Leon's Newsletter 52: Loyalty and Compassion
I never cease to be amazed at the tricks I play on myself to keep myself from writing newsletters and articles. I like thinking about the things that are happening and giving my opinion on historical events to tourists, but I'm forever avoiding the job of writing these things down.
There are definitely two audiences to our thoughts and words. One is ourselves the other is the readers and listeners of our thoughts. It's much easier to think and not write or speak to anyone. It should also be easy to write our thoughts for ourselves only. It's only difficult to write as if nobody is going to see our words.
While trying to remember all the no news events that happened to me in Israel I come to the realization that special days like Jewish Festivals are very important memory joggers.
Since I last wrote, at the beginning of May, we've celebrated three festivals that I can think of offhand.
We started with Lag B'Omer, went on to Jerusalem day and ended with Shavuot. In between these time markers there were also the weekly parsha's (portions of the Torah) and there were various lectures and even one opera which I attended.
Recently I've started going to lectures on the weekly parsha on Sunday evenings. The last one was on the Parsha "Be-ha-alotcha" (when you lift up) Num 8:1 – 12:16
The lecturer was Jackie Levy who writes a piece in the Yediot newspaper. He was talking about the part where Miriam supposedly was punished with leprosy for talking slander against Moses. I was disappointed that he didn't use the word "supposedly" as I have done. Nowhere in the Parsha does it say that this was the crime of Miriam and nowhere does it say that leprosy was given by God as a punishment for talking slander. Yet Mr. Levy and most people who read that story in the Bible come to the same conclusion that the crime is slander and the punishment is leprosy.
In my, humble opinion these conclusions are slander themselves. The Bible is pointing out a trap into which we all fall all the time, namely imputing wrong reasons to real events. This habit leads to slander and having wrong opinions about other people that lead to wrong actions. It would be much better and wiser to withhold explanations of human behavior than to jump to conclusions that lead to bad actions and very often misery.
I am proud to say that I was in Jaffa rd. when the Jerusalem day parade went past. It was a pleasure to see the street lined with thousands of people and colorful floats rolling by. It was a kind of combined first fruits and Jerusalem Day parade. You could even get a glass of free orange juice in Zion Square.
On Shavuot people study Torah all night and early in the morning go to the Kotel (the Western Wall) to pray and to celebrate the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. I had my share of cheese cake as befits the celebration.
Foods produced with milk feature prominently on Shavuot because the Torah is compared to Milk. As it says in Deuteronomy "And He brought us to this place and He gave us this land a land flowing with Milk and honey". (Deut 26:9)Milk and honey are associated with the land no less than 23 times in the Bible. When the Bible says God is bringing us to a land of milk and honey it means He's bringing us to a land where there is Torah. Milk and honey are a simile for Torah.
It's always a gala occasion for me to go to the opera, even though it means two buses and taxis and getting home at 1 in the morning. This time it was "Cosi fanTutte" (Everybody's doing it) at the Tel Aviv opera house.
For me this opera tried to show that many people associate disloyalty and compassion with women and that very often men exploit the one to encourage the other to gain favors from women.
My opinion is that everybody, both men and women are capable of both great loyalty and disloyalty as well as great compassionate and there are many unscrupulous individuals who are very clever at exploiting these characteristics to achieve unholy objectives.
Wishing you a great no news day.