Friday, 25 March 2011

Why We Celebrate Purim

Boker Tov
(Good Morning)
We have been a little busy the past week with preparing for Purim. And now that Purim is gone for another year, we are still recovering from the joy of the holy day and preparing for the next, Passover. But I still like to look back...

 When Darius decreed that the Jews could return back to their homeland, Israel, not every Jew family went. They were happy just where they were in. In fact, Jews lived in all one and twenty-seven provinces of King Ahasuerus.
 In the days of old, in Persia, our forefathers became to assimilate into the Persian culture. To the point that many Jews gave off living as Jews and could blend in nicely with their Persian neighours; working, marrying and table fellowship. This led to compromise for our people.
King Ahauerus was a man known to be ruled by his emotions, his passions.
Not a good thing for a leader.
Most know the story :King Ahasuerus, often identified as King Xerxes, held a one hundred eighty-day feast to exemplify his opulence of his finest capital, Shushan.
 Scripture reference in Esther 1:6-7 speaks highly of the feast, mentioning the "marble pillars, and also couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and precious stone, etc"
 All one hundred twenty seven provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia gathered to acknowledge the King.
 Drunk with wine and his own self-importance, the King ordered Queen Vashti to before him and his guest. Wearing nothing but the royal jewels expose herself.
This is the part you never hear in Sunday School.
Vashti is a woman of integrity and  refuses her husband’s demand to display her  beauty before the King’s drunken subordinates.  Concubines and whores appear before drunken feasts, not Queens. 
 Vashti refused the humiliating order, knowing that she was risking death. Sadly, Vashti is often painted as a bad example to g-dly women for disobeying her husband's command. Really?
First, we have no record of Vashti of being a G-d fearer and two no loving husband, g-d fearing or notm would expose his wife in such a matter. No man who and honours his wife would demand she show only that which he is to enjoy, now would he???
However, Ahasuerus isn't that sort of husband.
 Infuriated, the King instead listens to the advise of several hen pecked husbands to have Vashti  banished from his presence, making her an example to other wives so that they would not make the same decision and disobey their husbands. In all one hundred and twenty-seven provence.
Imagine President Obama getting mad at Mrs. Obama, kicks her out of the house and then writes into law all wives HAVE to obey their husbands.
 Several days later, King Ahasuerus comes to his senses and "remembered Vashti" the wife  he went away, the woman he loved. So before the King Ahasuerus his mind (again) the nobles suggest search for beautiful women to take the place of Queen Vashti.
He agreed.
So the search was on. The King sought beautiful young virgins, among who at this time was a girl about fourteen years old. The King's search for a new queen would open the window to fulfill God's will for Esther and the Jewish people.

Unlike the movie One Night With the King and other movies, the girls, including Esther were not kidnapped, but brought to the Palace willingly. It was Uncle Mordecai's idea and Hadassah (Esther)
For twelve months the young, hopeful girls were being prepared in the harem with beauty treatments of oils, perfumes, massages, and hairstyles to enrich their attractiveness. Everything about these girls changed; right down to their scent. This wasn't just a year long beauty treatment; think Total Make-Over.
 The girls were also made "chamber ready". Which means, knowing what pleases the King in the chamber. If you notice, these young ladies never return home. Read the scripture carefully. If the young lady wasn't chosen as queen, she was taken to the harem, becoming part of the concubine. She would not go into the King again unless she delighted him and he called for her by name. (Makes you rethink a few worship songs, doesn't it?)
Esther, who was lovely inside and out, found favor with all who knew her. Those appointed to care for her wanted her to be queen.
So ddid G-d. For He alone knew what laid ahead.
 The long awaited evening came when Esther had her opportunity to display her presence to the King. In awe, the King "loved Esther above all the other virgins and she found grace and favor in sight of Esther, declaring her his queen. To celebrate his marriage, "He granted a remission of taxes…and gave gifts with royal liberality." (Esther 2:18)
Now, Uncle Mordecai also told Esther not to reveal who she was, a Hebrew, a Jew. To protect Esther in the harem, and to prevent discrimination and hostility toward her, Mordecai ordered Esther to hide her Jewishness. She obeyed, as she always did.
Things are find for a while. Mordecia is happy, the King is happy and Esther appears to be happy as well.
But then here comes Haman and because Mordecia will not pay the dude homage (show him respect) Haman not only wishes to kill Mordecia, but all the Jews in the Kingdom. He went to the King and telling him of the disloyality of the Jews, suggested that every jewish man, woman and child be put to death.
So with a roll of Hman's dice, the Hit was ordered and soon young queen Esther, who was six-teen and twenty years old, found herself in the fight of her life, pleading for the lives of her people.
Like Vashti, Esther disobeys the King: unlike Vashti, Esther's life is spared. The King, having lost one queen he loved, did not wish to lose his Esther and welcomed her.
Her life and the Jews lives are spared and the death meant for Mordecia, was Haman's.
Since the decree could not be undone, the King decreed that the Jews had the right to defend themselves on the day slated for their deaths.
 Esther 8:17: "and many of the people  became Jews that day because of the fear of the Jews." Not only did Haman fail to rid the earth of jews, but more were added to our numbers.
So we celebrated, remembering this day, for if it hadn't been for G-d working through a teenage queen, there would be no jews, no bible and no little Baby born in Bethlehem.
So I raise my glass in celebration.
But I don't get drunk :)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

They Say I'm A Dreamer.

It isn't easy to utter the words Shalom these days, since there is so little. But as the Prime Minister said when he visited the family of a young jewish couple and their children: they kill-we build."
G-d is always speaking; the question really is; are we listening.
I am not going to jump onto the band wagon and speak of how what is happening in Japan is G-d's judgement for their sins. Then we need to take tha pointing finger and turn it on our nation, on our state, on our city, on our home, on us.
Nor will I join the choir in the "the left ring nuts" driving the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. Or the "right wing nuts" looking to serve Mr.Obama's head on a platter.
Though I would wish he would put his golf club down once and a while and do his job instead of whining folks are picking on him.
But that's another topic.
The true problem is, with everything we are seeing unfolding in our world, instead of praying, fasting, donating money and seeing what needs we can meet, we are pointing fingers, blame and even crying the world is coming to an end.
It isn't.
Mark and I have given to the relief fund for Japan. We also went to shopping and donated the food to a Food Bank.
And we pray.
We pray for our President not only for wisdom, but to finally stand and the lead so many thought he was when they voted him into office.
G-d is in control; but He still holds us accountable for the job He has given us to do.
We pray for our world and look for practical ways to make a difference.
As one who lives a Torah life, I know whatever He is doing and/or allowing, He is speaking, trying to get each of our attention.
Maybe it is a vain wish, but maybe, just maybe it is time to put down the protest signs, the rocks and the golf club, take hands and seek G-d's face. and in the doing so, maybe this will be the start of the Shalom each of us seek.
Yes, I know I'm a dreamer.
I chose to dream on

Sunday, 13 March 2011

To Live As Jews

To Live As Jews
The above is sadly the world we live in. Wars, earthquakes and the killing of a young rabbi and his family on shabbat.
This is an example of we cannot live in peace with those who by killing us, gain 70 paradise and 70 virgins.
No harden, just mourning the deaths of a young family who's only crime was being jewish. 
We as believers in the Holy One know where the souls of the rightious go.
And we know where the souls of murders go.
Tonight Mark and I will join the commuinty as we say the mourer's kaddish for this family. And we as a communty will go on, living lives worthy of those who have been taken from us.
Our response to this terrorist tragedy must be activism, not despair

Activism. We do not stop praying, we do not studying Torah or teaching our children the holy tongue. We do not allow the evil to slatter our dreams
I just read this a few hours ago..."Ain davar omed bifnei ha'ratzon" -"Nothing stands in the way of resolve." If we care deeply enough, if we feel it in our bones, then we won't take this sitting down. We will begin by educating ourselves, and then we will move on to the rest of the world.
As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of Esther, I cannot help but think there are still Hamans in the world, waiting to kill every jewish man, woman and child.
Wanting to kill me and my husband for the crime of being jewish.
Funny things, those who try to kill have yet to learn from history.
The G-d of our fathers always arises to protect, fight and revenge His people.
And in the shadows of His Wings we His children rest.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

And Then There Was the Laptop

It is said that life is adventure.
I know my is.
Take my laptop.
But, no Starbucks coffee involved (for those new to this blog, I knocked over cup of starbucks coffee all over my laptop.)
This time, while I was working on a project, it just blue screen and died.
What was interesting was when we took the laptop to Best Buy, it died on the tech as well.
So my big blue baby was send off for repairs.
First it was a bad mother board. Replaced. When the laptop came in, it was found to need a new hard drive.
Ok. New hard drive.
While the new hard drive was being added, we learned there wasn't enough memory. More memory.
By now my head is hurting.
So after one month, baby was home.
For one day.
We take her back and the Tech looks up at me and says, "Oh no."
The laptop came on and went right back off.
She wouldn't turn on for the Tech. So back compture hospital baby went.
To Best Buy's credit, they didn't charge me.
Baby was gone another three weeks.
So we recived the call that the laptop was back. And we went to pick her up.
The mother board that was to replace the bad one, was another bad.
So we took her home and within an one we were back at Best Buy. I went to turn it on and found I kept getting a warning about my battery being low.
I wasn't using my battery.
Off we go again.
The battery was dead, but for some reason the cord wasn't connecting to the outlet.
This fixed, home we went again. I kept telling Mark there was somethings still wrong with the laptop.
Within an hour, Mark got blue screen and he alone went back to Best Buy.
It was a software issus. Mark contacted Windows 7 for the recovery disc and Best Buy fixed the problem.
So here I sit, typing on my blue beauty, who is running like a charm.
And have I learned from all of this?
Learn how to fix my own darn computer!

Monday, 7 March 2011

The New Do

The story I am about to share is little a month old.
Unless you follow us on facebook.
I started a new medication to kickstart my thryoid once again. Like all medications there are side affects and I expected a few.
But what I didn't expect was the lost of most of my hair.
Monday I started the medication. By friday, I noticed hair, my hair on the floor of the shower. By Saturday night, my hair had drawn up and looked like dread locks. Sunday afternoon, the dread locks began to break off.
In order to even get a comb into my hair, I had to cut the knots. Finally, I asked Mark bad did it look.
At first all he said was: "I will take you to a hair dresser."
Finally, he admitted it was my head looked pretty bad.
The next morning, one week after I started taking the medication, I found my hair covering my pillow. All I could do is cry.
Mark just held me, stroking what was left of my hair. We both thought it was just going to be shaved off and I would have to get a Tina Turner wig.
"I am so sorry, Laini. I hate the way your hair was taken from you."
Soon he was on the phone, calling around and found a place take would take me right away.

So a few hours later, I was sitting in a hairdresser's chair, being told that it wasn't as back as I thought. She gave me a backwards A-line cut (see the above pictures), able to save most of the hair in the front. And told she I needed to get off that medication.
I felt so much better and my beloved even told me that the new hair do was on him.
While it was (and still is) difficult to adjust from haivng hair that went down my back to right at my ears, I am thankful I don't have to wear a wig and blessed to have a husband that understands that woman's hair is her glory, part of what G-d gave her that makes her a woman.
Mark calls my new look sassy. But we both want it to grow back quickly.

Answer to a Question

Boker Tov:
From time to time, Mark and I are asked the question;why do you leave the O out of G-d and L-rd? I recieved this question just a few days ago and I hope the following answers the question.
The reason why many Jews leave out the O S has its origin in the third commandment, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain" (Exo. 20:7).
Centuries later became so cautious not to break this commandment that they quit pronouncing the name of God altogether, for fear that they might say it in vain. This is why we are not sure exactly what the vowels were for the divine name of God in the Tanank (YHWH), known today as the tetragrammaton. "Yahweh" is the closest approximation we have.  There is no J in Hebrew. When a Jew would come across this name when reading the Tanank instead of saying God's name, he/she would say "Adonai," which means "Lord" or "Master." They would also use other words in place of the name of God, or even the title, "God." Even the scribes of old (and some still do)  would even write the name of God, he would first wash himself and then he would use a new pen. This is all done out of respect for the name of God and for fear of breaking the third commandment. What you see today with this hesitation even to write the title "God" is simply an outgrowth of  Jewish piety and respect for the Name of G-d. It is a tradition to avoid writing the Holy One's Name to in a casual on any medium that may be destroyed.

When we say, "Do not take the Name of the L-rd your G-d in vain," this means to "wear His Name." If we claim to follow the Holy One, how do we wear His Name?
Does this mean wearing  the word G-D on a tee-shirt or a patch on one's jeans?
When we say do not take His Name in vain, it includes what we do wear as clothing, how we treat others, how we speak to others, what we allow to come into our homes by radio and tv. It is what we read and speak about. We call this kosher; that which is fit and proper.
Muslims have similar casual traditions – they write (pbuh) which means “Peace be unto him”; and Christians capitalize Him/His as well as G-d, L-rd and the Bible.

Thanks for asking LYN.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Women's History Month

To my Beloved:

Hello everyone, I want to give you my thoughts on women’s history month by writing about the most wonderful woman in my life: my wife – my Beloved. She is the best thing that ever happened to me. I truly do not know what I would do if she was not in it.

This is one of my favorite scenes from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and it says everything I want to convey about the importance of my Beloved. My wife is a model Jewish woman -- She is the bedrock of this house. Yes, I am the head of the family, but she is the master of this home. She makes sure that everything is just right. She is a nurturer.

I would love to hear your thoughts. 


According to Thy Will: Debbie Prost

Blessed are Thy L-rd Our G-d, Who has nade me according to Thy Will.

Boker Tov;
Every morning, with my morning prayers, I thank G-d who made a woman. And I truly enjoy being one. To me, being a woman is, well, the best thing to be.
This month is Woman History Month. Like Black History Month, we remember and celebrate those remarkable people who have a difference in our lives, in our world.
I start out with one of my closest friends, Debbie Prost.
Blind since she was an infant, Debbie didn't allow her lack of sight from stopping her from getting an education, getting married or have a career as a public school teacher.
And makes the best Passover chocolate cakes I know.
Debbie would the first person to tell you, she isn't handicapped, she's blind. It isn't a disease, just a different way of "seeing" the world. Fearless, with a wonderful laugh, if I can only get her to realize to how wonderful and fulfilling a bagel with melting cheese on top goes with a cup of Starbucks coffee.
Debbie does't like cheese.