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Pesach Season Prayer For Dew
Reflections on Passover Morning 2017
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Shabbos Chic Blog

Passover, Pesach

Pesach Season Prayer For Dew

Give us dew to favor Your earth; sweeten the land in which we live with dew.
Strengthen us with plenty, with grain and wine: sheaves and vines sustained by dew.
Bring wholeness to the Holy City and to all who love her as flowers are renewed by dew.
You have said “I will be like dew to Israel;" may Your mercy well up in us like the dew.
Let the proud and beautiful fruits of our harvest be sustained and graced with dew.
Open our hearts; make us into open vessels to receive the spiritual gifts of dew.
May a light shine forth from darkness to draw us to You, as a root finds water from dew.
We are the people who followed You through the desert as sheep follow a trusted shepherd; favor us with dew.
You are our God, Who causes the wind to blow and the dew to fall.
For blessing and not for curse. Amen. For life and not for death. Amen. For plenty and not for lack. Amen.

Thanks to Rachel Barenblat for this translation and the following: "The Prayer for Dew is a special poem recited once a year during the afternoon service on the first day of Pesaḥ. Rabbi Rachel Barenblat first presented her d’var tefillah on Passover in 2009 and shared her prayer for dew in 2015 (cross-posted at her website here). In the Amidah, many Jewish liturgies replace the request for rain (recited during the traditional rainy season in the land of Israel) with a prayer for dew, beginning on this day. — Aharon Varady"

Reflections on Passover Morning 2017

This year there was much study and prayer in preparation for our little Seder at home. The preparation really made a difference in me, and that made a difference in the Seder when I conducted it. 

Congregational events are wonderful of course, but the intimacy of a small, family Seder with deep, prayerful preparation gives me (and you?) more opportunity to reflect and to receive.  The night of Passover is not just about the food and the memories of being set free from Egypt centuries ago. It is a distinctive, meaningful, precious time for us to receive freedom in our own lives right now.

We wouldn't think of sliding into a booth at a restaurant and telling the server, "I'll have a big helping of Freedom today, please." No restaurant sells it, for one thing... But that's exactly what we do when we sit at the Seder table and move through the 15 steps of the Seder. We are asking for a nice, big helping of Freedom from all our limitations. 

What a privilege to have access to world-class teachers this year, and also to have the time to study. I want to thank Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, of blessed memory, and Rabbi Akiva Tatz, Rabbi Yitzchak Swartz, Yedidah Cohen, and Rabbi Alon Anava in particular. You have all blessed me and brought Shalom Bayit to our Seder table this year. Thank you all!

Pre-Pesach Energy 5776

Rabbi Aryeh Nivin gave his annual Pesach Drasha for women this week, and it lit me up like a firecracker. He suggested we select just one, tiny change (not a big, huge one) and implement it every single day, from now through Shavuos.

Well, I'm doing it. I chose to make a slight but distinct attitude adjustment. It involves seeing myself from a different perspective, one that another person might immediately have, but I habitually NEVER have about myself.

Until now!  And I'm really doing it, because I made it fun.  I built a little blog for myself, and posted over a hundred photos to remind me of my new mindset. It's working!  I leave the blog tab open on my laptop as I'm working, and click on it whenever I need a boost back up and into my new mindset. 

Funny thing... I'm really good at boosting my clients' mindset, but haven't applied my coaching skills to myself. DUH! 

Thanks so much, Rabbi Nivin, for giving us such a simple, little Pesach blessing, for ourselves personally, and for women of Klal Israel! Here's a list that's true, in my experience, but I'd add one more word -  JOY!!!






Counting the Omer 5775

"An act of faith is the test of trust."  Rabbi Akiva Tatz

This statement comes back into clear focus each year during Pesach, but we have a responsibility to recall it in our own lives all year.


This Shabbos Eve is the 14th day of counting the Omer 5775.  And so this is a good time to consider the words in a Breslov.org email received today, "Pesach taught us that sometimes we need to just 'skip' or pass over the questions that would otherwise paralyze us and instead do our utmost to connect to G-d any way we can..."

And it continues, "Rebbe Nachman offers practical advice, as always: 'When one has doubts about emunah [faith], say out loud, ‘I believe with complete faith that He is One, First and Last.’ As the verse states, “I believed because I spoke.” The affirmation of emunah can help us even when our faith feels like it’s wavering."

Rabbi Josh Weinberg posted on RJ.org, "During this week of Chesed let us not only count the days, but make our days count."

Shevii Shel Pesach 5775


Pesach thoughts this year 5775

As the sun sets tomorrow night we'll be starting Shabbos and Pesach at the same time. 

And Moshe said to the people, “Remember this day that you left Egypt from the House of Bondage, for G-D took you out from it with a Mighty Hand.” (Exodus 13:3)

My personal Pesach theme this year has to do with understanding Freedom and Exile in my own life. I want to go forward into Freedom, and I can only do that when I truly understand there are things enslaving me.

Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz of ParadisePrinciple.com said, "We have to be open to being redeemed, personally and globally. And we have to be open to it, and understand what it really means to be redeemed."

That's what set me on a course of thinking about Freedom in a new way this year, and asking myself if I'm really open to Freedom in parts of my life.

I also heard a quote on a podcast this week, "If you don't emotionally feel like you can do something different, then you don't really have a choice." Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Shimona Tzukernik asked us a good question in her Rosh Chodesh workshop this week, and I'm still pondering it. She simply asked, "Are you teachable?"

FridayLight.org included a wonderful reminder in my weekly Shabbos reminder email, "...let us embrace the power of the Jewish woman. The Talmud says that it was 'in the merit of righteous women that the Jews were redeemed from Egypt.'

With our special light, we have the power to usher in the redemption from our modern-day exile and spiritual slavery..."

And finally, I saw this wisdom in a Facebook thread, "If you don’t think something is new when you hear it, if you're always thinking 'I get it' when you hear or read something or listening to a coach... you're not always open to other ways to do something." Shawn LeBrun

May we all be open to Freedom tomorrow night, that's "different from all other nights"
Chag Pesach Sameach!

People Of The Desert

"It is written in the memories of the ancient peoples that one who chooses the desert for his enemy has chosen a bitter foe, but he who accepts it as a friend, who will seek to understand its moods and whims, shall feel also its mercy, shall drink deep of its hidden waters, and the treasures of its rocks shall be opened before him. Where one may walk in freedom and find water in the arid places, another may gasp out his last breath under the desert sun and mark the sands with the bones of his ending." From The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour, Volume I

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So, I'm packing for my continuing trip to the Promised Land. I'm grateful to be set free from captivity each year at Passover, and fully equipped during the important time leading up to and after Shavuot.

My symbolic trip through the desert has been VERY valuable to my spirit this year.

Before we enter the month of Av this year I want to make sure all the gleanings from the month of Sivan and Tammuz are coming along with me then. May we all be blessed and equipped in Spirit, this month and always.

Rabbi Aryeh Nivin said it so beautifully in his email newsletter today, so here are his words for you to enjoy, too:

"...look at what you’ve accomplished all year long, and see which of your goals still need to be achieved. You still have all of Tammuz and Av to realize them. Ask yourself in a practical, measurable way, 'What do I want to achieve before the end of the year?' Stay focused so you don’t get distracted by the myriad temptations at this time of year, so you can complete these goals.At this time of year we have the greatest power to achieve...

As long as we keep the ta’ava and ga’ava in check, this is the time to make things happen."

Shabbat Clusters on Shabbos Pesach 2013

I love the idea of Shabbat Clusters promoted by Entry Point DC, set up for young Jews in the DC area. "Shabbat Clusters are small groups, usually about 10-12 people, organized by EPDC.  They’re peer-led and meet once a month for a pot-luck Shabbat dinner. "

Organizing pot-lucks and sharing with each other is such a great Shabbos-sharing idea. Young singles are not the only ones who can benefit, of course. LOTS of people of all ages are single, facing the weekly Shabbat alone at home or on the road. 

Could you organize a Shabbat Cluster to share Shabbos where you live?

My readers are my Shabbat Cluster here on The Shabbos Chic Blog! But reading a blog cannot compare to sitting and sharing the candlelight and the blessings and the meal and the conversation with other people, does it?

*******************

Rabbi Richard N. Levy posted a great article on ReformJudaism.org this week that brings light on Pesach and the counting of the Omer from the wisdom of the Kabbalists. He takes us straight into our own deep appreciation of this time of year when he says,

"The process is called S'firat HaOmer, the Counting of the Omer. S'firah is the Hebrew word for counting, which the mystics of the Kabbalah identified with the name for each of the manifestations of God in the world...

The s'firah period is thus a period of tikkun, "correction," of the raw selves that were exploded out of Egypt into the pure n'shamot, "souls" who deserved to be given the mitzvot of the Torah."

Thinking of myself as a "raw self" in the process of correction is a good image for me. Knowing that I have an opportunity to accept and embrace my pure soul this time of year is at once a privilege and a responsibility.  It connects me to the souls of my ancestors and to the future of the world as well.

Women Lead In Our History And On Shabbat

Women defied Pharoh's decree of death, resulting in Moses' opportunity to live and serve as leader of the Hebrew people. Women also led the joyous celebration after the miracle of crossing the Red Sea.  Many times women are called and naturally step up with courage to change the course of human history.

But this is not only an historical reality.  It happens every week in each home where a woman (or a man if a woman is not present) chooses Sabbath candle lighting as a conscious act honoring life, creation, peace and rest.

Dr Jacob Wright and Dr Tamara Cohn posted an article on Fox News this week called, The Passover Story Begins With Women. They write, "Miriam’s world is one in which social, political, and economic structures are all designed to oppress the body and crush the spirit. It is a dehumanizing world. But the abuse fails to vanquish her faith in humanity." 
The authors are writing about Miriam, the sister of Moses, who accompanied the little basket carrying himalong the river when she was young. She stayed with her brother until he was found by the daughter of Pharoh, and lifted out of the water to begin his new life in Pharoh's palace.  Miriam's courage contributed greatly to the history of the Hebrew people when she was just a child.

But the quote also applies to Miriam as an adult, at the time she led the women in joyous celebration and song after the sea parted, allowing the Hebrew people safe passage into their new life of freedom. She raised her timbrel, a tambourine with bells on it, and led the women in song and dance. Once again, Miriam set an example for us all to follow.

I say that every one of us who lights Shabbos candles to welcome the Sabbath on Friday night is also showing great faith in humanity, and in our Almighty God who made us.

What Passover Can Mean For Us Today

"What was demanded of the children of Israel in the face of impossible odds, was a response of supernatural proportions. As we've discussed a few times, Divine Providence reflects our behavior.

Here the impossible challenge demanded of us to react with an impossible response and thereby draw down in turn a miraculous Divine display, the likes of which have yet to be experienced by mankind.

In human terms, this would be expressed as unleashing from deep within yourself a power only displayed by the rarest of people in the rarest of situations."

I received these words in an email from Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz of ParadisePrinciple.com who gave me permission to share them freely.

Since our annual Pesach Seders take place on Monday, March 25th this year, I offer his perspective to open our minds and hearts to more freedom from oppression now.

It is our privilege and our challenge, as individuals and as a People to dig deep inside ourselves and draw upon our personal relationships with The Almighty, wherever we may be, and whatever we may do. Especially at Passover this year when the world needs a greater focus on freedom.

Pesach Poetry By Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz

My People are like the stars and  the dust

When we ascend, we ascend to the highest heights

When we descend, we descend to the lowest depths

My People are like the Thorn bush on Mt. Sinai

We may sometimes be burned, but we are never consumed


Visit JewishMag.com to see this recipe for a
Simple Seder and over 15 years of
stories and ideas for Passover.

Fair Trade Chocolate For Your Passover Seder

Slave labor, primarily children who lose their childhood, their education and their health are working in the cocoa fields of West Africa right now. The commercial chocolate we eat at Passover and all year long is the product of helpless children used as slave labor.

Please, please take a moment to connect with Fair Trade Judaica to see the truth and to bring it to the attention of guests at your seder table.  And please serve them kosher Equal Exchange pareve chocolates (from Whole Foods and other natural food stores) to help bring an end to child slavery in the cocoa fields, the dark side of dark chocolate.

Making Matzah for Pesach - Inner Meaning

ShabbosChicMatzah1
Handmade matzah is not just the traditional loaf of unleavened bread. It is also symbolic of our opportunity to choose to be simple and serviceable in our lives, not puffed-up with self-importance and
false pride.


ShabbosChicMatzah2
Baking the matzah is a perfect picture of a trial by fire, our experience of learning to relinquish the old beliefs and behaviors that do not add to our life, our growth and our contributions to the world.

ShabbosChicMatzah3

Handmade matzah portrays our annual opportunity to remember, especially on  Seder night, that we are being set free from bondage, in our real lives, right now. Matzah portrays Freedom!

Shabbos Va'yakhel Pekudei & Pesach Prep

ShabbosChicoldcandleholder

Shabbat empowers us to stop, chill out, beat the rush and be at peace now.
Rabbi David Aaron

This week's Torah portion includes Exodus 35:2, a  commandment regarding the Sabbath - "On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire throughout your settlements on the sabbath day."

These words are quite plain in Torah, but their meaning for us today is not as clear. We do not put people to death for working on Shabbos, as is increasingly common in our 24/7 world. We expect hospitals and hotels and transportation services to be working, at the very least.  And many Jews choose to shop as well. Contemplating the meaning of Exodus 35:2 and what it means to me today is not easy.

*************
This is a good time for remembering to stop, chill out and beat the rush in this busy season of cleaning and preparations for Seder Night on March 25, 2013. Take a few minutes to listen to Dr. Yedidah Cohen of Nehora School reading and sharing the writings of Rabbi Yehuda Lev Ashlag on the deep, inner meanings of Passover. It's a recording of our live weekly class on Skype, and you are welcome to drop in and join us. It is truly inspiring! See Dr. Yedidah Cohen's books and Nehora School website, too.

ShabbosChicSederPlate
Toward the end of this recorded class you'll hear a fascinating description of the Seder plate and how it represents the lower seven Sepherot. In addition, the Seder table and the three matzot resting on the table are addressed, to enliven all our Seders this year.
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