Monday, January 30, 2012

Rav Kook

Tovah Leah, my teacher for Personalizing Prayer, and Relationships class, cites Rav Kook nearly everyday! I finally realized that I loved almost every quote that she brought from him.  So last week I bought a book that compiles Rav Kook's thoughts on the Parshiot, the weekly Torah portions.

Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935) was the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the British Mandate for Palestine, the founder of the Religious Zionist Yeshiva Merkaz HaRav, Jewish thinkerHalachistKabbalist and a renowned Torah scholar. He is known in Hebrew as הרב אברהם יצחק הכהן קוק HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, and by the acronym הראיה (HaRaAYaH) which in English means "evidence", or simply as "HaRav." 

Last week, in Bo, Moshe leads the Jewish people out of Egypt and G-d commands us to have Pesach, (Passover) and to not eat leavened products during these days. Rav Kook talks about freedom, and that there are two kinds, one, the well known is to not be enslaved, to not be subjugated. But he also says that we can be a slave no matter our social standing, (and this is my favorite quote from last week,) "What makes us truly free? When we are able to be faithful to our inner self, to the truth of our divine image (tzelem Elokim) - then we can live a fulfilled life, a life focused on our soul's inner goals." When we are truly faithful to who we are inside, we can finally be free of trying to please others, to stop trying to be someone else, and really love who we are. At this moment we are the best we can be, and honestly strive for the things that we actually want and need.

I am sure I will have more from the Parsha and from Rav Kook for you in the future! I'm becoming a big fan!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ulpan Or at Pardes!

I had ulpan today at Pardes for the educators. We have Hebrew classes for the next four weeks before we go for our student teaching. I am really motivated! I want to be fluent in Hebrew so much!!!!!!!!!!

These are the words I learned today:

להפליץ - to fart
להפציץ - to bomb
לנצל - to exploit
להשוות - to compare - to equal
לשפר את - to improve
להתנגד ל - to oppose
למחות - to protest
מחאה - protest
מחאות - protests
גידול - raise/growth
תנאי - תנאים - conditions
לפחות - at least
צורך - necessity
שיחה - conversation
מסים - taxes
מידע - information
משכנתה - mortgage
תקציב - budget
מפלגות - political parties
משרד האוצר - treasury
מחקר - research
להשפיע - to affect
השפעה - the effect/influence
תמיכה - support

Start studying!!

Arava Tiyul

Over the semester break I went to the Arava, or Eilat mountains in southern Israel with a small group from Pardes. We stayed at Kibbutz Keturah and we had an amazing time! Even some of the new students from the spring semester joined us, so it was great to meet them!

Yishai hiking in his favorite land.

Group picture from the first day hike.

We love TORAH!! Even when hanging on cliffs and mountains! 


The clouds on the 3rd day of the tiyul was amazing! This picture is unreal and barely edited! 

The kibbutz where we were has Israel's largest solar panel field. They want to make more in the south. Considering it only rains down there 5 times a year, I think it's a good place for them!
Me and Yishai hiking! 

Third taking one of the pictures you can see above!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

A Shabbat Experience

All week I had been excited to spend my Shabbat in the "Gush" with two of my teachers. They always have students in their homes for Shabbat, and the anticipation had been building since I heard about other students wonderful experiences.

We (Hannah, Yishai, and Amber) left Jerusalem around 1:30, which was way too early, but we didn't want to be late for Shabbat! It was wonderful that we were early because we got to help make challah.

Yishai and Hannah making challah! 

We're ready for Shabbat!!!! 

Fun challah shapes! 

Right after candle lighting we went to shul at a beautiful synagogue right in the middle of the town. There were two, one Ashkenazi and one Sephardi. The outsides were parallel structures, but the insides were very different and reflected each culture. Kabbalah Shabbat was traditional and relaxing, followed for Maariv. 

We then we went Michael's (my academic adviser at Pardes) house for Shabbat dinner. They have five children, but only four were at home. One was in a neighboring community for a Bar Mitzvah. I cannot describe how much love I felt in this home.  All the children were so respectful of each other. The mother had one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard, and when she was singing the Shabbat prayers it was like the music was going directly into your soul. All the kids couldn't wait for their Shabbat blessings from their dad, and they all had the utmost respect and love for their parents. We listened to a Dvar Torah (a speech about the weekly Torah portion) and sang songs and ate DELICIOUS food! We also answered questions in one of the daughter's school books in Hebrew about the weekly Torah portion which was really fun! Also, their oldest son beat me at 3 games of backgammon, I would call that Shabbat luck. 

After a brisk and chilly short walk home we sat around Tovah Leah's table and talked some more until we were all too tired to schmooze anymore. In the morning, I didn't wake up! And Tovah Leah woke up, but we were late to shul and I missed Michael singing from the Torah! I was really upset! I will have to ask him for a repeat at school this week, I heard he was fabulous and I don't doubt it one bit. 

Lunch was just as warm and loving as dinner the night before. Tovah Leah's cooking is amazing! Her husband is also a wonderful role model of a loving father and husband.  We talked about Torah and Judaism and our lives. And we laughed and sang. 

After Mincha we took a walk around Alon Shvut and Tovah Leah pointed out Jerusalem, Hevron, and other surrounding villages. The place is so beautiful and air is so fresh and clean.  It's hard to realize that these homes are so political when things are so calm and peaceful. From this perspective, it is much easier to understand "the settler movement." Yishai described Alon Shvut the best, he said, "Torah is alive here." And he's right. The entire community is living in the way of Torah, from the smallest Halakah, to the simplest commandments of respecting your parents and love your neighbor. 

It was really a Shabbat, a peace, a love, and an experience I will never forget.