Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Noach Blogging

At the end of the celebration of Sukkoth, we continue the joy of the harvest season by reading of the creation of the universe. However, the next week, as autumn really begins to settle in -- the leaves are falling, the nights are getting longer and colder, etc. -- we read about destruction: of the Flood, of the Tower of Babel. The seasonally appropriate lesson of Koheleth sinks in: there is a time for building and a time for tearing down, etc. But lest, things get too depressing, we also read from Deutero-Isaiah about rebuilding. Indeed, we read the inspiration for the famous Rabbinical lesson, traditionally read every Sabbath evening either after reading the laws of Erev Shabbos or after singing of the offering of sacred incense in the days of the Temple:

R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Chanina: The disciples of the sages increase peace throughout the world, as it is said: "And they shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children". Read not here banayich, thy children, but bonayich, thy builders. Great peace have they that love thy law; and there is no stumbling for them. Peace be within thy rampart, prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companion's sake I would fain speak peace concerning thee. For the sake of the house of the Lord our God I would seek thy good. "The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace."

Alas, too many people claim to love God's law, but they have no peace but stumble often: for in fact, they do not love the law but rather view it as a burden: if they view the law as the sine qua non of social order, as they often do, they secretly wish to not be civilized but rather to live outside of the social order. Since they cannot so live, they view such non-conformity as sour grapes. But this does not allow them to appreciate the sweet grapes of the law: at best, they like Noach will taste fermented grapes and be shamed in their intoxication with the law. But if we are as students and love learning the law as if they were children learning it for the first time, but with enough perspective and maturity to appreciate that which they learn, then great will be our peace for we will be God's builders.

But we must remember, that not all builders, even of God's city, will receive peace, but only those who remain eternal students with the same wonder toward Creation that children have. And this sense of wonder comes not from faith, which makes us feel too confident in the world, which blinds us to the wonders of creation (if you insist on discovering Intelligent Design in the Universe, you will only be frustrated by its lacking; if you happen upon an example of it as a jewel in the rough, however, you will have your eyes opened to a wonder of creation) and which makes us feel as if we have already been taught of the Lord and need not be taught more (which leads away from the above-described path to peace), but rather comes from doubt, which allows us to see even daily natural occurrences as completely unexpected and miraculous.

The nights are getting colder? You live in FL!! Stop kvetching. :)
True, it ain't as cold as even in NJ (which really ain't cold), but the summer here kinda reset my heat sensation. Plus, Tally ain't Miami, but rather, from what I understand, the coldest place in FL. It's already gotten down into the 30s for a few nights, although the temperature does all of the sudden decide to get back into the 80s some days. It's kinda like where my parents live: except these changes in weather here are accompanied by rain, which doesn't happen, given that my parents live in a desert. I guess the winters will be similar as well (40 degree highs and humidity so the cold goes right to your bones), but without the snow my parents get.
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