Reb Zalman on Chanukah, the third Temple, and God's broadcast
A chat with one of the editors of the Jewish Annotated New Testament

Unseasonable warmth, spiritual wills, Jacob's ladder

A grey and rainy day. "All wet," said Drew when I opened the door between the garage and the outdoors today. (And then, with mingled fear and delight, "Puddle!" The puddle at our door was so large I wound up carrying him through instead of letting him stomp in his police car boots.) The last few days have been unseasonably warm here, the low clouds of the sky mingling seamlessly with fog. The bare trees look reddish to me, the bushes faintly bright, and I wonder: after one solid snowfall, do they interpret this peculiar warmth as spring? Are they on the verge of leafing?

The forecasters say that the mercury will plummet tonight and that several inches of snow may fall by morning. Something in me is just the tiniest bit glad to hear it. Even though snow means the return of windshield scrapers, trying to wrangle mittens onto toddler fingers, shoveling a path to the car, it's what I've come to expect from December here. It's been strange to walk outside in this balminess as the Christmas lights go up, illuminating field fences and eaves on rural back roads, spangling bushes and windows all over town.

I browse pictures of size 3T pyjamas online: rocket ships or trucks or Thomas the Tank Engine? Questions it never occurred to me to ponder, before. The voices of Anonymous 4 sing an English ladymass in unknowing counterpoint with the sounds of laundry ricocheting around the dryer. Soon I'll plug in my headphones and connect with my fellow spiritual-directors-in-training. We've been reading one anothers' spiritual / ethical wills all day. I'm humbled by the beautiful things my chevre thought to write. I want to revise mine to reflect their wisdom.

It's the eleventh of Kislev. Two years ago today, in the lunisolar calendar of Jewish time, Drew entered the breathing world. We were in Parashat Vayetzei that week -- the story of Jacob who dreamed a ladder with angels moving up and down. Vayetzei, the parsha in which Jacob meets his kinswoman Rachel for the first time, and falls immediately in love. The parsha in which Jacob's complicated family story continues: Leah and Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah, jealousy and sons, Jacob's flight from Laban and Rachel's theft of her father's household idols. The parsha ends with angels once again: Jacob meets angels of God on the road.

I wonder whether my son will grow up to encounter angels everywhere he goes. Which deep family stories will he replicate, and which will he revise?

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