Create A Mental Haven
When we travel to locations noted for their tranquil settings, we become calm and relaxed. We let go of all tension and stress. It is not the place that enables one to feel this inner peace. It is one's mind which accomplishes this. When the setting is just right, our minds let go of all the factors that prevent us from feeling serene. And serenity is what we experience. Your mind has the ability to create a serene personal haven. The place you can visualize can be truly perfect. When you mentally come to your personal haven, you immediately feel all tension and stress melting away. If you ever find yourself in a place that is especially challenging to your level of serenity, mentally visit your personal utopia.
Love Yehuda Lave
JUST FOR FUN
Saturday evening, May 23rd, begins the two day holiday of Shavuot (in Israel it is only one day) (or Shavuos in the Ashkenazic pronunciation). (Yizkor is on Monday, May 25th.) It is the anniversary and celebration of the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people 3,326 years ago. It is a time of rededication and commitment to learning Torah.
Q & A: What is Shavuot and How is it Celebrated?
The Torah calls Shavuot the "Festival of Weeks" (Numbers 28:26). The very word "Shavuot" is Hebrew for "weeks"; it refers to the seven weeks that one counts from the second day of Passover (when the Omer [barley] offering is brought) until the holiday of Shavuot. It is one of the three Regalim, holidays, (Pesach and Succot are the other two) where every man in the land of Israel was commanded to come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival when the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple, stood in Jerusalem.
Torah is the life blood of the Jewish people. Our enemies have always known that when we Jews stop learning Torah, our assimilation is inevitable. Without knowledge there is no commitment. One cannot love what he does not know. A person cannot do or understand what he has never learned.
A Jew is commanded to learn Torah day and night and to teach it to his children. If a Jew wants his family to be Jewish and his children to marry other Jews, then he must integrate a Torah study program into his life and implement the teachings into his home and his being. One can tell his children anything, but only if they see their parents learning and doing mitzvot, will they inherit the love for being Jewish. Remember: a parent only owes his child three things -- example, example, example.
How can we utilize this opportunity to grow and strengthen our self-identity as Jews? Just as a baby crawls, then toddles and then walks, likewise with the mitzvot (commandments). A person should undertake one more mitzvah, do it well and then build on it. For some mitzvot that you might enjoy taking on...
A Few Suggestions
1. Read the Torah! The Almighty gave it to you as a gift. It is the instruction book for living -- how to be happy, choose the right spouse, make your marriage work, raise your children with values, get more joy out of life.
2. Attend a Torah class -- or if you wish to listen to recorded classes,
3. Make sure you have a Kosher mezuzah scroll on at least your front door. (A Jewish home should have mezuzot on all doorposts except for the bathrooms). Learn the deep, inner-meaning of mezuzah and reflect on it when you look at the mezuzah.
4. Pick one non-kosher food item that you won't eat -- just because you're Jewish.
5. Say the Shema and its three following paragraphs at least once a day. Learn what the words mean and the ideas included. It will change your outlook and attitudes.
6. Do something to make Shabbat special -- light two candles with the blessing before sundown, have a Shabbat Friday night family dinner and make Kiddush and HaMotzei (the prayer before eating the Challahs -- the special loaves of bread).
The Talmud says, "All beginnings are difficult.
On Shavuot there is a custom to stay up all night learning Torah. Virtually every synagogue and yeshiva have scheduled learning throughout the night ending with the praying of Shacharit, the morning service. The reason: the morning the Jewish people were to receive the Torah on Mt. Sinai, they overslept. We now can rectify the tendency to give in to our desires by demonstrating our resolve through learning the whole night. It is a meaningful experience to share with your children.