As the song (and Proverb) go, there is a time for everything. I was reminded of this last week. My sister in law (SIL) unfortunately and sadly, lost her father. She lost her mother a couple years ago. Her father lived an amazing life. I won’t go into great detail, you can read her tribute to him on Facebook here https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10217043011054859&id=1455263324&ref=content_filter. He and her mother both were born with cerebral palsy and both lived long lives.
Jewish tradition marks the first week after a funeral as shiva week, it means 7. During this time, the closest mourners (spouse, children, siblings and parents) do nothing for others. The community and extended family take care of them. Every day is marked with visiting times and a set time for organized prayer. We took a day to visit her. After this time, she’ll ‘get up’ as we say and start to rejoin the community. This is done gradually. There’s usually some sort of way to mark the completion of the first month, and then the headstone is either installed or engraved after 11 months . At each point the mourner comes back a little more into a full member of the general community. Traditions vary, but typically a mourner goes back to work after the first week. Then after a month, they start easing back. During the initial year, mourners generally don’t take part in events that involve a party, listen to music, purchase new clothes, make other major purchases or give/receive gifts. Of course all of this depends on the traditions of the mourner.
I was reminded that during this initial time of shiva, this is the most intense period of mourning. I went into their bathroom and the mirror was covered. Why? Because a mourner is not supposed to be taking notice of how they look. Their entire body and mind are completely occupied. Then as time goes on, the mourner allows herself to be less occupied by her needs and out into the community.
There is time during the Jewish calendar for intense joy and intense sadness. Very specific days marking each. We aren’t commanded to be depressed because of historical events but we are supposed to remember them. We aren’t commanded to be happy and smiling 25/7, but we are given times where we emphasize our joy. This is how life is for most humans. Time to be mournful and a time to be joyful. And a time for a little bit in between. A good reminder in balancing ourselves.
I really want to do this, I want to blog. I like having an outlet and need the push to keep something up. So what about frumkeit would be an interesting read? I really don’t know. But this is not the life I thought I would be living. Neither did my husband. 15 years ago we moved in together. Almost 15 years ago we got engaged and I thought everything would just work together for a perfect life! Doesn’t everyone? A decade and a half ago, I was living a different life. So was my husband. I really need to process through everything we’ve done together. I’d also like to return to hippiedom, if that’s even a word. We’ve come so far but then every now and then I need to ground myself. Which is why I started blogging again.
So, I am a couple months into the new Jewish year and I’d like to think I’m creating new habits. One habit I’ve always has is going through my clothes every season. This year, I’ve been reading about the latest fad of minimalist wardrobes. I would love to have only 10-20 pieces of clothing, not including shoes, scarves or other accessories. I’m starting to really take notice of the clothes I enjoy wearing. I would much rather have a few gorgeous clothes that I love instead of a million mediocre pieces. One article of clothing I really enjoy wearing is a well fitting soft sweater. Especially in the fall, or sweater weather as some people call it. I have also noticed that I can get by with a few neutral colored skirts as long as I have pretty sweaters and scarves. Maybe it’s time for another look through my collection of clothes and weed out what doesn’t make me happy!
I love eating super fresh food. For the fourth year, we are members of the Alstede Farms Community Supported Atgriculture (CSA) program. Every Tuesday we get a box of same day harvest fruits and veggies and a dozen eggs. This week was a little light, the highlight for me would have to be the tomatoes. Everthing else I’ve managed to incorporate into our meals. The tomatoes I eat all by themselves, they are amazing.
For the next 30 weeks I will be bragging about the produce we receive from the farm. For the next few weeks we will be loving the spring asparagus and greens. For Shabbos this week, I made meatloaf with chopped farm mushrooms, roasted asparagus and mushrooms, a wilted spinach salad with Craisins and mushrooms and a couple dishes with no farm produce in them. I’ve already eaten the tomatoes. And of course I’ve been making eggs for breakfast with my farm fresh eggs! I love CSA season, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year!
Today is our first anniversary, by Hebrew date. We got married on the 6th of Nissan, also known as Vav Nissan. The vav in the Hebrew language connects words and ideas. Which is perfect for us. Our Hebrew anniversary connects our former (civil) married life with our new (Jewish) married life. We didn’t have much choice in what day we got married, we wanted to after my conversion but before Pesach. So, we are right in the middle, there it goes, connecting two people and two different lives. Our married life after our Jewish wedding has been a lot different. There are certain mitzvos only married people keep. But there is also the intense joy (simcha) that we received on our wedding day. I hope we can remember that each year and use our anniversary to infuse more simcha into our lives!
One year since I took the big dip. 525, 600 minutes…
Don’t worry, I’m not going to quote the entire song. This is also the yartzeit (anniversary) of a rabbi I learned under in Israel. Kind of a bittersweet day, his life ended as my new life began. I am grateful for all I learned under him and I continue to relate my learning to my life. I feel as if I’m constantly quoting or remembering something he said. He helped me when I was starting out in this great adventure and I am grateful he was there to guide my beginning.
Looking ahead I hope to continue to commerate this anniversary by taking on some more learning. I have only begun this crazy adventure and hope it goes full speed ahead!
I think we have too many books! We are finally making a good effort to unpack. Most of the boxes left are filled with books. We need more bookcases. We have religious books, professional books, fiction, non-fiction, historical fiction, reference, you name it, we have it!
We are also getting new to us furniture, hope we can fit it in between all the books!