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Ups and Downs!

February 14, 2017

“I’ve been on top, I’ve been rock bottom, but time heals everything and I will never give up. Everything takes time and this is going to take time” – The late great Joost van der Westhuizen talking about his diagnosis of MND[i] a few years ago.

Summary of this week’s Torah Parsha (Portion) Yisro/Yitro from www.aish.com

This is the Torah portion containing the giving of the Ten Commandments. Did you know that there are differences in the Ten Commandments as stated here (Exodus 20:1 -14) and restated later in Deuteronomy 5:6-18? (Suggestion: have your children find the differences as a game at the Shabbat table during dinner).

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro (Yitro or Yisro in the Hebrew) joins the Jewish people in the desert, advises Moses on the best way to serve and judge the people — by appointing a hierarchy of intermediaries — and then returns home to Midian. The Ten Commandments are given, the first two were heard directly from God by every Jew and then the people begged Moses to be their intermediary for the remaining eight because the experience was too intense.

The portion concludes with the Almighty telling Moses to instruct the Jewish people not to make any images of God. They were then commanded to make an earthen altar; and eventually to make a stone altar, but without the use of a sword or metal tool.

Walking home on Friday night from my parents my kids were commenting on the size of the full moon and how beautiful it looked.

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs, a lot of moments in my life that haven’t been reported correctly” – Shane Warne – The Age[ii]

We all have ups and downs. These may be emotionally, in our personal lives, in our professional lives and in our training.

cyclingaAccept the days when cycling feels impossible. Embrace the days when cycling feels effortless.” – @cyclingthought

The first Mitzvah in Parsha Bo that we read a few weeks ago says “This month for you shall be the first of the months.” This is the commandment to the Jewish court to establish the new month and to implement the lunar calendar system, which is the basic mechanism of tracking the Jewish holidays. Our Sages say that the Greek-Syrians (Yevanim) tried to uproot three basic Jewish commandments: Shabbos, Milah (Circumcision), and Kiddush haChodesh (Sanctifying the New Month). Why was the mitzvah of Kiddush haChodesh so fundamental that it was so important to abolish it?

I read a beautiful piece by Rabbi Frand[iii] who brings down an interpretation from Arugas haBosem[iv]. “The Arugas haBosem asks: Is it not peculiar that the G-d, who is the essence of that which is eternal and is the essence of Emes [Truth], should create a celestial body like the moon, which waxes and wanes. The moon is here, it gets smaller, then it disappears and then it comes back again. This is sort of “out of character” for a Divine creation. The sun is always present, the forces of nature are always present, and gravity is always present. What is it about the moon that it is present, it grows, it diminishes, it disappears, and then it reappears? Why would He make something like that?

The Arugas haBosem answers that there is something about the moon that is fundamental to the Jewish people and fundamental to every single Jewish person. The moon is a symbol to us that people go through life with periods of growth and decline. They go through periods in which they are ascendant and then they go through periods in which they are descendant. However, just like the moon waxes and wanes — it becomes big and diminishes and almost disappears, it always reappears — “HaChodesh hazeh lachem”: This rejuvenation cycle of the moon is crucial to what being a Jew is all about both collectively and on an individual level.”

It is interesting that two recent Podcast (Rich Roll’s Podcast[v] and Lance Armstrong’s Forward Podacst[vi]) that I have listened to, the guests have spoken about their ups and downs.

Thank you for life, and all the little ups and downs that make it worth living.” – Travis Barker

Travis Barker[vii] is a drummer and rock star from the band Blink 182. “But behind the tattoos, sold out arenas and dope rides lives a quiet, soulful artist with a prodigious work ethic. A sober consciousness birthed from pain. Etched from hardship, Travis Barker has survived some serious shit. But it’s our wounds that make us human. And it’s that humanity that interests me the most.” – Rich Roll on Travis Barker

“I was unfortunately homeless on two occasions, so when I started John Paul Mitchell systems in 1980, I lived in my car for the first two weeks.” John Paul DeJoria

It’s been a long way to the top for John Paul DeJoria, tequila tycoon and co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems hair care, one of the world’s leading salon-exclusive hair-care brands. This is a true rags to billionaire story of a serial entrepreneur.

It was interesting to read how personal some people get on social media, but often there are lessons that we can learn from their posts and honesty. “…It’s been an interesting week to say the least. Full of emotions (ups and downs) and an overwhelming feeling of not being satisfied with where my life is currently at. …. In times like this I have to remind myself that’s its ok to experience contrast and hard times, because it forces me to ask better questions of myself. Nurturing myself and doing things that make me feel good are of the upmost importance right now, so it’s an early night for me” – Champion swimmer Stephanie Rice @Itsstephrice in a Instagram post

I have just started reading an interesting book[viii] titled “The Book of Joy”. This book chronicles Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s visit to the Dalai Lama in India to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday and their conversations and discussions during this visit. In the first few pages the topic of my Blog was mentioned twice by the author/ facilitator Douglas Abrams.

“The week in Dharamsala[ix] (India) felt like an extraordinary and challenging peak in this lifelong journey to understand both joy and suffering” – Douglas Abrams

“They offer us the reflection of real lives filled with pain and turmoil in the midst of which they have been able to discover a level of peace, courage, of joy that we can aspire to in our own lives….Suffering is inevitable, they said, but how we respond to that suffering is our choice. Not even oppression or occupation can take away this freedom to choose our response.” Douglas Abrams

Even if it’s MND, I’m in actually in a lucky position where I can fix my life with my belief, between me and G-d, rectify what I did wrong. Other people are not that lucky. If you get run over by a truck, you don’t have that time.” – The late great Joost van der Westhuizen

The power of “This New Moon is for you,” it is the power of the celestial sphere (an imaginary sphere of which the observer is the centre and on which all celestial objects are considered to lie.) that is emulated by the Jewish people over time. They are destined to renew like it. The capacity of rebirth, the capacity of rejuvenation, and the capacity of renaissance, define the Jewish people. We all have that capacity to change and rejuvenate over time.

cyclingbTo end a quote “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.” – @cyclingthought

[i] http://www.scotsman.com/sport/springbok-hero-joost-van-der-westhuizen-given-just-two-to-five-years-to-live-1-1777105

[ii] http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/theatre/shane-warne-promises-nothing-but-the-truth-in-tellall-stage-show-warney-uncut-20170207-gu78jt?deviceType=text

[iii] http://torah.org/torah-portion/ravfrand-5777-bo/

[iv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arugas_Habosem

[v] http://www.richroll.com/podcast/travis-barker/

[vi] http://theforwardpodcast.libsyn.com/john-paul-dejoria

[vii] http://travisbarker.com/

[viii] http://bookofjoy.org/

[ix] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharamsala

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