Tag Archives: Judaism

The Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer

Today is the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer. If you live near Jewish communities, you might have seen bonfires, parades and hear lots of music. We are celebrating the Jahrzeit (anniversary of death) of the biblical sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar, the holy book of Jewish mysticism, the Kabalah. His grave is situated in the Northern Israeli town of Meron and today is the day that Jewish people from all over the world and all over Israel come and pray by his grave and celebrate his life. His life was one of happiness and he wanted the day of his remembrance to be one of happiness too. So around the world bonfires are being lit, lots of dancing and every Jewish town has a parade for the children with music.

Lag baomer  Parade in our town.

The highlight of this day is being in Meron. I will try to recreate my experience when I visited whilst I was living in Israel.

The best time to go is in the evening so you will not stand in the boiling sun for hours. So that’s when I went.  When I arrived by public transportation, I still had a hill to climb. This hill is a spectacle in itself as there are all kinds of people trying to peddle their wares, all in the name of charity of course! I declined all of them as I just wanted to get to the top. As I approached the end of the hill, I heard the strains of music playing. I’m getting nearer to the action and I was already getting emotional. The atmosphere there cannot be described but I will try. Thousands of people are dancing together to live music, all differences put aside, brother near brother, one nation. You can feel the holiness in the air. This day is also an auspicious time for childless couples to pray for a salvation by his grave. This was also one of the reasons I came as I was still childless and wanted to come pray here. I watch the spirited dancing, enthralled by the beauty and the unity.

(all kinds of Jews dancing together)

I could stare for hours at the scene, singing along with the infectious music. But I needed to get near the grave to pray. As I made my way through the throngs of people, the atmosphere gets heavier, more serious. When I entered the room where the actual grave is located, it’s like you entered a different world. People are there to pray for salvations, mostly for children but also for any other misfortune they have. People are sobbing, praying their hearts out and asking the sage to intervene on their behalf to G-d. (In our culture, it’s customary to pray for salvation by graves of our sages and beseeching the Sage to intervene as they are close to G-d)

One of the Segulos  (propitious practice) that people do is to promise to name their child after the Sage if they are blessed with a child within a year. So I was standing there, tears streaming from my eyes, praying for a long awaited child and promising to name him after the Sage, if only it will happen that year still. I was scheduled to have my first IVF in July. After I finished praying, I had a good feeling. I felt optimistic and hopeful.

I left the grave and made my way through the masses to watch some more dancing. It was already in the middle of the night but the dancing and live music goes on for 24 hours straight. The experience of being there is surreal. The time has come to go back, even though I could have stayed for another few hours. So very reluctantly I made my way back to the entrance and down the hill and onto the bus that will take me back to Jerusalem. Since then, I have gone back a few more times and it’s the same special experience. As I moved away from Israel, I now participate from afar, watching the live streams.

My feelings of ecstasy and delight and intense emotion are hard to describe when I found out that my IVF attempt in July resulted in a pregnancy. Next year’s Lag BaOmer found my husband in Meron, expressing his gratitude for our miracle. After we decided to try for child #2, I went to pray there again and by next Lag BaOmer I was 6 months pregnant with my miracle daughter. This year I prayed from home. We will be embarking on the next round of infertility treatments soon for child #3. I hope from the bottom of my heart to be able to experience another miracle by next Lag BaOmer. I definitely don’t underestimate the power of prayer. My 2 precious children are a result of that prayer (with the help of science!)

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My prayer for the 8th night of Hannukah

It’s the 8th night of Hannukah. It’s written in our holy books that on the last night, you can ask G-d for anything you need. It’s an auspicious time for prayer and prayer requests. I am sitting by the menorah, together with my husband and children.

The candles are flickering slightly and as my husband sings the Psalms I gaze deeply into the holy flames, letting my mind wander. I have lots to pray for. I think of my dear son, who has such difficulty controlling his impulses, some of them downright harmful. One of his impulses got him kicked out of yeshivah. I’m praying for him to understand the gravity of his impulse and what his future could be if he doesn’t learn how to control it. I’m asking G-d to please help the psychiatrist find good meds to help him overcome his obsessions/compulsions and not to have to go through the same dance we had while trying to find the right meds for his ADD. (which we still haven’t).

Tears are starting to flow as I beseech G-d to find him the right Yeshivah which will accept him as he is and will be willing to help him as he confronts and works through his issues. My heart cannot accept that I will have to send him away from home that young but I can only hope that G-d made all this happen so that he could end up in the Yeshivah that will be best for him. I pray that G-d gives me the strength to have faith that this is all for the best and that we can see it sooner rather than later.

I hear my husband’s voice starting to shake. My heart goes out to him, too. This is very hard on him, much harder than it’s for me. A father has high hopes for his son. All he wants is to see him successful and happy. His heart breaks seeing his son at home all day. I can hear the prayer in his voice, no doubt praying the same as me.

The Chanukah candles are special, the whole holiday of Chanukah is special. We celebrate the miracle that’s happened many years ago. We can only hope that our prayers by the candles will go straight to heaven and that we may merit our own personal salvation as well.

Happy last day of Chanukah!

 

Thursday tidbits

Every Thursday I share an interesting tidbit that you might not have known about Ultra Orthodox Judaism on my FB page. Since not everyone follows me on there, I thought I’ll start sharing them here too! Remember that there are many kinds of Jews and I belong to the strictest sect (Hasidic) so my experience is not everybody else’s experience. 🙂

Foodwise: We eat only Kosher which is not easy sometimes: It’s MUCH more expensive, I cannot travel everywhere I want, either I am taking all my food along or I need a place where Kosher food is available. Most non Jews don’t understand why we need big freezers when we go on vacation 😛 (we bring lots of pre-cooked food)
There are levels of Kosher and we are the strictest. We don’t eat all Kosher certifications., just the ones we trust.
We also don’t mix milk and meat. If we eat meat, we wait a certain amount of hours to eat milky. (We wait 6 hours, some wait less). For the opposite, we wait 30 min. Our kitchens have 2 sinks and 2 counters, one for milky and one for meat. Everything is separated; cutlery, tablecloths and all.

For more #ThursdayTidbits check my FB page: Orthodox Sunflower