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October 23, 2016 / 21 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘song’

The Song of Creation

Friday, October 7th, 2016

{Originally posted  to Rabbi Weinberg’s website, The Foundation Stone}

Moses could no longer move around? How does a man who says, “I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I can no longer go out and come in,” manage to walk through the camps of all twelve tribes to say farewell?
The people of each neighborhood excitedly gather for this unprecedented visit and Moses begins his speech, “I am a 120 years old today and can’t move around that well.” I can picture a precocious child challenging him, “You seem to be doing a good job getting around. This is the first time we’ve seen you around here!”

I hear Moses explaining, “I’m far too old to get around as I do. My visit is to prove to you that my unusual strength doesn’t come from me; it comes from you. I will no longer be able to derive my strength from you now that Joshua is assuming leadership. I will have to rely on myself and will no longer be able to come and go. My strength is yours. My accomplishments are yours. This farewell visit is an acknowledgement and thank you.”

It is only after the people hear their great prophet and teacher acknowledge that his strength is theirs’ that he can teach his final commandment, “Write this song for yourselves.” Moses wants each of us to write a Torah, not as a book of laws or teachings, but as a song. The Song of Torah comes from us, the people, not Moses. He can present the Book, but it is the people who understand that all his great accomplishments derived from them, despite their failures, who write the Torah as a song. The Song of Torah is our composition. We are the conductors who guide God’s laws and teachings to play in harmony as a majestic symphony. “Give us our portion in Torah,” we pray each day. Each of us can find our perfect note, the Torah resonating in our souls. “We will become a unified group to fulfill Your will,” we will combine all our notes in perfect harmony filling the universe with the symphony of a creation that has learned that the music is ours.

We will recite the Confession ten times over Yom Kippur. The Talmud insists that Confession, Vidui, should be read as Todah, a Thanksgiving Offering. The music of confession is composed by our approach to the Vidui: A long list of terrible sins is played to terrifying music. A Confession as celebration of “I participate in the Song of Creation despite my failures,” is exhilarating; a Thanksgiving Symphony. It is this music that plays in the way we sing the Confession aloud to a joyous tune. It is this music that plays for the parade of the Kohen Gadol after he completes the Yom Kippur Temple service. It is the music to which the young women danced on Yom Kippur. It is the music of Torah. It is the same music to which Moses achieved so much. It is our music. It is the Song of Creation.

I wish each of you a joyous Yom Kippur on which you discover your note in Torah, your role in the Song of Creation, the music to which you can dance every day of the year.

Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tovah,

Rabbi Simcha Weinberg

Fountainheads – Hope

Monday, September 12th, 2016

I know it’s the Ein Prat Fountainheads’ Yom Haatmaut song, but it’s really a nice video for any time of the year.

Video of the Day

To Sing A New Song… Our Children And Students

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

When I was a principal, I would often walk through the halls of my school during class. When I did, I would glance in the classrooms and, even with the doors closed and in the relative silence of the hallway, I would be able to identify what I considered a “successful” classroom.

It is, of course, easy to identify an “unsuccessful” classroom – when students are not paying attention; when they are disruptive; when the teacher sits behind the desk and shows no enthusiasm for his material or the delivery of it. These are “red flags” that cry out, unsuccessful. But successful? For me, when I saw students engaged in the instruction and, most importantly, when I saw them actively participating then I knew there was successful teaching and learning going on. That is, if I could see evidence of students learning independently then I knew I was witnessing a successful classroom. Without exception, when I saw a classroom with students participating, I saw a teacher with a smile on his face.

That smile told me that my teacher found joy not just in the material he was teaching – after all, in Jewish day schools and yeshivas is not all our material valuable and worthy of our joyous review and teaching? – but, more importantly, the joy of his students’ learning!

Thinking back on that time, I think about the advice a colleague shared with his teachers. He told them, “Make your classroom like your home and treat your students as your guests.” And another, who wisely noted that teaching, is really just another form of “parenting.”

We intuitively understand the close connection between parenting and teaching. After all, we refer to our colleges as our alma maters – our “nurturing mothers.”

Teaching and parenting. Two sides of the same coin. In both, it is essential that we are “successful.” The question is, What does that mean?

When I was in the classroom, I cherished the moments when I reviewed text and ideas with my students but my greatest joy was when they were able to take what I shared with them and discover something new and unique.

I reveled in their independence. It seems odd to say that as a teacher, when for so many the role of teacher is to “pass along” knowledge. But learning is not and should not be passive.   Students are not mere vessels to be filled with information.

There is much a student or child can do simply by “following instruction.” Swimming is not one of them! To swim is to be independent, is to have the judgment and intelligence to read changing variables and tides, to be able manage shallow shoals and dangerous depths. That is what a teacher – and a parent – must prepare a student and child to do.

Not long ago, a mother and father wrote to a rebbi, saying they had waited for the day when their son, who had always been a caring and good student, “would pick up a Gemarah on his own on a Shabbos afternoon.” That day finally arrived just as their son was getting ready to graduate 12th grade.

That school succeeded!  Those parents succeeded!

The child could swim!

* * *

As the child, so too the Children of Israel.

There were two great songs recorded in the Torah, the more famous being Az Yashir. “Then sang Moshe and B’nai Yisrael this shirah…”, praising the splitting of the yam suf and allowing the Children of Israel to be free at last from their bondage in Mitzrayim.   The other, less well known, is tucked away near the end of Chukas, a short song of gratitude for the uninterrupted supply of water (the well!) throughout the forty years sojourn in the desert.  “Then Israel sang this song; ‘Come up, O well, announce it! Well that the princes dug, that the nobles of the people excavated, through a lawgiver, with their staff. A gift from the Wilderness.” The song then traces the path of the well /water that followed the nation, no matter how high the elevation or difficult the terrain. The gift went from the valley to the heights. And from the heights to the valley in the field of Moab, at the top of the peak, overlooking the surface of the wilderness.

The irony of childhood is that it is only after it is over, when we are adults and independent, do we realize that we were in a period of innocence, that we could not have become what we’ve become without the guidance and wisdom of our parents.

So too, as the Children of Israel sang, they finally understood that they could never have made it without God’s constant and consistent be’er –well – supply of water, but make it they did. They are about to enter the Land, and are leaving God a note of thanks, very much like the bride tucking a thank you note for her parents before leaving for the Chupah, or the student for his rebbi before graduation. They are saying “thank you” knowing that they are able to move forward independently because they had been nurtured and loved – and prepared and expected to be independent!

The Promised Land was a long, hard forty years away. The ‘Song of the Well’ was celebrated at the end of that long journey. Throughout that journey, Moshe taught many important lessons, lessons that B’nai Yisrael fortunately absorbed.

When they first escaped Mitzrayim, the people were burdened with a slave mentality; they were like little children who had to be taught everything, even how to say “thank you” for their deliverance.   Thus, az yashir Moshe and B’nai Yisrael. But then, forty years hence, after hardships and joys, after the lessons of Sinai, including more than half of Torah mitzvoth bein adam l’chaveiro, with countless lessons of gratitude and appreciation conveyed everywhere in the Torah it was “graduation” time, it was time to step forward as a proud, independent nation. It was time for Moshe, as a parent and teacher would, to sit back confident and gratified that the children will do the right thing, they will say “thank you” to God.

They had learned to learn on their own.

Was it hard for Moshe to stay silent and not sing with them? Of course. It was hard for him and for them. It is always “easier” for parents to “do for” their children; it is always easier for the teacher to tell the student what he or she needs to know. But how much more joyous, how much more satisfying, how much more meaningful to have brought children and students to the place where they can “do it themselves”?

Moshe, the archetypal parent and teacher, has shown how to raise children and teach students. He is shepping the nachas!

Moshe is not simply hearing a repetition of the song he led B’nei Yisrael in singing. He is hearing a new song. And that is the greatest joy of the parent and the teacher, to hear his or her child or student sing a “new song”, a song that could never have been sung without their love, guidance and faith – faith in the child to one day walk forward as an individual!

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

Live: Lipa Schmeltzer & Corrine Allal – Ein Li Eretz Acheret

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Video of the Day

The Fountainheads Passover Song

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Video of the Day

Sounds Israeli: The Idan Raichel Project

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Idan Raichel burst on to the Israeli musical scene in 2003, inviting collaborations from artists of multiple ethnicities and singing in languages as diverse as Spanish, Arabic, Amharic and Swahili. The resulting highly evocative music – blending African, Latin American, Caribbean and Middle Eastern sounds – made Raichel one of his country’s biggest musical breakthroughs.

Here’s a live version of his 2010 hit song “Mima’amakim” (Out of the depths).

Visit CifWatch.

Adam Levick

Staying Warm, On the Cheap

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Ah, fall.

The magnificent display of changing colors as the trees stage their annual pageant, the indescribable pleasure of leaves crunching beneath your feet, the delightful crispness in the air after endless weeks of heat and humidity; it is hard not to enjoy the magic of autumn.

Bummer that fall has to turns into winter.

Not that the winter doesn’t have many redeeming qualities, but with the advent of winter comes (at least in my little corner of the world) snow, ice, bone chilling cold and by extension, high heating bills.

I can’t halt the precipitation and I have no way of keeping the temperature above freezing, but if there is one thing I can do, it is help you put your heating bills on a diet.

Let me begin by saying that while I am all for saving money, I am not advocating that you keep your thermostat at sixty degrees, nor am I suggesting that you dress your family in hats and gloves inside the house in order to save money. And while there is no doubt that new windows or a new heating system will pay for themselves over time, they are both major expenditures that many of us are just not prepared to make at this point in time. But there are definitely inexpensive ways to trim heating bills as the thermostat starts to dip lower and lower.

Start with your windows. It goes without saying that you should keep them closed. If you have storm windows, keep them shut as well. Check for drafts and use caulking and/or weather stripping or even old towels or t-shirts as needed to keep cold air at bay. Consider hanging heavier weight curtains during the winter, leaving them open during the day to allow the sun to heat your home for free, and closing them at night to provide an extra layer of insulation against the frigid air. For the seriously frugal, consider spending a few dollars on an inexpensive sealing kit that, with the help of plastic film, double sided tape and a blow dryer, virtually shrink wraps your windows and creates an extra layer of insulation.

The same advice goes for doors. Install a door sweep at the bottom to block any cold air that might be seeping in through the cracks and install weather stripping as needed. Contemplate getting (or even making) one of those long fabric snakes to block any drafts that may be coming in at the bottom of your door. Don’t have one? Take a towel, roll it up and place it right in front of the door. It will work just as well.

Invest in a programmable thermostat. Yes, you do have to buy one and if you aren’t handy you will have to pay someone to install it, but it is one of those gadgets that pays for itself. Keep your house running several degrees colder during the day when no one is home and at night when everyone is tucked into bed, while ensuring that it is toasty warm when you wake up and when everyone comes home at the end of the day.

Remember your good friend from the summer, Mr. Ceiling Fan? While running in normal mode (counter-clockwise), it moves air around the room, providing a cooling effect. Switch it to reverse and it will take all the warm air that is gathering at the top of your room (remember eighth grade science class when you learned that heat rises?) and push the delightfully warm air back down to the lower part of the room, where the humans are.

Do yourself a favor and invest in down blankets for every member of the family. A natural insulator, they are comfortable in the summer, yet seriously warm in the winter. If you have never tried flannel sheets, the added delicious warmth they provide makes them worth considering. Cover bare floors with rugs and your toes will thank you when you hop out of bed in the morning as well. And once we are talking insulation, check with a contractor and see how much it costs to insulate your attic, which will also be money well spent.

While this might seem obvious, move furniture away from your heating sources, be they vents, registers or radiators. Do you want the back of the couch to be warm and toasty or your kids? For those of you with forced hot air heating, change the furnace filter on a monthly basis, which will both save on energy costs as well as minimize dust in your home. Decide if you want to go with replacement filters, which are extremely inexpensive, or washable filters which, while more costly, can last for several years with proper care. If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when the fireplace isn’t in use to prevent heat loss through the chimney.

Sandy Eller

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/staying-warm-on-the-cheap/2012/10/05/

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