Tuesday, April 4

Hey, Anyone got Some Change?

Human Before Jewish gave me an idea from her outstanding blog; before Pesach I will clean out my soul and try to go back to my spiritual journey. That's right boys and girls, it's time to get 'happy clappy' with Kasamba! But you know what, I am totally unqualified to write about growing spiritually. I might as well hang up my computer and clear off some desk space for housewifely knick-knacks. Then again, maybe not...

The only thing I know is what I’ve experienced and what I am experiencing. I feel as if I started a journey seven years ago and it’s been a bumpy ride. I still have a really long way to go, but if I look at all the miles I’ve already covered, I know I will continue. I was brought up FFB (Frum From Birth) only to become FFH (Frum From Habit) somewhere along the way. It took a friend’s near death experience to shake me and wake me up from my spiritual inertia. I think that makes me sort of a BT (Baal Teshuva) who is trying to rack up divine FFP (Frequent Flyer Points). The funny thing is, that every time I think I’ve reached the pinnacle of what I consider to be really frum and saintly, they go ahead and raise the bar. So I end up feeling like a tzadekes for a grand total of two minutes.

Never mind, I’ve now resigned myself that I am somewhere firmly in the middle and I will always have to reach higher, but every day that I am alive affords me that opportunity.

When I finally set down the mundane and routine, I remember looking around at the world anew. I was so full of appreciation to the Creator for saving my friend from the clutches of death, that it was all I could do not to celebrate in the street. The world for me had transformed into a wonderland, a place incandescent with Hashem’s spirit. I felt as if everything around me was shimmering, waiting for me to notice it. It was only later that I learned that that is one of the first phases of spiritual awakening. Meanwhile, my husband still wanted supper, and my kids still needed laundry doing, while Mummy was busy gazing at nature.

Didn’t they ever look at a tree? I mean, really look? Needless to say, the suppers still needed cooking, laundry still needed to be laundered, which I did end up doing, albeit with the zombie like countenance of a Hari Krishna. In retrospect, I really have to hand it to my family for putting up with me during my initial burst of enlightenment, and not just locking me in the shed.

Then, to make a long story short, I got involved with the JLE (Jewish Learning Exchange, part of Ohr Sameach) tutoring every Tuesday night. The subject that I would teach would be chosen by the learner. Horror upon horrors, the Baalas Teshuva that I was teaching asked me to teach Hilchos Shabbos. Hey, I keep Shabbos, so that shouldn’t have been a problem, right? Wrong. You see, there was this tiny eency weency thing that I did every Shabbos that meant that …. I really wasn’t keeping Shabbos. Okay, I admit it, I used to put makeup on the holiest day of the week, on Shabbos (and Yom Tovim too). Every time I did it, I would tell myself that because it was part of my Levush it wasn’t really an Aveira, in fact, it was a mitzvah because Hashem enjoys when I look beautiful…etc….

Don’t kid yourself, I knew. In my heart of hearts, I knew perfectly well that what I was doing was wrong, but I kept on doing it anyway. But now, how could I teach Shabbos when I wasn’t really keeping it? It took three makeup free weeks for me to be able to announce that I wasn’t going to put makeup on Shabbos.

I learned many things from this experience:
1-I learned that my husband found me just as attractive even without a fresh coat of warpaint.
2-I learned that if I put on Lechem Mishne (double portion) of makeup before Shabbos, and slept like an Egyptian mummy in a sarcophagus, at least a third of the makeup would remain on my face (leaving two thirds on my pillow).
3-I also learned that by doing something I’m supposed to do, makes some people uncomfortable. After one particularly turbulent Friday night, I came to Shul Shabbos morning looking like an impressionist painting, only to be greeted by a chorus of, “Ugghh! You look terrible! Get yourself home and put on some makeup!” In fact, a friend of mine, said in front of a group of people, “Kasamba, what is wrong with you? No makeup? When did you become such a Rebbetzin?” The funny thing was, that at the time I was really embarrassed, but then she called me up a mere few weeks afterwards and said, “Okay, I’m also gonna do this ‘no makeup on Shabbos’ thing, just tell me what to do…”

Then, the weirdest thing happened. Shabbos changed. Just like that. No longer was Shabbos my day to be seen and show myself, Shabbos became a day when I no longer felt the need to check the mirror one hundred times to see if my lipstick was wearing off. Suddenly, I had to be completely dressed for Shabbos, before Shabbos. I know that sounds strange, but prior to this time, I lit Shabbos candles in a robe and a snood knowing that I would put makeup on and get dressed after I benched lecht. Shocking isn’t it? Suddenly I found myself completely dressed for Shabbos, caked on makeup et all, and it was so different.

Shabbos became about what is going on inside me instead of outside.
To be continued....


At 1:32 PM, Blogger Pragmatician said...

Funny and introspective post all at the same time, how do you manage to combine serious and lightness so well?
Kol hakavod you had the courage to leave the make up in it's box on Shabbes.
You probably feared the people’s reaction in shul yet you pulled through that’s amazing, you wouldn't have been the first to crack under the -what-will-they-say pressure-.

Everyone who's even sinned and repented is technically a BT, so you're part of a bigger group now than you were as FFB!

At 2:12 PM, Blogger Jewish Thinker said...

A tree, my wife is an artist, a tree one of here faorite subjects. We have sculpture of trees and peoples dancing, trees with there branches becomming dancing people, and paintings prints and more of trees. Remember that many af the neveim and tanaim would take refuge in the woods to spiritually connect to g-d.

They say there is an angel with a revolving sword blocking the path to heaven. The revolution goes form Pride to Temptation and circles. Just when we manage to oversome temptation, we can succumb to pride. When we conquer pride, we can let temptation in through the back. Staying in the middle is the only way through.

I take a shower in the 18 minutes, because my wife insists on putting on makeup for shabbat, i have to wait for her to keep an eye on my son - I would prefer she didnt wear makeup at all, my wife friend mary kay has a different take on it.

At 5:49 PM, Blogger kishmech said...

ahem -



mmm should i actually encourage this .....i ask myself.
great post.

At 5:57 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Prag: Thank you sooo much! A compliment coming from a blogger that I admire so much is one that I will cherish!

Jewish Thinker: I love art that reflects the artists spirituality!
I love the concept about the angel- it makes me feel better about being in the middle!
Good for you to allow your wife the luxury of applying warpaint- even though you think she doesn't need it!

Kish: I know, I know! You did tell me about these fab shabbos products- I just haven't looked into them yet!!!! You know I think you're the best!!!!

At 7:15 PM, Blogger HumanBeforeJewish said...

great post. and dont give me credit. u came up with this one all on ur own. as u say, its a lifelong struggle. keep on keepin' on.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger TheGirl said...

Well Well well

Being someone that litteraly could at one point in her life sit and watch a Dvd on shabbos while eating a ham sandwhich, i always had this thing that i would NEVER EVER put make up on shabbos. It was one line that i never ever crossed. Hypocritical i know. but it was just something i felt ppl do for the outside world and not for themselves. so i never did it. Simple as that.

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

I really enjoyed reading about your spiritual journey. I am not FFB and will most likely not be frum in the future, either. I am comfortable and happy at my Jewish observance level. But I respect the paths of other Jews, too, who practice differently than I.

At 9:51 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Human: Thanks- but you did inspire me!

Thegirl; It's funny isn't it? Loads of women I know who would never dream of coloring on paper, literally color all over themselves on the holiest day of the week. Hey, who am I to judge? I was one of them!

Stacey: Thank you!

At 1:11 AM, Blogger the only way i know said...

I find your post inspiring!

my spiritual growth is at a stand-still recently. It hurts.

There are reasons for it,
I'm working to get past them

Sometimes I find it hard to balance physical aspects with spiritual ones -

but one always needs to connect the two -
there is no other way in Jewish living

Thanks for your openess and keep up posted on growth and change!

Take care, Sweetie!

At 1:48 AM, Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

Beautiful Beautiful post..
A few years ago I went to an Ohr Sameach Rosh Hashana davening (I was the chazzen) with my parents...half the services were in English..and accompanied by puppet shows and all sorts of crazy things..
After davening my mother told me..it was the first time Rosh Hashana had any meaning to her!
I love that term FFH..Its true and sad
Thanks...truly inspiring post..

At 1:50 AM, Blogger Amishav said...

Hey Kasamba, nice post. I'm glad that you are more relaxed about shabbos. It's sort of a paradox isn't it. The more rigorously you decided to observe shabbos, the more comfortable you became.

And as for the comment you left for me about relocating to the UK, all it would take would be the right gal. Know anyone? Send 'em my way. Thanks!

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Pragmatician said...

Kasamba-I'm flattered you admire me, but it's really not necessary, unfortunately I don't have that many things that deserve admiration.
But thank you, it sure gives my self esteem a healthy boost.

At 5:32 PM, Blogger HanginUp said...

I myself never applied makeup on Shabbos simply because my mother didn't and I knew that it was something that I shouldn't do. I always resented the fact that other women looked better than me on Shabbos morning when I attended shabbatons back in my single days - but to be honest - that was one of the things that attracted my husband to me upon meeting at such an event. I know that it's just a coincidence but I like to think that it was my small reward for doing something that I found so difficult.

At 7:31 PM, Blogger jemima3 said...

nice post. Three days Yom Tov coming up - how're you gonna cope?!!

At 12:03 AM, Blogger kasamba said...

Hanginup; May that zchuss extend to all of us!!!

Jemima3: GREAT question!!! I have a one word solution; HYPNOTISM.
Yes, you heard me; hypnotism.

First, I load up all the makeup I can on a spatula and using firm strokes apply it all over my face until I look like a transvestite or Tammy Faye Baker- then I hypnotise everyone around me into remembering my face like that and presto!!!!! I'm covered for three days!!!!

But seriously, I just have to make do with whatever lasts and hope that everyone can appreciate my natural beauty. HA!

At 10:46 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Amishav: How right you are!!!!!!

And as I indicated on your blog- I do know some great girls!

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