Archive for July, 2012

Isaiah 15:5:

My heart cries out over [the downfall of] Moab…

Rashi comments:

The prophets of Israel are not like the prophets of the nations of the world. Balaam (a gentile prophet, see Numbers 22:2-24:25) sought to uproot Israel over nothing, but the prophets of Israel mourn over the retribution that befalls the nations.

I make no comment here as to whether this is good or bad (Rashi makes no comment to this effect either, though the implication is that Rashi is not criticizing the prophet Isaiah), but it seems to be the undying trait of the Jew to love and feel compassion and act mercifully toward those who would kill us given the chance. Let no one think that ours is the first generation to behave this way.

Another example:

“Therefore my loins are filled with trembling, pains have taken hold of me like the pangs of one giving birth, I have become ill from hearing, I am terrified from seeing.”
(Isaiah 21:3)

This verse comes during a prophecy regarding the downfall of Babylonia, the cruel empire that destroyed Judah and exiled the Jews, not someone the Jews should necessarily feel compassion for. Yet:

“The prophet is compassionate and grieves over the calamities that befall the nations.”
-Rashi, citing Midrash

Great news item about getting “unplugged.” Just wanted to share this one:

Company Pays Employees $7,500 to Go on Vacation – But No Texting, Email, Or Phone Calls

Great excerpt from the article:

Some of Lorang’s software engineers that have taken him up on his offer say while it was difficult initially going off the grid, they ended up loving their completely unplugged vacation.

If only people would realize that we Jews have the gift of the “unplugged vacation” one day out of every week! And our sentiment is the same — initially it’s hard, but in the end, we completely love it! Everyone should try it — the rewards are very great!

This re-posted from the Dalai Lama by a friend of mine via social media with the title: “Listen to the guy… Extend your life”:

Like anyone else, I too have the potential for violence; I too have evil in me. However, I try to recall that anger is a destructive emotion. I remind myself that scientists now say that anger is bad for our health; it eats into our immune system. So, anger destroys our piece of mind and our physical health. We shouldn’t welcome it or think of it as natural or as a friend.

I posted the following comment that I thought was worth sharing here as well:

We didn’t need the Dalai Lama (or scientists) for that — we have the wisdom of King Solomon! Ecclesiastes (Koheleth) 11:10: “Remove anger from your heart and cause evil to pass away from your flesh.” (You see here that Solomon knew that anger was BODILY unhealthy.)

An ironic story I must share: I was staffing a trip to New York for Jewish collegiates and one of our events was a night at a comedy club. Of course, realizing that there was a Jewish audience in the house, they provided plenty of “Jewish” jokes. On joke involved a play on a Biblical event. At this joke there was no response from the audience. The comedian was so insulted that a Jewish audience didn’t get a Bible joke, that, realizing (correctly) that it could only be due to a lack of knowledge of a basic Bible story, the comedian broke character, turned to the audience and declared, “Jews! It’s your Torah! Read it!” Wow, getting mussar (rebuke) from the guy on stage at a Manhattan comedy club. Surreal.

Isaiah 13:10:

For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not shine (‘yahelu’) their light…

The Hebrew word ‘yahelu’ here means “will shine.” The root of this word is the two Hebrew letters ‘heh’ and ‘lamed,’ which make the ‘H’ and ‘L’ sounds, respectively.

Similarly, in English, the word “halo,” according to the World English Dictionary (HarperCollins), means (emphasis mine):

  1. a disc or ring of light around the head of an angel, saint, etc, as in painting or sculpture
  2. the aura surrounding an idealized, famous, or admired person,thing, or event
  3. a circle of light around the sun or moon, caused by the refraction of light by particles of ice

So, “halo,” in English too, is related to a “light” or “aura.”

In fact, the English word “aura” also clearly relates to the Hebrew “or,” meaning “light.”

Other instances in Scripture of the Hebrew ‘H-L’ root referring to shining light (cited by Rashi in his comments to the above verse in Isaiah):

“When He illuminates (‘hilo’) his candle above my head, in its light (‘oro’) I walk in the darkness.”

Job 29:3

“If I see light (‘or’) when it shines (‘yahel’), and the moon proceeding with illumination.”

Job 31: 26

“How have you fallen from heaven, O luminary (‘helel’), bright as the morning star?”
(Isaiah 14:12)

Indeed, this is also the meaning of a popular modern Hebrew girl’s name — Hilah!

May we all merit to see the Great Light speedily in our days.