Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Anyone who knows me for longer than 10 minutes will know that I have my beef with NCSY. They do lots and lots and lots of good, but as in any organization there are those who fall through the cracks- get overlooked or mistreated and leave feeling as if there time there would have been better served elsewhere.

On the other hand, there are things about NCSY that I loved and am thrilled to have had as a part of my life and will forever cherish.  Many of the memories and many of the friends I made there are still a huge part of my life. I was lucky enough to mentored and taught by some of the best and strongest and kindest people I have ever had the pleasure to come across and I learned more about myself and my faith than I think I would have in any other places.

The fact that I ultimately chose not to follow the path that they laid out for me was an incredibly difficult and ostracizing choice, but one from which I learned a lot about my own internal strength and ultimatly gave me the courage to choose my own path based on what was right for me. The story ended well with Jason and I riding off into the sunset in his parents old volvo and getting to know each other on the way to a board meeting and continuing our relationship through a shabbat afternoon shiur before eventually making our way down the isle and on to an airplane to live out our dream in Israel.

One of the things I will always remember fondly about NCSY was the end of shabbat. The lights were low, the music soft, the stories sappy and the singing sweet. The slow songs were songs of hope for better days, songs of redemptions, and songs of pure hearts returning to God now and forever. I learned then that music can have a very powerful mood altering affect and can be used in many different ways. Since then I have used music to pick me up, bring me down, soothe me, fuel my anger and help bring to a climax pretty much any emotion I was trying to express.  At the time it was used to draw high school students into an atmosphere where they would want to stay and open their hearts and minds to new ideas and new realities they might not have otherwise considered. Many years later I still think of those sweet "ebbing" times when certain songs come up on my play list.

When Channah was a baby many of those songs became the lullabies we would use to hush her to sleep. We would sing to her of building a temply to glorify God in a pure heart. Songs of the ultimate redemption when Eliyahu Hanavi would return all those stuck between land and sea, between darkness and light to the holy city of Jerusalem and we would once again stand united as one nation under one God.

This afternoon I played the piano for myself for the first time in a long time. I started with the pieces that are most familiar to me- classics by Beethoven, Mozart, Bach. Things I learned to play as a child that I have always been able to fall in to smoothly to relax and let my brain just flow with the music. Let it lift my mood as the music soars to heights I can not currently reach on my own.

Slowly I realized I was shifting gears. I found myself playing those lullabies we used to sing Channah and had planned to sing to Gabbi. I cried while I played, but they were good tears- healing tears. Tears that meant that the meanings of those songs and those words were not lost on me. Those songs that I learned so long ago reminded me that God is listening to me, and hearing my cries, and that one day Moshiach will come and the ultimate redemption will follow when once again I will be able to hold my Gabbi and sing to her as I would have wanted to. They also tell me that God and every neshama ever created is listening to my cries, listening as I shed bitter tears over what I lost and pray for my hearts desire. I found myself hoping that wherever my Gabbi is she was listening and knew that if I could I would be singing them to her as well.

Bilvavi mishkan evneh lahadar k'vodo, Uv'mishkan mizbei'ach asim l'karnei hodo. Ul'ner tamid ekach li et aish ha'akeidah, Ul'korban akriv lo et nafshi, Et nafshi hayechidah.
In my heart I will build a temple to glorify of His splendor, and in the temple an I will put an alter to the rays of his glory. And for an Eternal Flame I will take for me The fire of the Akei'dah And for a sacrifice I shall offer Him my soul, My one and only soul. 

How much more appropriate a song can I play than one which offers God my child as a sacrifice. Avraham, a father, was tested and willing to give up his son and with him a piece of his soul because God commanded it. Have I not had the same thing taken from me? Is my soul more important than Avrahams that I should be unwilling to give God my daughter?

Lev tahor b'ra li Elohim, vruach nachon chadesh b'kirbi-Al tashlicheni mi'lfanecha, v'ruach kodshecha al tikach mimeni.

God has given me a pure heart, and His spirit He has placed within me. Do not cast me away from before you, and do not take your holy spirit from me.

God, you have given me a pure heart with which to praise you. I beg that you remove the dark shadow of doubt from my heart that lays there so heavily right now. Do not throw me away and please bring me back so I can rest in the glow of your glory.

Acheinu kol beit yisrael, han'nutunim b'tzara uvashivyah, haomdim bein bayam uvein bayabasha. Hamakom Y'racheim Aleihem v'yotziem mitzra lirvacha um'afaila l'orah umishiabud lig'ulah, hashta ba'agala uvizman kariv.

All of our brothers in B'nei Yisrael, those who are in distress and those who are in captivity, those who stand between the sea and over land. God should have mercy on them, and bring them from distress to comfort, from darkness to light, from slavery to redemptio​n, now, swiftly, and soon.

I feel as though I am begging for my very life- it brings a lump to my throat to think how we used to sing it in such happy times and never really understand what it meant. Captivity whether of the body or of the soul, stuck on an island between dark and light, between water and land, alone, scared, crying out to be saved is one of the most terrible places I have ever been. And there is no one hear to hear me except for God himself.

Haben yakir li Efraim, im yeled shashuim; ki midei dab'ri bo, zachor ezkerenu od, al ken hamu meai lo, rachem arachamenu n'um HASHEM

Is Ephraim a darling son unto Me? Is he a child that is bounced on my knee? For the time I talk about him, I do sincerely remember him still; therefore​ My heart craves him, I will have compassio​n upon him, says God..

Was my Gabbi not my darling child? Do I not crave the comfort of holding her on my knee? I pray that God show me compassion and send me a child, not to replace my Gabbi as I know that can't happen, but to help fill the yearning in my heart.

Shema koleinu adonai eloheinu, chus verachem aleinu, vekabel berachamin uvratzon et tefilateinu.

Listen to our voices, Hashem our God, spare us and have mercy on us, and receive with compassion and willingness our prayers.

Is there anything I am praying for more than a wholesome, long and healthy pregnancy? I beg God daily to have mercy on me, to show me rachmanut and grant the wishes of my heart. Is there any song so poignant as this one to express the feeling of crying out to my father in heaven for that which only he can give me?

Ani ma'amin b'emunah sh'leimah b'viat hamashiach, v'af al pi sh'yitmameah, im kol zeh achakeh lo b'chol yom sheyavo.

I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he may linger, despite this I will wait for him each day that he may come.

There is currently nothing I await more eagerly and believe in more whole heartedly than the fact that one day God will put and end to my pain. It may take a very long time, but eventually I will be reunited with my girl who never needed to know the evils of this world. My Channah davens day and night tht moshiach will come- she really does believe with complete faith that if only she davens just a little bit harder, does just one more mitzvah, Eliyahu will come end the evils in the world and and reunite her with her sister. I try to learn from her simple faith that Moshiach really can come at any moment and I should be ready. I need to prepare myself to stand before the king of kings and explain to him why my 7 year old has more faith than I do.

V'lirushalayim irecha berachamim tashuv, vetishkon betochah ka'asher dibarta. Uvneh otah bekarov beyameinu binyam olam.

And to Jerusalem​, your city, in your mercy return, and dwell in it as you said. And build it soon, in our days, an everlasti​ng construction.

One day I will walk the streets of a rebuilt Yerushalayim and fall into the arms of my precious little girl never again to be separated.

Tov l'hodot la'hashem, ulzamer l'shimcha elyon, l'hagid baboker chasdecha v'emunatcha baleylot.

It is good to give thanks to God, and to sing to his name on high - to tell in the morning of His kindness,​ and in the evening of His faithfuln​ess.

This one is the hardest for me to sing. I can't see any kindness in what he has done to me. I see only bitterness and a huge empty void staring back at me both morning and evening. Here is where my wonderful husband comes into the picture. He reminds me night and day that God is Good. That we have no idea why he has taken our precious little neshamale from us, but as we are faithful to him, so to is he faithful to us.

To NCSY I owe a debt of gratitude for creating the basic soundtrack to my life. There were happy niggunim when I got married. Somber Tehillim when I was worried. Sad songs of exile on Tisha B'av. And now lullabies for a little girl who will never hear them, but with strengthen an ima who will keep singing.