Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Day In The Life

8:18 AM - Up since 6:30. Thought about Modeh Ani today in light of recent reminders that not everyone gets a new day.  Davening just ended.  Class starts in twenty. Yesterday lingers: Sent in Dvar Torah for school's weekly (it's close to my heart, the first one I did for The Jewish Week, going back four (!?) years ago. Yesterday  a super good and frum student asked to have a chavrasah with me and we're moving ahead with it today. First period yesterday due to logistical issues our classroom was unusable and so was the shul and so was the Sefardic Bet Midrash so I taught my first period class in my office where I have seven chairs and plenty of space. The atmosphere was amazing.  They noticed that I had flowers - a Chanukah gift from over a week ago and they're still fresh! - one student said it was because of the good feeling (karma?) I create in the office, what a nice thing to say (and to hear).  I could write forever, or so it feels, but I need to step away from the computer for now, eat a quick bite and be in my classroom - as I aim to consistently do - before the students start coming in.

10:07 AM - First period felt good, thank G-d. Second was a guidace period.  Now there's a seven minute recess between 2 and 3,  In first we reviewed how Sefer Banidbar does up and down and up.  We're approaching the end of the ups. Some start Bamidbar with the downs, as per the saying that good news doesn't make for good news (I just made that saying up). We've learned about the ordering and counting and purifying of the camp; also we learned about the dedication of the Mishkan and how each nassi brought the same sacrifices and gifts in his own way - a deep, urgent, lesson.

Today we focused on the answer to one of my favorite Jewish "trivia" questions: From what holiday in the Torah do we learn that you're supposed to ask about a holiday thirty days before the chag? Pesach Sheini.  It also teaches us how we should yearn to do mitzvot and it should pain us when we miss the opportunity, and that often when we are passionate about it we will get the chance to do a mitzvah.

11:07 - Different class.  We discussed that each nassi brought the same gifts and sacrifices   The Torah repeats the same list of sacrifices twelve times, for each tribe.  The idea is that even though they brought the same offerings they each brought them with their own kavanah - intent.  So too we each do the same mitzvot - hopefully - in our own unique way.  I tied this in with the oft recited mishnah, "Rabbi Chananyah ben Akashia said that The Holy One blessed be He wanted to give the Jewish People merit so He gave them an abundance of mitzvot." The simple meaning of this is that we have a lot of mitzot so we can get a lot of reward for keeping them.  The conventional deeper explanation is that in order to give us extra credit Hashem made certain things mitzvot that we would have done anyway. What I really wanted my students to know was the Rambam. He says that because there are so many different mitzvot everyone is able to find one mitzvah to specialize in and call their own. Even if we can't bring our own unique passion and fervor to every mitzvah we should be able to find one that we can truly make ours.

4:07 PM - Met with a few students before their Israel interview/test.  Had lunch and learn with a student - Torah Guidance. He wanted to learn Rav Schwab on Prayer (a gift from his elementary school - Moriah) so we're using it as a springboard.  Met with a student who got a lower than usual grade on a test with me and went over the make-up work she did.  Touched base with a student I'm guidance counselor for: his question - can he get into honors in a good college without working hard or getting A grades...

5:32 PM - missed the 5:15 bus.  Came back to warm up. Aiming for the 5:45.  Speak to you from the other side of the bridge.

8:02 PM - Been home for a few minutes.  Catching my breath.

9:58 PM - Time is an amazing thing.  A fantastic social work teacher of mine - Elsbeth Couch - told me to make time my friend.

10:34 PM - The first prayer that Rav Schwab talks about in his sefer based on his talks called "Iyun Tefillah" is Adon Olam.  He stresses that a master and servant have a relationship. That's what adon and the word we use for G-d's name reminds us of.  He also notes that in Adon Olam we mention that Hashem is Keili, our own oersonal G-d.

I enjoyed that Rav Schwab's comments brought other ideas to mind.

Once there was a boy and his father was the only first grade Rebbe in town.  The boy was rambunctious and the father treated him fairly, kindly, yet firmly as he would any student.  At the end of the fist day of school when they crossed the threshold and walked out of school the father embraced his son. As a father he asked his son how the first day of school went.  The son said it went okay and then he asked if his father knew the Jewish Studies teacher.  The father said that he knew him very well.  The son asked if his dad could tell the Rebbe to go a little easier on him.

The Maggid of Dubno applies this story to Avinu Malkeinu.  As much as we acknowledge that G-d is our king and judge we as the father part of Hashem - so to speak - to talk to the king side and tell him to go easy on us.

I go to sleep saying goodnight and may G-d bless
knowing that what's to come is impossible to guess


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