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.

Yom HaShoah: Earth Shaking Echoes of Pain Wracked Bodies

Yom-Hashoah2Yom HaShoah: Earth Shaking Echoes of Pain Wracked Bodies

by Ariella Bracha Waldinger

The day of REMEMBERING begins at night with the piercing scream of the siren…a time when silence reigns and earth shaking echoes of pain wracked bodies send seismic shock waves into the atmosphere.

Words become too few and too narrow to speak, when one attempts to express the raw pain of the grief-filled, heart stopping, blood curdling suffering of the nation of Israel during the horrific chapter called Shoah…Holocaust.

The word Holocaust lends itself to the echoes of the death camps where Jewish life was as cheap as disposable dishes or the garbage that clings to them.

The pain vibrating from then until now and into the future, forcefully imposes itself and cracks the foundations of one’s status quo, as one is horrifically reminded of a time when the world had gone mad!

During each and every day of the Jews’ incarceration, the innocent victims watched the shadows deepen, as the death knoll beckoned to them and their loved ones… innocent victims whose only sin was being a Jew… one of G-ds chosen people.

Disintegration was its name!

Destruction of the Jewish nation was its game,

And the whole world was to blame…WHERE IS THE ETERNAL SHAME?

Jews, Beaten into submission…NO RESPITE, NO SAFETY. BRUTALITY REIGNING!

Possessions confiscated,

People snatched off the street never to return,

Hearts and souls violently pierced like a commonplace earlobe waiting for an adornment.

Killing, maiming or destroying a Jew was like an Olympic event to be boasted and bragged about to the co-conspirators.

A hell on earth NO HUMAN CAN COMPREHEND but IT HAPPENED. IT IS AS REAL AS THE NOSE ON YOUR FACE.

And when they were robbed of safety and all that life held dear,

And their world consisted of burning, DEVASTATING hunger and great and mind consuming fear….

THE WORLD WAS SILENT.

And when the Jewish people tried with all their might to get the help they needed,

All the nations looked aside, as their horrific pleas of mercy went unheeded.

In the end, the soul-searing silence of aloneness permeated the depth of their souls, as the earth shaking echoes of pain wracked bodies subsided into the silent world of Jewish consciousness.

Dear Jewish family, let us not be silent to our nation’s pain during this horrific chapter!

Let us use this Remembrance Day in an honorable way and pray and pray and pray!

That we, the Jewish nation rise above the modern day would-be assassins, and claim our strength and power as noble inheritors of G-ds blueprint for life…

through clinging to our Torah and choosing to live in our Biblical Land, where we can truly bring honor to G-ds name and keep alive the memory of those holy souls who perished in the Holocaust.

Please light a candle and give charity on behalf of the more than 6 million.

Carrying Egypt Within

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Carrying Egypt Within: The Curse of Bondage

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

We carry Egypt within us through the doubts we feel,

 Or by denying our greatness as Jews is real,

Or not believing that a spiritual life has true appeal,

Or forgetting that Shabbat is our covenantal seal!

 

We carry Egypt within us when we shove our Jewish values aside,

Or don’t feel our Jewish Pride,

Or Stay in Exile and hide,

Or refuse to take our Country’s side.

 

We carry Egypt within us when we forget our Jewish reason for being,

Don’t understand the things we are seeing,

Or strive for a life that isn’t spiritually freeing.

 

We carry Egypt within when we disconnect from our nation,

Don’t honor the rituals of Jewish celebration,

Or live our lives in spiritual stagnation.

 

But when we remove Egypt from our midst,

We can dance with our soul,

Become more whole,

Play our true role.

 

We can claim our Torah crown,

Become more renown,

Beat the enemy down,

And stop wearing a frown.

 

We can glitter like a star,

As we learn who we really are,

 

Give G-d True Glory,

By remembering the message of the Passover Story

Don’t carry Egypt within,

Cause you will never win.

 STEP OUT OF DARKNESS AND COME INTO THE LIGHT THROUGH THE TEACHINGS OF THE HOLY SEDER ON PASSOVER NIGHT.

 

 

 

 

 

King of the Months: Nisan—the Month of Miracles

27242_165King of the Months: Nisan—the Month of Miracles

by Ariella Bracha Waldinger

Did you know that Nisan is called the “King of the Months?” Nisan, by definition is the month of miracles because its root is from the Hebrew word Nes, which means miracle. It is the month of nessim—miracles. This alludes to the many miracles performed by G-d for our ancestors in Egypt, as well as  for the Jewish nation during their journey to the Promised Land.

Where do we find the term “King of the Months?” The Bnei Yissaschar teaches that because Nisan corresponds to the tribe of Yehudah, the tribe chosen for royalty, as well as it’s designation as the first month, Nisan became King over all the other months. In fact the other months of the year are numbered starting with Nisan as the first.  Also, according to the Mishnah, Nisan marks the New Year for the counting of the Rule of Kings.

The book, Yalkut Yosef, Hilchot Pesach, based on the teachings and halachic decisions of Rav Ovadia Yosef OBM, informs us of a teaching of the Maharil. “He teaches that Nisan is the King of Months primarily because of the festival of Passover. Additionally, the Lehorot Natan on Parashat Shemini, page 64 adds that when the Exodus took place, manifesting miracles far beyond the laws of nature, it was implying that a King can break the rules at any time and no one can object.  Since these wondrous miracles which wielded the Greatest Miracle in history were performed by the King of Kings and took place in the month of Nisan, the month is endowed with the title and quality of Kingship.

tovotRosh Chodesh Nisan (the first of Nisan) is blessed with ten sparkling crowns, personified by ten events, which also allude to its Kingly character. On this auspicious date, the Sanctuary in the wilderness, built by the Israelites, was inaugurated and became a fitting resting place for G-ds Divine presence—the Shechinah. “So great was the glory of G-d that covered the Sanctuary, that even Moses was afraid to enter.” (Stone Chumash commentary on Vayikra)

The ten events by which Nisan was honored are:

  1. Creation was completed
  2. Nachshon, Prince of the tribe of Yehudah brought his inauguration offering to the sanctuary
  3. Aharon was anointed and began his duties as High Priest (Kohein)
  4. The first communal offerings were brought
  5. Holy Fire descended from Heaven to rest upon the holy Altar
  6. Sacrificial portions were eaten by the priests in designated areas
  7. The Divine Presence i.e., the glory of G-d, known as the Shechinah, rested her presence on the Sanctuary
  8. Aharon as the High priest blessed the nation with the first Kohanic Blessing, which is still recited today
  9. The ability to sacrifice on private altars became forbidden
  10. The day was designated as Rosh Chodesh and the month henceforth became the first month of the year

(Shmot:12:1-2) Our sages also teach that numerous sections of the Torah were revealed on this date.

There is a Midrash on Parshat Shemini (The Midrash Says) that teaches

“there is a link between the final day of the Sanctuary’s inauguration and the first day of the creation of the world. From the beginning of Creation until the Shechinah, G-ds Divine Presence, descended to rest upon the Sanctuary, the universe lacked spiritual perfection. On this day, the aim and purpose of Creation was realized. Therefore the day was honored specifically with ten events to indicate that the final Inauguration day of the Mishkan (the Sanctuary) was of no lesser importance than the day on which the universe came into being. Therefore, just as the world had been created by ten Divine pronouncements, so was the consecration of the Mishkan marked by ten outstanding features.”

Rabbi Zvi Ryman in his book, “The Wisdom of the Hebrew Months” teaches the following: On Rosh Chodesh Nisan, HaShem commanded Moshe to instruct the Jewish people to take a sheep (one of the G-ds of Egypt) and tie it to their bedposts, in full view of the Egyptians. How scary? The Jewish people would later slaughter it as a Korban Pesach (Passover offering) in order to be redeemed. Moshe himself, asked G-d how He could request this of the Jews, who could likely be stoned to death by the Egyptians for killing their G-ds. HaShem answered Moses, saying “By your life, they will not leave Egypt unless they slaughter the sheep before the eyes of the Egyptians, thus proving that the gentiles’ idols are powerless.” Who can fathom the courage and self sacrifice required of a people who had so recently been subservient to the Egyptians and now had to boldly slaughter the gods of their former masters?” This aspect of self sacrifice, in order to perform G-ds will, teaches us the essence of the Jewish people which is at the root of their souls.

An additional factor relating to the kingly nature of Nisan is related in the Talmud, where it teaches that according to Rebbe Yehoshua ben Hananya, our forefathers, the patriarchs, were born and passed away during the month of Nisan. Their emergence into the world brought great spiritual bounty, as well as powerful Divine emanations. This aspect provides a power boost to the already dynamic month of Nisan.

Just thinking about the arrival of the month of Nisan, The King of Months, excites me in both an emotional and spiritual way because Passover is my favorite Jewish holiday. I cherish the epic, dramatic Redemption from bondage which G-d wrought on behalf of his beloved nation. I never tire of the story and I love learning more about its depth of meaning embedded in the month and the holiday. It arouses within me an intense passion for my nation, my G-d and His gift of the Holy Land.

May you greet Nisan in a deeper way, as the powerful aspect of Kingship becomes revealed. As a result, may you see yourself as possessing royalty—sons and daughters of the King of Kings gifted with the mantle of royalty. May you savor every aspect of the royal month of Nisan and enter into the grandeur of Seder night in a joyful and elevated way. May you celebrate the nobility of our people as you partake of the Seder foods and perform the many beautiful rituals.

With love, Ariella Bracha

P.S. JUST A REMINDER: As a result of the dedication of the Sanctuary in the desert on the first of Nisan, the Princes of the twelve tribes began bringing their tribal offerings. Therefore, it is highly commendable to commemorate the Sanctuary’s inauguration by reading the verses taken from the section of the Torah (Parsha Naso, in the book of Bamidbar) describing the offerings brought by the tribal princes. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/495713/jewish/The-Nasi.htm

 

Behold the Glory: Rosh Chodesh

Surreal_World_2008_by_riolcrtBehold the Glory: Rosh Chodesh

by Ariella Bracha Waldinger

Behold the glory of Rosh Chodesh, because in ancient times, it occupied an exalted position in the matters of public life. The Hebrew word for month is “chodesh,” which also means newness. Rosh means head. If you think about it, the head of anything denotes great importance i.e., the head of a company, the head of the Sanhedrin. Therefore, the day of Rosh Chodesh, which serves as the head or beginning of the month, declares its newness, as the day approaches and also instructs us about its importance.

In Temple times, the day itself was declared in a festive manner. The head of the Beit Din would declare, “Sanctified” and all Jews in attendance would declare “SANCTIFIED, SANCTIFIED!” (Mishnah, Rosh Hashanah 3:1). Afterwards, the Rosh Chodesh sacrifices were offered on the altar in the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple). The offerings were accompanied by the amazing sounds of the silver trumpets piercing the airwaves, along with the extraordinary, uplifting soul song of the Levite choir. Additionally, the incense offering contributed to an extraordinary, visual air show, as its fragrance not only perfumed the air but rose upwards to Heaven for all to see.  Can you picture it? The extraordinary festivities of the Jewish nation gathered together and the depth of meaning arising from the rituals being performed on this special and sacred day?

Rosh Chodesh was the first commandment given to the Jews in Egypt, even before they had been liberated (Shmot 12:2). It was an extraordinary and loving gift from G-d because it gave the Jews the gift of time, along with their own calendar. This signified G-d’s trust in them and His desire to empower them after generations of slavery. It also taught the importance of time.

Rosh Chodesh is also a monthly call to emulate the moon, to whom the Jews are compared. Just as the moon is renewed each month, so too the Jewish people are given a new opportunity each month to make amends, improve their lives and ultimately draw closer to serving the King of Kings.

What is so important about Rosh Chodesh?  I will quote the exact words from the The Biala Rebbe in his book “MEVASER TOV, THE MERIT OF THE RIGHTEOUS WOMEN”, so I do not dilute its power, truth and beauty. He writes the following:

“There are two essential facets to Rosh Chodesh. One is that it encompasses the potential for all that will occur in the following month. Additionally and most importantly, Rosh Chodesh is a time of renewal, a new face to time, in which the world is transformed from one state of being to another. A new reality is conceived, which never existed before. The power of Rosh Chodesh is so great that it acts retroactively, bestowing on the day that precedes it, the title “Yom Kippur Katan” which means the small Yom Kippur.”

This teaching serves as an instruction for us to seek atonement, akin to the day of Yom Kippur itself, in order to become worthy recipients of the blessings and Divine light that will emerge in the new month.

According to the Rebbe, few people understand the extraordinary hidden power waiting to become manifest in the time frame of Rosh Chodesh. To my astonishment, The Rebbe writes that

“According to the Zohar (Terumah 150b), the fires of Gehinnom cease on Rosh Chodesh.”  This is as a result of its nature as a powerful protective force. He continues, “Rosh Chodesh is not mundane at all and its spiritual influence is greater even than Yom Tov, as shown by its powers to cool Gehinnom. Rosh Chodesh touches the very roots of our soul, in a subtle and hidden way. It is the apparently mundane, hidden nature of Rosh Chodesh that enables its holiness to be transmitted through what would otherwise appear to be an ordinary day. At present its powers are concealed, thus magnifying its power.”

According to the Kabbalah, each month offers new energies which equate to new opportunities to actualize our potential. According to Sefer Yetzirah,(The Book of Formation), each month of the Jewish calendar has a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, a Zodiac sign, one of the twelve tribes, a sense, and a controlling limb of the body that corresponds to it. Each of these aspects is a channel that opens and becomes manifest at the arrival of Rosh Chodesh.  Through tapping into these openings, we can access the deepest wisdom and achieve transformation.

It appears that today, the celebratory aspect of Rosh Chodesh has lost its deep significance, due to the loss of the Beit Hamikdash. Rosh Chodesh however, should not be taken lightly, even with the absence of the Holy Temple and its importance should not be downplayed. Rosh Chodesh is likened to the festivals themselves. (Bamidbar10:10) Chazal teaches in Shavuos 10a that Rosh Chodesh itself is called a festival. The prophets compared it to Shabbat (Yeshaya 66:23).

The Mishnah Berurah writes that one who spends money on Rosh Chodesh feasts is praiseworthy. Also, in a chapter of the Shulchan Aruch that contains only one law, it teaches that “it is a mitzvah to enhance Rosh Chodesh meals.”

I believe that through our awakened comprehension of the greatness of the day, we can truly “BEHOLD THE GLORY OF ROSH CHODESH,” A Divine Gift from G-d Himself to the Jewish People. We can strive to restore it to an aspect of its former glory, by honoring it and celebrating the day in special and unique ways. We can tap into its hidden spiritual dynamite and dramatically benefit our souls and our nation and most importantly, deeply express our gratitude to The HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The next Rosh Chodesh is Friday night (Shabbat) April 8th.

With Blessings of love, light and awareness of all G-d’s magnificent gifts to us and all the world. Ariella Bracha Waldinger

 

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The Purim Masquerade: Nothing is as it seems

purimshpielThe Purim Masquerade: Nothing is as it seems

Our Rabbis teach that we wear costumes and disguise ourselves on Purim because nothing is as it seems.

Purim is all about THE MASQUERADE! We also wear costumes for several other very important reasons:

  1. because the miracle of Purim was disguised in natural events and dressing in costume alludes to this fact
  2. The Talmud (Megillah 12a) writes that the Jews at the time were actually pretending to serve other gods, therefore G-d pretended HE would destroy the Jewish people, and miraculously, HE did not. Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Shapiro, the Bnei Yissaschar (vol.2 on Adar) writes this is the reason we pretend to be someone else on Purim, since the Jews as well as G-ds actions were masked by other intentions.
  3. to commemorate Mordechai being dressed in the King’s royal garments as his reward for saving the King’s life.

zorroAnother reason for wearing a costume on Purim is because it ties us into the Purim celebration and festivities. I love the energy of celebrations especially holy ones. Fortunately, Praise G-d, I have an extraordinary husband who goes along with my Purim playfulness and also dresses in costume, even when he doesn’t feel like it.  This year my husband is dressing as a dashing black-clad masked man and I am dressing as his partner, the mysterious golden masked woman of valor and we both share the same identity…….ZORRO….I GUESS I AM ZORRAH. Anyway, what’s that all about, you might ask?  See if you can figure it out on your own but if not, I will give you a clue. It has to do with all the tyrannical villains roaming our Holy Land and killing innocent Jews.

20160320_140227Zorro, which means fox in Spanish, was a fictional character of Spanish nobility who cunningly defended his nation from the villains. Avraham, my husband, represents the heroic Zorro and I, his beloved wife, represents the female version and am known as Zorrah. We are devoted partners who fight heroically to defend the Chosen Nation of G-d, the Jews in G-ds beloved Palace. We are cunning as foxes with keen observation skills. We blend into the environment and lead normal lives in the community. However, when tyranny arises, and heroes and heroines are needed, we step out of our ordinary lives, cloak ourselves in our camouflage and artfully and skillfully, go after the bad guys.

I find it fascinating to reflect on the fact that truly, my soul intuition chose this costume, as an inner arousal made itself known to me. I am even more stunned by my deep inner, passionate longing to be a warrior for G-d in our Biblical homeland. Even more-so, this particular character, clearly represents the current Purim story manifesting in our Holy Land.  And I believe it represents a cosmic longing by most people to don their inner warrior garb, defeat the enemy and live in peace not just in Israel but throughout the world.

From the time I was a child, I loved playing dress-up and masquerading as something or someone other than whom I was. Don’t get me wrong, I liked who I was but I loved the somewhat mysterious and adventuresome idea of the game of masquerade. It intrigued me and excited me. It brought out my inquisitive and playful nature as well. From the deepest place, I believe masquerading and wearing costumes is all about inner exploration and transformation.

As an adult, I love flexing my creative muscles and imagination. I love taking on new roles and trying on new and starkly different identities that teach me about myself. My first Purim in Israel, I dressed as a wizard with a beautiful magic wand. This was a very unusual choice for me because, I wore all black and normally I dress very colorfully. A wise friend taught me that a costume reveals an inner desire or longing wanting to be revealed. I reflected on her insights and the truth of my choice of costume did reveal itself. I had met many people at the Kotel (Western Wall) praying for various difficult issues. I felt their pain and deeply desired to wave a magic wand and take away their heartache and suffering. I hadn’t realized how deeply I had been affected until I examined the hidden meaning behind my choice of costume.

The next Purim, I was deeply drawn to a beautiful butterfly costume. There was simply no other choice for me to make. I realized my inner reality was transforming and I was emerging from the pain and sadness I had felt the year before. Personal growth along with faith and trust in G-d had brought about the transformation and I embraced my beautiful butterfly with intense joy.

Purim is the most joyous festival on the Jewish calendar and is celebrated by almost every Jew at some level and in their way. Children especially love the merriment and fun. Store-keepers say it’s their favorite time of year. To some people, it may seem frivolous but hidden inside the joy and frivolity of the Purim Masquerade is the dynamic life teaching: “NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS.”

Purim Sameach to all of KLAL YISRAEL. May we strive to comprehend on the deepest level that HaShem is always communicating with us through everything that is happening in our lives, especially all the good.  May gratitude spill out of our hearts and mouths constantly.

I will close with the soul stirring words of Av HaRachamim:

May the Father of compassion have mercy on the people that is borne by HIM, and may HE remember the covenant of the spiritually mighty. May HE rescue our souls from the bad times, and upbraid the evil inclination to leave those borne by HIM, graciously make us an eternal remnant and fulfill our requests in good measure, for salvation and mercy…Amen

ENJOY PURIM AND DRESS UP AND CELEBRATE WITH LOVE AND BLESSINGS, ARIELLA BRACHA

This essay is dedicated to Shimon Ben Avraham who passed away today. He was definitely a ZORRO