Elul: Final Preparation:Releasing Resentment by Ariella Bracha Waldinger

We are down to the wire with our final preparations for Rosh Hashana, the holiday that ushers in the The Jewish New Year. As we approach the great and awesome day where we ask G-d, the King of Kings, to grant us another year of  quality life, it is imperative to make “Releasing Resentment” part of your final preparation. The month of Elul, as we know, is about making amends with G-d, self and others in order to re-calibrate our lives so they line up with true Torah values.  These acts help re-build our connection to HaShem.

In a powerful Article by Psychologist and marriage counselor, Tom King, he writes the following:”I had been working with a couple on the concept of making amends and offering one another sincere apologies for ways in which they have hurt one another. The husband stated truthfully that he was not ready to offer an apology that was genuine because he still was not getting what he wanted and needed in this marriage. After further discussion, both people were able to see they have some deep roots of resentment and bitterness towards one another that they were not willing and able to release yet.”

A question emerged; “If I have decent and respectful relationships with other people in my life but not in my marriage, isn’t it fair to conclude that this is just a toxic relationship? That may be a fair conclusion in some cases, but there is a seductive illusion that the problem really is the other person. It ignores the fact that marriage is a unique relationship that demands more from you than other relationships and it is not a fair comparison. It also ignores the fact that what you blame your partner for is often just a reflection of something within yourself that you need to deal with. You may choose to leave what feels like a toxic relationship but if you have not released the roots of bitterness you will carry that with you into the next one.

We began talking about a garden. If you have an ugly weed in your garden, you typically try to get rid of it by pulling it out. If the soil is dry and hardened however, it will not release the root and the weed just keeps growing back. You may try to poison the weed but if it is entwined with the plant, you run the risk of killing the plant as well. The only safe and effective way to get such a weed out is by soaking the soil with water until it is soft and loose enough for the soil to release the root. If it is a deep root, it takes a lot of water to penetrate deep enough.

When there are weeds of resentment and bitterness in a relationship, the partners tend to see only the weeds in the other and focus on trying to pull them out or poison them. You know the results of such behaviors. So the question is, how does one prepare the soil in one’s relationship garden so the soil will be willing to release the roots of bitterness? The answer lies in three key steps:

  1. First, you must look inward to see and acknowledge your own bitterness and resentments.
    2. Next, make the choice to work your way towards willingness to release the roots of these weeds.
    3. Lastly, water the soil of your relationship with kindness and loving behaviors aimed both at yourself and at your partner.

If the soil has been hardened over time, it will not respond by soaking in the water immediately. It takes time to penetrate the hard crust of dry soil. If the roots are deep, once the water penetrates the top soil, you must keep it coming for it to reach down to the depths of the roots. Consistent kindness and loving behavior over time will work its magic.

In another powerful article from Psychology today, Therapist, Mark Sichel explains the meaning of resentment. “Resentment refers to the mental process of repetitively replaying a feeling, and the events leading up to it, that goads or angers us. We don’t replay a cool litany of facts in resentment; we re-experience and relive them in ways that affect us emotionally, physiologically, and spiritually in very destructive ways. The inability to overcome resentment probably constitutes the single most devastating impediment to repairing a disintegrating intimate connection, family rift, or severed friendships.

He continues, “Although resentments may be provoked by recent, specific angry conflicts between two people, they usually encapsulate an enmity that goes much further back. Your parent, child, sibling or partner may accuse you of a recent snub or slight but the venom is more than likely fueled by years of other imagined or real episodes of disrespect or disregard. For example, your spouse may become enraged by a broken promise or breach of attentiveness, but if they can’t let go of it, it’s probably ignited by a long history of neglect, exasperation, and frustration. Your parent or sibling may accuse you of forgetting an event like their birthday, but again, the most recent accusation is just the trigger for these feelings. The strong reaction of resentment almost never appears to be warranted by what sets it off. It’s always the product of a long history of backed-up unhappiness. What causes the unhappiness that underlies resentment?”

  • What we feel people did to us that was unnecessarily mean, hurtful, and thoughtless.
  • What people in our lives did not do for us that we feel they should have done.
  • When we feel the people in our lives have not done enough for us.

Resentments embody a basic choice to refuse to forgive, an unwillingness to let bygones be bygones and bury the hatchet. We review and rehash our painful past, even as we profess to want to let go of it. We do so because we believe the illusion that by belaboring our resentment, we will somehow achieve the justice we believe we are due. We cling to a futile need to be “right,” which overrides the capacity to heal and be at peace with ourselves. We hang on to perceived offences because we don’t know any other way of coming to grips with painful feelings of hurt, rejection, and abandonment. We need to learn to let go of resentment, because living with it can only bring us chronic punishmentand pain, and prevent us from building up other relationships based on love, nurture, and support. Letting go of a resentment is not a gift to the person you resent. It is, rather, a gift to yourself.

Clinging to your angry, hurt feelings about someone to whom you once felt close will only hinder your capacity to move on in your life and learn to deal with the wounds. Letting go of your resentments, whether it leads to healing the rift, or to wholeness and peace within yourself, or both, is integral to not letting your past interfere with your present. Some time ago I read something about resentment which appears to have been written anonymously. It’s worthwhile reading:

“The moment you start to resent a person, you become his slave. He controls your dreams, absorbs your digestion, robs you of your peace of mind and goodwill, and takes away the pleasure of your work. He ruins your religionand nullifies your prayers. You cannot take a vacation without his going along. He destroys your freedom of mind and hounds you wherever you go. There is no way to escape the person you resent. He is with you when you are awake. He invades your privacy when you sleep. He is close beside you when you drive your car and when you are on the job. You can never have efficiency or happiness. He influences even the tone of your voice. He requires you to take medicine for indigestion, headaches, and loss of energy. He even steals your last moment of consciousness before you go to sleep. So, if you want to be a slave, harbor your resentments!”

Poisoned Mind, Poisoned Body…..Take a look again at that quote: “Living with resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other guy to get sick.” This makes vivid one of the most crippling aspects of resentment—one you may be experiencing right now. If you’re thinking about ways to get even and prove to another person that you’re right and they’re wrong, you need to remember that the person who is the focus of your animosity may be feeling just fine, enjoying life, and perhaps not at all troubled by any of the interactions that are renting space in your brain. Ultimately, resentment hurts you far more than the person toward whom you bear a grudge.

Fortunately, there are ways to get out of resentment’s crippling grip. There are alternative, life-affirming, and healthy responses that will help you achieve freedom from obsessing about past injustices. There are choices you may not realize are available to you. How can you learn to get out from under these toxic feelings? Take the following suggestions to heart and you’ll be on your way.

10 Steps to Letting Go of Resentment

  1. Approach resentment as the addictive state of mind it is.
  2. Realize that you are using resentment to replicate old dramas and acknowledge that you cannot change the past.
  3. Examine how your resentment may come from mentally confusing people in your present life with people from your past.
  4. Acknowledge that you cannot control those who have rejected you.
  5. Recognize that your resentment gives you only illusions of strength. Instead, highlight and validate your real strength and power.
  6. Learn to identify signals that provoke resentment. Apply the acronym HALT, widely used in 12-step programs: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired.
  7. Practice cognitive behavioral techniques to stop indulging in resentment. Put a thought between your feelings of resentment and indulging in ruminating about them.
  8. Acknowledge your part in allowing the abuse to occur, forgive yourself for that, and make a decision to not let it occur again.
  9. Declare an amnesty with the person you resent and with yourself.
  10. Forgive when you can, and practice willful and deliberate forgetfulness when you cannot, keeping in mind that these acts are gifts to yourself rather than capitulation to the people you resent.

I pray that each of us makes the final preparation of releasing resentment a top priority in order to insure a clean, clear merging with the blessings embedded in the holiness of both Elul and Rosh HaShana. May we all be written and sealed for a great year of quality life, health and peace with our family and friends and mostly ourselves and G-d.

 

 

 

 

Elul Preparations:Cleaning out the clutter on all levels by Ariella Bracha Waldinger

Elul is the last month in the Jewish calendar and has been labeled a “Workshop in Time” due to the fact that Jews the world over are concentrating on cleaning up their homes, lives and especially their relationships.  The month itself comes with the mandate to tie up our loose ends, make amends and get our lives in order. We can achieve the goal of this powerful mandate, if we begin by getting our house in order and cleaning out the clutter on all levels. De-cluttering enables us to transform our spaces, both inner and outer, and simplify our lives which restores our sanity.

The Talmud in Brachot (57b) lists three things that “expand a person’s heart” and one of them is a pleasant home. When we live in an orderly home devoid of excessive clutter, we feel calmer and more capable of dealing with life by focusing on our priorities.

 Clutterer’s Anonymous states, “clutter is anything we do not need, want or use that takes our time, energy and space and destroys our serenity. It can be outgrown clothes, obsolete papers, broken items, disliked gifts, meaningless activities, ancient resentments or unsatisfying relationships.” Disordered things impede movement and reduce our day to day effectiveness.

Clutterers Anonymous shares the following questions to Ask Yourself:

  • What areas of my life are cluttered? In what way?
  • How has it harmed my relationships?
  • Why am I still hanging onto this? i.e., thing or emotion etc.
  • What is the worst thing that can happen if I get rid of it?
  • Is it being used regularly? Is it enriching my life?
  • Do I absolutely love it or am I suppose to love it?

 Don’t let the following excuses prevent you from moving forward.

  • I may use it someday
  • I could fix it up and it might look like new
  • It cost me good money or it may be valuable
  • It was a gift from a favorite loved one
  • I will read the books, magazines etc. when I have time

 De-cluttering Rules: Once you begin to get real about your stuff follow these rules:

  • Start small….one space at a time or one issue at a time
  • Hold the item or think of the issue and ask the questions listed above.
  • Create four separate piles: one pile for give-away, one pile for throw-away, one pile for move to another location and another for keeping it where it is but in a more orderly fashion…(use bins or whatever you can to maintain the orderliness)

It is a huge mitzvah to share the wealth of your give-aways with others. Please be aware, do not give away any stained or torn items, they must be thrown away. Items to be given away must be clean and usable. They can be put outside of your home with a sign that they are ownerless. They can be given to a gemach or shared with a friend.

Below is a great article on the benefits of being organized.https://unclutterer.com/2014/01/23/benefits-of-being-organized/

 I bless each of us to make the time for this sacred work. By taking inventory of our over-crowded schedule, our overloaded to do list and our over-stuffed mind, drawers and spaces, we can emerge into a life of living our priority order. By choosing to clean out the clutter in our lives, we can be more effective by being more selective…carefully choosing what we do, and what we own. It is spiritually freeing! Remember, discipline is remembering what we truly want for our lives during our precious time on earth. Once our direction has become rooted and prioritized, we can reap the benefits on every levels be’H.

Kesiva V’Chatima Tova,….may we all be written and sealed for a healthy and happy New Year,  Ariella Bracha

 

 

 

Awakened to Temple Consciousness through Aliyah by Ariella Bracha Waldinger

Soon after making Aliyah, I discovered my lack of knowledge relating to the Holy Temple. I recognized I had no information relating to its true spiritual depth and cosmic greatness. Thank G-d, my Aliyah decision to return home, to Israel, became the catalyst that enabled me to engage in the ongoing study of the Temple.As I pursued knowledge on Temple teachings, my heart and soul awakened to Temple consciousness. This made me profoundly aware of the necessity for all Jews, wherever they are, to study this awe inspiring topic which is vital to our national mission.

As a result of living in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem,in close proximity to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site where the Temples stood, I also felt the impetus to learn more about our beloved Beit HaMikdash (holy Temple).

I cherished the close proximity of our new residence, to the Temple Mount, because of its spiritual significance. Sometimes, I would awaken in the wee hours of the morning and be magnetically drawn to arise from my slumber and explore my new world. I would quietly grab my clothes, make my bedroom escape, dress and depart the house in order to explore the Jewish quarter. I delighted in the private discovery time and felt like a child sneaking away from home, on a private, magical adventure. I named my early morning outings, my spirit walks, because  I felt my Jewish spirit come alive.as my imagination awakened and intermingled with the ancient biblical sites. I felt as if, I was alone with all the memories of those precious Jews who had come before me to live and die for our nation. My special outings were soul stirring and I felt enlivened by them and intensely connected to both G-d and the Jewish nation.

In my Jewish quarter wanderings, I discovered the Broad Wall, a 23 feet thick foundation of an Old Testament city wall built in 701 BC by Hezekiah, King of Judah, to protect the city from the Assyrians. Farther down the road, I passed the Burnt House, which is a charred ruins of an industrial workshop located in the lower level, of a home where the priestly family called Bar Karos resided. This information was gleaned from inscribed stone plates unearthed at the site. This site bears the most complete evidence of the city’s fiery destruction by the Romans because the archaeologists discovered the remains of a skeletal hand and arm of a woman clutching a scorched staircase in an attempt to escape. The Burnt house left me with a very unsettled feeling as I became a witness to the proof of the painful destruction of the Old City. It was very real in a haunting way. It pained me to be reminded of the horrible destruction of our holy nation in our beloved land.The museums and historic sites in the Old City also aroused my quest for awakened Temple consciousness because they were connected to the historic time periods, I was reading and studying about.

Many Jews are unaware, as I was, that we are commanded by the Torah, to revere the Temple. We revere it, because of the One who commanded us to build it and whose presence permeated it and will once again permeate it, when the third Temple is rebuilt. The Temples were G-ds gift to the Jewish nation and the world. The Temple was shrouded in spirituality because it created a physical dwelling place for G-d. The Torah teaches us that the influence of the Temple service was palpable and the radiance of G-ds presence could be deeply felt by all present and even extended out to the Jerusalem environs. It was a cosmic manifestation of G-d and a precious gift to the entire world and it contributed a great benefit to society.

Jewish teachings explain that we have an obligation in all times, to learn the laws of the Holy Temple, its history, its structure, the services and sacrifices practiced there. Through undertaking this endeavor, it will be, as if we are building the Temple. Our studies should be carried out in anxious anticipation of the Holy Temple being rebuilt and should be ongoing. It is the job of every Jew to study about the Holy Temple with the understanding that in the very near future, we will see it manifest before our eyes.

I received my first in-depth teachings related to Beit Hamikdash ( the Holy Temple) through the information presented by the Third Temple Institute, which is located in The Old City in Jerusalem. They can be found at http://www.templeinstitute.org. This is an amazing organization which has vast information on all aspects of the Temple.

Another great web site related to Temple teachings: http://www.ahavat-israel.com/torat/temple.

The following times of Israel post is a fantastic article about both the Temple and Moshiach. It’s a must read! http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/moshiach-is-not-your-cleaning-lady/

To conclude, I am sharing a portion of the Shabbat Torah teaching by Rabbi Nachman Kahana from the Old City of Jerusalem. His vibrant teachings will also awaken your Temple consciousness.

BS”D Parashat Devarim – Shabbat Chazon Tisha Be-Menachem Av 5776 Rabbi Nachman Kahana

A: During the three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Menachem Av, one thousand nine hundred and forty six years ago, a hand-to-hand battle raged between the soldiers of Rome and the Jewish defenders over every meter of hallowed ground in the walled city of Yerushalayim. It took the Roman Tenth Legion, superior in number and weapons, led by the infamous Titus, three weeks to defeat the Jews who entered the battle already sick and famished. It took the Romans another 32 days to advance from the Temple Mount to today’s Jewish Quarter, the distance of about 150 meters, which illustrates the ferocity our forefathers fought with in defending the Holy City.

On the 11th of Elul, the city finally fell to the battered Roman Legion. The smell of death and the cries of the dying filled the air. Carnage filled the narrow alleyways. The Romans showed no pity, neither to those who were still alive nor to the dead who they defiled.

Picture an elderly couple with hands tied behind their backs and whip marks on their bodies being taken away to be sold as slaves, or any of the other terrible fates that waited them. The elderly man says to his wife, “We have sinned and HaShem has punished us as we deserve. We were warned but did not respond. Who will live on, who will return? Who will rebuild that which has been destroyed? The carnage, the destruction, the dead covering every stone; who will return?”

And the old savta (grandma) says, “Moshe, the time will come when our descendants will return and rebuild every house, every street and every bet midrash. And then they will rebuild the Bet HaMikdash.”

The elderly couple is our grandparents – every one of us. To whom was savta (grandma) referring when she said to saba (grandpa) that their descendants would return and rebuild?

She was referring to you and to me and to all our brothers and sisters who merit being in Eretz Yisrael at this time. We are the chosen of HaShem to rebuild, to restore the physical destruction and to re-ignite the torch of hope in our hearts for the final redemption which will be realized here in HaShem’s Holy Land.

Our generation is one of the greatest for a Jew. Of all the millions of Jews who have passed this world in the last 2000 years, it is we whom HaShem has chosen to be His agents in restoring his presence in the Holy Land.

The challenges are great; the rewards are even more amazing. The rewards in this world are the fruit of our labors from the small trickle of olim (new immigrants) 120 years ago to their children who are erecting the skyscrapers of Tel Aviv and the pilots who police the skies above the Holy Land and learn HaShem’s holy Torah in purity.

What a joy to see our younger generation, who after years of yeshiva study, are taking their places of leadership at the helm of Israeli society, in education, the military, medicine, academia, industry, engineering etc., preparing the Land for the next phase of Jewish greatness.

My dear friends, the Beit HaMikdash is not a spiritual fantasy. It is a vital, soon to be built reality that will effect the entire world. It is a promise from G-d Himself. But it is our job as Jews, to both make Aliyah and to awaken our Temple Consciousness. We need to do both in order to make the Temple a reality. Come home and be one of the builders. It is the Best job in the world. Be aware, Aliyah is a potent vehicle for change and awakening your consciousness because it helps us come to terms with our lack, whatever it may be i.e., knowledge, personal power, self-control, etc. This is a huge gift!

Shabbat Shalom, with love and blessings, Ariella Bracha

Aliyah Memories of Humorous Stories By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

One could say Aliyah memories are a dime a dozen, thereby minimizing their potency but I  love recalling the diverse memories relating to aliyah experiences. They were the occurrences that began to shape my new life in Israel. Each new experience added a unique dimension to my personal growth, as they taught me about myself, as well as Israel. I feel blessed that my Aliyah memories are predominantly positive….especially the humorous stories, for they allowed me to lighten up and stop taking life so seriously.

I would like to share the following quote, which I made up: “if humor isn’t part of your innate make-up and it trips up your brain, maybe Aliyah shouldn’t be a consideration.” Now, you have probably figured out that I am a total Aliyah pusher, but honestly, Aliyah does test you on every level and if you cannot laugh at yourself, well, you could be in big trouble, if you make that decidedly significant move.

Aliyah memories and humorous stories are the dynamic duo that sit side by side in every undertaking, as you settle into your new country and home. They have the potential to cause epic explosions of laughter, as the multi-faceted realities of Israeli living experiences  and challenges chip away at your ego and sense of self.  However with humor as your companion, you could actually be guided into a state of freeing laughter. Having said all that, I will now divulge some of my own personal Aliyah memories of humorous stories.

Hebrew Word Stories: I love words and I like speaking clearly, so I am heard and understood. Early on, while living in Jerusalem, I was working at learning some simple words and phrases. Since we were eating out quite a bit, I wanted to learn the words that state something is tasty. I learned that if you enjoy the taste of something in a restaurant, they love hearing you say that it was “ta-im me-0d”. This means it was very tasty. I like the sound of that. I was also learning the word “na-im me-od,” which is what you say, when you meet people for the first time. It means nice to meet you.

Soon after learning these words, I met someone for the first time and to proudly show my command of the new language, I said ta-im me-od instead of na-im me-od, which in their mind meant, you are very tasty. They walked away with a strange expression on their faces and my friend, who introduced us cracked up laughing.Then at a restaurant, when the waitress asked how I liked the food, I said na-im me-od which meant very nice to meet you. She looked confused as she walked away and naturally recognizing my mistake after the fact, I burst out laughing

Camel Stories: The words, “Middle East”  personally conjures up childhood memories of the book “Tales of Arabian Nights”.  Perhaps, with my imaginative energy being consumed by books of all flavor and variety, I perceived the darkly fascinating Middle East as a mythical place. Yet, here I was suddenly living in that place and I decided to watch my back , so to speak. One autumn day, an Arab man wearing the traditional long white robe with his head covered by the red and white scarf (keffiyeh)  started following me, while I was walking to the grave-site of King David.  I felt a little nervous especially as I recalled the book, “Tales of Arabian Nights”.In a deep, husky voice sounding rather ominous,  he said, “would you like to ride my camel?”  I was shocked and extremely indignant!  I asked him exactly what he meant by that question! To my extreme surprise, he started laughing. Suddenly, I spied his camel around the corner. Need I say more? Speaking of camels…..I once had a taxi driver ask me how many camels my husband paid for me. I laughed the entire taxi ride and even getting out of the taxi. Another time, I had an Arab taxi driver ask me, if I wanted to become his 4th wife…..now that was creepy cause he was dead serious but at least we didn’t discuss camels.  Thank G-d, we soon purchased our car and that took care of my Aliyah memories relating to humorous camel stories. However, there is one more to add. When my youngest daughter was visiting, we were in southern Israel and saw a sign that said, “Camel Crossing Ahead”. We laughed and thought it was a humorous Middle East joke.A few miles ahead, we saw a large herd of camels crossing and we laughed out loud,realizing we were after all living in the Middle East.

Taxi Drivers Stories: Taxi driver’s are a great source of information relating to the history of the land, as well as fascinating stories. As far as I am concerned, they should have a taxi drivers story night. I think they could make a lot of money.  I certainly would attend! One taxi driver  I rode with was born in the old city of Jerusalem and he recalled eating grass and weeds to stay alive during the 6 day war. Another one,  was the first baby born at the Hadassah Mt. Scopus hospital where his mother was taken by armored car to give birth. She refused to stay in the hospital more than one day because the hospital was under fire. She also returned home with him in an armored car. Another taxi driver grew up in the location of the new, prestigious Waldorf Astoria hotel in Jerusalem. As a child, he  would hide and watch  snipers  shoot at his mother, as she hung the laundry. I actually miss those poignant and informative stories from men who have experienced a great deal of life and history in the  Holy land.

Restaurant Stories:   My husband was very excited at the sign in the restaurant window that said oriental food. He grew up in new York and loves Chinese food. He asked the waiter in his broken Hebrew if they had egg rolls and the Israeli waiter cracked up laughing. It was a Moroccan restaurant. The truth is anything oriental means it is predominantly related to the Eastern world and to the continent of Asia.My husband associated oriental with Chinese….I did as well.

 Dear friends, I hope my Aliyah memories of humorous stories made you smile or laugh. I do have lots more stories, but I think you get the point about the fun of laughing at what life present. Humor  is a  vital ingredient to living life well. I think this quote by,  Steve Goodier, says it best, “Humor can make a serious difference. In the workplace, at home, in all areas of life-looking for a reason to laugh is necessary. A sense of humor helps us to get through the dull times, cope with the difficult times, enjoy the good times and manage the scary times.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aliyah Memories of New Beginnings By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

I cannot believe that 13 years have passed since my husband and I set foot in our first home in  Jerusalem. I can vividly recall many facets of the unfolding of that auspicious day, in spite of being completely physically and emotionally drained. The one Aliyah memory that stands out and  truly personified new beginnings was our arrival in the Old City of Jerusalem, the eternal and holy capital of Israel…our new place of residence. A part of me  felt like a child, so in awe of her surroundings, about to enter the Palace of The King.  It reminded me of  how the Jews must have felt crossing the reed sea, leaving slavery behind and going forward into new beginnings. My spiritual knees were trembling as I walked towards our new home.

When we arrived in the old city, we were kindly greeted by the son of a friend. He helped us with our bags and guided us to our apartment because we had actually forgotten the exact location. When he opened the door for us, he said in the most casual way, “Welcome to your new home! This apartment has been waiting for you your whole life!”  I was stunned by his prophetic words and I remember shockingly saying to myself, yes, it is true! I breathed in the resonance of the truth of his statement and the full force of the privilege and giftedness of being in G-ds chosen land, the spiritual epicenter of the universe, unleashed  my long restrained emotions, and the tears began to flow.Can you imagine standing in a place where you know your soul is going to come alive in a way you cannot even comprehend, but you know its true? It is frightening, exhilarating, wondrous and at the same time discombobulating. Now that’s a word I haven’t used in a long time.

After our friends departure, I remember  feeling a bit dazed, so I slowly walked around opening up all the windows and the door to the balcony. I slowly became aware of the light streaming into the apartment. It seemed to grab hold of me in some mystical way and I remember saying to myself, I am Coming Into The Light! Those words felt compelling and held some deep meaning to me which I did not understand at the time but would ultimately comprehend as time went on.  I felt a rather strange glimmer of intuition as if a spiritual convergence of some kind was happening. It was an amazing experience and one I had never felt before.

I felt a strange fascination with the unfolding of our future as time went on.  My husband and I knew we were in for a spiritual overhaul but we had no idea how it would play out. It was mystifying yet exciting.  As time went on, we would learn in a very meaningful way that all the challenges we would face, would be a direct result of coming into the light of Aliyah. These Aliyah memories of new beginnings continue to impart renewed inspiration to my soul and serve to remind me, I will always be crossing the seas of life to new beginnings.

My dear friends, if you knew what you stand to gain by returning home to this most extraordinary Jewish country, even with all its challenges, you would run to the  nearest Aliyah office and say, Sign Me Up, I guarantee it. The Aliyah memories you create with your own personal new beginnings will hold a lifetime of inspiration.

To celebrate my 13 year anniversary, I want to share with you some of my favorite places and things to do.

Favorite Places: Ein Gedi Kibbutz in the Dead Sea Area: Gorgeous Kibbutz with great accommodations. The only botanic gardens in the world where people live.  Includes Free pass to Dead Sea Spa. Hamat Gader: Ancient spa ruins with modern mineral pools. Beach at Naharia:  the water is very tame and it has lots of places with shade coverings. Nature parks in the north, Beit Shean: Great ancient Roman ruins, Adir winery  in the Galilee for brunch….all homemade bread, jams and goat cheeses which taste amazing, Golan winery wine-tasting, Hevron: Tomb of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs. Naval Museum in Haifa. Shilo, where the ancient Mishkan stood. The grave of Rachel and the list goes on.

Favorite Things to Do: Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Tel Aviv Arts Fair held on Tuesdays and Fridays only, but a Must see. IDF museum in Tel Aviv..Exceptional. Beach excursions. Gathering for Kohanic Blessings during Sukkot at the Kotel. Sukka hopping. Purim outings to give away goodies to IDF base and outposts. Exploring new towns and cities. Temple Institute in Jerusalem. One of my personal favorites…. Lit Chanukah Menorahs throughout the Jewish  neighborhoods….Beautiful, Moving and Inspirational.  Israel has it all.

An Aliyah Harp Concert and Musical Event

andes-mountains-06An Aliyah Harp Concert and Musical Event

by Ariella Bracha Waldinger

Can you imagine having a harp concert in your home with its heavenly strains wafting through your airspace? It happened yesterday, in our beautiful home in Tzfat. I planned it specifically for Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the new, dynamic Jewish month of the giving of the Torah. I wanted something soulful and special for this auspicious day.

It was magical, soulful and yes, the harp concert was a definite Aliyah. I call it an Aliyah musical event because the word Aliyah means ascent and music by itself is always a big event because of its inherent transformative power. Additionally, every woman at the gathering had a soul ascent, while listening to the soulful strains of the new compositions of the Aliyah harpist. The harpist, Rachael Rosenbaum, was the guiding force behind the family making Aliyah.

As a result of the new soul she acquired when making Aliyah, and the spiritual fertility she tapped into, each of her compositions touches upon new soulful revelations which has been translated into both song and harp compositions. They were exquisite…an Aliyah gift from Hashem because He loves showering gifts upon His children when they come home.

I couldn’t stop gazing at the harp which is an instrument of sublime beauty. It has been revered throughout history for its heavenly sounds and it was in my home, lovingly played by an Aliyah musician, a woman who personifies the deeper aspects of inspiration embedded in the act of making Aliyah.  It was such a privilege and joy to listen to her soulful compositions in the presence of so many other women who had also embraced Aliyah.

Here are some of the titles of her compositions with explanations that follow: “Rest” She writes, “One afternoon, shortly after making Aliyah, I saw clouds in the sky that looked like a legion of angels flying together. I felt that G-d had sent them over our heads to protect us….like His hands over the heads of his children, blessing our choice to return home”. The tenor of this beautiful piece was gentle and ethereal…very mesmerizing.

Another piece was titled, “You and Your Nation.” Rachael writes about this piece: “A heartfelt, searching patchwork of a song written as an attempt to grasp for meaning in the darkness of the insane violence that has struck our people on the streets. Beseeching G-d for His protection as well as the clarity to stand up and do what is right, just, and nationally self-protective.” This piece swept you up with the feeling of a plaintive cry, yet it also had a majestic ring to it.

Another piece was titled, “Daughter of Israel” and she writes, “This is a joyful song about the role of the Jewish woman in leading her family home to the Holy Land! G-d has opened the door, Will you walk through?” This composition and song rang with a grand and powerful feeling and yet a questioning feeling too. It gave pause for reflection with the question….Why wouldn’t every Jew run through that door?

In a deeply insightful article, titled, “The Harp as an Instrument of Healing”, Julie Smith states the following:

“The music of the harp has a way of opening the heart. There are many technical reasons about how the vibrations of the harp can resonate with the body, but the more straightforward, compelling reason is that the harp has been shown to have the ability to open the heart. Music opens us in ways that are gentle and invisible. It is the back door to the soul. It slips in unannounced and is the Spirit’s vehicle or ambassador for communion and healing. Music bypasses barriers and resistances that we create emotionally and mentally and seems to be able to slip in and sit in witness with us as we navigate troubled waters. Music creates a type of entrainment that allows us to rise above current levels of functioning and brings us into harmony with a greater purpose and sense of being. The whole idea of harmony is that we are in tune with one another–that we fit into a greater picture–that we each sound a unique note and are able to participate in the greater symphonic work of at-one-moment. Music helps us to remember that we are one. It tunes us up and draws us together and in the process helps to heal our sense of separation.

In this sense, music can speak for us and through us when words fail and fall short. Music gives voice to the unspeakable through an instrument like the harp. The music of the harp creates an atmosphere of peace that sweeps away fear, depression, desperation, and hopelessness. It creates an opening for healing to take place.

When music opens the heart of a person it creates the space for healing to happen, and this is how music becomes the vehicle for healing, which is about creating spiritual wholeness.”

After reading her explanation of the deeper power of music in general and the harp in particular, I began to understand what had transpired at the Aliyah harp concert.

The artist through the strings of the harp itself, along with the words and music, opened up the women present and we began to express soulful concepts and beautiful flowing Torah concepts. It brought us such a sense of harmony and oneness. No one wanted the concert to end…it was a very deep experience. Perhaps because it was an intimate setting and everyone was vested in being present. As one woman would share a thought, in between songs, others would comment and add to the thoughts…it was definitely a symphonic at-one-moment as Julie Smith relates. The music absolutely created an atmosphere of peace and joy…it was palpable.

The stunning and very real concepts expressed by Julie Smith relating to music completely personify the experience of Aliyah, where the Nation of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the Land of Israel are one. Yes, unequivocally, Aliyah opens us up in soulful ways that are gentle and invisible, exactly like the harp…the only difference however is as Julie Smith stated, whereas music is the back door to the soul, Aliyah is the front door to the soul…..Rachael Rosenbaum showed us that clearly in her Aliyah harp concert, as her soul spirited music moved us upwards to heavenly realms and kept us earth-bound to our Jewish oneness. It felt great. Wish you could have been here!

May we speedily merit to hear the strains of the Leviim in the Beit haMikdash

Rachael is currently living in Ma’alot and her email is wellspringsing@gmail.com.

She is available for concerts.

  facebook_882928399Spiritual Aliyah: Soulful Wisdom for New Immigrants to the Homeland

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

New Immigrants to the Jewish homeland!  Aliyah Jews!

Awaken to the spiritual connections peeking out from amidst our G-d given land inheritance,

As your Aliyah journey progresses and you meander through the back doors of bygone eras of Jewish history and the front doors of modern Jewish history.

Don’t be put off by ego challenges that attempt to rob you of the very soul depth you will soon discover.

Wait a moment in time and see how your life will unfold with the countless blessings awaiting the arrival of your emotional maturity and deepening connections.

Rise up and claim your greatness, as you shed the shrouds of a dying past in foreign lands to embrace your alive future in G-ds beloved garden.

Watch yourself grow, like a flower seed planted in the ground, as you water yourself with the Torah teachings that will arrive at your doorstep like manna from Heaven.

Get to know your true self, as your soul becomes aroused, when you uncover the wonders of life in the holy land amidst the backdrop of Biblical history.

Hold your heart tenderly and lift it up, as your breathe in the air of the holy land which makes you wise.

Do not allow fear of our neighbors to swallow up your soul strength, for it is within your G-d given power to claim your power anew and re-affirm your faith path to greatness,

As dormant sparks of the DNA of the matriarchs and patriarchs arouse you to your true Jewish nature through new recognition of your gifts and strengths,

Which you can share with the nation, who has long awaited your inner birthing process to become manifest.

And then shout gleefully, as you arrive at the army headquarters of the King of Kings, for your arrival in the land directs you straight to the induction ceremony,

Where, you will bask in the glow of being called a member of the regiment of His loyalists as you don the garb of warrior for G-d,

For G-ds homeland needs protection and you are privileged to do so.

Become aware that the Torah of the Land will whisper in your developmental soul ear as the energetic force field called Zion reverberates through your days and nights.

Quiet your mind, so you can feel your prayers ascend straight to heaven for the first time and jump for joy like a child receiving a long-awaited, tasty treat.

In order to achieve your full measure of success, allow your heart, mind and soul to caress the inner soul awakening within,

And bask in the success you are about to achieve, as your life purpose becomes more fully revealed to you.

Dance with joy as you allow your newfound re-awakening to overcome limitations of the past.

Allow the spirit force of Zion to influence and beautify your every move like a skilled dancer performing a graceful dance routine.

Embrace your destiny as the cosmic forces embedded in taking up residence in the holiest place in the world creates new opportunities that restore your balance and harmony, as you align with your birth path destiny once and for all.

Allow the greatness of our nation, which has manifested throughout its glorious yet painful history, to liberate any darkness or negativity.

Contemplate the removal of your spiritual poverty as you return home and forge a connection to your inner soul flame whose source is divine like the holy land.

Tap into your inner character of holiness, as you return to your G-d given everlasting inheritance.

And finally, tap into your inner aspirations to live according to the Torah’s holy and lofty ideals, so you can feel the towering stature of what it means to be a Jew in the Land….an Aliyah Jew on an upward climb to greatness.

Welcome home and may you benefit from this soulful wisdom!

 

yomzYom HaZikaron: The Sacred Privilege of Awareness

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

I never knew anything about Yom HaZikaron when I was living in America. The 4th of Iyar had no relevance to my life. I lived by the American calendar not the Jewish calendar. But thank G-d, since coming home to our nation’s divinely ordained biblical inheritance, my mind knows, my heart knows and my soul knows the date and if I ever forget, the sirens that pierce the airwaves (one at 8PM and one at 11AM) remind me of the sacred privilege of Yom HaZikaron awareness.

Yom HaZikaron is a special day set aside as a time of remembering the fallen soldiers of Israel, as well as the civilian victims of war and terrorism. It is a precious day that offers national solace to the memory of the fallen, as well as communal support to the families. Unlike America, where it is a day of shopping and play, here in the Holy Land, the character of the day is like a 24-hr fast from all public places of entertainment. All businesses, schools and stores are closed. All radio and TV station broadcasting is devoted to stories and songs dedicated to the fallen of Israel. Yom HaZikaron is officially observed for all of those who fell since 1860 when Jews were first allowed to live outside the city limits of Jerusalem in what was then known as “Palestine.”

One of the many commemorative  practices that take place during the 24 hour period is the scroll of names that is broadcast by government-owned television stations. The names of the fallen are scrolled on the screen in chronological order (rank, name, Hebrew date of deceased and secular date) over the course of the day. Names appear for about 3 seconds each…..3 sacred seconds to remind us of the life they gave up for a cause they believed in with their very life.

My heart is especially heavy this year as the holy date approaches, for who would have imagined last year in 2015, what we would be faced with, as the high holidays arrived and terrorism reared its ugly, ferocious, beastly head. The losses are so fresh and so real and so painful. When one is close to the source of suffering, it is more intense and impactful.

I believe every Jew, wherever they may be, owes it to their nation to mark their calendar with the date of YOM HAZIKARON AND TO DEVELOP AN AWARENESS OF THE SACREDNESS OF THE DAY. This day bears a message for every Jew as to the debt of gratitude they owe to those who gave their lives in the fight for reclaiming our sovereignty in our G-d given land.

In a telling article written by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis in a pamphlet entitled, “Zionism, A Challenge to Man’s Faith,” she lays out the truth about what it is like to be a citizen of the State of Israel, on the line, as she tells the following story:

In the Holy City, I met a woman who related a tale which reflects the agony of Zionism in the 20th and now 21st century. The woman of Jerusalem had a son named David who was 20 years old. She had a sister, who lived in New York, who had a son the same age named Chaim. Chaim, the American cousin came to Jerusalem for a year of study. Then suddenly, the Yom Kippur War broke out. Both boys were in synagogue together praying side by side. David, still wrapped in his talit (prayer shawl), without pausing for food or water, ran to answer the call of his people. He bid farewell to his cousin, his mother, his father, and to his young bride. He felt he had no choice but to go forth to defend his people.

The following day, the mother in Jerusalem, received an emergency call from the United States. “Please, please, a near hysterical voice called across the great ocean…Where is my Chaim? Please do not let him do anything rash…you must find him and get him out on the first plane to safety. We are sick with worry. I want him home!” The mother in new York was overcome with fear…and somehow in her agitation forgot to ask about David….her sister’s son…the son of Jerusalem, whose heart at that very moment was pierced by a shell in the Golan….(Northern Israel).

TWO SISTERS…TWO MOTHERS…TWO SONS

The Rebbetzin then writes the following:

The story haunts me. It leaves me no peace…For indeed, if the land of Israel has been given by G-d as an inheritance to all Jews, then by what right do we in the United States go to sleep in security, knowing that our sons are well and sound, while our sisters lie awake with a gnawing fear gripping their hearts…asking the question, “Where is he now?” …whispering a silent prayer, Hashem, Almighty G-d watch over him…”

The Rebbetzin continues:

No matter how much the American Jew has given and will give on behalf of Israel, he will never equal the sacrifice of those who live there and offer their very lives for the land.

No Matter how much the American Jew continues to give, he will never be able to justify the fact that he belongs to the generation that was given Jerusalem yet opts for New York or Los Angeles.

To have witnessed 2,000 years…to have suffered the agonies of exile…to have dreamt and hoped to have been given the land only to reject it! How will the Jews in exile answer to future generations when they ask, “Where were YOU?”

The message of the day is clear….the Jewish nation owes its independence first and foremost for the miracle G-d wrought in returning us to our homeland but secondly to the pioneers, soldiers and citizens who have and will sacrifice their lives for its existence and its future.

Please take note of the day and honor the memory of its fallen and the families left behind. Also please offer special prayers for those victims still recovering.

yom hazikaronIDF soldiers participate in a memorial ceremony on the Israeli national Memorial Day, in honor of fallen soldiers and the victims of terror attacks. Each soldier stands before the grave of a fallen serviceman.

Scheduling Yom HaZikaron right before  Yom Haatzmaut is intended to remind people of the price paid for independence and of what was achieved by the soldiers’ sacrifice. This transition shows the importance of the day among Israelis, most of whom have served in the armed forces or have a connection with people who were killed during their military service.