Sunday, November 2, 2014

Moishele Good Shabbos

From Reb Shlomo Katz's Facebook page: 

Dearest Friends,

A good story takes you back in time.

A holy story doesn't have to, it keeps on taking place.

Tonight is the yahrzeit of R’ Moshe Heschel, also (and mainly) known as Moishele Good Shabbos.

While attending a wedding of dear friends just a few years ago, our lives changed forever. Before telling you exactly why, PLEASE refresh your memory, and open your hearts to one of the most powerful moments in Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s life.

Reb Shlomo ztz'l:

I don’t want to tell you sad stories, it's not really sad, maybe a little bit, but it’s a gevalt. Every person needs a Rebbe. Sometimes you meet somebody and it mamesh reaches you so much that it mamesh carries you your whole life. So one of my Rebbes, which I saw just twice or three times in my life, was a Yid and his name was Reb Moshe.

My father was a Rabbi in Baden Bei Din, in Austria, and here comes 1938. I don’t want to mention their name, the other side began to take over. In Germany it was not so dangerous yet to walk on the street, but in Vienna it was mamesh dangerous from the first day on. Yidden couldn’t go to shul anymore, especially my father.

So on Shabbos morning it was only dangerous from 8 o’clock on, but between 5am and 8am it was less dangerous, and my father would make a minyan in the house. People would come at six o’clock and would mamesh daven so fast. Kriyas Hatorah would also go by real fast because everyone wanted to be home before 8.

My brother and I were little kids. When you don’t see people all week long, you are mamesh hungry to see a person. So I remember my twin brother and I, we were nearly up all Friday night. We couldn’t wait, we wanted to open the door for the minyan that would come in the morning.

There was usually a knock at the door, and we would see a yid standing there with  such fear. I would open the door just a little bit and he would slip through the door, and then I would close it real fast.

But then one Shabbos, I remember it was Parshas Bamidbar. There was a knock, and I went to open the door. I’ll never forget it. I see a Yid with little peyis, and little beard. But this yid? He’s not afraid. He started singing:

Good Shabbos good Shabbos. Good Shabbos good Shabbos, Good Shabbos good Shabbos, Good Shabbos good Shabbos, Good Shabbos good Shabbos, Good Shabbos good Shabbos, Oy Good Shabbos good Shabbos, Good Shabbos.


This Yid was mamesh in another world.

He walked in and he walks up and down and the whole time he is singing Good Shabbos good Shabbos.

Then he turns to me, I’m a little boy and he says to me in Yiddish, “what is your name, what is your name,”

I didn’t want to G-d forbid stop the melody, so I answered him back singing, “my name is Shlomo, what is your name.”

He said “Moishele, Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos, Oy Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos.”

So my brother and I called him “Moishele Good Shabbos”.

This Moishele came in for the minyan and we began to daven fast. Basically when it comes to Nishmas Kol Chai you are not permitted to talk, but obviously Reb Moishele, just couldn’t hold back. He said to the chazzan 'prayers are supposed to go up but the way you are davening is making everything go down because you are davening so fast.' And he was crying. ‘Yiddelach’, he says, ‘maybe this is the last Shabbos we will have in our lives. Is this the way to say Nishmas Kol Chai?

So the chazzan said, ‘I don’t know any better’.

I’ll remember it till Mashiach is coming. Moishele walks to the amud.

He started singing: Nishmas Kol Chai Tevarech Es Shimcha Hashem Elokeinu Veru'ach Kol Basar Tefa'er Useromem... and he was using the same tune he walked into the house singing.

But you know friends, he davened the whole davening with this niggun. The repetition, kedushah, everything. Then they read the Torah, and by that time it was already 10:30but nobody mamesh cared. Moishele mamesh lifted up everyone, nobody had fear anymore.

Finally the davening was over at around 11 and my mother brought in wine to make Kiddush. Now I want you to know, the windows were always closed and the shades were down. Moishele says, ‘when you make Kiddush, you have to open the windows. You have to say Kiddush for the whole world’.

People started saying ‘Moishele, this is just too much. The people in the street want to kill us’.

‘Who are they’ Moishele says, ‘the children of Esav? they are our cousins. You know why Esav is Esav? Because he forgot what Shabbos is. Maybe if some Yid would scream V’shamru B’Nei Yisrael Es Hashabbos, maybe Esav will remember what he learned by his father Yitzchak’.

He opened the windows and Moishele was standing by the window. You could mamesh see the Germans walking up and down the street. He mamesh had the wine outside of the window and he was singing with the same melody:

“V’shamru B’nei Yisroel Ess haShabbos…..”

After davening my parents invited him to eat with us and Moishele began telling us his story, with so much tzniy’us and anava (modesty), half telling half not telling. ‘I want you to know’ he says, ‘I am on the black list of the Germans’. It was then that my family realizes that we recognized Moishele. His picture was on every street corner. It said 'the most wanted Jew by the Furor.' What was his crime? If you remember, thousands of Yidden were arrested and nebech, their wives and children were dying from hunger. Moishele was up all night carrying food to every house.

This was Parshas Bamidbar, and on Pesach (approximately two months prior) he brought matza to two thousand families in Vienna.

He told us that one night they caught him and hit him over the head but at the last moment, he said that the Ribbono Shel Olam gave him strength and somehow managed to turn away and run off. ‘So during the day I cannot walk on the street, so I’ll stay here till Shabbos goes out’.

Before he left he turned to us and said ‘I want to come again, most probably I’ll come Wednesday night’. Now friends, I want you to know how shabbosdik he was. He says ‘I’ll come Wednesday night and it will be around 4 o’clock in the morning and I will knock on the door seven times l’Kovod Shabbos (in honor of Shabbos) and you will know it's me’.

Wednesday night came and I mamesh could not sleep all night, waiting for Moishele Good Shabbos to come.

At around 4:30 we hear mamesh a subtle knock, seven times. We open the door and Moishele is standing by the door singing:

Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos

We asked him where is this niggun from. Moishele told us that he was in Lublin on Rosh Hashana, davening with the Breslover chassidim. He heard this Niggun from the old chassidim who told him this was the niggun which Reb Nachman himself davened too. It was the first time we ever heard of Reb Nachman.

He stayed in our house all night long singing. That was the last time I saw him.

We left for America and my brother I went to Mesivtah Toras VaDa'as. Everyone that came to the Mesivtah … we mamesh taught them Moishele’s Niggun.

Later on I had the privilege of meeting so many young people, especially in San Francisco. I had the house of love and prayer, it was a gevalt. I want you to know, this niggun turned on hundreds of thousands of people to Shabbos. Not to be believed.

The most important thing is that I taught all those kids that even on Wednesday night we say good Shabbos. We are living in an age before Mashiach, we cannot wait till Shabbos to say good Shabbos. You can say good Shabbos all the time.

Anyway, this all took place 1938, and in the meantime, time is flying. And I don’t want to tell you bad things but just open your hearts. A few years ago I was walking on the street in Tel Aviv on Ben Yehuda by street, by the Yarkon river. Suddenly a Yiddele from Vienna see me. ‘Aren’t you Shlomo Carlebach’, and I said ‘yes’. 'Do you remember Moishele, you know, Moishele from Vienna?'

Somehow it struck me and I said, ‘you mean Moishele Good Shabbos? Is he still alive?’

He says to me, ‘there’s a little park by the river, let’s walk down there and I’ll tell you the story.

I want you to know, I was one the closest friends of Moishele good Shabbos.

(By the way, I thought my brother and I were the only ones who called him Moishele good Shabbos. Obviously everyone called him that. All of Vienna called him Moishele good Shabbos)

Moishele finally got himself a false passport, an English passport. Moishele had two children, a little boy and a little girl. He, his wife and two children were sitting on the train leaving Austria, with a passport to go to London. And this yidele says 'I was there on the train'. His wife kept on begging him Moishele, ‘please don’t sing’, and he was singing this niggun nonstop. ‘Please’, she said, ‘don’t make any noise. Wait until we go out of the border’.

The train is slowly leaving, but Moishele couldn’t hold back. ‘I have to sing Good Shabbos one more time to say so long to Vienna, I have to say goodbye to the city where my family had so many high moments on Shabbos’. He opened the window and started singing one last time ‘Good Shabbos Good Shabbos Good Shabbos Good Shabbos’.

The most heartbreaking thing happened. Since his picture was all over the city, one of the people on the train recognized him and called over one of the Germans. They stopped the train and dragged off Moishele. ‘And I swear to you’, this yidele told me. ‘Moishele didn’t stop singing Good Shabbos till that final whip which killed him’.

Now I want you to know something incredible.

A few years later, I was supposed to go to do a concert in Manchester on Sunday. and the way to go to the concert was that I had to leave Tel Aviv Friday morning and I was thinking of going to London and then Sunday I would go to Manchester.

While we are flying, they announce that there is a gas strike in London and they are landing in Zürich. Anybody who wants to go to London when they get to Zürich - they would take care of it and it would be a minimum16 hour delay, on Friday afternoon.

So one Yid who was sitting next to me says ‘why don’t you got to Antwerp for Shabbos and from there, there will be a ship that leaves at six o’clock in the morning and gets to London at 12 and from there go to Manchester’. This Yid who is sitting next to me on the plane invites me for Shabbos and I say yes, so I end up in Antwerp.

It’s two hours before Shabbos, and I’m on the streets of Antwerp. Suddenly, someone walks up to me, I know this face, but I didn’t know who this person was. He was so sweet. He says to meet, ‘Shloime’le, come to my house for Shabbos’.

I told him ‘Thank you zise yidele, I’m already going to this Yiddele who I met on the plane but give me your telephone, if I have a Melaveh malka I’ll invite you’. So he writes down his name, Lazer Heschel.

After he left I said, I asked my host ‘who is this Heschel’. He said to me, ‘don’t you know, he’s the son of Moishe Heschel, Moishele Good Shabbos’.

Gevalt, I couldn’t believe it.

We have a Melaveh malka, and this Lazer Heschel shows up. I asked him, ‘do you know your tatty’s niggun?’

‘What niggun’ he says to me.

The most heartbreaking thing was that he was too small to remember. Suddenly it became so clear to me that the whole gas strike in London was only that I should be in Antwerp and I gave him over his father's niggun.

And then I remembered.

The last time I saw Moishele, before he walked out he was standing by the door for a long time and he sang with the his same niggun

“Tzur Yisroel Tzur Yisroel Kume Be'ezras Yisrael Ufdei Chinumecha Yehuda Veyisroel.…”

He looked at us and said ‘promise me you will teach this Niggun to everyone you meet. Teach your children’, and then he said ‘teach my children’.

What do we know friends?


Back to 2010.

We were invited to the wedding of dear friends which took place in the outskirts of Beit Shemesh.

The wedding was awesome. The colorful range of Shtreimels and hippies singing and dancing together was .

Our dear friend and teacher, R' Sholom Brodt had the zchus to marry off the couple.

After the chuppa, a young chassidishe yid, a princely looking chassid came up to R Sholom asking him if he was using the tune of Moishele Good Shabbos for the brachas under the chuppa. R Sholom said yes and asked him why he is asking.

'I am Moishele great-grandson, it's my great-grandfather's Niggun, how do you know this niggun' replied this yid.

We all began to come up to this very young, shy and humbled yid. We couldn’t believe it… we felt we were all part of the story. One by one, we came up to him, bursting with utter simcha and total amazement. This chassid never saw anything like this, and hinted to me that this was very overwhelming for him.

How do I begin to explain to him who his great-grandfather is to us, and to thousands and thousands more? How do I begin to explain to him that thousands of yiddelach daven to his great-grandfather's niggun every day, every Shabbos, every holiday? How do I begin to give over to him who his great-grandfather was to our Rebbe?

He approached me a few minutes later and asked me if I was driving back home, and if I had room in the car for him, his wife and two children. Crazily enough, he only lives 15 minutes away from us. I was humbled beyond belief by the thought of driving him and his family home.

As we closed the door of the car, and a 25 minute ride approaching us, I began to seriously feel Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succos, all at once. It was so beyond my wife and myself.

But then, thank G-d I remembered I had the audio of Reb Shlomo telling over the whole story of Moishele Good Shabbos. We put it on - and literally felt that we were being part of witnessing the past, present and future all meet in holy oneness.

This chassid, whose name is Eliezer Heshel, the son of Moshe Heshel, the son of Eliezer Heshel, the son of Moishele Heshel – thee Moishele good Shabbos… he had never heard the story before. He knew some facts and some stories about his great grandfather, but other than being familiar with the tune… he didn’t know much more.

He sat behind me, and all I could hear while Reb Shlomo ztz'l was davening away in the backround, was Moishele's great-grandson's amazement. Pshhhh…psssss. He was literally going out of his mind.

His wife (who is related to the kalla of the wedding we were at) gave me their home number. Eliezer told me that they have a picture in an old family picture album… one picture of their great-grandfather. He is going to dig it out of the storage in his parents house, and get it to us.

As he got out of the car and was about to walk into his home, he turned to me and said 'May the zchus of my great-grandfather Moishele stand for you, your family and your friends forever.'

I spoke to him a few nights later, and he told me that all they know is that Moishele's ashes are buried somewhere in Vienna. He then told me that Moishele's yahrtzeit is coming up, the tenth of Cheshvan, just six days before our Rebbe's yahzrteit.

‘Come by, I think I found something for you’.

I drove to his house with utmost excitement, wondering what he found.

The picture attached is what he gave me, a picture of his great-grandfather, Moishele Good Shabbos.

The eyes say it all.

Good Shabbos Good Shabbos

Shlomo & Bina Katz

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Today is the 4th of Ram Cheshvan, the anniversary of death for the Rebbe of Piaseczna and all the other kedoshim that were part of the liquidation of the Trawniki labor camp.
So what am I missing? Simply to be a Jew. I see myself as a self portrait...Just one thing is missing: the soul. 
God! Master of the World, Who sees my innermost secrets! Before You I confess. You I beseech! I feel so cast aside and distanced from You and from Your holy Presence! Help me - I want to become a simple Jew! 
God! Save me from wasting the rest of my years and chasing the illusions of life! Draw me closer and bring me into Your innermost Presence! Bind me to You forever and ever in wealth of spirit and soul! - Rav Kalonymous Kalman, Tzav v'Ziruz
Oh, Rebbe...

How is it that every word of your holy writings seems to speak directly to my core, the root of my neshama? No matter what my situation is at the moment I can find relevance in your wisdom.

I, too, want to be a Jew.

Unlike you, I am far from perfect, if not drastically so. So much so that I hesitate to look to you, to bind myself to your teachings and legacy, so as not to sully your reputation and zchuyot by association.

In honor of your yahrtzeit, I wanted to do something different, to separate this day from other days. But even that was a challenge that I struggled to surpass. So instead I decided to serve HaShem with simplicity today. To just pray to Him as I am. To be as real and honest as possible - accepting where I am but not resigned to the position - so that I can look forward, seek beyond the sky and clouds, and get a glimpse of the Throne of Glory and the Almighty King.

And maybe, you'll be sitting there as well, basking in the Divine. And you'll have some nachas from me...

Behold, I attach myself in my prayers, to all the true tzadikim in our generation, as well as to all the holy tzadikim who rest in the earth. -- And specifically, to my holy Rebbe, the Sacred Fire Rav Kalonymous Kalman ben R' Eliezer and Chana Bracha, may his memory shield us, may God avenge his blood.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Ocean of Tears

Text courtesy of Dixie Yid; Rav Moshe Weinberger said this story over a few years back at the end of Pesach. It's been on my mind a lot lately.

There's an amazing story about what happened after Reb Ytzchok Vorker was Niftar. 

Reb Yitzchok Vorker was very close to Reb Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. After his fathers passing, Reb Mendel of Vorka was very upset that his father had not communicated with him at all, not even in a dream. Some time after the shiva, he decided to go talk to his father's close friend, Reb Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. 

When he got there the Kotzker asked him what his father had said. Reb Mendel told him there had been only silence. The Kotzker then said that he he had also heard nothing from the Rebbe, so he decided to go look for him in Shomayim. By purifying himself and using certain names of Hashem, he had been able to ascend to there. He was able reach the Heichal (palace) of the Avos. He asked if they had seen Reb Yitzchok of Vorke. They answered that he had been there but left. After that he had gone to see Moshe Rabbeinu ע"ה, but he received the same answer. The Kotsker then explained that he had gone from Heichal to Heichal visiting all the greatest Tzaddikim and everywhere he received the same answer "he was here but he left". 

Growing increasingly desperate, the Kotzker had gone through unbelievable difficulties and trials, but was finally able to make it all the way up in Shamayim, to the Ken HaTzippor (the Palace of the Bird's Nest), where Moshiach sits and waits to bring the Geulah. And there he had asked Moshiach himself if he had seen Reb Yitzchok of Vorke. But the answer was the same "he was here but he left". The Kotsker asked what he could do to find him, and was told to look for him past the great forest that lies at the far edge of Shomayim. He started in that direction and soon found the thickest, darkest forest he had ever seen. It was extremely difficult to get through it, but with great effort he was able to make it. He finally reached a great ocean, with enormous and frightening waves all the way up to the highest levels. There he saw an old Jew with a shtekel, a walking stick, sitting perched on a cliff overlooking the frightening sea. He was sitting there quietly looking at the waves. The Kotzker got closer and realized it was his friend Reb Yitzchok of Vorka. 

He approached him and asked him "Reb Yitzchok, what are you doing here? You could be with the Avos or in a palace learning Torah with Rabbi Akiva and Moshe Rabbeinu. I looked for you all over, in the places that are fit for a Tzaddik to reap the rewards of his place in the world to come. Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe Rabbeinu, even Moshiach are looking for you. What are you doing here?" And Rav Yitzchok answered "Yes, I was by all of those places but I couldn’t stay there yet. So I left and I came here." He then asked "Do you know what this ocean is?" The two Tzadikim stared at the waves loudly crashing below them as they stood atop the rocks above.

Reb Yitzchak explained that the ocean was made of all the tears the Jewish people have shed throughout the years of their bitter Galus. "And I vowed to Hashem not to move from this place until the Galus is over and all the Jewish tears are wiped away".  

We need to understand how much each of our tears mean to Hashem. 

Rav Yitzchok D'vorka kept silent in his last days in the aspect of "מא תיצעק אלי" (Why do you cry out to Me?), of "ואתם תחרישון" (and you will be silent). He was able to understand the times of "B'almim" because he had spent his whole life living with "B'eilim", doing for others and never giving up on a Jew. He waits silently by the Ocean of Tears, crying together with us as we await the thunderous end of the years of silence.

Monday, October 20, 2014

ZUSHA: EP release announcement/review

I am pleased to help spread the word that ZUSHA is set to release their debut EP this coming week, October 28th; a special release party is scheduled for the Sunday prior to that with folk singer Levi Robin.
ZUSHA is guitarist Zacharia Goldschmiedt, percussionist Elisha Mlotek and singer Shlomo Gaisin. These three friends combine their energies and draw from a wealth of influences to create a sound that is at once familiar and fresh. A mix of world music combined with the heart and soul of chassidut, ZUSHA's eponymous EP is a welcome addition to my playlist.

Gaisin (who may be familiar to readers as half of the creative team behind JudaBlue) has demonstrated considerable growth as a vocalist. His soulful crooning has a transcendent effect as the tracks progress from a simple setup into a melodical exploration that almost begs the listener to sway along with the music. Most of the tracks are niggunim, wordless meditations that provide a tapestry upon which the listener can project his own personal meaning. My only real criticism at this point is directed toward the three tracks that have lyrics: while the music/lyrical content are indeed complementary, I always struggle when I hear the same verses/lyrics used time and again (the second track "Peace" uses the oft-repeated expression of Rebbe Nachman Ein yi'ush b'Olam b'chlal as one example). I recognize that the causal link is because there is something significant about those particular expressions, but it can also be indicative of a superficial familiarity with the source material. But I digress - young musicians becoming drawn in to the world of chassidut is a good thing, and I choose to view this as an expression of neophyte excitement.

"Yoel's Niggun" evoked strong feelings that continued long after the initial listen; the best way to describe it is hirhurei Teshuva, making me glad I heard it before Hoshana Rabbah. The final track "Tzion" is a personal favorite; the a capella version below is only a taste a what it is.

One last comment: the band's bio describes them as neo-Chassidic, which is more often a term used to describe groups in the Renewal movement and other groups outside of Orthodoxy. Association is a strong thing, and I don't identify with the need to distinguish myself as a neo-Chassid. Just an observation.

Overall, the debut EP is a strong offering, and I'm looking forward to see what the group does after their tour following the release.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sukkat shalom...

״וחמושים עלו בני ישראל...״ (שמות יג:יז )

Rav Tzvi Meir Zilberberg quotes the sefarim hakedoshim that explain that "chamushim" (armed) has the root word חמש, which serves as an acronym that reminds us of the three major festivals. Pesach is the time of חירותינו; Shavuot is מתן תורתינו; and Sukkot is known as שמחתינו. These three descriptions in fact refer to the different "weaponry" we Jews have at our disposal - the last one which is associated with Sukkot is the "skill" of joy and comes to us as we draw ever closer to the days of Moshiach. An emphasis needs to be placed on this particular quality as we encounter a progressively darker world.

I'm reminded of this every year as we emerge from the Days of Awe and segue into the whirlwind of activity that is the month if Tishrei. It resonates with me especially now as I attempt to find balance amid the many aspects of my life that constantly vie for my attention.

I had a difficult time preparing adequately for the Yomim Nora'im; a part of that is definitely attributed to the consequences of moving further away from a time when I was immersed in relatively unfettered pursuit of spirituality of my yeshiva years, but it's not only that. Husbandry, parenthood, professional responsibilities, and even the obligation of maintaining the rigorous schedule of Daf yomi all tend to eclipse my other limmudim. I find it considerably more difficult to find time to learn the things that speak to my shoresh neshama although audio shiurim do provide an outlet.

I also become increasingly, painfully aware of my limitations and weaknesses in both the Bein Adam l'makom and l'chaveiro areas. My davening hasn't improved, and I still find myself thinking petty thoughts about my peers even if I hold myself back from reacting to them.

Moreover, I find myself in unfamiliar positions, perceived as a representative of the mainstream and an authority figure in the drop-in center among not only the kids we work with but my fellow volunteers. I have to struggle with an urge to "show" that I'm not the Man and it's surreal.

I went into Rosh HaShana feeling somewhat low; the first day was so difficult. The second day a felt a slight lifting of my spirit, but nothing that raised my spiritual Geiger counter needle significantly.

Yom Kippur was a mix. I found myself unable at times to concentrate even marginally, and that hurt. Surrounded by people shedding tears even as a conceit (as recommended regarding Ne'ila), I couldn't bring myself to do so, either.

But last night I went to purchase my lulav and etrog. I buy from a relative of my wife's who is a special person, a genuinely nice talmid chacham who enjoys what he is doing and desks with people with infinite patience. We discussed Sukkot, shmitta, and a number of topics as we looked for "my" lulav. The whole process took a little less than an hour, but at the end as I left with my new minim (species), I felt confident that I had found the right match. Inexplicably, I felt a sensation of lightness as a returned to my car and carefully placed the lulav in the passenger side. Something about preparing for the mitzvot of the Chag gives me a lift; late last night I prepared the rings that we use to bind the lulav and the process was a meditative one.

Sukkot shares a similar quality with the mitzvot of living in the Holy Land and mikvah - all three are performed by involving the entire body in the act. The seven species are a prominent theme in the decor of the Sukkah, and serve to remind us of where we really belong. All these things fill me with a feeling of nostalgia, and as I spend the majority of my time in the Sukkah over the course of the Chag this little hut becomes more of a refuge for me from all of the insanity of the world throughout the year.

I think Sukkot has displaced Chanukah as my favorite holiday...

Monday, September 1, 2014

Open Letter: Fresh Starts

I don't know if you left yet and whether or not you'll get this, but I just wanted to wish you lots of success in this upcoming school year. I hope you're excited about the new opportunity in a school where very few (if any) people know you; I remember that that was one of the things you complained about regarding schools in our more immediate area - that the reputation resulting from your family's problems follows you wherever you go. Hopefully you've found that anonymity and can use it to your advantage to grow. 
You had a great summer - as much as we helped facilitate that by getting you into XXXXXXX, the real credit goes to you for making a conscious decision to seek and have a positive experience. You can do that again, you can continue having great experiences by continuing to make responsible choices. 
It will be hard. Your reality and your environment for the time being basically guarantees that, and there will be many instances when it will be the easier choice to take a path of least resistance and do what's familiar and what "feels better" in the short run. But I promise you that if you keep making the effort to grow, you will become a better person for it. You will mature. You will be more compassionate for others who are struggling, and you may even be a happier person as well.
It is so important to find a positive role model in your school environment and continue checking in with people. Don't  hold things inside where they can fester and eat you up - remember that there is always more room on the outside than there is on the inside. 
You have an opportunity right now in the next few weeks before Rosh HaShana to establish the direction that the coming school year will take for you. While things can always change later on, it's always better to set off in the right direction than to change course later in the journey when you have to struggle against momentum and time lost.
I'm only telling you this because I believe in you and your desire to do good, to be good. I'm sure you're going to rock!
With blessings or success and a wonderful year!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Grandmother's Prayer

Lord on high
Let my children be healed
Help them to keep their faith in You
Soothe their pain
Let my grandchildren know no more uprooting
Let them run barefoot and joyful
Once more
In a homeland free of blood-running
Stretch out Your wings over them
Envelope them in Your protection
Enable them to grow and to love
In spite of the evil in the world
And in our land.
Grant our leaders wisdom
And integrity
Bless our people
With peace

Toby Klein Greenwald, In The Land Of Prayer