers or expensive ceremonies to commemorate it.
Thank you Robbie for an awesome 15 years! Here’s to another 15 groups of 15 more after that!
**Actually, our hebrew anniversary was yesterday, but since we were celebrating, I didn’t get to post this till today.
January 19, 2010 | 5:00 am
Posted by Chava Tombosky
Being the wife of a Rabbi who has run several organizations over the years, I have become a professional fundraiser attendee. I collect place cards. I have perfected my crudités schmoozing lingo. Usually I start with a- “So where are you from?” sort of question. “Where did you go to school? How many kids do you have, where do they go to school?” If I get really interested in the person I am meeting, the questions will start pouring out of me like a host with a mic. My husband calls this the “Barbara Walters” routine.
If you’re going to do schmoozing professionally, you gotta take your time with the ultimate question which is – What do you do? I have had a hard time answering this question for many years, and always dreaded coming up with the perfect answer. What do I do? I do motherhood. I do clean- up. I do spousal stuff. I do errands. Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly confident I’ll tell people I’m a singer, I’m a writer, I’m a poet, I’m a runner, I’m a cookie dealer. You know, try to mix it up.
Then there’s the actual dinner, which usually moves into the ballroom. This is the moment you get to tag your seat with your place card. It’s like having your name up in lights. It’s quite the ego boost. I always wondered how the dinner chairs decide where to seat people. Dinner chairs, that’s what they call people who have their name engraved on the invitation. (It’s way more significant then my little folded place card.) They are usually overdressed in ball gowns and carry clipboards looking quite important at the event itself. (I should know- I’ve been one of these before. Put on an earpiece that is attached to a walkie-talkie, you got yourself the bell of the ball. )
Sometimes they seat you next to people who are in the same profession as yourself, which means we’ve sat next to other Rabbis occasionally. If it is separate seating, then I’ll be seated next to Rebbetzins. Sometimes, I get seated next to people that reside in the same vicinity as myself. Why is it that if you go to an event in Los Angeles, they assume EVERYBODY in the valley knows each other, from North Hollywood past Ventura, like we’re all part of the exact same neighborhood watch committee?
“Hello this is Sandy, you should know each other, she lives in North Hollywood.”
Oh of course I know Sandy- she only lives eighteen miles away, goes to a completely different synagogue, and has her children in a school that if I were to drive to during morning rush hour, I would arrive just in time for carpool, that is Pick-up, not drop off.
I love noticing the centerpieces. I’ve sat next to jars filled with water and orchids, tight roses and gardenias in a glass box, feathers in a vase that change colors, crystals hanging on a tree. But the worst combination I have ever seen was Red roses with baby’s breath on a black tablecloth. It felt like I was at a funeral awaiting a procession. Here’s a little hint, when it comes to the centerpiece,
A) Keep it simple so it doesn’t feel like my dollars went to the florist instead of the sick kids.
B) Keep it low so I can see the people sitting across from me.
C) Keep it narrow, so the bread-basket doesn’t end up on my plate. I like having room for my cute little handbag on the table so I don’t lose it. Also, I don’t like your fancy centerpiece to detract from my place card. I worked hard for that handwritten calligraphy calling-card, don’t make me have to chuck it too early.
The best part of going to events, are the many speeches. But there is always some poor shmuck who is offended he was not thanked. It happens every time. It’s like the rule in fundraisers. No matter how many lists are made of people that have donated their time, money and resources, there is always one forgotten. In fact, I think we should make it a Jew rule, that if you are forgotten in a speech you deserve a prize, like a free bring-a- friend place card for the next event. (We can make that a Christian rule too.)
If you’re attending a really awesome fundraiser, they’ll throw in a great entertainer, just so you don’t get bored. My favorites have been Peter Himmelman the singer and Modi the comedian. Both of whom I’ve hired for events. (And yes, I was holding a clipboard and wearing an ear-piece during their events.) Even when the lights went out and the crowd became rowdy, they stood their ground and took the glitches like real men. Still coming off funny and entertaining, they held their own.
Then there comes dessert. I’ve been served sorbet with fruit, chocolate mousse, strawberry praline, cookies, apple pie ala-mode, but my favorite by far is always the very elaborate Viennese table. Cause nothin’ says “we’re using your money for good” like a long table filled with over priced whimsical little layered cakes.
My favorite part of going to fundraisers is the overall feeling that eating my roast beef helped a little girl learn Aleph Bais, or chowing on my chocolate torte helped a teacher get her pay check. To all of you who have gone to your share of fundraisers, I raise my glass to the added effort you have taken in paying for your Barney’s dress/suit, hiring a sitter, and writing that check that funds the many benefits we are all trying so hard to support even in this most difficult economic climate.
And to Judith, at the Luxe, the one woman I see pretty much every two weeks, you can write my place card ahead of time, and just keep a seat warm, cause I’ll be back next week for another one. I’m sure.
January 18, 2010 | 1:18 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
A young woman in her early twenty’s recently admitted to me her struggle in seeing her future. She has yet to figure out her calling. She is a beautiful young woman who is in the course of trying to decipher what step to take next with her life. She said this sentence that I imagine many others might think (during this economic environment) but dare to say. She said:
“Life is one big burden.”
I propose to notice the beauty and the possibility in the day rather than the encumbrance of worries, or the onus of new responsibilities that come with living on one’s own, paying bills, or figuring out one’s future. Fear is a very powerful emotion. And if we let it, it can overtake our lust for life. Here are some quotes said by Martin Luther King Jr. that I do hope will give us all the inspiration to seize the day and see life with new possibilities:
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
“I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.”
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
“I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
“I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.”
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
“Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.”
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
“The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.”
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
“We must use time creatively.”
January 17, 2010 | 1:41 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
Sundays are the hardest days for me to squeeze in my work out as I wrestle with wanting to lie in bed that extra tempting hour since carpool is not an issue and the thought of a big leisure breakfast is the only desire that permeates.
So I went online to gain a little inspiration. This website known as “Real Women’s Fitness” had this to say about keeping trim fit abs:
*“So how should I do cardio for better abs?
Keep your cardio simple. If you are trying to lose weight so that your abs show through you should do three or four sessions a week of some nice high intensity sprinting. Each session should last for not much longer than 20 minutes and should be followed by a nice warm down.”
Perfect, that is great advice. Plus it leaves me guilt free lying under my cozy covers as I calculate the three to four sessions and realize they do NOT have to include Sunday! Yaa! But-
THEN I READ THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH:
“However, one has to keep in mind that nothing in fitness is a hard and fast rule. I do my three set cardio workouts per week but I also lift weights four times a week, play indoor soccer twice a week, train martial arts at home and walk the dog twice a day. Just because high intensity cardio is better for burning fat it does not mean you should stop your daily jog or your weekly sporting match.”
Did this woman just say she lifts weights four times a week, plays soccer, trains martial arts and takes fourteen walks a week? She just added at least twenty-two hours to her work out regimen a week! Which means the work out professionals of today are saying that in order to stay fit, a person has to work out at a minimum of THREE hours a day.
For those of you having a hard time squeezing in 3-4 hours at the gym or with your dog, I’ve concocted my own regimen to help you get those flat abs promised by “real” women’s fitness:
1. Drive past Vons and park across the street in the Ralphs parking lot. Take out TWO large duffel bugs and hike with one over each shoulder to the VONS store. (Cardio warm up)
2. Walk past the carts and fill up your duffels with as many groceries as you can possibly gather. This will help strengthen your biceps while feeding your family. (Weight lifting regimen)
3. Pay for your groceries in the “do it yourself” aisle. Every single workout has that moment where you’re ready to sprint, stop breathing, and pretty much want to kill your trainer for forcing you to strain yourself- this is that part of the workout. Plus you get extra cardio for emptying your duffels and repacking them. Type in the number indicating Gala apple. Do it again. It didn’t work? Do it again. One more time. Call over the “cashier” they’re paying to torment you. See- how many reps you’re up to?
4. Carry your FULL duffels back to your car. (cool down)
5. Stop at the gas station, pump that lever YOURSELF. Adding to a little more arm strengthening. Don’t cheat by pushing down the metal lever that holds the pump for you.
6. Shlep those duffels back into the house, unload.
7. Cook dinner using a HEAVY pot and now jog out of the house as quickly as you can, since this routine has literally filled your entire day, and it is now three thirty and carpool awaits.
Don’t forget to breath, drink, and pray.
Cause this is a work out for “Real Women” .
(For those of you doing this with babies or toddlers, kudos! You can add an extra 1600 calories lost after this routine.)
January 15, 2010 | 3:02 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
My latest Kitchen Gadget has changed my life in the most staggering way:
For the past two years I have longed for a serious coffee machine made by Nespresso that u can only buy from William Sonoma or other high-end Kitchen stores.
Most recently my brother caught on to this coffee drinking experience after his trip to Italy where he was exposed to the best espresso EVER.
Being my brother and I are on a shoestring budget we spend our days checking in with each other sending each other posts on the best websites that have this machine at the cheapest discounted price. The best deal so far? Three Hundred bucks and a month’s supply of coffee cartridges known as capsules- (don’t ask).
We comb the malls looking for William Sonoma stores and pose as potential customers just to get a sip of this incredible brew from their sample machine.
We are obsessed with this appliance.
My husband is a man with very few needs. If it were up to him, he’d live in a bare apartment with a toothbrush and a shoe-horn he’d double as a spoon and a paper weight. I can count on my hand how many times we’ve ventured to the mall for a shopping expedition for his wardrobe. I have a big closet. He has a drawer. I have forty-one pairs of shoes. He has two, running shoes and dress shoes. We’ve already established in my last blog that I am not royalty, but I do however enjoy the finer things in life- like getting manicures now and then and good espresso.
My husband has always been quite generous with my “high lifestyle” habits, but there are certain things he cannot wrap his head around. “Why can’t u do your own nails- u can reach them. And if it’s all about getting caffeine in your system, instant works just fine.”
So I’ve taken to using cash at the nail salon to hide my dirty little grooming secret. Not that he doesn’t know about it, but it leaves him less less stressed when he combs the bills and doesn’t find “Lee’s Nail Salon” posted all over the ATM summary. But this coffee machine will have to be the one indulgence that my husband will actually have to agree with if I’m going to purchase it. It’s one thing to spend twenty bucks once a month (ok three times a month) but a wopping three hundred bucks- that calls for a family decision. (I won’t even mention the milk frother for an extra fifty that changes the whole experience into true coffee house bliss. You’ve never seen foam this fluffy.)
Monday morning at approximately 0-100 hours, I receive the following text from my brother (who also has to convince his practical wife why this machine will inherently change his life for the better) “My wife bought me a Nespresso machine”.
I was deeply happy for my brother who shares this taste for extravagant coffee as I do. Yet I was envious of his new morning consisting of cappuccinos with floral aromas and full-bodied notes emerging with woody hints of cocoa.
After receiving several coffee tip texts, like how heating the coffee mug before adding the brew makes it extra tasty, and my brother’s bragging of his little spoons he purchased to match his little cups– I became desperate.
So I did what any highly trained Jewish wife would do to circumvent her husband’s biases towards this incredibly innovative lavish Kitchen appliance.
I sent my kid on the job.
Like the little cadet he is, my thirteen year old convinced his father he would be saving tons of money each day from mommy’s over done Starbucks runs and that within four months the machine would practically pay for itself. “Plus,” he said, “mommy will be really happy and isn’t that what life’s about- making mommy happy?” (This kid’s got skills)
So I am proud to say that Operation Nespresso was a success. As I sit sipping an Ethiopian variety espresso with sweet and floral notes, reminiscent of jasmine, I am forever grateful to my loving prudent husband for the best Chanukah gift ever!
(He even got me the milk frother.)
* This essay is dedicated to my darling husband, after suffering with a pretty miserable wife who has been sick with a cold and has given him grief just because she was feeling lousy.
** This essay is also dedicated to my brother, Yaak on the auspicious occasion of his 33rd birthday and to my sweet sweet sister in law who has managed to give my brother the best gift ever!
***Also a shout out to my brother Mendy on his 19th birthday…..both brothers were born on the same day- how random is that??
January 13, 2010 | 10:16 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
I recently attended a wedding of a dear friend. What made this wedding unlike most was that this was the bride’s second wedding. After living through a tumultuous first marriage, she was blessed to have a redo, a second chance, with a wonderfully sensitive man who compliments her greatly and has accepted her two children from her previous marriage with opened arms.
There is a Jewish saying that goes “Simcha Paretz Geder”, “Happiness can break all boundaries”. Life is a dichotomy filled with great challenges, deep sadness, loss, ultimate joy and celebration. Divorce has not been a foreign challenge for me, as I witnessed my own parents’ divorce after thirty-one years. The pain involved in a long term relationship ending is like no other. Everyone suffers when a marriage ends. The husband and wife are left to their own devices to begin their life again without real preparation, and the children become the ultimate sacrifice. Many tears are spilled and many cries are shed.
It is said of Moses as he was floating in the Reed river wrapped in a blanket inside a tar made basket, that he was saved by Princess Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh when she heard Moses’ sweet crying. A Jewish cry is like no other. A Jewish cry is the cry of conviction and of resilience. Maybe when the Torah speaks of the Jewish nation being referred to as “The Chosen People”, it is referring to us as being chosen to be the cry of hope in the midst of the storm. It is our job as a collective people to find that hope and pass it on to others. For the paradox of the human spirit and hope is in order to have it, one must give it away. And who has endured more dark moments, more trying times than the Jewish nation? But how does one attempt to not become a victim of his own tears?
There are times you are feeling as if it can’t get any worse, all is lost, and hope is but a muted whisper. It is said in the Torah that the Jews after being enslaved, tortured, and persecuted for two hundred and ten years in Egypt finally left with Moses at Midnight. The sages ask, why was it necessary for the Jewish people to leave at that hour? It almost feels as if they were sneaking out of town, maybe afraid of being persecuted again. But G-d created great miracles with the ten plagues, surely he was finally known to the world for his Divine powers. There would have been no need to “sneak” them out of Egypt. If anything, they should have left in the middle of the day as testimony to G-d’s ultimate sovereignty over “The Great” Pharaoh and the entire world.
As always, no detail in the Torah is an accident. This small detail is the mystery to the greatest lesson of human survival. The moment of midnight is the darkest point of the entire day cycle. The minute after midnight, however, is the beginning of light emerging. This light continues to get a bit brighter minute by minute until it is shining with ultimate brightness upon the moment of morning sunrise.
As in life, there are times we believe our challenges are at its darkest moments. It can’t possibly get any darker. It is at those moments we may not even feel G-d’s presence. We are left destitute without a map veiled in a grave of black somber tears. But at that very moment when life is at its darkest, G-d’s sweet breath whispers hope. And just when you think it is the darkest, a moment after that begins the emergence of light. Every moment thereafter brightens with greater and greater force.
This is the lesson of the Jews leaving at Midnight to teach us the human spirit can never stay in a state of darkness. This is not a natural place to STAY. It may be a natural place to endure, but ultimately light will seep into our challenges and propel us to new and greater heights as it did for my dear friend this past week.
When I met this friend five years ago, she was fraught with the greatest loss she had ever endured. The thought of her ability to ever get a do-over was the farthest thing in her mind. She was overcome with sadness and spent most days mourning for what could have been. And here, a few years later, with jubilation plastered on her face as she glowed with triumph and exhilaration I was reminded of the power of joy and the power of a Jewish woman’s tears. The power of music vibrating through her as she danced to the music of her new life taking flight, pulsing and bursting with the knowledge that yes, life can have it’s lows, but those lows can catapult us to the depths of elation we never thought possible because ultimately there is always hope.
My friend never did allow herself to become a victim to her pain. She is a woman with great dignity always trusting her experience would give her strength, and that it did. Her indestructible grace has always been a source of great inspiration to me. May we all be blessed to learn from our challenges as she did and for those of you enduring difficult trials today, may you be comforted in knowing, midnight is but a minute away from the bright morning.
*This essay is dedicated to the Chosson and Kallah and to my new friend Rebbetzin Feige Twersky. To view her inspiring essays go to: http://www.aish.com/f/rf/
**This Essay is also dedicated to the many families who have been struck by the tragic earthquake in Haiti. May G-d give you strength to be blessed with the ability to heal, repair, and restore all that you have lost.