Thursday, September 8, 2016

ELUL...The KING is in the Field

It's been a looong time since I have had the chance to sit down at my computer.  I have missed our chaburah and all of our learning and really can't believe it is Elul already!

Below is a shiur given by Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi about how we can start to feel again.  So much is happening all around us, that it is easy to be so busy we forget to pause, tap into the power of this month (Hashem is in the field with us), and FEEL anything at all (besides stress:).

Here are a few things that we can do to continue our unity until our next chaburah.

1. Join together to complete sefer Tehillim daily until Yom Kippur (click on the link to join us)
2. Shira (our awesome administrator) is reading and recording a few paragraphs of Me'am Loez on Tehillim daily - 5 minutes a day- downloadable on whats app.
3. Find a chavrusa to create an Elul Plan together

ShoftimYom Chamishi, Elul 5, 5776 (September 8, 2016) #13
Feeling Your Baggage, Feeling Hers
I went to Uman this week, and I wasn’t alone. Men and women from all over came there to... well, to come back – because all the t’fillot travel to Eretz Yisrael anyway, to Yerushalayim and the Kotel. So what’s the whole journey for? For coming back from? Yes. To return – in t’shuva. Teshuva for what? For feeling.

We seek to feel in so many ways. I see all of Israel trying to feel at this time of year, the month of Elul, because we’re people who don’t feel anything anymore. Elul commands us: start feeling, pronto. באלול, ,In the old world of yeshivot they’d say
In Elul, the very fish in the אפילו דגים בים רועדים! sea tremble!” And you, you’ve already heard that message so many times it does nothing for you.

The exile of feeling. 

Whereas in the notsodistant past we’d express things facetoface and in letters, today our devices express things for us. You’re sad – sad emoticon. You’re happy – a smiley. Shocked smiley. Winking smiley. The emoji's happy in your stead, while you yourself have almost total equanimity. 

Girls come to me all tense: “Rabbanit, I couldn’t do it. I got all the way to the tzaddik’s tomb marker and couldn’t bring myself to cry, to laugh.” What’s happened to us?

You can’t blame this generation. The poet Zelda once went through an emotional trauma and
wrote, “Because for me, from excess of pain, my palaces are closed off.” We’re so afraid of pain because we’re sensitive, feeling women, and that our feelings will batter us, so we simply lock up the Feelings Department. Now we merely function. And that’s forbidden.

All of the Rambam’s thought is intellectual (I say if the Rambam weren’t Sepharadi, he’d be Ashkenazi ), which is why the following sentence of his is so
אף על פי שתקיעת שופר :uncharacteristic. He writes גזירת הכתוב, מכל מקום רמז יש בה: עורו ישנים משנתכם Even though the – ונרדמים, הקיצו מתרדמתכם shofarblowing is simply a decree of the Text, it nevertheless contains an allusion: awake, you sleepers, from your sleep, and slumberers, be roused from your slumber.1 In other words, it’s true that we blow the shofar “because it’s written,” but beyond that you have to feel. 

Get up, wake up, feel something.
What should we be afraid of? What’s to get so worked up about? From the fact that, oh my gosh, soon there will be three books opened. The inbetweeners remain in limbo until their sentence is sealed; the tzaddikim are inscribed and sealed immediately for life; while the wicked are inscribed and sealed immediately for death.

1 Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, Mishne Torah, Book of Knowledge, Laws of T’shuva 3:4.

Wait a minute. We see with our own eyes that’s not the case. The most amazing, elevated tzaddikim are clearly inscribed for notliving, and all kinds of horribly wicked people are obviously written in the book of Live It Up – how can that be?

Rabbi Papo says something amazing: “Life” – that means feeling. Being sealed in the Book of the Dead means having your fate sealed in the Book of the Unfeeling: “Elul? OK, Elul. Whatever. Shofar? Cool. Fish in the sea – yeah, I’ve seen ‘em.” That is death.2

In Ukraine I see the Soviet diligence, the industriousness of the Communist regime. Ukrainians function very well, they’re so assiduous... but they have no expressiveness on their faces. You can’t see even the tiniest emotion. The Ukrainian women are super diligent. Serving, clearing, laundering, drying, but not a spark of light in their faces. Nothing.

So what can you do to feel? Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev taught us the tremendous secret: you’re so in control, so focused on what you have to do, that when you look at yourself, you can’t feel a thing. You don’t even believe anymore that you can do t’shuva, to change anything. So what should you do? Parashat Shoftim tells us: be people of greatness. Look around you with a gaze of greatness, and know that with your gaze you judge people.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev would take a crying mother and turn her into t’fillah: “Ribbono Shel Olam, look at Your little girl!”3

Judgesand ֹשְׁפִטיםְוֹשְׁטִריםִתֶּתּןְל􏰀ְבָּכלְשָׁעֶרי􏰀. enforcers you shall appoint in all your gates.4 You
2 Cf. Rabbi Eliezer Papo, Pele Yo’etz.
3 Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, Kedushat Levi on Shoftim.
are the judge. Every Jew who crosses your path, you can judge for good or not as good. Feel her! Give her a good judgment!

Just look around.

How is the spigot of mercy opened over us? 

Hashem showed Moshe Rabbeinu how to access נתעטף הקב"ה .His thirteen Attributes of Mercy Hashem wrapped himself like an – כשליח ציבור emissary of the community [colloquially: like a לפניי chazzan] and said to Moshe: “If you perform before me the following order, I will כסדר הזה hear your t’fillah.”5

What order?

Are you in pain? Change the order. Wrap yourself up like an emissary of the community and request mercy for somebody else you see in pain. You’ve already forgotten how to feel for yourself; you’ve forgotten how to fear your own Day of Judgment. So instead of digging into yourself, start davening for the Jews around you that Hashem keeps showing us.

Every time I feel that sense of powerlessness, when I want to help someone, but feel it’s beyond me, I simply can’t, I discover that’s just not true. We have a yeshiva, my husband and I. Avnei Kodesh. It’s a yeshiva for all sorts of boys who were kicked out, or dropped out, of all kinds of yeshivot. A week ago we got a new student. “Rabbanit, do you remember me?”
“Not really...”
“A few years ago you were in Uman, and no one could find you a place to stay. I dragged your luggage and showed you some apartments. 

The first one you didn’t like, the second wasn’t good enough... you remember?”

I suddenly recalled a fifteenyearold Israeli boy who basically lived in Uman, whom I asked: “What are you doing here?” 

And he answered: “They kicked me out of all the yeshivot.” 

I remember how I sat in some stairwell in Uman and cried: “What’ is this, Ribbono Shel Olam? Is there no school for him? No new beginning? He won’t start the learning session with everyone else?”

Last week I found myself dragging his luggage looking for a room where he could live.

It’s incredible. Every Jew you see, you can feel for. Even if you can’t feel for yourself anymore, feel for him. Wrap yourself up like an emissary of the community and transform him into a tremendous t’fillah. It works. It works to open up your Department of Feelings and the Gates of Mercy.
May it be Hashem’s will that we see ourselves as emissaries, on a mission, to daven for others, to judge people favorably, for a blessed, illuminated year. Maybe that way we can start to feel.
Translated by Rav David Swidler 

What should we do with painful emotions that we would rather not look at? That is what we are going to discuss in next chaburah- to make the sefer we finished "Getting to Know Your Feeling" an acquisition in our hearts. IYH.

Can't wait,,, Love Aviva Rus

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