Minute Mitzvah: Take Saturday Off

Welcome to another Monday Mitzvah! If you’re not hip to things eth(n)ospiritual, feel free to skip this post.

Today: Rest on Shabbat.

For most of the past 166,400-odd weeks, Jews have celebrated Shabbat as part of the fabric of Creation. (After all, if God gets a day off why shouldn’t we?) The essence of Shabbat is rest from and refreshment toward the workaday world of, well, creation: of making and maintaining and manipulating. Those of a hardcore bent enjoy this weekly vacation within a formal Friday-sunset-to-Saturday-nightfall structure; others unplug and recharge in their own way. The idea is to take a break from everything which keeps you from being you during the other six days. (Media critic and minimalist Henry David Thoreau might have been speaking of Shabbat when he said, “Read not the Times for Truth: Read the Eternities.”)

Exercise: This Saturday, just give it a rest.

Prosatio Silban and the Beloved Animal

A FEW YEARS AGO, I began writing some short fantasies concerning a notable resident of the Land Beyond The Sunset: Prosatio Silban, ex-holyman turned freelance cook. At this writing, six stories are completed and undergoing revision, but the following flash tale is complete in itself. Enjoy.

HALFWAY BETWEEN HERE AND THERE lay a town whose chief feature was a particular animal, wild but benign, which had made its home in a civic park. So charming were its ways and so touching its mannerisms that the townspeople painted its winsome form on signs and walls, dyed their clothes to imitate its pelt, and dated their history in terms of the Beloved Animal’s first appearance.

Live Long and Kosh — er, Prosper

IT’S NOT ALWAYS NEWS WHEN a rabbi writes a book — but when he writes about Vulcans, Ferengi and Klingons, it’s bound to raise at least one fascinated eyebrow (I’m looking at you, Spock).

Rabbi Yonassan Gershom‘s Jewish Themes In Star Trek is exactly what the title says it is. As part of its recent release Rabbi G. has assembled a JTiST portal with more than two dozen links to Trek-related Judaica, from the origin of the Vulcan hand salute to whether or not Ferengi are anti-Semitic stereotypes (he doesn’t think so, and neither do I). He also tackles some of the issues raised by J. J. Abrams’ latest Star Trek film, both Jewish and fannish, and seems to intuit the unspeakable truth of Nerd Religion. Diftor heh smusmah, and mazel tov!

Invasion of the Sound Creatures

TITANIC THINGS ARE LURCHING ABOUT your neighborhood with awful speed and clumsiness — and by the time you finish reading this, you’ll hear them too.

I speak not of the consequences attending long-term medication, nor of some Lovecraftian horror rolling beneath the surface of reality, nor the start of Sonoma‘s tourist season. I speak of the ubiquitous and near-subsonic “swooshhhhhhh-BOOM” which has shouldered aside fanfares and instrumental flourishes in the modern mediasphere.

You’ve heard it. You must have. It can’t be escaped. As the product appears, a bassy “swoooshhhhhhh” as of Cyclopean wings circles the soundscape followed by a deep rumbling “BOOM.” Sometimes it’s just the “BOOM.” Or several in sequence, like an undead Godzilla tipsily shambling toward the theater/iPod/living room.

Or you might not have noticed it during the past terrible ten years; you might have been unwittingly seduced by the infrasonic siren’s call. Seduced into thinking that the product is brilliant. Brilliant enough to swallow every last box-office dollar and make you beg to give it even more.

But no. I am foolish. These … Things won’t bear revelation. They don’t want us to notice, those huge swooshhhing BOOMS with the BOOM and the BOOM and the BOOM and the have a beer commercial. Forget me. In fact, forget you even clicked here.

But don’t forget to listen.

I only wish I could.