Dying In My Tent

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“Resh Lakish said: Whence do we learn that words of Torah are firmly held by one who kills himself for it? Because it says, This is the Torah, when a man shall die in the tent.”
(Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 63b)

While studying this week’s Torah Portion (Chukat/Chukas), I came to the this passage:

זֹאת הַתּוֹרָה אָדָם כִּי־יָמוּת בְּאֹהֶל

This is the law when someone dies in a tent (Numbers 19:14a)

It reminded me of the lessons I had learned from Artscroll’s A Daily Dose of Torah (ADDT) regarding this passage. Although this passage is literally about the law regarding the transfer of corpse impurity to anyone under the roof the same roof as a corpse, it is understood midrashically from the Hebrew to be a lesson about one who would “kill himself for the sake of Torah.” As the passage in Berachot 63b says, “the words of Torah are firmly held by one who kills himself for it.” Or as ADDT phrases it, “Torah remains only with one who kills himself for it.” And, as a reminder for the literal-minded, they clarify that it is not that one is to endanger one’s life for the sake of Torah. It is rather that we must restrict our personal pleasures, and sacrifice of our time in order to make the time for study so that the lessons of Torah will be impressed upon us with a lasting impression.

From the moment I learned this a few years back, this has spoken to me. However, this week it speaks even louder. Due to some undisclosed circumstances, over the last year or more, my guiding philosophy has been:

“For in much wisdom is much vexation,and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18)

I have kept up with my studies just enough to give my family some direction, but nothing more. I have not “died in my tent.” I’ve only been in survival mode. However, during Shavuot of this year Hashem spoke to my heart and said that I must get back on course and “die in my tent” for His sake. I must put aside all of the coping mechanisms (distractions) with which I have been filling my life. I must “die to myself” in order to truly live, and become who He has intended for me to become.

“When I die and face the heavenly court,” the Hassidic Rabbi Zusha famously said, “if they ask me why I was not more like Abraham, I will say that I didn’t have Abraham’s intellectual abilities. If they say, ‘Why weren’t you more like Moses?’ then I will explain that I did not have Moses’ talent for leadership. For every such question I will have an answer, but if they say, ‘Zusha, why were you not Zusha?’ for that I will have no answer.”

Since Shavuot, I have been studying with renewed fervor. I have been a lot more consistent in my studying, and more engaged with the Holy Text. I’ve also been gleaning from other sources, and studying them more carefully as well. Although I still have a nagging trepidation, I am looking forward with anticipation to what Hashem is going to do in my life as I surrender to Him.

Will I ever become who I was intended to become? Will you? Maybe it is time for both of us to “die in our tents” together.

Shavuot 5711/2011

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Just wanted to write a quick post letting all of our friends who we might expect to see us in Hudson, WI this week for Shavuot (Pentecost) know that we had to cancel our trip at the last moment due to uncontrollable circumstances. We will miss you all! We hope to have a small gathering of friends here for Shavuot and enjoy celebrate the giving of the Torah together here. Many blessings to you all! May your Shavuot be filled with Simcha (Joy) and the Ruach (Spirit) of our Mighty God!

FREE DOWNLOAD – Omer Counting Activity Sheet 5771/2011

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omer sheet 2011omer stickers

Here is a free download to help your family both remember to count the omer between Passover/Pesach and Pentecost/Shavuot, as well as make it fun. I’ve created a calendar sheet and cut-n-paste “stickers” (bring your own glue stick) to count the omer all the way to Shavuot.

Please download these, print them out and use them for your family. Be sure to post this link to your Facebook page and Tweet it to your friends so they will be able to enjoy it as well. Chag Sameach! Enjoy!


Counting the Omer 2011 Calendar (PDF)

Omer stickers (PDF)

FREE DOWNLOAD: Passover Place Mats & Coloring Sheets

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Place Mat Front

Place Mat Back

Better late than never. I have created some place mats / coloring sheet / activity sheet for Passover and thought I would share them with you. They are formatted to print front and back on 11×17 tabloid paper (the size of 2 sheets of paper side-by-side). It contains something for both older and younger children. It has a Word Search, a Maze, a Cryptogram and a whole page to color (the seder plate and flowers & butterflies to represent Springtime). I hope you enjoy! Be sure to spread the word, since we don’t have a lot of time. Be sure to Tweet this post or link to it on Facebook.

Chag Sameach! I pray you have a joyous Passover!



Download Placemat Front

Download Placemat Back

Lead Codices & The Discovery of Atlantis

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Let’s face it. The “discovery” of the 70 some odd lead codices, said to be of either Christian or Kabbalistic origin have been THE BUZZ on the internet the last few days. But why? Because they are (for the moment) an inexplicable archaeological mystery, steeped with intrigue and sensationalism… Just the type of stuff from which our favorite movies are made. Their discovery has had the Yahoo! News, BBC and now the Christian Science Monitor all jump on the band wagon, reporting on this discovery, adding to the credibility of the find.

But many scholars & laymen alike are having serious doubts about their authenticity, and asking some good questions which should give us pause. A recent post from the rogueclassicist catalogs a lot of these in his latest post entitled, “Lead Codices Silliness.” Although I disagree with him on one or two points, I think he does a great job at bringing the assessment back to reality, rather than leaving it to the realm of melodrama. One thing he mentions in passing is an allusion to a report concerning the recent & alleged discovery of Atlantis. Just last week it was reported by the Jerusalem Post that Hartford University Prof. Richard Freund claims to have not only found the lost, sunken city of Atlantis, but that it turns out to actually be the biblical city of Tarshish (remember Jonah?).

leadcodex-zoom leadcodex-odd

So how do the lead codices connect to Atlantis, you might be asking? Really, only in one way – sensationalism. Although we have seen a great resurgence in biblical archaeology in the last decade or so, we have also seen the crazies come out of the closet and try to capitalize on the renewed interest. When we can claim that Atlantis has been found through the use of Google Earth, we can easily create all kinds of outlandish claims in other arenas within the archaeological realm.

Lastly, it looks like all of this is starting to come to a head. Aaron Eby (Boundary Stones, Biblical Kosher, etc.) recently posted a new link to PaleoJudaica exposing a previous copper codex belonging to David Elkington as an absolute fake, and are related to the Jordanian cache of codices. What a shame. How many scandals does it take to get these guys to wake up?

Will anything from these ever be more than a fraud? Let’s keep hoping…

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