middot enthusiasm rebbetzin malkah
rebbetzin malkah

rebbetzin malkah

Malkah Forbes, born in Upstate New York, studied Computer Science at SUNY Oswego (B.A.), where she met her future husband, Jason.  Soon after, they moved to the  Seattle area where her husband could pursue his career in software engineering. In tandem, Jason was studying to become a rabbi. After Jason received his smicha (rabbinic ordination) from the UMJC, both he and Malkah became leaders of their current congregation, Beit HaShofar Synagogue in SeattleWA.  Currently, Malkah is an active rebbetzin and not only teaches Hebrew, but helps to oversee and spearhead new synagogue programs.  Her latest project includes Riverton Mussar, which she and her husband co-founded in 2010.  She has been a frequent contributor of drashes for the UMJC website, served on the board of the UMJC National Sisterhood, Achot, and has been a speaker for various sessions at the UMJC International Conference.

When Malkah is not writing for Riverton Mussar, she can be found enjoying her three teenagers, her two delightful cats, working on her interior and garden redesign business, knitting, and sporting a serious game of Mah Jongg.

Saturday, 26 November 2011 19:25

what do you exalt

art-honorinsandRabbi Yisrael was once stranded in Kovno for Shabbat. Everyone wanted to host him, but he chose to spend the Shabbat at the home of a baker who had no children to feed, so he would not take away anyone's portion of food.

The baker was an observant Jew but hardly a man of intelligence. As he ushered his esteemed guest into his house, he shouted at his wife, "Why are the challahs not covered? How many times must I remind you to cover the challahs?" The poor woman, recognizing her distinguished guest, hurried to cover the challahs with tears in her eyes. When the baker asked Rabbi Yisroel to do the honors by reciting the Kiddush, the Rabbi first asked him, "Can you tell me why we cover the challahs?"

"Of course," replied the baker. "Every child knows the answer. When there are many different foods on the table, the first blessing is always made over the bread, after which no other blessing need be made. On Friday night, however, the first blessing has to be made over the wine. In order not to shame the challah, who expects the blessing to be made over her, we must cover her over until after the sanctification of the wine."

Rabbi Yisrael looked at the baker incredulously. "Why do your ears not hear what your mouth is saying?" he asked. "Do you think that our Jewish tradition does not understand that a piece of dough has no feelings and would never become embarrassed? Understand that our laws are trying to sensitize us to the feelings of human beings, our friends, our neighbors, and especially our wives!

Thursday, 16 September 2010 20:37

as the sparrow is remembered

art-sparrowsAre not five birds sold for two issarim? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. And as for you, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more precious than many birds.  -- Mashiach Yeshua, Luke 12:6,7, DHE

When the sun is shining and life is swell, these words seem like handy advice for a rainy day.  But these words take on a whole new meaning when the sun isn't shining in our lives.  They become a lifeline.  This I vividly recall from personal experience last year.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 12:27

pleasant with the young


When one is engaged in any act of service, such as giving charity, offering prayer, performing an obligatory or voluntary act, or voicing rebuke, he should not engage in it with any pride or arrogance in his heart.  Rather, he should be humble and lowly before the Creator, both outwardly and inwardly.  [His act] should be as nothing to him, when compared with how much he owes G-d – so much more than this one act!  As it says, "With what shall I come before Hashem, bow low before G-d on high?  Shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings, with yearling calves?  Would G-d be pleased with thousands of rams?... He has told you, O man, what is good, and what G-d requires of you: only to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk modestly with your G-d."  (Micah 6:6-8)  – Rabbi Bachya ibn Paquda, Duties of the Heart, The Gate of Humility

Monday, 13 September 2010 11:28

from the rising of the sun until its setting

art-treesunriseOn going to bed one says from ’Hear, oh Israel’ to ‘And it shall come to pass if you hearken diligently.’ Then he says: ‘’Blessed is He who causes the bands of sleep to fall upon my eyes and slumber on my eyelids, and gives light to the apple of the eye. May it be Your will, O L-rd, my G-d, to make me lie down in peace, and set my portion in Your law and accustom me to the performance of religious duties, but do not accustom me to transgression…’

When he wakes he says: ‘'My G-d, the soul which You have placed in me is pure. You have fashioned it in me, You did breathe it into me, and You preserve it within me and You will one day take it from me and restore it to me in the time to come. So long as the soul is within me I give thanks unto You, O L-rd, my G-d, and the G-d of my fathers, Sovereign of all worlds, L-rd of all souls. Blessed are You, O L-rd, who restores souls to dead corpses.' When he hears the cock crowing he should say: ‘'Blessed is He who has given to the cock understanding to distinguish between day and night.' When he opens his eyes he should say: '‘Blessed is He who opens the eyes of the blind. When he stretches himself and sits up he should say: ‘Blessed is He who looses the bound.' When he dresses he should say: '‘Blessed is He who clothes the naked.' When he draws himself up he should say: '‘Blessed is He who raises the bowed.' When he steps on to the ground he should say: '‘Blessed is He who spread the earth on the waters.' When he commences to walk he should say: 'Blessed is He who makes firm the steps of man.' When he ties his shoes he should say: '‘Blessed is He who has supplied all my wants.' When he fastens his girdle, he should say: ‘'Blessed is He who girds Israel with might.' When he spreads a kerchief over his head he should say: ‘'Blessed is He who crowns Israel with glory.' -- Talmud, Berachot 60b

Monday, 13 September 2010 10:54

this too is for the good

art-gamzuThis story is very interesting because it illustrates the concept of gam zu l'tovah: we do not have the power, as mortals, to even comprehend the nature of events and how they will shape our fate.


Sunday, 12 September 2010 21:34

the pH of anger

Talmud - Mas. Nedarim 22a

R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: He who loses his temper is exposed to all the torments of Gehenna, for it is written, Therefore remove anger from thy heart,’ thus wilt thou put away evil from thy flesh. Now ‘evil’ can only mean Gehenna, as it is written, The L-rd hath made all things for himself yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Moreover, he is made to suffer from abdominal troubles, as it is written, But the L-rd shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. Now what causes failing eyes and a sorrowful mind? Abdominal troubles.

What is remarkable to me as I read this is the physiological response that is being spoken of if we become worked up: stomach troubles.

Friday, 10 September 2010 12:31

patience as a spoke on a wheel

You’re supposed to be somewhere.  You didn’t leave on time, or maybe you did.  You didn’t plan for mishaps, or maybe you planned for the worst and thought you were prepared.

Friday, 10 September 2010 11:02

warning: impatience is contagious

art-sneezeThe remarkable yet sad outcome is the punishment of Moses and Aaron: they will not set foot into the land. One can imagine the great sadness they felt - all their striving for the sake of Heaven and one mistake seals their fate.


Tuesday, 31 August 2010 16:10

patience as suffering

The Hebrew word for patience is savlanut, which also means "tolerance."

This same Hebrew root also gives rise to words that means "suffer" (sevel) and "burdens" (sivlot). If we equate being patient with suffering, and patience as tolerating that which is not our will, we will have an easier time in difficult and unpredictable moments.  Once we lose the ability to have patience, anger or intolerance bubbles up within us. It is at that lowest point when we experience those feelings that we have mistakenly assumed we are masters over all, and we shun the ability of the Master of the Universe to work through us in an unplanned moment or sequence of events.

The next time you encounter a situation which brings you to the brink of losing your patience, practice this simple meditation.

First, take a few deep breaths.  Then, imagine a pine tree, one not larger than 5 feet tall with at least 30 branches that have offshoots.  As you imagine this tree before you, take upon the task in your mind to gently pluck every needle from the branches starting from the from top of the tree. Work your way down all branches of the tree in a very methodical way in your mind - slowly and deliberately.

What this will achieve for you is a mental focus, lowering of your blood pressure, controlled imagery, and will lessen your sensitivity to the matter at hand.  Guaranteed, the situation will become less urgent and more manageable.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 10:47

calm spirit despite the storm

art-kinneretIt happened on that day at the turning of evening that he said them, “Let us go across to the other side of the sea.” They left the crowd of people and took him in the boat where he was, but other boats followed him. A great, stormy wind arose, and the waves were flooding inside the boat, to the point where it was almost full. He was asleep on the cushion in the stern of the boat, so they woke him up and said to him, “Rabbi, are you not worried about us? We are perishing!” He woke up and reprimanded the wind, and he said to the sea, “Hush and be silent!” The wind calmed down, and there was a great silence. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Why are you lacking emunah?"  --Mark 4:35-40, DHE

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