...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, June 28, 2008


This morning at P'nai Or there was an adult bar mitzvah (occasionally adults who didn't have the opportunity or the inclination to have a bar/bat mitzvah ceremony when they were twelve or thirteen study and prepare for one later in life). The service was so moving: the man's emotion at taking on the responsibility, his wife and teenage daughter's support, the ecstatic dancing during the Mi Chamocha. To me, it perfectly captured the Jewish Renewal mentality and approach to tradition; I wanted to bottle the experience and carry it with me to help describe Renewal to others.

The Torah portion this morning was Korach, from the book of Numbers--it's the story of a man named Korach and a couple of his friends who question why Moses and Aaron should have all the power. Are not all the children of Israel holy? God punishes Korach's rebellion and causes the earth to swallow him and his followers up. In his d'var Torah ("words of Torah," a sermon/speech about the portion) the bar mitzvah man shared some of his wrestling with the text; for him, as for me, it can seem that God is punishing Korach for raising a very legitimate complaint. Why should Moses and Aaron hold all the power? My feelings about the text reminded me of the way that I kind of always sided with Judas in one of the gospel stories: maybe that fine ointment should have been sold and the money donated to the poor. I know the traditional explanations of those verses, and the rabbi did some 'splaining about how the text indicates that Korach, like Judas in that gospel story, was pursuing his own glory and enrichment. Still, though.

Tomorrow I'm leaving for Ruach Ha'Aretz ("The Spirit of the Earth"), a Jewish Renewal retreat in Redmond, Oregon. I'm a mix of excited and nervous right now--nervous about dedicating pretty much a solid week to Jewish practice, prayer, and learning, and excited about, well, dedicating a solid week to Jewish practice, prayer, and learning! I don't think I'll have internet access while I'm there (the resort probably has wireless, but I'm leaving the computer in Portland) so the blog will take a little vacation as well (although with my recent lack of frequent updates, if I hadn't said anything about going out of town, you probably would not notice a difference.) I Hope everyone has a nice 4th!