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)


Friday, August 12, 2011

Va'ethanan (Implored) אתחנן

A Blog is an Ideal Torah Art Form
Do not make yourself a carved form or static image of that which is in the heaven above or on the earth below or in the water beneath the earth…. I am YHVH (Was-Is-Will be), your God, who brought you out of Mitzrayim (Egypt-Narrowness) from the confines of slavery….  Do not take the name of YHVH your God in vain. (Deuteronomy 5:8, 6, 11)         לא תעשה לך פסל כל תמונה אשר בשמים ממעל ואשר בארץ מתחת ואשר במים מתחת לארץ  אנוכי יהוה אלהיך אשר הוצאתיך מארץ מצרים מבית עבדים  לא תשא את שם יהוה אלהיך לשוא

The second of the Ten Commandments, not exclusively addressed to artists, asks us not to transform living processes in inert forms.
We can best understand the second commandment in context of the first and third.  Do not carve in stone that which is in flux. 
The first Commandment can be rephrased as:  "I am Was-Is-Will be, your God, who brought you out of the narrow constraints of a slave mentality."
YHVH is a verb, not a noun.  It combines the words for was, is and will be, linking past and present to redemptive future.
Do not freeze the process of creation and historical process into fixed images that limit our experience of an infinite God.
Do not even limit the Infinite by assigning God a name.  In Hebrew conversation, we call God Hashem, literally "The Name," a nameless God.
Indeed, the Divine names in the torah are not God's names, but rather facets of emanations of Divine light into our everyday world.
YHVH is associated with Tiferet, Divine beauty created through dynamic interaction with all the other emanations of Divine light.
A blog is an ideal torah art form, a log of a living process in a networked world, rather than still life entombed in a golden frame.
Sunday, 7 Av:  Our youngest grandchild, Avraham Matityahu, is playing in our living room.  He is named for Mel's father and uncle.
Monday, 8 Av:  Mel was at Ariel University to send papers documenting his life to Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian in Washington.
Tuesday, 9 Av:  We mourn the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Jewish commonwealths attributed to baseless hatred, sinat hinam.
Today's antidote is ahavat hinam, unconditional love, exemplified by Miriam's three siblings and their families. 
Channa's family is Lubavich.  Hans' children are Belz Hassidim.  Ezra rides a motorcycle wearing a knitted kippa symbolizing religious Zionism.
We see the bar mitzvah celebration of Channa's grandson where black fedoras, mink striemels and knitted kippot celebrate together.
Wednesday, 10 Av: Every year, we light a memorial candle honoring Mel's father, Avraham ben Mordecai, who passed away on the 10th of Av.
He always made people happy.  In his death, he extended the day of national mourning rather than disrupt the flow of mourners' lives.
Thursday, 11 Av:  It's our granddaughter Tali's 18th birthday.  She's a counselor at Camp Ramah and will be serving in the IDF in the Fall.
Friday, 12 Av:  Don't make a carved form or static image. The Jewish thing to do is make art to eat.  We made a banana cake for Shabbat. 
Miriam measured out the ingredients while Mel mashed the bananas.  Our art is a tasty version of Internet images of the surface of Mars.

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