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Gifts of a Lifetime

She reminded me of a Redwood Tree: tall, a bit heavy, and a few centuries old. Beyond that were the obvious differences, including graying hair that evolved into the most interesting shade of light blue that enthralled our entire 8th grade class.

Mrs. H. commanded more than her share of respect, and maybe even fear, from us as well as the rest of the school. We remained in awe of her ability to not only manage any class, but also convey skills and even a love of the English language.

In the early years of grade school, it seemed that this 8th grade icon would never be within my reach. Then came the day I entered her class.

Her techniques were ‘old school’ and I surely earned each hard stare upon trading personal notes in class. Despite myself, however, I remember clinging to her lessons with fascination; the way she presented the magnificence of words, like colors on an artist’s palette. We dissected their parts, applied grammar rules and broke them. She was determined to instill within us a love for words and encouraged us to use them (as long as we raised our hands).

All these years later, her lessons resonate in anything I write. At this full-circle vantage point, I consider each one a precious gift.

Transmitting skills is a gift that lasts a lifetime.  Indeed, according to Maimonides, this is the highest form of charity http://www.aish.com/atr/Levels_of_Giving.html. Nothing is more generous than freely helping someone obtain tools so that he no longer relies upon others.

At the Home, we strive to convey this sense of independence to our girls. We encourage the cultivation of their talents through art, drama and dance. But it is also important to us that they gain mastery in cooking, sewing, computers and other skills that develop their entire persona for an independent life.

Developing the skills of others and ourselves has one important component for success: tefillah, prayer.

Today, Tuesday, January 31, 2012, our request for a successful livelihood has an extra special opportunity to be heard.

According to our sages, the daily recitation of Parshas Hamon merits a successful livelihood, but on this day, the practice is especially meritorious: This week the Torah portion of Beshalach will be read, recalling G-d’s beneficence towards the nation of Israel when He sustained them with ‘man’, manna from heaven, upon leaving Egypt. Parshas Hamon reminds us that, no matter what our financial situation, everything we have is from G-d; He provides our every need. Let’s not allow this sacred opportunity to read it slip away:

Parshas Hamon 

Let our prayers for financial success emanate from a place within our hearts that understands, the more we have, the more we can give, and the better chance we can help others to stand on their own.

May all your prayers be answered for the best!


Rachel Weinstein

Director of Development

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