Sunday, September 30, 2007

Why Does Hashem Hate Oregon?

Translation by Philip Blackman, Judaica Press, Mishnayoth, Tractate Succah 2:9:
Throughout the seven days a man must make his Succah his principle abode and his house a temporary dwelling. If rain fell, when may he clear out? When a dish would be spoiled. They made a comparison: To what can the matter be compared? To a slave who came to fill the cup for his master and he poured the jug over his face.

Mishnayoth, Tractate Taanith 1:1
From what time should they begin to mention the Power of Rain?….Said R. Joshua to him, Since rain during the Holyday is but a sign of a curse, why should one make mention of it?

Once again it is Succoth and once again it is raining here in Oregon. Every year it rains. It rains a lot. It doesn’t matter whether the holiday falls early or late, or if we have had 90 consecutive days without rain prior to Sukkot, as soon as the holiday starts, so does the rain. Always. It usually rains for at least five days. Sometimes there are gale force winds too. One year I was forced to declare the sukkah unsafe for use when it began to lean alarming to one side after experiencing 60 mph wind gusts. Mostly it is just really damp. Even if it happens to not rain on one day, since it rained the two previous days everything in the Sukkah is wet and the schach is dripping continuously. This year the rain began on erev Shabbas, then it drizzled on and off on Shabbas, then it poured all day today, 2 inches so far. The forecast is rain continuing through next Shabbas. We invite the ushpizin to the succah and then I ask them to come join us in the house because that is where we are all immediately headed for.

So why, when it seems that Hashem absolutely does not what us to fulfill the mitzvah, do we even bother to put the succah up? For those one or two wonderful days each year when, bundled up in our hats and parkas, we do get to dwell in the sukkah.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hooping for Hashem

I had planned a different post to go along with this photo, but I just couldn’t seem to get it written. As you may have noticed I haven’t written any post for quite a while. My desire to post began to ebb when I realized that the trip to Uman that I had planned to make this Rosh Hashanah was not going to occur. Since the original purpose of this blog was to chronicle my preparations for that journey it seemed somewhat pointless to continue posting. As posting stopped, other things began to slip away as well. One by one the spiritual practices I had taken on from “the list” started to fade from my daily routine, there just didn’t seem to be enough time to accomplish everything anymore, and as I did less there seemed to be less time to do those things that I was still trying to do. So I did even less as a result. I guess this was a case of “being pushed in the direction you wish to go.” As I tried to take time back, time was taken from me.

Then today I got a message from A Simple Jew notifying me of his new posting about anger and about his Rosh Hashanah resolutions. As I read how ASJ had decided to scale his resolutions back to just the one thing that he felt needed the most work and concentrate on that, it suddenly occurred to me, Rosh Hashanah! The New Year! Like a hoop, the year had spun completely around to its end which was also its beginning, and it was going to continue spinning, round and round without stopping. Beginning and ending, over and over again, around and around. Had I made it to Uman, it would not have been the end of the journey. And not going was not the end of the journey either. Either way the hoop of the year would continue to spin around, I just had to spin with it. Here it is a New Year with new opportunities and challenges, a chance to begin all over again and try to get it right. Maybe for me, right now, right is to go out and put some Adi Ran on the ghetto blaster and hoop to Hashem with all the joy I can. Then with some joy as my foundation, I can start “crawling” forward again.

Thanks ASJ!!!

Paraphrasing Rabbenu:

The world is a rotating wheel. It is like a “hoop”, where everything goes in cycles…revolving and alternating. All things interchange, one from another and one to another, elevating the low and lowering the high. All things have one root.