Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Post-Trauma Blues
by: Schvach Yid

Thank Gd for haircuts!

Now then, now that Tisha B’Av has ended, I hope your fast was not easy – it’s not supposed to be (I only fast on Yom Kippur). The Shabbatot of chastisement, followed by Tisha B’Av and then the 7 Shabbatot of conciliation mimic a parent/child event: first the parent’s anger, then the malchus (beating), and then the post-event consolation. But the 7 Shabbotot of compassion

that follow Tisha B’Av are in turn followed by the Day of Judgement (Yom HaDin) – also called the Day of Remembrance (Yom HaZicharon), ie, Rosh HaShana – which is quickly followed by Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement (actually the Day of lot).

The closing of Tammuz through the first 10 days of Tishrei is painful; thankfully, this period is quickly followed by Succos, and Simchas Torah, and then by Chanukah, Purim, Pesach, and Shavuos - all are commemorations and observances of joy. Baruch HaShem, most of the Jewish calendar is filled with Torah observances of happiness; but for perhaps one quarter of the year we ‘catch it’. We really must remember – it’s required.

Not so long ago I downloaded a piece of freeware. Attached, and unsolicited by me, appeared a file titled Evil and Suffering, - a ditty on Isaiah 45:7 - ‘I make peace and create evil’. This piece harps on how a ‘good and loving Gd’ could have possibly created evil. It’s an old philosophical debate to which I won’t attempt a contribution – I’m not qualified. But ‘once upon a time’ there lived a rabbi named Aryeh Kaplan (may he rest in peace) who was fond of pointing out this bit from Isaiah.

Rabbi Kaplan was a prodigious translator of Kabbalistic texts (Sefer Bahir, Sefer Yetzirah, works by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (the Ramchal), works of Reb Nachman of Breslov), and authored his own original works, some of which center on the connection of Judaism and meditation (Jewish Meditation – A Practical Guide, The Bible and Meditation, Meditation and Kabbalah). He died in 1984 at the age of 48.

Through the course of the Jewish year we oscillate in a sense, or better yet, we get flipped. First it’s sunshine – very nice; then it’s sunburn – oy! Not to worry about evil; it’s all about how we conduct and comport ourselves, or as we are taught in Pirkei Avos – a chapter of which is read every Shabbos afternoon after Mincha at this time of year – ‘good deeds must exceed one’s wisdom’ (quote is approximate).

Evil, of course, is not necessarily the issue. Throughout the Chumash we are told that HaShem has attributes that mirror human emotions and function. His 13 Attributes list His various components of Chesed, but there’s much more. He judges, He kills, He brings plagues and famine. He takes revenge (it belongs exclusively to HaShem – just read Mishle). Sometimes it seems that HaShem’s revenge appears personal and petty, but with hefty results, as in ‘you’ll eat meat until it disgusts you; until it comes out of your nostrils’ (quote approximate).

The point is that accountability is the issue, not ‘evil’. Beyond love and compassion and miracles and forgiveness there’s our accountability, as individuals and as a Nation.

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