Gut Shabbes! (Eikev)

Yesterday, I wrote about how the name of this week’s Parsha carries a hidden message about Torah observance, and teaches us that G-d’s Torah and mitzvos must govern every part of our life and behaviour. For many, including myself, the hardest thing about becoming Torah observant is observing the laws of Shabbes, and as I wrote about the way in which we must accept all of the mitzvos, I was reminded of my own struggle with keeping Shabbes.

Although it is incumbent upon us to accept and abide by every single Halacha, it’s also extremely admirable to start with just any one mitzvah. Yes, the end goal is to keep everything- but no one can start doing that overnight, and it’s important that we recognise the difficulties faced by baalei teshuva. As someone who identifies as Chabad-Lubavitch, I am constantly reminded of the power of just one mitzvah- as that mitzvah could bring Moshiach.

Torah observance is the core of Jewish life, and this includes not only the most minor mitzvos, but also the most difficult one. This week, if we all tried our hardest to keep Shabbes, we could bring Moshiach. But before Moshiach can come, we need to love and respect one another- and that includes respecting another’s efforts to keep the mitzvos.

In London, Shabbes candles should be lit at 8:12 PM, and Shabbes ends tomorrow at 9:26 PM. When lighting your candles, please keep in mind Chaim Elozor ben Baila, Moshe ben Hadasa, Moshe ben Genya, Chashachana bas Bryna and Shai bas Odeya. Thank you, and gut Shabbes!

Sparks

Today, I came across this quote in Midrash Mechilta.

At the Splitting of the Sea, a servant girl saw what Isaiah, Ezekiel and all other prophets did not behold.

At first, this seems amazing- unbelievable, even. But as we look further into the Chassidus and the teachings of the Rebbe, we realise that it is perfectly in line with Jewish thought. What does this passage say? Essentially, that no matter how small you think you are, you are as important as the most amazing gedolim we have known. Your worth is inherent. You- the person reading this right now- possess a spark of Moshe or Miriam!

The most inspiring people come from surpising backgrounds. Moshe Rabbenu grew up privileged in Mitzrayim, and yet it was he who led the rebellion against Pharaoh. Don’t let your past hold you back. No matter how humble you are, no matter how small you feel compared to great rabbonim and sages, you are important to Hashem and you have the power to bring yourself- and others- out of ‘Mitzrayim’.

So what are you waiting for? We need Moshiach NOW!

BDE

Today, a terror attack where I live claimed the lives of three people, along with the assailant.

In moments like this, it is easy to despair. The city is thrown into chaos, and the sound of gunshots and sirens ring in our ears. We think of those who lost their lives today and we think about the cruelty of the man who stole them. The calm routine is interrupted. But beneath the smoke and amidst the terror, there’s a small consolation; community spirit. To see such love and concern for one another transforms a massive tragedy into a massive tragedy with a silver lining.

But not that much of a lining; the carnage still remains, and the three innocent lives can never be reclaimed. Let’s never forget what happened today. Boruch Doyon Ho’Emess.

Award Nomination

I would like to offer my thanks to Mozer G, the creator of the blog Hasidic, for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Mozer is one of the most inspiring bloggers I’ve ever come across, and I feel honoured to be nominated by him! Here are the rules for the award. I’m not very good at things like this, so I apologise if I miss a step!

Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award.
Write them 11 new questions.
List the rules.
Display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog

Firstly, here are my answers to the 11 fascinating questions which Mozer wrote;

If you can become any creature, what would you choose to be?

A human. I believe Hashem created me this way for a reason, and I wouldn’t want to change that.

If you can choose to live in any time and place; Where? When? Why?

Here and now; London in 2017. I love living in this city because all of my friends and most of my family live here, and because I’m familiar with it. I’d never want to live anywhere else.

If you need to give up on a shower or coffee in the morning which would you choose to keep?

Coffee.

What do you do for fun?

I’m not entirely sure. I enjoy reading religious texts, and writing of course, but I don’t really do those things ‘for fun’. I guess I’d have to say spending time with friends.

What drives you to blog?

Habit. Initially, I began blogging because I had a lot to say, and I loved reading and writing. Now, I do it because not writing is unthinkably horrible.

What is your dream profession?

Something highly paid which involves very little work. Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, I’d like to work dor/with Chabad (though not as a shlucha), and probably get paid little for doing a lot.

Would you live in the house you grew up forever?

Yes, yes, and yes again. I’d give anything to live here forever. Well, not quite anything.

Movie or Book?

Book. I don’t actually watch movies anymore, much as I loved them, because I am strictly religious and don’t watch secular films.

Snow or rain?

I would once have said snow. Now I’ll say rain. Less disruptive.

Do you like meeting new people, or do you dread it?

I’m honestly not sure. But I think that nowadays, I dread it. I have no energy, and I just want to be with the people I like and trust.

What would you want your children to be when they grow up?

Right now, I don’t want children. But it would sound a little insensitive if I said ‘nonexistent’, wouldn’t it?

Now I have to nominate eleven bloggers to receive this award…

  1. Jewish Books Are Awesome
  2. Vika Herbs
  3. The Bellezza Corner
  4. Coming Out Of The Exodus
  5. Kool Kosher Kitchen
  6. Cooking For The Time Challenged
  7. Confessions Of A Baal Teshuva
  8. Hasidic
  9. Beauty Beyond Bones
  10. Cooking Without Limits
  11. Safek

…And think of eleven questions to ask them.

  1. What is your favourite book?
  2. What about your favourite recipe?
  3. Do you like travelling?
  4. Is prayer important to you?
  5. What is your favourite place in the whole world?
  6. What’s your favourite way to spend friday night?
  7. Would you rather it was always winter, or always summer?
  8. Why do you enjoy writing?
  9. Are you proud of your blog?
  10. Do you prefer emails or telephone calls?
  11. Would you rather read, or write?
  12. What is your favourite memory?

Please don’t feel pressured to answer if you don’t want to, though I would love to see your answers! And finally, here’s the photo of the Sunshine Blogger Award.

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Gut Shabbes! (Terumah)

Next Shabbes, the Shabbes before Purim, is Shabbes Zachor, a day on which we remember Hashem’s miracles and the kindness He displayed in saving us from the Amalekites. I received an email about the nature of this special day, and began thinking about the theme of remembrance. It’s a commandment to both observe and remember Shabbes- but it’s easy to leave remembrance to special days, such as next Shabbes. I felt that the email about Shabbes Zachor should have included a general note about remembering every Shabbes, not just the one before Purim, but the lack of any information on this topic led me to think about the topic myself. I realised how much more beautiful Shabbes would be if, every week, I took a few minutes to sit by the Shabbes candles and thank G-d for this amazing gift. To remember those who, unlike me, could not light Shabbes candles. Those who were persecuted. Those who to this day cannot publicly embrace their Judaism. I am truly privileged and truly lucky to have this amazing gift. Let’s make every Shabbes a Shabbes Zachor.

In London, Shabbes candles should be lit at 5:26 PM tonight. Shabbes ends tomorrow evening at 6:36 PM. When lighting your candles, please remember Chaim Elozor ben Baila, Yehuda Yitzchak ben Pessa, Shai bas Odeya and Leah bas Malpah for a refuah shleimah!

Gut Shabbes! (Shemos)

The last few days have been wonderful by me, and I’m looking forwards to shabbes in the anticipation that it’ll be similarly brilliant. This shabbes we read from the book of Shemos for the first time, and I remember how this time last year, I felt as if I was starting my own personal journey, my own exodus. Plenty has happened since then, both wonderful and terrible, and I can’t wait to see where the next few months take us. In London, shabbes candles should be lit at 4:11 PM tonight, and shabbes ends at 5:26 PM on Saturday. While lighting your candles, please keep in mind Chaim Elozor ben Baila, Schneur Zalman ben Nechama, Chaim Elozor Shaul ben Esther, Yisroel ben Esther HaCohen, Elana Rachel bas Jill Leah and Rachel bas Bluma HaCohen.

Gut shabbes!

Tehillim (A Journey Continued)

This will be, like many of my other recent posts, a rather short post.  I feel bad about this; I miss my old writing habits, I miss the time I had, and inspiration comes and goes. Today, much of my routine is taken up by housework and running errands; after I have finished the cooking, cleaning, laundry and shopping, I often feel too tired to write. Instead, I read or browse online, and by eleven o clock, I’m exhausted. But it’s not just writing I need to make time for. It’s my Creator, also.

I find it hard to admit how little time I set aside to praise G-d or simply speak to Him. To ask for His help, to thank Him, to study the texts regarding the fulfilment of His wishes. It’s probably my greatest weakness. But yesterday, my “Tehillim journey”- one which I have written about extensively- took a turn down a new path, when I received a beautiful leather-bound copy. My first thought was, “It looks like something a kallah might use”.

Needless to say, the edition’s beauty isn’t the most important thing about it. But in this case, it served to strengthen my observance. That beautiful volume contains a great amount of kedushah. Not just because of the Holy words inside. But because of its effect on me. As soon as I saw it, I resolved to spend more time saying Tehillim. I feel bad admitting that it took a beautiful book to do this for me, but above all, I’m proud of my resolution. In fact, I can’t wait to spend more time with the words of Dovid ben Yishai, and more time praising G-d. No matter what it takes.