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, July 15, 2011

Pinhas פינחס

Sight and Insight
God said to Moses, "Go up to this mountain of Avarim and see the Land that I have given to the Children of Israel.  You shall see it." (Numbers 27:12) ויאמר יהוה אל משה עלה אל הר העברים הזה וראה את הארץ אשר נתתי לבני ישראל וראיתה אתה
And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing (Zekhariah 8:5) ורחובות חעיר ימלאו ילדים וילדות משחקים  
God said to Abram, "Go for yourself from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father's house to the land that you will come to see." (Genesis 12:1) ויאמר יהוה אל אברם לך לך מארצך וממולדתך ומבית אביך אל הארץ אשר אראך  

Why is "see" repeated twice?  At first glance, Moses saw the Dead Sea and desert.  Then, he saw the future of his people in their land.
Rabbi Haim ben Attar explained that Moses gained a deeper vision and grasp of the inner spiritual essence of life in the Land of Israel. (Or Hahaim)
Moses saw boys and girls playing in the Land of Israel.  Their play integrates seeing with their kinesthetic, tactile and auditory senses.
Rabbi Kook's metaphor for Israel's rebirth after its long exile is a child awakening from a coma asking to play with her doll.
The Jewish people's story begins by linking kinesthetic and visual senses. Abram sees the land in a new light by walking away from his past.
On receiving the Ten Commandments, the torah tells of the Israelites' synesthetic experience:  All the people saw the sounds (Exodus 20:15) וכל העם ראים את הקולת.
Passive hearing is transformed into internalized visions of the script for creating a better world being enacted on the world stage.
Our sages transform the most powerful auditory mitzvah into a visual one: Hear O Israel, God is our Lord, God is One (Deuteronomy 6:4) שמע ישראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד.
We follow reading "Hear O Israel" from the torah scroll by reading Raise your eyes on high and see who created these (Isaiah 40:26) שאו מרום עיניכם וראו מי ברא אלה.
The Hebrew word for "hear" is SheMA, spelled Shin, Mem, Ayin.  It is an acronym for Se'u Marom Aynaykhem, "Raise your eyes on high."
The torah formula for transforming sight into insight is:  May God expand Yefet, but he will dwell in the tents of Shem (Genesis 9:27) יפת אלהים ליפת וישכן באהלי שם.

The Hebrew word yaft means to expand, related to yafah (visual beauty) and the name of Noah's son Yefet.  Yefet's son is Yavan (Greece).
Beauty in ancient Greece is seen in the elegance of outward form.  Israel descends from Shem, related to shemiyah (hearing).   
Jews are charged with inviting this surface beauty into Israel's tents where light emanating from the sound of torah illuminates it from within.
Torah beauty is tiferet the innermost emanation of divine light that integrates our intentions, thoughts and feelings through creative play.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really interested in couple collaborations in my inquiry right now. Plus because my practice also incorporates the midrashic process your work couldn't be a more perfect point of exploration for me. Thanks!