Monday, August 21, 2017

Thoughts on Elul and the Solar Eclipse

Total solar eclipse
source: Wikipedia

 


I found this article by  Sara Debbie Gutfreund on Aish.com very thoughtful and hope you'll be blessed as you watch and think about the eclipse today.

Elul and the Solar Eclipse: Removing the Blocks to Find Meaning

Three steps to embrace the ever-present meaning in our lives.


On Monday August 21, 2017 as the Hebrew month of Elul begins, all of North America will witness an eclipse of the sun. The last time America saw a solar eclipse was in 1979. For approximately three hours the moon will pass between the sun and the Earth, blocking all or part of the sun from a given location.

For those who will be in the path of ‘totality’ it will appear to them for a few minutes that the light of the sun has disappeared. Even though we can’t see the sun during an eclipse, we know that it is still there. Similarly, there are times in our lives when the meaning and purpose in our lives isn’t visible to us, but it is still there waiting for us to see it.

Similar to the period right after three minutes of total darkness, when God moves the moon and reveals once again the powerful light of the sun, Elul is a special time when He makes it easier for us to rebuild our relationships and forge a deeper spiritual connection with Him.

Often we look for meaning outside of ourselves, but a meaningful life is really a mindset that we need to work on developing every day. There are three steps we can use to develop this mindset. The first step is believing that each of our lives has a purpose even if we aren’t yet sure what that purpose is.

We need to know that each of us is called to something just like we know that the sun is still shining behind the moon. Reconnecting with our faith that our lives matter and that our roles within this world are significant is the foundation of a meaningful mindset.

The second step to develop a meaningful mindset is recognizing that what ultimately makes our lives meaningful is giving to others and using our gifts to contribute to the world. When we make the meaning of our lives solely about our needs, we will find ourselves stuck in a dead end. Adding value to the lives of others is what opens up new opportunities and reveals to us different levels of meaning in our lives.

And the third step is realizing that happiness is not a goal that we can directly achieve, but instead it is often the result of living a meaningful life. Dr. Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, taught us that there are three things that give meaning to our lives: first, a project; second, a significant relationship, and third, a redemptive view of suffering. Happiness isn’t something that we can pursue; it must ensue from these three life areas – devoting ourselves to a higher cause, creating meaningful connections with others and seeing the pain and the obstacles in our lives as stepping stones to growth.

The Kotzker Rebbe said: “People are accustomed to look at the heavens and to wonder what happens there. It would be better if they would look within themselves, to see what happens there.”
In Elul we have the chance to look within ourselves and to find the gifts within us that are hiding behind the shadow of life’s distractions. This month is the time to learn from the lesson of the eclipse: the light has been here all along, waiting for us to see it and use it to grow."


 This article was sent as an e-mail from Aish.com.  While I do not agree with them in many areas, I found this article helpful.


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I sometimes share my posts with these friends: 

Spiritual Sundays     GRAND Social      Modest Mom Monday Link-up      The Art of Homemaking Mondays
   BLOGGING GRANDMOTHERS LINK PARTYTitus 2 Tuesday       TITUS TUESDAYS @CORNERSTONE CONFESSIONS    Share Your Cup Wednesday Wordless Wednesdays    Classical Homemaking Link-Up        Favorite Things Home and Garden Thursday at Delightsome Life  Paula's Weekend No Rules Blog Party Friendship Friday

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Thoughts on the Solar Eclipse

Image result for solar eclipse images public domain
source: Google Public Domain

When a pnehomenan like this occurs, people often become afraid.  Others immediately attempt to make money from it, including TV preachers. Shame on them.  I found this article on Aish.com today and thought it was good to share.

by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
  

The world will soon be witness to one of the most spectacular events in the universe.

On August 21 the sky will suddenly go dark in the middle of the day. The temperature will noticeably drop by many degrees in a few short moments. Birds will stop chirping and flee back to their nests. And millions of Americans will gather under the heavens, from Oregon to South Carolina, to view the first total solar eclipse to cross America in many decades.

It is an awesome spectacle – and throughout history, in many eras and in countless cultures, its occurrence was fraught with fear and consternation. For those who lacked the scientific knowledge to understand the temporary darkness due to the coverage of the sun by the overlapping of the moon, superstition bred many myths and fanciful folklore. The very word eclipse comes to us by way of old French from the Greek for abandonment or forsaking – as if the sudden darkness expressed divine displeasure so severe that God chose to temporarily remove the gift of his presence.

How do Jewish sources view a solar eclipse?

At the very beginning of the Torah, Jewish biblical commentators find a direct allusion to the phenomenon of an eclipse: “And God said, ‘Let there be luminaries in the expanse of the heavens … and they shall be for signs and for appointed seasons and for days and years’” (Genesis 1:14). What is the meaning of “for signs”? The classical commentary of Rashi tells us this refers to the times when the luminaries are eclipsed – and “this is an unfavorable omen for the world”!

Does that mean that we ought to now be very afraid?

Remarkably, Rashi concludes his commentary with a reference to words from the prophet Jeremiah: “… As it is said ‘And from the signs of the heaven be not dismayed, etc’ (Jeremiah 10:2) When you perform the will of the Holy One, blessed be He, you need not fear retribution.”

If an eclipse is a prediction of imminent divine punishment, as Rashi inferred from the verse, why would Rashi immediately negate that very idea with a quote advising us not to be dismayed or fearful of heavenly signs? The answer is profound and rooted in the supreme importance Jews attach to the concept of free will, the ability of mankind to directly affect their destiny by virtue of their self-chosen actions. The concept of Greek fate runs counter to Jewish thought; fate can be altered by faith. As the High Holy Day formula puts it, “Repentance, prayer, and charity override the evil decree.”

It's a moment that reminds us of God’s awesome power and goodness.
An eclipse may be an omen but it is not a verdict or a final judgment. It is a moment in time which serves as a reminder of God’s awesome power and goodness. Without the benefit of the sun, its light, its warmth, its power, its energy and its role in the solar system, we could not survive for a moment. That is why, with infinite wisdom and at preordained times on the calendar, God removes us from its rays for the briefest of times so that we might reflect on the miracle of its otherwise constant presence which we so readily take for granted. It is that which the Torah refers to as “a sign.”

A sign asks us to take note. It has a message. Fail to heed it and suffer the consequences reserved for those who take God’s gifts which make life possible for granted. It is not hard to believe that the Creator of the universe built signposts predicated on natural law as ongoing reminders for mankind.
The awesome message of an eclipse and its meaning for us has a remarkable parallel to a universal Jewish custom.

It is extremely important, NASA and other experts tell us, that we cover our eyes and not look directly at the sun when it happens. Failure to heed this counsel could lead to blindness. I cannot help but think of the very same admonition to cover our eyes when we recite the Shema. At the moment when we contemplate God’s uniqueness and greatness we indicate that His splendor is beyond the capacity of our vision; to think we truly see His essence with the limited perspective of our eyes is to be blind to the reality of His infinite magnificence.

The eclipse reminds us of a universe so much vaster than our ability to fully comprehend. Don't fear it, rather welcome it as a sign, as the Psalmist King David reminded us, that “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork”(Psalms 19:1).

This article was sent as an e-mail from Aish.com.  While I do not agree with them in many areas, I found this article helpful.


 ~ ~ ~ ~
I sometimes share my posts with these friends: 

Spiritual Sundays     GRAND Social      Modest Mom Monday Link-up      The Art of Homemaking Mondays
   BLOGGING GRANDMOTHERS LINK PARTYTitus 2 Tuesday       TITUS TUESDAYS @CORNERSTONE CONFESSIONS    Share Your Cup Wednesday Wordless Wednesdays    Classical Homemaking Link-Up        Favorite Things Home and Garden Thursday at Delightsome Life  Paula's Weekend No Rules Blog Party Friendship Friday

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sabbath Music - Brighten the Corner








This song is from my childhood, and I was reminded of it this week.  I remember this rendition of the song Brighten the Corner Where You Are by Burl Ives. 

The lyrics are included, so I hope you'll enjoy it, sing along, heed the words, and think about what you can do to brighten your corner in the week ahead.

Rest, worship, refresh, renew and enjoy your Sabbath.


~ ~ ~ ~
I sometimes share my posts with these friends: 

Spiritual Sundays     GRAND Social      Modest Mom Monday Link-up      The Art of Homemaking Mondays
   BLOGGING GRANDMOTHERS LINK PARTYTitus 2 Tuesday       TITUS TUESDAYS @CORNERSTONE CONFESSIONS    Share Your Cup Wednesday Wordless Wednesdays    Classical Homemaking Link-Up        Favorite Things Home and Garden Thursday at Delightsome Life  Paula's Weekend No Rules Blog Party Friendship Friday

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thankful Thursday - Refrigeration





This week, I'm thankful for all things related to refrigeration.  Things like my refrigerator, freezer, and most of all air conditioning.

Since I was born in the very early fifties and am a life-long Florida gal, I remember a whole different world than what we enjoy today. When I got married, in the late 1960's,  I had a 1950's refrigerator which required defrosting the freezer. It looked a lot like this:

Image result for 1950's refrigertor
1950's refrigerator. (source Bing.com)

This week, I was thinking about this fine old antique and the defrosting process.  I'd put pots of hot water inside the freezer and wait for the ice to drop.  It was a monthly chore since the ice built up pretty quickly.  I was beyond excited when we purchased a new, side-by-side refrigerator that had a frost-free freezer.  Oh, happy day!  Thank you, Father, for my wonderful, frost-free frig.

And air conditioning, oh how I love thee.  I remember growing up without it.  We slept with our (screened) windows open at night and had a big window fan that pulled the air through the house.  Believe it or not, it was cool.  But in the daytime, not so much.  All of the houses in our neighborhood had front porches, and people sat on them to stay cooler. My parents got a window air conditioner in the late 1960's, and I was spoiled forever.

 Image result for window air conditioner

 When I got married and left home, we didn't have an air conditioner.  We did have a big attic fan, though, and it kept the house cool in the daytime as well as night.  The house also had awnings that really helped keep the temperature bearable, too.  But I remember getting our first window air conditioner.  I was happy, happy, happy!  Thank you, Father, for air-conditioning, especially central air.

Not all cars had air conditioners back then either.  My first car, in 1967,  was a pretty little Chevy II, and it did not   I can remember driving that car with sweat rolling down my legs like a river.  And I'd get so irritated that I had to keep the windows down and my hair would blow around.  Ahhh....those were the days of Aqua Net hair spray, but even that couldn't hold hair blowing in the car wind.  The cars had little triangle windows that you could use to direct the wind toward you.  That, too, messed with the hairdo.  So, thank you, Father, for car air conditioning.

Image result for 1965 Chevy II Nova

I went through elementary, junior and high school without air conditioning.  The building had huge windows along the walls to let the air in, but that air was hot, so we were sweaty, believe me.  Churches were the same.  At least the churches had those nifty cardboard fans.


All of this got me thinking about another thing I'm thankful for . . . disposable diapers and electric dryers.  But that's a post for another day.  :)

I think it's good to reflect on the things we take for granted these days and be thankful for them.  We are blessed to live in this day and age, don't you think?

Thankful Thursday is my day to focus on and be thankful for all the good things in my life.  

~ ~ ~ ~
I sometimes share my posts with these friends: 

Spiritual Sundays     GRAND Social      Modest Mom Monday Link-up      The Art of Homemaking Mondays
   BLOGGING GRANDMOTHERS LINK PARTYTitus 2 Tuesday       TITUS TUESDAYS @CORNERSTONE CONFESSIONS    Share Your Cup Wednesday Wordless Wednesdays    Classical Homemaking Link-Up        Favorite Things Home and Garden Thursday at Delightsome Life  Paula's Weekend No Rules Blog Party Friendship Friday






Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Guts, Truth, and Common Sense


.
The horrible tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia this week has been heavy on my mind.  It's spurred me on to write this post.

I'll start out by letting you know that I condemn every hate group represented at that event.  My heart breaks for the mother who lost her daughter, and for those who were injured.  Violence revolts me.

Second, I'll say that the Confederate flag is not a symbol of white supremacy for me.  I'm a Southern gal whose ancestors fought in the Civil War.  I'm proud of my heritage, and I fly that flag in my yard to show my love for the South.  I'm not a racist.   We are Jews, and we know about hate, bigotry, and racism from personal experience.  My husband is a Southerner and a historian of the Civil War.  He has done years of research on the subject and speaks to groups to help them understand the truth about our heritage.  The characterization of Southerners as racist bigots is a lie propagated by the media, plain and simple.  I must remind you that we, as Southerners, have the First Amendment right to express our views and to fly our flag without fear.

Third, it is still not clear to me which group was permitted first to hold a protest in Charlottesville.  If it was a group such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans wanting to protect their Southern heritage, then I'm with them one hundred percent.  If it was a hate group that claims whites are superior to other races, then I'm one hundred percent against them.

The videos of the violence turned my stomach.  The way the network news handled it made me even sicker.   I began to feel hopelessness creep in.  I feel that every time I watch the network news.

But then, I watched President Trump's press conference yesterday and felt a great surge of hope shower over me.  I heard him say that ALL of the hate groups were at fault and condemned their actions.  He then went on to say (about the removal of Confederate statues), "Where do we go from here?  Will Lincoln or Washington or Jefferson statues have to be removed?  Where does this end?"

Finally, the voice of common sense was raised.  The truth was spoken.   My hope was renewed.  I sat still, basking in the knowledge that we have a great president.  I felt so glad that he's not afraid to speak up against the evil things happening in my country.


I've felt that hope every time he comes out with his frank expressions of truth.  America has lacked truth and common sense for a long time, my friends.  We've watched politicians pad their pocketbooks and their pride with backroom deals and good old boy shenanigans till we got sick of it.  We voted for Trump because he said he would "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN."  He talked about "draining the swamp," and we liked that.  We liked that he wasn't part of the swamp, and he didn't need anybody's money to build his empire.

So, he was elected. . . and now all of the devils in hell have come forth to beat him to a pulp.  They've been saying for the past two years that he could not get past his latest tweet, but he comes through with flying colors every time.  Why? Because we read his tweets and we like what he says.  We like that his words can't be twisted by the media propagandists.

I made the mistake of watching the network news again last night,  just to see if they'd air his entire statement.  Of course not! But they did air his condemnation of the hate groups and violence.  And they aired the statement about "where does it end?" Hip! Hip! Hooray!  But, I waited too long to turn it off.  They began to twist his words, and attack him without mercy.  I got so mad, I wanted to throw my shoe at the TV.  My calm, level-headed husband calmed me down and told me everything would be okay.

He's told me that so many times, friends.  I'm beginning to believe him now because I can see that Trump is not going to back down.  He's not going to cower and run away with his tail between his legs.  He's a man of conviction, and he's going to fight for us.  He IS fighting for us.  You won't hear about the good things he's done on the network news.

I encourage you to read and listen to the news from alternative sources.  Turn off the propaganda.  Read Trump's tweets.  Watch videos on Twitter and YouTube to hear his words without edits.  Here's the full press conference from yesterday.  This is from Fox New Phoenix.


Please pray for our President.  He's got a hard row to hoe, as my daddy used to say.  It's a big job to drain the swamp, and he has to fight off vicious snakes (politicians) and alligators (the liberal media), and it's not going to be easy.  Pray that he will be protected and that G-d will lead him in the paths of righteousness and justice.

Two years ago, I prayed and hoped for a change when the time drew near for Obama to leave office.  Donald Trump was not my first choice, but I am well pleased with the job he's done since taking office.  The man has a deep love of America, is unafraid to speak the truth, and he has common sense.

~ ~ ~ ~
I sometimes share my posts with these friends: 

Spiritual Sundays     GRAND Social      Modest Mom Monday Link-up      The Art of Homemaking Mondays
   BLOGGING GRANDMOTHERS LINK PARTYTitus 2 Tuesday       TITUS TUESDAYS @CORNERSTONE CONFESSIONS    Share Your Cup Wednesday Wordless Wednesdays    Classical Homemaking Link-Up        Favorite Things Home and Garden Thursday at Delightsome Life  Paula's Weekend No Rules Blog Party Friendship Friday