Food for Thought Rosh Chodesh Society

Personal stories by members of the Toms River Rosh Chodesh Society. Feel free to share yours.

My day after the class

Hi Chanie,

Thanks for offering the Rosh Chodesh Society lesson today.  I was able to apply the principles of emotional mastery we studied immediately after leaving your house.  My fiance, Andy, called to ask that I come directly home because he lost his car key.  I was planning to run a few errands on my way home and felt inconvenienced since I had a plan of what I wanted to accomplish in my mind.  All the stops I had to make were on my route back to Bayville so I’d have to backtrack.  But I accepted the situation without agitation (step 1: restraint) and sought a purpose for the predicament (step 3: seek opportunity & purpose).  I moved in with Andy this past fall so I’m still getting used to living with someone and being “a couple.”  So I told myself that this was a good reminder that committed relationships require taking on another person’s problems as your own.

Turns out, Andy had lost his key somewhere in the Bayville ShopRite parking lot. Fortunately, he encountered a guy in a pick-up truck who agreed to give him a ride home.  So Andy was at home with no key and no car.  He had pretty much resigned himself to the fact that he’d have to go to the car dealer to get a new key. If no one had turned the key into the store’s customer service department, my afternoon would be shot by a trip to the car dealer.  But I kept reminding myself that there was nothing on my “to do” list that couldn’t wait till tomorrow (step 2: consider another perspective).

I got home to yet another opportunity to get upset.  Andy was on a conference call for work so I had to wait 20 minutes to discuss the matter with him.  I could have gotten really frustrated, especially since he left a greasy pan on the stove and dirty dishes in the sink.  But I occupied myself with email until he was off the phone (step 1: restraint).  Turns out, he had gone to ShopRite to buy me flowers (step 2: discovered a heartening piece of information).  As he was walking into the store, he discovered that his key was missing.  He searched high and low in the parking lot and never made it into the store.  He would have stopped somewhere for lunch on his way home from ShopRite but that plan was nixed when his key disappeared.  So he made himself lunch at home. The silver lining (in my perspective) to this part of the story is that Andy never made it to the burger joint as he originally intended. He had no choice but to fry up the grass-fed, organic ground beef patties from the freezer to satisfy his craving.  So rather than eat a burger made with beef of unknown origin with all the fixin’s, at least he consumed some higher quality meat without the unnecessary carbs and toppings.

We went back to the ShopRite parking lot to scope out the area around the car one more time.  Like before, the key was not in the car and no where in the vicinity.  Andy decided to check with the clerk in the liquor store to see if anyone had returned a car key.  No luck.  Then, he remembered that he had taken some garbage out of the car and wondered if maybe he had thrown his key in a trash barrel.  So we checked the two barrels closest to the liquor store entrance.  By this time, I had lost most hope.  He started walking toward a third trash barrel which was even further from the ShopRite entrance.  I said to me, “At this point, you’re grasping for straws.  Why would you walk out of your way to throw away the garbage?”  I had just gotten the words out of my mouth when he pulled his key out of the trash bag.  What a relief!  While I was using commonsense, Andy realized that he had walked from behind his car to the sidewalk and approached the less obvious trash barrel. 

I am so glad that we dealt with the situation calmly.  Had we not, Andy would not have collected all his thoughts and found the key.  While we will likely laugh about this day for many years to come, we did discuss the risk of losing a key. I wish we could say that we prayed to G-d and he answered our prayers.  But we didn’t.  However, we did take the opportunity to consider the practical lesson from the day and resolved to get a spare key just in case we ever really lose the original one.  :-)


I was angry at God

I was never 100 percent sure I wanted children. In fact, it wasn’t until trying to get pregnant became difficult that I decided, for certain, that I absolutely – without a doubt – was going to have a baby.

(If you know me, you might be thinking I felt that way because I don’t respond well to being told “no.” J ) You may be right.

 I got pregnant and it was a very difficult eight+months. Constant nausea. Non-stop dizziness. I had trouble sleeping and working. Couldn’t concentrate on anything. I developed an excruciating sciatic pain that kept me in the constant mode of choosing between the two horrendous evils I called “standing” and “sitting.” I was plagued by hypertension that required weekly doctor’s visits and way too many blood tests. At the end, I developed pre-eclamsia and needed to be induced with three weeks left to go. Three days of pitocin strapped to machines in a hospital bed. Nothing. She was comfy exactly where she was. Me, not so much. Finally, I had a C-Section at 12:07 a.m. on Jan. 1, 1998. Funny enough, the first words I heard from a nurse were, “Too late for the tax deduction!” I couldn’t win for losing. But, I had my baby girl.

I had never even planned on taking a maternity leave. I had chosen an infant day care center. But the bad news kept coming. Those first three months confirmed my wildest fears. I didn’t have what it took to handle motherhood. I knew something was wrong.  I couldn’t listen to the doctors. I knew they weren’t hearing what I was saying. Their answers by rote about spitting up and reflux and all the other nonsense tossed out at unsuspecting new moms didn’t fly with me.

 Fast forward through three months of non-stop vomiting, every baby formula on the planet, doctors visits and medicine … and a voice in my head that was growing louder by the day: Something wasn’t just wrong. SOMETHING WAS WRONG. VERY WRONG. It was then she was diagnosed “Failure to Thrive.” She weighed three pounds less at three months than she did at birth. Incidentally, even as I write “Failure to Thrive” I know it means “dying.”

 But I was like a dog with a bone. I wouldn’t give up. That instinct I never knew I had kicked in full force. We went to CHOP. I wouldn’t even except the appointment they gave me two weeks down the road. Once I decided we were going, we were going. After 10 days of testing we found out that she had an incredibly rare allergy. Nothing the most expensive nourishment in the world couldn’t handle. We fought the insurance companies. We prayed. A lot.

 I feel selfish to admit this now, but I mostly prayed for the personal strength to manage this ordeal. It was going to be at least 18 months, maybe more, of tube feeding and machines and nurses and stares from stupid people who were born without brain-to-mouth filters. I was forced to take time off work. Looking back, I know Hashem was with me every step of the way those 18 months because that much time away from work for me?  Well.. you have to really know me to understand.

 I was miserable. My baby was in constant pain. The financial pressure was enormous. I really didn’t think I had the patience to deal with any of it. And that’s when I realized, I didn’t. I didn’t have the patience to deal with this or anything else. Zero patience. I was an “I need it/want it yesterday” kind of woman.

 I spent all those months of pregnancy being mad at the world for being in constant discomfort. I felt my office couldn’t live without me for even three months for a maternity leave, much less more than a year. I was mad at Hashem for all of it.

 And, I’ve lived with that anger for 15 years. Until today.

 Today, I went to Chanie’s second Rosh Chodesh class in the “It’s About Time” series. The class was all about anger, how we deal with triggers and whether we act or react appropriately. We discussed the importance of taking a moment to think instead of reacting to things that might otherwise cause us to explode. We learned that feeling angry can be normal but there are inappropriate responses to it. Most importantly, we learned that every circumstance is a teaching moment. We say that to ourselves when we try to lead by example with our children. I desperately began thinking about how I could learn from anger – because, believe me, I get angry a lot.

 So, I drove home from the Chabad House today (after eating more than my share of Chanie’s freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, by the way – still angry at myself at that!) and was thinking about how I could apply the class to my own life. The entire ordeal I went through 15 years ago came into focus. It was a teaching moment that Hashem had clearly orchestrated. Of course.

 It took me way too long to get the message. But now it’s crystal clear to me.

 I learned patience. I learned to be calm in the face of adversity. I learned that “excruciating” sciatica pales in comparison to the pain one feels when watching her baby covered in tubes being fed by machines. I learned that if I wasn’t so fast to be angry, I would have be open to the possibility of “getting” the lesson learned far sooner. Might the teaching have stopped with the three day labor?  I also learned that, in the grand scheme of things, there is very little to be angry about when you have been blessed by Hashem with not one, but two, amazing children.

 Sure, even with this lesson now clear in my mind, I can’t say I won’t overreact to situations. In fact, as I am writing this, I just yelled at said 15-year-old to get out of my office while I’m “writing.”  LOL  (Yes, most of you know her. But, for those who don’t, that tiny sick baby is now a fantastically beautiful, intelligent, funny, outgoing healthy teenager.)

 But I’m amazed that Chanie’s Rosh Chodesh class is as powerful as it has been for me. After only two classes, I’m seeing myself in a whole new way. In fact, after I wrote this I showed it to a friend a couple of people from the class. They shared with me

 If you have read this and have been moved at all, I encourage you to attend the next class. It may or may not be life-changing. But, I guarantee it will force to you think and likely change your way of thinking and behavior – even if just a little bit.

 I want that for each and every one of you.

 -- Bari Faye Siegel

My Personal Victory

My name is Meryl/Miriam Butler. For those of you who know me, you know my journey has been a long one. For those of you who don’t know me, I found Chabad Toms River 9 years ago. I was born to Jewish parents, but along my road of life I chose to practice Christianity for 35 years.

There is much to tell about my journey, but for the moment this gives you a quick background of where I was before Chabad. I have returned fully and totally committed to my Yiddish-kite and my Judaism and my G-d and Torah. This remarkable turnaround of course was the hand of Hashem, but the instruments that were to bring this about is of course “Chabad Toms River.” For nine years Chanie and Rabbi and many others have worked tirelessly and patiently to show me the beauty of who I am and where I belong. And most of all they showed me the remarkable blueprint for our lives which of course is Torah.

Every Jewish woman’s birthright is the gift of Torah and learning, a gift that will carry you through your life for good times, bad times and in-between times. The classes that are given by Chanie are a true inspiration and stronghold to our lives as women on an everyday basis as we journey through Judaism. We can apply them to our daily lives every single day. Why do I say this? Because just recently I have another amazing story to share with my sisters who are all the women of Chabad Toms River.

I am speaking of the amazing gift we have been given, the “Rosh Chodesh Society Learning Series.” This series is given on a monthly basis, and the classes are inspiring, spiritual and have daily application to our lives, what more can one ask for?

Now I can begin my story:

When I was practicing as a Christian I was taught about salvation and eternal life, those are the cornerstones of that religion. I was programmed to believe that only the Messiah of their faith can give you that gift. I believe we all want eternal life and salvation. Without that hope, life could be very dark and frightening, I know it was for me though I don’t scare easily.

Climbing this mountain to let go of the remnants of my past life has been very difficult. This has always been on my mind and coming back to me on a regular basis. I have had many learning sessions with the Rabbi and Chanie but still and yet I could not let go of such an important part of those teachings. I was climbing a mountain but I was not getting to the top, I kept falling down in this area.

The excitement of the Rosh Chodesh Society brought about my miracle.

But before I share the miracle I want to say I was anticipating this class with bated breath. I was so happy and filled with such joy that Chabad could offer this wonderful opportunity to learn and grow with other women together and journey to amazing places. I truly believe G-d meets us when our hearts and minds are open to his Torah which is our Torah!

Here I was left with the remains of a past life and also some friends of my past life. Some of those friends were not really happy about my return to Judaism. So every chance they could get they would try to discuss matters of such importance as salvation and eternal life, which would confuse me. I would always run from that subject, I was unsure of how to respond as a Jewess. I would call the Rabbi for confidence and for peace of mind.

Along comes the class that I was had been anticipating called “The Kabbalah of Sleep.” I learned amazing lessons in that class about who we are to G-d and how G-d loves us and takes care of us daily and especially when we sleep.

What was so profound is that I learned that we have salvation on a daily basis, a renewal that happens at night when we sleep. G-d actually takes a part of our soul up to heaven and cleanses us. Imagine that, we have a new beginning daily, we are born again on a daily basis, and have salvation with G-d as a Jew, every single day!

Well, the next time my so-called-friends called me, I was prepared. I told them what I had learned, that as a Jewess, I was granted salvation from G-d every single day, I was not confused, I was clear, and I was proud! They had no response, and they will never bring it up again.

This was just the first class of the series, imagine what the rest will bring. I just cannot wait to see, I am inspired and hungry to learn more. This can happen to you as well, Join our Rosh Chodesh Society and you too will be inspired. It is a gift waiting to be unwrapped and what you will find inside will change your life. Chanie puts an enormous amount of energy and wisdom into the teachings. This is my story which is just a small snippet of what is to come.

Come aboard with us and you too will have more energy, more joy and closeness to Torah and G-d that you never knew you had. I hope to see you at our classes. A time to learn and share and uplift one another, what could be better?

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.