Jewish Journal

Torah Flight

by Michelle Azar

May 6, 2013 | 4:50 pm

I watched as my Torah portion flew out into the street. The pages were in the basket of my bicycle as I rode to Milky’s on Friday afternoon to study in advance of chanting this Shabbat. Milky’s boasts frozen yogurt with lots of choices for their special food needs clientage like myself, and since my need for  exercise was in conflict with my need for sugar, I thought studying my portion there would be the happiest spot.

When I felt prepared enough, and too shy to go back to the trough for a second helping, I climbed on to my bicycle for the short ride home. The gust of wind caught me and my printed copies of Behar by surprise, and my parasha flew right out of my basket and on to Pico’s busy street.

I had a fleeting thought to follow the pages into the traffic. I grew up hearing what a sin it was to throw away ANY document with Hebrew written on it. I could see myself in the middle of the street, dodging cars to save the poor alphabet. I saved myself instead , and watched the dance between wind and cars and printed page of Torah in great despair.

I had great ambivalence riding away. I trusted that I would not be smote down for leaving the printed words on the street. I even tried to imagine that since it was in such a Jewish area, the pages might be retrieved by someone else who needed the lesson of this week’s portion. The reading was about Shmita, giving the land rest after 7 years of work. I am a big believer in rest. I really, really like doing nothing. I do get carried away with it sometimes and can’t get myself to do ANYTHING after a good long nothing. Then I get super mad at myself  so it becomes not at all restful but fraught with all sorts of complications. I thought, how smart to set rest up as mandatory, a real-time for real appreciation for all that you already have.This way it is not a reaction to sheer exhaustion, and it builds in gratitude. The problem is knowing patience as well. Knowing how to identify the time in this day and age in our non-aggregrain village of Beverly Hills perhaps, when the metaphorically 7 years have passed. When it is time to again put in the toil to reap anew.

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Michelle fell in love with the practice of Ashtanga Yoga, the system of Hatha Yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, some 13 years ago while doing a play in San Francisco. Having...

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