Remembering Miriam and what Happened to Her

A Rose for Rememberance

 

Sharing a thought on Shmirat HaLashon, guarding our tongues, as a series of posts that I call “Words of Prayer, Words of Kindness”

Thought inspired from remembering Miriam

We are commanded to remember the following verse as one of six daily remembrances: “Remember what Hashem your G-d, did to Miriam on the way, when you were leaving Egypt”. (Devarim 24:9) This verse reminds us that when on our journey in the Midbar (desert), there was an occasion that Miriam criticized her brother Moshe Rabeinu (Moses our teacher) to her brother Aharon HaCohen. The result was immediate punishment from Hashem in the form of Tzara’as over her whole body, indicating the extent to which Hashem dislikes evil speech.

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Our Preparations for Mandela Day

An Image of Nelson Mandela for Mandela DayDid you know about Mandela Day? It is interesting to have a day to commemorate Nelson Mandela. It does not fall on the day of his leaving this world for the day began when Mandela was still alive. Mandela day falls on his birthday, the 18th of July. The significance of this day lies in what Mandela strove to achieve.

There are a few powerful statements that Mandela made which are very inspiring. Here is one of them: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela

Remembering Experiences Related to Mandela

I am not sure when I first heard of Nelson Mandela but I became aware of the world’s interest in him when I was in the UK after high school. I had gone into the South Africa House on Trafalgar Square in London for something and could not help but notice some students standing outside. When I came out again, I stopped to find out what their protest was about. They were campaigning to free Mandela!

I asked them if they knew who Mandela was and what they knew about South Africa. No, none of them had been to South Africa, none of them really knew much about Mandela either. They just knew that he was in prison and were staging a protest for his release. As to their knowledge of South Africa, one student described South Africa as having lions that roam around the streets.

I smiled and let them know that I had lived in South Africa for many years and although I had met some impressive people and I had seen lions in game parks, I had not seen any lions roaming down any of the streets.

Some compare Nelson Mandela to a lion. He had an incredible inner strength and a vision of a world with unity and where children are assisted to achieve and to contribute to the world. He had many positive messages that he left the world.

Our Preparation for Mandela Day

Why do I share these thoughts now, nearly two weeks before Mandela Day? Well, we are preparing a special article to share on Mandela Day.  Typing this article filled me with inspiration. As a result I have requested more stories of this nature to be written as well. I am so looking forward to sharing more about the development of this and other books. They are of course written by one of my most inspiring teachers, none other than Rosemary Kahn.

So mark your calendars and visit this blog on Mandela Day. We have a wonderful story to share with you and we aim to add this to a collection of stories. There are plenty more where it came from, so stay tuned for a book in the making. The next in the collection of books written by Rosemary Kahn, one of my favourite authors.

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A Lesson in Kindness

Circling the world with words: "We can change the world with Kindness"

My great-grandmother used to teach: “Do good and be good!” – a teaching that filtered down through her daughter to her granddaughter; and her great-granddaughter after her. This provided an unbroken chain on the importance of spreading goodness and kindness wherever and whenever possible. Where did she get this teaching from?

She was the granddaughter of a great rabbi in Dublin who taught the importance of bestowing kindness to our fellow Jew – a teaching that comes from none other than Avraham Avinu, our patriarch and Sarah Imanu, our matriarch. All of this might seem like interesting concepts. Nice ideas. The right thing to do when presented with a situation that someone needs help.

When one is on the receiving end of needing help, it makes one realise just how special this quality is and what extent of sensitivity can help to ease the pain of a fellow Jew or human being.

Just recently I found myself in a position of need, when unforeseen circumstances resulted in my spending a short period of time in hospital, followed by several days unable to take care of certain basic necessities. Feeling dreadful, I reached for the phone to call a friend to ask that she pray for my speedy recovery. Being new in the area I live in, I did not yet have a support system of anyone to ask to help prepare food for Shabbat, to give advice as to the best doctor to go to, to give my husband and me some support.

I thought I wanted my friend to pray for my recovery, but Hashem (G-d) heard my silent cry for help and set up everything that I should receive just that. Instead of talking to my friend, I found myself talking to her mother, who immediately said she knew just the person to help. She made a call and very shortly my whole situation changed. Yes I still had to go to doctors, yes I still had to recover and deal with the pain but over the next few days, it became very evident how G-d was directing things. From not knowing anyone in our area, suddenly through an interesting turn of events, I was put in touch with a very caring person and before I knew it, a support system had been established. Having no appetite and unable to stand for long, I had no idea how I would cook for my husband. This problem dissolved as I was sent one thoughtful and caring Jew after another.

Of all of the new friends, one stands out as a model of how to offer help to your fellow Jew. This wonderful woman called and introduced herself, saying who had given her my name. She then said: “I understand something not so nice happened to you, how can I help?” There were no questions, no lectures. She had no need to know any details. All that mattered was what were the needs of the person she was about to help – in this case, me.

When I began to tell her, she listened and offered to come over with a meal. I expected some soup, enough for 2 for one meal or something simple. How pleasantly surprised we were to discover soup, chicken and vegetables enough to be heated up for a few meals.

When bringing the food, she came in and visited me for a while. When I mentioned I needed a certain type doctor in our area, she did not just give a name and say, “now call him yourself!” Rather, she realized that I was a little confused and so she asked for my phone and called herself. She insisted I have the soonest appointment they could give me and made sure all the details were written down for me, including showing me on the map how to get there.

Each time she called, it was like a breath of fresh air. It is so easy when wanting to help another to reach out with a hidden agenda. So often the story of what another is going through is interesting. We want to know. We want to give our views and opinions. We want to tell others not to question, to have faith etc, etc. When one is ill though, it is not easy to talk too much. Not everyone wants to talk about what is happening. Sometimes we just need practical help and wait and long for the person phoning, visiting or showing they care to stop long enough to listen to our needs. Perhaps we need a meal cooked, an errand run. Perhaps we need help with some household task or information about a doctor. Sometimes we just need someone to be there.

This is exactly how this special Jewish woman behaved. No lectures, no digging for information, no projecting her views, needs or perspective. She put aside who she was and where she was coming from, and was just there for the other; available for what was needed and prepared to call others to do what she could not do herself.

What a beautiful lesson she taught, an obvious messenger sent by G-d. If we can all emulate this kind of consideration for another, we will make our forefather Avraham very proud of us. Not to mention the Nachas to Hashem or the obvious relief of pain by sharing with another in a manner that meets their needs and not our own hidden agenda.

As it is brought down in Likutey Moharan I:34 “In every Jew there is something precious, a virtue not found in his friend … with this he can inspire his friend to Avodas Hashem. His friend must acknowledge and accept this good point, as it is written of the angels, “They receive each from the other.” (Targum on Isaiah 6:3)

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Inspiring Change Thanks to A Creative and Caring Teacher

woman supporting learning

Many people ask me what kind of role can an OT possibly have for orphans. There is quite a bit of similarity between many orphans and underprivileged children. In fact, many from poor homes are orphans from one or both parents. To begin to explain the kinds of needs that those from less fortunate homes might experience, I have decided to begin sharing some experiences and meaningful videos. In this case, we are looking at children in the education system and how their home life impacts on their learning experience.

My mother used to work for a Feeding Scheme that enabled hundreds of thousands of hungry children to have food at the start of the day. They even continued to have vegetable gardens at many of the schools. The motto of this organization was: “You Can’t Feed a Hungry Child!” I learned a lot about this population through the work my mother was involved in as well as my own work experience. As a result, I understand exactly what teacher Mr Bonner says when he describes the challenge he faces in the school where he teaches.

Take a look at his creative and innovative way to help to inspire these children to learn. I’d love to hear how these children obtained the nutrition to concentrate and learn effectively, but the video below is very inspiring anyway.

Of course, we have to thank Ellen from The Ellen Show for her appreciation of teachers and all that she does to assist in uplifting those in need wherever she can.

What would you do to help inspire hungry children?

This post is prepared for you by

Shoshanah Shear, Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, certified Kallah teacher, working privately in Jerusalem. Shoshanah is also a freelance writer and co-author of “Tuvia Finds His Freedom” and author of “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story

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Appropriate Focus For Every Day

Secretary

 

In the previous post, Positive Approach Through Life,  I shared a poem that my late grandmother loved to recite. She often taught her children (and grandchildren) deep and beautiful teachings through an appropriate poem. Here is another poem with a powerful messages.

The Difference:

I got up early one morning
and rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish
that I didn’t have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me,
and heavier came each task.
“Why doesn’t G-d help me?” I wondered.
He answered, “You didn’t ask.”

I wanted to see joy and beauty,
but the day toiled on, gray and bleak;
I wondered why God didn’t show me.
He said, “But you didn’t seek.”

I tried to come into G-d’s presence,
I used all my keys at the lock.
G-d gently and lovingly chided,
“My child, you didn’t knock.”

I woke up early this morning
and paused before entering the day;
I had so much to accomplish
that I had to take time to pray.

~ author  Grace L Naessens.

So often in the modern, hurried life we live in, we rush about our days, trying to cram every moment with all manner of activities. The truth is, if we would just stop for a moment and ask the Creator of All to Guide and Bless our day, we would have far more chance of real success.

May each of you take the time to talk to Hashem (G-d) from the heart, in your own words. Let Him know what you are going through, how you feel, what you want to achieve. Whatever is on your mind or sitting on your heart, pour it out to Hashem. May you be blessed with Hashem answering your prayers immediately for the good, a good that is revealed, visible and manifest in all physical and spiritual matters.

This post is prepared for you by

Shoshanah Shear, Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of “Tuvia Finds His Freedom” and author of “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story

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Positive Approach Through Life

Traveling a Path

I have mentioned some lessons learned from my maternal grandfather in a number of posts and also in my book, “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story. I learned a lot from my maternal grandmother too. My grandmother, loved to share poems and songs. One of her poems that has made a very great impression is:

“I shall pass by this way but once

 Therefore any goodness that I can do
 

 Or any kindness that I can show

Let me do it now.

 For I shall not walk this way again” ~ Anonymous
What kind of lessons have you learned from your parents and grandparents? Do you try to use them in a positive way in order to increase goodness and kindness in the world? Do they give you motivation to strive to fulfill your potential?
The above poem has given me insight and direction. I’d love to hear what your favourite life lesson is or poem. Do share how it has shaped your thinking or outlook in life.

This post is prepared for you by

Shoshanah Shear, Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of “Tuvia Finds His Freedom” and author of “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story

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Honouring a Special Lady – Irena Sendler

Photographed by Mariusz Kubik

When receiving forwarded emails, sadly one often has to either ignore them or verify their facts. Recently, I received an email, notifying me of Irene Sendler who had died on 12 May 2008 at the age of 98 years. The brief information about her was very touching.

Aware that some stories about the Holocaust are sadly not true or are variations of the truth, I decided to do a search. Wikipedia has some very moving information about a woman who took her profession seriously.

Trained as a social worker, this woman was dedicated to her work in helping others. Since a picture is worth a 1000 words, take a look for yourself at one of these YouTube clips about this inspiring lady, Irena Sendler.

To what lengths would you be prepared to go to assist someone in need? Would you help another to the same extent as Irena was able to?

 

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Gathering Strength from Nature

There are times that life gets tough, boring, challenging, hard in every respect. What can we do to keep our spirits up and maintain that confidence that everything is good and for the good?

That is when I love to turn to nature. For nature provides us with a reminder that the One who Created it is filled with compassion. It must be. One can one create such beauty when you are feeling any kind of negative emotion. Just when things seem the most challenging, nature provides us with beautiful pictures.

There are those who care

There is always someone there.

Even when we can’t quite see it, sometimes we just need to turn a little, or around.

But nature certainly shows us that love is to be found.

From the love of dolphins

To those so different to us

To the beautiful swans who show us

That we don’t need to fuss.

The One who Created all of this, is always to be found

Even when He sits so high, far from our ground.

So let these pictures comfort you

For honestly it is true.

Life is filled with beauty and kindness

It is for us to embrace the Oneness

For within nature is the greatest love

Smiling down on you from the One above.

We hope these images bring you much peace, joy and love!

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6 Lessons Learned from a Master of Martial Arts

Someone doing martial arts outdoors
Someone doing martial arts outdoors.

We live near a very beautiful park and there is always much to see when out on our morning walk. Many enjoy to come and do their exercise routine in the park. This can be a gym routine on the exercise equipment, it can be yoga, stretching, walking or running. Then there are those who come to the park to complete their daily martial arts. The most usual martial arts we see is Tai Chi and there is something quite distinct about those who do Tai Chi in the park.

A few days ago, someone strode passed us on his way to find his exercise spot. This person was different from the others. As we completed our circuits of brisk walking, I could not help but take note of a number of lessons learned over about 10 – 15 minutes. I do believe the lessons are transferrable to many areas of life.

1) Dress the part

The first impression and lesson learned from the master of martial arts is how he dressed to do a session in martial arts. He had his Gi or white martial arts suit on together with an appropriate belt which let us know he was a master and a few badges. It made an immediate impression and quite a contrast to many who might begin their exercise routine as though they were going out shopping, out with a friend or just enjoying the day. What we wear gives an impression to others and to ourselves about who we are and what the next set period of time is about

2) Set a Goal

The martial arts expert had a definite goal which was very evident in the items he carried with him and how he approached the place he selected for his time doing his martial art.

3) Confidence

The martial arts expert exhumed confidence. The way he walked, the way he held the items he had with him, how he carried himself made it very evident that this was someone who was confident about who he is, what he was about to do and his ability to carryout the exercise he was about to engage in. Being confident is important in all areas of our lives and is a quality that definitely improves with training and experience.

4) Centering / Balance

The first detail to catch my attention was the stance of the Martial Arts expert when starting his initial standing position. Seeing the master get into position left a very strong impression. There is something very striking about a master of martial arts when he takes up his stance; totally centred with absolute balance. It was very evident that not much would sway him, push him over or distract him from his stance and his goal / focus. The impression is not easy to capture in words but the contrast between the master and the others who come to the park to practice their martial arts was very evident just in this one position.

It makes one realize the power of setting a goal that one focuses on with full concentration and dedication. It also drove home the message of the importance of getting one’s being, one’s whole body to be united, centred and calm. For anyone wanting to know what being relaxed and focused looks like, I recommend watching a master of martial arts prepare to do a martial arts routine.

5) Preparation

The martial arts expert came prepared and ready to prepare. As already mentioned he came dressed the part which required preparing ahead of time. He brought with him the equipment or materials he would be using, it looked like he would be either practicing or teaching use of weapons. He also spent quite some time in preparing himself prior to doing any routine. There was no rushing into his exercise. I did not time how long his preparation took, but clearly, success in martial arts requires setting aside time for preparation.

What a wonderful lesson for life. Preparing for any task gives one the potential to be successful far more than just rushing into a task. It is also possible to be calm and confident about what one is about to do when you have taken the trouble to prepare effectively.

6) Pace yourself

While we completed our circuits of brisk walking, the martial arts expert began with his standing position and then moved on to some meditation while sitting before beginning the next stage of his process. Each aspect of the routine that he was involved in had a set time and steady pace.

The result from the preparation, pacing, concentration and balance was very evident in beautiful controlled movements that were smooth, focused with direction and confidence.

These were the lessons learned while observing the master of martial arts while we completed a few circuits in the park. At this stage, we had completed our morning exercise routine and it was time to move on to our next task and venue for the day. I have no doubt that had I stayed to observe for longer that I would have gained many more lessons. We may have only seen the martial arts expert for about 10 – 15 minutes, but the experience left an indelible impression and clear lessons that can be taken into any life experience.

 

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7 Lessons Learned from Popcorn

Bowl of Popcorn
Bowl of Popcorn

Every item, object, plant, animal or person has a purpose. We have the ability to take any event or item and elevate it by contemplating the lessons one can learn or what positive purpose that item has in this world. Let us take popcorn as an example. Popcorn is actually quite an amazing food product.

1) Popcorn is quite versatile, add a little salt and you have something savoury, add some sugar or sweetening and you have a sweet treat. String some thread through it or add a bit of food colouring and you can have a decorative treat too.

2) Have you noticed the wonderful variety of shapes with each popped corn? Each one is different. I am not sure if anyone has photographed popcorn and compared the shapes to the next batch, but in every pot, bowl or box of popcorn every one is unique. If we stop and think about this. Every person is unique too. More than this, there is an abundance in this world. Just look at the variety of shapes in each popcorn! To me this makes me stop and think there must be a Creator to this world. Let’s look at a few more examples as to why there must be a Creator and what we can learn about our Creator.

3) Looking at popcorn, I’d say our Creator must be filled with kindness. Imagine, you can have a dried cob filled with corn that has gone hard and yet, it is not a waste! Take those hard seeds, place them in a pot with a little oil and some heat and in a short time the corn will have transformed from a hard seed that could break your teeth to something that is soft, versatile, tasty and even nutritious. It’s low in calories, high in fibre and contains beneficial anti-oxidants. Isn’t that great kindness to us. On top of that, everyone, from the age that they are old enough to eat it, likes popcorn.

4) Popcorn gives us hope and inspiration for our potential to grow and develop. Think about it for a bit. Popcorn undergoes a total transformation once placed in a pot with a little oil and heat. If that is the good that can come out of a few hard seeds, think about the potential for every person who is filled with far more than the hard seeds are. If we apply ourselves correctly, we too can grow, change and develop to become who we are supposed to be and give goodness and happiness to the world.

5) Popcorn is quite magical and gives excitement to others. Once again I regard this as a kindness from our Creator. Mostly popcorn is yellow. We already mentioned the transformation of shape that takes place, but popcorn changes it’s colour too and becomes a fluffy white that can accept any other colour when the food colouring mentioned above is applied.

6) Popcorn is such a gift. It makes watching a movie or attending a party so much more fun. For those who love popcorn at the movies, doesn’t it provide the perfect way to occupy your hands and mouth while you settle into the idea of the movie? By the time you have finished your popcorn, you are absorbed into the story-line and able to concentrate despite sitting still for a long time.

7) Personally, I think popcorn is one of those items that proves there must be a Creator. What scientist or other person would be able to come up with an item that has so much that it offers. Who would be able to make such a total transformation in terms of consistency, shape, colour, texture and to come out with variety, positive lessons and nourishment too?

Next time you enjoy your popcorn, consider all the wonderful lessons that simple popcorn offers. What a wonderful way to elevate your healthy snack and use that time for good. Let the food for thought fill you with inspiration and motivation to apply your skills to something positive and productive.

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