Posts

4/20/20- Monday- "Spreading Joy and Gladness"

We went to a wedding yesterday. Well, not exactly. We huddled around my wife's computer and attended a zoom wedding. With two phone cameras on tripods one under the chuppah and one six feet away, we watched on split-screen while a friend officiated the weddings and the young couple performed the rituals beneath the chuppah. One set of parents stood on a neighbor's lawn and the other set of parents stood on the other neighbor's lawn. The couple was beaming. She circled him, they drank from two cups of wine, he placed the ring on her finger, he broke the glass and everyone watching screamed mazal tov. I know.  some are wondering how a wedding took place during the Sefirat Ha'Omer, during the counting of the Omer (The Counting of The Omer) when customarily this sad period of time is marked by NOT conducting weddings. Because Pesach just concluded last Thursday night and we are still in the Hebrew month of Nisan (until this Friday and this Shabbat); we are still …

4/17/20 - Friday- Erev Shabbos- "Songs in the Key of LIfe"

It never seems to fail. I greet each holiday, each Chag with anticipation. Well, maybe I don't enjoy all the preparation and all the work and all the chaos in my home, However when my wife and daughters light the candles that correspond to the commencement of one of the Shalosh Regalim (Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot), my son and I finish praying Maariv, the evening service, and we finally sit down to the first of what will be numerous festival meals; I am full of happiness and excitement.  By the end of the Chag? OY! I can't wait to return to my ordinary routine. Needless to say, I was counting down the minutes when my wife, kids and I could begin returning our kitchen back to Chametz. when Pesach was put away, and we were back to Chol, just an ordinary weekday moment. Yet when I woke up this morning, there it was Erev Shabbos. Our kids used to sing a song they learned in school, "Shabbos is coming, we're so happy...." Well, it feels more like "Shabbos i…

4/14/20 Tuesday: Eat Sleep Pray ; Hope Memory Freedom

We are up early this morning helping to prepare for the last days of Pesach. No there is no seder, no Hagadah. No special foods. Yet the two mantras that constitute the observance of a Jewish holiday remain poignant: 1) Eat, Sleep, Pray, Eat, Sleep, Pray. and 2) They tried to kill us, We won. Let's Eat.  However, there is always another aspect to the final days of any Chag including Pesach: Remember -Zachor. The idea of Zachor has been something we have been invoking as we have said Yaaleh V'Yavoh every morning in in the Shacharit Mincha, Maariv Amidah as well as in the Birkat Hamazon. We have been asking God to remember us. as a people and a nation.  We have been asking God to remember his covenant with us.

          My wife showed me something on youtube called "Saturday Night Seder". It is a fundraiser for the CDC- The Center for Disease Control. Certainly, there were parts I did not particularly find tasteful, but overall I thought the message was incre…

4/13/20 Monday - Thank God For The Little Things

Normally, I don't enjoy the Chol HaMoed, the intermediate days of a holiday, Pesach and Sukkot.  Usually, my wife will usually want us to go out on a family outing, to participate in a "family activity", to "explore" another neighborhood in Toronto. I usually want to do nothing, take care of whatever food shopping that we need to do as we head in towards the final days of the Chag. When our children were younger,  I had few allies since they welcomed my wife's idea and request with great enthusiasm. As our children grew older, I had more allies in my desire to do nothing. Our kids greeted their mother's request with an eye roll and a desire to hang out with friends. Well, this year is different.  Our family activity was to watch a movie. The other family activity was encouraging our teenagers to get some fresh air.  The other family activity has been to watch our children stand 6 feet apart on our driveway and sidewalk with their friends.  Thi…

4/12/20 Sunday: Trying to Remember Afraid To Forget

I am always amazed at how three days can be so exhausting: the first two days of Pesach and then Shabbat, three days of praying, eating and taking walks.  Now we have a couple of days until the last days of the Pesach which are also a Yom Tov. No, there are no more seders to prepare for, rather just Pesach food. One of the additions we make to the liturgy is the same addition we make when it is Rosh Chodesh and when we say Birkat HaMazon. We add the prayer Ya'Aleh v' Yavo. Throughout the prayer, the word V'Zichron appears throughout. Other forms of ZaChaR also appear including Zichroneinu and Zacharnu. Throughout the prayer, ask God to remember us. A few nights ago, when we sat at the Seder table, the Hagaddah reminded us to see ourselves as if we were slaves and we were the ones leaving Egypt. Well, in the narrative of Yetziat Mitzrayim,  we are told that God heard the cries of Bnei Yisroel and remembered his covenant with the patriarchs. In a sense, the process…

4/8/20 Erev Pesach: Why is this Night of Passover different from all other night so Passover, at least since 1918.

As Pesach preparations wind down, I am reminded just how different this night is from all other first night of Pesach. On all other Sedarim, children, grandchildren parents and friends sit together and ask questions, tell the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim, sing and eat too much. This year borders are closed, families who are concerned for the welfare of those at risk remain physically apart. This year, when we say the Eser Makot - the 10 plagues, we now can empathize with what a plague means. This year, we can understand the commandments relating to the last plague. They were told to mark their doorposts and remain inside their homes until the plague passed over. So we will remain sheltered in place, and hopefully, remain safe.  This year when we say: "Next Year in Jerusalem", we can now appreciate the sense of looking forward to a future Pesach that is more complete and I suppose, just "more".

So my Bracha for all who are celebrating Pesach and participating in a Sed…

4/7/20 Tuesday: "The Hunters" , Bentsching Gomeil , and Offering Thanksgiving

I attended a wedding yesterday. Actually, I watched a wedding.  I have been watching Amazon's The Hunters. It is a 10 episode story about a group of Holocaust survivors living in 1977 New York teamed up with several other younger  Americans with certain special skills. They hunt Nazis that were brought to the U.S. during Operation Paperclip. Operation Paper Clip occurred after WWII when the U.S. secretly brought Nazi Scientists to the U.S. to help in its cold war and arms race with the Soviet Union. The Hunters are after those Nazis who are secretly trying to create a 4th Reich in the U.S. During one episode, two of the hunters are a couple who lost a son in the Shoah, who were later blessed with a daughter born in the U.S. In this particular episode, with concern that this might not be the best time for the wedding, the leader of the Hunters, also a survivor, explains to the youngest member of the team ( a 17-year-old Jewish kid from Brooklyn) that "we need to cel…