Sunday, 25 September 2016

7 Lessons Learned from Popcorn

7 Lessons Learned from Popcorn
by Shoshanah Shear

Every item, object, plant, animal or person has a purpose. We have the ability to take any event or item and elevate it by contemplating the lessons one can learn or what positive purpose that item has in this world. Let us take popcorn as an example. Popcorn is actually quite an amazing food product.

1) Popcorn is quite versatile, add a little salt and you have something savoury, add some sugar or sweetening and you have a sweet treat. String some thread through it or add a bit of food colouring and you can have a decorative treat too.

2) Have you noticed the wonderful variety of shapes with each popped corn? Each one is different. I am not sure if anyone has photographed popcorn and compared the shapes to the next batch, but in every pot, bowl or box of popcorn every one is unique. If we stop and think about this. Every person is unique too. More than this, there is an abundance in this world. Just look at the variety of shapes in each popcorn! To me this makes me stop and think there must be a Creator to this world. Let's look at a few more examples as to why there must be a Creator and what we can learn about our Creator.

3) Looking at popcorn, I'd say our Creator must be filled with kindness. Imagine, you can have a dried cob filled with corn that has gone hard and yet, it is not a waste! Take those hard seeds, place them in a pot with a little oil and some heat and in a short time the corn will have transformed from a hard seed that could break your teeth to something that is soft, versatile, tasty and even nutritious. It's low in calories, high in fibre and contains beneficial anti-oxidants. Isn't that great kindness to us. On top of that, everyone, from the age that they are old enough to eat it, likes popcorn.

4) Popcorn gives us hope and inspiration for our potential to grow and develop. Think about it for a bit. Popcorn undergoes a total transformation once placed in a pot with a little oil and heat. If that is the good that can come out of a few hard seeds, think about the potential for every person who is filled with far more than the hard seeds are. If we apply ourselves correctly, we too can grow, change and develop to become who we are supposed to be and give goodness and happiness to the world.

5) Popcorn is quite magical and gives excitement to others. Once again I regard this as a kindness from our Creator. Mostly popcorn is yellow. We already mentioned the transformation of shape that takes place, but popcorn changes it's colour too and becomes a fluffy white that can accept any other colour when the food colouring mentioned above is applied.

6) Popcorn is such a gift. It makes watching a movie or attending a party so much more fun. For those who love popcorn at the movies, doesn't it provide the perfect way to occupy your hands and mouth while you settle into the idea of the movie? By the time you have finished your popcorn, you are absorbed into the story-line and able to concentrate despite sitting still for a long time.

7) Personally, I think popcorn is one of those items that proves there must be a Creator. What scientist or other person would be able to come up with an item that has so much that it offers. Who would be able to make such a total transformation in terms of consistency, shape, colour, texture and to come out with variety, positive lessons and nourishment too?

Next time you enjoy your popcorn, consider all the wonderful lessons that simple popcorn offers. What a wonderful way to elevate your healthy snack and use that time for good. Let the food for thought fill you with inspiration and motivation to apply your skills to something positive and productive.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Remembering Who We Are as Rosh HaShanah Approaches

It's Elul and with just over two weeks to Rosh HaShanah, there is much work to be done. Are you aware of the work required during the month of Elul? How are you progressing with your introspection and inner reflection? Is it helping you to do Teshuvah? Are you managing to revise your goals for the coming year?

Whether you are aware of how we as Jews should be spending Elul, whether you are struggling or even if you are very involved in preparing for Rosh HaShanah, the video below produced by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is important to watch. It takes almost 6 and half minutes to watch but the content is packed with meaning and very moving.

 "Why I am a Jew" ... a message for everyone.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Limited Time Offer For Tuvia Finds His Freedom

I have been thinking of offering a special on our book "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" for a while. I wanted to do it at the start of Elul, but somehow life got busy and it did not happen. No matter, here it is today, available for a week ONLY.

So hurry along to this link and you can get the English version of our book at the low price of JUST $9.50. This is an incredible special and available for ONE week ONLY. 

The book is also available in Hebrew. If you are interested in the Hebrew version, be in touch, perhaps we will reduce that too, we are not sure as yet. 

We are very excited about this special. If have any interest in Turtles, Tortoises and how to help them if they get lost, this is the book for your to read. It's short, informative and has real photographs in colour.

If you enjoy the book, how about writing a comment to let us know what you liked about it and to help your friends to know about this book too.

Shoshanah Shear

Friday, 9 September 2016

Elul is a Good Time to Check Mezuzot and Tefillin

It is customary to check one's Mezuzot and Tefillin during the month of Elul in preparation for the new year which begins on Rosh HaShanah. Where does this custom come from? Do you check them every year? Is it just superstition? Is it just something to keep one occupied and give the Sofer work to do?

Let us take a look at the Mitzvah (commandment) of Mezuzah and Tefillin. Yes, these are commandments given from G-d to Moshe Rabeinu (Moses our Teacher) and come directly from the Torah. The Kitzur (condensed or shortened) Shulchan Aruch lists the law of Tefillin (Phylacteries) before Mezuzah. The commandment for a male Jew (over the age of 13) to put on Tefillin is a positive commandment that comes from the verse in the Torah: "And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be frontlets between thine eyes" (Deuteronomy 6:8). The laws continue to include what age to begin wearing Tefillin, when and how to wear Tefillin, the problem of not putting on Tefillin for those who are supposed to, how to carry Tefillin and more. Women are exempt from putting on Tefillin as it is a time bound Mitzvah. What to do if your arm is paralyzed is also addressed. 

In the 19th law related to Tefillin it states: "It is proper to have one's Tefillin examined twice in seven years to make certain that they have not become defective through mold or perspiration. If the cases are torn, or if they were soaked in water, the parchment must be examined." Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 7:19 

Immediately after the laws related to Tefillin, come the laws related to Mezuzah. The commandment to put a Mezuzah on the door post of the home of a Jew is also a positive commandment that comes directly from the Torah. It comes from the verse: "And thou shalt write them upon the doorposts of they house and upon they gate" (Deuteronomy 6:9). The laws include where to affix a Mezuzah both in terms of the type of building or dwelling place and in terms of which rooms, which side of the door and where on the door post would be the appropriate position. How to put up the Mezuzah, reciting a blessing when putting it up is also explained. In law 12 it states that "The Mezuzah of a private dwelling should be examined twice in seven years ..." Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 8:12.

From our experience, having moved apartments numerous times, it is important to check your Mezuzot too. If the landlord or landlady tells you it is not necessary, our experience is that it is. In the one apartment where we listened to the landlady not to check the Mezuzah, the apartment was broken into. After sorting out what was stolen, what damaged and what remained in tact, we went to look at the Mezuzot only to discover one of them was totally upside down and completely Pasul which means no longer fit to be used. 

For those who argue "but the Mezuzah is new", again we say, check it before putting it up. The next apartment we moved to we had to put up our own Mezuzot and went out to purchase new ones. It took us 6 months of going to the Sofer, having the Mezuzah checked, which sometimes took a few days or a week to get an answer, finding out that one or more Mezuzot was not fit to use, having to purchase new ones, going to have them checked etc. It took a very long time before we managed to find a full set of Mezuzot that were brand new and fully Kosher, meaning fit to use. 

Is it only our own idea? When talking to some fellow Jews, one shared the following: "we hadn't been so Makpid (strict) on checking for a few years... My husband was diagnosed with the Machala (Hebrew - for the disease which refers to the C-disease. It is best not to state the name of that disease). The following day I took them all and his Tefilin to be checked, Every SINGLE ONE was Pasul! We fixed what we could fix and we replaced what needed to be replaced. And my husband had a true Nes (miracle) and with zero medical explanation was healthy again!"

The Lubavitcher Rebbe often recommended to check one's Mezuzot and Tefillin, especially when problems arise or there is lack of Brachah in a home.  

Having learned just a snippet of what the Torah law states, together with two examples of problems that can occur with problematic Mezuzot or Tefillin, what do you think? Is it just superstition? Is it just man-made? Is it just a way to create work for another? I don't think so! But to answer the last one, every person needs a means to earn an income. For one it is healing others through becoming a doctor, nurse or other healthcare practitioner. For one it is becoming a technician of some sort. Someone might be a store owner or receptionist or secretary. For those who take the time to involve themselves in mastering a section of Torah and sharing that knowledge with others in order to give a service, what greater way is there to earn? After all, G-d tells us that He gives us freedom of choice, however, He offers us the good and the opposite, the path of life and the path to the opposite. It is up to us to decide which way to go. For those who are wise, taking the time to learn what the Torah teaches and to put it into practice will bring one to discover that this is the path that leads to blessing, whether in this world or in the world to come. 

For those who still wonder, why in Elul? In the Hallachot (Torah Law) related to the month of Elul (Kitzur Shulchan  128: 3) states that "men renowned for their good deeds / people who are serious / people of action customarily check their Tefillin and Mezuzot in this month. Similarly, with regard to other Mitzvot, any matter that requires attention should be taken care of." To explain this a little further, Eli Kahn offers an excellent comparison. It is usual to balance ones check book and check one's bank balance on a regular basis and to file taxes once a year. So too with Judaism, in the month of Elul we take the time to make sure our accounting is all in order. One of our spiritual documents is to be found in our Mezuzot and Tefillin.

If anyone would like to learn the laws relating to the month of Elul and preparing for both Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, you are welcome to sign up to learn with Rabbi Eliyahu Shear. He is an excellent, patient and dynamic teacher and teaches both individually and in small groups. Torah learning takes place in person or via Skype with webcam, making it accessible to everyone.

Shabbat Shalom from Yerushalayim

Shoshanah Shear

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Welcome to our Bridal Gown Gemach

Welcome to our Bridal Gown Gemach. It has taken quite some time since moving to clear things up enough to begin renting out the bridal gowns. We still have some work to do to get this section of our centre to the level that we want it to be. So please excuse the space being a little smaller than we wanted. We also hope in time to add items such as bridal veils.

While we work behind the scenes to continue to develop the wonderful centre that we are creating, we'd like to invite you to come and take a look. If you are getting married or know anyone who is, we would like to invite you to come and view the bridal gowns in our Bridal Gown Gemach. 

The images above show me with a few of the bridal gowns. This is to demonstrate that the gowns are really in the centre we are developing and it is not all talk.

This last image shows what I was looking at. The gowns are all lovely and quality. They are all modest in keeping with Torah standards as is fitting for a Torah centre.

So come along and take a look. If you rent your bridal gown from Chessed Ve'Emet, you can do a Mitzvah with your rental as a percentage of the proceeds goes to assist an orphan to rent her bridal gown too. 

We look forward to hearing from you

Shoshanah Shear


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