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From the Rabbi's Desk

From the Rabbi's Desk

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Don't use Training Wheels!

Training Wheels. I like to think of them as two little guys running alongside the bike, in a relentless effort to help a young rider stay upright. A very noble cause indeed, with the global team coming to the rescue of countless children as they make their foray into two-wheeled transportation.

Undocumented, however, are the countless hours that mom and dad put in after the training wheels finally come off. Holding, steering, supporting, as their young cyclist attempts to gain cycling stability. Hang on! Wasn’t this meant to be accomplished by Team Training Wheels? Why does graduation from this dedicated support system mean finding another crutch?

You see, what the training wheels really taught the child, is dependance. You can fall, and it will be perfectly fine. They are doing such a good job, that the young cyclist can literally sit back and enjoy the ride. In this manner, it can actually make it more challenging for the child to ride with their own two feet.

Well then, how do we teach independence?

Enter the Balance Bike. A two-wheeled pedal-less bike that naturally teaches the child to pick up their feet as they glide along. With this tool, they propel themselves forward, control their direction, speed, balance and all. The focus isn’t on allowing them to ride today but giving them the balance and skills to ride tomorrow.

In the Torah this week, we read that Aharon, the High Priest, is instructed to light the Menorah. The terminology used though is a bit strange. It translates as “when you cause the flames to riseup” instead of simply stating “when you kindle the lights”.

When lighting a candle, when sharing an inspiration, when being there for someone, it’s all about the candle. That the candle should stay lit after the match is gone, that inspiration should remain after the sun has disappeared behind a cloud.

So, whether you are helping someone out, or trying to kickstart your own flame, the goal - and in fact, the journey itself - should be, to pedal with one’s own two feet. 

Wishing you a good Shabbos and a fantastic week!
Rabbi Dovid Bush

p.s. Meet Sarah and Shira!
Next week, this dynamic duo will be arriving in Petaluma to give a fantastic group of campers the summer of a lifetime.
Registration and "Camperships" at 
www.CampAleph.com

The Vulcan Salute

We just celebrated the Mount Sinai experience in epic fashion. With a full house crowd, we read the 10 commandments, ate some delicious homemade cheesecake (no, I'm not biased πŸ˜‰), and commemorated the moment when it all began. Thank you to all those who came and made it special!

~ ~ ~

Friday night, just before Kiddush, my sisters and I would "step up to the plate" as my father would place his hands on each of our heads and bless us for the coming week. Lots of guests? We received the blessing just the same. Now, in our home, the tradition continues, sharing a moment of love with each child.

It is the same blessing recited by the Kohanim (the priestly tribe) which appears in this week's Torah reading. In Jerusalem, it is recited every day. Outside of Israel, it is reserved for the major holidays. The children stream from all sides to join their fathers underneath the tallit. The idea is not to gaze directly at the Kohanim during this magical moment while they are the conduits for divine blessing.

Well, one little boy by the name of Leonard Nimoy peeked and saw the distinct manner in which the Kohanim hold their hands (#mysticalstuff). In the 1960's in the Star Trek films, he made the gesture famous with the Vulcan Salute - a one-handed version. It has officially become internet famous, getting its own emoji symbol πŸ––.

Following the three verses of the blessing, it says "and I (G-d) will bless them".

Wait, if the Kohanim already blessed them, why the need for G-d's blessing?

One interpretation is that Hashem will actualize and bring to fruition their blessings.
i.e. In order to harness blessings that might be floating around in the spiritual stratosphere, it needs to be drawn down into the physical. (Fun fact: the etymology of the word Bracha(translated as blessing) actually means drawing down). The Kohen does this by forming the words of blessing. The same is true when a father takes a moment to bless his child, when a mother kisses her child good night, or when we wish a friend good morning.

Alternatively, it means that Hashem will bless the Kohanim - as a reward for them blessing the rest of the congregation.

Sometimes, we might think that going out of our way to do a favor for another, is inconvenient. At times, the efforts that we expend for others come at a cost. Perhaps I should just focus on my own needs, reserving my energy and resources for a rainy day?

The message of "I will bless them" is that when we stand up and do for others, offering a kind word, helping those who are less fortunate, extending ourselves for a friend, colleague or neighbor, that effort doesn't go unnoticed. Hashem himself reciprocates and showers his blessing down upon us.

Live long, prosper, and be kind to those around you.

With blessings for a good Shabbos and a fantastic week!

Fidget Spinner Musings

So there’s this new toy that has taken the nation by storm. The fidget spinner. A small 3-pronged spinning device that seems to be a hybrid between a hamantash and a dreidel. After decades of teacher’s trying to dissuade their students from fidgeting and doodling, this contraption embraces it. The "fidget" welcomes the child - or adult - to mindlessly spin away, allowing access to a sort of peaceful focus.

As the academic experts debate the merits of allowing a possible distraction into the classroom, I’d like to focus on the source of the fidgeting symptom. The need to constantly move, not sitting still for a moment. It’s actually a profound concept, and is the origin of the “shuckel” - the swaying movement so synonymous with Jewish prayer. You walk into Shul, put on a Talit, and as you murmur the words of prayer, you find yourself “shuckeling”. Why? 

Have you ever noticed that a flame constantly dances on its wick, quivering, flickering, yearning to ascend? The fire wishes to be free from the constraints of the candle. Yet if that were to happen, the fire would cease to exist, no longer illuminating its surroundings, no longer warming its environment. Its mission aborted. 

Each of us has a fire inside. Our Neshama, Hebrew for the soul, burns within, glowing with lofty passions and aspirations. It cannot sit idle, it has got to be active, journeying, exploring, moving. If the soul were to have its way, it would float right on up to the celestial spheres and dance with the stars, singing with the angels.

But, like the candle, our mission can only be accomplished while we are firmly rooted to the ground. Channeling our energies and passions to do a Mitzvah, a good deed, in this world, positively affecting our circle of impact.

This was the gift at Mount Sinai, when Heaven met Earth. It was the introduction of this unique ability to fuse the spiritual with the physical, the flame with the candle, bringing light into darkness and transforming it into a place of warmth and vitality. 

The lesson: Let your inner fidget spin. Keep that fire burning. Yet all the while, channel that inextinguishable spark of life into doing amazing things. For yourself, for your family, and for your community. Fulfill your mission by burning bright in your assigned position. Keep on spinning!

This Wednesday, join us as we 
fuse the 10 commandments with Ice Cream and Cheesecake and celebrate the giving of the Torah. Oh, and of course, we have custom "Proud 2 be Jewish" Fidget Spinners for all the kids! 

What's on your Head?

I had just gotten out of the car to put the Camp Aleph "welcome packets" in the mailbox when he asked me "what is that on your head"?

I turned to see a young boy walking home from school with his friend, and before I had a chance to reply, she says, "that's a Kippah, don't you know that I'm Jewish"? And they kept right on walking talking about what being Jewish means etc.

Nothing happens by accident. Why had this interaction taken place? I hadn't uttered a word. A Yarmulka had inspired a question, answer and the ensuing conversation.

Reflecting on this micro-episode, I realized that this is what the upcoming holiday of Shavuot is all about. (By the way, please 
join us for Cheesecake, Ice Cream, a delicious dairy spread and the reading of the 10 commandments).

Mount Sinai was the location of choice for the monumental occasion of the giving of the Torah. In fact, the Midrash relates that all the mountains were arguing over the honor. Each one thought themselves to be worthy as the chosen spot. This one because it was the tallest mountain, this one the widest, etc.

Ultimately, the one mountain that didn't enter into the discussion, without any claim to fame was chosen. It was Mount Sinai. The lowest of the bunch. For to get the Torah, we need to have humility, the ability to listen, a level of selflessness.

Well, if humility is all the rage, why not choose a valley? Here we take the lesson that we also need confidence and strength. The ability to stand up against the current.

A Jew once complained to his Rebbe that people were trampling on him when they entered the Synagogue. The Rebbe's advice: "Don't lie down in front of the doorway". Humility is not synonymous with being a doormat. 

The image of Mount Sinai shows us that we need both qualities: the ability to listen and respect, and at the same time, the firmness to stand tall and proud as a Jew.

And at that moment, standing on a Petaluma streetcorner, I saw the Yarmulka's message in action resulting in a Jewish girl standing tall and proud. 

I'm flying United...

Dr. David Dao was forcibly shlepped off his United Airlines flight. A stroller was violently taken from a mom flying American. Chaos erupted in when Spirit pilots refused to fly in Florida. A family was threatened with jail time for not wanting to give up their baby's seat on a Delta flight to Hawaii.

What is going on? What has happened to common decency and courtesy?

Let's take a step back to an airline's inaugural flight, or to a maiden voyage of a cruise ship. As one can imagine, everything takes place in idyllic fashion. The stewardesses smiles are fresh and bright, the pilot's broadcast over the PA is animated and joyful, the passengers are courteous to one another. Perhaps they hired a band to greet the passengers in the terminal, complimentary hor d'oeuvres and champagne to set the mood.

What happens on that flight is not just a marketing ploy to attract future passengers. I think that, at least on some level, it represents some core values that the airline believes in. Wanting to make travel enjoyable, providing exemplary customer service, creating an environment of camaraderie in the air, (Hey, and make a little money on the side πŸ˜‰ ).

But then amidst the pressures of day to day life, those same values fade into the background. While trying to accommodate hundreds of travelers hurrying to their destinations, the couple who would like to sit together seems more like an annoyance. Not out of mal intent, but simply getting caught up in the black and white of getting the airplane off the ground with a constantly ticking clock.

Between Passover and Shavuot it is a time of mourning, as thousands of Rabbi Akiva's students were dying. On "Lag B'omer" the 33rd day, the plague finally stopped. The day (this Sunday), is a day of celebration, celebrated with music, bonfires and festivities.

What was the cause of this plague? The Talmud tells us that they didn't respect one another. This is thoroughly perplexing as their teacher, the great sage Rabbi Akiva's MO was to love your fellow as yourself. How could his very own students act with disregard for another's feelings?

But like the airlines, their core beliefs of respect and love were forgotten in their quest to "do life" right. While trying to ensure that their fellow life passengers were doing exactly what the instruction manual recommends, they forgot the spirit by which they meant to operate. 

Lag B'omer (as we turn mourning into marshmallows) represents coming back to the basics; that amidst all the hustle and bustle, the baggage and seat assignments, the focus needs to remain the same for flight attendants and passengers alike. The American (and yes, very Jewish) value of truly flying... United.

Get some commUNITY tonight at the Jewish Social Network Shabbat Dinner. 6:30pm, 1970 Rainier Circle. I hear the food will be better than any airline!

~ ~ ~

I'd like to take the opportunity to wish all the moms out there - beginning with my own mother (Hi Mom!) and Devorah - a very happy Mother's Day! Thank you for being mom!

I Blew It!

I blew it.

That has got to be one of the most depressing feelings. Opportunity lost. Gone with the wind. Perhaps it was a conversation that quickly went south, a reaction in the heat of the moment, a business deal that in hindsight was the wrong move.
 
Sometimes, it seems like we never even had a chance. When you get sick and miss that major event; when a job gets filled before you even applied; when your dream home sells before you put in an offer. 

If only I had been accepted to that school; If only I had learned that when I was younger; If only I had that talent. If only.

How do we overcome this sense of despair? Enter the 2nd Passover (celebrated this Wednesday).

When leaving Egypt, amidst all the festivities, there was one group of Jews who had every right to feel left out. Those who were entrusted with carrying Joseph's coffin through the desert to the Holy Land. Ritually impure from being in contact with the deceased, they could not participate in the Passover sacrifice.

What did they do? Were they demoralized, dejected and discouraged? Did they sit in their tent in acceptance and defeat? No! They channeled their desire to participate, and created new opportunity. After lobbying Moshe, and his divine consultation on their behalf, a new Holiday was born: Pesach Sheni - the 2nd Passover. Those who were unable to participate in the previous month's celebration would be able to have their time one month later.

The message: There's always a second chance. We can always create new opportunity. We can make things right. We just need to want to. Instead of dwelling on the past, let's look forward and create a bright future!

Equestrian

Obstacles. Why do we have them? What are they? How do we overcome them?

"The world's opinion is that if you can't crawl under an obstacle, then try to climb over, but I say you should start by going over". This is a quote from Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, whose birthday is today (born 1834).

If you were to walk into an equestrian arena, the sight is slightly puzzling. Why don't the horses simply walk around the obstacles? And for what reason were they put there in there in the first place? It would be a much cleaner look and ride without these contraptions prominently placed in traffic's direct path.

But the truth is, that these very obstacles help the majestic breed realize it's potential and power, soaring gracefully over the poles, mane flowing in the air. The hurdles no longer a deterrent, rather they bring out the very best in the thoroughbred. Springboards to perform, catalysts to launch the horses to a different plane.

Coming from Passover, the Hebrew name Pesach actually means leaping over. We were imbued with the ability to rise above, to tap into an elevated experience. To spring and vault over and beyond the challenges that confront us. When navigating the course of life in this manner, we can soar majestically above any hurdle. Suddenly, we find this inborn energy, spreading our wings to fly and experience the world from a higher vantage point.

Rabbi Shmuel (known as the Maharash) would sing a stirring melody expressing this idea. 
Here is a beautiful version by world-renowned pianist Yaron Gershovsky.

When a challenge is staring you in the face, instead of trying to navigate it's threatening presence, take the opportunity to soar.

Time Out!

Time.

The clock keeps ticking, sending us subtle messages. A meeting to attend, a flight to catch, a friend's birthday. It can be a simple matter of sitting in traffic for a few extra moments. At times it is winter giving way to spring. Sometimes it is an entire stage of life; a baby growing into a toddler, a bar mitzvah boy now a young man, a first-time parent cradling a new life in their arms.

Yet the seconds all tick just the same. On the one hand, they advance us to new opportunities and much-anticipated occasions. While on the other, those same moments pass, never to return.

Beginning on Passover, we count 49 days of the Omer, commemorating the countdown (or countup) that the Jews did when traveling from Egypt to Sinai and the giving of the Torah. Each evening after nightfall, we count "Today is one day of the Omer", etc.

It is the only time during the year when each day has its own unique Mitzvah. Each day counted individually. Counting yesterday was great but does not fill today's need. 

The Omer count has a powerful message: Each and every day counts. Yesterday's failures do not limit me today. Yet today's successes don't allow me to ignore tomorrow. Every minute represents opportunity, every second has limitless possibilities to tap into.

Seize the moment. Turn a fleeting moment into a timeless one. Tackle a challenge. Hug a loved one. Mend a relationship. Make today shine bright!

Escaped!

The Seder was magical. A sold-out crowd of 50 had gathered, new and familiar faces, to celebrate the festival of freedom. Elegantly set tables, a delectable menu, authentic brick-oven baked Matzah, the atmosphere was one of liberty and freedom.

One of the themes of the Seder was to try and experience true personal Freedom. Overcoming whatever boundaries and shackles hold us back from achieving our personal goals and dreams.

In our quest to better relate to freedom, Devorah and I joined our family for one of the latest adventures to come to American shores; an Escape Room.

The carnival-themed room had a series of locks, keys, clues, and hints. The front door locks behind you until your team figures it all out. Entering into the brightly decorated fun zone, it seemed welcoming enough. Carnival games, a cotton candy machine, a mirror maze, we were transported to a wonderful place. But then there were treasure chests secured with locks, puzzles and cryptic messages on the walls, and the clock ticking down our allotted 60 minutes; we were stuck. As fun as the games were, we were not going to get out unless we buckled down and dealt wth our newfound reality; "imprisonment". Spoiler alert: we made it with 5 minutes and 38 seconds left.

After the thrill and adrenaline had worn off, I was thinking of how we can apply this to Pesach and to our quest for personal freedom.

The first step is to see through the distractions, the things that make it seem like we're in a great place, and identify what is holding us back.

Then get uncomfortable with that reality. When the Jews first came to Egypt, they had actually opted into serving pharaoh with promises of pay. Egypt was the superpower of it's time and the promise of a future there was enticing. The Jews had to arrive at a consciousness and mindfulness that this was not the life of their dreams.

It's only once we choose to reject the current state, that we have the ability and motivation to pursue and attain freedom.

On Sunday, April 23rd, we begin an exploration of this journey - From Egypt to Sinai. How do we shed a slave mentality and become royalty? How do we become the Chosen Nation? We will explore this based on the light of the Kaballah. Information below.

Wishing you a good Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Bush

Why is this email different than all other emails?

Passover. A wonderful time for family and community. We gather around the festive Seder table to relive the exodus out of Egypt.

And the highlight of the Seder is when the children ask the four questions.

We've heard them dozens of times, we sing the tune "Mah Nishtana - why is tonight different than all other nights?".

What, may I ask, are the answers to those questions? Now that's a good question. It seems like we set the stage for a dramatic scene, and then leave the show early. In the whole "shpiel" of the Haggadah (read at the Seder, retelling the story of Passover), we don't really address the questions directly. Why?

Passover is meant to be a night of questions. A night when curiosity and inquisitiveness are encouraged. When I was a child, my father would reward us for each question that we asked throughout the Seder. To set the tone, my mother would spin a walnut like a dreidel, inevitably eliciting the question "why are you doing that, Mom?" The answer? "So that you should ask questions."

Slaves are not allowed a mind of their own. They don't have free will. They don't have the luxury of asking questions. 

At the Seder, when we celebrate freedom and liberty, we highlight our ability to probe, to investigate, to explore. Not to simply take things at face value, but to do what Jews have done throughout the ages; challenge. Delve a little deeper, discover the "behind the scenes", revealing the beauty of our traditions.

If there's something you always wondered about, a particular tradition that never made sense to you, a Jewish custom that puzzled you, send those questions over and let's discuss. Perhaps there's a great answer, or maybe it's simply a great question.

This Passover, ask!

Wishing you and your family a happy and liberating Passover,
Rabbi Dovid and Devorah Bush

Help Needed on Aisle 13!

It's Matzah season.

Contrary to popular supermarket opinion, where they stock Matzah year round alongside the Manischewitz gefilte fish, Matzah is actually Passover thing.

But how would they know the "behind the scenes" of these crunchy crackers? The dramatic tale of the long-awaited exodus. How after 10 plagues battering the Egyptians, Pharaoh finally caved to the demand of "Let my People go". In their haste to leave, the dough the Jews were preparing did not have time to rise, and instead baked in the heat of the desert sun. Hence, the tradition of Matzah at the Passover seder.

Hang on a second! So what? So they ended up with a defective dough 3,329 years ago... Perhaps we should dress up in the same outfits they wore? Why did we zero in on the Matzah as a "keeper"?

So let's dive into the deeper dimension of the holiday. Where Passover isn't simply a tradition, but a personal journey. Each of us finds ourselves in one form of Egypt or another, shackled and constrained, prevented from realizing our dreams and aspirations.

How do we break out? How do we experience our own exodus? The answer is right there in the Kosher aisle. Matzah. Unlike the puffed up Challah that we eat year round, the matzah is thin and flat. Sometimes the greatest obstacle to our success, the very thing holding us back, is too much self. The ego can blind our vision and distort our senses. How can we truly achieve, if we can't see further than the end of our nose?

Along comes the Matzah with a message of humility. This is the key to escape our own Egypt. This leaves room for G-d's blessings to enter into our lives. We can join together with each other to form a powerful Jewish nation. When we are selfless, we don't lose our identity. On the contrary, we can finally discover who we truly are.

"Self-help needed on Aisle 13" ;-)

Happy New Month!

Happy New Month!

As the fledgling Jewish nation was gearing up for an epic exodus, they received their very firstMitzvah (commandment). That of the new moon. Over the course of the month, the moon transitions from a bright sphere to a crescent, finally disappearing, only to begin the cycle again. That moment of rebirth is the New Moon, and that day is the beginning of the Jewish month - in Hebrew; Rosh Chodesh.

The Jewish calendar follows a different course than the Gregorian calendar. The latter is a solar calendar, with solstices and equinoxes, while the former follows the lunar cycle.

The big question is why? "Why is this calendar different than all other calendars"? Why are we sent Googling when the next Jewish Holiday occurs? Why the confusion when it comes to Bar Mitzvahs and Yahrtzeits? (By the way, here is a handy tool to find out your 
Jewish birthday, the date of a yahrtzeit, or any other date on the calendar). And why was this Mitzvah #1? If you had one message for this young nation, would you choose Jewish astronomy?

Moon PhasesThe truth is, there is incredible beauty and inspiration in this. While the sun remains a constant source of light, the moon undergoes constant change; phases of growth, decline, disappearance and rebirth.

We navigate according to the moon, not impervious to lapses and failings, yet at the same time, inextinguishable. We have ups and downs, waxing and waning, but like the Moon, the Jewish people have always had the power of revival. In fact, our darkest moments become part of the fabric of our rich history. The trials and tribulations, the twists and turns and the challenges have built our nation's very character.

We celebrate the new month not when the moon is the brightest, but when it has just reappeared, when the potential for growth is greatest. 

As we set out into the Passover season to relive the journey out of Egypt, we can look to the moon and realize that we have the ability to constantly change, develop, and shine ever brighter. 

~ ~ ~

We invite you to relive the Passover experience at our Community Seder on April 10th. Or, if you know of someone who is in need of a Seder, please extend this invitation to them.
No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.
RSVP or sponsor a seat: 
www.JewishPetaluma.com/Seder

Wishing you a good Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Bush 

A Golden What?

Incredible party with friends and community! The concession stands buffet was a hit, Lou Seal was the star of the show, the kids got to make their very own sports graggers, and in true Purim spirit, bounced upside down on the moon bounce. The sports-themed caricatures were a crowd favorite, lots of gragger swinging at the 2 Megillah readings, and the Purim spirit was unmatched. Thank you to all who joined us to celebrate!
Check out the pictures below.

~ ~ ~

This week we read about the Golden Calf. A mere 40 days after they received the Torah at Sinai, amid miracles and revelations the likes of which we have not seen since, they build an idol. They had heard the Big 10 with their very own ears, "Do not have other gods", and just because Moshe was running (according to their calculations) a few hours late, they would go and risk the whole relationship?

The key here is not that they made such a grave error, but what they did following the realization that they had made a mistake.

We all make mistakes, it's part of being human. Why were we designed with this "flaw"? Why have ups and downs, successes and failures?

So we can grow. True growth does not come without challenges. When everything is perfect, it gives us a false sense of security. What were to happen if a storm (#Stella) would arrive? Is the foundation really strong enough to keep our building erect?

But when an individual, or the Jewish people as a whole - as in the story of the Golden Calf, resolves to rectify the situation, to turn disaster into opportunity, you come out stronger than ever before. And that pitfall is what was needed to catapult you to even greater heights. One step back, 2 steps forward.

It's the story of Purim. It's the story of our nation. Let's make it our story.

Wishing you a good Shabbos and Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Dovid Bush

Clock Change Musings

2:00am. And just like that, it's 3:00am (unless you live in Hawaii or Arizona).

Like a flick of a switch, reality can change instantly. Dark can become light, a telephone ring can be that long awaited business deal, or how about the magic of "will you marry me"?

The Holiday of Purim, (happening this Sunday - we hope you join us for an awesome celebration), is all about that inner clock change.

Things were not going well for our ancestors. Exiled to Persia, under the reign of Kind Achashverosh, who was receiving guidance from his wicked advisor, Haman. The decree looming in front of them, with the date of their annihilation fast approaching.

When did things change? What was the catalyst of their salvation? An inner clock change.

The Jews of Persia had all but given up. Far away from their homeland, the Holy Temple lying in ruins, they did not have the strength to fight, nor the will to maintain their Jewish identity. Invited to the royal feast, they took pleasure in finally blending in with the Persian nightlife. When Haman arrogantly commanded all to bow before him, there was nothing left in their fight tank.

That is, until Mordechai brazenly refused to bow or kneel. Suddenly, with newfound inspiration, their collective inner switch was activated. Their inner compass recalibrated. We have values that we must stand up for and traditions that we must uphold. No Haman can hold us back, and no Achashverosh can silence our Jewish pride. With this fortitude, Esther was able to enter the king's throne room unannounced and exonerate her nation. In the words of the megillah "v'nahafoch hu" - things were turned completely around. 

The message of Purim is clear: Jewish pride in the face of evil can go a long way. And when the going gets tough, remember that it can all change with click of a button - an inner clock change.

Wishing you a good Shabbos and the Happiest Purim!
Rabbi Dovid Bush

Fake News

With all the talk about fake news, it got me thinking. No, this isn't going to be yet another political rant. But let's talk about being fake.

Should we always express our true feelings? Should we always speak exactly what's on our mind? When we're not in the best space, should we display that to the world? How does "fake it till you make it" correlate with being authentic?

To explore this, let's travel to the desert, to the pop-up temple the Jews built. There, in the Holy of Holies - only the High Priest entered it, and only on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur - was one piece of furniture: The Ark.

The ark was essentially a golden box covered with 2 angel like cherubim. Inside were some of the most important Jewish artifacts, including the Tablets with the Ten Commandments, the very first Torah transcribed by Moses himself, and a portion of the Manna to be preserved for all generations.

Actually, the Ark was made of three boxes that fit into each other. The inner one was solid gold, the outer one was also pure gold, while the center was made of acacia wood. Why the wooden layer, if it was never to be seen?

We are made up of layers, much like the ark itself. Our innermost layer, the Soul, is perfect - pure gold. Then we have our conscious self, our feelings, emotions, and thoughts. This level may have a more natural, unfinished look. Finally, we have our outer layer, the way we connect to the rest of the world.

Should we put on a golden smile when inside we feel "wooden"? Is it hypocritical to act kind and loving when that might not reflect our inner emotions? Should we act calm when there is burning anger? Or should we let loose our genuine feelings?

The message of the ark is clear. Take positive action, and it will actually influence and transform the way you feel. When we act "golden" we create internal change.

So go ahead and smile and it will leave you in a better mood. Act calm, and feel the anger dissipate. Do an act of kindness and watch as you begin to feel empathy and love.

Because in truth, you aren’t really acting. Deep down, your inner self is pure gold. 

Wishing you a golden Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Bush

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