Monday, February 27, 2006

Olympic Measure

Recently a friend of mine posted the following Rebbe Nachman quote on her blog:

The whole battle is over a hairsbreadth. In other words, If someone wants to be victorious all in one go, it's impossible. But if all you have to do each time is move one hairsbreadth forward, you can! All you have to do is take a little step from bad to good.

As I was watching the Olympics this year this quote came back to my mind. Almost all of the games are measured down to the 1/100 of a second or 1/100 of a point. In the fastest game in the Olympics, the luge, it is measured down to 1/1000 of a second which on the ice comes down to a mere 1/4 of an inch. The games are so competitive that the difference between gold and bronze is often no more than the blink of an eye, literally, a split second.

These Olympians train for four years, morning, noon and night. They eat, sleep and breathe their sport in order to improve by just "a hairsbreadth".

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Understanding the Redemption

My whole life I lived in fear of the end of the world. I was raised in a fundamental Christian group who believed emphatically in the rapture or 'second coming'. As a little girl I constantly worried about being 'left behind', not being good enough, or making a fateful mistake right before this hoped for, yet dreaded, event and being deemed unworthy of redemption. This was especially scary, because we were taught that those who were 'left behind' had to suffer through a three and half year long bloody war and then they got to go to hell.

When I left Christianity, I no longer believed in the 'end of the world' or the rapture because I no longer believed in JC and since at that time I had no idea what to believe, I just chose not to think about it because the whole idea still freaked me out so much.

Therefore when I came to Judaism and started my conversion process, the absolutely hardest thing for me to accept was the concept of Messiah and the 'redemption', which for me sounded a whole lot like the 'end of the world'. Because I knew so little of the Jewish concept of the redemption, it really sent me into a panic. I didn't want to have to spend every moment of the rest of my life once again waiting for the world to be turned upside down. I talked to my Jewish friends about it and they explained that the Jewish concept of the 'end of the world' was not even comparable to the Christian view. First of all Messiah's not G-d and the world doesn't actually end. This was hard for me to grasp, but over time it began to sink in and little by little I became less afraid, but I still didn't quite understand.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of hearing a Katrina survivor tell her story. And her story has given me an entirely new perspective of the coming of the Messiah and the 'redemption'. She spoke of a concept I hadn't quite connected to the redemption. I know it has been mentioned and my whole life I've heard the scriptures of how the messianic age would usher in peace between everyone, 'the lion will lay down with the lamb', etc. But it just hadn't clicked yet exactly what that meant. But when I heard a real life story of a recent event that actually was for her a taste of the redemption, it finally became something that I can REALLY look forward to.

This lady had already lived thru the world being turned upside down. There was literally complete darkness, no electricity, no water, no food, no safety. Murders over gas shortages. Horrors beyond human belief. If that doesn't sound like the end of the world, I don't know what does. And it was the end of the world for those people. It was the end of their world as they knew it. They can rebuild, but it will never be the same. Many people will never return. Those who do return have to start all over. But at the same time, this lady (she is the Rebbetzin of a Chabad shul in New Orleans) said that although she never wanted to go thru something like that again, she would not trade this experience for anything in the world. I was amazed at this statement. It sounded like hell, how could she say this? Then she explained that in the experience she had seen a glimpse of the redemption. In the midst of all the chaos, people came together. They risked their lives to rescue others. A curtain was pulled back and life's true priorities were brought into clear focus in the light of seemingly meaningless disaster. Communities became valued over individual ideals and people were valued over possessions. Families were bound tightly together and strangers became family.

Her story brought tears to my eyes. Finally I understood what the Jewish people mean, when they beg for Messiah to come, for the redemption to come. Sure it will be ugly. It will probably even be dangerous and we may have to wait a little longer and pray a little longer and be patient a little longer, but in the end we will all know why we are really here on this planet and the peace won't come from a magical wand that gets waved over the 'ashes of the wicked'. We still have to work it out ourselves, with the help of G-d. And we will. One day we are going to 'get it'. We are going to come together just like we were always supposed to..... and that will truly be Redemption.

May it be today!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Weight Watchers & Keepin' Kosher

Recently I joined Weight Watchers (based on some good advice from a very dear friend). I didn't have alot to lose. I had just reached the magical age where my metabolism was no longer bailing me out of my bad eating habits...:) And so mostly I joined to retrain myself in all the things my mother had tried to teach me when I was 10. More broccoli, less chocolate. No it's not that bad... of all the programs out there, WW seems to be the most balanced and you don't have to give up anything, you just have to eat less of certain things and more of others. No miracles, just alot of previously-never-applied-because-I-didn't-have-to common sense.

What in the world does this have to do with keeping kosher? Well, up until this point I was still wondering how in the world I was ever going to live without being able to pop into Burger King and the local pizza shops whenever I wanted to. I wouldn't be able to order in. I'd have to *gasp*... cook it myself! And although I didn't really worry about it alot, I still wondered how hard it would be.

Then after almost 2 months on WW, it dawned on me that I had already given up all those things without kosher being the reason for any of it. They were simply too many points to be worth it!! LOL!!

So now, keeping kosher seems a little less daunting and my mom would be quite proud of all the vegetables I consume! LOL!! (I've learned that a little olive oil makes everything taste better and it's good for you too!)

It was a lesson I never expected to learn just by trying to lose a few pounds.

I just love when I realize that G-d has been showing me something all along and I didn't even know it!


Monday, February 06, 2006

The All Merciful One

Recently I was talking to a friend about being tested by G-d. She said she believes G-d tests us not so He can see what we are made of, but so that we ourselves can see what we are made of. It really made sense. G-d is all-knowing. He already knows how we are going to react or what we are going to do. He doesn't need to test us to find out. But when we weather a test or make it thru hard times or overcome temptation, our confidence is built and our emunah is strengthened. Little by little we are able to see that we are capable of serving Hashem with pure hearts and strength of purpose.

This is very encouraging to me. G-d tests me so I can see that I can serve and trust Him. I have also tested G-d by praying right out loud for things that I feel are beyond my control or for things for which I do not yet feel I have the strength to handle. I have been amazed every single day for He has not yet left a prayer unanswered and I have felt Him holding my hand to help me walk thru that, which at the time, look like a burning wall of fire or an impossibly high mountain.

I want Him to know that I am thankful beyond words and grateful beyond measure. I tell Him everyday and just wanted to share about His faithfulness and mercy which have been to me far beyond anything I could have ever imagined and so much more than anything I could ever hope to deserve.

Baruch Hashem