Connect with us

Feature

Passover: Root Meaning

Published

on

When we think of Passover, a number of things come to mind: all the bread we can’t eat, all the Matzah we must eat, and the Passover Seder night.  Contrary to our Persian custom, the highlight of the Passover night is NOT the “Dayenu” part where we get up and hit all those family members we wouldn’t dare harm any other night (albeit this part is truly fun!).  Rather, retelling the story of the Exodus is the main part of the Passover night.  The Torah in four different places (Exodus 12:26, Exodus 13:14, Exodus 13:18 & Deuteronomy 6:20) mentions the discourse that takes place when the curious child is wondering what the customs and practices of Passover are and the parent’s explanation of these practices.  The Sages of Israel noticed these four different mentions of this topic in the Torah and realized that there are four primary ways to communicate this story (and any other story for that matter) to four different types of people.  This is where we get the four sons section of the Hagaddah and the ensuing answers proposed to their different personalities.  The wise child, the evil child, the simple child and the child that doesn’t know how to ask are all presented with an opening to ask and get involved in the Passover story.  Since retelling the story is so essential to the night and the continuance of our tradition and since the prototypical four sons each have different ways of learning the story, it is important to understand what our tradition’s take on teaching and learning is.

The Hebrew language, the bedrock of our tradition, reveals through the very word for ‘learn’ the key to successful learning. The Hebrew word for ‘learn’ is LoMeD. If we dissect the 3 letters root of the word LoMeD we can quickly see that LoMeD is really the combination of the letters L (which means to) and MeD (which means to measure).  So, LoMeD effectively means to measure.  What does measuring having to do with learning?   As it turns out, measuring and pacing ones learning has everything to do with learning.  In fact, modern research has shown this to be true.  How many times have you feel overwhelmed with what you learned because it was too much information?  How many times have you forgot what you had learned because the pace was too fast?  Well, The Hebrew language reflects that every person can learn if taught at the appropriate pace for him/her. Unlike school systems in which a chapter is set to be covered in a certain amount of time, the Torah system of learning supports customizing learning and adjusting the pace of teaching to fit the individual learner. Effective learning requires an approach consistent with what the Torah sets forth; thus, an effective teacher is one who is constantly learning at his/her own proper pace and and teaches the student’s at their rate of learning. Now that we know learning is about pacing and measuring our learning in a way that fits with what we can handle, how can we strengthen what we have learned and grow from it?  Well as usual, the language of Hebrew has a brilliant insight for us.  Since Hebrew allows the same roots to be conjugated differently, analyzing these alternative conjugations are great ways to glean more insights otherwise inaccessible.    MeLaMeD in Hebrew means to teach.  This pattern fits the piel conjugation, which implies a state of constant action.  What this means is that to teach is to constantly learn in a measured way..  A great Teacher is in reality a great student and a great student is constantly teaching what he/she has learned.  The insight the Hebrew language is sharing with us is that we must be active learners, people who learn in a measured pace and turn around and teach that lesson in a measured way to our friends, students, and children.   This is essentially our task in life and the Passover night is simply an opportunity for us to practice this in a family setting and pass on what we have learned to the next generation.  So now that you know these insights, are you ready to pace your learning and teach others at their personal pace?

comments

Kamy is currently working as a Managing Director for an international logistics company and also holds a CPA license. He is passionately involved with Jewish learning and studying the Hebrew language and its connection to all the languages of the world. He is currently working on starting a global learning platform for ​Biblical Learning called TorahVersity. Kamy can be reached at torahversity@gmail.com

Community

IsraAID is launching the Humanitarian Professionals Network (IHPN) in Los Angeles and Bay Area

Published

on

 World-renowned Israeli Humanitarian and disaster relief organization expands presence in U.S. by offering Americans training andopportunities for Disaster relief deployment

Los Angeles, CA – On January 10, 2019, in Los Angeles, disaster relief NGO IsraAID will launch its new aid initiative, The IsraAID Humanitarian Professionals Network (IHPN), an elite program that trains doctors, dentists, nurses, engineers and mental health professionals in disaster response and deploys them around the world to helpsave lives.

IHPN members become part of a network of likeminded professionals at the top of theirfields, joining a robust roster of professionals in Israel, and have a chanceto share Israel’s humanitarian ethos with communities in need. Current IsraAID missions span disasters such as the wildfires in California, refugee crises in Greece, Kenya, Bangladesh, violence in Uganda, and cyclones in Vanuatu.

“IsraAID draws on Israeli social innovation and expertise to benefit people in need around the world. We are now leveraging our organization’s unique capabilities to train professionals in the U.S. interested in developing life-saving skills and joining humanitarian relief missions globally, hand in hand with professionals from Israel” said Seth H. Davis, Executive Director of IsraAID U.S. “IHPN will equip skilled individuals in hands-on disaster relief experience and provide enhanced capacity if local disaster were too strike.”

The first event, entitled “What You Need to Know About Humanitarian Aid,” will feature speaker Tim Burke, MA, MPH, who lead IsraAID’s work in South Sudan for five years, where he oversaw programs in public health and post-conflict development. Subsequent speakers include atmospheric physicist Colin Price and refugee crises expert Dr. Nir Boms.

With deployment in 49 countries, and currently active in 19 countries, IsraAID is an expert in training professionals to deploy. In the U.S. alone in the last year, IsraAID has provided humanitarian relief in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, California, and Puerto Rico.

“IsraAID will make Los Angeles more secure by leveraging their unique expertise in disaster response to train professionals in our community,” said [Paul Koretz]. “I look forward to working with IsraAID to help them rollout their IHPN program in California”

Professionals interested in attending should RSVP here  and/or learn more and join the network here.

#

About IHPN: The IsraAID HumanitarianProfessionals Network (IHPN) is an exclusive network of professionals at thevanguard of global aid relief activities. Members of IHPN receive expert briefings, emergency-preparedness training, access to enrichment with field leaders,and priority access to deploy on IsraAID missions.

About IsraAID: IsraAID is anon-governmental organization that provides lifesaving emergency relief andlong-term, sustainable solutions for populations affected by natural disasters, epidemics and post-conflict situations. Our teams leverage Israeli innovation,work in full collaboration with local partners, and educate the public and professionals on disaster prevention and relief. IsraAID (US) Global Humanitarian Assistance, Inc. is an independent 501c(3)organization.

comments
Continue Reading

Culture

High Collars, High Holidays 

Published

on

Never in a million years did I think I would be fond of the ‘high collar’, also known as the ‘turtle neck.’ I still cringe everytime I hear the name. I remember my mom making me wear them when it got cold outside… But hello, we live in Los Angeles. When does it get cold?

Dressing already modestly, by covering my knees, elbows (song playing in my head), the thought of covering my full neck is like dude, can I show any skin!? It almost felt like I was covering too much, as if I couldn’t breathe! It is as if someone is choking and restricting my head!

Seeing this trend all over magazines and fashion blogs, I decided to give it another chance! Lo and behold… I fell in love. The choking high collar has NOW become my ultimate favorite thing. Just ask Judith, co-founder of our fashion line RaJu. I keep adding turtle necks to all our styles to the point where we’re almost tired of it. The high collar has a sense of class and elegance to it. It has personality, dimension and is more mysterious. Wearing this dress, with all of its details, print and ruffles, I felt like the high collar tied it all together. The high collar makes you of high end, it’s a luxury, a lifestyle. It forces you to carry yourself in a certain way by maintaining a straighter back and a better posture. Everything manifests differently because of this magical collar.

The high collars forces you to hold your head up high, like a princess. When I see someone wear it, it really adds a beautiful sense of royalty and confidence. As we come into the High Holidays (the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), a solemn time, a time for judgement and reflection, we must remember that we are all daughters and princesses of a king. Wear what you may, during these High Holidays… you know what I’ll be wearing!

Here’s some inspiration:

comments
Continue Reading

Feature

Six Mindful Eating Tips for Your Body and Soul

Published

on

The average person spends at least one hour a day eating. So by the age of 30, you’ve spent the equivalent of two years just putting food in your mouth. How can we make this a more pleasurable, productive and meaningful experience?

Traditional Jewish thought has much to say about what we eat, how we eat, when we eat, and even why we eat, and much of it is also recommended by modern scientists.

 

  1. Eat Hungry.

 

When was the last time you pulled over at a gas station to fill up your tank that was already full? Probably never. However, when was the last time you ate something when you weren’t hungry?  

Checking your hunger gauge before popping in that random bite will allow you to keep your weight in check as well as build your self-control.

Going to your second event of the evening, already fed, and still have an urge to pop down some more food?  Like the modern day nutritionists, King Solomon advises against the unnecessary consumption of food, saying “The righteous eat to satisfy their souls” (Proverbs 13:25).

  1.  Sit Down.

Late to work? Running after the kids? Doing errands? No problem–it’s just not the best time to be chomping down your meal.  Although it may save time, it’s a bad idea. The Talmud uses harsh terminology against those who eat while standing. The Rambam, in his magnum opus Mishneh Torah, says that one should never stand or walk while eating.

Modern day scientific research also claims that this kind of eating is fattening and unhealthy. In fact, there is even a diet based on this understanding, called ‘The Sit-Down Diet’, which suggests that we consume fewer calories when we eat sitting down versus while standing up or walking. We are also more likely to digest food better when we sit down and chew our food properly.

  1.  Acknowledge

You’re hungry and sitting down to your meal, now recognize where the food comes from. Taking three seconds to acknowledge basic details of the culinary dish placed before you can set the tone for rest of the meal. Something as simple as verbally acknowledging the work of the cook, especially if it is a parent or spouse, can have a profound effect on your mood. Paying attention to all of the individual ingredients can make the experience even more tasty.

On a deeper level, every time any food is consumed, Jewish sources tell us one should recite a blessing of recognition prior to taking the first bite. A common misconception is that the blessing or bracha that is said before eating is a form of thanksgiving. This is not accurate; while the after-blessing of Birkat Hamazon clearly mentions the act of thanksgiving, the initial blessing makes no mention of thanks. It is a statement acknowledging that God is the Creator of the food (Blessed are you Hashem … Creator of ….).

  1.  Remove Distractions

Imagine our reaction to someone in a movie theater who is on their phone half of the time.  Would we have the same reaction to the ever-so-common sight of someone munching down an entire meal while consumed with an iPhone, TV or computer screen?  One cannot fully enjoy a meal while answering emails or scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed.

Unlike many other religions whose ordinances promote abstinence from physical pleasures, Judaism incorporates the pleasure of eating in every one of its holidays. However, we rob ourselves of this enjoyment every time we mindlessly eat.

Don’t care about enjoyment? Distracted eating causes your digestion to be less effective in breaking down your food, leading to less flavor and increasing the possibility of bloating, gas and constipation. Trying to lose weight? Research shows that the more you distract yourself during a meal, the more pounds you add. Doing simple acts of mindfulness, such as paying attention to the smell, taste, appearance and texture of the food, can keep the focus on your meal.

  1.  Chew, Swallow, Wait… Repeat.

Ever mindlessly wolf down a meal in one minute? Scarfing down an entire meal can leave you feeling disheartened, but it can also leave you with unwanted extra fat on your hips.

Taking your body off of autopilot mode while feasting has great spiritual benefits as well.  In describing ways of going against animalistic eating habits, the great nineteenth-century Iraqi sage Rabbi Yosef Hayim, in his famous book, Ben Ish Hai, gives a recommendation that is sure to slow your scarf. He writes that one should not reach for the next bite until the previous bite has been completely swallowed.  

Speaking from experience, this one tip is much easier said than done. However, once mastered, this habit is sure to leaving you feeling in control and elevated, especially if you take it to the next level and put down your utensil between bites.

  1.  Appreciate.

Now that you’re satiated and your spirit is recharged, it’s time for some thanksgiving (without the turkey). Saying thanks is much harder when you have somewhere else you want to go. Maybe that’s why the only biblically ordained blessing is the Grace After Meals and not the blessing before the meal (Deuteronomy 8:10).

Being appreciative is a core Jewish value. In fact, Jews are called Yehudim from the word L’hodot, or to thank. Messages of appreciation are found in the stories of our forefathers and foremothers. Gratitude permeates the entire Jewish experience, from the first words that are uttered by our lips when we wake up in the morning, “Modeh Ani”, to the thrice-daily communal prayer service throughout the day.

Surprisingly, recently discovered side benefits of gratitude include improved health, increased self-esteem and even better sleep. Taking the extra minutes to appreciate our privileged satiated stomachs should now seem more meaningful and hopefully a little easier.

Although not practical for every meal, striving towards these goals should help us lead more meaningful, in-control and healthy lives.  For what it is worth, I will personally vouch for it!

 

comments
Continue Reading

december, 2019

No Events

Get The Skribe by Email

Trending

X