Posts Tagged ‘d’var’

Clothing from Krypton?

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Ki Tavo mentions, almost in passing, the rather curious notion that in all the forty years in the Wilderness, the Israelites’ clothing never wore out. How could this be? And what can we learn from such a remarkable claim? Read on…

“Your clothes did not wear out upon you…” (Deut. 29:4)

At times, the Sages were nothing if not thorough. Consider this exchange between R. Eleazar and his father-in-law, R. Simeon b. Jose.

Apparently stymied by the notion that clothes should last for forty years, he asked, “Were they made of leather?” “No,” came the reply, “they were clothes made by angels and given to them at Mount Sinai.”

“But, didn’t the Israelites grow in size? How could the clothes still fit?” “They were just like snails: their clothes expanded to fit them as they grew.”

“But, didn’t the clothes get dirty?” “Whenever they rubbed against the pillar of cloud, they were cleansed.”

“But,” (wouldn’t you, as the father-in-law, be getting tired by now?) “wasn’t pillar made of fire? Wouldn’t they get burnt?” “No, they were made of asbestos (amiant).”

“But, didn’t they get infested with vermin?” “If in death no worm ate them, how much less in their lifetimes!”

“But, didn’t they smell from perspiration?” “No, for they used to play in the sweet-smelling grass around Miriam’s well!”

Midrash Rabbah – Deuteronomy VII:11

Now, that’s patience – with a liberal dose of creativity! What can we possibly learn from this fantastic exchange? Here’s a suggestion:

How often, especially in these troubled times, are we faced with a problem that seems insurmountable? A challenge where logic just doesn’t seem to apply? I, for one, can personally attest to knowing such times.

And yet, if we are ready to accept that somewhere, somehow, a solution awaits us if we but flex our creative muscles and strap on our armor of patience, then we can find our way to such a solution. It will take creativity, patience, and a certain sense of humor (can you read the Midrash without chuckling?), and finally a readiness to believe that things can improve, if we but partner with G!d and work toward that transformation together.

We cannot sit back and wait. We cannot merely pray. We must take action – with the strength that our tradition gives us. And then, in partnership with the Eternal and our friends, neighbors, and community, we can see that the doors of Heaven are already open for us, and the blessings can begin to flow.

What is Truth?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

It is said that the great Maggid of Mezhirech, Rabbi Dov Ber, at first was cool to the teachings and methods of the Baal Shem Tov (Besht), the founder of the Hasidic movement. The Maggid was known for his tremendous mastery of our holy writings: Tanach, Talmud, Midrash, and Kabbalah; the Besht emphasized a more experiential approach.