Monday, September 24, 2007

Terminal Boredom...

I am trapped in the Ninth Circle of Hell, and it is Toronto Pearson International Airport.

It's currently 9:07 P.M. I arrived at this particular Terminal at 12:50 P.M.
I was told that once I entered, I could not go back out.

I thought they were kidding, to a degree. Little did I know how serious it is. Even when you're airborne - as I was - it seems this place throws a powerful glamour over everything. Twenty minutes after we took off, the plane suddenly turned around and headed back to the airport, due to a mysterious "mechanical malfunction".

The first six hours in this hole was bad, but now we have to sit here for several more hours?

Since the whole situation is FUBAR, it goes unsaid that our Kosher meals were lost in the confusion. The best that the heirarchy could do was give us a travel voucher with a whopping value of twelve dollars. Canadian dollars.
On top of all that, the vouchers are only good in the non-kosher restaurants, not the newstand that has food we can actually eat.

And, in keeping with these events, the pretty girl who I prayed would get the seat next to me? Yeah, she did. And she's getting married in a month. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I realized afterwards that she's a friend of mine's sister.

I'm hot. I'm smelly. I'm tired.

I could really use a cigarette...

It just keeps getting better and better.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Parting Shot...

A hunter is making his way through the forest when he realizes that he is lost. There's little time until nightfall, and the hunter knows he must find his way out beforehand, lest he be caught in the darkness with the wild animals he hunts.
As he is walking, he hears a rustling in the bushes near him. He doesn't know what's behind the bushes; it could be the wind, or some fearsome creature. Instinct takes over; he shoots an arrow into the foliage. No more sound comes from that direction.
He continues walking, only to hear more sounds from the forest, coming from the other direction.
Again, he sends an arrow flying into the woods, hoping he's killed whatever is stalking him.

Over and over, the scenario repeats itself: he'll hear something that could be a danger, and he shoots in the direction of the threat, until he is down to one arrow.
Suddenly, he hears an unmistakable sound: the growl of a tremendous bear, making it's way towards him.

The hunter knows that he must make this solitary arrow count. His aim can not fail, his shot must fly true, or he won't survive...

The Dubno Maggid uses this parable to illustrate the power and importance of Neilah, the final prayer of the Yom Kippur service.

During the forty days of the month of Elul and subsequent Ten Days of Repentance, we use most of our ammunition. A prayer here, a pledge there; some halfhearted, some with real sincerity.
Neilah is that last moment, when it all comes down to making a stand, and making sure that out prayers fly straight up to Heaven. It is the proverbial "last arrow in the quiver".

I want to bless all of us that our "parting shots" will hit their marks, and that we should all merit a wonderful year, with a clean slate, and lots of blessings!

P.S. Next week, I'll be headed to the Holy Land, God willing. If anyone wants me to pray at the Kosel for them or a loved one, just send me an e mail with that person's name. It would be my pleasure. Please make sure to add a specification (e.g. for a refuah, etc,), this will make things simpler for me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Inside Out...

Note: For a September 11th post, click here. I posted it last year, and I think it still sums up my thoughts on the matter.

There's a verse in last week's Parsha that seems to speak to me.
(Devarim 29:28) The hidden things are for Hashem, our God, and the revealed things our for us and our children, forever; to do all the things of this Torah.
A few years ago, I was struck with an observation: the Hebrew word for hidden - Nistar - shares the same root as the Hebrew word for contradiction - Stirah. We know that there are no coincidences, so what is the connection?
Literally, the word Stirah, or Soter(the verb of the noun Stirah), means to clash. Two things that seems to be diametrically opposed, and therefore, seemingly can not be reconciled - they are soter each other. This concept comes about numerous times throughout the entire Talmud.

What then, is the connection between these two words? What similarities are there between "Hidden" and "Contradiction"?

I'd like to offer a thought. Many times, we conduct ourselves a certain way, dependant on our surroundings. We say certain things, we carry ourselves with a different posture, we act in ways that seem unfamiliar to even us. To everyone else, we seem to be normal. That's just the "way we are".
But we know that's not so; not all the time.
Many times we want to say how we feel, but can't because of certain expectations. Sometimes that's a good thing, but it can also be bad. How many times have we really wanted to change, but couldn't because of what others would say? How many times have we done things we know are harmful, or wrong, or mean because that's just the "way we are"?
And all along, the real you is hidden inside. A contradiction of your "outer self". Maybe that's another explanation for the verse. The hidden things - our souls, the real us deep inside? Hashem knows about that; He's aware of the struggle, despite the revealed person that everyone else sees.

Maybe that's our Tikkun. Maybe what each of us needs to do is to reach inside. Pull out the hidden person we have inside each of us, and make the contradiction be no more.