To my dear family, friends and supporters,
I would like to give shevach v’hoidaa (praise and thanks) to Hakadosh Baruch Hu (G-d) for being able to write to all of you.
It means I am somewhat functioning.
I am serious. These days, I just want to lie on the couch and do nothing and maybe, if I am inclined to do so, lift an arm to reach out for a cookie which would be right nearby. Homemade only.
Did you want a homemade cookie? I make good ones. The oatmeal is exceptional, the mandelbroidt with the chocolate center goes well with coffee. And I thought I would get through this letter without mentioning “coffee” even once. And the Austrian cookies passed along to me from my Aunt Elly. You have never had a cookie like that in your life. You think maybe I should try baking the thin crunchy chocolate chip ones today?
Where was I? Yes, inspiration.
It has been an overwhelming year for all of us – an understatement.
Just know we are wonderfully human and Hashem recognizes that.
If you would ask me how do I know, it is a feeling I have, so strong and with such surety.
Did you ever sit on the grass and watch a bug crawling through?
It stumbles. It lays there stunned. Then it flips and stands there a second and continues to move and move. Spears of grass tower over it. It circumvents and continues doggedly.
Did you ever watch birds dip and fly overhead, really watch them?
I am blessed with friends who have all their five senses, many of whom are dealing with such overwhelming challenges. We have to create our own wings because if we do not, how will we fly? We have got to soar yet hold on really tight, to our faith, our belief in G-d and ourselves and in our capacity to overcome and accomplish.
Shabbos afternoon on my beach chair in the backyard, peanuts, Clementine oranges and newspapers strewn all over. The same two birds dashing madly back and forth. Poking in the ground. Flitting among the trees. Circling. Dipping. Strutting. One plucked a flower right in front of my eyes, the other snatched up a leaf. They hopped closer and closer, beads of eyes fixed on me. I did not dare breathe. The wonder of it all. Birds with flowers and leaves doing a dance …
Of grace and joy weaving a pattern through the air with the marble blue sky as the backdrop to this living, breathing painting brush-stroked by G-d.
How do we get rid of the fear and the worry and the wondering?
How do we make rock solid faith a part of us like breathing?
Are you asking me? What do I know?
I really surprise myself sometimes.
We bought a new building for the yeshiva in January, for these boys who don’t hear who finally have a place to call HOME. Yep, just like that. A building. I mean like, hi, we have a building now, pinch me.
This was made possible by a group of Toronto askanim with huge hearts, far reaching vision and a thirst for the eternal.
Need I explain what it is like taking on a building?
With zero experience. (Um Sir? This is not a parking lot for the public)
You want to …what? Oh. No. No! You cannot place your garbage here or there or anywhere.
You want to … borrow … um No? …
Is there a reason why I just got a migraine?
Checking in with contractors daily. Dealing with the masks (may I remind you that I rely heavily on lipreading?)
Coaxing the city engineer to sign off on the plumbing sooner rather than later.
Being told that the walls have to be completely redone because of fire code. Okay.
Another $45,000. So not a big deal. Really. Pennies. Feeble chuckle.
And the wiring. Redone. Because we don’t want to blow up the building if two boys decide to use a microwave and a toaster at the same time, do we?
But something strange happened.
The very building consuming my hours is the very structure that is giving me life.
One week when things were particularly challenging, I walked over to the building and stood there in the middle of the empty Beis Medrash. And closed my eyes and took it all in. And had a startling realization.
The scent of Torah … is the same … everywhere.
It is hard to describe. You just sense it and feel it.
Life is a paradox – the greatest source of frustration can be the greatest source of joy.
Raising a child.
Forcing yourself to get your sneakers on to take the walk that will infuse you with renewed mental clarity to get through the day.
Undertaking a tedious or over whelming task (like fundraising).
Inertia is dangerous. Comforting yet dangerous. There is a time and place for everything.
Move. Even over the coffee. Sit. Focus. Sip. Find relief in the moment.
A boy in the yeshiva broke his arm. The Rosh Yeshiva (head of yeshiva) took him to the ER. The gauze needed to be cut off the cast a few days later so of course there I am, on my porch, snipping off the gauze, the kid says, I am happy I broke my arm.
I say, what did you say?
I am so happy I broke my arm because now I know I really love Rabbi Kakon.
Hmm, I say vaguely. Sharp scissors and skinny fingers sticking out from the gauze require FOCUS.
‘Cuz the Rosh Yeshiva came with me and stayed the whooole night and took care of me and I just LOVE Rabbi Kakon and if I didn’t break my arm, I would not have thought about how much he does for me.
He beams at me, this boy of 14 who threw himself on the floor when he was 11 years old and screamed, I wanna go to yeshiva with my brother. He gave us such a hard time that first year.
I melt in his smile. And see the light of joy and Torah in his eyes, those black eyes reflecting his Sefardic heritage.
I balked at the idea of a campaign. Online? Too much.
The building committee and I compromised. No teams, phone calls or pressure. Okay, a little pressure. Maybe some calls from yours truly. It’ll be fun! Cookies, anyone?
I usually write and leave it at that. People donate if they are in the mood or feel inspired or feel really sorry for me.
This is one time when I am asking you to make this appeal go around the world.
It is all mathematics and miracles.
If 500 people forward this to another 10 people each for a total of 5,000 and each of those forward again we can raise over a million dollars in a mere few weeks.
This is where donations would go –
Yes, the fire walls. Very good!
And the security system and the computer and speech therapy rooms.
And my husband’s office (The Rosh Yeshiva never had his own office at Nefesh Dovid – don’t you think he deserves one?)
And the laundry room and the kitchen and the bike rack and the Smart Boards and the remainder of the mortgage which would be AWESOME!
And the painting and the wiring and the tiles and the washing cups and the mezuzos and the beds and the furniture and the lounge room.
Every dollar is a link to eternity. Every one of you has the power to overcome inertia and make this successful – to change the face of Jewry in a way never done before.
Think of these boys living with hearing loss who refuse to give up and are keeping the spark of Torah alive. Think of the Satmar boy who lost his mother but remains staunchly determined to succeed. The Israeli boys worried about their families back home yet never stop smiling. The boy from the little village in France. The tough yet doll of a Brooklynite. The silent, intense kid from Queens and … the boy who loves Rabbi Kakon so much and by telling me so, gave me the chiyus (life) to continue this even during the most challenging times. The kids who will bring Moshiach as Rabbi Abuchatzeira told my husband once …
I cannot do this alone. I need you. Every single one of you. We just stood at Har Sinai, accepted the Torah as one person with one heart. Would this have happened without even one soul present? You are that soul. Do not underestimate the power of YOU, the power of your soul, the power of ONE. And ONE plus ONE.
Take the numbers and make miracles. Do the math. For me. For the boys. For yourself.
Click on the link – www.nefeshdovid.com for donation/dedication choices
Now about those cookies …
Proprietor, The Fresh Corner
Certified Viktor Frankl Life Coach
Whatsapp/Text/Face Time 647.204.4601
Feel free to reach out, offer help or for any questions or concerns.
In honour of my family for standing by me through thick and thin