Archive for October, 2009

The Jewish Stairway to Heaven

St Pancras International Station Begins Its Eurostar Service

On Sunday, we enter the Jewish month of Cheshvan. Our Sages however, refer to this month using the name: Mar Cheshvan. If you are thinking that the word Mar sounds a bit familiar, you are right! You probably recognize that it is ever so similar to the word Marror, the Bitter Herbs that we eat at the Pesach Seder.

Truth be told, our Sages relate that this month, is Mar, it’s bitter, because there are no holidays in this month. Indeed, there is not even a formal fast day! At a spiritual level it’s a bitter experience. We just went from such a high and elevated state. We  lived in a Sukkah and experienced joyous dancing at Simchat Torah.

And yet, the reality is that somewhere between the start of the High Holidays and Simchat Torah, one may have turned on “cruise control” or “auto-pilot” and by extension, such an individual may not have gained as much as they could have from the holidays found in the months of Elul and Tishrei.

And then…reality sets in.

The fun is over.

The weather begins to change, and we find ourselves in a month called  Cheshvan, that does not offer any easy holidays from which one could use as a launching pad to elevate them to a higher and lofty spiritual state. If we want to continue to climb or fulfill our New Year’s Resolution(s) the work begins not through any short cuts. Life is not one big holiday. There are no elevators or escalators to achieving growth/our goals. We have to take one step at a time—and doing so can sometimes be an arduous task!

Let’s face it.

It’s harder to keep kosher than to not keep kosher.

It’s harder to prepare a Shabbat meal than to veg out in front of the TV watching Reality Television all day long (do you know that they even have a channel dedicated to watching such shows 24/7!).

It’s harder to read the Torah portion than to read Harry Potter.

So why do we do it? Why do we lead a Jewish life? Why do we insist on running up the stairs when the vast majority of the human race is taking the easy way out on the escalator?

Because this is the life that G-d wants us to be living. We need to remember that even if there is no party, no celebration, no Jewish Holiday or Sukkah party to attend, as Jews, we are forever blessed with the ability to hear the music playing underneath our feet as we climb up this ancient and holy staircase.

And this is our mission as Jews: to raise our children so that they we will also hear the subtle yet incomparable melody that emanates from shoe-level as we climb this Jewish Stairway to Heaven.

As such, even in the month of Cheshvan we can change the tune from a bitter one to an uplifting one, by simply asking: what are you going to do today to make being Jewish a little more fun, a little more melodious, for you and your child?

Join the 3 million people who have already watched this incredible 90 second video and be sure to share this post with them. Have a meaningful month of Cheshvan:

This blog post is based upon a post authored by Rebbetzin Chana (Jenny) Weisberg here. While I drive at a different message, I have used some of her thoughts in the above piece. I thank the Rebbetzin for sharing this video with me.

The Windmill Sukkah

As illustrated in my Twitter Update here, I love Sukkos! Truth be told, the best place to celebrate this holiday is in the holy city of Yerushalayim. The weather is great this time of year, a spirit of excitment and Kedusha permeates the air, kids are off school, people are visiting from countries ranging from America to Argentina, the concerts are eclectic as well as legendary, and I could just go on and on…if you’ve never been here before for Sukkos, you’ve gotta come and book your ticket for next Sukkos!

Thankfully, we have been doing a lot of walking around the city over the past couple of days. Indeed, we’ve walked from Ramat Eshkol to Shaarie Chessed on more than one occasion. Here is a map of the route that we took:
View Larger Map

Walking has enabled us to not only exercise (Sukkos, like many Jewish holidays, requires one to eat many festive meals, and if you don’t exercise a bit, you may find yourself putting on a couple of unwanted pounds :-) ) but it has also allowed us to enjoy the many beautiful and diverse neighborhoods of Jerusalem. As such, we have been privileged to see many festively decorated Sukkah’s. Accordingly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share with you the coolest/most original looking Sukkah that we came across. We found it in the Nachlaot area of Yerushalayim. My kids (you can hear my son Eliezer in the background of the video below) have aptly called this Sukkah, “The Windmill Sukkah.” Enjoy the short video below…and Chag Sameach!

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