We are living in times when everything right is now considered wrong and everything wrong is right. This is very close to what was going on at the time of the Macabbees. It was a fight for the survival of the people who wanted to keep the Torah. Let’s not make the same mistake that a group of Jewish renegades did then…to convert to pagan gods. There is only one God for all humanity.
Here is my concert today for the Chomedey Seniors Group on Hanukkah and the holidays.
I’ve been watching the news about the war in Kiev, Ukraine and it is so sad as are the many injustices happening right now on this beautiful God-given planet of ours. My great-grandparents were born there and it is supposed to be a beautiful city. They lived in Kiev until they emigrated to Canada in 1906. They had to leave their home because of the pogroms. Imagine…the fake news back then was that Jews were kidnapping Christian children and using their blood to make matzah. How can anyone believe that? Then I think of the crazy things that people are believing today. I’m grateful that because of their courage to uproot themselves with 9 children and come to a new world, we could live free, we were spared from the horrors of the Holocaust. But today our freedom is at risk.
I’ve told you that I started studying the Torah 32 years ago. It’s not a religious book. It’s a story of our people; it’s a book of principles that give us wisdom and truth, it’s a manual for how we need to behave in order to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. By Moses told by God, “when you go into the land and you grow fat, do not forget me.” We are a very resourceful people; we have been in exile for almost 2000 years although many are back in the land. We have forgotten those words and when we prospered, we have forgotten our God. That’s why we suffer. If you cut off a branch from the tree and it can no longer be fed from the roots, it dies.
What we see happening now in the world is not new. Why are we surprised? The world has been at war since Cain killed his brother Abel, the first two children born to Adam and Eve. Although Canada has been a peaceful country, whether we realize it or not, we’ve been in a war for the past several years –biological or viral warfare which has forced us into isolation for the past two years; friends and families are being divided over religion and politics; the people we voted into government are abusing their power and have slowly been taking away our freedom of choice; but to me the worst war that we are experiencing is the war against free speech. We’re no longer allowed to openly express our opinion without being mocked, called offensive or some type of phobic. What this is doing is setting the stage for the censorship of God’s Words, His Torah and especially His Ten Commandments written by His own Hand. Ultimately it is a war against the Master of the universe. That happened with Pharaoh. How did that turn out for him?
I won’t want to listen to the words of the modern-day prophets who want to tell us that we are entering Armageddon or the War of God and Magog because the Torah says if they’re wrong, not to believe them. I prefer to listen to what our Hebrew prophets tell us. They help us to read the sign of the times. Noah shows us that God destroyed the world in his day because every imagination of the heart of man was evil, and violence was everywhere. Did you know the Hebrew word for violence is Hamas? Well, they’re not everywhere…yet!
The story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah shows us that when Abram asked God to spare the two cities and He said that He would if 10 righteous people could be found. Well, they couldn’t. As far as I can see, the evil in the world has not spread to those levels yet. Our prophet Ezekiel in chapter 38 tells us that our enemies will one day come against Israel when the chiefs of Gog, Magog, Meshech and Tubal (all around Russia), Persia (Iran) Cush (Ethiopia) and Put (Libya) shall say: “I will go up against the land of unwalled villages; I will come upon them that are at quiet, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates;” That day will come but that day is not today. Those days are described in both Judaism and Christianity as “Chevlei ha Mashiach”, the birth pangs of the Messiah. The world’s birth pains are not strong enough yet so let’s look at what do we can do today to be part of the healing of the world, to bring in Tikkun Olam instead of waiting for someone else to do it.
I had a revelation when I was in my teens, and I have lived by it all my life. I seek out the root of the problem instead of putting on a Band-Aid. That’s what the Torah does for us. It shows us the root cause of disease – physical, emotional, and spiritual, that plague our world. So, do we watch the news and fall apart, or do we trust that God is in charge? Do we continue to move forward to fulfill our calling, or do we cower in fear in our small corner of the world? What is God asking of us, of me? The good news is, as darkness grows, light can shine more brightly. We can each learn to live and spread the light of the Torah wherever we go. We just need to read it. It teaches us how to have true shalom in our lives, how to choose to have joy amid struggles. Through its stories we learn principles of wisdom which give us the tools to handle our daily struggles. The solution is simple; the tough part is putting them into action. Sometimes we’ll take two steps forward, and then fall one step backward, but we can always start again.
I host an intimate, relaxed discussion group every Wednesday at 8: 30PM EST. We do a little music, some conversation and we read the portion together. It’s amazing what is revealed that we never knew was there. If you’d like an invitation, send me an email and I’ll be happy to send you a link.
Many of us have little traditions that make us feel better. Here’s one of mine that I’d like to share with you. I say this beautiful Psalm of David every night and it helps me fall asleep knowing that Someone is watching over me when I am asleep and when I’m awake. First I’d like to sing it to you in Hebrew as that melody touches the soul. Then I wrote a modern version of it so that I can relate to the words even better. I hope it brings you some peace and light.
Who are we as Jews that people love to hate us? That’s a great question. It has never been easy to be a Jew. Many of us say “choose someone else for a change”. My father used to say that because he was beaten up for being a Jew… so was my brother and my rabbi, may he Rest in Peace.
I asked myself, what is expected of me as a Jew, and after searching all my life, 32 years ago I began to read the Torah, THE “Jewish book”. After all, if we want to know the truth about something, we go to the source. Right?
Guess what I found? The message is ridiculously simple, but sadly most of us seem to prefer complicated. The Torah deals extensively with this subject. Here it is in a nutshell: There’s the Creator of the universe, the Bore Olam who made everything. He chose certain people to talk to… one by one, beginning with Adam, later Noah, then Abram, and so on. To Adam, He gave one rule which he probably would have kept except that God also made Eve. Women are always getting us into trouble. That’s a joke, ladies! I’m one.
Later, Noah heard a voice telling him to build an ark, God was going to send a flood to destroy the world because people were so violent. At the time, Noah was living on a mountain, and it hadn’t rained on earth yet. Today they’d put him in a psychiatric ward. After building it and warning others, for almost 100 years, only he, his wife, his three sons and three daughters-in-law got on together with hordes of animals and birds. His confidence level must not have been too high with that success rate. I’m so glad he listened because here we are, the entire population of the world is descended from that one family. Basically, all humanity are cousins…this is a family feud par excellence. One group was chosen to fulfill a role and that caused jealousy…a recurring theme in the Torah.
Another person down the road heard the voice again. Most of us know the story of Moses who led a lot of people out of slavery to the base of Mount Sinai. These were the natural descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, together with a mixed multitude which means non-Israelites had joined us, because they had been a witness to what our God could do, and they wanted to be on the winning side. There they stood, at the base of Mt Sinai; suddenly there was thunder, the mount shook, its top was on fire and sounds of shofars blasted from who knows where. After the first few sentences, they told Moses to listen to the voice and to tell them what God had said because they were far too frightened. Millions of people were witness to that voice from heaven. To which other people did this ever happen?
At that unique moment, God handed Moses the Ten Commandments, the principles by which all humanity could love their neighbor as themselves. Our mandate was and still is to live by these simple ten and to teach them to the rest of the world. The rest is commentary and application. Adam had one rule; we have ten.
Yes, we were chosen but not because we were such a hot item but simply because God decided to do so. We are not better; we have a mandate. We are the messengers chosen by the Creator of the universe. Simple but not easy. If we keep His Words, He said He would keep us safe and we would prosper and be healthy; if we disobeyed them, we would suffer the consequences. Look around…do we see any? He also promised to deal with our enemies and do battle for us, His children.
How do we fight anti-Semitism today? We simply bring the Ten Commandments back into our schools, into our homes, into our government offices and into our courtrooms. Again, simple but not easy but when was anything worthwhile easy? No one on the outside can ever destroy Israel and the Jews. We alone can destroy ourselves from within. My motto is #BringBackTheTen Commandments.
Montreal Qc, Canada
Peggy Jacobson Pardo has been studying the Torah for the past 32 years. Her life has been filled with adventure in her search for truth. From her teenage years she “felt” a calling on her life that took her on a long voyage from medicine to alternative health, from hypnosis to the New Age, through a variety of religions including Christianity. In her 40’s, she turned back to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Torah. In its page were ultimate truths that she found nowhere else. She entertained the elderly for 20 years at the Jewish Clubs and Hospitals in Montréal such as Donald Berman’s Maimonides, The Jewish Eldercare and Hospital of Hope. Her music and storytelling have been lifting the spirits wherever she entertains as a musical animator. After her rabbi died on September 20, 2021, Peggy was foisted into the role of a Deborah in her congregation where she has served as a founding member in 1992. She had been his right-hand man from that time, and he called her his best talmida. She presently writes and records videos on a variety of topics relating to applying the principles of Torah for everyday life.
March 23, 2020
I was starting to panic again with all that is happening in the world, in my city, in my community that I finally had to stop myself last night at 2:00 AM and write down my thoughts. Thinking things through always helps me to calm down.
I watched the movie playing out in my mind that showed me my behaviour lately and to tell you the truth, I did not like what I saw. I was impatient, judgmental, losing patience with my family, and at times rude, all the while fearful of the future. It may sound strange, but I thought, is it possible that this behaviour stems from the lack of self-forgiveness for my actions past and present which force me to try to be someone I am not? It also allows me to be that way toward others since that’s how I am with myself. That’s very uncomfortable. Then my mind wandered to my closest friends and I saw the people who always are there for me no matter what. They don’t judge me; they just tell me as it is. Then I can start over and do better the next time. That’s pretty amazing. Then I looked upwards toward the heavens and saw that the Creator does the same thing with me. How grand is that!
Then I remembered that it’s just before Pesach when all the chametz within is being revealed in order for me to cleanse out like I will clean the yeast from my cupboards and fridge. Yeast in the Torah represents pride. I saw that my fears were taking over and I was forgetting to trust in the Creator. How would I live on my present income? I am a spender. So, if that the case either I spend less or find another source of income but I’m not so young anymore. I wondered if the Creator was closing the door to my singing for the elderly. Do I personally want to close that door and head in a new direction? Perhaps there’s something else I’d like to do. Perhaps it’s time to work on my book but every time I think of my book doubts flood my brain, “who would want to read it?”. “What would catch the eye of a publisher?” “What makes me think that the world wants my story when there are a million stories in the naked city”. How did my iPhone find the word naked before I did? Scary! Blah Blah Blah!
Back to my movie. I thought of how in our lives we take two steps forward and one step backwards, which is good if we’re on an upward spiral. These days it feels like the opposite. One forward and two back. But IF my Father in heaven is truly there for me and He never let me down in the past, why would He start now. He doesn’t change as I do. He is constant and only allows me to fall so far. He disciplines and teaches me, through people who are close to me and through circumstances.
I realized that I have lived through so many experiences because I truly live. I take chances. I am challenged and take them on at my pace. Then I remembered the expression my Rabbi uses: “Our God is the God of beginning Again”. Whenever I think it’s over and there’s nowhere to go but down, I can thank God for showing me the deep areas that are calling for change and for walking me through them. He is preparing me for Pesach when I come before Him like the imperfect person that I am, who can fail but who can get up and live a new day because The Creator of the Universe loves me and is there with me. Yes, I need to work on cleansing the chametz from my heart because I can’t stand those places that darken the light inside my soul. May I be more gracious, more kind to my fellow man, more trusting of the process and not give in to fear. When I acknowledge my areas of need, my willingness to grow, He meets me halfway and leads me on the right path.
These are the best of times and the worst of times. We may have heard that the world has gone through tragedy before but now we are the ones experiencing it. People have been warning us about a financial collapse that would come but we didn’t listen because we may not have known what to do. Now we must learn to NOT worship the golden calf as we did in the desert 4000 years ago just after we left Egypt but instead to watch the miracles that the Bore Olam can do. Let us not fall into despair but trust in the One who has everyone and everything in His Hands. He will never leave us nor forsake us!