Friday, August 05, 2011

Harvesting Grapes

Four years ago I planted a couple stubby grape vines.

Four years later, they are HUGE, covering our entire deck in a giant embrace.

We have been staring at these luscious bunches, wondering when is the right time to harvest them?

The birds and bees have also taken notice, so the time to harvest got decided for us - now or never!

Yummmm. Sweet white grapes, sweet reds.

It was a long wait, those four years, but so worth it.

What a great way to pass the time on a summer day.

Yes, we know they're starving in Africa. We know that millions are unemployed. But to suckle a piece of fruit after four years of waiting, that's a sweet moment.

It's all going to end next Monday night.

"Next Monday night?" you ask....

If you have to ask, you have to read this.

Next Monday night is the 9th of Av

So what?

It takes enormous effort to connect with this holiday.

Even if you consider yourself "Jewishly connected".

Is it worth the effort?

Here's a story you can read at the table. See how people react.

Imagine the Taliban were to conquer America.

Would our lives really change that much?

Well, we can assume that they would move quickly to abolish Hollywood, destroy museums, dismantle universities. Probably convert all synagogues and churches into mosques.

Now just imagine that you join a few families on a boat to escape. You set sail for the South Pacific. You are hoping that the forces of Good will triumph, but in the meantime, you're saving your own skin. Nothing wrong with that.

But the forces of Good do not get the upper hand so quickly.

Not even in your lifetime.

Nor your children's lifetime.

Not even your grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

So your great-great-grandchildren are born on this South Pacific atoll, they have a decent life with plenty to eat and great surfing. They hear stories from their parents and grandparents about where the family came from, a place called Amerika where there were amazing cities, magical technologies, etc. etc. But that all this was destroyed by the Taliban.

It would be very hard for your great-great-grandchildren to relate to these stories as much more than legends.

That's what Jewish history is for us. We are so far removed from what was, we have almost no appreciation for what was lost.

Why bother?

Because when the Taliban are eventually overthrown, a boat will be coming to offer us passage back home. If we don't appreciate what we lost, we won't want to get on that boat.

Think about it.

The very best things in life often take years of toil and patience before they are ready for harvest.

Three things for your perusal:

1. Here is a packet of Tisha B'Av readings that I compiled for you. I've uploaded it to our jewishspirituality.net teacher-parent resources page.

2. Here is a class I gave in Los Angeles on the topic of how to find a silver lining in any tragedy.
99¢ link .... Free link
(Why a paid download alongside the free one? The first download is for those who recognize the costs incurred in creating and sending you this content and choose to support it. But there will be no hard feelings if you take the latter!)
3. Here is a video by the incomparable Charley Harary:


Shabbat Shalom

PS - Did you know you can send someone my amazing Jewish iphone/ipad app even if you don't use the iphone/ipad yourself? Here's the link.

For the biggest enjoyment of this email, try printing it out and sharing at your dinner table.

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