THE SIMPLICITY IN LIFE

My Minyan of Animals

Dedicated to Nemi Lobel, for her love of animals.

By Annelise & Jason Taylor

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A young man once lived alone, but not like you would expect. He did not own a house, or any of the things most other people could not do without.

Sometimes he lived at the top of a mountain amongst the scattered trees and mossy boulders, with a view as spectacular as the colours of a rainbow. Sometimes he lived in the valley down by the river of gentle flowing water, where fish jumped out into the cool breeze.

Often in the sunny warmth of the day he walked by the orchards and pastures near town, saying a kind “Hello” to the cute and curious baby animals playing running games. Other days he spent deep in the heart of the forest, surrounded by trees that almost touched the sky, and native peaceful wildlife. All day he lived under the sun and in the beauty and tranquility of nature; at night he fell asleep, slumbering beneath the bright display of stars.

His name was Selig. He was happy and peaceful and the animals and trees were his friends. He cared for them and they looked after him.

Another man, named Abraham Tzvi, came walking through the woods one calm, fresh morning with his flute. He played a beautiful melody. Selig heard this music and streams of joy filled his soul. He went to listen, dancing a jolly of steps as he did. As the two men met, Selig was surprised at Abraham’s kind and friendly greeting. They sat under the shade of a young, aspiring tree growing its way to the heights, talking for a long time.

Selig listened quietly as Abraham told him about life in the town with his wife and children, his work and his friends. When he talked about Torah, Selig listened carefully with great intent and learnt joyfully as the pure words of Torah and G-d flowed passionately from Abrahams lips. A new stream of clear water had come into his heart under this bright blue sky. Selig had discovered something true and good.

Selig now longed to understand more. From then on the two friends met every week. They talked together, learning good wisdoms from each other. More than anything, Selig loved to pray. He had often walked through the wilderness of the bush, talking to whoever had created such a magnificent place. He asked Abraham many questions about how to pray and was overjoyed to understand that it was simple and that his prayers would always be listened to.

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Abraham was amazed at Selig’s simple, innocent way of life and the way that although he was isolated from the outside world, he still had a pure belief in the supreme Creator.

There came a day when a wave of sadness swept through Selig’s soul. He learnt that a man can’t only walk the path of prayer alone; that everyday he should join with other people, at least nine other friends, to pray, or as Abraham called it, to daven. Abraham called this group a minyan and suggested that Selig come live in the town so he could daven to the Creator, whom he called Hashem. Selig couldn’t bear to do it, to live in the city. He told his friend that he would pray for an answer.

As he walked slowly to the mountain that afternoon wanting to find a spot where he could clear his head and organise his thoughts properly, Selig came across a strange group on his path. He saw a donkey, a deer, a sheep, three ducks, a weird pink four-legged thing that resembled a fat tree stump that walked, and two goats, wandering along. ‘Could this be my minyan?’ Selig thought to himself as he guided the troop to the river so they could quickly swim before hurrying off to pray. It was something called a mikveh, which Abraham had mentioned was something they did to cleanse themselves. The sheep were very stubborn and took a lot of convincing. After he had finally managed to get all the animals to swim in the river, Selig walked with his flock of minyan members to the spot where he began to build his synagogue.

It was a very special place to Selig. He had planted it full of colourful flowers, aromatic herbs and other assorted plants. It had a view of a small waterfall and the air was fresher and cleaner here. He wove branches between trees for the walls. Instead of making a complete roof, he just lashed some smalls log together in a six- pointed star and decorated everything with berries, vines, flowers, fruit and scent plants. For the rest of the afternoon Selig sat with his toes dipped in the water while he wove little round head coverings called yarmulkes for all his new friends in his minyan to wear.

In the morning he called his minyan of animals all to come inside and pray with him. It didn’t work as he hoped. He couldn’t let the strange pink animal come in because it was covered in mud and making loud snorting noises. Every time Selig tried to give it a bath it squealed furiously. This made Selig feel sad, as he thought he had hurt the poor creature and made it run away.

Selig now realised he no longer had nine friends for his minyan, which saddened him even more. He thought maybe there was a bird in one of the trees nearby that

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would join in his minyan. He stared up and searched around the tree tops. As he walked further away from his synagogue he heard the pleasant call of a magpie, and once he found the bird he made gentle whistles, mimicking the magpie’s tune. It craned its neck and stared silently at Selig, who continued to whistle softly on. After a short moment it flew from its perch and glided elegantly to the ground, landing in front of Selig. He turned on the balls of his feet and headed feverishly back to the rest of his minyan so he could finally pray.

When he got back, Selig saw the goats eating all his pretty flowers. The donkey was laying down, crushing most of his aromatic plants. The ducks were swimming figure eights in the river. The deer had scratched its antlers on almost every tree, rubbing off the bark, and the sheep was pulling out all the bundles of grass from the entrance to Selig’s synagogue and loudly chewing them up.

Selig became a little frustrated, but nevertheless he was intent on praying, so he herded all the animals up and huddled them into his synagogue. The donkey came in first and sat quietly by the door, making it difficult for the other animals to pass. Eventually they crowded in too. Selig arranged them quickly from tallest to smallest. At first they were quiet while Selig prayed, but that didn’t last; the animals became restless and loud. Selig ignored them till he was finished praying. When he finished, he turned around and saw one of the goats munching on the vines and decorations. The other goat was eating the last of all the yarmulkes. The sheep was chasing the magpie, who was chasing the ducks, feathers were floating everywhere from the fluster, and the donkey and the deer were facing each other, repeatedly nodding their heads and bumping each other on the scalp. Selig saw this chaos and knew that animals would not suffice. He needed another minyan.

When he came to a part of the river down from the waterfall that afternoon, he saw a cluster of trees standing together in the middle of a small clearing, their branches stretching up towards the wide glistening sky overhead. He counted them; nine trees. This would be his minyan.

After swimming for a while in the shining, cold water, Selig climbed out and huddled in the middle of the nest of trees and spent hours talking with his Creator.

Many times that week he came back to his minyan of trees and prayed. He poured out his heart, and he listened to the reply that came in the whisper of the wind and the happenings of his days. When he saw Abraham next, he told him about his minyanim.

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Abraham loved what Selig told him, and knew that this simple man had a pure heart and soul. Abraham applauded the efforts to which Selig went to speak with the Creator, but informed him that a man needs to gather with other men, whose souls were more like his own. Selig didn’t know what to do. He certainly didn’t want to be in the busy mess of the town. He liked it out in nature, living side by side with the world as it was first created. He couldn’t bring himself to come to town. But as they spent the afternoon walking and talking together, the two friends had a perfect idea. Together they built a bigger synagogue, putting it near the river so it had a mikveh. They covered its walls again with berries, vines, fruit and an array of aromatic smelling plants. The following morning, Abraham arrived with his family and a few of his closest friends. Finally Selig had his minyan. Selig prayed with more passion and sincerity than he had ever done before.

His new friends would come and pray, then most days they would quietly walk back to the town to live their days there, leaving Selig to wander alone amongst the plants and animals as he loved to do. Some days they would stay longer and the children would frolic in the water, climb the trees, or run in the small cleared meadows while Selig made them all a meal or showed them new paths through his home. The birds sang vibrantly, the leaves rustled, and the fresh air blew always around their faces.

So Selig lived all his life happily under the sky. He often climbed to his mountain and prayed from the heart on his own.

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SEEK AND YOU SHALL FIND

We can sometimes feel like Hashem has put us in the world from which it seems like he is silent. Really he has put us in this world of his own creation and speaks to us through it, it may seem slow and quite but really he is using everything, every little piece of external and even internal stimuli to speak to us. We need to stop ever now and again maybe more often and look, listen and feel what it is Hashem is trying to say to us.

It arise that you couldn’t possible understand or decipher what it is he is trying to say to us but the answer is simple Hashem is saying in everything he uses to speak with us:

“Come closer to me”

We are his creations, his children and he loves and cares for us, as any parent does their own children.

A FRIEND, AN ANGEL

Who is the devil?

Simple he’s a not evil angel of Hashem, created by Hashem and a loyal servant to Hashem doing as he is commanded. He can nether create things or kills things, he can’t force you to be bad (you make that choice on your own). He would never and could never defy Hashem’s will nor would he want to for if he did Hashem would already know he was going to and Hashem would surely destroy him seeing as he created him and is more powerful than him.

We have two inclinations the good one and the evil one, these are not angels nor do they control you they offer a choice to do good and serve Hashem or not.

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TO THE HEART FROM ISRAEL

My heart is with Israel, my heart is Israel.

Israel is an amazing place, you do not have to go there to feel a connection to it. Its more than just a land promised to the jewish people the people Hashem chose as his own its a part of you, of everyone who holds a connection to judaism and to Hashem. It becomes something you not only yearn for but something you wish to protect like a new born child you want nothing seemingly bad to happen to it.
No matter what where ever I stand i stand with Israel. My heart my Israel.
“May Hashem bless Israel and the jewish people and return them to the land promised to them through their forefather Avraham”

THE GREATEST GIFT

You don’t need to be rich to give charity. Charity comes in many forms and can be as simple a giving a few minute of your time to help someone. One should always look for the opportunity to help a fellow human, but be sure to not expect anything in return for this is not charity. One would only want to seek pleasure in the fact that they help some one else out and not do it for the selfish acts your own reputation, if your hearts right and you try your best your motivation for charity will be pure so go out there and do something completely selfless and treasure the happiness you get from knowing you help someone for no reason but to help them.

Helpful hint charity begins in the home, best to make sure your family is taken care of before branching out to the wider community.

DARE TO BE DIFFERENT

what if you could change the world? would you? would it shock you that this is one of those ‘what ifs’ that is achievable.

How you dress and act not only effects us as individuals, it also effects everyone else around us, from friends to family to partners and even complete strangers you will probably never meet. If you realized that the way you dressed had the power to destroy the relationship of another, that you were reasonable for tearing a family apart a family you never knew or met. Would you still dress the way you do if you knew that it caused anger, violence, lust and immoral deeds. Would you still dress that way if you understood that you were degrading yourself. Would you still dress that way if you knew you could solve major problems across the world, you could be the reason there is no rape, abuse (child or domestic), harassment,or bullying. What if you could do all this? would you dare to be different? would you change your ways despite what others will think, till they to realise?

In a world filled with modesty, a world with Tzniut, this would be possible.

MY HELP COMES FROM THE MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

Remember one thing and your life shall change for the better,

whenever something good happens became not to attribute it to your own doing remember that ‘HaShem is in control’. It was his doing that you succeeded all things come from his hands so say “thank you” and avoid arrogance, be humble.

Like wise hold true for the opposite when some seemingly bad happens or doesn’t go your way remember ‘HaShem is in control’ it was his doing and only because he loves us, his creation he only ever is looking out for our wellbeing doing only whats best for each and every one of us, even though it might not seem like it, there is always a bigger picture that we do not see so say “thank you”

A thought of a seeking mind;

Free will seems to imply that one has the capability to do what every he or she wishes/desires, that they are in control. This is false for we do not have ‘free will’ as many people might say or believe, As mere human beings we don’t have much control. What we have, is ‘free choice’ the ability to choose one thing from another. Even with ‘free choice’ we are still a lot of decisions that are made for us. We have enough to give the since of free will to have a reward and punishment system in the world.