Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lech Lecha- Realizing the Promise Today

VAdonai amar el-Avram… “Sa na einekha ur’eih min-hamakom asher-atah sham tzafonah vanegbah vakeidmah vayamah. Ki et-kol-ha’aretz asher-atah roeh l’kha etnenah ul’zar’akha ad-olam. V’samti et-zar’akha ka’afar ha’aretz asher im-yukhal ish limnot et-afar ha’aretz gam zar’akha yimaneh. Kum hit'haleikh ba’aretz l’arkah ulrachbah ki l’kha etnenah.”
And Adonai said to Avram, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are: north, south, east, and west. For all the land that you see, to you I will give it, and to your seed forever. And I will make your seed like dust of the earth, if a man can count the dust of the earth, then also your seed he can count. Arise; walk through the land, the length of it and the breadth of it, for to you I will give it.” (Breishit 13:14-17)
The promise made to Avram that day was an eternal promise for us, the promise of our legacy, our inheritance. The land that Avram sees, the land that Avram walks, it is not only his. It belongs to his children. It is ours. It is a promise to which the Jewish people have clung for thousands of years. It is a promise whose modern fulfilment began anew, not in 1948, but in 1897 with the dream of Theodor Herzl.
Why 1897? August 29-31, 1897 was the inaugural Congress of the Zionist Organization. Convened and chaired by Theodor Herzl in Basel, Switzerland, the Congress formulated a Zionist platform, now known as the Jerusalem Program, and founded the Zionist Organization, HaHistadrut HaTziyonit. The Zionist Organization, which evolved into the World Zionist Organization, served then, and continues to serve, with its sister organizations of Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael (JNF), Keren HaYesod (United Israel Appeal), and the Jewish Agency for Israel, as an umbrella organization for the Zionist Movement and the worldwide Jewish community.
With annual, then biennial, and now meetings every five years, the World Zionist Congress continues to work for Israel, for us, and for the assurance of our legacy as promised to Avram.
How is this our legacy? The World Zionist Organization is committed to promoting Israel as and idea and as a vital, positive, binding force in Jewish life. The Jerusalem program is dedicated to instilling the centrality of Israel within Jewish consciousness, encouraging love of Israel, building an exemplary society in the Jewish state, expanding Zionist education, settling the land, and combating anti-Semitism.
How is this accomplished? The WZO and the Congress are made up of delegates from Zionist associations around the world, such as the Canadian Zionist Federation. These associations are built from Zionist organizations: WIZO, Hadassah, Bnai Brith, the three streams of world Judaism, Maccabi, and more. Delegates to the Congress elect the WZO leadership, and set its course for the next five years. 2015 will mark the 37th Zionist Congress. Each of us with an opinion on Jewish education, anti-Semitism, aliyah, pluralism, social justice, or Israel’s relationship with the Diaspora has the right and the responsibility to add our voice to the world discussion to help shape the legacy for Israeli society and the Jewish people.
To give voice to your vision, to vote for the next Congress, you must join a Zionist organization by the end of 2014 to take part in the next Canadian Zionist Federation election in spring 2015. The CZF is made up of the three religious streams represented by Mizrachi, MERCAZ, and ARZA. This year Ameinu and others may be joining the elections. Decisions are made by those who show up. Make sure you show up. Become a member of a Zionist organization by the end 2014. Be an active part of the Jewish future and ensure the legacy promised to us today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Parashat Noach: Realizing Your Importance

Gam mei’oaf hashamayim shiv’ah shiv’ah zachar un’keivah l’chayot zera al p’nei khol ha’aretz.
Also of the birds of the sky, seven and seven, male and female, to keep seed alive on the face of the earth. (Breishit 7:3)
Noach, one of the few righteous in the world at his time, is instructed to build an ark to save a remnant of humanity and animal life from God’s destructive power. With him, he brings his wife, his three sons, and his sons’ wives. From these eight people human life would begin again. In the parasha, only Noach and his sons are named. The women are anonymous. Mrs. Noach beyond a name, she has no personality. She does nothing. She is lost to history. It’s odd. Breishit is filled with strong women:
  • Eve, who chose Adam and partnership over paradise
  • Sara, challenger of Avraham saying, God will choose between us.
  • Hagar, who made her own way in the world, and rose above her station
  • Rivka, who ensured God’s prophecy that Jacob would gain the inheritance
  • Leah, the mother of a nation through her own determination
  • Rachel, a symbol of strength in the face of infertility
  • Devorah, Rivka’s nurse, important enough for her death to be cited
  • Tamar, who refused to stand idly by and be taken advantage of
and there are many more. Yet, the women of parashat Noach, these women who helped ensure the existence of humanity, have no names, no history, no legacy. Traditionally, the Rabbis had great difficulty with anonymity. Both apocrypha and midrash give them names. Breishit Rabba tells us, ‘Naamah was Noach’s wife. Why was she called Naamah? Because her deeds were pleasing (neimim).’ Other texts, outside the Jewish canon, give names to these women. The Book of Jubilees, found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and considered holy by the Bete Yisrael (Ethiopian Jews) and some Christian denominations, gives Mrs. Noach the name Emzerah, Mother of Seed. Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso takes up the mantle of Midrash, combining it with the name from Jubilees. In her book A Prayer for the Earth, Rabbi Sasso creates a legacy for Naamah.
Then God called out to Naamah, ‘Walk across the land and gather the seeds of all the flowers and all the trees. Take two of every living plant and bring each one onto the ark... Naamah tied an apron of many pockets around her waist and walked through all the earth’s fields and gardens… She journeyed into the forest… She placed them in the cool deep pockets of her apron, away from the light of the sun... from acacia to ziziphus… from amaryllis to zinnia… from apples to zucchini… God saw all that Naamah had planted and God said, “Because of your great love for the earth, I will make you a guardian of all living plants, and I will call you Emzerah, Mother of Seed… She saw how the seeds were carried great distances, and how they landed safely on the soft ground. As God had promised, the dandelions were everywhere…trees grew tall… Flowers sprinkled yellow, peach and lilac over the fields.
Most of us live lives that will not be mentioned in the great texts that will last through time. However, like Naamah, whose name, history, and legacy are missing from our history, each one of us, like Noach or Naamah, can make a significant impact in the world. As William Shakespeare wrote, “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary World.” Each of us has the opportunity to be that candle 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Breishit- Sparks of Life

Breishit, bara Elohim, et hashamayim, v’et ha’aretz. V’haaretz, ha’y’tah tohu vavohu, v’choshekh, al p’nei t’hom; v’ruach Elohim, m’rachefet al-p’nei hamayim. Vayomer Elohim, y’hi or, va’y’hi or.
In the beginning, God created, the heaven, and the earth. And the land, was unformed and void, and darkness, was on the face of the void; and the spirit of Elohim, it hovered over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”(Breishit 1-3)
P’shat reading of Breishit appears to give us the steps of creation from just prior through the formation of humans. The first step of creation is God speaking, “Let there be light.” From this p’shat reading, it seems that God does not create ex nihilo. The building blocks of creation, tohu vavohu in the void and water, already exist. Trying to find commentary balancing this, I began to examine the ideas of Lurianic Kabbalah, specifically tzimtzum.
In Lurianic Kabbalah, when God makes the decision to create the universe, the first step is tzimtzum. However, while this step is necessary for creation, it is not considered part of the steps of creation, which begin with God’s words. Since God is infinite, creation necessitated the pulling back by God of God’s being to create a space in which the universe could be formed, the t’hom over which God’s spirit floats. However, being Divine, God’s presence could not be contained for long. It shattered into the empty space, spreading God’s presence throughout the void.
How does this help? Psalms tells us that God spoke and all came into being. From this we place the beginning of creation with God’s words, working with the materials already in existance. If this is the creation of the universe, but not the beginning of creation itself, we can see tzimtzum as the first step towards creation. Much like an artist gathers materials  or a chef, ingredients, tzimtzum is the preparation of creation. It is the gathering of elements. It is the creation of a space, the materials in their state of tohu vavohu, and water, the same building blocks of life that science requires, with the explosion of the Divine light casting the first sparks of life into it all.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Shabbat Sukkot- God's Glory

Uf’ros aleinu sukkat sh’lomekha, v’tak’neinu b’eitzah tovah mil’fanekha, v’hoshieinu l’ma’an sh’mekha.
Spread over us Your sukkah of peace; direct us with Your good counsel, and save us for the sake of Your name. (From the evening liturgy)
Vayomer har’eini na et-k’vodekha. And he said, “Show me, please, Your glory.”
Shemot 33:18
Sukkot most often refer to the huts in which the Israelites lived while in the midbar; as the text says, “ki basukkot hoshavti,” “for in sukkot I made them dwell.”  The natural assumption is that the Israelites dwelled in some sort of structure, and is the reason we continue to build huts every year, remembering our exodus from slavery.  These huts must be temporary, easily put up and easily taken down, although the definition of easy is in the eyes of the builder.
Rabbi Akiva supports this saying the Israelites each built a sukkah mamash, a physical sukkah.  But many commentators explore the multi-level meanings in the word.  Rashi teaches that the sukkot were not the booths, but the A’n’nai kavod, the clouds of glory, which hovered over the camp.  Ibn Ezra combines the dual meaning, “they made… sukkot… and this is the custom...  And if Israel should ask why this mitzvah is in Tishrei… it is because a cloud of glory was over the camp. This, to me, balances our t’fillot with our practice. Our evening liturgy, in Hashkiveinu, asks for the glory of God’s “sukkat sh’lomekha,” canopy of peace to be spread over us. On Sukkot, we read of God’s glory being shown to the Israelites even as we dwell in sukkot mamash in our own backyards. But our sukkot mamash are not mere huts. They are things of beauty. We spread above us a cornucopia of produce and decorations to bring glory and inspiration to the holiday.
While the evening liturgy links the spreading of the sukkah above us with good counsel and salvation, the Shabbat Torah reading begs for God’s glory. Perhaps when we sit in our own sukkot, looking up through the roof, which both protects and exposes us, we should hope to be inspired by what we see around us. Whether it is the colours of the sky blending with sunshine and clouds, the infinite colours of the changing leaves, or the vastness of the night sky, this is God’s glory, and our inspiration to look beyond our own walls and be a vital part of the world around us.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ha'azeinu- How Would You Like to be Remembered?

Vayomer aleihem simu l’vavkhem l’khol-ha’d’varim asher anokhi meiid balhem hayom asher t’tzavum et-b’neikhem lishmor la’asot et-kol-divrei haTorah hazot.
And he said to them, “Direct your heart to all the words that I testify against you today; that you will command them to your children to observe and do all the words of this law.” (D’varim 32:46)
As the situation became tense in Israel, I was struck by the difference in nature of demonstrations held in support of either side of the conflict. Rallies supporting Israel consistently spoke of peace. Songs of national pride, of hope, and of peace began and ended rallies. It’s an observation that always strikes me. In time of war, rightly or wrongly, we do not rally for victory. We rally for peace. I tried this summer to come up with Jewish war songs. There are, after all, some wonderful music that arose from the wars of the past built patriotism and confidence. Songs like “Over There” or “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” still build excitement and pride when heard today. This summer I tried to come up with Jewish war songs. We have songs of national pride: Am Yisrael Chai. We have songs of our home and our land: Yerushalayim Shel Zahav. We have songs about the home front: Bashana Haba’a. And we have songs of peace: Shir L’Shalom. However, when I tried to come up with a rah-rah war song, I could only think of Shirat HaYam and Shirat Devorah, the Song of the Sea and the Song of Devorah, sung when Devorah and Barak defeated Sisera. I could think of no post-biblical war song.
On the shores of Yam Suf, usually translated as the Red Sea, Moshe’s song is one of military victory. It is a song sung by all the people together. “Az yashir Moshe u’vnei Yisrael…” “Thus sang Moshe and the children of Israel…” Together we sang for the glorious military victory God had just won over the Egyptians. “Ashirah LA-donai ki gaoh ga’ah; sus v’rokhvo ramah vayam.” Together we sang, “I will sing to A-donai for he is surely exalted; horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.” This is even the verse repeated by Miriam as she leads the people in song and the women in a victory dance. On the shores of the sea, leading a downtrodden people, the message is clear- A-donai ish milchamah, A-donai is a warrior.” 
But here, in Ha’azinu, on the banks of the Jordan River, as the people ready themselves for a military campaign, it is only Moshe that sings. His song is not about the Ish Milchamah, the Warrior, but about faithfulness. This song is not a song of victory. It is not a song of might for the enemies we are about to encounter. Instead, Moshe sings to the heaven and earth itself. On the eve of this great military campaign, Moshe reminds the people that God is faithful and so shall we be.
Ha’azinu is Moshe’s ethical will to the people Israel.  How many of us know, as Moshe did, that the words we say may be our last. Imagine what we might say if we knew they were our last words. The song ends with Moshe entreating the people, “All the words I testify to you today, that you may charge your children to guard to do all the words of this Torah….  For it is your life.” With what words would we want to be remembered? Would they be words of pride and war, or will they be songs for the home front, longing for a future of peace?
May we all be bound up in the Book of Life.  Together we pray for a shanah tovah umetukah, a good and sweet year, one in which peace can spread.  

Natzavim-Vayelech- Ideology

Ki hamitzvah hazot asher Anokhi m’tzav’cha hayom lo niflei’t hi mimcha v’lo r’chokah hi.
For this commandment that I command you this day is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.  (Dvarim 30:11)
V’atah kitvu lakhem et hashirah hazot v’lamdah et b’nei Yisrael simah b’fihem…
And now, you all write for yourselves this song, and teach it to the Children of Israel; put it in their mouths… (D’varim 31:19)
A few weeks ago, I performed a wedding. At the reception following a guest, for whom this was his first Jewish wedding, asked me how the Conservative service was different from the Orthodox service he was attending in a few weeks. It is not, but the reality is, it doesn’t matter. Too often Conservative Judaism is evaluated according to what the Orthodox do. We seem to believe that in order to be traditional Conservative Jews we must appear closer to Orthodoxy rather than be Conservative. Too often we hear, “The Orthodox do everything; the Reform nothing, and the Conservative are somewhere in the middle.” This description does a disservice to all involved. Our ideology is not about whether we do all or nothing, but how we act upon the mitzvot that God has commanded us. For each movement, there is an ideology and theology that informs how we make our decisions.
Conservative/Masorti Judaism is not merely the one in the middle. Conservative ideology believes the Torah shebichtav was given at Sinai. The Torah she’b’al peh are the words of the Hachamim and Rabbis in the Mishnah and Talmud, taught by those in whose name we learn, with an additional eye beyond towards history. The mitzvot given in the Torah are divine and required. Mitzvah means commandment. How we interpret them changes due to culture and history. Where we fall on the spectrum of traditional to liberal is informed by the weight we give to mitzvah, culture, and history in our discussions.
Torah tells us that the mitzvot are meant to be easy for us to observe. They should not be a hardship. They are like an earworm, a song that stays in our minds, repeating on our lips. The words of Torah, the Shema, the melodies of the upcoming holidays, the words of the Hagaddah, and more are placed in our minds, sealed in our hearts, and forever on our lips, needing just a little nudge, maybe a few notes or a word, to have us singing them together.
They should not be so far from our life in this world that we have to separate ourselves from the world to observe them. They should a natural part of our lives as we live them today with an unwavering connection to our history. That is the ideology and theology of Conservative Judaism. The mitzvot are binding, but in every generation, how we interpret and observe them changes, from the Talmud until today. Conservative Judaism is informed Judaism. It is not hard, nor far off because it expects Jews to do what we always have. It expects that these words will be in our mouths and our hearts daily through questioning and discussion. It expects that we will consistently be examining how Judaism and the mitzvot speak to us every day. And, it expects that we will not simply observe because ‘this is the way we’ve always done things.’ Rather, we will work continuously to make Judaism, traditional, halakhic Judaism new and relevant every day through vibrant, joyous, personal close relationships to the mitzvot and Jewish life.
Whether kashrut, Shabbat observance, or t’fillah, whether Torah reading, tallit or t’fillin, whether study or simple daily mitzvot, we must strive to bring these into our lives and close to our hearts. If we have not been observing them in the past, we should strive to do so in the future. Franz Rosenzweig was once asked if he wore tefillin. Rosenzweig answered, “Not yet.”  We may not yet observe all 613 mitzvot, but let us remember they are not too hard, nor far off. They are a song that will soon repeat in our hearts, minds, and in the words of our mouths. Let’s hope 5775 will be the year each of us brings the mitzvot into our lives, drawing them ever closer.

Ki Tavo- It Takes A Village

V’samachta vkhol-hatov asher natan-l’kha Adonai Elohekha ul’veitekha atah v’haleivi v’hageir asher b’kir’bekha.
And you will be happy for all the good that Adonai, your God has given to you, and into your house, you, and the Levite, and the stranger that is in your midst.
Almost ten years ago Hilary Clinton wrote a book called “It Takes a Village.” With the recent release of a tenth anniversary edition, the Dallas Morning News wrote, “A decade ago, then First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton chronicled her quest -- both deeply personal and, in the truest sense, public -- to help make our society into the kind of village that enables children to become smart, able, resilient adults. It Takes a Village is ‘a textbook for caring.... Filled with truths that are worth a read, and a reread.’” I remember when the book was released. For many, this idea seemed new in concept, but my thoughts were, “Of course. Doesn’t everyone know this?” It seems, however, that everyone does not know this, but we do. Judaism has known this for thousands of years. It is built into who we are and what we do. It is built into the reasons for our mitzvot. Care for others is a theme found throughout the Torah, the Mishnah, the Talmud, and beyond, right into many Jewishly founded tzedakot today.
Parashat Ki Tavo lays out the societal system that backs up this concept in the tithe system. This system of tithes was the first in history to provide security and care for a community. Previously, and for many generations to come in most societies, care of the downtrodden was left to families. If someone was without family, s/he was without care. Judaism built it into the society.
Who received the tithes? The first tithe went to the Levi’im as maintenance. Left without their own areas in the land of Israel, and with limited resources for support, this first tithe supported the Levi’im in return for their service to the community. It was meant to provide sustenance without creating a feeling if indebtedness. The Levi’im were not expected to take vows of poverty. The tithe instituted a system of fair compensation.
The second tithe had two purposes. Each year individuals made their annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Families needed to be able to support themselves while there and beyond. Like most sacrifices, it could redeemed in Jerusalem and eaten by those who brought it. The second tithe could also be redeemed for money, which could be spent in Jerusalem or back home. Finally, during every third year all tithes left unpaid needed to be paid. It was a time to even out all accounts. If you missed a pilgrimage now was the time to make up for it. These and any other money and materials collected in the third year was spent on the poor and needy for that year and the next two. had this to say about it taking a village: “It Takes a Village has become a classic. As relevant as ever, this anniversary edition makes it abundantly clear that the choices we make today about how we raise our children and how we support families will determine how our nation will face the challenges of this century.” We created this village thousands of years go, and have been working on it ever since.

Shoftim- Leadership

V'hayah kh’shivto al kisei mamlakhto vkhatav lo et mishnei haTorah hazot al-seifer milifnei hakohanim ha’l’viyim. V’ha’y’tah imo v’kara vo kol-y’mei chayaiv l’ma’an yilmad l’yir’ah et-Adonai Elohav lishmor et-kol-divrei haTorah hazot v’et-hachukim ha’eileh la’asotam.
And it shall be when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he will write himself a copy of this Torah in a book, out of that which is before the priests the Levi’im. And it will be with him, and he will read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear Adonai his God and to observe all the words of this Torah and these statutes and do them. (D’varim 17:18-19)
It is a universal truth that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is also true that people seek leaders, and in doing so, give those leaders power. These are truths that the Torah understands and seeks to balance. It is expected the Israelites will want a king, a head of state, to be like the nations that surround them. More so, as a nation, there must be one individual who can speak to other nations. This is necessary for trade and for peace. Yet, the Torah still works hard to ensure that Israel will not simply be “like all the nations around,” nor will the king be. We have been told that we are to be a nation of priests, where all are holy, and so too the king must be.
To that aim, as a protection, the king is commanded to write out his own copy of the Torah, and once that is done, to read it daily. It’s a good educational model, employing three modalities. The king will experience the oral teachings of the Kohanim and Levi’im. He will personally write his own copy, and he will have to read from it every day. The hope is that using his ears, his eyes, and his hands the king will absorb these lessons so they become part of who he is.
It is an interesting thing to have a job that is also who you are. There are few in the world. If you work in sales, when you go home at night, you can, and should, leave your job behind. The same holds true for most. But if you are a head of state, you can never leave the job behind. Every hour of every day you are your job. Doctors may be on call, but not 24/7 every day of the year. Teachers’ hours extend well past the school day, but once done, they are done, and even get summers off. But some, like heads of state are on call every hour of the day, every day of the year. Even once leaving the position, you never know when you will be called upon to fulfill the role.
I remember a picture of PM Harper early in his term. He had taken his son to school. It was a normal parent thing to do. But PM Harper isn’t a normal parent. He is the Prime Minister. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t at the office. The Prime Minister is never off the clock. The press and political commentators picked apart every aspect of the drop-off, from what he was wearing to how he said goodbye to his son. How does one stay grounded and focused amidst that? The Torah’s answer is to remind the leader daily of whom he leads, why he leads, and how he is supposed to live. It is a regular refocusing. Every day the king will be reminded of the compassion commanded by our Torah, of our history, of the limits to his power. Every day he will have to think about the people he leads so they should be real to him instead of abstract.
It’s easy as leaders to think we know what is best. A leader should have a vision. Without it where will s/he lead? But just as important is a connection to the foundation upon which s/he stands and the people s/he leads.

Re'eh- Determining Our Own Destiny

Va’avartem et-haYardein vishavtem ba’aretz asher-Adonai Eloheikhem manchil etkhem v’heini’ach lakhem mikol-oyveikhem misaviv viyshavtem-betach.
And you will cross over the Jordan and settle in the land that Adonai your God causes you to inherit, and He will give you rest from all your enemies around, and you will dwell in safety. (D’varim 12:10)
When God brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, they came to the shores of the Reed Sea. Caught between the water and the pursuing Egyptian army, the Israelites cowered in fear. They were angry at their situation, at Moshe and at God. The text tells us that Moshe stretched his staff over the water. The wind blows, and eventually the sea splits. The Midrash, however, fills in the details. Midrash teaches that Nachshon ben Aminadav took a first step. He waded into the water determined not to go back to slavery and oppression. At first nothing happened. Nachshon continued in. Still, nothing happened. Nachshon moved further still. Only when the water was up to his nose, only when his choice was to sink or swim, only when God saw that he, though afraid, wad determined to follow this path, did the sea finally split.
Right now the verse, “And you will cross over the Jordan and settle in the land that Adonai your God causes you to inherit, and He will give you rest from all your enemies around, and you will dwell in safety.” Seems ironic at best and an outright lie at worst. With the horror of the terror tunnels and a potentially lethal Rosh Hashanah attack fresh in our minds, how can we see rest from our enemies? With the threat of missiles being launched at our people, how can we dwell in safety? I imagine this may have been similar to what the Israelites must have felt stuck between the dual threats of the sea and the Egyptian army. I assume they too felt the helplessness that I, and many others, have felt this summer. But then, one man realized that feeling helpless did not have to equal feeling hopeless. Nachshon ben Aminadav set out in the worst of situations to take control and determine his own future. In Birkat HaMazon there are additional short prayers added after the required brachot. One of these says, “Harachaman, Hu y’vareikh et-M’dinat Yisrael, reishit tz’michat g’ulateinu.” “May the Compassionate One bless the State of Israel, the beginning of the promise of our redemption.” Redemption is not easy. We are caught between the sea of public opinion and the armies of terrorism. So many of us feel helpless. We are angry. We are afraid. But we must not be hopeless. So many times we have stood on this precipice. Each time we have moved forward. Although we feel the waves bombarding us, we must continue in, moving forward, knowing that our actions determine our own redemption.

TOO Long, and not enough

It's been way too long since I posted. I mean really posted. Yes, some parshiyot have been going up, but even those are missing recently.

Why? I am suffering from sciatica. Pain is an amazing thing, especially ever-present pain. Even now, at 12:20 am, on percocet, I'm still in pain. I can't sit. I have trouble standing. Lying down is the worst. I can't tilt my head down because it pulls everything.  Mostly I pace, trying to find just the right position where the pain is alleviated for a moment.

It's getting better. But that's the weirdest thing about pain. One month ago, on a 1-10 scale, my level of pain was about a 14. Now it's a two, but it's ever-present, and somehow, my mind forgot how much it  hurt before. It's the infinite nature of this pain that makes me understand crazy people who do self-amputations. Good thing I'm not crazy, well, not that crazy.

I'm on my new couch (from Israel- more on that later) because our bed is too soft (we really need a new mattress) and causes the pain to increase. Even so, I'm "sitting" in some weird, modified yoga child pose. It causes the least pain, but is in no way dignified.

So why am I writing? One- I can't sleep. Pain does that. More importantly, I wanted to give a special shout out to my wonderful husband. He's usually a lousy caregiver. It's odd, because he's one of the most caring people I know. But he's simply not an intuitive caregiver. He gets caught up in stuff, and forgets that I can't do certain things. But not now. For a month and a half now he's been my driver, dropping me at work before minyan, and picking me up. He's taken kids to and from school and to doctor appointments. He's done the laundry. Made lunches. Shopped. Researched new mattresses. Put my socks and shoes on my feet, and even helped me dress.  He's picked up the amazing amount of things I seem to drop everyday, and run up and down the stairs as my errand boy. Plus, he's managed to be the Pride of Israel rabbi for the High Holidays; prepared seudah mafseket for Yom Kippur; set up for his parents' stay with us for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, drove his dad to the airport, built our sukkah, and arranged (and helped) get a neighbour's sukkah built.

Tonight he set me up on our couch (Sapapa, check them out), so I could hopefully sleep with less pain. He then got ready for bed, came back downstairs, and set up a bed for himself on the trundle so he could sleep near me. It's really a romantic gesture, and I love him very much.

Just wanted to put that out in the world.

Sleep well. Someone should.