Look up the word “gaudy” in a dictionary and you will find that it means “garish, showy, vulgarly colorful,” from the Latin, gaudere “to rejoice.” Citizens of Barcelona may be forgiven for imagining that it comes from the name of their most famous architectural genius, Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926), whose perfectly outrageous riot of color fairly fills the city.
A rabbi friend recently joked about the “Top 50 Rabbis in America.” He said he figures he is somewhere around 1,367; Rabbi No. 1364, he says, speaks better than he does, and Rabbi No. 1,368 has visited fewer sick people than he has, so he must be right in between them. He’s hoping that next year he’ll move up to the 1,350s, but who knows? As long as he’s in the Top 2,000, he says, he should be fine.
Speech is powerful. In the Bible, unchecked speech can foment punishment, exile, even death. Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses in last week’s parsha, and this week the Miraglim (the 12 scouts/spies) speak against the Promised Land.
Freud did not have our sedra specifically in mind when he wrote his treatises on religion, though he would have pointed to its demand that the Passover sacrifice be done “in accordance with all its rules and rites” [Numbers 9:1-5] as evidence of his claim that religion is a caricature of obsessive-compulsive neurosis.