Rank #1: GC#118 - I Open At The Close - Perek Shira 49 - The Trees of The Field Sing Part 2
Part 2 of The Song of The Trees explores Hoshana Rabbo as a culmination of the Yomim Noraim, its relationship with Yom Kippur, Neila and its connection with our growing relationship with Hashem - as children, rather than servants.
I dedicate this episode to the Woodlands people, where I originally 'wood' have said these words at Neila.
Oct 09 2020
Rank #2: GC#117 - The Root of All Good - Perek Shira 48 - The Trees of The Field Sing Part 1
Chapter 3 begins with the song of the trees of the field. They sing of Hashem judging the world. What have trees got to do with justice? And what potential connection is there to the months of Elul and Tishrei - where we are told that 'the King is in the field?'
The clue is in the familiar fact that we sing about our impending sentences for the coming year - serious, yet happy...tune in for the first installment of the message of the trees.
Oct 08 2020
Rank #3: GC#116 - The Raining King - Perek Shira 47 - The Rain Song Part 2
As the last few hours of the year pass; as the last day of Elul passes, it is time to reflect on the craziest year in most of our lifetimes. How has it been? Do we feel closer or more distant? What should we feel?
Part of the secret may lie within the concept of Elul itself. Embedded in source after source, we need to explore what our task is over this period of time.
The Gemoro In Bava Basra relates how Iyov suggested that he was suffering because, perhaps, Hashem mixed up Iyov with 'Oyev' - meaning 'enemy'. Amongst the responses that Hashem gave to Iyov, was one where He said:
“Who has divided a channel for the torrent of rain, or a path for the lightning of thunder”? I have created many drops of water in the clouds, and for each drop I created its own channel, so that two drops should not emerge from the same channel. If two drops were to emerge from the same channel they would destroy the earth and it would not yield produce. Now, if I do not confuse one drop with another, would I confuse Iyov with oyev?
Now, amongst the many ideas behind this deep passage, is the fact that Hashem controls every single individual raindrop. He is aware of every placement. This is remarkably reminiscent of the famous prayer of Unesaneh Tokef which we will say over Rosh Hashono and Yom Kippur. There, we describe the precision with which Hashem scrutinises every individual, like sheep.
He maintains an exclusive relationship with every single one of us, and we receive exactly what we should. But if we desire a positive connection, we have to make the first move. As we have noted before, the first few steps of AA express the need to acknowledge that we are powerless and need the assistance of 'a Power greater than ourselves'.
If we want that connection, we have the opportunity to grab the reins, by recognising who is holding the rains.
Have a sweet, inspiring and healthy year ahead!
Sep 17 2020
Rank #4: GC#115 - Raining Supreme - Perek Shira 46 - The Rain Song Part 1
'Such Gashmiyus!' One of those annoying phrases you hear when you're tucking in to a particularly tasty piece of food....It's calculated to rile you - makes you feel guilty for enjoying the physical too much.
But is it a crime? The Gemoro tells us that after 120 years, we will have to give an accounting for the physical pleasures that were permitted to us, and we did not partake thereof.
A more careful examination will show us that a key part of our prayers is asking for rain - particularly in Israel, but a key part nevertheless. It is intimately connected to financial and economic wellbeing. That doesn't sound very spiritual, does it?
Well, think again. Our prayers for the physical, are a bridge to the spiritual. And Hashem's response? The rain - a bridge from the spiritual to the physical. Geshem - rain. The root of Gashmiyus...
Sep 07 2020
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Rank #5: GC#114 - Call Of Dewty - Perek Shira 45 - Song of The Dew Part 3
I wonder if you ever found yourself in a situation where you complained about something, and had the tables turned on you. You were the one charged with the mission to rectify the situation. Gulp - we might just retract that complaint..
It's one thing to complain. It is another to act upon that complaint. We find the paradigm of such a character in Shoftim. Unsurprisingly, Gidon became a Judge over the Jewish nation. His qualification? He cared. When he complained about not experiencing Hashem's presence, he is not being an armchair observer. He genuinely cares - which unlocks his potential. He is then given further instructions - and answers to the call of duty.
We find the dew waiting for us in the morning. Like our Beloved - that Shlomo describes in Shir Hashirim, who is willing to wait outside patiently, for us to let Him in - hair wet from the dew that He has been sleeping on. Hashem promises to be the fresh, protective dew that not only protected the Manna in the desert, but kept it fresh, vibrant and ready - dew is a symbol of revival and life. This is why Gidon asks for a sign in this area. He goes with the strength of wishing to protect his nation, whilst understanding that it is ultimately in Hashem's hands.
With his tiny army of 300 - against almost 150 thousand, he goes to war - armed with nothing but torches, jugs and Shofaros (The Midianites had confiscated all metal from them). There can be no hope to win such a battle...
...but he does...Next time we are called to stand up for something, are we going to accept it as our own call of duty?
Aug 14 2020
Rank #6: GC#113 - The Wandering Dew - Perek Shira 44 - The Song of The Dew Part 2
Apologies for my absence over the last few days. I’m back…Like the Rose of Jericho, when all seems dead, a little bit of water, and it’s back to life. I write these words as rain – the subject of the next song after the dew – is hammering down on the sun-drenched, sun-hardened, parched earth. This can cause flash floods.
Not so with dew. Dew is always welcome. And always present. It is fresh, constant and used as a motif for unconditional blessing from Heaven by no less a personality than Yitzchok, and indeed Moshe too.
Not everything in life is unconditionally free. In fact, very little is. The rain is not, but the dew is. The dew which is a symbol of revival – and therefore survival. The Jew may wander far away. But the Jew is just waiting to be awoken, by the little splash of inspiration that the dew can provide.
Aug 13 2020
Rank #7: GC#112 - Unconditional Positive Regard - Perek Shira 43 - The Song of The Dew Part 1
Have you ever held a resurrection plant? Perhaps you know it as a dinosaur plant? Or a Rose of Jericho? We have a small version of it at home – bought in a desert shop in Israel. A shriveled up flower on a rock. It can stay that way for years.
But here comes the miracle. Add a few drops of water…4 hours later – a beautiful flower is in full bloom. You can get them online.
Unless attached to something, they are blown about in the wind in the desert - a type of tumbleweed (though they are not dead - it's complicated).
They look dead though.
The Jewish nation in exile. They have also looked dead from time to time. A little bit of water, life, Torah…and suddenly in the desert of Golus there is a resurgence, a reemergence and a return of the nation. We call that Teshuva.
This is the song that the dew sings. The dew revives. It is a blessing. And it sings a song from Hoshea – from the chapter dealing with Teshuva – Return to Hashem O Israel.
Yet in this verse, Hashem says that He will stick by us in any case. Wow! Another early example of Unconditional Positive Regard.
Lucky us! Maybe it’s time to return the compliment…
Aug 07 2020
Rank #8: GC#111 - Not Valentine's Day - Perek Shira 42 - The Song of Lightning
Valentine’s Day? Absolutely Not! Barely heard of, and painfully misunderstood when it has been heard of, Tu B’Av is not Cupid drawing back his bow to fire the arrows of romance into the hearts of hopefuls. It has nothing in common with a whole mish-mash of a pagan fertility festival with the martyrdom of three saints (of whom one used to perform clandestine marriages – until he was caught). Nor has it anything to do with American gangsters – Al Capone and Bugs Moran, their rivalry or associated massacres on that day and beyond...
No. Instead, it becomes the happiest day in the calendar, to rival Yom Kippur (which itself need an explanation).
How can it be on par with Yom Kippur and what is so inspiring about the day?
Ah – inspiration – that is the key. A bolt of lightning to illuminate the skies. Lasting barely a moment, if you are looking, it directs you. Now let it direct us…
Aug 05 2020
Rank #9: GC#110 - Happy Birthday Moshiach! - Perek Shira 41 - Song of The Wind
Do you know anyone called 'Menachem-Shilo-Yinon-Chanina'? You do? My bet is that they were born on Tisha B'Av. This would be the parents' attempt to ensure fame for their little 'Tzaddikel'.
The truth is, since when are we so deterministic? If you don't have at least one of those names, then you can't be Moshiach? And if you were born on any of the other 353 days, then forget it?
Obviously, this brooks further investigation. What is the significance of these factors? And why does it have to be the worst day in the year that heralds the potential best day ever?
The beginnings of the answer lie in the song that the wind sings, in order to call in the exiled Jewish nation from the four corners of the globe. That same wind which dispersed, is connected to the spirit of Moshiach himself.
Aug 03 2020
Rank #10: GC#109 - On Cloud Nine - Perek Shira 40 - The Clouds of Glory Sing
One of the interesting theories of the origin of the phrase 'to be on cloud nine' dates from 1896, when a certain Sir Ralph Abercromby was involved in the new grading of cumulonimbus clouds as a level 9 cloud. They are the densest and tallest of all clouds, producing rain and often called thunderheads.
Tisha b'Av is a cloud on day 9 of the month in which Aharon - in whose merit we had the protective Clouds of Glory - died. And whilst it all seems hopeless, dark and threatening, day 9 is the day which signals the birth of Moshiach too.
The point of crying in Judaism, is not to wallow in grief - it is to cry for what was lost, and aspire for its return, or rebirth. Out of the ashes. The ashes which we dip the egg - the symbol of birth and rebirth - into.
Before the tragic day even begins...
Jul 31 2020