Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Second Chances...

That's right, pals and gals, it's time for The Pig of Death's first-ever words of Torah!!!

What's the occasion, you ask? After all, I know you've been waiting in nail-biting anticipation for my official review of Serenity (the first 9 minutes of which you can stream FULLSCREEN via a kick-ass new web-video codec developed by a company called Vividas), and I know you've been dying for a link to a really kickin' new song by Ethiopian artist Ejigayehu Shibabawat that a friend at work helped to remix...

So why, all of a sudden, would I force my loyal readership to consider serious and/or deep thoughts on the nature of the universe when I should be seductively plying them with the literary/pop-cultural wiles to which they have become so solipsistically accustomed?

The short answer: The Day of Atonement looms forebodingly ahead and I'd like to make whatever teensy-tinsy step towards repentance that I still can, allright?!? Honestly, people, can't you just shut up and read the damn davar Torah before I change my mind?!?!? Sheezis...


(Paraphrased Extensively from R. Avi Weiss' Rosh Hashana Discourse at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, October 5, 2005)

The dinosaurs didn't get a second chance, but the X-Men did.

All day on Rosh Hashana, we say over and over, "Hayom Har'at Ha'olam," or "Today the world was created." But which world was it that was created -- the antediluvian world of the dinosaurs, or the postdiluvian world of the X-Men?

Regardless of the "real" answer to that question, we know that Rosh Hashana commemorates the creation of human beings, who live in the postdiluvian world of the X-Men (which is not to say that we are all mutants with superhuman powers (though some of us undoubtedly are)). We live in this world because G-d, after his famous decision to destroy the world with an enormous flood (one which He seems to be revisiting in miniature lately all over the world), decided that humankind really was a worthwhile project, and that we could continue developing. Thus, through Noah, version 2.0 of planet Earth commenced.

Fast-forward to Mount Sinai. Moses goes onto the mountain to get the 10 Commandments. He comes down, and the children of Israel are feasting, frolicking and fornicating (the three F's) next to an enormous golden Cow. Moses is uber-pissed and breaks the tablets into tiny pieces. G-d is uber-UBER-pissed and says, "No WAY are they getting a second chance!!!" Moses basically convinces Him to go back on that one (and 10 points goes to whoever can tell me on which day it was that G-d changed his mind).

Then the Jewish people merit to go into the land of Israel 40 years later. Then they asses get kicked clear to Babylonia. 70 years hence, they once again merit entry into the Land. Many Sages® say that their second entry into the Land was the "eternal" one, and that all subsequent returns (i.e. after 1948, etc.) are really just continuations of that second entry, in approximately 568 BCE.

It's all about second chances, baby. G-d keeps giving the world, humankind, and the Jewish people second chances to get it right.

This of course begs the obvious question: what's a "perfect" G-d need to do things twice fer? Why make the dinosaurs only to destroy 'em and leave their bodies to decompose and become... fossil fuel... okay maybe I answered that one... but seriously, WHY'S G-D ALWAYS DOING THINGS TWICE?

I think it's a universal truth that when we invest ourselves in revisiting something (or someone), it's usually because we are interested in a deeper level of relationship with them. It's usually because we want to surmount the problem that drove us away the first time around in order to explore further into that thing's (or person's) potential compatability with us. Also, it's because the deepest and strongest love that exists in this world is the love which has been stretched out like a rubber band and snapped back into your face.

Which love is deeper -- the love of newlyweds, who are as itchin' to get into each others' pants as they are ignorant of the other's faults, or the love of great-granparents whose relationship has spanned half-a-century of letdowns, disappointments, failures, lovers' spats, bad moods, and horrendous B.O.?

According to Rabbi Weiss, G-d gives us all these second chances because our flaws and mistakes are what He loves most about us. Our flaws and mistakes are what us enable us to serve Him in the truest way, in a way that even the Angels cannot serve Him -- from a place of need, from a place of lacking, from a place of imperfection that strives towards perfection. Rebbe Nachman calls this place the reshimas haBitul, the "impression of nullification," referring to the cosmic "pocket" within each of our souls that contains the most profound yearning and longing for G-d, that special place which is "nullified" or "incomplete," the place from which our flaws and mistakes originate. How could G-d not love that special place within us, from which the deepest longing and yearning for Him emanate?

Anyway, Rabbi Weiss took this in different directions, but his overall message was that G-d gives us second chances in order to have a relationship with us that is based on our true selves, and not on first impressions. I want to bless all of my readers (and myself) with a Yom Kippur in which we are able to look fondly and lovingly upon ourselves and our fellows, in which we can dismiss our judgements of their mistakes and flaws as much as possible and look upon them as G-d does -- with love for the potential of their true selves.

G'mar Chasima Tova.


At 2:44 PM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous Youknowwho said...

Amen! Great blog today! May you and Sarah have an easy fast.

At 5:13 PM, October 13, 2005, Blogger WanderingStu said...

Praise the Lord-- I hope that you and Sarah had a rough fast, and one that made you think deeply about this life, and reconsider what is truly important, which , in your cases are the following three things (in order:

1) the little peanut in the bath tub
2) Tati
3) Uncle Stuie.

nice Torah, and nice shot of the X-men. But I am a little upset-- I post about a MIDGET IN A BRELEV KIPPAH and don't even get a peep from you???



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