Category Archives: Religion

It’s just a Dream – Vayetze

This week’s madlik podcast:

What if the Hebrew Bible was just a dream? What happens if not only the narrative elements, but even the development of the law is taken as a dream sequence…. An unending imaginative visitation with ideas, concepts and laws that continue to challenge us? How would that change its meaning and relevance?  Would we study it differently?  Let’s take our ques from the great Maimonides and the Rabbis of the Talmud….

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Listen to the madlik podcast:


Notes:

 

Guide for the Perplexed 48 http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/gfp/gfp129.htm

Book II CHAPTER XLII

WE have already shown that the appearance or speech of an angel mentioned in Scripture took place in a vision or dream; it makes no difference whether this is expressly stated or not, as we have explained above. This is a point of considerable importance. In some cases the account begins by stating that the prophet saw an angel; in others, the account apparently introduces a human being, who ultimately is shown to be an angel; but it makes no difference, for if the fact that an angel has been heard is only mentioned at the end, you may rest satisfied that the whole account from the beginning describes a prophetic vision. In such visions, a prophet either sees God who speaks to him, as will be explained by us, or he sees an angel who speaks to him, or he hears some one speaking to him without seeing the speaker, or he sees a man who speaks to him, and learns afterwards that the speaker was an angel. In this latter kind of prophecies, the prophet relates that he saw a man who was doing or saying something, and that he learnt afterwards that it was an angel.

This important principle was adopted by one of our Sages, one of the most distinguished among them, R. Ḥiya the Great (Bereshit Rabba, xlviii 48.), in the exposition of the Scriptural passage commencing, “And the Lord appeared unto him in the plain of Mamre” (Gen. xviii.). The general statement that the Lord appeared to Abraham is followed by the description in what manner that appearance of the Lord took place; namely, Abraham saw first three men; he ran and spoke to them. R. Hiya, the author of the explanation, holds that the words of Abraham, “My Lord, if now I have found grace in thy sight, do not, I pray thee, pass from thy servant,” were spoken by him in a prophetic vision to one of the men; for he says that Abraham addressed these words to the chief of these men. Note this well, for it is one of the great mysteries [of the Law]. The same, I hold, is the case when it is said in reference to Jacob, “And a man wrestled with him” (Gen. xxxii. 25); this took place in a prophetic vision, since it is expressly stated in the end (ver. 31) that it was an angel. The circumstances are here exactly the same as those in the vision of Abraham, where the general statement, “And the Lord appeared to him,” etc., is followed by a detailed description. Similarly the account of the vision of Jacob begins, “And the angels of God met him” (Gen. xxxii. 2); then follows a detailed description how it came to pass that they met him; namely, Jacob sent messengers, and after having prepared and done certain things, “he was left alone,” etc., “and a man wrestled with him” (ibid. ver. 24). By this term “man” [one of] the angels of God is meant, mentioned in the phrase, “And angels of God met him”; the wrestling and speaking was entirely a prophetic vision. That which happened to Balaam on the way, and the speaking of the ass, took place in a prophetic vision, since further on, in the same account, an angel of God is introduced as speaking to Balaam. I also think that what Joshua perceived, when “he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold a man stood before him” (Josh. v. 13) was a prophetic vision, since it is stated afterwards (ver. 14) that it was “the prince of the host of the Lord.” But in the passages, “And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal” (Judges ii. 1); “And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake these words to all Israel” (ibid. ver. 2); the “angel” is, according to the explanation of our Sages, Phineas. They say, The angel is Phineas, for, when the Divine Glory rested upon him, he was “like an angel.” We have already shown (chap. vi.) that the term “angel” is homonymous, and denotes also “prophet,” as is the case in the following passages:–“And He sent an angel, and He hath brought us up out of Egypt” (Num. xx. 16); “Then spake Haggai, the angel of the Lord, in the Lords message” (Hagg. i. 13); “But they mocked the angels of [paragraph continues] God” (2 Chron. xxxvi. 16). Comp. also the words of Daniel, “And the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation” (Dan. ix. 11). All this passed in a prophetic vision. Do not imagine that an angel is seen or his word heard otherwise than in a prophetic vision or prophetic dream, according to the principle laid down:–“I make myself known unto him in a vision, and speak unto him in a dream” (Num. xii. 6). The instances quoted may serve as an illustration of those passages which I do not mention. From the rule laid down by us that prophecy requires preparation, and from our interpretation of the homonym “angel,” you will infer that Hagar, the Egyptian woman, was not a prophetess; also Manoah and his wife were no prophets: for the speech they heard, or imagined they heard, was like the bat-kol (prophetic echo), which is so frequently mentioned by our Sages, and is something that may be experienced by men not prepared for prophecy. The homonymity of the word “angel” misleads in this matter. This is the principal method by which most of the difficult passages in the Bible can be explained. Consider the words, “And an angel of the Lord found her by the well of water” (Gen. xvi. 7), which are similar to the words referring to Joseph–“And a man found him, and behold, he was erring in the field” (ibid. xxxvii. 15). All the Midrashim assume that by man in this passage an angel is meant.

CHAPTER XLI

I NEED not explain what a dream is, but I will explain the meaning of the term mareh, “vision,” which occurs in the passage: “In a vision (be-mareh) do I make myself known unto him” (Num. xii. 6). The term signifies that which is also called mareh ha-nebuah, “prophetic vision,” yad ha-shem, “the hand of God,” and maḥazeh, “a vision.” It is something terrible and fearful which the prophet feels while awake, as is distinctly stated by

Daniel: “And I saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me, for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength” (Dan, x. 8). He afterwards continues, “Thus was I in deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground” (ibid. ver. 9). But it was in a prophetic vision that the angel spoke to him and “set him upon his knees.” Under such circumstances the senses cease to act, and the [Active Intellect] influences the rational faculties, and through them the imaginative faculties, which become perfect and active. Sometimes the prophecy begins with a prophetic vision, the prophet greatly trembles, and is much affected in consequence of the perfect action of the imaginative faculty: and after that the prophecy follows. This was the case with Abraham. The commencement of the prophecy is, “The word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision” (Gen. xv. 1); after this, “a deep sleep fell upon Abraham”; and at last, “he said unto Abraham,” etc. When prophets speak of the fact that they received a prophecy, they say that they received it from an angel, or from God; but even in the latter case it was likewise received through an angel. Our Sages, therefore, explain the words, “And the Lord said unto her” that He spake through an angel. You must know that whenever Scripture relates that the Lord or an angel spoke to a person, this took place in a dream or in a prophetic vision.

Following Chapter: CHAPTER XLIII

WE have already shown in our work that the prophets sometimes prophesy in allegories; they use a term allegorically, and in the same prophecy the meaning of the allegory is given. In our dreams, we sometimes believe that we are awake, and relate a dream to another person, who explains the meaning, and all this goes on while we dream. Our Sages call this “a dream interpreted in a dream.” Babylonian Talmud, Berakot 55b …

Book I Chapter II

….every Hebrew knows that the term Elohim is a homonym, and denotes God, angels, judges, and the rulers of countries,…

Babylonian Talmud 55b

אמר רב חסדא

Rab Hisda said :

כל חלום ולא טוות

[There is no reality in] any dream without a fast.

ואמר רב חסדא

Rab Hisda also said :

חלמא דלא מפשר כאגרתא דלא מקריא

An uninterpreted dream is like an unread letter.

ואמר רב חסדא

Rab Hisda also said :

לא חלמא טבא מקיים כוליה ולא חלמא בישא מקיים כוליה

Neither a good nor a bad dream is fulfilled in every detail.

ואמר רב חסדא

Rab Hisda also said :

חלמא בישא עדיף מחלמא טבא

A bad dream is preferable to a good dream.

וא”ר חסדא

Rab Hisda also said :

חלמא בישא עציבותיה מסתייה חלמא טבא חדויה מסתייה

When a dream is bad, the pain it causes is sufficient [to prevent its fulfilment], and when the dream is good, the joy it brings is sufficient.

אמר רב יוסף

Rab Joseph said :

חלמא טבא אפילו לדידי בדיחותיה מפכחא ליה

As for a good dream, even in my own case, its cheerfulness frustrates it [so that it is not realised].

ואמר רב חסדא

Rab Hisda also said :

חלמא בישא קשה מנגדא שנאמר (קהלת ג, יד) והאלהים עשה שייראו מלפניו ואמר רבה בר בר חנה א”ר יוחנן

A bad dream is worse than scourging ; as it is said, “God hath so made it that men should fear before Him” (Eccles. 3:14), and Rabbah b. Bar Hannah said in the name of R. Johanan :

זה חלום רע

This refers to a bad dream.

(ירמיהו כג, כח) הנביא אשר אתו חלום יספר חלום ואשר דברי אתו ידבר דברי אמת מה לתבן את הבר נאם ה’ וכי מה ענין בר ותבן אצל חלום

“The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream ; and he that hath My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What hath the straw to do with the wheat ? saith the Lord” (Jer. 23:28). What connection has “straw and wheat” with a dream ?

אלא אמר ר’ יוחנן משום ר’ שמעון בן יוחי

But said R. Johanan in the name of R. Simeon b. Johai :

כשם שאי אפשר לבר בלא תבן כך אי אפשר לחלום בלא דברים בטלים

Just as one cannot have wheat without straw, similarly it is impossible for a dream to be without something that is vain.

אמר ר’ ברכיה

Berekiah said :

חלום אף על פי שמקצתו מתקיים כולו אינו מתקיים מנא לן מיוסף דכתיב (בראשית לז, ט) והנה השמש והירח וגו’

A dream, though it be fulfilled in part, is never completely realised. Whence is this learnt? From Joseph; for it is written, “And behold the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down to me” (Gen. 37:9);

One of them commenced and said :

 האי מאן דחזא חלמא ולא ידע מאי חזא ליקום קמי כהני בעידנא דפרסי ידייהו ולימא הכי

He who has seen a dream and knows not what he has seen, let him stand before the Kohanim at the time that they spread their hands [to pronounce the priestly benediction] and utter the following :

רבש”ע אני שלך וחלומותי שלך חלום חלמתי ואיני יודע מה הוא בין שחלמתי אני לעצמי ובין שחלמו לי חבירי ובין שחלמתי על אחרים אם טובים הם חזקם ואמצם כחלומותיו של יוסף ואם צריכים רפואה רפאם כמי מרה על ידי משה רבינו וכמרים מצרעתה וכחזקיהו מחליו וכמי יריחו על ידי אלישע וכשם שהפכת קללת בלעם הרשע לברכה כן הפוך כל חלומותי עלי לטובה ומסיים בהדי כהני דעני צבורא אמן

Lord of the universe ! I am Thine and my dreams are Thine ; a dream have I dreamed and I know not what it is. Whether I dreamed concerning myself, or my fellows dreamed concerning me, or I dreamed concerning others, if they be good dreams, strengthen and fortify them [and may they be fulfilled] like the dreams of Joseph ; but if they require to be remedied, heal them as the waters of Marah [were healed] by the hands of Moses our teacher, as Miriam [was healed] from her leprosy, as Hezekiah from his illness, and like the waters of Jericho [sweetened] by the hands of Elisha. And as Thou didst turn the curse of the wicked Balaam into a blessing, so do Thou turn all my dreams for me into good.” He should conclude [his prayer] simultaneously with the Kohanim, so that the Congregation responds “Amen.”

Musical selection: Neshama Carlebach singing her father’s Beshaim Hashem

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/haneshama-shel-shlomo/id475868578

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A Thanksgiving Meal – סעודת הודיה

This week’s madlik podcast:

This week in the US we will be sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal, so what better opportunity to explore the sources and traditions of a Seuda Hodaah – סעודת הודיה  a thanksgiving meal in the Jewish tradition… and survey a collection of Thanksgiving sermons…. We’ll even explain why turkey is called Hodu… which means “thanks” in Hebrew…

If you like the madlik podcast please subscribe at iTunes.  And for your Andoids, the podcast is now available on Google PlayMusic and Stitcher.  For easy links go to madlik.com

Listen to the madlik podcast:


notes

In the Bible: After the battle of the five kings: Genesis 14: 18


יח
  וּמַלְכִּי-צֶדֶק מֶלֶךְ שָׁלֵם, הוֹצִיא לֶחֶם וָיָיִן; וְהוּא כֹהֵן, לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן.
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was priest of God the Most High.
יט  וַיְבָרְכֵהוּ, וַיֹּאמַר:  בָּרוּךְ אַבְרָם לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן, קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ. 19 And he blessed him, and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth;
כ  וּבָרוּךְ אֵל עֶלְיוֹן, אֲשֶׁר-מִגֵּן צָרֶיךָ בְּיָדֶךָ; וַיִּתֶּן-לוֹ מַעֲשֵׂר, מִכֹּל. 20 and blessed be God the Most High, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.’ And he gave him a tenth of all.
כא  וַיֹּאמֶר מֶלֶךְ-סְדֹם, אֶל-אַבְרָם:  תֶּן-לִי הַנֶּפֶשׁ, וְהָרְכֻשׁ קַח-לָךְ. 21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram: ‘Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.’
כב  וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם, אֶל-מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם:  הֲרִמֹתִי יָדִי אֶל-יְהוָה אֵל עֶלְיוֹן, קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ. 22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom: ‘I have lifted up my hand unto the LORD, God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth,
כג  אִם-מִחוּט וְעַד שְׂרוֹךְ-נַעַל, וְאִם-אֶקַּח מִכָּל-אֲשֶׁר-לָךְ; וְלֹא תֹאמַר, אֲנִי הֶעֱשַׁרְתִּי אֶת-אַבְרָם. 23 that I will not take a thread nor a shoe-latchet nor aught that is thine, lest thou shouldest say: I have made Abram rich;
כד  בִּלְעָדַי, רַק אֲשֶׁר אָכְלוּ הַנְּעָרִים, וְחֵלֶק הָאֲנָשִׁים, אֲשֶׁר הָלְכוּ אִתִּי:  עָנֵר אֶשְׁכֹּל וּמַמְרֵא, הֵם יִקְחוּ חֶלְקָם.  {ס} 24 save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, let them take their portion.’ {S}

RASHI:

And Malchizedek: The Midrash Aggadah (Targum Jonathan, Ned. 32b, Mid. Ps. 76:3) states that he was Shem, the son of Noah.   ומלכי צדק: מדרש אגדה הוא שם בן נח:

 

The weaning of Isaac:

Genesis 21: 8

8 And the child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

                                חוַיִּגְדַּ֥ל הַיֶּ֖לֶד וַיִּגָּמַ֑ל וַיַּ֤עַשׂ אַבְרָהָם֙ מִשְׁתֶּ֣ה גָד֔וֹל בְּי֖וֹם הִגָּמֵ֥ל אֶת־יִצְחָֽק

RASHI: a great feast: for all the prominent people of the generation were there: Shem, Eber, and Abimelech. — [from Tan. Buber, Vayishlach 23] Cf. Gen. Rabbah 53:10.

 

משתה גדול: שהיו שם גדולי הדור, שם ועבר ואבימלך

חיי אדם כלל קנ”ה סעיף מ”א ומשנה ברורה סי’ תר”ע סק”ט בשם המהרש”ל

The Thanksgiving Sacrifice: Leviticus


יב
  אִם עַל-תּוֹדָה, יַקְרִיבֶנּוּ–וְהִקְרִיב עַל-זֶבַח הַתּוֹדָה חַלּוֹת מַצּוֹת בְּלוּלֹת בַּשֶּׁמֶן, וּרְקִיקֵי מַצּוֹת מְשֻׁחִים בַּשָּׁמֶן; וְסֹלֶת מֻרְבֶּכֶת, חַלֹּת בְּלוּלֹת בַּשָּׁמֶן.
12 If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour soaked.

 

 

Vayikra Rabbah 9:7

ר’ אלעזר ור’ יוסי בר חנינא ר’ אלעזר אמר: שלמים הקריבו בני נח. רבי יוסי בר חנינא אמר עולות הקריבו בני נח  …  מתיב ר’ אלעזר לרבי יוסי בר חנינא (שם יח): ויקח יתרו חותן משה עולה וזבחים לאלהים. דא מה עבד לה רבי יוסי בר חנינא? עבד כמאן דאמר לאחר מתן תורה נתגייר יתרו. איפלגו רבי חייא בר אבא ורבי ינאי חד אמר: לאחר מתן תורה נתגייר יתרו. וחד אמר: קודם מתן תורה נתגייר יתרו. אמר רבי הונא: ולא פליגי. מאן דאמר קודם מתן תורה נתגייר יתרו, כמאן דאמר, שלמים הקריבו בני נח.חת

Rabbi Pinchas, Rabbi Levi and Rabbi Yochanan [said] in the name of Rabbi Menachem from Gallia: In the time to come, all sacrifices will be annulled – but the sacrifice of thanksgiving will not be annulled. All prayers will be annulled, but the prayer of gratitude will not be annulled. This accords with what is written [Jeremiah 33:11]: “The voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say ‘Give thanks to the LORD of hosts’ etc.” – this is the prayer of gratitude. “Those who bring [the sacrifice of] thanksgiving to the House of the LORD”: this is the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Thus David said: “I owe You vows and will offer you thanksgivings” [Psalms 56:13] – not “thanksgiving,” but “thanksgivings,” [indicating both] the thanksgiving prayer and the prayer of gratitude.

In the Talmud: Tractate Berakoth  46a

  1. Zera once was ill. R. Abbahu went to visit him, and made a vow, saying, If the little one with scorched legs1 recovers, I will make a feast for the Rabbis. He did recover, and he made a feast for all the Rabbis.

Modern Times:

Chabad Hasidim celebrate the 19th of Kislev to commemorate the release of the first Lubavitcher Rebbe;  Schneur Zalman from jail…. also considered to be the Rosh Hashana of Chassidus.  Also the day the Rebbe walked out of his room for the first time since his heart attack on shemini atzeret (1978)..for the Chassidim this was huge and still is for they  feel that this day is hodoo of his recovery and hence his subsequent relationship to them. So in this sense- yes, it’s and seuda hodoo despite the length of time. Also 12 tammuz the previous Rebbe release from prison in Russia. (all events that allowed the next frame to occur which leads to today )

The 30th day of Nissan

See a reference in a luach (הלכה יומית) here to the custom to have a  on the anniversary of the UN Vote for the partition of Palestine and the resulting birth of Israel:

א‘ ל‘ ניסן. מה משמעותו של יום העצמאות

יום היום בו הוכרזה המדינה בשנת תש“ח, הינו יום שמחה ותודה לבורא עולם, על הנס הגדול שעשה לנו בהקמת המדינה. אף על פי שאויבנו לא רצו בהקמת המדינה היהודית, הכריזה המועצה הזמנית על הקמת המדינה היהודית, ונחתמה מגילת העצמאות

יש לקיים סעודת הודיה ביום זה, ולברך את ה‘ על כך

Prayers:

See Alan Brill’s: The Book of Doctrines and Opinions: notes on Jewish theology and spirituality.

Service for Thanksgiving Day 1905- In Commemoration of 250 Years of Jews in the US.

by Rev H. Pereira Mendes of the Spanish- Portuguese synagogue of NY offered in 1905 at a special convocation to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the settlement of Jews in the United States.  2005 was 350 years….

 

Throughout the past ages Thou hast carried Israel as on eagles’ wings. From the bondage of Egypt, through the trials of the wilderness, ….From nation to nation Thou didst lead us, until the hand of the oppressor was weakened and the day of human rights began to dawn

Thou hast opened unto us this blessed haven of our beloved land. we lift up our hearts in gratitude to Thee, in that two hundred and fifty years ago Thou didst guide a little band of Israel’s children who, . seeking freedom to worship Thee, found it in a land which, with Thy blessing, became a refuge of freedom and justice for the oppressed of all peoples.

O Lord, look down from Thy holy habitation from heaven and bless this Republic. Preserve it in the liberty which has been proclaimed in the land, and in the righteousness which is its foundation. Bless it with prosperity and peace. May it advance from strength to strength and continue to be a refuge for all who seek its shelter. Imbue all its citizens with a spirit of loyalty to its ideals. May they be ever mindful that the blessings of liberty are safeguarded by obedience to law, and that the prosperity of the nation rests upon trust in Thy goodness and reverence for Thy commandments.

Bless the President and his counselors, the judges, lawgivers, and executives of our county. Put forth upon them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and the spirit of might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. May America become a light to all peoples, teaching the world that righteousness exalteth a nation.

Our Father in Heaven, Who lovest all nations, all men are Thy children. Thou dost apportion tasks to peoples according to their gifts of mind and heart. But all, are revealing Thy marvelous plans for mankind. May the day speedily dawn when Thy kingdom will be established on earth, when nations shall learn war no more, when peace shall be the crowning reward of a world redeemed by justice, and all men shall know Thee, from the greatest unto the least.

————–

Service for Thanksgiving Day 1940 – Rabbi Joseph Lookstein at Kehilath Jeshurun in New York

We thank Thee for the beauty and utility of Thy creations, for the flowers which are the stars of the earth even as the stars are the flowers of heaven; for the fertility of the soil and the abundance of its products; for the food that is borne within its bosom and the waters that flow from its deep and inner fountains; for the air that surrounds all creatures and that holds within its invisible self the secret and power • of life.

Almighty God, we pray that we may remain true to the destiny for which we were created. We pray that the dignity of human per­sonality may be preserved and the reverence of man for man may continue. We pray that the beautiful heavens that Thou didst spread over our heads may not be darkened by the clouds of hate and that the magic carpet which is earth may not be disturbed by the tramp of hostile feet. We pray that man’s inhumanity to man may forever end and that human genius may continue to strive for greater perfection and for nobler fulfillment. Let man come to understand that he is closest to God when he is nearer to man, that he worships at Thy holy throne when he serves Thy creatures and that he is within Thy holy shrine when he is at one with his fellow-beings.
We pray sincerely for America and the ideals of democracy and freedom that are here enshrined. May she be strong to withstand all the currents that assail her and all the forces of evil that would invade her sacred precincts. A tower of light to her own citizenry, may she cast a steady beam and light up all the dark areas of the world and show to a perplexed and straying humanity the path of freedom, of life and of peace.

Rabbi and Congregation.

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to Thee, oh Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

 

Cf Leonard Cohen “if it be your will” 

—————–

1951 The Faith of America: Readings, Songs and Prayers for the Celebration of American Holidays by Mordecai Kaplan; Williams, J. Paul; Kohn, Eugene Kaplan

faith-of-america

 

Intro

THANKSGIVING DAY: a day devoted to a grateful awareness of the blessings of American life. A blessing not appreciated is easily lost. If we take for granted the blessings that we enjoy by virtue of our living in a land of almost boundless opportunities and take no thought to the moral foundation on which the welfare of our people rests, those blessings will sooner or later be lost. Thanksgiving should be used to make us aware of those moral foundations, of our dependence on divine justice and love for the continued enjoyment of the blessings of American life.

Prayer

The Significance of the Day

OUR GOD AND FATHER, it is good to give thanks to Thee and to acknowledge Thy blessings. Only thus

can we savor them to the full. In the hurried pace of our lives and in our preoccupation with the petty and the trivial, we are prone to take Thy gifts for granted. Oblivious of thy bounties, we sinfully waste the opportunities they afford us for living the good life. Therefore, do we set aside this day for thanksgiving.

We thank Thee for the land and for its fruits by which we live. We thank thee for the vigor of body and mind that enables us to exploit the fertility of our country’s fields and forests and the buried treasures of its mineral wealth. We thank Thee for the varied beauty of its landscape, for the grandeur of its mountains, the hospitality of its plains and prairies, and the gleaming vistas of ocean from its coasts.

We thank Thee for the inspiration of our country’s history—for the courage and hardihood that sustained its explorers and pioneers, for the heroism that inspires its fighters for freedom and equality, for the enterprise that builds its teeming cities, for the arts that express the beauty and meaning of its way of life, for the just laws and free institutions that enable its people to work together in peace and harmony.

Grant, O God, in Thy grace, that we may perfect our national life to the measure of Thy bounty. Grateful

for the gifts Thou hast bestowed upon us, may we use them to extend the area of freedom, justice, and good-will among men. May our use of Thy, gifts bear. Witness to mankind that life is good when lived according to Thy benign will, O gracious Giver of all good. AMEN.

————-

George Washington – Thanksgiving Proclamation Issued on October 3, 1789

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us)

———–

In hard times

A THOUGHTFUL MIND will perceive propriety in a service of thanksgiving on the ground, not only of any exceptional benefit, but of the continuance of those ordinary blessings which give its gladness and beauty to life. The preservation of our life itself from casualty or from disease, which might have fallen upon it, is no less a sign of God’s goodness than a narrow escape from what seemed certain death. And so, though any given year may not have been marked by what we should call conspicuous blessings, it is right and proper that we should meet to give thanks for that bounty of heaven which has not failed, for our personal life, and health, and happiness, for the undisturbed serenity and tranquility of our homes, for the maintenance of public order, content and liberty, for the peaceful progress of industry, for the regular and beneficent operations of nature. The hand of God is in all this, as well as in the events which more strikingly exhibit His goodness and His power . . .

The year that is ending has not been what we commonly call a “good” year. It has been rather a bad year in the history of other nations, in business and in politics within our own borders.

How then shall we meet the call which invites us to give thanks today to God for His goodness. We might try to banish from our minds these gloomy facts….
And yet it is more likely to be useful to look at the facts as they are and to ask whether, if we should judge them aright, we should not find, not in spite of them, but in them, traces and tokens of God’s goodness and occasions for praise. We mourn, for example, the decline of our material Prosperity, but it is a shallow view of things which regards material prosperity as an unmixed good for a man or for a nation. The psalmist who said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted,” uttered a truth which finds abundant confirmation in national as well as in personal history. Look at your neighbor whom you knew as a poor boy and who now is worth his millions. . . . He used to be considerate of others, helpful to those who needed help, nobly generous with what little he had to give. Now he seems to think that poverty is a crime, and it is easier to get a flame out of an iceberg than a dollar out of his purse. Once he judged men by their moral character. Now he speaks of them as “worth” whatever their property would sell for in the market. . . . What has made the change in him? Nothing but his success. . . .
And the same thing is equally true of a nation. The unparalleled development of the material resources of the American people in recent years has astonished the world, but it has also awakened the gravest solicitude of thoughtful minds. The ever rising tide of wealth, the vast increase and wide diffusion of luxury, the reckless extravagance and waste which have been common, the senseless rivalry in vulgar display, the growing tyranny of money in the hands of rich men and rich corporations, the wild fever of speculation, the prostitution of public office to an unrestrained desire of wealth, the increased inequality, and, in consequence of this, the deepening animosity of the classes of which society is composed, the swift and shameless spread of corruption in politics, the intrusion into the place of legitimate and honest business of the methods and morals of the gambling room, the growing frequency of gross violations of trust—all these things . . . have come as the direct and inevitable fruit of the era of prosperity which now—for a time at least, is ended. . . .
As you try to gather up your reasons for thanksgiving, do not turn your thoughts away from the things which at first seem dark. . . . Look at them, rather, frankly . . . and see if the goodness and the mercy of God are not manifest in them. So may your sorrows be turned into joy, and your sore disappointment into confident hope. So may you gain the height of adoring trust whereon he stood who long ago declared: “I will bless the Lord at all time: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

  • Edward B. Coe

——-

Turkey

The guinea fowl bears some resemblance to the then-recently found American bird. Though it is native to eastern Africa, the guinea fowl was imported to Europe through the Ottoman Empire and came to be called the turkey-cock or turkey-hen. When settlers in the New World began to send similar-looking fowl back to Europe, they were mistakenly called turkeys.

Every language seems to have radically different names for this bird. The Turkish word is hindi, which literally means “Indian.” The original word in French, coq d’Inde, meant rooster of India, and has since shortened to dinde. These names likely derive from the common misconception that India and the New World were one and the same. In Portuguese, it’s literally a “Peru bird,” and in Malay, it’s called a “Dutch chicken.”

Hodu – India

הֹדוּ Hôdûw, ho’-doo; of foreign origin; Hodu (i.e. Hindustan):—India.

India = “flee away” or ” give ye thanks” Strongs Lexicon H1912

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The land that never has been yet – Lech Lecha

This week’s madlik podcast:

A post election and radical rejection of “Great Again” entitlement and victim-hood and embrace of positive choice

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A journey through Freud, the Hebrew Bible, the classical commentators and modern Near Eastern linguistic scholarship to discover the meaning of the radical Hebrew message of destiny and people-hood…. with a tribute to Leonard Cohen.

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Jewish Boats – Noah

This week’s madlik podcast:

A dialog with dramatist, playwright and philosopher Michael Posnick on the motif of a ship, a place and a time of refuge in the Hebrew Bible, in the poetry and songs of Yehuda Halevi and in the Yiddish poetry of Asher Penn.

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Notes:

The ark-teva as the first temple

Rav sacks:

In one other place in the Torah there is the same emphasis on precise dimensions, namely, Noah’s ark: “So make yourself an ark of cypress wood. Make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around” (Gen. 6: 14-16). The reason is similar to that in the case of the tabernacle. Noah’s ark symbolised the world in its Divinely-constructed order, the order humans had ruined by their violence and corruption. God was about to destroy that world, leaving only Noah, the ark and what it contained as symbols of the vestige of order that remained, on the basis of which God would fashion a new order.

See: http://chiefrabbi.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Terumah-5772.pdf and https://madlik.com/2015/10/17/of-noahs-ark-cathedrals-in-time-and-jewish-ships-parshat-noach/
Menucha temple sanctuary
ט כִּי לֹא-בָאתֶם, עַד-עָתָּה–אֶל-הַמְּנוּחָה, וְאֶל-הַנַּחֲלָה, אֲשֶׁר-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, נֹתֵן לָךְ. 9 for ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth thee.
י וַעֲבַרְתֶּם, אֶת-הַיַּרְדֵּן, וִישַׁבְתֶּם בָּאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם מַנְחִיל אֶתְכֶם; וְהֵנִיחַ לָכֶם מִכָּל-אֹיְבֵיכֶם מִסָּבִיב, וִישַׁבְתֶּם-בֶּטַח. 10 But when ye go over the Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God causeth you to inherit, and He giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety;
יא וְהָיָה הַמָּקוֹם, אֲשֶׁר-יִבְחַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם בּוֹ לְשַׁכֵּן שְׁמוֹ שָׁם–שָׁמָּה תָבִיאוּ, אֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם: עוֹלֹתֵיכֶם וְזִבְחֵיכֶם, מַעְשְׂרֹתֵיכֶם וּתְרֻמַת יֶדְכֶם, וְכֹל מִבְחַר נִדְרֵיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר תִּדְּרוּ לַיהוָה. 11 then it shall come to pass that the place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there, thither shall ye bring all that I command you: your burnt-offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD.
See: http://otzma1.blogspot.com/2011/10/blog-post_25.html

Ark and tabernacle
…. Regarding similarities in the Genesis 1 account of Creation, the Exodus 25ff. account of the building of the Tabernacle, and the account of the building of the ark, Sailhamer writes (J. H. Sailhamer, Genesis, p. 82, see also table on p. 84): Each account has a discernible pattern: God speaks (wayyo’mer/wayedabber), an action is commanded (imperative/jussive), and the command is carried out (wayya’as) according to God’s will (wayehi ken/kaaser siwwah ‘elohim). The key to these similarities lies in the observation that each narrative concludes with a divine blessing (wayebarek, Genesis 1:28, 9:1; Exodus 39:43) and, in the case of the Tabernacle and Noah’s Ark, a divinely ordained covenant (Genesis 6:8; Exodus 34:27; in this regard it is of some importance that later biblical tradition also associated the events of Genesis 1-3 with the making of a divine covenant; cf. Hosea 6:7). Noah, like Moses, followed closely the commands of God and in so doing found salvation and blessing in his covenant.
See: The Ark and the Tent: Temple Symbolism in the Story of Noah [especially notes 134-]

Fortunately, there are those like me, who have Shabbat on the mind and who read the story of Noah’s Ark (Genesis 8) and found Shabbat:
ח וַיְשַׁלַּח אֶת-הַיּוֹנָה, מֵאִתּוֹ–לִרְאוֹת הֲקַלּוּ הַמַּיִם, מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה. 8 And he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground.
ט וְלֹא-מָצְאָה הַיּוֹנָה מָנוֹחַלְכַף-רַגְלָהּ, וַתָּשָׁב אֵלָיו אֶל-הַתֵּבָה–כִּי-מַיִם, עַל-פְּנֵי כָל-הָאָרֶץ; וַיִּשְׁלַח יָדוֹ וַיִּקָּחֶהָ, וַיָּבֵא אֹתָהּ אֵלָיו אֶל-הַתֵּבָה. 9 But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him to the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth; and he put forth his hand, and took her, and brought her in unto him into the ark.
י וַיָּחֶל עוֹד, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים אֲחֵרִים; וַיֹּסֶף שַׁלַּח אֶת-הַיּוֹנָה, מִן-הַתֵּבָה. 10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark.
יא וַתָּבֹא אֵלָיו הַיּוֹנָה לְעֵת עֶרֶב, וְהִנֵּה עֲלֵה-זַיִת טָרָף בְּפִיהָ; וַיֵּדַע נֹחַ, כִּי-קַלּוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ. 11 And the dove came in to him at eventide; and lo in her mouth an olive-leaf freshly plucked; so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.
יב וַיִּיָּחֶל עוֹד, שִׁבְעַת יָמִיםאֲחֵרִים; וַיְשַׁלַּח, אֶת-הַיּוֹנָה, וְלֹא-יָסְפָה שׁוּב-אֵלָיו, עוֹד. 12 And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; and she returned not again unto him any more.
——
The Kuzari – In Defense of the Despised Faith
Yom Shabbaton

יוֹם שַבָּתוֹן

יוֹם שַׁבָּתוֹן אֵין לִשְׁכּֽוֹחַ, זִכְרוֹ כְּרֵֽיחַ הַנִּיחֹֽחַ,
יוֹנָה מָצְאָה בוֹ מָנֽוֹחַ, וְשָׁם יָנֽוּחוּ יְגִֽיעֵי כֹֽחַ.

היוֹם נִכְבָּד לִבְנֵי אֱמוּנִים, זְהִירִים לְשָׁמְרוֹ אָבוֹת וּבָנִים,
חָקוּק בִּשְׁנֵי לֻחוֹת אֲבָנִים, מֵרֹב אוֹנִים וְאַמִּיץ כֹּֽחַ.
יוֹנָה מָצְאָה בוֹ מָנֽוֹחַ, וְשָׁם יָנֽוּחוּ יְגִֽיעֵי כֹֽחַ.

וּבָֽאוּ כֻלָּם בִּבְרִית יַֽחַד, נַעֲשֶׂה וְנִשְׁמָע אָמְרוּ כְּאֶחָד,
וּפָתְחוּ וְעָנוּ יְיָ אֶחָד, בָּרוּךְ הַנּוֹתֵן לַיָּעֵף כֹּֽח.
יוֹנָה מָצְאָה בוֹ מָנֽוֹחַ, וְשָׁם יָנֽוּחוּ יְגִֽיעֵי כֹֽחַ.

דִּבֶּר בְּקָדְשׁוֹ בְּהַר הַמּוֹר, יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי זָכוֹר וְשָׁמוֹר,
וְכָל פִּקּוּדָיו יַֽחַד לִגְמוֹר, חַזֵּק מָתְנַֽיִם וְאַמֵּץ כֹּֽח.
יוֹנָה מָצְאָה בוֹ מָנֽוֹחַ, וְשָׁם יָנֽוּחוּ יְגִֽיעֵי כֹֽחַ.

הָעָם אֲשֶׁר נָע כַּצֹּאן תָּעָה, יִזְכּוֹר לְפָקְדוֹ בְּרִית וּשְׁבוּעָה,
לְבַל יַעֲבָר בָּם מִקְרֵה רָעָה, כַּאֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּֽעְתָּ עַל מֵי נֹֽחַ.
יוֹנָה מָצְאָה בוֹ מָנֽוֹחַ, וְשָׁם יָנֽוּחוּ יְגִֽיעֵי כֹֽחַ.

Translation:
Fragrant thy memories, O sweet Sabbath day,
Fragrant as incense, never to fade away;
The wandering dove doth find her nest
In thee, the toilers cease their weary quest.

Deep in thy children’s hearts enshrined lies thy fame.
Sires and sons faithful, linked, thy love proclaim,
Linked thy love proclaim.
Strong, in ne’er-waning might, He graved thy name;
Graved on twin tablets, still stands His sure behest.

The wandering dove doth find her nest
In thee, the toilers cease their weary quest.

Then to His covenant, abiding in stone,
‘We will swear fealty’ answered they all as one,
Answered they all as one.
‘He is our Lord’ they cried, ‘eternal His throne,’
Peace to all care-worn He granteth, His name be blest.

The wandering dove doth find her nest
In thee, the toilers cease their weary quest.

Once on Moriah’s peak He bade His folk heed;
‘Keep ye my Sabbaths, hallowed in word and deed,
Hallowed in word and deed.
Sacred her precepts all, for you, for your seed,
Strengthen the feeble, comfort my folk oppressed.’

The wandering dove doth find her nest
In thee, the toilers cease their weary quest.

We are Thy chosen flock, remember us still.
Long have we wandered, O soon Thine oath fulfil,
O soon Thine oath fulfil.
Thou who did’st calm the flood, preserve us from ill,
Safe in green pastures, safe by the brooks to rest.

The wandering dove doth find her nest
In thee, the toilers cease their weary quest.

Translation by Herbert Loewe, Mediaeval Hebrew Minstrelsy, Songs for the Bride Queen’s Feast, published 1926.
See: http://www.zemirotdatabase.org/view_song.php?id=55

Di yiddishe shif

Ich hob gelerent tzu shifn, tsu tsaich’nen
Shifn far kreig un far frid’n.
Di tzeit iz shoyn raif
Efshr toizenter yor’n
Tzu boyen a shif
Far farvoglte idin.

A shif gor bazunder
A plan gor a nayer
Loit der letzter technik un modern,
A shif, vos zol shvimen tif unter’n vaser
Un zol kenen oich fliyen
Heit iber di shter’n

A shif gor a naiye
Far a folk gor an alten
Vos hot shoyn nit einmol
In yam zich getrinken,
Getrib’n gevor’n fun alerlay breg’n
Vi kretzike shtoshures
Gevor’n gezinken

A shif vel ich boyen
Far eich, meine brider
Ir vogler fun “shturme” un fun “st louis”.
Vos oif ayere kep
Iz gefal’n der tzor’n
Fun alle vampir’n
Un chayus royus.

A shif vel ich shaf’n
A flot gor a gantz’n,
Tif oif dem opgrunt
Vel ich im bahalt’n
Er vet kum’n aich dinen
Ven er vet derher’n
Dem ruf fun dem idish’n vogler
Der alten.

I learned how to design ships
Warships and pleasure ships.
Now after thousands of years
It is time to build a ship for the wandering Jews.

A wondrous ship, with a brand new design
With all the latest modern technology
A ship that can swim deep under water
And soar over the stars.

A new ship for a very old people
Who have more than once been swallowed by the sea,
Hounded from shore to shore
And drowned like scab-ridden rats.

I will build you a ship, my brothers,
Refugees from the Shturme and the St Louis
Upon whose heads has fallen the rage
Of all the vampires and wild beasts

I will build you a ship,
An entire fleet,
And I will hide it deep in the depths of the sea;
It will come to save you,
When it hears the cry of the ancient wandering Jews.

Asher Penn – 1943

Di yiddishe shif (tango)

Am
5/4 Ich hob gelerent zich shifn, tsu tsaich’— / 2/4 nen. Shifn far/
B7 E7
2/4 kreig un far /4/4 frid’n. Di /
Am
4/4 tzeit iz shoyn raif efshr toizenter / yo—-r’n. Tzu /
B7 Adim
boyen a shif Far farvoglte /
E7
4/4 i—din./ A/

Am
5/4 shif gor bazunder, a plan gor a na——/ 2/4 yer. Loit der /
B7 E7
3/4 letzter technik un mo –/2/4 dern, A
Am
5/4 A shif, vos zol shvimen tif unter’n va——/ 2/4 ser, un zol /
B7
4/4 kenen oich fliyen heit iber di
E7
4/4 shter’n A /

CHORUS
Am A7 Dm
4/4 shif gor a naiye far a /folk gor an al—-/ 2/4 ten. Vos /
E7 Am
4/4 hot shoyn nit einmol in / yam zich getrin–/ 2/4 ken, ge
A7 Dm
4/4 trib’n gevor’n fun alerlay bre—-/ 2/4 g’n, vi
B7 E7
4/4 kretzike shtoshures gevor’n gezin—-/ ken A /
Am
5/4 shif vel ich boyen far eich, meine bri—–/ 2/4/der. Ir
A7 D7
3/4 vogler fun “shturme” un fun “st / 4/4 louis”. Vos /
Am
5/4 oif ayere kep iz gefal’n der tzo—–/ 2/4 r’n fun
B7 Adim E7
4/4 alle vampir’n Un chayus / royus. A/

CHORUS II

Am A7 Dm
4/4 shif vel ich shaf’n, a / flot gor a gan—– / 2/4 tz’n, /
E7
4/4 Tif oif dem opgrunt vel ich im bahal –/ 2/4 t’n. Ehr vet /
G7 Dm
4/4 kum’n aich dinen ven er vet derhe–/ 2/4 r’n dem /
B7 E7
4/4 ruf fun dem idish’n vogler A /

Am A7 Dm
4/4 shif vel ich shaf’n, a flot gor a gan—-/ 2/4 tz’n, /
E7 Gm
4/4 Tif oif dem opgrunt vel ich im bahal –/ 2/4 t’n Ehr vet /
G7 Dm
4/4 kum’n aich dinen ven er vet derhe–/ 2/4 r’n dem /
B7
4/4 ruf fun dem idish’n / 4/4 vogler, dem
D7 Gm
4/4 al—————- / 4/4 ten. /
Usher Penn
1943

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tales of our fathers

How do we read Bereshit – Genesis?

Listen to  (and sign up for) the madlik podcast:

How do we read Bereshit – Genesis?

Genesis is the narrative or our origins. How do we moderns read it? How do we approach the past and how do we approach our elders?

מעשה אבות סימן לבנים

The stories of our patriarchs are signs for their children.

הפתגם מבוסס כנראה על דברי חז”ל בבראשית רבה: “אמר לו הקב”ה (לאברהם): שב, אתה סימן לבניך

In Bereshit Rabba: “Said to him (Abraham) the Holy One Blessed be He: “Return, you are a sign for your children.””

http://bit.ly/2e6JQTJ

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A Cathedral in Time – A Tabernacle in Space

it all starts with the story of two Rebbes in a sukkah…..

 

and here to listen to it on SoundCloud.

or go to the iTunes store and subscribe to the madlik podcast here.

 

source notes

———————-

a cathedral in time – a tabernacle in space

1.

Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time. Unlike the space­minded man to whom time is unvaried, iterative, homogeneous, to whom all hours are alike, quality­less, empty shells, the Bible senses the diversified character of time. There are no two hours alike. Every hour is unique and the only one given at the moment, exclusive and endlessly precious.

Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge from the magnificent stream of a year. The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals; and our Holy of Holies is a shrine that neither the Romans nor the Germans were able to burn; a shrine that even apostasy cannot easily obliterate: the Day of Atonement. According to the ancient rabbis, it is not the observance of the Day of Atonement, but the Day itself, the “essence of the Day,” which, with man’s repentance, atones for the sins of man.

——-

Note: Maimonides, Laws of Repentance 1:3

The essence of Yom Kippur brings attonement for thos who repent as it says: “For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins shall ye be clean before the LORD. Leviticus 16:30

כי ביום הזה יכפר עליכם  עצמו של יום הכיפורים מכפר לשבים שנאמר

——

Jewish ritual may be characterized as the art of significant forms in time, as architecture of time. Most of its observances–the Sabbath, the New Moon, the festivals, the Sabbatical and the Jubilee year–depend on a certain hour of the day or season of the year. It is, for example, the evening, morning, or afternoon that brings with it the call to prayer. The main themes of faith lie in the realm of time. We remember the day of the exodus from Egypt, the day when Israel stood at Sinai; and our Messianic hope is the expectation of a day, of the end of days.

——

Moed – Holiday

Ohel Moed – Ten of Meeting

——

In the Bible, words are employed with exquisite care, particularly those which, like pillars of fire, lead the way in the far­ flung system of the biblical world of meaning. One of the most distinguished words in the Bible is the word kadosh, holy; a word which more than any other is representative of the mystery and majesty of the divine. Now what was the first holy object in the history of the world? Was it a mountain? Was it an altar? It is, indeed, a unique occasion at which the distinguished word kadosh is used for the first time: in the Book of Genesis at the end of the story of creation. How extremely significant is the fact that it is applied to time: “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” There is no reference in the record of creation to any object in space that would be endowed with the quality of holiness.

This is a radical departure from accustomed religious thinking. The mythical mind would expect that, after heaven and earth have been established, God would create a holy place–a holy mountain or a holy spring–whereupon a sanctuary is to be established. Yet it seems as if to the Bible it is holiness in time, the Sabbath, which comes first. When history began, there was only one holiness in the world, holiness in time. When at Sinai the word of God was about to be voiced, a call for holiness in man was proclaimed: “Thou shalt be unto me a holy people.” It was only after the people had succumbed to the temptation of worshipping a thing, a golden calf, that the erection of a Tabernacle, of holiness in space, was commanded.

The sanctity of time came first, the sanctity of man came second, and the sanctity of space last. Time was hallowed by God; space, the Tabernacle, was consecrated by Moses. While the festivals celebrate events that happened in time, the date of the month assigned for each festival in the calendar is determined by the life in nature. Passover and the Feast of Booths [Sukkot], for example, coincide with the full moon, and the date of all festivals is a day in the month, and the month is a reflection of what goes on periodically in the realm of nature, since the Jewish month begins with the new moon, with the reappearance of the lunar crescent in the evening sky. In contrast, the Sabbath is entirely independent of the month and unrelated to the moon. Its date is not determined by any event in nature, such as the new moon, but by the act of creation. Thus the essence of the Sabbath is completely detached from the world of space. The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation, from the world of creation to the creation of the world.

The Sabbath (FSG Classics) Paperback – July 28, 2005 by Abraham Joshua Heschel

2.

After the destruction of the Second Temple there … was no High Priest, no sacrifice, no divine fire, no Levites singing praises or crowds thronging the precincts of Jerusalem and filling the Temple Mount. Above all there was no Yom Kippur ritual through which the people could find forgiveness.

It was then that a transformation took place that must constitute one of the great creative responses to tragedy in history. Tradition has cast Rabbi Akiva in the role of the savior of hope. The Mishna in Yoma, the tractate dedicated to Yom Kippur, tells us in effect that Rabbi Akiva could see a new possibility of atonement even in the absence of a High Priest and a Temple. God Himself would purify His people without the need for an intermediary. Even ordinary Jews could, as it were, come face to face with the Shekhina, the Divine Presence. They needed no one else to apologize for them. The drama that once took place in the Temple could now take place in the human heart. Yom Kippur was saved. It is not too much to say that Jewish faith was saved.

Every synagogue became a fragment of the Temple. Every prayer became a sacrifice. Every Jew became a kind of priest, offering God not an animal but instead the gathered shards of a broken heart. For if God was the God of everywhere, He could be encountered anywhere. And if there were places from which He seemed distant, then time could substitute for place. “Seek God where He is’ to be found, call on Him’ where He is close” (Is. 55:6) -— this, said the sages, refers to the Ten Days of Repentance from Rosh HaShana to Yom Kippur (Yevamot 105a). Holy days became the surrogate for holy spaces. Yom Kippur became the Jerusalem of time, the holy city of the Jewish soul.

Koren Sacks Yom Kippur Mahzor (Hebrew and English) Hardcover – August 15, 2012 by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks  pp xv-xvi

3.

During Sukkot, we add a prayer: “May the All Merciful establish (raise) for us the fallen Sukkah of David”

הרחמן הוא יקים לנו את סוכת דוד הנופלת

The notion of the “fallen Sukkah” come from the prophet Amos (9:11)

In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof, and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old;

 בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, אָקִים אֶת-סֻכַּת דָּוִיד הַנֹּפֶלֶת; וְגָדַרְתִּי אֶת-פִּרְצֵיהֶן, וַהֲרִסֹתָיו אָקִים, וּבְנִיתִיהָ, כִּימֵי עוֹלָם

4.

From the first day of Elul until the last day of Sukkot we read Psalm 27 every day.

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to behold the graciousness of the LORD, and to visit early in His temple.  or He concealeth me in His pavilion (lit. Sukkah) in the day of evil;
He hideth me in the covert of His tent; He lifteth me up upon a rock.

אַחַת, שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵאֵת-ה’–    אוֹתָהּ אֲבַקֵּשׁ
שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית-ה’,    כָּל-יְמֵי חַיַּי;
לַחֲזוֹת בְּנֹעַם-ה’,    וּלְבַקֵּר בְּהֵיכָלו

כִּי יִצְפְּנֵנִי, בְּסֻכֹּה–    בְּיוֹם רָעָה:
יַסְתִּרֵנִי, בְּסֵתֶר אָהֳלוֹ;    בְּצוּר, יְרוֹמְמֵנִי

Musical notes:

Achat Sha’alti mei’eit Adonai otah avakeish (2x)

Shivti b’veit Adonai kol y’mei chayai

Lachazot b’no’am, b’no’am Adonai ul’vakeir b’heichalo (2x)

This melody, written by Israel Katz. See The Chazzan’s Tisch here and Velveteen Rabbi here for an Hebrew/English version and some background into Israel Katz the composer.  Here’s the track I play on the podcast 1:10 seconds in and available on iTunes here

Cho Rachman (Rebuilt) composed and sung by Shlomo Carlebach on his 4th LP, In The Palace Of The King (Vanguard, 1965) and available on Amazon here.

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to the yeshiva and back, part two

Machon Hadar

The first time I heard of Machon Hadar was when the book Empowered Judaism by Rabbi Elie Kaunfer came out in 2010. The book was based on an obvious question…. Obvious to anyone with a strong Jewish background in authentic Jewish practice and schooled to study Jewish texts in the original Hebrew and Aramaic. Obvious to such a literate Jew (or someone who aspires to same) who also subscribes to gender equality, is wise to the fact that non-Jews are not only the children of God but also capable of channeling the deepest spiritual truths, and believes that a rejection of the scientific knowledge garnered from the intellect that God has bestowed on humanity is a rejection of God Herself. The question is not profound it is pedestrian:

empowerd-judaism

Why is it that when I walk into an Orthodox house of worship, that even though I must put aside MY Judaism with many of my beliefs and standards, I feel as though I am exposed to an authentic rendition of Jewish practice and learning.  Why is it when I walk into my local Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist congregation whose ideologies more closely reflects my own, I am for the most part…. left without a charge?

The answers Kaufner provides are mostly programmatic and the book is well worth reading for anyone whose institutional Judaism is, by default, mostly nostalgic and who finds comfort in his or her local Chabad or visiting the Yeshiva or shul of their youth for a quick but hardly sustaining fix.

elie-kaunfer

Rabbi Elie Kaunfer

In a nutshell, Kaufner and his cohorts argue that the non-orthodox variations of Judaism have been backed into a catch-all, processed Judaism-Lite where they become the de facto address for less than literate remnants of the Tribe.  These non-Orthodox varieties were created by educated and progressive scholars and thought-leaders but were forced to dumb-down their content, context and delivery to reach the lowest common denominator. If your local Conservative Synagogue were an opera house it would perform Aida in English, calling out page numbers and offering prompts as to when audience members should applaud, be seated and remain quiet.

Independent minyanim were organically created prayer groups, sans Rabbinic and other adult supervision, which started in American college and graduate schools.  They were launched by the best and brightest graduates of Hebrew Day Schools including Solomon Schechter schools. These young adults found each other and created spaces and times to pray and study while they pursued their higher educations.  Many of the leaders were children of Conservative Rabbis or Judaic and Ancient Near Eastern studies academics.   The three founders of Machon Hadar all met at Harvard (no one’s perfect). Kaufner, the son of a Conservative Rabbi, Ethan Tucker the son of renowned Conservative Rabbi Gordon Tucker (and Hadassah Lieberman), and Shai Held, the son of Moshe Held, a world renowned scholar in Ugaritic and Akkadian that I studied under at Columbia, back in the day.   These guys do not look over their shoulder for approval and acceptance as many Conservative Rabbis do.  They have a refreshing sense of entitlement necessary, I would venture,  to reclaim Judaism on their own terms.[i]

Rabbis Ethan Tucker and Shai Held

Rabbis Ethan Tucker and Shai Held

It took me six years to answer an ad for an Executive Week-long Yeshiva at Machon Hadar which rents space a whopping 3 blocks from my NY apartment….. kinda like the girl next door…

Family members and friends routinely go on yoga retreats or to a spa, I thought, why shouldn’t I go back to yeshiva…

What appealed to me was that there was a placement exam for those claiming to be Talmudists.  This might be the real deal, I thought. I received a call with an e-mail containing a link to a Talmudic text from Rabbi Miriam-Simma Walfish, Yeshivat Hadar Faculty. I was given no context for the text and stumbled my way through, making sure that my mistakes sounded like learned mistranslations.[ii] Rabbi Miriam was very understanding and granted me advanced placement…. This was going to be fun!

For the next week I spent every morning in a study hall that looked identical to the one of my youth, and was populated by the brightest, cheerful, mostly Ivy League college students.  These young scholars had interrupted their higher degrees in Physics, English Lit, Sociology, Pre-Law and Pre-Med to rigorously study Jewish texts as Hadar Fellows for the summer.  There were about 100 of them and 40 of us (older) “Executives”.

 

p1000277 p1000278-copy p1000281-copy

We started every morning with the morning service, donning Talit and Tefilin and using a nusach guaranteed not to offend anyone’s religious and egalitarian sensibilities.[iii]  Dare I mention that we were men and women?  This new generation of Fellows were as natural and comfortable with co-educating and cross-davening as fish in water.  For me, it was as if the end of days had arrived (did I just say that?)

After breakfast we broke up into groups based on our proficiency. I was paired with two lawyers who had been attending the week-long summer yeshiva for a few years. We were given original Aramaic Talmudic texts to prepare.  I felt the rust of bitul Torah and the deficit of a lack of formal schooling in Aramaic diction (not part of the curriculum at the traditional Yeshivot I had attended).  We spent the mornings of the entire week analyzing the Talmud’s understanding of damages to be paid for secondary and arguably, unrelated pain and/or incapacitation caused by someone who inflicted a wound on another.  Most of the Talmudic discussion was based on the interpretation of two either emphatic or spurious words in the Biblical text.

if he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit; only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be healed, surely healed. (Exodus 21:19)

אִם-יָקוּם וְהִתְהַלֵּךְ בַּחוּץ, עַל-מִשְׁעַנְתּוֹ–וְנִקָּה הַמַּכֶּה:  רַק שִׁבְתּוֹ יִתֵּן, וְרַפֹּא יְרַפֵּא

Very technical, very challenging and very engrossing.  After our hour of preparation, we were skillfully lead through the texts by our Rebbe, Rabbi Aviva Richman.

Her ability to slice and dice, decipher and explicate the conflicting texts was better than any Talmud shiur I have been privileged to attend…. seriously.   Interestingly and uncharacteristically, I enjoyed her direction more with regard to the legal texts and less when she introduced more spiritual or theological elements to the discussion.  With a smile, she tagged me as the class cynic and I was happy to oblige.

avivaheadshotthumbnail

Rabbi Aviva Richman

In the afternoon sessions, we broke away from the Fellows and joined together, combining all levels of proficiency for break-out sessions led by the scholars of Hadar and some invited guests.  These were not scholars giving well-rehearsed stump speeches, taught many times before but rather active learners sharing with us subjects they were themselves struggling with and discovering.  Shai Held spent an hour comparing and contrasting the secular philosopher Martin Buber with the controversial halachic behaviorist Yeshayahu Leibowitz. Listen here.  Ethan Tucker shared with us his discovery of Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Glasnera, known as the Dor Revi’i, who was a great grandson of the anti-enlightenment and anti-Zionist haredi scion; the Hatam Sofer.  The Dor Revi’I was not only one of the first haredi Zionists but, more to the point, embraced the evolved moral/asthetic sensibilities of the Enlightenment over the accepted ethical standards of the Torah world. See here. Jason Rubenstein shared with us representative comical aggadic texts regarding the afterlife and discussed why the Rabbis took so flippantly a subject which was the stock and trade if not the ultimate payout of other competing religions such as Christianity. One of the most interesting sessions was on medical ethics and lead by guest scholars Nancy Dubler, a world renowned expert in medical ethics and her student/colleague R. Edward Reichman who (amongst other insights) shared the story of the martyrdom of Haninah ben Teradion as Talmudic case law supporting the difference between withholding (permitted according to halakha) and withdrawing (not permitted) life-sustaining treatment. [iv]

We ended every day with dinner including further discussion of the day’s learning and getting to know our fellow travelers.  A week of these day-long sessions was reminiscent of the swimming in the sea of Torah of my youth.  Machon Hadar’s leadership is convinced that this type of multi-day holistic deep-dive or immersive experience will be key for generating the kind of intensity required to navigate today’s world Jewishly.

Bar-B-Q dinner at Hadar

Bar-B-Q dinner at Hadar

My fellow executive travelers were of every flavor and level of learning and each added to the experience and to my enthusiasm for the potential of the Machon Hadar model. There was a reform Rabbi from Florida and the wife of an American diplomat who has advised every administration in Middle Eastern affairs for the last 30 years. Both of my study partners were lawyers, and one was actually pursuing a graduate degree at JTS.  There was even a Professor of Old Testament, born Jewish but raised and practicing as a Christian… who I have continued to correspond with and who deserves special mention.  Dr. J. Richard Middleton caught my attention on day one.  Those of you who know me, know of my aversion to Jewish Messianism, at least now that we have returned to Zion.  I had not planned on sporting my LoBa kippah at the Machon since I didn’t expect to find any Na Nach’s or Chabadniks wearing their religion on their heads either.  You can imagine my surprise when I first spotted Richard wearing a “long live the King Messiah” Chabad yarmulke… only to learn that he was truly a Messianic Jew! Born biologically Jewish but raised in Jamaica as a Christian and now an Old Testament Scholar Richard is currently working on the theology of lament as expressed in Abraham and Job (see here). Richard had corresponded with Shai Held who had suggested he join our group for the week.  Richard wrote up his impressions on his blog.  When Richard told one of his Jewish relatives that he was going to Yeshiva she gave him the kippah.  The perfect expression of form and function, media and message.  The Rebbe must be smiling in his Ohel.

Needless to say, I brought my LoBa Kippah to class and Richard and I struck our pose.  Wouldn’t that all kippot could get along so well..

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I’m looking forward to learning more at Machon Hadar…. let me know if you want to join me….

—————————–

[i] Machon Hadar represents a best-case example of what Scott Shay in his book Getting Our Groove Back: How to Energize American Jewry argues has been the historic and de facto role of Conservative Judaism and should rather be it’s mission; to serve as fertile soil and a Petri dish for creativity and break-away mini-movements such as Reconstructionism, Havura Judaism and Hard.  See chapter X, Reimagining the Conservative movement.

[ii] If you’re interested, here’s the text I was shown:

 

First:

 

חולין ומשמשיהן פטורין מן הסכה. אוכלין ושותין עראי חוץ לסכה

And after I stumbled through this… then

text

[iii] See Guidelines and Information about Davening at Mechon Hadar which we received before the week at the yeshiva: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9fRO_dfXpziZWk2NzB0YUpnUjlqM2ZXNWItczBSc0hYMU4w/view

 

[iv] from “Open then thy mouth, that the fire may enter and the sooner put an end to thy sufferings,” advised his pupils. But Haninah replied, “It is best that He who hath given the soul should also take it away: no man may hasten his death.” (withdrawing) Thereupon the executioner removed the wool and fanned the flame, thus accelerating the end, and then himself plunged into the flames and tey both went to heaven (Avodah Zarah 17b) … see: R. Zalan Nehemia Goldberg. In the fall of 1978, R. Goldberg published his opinion in Moriah one of Israel’s leading halachic journals where he maintains that, under specific guidelines, removing a ventilator from a patient who is a terefa would not constitute homicide. The obligation to “heal” or “save” this patient’s life would not apply since the efforts would be futile, and, of critical importance, “we have no obligation to save one’s life where he prefers death to life.” R. Goldberg cites two sources to support his contention that we have no obligation to save this patient’s life against his wishes. R. Hanna ben Teradyon, the great martyr (Avoda Zara 18a), was wrapped in a Torah scroll and put to death by fire. His executioner placed tufts of wool soaked in water on his chest in order to prolong his suffering. Ultimately, R. Hanina permitted his executioner to raise the flame and remove the wool in order to hasten his death. Since R. Hana acquiesced to the hastening of his death, R. Goldberg infers that there is no obligation to prolong a life of suffering in the face of impending death. See here p 52

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