Holy City Prayer

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Food for thought from Moshe Mordechai: Only such a small part

Only such a small part of the Universe is Planet Earth.

Only such a small part of all molecules is organic.

Only such a small part of Earth is alive.

Only such a small part of any life form is other molecules than water.

Only such a small part of life is animalistic.

Only such a small part of the animal kingdom is human.

Only such a small part of humanity survived. The whole line of Abel died with him. Of all the offspring of Cain only one survived: the wife of No'ach.[1] Of No'ach's generation only nine people survived.[2]

Only such a small part of humanity got the Tora. Of twenty generations Abraham was the first. Of all the converts that he and Sara made only 70 souls[3] were left after three generations; only the second son of his second son of his first marriage (Jacob) and his offspring. None of all the converts that they made in their long and hard working years stayed around. Of the people that went down to Egypt, a few hundred years later only 20% left in the emerging Jewish People, and that is the most conservative estimate. The other extreme (Rav Nehorai) is that less than 0.2% left. Of them, besides their kids, only the women, most of the Levites and two and a half percent[4] of the rest made it to Israel.

Only such a small part of the human body (the CNS) is capable of creativity, intuition, innovations and novelties that we call intelligence and memory, emotions, awakeness or sleep, zest or pain, awareness. The rest has to work with an array of existing bodily functions and options, with no creative choices – only instincts.[5]

Only such a small part of the brain is busy with moral, ethical behavior, busy with learning Tora.

Only such a small part of our lives we are able to make a new Free Choice to go against the grain and elevate ourselves.

And this whole Universe was created just for these few moral moments.

We are so lucky. What chance did we really have to end up on Earth of all places, be alive with all this dead weight around, as humans of all life forms, as Jews of all people, learning Tora of all that is interesting, even once having a moral challenge, today of all times. We won the jackpot.

[1]  Also Science holds it a miracle that there are any humans alive today. Almost all of ancient man that they found has no live progeny in our day.

[2] No'ach, his three sons, their four wives and Og. The last is ignored in the Tora text about the Flood, maybe because he never got any children or students, and such a person is considered dead.

[3] Genesis 46:26-7. Excluded in this number are the wives of Abraham's great-grandchildren.

[4]  Every year two and a half percent died on Tisha B'Av, except for the last year in the desert.

[5] Some other parts can also learn (the immune system) but only in matching in descript ways novel antigens, unknown mulecules.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sweet old rain

From Moshe Mordechai!
After Shabbat in Israel we have started asking G^d for rain. Just like a good friend who gives before he is asked, G^d gave us immediately after Sukkot already, including this past wet Shabbat. Interestingly, in Israel we always start asking for rain the week after the reading of the Deluge. Only this time, as we asked on the last day of the Holidays that this rain will be: for life and not death, for blessing and not curse, for wealth and not poverty.

The name of our new month is Cheshvan or Mar-Cheshvan. Mar sometimes means drop: the month in which we hope the clouds start dripping. Popularly it's said also that this month is bitter (Mar) because the month before was so laden with Holidays that we never got to say tachanun, while this month has no Festive days (besides Rosh Chodesh twice) or events (apart from Kiddush l'vana) and no fast days (except for Yom Kippur Kattan) or serious events (excluding the seventh day when we start asking for rain).

Some people don't like to call a month mar, because others could understand that as if we brand a month's fate negatively even before it gets started: bitter. That could be a self-fulfilling prophecy, Heaven forbid. Therefor they call it Ram-Cheshvan. Ram and Mar seem to be opposites again (like other Hebrew words when we change the order of the root letters). Ram means exalted. We don't call hard things bad because they will eventually lead to something good - rather, we call them bitter. When our viewpoint is high enough (ram) nothing will look bitter anymore (mar).

Some people think rain falls from above. In fact it starts on earth. G^d has set up things is such that when people pray for rain the water can come down. This has been the case from the very start of the planet. When the world was still young there had not been any rain yet (Genesis 2:5), just mist to water the surface (2:6) because man hadn't worked the earth (2:5). The work the Tora refers to here, is of course the work of the heart: prayer. When Adam appeared he realized the need for rain, prayed and the rain started and the trees and the grasses sprouted forth past the surface (Rashi 2:5). It's the oldest prayer in the world it seems.

Have a good week, month and winter,


Thursday, October 26, 2006

The value of a friendly hello

From my friend Fred M.:
Shmuel (Sammy) Braun (not his real name), the owner of a ritual slaughter plant in Argentina, was generally the last person to leave every night. The entire area was surrounded by a tall chain link fence and everyone entered through a wrought iron gate in the front, near the parking lot. The guard at the front gate, Domingo, knew that when Sammy left in the evening, he could lock the gate and go home.
One evening as Sammy was leaving, he called out to the guard, "Good night, Domingo, you can lock up and go."
"No," Domingo called back, "not everyone has left yet."
"What are you talking about," Sammy said, "everyone left two hours ago!" "It is not so," Domingo said, "One of the shochtim (ritual slaughterers), Rabbi Berkowitz, hasn't left yet."
"But he goes home every day with the other shochtim, maybe you just didn't see him," Sammy said.
"Believe me, I am positive he didn't leave yet," the guard insisted. "We better go look for him."
Sammy knew that Domingo was reliable. He decided not to argue, but instead got out of his car and rushed back to the office building with Domingo. They searched the dressing room for Rabbi Berkowitz. He wasn't there.
They ran to where the animals were slaughtered, but he wasn't there either. They searched the truck dock, then the packing house, going from room to room. Finally they came to the huge walk-in freezer where the large slabs of meat were kept frozen. They opened the door and to their shock and horror they saw Rabbi Berkowitz rolling on the floor, trying desperately to keep himself warm. They ran over to him, lifted him off the floor and helped him out of the freezer, past the thick heavy door that had locked behind him. They wrapped blankets around him and made sure he was warm and comfortable.
Sammy Braun was incredulous. "Domingo," he asked, "how did you know Rabbi Berkowitz hadn't left? There are over two hundred workers here every day. Don't tell me you know the comings and goings of every one of them?"
The guard's answer is worth remembering.
"Every morning when that rabbi comes in, he greets me and says hello. He makes me feel like a person. And every single night when he leaves he tells me, 'Have a pleasant evening.' He never misses a night - and to tell you the truth, I wait for his kind words. Dozens and dozens of workers pass me every day - morning and night, and they don't say a word to me. To them I am a nothing. To him, I am a somebody.
"I knew he came in this morning and I was sure he hadn't left yet, because I was waiting for his friendly good-bye for the evening!"
It was Rabbi Berkowitz's genuine regard for another human being that literally saved his life.     (The foregoing true story is documented in Reflections of the Maggid by Rabbi Paysach Krohn, published by Artscroll.)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Parashat B'reishit: G^d loves us all greatly

Another post by my friend Moshe Mordechai

G^d loves us all greatly

Watch out for people and thoughts that portray G^d as angry or furious.

1)     He created the World for us, to do us good in the best possible way.

2)     He's a thousand times more merciful than strict.

3)     All Evil leads to good and if the end is good all will be good.

So there is no greater Benefactor and cannot be any bigger Giver than Him.


Sometimes the idea of G^d's wrath in Jewish circles could come from outside.

1)     According to most Christian outlooks, it's very hard to bring holiness to earth.

2)     Most Muslims learn that G^d is all powerful and Man just His pawn.

3)     Gentiles don't have Yom Kippur.

Three good reasons to feel a failure, tremendous guilt and see G^d as displeased.

We Jews should know better and teach the opposite to all.


It says nowhere in the Creation Story that G^d punished Adam and Eve.

Maybe He only pointed out the consequences of their actions.

Maybe he drove them out of the Garden for their own good (that they would not eat from the Tree of Life too, since the combination would have destroyed goodness).

Maybe they didn't commit any Evil. They disobeyed, but maybe for His sake, since they foresaw that such action would lead to billions of people serving Him.

Or maybe they did something stupid (in Judaism every Sin is just done in folly).

And then maybe they got a punishment, but as atonement to repair it.

G^d never inflicts pain because He's out of control or sadistic, Heaven forbid.

He made garments for Adam and Eve and clothed them.


Some people at some times in their lives need to learn to be in Awe for G^d.

Some people at some times in their lives need to learn to love G^d.

Most people need most of the times to be in trepidation & love with G^d all at once.

But whatever we need or do – He loves us, wants the best for us, is our Father.

Yes, He's also our King. But not an angry One – rather One to serve His people.

Yes, He needs us to serve Him, but for our good, our development and flourishing.

He's only teaching us. Each of us is unique and needs to learn specific things.

He's a loving, patient, capable, personable, humorous, fun Teacher.

No need to be scared. We can go to this School lifelong and love it.

Let's not forget to say thank You.

For our sake (building of character): He doesn't need us as much as we need Him.

But we are the apple of His eye: in general He's pleased with us. He believes in us.

He's our biggest Supporter, our most dedicated Fan, our proudest Relative.


Anger is in the eye of the beholder. When it helps us grow we should see it.

But when His irritancy would shut us down, we should ignore it.

A tree is known by its fruit. If anger just brings us down it can't be G^d's anger.

It has to be the Satan's, teaches us the Baal Shem Tov.


Have a good week and a great Month!


Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Naked Truth

Another article by my friend Moshe Mordechai for this week of the Breishit Torah reading.

There is a Hebrew word that appears a lot in the first Section of the Tora: arum, and its derivatives. When it relates to Adam and Eve and later others it's translated naked, when it concerns the snake it's construed as clever, cunning, and when it applies to inanimate objects later on in the Tora it's explained as to stack. Rabbiner Hirsch sought to find one source for all of them; he clarifies that if you add small deception on small deception you get cunning. But nude seems farther away then ever.


Since the arum people and the arum snake are in successive verses (2:25, 3:1), I thought to find a common understanding for this Hebrew word. (I don't imply that there has to be one meaning to the same word in different settings. The same word can even mean different things in one verse, as a word does in verse 3:5, according to most Commentators and to Jewish Law; the second keilohim means as rulers, the first Ellokim means: the strict G^d.)


I changed the order of the Root Letters of arum and got meira': from Evil. As in the above examples this should then be the opposite of arum. The opposite from this is: innocent, which then should be the meaning of arum. This translation works in all the verses. Adam and Eve were not ashamed because they were innocent (2:25). The snake appeared innocent - it had nothing of the wild beasts (3:1). Adam and Eve realized that they had been innocent (but not anymore) (3:7, 10 and 11). (In the last verse Mi (Who) refers to G^d as in Mi chamocha... (Who is as You...): It was Me that told you not to eat from that tree.) The walls of water that G^d erected to pour over the pursuing Egyptian army He purified with the airflow of His nose (so to speak) (Exodus 15:8), maybe (like we poor water over our hands in the morning) so that the spoils would be free of tumat hamet: death's impurity, so that we could pick them up freely. Capital punishment for the deliberate murderer who acts innocently (Exodus 21:14).


Now, I have no doubt that arum also means without clothes, not only without Sins. Is there any connection between naked and innocent? Sure there is. It's only four hundred years ago that wealthy gentlemen had their portrait done in the nude. They were not trying to seduce anyone, Heaven forbid--to the contrary. Nude here meant: I'm innocent, I have nothing to hide. And from Jewish life: when David the Sweet Singer of Israel dances with all his might (2 Samuel 6:14) the Midrash (Bamidbar Rabba 4:20) explains that his flesh got exposed but it didn't disturb him. I say: he had nothing to hide.


I just couldn't imagine that no one had found the commonality between innocently naked (Adam and Eve) and feigning to be innocent (snake) in the first section of the Tora. As we learn from Ethics of the Fathers I found someone who basically brings the same idea: Rabbi Psychiatrist Michael Bernstein in his Windows to the Soul (2000): cunningness works through pretending to have nothing to hide.


Last but not least, the Blessing acknowledging that G^d clothes the naked that we say early every morning. I like to remember that this means that for Him we're then still in the nude, although He clothed us. (Likewise He makes the blind see: whatever we see, we are still greatly blind compared to Him or to what we should be able to see.) Could this Dedication now also mean that G^d clothes the innocent? He made the first clothes for Adam and Eve. In a way they stayed innocent and so are we. Especially after we are serviced at night: cleaned up from Sin, in Heaven, so that we can start the day with a clean slate, and be our true selves.

Have a good week and a great Month!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Book of Life

This article was written by my friend Jonathan Feldstein, the Israel representative of American Friends of Magen David Adom. I found it touching.


The Book of Life

In memory of Nathan and Ruth Feldstein

by Jonathan, a devoted and wiser son

no1abba [at] gmail.com


I have looked at the High Holidays very differently this year.  It’s already the beginning of my third year in Israel so I am not sure that it has to do with aliyah.  I crossed “the big 40” almost two years ago so that milestone is a faint memory.  I have been wondering what has shaped this new feeling and keep coming back to one word and idea: Death.


As I have gone through the daily prayers during Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashana, Rosh Hashana itself, and the Ten Days of Repentance until Yom Kippur, I am more mindful (perhaps than ever) of the tone of the prayer.  We devote ourselves to God and to keeping His commandments, but more now than during the whole year we have to reflect on our shortcomings and strive to do better in the coming year.  We beseech God to be inscribed for a year of health, prosperity, peace and life. 


And in going through this process we are aware that as much as He is the final Judge, the outcome of that judgment is in our own hands. How we behave, how we observe God’s commandments, and how we interact with others all factor into the sealing of our fate for the coming year.


Back to death.  The graves are still fresh for some 150 Israelis killed during the war this past summer, as well as other victims of terror in the past year.  Practically, Israel has gone back to life as normal.  Yet just below the surface, the scar is still not healed, and healing will take some time, perhaps even years.  For the thousands who lost a father, mother, child, grand parent, uncle, aunt, cousin, close friend or army buddy, I can only project that this is a time of great pain. 


The Holidays are supposed to be a time of great joy, as well as introspection and prayer.  Far too many Israeli homes will have an empty seat at the table this year and that is a hard thing to face, in general, and especially for those experiencing death and loss for the first time. For those paying attention to the prayers, there must be many among them who say the words, but do so with the feeling of a bone in one’s throat.  They wonder as they mourn, praying for health, life, peace, an annulment of harsh judgments, how God could have taken their loved one.  They weep over the many ways we see that death can happen: fire, water, thirst, hunger, etc. and wonder how God could have allowed that Katyusha to kill the way it did or the terrorist to be on target at that very moment. 


Others I am sure cannot even utter the words for they are too painful.


It often rings hollow when someone who loses a loved one is comforted by someone who says “I know how you feel.”  That’s impossible, and sometimes harsh, even if the words are said with the best intent. Every loss is different, and each person deals with his or her loss individually. 


Ten years ago I went through a similar conflict.  My father had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer some ten months earlier.  We were told that by being diagnosed so early, he stood a better chance to survive if the treatments were successful, even though the survival rate from pancreatic cancer was a fraction of a percent.  But after successive hospitalizations and surgeries, all the doctors told us there was no hope.  I watched him decline physically, and I was probably in denial even until the very end.  He came home from his final hospitalization just before Rosh Hashana 1996, and my mother had the good sense to call Hospice to be sure that his final days were lived in comfort and with as much dignity as possible. 


The Holidays in 1996 fell out the same as they do this year, beginning on a Friday.  Living in the US, each time my wife lit candles to usher in another two day yom tov when we would be detached from news and communication with the outside world, my physiology changed.  I feared that my father would die and I would not know about it for a day or two after. 


Sitting in shul was about all I could do.  I felt it was dishonest to follow a ritual of prayer that asked to heal the sick, annul judgments against us and to be inscribed in the book of life.  My father lay dying, he could have been dead for all I knew, and my head and heart were not in it at all.  I am sure I was angry.  My faith hit rock bottom, and my grief was profound.


We were blessed during that time with an interruption of the pain in the birth of our third daughter.  She was a joy to behold, and to hold.  I argued with my wife that we should adopt the Sephardi custom of naming for the living rather than the Ashkenazi custom that we name for those who have died.  She won, and she was right.  But even in the minutes after she was born, as the whole world was filled with joy and happiness at her arrival, I was overcome by sadness and grief that she and my father would never get to know each other. 


My father did get to meet her and hold her twice.  He was clearly in awe, and fell in love with her instantly as he had with his other two grand daughters before that.  But I stared on in pain because it was just not fair that these two opposite sides of the life cycle should come together like this. 


My grief, anger and fear increased as Yom Kippur ended and Sukkot began. I wondered in a very strange way WHAT I HAD DONE to deserve the punishment of my father’s death.  How could God punish me like this? 


Even as he lay unconscious from the increased medication to ease his pain, I was in shock, and definitely a part of me was in denial.  My father died on the 27th of the Hebrew month Tishrei, days after Simchat Torah when we literally renew the cycle of reading the Torah.  The Torah ends, and we begin reading it again from the start.  Moshe dies after leading the Jewish people for 40 years, and then God creates life.  There is no pause, no break in the reading from one week to the next as is done during the year.  Many brighter than I have commented on this, but in its most simple form, this underscores that life itself is a cycle.


It has taken me the better part of ten years to realize this, celebrating my daughter’s 10th birthday as we approach my father’s tenth Yahrzeit.  This past summer, my mother died somewhat suddenly.  Over the course of these ten years we had the occasion to speak about death more than a few times.  My fear of death has gone, and grief this time is very different. Maybe it’s not having living parents any more that has enabled me to crystallize these thoughts.  My mother’s healthy approach to living, not simply the state of being alive but doing something meaningful and productive with that time, however little or long we are given, is an inspiration for me.  I know that she, and my father as well, would not want their death to be the end of our living. 


As much as the grief and sense of loss has never gone away from my father’s death, and that it has been renewed by my mother’s death, I am older and wiser and know that rather than my being punished, I was given the privilege of wonderful parents and many blessings along my life so far.  I am happily married, raising six extraordinary children, and live in a beautiful home in the heart of Israel. My work is meaningful and enjoyable.  I have the ability to give tzedaka rather than be on the receiving end.  I have health and many talents with which I can help others.  I do hope that I will be able to live a long time to enjoy these blessings and impart to my children these and many other wisdoms that will enable them to live and celebrate life fully.


At my mother’s funeral, I spoke about the saddest part of the Torah, for me at least.  That’s the death of Moshe.  He was the leader, the teacher, the inspiration that God chose and who the Jewish people followed to begin life again as free people in our own land.  His death must have been met with a level of grief that was simply unknown until then.  That’s how I felt at my mother’s death, the end of a generation and passing of the torch to a new generation.  It is a scary, sad and challenging thought to realize that you no longer have parents to fall back upon for support, unconditional love, wisdom and advice.  And how much more so it must have been for the Jewish people to realize the awesome task of going forward without their leader.


This year, I have been reading the ending of the Torah with a new perspective.  In two weeks we’ll read of Moshe’s death, but what is happening now, building up to that point, is he is preparing the people to go on without him.  He’s reminding them what he taught them before.  He is training a new leader to follow in his place.  And he is giving us inspiration and hope that as hard as things may get, everything will turn out alright. 


It has taken ten years, but I realize that now.  my father’s death ten years ago, and my mothers death just over three months ago were the saddest days of my life.  Days and events that have shaken the foundation, but ultimately reaffirmed that which I already know.  That which they imparted in me.  The grief and loss are still palpable, but I also understand now that life does go on, that everything will be OK, and that this is part of the cycle of life, albeit that I would have rather experienced as a much older person. 


For those in Israel who mourn the victims of the past year’s war and terror attacks, as hard as it is now, hopefully they will come to this point as well.


May we all be sealed in the Book of Life, and for those who are not, may their survivors have comfort and understanding, and the strength and courage to move on in living.  Through living, we celebrate the memory of those who have left us physically, but who will never stop being part of us.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hebrew Letters: More Than Meets the "i"

This post is in response to the article at bridgesforpeace.com's latest Israel Learning Letter:

Dear Ms. Brimmer,
I just finished reading the most recent edition of the Israel Teaching Letter, "Things I Have Learned In Israel." Like most of the Letters I read (I have been subscribing for about a half a year now), I find it to be an excellent resource. As an Orthodox Jew, I am very pleased to know about this publication, which in my opinion is one of the best connectors between Jews and Christians, something that is so imperative today.

I had a few comments on this specific article:

In "Jot and Tittle," you bring the tiny stroke of the Daled as opposed to the Resh as an example of the small details of the Torah. I found it interesting that you brought these two these letters, as just this example is brought by our Sages (Tanhuma) to emphasize how important it is to be careful about details: The well known verse "Hear O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is One" ends with the letter daled ("Hashem Echad"). If that tittle is left off the last letter, the last part of that verse reads "Hashem Acher" - the Lord is Another. The difference between the foundation of belief and heresy is only a "tiny little stroke."

Furthermore, you pointed out the utmost care taken by a ritual scribe to make sure that he makes no mistakes. This is not only to make sure that he fetches the best price for his handiwork. If a single letter in the Torah scroll is broken or mistaken, the entire Torah is ritually invalid! And there are 304,805 letters in a Torah, not counting the spaces, which are just as important! This means that if a scribal mistake is discovered during the course of the reading of the weekly portion, the entire congregation will have to wait until a different scroll is brought to the table, and if there is none, the ritual reading is stopped! And not only must the writing of the Torah be pristine, the sing-song reading must be flawless as well. This is especially difficult, as the Torah is written with no cantillation marks (musical notations), no punctuation marks, and even no vowels! Any mistake in the reading, however slight, will cause the attentive congregation to interrupt the reader and make him reread the section. If the mistake was at the beginning of the portion but was only pointed out towards its end, the entire portion must be re-read! As you alluded, such reverence for the Word is largely what kept the Jewish People alive through the millennia.

In your last paragraph ("Hebrew Letters Used As Numbers"), you once again bring an example which has (unplanned?) significance: "Every Hebrew letter has a numerical equivalent... (example: כו = 26)." While the later example you brought (chai = life) is perhaps better known, 26 is a much more significant number. It is the value of the letters Yod, Hei, Vav, and Hei, which spell out Jeho-vah, ineffable God's unpronounced Name.

To conclude, I can only echo your own closing words, encouraging your readers to study the Bible, Hebrew and Israel. I would be very happy to field questions and be a study partner with any of your readers who would be interested.

Thanks and God Bless,
Gidon Ariel
Co-Founder, Holy City Prayer Society
jerusalem@holycityprayer.com 054-5665037
Get our free e-newsletter: "Prayers and Thoughts from Jerusalem"
Send a blank message to prayers@aweber.com
Please join our Society! http://www.holycityprayer.com/join.html

Parashat B'reishit: The Seal of Truth

Another submission by my prolific friend, Moshe-Mordechai:
Dear friend,
my favorite Portion of the week: B'reishit.
Hebrew words are built from Roots plus additional Letters. The Root Letters give the essence of a thing. If William Shakespeare would have written in Hebrew he could never have written: What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet. (Romeo and Juliet act II, sc. ii).
Often when the Root Letters are put in a different order the word means the opposite. Example: To the extent that we lie (sheker) to someone we disconnect (connection: kesher) from that person.
Many a poet and author in general has written his name via an acrostic or similar construction into the beginning or the end of the products of their pens. The last Letter of each of the first three Words of the Hebrew Bible form the word Truth (emet). Truth is the Seal of G^d, the Sages teach us. If you rearrange these three Letters you get you guys (atem). G^d wrote the Torah - not you guys.

Have a great winter!

Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden

Monday, October 16, 2006

B'reishit: not perfect

A D'var Torah (Words of Wisdom) from my friend Moshe Mordechai Van Zuiden

Dear friend,
my favorite Portion of the week: B'reishit. I count 5 chiddushim below. And you?

On day One G^d said it was good. It wasn't perfect - He had to store away the holiest of light for the Righteous in a future era so that wicked people wouldn't abuse it.

On the Second day a quarrel broke out between the waters. The water below wanted to be close to G^d too. And although that get the comfort to be used for fulfillment of Commandments, till this very day every rain drop still needs His push to go down or it wouldn't (He makes the wind blow and the rain fall). Although this strife was for the sake of Heaven (l'shem sha-ma-yim), it was still one of the reasons not even to say that it was good - let alone perfect.

On the Third day He said twice that it was good. Still, that day the fruit trees should have produced fruit, but the Earth disobeyed: the trees produced the fruit. The whole tree should have tasted like its fruit but the earth revolted and let only the citron tree do what was ordered. This it did so that Man's Primal Sin wouldn't be the first or stand out so much, so again it did it for the sake of Heaven. Still it was a Sin so after Man's Sin the Earth became accursed. (The citron was (according to one opinion) the tree (not: fruit!)that Eve saw was good for eating. It stood out in it's perfection and then got used for sinning.) A scene far from perfect.

On the Fourth day G^d said again that it was good. That day the moon complained that it wanted more power than the sun. It got it, because it lights by day and by night, but as punishment was made smaller. You call this perfect?
On the Fifth day the L^rd said again that it was good. This despite the fact that the water creatures got a blessing that they would be fruitful, which seems just a wonderful thing but turned out to have a down side: their numbers are so great that it doesn't matter who lives and how many survive. I wouldn't call this perfect.

On the Six day G^d said it was very good. Because Man, although created in His Image, got the possibility to internalize an Evil Inclination, so that s/he could waver and choose Life. The end to the sole existence of one track minded creatures: rain that falls (never goes up), trees that grow up, animals that procreate - finally a being that can choose. Not perfect. Not meant to be perfect. Meant to actively perfect the world and himself by volition. In tandem with G^d.

Very good if you ask me.

Have a great winter!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Blessings For A New Year!

A little early to wish one another a happy new year?

We in Israel are always ahead of the pack.

Yesterday, we completed the set of the Tishrei holidays, which started with the month of Compassion and Forgiveness, called Elul. This segued into Rosh Hashana, the New Year holiday, celebrated for two days, comemmorating the creation of the world, followed by ten days of repentence and culminating in Yom Kippur. Four days of "rest" followed (spent running around preparing for the next holiday), and then the Feast of Tabernacles, known as Sukkot. The last day of Sukkot is actually a holiday all on its own, called the Eighth Day of Holiday in the Torah and Simchat Torah recently (that means, for the past eight hundred or so years), and the happiness of the celebration of our love affair with the Word of God is something that must be seen to be understood.

After so much partying, saying goodbye can be a bit of a downer. Thank God there is Shabbat!