I started writing this post in my head at around four in the morning. I don’t necessarily recommend trying to get this way but sometimes, hyper happens.
Food becomes secondary. Sleep is interrupted by thoughts of things to do.
The reason for this is I am totally focused on the Chabad women’s convention, happening in Pittsburgh from December 12th to the 14th.
When the decision was made to host this convention, we Pittsburgh women knew we were already way behind schedule. As plans started getting underway, it was tempting to complain about how little time we had–six weeks to do what usually requires six months. But the ladies quickly rallied; we needed to channel our precious time and energy to get the job done, and of course, to make the planning a positive experience.
Especially because the theme of the convention is “Step into the Light.”
I am involved on way too many committees to be as effective as I’d like to be on any of them, but I’m trying. I am overwhelmed with the excitement of bonding with Jewish women who, each in her own way, is looking to make Moshiach more of a reality within her small world to help make it a reality in our big world.
That’s the whole purpose of this convention; of course, first we have to plan and promote so that women actually come, then we have to deliver an uplifting experience once they get here. Through inspiring learning. Through meaningful prayer. Through relaxing and eating really good food. Through laughing and sharing stories of our journeys. Through singing and dancing (you’ll know I have officially stepped into the light if I am singing and dancing).
This is the second Pittsburgh Chabad convention I’ve been involved with. I don’t remember many of the details from the last one in 1992, but I know that, for the last twenty-two years, whenever I try to imagine what it will feel like when Moshiach actually arrives, I try to remember the excitement I felt at that convention.
Just anticipating the excitement of convention brings that same excitement into reality even before the convention begins. As I joke with the ladies I’ve been working with, it’s okay if we step into the light before December 12th.
Being in this “enlightened” frame of mind, I was more inspired than usual by an experience I had last Shabbos when I “just happened” to look at a piece of paper that was folded in the back of the Book of Bereishis. It was a short insight into last week’s portion, Toldos.
First, I marveled at the fact that I opened this paper at the exact right week; after all, Toldos is the sixth of twelve portions in Bereishis.
And the words on the page were even more inspiring, especially in light of last week’s attacks in Jerusalem:
After Esau sells his first-born rights to his brother Jacob for a pot of lentils, Jacob then wishes to receive the first-born blessing from his father, Isaac. Disguised as Esau, Jacob approaches his blind father, who says to him, “the voice is the voice of Jacob but the hands are the hands of Esau.”
I then read that “the voice of Jacob” symbolizes the Jewish people’s Torah learning and prayer. When the voice of Jacob is strong, our Sages say, the “hands of Esau”– the threats of the enemies of the Jewish people–are powerless.
The reverse is true as well. Our spiritual weakness, G-d forbid, strengthens the power that the nations of the world have over us; it prolongs the time we remain in a world without the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, a world that conceals G-d’s presence and denies us the freedom to live fully-expressed Jewish lives.
In addition, our Sages say that unless a generation rebuilds the Temple, it is as if that generation continues to destroy it.
Reading those words made me think of the “voice” of Jewish women that, G-d willing, will be strengthened at our upcoming convention; I was filled with gratitude to be so involved in the “rebuilding.”
Which reminds me– it’s Thanksgiving, a day when we in America are especially grateful for the religious freedom to be able to do that.