Sunday, December 14, 2014

Highs and Lows

Last Chanukah, we all prepared the menorahs with so much joy and excitement. We love Chanukah. I watched Yitzi prepare his menorah, shine it, set it up, and light the Shamesh. Suddenly his joy turned to confusion, now what?  He could no longer speak, and no longer make the blessings. I quickly turned to our oldest son and said "Please make the Bracha with Tatty".  A moment of surprise, followed by a moment of grief, then a beautiful smile and with his head held high, he made the Bracha with (for) his father. Almost the same voice, the same tune, and the same smile. At the first opportunity, I ran to my room to fall apart. All I could think of, was how much we had lost. I cried half of Chanukah (at least), until I finally caught myself. I refocused on all we still have and all we have gained. It was a monster of an effort, but it worked.
So here we are again. Comparing this year to last, wondering why I didn't appreciate what we had.  I had a husband that could walk, and dance, and light the menorah.  We were not bed bound, he could communicate with his phone.  And here I am, wondering if I will go through this again next year.
Is there a way to skip the first part, where I cry for days, and just focus on the amazing blessings we have?  I don't even know how to do that.  There is a cycle, with highs and lows. You can't just skip around can you?  My moments (or days) of fears and pain have always helped me to a greater understanding and a closeness to Hashem.  How can I do that without ruining Chanukah?  I honestly don't know. I have two days to figure it out.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I am with you

I will be your arms
I will be your legs
I will be your voice
I will be your entertainer
I will be your translator
I will be your link with the outside

You will be my heart
You will be my soul
You will be my best friend
You will be my strength
You will be my inspiration. 

And when you can
You will dance with me
You will sing with me
You will speak with me
You will eat with me
You will change the world with me

Until then
I wait with you
I dream with you
I pray with you

I am with you

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Today is a very special day for me. 19 years ago Yitzi and I got engaged. It was the beginning of our very special journey together. I knew then I had found a Prince. Not just from the perspective of a starry eyed 21 year old.  It felt like we were continuing something that had started thousands of years before. I recognized something unique in Yitzi the first second I saw him. I had never seen someone so happy, so full of excitement and life. I feel the same way now, just a lot more tired. Little did I know the kids would all have his energy.
Our lives together have been extremely blessed, and may it continue to be so for many more years.
Today I want to Bless you, who have yet to find your Prince or Princess. You should know that Hashem has a special plan for you and a special person for you. We do not always see our pathways laid out nicely in front of us. That is because we are royalty, we are the children of the King. We are not the ones behind the scene planning and arranging, we just show up with our best self possible, and Hashem takes care of the rest.  Be your best self, and trust in Hashem to make the plans. May we all say L'chaim together soon, at your L'chaim and wedding.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In Memory of the Holtzbergs

Six years ago, we experienced terror in our family. Far away, in Mumbai, with siblings I had never met. It was a long drawn out kind of terror. Knowing that they were being targeted and tortured and ultimately killed because they were spreading light. The biggest threat to the dark.  Over the next few weeks we all sat horrified as we learned the details of the attack and all about the beautiful family we lost.  When the tears stopped falling we all noticed we were not the same as we were before. We recognized the importance of family and of our mission. When we gathered together, we acknowledged that although I have never met you, you mean the world to me. I would do anything for you and would be heartbroken if any harm befell you.
Since my husband got sick, we have received an overwhelming amount of love and support, that I have always felt is a result of the Holtzbergs.  The pain of loosing fellow Shluchim was too great and something to be avoided at all costs. I know that this doesn't ease the pain, yet within the pain there is so much beauty. So many boys and girls bearing the names of these giants that continue to have such great influence over our lives.  The length we go thru to ease the suffering of our family members is a testament to the legacy of the Holtzbergs. They did not darken our lights they made us aware of how powerful it is. I am sure their holy Neshamas continue the fight upstairs, right next to G-d.
Very soon we will be reunited with all of our family. Our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and the many giants we have lost.

Friday, November 7, 2014

When Crazy is Normal

Just when you get used to the new normal, it changes. Now most of the time, Yitzi is in bed. (A very comfortable bed - may I say). We are beginning to use the Tobii communicator. It will take a while to be fluent in it, but it is amazing. With his eyes, he selects letters and words and the computer speaks them, and his face lights up when he can tell you how happy he is that you came to visit. Hopefully the blog will continue soon. The little kids climb into bed and snuggle with him while they practice their reading. The older kids learn and review for tests with him. It is a very different kind of life, not at all easy, but so beautiful. All we have is time to smell the roses. Time slows down in that room. Each word takes time and every sentence a few minutes. I do a lot of the talking, which believe it or not, is not my norm. I was always a better listener and Yitzi, a better speaker. Now he is the listener and I, the talker. I don't talk about politics or sports or what is happening in the world, because I want to keep it positive and I know nothing about sports. When I was thirty I learned that "The house that Ruth built" is not the Bais Hamikdosh. Imagine spending hours talking about good things, our children, and all the beauty around us.  It is not so easy.  All I need is his smile, and thank G-d, I get that a lot.  I do get to complain to him -thank G-d, because that comes naturally to me.  I almost think he enjoys that as well.
I don't wish this life on anyone, but I do wish you would take the time, and smell the roses. Love the smiles of your family, speak and listen, and take the time before it takes you.  Put what is important in your life on the front burner.  Fix your regrets, and forgive those who have wronged you.  Be full of love, hope, and joy as often as possible.  Allow your imperfections to be what they are, and not who you are.  Do not define yourself by your weaknesses and sad moments, you are so much more then that.  Acknowledge your pain and put it in its place.  Yet most of all, stare each other in the eyes and smile from your heart.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Year in Review Part 2

After taking the time I needed (and perhaps a little more) to consider and acknowledge all I have lost this year, it is time to recognize all I have gained. On a scale, the gains far out way the losses. This year my family grew from the nine of us to all of us. I have met you in my home, in the streets, online, and thru friends. You have given time, love, energy and dinner every night to my family. You have cried with us and laughed with us.  We met you on the streets of Jerusalem, Chevron, Temecula, Boston, New York and Los Angeles.  We spent Chanukah and Pesach with you. We are forever grateful for your warmth and words of encouragement. You tell us your miracle stories and reassure us that ours is around the corner.  You take my kids to the park and give them an extra hug.  How can I say just say thank you for all of that?  Our family would not be where we are today without you. 
Our lives are laden with emotion. Much of the emotion is love, hope, and joy mixed in with bouts of fear, an occasional angry and a whole lot of tired.  You never judge us, you let us be what we are at the moment. You cry with us and celebrate with us.  You leave us feeling loved and we are in awe of you. 
A few weeks ago, Yitzi wrote on his weekly Torah blog about the blessings and the curses. The question arose, if G-d is all good, how can there be curses?  And he answers that there are outright blessings and then a deeper good that comes into the world through difficulty and suffering. We don't see them as blessings at the onset however with time we recognize how they are truly blessings. 
I imagined a world where everyone had what they needed, there was no sickness and no problems. The more I thought about it, the lonelier it seemed. We help each other, we get to know each other. We work together to make this world better, on a community level and a personal level. How many people have you met while you were helping someone else?  We band together in times of perceived "curses" and amazing things happen. We get to know each-other. I am very aware of all of the blessings that have come from this awful sickness and it is beautiful. 
This Rosh Hashana, I am sure your prayers will reach the heavens. May Hashem answer all of our prayers. May He heal all of our broken hearts, and may we merit to live in peace and harmony, yet together as was always the intention. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Year in Review - Part 1

As the new year approaches, I've been thinking a lot of this past year.  Last year Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Succot we were in Temecula. We walked to the synogogue, and ate holiday meals together. My husband looked strong and healthy although he couldn't speak anymore and was having a lot of trouble eating. We were home with our community in our very precious Chabad House.  It's true I was preoccupied with trying to get a feeding tube put in and how ridiculous insurance companies are.  Yet we were so confident that our miracle was just around the corner.  I can't seem to wrap my head around the changes since then. How does that happen in one year?  It honestly breaks my heart. My children have been through so much, how is it possible for them to still smile and laugh?  It is kind of embarrassing to say, but my faith is struggling. I know many intelligent debates of G-d's plans and everything is for the good, yet I am perhaps too selfish to care about the long term good.  My soul is being held hostage and G-d is not telling me what the ransom is. We are stuck in this struggle of think good and it will be good, and the reality in front of us. Today the struggle is very heavy, perhaps tomorrow I will remember all of the amazing things we got to experience this year.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ramblings of a Broken Heart

It's time to get real. Life is hard. I thought I was handling it fairly decent, and then all of sudden it got too hard too quickly. The positive side of my brain has taken a break and all I'm left with is “Why?”. If all we know about G-d is true, why would He do this? Why would He create us as thinking, logical beings and put us in a world that makes no sense? Why, if the body is a tool for the soul to soar, is it now a jail? Why are all of the prayers and good deeds not enough? Why can this ever be for the good? Why isn't my husband angry? Why does G-d think I can handle this? Why does anybody think that?

I acknowledge that we are extremely blessed. There are many who do not have the life-vests we do to prevent us from sinking. There are many who are alone in their pain, without the love and support of friends, family, and community. On many days that is enough for me, to know that we are surrounded by unbelievably amazing human beings. But then I watch my husband get weaker and all I want is a miracle from G-d. It's not that I just want it, I need it to live. I am but half of a whole, and not even the better half. How does a person survive without a heart?

My logical brain says G-d wants something from us. He had a different path for us then the one we were on. So he loads us like a cannonball, and shoots us out. We landed so far from where we were, it is almost hard to recognize ourselves. We are in a different city, different schools, totally different lives. We have changed in many ways. We will never be the people we were before and that is fine. We have grown and become stronger. So thank you G-d for that. But now, You are breaking us. Would it not serve You better to remove this test? We are your biggest fans and we will use what we learned to help this broken world. You must know that. But there is nothing good about being too broken. The world has enough pain to last a millenia, is there really a need for more?

In the past few months I have seen something incredible. When a person hears of someone else breaking their foot, we feel bad for them. When we hear of someone's heartache, we actually feel pain for them. We cry for each other, we pray for each other, and we celebrate with each other. This Pesach was spent with many wonderful people. On the way home I saw my several of my children crying. When asked why they told me that their friends were going back to New York for their father's first Yarztheit, and that broke their hearts. Can you imagine that my kids have room for the pain of others? They hardly ever cry. G-d!!! Do you hear me? Is there no other way to accomplish what You need? Even the hearts of the broken have the capacity for compassion. Are we not in Your image?

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Sun is Rising

We all know this world has suffered many generations of tragedy and calamities, yet what we have experienced the last two months is different. There is no bad guy and no natural disaster, and while some have had serious sickness, many have been in apparently very good health, yet we have lost far too many.  To me this seems very unnatural. 

The world we live in is a world of G-dliness hidden within nature. When we see the G-dliness outside of nature, we call it a miracle. We are taught that this world is meant to function thru nature, where G-d remains hidden from us, and we will see revealed G-dliness when Moshiach comes and we are no longer in exile.

The past two months are supposed to be the happiest months in the Jewish calendar, yet we have seen tragedy after tragedy. We do not call it a miracle when we see G-d going beyond the natural realm in a negative way. The pain goes beyond what we as natural human beings can tolerate. Yet we are also beyond nature. We are G-dly beings. What we have done in the face of our heartbreak has been G-dly. We have changed the world in honor of our friends, our brothers, our sisters.  We have reached beyond our pain, our breaking point is even broken. We have held hands, comforted each other, and vowed to do more then we already do from around the world.

So I say this is something different, something larger then what our brains can comprehend, yet our souls sense that G-d is doing something different. Something is changing, and we sense it when we wipe away our tears. This is it, the big one, what we have all been waiting for.

Wipe away your tears for Shabbos and recognize the change. Hope for what it is bringing and look forward to seeing our brothers and sisters again very soon.

May your Shabbos be special and beautiful. And May Hashem erase the tears from our faces forever.