Portents of the Eclipse

solar eclipseLike most things meaning is often something we ascribe rather than something intrinsic. An eclipse is a fact of the physical world based on orbiting bodies and the shadows they cast when sun moon and earth interact. They are knowable and predictable.

Our tradition has suggested that an eclipse portends an unfavorable time for the world. A lunar eclipse was a bad omen for the Jewish people in particular, perhaps because of our connection to the lunar cycles in our calendar. I particularly like the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s z”l understanding that this is an opportunity to increase prayer and introspection. I do not know whether an eclipse would prompt certain bad behaviors to come out. This idea seems to lapse into the realm of the bubbe meise or superstition. But anything that makes us pause and consider things a bit more deeply about our circumstances is worthwhile. We have portents and signs all around us if only we would recognize them. Often we do not and even more rarely do we use it as a call to action.

I recall my first solar eclipse. It happened when I was a child living in the “holy city” of Monsey, NY. My father fashioned a special viewer so I could watch the progression. It was essentially little more than a cardboard box with a peephole. I was transfixed as the eclipse took place. The silhouette of the sun showed it being obscured and the sky turned a strange hue. I vividly recall being cautioned by my dad not to look at the sun because I would go blind. But I could not resist at least a quick glance skyward to see this extraordinary event directly and so I looked.   Thankfully my sight was preserved, although at the time I was concerned. My recollections, however, are of the silhouette crossing that white piece of paper in the cardboard box my dad made for me.

What we do with this amazing event is, like so many things, up to us. I suggest that for those who can see it, watch the eclipse with a sense of wonderment and awe for the extraordinary world in which we live, contemplate your place in it, and act.

 

*I thank Chabad.org for sharing thoughts of the Rebbe.

A call to Action

Like so many, I am deeply unsettled about events. My response is a sober, somber, and urgent call to action. Many of my friends and colleagues have spoken eloquently denouncing the vile behavior in Charlottesville. But speeches, outrage, and resistance do little to change the behavior of haters, or those feckless holders of power unable to speak to moral issues for fear of alienating a political base.

All people of good conscience must take a stand and actively support those who condemn the despicable hatred demonstrated in Charlottesville. A moral stand does not know political right or left; the courage to speak against evil is an expression of the American Values we hold dear and our basic humanity. This is a fundamental binary choice. If there ever was a litmus test for a politician, surely this is it.

For those of us who already have representatives who uphold Virtue, we cannot be satisfied that we have done our part. We must lend assistance to those in other places where this battle remains engaged. The time for action has never been critical; the stakes have never been greater.

Shabbat Shalom on Shabbat Nachamu

Nachamu, Nachamu Ami- Take Comfort, my People.  These are the words of Isaiah (40:1) after the destruction of the Temple and the words of the Haftarah this week.

Shabbat Nachamu is the Shabbat that follows Tisha b’Av.

Enjoy the music of the Maccabeats as they set these beautiful words to music.

Shabbat Shalom.

 

 

 

Conversations for Life and Legacy

I am excited to announce the launch of Conversations for Life and Legacy™.

Conversations for Life and Legacy™ is a whole new approach to sharing our wisdom, making meaning in our lives, and connecting beyond ourselves drawing upon the insights of Jewish tradition and text.

Conversations for Life and Legacy™ goes far beyond an Ethical Will to share our sacred stories in unique new ways. Among the particular innovations are using a rabbi trained in chaplaincy to guide the interview and capturing it all on video.

Please look at our new website: www.ConversationsForLifeAndLegacy.com to explore this new approach; see what it can mean to you and how it can be brought to your community.

Today we also launch a Facebook page: ConversationsForLifeAndLegacy and we will be on Twitter as well @rabbidavidlevincll.

It’s time to have the Conversations of your Life!

Conversations for Life and Legacy™

www.ConversationsForLifeAndLegacy.com