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Sunday, 4 May 2014

Raising children in two faiths

Beitzah 35

Sally – or Shaindy, as she now prefers to be called – grew up in a religiously-confusing home.  While her mother is Jewish, making her 100% Jewish, her father is Christian.  I say religiously-confusing because her parents decided that they would bring up their kids with both religions and allow them to make their own choices which one they prefer.

Today, thank G-d, she’s very committed to her Judaism – she keeps Shabbos and kosher and makes blessings before and after she eats.   But there’s one thing she still struggles with – Xmas.

Actually, she doesn’t really struggle with it.  In her mind, she’s not actually celebrating the Christian holiday; she’s just spending time with her family.    What’s so wrong with that?

One must separate tithes from all produce that comes from the field.  Nevertheless, you are allowed to snack on produce that has not yet been gathered and tithed, since it is just a snack not an actual meal.

In order to eat produce from the field on Shabbos, it must be designated as ‘food’ before the holy day.  When one makes such a designation, it is deemed no longer mere produce; rather, it is now a meal, and you can no longer just call it a snack.   

By contrast, during the week, Rabbi Eliezer teaches that one may take a pile of unprocessed olives from the vat to snack on and whatever is left over, you can just return to the vat and there’s no need to worry about tithing.   In other words, on Shabbos, mere verbal designation completes the food preparation process, establishing its status as ‘food,’ whereas during the week “whenever you can return leftovers, the status is not established.”

Listen to Rabbi Eliezer’s holy words: Whenever you can return leftovers, the status is not established.

Many of us have made epic positive changes in our lives.  Take Shaindy, for example.  Here’s a young lady who truly turned her life around.  The beliefs that she was fed as a child were a befuddled, meaningless message of nonsense.   Obviously, you can’t believe in unity and trinity at the same time!

As a young adult, Shaindy seriously considered both religions and chose Judaism.  And once she had made her decision, she dove into it headfirst.  I can’t tell you how heartwarming it is to watch Shaindy lead our community by example.  Today she’s an observant Jew, committed to Torah and mitzvos and showing what real dedication to Judaism means.

Nevertheless, her annual Xmas celebration is a tad disconcerting.  Yes, I know that she feels it has no religious significance.  But “whenever you can return leftovers, the status is not established.”  Poor Shaindy has this one connection to her past that she just can’t seem to let go of.  And that’s a worry.

What’s the little thing in your past that you just can’t let go of?  What’s holding you back in establishing your new status?  What’s left over from a previous ‘incarnation,’ a ‘former life’ that’s keeping you from completely embracing your spirituality?

As long as you can return to what’s left over, you haven’t truly established your new status.  That doesn’t mean that G-d doesn’t value the awesome changes you’ve made in your life, He most certainly does.  But you know deep down that until you let go of the past, you cannot become a totally ‘new’ you.

We are all made up of all our life experiences, they are all integral to who we are.  The challenge is to choose which pieces of our past will be part of our future and which need to be overcome in order to achieve spiritual greatness!  

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