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Archive for Novembre de 2009

 

Rabí Jonàs de Girona va anomenar aquest Salm com el Salm de la conversió (del cor.) Probablement el verset més conegut del Salm 51 sigui el 17 on diu  “Obriu-me els llavis, Senyor, i la meva boca proclamarà la vostra lloança.” Aquest verset és comú a les tradicions jueves i cristianes com a fórmula per a obrir  la pregària. En el cas el judaisme és el verset que ens introdueix en la amidà, la pregària de les 18 benediccions (7 en Xabat) que diem en silenci mentre estem dempeus.
Recordem el text del Salm (Versió Bíblia de Montserrat)
1 Del mestre de cant. Salm. De David.
2 Quan anà a trobar-lo el profeta Natan després d’haver-se unit amb Bet-Sabé.
3 Compadiu-vos de mi, Déu meu, vós que estimeu tant;
vós que sou tan bo, esborreu les meves faltes;
4 renteu-me ben bé de les culpes,
purifiqueu-me dels pecats.
5 Ara reconec les meves faltes,
tinc sempre present el meu pecat.
6 Contra vós, contra vós sol he pecat,
i he fet el mal que vós desaproveu.
Éreu just quan donàveu la sentència,
irreprensible en el vostre veredicte.
7 Vós sabeu que he nascut en la culpa,
que la mare m’engendrà pecador.
8 Vós estimeu la veritat al fons del cor,
dintre meu m’heu ensenyat a tenir seny.
9 Aspergiu-me amb l’hisop, que quedi pur;
renteu-me, i seré més blanc que la neu.
10 Deixeu-me sentir els crits de festa.
Quin goig aquests ossos que havíeu fet pols!
11 Aparteu la mirada dels meus pecats,
esborreu les meves culpes.
12 Déu meu, creeu en mi un cor ben pur,
feu renéixer en mi un esperit ferm.
13 No em llanceu de la vostra presència,
no em prengueu el vostre esperit sant.
14 Torneu-me el goig de la vostra salvació,
que un esperit magnànim em sostingui.
15 Ensenyaré els vostres camins als pecadors,
i tornaran a vós els qui us han abandonat.
16 No em demaneu compte de la sang que he vessat,
i aclamaré el vostre perdó,
Déu meu, Déu que em salveu.
17 Obriu-me els llavis, Senyor,
i proclamaré la vostra lloança.
18 Les víctimes no us satisfan,
si us oferia un holocaust, no me’l voldríeu.
19 La víctima que ofereixo és un cor penedit;
un esperit que es penedeix,
vós, Déu meu, no el menyspreeu.
20 Afavoriu Sió amb la vostra benvolença,
reconstruïu les muralles de Jerusalem.
21 Llavors acceptareu els sacrificis,
l’ofrena sencera dels holocaustos,
llavors oferiran vedells al vostre altar.
Sempre m´ha semblat estrany que la tradició triés aquest verset com a preludi per a una pregària, especialment per introduir un moment tant íntim en tota la litúrgia diària. No hauria tingut més sentit dir alguna altra cosa com “aquí estic, Déu meu, disposat a iniciar una conversa amb Tu,” o “Permet-me que em presenti” o alguna altra fórmula que possés de relleu la natura del diàleg d’allò que ha de seguir immediatament? Si imaginem la pregària com un diàleg amb la divinitat, llavors cal que hi hagi dos participants diferenciats.
Tot al llarg de la Bíblia i en el sidur, o llibre de pregàries, Déu i la persona estan diferenciats, separats. Són figures autònomes i independents. Déu diu això, nosaltres diem allò. Déu està aquí, nosaltres estem allà. L’energia creada per aquesta relació rau precisament en el fet que estem separats, diferenciats. Si és aixì, llavors per què la més personal de les pregàries ha de començar amb una negació de la autonomia i el lliure albir?
El Salm traduït literalment diu “i la meva boca proclamarà la vostra lloança” Però de qui és la boca de la que estem parlant?! Meva? O de Déu? Qui lloarà Déu? Déu o jo? Cal buscar una explicació a aquesta paradoxa.
Per a entendre aquest verset cal que ens situem en un paradigma espiritual diferent en el que la persona i Déu no estan separats, no es diferencien l’un de l’altra sinó que un està en l’altre. Déu seria com la mar i nosaltres seriem les onades. La meva boca és la boca de Déu i les meves lloances són les lloances de Déu. Déu no escolta les nostres pregàries sinó que Déu també les prega a través nostre.
Pot semblar com si les paraules de la amidà, o pregària personal, que venen després d’aquest verset, vinguessin de mi, però en realitat venen d’una font diferent. Això ens ensenya que el veritable objectiu de la pregària és ser un exercici per a deixar anar els nostres egos tant enrocats, d’altra banda, en aquest món en aquest món en què tots som diferents i separats, i adonar-nos que hi ha santedat en tot els éssers, i que nosaltres en som una expressió.
Per què esperar fins a aquest punt de la litúrgia per a demanar a Déu que ens obri la boca? Quan arrivem a la amidà ja hem passat pels cants d’introducció, la recitació de salms i la xemà (Deut 6, 6-11) amb les seves 4 benediccions, no hauria estat més lògic haver començat la litúrgia amb aquesta petició? Si com he dit abans considerem la pregària com un exercici d’alliberament dels nostres egos, té sentim que haguem començat amb una reflexió de qui som i a partir d’aquest punt bàsic haguem anat pujant aquesta escala espiritual fins arribar a aquest punt en què ens donem completament i ja no tenim la capacitat d’obrir la nostra boca. Ja no hi ha  “jo” i  per tant ja no tenim la capacitat d’actuar per nosaltres mateixos per això demanem a Déu que ens obri la boca “i els meus llavis proclamaran la seva lloança”

 

 

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Quan va esclatar la guerra de l’Iraq i Afganistan, ara ja uns anys, la majoria de les columnes d’opinió dels mitjans solien recollir referències sobre llibres que parlaven del final de l’imperi. Aquests autors, fent paral·lelismes amb altres imperis de la història, avançaven el final de la hegemonia dels Estats Units en el món. La tesis bàsica era que tot allò que puja ha de tornar a baixar.
Fa dos mil anys els rabins que els rabins varen arribar a una conclusió a partir del text del que llegirem aquest proper dissabte. Es tracta de la paraixà coneguda amb el nom de Vaietsé. El text comença amb la marxa de Jacob de casa dels pares per por que Esau vulgui revenjar-se. Passarà la primera dormint al ras. Aquella mateixa nit tindrà un somni tot curiós “hi havia una escala apuntalada a terra i la punta tocava al cel; àngels de Déu hi pujaven i baixaven.” (Gen 28,12)
Els rabins posen atenció en el fet que els àngels primer pugen i després baixen. En un midraix, o explicació sobre el text bíblic, els rabins equiparen aquests àngels amb imperis del passat i del present.  L’imperi assiri estaria representat per un àngel, l’imperi persa per un altre, el grec per un altre àngel i el romà per un altre. Tots aquests àngels/imperis haurien pujat, és a dir, haurien tingut el seu moment de desenvolupament i màxim esplendor per després anar-lo perdent fins a que quedar en no res.  Aquest somni té lloc en el context de la fugida per por d’Esau. Com que en la primera literatura rabínica a Roma se li aplica el nom d’Esau, els rabins traspassen el context bíblic a aquesta interpretació midriaxica i conclouen que Jacob temia que Roma/Esau quedés per sempre en el poder. El que Déu diu en el següent verset, per tant, hauria de ser entès com una resposta a aquesta por de la supremacia de l’imperi romà: “Jo sóc amb tu, jo et guardaré pertot arreu on vagis i et tornaré en aquest país; no t’abandonaré que no hagi acomplert tot el que t’he dit.” (Gen 28,15)
Quan més grans ens fem, més conscients som dels tombs que fa la vida; de com, els qui un dia són pugen en el poder, després cauen i tornen petits confirmant-nos en la teoria que allò que puja, baixa. Els rabins que varen fer aquesta interpretació midraixica varen viure al voltant de l’any 100 en unes circumstàncies de persecució i destrucció per part dels romans. No hi ha res que és els pogués fer més por que la idea d’una Roma sense fi, però també tenien  la esperança que li arribaria el seu temps.
Aquest midraix, més que fer una predicció històrica, és una afirmació sobre quins són els orígens del veritable poder i què és el que el sosté . Tots els imperis han estat grans poders militars que han conquerit territoris i han bastit grans exèrcits, però, tard o d’hora, han caigut. La veritable força del poder, doncs, no ve dels  nombres o d’un exèrcit sino de l’esperit i els valors pel que viuen les persones i la societat, tal com va escriure el profeta Zacaries: “No valen ni força ni armes, només compta el Meu esperit.” (Zac 4,6)
Aquesta veritat sembla anar en contra del que ens diu el sentit comú. Jutgem els països pel seu poder militar i valorem a la gent per les seves possessions i els diners que tenen, però el veritable valor no es troba en la quantitat sinó en la qualitat. El que compta no són els nombres sinó els valors i els principis que regeixen les nostres vides i la vida de la nostra societat.
R. Jonathan Sacks, el rabí ortodox en cap de la comunitat jueva del Regne Unit, explica una anècdota de Montefiore qui va ser un gran mecenes altruista de la comunitat jueva. Un cop algú li va demanar en quant xifraria el seu valor. Ell va meditar uns segons i va respondre amb una xifra. “Apa! Haurà de ser una mica més que això. Segur que ha de ser més” li va respondre el seu interlocutor. “Jove, vostè no m’ha preguntat quin és el valor de les meves propietats, sinó en quant em valorava a mi mateix. Per tant he calculat quant he donat en caritat aquest any perquè valem allò que estem disposats a compartir amb els altres.”

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Elimelech and his brother Susya of Anipol were among the foremost disciples of the Maggid of Meseritch, although Elimelech refers to him as the Maggid of Rovno, evidently coming under his influence when he was maggid in that town. On the death of the Maggid the town of Lizensk in Galicia, where Elimelech resided, became a new center of Hasidism; Elimelech is the father of the movement in Galicia. Before coming to Hasidism Elimelech led an ascetic life, and even after his conversion to the ideas taught by the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid about reclaiming the holy sparks in material things there still existed a strong ascetic tendency in Elimelech’s thought. It is even reported that Elimelech used to engage in acts of self-mortification such as prolonged fasts and flogging himself with stinging nettles. There is a full-scale but somewhat uncritical biography of Elimelech by Bezalel Landau, Ha-Rebbe Rabbi Elimelekh Mi-Lizensk (Jerusalem, 1963). Elimelech is known among the Hasidim as the “Rebbe Elimelech.”

Elimelech’s work Noam Elimelekh (The Pleasantness of Elimelech) is one of the major and most popular Hasidic works. It was first published by Elimelech’s son in Lemberg in 1788 and subsequently in numerous editions. (The edition used here is that of Jerusalem, no date.) The book is in four parts: (1) expositions of the Torah sidra by sidra; (2) Likkutey Shoshanim (Bunches of Roses), brief comments on other biblical verses and talmudic passages; (3) letters of Elimelech, his son, and his disciple; (4) two lists of religious exercises. In some editions these latter are printed at the beginning of the book. The Noam Elimelekh is a paean of praise to the zaddik. Although the central role of the zaddik had been affirmed by the Baal Shem Tov, Jacob Joseph, and the Maggid, it is in this work of Elimelech that the role of the zaddik as an intermediary (Dubnow says, not without justification, a “broker”) between God and man is developed. The status of the zaddik is described in such exaggerated terms that the Mitnaggedim held the book to be blasphemous. The work deals at length with the training of the zaddik, his role as intercessor, his holy life, and the way he can transmit his sanctity to others, especially to his children.
I HOW CAN MEN HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT IN AN UNHOLY AGE?
Noam Elimelekh, Va-yeshev, p. 21a

Elimelech here seeks to meet the objection that the claims made for the zaddik would have been extraordinary even in the days of the great prophets.
I have heard a sweet parable from the mouth of our Master and Teacher the Rabbi the Maggid of Rovno, the memory of the righteous is for a blessing. We see that now that we are in the bitter exile some people are gifted with the holy spirit far more easily than in the days of the prophets when, it is well known, they were obliged to engage in conjurations and remain in solitude for lengthy periods before they could attain to prophecy and the Holy Spirit. He gave this fine and sweet parable. When a king is in his palace with full regal honors paid to him, he will be annoyed if a friend invites him to have a meal in his house, for it is beneath the king’s dignity to leave the splendor of his palace to visit someone. This is so even if the repast prepared for the king is exceedingly lavish. It is quite impossible for anyone to get the king to consent to be his guest unless he first makes due preparations and begs those close to the king to intercede on his behalf. But when the king is on a journey and wishes to stay overnight in a certain place, he will be prepared to stay even in the village inn provided that it is clean. The application of the parable is obvious. When the Temple stood and the glory of the Shekhinah resided in the Holy of Holies, great effort was required if a man was to succeed in drawing down the Holy Spirit, as we find in connection with the ceremony of rejoicing at the Water Drawing, when they drew down the Holy Spirit. But now in the bitter exile the ho!y Shekhinah is in exile with us and, for our sins, wanders from place to place and is prepared to dwell with any man who is free from sin. And the words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious.
The ceremony of the Water Drawing took place in Temple times during the festival of Sukkot, and the Rabbis say it was a time when the holy men, after due preparation, were able to draw down into themselves the Holy Spirit. The contemporary zaddik, says Elimelech, can easily achieve that which was hard even for the prophets because in exile the Divine Presence is ready, as it were, to accept any lodging provided it is clean. The “King” cannot be choosy, as it were, because if the zaddik will not “let Him in,” no one will.
II  HOW CAN  FALSE MODESTY BE AVOIDED?
Noam Elimelekh, Likkutey Shoshanim, p. 101a
And to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:8). It is necessary to grasp the meaning of this verse. For it should have been put in the second person: “walk humbly with thy God” (in the imperative), as the verse concludes: “with thy God” (in the second person). But the meaning is as follows: A man has to be extremely careful to avoid the blandishments of the evil inclination. Even if his good deeds are performed away from men, nevertheless, since he himself is aware that he serves God, that he studies the Torah and is charitable and benevolent and so forth, he can have the ulterior motive of pride even in the most secret places. Anyone who looks into himself will see that what I have just said is true. It is therefore essential that a man should never think of his good deeds, and they should be hidden from him so that he is unaware of them at all and on the contrary, nothing he does should be considered to be good. That is why the verse says “to walk,” in the infinitive, which is impersonal. This hints at the thought that even walking humbly should be in a spirit of humility. That is to say, even when his deeds are hidden from men, they should be hidden also from himself so that he is unaware that he has achieved anything. This is the meaning of: “thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18). For God is called “thy neighbor” as in the verse: “Thy neighbor, and thy father’s neighbor, forsake not” (Proverbs 27:10). Scripture says: Thou shalt love, namely: the way to attain complete love, to love God who is called “thy neighbor,” is impossible unless you behave “as thyself,” that is to say, it is as if, that you yourself are unaware that you have done any­thing and it is only as if you have done it. Understand this well, for this is a basic principle and a great root in the worship of the Creator, blessed be He.
Elimelech’s novel interpretation of “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself is: “thou shalt love Cod by behaving as thyself,” i.e., by looking upon all your good deeds as if they were performed by another. Humility, for Elimelech, does not only mean that a man must avoid “showing off.” For if he is content with this he will find himself “showing off” to himself and taking pride in not being the sort of person who “shows off.” The only antidote to the “evil inclination” is for a man to forget himself completely, so that he is never aware of his self but only of as himself.
III  RULES  FOR SAINTS
Noam Elimelekh, Hanhagat Adam (Conduct of Man)
“The Conduct of Man” comprises rules printed at either the end or the beginning in the editions of the book. This is one of the two lists of religious exercises in which a fantastic piety is held up for emulation. Elimelech no doubt recorded these in the first instance for himself and then, possibly, for the guidance of his disciples.
These are the things a man must do to live.
[1] First a man must study the Talmud together with the commen­taries of Rashi and the Tosafists, according to his ability, and after­ward he should study the Codes, giving preference to the Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim. He should pray to God to enable him to arrive at the truth, for the sins of his youth, of the man he was formerly, blind his eyes so that even when he is able to engage in dialectics and declare the law to others, he himself forgets and does not really keep the laws. Consequently, a man must express his deep remorse over his sins. He should be in solitude before daybreak, for then it is an acceptable time to weep many times over the exile of the Shekhinah and he should shed tears. He should be in solitude also during the day (from time to time) and then his sins will be before him. He should remember his sins, his iniquities, and his transgres­sions, as high as the hills, which, if he did not behave in this manner, he would never have remembered. So should he do, not once nor twice nor a hundred times, until Heaven will take pity on him. He should pray to God to lead him in the right way so that his life should not be wasted. Then God, in His mercy and great compassion, will illumine his eyes in the holy Torah, and he will grasp the essence of the matter to keep it and to establish it.
[2] He should guard himself against flattery, falsehood, frivolity, slander, envy, hatred, competition, anger, and pride, and gazing at women and from gossiping even with his own wife, especially when she has her periods.
[3] He should always reflect on the day of his death. He should never interrupt his studies so as not to offend against the rabbinic prohibi­tion of interrupting Torah studies. And he should pray to God to be worthy of studying the Torah for its own sake.
[4] Each day he should study in the moralistic literature, such as the Reshit Hokhmah, the Shelah, and the Hovot Ha-Levvavot.
The Reshit Hokhmah is the sixteenth-century moralistic work by Elijah de Vidas; the Shelah is by the seventeenth-century author Isaiah Horowitz; the Hovot Ha-Levvavot is Bahya ibn Pakudah’s Duties of the Heart.
[5] Occasionally he should study in a little fear of the writings of the Ari of blessed memory, but it must be in fear and dread and in awe of God. In former times men’s souls were holy and they would take care in their youth not to commit any sins or transgressions and their souls were equipped to study this science [the Kabbalah]. But now­adays, for our sins, when we have a course body and are of gross matter, a man must first refine his soul and wash it clean from every taint of sin. The test a man can apply to see whether he is clean is that the evil inclination no longer entices him to folly and stupidity as it did beforehand. Then he may study the Lurianic writings from time to time. God will reward him if he has purified his soul, by opening up for him the gates of wisdom contained in the writings of the Ari of blessed memory, which cannot be for as long as he is enveloped in the physical lusts of temporal vanity when this subject will be ex­ceedingly difficult for him, God forbid.
The Ari (“the Lion”) is Isaac Luria, the famous sixteenth-century kabbalist. Elimelech is no doubt thinking of the Shabbatean movement in which the study of the Lurianic Kabbalah led to a casting off of the discipline of the Torah. He is saying that the Kabbalah will be misunderstood unless it is engaged in by men who have made the effort to lead holy lives.
[6] The way of purification in this matter is to study the Talmud and the rabbinic Aggadah, which has the special property of refining the soul.
[7] He should keep himself far from sin and evil thoughts in all circumstances.
[8] He should guard himself against hating any Jew, except for the wicked for whom no excuse can be found. But where there appears to be such, even the wicked should be given the benefit of the doubt.
“Loving Israel” is an ideal stressed by all the Hasidic masters. An important ingredient in the success of the movement was precisely because of the encouragement it gave to ordinary jews and the assurance that they mattered to God.
[9] He should not engage in any conversation at all, not even a single word, before prayers, because it is a hindrance to concentration during prayer.
[10] He should see to it that he relieves himself before prayer and before meals so as not to offend against the prohibition of being disgusting in one’s person.
[11] He should see to it that his shirt and drawers are always per­fectly clean.
Hasidism stresses that bodily cleanliness is an aid to spiritual refinement.
[12] He should never act as a tyrant in his home, and no one and no thing should ever give him offense. He should blame the offense on his own sinfulness. In this way he will succeed in subduing the evil inclination and breaking its hold over him.
[13] He should pray to God to help him repent of his sins and that he should not die unrepentant, including his own prayers with those of other repentant sinners and asking pardon together with the pardon granted for all Israel.
[14] He should speak gently to all men. Whenever men praise him he should go away energetically and should be distressed, saying to himself “How they do praise me without knowing what I am really like? If only they were aware of how inferior I am, of my folly and my evil deeds! And how can I raise my face to the Creator, blessed be He, who knows and sees my deeds at every moment and all times and yet He has compassion upon me in al! that I do?”
[15] He should think to himself that a man is always standing beside him, never ceasing from looking at his deeds, so that if that man saw him commit an ugly deed he would be so ashamed that he would try to hide in a mousehole. How much more so, then, when it is God who stands over him and sees all his deeds all the time and from Him it is impossible to hide.
[16] When anyone insults him he should be very happy that God has sent him such a man so that his bad deeds should be exposed. Every person should seem to him to be his superior.
[17] He should keep far away from anything that is not essential to keep his body healthy for the service of God, whether it be food or drink or any other pleasure.
[18] The main thing is to keep from intoxicants, for this is a great malady and brings a man to a very inferior stage. The Rabbis say, “Do not become drunk and you will not sin.”
[19] He should take care never to utter God’s name in vain.
[20] He should take care never to utter or to think on holy things in an unclean place.
[21] He should never engage in conversation in the synagogue, not even on matters of morals or religion, lest it lead to profane talk.
This list of Elimelech and the other list printed in the book were widely studied by the Hasidim. These two lists have been printed in some prayerbooks so that the worshippers could read them daily.

 

 

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Jacob flees the murderous wrath of his brother. He is alone, gripped by anxiety and fear of the unknown. He is helpless. The only things he carries in his heart and troubled mind are the words of his old father Isaac: “MayAlmighty G-d give you the blessing Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee, and the land of thy peregrinations that the Lord gave to Abraham …” (Gn 28:4).
He arrives in an impressive place, literally “He met PLACE “(Gn 28:11). For Rashi, it is Mount Moriah, the Mount Temple. In any case, the place impresses him greatly (Gn 28:17). The night falls. He sleeps there and has a dream: a scale which is reaching the sky, angels ascend and then descend from the top, God addresses Jacob (Gn. 28:13). It is a strange text. Here was a man wandering lonely and abandoned by all, in terror (Gn 28:17), who dreams of God, and blessings of the future …However, it is not the image of an unconscious man that evokes the narrative, nor a kind of poet dreamer who floats above or outside reality, nor a coward who is afraid to fight when attacked … As his name and all his life indicates, Jacob is a man of action, a man of projects, hard, persevering in achievement against all odds, and they will not fail. He works hard for his father in law, Laban, and, despite the disloyalty of the latter, he is surprisingly prosperous (Gn 30: 29 – 30).
When jealous of his success, Laban and his son became a threat (Gn 31:1-3), and he gathered his family and property and moved away. Again, he did not fight. As Isaac his father, when Philistines blocked his wells, he did not fight but went further and began to dig again, several times. Jacob, on his return after 20 years at Laban’s, does not face Esau that comes to his meeting with armed men. How do you interpret this? Jacob does not confront his brother Esau because he follows the teaching and traditions of Abraham and Isaac, his predecessors. It is not fear that prevents him from fighting. When needed, he will face the mysterious character’s attack, fighting until dawn and winning over him. It is then that he is given his second name, Israel. (Gen. 32, 25-26): “You fought with God and men, and you have prevailed.” Similarly, Abraham pursued looters who took Lot and the King of Sodom captive
and liberated them (Gn 14:13). He also faced the Creator itself, but to defend humans, to save lives (Gn 18:23).
Jacob is a strong man, as demonstrated by the episode of the meeting with Rachel when he removes the heavy stone that closed the well, to the surprise of the other shepherds … If Esau’s violence frightens him (Gen. 32.8), it is not so much because he fears death, but because he does not want to find himself in the situation of having to kill. It is not in his plan. He left Laban, our Sages said, because he realized that changes come with time, and he began to look like his father-in-law (Gn 31:2). Jacob, as Abraham and Isaac, was holding on to other values. They did not exalt the force nor the ideal fearless knight nor praised glory and domination.
Ishmael is a man of the desert “a professional archer” (Gn 21:20); Esau, a man of the fields, an expert hunter (Gen. 28.27); Jacob, a quiet man, is introspective (Gen. 28.27). His concern is how to live, how to grow, how to make it holy. His main concern is his family and, through it, the human family. “Stayed in camp” (Gen. 25.27) says the Torah. Male interiority and study (see Rashi on 25:27). A man carrying his dream to its full potential. The dream of G-d. Not a god fixed in a creed, but a god who makes to vibrate the consciousness and the constant effort towards a humanity in tension with itself as Jacob and Esau, a man with his brother.
The descendants of Ya’akov / Israel, the Jewish people, are the heirs of these provisions and also, alas, hardships and sufferings to which it predisposes. Our tradition is the expression of this and our singular history gives testimony of it.

 

 

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Meditació sobre la paraixa toledot (Gen 25:19-28:9)

El text bíblic és una narració complexa i rica en referències i ressonàncies gràcies no només a un ús concís del llenguatge però també per la tècnia literària que empra el narrador. Un perfece exemple d’això és la introducció a la secció que llegirem aquest dissabte.
El text s’inicia amb el verset Gn 25:19 que ens posa sobre avís que el focus d’atenció estarà damund dels dos fills d’Isaac, Esau i Jacob. El verset 20 ens posa en antecedents sobre els orígens de la esposa d’Isaac, Rebeca, informació que necessitarem més endavant per a entendre les raons per les que Rebeca envia el seu fill Jacob a Laban (Gn 27). El verset 21 ens informa que Rebeca no podia tenir fills, establint un paral·lel entre quest personatge i la seva sogre, Sara, i també amb la seva futura nora, Raquel. El darrer verset d’aquesta introducció anticipa el conflicte que enfrontarà els dos germans durant la resta de les seves vides, describint la lluita que té lloc dins del ventre de Rebeca durant la gestació.
Aquesta introducció ens prepara pel que serà el tema principal de la vida de Jacob i que arribarà al seu clímax amb la lluita amb el desconegut i que li donarà una nova identitat encarna en el canvi de nom. Però no avancem coses. En el text d’aquesta setmana ens queda clar que no només és Jacob qui té un conflicte sinó que els seus pares, Isaac i Rebeca, també estan dividits perquè cadascú té un fill favorit. El pare prefereix Esau perquè és un caçador i proveeix aliments, mentre que la mare preferix Jacob perquè és un noi tranquil, “que preferia viure a les tendes.” Em pregunto si aquests dos personatges són dos arquetips que representen la lluita de dos grups en l’Israel primitiu, del tipus nòmades contra sedentaris.
En parlar de disputes entre germans, segur que la primera que ens ve al cap és la que varen tenir Cain i Abel. Potser aquestes lluites són arquetips de lluites socials, polítiques, religioses o econòmiques. També les podem interpretar com la expressió de la dicotomia intern – extern que tots els éssers humans experimentem algun cop durant les nostres vides. Esau representa la imatge exterior que presentem al món, allò que els altres veuen de nosaltres, mentre que Jacob és la personificació de l’interior, la introspecció i l’estudi. Al llarg dels segles, aquesta dicotomia ha estat expressada de moltes maneres diferents per cada tradició i cultura. Potser la forma més clàssica de contraposició sigui la de cos i ànima.
Encara hi ha, però, una altra manera d’interpretar aquests dos arquetips. Esau i Jacob representarien la tensió entre oïda i vista. Si llegim la història a través d’aquesta lent, Esau, el mestre caçador (Gn 25:27), representaria la vista, allò que veiem, mentre que Jacob representaria la oïda. El fet que sigui Jacob qui continuï el llegat d’Abraham pot ser interpretat, doncs, com una victòria de la orella per damunt de l’ull. Pensem, per exemple, en els anuncis o les campanyes dels polítics. Els colors i les formes ens criden l’atenció, però això per si sol no basta. Cal escoltar el missatge publicitari o polític per entendre què ofereixen.
Equival això a dir que només caldria escoltar? No, l’oïda no és el tot de la nostra percepció, no podem arribar a percebre la veritat només a  través de la oïda. Els sons, i les paraules també ens poden enganyar. La nostra tradició és clara en aquest sentit. Cal discernir entre el so i el soroll, entre el so de veritat i l’eco. Quan els rabins parlen del precepte d’escoltar el xofar durant la feta de cap d’any, Roix ha Xanà, especifiquen que hem d’escoltar el so directament i no l’eco que faci. És a dir, no s’hi val estar en una altra cambra i sentir el so que rebota en les parets de la casa, o del carrer, fins arribar a nosaltres. Cal que fem l’esforç d’escoltar-lo directament. (TB Roix haxanà 27b)
Quantes vegades no ens ha passat que hem estat parlant amb familiars i amics i només hem sentit allò que volíem sentir? Quantes vegades no hem estat parlant amb algú però en realitat estàvem pensant en que havíem d’anar a casa per sopar? Quantes vegades no hem estat al telèfon i al mateix temps escrivíem emails? Escoltar a algú vol dir estar present i això pot ser difícil, fins i tot una lluita interna que depèn més del cor que de la oïda.
Cal escoltar amb l’oïda del cor. L’estudi de la Torà és un exercici per a cultivar aquesta escolta atenta amb l’oïda del cor, tot buscant les lliçons i el missatge contingut per a nosaltres en les paraules, les situacions i els personatges de la història. Acostumats al món cristià, on l’estudi de la Bíblia es fa en silenci i meditació, si mai aneu a un seminari rabínic us sorprendrà el volum de soroll que hi ha a la sala. La torà no pot ser estudiada en silenci. Es a través del debat de les paraules, algunes vegades cançons, i la força de l’argument que la Torà alimenta l’ànima.

 

 

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The fight between Rebbecca and Issac’s children began in her womb even before their father’s blessing.
Eleh Toledot Isaac (These are Isaac’s generations). Rather we should say ele toledot Rivka (these are Rivka’s generations) because she was the one who underwent all the testing, the one whose children fought while in her belly,
the one who traveled to query G-d, the one who willed Jacob his blessing despite Issac’s opposition.
Isaac imitates his father Abraham, showing the wells he had dug, as well as telling his lies, saying about his wife, “she is my sister” in order to protect them. Rebecca, on her side, takes the same trip that Sarah took from
Haran to Canaan. She inherited Sarah’s gift for light, preparing the Hala and proximity with the divine presence. Ele Toledot Rivka underlines Rivka’s preponderance in the transmission of the tradition, since it is she
who ultimately decides how the chain of transmission will work.
Ultimately, Isaac, hurt by the episode of “non-sacrifice” (the akedah), may prefer the son who is dedicated to him and provides him with food and a nice life, Esau.
Rebecca, instead, who has left everything aside to join the spiritual destiny of the Jewish people, can only love Jacob, the young man who deeply and thoughtfully meditates in tents. It is she who came from far away, spared by the tests, who will reveal the fate of the Jewish people to the wounded father. This story reminds me of the many cases we encounter of Jews injured by the story, who reconnect with their tradition thanks to the passion of non-Jews from far who married them and their identity.
In my opinion, however, the only really possible name for this part of our history should be “Ele Toledot Yitzak ve Rivka,” emphasizing a history of collaboration of the generations of Isaac and Rebecca, instead of focusing
on the parents and brothers fighting. Ultimately, who can be sure this is not the case? Was Isaac really fooled by Jacob’s trick? A return to text suffices to sow doubt in your mind. History is the collaborative effort of its players, revealed or hidden, men or women, everyone must find their place.
This is the first Shabat of the month of Kislev, when we celebrate the inauguration of the temple, a reunion with freedom to live a Jewish life without oppression. Chanukah and Kislev are traditional opportunities to
celebrate women, inviting them to let go of the housework and take their place around candles. Thus our holidays gather everybody, women included.

The fight between Rebbecca and Issac’s children began in her womb even before their father’s blessing.Eleh Toledot Isaac (These are Isaac’s generations). Rather we should say ele toledot Rivka (these are Rivka’s generations)because she was the one who underwent all the testing, the one whose children fought while in her belly,the one who traveled to query G-d, the one who willed Jacob his blessing despite Issac’s opposition.Isaac imitates his father Abraham, showing the wells he had dug, as well as telling his lies, saying about hiswife, “she is my sister” in order to protect them. Rebecca, on her side, takes the same trip that Sarah took fromHaran to Canaan. She inherited Sarah’s gift for light, preparing the Hala and proximity with the divinepresence. Ele Toledot Rivka underlines Rivka’s preponderance in the transmission of the tradition, since it is shewho ultimately decides how the chain of transmission will work.

Ultimately, Isaac, hurt by the episode of “non-sacrifice” (the akedah), may prefer theson who is dedicated to him and provides him with food and a nice life, Esau.

Rebecca, instead, who has left everything aside to join the spiritual destiny of theJewish people, can only love Jacob, the young man who deeply and thoughtfullymeditates in tents.

It is she who came from far away, spared by the tests, who will reveal the fate of the Jewish people to thewounded father. This story reminds me of the many cases we encounter of Jews injured by the story, whoreconnect with their tradition thanks to the passion of non-Jews from far who married them and their identity.

In my opinion, however, the only really possible name for this part of our history should be “Ele Toledot Yitzakve Rivka,” emphasizing a history of collaboration of the generations of Isaac and Rebecca, instead of focusing on the parents and brothers fighting. Ultimately, who can be sure this is not the case? Was Isaac really fooledby Jacob’s trick? A return to text suffices to sow doubt in your mind. History is the collaborative effort of itsplayers, revealed or hidden, men or women, everyone must find their place.

This is the first Shabat of the month of Kislev, when we celebrate the inauguration of the temple, a reunionwith freedom to live a Jewish life without oppression. Chanukah and Kislev are traditional opportunities tocelebrate women, inviting them to let go of the housework and take their place around candles. Thus our holidays gather everybody, women included.

 

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The parashah for this week is “chaye Sarah”, Sara’s life, and opens with Sarah’s funeral and Isaac’s marriage.
How to summarize the life of someone in a few words? How to summarize this woman’s life, first called Sarai by her husband, Abraham, then rehabilitated in the fullness of his identity when the Eternal calls Abraham saying: “As for your wife Sarai, you shall not call her Sarai, but her name shall be Sarah.”(Gen 17:15)
It is interesting to note that some translations do not take into account the divine “reprimand”, just translating: “You will no longer call her Sarai but Sarah,” suggesting to the reader that it was only a suggestion. But if we check the original -the source of all things
– we will be able to grasp the psychological reality that lurks in our stories.
To marry Yitzhak, Abraham’s servant must also go to the origins. He must travel to Haran. We can change locations, names and even attitudes. These are three changes that, according to tradition, can make a fresh start, three physical changes that enable and reflect a change of identity.
Rebecca will travel the same journey from Haran to Canaan made by Abraham and Sarah. She will also answer the call with a voice full of conviction “Yes I will go”, leaving a family that tries everything to keep her. Like Abraham and Sarah, she will answer the call of her soul, and as they did, she will leave the easiness of living in conditions that may be not ideal, but at least comfortable.
How to know the value of someone’s life?
Certainly, the way our children act is a good indicator. The value of Sarah’s life can be found in the narrative that follows: the search for a cave where to remember and honor her memory, finding a spouse for Isaac to help him to continue with her work after she is gone. Indeed, when Rebecca comes into Sarah’s tent, the light comes back from one Shabbat to another, the bread is blessed and the Shechinah, symbolized by a cloud, returns above the tent.
Like Abraham, we strive to fulfill our duties vis-à-vis those who are alive and those who have already passed away. I thank the whole
cemetery team, which pay the last respects to the dead with their dedication and commitment.
May our light, like those of Sarah and Rivka, shine with all its glow and may our bread taste as a cake, especially at the Shabbat Dinner
this Friday.

To marry Yitzhak, Abraham’s servant must also go to the origins. He must travel to Haran.We can change locations, names and even attitudes. These are three changes that,according to tradition, can make a fresh start, three physical changes that enable andreflect a change of identity.Rebecca will travel the same journey from Haran to Canaan made by Abraham and Sarah.She will also answer the call with a voice full of conviction “Yes I will go”, leaving a familythat tries everything to keep her. Like Abraham and Sarah, she will answer the call of hersoul, and as they did, she will leave the easiness of living in conditions that may be not ideal,but at least comfortable.How to know the value of someone’s life?Certainly, the way our children act is a good indicator. The value of Sarah’s life can be foundin the narrative that follows: the search for a cave where to remember and honor hermemory, finding a spouse for Isaac to help him to continue with her work after she is gone.Indeed, when Rebecca comes into Sarah’s tent, the light comes back from one Shabbat toanother, the bread is blessed and the Shechinah, symbolized by acloud, returns above the tent.Like Abraham, we strive to fulfill our duties vis-à-vis those who arealive and those who have already passed away. I thank the wholecemetery team, which pay the last respects to the dead withtheir dedication and commitment.May our light, like those of Sarah and Rivka, shine with all its glowand may our bread taste as a cake, especially at the Shabbat Dinner this Friday.

 

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