Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Bald Eagle

May 14, 2017

15 Iyar 5777, Hanoch Ne’eman, Scottsdale

Some nights ago, without me hearing it, it rained here. Let me tell you, there were a lot of happi cacti out there on the morrow. The Saguaros were simply swelling with joy. The air smelled beautiful too. Had to clean the dust marks of the car, but that was a small price to pay.

Two Shabboses before today, I took a walk down to Hayden Road in the late afternoon.

Image result for rain on cactus

Elizabeth Rose – photo

I walked along Hayden Road, with its heavy traffic, up to Jackrabbit Road, then turned back. As I get closer to Chaparral Road, I see, atop a tall wooden electric pole, a very large bird. “What might that be?”, I think, “a turkey vulture or a heron, looking for fish in Chaparral Pond which is just on the other side of the street?” Getting closer, slowly, I see it is a bald eagle! And I know what they look like, because I saw them and photographed them years ago on my Aunt’s property in Vermont.

Before long the eagle got uneasy and took off. It circled high over the lake a few passes, not diving for anything, and then kept flying off. It was about 24 inches from head to toe. He kept flying off, heading north, sort of veering back and forth. I could easily still see him over a mile away.

Rav Kook wrote in 5668 (1908) in Jaffa:

The longing for freedom will reach its peak, and Man will realize that he is entitled to live in his spirit (inside) as he actually is, according to the desire of the mighty nature of his living soul – and this soul lives only in G-d. Without deep, vibrant faith, this soul has no life or light. It is fleeting as a shadow, oppressed by a terrible suffering, and parched with cruel thirst. Who would prevent her? Who would not allow her to live in G-d? Who would drive this sky bird from her nest? Who would put her in prison? Who would stop her from cruising the full expanses of heaven, the place of splendor and fresh air, full of light and life?   (Orot, pg. 218)

Yes, we should be privileged to see the eagles soaring every shabbos, wherever we are!

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something old, something new

April 26, 2017

rosh hodesh Iyar 5777 H. Ne’eman Scottsdale

I am enjoying reading my Mom’s collection of old scout books. It is interesting how a hundred years ago, the general society in America dressed modestly; women in skirts, men in shirts and pants. What made values change? It is also interesting how international dress standards are today. I see a lot of the same fashions among the immodest in Israel as in America. I must conclude that if you are not taught about modesty, you are unlikely to practice it. You will want to be like others, you will want to stand out, you will want to be most comfortable.

How can we influence people for better? One, by example. Two, by insisting on clean ads in public spaces. Three, by writing and speaking to groups, such as civic and religious groups; this is a topic where we can build bridges and create constructive dialogue.

Of course this is for those inspired to it. Many of us don’t have time to devote to such things. But examples we should always be.

 

Reach, throw…

April 25, 2017

14th of Omer, H. Ne’eman, Scottsdale

Tonight I was sitting by the pool reviewing a lot of my life mistakes, I guess you could say it was the reflecting pool, at least for that time. At some time in the middle I see a big moth splashing about in the water. He keeps getting swished around, can’t get out of the water, and does not come close enough to the side for me to reach him.

In the scouts, in our lifesaving classes, we learned the order of rescue: Reach, Throw, Row, Go. Finally I remembered that there were some Styrofoam swim tubes in one of the changing rooms. I procured one of those and made the moth reach-rescue.

May Hashem be so kind as to help us out of our fixes! Ana Hashem Hoshia Na!

 

 

hold that channel!

April 21, 2017

25 Nisan 5777 Hanoch Ne’eman Scottsdale AZ

A few days before Pesach, I had an experience which was a little out of the ordinary. I felt that perhaps my Uncle Asher, who passed away this summer, was communicating to us through my Father. My Father has Parkinson’s. He can talk, but a lot of the time he naps. He was sitting at the table for a long time, like an hour and a half, and looking at a siddur. He was looking at different things, like the shabbos eve song, Kol Mekadesh. He was not falling asleep, which was unusual. At one point he calls me over and says, pointing to the words in Hebrew, “how do you read this word? He starts reading himself, pointing to words, but saying something completely different; like aramaic words, ending in “sah” and “tah”. Never saw him do anything like that before.

He goes on with his quiet study, and says later, “I don’t know, most of this is just nonsense (waving his hand), but it seems like there is some secret message in it.” That was a very Uncle Asher type thing to say, and the way he said it. Uncle Asher would study things for a long time like that. He was a scientist who tried to solve mysteries.

Later, my Father was sitting eyes closed, chin down at the table, when he lifts his head (eyes still closed) and says (talking to no one), “What’s that letter? Aleph? And what comes next, Tee?  no…”

And a bit later he says, “I don’t know why you are (doing/saying?) that, especially after you fought so savagely for this…(pauses) channel… we are both using.”

I am saying kaddish for Uncle Asher. This same day (I think it was the Yom Hamishi before Pesach) I did not get to the minyan in the morning, and then didn’t go in the afternoon/evening either.

Pesach in the Sonoran desert, with the Syrians

April 19, 2017

23rd of Nisan, Hanoch Ne’eman, Scottsdale

Well Pesach for me, as an Israeli, is over pretty much; today is yom tov shani shel goliyut. The holiday prep included usual activities like reminding ourselves online which oils and seeds we do and don’t use. Also I had a doubt whether I would still be a good Jew if I used a pear-apple to make our charoset, but in the end I played it safe and used a regular apple. (By the way, pear apples were first brought to the Southwest by Chinese miners during the Gold Rush). My parents have here a surprising amount of Pesach dishes and supplies, so we were pretty prepared. Since my Mom was not feeling well I prepared most of the Seder, which may have been a first for me, or perhaps second.

The real big news was that Hashem in his kindness sent me a minyan! Yes, it was quite a Pesach surprise. About a week or so before the holiday I was gardening out in the back yard and thinking about the upcoming holiday and how I would not have any minyan to pray with on the festive days of the holiday or Shabbat Hol HaMoed. I talked to Hashem as I worked and said how much I would like to have a minyan. I said “Nothing is too hard for you Hashem, You could have a busload of observant Jews break down in front of my house Erev Hag. Nothing is too hard for you, but if that doesn’t happen… I guess I will try to enjoy praying here by myself.” I really said that, you know I don’t lie to you, dear readers.

So on the morning of the 14th of Nisan, after we had the siyum masechet for the Firstborn, I was learning a bit in the shul. The Rabbi was talking to some out of town guests. When they finished I asked what the shul minhag was about tephillin on Hol Hamoed? He said most people, including him, do not wear them. I asked if I could drive my car to shul on Yom Tov Shani to daven with the minyan? He said no, but then an idea came to him and he asked, where do your parents live again? I told him and then he said that just on Friday some men had come to minyan in the morning to meet him, their family is out here for the holiday and staying at the Scottsdale Hilton. We did a rough calculation and figured it was about a two mile walk from where I was. He immediately called them up. Michael, the fellow who had made the point of taking them there on Friday, because his friend back home told him he should meet Rabbi Shoshan, said, “Sure he can daven with us, I will send you a copy of the times of prayers.”

So a few hours before the holiday I got connected with a minyan for the whole holiday (except Hol Hamoed when I drove to Ahavas Torah). It took me about a half hour walk each way. They invited me to kiddush after the morning prayers, which went from about 7:30 to 9:45. It was one family, about 80 people. They had 18 villas at the hotel. They were Syrian Jews from New York. They were very hospitable. Michael walked me to the gate each day and night after davening or kiddush. The “Gramma” who was really Great-gramma, welcomed me warmly, told me to come every day, and “not wait for an invitation”. It was funny when she said, “Oh, so you are an Ashkenazi?” It almost sounded like a racial slur! The best I could answer was “Well, mostly… yes.” I was so embarrassed, it got me thinking that maybe I should convert to Sephardi.

They brought their own Torah and food, which they made themselves. They organized their own rafting trips, paintball, and trips to the Grand Canyon. They go away for Pesach together every year, but this is the first time to Arizona. Michael said they usually go to Florida, but the hotels they stayed at kept selling to developers, and with the Zika virus down there now, they decided to go to Arizona. They had almost booked at another hotel further North called The Boulders, but then at the last minute some other group booked it for Easter. So they ended up here at the Scottsdale Hilton, close to me.

Hashem is Gadol.

 

out here in the fields

April 7, 2017

11 Nisan 5777 Hanoch Ne’eman, Scottsdale AZ

Well it looks like we will be spending Pesach at home. From our angle, Camelback Mountain, when silhouetted at dusk or night, looks like two pyramids, so at least we have good casting for the exodus story.

Yesterday was my English birthday. My Mom apologized for not having a card for me, or a cake. I said that’s okay, you gave birth to me, that’s enough!

Welcome to Nisan

April 2, 2017

6th of Nisan 5777 Scottsdale AZ Hanoch Ne’eman

It is hard being without a minyan on Shabbat. On the other hand, it is nice to be your own chazzan for all of davening, as you pray in the backyard. Did not go up Camelback this shabbat, (as opposed to the last two weeks). Tried to do bit more studying. Went around the pond in Chapperal Park in later afternoon. Saw some geese and a swan walking together with a lot of their little ones. Could not tell for sure which were goslings and which baby swans, if any.

Not sure yet what we might do for Pesach. If Mom is feeling up to it, may try going to Tuscon for three nights for the seders. Just to do them privately, but then at least I could have a minyan to pray with.

Reminds me of the old Beatles song, Get Back, how does it go?…

Hanoch left his home in the capital of Israel,

for some Arizona snow.

Made seder at a resort in Tuscon, Arizona,

With matzos bought from Trader Joe’s…

Oh yeah,  Get Back…

Everyone sing along!…

message to you

March 19, 2017

Motz. Shabbat, Ohr l’21 Adar, 5777 Hanoch Ne’eman, Scottsdale, AZ

On Wed., the 11th of Adar, I took a hike up and over Camelback Mt., starting on Invergordon Road. When I got back to my car, there was another car parked behind me. On its hood were metal letters which said “Trust in G-d”. On the back of the car were more hood ornament letters saying “keep pushing forward”.

This was for me a personal message, I felt, as during my hike I was saying to myself, as a mantra, “push your self to accomplish”, not regarding the hike but as a general admonishment. Coming at the end of the hike, it was like a confirmation.

Vegetarian at 105

January 8, 2017

10 Tevet, 5777 Hanoch Ne’eman, Jerusalem

Recently a Frenchman by the name of Robert Marchand set a record: at age 105 he bicycled over 22.5 kilometers in an hour. Now you are probably thinking like me, how many 105 year olds can two wheel bicycle at all, let alone for an hour? So good for him for being an example for fitness. But what I was also impressed with was that his trainer said, (with disapproval) that Robert had recently stopped eating meat, and that she thinks he could have done better if he was eating meat. The reason he stopped was because he felt animals were often mistreated in the meat industry. Bravo. That is part of why I started eating vegetarian also years ago. And in general, is it nice for us to eat animals?

The question is why this man just started doing this at 105? I in any case applaud it, but I can also suggest a possible reason. Many years ago a friend once suggested to me that perhaps I was a vegetarian because I was afraid of death. Well I think there may be something to that. We all fear death somewhat. Perhaps that aversion translates into not wanting to be the cause of death of other creatures too. So, perhaps, when you are 105, you are more sensitive to death too?

In any case, Hashem should help us all to stay both fit and sensitive to our fellow creatures.

A prayer for teeth

December 27, 2016

27 Kislev 5777 Hanoch Ne’eman, Jerusalem

In the kiddush levana prayers, over the new moon, there is a request in some siddurim for no toothaches or cavities!? I guess because the moon is white and sort of looks like a big tooth, and you know how the kabbalah is sensitive to subtle associations.

But truthfully, and toothfully, teeth are worth praying over. How I wish I still had a full set of non-filled or chipped teeth. It’s all about dental hygiene.  And yes, you can brush your teeth on shabbat, and floss too, if you cut the floss before shabbat. I recommend this; letting one’s teeth go bad is not my idea of religion.