Category Archives: Sivan

Omer 49

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty nine, which is seven weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim v’teysha she hem shiv’a shavuot laOmer. It’s the last day. I hope you enjoyed being part of my counting

Today is Malkhut be Malkhut, presence within majesty, majesty within presence

It was an awesome Shavuot! Truly amazing! Can you believe that three young adults aged 19, 21, and 21 shlepped from Montreal and Toronto just to stay up all night and study? And a bunch of people from the community? We went into depths with Ruth (some of that stuff is weird) and we read bits of Narnia and we discussed the nature of God and we sang Hallel and we ate tasty foods and it was perfect in every way. That was what I want for Shavuot – study and joy, love and connection. This is what true majesty is – was I a queen? I sure felt like one! The people in my life felt loyal, the surroundings felt opulent, the food was certainly fit for a queen. I felt like “what did I do to deserve this? Nothing! I’ve just been there.” And that is Malkhut be Malkhut – the majesty of presense, the nobility of just being there.

On Shavuot, I recognize that sometimes, just being there is enough.

Omer 48

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty eight, which is six weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim v’shmone she hem shisha shavuot ve shisha yamim laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Malkhut, relationship within majesty, sexuality within nobility

The thing about working at a high school is how much information you get. So and so went out with that guy who only likes her for her body, and the things he said to her! Meanwhile such and such is no longer talking to this other person because of what she said to him before he told that girl that…Now, these two are not dating and they’ve been not dating for 2 years and they’ll probably not date for the rest of high school. These other two on the other hand are dating but one of them is clear that he’s only with the other one because she helps with homework.

I tell them, “people, are you sure you want everyone knowing all this stuff? Really?” Sometimes, those old fashioned rules are useful. When to say, “hi” and to whom. Go out for coffee 3 times and then go to the restaurant. And above all, do NOT let your teachers and every kid in your 50-student high school know all the details of your romantic lives.

It seems formal and stilted and Victorian to talk about rules as far as relationships go. Is there room for actual emotion in all that show? I think there not only is, but that it’s stronger and better if those rules are respected and followed. So much that we do depends on custom and tradition, ritual and rules. And it brings a bit of a respectability to what is otherwise a messy and random situation.

Good rules can create stronger relationships – and good relationships create nobility. It is beautiful to see a true romance, and it can elevate a person to being a queen or a king. We’ve heard that someone is a queen in her partner’s eyes or the sovereign of the home – and it makes sense.

My bigger kids are coming to visit today – and it will be wonderful. I will feel richer than any billionaire and more honoured than any ruler. Within my family, I love my role.

Today, we use rules to strengthen our relationships and relationships to highlight our roles.

Omer 47

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty seven, which is six weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim v’sheva she hem shisha shavuot ve hamisha yamim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Malkhut, gratitude within majesty, acceptance within presence

Today, I am grateful for the kings and queens – the leaders of our world. I don’t mean polititians – I mean the successful people who are good at something and who just get things done, the ones that plan properly and act when the time is right. You know those people, right? The one who was in the giften program, the arts-based program and the athletics program all at the same time, and volunteered, took care of an ill family member, had an active social life and STILL was a genuinely nice human being? The one who finished the dissertation early, while regularly participating in marathons, the CN tower climb and Habitat for Humanity? The one who successfully manages the four small children and the job and still holds weekly dinner parties? You know that person! They are our leaders. And I am grateful for them.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t always like them! They are annoying. First, they tell me what to do, and often – how to do it. Sure, they’re often right but that doesn’t make it less annoying – if anything more! Then they notice and correct my mistakes. Even if they’re nice enough to say nothing, they still show me up just by existing. I’m doing the best I can, true, but their best is better. Also, they have that look – that half pity, half amazement that someone so slow could exist, half irritation at having to deal with it, half self-righteous satisfaction that they’re right and I’m wrong. (I am well aware there are a few too many halfs. Now you’re nagging me about grammar too?)

But I am still grateful for them. They step up. They make dreams into a reality and they make the reality a better one. They encourage and support me and goad me to higher achievement, greater excellence and more long-term satisfaction. They make a difference and ensure I have or at least have access to the things I need – and the things I desire. So, annoying as they are, I am grateful.

Today, I am grateful for the leaders in this world. I strive to be more like them so that someday, someone else can list me in the category of annoying but inspirational and useful.

Omer 46

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty six, which is six weeks and four days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve shesh she hem shisha shavuot ve arba’a yammim laOmer.

Today is Netzakh be Malkhut, victory within majesty, conquest within presense.

There are kings and queens whose vicotries we read about in history books. There’s the conquest of country x by ruler y, and sometimes that’s a good thing and the ruler becomes a great emperor and helps the countries run be stronger and sometimes it’s a disaster and the ruler beomes known through history as a ravager and a despot and we talk for thousands of years about what a baddie that one was. There are also kings and queens we remember for hanging around a very long time. For example, we just celebrated Victoria Day, named after Queen Victoria who hung around a very, very long time. It’s a victory of majesty too – a quieter one, but just as remembered and maybe, in some ways, more important.

There is a teacher I know who has been teaching so long that her worksheets were first made by hand and copied with carbon paper. They have taught children of their former students and have the respect of every member of their community. Now, that – that is a victory.

But it’s not just hanging around a long time that shows victory. Any time persistence is involved, there is a win. Sometimes, the ruler just has to keep governing, even when the country seems in to be in shambles and every one else is yelling and everything seems to be going wrong. Sometimes, the student has to just keep studying, the doctor has to just keep working on the dying patient, the teacher has to just keep teaching, the rabbi has to just keep explaining, the musician playing through the bad notes, the painter painting even though none of them look quite right.

There is a nobility to persistence, and occasionally, despite the predictions of others and the risk factors involved, sometimes, there is a victory.

Today, I keep doing the tasks that I know are important. My victory will come from continuing to try with these tasks. Even if I don’t succeed immediately, the continued attempt is noble.

Omer 45

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty five, which is six weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim v’hamesh she hem shisha shavuot ve shlosha yamim laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Malkhut, beauty within majesty, harmony within presence

Today, I’m here. I may not look all that gorgeous in my onesy and my “majesty” may be limited to changing the kitty-litter and doing the dishes, but I am here. Sometime malkhut is just presense – God’s presense in the world, my presense in the family – presense. By being present, I can share in the laughter and the good times – but also in the awkward momenta and the silences. The presence of God adds a great deal to every moment, and so makes each moment more beautiful. The presense of another person in one’s life does the same. In some ways, people mimic. One serene, joyful, loving person makes a room more serene, joyful and loving. One angry resentful hating person makes a room of people more angry, resentful and hating.

Today, simply by being there and by being my best, most loving, most serene self, I can inspire others and make the world more beautiful.

Sivan- After Shavuot

Mostly, I don’t think of myself as queer. Don’t get me wrong – I am definitely, beyond the shadow of a doubt, in lots of different ways queer. However, mostly, I think of myself as someone who has dishes to do, and marking, and laundry, and exam preparations, and kitty-litter, and review notes. I think of myself as a teacher and a mom, as a housemate and a spouse. I worry about late busses, and important misunderstood text messages. I get reminded sometimes that I’m queer by lovely events like Pride and by notes from queer friends, and that’s nice – but rare.

This week, however, I’ve been almost unable to function. Despite the looming presence of exams and the fact that the marking is now untenably huge.I find myself stopping, frozen, and remembering that I’m queer. I don’t have time for this – really I don’t. Nevertheless, it’s here and so I have to write.

It’s exactly a week since the Orlando massacre popped up in my social media news feed and reminded me once again, and not in a positive way – I’m queer. That means that people want to kill me. It’s hard for me to understand. There are many people who really annoy me and yet – I never want any of them to actually be dead. Still, out there – there are people who want to kill me because I’m queer.

There are also people who want to kill me because I’m Jewish, and while I do think of being Jewish no and then (I mean, I’d just finished blogging through counting the Omer this time last week), I still don’t usually think of Jewish as equalling death threats. I was lucky to have been born when I was, and so I was spared having to live through times when I would assume that I would be killed for being Jewish. I got Jewish education enough to know that being Jewish was a reason for people to hate you and want to kill you but I don’t think of it all that much.

Events like this tell me that I’m not safe. That it’s not OK. That things haven’t changed. That the world is a dangerous, deadly place where people want to kill me for being queer and Jewish, and probably for lots of other things about me.

So, I’ve been functioning less well. I freeze in sadness, thinking of people who died for the silly reason that someone else was crazy and couldn’t tolerate who they were. I freeze in fear. I freeze in irritation – I suppose I could have chosen to pass for straight and converted to Christianity, and then I’d be safe or something – but I shouldn’t have to! I spend far too much time reading the social medias, and looking up articles to try and make sense of the senseless (it has no sense.) I sleep poorly, with my head full of images of what it must be like. I don’t have time for this! It’s June and I’m a school teacher!

And yet…emotions aren’t reasonable or patient, and sometimes out-thinking them doesn’t entirely work. So, today I decided to take more time I don’t have and write a blog. I don’t have anything useful to say really. Just want to say out loud the litany that has been going through my head. I’m Jewish. I’m queer. This means that there are people who want to kill me. There is no safe place. It’s scary.

Hopefully, by writing it, I’ll be able to put that thought away for a while, to acknowledge it, to accept it, and to move on from it. Maybe I’ll be able to think “I’m queer and I’m Jewish – I’m strange and I’m different. I refuse to be scared. I throw my continued existence, my loving, my laughter, and my joy against the world in which people want to kill me.” Maybe I can throw my regular life – my dishes and my marking – against this tragedy and say, “I live. You didn’t kill me. I live and I love and that’s that.” Maybe I can remember I’m queer long enough to make my life as a Jewish queer woman an act of courage and defiance.

I write poetry as part of Shavuot study. This is my Shavuot poem, written partly on Shavuot night, and partly – after. (I’ve included some Torah, translated by me, to put it in context.)

  1. For this commandment which I command you this day – it’s not magic, or tricky, or far away
  2. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it and explain it so we can do it?”
  3. 1 Nor is it over the ocean, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the ocean and fetch it and explain it to us, so that we can do it?”
  4. 14. Nope. Actually, this stuff is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart. You can do it!.
  5. 15. Look, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil,

  1. 19. This day, I call upon heaven and earth as witnesses that I told you so: I have set before you life and death, blessing and the curse. You shall choose life, so that you and your children will live;

 

Don’t search across oceans, salt water filled, lonely
Like an ancient mariner floating; water that parches, makes crazy

Don’t search for bitter water, drawn from rock in anger,
Breaking relationship; ending; puckering faces and feelings

Search for sweet water drawn from wells of healing.
Taste on your lips drinking water from a friend
Choose water. Choose Torah. Choose life.

Don’t search in the sky, eyes distant and straining
Distraction, diversion, anything so as not to be here

Don’t search for storms of overwhelming emotion
Wild winds of despair and sadness; battering structure, destroying

Search for breezes that take away the stench and the heat
Breath, soul, God, joy filling up emptiness
Choose breath. Choose Torah. Choose life.

Don’t search in caves; dark, dank and winding
Labyrinths of confusion where people get lost forever

Don’t search high hills needing weapons to conquer
For mountains of things to climb; possessions that hide real glory

Search for forests and orchards filled with fruit and flowers;
Trees planted for fruit for grandchildren’s children
Choose earth; choose Torah. Choose life.

Don’t search flames that devour all before them
Hatred and war and the ‘pure’ nothing of death

Don’t search coals of resentment, glowing dark
Waiting for a spark to wreak utter destruction and desolation

Search for sunlight stronger than wind in promoting acceptance
Lightning inspiration and the spark of love in the eyes of another
Choose love; choose Torah. Choose life.

Omer – Day 49

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheynu Melekh ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’zivanu al s’firat haOmer.

Blessed be the Eternal God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy through Mitzvot and has commanded us to count the Omer.

Hayom yom arbaim ve tesha laOmer, shehem shiva shavuot laOmer.

Today is day forty nine of the Omer, which is seven weeks of the Omer.

malkhut be malkhut: majesty within majesty; rule within rule; glory within glory

Oh goodness, we made it! I wrote a post for forty nine days – not always on the day, but I did! And if you’ve read them all, on the day or days later or even after Shavuot, you did it! Congratulate yourself. Also, say “I did it!” in the comments so I can celebrate with you.

Today, I am happy to be me. There are many things I don’t have that I want and there are many ways in which I was more like other people, but these are things that I can let go of today. The commandment not to envy is put last, where people put important stuff. It seems like such a small commandment compared to not hurting or telling the truth. So, today, I realise that being comfortable in myself lets me keep all the other commandments. I can focus on God without worrying about other people and worship God rather than things or people. I can appreciate what God gives me, which makes me way less likely to take God’s name in vain, or to resent my folks for what they gave me by way of things or abilities. If I’m cool with who I am and what I’ve got, I have no need to steal from other or hurt them, to lie to them or about them, to cheat them or cheat on them. If I’m not envying stuff then I’m more likely to feel good about resting on Shabbat. See – it’s all connected.

So, today, I can feel the majesty within majesty of being OK with me. Because it’s pretty majestic! I’m made in God’s image and I can do a ton of stuff and there are moments – however brief – when I do the right thing. For instance, I just – for one more year – counted the Omer with you. That’s glory in glory enough for anyone.

 

 

 

Omer – Day 48

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheynu Melekh ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’zivanu al s’firat haOmer.

Blessed be the Eternal God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy through Mitzvot and has commanded us to count the Omer.

Hayom yom arbaim ve shmone laOmer, shehem shisha shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.

Today is day forty eight of the Omer, which is six weeks and six days of the Omer.

yesod be malkhut: intimacy within majesty; relationship within dominion

More importantly, it’s Friday! Thank God it’s Friday! I am so tired today, that I legitimately put my lunch on the photo copier and stared at it waiting for it to heat up. It didn’t but the other teachers gave me some weird looks. There’s a day of rest coming up. Now, mind, I don’t take the day of rest to the extent some people do – occasionally I have to work on Saturdays. But still – Friday night is special and I tread it as such – no work, ever, and family time and singing and love and quiet and all the things that recharge and re-energise and set one up to do it all again.

God gave the Jewish people such a gift when we got the Sabbath. It’s like a wedding gift – many places in the bible there is talk about an intimate relationship between people and God. On Shabbat, that intimate relationship is felt and celebrated. When we talk about the Sabbath queen, we acknowledge the glory and majesty of Shabbat. When we pray “satisfy us with your goodness and bring us joy in your redemption and purify our hearts to serve you…”, we acknowledge the relationship. Shabbat is good.

Today, I sing in the joy that is Shabbat!

Omer – Day 47

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheynu Melekh ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’zivanu al s’firat haOmer.

Blessed be the Eternal God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy through Mitzvot and has commanded us to count the Omer.

Hayom yom arbaim ve sheva laOmer, shehem shisha shavuot ve hamisha yammim laOmer.

Today is day forty seven of the Omer, which is six weeks and five days of the Omer.

hod be malkhut – gratitude within majesty; praise within glory

At each new moon, there is the chance to sing the Hallel, psalms of praise to God, with lovely melodies and translations. Recently, a new month started, and it was once again an opportunity to use God’s name properly, in praise.  Since today is gratitude in majesty, it’s a good day to talk about thanking God.

I complain a lot. Personally, I think it’s one of my rights as a Jewish woman to occasionally be able to whine about how hard things are, especially to and about God. I see nothing wrong with that – I have a crazy life, I’m way too busy, I struggle with money, and Canada’s weather and road conditions…. Except that sometimes I forget. I forget how lucky I am, how much fun my job and my family are, how plentiful and tasty my meals are, how beautiful spring is (I haven’t travelled that much, but I’ve gone to a few other places and Canada remains tops for sheer gorgeous sights.), how good each day is.

So, I say “Darn it all, God…” and I forget that I’m supposed to say God’s name with respect and love. Then Hallel comes along and reminds me. When I praise God I remember – things are pretty wonderful and I am really lucky. Hallel grounds me in God, and acts as a connection between me and God.

When I name something, I make it more real. God created the whole world through naming – it’s powerful. When I say God’s name in praise, I make the good, beautiful, happy, loving world I want to live in more real. Today, I praise God’s majesty and manifest it through praise.

Omer – Day 46

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheynu Melekh ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’zivanu al s’firat haOmer.

Blessed be the Eternal God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy through Mitzvot and has commanded us to count the Omer.

Hayom yom arbaim ve shesh laOmer, shehem shisha shavuot ve arba’a yammim laOmer.

Today is day forty six of the Omer, which is six weeks and four days of the Omer.

netzakh be malkhut – victory within nobility; conquest within rule

It always comes back to the only victory being one over oneself and the only person I can rule being me. Sometimes the bad habits I have seem like they’re stronger than I am. For me, whether or not it’s noble, sometimes my victories are tiny. I didn’t waste time on that facebook article and answered an e-mail from a friend instead. I read the good book I was recommended instead of the cookie. I got off my chair to get a glass of water, and stayed away from the free doughnuts. These are my victories.

What happens when I don’t succeed? I have less time, less energy, less ability – less that I can give to the family and friends that I am responsible for. Really, when I indulge in wasteful behaviours, I’m stealing. I’m taking time and money, energy and resources away from what I should be doing, both for others and for myself. The ten commandments say not to steal. Today, I rededicate myself to being the best Anna I can be. When I succeed, that’s a noble victory.