Company Name - Company Message
RSS Become a Fan

Delivered by FeedBurner


Recent Posts

Pesach Season Prayer For Dew
Reflections on Passover Morning 2017
Happy Chanukah Shabbat!
Just One Shabbat Can Change The World!
Temple Tiles for our Times

Categories

Australian Jews
Becoming Divine
Chabura
Challah
chatzos
Creation, Sabbath rest
Elul
Emunah
Fair Trade
Free will
Freedom
Friday light
Gratitude
Hanukkah
Holy Temple
Israel
Jerusalem
Jewish
Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership
JPFO
Kabbalah
Light, Chanukah
Messiah
Miriam
Mishkan
Omer
Passover, Pesach
Prayer
Psalms, King David
Purim
Rabbi Nivin
Rosh Chodesh
Rosh Hashana
Shabbat On My Own
Shabbat, Shabbos, Sabbath
Shabbos music
Shabbos recipes
Shalom Bayit
Sober Seder
Soul
Spiritual growth
Spiritual worlds
Succos, Sukkot
Thanksgivvukah
Tikkun olam
Women of the Wall
Yeud Tikkun
Yirat Hashem
Yom Kippur
powered by

Shabbos Chic Blog

Shabbat, Shabbos, Sabbath

Just One Shabbat Can Change The World!

This inspiring talk by Rebbetzin Yemima Mizrachi will leap into your heart and motivate you to light Shabbos Candles this week, and every week. Enjoy!

You need Flash Player in order to view this.
Rebbetzin Yemima Mizrachi: Just One Shabbos
We are the lights of Shabbat

Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5776

This is literally the last rose of summer in my garden here in north Texas today. It's a Blue Girl, and the scent is divine. Honestly, I keep holding the vase up to my nose to enjoy every last whiff of it.

My Blue Girl rose is a lovely representation of the gifts of study and understanding I'm gaining about Rosh Chodesh now, with only 4 hours left of Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5776.

Besides being a woman's holiday and a day of historic importance each month long ago, when the new moon sighting established the first day of the new month on the Hebrew calendar, Rosh Chodesh is a wonderful opportunity for the Jewish people to reclaim the responsibility of sanctifying time.

Naturally, we usually think of Shabbos as a holy place in time. And it is, but so is Rosh Chodesh, as the head of each month. If the new moon is not recognized by the Children of Israel, the whole month and its Holy Days are not established spiritually.

BeingJewish.com puts it this way, "The holiness of the Holidays comes through us. Hashem makes us holy, and we bring holiness to the world, but the holiness of the Sabbath comes directly from Hashem, not through us." 

I am contemplating my relationship to Hashem, the Holy Days and Shabbos today, with a few hours left of Rosh Chodesh Kislev, before Shabbos begins.

And I'm looking forward to the next lesson in the EmunaHealing course I'm taking with Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum on Sunday 11/15/15. What a privilege to study healing from a Torah perspective, with other women all over the world!

Finally, I'm contemplating the appearance of mustard and kale greens my husband planted 3 full months ago, after weeks of flooding, followed by weeks of drought.

Here's our Rosh Chodesh/Shabbos green harvest today, in this significant miracle month of Kislev when Chanukah occurs. Shabbat Shalom!


Spiritual Ascent is for Everybody

I love this old postcard with a drawing of a street in Safed,  Israel. It draws me in and definitely makes me want to visit soon!

These words from a talk by Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz of ParadisePrinciple.com resonate with me today, looking out at the world and also looking into myself these days:

"There are a million subtle levels on which we fight our spiritual battles in life, and we have to understand that the pre-condition of our spiritual assent is actually a spiritual descent, an agreement to go down into the muck and to raise ourselves out of it."

Looking at my own challenges and the enormous global challenges we all face can be simply overwhelming. It can stop us in our tracks everyday, rendering us unable to move, or even think about moving. 

But we are put here on this earth to persevere, and to overcome both physical, material challenges and spiritual battles as well. 

This Shabbat I am thinking about being a spiritual warrior. 

And Rabbi Schwartz continues on that subject, "Our inner evil inclination, the Yetzer Hara tries to keep us away from being who we are, and doing what G-d wants us to do. 

"And as regards being a Spiritual Warrior, it tries to convince us that the only successful warrior is the one who can look back and see that everything is going smoothly."

Right!  Since when does fighting a battle go smoothly? That is generally not how battles go, is it? It is only my inner evil inclination trying to convince me that rough patches in my life, and in the world, are evidence of failure. 

Our battles are our tikkun, and tikkun is not failure. This is what we came here to do - to repair the world through our challenges.

Finally, Rabbi Schwartz says, " We have to know that the measure of success is not smoothness, with regard to a spiritual warrior. In fact, it’s the persistence and encouragement to not give up, no matter now difficult things are and how rough our lives may appear."

One of my favorite, most precious spiritual warrior friends is Yedidah Cohen in Safed.  Check out her translations of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag's work, and her wonderful podcasts.

Shabbat Shalom!! 

Shabbat Shalom Pinchas

This week, Shabbos Pinchas, I'm taking note of some big changes in my perception of my life and business challenges.

Hashem has given me an opportunity to step back and see how my lack of focus is costing me in many ways, some are tangible and measurable in this world, and some are for The World To Come.

I need to put my focus on what I ALREADY HAVE, what I've been given and what I've developed in my life.  The keys to appreciating and realizing my success are forged by my recognition of these gifts. My challenges are, in fact, my gifts. In my challenges I grow and identify my focus.

My dear friend Rae Shagalov's beautiful calligraphy, created especially for Shabbos this week, reminds me that I have a special day (each week) to remember that my life is complete and my purpose is already fulfilled.

What a relief!  What a totally wonderful reality to believe, accept and remember.   Shabbat Shalom!

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."

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!

It's Spring, And It's Parshas Vayikra

This week we begin the book of Vayikra, with the Torah portion of the same name.

It's about sacrifices, and that's something very foreign to us today, unless we look at it spiritually.

Rabbi Akiva Tatz provided a little booklet for those of us in his weekly class through Jewish Workshops, and he wrote: "If there is no difficulty, there is no sacrifice." That is another way to look at the whole concept of sacrifice, very different from the Temple sacrifices in the past.

The difficulties in our lives (and we all have PLENTY of them) are our opportunities for sacrifice. We can choose to see them as a way to give up our selfishness and small view of ourselves and of the world (which of course includes other people), and in that choice we are sacrificing other viewpoints.

Choosing a higher view and following through with higher actions is making a sacrifice of everything we are not thinking and not doing instead.

I am thinking and posting about sacrifice this Shabbos, and will undoubtedly be wrestling with the concept the rest of my life!

The Hidden Meaning of Purim Influences Shabbos

Learning about the hidden meaning of Purim this year is showing me a deeper way to understand my experience on Shabbos.

It's all about my soul, the levels or layers in the life of my soul that I may not understand, and it's exciting. I love knowing there's more going on inside me, a bigger picture, a greater awareness I have yet to explore.

I especially love knowing I am connected to deeper parts of myself, and at the same time I am connected to Hashem.


In a little ebook published by Bilvavi.net, titled Purim Wine, I am drawn deeper into more understanding of Purim and more understanding of myself:

"If we reflect into what we said before, we can see that Purim is totally different than all other auspicious times of the year. We will not get into now what each Yom Tov reveals for us; but what we will say is something general, that each Yom Tov serves to reveal a special power of our soul. Purim is not like any other Yom Tov; Purim reveals the very root of our soul, a point that is way above our conscious state."

Purim is not mentioned in Torah because the historic events it commemorates happened long after Torah was given to the Israelites. And the Book of Esther read on Purim was the last  book included in the twenty-four books of Tanach established by The Great Assembly.

Honestly, the Purim story told in the Book of Esther and the customs associated with the holiday of Purim can be very confusing because they don't make sense. 

What makes sense to me is this - I am connected to parts of myself that are deeper and possibly darker than I want to believe. And at the same time I am connected to the incomprehensible perfection of the Creator of the Universe.

That is something I choose to explore more than once a year on Purim.

Once again (from Bilvavi.net) "Purim reveals the very root of our soul..." which is something I long to explore every week on Shabbos, too, when my soul is connected, "... way above our conscious state."

Shabbos is Not Just One Day

This week I began to explore the idea of Chatzos, which means getting prepared for Erev Shabbos by noon on Friday.

It's a wonderful goal, and once it becomes a habit I know I'll be more peaceful and enjoy the menucha or peace of Shabbos easily at candle-lighting time.

It's a bit tricky during the winter months when sunset comes early...


"When all of the ideologies that were supposed to redeem us from our troubles have visibly and miserably failed, the Shabbat remains a beacon of light and hope for Israel and a symbol of our eternal covenant with our Creator."

The idea of preparing in advance is lovely, but often seems impractical, until we make it a priority. I WANT to make it a priority now. It's a way to show respect for the Sabbath, but also for myself.

When the food is prepared and the table is set by noon, or at least several hours prior to candle-lighting time, and I have bathed and put on fresh clothing, that is showing respect in all ways. It brings Shabbos all the way into Friday, making it last more than one day each week.

Chatzos is Shalom Bayit in action.

"The more the mental anticipation and actual preparation for Shabbos, the more one will taste Shabbos.

The more one will treasure it, will center one's life around it, the more one will be at ease on Shabbos.

Parasha Beshalach 5775 - Song of The Sea

"A confident person may have mastery over his environment. A person with great self-worth, on the other hand, has mastery over himself.

What does it take to have self-control? The answer is being in touch with our souls." Rabbi David Aaron

I am exploring what it means to be in touch with my soul this year on Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Song, because there's a deep, undeniable connection within me. I don't have to understand it completely, but I do choose to acknowledge and respect it.

Like an explosion of worshipful energy in my soul, I'm plugged-in and humming along.  I'm ready and eager to serve.  A good place to be while preparing for Shabbos, yes?

"Not only is Shabbos special in a spiritual sense. Even in a physical sense, Shabbos is a magnificent treasure."
Rabbi Mordechai Rhine

The following quote from The Jewish Virtual Library encourages us to feed the birds outside our homes on Shabbat Shirah. We just bought some  prepared birdseed called "birdola," which looks just like granola made especially for birds!

ShabbosChicShabbatShirah

Every Shabbos is New

Shabbos candlelightingI love having two New Years celebrations each year. Rosh Hashanah and January 1st are both opportunities to start over anew, to focus on fresh, new goals and go deeper in my spiritual practices. 

Even better though, I love Shabbos each week. It's the culmination of one seven-day period of my achievements when I stop and  honor God's ultimate achievement - Creation. It's my connection to the past and the future. It's on beyond celebrating a new year. It's timeless and yet it's frequent.

Jews all over the world are honoring the seventh-day Sabbath with me, so I'm not really alone, even if lighting my Shabbat candles is a solitary activity for me in my home.  But the intimacy of candlelighting cannot be described. You just have to do it to understand it for yourself.

Will you join me?  Will you take the weekly opportunity to fill your home and your heart with the light of Shabbos?

We can get started having Shabbos fun today watching this video about braiding Challah, the traditional bread used (and enjoyed!) each Shabbos eve following Kiddush.

Watch a true Challah Artist in action! (HERE is another video showing how to make the delicious egg bread Challah dough for a crowd.)

You need Flash Player in order to view this.
Challah Braiding
Different ways to braid dough for challah or any other bread.

The Shabbat Project This Weekend

What a joy to know that millions of people all over the world are choosing to honor Shabbos this weekend - October 24th and 25th, 2014. The Shabbat Project is the answer to prayer for me and for many Jews all over the world. Will you join us?

Tiny House for Shabbat?

This is my idea of a perfect little Shabbat cabin... where I would relax and read and scoop food from the Crockpot in complete peace.  Can you see it, too?

In real life this cabin is located at the Clearwater Gallery in Sisters, Oregon and it is available for rent to artists.

This precious little cabin made me realize that Shabbat is always and forever an artistic expression for me. It's the ultimate opportunity to sit back and watch my Creator's handiwork in my life. Every week. And what a perfect little place for Elul reflection, too.

Basking in the afterglow of Shavuot 2014


Listening to the lovely, hypnotic songs of Shauli on Soundcloud this Friday evening, preparing for our Shabbat Eve....

I am filled with gratitude for the precious revelations and answers to prayers during Shavuot this week.

I am thankful to be a Jew and to have these Holy Days to remember how thankful I am to be a Jew.


Parashat Beha'alothekha opens with the following (from The Living Torah, translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan):

"God spoke to Moses, telling him to speak to Aaron and say to him, 'When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall illuminate the menorah."

May we all be blessed with illumination this Shabbos and always!

SHABBAT SHALOM
TO MY PEOPLE EVERYWHERE

Shabbat - A Spa For The Soul

My FridayNightLight.org email today really filled me with enthusiasm for lighting my candles this weekend:

"Magical things happen when we rest. The mind quiets itself. The body lets go of tension.

That feeling of perpetual motion and not being able to keep up dissolve.

Shabbat, thanks to our Creator, is a weekly opportunity to rest and to recharge. When we take advantage of the profound opportunity for revitalization that Shabbat offers, we give ourselves the gift of self care.

Even if trips to a spa resort are beyond our means, Shabbat is always there as a spa for the soul and a rest for the body."


Shabbos Blessings For Our Children

"My parents created a profound tradition when we were very young: addressing one child at a time, they would recite the traditional Hebrew blessing and then each of them would gift an impromptu personal blessing from the heartsoul"

These words by Ilana Lerman in her post on Ritualwell.org began her story called Building Blessing Muscle. She recalls how her parents placed their hands on the shoulders of each child in turn and spoke individual blessings upon each of the three of them every Shabbat Eve.

Such a beautiful picture for us all this Shabbos as we light our candles with our children present in the room with us, or in our hearts. We can always bless them with our "heartsoul" as did Illana's parents.

The Candle of the Lord

My weekly email from Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum provided these perfect words for us all on Shabbos this week -

"The candle, which symbolizes the words of Torah, is considered a guide to life, safeguarding us from stumbling.

Whoever performs a mitzvah sustains his soul, and is considered as if he lit a candle before G-d as it states:

 Ner Hashem nishmat adam
A candle of G-d is the soul of man.

The benefit of the candle is that it purifies the soul.

Candles differ from other goods in this world, which becomes reduced when shared with others. From one candle you can kindle thousands of candles without diminishing the light of the original candle.

In the same way, when we fulfill a mitzvah even if it seemingly comprises expense and effort, we do not get depleted but rather recharged with renewed spiritual energy."

Shabbos of Parshat Vaera

The days are finally getting longer now, so our Shabbos will arrive a minute or so later than last week.  I love this time of year because it is such a great time to remember to bring Light out of the darkness in our lives and in the world.

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's classic work called Sabbath - Day of Eternity is provided by OU.org online, and reading it will surely warm up this dark time of year for you as it does for me.  

Growing Through Shabbos with Rabbi Labinsky

Enjoy the intelligent, compassionate teachings of Rabbi Yaakov Zalman Labinsky in his 20-part audio program on building our inner sanctuary in order to receive the Divine Presence on Shabbos.

Shabbat Sukkot

Sending Light To The Nations
on Shabbat Sukkot from London, England

It's Shabbat and It's Yom Kippur - A Double Blessing

When Yom Kippur and Shabbos coincide, it's hard to imagine the great Light accessible to us all.  I honestly don't think it can be expressed any better than this quote from my FridayLight email today:

"Have you ever seen a flame leap back to its source, like when sparks ignite from a camp fire, and then fall back into the fire itself?

We each have a spiritual spark within. It is a spark that is purely a piece of our Creator, and it lives in each of us. Though it is usually covered in layers of spiritual and physical shells, on Yom Kippur that innermost spark shines out and comes close to its source.

Yom Kippur is the one day of the year when we have the power to access that spark. It is a day when we can truly be our most real spiritual and physical selves.

This Shabbat is Yom Kippur. When we light our candles today, we are welcoming the opportunity to access that truest, most pure part of yourself. Have a meaningful Yom Kippur and Shabbat Shalom from FridayLight!"

And also from me, Mia Sherwood Landau. May your life and your spiritual growth be immeasurably blessed this year and always.

"On this day, just one time per year, we are lifted collectively and individually above our past and given the opportunity to “whiten” and purify the toxic residue of the pain, disappointments and regrets that we have picked up throughout the year and even throughout our lives." Shifra Hendrie

Joan Nathan Making Challah for Shabbos and Rosh Hashanah

Watch Joan Nathan demonstrating how to make traditional braided challah, and special round loaves for Rosh Hashana... it's like having your own Jewish mother or grandmother showing you how it's done.

Still looking for a place to make a donation, your tzedaka this New Year?  Consider Project MOT, care packages to Jewish military personnel.

Contemplating Parashat Kitavo - First Things First

It isn't just the first fruits of the land we contemplate this Shabbos reading Parashat Kitavo... no, it's our first thoughts and actions each day.

Rebbetzin Chana Brach Siegelbaum posts the following on her Women At The Crossroads blog this week:

"Knowing that the holy Torah is eternal; as we learn from the Thirteen Principles of Belief: “This Torah will never be exchanged;”* then, how do we fulfill the mitzvah of Bikurim today when we have neither a worshipping  Kohen, nor a Temple, or an altar?

Even today we can fulfill the mitzvah of Bikurim by dedicating the beginning of every matter to Hashem. The body follows the head."

* Rambam, the Thirteen Principles of Emunah, #9.

When am I happy?

"I am happy when I am not constantly asking myself if I am happy."Andrew Lustig on Jewels of Elul IX,  Day 10

Prayer for Elul, Shabbos and Always

I am touched by words in two inspiring emails today. The first quote is from Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz on the topic of Prayer:

"Every word of prayer makes an impression and isn't wasted. Sometimes much later their effect is felt, sometimes in a very different way than was intended. The principle is that there is nothing ever lost. 

However , there are many levels of  impact. Just as each person's life outlook is different, as is reflected by the fact that no two faces look alike---so too , no two prayers impact are alike."

And the other quote is on the topic of Prayer, too.  It is from my weekly FridayLight.org email, always so welcome as I prepare for Shabbos each week:

"In Jewish mysticism, there is a concept of two ways of relating to our Creator. One way is for our Creator to reach down to us with help or inspiration. Another way is for us to do our work here on the ground and to reach up to him to ask for help.

It's rare for our Creator to just make changes for us. However, according to mystical sources, when we do everything in our power to bring this redemption for ourselves in combination with asking our Creator for help, that's when the He will generally meet us in the middle. We reach up and He reaches down (metaphorically speaking.)"

Craig Taubman and his Jewels of Elul 5773

Once again this year, 2013 and 5773 in the Hebrew calendar of the world, Craig Taubman and his team are posting wonderful inspiration each day of Elul. You honestly don't want to miss it...

I especially loved reading Quincy Jones' words today, "...when we don’t get the welcome we feel we deserve, it’s important to not sit back and wait for it. It likely will never come.

You’ve got to look for it in other ways and other places. Just keep looking until you find a door of welcoming that’s opening up. You may have to do some pushing to get it to open all the way. Then walk on through."

Oh yeah, and it's especially true on Shabbat.

Rabbi Shais Taub on Shabbos, Men, Women and Idolatry

I just listened, and now
I guarantee that your understanding of human relationships and of our  enduring relationship with Shabbos can change forever  right now, too. 

Just click and listen to Rabbi Shais Taub as he tells us how it can work out, if we choose.

Yes, it's a choice. We can see ourselves as men and women, and we can see the Shabbos in a new way, and a way that actually works.

Enjoy this beautiful 3-minute audio of  Shir HaMa'alot Shabbat Shalom

Sights and Sounds of The Sabbath

Shabbat is set aside and there are many sights, sounds and tastes for us to enjoy at home, or wherever we may be. Right now I am inclined to share the English translation of one of my favorite sights and sounds.

Adon Olam is a powerful prayer, by sight (reading) and by sound (listening). It is available for us all, for all time.

This translation is from the Artscroll Children's Siddur by Shmuel Blitz, with precious illustrations by Tova Katz:

Master of the Universe,
Who was always King,
even before anything was created,

When nothing will exist anymore,
only He will rule.

Hashem always was here,
Hashem always is here,
and Hashem will always be here.

Hashem is the only One,
there is no other god.

Hashem has no beginning and no end,
Hashem is amazingly strong.

Hashem is my God, and my Redeemer,
He helps me in my time of trouble.

I am safe with Him,
He is there when I call to Him.

He watches over my soul when I go to sleep,
and when I wake up in the morning.

Hashem is always with me,
and I shall not be afraid.

and the following quote from page 10:

"The highest level of prayer
a person can reach is to
pray like a young child."



Shabbat Shalom To One And All


Shabbat is universally about family, and about our relationship to our ultimate, lasting and forever family relationship with Hashem.

Even if we find ourselves alone when we begin the Sabbath, we are not alone. We are part of an enormous and enduring family, and our candle lighting celebrates our family relationship that never ends.

Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz sent an email to commemorate the 5th Yartzeit of his mother today, and he said:

" Our 'FATHER-IN-HEAVEN' [who is also portrayed as 'IMA' or 'Mother' in certain Providential situations according to the Kabbalah], is Someone that we, His children, can always turn to for help and guidance in any and every situation that we find ourselves in. "

May the enduring love of our Creator and Heavenly Father, Hashem, wrap us up in the beauty and safety and warmth of his love, and may we all be blessed.

Shabbat of Vision


"...this Shabbat is called "Shabbat Chazon" after the first word of the book of Isaiah which is the Haftorah for this Shabbat.

Chazon means 'vision' or 'seeing'.

This Shabbat, if observed with joy and concentration, maximizes the possibility
for unity with G-d.

One may benefit from this state of unity and be granted an opportunity for unique and penetrating vision into not only his personal spiritual status, but also into that of the entirety of the Jewish people as well." 


"Shabbat is a special day when our inherent eternal connection with Hashem is activated. There is never any mourning on Shabbat. On Shabbat we all rise up from mourning to delight in eating, drinking, festive clothes and new fruits. Therefore, the Shabbat preceding the 9th of Av is especially suitable for the kind of repentance of 'doing good' through visualizing the Temple. The purpose of the vision is not just to comfort us, but to inspire us and elevate us to turn the vision of the Third Temple into physical reality."

Shabbat Words To Live By

Let's consider these words I received in an email from Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz this week: 
 
"Shabbat is a mindset that is patterned after a future era when there will be nothing lacking, not in people or in anything else.  All will be experienced as being whole and perfect just as it is, and there will be no need to rectify anything or anyone else including ourselves."

Shabbat Shalom from FridayLight.org and from me!


Top 10 Reasons Why Lighting Shabbat Candles is Awesome (From my FridayLight .org email today 6/7/2013):

10. Your grandma probably did it, and so did her grandma.
9. It gives your two minutes to yourself.
8. Candles look pretty!
7. Since G-d created light first, when we light Shabbat lights we bring forth the first light that G-d created. Deep!
6. The candles brings honor and joy to Shabbat!
5. They bring peace into our home and into the world.
4. The act of lighting brings Torah into our homes.
3. As women, it helps us to bring a feeling of Shabbat
into the house.
2. G-d especially loves this mitzvah!
1. It is a mitzvah for women, and it gives us a special connection to G-d and to the Jewish People.
What are your Top Reasons?


Shabbat Shalom from FridayLight.org and from me!

Rabbi Friedman On Shabbat Parshat Behaalotecha


I absolutely LOVED this quote from Rabbi Yosef B. Friedman in an email from The Kehot Publication Society this week. It speaks to my soul in such a deep way, and reminds me of a song I wrote years ago about being a lamp stand. We are all lamp stands, really, and life is all about the light we reflect around us:

"Speak to Aaron and say to him: 'When you kindle the lamps, be sure to place the wicks in these spouts so the seven lamps shine toward the central shaft of the candelabrum.' "
(Chumash Bamidbar 8:2) 
 
When you kindle the lamps: This phrase can be read to mean "When you ascend with the lamps."

In the book of Proverbs, King Solomon compares the G-d's commandments to an oil lamp: "For a commandment is a lamp." The lamp-apparatus comprises several parts: the vessel, the oil, the wick, and the flame. Nonetheless, the essence and purpose of the lamp is not its physical apparatus but the light that shines from it."

These are the opening words and hidden meanings in our weekly Torah portion, and they are special to me.

And here are a few additional words from LChaimWeekly.org, also from an email this week:

"The commandment to kindle the menora is symbolic of every Jew's obligation to involve himself with others and exert a positive influence on everyone with whom he comes in contact. All of us are commanded to ignite the Divine spark in our fellow Jews and light up our surroundings."

Let's all do it with our Shabbos candles tonight - let's exert a positive influence in the world by igniting light in our surroundings.

Thinking About Shavuot This Shabbat

One of my teachers, Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz, shared the following with me:

"Kabbalah teaches a version of the Relativity Factor. The idea is that the perspective of a person is dependent upon whether he is looking up or looking down.

When people are looking beyond themselves to something that is more or greater than they are right now, they feel themselves to be small, and that what waits for them is very big.

Whereas, if they are looking at something that is smaller than they are, then they feel themselves to be very big."

We always have a choice, an opportunity to ourselves and to see others in perspective. The only way I know how to do that is to ask God for help. I ask God to show me other people, situations and myself the way he sees me.

And Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum, always my weekly inspiration with her Women At The Crossroads: A Woman's Perspective on the Weekly Torah Portion, adds to my personal lessons this Shabbos Bamidbar, when she writes:

"Thus, we affirm our belief that rather than competing for importance and power, the energy we receive from the Divine source must be circulated equally among us."

She is talking about the arrangement of the tribes around the Mishkan, as well as the social hierarchies we find ourselves immersed in today. Keeping in mind that we are here with the continual challenge to see things the way they really are, meaning the way God sees them, we can stand back and pray for an attitude adjustment to our perspective when necessary.

I must say, that opportunity presents itself to me MANY times every day!

Finally, Rabbi Yisroel Jungreis sent the following to me in an email this week:

"Midbar can be defined as wilderness or desert; the word bamidbar means “in the Wilderness”, teaching us that if we wish the Torah to impact on us and elevate us, we have to make ourselves like a desert. Even as a desert is barren, so too must we divest ourselves of all pre-conceived notions and allow the Torah to re-shape us. Even as in a desert there are no diversions, so we cannot allow anyone or anything to distract us from our Torah study."

10 More Days Counting the Omer

It is so inspiring to me as I begin to understand that counting the Omer is an opportunity to enhance my growth, in this season of new growth each year.

One of my teachers, Rabbi Aryeh Nivin said these words in an email lately:

"Practically speaking, all you need to do is identify yourself with the Jewish people, with the goals of Har Sinai, with the idea of mamleches kohanim v’goy kadosh—a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  You need to choose a small action, a miniature practice, to do every day that represents your willingness and desire to make a positive change."

So, that is what I am doing now. I am endeavoring to make ONE positive change in order to glue myself to my people and to the goals of Mount Sinai.

What are you doing during this Omer period that will have lasting impact on your relationship to the Jewish people and to Torah?

Oh, I also spoke to a woman on the phone today who is not Jewish, and when I happened to mention that I am Jewish, because we were discussing spiritual matters, she said, "Well, whatever your grandmothers gave you, I respect that."  Gee, that's an interesting thing to say, isn't it?

I know that my "grandmothers" go back to Sinai and she probably has no idea what she really said, in that regard.

How fortunate I am this Shabbat Eve, in considering my relationship to my people and to Torah!

The FridayLight.org email this week echoed Rabbi Nivin's sentiments, as well as my phone call, in a different way:

"Did you ever get to know your great-grandmother? If you're reading this, there's a good chance she emigrated with her family from the "old world" to the "new world"...

So what has changed since your family emigrated? Did your family continue the tradition of lighting Shabbat lights? For lots of us, we are the first generation of women, since our great-grandmothers emigrated, to light Shabbat lights every Friday. And it's something to be really proud of...

First and foremost, we fulfill a commandment when we light Shabbat lights. But on a personal level, lighting Shabbat lights is a way to bring the lights of our great-grandmothers to life."

Please feel free to share in the comments for us all to enjoy.

Shabbat.com Eshet Chayil Video - Lovely!

Shabbat.com Video Shabbat Shabbos Candlelighting Shabbat Candle lightingClick photo for a short, lovely video by Shabbat.com, the world's largest social network for Jewish people offering and looking for a place to spend Shabbos.

Seeing With The Eyes of God

Working with people all over the world on their book projects, I have the privilege of hearing their hopes and dreams and goals.  It's such a privilege!

When I got these words from one of my teachers this week, I was just elated because they spoke directly to my professional and personal opportunities to see others as God sees them. And, naturally, to see myself as God sees me as well.

In other words, we can all begin to have this enlightened perspective when, "....we understand how G-d sees us, which includes the past, the present and the future, all at the same time. He IS, he WAS and he WILL BE. That is who he is. That is his name, and that is his essence, or at least it is the essence that we can grasp."

This is something I will be working on the rest of my life, that's for sure. Remembering the Holy Name in my real life circumstances, and remembering what it means TO ME, what it means in my relationships with others, is the basic challenge of humanity, isn't it? It is the basic message of Torah living in us, in our everyday lives.

Relgious Freedom To Keep The Sabbath In The United States

Moment Magazine published a thorough, scholarly article on the future of religious freedom this week. It includes segments from a variety of law professors and other authorities. I particularly liked this quote by Marc Stern, general counsel of the American Jewish Committee -

"There are substantial numbers of influential people who believe that a person ought not to be able to take religion very far into the public. This increasingly vocal secular cohort is no longer comfortable with accommodating religious practice in any way.

Some atheist groups are even challenging Sabbath observer accommodation, objections which we haven’t heard for a long time. Their view is that religion should be an entirely private affair, and that the government should take no notice of it. In part, these changes reflect a general secularizing trend in Western society."

Oh boy, this is surely an excellent description of what we can all see is going on. I'm not sure what else to say following Stern's comment, other than bring my passion for Shabbos to the world through my blog as Tikkun Olam.

Ruach (Spirit) vs Koach (Might) In Israel And In Us


Following is a quote from a special PDF provided by www.ARZA.org offering unique blessings for lighting each candle of your menorah in order to honor  Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day. This year - 2013 - it begins on Monday, April 15 and comes to a conclusion at sunset on Tuesday, April 16.

"In the book of Zechariah there is a description of the seven branched Menorah (candelabrum)with two olive branches on its sides. This description symbolizes the belief in Ruach (Spirit) over Koach (Might). “The angel who talked with me came back and woke me as one is wakened from sleep. He said to me, “What do you see?” And I answered, “I see a menorah all of gold, with a bowl above it.

The lamps on it are seven in number, and the lamps above it have seven pipes, and by it are two olive trees, one on the right of the bowl and one on its left. I, in turn, asked the angel who walked by me, “What do these things mean, sir?” “Do you not know what those things mean?” asked the angel who talked with me, and I said, “No, sir.” Then he explained to me as follows: : This is the word of The Eternal to Zerubavel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said The Lord of Hosts.”(Zechariah, 4:1-6)

The national symbol of Israel is, of course, the menorah. The ARZA suggested blessings bring our present world circumstances into sharp focus as we celebrate, and the words of the blessings come directly from, "Israel’s Declaration of Independence issued in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948 (5th of Iyar, 5708) – when David Ben Gurion and
his cabinet declared the establishment of the
State of Israel."



Jewish Women Inspiring My Life

Isn't it wonderful that we can read the words and hear the voices of women teaching Torah and sharing their knowledge and experience with us now? Today I want to share some connections with Jewish women inspiring my life.  Some are virtual friends (Skype, email and phone), and some are friends of my soul because their written words touch me deeply and change me forever.

Women of the Wall have been gathering on Rosh Chodesh since 1988, standing at the Western Wall and singing and praying together. These women come from all levels of observance and cultures over the years, and they have collaborated on a Rosh Chodesh Siddur that is available for sale on their website so we can all join in prayer.

My coach and friend, Lynn Chapman [The Stress-Less Coach], shared in an email this week: "We’re bombarded by a constant flow of other people’s expectations: bosses that expect more from us than we can deliver, clients who don't return our calls and yet want us to drop everything when they do, loved ones who are disappointed by our lack of attention, and a constant barrage of email and social media tweets and twerps that we need to return."

That is a PERFECT description of modern life, and the PERFECT prescription to survive it is Shabbos, isn't it? Lynn's coaching catapaulted me into my writing and sharing career as we worked together on the phone.

I studied with Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum last spring, and she is offering another course on Emuna Healing this year. She has an amazing ability to bring the knowledge of Torah and Kabbalah into our lives for physical and emotional healing.  Rebbetzin Siegelbaum 's book, Women At The Crossroads: A Woman's Perspective On The Weekly Torah Portion is my constant companion each Shabbat, and I encourage you to read it weekly, too.

Our weekly shuirs with author  Dr Yedidah Cohen in Safed Israel are  very precious opportunities to study the works of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag in English. Yedidah has translated two books, and is working on a third one now.

We are studying A Tapestry For the Soul now, and I am amazed at the incredible value it adds to my life each week. Having the privilege to hear her translate from Hebrew directly into English when she brings additional materials into our classes is a priceless opportunity for spiritual growth. I wouldn't want to miss it!

Finally, this article by Cantor Wendy Haley Koblinsky links to several YouTube videos of Avinu Malkeinu. I enjoyed hearing different men and women singing the powerful prayer, Our Father Our King in different styles, with and without accompaniment, including folk and rock versions.

Wendy writes, "The text of Avinu Malkeinu can certainly be a dose of reality, one might even say a punch in the gut. It cuts through our empty promises, mistakes of the past, and uncertainty in our ability to do better. It returns us to square one: We are not perfect, we have not made the right choices, we firmly will ourselves to do better, and in the interim, ask for patience."

All I can say to that is AMEN.

Body and Soul - Two Extremes In Us All


"The human being is composed of two parts: body and soul. Paradoxically, they represent two extremes, and, miraculously, they seem to co-exist. One side of the human, the body, is driven toward materialism and has little interest in spiritual concepts, including, and sometimes especially, G-d. The soul, on the other hand, ONLY cares about G-d and His will. Like parent and child, they seem, much of the time, to occupy the same space, but with opposite goals."

Rabbi Pinchas Winston posted those words on Torah.org in his article on this week's Torah portion, Tazria. It is refreshing to think about our inner challenges as a parent/child relationship, which always involves conflict based on perceptions of age and personal desires.

I have a goal to remember and listen to my soul more often now. All the distractions in the world tend to seem much more important and pressing than the cry of my eternal soul, and the depth of longing for connection inside me.

I want my "soul goals" and my "body goals" to match up in order to achieve balance and grace in my spiritual growth. More significantly, I want my soul to prevail.

Shabbat Shemini

Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz sent out this message in an email this week -
SHABBAT ASCENT OF WORLDS

"Kabbalah teaches that on Shabbat we ascend to a higher world. In a higher world we realize, as in all higher worlds, that the real factor, the only factor is G-d. The causative factor is G-d. So, on Shabbat we go up and we realize that everything that I did during the weekdays is really G-d doing it through me. G-d is the causative factor."

His words echo, over and over in my mind. I notice that it's easier to remember God as the causative factor in my life when I feel good and things are going well.

Whenever I am NOT HAPPY or even REALLY MAD about something, I am so distracted by my emotion that I rarely think about God as the causative factor of my life lessons.

Nope, I'm just mad and I'm missing the opportunity to grow. When the anger passes I eventually think about what I learned from the situation. Oh, how I wish I could move through that process faster now.


Rabbi Steve Bernstein posted about Parshat Shemini this week, asking, " How do we approach that which is holy in our lives? When do we concern ourselves with the details and instructions of ritual? When are we more concerned with the words of our hearts? Both paths can lead to meaning and holiness."

FREE Shabbos Candles With Lots of Love

Every Friday morning I get an email reminder with the candle lighting time in my area from FridayLight.org, and it always makes me smile in the midst of my busy work day. Yes!  It's almost Shabbos!

This morning I read, "We are all psyched up about seeing a worldwide movement of Jewish women bringing all of our unique and powerful lights into the world.

When lighting our candles this Friday, let's 'lean in' to our Shabbos lighting experience. Dare to make it more meaningful; dare to make it better!  Shabbat Shalom from FridayLight!"

FridayLight.org offers FREE candles and plenty of encouragement when you're just getting started with Shabbat candle lighting. Lighting instructions are available in English, Hebrew, French, Russian and Spanish. Get some and tell your friends all over the globe!

Precious Family Shabbos Blessings - Video

This YouTube video of a young family teaching their toddlers to recite the Shabbos blessings over candles, wine and challah will touch your heart.
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis posted a thank you letter from a young man to his parents on the occasion of his wedding. It will also touch your heart forever.

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.

Rabbi Wayne Dosick on Shabbos and Kabbalah

This photo is an old, pitted, silver Shabbat tray, having seen many a challah in its day, I'm guessing. It is still quite beautiful and it still stands for Shabbos, no matter how worn its surface may be.

I love vintage and antique Judaica and have a small collection of a few, funky old pieces that come out to grace our Shabbos table weekly. Not every piece every week, just a couple sets of candle holders, and a different challah tray, mixed and matched with abandon.

Here's a quote from Rabbi Wayne Dosick, and a link to his YouTube video of a short Kabbalah teaching. Don't miss the whole class singing together at the end of it!

"When understood and performed with its original spiritual intent, the lighting of the Sabbath candles can be a sublime moment, a moment of supreme holiness."

The original spiritual intent of kindling the lights has been a subject of much debate over the centuries, but it is YOUR intent and MY intent each  Friday night on Shabbos Eve that matters. We have a fresh, new opportunity to connect to the tradition, the past and the future in the simple act of lighting candles and reciting the blessing. What a privilege!

This Shabbat Tsav is THE BIG ONE

Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum on ShabbosChicThree voices I follow online had some really powerful words to share on their blogs this week, so here they are linked in my blog - Read Jodi's post about Jewish values and entitlement programs, and Sarah's post about hard work as part of a healthy lifestyle. Jodi and Sarah have the courage to comment, now it's your turn. We all welcome your comments.

So, why do I call this week's Shabbat THE BIG ONE?

The energy of the Torah portion Tsav is particularly suited to overcoming negativity in our own lives. It's not about getting on a pedestal and pointing fingers at others, but about looking deep within and identifying qualities we need to change.

Both Jodi and Sarah, the bloggers mentioned earlier are trying to repair the world in their own unique ways. They are doing so publicly, by blogging and doing their part to encourage others. I guess you could say that is what I am doing, too.

Today I am calling Shabbat Tsav THE BIG ONE because one of my mentors, Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum also posted powerful words this week in her PDF teaching on Shabbat HaGadol which deeply inspired me this week.

It also motivated me to change, not just to talk about changing.  Her book, Women At The Crossroads, is a weekly inspiration each Shabbos, since it looks at each Parasha from a woman's perspective. Very refreshing.

But looking into myself, and being willing to see the areas where I really need to change, that's another thing entirely. It's a tug-of-war in my soul, and it's between pleasure and  will.

Here are some words from Rebbetzin Siegelbaum's Shabbat HaGadol teaching. May they inspire you to change and grow on Shabbat this week, too:

"Rav Raphael Luria explains that the holiness of Shabbat is beyond time since the worlds rise on Shabbat through the revelation of the root of emanation.

The holiness of all the holidays derives from the power of Shabbat that precedes it.

The first holiday that we celebrated as a people is Pesach. Since Pesach is the head of all our holidays, the other holidays receive their sustenance from it."

Now you know why I call this Shabbat Tsav THE BIG ONE. It is truly our big window of opportunity to change and grow.

Sounds of Shabbos All Week Long!

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.
Website Builder provided by  Vistaprint