Mar 30, 2022
1 mins read
One text leads to another, faces are masks are words are invitations are interpretations. We go on a journey within Jewish law and lore, from wedding feasts to Purim costumes to heretical readings of the Torah.
The biggest heresy seems to be reading the Torah literally - 'face value'. Or being bored by the Torah. And the most intimate joyous relationship with the Torah is seeing her like a wedding guest, a friend, an infinite ocean of newness. Ever new faces.
Ok, if you want to know what I'm talking about, I suggest you look through the sourcesheet I prepared here. And / or listen to the podcast on 58th Century Judaisms: buzzsprout / apple / spotify / google .
It's springtime. There's something new coming. The texts I brought referred to Shabbat as being a 'new face'. The earliest mention I can find of this is quoted by Rabbi Isaac of Dampierre in the 12th century:
דאמרינן באגדה מזמור שיר ליום השבת אמר הקב"ה פנים חדשות באו לכאן נאמר שירה התם נמי מרבין לכבוד השבת בשמחה ובסעודה
"It is said in the legends that when God saw Shabbat, God said: a new face has arrived! Let us sing! Therefore we too increase joy and meals on Shabbat." (Tosafot, Ketubot 7b)
It's strange because rather than see God as the creator of Shabbat, God seems to be surprised and inspired by it. We are entering the month of Nissan this weekend, the 'new year of kings and feasts', according to the mishnah. There's a blessing to say on encountering blossom on the trees, 'for nothing is lacking in this world' - as if we are surprised and inspired that the seasons still work.
I know the world is still a mess. The wars are raging, refugees arriving, the virus is spreading (I'm just recovering myself), the economies are shaky, the icecaps are melting. But there are moments - and they don't negate the challenges - there are moments sitting in the sunshine in the park, flowering trees around, and I feel - 'new faces have arrived'.
Let me know your thoughts and questions and faces, wish you a happy new year,