Tag Archives: spirituality

Tisha b’ Av – what this day means to me

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The 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av is a sad day for the Jewish people on many levels but from it we need to derive positivity and look for brightness. The historic reason for this commemoration is the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, not once but twice (587 BCE and 70 CE respectively). But there is more…
The episode of the Golden calf (17th of Tammuz) in which the Hebrews, after their exodus from Egypt, reintroduced idolatry as a form of “religion”
The First Crusade officially commenced on August 15, 1096 (Av 9, 4856 AM), killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and destroying Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland. A grand total of 1.2 million Jews were killed by this crusade that started on the 9th of Av.
The Jews were expelled from England on July 25, 1290 (Av 9, 5050 AM)
The Jews were expelled from France on July 21, 1306 (Av 9, 5066 AM).
The Jews were expelled from Spain on July 31, 1492 (Av 8-9, 5252 AM).
On August 2, 1941, (Av 9, 5701 AM) SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution”. Almost 50% of the Jews on the face of the earth were captured and killed at that time.
On the 9th of Av, 5702 (July 23, 1942), the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.
Most religious communities use Tisha B’Av to mourn the 6,000,000 Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and,
On the 10th of Av the following events took place:
AMIA bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires took place, killing 85 and injuring 300 on Monday, July 18, 1994, 10th of Av, 5754.
The dismantlement of the Gush Katif and northern Samaria Israeli settlements started on Sunday, August 14, 2005, 10th of Av, 5765.
So, yes.. This is a sad time in Jewish history… But to me personally it is a period of reflection and remembrance. As a child, the thing I remember most about this day is my dad coming home for lunch and us watching a cooking show where the chef would also sing opera. We were hungry, I was 12 years old and fasting.. And for some reason watching this show made the holiday for me. Being with my dad, appreciating what I had…many would not think of that, to me that is what this day represents… Appreciating what you have. Those memories can not and will not ever be taken from me…not by the Romans, not by the church of the inquisition, not by the English, not by the French, not by the nazis, not by the skinheads, not by ANYONE … EVER!
As I light my candle, I looked at a Picture of my maternal grandfather, Joseph Bousso, a man who will be remembered as a light in every positive soul. I showed my daughter this picture and told her this was my nono … And this is why we are lighting this candle. She said .. “But your nono is in the sky .. and we can see him all the time if we look at the stars.” My daughter is 3 and I would lie if that this not bring tears to my eyes.
Turns out she is right… While many tonight are sitting on the floor and reading the echa (book of Lamentations) Written by the prophet Jeremiah – The book consists of five separate poems. In chapter 1 the prophet dwells on the manifold miseries oppressed by which the city sits as a solitary widow weeping sorely. In chapter 2 these miseries are described in connection with national sins and acts of God. Chapter 3 speaks of hope for the people of God. The chastisement would only be for their good; a better day would dawn for them. Chapter 4 laments the ruin and desolation that had come upon the city and temple, but traces it only to the people’s sins. Chapter 5 is a prayer that Zion’s reproach may be taken away in the repentance and recovery of the people.
I in turn am remembering those whom I cannot see in the physical realm and looking for the positive that came from the worse of times for our people. My paternal grandfather was a survivor of aushwitz and birkenau and other concentration camps taught me an important lesson – “Jews do not hate! – no matter what!” – my goal is to pass this on to Jews fighting among themselves over “denomination” or who knows what else. Whether you are reform, orthodox, conservative, whatever.. These terms are just a way for our people to fight among ourselves. I can go on and on… But GET OVER YOUR EGO -remember even if you converted to another religion – you were sent up the smoke stacks. Live by the quote “love a fellow Jew – and a fellow human.” This is the gist of this day – remember – love – respect!
It is important to remember the history, but it is also important to reflect on the future and the fact that history has a tendency to repeat itself. Why can’t the country that you live it turn on a specific group, it has happened in the US. May I remind you…..
President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the internment with Executive Order 9066, issued February 19, 1942, which allowed local military commanders to designate “military areas” as “exclusion zones,” from which “any or all persons may be excluded.” This power was used to declare that all people of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the entire Pacific coast, including all of California and much of Oregon, Washington and Arizona, except for those in internment camps.
It can happen again … If we do not reflect on what has happened. That is what this day means to me … Ignorance and indifference leads to the repetition of the mistakes made by humans in the past.
I will never forget the time I spent with my dad on tish a ve Av … It was a time of gratitude and reflection.. I will never forget my grandparents and what they experienced. And out of all this, I will use the bad things that have happened to us to learn and reflect. … Look forward … That’s what this is about. Transform the negative into positive.. Now and forever.

Triumph of Light over Darkness

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In honor of the winter solstice, I participated in 108 sun salutations tonight. This event was hosted by Santosha yoga in Libertyville And was a very successful event.
One of my teachers called this the marathon of yoga. Although I was sweating by the end, and it felt like a great workout, I did not feel spent quite the way i do at the end of a marathon. Of course the sense of accomplishment after a marathon is beyond words. The feeling that I get at the end of each and everyone of my marathons Is a feeling of ecstasy and Emotional fulfillment. Many people ask why I run, and really that is the reason.
Two and a half hours of practicing yoga Although I’m not being quite a marathon, Is still a great workout Physically and emotionally.
So you May ask, why 108 eight sun salutations? The answer is that there are 108 beads on a Mala. A Japa mala or mala (Sanskrit:माला; mālā), meaning garland is a set of beads commonly used by Hindus and Buddhists, usually made from 108 beads. Malas are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name or names of a deity. This practice is known in Sanskrit as japa. The number 108 is considered sacred in many Eastern religions and traditions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and connected yoga and dharma based practices. The individual numbers 1, 0, and 8 represent one thing, nothing, and everything (infinity). 108 represents the ultimate reality of the universe as being (seemingly paradoxically) simultaneously one, emptiness, and infinite. Source
So, having participated in this practice I felt energized and ready for celebrating the victory of light over darkness – set to take place on the solstice. Please look to reading about the meditations that can be practiced on and for the solstice.
I am so glad to have discovered yoga! It really is a life changing practice.

A Yogic Yom Kippur

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I know that this is untimely however, for the first time I want to talk about my experience this Yom Kippur and how I incorporated Yoga to make it an absolutely incredible experience. I just read a post on Elephant Journal by Zack Lodmer titled Yoga and Judaism, and it reminded me of my experience.
Yom Kippur is known as the Jewish day of repentance and also as the day of judgment. It is in fact known as the holiest day of the Jewish year. For me it is more than that, it is a day of reflection and a day of meditation. I did just that, I incorporated a practice of yoga into my day including asana, pranayama and meditation. During prayer, I reflected on things that I needed to do in the days ahead as well as on how to make my life more spiritual. Some of the things that I thought and that have incorporated is spending quality time with my children and incorporate my culture into their lives to prevent it from getting lost.
The Yom Kippur service goes on from 9:00 AM until 7:30 PM with about a one hour break around 3:00 PM. This does not include the service of Kol Nidre, which takes place on the eve of the holiday, I will hold discussing Kol Nidre for another post.
At the break, I walked to nearby Lake Karina in Gurnee, IL. I walked around the lake and took deep breaths along the one mile walk. I then walked to the shore and practiced a round of sun salutations. Then I sat in a meditative pose and meditated for an hour. My meditation incorporated the sound of the small waves smashing on the shore and used that energy to reflect on my life as a father, lawyer, runner and such.
By the time this day was over, I was in such bliss that it was difficult to return to a normal pace the next day. Many people will not say this about a holiday that requires a full day of fasting, but this Yom Kippur probably was one of the best days of 2012 for me.
I hope to do a similar meditation prior to 2013 to wash away the negative feelings that this year has brought for me personally. If there is anything positive about 2012 for me it was starting a regular yoga practice.
Yoga has changed my life, if you have not tried yoga, I would suggest going to a class. I look forward to continuing my practice as well as running. As I train for the Miami marathon in January, I am convinced that Yoga will help, especially in the cold and dark days of winter.