Sunday, 29 June 2008

Are You Really Kosher?

This article is dedicated to the speedy recovery of Tinuk ben Rinasi Tova Chanah Trina

From the time I was a small child, I used to enjoy helping my grandmother in the kitchen. There were a few things my grandmother was very strict about, one of them being the cleaning of fruits and vegetables prior to cooking or eating. Some felt this was an extra stringency on the part of my grandmother who loved to be neat, clean and organized and whose home was an epitome of this. It was only years later when I started to learn about the laws of kashrut that I realised the importance of what my grandmother taught us.

In Parshat Kedoshim in the book of Leviticus, G-d tells Moshe Rabeinu (our teacher) to speak to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel and say to them:

“You shall be holy, for holy am I, Hashem, your G-d”. Later when giving us the laws of keeping kosher, once again G-d tells us that He is holy and the nation of Israel shall be holy. So it is that the very food we eat has an effect on our spiritual make up.

Most of us when beginning to learn about keeping Kosher, learn of the importance to eat milk and meal separately. Most of us know of not eating pig. Some of us know that there are other animals also forbidden for Jews to eat. Did you know though that we are forbidden to eat insects? In fact the prohibition of eating pig is only mentioned once in the Torah, whereas if one eats an insect, one transgresses at least 5 prohibitions!

So important is this mitzvah that our sages teach that refraining from eating insects would have been enough for G-d to redeem us from Egypt.

Many don’t realise exactly how important this mitzvah is and how easy it is to transgress and to eat insects. For this reason, there are certain methods for checking ones fruit, vegetables and grain for insects and worms. How often do you stop before eating a luscious juicy piece of fruit to cut it open and have a look at what might be inside?

How often do you open a piece of dried fruit to see if there is anything forbidden hidden within it?

It is not just an old fashioned trend that our grandmothers kept and tried to teach us.

Just the other day, I opened up a dried apricot and this was the result:

Checking for bugs and cleaning our fruits and vegetables is an important part of being Jewish. It helps us physically and it also has a spiritual effect. It helps us to live up to the teaching from G-d through Moses that: “You shall be holy, for holy am I, Hashem, your G-d”

Rav Moshe Vaye in his work on bug checking discovered that the fruits and vegetables in the USA are just as infested as they are in Israel. Wherever you are, if you wish to keep a good, kosher, Torah home, it is worthwhile to learn the techniques of how to wash and check your fruits, vegetables and grains for bugs, insects and worms.

For any further information:

Rav Moshe Vaye is the author of "Bedikas Hamozon Kehalochoh." This is in Hebrew and contains comprehensive diagrams showing the types of insects that are found in fruits, vegetables and grains.

There is a small booklet on Cleaning Foods from Insect Infestation also by Rav Moshe Vaye.

If anyone is outside of Israel or unable to obtain any of these books and wishes to, or any other books on keeping a kosher home, we would be happy to ship it to you.

If you would like other information you can either do a google search or sign up for a series of practical shiurim, learning these very techniques.

Friday, 27 June 2008

How Can We Change the World? – By Starting with Ourselves!

This article is dedicated to the merit of Tinuk ben Rinasi Tova Chanah Trina for a
Refuat HaNefesh and Refuat HaGuf

There is a beautiful story of someone who was investigating converting to Judaism. He went to speak to the great Sage Hillel and asked to be taught the whole Torah while standing on one foot.

Hillel's response was "all that is hateful unto you, don't do unto others, the rest is commentary go and study." This is a famous teaching and one that always intrigued me. After all, why state it in the negative. Why did Hillel not find a way to word it with only positive words saying perhaps:
"everything that is pleasing to you, do unto your fellow"

Let us look at another teaching to help us to put this into perspective and to realise the Torah response to life.

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that everything that occurs in life and in this world is directed by G-d at every moment. For this reason, if you happen to encounter someone, that meeting was co-ordinated by G-d for your benefit. So we might ask, what benefit is it for me if I meet someone who behaves badly, or if my neighbour plays music so loud that I can not concentrate. Whatever happens, is for our ultimate good. But, we may ask, how can this be?

So we look again at what Hillel taught and this reminds us of another important law from the Torah. This being that we are only permitted to rebuke our fellow Jew if we know that they will be able to receive the feedback and use it for the good. Further our rebuke has to be given from a place of love. That means not with anger or frustration or disgust.

How then are we to live in a world where many experiences upset us? How are we to internalise that these very experiences are for our good.

Let us look at a scenario to illustrate this. On a particular day, Reuven is out and about and happen to see someone throwing garbage on the floor and that upsets him. If Reuven has the skills to explain or teach the person to throw his/her garbage in a refuse bin, then he is not only permitted to do so but expected to as all Jews are responsible for one another. If however, by trying to explain the correct path, Reuven will only gain an enemy, so Hillel teaches, "all that is hateful unto you, do not do unto others" As we already see, in order to understand what this means, we have already had to look at two other concepts from the Torah. We know too that it is impossible to predict a person’s reaction but we can know how we will present it. We can know whether we are able to explain something with soft, kind words or out of anger and negativity.

So in his wisdom, Hillel continued to state that the rest is commentary or rather explanation of how to put this into practise and our task is to learn the Torah with a view to how to do change our focus so that we do not do anything to another that will be upsetting if done to us.

What then do we do? If we are concerned not to create an enemy, the response is to daven to Hashem to help the person. In addition to this to make sure that we take responsibility to always put our own garbage in the refuse bin so as not to upset another. So that you are taking care to respect the beautiful environment and so as to prevent anyone slipping or hurting themselves from our garbage. The reasons as to why we do this are again taught in the Torah.

A beautiful exercise is given from Life Skills training. Take a piece of paper and draw 4 concentric circles. Now you have 4 steps to follow, moving from the centre outwards:

1) In the middle write yourself. You can put your name or write the word me.

2) In the next circle out, write the names of your closest loved ones. Parents, siblings, spouse, those closest to you.

3) In the next circle write your friends and those relatives not quite as close to you. You can also put any possessions, pets etc that are meaningful to you in this circle.

4) In the last one put those people who have an impact on your life but you do not really know personally. Also place those items that are not as meaningful to you but are part of your life.

Now look again at this diagram. If you want a perfect world, where do you begin to make a change?

The Torah teaches us and modern techniques in personal development agrees that the most effective method and the way that uses the least energy is to begin in the centre and from there, G-d willing there will be a positive ripple effect to all your encounters.

Hillel in his wisdom knew that this is the way to make the most impact in the world and hence he worded his response exactly as he did. With every situation, experience and encounter, take a step back and consider what you can learn from it. What are the positive parts and what do you not enjoy. Says Hillel, anything you do not enjoy, use that to recognise the teaching coming to you directly from Hashem. Since everything is directed by Hashem, He is guiding you as to how or where to work on yourself.

In our example, what Reuven did not like was seeing another throwing his/her garbage on the floor. Perhaps Reuven is very good about always throw your garbage in a refuse bin. He can look at whether perhaps there is another way in which he is littering his home or environment? Is there anyway in which he can take more care to clean up your environment. Does he need to organise your area or space? If he is still not sure what to do or how this applies to you, says Hillel, the place to look is in the Torah. So go and study all the sections relevant to what you encountered and through this, allow Hashem to open your eyes to how to be more sensitive to others. More sensitive to the world we live in and our impact on and in it. More sensitive to what Hashem wants of us.

In this way, may you create a vessel to receive Hashems blessings. Since part of Hashems blessing is light, may you become a true “Light unto the Nations”. An example of how to behave correctly in the beautiful world that G-d created

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Please, Can you Help Me?

On the sister blogspot Dwelling Place Below will find a new series of articles dealing with the laws of giving charity. Let us take a look at a real story to help us consider just what we are giving and whether our giving is in fact what is being asked for.

The following story took place some years ago. When walking down a main road, Leah noticed a beggar who was different. Something caught her attention. Why would someone who had a tracheostomy be on the street? If he needed such a procedure, surely he should be receiving medical attention and some kind of assistance through that?

Leah walked up to the "beggar"and greeted him. She asked him how he was and gradually geared the conversation to why he was there. It turned out that this man was an immigrant to the country where Leah was and had developed Yena Machela in his throat. The disease spread quite quickly after being detected and necessitated his having a tracheotomy, a hole made in his wind pipe through which he could breathe. The nature of the "beggars" work involved his climbing a ladder several times a day, which was now too taxing for him. In addition he often became exposed to various smells or gases which again was not good for him with this new diagnosis and the tracheotomy. As a result, very soon after ending up in hospital he became un-employed and as a result ended up on the street.

As an health practitioner, Leah was aware of the procedure for evaluating a persons ability to work, whether s/he qualified for rehabilitation to seek more suitable employment and whether s/he qualified for a disability grant. After some enquiry she found out that she knew the hospital where the "beggar" had been a patient and also some of the staff members. Leah wrote a note to the "beggars" doctor on a piece of paper from her handbag requesting referral to certain key members of the team and gave it to the man.

The next week, he was back in the same place and a few enquiries indicated that there was a snag. What was it? Through taking the time to ask what had happened, Leah found out that he was an immigrant and hence the social worker stated he did not qualify for a disability grant. The relevant occupational therapist was away.

At this point the conversation changed direction. Had the doctors given any prognosis and what did he, the "beggar" really want?

Yes, they had given a prognosis and it was not very long. The "beggar" dearly wanted to return to his family but did not have the money to do so. He was sure that his family would be able to take care of him for the last months or year of his life but he did not have the means to get in touch with them or to travel to them.

Leah asked if he would be prepared to put a small story explaining his situation in the local community paper. He readily agreed and agreed to be in touch with the necessary persons from the community paper. Leaving him with the necessary contact information and money for a call from a public phone, Leah reasured him she would meet him again.

There was no again though. Very quickly the "beggar" was no longer in his place. After a few weeks of not finding him, Leah became concerned. Not knowing what to do, she asked another beggar if he had seen the "beggar" in question. It turned out that the story in the community paper was successful. Our "beggar" friend was given the means through kind donations and gifts to purchase an air ticket to return to his family abroad. He was given the opportunity to fulfil his dying wish and that was to return to his family whom he had not seen for over 20 years. He was given the gift of settling any un-finished business he might have had with them. Above all this, he was given the opportunity to die in peace and with dignity.

What can we learn from this situation? The Baal Shem Tov teaches us that every single detail is directed by Hashem. He teaches further that we are supposed to use everything Hashem gives us for the good.

So often we see a beggar in the street or open the door to someone requesting help and presume we know what they want. We presume that a few coins will solve their problems and might even pat outselves on the back for having given some charity that day. It is, however, very easy to neglect asking whether a few coins is what is needed. And if some money is required, how much is necessary and what is the real need.

If we would just talk to the one who asks for help, we might discover that Hashem has sent us someone that we can personally help in a far great manner. Yes the beggar in Leah's story asked for money. But he had not mentioned that what he really wanted was someone to open the door for him to return home to his family. He did not know how to admit that he was dying or that he really needed a ticket home. A ticket to die at home, surrounded by his loved ones.

Next time someone asks you for help, money or advise. Stop a minute. Say Hello. As the great Shammai taught, greet them with a friendly countenance. Ask them what they really need and then take a moment to go over in your mind whether you have the skills, connections or any means to help them obtain their true goal in life. Leah did not have the money for an air ticket. She did not have contacts in the country her beggar friend had come from. But she had some knowledge and ideas and readily shared them with him. In this way, she unlocked the door and enabled him to progress on his journey in the manner he needed to go and not in the manner he presented on the street corner.

May you be blessed with the patience and wisdom to know just how to give to those who ask from who. May you be blessed with the humility to give on the highest level in the most appropriate manner, taking care to respect your fellow and not embarrass him in any way, G-d forbid. Through your sensitivity, may Hashem open the doors to you and whomever you help along the way that the effort you put in can be truly what is right and appropriate.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Next Tehillim Group

If you are a woman or young girl who is able to recite Tehillim, please join us to recite the Sefer Tehillim.

Our next Tehillim group will take place on
Shabbos, 19 July 2008.

To submit a name or recite some Tehillim: Please email :

Please note, the Tehillim is recited in the comfort of your own home, garden or wherever you are.

To those reciting Tehillim, please make sure to recite your Tehillim during daylight hours i.e. any time from (Halachic) midnight to (Halachic) sunset. The Kaballah teaches us only to recite Tehillim during these hours (i.e. not from (Halachic) sunset until the (Halachic midnight.) For more info about the time of Chatzos - Halachic midnight, see:

For more information in understanding the beauty of the midnight hours, see Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum's book "The Sweetest Hour":

For more information about the value of Tehillim, and more see:

A final Point: Since our Tehillim Group is now taking place on Shabbos, we will not be making Specific Requests. Instead, using the wording from the Siddur for those whose names are read at the Sefer Torah for a healing, we ask Hashem that in the merit of the Tehillim and the Holyness of Shabbos, He remember the person for whatever they require.

Thank you for joining us and uniting

as Jewish women and girls
around the world
in the reciting of the Sefer Tehillim.

Monday, 16 June 2008

The Man and His Three Friends

A certain man had three friends, two of whom he loved dearly, but the other he lightly esteemed. It happened one day that the king commanded his presence at court, at which he was greatly alarmed, and wished to procure an advocate. Accordingly he went to the two friends whom he loved; one flatly refused to accompany him, the other offered to go with him as far as the king's gate, but no farther. In his extremity he called upon the third friend, whom he least esteemed, and he not only went willingly with him, but so ably defended him before the king that he was aquitted.

In like manner, every man has three friends when Death summons him to appear before his Creator. His first friend, whom he loves most, namely, his money, cannot go with him a single step; his second, relations and neighbours, can only accompany him to the grave, but cannot defend him before the Judge; while his third friend, whom he does not highly esteem - his good works - goes with him before the King, and obtains his aquittal.

(This thought is one of the Parables and Legends found in the Talmud. It was translated in a beautiful book that my late grandmother gave me entitled "A Book of Jewish Thought" Selected and arranged by the Chief Rabbi Dr J.H. Hertz, Londong, 1926)

May the above thought help you to value the kind deeds that you do and inspire you to increase in goodness and kindness, especially as we move towards Rosh HaShanah

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Each Day Is a New Account

So often we wake up and wonder how to fill the hours of our day. We wonder how to do everything we want to that day. Or we decide we will just "be" that day and allow the time to pass. However we decide to use our time, this poem gives us something to think about.:

If, you had a bank that credited your account each morning with $86, 000 ...

That carried over no balance from day to day ...

Allowed you to keep no cash in your accounts ...

And every evening cancelled whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day ...

What would you do?

Draw out every cent every day, of course, and use it to your advantage!

Well, you have such a bank ... And its name is "TIME".

Every morning, it credits you with 86 400 seconds.
Every night it writes off as lost whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose.
It carries over no balances. It allows no overdrafts.

Each day, it opens a new account with you.
Each night, it burns the records of the day.

If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours! There is no going back. There is no drawing against the "TOMORROW."

It is up to each of us to invest this precious fund of hours, minutes and seconds in order to get from it the utmost in HEALTH, HAPPINESS AND SUCCESS!

May it be G-d's Will that you use your time to the full. That you fill your time with kind deeds, goodness. That you find creative new ways to bring beauty into the world and to put a smile on the face of your fellow Jew, and, through this, to give Nachas to Hashem.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Tehillim Group - Uniting Women around the World through Prayer

There are a few beautiful teachings that have lead to our Tehillim Group. Our Tehillim Group is a little unusual as it is not held in one place, rather, women join in from wherever they are, thus uniting in Tehillim around the world.

Let us take a look at these teachings and then offer another thought on this service / group and information as to how we operate.

We are taught that:

  • The Final Redemption will come through the merit of Righteous Jewish Women

  • There is power in prayer said in a group

  • There is great merit to reciting the whole sefer Tehillim in one sitting or session

  • If one davens for another Jew who needs the same as you do, then your prayer is answered first.

  • If we only knew how powerful the reciting of Tehillim is, we would spend all our time just doing Tehillim.

We have combined all of these concepts together with the realization that in today's time, people have busy schedules and can not always make it to someone's home or a venue to join together in saying Tehillim. Thanks to modern technology, we offer for Jewish women around the world to participate in this beautiful and powerful mitzvah. After just a few months, we already began to hear of movement for those on the list in a positive way. We are therefore trying to make this a more regular service.

If you, a loved on or friend is in need of tefilloth (prayer) for Refuat haNefesh and Refuat haGuf (a healing of body and soul); Parnassa Tova (a good livelihood); A Shidduch; Shalom Bayis; or any other assistance from Heaven, please send their Hebrew name together with the Hebrew name of their mother to be placed on our list. Please note, there are many Jews in need of prayers and we do aim to complete the Sefer Tehillim each time we daven for all on the list. For this reason, we ask that everyone who sends through a name, also agree to say at least one kapitela of Tehillim for all on the list. If you send through many names we will ask you to say more Tehillim.

For Jewish Women and girls: please let us know if you are able to say a few Tehillim for all those on our list. Please also state if this is for a specific Shabbat or as a regular participant.

When: We had tried reciting Tehillim on a week day and found that some have work, some are taking care of children, everyone is busy. For this reason, the Tehillim is being moved to Shabbos, a day of rest and specifically set aside for Torah learning and increased prayer. Shabbos Mevorchim (the Shabbos preceding the New Month) is a special time to say Tehillim. As a result, we make a special effort for Tehillim on every Shabbos Mevorchim. Other than this, we try to do Tehillim on other Shabbosim. The more we have those who are able to committ to regularly doing Tehilim the easier it will be to have this as a weekly group.

If you will be in Beitar Illit on any Shabbos that the group will be taking place, please contact Shoshanah to come in person.

We prefer that those who join us with the Tehillim, also recite all the names on the list. The Tehillim list used to be sent out by Thursday at the latest, preceding the Shabbos concerned. It is now posted onto our website where you can find the names each week. Please send any information by Wednesday to help us to compile the list and send it out.

If you have not received your list by Thursday night, please send an email to
Please note that any names or enquires received after the list is compiled will be held over to the following list. In addition, I stop checking email by 12 noon Jerusalem time on Wednesday's, so please do not expect any reply or any names put onto the list after this time.

If you are unable to print out the list, if you can, please read through it in advance and have in mind that your Tehillim on Shabbos will be for those on this list. If you can not do this either, please do keep in mind before starting your Tehillim that you are saying it for all on the list arranged through Leiv Esther, the women's section of Yeshivas Dira Betachtonim.

Please also make sure that you have all your information, which Tehillim you will be saying etc ready for you prior to lighting your Shabbath Candles so that you are not breaking Shabbat to check what Tehillim to say or for whom. If you do not yet observe Shabbos, please do respect this and let it be the first thing you do in honour of our Holy Shabbath. If you have forgotten to write down which Tehillim to say, you can open your book of Tehillim at random and say a few Tehillim, keeping in mind this will be your Tehillim for those on the list.

If for any reason they did not correspond, you can email me after Shabbat. If your prayer was with honest sincerity and you are being careful not to desecrate Shabbath by checking the computer or something that might be forbidden, Hashem can use your prayers to help make up the book. It might sound strange, but ultimately, G-d is in charge and an do anything.

Regarding the list: The list is drawn up new each week to make sure that we daven only for those who need it and for what they require. We are taught not to daven for a healing for someone who has already received it, lest they return to a situation of needing another healing. We therefore ask you to notify us each time someone's name is appropriate to have on the list.

If there is any change, please let us know so that we can make the appropriate change to the list e.g. if someone on the list for shidduchim gets engaged, please let us know so that they can be changed from shidduchim to success in preparing for chuppah and building a Bayit Ne'eman B'Yisrael. We also are aware that change can be in a direction we had not expected or wanted. If therefore, someone was on the list for a refuah and their situation worsens, G-d forbid, please let us know to change the category and increase in prayer. If someone passes on from this world, we do want to know this too to change the category to help them with an elevation of the soul.

If you have any feedback or comments, please send them through to the blogspot. We will try to take comments into consideration.

We look forward to hearing good news for Am Yisrael.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Shidduchim - As Difficult as the Splitting of the Red Sea

There is a story told that someone questioned what Hashem does all the years since creating the universe. The answer given was that He spends His time making shidduchim.

The Torah also teaches that finding one's shidduch is as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea (Sanhedrin 22a). G-d is All Powerful and able to do anything. If this is true, then why should finding one's shidduch be as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea? G-d can do anything!

One beautiful explanation I once heard was that it depends on our perspective. When you have the outlook and faith like that of Nachshon ben Aminadav -the first Jew to walk into the Red Sea then the splitting of the Red Sea is easy! Nachson ben Aminadav had pure faith that even though the sea was in his path, that somehow something would happen to change this. He began to walk into the sea, and by the time the waters reach close to his nose, they split!

Of course Hashem can do it, it is just a matter of timing and our putting in the right effort, even if that is only a token effort.

If, on the other hand, our outlook is that it is impossible to split the Red Sea - water does not behave as a wall and people cannot walk through or on water, then the shidduchim process is a difficult one too.

In my family, there is a beautiful tradition of how one of my sets of great grandparents met. My great grandfather had come out from Europe to South Africa to escape either the depression or Pogroms and was going to join a cousin in the middle of South Africa. The plan was that he would work together with this cousin in his family business. However, when he arrived, the cousin did not have enough work for him and so my great grandfather moved on to another small town. A town with little or no Jewish community. There he set up a grocery store and managed to make an honest livelihood.

One day, a traveling salesman came through the small town and they did business. At the end of the visit the traveling salesman asked my great grandfather why he was so down. They had just done business in an amicable fashion, one would think he would be happy.

My great grandfather admitted that although he was managing financially, how could he be happy when he was getting older and did not know when, if or how he could possibly meet a good Jewish woman of marriagable age.

The traveling salesman took pity on his new friend and reassured him. "Dont worry," he said. "My eldest daughter has just come of age to marry. She will make a fine wife for you."

So it was that my great grandparents united in marriage and set up a Jewish home. There was a considerable age gap, but nevertheless, they had a good marriage until my great grandfather returned his soul to his Maker. They had three daughters and from there were blessed with grandchildren and great grandchildren.

What did it take to make this shidduch? Other than Hashem's guiding hand, the honesty to tell a fellow Jew his troubles and the kindness of one Jew to another.

Why do I tell this story?
  1. To give you the reader hope, that no matter where you are, even in a desolate country town, Hashem can find a way to send the right messenger to make your shidduch happen.
  2. Although Hashem is the Main Shadchan, we at Yeshivas Dira BeTachtonim, offer the service of a listening ear and a caring heart to do what we can to help lighten your journey and enable you to meet your Life Partner (soulmate).
If you are looking for your soul-mate or concerned for a friend or relative who is still single, please contact either or

Please put your or their name on our Tehillim lists.

Please request us to send you our shidduch questionnaire, specifically designed to help you clarify who you are looking for and to help us know you better and what kind of person might be best suited to you.

May this be the effort you require in order for Hashem to split the sea for you and bring you and your true soulmate to chuppah and to building a Bayit Ne'eman together B'Yisrael.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Gifts / Artwork available for sale

If you are looking for unique gifts to give a loved one or friend of a birthday, special occasion or just wish to add something beautiful to your home, please contact us to purchase or to order your personalized gift.

Amongst the many options for gifts, you will find:

  • Hand designed / drawn or painted greeting cards
  • Hand Painted cushion covers / underwear pouches for a ladies drawer
  • Hand Painted T-shirts (we can also paint on other garments)
  • Beautiful Fridge Magnets containing photographs by Shear Success Photographers together with an appropriate Pasuk
  • Drawings and Paintings, all original work available for sale
  • Photographs of various sizes available for sale
    • the paintings and photographs are perfect to enhance your home or office space or as a gift to a new couple or someone moving into a new home.
  • Gift package selected and beautifully arranged according to the needs of the simchah, occasion, needs and tastes of the person ordering.
  • Gift Voucher for a woman to experience a relaxing massage and healing session, leaving her feeling special and at peace
Please take a look at the relevant albums in our on-line album:
  1. Fridge Magnets
  2. Mishloach Manos
  3. Shoshanah's Art
  4. Other beautiful images under nature etc in our on-line album

You are welcome to email Shoshanah to make an appointment or discuss your unique needs for your gift to:

The Gift Packages and gifts can be collected, or we will deliver to anywhere, at a delivery cost and or shipping

Please note that the proceeds of all gifts and art work go to the runnning expenses of Yeshivas Dira BeTachtonim. As a result, any gift that you purchase through us will have included in it the spiritual gift of supporting Torah learning in Eretz Yisrael that is also disseminated to Am Yisrael outside of Eretz Yisrael.

Monday, 2 June 2008

One Seed at a Time...

So often in today's busy life, we find all sorts excuses as to why we can not use the talents and skills that Hashem has given us. We get caught up in all manner of activities and allow the stress to get the better of us.

As an occupational therapist, I often train stress management skills. One of the poems I love to share is the one listed below. May it give you much strength and realise everything can be done, slowly, steadily by just persevering with whatever we do.

One seed at a time
- and the garden grows.
One drop at a time
- and the river flows.

One word at a time
- and the book is read.
One stroke at a time
- and the painting is spread.

One chip at a time
- and the statue's unveiled.
One step at a time
- and the mountain is scaled.

One thing at a time
- and that done well
Is the only sure way
to succeed and excel.

You can write, you can paint,
You can sculpt or climb.
You can do it by taking
One step at a time.

A Lesson in Kindness

My great-grandmother used to teach: "Do good and be good!" – a teaching that filtered down through her daughter to her granddaughter; and her great-granddaughter after her. This provided an unbroken chain on the importance of spreading goodness and kindness wherever and whenever possible. Where did she get this teaching from?
She was the granddaughter of a great rabbi in Dublin who taught the importance of bestowing kindness to our fellow Jew – a teaching that comes from none other than Avraham Avinu, our forefather and Sarah Imanu, our foremother. All of this might seem like interesting concepts. Nice ideas. The right thing to do when presented with a situation that someone needs help.
When one is on the receiving end of needing help, it makes one realise just how special this quality is and what extent of sensitivity can help to ease the pain of a fellow Jew or human being.
Just recently I found myself in a position of need, when unforeseen circumstances resulted in my spending a short period of time in hospital, followed by several days unable to take care of certain basic necessities. Feeling dreadful, I reached for the phone to call a friend to ask that she pray for my speedy recovery. Being new in the area I live in, I did not yet have a support system of anyone to ask to help prepare food for Shabbat, to give advice as to the best doctor to go to, to give my husband and me some support.
I thought I wanted my friend to pray for my recovery, but Hashem heard my silent cry for help and set up everything that I should receive just that. Instead of talking to my friend, I found myself talking to her mother, who immediately said she knew just the person to help. She made a call and very shortly my whole situation changed. Yes I still had to go to doctors, yes I still had to recover and deal with the pain but over the next few days, it became very evident how G-d was directing things. From not knowing anyone in our area, suddenly through an interesting turn of events, I was put in touch with a very caring person and before I knew it, a support system had been established. Having no appetite and unable to stand for long, I had no idea how I would cook for my husband. This problem dissolved as I was sent one thoughtful and caring Jew after another.

Of all of the new friends, one stands out as a model of how to offer help to your fellow Jew. This wonderful woman called and introduced herself, saying who had given her my name. She then said: “I understand something not so nice happened to you, how can I help?” There were no questions, no lectures. She had no need to know any details. All that mattered was what were the needs of the person she was about to help – in this case, me.

When I began to tell her, she listened and offered to come over with a meal. I expected some soup, enough for 2 for one meal or something simple. How pleasantly surprised we were to discover soup, chicken and vegetables enough to be heated up for a few meals.
When bringing the food, she came in and visited me for a while. When I mentioned I needed a certain doctor in our area, she did not just give a name and say to now call him myself! Rather, she realized that I was a little confused and so she asked for my phone and called herself. She insisted I have the soonest appointment they could give me and made sure all the details were written down for me, including showing me on the map how to get there.

Each time she called, it was like a breath of fresh air. It is so easy when wanting to help another to reach out with a hidden agenda. So often the story of what another is going through is interesting. We want to know. We want to give our views and opinions. We want to tell others not to question, to have faith etc, etc. When one is ill though, it is not easy to talk too much. Not everyone wants to talk about what is happening. Sometimes we just need practical help and wait and long for the person phoning, visiting or showing they care to stop long enough to listen to our needs. Perhaps we need a meal cooked, an errand run. Perhaps we need help with some household task or information about a doctor. Sometimes we just need someone to be there.

This is exactly how this special Jewish woman behaved. No lectures, no digging for information, no projecting her views, needs or perspective. She put aside who she was and where she was coming from, and was just there for the other; available for what was needed and prepared to call others to do what she could not do herself.

What a beautiful lesson she taught, an obvious messenger sent by G-d. If we can all emulate this kind of consideration for another, we will make our forefather Avraham very proud of us. Not to mention the nachas to Hashem or the obvious relief of pain by sharing with another in a manner that meets their needs and not our own hidden agenda.

As it is brought down in Likutey Moharan I:34 “In every Jew there is something precious, a virtue not found in his friend … with this he can inspire his friend to Avodas Hashem. His friend must acknowledge and accept this good point, as it is written of the angels, “They receive each from the other.” (Targum on Isaiah 6:3)


Related Posts with Thumbnails