The Sinai Event Considered as a UFO Experience

2017.02.07

(NOTE: This is an expansion and detailing of an earlier article. Enjoy.)

PUT ME IN THE CAMP of those who view the Torah as a largely fictional work.

That said, I do tend to think that some of it actually happened. For example, there’s a passage in Genesis which describes Abraham the Patriarch as leading a commando raid on a group of people who kidnapped his nephew, where he is said to have taken 318 men with him. I don’t think anyone would invent such a specific figure; thus, for this (and other reasons) I do believe Abraham existed, and the tribal elders, and Moses (or someone Moses-like), and Joshua, and a few other people scattered here and there through the text.

I also believe the Sinai event happened. But not for the reasons you’d think.
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…And We’re Back

2017.02.07

IT FEELS GOOD to write again.

It has been just over six years since I last added to this blog (which once boasted a readership of about thirty people, each one beloved, with additional spikes when I linked to something else and readers traced the link) and am finally feeling confident again about writing. The hiatus was mostly caused by a long-term and largely unameliorated depression (and yes, I’m still disabled); but thank G?d, Wellbutrin, Ann and Torah, I seem to have found my way back. During that time, it was difficult for me to focus on anything beyond a sentence — yes, it was that bad — but I somehow always knew I’d take up The Metaphorager again. Or so I hoped, anyway.

The tagline for this blog is “All That’s News To Me, I Print.” It used to be “A Journal of Experiential Holiness and Snack Bar,” which is perhaps closer to the point (there is a lot of Jewish content here, after all), but there’s a raft of other stuff contained in its (so far) 623 posts: recipes, blog critiques, book reviews, cultural commentary, short stories, et al. I had fun writing it, and hope you had/have fun reading it.

I’m not going to predict what I’m going to post here; I posted the last post because it’s the first writing I have done in six years and wanted to share it with a wider variety of people than receive my synagogue’s newsletter (for which I wrote it); I have seen too many people organize events which they called the “First Annual Shindig” and never held another.

All I can say is that it feels good to write again. We’ll see what develops from here.

Midrash Beshallach

2017.02.06

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WORF: These are our stories. They tell us who we are.
BA’EL: …Are they true?
WORF: I have studied them all of my life, and find new truths in them every time.
– “Birthright,” Star Trek: The Next Generation

Here’s a radical thought: does the story of the Exodus and its miracles — including this week’s splitting of the Sea of Reeds — need to be true in order to be meaningful?

Biblical literalists, who take the Torah to be G?d’s word, see the text as the ultimate truth and the miracles as G?d’s handiwork. Modern critics see the Torah as a unique document compiled from numerous sources, and explain the miracles in terms of natural events. But both may be missing the point.
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Haiku for Uncertain Weather

2012.01.31

Slate-thin clouds cover
shoulders that lately knew sun.
Make up your mind, God.

Apprentice Question

2011.11.16

“WHAT CAN I DO, RIGHT now, to better myself?”

Spectrum

2011.11.09

AS SOUND IS SLOWLY-VIBRATING light, ambition is slowly-vibrating desperation.

Torah Study: Going, Going, Ain’t Gone Yet

2011.11.04

OUR TORAH PORTION THIS WEEK begins with God’s famous exhortation to Abram, “Lech Lecha — Go for yourself from your land … I will bless you and make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”

What does that mean, to be a blessing? Rashi says it’s an investment in Abraham of God’s power to bless, to pass along the Divine influence for growth and attainment. According to the Etz Chayim chumash, it means “to serve as the exemplar by which a blessing is invoked.” Rabbi Samson Hirsch, however, sees it as a commandment: to receive the divine rewards, one must live so as to be a blessing to the world.

Perhaps it also means to live in such a way as see the Divine in every moment — to bear witness, however unlikely it may seem, to the action of God as context for our lives (to paraphrase R’ Jack Gabriel). To be a blessing is to sanctify everything within reach — and to learn to extend that reach by joining hands with others. After all, we can’t do it alone!

Neal & Ann’s Torah Study
Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011: 10 am-noonish (RSVP)
Torah Portion: Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1-17:27)
Haftarah: Isaiah 40:27-41:16

Windstorm Stylist

2011.11.03

Scary loud gusts brush
From the trees’ green-flowing hair
Stray twigs and branches.

First Graf: Silverlock

2011.11.01

TAKE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS, STAR A grumpy Chicagoan, people the landscape with characters and places from the world’s literature and you have Silverlock — a fable of the human spirit no less great or more complex a story than a man discovering the world of letters and how it changes him. I have read it twice now, once from the depths of a great spiritual crisis, and the effect is almost electric. Half the fun is spotting the references; another half is author John Myers Myers’ love of language; a third half is how it makes you feel. Silverlock may or may not change your life, but it will certainly change your view of storytelling — and isn’t that sometimes the same thing?

If I had cared to live, I would have died.
A storm had come up. While not sick, I found my bunk the most comfortable place, leaving it only to take my meals. Dozing after supper, I learned of disaster when a wave bashed in the door of my deck cabin. The backwash sluiced me out of it and stranded me by a stowage locker.

The Other Secret

2011.10.18

WHEN IN DOUBT, SHOOT FROM the heart.

Litmus

2011.10.17

A SURE TEST OF ANY theology is to ask, “Does God exist before human beings?”

Among other things, the answer can shed light on one’s grasp of science. For if you allow for a God who watched over the dinosaurs, who saw the primordial soup trend toward consciousness on a billion planets, who was delighted by the Big Bang — in short, One who doesn’t need humans to survive and Whom humans can only love fiercely but dimly — you may well be on to something.

Pithyism #65b

2011.10.13

MATURITY IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN we choose to be fascinated by something other than ourselves.

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