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B"SD

Jewish Words of Wisdom: Quotes from February 1998

From the Week of 19 Shevat 5758/February 15, 1998

The Wispered Prayer

"No one is as remote as You, L-RD our G-d,
yet no one is closer to us, Fatherly King.
You are beyond the confines of all creation,
yet forever present in every moment.
Our deepest thought cannot grasp Your infinity,
nor understand the shadow of Your glory's reflection.
But the whispered prayer, rising from the depths of despair.
the unvoiced cry of mute needs,
the soft sigh, draining the broken heart of its sorrow,
the silent supplication of a thin, stilled voice
-- all these are like great shofar blasts
tearing the fabric of Your sphere's peace,
touching Your endlessness wherever You are.
Suddenly You, whom the utmost heavens cannot contain,
deign to dwell in each single searching heart."
(Siddur Sim Shalom, p 802 -- I stumbled upon this reading on Sat the 14th at a time when I very much needed it. It is as if G-d wanted me to find this when I did.)

"Even when the sharp sword is already upon his neck, a person must not despair nor cease to pray" (Yohanan b. Nappaha, Talmud, Berakot 10a)

From the Week of 12 Shevat 5758/February 8, 1998

Note: all quotes this week are from A Garden of Choice Fruit, Rabbi David E. Stein, ed.

"When G-d created the first human beings,
G-d led them around the garden of Eden and said:
'Look at my works!
See how beautiful they are -- how excellent!
For your sake I created them all.
See to it that you do not spoil and destroy My world;
for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it.' "
(Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah on 7:13)

"The earth is the L-RD's and all that it holds,
the world and all its inhabitants." (Psalms 24:1)

The Holy One said to Israel:
"Even if you find the land full of all good things,
you should not say, 'We will sit and not plant';
rather, be diligent in planing!
Just as you came and found trees planted by others,
you must plant for your children;
a person must not say, 'I am old, how many years will I live?
Why should I get up and exert myself for others?
I'm goin to die tomorrow.'
You must not excuse yourself from planting.
As you found trees, plant more, even if you are old.
(Midrash Tanhuma, Kidoshim

"Said Rabbi Yohanan:
All his live, the righteous Honi the Circle-maker was troubled by this verse: When the L-RD restored the fortunes of Zion -- we were like dreamers --... (Psalms 126:1) He thought, 'Can someone really dream for 70 years?!' Once Honi the Circle-maker was walking on the road and saw a man planting a carob tree. Honi said: 'You know a carob tree takes 70 years to bear fruit; are you so sure you will live 70 years so as to eat from it?' 'I found this world provided with carob trees,' the man replied, 'and as my forebearers planted them for me, so I will plant them for my offspring.' Honi then sat down to eat and was overcome with sleep. As he slept, a small cave formed around him, so that he was hidden. And thus he slept for 70 years. When he awoke, he saw a man gathering carob from that same tree, and eating them. 'Do you know who planted this carob tree?' Honi asked. 'My grandfather,' the man replied. 'I must have been like a dreamer for 70 years!' Honi exclaimed..." (Talmud Bavli, Ta'anit 23a)

"Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai recieved Torah from Hillel and Shammai...
He used to say:
If you have a sapling in your hand,
and someon should say to you that the Messiah has come,
stay and complete the transplanting,
and then go welcome the Messiah."
(Avot de-Rabbi Natan)


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