Guess Who’s Back, Back Again?

Posted on: April 12, 2013

This blog is back, back, back, tell a friend, friend, friend!
To be fair, it never really left — it just ended up buried at the bottom of my virtual stack of essays, applications, articles for The Hoot, a few Divrei Torah for BaRuCH (The Brandeis Reform Chavurah!), and of course, some poetry.  I’ll admit that I’ve been cheating on this blog with some Twitter and Tumblr.  But WordPress, it’s always been you, and I hope this time we can make it work.  So here I am.
It’s been a very important and life-changing few months for me.  I was accepted to study abroad in LONDON next spring!  So this time next year, I’ll be surrounded by this scenery:
And somehow a committee looked past my awkwardness and liked me enough to award me a major SCHOLARSHIP for a Brandeis female studying the humanities in Europe!
You know when you convince yourself that you have no chance of winning, and suddenly it happens, and you want to scream because it feels like a million sparks of excitement igniting inside you?  That’s what happened to me.
And even sooner, I’ll be in ISRAEL with thirty other Brandeis students on Birthright!
So the pieces are falling into place for my near future.  Even though I’m still trying to secure my internship plans, deal with people who think you don’t even exist in a professional capacity if you’re not a senior with superhuman qualifications, and keep my self-esteem from rising and dropping like the stock market with every successful interview or rejection I get.  It’s a long and arduous process, that’s for sure.  If you have the chance to do it all ahead of time, don’t procrastinate like I did.  If I
had a time machine (preferably a blue box that’s bigger on the inside), the first place I would go is back to January before all the application deadlines.  Yes, I’d go to boring old January 2013, before I even see the Victorian era or any time in the future.  Such is the life of a college student.  Mine is a cautionary tale.
And for the future of this blog, I’d like to do a lot more creative writing (poetry and prose), and maybe I’ll start a separate forum for mini Jewish commentaries, because I really do enjoy writing spiritual material for BaRuCH.  (Maybe I should take on Education Coordinator as my next board position?)
So that’s all for now.  I think I’ll end with the reprise of my Bat Mitzvah speech, given at services this past weekend and adapted for a Friday night service in college:
Shabbat shalom l’kulam!

Shemini, this week’s portion, is an important and thought provoking one.  It tells the dramatic story of Nadav and Avihu’s demise, and lays down the rules of kashrut, a key part of Judaism as we know it. 
But the major question of this portion is, how can ordinary people make themselves holy?  How can we feel the presence of G-d in our everyday lives?  
Is the answer simply following G-d’s commandments, the way you’d follow a recipe?  That’s definitely a part of it. When Aaron and his sons Nadav and Avihu make an animal sacrifice in the way they were commanded to, G-d appears to them, and all the people fall on their faces in disbelief. 
But simply following the commandments is not enough.  We see that when Nadav and Avihu make their own sacrifices to G-d, and His fire consumes them.  Even though they WERE following the commandments, they were so narrowly focused on following the rules that they cut themselves off from the community.  They forgot the intent and meaning of their actions.          
This divine event represents a much bigger theme- that COMMUNITY AND TOGETHERNESS are the keys to making ourselves holy.  There’s a reason why we pray, celebrate our holidays, and life cycle events in groups.  Not to say that individual prayer isn’t meaningful, it is, but the idea of praying with other people and sharing that common experience is beautiful.    
Sometimes it’s not even formal prayer that makes us holy.  In our busy lives, some of us find that meaning in doing community service projects, or the simple mitzvah of helping a friend.  If it’s done with the INTENT of making someone’s life better, or making the world a better place, then it is the first step to holiness.   It is CONNECTION that makes us holy- connection between each other, within our larger community, and connection with G-d.  Shabbat Shalom.    

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