Sunday, September 26, 2010

All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned from a Cup by Aliza Davidovit

Who says we can only learn things from other people? This week I learned a lot from a porcelain cup. As I warmed up a delicious soup and poured it into my favorite mug, I started reading the ingredients on the can searching for the calorie count only to realize this soup I was lusting over had ingredients that rendered it not kosher. As I tearfully bid farewell to the noodles as I threw the soup away, it dawned on me that the content had also rendered the cup itself not-kosher as per Jewish law. The porous nature of porcelain makes it an absorbent and it is thus altered, however minutely, by that with which it commingles.

It made me think, that we too, humans, are all vessels, “cups,” who must be on constant vigilance of what we are allowing to fill us up. Do your cups runneth over with honeysuckle wine or with artificially-sweetened poison that slowly kills the great person you are, putting the best of you to rest one sip at a time.

Our fives sense are the openings through which we take it all in, the means through which we fill that "cup" which is "us." So I ask: What are you looking at? Who are you listening to? What are you eating? What are you touching? What are you smelling? These senses are all gifts from God. Ask the blind man or deaf man if you don’t believe that it is so. Ask an elderly person who no longer has the ability to taste, or a brain tumor patient, such as my dad was, whose sense of smell was destroyed. Do not for one moment take for granted the access points through which we imbibe life. When you learn to appreciate and cherish them, you will learn to use them wisely and put a burly bouncer at each entry to ward off the crap from entering your life.

We may think we are impervious to listening to hateful things; we may think we can watch whatever we want on TV and just close the channel and it’s over, and so on. But it is not the case. Human beings are evermore porous and continually altered by what they allow in both physically and spiritually.

This week we begin the Bible reading again with the story of creation and Adam and Eve. We learn that it was all the senses, except the sense of smell, that led Eve to sin. She opened her ears to the snake’s beguiling tongue; she visually lusted over the beauty of the forbidden fruit; she touched it; she tasted it. She let in all the wrong things—one fateful step at a time—and shattered the pure vessel that she was, bringing mankind down with her.

So my friends, before you fill your cups, take a good look at the ingredients and make sure that you are always drinking “to life.”

As an addendum, I also learned something from another inanimate object in my home, a crystal snake? Someone once gave me this expensive Daum crystal serpent as a gift which I abhorred for obvious reasons. For many months I’d pass by it and say, “Feh, I hate it” and dreamed of ways to get rid of it or break it without insulting the giver. But as time passed by, I completely stopped noticing it. And that too is a lesson. Our senses eventually become lulled by over exposure (ask any perfume sales girl), and you can have a snake right before your eyes and not even see it for what it is. So, don’t let your senses fall asleep on the job. But rather, stand guard, be on alert, for there is no interaction that leaves you as you were before.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

How Sweet It Is to Be Loved By YOU! by Aliza Davidovit

As I sat before a blank page one year ago with only the will to write these blogs but not certain I had the words, I really wasn’t sure I’d make it through the year. I’ll be honest, I’ve tried it before. But wandering through the desert for 40 years was a difficult task, even from the comfort of my living room. Usually by the second book of the Bible, I’d say, “Sundays are for relaxing,” and I’d put my pen to rest. But as the Jewish people are apt to do, I ask myself a few questions: “Why was this year different than all the other years? What gave me the incentive to keep on going?” The answer was “YOU!” From week to week the support and encouragement you gave me has kept me fired up and inspired, even the criticism too. For it is impossible to have two Jews and one Jewish mother among your readers and not be met with criticism. But, I just want to say that I have never had friends like you before. God has truly surrounded me with very special people from every faith and almost every country. I believe each of you has been handpicked by Him and your friendship has touched me deeply. As I enter the Jewish New Year, I pray for all of you to have friends like YOU who will lovingly get you to whatever finish line means the most to you.

The famous Rabbi Lapin has said that anything good that happens in life involves the coming together of things: molecules need other molecules for matter to form; letters need other letters to make words and sentences; notes need other notes to make music. And most of all people need other people. The hermit in me never knew that—until I met all of you! As Barbara Streisand once sang, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” I need all of you and consider myself now the luckiest person to have found you.

So as we enter Rosh Hashana, my friends of all faiths, I pray that God showers you all with blessings and with true and righteous friends who encourage you to grow and to be better, people who look upon your face and see that you are made in God’s image and remind you everyday that you can surely live up to the part.
Shana Tova!

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