This amazing lesson from the weekly Torah portion explains why Jews are called Jews. He filmed it on Wednesday saying it is never too early to bring forth Shabbat, but I like the inspiration to flow into Shabbat, so I am sharing it today. In Russian the translation of Jews is Hebrews, and I am sure in different languages, we are called all kinds of variations. I love to learn the background, history, roots, of everyone and everything, I find it fascinating. My family are first generation immigrants, we came from persecution and discrimination in the former Soviet Union, and when I was little I saw Christmas all around me in America and did not understand it. The funny thing is that in communist Russia there was no religion, so they turned the Christmas tree into a holiday tree and Santa Claus into Grandpa Freeze and did it on New Years Eve, which is still the biggest holiday celebrated in Russia today, and many Russian Jews want a tree because they remember their New Year tree. I was so happy to start fresh in our new home in the United States of American, where we could choose our own way to celebrate or not celebrate. I never wanted any tree that symbolized the Soviet Union, especially since in America it symbolized Christmas which is a holiday I respect but do not celebrate. I have a wonderful friend who had the most warm Christmas in her home, I would visit her family, they would always have a gift for me or anybody else that stopped by, it was beautiful, all about family, love, food, and getting together.
I just came from a Winter Performance at my children’s diverse public school where my boy proudly wears his keepa, or yarmulke, every day. Every class sang some Chanukah songs and some Christmas songs, just having fun, honoring each other. I especially loved how when they started playing a festive Chanukah song, everybody in the audience started clapping along, so cool I get to be full on Jewish and appreciate my fellow parents enjoying celebrating their holidays, while getting to know Jewish culture and traditions.
Here are a few wise words from some people I admire:
You can’t find love by avoiding pain.
You can’t find wealth by avoiding risks.
You can’t plant roses without touching thorns.
Passion requires vulnerability.
“Joseph sustained his brothers” (Gen. 47:12). One of the signs of a
spiritual person is his capacity to forgive. The Rambam (12th century) writes that it is an act of cruelty to deny someone forgiveness. No matter how weak or insincere we feel the apology is, we should be gracious and forgive anyway. This week we see the greatness of Joseph and can understand why he was given the
appellation of “righteous.” His 10 brothers n…ever apologized to him — not for selling him into slavery or for separating him from his family for 22 years — but he was willing to forgive them, and he even supported them and treated them graciously. This is probably the reason he was able to achieve so much in life: rather than focusing on what had been done to him, he focused on what needed to be done. Rather than becoming angry and full of self-pity over what happened to him, he chose to be gracious and optimistic. When we forgive others, it is more for our benefit than for the benefit of the one we are forgiving. It can transform us and free us from our pettiness; it opens us up to being like the Divine, who, despite our mistakes continually blesses us.
Rest on Shabbat,