Being whole.

We are reading such amazing Torah portions these weeks. The stories of our patriarchs are coming alive in front of us as we study and learn these familiar texts again as part of our yearly cycle.

I know we are well into a new week, but there is a thought from last week’s portion that is still going around in my mind. We were reading about Jacob returning to the Land of Israel after having been gone for such a long time. He had fled from his brother and the mess he had gotten himself into, he had married two wives (or kind of four, really…), and had eleven children. So much had happened in his life. And then it says in Genesis 33,18, – Jacob came to Schem WHOLE… (I never noticed it before!) He came back WHOLE. Meaning, there was more of a lack when he left. He had been on a long journey, he had gone through a process, he had become WHOLE.

Fall in Jerusalem

We are all on journeys through life. May our journeys be processes that make us more and more WHOLE! Sometimes we don’t understand why something was needed, or why it needs to take so long, – but maybe it is part of what it takes to make us WHOLE!

I don’t know if I even manage to explain this well enough. But to me, this struck a cord deep within me. This is what I want! I want this for me and my family, for my children. May we grow into becoming more and more WHOLE!

To me, being WHOLE, means being who God meant for you to be when He created you. Fitting more and more into the mold that is YOU!

Advertisements

The good and the bad

Has it really been over a month since I wrote anything here?! Time flies when you are having fun! Even if you are not having fun, time can pass really quickly. This is sort of what inspired me to write now. Not about time passing, but rather about having fun and not having fun.

Here in Israel we live with such parallel realities. Constantly. We have amazing highs of the Jewish holidays that we get to celebrate together in such a special way in the Land that God promised to our forefathers thousands of years ago. As a Jewish people in a Jewish Land. It is really special. The togetherness is tangible. The joy. The depth. The thankfulness.

Our table ready for Shavuot, just before we said the blessings and entered into the holiday.

Our table ready for Shavuot, just before we said the blessings and entered into the holiday.

Then, Jerusalem Day, – one of my very favorite days of the year. Celebrating the united Jerusalem. The undivided capital of Israel! What a celebration!! The songs! The flags! The masses of people! What a huge privilege to get to be a part of this.

I am so thankful to be alive, right now, right here, together with the people who happen to have been blessed with life right now also. May we together build something beautiful and meaningful on the basis of what the people who have gone before us have prepared, and that the next generations can keep building on,  – until our Messiah comes! May we do what we can to take our part, to live faithful lives, to make the most of this amazing opportunity that life really is!

The Flag Parade on our way to the Western Wall on Jerusalem Day.

The Flag Parade on our way to the Western Wall on Jerusalem Day.

So, yes, this is the one side of our realities. The positive, optimistic, hopeful and building side.

Then there is the other side. Which we are so reminded of right now when we can’t stop thinking of our three boys who are in the hands of terrorists. Even writing it is painful. The letters, the words, they cannot describe the depth of this catastrophe, this horrible tragedy, this black hole.

Imagine life for the families of these kids. Two of them are only sixteen years old. Sixteen! Think of a sixteen year old that you know, and imagine him in the hands of Hamas. The third is nineteen. Teenagers. Kids! Oh, God!!

(photo from Facebook)

(photo from Facebook)

We pray that God will give wisdom to our leaders, to our military, to each one who is working night and day to return those boys to their homes! Oh, God, hear our prayers!! Protect our boys, their minds, their hearts… May you fill them with your peace that is beyond understanding. Oh, Merciful One…!

The Torah Portion for last week included the story of the twelve representatives of the twelve tribes who were sent to tour the Land of Israel to see what it was like, when the people of Israel were still in the dessert. We all know how it goes. Only two had a positive report to bring. The overwhelming number of ten against two, had a negative report to bring. Actually, come to think of it, their reports were not all that different, it was their attitudes that were miles apart. What does it matter if giants are against us, if God is with us??! What do we have to fear when we have the Almighty on our side? He is faithful to His promises to us, and He will not leave us! He will keep us, lead us and stay with us, just like He has promised!

Western Wall on Jerusalem Day

Jerusalem Day celebrations at the Western Wall

May we take this to heart also in our days. We want to bring a positive report. And more than that, – we want to keep our faith! We want to see things for what they really are. Yes, there are massive enemies surrounding us. Yes, most of the world seems to side with our enemies, not interested neither in truth nor facts. But listen, – the Almighty God is with us! The Creator of heaven and earth, – He goes before us! He holds us in His hands! What do we have to fear?!

So yes, – in the midst of parallel realities, – laughter and tears, in the midst of the intenseness of it all, – let’s keep our perspective right where it should be! We are promised a future and a hope! And we can feel it already in our days! There is something here! We already have a taste of it! And it is here to stay and to grow. And we get to be a part of it! Halleluyah! I would not want to be anywhere else than right here, where God has placed me!

 

Shabbat in Jerusalem

Hanukkah is over, but we decided to leave the decorations up until after Shabbat. So we get to enjoy them a bit in the peace and quiet that came after the holiday excitement was over.

Hanukkiah

It has been a lovely shabbat in Jerusalem. Just walking the streets of Jerusalem is a spiritual experience on shabbat. Really. I thought of it today as we were out there walking on this beautiful cold and crisp but sunny and dry Jerusalem day. There were lots of other people out there also going to and from synagogue and home. People are wishing each other Shabbat Shalom. You bump into people you know and stop and talk with them for a while. It feels more like a village than the capital it really is.

A view of Jerusalem from one of my runs last week

A view of Jerusalem from one of my runs last week

Whenever we are not in Jerusalem on shabbat, I miss it. There is just nothing quite like it. You can basically feel it in the air you breathe, that it is shabbat. There is no way you for a moment would forget what day it is. There are no buses or public transport, people are off from work and shops are closed. It is a real shabbat. People have time for each other, for the things that really matters (*which as the saying goes, aren’t things…).

Another photo from my run last week

Another photo from my run last week

In the weekly portion that we read this Shabbat, we learn about Joseph revealing his identity to his brothers when they had come down to Egypt for their second time. The most amazing words in this portion, I think, are: “Ani Yosef.”“I am Joseph.” Just start to imagine what is going on in the heads of the brothers as they hear it!! In that very instant all their questions and mysteries get their answers! All of a sudden all the puzzle pieces fall into place!

And this is what it is going to be like when the Messiah comes and reveals His identity. When we will hear the words: “I am the Messiah”, our questions will get their answers, and all the pieces will fall into place. We may very well be surprised, but at the same time it will all make sense! What a day it will be!!

winter movie night

We enjoyed good reads, yummy treats and fun games at home on this shabbat afternoon. And as our family tradition is on winter motze shabbat (saturday nights), when shabbat goes out early, – we had a movie night.

Yup, it’s been a good day. Life is not all that bad after Hanukkah either!

Puzzle pieces falling into place.

This week’s Torah Portion, “VaYigash“, tells about Josef revealing his identity to his brothers. It has certainly been a lot of excitement leading up to this. A lot of mysteries for the brothers to wrap their minds around. So many questions. So few answers. So much difficulty. So much pain.

And then, at the climax of the story, Josef stands in front of them and says two words: “.אני יוסף” – “Ani Yosef.”  – I am Josef. And with these words, – all the questions are instantly answered! All the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. The mystery is solved. It’s like you can feel the relief of everyone involved!

At our weekly Torah Study this evening, we talked about how this picture of Josef, parallels the coming of the Mashiach. When He will say “Ani HaMashiach.” so many questions will be answered, so many puzzle-pieces will fall into place, and the picture will be as clear as it possibly can be. We will all see Him for who He really is!

English: Foggy sunrise in San Francisco and Bu...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a great, great moment that will be!!!

Wrapped Hanukkah Gifts.

Hanukkah pocket-wallhanging

It is the last day of school before Hanukkah vacation. And I am at home working on high gear, having fun getting everything ready. The wrapping of the Hanukkah Gifts for the kids is something I always greatly enjoy. We don’t get them big gifts, it is mostly craft things, like paints and beads and stuff like that. And just the fact that they are wrapped, makes the whole thing more exciting and like a present. And in the end we have something fun to do during their vacation from school!

A few years ago I made a convenient sort of wallhanging with pockets to hold the gifts for the eight nights of Hanukkah. The excitement is great every year when we bring it out for Hanukkah, and hang it on it’s place. I just love all these family traditions that repeat themselves, and make up a big part of what makes our home what it is.

Hanukkah gifts

Now, this may be surprising to some of you, but even though we live in Israel, the stores do not provide you with Hanukkah-themed wrapping paper when you purchase your gifts. So, what do you do, when those things actually matter a bit to you?! Several years ago we were given some nice Hanukkah wrapping paper from friends in the States, and that has been used and used again. I was still able to wrap a few of the gifts with that paper, but since we are talking eight nights of gifts here, it just wasn’t enough. So, – here is what I did; I just turned the wrapping paper from the store around to the other side, and decorated it to my liking! And it was fun too! (I plan on doing this again with the kids when they will wrap their gifts for the grandparents, for example.)Hanukkah wrapping paperAs we came home from school, it took them about half a second to notice that the gifts had been placed in their pockets, and let’s just say the Hanukkah-joy and excitement is definitely here!

Joy and excitementBy the way, I have been to the store and gotten even more chocolate, and this house is slowly turning into a chocolate factory majoring on chocolate spoons. Along with this I am mass producing Hanukkah Cards, and have had the joy to give out a few of these little sweet bags already.

photo-174Shabbat is coming, and I have challot and chicken soup going here along with the Hanukkah preparations. Good times! This week’s Torah Portion starts with telling us that Jacob settled in the Land, and reading that sentence, I again feel so joyful and extremely THANKFUL that we get to also LIVE here and SETTLE here in the Land of our inheritance! We are so privileged! I am looking forward to celebrating Hanukkah here in Israel were what we are celebrating really happened!

Favorites.

Shopping for Shabbat Flowers last week was the first time I came across Nuriot this season. (What is this flower called in English???) I happily picked out two bunches in different colors, and felt they spread a good mood just sitting there in a vase on our table.

“I was so happy to find Nuriot today! They are my favorite flowers!” I told my husband later in the day. “I think you have several favorite flowers…” was his reply. And you know what? He is right! Not only do I have several favorite flowers, – I have several favorite songs, times of the year, foods, candy – you name it! And I guess that is nice for me, don’t you think? I have so many reasons to rejoice…

These are my Shabbat flowers this week. Aren’t they beautiful? My favorite… 😉

Favorite flowers

I have truly enjoyed this Friday. (My favorite day of the week…) This has been a relatively busy week for me, with a lot of time out of the house, so today I enjoyed being at home, the smell of granola filling the house. One of my favorite smells. I guess that is the way I should put it. One of my many favorites. 

It is a beautiful day outside, and I have been out for a nice walk on the streets of Jerusalem. The children and I even had lunch outside in the garden. And afterwards I did a much needed hair cutting session for Junior out there. NOT my favorite activity, as he hates the itchy feeling of the hairs falling down his neck. But today we succeeded in limiting this by twirling toilet-paper around his neck a couple of times, so that made for a more pleasant experience for the both of us.

Now I just need to put some cookies in the oven, and then the children and I are going to make hanukkiot (Hanukkah-candlestick), something we love to do. (Another favorite??) When Hanukkah comes around, you will see, we have A LOT of hanukkiot, and this might be because we make new ones every year, but still hold on to the old ones…

This Shabbat we are reading about Jacob wrestling with the angel, so we have a few little angels on our Shabbat-table this week. You know, these little items really help bring the weekly torah portion up in our conversations during Shabbat dinner. (Definitely another favorite time of the week!) This angel though is really interesting. Who was he? Bad guy, good guy? Could he have been the Mashiach?? I am looking forward to our dinner conversation tonight!

Shabbat shalom, everyone!

He is HOME!

As I hear of the cease fire, I of course contact my soldier out there to see if this means he is coming home. And yes, they did start packing as the cease fire started. Which again amazes me. Israel is so full of integrity, -being true to who she is in spite of what the people on the other side are doing. So, we keep our side of the agreement, even if they don’t. But at the same time, we keep on protecting our civilians. So, as the soldiers are packing up, the children in the southern cities are still staying home from school. Get that! We are in a period of cease fire, so our soldiers get to go home, but our population has yet to return to normal life, because we don’t trust the other side to keep their side of the agreement.

The packing up and putting away all their gear would take a while, the soldiers were told, and I was told the earliest I could expect my soldier back would be in the beginning of next week. Late last night came an SMS that there was a chance he would come home already for Shabbat. And as the children and I sat around the breakfast table this morning, there was a knock on the door, – and there was ABBA! (I hadn’t even told them there was a chance he would come today, because I didn’t want them to be disappointed if it didn’t happen!)

So now he is resting upstairs, there is a storm outside, and I am in the kitchen cooking up the quickest thanksgiving dinner ever (my favorite laundry will have to wait till after shabbat). I was able to get a turkey at the supermarket after dropping off the kids at school, and we will have all our favorites to go with it. Ah, life seems so good all of a sudden!! I am not completely happy with the turn of events the last few days, but right now I am just going to enjoy my family and my home, and leave the rest in God’s Hands! (But I will leave a little light on in the bomb shelter over Shabbat, just in case…)

The challah-dough is rising, and today I am planning to make one of the challot in the shape of a ladder, to remind us of Jacob‘s dream that we are reading about in this week’s torah portion. It is really interesting to notice that the angels are going “up and down” on the ladder. They started from  here, meaning that their presence was already here on earth! Tradition says the place where Jacob was resting, might have been the place where the temple later stood, which I find very exciting. Either way, it is a wonderful thought that God’s angels are present with us here on earth wherever we might be!

With this I am wishing all of you out there a blessed Shabbat Shalom, and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to those who are celebrating that as well!