If not now when …

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G-d, please help me not to live my days thinking I am the poorest of the world while I was the richest one. Help me not to pronounce words thinking they’re the right ones while they were the wrongest of all. Help me not to struggle for planting seeds, for finding  one day their fruits are the bitterest ones.

Help me not to look ahead so sure of myself about the real goal, while that row was there only for testing me once more. Please help me not to look back after 100 years realizing the real worth of all things I fought  for was less than a pile of dust. Please help me not to understand when it is too late, how I should have lived my whole life in order to deserve to be called your son. Please help me not to find myself one far away day looking for the right answer to what it really means being a Jew. Make that, surrounded by my descendants when my hair color will be the sum of all colours, I can smile satisfied and proud of their names, of the festivals they will be respecting, of the Saturdays they’ll be observing. Help me  to do now what is right, to walk where it is right to go,  to say now what is fair to say, to think now what is right to think. Grant me enlightenment to forge a destiny I will be proud of. Do not make me belong to that category of human beings who  are able to understand only when things are done.

I entrust to you, angels who collect all prayers to make scores of human life to be brought before the King, you who gather the tears in large jugs to be placed on the scale with which G-d judges the world, to you who do not close your ears when the screams of the soul goes beyond the spiritual sound barrier, to you angels  I commend these words of mine.

And before the gates of Heaven close and You affix a seal to the envelope containing my new year, enlighten me G-d about the power of a single moment, the infinity of present, about the magic of good intentions and the ability of  a Jewish soul to transform a whole life in less than a second.

 

Gmar chatimà tovà,

may the envelope of each of us contain only good things.

Gheula Canarutto Nemni

 

A little little drop…

candle flameI’m here. Alone. Almost everything was destroyed by the war. I have nothing to do but wait. Hope. And, though opposite to my nature, pray. Silence is all round me. And seems to bear not so good news. Then suddenly I hear them. Steps on the ground. Songs. Happy and joyful exclamations to G-d. I would like so much to be part of this special moment. But I cannot move.
They could do it. The Maccabees won. That small and brave group of fighters could overcome the enemy. Those non Jews who wanted to destroy the Jewish nation physically annihilating it spiritually. They won against those people, part of their own nation, who saw in the Hellenization of their tradition, in assimilation and furthering from religion, a way for modernity and emancipation.
They could do it. And now they are celebrating. In their typical Jewish way of doing it. No heavy drinks or revenge shouting. Only run to the Sanctuary with one sole intention. To relight and give again life to that candelabra called Menorah which light is stronger than walls and barriers and arrives to make brighter the exterior world.
I can see them. Looking for a small bottle oil still sealed and pure. They could use the open one, they are in war after all. And there are special laws for these tough periods. But they don’t want. To compromise with Law. After all these fights against those who wished to erase their tradition, their Torah, their soul, they are not ready to loosen the rules. They fought until now for showing they do not want to bend G-d’s will to human comforts.
“Finally!” shouts a man while taking me in his hands and making me see the light after a long period during which I was hidden here. “A pure oil bottle!” And everyone runs towards us. They touch me, they turn me in their hands, they check me. And then they all agree. “It’s pure” they announce. They pour me drop by drop, paying attention not to waste anything of me, in the Menorah.
“It will last for only one day” they sadly say.
But G-d, who sits there above just waiting for a sign of love from one of His sons, is giving me life hour after hour.
“You are the flame of hope” whispers one of the Maccabees when he sees me still shining. “You are the symbol of the eternity of Judaism” says his brother drying the tears from his eyes.
After eight days my task in this world is coming to its end. I am going to extinguish and leaving the place to the new pure oil just produced.
While my flame is consuming its last dose of oxygen and air I want to thank G-d for this luck of mine. I was part of this story of a battle against evil won by good. I had the honor of bringing in the future centuries and years the Jewish hymn.
That reminds every day the power of a little little light. Able to fight the most mean and deep dark.

Happy Chanukà!
Gheula Canarutto Nemni

Will your grandchildren be Jewish?

Go around and look. For a logic reason for Jewish survival. Look for the explanation through the physical boundaries of a land that has been dreamt for thousands years but reached only some more than a half century ago. That land so yearned was a common denominator for Jews spread all around the world. But even without living there, even on the opposite sides of mountains and sea, even so far away, Jews could exist. That land explains partly the secret. But not all. Shift your attention on the Jewish culture. The way of writing, the ability of looking at the daily troubles with humor lenses, the courage of asking questions and trying to find a philosophical answer, the usage of musical notes to transmit hope. That culture was a common denominator for that nation which you could find in the four corners of the earth. But even those who did not know how to write a nice novel, to compose a touching melody, or repeat by heart Aristo’s quotes, could survive thorough time and pogroms. That culture explains only partially that above the nature phenomena. Pick up the Hebrew language. Its unique characters, its infinite combinations, its high diffusion among Jews, its being the Esperanto ancestor. Many Jewish families spoke this language. But, through history, many even did not. And though, even if they spoke Spanish and Ladino, Yiddish and French and could not understand the meaning of many Hebrew words in their prayer books, they were able to go on breathing through history and centuries. That language used to create the world can explain only a part of that irrational happening. Open and read. A research article conducted by Antony Gordon and Richard Horowitz a few years ago. In which they try to find an explanation for Jewish survival. Through statistics, numbers and graphics. In which they try to find out the secret combination, that magic common denominator that made the Jewish nation arrive until now despite all prognostics. In front of a big crowd, of intellectuals and professors, they stand on a Harvard podium and declare. That there is only one way for guaranteeing your grandchildren will be Jewish. And it consists in going on and teaching to respect Shabat, keep kosher, put on Tefilin. In one simple sentence, staying attached to mitzvoth. If you want to answer yes to this question, just rinse down your family ground with that gift given to Moses on Mount Sinai more than 3,300 years ago: the Torah.

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The miracle of love

Take a man and teach him. To put on tefilin. If you explained him well the incredible bond he will be able to create with G-d through these leather laces, you will have high probabilities, the next morning this person will put the tefilin without the necessity to be convinced anymore. Take a woman and transmit her. The secret staying behind a dancing flame of a shabat candle. If you will be patient enough to tell her about the infinite dose of light she will be able to bring in this world through a simple flame, you can be sure the next friday she will not need to be told twice. And she will use a match and a candle to add positive light. Take a child and try to describe him. The connection that exists between a biscuit and the faculty of a soul to perceive and serve G-d. If you will be a good teacher a non kosher cookie will never enter in that litttle mouth. Take a human being and force him. To love his fellow Jew as it was himself. To avoid doing others what he would not like people would do to him. If you’ll stay the whole night teaching him about the fundamental concept as love for a fellow Jew is. If you will dedicate him whole days telling him about what rabbi Akiva used to define a big rule of the Torah. If you will convince him that all the rest is only a comment, as Hillel did with that person who dreamt to become a Jew, than start to pray. And hope. That the effect of your words, the impact of your teachings, will last for more than two minutes. Because between 613 commandments that G-d gave to His children, there is one that does not involve hands, does not require a book, nor a kosher logo. It asks only that you, for a while, forget about your problems, your shopping, your wishes and dreams. And try to think with the head of somebody who is another one. But you. G- d knows its creatures, their defects, their limits, their nature. And this is why between the 613 commandments, there is such a thing that reminds it is a duty to love one’s fellow. It is not only a suggestion. It’s a mizvah. As eating kosher and respecting shabat. I know it is hard. Even Rabbi Akiva’s students did not have the strenght to fight against their egos. But the Torah asks to serve G-d with all yourself. And the minimum we can do is to start and try. To put aside for one minute our egos and needs and love our fellow as all his life was ours.

life cycle

I put away the Pesach plates. I wrapped the pots, closed the food processor box, folded the table cloth, sealed the carton. And that’s it. Another Pesach has gone. I sat on a chair before putting away the Pesach stuff and closed my eyes. In front of me the Pesach of last year. Its guests, its food, its smells, its end. And how I wondered, sitting in the same chair, how the next pesach would be. How would be my life after a whole year. I remember I whispered a prayer in my heart. Please G-d make the next Pesach be exactly like this year. Make that, when I open the boxes on the next spring season, I make it with a smile. Let me be nervous only about the big number of guests I need to cook for. And nothing else. I get up from the chair and I put the last piece of cellotape on the brown box. I tap the top of the carton and help to bring it to the garage where it will rest for the next eleven and half months. I open the door of my kitchen and remove the aluminium foil on the counters, the refrigerator, cupboards and walls. I let the last smell of Pesach freedom fly away in the air. Bringing in Heaven all my prayers and those of my beloved nation. Image

The taste of freedom

What is freedom? Asked themselves Jews the day in which they left Egypt. What are we going to be? Went on saying those who did not dare to ask themselves such questions little before. What is the taste of getting up in the morning not being forced by anybody to do things you don’t want to? Dared to think people who were still bearing on their bodies the signs of a cruel slavery. Freedom is to sacrifice the god of your oppressors to the true G- d answered Moses explaining the rules about the Passover lamb. You are going to stop being the slaves of men. In order to be free to be the slaves of G-d, went on to explain Moses. You will taste the real freedom since the exact instant in which you will be commanded to observe the sanctity of shabat, when you will not enjoy anymore the opportunity to eat any kind of meat you might like, with the duty to eat only unleavened food during the days of Passover. Time went by. New generations arrived. People who did not find satisfying answers for the questions they had. Is this real freedom? Ask themselves Jews everyday when coming back from an uninterrupted seven days of work. Is this my true identity? Go on saying people who are not used to ask themselves what is the real purpose for which G-d put them in this world. Is this the true taste of freedom? Dare to think some Jews challenging a world that thinks Divine rules are a limitation for human expression. Freedom is to be able to think as a Jew. And not as the world wants you to, answers Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Rebbe, whose main purpose in life was to save his brothers and sisters from having similar thoughts and life approach to all other nations on this earth. Freedom has the taste of kosher food. Of matzah, maror and charoset. Freedom lies her. In the daily strenght to eat unleavened food when all the world around you eats chocolate eggs. Freedom is to be able to sit at a seder table and to tell without shame and fear the story of the Exodus from Egypt for the hundredth and thousandth time to your children. Freedom is this. To raise your head when the world would like you to stay down and cry. And shout with all the air you have in your lounges: am Israel is still chai. We are still here, thanks to all Moses of each generation. And no evil, no assimilation will ever have the power to erase matzah from our seder table.

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