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Archive for November, 2010

Mother and child

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There are times I doubt that my dream of raising frum from birth Jewish children will ever become a reality.  Sometimes it is a conscious doubt, and at other times subconscious.  My subconscious doubt  manifests itself when I become deeply depressed due to being around a pregnant Jewish woman,  or women with babies and small children.  I often find myself asking the question does my doubt mean that I lack emunah?

As with any spiritual endeavor, there are successes and there are failures.  Take for example, the spiritual goal of not speaking lashon hara.  You may have days of successfully avoiding the temptation to speak badly about someone.  Then one day a lapse occurs.  A friend did something inadvertently that hurt you, and at the soonest possible moment,  out came a negative statement.  That failure does not nullify your endeavor to be a Jew who refrains from lashon hara.   All it takes is teshuva and a resolution to be cautious about what comes out of your mouth going forward.

I view my momentary doubt in the same light.   Perhaps my doubt led me into depression.  That does not mean the absence of emunah.  Even in that moment of doubt, emunah is still there.  Why?  I got up the following morning and I prayed to Hashem.  By virtue of davening, I  have emunah that G-D exists and He hears my prayers.

Everything is from Hashem, even my strong desire to raise Jewish children.  My present pain is from Hashem, custom-tailored to draw me closer to Him.  He yearns for my prayers yet I hardly offer Hashem my utter devotion.  Still He bestowed on me the gift of emunah.  With that gift, the stinging pain is minimized and I find myself drawing closer and closer to Hashem.  I am completely dependent on Him.  As Rabbi Lazer Brody said in  one of his blogs, “The closer we get to Hashem, the happier we are.  As such emunah is the key to happiness.”

Any momentary doubt is just a temporary phase designed only to strengthen our emunah and trust in Hashem.

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A contemporary mikveh at Temple Beth-El in Bir...

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As we are in the midst of Parshah Toldot, all sorts of thoughts flood through my mind, especially since this Parshah is about my namesake and her fertility struggle.   Toldot means “offsprings” and “generations.”  As the Torah relates, Rivka Imanu was childless for 20 years.   Yitzhak davened to Hashem opposite his wife, and G-D accepted his prayers and Rivka conceived.   Also, her pregnancy was tumultuous since two nations were tussling inside her womb.

I am a day-dreamer.  Often I imagine feeling the sensations of pregnancy, my womb stretching to make room for my babies.  I dream of carrying twins.    I would love to replicate Rivka Imanu’s experience, Im Yirtzeh Hashem,  except for having an Esau and a tumultuous pregnancy.   I just want the simplicity of two very pure and holy neshamoth within my womb, basking in the full knowledge of the Torah.  Ah, the truest form of being a Jewish woman.

My struggle is intense.  As a frum Jewish woman, I feel like I am looking through a glass window at my heart’s desire being manifested in other Jewish women’s lives.   Although I am happy for them, I do not want to be left out.    I find myself asking, ‘What is the purpose of my G-D given life?”  There has to be a very special purpose to my life, given my background.  I was not destined to be born FFB (frum from birth).  I was born in an atheist background, a Jewish neshama that Hashem delivered into this world through two very non-Jewish and judgemental parents.  Growing up I felt I did not belong.  From the time, I could conceptualize my thoughts, I began my very complicated spiritual journey which led to my gerus.  Somewhere along the journey, I gave birth to an intense longing to have children to raise up to lead very Godly lives.  When I had my Orthodox gerus, I thought that Hashem would open up the gates of shamayim and dispense very special Jewish neshamoth to my husband and I.   Yet here I am struggling with this intense pain and dealing with some very unsavory emotions.  Yet all that Hashem does is perfect.

When I look to the Torah which documents the lives of my ancestors, I derive a certain level of comfort.  I am Bas Avraham v’ Sara.  Hashem took Avraham and said ” I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.”  In my mind’s eyes, I can see a celestial tapestry of Avraham Avinu’s descendents, and sewn into this tapestry, my husband’s lineage, a stream of Torah abiding Jews who are my and my husband’s pride and joy.

My day-dreaming ends, and I am faced with my present reality.  Today I did not behave very well emotionally.  I had an outburst that ended up in a chocolate and cheese binge.   I know intellectually that Hashem has given me everything that I need:  my husband, my health, my talents, my intellect, my friends, my home, my Jewish community, etc.  Where I am at today is perfect.  My heart screams, “No!!!!”  Sometimes the pain is so excruciating that it brings up the dregs that clog up my neshama, and I fail to see the beauty of the Jewish neshama that Hashem endowed me with the moment I stepped into the mikveh and took on the yoke of His Torah and mitzvoth.

I have been privileged to use the mikveh for more than just conversion.  When I prepare myself to immerse in the mikveh, I feel so beautiful and so holy.  Prior to entering the state of being pure again,  I hand my robe to the mikveh attendent.  I am conscious of her averting her eyes to protect my modesty.  And as I immerse underwater, my body curled up like a fetus, I am aware that I am experiencing something holy beyond anything that words can express.  As the gates of Shamayim burst open, I whisper my heartfelt prayer to be a partner in Hashem’s creation.  I too want to join the other frum Jewish women as they carry holy neshamoth and give birth to precious Jewish babies.  My heart aches for myself and other Jewish women who experience challenges of bringing the dream of motherhood to reality.

In the meantime, as I await my miracle, I take a step back to assess the purpose of my life.  Hashem has given me so many talents.  I am a writer and I have an artistic flair which I express in photography.  So much is in my heart that I want to put on paper.  I also have the makings of a serial entrepreneur.  So many business ideas twirl in my head.    I want to launch a successful home business, and help others to do the same.  I also want to teach the Jewish people about the struggles that couples go through when they cannot conceive.  Just as painful is the struggle that single Jews older than 30 go through.  I will not rest until we as a community are sensitized to others.  I also want to laugh a lot and bring laughter to others.

May Hashem grant us all the desires of our hearts.  May Moshiach come soon so that we can be in Yerushalayim basking in the glory of Hashem’s revealed Presence.

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