Friday, June 29, 2007

Sermon Excerpt: Miracles

Well, dear friends, I have yet to share any excerpts from my Shabbat sermons on my blog, so I thought maybe I would include some of the concluding thoughts from my D'var Torah on Parashat Balak (this week's Torah portion). Enjoy!

Are there miracles that you have noticed in your own day-to-day life?
Now, I recognize that some of you might have trouble believing in God, let alone in a personal God that interacts in your own life, and maybe you don’t have a one-on-one relationship with God.

I still believe that we can all be like Tevye, yelling up at God, arguing, and asking for help and blessings whenever we want. God is there, within us and outside of us, waiting for us to open our eyes, just like Balaam, and see the divinity that surrounds us. Open your eyes. See the miracles. Take a deep breath, and feel your holy soul within you.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, in a children’s book entitled, The Book of Miracles, writes:

"To be a Jew means to wake up and to keep your eyes open to the many beautiful, mysterious, and holy things that happen all around us every day. Many of them are like little miracles: when we wake up and see the morning light, when we taste food and we grow strong, when we learn from others and grow wise, when we hug the people we love and feel warm, when we help those around us and feel good. All these and more are there for us every day, but we must open our eyes to see them."

Kushner concludes this idea with the following question:
“Suppose, right now, your eyes are closed. How do you wake up?”

I ask you this same question.
How do we all open our eyes and wake up?
How do we see the angels right before us, standing in our path?
How do we learn to recognize our blessings, and see the small miracles, let alone the large miracles, all around us?

I leave that for you to ponder in the coming weeks. The great Shofar blast on Rosh HaShanah is meant to wake us up from our slumber, but I believe we can begin to wake up right now, and truly begin to open our eyes.

Ken Yhi Ratzon.
May this be God’s will.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Eau de New York Summer

Oh. my. goodness. In case you haven't heard, it is incredibly hot and humid in NYC right now. This is my seventh year living here, so, one would think that I would be used to the various "joys" that accompany this particular season in this particular city. Yet, yesterday, I was shocked to experience something entirely new...

I walked outside of the synagogue, on my way to run an errand, and I was struck by a wall of odor - the odor of (wait for it....): body odor.

Could it be that the entire city smelled like body odor?

I refused to believe it. I looked left, I looked right, and there was not a single hot dog vendor to be seen. Well, that couldn't be it. I looked to see if I happened to be standing near an odoriferous human being. But, no. That wasn't it either. And I had just switched to a super-duper deodorant, so it couldn't have been yours truly (though I had been ready to accept this sad and humbling conclusion). I had no choice but to conclude that the entire city smelled like this.

Even as I walked down the block, the smell remained. Here we are, in a city with some of the best educated, most affluent people in the whole country, yet could it be that no one knew how to use either anti-perspirant or deodorant? I am baffled.

Did anyone else experience this???

NYC never ceases to amaze me...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Friendship, Friendship, such a perfect blendship...

Shalom, all!

Just got back from a really yummy dinner with my friend, Sarene, and her fiance, Andy. It was my first chance to meet him (and I totally approve). I am glad that she found such a sweet guy who will definitely take good care of her (and she of him!). Coincidentally, I just took an online survey, and one of the questions was, "How many of your current friends have you known longer than ten years?"

What a question. Considering that parts of me still feel 12 years old, it is a profoundly paralyzing question to ponder (ah, an alliteration addiction attacks again). I can't believe that I have people (family members naturally excluded) in my life who have been precious to me for over a decade. Jessica is, of course, my longest friendship - we are probably over 20 years at this point. Lauren is also a long-term friendship, and, thanks to MySpace, Friendster, Facebook and the like, I am rekindling friendships from the whole spectrum of my life.

And, lest I be tempted to think of Sarene as one of my "newer" friends, I must remember that I met her in 1995 (we were both Angels in a Hillel production of Anything Goes). She has been a friend for - can it be true? - twelve years!!

Well, here's to long friendships, and many more to come.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

An Open Letter to the Man Who Rammed Into My Car 2 1/2 Years Ago

Dear Mr. D.,

I would ask how you are, but this would imply that I care. You see, you have absolutely no idea how I am, two and a half years after you carelessly slammed your car into mine. Did you notice how the trunk wound up in the back seat? Huh? Did you happen to see the way I was driven off in an ambulance?

But, as far as you are concerned, you have no idea how these past few years have been for me. All you know is that your insurance company is going to pay me a paltry sum of money, and my medical bills will barely be covered, all because you were horribly underinsured.

I still wonder why in the world you hit me. I remember (vividly) seeing your black car approaching in my rearview mirror. I remember thinking (since I was stopped), why isn't that car slowing down? Oh my gosh, it looks like it is going to hit me. Oh my god.

And, at that moment of realization, I still didn't really believe that it was about to happen. I still believed that, somehow, there was not going to be an impact.


And now, Mr. D., I am in such unbelievable pain, that I am pretty much going insane. My life and my work revolve around whether or not I can get out of bed each morning -will my back cooperate today, or will it need bedrest, pain killers, and ice packs?

Has your life been affected in such a way? I highly doubt it.

I wish I was at a point where I could forgive you. I am not yet there. In fact, it could be due to the fact that you have not asked for forgiveness. I wish I could be like those victims on the news who bravely say, "I forgive the (murderer... abuser... robber...)." I guess I am not that kindhearted at this point. Nope - still too angry.

And then there are my poor friends and family members who have to put up with my constant complaining, my aches and pains, my tears as I try to figure out a way to feel more comfortable. I am endlessly grateful to them for their patience and love. But I wouldn't have to rely on them so much if it wasn't for the careless way in which you drove into my car on that afternoon so long ago, Mr. D.

I guess I won't ever know why you hit me - I won't ever know if it was because you were on the cellphone, or changing channels on the radio, were drunk, or just stupid. In the end, I don't know that it matters, because the outcome is the same. I am forever changed, because of a split-second of absolute, irrevocable stupidity on your part.