July 19, 2013 admin

Benevolence exude

A man once said to his rabbi, ‘I read thirty-nine explanations of the verse “Lift up your eyes and behold, who created these” but I never understood it. Then one night I saw for myself the beauty of the stars.” “You must write that down”, said the rabbi, impressed. “Then there’d just be forty explanations, instead of thirty-nine”, replied the man.
Who hasn’t looked up and, seeing the moon and the stars, stopped and watched and then walked on feeling as if infinity itself had washed out the heart with dew? A woodpecker came to the feeder in the pine tree the other day, bringing glory, with its red on its head and under its tummy and the black and white on the end of its wings.
Despite everything, it’s a wonderful world. ‘Look up’, says Isaiah, ‘and see, who created these?’ My God is not some hidden being who made that bird with a sort of superhuman hand, only larger, that we cannot comprehend; my God is in the life of that bird and the freedom of all birds, and beyond, beyond, in the germ and the life of all things.
And despite everything we do wrong in the human world, despite the harshness of fate and the cruelties we inflict, there’s still hope, courage, kindness, goodness, and love.
I visited David Jackson this week. I miss him around the synagogue which, when he had at least a portion of his health, he attended assiduously. He was among the first at every service, and was never absent from any class. He would sit in my Talmud Shiur, his text full of notes, with a grin on his face and some pun on his lips while Safi, my previous dog, sat knowingly behind him and David, imagining we weren’t all watching, furtively passed him broken sticks of Kit-Kat and curls of croissant.
I visited him at Lady Sarah Cohen. His health wasn’t the greatest but his heart and his soul certainly were. ‘I go over in my mind the important words’, he told me, ‘Tikvah,hope; chesed, loving-kindness; chaim, life; emunah, faith; tovah, goodness’. He’s written nine books of poetry over the last years. Here’s a verse from ‘Friendliness’
          Be neighbourly – be genial-
          Benevolence exude,
          Have an amiable – affectionate
          Agreeable attitude. 
If I had the contacts I’d introduce him and Caitlin Moran to each other. She wrote last week about the advice she’d leave to her daughter: ‘Just resolve to shine, constantly and steadily, like a warm lamp in the corner, and people will want to move towards you in order to feel happy…You will be bright and constant in a world of flux.’
Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Consolation comes right after the three weeks of anguish culminating in the fast of the Ninth of Av. It teaches us that there’s joy in the world, as well as sorrow, and hope as well as pain. Above it all, it tells us never to despair of life. It’s a beautiful world, and any of us and all of us can help to make it and keep it that way.

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