#MeditationMonday – Hebrew Meditation for Patience

One of my big challenges for this year is to be more patient with my children.

One of my kids is a wonderful boy with a sweet streak, but he is also extremely energetic and impulsive. I start every day striving to be patient, but too often I get frustrated with his behavior and start nagging/punishing.

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The Secret to Aliyah and Sukkot

I have an American friend who keeps schlepping his family back and forth between Israel and America (specifically, California). When he’s living in California (as he is now), he’s dreaming about Israel: “I miss living in the Jewish state, where Jewish education is free and you get the holidays off from work. We’re coming back to Israel soon!”

And yet he has already left Israel twice to go live in America for long stints, in large part because he loves his higher earning potential in the motherland.

I’m trying hard to be less judgmental and argumentative, but because he keeps claiming he wants to settle down in Israel and remain here, I am dying to tell him the secret to successful Aliyah…

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Sukkot and the Fight Club

Don’t worry, I’m not recommending fist fights in your Sukkah (the temporary hut Jews inhabit during the festival of Sukkot). That would likely wreck the walls of your Kosher Sukkah!

I’m simply noting that one of the main themes of the Fight Club, a thought-provoking movie starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, is also a dominant theme of Sukkot. This theme has much to teach us about simcha (Jewish joy).

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Yom Kippur – You’re Doing it Wrong

No days were as festive for Israel as Tu B’Av and Yom Kippur –Tractate Ta’anit.

What is the Mishna trying to tell us? We understand why Tu B’Av, a magical day of love, was considered a happy day. But Yom Kippur? Isn’t that supposed to be the day that we punish our bodies by fasting and reflect on the many awful things we did in the previous year? How does that promote simcha (Jewish joy)?

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The “Playful Child” on Rosh HaShana

Rabbi Gideon Weitzman, the rabbi of my shul/beit knesset in Modi’in, recently published an excellent book entitled, His Words, Their Voices: Essays on the Haftarot.

In his essay on the specific Haftarah (a section of the book of Prophets) that is read communally on the second day of Rosh HaShana, Rabbi Weitzman struck a chord with me by writing about the “playful child.”

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Mikveh Before Rosh HaShana

Because many Jews immerse in a mikveh (ritual bath) before Rosh HaShana, I am re-posting a previous blog post about a happiness visualization for the mikveh. Have a sweet and HAPPY New Year! 

— Simcha 

After deciding to start my current search for simcha (Jewish joy) on Hoshana Rabbah, one of the first things I did that morning was immerse myself in one of the local mikvehs. Hoshana Rabbah is the day when the judgment process that has started on Rosh HaShana is sealed, and I wanted to feel spiritually pure.

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Crucial Practice for Post-Rosh HaShana Happiness

One of the number one things most of us will be praying for on Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year, is happiness. Jewish joy (simcha) is the nectar that will enable us to have a sweet New Year.

But it’s not as easy as merely requesting happiness from G-d. We have to work hard and partner with G-d to advance spiritually. And the first step is a technique called “cheshbon hanefesh,” or “an accounting of the soul.”

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Becoming a Rich Jew…

I’m not usually the type to obsess about my financial situation, or to think too much about the things I don’t have. Israelis seem a little less materialistic than people in other Western countries and I am blessed to have a full-time job in high-tech, an apartment in Modi’in, a car, etc.

But I must admit that my recent trip to visit my family and friends in Boston (near Boston, technically) shook me up a little bit.

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I Miss Abuelo…

“Simcha, what happened? You put on A LOT of weight since I saw you last!”

That’s how Abuelo (may his memory be for a blessing) greeted me last May, which was one of the last times I had the privilege of seeing him (although I didn’t know it at the time). Abuelo was a doctor and the father of D., a friend of mine in Modi’in. He used to visit Israel from his home in Argentina about twice a year to see his daughter, son-in-law and four grand kids.

Everyone warmly called him “Abuelo,” which means “grandfather” in Spanish, because he was an avuncular, sweet patriarch with a doctor’s calming bedside manner.

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One simple Jew's journey to Jewish joy (simcha) via ancient and modern techniques.