Rina chose her name when she converted to Judaism in 2011, because it means “Joy” and she wanted to have joy and be joy. The only problem was all the mental clutter she didn’t even know was dragging her down – guilt, fear, stress, self-doubt. It took losing everything through divorce, financial upheaval, and a terrible child abuse saga for Rina to find true joy that comes from trusting a Loving Higher Power. While Rina is joyfully Jewish, the truths she’s learned surpass the limits of religion and unite us on a human journey to understand our minds and hearts and FEEL GOOD about life! She’s a mother of three blessings and lives on a farm in Baltimore, MD. (She sometimes writes about the future as if it is the present, like that farm part. It’s a cool visualization technique everyone should try.)
My name, Rina, means “joy” in Hebrew – and I actually got to choose it when I converted to Judaism years ago. I chose “joy” at a high and low time of life – I was 8 months pregnant, waddling, overweight, in a cramped upstairs apartment of an in-the-process-of-being-renovated old house. I was in a new city, meeting new people, in a new religion.
I wasn’t really that joyful. To be honest, I was a bit miserable. My marriage was falling apart, and I didn’t know it. My mind had locked me into negative patterns of worry, guilt, shame, doubt, depression, anxiety, fear, fear, and more fear. Uncertain circumstances and lack of proper tools drowned me daily.
I don’t want to undermine the beauty and holiness of the journey that had led us to choose a religious Jewish life – my Jewish wedding was the most joyful day of my life to that point!
I simply know that at that time, looking through the Jewish Baby Name book, trying to name myself (you thought naming a BABY was hard, try naming yourself – all the possibilities!!) and trying to connect myself to a deep spiritual identity – or possibly just capture the identity I knew I already had… I wasn’t joyful. But I chose “joy” anyway.
One of the many “strange habits” of the Jewish culture is praying after a meal instead of before it. It actually makes sense biblically, because the command to thank G-d for your food says, you shall eat and (then) be blessed and (then) thank G-d for the land and the food he gave you. On the holiest days, we say a special prayer after eating called the “Song of Ascent,” which is from Psalms. I knew I wanted my name to come from that prayer. I felt drawn to it, specifically a part that says:
“When the Lord returned the captives of Zion, we were like people in a dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with exultation: then said they among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them. The Lord has done great things for us; so we rejoiced! Bring back our captives, O Lord, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Psalm 126
This About Me section got Jewish really fast, and I really didn’t intend for that; so I want to back up for my non-Jewish readers, my non-religious readers, my Christian and Muslim and atheist readers, my spiritually seeking readers – whoever YOU are out there wanting joy in your life – I don’t discriminate – this blog’s for you. We all want joy, right?!
Since I chose my name Rina, a lot of painful things have happened. Divorce. Financial loss. Child abuse. To name a few. Joy is not a lack of painful circumstances. Joy is letting the tears come and waking up in the morning with the faith that everything happens for a reason and everything happens for our best. Joy is knowing that YOUR MIND has the power to create your reality, and Love is there wherever you go.
I’m happy you’re here. And I’m happy to be together on our journey to joy.
PS. I made a list of my Teachers, some awesome resources for anyone interested…
Rabbi Shalom Arush
Rivka Malka Perlman
- Rivka Malka’s YouTube videos
- Redemption Retreat
- Redemption School of Coaching & Transformation
The Work by Byron Katie (a free website, not a book)
My Mother Shay Feaster – she doesn’t have a book or a blog, but she is JOY personified. She lights up a room with her laugh, her extra-white smile, and her Truth. She taught me the Law of Kindness and the Power of Faith before emuna (hebrew word for faith) ever entered my vocabulary.
The Villain – I’m blown away at how you sacrificed yourself on a soul level to play the bad guy in my healing story. Our souls will dance again.
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