Monday, April 6, 2015

Today I taught my students the word "blustery" because I thought they should be able to describe the weather. Of course, it's mainly Americans who talk about the weather. It's a little peculiarity we have. Chinese people prefer to talk about food. But, still... it's a good word. And it was blustery today.

Image result for hebrew bet

This is the second day of the Omer, or maybe the second day of Easter and the third day of the Omer. The temptation to make the 50 days of Easter and the 50 days of the Omer the same is just too great for me. I am declaring it the second day of both. I think I'm wrong on one or the other, but it doesn't matter that much. One of the blessings of not being religious is that you can do whatever you want.

Bet is the second letter of the Aleph Bet, and it's numerical value is 2. If you look carefully you can see that the Bet is made up of three Vavs. It would be a closed letter, like the Mem, except for the open side, the north side.  The three sides that are visible correspond to mind, heart, and action. Those are the levels of revealed consciousness. The north side, unseen, reminds us of the super-conscious and the hidden. The first two words in Torah start with Bet. It is involved with creation.

Bet is also the Hebrew word for house. By house, I mean one's relation to the world. It's not a real house. On a deeper level, all created order is God's house. "My house will be a house of prayer..." says God. Each one of us, as people who pray, make the creation God's house. That is part of dominion.

The main thing about Bet, though, is that it is the first thing that is not Aleph. That is, everything was one before Bet. Bet created reality with its two dimensions: form and matter. It separated the waters into those which are above and those which are below, it gave each soul two aspects: masculine and feminine. It gave us day and night, sun and moon, even good and bad... everything now has something else which is not that thing. Basically, Bet is the gift of otherness.

Sometimes I think otherness gets a bad rap. Even I've been known to say, "There is no other... we are all in this together." And I mean that when I say it. But I also mean to say that the other is necessary, and a gift.

Without the other there are no opposites attracting, no gifting, no loving, no conversations, arguments, friends... I need the others to make me who I am. I find my gifts, learn of my worth, I find my way a lot of times from those around me. I can only love my enemies if I have some enemies. So, thank God for the enemies.

It is only in this state of separation that I can seek the one. 

Seek the one with all your heart. Psalm 119

Image result for shanghai subway trainsIn other news, the subway was crazy tonight. The line 1 train stopped several times for upwards of ten minutes. Everybody who needed to transfer to another line rode all the way to People's Square because it is the last to close. So People's Square was a mad house. Most of us did not make it onto the last train out. That created a mad house of people trying to get a taxi. A black cab offered to take me to Jing'An for 100 RMB but I just laughed at him. He didn't care. He probably made a lot of money tonight. It was cold and rainy, but I just walked home anyway. It's good exercise and it wasn't all that far. Only two subway stops. I have a coat, and an umbrella, and two strong legs. In the overall scheme of things, I'm one of the very lucky ones. But lots of people were mad.

Tomorrow, Gimmel!

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