...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Good Shabbos

This morning at P'nai Or there was a special Children's Shabbat service before the adult service; if I had known, maybe I would have lingered over my breakfast a little more and finished drying my hair rather than rush to the schul--but on the other hand, listening to Reb Aryeh's discussion with the little children, I learned a few more Hebrew words, and witnessed one of my favorite Jewish Renewal moments yet.

When I arrived to the schul, Reb Aryeh was sitting on the floor with a circle of maybe eight or nine kids around him, mostly boys, mostly younger than six, mostly in kippot, leading a discussion on last week's Torah portion, Genesis 28, in which Yaakov (Jacob) has a dream vision of angels ascending and descending a ladder to the heavens. The Hebrew word for angel, malach, can also be translated "messenger," and as Reb Aryeh pointed out, the gematria for "ladder" is the same as "Mt. Sinai," which suggests a mystical equivalence between the two concepts. The kids hurled questions at the rabbi: "How can an angel go up the ladder and then down the ladder if they start in heaven?" "How can you go higher up the ladder if you're already at the top?" "How can you go further down the ladder if you're already at the bottom?" "What if you stay at the middle of the ladder?" Rather than discourage the kids or move on with his lesson, the rabbi encouraged them while deftly steering the conversation back to his original point: "These are such great midrashim; let's look at what Yaakov does here..." But the kids kept piping up, more and more until the rabbi cried out, "Oy, it's like I'm living in the Zohar!"