Friday, May 12, 2017

Parashat Emor: Giving and Receiving Torah

Parashat Emor includes the most concentrated list of festivals in the Torah. Despite its length, it lacks some details regarding Shavuot. First, the Torah does not set a date for holiday; it does not say, “In the third month on the sixth day of the month,” or anything similar. Second, there is no mention, neither here nor anywhere else in the Bible, of Shavuot as the holiday of Matan Torah.
The Torah does not set a date for Shavuot because it can’t. In ancient times, the calendar was not predetermined according to astronomical data. Rather, the beginning of each month was determined by a court, on the basis of testimony given by people who had actually seen the new crescent moon. Therefore, the months did not have a fixed number of days, and the 50th day after Passover could have been on the fifth, sixth of seventh day of the third month.
This ambiguity is especially well-suited to the connection between Shavuot and the giving of the Torah. If we read Exodus 19 carefully – only the text, not in the commentaries – it’s actually unclear on when the revelation at Mount Sinai occurred. The text says: “In the third month after the Israelites had gone forth from the land of Egypt, on that very day, they entered the wilderness of Sinai” but it doesn’t state on what day of the month. Moreover, it’s not exactly clear how many times Moshe ascends and descends the mountain, and how long he remained where he was each time.
The number of preparatory also changes. In Exodus 19:10, the Eternal says: “Go to the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow.” But Moses says, “Let them be ready for the third day” (verse 15). The Talmud (Shabbat 86b-87a) suggests, “Moses added a day of his own accord.” Apparently, Moses felt that the people needed a little more time to get ready and delayed revelation by a day. God accepted his decision and waited. According to this understanding, presented by Rabbi Yossi, the sixth of Sivan is “the day of the giving of our Torah,” the day designated for revelation, but the seventh was “the day of our receiving Torah.”
This situation is very different from the Exodus from Egypt which occurred according to schedule (perhaps even a little before), whether or not the Israelites were ready. Could it be because the Exodus was a process of physical redemption. It is a much more challenging process to “move” an unprepared soul, than an unwilling body.
The rapid exit of Egypt did not yield the expected result. The people continued to complain and revolt. It is possible that the purpose of waiting before the giving of the Torah was to ensure greater success. If so, it’s far certain that the goal was achieved. Shortly after Sinai, came the golden calf.
Let us return for a moment to the words “on that very day” in Exodus 19. On this verse Rashi explains: “It ought to have said only ‘on that day.’ What does ‘that very day’ mean? That the words of Torah should be new to as they were given today.” Acceptance of Torah is a continuous action that requires us to learn, teach, interpret and observe.”
This Saturday night is Lag BaOmer, a day our national memory connects people to Rabbi Akiva, his students, and their role in the Bar Kokhba revolt. However, we should also remember Rabbi Akiva as a person who began his studies at an advanced age.[*]
If we want to be an active part of the Jewish tradition, to renew it and pass it on to future generations, we need to turn the holiday of giving the Torah into a holiday of receiving Torah. We must take our Torah study seriously, and remember that it is never too late to begin.


[*] How did Rabbi Akiva begin? He was 40 years old and an ignoramus. One day he was standing by a well and he saw a stone with grooves in it. When he asked who had made the grooves, he was told that it was the water that fell on it day after day. He thought for a while and asked himself: “Is my heart harder than a stone? If water can make grooves in this stone, the words of the Torah can surely inscribe themselves on my heart.” Immediately he began to learn. – Avot deRabbi Natan 6

Monday, April 17, 2017

חומות של מים: שביעי של פסח תשע"ז

"בכל דור ודור חייב אדם לראות את עצמו כאילו יצא ממצרים" כאילו היה בקריעת ים סוף. לכן קמנו, ועמדנו בזמן שקראנו את שירת הים מספר התורה.
הבה נחזור צעד אחד או שתיים אחורה.
מה הרגיש אדם פשוט שהלך בְּתוֹךְ הַיָּם בַּיַּבָּשָׁה?
מה עברה על אשה שצעדה בעלטה מעבדות לחירות?
לא נוכל לדעת אבל הפסוקים המתארים את קריעת ים סוף רומזים לנו:
וַיּוֹלֶךְ ה' אֶת-הַיָּם בְּרוּחַ קָדִים עַזָּה כָּל-הַלַּיְלָה, וַיָּשֶׂם אֶת-הַיָּם לֶחָרָבָה, וַיִּבָּקְעוּ הַמָּיִם. וַיָּבֹאוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּתוֹךְ הַיָּם בַּיַּבָּשָׁה
רוח אלוהי מרחפת, מבדילה בין מים למים; המים נאספים ומתגלית היבשה.
האם זה נשמע מוכר? חזרנו לבראשית. עשר המכות החזירו את מצריים לתהו ובהו וקריעת ים סוף היא מעשה של בריאה מחודשת.
חשיפת היבשה הייתה הכרחית לבריאתו של עולם יציב שנוכל לחיות בו, וגם להליכתם של בני ישראל אל החירות.
אבל לא אֶל יבשה אני רוצה לכוון את המבט, אלא אֶל המים. בשתי צדדיו של החרבה "הַמַּיִם לָהֶם חוֹמָה מִימִינָם וּמִשְּׂמֹאלָם."
חומות של מים.


Photo Illustration/Paula C. Rondeau/The Real Truth
במצרים ובכל המזרח העתיק מים מסמלים את כחות הכאוס הקדום. כחות שלעתים מֻגְשָׁמִים כלויתן או האלה תיהמת ששמה קשור, ככל הנראה, למילה העברית "תהום."
התנ"ך מדחיק את המיתולוגיה הזאת אבל היא שרדה בישראל ושאריות ממנה צצות מדי פעם, כמו בתהילים פרק ע"ד המספר סיפור בריאה אחרת בו האל משמיד כחות מים קדומים:
וֵאלֹהִים מַלְכִּי מִקֶּדֶם... אַתָּה פוֹרַרְתָּ בְעָזְּךָ יָם, שִׁבַּרְתָּ רָאשֵׁי תַנִּינִים עַל-הַמָּיִם. אַתָּה רִצַּצְתָּ רָאשֵׁי לִוְיָתָן... אַתָּה בָקַעְתָּ מַעְיָן וָנָחַל אַתָּה הוֹבַשְׁתָּ נַהֲרוֹת אֵיתָן.
עם פַרְעֹה וכָל-חֵילוֹ רודפים אחריהם ועם מדבר לפניהם, בני ישראל צעדו בחושך בין חומות של כאוס קדמוני.
מה הרגישו? פחד ואֵימה.
אף על פי כן ולמרות הכל, עבדים משוחררים שמו רגל לפני רגל וביחד התקדמו עד שהגיעו לצד השני.
בזכרון הקולקטיבי של עם ישראל, קריעת ים סוף היא "חוויית מכוננת" או "חוויית יסוד," מְאֹרָע מן העבר שנוכחת בהווה, כפי שהגדירו  הפילוסוף היהודי-גרמני-קָנָדִי אמיל פאקנהיים.  
בספרו  על אמונה והיסטוריה פאקנהיים מביא את קריעת ים סוף כדוגמה ב-הא הידיעה של חווית יסוד ביהדות. הוא מתמקד בחזיון בו ראתה שפחה על הים מה שלא ראה יחזקאל הנביא.
הזרם המרכזי ביהדות, זה שקבע את טקסט התפילה, משמר-מנכיח את קריעת ים סוף כהִתְגַּשְּׁמוּת המיטבית של הכוח האלוהי לגאול.
על זה לא אתווכח אבל אני כן רוצה להוסיף.
לפני שיציאת מצריים הושלמה, לפני "עָזִּי וְזִמְרָת יָהּ"  ו-"זֶה אֵלִי וְאַנְוֵהוּ" היה צבא מצריים הרודף וחומות של מים מאיימים. קודם להתרוממות הרוח, היו אנשים פשוטים פוסעים אט אט בחושך ובבוץ, ותומכים אחד בשני. זה חלק מהסיפור הגאולה שלנו לא פחות משירת הים.
כאשר האי-סדר עולה על הסדר, הבִּיצה מאיימת והערפל מסתיר את אור,
אנחנו יכולים לחזור לסיפור היסוד שלנו, לזכור ולהזכר כי יציאת מצריים קרתה בלילה ובבוץ. גם כאשר אלוהים נסתר מעינינו נוכל לתמוך אחד בשני וביחד לפלס את דרכנו קדימה. אולי נזכה להרגיש נוכחות אלוהית לרגע או לראות אור חיים מפציע קמעה. 

Walls of Water: 7th day of Passover ‎‎2017‎

In every generation, we must each see ‎ourselves as if we left Egypt, as if we ‎crossed the Reed Sea. ‎Therefore, we stand ‎when reading the Song of the Sea from a ‎Torah scroll. ‎

What did an ordinary Israelite feel when ‎crossing the sea on dry land, when walking ‎through the ‎dark towards freedom?‎‏ ‏We cannot know for sure but these verses supply a ‎hint:‎‏ ‏‎
The Eternal drove ‎back the sea with a ‎strong east wind all that night, and ‎turned the sea into dry ground. The ‎waters ‎were split, and the Israelites went ‎into the sea on dry ground”‎‏ ‏‎(Exodus 14:21-22).‎
A wind from God sweeps over the ‎water, divides waters, and gathers ‎them so dry land can appear.‎‏ ‏Does that sound familiar? We have ‎returned to Genesis. The ten plagues ‎undid creation in Egypt. ‎Splitting the sea was ‎a moment of re-creation.‎‏ ‏

Exposing dry land was an essential ‎component of creation just as it was essential for the Israelites’ ‎walk to ‎freedom. Despite this, I want to ‎focus on the waters that “formed a wall for ‎them on their ‎right and on their left” (Exodus 14:22). 
Walls of water. ‎
Photo Illustration/Paula C. Rondeau/The Real Truth
In Egypt and the ancient Near ‎East, masses of water symbolized primordial forces ‎of chaos, ‎sometimes ‎concretized as Leviathan or the mother of the gods ‎Tiamat, whose name is apparently ‎related to the ‎Hebrew word “tahom,” ‎the deep in Genesis 1.‎‏ ‏The Bible generally suppresses this ‎mythology but its ‎memory and a few references ‎survived, including Psalm 74, ‎which tells a different story of creation, ‎in which God decimates primordial water forces:‎
O God, my king from of old…‎‏ ‏‎it was You who drove back the sea ‎with Your might, who ‎smashed the heads ‎of the monsters in the waters;‎‏ ‏‎it was You who crushed the heads ‎of ‎Leviathan, who left him as food for the ‎denizens of the desert;‎‏ ‏‎it was You who released ‎springs and ‎torrents, who made mighty rivers run ‎dry (Ps. 74: 12-15).‎
Facing the desert, with Pharaoh and his ‎army pursuing them, the Israelites ‎marched through the ‎darkness between ‎walls of primordial chaos.‎‏ 
What did they feel? Fear and terror.‎ 
Despite it all, the ‎freed slaves put one ‎foot in front of the other, and walked ‎together until they reached the other ‎side.‎

In the collective memory of the Jewish ‎people, splitting the Reed Sea is a root ‎experience, a ‎commanding event from the past that is ‎accessible in the present, as defined by ‎the Jewish-German-‎Canadian ‎philosopher Emil Fackenheim.
In ‎God’s Presence in History, Fackenheim ‎presents ‎splitting the Reed Sea as the prime ‎example of a root experience in Judaism. ‎He focuses on the ‎vision of the ‎maidservants who saw even what the ‎prophet Ezekiel would not see (as per Mekhilta Shirata 3).‎ ‏ 


The central stream in Judaism, that ‎which formalized our liturgy, preserves ‎the memory of the ‎splitting of the Reed Sea ‎and makes it present as the ultimate ‎realization of God’s saving power.‎‏ 

Without denying their claims, I want to ‎add another layer.‎‏ 

Before the Exodus from Egypt ‎was ‎complete; before “The Lord is my ‎strength and might” and “This is my God ‎who I shall ‎glorify,” the Israelites were surrounded by the Egyptian ‎army and threatening walls ‎of water. ‎Before jubilation, ordinary ‎people slogged through the mud in the dark, ‎supporting each other. ‎These are elements in the story of redemption no ‎less than the Song.‎

When disorder exceeds order, the ‎swamp is threatening and fog hides the ‎light,‎ we can return to our ‎root story, and recall that the ‎Exodus from Egypt happened at night, in ‎the mud. When God is ‎hidden, we ‎can support each other and together ‎forge a way forward. Perhaps we will be ‎able to ‎feel the presence of God for a ‎moment or see the light of life breaking ‎through, just a bit.‎

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Moses: Dedication and Devotion

In a poetic retelling of the exodus from Egypt Abraham Ibn Ezra (Spain, 1089-1164) described Moses as the envoy (tzir) of God (tzur) who saved His flock (tzon) for Egypt (tzar). But Moses’ mission did not end at the crossing of the Red Sea. Throughout the desert period, the Israelites continued to need an envoy to mediate their relationship with God. In his book Moses: Envoy Of God, Envoy Of His People (translated by Perry Zamek) Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein traces the relationship between Moses and Israel from beginning to end. Today’s drasha is based on Lichtenstein’s book with some of my own additions, but to figure what is his and what is mine, you’ll need to read the book.
Two month ago we read about the young Moses who went out to his brethren and people, was horrified by the site, struck a blow, killed and fled. It is usually thought that he fled for fear of the authorities but Lichtenstein adds that he left Egypt because he was discouraged by the Israelites’ unwillingness to rise up against oppression or accept him as their leader.
In Midian, he continues to act on behalf of the weak and comes to the aid of the shepherdesses, which leads to his first meeting with his future farther-in-law, Jethro. He marries, finds a job and settles down as a shepherd. Alone in the desert, he develops his inner life. Years pass.
At the burning bush God calls to Moses and demands that he return to his people and public life. Just as God Himself “comes down” to the people, Moses must go back to Egypt and take on responsibility. Moses hesitates but it was impossible to refuse. At the bush, God promises Moses that once he has taken the people out of Egypt, he will again serve God on that very mountain.
God kept his promise. According to tradition, that mountain was Mt. Sinai, not only the site where the Torah was given but also the mountain in our parasha where Moses begs for the life of the people and also experience the vision of God’s goodness passing before him.
If, for the Israelites, the sin of the Golden Calf was an extreme failure, for Moses it was his greatest hour. After the crisis, Moses rose to even greater heights and merits a unique spiritual experience that leaves his face shining with a divine light. Is there a relationship between these two events? Was Moses’ spiritual elevation the result of his actions following the crisis of the Golden Calf?
According to Lichtenstein, the answer is yes. The supreme dedication that he showed toward the Israelites leads to his reward. The youth who abandoned his brothers and turned his back on them because he was fed up with their apathy and passivity, now risks his life for them. He refuses the Divine offer to become the father of a new people, after the God destroys the stubborn Israelites. With his self-sacrifice, Moses earns a private revelation.  But not immediately.
First, he takes action to end the people’s passivity and teach them to take responsibility, so they can manage without him and won’t ever need another golden calf. He moves the tent of meeting out of the camp. When it was in the midst of the camp, Moses could see and hear much of what was going on and intervene very easily. Now, they will have to manage by themselves. If people need him, they know where to find him, but it will take an effort. Moses risks weakening or even severing his connection to the people but there is no choice.
The Kotzker Rebbe taught: Even though a maidservant at the Sea had a vision greater than that of the prophet Ezekiel, she remained a maidservant. Passive vision is not enough. Acquiring Torah takes effort.
Only after Moses takes steps to ensure the physical and religious survival of the people, does he again ascend the mountain, hide in the crevice and see God’s glory.

Moses learned that serving God begins with serving His people. Public responsibility is an inseparable part of the religious experience. This was true for Moses and it is true for us. We are not Moses and we don’t need to take the Israelites out of Egypt, but there is no shortage of tasks, suited to each person and his or her particular skills. We just need to identify the opportunity and say, “Here I am.” 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Parashat Beshalach: How can we recognize God?

זֶ֤ה אֵלִי֙ וְאַנְוֵ֔הוּ This is my God and I will glorify Him” (Exodus 15:2)
“This” means they pointed, explains Rashi.
Who among the newly-freed slave would have known what God looked like in order to recognize God at that moment?
Not Moses, women.[1]
Women who were afraid to give birth in Egypt lest their newborn be thrown into the sea, went out to the fields to give birth under the trees. To assist them in those difficult conditions, “The Holy Blessed One descended from heaven and cared for them and the newborn as a midwife would do.” (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 11:b).[2]
Therefore, when the Red Sea split they recognized the Saving Power who had attended them as a midwife.

But if you check a standard printed or online Talmud, you find that quote is slightly different: “The Holy Blessed One sent someone from heaven to care for them and the newborn as a midwife would do.” (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 11:b).
Not God himself but a messenger.[3] Apparently, a later scribe or editor was deterred by the concreteness of the original description and toned it down.[4]
After God is identified comes “glorify God.”
How can we glorify God? The sages offer various answers, but I want to focus on the one given by Abba Shaul, “Be like God, just as God is merciful, you should also be” (Mekhilta 15:B).
In attitude and in deeds, as Rabbi Chama said Rabbi Hanina explains elsewhere:
Because God clothes the naked...  you, too, should clothe the naked.
God visits the sick.... you, too, should visit the sick.
God comforted mourners....  you, too, should comfort mourners.
God buries the dead ....  you, too, should bury the dead: (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 14: a)
Here we have three different ways (but not contradictory) to experience the divine presence in the world:
Directly, mediated by the loving kindness we receive from others, and actively by helping others.
Only the last is in within our control.
When we feel helpless against the forces of evil (Pharaoh) or chaos threatens to either side (the water standing on either side when crossing the Red Sea), when our way to “This is my God” is blocked, we can still live in the loving kindness we want to see and feel the world.
That depends on us alone, and it holds within it the hope of making God's presence felt in the world.

Notes
[1] “A maid-servant at the sea saw more than Isaiah, Ezekiel and all the other prophets.” Mekhilta Beshalach 3.
[2]  According to the manuscripts, see Joshua Levinson, The Twice-Told Tale, page 299. I thank Dr. Gila Vachman, of the Schechter Institute and Project Zug for the reference.
[3] Heavenly or human? Does it matter? See Parashat Vayeshev: Humans and angels.
[4] Or by the fact that the sages, who always spoke about God using masculine language, here attribute to God a clearly feminine role.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Bush Still Burns

Originally written for Erev Shabbat 31 Dec. 1999
The crossing of the Reed Sea and Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai are the major root ‎experiences of the Jewish people – earth shattering events in which the entire population ‎participated and which shaped our collective memory ever after. In this week’s reading, ‎we find a much smaller, quieter theophany, without which the others never would have ‎been. I am referring to the Burning Bush.  ‎
Moses is shepherding his father-in-law’s flocks, earning his keep and dreaming whatever ‎dreams a fugitive pseudo-prince doing manual work might dream when he sees an ‎amazing site: a bush that burns but not consumed. ‎
Moses must have given that bush more than a passing glance in order to see that it was ‎not consumed. Careful observation, attention to detail was necessary. Not only did Moses ‎observe the bush closely enough to see that it was not being consumed but he also ‎appreciated the wonder before his eyes and took the time to acknowledge it and attempt to ‎understand it: “I will turn aside now and see this great site, why the bush is not burnt.”‎
This attentiveness was, apparently, one of the qualities that God was looking for in a ‎leader. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the ‎bush and said “Moses, Moses.” Moses immediately recognizes that he is being called and ‎modestly hides his face in awe. God begins by reviewing the sorry state of Israel in Egypt ‎and proposes sending Moses to Pharaoh in order to facilitate their release. Moses ‎responds by asking, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring forth ‎the children of Israel?” God’s response is does not directly answer that question – He ‎knows that Moses knows perfectly well that he was once a member of Pharaoh’s ‎household and has a far better chance than any other Israelite of getting through the ‎door. God simply promises: “Certainly I will be with you…” ‎
However, this is far from the end of the dialogue. Moses tacitly accepts the mission but ‎does not run off to start immediately. First, he prepares himself by anticipating potential ‎reactions and “rehearsing” appropriate responses:” When I come to the people of Israel, ‎what should I say to them.” “Thus shall you say, ‘I AM sent me to you,” as well as signs and wonders (visual effects).
Although the moment is certainly one of great import for the people of Israel, the story of ‎the bush, like much of the Torah, may be read on another level, one we could call ‎‎“personal/spiritual” or, more traditionally, “the deeds of the ancestors are signposts for ‎their descendants.”  In this reading, Moses is not the “historical” Moses but rather a ‎prototype for “every-person” and God speaks from within. The revelation at the Burning ‎Bush is a prototype for the moment, or the process, by which a person recognizes his/her ‎calling in life. ‎
Attentiveness is the first requirement for recognizing “the moment.” The attentiveness may ‎be internal or external, depending on the situation, but it is essential. ‎
Hesitation is a normal, human response to a major decision or undertaking, but this ‎hesitation should not prevent us from doing what we know we must do, just as Moses ‎accepted the challenge because he knew that it was the right thing to do. ‎
Anticipation and preparation are also critical elements in success of any mission
Yuval, Parashat Shemot is your parasha not only because this is your Bar Mitzvah week ‎but also because it suits you so well. Moses may be a rather large role-model but he is ‎truly your role model, nonetheless. We do not need to teach you about the importance of ‎attentiveness or how to observe and understand the world, especially the physical world, ‎around you. You could probably teach most of us a thing or two about that. You have also ‎begun to understand how anticipation and participation can help you to overcome ‎hesitation and obstacles. ‎
Thirteen years ago at your brit we sang:‎
Those that have come to Thee under your covenant are circumcised.‎The redeemed sang a new song to your name.‎They show their token to all who see them, making tassels on the corners of their ‎garment (talit).‎The redeemed sang a new song to your name.‎
Thirteen years ago, the winter was cold, wet and windy enough to blow the roof off. We ‎wrapped you in blankets and held you close to protect you for danger. Now, we have ‎given you a talit in which to wrap yourself, and you have helped tie its special tzitzit with a thread of blue. 
It bears God’s promise “Certainly I will be with ‎you…” 

Equipped with attentiveness, anticipation and preparation, may you go forth, as an ‎adolescent and an adult, strengthened by a foundation of family, tradition, community ‎and nation on which you will build your future. ‎
 ‎

Friday, December 23, 2016

Parashat Vayeshev: Humans and angels

It’s hard to know what was in Jacob’s mind when he sent Joseph to check on his brothers and the flocks, because the Torah tells us explicitly that he was aware of the jealousy and tension between them: “So his brothers were wrought up at him, and his father kept the matter in mind.” (Genesis 37:11). It’s even less clear whether Joseph was aware of the risk because he seems rather oblivious to the sensitivity of the situation. In any case he answers his father, “Here I am” and goes off towards an encounter that will be no less pivotal than the binding of Isaac.
Joseph doesn’t find his brothers easily because they aren’t in the Nablus region as expected but rather they are farther from the Hebron Valley, in Dotan. The commentator Rashbam understands this is as a credit to Joseph who does not want to return to his father without completing his task. At precisely the right moment, the right person sees him wandering, asks what he is looking for, and is indeed able to give the correct answer. The coincidence is so amazing that Rashi claims, “It was Gabriel,” an angel. However, Ibn Ezra stubbornly insists on reading the verse, “according to its simple meaning, a passerby.”
But what if there is no disagreement between them? Perhaps the passerby is an angel?
The word מלאך malach in the Bible is a messenger, earthly or heavenly. Jacob saw God’s angels both in his dream of the latter reaching to heaven, and when he began his return home: “Jacob went on his way, and angels of God encountered him.” (Genesis 32:2). Two verses later (but in the next parasha) we read: “Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau” (32:4). Here there is no doubt that Jacob has dispatched people, presumably his servants.
Then that night the Ford of Jabbok: “Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn” (Genesis 32:25). “A man.” However, at first light, he turned out to be an angel.
Person. Angel. Angel. Person.
How can we tell the difference?
Did Jacob know that he was fighting an angel all night or only at the end?
Did the passerby on the way to Nablus know that he was a divine messenger and understand the role he was playing in carrying out the divine plan?[*]
I don’t know.
Perhaps the message here is that each and every person can serve as an angel or divine messenger, without even being aware of it.
The passerby on the way to Nablus was aware of his environment. He saw Joseph wandering, he approached him, he asked, and he helped. Most likely, he never knew the outcome of his actions.
Every day, in every place many things happen, large and small, mostly small.

Who knows? Perhaps if we direct our attention and respond appropriately we will discover that we, too, are angels.[†]
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* For the argument’s sake, let us assume that a divine plan forward is a good thing, even if the immediate results are undesirable.
† Chuck Brodsky, We Are Each Other’s Angels: “We are each other’s angels, and we meet when it is time. We keep each other going, and we show each other signs.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8w8Iaj9so