Saturday, May 25, 2013

Know Yourself

"... the mistakes we make in life, the sins that we commit, are not born in a vacuum. They stem from deep roots, so if we are to confess and make a real change in our lives, it's not just verbal platitudes that are required, but genuine soul-searching. ... if we really want to elevate ourselves, if we really want to be transformed and  become better, more spiritual individuals, we have to go through this process honestly, without rationalizations, as painful as it may be. We must focus not only on the sin just committed,  but must ask ourselves, What led me astray? How is it that I have become so lost? Once we come to grips with that concept and discover the answer, it will become easier for us to uproot the negativity from our hearts and to embark upon a new course. That's what teshuvah (repentance) is all about. To be sure, this is not a simple path. Most of us are quick to see the faults in others but are slow to recognize them in ourselves. How often does it happen that when we read a book or hear a message, we say, "That's just for my sister, brother, friend, etc..." and it never occurs to us that the message was meant for us. So, know yourself."

     Search me, O El, and know my heart; Try me, and know my thoughts;
And see if an idolatrous way is in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.
                                                                                   - Tehillim/Psalm 139:23-24

source: Torah for Your Table, Rabbi Yisroel Jungreis

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Essential Tools for Learning Torah


 Parashas Bamidbar (Portion Numbers 1:1-4:20) is always read (according to tradition) prior to the great festival of Shavuot, which commemorates (traditionally) the day that YHVH gave us the Torah. And that in itself is instructive. Midbar can be defined as wilderness or desert; the word bamidbar means "in the Wilderness", teaching us that if we wish the Torah to impact on us and elevate us, we have to make ourselves like a desert. Even as a desert is barren, so too must we divest ourselves of all preconceived notions and allow the Torah to re-shape us. Even as in a desert there are no diversions, so we cannot allow anyone or anything to distract us from our Torah study. Even as in the Wilderness of Sinai everything was free, so we must make Torah study available to one and all.
The backdrop for the giving of the Torah is equally significant. The Torah was given at Mount Sinai, a lowly mountain, and while logic would dictate that it would have been more impressive had God proclaimed His words on a tall, majestic mountain, He nevertheless chose Sinai for His revelation, teaching us that a prerequisite for Torah study is humility. At Sinai, the people saw flames and clouds dripping water; flames symbolize fiery passion, while clouds dripping water are symbolic of clarity. The verses teach us that if we wish Torah to enter our hearts, we must study it and transmit it with fiery passion; we must tackle our studies with discipline and stay with them until we have full clarity. All this is a reminder that Torah study cannot be undertaken casually. It is our very life and the length of our days, and must be accorded the seriousness and respect it deserves.
 - Torah for Your Table, Rabbi Yisroel Jungreis

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shavuot... Feast of Weeks

         {photo credit: here}

With Shavuot/Pentecost upon us, I wanted to share a few Scripture verses
and some links I've come across over the past few years.

This is our third year (I think. lol) of observing/celebrating Shavuot/Pentecost
and I am still learning SO much! It has been, and continues to be, such a joy!

I am continually amazed by YHVH's feast days!

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Shavuot means 'weeks' in Hebrew.
It is The Feast of Weeks.
7 weeks (49 completed days),
counted from the day after the weekly Sabbath Day
after beginning The Feast of Unleavened Bread.

In Scripture it is a feast of harvest.
It is, also, the celebration of the giving of the written Torah,
by YHVH at Mount Sinai.

It is, also, the time known as Pentecost.
Pentecost means "fiftieth" in Greek.

It is when the promise of the giving of the Set-Apart Spirit was fulfilled.

Some of the Scriptures referring to Shavuot...

"and the Festival of the Harvest, the first-fruits of your labours
which you have sown in the field; and the Festival of the Ingathering
at the outgoing of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labours from the field"
Exodus 23:16

"And perform the Festival of Weeks for yourself, 
of the first-fruits of wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year"
Exodus 34:22

"And from the morrow after the Sabbath, 
from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering,
you shall count for yourselves: seven completed Sabbaths.
Until the morrow after the seventh Sabbath you count fifty days, 
then you shall bring a new grain offering to YHVH."
Leviticus 23:15-17 {and to verse 21}

"And on the day of the first-fruits, when you bring a new grain offering to YHVH
at your Festival of Weeks, you have a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work."
Numbers 28:26

"And you shall perform the Festival of Weeks to YHVH your Elohim,
according to the voluntary offering from your hand,
which you give as YHVH your Elohim blesses you.
And you shall rejoice before YHVH your Elohim, you and your son and your daughter,
and your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your gates,
and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are in your midst,
at the place where YHVH your Elohim chooses to make His Name dwell."
Deuteronomy 16:10-11

"And when the Day of the Festival of Weeks had come,
they were all with one mind in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from the heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind,
and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, 
and settled on each one of them. 
And they were all filled with the Set-apart Spirit 
and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them to speak."
Acts 2:1-4


A few links expounding on Shavuot:
{as with anything, read with discernment and prove all things according to Scripture}

Shavuot - Pentecost - Feast of Weeks {PDF file}
(article from Hoshana Rabbah site)

Shavuot - "Feast of Weeks" {PDF file}
(a little more 'simplified' article at Restoring the Way)

What is Shavuot?
(online article at Judaism site,

Activities and Coloring:

Shavuot coloring pages

Crafts and Coloring pages
{at Challah}

Shavuot Recipes and Crafts

Shavuot Lapbook/Lapfolder

My Shavuot Pinterest Board (updated sporadically)

And what's a celebration without music?!


Rejoicing in the giving of the Torah...

Love the Torah

I Love Torah

Oh, How I Love Your Torah

The Ten Commandments

Rejoicing in the Set-Apart Spirit,
Who writes Torah in our hearts...

Calling for a Flood

Joel 2

Empty Me

Bo, Ruach Elohim {Come, Spirit of Elohim}

Chag Sameach Shavuot!
{Joyous Festival of Shavuot!}