Singalong for the kids - Whisky & Herring for Adults TONIGHT
Question of the Week
When lighting Shabbos candles, why do we wave our hands three times inwards before making the blessing? I saw my mother and grandmother do it, but no one can explain it to me, other than saying we are bringing in the Shabbos energy???
Resting takes a lot of work. Many people are great at achieving, but find it hard to stop achieving. They know how to do, but don't know how to just be. Shabbos is the day of rest, and to do it right you need to know what resting means.
Resting is not doing nothing. If it was, there would be no reason to feel rejuvenated after a rest. Not doing may not drain us, but why should it replenish us?
True rest is the ingathering of our soul energies. After expending our powers outward, we draw our energies back inward. During the work week we are pulled in all directions, and our frantic activities drain our soul. The creativity and inventiveness that lies within has been exhausted, and so we need to draw our energy back to its source to be replenished and renewed.
This is symbolized by the waving motion inward at candle lighting. We are beckoning our soul energy to come back to its source. For six days we were outward beings, investing ourselves in the world around us. On Shabbos we pull back, holding our energy in to regain focus and balance.
The idea behind waving the hands three times is that our retreat from the externalities of life happens on three levels: action, speech and thought.
One level of Shabbos is the level of action, where we refrain from doing actual work. But a deeper level is the level of speech, when we refrain from even talking about work related matters. We don't make deals and we don't plan for the week ahead. Today we are holding our soul energy close, only using it for enhancing our inner life - our connections with family, friends, community and G-d.
And then there is an even deeper level of Shabbos, the level of thought. When we reach this level, we feel as if our weekday life doesn't exist, all our work is done, and we don't have a worry in the world.
So when you wave your hands, have in mind that you are about to enter a realm of inner rest, retreating from the superficial world and all its demands, on three levels: You will stop working. You won't even talk about work. And you will even stop worrying about it.
When all those external layers are gone, what is left? Just you, your soul, and the relationships that really matter.
My son recently died in an accident. I would like to know if he can see or hear us here on earth. Is he still aware of us now that he is in Heaven? Your comments would be appreciated.
Mum missing her son.
The mystery of death is one that we cannot truly understand. Why some souls come down here for so short, only to be taken away from us, we cannot explain.
But we know that only the body dies, not the soul. And it is the soul of a person whom we love. Our connection with our loved ones is not with their physical presence, but their person, their love, their spirit. And that relationship never goes away. It just takes another form.
The Rebbe once spoke to a mother who was inconsolable after the loss of her son. He said to her: "What if I told you that your son isn't dead? Rather he has gone away to a place where he is safe and happy. He feels no pain, he has no fear, he has no regrets. You can't see him. But you can send him love packages, and he will receive them and enjoy them. If I told you this, would things be different?"
She thought about it and said, "Well, I guess the pain would not be quite so unbearable if I knew he was safe and I could tell him I love him."
"Well," the Rebbe said to her, "this is the case. Your son is in heaven where he is at peace. And he can still feel your love. The love packages you send to him are the mitzvos, the good deeds you do in his memory and in his honour. When you give a coin to charity, say a prayer, light a candle, be kind to those in need, and you have him in mind, he receives a flow of love from you every time. His soul up there is elevated when down here you do good inspired by his memory. Channel your grief into a positive force. Let the vacuum caused by the loss draw more light into the world."
Nothing can replace the physical touch of a hug, the pleasure of seeing your child grow and learn and play. But he is still with you. And he knows that he is blessed with a loving mother who will always think of him.
We don't know why it has to be this way. But one day, we will be reunited with the souls of our loved ones, and the pain will be no more. May that day come soon.
Tanya Meditations continues this Monday night 8:15pm
Question of the Week
Is it wrong to re-gift? My uncle came back from Hong Kong with a very expensive tie, green with red zigzags, which he gave me as a gift. I would not be caught dead wearing it. But I have a friend with the same bad taste as my uncle who would love it, and it's his birthday next week. Is there any issue with me passing it on, rather than letting it gather dust in my closet?
You need to think this through. If you re-gift, it might be considered stealing.
A gift is given to be yours. That means you can do with it whatever you wish. If you want to use the tie as a dish rag, sell it on eBay or make it your dog's scarf, no one can stop you.
But a gift is not just a gift, it is a sentiment, a thought, a feeling. Your uncle may have personally picked this tie out for you, thinking you would appreciate it. If he then sees it on your dog or on your friend or on eBay, he may be hurt. It is not the tie you have rejected, it is his thoughtfulness.
Then again, maybe he wouldn't care, or would never find out. Even so, there is an additional concern when you pass on a gift to a friend. You are fooling your friend. When he receives this expensive tie from you, he will feel indebted to you for your generosity. He will feel he must reciprocate when it is your birthday and buy you something of real value. And unless he has an uncle that shares your fine taste, that may cost him.
By re-gifting the tie to your friend, you are scoring unfair points. He thinks you are being gracious by giving him such a valuable gift, when in actual fact you are dumping on him your unwanted merchandise. The Talmud calls this stealing someone's goodwill.
So before re-gifting, ask the following questions: Will anyone be hurt by my actions? Was this gift bought with me in mind, or could it have gone to anyone? Will anyone be misled? You may have good taste in ties, but you don't want to leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth.