Aliyah, Teshuva and Israelis: What do They Share in Common?

3-questions-for-lifeAliyah, Teshuva and Israelis: What do They Share in Common?

Aliyah, teshuva and Israelis: What do they share in common? They can be:  Stressful! Scary! Humbling! Frustrating! Challenging! Hard work! Anger-Inducing!  But ultimately all three can bring us into greatness if we open ourselves up to truth.

When the initial shock of making Aliyah begins to settle in and you recognize you are living in the Middle East, surrounded by enemies, struggling to figure out every aspect of your life, one could say a pushy, direct Israeli who doesn’t mince words, is the last challenge you want. However, when you begin to understand that your association with him holds the key to your future success, it becomes vital to accept and appreciate them in order to solicit their help in moving through the maze of adjustments. In order to be successful in each endeavor, self–abnegation and reaching out for help and guidance holds the key to successful Aliyah, teshuva and learning to deal with Israelis.

Since we are in the ten days of teshuva, and the hot blog topic for many new immigrants appears to be the challenge of dealing with Israelis, I wanted to present the connection it shares with both doing teshuva, as well as making Aliyah, in the hopes that as we go into Yom Kippur or settle in as new immigrants, we make peace with all three.

Jews, as new immigrants exposed to Israelis for the first time, clearly state their aversion to being identified as Israeli, due to negative perceptions associated with Israelis. Perhaps as facts are revealed and our deeper understanding shifts, we may find teshuva is in order, due to the negative judgments we have placed on the host citizens of our new country—the place we now call home.

Aliyah, teshuva and learning to deal with Israelis are processes, whose end result is not achieved overnight. They require knowledge, awareness, honesty and a willingness to suspend self, in order to achieve a new way of being, as we strive to become better Jews by serving G-d and our nation in our ancient homeland. Maintaining shalom is imperative throughout each process, as the second Temple was destroyed as a result of baseless hatred. We have too many enemies including our yetzer hara, to create undue animosity between ourselves and our new Israeli family, as we work at settling in.

In an online business article about Europeans working with different cultures, the following observations are made based on their perception of Americans:

Americans consider themselves to be: professional, polite, boundary conscious, and respectful to others.

However, other cultures perceived Americans as: bureaucratic, artificial, self-indulgent, politically correct, people pleasers who apologize all the time, lack personal power, are spoiled as well as passive-aggressive.

On the other hand, their observations of Israelis were:

Israelis consider themselves to be: caring, creative, direct and honest while other nationalities perceived them as arrogant, stubborn, rude and pushy.

Interesting? Which perception is correct? It depends on the individual because the truth lies with our perceptions and experiences based on our own core values and personal bias. The article clarified that as time went on each group learned to value and appreciate the positive values inherent in the other cultural group, in spite of their initial negative judgment and perceived differences.

On November 29th, 1947 ,when the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish state, it was the ancestors of today’s Israelis who worked through the great struggles that ensued to create, through the grace of G-d, today’s thriving country.  Israel did not become the nation it is today by sheer luck.  Immigrants came to help build the land and the nation and their self sacrifice was enormous. They performed difficult, back breaking manual labor while at the same fighting for their lives, their land and their sovereignty. If we can begin to comprehend for one precious moment, the massive efforts required on the part of the Jewish community in Israel to establish a Jewish state and the skills and personality traits that were developed as a result of living through constant struggles and wars with enormous loss of our people both young and old, I believe, we will come to value and appreciate Israelis, as we strive to learn from them. If we can suspend misconceptions and negative judgments, we will make Aliyah, teshuva and dealing with Israelis more positive and beneficial for everyone and we will with certainty COME INTO THE LIGHT of our soul powers along with making G-ds name great.

According to published articles, as well as my own perceptions and experiences, I will enumerate the many outstanding qualities that make Israelis who they are.

Mahane_Yehuda_Market_P1020256Israelis are real!   This trait alone can jolt the inner nervous system of most unsuspecting Americans and send them back to the airport on the next plane out. I happen to be married to a New York born Jewish husband, who is very much like Israelis. (Yeah G-d, I love it).  Israelis have a genius for improvising and creating. They have brilliant minds. They have a taste for the good life but can live without it. They work hard caring for their communities. They are not afraid to be whom they are and they are not apologetic about it. They are loving and intimate with their friends and family…they establish close, life-long relationships and nourish them. They are affectionate. They have learned the art of living successfully under threats. Israeli’s are bonded by shared experiences which makes them strong. They are courageous. They are warriors. They are direct, pushy if need be, and fight for what they want and do not give up easily. They will strive mightily to figure a way to make what they want happen and they are incredibly resourceful. They are rule breakers. They are playful and love to joke and laugh. They smile easily and are full of kindness. They are warm and friendly and welcoming. They are taught to serve the community from their youth. (65% of high school students are required to do weekly community work for the full school year).

Israelis are not afraid to take risks or even fail. In America and Europe failure has a very bad name and is considered to be a liability against success. Israelis consider it a tool to simply do better.  Israelis are gutsy and not afraid to use their voice nor challenge authority. These are a few of the reasons why the Israeli start up rate is soaring. The IDF shapes the mentality of the young people in Israel to be community minded and nationally aware. Israelis are not spoiled. They work hard and play hard. They are passionate and direct and honest. They are extremely curious and creative. They are friendly and helpful if they want to be and that challenges most Americans. They do not play the game of pretending about anything. They have acquired the ability to push forward against all odds. They love to argue and to negotiate. Most will go out of their way to help you. Israelis do not always follow through on what they say they will do, but there is always a reason behind it.

The most truthful aspect of new immigrants dealing with powerful, non PC Israelis, is that when you are operating in a weakened emotional condition, and are unable to advocate for yourself, you view those who are NOT helping you in the way you need it, as the enemy. I believe the emotional volcano that has lain dormant rises to the surface and erupts in the face of the numerous settling in challenges and the culprit becomes The Israelis and/or Medinat Yisrael. This is a normal and common psychological response but can be deeply problematic if it gets out of hand. It is perfectly understandable that behaviors of others can often cause distress but it does not give us license to condemn them. In fact, when we stand unsure of ourselves, swirling in emotions, and uncertainty, feeling the deep loss of our selfhood and home connections, we tend to judge those closest at hand.

right_handMaking Aliyah, teshuvah and dealing with Israelis tends to remove all the layers of our hiddenness and our essence and character stands bare and vulnerable. They force us to face the truth of who we really are as they confront us with ourselves and break our illusions. In our discomfort, we often strive to find ways to justify our behavior or judgments in order to absolve ourselves of guilt. The key to Aliyah, teshuva and success in dealing with Israelis according to noted teacher, Rebbetzin Tzipora Heller, is to take yourself out of the center of everything. She states that most aveiras are a direct result of pride and arrogance because they cause us to see ourselves as being perfect and see others less than perfect in comparison to us.  If you choose to be intolerant towards Israelis and disparage them, this will be negatively impactful to our entire nation, for we return home to the Holy Land to build not destroy. When we approach Yom Kippur to be forgiven of our sins, we can hardly expect forgiveness if we have not been willing to forgive others. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach OBM says if you can see the good in others, it means you have merited the highest level of teshuva.

In the extraordinary Book, “Garden of Gratitude”, Rabbi Lazer Brody relates the following, “Hashem knows exactly what we need to move us into the realm of character refinement. Hashem knows that in a life of pampered pleasures, a person won’t make any character improvements and won’t fulfill even a small portion of his personal potential and certainly won’t seek Hashem. He will be light years away from teshuva and spiritual awareness. Such a person will be spoiled and weak; he will probably develop an over-inflated sense of entitlement and an intolerable personality who demand much of many people. On the other hand, life’s difficulties especially upon returning to the Holy Land, will not only strengthen a person but stimulate his search for meaning and spiritual growth.” Aliyah, teshuva and learning to deal respectfully with Israelis has the power to lead us in spiritual maturity which leads to true freedom.

To summarize:  Making Aliyah to live in Eretz HaKodesh and teshuva are two of G-ds greatest gifts to His beloved nation. Israelis are the residents of Eretz HaKodesh and have lived, worked, died and sacrificed to make it what it is today. Just as we owe Hashem an enormous debt of gratitude for our incredible land inheritance and for the chance to do teshuva, we owe our Israeli family acceptance, respect and appreciation. Just as G-d extends His love and Divine mercy through His gift of teshuva because He wants us to straighten ourselves out, we too must extend love and compassion to our Israeli family in spite of the differences. Our motivation should be love and fear of G-d. The challenge is awesome, but it is completely possible to shift perspectives and release negative judgments. Be encouraged by the fact that this is what G-d wants for our nation especially in our biblical homeland. During this time of the ten days of teshuva, G-d is asking us to carefully avoid the pitfalls of sin through positive, refined interactions with our family, friends, community and nation.

May we merit a soulful, deeply connective, and restorative Yom Kippur with a deep teshuva that enables us to accept and rise above our challenges with a renewed spirit and dedication to the King of Kings and His beloved nation in His beloved land.   May we merit to see the connection between Aliyah, teshuva and Israelis and restore each relationship to wholeness and perfect balance.

With Blessings of love and light.  Chag Sameach  Gmar Chatima Tova,   Ariella Bracha

*Note: Please refer to blog post of November of 2012, titled “Becoming Israeli” as it has additional insights which may be helpful.



Coming Clean: the Teshuva of Yom Kippur



By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

Great-Canyon-Lake-lake-wallpaper-landscape-1366x768Who doesn’t love taking a long, soothing hot shower to clean away the dirt after a long day of work? The hot water has the ability to literally wash away the grit and grime allowing us to emerge feeling wholly cleansed and miraculously restored. It feels so invigorating. What a fabulous feeling! The services and atonement on Yom Kippur can be compared to taking a shower, because they have the power to cleanse us spiritually, in a healing shower of forgiveness and renewal. Just as the body requires physical cleansing, so too the soul requires spiritual cleansing. Yom Kippur is the most elevating day of the year, the day set aside by G-d for this spiritual cleansing because the focus of the day is totally spiritual. The powerful prayers of the day have the ability to unite the body and soul due to the mandated requirements of the day.  As a result of the unifying aspects along with a heavenly effluence of divine mercy, we become spiritually transformed and cleaned from the inside out.

The opportunity to “come clean” is the greatest gift….the greatest truth we have been given and the cleaning agent is free. The cleaning agent is called teshuva and it has the most extraordinary power to cause the dirt, i.e. the wrongdoings, to yield to its cleaning ability and disappear. And yet, if we do not use this cleaning agent, the dirt remains clinging to us. It is interesting to note that the term “coming clean” really means owning up to anything that has us trapped or addicted. It means admitting to something to which it is hard to admit. “Coming clean” means getting real and getting to the core of what is preventing the dirt or stains from being removed. Often, it is the power of resistance to change and the power of admitting the truth about ourselves to ourselves, others and G-d. Remember, admitting our mistakes can be painful and yet it frees us from the agony that gnaws at our unconscious mind. When we avoid teshuva, we pay a price, as we lose an aspect of our inner vitality.

We began our cleansing teshuva process in Elul and worked through the month to remove the stains. On Rosh Hashana, we crowned HaShem as King and now on Yom Kippur, through the entire service of the day and the teshuva we do, HaShem completes the task of our atonement through His forgiveness. Interestingly, on Yom Kippur we do not shower or wash at all or anoint ourselves with oils, lotions, or creams because our bodies, through the elevation of our souls, become receptacles for G-dliness to permeate our being. No physical washing is needed as a spiritual cleansing occurs throughout the entire Yom Kippur day.

In the book, “The Song of Teshuva,” A Commentary on Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook’s Orot HaTeshuva, by Moshe Weinberger, it states in Chapter Four that “Teshuva preceded creation and is therefore the foundation of the world. Teshuva rectifies the damage and thus brings the world back to its foundation of supernal essence which is the world of freedom. The spirit of teshuva hovers in the world and gives the world all of its ability to attain beauty and glory. The Rav states, that teshuva takes place on all levels, in all worlds. Everything is returning to G-d on a progressively rising tide of teshuva, and souls grow increasingly filled with a new life, as a result of the light of teshuva entering into them. This is a continuous process and inspires people to come back to Hashem: to learn more Torah, to pray more and to perform more mitzvot. As light flows from above, from the world of teshuva that preceded creation, we work to become better.  When we do teshuva, our energy is reinvested into that treasury, that well-spring and then it comes down again more intensely and reflects back to us or to others. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches that even a person’s mere thought of teshuva can have a tremendous effect on the cosmos. This is the nature of a person’s contribution to the wellspring, to the treasury of teshuva.

Chapter five states “when a person does teshuva and rids himself of his unhealthy attributes, he is unburdened and this leads to joy. Teshuva is a form of spiritual evolution, as it is a process that takes place deep within a Jew, propelling him forward towards perfection and health. The author says teshuva is the healthiest feeling of the spirit and that the soul feels natural delight. Teshuva is a powerful, dynamic light of freedom that when achieved can shine in its fullness and strength. Without teshuva, a person could not find tranquility in the world and his spiritual life would not be able to be developed in the world. Through teshuva, the world will rise to its true revival as the new revelation will draw everyone’s heart with its splendor. Teshuva gives a person serenity and security, as it puts back together the pieces of our fragmented selves. The longing for perfection and greatness is the foundation and essence of teshuva because with the knowledge and presence of teshuva, he can move forward and perfect his life.

Chapter six states that teshuva had to precede the world because it is the foundation upon which the world is built. There are many people who view teshuva with a negative viewpoint, thinking it takes one away from life. But that cannot be, because teshuva being the foundation of life is natural and healthy.  The process of teshuva is in the nature of a wedding with the divine. Yom Kippur, the wedding day is a day of tremendous potential and unparalleled joy. This fact makes a person cry but it is not in sadness. A wedding brings with it many responsibilities which can be frightening, but it is good and creates tremendous joy.

key holeThus, we perceive that Yom Kippur: the Day of Atonement is in reality a day of complete REBIRTH on all levels. As we “come clean” with our confessions of wrongdoings, we “come clean” from G-ds gift of atonement.  Rav Kook concludes with an astonishing insight and states that “even greater than teshuva, Yom Kippur has the ability to restore man’s desire for Hashem. It has the potential to rekindle our relationship with G-d in the deepest way, if we truly desire it. Thus forgiven, cleansed and renewed, we can re-enter life in a deeper, sweeter more G-d connected way of great wholeness. We have received a spiritual infusion of holy forgiveness and sustenance that can carry us through the year enabling us to sanctify our moments with purity and spiritual richness adding great blessings to the world.

With blessings for a deep, soul attuned, awareness of the depth of Yom Kippur and all its potential to enable us to return to Hashem in complete teshuva and bring Moshiach and our beloved Beit Hamikdash. May all of Am Yisrael be written and sealed for a blessed year of only revealed good feelings completely cleansed in mind, body and soul.

With Love and gratitude, Ariella Bracha





The Pain and Pleasure of Teshuva


By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

582749main_sunrise_from_iss-4x3_946-710In our monthly Rosh Chodesh gathering of women at our home recently, the question was asked, “What is teshuvah?” In Jewish tradition, teshuva is translated as a return to the original state of balance in our relationship with HaShem and our fellow man. Teshuva is a concept of repentance whereby we atone for our sins through several stages: recognizing and admitting our wrongdoings; feeling sincere remorse and regret; a verbal expression of our wrongdoings; and doing everything in our power to undo any damage that has been done. The Torah mandates that if a specific person has been wronged, the offender must ask that person for forgiveness in order to complete their teshuva. The final stage is resolving to never commit the wrong again.

Some say teshuva is painful and others say it is pleasurable. The truth is most of our lives we operate from the pain and pleasure principle. The pain and pleasure principle was originally addressed by Sigmund Freud, a renowned Jewish psychiatrist who presented this idea in his “Project for a Scientific Psychology” in 1895. He suggests that everything we do is motivated by two fundamental desires: one is to gain pleasure and the other is to avoid pain.  How does this pain and pleasure concept show up in the teshuva process?

In an enlightening and inspiring book on the topic of teshuva titled, “Sparks of David” by Rabbi David Hertzberg zt”l, the author elaborates on a commentary of Rav Shlomo Carlebach zt”l on the book, “Orot HaTeshuvah” by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohein Kook zt”l. Three giants of Torah knowledge expound on the concept of teshuvah. I treasure this book because it simplifies the concept of teshuvah and claims it as the most natural process of being Jewish. Rav David, the author, states that most people go back to doing the same things year after year because they do not understand what true teshuvah is. He says most people relate to teshuvah as a negative experience i.e. painful, when in fact, it is the most natural thing to do i.e. pleasurable. In truth, it is an incredibly joyful experience which brings an extraordinary sense of personal renewal.

Rav Kook wanted to put an end to the myth that there is a limit to how much teshuva one can do. He specifically wrote the book, “Orot HaTeshuva (The Lights of Repentance) to show us clearly that teshuva is the most joyous experience in the world and is ongoing.  Rav Kook goes on to explain that we cannot feel that teshuva is something we are being forced to do because he says it is the most natural means for a person to return to being who they really are as a Jew. Once a Jew is in that new place, he will feel great about himself and that is ultimately the whole point of teshuva. Rav Shlomo once asked a man, “Why are you so sad?” He answered,” Because I am doing teshuva!” The Rav goes on to explain that if the man is so miserable doing teshuva, then he is obviously not doing teshuva. The mitzvah of teshuva should give us so much joy that there is no question in our mind that this is what we want to do, so that we can return to the “Land of our Soul” as Rav Shlomo Carlebach loved to say. Reb Shlomo saw teshuva as causing our souls to become incredibly alive. Rav Kook says the whole idea of teshuva is about reconnecting.

The Ba’al ShemTov said that one of the signs of our reconnection is how much we love other people. That’s the real test. He explains that the closer one gets to HaShem, the more we see that everyone is made in G-ds image. If we are disconnected from Hashem then we don’t really feel a connection to other people. Rav David says that if I am doing teshuva and it keeps drawing me further away from people, and I don’t have any way to relate to them anymore, my teshuva is flawed.

Another factor in the teshuva process is guilt. It is not Torah mandated that we constantly walk around feeling guilty and beating ourselves up over our guilt. This is considered unhealthy and destructive and is in fact counter-productive. On the other hand Rav Shlomo says that the ability to feel guilty and the ability to fix oneself go hand in hand. He continues, saying that the biggest malady of the ba’al teshuva world is that they are so obsessed by all the things they did wrong, they become depressed and this defeats the whole purpose of teshuva. Rav Shlomo reminds us that we cannot remain stuck in old sins for which we keep repenting year after year like a broken record. Rav Kook says we have to speak directly to HaShem and we have to be filled with joy for the privilege to do so. He also says we have to know what to fix. The point is to take stock, do teshuva and move on. We are supposed to use our guilt to admit the sin which then makes us a better person and lifts us up. What could be better?

Rav David states very strongly that we must know and accept that the essence of teshuva is that when I come to G-d, He is loving and compassionate and He forgives me in one second if I ask with all my heart. Rav kook says that the Torah promises that those who return from transgression will be forgiven. The words of the prophets are filled with lofty ideas in regards to teshuva because no one is perfect and G-d understands this better than anyone.

So why is teshuva a positive experience? As Rav David says, if I do it, I am becoming a better person and that feels great. Then I am imbued with amazing desire, strength and belief knowing I CAN turn to HaShem and He forgives me. The end result of teshuva is extremely dramatic, as we begin to understand who we really are, what we have done, what we are supposed to be doing and how it affects us and the entire world on a cosmic level. This entire experience of teshuva has the ultimate power to transform our sins into merits as Rav Kook says and “to reach the most beautiful, awesomely gorgeous heights like touching spiritual lightning.”

I recommend this 235 page book titled,” Sparks of David” by Rabbi David Herzberg which I have been quoting. It can be purchased at Pomeranz bookstore in Jerusalem for $15.95. It is another great companion for the artful work of teshuva.

My dear friends, I bless you with the deepest longing to get on board that teshuva train and have the ride of your life as you connect to your inner landscape and claim all its magnificence. Ariella Bracha


The Making of a Man: a Teshuva Story


By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

I have made a lot of things in my life: beds, meals, deserts, a dress, and of course mistakes, due to being 65 years of age, but I never imagined I would be immersed in the process of the making of a man. I know from the Holy Bible that G-d made man, Adam, from the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life. I had plenty of dust from the winds blowing through our apartment in the old city of Jerusalem, but that wasn’t what I would be using for my creation. I would be using the multi-dimensional Elul blend of teshuva for my personal creation and I would hopefully be breathing new life into him. I bet you are wondering who this man is that I am referring to. It is my husband whom I would be giving a spiritual make-over after my own personal teshuva make-over completed itself. Psychology and Jewish mussar teach that we should not attempt to make over anyone nor change anyone. WE CANNOT WORK ON ANYONE BUT OURSELVES! I know this to be true.   I had no specific plan or goal in the realm of changing my husband. What actually occurred was completely unplanned, manifesting itself from the ashes of conflict arising from my people pleasing nature.

Actually, it happened by Divine will. We were living in the Jewish Quarter of the Old city of Jerusalem—our eternal capital. We had been having lots of guests for Shabbat and I had been divinely guided to a remarkable class my first week of Aliyah. The teacher stated that every time we react to a situation, we must be aware that it was tailor made for us, (not the other person) to grow in the way we need to grow.  I knew I was in for a spiritual overhaul after having lived outside the Land for so long.  I had learned that one doesn’t get to live in the holiest place in the world without challenges relating to character development and refinement. I just didn’t know what direction my personal refinement would take.

My husband and I came to Israel with a solid, relatively sound, harmonious marriage. We were used to being together because we both worked from home. We enjoyed our time together and had fun exploring and doing the mundane things couples do.  Soon after making Aliyah, we began having lots of guests on Shabbat, as we wanted to share our great good fortune. As you may realize, the more guests, the more tests, especially if there is a large number from varied backgrounds. My nature is the spiritual, peacemaker, social director, comforter, and keeping the conversation going type.  My husband is the protector, provider, cave man, extremely direct, assertive ex-lawyer, warm and funny until his red line is crossed kind of guy (whom I adore). He is Mr. Real!

Hashem began sending us lots of strong, feminist type women as guests and fireworks began to explode on the scene, so to speak. For some reason, these women were giving my husband a rough time at his own Shabbat table, challenging every word that came out of his mouth and actually being quite rude.  I was sitting there giving HIM the dirty looks and kicking HIM under the table to be quiet. Now friends, I love Shabbat with all my heart and I strive mightily to honor her in the deepest ways and I love my husband, but he was really annoying me with his behavior towards these women guests. After all, I have a strong affinity for women, as I was raised in a family of 7 girls and had 9 aunts from my mother’s side whom I treasured. I have two daughters of my own and I just really enjoy the company of women.

One Shabbat after the guests had deserted the battlefield of our house, my husband looked at me with pain etched in his face and said, “Tell me, why are you standing up for these women, who are complete strangers, and not standing up for me, your husband?” I was in shock at the truth of what he was saying and it hit me hard, like a baseball between the eyes. He knew the answer, but didn’t want to embarrass me with the truth.  I was a people pleaser and it was not only causing him pain but it was disrupting our Shabbat experience and bringing negativity into our holy home.

I felt sick at the revelation of the truth and I wasn’t sure what to do other than cry. I had deeply hurt my husband over an extended period of time without realizing it. I felt as if I had worked on myself a lot over the years, after all I was 54 at this time. But the inner resonance of what my husband was saying rang true and I knew I had work to do in the realm of people pleasing. I also knew that G-d had kindly brought it to my attention, so I could address the truth and no longer hide or pretend. I prayed with all my heart that G-d would guide me to the solution quickly, so I could shift the dynamic, to a healthy one. As you may or may not realize, answers to prayers in the Holy Land seem to sometimes manifest at lightning speed and this was no exception. Shortly thereafter, I was divinely guided to a class on marriage. The essential teaching, from a Torah guidance book on marriage, was that our husbands must be given kavod (Honor) in order to feel loved and valued.  I had honestly never heard of the Torah concept of giving our husbands kavod!   As I sat there, hearing all the stories of women negating their primary relationship with their spouse for their jobs, or friends, or children or Shabbat guests among others, I was stunned on one hand and grateful on the other hand, that I wasn’t the only one lacking this basic knowledge. The concept was new to many of the mostly American women in the class and we all required re-training to make the shift.

As I began to honestly look at the ways I had discounted my husband’s feelings and not given him the honor befitting a Jewish husband, I felt deeply ashamed. As a result of being humbled by this revelation, a new strength of spirit began to emerge from within me. A newfound desire began to arise and I made up my mind that I wanted my greatest claim to fame, so to speak, to be my marriage.  I was willing to do whatever it took to live that claim and own that core value which I was adopting. Judaism considers the woman to be the spiritual foundation of the home and this class was giving me the wisdom and guidance to become that foundation. I wanted it for myself in a big way, not for greatness but for blessing because the Torah perceives the relationship of the couple to be sacred.


As G-ds divine timing would have it, this situation was occurring in Elul—the month of teshuva and renewal.  In a dynamic book entitled, “The Twelve Dimensions of Israel” by Nechama Sarah Nadborny, she writes the following which resonates deeply with my soul: “In order to implement the process of teshuva or self-reclamation, we must ask forgiveness from those we have wronged. Through this very sensitive and delicate interaction, we help ourselves and others reclaim self-worth and dignity. Too often, when we try to smooth out our relationships, we are met with anger from those who feel guilty and do not wish to acknowledge their mistakes. During these moments, we are especially challenged to retain our dignity. This is exactly what we sacrificed when our actions, reactions and interactions were not guided by the wisdom of the Torah and we passed judgment on one another.”

She continues: “Although acknowledging and admitting our mistakes may be painful, it frees us from depression which gnaws at the unconscious where we refuse to face the issues head on. Only our conscious relationship to our mistakes as well as our past experiences may allow their negative effects to disappear. As we develop healthy, meaningful relationships in which we are committed to growing together, sincere apologies come more easily. As we become more real with each other, pride is sacrificed for the sake of sharing higher levels of consciousness rooted in love and compassion.” This was exactly what was occurring as I admitted the truth to myself and to my husband. I was becoming more real to myself and my life and marriage took on new shape and direction.

With the truth and strength of teshuva taking hold, I approached my husband and with a heart full of love and a newfound ability to give him honor, I looked him in the eyes and asked his forgiveness for the many times I had discounted his feelings and dishonored his role in the home by making others more important than him. My tears fell with depth and clarity as a power so strong and pure claimed my heart and soul. And the shadows of doubt, both his and mine, fell away and left our presence.

From that point onward, my husband, trusting in the honor that I was lovingly bestowing upon him, began to emerge as his true self. As the shadows of false expectations and people pleasing on my part lost their hold, and I began to lovingly honor him, his true leadership abilities and decision making skills manifested. He took hold of his new power like an eagle to the sky soaring gracefully and wondrously through the safety of our harmonious marriage. I took the dust of my past mistakes and by doing teshuva, breathed new life into my husband thus making him a man. What a privilege! What a joy!

In the Kabbalistic Book, “Apples in The Orchard,” a commentary on the Parsha by the Arizal, it is explained that the true coupling of male and female is  a cross-fertilization of attitudes and orientations of consciousness stimulated by communications and discussions. The procreative organ receives its true ability to be fruitful and couple when it is in tune with the spiritual dimension of the individual’s mind because the intellect is what allows for a perspective higher than total self-orientation. The Arizal states, “When the consciousness of the couple matures and they turn to each other in order to relate on a deeper level, the effect of their heightened relationship will spill over into all elements that make up life in their house.” As my husband and I began to converse more, spend quality time together and relate respectfully  to each other’s differences, inspiration became more manifest in our lives and the joy of our deeper togetherness blossomed. As I bestowed honor on my husband, he gifted me with royalty: he became the King and I his Queen and with G-ds help, we will live happily ever after in G-ds Beloved Palace.

And so it was, that coming home to Israel, with all its trials and tribulations gifted me with the MAKING OF A MAN—MY BELOVED PARTNER—AVRAHAM BEN EMMANUEL!