Top ten posts of 2006
December 30, 2006
Once again, following in Hugo's footsteps, I've chosen my ten favorite posts of 2006. Unlike Hugo, I'm not ranking mine; these are in purely chronological order.
Being visible "Tractate Kiddushin 31a of the Talmud says that the purpose of wearing a kippah is "to remind us of God, who is the Higher Authority 'above us'." Wearing a kippah makes me mindful, helps me bring blessing to what I'm doing, and reminds me to sanctify the work of my hands. Of course, an argument could be made that I'm always in God's presence, that I ought to bring blessing even to secular activities like folding laundry and buying groceries, and that every moment is worthy of sanctification. So why don't I wear a kippah all the time?"
What makes a minyan? "Wherever ten Jews gather for prayer or for the reading of Torah, the tradition tells us, the Shekhinah dwells among them. (That comes from Psalms, 82:1.) Reading from the Torah scroll is one of the most beautiful and powerful liturgical acts in our repertoire, so it makes sense that we don't do it lightly. But surely the indwelling presence of God is among us even if fewer than ten are gathered; and surely one could argue that there is merit in a lenient policy which would allow small communities like ours to reaffirm our connections with (and derive blessing from) the presence of God manifest in the Torah service even on days when our numbers are few. So why be sticklers about needing ten?"
The longest night "Imagine that someone fell ill suddenly, and was unresponsive by the time the ambulance arrived. Imagine one family member after another hearing the news and descending into grief. Imagine a burly priest driving in at two in the morning to offer the Sacrament of the Sick. Imagine the difficult decisions of organ donation and life support. Imagine the long crescendo and decrescendo of goodbyes. Imagine that the night went straight through 'til morning."
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