The art of living is one of self-creation. The Rabbis of the Talmud teach that when God says in Genesis, “Let us make man,” God is speaking with the royal “we.” But a later chasidic teaching argues that God is speaking to human beings — together we will make you. I will endow you with certain gifts and you must spend your life soul-shaping.
At the opening of the Book of Samuel, in a story we retell each Rosh Hashanah, we are introduced to Hannah, a woman distressed for the child she yearns to raise, but cannot conceive. The Book of Genesis recounts yet another story we read on Rosh Hashanah, the story of Hagar, a mother who, unable to stay with her son and watch him wither away to death from lack of water, can do nothing more than walk away from him and weep.
A friend who read my article last week, on the subject of social and sexual pathologies in the Jewish community and the tendency to try and hide them, sent me an e-mail that could not conceal his frustration. Why is it, he asked, that given the rather brutal treatment that a number of children receive in the book of Genesis, the Torah itself does not address the issue of child abuse?
Oy, life gets hard sometimes, no? We ride the roller coaster of our daily lives, sometimes barely hanging on, and looking for moments of respite from the craziness. For those of us who are pet lovers (dogs, cats, birds, fish, iguanas, etc.), one of the sweetest times of the day is when we come home to our beloved animal companions. Our animals often seem to have a supernatural ability to “get us,” and to know when we need extra special love and attention.