Down-to-Earth Spirituality

Unlike the Torah narrative that begins “In the Beginning,” a blog begins at the end. This "Torah Tweets" blog displays its narrative in reverse chronological order with the most recent post appearing first. The new blog http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.com was created to reverse the order of the blog posts in this blog to begin in the beginning. Both the new book http://photographgod.com and blog invite you to explore creative ways to photograph God in all that happens in your everyday life while crafting a vibrant dialogue between your story and the Bible’s story.

Postdigital Narrative on Spiritual Dimensons of Everyday Life ///// "For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp." (Deuteronomy 23:15) ///// "Judaism does not direct its gaze upward but downward ... does not aspire to a heavenly transcendence, nor does it seek to soar upon the wings of some abstract, mysterious spirituality. It fixes its gaze upon concrete, empirical reality permeating every nook and cranny of life. The marketplace, the factory, the street, the house, the mall, the banquet hall, all constitute the backdrop of religious life." (R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik) ///// "It is not enough for the Jew to rest content with his own spiritual ascent, the elevation of his soul in closeness to G-d, he must strive to draw spirituality down into the world and into every part of it - the world of his work and his social life - until not only do they not distract him from his pursuit of G-d, but they become a full part of it." (R. Menachem M. Schneerson) ///// "If there is a religious agency in our lives, it has to appear in the manner of our times. Not from on high, but a revelation that hides itself in our culture, it will be ground-level, on the street, it'll be coming down the avenue in the traffic, hard to tell apart from anything else." (E. L. Doctorow) ///// "The first message that Moses chose to teach the Jewish people as they were about to enter the Land of Israel was to fuse heaven to earth, to enable the mundane to rise up and touch the Divine, the spiritual to vitalize the physical, not only as individuals but as an entire nation." (R. Abraham Y. Kook)


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tazria (Conceives) תזריע

Don't Blame Bugs
When a woman conceives and gives birth (Leviticus 12:2)
אשה כי תזריע וילדה

Rav Simlai said: "Just as the creation of human beings follows that of all of the animals, so Torah laws pertaining to humans follow those of animals." (Rashi on Leviticus 12:2)

In last week's portion, we learned about all kinds of animals, permissible and forbidden.  Tazria begins with laws about human behavior.
Humans following after animals remind us when we become too proud that even the gnats preceded us in both creation and legislation.
Unlike gnats, cockroaches and sowbugs that can do no wrong, human beings have free will to choose between right and wrong.
Don't blame bugs for bugging up the works.  They're innocent.  Like computer bugs, people mess up their lives by their inner failings.
Rav Simlai sees the two faces of humanity (Adam in Hebrew).  Adam is formed from the dust of the earth (Adamah).  He is lower than bugs.
On the other hand, Adam is created in the divine image to be God's partner in the ongoing process of creation (Adameh - resembling God). 
Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik writes in Halakhic Man: If a man wishes to attain the rank of holiness, he must be a creator of worlds.  If a man never creates, never brings into being anything new, anything original, then he cannot be holy unto his God. 

A few months ago, we saw artist Eva Avidar (Mel's colleague at Emuna College) studying cockroaches under a magnifying glass in her studio.
This week, we marveled at her creation of a ceramic cockroach, the highlight of the Biennale of Israeli Ceramics at the Eretz Israel Museum.
The roach, helpless on its back, light pulsating from its eyes, reminded us of the man who turns into a cockroach in Kafka's Metamorphosis.
For Mel's 60th birthday, Miriam made him a large ceramic sowbug.   The ecology of sowbugs was the subject of Mel's research as a biologist.

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