Tag Archives: prayer

The Chief Rabbi’s Prayer for Haiti

To be recited this Shabbat. Will your shul recite it? (OK granted this was distributed to shuls in the UK, but there is no reason other shuls cannot adopt this prayer)

Adon ha-olamim

Sovereign of the universe,

We join our prayers to the prayers of others throughout the world, for the victims of the earthquake which brought destruction and disaster to Haiti and took so many lives.

Almighty God, we beseech you, send comfort to the bereaved, and healing to the injured.

Be with those who are engaged in the work of rescue. Grant strength to those who see to the needs of the injured and sick, give shelter to the homeless, and who provide sustenance to those in need.

Almighty God, we recognise how insignificant we are, and how helpless in the face of nature when its full power is unleashed.

Open our hearts in prayer and our hands in generosity, so that by our actions we may bring comfort, healing and support.

Help us now and all humanity as we seek to do what we can by helping people reconstruct their broken lives.

Ken Yehi Ratzon, ve-nomar.

Amen.

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Be Quiet, for God’s Sake!

I don’t know about you but I like the whole davening in shul thing. I like the liturgy, a touch of chazanut, a shtickle Carlebach niggun, a good speech from the rabbi, and I am uplifted. Add in a decent kiddush after services, and I am good to go. I usually only get to shul Shabbat morning, so I really cherish my shul time.

Every shul is different with what level of background noise it will tolerate. I have heard of men being bodily ejected from shul because they were flapping their gums too much. Some shuls insist on silence only during Torah reading and the rabbi’s speech, other shuls there is a constant hum of conversation.

I can socialize after shul. Catch up on the latest gossip or shoe sales or sports stats or what-have-you. To me, that’s what a Kiddush is for. Why do people find it necessary to talk during shul? That is your time to pray to God.

“Sorry, God. Hold on a minute, God, Jay has to tell me what happened on the ninth hole erev Shabbat, I wouldn’t disrupt this one way conversation unless it was important”.

Seriously, have we become so jaded that talking in shul is normal? Look, I am not perfect, and have been known to talk in shul, but I really do try not to. There are some people, though, that spend the entire davening deep in conversation with their neighbour, barely pausing to daven the swiftest Amidah ever before they resume their discussion on the healthcare system, how they think Tiger Woods scored that hole in one, or that cute blonde that just walked in, or the rebbetzin who is looking a little heavy around the middle again, and her baby is only 11 months old!!

People! You are standing in a house of worship! You have come there to daven, to pray to God, to thank him for your abundant blessings and ask him to cure your aunt Millie and put more money in your bank account. Yet, in the middle of all that praising and supplication you press PAUSE so you can chit chat? Who do you think you are? No one tells God to wait. No one, not even Moses, can get away with that.

What if, in the middle of you talking to your neighbour, God decides He wants to talk to you? You won’t pick up on that because you have closed your spiritual pathways to talk to your friend. Hey, maybe God wants to tell you what lottery numbers to play this week but you are too busy talking about the Yankees that you won’t get the message. He wanted to answer your prayers but you let Him go to voice mail.

How hard is it to stop talking in shul, except to God? In a courtroom no one dares to speak. No one, or they are in contempt which means a fine. Or prison time. Or both. And the Judge is a human being, yet no one would dare make a cellphone call in the midst of a legal argument. The idea of talking in shul should be just as terrifying if not more.

We are standing there in front of God, and communally we are showing Him major disrespect. I would like to be able to daven in peace in shul, not be disturbed by inane chatter, whispering and giggling. Not have to hear the Gabbai pound on the Bima and say “we shall only continue when there is silence” – there should be silence as a matter of course.

We are coming up on Rosh Hashannah, and of course everyone will be silent in shul, as they will on Yom Kippur. We are being judged, of course we are going to be quiet. Come on, what a crock! God knows that we talked in shul last week and missed all the leining. God knows that we are going to talk next week in shul and the week after, and that we have no intention of shutting up in shul. Except the Day of Judgment. Because, you know, maybe we can pull the wool over His eyes. Give me a break. Stop talking now and stick to it, and concentrate on your prayers. Maybe, just maybe, you will reconnect with your inner spirituality. It won’t bring you the Maserati you have been dreaming of, but maybe you will sleep better at night.

I know that I am making a commitment to be quiet in shul from now on. I want to connect with God. I don’t want to just say words, I want to mean them and reflect on them. Don’t you be the one in shul to ruin my kavannah. God has a lot more up His proverbial sleeve that I have.

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The Power of Prayer…Highway Edition.

I had a real goosebump moment this morning, and I wanted to share it with you. (KoD please don’t get mad that I didn’t tell you when it happened – I am fine and you would only have worried about me for the rest of my drive home. I am telling you now, so that counts, right?)

So I left the house at about 8:15 this morning and by 8:30 was tootling along the thruway trying valiantly not to shed the tears brimming in my eyes at the thought of again being parted from the KoD. I stopped to fill up with gas just before exit 16 and carried on.

Once I pass exit 16 I usually say Tefillat Haderech – the prayer to keep travelers safe. I have said it so often that I know it by heart by now.

There are a lot of trucks on the thruway and one always has to be extremely aware of them, because of their size, if they make a mistake it could have terrible consequences.

I had just finished saying Tefillat Haderech when I noticed a humongous truck moving up to pass me. Fine. Pass me. You are bigger. It’s ok. The truck hadn’t even passed me when he started veering into my lane. I had that terrible feeling of dread rise up in the back of my throat. Of course I blasted him with my horn while slamming on the brakes, not too severely as there was a car behind me, but luckily he saw what was going on and also braked. It seemed to take forever for the trucker to get the message (if he even got it), and life just went slow motion. I was so scared. All I could think about was what would my loved ones do if I G-d Forbid got hurt.

He ended up missing my front bumper (fender?) by mere inches. I think it took a full 15 minutes for my heart to slow down to normal. I didn’t stay behind this yutz for too long, I was just too scared of what might happen next. I passed him as soon as I could but the whole rest of the way I was almost paranoid every time I passed a truck or a truck passed me.

I truly believe in the timing of my prayer. Had I not said Tefillat Haderech when I did, …..I cannot even finish that sentence. I don’t think the trucker even realized that he almost caused an accident. Sometimes I wonder if they shouldn’t just make separate highways just for trucks.

Baruch Hashem – Thank G-d no one was hurt. That’s the main thing.

The Power of Prayer

 

 

Last week on Thursday we left Montreal for Monsey just for the weekend. Having started the whole immigration process we were told that it was quite possible we would NOT be permitted to enter the United States. Once a name is in the system, I guess they are concerned about us moving down illegally and living there without being given the USA immigration seal of approval. (It’s the people that do it illegally that could ruin it for the honest folk).

 

I was advised to bring proof that I have a life to come back to in Montreal, and hopefully that would help in allowing us into the country for a few days. So – how do you prove you have a life to come back to?

 

I prepared well. I found the copy of my lease – however, my lease was written specifically for the first year that we lived in the apartment. The way it works here is that your lease is automatically renewed annually UNLESS you give notice. Therefore, in order to prove I still have a lease, I asked my lovely landlady to give me a signed letter stating how long I had been a tenant, and when my lease is up, and that I had the option to renew. I had bills with me that had just been received in the mail – proving I live where I say I do. I had a letter from my attorney. I had a letter of permission to take the kids and bring them back from their other parent. I had a letter from Mr. CarMan allowing me the use of his vehicle and when I had to have it back by. I had proof of upcoming appointments for me and the kids here in Montreal. I made myself nuts getting all of this information together, but I wanted to be as prepared as I could be.

 

I had explained the situation to the boys and told them that I had done my Hishtadlut (due diligence) and now it was up to G-d. I also told them that while we were driving to the border I needed them to say Tehillim – psalms, in order to boost our chances of being allowed into the States. I also repeated border etiquette. Do not speak unless spoken to. Do not volunteer any information other than that which is asked of you. Do not lie. Look the agent who speaks to you in the eye – take off your sunglasses in order to do this. Do not joke with the agent.

 

We grabbed a bite to eat before we left. We got into the car and I said Psalm 91 aloud. A friend had told me that it was a good one to say – the Hebrew letters for 91 spell out the word “tzei” – which means “go out”. I had the boys then open their Tehillim and say all the psalms for Thursday (each day has a group of psalms to be said for it) as I drove towards the border. My oldest also said the Tefillat Haderech – the prayer for safe travel.

 

45 minutes later we were at the border and my stomach was in a knot, my hands and legs were shaking. I gave the kids and myself a pep talk. “It’s all in Hashem’s hands. Whatever He decides is what’s best for us”. I gave it into His capable hands and I had to trust it would all be for the best. The kids were still praying as we got to the Border Guard’s Booth.

 

There were four open lines and all booths were empty. We picked one and when I drove up I saw there were THREE guards there as opposed to the usual ONE. Gulp. This didn’t bode well. I had the passports ready and had easy access to all the other papers I had with me. I handed over the passports and held my breath. It soon became obvious to us that this particular guard was a trainee as his superiors in the booth with him were telling him what to ask, or what they would have asked. He had wanted to ask me why I was travelling alone with my kids – and where their dad was etc, but he obviously had no experience asking that. I helped him out. I told him we were divorced and that I was the custodial parent. I gave him the permission letter. He was being fed questions all the while. He scanned through the passports. No beeps or alarms went off.

 

He proceeded to ask me all the standard questions – am I bringing in $10,000 in cash (I wish), any drugs or firearms, any articles for resale….., and after 3 minutes that seemed like 30 he returned our travel documents and waved us through. No awkward questions, no making me sit in a back room while they grilled my kids (yes I had imagined 100 different scenarios) – he waved us through.

 

We drove for 30 seconds then I let out a HUGE whoop of joy followed by a tremendous release of tears. The kids were so excited and thrilled. I had one of them immediately text the KoD to tell him we made it, and then we called one of my Montreal Mommies (Lucky me, I have a few!!) to say we made it into the States safely.

 

I told the kids, and I firmly believe I am right, that their prayers helped us get through. I know that every time until we get the visas there is going to be a chance that we are turned back – but I am prepared for it. Maybe the computer didn’t pick us up yet, or maybe they saw that I come and go often and can be trusted not to stay illegally. I don’t even want to know the why. I am just accepting it and am thankful to G-d.

 

G-d was definitely watching over us that day as He is everyday. I am glad He didn’t test me, though, by having us turned back. I wonder how I would have done.

 

2008 retrospective

I started writing a look back at the year that was, but the first draft ended up being a play by play of the guys that I dated. I should be blushing here, right, but I will not. I was on a quest to find my prince charming and I guess that was my main focus of this year. Those of you who read all the Frumster Files  (including the deleted ones) know a lot of what I experienced.

 

After many disappointments, and some close calls, this year on Rosh Hashannah my davenning was to ask Hashem to send me what he felt was right for me at this point in my life. I honestly didn’t think He would be so quick in responding.

 

As I look back on 2008 I want to thank every guy that I dated / went out with / conversed and emailed with. You were all a necessary step on my road to finding my King of Diamonds. Ok a few of you I would like to have stepped completely over or on you, but I didn’t get that choice. I learnt something from each and everyone of you – some things about men in general, some things about myself, my likes and dislikes, my preferences, what I will or will not settle for. There were a couple of you that were really close to be the One – but you didn’t make the final cut….oh well, such is life.  (At this point I would like to say that I didn’t settle for anything less than the very best – and I am so blessed)

 

This was the year of finding my beshert, my beloved future husband, the King of Diamonds. He proposed in front of my children, with tears sparkling in his eyes…sigh….I love sharing our story – so read it again here.

 

This was also the year in which we celebrated the barmitzvah of our eldest son, together, in true blended family tradition – with everyone getting along and being there for our son’s moment in the spotlight. Read about it here Son – you did me proud and I am so honoured to be your Ima. I still think back fondly to that weekend – such great positive memories. My fave – when you started speaking about me in your speech and your voice broke, and the whole hall cried with you. My chance to speak – well, that was icing on the cake. Read my speech here .

 

This year I took my eldest son to Israel and introduced him to his country. I was so priviliged to be able to do this, and the memories will live on in both of us forever. My prayer at the kotel. Some holiday musings .

 

I started working outside the house this year, I blogged about it here  and while it was a big adjustment, I would not trade it for the world. To have people to converse with during the day, about important matters, and not just about groceries and kids – that’s a priceless experience. And to get paid for it – what a bonus!!

 

I made a bunch of new friends this year and enjoyed “old” friends too– you have enriched my life more than you can ever know. I hope our friendships continue to go from strength to strength.

 

I also started blogging this year. First month of blog here . It has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had to date. I have always been one to have something to say, and the idea that there are people out there actually interested in what I have to say just continues to blow my mind!

 

I bought a blackberry  and joined the dark side. I started tweeting too – if you haven’t used twitter.com yet – hop on over there and sign up. This has been an invaluable real time tool for me to advertise my blog, to find out what’s going on in the world, and with my own people. Warning –it can be a little bit addictive if you let it. Note to all who asked – I will not be live tweeting my wedding – that’s been done already…thanks SGR for taking that pressure off me!!

 

I gave up coffee three times this year. Every time I was so impressed with myself. I went without coffee for 3 long months at one point. Everyone (except my stomach) is so much happier with me back to drinking my daily caffeine. Some things are just not worth giving up. Caffeine makes me a better mother – it’s the sacrifice I am willing to make. (of course the fact that I love it very much doesn’t hurt ).

 

My message for you all in 2009 is don’t give up on your dream. Sometimes you may have to tweak it a little, refine and reshape – but don’t give up. You never know what life has in store.

 

So my motto for 2009 is this “all will be fine in 2009”.

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Peaceful Coexistence

I don’t pretend I am the most religious of people. I live my life my way and let others live theirs, and hope we can all live in harmony together on this earth. I try to make the most of my travelling time to work these days – as soon as I get a seat I whip out my Sefer Tehillim (Book of Psalms) and use the time to get a little bit of prayer in.  This is more or less the only structured prayers that I do every day, other than brachot and praying to G-d to help me find a parking spot or to hold my tongue.

 

The other day I sat down on the train, pulled out the tehillim and immersed myself. In my peripheral vision I saw a gentleman sit down near me and take out a little book and he seemed to be moving his lips in silent prayer like me. I looked up expecting to find another Jew. I was wrong. This man was reading the Koran or some other book written in Arabic. He was as intent on the words of his holy book as was I. There was a moment or two where I felt uncomfortable, but it passed. He was just as entitled to pray as I was, and you know what, the fact that two people in the subway car were praying – I am sure it made all the other travelers feel safe!

 

I always felt a little self conscious sitting there with my tehillim, but somehow seeing someone from another religion acting in a similar fashion helped me to get over that.

 

Life can teach us lessons when we least expect it.