Thursday, August 30, 2007

And He brought us to this place, and He gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Parshah Ki Tavo (in Deut. Chapter 26) reads:
17. You have selected the Lord this day, to be your God, and to walk in His ways, and to observe His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and to obey Him.
18. And the Lord has selected you this day to be His treasured people, as He spoke to you, and so that you shall observe all His commandments,
19. and to make you supreme, above all the nations that He made, [so that you will have] praise, a [distinguished] name and glory; and so that you will be a holy people to the Lord, your God, as He spoke.
I find these words particularly meaningful. Probably, as a convert, because it is first that it reads "You have selected the Lord ..." and then "And the Lord has selected you ..." I guess, for me, when I came to Judaism (that which was always within me), it wasn't necessarily that I'd been found or saved ... It was MY journey, and MY selection of Judaism and Adonai, and then that the community and G-d could select me. It's always been a choice. There is no blind faith, there is a choice (although I'm sure I'm not the first to admit that the compelling pull of Judaism is as indescribable as is the idea of Noah's flood).

The Torah is very adamant about writing the words of Torah once we cross the Jordan. "When you cross, you shall write upon them all the words of this Torah" (Deut. 27:3) and "You shall write upon the stones all the words of this Torah, very clearly" (Deut. 27:8). Is it not perhaps important that the words of Torah be expressed, every day, minute to minute, hour to hour, so that the words are clear, without doubt or hesitance? This, of course, rings of the command to inscribe them upon the doorposts of our homes and to teach them when we lay down and rise up and to children and strangers. But who does and how does one? How can one make the Torah ever-present and all-encompassing?

And finally, in this week's "What's Bothering Rashi?" over at, I was proud to figure out what was bothering Rashi before reading what really WAS bothering Rashi. I'm getting into his head! Figuring him out! Perhaps it's a blessing for having a picture of his work studio as the desktop to my work computer ... (it's a way for me to have a little bit of piece among the storm).

In other news, I started reading Dara Horn's "The World to Come," and I take it as a mitzvah, gall darn't. A woman sat down next to me on the Red Line this afternoon and commented "Oh that's such a marvelous book!" I couldn't put the darn thing down and managed to read it during dinner (at my favorite Jewishly inclined restaurant in the South Loop -- Eleven City Diner). Then when I got to Argo Tea & Coffee to do some Torah Thyme (coined by Ian), a woman walked by to ask if it was any good. Of course I said yes and told her about the woman on the train (who, might I add, looked like she was planning a Rosh HaShana get together). She commented that it was going to be one of those things where someone told me it was great and I told someone else it was great and then that someone will tell someone else and so on until the world has a mighty Dara Horn army!

Abraham Joshua Heschel will get my full attention this weekend, I hope, while the boy is busy doing Lost Armada things. And perhaps even tomorrow night, depending on whether this cold/cough/flu thing I've been nursing calms itself long enough for me to watch the boys play at The Note tomorrow night. I can't wait for the smoking ban to hit in January ... for then ... even when I am sick and coughing and miserable, it won't be exacerbated by tokers in a bar. Amen.