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)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ha'azinu (Give ear) האזינו

The Eighth Day
Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, O earth hear the words of my mouth.  May my teaching drop like rain, may my words flow like dew, like downpours upon plant leaves and like raindrops on blades of grass. (Deuteronomy 32:1-2) [In the Land of Israel, the first rain has a name - יורה yoreh. Yesterday, we were blessed by the yoreh as it quenched the earth's thirst after a dry summer.]האזינו השמים ואדברה ותשמע הארץ אמרי פי יערף כמטר לקחי תזל כטל אמרתי כשעירם עלי דשא וכרביבים עלי עשב 
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for God has spoken. (Isaiah 1:2) שמעו שמים והאזיני ארץ כי יהוה דבר

The Lubavitcher Rebbe draws on Midrash to teach that Isaiah's words were spoken as a continuation of Moses' oration.
"Give ear" is listening that speaks in a tone of closeness.  "Let the earth hear" is hearing that bears the accent of distance.
Moses was closer to heaven, the source of rain, than to earth.  Isaiah was closer to earth from which plants grow to sustain all life.
Moses gave us torah, spiritual drops from heaven that create wellsprings that nourish the material blessings of daily life.
Moses could only see the Land of Israel from a distant mountain top.  Isaiah lived in the midst of the complexities of life in the Land.
Isaiah's vision of bringing spirituality down into every aspect of everyday life reaches a higher level than Moses' view from above.
Ha'azinu summarizes the torah as the Israelites are about to enter their Land. The images and tweets here summarize life today in our Land.
We repeat one image from each of the 5 books of the torah. Image 6 is Genesis reappearing as we rewind the torah scroll and begin again.
Bereshit (Genesis). The plant leaves in Ha'azinu are leaves of Bereshit. We photographed all Creation within ten steps of our front door.
Shemot (Exodus). Our granddaughter plays at welcoming Shabbat when we tune out, turn off, unplug, resting from our creation to honor God's.
Vayikrah (Leviticus). All torah is in a potato if we reveal it by carving out letters that have no separate existence from the potato itself.
Bamidbar (Numbers). Hamas charter: " Jews hide behind trees that cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him."
Devorim (Deuteronomy). In Hebrew, am segulah, a special people, is related to am segol, a purple people.
The Jewish People is assigned a special role to teach what every artist knows – that purple emerges from mixing blue with red.
Bringing the blue of sky down into the red (adom) of earth (adamah) lowers spirituality into the earth-bound world of physical reality.
Beresit 2 (In the Beginning again). On the eighth day, we become the partners of God in the continuing creation.
Miriam recycled our Sukkot etrog (citron) by pressing cloves into it, creating a refreshing scent at the conclusion of Shabbat every week.

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