Tuesday, January 1, 2013

When did you last listen to ...

A New Year's thought, posted Jan. 1, 2013.  This is quoted from Leo Buscaglia's "Living, Loving, & Learning", pp. 52-3, from an essay entitled:  On  Becoming You--

...Every day is new.  Every flower is new.  Every face is new.  Everything in the world is new, every morning of your life.  Stop seeing it as a drag!  In Japan, the running of water is a ceremony.  We used to sit in a little hut when the tea ceremony took place, and our host would pick up a scoop of water and pour it into the teapot, and everybody would listen.  The sound of the falling water would be almost overpoweringly exciting.  I think of how many people run showers and water in the sinks every single day and never hear it.  When was the last time you listened to water?  It's beautiful!  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

This post is part of a continuing series on Spirituality-- by the numbers, One Day At A Time (ODAAT), Boruch Hashem Yom Yom.

Day 113
                113 is the letters “yud” “nun” “gimel” “nun”, spelling the word y’nagen, which translates to “he will sing”, or a command—“Sing”!.
                As I move along in recovery, I find I forget the joy of daily life.  I’m so focused on checking off the items in my daily to-do list, and yes, in my recovery tools list, that Life almost floats by without my noticing.  That is where, for me, making music—singing-- comes in.  When I sing, I connect with the moment.  I cannot be thinking of yesterday’s mistake or worry about tomrrow’s challenge when I’m singing.  In song, I’m in the now, connected with the deepest parts of me.  That’s why I love the experience of making music.
                Today, day 113, my recovery says, “Sing!”  Don’t worry about tomorrow and fret about yesterday—enjoy the moment of today!  I’m here, I’ve made it to this moment, I can be thankful  to my G-d for that, and I can enjoy what is going on around me in this life at this moment!
                But “niggun” is not just any song, it’s a song of melody.  Today, my recovery urges me to hear the sound of the song in nature.  I become the harp on which this melody is played.  Part of my recovery is attuning my heart-strings to the melody of His universe.  As Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, zt”l wrote:  l’chol shirayich ani kinor  (“To all of your songs, O Jerusalem, I am a harp.”). 
                Centered, and attuned, for today.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A broken arm, not a broken spirit-- back blogging

I read today how a blog is not about "making money" but about fostering and developing relationships. So-- I'm shamed, and hopefully, at least weekly, I'm back--

I heard it mentioned that in the educational reform movement that was playground building, at the turn of the past century in 1905, the motto was:  “Better a broken arm than a broken spirit.”  I fear in our nanny-state of 2011, we’ve sided with the broken spirit.
The NYT opined last week on the growing trend towards PC even in our children’s fun.  Playgrounds have been denuded of their see-saws and fire-poles; too-high slides are a thing of the past and even swings are on their way out.  Why?   Kid’s safety, of course.  We wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt!
But what about the injury to a kid’s spirit?
I can still remember the view from the top of the enclosure surrounding the fire-pole,  in the playground at my elementary school, Avoca, in Glenview, IL.  Off in a corner of the wonderfully-wood scented bark-chip covered ground of the yard was a four-laddered “building” which allowed enterprising kindergarteners to climb the enormous (at least it seemed to me then, at age 5) 10 feet to the metal-floored chamber with the hole in the middle, and the pole the only way out.  (Of course, you could back down the ladders—but who would do that?  Me, once, as a 5 year-old kindergartener, and the shame still remains.) 
At 6 years-old, though, finally a grown-up first-grader, I took the fall chill of the new school year to be my homing signal.  At the first (alright, maybe it was day 8) day of school, first recess, I was up one of those impossibly-tall ladders, looking ever to the azure, Indian-summer Chicago sky, that metal-floored chamber (of course, the metal had bumpy ridges to keep occupants fromt sliding out the sides) to the pole. 
I got there, quicker than I remembered from my kindergarten year.  The view was incredible—I could see everyone:  my teacher, my classmates, and even my little red-headed girl  (yes, I had one of those, too, in first-grade).  Would they see me streaking down the slick fire-pole?  Probably not.  Would I go anyway?
I would!  I did!
The distance from the end of the hole in the middle of the chamber to the pole was very scary, that first time.  I held my breath, and  . . .  jumped, and held on to the pole for dear life.  Once there, I realized I couldn’t keep on holding on—the trick was to slide down, to let go!!!!! a bit at a time, allowing my weight to pull me down in a controlled fall with the pole doing the controlling.
No broken bones.
A definitely-enhanced spirit, still remembered on today, my 53rd birthday.
But now, I’m afraid, the fire-pole is gone from Avoca’s playground.
I live in Venice, CA, so it’s hard to check it out—I’ll have to report back when I go visit for my High School class’ 35th Reunion in November.   I hope it’s not gone.  But I worry that it is.
How will this new generation’s 6 year-old’s spirits grow?  Not by virtually sliding down a virtual pole in a virtual reality video game, that’s for sure.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Guest repost-- From Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, a must read

Banning Mila and the Ascendance of China

Frum Jews seem to be aware of the proposed bans of bris mila on minor children in San Francisco and Santa Monica, but not terribly alarmed by them. (This is in contradistinction to proposed anti-shechita legislation in Holland and the EU, about which they should be very alarmed.) The arguments against the ban emerged quickly, and are percolating through the community, as people read the first op-eds that have reached the general media. Opponents of the bans have to make secular, not religious, appeals to the general public. They point to the medical benefits of circumcision that far outweigh any perceived problems. They observe that the measures may be unconstitutional, although this is not at all certain. They argue that society gives parents the right to make all sorts of health-related decisions on behalf of their children, and infringing on that right smacks of totalitarianism.
Here is an argument that has not been given as much attention. The measures do not target Jews or Judaism, but religious faith itself. All of it. Religious non-Jews should be as irked about the bans as Jews are.
For over two hundred years of American history, bris mila went unchallenged, even in times when anti-Semitism was rampant. The current opposition comes from an increasingly strident lobby of people – including Jews – who are dismissive and contemptuous of genuine religious faith. These people see the Bible as nothing more than myth. Following the Golden Rule is innocuous, but taking any other part of the Bible seriously is bad. Acting on any part of it is worse. People who listen to the Bible about circumcision could very well be opposed to gay marriage, and such opposition is a cardinal sin against the non-deity.
What galls them is that anyone could take a knife against the flesh of an infant because they are so unenlightened as to live their lives by fairy tales. The hatred of mila stems from a smug confidence in their independence from archaic notions of a Creator. Religion is for the uninformed, the unvarnished masses living in the darkness of their incomprehension. Those who comprehend have no need for religion, and no room for religiously-based (or sourced) child surgeries. The arguments are not new; the ferocity in the public domain is. It is only one part of what will be an increasing mockery of, and assault on, all forms of religious belief.
This is a pity, and possibly much worse. A decline in religious belief – at least in what we call the Judeo-Christian system of belief – may mean the loss of a leadership position in the community of nations. Lord Rabbi Sacks is his usual eloquent self in the Times of London: Towards the end of his recent book, Civilization, the historian Niall Ferguson drops into his analysis an explosive depth-charge. He quotes a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, part of a team tasked with the challenge of discovering why it was that Europe, having lagged behind China until the 17th century, overtook it, rising to prominence and dominance.
At first, he said, we thought it was your guns. You had better weapons than we did. Then we delved deeper and thought it was your political system. Then we searched deeper still, and concluded that it was your economic system. But for the past 20 years we have realised that it was in fact your religion… that made possible the emergence first of capitalism, then of democratic politics.
Has the West abandoned the very system that made it great, only to have the Chinese claim it as its own?
What has China realised that the West is rapidly forgetting? That a civilisation is as strong as its faith. As a culture grows old and tired, as people borrow more and save less, as they value present pleasures over future growth, so they begin to lose the beliefs and practices that made their society successful in the first place. …It begins to resemble the Roman Empire at the start of its decline. The Roman historian Livy wrote, with great poignancy, about how “with the gradual relaxation of discipline, morals first subsided, as it were, then sank lower and lower, and finally began the downward plunge
The observation is not terribly new
The decline and fall of civilisations has been charted by the wise for many centuries. ..Civilizations begin by valuing austerity, courage and self-sacrifice. This sets them on a path to growth. As they become successful, they grow more self indulgent and self centred. People are no longer willing to make sacrifices for the group. Trust declines. Social capital wanes. There are no heroes any more. Renown gives way to fame and then to mere celebrity. …Societies start growing old when they lose faith in the transcendent. They then lose faith in an objective moral order and end by losing faith in themselves…We are as strong as our faith. That truth, once the West’s unique selling proposition, now comes with a label saying, “Made in China.” But it’s still worth buying.
The growth that Rabbi Sacks speaks of is more akin to what is described in Startup Nation than in Pirkei Avos. The lessons of bris milah begin where those of material development end off. They include notions like the necessary curtailment of Man’s energies, and the mandate to make the world a better place in the course of one’s lifetime. They imply entering into a covenant not only with G-d, but with a people prepared to do His bidding.
These lessons as well will survive long after a few crazies in San Francisco learn that, like the generation of the Tower of Bavel, they cannot really ascend to the Heavens and attack their Resident with their cudgels.

Read more: http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2011/06/01/banning-mila-and-the-ascendance-of-china/#ixzz1O6KTHjJ7
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Scary Stuff

Saw Glen Beck today-- scary stuff about Israel being the keystone of the West.

What does Hashem want us to do? 

Learn Torah, do mitzvos.

Love kindness, and walk humbly with Him.

Lev melachim b'yad Hashem-- the heart of kings is in the hand of G-d.

How can I do His will?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

what do you do?

What do you do when someone you know, respect even, posts something which is innane, or prohibited by Jewish law, or even just by the laws of human decency?

It's probably no good to ream them out on FB, no?

Perhaps this whole SM business is to teach us the character trait of patience, and humility-- to hold our tongues, not to post?

What do you think?

Monday, May 23, 2011

FB posting is Fun!

It is, really, and it's much shorter than blogging. 

Find an interesting link, and share.  See if anyone likes.
Respond.  Maybe.

I'm still sorting out all of this.

How can I have my SM and my privacy, too?