Archive for September, 2010

Parasha Vezot Habracha

September 30, 2010

I’m having a hard time with this one, y’all.

I like Moses.

Michelangelo’s horned Moses in Rome:

The Moses figure on the entrance to the cathedral in Lausanne:

The Moses fountain in front of the cathedral in Bern:

We all know that Moses leads the people out of Egypt, but that’s not all — there are several occasions on which he saves the Israelite people from G-d’s anger, at one point talking G-d out of wiping them out and starting a new covenant with Moses’ descendants.  Talk about being humble.

So these last few readings from Devarim (or Deuteronomy) are hard for me.  On the one hand, they have my second-favorite piece from the Friday night liturgy (after the Shema) — the reading that convinced me that it was, indeed, possible and worth it to lead a Jewish life. From Parasha Nitzavim:

Chapter 30

11. For this commandment which I command you this day, is not concealed from you, nor is it far away.

12. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?”

13. Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?”

14. Rather,[this] thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.

On the other hand, these last few readings contain lists of blessings and curses that await the Israelites depending on how well they keep their end of the covenant.  But we’re told that the good news is that we can always stop choosing to do wrong — we can always go back to the covenant and G-d, in his love, will take us back.

So, why not Moses?  Why did the greatest prophet who ever lived, who devoted the majority of his life to service to G-d and the Israelites, who only made one mistake in the wilderness (making it sound like the water from the rock came from his own power rather than G-d’s and/or not following G-d’s directions on the means by which to draw water from the rock, depending on whose interpretation you read)… why does Moses not get to enter the Promised Land?

One for the rabbi…

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One-upmanship

September 30, 2010

Me:  “Ouch, my hand still hurts.”  (From the IV line put in two weeks ago.)
Mom:  “My thumb still hurts.”  (From when she stabbed herself on her first day in Geneva a little over a year ago.)
Me:  “My cholecystectomy still hurts…”  (It doesn’t.  But what a great word.)
Mom:  “Huh?!”

Why I love Judaism so much

September 29, 2010

(Or, at least, part of why I love Judaism so much.  We’ll talk about prayer, tikkun olam, the power of words and Judaism’s approach to original sin later.)

It’s a very deliberate religion.  It makes you very conscious of the choices you make every single day — choices in your relationships with God, yourself, your community and the world as a whole.  We are given some awesome responsibilities in all these relationships — most notably to draw closer to others, treat them respectfully and be a force for good.

Wow.  That’s a tall order.  Where do you start?

Fortunately, you have the mitzvot, which is commonly translated as “commandments” in English.  The problem is that the connotation in English tends to be a bit more negative than the original Hebrew.  A lot of Christian friends have asked me, “Why would you want to chain yourself down with that?  That’s what Jesus is for — we don’t have to follow the law anymore.”  But here’s the thing — the mitzvot are a starting point.  They’re a whole series of teeny little tools or opportunities to make our world, our family’s and friends’ world, our community’s world the absolute best place it can be right here, right now.  And if we teach the next generation our values, they’ll carry on so that our world is the best place it can be in the future, too.

Words of wisdom

September 29, 2010

“Healthy pet food is as important as healthy people food.”

Or so announced my computer at 12:30 this morning…

Responsibility

September 28, 2010

I’ve always said that you need to take responsibility for your life in order to live it fully.  An astonishing number of people do not ascribe to that theory, though.

My grandmother was watching one of those daytime judge shows when I went to visit her today.  Woman A was suing Woman B over a traffic ticket that Woman A’s husband had incurred.  Apparently Woman B asked Woman A’s husband to pick Woman B up and take her to work.  This happened 15 minutes before Woman B needed to be at work, but normally it’s a 30-minute drive, so Woman A’s husband chose to drive over the speed limit to get to Woman B.  In doing so, he acquired a traffic ticket, and now Woman A thinks that Woman B should have to pay it…

The drug culture here just astonishes me

September 28, 2010

Here’s a great T-shirt that sums up why:

I don’t think she knows what a chiropractor is

September 28, 2010

A local law firm is running a TV ad featuring an “actual client” as their spokeswoman.  The actual client (a hispanic woman with accented English) says, “When I had my accident, people were telling me I was going to get all kinds of phone calls, and I was afraid of all the chiropractors that would come knocking at the door.  So I called [Local Law Firm], and they explained my rights and won me a big settlement.”

I’m assuming they kept the zombie chiropractor army away from her, too…

Things I’m enjoying today

September 26, 2010

orange juice (thanks to the hospital, ironically)
singing birds
nice weather
a country drive
my freshly painted toes (green, blue and copper)
naps
clean floors in the house!

Need to catch up?

September 26, 2010

So, Simchat Torah is coming up, and we finish up Devarim and start all the way back up in Berechit again.  This year marks the first time I’ve ever read the Torah straight through in order, and I’m wanting a mini-refresher this week just to keep everything straight in my head.  Enter G-dcast, a series of 4-minute cartoon videos of each and every Torah reading of the year.  Not only is it a great refresher, but also a great visual to help illustrate the stories we’ve been studying all year.  Check it out! 🙂

More weird dreams

September 25, 2010

This time, I’ve been commanded to make fire for a little boy by some random god.  So I do, and I start running the fire over to the little boy on a kite string in my right hand.  As I’m running over the desert sands, the fire begins to grow more and more out of control.  I’m kicking myself for not having studied mythology in high school — surely there’s a god of water that I could call on?  Then all of the sudden I think “Aquarius”, and even though I don’t think that Aquarius is a god, a plastic bottle of water shows up and puts out the fire…