Published: Mon, 01 Jan 0001 12:00:00 EST
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Thu, 17 Nov 2016 12:00:00 ESTDear Readers, I remember the moments after my first child was born. As I cuddled my daughter in my arms, so close to me, I was overcome with parental protectiveness. I remember thinking that I would always hold her so close, secure in the warmth of my embrace, safeguarded from the trials of life. I would forever shield her innocence and spare her from the coldness and negativity of this world. I had the same thought with the subsequent birth of each of my children. Fierce, maternal emotions that I never knew I had were born as I held the innocent, helpless new life. But, of course, try as we do, and as much as we would like, these thoughts are wishful thinking. Our children grow up and encounter the challenges of this world. As painful as it sometimes is to let them go, only in confronting the “real world” do they develop their own individuality and grow to become their greatest selves. This week’s parshah begins with the word Vayeitz
Mon, 14 Nov 2016 12:00:00 ESTDear Readers, Twenty years is a long time. That’s how long Rebecca and Isaac remained childless. According to the Midrash, Rebecca was physically unable to bear children. It would take a literal miracle to do so. This is why Isaac and Rebecca pleaded to G‑d so often and with such great intensity. Isaac would stand in one corner praying, and Rebecca would stand in the other, not giving up until finally, their prayers were answered. Soon after they were blessed with children, Isaac and his family relocate to Gerar, where he farms the land and digs wells. He reopens the wells of Abraham and digs his own. He gives the wells names and struggles to retain control over them. Praying and well-digging have much in common. For both, one needs the qualities that Isaac epitomized: restraint, discipline, faith and introspectiveness. The word used to describe Isaac’s intense pleading with G‑d is vayeatar. The Talmud (Yevamot 64a) asso
Thu, 03 Nov 2016 12:00:00 ESTDear Readers, I love flowers, especially roses. So, soon after we moved into our new home, we planted a rosebush in our front garden. The bush has since grown and now produces beautiful, fragrant red roses every season. Just be careful if you want to pick them, though! Their thorns, or technically “prickles,” can be nasty. Scientists provide different reasons for why roses need those prickles. Some speculate that the thorns on roses protect them from being eaten by animals attracted to the perfumed smell in the oils of the petals. Also, the typically sickle-shaped, hook-like prickles aid the rose in hanging onto other vegetation as the rose bush grows. Some species of roses, especially ones that grow on coastal sand dunes, have densely packed straight prickles. These trap wind-blown sand and protect the bush’s roots by reducing erosion. Whatever the reason, the prickles clearly help the rose bush flourish. In this week’s Torah p
Tue, 01 Nov 2016 12:00:00 ESTDear Readers, One of the things that I love about Judaism is its occasional irreverence. Bear with me as we review an intriguing episode recorded in this week’s Torah portion. The third day after Abraham’s circumcision, G‑d visits him to alleviate his pain. The weather is particularly hot, to prevent traveling wayfarers from disturbing Abraham. But the hospitable, gregarious Abraham sits at the opening of his tent distressed by a lack of visitors, and so G‑d sends him three angels disguised as humans. Abraham runs to serve his visitors. Abraham says to G‑d: “My L‑rd! If now I have found favor in your eyes, pass not away, I beg you, from your servant.” (Gen. 18:4) Rashi provides two explanations for this verse: 1) Abraham is addressing the most prominent of his guests, asking him and the others not to pass by his tent without availing themselves of his hospitality; and 2) Abraham is addressing G‑d, asking Him to stand by wh
Thu, 13 Oct 2016 12:00:00 ESTWhen you’re feeling distraught, what do you do to calm yourself? Do you try a new experience or do you revert to what is familiar to you?
Thu, 06 Oct 2016 12:00:00 ESTA new study found that while acetaminophen dulls your own pain, it also dulls your empathy to the trials and tribulations of others.
Thu, 06 Oct 2016 12:00:00 ESTDear Readers, It was my granddaughter’s first day of playgroup. My daughter had prepared her well. They had packed her knapsack, including some of my granddaughter’s favorite comfort toys. Yesterday, I listened as my daughter described how difficult this was for her. She was filled with uncertainty. Should she wait another year to enroll her, or would that just create more separation anxiety? I was about to console her. To tell her that although right now she is consumed with sadness and doubt, these strong emotions will pass. One day, when her all-grown-up baby eagerly waves goodbye as she runs off to play with her friends, she will vaguely remember the emotions of this day and laugh at how far away it seems. I wanted to say that, but I didn’t. I didn’t because I remembered my own mother listening to me as I told her about my own inner turmoil as I sent off each of my children—first to playgroup, then to overnight camp, yeshivah or
Tue, 20 Sep 2016 12:00:00 ESTDear Readers, Climbing steep steps and hiking over bridges, we couldn’t get enough of the scene: stunning waterfalls nestled deep in the wooded mountains. Streams of crystal-clear water majestically dropped over huge cliffs and pooled into creeks surrounded by trees, wildflower and boulders. At the very end of the summer, my husband and I took our children to a family get-away in the Pocono Mountains and discovered the gorgeous Bushkill Falls. Utterly captivated, we spent hours hiking, climbing, wading in the water and snapping a million pictures. What is it about a waterfall that is so enchanting? After all, it’s just water doing what it naturally does, flowing from a higher place down to a lower one. And yet, each of those eight fabulous waterfalls nestled in the mountains took our breath away. But perhaps something deep in our subconscious stirs as we watch those enthralling falls and are reminded about our own origins. Just as t
Wed, 14 Sep 2016 12:00:00 ESTAs we watch the sun start to set, rather than the stirrings of our soul, we hear the strong grumblings of our stomach . . .
Fri, 09 Sep 2016 12:00:00 ESTDear Readers, Ever notice that some people bring out the best in you? You are more kind, caring and patient in their presence, and it’s even reflected in your conversations. Then there are others who bring out the worst in us. In their presence, our words reveal anger, restlessness and other unfavorable traits. When we interact with a child, we reach deep inside of ourselves to rediscover our own inner child, and our words are full of wonder and spontaneity. When interacting with an intellectual, we express our more cerebral side—our questioning, even cynicism. In shared intimate moments with our spouse, our words reflect softer sentimentality, warmth and love. In every situation, our words become tailored to the individuals with whom we are conversing; it reflects our relationship with them. On Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate our connection to G‑d. We coronate G‑d as our King and ask Him to renew His relationship with us. We depend