Sunday, October 31, 2010

3 Purchases, 3 Problems

There are three places in Israel whose purchases were recorded in the Bible - Hebron's Cave of Machpelah, purchased by Abraham, the fields of Shechem by Jacob and the threshing floor of Mt. Moriah by King David. (These three are pictured at left in a painting by the renowned artist Baruch Nachshon.)
It would seem that despite the troubles and conflicts the Jewish people and our enemies have had throughout the generations, these three documented places would be left out of it. And yet, the exact opposite appears to be the case.
The Cave of the Patriarchs, the Tomb of Joseph and the Temple Mount are three most bitterly disputed locations in Israel.
I used to think that the Arabs zeroed in on these three places, because if they could successfully attack us and dominate us in these three areas where our roots are the strongest, then we'd have no chance, chas v'shalom, to hold on to any place in the country.
Today I changed my mind.

The click happened in the middle of lunch, while we were all speaking of Hebron and Shabbat Chayei Sarah. This Shabbat marks the anniversary of Abraham's purchase of the Cave of Machpelah.
Abraham bought Hebron for his family, so why do we, his descendants, have such trouble holding on to it? The same goes for Shechem and Har HaBayit (The Temple Mount).

Yesterday before Shabbat, I glanced at, and read that an Arab newspaper claims that "Israel would lease land in east Jerusalem from the Palestinian state for 40-99 years." Oh my gosh, how foolish can we be! I screamed, "What?! We're going to lease the land that belongs to us!!?? That's saying, 'We think the land belongs to us, but you think it belongs to you, but then again, we're not sure it really does belong to us, so we'll rent it from you." No, no, no.
The Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish People. Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people. We don't have to purchase or rent what is rightfully ours.
That's our problem.

* G-d promised the land of Israel to Abraham, every inch of it where his feet tread. Hebron was given to him by G-d, so why on earth did he buy it?
* Jacob inherited all of Israel from his father and grandfather before him, so why did he buy Shechem.
* All of Israel belonged to the Jewish people, and on top of that David conquered Jerusalem. So why did he purchase the threshing floor?
Today, I realized that these purchases brought the Jewish people, not an eternal deed to their ownership, but an eternal punishment. G-d promised the Land of Israel - all of it - to the Jewish people. It is ours to possess and fill with Jewish families.
Our lack of faith caused us to purchase these pivotal places, and so perhaps G-d said, "You didn't believe in me and in the present I have given you. Okay. You believed buying your own land for money would buy you peace. From now on and forever (until you make this wrong right), you will spend your energies to fight for the same property that could have been yours forever peacefully."
And that's what we've been doing and continuing to do - fighting for Hebron, fighting for Shechem and fighting for the Temple Mount.
It's about time that we learned the lesson that all of Israel belongs to the Jewish people - Eretz Yisrael to Am Yisrael according to Torat Yisrael. If we had that faith, attitude and understanding, we'd real real peace and peaceful possession of all of Israel.

The Excitement of Shabbat Hebron from Afar

This Shabbat, Parshat Chayei Sarah, was Shabbat Hebron. Twenty-five thousand Jews from all over Israel and even the world descended upon Hebron for the yearly event when we celebrate the purchase of the Cave of Machpelah and its surrounding fields by our Patriarch Abraham.
The Bible's detail of the public purchase in Genesis 23 has been regarded as the deed of the Jewish people throughout the generations to Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs.
14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him:
15 'My lord, hearken unto me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.'
16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the hearing of the children of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.
17 So the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the border thereof round about, were made sure
18 unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.
All the residents of the city witnessed Abraham's purchase of Machpelah and its field. Abraham buried Sarah there, and when he passed away, his children buried Abraham beside his beloved wife. Isaac and Jacob and their wives were buried in Machpelah as well. We also believe that Adam and Eve were buried in Machpelah.
While many of our friends traveled to Hebron for Shabbat, our family was home with our children and guests. The talk at the table was only about Hebron, what we imagined was happening with thousands of people looking for an enthusiastic minyan and a dry place to sleep. My children and my company, who had come from Jerusalem before Shabbat, thrilled everyone at the table with their descriptions of endless rows of double-accordion-buses bringing visitors from Jerusalem to Gilo, where they changed for bullet proof buses to take them to Hebron. My son said that all of Jerusalem was filled with a special exhiliration, as thousands of white-shirted young people ran to the Central Bus Station, determined not to miss out on the packed-buses to Hebron.
Shabbat in Hebron is always a meaningful and uplifting experience. But imagine being in Hebron on the anniversary of its purchase, along with 25,000 other Jews. What ruach (spirit) and unity reign there! My friend Phil said that everywhere you looked, there was another minyan praying joyfully - inside, outside, everywhere. The tumult in the Gutnick Center dining room was unforgettably fabulous, and the air of freedom was infectious as young and old walked through the city streets on this day without fear.
My family didn't make it to Hebron for Shabbat Chayei Sarah this year, but we felt the thrill of everyone who did.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why Did the Cow Cross the Road?

Why did the cow cross the road?
I don't know, but it was a very bad idea...for him!
I was going to write another DANCE blog. This one, Dancing at One Wedding, but the cow changed all that.
Sometimes I forget how small Israel is. In one moment, you're in a big city and then drive for five minutes and you're in the country - acres of fields, hot houses, turkey sheds, barns.
Last night we traveled to my friend's son's wedding in Nes Tziona. We drove toward Bet Shemesh and then took a back road to Nes Tziona.
There's never traffic on back roads, they're really country roads, quiet and lovely. Look to the right, look to the left. Beautiful pastoral scenery. Fields of melons. A tractor here and there.
Well, half way down this quiet lovely road, there was a tremendous jam-up. Four ambulances, cars smashed, cars in ditches, people walking up and down the shoulders of the road on their cell phones.
We inched forward.
There was a cow lying on its side blocking the road. It was as big as a whale, or maybe just as big as a Mazda 5. Lying down, it seemed like a mini-hilltop.
Now, I'm from New York, and I remember distinctly the DEER warning signs in upstate New York. If a car hits a deer, boom, totally destruction. They're sweet in the movies, but deadly on the highway.
Now, here was this cow. And there were no BEWARE COW signs anywhere.
Obviously this cow was late coming back from its pasture, and its cowhand hadn't noticed.
Since there's never much traffic on the back road and since they're usually pitch black at night, except for the glow of your headlights, probably a car was cruising along and hit the cow at a pretty high speed.
The cow was downed, and the car was totalled. Then came another car that smashed into the back of this one, and one that swerved out of the way and sailed into the ditch, and another and another.
One white cow crossing the road, and the damage was immense.
I am sorry about the cow, but I hope it caused no fatalities. And to those in the accident, a speedy recovery!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dancing 'til Ya Drop

I am sure that I've told you that I love to dance. I am lucky enough to be a tap dancer, which is the happiest dancing in the world. Fa-lap, heel heel, step toe, heel touch.
Once a year, I spend three or four months rehearsing other types of dance - 60s dancing, stomp and anything else that's available - in order to perform in the post-Purim production of DAMES of the DANCE.
DAMES of the DANCE is a mega-dance spectacular with about 100 women and teens on stage. It features every sort of dance - jazz, hip hop, tap, modern, ballet, 60s, Middle Eastern, etc. The profits from our DAMES performances go to feed the needy of our region. So far, we have netted 140,000 NIS to help feed the poor of Gush Etzion/Efrat. It's a great feeling knowing that we can help others while doing something we love.

In order to make the most money for charity, we try to keep expenses low. All our choreographers are volunteers, as are our dancers. All our seamstresses and make-up artists are volunteers too.
One of our biggest expenses is material that we use to sew our costumes. But last year, we figured out a way to help pay for that fabric. We hosted an evening for women and teens called, DANCE NIGHT.

This year's DANCE NIGHT is being held on Motzei Shabbat (Saturday evening), November 13, 8 PM, in the Efrat Community Center. We're hoping hundreds of women will attend. Admission is 10 NIS ($2.50), and we're selling DVDs and T-Shirts that we hope will bring in more funds.
It's going to be the most FUN evening of dance. Our choreographers will teach an eight-count that our dancers can copy, and then they'll continue dancing using their new skill. We're going to dance and whirl and sashay and grape vine. We're going to have an incredible time together.
Since I produce DAMES of the DANCE, my choreographers are very adamant that I keep up with the latest in dance. So in order to stay current in the latest dance trends, this week I attended two new classes.
The first was Broadway Dance in Studio 6. The teacher made Aliyah only 14 months ago. She came to Israel and saw there was no Broadway Dance (which is very popular in America) and she decided to teach it herself. Broadway Dance is made of the wide showy motions of a Broadway chorus. We danced to The Pink Panther and Steam Heat and great Broadway tunes.
What a fun class. If only I had time, this would be the perfect dance class for me!
Then tonight I attended a new dance/exercise class called, Zumba. Everyone's talking about it. It's part South American/part South African - a little of everything. And boy, was it a work out. I'm still sweating now. It's got great moves, fun music, and allows women to exercise aerobically in an exciting way. Everyone was rocking away. And I was so proud of myself - I made it through!!
I now have two new dance classes under my belt, and if I have leisure time in the future, I'm heading back to Broadway Dance and Zumba.
To raise money for DAMES 4 - Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael, we are hosting a DANCE NIGHT. This year's DANCE NIGHT will be held on Saturday evening, March 13. Please come.
Dames photos by Rebecca Kowalsky and Bati Katz

Dancing with the Torah

There's a moving and memorable Jewish ceremony performed when a Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) is presented to the synagogue in which it will reside. It is called a Hachnasat Sefer Torah. The occasion is so overwhelmingly joyous that people travel for long distances to dance in the street with the Torah as it is carried in a procession from the place where its writing was completed to the Holy Ark in which it will stand.
It's not unusual to attend several of these ceremonies each year. However, I have never attended a Hachnasat Sefer Torah in the Army until last week.
Voices was privileged to be on hand when the International Young Israel Movement – Israel Region (IYIM) donated a Sefer Torah to the Israel Defense Forces for the 187th time in the past twelve years, thanks also to the hard word of Lt. Colonel Yedidya Atlas. The Sefer Torah was given to the Carmei Tzur Army Base in southern Gush Etzion.
The Sefer Torah was originally used in a synagogue in North America. However, it was damaged or worn and no longer in use. Thanks to kind donors, Gershon and Braina Tryfus and Joe and Rozanne Polansky (husbands, at left) the Young Israel repaired the Sefer Torah and rededicated it for the Israel Defense Forces.
The Sefer Torah coincided with the first Aliyah of Mr. and Mrs. Polansky (above left). (The Tryfuses, above right) And the mantle of the Torah bears the names of those families members of the Polanskies and Tryfuses who worked throughout their lives for the State of Israel, but never had the zechut (merit) of living here. Their deeds are memorialized in this Sefer Torah.
As a result of this memorable occasion, three other people have already signed in to be donors! The next Army Torah Dedication Ceremony is set for December 8th, IY"H, by two families from New York.
Carmei Tzur Base
The Carmei Tzur Army Base is small, but it commands a very strategic point in protecting the road between Hebron/Kiryat Arba and Gush Etzion, the southern gateway to Jerusalem. If Jews can sleep at night in Gush Etzion, Jerusalem, Bet Shemesh and even further, one of the reasons is because the soldiers of the Carmei Tzur Base are on the job.
The sponsoring families and friends from all over Jerusalem and even abroad joined together on a bus as we traveled to Carmei Tzur. When we arrived at the base, new trainees had just arrived as well. They were shown an exhibit of all equipment and their use. We were allowed to view the exhibit as well.
Then the Army band tuned up, and soldiers and the friends and families donated the Sefer Torah marched from the base's gate up hill to the tiny caravan that is used as a synagogue.
The soldiers danced and sang with such deep devotion and enthusiasm. I photographed them, videoed them and danced along the way.
When they arrived at the tiny synagogue caravan, barely 20 people could fit inside, but they stood three across from the very back of the caravan to the front and they danced with pure joy before the Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark). The soldiers threw their arms in the air with excitement and happiness. It was a marvelous experience.
Just in case you wonder if the Army really needs Sifrei Torah, be assured that they do. One of the soldiers at the base exclaimed that he was so excited by the donations, because until that day "whenever we needed a Sefer Torah, we had to go to another Army base to borrow one. Now we have our own!!"
For further information: Daniel M. Meyer - Executive Director, IYIM-Israel – / 0544826649

Dancing on Stage

Well, I told you that no one can dance at every wedding, but I have been doing a lot of dancing lately - and singing too.
I took the stage along with about 60 other women on Sunday night in the newest show by the Raise Your Spirits Theatre Company that I founded nine years ago. Over the past nine years, we have performed six productions, three of which I was honored to have co-written.
The latest is called, JUDGE! The Song of Devora, and it tells the story of the judge and prophet Devora's triumph over the Canaanite forces of General Sisera and King Yavin. (More on the story another time.)
In JUDGE!, which has gotten fantabulastic reviews by all who have seen it, we dance 'til we drop. The choreography by Sara Orenstein is just superb.
It's full of silly fun, like in the number "Judge."
It's full of fervor and dedication, like in the "Song of the Galil", when the tribes of Israel come together to fight the Canaanites.
It's full of drama and intensity in the dance, "War", which pits the Jewish fighters (really farmers and scholars) against the highly trained and armed Canaanites.
Dancing on stage now every week for the next few months is going to be loads of fun. I hope that the women that read this blog will be able to join me at the show in Gush Etzion. Details on the website - . You can even order tickets on line. What a world!
The gorgeous photos above were shot by Rebecca Flash Kowalsky, .
JUDGE! was written by Toby Klein Greenwald and Yael Valier. It was composed by Mitch Clyman.

Dancing at Every Wedding

There's a Yiddish expression, "Mir ken nisht tantzen oif alleh chassenehs." We can't dance on every wedding.
It loses something in translation, of course, but it means that a person just cannot do EVERYTHING!!!
Well, for the past month, I've been trying to dance on every wedding (participate in every single event that came my way) and I have proven that the expression is TRUE!!
I have failed miserably at doing too many projects. (Result - I have been less than satisfactory in just about everything.)
* I have spent the last month rehearsing almost every night for the newest Raise Your Spirits production, JUDGE, The Song of Devora. (Result - I have been too exhausted for real work or for visiting my children and grandchildren.)
* And when I wasn't rehearsing, I was working on the Playbill for the show. (Result - I was so busy, I couldn't finish the playbill and had to hand it over to another volunteer.)
* Then I was attempting to work on VOICES Magazine at every free moment. (Result - VOICES came out weeks late.)
* I tried to film and edit videos for VOICES TV. (Result - I have 10 unedited videos that I have no time to complete.)
* I really wanted to go to my friends' simchas (celebrations) if possible, even with this busy schedule. (Result - I missed most simchas, and the ones I got to, I arrived very late.)
* I had to turn down many events, because even for me they weren't possible. (Result - lots of disappointed folks.)
* So many things happened over the past month that have been perfect for blog topics, but who had time to write them. (Result - projects/programs/events that you should know about are just fleeting memories. I hope one day I can remember them and write about them.)
Well, rehearsals are over now.!!! We just began our performance season - more about that in another blog - so I hope my life will calm down a bit, and we'll be back to chatting every day.
I miss you. I hope you missed me too.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Youth March Onward

As a highlight of Youth Movement Week, my hometown of Efrat sponsored a march tonight. All three of the Efrat youth groups - Ezra, Bnei Akiva and Religious Scouts - marched in unity from one end of town to the other. No competition, just friendship. From the Eitan Circle at the southern end of Efrat, across the main street and up to the newer part of Efrat, a few hundred children paraded together. On the Zayit, the kids were treated to fireworks and more fun.
I attended the opening of Youth Week. See my blog: . It was fun and noisy. The Youth day hoped to encourage youngsters to join youth groups.
Then tonight's march was really a chavaya (fabulous experience). The kids were cheering and singing and dancing and marching all together. They had banners and flags and torches. Some were on bikes and some on skate boards.
They all cheered, and I cheered them on.
As I waited on my corner, I was greeted by our Mayor Oded Revivi, who came to encourage the children; as did Neta Magen, head of the Matnas, who marched with the kids; a head of our ambulance team; and our head of security who was shoulder to shoulder with the youngsters.
The kids seemed very excited to get out under the stars. It's great to encourage our kids to get out of the house and join a friendly, organized and monitored activity. It gives them a social life and new positive experiences.
Thanks to the Moetza (Local Council) and the Matnas Communitiy Center for the terrific march.
To watch tonight's parade on Gush Etzion TV, click here:

The Twisted Pretzel

The Twisted Pretzel - actually that sounds like a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery. Well, the story is mysterious, but not murderous, hopefully. It's more like, "I smell a rat." You just have to figure out who that rat is.
I like Beigel-Beigel's 100% whole wheat pretzels. I guess I can live without them. In fact, since they might just be boycotting me, I think I'll return the insult. Read on.

Today I read with great dismay that the Israel National News story that Beigel-Beigel Pretzels may move out of the successful Barkan industrial zone in Samaria. (But I want to remind everyone that I always say that when something sounds not-exactly right, it probably isn't.)
The Beigels are currently in the midst of a deal that would give mammoth multi-national corporation Unilever, already owner of 51% of their business, the rest of the biz.
How seemingly uncharacteristic of a family like the Beigels who have dominated the pretzel market since pre-Nazi Krakow Poland, all the way back to 1880, and then built one of the first baking factories in Israel in 1949, that it would end its proud Jewish national pretzel history, by frighteningly scurrying out of our Biblical homeland in Samaria for a safe politically-non-threatening new factory within Greenline Israel.
It's hard to believe Beigel-Beigel, Israel's top pretzel with 60% of the market, will cave in to Arab boycott pressure. I would have thought that they'd stand up in their blue-and-white way and continue exporting its crunchy snacks to 20 different countries in the world.
Unfortunately, since 2008 its dominating partner the giant, Unilever, has been acting very un-Beigel-like. In 2008 Unilever announced that it was going to divest itself of Beigel-Beigel, which it had purchased in 2001. It announced that it was going to get out of the baking business for "business-only" reasons. However, left-wing and anti-Jewish boycott groups claimed that Unilever was going to dump Beigel-Beigel because it was being manufactured in a Jewish settlement on "occupied land." reported, "The UK and Dutch-owned multinational has followed Harrods department store - which cleared its shelves of Beigel & Beigel products, such as pretzels, in August - and a campaign by Britain to crack down on Israeli settlement businesses that are allegedly dodging EU import taxes."
In a major turnaround, Unilever, whose world-famous food, home and beauty care, and nutrition products are supposedly used 160 million times a day across the globe, decided to buy out the rest of Beigel-Beigel and move them out of Yesha.
Unilever Making a Mistake
Does Unilever want to end international boycott problems by having nothing to boycott?
Unilever seems to be a company with a big heart. Its website says, "We will inspire people to take small everyday actions that can add up to a big difference for the world." In that vein, it helps people learn to improve their lives: they're involved in teaching Indian farmers to raise gherkins; helping folks in Ghana reuse waste from palm oil; cultivate tea in Kenya; spread literacy in Egypt; save water in Latin America and improve the hygiene in Pakistan.
So, it doesn't seem right that Unilever is going to sent Beigel-Beigel's Barkan workers to the unemployment line, especially since 45% of the 140 are Arab laborers.
At a time when "peace" is supposedly begin pursued, boycotts of Israeli products, entertainers and universities should be shunned, not encouraged.
Unilever owns Hellmann's, Knorr, Lipton and CIF among its hundreds of brands. Next time you're about to pick up one of their products, think about the economic mess they're about to bring on the Israeli people.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Israel Launches Youth Movement Week

In a world where children today are accosted by television, video, facebook, internet, playbox (if that's what it's called) and everything else, it's time to get back to basics - kids playing with other kids in a safe fun environment.
I.E. Youth groups.
Remember youth groups?
More or less everyone belonged to one.
In the Diaspora, many of us had youth groups in our local synagogues. They tied us to Israel and taught us more about doing mitzvot (commandments) and being part of a community.
Throughout the history of the State of Israel, youth movements and youth group activities have been very important. They have given Israeli youth a sense of belonging and brotherhood that is so important in a society, such as ours, that depends on all of us sticking together.
Today in Efrat and throughout Israel, young people launched YOUTH MOVEMENT WEEK with activities and fun to encourage children everywhere to join a youth group. It's a project encouraged by the Ministry of Education. In fact, the Ministry of Education feels that youth affiliation is so important that schools nationwide will get points, according to the percentage of students who participate in youth movements.
In my hometown, there are Bnei Akiva, Ezra, and Religious Scouts. Other towns have Ariel, Boys Scouts, Girls Scouts and HaShomer HaTzair.
There's something for everyone, hopefully - a safe happy place where kids can find friends and positive things to do.
If you live in Israel, help your child find his/her place in a youth group.
Take a look.
In English:
In Hebrew:

Lost and Found - Thanks, Rabbi Meir

I lost two items.
1 - My comics. No, not Archies or Superman, the comics that I drew of my granddaughters. Last year, I joined a comics group and drew my own cartoons, called, "Bati's Girls," starring my three two-year-old baby granddaughters. We had an exhibition at the end of the school year, and then after I brought my drawings home, they disappeared.
2 - My cellphone. Actually, not having my cell phone was like a vacation to me, but I was missing some very vital numbers, so I really needed it back.
I was on the phone with my niece in America when I told her that I lost my comics and my cellphone, and she put down the phone and disappeared for a moment. When she returned, she said, "You want your phone back, repeat after me. Eloka d'Meir Aneini (G-d of Meir answer me.)" I repeated after her, but wondered what it was all about.
"Now", she said, "you have to give tzedakah, and you'll find what you lost."
I hung up from her and gave tzedakah, and two minutes later the phone turned up. I kid you not. I almost fainted from surprise.
What was that all about?
Most visitors to Israel have traveled to Tiberius to pray by the tomb of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness. Known from the mishna, Rabbi Meir was one of the students of Rabbi Akiva. He lived during the period after the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash when Betar was destroyed by the Romans, and when the ten martyrs were killed.
It is said that if one calls out to Hashem and gives tzedakah in his name, Rabbi Meir will help. AS I said, he should give money and say, "Eloka d'Meir Aneini," (G-d of Meir answer me.")

Well, I attest to the fact that it works!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Story of Noah

After my last blog about NOAH, some readers asked me what the entire story was about.
So, I decided to give you an abbreviated pictorial history of the story of NOAH! with illustrations from the Raise Your Spirits production of NOAH! Ride the Wave! for which I was producer and one of the co-lyricists, along with Arlene Chertoff and Toby Klein Greenwald. (Music by Mitch Clyman)
Ten generations after Adam and the creation of the world, "the earth had become corrupt before G-d" because it was filled with robbery and immorality. The immorality extended from the people to the animals, and even, some say, to the plants.
BTW, we are told that G-d despaired because of the robbery, which in Hebrew is the word, Hamas. Hm, coincidence??

There was someone who found favor in G-d's eyes. His name was NOAH, and he was a good person. G-d decided to create the world anew with Noah (above left) and his three sons and their wives (above right).
Hashem commanded Noah to build a giant ark (which took 100 years) and gather a sampling of every species in the world (below) into the ark.
Not one species was overlooked, and that was a miracle in itself (although there are plenty of jokes that the dinosaurs and unicorns missed the boat...). In fact, the animals walked into the ark two-by-two just like you've heard since you were a kid. It really happened. Another major miracle.
All the while Noah was building his ark, he was telling the locals that he was building an ark because G-d was going to bring a flood and destroy the earth because of man's evil, but Noah's warnings fell on deaf ears.
About a year after the flood began, Noah sent out a raven and then a dove, looking for dry land.
After sending the dove over a period of a week, finally the bird returned to Noah with an olive leaf in its bill.
The flood was over. A new world would be born. That olive branch has been a symbol of a peaceful new world since the time of Noah.
When Noah left the ark, he brought up an offering to Hashem from the kosher animals in the ark (that were brought along in greater numbersspecifically for that purpose).
Now, G-d gives Noah and his sons and all creatures the famous blessing (which had been given to the world in the time of Adam), "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the land." He also establishes a covenant with man and beast, never again to destroy man by the waters of a flood. The sign of that covenant is the rainbow. We look at the rainbow and appreciate its delicate ethereal beauty. However, G-d looked at it as a warrior's bow aimed away from the earth, as a symbol of His repressed anger. Every time we see a rainbow, it is a message to us that G-d is displeased with man, but He will not again destroy all life.
In addition, when we see a rainbow we should say, "Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe Who remembers His covenant, is trustworthy in His covenant and fulfills His word." (The "word" of not destroying the world - comforting to know that mankind had again done something that could have warranted extinction, eh?)
In the story of Noah, G-d gives man another chance. He is still giving us chances, and He is still hoping we will live up the expectations that He has for us. I hope we will too.
Now as we begin what we hope will be the wet wintery season in Israel, we pray for rain - not as much rain as Noah received, but a good geshmakt-shpritz now and then would be very appreciated.
(I believe the photos above all came from my camera. However if there's anything really fabulous, like the photo at left, which is of me in my role as the Giant Og, King of the Bashan, then it was taken by Rebecca Flash Kowalsky of .)
Happy Parshat Noah, everyone.
If you think those gals of Raise Your Spirits are wonderful (which they are), get ready for their new show, JUDGE - The Song of Devora (lyrics by Toby Klein Greenwald & Yael Valier, music by Mitch Clyman). It premieres at the end of this month, and you can find out more here: