Sunday, November 15, 2009


Two and a half years ago I converted to Judaism. I was raised a Catholic, and schooled by my Italian grandmother on the kindness and service of Jesus - I was given my own personal Gd. One of the reasons I converted was to get closer to the world of Gd, without having to go through the "Son". The problem? Having a Savior. Or, in this case, giving up a Savior. Not someone who saves you from sin, but someone who saves you from yourself. When you are consumed with anger or grief, you unburden yourself to a man with a compassionate face, an open heart, and open arms. Recently, due to certain events, I've been asking myself, "Where can comfort be found in Judaism?"

Someone I knew a very long time ago died back in March 2009. I found out about a month ago. This someone saw something good in me when I was fifteen and felt there was no hope for me. Now, after twenty-five years, I am struggling with a new understanding of him and myself. So, how come I found him, and why is he dead?

I found his obituary. It told me of his past twenty-five years. The year after we had our very brief romance, he met a woman. Five years after that, they moved to Florida and they married. They were together the morning of the car accident, which also happened to be the morning of his fortiforth birthday. She escaped with minor injuries, and he was dead at the scene. He left behind so many people that loved him, and who referred to him as a "gentle giant". I had painted him as a cad. I found a recent picture of him. He has the same sparkling eyes as a beloved uncle of mine. A good person cared about me.

This is all coming at a strange time in my life. I've just been laid off from a job I held for eleven and a half years, and I am now daily charting my own course in life. Terrifying at best, and now I am reviewing myself as a troubled and tortured fifteen year old...back to finding comfort in a personal Gd. After learning of his death, I was looking for pictures of him on friends and relatives facebook pages. I came across a recording of a Christian spiritual called "I Bid You Goodnight".

Lay down my dear brother. Lay down and take your rest.
I'm gonna lay your head upon your savior's breast.
I love you, but Jesus loves you best.
I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight.

One of these mornings bright and early and soon
I'm picking up the spirits on the shore beyond
Go walking in the valley of the shadow of death
He's riding a staff gonna comfort me.
Join the wise, there's a soul to find.
Lord send a fire, not a flood next time
Leave for the ark, that wonderful boat.
She's really taken water, getting ready to float
I'm praying for the best at the ending of the world
He loved the children that would not be good.
And I know rather well, I know right well.
I went walking to Jerusalem just like John.

Lay down my dear brother. Lay down and take your rest.
I'm gonna lay your head upon your savior's breast.
I love you, but Jesus loves you best.
I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight.

I've spent the past month singing this spiritual over and over again. It brings me comfort to think of him with his savior. But where does that leave me? Where do I receive my comfort?

Note to self - Look in Torah, and find passages regarding unburdening yourself to Gd.

Monday, October 12, 2009

yetzer hara

i just spent the past hour talking with a friend. are talk was mostly spiritual, except when we were talking about how people have disappointed or angered us in the past. i was so judgemental, not taking my own point of view that everyone is carrying around some type of burden. judging is bad. what a simple thing to know. why do i make it so complicated to not do? yetzer hara. it all comes down to it.

so the middah of the week was week ends tomorrow night when i have my mussar class. my obstacle with the practice of this middah is the imaginary conversations i have in my head with individuals whom i have communicating with outside of my head. therefore, i am remaining bogged down in this often made up, sometimes past conversation instead of interacting with the other, and bearing their burden. this past week i let go of some of the internal dialogue, and behold, my encounters with everyone were amazing. now to be vigilant.

my quote of the day...well, i don't have one. i didn't do any studying today...i am about to say the bedtime shma. well, how about this: i forgive everyone who angered me today.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Unexpected Blessing

I've been on vacation for the the past three weeks. Winding down, and gearing up to go back, I received word that my program would no longer be funded by the city. Totally unexpected, but not unwelcome news. By the end of the month, I will be counted among the ranks of the unemployed.

So now what to do? My friend assured me that I'm going to love being unemployed, if I use my time wisely. So I have started to make a list of things that I want to do to set me on my new path in life. The top on my list is to get my applications in for post bac programs. The second is to delve deeper into my mussar study and practice. The practice I could/should be doing at all times, but the study part has been hard to come by. Most likely due to my Yetzer Hara, but's my chance not to have any excuses.

I am not a Rabbinical student, nor do I hope to become one. However, I do hope to become a physician. When I am a physician, I hope to combine my two passions and callings: the the art of medicine, with my fear, love and service to the other and to Gd.

If i keep writing now, it will end up being too long, and no one will want to read it, including me. So, I'll end here for now, and come back tomorrow to talk about the expectations of my Mussar practice. Feel free to follow along and share your own experiences, questions and comments. I look forward to learning and sharing with you.

For now, good night.