USA Tour 2019

Shalom!

This is going to be an adventure through pictures!  

Thank you for sharing it with me!

1. The Bais Yaakov St. Louis once in 25 years Dinner.  

It was a revelatory evening –  a once in a life-time event.  I was struck speechless.

Click the video image to hear my speech none-the-less.   (This is the unedited version in which I included my thank yous – and I mentioned all of you.)

The 7 minute speech’s proper name is: “The Cave of Machpela, the Rise of the final ה and the Depth of Humor” and is an aliya neshama for R’ Gershon Zeffren Zt”l.

It also could have been called, and though I am joking, I am not:  “where The Bais Yaakov movement/ Sarah Schneirer a”h meets (the tip of the iceberg of) R’ Moshe Shapiro’s Torah” and pretty much sums up my lofty dreams for all of us.

Hodu Lashem Ki tov.

The woman in the red hat is my piano teacher, Laura Schindler, who taught me music between the ages of  8 and 18.  The other picture is me with my sister Shani Roberts.  Here is an alumi shot – my incredible principal Mrs Tova Greenblatt in the center.

2. Ohel Sara Amen Group Rosh Chodesh Kislev

“The Lost Princess” 

Wow. In the bristling cold women assembled to sing Hallel and learn Torah.  I cannot describe the beauty of women singing Hallel.  It literally felt like the Schechina Rising.  In fact, that’s what the sources say… that David HaMelech was a musician because he was healing the exiled Schechina.  When women sing the month in – I have no words to describe the power.  I thank Ohel Sara for inviting me to join in.

The shiur “The Lost Princess”  doubles up as the FIRST CLASS of the Chava, Rise into your Feminine Series!! This is what I had in mind before I even prepared the Chava series (though I didn’t know I would be delivering it in NY!).  It explains all the correlations between the moon, the woman, the Schechina, and what “the rise of the feminine” means.  (No, it does not mean feminism).

I also officially discarded the name “Pre-Messianic Woman” right in the middle of the shiur.  (Well, bli neder.)  You can hear why when you click on the image.

Shiur zechus aliyha neshama for Sara Yuta bas Ephraim Menachem Mendel 

3. The Concert

At Bracha’s in Monsey I shared some of the Yonatan Razel piano covers I have been working on with vocals. 
At the end of the concert, one of the listeners stepped forward with her guitar and sang her very own composition called “Princess”.  This was of course totally unprepared and was one of the many hashgachos that guided the trip.
Tzirrel Liba runs the Shabbos Queen Project and you can receive her songs and Pre-Shabbos inspiration by joining HERE. 

(pre-shabbos = pre-messianic…. 🙂

For Bracha: it felt so familiar to be with an x-south african who bravely welcomed the unknown into her house 🙂 I long to return to your yoga studio!

Tremendous Gratitude goes to all my hosts as well to Rachel Leah Ismali, Rena Hagbi and others who resonate with my vision and put in hours to plan all of the events. 

Special mention to Henya Storch from The Storch Agency.  Little did I know I landed in pure gold when I arrived there on Thansgiving day for an overnight stay (see my tray of gluten and dairy free treats!)  May Hashem continue to fill your spacious heart with His Love and the love of us all. 

4.  A “Fool Proof” Formula Marriage Mini-Seminar 😉

Thursday evening, we held a 4 hour mini-seminar called “Cultivating a Pre-Messianic Marriage” or a “Geuladik Marriage”.  It was a safe place for us to explore our paradigms through Torah sources and make all sorts of connections.  Unfortunately I don’t have anything shareable from that special meeting as of yet but I can say that it is an incredibly important topic and some of those insights will be included this coming year as we learn about the Imahos at the school, of which the first course Chava is pre-requisite.  Chava is starting again for the last time before we move ahead, on the first night of Chanuka and you can join HERE

(Note: You will see how the course is valued, please reach out if you need assistance.)

I was delighted to see Rebbitzen Baila Gitty Vorhand who popped in right as we finished.  She is the writer of Emunas.com, Torah of the Mashgiach R’ Moshe Wolfson and has just published “Free to be Me”, published by Artscroll, on the topic of tzinus, for girls and educators, which I highly recommend.

5.  The Malchus Retreat

Phew!  There was one day left and my parents, may Hashem bless them, drove me to the retreat in the ice and snow.  Amazingly, all the women too managed to get through the precarious weather.  If you missed reading about the The Malchus Retreat – the immersive, in-depth Torah + healing day that we spent together, here it is (click on the picture).

(Now I know why the Albany Shabbaton plans were “recalculated” to Motzai Shabbos/ Sunday!)

I will conclude with my message to you I wrote in the Bais Yaakov Dinner Journal.  

“To my friends and soul-sisters at Nexus, 

The most amazing thing about our learning community is its circle nature.  As a circle has no beginning or ending, no up or down, through our connection with each other we are all empowered to become all that we can be.  I am the lucky recipient of your love and I glow every day with your light.  May we continue to dance our circle dance of the future.”

Love,

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It is Tu B’shvat. 

Everything is ready to spring forth… only the stirrings are too deep within the earth to be visible.

Typical as Jews, we are celebrating already. 

That is the power of Emuna.  (Or shall we call it.. E-moon-a? 😉 

The fruit of the tree represents the sweet outcome of all our blood, sweat and tears, the object of our strivings.

I have just arrived back from my trip to Eretz Yisroel.  I tasted the winter.  Outside my window now as I write in my home in Johannesburg my lawn is as green as late summer.  Yet in the inner plane, we are all one, our seasons may differ but we share the same pulse of the Jewish year.

The sap is rising.
~

There is so much about to spring forth, for our new “school-year” at Nexus, for Jewish women, for Klal Yisroel.  May the future approach us l’tovah and may we only share simchas!

Where do I start? 

(Make sure you catch the end of this email for news of the Nexus School Opening 2020 launch, live in person with Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein and special guest from Eretz Yisroel R’ Nir Menussi, author of the sefer “Who is this Rising?” which has formed the base for my feature courses, Rise! Into your Feminine, Chava and Imahot.)

~

Here goes.

My daughter, Ayala Esther, is becoming a bas-mitzvah in a few weeks.  Whomever we asked for a brocha said the same thing about her name: Ayala is a hint to the morning star, the Ayelet Hashachar that signals the rising of the dawn.  (See psalm 22.) It is the faith in a brighter future that appears in the dark of night.  (Just like Tu B’shvat!)  Esther means hidden.  This is exactly our theme as women, growing with and into the new light, the אור חדש, that is dawning, cherishing it within us until it will blaze fully in its time. 

My mission for the trip was to share the gems from the Chava course with the women in Israel.   Thus, I was to be speaking about femininity through everything we have articulated thus far at the school.  Little did I know that I was to face my own femininity like never before.  Yes, the best part of the trip caught me by surprise, and only emerged at the end.  My trip to Israel was a home-coming, but not in the way I thought it would be.  
 
Right as we arrived, our accommodation fell through.  Despite all that we had planned, we suddenly could only think of one thing: our basic needs. Lodging, transportation, and food (gluten free!) – in that order! It drove home the point that without a home – a bayit – the container for anything and everything else just doesn’t exist.  The Jewish woman is the one who in her beingness creates these very oases, those spaces that despite their imperfections are the perfect places that set the stage for history to unfold. 

Special thank you to our three hosts that provided a home for u:  My sister Devorah Hochstadter in Ramat Beis Shemesh and Chaya Lester and Rivka Stauber in Nachlaot.  I cannot thank you enough. 

Here are some pictures that I managed to snap, in no particular order.  The beautiful inner city.

It was a huge privilege visiting my seminary, BJJ, 20 years after leaving.  There it is in the background.  My teachers, bli ayin hara – may Hashem bless them with continued vigor, are still teaching, still pouring everything they have and are into new talmidot every single year.  These sterling Bais Yaakov schools are a lesson in stability, in un-shakeable values, and in the richness and fulfillment that comes from living according to those values.  

R’ Menussi’s wife, Naama, drove us to meet the source of Rav Menussi’s inspiration for his book, “Who is this Rising”, R’ Yitzchak Ginsburg, which was a great zechut.  I didn’t realize that he hailed from St. Louis, the city where I grew up.  The meeting transcended words – so it is with a great person who is comfortable with himself, he did not need to fill the gaps with unnecessary speech.  His presence and support gave me great chizuk.  

Ah, the Embrace Shabbos Shabbaton.  I cannot put into words how magical it is when women connect with each-other around their connection to Hashem. It is truly Miriam’s Circle Dance when that happens.  It was an honor to teach alongside Rebbitzen Yehudis Golshevsky and the entire staff at Shiviti (check out this beautiful women’s center of learning in the heart of Jerusalem:  www.shiviti.org.il). Liba and Rochel, living continents apart, began something which I think is just the beginning when they organized this.  You can be in touch with them here: https://www.kavconnect.com/embraceshabbos.

    

  

Emuna day.  I don’t know how or why, but I was asked to be MC.  Despite the fact that I was backpacking through Israel with a baby, I did my best to open the incredible gathering of over 400 Jerusalem English speaking women seeking to make contact with the Emuna that is our inner essence.  It may fluctuate in how much it penetrates us at any given moment, but it is always there – it is ours.  The incredible vision of this event belongs to Devorah Yaffa Singer. (pictured just above: Rivka Stauber, Orit Esther Riter)

(There is something happening, can you feel it?) 

        

^ Rochel Weiman from Kav Connect and Elevate Shabbos Retreats (left) and my awesome sister Devorah (right)

The Chava Crash Course in Israel took place at the Nitza Center, a center dedicated to the support of women after birth (no video yet).  Thank you so much to Jeanne (Shaina) Rubin for hosting us.  It was perfect!  What a diverse we were and how the teachings met us all where we needed to be.  
  
Stay tuned for Feb 23rd for the South African crash course! which I’ll tell you about next time.  It will be recorded and will enable you to join Sarah which is starting really soon beH – Feb 26th!!

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Before I sign off…. if you haven’t joined the Global Geula Summit yet, here it is!  

I am so looking forward to my interview with Shifra.  Her way of seeing the world is very, very large.  Geula isn’t something that we can’t relate to.  It is something we create, long for, and align with through the power of will and good choices.  I will be speaking about why the Rise of Femininity is an important part of this conversation.  I may end up sharing a lot 🙂  Click on the image to sign up – it’s free. 

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Last but not least! 

SOUTH AFRICANS – THIS IS FOR YOU!

Everyone else, I will be recording this!

I am partnering with the incredible Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, founder of the Shabbos project, Sinai Inaba, and so much more.  He has brought the office of the Chief Rabbi way out of mere political spheres and into the resurgence of Torah on the southern tip of Africa and worldwide.  He is preparing a message for women Jewry at the opening event.  We are serving breakfast, I am opening up my piano 🙂 and R’ Menussi is coming all the way from Israel to talk about the million dollar question… WHAT ABOUT THE MEN?  Where do they fit in all of this?  How do relationships change when women grow?  How do we guide this process that is taking place before our very eyes according to Torah?  

If you live in Joburg, please book HERE so we can cater for you.
  
PS. Ayala is making a camp for your kids while you come and enjoy!  Let her know you are bringing your kids by replying to this email. 

If you don’t live in SA, consider sponsoring the talks in the merit of a loved one to help me cover expenses.  Reply to this email. 

I think that is enough for now!  🙂

~

Oh!  I forgot to tell you the sweetest part of the trip, the part that surprised me.

It wasn’t the brochos we got … though they are so precious to me.  It wasn’t Emuna day, though it was precious.  No, not even the Shabbaton.  Not the crash course.  Not even just walking on holy soil.  Or all the holy souls I met.

Did I mention that my baby wouldn’t go to sleep? Until past midnight every single night no matter what I would do?

I was stretched.

And then, at the end, I realized what was happening.  She needed my attention, which she obviously hadn’t gotten enough of while sharing me with older siblings (and with our household help! – but that’s another story!) in Johannesburg.  

Well, she got it in Israel.  And finally, it happened –  we attached.  BH.  Properly.  Just in time for her kiddish in honor of her birth happening this week if you are in Joburg.

Femininity, its not what you expect.  But it makes you smile!

Wishing you a beautiful week and elevated shabbos. 

Passing on whatever blessings I received from the Holy Land… 

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Original watercolor of my own chuppa

Dedicated to my husband, R’ Ari Taback, for being the world’s greatest pre-messianic husband (well, for me).  And its usually not in ways we expect.  (Well, never.)

One day I will interview him for all the men that desire to hear about pre-messianic marriage from a man’s perspective.

 

Malchus Retreat, Nov 30 – Dec 1, Pomona

Reflections

As the first snow of the season fell around Tzivia Chaya’s house on Tamarack Lane in in Pamona, Monsey, we sat ensconced in the warmth of a womb of becoming.

The women who carved the time out to travel from the surrounds of New York City were both curious and courageous.  Curious to see what is possible when we seek to bring light to vessel, and courageous to expand into a “new” Torah paradigm, to identify where they personally found themselves on the map of feminine potential, and to share their breakthroughs with others traveling a similar journey. 

It is impossible to fully describe the terrain we traveled in our twenty-two hour immersive dive into the secrets of the feminine in the scope of this blog.   Though one thing is clear:  we are joining forces, all of us, to redeem the lost princess, the beloved feminine child, Hashem’s only daughter and the King’s “seventh child”.  (See my talk at the AMEN group HERE for more on this). 

The lost princess is sometimes called the Torah (Shmot Rabba Parashas Teruma) and sometimes called Shabbos (see the Lecha Dodi prayer).  Shechina and Malchus are both apt names too (perhaps preferred by the mystically inclined).  As Jewish + Women, our femininity is the mashal for “the lost princess” and our Jewishness is our mandate to free her.  That means that as women, we are both representing her as well as actively involved in her redemption. Thus, our story of growth runs completely parallel to the approach of the messianic era.  For this reason, Rashi asserts that “women are close to Geula”  and chazal state prophetically, “in the merit of the righteous women in that generation (of moshaich) we will be redeemed”.

What was so special about the retreat was our quest to rise together as Jewish women into our fullest potential.  Since the feminine archetype is compared to the moon, a moon aglow represents the pinnacle of feminine spiritual achievement.  However, the glow of the moon will be so great (Isiah 30:26), perfectly reflecting all the light of the sun without losing even a drop, that it will indeed emit light like a sun.  When that happens, the night itself will become no more.  Hence, the complete recovery of the moons’ diminishment will herald in another era – one that our sages describe, in the same passage there, as being filled with da’as of Hashem as water fills the sea. 

That means, if you are adding this all up with me, that rising as Jewish women is synonymous with coming into our full consciousness.  Indeed, when the dark side of the moons is illuminated through sheer proximity to its own reflected light, it becomes dark no more.

Because nexus is designed to heal ourselves… and because nexus is the meeting point between light and vessel… we did this in real time.  The incredible group, through the supportive culture we had all co-created, was able to identify the transformations they were seeking that would shift them in a deep place inside, from where they could continue to navigate their lives in the real world aligned more with their essence.  Each of us were able to isolate the area or dark spot in our beings where we were operating out of unwittingly and then illuminate it with the light of Torah.  Though the love between us was palpable, the day was actually permeated with the quality of truth.  When we are in truth, we automatically iron out the creases and repair our internal frays.  If we were to keep applying this principle of bringing light to our darkness continually… we would continue to expand in consciousness and heal into the wholeness of what Hashem created us to be.  This was the melody of the day and the Torah we shared kept us thinking big and feeling supported by Hashem Himself in our quest to come closer to Him.

Of course, each woman’s growth was precious and personal.   If you want to get a feeling for the sorts of subconscious blocks that other women broke through, you can read Rochel’s poetic notes where she noted them in stunning simplicity, called “Malchus affirmations”, HERE (read to the end).  You will still be able to pick out a new tune that is starting to play through all of our hearts.

~

I wasn’t sure what to call the retreat when I invited you to it.  Looking back, its name is clear.  It was the Malchus retreat.  Malchus is the esoteric quality associated with the moon, and though the moon is said to “have nothing of her own” (she is merely the transmitter of the sun’s light), ironically, her qualities are many.  Some things we have wondered as women though we may not have given voice to are:  how do we rise and remain humble?  How do we shine and not evoke the jealousy of others?  How do we find and connect to our own light and not need to be pumped up from the outside?  What is motivating us?  How do we trust ourselves through-out our journey of ascent when we are so prone to self-doubt? What can we look forward to at the end, as it says in Aishes Chayil (Mishlei) “she who laughs on the last day”?  Indeed, the moon will share one crown with the sun as she initially intuited she would (Arizal, sha’ar mi’ut halevana).  But this will not be an expression of ego as it may have been originally.  These and others are the lessons of Malchus.  As you can infer, Malchus is so internal that it aligns with everything our teachers always taught us about tznius (modesty) and coming into our inner essence. And yet, paradoxically, Malchus is also the essence of leadership. 

Of course. 

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What I discovered is that meeting live in person, as wonderful as that is, requires the lining up of so many logistics.  Food, lodging, transportation, and baby-sitting.  The great news is that the teachings from the retreat were all extracted from the first series  at the Nexus school, Rise into your Feminine through Chava, and you can connect with them and the entire Nexus community by joining (HERE), learn in your own place and at your own pace, and fit it into your life. 

The next cohort of Chava, is starting on Dec 22nd 2019.  It is your chanuka present!  Join HERE.  Join with a chavrusa for the chavrusa special.

To connect to the community email me at info@thenexus.org

The School is moving on!  Feb 12th 2020 BeH with the Imahos so stay tuned.  Chava is prerequisite.

If you need help to pay tuition because you are in Klei Kodesh or you require financial assistance for other reasons, you can apply for a Torah discount.

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“Happy Birthday!”

This greeting that comes from the sweetest place in our hearts when we extend birthday salutations to a loved one… I asked myself last week when I was on the receiving end of these kindnessess… what does it actually mean?

My husband said pithily, when I asked him; “it means, thank you for existing.”

Yes, a birthday is a day that we reflect on just that – existing.

Of course, being on this planet is nothing of our own doing and is most simply a supreme expression of G-d’s love.

Why then the birthday wishes?

~

My teacher, Miriam Millhauser Castle taught me that the gap between expectations and reality is what we define as disappointment (in other words, when a ho-hum reality doesn’t match the impossibly high standards of our expectations).  

I sometimes wonder if birthdays aren’t a breeding ground for this sort of disappointment.

The truth is sometimes, (well, pretty much, always) surprising.

~

The truth is that the only one to celebrate a birthday in the Torah was Paroah.

“ויהי ביום השלישי יום הלדת של פרעה…” (Breishis 40:20)

No-where else is it mentioned as such.

The Torah always lays the foundations of psychologically healthy practices and rituals and this makes me wonder about the birthday one.

Not to say that birthdays are bad and we should do anything different. (read to the end)

Generally, our job is to shower and lavish those around us with as much love, appreciation, validation and adoration as we can muster.

That doesn’t mean, from the view from the inside , i.e. our personal way of handling ourselves, that we should become people that are needy of those things.

There-in lies the irony – we give the very thing to others that we personally try to inhibit for ourselves as sources of our intrinsic  worth.

~

I think the essence of the birthday question that I am raising is a question about giving.

Rav Dessler, in his classic Kutrus HaChessed; tells us that only one who feels full and satiated can be a giver. [Put in modern jargon; people who are not suffering from the mentality of lack and scarcity can be givers.] Of course, were our emuna and faith in Hashem complete we would always feel full and satisfied; regardless of how others may perceive our circumstances.

פותח את ידיך ומשביעה לכל חי רצון – “You open Your Hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing”

נער הייתי גם זקנתי ולא ראיתי צדיק נעזב – “When I was both young and old I have never seen a righteous man abandoned by G-d and his children begging for bread”

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Rav Dessler, in that same essay about loving-kindness, tells us than giving is what creates love, and not love that brings forth giving as we would want to believe.

Therefore, satisfaction with one’s life, feeling totally and already full and living your life as a giver are one and the same concept.

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To simplify: Giving equals Joy.

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Let’s compare that with the birthday concept.

“It’s my party I can cry if I want to.”

Why are people allowed to cry at their birthday parties??

Because they are designated as the recipients of everyone else’s giving!

Everyone else is happy – they are giving to the birthday girl or boy.

They have no expectations.

But the birthday girl or boy?

Of course they want to cry!

~

The Jewish concept of a birthday is far deeper.  It is a day when one’s “Mazal” – spiritual essence and vitality – is strong.   

Not surprisingly, it is also a day of prayer – as the anniversary of the day their soul came into the world in order to fulfill its unique mission.

These two concepts together make it an auspicious time to give blessings and indeed you should seek out the brochos of those on their birthday.

But the best part of this is – giving brochos also turns the birthday into a day of giving!

There is no more a need to cry.

~

Let us give….

…nachas to our creator who magnanimously created us.

….brochos to those who fill our lives with joy and meaning.

And more importantly… our expectations a break.

Let us know that we are already totally complete and full – and any birthday wish or present that comes our way simply adds to a state of internal satiation.

Let the locus of control remains where it is supposed to be – within – and may we not be dependent on that which comes from with-out.  May all birthday celebrations only enhance an intact self-esteem and healthy psyche unfettered by unrealistic expectations.

And when the gifts and wishes come, how great it is, to be so blessed.

~ ~ ~