Thursday, August 30, 2007

He'emirecha: a word is a word

We come near to the New Year - Rosh HaShanah 5768. Throughout this year 5767, we have tried to share the meaning of the annual cycle of the parashyiot or reading portions that have to be read per annum by the faithful Jews throughout the weeks that give a special unique rhythm to our months and relationship to God, to other Jews and to our fellow people as humankind.

A year is a set of a peculiar number of days and nights, hours, minutes and seconds that pass and are stored by God (Sukka 62b). I often speak of "shlishiyot - thirds" because we want to slowly be so speedy at the present that we would like to compact tiny segments of immeasurable time wickets to the world-to-come. The specificities of these parashiyot or readings consist in the continuous and perpetually renewed and repeated description, study, scanning, discovery of each word of the Torah.

Moreover, each consonant is inspired by changeable vowels or phrase sequences. Then, our lives, life paths or styles, choices or inability to make up our minds and get forward, shape each year into the form of collectivity and alien “portions”. There is a very strange verse in the Gospel. Jesus says to the disciples to get some fish to eat, after his resurrection and they were on the beach. "Simon-Peter (Kaipha) went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three (153) of them" (John 21:11). The intriguing point is that before the decision of the Sages at Yavneh and when the Temple was still extant, the Torah was not read over one sole year as we do at the present, but over a period of three years. There were153 parashiyot / Torah reading portions. Each reading portion is like a "shanah", if not a "rosh hashanah - cappo d'anno (It.) = (the) cape of a year" that instructs us according to the demands "tiftach = open the gates" during Neylah of Kippur / the closure of the Day of Atonement. Thus we turn the cape of a certain period of time, or a page, we round along new openness or closets.

Interestingly, although the Jews as the Christians are rarely aware of that, the Early Church adopted the same weekly pattern of readings. The Syrian-Orthodox and the Assyrian Churches did keep in Aramaic four basic readings that develop the meaning of time over one year as most Churches do at the present. The Roman Latin Church decided, after the Second Council of Vatican that ended in 1965, to break down the readings over three years, reintroducing large portions from the Bible. The Byzantine Church has retained a systematic envisioning of time "spreading-expansion" that is definitely structured upon the basis of the Jewish series of weekly readings. Thus, the Anglican and Episcopalian Churches read "lessons", which correspond to the order of age and time deployment. The very first verse of the Hebrew Torah does not describe a big bang or a set of fragmentation that led to the creation of heaven and (rotating) earth. Yes, let's have a Zen or frightful crashing party. It is important to feel this move, immense energizing impulse that may seem to be partially or totally irrelevant and so short-timed. At any age, a verse, a word can reach out to our understanding of events, without any prior premonition. Then, each instant teaches individuals and congregations about the relevancy of what others would consider as indistinctive and lacking exact goals or prospects.

As the (Jewish) year floats til its untouchable and invisible borders preceded by the “yamei slichot – days of penance”, the engrossing nature of the present ending-up life & Torah portion looks like some sort of chaotic breaking down shivering of our cultures and societies in a climatic context of imbalance. We are supposed to read with new insights the parashiyot / reading portions and their related haftarot / readings from the Books of the Prophets. Hebrew is quite peculiar because of the great variety of interpretations that are proposed by changing the vowels and phrases. There is also the imperative reference to the Oral Law that brings forth another style of Mishnah and comprehensiveness. Good, we supposedly went out of the Land of Egypt, the House of serfdom. We are free. And we ARE. And God… He does exist / He is life-giving and He does direct our lives. He is One. His goal: humans are One, only one singled out humankind. At the present, Israel has no guaranteed and secured borders. Cities turn to be towns distanced by villages. We emerge with difficulty from years of complex societal shame that corrupts us in different ways. The problem is how to make out of it a cohesive relevant challenge inside the Jewish spiritual life and move up to the future. And to approach the New Year which is a Shemittah / year of remission with much renewed insights.

This week, the parshat hashavua / reading portion is “Ki tavo = When you have to come (into the land)” in Devarim / Deuteronomy 26:1- 29:8. Curiously, the portion scrolls up and down again the wonders that happened with the very first Mitzvot / Commandments given by God since the way out of Egypt. Again, the words try to clarify what seems to remain obscure or at least opaque to the human heart. The last verse of the portion sums up God’s indication: “Therefore diligently observe the words of this covenant so that you may deal wisely (“taskilu et kol asher ta’asun”)” (Deut. 29: 8). Yes, Moses reminds us “that his/our ancestor was a wandering Aramean… who lived as an alien and a poor number (vayagar sham b’mitei me’at = poor as dead and low”) in Egypt” (Deut. 26:5). He recalls that the land of Israel “is flowing with milk and honey - eretz zavat chalav ud’vash” (Deut. 26:9.27:3). He mentions the offering of the first fruit and the tithe to be given to the Levites, the foreigners, the orphans and the widow. This deals with the “orlayim / first fruits” and the “reshit ‘on” as regards the firstborns. It should be important to come to 5768 with the ability to remit all debts and offer the first fruits of a soil that needs a rest. But, basically, we know that by heart. What is the point of newness on the eve of this shemittah year (year of remission)? Any believer, any member of a monotheist denomination may quote by heart these commandments.

It does not prove our unity or benevolence or shows our acceptance of togetherness according to the Mitzvot of the Lord. The country is broken down, the region is parting, and war flames lash not so far from a land that will rest for one full year while others would nuke it. It is intriguing that we will have to work more in the coming year than the earth for which every Jewish soul prays so that it could produce good fruits and flow with milk and honey. The “divrei haberit = the words of the Covenant” announced by the Holy One are also linked to “devorim = bees” that collect the nectar in a sort of oneness task. By the way, queen bees are endangered and suffer from an unknown disease that strongly affects the animal at the moment. Pitcairn Island honey is strictly protected. It constitutes the main income of the descent of the Bounty mutinies. The same process develops in Europe and other continents.

“Foot yawly come yah- why come to that?” as Pitcairn mutinies’ descent say at the present. Because, believers can hardly listen to any warning words, hear and accept them to the full. Any believer – in particular in the One God (various style and moods) – may humble himself, preferably suggesting the others to bow and kneel down. Considering the failure of any mission in India, Gandhi used to stigmatize how all sorts of Jews and Christians peacefully could live and work together, e.g. in Cochin. And the reading portion, two weeks before 5768, a year of remission, summons that nobody has any right to self-glorification, pride. This week, God seriously warns us, again and again, as in the first commencements (rishonim) that He can bless and He can curse, not our enemies – No! He can curse us as Jews, He can curse those who fake to accept the Mitzvot and dishonor them. There is no place for playing the fool with that. But we do continue to play the fool anyway. How God could decide to “remove his chosen”? The problem is that He can do that and we experienced that. And when He does, we have a set of arguments, worked out over the ages to turn that either into some modern apikoros-style (“we doubt, we are secular”). A Jew can hardly say he is an atheist, Gotyenu (Yid. “good gracious”). It sounds arrogantly provocative even if the person means it. But newly-converted Jews (it is an inter-faith process anyway) and some dippy posers might treat themselves or their gurus as smashing ones. At this point, we are really survivors of all the floods and should be take care and behave because hurricanes, storms, earthquakes and tsunamis may be signals to give our nonsense a break and get wiser.

True, “I (God) wonder whether in this generation there is one that accepts “admonition / tokhechah” (Tractate Arakhin 16b) and “Man loves reproofs (“tokhechot”). For as long as reproofs are in the world, ease of the mind comes upon the world as also good and blessing” (Tamid 28a). But Judaism has a one time word, full of ambiguity and realism to describe the position of the true believer: “He’emirechah hayom – a hiphil verbal form = (The Lord) has obtained your agreement / promise / reached that you said – admitted – recognized as His treasured people as He promised you, and to keep His commandments” (Deut. 26:18). Here is the point, the real one, based on the paradox of faith. “Yoqer yaamir… Prices increase and go high” (Sota 49, 72) because “recognition, promise, agreement” may at times be confused with “arrogance, pride, pretence”.

In the positive sense, “he’emir = to admit, recognize” creates a sort of constant link or bond between God and human beings as the bride is engaged with her bridegroom. This relates to the offerings of the first fruits that can be traced back to the way out of Egypt. The mitzvah to don the tefillin / phylacteries is performed as a bridal attachment (Hosea 2:21-22; compared to the Song of Songs and Menachot 60b about “the Throne of Glory / Kisse HaKavod”).

The Evangelist John states something similar in the Book of Revelation: “The Spirit and the bride say “Come – Marana tha” and let everyone who hears say: “Come” (cf. Piyyut “Akdamut milin – Before saying any word”) (Apocalypse 22:16).

This bridal commitment has to be reinforced and this is also a matter of concern in our society. Indeed, we utter words as God spoke His words and they are trustworthy, because we experience as numerous generations before us that they are seeds of what we look for: hope and life.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sheerit: a remnant of believers

As we all know and are getting more and more concerned for different reasons, there is a harsh baby boom competition that turns to an obsessing rush to birth babes on the Jewish side of Israel. There is a sort of fear, a feeling of threat that Jews may be overcome by the competition's generating abilities.

In this "birthing war", we feel on the top of the world and are tickled pink, orange, white and blue. This race is definitely not racist. It is not ethnic: we need babes to birth, more babes and get thousands home made inhabitants that should join the newcomers and all these birthrights & Co Unlimited. We are the State of the Jews, "der Judenstaat" that substantiates Theodore Benyamin Zvi Herzl's vision of the required creation a home refuge for the scattered exiled of worldwide Jewry. Is it a Jewish State?

This is a nuance that does not totally fit or outline what can be understood from Herlz’s German title of the book. Well, the in gathering relates to the Bney Israel (Israelites of Children of Israel), Bney Yaakov, Bney Berit (Children of the Covenant), Bney Yeshurun. Still the "nationality - le'om" usually shows that there are either "Yehudim - Jews" or - as the recent ad claims, nobody will ever take it from us. This usually implies that Yehudim are not the Children of Judah, but mainly "Jewish believers" even if the increasing number of the extant "Jewish" streams might be a bit confusing. Then, we have the "satellite border Jews".

Because, all things being equal, Aharon Barak, the former President of the Supreme Court, could not implement his goal to leave his post by sketching out some clear definition of "who is a Jew". Good, “Jewish” means that the mother is Jewish. This does not mean that her father was a Jew or that there was any understanding of what the realm of the Mitzvot is, or what Jewish faith induces for each Jewish soul.

In the former Soviet Union, a great number of men were "Jewish" according to the Soviet national structure and regulation in force. They became "alien" or "lo barur / not clear - lo rashum / not registered - lo le'om / without nationality" and finally "bebedikah / checked" and thus "like goyim / non-Jews". Indeed, the State of the Jews basically functions, at the present, upon the laws that affected the Jews up to the fourth maternal or paternal ancestors and deported or exterminated because of a presumed ancient Jewish lineage. The same is applicable in the Eastern countries that persecuted "any sort of Jews".

On the other hand, any Jew, living in any country outside Eretz Israel, normally enjoys the full right to return to the homeland; be immediately given all the documents and proof that he/she is duly a citizen if he/she does shows evidence that he/she has some Jewish background. The problem may be more complex for those who come from certain countries like Ethiopia or India. And there is a lot of uncertainty with regards to some individuals or groups who either obtain forged documents bought in messy conditions. Let's say this is a general problem for any new just born-again country.

On the other hand, there is no “born again” contest with regards to the Emunat Israel / Faith of Israel. The State of Israel is indeed considering itself as the refuge and native homeland for all Jews, believers or not. This has raised strong conflicts, but still, the Jewish Orthodox movement is responsible for assuming the present identity of Jewish faithful and belief patterns. These are fought by reformists, conservative, modern Orthodox i.a. and other streams mainly from the West and North America.

In Hebrew, “sheerit – remnant” is connected with the root “sh’er” = “preservation, existence, sustenance, bodily contact, flesh and blood/race as “sh’ereinu – our relatives (compared with Yid. “undzere kinder – our children”) in Tractate Shabbat 1c. Tanhumah Tol’dot 19 (Ed. Buber) refers to the Prophet: “Then the remnant of Jacob amidst many peoples (“sheerit Yaakov beqerev amim rabbim”), shall be like dew from the Lord… and among the Nations, the remnant of Jacob… shall be like a lion” (Micah 5:6[7.8]). Indeed, these verses relate to the well-known verse of Prophet Elijah: “Vehish’arti veIsrael, and I will preserve/ leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18).

Now, we have to keep maintaining that this verse, as others from the Prophets, concerns the Jews as firstly being the community of Israel and not the Church of Christ. The supposedly post-exilic verse “Vehish’arti veqirbech am ‘ani vedal / and I will leave – keep the remnant in your midst of a poor and needy people (of Israel)” (Zephania 3:12) echoes Jeremiah’s verse of “the remnant of those who escaped deportation- to Babylon, the “sheerit Yehudah – remnant of Judah”” (Jeremiah 42: 15.19). It is important to constantly bear in mind that the “remnant of Jacob, Israel, Judah” are the meek and the Chassidim who clutched to the Commandments in times of slaughter and destruction (as the Maccabeans). They do continue to repeatedly teach the Sons of Israel in the context of a full rebuilding process.

Throughout history, the Gospel suggested, in Paul of Tarsus’ writings, that the Gentiles entered the Covenant. They entered the Covenant by the approval of the Jews as members of the Mashiah / Moshiah (Christos), not on the contrary. They were accepted under specific agreements proclaimed by Jacob/James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, a Hebrew Christian (Ch. 15, Acts of the Apostles). But progressively the Gentiles came to consider themselves as being the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), the fellow-citizens with God’s true people (Eph.2.11-22), having entered into the covenant of promise. This a tactic of replacement and usurpation: even though they are the branches of the true vine (John.15:1-6) and have been grafted into the olive tree (Romans 11:17). As if God “wants all men to be saved and to come to know the truth”. (1Timothy 2:4), based on missionary power and exercise of might instead of releasing and free consented faith. They are the true ‘dispersion’ (James 1:1, 1 Peter1:1).

Ever since the first separation that forbade the Hebrew Christians to take part in Jewish services and banned them (“cherem”) from the Jewish communities, the Early Church lost its Jewish part of the Body and disappeared. The Churches and their splits steadfastly captured the Jews mainly by forced conversion and without real integration. It does not mean that Jews could never “move up” in Christian hierarchy. In most cases this had nothing to do with faith and Judaic-Christian “intra-faith” recognition.

Are the death and funeral of Cardinal J. M. Lustiger reigniting any kind of pending polemic? I tried to give some basic explanations in a general context in the previous blog “Zehut” (Aug 17). There is definitely no precedent to his situation, with the exception of Solomon Alexander Pollack who was bar mitzvahed and got appointed as first Anglican archbishop of Jerusalem in 1842. Again, Cardinal Lustiger was called to be a French and not a “Jewish” Bishop. True, he was very Jewish in many aspects, but definitely marked by the tragedy of the times.

It is true that the Churches envisioned for ages the existence of Israel as an odd remnant. Some Jews refused to be baptized during WWII because they did not want to adhere to a faith they might have not shared but could exert some attraction on them. They would not separate from “their people”. “Rarely in the past have conversions of the Jews to Christianity proven to be a courageous act of sacrifice”, declared the German Rabbi Leo Baeck. In that sense, Cardinal Lustiger’s life and Church service showed a real spirit of abandonment that bordered some sort of “irrationalities”. And he could experience that pretending to be a Jew and a Christian might appear as a kind of “sub-cultural stand”.

His views were those of the heads of the Roman Catholic Western Latin Rite French clergy. His question is not the same – thus seemingly parallel - as Father Daniel Rufeisen’s “requirement” to be recognized, by the State of Israel, as a Jew and member of the “lochamey haGettaot – Ghetto fighters” as he saved so many Jews from the Gestapo at Mir and imperiled his life as a Jew. The same is applicable for many other priests of Jewish descent (Fr. Alexander Glasberg, originally from the Ukraine). Both have trees as “Righteous among the Nations” and not in their quality of Jews. Fr. Daniel Rufeisen had strong ties with the Israeli survivors and he got the citizenship, still not as a Jew. Such requirements need time, patience and the consent of the Jews as a full-coherent community of faithful.

Thus, it may be useful for the emergence of a Judenstaat / State of the Jews (Israel) to interrogate Israeli society and authorities that are enabled to contest any Christian pretence. Are we called to be Israelis because our ancestors were either persecuted by the Christians, the Nazi apostates or the atheists? Because the tragedy for a great part of the converted Jews to Christianity is that they turned Christians during the time of the Shoah or, more recently of the “perestroika/fall of communism in the USSR”, while profound societal breaches were roaring inside of traditional Jewries.

Cardinal Lustiger’s epitaph: “Having become Christian by faith and baptism, I have remained Jewish. As did the Apostles” is only understandable in the context of France, full of contradictions toward Dreyfus, Leon Blum, deportation, denunciation and heroic resistance. It is both a courageous act and self-recognition, showing a lot of suffering. But a Jew is irreversibly born to fully proclaim the Resurrection (“mechayeh metim = Who resurrects the dead”). Then, the problem is that historically the Gentile Church did eat up and swallow Jewishness like praying mantis, leaving Judaism moving ahead on its own.

The House of Israel / Klal Israel always retained and developed her primacy of priesthood and service for the blessing of all the Nations. The “sheerit Israel” as it appears in the present in the State of Israel should also consider the possibility of positively considering the presence of Jews as Christian believers and full Israeli citizens, participating to the full, and without proselytizing, to Jewish life and being a full part of the local Church of Zion and Jerusalem. They are indeed numerous and often similarly rebuked by Jewish and Christian authorities alike. They did exist throughout centuries. Yes, Jesus was not born in a free State of the Jews; this does theologically (and not only politically) question the Church. Today, Israel is capable of contradicting the Christian world and breaking their historic monologue. Thus, Israel could have the wit to open the gates and benefit of the large experience of her Christian inhabitants.

Rabbi Gamaliel had asked Shmuel HaKatan to write the “Birkat malshinim – Benediction against the slanderers, minim (heretics)” around 100 CE. It concerned all sorts of Jewish heretics as we have them today in different ways. Very slowly and with much insight, Israel should open a dialogue with those that don’t teach the Jews but survived amidst hostility and despite it because the return to Zion gathers every soul as “They are the Bney Israel and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law (Torah), the worship (Avodah), and the promises…” (Romans 9:4).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ma'akeh: to fall adequately

Are we going through a normal and standardized summer time? This year, Hurricane Dean swayed the Martinique and the Guadalupe islands, Haiti, and licked with heavy storms the Dominican Republic, then turned to Yucatan and Veracruz in Mexico. It wipes from our memories or more accurately the images of our media the tremendously whirling hurricane Katrina that destroyed New Orleans and Louisiana, with billions and billions of damages and homeless.

This year, America breaks its bridges that fall into the rivers and continues to burn oil: waste, waste carelessly the best of the cream produced in the world, especially in the Middle-East. Oh, they are very nice and heartfelt people. At the end of the war of Vietnam, in 1975, they left a bled white Asian country of ancient culture with all sorts of traitors and betrayers, easy businessmen, women and raped children.

The refugees had to show affidavits of support provided by American citizens, mostly the families of the soldiers or their friends that had visited the country during the war. They got very sincere and warmhearted documents allowing them to settle in the United States.

We see them from time to time in the Holy Land. Israel had also given asylum to some Vietnamese refugees who became full Israeli citizens and would almost speak Chinese or Vietnamese with a touch of Yemenite intonation, lol.

Less than 40 years later, the United States and some Allies are still involved in oil conquest, but the country progressively grows old, buildings and public work structures are not that safe. New Orleans is still swampy.

True, California could support most of the States, but there is a move toward new cultures, Spanish is now a must. But it is so easy to revamp and to swagger when a multi-state-fragmented entity is sliding down, too slowly to be on open alert.

Nobody even anticipated the financial real-estate crash…And who would show off in Puerto Rico, the rich harbor full of homeless. This year, there are hurricanes and overheat in Eastern Europe, Greece, Romania while Asia is drowning under the powerful monsoon in India, China. The United Kingdom had floods and muds.

The Arctic cap melts too quickly and soap opera writers anticipate the coming floods that would wet up and clear out huge parts of Europe, creating a sort of real Atlantida. As we live on the Syrian Phoenician Rift that drifts away from the inland everyday, we might have, in some generations, to go to work by scuba diving in some aquariums like Eilat...

But the crazy thing is that the world is actually losing its polar kippah / skullcap because humans are drained with consumption products and wasting mania is so ethical at the present.

Not only waste but also squander in time, opportunities and resources. For instance, Israel has a strong health educational system based on prevention of diseases. In response, narcotics, anorexia, drugs, sexual and alien sicknesses, psychological weaknesses attack the structures that should prevent from more affection.

One year ago, a young Austrian Viennese girl, Natascha Kampusch, escaped from her jail. She had spent eight years in the house of a man who had abducted and kept her imprisoned in a sort of underground attic. She survived and slowly recovers, showing real compassion for her tormentor. She somehow symbolizes all the Mitzvot given by God in the reading portion of the week and the odious infringements of all kinds of ethical behaviors, to begin with sexual direct or fanciful perversions.

Indeed, the parshat hashavua or reading portion of the week is taken from Devarim / Deuteronomy 21:10-25:9 in this Shabbat “Ki tetsei – (when) you go out (to war against your enemies)”. It precisely deals with morals… Of course! All Mitzvot and the whole of the Written and Oral Laws are reflecting on ethics throughout the ages, teaching each generation how to behave.

It does not mean than we understand or even cope with the God’s Commandments. But they are our substantial green that allows us ruminating slowly like our dear milking cows (Tehillim 1:2, “uv’torato yehggeh yomam valeylah – and considers/ruminates His Torah day and night”). Thus, what do people ruminate about? Sex. Well, there is a little problem. “Sex” does not exist in Hebrew.

It may sound bizarre to some citizens, because we are sinking in sex genital prolegomena to the kernel issues of our planet out society. In the reading portion, again God prohibits rapes, women abduction in war times, transvestitism, prostitution, adultery and slander against women, mutilation of male genitalia. This really sounds “sexual”. Actually it might be! But we don’t use the exact word in Hebrew to discuss a matter that is at the heart of any existence. Alas, pedophilia is developing in Israel as it was current in Ancient Greece for different reasons.

Some years ago it created a national cultural and mental shock in Belgium, as also in France and within the Catholic Church in the United States, Ireland and other countries. “Sexus” comes from “secare – to divide, cut. Humans are divided in order to determine their qualities of males and females collectively. The parashah is dealing with the various ways of how to comply or reject the “genital” identity of humans as to control their impulses or taboos.

Sex(us) is declined in the present in: heterosexual, homosexual, transsexual, same-sex, over-sexed and unisex. This has nothing to do with mechanics. And it is indeed a pity that modern religious teachers do not dare clearly and loudly instruct about the mental, physical and spiritual values of our limbs. They do not function as separate robots or golems, but reflect on personal purity or soul life.

“Males and females are called to be one body and soul”, states the Talmud (Menachot 93a). This confirms the value of the first commandment, i.e. to quit father and mother and to “clutch” to a wife (Gen. 2:24). In Hebrew, “Min = sex” and “Person (to the fullest)”. It also interrogates about our origin and destination (Avot 3:1): “Me’a’in = where from”, “min = who, out of (where)”, “man, mah = what” clarifies the irreplaceable dignity and fulfillment of whom and what human beings are called to do with their members, bones and souls, brains, intellect, mind, conscience.

Apparently, sex appears as “raw and wild instinct”. Hebrew shows that it cannot be mechanical or temporary. It always involves creation and therefore feeling. As in a paradox, we hardly would understand and admit that “making love / love-making” is nonsense. Bodies are not toys, robotic actions trying to substantiate human fancy or throw away fears and obsession. “Love = Ahavah = Gr. Agape” undoubtedly refers to Divine Light of creation (= la’assot, yatsar = to make, create, shape”).

Again, Mishney Torah – Deuteronomy hammers down how consciousness should abide our souls and never affect, harm or even damage other inmates, in particular women. One could think that this “wedding warnings and strict commandments” are a consequence of some women weakness. There is no evidence that women are weaker than men. The TaNaKH insists on the fact that woman was shaped in order to assist and even contradict maleness (“ezer kenegdo = a helper against him (Adam) Bereishit 2:20). This maybe nothing new, but the newness is not in the repetition of prohibitive mitzvot. Newness consists in being more aware that any human would like or even prefer to test, taste what is wrong – then get wounded and fall.

In Israel, most women wear pants, and men become more feminized (ornaments, beauty products, unisex clothing). We look again toward own-sex groups that would turn to individual hedonism and loneliness.

Sexual perversions or transgressions are universal; transvestitism can be initiatory (shamanism or Japanese No theater) as pedophilia is for the African Siwan people or the East Bay Papuans. They show up in ancient Jewish and Christianized cultures as symptoms of degenerative tendencies that are very close to primary mental panicking impulses.

We have more cases of incest, which – besides any mitzvot system – is condemned by all human groups with two amazing exceptions: Egyptian Pharaoh’s and the Mormons. This is definitely not some primitive depravation. It only proves how difficult it is for humankind to eradicate the early commencement of a world ruled, without the assistance of a self-controlled conscience; and driven by sudden and instant rages to have a hell and let people fall.

This is why, it is said that we ought to save a fallen donkey or ox (Deut. 22:4), not to kill the mother of fledgings in a nest; and “assita ma’aqah legagech / to build a parapet for the roof of a new house: “otherwise you might have blood-guilt on your house if anyone should fall from it / ki yipol hanofel mimenu” (Deut. 22:8). Now, this commandment should be read in most cities of the country as regards the building of solid security parapets / ma’aqot everywhere.

This sounds a bit peculiar: is there on our roof a being who may fall and make us blood-guilty? The prayer of the Amidah (18 Benedictions) “Mechalkel” has it: “God sustains the living with loving-kindness, resurrects the dead with great mercy, somech noflim / supports the falling…”

There is no competition in faith. There cannot be any sort of jealousy or will to hurt or damage the others. And still, ages have passed and believers would often trap and wrap people in their own stiff-necked spiritual views. As the blessing says, “God sustains and reinvigorates” all beings while we would love to trip someone up because casting down is such a pleasant game for which personal wounds cannot stand.

In times of floods and hurricanes, people are often saved from their roofs. This would also mean that people are not only born to fall in catastrophic situations! This is the kind of hope beyond any hope that Jews have shown: we are like bouncing babes that stare at the sight that what seems impossible is real and extant.

In August 79 CE, Mount Vesuvio lashed its stream of volcanic fire destroying Pompeii and Herculaneum that remained hidden for centuries.

Why in the world is the Arctic ice removing the (skull)cap of the Earth at present?