Pro­duc­ing con­tent on the Web since 1995.

some say­ings of ר‘משבצונה“ל

For many years I have worked hard, and strug­gled with mas­ter­ing virtuous. Now, in addi­tion, I’m work­ing on becom­ing more virtual.
This is an expres­sion of that effort.
* * * * * * *

השיבנו ה‘ אליך ונשובה חדש ימינו
כעוד לא היו
* * * * * * *
ומביא גאלה…

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All pho­tographs are by Mark Hurvitz unless they are obvi­ously not (or credit oth­er­wise is given).

The pho­tos in the ban­ner at the top (only a shal­low sliver of a much larger photo) are either from our home or our trav­els and are offered for their beauty alone (though a brain-teaser for me: “Where was that?”).

Unifying my life as I trim my garden

As I wrote the other day, while I pre­pare dur­ing the month of Elul for Rosh haShan­nah, I think about what is periph­eral to my life, and what I should toss.

Aside from blow­ing sho­far each day dur­ing Elul, another prac­tice has taken on the nature of a daily rit­ual: the read­ing of Psalm 27.

Psalm 27

Psalm 27

Accord­ing to Rabbi Ben­jamin J. Segal pres­i­dent of Melitz, the Cen­ter for Zion­ist Jew­ish Edu­ca­tion, Jerusalem, “This prac­tice is rel­a­tively new, evi­dently some 200 years old. But it is a wise prac­tice, even essen­tial.”

I find it inter­est­ing to note that a wise, “even essen­tial” prac­tice of read­ing a more than 2000 year old text, could be only 200 years old. Why is it that it was non-essential for so long?

Per­haps the most com­mon set of phrases from the Psalm is verse 4:

One thing I ask of Adonai,
only that do I seek;
to live in the house of Adonai
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of Adonai,
to be in God’s sanctuary.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (ver­sion 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Down­load the lat­est ver­sion here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I learned the melody I sing here from Rab­bis Tamar Malino and Eliz­a­beth Gold­stein. The other night, Erev Shab­bat (sec­ond day of R“H Elul 5769) I heard a com­pletely dif­fer­ent melody. If you know who wrote the melody I sing, or can share with me oth­ers, please do.

What can it mean (to para­phrase): “to live in God’s house and gaze on God’s beauty con­tin­u­ously?”

R. Segal goes on to expli­cate the Psalm a bit more stat­ing that the Psalmist strug­gles to rec­og­nize that what may seem to be a life liv­ing in two dif­fer­ent worlds is actu­ally one.

per­haps we can unify our lives.

The folk tale adapted from a ver­sion in The Dyb­buk by S. An-Sky tells us: “Every spot where a we raise our eyes to heaven is a holy of holies.”

If we func­tion accord­ing to its teach­ing we will know that our sim­ple cor­ner is inex­tri­ca­bly linked to every other spot in the cosmos.

We know that we strug­gle to unify our­selves. We can live in the para­dox of the aware­ness that those things that seem periph­eral are so, and, at the same time essen­tial. We can Think Glob­ally as we Act Locally (on any scale). Or, per­haps, we could rephrase it to say that we “think holy, as we act pro­fane” con­tin­u­ously rais­ing up sparks.

As my col­league R. Phil Pos­ner has reminded us…

In this spring’s CCAR Jour­nal The Reform Jew­ish Quar­terly, our col­league Mar­garet Wenig shares a ter­rific arti­cle on “The Poetry and Power of Para­dox”. At the end she quotes Dr. Joel Hoff­man who points out that in the Un’tane tokef it says, “it is writ­ten” and not “God writes” because We write down who shall live by water and fire, etc. Let us be clear, Hoff­man con­cludes, as the rich­est nation in the world, we let chil­dren die in Africa, we have writ­ten them in the book of death, not God.

We may live in God’s house con­tin­u­ously, but the house is in con­stant need of repair.

I the tree, you the trim­mer.” Or in the words of R. Jack Reimer which have made their way into the Gates of Repen­tance:

Now is the time for turning.”

This is the time of turn­ing. In my post for R“H Elul on August 20, 2009, I used a metaphor from the auto­mo­bile indus­try. Today, gardening.

Since the time of the first gar­den, we humans have been des­ig­nated as Ziony Zevit at the Amer­i­can Jew­ish Uni­ver­sity describes us “agriculturalists-in-residence”. Soon we will fin­ish har­vest­ing our gar­dens. The time will then come for us to turn over the soil as the new year ahead progresses.

Not only with our gar­dens, so also with us. The time has come to turn over, but more than a new leaf or a lit­tle soil. Or per­haps we should turn around, but not in the man­ner of our pup­pies that chase their tails run­ning around in cir­cles as they dis­tract us in our gar­den. Nor in the man­ner of the snakes in our gar­den, the Ouroboros the snake with its tail in its mouth, form­ing a never end­ing cir­cle. No, I can­not sim­ply toss off a bit of old skin as the snake sim­ply loses its, but remain essen­tially the same.

We need to reach far­ther than the beauty that is skin-deep. Some­times the pipes that lay beneath our gar­dens develop cracks. Roots and detri­tus find their way in and clog the flow of irri­gat­ing waters. There are times when it becomes so seri­ous that we need to call for help and the com­pany comes that snakes through the pip­ing, rout­ing out the accu­mu­lated debris. So it is with us. We need to reach into our hearts and turn them, cleanse our thick­en­ing arter­ies, open them to fresh­ness, enable them to flow freely with the flu­ids that bring fresh life.

And thus, we will have re-turned to our­selves [Song of Songs 4:16].

Awake, o north-wind; and come, thou south;
Blow upon our gar­den that the spices thereof may flow out.
Let these sim­ple humans come into their gar­den and eat of its pre­cious fruits.

For those who want down­loads of Psalm 27 you can print or refor­mat and use for your­self (or in some other set­ting), here is the text in Eng­lish and Hebrew both in PDF as well as RTF formats.

dalet ד for verse 4 on the forth of elul

I have a num­ber of lapel but­tons that dis­play no more than a Hebrew let­ter. At one time the Union of Ortho­dox Con­gre­ga­tions cre­ated a series of but­tons let­ters with the 22 let­ters as they appear in Torah script. I have a faint rec­ol­lec­tion this was done to sup­port a project of con­gre­ga­tions spon­sor­ing the writ­ing of Torah scrolls. (“Buy a let­ter in the Torah.”?)

This but­ton dates from the early 1950s or mid 1940s. I have no doc­u­men­ta­tion on it, nor any expla­na­tion as to why it was pro­duced and distributed.



Date: 1940s?
Size: 2.1
Pin Form: straight
Print Method: cel­lu­loid
Text ד

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