Parshat Ha'azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52) It isn't nice to say, but if I were hanging out in the desert with my friends -- all excited about moving in to a land of milk, honey and great falafel -- and an old man with a stutter insisted on "speaking into our ears" a weird doom and gloom poem, my likely remark would be: "That dude's got issues."
Parshat Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1) "God spoke to Moses, saying: 'Pinchas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the Kohen, turned back My wrath from the children of Israel with his zealotry for My sake ... Therefore ... I grant him My covenant of peace....'"
Parshat Acharey Mot (Leviticus 16:1-18:30)
From now on, I'll only go on dates in pajamas.
As much as we are of Spirit, so, too, are we connected with the earth -- in embellishing the latter, we honor the former.
God's light is within all personal darkness; were we only able to relinquish control on fixing it our way, our path would illuminate the gates of heaven, where it is already exactly as it ought to be. The worst-case scenario for our ego becomes the passage of miracles for our souls in the instant we surrender -- sending our fears up the ladder into the transformative arms of Reunion.
Here on earth, anyone who has been around children knows that sometimes -- when your 11-year-old is protesting your refusal to let her have three friends over for the weekend while your 2-year-old asks for the 73rd time why he has to stay buckled in the car seat, all while in bumper-to-bumper traffic -- the only thing left to communicate is: "Because, I said so!" And if the result is kids believe they are at the humble mercy of a greater power who needs no reason whatsoever to tell it like it is: good.
Blatant providence from God is so apparent that it's difficult to really see it, though we're looking at it always. The curses that God grants us are indeed an opportunity to partake far more deeply and actively in the experience of Him. They are gifts of discovery through adversity of the concealed beauty in all things.
The milchama with lechem stops when we can eat it proportionately and spiritually. When we enjoy our fill -- rather than demonizing, avoiding or sinfully binging on it -- we are redeemed. By the mouth of God, bread was created, as was light, as were we, in His image. Our purest source of nourishment is Divine love, manifest in our capacity to lift up the vital force in all foods through our own utterances of gratitude.
Revering Goddess is something we literally cannot stress about. We need only let Her be -- within and without. And through our retreat, Her beloved, protective mate will shower His grateful providence into our relinquishment that we too may return to the peace we have co-created.
To beautify, adorn and celebrate the physical proves to be a sacred act -- with the right intention. So long as we understand that our flashy exteriors are the way in which we humbly diminish our own glory in reverence of a Light too great too look upon, we can draw closer to one another in admiration and inspiration of each individual's beautiful expression.
Noach invokes juvenile fascination upon reading the pshat. But we are not children. And underneath whimsical images and happy songs exists grown-up information to which we must attend if we have any hope for hearing youthful voices in our future.
Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech (Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30)
Heaven, paradise -- choose a synonym: ecstasy, bliss, rapture. We use such words to describe experiences of perfect, supreme happiness, God on earth. The conditions on Sunday merited all such descriptions, especially that immaculately blue sky. Skies like that burn gloom away.
The stereotypical Jewish woman is strong, supportive, receptive and respected. Growing up, she is showered with love, pampered by objects and experiences of beauty and quality. She keeps a welcoming home. She attends to detail, wants what she wants and is unapologetically "high maintenance." She is wise, and capable of keen manipulation. She is emotional -- following her heart more than her mind. She is nurturing, loyal, generous and willing to sacrifice. She finds total fulfillment only when she has balanced her work with marriage (preferably to a doctor or lawyer) and children. Most significantly, she loves receiving beautiful clothing, fine perfume and dazzling jewelry.
Darkness is frightening. It is the realm of uncertainty, with everything enveloped in a state of unified oblivion. The world we call "real" -- based on substance, physical existence and visible actuality -- is nullified by the blackness of night.
I was sitting at lunch with my best friend the other day discussing life. This is her tsuris at the moment: she is involved with a guy who loves her very much, accepts her unconditionally, is cute, bright, Jewish, healthy, loyal.
"What do you do?" I ask. He's in computer programming. Wonderful. Can't make too much conversation out of that answer. I try my best. It lasts all of two minutes. And then it happens: he asks the same of me.