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The Explosion That Shook My Home

Rosh Chodesh Sivan 5778

Art by Yehoshua Wiseman

Shalom to my Dear and Beautiful Sisters.

It’s that time of the month again! It is a time for new beginnings, a new Jewish month, a brand new channel for us sisters to bring down divine blessings. This Monday night/Tuesday is Rosh Chodesh Sivan. What an incredible month! It is in this month we celebrate and REEXPERIENCE the awesome, individual and collective, receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai over two thousand years ago. It is actually written in the Torah, that the WOMEN were the FIRST to receive the Torah, waiting at the crack of dawn, as the sun was peeking out, in unparalleled anticipation and excitement to receive this awesome gift. This hints to the deep connection that Jewish Women have, and have always had to the timeless wisdom of the Torah. Shavuot (coming up next week on Sunday and Monday– click here for more info) is the Holiday where we commemorate receiving the Torah. A time when we can step back, deeply contemplate, and appreciate the secrets of life taught to us by the Torah.

This month we learn about how the secret of joy and success belongs to…. women who know how to keep walking. Before I go further, let me tell you ladies what happened in Tsfat last week. It was late Tuesday night, my house was quiet and all were peacefully sleeping. Around 2:30 AM I was jolted awake by the sound of a huge explosion that caused my windows to rattle and my kids to jump in bed with me. Only later did we find out that this thunderous noise we heard was the sound of the Iron Dome intercepting a missile launched at Israel by Iran.

This early morning episode got me thinking. So often we walk through life, but we’re half a sleep. We have a pulse; we’re breathing, eating, sleeping, taking care of the kids, and going through all the motions of life. Yet, we’re sleepwalking. It takes a boom of thunder to wake us up. When the Jews were standing at Mount Sinai ready to receive the Torah, the miraculous thunder and lighting shook the world and woke up our souls to walk through life with meaning and purpose.

Indeed, the wisdom of the Kabbalah teaches that the unique essence of this month is walking! The incredible women in the book of Ruth (which is customarily read on Shavuot) reminds us of the innate ability that we as women have to keep going, to keep walking. When we have difficult situations in our lives we have two choices; we can get stuck in self-pity and despair (why me?), or we can pick ourselves up and keep going.

Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi, were both raised in super privileged upper class wealthy homes. They lost all their money, their husbands. They lost all of their familiar comforts. They were left with the following choice: to give up or to keep going. Both women chose to stand up, dust themselves off and keep walking. For me, this is such a powerful message. Ruth and Naomi drew their strength from the wisdom of the Torah that endowed them with courage, patience and perseverance. That same well of strength waits to be tapped, by any of us, who dare to keep walking in the face of everything pushing us down.

Throughout the story of Ruth, the word halicha, walking, recurs often. Ruth's walking transverses worlds. She is born a non-Jew, and walks into the world of Torah and Judaism as a convert. She walks into a life with her husband, and not long after, into the life of a widow. She keeps on moving. She accompanies her mother-in-law on a difficult trek back to Beit Lechem (literally the House of bread) but she ironically has no bread. She walks into a field to gather the stalks of grain left for the poor, and inadvertently, walks into a new life as the wife of Boaz the Jewish leader of the generation, not knowing she was destined for greatness all along. She ultimately becomes the great grandmother of the greatest King who ever lived, King David.

Sometimes our personal journeys and challenges seem so insignificant. Ruth's poignant story reminds us that our seemingly insignificant baby steps can affect worlds. We like Ruth are destined for greatness… The Hebrew word halacha which describes the detailed practical application of the Torah is translated as ‘laws’ in English. But really, its message is so much deeper. Halacha literally means walking. Halacha, our tried and true, G-d given, specific, practical advice is all about how to keep walking, no matter what we've been through. It lays before us the spiritual pathway, illuminating how to continue to connect, inwards, outwards and upwards, despite the trials that may come our way. That is the celebration of Shavuot! The joy of continually walking, moving and growing through one’s life journey, using the spiritual tools and practices gifted to us by the Torah.

You may be thinking, from where does this strength come to keep moving? To not get stuck no matter what? The secret lies in the nature of the day Shavuot, "the time of the giving of our Torah.” Do you know what happened at Mount Sinai? It says in the Torah that we saw the thunder and heard the lightning. We saw the thunder and heard the lightning?! Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? The reality is that thunder is simply the sound of the explosion of lightning, interconnected and happening precisely at the same time. It is just our perception that perceives the two as separate distinct phenomenon.

At Mount Sinai, we were so overwhelmed with the revealed presence of G-d, that, for a moment in time, all of the seemingly disparate details in our life, seemed to dissipate, dissolve and we began to feel our life as WHOLE, one, unified with a divinely handcrafted game plan. The day of the giving of the Torah, Shavuot, is a day when I am totally open to feeling the oneness and unity in my world, open to re-experiencing this revelation TODAY.

So I bless you to take a few conscious moments every day of this month (we can start with just today…) to purposefully direct our energy and passion toward a Torah illuminated life. May we thus become attuned to the revelation of the perfect One in everything we do. Because then it's clear! Even if I am going through something difficult, I have the awareness that there is love in the darkness, and that in the bigger picture and everything is perfectly divinely good. I thus become filled with G-d given strength to, like Ruth, stand up, dust myself off and keep walking and growing, no matter what. Have a wonderful week and a meaningful Shavuot!! Elisheva & the Women of the Waters.

Shavuot is Sunday and Monday, May 21 and 22th (click here for more info on Shavuot, one of the three main Jewish holidays.)

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