"Don't tell God how big your storm is; tell your storm how big your God is."

I believe in God.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Questioning God

It is time to question God. Again.

Not God's existence: oh no. I know that God exists.

But seriously, God, this kind of pain?! I know that it will most likely last only a few weeks, but right now "a few weeks" feels like eons of eternity. I know I have to continue to treadmill, so I do, but then I find myself rationing my movements the rest of the day to make up for it, to the point of forgoing afternoon and sometimes evening prayers because I can't stand the thought of standing that long! (Pun intended ;) ) I don't understand why God would give me a condition that interferes with our relationship with each other, unless it is to push me to surpass this obstacle and deepen our relationship still more.

There is something to that last theory, actually. Perhaps suffering leads to growth, and from growth arise truth and beauty. If that is the case, I pray that this will go away at the right time, after my relationship with God has grown enough and before I go crazy! LOL

School is starting in five days!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ths is Awful.

I am truly in awful shape physically. My foot just fell asleep after sitting in a normal position for less than ten minutes. Except when I am on the treadmill, I find myself almost literally counting steps and rationing my walking.

As you can probably tell from this post, the pain is sapping my creativity as well. School starts in six days; I should be excited and sharing that excitement with the world. Instead, all I can find to write about is pain.

Somehow this doesn't seem fair.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Bad Place

Currently, I am in a Very Bad Place physically. I just started going to the gym consistently again last week, and that always makes me worse before it makes me better. I am experiencing long waves of intense, sometimes roaring pain followed by waves of intense, crippling exhaustion. On a good day, I am functioning on roughly seventy percent of my normal energy.

Every time I start up going to the gym again (Yes, yes I know I should just go consistently and never stop and then this wouldn't happen!) I get worse and worse for about three weeks before I start to feel better. School will start during the second week of this process. I am very excited to start classes again, but cannot quite imagine actually walking around, functioning without a daily nap, in essence living like a normal, healthy college student.

Right now, I am playing Steven Curtis Chapman music for inspiration and comfort. I will just put one foot in front of the other and take things one day at a time.

Your prayers would be appreciated.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Upcoming School Year

With the school year fast approaching (I start September 4th), blogging may come to a standstill for a while.(It also may not, depending on how much work I have; we'll have to see.) This semester I am taking Life of Primates, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology, and Topics in Rabbinic Literature. I am very excited about all four classes.

I also have my work-study job hours set. (Work-study jobs are subsidized by the government and one can earn up to one thousand dollars a term to go towards tuition etc.) I will be working on Mondays and Wednesdays for two hours each, and Thursdays for three and a half hours. I am going back to the same job I had last year: a library person who organizes books and works at the circulation desk. It's honestly a rather boring job, and it is really painful due to the RND, but it's a job and that's what matters.

I must say, between the classes and the work, I feel very grown-up and mature.

Happy school year everyone!

Monday, August 20, 2012

To be totally honest....

...my religious life kind of goes to pieces when I'm home on vacation etc. The little habits such as food blessings stick, but the bigger things, such as praying every day, fall by the wayside. Usually I faithfully keep my routine for about five days at the most, and then...not so much.

I am sorry to say that I did not ritually pray even once most days these past two weeks. I am sorry to say that I forgot "Erin," "Emily," and others who might need me. I am sorry, but I did forget.

Why? Because I was enjoying the lack of routine, structure, and restriction. I was enjoying the freedom to do what I felt like doing, when I felt like doing it; and, as I have mentioned on this blog before, I do not always feel like praying when it is time.

Now that I am back "home" (I suppose my parents' house is no longer home now that I have my "own" apartment), I am back in the routine. Bam--I have slammed myself back into it.

I would like to say that I will do better next time I'm home, but in reality, I know I probably won't. I will always crave that lack of ruling routine that led me to stop praying this time. I will most likely follow the same route again.

Oh by the way? We are now in the Hebrew month of Elul, the month leading up to the High Holidays, the season when I allow myself to listen to recordings of u'n'taneh tokef. More details to come, I am sure, especially if you ask for them! ;)

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Teacher and a Friend

Remember the saying I posted last night? "Make for yourself a teacher and acquire for yourself a friend"? I just realized something: those two could be the same person!

Over the years, various friend have taught me or assisted me with:

  • How to "play pretend"
  • How to stand on my own two feet and rely on myself
  • How to try new things
  • How to love and trust others
And more!

If the Rav (teacher) and the Chaver (friend) are the same person, then we must be willing to learn from everyone around us. Older or younger, anyone might have more experience and/or knowledge in a situation than we do, and we must be receptive to that. At the same time as we are learning from this person, however, we should also try to genuinely enjoy his/her company such that she/he might become a real friend.

Now if only I could apply these ideas to my tumultuous (to say the least) relationship with my younger brother...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dan l'Kaf Zichut

There is a quote in Hebrew, "Aseh l'cha Rav, u'kneh l'cha chaver, v'hevi dan et kol ha'adam l'kaf zichut." This means, "Find yourself a teacher, and acquire for yourself a friend, and judge all according to merit."

I am currently reading a book called The Other Side of the Story that deals with the concept of dan l'kaf zichut. The book gives many examples of cases where people misjudged others, and reminds us of the Jewish laws regarding treatment of others, even our enemies.

There is one idea in the book, however, that stood out to me above all else: We should be willing to use the same excuses for others that we would use for ourselves! What a novel idea!

It isn't really a novel idea, of course--I said that tongue-in-cheek--because the idea of v'ahavta l'reiacha kamocha (Love your neighbor as yourself) is as old as the Torah, perhaps older. But to many, applying these principles to daily life and using them regularly is, in fact, a novel idea.

The Other Side of the Story was written by Yehudis Shamet for a Jewish audience, but the principles and ideas found within are relevant to everyone, everywhere. If you can get past the Hebrew and/or Yiddish terms (usually translated or made clear in context), this can be an excellent read.

Whether you read the book or not, I challenge you to be kinder to others, even in your head.

Now I am off to pray afternoon prayers.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

To Wear or Not to Wear?

I have been debating for several days now the idea of going back to wearing a tallit katan, also known as arba kanfot. The tallit katan is a four-cornered garment with holy fringes tied on each corner. Even more than the kippah, it is worn only by traditional (usually Orthodox) Jewish men.

The stares I get because of my kippah pale in comparison to the stares I got, and would get, because of my arba kanfot, yet I want to wear them in order to feel closer to God.

There is also the issue of tallit gadol (my "big tallis", the kind I made once and wear each day when praying). I am not sure whether one needs a tallit gadol if one is wearing a tallit katan, and I don't want to give up wearing my tallit gadol.

So what to do? Opinions please?

Book Review: The Bamboo Cradle

Allow me to start off by saying that The Bamboo Cradle did not turn out to be the book I expected it to be, and I was disappointed by that. It focused less on the actual adoption of the daughter (which is why I bought the book in the first place), and more on the transformation of the parents from secular Jews to Orthodox Jews.

Another problem for me was that some of the ideas of Orthodox Jews, and especially Ba'alei Teshuvah (those who "repent" and become religious), quite frankly offend me. I cannot recall any specific examples now, but I know that I was bothered in several places. One other thing that bothered me was the fact that the girl's parents did not seem to try hard enough to honor and help her connect with her Chinese roots.

That being said...

It was so nice, so nice, SO nice to read something by a fervent, passionate Jew. Interfaith dialogue is great and I love it, but there is nothing like "meeting" passionate members of one's own faith. I really needed that.

Throughout the book, I found many inspirational quotes. I will provide some of them below.

"Every mitzvah we perform takes place only because we are first granted a gift by Hashem."

"While the ability to speak properly and render admirably written characters is the sign of a cultured Chinese, the ability to use language to extol God's virtues and acknowledge our indebtedness to Him is one of the signs of a good Jew."

"I eventually realized that although there was a final destination in the form of a conclusion and in some cases a point of law or halachah, what mattered more was the journey itself and not the destination....The jewels were meant to be gathered along the way."

"The moment they were touched by a spark of Torah, they literally burst into flame."

"Secular studies were a window into heaven and an entranceway to Torah."

"Now, ensconced in this quiet capsule of time, I understood what our Sages intended when they taught: 'Wealthy is he who is happy with his lot.'"



I find the book to be a nice, wholesome story that would be encouraging to Jews attempting to grow in their faith and religious practice. Although I wish that it had focused more on the adoption process, I realize that that was not the point of the story. As a non-Orthodox Jew myself, I was somewhat uncomfortable with some of the attitudes and events in the story, but that is my problem.

Would I read the book again? Yes, probably, although not for a while. It is, after all, a good Jewish story.

Interfaith Dialogue

Yesterday I met up with the young woman I mentioned who said she wanted to learn more about Judaism. (I'll call her "Michelle".) I must admit, I was a little bit suspicious and on guard in case she wanted to convert me to Christianity, but that wasn't the way our conversation went at all! We got to know each others' backgrounds, religious and otherwise, a little bit; and then we dove right into talking religion.

The bulk of the conversation really did turn out to be sharing ideas and discussing the similarities and differences between our two religions. The second biggest part of the conversation was me teaching "Michelle" about Judaism. She expressed interest in seeing Jewish worship, and I invited her to come to Hillel with me sometime when school is in session.

For me, this interaction was an answer to daydreams and wishes I have held since coming to college. I have waited and waited to find someone of a different faith who is as passionate about theirs as I am about mine. I love, love, LOVE talking religion and observing others in their daily religious lives.


Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
I am a bipolar, Jewish young adult (had my Hebrew birthday, the one I count, and turned 23 this past January) who also suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. I love life and I live for my best friends: they are my purpose and my reason for trying so hard. I remain passionately devoted to those I love; I will not let my disorders make me totally self-centered. I like to read, write, and sew. My Rabbinical school plans did not work out, and I am now hoping to go into the field of Early Childhood Education. Please note: I am currently maintaining only Carried in His Hands. Enjoy!