B”H February 26,2020 “Seek ye the L-RD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.” – Isaiah 55:6, JPS 1917 Tanach In my life, sometimes there is a lull of excitement – six days each week, excluding the Sabbath. Perhaps, excitement is not the correct word. There is actually nothing […]daily contemplation: Searching — Etz Chayim
February 25, 2020
“I knew that Thou art a gracious G-d, and compassionate, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy.” – Jonah 4:2, JPS 1917 Tanach
Turning away from his G-d given mission, Jonah had proffered that because G-d is merciful, He would forgive the sins of the Ninevites who were Israel’s enemies. His hard-heartedness could not permit him to answer’s G-d’s call, to be the one who would go to warn the Ninevites of their impending judgment and destruction unless they do teshuvah (repent). Yet, G-d rerouted Jonah, after he tried to flee from His presence.
After completing his mission, Jonah was angry that G-d relented of the destruction that He intended for the Ninevites. Rather than acknowledging the extent of G-d’s mercy, he was closed off to “the other.” His own sense of compassion to others was limited; rather, he was focused on G-d’s strict Attribute of Justice.
G-d tried to teach him an object lesson. He caused a gourd plant to grow up quickly, in order to give shade to Jonah, who was exposed to the unrelenting sun. The next day, G-d sent a worm to destroy the gourd plant; Jonah was left exposed to the heat, and he fainted. Jonah was bereft without the gourd.
G-d noticed that Jonah took pity on the gourd. He explained, that just as Jonah felt a longing for the gourd, shouldn’t G-d Himself feel pity towards the Ninevites, who “cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand?” (Jonah 4:11).
This is not an easy lesson to learn – to take pity on others, who are ignorant of G-d’s ways. Those who live lives, seemingly even opposed to G-d, yet, do not know any better, because they were never shown a better way. They seem entrenched in unrighteousness; yet, we ourselves, should not remain recalcitrant towards them. How is it possible to approach them with an open heart, to show them the way?
B”H February 24, 2020 Closer to the truth than yesterday. A little more knowledgeable than the day before. Yet, what is acquired may lose significance over time unless maintained. Life lessons should lead to character improvement. For the soul is not nurtured by information in and of itself; rather, we are shaped by our life […]daily contemplation: Feeding the Soul — Etz Chayim
B”H February 23, 2020 “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” – Psalm 103:12, JPS 1917 Tanach The derech (path) I tread is imperfect, when I walk in fear, doubt, or lack of emunah (faith). Yet, this acknowledgment in and of itself, may very […]contemplation: Acknowledgment — Etz Chayim
B”H February 21, 2020 “Be still, and know that I am G-d.” – Psalm 46:10 When we allow ourselves to rest in the silence, our minds may resist; we may become restless. Yet, persistence in the art of silent prayer, by setting aside a few minutes or more every day, will give way to a […]daily contemplation: Silence — Etz Chayim
B”H February 20, 2020 The depths of pain, the heights of joy; yet, there is an equanimity to be found somewhere within the presence of G-d. “Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed […]daily contemplation: Suffering and Joy — Etz Chayim
Where can we find the “still waters” of our life? In our busyness, there is little room for reflection. “He leadeth me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:2). Our recompense for turning to G-d at times of disquietude is that we will eventually be shown a place within time to settle down, and reflect on […]Meditation: Still Waters — Etz Chayim