Posted in D'var Torah, Uncategorized

Waiting for the Unknown

The sin of the calf is the turning point in the book of Shmot. Everything is going great (more or less), the Jews were taken out of Egypt, they just got the commandments, Moses goes up the mountain…well, and then he comes down and sees the people doing what basically the first through third commandment says not to do. There are the people just dancing around a golden calf.

Many commentators (and regular people) are confused as to how they could do such a thing. They were actually at Sinai, they actually saw the see split, but they go to build an idol- can they really not believe in God?! Some commentators say that they came to build the calf because they miscounted, they thought Moshe should have come back already, and when he didn’t show up they were scared, and thought to worship this way again.

Thinking (as I have been for the better part of the year) how this can relate to life (or to my life at the moment), I think about the desire to know or better yet, the ill ease of the unknown.

I know that I like to know what is going to happen. I like plans. I think a lot (probably too much), and try and figure out all the possible outcomes- but there are times that I can’t do that, and it scares me. I think about my upcoming move (I finally bought tickets on Thursday and said to work when I was leaving- slowly this is getting real) and I just don’t know what will happen next. If I knew that I would be coming back after the year, I think I would be less nervous about the move. But I have no idea what will happen next.

I think that even in relationships, I like to know what is happening- I want it to make sense, even though it doesn’t always. My grandmother the other day was telling me about how my great-grandparents (my grandfather’s parents) didn’t speak the same language at all (one was Hungarian and the other was Russian)- but still got married. I am just shocked as to how that could happen- here I am thinking that verbal communication is something important, so I say that guys need to be able to at least understand English, and I speak fluent Hebrew! And the guys who I can’t tell if they are flirting or TLV that just doesn’t make sense to me that he would want to date me….

I also tend to think the worst of things, especially when it comes to school. This past week I had an evaluation- and I was sure that they were going to tell me that I wasn’t good enough, and that I had to move to the US earlier than I want. I am sure that is just residual fear from the old program, where all evaluations were bad, but also probably a bit of an exaggeration. I am not used ot people telling me good things. If I am doing well, people just ignore me- if I do badly, then they will talk.

So then what can we learn from this parsha? I don’t think that it is saying that if we don’t trust we are going to get killed by serpents… But maybe it is teaching us that at times we just too just wait and see- we need patience. That we need to not always jump to the worse conclusions- that maybe something good can still happen. That sometimes there is something good and exciting (be it also terrifying) from the unknown- and it is just up to us to sit and wait to make the unknown, known.

Posted in Dating, Life

Learning to Break Down the Wall

Tonight I went to the musical “First Date”. It was actually quite funny, and I think they got dating down very well. It is mostly a comedy, and then the main actress sang the song “Safer”, and all I could think is – wow that is exactly how I feel. Here’s to praying that I will be able to get what she finds by the end of the play.

First Date – Safer 

I know that I have issues
I face them, I swear.
Think I overcome them
Then turn – they’re still there.

Wish that I was different
I’d like to let go.
But when I try to change
There’s my past, saying no.

Maybe it’s all ’cause of dad,
His new kids, his new wife
Or why not just blame mom
Who’s been nuts my whole life…

When you’ve felt so alone since
The moment of brith
And you’re struggled to find
Your own true sense of worth

When it seems there is no one
Across this whole earth
To depend upon, you carry on
Just like you always do

‘Cause it’s safer to rely on you.
Oh, it’s safer to rely on you.

Seen a million movies
All selling true love.
Fantasies I’m not sure
That I’m worthy of.

Caution to the wind
My heart’s been on display.
Still the end result is
It’s not gone my way.

So when I date some new guy
Who’s a deadbeat or jerk
At least I’m not so crushed
When it all doesn’t work…

When you once, unafraid,
Wore your heart on your sleeve
And the ones that you loved
Chose to just turn and leave

Every day it gets harder to
Somehow believe
You will survive, so you strive
Just to keep up your guard

‘Cause it’s safer to hold every card.
Oh, it’s safer to hold every card.

I feel out of control
I feel safe on the ground.
I go building up walls
Yet I wish to be found.

A true contradiction to which I am bound
As I keep on spinning around and around…

And I look at the people
Who’ve worked it all out
And I wonder why I’m still
A bundle of doubt and sometimes
I wanna just stand up and shout…

“Just commit and deal with it
Before your life flies by…
Don’t let your life fly by …”

But is it safer?
Maybe it’s safer
If I don’t try

You can listen to it here

Posted in Life, Lost


I used to say that I wish I was a bubble (why a bubble, I don’t even remember), and then I would be able to float around and not have to deal with emotions. I don’t really like emotions- they just complicate things. If I was able to take away my emotions, then things could run smoothly- and things could be good.

Apparently I actually got good at taking away my emotions- or at least pushing them away, telling myself that it is not worth feeling. That at a certain time I might be frustrated, angry, in love- but when it comes down to it, there is nothing that can be done and so I just push it away. I see it as a way of keeping myself from getting hurt.

Many times I feel, that yes, there is nothing that can be done. What I feel means nothing. No one else cares. So is it worth it to share? What is worse sharing and no one caring or just keeping it in and moving along?

Looking back to when I was younger and quieter, I wonder how much of my quietness was fear of sounding stupid (which is what I always said) or how much was fear of not being heard? I know now, that in spaces that I find myself not being heard (sometimes literally, not being able to say a word) I just go quiet. I don’t try and say anything.

With asking out guys, every time I have ever tried to do that I have been told no or have been  completely ignored (online/apps). I just don’t even know when guys are interested, and when there are, I don’t even know what to do with them (which would make sense as to why TLV confuses me so much).

I can think about people who have pushed me down. I can think about people who I feel take up a lot of space- meaning that I feel like I can’t get a word in. I can think about times that I was just told that my feels were wrong, or they were just not understood. And so, it was just easier to keep them to myself, and go about my business as if they were never there.

It meant that I focused on goals to accomplish- things that did not have to do with how I feel. I was able to create programs. I was able to join people together. I was able to get people to do things. I learned how to work hard and make my brain the thing that people notice. I was able to provide for other people- be the person that people can speak to because I won’t bring my own story into theirs. I was able to separate my own emotions in order to hold someone else…

And now I find myself alone. I became so good at hiding, that I don’t really know how to share. I can share superficially, that is for sure. I know that I bring a lot of joy to the residents of the nursing home. I know that I bring a lot of happiness and love to the students I teach.

But when it comes down to intimacy- I don’t really know the first thing about it..and that is really what I want….

Posted in D'var Torah, Uncategorized

All the Small Things

Again this week’s Parsha left me only with open thoughts.

The beginning of the Parsha goes in detail to what the Kohanim wore- what fabrics, what colors, what was on them, etc. It also goes into all of the specifics of the Mishkan- not just how big things need to be, but also what color, what material, etc.

One thing we could learn is the importance of detail in communication. When we want someone else to help us create something, and we have a vision of what it should look like, it is up to us to go into as much detail as possible. There is no way for someone to reason another person’s mind- and so we should go into as much detail as we can, so that even the tiny bells at the bottom of a dress will be made in the right shape.

One could also say that when we love something or something is very important to us, we think about all of the details that go into it. We look at every small thing. Every small bit is makes up the bigger piece, but it is all important nonetheless. As someone who is a perfectionist, I know that I try to figure out each small thing, and make them all perfect. But maybe this is trying to teach us, that we should be worrying about the small things only with the things that are greatest to us?

One could also look at the idea of presentation. Why did the Mishkan and the Kohanim need to look that way? Are we being too materialistic? Or is it that we want people to see a certain thing when they look at this building or these people?

This is something I struggle with regularly. Being someone who is studying to be a rabbi, I realize that there are things that I choose not to wear because of what it might look like. That there is a certain way that, even my school, tells us we are supposed to look like. Now if I were to wear short-shorts and a tank-top, it would make people question not only my own place, but also other women who are studying to be orthodox rabbis.

As much as I understand this, it is something that I don’t like. I want to be able to wear jeans (I think that women can wear pants), but I don’t want to have an hour long conversation about why I think that I can wear them. I want to just be able to get dressed without it being reflective of my religious practices- because I don’t believe that what one wears has anything to do with how observant they are. But in society it is how it has become.

So, I don’t really have a conclusion- except for sometimes details are important, and sometimes we make details too important. So may we be blessed with being able to recognize when the small things mean something and when the small things are just holding us back.


Posted in Israel, Life, Uncategorized

Six Years!

6 years!

6 years ago today I landed in Israel as a new immigrant. Finally after years of coming back and forth, I decided that this is where I was going to live, for the unforeseeable future.

But here I am 6 years in, and I know that I am leaving in May, again for the unforeseeable future. Usually I have a party on this day, but this year I feel strange doing so- almost like I am lying by celebrating. (That is for another post when I have more time and energy to reflect on this reality).

But on a positive note, I think that I have accomplished quite a bit over the past 6 years:

  • I have been employed the entire time, and only in things that I see as are in my field.
  • I speak Hebrew fluently, and in a way that people can’t tell that I am American, or at think that I have been here for much longer than I have been.
  • I work in Hebrew (speaking and writing).
  • I run a community that still functions.
  • I directed plays, and actually got paid for it.
  • I am a person that people know, and almost everyone knows where my house is.
  • I have been in the same apartment for the past 5 years.
  • I have friends, an apartment, and am financially independent- even 6 years in.

At times I feel like I have been here forever, while other times I still feel like I am new. It will be interesting to see what happens when I go back to the US, a place I haven’t lived in since 2008 (when I was still in college). And interesting of what it will be like, if I do move back to Israel when I am done with school.

But until now- Happy 6th Aliyaversary!!!

Posted in D'var Torah, Uncategorized

It is Ok to Be Artistic

Being someone who is involved in the arts, I always felt like an outsider in many interactions in my community- especially when I was in school. There were very few of us that painted, acted, sang. There were some that were in a band- that was ok or cool, but other forms of arts was not even thought of. Even in school, if you were a “smart” kid, you do AP science, you would never think about taking an art class- that was for the kids who were unable to handle upper level science.

But we read in last week’s Parsha, Teruma of two men (even in the art classes it was always mostly women) that either were born with or were given artistic talent from God- Betzalel and Ohaliav. They were given the ability to create, and to create beautiful things. They are praised for the beauty that they created.

A few weeks ago we read about Miriam singing with her drums- again there was music and it was praised.

In the beginning of Berashit, we read about the creation of working with music and bronze. All artistic and creative endeavours.

I think about the need to have creativity in the orthodox Jewish world. We need to allow our kids to play in the arts- so that they know that it is ok, if not encouraged. Jewish learning should not only be about memorizing laws, reading and understanding Aramaic or Hebrew, figuring out the logic of the Talmud. We see in museums beautiful Jewish art work from the past. Sukkot that are masterpieces, not just tarp. Shuls that are amazing works of architecture, not just a room to pray in. Megillot that tell the story around the words. What if we encouraged people to do that today. Yes there are people that do that professionally today, and many are amazing- but many were not necessarily encouraged to study art when they were young, or if they did, it was after a 10 hour day of learning in school.

The arts don’t have to, but they can do with Judaism. People always ask me if I want to bring my theatre work and Torah work together, and I always say no. Personally, I really enjoy having the pure logic and memorizing side and have the artistic creative side separate. There are times that they do join together- it is who I am, so I will bring in art and movement when I am teaching  text classes; when I am figuring out what to do at camp it is clear to me that the best way to get things across is also through the arts. But when I direct- it is just theatre, I’m not making a rendition of the Talmud. When I am learning, and I am learning the arguments, and trying to memorize who says what.

For those who are blessed like Ohaliav, that you are born with an artistic talent- go and use it, and people should encourage you. Those who are like Betzalel, ones that find out later by taking a chance to take an art class find out that you have talent or even better, you just find it fun and relaxing- go and explore the arts.

Posted in Dating

If I Hear that I am Intimidating One More Time…

Sorry in advance for the rant.

I am sick and tired of being told I am intimidating! I really don’t understand. I am told that I am nice and caring. I am told that I am too quiet or too smart- and because of all of this I am intimidating. How are any of these characteristics intimidating?

And to be told my guys that this is why I don’t get asked out is even more problematic in my eyes. There are so many contradictory ideas that are thrown at me. On the on hand, I am told that I need to take things into my own hands if I want to find a date. But then I am told that if I am the one asking out a guy, then I am emasculating him, and he won’t want to go out with him.

I am told that the fact that I am studying to be a rabbi makes me sound smart, and so guys are intimidated to talk to me, because I am too smart. So my options are either to find news friends (i.e. Wait it out) or dumb myself down. Although an argument against this is that I haven’t even spoken to the prospective guy at this point, so it just means that I need to make something else up that I do, so that they would be interested in the idea of meeting me. I was told (by many a person) that I need to just “play dumb” a bit, don’t actually know things- because that is intimidating if you do…

I am told that I don’t share enough. Well, why would I share with someone before I meet them? Why would I share everything with someone on the first date even (if that actually occurs)? Ok, so I am quiet, but if I get into a conversation then I know how to talk.

I was told that I need to “play” the part of the “needy” female. That I need to let the guy ALWAYS pay. I don’t suggest that I pay sometimes because I want to take away his power; I suggest that I pay because I think that is the fair thing to do. It doesn’t make sense to me that one person in the relationship else should have to pay for everything (although, I am pretty sure that is why one guy stopped dating me). My friend told me about some uber-feminist woman that he dated for some time, but the entire time that they were dating, she let him pick her up, and pay, etc.

After talking to a (male) friend last night about this, all he could tell me is that I am intimidating, and that is why I don’t date. The best ways to get around it are to either find a new crowd that isn’t intimidated by intelligent women (in the world of Judaism- wanting to be religious makes it more difficult I guess…they are afraid of losing what?!) or to dumb myself down, and that way I won’t intimidate guys, and then I will date.

Unfortunately he is not the first (or only) one to tell me this. So what am I supposed to do? (really, if you have suggestions, please comment)

PS. Some articles that say there actually is this problem….

What Men Mean When They Say You’re Intimidating

Men are threatened by intelligent women

Ladies, The Smarter You Are, The More Likely You Are To Be Single