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 blog was created to reverse the order of the blog posts in this blog to begin in the beginning.

See the blogs for the books Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media and Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life Both books invite you to explore creative ways to photograph all that happens in your everyday life while crafting a vibrant dialogue between your life story and the biblical narrative.

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)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Shelah (Send forth) שלח

A Different Spirit
Send forth men, if you please, and let them explore the land of Canaan that I give to the Israelites…. They brought forth to the Israelites a disparaging report on the land that they had explored.... Among the men who explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Yefuneh tore their clothes in grief.  They said to the whole Israelite community, "The Land that we passed through to explore is a very, very good Land!" (Numbers 13:1, 32, 14:6-7) שלח לך אנשים ויתרו את ארץ כנען אשר אני נתן לבני ישראל  ויציאו דבת הארץ אשר תרו אתה אל בני ישראל  ויהושע בן נון וכלב בן יפנה מן התרים את הארץ קרעו בגדיהם ואמרו אל כל עדת בני ישראל לאמר הארץ אשר עברנו בה לתור אתה טובה הארץ מאד מאד

10 of the spies feared that entering Canaan would rob them of a purely spiritual life and force upon them the drudgery left behind in Egypt.
They opposed giving up their undemanding life in the desert where free meals were delivered to their doorstep each weekday morning.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that "The miracles which sustained the Jews in the wilderness were not the apex of spiritual existence."
"They were only a preparation for the real task: taking possession of the Land of Israel and making it a holy land."
"The purpose of life lived in torah is not the elevation of the soul; it is the sanctification of the world."
Only Joshua and Calev with his "different spirit" could recognize the spiritual in mundane tasks and hard work when accomplished in freedom.
The leaders of the 10 tribes who did not discern the difference between acting in freedom and as slaves were condemned to die in the desert.
Calev saw that the same activities forced on us as slaves in Egypt could be transformed into acts of spiritual significance when done freely.
He was rewarded for rejecting the belief that spirituality flourishes best in seclusion and protected isolation.
God said, "The only exception will be My servant Calev, since he showed a different spirit and followed Me wholeheartedly.  I will bring him to the land that he explored, and his descendants will possess it." (Numbers 14:24)
In our day, the descendants of Calev of the tribe of Judah are being ingathered from the four corners of the earth to the Land of Israel. 
Most Jews in Israel descend from the tribe of Judah.  Most descendants of those tribes that rejected entering the Land are the lost tribes.
Nazi troops attempted to humiliate a Hassidic Rebbe by forcing him at gunpoint to sweep streets and collect garbage daily.
After surviving the Holocaust, the Rebbe began a new life in Tel Aviv. 
During the week before Israel Independence Day each year, he joined Tel Aviv sanitation workers in sweeping streets and collection garbage.
His hard work as a free man keeping his city clean transformed humiliation into an expression of pride.
Look for holy sparks emerging from all we do in freedom in our sovereign State of Israel:
From birthing a calf, baking pizza, defending our country, paving roads, sweeping streets to collecting garbage.

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