Monday, August 24, 2009

Déjà Vu

There is so much talk recently about these days being the 'end days', the 'birth pangs of Moshiach', 'minutes before midnight' etc. that I find myself in awe. If what we read, hear, see and feel is correct, I say to myself, how fortunate that we live in the generation which may actually witness the forthcoming amazing and miraculous occurrences! But then I find myself feeling a kind of déjà vu like everyone has at some point in their life. It's a feeling of knowing that not only are we in the generation which may merit to be redeemed, but that we have always been in that generation. The Rabbis teach, (I specifically heard it from Rabbi Lazer Brody although I am not quoting) that we are all (or almost all) 'recycled neshamas' at this point in the history of the world. Our neshamas (souls) have been 'reborn', reincarnated more than once since the beginning of Creation. So in essence, we are not exactly the chosen generation from the viewpoint of personally being in the generation of redemption. We have recurrently had our share in the prospect since time immemorial.

It is said that in every generation a person worthy of becoming Moshiach exists, but if we don't merit his coming, life continues as usual until we do.... or eventually he will arrive on his own. In our past gilgulim (reincarnations), as a collective people, we didn't quite hit the mark. Since we are all responsible for one another, it is time that we helped each other work toward perfecting the world in order to assist in bringing true peace... Moshiach.

On a related subject, and here I am just throwing out my thoughts since no one knows what precisely will occur, (least of all me) but I find the idea of techiyat hameitim, resurrection of the dead, a fascinating topic. "According to the Leshem (as per the Midrash Ne’elam), Resurrection of the Dead begins in 17 years time" (from Rabbi Pinchas Winston's article 'A Step Back'). By then, HaShem willing that I should still be of this world, I will be in my early 70s. Nothing is certain, but my understanding is that the deceased will be revived at the age they died and then healed of any illness or disability they incurred prior to death. My Mother a'h passed away when I was in my mid 30s. I visualize meeting my Mom after all these years of separation. Hugs, kisses and crying aside.... she will be younger than her elderly daughter! How bizarre and shocking! This leads me to believe that our neshamas will play a much greater role in the future than in the world as we know it today and our physical bodies will be secondary.

I know some people think I have 'lost it' in the reality department when it comes to all of this, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. I have never had such clarity of mind as I have recently. My age may have caused me to require glasses to see more clearly for reading, but I believe it has had the opposite affect on my spiritual vision.

All I can do is to encourage people to heed the words of the many Rabbanim who tell us that it is time to do serious tshuva (repentance). It is not a laughing matter and when push comes to shove, I pray that all of my friends and family are on the right side of the gate. Now is the perfect time to begin or continue your efforts, the month before Rosh Hashana when we must each face the Judge of Judges to be inscribed for the New Year. We must use this time to make amends with anyone with whom we harbor animosity and with G-d Himself. This is an opportunity for introspection ~ we can look deep within ourselves and change for the better.

If each one of us takes on one more mitzvah, does one extra good deed, is kind, speaks less loshon hora and makes a serious effort to bring a little more light to the world, not only will our neshamas be more fine tuned, but we may even earn the chance to champion in the genuine, everlasting and long awaited peace!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Capitulating to Capitalism - for now

When I was very young, about 10 or 11 years old, I remember that I wanted to buy something which had gone up in price. Of course, being an innocent little girl, I couldn't understand why it cost more money that day than it did the previous time I saw it. I was told things always go up in price. I may not have understood about the economy or inflation, but all I could picture was that by the time I was an adult, things would be so expensive no one would be able to afford anything. And lo and behold, some 40 years later, the cost of materialism has skyrocketed beyond normalcy. True, salaries have increased over the years to balance out the purchasing costs, but things just kept spiralling upwards unrealistically. Unfortunately, only certain groups of people were able to keep up with the standards and the rest of the population just sunk to the bottom like a chunk of mud in a puddle of water. The rich got richer and the poor can't get ahead. (A good test for those trying to refrain from jealously and envy)

One specific commodity which has soared into absurdity is housing. I won't discuss the American situation because aside from the fact that I know very little about the real estate market in the U.S.A., it appears to be changing drastically day by day. But in Israel, it is definitely a seller’s / renter’s market. Supply and demand has pushed the prices into oblivion. So far, for many it is still a good incentive to make Aliya (every cake needs a bit of icing). I realize that “Aliya” money has affected the prices, but I don’t comprehend how anyone earning an average Israeli salary is able to afford housing in today’s market. Buying could be possible; if a couple is able to scrape together a down-payment for a small apartment, it’s a great investment. But what of the families who do not yet own a home? Living expenses prohibit savings. To purchase a property without help from the parents is difficult at best. How do those who must rent make ends meet? Mathematics was never my forte, but rental costs, plus food, plus utilities etc. must equal less than income. In this economy, the math just does not add up. (The system we are temporarily chained to is man-made and artificial, but it exist nonetheless)

We live in a small 'Yishuv' (literally settlement, but I prefer to call it a town). It started out as a communal agricultural town more than 30 years ago. At the time, one could buy a lot including a small home for less than $40,000. Today, the lot alone is selling for between $85,000 – a quarter million dollars! I am not totally naïve, and I understand the materialistic world we live in is controlled by the desire for profits, but enough is enough! In my heart I am saying “This land is not man’s to sell. G-d gave it to our people but it is still HIS.” But for now, He is allowing someone very big revenue. When I received word that these plots of land would soon be up for grabs, I had only one thought in mind ~ Moshiach is on his way!

Due to several events in our lives, our family has never had the privilege of owning a home in Eretz Yisrael. In light of the present circumstances, if I were to be realistic, I would be unable to foresee any changes in the immediate future. But what keeps me from being discouraged is that I know everything HaShem does is for the best. I continue to pray for salvation. My emuna tells me that life will soon be very different in ways we cannot even imagine, and only for the good.

With G-d’s help, may all of His children soon dwell in His land in comfort, peace and joy!