Friday, April 24, 2009

Seudas Hoda’ah

I decided to take a break from the Parsha posts, and am stopping with Parshas Tzav, and will continue the rest next year. First I would like to bring up Parshas Tzav again, I had talked about the topic of Hoda’ah- Thanks, now I’d like to talk about it some more.

Shema Yisrael:

In the times of the Beis HaMikdash, the seudas hoda'ah consisted of the Korbon Todah. Nowadays, we have no Korbon Todah; however, we still make a seudas hoda'ah when we experience a miracle of Hashem's chessed. During that seudah, we speak about the miracle; how The Almighty saved us from a dangerous situation. This implants within us the middah (character trait) of hakoras hatov (gratitude), and recognition of all the good things that Hashem does for us. You do not need to wait until a big miracle happens to express hakoras hatov to Hashem. You can thank Him every day for the constant miracles of keeping you alive, healthy, providing food, clothing, family, teachers, and hundreds of other chassodim. Thank Him always. "Thank You Hashem!"

I remember in elementary school when we were taught Borei Nefashos, the teacher taught it to us in a song that went like this: “Barach Ata Hashem…..Borei Nefashos…..Chai Haolamim, Thank You Hashem for the Delicious food”. Now every time I say Borei Nefashos I always add on the Thank you part, it comes so naturally, that I forget it’s not part of the Bracha. But since it’s in English, it’s the part I understand, so as I’m saying it, the words remind me of what the Bracha is about.

I’m not really sure how much I can blog about this topic, as it might be too personal. But suffice it to say this Shabbos I’m having my 8th Seudas Hoda’ah for that unlucky Wednesday in 2001. I never really think about it much, I remember it comes out April time, Rosh Chodesh Iyar. It’s the one time a year when I actually eat Shalosh Seudos. We used to donate some sefer to the shul at this time. I usually acknowledge the time of year but never really feel the Thankfulness of it.

But then this year I was thinking about it, and I realized I have a lot to be thankful for. Sometimes I feel as though my life is too easy, that it becomes hard for me to do the right thing all the time. I sometimes wish bad things would happen to me, so that I wouldn’t be so “spoiled” and would become a better person. I hear about people suffering and it makes me feel inadequate, as though how can I be living the way I am, when they are suffering so.

Then this time of year comes, as a reminder, that my life wasn’t so smooth, I did have my bumps. I realize I have the opportunity to be thankful for it, so that I had my hardship early on and was able to learn and change from it.

Hashem has done a miracle for me and saved my life, when I think of that it gives me an incentive and motivation to make myself a better person. I wish I can constantly remember this, but I realize it takes more than this gratitude towards Hashem, to make myself constantly a better person. It takes an extra level of love and dedication to Hashem and His mitzvos, to make me constantly aware of my reason for being here and to act upon it.

I find that a very hard task, it’s hard to imagine this great Hashem when He’s not a physical being that we can see, but rather all spiritual. One of my High School teachers used to tell us that we have to think to ourselves every day “Hashem loves me”. It became ingrained in me, that when good things Happen, no matter how little, it’s from Hashem. So if I was typing out a comment and lost my connection, refreshed and found my comment was still there, I would say “Hashem loves me”. It feels good to realize it’s from Hashem.

The next step is to love Hashem back, I made my picture to say “I love Hashem” as a reminder to myself to work on the Midah of Ahavas Hashem, which is the best possible way of doing the Mitzvos.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sefiras Haomer

There are 7 sefiros which are the seven midos that Hashem uses, the more we develop them the more similar we become to Hashem, and then we have proper receptors for the Torah.

1- Chesed 2- Gevurah 3- teferes 4- netzach 5- hod 6- yesod 7- Malchos

Chesed- outpouring of goodness

  1. Hashem takes care of us, our hearts beat, we breath.
  2. we should look out for other people, be an active doer, see how you can help others, what do they need.
  3. Avraham was proactive in Chesed, he built his tent with 3 doors so people can find him from all over.

Gevurah- strength, an inner strength to control myself
  1. When we deserve punishment Hashem gives us a chance to improve, Hashem wants to do for you, but he holds himself back so that you can learn to make bechira choices and develop your self.
  2. we should hold ourselves back and don't respond in an inappropriate way to people pushing our buttons.
  3. Yitzchak by the Akeda restrained himself so that he won't stop the knife.

Teferes- glory, beauty, Emes, Harmony, well balanced.
  1. Hashem has chesed and gevurah, balance, knowing when to give and when to restrain.
  2. We have to have a balance within our personality when to do and when to hold back. Emes- everything is correct, being true to ourselves. Having integrity and consistency- being the same wherever we our.
  3. Yaakov, when he lived with Yitzchak he was a tzadik then when he lived with lavon he didn't compromise his principals. He didn't have an easy life, in all the situations he though of what is the Emes thing to do.

Netzach- eternity/win
  1. Hashem doesn't just decide what is good now, but rather long term, what is good for me as a person.
  2. When we make choices in our day we should see if it will get us to our goal. Don't give up cause long term we will see its good for us.
    (Ex: we clean the house for a pleasant environment. While cleaning the floor, a kid comes home all muddy, you are about to get angry and scream- that becomes an unpleasant environment. You loose the Netzach, you have to think for the purpose- Pleasantness. See how much diff will it make long term.)
    a) learn about the complexity of the human body- so not stuck in the moment
    b) meditate about own past history- brought to where you are now
    c) meditate about yourself standing with everyone in your community then broaden the picture more to all people of Bnei Ysiroel then broaden it to everyone in the world, then imagine all the galaxies -- This gives us a broader picture.
  3. Moshe gave us the torah with instructions on how to put eternal meaning into every moment of life.

Hod- glory, thankfulness, admit. When we are thankful we feel the glory in the object.
  1. Notice the small goodness others or Hashem are doing in my life- feeling thankful, Hakaras Hatov- recognizing the good.
  2. necessity- when we have something we don't feel the joy but when there's a lack we feel the pain. Luxury- when we don't have something we have no pain, but when we get it then there's joy. The more stuff we claim are luxuries then the more joy we will have in our life.
    a) Say thanks to people for the small things they do.
    b) when we say brachos think about all the work that went into each piece of cake.
    c) When hashgacha pratis happens say a perek of tehillim
    d) when see a beautiful scenery it should be a motivation and acknowledge Hashem.
    e) keep a journal of the HP in your life
  3. Aharon saw the goodness in others so then there was peace.

Yesod- basic foundation.
  1. a)eating, sleeping- physical- vivid, real immediate, don't last, only there at the moment. b) aesthetic pleasure - beautiful music, paintings, scenery, doesn't change who I am as a person unless we use the motivation to change ourselves. c) connection- relationship with others or Hashem. (a baby needs this deepest level, needs touch) this is Yesod of who we are, we seek a connection with Hashem.
  2. make sure the connection between males and females is spiritual. Men- Shmiras Ainayim. Woman- how much are we calling outside attention to ourselves, have a consideration for others, we don't want to create a temptation that he doesn't want. have a sense of self from the inside.
  3. Yosef had the biggest temptation, he was interested, it was so difficult to control himself, but he held himself back, he used the image of his father, someone he respected so much, and then asked himself how would he feel in front of him if he acted this way. We should think of a role model and how we would feel in front of his person if we acted this way.

Malchos - kingship
  1. focus on making Hashem my king in every moment of the day, feel His presence in everything I do.
  2. Hashem is pouring a shefa of life experiences we go thru, we should take these life experiences and filter them thru the torah, how would the torah want us to deal with it. If not the torah then the eyes of a Rabbi. Whatever is being poured down the goal is to crown hashem with it, elevate it to make hashem my king thru this life Experience
  3. Dovid had life challenges, he teaches Benei Yisroel to do Yeshuva thru that, he composed tehilim, how to make Hashem Melech in every life experience.

The next day is shevuous when we are ready to receive the torah, which tells us how to connect with Hashem in every life experience.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Pesach Diary 2009

My innovative little brother continues to surprise me with his great inventions. For Purim he made a container on wheels to carry the shaloch manos and now for Pesach he made his own pillow out of cloth napkins, old pillow stuffing and staples.

suppliesstapled pillowfinished product   

On Pesach, I was helping out by changing the glasses on the lachter and to put in new candles. Now this is a un-girly thing to say, but a really cool thing happened while I was removing the old wicks from the glasses.

I had 3 glasses in my hand with a plastic knife in the other- Mistakes 1&2. I had used the knife to successfully take out a bunch of wicks and I had just those 3 left to take out. So I used the knife and tried to take out the wick of the top glass in my hand, but it wouldn’t come out. So I tried harder…then all of a sudden I hear a cracking sound, I didn’t know what it was from. So I continued trying to remove the wick using the knife. Then I realized the middle glass I was holding in my hand had cracked. I look at my hand and I see a really cool pretty and colorful shard of glass got stuck in my skin. It was the strangest thing, I pulled it out from my hand and it didn’t hurt one bit! Plus there was not a cut or a trace of blood coming out of my finger from where I removed it. But I remembered distinctly that the glass had been in my finger, so I’m not so sure how that was possible.

Chol Hamoed – Sunday:

We were going to go to Harford Connecticut, but we ended up going to Milford Connecticut instead.

First we went to The Maritime Aquarium, we watched a sea lion feeding where 1 of the sea lion’s had a Jewish Sounding name – Layala!


I saw a Watercolor painting which made me think of Leora, so I took a picture of it:


There were lots of kinds of fish there, thankfully it was all indoors, because the weather was chilly. There were a few fish that stuck out.

  1. Lobster: Looking at that thing, I can’t imagine how people eat it, and I’m thankful it’s not on “our menu”.
    DSCF0144 DSCF0146
  2. Star Fish: There was a touch tank where you can touch some fish. One of them was the star fish, I didn’t touch it. But I remember maybe touching one when I was younger, so I enjoyed the memory of it.
  3. Shark: So mean looking, makes me think of a Rasha!
  4. Turtle: for a known to be slow creature, this turtle looked really impressive. This was the biggest turtle I’ve ever seen. It also had a fierce looking face.
     DSCF0194 DSCF0195
  5. Jelly Fish: now this was the best part! I loved looking at the jelly fish, I’ve always pictured one looking like the candy jelly fish, but that’s  not at all how it looks!

    I found the jelly fish to be so graceful I just had to take a video of it. I started the video and then some chassidish kids came over, I feared they would start talking and it would ruin the video and cause me to have to mute the sound. But an amazing thing then happened, I got the perfect sound effect!

  6. Flounder: one of the types of fish that I actually like eating. I like hands on interactive exhibit’s so I was happy to try to solve this one. These flounder have got truly amazing camouflage.
  7. Colorful Fish tank: This one is “Ma Rabu Maasecha Hashem”. I saw this tank of fish and at first glance I just loved it, amazing what color can do. 
  8. DSCF0271Penguins: I don’t think I’ve ever seen Penguins swim before, I always imagined their in the snow only. (Happy Feet was a great movie!). 

We went to an IMAX about the grand canyon. When we got there the place was empty, so I took some pictures of the vast big empty room. I love the theater effect to it all.

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There were a bunch of Chassidish people that did come in to watch, along with other frum Jews. We waited a little while, then the “movie” started. The first image on the screen was…you’ll never guess! 2 girl’s in bikini’s in the water. I watched the boys turn their head and look away, nobody could believe what was just on the screen.

Then the film continued and it was about how the water in the Colorado river was draining out, and it showed them kayaking the river for the most of it. It was cool to see them going over the big waves and falling upside down. I’ve never seen the grand canyon before, and it was amazing to see that too. They also showed Las Vegas, another scene I’ve never seen before, and the colorful lights were truly pretty.

I love going to gift shops to look around and get a key chain or some other little thing with the name of the place on it. This time I got a charm that said the name of the aquarium, it was silver too.


While I was looking around I saw a pacifier that I thought it was really funny, it would have been perfect for one of the kids I used to babysit!


After the aquarium we went to the Hotel in Milford. It was a very basic hotel, not fancy. The elevator was a plain one,  no glass see through doors. There was no pool, not that I would have gone swimming. The gym only had 3 machines, a treadmill, a stationary bike, and my favorite step machine! I used the step machine for a bunch of minutes and it was really fun.

This was the first trip in a really long time that my whole family actually came! We originally got 3 rooms, and my parents were going to share a room with me and my little sister. But when we opened the room we saw there was no room for another 2 beds, so I went on my laptop, logged in and booked another room for me and my sister. (I didn’t use my own money though…it was only 10,000 points so my father used his points).

It was so much fun watching TV, every time I go to a hotel I find there are new shows that I didn’t know about. I watched the NIK channel for about 3 hours straight! There was Drake and Josh which I thought had amazing actors, wow, those kids show a lot of facial expressions and put all their Koach into it! Then there was iCarly, this one reminded me of Hannah Montana and I loved it!

There were a lot of commercials, but since I haven’t seen them before, it was fun to watch the first time! I saw this commercial for a hanging tomato planter and I thought it was really funny! I thought of Jacob Da Jew and Leora though, cause I know they plant, so perhaps they might find it useful? I also noticed that by all the commercials, everything cost 19.95, or x payments of 19.95!

Chol Hamoed – Monday:

We went to an arcade game place called Smilez. Now this was truly a fun filled day. We spent 20 dollars in tokens, getting 112 tokens to play all kinds of games. It brought back so many memories of fun games I remembered playing.


  1. Bop the Alligator: I always loved playing this game, so I went to it right away and put in my token, ready to play the game. But then nothing happened, and I realized I lost my coin, that the game wasn’t working. I later realized if the light’s off then then the game won’t work! 
  2. Catch the Light: This next game I played I remembered playing before, it was a guaranteed win, so I got a few tickets. 

  3. Sky Bowling: (not sure what it’s called?), this game I’ve also played before, but I wasn’t any good at it, kept getting zeros! (The game had a longer ramp, I just cropped it for the sake of keeping the picture small looking).

  4. Rock N’ Bowl: now this is all about luck and aiming, you have to aim your coin to go in the slot and hit the pin and you get that amount of tickets. My father tried and actually got 100 tickets that way! 

After we had fun playing our games we went to the machine to count our tickets and redeem our prizes!

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Then my mother saw a game that she remembered playing and wanted to play it! So we went over to the game, my mother put in her token and nothing happened. It was one of those aiming the coin type of games, so I shook the aimer thing to see if it would go then, but it wouldn’t go. Then all of a sudden we hear noise and tickets start coming out of the machine one after another, as the aimer was shook, tickets kept spilling out. So we let a lot of tickets come out and then we counted the tickets and had over 500!

As I was feeding the tickets into the counter machine, I felt guilty, I wasn’t sure if it was okay what we just did, to get free tickets like that from a broken machine. What would you have done?

So then we got some more prizes, and everyone was happy!

Then we saw a Chassidish boy go over to the broken machine and he also realized that tickets were coming out for free, so he let it keep going too. Then his father came over and saw what happened, then when they redeemed their tickets for prizes, the father told the person behind the counter about the broken machine. But looks like she didn’t care, cause no one went over to put a sign on it, or fix it, so it kept giving tickets to whoever wanted. So then I felt less guilty, cause they knew it was broken.

When we were ready to leave I put my hand in my pocket and realized I had more coins left, so I quickly played another game and got some more tickets, but I was too lazy to go get a prize for it, so I saw a Chassidish girl and went over to her to give the tickets to. I said “You can have these” and handed her the tickets, she was stunned and her mouth was hanging open, looking at me, wondering why I just did that.

I ended up getting a bunch of prizes, my first was the blue teddy bear for 220 points and the “I love Mom” bear for 180 points- those were earned legitimately! Then I got a little picture frame in a purse shape for 270 points and a “You’re the best” bear for 180 points- those were through the “cheated tickets”. Then I got a deck of cards for 30 points that was legit.


Hope you had a great first day’s and enjoyed your Chol Hamoed too!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Pesach – Seder, Prep, Haggadah & Halacha

This year Pesach, I’m going miss Bedikas Chametz for the first time. I have class Tuesday night, a quiz and Homework do at that time as well, so I must go to class. My father reassures me that Bedikas Chametz is a man mitzvah because it’s a mitzvah that’s related to time. But yet, I’ve always enjoyed Bedikas Chametz, I was always the one to hide the 10 pieces of bread, make a list of where they are and watch my father look for it. It would be so much fun in the dark room where no one can talk, going around with a candle and picking up any little chametz we found and collecting the 10 pieces of bread. So I will be missing the experience this year, but hopefully the rest of Pesach will be memorable!

My favorite parts of Pesach are: 1- the Karpas- potato in salt water. 2- Leaning on a pillow, eating comfortably. 3- Lady fingers, or are they now called Fingers? 4- My grandmother’s sponge cake!

Pesach in the Blogosphere:
Note: They are separated in categories, with more than one post from quite a few bloggers.

To start off with, if you haven’t seen the Facebook Hagaddah yet, check it out!

There's also a Pesach website with lots of links including Pesach recipes.


  • Lakewood Falling Down has some really interesting Pesach minhagim. One of them is to sing a Mr. Potato Head song. It happened to be my little sister asked me to draw a picture for her to color in, so I went to Coloring Book and was scrolling through the images waiting for her to tell me which one to pick. Guess what she picked? Mr. Potato head! So I tried to copy the picture there, it was no way a good imitation but I’ll put it up anyways.
    Potato-Head Mr. Potato Head
  • Hadassah’s son writes a touching guest post about his Dream Seder.
  • G6’s family makes strawberry fluff for Pesach, she posts adorable pictures of her daughter when she was younger. She also shares some other Pesach rituals of Chocolate matzos and making animal noises by Chad Gadiah.
  • Frum College Girl writes about macaroons being the classic Pesach nosh.
  • Super Raizy shares an article of the all too common Pesach Seder.

Pesach Prep



Friday, April 3, 2009

Parshas Tzav

For the men out there who do Daf Yomi: Noticed anything interesting on Friday? This weeks Parsha is צו, and guess what the daf-page number, for Friday was? That’s right צו.


I always love saying “Please”, “Thank You” and “Your welcome”. It’s so much fun to be polite, it gives you a good feeling inside. I remember once watching a full house episode where Stephanie was a young girl, probably 6 or 7 years old. One of the adults had said thank you to another person for something, and Stephanie chimes in and says “Your Welcome”. They all turn to her wondering why she’s saying “Your welcome”, and she tells them “when someone says “Thank You” your supposed to say “Your welcome”. So even though the person didn’t say “Thank You” to her, she still answered back, I found it to be adorable!

I tried to find the video on youtube, I couldn’t find it, but I found another cute one with Michelle and “Politeness Week”

Something to say:

If he shall offer it for a thanksgiving offering (7:12)

The accepted definition of the word Toda, thanksgiving, is gratitude and appreciation. When someone asays thank you, he is saying, “I appreciate what you did for me.” Rabbi Yitzchak Kotzker notes that the word Toda also expresses the concept of admission and confession. When one confesses to another, he is in effect conveying a message of agreement with the other party’s view.

The idea that connects the two approaches to the meaning of the word lies in the depths of human nature. man’s instinct is to be independent, aspiring, and eager to show that he is capable of taking care of himself. When he expresses his appreciation to another person, however, he is acknowledging-confessing, so to speak- that he needs others.

So by saying “Thank you” besides for showing your appreciating and thanking the person, you are also showing that you need the other person and can’t do everything on your own.