Friday, October 30, 2009

Genesis Lech Lecha Verses 12:1-17:27

Imagine a new world. Just like a rough draft of a story, God looked at the world that was destroyed by the flood. What could God do to make his covenant real? Promising to never destroy the world and its people means you have to make it right. God decided to choose a patriarch. In Haran, Mesopotamia, a man named Abram was at his father's home. Just like Noah. Abram listened to God and took his wife, Sarai, and his nephew Lot. Together with their possessions they went to the land of Canaan.

Canaan was not just a vast empty land. Many nations of kings lived there. Abram decided to split the land in half with Lot. Abram got the west and Lot got the eastern Jordan valley. A few days later war and oppression among the kinged nations breaks out in the Jordan Valley.

Lot was selfish to choose the Jordan Valley. It was the valued land for anyone with its rivers and fertile soil. Other nations would love this land. Abram and Sarai were alone in the east. No war. The only thing the patriarch wishes for is an offspring, but Sarai was much too old.

Sarai brings her maid to be the "mother of their offspring". Abram and the maid have the child Ishmael who was a fine man, but not Abram's heir. Just then, God makes the second of the two major covenant in the Torah. This one may be larger than the first. God promises, "You shall be father of a multitude of nations." (Genesis 17:4) God changes his name from Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah to show they are the people of God and promises them an offspring. Even though Sarah was quite old, Issac was born 9 months following the covenant. As for the father of a multitude of nations, Abraham is the patriarch of the Jewish faith, which means he is also patriarch of the Christian faith, and some people do not know this, but Abraham is also the patriarch in the Islamic faith.

From this parshat, I thought of the theme of believing in oneself. If we do not believe in God or ourselves all is lost. God believe and protected Abraham. Abraham trusted God. Living in the nation of the Red Sox, being a Yankee fan can cause great oppression come October. People turn on you as the Yankees win the pennant. I call it "Anti-Yankeeism". If I were to stop wearing the hats, and the jerseys. I would stop believing. Stop watching to all hours of the nights, but I do believe. As God and Abraham's belief in each other is mutual, the win in game 2 made me believe in the Yankees 27th World Series title.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Genesis Noah Verses 6:9-11:32

Just like Portion B'reshit, Noah is a parshat we all know. God asks Noah to build him an ark. Why? A flood is going to come over the Earth. Noah has to gather two of each animal and put them on the ark. After the flood, a dove searches for a place to settle and can not. A week goes by and the dove tries again, the ark can be released. When it is all over, God makes the first of two major covenant in the Torah. This first covenant has God promising never to destroy all the living beings on Earth again.

If God promises not to, why does God do it in the first place? Noah was a very special man on the face of the Earth at this time. In my opinion, there is one thing that can stop wickedness:listening. The difference between Noah and the rest of the wicked world was listening. Ignorance is the source of wickedness. Ignorance is merely not listening. Compassion is the opposite of wickedness. To be compassionate you must listen.

In B'reshit, God proves that the first world formed was ignorant. Adam and Eve were told not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. A snake sent by God tempted them. Noah does not even question God when God demands him to build an ark.

Listening abilities show up again in the story. Noah and his family have to work together to build this massive ark. Problems between countries in the modern world happen for many reasons, but all roots of ammunition being used in warfare is a result of not accepting what others have to say.

I personally had an inconvenient experience this week. I got hit in my right ear like a crack of a whip. High pitched ringing lasted for 15 minutes. I felt what it felt like to lose that ability. Not to the worst extent, but it was pretty horrible. I felt ashamed to have say what all the time and a little stupid. I did not choose not to listen, but most people do. If we were born not to listen, why do we have ears?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Dvar Torah B’reshit

    The Torah begins with a story we all know. My Torah portion is Parshat B'reishit which means, " in the beginning". This parsha is the story of creation. It begins with God saying, "Let there be light!" and there was light. A first day. Then, God says "Let one water divide from the next!" and there was water and sky. A second day. The sky's only function is to hold the water in the air from coming down to Earth. After that, God collects the water in one place until there is dry soil. God says, "Let there be vegetation, and seed-bearing plants!" and there was land and plants. A third day. Fourth but not last, God says, "Let there be two great lights in the sky!" and there was a sun and a moon. A fourth day. There were three more days, but I only have four aliyot.

     When thinking about this portion, I had to keep in mind it was not a science textbook I was looking at. You cannot look at this portion and say, "Oh God did not create the world in six days, that's impossible, the Torah is useless fiction." The creation story was included in the Torah to show that God does everything for a reason. The first three days are the foundation for the next three. God creates light, water and sky, and vegetation on the first three days. Then God creates the sun and moon – to light the sky on the fourth day, fish and birds- to fill the sea and sky on the fifth day, and land animals –to fill the land on the sixth day. God also does the same thing every day of creation. He speaks, divides, sees that everything is alright, and calls things by their names.

We can all learn something from this portion. God never does things without thinking. God does not tolerate the world to look incorrect for humans. In fact, the setup of the world, according to Genesis, shows it was created for humans. How do we say thank you? God thinks we say thank you by celebrating the seventh day of creation, Shabbat. The Earth would be a better place if we all took one day of the week to put aside work and celebrate the creation of this world we all live in. We take one day out of the week and remove all other work so that people can pray. We can also thank God by doing something with our world. God spoke to create the world. We have to think and speak in our world, it's the only way to make a difference. Every time we speak, we create something. I am creating a thought in our minds right now. The Torah teaches us to think before we speak, because you just might be creating a world.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Deuteronomy Ve-Zo't Ha-Berakah Verses 33:1 -34:7

The Torah's last parshat. Deuteronomy is the last book. V'Zot Ha-Berakah is the last portion. The Jews have entered Israel and God lets Moses bless the people. Moses blesses each tribe of Israelites as he lays on Mount Nebo. Moses committed sin in his lifetime not allowing him to go into the land. Moses did get a glimspe over all of Israel. I personally feel that was very fair of God.

Then, Moses blesses the whole land of Israel. He says, "O happy Israel! Who is like you, A people delivered by the Lord, Your protecting Shield, your Sword triumphant! Your enemies shall come cringing before you, and you shall tread on their backs." (Deuteronomy 33:29). To me this means Moses ordered us to protect the land. Israel is the world's third strongest military. Does Moses keep that going?

To me Israel's strength is the drive. For a small country it is filled with nationalism. To fight for the holy land is something most would consider a great honor.

Did God choose Israel's location on purpose? In my mind, God knows all that has happened and all that will happen. When God was bringing the Israel's people accross the desert I think the future was in mind. To me, God would know that Israel would eventually be surrounded by all prodomately Arab countries. The only thing I think God cannot control is free-will.

We have fufilled the task that Moses gave us. Moses says "Your protecting shield" before Your sword triumphant". This means that peace should always come before the sword. Sword came first and failed to do anything. Israel was attacked almost immediately after it gained independence. Now, the protecting shield of the strong zionist military saved Israel and the smart, progressive leaders pushed Israel into a more peaceful future. I feel that is why Iran has been very hesitent. Is it not amazing what a small country can do with the power and covenent of God?